Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take a break from pie making

Stop crumbling your cornbread, dripping water on your still-frozen turkey, or doing work if you're still in the office (I'm sorry).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Live Blogging Port Removal Day

8:09 am The Husband got Little Warrior up this morning at 6 am to feed her oatmeal and bananas. We have to be there at 10:30, but surgery is scheduled for 12:30, so since they say no food/drink 6 hours prior to surgery, we should be fine. I'll probably still have to deal with some nurse, checking her vitals at 11:30, who will raise her eyebrows when I say she was fed at 6, until I point out the math. What they really want is for you to say that you last fed your child a week ago last Wednesday.

I'm drinking coffee, feeling a little groggy. I was so hopped up on excitement and a Peppermint Twist Mocha Frappuccino last night, I couldn't sleep. I took one Tylenol PM, noting the expiration date of 05/05. I dreamed I was in a submarine, looking at killer whales scratching their backs on coral. It was pretty cool, until one of the whales came over and began bumping our submarine.

9:15 am ... is when we should have left. Instead, I was arguing with LW about what shoes she was going to wear, as she wanted to wear her sister's boots that are way too big. "This is non-negotiable," I told her. This is how I talk to my 3 year old, which may partially explain The Boy winning in his first debate tournament last weekend. They learn to debate out of self-defense.

My cell phone is dead, but no biggie, lemme just grab my car charger. (I'm driving my MIL's car because yesterday the engine light began blinking on the minivan, and the code said something about the vehicle not being able to regulate its temperature. Sounds like a thyroid problem.)

Car charger. Car charger.

The Husband killed yet another cell phone this weekend (phones tremble as he draws near) and borrowed my phone while running errands. Charger is in his car. He's across town. Not helpful.

Drive to town, occasionally worrying that some emergency has happened to our other children and the hospital can't reach either of us. Oh well. I think the BFF-DRE is the In Case of Emergency person.

MIL's car is a smooth Cadillac. After driving the minivan, this is like driving a stick of butter. Smooth, smooth, smooth. I'm a bit of a reverse-snob about vehicles, but I can see why this tempts people.

Valet park because the one and only time you can get parking validation is if your child has surgery. That's one of the two perks of surgery. The other is a pair of pajamas, emblazoned with the hospital logo. This will be LW's 6th pair. She never wears them at home. I think they're itchy.

So here we are, in the waiting room. They've removed the play kitchen with the play food. Perhaps someone clued them in that having that particular toy in a room where all the children have been fasting is cruel and indicates either an ignorance of children or an evil malevolence toward them.

11:10: Now, we wait.

11:24: More questions from nurses. Allergies. Reactions to anesthesia. Apparently the latter can be quite genetic because they always ask if family members have reactions to anesthesia. I always explain that with me, the sedative wears off before the paralytic, which elicits an alarmed look and a lot of scribbling.

It's never been anything dramatic with me -- no waking up on the operating table. But I've had 3 surgeries, and the first two, I woke up after surgery and couldn't move, couldn't talk, couldn't open my eyes, felt like I couldn't breathe. It was pretty terrifying. Completely lucid, but trapped inside. The last time, I was so frantic, I began mentally reciting The Prisoner of Chillon over and over in my head to calm me down.

When I had an emergency appendectomy, I told the anesthesiologist about it. Ahh, he said, and explained to me that anesthesia is composed of two different parts, and obviously my body went through one faster than the other. When I woke up from that surgery, everything was A-Ok.

I'd hate for LW to have that experience.

The Child Life Specialist is calling ...

11:51 Child Life Specialists are cool people. They explain, in kid-friendly language, everything that that is going to happen. Little Warrior seems to be taking it all in stride. The Child Life person gave her one of those stickers with a snap on it that they put on you to hook heart monitors to. She's putting it on and off the plastic piggy bank that her grandmother gave her yesterday.

"Does she want to take anything back in the OR with her?" the nurse asked. "A special blanket, or a cuddly?"

Yes. This plastic piggy bank.

I have a unique child.

I would really like to charge my cell, but there are apparently no electric outlets in this entire waiting room. I keep moving chairs away from the walls, searching.

We're not in cancer world anymore. This is day surgery, so there are children here for all sorts of reasons. Some of the parents look nervously at LW with her bald head.

12:15 Waiting, waiting, waiting. I found a plug, so my cell phone is across the room charging up. I hope I don't forget it.

Two surgeons, in scrubs, just walked in. They are searching for the parents of child. What kind of news will they have for them? Can't tell by their faces.

It was in this room, just a couple of yards from where I'm now sitting, that our surgeon came out and talked to me, The Husband, and my brother and sister-in-law who had stopped by. To tell us that they took out "the nodule." To tell us that there was something on her kidney that they'd never seen before, that looked like a blood blister. That they took every precaution, but if it was cancer, some cells might have escaped, so she'd need radiation.

She won't be able to have children, I immediately thought.

Our immediate thoughts are not the most logical thoughts.

12:30 Some young women in full polished makeup, perfect hair have come in, carrying a gift bag and a balloon. "Oh, there you are!" they say to their friend, who has neither makeup nor perfect hair. They sit with her and her husband, chit chatting. Part of the conversation is about how children's hospitals aren't fun places. Yeah, says the mother, but our mirth is how we deal.

Little Warrior would probably argue with them. But right now, she's cutting covetous looks at the balloon and gift, while she idly plays with one of those bead roller-coaster toys, ubiquitous to every children's medical establishment.

"When are they going to call me?" she whines, coming over to me. I shrug.

I probably should have eaten more than 1/2 a cashew butter sandwich this morning.

12:50 Still waiting, waiting.

First time we did cancer, The Husband was always here for these things. This time around, his job is as a consultant. It's a good job, but if he doesn't work, we don't get paid.

So, I've done most of these things by myself. All the hospitalizations, the dental surgery, the appointments, most of the scans.

And ... it's been fine. Once again I've learned that you can do more than you think you can do. And anything can become normal.

And "help" makes all the difference, whether it was The Husband coming to the hospital to unload our stuff or the BFF-DRE bringing us lunch and a visit.

I think LW needs some cuddling.

1:22 I just want to note that I've been here since 10:30. We are still in the main waiting room.

Do doctors get exasperated when their cable guy says he'll be there between 9 and 5 and still hasn't shown up at 5:10?

It's surgery. This is the time to be patient, because the delay could be because a child needs emergency surgery.

I'm hungry. It's hard to keep my nice on.

1:54 One of the polished young women left and came back with a small teddy bear with a cross on his sweater, attached to a Hello Kitty balloon and a package of Starburst. "I wanted her to have this," she explains to me. "She just has such a pretty face."

Once again, I am awed at what total strangers will just up and do.

LW goes over and gives her a big hug. The pretty stranger hugs her close and says, "I love you." I give her to address for Love Through Action and tell her I'll be mentioning her. She demurs any praise and says, "The Lord told me to do it."

I like that kind of instruction.

3:08 We are back in a different waiting area. LW is in her hospital-issued yellow pajamas, driving a toy car around. We are ready to go.

3:20 Apparently there was a mix-up and they'll be taking another child before us. More waiting. And now, I'm sure:

I really should have eaten more than 1/2 a cashew butter sandwich.

3:40 A resident came and talked to me. Once they take the other child, it'll be about an hour before they take Little Warrior.

This kid is being amazing. Looking at books, watching tv. She has to be starving, since she last ate at 6 am. What a trooper. Little Warrior.

When we were back in the main waiting room, I had "Why, Charlie Brown, Why?" playing on YouTube for her. One of her favorites, not surprisingly. A boy, probably about 10 or 11, began watching it with us. Politely, he asked if it was You Tube. When the little girl in the cartoon said she had leukemia, he perked up. He asked if that was what LW had. No, she has Wilms. I noticed his short buzzed hair. "Is that what you have?" He nodded. "Three years." I told him that LW was done with chemo and getting her port out. He said he was getting one put in.

Which means ... he's been in remission, but judging by the length of his hair, not for very long. And the beast is back.

I am pretty sure that he's the child we're getting bumped for. So it's pretty hard for me to begrudge the delay.

I found an open bag of Haribo cola gummies at the bottom of my bag. When LW isn't looking, I sneak some.

5:02 pm They just took her back.

5:30 pm Wow. No idea this Live-Blog would be so long. Well, LW is still back in surgery. I made it over to the hospital food court before it closed. Wolfed down a Chick Fil A sandwich; it tasted like the most delicious food ever made. Now, of course, a bit of a tummy ache. But better than hunger pangs.

What a day, what a day. The niece of the pretty stranger wound up playing with LW in the "about to go to surgery" waiting room, two little princesses in their hospital-issue jammies. "Now, are you a boy or a girl?" she asked LW. "I keep thinking you're a boy." Little Warrior took no offense.

I talked a bit with her Mom. She was having surgery for reflux. Kidneys were involved, so I said, "Well, the kidney surgeons here are very good. We had Dr. S--." "Oh, he's our doctor!" she said. We chatted about him, how he's kinda funny because he's a major chatterbox (unusual, in my experience, with surgeons), but very smart.

We're all connected.

The polished women and the mom are all sisters, and all moms. Their children are all about the same ages. I am a bit envious of that, I admit.

But I have good friends. And you know what? I have good strangers.

9:19 pm

We are home. I am typing w/ 1 hand, as LW is asleep in my lap. She's drugged up.

I'm tired. And awed with thankfulness.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sex, Baby!

Okay, so lotsa people talking about Rev. Ed Young and his command to his flock to have sex every day for one week.

Well ... t'ain't original. Nor dramatic. This minister, last year, asked his married parishioners to have sex every day for 30 days.

Well, me being me, I brought this up in my Christian Ethics class last year. There were some joking remarks about it, then we went on to something else.

However ... my professor (who is a very thoughtful person and a conservative Christian) went off, thought about it, and studied his Bible. A week later, he had all of us turn to Proverbs 5:18-19:

May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.

And we had a very good conversation. And I got to advance my contention that preachers need to talk more about sex.

Do I think sex is the solution to everything? Nah, of course not. And maybe a better way would be to challenge couples to spend a half hour every night with no tv, no computer, no Blackberry -- just each other. But neither am I offended by the idea that a minister challenge their partnered congregants to focus on sex for a week.

In the words of renowned theologian George Michael ... Sex is natural, sex is good.

Online Communications, Communities, Communing

Living her Moxie Life, Jackie is talking about all the ways of communicating online and asks:

So, what about you? Where online do you find real depth? Are you a gadfly running to each new thing? What community online feeds your soul?

I'm glad she asked. I've been meaning to blog about this.

First, I must admit:

I am addicted to Facebook.

Once again, I have learned the lesson that one must not mock, because you will become, or begin to do, what you mock. ("Oh, those silly people who win the lottery, what a bunch of prisses.")

Waiting, waiting ... okay, moving on.

I mocked those who Twitter. What egotism! Who wants to know what you're doing every second?

Meanwhile, I signed for Facebook, after being urged to by some seminary friends. And found more of my friends on it. Then found high school friends on it. Then figured out the whole "updating your status," thing.

I'm twittering ... on Facebook. Especially when we're at the hospital. "Liveblogging the hospital."

And I love, love, love reading the minutiae that makes up my friends' lives. This one is about to face the diaper pail, that one just won an SCA honor, she's about to go perform a wedding, that one just made 3 dozen cupcakes.

Okay, that last one was me.

I love that Facebook is as much or as little as you like. I can see what's going on in my friends' lives, without being obligated to respond, like with email.

Email ... ugh. A boon AND a bane. I really, really am not a friend of the phone, as my friends will tell you. Maybe in a few years, but for the last 10 years, me getting on the phone is a call for children to come running, needing water, paper, a referee, a video, an audience. If one can be agoraphobic, but just via phone, that's me.

So in that way, I love email. When scheduing speakers, I don't have to leave a message, play phone tag. I send an email and when that person checks their email, they respond.

Yeah, but there's the rub -- "Respond." People email me and then of all crazy things, they want me to respond. Does that happen to you, too? And the emails add up, because I really want to follow up more on this one, or save that one, or ... well, you know. I'm not the only one.

Jacqui recommends that we narrow our online communication to three modes, which happens to fit what I do. My third is blogging. Happily, she didn't recommend we limit ourselves to only one blog.

This is my main blog. It's an online version of a Pensieve, where I can dump my thoughts, opinions and the like. And in its connection with other blogs, a community has formed. I've blogged about this before. The whole blogging experience continues to fascinate me. How people whom we've never met "in real life" can know more about our thoughts through our blogs than people who see us every single day.

I have the Love Through Action blog, which was meant to be a place to post the good deeds that people did in LW's honor, but along the way, became a bit of a video blog about LW.

And I have a blog for friends and family to be able to follow what's going on with LW. If you have a family member going through a health issue, I highly recommend having a blog where you can send everyone, like or Cuts down on the phone calls for status reports.

Still and all, now that LW can go out in public, I'm looking forward to being able to have coffee with friends. But when we couldn't go out and were for all purposes in reverse-quarantine, blogging, emailing, and facebooking kept me connected.

Heck ... it kept me sane.

Home for the Holidays

Wait a second, before you dive into all the Christmas movies ... first, Thanksgiving. If you haven't seen Home for the Holidays, rent it. NOW. Go to Netflix, put it in your queue, and shuffle it to the first position. Trust me.

Incredible cast: Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr, Geraldine Chaplin, and tons of other famous faces. Directed by Jodie Foster. (Oh, and David Straitharn in this tiny role but oh-my-god, he does it well. You KNOW people just like his character.)

Actually, you know people like all the characters. Maybe YOU are like one of the characters.

Who should see this movie: ministers. Anyone with an adult sibling. Anyone with older parents. Anyone with a child who is or will be a teenager. Anyone gay. Anyone unmarried. Anyone who loves a family member "in spite of" something. Anyone who has ever gone home for the holidays.

Really. Get it, now. It'll put you in a Thanksgiving mood. Although you may just decide NOT to go home this year ... No, still and all, it's a sweet movie. But sweet in a real way, warts and all, no treacle. Not a bit of it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

But the prettiest sight to see

Today, I received a call that I was expecting. Really Cute Nurse Practitioner was calling to schedule the surgery to remove Little Warrior's portacath.

What I was not expecting -- "The surgeon can do it Tuesday."

Tuesday??? Wow! Yikes! Awesome! Eek! This Tuesday??? Yes.

If you get chemotherapy, odds are good that you'll get a port implanted under your skin because the chemo has to go directly in a vein. If it gets in the muscle, it can cause some major damage, like eating right through it.

Hey, this chemo stuff isn't for kids, you know?


Anyway, getting it out is a big deal. As long as that port's still there, any fever over 101 means you have to go to the ER, because it could be a potentially fatal line infection. Once the port is out, then you go back to regular life. Get a fever, suck it up, kid.

That's the practical side. Then there's the other side. That says getting the port out means that you are DONE getting chemotherapy, DONE being a cancer patient.

So the fact that LW is getting her port removed before Thanksgiving is pretty thrilling.

This afternoon, Little Warrior was sitting on the arm of my chair, jabbering away to me. The sun came in through the window behind her and ... oh ... my.

Teeny tiny almost-microscopic fuzz. All over her head.

Monday, November 17, 2008

These small hours

"Little Wonders"
Rob Thomas

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end
We will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

Let it slide,
Let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine
Until you feel it all around you
And i don't mind
If it's me you need to turn to
We'll get by,
It's the heart that really matters in the end

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

All of my regret
Will wash away some how
But i can not forget
The way i feel right now

In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists & turns of fate
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away but these small hours
These small hours, still remain,
Still remain
These little wonders
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These little wonders still remain


I am hopeful that the hardest part is over.

Preliminary reports are that the scans were clear.

As we walked down the long hall that bridges the clinic and hospital, I carried Little Warrior (it was a long day). I told her that we just got some very good news; did she understand what the doctor was saying?

Yes, she nodded. Cancer is over, she said with a serious look deep into my eyes.

What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Scan-xiety

For the last six months, on a day like this, I'd be packing up, prepping food for home and hospital, and planning on going in the hospital Tuesday.

Well, Little Warrior finished "Regimen I" on Halloween. Technically, she's still been on chemo since then, as part of the cycle is when it's in her system.

Tomorrow morning, we will get up early to go to the hospital. CT scan in the morning, which means fasting, then drinking lots of yucky contrast. Meeting with her oncologist around noon. Echocardiogram at 2ish, because one of her chemos is really hard on the heart.

About a week ago, we got the news that Regimen UH-1 had been discontinued because two of its chemos, cytoxan and doxorubicin, had toxicity issues. As in, children dying while on treatment.

She's been taking those chemos.

Tomorrow, we should find out if the cancer is still gone. We should find out if there's any problems with her heart.

We've already had to learn the lesson that "No Evidence of Disease" merely means that they can't see anything. And that life off-treatment can change to "fighting it again" in just one scan.

So it's not like any part of us sees tomorrow as the end of cancer. Best case scenario is that we go to no treatment, just watching ... and waiting.

I will take it. And celebrate it, should we be so lucky to get it.

In the meantime ... go check the comments on We're Never Going to Grow. Lots of interesting conversation about perceived superiority, class attitudes, and how we treat differences in income/education level in our churches. Weigh in with your opinion.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How to Do Coupons

Do you want to save money on groceries? Really, really save money? Okay. I've got your back.

I can't coupon because I'm vegetarian
I can't coupon because I don't eat processed foods
If you coupon, you'll spend more, buying stuff you won't use

Oh, I'm sure there's more myths. Here's the deal. When I was at the height of my best power couponing, my partner in it was a vegan, the kind of vegan who knew that regular Oreos weren't vegan, but mint Oreos were. And she saved tons of money. Re: processed foods, yep, you can save a lot of money on those, but in my binder right now are coupons for eggs, milk, soy milk, salad, bread, and flour. And cleaning products. And toilet paper. And dog food. And candles.

If you really want to save money by couponing, it's not the same thing as when my Mama would clip a few coupons and stick them in the coupon drawer. Power Couponing. I know there are tons of websites with even more tips, but I'll give you the bare bones.

1) The name of the game is "Combining." You want to combine your coupons with grocery store sales.
2) The middle name of the game is "Stocking Up." You're not shopping for this week, you're shopping for your in-home "store."

What I've done in the past is to use a zippered binder filled with the plastic pages they sell for collecting baseball cards. They're perfect for holding coupons. Divide your binder into sections -- dairy, frozen, baking supplies, cleaning, toiletries -- you get the picture. When you put a coupon in, make sure the expiration date is showing.

I'm trying something a little different right now. I date the coupon flyers and file them according to the name of the flyer company, e.g. "Smart Source," "Red Plum," "P & G."

Reason why I'm trying this way is because of this site:

This website -- free -- is wonderful. If you live in or near a major metro area, you can go to "Grocery Deals" by state every week, and for different grocery stores, she posts the item on sale, and the coupon you can also apply. Here's an example:

11-02 RPNestle Carnation Evaporated Milk 12 oz (qualifies for Mix & Match Offer -- final price assumes the purchase of 10 participating items) -- charity!$1.002$0.50FREE100%

11-02 RP means that there was a coupon for this item in the 11-02 Red Plum circular. The sale price is 1.00 per can. The coupon specifies you purchase 2 cans. The coupon value is .50 a can, but this store doubles up to .50. Additionally, this store is doing a Thanksgiving promotion where you get 5.00 off, for every 10 qualifying items purchased, making the sale price effectively .50 a can.

So ... 2 x .50 = 1.00 - .50 doubled = 2 cans of evaporated milk, free.

I know this sounds complicated. It really isn't. And this website does most of the work for you.

Okay, so there's kind of a starting point. Just google "couponing" and you can find out far, far more. Ask your friends and neighbors who don't coupon for their Sunday circulars.

When I was really disciplined about it, I generally spent $30 or less, per week on groceries, for a family of 5. And donated tons of stuff we don't like -- Hamburger Helper and such -- to the food pantry. Things like pickles, mustard, dry pasta, I NEVER spent money on. Those, you could usually find for free. And along with the savings, my husband loved it because we always had a big stash of deodorant, shaving cream, etc. No last minute runs to the store.

Now, if you only shop at Whole Foods, or just don't have time for this, or think couponing is distasteful, hey, I'm not trying to talk you into it.

But for those who are interested -- give it a try. I've done bare bones, only buying generics, lots of rice and beans shopping, and I've done couponing, which is generally brand-name, lot of variety ... and the couponing was wayyy cheaper.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"We're Never Going to Grow"

I was surrounded by coupons when the BFF-DRE called. "Have you seen the latest UU World?" she asked. "Not yet," I said, pinching the phone between my shoulder and my ear so that I could move the coupons that will give me free Carnation evaporated milk into the "going shopping tomorrow" pocket of my binder.

"We're never going to grow," she said.

I extracted myself from under the coupons for dog food, toothpaste, and flour and went to the mailbox. I read the article she referenced, "Dinner Dilemmas, Ethical Issues at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table."

"We're never going to grow," I sighed.

When The Husband came home, I handed him the article, without any comment. He read it. He shook his head.

"We're never going to grow."

None of this is embellishment for poetry's sake. Those were the exact words all of us used. (And I really was cutting coupons today.)

First of all, if you really want to compare apples to apples, I and the majority of the people I know, will be buying our turkey with the .39/lb voucher or coupon, not the "cheapest" option in the article, the $2.69 turkey. My friends who are vegetarian will be eating something that will probably involve tofu or seitan but tofurkey? Too expensive for their blood, thanks.

We got hard times coming, folks. Our job should be to reach out, show how to do more with less, (upcoming lesson on couponing will be forthcoming from yours truly) ... not imply that yeah, you can buy your cheap turkey, but you're poisoning your children, the earth, stealing money from hard working farmers and then there's the turkey ...

I'm sure there was much research and analysis put into this article. But with apologies to Dr. Phil, do you wanna be right or do you want to reach out to people?

Not all UUs have the opportunity nor the means to pop over to Whole Foods for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Wait ... I just admitted that I don't shop at Whole Foods. Will my UU "member in good standing" card be revoked?

Articles like this make a very clear point: if you can afford to, you should buy organic, free range, humane to the workers and the animal, products. If you can't afford to ... you should do without. Eat a cheese sandwich.

Organic tofu cheese, of course.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

God and the Kitty

"God gave me this kitty," Little Warrior explained to the neighbor. And the person at the store. And the nurse.

We have a kindly, if brusque, crossing guard who helps Bo Peep and The Princess cross the street twice every school day. His granddaughter is in the same grade as The Princess, so he knows all about Little Warrior. Right before LW went in for her last (we hope) chemo, he sent home a wrapped package with the girls. Inside was a Webkinz kitty for Little Warrior.

LW knows him as "The Crossing Guard." She leaves off the article and the adjective and tells everyone that Guard gave her the kitty. Except she pronounces Guard "God."

One of the very sweet things when you go through something like this, is the outpouring from strangers. People who don't know you personally, they just know "of" you. And they feel the urge to reach out, to give your daughter a little bit of happiness.

Sounds like God to me.

Waking Up

Last week, as I was falling asleep, The Voice asked me, "What would make you happy right now?"

"For Little Warrior to not have cancer, to be skinny again, and to have a clean house," I answered promptly.

"Well," said The Voice in a gently mocking tone, "Two of those, you can take care of, all by yourself." And in a softer tone, The Voice said, "As for the other, you've done as much as you can do."

The next morning, when I woke up ... I Woke Up.

Today, I took Little Warrior for what I hope was her last time to get her finger pricked at the local doctor's office for a CBC. Afterwards, we stopped at Starbucks or as she calls it, the Cinnamon Cake Store, for a piece of cinnamon coffee cake. She was happy and jabbering away at everyone. "You're so pretty," said the lady behind us. "No, I'm Froggy Girl," LW corrected her. (Her secret superhero identity.)

"I have never seen her not smiling!" exclaimed the Barrista.

Oh, I have.

Having gone through this twice, I am a bit bemused that both times, ideas left me. I don't mean I was hopeless, or didn't think about things, or all was dark.

I mean ideas. Those butterfly gems that flit in and around you. Some go through your head then quickly disappear ... I know I had a good idea earlier ... some stay and grow, turning into sermons or projects or articles. I am an idea person. I don't mean that as a brag. "She has a thousand dreams, that won't come true. You know that she believes in them, and that's enough for you." For every one good idea that I follow up on, there are a hundred others that fall by the wayside. To have none swimming through my head leaves a cold vacuum.

Butterfly gems ... yep, that's how I see them. Imagine a big ole diamond with wings. Hard to catch. But if you're real still ... or, you know, have a butterfly net ...

First time we did cancer, I didn't know that the butterfly gems would come back. I just knew that I would never get in the pulpit again, would never go back to seminary, would never be a minister. Because I had nothing to say.

This time, I guess I subconsciously knew that it was just part of cancer, for me at least. So, I filled the vacuum by reading a lot of internet, watching a lot of tv. The political season provided a nice distraction.

Years ago, my sister left her abusive husband. It wasn't an up-and-do-it thing. It was well planned, took about 6 months. During that time, along with secretly packing things away, she became obsessed with the OJ trial. OB-SESSED. Didn't miss a minute of it, watched all the analysis, everything.

So I guess she and I have another thing in common.

This morning, driving to the doctor's office, driving to Starbucks, butterfly gems are all around. I'm glad they've come back.

Next week, we'll go for scans to find out if Cancer, The Sequel is over with. For now, at least. If they are, I'll go over to my seminary to pick up the spring semester registration form and make an appointment with my advisor.

Intro to Pastoral Care. Sounds good. And you know, I just might have some ideas on that topic. If I can catch them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If I Were Arrested ...

Today's meme, from the BFF-DRE:

If you saw me in a police car, what would you think I got arrested for? Answer, then if you want, post to your own journal and see how many crimes you get accused of.

(No fair looking at other comments first.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's a New Day

FREE Bone Marrow Registration during November

I know you've been wanting to do this, but the $52 fee for doing a good deed slowed you down. You didn't have your credit card by the computer. Or at least that's what happened to me.

For the month of November, thanks to a generous donation, you can sign up to be on the bone marrow donation list -- for free!

Simply go to: and at the "Become a donor" box, click Join. It'll take a few minutes to register, so plan accordingly.

If you join by November 30, then they'll send you a kit -- all you have to do is swab inside your cheek and send it back. Presto, you're on the list.

And you've done a pretty fabulous good deed, right in time for Thanksgiving.

Pass this on to your friends and family!

p.s. To my gay male friends ... I'm sorry, but it's just like donating blood, which is a bummer. Maybe that'll change under President Obama.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Art and Critical Thought Are Not Mutually Exclusive

I've been on a forced blogging break, due to an unrelenting headache that seems now to be abating. Let me just say, to those of you who suffer chronic migraines: man, am I sorry. I don't know how you accomplish anything.

It was good though, to have a break, because when I read the comment to my posting of The Tide is Turning video, my first thought was, "Boy, do I disagree with you!"

I do disagree with the commenter, but time gave me the opportunity to reflect on something else I admire about Obama -- he knows how to speak to a variety of folks.

When I first saw this was his speech at the Democratic convention. "What'd you think?" my mom asked, calling me up after the speech.

"Well ... what did you think?" I hedged.

"Well ... I don't know, both your dad and I thought it was missing something. It just wasn't as dynamic as some he's given."

Which was exactly how I felt.

Shortly after, my sister, an undecided, called. "That speech ... oh my God, now I get it! He has my vote. That was amazing!"

And I heard that sentiment echoed by several other not-Obama supporters. Like Pat Buchanan:

"It was a genuinely outstanding speech, it was magnificent. I saw Cuomo's speech, I saw Kennedy in '80, I even saw Douglas MacArthur, I saw MLK; this is the greatest convention speech and probably the most important because unlike Cuomo and the others, this was an acceptance speech, this came out of the heart of America, and he went right at the heart of America. This wasn't a liberal speech at all. This is a deeply, deeply centrist speech. It had wit, it had humor, and when he used the needle on McCain, he stuck it into McCain and it was funny. It was Kennedy's speech in '80. I laughed with Kennedy when he was needling Ronald Reagan."

Most of us, if something is working, we keep doing it. But Obama understood that he already had my vote, he already my mother's vote. He knew how to talk to those who weren't already sold.

Wow, thought I ... someone whose judgment is better than mine. Whoo-hoo!

Now, as to the issue in the comment: "Critical thought doesn't respond to gushy little songs."

I believe that "Anonymous" is looking at the equation backward. It is not about response, it is about creativity. The issue is not that a gushy little song could affect someone's vote (I don't believe it could), it's that the candidate inspires such strength of feeling, he motivates others to put their feelings of hope into song, art, or video.

Or cupcakes.

He inspires people. And that's good, because I suspect that the President Obama is going to ask citizens to make some hard choices, some sacrifices.

Poetry, art, are not mutually exclusive to critical thought. Have you read Audacity of Hope? I have. It's specifics. It's details.

A man with a plan can be inspiring. And as for posting videos and such, as the BFF-DRE says, (whom I will tell you, is a critical thinker with a jaundiced eye to corny rhetoric), "Sometimes, I want to surrender to a little bit of joy."

Right now is the time for that. Because come January, there is much work to be done. By all of us.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Not that I'm superstitious or anything ...

For those of us who are being ridiculed for being nervous about the election:

Garry Trudeau, I admire your moxie, but um ... wouldja mind going outside, turning around three times and spitting? Curse, too. Thankya.