Monday, May 25, 2009

Just Happy Again

I haven't posted in a while, but not because nothing has been happening. On the contrary, I have been going places, doing things, drinking beer, messing around in the garden, getting ready to go on vacation. [sung in a high falsetto] It's all too beautiful! This kind of high-on-life stuff is great, but kind of gaggy, too. Moderation must intercede before my life becomes all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns.

While I was lying on the hateful sofa, waiting to feel better, I told myself that I would be grateful when I could move again. In fact, I think I committed myself to that gratitude, in writing, right here on this blog. I remember reading a posting on by a woman who had a mastectomy a few weeks before I did. She wrote, "I go for hours without even thinking about the tissue expander, now." At the time, I thought, "No way! I will never be where she is!" (with accompanying tears and tiresome snuffling). Now, I go for hours without even thinking about it, either.

Sometimes it aches. Sometimes it prickles. Sometimes it stabs me so hard I see spots before my eyes and have to stop in my tracks until it stops. However, I haven't needed even an Ibuprofen in weeks. It is numb. It is ugly as hell. In the mornings when I dress, the kids watch with horrified fascination. "Sorry, Mom," Sara giggles, "but it just SO FREAKY!" "And good morning to you too, my little darlings." I still don't have full range of motion. If I lie flat on my back, I can't spread-eagle my arms for some reason. There are still a few surprising little things I can't do. You know that movement you make when you open a child-proof cap, ream a lemon, uncap a beer? BUT I CAN... weed my garden, make a bed, fasten my seat belt (which took a while), lift weights (with some kind of bizarre modifications), run 3.5 miles, take a short hike.

I went on a first little hike with the kids and my friend Robert the other day. I didn't even think about what I was doing until Sara asked me if I was feeling all right. I was. And today was kind of a big deal, because Simon and the kids and I went for a hike together for the first time since Si blew his knee last year. Just a short hike on the super-easy Pipeline Trail, but enough for Si to see that his quad could generally handle uphill and downhill. A good day, considering I thought for a while in January that they were going to amputate his foot. Rejoicing in the house of Diggins.

It is so easy when you are flat on your back to say, "When I am better, I will be grateful for simple things, like health, activity, whatever." The trick is to stay grateful. Right now, it's still pretty easy. I run along thinking, "I'm tired! Whew, am I tired! Oh, but grateful! I LOVE being out of breath! I LOVE sweat!" This will not last. Two of my better traits, adaptability and resilience, will work against me. With these qualities, I take things in, assimilate them and move on. So I'll be whining at suburban minutiae again shortly.

I still have some things to figure out. When will I have my next surgery and what will it be like? Will it depress me to be sent back to the sofa? Or will I handle it better now that I have seen that there really is a recovery out there somewhere? What do I think of the word "cured"? What about "survivor"? Both of those words make me pause these days. If I'm so resilient, where do I put this whole experience? Do I click on "close", so to speak? Or on "minimize?" What do I do about my occasional bouts of self pity and absorption, given the fact that my good friend E. is dealing with a far more difficult breast cancer diagnosis and treatment regimen?

Ooooh. Sounds boring. That kind of navel-gazing had better be interspersed with plenty of social gaffes, rants, kitchen failures and dicey parenting, yes? No unicorns, I swear.

Friday, May 15, 2009

With This Ring I Get Thee Off My Back

Yeah, Si replaced my wedding ring, which he lost the day I had surgery in March. In all honesty, I did not nag him for a new one. But since I was suggesting that he hand over one of his nipples in exchange, I think getting a new ring makes him feel safer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Klutz's Kitchen

I haven't done a cooking post for awhile - I haven't been doing much culinary stuff lately. But the new issue of my cooking magazine featured yummy things to do with strawberries, including this lovely-looking cake. All right!

I am going to forgive this cake for being girlie-girl pink. Strawberries will do that. And the color of the cake has nothing to do with breast cancer. You get breast cancer, next thing you find yourself surrounded by pink stuff. I don't think the cake is sending me a subliminal message or anything (Bake for the Cure)... Whatever. A thing of beauty is a joy until it's all eaten up, so here we go.
1 1/4 C sliced strawberries
2 1/4 C flour
2 1/4 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
2 lg. eggs
2 lg. egg whites
1 C low-fat buttermilk
1/4 t red food coloring
3 oz low-fat cream cheese
1/3 C butter, softened
2 T Grand Marnier (or cheap knock0off)
3 C powdered sugar
[A little inspiration before starting]
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. To prepare cake, place sliced strawberries in food processor; process until smooth.

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place granulated sugar and 1/2 C butter in a lg. bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg whites. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add pureed strawberries and food coloring; beat until just blended.
Ooooh. Gratifyingly pink. Geeze, do we even need the food coloring? Well, I will obey the instructions.
4. Divide batter between 2 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Well, I don't have 8-inch rounds. I have 9-inch rounds. No biggie - I just won't bake it as long.
Damn, that's pretty!
Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Um... first sign of trouble. They are looking a little flat. I don't think this is just about the 9-inch pans. I wish I could ignore the fact that Salt Lake City is at something like 5,000 feet above sea level but...I think that reality is about to hit home.
Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. (Sigh!) Yep. Should've modified the recipe... Still, it looks golden and lovely. Well, this one does. The other one had a crumbly time coming out of the pan.

5. To prepare frosting, place cream cheese, 1/3 C butter, and liqueur in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until just blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until just blended.
6. Frost cake and garnish with strawberries. Oh dear. It's looking irrevocable.
Then comes the phenomenon in which the cake crumbles under the pressure of being frosted, and you realize that you have created a shitty mess. Shall we scroll back up to the top of the page to look at the magazine photo? Oh, let's not.
Then you remember that you are NOT planning on entering this cake in the county fair, and that strawberries cover a multitude of sins. Notice Nathan's thieving mitts right there. He is undaunted by the cake's ugliness. Or its mass. Si ate it with relish, raving, "Wow, this almost competes with your biscuits for the title of Densest Matter in the Universe!'
They all loved it, which proves one of my pet theories: kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dessert, no matter the quality. I told them, "I could mix up some butter and sugar for you guys, and you'd love it." Nate said, "A perfect dessert just needs butter, sugar and wine." I think he meant the Grand Marnier?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Even Darth Vader Needs Some DownTime

I found all this going on in the bathroom sink this afternoon.
Caught by a paparazzo boating with R2D2. Darth Vader doesn't do his bad-guy image a lot of good. All they need is a picnic basket.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Yet Another Lost Item

I was getting up from the supper table last night, when I heard something tiny but kind of heavy fall to the floor, ping a couple of times, bump against my foot and go shooting away to who-knows-where. You know when it hits your foot a certain way, it could have flown 30 feet.

I figured it was one of the usual bits of kid-jetsam: a bead, a Lego, a ball bearing, a Runt. Whatever. I let it go and figured I'd find it later when I was sweeping. Or it's under the bookcase, which means it's just gone forever.

It did not occur to me that it could be something VALUABLE until I looked down at myself while changing and noticed that the twist-top had come off my piercing.

I was getting tired of the little barbell I wear in my navel. It has been the same one since I got the piercing back in the mid-life crisis of '03. I was thinking that I would buy something maybe. Or green. It has held on tight all these years, but I had to take it out multiple times in the last few weeks: MRI, both surgeries... Si has to put it back in for me, and maybe he didn't tighten it quite enough. I am bummed because:
  • I'm a cheapskate. It was just a fake sparkly stone in it, but the barbell cost me about $40.
  • Koi, the piercing place, doesn't open until 10:00 and it isn't near work. Waiting around for it to open tomorrow will suck - I have a lot of work waiting for me.
  • Yeah, I wanted a new one; but it would have been nice to have two, you have a choice...

I hunted for the little thingy, without luck. I offered $5 to the child who could find it. Nope. I don't really have time to go to Koi tomorrow, but if the barbell drops out entirely, I will have to be quick before the hole closes. I spent the day trying to keep the barbell in. Maybe my waistband would be enough... No, it started hurting and when I checked on the piercing, it had almost fallen out. You know when you lose an earring-back and you put a little piece of eraser back there? That doesn't work on your navel. Neither does tape. Then I tried chewing a little gum and sticking some gum on the end. In order to deal with the stickiness of that, I put a Band-aid over the whole thing. It dropped out while I was washing dishes tonight. Booger. Now I will have to go to Koi tomorrow. I suppose, too, that I have a gum-filled and Band-Aid-covered navel to deal with.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lone Ranger

This single red tulip makes its appearance every year. I laugh at its persistence. Once, a couple of years ago, I decided to get it out of there, and started digging. I dug down to the fossilized bottom of ancient Lake Bonneville and still had not reached the bulb. I kid you not: that tulip sends up a two-mile-long shoot every year. There it stays.