Tuesday, January 26, 2010

guest post

This past Saturday, friends of ours threw a party for their daughter, who just had her first birthday (I had to miss it because I went to Syracuse, New York to pick up a dress but that's a story for another post). In lieu of more traditional birthday presents, they asked that friends and family bring something to put in a "time capsule" that their daughter would open on her 13th birthday.

I think this is a fabulous idea.

My oldest son, who is 11 years old, wrote the following letter to accompany our gift. With his permission, I share it (un-edited) now with you:

Dear F.,

If you are reading this, we presume you are 13 years of age. The other main option is that you peeked, and that you do not truly deserve to keep this gift. On the other hand, you probably feel you were stiffed present-wise, since all the gifts you received at the age of one were hidden from you until now, countless adults taking advantage of your infanthood because they're your "friends and family."

Well, it's finally paid off. If you are reading this letter, your gift is either in front of you or being handled by your parents, who are about middle-aged by now. Our present is a contribution to the "time capsule" your parents constructed 12 years ago, when you looked more like a little pink thing than a real person. We chose to put comic books in your capsule.

The first item in this package is a graphic novel entitled "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life." It is intended to be read over and over again, or at least once if you don't like it. It is a favourite in my family, and I think you will enjoy it, too.

Second, you will find an issue of "PVP", which stands for "Player Versus Player." This is a reference to video games. In this comic, you will find countless references to the pop culture and technology of 2010. It's also pretty darn funny.

Finally, you will find a copy of the first issue of "Siege." I'm not sure what it's about, but what I do know is that it is a massive crossover event in comics. By the time you receive this, it might be worth something. Keep it in good condition.



Your friends, the K-Ws.

Friday, January 22, 2010

a perfect evening

The kind when conversation flows easily along with the wine, all accompanied byexcellent food. Where all the kids get along and the adults are left to talk about books, movies and travel. The kind of evening when three and half hours goes by like five minutes and the time to go comes in what feels like the blink of an eye.

And you have your boots on at the door by 9:06pm.

I remember when Friday nights out didn't get going until after 11:00 and a 1:00am curfew seemed completely unfair. When we danced until the music stopped and got up to the kinds of things that make me dread my own children's adolescence.

It's one of Mother Nature's little ironies that by the time we are mature enough to behave responsibly our definition of a late night (and of a perfect one) has been irrevocably changed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

in other news

I was felled by a yucky stomach bug this week and really didn't feel much like blogging. It's the price I pay for a weakened immune system. My older son is home sick today, too. Not sure what his excuse is.

Also, my spouse is in Florida. As far as I know, he's not sick.

To compensate for my bitterness at having been struck down during a week of single parenting (I know, some of you have to deal with this kind of thing all the time), I thought I would show off a little.

Here is my latest clapotis. I made it for my mom.

She thinks she's not very photogenic but I think she's lovely.

I made this thing on tiny (2.75mm, if you care about these things) needles and a laceweight (read very fine) yarn. It nearly killed me.

I was working on it during chemo one day and one of the pharmacists, herself a knitter, shook her head and exclaimed, "You must really love your mother!"

I do.

And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing this as a laceweight (not just because it takes forever but because fixing errors is a painstaking process) but I am very pleased with the end results. The yarn is an alpaca and silk blend from Knit Picks and the scarf is soft, airy and has a lovely drape.

I think I am addicted to the clapotis. Although I'll do it in a thicker yarn and on bigger needles (the original was done in my much thicker yarn). Doing this on sock yarn will feel like a breeze.

And did you note the state of my walls?

I have been stripping wallpaper. It's part of a project that a friend is helping with (I know that should be "with which a friend is helping" but that felt awkward. Just want you sticklers to know that I am aware that I'm taking liberties). She offered to "paint a room" in my house in exchange for a bunch of kids' stuff we'd outgrown.

I definitely got the better end of that deal. We got a bunch of stuff out of our house and she has already devoted two afternoons to scraping the wallpaper in my hallway - on two floors and up the stairs.

I have to admit that I have never undertaken this kind of project before and I'm actually enjoying it. On our second afternoon we used "Concentrated Wallpaper Remover" from the hardware store and the hard-to-scrape stuff just melted off. Very cool. I hope it's not too terribly toxic. There didn't seem to be any fumes. It kind of smelled like dish soap.

There's another hour of stripping to do and then I gather everything has to be washed, then primed then painted. And then it will all look so good that the rest of the house will seem really dingy in contrast.

Finally, I feel like I can't conclude this post without mentioning the horrific situation in Haiti. Please give what you can, to a reputable organization.

When the Yarn Harlot sent out the "knit signal" last week, I was prompted to direct my money to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). They are already set up to help and do excellent work aroun the world.

Click here to donate in Canada, the United States or everywhere else in the world (find your country in the menu on the left). The Harlot mentioned in her post that it is most helpful if you direct your donation to "Emergency Relief" or "Greatest Needs" instead of to a specific project.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

canada reads 2010

Last year, I challenged myself to read all the books selected for Canada Reads 2009. There was only one that I didn't finish (Mercy Among The Children by David Adams Richards) but that was because it was just too relentlessly depressing for me. I had to call it at page 64.

The book that won, The Book Of Negroes (published as Someone Knows My Name in most other countries) by Lawrence Hill had been my favourite read of 2008, so I was happy to see it selected as the winner. I also really enjoyed both runners up - The Outlander by Gil Adamson and and Fruit: A Novel About A Boy And His Nipples by Brian Francis.

It was so interesting to listen to the debate. I had been sure that The Outlander would come second and was surprised when it was beaten by Fruit, which I had read very quickly.

But you know what? A year later, Fruit has stayed with me. It was funny, yes, but also poignant and powerful in a way that I didn't realize as I read it. A year later, and I can still recall all the characters and events very vividly.

This year there are again five books to read. I've already read one of them (Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which was brutal but I loved it) and I'm about half way through Nikolski by Nicholas Dickner (I'm reading it in the original French, as I did with last year's La grosse femme d'à coté est enceinte, by Michel Tremblay and published in English as The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant).

Last year, I came across a Canada Reads challenge hosted by Melanie and Alexis of Roughing It In The Books. It was fun and I've signed up again this year. To participate, send an email to melanie AT roughingitinthebooks DOT com. All are welcome. Last year, I won a prize (thanks to Melanie's daughter for drawing my name out of a hat. She chewed on it a little first. It was sweet).

To do the Roughing It In The Books challenge, all books must be read by March 6. Canada Reads will take place from March 8-12 on CBC radio. If you live outside the listening area, you can download the podcasts or catch it all online.

Shall we read some books together?

The Books:

Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, defended by Perdita Felicien

The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy, defended by Samantha Nutt

Generation X by Douglas Coupland, defended by Roland Pemberton

Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott, defended by Simi Sara

Nikolski by Nicholas Dickner, defended by Michel Vézina

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Last week, a comment was left on my blog that really moved me. It linked to BrCa: Blog on Risk, Cancer and Anxiety (it's an excellent resource if you are interested in learing more about genetic testing and the genes that carry breast cancer).

It seems that the 29 year old woman who writes the blog has been reading mine for a long time. Last week was the first time that she left a comment and it was to tell me about a post she'd written about my blog, called Blogs that inspire me: Not Just About Cancer.

I was so touched by this post. And so pleased to learn that some of my writing has been helpful to others looking for answers.

I write to fill my own needs, of course but it does motivate me to keep going when I learn that I have been striking a chord with others.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the world needs a little more silliness

Formspring is a nifty new site that allows folks to ask each other questions. I'm still figuring it out but it seems like harmless fun.

Go ahead, ask me anything: http://formspring.me/lauriek

I don't promise to answer every question but I will answer the ones that intrigue me.

Have you tried out Formspring? What do you think?

(Oh, and in case you're wondering, this post was not prompted by any contact from Formspring. I just read about it a few times and my curiosity was peaked enough to try it out).

Monday, January 11, 2010

coming soon: 10th annual conference for young women affected by breast cancer!

Last winter, I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend the 9th Annual Conference For Young Women Affected By Breast Cancer in Dallas, Texas.

It was an amazing experience.

I expected to learn a lot and I really, really did.

I hoped to be inspired and I was, beyond my wildest expectations.

I didn't think about it being fun but it really, really was.

The sessions I attended were informative, entertaining and gave me great hope. I met some terrific women. And more than once, I laughed until I cried (I will not soon forget the pajama party hosted by Pure Romance. The experience defies explanation but they're doing it again this year, so come and join in the fun). I came home with a pink cowboy hat and a renewed determination to live well.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the conference and it will take place from February 26-28 in Atlanta, Georgia. If you were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45, this conference is for you. Last year, there were more than 1,000 women in attendance from all over the world who have been affected by breast cancer in a multitude of ways. It meant so much to me to see all these beautiful women, at different stages of treatment and to see other women with metastasis living their lives to the fullest.

It was a great conference, co-sponsored by Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Young Survival Coalition, two groups that do excellent work.

I have a scholarship to go again this year. If you have been on the fence about attending - hop off and come join me.

If you are planning to go, leave a message in the comments or send me an email (laurie dot kingston at gmail dot com) or a direct message on Twitter (lauriek). Or if you're at the conference and you spot a blonde woman with red glasses alternating between knitting and taking notes, come on over and say 'hi.'

Friday, January 08, 2010

survivors' review

I have a guest post up at Survivors' Review, a wonderful blog that "encourages the creative expression of cancer survivors."

My piece
, which is in the section called "Write Now!" is about my take on the importance of writing for cancer survivors and includes a few of my favourite (and completely unoriginal) writing prompts. And, I have to admit, that when I look at the list on the bottom of the page of former contributors to the column, I am tickled, well - tickled pink, I guess.

My book also tops the list in the Resources section of the Review.

I feel good about this. It's a nice thing to have happen at the end of a hard week.

Monday, January 04, 2010

keeping it specific in 2010

It's time to dip my toe back into the regular writing of this blog by letting you know that I have scaled way back on the New Year's resolutions this year.

In 2008, I had a list.

Last year, I resolved to "treat my body as well as I treat my mind." Since I gained at least 10 pounds (I'm afraid to get on the scale) and even more than that since my breast cancer diagnosis in early 2006, abandoned yoga and did no strength or core training, I was inclined to view this year as an abject failure on the resolution front. But then my spouse reminded me that I rode my bike pretty much everywhere between April and the first snow. Also, I ran regularly throughout the summer (this was brought to a halt by H1N1 but I'll start again) and cooked more than I ever have in my life.

So I've decided to tell myself that I did OK.

But this year, I have decided to be very realistic and specific in my goal. This year, I resolve to make soup.

Yesterday's soup was lentil carrot, from "Cooking With Foods That Fight Cancer."

Soup-making is creative and provides right-brain stimulating repetitive motion. Soup is generally healthful and inexpensive to make. But really, I just feel like making soup.

I'm going to make soup at least 20 times this year (every other week, less in the summer).

Have you made any goals for 2010?