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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

I am SO excited. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. My eldest daughter, Victoria, has agreed to a college visit palooza during April school vacation week. It’s not that she wants to go that has my heart a-singing, but the fact that she and I will be spending a whole week together doing so. She has her heart set on art school, so we are visiting Mass Art and SMFA in Boston, RISD in Rhode Island and NYU, Pratt and Parsons in New York. All that time in the car together – just yum, yum, yummy. And maybe she’ll even ask me my opinion on the colleges – even yummier because I always have a point of view and just love to share!

It’s such an interesting journey being a parent. When my girls were young, I sometimes hid in the bathroom to get some peace and quiet from the constant ‘Mom, look at me, look at me’ (Lisa, thinking of you!) and the ‘why’ to everything. And then the middle school and early high school years descend when they really don’t want to spend time with me, their friends being so much more important. Advice can be greeted with eye rolls and comments about me not understanding, as if my 54 years on this earth count for little to nothing. God only knows what they are learning from each other, thinking at 14 they have all the answers.

And then the most beautiful thing happens, they start to come back. At least that has been my experience with my eldest, Victoria. And now I can’t get enough of being with her. Beyond school, she works at Michael’s, takes art lessons, has a boyfriend, drives herself everywhere and is the independent person I wanted her to be. But spending uninterrupted time together is just so precious. I am watching this girl grow into a woman and I am just so proud of her and I feel so blessed that she is in my life. So given all that, we’ll probably fight and bicker the whole time, but you know what, I am determined to enjoy that, too!

And what of my return to work? I have very happily enjoyed my first three weeks. It’s been great to reconnect with everyone and the work I am doing is fun (am I allowed to say that about work?) and gets my mental juices going. I have felt very supported by my company and my new boss is just the most wonderful person I have ever, ever worked for (are you noting this, John for my mid-year review?!?!?!). Going to four days a week after Easter, adding Monday from home.

I am starting to feel quite excited that Spring is inevitable and yesterday I put on my new black with white polka dot wellies and headed out in to the garden to see what might be happening. Not much, to be truthful but sooner or later something has to grow!

Love to all,
Amanda

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Even when they don’t leave the house! Yesterday, Victoria set off for the mall and about an hour later, our carbon monoxide monitors go bananas – danger, danger, evacuate, evacuate they scream at us, frequently, very loudly and at high decibels. Having never had this happen, we were unsure what to do, except put our hands over our ears and rush around the house in a pickle. After getting our act together, we call the fire station which is literally down the road and in they sweep, husky men to the rescue. Just what is it about a fireman in uniform? Is it the color yellow? Doubtful. Is it all that equipment hanging from their belts? Hmm. Is it visions of YMCA running through my head? Hmm again. I warned Sarah she was in for a treat but at only 14, I think she thought I was in the midst of a weird middle aged fantasy! No acknowledgement from me on that score, no indeedy! A little disappointed though as two of them looked like they were just out of high school and the other was older than Steve with a similar middle aged spread.

The carbon dioxide culprit was determined to be Victoria who had sat in the garage with the engine on, garage door closed, texting, playing trivia crack and generally doing whatever teenage girls do before she left on her trip. Perhaps if Steve won’t wear the Captain Kirk outfit, he might be more amenable to a fireman’s suit, tool belt ‘n all?? Or perhaps I’ll pay Victoria to do it again? Sigh.

Love to all,
Amanda

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Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/user/sequinofkindness! I am featured in Episode 6, which you can either watch in it’s entirety or in shorter segments that are labelled as to their content. I discuss how I am spreading the energy of love, peace and connection through my  “You’ve Been Flowered” program.  Enjoy!

If you happen to live in Chelmsford and want to see when it’s on the telly, go to http://www.chelmsfordtv.org/schedule.

And here, also, is a picture of me being attacked by wolves from my visit to the wolf sanctuary this week (they are really just after the food in my hands!).  More to come on the trip.

Love to all,
Amanda

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Hairy Tail, Part I

One of the things I most enjoy about the holiday season is our Christmas Tree. It adds sparkle and light to my holiday spirit. We don’t do much decorating around the house, either in or out, as I am much too lazy and Steve is rather bah-humbug about the whole thing. But my one effort to let the neighbors know we do posses some seasonal joie de vivre is the tree. I used to insist on a real one but eventually my tree hugging nature, combined with the chore of picking pine needles out of the rug for months after, drove me to agree to Steve’s pleading for a plastic version with lights already attached (I hear some of you out there screaming in protest!). He subsequently purchased what must’ve been the cheapest and thus puniest tree he could find in Target in the January sales.

The thing has lasted us two years but this year has received a serious onslaught in the form of ‘dearest’ Peanut, yes, the cat that got stuck behind the wall 20 minutes after arriving home from the shelter. Of course, my purrfect baby, Lulu, would do nothing as heinous as climb the tree, knock off all the ornaments, eat the tree, bend all the branches and knock the ornaments off again, right after we have replaced them. No breakable items have been dispensed from the storage boxes this year, leaving room for all the lollipop stick non-breakables the kids made in elementary school. My poor tree looks ratty tatty and the whole thing exudes an air of unkempt loneliness. I am not mirroring this I hasten to add, but do somehow feel as if my sparkle will have to find it’s mojo from another source. I have included a few images below to provide pictorial representation of the whole sad story!

Hairy Tale, Part II

On Monday I had a shower which I know sounds like just the exciting type of information you’d choose to read about in a blog! But there is a whisper of new news in this as I actually washed my hair! Is there much to wash? No. Did I do it anyway? Yes. I used my most expensive shampoo and then also conditioned the fuzz as you have to pamper the little baby shoots. It felt SO comforting to return to a familiar routine as for the 48 years pre-chemo, I have always washed my hair first in the shower.

Hairy Tale, Part III

And last, but not least in this series of hairy tales/tails, Victoria passed her driving test yesterday. I think I was more anxious for her than she was and now I am even more anxious than she is at the thought of her heading out alone. Luckily her first solo flight will probably be to Michael’s where she works, which is just 5 minutes down the road. As my friend, Eileen, whose daughter passed today, texted “now the worrying begins in earnest”.  And as I replied “ain’t that the truth”!  Another parent/child right of passage bites the dust.

Love to all,
Amanda

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So yesterday I had my TV interview about You’ve Been Flowered. It’s a taped affair and the guy who is the technical editor for the show (whose Grandmother I once helped with her garden!) won’t be back until next week, so not sure at this point when the grand reveal will happen.

I’ll tell you one thing though, I LOVED doing it! It was just so much fun. Afterwards, Barb, the host of the show, the Sequin of a Kindness, told me I was a natural and even if she says that to everyone, I totally bought in to it! I am thinking I’ll change careers and become an official interviewee, swanning around giving my opinion to anyone who cares to ask. I’ll be a professional celebrity, sort of like Kim Kardashian but older, balder and wearing more clothes. I’d not be able to recreate her champagne glass on the butt photo shoot, but I could certainly balance one on my left boob. Heck, if it hadn’t been deflated, I could’ve balanced a whole champagne bottle, accompanied by canapés! That would certainly get me interviews, I think.

I will obviously attach the link to the show once it comes out, but in the meantime, if you know of anyone looking for someone with an opinion who loves to talk on camera, give me a bell!

On a separate note, a big call out to my Boston work buddies who outdid themselves again with a wonderful care package that I received this week. I got a mug that says “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain…”, along with a beautiful hummingbird ornament and a brand new Kindle with a wonderful lime green case. You really are an amazing group of people and it is my privilege to know you. Thank you xxxx.

Love to all,
Amanda

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This post contains an accounting of my chest expansion and subsequent issues, so if you work with me and would rather be thinking about my beautiful green eyes as opposed to the activity below my chin when we next meet, please feel free to pass by this post. If you are brave or curious enough to continue, congratulations and here goes.

At surgery, if there is a chance that one might need radiation, the final silicone implants are not used, but expanders are put in as placeholders. These expanders include a port and balloon type containers that are filled with saline solution. The port allows for the injection of extra fluid, thus expanding the site in preparation for the final implants. The side that is to be radiated requires extra liquid as the skin shrinks during the procedure. Well, my plastic surgeon seems to believe that all good things come in large handfuls. Having already watched 34B/C disappear in the rear view mirror, at my last appointment, he gave me extra, extra on the left side as that is where I am to receive radiation. I felt so large and lopsided that I was worried that if I walked too fast around a corner, I might topple over and need help getting upright again. I could take a second job as a personal flotation device for a few small children needing help in the pool but due to rudder imbalance, we’d just keep flapping around in circles. Well, you get the picture and luckily for all concerned, there are none included with this post.

So I go to my first radiation planning session and everyone who sees my chest goes ‘oh my’. We go through most of the planning when the decision comes down from above that we are going to have to rebook as my girls, particularly Dolly on the left, are now just too damn large and the laser beam keeps getting cut off at the pass, so to speak. I get sent back to plastic surgery, having to see someone different as my regular Dr is, luckily, at a conference. ‘Oh my’ says the nurse when she checks things out. ‘Oh my’ says the plastic surgeon when he gets a look, followed by ‘are you going for va va voom?’. Categorically NOT. I think they look fine on Ms. Parton, but that’s where they can stay. Luckily, what can be created can be rent asunder and he was able to deflate, giving me back some balance and dignity.

I had my follow-up radiation planning session today and all went well. I start on December 1st and will finish in early to middle January. I wish for many reasons, including health care costs, that it could all have been finished this year but it’s the gift that just keeps on giving. The hair continues to sprout but patchy, not uniformly and today I felt the beginning of little hairy prickles on my legs. The eye brows and eye lashes have stayed the course for the most part and hopefully they are now out of danger.

So that’s the excitement to date!

Love to all,
Amanda

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Today felt like paradise to me! The weather was just stunning for November and I actually had enough energy to do my pottering, a snip here, collecting leaves there and taking pictures along the way. My love of the earth and the wonderful space I have created in my garden are such a gift to me. I am full of gratitude today as after all, how can I be anything else but joyous when there is such beauty in every day life. Pictures below.

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For the last 23 years, I have been reading gardening books, gardening magazines, garden catalogues and lurking in garden centers just to find out as much as I can about plants, particularly perennials. My kids will attest to the fact that I also talk to my plants, call them my babies and that once Sarah, then around 5 but now 13, asked me if I loved my garden more than her. Of course, that brought on an attack of the mother guilts but here we all are, 8 years later, happily (for the most part) co-existing! They expect to find me outside most weekends from April to November, tending to one thing or another, happily snipping and pulling and spraying (organic only of course), chatting and cursing (bleeping woodchucks) or just sitting out there waiting for the next hummingbird to visit my bee balm. And you should see the bees on my thyme in July, divine!

This year going through surgery and chemo, I have had plenty of time and desire to rest peacefully in my beautiful garden sanctuary, pondering the meaning of life and other spiritual questions. I have had a vision for many years to create a series of gardens around the world that are all about connection, bringing people of different nations and cultures together through the earth. These are gardens with a difference as they also contain sophisticated electronics, allowing the visitors in the different spaces to communicate/connect with each other.

But I have always wondered how do I get from here to there? I am sure there are many roads but one that came to me this spring was to start small, one plant at a time whilst paying forward, in some way, the amazing amount of love and support I have felt from everyone around me during my latest journey.

I purchased small coneflower plants and new pots, planted them in organic soil and with the help of family and friends, filled these plants with the energy of love, peace and connection. I envision a grid around the world, full of these plants, beaming love to whomever plants them or sees them, but also sending these same attributes to the ground itself and encasing the whole world with this energy.

I have started small, giving them to my wonderful friends, my neighbors or where I travel, to others who appear to love gardening. I have donated plants to the Healing Garden and the school, along with my new breast cancer colleagues at the hospital. At this point, I have given out around 35 plants. I know that some will make it and some won’t (bleeping, bleeping woodchucks), but I feel such gratitude that in some small way, I am bringing beauty to this earth. I have included below images of the tags created by Victoria that I include with the flowers.

On the medical front, all is well and I have my radiation planning session next week and from there will know when I start the treatments. My hair is growing back, but due to descend again by the end of this coming week from my final chemo dose.   After that the growth will remain unabated. It is coming back patchy but definitely white. I look like a little baby bird, hatched naked then growing fluffy, scraggly, downy feathers before the full ‘coat’ comes in. I have a feeling the final feathers will render me Snowy Owl rather than Brown Owl!

Love to all,
Amanda

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In Over My Head

Firstly, an update on how I am doing post my 2nd chemo treatment.  The answer is OK.  I got all the same stuff as before, heartburn, achy bones, very sore mouth but this time had many pills to take before things got too bad and also knew what to expect.  The worse thing is the fatigue as I am tired the whole time.  I have grand plans but then can’t muster the energy to do much at all.  To add to everything, we (I use that term in the royal sense) decided to get another cat.  Peanut, although loving her walks, pays very scant attention to me, preferring everybody else in the house and even some who are just visiting.  In an attempt to convince Steve that our little kitty needed a play mate, I hatched a plan to get a new, new cat that would love me the most and be the companion I had envisioned for myself.  Off Sarah and I went to the MSPCA, promising Steve that we would come home empty handed and indeed we did but only because Louise needed to be spayed.  Two days later, she was MINE and as she’s been very sick with cat flu since we got her, has clung to me like a limpet and I am loving every minute of it.  Maybe I am getting empty nest syndrome in advance of it being empty?  Or perhaps some days with two teenage daughters, wishing it was empty?!?!

And yes, her name is Louise.  She arrived at the shelter with a kitten so the pair were called Thelma and Louise.  I had wanted Peanut to be called LuLu but was outvoted. I think it’s a cute name, loved the singer LuLu when I was a kid and last but not least, my sister-in-law who died of breast cancer was called Louise, so a trifecta.  Nobody else got a vote, period.  I keep joking that she completes me like Mini Me and Dr. Evil or perhaps Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth who lost all his hair when he was unfrozen.  And yes, Mini Me has a cat, too (images below).  Unfortunately, the cat flu has caused LuLu to drool, snort and sneeze all over me, particularly at night, but life is short, eat dessert first I say.  We now have to give her antibiotics which I am going to force Sarah to administer so that she doesn’t think I am a mean Mum (the cat that is, not Sarah).  They say that chemo cooks the brain but I do not feel that I am a living example of that in any way at all.  No Siree.  And to prove the point, have taken some images of the garden whilst out walking Peanut which I have added to my photo page.  My life is just so busy, having chemo, cleaning up cat snot and crawling around in the bushes, being dragged through the yard on the end of a leash.

On a separate note, I am developing a whole new relationship with my head.  Yesterday, I went on a nature walk through the Healing Garden in Harvard.  Us cancer ladies took a short walk with a hiking guru and we did silent walking meditations, along with observing nature and talking a little about our stuff.  The weather was beautiful and the walk was very scenic.  I left my head bare and the sensation on it was just amazing.  It was as if I was sensing the world through my head in a way I had not before.  The breeze, the sun, just the feeling of it all up there on my noggin.   Although my head has been bare for a couple of weeks, it was the first time I was really conscious of how I was experiencing it.  And then I went to buy apples at a farm store and later on, took the cat to the vet.  In both cases, I had on a baseball cap and felt like a cancer patient.  Such a contrast. I know it’s my interpretation, but when I am in a normal situation with a bald head, think that people are pitying me, feeling sorry for me.  Of course, I have no clue what’s going on for others.  They might be thinking that I am brave, beautiful and wise.  Who knows, but still I am keenly aware of  how I feel.

So that’s the skinny for now.  I got a whole new bunch of hats from a woman in my Pink exercise program and without exception, are the most awful looking things on me.  One of them looks like a cap you’d see on the maids in Pride and Prejudice and as I was very into Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, making Steve watch it, too, acted a number of parts to him last night, quite convincingly I must say.  I was giggling my ass off but he was just shaking his head.  Oh well onward and upward.

Love to all,

Amanda

P.S.  If you are a Star Trek fan, you have to check out Carol’s response to my last blog.  How could I have missed that episode?  I am going to look for it on you tube right now!  And to blpkmp (Karen/Brian, is that you?) who got all the answers right, way to go and Scotty, beam them up!  A dreadful picture of me is coming your way!

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For those of you that do not know this about me, I am a huge Star Trek fan.  When I was a young warthog (Lion King reference), I would NOT miss an episode, hanging on to every move made by my first love, Captain James T. Kirk.  Week after week, he’d get beamed down to some planet, connect with a hot chick who’d inevitably meet some grisly end thus enabling him to repeat the whole thing the following week.   My friend Tracy and I used to play the Star Trek game and I would be the girl with whom Captain Kirk fell in love.  I was not nearly so keen on the interim seasons but my adoration has returned through the visage of Chris Pine, although this makes me a cougar as he’s young enough to be my son.  Also, unfortunately,  Steve won’t wear the Star Trek costume I got him for Xmas as after all, us girls just love a man in uniform!!?!?

So when my very kind next door neighbor buzz cut my hair as it was falling out all over the place, getting very annoying and itchy, I was mildly surprised and a little chuffed to find I have slightly pointy ears and could play a Vulcan on my very favorite TV show.  In order to give you the full picture, see me below, taking on the part.  I am sure you’ll believe me a shoo in for the next movie.

To test your Star Trek knowledge, here are a few brain teasers (I know you’ll know these Amanda L!).  The first person to respond correctly gets an exclusive picture of me wearing the crocheted hat I got from the hospital that makes me look like a mutant, old maid daisy, but it does keep the bald noggin warm.

1). Who said live long and prosper?

2).  Where did the crew boldly go?

3).  What does the T stand for in Captain James T. Kirk?

On a separate note, I was stung by a bee yesterday!  It was just a little sting on the back of my neck and has not swelled.  I was nowhere near the compost heap so didn’t have the foresight to be wearing the necessary protection.  I have decided to start a whole line of You Tube videos wearing my beekeeping outfit.  I’ll have to give myself a catchy video name such as Ginger Hills, which is really my stripper name, determined by my first pet plus the name of the road I lived on.  Anything more creative connected to bees would be gratefully accepted.  How about ‘The Latest Buzz’?  Or I could tie it all together by ‘Buzzing With Ginger Hills’!??  Oh dear, me thinks I should stop before I get in too deep.

If any of you need a good movie recommendation, try Galaxy Quest which is a total take off of Star Trek and Aliens with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman. It’s very funny, in my estimation.  Other than that, lurching towards chemo on Thursday.

Love to all,

Amanda

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