Sunday, 30 December 2012

Beards, boxes and bombshells



It’s been a memorable Christmas. 

It was the first Christmas in thirty-odd years that my three sisters and I have spent together. Amazingly there were no fights or fallings out, even though large quantities of alcohol were taken (mostly by me).  A good time was had by all (as far as I can remember).  My cockles were thoroughly warmed.

But let us remember the true spirit of the season.  Soppy family stuff has its place but, let’s face it, what really counts is the presents.  Here are some of the highlights:

The other-half received a fetching beardie hat:

Coming to a park bench near you

The cat received a new box:

What you looking at?


But perhaps I was the luckiest of all.  Look what I got, gift-wrapped of course:

My cup runneth over (but at least I can scrub it clean)
The scourers were a present from the other-half.  He will be sleeping in the shed for the foreseeable future.

Next stop New Year's Eve.  Have a good one everybody.  After that I will be back on the herceptin and taking up Clean Living.  Stand by for some very boring posts.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas preparations

I had a sudden rush of blood to the head and washed the grimy sofa covers in time for Christmas.  Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) has just let me know what he thinks of my hard work.


I suppose it would've been worse if he had four legs
  
Anyone want a cat?

Other than sweating over a hot washing machine I've been out and about doing Christmassy things including, of course, drinking mulled wine (I see it as my Christmas duty).

We've had builders and a structural engineer round today working out how our kitchen can be transformed from a hovel to a place of grandeur.  I've never had building work done before so I'm feeling very grown up.  Work should start at the end of January, so I'll have something new to whinge about then.

In the meantime here's something that made me laugh,but then I'm a simple soul.





Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Spot the difference

My hair is growing slowly, slowly, everso-bloody-slowly and so far it's remaining unruly.  Sigh.  I told the other-half that I thought that I looked like a certain sporting celebrity.  Much to my dismay (but not surpise) he agreed.  So here you are:

Bradley Wiggins (picture from here)
Me, smirking in a sinister fashion


























But the other-half isn't really in a position to laugh, as he too looks like someone famous.  He's been grinding his teeth in his sleep and so the dentist has supplied him with a mouth guard to wear at night.  Here he is sporting his new look.


Picture from here





And here is the celebrity he looks like, the Were Rabbit from Wallace and Grommit.

Peas in a pod.





I've had a top-up of herceptin today and all went well.  I've got a heart test on Monday (to make sure the herceptin isn't doing any damage) and then I've no more hospital appointments until after Christmas.  So, I've started feeling festive.  Today we put up our Christmas Twig (we're channeling Scrooge and not doing a tree this year).  Cyril is showing an interest.  Which is a relief as the poor little blighter has been off colour for a few days and had a trip to the vets this morning for antibiotics and something unmentionable with a thermometer.  Hopefully he's on the mend now.  I'm having to starve him for 24 hours too.  This could be a long night.

Feed me now or the twig gets it.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Woozy woes



Oooh I want to get off (picture from here)

Rhubarb.  I’m not 100% today, so I missed the last knitting lesson in the course.  I keep feeling slightly woozy woo and unsteady.  I’ll check this out with the medical bods (seeing surgeon and also getting a herceptin top-up soon), but it seems to be a fairly common side-effect of Tamoxifen.  So hopefully, there’s nothing to worry about other than the risk of stumbling about in the street and disgracing myself in public.  Although it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that (and it wasn’t Tamoxifen that was to blame either).

I’d been pretty smug about the lack of side-effects from Tamoxifen which was stupidly cocky seeing as I’ve only been taking it for a couple of months.  Another possible side effect (oh joy of joys for my family and friends) is mood swings.  That might account for my recent knitting-related temper tantrum when I ended up completely unraveling a nearly completed hat due to a couple of dropped stitches and unexplainable holes.  Oh well I suppose at least missing knitting class today meant that I didn’t have to confess my hissy fit to teacher.

In other news Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) is still exploring the neighbourhood.  This means he’ll have to wear a collar and address tag.  I spent some time selecting a collar.  I quite liked the diamante studded ones but I didn’t want his cat pals calling him a sissy, so I selected something a little more butch (red with gold stars and moons).  I hope it passes muster with his gang as they are definitely a bit of a rum sort.  Suffice it to say I’ve had to treat Cyril for fleas.  Oh the shame.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bad behaviour



My sister’s new cat, Tuppence, is slinky and dainty.  In fact she looks like butter wouldn’t melt.  Do not be taken in by appearances.  See what happened when a packet of cat treats was left unattended:

(other brands of cat treat are also available)


I too have been misbehaving.  I spent a very enjoyable weekend in a rather wet Monmouth.  I am now drying out – in both senses.  I’m such a little devil that I’m going out again tomorrow night for nosh and booze, but this time I Will Be Sensible.  Maybe.

However the big news of the week is that, at knitting class, I learned how to do cable stitch.  This involves using a third needle and a great deal of concentration.  There is no end to my wonderfulness.

Friday, 23 November 2012

World turned upside down



I woke up in a much better frame of mind this morning (after yesterday’s grouchiness), which was just as well, as my newly improved mood has been sorely tested today.

Firstly, Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) went missing for five hours.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had to abandon my plans to restrict his outdoors meanderings to the back garden.  He may be a fat, three-legged cat but he can jump high fences with gay abandon.  I know when I am beaten.  I have to accept the fact that he likes to roam and just hope he doesn’t roam too close to the Very Busy Road.  There are other neighbourhood cats that have been around for years (Shouty Cat and Big Bad Brown Cat to name just two) without coming a cropper, so fingers crossed that Cyril comes to no harm.  However when he disappears for hours at a stretch I do start to worry.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time today standing in the back garden shaking a box of cat biscuits (the neighbours probably think I have taken up the maracas).  I never knew parenting was this hard!

Did I mention that, when he does come home, he's a smug little git?
 
Then, money problems – but not in the way you might think.  It’s a very long and dull story but to summarise both I and my employer think I am receiving a state benefit to which I am not entitled.  Over the past month I have phoned the Benefit Bods and written to them but not only do they continue to pay the benefit, they’ve actually increased it.  My employer has decided to deduct the apparent overpayment of benefit from my wages.  When I told the Benefit Bods this today they said it was wrong, that I am entitled to benefit and I should contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.  It’s all making my brain hurt.  I’m not out of pocket, far from it, with both my job and the state paying me I’m better off than when I was well and working!  But this can’t be right, there are all sorts of people being unfairly treated over this particular benefit and yet they insist on giving me dosh I don’t think I’m entitled to.  The world’s gone crazy.  It wasn’t like this when I was a girl.  Have you seen the price of sprouts these days?  I can remember when this was all fields. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Grumpy update



Since my last post I’ve had a scan and seen the oncologist for the results.  As per bloody usual the main breast tumor is unchanged but unfortunately there is a ‘possible slight increase’ in the lung crap.  The possible increase is so slight that the plan is to wait until January then have another scan and, if the lungs are definitely getting worse, try another chemo.  The oncologist doesn’t think surgery would be a good idea at the moment as it would mean me stopping taking tamoxifen for a while and also may interfere with my three-weekly dose of herceptin, so unless the surgeon throws her rattle out of the pram (the onc and surgeon are discussing me next week) it looks like no surgery for the time being.  Things could be a lot, lot worse so I don’t know why I’m so grumpy about it, but I am.  So there.  With brass knobs on.

I also got grumpy with my knitting.  What on earth possessed me to think I wanted to knit a grey tank top?  It’s too difficult, it’s too time-consuming and it’s too grey.  So I’ve stopped and have started knitting a pink and brown hat instead.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Enlightenment

Arty shot taken at Attingham Park yesterday by the other-half


 Hello lowly earthlings.  I have achieved enlightenment.  I am now serene and perfect.  Or, to put it another way, I’ve attended a one day course on meditation.  I’d like to be able to calm myself down when I’m having a major tiswas (without resorting to a sherry bottle and a straw) and thought I’d give meditation a go.  Major tiswases have been in short supply recently but the next couple of weeks will see me having a scan and a scary oncology appointment, so I expect to go into panicky mode as those days draw nearer.  Until then, as well as meditation, I’m also sticking my head in the sand and my bum in the air which works well in seeing off the gremlins and has the added bonus of being handy for anyone wanting to park a bike.

While I’m bragging about my worthy activities, I’ve also attended a secondary breast cancer day run by Breast Cancer Care.  It was a mixture of talks on all sorts of things (medical advances, likely treatments, fatigue, relaxation techniques etc).  It was great to have the chance to meet other people in same (leaky) boat as me (although I was, rather shallowly, distracted by how much one of my fellow attendees looked like Joan Plowright).  The info given was mostly useful although the five minutes spent doing ‘laughter therapy’, when you stand in a circle jiggling about and pretending to laugh, were some of the most excruciating in my life.  The absolutely most excruciating moments of my life were, even though you didn’t ask, the time, age 11, when I ran around the school swimming pool changing room in the nudey rudey suffering from concussion (having slipped and banged my head).  Luckily I do not have a photograph to illustrate this event.

Other than meditation and cancer stuff I’ve been out and about visiting friends, relatives and cats.  Sis no 1 has just adopted a cat from Shropshire Cat Rescue.  She (the as yet unnamed cat) is camera shy, so no photos of her yet but Sheldon, the kitten adopted by my sis-in-law, remains a total show-off and here exhibits how he needs neither meditation nor sherry to relax.  That cat could teach me a thing or two.



Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A cry for help

Picture of grumpy cat from here
For the second day running I have put clothes through the washing machine without first checking to see if I'd left any tissues in the pockets.  Why me?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Paradise



I have been to the best place in the universe.  Here it is:

Oooh  heaven is a place on earth


Sis No 1 volunteers at Shropshire Cat Rescue and, on Friday, I went along to help out.  OK so some areas can, at times be a little bit, em, aromatic, but basically it’s bliss.  There are cats of every age and variety.  There are cats waiting for new homes and semi-resident mogs who mooch about the place in a free-range sort of a way (but with shelter, warmth and food):

Soaking up the sunshine
Being snooty
Helping me out in the feeding station

and then there’s the swanky retirement village for the older cats.  And of course there are kittens.  One of which was adopted by my sister-in-law and her family on Friday.  So all in all it was a very exciting day.  

The kitten has been named Sheldon (in honour of the Big Bang Theory) and is beyond cute.  Here’s a picture of him before adoption in a pen with one of his sisters


And here he is happily ensconced in his new home and ruling the roost within a matter of hours:


As well as cats the Rescue Centre also seems to have a mobile powder-puff:

 
(I managed to resist coming home without my pockets full of cats, but only just).  

  Apologies for the gooey post.  Normal grouchy service will be resumed next time.  Apologies also for random changes in text size.  I do not understand why it's happened.  It passeth all understanding.


 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Telling tales

The slipper of shame,  Picture from here



My winter coat was ancient and tatty.  So much so that the other-half was ashamed to be seen with me when I wore it, walking 10 yards ahead of me (rather than the usual five yards).  So, a couple of days ago, I bought a new coat.  When I got it home the other-half took one look at it and declared it a ‘chav coat’.  Thanks a bunch.  So now I feel uncomfortable in my new coat (and the old one has already been taken away by the bin men).  In a pathetic and spiteful attempt at revenge I will reveal the other-half’s most embarrassing secret.  He has just bought a pair of slippers from Marks and Spencer.  Mr Rock and Roll lives dangerously.

While I’m talking about embarrassments, I got told off by the vet last week.  I took Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) for his annual injections and was informed that he is a kilo overweight.  I don’t know what a kilo is in real money but, going by the sternness of the vet, I think it’s quite a bit.  Oh the shame.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Knitty Nora

I know it's a terrible picture, but never mind the quality just admire the length


There’s nothing to this knitting lark.  Look I’ve knitted about three feet of scarf!  I can’t actually stop because I don’t know how to cast off, but hopefully I’ll be initiated into that mystery at knitting school tomorrow.  I can’t wait!  Everyone will be stunned and impressed by my scarf prowess.  I expect to be borne aloft shoulder high through the town by my class mates, cocking a snook at the grumpy lady in the wool shop as we go past. 

Last week, as the class knitted and nattered, it became clear that there is one employee at the wool shop who is universally loathed.  Unfortunately I was served by her when I bought my wool and needles.  As I hadn’t got a clue what to buy I simpered on about how I was a new knitter and needed help.  I expected a warm wooly welcome into the knitting sisterhood, possibly involving fruit cake and being shown a secret room full of adventurous tea cosies.  Instead she scowled, grunted and pointed me towards the scratchiest wool in the shop.    

Anyway soon I will finish the scarf and I will need a new, more challenging project.  Maybe something for the summer.  How about this:

Picture from here


I’ll be the belle of the beach.

It’s not just knitting that I have mastered.  I have an empty ironing basket (for the first time this year).  I even ironed the skirt with the awkward pleats and the linen trousers which require ironing at about 1000 degrees to stand a chance of getting the creases out.  I paid the price for my ironing smugness though.  I left a drawer open while putting things away and Cyril (three-legged monster cat) did some rearranging for me.  




In other news Discombobulated Towers has become a crime scene.  On Friday night a passing twonkhead smashed one of our sitting room windows causing Cyril and I (who were sitting nearby) to go into orbit.  The police came out (it must have been a slow night for CSI Shrewsbury) and added insult to injury by saying that Cyril was ‘chunky’.  Chunky?  How dare they!  We resisted the temptation of saying he’s a great deal slimmer than a lot of policemen (even though it’s true).

So there you have it, knitting, ironing and dastardly deeds.  The excitement never stops.
 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The wrong trousers



Hurrah!  Today I got final approval for my retirement from work due to ill-health.  While it's a bit of a strange feeling being officially on the scrap heap, I’m looking forward to being a lady who lunches.  Tomorrow, by way of celebration, I will be bagging up all my ghastly work trousers (not a uniform as such but they scream office wear) and sending them off, with no regrets, to the charity shop.

During the break I’m having from chemo, as my oomph returns, I’ve been up to all sorts.  I’ve been for lunch with J at the Corbet Arms in Uffington (yummy).  She’s been back to her old sixth form, Atlantic College.  The photos had me green with jealousy as, to put it simply, it seems she went to school at Hogwarts while I went to a 1960s glass and metal monstrosity (Me?  Chip on my shoulder?  Never).  I should add that I didn't envy the open air swim every morning which was part of the curriculum.  Open air swim?  In Wales?  No chance.

I’ve also had lunch and a gossip-fest with C and been to see R and her super-cute newborn little boy.  It's a tough life.

As well as all this socialising I’ve been continuing with the knitting class.  I am making a pig’s ear out of the simplest pattern in the world (a very easy scarf).  Also I haven’t learned how to cast-off yet so I may have to continue with the scarf forever.  But I am enjoying it all in my own weird way. 

At the weekend I went to Benthall Hall (a local National Trust house) and strolled around in the (chilly) sunshine.  

If anyone is thinking of what to get me for Christmas, this would do


The sun was out but it was definitely autumnal (my vest was well and truly tucked in)


The other-half got talking to one of the guides and ended up volunteering to do some gardening there.  This will be much grander than working on the allotment which, incidentally, is still producing runner beans at an alarming rate.  So much so that the other-half was looking up recipes for runner bean soup today.  Talk about plumbing the depths!  I can’t say the idea gets my taste buds excited.   

What has been getting my taste buds excited is a) the ability to taste things again (chemo gave me a sandpaper tongue) and b) being allowed to eat all sorts of things which were off the menu during chemo (due to the lowered immunity).  I never thought I’d be thrilled by being able to eat an apple with its skin on but these days I’m easily pleased, not to mention the joy of potato skins and soft cheese.  Yes, yes, I am going to restart the healthy eating regime soon, don't nag.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Serious stuff with side helping of cuteness

Today is Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  For more info see

http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/secondary-breast-cancer-awareness-day

I've read elsewhere on the internet that around 30% of breast cancer patients go on to develop secondary breast cancer (which is incurable) but only 2% of funding is put in researching this area.  I think these figures are OK but I'm too idle to check so don't yell at me if I've got it a bit wrong.

To end on a flippant but cute note, if you'd like to see what happens when you combine a mummy cat, kittens and a kid's slide click on the below, you won't be disappointed.

http://dailycatgif.tumblr.com/post/33228699668/a-mothers-work-is-never-done


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What I did on my holidays



So I spent a week in Devon in the sunshine, rain and wind.   

Good points of the holiday included:

Staying in an eighteenth century cottage in a secluded wooded valley

We just had the bit on the right (we're not made of money you know)
 A virtually deserted scenic (but very rocky) beach 10 minutes walk away

Pretty but a bugger to walk on

More cats than you could shake a scratching post at







 
And visitng Appledore, a picturesque and eccentric town



Bad points included:

Somehow managing to get a sunburned nose.

Very short hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes and a sunburned nose do not a good look make

And the repercussions of eating an iffy luke-warm pasty bought on a Monday morning which had probably sat around in the shop all weekend.  Luckily for you I have no photos of the intestinal turmoil caused by this culinary delight.

Back home

Cyril, the three-legged monster cat, stayed with sis no 1 during my absence.  He was very sulky about coming back home, obviously preferring my sister to me.  Once home he hid under the bed for eight hours.  Normal service now seems to be resumed.  He even returned to his plane yesterday which had been ignored for several weeks




In between unpacking, sticking loads in the washing machine and draping the radiators with wet clothes (it’s like a sauna at Discombobulated Towers) I’ve been knitting.  Big thanks to S who succeeded where the knitting teacher had failed and managed to show me how to cast on.  I had knitting school this morning and although I am still the class thickie I could at least do the basics and happily clicked away with my needles chatting to the lady next to me, now all I need is a guillotine.

Finally, on a medical note I had another dose of herceptin at the hospital today, start taking tamoxifen tablets tomorrow and will be seeing the surgeon on Friday.  It’s all go go go (which was pretty much the case after the dodgy pasty).

Saturday, 6 October 2012

At the seaside

Clovelly, Devon.  It was a long way down to this harbour and an even longer way back up again.


I’ve been away for a week with my bucket and spade.  Expect a thrilling ‘what I did on my holidays’ post shortly.  But you’re spared for now as I’ve got unpacking to do, washing to load in the machine and, much more importantly, there’s a takeaway meal here that needs my urgent attention.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Domesticated Del

The new me.  (Picture from here)


I’ve been on sick leave from work since I was diagnosed with cancer in January.  First of all I was too bonkers to work.  Then, once chemo started, I was either feeling grotty or had a pathetic resistance to infections.  However, the stay-at-home scenario now looks like becoming permanent as it’s almost a dead cert that I’m going to get early retirement on grounds of ill-health.  My employer’s independent doctor has approved my request, so it’s now just a case of tying up loose ends and, bingo, I’ll be retired.  As far as I’m concerned this is A Very Good Thing as I was made for a life of leisure.  I always claim that a terrible mistake was made at hospital when I was born.  Obviously I was destined for a life of idleness and must have been born to incredibly rich parents, which can only mean that a dreadful baby-swapping incident must have taken place.  You might claim that this theory doesn’t really stack up seeing as I was born at home, not in a hospital, but that's just nit-picking. 

In view of the early retirement news the other-half has been making remarks about how I’ll be able to have his dinner ready on the table when he gets home from work.  I might have fuelled his crazed delusions by starting my learn-to-knit course this week, thereby giving the impression that I’ve come over all home-makery.  However, I have to report that I was the worst in knitting class, even another pupil got cross at my inability to cast-on with confidence.  Luckily I have no pride so I don’t care in the slightest, although I have to confess I have looked at casting-on videos on YouTube.  Stand by for further reports on my knitting adventures.

Talking of YouTube I have, of course, been looking at videos of cats, which is what the internet was invented for surely.  Have you seen this?  It brightened my day no end. (Thanks for pointing it out M.)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Boxing Day



Well obviously it isn’t Boxing Day, but IT just is three months today until Christmas.  No need to thank me for the reminder.

Last weekend, even in the midst of deepest chemo-gloom, I wearily managed to do some on-line shopping (for me).  It really is remarkable how nobly I soldier on.  Today Cyril and I leapt with joy; me at the delivery of my new stompy winter boots and Cyril at the box the boots arrived in.



I also ventured out today for the first time since Thursday (when I went to see Ross Noble, v funny, big tick).  Today I provided the laughs myself by going to the hairdresser and asking for a trim.  I think the hairdresser thought I was a bit loopy seeing as my hair is still incredibly short, but nevertheless he trimmed away at the wispy bits round my ears and the bits that make me look like I’ve got a hairy neck (probably because I have got a hairy neck) and so I’m freshly shorn and ready to go out and about, as long as I remember to scrub my neck and ears first, I’m so high maintenance these days.

Not much else to report apart from being rained on relentlessly like the rest of Britain.  A month’s worth of rain in a day.  And, Australian and American chums, that’s a month’s worth of British rain.  As my mate T said, that’s a lot of big dollops.
 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

In disgrace again

This is me last year sulking while walking in the Scottish Highands.  Picture that same dejected look only now with less hair.
Firstly a rant.  Why do the blogging gods hate me?  I'm having problems highlighting the links in this post.  Usually I can show them in royal blue all beautifully underlined, this time they are grey with no underlining, ie practically invisible.  And I can't work out why.  Argh.  Anyway I know most people (rightly) ignore links but just in case you're interested the links in this post are 'lovingly crafted garden' in the next to last paragraph and then in the final paragraph 'Lauire, who helped me massively' and the two 'here's.  Now back to whinging of a non-technical nature.


I’m one of those people who can never, ever do anything wrong without being found out.  For example I have only once travelled in a first class train carriage while carrying a second class ticket (this was 100 years ago when I was young, wild and rebellious).  I was travelling for one stop, a journey of about 5 minutes.  I got caught out and was given a very public ticking off by the train guard.  Oh the shame.

Yesterday I went to my GPs for my pre-chemo blood test.  The first thing the nurse asked me was what the hospital had said about my hand (I hurt my hand last week and the GP advised an x-ray).  I had to confess that I hadn't been to hospital.  She gave me a very stern look and was about to give me a good old fashioned talking to, but I headed her off at the pass by saying, truthfully, that the swelling had virtually gone and that I was sick and tired of hospitals.  Trust me to get a nurse who had actually read my notes before the appointment.  There is no way I could ever take up a life of crime, I’d be behind bars in next to no time.

So, talking of hospitals, I’m off for herceptin and swamp juice today (heart and blood tests permitting).  I’m all set - my kindle is full of new downloads and my bag is full of snacks.  In fact I’ll probably be rolling to chemo as I can feel waistbands tightening after too much good living.  I had a lovely meal on Friday courtesy of sis no 2, ate out with J and M on Saturday and then had pizza yesterday lunchtime with sis no 1.  Let’s hope the chemo chairs are reinforced.

While I’m stuck at hospital all day the other-half plans to stand vigil over the lovingly crafted new front garden.  One of the neighbourhood cats is using it as his personal litter tray.  Without going into too much detail we believe the culprit is a very large cat going by the em, deposits, he leaves behind.  He doesn’t even attempt to bury it.  I feel he is cocking a snook at us.  The chief suspect is Big Brown Bad Cat who we also believe has been largely responsible for Cyril’s escape attempts.  Yes, the evidence is circumstantial but damning nonetheless.  We have bought heaps of cat-deterrent powders and the like.  There is now such a concoction spread all over the soil that should a passer-by flick a cigarette butt into the garden the whole thing will probably go up in a spectacular ball of flame.  Needless to say none of this has put off the phantom pooher.  Oh well, if the other-half catches Big Brown Bad Cat in the act today I should be coming home to a new and furry Big Brown Hat, which would be very handy as the temperatures are dropping and my relatively newly exposed ears are freezing.

PS.  On more of a cancery note, Oct 13th is Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness day.  The Breast Cancer Care website is trying to promote the day and has made some short films about living with the condition on a day-to-day basis.  One of the participants is Laurie, who helped me massively when I first found out that I had secondary cancer.  If you’re interested her film can be seen by clicking here, (although a word of warning the film doesn't seem to work on iPads).  And more info, on promoting the awareness day can be found here.