Little Seagull

Sixes and Sevens

Things are currently amorphous.  Undifferentiated.  Blending one to another randomly.

So.  I retired.  I realize now that I wasn't ready in terms of my work.  I was ready in terms of not having all my time used for the purpose of my work, but I wasn't ready in terms of never doing my work again.  Also, I have lost my desk.  I don't have a desk at home, and since we are in the throes of preparing to move to Salmon Arm when the right place becomes available, I am not going to get a desk for a while.  I need a desk to work through things.  I can't work through things with papers spread out on my lap on the couch - for one thing: the cat keeps wanting to sit wherever I have put the papers.  Yay cat.

So.  Good news about my Mom's cancer:  the chemo therapy seems to have done its job, and there are no longer abnormalities showing in the lymph nodes of the body core.  Unqualified Yay!  Especially since the medical team had been concerned about a compromised lymph node between the kidneys.  However, Mom is now in the radiation therapy part, which is every day, five days a week, for five weeks.  That's a pretty exhausting schedule, but it is done in Kelowna, which is a two hour drive each way from Salmon Arm.  The roads in the Okanagan/Shuswap are severely overburdened with traffic, and people are absolutely insane on them - passing on a blind corner over a double line on the pin kink hanging over a cliff is a run-of-the-mill occurance.  And there has been incessant snow, with the temperature ranging between plus 2 and minus 2, so that it is often both sloppy and icy.  So, currently the biggest exhaustion for Mom regarding the radiation therapy is the drive there and back each day.  Dad is also getting tired, and he is already worn down with worry for Mom.  However, as Mom says: 7 sessions down, only 18 to go.

And: we have been broadsided by something that still has me completely dumbfounded.  My SOGP's older brother has died.  This was completely unexpected.  Granted, he was 71, but his Mom is still going strong at 96, his father lived to 84, other ancestoral beings all lived to 80s and 90s - and he was the most clean living person ever.  No drinking, smoking, drugging; no coffee, tea, junk food.  Lean and whipcord strong.  Careful selection of personal care products (avoiding obscure chemicals).  Never owned a car - walked everywhere.  Strong as a horse with excellent stamina.  The death is natural causes, probably heart or aneurysm.  There won't be an autopsy since 71 is an age for a natural death, so the precise cause won't be definitively known, but I suspect that even if we had a tidy name with a tidy cause - we still would not believe that he is really gone.

The loss of him is having repercussions for his Mom.  After SOGP's father's death, his older brother took on watching over their mother.  In the beginning it was very small stuff - changing a high lightbulb sort of thing - but in the ten year's since SOGP's father's death, his older brother has become more central to her day-to-day life.  In a very light-handed unobtrusive way he made it so she did not need to think about whether or not she could continue to live on her own in her own home.  I mean: she is not an idiot, so she is fully aware that his help made things smoother, but it was all just people enjoying doing things together, and not one person making noble sacrifices for the other person's benefit.

The big issue is: aside from the heavy blow of having lost one of her children, even if she is able to stay in her home and care for herself - she is going to be so lonely.  The place where she lives is a coop, with a strata council, and a central shared room where they hold regular potlucks and other social events.  But most of the couples who were there when she and SOGP's Dad moved in (they were part of the wave of original tenants) are now gone, and new couples with new ideas are there.  People are perfectly friendly - but it is not the same as visiting with your friends.

So.  None of us yet know how to be usefully supportive to her.  We too have all relied on the oldest brother taking her under his wing.

These things will all get sorted out, and better times are coming, but right now I feel a little like one of those old-fashioned wind-up toys, where, if they are overwound, just sit there vibrating impotently.  I haven't achieved sad, yet; I'm still in nonplussed.
Little Seagull

Chestnut Tubettini 51 a la Distilled Grape Spirit for two with leftovers - slightly modified recipe.

So, I saw this recipe in my travels around the interwebs:
and I thought it looked so tasty.  But my SOGP is a vegetarian, thus the bacon is out, so I wondered whether chestnuts wouldn't be an acceptable substitute.  So I bought the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and fresh basil leaves.

Then I discovered that I had no penne or vodka in the house - so I improvised with these:

(I forgot: I can't upload pictures from my computer at home - and I no longer have access to another computer.  It was a picture of La Molisana 51 Tubettini pasta di semola de grano duro, Dand-D-Organic Chestnuts, and Cirroc distilled grape spirits in a swanky bottle.)

and it was excellent.

Here are the sauce ingredients

1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
2 fresh tomatoes chopped
1 tin tomato paste (369 ml)
heavy cream (35% mf)
distilled grape spirit
chestnuts chopped
fresh basil leaves chiffonaded (
parmesan cheese grated

Here are the steps

Bring water to a boil.  Once boiling, add the tubettini, stir to prevent sticking, cook 8 to 10 minutes.

At the same time, melt butter in medium heat pan.  Add diced onion and saute until translucent.  Add minced garlic and after 30 seconds add the diced tomatoes.  Saute until softening and juicy, then add tomato paste and enough water to rinse the tin and thin the tomato paste for stirring.  Sauce should be thick and your wooden spoon should leave lines in it when you stir it.  Allow it to heat through until it begins to blup.  Add enough heavy cream to change the colour to your preference.  Allow it to heat through until it is blupping again.  Add distilled grape spirit and return to blup.  Add chopped chestnuts.  Drain the tubettini, stirring the pasta in the strainer to help each little tube dump its water.  Add to tomato mixture and stir to combine well.  Add chiffonaded basil and stir until well combined.  Turn off heat.

Serve immediately with grated parmesan liberally heaped on top.
Little Seagull

Three days left and I'm just kinda numb.

Last day is this coming Wednesday.  All I have left to remove from my office is my tea pot, kettle and water jug, plus a pencil case, and a final painting.  It feels odd working in there.

Tuesday is my Mom's third chemo treatment - assuming her blood work says they can go ahead on schedule.

There's still nothing to buy in Salmon Arm.

The new cell phone is a welcome distraction.  I haven't put anything serious on it (such as facebook) because I'd probably never surface.  I'm not going to put any money-related info on it because putting that on something this easy to lose is a bad idea.  I can see why people don't have a password to lock the screen - what a fiddly thing and difficult to use while jolting around on a bus - but I'm gonna perservere.  The message template of opposing bubbles is quite appealing, and I like that conversations are grouped by person (my previous little green phone simply had a historical sequence).  I haven't quite figured out how to always have it with me and have both hands free (hit replay for no-pockets-in-women's-clothes rant).  So far so fun.

An odd thing is that I have to go back to work on Thursday if I want to attend my farewell party.  Peculiar.  Okay, there are two of us leaving the same week, me on Wednesday and she on Friday, but it still feels peculiar.
Little Seagull

1.5 weeks to go. (deer in headlights expression)

Okay.  So, my last day at work will be a week this coming Wednesday.  I'm not going to have everything ready to hand over, and I am also not ready to lose my identity as an employed person - especially employed by this employer.  People always say: Oooo - you work for Employer Name? - wow.  It makes a person feel good.  Oh well, eh?

Mom is in her week of seclusion in this second round of chemo.  The aches and pains lasted longer this time, and even though she is feeling better (as one does at this point in the process), she has a finite amount of energy which runs out before she is ready.

The hardest part of this whole process is the lack of information shared in advance.  We know that after the third cycle of chemo, Mom is going for radiation, and she will have to go to Kelowna (2 hour drive each way) for that.  But we don't know when that will start, how many sessions, how frequently the sessions, etc etc etc.  For people who plan for every contingency, this is way tooooo little information.  That "cross that bridge when we reach it" mantra sounds really good until you realize that if you'd known ahead of time that you were going to go in for radiation every week-day for a month, then you could have arranged some cheaper accommodation to save on driving back and forth.  Cheaper accommodation doesn't get arranged on a whim.

We still haven't seen a place we would like to buy.  We're getting to the point that if we pack any more we won't actually be able to function because (a) there won't be room left for a trail amongst the boxes, and (b) we will have packed all the things we need on a daily basis.  We are already living with some work-arounds because things are packed.

I am going to miss Vancouver because of the excellent (compared) transit, and because I can buy Murchies Teas, mochi rice pie/cake from TNT, beautiful parmesan & Italian pasta sold by the number from Ugo & Joe's, Army & Navy deals, and amazing fabrics and notions from Dressew.

Also, while it has reached very chilly-for-here lows, it has reached argh-levels of low temperatures there.  Poot.  I have all these beautiful brollies and no snow boots.  And my winter jacket is not gonna cut it.  Bum.

However, there is a faint chance that marijuana will be legalized before I die, so we can look forward to growing our own weed plant in our own garden.  Not a bad ambition.  :)

Little Seagull

3.5 weeks to go - oy

So, first week back after the holiday break (17 days) was a short week, but it went by too fast, and I didn't get everything done that I thought I would since, naturally, there are new things I didn't know to take into account.  I am, so far, maintaining my resolve to bring something home from my office every night (sooooo much stuff - last night it was my CDs).

My Mom's hair has begun to fall out noticeably, so she went into her hairdresser yesterday and had him shave her scalp.  My Mom is never one to let something just sneak up on her - she is always out there, finding the problem, and then throttling it until it cries uncle.

We haven't found a place to buy in Salmon Arm yet, but more and more of our stuff is getting packed into boxes.  We are (a) having to navigate through the maze, and (b) doing a lot of makeshift because so much is already packed.

When we started packing (September) I was pretty good about being able to purge things, but now as I get more anxious, everything seems to be embued with liminal significance and I can't bear to part with it, so into a box it goes.

I am going to miss having an office (space with a desk , really) dedicated to "my stuff" that never gets moved while I am away from it.