Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cool Photography Project

I just wanted to share what I find to be a fascinating currently ongoing photography project by Irina Werning, an Argentinian photographer. She's titled the project, Back to the Future.

She takes an old photo and painstakingly recreates it in the present with the same person, the same clothes, the same background. I've so enjoyed looking at it. Some are really funny but mostly they're just so intriguing and thought provoking.

Here are a few examples. Take a look at the whole Back to the Future project.

If you like, then take a look at the more amateur, but also fun, old-me-new-me.
Then, if you REALLY like, get out your camera and get creative. Imagine the Christmas photo you might send next year.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

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Just a LITTLE Carcinoma

arcinoma. Yes, cancer. But not the big, bad, scary cancer. My doctor assures me that the little spot on my upper back is almost surely a "basal cell carcinoma", which is not dangerous and will not metastasize. He's going to remove it for me when I get back from my vacation. He tells me that when it's removed, the cancer is GONE! I like the sound of that.

I asked him how I could get any kind of cancer after all that chemo and radiation? He told me that the chemo I got was directed at a particular type of cancer and that one of the many downsides of chemo is that it compromises one's immune system. Seriously compromised, it left me vulnerable to many other evils, such as shingles and, apparently, this little basal cell carcinoma.  Even though this can be easily taken care of, I have to say it leaves me with the heebie jeebies. It makes me wonder what other evils are lurking inside my body waiting to emerge.

My doctor also noted that this little carcinoma is in the area of my back that was burned by the radiation exiting my body. Just on the edge of that. Of course, radiation is given to kill cancer cells but, on the other hand, it causes cancer. Don't ask me to explain. I only partially understand it all myself. It's complicated. I know that it was the radiation from my Dad's first cancer caused the cancer that developed 12 years later. A friend of mine's Mom recently got a 2nd cancer - a particularly nasty kind - about 20 years after her first breast cancer and it was said to have been caused by her radiation. Oh, joy!

So, for now the main thing is that this little carcinoma on my back will be removed and will then be gone.  And, bonus, the scar will be on my back and not where I'll have to see the evil reminder every day. 

I can enjoy my holiday.  But, man, all the more reason to do all I can to optimize my immune system and try to avoid chemical exposure. Good reason for all of us to optimize our immune systems and avoid toxins. Wild picked blueberries, how I LOVE YOU!!

By the way, if you like that prettily designed "C" at the top of this post, I got it at Daily Drop Cap. There are lots of inspiring capital letter designs there.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Mug Rug For Me!

Isn't this cool?! It's a "mug rug". The mug is mine - made by my Auntie Ruth and given as part of a set to Kevin and me for a wedding gift. I placed it to show both size and purpose. I've been wanting to make some mug rugs - some small projects just to get me used to using my sewing machine. They're like mini-quilts so they would be good test pieces. On one of the quilting blogs I follow - Mare's Nest - a mug rug was being given away to a reader and then Mary, the blogger, decided to give everyone a mug rug! How generous! I'm going to make something and send it back to her. It only seems fair. She's a better quilter than me so I'll send her something that she's less likely to make on her own.

When I opened the package and found this mug rug, I was very surprised! I think Mary must have designed it specifically for me since bananas and blueberries (medicine in fruit form) are what I eat almost every day. Amazing! I LOVE IT!!

This was the bright spot in what has been an otherwise yucky day. I didn't sleep very well and my stomach was a little wonky. I think it's just a little anxiety. When someone tells you to get some part of you biopsied, let me tell you, if you don't already know, you want that thing biopsied NOW! Having to wait to get appointments is like being told to just sit still and don't move while a tarantula crawls up your arm. Heebie jeebies. Creepy crawlies. I see my family doctor tomorrow and hopefully he'll have something more revealing to say about this little sore on my back.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Well, just a little bit. For the most part my medical appointments went okay today but I came out of it all just a bit bummed.

First order of the day was bloodwork. To prepare for the usual difficulties, I remembered to drink several glasses of water before my appointment. I told the nurse I'd done that and was feeling hopeful and right away she said she could see a great big vein and that it would be no problem. YEAH!! But she spoke too soon. That vein collapsed pretty much immediately and then, ironically, after she pulled the needle out, the damn thing wouldn't stop bleeding. She was surprised that the vein had collapsed and said that for my veins a butterfly needle needs to be used. I recognized the term and I said that's what is usually used on me. She said I should tell nurses to use a butterfly needle, which nobody has told me before. I really don't know much about these things - I thought a nurse would know what kind of needle to use in various circumstances. All these years of having blood taken and nobody has ever told me that I should be telling nurses what kind of needle to use. *sigh*

So, then she wanted to switch to taking blood from the back of my hand but I really don't like that and usually they're able to get blood from my arm even if it does take more than one poke. I've had this nurse a few times before and I've learned that her personal preference is to take from the hand - it's almost always her first suggestion. She used my hand the very first time I had blood taken at the Cancer Centre ... before I had a PIC-line. I remember that it really hurt having it taken from my hand. Two other times before today she's been my nurse and both times she has suggested using my hand but, with my encouragement, she's been able to get blood from my arm. So this time I told her that I didn't want to have it taken from my hand if at all possible and so she waited a minute before trying my arm again. And again. Both times she couldn't get a bleeder. So she switched to my hand, assuring me it wouldn't hurt because she "does it all the time and it never hurts". Obviously she didn't remember having taken blood from me before so I told her that she had been the first nurse to ever take blood from my hand (except for a little stint in the hospital after Luke was born) and that it had, in fact, hurt. She questioned my memory on that ... suggesting that perhaps it wasn't her, but I told her that I remember quite clearly and that it was her. It's not like we had an argument and I wasn't churlish or cranky, but I did let her know that I wasn't keen to have blood taken from my hand unless it was absolutely necessary and since it did appear to be necessary, I said "go for it" and I commented that maybe it wouldn't hurt this time just as sometimes it hurts when taken from my arm and sometimes it doesn't. It wasn't so bad but the hand does hurt more later during the day just because I'm always using my hand and the muscles and tendons are constantly moving around the needle hole so I'm pretty much always aware of that soreness. When blood is taken from my arm, even when it hurts at the time, it doesn't usually bother me much during the course of the day.

The reason I've gone into so much "needle detail" is that maybe some other people out there have teeny tiny veins like mine and based on the many different experiences I've had with needles, maybe it's useful to someone else. Ultimately, it's not a huge deal as long as they can get blood. Annoying and uncomfortable, yes, but not a big deal. I've asked why some people have tiny veins while others don't and all I've been told is that it's probably genetic and that I should drink lots of fluid before I get poked. Still, my experiences suggest that having tiny veins are definitely a disadvantage ... especially with what happened with my veins during surgery. Lots of trouble for the anesthetist and then, after surgery, something went wrong and the morphine that was supposed to be going into my blood stream to make me comfortable when I woke up wasn't and it was going into my tissues instead. I woke up in a great deal of pain. All because of my teeny veins. I wish I knew how to make them bigger.

So ... needle pokes done. Then I saw the oncologist who is such a nice man. He's so gentle and very warm. Very personable. There were the usual questions and there have been no real changes. I told him about my "phantom bruises" that have been coming and going over the past couple of weeks but he didn't have any thoughts on those. He didn't know if they might be signs of shingles or not. On my short list of things to ask him about is a little open sore ... just slightly bigger than a pencil eraser ... on the upper left side of my back. It first emerged in August of last year and I discovered it because it was a bit itchy and I felt a slight burn in that precise area. I had Kevin take a closer look at it and he said it didn't look like a pimple or anything he'd seen before. He put some ointment on it and I expect it would just heal. But it has never really healed. It just stays there looking like an open sore but usually only slightly pink. Most of the time I'm not aware of it at all but when I remember to look, it's still there. Every now and then I feel that burning sensation and when I look that little sore appears inflamed. The oncologist couldn't identify it but he told me that I need to see a dermatologist and get it biopsied. Great. I know that almost all skin thingies that are removed are biopsied as a matter of practice so I'm not expecting any trouble with this but it does bother me that I don't know what it is and it's not like anything I've had or seen before. I can't even speculate.

I immediately made an appointment with my family doctor to get the ball rolling and hopefully I can get into a dermatologist very soon, if that's the route he also recommends. I would like to see a dermatologist NOW, thank you very much, but since that's not going to happen, I doubt I'll be able to have it looked at before we leave for the States on March 4, which is too bad. It means I'll just have it hanging over my head while I'm on vacation. I just have to force it out of my mind and deal with it when we get back after March 14. We'll see what my doctor says at my appointment this Friday. Maybe ... just maybe ... he'll know what it is. Wouldn't that be nice!

So ... I'm bummed. It's not serious and I don't think it will turn out to be anything serious. Really. Honest. I don't. But, that said, it does mean more medical procedures ... doctors ... surgical stuff ... bandages ... medical crapola. And waiting for results. I'm not very happy about it, that's for sure. So I'll allow myself to be bummed and a bit down for a little bit and then I'll buck up and get on with it.
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Happy Birthday, Jodi!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And This Concludes My Campus Tour

And here we are back to my building - the Diefenbaker Canada Centre. It looks pretty depressing from this view but trust me, the other side of it is all windows overlooking the river - perhaps the prettiest view on campus. Nonetheless, I think the building is lacking a little in curb appeal. It doesn't look very welcoming.

And worse is the dreaded Cancer Centre which is at the far left in the 2nd photo - right next door, which has actually turned out to be very convenient.

And now you have some idea of what I was doing at lunch time today.


More Winter Campus Photos

Somewhere behind all these trees is the Main University Library, where I held my first library job. I'm very fond of the library ... well, ALL libraries, if I must say.

And here's a view of the library from the corner of the Arts building.

The library is across from the Thorvaldson Building.

And the long building, on my way back to my building, is behind Thorvaldson and is the Agriculture and Ag-Food Canada Research Building. This is the parking lot I'm hoping to eventually get a spot in. It would be so much more easier for me to manage.


The Thorvaldson Building

When I worked in the Chemistry Department, my office was in this building. I love this building - the Thorvaldson Building. It's so Gothic.

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University of Saskatchewan Campus In Winter

It was so pretty today. When I was out at lunch time it was snowing quite heavily and it didn't get sunny until quite late in the afternoon. Here's the view over the Edwards School of Business and on the way to Arts.

On the walk to my car after work ... in the brisk cold and bright sunshine, across the sparkly barrens of my route ... the smell of winter reminded me of walking from the school in White Bear across the open space to the rink with our skates slung over our shoulders. It was the kind of day when some kid somewhere must have been getting his tongue stuck on some frosty metal surface. The smell of snow. I don't usually notice it but today, with the sun on it and with the feel of the air so brisk and crisp, it smelled like being a kid again in winter.

I need to go skating.


Tomorrow - A Visit to the Dreaded Cancer Centre

I love this ginormous piece of art in the Arts building on campus. I walked past it today and since there weren't many people around to interrupt my view, I took a quick photo of it. I should know the artist's name, shouldn't I. My bad. I think I knew it and have since forgotten and while I think I could hazard a guess, I don't want to do that. I'll check.

While it's always nice to have a long weekend, I find I really NEED them in a way I didn't before. That extra day makes all the difference in the world to my feeling not so rushed and panic-stricken like I usually do over a weekend. Mom was with us last week and we (that would the royal "WE") made good progress on our project. We had Acton family dinner at Don and Syl's on Sunday with Uncle Reg joining all of us. It was very nice to see him. Syl put together a fabulous meal for us all with some pretty desserts.

It was great to follow Luke's 2nd season game on Saturday. They won easily against Detroit Mercy. Kevin was able to watch the game online while I was getting ready for the Norwex event.  He would tell me what was going on and every now and then I would run over to my laptop and check the live stats.  Luke had a good game and got a few points.  They play a tougher team this Sunday in Delaware.

Have you all noticed that I don't cry so much these days? I'm not nearly so close to tears as I was for what seemed like a very long time - 2 years. Two years of being afraid of crying at the most inappropriate moments. I still felt vulnerable this past December and dreaded anything that took me out of my comfort zone. It probably didn't help that I was so wiped in December and through most of January. It amazes me how strong I feel right now and how less weepy I am. What a relief to be able to better trust my emotional stability! It might seem silly but I'm quite sure that part of my feeling more stable has something to do with my having hair that could ... on a good day ... be mistaken for a style of choice. How ridiculous is that?! But it matters. It makes a difference to how confident I feel in my job and just generally being out and about in the world. Strange. Hair.

Tomorrow I go to the Cancer Centre (ICK!) for blood work and to meet with my oncologist. I have a few questions, one about the invisible bruises I seem to be getting this past week. They feel just like big bruises but there's not a mark to be seen. First the one on my head, which subsided after I started taking the antiviral but I still can't say it was for sure shingles. Maybe the soreness would have subsided anyway. And then the pain over my ribs started and it's still quite sore despite my taking antiviral drugs. Again, I can't say for sure that it's shingles because my skin looks completely normal there. And then it felt like I had a big bruise on my hip. Again - invisible but quite sore. The soreness of that one is almost entirely gone now. Strange. I doubt I'll get an answer about those pains. I've learned to accept that there are a lot of things I'll just never have answers about. At first that freaked me out but with all the research I've done, I've really learned that there's just so much that isn't known or that is set aside as being low on the totem pole of importance in the world of cancer research. For instance, they are only just now starting to really look at lympedema as being serious enough to warrant research and they're just now exploring adjustments to breast cancer treatments that might minimize the risk of getting lymphedema. It's so shocking to me that this hasn't already been taken more into account but I guess since lymphedema is more of a "quality of life" issue than "life vs death", it like so many other side effects has been largely ignored. All that to say, I don't expect satisfactory answers to some of my questions.

I do hope my blood work shows improved levels in several categories that were either below normal or at the very low end of normal. Wish me luck!
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Wee Charlie!

A baby! I almost never see babies! There are no babies in my life!

So, it was with some excitement and wonder that I welcomed Charlie to my Norwex Party. She came with her Mom (Teandra) and Grandma Lori. That would be Splurge Club Lori. Charlie is the sweetest little thing! I'm kicking myself that I didn't get my camera out when she first arrived and was awake and wearing her clute little outfit with matching blingy headband! What's the point of having a baby if you can't dress them up in fun clothes and coordinated accessories?!!

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AHA Moment!

I wonder if Berny will get suspicious if I book her for a Norwex party once a month?

I really, REALLY dislike cleaning my oven, mostly because of the toxic oven cleaning products. But Berny brought Norwex non-toxic oven cleaning stuff AND cleaned my oven with it! Well, the oven door, which was the worst part of it anyway. Look ... no mask and no rubber gloves. NO CHEMICALS!! And it WORKED!

Then she scrubbed my sink, which I had left uncleaned, as requested.

I was very impressed with the Norwex products and the peace of mind it will bring to be further reducing our chemical exposure.

Thanks to those who came for the party and thanks, Berny, for introducing the product to me (it seems I'm one of the few who didn't already know about it) and for demonstrating everything. And for cleaning my oven and sink and for sweeping up the dustbunnies from under my sofa. Can you come by again next month? Have you ever demoed a bathroom?

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm Going to Bed Now

Originally uploaded by Guacamowa


Friday, February 18, 2011

So I Lied ...

LP portrait
Originally uploaded by ingridesign


Okay ... Just One More


Okay ... the Last PhotoSleeve

J Geils Band : Love Stinks
Originally uploaded by See Gee


Local Girl Sleeveface


More Sleeveface Goodies

There are SO many great ones!

Sleeveface on Flickr

Here's how I amused myself tonight. Take a look and just see if you don't get an urge to flip through your vinyl.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Drive Home

I was stuck in traffic anyway so I whipped out the camera and took a few photos. I usually admire the lights or the sky across the river from the top of the University bridge but yesterday after work I couldn't see a thing. I took the first photo with the window down and then I took them through the window. You wouldn't even know it was snowing from the first photo.

And there's out house, still with its Christmas bows ... an no visible sidewalk.

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