Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sunday December 7

This morning I get to church early to shop at the Girl Effect sale.  This raises money to help girls in developing countries gain access to education.  There are so many beautiful things to consider for Christmas gifts here.  I make progress with my shopping, and feel good that I have supported a worthy cause.

As I walk with the children to chapel this morning, my feet feel swollen and fizzy.  This must be from all the dancing I did last night.  I feel like I am waddling across the floor, my feet tender and unstable.  I make it though the morning with no other problems until it is time to leave.  My feet are throbbing now.  Alex has come to pick me up, I walk slowly out to the car.  I am feeling fragile and aged.

When we arrive home, my other visiting nurse, Summer, is at the door ringing the bell.  I have made it back just in time.  She unhooks me, freeing me from my backpack.  Even though I have had this pump and backpack twice a month for three days for the past five months, I still forget it is attached to me and try to walk away from it at least once a day.  It is a bother to have to dress around it, pump going through my clothing first, then me, and to have it on, then take it off and put it on again every time I add a layer of clothing.  I have started wearing it in the car, because this is often where I forget  I have it, and leave the pack on the floor as I start to get out, only to be reminded by the tug to the port near my shoulder I have forgotten to pick it up.  It is a small, but nagging thing.  It grumbles every few seconds as the medicine is delivered to my veins.  I need to be aware of where it is all the time, so I don't pull on my port.  I have become very good at sleeping on my back, checking to see where my line is before I turn on my side, and remembering in the dark of the night that I need to carry this baggage into the bathroom with me when I go.  At one point I thought I had come up with a good substitute to the backpack, a hoodie pocket.  This only works if the hoodie has a spacious pocket, which many of my hoodies lack.  It may seem at this point it is not worth complaining about, but I am getting tired of it.

Francis stops by to visit just as I finish my lunch.  She has found some tea for me with a picture of a fox on the box!  Such a thoughtful gift.  We sit and visit for a little while, Francis sipping tea, and me finishing the hot cocoa I had been working on before she rang the doorbell.

Having friends stop by for a quick visit has been one of the sweetest gifts this cancer odyssey has given me.  Normally I am so busy, and seldom home to enjoy random visits, but I love when people just drop in.  They may stay only ten minutes, sometimes more, but each visit is this little cozy point of contact that is precious and appreciated. 

I find out later in the day that my Grandma Boyd, my father's mother, passed away early this morning.  She was 92.


My nephew Brian comes to play with the children at daycare.  It is fun to have him visit, and nice to have a place he can come and have some fun.  It gives my sister Jill the opportunity to get a few things done without help from a four year old, which she seldom has the chance to do in Ohio.

Today we are starting to work on gifts for our parents.  We are painting bowls which we will later fill with some kind of tasty treat.  I love to see how each child mixes their paints and dabs color on their project.  They are all as unique and beautiful as the child who has created it.

It is forecast to rain all week, so we want to get out for a nice long walk today.  We take a candy walk to get everyone on board with this idea, and get a red or green m&m when we reach each corner together.  We look for new holiday decorations that have been set out over the weekend, and see a few snowflakes falling from the sky.

Kaileigh comes down later in the day so we can go together to visit with a friend who is in the hospital.  Ayla, Chauncey and I stopped by to visit last night, and Kaileigh wants to come with me tonight.  I had been planning on going out to eat with my happiness friends to celebrate the holidays, but cancel.


There is as nor'easter coming, meaning rain most of the day.  It is not too cold out, so we manage to go for a rain walk around the block today.  Somehow, we don't get too wet.

This evening I know there are not going to be too many people at knitting, so I decide to cancel.  Between the weather and the number of knitters who can't make it, I don't think anyone will be too upset.  My friend is still in the hospital, so Ayla go to visit.  Things are looking better, tomorrow he will be heading home.

When I get back to my house, I check the basement for water.  Occasionally when there is a nor'easter we get a little water down there, just a small stream running from the west to the east.  I had checked before I left and all was dry, so I am totally unprepared for what I find when I open the basement door.  There must be two inches of water at the bottom of the stairs! Steve and I start in right away cleaning it up, he vacuums, I start throwing away books and papers that have been saturated with water.  We can't figure out where the water has come in from.

I help out until eleven thirty and go to bed, Steve is determined to stop when he empties the wet vac twenty times.  He empties it at least thirty before he gets to bed.


I get up at six and start straightening.  As soon as Sara arrives I descend into the basement to continue the cleanup. I only get a little done before Steve hears me and comes down to help.  I go back upstairs to help bake cookies.

My niece Julia is coming by to stay with us today.  She has been having a rough time at home, and needs a little time away.  Since all of our spare rooms are filled at the moment, we put an air mattress in the upstairs hallway.  This is where Josh and Kaileigh sleep when they stay in Providence.  It is tight, but we make it cozy with blankets and pillows.  She should be comfortable here.

Grandma Boyd's wake is tonight.  It is at the same funeral home my dad's wake was held at.  It is nice to see all of the Boyd relatives again, the second time this week.  The circumstances could be better though. 

My aunt tells me that grandma passed early Sunday morning, after Sara's party.  She was with family, at home and surrounded by people who knew and loved her. What a beautiful ending to a life that was filled with family, good humor and loving family and friends.

When I get home, I go down into the basement to get more cleaning done.  Steve takes a pile of wet clothes to the laundromat.  On his way there, he forgets about the huge pot hole on the side road and drives through it. Just as he reaches the laundromat, the tire goes flat.  A tow truck comes to take the car away, but he still needs a ride home.  My niece comes to his rescue, and picks him up.  What a day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Saturday, December 6

I wake at four this morning which is my usual time the day after chemo.

I love this time of day, and miss having the energy to get up this early more regularly. I love to see the daylight start to creep into the darkened sky, to watch the stars slowly disappear.  I appreciate the shorter days for this, it is something I often miss in the hazy, long days of summer. 

I wake up with chemo stink. something I haven't had to endure for the past few weeks, thanks in part to a cold, and to having a week off.  I am not feeling as tingly this morning, when I wake up there is no buzziness or fizziness.  The extra week has been good for my body, mind and soul.

Anna picks me up to go shopping, we missed last week, so it is nice to have this time together.

Allie picks me up shortly after my shopping trip, and we head out to Allie's Donuts in North Kingston.  She has been craving a treat from here, and we decide it is a good destination to have to practice highway driving.  Even though it is a Saturday morning in December, a time the roads could be crawling with holiday shoppers, the highway is not too crowded, and she does well.  We each get a donut, Allie picks up a few extra for home.  We agree that these freshly made donuts blow away thosen   from Dunkin Donuts.

When I get home, my younger sister Jill calls to see if I can help transport balloons.  She is throwing a surprise party for Sara tonight at the Filibuster Club in Cumberland.  I am very nervous about this party, since my sister Sara has told me she does not want a surprise party.  Jill and I disagree about what this means this, I am trying to be helpful anyway.

Steven and I meet Jill at the party store to pick up one hundred balloons she has ordered as the decoration for the space.  When we go into the store, it is obvious that they are not done with the order yet, in fact they are only about half way though.  Jill and I wait until they have enough strung and bundled for us to cram into the two cars we are using.  I manage three bunches in my car, Jill fits two in hers.  We drive to the club, unload and go back for the remaining bunches of balloons.  Steven and I drop the balloons off and return home.  I need to bake some brownies to bring with me to the party this evening.

Sara has been told that there is a pot luck celebration being held to celebrate my dad this evening.  I need to make this look authentic, so I bake brownies that we don't really need.  The event is being catered, complete with dessert, as well as a birthday cake.  Sara is bringing bakery pizza and calzones to the party.  I put the brownies in the oven late, so we won't show up at the party too early.  We are supposed to be there at six thirty, but Sara is coming to my house at six.  Steven and I timed how long it takes to get to the club from my house, and even though it is in Cumberland, it only takes a little more than ten minutes if we go through Central Falls.  The brownies are done just as Sara gets to my house, so I ask her if we can let them cool for a few minutes before we leave.  We arrive at the party, with a texted warning to those waiting that we are on our way, just as the clock in the car hits six thirty.

As we walk in the door, Sara spots the balloons and slows down.  Everyone yells surprise as she makes her way through the second set of double doors.  I believe she is!  The biggest surprise comes when Jill sneaks up behind her with her son, and taps Sara in the shoulder.  Sara didn't know that Jill was in town yet, she was expecting her later in the week.

The room is filled with family and friends.  It is lit with icicle lights, and there is a Christmas tree.  Each table has a white tablecloth on it with a balloon bouquet in the center. There are other balloons scattered around the club.  It looks very festive.  Jill has hired DJ's for the event, Phil and Dave, who were good friends with our Dad.

The night turns out to be a nice party for Sara, and a joyful celebration of my dad as well.  We eat delicious food, mingle with family and friends and then the dancing and karaoke begins. Singers of all ages line up to karaoke.: young cousins, teens, twentysomethings and beyond. Since many of the people at this party knew my dad and spent time with him here, Phil and Dave play music from his personal playlist.  My dads friends sang some of his favorite songs, and the DJ's played a compilation of songs he loved too.  It was a touching tribute to our dad, and made it feel like he was with us, joining in the celebration for my sister.

Once the music a started, I quickly realized why Dr. Safran didn't think running would be the best exercise choice for me.  Every step I danced sent a sudden intense fizziness through my feet and up my ankles into my calves.  It probably would have been better if I had stayed on the sidelines and just enjoyed everyone else as they danced, but that was not what I chose to do.  I got up with my children, Steve, and Filipa and danced.  We were joined by other family and friends, and we had a blast.  It was so much fun to let go and move to the music.  We even tried the line dances that we didn't know.  My nephew, Will decided to help with the music and chose some tunes just for us.  We were all psyched when they played What Does the Fox Say?

By nine, it is late for this dancing chemo girl.  As I go around the room to say my goodbyes, Filipa gets up to sing a karaoke song, Don't Stop Me Now.  What a good way to end the evening.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Chemo # 11

Friday, December 5

My appointment is early this morning, eight o'clock.  I am in and all hooked up by eight thirty.  My white blood cell count is good this morning, in the fifteen hundreds, yay!  The extra week off has been good for me.

Steven and I have walked in this morning and I am in a pensive mood, not in the mood for talking or listening.

Carolyn is my nurse today, and since I arrived so early, I get my choice of pods.  They are expecting a busy day, so I am in the Mega Suite, where the rooms are larger than where I usually am.  I choose the one in the corner, which has lots of light.  It is like the penthouse suite of pods here, extra window and floor space.  There are two visitor chairs here, and it is just big enough that I can't toss my trash into the basket from my lounge chair.  This is something I usually have no problem with in the other pods.

I got up late this morning and barely had time to get everything ready before I left, never mind eat breakfast.  It was a chilly walk over, so I am hoping there is hot chocolate mix and something breakfasty to eat in the snack area.  Steven goes to see what is available, while Carolyn and I talk about holiday plans and how we are doing with our shopping and wrapping.  There turns out to be nothing for me in snack land, nothing that would pass for breakfast. 

Steve decides to go to Seven Stars and get me a hot chocolate, with whipped cream.  He also surprises me with a pecan sticky bun and a chocolate croissant.  I take the sticky bun and let him have the croissant.

It is a quite day for us at chemo, I knit, and Steven tells me what has been going on in the world of face book and on the internet.

I am not excited about lunch today.  The thought of the food cart makes me feel a little nauseous.  This is one of those conundrums where the solution to the problem also becomes the problem. I need to eat to keep the nausea away, thinking about the food I am offered to eat makes me feel nauseous.  In the end, I get an egg salad sandwich, and eat it very slowly.

I have forgotten to bring my backpack which contains the pump I need for receiving my infusion over the next few days, as well as my psi bands.  Steve goes home to get them for me while I am eat.  By the time he returns, I have managed to eat my sandwich, but that is the best I can do.  I put on my psi band and get ready for the chemo induced stupor to begin.

I am hooked up to my pump by quarter to two, which means I will finish getting my infusion by quarter to twelve on Sunday.  This will be before I get done at church, so I should remember to call Sandy on Sunday morning.

This evening Allie is in a play called Harvey.  I have been invited to see it with her mother and grandmother.  Steve usually comes with me to her plays, but has a story to cover this evening, so I accept the invitation.

Allie has been telling me she doesn't have a big part in the play, but I have learned from past experience that our definition of importance of parts differs.  It turns out she is on the stage for the whole first scene, part of the background action, but on the stage never the less.  She is also in another entire scene, playing the doctor's wife, which may not be the lead role, but is certainly substantial.  Her humbleness is so sweet.

I have never seen the movie this play is based on, but I enjoy it very much.  I appreciate how quaintly dated it is, and how it is still relevant to today.  It has been fun to watch it with Allie's grandmother, who is an avid theater goer, and hear her opinions about the performance.  Along with Allie's mother, we discus things we liked and disliked about the play and how it was presented.  In the end, we all agree it was well done.  Our little fan club/theater discussion group has had as pleasant a night out as we would have had going to a well known theater. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday, December 1

This has been a quiet week in my journal.  I don't have many details written down, only bits and pieces of what has been going on.  At home, life goes on as usual, but there are bigger things in the world to focus on: protests reminding us of how much we still need to learn about how to treat our fellow human beings, news of disease, unrest, and war.

Still there are a bright spots that stand out.

At daycare we start thinking about the upcoming holidays, crafting simple things like paper trees decorated with markers, stickers and circle shaped ornaments.  We make paper chains, and look for decorations while we are out on our walks.

It has been a funny fall.  The weather has been so warm we still find pumpkins scattered throughout the neighborhood. The appearance of evergreens and holiday lights on porches adorned with pumpkins seems wrong somehow.  I remind myself that it is still fall after all and the pumpkins can enjoy their time, as I secretly hope a squirrel will come along and feast on the out of place fruit. 

Julie is still in town until Wednesday morning, and before knitting on Tuesday, we go out to dinner at one of her favorite spots, Rue De L'espoir.  She has been missing fresh east coast sea food that is not available in her Rocky Mountain home, especially scallops.  It is delightful to sit with her and watch her enjoy this food she has been missing.  Julie gets a side of scallops and a bowl of cheesy and delicious onion soup.  Sticking with the sea food theme, I get fish and chips, something I have been craving for a while.  There is warm, fragrant, crusty bread served by the waitperson from a large, woven basket carried over her lower arm.  Inside is a large linen napkin lining keeping the bread soft and warm.  The waitperson carefully picks out a slice with long tongs, and places it on a plate.   It is a treat to inhale the scent of this beautiful bread, and heavenly to eat, especially when it is spread with soft butter that melts into the interior of the bread.

When we get to knitting, we are glad to have skipped dessert.  Alison had mentioned that she would be bringing her traditional pumpkin pie in this evening, but we were in for a tasty surprise when Nancy, remembering that I had been looking for a good yellow cake recipe, not only brought in the recipe, but also a sampling of the cake! 

It was a full house this evening, some occasional attendees stopped in to spend time visiting with Julie.  This was the perfect night for it, and with the food, there was a celebratory.

Thursday it is chilly, so we make pizza to make the house feel warm and cozy.

 In the afternoon  the weather is drizzly, but it clears up in time for the Hope Street Stroll happening in the evening.  Kaileigh and I go to quickly check things out before we head to stained glass.  Part of me  wants to stay, I know there will be fire juggling and the What Cheer band is scheduled to play along with other enticing entertainment.  Many of my daycare families will be there, and it is always fun to run into these friends out in the world. I try to stay focused, there are projects we need to finish, and if we skip tonight, they will not be done on time.

We walk the through the whole festival once, to take it all in.  It is early, so there is not too much going on yet.  We spot a living dreidel dancing along the street, and a sleigh with singing elves stops to create some mischief. There are so many families out to enjoy the evening, and there are kids everywhere!  The air is cool and and the ground is damp, but there is no rain.  The reflection of the lights on the damp pavement adds to the atmosphere and makes things look beautiful.  The petting zoo is getting busy, everyone wants to pet the small furry animals hopping around the fenced in area in the bank parking lot.  The bunnies don't even seem to mind being handled by their young visitors.  There are Hanukkah crafts to be made, cookies to decorate, and soon, Santa is scheduled to make his appearance.

Our real goal on this stroll is to grab some dinner from one of the many food trucks that line the street.  Steven is out this evening, and getting dinner together on busy nights doesn't always work out so well.  The food trucks offer a delicious and quick alternative.  After much deliberation, I get a pulled pork sandwich from Noble Knots.  It is spicy, but not overly so, and the meat is very tender.  It is served on a knotted roll, hence the name of the food truck.  Kaileigh gets a vegetarian version of my meal from the Ohh Mommi! vegetarian truck. It is a pulled portobello mushroom sandwich.  Her sandwich has coleslaw on it, which makes gives it a satisfying crunch.  She declares it delicious.  What we really love from this food truck is the fresh made french fries.  They are unbelievably good.  I have to restrain myself from eating too many.

Things are starting to roll at the festival, so I need to leave before I find I can't extricate myself from the fun.  We stop in the parking lot of the bakery to watch a short children's animated film presented by the Providence Children's Film Festival. They have set up an inflatable movie screen with hay bales to sit on and scattered some heaters around the area to keep the chill away.  Kaileigh has never seen this theater set up before and thoroughly enjoys it.    

We manage to leave after one short, and make it to stained glass just a little later than we had planned.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sunday, November 30

There is an ornament workshop after church school today, and I have suggested that we could make, rather than buy pizza to feed the attendees. After making pizza dough and helping children roll it out for over twenty years now, I am somewhat of a pizza making expert.  Mine are not perfect in presentation, but they are tasty.  Once I think about what I have volunteered to do, I realize I don't have the time to make the pizza at church, so I bake them early at home and plan on reheating them before the event.

In Sunday school we introduce the children to Henry David Thoreau.  We read a book called Henry Walks to Work (Thanks to Valerie, this book has served many children well!) It tells the story of how Henry takes a walk into the world surrounding his home, and uses the things he finds and learns there to help his neighbors.  There are herbs and berries to share with friends, simple tasks to help make travel easier for others, observations about the world to help advise people to prepare for the awakening day.  I love this book and this lesson because it teaches children that some of the most simple tasks they can perform can be a help to the world around them, and they take nothing but a small amount of time and kindness.  Henry does all of this as walks to work, which happens to be writing in the very cottage he has left from.  Simple doable tasks which help us to be superheros.  I like to think we all have a bit of Henry in us.

Instead of going to chapel with the children, I join my co-task force friend, Michael in the basement  speak with the youth group to see how they are doing.  They are enthusiastic and excited about their up coming coffee house on December 13th to raise money to help send some of them to GA in Portland, Oregon this coming summer.  They are also interested in being more involved with the congregation in general, something I really want to help them with.

I get back to my class just as they are having sharing time, which means I only missed chapel, and little else.  Sharing time is something that seems to be intergral to our Sunday school experience at 1st UU.  I am not sure where or when it started, but it has crept down from the older grades and I think almost all of the classes do this at some point during the morning.  In our class, we pass around a talking stick, and each person shares something from their week or something coming up. Only the person holding the stick is supposed to talk, and for the most part the children understand this.  It is so amazing what they will share.  Sometimes it is something like an upcoming visit, party or celebration, other times it could be the death of a beloved pet or relative.  

We continue to talk about Henry and how he observed nature.  From our second floor window, which is city close to the neighboring building, I think there is little hope of finding nature there.  With observant eyes, the children find plants which have sprouted though concrete, and bushes in back of the house next door.  We see slivers of blue sky, clouds and birds.  We think about these things, and what we see in our own backyards, and draw pictures in our nature journals.

I leave the class a little early to heat up the pizza.  Erin and Dan find me in the kitchen, and return some dishes from Thanksgiving.  Dana also manages to find me there, amazing since this is not where I would usually be found on a Sunday morning.

I am delighted, because I think these three will get along, and I have been thinking about how to introduce them.  This is perfect.  They help me bring the pizza up to the ornament workshop, which seems to be very explanation intensive.  The four of us had considered making something, but before it gets started, Dan and Erin need to leave, and soon after Dana needs to leave too.  I walk with Dana to her car, and decide I should also head home.

I want to drive with Allie today, but I also need to rake my leaves.  I tell Allie to pick me up in an hour, and this gives me just enough time to get the front in good shape.  It is very mild out today, so I am glad that I put this task off.  Allie comes just as I finish, and we practice highway driving on 146, parking lot navigation, parking, and end up at Target.  Of course we need to stop in and look around while we are here!

Steve is out for most of the day, wrapping gifts at Barnes and Nobel, so I don't see him for most of the day.  It is nice when he gets home, and we can share stories from our day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Saturday, November 29

It is forecast to be cold and I want to rake leaves today.  My plan is to do something else until it gets warm enough to stay outside for a while.  I bring all of the Christmas gifts I have accumulated to this point downstairs to the kid worktable that is in my living room, find all the necessary accessories, put on some Christmas music and start wrapping gifts. I do this with a bird perched on my shoulder.  I am bird sitting two little parakeets for the holiday weekend, and they need to spend some time out of the cage.  I split their time, and wrap accompanied by the chirping and the occasional fluttering of wings.

It never really gets warm today, and early in the afternoon I have an engagement gathering to go to for some close family friends. Maybe I can rake leaves tomorrow.

Kaileigh and Josh have stopped in today hello and bring me some lunch.  This is so appreciated after sitting and wrapping all morning.  They are on their way to Pastiche to pick up some cakes for the party we are going to this afternoon.

 Julie and David are in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, and while they are here, they are celebrating the engagement of their son Ben.  He and Helen are both in for the holiday from California, so it is the perfect time for everyone to come together and celebrate them.  It is hard when families start to spread out across the country and distance makes it difficult to share in life events.  It is really nice that Julie put together this gathering, not only for Ben and Helen, but for everyone invited as well.   We get to gather and enjoy cake, celebrate a happy event, all in the company of friends.  What could be better?

The party is at the First Unitarian Church, which has a lovely space for celebrating in.  There are large, colorful Persian rugs covering the floors of two of the rooms, antique sofas and a fireplace adding ambiance to the space.  David greets us at the door with a big hug and guides us to the gathering.  The first thing you notice when you walk into the room is a long table filled with cake.  They look beautiful and smell delicious.

The there are tables in an adjoining room to sit and enjoy the cake, although many people stand and eat their cake close to where they will go to get their next taste.  I could list off each of the cakes, but it would make you too hungry, so I will just tell you my favorite.  The chocolate mousse cake is heavenly.  It is light and fluffy, with such a dark intense chocolate flavor that is not too sweet nor bitter.  It is a rather plain looking cake, not as fancily decked out as the others, but this is only to fool those who don't know better.  This is the most heavenly cake of the bunch.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know that I am doing fine.  Last week was a busy one, and left little time for sitting at the computer and writing. This week also looks as if it may be a little less busy, so I will try and get some computer time in.

Thanks for your love and concern,

Love and hugs,


Monday, December 8, 2014

Friday, November 28

Even though I went to bed so early last night, I sleep until six this morning.  I thought for sure I would wake up around four, maybe five at the latest, but I guess I really was tired.  My plan was to rise before the sun and head out to the mall to do some Christmas shopping.  I love to go to the stores when they are not crowded, and from past experience, I know that five is a great time to shop.

Instead of that plan, the one where I would be home by the time Steve needs to go out, Steve drops me at the mall around seven thirty and heads over to Walmart to cover the protest going on there. By the time he comes back to cover the Buy Nothing Day, taking place on the State House lawn, I have amassed as many purchases as I can carry.

I feel a little bad about this contrast, but here I am with a day off from work, and this shopping that I need to do.  If I were able to, I would have all of my shopping done before Thanksgiving, and be able to join in on the buy nothing campaign.  The reality for me, time wise and financially, is that buy nothing day is the most convenient day for me to shop.

As I stand outside the mall, I see some of the appreciative recipients of the Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange.  There are quite a few families with young children, and I am glad that they have been able to find warm outerwear for the winter.

We arrive home just in time.  Steve's dad, his wife and her mother are just getting ready to get in their car to leave.  I thought they had said they would visit at ten thirty, but they were here at ten.  It is now ten fifteen, and we almost missed them.

His dad and Jan are up for the Thanksgiving holiday. It is so nice that they were able to stop by since we didn't make it to the celebration they were at yesterday.  We have a little time to catch up before they need to leave.  It is so nice to see them, and especially to see Jan's mother.  We haven't seen her in quite a long time.

Later, I walk up to Hope Street to visit the small shops there. Steven and I have been invited to a Sinterklaas celebration this evening, and we need some small gifts to bring.  Hannah, Ayla's friend since first grade, moved to Amsterdam last January to be with her boyfriend Job (pronounced Yōb).

They have come back to the States to visit for Thanksgiving, and want to share this tradition from Job's culture with us.  It requires each person to bring three small wrapped gifts with them.  It is usually celbrated on December fourth, but since they will be leaving before then, we celebrate tonight.

marzipan pig
Hannah and Job made us a traditional Netherlands dinner, called stampot, which is potatoes with greens and cheese mashed all together.  It is served with sausages and gravy.  As with most cultural celebrations there are many food traditions attached.  This one includes small ginger cookies called pepernoot, chocolate Sinterklass and Black Peter candy, Stroopwafels, marzipan pigs, biscuits, and the first letter of each person's name made out of chocolate.

We eat our meal and begin the gift exchange.  It is similar to a Yankee swap, but with dice.  Each roll dictates what the person rolling the dice should do: take a gift from the pile, take a gift from someone and give it to someone else, pass gifts to the left or right, unwrap a gift, take someone else's gift, and finally put an unwrapped gift that is in front of you under your chair.  Once the gift is under your chair, no one can take it from you.  It is much fun to see how the game shifts with each unwrapping of a gift.  We played for a couple of hours, and though it did start to get a little tedious toward the end of the game, we were in such good company, we still had a fine time.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

November 27, 2014

This morning I get up and tell myself I will not turn on the television and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Instead, I will do something else.  Usually, I bake a pie running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room to see what is coming next, but I baked last night.  So, I get up, and turn on the television, sit on the edge of the couch and start watching.  I am not sure why I have to watch this parade, but I do.  It is something I have done every Thanksgiving since my children were old enough to watch.  We would wait to see the newest balloons, and anticipate the arrival of old favorites.  Together we would enjoy the precision of the marching bands and their associated flag or rifle corps, and critique the lip synching abilities of the singers on the colorful sponsored floats.  We would enjoy the snapshot scenes of Broadway shows being reenacted in front of the Macy's entrance.  To miss all of this, seems like leaving something out of our Thanksgiving.

Even though only Alex is currently at home, one by one, each of my children join in watching the parade with me as the morning goes on. They come in from their travels, and gather in the living room and it is like old times.  It is a part of their tradition that they also look forward to.

We will be spending Thanksgiving Day at my sister's house.  We go there most Thanksgivings, but this year, without my dad, it will seem a little smaller, a little different.  I have invited the young couple I met at church last Sunday to join us.  It occurred to me late in the week that they might not have any plans, so I asked them to come along with us.  They happily accepted the invitation.

I want to make a quiche for our guests, since I have learned that they are vegetarians.  As I watch the parade, I calculate how long I can wait before I start it. The parade ends at twelve, and we need to be at my sisters by one thirty, so I can safely wait until the parade is done before I start the quiche.

Kaileigh has brought me some butter from her house, since I discovered I wouldn't have enough for a pie crust unless I went out for some.  This would violate the don't buy anything on Thanksgiving Day goal I have set for myself.  Not that I would go to any of the big box stores on this day, but I think the workers at milk stores deserve a break too.

Once the parade is over, both Ayla and Kaileigh come into the kitchen to help with the quiche.  We are not working from a recipe, just the idea of what we want.  I make the dough and roll out the crust, the girls decide on the filling and prepare that.  By the time it is baked, we are all ready to go. Kaileigh and I go to pick up Erin and Dan, and Steven, Ayla and Alex will meet us there.

My sister's house is a sweet little cape, with sleepy gardens in the front yard.  The scent of Thanksgiving seeps from the house into the yard.  When we enter,  it is steamy and warm from all of the cooking that has been going on all morning.  There is a slight wait until everything is ready, but her kitchen is so small, only one other person is able to help out.  Ayla goes in and claims her spot as helper, and the rest of stand around and talk until dinner is served.

Dinner starts with a beverage survey, one of my kids will find out what each person needs to drink, and brings it to the table.  When I was growing up, you would never have been allowed to have a soda can on the table, we would have glasses which would require refilling very quickly.  These days we are much more casual, and drink from the can.

The table is set beautifully, covered with a lace cloth, just like when we were kids.  The table, the place settings, the china was from my grandparents house, so this all feels comforting and familiar.  It is a connection to our past, as well as the present. The room is painted a spicy orange color, with curtains with big blossoms scattered across them.  There are china cabenets in the corners, and plants in front of the windows.  A buffet chest stands along one wall, with artwork made by family members who are no longer living.  This is such a wonderful place to spend this day, surrounded by family, love and mementos of those who are still alive in our hearts.

The table is spread with so much delicious food!  We can't wait to eat: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, turnip, green bean casserole, spinach quiche, boiled onions, olives, black and green, celery, gravy, and cranberry sauce, whole and jelly.  These are the very same foods my grandfather used to make us at Thanksgiving, with the addition of the quiche and the green bean casserole.  Each Thanksgiving he would tell us that this was the very same meal his mother would make for the Thanksgivings of his childhood.

Since we are using my grandmother's china, the serving area is much smaller than plates of today.  It has always been a challenge getting all of your dinner on one of these plates, but in years gone by, I would have gone back for a refill of everything, and be sitting at the table feeling like I could barely move.  This year, somehow, no one seems to eat too much, and we are all happier for it.  After all, there will be plenty of leftovers for later!

Steven and I start in on the pile of dishes, while Kaileigh takes all the meat off the turkey carcas, a job she has had since we discovered her talent at stripping a turkey!  Food starts to get put aside in containers for each group to bring home, and while we finish up in the kitchen, a game of Anomia begins at the table.  Once the kitchen is back in order, Sara, Steven and I join into the game, giving our dinner a chance to digest a little before dessert.

Anomia is a fast paced card game that involves matching symbols and shouting out answers to categories such as famous address or superhero, as quickly as you can.  These are not things I excel at, but it is fun to be a part of the game.  We play a couple of rounds before we are ready for dessert.

My grandfather's desserts would have included cranberry pie, mince pie, squash pie and a suet pudding.  The mince disappeared from the table by the time I was in my twenties, but the other pies have been a mainstay.  This year the Onepie canned squash we use was no where to be found, and the suet pudding exploded, so they were absent from our menu.  My kids have never been big pie fans except for a chocolate cream pie, so we have added that to our menu, and Ayla has discovered she likes to bake apple pie, so we've added that as well.  These days there is always ice cream, and the fruit tower remains, my grandmother's contribution to our historical dinner.

The food and company today have all been lovely.  Our pilgrims, Erin and Dan have been excellent guests, such a nice addition to our celebration.  We have missed my dad, Grampie, but felt his presence in small but significant ways.

We gather our food and thank Sara for the delicious meal she has made and shared with us, and head back to Providence to drop off our guests and go back home.

When my children were younger, at this point, we would go to visit Steve's mom and her Thanksgiving celebration.  For the last couple of years though, the day seems too short, and too rushed so we have skipped it.

This year, I am so tired when we get back home, I can hardly keep my eyes open.  I worry that if I go to bed early, I will wake up in a couple of hours and not be able to get back to sleep.  By seven, I can't keep my eyes open much longer and get myself to bed. I lie in bed feeling grateful for my family, my friends and the beautiful Thanksgiving I have just enjoyed before I drift off to sleep.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Monday, November 24

Today it is raining, but deliciously warm.  No need for hand warmers or mittens or layers of clothing.  It is oh, so heavenly.

I don't blog because I feel like I am coming down with a sore throat, and go to bed early.


I awaken at two this morning, and while I might normally just get up, I still feel like I have a cold coming on. I concentrate on an earworm to prevent me from worrying about everything and fall back asleep only to wake up again an hour later. This pattern continues until I finally get up at six.  I shower and start cleaning while watching the news to see what has been happening in Ferguson MO. It has been a restless night out in the world too.

By nine o'clock, I am so tired, I need to take a nap.  I ask Steven if he can cover for me, so I can sleep a little more.  He and Sara take the kids to the playground, and I sleep for an hour and a half.  It is warm out, so I walk to the playground needing only a sweater for extra warmth.  I know that Steven has a busy day today, so I am grateful for his help.

I find everyone playing around the fountain.  We love it this time of year, because it is empty and we make full use of it's play value.  We can walk on the edge and play inside.  It is decorated with colorful chalk lines the kids made before I arrived.  Some of the kids run around inside the bowl of the fountain, some like to search for coins left behind from the summer.  They are hidden beneath the accumulation of leaves or under the piping the rings the base.  There aren't many left, but occasionally one will pop up somewhere.  There is good treasure hunting here.

We play at the north end of the park for a while before heading back to my house for lunch.

It is still warm out in the evening, so I walk to knitting.  I am hoping I will leave early,to look for gifts on Thayer Street.  Instead, I leave later and arrive just as knitting begins.


The weather forecast for today is rain and snow mixed.  Looks like a nor'easter.  Due to the bad weather, some of my children have left early to get a head start on traveling to Thanksgiving in other places.  Still, we manage to have five for the day, and make ginger bread cut out cookies.  The rain lets up a little, so we take advantage of the break and take a short walk.

I was hoping to have the monthly knitting night at my house this evening, but cancelled it last night based on the forecast.  It was a good call. Instead, I baked a cranberry pie and a pumpkin pie to bring to my sisters house tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sunday, November 23

There is a Thanksgiving Service today at church, and I want to sing with the Joyful Noise Choir. This special choir that has been brought together for this multi-generational service, and is made up of people of all ages.  I have tried unsuccessfully to get to the required two rehearsals, but only make it to the last one this morning.  The songs are some we have sung in children's chapel, so I think I can wing it.

I am a greeter today, one of the duties that people on the Prucom are responsible for.  I get to stand at the door and welcome people into the church.  This is a job I seldom get to do, but one I really enjoy.  I haven't done it since just before my surgery, last June.  When I am done greeting, once the chalice is lit, I go to sit with my fellow kindergarten teacher, Sarah.  When it comes time to sing at the front of the church, I bring her along with me.

After the service, as a part of my greeter job, I go to the newcomers cafe and say hello to people new to our community.  I notice two little girls who had come into the church with their mother earlier.  They are all dressed up, in fancy dresses and shoes.  One is in pre school, and the other, in first grade.  Neither will be in my class this year if they continue to come, but I tell them about Sunday school, and talk with their mom. I also meet a young couple who have recently moved to Providence, and just started coming to the church last week.  I find out they are close in age to Kaileigh and Josh, and live on the same street as one of their friends.  While we are talking, we get invited to witness two new members signing our membership book. This officially makes the signers voting members of our church community.  The signing of the book means they have also agreed to our covenant, which is only in its third incarnation in nearly three hundred years.

We, the members of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, with respect for the worth and dignity of each person, with wonder at the light we know by many names, and with gratitude for our deep connection to each other and the larger web of existence, covenant to walk together in our search for truth, seeking the paths of wisdom, compassion, and justice. 

The couple who are signing the book happen to be the grandparents of a child in my Sunday school class.  I feel like it is a special privilege to be invited to witness this signing.

After a quick lunch, Allie and I go driving.  We run a few errands for her mom, and drive to her school in East Providence.  We practice backing up and parking between the lines.  She does well.  On the way home, we decide to stop at Dunkin Donuts.  On our first try, we to the drive through.  Allie asks for powdered sugar munchkins. The person taking the order tersely states, "we have jelly." Did that person really just say that?   It feels like we are in a comedy sketch.  We decide to try another instead.  We drive less than a mile to find the next Dunkin Donuts. Here we go inside. They have powdered sugar munchkins, but Allie decides to try cinnamon.  The donut dealer gives her an extra, probably because he thinks Allie is so cute.

In the late afternoon, Steve and I go out to see a documentary movie, Citizenfour, about Edward Snowdon, .  It is a very intense movie which tells his story from the time he first reveals top secret documents about domestic spying to the press.  It starts in Hong Kong, and follows him into Russia, where he remains today.  The film maker and the journalist are very brave people to have documented this very powerful story.  I am surprised that there are not more people at the show. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Saturday, November 22

Anna texts me early and we decide to the grocery store later than usual, around eight thirty.  It turns out we both spend the extra time in bed, enjoying the warmth to be found there. She was waiting for a sunbeam to come and slowly warm her face,  I was waiting for it to make its way across a picture on my wall.  We get out and get our shopping done just in time. Anna will make it to her pilates class right before it starts.

Soon after I get home my friend Alice arrives for a visit.  She is in town for the weekend, visiting her parents.  She lives on a farm in Maine, and can't often get away.  There is always so much to do on a farm, and since she works a nine to five job during the week, the weekends are an important time to get caught up.  Her parents are aging though, so she has been trying to get down to visit them more often.  I also benefit from these trips. It has been years since we have spent so much time together.

We go to Wayland Square to get some lunch at Teas and Javas.  We had intended only to get something warm to drink, but the food looks so good, we decide to have lunch.  Alice gets a beautiful roasted vegetable salad, while I get a Black Forest Ham Panini.  The food is good, the company better.  We continue to catch up, stopping by Books on the Square so I can start some Christmas shopping, and take a short walk on Thayer Street. We used to take a bus here when we were in high school, going to the Avon Movie Theater or shopping.  Of course, it looked very different then.

We come back to my house, and talk until it is starting to get dark outside.  We have spent the the better part of the day talking, and I feel like I have been on a vacation.  We finally say goodbye, and hope to get together soon.  Some time in the near future I hope to go and visit her farm.

Steve makes dinner, and Dan, Dave and Walter join us.  Once we are done, they leave to watch movies at Adam's house, and I am home alone. I am always invited along, but I enjoy these evenings to myself.  It gives me the opportunity to get a few things done.  I may lose an hour or so on facebook, but this seems to be the cost of doing anything on the computer. 
In trying to research my sloshy toes, I discover that the way I have found to cope with my feet and fingers is the opposite of what is recommended on some cancer websites.  I use heat, they recommend cold.  This seems insane to me!  I can't imagine anything more painful than cold on my tingly fingers and toes.  I wonder if they have different tingles than I do, or if I feel this sensation in the opposite.  Could it be they live in a warmer place?  I don't get it.  I will have to ask more people about this.