All posts by kirizar

About kirizar

I am all things to all people. As long as people are looking for a mom with diverse interests and a homebound tendency to look through the window of life and wish (or imagine) something just a little bit different. I am like the Tardis on Doctor Who. I am much bigger on the inside.

When Stoves Go Bad…

It was a rough night…
The stove decided to give up the ghost
…and it tried to take me with it.

Fahrenheit 451 – Bad Hair Edition

Where there’s smoke…there is a good chance of singed hair.

I’ll never know exactly how hot the stove got, because the hand-held oven thermometer only went as high as 600 degrees and now it no longer says anything.

The stove killed it.

Stopped clocks are right twice a day, but this thing will only be correct while on asphalt in Tempe, Arizona on record-breaking days in July and August.

At the time, opening the door to the burnt chicken and charcoal fries, it felt like the stove had gone nuclear.

Before this happened, I was debating whether to get my bangs trimmed or let my hair grow to save money. The near-death experience with the stove decided it. I had to get the melted crap cut out of my hair so I’d stop smelling like a forest fire.

Admire my new cut. I call it The Flaming Pixie:

Just in time for freezing cold winter weather.

So, I’ve been hunting for the perfect replacement stove…only to discover white is no longer popular. I would even have to pay more on certain models just to get a white stove to match my existing appliances. On one model I liked, it would cost $700 more just to get it in white!!!

I tell the saleswoman, “My father would haunt me from the grave if I paid extra to get it in white!”

“Let me show you the model in slate! Maybe you’ll like slate?” She says with nary a hint of desperation at my weird requirements.

I loathe stainless steel with a passion most people reserve for politicians or maybe boy bands. I only hate kale more.

It took me a minute to get this one…let’s see how long it takes you to spot “Charcoal Kitty.”

Not to mention I have some weird preferences when it comes to a stove. With an autistic child I’m not looking for what the average consumer needs.

“No, I don’t care if it is self-cleaning, but it needs to have a lock as well as buttons that can’t be yanked off. Oh, and no rubber seal on the inside of the stove. My kid likes to chew on rubber tubing.”

And last of all, I need a new fan/vent hood installed to prevent future incidents of smoke inhalation and open-window hysteria from happening. This has me debating the merits of getting a new hood installed versus putting an over-the-stove microwave in place–one my son can’t as easily sneak into the basement and set for 99 minutes with nothing inside it.

But I will pay whatever it costs so I don’t have to hear my son’s heartbreaking cries when I have to leave the windows open to air out the house again…in winter.

As crises go, this one is bearable. No one got badly injured and, while I had to drug the kid insensate to recover from the trauma Sunday, he bounced back the next morning like nothing had happened.

What I dread most is making an adult decision. I went, I saw, and I failed to find the perfect stove on my first two tries. I have yet to decide between a hood or a more-complicated microwave installation. So I’m doing what I do best–avoiding the issues. (I could be a politician–but I’ll never be kale. That’s some consolation.)

Doleful and discouraged, I’m looking at other people’s stove disasters online. I ‘borrowed’ a few pictures for this post.

(Memes are my solace in a lonely world.)

I’ve been laughing like a loon at things I found at BoredPanda. Enjoy.

In Honor…

I want to tell you about some incredible people I met at the Veteran’s Administration office building in Wyoming, MI a few weeks ago. Two nice gentleman had set up a table and were hoping to reach out to the community to invite members to join the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard through Operation Honor Guard U.S.

To be honest, I wasn’t drawn to the table by a strong desire to re-connect with my military past. No. There were other motivating factors…

You had me at ‘CAKE,’ Ron!

Ron Hayward and Ernie Fiebig may be the last of a generation of selfless individuals who go beyond the call of duty and serve their fellow men and women. In fact, they go all the way to the grave to salute the fallen and honor their memory.

Ron talked to me for a while as I enjoyed a slice of cake. He was proud when describing the dedication of the volunteers and he stood a little straighter when admitting how many ceremonies he had participated in.

“I attended over three-hundred services myself in the past year.” Ron said.

And then he mentioned that they were looking for a few good men and women to join their crew of about sixty veteran Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, as well as Coast Guard servicemen and women. (Where have I heard that before? It sounds so familiar…)

“All you need is to be an honorably discharged veteran and able to attend a minimum of two funerals or ceremonies a year.”

There was hope in his voice. Many of the members were getting up in years. It was getting harder and harder to meet the demand; they sometimes had to turn families down. I suspect he’s given this speech to hundreds of people before. I wonder how many had listened, heard the pain of not being able to serve everyone.

I hated to break his heart, but I explained how my son requires my full attention and I can’t be sure I could even commit to the minimum expected. I really hated that I couldn’t say “Yes.” So I made a promise to get the word out.

“I’ll tell everyone about it on Facebook.” I assured him.

He handed me a flyer, letting me know the history and requirements of joining. Here is a summary of what it said:

Let’s hope autobots can’t read these digitally scanned phone numbers!

According to the tri-fold pamphlet: “The Honor Guard has two units serving northern and southern Kent County by supplying members for over 500 funeral services per year as well as for participation in ceremonies on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and other events honoring veterans.”

Requirements:

“The Kent County Veterans Honor Guard invites all honorably discharged veterans who share our commitment to join this organization. It is not necessary to have served in a combat situation.”

“Prospective members are required to attend two funerals as observers and two monthly meetings before being voted in and provided with uniforms. There is a $50 copay for the uniforms.”

“The Honor Guard meetings are held at 7 pm on the third Tuesday of the month at selected American Legion and VFW Posts in Kent County. “

If you are interested, contact them at: kentcountyhonorguard@gmail.com

They can also be found on Facebook: Kent County Veterans Honor Guard

During elections, you often hear politicians and campaigns loudly proclaiming that they support veterans. Perhaps they do.

But if you really want to witness selfless support of veterans? Search out your local veterans organization. And, if you are a veteran and can stand up for the fallen, become one of the volunteers who march in memory.

So, the next time a parade goes by with service men and women, carrying the flag, holding the ceremonial rifle, please, give your attention when those sentinels go by to honor those who didn’t come home.

According to the above Facebook page, you can have the chance today, the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard will hold a parade in Grand Rapids in honor of Veterans Day:

If you think it’s cold out…just imagine trying to march in formation holding a metal flag pole in this kind of weather!

A final thought:

It is very hard to give of one’s time and energy. It is much easier to salute a flag or drop a donation in a kettle than it is to slog out in horrible weather, to face bereaved families, or, worse, a funeral where a service member had no living relatives or family left to remember them. If you cannot give of yourself by joining this community, find your own way to serve.

I’m sharing a link to a friend’s post on the topic of Veterans Day. She and I met at basic training in South Carolina thirty-four years ago. We’ve discussed how awkward we feel accepting anyone’s thanks for our service–seeing as we both served during peace time. But, as I like to think of it, I am accepting thanks on behalf of my fellow servicemen and women. Even if I don’t deserve gratitude, they certainly do.

I’ll share her post which includes ways in which to really support the troops if you want: Mythmaking and the Veteran.

MAMMARIES…

Some things speak for themselves….this isn’t one of those things.

This thing kind of screeches.

Consider yourself warned.

Val-Kiri Belts Out Her Anthem to Breast Cancer in the Key of Something Sharp…and Flat.

And thus, Val-Kiri’s ride through radiation is complete.

It hasn’t been fun.

But it sure has been memorable.

*–*

To Amber McDaniel, my tireless music therapist, and Spectrum Hospital Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, my heartfelt thanks. I couldn’t have survived these weeks without your support.

To Lily, who helped to record me as a last-minute request. You rock. You roll. You take lots of pictures while doing it.

And to the ladies and gents of the Blue Bird Cancer Retreat. This song’s for you! It goes out to anyone who’s had a hard time finding their inner warrior. I find the viking helmet really helps!

Every day I had radiation, I took a picture in front of one of the framed artworks at Lemmen-Holton. I saved the white-picket fence for last. Lucky number 16!
                                   Mammaries
By Kiri Salazar

Waiting, not a word from the lab tech.
Diagnosing my mammaries
Takes more patience than Job.
In this thin robe, the air conditioning freezes my…nose.
And fear begins to grow.

Mammaries, hiding secrets that doom me.
I can dream of the old days
They were perkier then.
They remember a time we knew what a penis was for
Let the mammaries, live again.

Every doctor seems to offer
A fatalistic warning
X-rays reveal, a mass undetermined
A biopsy confirms it.

CANCER!
But wait, there’s some good news.
There’s just one lump to remove.
And a node or two.

When the doc comes
He says the mammary cells do show
An invasion has begun

ER positive—
HER-2 negative—
is that good or bad news?
Onco DX genetic testing
Means there’s no need for chemo!

Touch them!
It’s so easy to free them.
All the staff’s seen my mammaries under radiation.
If you touch them, you’ll understand what happiness means.
Now I know, I’ll live again.
For marianallen who inspired the search for Viking Cats!

Screwed, Blued, and…

TATTOOED!

It’s official. I now have my three tiny blue dots in place and next Monday I start my radiation treatments.* I’d like to say I was totally bad ass when they inked me, but I suspect yelling ‘Ow’ each time they poked me diminishes my street cred.

The weirdest thing about having breast cancer is how absolutely every appointment involves flashing my boobs at someone. Or several someones. Usually in a very chilly room. (Things get kind of pointy, is all I’m saying.)

Radiation, for those of you who don’t know, apparently requires the patient to lie flat, with your feet rubber-banded together, while being hugged by a personally-crafted, bean bag cosy, with your arms resting over your head, as if you were posing in the nude while draped on a fainting couch a la Rose and Jack in that famous scene from Titanic.**

“The last thing I need, is another picture of me looking like a porcelain doll.” The line nobody remembers because they are too busy waiting for the robe to drop.

I’m lucky, I’m not too terribly body conscious, so it isn’t such a big thing to flash the sisters at strangers. But it was pretty weird to do it Monday while contorted into the oddest angle and strapped with VR goggles and a snorkle and noseplugs. I kid you not. I stole the following image from a site describing Breath Holding as a method to avoid damage to the heart from radiation.

This doesn’t feel awkward at all…until your boobs are uncovered like a cold plate of sunny-side up eggs.

The technicians do their best to maintain a patient’s dignity, but when you’ve got to take pictures of boobs to arrange for the perfect angle to radiate while avoiding the heart, lungs, and chest wall, well, things are exposed. Floppy things. Things that look better by candle light…after everyone has had sufficient alcohol to limit visual acuity. I suspect offering to do shots with the staff beforehand would be frowned upon.

I’ll need 16 sessions, or about three-and-a-half weeks, for about 30 seconds of radiation exposure at a time. That’s it. After that, I’m done. And life, presumably, goes back to normal. (With the exception of taking Tamoxifen for five to ten years, but I digress.) I did try to ask a serious question or two about the levels of radiation I would be receiving, but got caught up trying to understand the unit of measure the technician kept using.

“We’ll be dosing you in a measure called ‘CentiGrays.'” Said the young man who was trying to simplify things so I’d understand, but failed to grasp how far he’d have to dumb it down.

“Centigrade? Like temperature?” I ask.

“No, CentiGrays…” He draws out the pronunciation but I don’t really get it until I go home and look it up. “It’s different from measuring natural sources of radiation like gamma rays or neutron radiation. It measures man-made radiation like that produced in a nuclear factory.”

“So, how many Chernobyls is that?” I attempt a joke, but he is very earnest about his job.

He explains some about the exposure for that day’s radiation in scanning me for the coming treatments as being equivalent to about 10 minutes of sunshine. The technician was very comfortable talking about all of these details while adjusting the equipment and getting things set up for the breathing test. He did pick up on my joke though and turned it into a teachable moment:

“Actually, a lot of what we know about treating cancer comes from the results of studies of people who survived nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima. We couldn’t test in ordinary research because, well, obviously you can’t deliberately radiate people to find out how they will be affected. But we could study the survivors to find out how exposure and absorption of radiation affected their outcomes.”

I thought about what he said as the machine, weirdly stained year’s earlier by an insulation material, churned. It produces a loud sound to accompany the whirling ring of metal that spins with dizzying concentric force. “This must be what it sounds like as you are sucked into a jet turbine!” I thought.

I lay as still as possible, eyes blinded by the blacked-out vr goggles; the table sucked me into the spinning vortex and my body was exposed to who-knows how many centigrays of radiation so that we could prepare me for the doses I would need to irradiate any missed cancer cells lurking in my breast. I took a weird comfort from the knowledge gained at the expense of people who survived nuclear fallout. Maybe someday, someone will benefit from the treatment of our current practices and eventually, cancer will be a thing that used to happen to people. Back in the olden days.

After the scans and the fun-fun tattooing, I asked the tech a final question. During our chats he’d confessed that he used to teach football while he was training to become a radiation specialist.

“Which is harder to do? Working with cancer patients or teaching boys football?”

After a moments thought, he said, “Working with kids, definitely. They found out I was working with breast cancer patients so they’d ask questions like, ‘Do you see boobs all day?’ They’d ask about that a lot!” His voice is equal parts amused and appalled.

As I was leaving, he handed me a package. “This is for you.”

I peak inside and am slightly flummoxed. There is a waffle weave robe looking like something from Star Wars’ central casting wardrobe.

“So, I’m becoming a Jedi Knight? Does this make me your Padawan?” I eye him, wondering if he will get the reference.

“Just call me Obi-Wan.” He says with a straight face. But then he grins and opens the door to let me out.

I laugh as I leave. This more than anything else I’ve heard today relaxes me. I know I am in good hands. The force is strong with this one.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*I DO NOT NEED CHEMO! Woo Hooo! Whoop it up folks. No chemo. No nausea. No weight loss… (Hmm, well, you can’t have everything.) It’s only a shame that I cut all my hair off before finding out I didn’t need chemo. Funny that. Still, I’m rocking the pixie cut happy to avoid the chemo dragon.

**No, not the “I’m the king of the world” scene…no, not the sweaty-steamy-hand-flattens-against-the-car-window scene…the naked on a couch “I believe you are blushing, Mr. Big Artiste” scene. Believe it or not, I had to watch the YouTube link twice to find a memorable line. Apparently they didn’t waste time creating dialogue when they knew nobody would be paying attention to what was being said.

Think Pink

Right after finishing GISH, Kiri took a tumble in the hallway. She wrenched her ankle, her knee, and her hip. She cracked her head against the wall. She went camping and got vertigo. Obviously she’s under a curse. (Actually, this might explain more than a few things wrong with her…) Join her internal debate team in figuring out the cure!

Continue reading Think Pink

Can GISH Cure Cancer?

It is kind of hard to write something funny about getting a diagnosis of breast cancer, but it helps if you were signed up for G.I.S.H. (W.E.S) before even a hint of trouble arose on the horizon. GISH(WES) stands for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known.) It may not cure cancer…but it sure cured getting the diagnosis.

If this week had a sound track, it would be Cosmo Sheldrake’s “Come Along”:

If you ever wondered what it would look like if I went off the deep end, this one’s for you.

My week of GISH started with…

A Bull Named Fu Manchu

Item #14 – No Bull About It. Ride that bull like the zen master you are.

I developed a funny walk after doing this…

My next genius decision took me, my autistic son, and a cousin (who made the mistake of saying, “Sure, why not?” before reading the fine print) on a very long road trip to make music at Niagara Falls. Don’t worry; she got her revenge. She had to practice the recorder in the car all the way there. I may never get those high notes out of the crevices of my brain where they are lodged.

Trip to Niagara Falls, sort of

GISH Item #30. Perform the Kansas song, Wayward Son, at a natural world wonder.

This was the final take. Almost perfect despite the lack of tuning on the plastic instrument.

I can’t take too much credit for the performance at the falls. All the kudos go to Anna. But, we did manage to drive almost all the way there and back again in a 24-hour period. If I could do anything different, it would be to stay at the falls and give us all a better morning. But, there was more GISHING to be done!

But, as we crossed the border home, it seemed a waste not to knock out Item #166 “Love has no borders, play a game at an international border crossing.”

This required playing a game like charades which would not require crossing of the boundary nor passing any item back and forth. We were pretty punch drunk by midnight, so take our giddiness with a grain of perseverance.

Too Perfect Not To:

Most of the GISH Items were beyond my skill set–requiring a team or the ability to wing walk a bi-plane while painting the landscape below–but others seemed like I had been training for them my whole life.

Item #91–A Cairn Terrier Named Rocky. (Hint: he won’t come when you call him.)

I’ve been collecting rocks for years. My garage is littered with them. Rock hoarding for the win!

I’m fairly sure my family is starting to become concerned about my over enthusiasm for this scavenger hunt. But they gamely play along.

I beg on Facebook and an obliging family who barely know me offer up their basement and their children (but only in an advisory capacity) to accomplish the next hunt-worthy construction. Lego Shoes!

Gish Item #3 Sounded Sooo Easy

I have so much more respect now for the ‘play’ of little boys and girls (and their parents too!) I started by sorting my blocks into piles of color to best determine what color the shoes should be made of. (It is entirely possible a person with some sort of OCD disorder shouldn’t be handed LEGOS!) Despite the excellent instruction provided by Noah and Jonathon, it took me much longer than I thought to build a pair of shoes! Honestly, this project was time and labor intensive. I will never call what people do with LEGOs silly again.

After hours of building the stupid things, it turns out my foot is too big. My mother-in-law’s feet are tiny…but her balance is a bit iffy. She nearly fell trying to walk the required three steps. So, I sent a hail mary request on Facebook. And Mary answered. My mother, Mary, to be precise…

Mary Mother Full of Grace, bless these feet so they may walk…and let no tripping hazard sunder the bones in twain!

Bouncing back and forth in activities required a lot of energy. Fortunately, I always had a handy supply of sweet relief.

Truly-Epic-Sweet-Tooth Undergarments

As I was making this dessert-worthy entry, I did wonder if I was sending my child the right message. But, since he ignores all my good advice anyway, I decided to tackle a little foundational feng shui. Candy Man Style!

Item #61: Funderwear!

This particular item seemed a no-brainer. What could be more fun? I worried that I might have picked too obvious a selection. So, I doubled-down on my craziness.

I made both a Life Saver brassiere as well as Twinkie, Ho-Ho, and Hostess Cupcake Spanx.

My breasts were minty fresh and I could honestly say, “Eat my shorts” and be perfectly appropriate.

I did not eat the treats at my right knee. I just didn’t realize there was a blank spot until after the pictures were taken.

I highly doubt anyone else made an outfit quite like mine. Mostly because nobody would be that crazy! I needed help getting into both items. I wore a shirt and shorts underneath because I wasn’t sure there wouldn’t be a wardrobe malfunction at some point. In fact, I had to hold the pants up for the entire photoshoot. The combined weight of that many baked goods was threatening my structural integrity. And my blood sugar levels.

GISH was surprisingly touching at times.

My mother-in-law chipped in where she could before heading home to California. When an item came up that called for someone over the age of eighty, she was my go-to-gal.

Item #49 – Diorama Digressions

I’m putting the long version of the video interview here. (Most entries had to be under 14 seconds, but this one had a whopping 30 second allowance.)

After Laura related the momentous facts surrounding her favorite memory/day, I had several days to create a diorama of the events. But I dithered trying to come up with the perfect idea for how to make her item unique and personal to her and not just reflect anybody’s wedding day. So, I went to my favorite antiques store to hunt for inspiration. And I found it:

I worked very hard on this. The wedding dress was sewn to 2:00 a.m. and I used an antique apron to get an old-fashioned feel.

I made a calculation error in timing. The little Hugo clothespin doll was achieved simply by painting the wooden peg with acrylic paint. Which dries in 20 minutes…if your house isn’t soggy with humidity. Guess what!??

The damned peg just wouldn’t dry. It’s Tuesday night, and the mom-in-law is scheduled to catch a flight out really early on Wednesday. So we end up fudging the reveal by handing Laura her still-tacky husband to juggle while she fumbles with her box. (Insert your own joke here. No, wait. I think I’ve just made a very crude and inadvertent reference to my mother-in-law’s box. Nevermind.)

Consummate performer that she is, Laura tackled the late-night recording of her reaction to her diorama with panache and grace. It was truly a labor of love…and it’s the piece I will remember when the years pass and other things fall away.

Item #127 – Moose Call

I think this was the easiest one, overall, but the pace of filling my many obligations was starting to show.

All we had to do for Item #127 was go to a Tim Horton’s, dressed as a moose. Moose costumes aren’t that simple to come by, but headgear was. Since I was dragging a moose-sized child around with me, I just slapped a pair of antlers on him and called it good.

A kid will do just about anything for a donut…but you can’t make a teenager happy about it. #ResentfulDoughboy

You may be sensing a theme by now…

I generally tried to pick things that appealed to me, or that I could do in a reasonable amount of time with some accuracy. I can make a loaf of bread crisp…but can I make it do anything else?

As it turns out, I’m not a particularly exact entomologist.

Item #79 – Bug Nuts

When invited to “make icky bugs great” I grabbed my glutinous flour and ran with the instructions to “Create a realistic-looking, oversized detailed sculpture of an underappreciated arachnid or insect out of bread…”

Done and slightly over done!

Dung Beetles have long been a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, I suspect my masterpieces look more like ticks. Eww. (Dung ball is actually a beach ball covered in crunchy peanut butter and shredded wheat.)

Of note: if you decide to bake black-colored bread, put the dye in the bread machine. If you try to hand-knead it, like the far dung beetle pictured above, you get mottled results.

I tended to opt for a lot of kitchen based challenges. Thinking that I had a home court advantage. But some of my efforts fell flat.

One in particular was a most spectacular failure!

Item #23 – You have something on your…everything.

This video wouldn’t be possible without the help of a really good friend who stopped by to film. If you listen, you can hear her laughing in the background as well as making salient commentary. The Best British Bake-Off this ain’t! But, I dare any of those contestants to do better. The basic instruction: bake a cake without using your hands or any measuring tools. The only implement allowed? Your face!

Face Cake Fails: Parts I and II

If you are in a hurry, this is the high speed version.

I probably lost points on execution, but in intent? I nailed it. I was laughing so hard throughout this enterprise, I’m surprised I didn’t snort more flour than I did.

There are two videos because the longer one (below) filled up the SD card on the camera. The first video is high-speed reformatted (above.) The one that follows should include commentary. Really, you need to hear the snarky commentary.

If you have six minutes to kill and really want to see me make a cake of myself….

The cake was inedible. But the instructions were very clear. It had to be eaten by you and a loving family member. Thank goodness Alexei is so very fond of Easy Bake Oven cakes. When they are cooked better than this:

I baked a second sample using the exact same techniques. Admire, if you can.

Carrot cake is my favorite dessert…so this segue shouldn’t hurt too very much.

Item #97 – So very, very orange…

Food was a definite theme for me.

The only instruction given for this was the following: See Item #97 (pictured below) only said “8554J46H+FH. You, the Carrot God, have summoned them.” I couldn’t figure out what the code stood for, so I decided to get some grease paint and hair spray and do my best.

I was ridiculously proud of the results:

Beware the Great Orange One’s Return!

It wasn’t until I went to upload my most excellent Carrot God interpretation that I figured out what the code: 855 J 46H + FH stood for. Apparently it’s a way to write global coordinates and it is somewhere in the Newport Beach Civic Center in California. (California friends and relatives, you lucked out that I didn’t figure this out in time to corral your assistance, otherwise I might have asked you to paint yourself orange and dash about with fistfuls of carrots.)

From carrots we move to espionage with one simple leap of deduction.

SO, you want to be on a CIA watch list?

Item #50 – Write a letter to the director of the CIA. How could this possibly go wrong?

All I had to do was crypto-translate a sculpture that the finest minds at spy headquarters hadn’t managed to translate. No biggie.

and post the letter to a social media account.

…tagging the CIA so they couldn’t miss it.

If I’m audited next year, this is why. #StillGladIMailedThatLetter

What Exactly is the Point of GISH again?

While all this is going on, I have been fielding calls from various doctors’ offices and doing my best to stay on top of feeding and watering the child. During one of the ABA sessions, the tech eyes me for a while doing various goofy tasks and finally asks me why I’m doing this. I briefly explain that the registration fees for participating are used to remove landmines from farms in Laos.

Her response, “What does dressing like a carrot have to with charity? Couldn’t the money you spent on this stuff go directly there?” #She’sNotWrong

I don’t think I gave her a very satisfactory answer. Up to that point, I was doing all the fun items. The crazy ones. The slightly quirky and downright ridiculous ones. But the main purpose of GISH is to raise funds for charitable goals. And I haven’t mentioned those once!

So, I took the list and checked it twice, to find out to whom I could be nice.

So, Saturday, on the last day of GISH, and with the help of my son, I:

Donate Socks:

Hulk Glad!

Made up gift baskets and visit the elderly…

Dressed to the nines, tens, and elevenses.

We also try to do a good deed in our neighborhood while also encouraging my child toward philanthropy–not an easy concept to get across for anyone, none less a teenager with autism.

Time was starting to fly, and I decide to teach my son the importance of sharing would do for a good, concrete lesson.

I’m not sure whether my son saw it as charity so much as highway robbery as I gave away his popsicles.

Good-Bye Gish

My last GISHY act was to buy a tree to be planted in Kenya. I wish I could say Kenya was my intended destination, but no, it was the default option when you went to the OneTreePlanted website. From what I could see, many people made the default donation. Kenya should be nice and leafy real soon.

Doing charitable acts to participate in a scavenger hunt might seem like a waste of time and money to most people. It also feels somewhat wrong to do nice things for credit. But, this week helped to make up for getting some pretty bad news. I had fun. No one was hurt…much. And maybe, just maybe, a little good was accomplished.

And, at the end of the day…and a very long week…that’s not a bad thing.

Kudos Go To…

To all the friends who helped me along the way, thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’d stop to express my gratitude personally, but it is almost 2:00 a.m. and I’m falling over exhausted. I may just sleep the next week away.

Boob Job

I’m finally getting around to taking care of a small matter of imbalance. It seems I’ve been a bit lopsided lately. Leaning a bit to the left, if you will. Turns out there’s a reason for that! With the news the doctor gave me, I’ve decided to go ahead and have some work done.

I don’t have all the details yet, but I wanted to keep you abreast of the situation; I’m having a little corrective surgery. Before you panic and start picturing me as a centerfold model in the next AARP circular. It’s nothing that drastic. I’ve just reached an age where the fun-fun mammograms I’ve been having routinely for decades have finally paid off. They found something worth looking for.

To be honest, I’ve been waiting for something to happen for a while. Bad news comes in threes, and after the tree killed our roof two summers ago, and last year we experienced the dubious pleasures of salmonella and the criminal justice system for minor children, I had the feeling the Bad Sh*t Happens Universe wasn’t finished with me. The trilogy was yet to be completed.*

I go through a few more medicinal hoops, ring a few more lab test bells, and the doctors schedule me for surgery in a few weeks. Now all I have to do is tell everyone I know the good news.

In a manner that suits my personality…

I want to have a last hurrah before picking my son back up from camp. I send out a hurried request for a Girls’ Night Out. Friends join me at Noto’s Restaurant on the beach. It’s insanely busy and loud, but has a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. We chat about everything–which includes someone introducing me to a term I’ve never heard of before. The friend mimes pulling an imaginary peanut M&M from her generous cleavage, saying, “Hashtag: Boob Snack,” and pretends to nosh on it. This seems like a great segue for my announcement.

I order a desert appropriate to the occasion. While handing out our choices, the helpful waiter, Chris, makes the mistake of asking, “So, what’s the big reveal?”

Bodacious Babe Drops the Bombe on the Beach!

In the spotlight, holding up my mounds of ice cream with cherries, I blurt. “I have breast cancer!”

In the appalled silence that follows, the waiter escapes, and I hurry to explain. “It’s really, really small! It’s so small that finding it was very lucky.”

It’s like a micro-tumor. Only about 5-6 millimeters. And today I learned that it is moderately slow growing and is responsive to hormone therapy. I got a grade of Stage 1-A. Or as that doctor put it,”If you have to get breast cancer, this was the best kind to get.”**

Hugs are given and I feel warm and fuzzy, especially after the waiter comes back to tell us he comped me my ice cream! A friend says we should go out more often…and I agree, adding, “We can take turns being the person with cancer to snag a free desserts! Hashtag: Boob Snack!”

We leave the place cackling like mad women and tromp to the nearby beach to take selfies in the sunset. It was the best end to a day a girl can have, surrounded by loving, laughing ladies.

That’s the news, everybody. I go under the knife on August 20th. And while I appreciate thoughts and prayers, I’m even more appreciative of thoughtfulness and practical help. Which leads me to my second bit of news.

Before any of this happened, I signed up to take part in something called GISH, an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known) which starts JULY 27th. I’ve never done it before and, from what I understand, I will be performing acts of charity while dressed entirely in cheese, or some other wild suggestion, created by a team of very disturbed/imaginative people.

This brings me to you…my adoring friends, my extended family, and wacky Chicago fan club! (Please note the use of the Oxford Comma per your request, K, J, and MJ!) I hope I may call on you all in my hour of need. If I require someone to go out, dressed like sasquatch in a tutu, to serenade strangers on a street corner while playing a stringed bass (the fish, not the instrument) I am totally playing the ‘C’ card and asking for help. It’s either that, or you get to mow my lawn for me. You decide. But, I’m totally milking this cancer thing for all it’s worth. Consider yourself warned.

Tomorrow I get the kid back from camp. So, if I miss your kind words, know that I will look forward to reading them once life gets back to normal. For a given value of normal equal to infinity plus or minus the deviation of the norm over pie.***

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*The third movie is always the one where the hero wins in the end, right? So, it’s all good.

** Unless one could be diagnosed with unnaturally young and perky boobs after 50? It could happen. Right?

***This is not a typo. MMmmmm…PIE!

Potty Training on the Spectrum

Recently someone asked me how I managed to potty train my autistic child. I said something like, “I went through hell and back, that’s how.” Without blinking, they asked directions for the road map to hell. I finally found the notes I used back in 2010 on a back-up drive (whew), and in reviewing what I went through, I decided this might make a better post than my review of Men In Black: International. Though, with fewer references to poop. For all the autism parents out there, this one’s for you.

Continue reading Potty Training on the Spectrum