Ruth's musings

I have been dealing with breast cancer for a while, and have been sharing my journey with friends, family, and prayer partners. This blog brings all my updates together in one place, and leaves me free to muse on other parts of my life. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Still truckin'!

I missed two days in a row due to a) Sunday is a day of rest, and b) I felt like crap. I have since done my 1.7 miles three days in a row, even yesterday, when I had started the day by coughing so hard that I lost my breakfast. All of it. I scared Janet and Carla, my co-workers, pretty thoroughly. I called the HMO pretty quick. I saw a nurse practitioner, and she confirmed that it was "just a virus." Yeah, right. She prescribed a decongestant to stop the drip that was causing the cough, and it worked! I managed to sleep the night through last night for the first time in days.

We also took Timmy to the big school he will be starting to attend on Tuesday. I am more concerned about him starting seventh grade than I was about Matt starting college. I have even rearranged my work schedule to be home when he gets home. It doesn't help that I can't find the local bus stop on the schedule they passed out. Now to get him to orientation tomorrow, and to get all the stuff on that massive supply list they give us.

Oh, I was weighed at the clinic. No difference from last week, but still six pounds down from the week before that.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

My weekend

We did indeed go to BR Friday evening. I had a kid's scoop of Heath Bar Toffee crunch, which was pretty close to what I remember of butter brickle ice cream. It was good, and it was enough. Timmy heard discussion of BR, and he came along on the walk. He got a bigger scoop of a different ice cream. Paul got nothing at BR, but walked over to Safeway to buy milk.

On Saturday, I slept late, but did get my walk in around noon time. It was very hot, but I did the walk, stopping at the bank to cash in some dollar bills for dollar coins. I am starting a campaign to actually use dollar coins. I found out that the speed check lane at Shoppers Food Warehouse does take them. Little by little, the dollar coins will gain acceptance, but only if we use them! Go forth and use the coins! Save some for a collection, first, though! Or not. Whatever you want.

When I awoke on Saturday, my nose was stuffed up. This was not good news as I was scheduled to be the special music at the church where I work that day. I called the music director to warn her. We met before the service, and found I should do the piece, Fill My Cup, Lord, a half-step lower than we practiced, and to avoid the "big finish" I had planned. I managed to get it out, with lots of lubrication -- water, hot tea, coffee, pectin cough drops.

Sunday evening, we had a dinner group meeting at the home of a friend from the church where we worship. I brought the appetizer -- some carrots, cucumber spears, and small tomatoes from our garden, with homemade dip, some homemade pita pieces with purchased hummus. The rest of the meal was much above that: Rib eye roast, baked potatoes, asparagus and green beans with hollandaise sauce, spinach and strawberry salad, bread pudding with hard sauce for dessert. I had trouble getting out of my chair.

When we got home, I took some generic nighttime cold medicine. It was expired, and that, combined with the two glasses of wine I had for dinner, was not a good thing. I tossed and turned all night and felt really miserable by the time I got to work. I managed to put in my six hours, but came home and crashed. Not only did I not do my long walk, but I was tempted by an ice cream sandwich made with chocolate chip cookies. Mea culpa! I am going on my short walk with Paul right now. He is calling!

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Friday, August 24, 2007

The "before" picture

I walked today, the same route I have been taking, so I get some ice cream tomorrow! Hmmm, maybe tonight on our evening walk. Hmmm. I didn't take the stopwatch this time, but it was about 35 minutes by my watch.

Anyway, I thought I would post a "before" picture. Just taken yesterday, the same time I took my curls picture. Note the vertical stripes. They don't help much.
Now that I have posted this, I have even more incentive to keep it up. Also, today I had another medical appointment, so I stepped on the handy scale. It showed six pounds less than last week's scale, in a different office. I will not claim all six of those pounds, as I was wearing lighter shoes today, but it is definitely the right direction!
Now, to go see if I can talk Paul into that walk to Baskin Robbins!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The latest round of musings

A piquant situation

What the heck is she showing us a bottle of vinegar for? My brothers visited over Christmas and bought us a lot of stuff for the kitchen. They are both very good cooks. One is a professional, in fact. One thing they bought was a bottle of white wine vinegar. I already had the balsamic, thank you very much, and several other kinds, but they got me this one.

Later, I noticed something strange. I took this picture in March.

See the brown stuff floating in the bottom of the bottle? I am thinking that is the "mother" of vinegar. I know you can use it to make new vinegar, if that is what it is, but I also know that I didn't want to mess with that process. We don't drink that much wine, and when we do, we drink it all, so we don't have any left over with which to make vinegar.

Anyway, the other day I thought I would strain it out and make salad dressing, and then pitch the lot. I found this:

I don't know what that white stuff on the top was, and I don't think I wanted to find out. I took another picture so you could see that the white and the brown stuff were actually semi-solid. I used Balsamic to make the dressing

Paul asked permission to throw the lot out. I concurred.

Is that indeed the mother of the vinegar? What is the white stuff? Have I committed some culinary sacrilege?

The latest in my hairy adventure

If you look in the sidebar, you will see a link to "How I Got Here, and some good things about chemotherapy. Well, here is another nice thing about chemo: Chemo curls! If things go as they did last time, I will have curly hair for about two years. It doesn't last, but I have fun with it while I can. It is just curly enough. I can comb a little gel through it, and just go! No dryer, no fuss. I finished chemo in October, and got my first haircut in June.

And here is what I looked like in February. This was taken before my Dad's funeral. The lady with her hand on my shoulder is my Aunt Bette, the family treasure. She is the last of her generation, the widow of my father's brother. All of my Dad's siblings are gone, and she is the last of the spouses left. Her husband died nearly forty years ago, but she has remained an important part of our family ever since. The other lady, sitting next to me, is Mildred. She was Dad's "girlfriend" (his word) for the last few years of his life. They lived in assisted living together, and she visited him after he moved to skilled care in the same facility. Bless her heart, she was older than he was by several years! She uses a walker, but gets around pretty well, and seems pretty sharp, too.

And furthermore . . .
My brother tells me that Jane and Michael Stern have a "Roadfood" article in the Sept. '07 issue of Gourmet that describes my hometown, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, as a "Mexican Food Destination." We have always enjoyed Mexican food, but never thought of Scottsbluff as a "destination" for it! We need to watch for the issue. Also, if you were listening to "The Splendid Table," on August 4th, you heard Jane and Michael go on and on about the cabbage burgers at the Gering Bakery in Nebraska. Gering is across the river from Scottsbluff, and is the seat of Scotts Bluff county. The Gering Bakery has a branch in Scottsbluff, called the Scottsbluff Bakery. ;-) If you want to listen to the piece go to: I love hearing about home in the national media for something besides sugar factory explosions and chemical spills!
In conclusion
Yes, I did walk on Thursday. I took the same route I have been taking, and didn't stop anywhere, and crossed in the middle of the block to avoid marking time at traffic lights. It took me 34:36 to cover what my husband now tells me is 1.7 miles. Just for fun, I timed my steps, my pace, if you will. Counting each time a foot hit the pavement, I was going about 100 steps per minute. For whatever that is worth.
Try not to be too impressed with the improvement in my time. The first time out it was raining. I had an umbrella, and a woman who lives in our neighborhood was walking home from her job at Safeway. I had to share the umbrella, of course, and she is a lot shorter than I am. I think I slowed down a bit.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day three

My husband walked with me this evening. He is a former serious runner, and still runs some, so he has a pretty good idea of the distances involved. It seems the last two days were actually 1.7 miles, and today was 1.8 because we didn't want to walk the dark path in the woods. We did it in 41:12.

I am still trucking!

Okay, so my legs are mad at me. They don't hurt, exactly, but they are grumbling.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day two!

I got a lot of encouragement, thank you! Today, I walked a little more than 1.6 miles in 39:34. I slipped into the bank and Safeway on the way. I stopped my stopwatch while I was in the buildings, but they are on opposite sides of the parking lot, so I did a bit of backtracking. Tomorrow, I will probably stop at the dry cleaners, so it will be a bit longer, again. Anyway, I have a start. Also, I am still walking with Paul in the evenings. That is about .6 miles, and we have been doing that for years. Obviously, not enough. I don't do that when the sidewalks are icy, or when it is raining hard. I need a treadmill.

My uncle said: "Get thee to yon weight-watchers meeting. I have lost 50 lbs since end of April." Good for you , Bill! Somebody else recommended WW, too. I think I will just try eating sensibly, and using portion control. I have been drinking skim milk for years, and haven't put butter on my toast on a regular basis for a long time, either. I try to limit my use of fats and oils in cooking, and when I do use oils, I choose the least saturated. I haven't cooked with shortening for a long time. I just need to take smaller portions and/or avoid seconds. Also, I need to avoid candy and other sweets. I do have a sweet tooth, so today, I bought some non-fat sugar-free hard candy. About six calories a piece. I will have them at work. You know, it is not easy to find candy that is both non-fat and sugar-free, especially chocolate. I did buy some dark chocolate that is about 50 calories per individually wrapped piece. I figure I can have one of those per day. I will try very hard to eat it sloooooooowly.

We don't own a bathroom scale, so I will be weighing myself at the doctor's office when I am there once a month. That should be about right. Also, I do plan to reward myself. After walking five days in a row (or ten days, whichever comes first), I will walk to Baskin Robbins and have a kiddy scoop of butter brickle ice cream. Does anybody remember butter brickle? I got a real yen for it the other day and went looking for it. I couldn't find any by that name, but BR has a couple that come close. Other than that, no ice cream. And we have a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the freezer, too. Dang.

For those of you who have done it, how does WW work when the rest of the family doesn't need to be on a diet? They won't even let me buy low-fat ice cream!

Thank you for your support!


Monday, August 20, 2007

The starting line

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

Just a little note to tell you I have started to do something about my weight, as noted in my last update. Today, I walked 1.6 miles in 38:05. I will try to walk at least that distance every day, and post my progress on my blog. If you wish to check up on my progress, please go to the blog at I will not be sending you daily e-mails, so this is an opt-in activity. I can use all the cheerleaders I can get!

I will also tell you how much weight I have lost. I will not divulge the starting point!

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.



Sunday, August 19, 2007

My baby flies the coop

It finally happened. It happens to the luckiest of us. My baby has gone away to college. Paul took him to Radford University on Thursday. They actually got there on Friday, but started out on Thursday evening. We had our goodbye dinner at Wendy's.

Before leaving the house, Matt turned over the car keys to me, and the house keys to Timmy. Timmy will be starting middle school, and may be getting home before I do. He now has his very own keys. Now, if we could just get him to have his very own haircut! (Don't sweat the small stuff. Hair is small stuff. Right.)

Good thing we got a Blazer with fold-down seats.

And of course, he forgot his toothbrush. He left a lot of stuff behind, figuring we would bring them to him on parent's weekend, or he would pick them up when he came home to see Lake Braddock Theater productions.

Speaking of the theater, the last part of the summer was spent with Cappies International Theater Click on the part that says "watch the Cappies students . . ." to take you to the videos that were shot over the month. Matt is shown in the first two, if you look fast. On the second video, look fast at about 34 seconds in. Ahem.

This is Matt with Katherine, his new girlfriend. Her mom said they had been an item for about a week before I heard anything about it. Ah, well. The mom is always the last to know, right? Even her mom heard about it from the out-of-town kids staying with them.

We are lucky that she is local, actually from Fairfax County. Unlike some of the kids.

Like this one -- also named Matt, but we called him Ziggy, because he was staying with us, and we wanted to avoid confusion. Ziggy is from Quebec, and his high school is part of the Ottawa Cappies program.

While he was with us, he celebrated his birthday:
And, at rehearsal, some of the girls with hair straightening equipment got hold of him. He didn't like the look. Trust me, it was better than his passport photo!
Ziggy was not the only one staying with us:

The young lady is Meghan, and she is from the Philadelphia area. She earned her trip to Cappies International Theater by playing Lady Macbeth. And she says she is type cast as a ditz. Right. She is indeed a theatrical "triple threat." She can sing, dance, and act really well. She was a notch above almost everyone else on the stage.

She is also not afraid to wear silly makeup in public. In one of the productions, she played the part of an Amazon, and this was her makeup. All the Amazons went out in public like that after the performance.
In the same production, Matt played a gay pirate. That will look good on his resume!
He also went out in public with his makeup on. He actually made quite an impression in that role, and also in the role he played in Senioritis.
This young man also made quite an impression.
Watch for Michael. I think we will be seeing more of him in the future. Rumor has it that he is off to study acting at a well-known acting school in a city well-known for the theater scene. He can also sing and act really well. I didn't see him dance, but I wouldn't be surprised. He moves pretty well for a big guy.

Senioritis the movie should be available sometime next year. I will keep you updated.

Matt took this picture backstage at the Kennedy center:

We thought it was pretty cool!

Now, the question -- am I a stage mother? Maybe. I am definitely a proud mother! Matt is down to major in theater at Radford. Stay tuned!

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Ruth Update, August 19, 2007

Dear Friends, Relatives, and Prayer Partners,

I saw the oncologist on Thursday. Just got my lab results today, due to the miracle of the internet. My cancer marker, CA 27-29, is at 32, with the desired range less than 38. I'll take it! The worst news I got that day was from the scale. I am serious, people, you have got to stop bringing me goodies at church! Really! I have got to start exercising all my muscles, especially the "no" muscle! Of course, my knees are beginning to bother me, as my brother's knees bother them. I will put that down to genetics.

Matt is off to college. I am handling it pretty well for now. His classes start tomorrow. I will post some more about him and his Cappies International Theater experience on my blog. I don't want to clutter your inboxes with photos!

Take care!

Get your mammograms. Do your self-exams.



Friday, August 03, 2007

The Red Scarf Project

Some of you know that I knit and crochet. Knitters and Crocheters are known as very giving people (okay, so that may be a gross generalization, but work with me here!). Knitters and crocheters are often working on charity projects for those who may be less fortunate and need a little extra warmth.

There is a charity that has caught my attention called The Red Scarf Project. In short, scarves are made and donated the the Orphan Foundation of America, and they are sent to foster children who have "aged out" of foster care and are now in college. There are other ways to support the Orphan Foundation, and you can find them via their home page. If, however, you would like to donate as a knitter or crocheter, you might consider reading about a new fund set up just for us, and told about by Now Norma Knits, another blogger who has taken on this project as her own. I even contributed a simple pattern to her via her comments:


I have a suggestion for a crochet pattern, and you can see an example on my blog:

Chain desired length for the scarf.
Row 1: SC in the back ridge of second chain and in each chain back, ch 1, turn.
Row 2: SC in back loop of each sc.
Repeat row 2 to desired width of scarf.
To make as pictured, change colors every two rows of sc. If desired, you may slip stitch in each sc of the last row to make it look like the first stripe, which is a bit wider due to the foundation chain.
I used Caron Simply Soft, holding two strands together and using an "N" hook (I think). It took me two evenings. I incorporated the loose ends from the stripes into the fringe.


Anyway, Norma has a button where you can contribute to the OFA via PayPal. I am not even going to attempt to post a button on my blog for a loooooooong time, so please go to Norma and use her button!



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Thursday, August 02, 2007

More on the Cappies International Theater

Matt's program, Cappies International Theater, is featured in USA Today newspaper, August 1, 2007.

Click on the link to go to the featured article, and some streaming video:

In today's video, you can see Matt at 2:01, wearing a purple t-shirt, sitting on the ground; at 4:10, wearing a blue t-shirt and Ray Bans, dancing; and at 5:20, with his cell phone, recording some live music. I hope the August 8th and 15th videos will have more of him!

If you want to forward this message to Matt's friends and family members, that would be fine! Oh, and the remark the director makes about some romances? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!