Thursday, November 20, 2014


Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)
"Whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice," writes Louise Gl├╝ck in her poem "The Wild Iris." I think that will be a key theme for you in the coming weeks. There's a part of you that is returning from oblivion -- making its way home from the abyss -- and it will be hungry to express itself when it arrives back here in your regularly scheduled life. This dazed part of you may not yet know what exactly it wants to say. But it is fertile with the unruly wisdom it has gathered while wandering. Sooner rather than later, it will discover a way to articulate its raw truths.

Chew on that.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Risk and Romance

My dad, who is 87, is taking a trip this week, to New York city to see a ballet. My stepmother was a dancer in her early years, she danced with the San Francisco Ballet for a time before she returned because of emotional pressure from her boyfriend at the time. I don't know how talented she was but she loved ballet and she shared that love with my dad. Their relationship has changed over the almost 3 years since her stroke. He visits her almost daily where she lives, and depending on the weather he takes her out for a little stroll in her chair and fusses over her, something she always did for him. He cheers her up, sharing little stories and amusements. He is sad. He doesn't get so much back but he is dogged in his dedication. On the weekends he goes to the Ballet. Not the real ballet, the simulcast ballet, downtown at the Scotia Center. He loves it. He has fallen in love with one of the ballerinas and that is who he is going to see in New York this week, he hopes. There is always the chance that the understudy will be dancing in her place.

I heard about the trip through one of my brothers. I assured him the trip was likely a fantasy. Dad has some fantastic ideas these days but none of them come to fruition. He feels his age. Many years ago he and my stepmother went to New York and had a fabulous time. She took care of everything and they went to many performances of music and ballet and art. Dad described feeling "stirred-up". He sent me an email letting me know about the trip and I sent one back but it was too late. The trip was booked. He was really going to go. He bought his ticket to the ballet and had his travel agent book a trip around it.

It's crazy of course. An old man alone in the city. He is a perfect target for abuse and that concerns me. On the other hand he is a risk taker, he always has been. He climbed mountains, flew planes, skied, hiked, and yes, traveled to Manhattan and many other big American cities and lived to talk about it. My dad and stepmother traveled to France and Switzerland some years ago after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimers. They were both in their 80's and I was convinced they had a suicide pact and they would never be seen again. They returned home revitalized and excited. 2 months later my stepmother had no memory of the trip. Dad still talks about it as pleasurable and extremely difficult.

So off he will go. I will feel nervous for him but excited too. New York is a wonderfully exciting place. If he dies there somehow he will have been doing something he loved. He is not a baby, we can't wrap him up and protect from his desires. Who knows how much longer he has on this earth so why not be reckless and take a long trip to see a beautiful woman dance in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. In addition to being a physical risk taker my dad is a romantic and as long as that is alive in him he is alive.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Printing day.


Rainy day. Printed an invitation for the Whatcom Land Trust. They are having an open house in mid-November. I hadn't printed much for the last year it turns out. The last project was last November, also a mad rush. These projects are fun to jump into. Time limits the whole process which causes a designer to streamline how she is approaching the whole thing. Time, budget, quality. Pick two. Nothing is perfect, the point is to keep making.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


One week post radioactivity. Yesterday I thought I detected a very metallic taste and odor. Does radiation taste. It passed. Pink insulation on the side of the road reminds me of flesh. Flesh with blood drained out, fur thrown free. I soaked in the tub and scrubbed my skin until it gave up little radioactive flesh rolls that look like gray splinters. I take extra care when I rinse the bathtub but is it enough? I don't feel capable of dealing with radioactive material unsupervised. Is the radioactivity hiding there, an invisible cloud. Or is it just inside me. At the weekend, we decide not to make love, as a precaution. All of my secretions are suspect. I discard my toothbrush and used q-tips. At the border I set the radiation alarm off as predicted but inside behind a special closed door 2 detectors fail to read what's actually in me. The device guesses Industrial Barium. I wait 45 minutes and then am approved to go home. The exercise is ridiculous and the border officer jokes with me and I am forced to joke back. My flesh knows how to react to many situations. At the hospital before the scan they wrap me up in warm blankets and the bed vibrates gently as they image me from head to toe. I drift in and out, it is not unpleasant, my flesh relaxes and I stay so still, I want to make a good image.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Low Iodine Diet Day 17, Radiation Day

I am now radioactive. 4mc. I have managed to make it to this moment despite feeling so wimpy yesterday. I even slept well last night. There were a lot more people in the nuke med waiting room today. An 80 yr old woman and her 50 something daughter waiting for testing, a woman with her husband dozing in a wheelchair. A single girl with a pink iPhone and slicked down hair. And me and my umbrella. My song for today is Radioactivity by Kraftwerk. I say this sort of tongue-in-cheek but somehow it lightened my mood about the whole thing.

I learned a bunch of new stuff about Facebook today and the algorithms that control our experience there which I have known but today it really hit home. I have been really exploring my feelings about Social Media lately. I forgot about the treatments and thought about the future for a little while. So that was good.

I'm fine, itchy but fine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


 Thinking about William Morris

Between you and me, I'm overwhelmed. Everything feels very touch and go. I am one day away from swallowing the prescribed radioactive iodine and I can't say I don't have reservations about what is about to take place. I've been to the hospital twice in two days to receive a shot deep into my ass muscle that will hide the effects of the synthetic hormone Liothyronine during the prescribed nuclear scan. 

I discovered a few days ago that I have likely been under dosing my Liothyronine. My lifeline. I've been brain foggy and was feeling like my world was closing in on me. I was pretty sure it was the early signs of dementia, seriously. I was doing everything slowly. I found myself in a kitchen filled with young people buzzing about and I could not keep up with the conversation. It was frightening. I thought it was hunger from the prescribed diet and that was probably a factor but it wasn't the whole story. In 9 months I have gone from having one healthy thyroid that I thought worked pretty well—although now I have some doubts—to half a healthy thyroid, and now no thyroid. At first the medication made me jittery so backing off on it seemed the right thing to do but I went too far obviously.

I am struck. I am without a part of my body that I barely noticed or even understood and now I am tasked with accepting the reality of living with a dependency on medication that I don't quite recognize the effects of. It all makes me want to break down and cry. In the hospital yesterday morning waiting for Mark to park the car I just wanted to weep big poor-me-tears. In that vast waiting area, so somber, so many sick people coming in and out. It felt scary and bewildering. I felt lonely there and loneliness is not something I generally think about but this whole process makes me feel profoundly lonely. It is my job alone to carry my body through this medical obstacle course. The shots make me feel sick so I can't do too much, the whole thing is distracting me from what I would rather be thinking about. Stress causes cancer you know. This is the ridiculousness of the whole exercise. Dealing with cancer can give you cancer.

My friend who has the same cancer as me but in more sites started her low-iodine odyssey yesterday. I stopped by today to give her a hug. She reminded me that I was almost done. Friday is the scan and then I can return to normal. Another new normal.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Low Iodine Diet Day 8

 Lunch of turkey, tomato, baba ghanouj, hummus, cashews and banana.

Here I am on Monday again. 8 days into the diet. I think I am doing a reasonable job but I must admit I am hungry. We sailed on Saturday and on our way home I bought a huge container of cashews (unsalted) and stood outside the store eating them, I resisted the urge to open them in the store and start gorging myself before I had even paid for them. I couldn't go any farther without eating something. So there I stood in an underground parking lot on 4th avenue in Vancouver oblivious to everything, trying to get my blood sugar back up. The danger with this diet is avoiding defaulting to too much sugar and choosing protein instead, but finding protein that is free of salt is tough also.

Beyond all the diet issues of the last week I had to face some other tough issues in my personal life. Learning to reign in my enormous ability to be horrible to those around me when I am feeling frustrated. I have dented something sacred and will work harder to control myself. I cannot afford to lose one ounce of the love I am the recipient of.

I saw my stepmother on Sunday and was moved by how much she has deteriorated since I last saw her in the Spring. She did not know me, could not meet my gaze. I choked back my sad tears and held her hands, moistening them with some nice cream and massaging them, and her arms and shoulders  gently. I told her little stories adding little physical actions, walking my fingers across her small hands, making little nibbles on her arms with my fingers and scratching her head. The story was about fleas. She smiled into her lap but never looked at me. Someone is in there, somewhere.

I went home and felt grateful for my crappy lunch and my ability to feed myself and for the person across from me who loves me so well. We sailed in the afternoon and somehow the conversation of the day before helped us both work together better getting the boat in and out of the water with mutual cooperation and kindness. I am humbled.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Low Iodine Diet Day 1

So I started my low iodine diet yesterday. It's advertised as a 2 week process but it turns out it's really for 3 weeks ending with a nuclear scan. I suspect in the third week you feel so weird from being shot up with all the crap they put into you pre-scan, eating might not matter that much. When I first started this process last December I had total faith in every step of it. This radioactive bit has me concerned. I don't relish being vaguely poisoned, but I am going along with it. I am nothing if not a good dutiful girl.

The long and short of this diet is no dairy, or anything containing iodine which is a dubious substance and is not really listed in the ingredients of things. Oh well. I eat whole food, I should be fine. No seafood for 3 weeks.

So... that leaves a lot of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. The challenge for me will be to avoid sugar as a way to comfort myself. Poor me. Boo Hoo.

Yesterday I ate the following:
Blueberries, home-made granola, ginger tea, raw cashews, dates, carrots, more cashews. Avocado, coleslaw, baba ghanouj. More dates, cashews now gone. Wine. Almonds. Brown rice, various greens, onions, celery, beef, fresh ginger. One measly piece of crystalized ginger covered in white sugar.

At some point during the day it occurred to me that instead of thinking about food and feeling grumpy I could get busy. I made tomato sauce with some of the bounty from the Urban Farm. And wouldn't you know it, I was cheered up right away.

Went to the big vintage trailer meet last weekend. It was a good one for sure. I still can't quite believe the absurdity of this event and my role in it but I find the people to be so interesting and sincere. We listened to some musicians play by campfire and had a big out of tune sing along. Pearl sitting next to me exclaiming "this is wonderful". And it was.  Here are some pictures! I even managed some sketches as well as some knitting.
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