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Reading The Global Pigeon by Colin Jerolmack. It's research for the girls who save the world from fascism through their magical connection to urban birds book. It was recommended to me by none other than Donna Haraway who I met through Katie King at FOGCon. It does not have in it what I intended to be looking for but it has all sorts of other things that I didn't know I needed. That last category is a mark of a felicitous reading choice, I think.


Other than that, I'm trucking along. I find it is better for me to work on a bit of this and that right now because I can't concentrate very well what with the sleep deprivation and the chronic intestinal issues. Oh yes and now I have a very mild neuropathy too, so that takes some of my focus away as I obsess over its progress--if it gets to a certain level we have to stop chemo to prevent its becoming permanent. As it is, my dose has been dropped. This phase of chemo is just to be sure anyways: there's reason to think that in many cases the first round withn the adriamycin/cytoxan is all a person needs. But survival rate is higher and recurrence is lower for people who've had both, so that's where we're going. But yesterday was 6 of 12 doses, so the light is at the end of the tunnel either way. The oncologist says most of her patients make it to dose 9 or 10, but some make it all the way to 12. I would like to get to 12 just to be sure (and also quite honestly so I can feel so very tough, but I don't admit to that often), but I'm fine with following her advice.

We've been repairing the outside of the house and clearing foliage because the painters are coming on Saturday. I probably shouldn't own a house because I'm not houseproud enough to do what needs to be done. Honestly when stuff gets broken or dirty I don't care enough at all. It's weird because I used to take pride in just doing what needs to be done and in mechanical competence. But I'm kind of broken a bit myself, I guess.

While at the library I also picked up a Tobias Buckell book because I keep bouncing off his writing and I want to like his work. And another book called Watermind by M.M. Buckner that was near it on the shelves because it looked interesgting and I've never heard of it or the author. I want to read more genre stuff that's more recent but it's hard at the library because most of the requests for material seem to be coming from the grognards.

Emma told me there's a magnificent petrified forest in Chemnitz and now I want to go there more than ever. My dream itinerary for next spring is: Eastercon, a couple weeks with Frank and Hana in Loughborough, some days in Paris with Andrea, and then on to Chemnitz, Prague, and maybe a bus tour of Poland and if my bro-and-sis-in-law are in Langaland, a few days in Denmark. I imagine it would be summer before I got back home.

I would also like to travel in the States some: to Portland to see my aunt and a friend or two, and maybe the Woodstock Memory Hole if anything is going on there right now: to LA to see my other aunt: to Houston to visit Nancy Zeitler, a friend who's been living there for years & I've never visited her there: to Silver Spring Maryland to visit Katie King, who I visited over a dozen years ago: to Chattanooga to visit Sharon Farber, who I visited 29 years ago: to Philadelphia, just to see it again after 50 years gone from it: to New York, to visit Phil Josselyn, who I've never visited & when he visits me I realize how much I miss him: and to Boston, to visit Mary Porter, who I visited 26 years ago but never in the house she lives in now.

That's a lot.
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I have an occasional private post for the less interesting/more disgusting aspects of chemotherapy that I want to keep track of, and that takes up time I'd otherwise spend posting public posts. Believe me, you're better off.

On the other hand, we did go for a nice walk in the Pogonip yesterday evening, and Zluta was very happy about it, especially since both Andrea and Zack took her for brief sprints. That dog could run for hours if she had someone to run with her.

Also, the library bought The Global Pigeon on my request so I have some research to do for the next not-Poland book.
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When I got Zluta I got her for her personality. I've been telling people I got her because I knew she'd be a pain in the ass--demanding lots of walks and exercise and playtime. It's true. And she does. She demands a lot. Though as she gets older she also hangs out companionably with me for hours too. I've mostly convinced her that coming when called at the dog park is a lovely, joy-filled occupation but she has a new evasive action she pulls in the yard at night. I rarely let her out after dark because I'm afraid she'll mix it up with the wildlife (mostly rats, raccoons, and opossums, at night: but fox and coyote and even mountain lions have been seen within a block or two of the house. No, I live in an urban neighborhood, I promise, it's just that there's open space in it that connects by way of the San Lorenzo River and various other bits to highly-impacted wildish habitat).

But lately I've not always gotten the back door closed before I wander upstairs and she notices access to the dark yard. She goes out quietly and just hangs around until we cajole or force her inside. Sometimes I can't see her at all because she's ghosting around in the foliage and she seems to know this and keeps shtum for a long time. Once I find her she starts evasive maneuvers and will not come just because I call her. I can always flush her by throwing windfall apples in the opposite direction from where she is. She can't resist chasing them for long. It might take a few lobs before she falls for it though. Once she does that, it's only a matter of time before I get her on the deck by lobbing apples up there. The first one in that direction might not do it, but the second will.

She knows the jig is up at this point. You can see it in her body language and the fact that she drops her evasive efforts. When I catch up to her at the base of the stairs or on the deck she goes into the posture that says "I know you're going to pick me up. I don't approve so I'm not leaping into your arms but I will lift my body a bit to make it easier because that's more comfortable for me."

Last night she didn't sleep with me at all. This is interesting because she usually sleeps almost the whole night with me, and sometimes sleeps part of the night with my roommate K and part of the night with me. She slept on the livingroom couch downstairs all night, something I don't like to allow because if she wakes up alone down there she gets weirded out by some noise and starts barking in the wee hours of the night. Or if I get up to pee she hears me and wakes up disoriented and starts barking. But last night she was quiet all night--I know because I slept not one minute. Between the dexamethasone and a glass of jasmine tea and overeating from the stress of meeting the sleep doctor yesterday I couldn't even close my eyes. The sleep doctor was a weird thing. I have had excellent luck with all my doctors the last few years, in that I've not only like their medical practice but our conversations have been mutually pleasant. With this doctor, I have nothing to complain about as far as he goes, but I kept feeling like I was insulting him or making other gaffes in our conversation. It was exhausting.

At least my meeting with his scheduler was pleasant.

I'm going to have a sleep study on August 18. I started having my doubts about doing it now because of the chemotherapy and things like the dexamethasone adding their own level of disruption to my sleep, but Dr. Takahashi Hart said the information they'll be gathering will be informative either way and anyway they don't expect me to sleep well during the study. He says if I do sleep better during the study than at home, that's information too. Like I said, I felt that he was being polite and appropriate, and giving me enough good quality information and asking me for questions and opinions, but I felt like I was rubbing him the wrong way, which is an unsettling feeling. I did say I'm skeptical about sleep apnea because it sounds like a one size fits all solution these days, to which he said, you could say "but almost everybody wears eyeglasses too." and I said he had a point.

On another front, I made a plain cake (one of those buttermilk types though I used whole milk yogurt because that's what I have) and put lots of thin cut rhubarb in it and I think it is the most successful rhubarb thing I have ever made. I used more sugar than I would have because rhubarb, but I could have gotten away with less sugar. I'm pretty sure anyways. I can taste sugar again. Somewhat. Sweet things no longer taste nasty, flat and bitter. And kale tastes almost normal. But I still have a strange plastic taste in my mouth that makes me mistrust my senses.

There was a reunion potluck for Good Beginnings people last night, which is where I had the tea--I thought it wouldn't make any difference but zero hours sleep is substantially less than four! I hadn't seen some of these people for twenty years, but we fell right in and told each other our stories. I as always talked too much.
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The satsuma plum tree is, the woman at the nursery said, an old man plum tree now, and lacks resilience to fight disease. I didn't ask her to tell me why an old man instead of an old woman--after all, it has babies--I think I know. I think it is an old man because of drunken old classical Chinese poets, who write about plum trees frequently. I think the plums trees are Chinese poets.

Anyway, she says I should be preparing for its demise a few years from now (by buying a baby plum tree next winter so it will be bearing when my old man gives up the ghost), and coddling it fiercely in the meantime. That will mean pruning it generously to bring a lot of sun and warmth into the center of the tree and also to keep the whole thing in close reach I can practice more focused cleanliness next year and after.

The background: suddenly, four years ago, my plums started rotting instead of ripening. I tried various lesser measures, and I suspected a parasite, but having nearly eliminated the signs of that cherry fly, the rot was even worse than before.

I did manage to harvest a lot of plums though. I made nine jars of plum jam, three jars of plum butter (which is more concentrated and uses less sugar--it took the same quantity of plums to make the three jars of butter as the nine jars of jam), thirteen racks of dehydrated slices, three bags of frozen slices for cobbler, a fresh cobbler, and some stewed plums I ate with cottage cheese because in some ways I am an old-fashioned old lady. I did this wrapped around chemo day, too. That's misleading. Chemo day itself is not a low-energy day, because I get dexamethasone the day before and the day of. It's a steroid and makes me a busy girl, at least for some hours at a time until I crash.

I also had strawberries from Grey Bears and a handful of alpine strawberries from the garden so I also made four jars of strawberry jam, bringing that to eight with the strawberry jam from May. I think I am done with jam for the year unless we get a couple-few quarts of blackberries. These are eight-ounce jars and I think it may be a bit of a haul to get through a couple dozen of them.

The woman at the nursery said in general plants are having a hard time this year even though the drought is over. She believes the plants and the soil are just so stressed by the long drought that they can't just grow on their own the way they used to. She says she's coddling everything, feeding things more than in the past, watering them more than in the past, and that it's been harder to get things started. I must say that sounds a lot like what I've been experiencing--losing that Italian prune (which I'm going to try again with this winter too), my vegies just poking along, and my parsley! Which usually by this time of year is rampant, I've had to restart several times and it's barely poking along. This is unacceptable. A person needs plenty of parsley at hand. I've had so little this year, and now that I finally have enough to pick a little it just cuts right through all the weird tastes in my mouth and makes me feel much better.

I suppose the apple tree, which is also nearly forty years old, is probably also marked for senescence and death. I'll ask about that this winter and see what I want to do about it.

Today I trimmed the front yard roses and things. Advice to the young: roses are nice but they are overrated. You do not need their thorns and their overenthusiastic growth habits. There are many flowering shrubs which do not snag your clothes and make you bleed. You could consider growing salvias, passionflowers, abutilons, fuschias, or even hydrangeas if you don't mind hideousness or snails.

Other than that, I considered writing, and worked out what a sentence ought to be, and messed around online and snored a little. Monday I'm having a consultation with the sleep doctor but I wonder if that's premature? Because whatever my sleep problems are, they are surely different in some significant ways while I am undergoing chemotherapy.

Zluta is put out by not having had her morning walk, but it's honestly too hot for her, so she's not campaigning very vigorously. In an hour or so I'll take her to the dog park and that will satisfy her.

Oh, and an irreproducible (not really) recipe, just because I haven't done one for a while. It's potentially a kind of luxury dish, though it's also a leftovers-and-oddments dish.

I took five skinny little green onions and a scant scant handful of giant parsley from the yard, and I sauteed them in probably too much olive oil along with a handful of sliced mushrooms, some diced leftover lamb, some chopped Costco marinated artichoke hearts, a few canned garbanzos, and some frozen peas. When the green things were wilted, the mushrooms lightly browned, and everything else heated, I said it was done and I ate it up yum. It was nice and the parsley made me feel better.

I was getting all geared up to try to force more potassium in my diet because last week's blood test showed me a bit Low, but checking up on the significance of it reveals that low potassium and low serum protein pretty much just indicate that I've being taking steroids. I'm still going to gobble up a couple potatoes and bananas and things but I'm not stressing it any more.
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If I was a fanfiction writer there is a thing I would do.

Last night I was high as a kite on dexamethasone (a steroid I take prior to taxol infusions so as to ward off the possibility of neuropathy) and I couldn't sleep at all. So having run in to the radio play of "Jacobowski and the Colonel," I listened to that. Being shorter than the Danny Kaye movie I imprinted on as a child, it didn't have all the bits, but it was good.

Today I'm thinking that if I were the fanfiction type, what I'd want to do would be an AU retelling in a science fiction landscape (because that's where I feel most comfy, no other reason), in which Jacobowski and the Colonel end up paired overtly, Marianne throws them both over for being two complicated to deal with and picks up with Szabuniewizc--this is almost canon, as the former two do leave together on the ship to London and Marianne and Szabuniewizc stay behind to wait for them in France--but also, along the way they lose the ridiculous macguffin of the idiot-ass plans and spend the plot development time breaking partisans and refugees out of capture and leading them to the Pyrenees-equivalents (as Jan Yoors was doing with the Roma family he adopted himself into)into the Spain-equivalent, so that the Colonel's bravery and ridiculous honor mentality and fatalism and Jacobowski's resourcefulness and flexibility and stoicism continually come into play in high-stakes action leading inevitably to an entirely different scene at the docks where it makes more sense for Jacobowski to be grandstanding with cyanide pills (which do not feature in the radio play unless I dozed off a bit there at the end).

Actually the thing to do would be to file the serial numbers off completely since the structure of the plot has now changed a lot in which case everybody can go back to having non-romantic relationships with a dollop of tenderness in there with the conflict. Also, Szabuniewizc gets to be much much more of a person! And maybe a woman.

On another front, my left hand feels funny right in the skin layer. I am noting this because I am watching for neuropathy because it terrifies me. I am thinking it is the amazingly dry skin I have there because of the taxol, and I am moisturizing a million times a day. But watching. And I told the nurse about it, though I said I didn't think it was neuropathy because of the area that feels funny, and because there is no numbness or clumsiness. I forgot to mention my wobbly legs after sitting too long on the toilet because I got lost in a phone game (Jewels Star Mineral, the only jewels game worth playing), but I don't think that's neuropathy either, I think it's pinching the sciatic nerve sitting like that in such a doofus fashion for so long. Recording it here so when I think about it again in the future I can find this date.

The hand-foot syndrome I previously recorded as being so very very mild has developed in a doofus way also. All the pain and disinclination to move went away pretty quick and then I thought I was getting away with nothing at all because the peeling took a long time to start. Now more than a month after the last adriamycin infusion the bottoms of my feet are quietly and painlessly--but grotesquely--peeling right off in great flapping sheets of parchment. I'm tearing off the easy bits so they can go into the garbage without getting all over the floor and into Zluta's greedy little mouth (yes, dogs are gross, so what else is new), and scrubbing with the brush after showers and sponge baths, slathering thick layers of cocoa butter on to them, and wearing socks all the time if I can bear it (sometimes it is too hot). My hands have a suede-like texture because the calluses are not so thick there and the peeling is very fine-grade, but as I said, I think it's making them feel odd. Not painful, not numb, not tingly per se, just kind of dry and prickly.

Other than a lot of missed sleep and incoveniently-placed make-up sleep and about two and a half days of delayed-onset excruciating abdominal pain last week my first taxol went uneventfully, and this week looks to be the same, though I hope for less pain since I did discover that tramadol helped a lot last time. I don't think of pain medication for sometimes quite a lot time, usually just planning to ride it out unless there are exercises for it. This is not always wise. If I had taken tramadol earlier last week I might not have needed to miss folk dancing again.

I just read that paragraph and it's not clear why I think last week was uneventful, especially noting that I didn't list the digestive upset. Maybe because the sleep disturbance and digestive upset are par for the course if you're injecting systemic poison into your carotid artery for a couple hours a week? And because it was clear they were self-limiting? And not really huge in the scale of things I'm concerned with at the moment?

Anyway, I'm not writing the Jacobowski and the Colonel rewrite fic, at least not now, but I'm pleased I can think of it.
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I was just singing along to myself and I hit upon the deeply weird little ballad "The Lady of Carlisle"--a high-tone lady chooses between suitors by asking them to retrieve her fan from a lion's den, and one of them accepts--and I started thinking about the song in a new and different way. Literary types like to have the brave fellow retrieve the item (which might be a glove or a handkerchief rather than a fan) and give it to the lady along with a refusal to marry her on the grounds that a woman who would do that is not one you'd want to spend your life with. Folk tradition usually has her throw herself in his arms saying "Here's the prize that you have won," the end, implied happy ever after.

But I was thinking about this other detail in the traditional versions. Before the toss, she "lies speechless on the ground" for half an hour while the fellows stand around gaping. I started wondering about this. The introductory verses explain that she's pretty reluctant to marry in the first place. What if the whole thing is either an expression of that reluctance, or possibly an attempt to get both her suitors to give up in disgust and leave her free to continue in spinsterhood? She's be able to say, "Well, I tried, but nobody would meet me halfway..."

And then she doesn't have to subject herself to the whim of the bold sea captain or the brave lieutenant!
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Friday I decided that, since my blood counts were so close to normal, I could probably stop cowering before my exhaustion. I could spend less time napping and lounging in bed, and try to work up my stamina gradually (of course, this may be obsolete as of the first taxol infusion on Wednesday, we'll see). So I decided to dance more than I had the Friday before (seven dances instead of four, oh well, it's still more). And also to walk more. Yesterday in the late morning I took Zluta to Antonelli Pond and we walked almost a mile, which is not much but I'd been turning around way before that and we both had more fun. Then in the evening we went on the old rehab route around the soccer field, which is also almost a mile. And this morning! We went to Pogonip, met up with a Bernese mountain dog and her nice man, and walked to the place where the spring runs over the Spring Trail. Round trip: 2.8 miles. And I am no more tired at this time of day than I have beem, though my calf muscles are trying to get me to agree that they have been mighty today and deserve a medal (to which I reply, no you have not been mighty, you have been normal, all you get is this nice bed we're sitting on).

So I think I was correct in my assessment that I had reached the point where more resting was counter-productive. It's always a question with tiredness or pain: "does this need rest or exercise or both? How much does it need?" The most common answer, I think, is "both." And I think also, that with exercise, if it's not making things worse, it's making things better.

Meanwhile Blue Shield and Sutter are up to shenanigans again. A year after my first knee surgery I get a bill from Sutter saying that Blue Shield has paid everything they're going to pay and now I owe 400 dollars. Of course I don't have 400 dollars. Even more to the point, last year I paid every bill I was given, and Blue Shield said I had hit the limit of what I had to pay in that year, so there's no reason for them to refuse to pay, and no reason for Sutter to expect me to poay instead. I've Twitter-shamed them both,because that worked before,  but since it's a weekend, they might not see it. So I may reply to my Twitter chain on Monday to make it new again.

Another nice effect of the morning's walk is that the Bernese mountain dog played with Zluta on the way and now Zluta is willing to crash. She coughed kind of a lot on the way back, which I attribute to dust on the trail.She's had this particular cough as long as I've known her. She doesn't cough often but when she does it's always the same kind of deep, honking cough that moves her whole body. She never seems to slow down after coughing like that. The vet thought when I first got ZLuta that the cough would be self-limiting and didn't indicate a bigger problem. I'll bring it up when we see her again, but I think it's functional, not easily treatable, and it doesn't seem to bother her except while she's actually coughing.

And now for some more writing!
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Today's blood test results came shockingly fast. My blood counts have been only just barely out of the normal range, and today they are almost all just a wee bit closer to normal.My last dose of adriamycin/cytoxin was a little less than the doses before, because of my hands and feet bothering me, so maybe that's why I've started recovering already (it hasn't been very long).  Which doesn't explain why I'm so tired and have so little stamina. I'm starting to think that's in my head and maybe I should ignore it.Even the shortness of breath when I climb stairs. Maybe that's from indulging the tiredness. So maybe I should push myself more. I've already started making myself go for more walks instead of just taking Zluta to the dog park every time and sitting on the bench while she runs around.  But the walks have been shorter. And I missed a couple weeks of dancing and then  only danced a couple-few times because I felt like I'd run upstairs after each dance.

So maybe this is a self-created problem and I should power through it  I'll play around with it and see how I feel.

On Wednesday (five days from now) I start Round Two of chemotherapy--taxol. I'm taking it at the "less dense" option because the side efffect I'm trying to avoid is neuropathy, which I am more bothered by than nausea. But the less dense option is a weekly dose for three months instead of a biweekly, stronger dose for two months. So we'll see how that goes.

While I'm complaining: my tastebids have not returned to normal. Currently green vegetables mostly taste bad except for broccoli, starchy food mostly tastes weird and half-tasteless, and sweet things have no taste except for a hint of bitter. I end up only wanting protein foods with a fair amount of fat in them. Well, and porridge, which has a comforting mouthfeel even though it doesn't taste like much of anything. I just don't bother to sweeten it any more. Shredded wheat is okay too.

It looks like I'm writing again, slowly  but surely, one good day a week and several less sterling ones with some wordage in them. Also still researching, because I don't know enough about crows and pigeons. Though I know a lot more now. Yesterday I fell down a sartorial rabbithole trying to determine what some comfortable working class teen boys would wear in almostlike the thirties in almost like Central Europe and even though Google failed me egregiously (somehow returning every decade but the thirties, and no, I didn't put a minus sign there), I did finally find a vintage photos site whose tagging system worked for once and finally saw enough children and teens to form an opinion. Plus fours were a thing, apparently, and therefore, I can use them to differentiate class identification. I don't have to research the Sokol this time because I fell down that rabbithole a few years ago doing military history in Czechoslovakia and I still have my notes.

It's maybe going to be a darker book than the previkous one, buit I have to remember that these girls are going to save the world. So that's all right, right?

On another front, as Zluta matures she has decided that it is positively her job to chastize abnormalities in the night. Unfortunately she believes that if she can hear it, it is abnormal. Fortunately she seems to think that her barking is only effective if she performs it downstairs, so barricading the stairway caused her to give up and go to sleep.  She's pretthy insistent about me getting up pretty regularly, which is what I got her for. But for some reason she's letting me lounge and write as the case may be this afternoon.
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So suddenly after so many years of people saying that using the word fascism was unjustified hyperbole and divisive hysterical nonsense, we have...unbridled our fascists in one way and another, and we have political assassinations that nobody can pretend are anything but (though the media seem to be trying), we have armed fascists stabbing people in the street, we have xenophobic violence all over the place, and unrepentant fascists making a credible claim for political office.

I want to say something about the scene in Sacramento this weekend. I know for sure a lot of people are going to be sayting the antifascists shouldn't have been there, shouldn't have fought, that this makes them "just like them," and so on. That's nonsense. We are a species with a collective memory. We know very well that fawscists unopposed escalate and carry out more and more violence on the ground and in the political arena. Yes, most anti-fascist work should be political and cultural. But there needs to be a faction of people who are willing to fight in the streets, to protect the rest of us.

Just in case you don't know, the people who brought knives to their permitted demonstration were called things like the "Traditionalist Worker's Party" (about which more in a minute), "Blood and Honor," and oh so surprisingly the "KKK." I belive the first group got the permit. Their name is obscure enough that the clerks who gave them the permit could be excused for not knowing what they were up to. I do hope that the days of pleading First Ammendment protection for groups whose stated goal is to kill and harm other people are over.

More about that name "Traditional Worker's Party:" You know what's a tradition? Stealing a reference to class consciousness to sugar-coat fascism.  "National Socialist" for a major example: the reason they called themselves that is that socialism was very, very popular in Europe at the time. Notice how the media is collaborating with the fascists this time around, in casting right-wing racism, anti-progressivism, attacks on unions even, as "working class" attitudes and behavior. Where they keep talking about the "white working class" as if all the non-white people were somehow elites. Using the word "elite" to characterize positions that put the needs of actual working class people forward. Every time a media person does this, they are building the fascist movement.

"Antifa" has been around at least twenty years--I want to say mored like thirty or more because I think I first heard that word for it when Frank was a young child, but I can't swear to that. This is a movement of mostly younger people who are willing to take on the physical risk of facing the fascists. Confrontation isn't all they do. They also do what we used to call propaganda. One thing I remember from quite a long while back was a sticker that was distributed in France that said "Hands off my brother," meaning don't persecute immigrants.  They were willing to fight to protect people, too.

It's not a cushy position to hold.These right-wing organizations are conceived and organized for the purpose of intimidating, harming, and ultimately killing people they disapprove of. They have no qualms. In addition, the law is not generally on your side. They will protect the fascists before the anti-fascists. And in California, you can go to jail under the lynch law for attempting to protect a person held by the police.


So I guess what I'm saying is be grateful for the antifascists who brawl in the street. That doesn't mean you need to be among them: that's a job for the young, strong and impulsive. And most of the work that needs to be done is political and cultural anyway. But still, you can donate a dollar to the defense fund or something.
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Yesterday was a productive day. I did a lot of housework, mostly disinfecting things, and I rode my bike to the library and got a couple of (ultimnately somewhat disappointing) books about pigeons for the book I'm working on, and oh yes, I worked on the book--almost a thousand words, which is approaching normal! And I am beginning to have an understanding of the plot.

Yesterday started at 5 am. Today, 6, though I didn't write till 7.

My gosh, the crows are vocal this morning.

he point is, that when I look at the book, I don't see a white hole where my story brain should be. That was really disconcerting this last month or so. It was really rare that I could contemplate a story and see the warp and weft of it, or the lines of movement, or pull anything new out of it. It was like part of my brain was just missing. I suppose it was that "chemo-brain" phenomenon people talk about, but different. I haven't been more forgetful or vague about responsibilities--in fact I think I have been more responsible than normal--but this vital function of myu mind has been just absent. I was afraid it would not come back, and I'd have lost it all before I got it, again.
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There's a thing that can happen during cancer treatment, when you are getting doxyrubicin (adriamycin), or one of a number of other drugs. The hands and feet, specifically the palms, soles, and digits, can become painful and inflamed, and the skin especially under the callouses can blister and even fall off. Naturally, I got the mild one, with a bruised, burning feeling, but no damage to my callouses (I had a little blistering on my fingers where I was also damaging them with hand sewing before I got a thimble--I didn't used to need a thimble because I have such tough skin). Oh, right--remember how I was saying I needed bigger shoes even though the foot rule at the shoe store didn't show that my feet had actually grown in length? That was hand-foot syndrome.

The problem seems to be that the circulation of the hands and feet are affected by the chemical. The small vessels are damaged. I think? And there's too much blood pooling there. The treatment seems to be pretty simple though. My oncologist dropped the intensity of my last dose (which did not prevent me last week being kind of terrible, but it's over now so I can say I regret nothing). Also she suggested I keep my hands and feet well moisturized. So I did that.

Yesterday my fingers started being really painful, so I figured I had forgotten or missed something the doctor had told me, and I did a nice little searchj on hand-foot syndrome with adriamycin, and came up with more information. I had been doing some things wrong. It's important to avoid friction and heat when hand-foot syndrome is an issue, and I had been just doing whatever, and it had been a very hot couple of days. One of the whatever things I did just before my fingers started hurting a lot was dissolving laundry soap and powdered bleach in the hot water coming into the washing machine, as I was disinfecting my bedding. Our water's a bit hard and laundry chemicals often clump into rocks if you don't hold them under the stream of water to dissolve. But I didn't have to do it in my bare hands!

Icing or cooling the hands with water are recommended, but icing sounds very unpleasant to me at the momednt, so I've been putting cool water on my hands whenever I think of it since yesterday and I can say that they have not gotten worse and I think they have gotten a little better. Also, I have made sure to put something on my feet when I go out in the hot yard, and continuing to moisturize, though now I am taking care not to rub the stuff in  too vigorously, so as to avoid friction and heat.

So manyway, if you find yourself ever on adriamycin or other chemotherapy, take care of your hands and feet with moisturizers and cool water, you'll be more comfortable!
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One of the things I can't square with my experience is the "feminist sex problem." The one where feminists of my generation were suppoosed to have turned their backs on sex, to have equated seuality with patriarchal oppression--where we were supposed to have abandoned our sexual bodies and turned our backs on anything flirtatious and fun.

Because we all cut off our hair and threw away our underwear and wore nothing but generic "masculine" clothes, don't you know, and we were just horrified at the idea of rambling around in bed. Yes.

I see this coming from people I would think would know better than to spread such nonsense. People who I think generally have good ideas. But they weren't there then, so they are free to make up history as it suits their current prejudices, I guess.

This is not how I experienced those years. I was (and am) a fairly plain-dressing person, fond of jeans and loose shirts, and not fond of silky undies (to mke they are sweaty and cut into my skin, not sexy feelings). But for me, these clothing choices were always highly sensual, and the little decorations that I did wear (remember the lace-trimmed henley tee? the embroidered chambray shirt?) seemed sexy to me. And to the nice fellow, oddly enough. As for hair--I kept mine long, mostly, but it was a pretty fancy deal the couple times I had it short. Either way, my hair was simple, but it was part of the sexual body I had. My choice: not to repel the patriarchy, but to be comfy in my body and therefore freely sexual. In my terms.

There are a lot of nuances to sex and sexuality, and really truly telling people that the young women of forty years ago were anti-sex if they weren't into whatever body presentation you have currently decided is the accepted sex-positive one is not helpful in any way: not helpful to anybody's feminism, and not helpful to anybody's sexuality.
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I forget where I am in documenting the Amazing Adriamycin Adventure, but in reality that part of the cancer treatment is about over. I have had the last infusion of Adriamycin-Cytoxin, last Tuesday, and now I have a three-week break before I start the taxol infusions. I'm grateful. Of course.

My latest complaint though is that chemo has robbed me of my greatest culinary consolation--garlic! As of today, suddenly--I can almost pinpoint the hour--garlic tastes terrible and has an awful pervasive aftertaste. So much so that I had to triple-wash my hands and soak my nighttime mouth guard in mouthwash. And guess what I innocently did this morning before I knew? I cooked! I cooked lentil soup with lots of garlic, brussels sprouts with garlicky tomato sauce, and I made a garlicky onion dip for a treat with some potato-veggie chips that have always been a favorite of mine because they are so garlicky, K's pizza almost made me cry, because it was so nasty.

Well, things change, Hopefully I'll get garlic back when this is all over. Meanwhile I have developed a taste for fruit and milk products, with or without cereals, and delicate vegetable purees. In other words, I eat like a baby.

My fingers still smell like garlic...
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A fellow I follow on Twitter asked this question sincerely so I'm trying to answer it. It's not a Twitter sort of answer: it has parts, and history, and nuance. So here it is.

Zoos started off as conspicuous consumption. Some rich person would show off how much wealth they had by accumulating exotic animals and keeping them confined. There wasn't too much thought put intto the animals' welfare. Since the emphasis was on the large and dangerous sorts, the approach towards managing the animals was all about being tough and forceful. The lives of the animals were not all that good.

Over time, zoos became places for public entertainment and more and more, public education. At first this education was "See what marvels the earth has." But as zoos also became places for biological study, the education of the public also became more sophisticated. Everything from evolution and ecological biology to animal behavior was presented in zoos. What also happened over time is that zoos changed in their orientation to the animals and in their orientation to the world. The more zookeepers knew about the animals, the more this changed.

Even when I was a kid a zoo was a fundamentally sad place. The animals moped in small cages. But already this was changing, along with the purpose oif zoos. I read about this change in one of my favorite series of books, Gerald Durrell's memoirs of animal collecting. He started out collecting exotic species from around the world for zoos in Europe. He wrote affectionately and humorously about the animals and his adventures, but in later books he started collecting for a different purpose. He started feeling an urgency to save animals from habitat degradation and overexploitation. He founded his own zoo dedicated to just that. I don't know how much of a ioneer he was, but it was his generaton of zookeepers that began to develop zoos with the modern sensibility.

Modern zoos invest whatever resources they can muster into appropriate environments for their animals. Not all animals really need a safari park type of zoo, but few of them can thrive without some sort of specialty environment. For some of them, it only means that they need a place to hide (a box with a hole in it might do, but there are arificial hollow logs made just for this purpose). Others need places to climb, or complex environments that change from day to day so they can explore. Attention is paid to the kind of social life the animals need. Some animals need a decent sized group to live in. Others are so solitary that they are terribly stressed if they have to share a space with another.

Something I learned when Emma started her job as a zookeeper is that most modern zookeepers are women. This seems to have gone along with a change in mindset about animal care (there's a chicken or egg question here I can't begin to answer). You rarely see a zookeeper with a cattle prod, and never with a whip, anymore. Instead zookeepers use cognitive-behavioral training to teach animals what they need to know to be safe in the zoo environment, to be comfortable and content, and honestly, for the entertainment of the animals. The last time I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, they brought down the albatross who lives on the roof (who I had met on an earlier visit thanks to Emma's back-of-the-exhibits access). The handler said to the audience, "You may think that we've brought our albatross here for your entertainment. In reality, we've brought you all here for hers." The albatross proved this was correct by craning her neck around to observe the audience, and when she exhibited her behaviors for them, she was clearly comfortable, relaxed, and enjoying herself.

But why do zoos even persist? We're moving away from the private zoo, the animal-show aspect is diminishing, we all agree that animals should have a natural and comfortable life, everybody hates confinement.

Remember Gerald Durrell and his idea for a safe haven for animals? Many (most? I don't know numbers) zoos see themselves this way. Petting zoos for children are made up largely of rescued domestic animals. At Happy Hollow, where Emma works, a lot of their animals are geriatric, old animals who would have died long ago if they weren't at the zoo (and many of those are on "quality of life watch"--once they reach a point where they are in a protracted state of dying, and they are not getting anything out of living longer, the keepers will help the animals complete their dying). Other animals end up at the zoo in other ways, like the injured turkey vulture (he's kind of vindictive, but so beautiful). But mostly zoos are a haven for species more than individuals.

Everybody knows about pandas, how they have so much trouble living and breeding in the wild. They're such an extreme example that they're not a good one, because they take up a lot of resources for indifferent breeding success. Let me tell you about the lemurs at Happy Hollow instead. Madagascar has a terrifically dangerous situation with respect to its environment. It's large for an island, but an island it is, and it's terribly stressed from many directions. Colonial exploitation combined with limited space for indigenous agriculture and also climate change have resulted in great pressures on the forest habitats of the lemurs.Add to this the direct exploitation of the lemurs. Currently the Malagasy people are trying to heal their environment and save their indigenous species, but they are poor and have few resources (and mixed motivations among the people there, to be honest). They are making progress, but it will take time to save the lemurs' habitat. The lemurs don't have time. Zoos provide a safe haven for lemurs to live while Madagascar works on their end. Happy Hollow is one of several zoos providing a refuge for lemurs, They participate in a breeding program for a couple of species, giving the lemurs a place that is safe and congenial to live out their lives and raise their babies.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's albatross lives on the roof because she was injured also. But more importantly, the aquarium is a center of conservation work. This takes several forms. One is informing the public with displaysincluding  just what does happen when a plastic bottle hits the ocean, or what we find inside the stomach of a prematurely-dead seagull, or with activities that teach ways that even children can actively contribute towards rebuilding the health of the oceans. Another is sponsoring research. ALmost all animal research has environmental repercussions, even if it's something like how birds learn their songs or what spiders do with all those eyes.

For people, zoos provide a place for research, some of which is vital to preserving species and their habitats, and education: go to any zoo now and you'll see chatty signage and docents who will tell you everything from the life cycle of the animals they're presenting to what you can do to help preserve their habitat. You're going to see it brought home again and again that people are not the only animals that matter. Modern zoos represent a worldview that no longer puts humanity at the top of a ladder of existence, but now in the middle of a web of life, distinguished mostly by our power to destroy or enhance the world around us.
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So I did buy a lovely pair of red suede sneakers. The sole on these is actually lighter than the sole on the shoes they're replacing, so they feel very nice. Also, I barely needed to size up on them, whereas in the model that was more like the ones I'm replacing the size difference was more clear. What I think I will do is wait until winter to replace the (new! this year! and already bought twice because the first pair was stoilen off my porch!) hiking/rain boots.

But while I was there I decided to just check my size on the good old Industry Standard Foot Rule that they keep at the shoe store. Just to check, you know, and to be able to say what my "real" size is...

Well. That was a surprise, and it leads me to ask some questions about the shoe industry. Because according to the good old Industry Standard Foot Rule that is the same in all shoe stores in the United States and has been exactly the same in design as long as I can remember...my feet are size seven and a half. Which is still a change since high school, remember, when I measured a size six (but always bought sevens because 7D would go on my feet and 6EEEE didn't exist). But I have to buy size nine--for length. Not for width, which in this particular style was quite well addressed by the 8-1/2.

Now, I'm used to this in the garment industry, but there the discrepancy is largely in the other direction. I mean when you buy clothes at the store the size is about two sizes smaller in name than it is in the industry standard that it's made to. So if you buy a size 20 shirt in a department store, and then you decide to make a shirt from a pattern, most likely you will need a size 24 pattern. Not that you can find a size 24 pattern for a wearable shirt currently-- pattern companies have abandoned my size range again, which I suppose is just as well as they've also given up actually drafting larger patterns and just increase some of the outlines and leave some of them the same without rhyme or reason. I've bitten the bullet and determined I have to draft my own patterns from now on. I have even made an agreement with Emma to spend a day sometime soon taking each other's many measurements and drafting slopers together. She's the expert after seven years in theatrical costume shops.

To return to shoe sizing and what is so puzzling about this. It's easy to see what has happened to department store clothes sizing, especially when you add in the observation that if you wear a size 20 in an inexpensive department store you will fit into an 18 or even a 16 in an expensive one. Obviously there's a bit of vanity sizing going on there. Historically, I know, too, that the entire garment industry re-organized sizing about 45? years ago--I was alive and aware but pretty young--and the "new" sizing put smaller numbers on bigger sizes. That was not the whole of the reform--if I remember right, they also aligned different body type sizing ranges so that their numbers looked more similar to each other and changed the names of some of the sizing ranges. So there are at least two forces in sizing misalignments in women's clothes: vanity sizing and attempts to rationalize sizing. And another one: periodically, deigners will come up with their own proprietary new size ranges that are supposed to address some problem or other in sizing and promise the buyer a better size. So that works against rationalization by proliferating new size ranges.

But what is going on with shoes? Supposedly most people can buy almost the exact same size, give or take a half size, in any brand of shoes. I've never heard anyone com plain that they have to buy a six in one brand and an eight in another brand, which people do complain about with respect to women's clothing (I myself have bought reasonably-fitting clothes labelled in a six-size range). I can't comment directly on this because at any time in my life there's usually only one brand of shoes that sujits my purpose. For a long time it was Drew, and now it's Keen.

But if it's true that shoe sizing is pretty consistent across the industry, and yet the shoes I just bought are labeled a size and a half  larger than the industry standard, does that mean that the shoe industry has unanimously adopted a new secret standard for shoe sizes? Why? And if they've done that, why is it in this direction? Do shoe buyers really want to think their feet are longer than they are? I thought the idea of having big feet was still mildly embarrassing to people who cared about it at all. Has this changed? Well, I know men sometimes brag about how big their feet are,  but they usually do it by way of complaining about it.

Well, this is trivial, but it occupied my mind for a bit. Later I have something to say about the folkdance memorial I attended last night.
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One of the more vivid images from the Phillipine "People Power Revolution" which brought down the dictator Marcos and was supposed to bring democracy, representation, peace, justice, and economic development to the Phillipines forever was Imelda Marcos' shoe closet which had an unimaginable number of bespoke shoes in it, all of them of course outrageous impractical fashion items with spike heels. It would be difficult to tell most of them apart, and they all cost ridiculous amounts of money. Of course the news out of the Phillipines is continously terrible, but you knew that would happen, didn't you? You can remove the dictator, but if you leave the colonial relationships in place you have not liberated the people.

But it's shoes I want to talk about. Lately my feet have been bruised around the edges. I've finally had to conclude that my once-perfectly fitting shoes have grown too small for me. Of course it is not the shoes that have changed size: they are not made of shrinkable fabric and I have not washed them in hot water and heat-dried them. Nope, my feet have grown again. Of course, ingeneral, adults do have size creep on their feet. They might get a bit wider or a bit longer or both over the years, so that they graduate high school a size 7B and in old age they're wearing a size 8C--I'm using US women's sizes here.

I graduated high school with a size 6EEEE. I'm going to go downtown and try to pick up an equivalent to a size 9D today. I say equivalent because lately only Keen shoes work for me, and they don't come in widths, but they do, somehow, go on my feet, which measure a D. In addition to having wide feet, I also have tall feet--high instep and low arch means a lot of foot. So I also have to buy shoes with removable insoles, and remove those insoles, before I can walk around in them. Fortunately I have strong feet that don't need arch supports at all (arch supports bother my feet, actually).

Shoes being rather expensive, my budget is usually one pair of any type per year. I think I've mentioned that I have one each pair of hiking sandals, hiking sneakers, hiking boots, hiking babydoll flats, and hiking velveteen slipons. By "hiking" I mean "has fancypants hiking soles of hard rubber or vibram." I don't prefer these soles: in an ideal world, I would have lighter shoes, though these are all very light considering. Also in an ideal world I would have knee boots in red suede with soft flat bottoms and maybe folkart embroidered flowers on them, for dancing. But nobody asked me when they drew up the standards for footwear.

What this brings me to is yet another cancer metaphor, only it starts out as a metaphor for social revolution. One of my favorite childhood books is called "The Land of Shvambrania" and it was written by Lev Kassil, who was a Soviet children's author (and probably, from my reading of one of his other books, the execrable Early Dawn, a terrible party hack, but this one book was really wonderful). I know I've talked about it before. It is a kind of memoir of the way he and his brother used their fantasy play to deal with their experiences before, during, and directly after the 1917 revolution. The first parts of the book are a bit comic, and sometimes they read like a portal fantasy (which was my first attraction to the book as a kid). Later, it gets more serious as the kids attempt to adjust to the radical changes in their lives. In one scene, tyheir family is visited by representatives of the local evolutionary council. They've lost a lot, not only from the privations of civil war, but they used to be comfortably middle-class and various of their comforts have been expropriated. The leader of the delegation is a shoemaker and he asks the kids' father how his shoes, which he made, are holding up, The dad praises the shoes, says one of them is squeaking a little, and the revolutionary says to bring them by and he'll fix them. The dad says those shoes work a lot better than the revolution. The leader says "that's because we can't make the revolution to fit you personally."

As a kid I was really impressed by this, because it gave me a context to understand how something that was clearly supposed to be so very good for everybody could be bad for particular people. We were always hearing about how this or that person who had had a good life before 1917 or before 1956 in Cuba had lost everything due to revolution (a lot of the Cuban stories didn't add up to me, because they featured people who seemed to be doing just fine in Miami, so I kept wondering, if this is what "lost everything" looks like, what does "kept everything" look like?), but on the other hand, there were these statistics about pre- and post-revolutionary measures of quality of life.

I am most definitely not angling for a human rights argument here, I am just talking about one particular thing in a story.

Anyway, how the shoemaker becomes a cancer metaphor--well, it's obvious, isn't it? But actually the personal fit of my cancer treatment has been pretty finely tuned. No ativan for nausea because it works too much like vallium which makes me stop breathing. On the other hand I can have the "dense" treatment of Adriamycin because I have a strong heart. I can have this particular drug treatment on the other end of chemotherapy and radiation because of the estrogen sensitivity of the cells in the tumor. And so on. But...

In the news today is an article in the Lancet, the abstract of which you can read here (if you have access to the Lancet, or you pay thirty dollars, you can read the whole thing). The rather ponderous title is "Economic downturns, universal health coverage, and cancer mortality in high-income and middle-income countries, 1990–2010: a longitudinal analysis" and its pricipal author is Mahiben Marathappu.  Spoiler alert: unemployment and cutbacks in health care and public health measures caused at least 40,000 extra cancer deaths in those twenty years.

Yes, AUSTERITY IS MURDER.

Capitalism is murder.


on another front: Thank you Aaron! I had the kippers with guacamole and radishes yesterday and it was really really good.
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I know I've been slagging on the people who want to sell me that we can "fight cancer with nutrition." Every word of that phrase sets my teeth on edge. I do believe in nutrition in a sort of general way, though I'm pretty well convinced that for everyday purposes most people's metabolisms are pretty flexible and if you're giving yourself a pretty good diet with enough of the basics, you'll do okay for a long time. When you have various physiological challenges including genetic dispositions and acquired deficiencies or metabolic disorders, you have to pay a little more attention, naturally. And then, on an entirely different hand, nutritional chemistry is fascinating, so I don't blame people who get wrapped up in it for reasons of enthusiasm.

But the nutritional cancer treatment people tend to push one of two overlapping agendas--one that boils down to variations of the regular "healthy diet" versions that are duking it out in the marketplace, or one of several crazy crank diets that eliminate whole categories of food or that ask you to ingest megadoses of micronutrients. As for the first: if a healthy diet worked against cancer, I wouldn't be here today. As for the second: just no.

I am, however, eating well. (woops, I scratched the back of my head and came away with another little clump of bristly grey hairs) I'm paying attention to protein and vitamin-rich vegetables, most of which are coming from the Grey Bears bag or my garden (or kitchen, as I have suddenly become entertained by sprouting peas and alfalfa, and I got a little mushroom kit for ducks). This is only a bit ramped up from my usual. I'm back to eating somewhat less starchy food, but that's because I was told that the cancer treatment could raise my blood sugars, and I don't want to cross over from pre-diabetes to diabetes if I can help it.  But I'm not up to doing a severe no-carbohydrate diet unless I have to.

So what am I eating? That's the fun part. Last week's Grey Bears bag had triple mushrooms because the driver doesn't eat them and neither does his wife, so I dried all the prettiest ones and made a big mushroom-green onion omelet out of what was left and I am still working my way through that for my breakfasts. I also got a two-pound bag of cauliflower florets, so I made cauliflower moussaka which I have been eating for lunch or dinner. My pea sprouts came due so I harvested them and ate half of them in chicken broth with sesame oil and tapatio salsa, with snow peas and kale flowers and green onions from the garden along with some turkey meatballs that fell apart. I'll eat the other half probably tomorrow, I don't know exactly how. I also had a pile of broccoli, which I finally cooked today and grated cheese for the traditional broccoli-and-cheese casserole I will make tomorrow. Today I made split pea soup with precut coleslaw from last week's Grey Bears bag and herbs from my garden and dried tomatoes I made last summer in it and alas dried onions because there were no more ready green onions in my yard and no fresh ones in the Grey Bears bag.

Every week for the last month or so I have also done a wee bit of baking. I still do this simultaneously with a casserole-or-something in the oven (one week it was a lamb pot roast) to conserve the use of gas and stack up the kitchen time. Anyway, what I make are lightly-sweetened cookies or bready cakes that fill the place of treats without overstimulating the sweet tooth or giving the body too much sugar at once. They are often peanut butter or oatmeal variation cookies with dried fruit or carrots or something in them. Those are easy to make, K and Zack like them, and so they are good for my purposes. Like I say, they don't make me want to clear out the whole lot in one sitting, though they do taste nice to me, and so I think they help me eat in a more balanced way,

When I want something like ice cream I have either yogurt or cottage cheese--whole milk in either case, which I'll explain in  moment--with fruit, or my homemade lower-sugar jam, or a bit of both. Or I might mix a spoonful of peanut butter and jam, or peanut butter, a bit of honey, and sunflower seeds. These things are not a lot less calorie-dense than ice cream, but they don't make me want moremoremore, and they please me very much, and they are pretty nutrient-dense.

There are a few reasons I use whole milk products. One: they make fat-soluble vitamins more available that are implicated in the absorption and use of the minerals that dairy products are good for. Two: they taste good. Three: they seem to me to be better emulsifiers. Four: they seem to satisfy my appetite more quickly in most cases, though there are times when I can eat nice crackers with butter or blue cheese on them much longer than it seems is reasonable. So when I am being sane I just don't start those things.

I was going to go on with a precis of the garden but this has gone on long enough, so that will have to wait for another time. I would like to say for the record that I moved the coral bells and a nice baby parsley plant today and finally got the basil, cardoons, and mignonette into the ground, leaving the purple clematis, the miscellaneous blue salvia shrub, the white passionfruit,and  the purple flowers from Ellie, still to be planted out or transplanted, as is appropriate for various reasons.  I spent nearly two hours in the yard and ended up a bit short of breath, which I think is because I'm anemic again but the oncology nurses do not think I am anemic enough to treat--but the labwork was just before the last infusion and the shortness of breath is after. In any case it's not severe enough I can't wait a few days.
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The oncologist said my hair "might fall out, maybe probably, but can't be predicted." The nurses said my hair would fall out and recommended getting it cut very short in advance of the time--which they predicted would be a couple of days to a week after the second infusion. Also, the printed materials suggested the same thing. And when I asked my friends and family, not if I should cut my hair short, but whether I ought to do it as soon as I could arrange it or closer to when I expected it to happen, the consensus was to do it earlier rather than later, and shorter rather than less short.

So that is what I did. My wonderful daughter Emma came over as soon as we could arrange it and buzzed my hair. With electric clippers! It was really amusing! She took before and after pictures of me and they are good ones. I looked pretty cute in them both! I think the short hair makes me look even more Jewish than ever. In my mind I think that is a neutral value. I mean, it's good enough to look Jewish, but it's also good enough to look like other things too. She also brought me some very nlce headscarves to borrow until my hair grows in again. So I have been practing with the headscarves now and then to get a feel for how I like them. Apparently simple heascarves are the best, for me. Just tied in the back, or the ends brought round, twisted & tied in front, or held on with a hair tie. They all work.

Since my hair was already thin on top ("female pattern baldness" but not as severe as that sounds) I started sunscreening my scalp when I remembered. I'm supposed to be more sensitive to sun rays now, so I have appropriated K's 30 spf sunscreen he used when he worked for the post office and doesn't use any more.

Anyway, this morning--two days after the second infusion--when I was rubbing on the sunscreen, my hands came away all fuzzy and my first thought was not how alarming it was but how cool it was. This is rather indicative of how things are going in general. I credit the extensive preparation that the cancer team has given me and also the word CURATIVE right on my papers and also the fact that my side effects have been so mild and manageable. It's turned the whole thing from a dark and frightening journey into an adventure, rife with inconvenience but also full of discovery and meeting new and interesting people. I think I'm a little disappointing to my friends and family who want to jump in and help me but the main thing I ever want from anybody is to go on a dogwalk with me. I mean, I think they feel in their heart of hearts I probably need more than this, but they're too polite to insist that I must be wrong about my self-assessment.

I got followed on twitter by a cancer quackery bot, so I blocked them and made a general tweet that I would do the same for any more quacks. Some actress showed up on NPR promoting her book about how she made her husband refuse "conventional" treatment for advanced bladder and prostate cancer and treated him herself with nutrion and stuff. I don't know how the thing came out because I was offended and I turned it off so I wouldn't be yelling at the radio.

Well, I was going to write a food post too, but now I have to pee and take a nap. Then I'm going to get the cardoons, the mignonette, the clematis, and the purple flower that Ellie gave me into the ground, or die trying. I've had them all too long.

Phenological observations: it is jam season now. I made strawberry jam from the giant berries that came in the grey bears bag last week. I prefer smaller strawberries with no white in the middle, but they are hard to come by these days because marketing decisions. My sister-in-law is making apricot jam this weekend because her tree recovered from the drought this year and produced a lot of fruit. The yellow plum tree around the corner has started dropping plums so as soon as I can get myself organized I'll make yellow plum jam. My coreopsis and love-in-a-mist and some other flowers I can't think of now are blooming freely. The sweet peas that were in too much sun are completely down, but Robin my co-mother-in-law brought me a bouquet of deep purple, very fragrantr sweet peas and orange Peruvian lilies, a very dramatic combination.

And now I have to go because I am totally falling asleep and in danger of pissing my pants.

One last thing: you needn't say "fuck cancer" on my behalf. It does nothing for me.
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I'm working on an extended metaphor for how I am experiencing cancer treatment. I do not feel like a warrior, not at all. I don't even feel like I'm fighting the cancer. If any fighting is going on, it's being done by the medical team. I'm doing something else.

It's not that I don't feel I'm contributing to the project at all. Although I should emphasize that my part in this collective effort is rather small. But there are so many people working on this, and so many jobs tro do, that I don't feel like there's something wrong with me having a small part to play. I do that part with all my best intentions and my best efforts, and I am grateful for all the other people who have all their jobs to do.

So the metaphor I'm working on is that it's like the stewardship of a nature reserve which is being threatened by an invasive species. I'm not in charge of the eradication efforts. That's the medical team's part. They've introduced chemical controls, but mainly they're trying to tweak the balance of the predators. They've brought in chemicals which are nearly as alive in my body as viruses or at least prions--please notice this is a metaphor and I don't believe the Adriamycin etc are organisms--but these are rather indiscriminate in their prey behavior and they go after the native species in my nature reserve as well as the invasive ones, and therefore the tweaking. They have a good idea nowadays of how these things affect the natural balance in my environment, so they have all these supportive measures to offer me, and here is where my part comes in.

I get to attempt to maintain the ecological equilibrium of this habitat. A big factor in how well this regine will work is in how well my body will tolerate it. So when my oncologist says "take this, this, and this for nausea, and this for analgesia," I do it. My usual response to discomfort is to attempt toughing it out first and then treating if necessary, but in this case, it's a more workmanlike response to jump in there and do the preventive measures and to treat small discomforts before they become big. Because small discomforts will get bigger as treatment progresses, so there's no point in waiting to see if it will be okay. Yes, I can live with low-level nausea, but if untreated low-level nausea can progress to the point where food and medicine won't stay in my body, then I'm treating the low-level stuff to prevent that (hopefully. It's also a known thing that some people's bodies don't tolerate the treatment no matter what the people do).

So, also, therefore, I attempt to have generally good nutrition, I get exercise, and I'm trying to sleep properly. Not because I am a Warrior who will Eat Myself Well, or Exercise Myself Well, or Sleep Myself Well. Because I understand that I can support the overall effort by taking good basic care of the habitat.  I'm working on having a good mood and all that not because I believe that's a magic bullet against cancer but because honestly what's the poiht in defending your life if you're not going to get something out of that life?

I have an impulse to be understanding of people who fall for quackery when they get cancer or some other life-threatening condition. How they want to believe that some fellow can give them apricot kernel extract and make it all go away. Or that if they boost their immune system with echinacea or turmeric, they will live. But I can't really see the moment when you decide "this person who has spent years studying the actual human body, specifically the behavior of real cancers in the actual human body: them and their whole team of researchers, practitioners, technicians, nurses, they can't possibly know as much about cancer as this fellow on the internet who read the Bible and a book about alchemical humors and set up shop with a pile of untested junk that's got no quality control either."

I kinow there's a certain contrarian set of mind where a person becomes sure that whatever is standard procedure must inherently be incorrect. I think part of the reasoning for that is that once in a while a scientific advance comes from someone questioning the underpinnings of former received wisdom. But when that is true, it's not true because someone gazed into their navel and decideed that everything was bunk. It's true when a person finds the right question to ask and asks it scientiifcally, carefully keeping records and actually being quite routine and boring.

I think also for some people they want to see their life in the hands of a superhero who can single-handedly dash the enemy to the ground and fly the patient to safety with the glorious cape fluttering around them. So they fall for charismatic quacks. Myself, I would rather be a routine patient in the hands of less colorful, competent people with flexible, multipathed protocols to hand and a variety of tools to fit different situations. I loved that my oncologist drew me a flow chart the first time I saw her. And I was entertained when she said "Now, I'm not so important in the process yet, but after the surgery, you'll be seeing more of me..." I liked the sense that there were plans in place already no matter what came up, and I also like the sense that my doctors and nurses were working as a team rather than grandstanding.

Anyway. That's me talking cancer philosophy. I'm not a Cancer Warrior Woman, I'm a Cancer Park Ranger--no, really, a Cancer Groundskeeper. I'm not fighting. I'm gardening.
ritaxis: (hat)
Had my first infusion today. It went very smoothly. Every time you talk to someone they have you say your name and abirthdate over again. Maybe ten times over the course of the morning? I undersand why and I appreciate itt ( no mistakes is a good thing!)m but it's still hilarious.

But I'm sleepy, so I will nap soon. Gosh, maybe right now...I just had to clean up a bunch of gibberish from where I fell asleep with my hands on the keys.

Still struggling with a story about weird doings in a freezer plant, but that'll have to wait till I wake up.

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