Friday, June 27, 2014

She Rides!

Seven children growing up, we were lucky we were fed. It wasn't a matter of the parents not offering us food, but the problem was the cash flow. There wasn't one. I doubt if there was even a trickle when it came to cash. Toys were balls, bats, jacks, pickup sticks and a good imagination. Our playmates were our siblings. Our parents didn't arrange a play date with friends; they didn't have too. We had brothers and sisters a plenty.

I never had a bike but I remember foggily from my child brain of 8yrs old, the huge old rusty monstrosity that was my oldest brother's bike. I'm sure it wasn't purchased but given to him by a neighbor. Even he was too small for that huge bike. He couldn't sit on the seat but had to ride it by standing on the pedals. Of course it was much to huge for me and I don't remember ever trying to ride it. That's the totality of the memory of a bike when I was a child.

Eventually I did ride a bike but I was never comfortable on one. I didn't like for anyone to ride close to me and when April was a child, I remember the one ride I did with her. She, of course, was a child that always had a bike. She would zip around on it as kids will do. I remember telling her not to get close to me but she didn't listen and I remember putting that bike down when she zoomed up on me. That was the end of my bike riding which was never a lot to begin with. She got yelled at and probably didn't realize why I was so upset.

Fast forward, years and years later and I have a bike purchased for exercise. Eventually I too could zip around on it and I lost my fear of other riders too close or a car approaching and passing me. When my bike was stolen I replaced it. Recently replaced it. I haven't ridden it much yet. The weather is either too hot or too wet.

Both grandchildren learned to ride a bike at a very early age. Roller skates, bikes and skate boards, they took their lumps and never complained about the learning process.

Then along comes Carrie. Carrie is now 8 yrs. "almost 9". She has skates which she has never learned to use. She got her first bike with training wheels at the age of 4. She took a few spins on it but never got to the point where the training wheels could be removed. Carrie is not into anything that could cause pain.

The daughter, Carrie's mom, has felt as though the caboose called "Carrie" has been slighted. She felt it was her fault that Carrie didn't engage in physical activities and riding a bike should be part of her childhood.

Yesterday we gathered together at ye ole Walmart for a bit of bike shopping. The colors entranced Carrie. Her mother would pick out the bike Carrie indicated and Carrie would climb aboard. Mom would hold the bike up while Carrie "rode" down the aisle. Blue bikes with butterflies, iridescent  painted one, a pink one and a frosted purple number was tried.

We rolled out of Walmart with the frosted purple. From there the excitement of getting a bike took a nose dive. The concrete pad adjacent to the patio was used as a training ground. Because of the lack of runway, she would end up in the grass and bog down without ever getting into "traveling mode".

Today the daughter returned with Carrie in tow. When I returned from the bank, they were already here and Carrie was trying to navigate down the sidewalk. Hot and sweating and tearful, she had already dumped the bike a few times. When she ended up in the rose bush, she had had enough. Angrily she crawled off the bike and stomped toward the house.  Carrie still did not want to learn to ride a bike.
 Sidewalks are much too narrow for a beginner. I remember sidewalks and learning. We moved to the middle of the street.

Take off is the most difficult part of the ride. Spinning the pedal to the apex, we instructed her to press the pedal down and move the other foot to the opposite pedal as she reached the bottom of the circle. Though she understood, the execution took a while. With a little push she could keep the bike upright and with the added advantage of the wide road, she was pedaling along. I, in the meantime got my bike and rode along behind her.

Each time she stopped, she had to be helped to start again. At least she noted some progress and the tears had stopped. Her mom had collected another bike from the shed and rode in front of her. After a few more tries, she got it. She could take off from a standing stop all by herself. We were beyond pleased and relieved. We rode!

As we returned home below black rain filled clouds, she asked "Nanny, can we ride again tomorrow?"

"Of course Carrie. We can ride everyday!"

She is so proud of herself. I asked if she liked it and she smiled hugely and said "Yes!"

She rides! Today and tomorrow and hopefully for a long long time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hands of Fire

Last Thursday was chemo day. I'm usually scheduled for Monday and a doctor visit with labs drawn and Tuesday for chemo. The clinic busted a water line and the whole thing was flooded causing every body's appointments to be forwarded to later in the week.

This was number 4 of the 6 treatments scheduled. Every three weeks I receive intravenous treatment and on the start of those treatments I start taking the oral chemo which continues for two weeks.

My hands are on fire. I have blisters lining the inner and outer aspects of each finger and more on the palms of my hands. The hands are reddened but not peeling which would be considered a side effect of this chemo. The hands itch. Scratching causes the skin to thin. I fight the scratching and liberally apply lotion. If it gets unbearable, I bury my hands in ice for temporary relief.

My stomach usually gets queasy for a week following the intravenous chemo. I'm on the downside of that right now. It's easing up a bit.
That's my clinical report on my "condition".

Now, on to more UNCLINICAL stuff.

Carrie is spending the night with me. We have an ongoing Scrabble game that rests on the coffee table where we settle down in the evening to play. We both agree to not finishing the game in one evening. We take breaks and return to it the next evening. Right now, the second grader is winning!

The rains are back and I'm grateful. It causes the temperatures to take a dip and provide some relief. It also causes me to mow more often. I'm up to twice a week on mowing. I love my lawn tractor.

I'm also on a cooking spree. Baked steak and gravy, and chicken Alfredo and chicken parmigiana with noodles have kept the a/c unit here working to keep that kitchen cool. I, of course, do not keep this food here. It's delivered to family and friends.

The husband remains in St. Francisville on a job that was supposed to last three days. We are on day 9 right now. The good thing is he is only a few hours from home. When I spoke with him last night he mentioned the next job was to be in Gonzales, La. Carrie and I will visit on that one and catch some motel pool time. He also mentioned some work in Colorado! I'm so excited. I want to go back to the Rockies for a while. I'm terribly homesick. None of those jobs are set in stone so I'll just have to wait to see what comes up.

I'm off here to get showered and dressed before Carrie creeps out of bed and requests her breakfast. I'm done here!

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Lunch Date

A month slips by and the caller ID on my phone registers the caller. Louise is calling.

Louise is my friend, wife to the bass player for Sonny Landreth's band. I mention this as it will come into play later in this post.

Louise has her own musical history. "The Girls" band was comprised of her, her twin and another sister. Thirty years have passed but there are still people that remember them. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Louise then but music has played a large part in her life.

Louise was calling to arrange a lunch date. We chose an Indian restaurant, mainly because neither of our husbands would care to eat there so we take this opportunity to indulge and Friday (today) was selected.

We agreed to meet at Masala's ( )at 1100 hrs. Both of us are prompt on appointments. Within a few minutes of my arrival to the empty parking lot, Louise rolled in. We were early and the restaurant was not to open for another 15 minutes. In the shelter of some shade, we chatted for a while. She had bought me a pair of earrings from her recent trip to Guatemala. I removed the ones I was wearing, slipping the wires to the new ones through my ears. Perfect!

1100 hrs. and the doors unlocked. We were early which is done to beat the lunch rush.

I can't begin to name the foods we enjoyed. Chutney was one of the things I can name. A deep green sauce that we used to dip the Naan into, pungent and tasty. We  munched and chatted.

The manager was our waiter. We have been here before. The staff is well trained on explaining the menu and are happy to help with your selections. We ordered the Friday special.

About half way through our meal, I summoned our waiter. When he arrived, I requested more of the Chutney and the other sauce we were enjoying. Soon he returned with squeeze bottles of both sauces. Jokingly I asked "Do you have lids for these bottles so I can put them my purse?"

He laughed and said "My mother would do something like that."
I laughed and said "So would my mom. She was a little Italian lady that would have tagged those sauces."

His reply "My mom was a Parisian."

At this, Louise make an inquiry.
"What is your name?"

When he replied, she said "I took care of your mother!"

He came back and sat down beside her and wrapped his arms around her for a long hug. Misty eyed, he thanked her for all the care she had given his mom before she passed. I sat quietly and listened to him recount her final days. As nurses on an oncology unit, we are accustomed to encountering family members outside the hospital setting  who have lost love ones. Usually they become emotional and express their gratitude for the care given. This was one of those times.

Occasionally he would apologize for taking up our time. Louise and I assured him that it was fine and let him talk. Soon he was telling us stories of his parents, grandparents and great grandparents. How they (Giselle's parents) had escaped Paris during the war to move to Louisiana to be with their daughter Giselle.
 She was a war bride, her husband was from Lafayette. They met and married in Paris. Giselle's mother couldn't bear  to have her daughter so far away so they both left Paris and moved to Louisiana to be with her  and her new husband.

The father (Giselle's grandfather)  was left behind in Paris, telling his daughter and granddaughter, he would be fine. The Nazi's don't want old men. Paris was being occupied.

He was wrong. Grandfather was very kind to children. He enjoyed being around them and loved telling stories to the little children of Paris. It must have been very difficult what was to happen next.
 He, along with 400 children rode a train to Auschwitz  where they were immediately herded into the gas chambers and then to the ovens.

Giselle was a beautiful young French girl that attracted many friends here. She opened a cabaret and ran a very successful business. Soon the gay population begin to frequent her business.  They felt safe and accepted. This was in the 70's and 80's when there was little acceptance and much violence visted on the gay population. Apparently Paris was much more accepting and Giselle was Parisian. 

I listened totally enthralled. Occasionally he would look my way and apologize. Louise laughed and said "Oh, I'm sure she is having a great time. She loves history and she reads a lot!"

He scribbled on the paper table cloth the book written about his mother. As the conversation continues, he and Louise realize they have much in common. He remembers her from her band days. He grew up with Dave and Sonny and crosses path with Sonny occasionally. I sat back and watched them make connections with people they had in common, most of them in various local bands.

He scribbled again the name of his album and the band he was in now.

I ripped up the paper table cloth after each entry and returned home with scraps of reference material.

As we were leaving, he asked us to return to continue our conversation. In about a month, Louise will call again to schedule another lunch date. We will meet at Marsala's and this time we will include the waiter in our plans.

Louise and I laughed as we crossed the parking lot to our vehicles. We enjoyed our selves and the waiter and are looking forward to our next lunch date!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Taking it Off...

When did it become "not so important" to be svelte, long and lean? It wasn't a conscious decision. It wasn't an immediate happening.

My strict "no carb" way of living and portion control gave way to potatoes, rice and gravy and chocolates in uncontrolled amounts. Cakes and cookies soon followed. Dining at a buffet, restricted to once a month if at all, was now not given a thought to the last time visited. Wonderful French breads and pastries, shrimp or oyster po'boys on these French breads; it should come as no surprise the change of diet since moving to this part of the USA and the size of clothing I now wear. Add cracklins and boudain and all was lost.
Subtract all the physical exercise that is no longer part of my daily routine and we have a recipe for disaster.

Two major surgeries, lots of carbs and large portions along with nada on the exercise and I'm calling a halt to the craziness.

I've decided to eliminate. One week it's the pastas, the next I subtract the sweets and breads all the while watching portions. It didn't take long to drop six pounds.

I'm trying to set a realistic goal of "taking it off" and not become discouraged at the time I know this will take. I don't want to tag this as a "diet" as we all know diets never work. I prefer to call it "a change to healthier eating habits".
I start my mornings with one strip of bacon and one or two scrambled eggs. No longer do I have the two slices of toast smothered in butter and strawberry jam. The oblong of hash browns went the way of the toast and jam. Protein, protein, and more protein. Lots of green veggies with a meat for lunch and dinner.
The husband, who loves to cook, has to be reined in on what to cook now. Sometimes he will prepare two separate meals as in his dinner last night. He had tacos carbon, grilling the skirt steak on the grill and wrapping them in corn tortillas while my grilled T-bone steak cooked alongside his skirt steak. A little steamed broccoli and a T-bone and I was more then satisfied. This way of eating agrees with me as what I give up is the things I like least to eat. I'm a meat and veggies person; preferring to give up desserts and breads for those two things.
I'm trying to increase my intake of water, another difficult thing for me to do. I don't ingest enough liquids of any kind.

Pulled pork is on the menu for today. I'll have mine sans sandwich bread with fresh cauliflower.

When eating out, portion control will be practiced. "To Go" containers will be utilized, providing multiple meals for the days following. Restaurant portions are outlandishly huge.

Bike rides and walks around the neighborhood for a little exercise and DISTRACTION.

20 days to break a habit? Hopefully, snacking will be one of the habits broken.
It's time to ride. The rain has abated for the moment but will soon return. I must get moving.