Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lettuce! From the garden!

Wow, it looks like summer hit suddenly.  It's a Hot, Hazy and Humid day.   How hot? The forecast says 40 °C with the Humidex.  That's 104 °F for folks visiting from the United States.

And so, a cool lunch for a hot day:

(Yes, the picture quality isn't that good.  I took this with my phone.)
Today the girls have dumplings (pork and veg) that I boiled in the microwave.  I do not want to add heat today.  And do you see that green, leafy stuff?  It's Buttercrunch lettuce.  Fresh.  Picked from the planter just a few minutes before the photo was taken.     Happy dance!

The girls also have snap peas (not from the garden - yet), yellow pepper (again, not yet from the garden), purple grapes, a strawberry and some blueberries.  Not pictured: large stainless steel water bottles and ice packs.

As much as I'd love to plant berries in the yard, I don't think it's going to happen.  We live very close to a pond, and get lots of wild visitors.  I doubt we'd ever harvest a single berry.  But that's OK.  We also live very close to an awesome Farmer's Market, and there are some local Farm Markets that should be opening in the next couple of weeks.

Added to What's For Lunch Wednesday

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lettuce and Peas, Week 3

Another week full of rain.  The ground is saturated, and low lying areas range from partially flooded to boggy.  This is nothing compared to what is happening in Quebec and Alberta.

So, how about something cheerful?

Week 3 of the experiment:

Look at them grow!  The peas are climbing!  Yippee!

The beans have sprouted and are pushing upwards as well.  One of the sunflowers is trying to grow.  Two leaves have emerged, and the stalk is almost 3 cm tall.

In the background of the photo you can just see Stella, right behind the oregano plant that is taking over the raised bed.  I'm thinking of pulling some of it out to use a a lawn-replacing ground cover.  It is just growing like crazy.  It's been cut in half three (yes, 3!) times so far this spring.    I guess oregano really likes the humid, wet weather.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Doesn’t Taste Right While On Chemotherapy

A while ago, I bumped into an old friend from University.  Not that she is old.  Or that I am old.  Well, maybe a little bit older than, say, new grads, but we aren’t up for CPP or anything yet. 

We were chatting about all kinds of stuff, and Cancer came up.  She was looking for advice for her Mom, who had started Chemotherapy, and was having food issues.  Specifically, it was hard to eat as much as she was supposed to because the food just didn’t taste right. 

Being a Cancer Sherpa, I promised I would ask around, and tell her what I found.  I sent her an email long ago, but still had the info on my desktop.  So why not share it?  That’s what this blog thing is for, right?

A summary of what I learned:
  1. I know an awful lot of people who either have cancer right now or have battled it at least once in their lives. 
  2. There is no one answer.  Unless you count “It depends.”  Everyone I spoke to had a different way of dealing with the food issues. 
The tips themselves:
  • Eat tiny portions.  One friend will eat only 2-3 tablespoons at any one time, to combat nausea.  It means he's pretty much constantly "snacking" on foods that are pretty much pureed, alternating with soda crackers.
  • Eat with plastic fork, knife and spoon.  One friend-of-a-friend can really taste the metal in foods, and stainless steel utensils make it worse.
  • Eat the food only when it is really hot.  One friend says the food doesn't taste right because the taste buds are formed by fast growing cells, so the chemo gets them, too.  She finds the food has a more natural taste if it is hotter.
  • Add more spice to the food.  This is another friend who follows the 'taste buds are dying' approach.  She uses a lot of spices (no salt!) in her food to make it more palatable.  Unfortunately, her family can't stand the extra, so she seasons her food separately.
  • Eat the food really cold.  Yet another friend (I told you I know a lot of people on chemo) prefers his food to be so cold it has no taste.  He lets his supper portion cool while the family eats, then puts it in the fridge for a bit (30 mins. or so) and eats it as cold as possible.
Other tips I received:
  • Eat the comfort food from your childhood; it will make you feel better.
  • Don't eat the comfort food from your childhood; it will ruin it forever. Clearly no winner on that one.
  • If you feel like eating something, eat it.
  • Eat when you feel like it, even if people look at you funny.
  • Suck on a mint or chew gum to get rid of dry mouth.
  • Never suck on a mint or chew gum to get rid of dry mouth. Again, this seems to be a contested, personal choice thing.
  • Magic Mouthwash will eliminate cottonmouth!  This was unanimous among those who'd tried it.  It's a prescription item, and you will have to ask your Oncologist or Oncological Pharmacist person about it.  I tried to get the actual name of the thing, but all anyone would say is "Magic Mouthwash".
And here’s a tip from me:
Contact your local chapter of the Cancer Society, or check it out on line.  There may be a survivor’s or living-with-cancer group in your area.  They may have some good resources available.    

If you have something to add to the list, let me know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Towel Day 2011

Today, (May 25), is Towel Day!

I’m a Douglas Adams fan.  I watched the Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy TV series when I was little (check it out on NetFlix!), and have read the books of the trilogy in four parts (plus a bit) many times.  No, I haven’t heard the original-broadcast-radio series.

The girls have seen the Hitch Hiker’s Guide TV series, and the 2005 film.  While they really liked both, there are parts of the HHGTTG movie they like more.  Specifically the yarn bits and the voice of Marvin.

To celebrate Towel Day, I wanted to do something to let the girls know they are pretty hoopy froods. 

So, here we have:

So Long And Thanks For All the Fish Tuna Pasta Salad, topped with the answer to life, the universe and everything.  Yes it’s purple cabbage.  It’s fine.  It’s mostly harmless.  Purple is not mauve, and all the really dangerous things are mauve, right?

They also have a single strawberry, some yellow pepper slices, and some blueberries.

And what would towel day be without towels?  Here used as napkins, with a very important motto.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

They are growing! A Lettuce and Peas Update

The May 24 Weekend has ended.  It rained for part of every day.  The rest of the week promises lots of rain and continued warm temperatures, too.

As is the custom, we gardened.  Lots of weeding, mowing and cleaning was done.  Some beds were edged. We even planted a few things.  Mostly hardy-ish plants, like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.  And Selma.  She had set flowers, and was not going to get pollinated indoors.

Yes, I know colder weather is coming.  We are watching Selma, and the forecasts.

The exciting news is the peas and beans have sprouted! A few of them are beginning to climb the netting!  It’s working!  See?

Well, so far, anyway.  The lettuce looks much happier in the window box as well.  We planted up the rest of them in other containers sprinkled around the deck and yard.

No significant bunny sightings this weekend.  I didn’t see any earwigs, but I know they are out there.  We did see lots and lots of ants.  They have made hills in some of the flowerbeds and have killed at least one shrub for sure. 

The girls spotted this little guy, and named him Trevor. 

They found a larger toad a few days ago, and named him Nigel.  So far he has been camera shy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lonely Tomato

Poor, lonely tomato.
We were running a bit late today, so lunch was a little lacking in the colour department.

Today the girls have  raw green beans, between blueberries in a cup and roasted chicken in lettuce.  Mini pitas can be stuffed or eaten separately, as the girls desire.  A lone tomato provides a bit of bright colour.  Carrots were nixed ("Please not again"), and since we were behind schedule, no time to slice yellow pepper, either.

Check out What's For Lunch Wednesday

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lettuce and Peas Experiment

(or, Jade vs Ninja Bunnies of Doom)

Alright, I planted before we are really, truly past the last frost date.  
Don't make that face.  I told you I was weak.

My dear friend Kitch, wife of BFH, has an amazing garden.  Every year she produces lovely veg for her family, including lettuce.  Last year, I asked her for her secret.  She said 'lettuce box'.

Now, I have planted lettuce in the garden a time or two.  And what do you suppose happens?  Rabbits. We live near a pond.  These things happen.

I've hung shiny things.  Rabbits eat lettuce.  I've gathered hair from all our brushes, and wound it between the plants.  Rabbits eat lettuce.  I've visited the homes of friends with cats, and collected cat hair for between plants.  Rabbits eat lettuce.  I've stuck noisy things in garden.  Rabbits destroy the noisy things, eat lettuce.  Decoy food on other side of yard?  Eaten, along with lettuce.   Lettuce in planter at front of house.  Dessication.  But no rabbits.  

They ate the beans in the garden instead.  ALL OF THEM.

Ahem.  Sorry about that.

This year? This year will be different!  This year, I shall plant many numerous containers of lettuce, and also peas and beans.  Some of them will be on the back deck.  One is already planted:

Romaine lettuce at one end, Bibb at the other.  In the back are climbing peas, that will (allegedly) get up to six feet (nearly 2 meters) high.  In the front are shorter peas that may not actually sprout because the seeds are from last year.  In between are dwarf sunflowers, also from last year.  At the ends I've stuck bean seeds.  They are from this year, but I do not expect very much from them.

Climbing peas in a window box?
Am I off my nut? 
Quite possibly!  Ninja Bunnies of Doom will do that to you.

See that mesh-stuff?  It's a kind of trellis.  I intend to unroll it as the plants sprout, feeding out more line as required, until it is eventually stapled to the pergola above the deck.  I don't want to put it up too soon, as it almost clear when unrolled, and difficult to see.  It shows up nicely against the cedar post, but disappears against the glass.  We have a lot of birds visiting the yard.  Many of them seem not particularly bright to begin with, and having what seems to me far too much like a nearly-transparent gill net floating in their way is just wrong.

But this year, I want to get at least some lettuce.

Stoopid Ninja Bunnies of doom.

Friday, May 13, 2011

National Cancer Survivor's Day is June 5th

Hey!  Did you hear?  There is a National Cancer Survivor's Day!  And it's coming up!  Mark your calendars!

Why do I care?

When I went in for my most recent checkup, I met a lovely woman who had never met a cancer survivor.  Every one she knew who had cancer died.

And she was scared.

Because she had cancer.

And it's scary.

Now here's the thing; she is not the only person in this boat.

A little while ago, I attended a survivor's group with a friend.  She signed me up, actually.  She didn't want to go to the thing alone.  And, since I was her Sherpa, I went.

My friend (who shall henceforth be known as Madame President) introduces herself to people as the President of the Survivors' Club, and Chair of the Welcoming Committee For Cancer Survivors. She is a 30 year survivor.  Unfortunately, she put herself up for renewed membership 2 years ago.   That darn paperwork ;-)

But guess what?  She is still here!  And she's fine!

We hear the crappy news all the time.  It's easy to find, easy to print.  We need to hear the good sometimes, too.  Recognize that cancer doesn't always win.

So, let's get the word out, shall we?    If one in 4 people will have cancer in their lifetimes, odds are exceptionally good that you already know one person who has, will have, or has had the big CA.

Canada's Survivor Day is June 5th.

It looks like this was started in the US, and a few other countries have joined in.  See here for more info. 

I totally understand people not wanting to "Out" themselves as having had cancer.  You face an awful lot of negative attention.  You get blamed for having been sick.  You get accused of lying, because you aren't dead.  You will never be able to get insurance again.  You may not be able to get a job.  You may loose a job.  People treat you like you are contagious.

But honestly?  If we don't stand up, and stand together, then cancer wins.


And NOBODY wants that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Love Note

We eat a lot of chicken.  I hadn't noticed before.  Lots of rice, too.  Also lots of fish, but I'm not quite so sure about sending that to school in a lunchbox. 

Today's lunch:
Butter chicken (leftover from last night) and shaped brown rice.  Peanut had an eighth note, Pumpkin had a heart, each outlined in broccoli.  Grapes and sliced red peppers had mixed reviews. Time to change up the fruit and veg, I think.  They liked the shaped rice, though.

Check out What's For Lunch Wednesday

Bonus - Breaking News!
A follow up to the CyberKnife post:
BFH survived the procedure.  Yay!  No adverse effects!  Also Yay!
But the biggest Yay?  Of quite-some-if-not-all-time?


The CyberKnife killed the brain tumor!

There has been (and will continue to be) much rejoicing!

Now, BFH is not totally done fighting the war.  He still has lesions in his liver, and the possibility of others lurking, undetected elsewhere.

But Still!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Gardening Time

We are experiencing summer.  It will probably last 4 days.  I very much want to plant all the lovely little things.  But I know what will happen.

It will be great for 4 days.
We will have a massive cold front, followed closely by thunderstorms and damaging winds.
It will be nice again for 2 days.
We will have a massive frost.
Warm weather will return.  People will get very excited.  Camping will happen.
May 24th will be wet and cold.
There will be another frost.
All planting will have to be completed by June 2, or else!
OK, June 10th at the latest, really.

But I am weak.

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  My Darling Hubby gave me an envelope marked "Angry Mob Supplies".  It's part of a gag from Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.  He and the girls took me to a garden centre.  My favourite garden centre.

I got plants. A lovely false spirea for the shady part of the garden.  Some mint for the patch of ground by the garage where *nothing* grows.  Yes, it may take over.  I don't care.  It's not thistles.

We walked through the annuals section.  They were beautiful.  They called to me.  I had to be strong.  Only hardy-ish things today!  And maybe some herbs.  And some lettuce to put in a planter that I can coddle.  But nothing that can't take the cold I know is coming.

Did I mention I'm weak?

And that is why there is a tomato plant in my kitchen.

We're thinking of calling her Selma.

Friday, May 6, 2011


(it's a trademarked name)

Nope, not part of a Dr. Who villain’s (or monster’s) arsenal.  Part of the anti-cancer arsenal.

My Best Friend’s Husband (The husband of Kitch; I’ll call him BFH) is having surgery with a CyberKnife today.

We are very excited.  Also a little worried,  but mostly very hopeful.

BFH has been battling cancer for over a year now.  It started in his esophagus and has spread to his liver and now his brain.    BFH is very cool.  And also awesome.  And determined. 

Back to the CyberKnife.

OK, so as you’ve heard before, the three ways to kill cancer are cut, burn and poison.  Cut = surgery, burn = radiation, poison = chemotherapy.

Since the cancer has spread to the brain, chemo isn’t an option.  It won’t cross the blood/brain barrier.  Standard surgery would mean BFH going off his regular chemo for some time before and after, and a whole host of risks.  So, no. 

CyberKnife is…new.  The official site can be found at this link.  

It is robotic, radiation surgery.  It will target the tumor very accurately, leaving the normal, healthy tissue alone.   Which sounds a lot more preferable to someone digging into the little grey cells with a big ol’ scalpel.

As I understand it, BFH will be on the table, or chair, or whatever, and positioned with a mask or strap or something.  But he won’t have a frame screwed into his skull as with other surgical treatments.  And it sounds like he won’t be sedated. 

So, we wish him and his care team the very best today.   

But some of us may possibly make comments about super villain powers later.

edit-May 7/11
Since some visitors come from CinnamonOpus, note that BDH and BFH are not the same person.  Both totally cool, but not the same guy.  And neither one is a BOFH. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May The Fourth Be With You!

Tomorrow is Star Wars Day!

Peanut and Pumpkin are having lunch provided by the school tomorrow, so we celebrated a little early.

Peanut drew a lovely storm trooper for me free hand. I traced it (kinda) and used it as a template for the mask.

It...um...lost a little in the translation.

But the girls still thought it was cool!

Lunch was:
Ham sandwiches on rye bread, topped with an asiago cheese storm trooper helmet that has nori cut out details. [Sigh.] Badly cut out "details".  I must practice. Today's fruits and veggies are broccoli, carrot sticks, grapes, blueberries and kiwi.

added to What's For Lunch Wednesday!