*Meh*

I want to write a blog post, but I have no idea what to write about. Does anyone have anything they’d like to know about me? Do please put a question in the comments section.

What else?

These are the things I have done so far today:

  • got up a bit late (8.30)
  • drank half a peach/banana/raspberry smoothie
  • went to the Post Office to post a zentangle commission (earning a bit of money for this one!)
  • went for my 1.25 km walk (only one pause to catch my breath today, but still very slow!)
  • bought bread
  • drank the rest of the smoothie
  • faffed about on the computer
  • sorted out my knickers & socks
  • saw the podiatrist, as where she’d cut my ingrowing toenails was looking a little infected.
  • had lunch (chicken rillette sandwich, bowl of tomato/carrot/sweet potato/lentil soup, slice of pannetone)
  • watched (and snoozed through) an episode of “Bargain Hunt”, that I didn’t really want to watch.

Oh! The excitement!! I can hardly bear it!

On the agenda for this afternoon & this evening (possibly):

  • finish a rather tedious book. I’d give up on it, but it’s a NetGalley book, and I am obliged to write a review. I’m not impressed by it, unfortunately.
  • have a snooze, as I didn’t sleep very well last night. Although having a snooze probably won’t help me to sleep well tonight!
  • start another zentangle (does anyone want one? Let me know! I prefer doing one with a purpose)
  • half heartedly tidy up my desk.
  • have dinner (the rest of the lasagne from Saturday)
  • watch some TV.

I’m feeling a bit “meh” at the moment…not really motivated to do anything much…partly the weather (it is alternating between grey and drizzly, grey and raining, and grey and pissing down.) and partly the effects of treatment. I have my appointment about radiotherapy on Wednesday – I’ll find out when the radiotherapy starts, and how many sessions I’ll be having.

Still, lots to look forward to…

  • going to Annecy at the end of June with the Cycle Club – & meeting up with Chomeuse & her Chou!
  • Mum & my sister coming, at the beginning of September
  • going away (probably Italy) at the end of September
  • going to Convention – with the excitement of electing a new Bishop)  – in Waterloo, in October
  • possibly going to Amsterdam in October half term
  • going to Christmas Markets in Strasbourg at the beginning of December
  • starting back at work in October – things will be different as M. Khodri, the director of the language school, is retiring. The new directors may want to employ me (or not!) on a different basis. We shall see.

Advertisements

Get out your amethysts…

Apparently the 33rd Wedding Anniversary is the Amethyst Anniversary. And that’s what Mr FD and I are (not really) celebrating today.  “Not really” celebrating, because we’re not doing anything special, rather than because there’s nothing to celebrate!! We’ll have a special meal out when I’m tasting again, and that can then celebrate many things!

Here we are, on 25th May, 1985, coming out of Sefton Church – me with a hairstyle reminiscent of my Nana’s, and Deirdre Barlow spectacles! Our French friends find Mr FD’s outfit very amusing ( très Anglais, they say) and the top hats in particular elicit comments. My dress was made by my dear MiL, as was my bridesmaid’s dress, and her own suit! She was a talented dress maker.

Thank you Mr FD, for all your support during these 33 years. There have been many wonderful times, and a few rough patches too, but we’ve weathered them, and come out stronger. You are my rock, my dear T.

Once again, I link to a poem that I feel is “right”, and describes Mr FD’s love for me. I won’t post the whole poem here, for copyright reasons, but I urge you to click-and-read. “Atlas” by U.A.Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it…

…which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

A post about chemo

This is a chemo & side effects post. Don’t feel you have to read it.

I’ve had a fairly grim couple of days – more mentally than physically. It’s interesting how this new chemo regime has had different effects to the first three “cures”. With the FEC100 I had a “lost weekend” when I was really tired, then slowly, over the following week I got my energy back, until I was almost back to normal, unless I tried to do too much. I lost my appetite for about 5 days, but then it was fine. Yes, I lost my hair, and had a touch of nausea, but it was (almost) a breeze.

This has been a harder regime… about a week after the first dose I started losing my taste buds, and salivary glands. Now there’s still the vestiges of sweetness that I can taste, but not much else.

The neuropathy – pains in the extremes (hands, feet, lower legs) + joints, caused by damage to these peripheral nerves – comes on about 4 days after, and lasts for another 3/4 days. This hasn’t been as bad this time round, as the doctor reduced the dose a little. It’s been bearable.

Interestingly, I haven’t had the same fatigue at the beginning – witness my Royal Wedding excursion! – but again, 4/5 days later it has hit me like a ton of bricks. Today I could barely walk the 500 metres to the podiatrist’s surgery, and I’m needing a 2 hour nap after lunch. And, although this does get slightly better as time goes on, I don’t think I could contemplate the 3 km walk I did back in March in my third week.

But both the first time, and this time, I have had a couple of days of depression, again at the same time – 4/5 days after the chemo. Because this has happened twice at the same time, I am assuming this is another side effect… I’ve tried very hard not to utter the words “it’s not fair”, but last night I had a good old moan, and weep to God. Especially about the taste bud issue. I reminded him of “my” verse and demanded that he kept his promise…and, do you know, I think he did.

I felt he was telling me to think about why this was happening – so I read some articles on the internet, that explained the reasons, and that gave some suggestions. I also felt he was telling me to think about how I coud learn to live with it better, and so gradually, I was able to calm down and make plans.

The biggest thing is that I haven’t been eating properly – which has probably affected my mood too. My mouth is now more sensitive than before, so all suggestions like “eat mints”, “spicy food” etc are no good, because they hurt! Textured food is still okay, but I’m going off too crunchy, again for the slight pain factor. So because of this, I’ve been eating badly. For example, yesterday I had a slice of bread and butter and a little madeleine cake for breakfast, lots of watered down fruit juice, and egg sandwich for lunch (2 slices of bread, one egg), and a small bowl of pasta, mince & aubergine for dinner.  Not exactly full of goodness!!

So, putting my plan into action today, I started the day with a banana/raspberry/strawberry smoothie, made with some ice cream. That helped get some vitamins into me, and, because of the sweetness, I actually enjoyed it.

The next part of the plan was a veggie soup for lunch – carrot, tomato, sweet potato & lentil. The best laid plans… I was too tired to make it today, & as Mr FD had cleared 8 litter trays, and had a meeting for the Cycle Club, I didn’t want to ask him to make it. Tomorrow, then!! But I did have a goats cheese & lettuce sandwich, with some cherry tomatoes, plus a piece of pannetonne. Not sure what dinner will be, but I’ll make sure it has veggies. If I drink, and drink, and drink, the salivary glands are a little better and food is (slightly) less cardboard-and-cotton-woolley!

So I’m going down the smoothies for breakfast, and veggie soup for lunch, plus a good meal in the evening. Plus DRINK, drink, drink!! That way I will get the good things I need to help me face up to this bastard cancer.

I don’t want to ever use that phrase “it’s not fair” – getting breast cancer is just life. The statistics are stacked high:, with 1 in 8 women contracting it. I don’t know what the repeat statistics are (& those are the ones that frighten me) but I ask those of you of a praying bent to remember K. She had a mastectomy in December 2016, and chemo & radiotherapy. She has just learned that the cancer has returned to both sets of lymph glands, and it has been diagnosed as Stage 4, that is, it has spread further, and is incurable. The shock for K has been enormous. A year after getting the all clear from her initial breast cancer she is facing this. Now, somehow, that IS “not fair”.  Please pray for her. I don’t know what to pray, but something…

A right Royal event.

I was very busy last Wednesday writing scheduled posts, as I thought I’d be wiped out until at least Tuesday of next week. However, this dose of chemo has affected me differently – I guess the leg pains will start in earnest tomorrow, which I think was the pattern last time, but at least I have a better idea about how to manage them this time round. On Friday, I stayed in bed until after lunch, and then got up; I watched TV most of the afternoon, but I did go for a tiny stroll. Then yesterday, (I’m writing this on Sunday, but scheduling it to publish tomorrow, Monday) I felt great – I’d slept well on Friday night, so I felt up to accepting the invitation of Friend Richard to go to watch the Royal Wedding at his place, together with Friend Cathy. Mr FD turned down the invitation, preferring to stay at home to watch the Giro d’Italia, the rugby, and the FA Cup Final.

I’m not a Monarchist, but nor am I a Republican. I think the role of the Monarchy needs to change – and I think, very slowly, it is – but I think that generally the Royal family probably bring in revenue to the country. I don’t really know much about it though. Whether the reported £ 30 million  spent on security for this wedding should have come from the tax payers’ pockets I don’t know – but presumably, for other public events (concerts, FA Cup Finals etc) the public purse pays, so why not for this.

ANYWAY – I probably wouldn’t have bothered to watch it had I been at home by myself, but with a couple of friends, it seemed like a fun idea. So, in the morning, I made an elderflower cordial and lemon cake, just like Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake.

 

I bet you can’t guess which one I made!

Apparently it was delicious – I couldn’t taste it – and so I will be making it again when my taste returns. If you should be interested, I used this very easy recipe.

Friend Cathy picked me up, and we drove over to Richard’s where he had the Union flag flying outside! We had both chosen to wear patriotic clothes – I had my red trousers, white shirt and blue tunic top, and Cathy had a white skirt, red T-shirt and blue cardigan! While I was tying my blue turban/scarf round my head, I suddenly remembered I had a Union flag scarf, which I had bought for Summer School last year. I’d thought about either wearing it, or pinning it up in the classroom. Finally, I did neither, as we decided it seemed a bit “National Frontish” , but it seemed like the perfect thing to wear today!

Richard has an enormous TV, so it was a bit like being in the cinema! While he plied us with delicious nibbles – vegetarian Nems (spring rolls) and little vegetarian “sliders” (I believe they’re called) – we watched the guests arriving, and critiqued the outfits.

   

As the service started we had a cheese-and-tomato toasted sandwich. I enjoyed the service very much – Richard, a confirmed atheist, disappeared into the kitchen until Michael Curry had finished his address.

I think Bishop Michael is an inspiring speaker, and I could listen to him preaching quite happily – however I felt this address was maybe just a few minutes too long. It was, however, a great message, and I think it fitted the mood of the service very well. It was a bit tricky guaging the reaction of Her Maj, however – she did rather look as though she was sucking on a lemon some of the time!

As the married couple drove around Windsor, waving at the plebs, we enjoyed the cake, with strawberries (I can still just taste strawberries!) and then, as I was starting to flag a little, Cathy drove me home.

Here we are in our patriotically coloured outfits.

Mr FD was firmly ensconsed in front of his sporting events, so I sat and snoozed, and stroked cats. With pizza for dinner, and some recorded comedy programmes that rounded off a good day.  I was in bed by 10.30 and went to sleep about 11.30. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of cat action, with Bib giving me quite a nasty nip, so I was awake from about 4.00 am through to 6.30, listening to Kermode & Mayo’s film review – very soothing voices, which sent me to sleep.

And now, I’m up again, and trying to keep moving (although with the fatigue it does take it out of me ) because all advice seems to be that the more one moves around, the better it is for the neuropathy, as the movement gets the blood pumping to the very ends of the nervous system.

On this day…

Actually, it’s more “in this month”, as since I organised my photos I’ve lost the dates of some of them

 

2014: This was given to me by the daughter of one of my students. He was a potter, and one day it was school holidays, and his daughter was staying with him. He couldn’t leave her alone, so brought her along to his English lesson. We played some games and Papa showed off his English! To say “Thank You”, she made this cat, painted with a happy face on one side, and a sad/angry face on the other:

 

 

*****

2015: Here I am on the top of Puy de Dome. In fact, I know the date of this one as it was taken the day after our 30th Wedding Anniversary celebtations, on 26th May. We spent the night at Hotel Radio, in Chalmalieres, just above Clermont Ferrand. Here’s my blog post about it, on my other blog.

*****

2016: I think this was the card I made for Friend Jane’s “Christian birthday” – she and I made our commitment to God round about the same time, and we send each other cards every year (although sometimes I’m later than I should be!)

*****

2017: another card, this time made for a student of mine who was getting married. And here’s a bonus picture of me when I was younger, so much younger…

2018: Well, today, I’m languishing in bed (yes, another scheduled post!) so no photo for today! Sorry about that.

This year we are going to postpone Wedding Anniversary celebrations…Friend Alison gave us a voucher for a meal at a local hotel for Christmas, and we had decided to go out for dinner. However, with me losing my sense of taste there really isn’t much point gpoing to a restaurant, so we’ll put that meal off until I can taste again!

 

A couple of cards…

It was my mum’s 89th birthday last Saturday – go, mum! She is still active and occupied, going to church, stewarding at church, going to book club meetings, driving, gardening, going out with her “Keep Fat Club” friends, walking…Recently she drove to the Lake District (a journey of about 130 km) with her friend, to stay at the Timeshare appartment that she has there. I hope I’ll be as active as she is at her age (but with my arthritic knees I somehow doubt it!!)

My birthday present to her was a champagne afternoon tea, for her and her friend, at the Hotel/Appartment complex where the Timeshare is.

 

It was while they were there that my sister took Mum horse riding, and rock climbing, so I thought I should celebrate this activity on her card:

(as always, click on the images to biggify them, if required)

Sadly, it didn’t arrive in time for her birthday – I’d forgotten that the week before there were two bank holidays in France, which would have slowed down the postal system. Never mind; when I called her, she saidthat cards had started arriving on the Wednesday before, and she was celebrating with the Keep Fat Club on the following Tuesday, so it was good to spread out the birthday celebrations!

Maybe I should explain the “Keep Fat Club” – this started some 30 years ago, with a group of teachers who worked at the same school, including mum. They decided that they should try to Keep fit, so started to meet up one evening a week to do some exercise together and to eat some healthy snacks. Husbands mocked, and called it “Keep Fat”. Gradually, the exercising became less important, and the snacks became more elaborate and less healthy, and finally it turned into more of a supper club! Now, they are all retired, several are widowed, and it is a support group/ group of friends who go out regularly, or go to each other’s houses….and it is known communally as “Keep Fat Club”!

The other card was for a less happy occasion. We heard that our friend had recently lost his mother, so I made this condolence card:

Both of these cards used papers from my stash – all bought at Noz, I suspect, at various times. The second card uses images from a pack of sentiments & pictures for condolence cards, called “Cardbook” (also bought at Noz), which gives instructions and resources to create 6 cards. I tend not to follow the instructions, but use them to inspire my own designs. The little metal leaf was from a bagfull of charms that Monique across the road gave me last year. The embellishments are also all bought from Noz at various times.

A soggy weekend in central France

It started off promisingly warm! Mr FD worked really hard on Friday in the courtyard and on the balcony, clearing pots, and sorting out the rubbish. That was A Good Thing, as I’m terrible at throwing stuff out. That old, cracked pot? It was a present from “some child at school” (but I can’t remember which child) That broken strawberry planter? It has a “rustic charm” (really?!) Those plastic pots? I could use them to plant seeds. (But I never plant seeds!!) Mr FD just took them down to the tip.

In the afternoon, I got involved in the planting  – though even that small amount of effort wore me out. I’m not sure if the fatigue is a side effect of the treatment, or due to the fact I’ve done even less exercise than usual (which is quite difficult!) and am therefore very unfit! Most probably, it’s a mixture of the two. Anyway, the balcony is now a much more pleasant place to sit. We’ve put a trellis at one end to stop Jasper eating/ scratching up/ using as a litter tray the tomato and pepper plants, and it all looks quite lovely. I’d take a photo to show you, but it’s piddling down and it wouldn’t look very attractive.

This is a picture of the balcony from a couple of years back, looking a mess!

and here it is looking slightly less-of-a-mess (again, from a different year). Note the pigeon spikes to discourage Cats from digging!!

and the courtyard.

Saturday dawned sunnily too. Which boded well for the barbecue in Clermont. Our church has been hosting Juniors Across Europe, This is an annual event for 10-13 year olds from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, giving these young people an opportunity to meet anglophone children their own age from other churches and other countries. It is described as “A youth weekend which includes adventures, activities, thought provoking discussions, food, and so much more.” The aim being to develop relationships between churches and to be encouraged in faith and learn more about Christ… with lots of fun thrown in.

Here’s a map showing all the Episcopal churches/missions in Europe

The barbecue was to be the last hurrah of the event, and I’d persuaded Friend Cathy and Mr FD to come. I’d promised to make a dessert and a salad, so I baked my sponge, and prepped the salad on Saturday morning. The sponge was Delia’s all-in-one sponge cake, which always works for me, although this time it sank in the middle as I opened the oven at a critical moment. No matter, layered with jam, the dip filled with chopped strawberries, and served with squirty cream, no-one seemed to mind. During the day, the sky clouded over, and Mr FD started declaring doom and disaster (well, quite a lot of rain). Finally, he cried off, but Cathy & I went.

The location was the retreat centre where the kids had been staying – there was a huge covered verandah with magnificent views over Clermont Ferrand, which were very dramatic this evening, with iron-grey clouds, and a mist of rain that was swirling around, but not actually falling on us. We were able to cook and eat in relative comfort, under the shelter of the verandah, but it grew colder and colder. Finally, at about 8.30, the rain reached us, the temperature plummeted and we decided to go home. But it had been good to support the event. Although the food tasted of nothing, I did still quite enjoy it, as I chose things with texture to compliment each other.

On Sunday we awoke to rain. Steady, very wet rain. I’d committed myself to exhibiting at the little art show taking place at the Artisanat. I think the plan was to be outside under gazebos, but there was no way I could do that. Most of the artists who were working were painting actual views, so they were outside, but as I was just zentangling I installed myself at the back of the small craft shop and drew.

These photos were taken on Saturday by the secretary of the Artisanat:

Here is one of the paintings

This is the view that someone else painted of the ancient Chateau gateway…

..and here he is, painting it. The girl in the sundress and hat would have been extremely chilly, had she actually existed!

I was there all day, but didn’t do very much – a bit of chatting, giving some advice to a lady who was visiting London in a few weeks, but that’s all. However, I was accosted by a woman who obviously knew me, and whose face I recognised, but I had NO IDEA who she was. She talked, and talked and I understood the gist, finally working out that she was from the Eglise Reformée that I used to attend. At the end she asked to be remembered to a mutual friend – but I can’t do that, as I still have no idea of her name!! I sold one picture and a couple of cards, for the grand total of 13€ – I won’t be going on a world tour with that, but that wasn’t the point really. Rather like going to the barbecue, I was there to show my face, and to support the event. Which I did.

After that I had to go out to feed the Poor Cats – oh, it was wet!! The poor things were shivering and trying to hide in different, vaguely dry places. I put as many plates of food under shelter as I could, but I knew that within minutes some of the bowls would be swimming in water. At least I was able to give them some good solid nourishment, as I’d brought home a bagfull of over cooked beef burgers and some leftover chicken legs from the barbecue. Mixed with three tins of cat food, lots of cat-biscuits, and some slightly-out-of-date creme fraiche I felt they had a good meal. But it was so sad to see these poor, wet kitties, looking so miserable. I hope they all went into the shed afterwards and curled up in the duvets and blankets that are in there. We don’t really know how popular the shed is with the Poor Cats – we know Red and Bonnie used to curl up together in there, snuffling together, before they died, as we’d open up the shed and find therm there. We also know Binkie goes in, as does Cloud,  as when we open up, there’s a streak of panicked pussycat fleeing the scene, but other than those, we’re not sure. Still, cats aren’t stupid: they should be able to find a dry-ish nook or cranny to hide in – and we’ve provided the shed, a kennel and three little cat houses filled with straw. If they choose not to use them, there’s not much we can do.

I got home to Mr FD’s pulled pork, sweet potato chips and asparagus. It was, I’m sure, very nice…

Today is another rainy day. Quite chilly too. I will continue with a zentangle commission and also (maybe) make a “Just Because” card for a friend. I need to go to the pharmacy to stock up on the drugs for this round of chemo, but after Thursday it will be five down, one to go.

On 7th June it will be my last chemo! HUZZAH!!! And (hopefully) about three or four weeks after that, I may start getting some tastebuds coming back…and hair…and eyelashes!!! Believe me, you don’t realise how important eyelashes are until you don’t have them!

That may be so – but I couldn’t taste it!

(Not that I’d be licking a cat to find out…even in revenge for Bib, who comes inthe middle of the night, and licks my bald head. I can promise you, a cat’s tongue on a sensitive scalp is Not At All Comfortable!)