Monday, April 21, 2014

It Was Grand

It's funny, isn't it? Somehow a holiday is wonderful no matter where it's celebrated as long as those we love are with us. Yesterday, I learned a valuable lesson: my kids and their spouses can and did throw a fabulous holiday bash. I'm one lucky mom. 

Easter was spent attending a glorious Mass, eating delicious food, but most importantly: spending time together as a family. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Day

Gorgeous Ukrainian Easter egg found here

Have a wonderful day, everyone. See y'all tomorrow. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An E for Effort

Yummy chocolate See's bunny found here. Wonder why the ears really do taste best?

So. Today is Saturday, just one day before Easter Sunday. Which means that Lent is, for all practical purposes, over. When I was a kid, it was the day that my siblings and I would pester my Mom to allow us to dive into the stash of candy that we had saved over the previous forty days since giving up candy was about as creative as a childhood me ever got regarding a Lenten practice.

Mom refused, every time. She insisted that, "If you kids could wait for all of Lent then you can wait until Easter morning. You can put your saved up candy into your Easter basket to add to whatever the Bunny brought you."

She didn't negotiate.

My self-imposed task for this Lent was to try to be a kinder individual, which is hardly a tangible thing. Kindness isn't something that one can collect in a plastic bag in one's bedroom closet for forty days and then dump into your Sunday morning Easter basket. It's hard to measure my success in being a more kind individual ever since Ash Wednesday.

But I have tried, really I have. I think that if someone were paying attention there would be very little observable changes in my behavior, still I have been trying. I think the proof of my limited successes is evident not in what I did or said; but rather what I didn't do. Or say.

(Oh, would you just quit laughing, Terese! I'm trying to be serious here.)

Yeah. I've tried hard to bite my tongue and censor my thoughts, which is a tall order for Ms. Blabbermouth me. And I can't say that I've been completely able to do that, but I made a serious effort. I tried really hard.

And that, I think, is what Lent is really all about.

Now bring on the chocolate bunnies!

Friday, April 18, 2014

This Makes Me Happy

Having one of "those" days? Watch this. I double dog dare ya not to smile.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What a Moon

Did you see the lunar eclipse a few days ago?

I did. In spite of myself. And it was pretty awesome.

The sky was partly cloudy that evening as we waited for the moon to rise, so John and I decided that we probably wouldn't be able to see the eclipse after looking at the bank of grey clouds heading our way. As we prepared for bed, I went around the house lowering the window shades and glanced out to the eastern sky.

Whoa. When did all the clouds roll away? I thought. It was a crystal clear night out there! And the moon was a gorgeous perfect pale white circle. I couldn't possibly go to sleep knowing that the eclipse was going to take place right over our heads. John told me that he was going to be able to sleep through it all perfectly well, thank you very much. So I smooched him good-night and began to think about the best place to view it all.

Turns out that the southeast window up in the Bearded Dog Pub -- AKA as my son's old bedroom repurposed into a billiards/darts/foosball room -- was perfect. I thought that I'd just plunk my hinder down onto one of the pub chairs to simply watch and wait. Just relax and take all this celestial beauty in, I told myself. But then I had the thought that this was a prime opportunity to take pictures...

See? Pointing squarely at the moon. Perfect for eclipse-watching. If it's night time, that is....

What followed was about three trips up and down the stairs collecting the camera, and tripod, and additional lenses, and...whew. I took a breather on one of the pub stools and was glad that I had another whole hour before the thing actually started. While I was sitting on the stool, it occurred to me that the recliner across the room would be far more comfortable, since I anticipated sitting for quite awhile while I watched, so I dragged the thing over to the window after pulling the pub table and chairs out of the way. I sank down into the cushions and decided that this was indeed a perfect chair in which to spend a few hours stargazing.

But......dang. That darned window screen would really mess up the pictures, I thought. I briefly thought about waking up John to ask him to muscle the thing out of there but thought that surely I could figure it out. After what seemed like forever, I had loosened the connectors and had the screen off the window and inside the house. I was tired but quite pleased with myself as I sat back down yet again, certain that I could really relax and quietly watch the sky show.

After a few minutes, I remembered hearing that NASA had put something up online about live streaming the eclipse from one of California's observatories for people that couldn't see it in person. How cool would it be to watch it on my computer AND in person? I marveled.

I staggered back down and up the steps to retrieve my laptop. And then made another trip for the power cord. I brought up the NASA site which was indeed live streaming amazing moon pictures.

Whew. It's hard work relaxing in front of this window! I told Lulu, who was trotting along with me up and down the stairs. I mopped my sweaty face with the hem of my nightgown and decided that it was time to put the camera on the tripod and take a few practice pictures.

I put Canon into his manual mode and started to change the iso and f-stop settings. And because I had completely pooped myself out chasing all over the house for the past hour, had tripped the TIRED = STUPID switch. I couldn't for the life of me remember how to do any of those things, and my pictures definitely were not what I had hoped for.

Good grief. To my eye, the moon was crisp and clear. Didn't translate that way for my camera. 

Sigh. One more trip downstairs for the owner's manual for the camera. Gee. I think those chew marks on this book were made by our very first schnauzer, Bart. Awww. good old Bartie. I miss that doggie boy...

By this time even though I had all the information I could possibly need literally at the tips of my fingers, none of it made sense. I sat back in my recliner totally bathed in perspiration and quivery from head to toe, tossed the manual aside and finally took some time to actually look out the stinkin' window.

Wowsers. It was awesome. By this time the earth's shadow had moved about halfway across the face of the moon. I looked over to my computer and was awed by the fabulous images that were on NASA's website. I watched transfixed as the eclipse progressed. Just as the moon was completely eclipsed and I could just begin to see the orange-red hue begin, suddenly everything disappeared from the sky.

What the heck?! Ah. The bank of clouds had returned, I discovered. At the worst possible moment. I pulled my laptop closer and noticed with dismay that the images had disappeared from their website as well! Drat. "We're having problems with our feed," announced a woman online. A series of still images began to appear instead of live footage. But what stunning images they were:

Image found here

I reasoned that I was fortunate to have seen any of the eclipse at all, and so I waited to see if the clouds would part once again. No such luck. But at least the series of pictures from NASA continued to roll by, each more beautiful than the next.

A light breeze drifted through the screen-less window. I took a deep breath of the cool night air, looked up into the dark starless sky and suddenly felt.........very, very small in comparison to the cosmos.

Were you able to see the blood moon?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love Those Neutrophils

Guys. Good news!

Dr. Young Guy has ordered weekly CBCs with a white blood cell differential after my rituximab infusions, since my last cycle about a year ago caused my neutrophils to drop to dangerously low levels.

My neutros have been skimming along just with enough to be considered normal, until today. Today's numbers came back a happy and healthy 3.71 (normals 1.80-8.30 x10(9)/L).

Woo hoo!

I was out running a few errands when the email notifying me that my lab results were available. Thank goodness for my iPhone. I was able to log into my account at the clinic and see the CBC numbers right there in the grocery store. Yessss. I love technology.

I felt a happy rush of adrenaline; so I zipped through the check out lane, hopped into Goldie, and zoomed around town spending far too much moolah and -- more importantly -- all of my energy reserves; which left me pooped out on the couch for the remainder of the day. Yeah. Pooped out but with a big grin on my face. Let the mouse energy curve begin, people!

See y'all tomorrow.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Goober Meter

Although I love my Easter mug, it's especially hard to drink from it without leaving some of it's contents on ME. 

Yesterday, as I was slipping on my jacket before church, I noticed with some impatience that it was prominently sporting a healthy sized goober on my left lapel.

Oh, brother. Not again.

.:: clarification note: a Goober is defined as the result of depositing food or beverage onto articles of clothing during the effort to ingest said food or beverage product. Not to be confused with a Booger, which I'd rather not discuss at the moment.::.

My jacket is black and the goober -- I have no clue whatsoever what it contained -- was white and grainy. Of course. I grabbed a sheet of paper towel, dampened one corner, and began to scrub away the most obvious spots. Which was all of them because the goober was WHITE on a BLACK jacket, for cryin' out loud. While I was vigorously rubbing away, it occurred to me that this incident actually was a good thing. Not because I had dribbled something on a very visible place on my frequently worn coat, but rather that I noticed that I had goobered, and that I cared that I had goobered.

Hm. I actually CARED. appears that..... my perceived level of irritation with clothing goobers seems to be inversely proportional to my fatigue levels. Well, now. I think I may have found myself yet another way to gauge my fatigue. WHY should I need tools to assess my fatigue? Because when I'm tired, I'm stupid. I need all the help that I can get. I'm thinking that this tired/stupid/goober measurement tool looks like this:

-- Low fatigue = Good grief! Why didn't someone TELL me that I had coffee dribbled down the front of my white t-shirt! Aaaacccckkkk! *frantically runs to closet to grab a new blouse*

-- Moderate fatigue = Oh, hey. There's something on my shirt. Again. *pulls sweatshirt over the top of goobered clothing*

-- Crash fatigue = Shirt? Am I wearing a shirt? Good. Coffee? Is there coffee made? Good. Sluuurrrrppppp. *dribble dribble dribble*

Yeah. I think I'm onto something here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Not Better. Not Worse. Just Different.

Easter Sunday is one week from today. Ahh. I love this holiday. I enjoy it for so many reasons: the first being that it represents the most important event in my faith tradition, but also because it heralds springtime, brings with it chocolate bunnies, and...

.....the Ham-O-Rama.

Yes. The Ham-O-Rama. Mmmmm.

For the last decade or more, at our house, the Easter Sunday Mass is followed by a springtime feast of epic proportions. The cornerstone of this delightful meal is ham -- but not just any ham. Actually, we have two hams both expertly smoked by smoke master John and his awesome Traeger grill, and each of these hams wear a delectable glaze. Each glaze is different, and the lucky folks who taste each of them are required to vote which is tastiest. The winning glaze returns for the next year's Ham-O-Rama to take on a new glaze contender.

It's a delicious contest.

But there's more than ham to this gathering: we fill the house to bursting with family and friends. We laugh and talk and play games, one of which is an Easter egg hunt with varying rules. And after everyone returns home, John and I collapse on the couch and happily re-hash all the fabulous details of the day while we munch on chocolate bunny ears.

This year, things will be different. Not better, not worse -- just different. Because I have very reluctantly come to the conclusion that hosting the Ham-O-Rama this year is just not possible for me. When I scheduled my rituximab infusions, I knew that I would still be in the recovery phase at this point meaning that my energy levels would still be severely compromised. So rather than trying to muscle my way through the holiday propped up by the artificial energy from Provigil and caffeine and then crashing big time afterwards, I've asked my kids to host this year's event.

While this may seem like a very logical decision on the surface, in reality it's a big thing.


I'm trying really hard not to label this holiday hand-off as a concession to autoimmune disease, but I can't say that I've been completely successful in this.

BICJ is throwing a tantrum of epic proportions right now. My Bratty Inner Child Julia is thrashing around and wailing, But I don't wanna give this up! It has to happen at MY house! I get to be in charge of EVERYTHING! I want to order everyone around and make the menu and buy the candy and dictate the order of the day's events! Wah! Wah wah wah!!

Not pretty. I'm glad that at this point the conniption fit is happening largely in my psyche. So far.

I'm so glad that I made this decision many months ago when Easter seemed to be very far off and I could attempt to think logically; to balance my expectations with the probable realities of my physical capabilities, because my assessment of the situation was spot-on. Even though everyone pitches in and helps, the preparation for a houseful of weekend guests and the planning, shopping, and cleaning would have completely erased what scant energy reserves I have.

My kids have very enthusiastically stepped forward to take the Easter celebration reins. We'll all gather at my son's home, attend Easter Sunday Mass, have a wonderful meal, but most importantly -- we'll be together. It will be great. So just can the hysterics, BICJ!.

Easter will not be better, nor worse -- just different. But still wonderful.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Would you just look at that beautiful blue sky. Ahhhhh. 

We've had several beautiful sunny days strung together this week, and more forecast for the week ahead.

I love it. Lulu loves it too.

But my body isn't loving it. Happens every year: it seems that my body needs time to adjust to a change in seasons, especially when that means transitioning from cool and rainy to warm and sunny. My spirits lift as the clouds do, but unfortunately the rest of me goes down the tubes until I acclimate.

Even though I carefully apply skin block, wear my hat and long sleeved shirts, still my Lupus rash flares, my joints become more achey, and I feel an additional drag on my energy. It seems that in years past I need about two continuous weeks of this weather before I notice a decrease in my joint pain and I begin to feel settled into the new season.

C'mon body. Get over yourself so that I can truly enjoy this weather.