Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chemo-ically treated hair

Saturday, I saw my sister-in-law's family. The occasion was their son's fifth birthday.

We exchanged pleasantries with my in-laws. My brother-in-law commented to me, "I didn't know you had curly hair." I gave my standard reply, "It was the drugs they gave me."

It is common knowledge that chemotherapy usually makes one's hair fall out. Its later effects seem to be less commonly known: when hair comes back, it is often a different color and texture.

Pre-chemotherapy, I had dark brown, almost completely straight hair. Now, I have medium brown hair with a pronounced wave.

Having people comment on my new hair texture bothers me. Not that I have any problem with how my hair looks (I actually think I look rather cute with it). But I feel like I'm marked: the chemotherapy changed me in ways that I had no control over. The hair changes seem benign, but what else did the drugs do to my body?

I will try not to dwell on it. I think I will be pretty successful. At least, until the next time someone notices my hair.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

They're like potato chips

One week ago, my partner and I met with a woman who lives nearby. She breeds birds, mostly parrots. We were interested in a hand-fed budgerigar (parakeet) she had for sale.

She gave us the pitch for the local bird club, told us about the need for foster homes for large parrots, and gave us a brief tour of the birds she owns. We handled the bird we were interested in. Before we put him in our carrier, she made sure his wings were safely clipped (we don't want any escapee parrots!) and trimmed his nails.

There was a moment when we were all staring at the bird's little feet kicking in the air near the nail clippers. She looks at us and says, "You know that birds are like potato chips." I must have looked pretty blank. She went on, "You can't stop with just one."

I laughed. This purchase brought our parrots to four; we will always remember two others that have passed away. It is a joy to interact with them, and to watch them interact with each other. I was especially grateful for their presence when I was fighting cancer.

No, I thought, I could not imagine having stopped with just one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holy nickname

Last spring, my bible study group read the Song of the Sea - what the Israelites sang after crossing the parted sea while fleeing the Egyptians. One thing that caught my attention was the nickname "Yah" used in the song. It is, the commentary explained, an abbreviation of the YHWH formal name of God.

It made something click for me in the worship services: Halleluyah. Learning it growing up in a Protestant church, and seeing it used in novels, I had always thought of it as just a word of praise. The past six years of attending worship services that include Hebrew let me realize that Hallelu is a Hebrew word: Let us praise. And "yah" is a nickname for God.

The name YHWH used to be pronounced by the High Priest inside the Temple during the High Holy Day services. Two thousand years ago, the Temple was destroyed and the office of High Priest was discontinued. The prohibition on saying the name outside that specific circumstance is such that the vowels and pronunciation have been lost. The Bible records an instance of the death penalty being imposed for inappropriately speaking the name YHWH (Leviticus 24:10-23).

And yet, there is this nickname. A nickname so pervasive that it is part of the most common praise for the Lord. Halleluyah. Holy nickname.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cook hopes

I just ordered three cookbooks from Amazon.

I am in the process of researching slow-cookers. Two of the cookbooks are for the slow-cooker. I hope the information in them will help me decide on a size and give me an idea of which features are most useful.

I am afraid this is overambitious. The past few months, I have only cooked one or two meals a week. (The partner and I eat a lot of frozen meals, and eat out a lot.) While my hours at work have improved from this spring, the stress from work is worse. I often feel so mind-numbed that all I can muster up the motivation for or enjoyment of is flash games on the internet.

I hope things are improving, and planning to spend more time cooking is an expression of that hope. I also hope that a slow-cooker meal, where I could do the prep the night before, would work better with my schedule.

Planning and working toward a better future. That feels good to do.