Monday, September 26, 2011

snapshot day, home version

what a microcosm day this was: radiation, a trip to the farm down the street, potato harvest, applesauce-making, and the ongoing conversation with Hali about the life we are making -- today's topic: putting up our sukkah.

there's not a lot to say about radiation, but the rest, yes. In a bit of time between doctor's appointments today, Nina and I went to the farm-store, which is a wonderful nursery-food market-farm that is perfect destination for a parent with a toddler on a weekday morning, with the place basically to ourselves: time to watch the garlic man trim and sort the garlic into boxes; to watch the gourd woman take each one out of the huge tub of water and scrub off the soil; to walk over to the chicken coop and make friends with the black bantam chicken with whom Nina wanted to become fast friends.

brief conversation we had while walking away from the chicken coop:

Nina: they eat dinner?
me: yep, they eat dinner.
Nina: chicken?
me: the chickens? yes, they eat dinner.
Nina: chicken?
me, realizing what she was really asking: um, no, they don't eat chicken...

It was just a sweet day, with our teensy potato crop (maybe 8 pounds? note to improve yield next year), and 6 pints of applesauce made, to go with yesterday's 6 pints of peach butter. We're not exactly urban homesteaders yet, but the jars lined up on the shelf do make my heart sing.

...and the last bit: that if we want to put up our sukkah in this not-so-new-anymore house, we need to schedule it, and it would be both helpful and soulful to ask our backyard neighbors to do it with us. They're not Jewish, but I'm sure they'd be game for it, they're great neighbors -- and they are one slice of our tribe as we make our way on the path step by step.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


ok, so it's slow progress. my first post-chemo ponytail. or sprout, I guess. (and today, I'm 1/3 through radiation -- so far, the calendula cream and emu oil seem to be keeping the radiation burns at bay; I'm hoping that continues!)

Otherwise, we had such a sweet time celebrating the birthdays in our house (everyone but mine is in september) -- from the combo of parents and greandparents: movie tix and baseball shirt for the pre-teen; balance bike, rain boots, and hippie clothes for the toddler; a zoom lens, Haitian tree of life, and beautiful quilted-silk jacket for the wife who's been on cancer-support duty for a year... and on the non-material side, homemade cake with cream cheese frosting, friends and family, bowling, low-key and nice.

I'm in the countdown to the high holidays, and as a rabbi, I should be further along than I am on the sermon front. I was in a completely terrible mood yesterday when I went to meet with my teacher MF -- but within 40 minutes, she said that what I'd written was 3/4 of the way to being a sermon, and she suggested we meet by phone in three days, with my having sent ahead to her what I'd written. An extra session with her, when that was exactly what I needed. a teaching-pushing-inspiring companion in this work. I'm a procrastinator by nature, combined with utterly exhausted from daily radiation treatments -- and while I've been thinking I could-would surely get a great sermon out of this cancer thing, I'm really just trying to get through each day. It's a strange thing, this cancer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

between the tides

(just realized I wrote this one in early July !) We were in VT for the wedding of friends (30 and 53!) for the weekend, which was the perfect distraction and soul-filling as well. Hali and I did a trail ride Saturday afternoon, which was great for her because she'd never been on a horse, but it made me cry it was so dull. Mostly walking down the road to the lake, with cars passing, and only on a trail for 10 minutes, all walking. So Hali later secretly arranged for me to have a private trail ride (the other was a group of 5) the next morning, before the wedding. The woman who took me, Christa, has lupus herself and her mom has something (apparently Hali had done the my wife has cancer and this would really mean a lot to her thing), so she was totally sympathetic, and we had a great ride -- cantering through beautiful forest and ferns, stopping for a great view of the water, just good. And I got off the horse sweaty and in jeans 5 minutes before the wedding was supposed to begin. Fortunately, the ketubah-signing had gotten delayed due to the rain, and I am a fast shower-dresser...

Nina did great all weekend, was very popular and picked a few people to adore herself, and it was so nice to be away as a family. (Jo is on vacation with her other mom.) Plus, she had the cutest dress for the wedding, which I bought on eBay for a song.

(not sure when I wrote this, but my surgery was the day after the wedding, so hmm.)

o my goodness.

wow. I can barely say that I have a blog if my last post was in February! since then, I have:

1. completed chemo: I did fine through the first four rounds, working for two days, taking two days off, and then doing fine for the between-treatments week. Then I was allergic to the second set of chemos, so I got a bit delayed but eventually through that as well (June 1st was my last one!), thanks to the many many meals provided by friends. Seriously, there was one dish that we got a few times and loved -- MMT's lasagna, and when Jo suggested that we ask her for the recipe, I could not fathom why we would not just want MMT to keep making it for us. Since then, I am glad to report that I've gotten my cooking groove back..

2. but lost a breast: mastectomy on July 5th (our second anniversary; sort of a reverse-present, I suppose) I front-loaded my anxiety for this, as I had for the chemo, and I'm doing great. Got my prosthesis a few weeks ago, and I really don't think about it all that often. 

3. started radiation today: It's particularly odd to go back to the same clinic every day (yesterday was a dress rehearsal, and today was rad #1, and I have to remember to go again tomorrow...) -- usually after a doctor's appointment, it feels like something to check off, but this has a certain Groundhog Day (the movie) quality to it. Fortunately, the techs and nurses and my radiation oncologist are great, and if you have to have cancer, it's a good place to be.

4. the hair: yes, I lost it. Shaved it a few days after that last post, wore the hat&wig for month or so, then couldn't be bothered and wore just a scarf, rather pirate-style, for a while, and finally went bald everywhere but work.

As I'd hoped, I think the new hair did indeed reach sassy-length for our vacation last week! If it didn't, don't tell me. ;)

5. been storing food: I've also managed to make use of the canner I bought last summer, and just pulled out 11 jars of tomato jam that are for party favor gifts, for Nina's second birthday party this Sunday. Other food-storing for winter: jars of pickles, salsa, corn, roasted tomato sauce, tomato jam, broccoli, green beans, lots by comparison to the past, which only ever included pesto*, and yet still so much room for progress. I'm currently addicted to buying the gorgeous bargain bags of 'seconds' tomatoes at the farm just a couple miles from us, so I'm likely going to make more roasted tomato sauce, salsa, and jam in the next week or so!

6. been knitting: Nina has two new cardigans (one still requiring the buttons); I have (almost) two beautiful scarves, and need to complete a gorgeous-but-might-be too-small cardigan for myself; and N has already grown through a pair of pants she wore for Thanksgiving last year and a dress she wore to a family bar mitzvah in March.  

I do have joint pain -- a delayed response from the chemo -- and I'm tired and can't hold thoughts together so well, but overall, I am doing well. Jo just started middle school yesterday; the girls are so sweet with each other; and Hali and I are cooking up another project, which will remain quiet for a while longer -- especially as we don't know if/how it will turn out.

I feel blessed that our family made it through the bulk of this cancer treatment so well, and that frankly, I've had so much time with my toddler this year. The year between 1 and 2 has always been one of my favorites -- watching language and personality emerge like blossoms -- and though I was afraid I'd miss so much with the cancer, my friend Judy was right: we've really had more time together this year than I would have had otherwise. She will be two a week from today, and I am looking forward to sharing this milestone with a few friends and family. 

I know this post is word-heavy and photo-lacking, but I had to get back on the horse!