Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010, BABY!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, MAMA!





Here's to new beginnings, new normals and of course, new furniture!! Suck it 2009, we're outta here!!

love,

MK

oh and, here's to the best New Year's Eve scene from a movie I've ever seen.

Nice day, already!

Dr. Hinton just stopped by for his daily rounds.

I knew he was coming so I quickly put in my funky tomato earrings, since I hadn't gotten dressed yet.

"You don't look like a leukemia patient!".

What more can you say?

Depending on how I react to them reducing antibiotics (to see whether I can keep a temperature/fever at bay) he said I might being able to come home as early as the latter part of the weekend! AMERICA! This weekend!

Got to call Haverty's to see if they can rush that new couch to the house!

Can't wait to drink coffee out of my favorite red and white polka dotted coffee cup!

Can't wait to sleep in my own bed, with my man!

Can't wait to pet my dogs!

CAN'T WAIT.

So, keep your prayers, chants, claps for Tinkerbell going!

Oh, and CAN'T WAIT to watch the game on the 7th, AT HOME!

ROLL, TIDE, ROLL

I'll end this post with one of the most WONDERFUL musical experiences Jonathan and I have ever had.

Michael Buble, in Birmingham, last October.

Third row, almost center, floor seats. Our anniversay gift to one another, even though our anniversary is in November.

We found out he was coming back to Atlanta in March, 2010, and wanted to take the girls to see him. He is not only an INCREDIBLE singer, but a performer/entertainer that will knock your socks OFF.

I wanted it to be my musical family Christmas surprise like the year we went to see Stevie Wonder in Nashville.

Found tickets, had the money to pay for them, floor seats, 4th or 5th row. Bad thing was it seemed a little sketchy--seller would meet you at the venue and lead you to your seats. Weird. Afraid it would be massive screw-up, so backed off.

That was on Friday, December 4. On Thursday, December 10 I found I had joined the "C" club. Was this some sort of "sign" that I didn't need to commit that money to something like this?

Was this a "God Thing"?

I don't know, but whether I'm here or there I'll be wearing this great T-Shirt Becky Hulsey Satterfield sent me yesterday which has a picture of our great state of Alabama on it that says:

I WILL MESS WITH TEXAS!

Sorry, Texas cousins.....

And now, for yet another musical video treat....words not always appropriate to the situation, but theme is.

Enjoy!




Mac attack of a different kind.....




O.M.G.  I loved me some Bernie Mac.  I never knew much about him until his TV show, and when we would watch it we would howl.  So, so, funny!

My favorite part would be when he would face the camera and say stuff like "Listen up, America"  or just "America" and proceed to say what he needed to say, usually about the scene that had taken place or was about to.  

Sometimes he made other points, and made them very well.

I was so saddened to learn about the day he died.  A great talent.

Miss you, Bernie!

Hare today, gone tomorrow......



THIS was the post I had intended to begin with yesterday, until the DCH network went on the putz.

In my aged brain, I seem to remember Bullwinkle trying to do one of his stupid hat tricks, with Rocky delivering the punchline, "Hare today, gone tomorrow!"

I thought it was appropriate, considering I was needing to get in contact with Dolly's wigmaker.

All I can say is I'm sure thankful my special Johnny Beck took care of me with at least a shortening of the hair.

It might be time for the Demi Moore scene.  At least she was doing it for a powerful woman movie.

NOT like Britney Spears!

I've always admired women who had the courage to keep their hair really, really short.

Sharon Pilsch comes to mind immediately.  Strong woman, no time to fool with hair (meant with love, Sharon!   You KNOW how much I love you!)  Only child, friend of the Lane Jackson, big sister to one of my best growing up friends, Pat Jackson Bowman.  Cute, perky, happy, bubbly.  ALL. THE. TIME.

Sharon, and her sister-in-law, Amelia Pilsch,  are no strangers to hospitals, sad to say.  But, before Christmas, while trying to juggle finishing up work at Verner (where she is the EVERYTHING to every person in that building), AND  traveling back and forth to Birmingham where her husband is awaiting a kidney transplant, she shows up at my door!

I hear Jonathan talking to her out in the hall.  Hear a rustle of something.  In she comes, dressed to the "nines" to keep the germs away, since that has she has to dress to go visit Frank on the transplant unit at UAB.

It looked like a yellow hazmat dress, outfit completed with a blue mask  through which she talked.  I finally told her to lift her mask so I could see her mouth move for a minute.  She did, but pulled it right back down.  We shared funny stories.  It was a great visit!!

I love you, Sharon Pilsch!

Love,
Penny

FREAK out!........





So, I freaked some folks out yesterday, it seems. WHAT? No post? Help!


Or, Katie may have freaked some folks out yesterday with very honest feelings. Yea, Katie!
(I had warned about this in one of my first posts but maybe you didn't see it. No offense meant.)


And, I've GOT to get a wig catalog or borrow some old ones (thank you Andrea and Kathie) in case
there are any extra hanging out in someone's closet. They just need to be de-germed.


I hear they've got cute ones at the Cancer Treatment Center but I can't get out in the general public right now.


My favorite wig story I've heard so far is that my water aerobics teacher had two wigs. A "Mexican" one and a regular one. I'm picturing that she is pretending to be Penelope Cruz on some days, Becky on
others. Turns out not to be that at all. One wig is for WEARING to Mexican restaurants (because we
KNOW what our clothes smell like when we leave those places. (Or, even a Japanese steak house!)


Her other wig is for the regular days!


Smart thinking, Becky!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Technical difficulties.....

DCH network running spotty today.  Tried an early morning post and had to give up.  

Lots of wonderful company, which kept me blissfully busy.  Tried to post again during a break, and spotty network again.

Night meds have been taken.  Feeling MUCH better today.  No chemo fatigue!  YAY!

Good night, sleep tight.....don't let the bed bugs bite!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Viewer Discretion Advised...

Mom started loosing her hair today. It was weird. I knew she had cancer but up until now she looked fine. By fine I mean “not sick”. I am so used to seeing the cancer patient on tv with no hair, the woman with the turban on her head or the baseball cap/dew rag combo out in public that meant “Yes I am a cancer patient”.  It is a strange thing to hear-“Mom started losing her hair today-she said it came out in clumps in the shower”. But to actually see her with the stray blonde hairs covering her shoulders-ones she didn’t even know she had lost yet-is completely different. She was up eating and talking-had even gotten out of bed to eat the delicious meatloaf she had ordered from “Room Service”. I kept trying to look in her eyes, her face, while she talked but I couldn’t stop staring at her hair. It didn’t look patchy like one would imagine. It was still mostly there-like she hadn’t lost any at all. A little thin, but normal to me. Then I saw her back and shoulders and the light was hitting them just right to show the slight yellow gold tint of stray hairs. Like ones you would pick off your sisters jacket in line at Target. I think now I have finally accepted the fact that my mother is sick.

 

Fuck you cancer. I hate you.

Love from a Mother's Heart.....






I know it isn't close to Valentine's Day, but I'm betting the stores have already switched over their displays. I thought I join the
fun!


I had a wonderful day today, visits from Amelia Pilsch, Bea Powell, who graciously stopped by to adjust my glasses, something I had planned to do, well, before you know what. Jean Gordon, my mom, Katie, MK, and of course,JonathanIf I left someone out, I'm so sorry.


I found out that I'm beginning to go into what they call the "nadir" stage...the lowest of the low, which begins to 
happena between the 7th and 14th days after you begin chemotherapy. I'm on day 13. It is a good thing I like the number 13!
 
Drained of energy, though blood count may be ok. It is part of the effects of the chemo.


Back to the heart above. It was a good day for a Mama to speak words of the heart to her daughters.
It was a good day to feel and send words of the heart to my Mother, though we didn't have to say a thing.


I am very content.


If you have words of the heart you need to say to someone: husband, wife mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, child, it matters not. Just say them. 


Let your heart free.  


You will feel so much better, even thought it might hurt for a minute or might be hard to do.


Just do it.


Love,
Penny


P. S. I've screwed up the formatting and will try to fix it tomorrow.




Dear Dolly Parton, I need your wigmaker's name....

Yeah, it has started to happen.  Time for me to think about different styles....

Cute, perky Doris Day?

Kate Gosselin?

Sinead O'Connor?

LaWanna, FANTASTIC NURSE, just told me that this (hair) and some fatigue not caused by low blood (like the other day) is the evidence that the chemo is taking hold and doing its thing.  

I'm wondering if I can grow in some funky, cool, different colored hair when all this is done!

And how can I leave this post with out this.....

Feelin' Groovy.....

I don't even need to write anything else on this post.
A night of GOOD sleep and two units of blood has left me.....



Hope you have a GROOVY day!


Love,
Penny

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lazy Day....




OMG....isn't this fun? This is just how we played and heard this song, "back in the day."

Scratches, pops, and all!

It has been a lazy day for me. Nice visit from my cousins on my Mama's side, Glenda Goldfinger and Anita Hoskins.  

Glenda brought the cutest figurine she made of me, holding my hands in the air to "Good Morning, Starshine"! It even has an open back gown, complete with butt cheek hanging out, and my FUGGS on my feet. Priceless!

Anita, another OUTLANDER fan, brought me the latest part of the series, Echo in the Bone, along with a parrot head wine stopper (which I can use HERE), and a pair of cool socks! Thanks so much!

A day in the bed, due to the "low blood" (aka, low hemoglobin, which is just part of this deal), and have had two units of blood.

Tomorrow should be a perkier day!

Speaking of blood. Mama told me that people had asked her about donating blood for me, which is SO thoughtful.
I asked the nurses about this but since there is a shelf life on the blood (you can't believe what all I've learned 
about this stuff, just by chatting away with the FABULOUS nurses here) and that the best thing would be to just 
donate blood to the blood bank. That way, if somebody needs blood before I do, it will be there for them....and 
then when I need blood, there will be some for me.


But here's the twist....I'm O negative and can only receive O negative blood. So, if you've got it, come donate it!!
I found this simple explanation, in case you're wondering why only O negative is what I can get.

But the coolest thing is watching it flow in.

RED.. POWER. LIFE.


And, it reminds me of a CRIMSON TIDE, too!







Seepyhead Jones...

Well, folks, might just have found the right combo for sleep last night!

Usually when the 4:00 a.m. activity starts, I'm wide eyed and busy tailed.

Not this morning...I fell asleep AGAIN and woke up 7:00.

Then the nurse told me my blood counts were down so it would be tranfusion time again.
Eat your heart out, Edward Cullen.....I get blood easier than you do!

Also some more platelets.

I think I may have talked all my wonderful visitor's ears  off yesterday...

Alan and Mary Beth  Dennis, Liz Pearce, Liz and Tom Belk, Scott and Beth, Catherine Collier and Beth Roberts...thanks for stopping by!  Tonic for the soul!

Jonathan was here for a bit and then  he went home to chillax.  Mama rolled in, like Santa, all over again, with needed things, especially an electric razor.  No more blades for me!

MK brought me DELICIOUS flautas from Iguana Grill.

Katie showed up and then her friend Julie Harvey, who presented me with the most wonderful gifts...a Morgan Country Junior League cookbook and the incredible POWER. LIFE. RED. blanket!  OMG, Julie and Skippy!  What a special present!  It felt great on the bed last night!

Then, the girls went shopping and found more cute tops at Old Navy, as well as more ways to contain the all the needed stuff around the room.  I guess you you could say they had fun outfitting my new "dorm room"

The day ended with Beth Roberts and me, talking through our hearts.

Only mine was filtered through a big dose of benedryl, given IV right  before a platelet transfusion.

Poor Beth....she knows me now at the molecular level.  She got the full effects of a very loose tongue.  Even still, we were able to talk about "God's Plan" and what her mother's experience was like as she went through cancer.  It was very heartwarming, and wonderful, and a conversation I hope to continue.

It will be amore relaxed day for me today.  Needing blood means I need to slow down a bit.

Emails welcome.  I'm going to be kind of lazy today.  Breakfast has just been served!

Love,
Penny

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just incase you wondered....yes....this is usually the look I get from the family as I pester away at everyone in the room. Isn't being the youngest so fun?? What? I'm just trying to lighten the mood...... :)


Peace. MK.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

iPhone practice

Ok, I have just downloaded the blogger App so this means we will hopefully be able to share much more pics and maybe even video!! Hooray!! Here's a belated Christmas card.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday Funday!!


Today, Katie and I went out with a long list of necessities for Queen Penny. Mom's dorm room is really coming along, complete with plastic drawer sets, magazine & DVD organizers, clutter catching baskets and of course, a closet full of rainbow-inspired cotton wonders from our favorite store, Cold Gravy.


Shopping is fun, especially for people who will wear anything and everything BRIGHT!! She'll never wear neutrals again, watch out!! Oh and, who knew Cancer looked so good?? Isn't she Lovely?? Isn't she Wooonnnnderfffull?


Mom's new blanket from Julie Trammel, Katie's Pi Phi pledge sister. What a thoughtful gift from such a wonderful friend!!



IMPORTANT NOTICE!!!!

I was fiddling around with stuff this morning, changing colors, changed the title of the blog.

When you click on www.pennymcallisterupdate.blogspot.com, you should see:

Love, Penny


Fortunately, I love the color change.

Unfortunately, I lost all my followers.

I hope you will reset whatever you need to to get to the Love, Penny site (same content/comments there) and re-add yourself as a follower.

Also, feel free to spread the love!



This is IT!

While not the 1979 version of one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE songs,  it is still quite delicious to listen to as well as view the incredible Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins perform live.

When the song came out, the lyrics had a personal meaning to me that were QUITE different than what Kenny Loggins had written them for

His father was ill, about to give up.  He wrote this to help his father.

I was trying to tell Jonathan I was his miracle.

You probably heard this song and interpreted in your own personal way.

At any rate, ENJOY.

And if you have to, STAND UP AND FIGHT!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"If you're lucky enough to be at the beach......



then you're lucky enough!
(Photo of a Perdido Key, FL beach...the absolute BEST!!!)

I'm not lucky enough to actually be there but I've been playing my new sound machine on "ocean sounds"  all day.

I'm pretending it is too cold to walk on the beach and am enjoying being bundled up in a purple sweater over a yellow striped top.  Feet in FUGGS.  (Thank you, girls, for convincing me I needed them!)  Funky red "crazy tomato" folk art earrings on.

When Jonathan brought me those today, I felt "complete".

I like the simple things.

Healthwise, things are dripping along.  Doctors seem pleased with my response to the chemo.  No ill effects yet.  I continue to have appetite and fabulous sense of taste, for the time being.

HOWEVER, if you see this picture you will know things are not so hot.




I know, I'm not really supposed to use this picture since I didn't take it.

But you get the picture, don't you?


Birthday Greetings.....




Today is Pam Malone Miller's birthday, on December 26th, the "let down" day.

It is not a let down day for me, for she was born and became my friend!

Happy Birthday, Pam!

I always wondered how people with birthdays on the 24th, 25th, and 26th coped with this.

I know someone else who has a birthday within these three days.  She told me that she has always insisted on BIRTHDAY paper for her BIRTHDAY presents, Christmas wrap for the other.

Still, I would think it would be a bit hard.

We almost found out.  I was pregnant with a baby that was due on December 24th.  I remember thinking, first, "YEA!!!! A new baby!"   Then I remember the due date and thought, "OH MY!  A Christmas baby!" which of course, can have two meanings....a birthday lost in the shuffle of Christmas or a birthday shared with the most holy birthday in the history of the world.

We never found out.  I miscarried on Mother's Day that year.  How odd.

Not ones to waste time, we found ourselves expecting again.  Mary-Keeley was born on March 7th, and shares her birthday with my best friend, Jean, her godmother.

Some things are meant to be.

Oh, and happy belated birthday to Kay Sasser Jacoby, a Christmas Eve baby!

Edited to add:  This is also a "birthday" of sorts for my family and me.  Today is the day we start our "New Normal" life.   I've been looking forward to this day since December 10, the day I went to the doctor.  I knew if we could make it through yesterday, as close to "Old Normal" as possible, then things would be ok.  Happy to be sharing my "New Normal" birthday with Pam!

THE. BEST. CHRISMAS. EVER. WITHOUT. DOUBT. (Long Post)





If anyone had a better Christmas Day than I, it was only the young children around the world who experienced their first REAL moment of wonder when the room they saw the night before transformed into  Santa's magic land.  Y'all remember that feeling don't you?

The bicycle in the corner.  A train set you had longed for.  A doll you had only dreamed about.  Doesn't matter what it was.  You had a day like that and it will always and forever remembered as THE. BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVER.

I will try to share my wonderment of a day without being "too wordy".

1. Coffee in bed.

1a. Waking up to an comment on a post from Elizabeth from Creative Breathing, a blog I love to read and without whom, I might never have realized that I, too, had stories to tell, things to say.  When I first started reading her blog, I thought, "I wish I had stories like that!"  I do, they're just different.  One of these day there will be a whole post about Elizabeth.  She is amazing.  You will lose yourself in her life, her stories, her creative abilities that she only just discovered she had.

2. A fabulous breakfast with eggs that tasted (almost) as good as my Mama or Dad have always cooked for Christmas breakfast.  Oh yeah.  Served in bed.  Oh, and a moment of thankfulness for the food that came out of my mouth like nothing I'd ever said before.  I even told God "Thank you, for allowing me to go through this disease and trial."  There'll probably be a whole post about that later on.

3. Trying to be the first to say "Chrismuh Gift" to my Mom.  She beat me.

4. BEING the first to say "Chrismuh Gift" to Jonathan after he said "Hey" on and IM chat.  I typed it in real fast.  He said it wasn't fair.  (HUH?  He could have typed in "Chrismuh Gift" instead of saying "Hey".

5. Getting to watch my family as they opened presents via iChat on our computers, them getting to see me watch and react.  Though not physically there, it was pretty darn close.  (Again, Steve Jobs, thank you!)

6. While they ate their breakfast, I got to bathe, unhooked from my "Christmas Tree of Life".  It, fortunately,  needed to charge up RIGHT when I needed to go into the shower.  Priceless.

7. Choosing from my "Dr. Seuss" collection of new tops,  new leggings, and putting on my FUGGS. (Fake Uggs to you uninitiated.  15 bux.)   All of which made me feel like a person in a spa, not a hospital.

8. Putting on my "face" (make-up, guys, make-up), fluffing my hair, and perching myself in the corner chair in the room so my family wouldn't see me in the bed.

9, Hearing my little elves at the door. They bring in presents that are perfect for the hospital.  Long shruggy type sweaters from Chicos, from Mama.  (We LURVES us some Chicos!), jogging suits (not that I'm going to be jogging but I do plan on walking up and down the hall), a pretty scarf, a houndstooth wrap that will be worn not only on January 7th but for a LONG LONG time.   Oh, and a sound machine from my sweet husband, along with some really funky scissors that cut fringe into paper, for when I get out and don't have to worry so much about running with scissors.  And I can't forget these fabulous felted ball ornaments, dotted with red, from Katie, nor my Julie/Julia dvd from Mary-Keeley.  There was more, but I don't want to bore you with it.

10.  Dr. Jordan, who told me I could drink the communion wine.  No problem.  Wine is sterile.  More importantly, it has been consecrated and blessed (blessed and consecrated?) by a priest.  God wouldn't pull something bad on that wine, now would he?  That would be too cruel a joke.

11. Rev. David McGinnis bringing beautiful poinsettias in from church that I couldn't keep in the room but at least got to see.  He looked so snappy in his collar and red vest.

12. Fast on the heels of David, came Catherine Collier, bringing communion for the family in the room. The intimacy of the moment, the being more attuned to the words of the ritual, the saying of the confession, the closing prayer.  The. Most. Amazing. Communion. EVER.    P. S. Catherine had on her red sweater and when she asked what side of her liturgical scarf we wanted her to wear, we picked purple, though it isn't liturgically correct....but it look GREAT!.

13. Family helps organize Christmas presents, jetsam and flotsam, hangs up my clothes.  I am directing from the chair.  They pack up and leave to go rest.  I have on Pandorra to some nice low Christmas music and stay in the chair to read more in My Life in France.

14. Two brothers-in-law and a new girlfriend come to visit.  Nita "KNOWS" me even though we've only really met/talked once, though, we've texted, and she's visited the room twice.  She made me a compilation cd that had almost every song I danced through the early part of my courtship with Jonathan. How did this woman know part of my playlist of faves in my brain?  She also brought a cd of a reading promotional dvd she made to encourage kids to read.  MY. KIND. OF. WOMAN.

It was a fabulous visit.  Rogers looked great and from where he sat I gazed on his face, smooth, serene, with the most beautiful blue eyes.  (All my McBoys have beautiful blue eyes.)  We reminisced about our trip to New York in 1980, where Rogers snapped a photo of Jonathan and me, on the streets of NYC.  We wanted it because we have this great picture of his mom and dad, on the streets of NYC in the 1940s.

Holden brought me the makings for a compost tea brewer to use in the spring.  We are going to grow some KICK ASS tomatoes!

15.  My bestest friend in the whole world, Jean Gordon, walking in the room, seeing me decked out like in Katie's post below, sitting in the chair in the corner,  and then bursting into tears and declaring that THAT was the best Christmas present she could have ever gotten.  I had become "me" again!

She knows my penchant for hand made items and often shops for me in A'Mano in Birmingham. I've never been in the store (WHY???) but know that some of my favorite people, Kay Sasser Jacoby and Niki Quick, work there.  They "get" my work, I love their work.   From A'Mano she brought me this incredible bead encrusted, shell, and and jewelry pieces "hand of friendship".   It is amazing and beautiful, just like Jean.

While she was here, they brought in the "Christmas Special" dinner.  Prime rib, twice baked potato, broccoli with cheese sauce, coconut cake.

Here, may be the best part of the day.  The knock on the door.  "Room Service".  It was a new RS girl who didn't know me.  She looked around the room.

"Where'd she go?"
"Who?"
"The patient."
"Oh, that's me!"
"WHAT?????"  (Jean and are trying not to laugh out loud)
"Oh, You goin' home tonight?"  (Remember, I'm decked out in regular clothes, sitting up in the chair)
"Oh, GIRRLLLL, No!  I'm here for 30 days!"
"WHATTT?????  You don't look sick!"

Can you imagine how that made me feel?  Like a million, billion, trillion dollars!

When I sat down to eat, I was greeted with some of the most incredible tastes ever.  I will now be wanting the recipe for the cheese sauce on the broccoli.  The twice baked potatos were not only divine but the presentation was worthy of the North River Yacht Club dining room, and that, folks is saying TONS if you live around here.  The prime rib was perfect. The coconut cake, delicious but I was too full to eat all of it.  Otherwise, I was a member of the clean plate club.  Everything seasoned to PERFECTION.

After that, phone calls to home, a phone call from my Marlowe family (Rudd, from the earlier post) in San Antonio.

Then time for a benadryl dose before platelets, which made for a GOOD NIGHT'S sleep.

Ahhh.

Oh, and did you notice that I didn't rub in the fact that I didn't have to decorate, shop, cook, wrap presents, clean up, or drive near Mid Town village?  I just wanted to make sure you noticed I didn't rub that in.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Three words.....

Peace.  Happiness.  Love.


Mom's new Christmas scarf, sweater, headband, boots, houndstooth shawl, etc. Merry Christmas! New photos to come soon!!



"Chrismuh Gift........"




For years, my mother and her best friend, Addie Hoole,  have tried to outfox each other on Christmas Day by calling each other and trying to be the first one to say "Christmuh Gift" to each other.  The trick is if you can call EARLY enough (but not too early) you might catch the other person not awake enough to respond quickly enough when the phone rings.

We do it now, in our family.  When Mama or I call to speak to each other on Christmas morning, before she (the best Santa in the world) arrives at our house, it is a race to see who can utter the words first.

Jonathan and I even try to be the first to say it to each other on Christmas morning.

I don't know how this got started but it is always great fun...who's awake enough to remember to say it first!

The other day I got an email from Cheree Causey, with a story to tell about a family tradition in HER family, only it happens the day before, on Christmas Eve.

Her grandmother wouldn't say Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve, but would always just say "Christmas Eve Gift" and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.   They would ask her why but she would just laugh and laugh and laugh some more and never told them why she did it.

Now, their family does the same, and laughs, and laughs, and laughs, and remembers great times with her grandmother.

So here's the conundrum, for which I might to send Ben Windham off on one of his folkloric research excursions....Where did this come from?  How many families do this?  Is it a southern thing?  Does his mother, Kathryn Tucker Windham, know?  (If she doesn't, we may not ever know the answer.)

Which brings me around to stories.  You've got them.  Write them down.  Remember them, even if they seem silly to you.  You want those for you children, your grandchildren, their grandchildren.  They need to know their roots, where they came from, why they're like they are.

Give your families the "Christmuh Gift" of your stories, your life.

Priceless.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Movie Dilemma...

I have to choose between "The Bishop's Wife" and "It's a Wonderful Life" for early night viewing?

What's a girl to do?  Gary Grant? Jimmy Stewart?  Zuzu? Angels?  EEEK!!!!!

Well, she does have on her matching Christmas pjs like the girls will be wearing and is about to  eat a nice little supper.

Ok, Merry Chrizzle, my pizzles....

Nighty night!

Christmas Eve, 2009....



Totally unlike anything experienced before. Not a bad thing, necessarily. Just sayin'.....

You may or may not have jumped to my old Christmas posts on my older blog, Little Red Hen. If you have, move on, have a glass of wine for me or a bloody mary tomorrow.

If not, click here for a taste of December 2007.

Click here to see the madness of what went on in November 2007, leading up to a usual December. Again, scrolling to the bottom and going up will take you up in order. You'll also get a peek into our Christmas world...kitschy, vintage, handmade, color.

I miss that I didn't feel like doing all this stuff this year.

I knew I wanted to simplify, but finding out your have leukemia is just takin' it to the extreme, doncha think?

I'll leave you with a trailer from 1947 for my ALL TIME favorite Christmas movie, "Miracle on 34th Street". I hadn't seen this until I went "YouTubing" a minute ago.

Mama, thanks so much for sharing this movie with me when I was young.

I love you.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a GOOD NIGHT!!!!

Uh oh....

Temp is up a bit this a.m.

We thought it was because of the coffee but I don't think it is.

Woke up sneezing, which is not normal.

Visitors will have to be limited today until we find out what is going on. Family welcome.

UPDATE (8:20 a.m.): Antibiotics being given, Big John, nurse extraordinaire, assured me things were ok. We've all been a little sloppy with hygiene...forgetting to use the sanitizer lotion ALL the time, me included, forgetting it might be better to pat my feet than get close enough for a hug or cheek kiss (which I crave). Ok, I feel better. Plus I just ate my wonderful breakfast, every smidgen. Yes, Cheree, I need you to be my personal trainer.

Besides, all of you need to be with your families, anyway.

Santy Claus comes tonight!

Maybe I'll break down and watch "Miracle on 34th Street" and/or "It's a Wonderful Life".

I know if I wake up in the middle of the night, "A Christmas Story" will be playing.

FRA-GIL-E...yeah, that's Italian!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mac and Cheese....

Yeah. I got the recipe.

Met the head chef.

Ordering the "Christmas Special" for Friday.

Prime Rib and twice baked potatoes.

People...does it get any better?

Great food that I don't have to cook????

I've always had an appetite. In fact, I've done Weight Watchers three times and there will probably be a few more times in the future. When I got down to my lowest in a several years (a couple of years ago), I realized I had already lost that amount of weight (that I weighed at the moment) over my three tries at WW, the last being hugely successful.

Does that make sense? No? Well, here's the skinny. I weighed 130 in 2007. I've lost 130 lbs over the WW experiences, plus a few more diet tries. Sad. Will I learn?

Until I started eating chocolate chess pie again. That, my friends, will throw you off the wagon faster than you can say, "Jack Robinson." Winning Seasons Chocolate Chess Pie. None better.

(Question to self...Hmmmm, will chemo bring me back down to my Lifetime member goal weight. Here's hoping. )

At any rate, I must blog to the people of Tuscaloosa, (if you don't already know this) that being at DCH is FABULOUS in the food department. You should get your "Golden Age" pass and bring some cash and try out this grill thing they've got going on. FABULOUS!

Gary Lane, head of all the food services is as nice as nice can be and understands good, simple, tasty (yeah, he can season it up like my mama) food and that that's what the people need. He's a local guy who I hope won't get snatched up by some fancy schmancy something or other.

What he (and the hospital and the decision makers who made this happen) is doing for the mental psyche of folks that have long term or even short term visits to DCH, is AMAZING.

People...they knock on your door and say "ROOM SERVICE!" (If I've talked about this before, sorry for the redundancy, but this is some great food and even better service.

(Note to nurses and doctors....your time for praise is coming. It will take me a LONG time to talk about the excellence of care I'm receiving in the hospital where I was born.)

At any rate, waiting for simple sandwich after some mighty excellent Pasta Primavera I had for lunch. The PB and J I had yesterday tasted like home.

Very nice.

Reality bites....

While I was eating breakfast this morning, I heard a plaintive cry, a wail.

Then another. Longer, more painful.

I knew what it was.

Another cancer warrior had become an angel.

My door was pulled shut by someone in the hall.

Elise, my nurse for today, came in and confirmed what I knew in my heart.

"Where they expecting this?", I asked.

Because of patient confidentiality, she really couldn't say. My guess was no, they weren't.

Death is never fun, never really "expected", I guess, but I so hate it for the families who will live with the sadness of missing the person who is gone, and who will always be reminded of it during what is supposed to be a happy, joyful season.

My mom and I go through our slump in late January-mid February each year.

Her mother, my grandmother, passed away at 94, rather unexpectedly, though she had been in a nursing home for years.

My dad passed away three weeks later, from lung cancer. It was peaceful, it was quick. I think, as my friend Pam has said, he had "decided" it was time. He did not suffer, nor did we, except for losing him.

I remember whispering in his ear that last night..."It's ok, you can go now. We'll be fine."

He slipped away quietly. We cried, but there were no plaintive wails. We were happy that there would be no pain for him.

His graveside service was huge. The man had friends like I don't know what. Everyone loved "Popeye" or as my friends knew him, "Pud".

God bless the cancer angels on this Christmas Eve Eve.

Hold their survivors close to your heart, God, and let them know everything will be ok and help them find the peace and strength they need to move through this difficult time.

Love,
Penny

Morning quickie....

Nice restful night, even without the use of the "glamour mask" to block the light. Tired from the low hemoglobin but two new units of blood might make today a little easier.

Breathe deep and get that oxygen to your blood!

Note to self: Get the macaroni and cheese recipe from DCH Patio Grill restaurant. OMG.

Not sure what chemo is on for today but now I can program it into my new phone so I can keep up.

Santa's coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let me hear your body talk....

Whew, baby. Did I hear my body talk to me today. They told me I needed a couple of things of blood and I thought nothing of it.

Till I took my shower and was thrown back into a time machine, to a fortnight ago. I felt exactly the same. Totally exhausted.

At that time, I didn't know my red blood cells were low, unable to carry enough oxygen through my body.

Now I recognize the feeling.

Dr. Jordan, third partner in my doctor's group confirmed that the "honeymoon" of feeling good is about to be over for a little while, and then will start to pick back up again.

Sigh.

In the meantime I yearn for a time when I can move around as tamely as ONJ does in the video below.

J and I went to her concert. It was SO wonderful!

This is not meant to be MORBID.....

My husband has taught me so much over the years.

The most important thing is patience.....geeze, the man has been patient with me and my whacked out ideas!

In a close tie with patience, is how he taught me what music really is and what it can do for the soul. Sometimes when we can't find the words to say to each other, it will be the music that says it instead. I love that.

Don't get me wrong. I've always loved music, but it was sort of in the background. Obviously, I now think with music.

The other morning, while in one of the quiet reflective moods, I realized I wasn't afraid of dying. Not that I'm like rushing toward it or anything, but rather, just had that peace settle over me.

Are you humming something now? I was, and for a while kept searching YouTube for the song that I thought was performed by Chicago, because I remembered the horns. It wasn't. It was performed by Blood, Sweat, and Tears and was written by a 17 year old girl, Laura Nyro.

I had forgotten about Laura Nyro and what all she wrote. I had not forgotten the songs, just that they were hers. And they were mine. I loved everything she wrote. It was the music of my high school days, first crushes, first loves. These songs blared through the speakers at Camp McDowell. They really became the first songs of my life.

Trying to find a good youtube of this song was hard and then I stumbled on this one. When
David Clayton-Thomas has an insert (in the middle of the video) about the young girl who came to practice and offered these songs, I had not remembered it was Laura Nyro, so off my search started this morning.

Laura Nyro had cancer and died in 1997. We share a first name and we share a disease. What a loss, but what gifts she has left us.

One other factoid, of interest to maybe only one person reading this, is that supposedly "the song "Baby, Let's Swing" by Todd Rundgren is about Laura....he said after hearing her he started playing songs like her instead of The Who." (This was on a "song fact" site and I haven't "fact checked" it, yet.)

Remember, this is not meant to be morbid......Such a great song!


Morning, peeps!

Just a quick wake up post for you all!

Great night of sleep, easy blood draw, coffee brought to me in bed (how DIVINE!), a quick page or two of read in My Life in France. A few moments of reflection on the day before.

I'm really liking these moments of quiet reflection. I haven't had the tv on in DAYS.

A nice day of visits yesterday.

Jonathan, of course, the nicest of all.

Mary-Keeley, my funny, funny girl. (Missed you, Katie, but you got all your stuff done and I didn't, so I'm glad you got all finished up!)

Liz Pearce, who surprised me in all kinds of ways. Science fiction + Liz= Most Interesting!

Holden, my dear sweet brother in law, who made my heart sing because of his happiness!

Mary Beth Dennis, who brought me the PERFECT supper.....party food and then organized a speaker phone call with some teacher buddies who were celebrating Christmas and knowing each other with some more party food and a martini or two. DANG, a lemon drop would be SO good!

Last, but never least, my dearest friend in the world, Jean Gordon, who came to visit, and always sustains me with her love. We are two peas in a pod who can sit, not talk, and will have said everything we needed to say to each other. She has always "gotten" me. I love you, Jean.

Mama couldn't come yesterday because she, Johnny McPherson and Addie Hoole were celebrating the winter solstice with a lunch at Taco Casa. People, if and when I start telling stories about Joyce, Addie, and Johnny, TOGETHER, well, just watch out.

I missed seeing you, Mama. Can't wait until today when you, Pam, Beth, and Lily show up!

There will be just a touch more daylight today. Enjoy!





Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice....not a health update, or is it???

The shortest day of the year. A train just passed by and as the sun was setting there was the mournful sound of its horn. "Dark comes quickly, dark comes quickly, dark comes quickly" the wheels of the train clacked into the oncoming night.

Last year, after the Christmas rush and into the quiet of January, I got all caught up in reading stuff on Garden Web about soil, composting, vermiculture (worm farming---y'all I swear, I wanted to be a worm farmer for a while. Jonathan's eyes were just rolling in his head at this....) and other garden related stuff.

There are some great forums over there. My favorite forum is the Soil, Composting, and Mulch forum, with the Vermicomposting coming in for a close second. Fun reading if you're into de-composition!

I won't bore you with all I've learned but will just leave it to you to click on and chase links if you have half an interest in doing things more organically in your yard. When the seed catalogs come in, maybe you'll remember this post.

But I do have to link back to one of the most fun times I had in the Garden Web forums when a bunch of us started talking about what kinds of organic inputs you could create from nothing, but would fertilize and feed your soil better than anything Dow Chemical could make.

When you've got time (and only if you're interested) just start reading "Why I Love the Internet"
where you will meet an interesting group of gardeners and lovers of the soil. You have to want to read about bacteria (good) and making weird brews to feed your plants with, and you'll meet an interesting Russian guy who does cool experiments and shares info from Russian books with cool illustrations. Remember, this is only for those of you who want to spend a lot of time thinking about dirt, I mean, soil.

Which brings me back to the Winter Solstice.

Have you ever thought about getting your tomato plants or flowers ready for the garden on the shortest day of the year? I never had until I stumbled into yet another forum at Garden Web, the Winter Sowing forum. People all over have sown seeds today, in milk cartons and other things they've collected all year.

These seeds will sit in corners of yards, be covered by snow, protected by their new little incubators and they will know when it is safe to sprout (sooner than you think) and they will be acting on what nature intends. I know, it sounds crazy, but just read the FAQ section of that forum. You'll learn lots.

I know this is a really weird post for most of you. And I'm going to end it with some really weird music.

In 1979, the GENIUS Stevie Wonder wrote a score for an obscure documentary called The Secret Life of Plants. (note: this link will take you to the google movie of the documentary, 96 minutes long, just so you'll know.)

The accompanying album (for it was a double album at the time) is truly one of my favorite of Stevie's. (Said like I know him real well....ha ha ha, I wish.) I will leave you with a funkified video of something to think about.... A seed's a star, a star's a seed's a star.

If the big star gives us rain and warmth to grow the seeds, is it the seed of life?

Does Stevie answer in this song? Do yourself a favor, though, and order the double CD and listen to it, in order, from beginning to end. FABULOUS. Simply FABULOUS.

Thank you, Jonathan, for really introducing me to Mr. Wonder. You are MY Mr. Wonder.

I love you.


Thank you, God....

On Friday of last week, our new associate rector at Christ Episcopal Church, Catherine Collier, walked into room 231.

I had only seen her once, across the room on November 19, the day of our first church bazaar in 27 years. She had on this black skirt with a wide white stripe along the bottom and I noticed it right off. It was a bold skirt. I didn't know who she was but I liked that skirt. Bold.

I can't remember if it was Amy Grimes or Gail Windham, supremely excellent coordinators of said bazaar who said, "Oh, that is Catherine Collier, our new associate rector, and she is FABULOUS!" (And, I've just outed myself as not being a good church going member since I did not know this information.)

She came in on Friday to tell me she had been praying for me since July, after my name had gotten placed in the church bulletin (without my knowing it) and wanted to meet this person she had been praying for for so long.

We hit it off right away. We are about the same age, her youngest child the same age as my oldest. She is easy to talk to. Very easy to talk to. She told me she would come back to see me.

This morning I woke up, with lots on my mind, and realized I was wanting to talk to her some more.

A knock on the door. A red sleeve peeks in before the rest of her. Catherine Collier has come into my room. She is wearing red. MY color. Hers, too. POWER. LIFE. RED.

We talk. She knows I am a bit afraid of the chemo that is planned for today.

She holds my hands. She prays. She leaves.

It will be a good day.

A very good day.

Dear Steve Jobs......

If you're reading this (ha ha ha) as I type on my other new Christmas present that you so thoughtfully invented and designed, I would like to make another recommendation for your Christmas 2010 line up.

I need you to get with the Groshong port folks and come up with a similar thing that will plug into the brain so I (we, all the people of the world) can dump our thoughts into our Mac devices and then be able to sort through, arrange (with our fingertips, no less) all the jumble that is there.

So that we can say what we need to say, cause honey, I've got a LOT to say!

So that we can get the music out of our heads and into the light and hearts of the world.

So that we can see the "trash" that clutters our minds and send it to the trashcan in the corner of the screen.....just with the flick of a finger.

Steve, are you listening?????? Time's a wastin'


So for the health update of the day.....

Today is the day they have to test for a type of chemo to see if I can tolerate it. It involves having to have a crash cart outside the door, in case I don't. Hmmmm, would this scare you?

I mentioned my sort of "fear" of this to Dr. Dubay who just sort of waved it off and said..."won't be a problem." I'm trusting you, Dr. Dubay.

Otherwise, things are just clicking along. Had more of a quiet reflective morning, which was nice and very zen like. I don't think I moved in my bed very much because the covers were so straight.

After the blood draw fiasco, day three, involving THREE nurses this morning (actually, not a fiasco, just an annoyance), I decided to pick up where I had left off reading My Life in France by Julia Child. (GREAT book, highly recommend! If you've NOT seen Julie/Julia, I even recommend reading this before you do. If you HAVE seen it, you will enjoy it even more!)

My night nurse came in and asked about it and we started talking about books. She loves to read so we had a fun few minutes talking about what we liked. And then it hit me. SHE needed to be introduced to Diana Gabaldon's fabulous Outlander series, a bewitching combination of a time traveling nurse, historical fiction, hot romance, and men in kilts. PEOPLE, what more can you ask for in a book???? And there are, like, SEVEN in the series.









Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mac Attack

Santa came early and visited room 231 this afternoon.


.......Penny now has an iPhone. Now, your favorite librarian, folk artist, mother, daughter, wife, cousin, friend will be even easier to connect with! She practically squealed when Katie called to let us know she and Dad had successfully broken up with Verizon and were now in a serious courtship with AT&T. She could barely contain herself when Santa walked in the door with that bright orange bag. How fun is it when you get to witness someone totally embrace the wide-eyed, warm, innocence of a little girl on Christmas morning? SO FUN!


She's still got some learning to do, as do the other new-to-the-iPhone-club members, Jonathan and Katie, but she's already had fun doing glamour shots from her hospital bed and will soon be an avid texter, just like her tech-savvy daughters.

So, please, I beg of you, texts, texts and more texts! Practice makes perfect, so lets whip this baby boomer into shape! Maybe you could even suggest to her that the youngest Mac (no pun intended) deserves an iPhone too, besides, I think its a great prize for the iPhone Tutoring Job I've now been assigned. (Tutorials, study sessions, etc. will be held in DCH room 231 for anyone interested. Any iPhone veterans feel free to fill us in on any tech-tricks you may have up your sleeve!)

Happy Early Christmas, Mama!


An aside.....

I have another blog that is out of date but kind of fun, if you're interested.

You'll see some old Christmas Tree decorating adventures and some dreams deferred, while learning more about my obsessive compulsive tendencies to cram information down your face.
(Picture borrowed from TheatreBristol poster for a puppet show of The Little Red Hen. Hope they don't mind. This Little Red Hen was just too ME to not use!)


What a way to wake up!

My FB buddies already have seen this a while back. But, it still brings back happy memories for me!

This reminds me of being at my grandmother's house (your side, Katie), waiting to walk to school with friends that lived behind her. Because of those friends, who attended Forest Lake Methodist Church, across the parking lot from my grandmother's, I met Pam, from last night's post.

Hope you feel ok this morning Miss Pam!




This is an interesting process I'm going through. I didn't know I had so much I wanted to say. I'm trying to figure it all out.

But the good news is, no chemo treatments today and I'm feeling MUCH better than I did yesterday! I feel so happy, and at peace. As Martha would say, that is a "good thing!"

Plus I have this great night nurse, April, who is so, so sweet. Yesterday we sort of had a panic time while she was trying to draw blood from my Groshong port. It wouldn't come out. No matter what gyrations I tried, it wouldn't come out. Finally, another nurse came in and for whatever reason, the blood started to flow.

This morning, while feeling so good, April came back for the blood draw. I laughed and said "lets get this party started" and she said..."Oh, you like Pink?". Hells to the yeah, April!

We were beginning to have a slow draw again so I sat up and started dancing from the waist up and singing some Pink. She does it better than I do, so here ya go, if you need more of a wake up jolt than the Captain Kangaroo theme song....



The only sort of new realization is that with no white blood cells (from 84,000 to 1 from the time I was diagnosed til yesterday when the doctor gave me the good news about how well it seemed to be working) is that things won't heal up so quickly....so I'll probably not be able to put some pretty red lipstick to cover up that fever blister left over....DANG IT.

People, what is going on here? From Captain Kangaroo to PINK in ONE POST???

I think they're putting something in my drips I don't know about..bit whatever it is, I LOVE IT!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Have you got five more minutes?......"

I asked my old friend, Pam Malone Miller, last night, after we had been giggling, talking, laughing, confessing, crying, and generally loving on each other on the phone for nearly two hours.

"For you, I have a thousand years...." was her reply.

Isn't that the most absolutely stunning answer in the world?

30 minutes later we hung up and my day ended on a much better note than it had started.

I love you, Pam Malone Miller. I love you so much!

Laxatives of the soul feel just as good as the other kind....trust me.

Pam, I told you just a minute ago, you are one of my Earth Angels.

I have many of them.

Their stories will be told.

One by one, until the stories are done. I promise.

I continue to feel such love and support coming from all of you and I am truly overwhelmed by it all.

I have been going through a period for about 18 months where I've been fascinated by the dynamics of large families that are there for family members in a time of great need or crisis. Perhaps even a little jealous.

I've wondered what would happen if something horrible happened to me. Who could help my family cope with it? An only child of an only child, with only two first cousins. (Who both came from Texas to see me on Thursday. I love you, Rudd and Jimmy. You both feed my soul when I see you because I see Unc (their name for my late father) in both of you and I know he is still here.

It's true....could you call it some weird premonition? I don't know. As I told Pam, strange things have been happening. Strange, weird things, or so it seems to me.

I can say this, though. I've found out I have a HUGE family out there. HUGE.

I am so grateful. So, so, so, so grateful.

I love you, all, so much. I hope I'm not boring you with all of this.

I think this video expresses what I feel more than just words can say. (And don't feel bad if you want to stop about four minutes in.) It's all in the chorus....



Good night, all.......

Just a little funny for you.....


Perhaps you've already seen a copy of Santa's Gmail Inbox.....if you have, I hope you thought it was as funny as I did. It provided a much needed laugh. Click on the link above and be sure to enlarge it so you can read it better.......




Sleepless in Tuscaloosa.......

Ugh, room too warm to sleep....won't forget that again!

Mind spinning again.....sooo many nice comments about my writing/becoming an author (WOW, thanks a BUNCH for those!) which, in turn, made me start thinking about my appearance on Oprah and everything.

And the timing for that might be right because then she'll be filming in SoCali and maybe will invite the fam to her manse in Montecito. And I know she would do that because she would think it was cool that Jonathan had lived in Santa Barbara for 2.5 years to go to Brooks institute of Photography where the main building WAS in Montecito.

Yeah, Oprah would be cool like that. And, I have lot of time to plan on what to where and how to pronounce her hometown's name of (doing it phonetically here)--KAHZI-YOUS-KO, Mississippi.

Oh, and since we come from neighboring states, she would think that was cool, too. See, I have it all planned out. It's how I roll. I see the possibilities...

Now about the movie from the blog thing, I've already cast Renee Zellwiger, so just don't bother to apply. If she can pull off Beatrix Potter, one of my all time favorite illustrators/authors, then she can handle this new role!

Day 2 of Chemo complete. YES! (yesterday). No real results from it, though after a couple of days of bran flakes, I could use some results from those. (TMI? )

Had a really great day yesterday and even better evening, when i got my hair cut into something manageable with my fingers but that is a post deserving of itself. It will even have some pictures! Let me just say HONEYYYYYYY SUGARRRRRRRR, I feel a gazillion times better! (If you live in town and know Johnny Beck, then you understand the last sentence.)

Gonna try to get a little more rest.....

Oh wait, have to make public apology.....got called out by Jonathan about my remark about you know it is a GREAT song when you have to put your hands in the air. I stole that from him and didn't give him the props he deserved. So here ya go, J, PROPS TO YOU!!!!! I love you!

And here's another of my favorite songs that makes me throw my hands in the air.....hope you like it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good Morning, Starshine!

"The earth says hello!"....

Just a quick update since i have a lot i want to write but am about to start second day of meds so will come back later and add a story or just more jibber jabber about what's happening.

Great night, even better morning. I woke up and realized that I can treat this like my "hotel" wake up experiences that I have while going to art shows. Completely different from my home morning routine. Room service coffee, easy wake up experience while stretched out in the bed, breakfast, bath, and then on with my day. It was a very nice revelation and even better to put into action! Oh, and even better, I started reading a book that Katie brought me, The Bounce Back Book by Nancy Salmansohn. It has been a great, quick read and the graphics are clean and modern. The advice is great, not overwhelming and i promise, there is something in there for each and every one of you. Put it on your Christmas list or buy it for yourself for Christmas. You won't regret it.

Adding to the excitement of this experience is that Jonathan happened to walk in with my Safeguard soap and got to participate in the shower process...if this is TMI (too much information), well, sorry. (He scrubbed my back, ok? ) It felt nice to feel "normal" again. Not something I felt a week ago today.

I think I'll sign out with some of the strangest lyrics in musical history....

Glibby globby gloopy, nibby nobby noopy, la la la lo lo..... (From the song, "Good Morning Starshine", from the play HAIR.)

Hope you enjoy the music....it has been one of my all time favorite songs since I first heard it. Just the opening of the song makes me want to put my arms in the air and wave them around, and that, my friends, is the sign of a GOOD SONG. Even if you don't like this one, I'm sure you've got your own songs that make you feel that way. If you do, play one for yourself today!

Love to all,
Penny