Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Packing away the wig...

I can't believe the only pictures I have of me in my wig are a few selfies.  And I only took them to send to a couple of far away friends and my sisters.  I'm glad now I took them.

Exactly five weeks ago today I ditched my wig.  I finally had enough hair growth, that the wig I had worn since losing my hair to chemo was becoming uncomfortable.  It was getting itchy and I was surprised to find that as my hair grew, wearing a wig or even a soft stretchy hat started making my scalp hurt.  I think it's because the hats and wig were pushing my hair against its natural growth, and my short bristly hairs put up a fuss against the constant pressure.  

To make matters worse, the adhesive used to secure the wig to my head started making it painful to remove once it had a half-inch or so of hair to cling to.  Ouch!  To be clear, wig adhesive is closer to post-it-note adhesive than super glue, but after a few hours of wearing the wig, the adhesive clung to, and became matted into the hair. 

Also, having more hair made it messier to clean the adhesive off when I just wanted to take the wig off and go wigless at home.  A washcloth sufficed when I just needed to clean the adhesive off my scalp.  At some point of the hair growing back, it required a more serious washing off - if I took the time.  If I didn't clean if off well, my hair would stick to any hat I wanted to put on when I inevitably turned cold.  

It was an icky, uncomfortable predicament that I hadn't felt prepared for, but I accepted it as part of the process.  The last straw, though, was when my natural hairline started to compete with the wig's hairline.  Since my new-growing hair was too short to pull back, my only option was to pull the wig down and forward further in front to cover it - and use more adhesive to make it stay there.  All of that just felt weird, and made my wig all the more wiggy-feeling.

The uncomfortableness grew over the course of a few weeks until the fateful day when out-of-town friends were visiting and I decided to be brave and just not wear my wig that day.  At home, not wearing my wig was my normal so I didn't have to overcome that.  And these friends had never seen me in the wig, so I figured them seeing me without it wouldn't be as big a deal as I imagined it might be to my local peeps who I saw and interacted with often.  I thought about it for maybe two minutes, until I concluded our visitors were a very safe "first" for my coming out.  

Not only were they safe, but they were completely unfazed.  Relieved it was that easy, I still wasn't sure I was going to be brave enough to go out into the wild, and to church with such short hair.  But when it came time to, I did what I'd done through the whole body-altering ordeal of cancer surgery and recovery.  I put some earrings on, warmed up my smile, and acted like I'd always looked like this.  I had to practice what I told myself at the beginning of all of this.  I had to show that I was okay.  Then everyone else would follow suit. 

These short-hair pictures are taken today - after two hair trimmings a few weeks apart to clean up some straggly hair growth.  I think it was a bit shorter 5 weeks ago when my short hair made its debut.

Pretending I wasn't feeling it, but quelling my nervousness over showing up in public the first time in my super short hair, I was relieved (and on some level, entertained) at the response I got the next Sunday at church.  I think all the women, who were interested, knew I had been wearing a wig since I had been completely open about it,  They were so supportive - seeming to understand I could use all the encouragement I could get. 

What I didn't expect was when several men commented on liking my HAIRCUT.  To be fair, these were men with whom I'd had little to no interactions with while I was going through treatment, so they were, perhaps, clueless when they saw my short hair for the first time. I good-naturedly set them straight, but I did appreciate the kind words.  In the end, any nervousness I felt was unwarranted, and I am so glad I didn't wait any longer to set myself free from the wig. 

I feel the desire to say as I share these pictures, over the last year I feel I have grown pretty far past my insecurities of looking my age.  Our culture is (and probably most cultures are) brutal to women in regards to their looks.  Perhaps men feel it too, but I am not one so I cannot know what they feel.  As a woman, who has a fair amount of vanity, though not overly given to make-up or fashion trends, and let's be honest...  I've cut my own hair in a bob for the last 25 years! So seriously...  how vain could I be? Yep, I thought I had vanity fairly well contained.  Well...after surgery, losing my hair, spending a week in the hospital (for the most part in a hospital gown) all the while dealing with tiny shedding hairs left over from being newly shorn, now taking a medicine that messes with my metabolism (which is already screwed up, to be completely honest here), and finally signing up for Medicare last week (lol)...  I'm here to tell you, vanity somehow still exists for this old broad.  I am not cured, but the best antidote I have found is to have a sense of humor about it all.  And to be thankful for life and all its variety.  The more we love people, the more lovely we all are.


The day I stopped wearing the wig felt like Independence Day, and I've never been tempted to put it back on since.  I've kept it on its stand all this time - just in case, but I've finally concluded it's time to wash it and store it away in its box until I decide what to do with it.  I feel like there should be a ceremony or something...

For now I'm hanging onto my wig because, while I don't spend time seriously contemplating the idea of cancer coming back, it's pretty impossible to not have a niggle of that thought go through one's mind from time to time.  Taking a daily pill to hopefully keep cancer from recurring is a continual reminder that it can return anytime it pleases.

I am fortunate to not feel plagued by worry about recurrence, and I'll say I'm very thankful that so far I am not having any bad side effects from the ongoing endocrine therapy. While I am certainly not emotionless, at the end of the day I am a pragmatist, and, for now, I accept the odds - which is not too hard since the odds are in my favor.

It's funny to me that while I felt little emotion as I lost my hair to chemo (mostly, I felt fascinated, to be honest), the relief I have felt seeing it grow back has made me almost giddy at times.  That said, I think I'm wearing it short short at least through the summer.  I'm loving feeling the wind blow through my hair and it hardly getting mussed up.  And getting ready in the morning is super fast.  I could live with that perk the rest of my life!


I want to say that this experience has opened my eyes and bent my heart to an issue I was largely unaware of before going through it.  I do not even pretend to understand what it feels like to have permanent alopecia, and I am aware that to someone reading this who does suffer from this condition, my words here may feel, on some level, thoughtless.  I am not so obtuse to not recognize that my being giddy over my hair growing back may seem frivolous to one who holds no expectation or hope for that.

And maybe more importantly than saying that, I want to say this:  While I benefitted last year from videos of women talking about their cancer/treatment experiences, it was videos of women who have alopecia who helped me most with coming to terms with submitting to a medication (and continue to take medication) that can cause permanent hair thinning and loss.  Some chemotherapies can and do cause permanent hair loss.  I had no idea of that before all of this.  While I never had a very thick head of hair previously, I had taken hair very much for granted.  While I am thoroughly enjoying my hair growing back, I hope I remain changed by this experience.  I am grateful for women brave enough to talk about such a scary condition.  And to give of themselves so generously as women search for answers, and helps for their hair loss.  To show the world that there is joyful, satisfying life in the midst of such a personal challenge is a gift to women.  I am grateful. 

Enjoying Ben's company on Easter Eve.

A few days after publishing this post, I replaced the picture I originally placed here with a much better one.  I love this picture of me with youngest son.   

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The stuff of life...

It's been busy here. Most of it good busy, or at least merely the stuff of life.  The stuff that can be tedious and time consuming, but basically innocuous.  

I now consider myself officially a senior citizen.  Turning 65 next month, I had signed up for Medicare in January, and just last week finally got signed up for my medigap (supplemental) insurance.  It feels like I have stuff to say about that, that I think could be helpful to a newby such as myself.  But the main thing I feel compelled to note here is that I am old.  

No offense meant to those of you older than me.  Getting older is the best earthly option we have, so there is no point in complaining.  I'm happy with the tribe that is mine.

A busy week topped off nicely last night with new(ish) friends joining us for dinner at our place.  About a half hour before they arrived it occurred to me to cut some daffodills from the side yard for the table.  These flowers are planted in a spot where I can't see them easily from the house, and since they'd been in bloom for over a week, I figured I might as well bring some inside and enjoy them for a few days.

After cutting a bouquet's worth, I was surprised their absence was barely noticeable in the clump of flowers left behind.  I made a mental note to do this earlier next year. 
It seems to me growing flowers outside should come with the added perk of bringing some inside to enjoy.

And then, to make the evening even more special, our guests brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  

Two bouquets!  I had a quick flashback to last summer when I was healing from surgery and for weeks I enjoyed fresh flowers from friends. I have learned to appreciate the wonderful benefits of fresh cut flowers.

For supper, I made lasagna. In truth, it wasn't the best I've ever made, but it wasn't so bad that I felt I should apologize.  It was that awkward level of not-my-best, where the guests have no idea that I've made better, but for me to say anything about it would just make everyone uncomfortable and feel like they have to assure me it's delicious - which I would find humiliating.  There was no way around it but to just kept my thoughts to myself and accept that they'll never know I've made (and probably will make) better.  

I'm happy to say my less-than-stellar lasagna did not stop the conversation from flowing.   We talked non-stop from the minute our guests arrived at 5:30 'till they finally decided they were whipped shortly after 9:00.  While they are our age, they are working folk; we're retired and relaxed, so they naturally wore out before we did.  That said, I got a charlie horse in the back of my leg about the time one of them said she was starting to fade.  Jumping out of my chair, I grabbed my leg, trying to quickly figure out how to get the spasming to stop.  No movement or stretch I made standing there helped, so seconds later I excused myself saying  "I'm so sorry, I think I've just gotta walk this off".  

Like a limping horse out of a paddock, I left the room, circled the kitchen island, then limped into the laundry room, torn between laughing with embarrassment and crying from pain.  What a sight I must have been - bolting to my feet in the dining room and taking off like I did.   The others, acting like it was the most normal thing in the world (bless them), gathered what remained of the dishes and took them into the kitchen.  Then they put their coats on and we said a fairly quick goodbye at the front door.  As they were walking to their vehicle in the driveway, my leg finally relaxed.  I called out to tell them my leg settled down and I was fine - not even sure if they could hear me.

What a ridiculous ending to their first evening at our house.  On the positive side, I suppose we now have a funny story between us.  I just wish it wasn't at the expense of my pride.

Friday, March 15, 2024


The weather has been telling us it's spring for the last month, but the calendar assures me it doesn't actually arrive until next Tuesday, the 19th.  I seem to remember not that long ago spring would appear on the calendar weeks before the weather would concede to its arrival.  The last few years it seems just the opposite.  We feel the tease of coming spring weeks (this year, more than a month) before the calendar confirms it.

All sorts of plants have been growing for the last few weeks, but today I finally snapped some pictures.  When I started taking these pictures two years ago, I didn't realize what a nice record it would prove to be.  

For example, in this post on April 22nd, two years ago, I can see that today's asparagus patch is producing a whole month earlier.  Even with last year's early spring, we didn't eat asparagus until the middle of April.

On Monday of this week, there were just a few small spears:

By Friday, this had happened:

I didn't get a picture of the whole patch, just the spot where there were a number of spears growing.   Our nights are supposed to dip below 30 a couple of nights this weekend.  If that doesn't ruin these spears, I think we'll be eating asparagus come Monday!

In the same vein, my various plant pictures are probably more for my record than for your enjoyment, but humor me as I post what's growing here.




Egyptian Walking Onions

I remember, the first spring we were here, I was going to dig up these walking onions and do away with them.  I am so glad I didn't.  They provide entertainment all summer long as they produce new bulbils on the top of their green stalks and then fall over and those bulbils eventually produce new plants.  We've given away a bunch of these plants the last two summers.  I think I'm going to be a little stingy and let these replenish this year.

Somehow, I missed until this spring that this is a forsythia bush.  
Forsythia blooms make my heart happy.

And these Daffodils bloomed on Wednesday.  
Yes, I was watching that closely.  

They're not pictured, but I noticed that the sedum was growing in February.  And this week, the Bradford Pears and I think a Maple tree are budding out.    

For weeks, we've been serenaded by birds from early morning to evening time. It's nice to be treated to green growing things now too.  While our winter has been nothing to complain about, and even when I don't quite feel ready for it to warm up, spring always feels like a gift.  


The blossoms have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
~ Song of Solomon 2:12

Friday, March 8, 2024

Papercrafting supplies...

The  office finally got whipped into shape earlier this week.  Part of me wanted to wait to publish this post when I got the room more prettied up, but the bigger part of me needs to move on.  So I'm posting what's finished, and calling it day.  For now.

As I looked at the two places in this room I keep paper crafting supplies, it was quickly obvious to me that organization, per se, isn't my problem.  I guess I kind of knew that, but taking a picture helped me see more clearly what the problem was.

The worst problem was stuff piled up in a corner, in boxes next to the credenza above, just being an annoying eyesore. While I spent the last two years trying to ignore it, it stared me down every time I sat at the desk right across from it.

There was no pride in that corner. That bulletin board you see there came off the kitchen wall of the house we moved out of almost 2 1/2 years ago.  And it has sat in this corner ever since it got here, with all the same old stuff thumbtacked to it. 

The bookshelf above houses mainly art supplies, some scrapbooks and the three boxes on the bottom hold things like paper punches, stickers, and some embellishment odds and ends.  

Since I haven't used much of the craft supplies in this room in two years, I decided an inventory needed to happen.  I knew with doing an inventory, consolidation of like items would follow suit.

Before I started an inventory of stuff that would stay in this room, though, I decided I would remove everything from the office I didn't want to stay in here. Things that had either migrated into this room or were put here because it seemed as good a place as any at the time.  

Things like...

...files collected and created for settling my brother's estate after he passed three years ago.  I can't believe it's been that long...

... the old kitchen bulletin board with tired old stuff tacked to it.

...a couple of boxes of young children's science items (magnifying glasses, a bug collection container, a variety of magnets).  There was even a box of stuffed animals. 🤔

In other words, all the random stuff tucked into that embarrassing, neglected corner came out of the room. 

As I started removing these items from the office, I decided to make a rule that nothing in this room would be stored in an ugly cardboard box.  And ideally, I will also eventually whittle down the number of plastic storage containers in this space.

With everything removed that I didn't want to stay in the room, it was much easier to inventory what would be staying.  As the inventory happened, two somewhat opposite things occurred:

1)  As expected, I was able to consolidate like items and that helped me decide on some obvious things to let go of.


2) I realized I wasn't ready to part with as much as I first imagined.

But that isn't all bad.  Putting my hands on everything and deciding on what to get rid of and what to keep, I found I had a renewed interest in these items.  Of course, that is natural, and I might find the feeling is fleeting, but that's okay.  Sifting through one's stuff sometimes has to happen in layers.  Time has a way of making me clearer headed - usually.

And it doesn't mean I didn't part with anything.  These things are going:

In addition to a bunch of glossy photo paper we brought home from my mother-in-law's house, the above things are boxed up and waiting to be given to a young therapist in my life who sometimes incorporates art therapy in her work.  She also has an art studio and I'm pretty sure she'll make better use of these things than I am.  And if she doesn't, that's okay.  It's a relief that I've made the decision that these thing won't be my problem anymore. 

Another thing I did in this office was to tidy up all the cords that go with the computer, modem, router, and printers.  Greg and I are still pretty old school here, both of us preferring to type on a keyboard, and liking the larger size of a monitor to that of a laptop. While I'd love to be more cordless here, it doesn't appear that's happening any time soon.

Until recently, the mess of cords looked like this:

After studying some smart looking cord corralling products online, I decided none of them would work well for this situation, so I just bought some velcro zip ties, and with some command strip velcro pieces we already had, I got to work coiling cords, and tacked most of them up under the over-hanging area of the desk...

I don't exactly love it, but it's a considerable improvement.

As for the crafting supplies.  Things got consolidated, some drawers were relabeled, and I think I can now easily put my hand on anything it might occur to me to want to use.

While this room may not ever be what someone would call pretty, it's definitely more functional. I do think my paper craft supplies may get more use now, and perhaps more importantly, my mind is clearer when I'm in here.   

There are still a few boxes (that are not coming back into the office) that need sorting through - mostly they are files and pictures of my late brother's.  That sorting may not happen immediately, but it is my goal to take care of that task this year.  

I hope I've inspired you to also tackle some spot in your home that's been nagging at you for attention.  I find my mind is freer when it knows where things are, and when there is some "white space" in a room.  Empty corners and walls count as "white space" in my book.

Thanks for following along on this endeavor!

Dried tea bags waiting for an art project

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Just nuts...

Remnants of Christmas

Delicious, nutritious treat

Broken craggy shells 

Nod of approval