Jenster's Musings

Friday, April 27, 2007

April 27, 2005 - The Diagnosis

The sun rose as usual in Benton, Arkansas, on Wednesday, April 27, 2005. The birds sang, the dogs barked, all over the world people went about their business like any other day.

Todd had accepted his new position in Pennsylvania and given his three week notice just days before. We were preoccupied with list upon list of what needed to be done around the house before it would be ready to show. It was our main topic of conversation.

I was a little miffed this particular morning because I had to stop my cleaning/ purging/spiffing-up momentum for a mammogram and a doctor’s appointment. Not that getting a mammogram was any big deal. I’d had lumps before and had been squished twice already. They were always the same thing – benign, fibrocystic lumps.

This lump was a little different, though. The small mass was just left of the nipple of my left breast and was pulling the areola in on that side. The effect was what I like to call “Marty Feldman Syndrome” or MFS. You know, one eye focused straight ahead while the other strayed off in an entirely different direction. Still, I only figured this had more to do with where the lump was and less to do with what it was.

What had me concerned was the fact my gynecologist was sending me to a “breast specialist” after the mammogram. He’d never done that before. In fact he’d never really been worried before, but this time he was obviously disturbed by the MFS. So I requested prayers from some friends and asked Todd to go with me.

The mammogram went as usual. I let the very nice technician manhandle my chest and tug on me just so there would be enough to cram in the cold contraption. I tried hard not to laugh when she said the ridiculous words, "Hold your breath and don't move." Really. Where am I going to go?

After the usual mammogram was the usual ultrasound. After the usual ultrasound was the usual quick consultation with the radiologist. This time, however, he said there was a bit of a chance of malignancy. About 20% from what he could see from the films. He was certain the specialist would want to schedule a needle biopsy. Bah! That meant there was an 80% chance of it being benign.

Films in hand, we headed to the breast specialist, more commonly referred to as the surgical oncologist. But I preferred the former title. Not quite as scary.

Todd and I sat in the cold, sterile room – he in the chair and me on the exam table in my lovely gown, feet dangling like a child - totally ignoring the huge elephant while we prioritized our ever-growing To Do list. The doctor came in with the films, clipped them onto the view box and introduced herself. She said the mass looked suspicious and a needle biopsy would be in order.

At this point I was more exasperated than anything. All I could think of was what a terrible inconvenience this was. I knew it couldn’t be cancer because I had no doubt God wanted us in Pennsylvania. He had been very persistent in this regard. And if He wanted us to move he wouldn’t give me cancer. Right?

“Here’s the deal,” I said. I told her about Todd’s impending move in just a few weeks and how the kids and I would be following as soon as the house was sold. If she gave the lump a 20% chance of malignancy as the radiologist did then I’d do the needle biopsy because I knew it would prove benign. So after explaining our situation I asked what her opinion was.

It was in that moment I realized she had been easing us into the reality of what we were dealing with. Her demeanor changed from professional courtesy to one of blunt frankness. “I’ve seen thousands of films and judging from this starburst pattern radiating away from the tumor, I would give this a 95% probability of malignancy.”

I’m not sure if I made a sound, but I felt as though I’d been hit in the stomach, the wind completely knocked out of me. Deep down I’d known this was different than the lumps I’d had before, but the shock was a physical blow. I was almost afraid to look at Todd and when I did I knew he’d been slammed by the same force. The doctor handed me a box of Kleenex and left us to gather our thoughts.

Not speaking, we clung to each other and wept. I was only 39. Our children were 10 and 13. We were supposed to be moving. Suddenly nothing made sense.

When she came back into the room I told her I didn’t want to waste time with a needle biopsy. That would just delay everything another week at least and time was of the essence here. I wanted to get this mess taken care of so I could get on with my life.

She agreed a needle biopsy would be nearly useless and before we left I was scheduled for a surgical biopsy and potential mastectomy the following week. Todd and I walked to the car in a mute daze, still reeling from the news. He finally broke the silence when he said he was going to try to get his Little Rock job back. I persuaded him not to do anything yet. At least not until we had stopped spinning and could think rationally.

As we drove home I looked at him and said, “There is a silver lining to this very dark cloud.” He looked at me, clearly unconvinced. “I’m serious. I can think of several benefits. First of all, the chemo will be a harsh, yet effective weight loss program and I won’t have to shave anymore. And I’ll have all the time in the world to read all those books in the office.”

He still didn’t seem to be on board until I hit him with the clincher. “And,” I said, going in for the kill, “insurance will actually pay for me to get a set of new, improved, perky boobs!” Yeah. That got his attention.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur, though it seemed to drag out forever. Under normal circumstances my first phone call would have been to my mother. She and my dad, however, were on vacation in California with no way for me to get a hold of them. So instead I called my hairdresser and went in for a hair cut. Can you say “denial”? Or maybe it was just shock.

My parents were scheduled to call us two days later and I was struggling with what to tell them. I was afraid they would cut their vacation short just to come home and be there when I had the surgery. I really didn’t want them to do that. Instead my father happened to call this particular day about another matter. Dad’s not much of a talker and I was thankful it was him because I was pretty sure the subject of my mammogram wouldn’t come up. We were just about to hang up when I heard my mom in the background saying, “Ask her how her appointment went.” *sigh* I just said, “Not good. I’m having surgery on Tuesday,” and that was that.

Later when my mom called and mentioned they should change their tickets and come home I was able to convince her not to. I knew I was going to need them a whole lot more when I started treatment. Besides, Todd’s parents were in town to help and my sister, Terri, was coming to help, too.

We had already told the kids I had a lump and the doctor wanted me to have a mammogram to make sure it wasn’t something bad. Of course I had to explain what that was, to which Taylor asked, “Will they pop back into place when it’s over?” That’s what happens when you encourage your children to ask questions. They do.

So that afternoon we told them the breast doctor didn’t like what she saw and I would be having surgery the following week. I don’t think we actually said the word “cancer” in this particular conversation. We figured the fact I was going to have surgery was enough for them to deal with. Besides, there was still that 5% chance it was benign.

There were several people who knew I was going in for a mammogram and I sent them a global email with the results of the day’s events. In the message I said we probably wouldn’t be answering the phone that day. By that night, however, I had spoken to the majority of them. What was funny – and truly made us laugh – was that I was the one comforting friends and family.

After the phone calls stopped and the kids had gone to bed, we laid in our own bed holding hands and talking. Despite the events of the day there was a feeling of peace. There were still so many unknowns, but, as I’ve said many times before, we knew God was in control. And that knowledge is the best source of comfort there is.

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Mused by Jenster :: 7:03 AM :: 21 People musing:

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just Some Stuff

Today is my parents' 54th Wedding Anniversary. It's hard to believe it was four years ago that my sisters and I had a 50th Anniversary reception for them. I'm pretty sure it's even harder for them to believe they've been married for more than half a century. I can't imagine what it must be like to live with someone for that long! LOL (pssst - Dad - I think 55 years is the emerald year so you may want to start thinking about some pretty emerald earrings to go with mom's eyes)

Today is also Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work day. So Katie went to work with Todd. She was quite excited this morning, even though it meant getting up earlier than usual. I was a little concerned about how long this excitement would last, but I think she's enjoying herself. She's actually done some work with Todd's administrative assistant and now dad and daughter are going out for lunch.

I took the girls, better known as Dixie and Daisy, for their first swim today. It is my great pleasure to report they behaved splendidly. Not once did I worry about a rebellious boob traveling somewhere it shouldn't.

Depending on how you count laps I either swam 5 or 10. I prefer the latter. It sounds much better. But technically I suppose you count one lap when you return to where you started. Seeing as how I'm not very technical I choose to ignore that bit of logic. So yeah. I swam 10 laps. And that was only the breast stroke. I also swam two laps of the back stroke.

I had to rest a lot between laps - it took me 30 minutes to swim the few laps I did - but it felt so good to be swimming. I had a little bit of pain in my abdomen where I pulled the muscle, but even that was a good pain. And the best part was that I didn't itch one iota while swimming. In fact, I'm still not very itchy at all. Hope it'll last.

All in all it's a pretty good day!

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:46 AM :: 6 People musing:

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My New Normal

I'm not sure if it's because I'm at the anniversary of my diagnosis and surgery, but I've been rather contemplative. Usually I'm pretty shallow, but lately I've been thinking deep thoughts. A lot of work for a simple, superficial gal such as myself.

I've been struggling lately with what has become my new normal. My fight has been accepting who I am now while desperately wanting things to be like they were before I was diagnosed.

Two years ago I foolishly thought once my treatment was over and once we got settled as a family again and once I had reconstruction, everything would go back to the way it had been. I had heard from more experienced women that things are never the same, but I guess I didn't believe it. I am just now coming to the realization that it's true.

When you're diagnosed with cancer you think about the big things. Will the surgery get all the cancer? Will the chemo make me sick? Will it do any good? Will I get to watch my kids grow up? But you don't think about the vast number of other changes your body and mind will go through. They don't seem important at the time. And I guess when pitted against the ultimate scare of death, they're not. But when you've made it through surgery and treatment and everything is looking good, you start waiting for all those other changes to get back to normal.

Maybe the weight will eventually come off. Maybe the blisters will eventually go away. Maybe the hypersensitive skin will eventually toughen up. Maybe I'll eventually feel like a 41-year-old instead of someone much older. And the other changes, the ones that are too personal to write about on a blog, maybe some of them will go back to the way it was. But some of the changes are permanent and there's not a thing I can do about it.

I think I'm finally getting to the place where I can stop mourning the loss of who I was and accept who I am. For me this is a spiritual journey and only by the grace of God will I be content with my situation.

When I was diagnosed there were those who said God had given me cancer for a reason and there were those who said God had allowed the cancer for a reason. Whichever is true, the fact remains that He has been in control of this from the very beginning. I've been through the fire and dross has melted away, but I find I'm still not nearly as shiny as I could be. So I'm learning to embrace my new normal because it's another chance at refinement, bringing me that much closer to being pure gold.

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:50 AM :: 13 People musing:

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Monday, April 23, 2007

What Was Going On The Year I Was Born

I've got nothin'. I have a million things worthy of my blog (which isn't saying a whole lot) but very little time and even less gumption to post anything. So I'm cheating. Gotta love blogthings!

In 1965 (the year you were born)

Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the US

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara calls for a nationwide network of bomb shelters

Former leader of the Black Muslims, Malcolm X, is shot and killed in New York City

To protest voting rights discrimination, civil rights demonstrators begin a march for Selma to Montgomery with federal troop protection

The first commercial satellite, Early Bird, is launched into space by Nasa to transmit telephone and television signals

Voting Rights Act is signed into law

Riots by young blacks in the Watts area of Los Angeles begin, causing $200 million in damage

Hurricane Betsy claims 75 lives in southern Florida and Louisiana

United States President Lyndon Johnson proclaims his "Great Society" during his State of the Union address

Dr. Dre, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Downey Jr., Shania Twain, Moby, and Ben Stiller are born

Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series

Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup

The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews, is the top grossing film

Dune by Frank Herbert is published

The Beatles' Rubber Soul is released

"Satisfaction" by Rolling Stones is a top hit

The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing songs from their new album Help!

Sony introduces the Betamax, a home video tape recorder

Nearly all of NBC's programs are now broadcast in color

I Dream of Jeannie premieres
What Happened the Year You Were Born?

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Family Traits

When I was growing up I thought my mother had a superhuman sense of hearing and overly developed olfactories. I believed she could hear a whisper on the other side of the house and smell what the people two blocks away were cooking for dinner.

So one day I told her she had ears like a cat and a nose like a dog. "So you're telling me I look like a dog?" she asked, feigning offense. Realizing how bad that sounded I amended my statement. "No! You know what I mean. You hear like a cat and smell like a dog!" Yeah. Not better by a long shot. I believe I inherited her dog nose and my family is totally insensitive to my superior sniffing skills.

I can smell a stinky bathroom from a different floor. No matter how many times I tell them to turn on the fan and close the door it seems to be too much to remember. They might remember to turn on the fan but leave the door wide open, thereby allowing the stink to escape before the fan can absorb it all. Or they may close the door but leave the fan off, letting the stench slip out through the bottom.

I don't think I'm asking too much, do you?

1. Turn on the fan.

2. Close the door.

I suppose I should be happy they remember to flush.

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Mused by Jenster :: 9:54 PM :: 11 People musing:

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Random Musings

I have nothing brilliant to post today. Not that "brilliant" is a word used to describe my blog, but anyway...

Before I go on I have to mention the shootings yesterday. My heart goes out to the people affected by this tragedy, which I'm guessing is just about all of us. But the families and friends are foremost in my prayers. What a senseless loss.


My new car came with a three month trial of Sirius satellite. When I'm listening to satellite the stereo says who the artist is and the title of the song. I find myself looking at it to see if it's scrolling the words like a karaoke machine. Wouldn't that be cool?? Except for then I'd probably spend more time watching the stereo than the road so maybe that's not such a great idea.


Is it just me or does anyone else find the word "hoodia" to be hysterical. Every time I hear it in a commercial I am compelled to say it out loud and then I giggle. It's the simple things in life, you know.


A month or so ago Todd and I drove up to Martin Guitar in Nazareth, PA, to pick up the love of his life - his new guitar. For some reason I'm not jealous of "Arwyn" like I am Jill (the GPS). Which has caused me to notice a disturbing trend. It seems as though we name everything. I'm starting to think we develop unhealthy relationships with inanimate objects.


Because Martin is a tourist stop they have brochures for the local attractions. Since we like to RV I picked up all the campground brochures I could find. One in particular made me gasp in shock before I dissolved into laughter. All I saw when I first picked it up was "Family Camping the Natural Way". It was a NUDIST CAMPGROUND! "Family camping?" Whatever.


I've survived my first nor'easter. We had lots of rain, tons of wind and a bunch of snow. In the middle of April! The schools were delayed for two hours yesterday which was nice. We all got to sleep in until 8:00. But I'm really looking forward to spring. I'm ready for capris and sandals weather.

I do feel for the many people who have really suffered from this storm. The flooding, the 17" of snow, the loss of electricity. So much to deal with.


Current Reading

I am currently reading A Voice in the Wind, book #1 of the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. It is truly a stellar novel and Ms. Rivers never fails to impress me. While she writes inspirational fiction, her books are edgy and raw, holding nothing back.

This series takes place thirty years or so after the death of Christ (I think historically it was 70 AD) during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. We take a ride from Jerusalem to Germania to Rome to Ephesus and follow the lives of four main characters:

Hadassah - A Jewish Christian, she's the only survivor of her family and eventually becomes a slave to a spoiled Roman girl. She hides her Christianity because, while Jews are not loved by the Romans, Christians are despised and sent to the lions for sport.

Atretes - A Germanic warrior, he unwillingly is made the clan chief when his father is killed during a battle with Romans. Shortly after, he's captured and sent to train as a gladiator.

Marcus - A young Roman man who embraces the modern notion that if it feels good do it. Nothing else matters but one's own pleasures. He's forever at odds with his parents, especially his father, who hold to the older moral traditions.

Julia - Younger sister to Marcus and the spoiled Roman girl who is given Hadassah as her maid.

This was not a pretty time and Ms. Rivers doesn't hide the ugliness. She paints a very real and vivid picture of what life was like. But the characters are fascinating and the tales she weaves are mesmerizing. I've had the set for three years or so and I can't figure out why I waited so long to start it.

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:28 AM :: 12 People musing:

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Spring Break Tourism - Part Two

Friday April 6

This is where I went. I think the stress of trying to ignore intense itching for a few days finally caught up with me. I'm not usually a napper, but boy did I nap that day. I think it was only a 20-minute power nap, but Todd says it was several hours. Maybe it was somewhere in between.

I'm sure my mother will be mortified when she sees that I posted a picture of my unmade bed for all the world to see. I have to say it gave me pause as well, but I did it anyway. Besides, a picture of a made bed would have been deceiving - like I maybe fell asleep on the top. No, I was all warm and snuggly and wrapped in bliss.

Not only does everyone get to see my messy bed, everyone gets to see that I desperately need bedroom furniture. My hope is that the masses will feel sorry for me and take up a collection. Just email me and I'll let you know where to send the money.

I also had to post a picture of this Mary Englebright pillow case that Todd uses. It's actually an old pillow case of Katie's, but he tells her it makes him feel pretty so he gets to use it.

Now our deep, dark secrets have been revealed.

When I woke up I was glad to learn Tim and Rachele had driven Todd's truck to the park and took a walk on the path. At least they weren't stuck here the entire day with nothing to do.

Saturday, April 7

Since we'd been to Philadelphia and Lancaster County, we decided to go north into the Poconos on Saturday. I did a little research online and found what looked to be a beautiful state park to visit. Lehigh Gorge State Park is described as a "spectacular gorge that lends its name to this State Park slices through the Pocono Plateau for nearly 25 miles, creating a dramatic landscape of steep, hemlock- and rhododendron-covered slopes, rocky escarpments, and side streams that surge into waterfalls."

I figured we'd drive to the visitor center, use the sparkling clean restrooms, pick up a detailed guide of the park and follow it to the spectacular flora and fauna. I couldn't have been more wrong. There was no visitor center with sparkling restrooms. There was no detailed guide of the park. There WAS a lot of flora, but the only fauna we saw were domesticated dogs. Here's a photo of the waterfall we saw.

It was a beautiful drive, but the twins were using poor Rachele's bladder as a trampoline. After some driving around we stopped at a restaurant called "Boonie's Cafe". It was time for lunch anyway so we thought we'd kill two birds with one stone. She ran in to use the facilities and the rest of us mosied. The "cafe" was actually a smelly, smokey bar. So we left and went down the street to Izio's Casual Italian. The waiter had a thick Italian accent and it was difficult to understand him at times. I can't help but wonder, though, if he switched to a heavy Brooklyn accent when he was in the kitchen. Regardless, the food was delicious.

After lunch we drove back to the town of Jim Thorpe, named for The World's Greatest Athlete. This is a bit confusing because, while he is buried there, he never actually lived there. Curious history notwithstanding, it is a charming Victorian town.

One of the big tourist attractions is the steam train that travels along the river through the Lehigh Gorge. Maybe some day we'll take the train and see another waterfall.

Sunday April 8

Easter morning we all got around and went to church. Very rarely are there small children in the service so they played this Easter Linebacker video. It's a spoof on the Terry Tate Office Linebacker commercials and it's pretty funny. Despite the somewhat irreverent levity, the rest of the service - especially the message - was wonderful.

Tim and Rachele had to leave for the airport around 3:00, so we had a delicious Easter lunch before they left. Tim had made his famous mashed potatoes and I had made my broccoli salad the night before. All we had to do on Sunday was bake the pork loin. Unfortunately it took longer than it was supposed to. No matter, though. We still had plenty of time to eat and be miserable.

The week was over when I dropped them off at the airport. We had such a good time with them and hope it won't be too many years before they come back. Of course next time there will be four of them. What fun that will be!!

My final photo is a picture of my Easter present. I'd seen something similar in a shop in Jim Thorpe and mentioned to Todd I'd like to have one of those for the entry. Katie and I skipped out of the store and went to the candy store next door.

I don't know if you can read the whole thing, but it says "Cead Mile Failte" which is Gaelic for One Hundred Thousand Welcomes.

And that, my friends, was our spring break!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Break Tourism

I'm finally getting around to posting pictures of the touristy things we did while Tim and Rachele were here. I'm kicking myself for not snapping a shot of the no parking sign, but it's probably for the best. I'm sure no good could come from having that evidence in my possession. I guess I just need to move on.

Tuesday April 3

Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (You know - the day of the infamous parking ticket - but I'm moving on. Really.) Unfortunately there was no picture taking allowed in the King Tut exhibit. I'll try to describe it to you. A lot of extremely old stuff in big glass cases. Just think of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns and you'll get the idea, though we didn't see anything quite so gruesome as a decomposing body. Which reminds me, there were things belonging to Amhenotep II and Amhenotep III, both believed to be the grandfather and great-grandfather of Tut. This excited me because my vast knowledge of Egyptian history has been gained to me through the Mummy movies.

Me: (With much awe and wonder) Oh look! I wonder if this is the same Amhenotep from the movie!

Todd: (Not so awed) Maybe.

Me: No. Now that I think about it, it couldn't be. He wasn't a second or a third and he was only a priest, not a Pharaoh. So he couldn't be the same one. Maybe he was the father of Amhenotep II.

Todd: (Probably a little patronizing, but I hadn't caught on yet) Mm-hm. Could be.

Me: Except, that's probably not right. He was a priest so he couldn't be married. At least I don't think so. And in the movie he wasn't married, but carrying on an affair with the Pharaoh's mistress. So if he were the father of Amhenotep II, then the Amhenotep II probably wouldn't have become a Pharaoh.

Todd: And we all know the "Mummy" movies are historical fact.

Me: Hmph! (At this point I realized the ludicrous nature of my one-way discussion, but was unwilling to admit it.)

Surprisingly we still felt like eating after seeing the parking ticket. (Really! I AM getting past this!) So we took Tim and Rachele to Sonny's. And for those attentive readers out there, yes, the date stamp on the picture is wrong. I forgot to get a picture of the restaurant that day so I went through my picture archives and found this one from a year before. But I don't consider it cheating because that's really where we went to eat.

Sonny's has the most fantabulous cheese steaks! And it's more of a local place as opposed to a tourist trap so they're never too busy, though they have a steady stream of patrons.

We stopped at Costco on the way home, but I didn't get a picture of that, either. And I don't believe I have a picture in my archives so you'll just have to use your imagination.

Wednesday April 4

The boys stayed home while the three girls went to KOP (that's local talk for the King of Prussia Mall). Rachele was on the hunt for a maternity swimsuit and Katie thought she was looking for an Easter/Concert dress. I indulged her a little bit and I have to admit, it scared me.

First of all, why is she drawn to the hooker section? She'd pick out a dress that looked like something from Pretty Woman - and I'm not talking about the nice clothes - and I'd say, "That's lovely, but Auntie Rachele says no." I figured Rachele was only here for a short time and didn't have to live with Katie's wrath. Somehow, however, Katie knew I was lying.

And second, can huffing, flouncing and rolling one's eyes back into one's head be dangerous over time? Maybe she got it all out of her system and the teenage years - THAT WE HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN TO YET - will sail by smoothly.

Alright. I need to continue on. I'm feeling the urge to huff, flounce and roll my eyes and that can't be good.

While we were gone Tim decided to go on a walkabout. He walked 4 miles, taking a circuitous route to the beer store where he purchased two cases of beer and walked a good mile back holding one under each arm. Talk about endurance exercise. I would have stopped to get him some if he wanted it that bad.

Thursday April 5

We went to see the plain folk, starting with the Intercourse Cannery in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. In the snow.
I wish they'd change the name of the town because I still can't say it with a straight face. I suppose I could wish I'd grow up instead, but I think a name change is more probable.

After that we went to the Old Candle Barn. Neat place with lots of candles (who could have guessed) and primitive knick knacks. Downstairs they make the candles and you can go watch. We girls thought that sounded like fun, but when we got down there they weren't doing a darn thing. Lazy Amish people!

Across the parking lot - where they had FREE parking (moving on) - was Kitchen Kettle Village, Tourist Trap Extraordinaire. But since it was snowing there wasn't a big crowd.

Here's a picture of an Amish bus.

After that we drove to an outlet mall to look for good tennies. No blogworthy photos from that little adventure.

By this time we acknowledged the need to feed the diabetic and the pregnant woman. So we drove down the street to Fuddrucker's, not only one of the best hamburger joints, but a fun and shocking thing to say. Again, I've never professed to be terribly mature.
The last stop was at Sonic - definitely blogworthy! Sonic is as prolific in Arkansas as Starbucks is in New York City. They're on practically every corner. Our family alone supported two in our town. So you can imagine our utter dismay when we moved to an area with no Sonic. One day in a moment of culinary despair, I went online and found out there IS a Sonic in the state of Pennsylvania. In Lancaster County. So we can't go to Lancaster without stopping at Sonic. It didn't matter we were completely stuffed from our dinner at Fuddruckers. It would have been wrong to drive by since we were in the area.

There are still a couple more days to go, but this post has turned out to be rather lengthy. Come back tomorrow for the rest of the post. I know you can't wait!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Doctor, Moronic Highway Work, Doctor

This morning I drove into Philadelphia to see the nurse practitioner at my plastic surgeon's office about a possible hernia. Remember that ice storm we had a few weeks ago? Well, after scrubbing three toilets and two bathtubs, I went outside and helped the kids shovel the ice off the drive. I either pulled a muscle or herniated my abdomen. The NP and I are leaning toward pulled muscle because it has gotten better and she couldn't palpate a bulge when I coughed. If it gets worse we'll do a CT scan, but I'm betting it's going to continue to get better.

On my way into Philadelphia this morning I noticed the Highway Department had one lane on the opposite side of the freeway closed so they could change the bulb in a street lamp. This shocked and angered me. Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the country, yet it's highway system is one of the worst I've ever seen. There are only two lanes escaping the metropolis and when one of them is closed the traffic backs up for miles. So why in the world would they choose 9:00 on a weekday morning to do this stuff?? It's totally insane. Last week when we drove to Philly for King Tut they were doing work on the freeway signs and had one of our lanes blocked. What should have taken us 45 minutes turned into nearly two hours. And now that I think about it, if we hadn't gotten stuck in traffic Rachel wouldn't have had to make a mad dash for a restroom, which means we would have still been in the car and I would have noticed the No Parking sign, thereby saving us $295, give or take a few bucks for legal parking. Maybe I should send my ticket to the Highway Department!

Then it was back to my dermatologist this afternoon. Twenty-one days of high dose steroids later and my vasculitis is starting to clear. I am of the firm belief the steroids had nothing to do with it. I think it just ran it's course. Whatever. I don't care. I'm just glad it's going away.

I took my final steroid last Wednesday. That same day I noticed a couple red, itchy spots on the inside of my left arm. By Thursday I had a full blown rash from my neck to the tops of my feet. It looks like an allergic reaction to something - Heaven only knows what. He did two more biopsies to make sure it's not the same thing with a different presentation.

Oy vey! Eventually my blisters will be completely gone, I won't have a pain in my abdomen whenever I laugh too hard or sneeze or cough or move just the wrong way and I won't be covered with this annoying rash. And I'm going to feel GREAT!

I can't wait.

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Monday, April 09, 2007


The smart, lovely, magnificent

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She guessed $350 and the next guess was $200. I'm sad (very sad) to say the ticket was $301. I'm happy (very happy) to say I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Todd had dropped Rachel and me off so we could get her to a restroom because she has the pregnancy thimble-sized bladder thing going on. For some reason Todd and his brother didn't think the big, sign on top of a sign that said NO PARKING, TOW AWAY ZONE, and a bunch of other stuff was for real. Frankly, I'm just happy the car was still there when we returned.


Mused by Jenster :: 9:02 AM :: 14 People musing:

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Sunday, April 08, 2007



Mused by Jenster :: 8:56 AM :: 5 People musing:

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

23 Years Ago Today...

April 5th was on a Thursday 23 years ago today. And just like this Thursday, it was Maundy Thursday, the day many churches celebrate the Last Supper.

My friend, Cathy, and I had spent the first part of the week laying by a pool in Palm Springs, supposedly babysitting her younger sister and a friend. We came back on Wednesday so I could go to the service at church with my parents on Thursday and leave for my grandparents' in Northern California on Friday.

I had a neighbor across the street named Eddie who was a year older than me and a second year student at Berkley. When we came home from church and I saw Eddie's car there I decided to go visit for a little while. I noticed Billy's car and another car in front. The other car made me hesitate because I didn't know who it belonged to. Mom reminded me, though, that we were leaving in the morning and Eddie would be gone when we got back.

So I went to see Eddie and Billy and whoever the other person was. Turns out the other person was this really cute guy. We'd gone to the same high school, he a year older than myself, but we didn't know each other. He was nice and thoughtful and funny and we found ourselves on the same side of every argument which broke out - and there were always a lot at Eddie's house. Which are faster - long skis or short skis? Which is the better baseball team - the Angels or the Dodgers? Who was the better English teacher - Wickstrom or Garner? And on and on and on. That family would discuss anything! Which is probably why I enjoyed going over there. Nothing like a brisk conversation to get the blood pumping.

There was an immediate and obvious attraction between Eddie's friend and myself, but he had been dating the same girl off and on for nearly two years and I kind of sort of had a boyfriend overseas in the Navy. Still, I found myself thankful that I had a great tan and he was seeing me at my best. After all, I'd just come from church so I looked nice. Otherwise there's no telling what I would have looked like!

But alas, he was attached and I was pseudo-attached so nothing could come of it. What was telling, however, was the next day on the drive to Northern California - 8 hours - according to my Mother I talked about that boy the entire way. I'm sure my "boyfriend" made it into the conversation some, but it was dominated by that guy at Eddie's.

I know you all are really smart and I don't have to tell you it was Todd I met 23 years ago today. I have a hard time reconciling the fact that I'm OLD enough to have met him 23 years ago. What was I? Eight?? Um, no. That doesn't add up quite right. I was 18 and he was 19. Which makes us *gasp* middle aged.

And the matter of other attachments? You'll just have to wait another month to find out what happened there.


I'll post the winner of yesterday's contest - along with much praise and adoration - in another couple of days. So if you haven't made your guess yet, then get to it!

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:17 AM :: 12 People musing:

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring Break Update

This is just a quick drive-by post.

The family flew in late Monday night and yesterday we went to the Franklin Institute:

And saw the King Tut exhibit:

It was fascinating and hard to grasp the age of most of the artifacts. Some of them were reproductions, but the majority of them were thousands of years old. Remarkable.

And here's a little contest. Whoever comes the closest will receive praise and adoration on my blog. So don't be shy with the answers!!

How much is a parking ticket in the great city of Philadelphia??

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:54 AM :: 12 People musing:

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

March Reading

I read 104 books during the month of March.


Now that I have the April 1st charade requirements fulfilled I shall tell you what I read in March. And there were only five books so this shouldn't take too long.

Dream Hunter - Sherrilyn Kenyon (Paranormal Romance)

This is somewhere around the bajillionth book in the Dark Hunter series. I know some die hard DH fans were disappointed in this one, but I liked it. I've always been enamored with mythology and this book was chock full of it. It did take me until the very end of the book to realize that it took place before the first book in the series, though. Regardless, I was entertained and that's the whole point. Isn't it?

The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory (Historical Fiction)

Queen Elizabeth is in love with Sir Robert Dudley, but Sir Robert is married to Lady Amy Dudley. The Queen has the power to dissolve the marriage, just as her father dissolved his legal marriage to Queen Katherine so he could marry Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. But we all know how that turned out.

Philippa Gregory has an incredible talent for weaving an intricate story with well known history, bringing the dull facts of a history book to colorful life. With this book she tackles the mystery of Amy Dudley's death. Did Sir Robert kill his wife? Did Elizabeth have her murdered? Did she die of natural causes? Or maybe William Cecil, Elizabeth's highest advisor planned her demise?

I could never decide from this book if Robert truly loved Elizabeth or if he just wanted the power of being King - maybe a little bit of both. He came from a power-hungry family, which got his father killed for treason and very nearly got himself executed as well. You'd think he'd learn.

Anyway, as with the previous Tudor books of Ms. Gregory's, this was an excellent read. I'm looking forward to the next one - The Constant Princess - which goes back to Henry VIII's first wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Queen Mary's mother.

Slow Burn - Julie Garwood (Contemporary Romantic Suspense)

I typically prefer historicals - romantic or not - with a few paranormals thrown in for good measure, but I'm terribly loyal and I've read all of Julie Garwood's other books. This book had a pretty good mystery, though I had a feeling about the villain from very early on. Some of the writing seemed forced to me, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless.

To Wed a Scandalous Spy - Celeste Bradley (Regency Romance)

I read and enjoyed all of CB's Liar's Club books - a series of spies in Regency England. The Royal Four are the four men who rule them - spies in their own right. This was the first book of the Royal Four and a highly entertaining read. Fast paced, funny, a little mysterious, and a delightful romance. What's not to like??

A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray (Young Adult - Gothic)

This is one of those books that I kept seeing, picking up, reading the back, putting it down, on and on ad infinitum, but I hadn't heard anything about it so I was leery of buying it. Dance Chica wrote about the book at her blog, Insomnomania, and when I mentioned I'd been thinking about reading it she sent it to me. How sweet is that?

I finished it this afternoon, so I suppose technically it's not a March read. But I'm putting it in here anyway.

The book is written in first person present which threw me at first. I have to say that's probably my least favorite style. However, the story itself was so good that I quickly forgot about my dislike of her writing. This is a critique I found that said it so much better than I could:

Despite having argued long and hard to be allowed to go to London, the Gemma Doyle that arrives on the doorstep of the city's fashionable Spence Academy is not the discontented teenager from Bombay who had her hopes set on the big city. Mourning the tragic death of her mother, she is unable tell anyone the truth. Saddened by her father's retreat into laudanum and her oh-so-proper brother's insistence that she be the prim Victorian miss that she is not, Gemma despairs of fitting in. Her role as an outsider seems assured when beautiful Pippa and sophisticated Felicity lump her with her roommate, Ann, a scholarship student. To top it off, one of the mysterious men present when her mother died seems to be following her. Her bleak prospects change when she is led to the diary of Mary Dowd, a former Spence girl who penetrated the secrets of The Realm that now link Gemma, her mother, Felicity, Ann, and Pippa with a life and death struggle. This classic boarding school drama with Gothic tones deals with real issues—a woman's place, the question of self-determinism, the impact on young lives of a lack of parental love and attention—within an excitingly supernatural framework. Plot, setting, and characterization are all strong. Questions of life, love, maturity, responsibility, and the harrowing nature of choices are seamlessly worked into a compulsively readable story, open ended enough to hint at the possibility of a sequel.

And yes. There is a sequel. Rebel Angels takes up shortly after Great leaves off. And yes. I will be reading it at some point.

There you have it. The five books I read in March.

Todd's brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Rachel, are flying in from California tomorrow so my appearances will be sparse. But what stories and pictures I'll have when I come back!


Mused by Jenster :: 4:02 PM :: 11 People musing:

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