Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mmmmm, Cheese

This weekend I decided to get back to cheese making. I stopped by the local dairy (and, no this is not the only place I can get "farm-fresh" milk) and picked up 2 gallons of milk. On Saturday I made a batch of mozzarella, which tastes like my most successful effort yet. Today I made a batch of whole-milk ricotta (you can also make ricotta from whey left over from hard cheese making). They only thing I would do differently the next time is drain the ricotta for 15 to 30 minutes rather than the hour recommended in the recipe. However, it is still pretty good.

Tomorrow back to the real world. I just tried to clear out my work email box (393 emails and 457 bits of spam) and I managed to get it down to 150. I'll actually read the 150 tomorrow when I can ask questions of the people who handled my account in my absence.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Review: SenseoTM Coffee Machine

Because the coffee at my office is horrible and I don't pass a good coffee shop on my drive into work, I entered a promotion to get a free SenseoTM Coffee Machine. I qualified and the machine arrived a few days ago. There is very little set up - you have to fill the resevoir with water and push two buttons simultaneously to flush the machine and fill the boiler with water. This process takes about a minute. Then I was ready to brew my first cup of coffee. I used the Medium Roast pods which came as part of the promotion. The coffee was weaker than I like but had a smooth flavor. No bitter aftertaste either. Probably a good coffee for the "average" American coffee drinker. I will try the Dark Roast once I've finished the medium. I also want to try the flavored coffees (I think they have vanilla, hazelnut, and Irish Cream). My parents are coming this weekend and my mother drinks decaf coffee so I picked up some of the decaf pods for Mom.

I have also promised the VP at work that I will share the Senseo with him. He's quite psyched. I'm sure I'll be sharing with lots of people once word gets around. I don't mind sharing the machine but people get to buy their own coffee pods. A bag of 18 pods is about $5 in my grocery store, although I know I can get the pods cheaper (and in larger quantities) online. Maybe this will be the impetus to get a pod-based coffee maker at the office.

I'm glad to be going back to work next week with my Senseo Coffee Maker. Now if I could just win PowerBall and not have to work at all...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day"

Your Pirate Name Is...

Skull Crusher Mistress of Death

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yes, Virginia, There is an Upside

Lest you think that there is no upside to endometrial cancer and radiation therapy, I am here to set you straight (ha, ha, ha). I will no longer have PMS or cramps and the lovely other symptoms that accompanied them because I will no longer have my period. I won't have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on pads and tampons. I will not sleep poorly 3-4 nights a month because of the aforementioned cramps etc. I will not have to spend a fortune on Advil because it took 4 Advil every 8 hours to manage my cramps. I will not feel too crappy to exercise 3-4 days a week. Not having had a hysterectomy for my endo CA, I have not been plunged into menopause. With luck I'll hit it around 50. My bladder still has its anatomical support so hopefully I will not need surgery at 48 to prop it up. Sure, having endometrial cancer at 34 and again at 38 is not a good thing but there is an upside. It's time to focus on the upside now that treatment is done.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why I won't vote for Santorum

I won't vote for Rick Santorum because he's voted against an increase in the minimum wage 13 times in the past 10 years while voting an increase in his own pay 3 times (and he said he wouldn't vote for a pay increase.) He also believes that families should be able to live on one salary and when both parents work they are being "selfish." He said "Making people struggle a bit is not necessarily the worst thing"(reported in Congressional Quarterly Weekly 9/12/03). Of course, as a Senator (and party leader) he makes somewhere in the vicinity of $183,000. The median household income in Pennsylvania (in 2004 - latest I could find) was $44,131. He also didn't bother to pay the Penn Hills (PA) School District for his kids to attend a Cyber School for PA residents when his kids live with him in Virginia. Now the state (of which I am a taxpayer) is paying over $50,000 to Penn Hills to settle the matter. The man is an incredible hypocrite.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I have very little to say except "I remember." It was my first day back in the office after my honeymoon. I remember the brief time when we didn't know where a friend was (he took the PATH train to WTC every day), I remember not being able to get through to my sister (who works in Manhattan) on the phone, and I remember being glued to all day long. I remember my bosses acting as though nothing had happened and expecting us to work (I left the company less than a year later and I think their actions on 9/11/2001 had a lot to do with opening my eyes to the kind of people they are.) I remember the smell, the fighter jets, my neighbor's dwindling hope that her firefighter cousin would be found and then her dwindling hope that his body would be recovered. I remember going to the dentist and the dentist telling me that she was afraid one of her patients had been killed because he never showed up that evening for his appointment and it wasn't like him to just not be there. I was there when she got the call that most likely he had died. But most of all I remember that the next day my grandmother died at the age of 96 after having been in failing health for just under a year. I cannot separate the two events because my grandmother was so very important to me. I don't like to talk about 9/11 or think about it too much because it is so tied up with my grandmother's death. I feel guilty and selfish because my grandmother had a long, happy, healthy life and died a quiet, peaceful death in her sleep and more than 3000 people weren't afforded that dignity. But still, I cannot separate the two events and I still cry when I think about it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Freecycle Bitch

I posted some things to Freecycle today and got a really annoying response. I noted the town we live in (it is a large town for the 'burbs) and someone emailed me and said "Are you near X town?" I know if I email her and say "No, we are at least 45 minutes from your town" she will say "Never mind." Why not Google the town before sending me the email?

Friday, September 08, 2006

An Open Letter to Physicians and Their Staffs

I try to be a good patient. I fill (and refill) my prescriptions, take my medication as directed, and try to do what I am told. I go for recommended tests and I have the treatment that is recommended. I ask questions. BUT I AM NOT A PHYSICIAN.

I made a list of questions to ask my Gyn/One and Rad/Onc before my latest treatment. I did not see my Rad/Onc before they took me to the OR and I already had a dose of mellow meds when he made an appearance so I forgot when I saw him then. When I saw him afterwards in the Radiation Clinic I was in a lot of pain and he was getting ready to leave to go to another hospital. I asked the resident one question that seemed to puzzle him (Can I go in the hot tub?) so I didn't ask "Can I have sex?" because I thought I might make his head explode. I couldn't ask the Resident about follow up appointments because he wouldn't know.

I decided that the best thing to do was to call my doctor today because I didn't want to forget to ask him. I called and the woman who answered the phone said "Well, you'll have to ask him that." It was all I could do not to say "Dubmass, that's why I'm calling." She said "The tech can page him the next time you are in." It seemed pointless to argue with/explain to this woman so I just said ok and hung up. The Wife pointed out that the Rad/Onc's email address is printed on his card so I could email him. I did and I got an answer to my follow up appointment question and he said I could "resume normal activity" 2 weeks after my last treatment.

First of all, why didn't someone tell me that I shouldn't go in the hot tub/pool/bathtub until 2 weeks after my last treatment? Why didn't someone say "Don't have sex while you are having treatment"? Why didn't anyone tell me that I was supposed to do a "bowel prep" before each treatment? I've had 5 D&Cs so I know that I have to do a pre-op bowel prep and post D&C I'm not allowed to take a bath/swim/go in the hot tub for 2 weeks and I'm not allowed to have sex for 2 weeks but this isn't a D&C. They weren't scraping out the lining of my uterus, they've been irradiating it. Fortunately I kept to the post-D&C instructions even though they were nowhere to be found on the post-op instructions I recieved.

No wonder patients get into trouble. I could have given myself a raging infection which would have likely delayed my radiation treatment along with making me really sick. The Rad/Onc also told me there were NO side effects to the treatment - then why am I so fatigued? Why do I need to take 800 mg of Advil every 8 hours to avoid inflammation in my bladder like I had last time when you neglected to tell me to take the Advil around the clock and didn't recommend a dose? The usual non-prescription dose didn't do a thing. I wonder if he tells men who are having radiation treatment for prostate cancer that there are no side effects.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Go Steelers!

and thus begins the NFL season. I am quite psyched to see the Steelers open the season vs Miami tonight. I don't have a good feeling about the season given Roethlisberger's appendectomy and earlier motorcycle accident but I still believe they can win and win big.

Today's exciting activity

I had my 2nd radiation treatment yesterday and it sucked. Therefore, today's activities are limited. A friend stopped by with dinner (Thanks, Chica) and stayed for a while to chat and I learned how to use the self-clean feature on my oven. This is somewhat embarrassing to admit because we've lived in this house for 4 years and I'm just now getting around to cleaning the oven. It isn't like we don't use it. I have to remember to do it overnight the next time. How often should one clean one's oven? Presumably it gets dirty from regular use so cleaning it only after Thanksgiving seems like a bad idea. Should I clean it once a month? Once every six months?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Exploding sump pumps

Between Friday morning and Saturday evening we received about 4.5 inches of rain. This was on top of the multiple inches of rain we received the previous weekend and during the week. We have had a problem with water in our basement in the past. To fix the problem we had 2 industrial-strength sump pumps installed in the basement along with a French Drain system and we had a swale created in the backyard along with some additional re-grading. It seems to have solved the problem but because of our previous issues we are extremely paranoid when it comes to big storms. We check the basement obsessively, we go outside to see if the pumps are moving water out, we make sure the storm drains in the yard are clear, etc. On Saturday evening, The Wife realized that one pump was just recirculating the water in the sump pit (it was spraying water out of a hole in the pipe rather than pumping it out) so we called our plumber who didn't even bother to call us back, he just showed up (he lives less than a mile away). He had to cut the pipe to get the pump out of the pit and he discovered that while the system had been installed correctly (he didn't install it), the pressure relief hole was partially clogged and that's why the water was spraying rather than being moved out. He enlarged the pressure relief hole and reinstalled everything but because he had cut the pipe he had to use a rubber clamp to hold everything together. All was well, the basement was dry, we were happy. We went along with our dinner preparations and were having a very nice dinner when we heard a really strange noise. We ran into the basement to discover water everywhere and the clamp disconnected from the pipe. The sump pump was still pumping so the water was slamming into the basement wall and spraying all over the basement. The Wife was able to get the thing unplugged and we unsuccessfully tried to put it back together. We spoke to the plummer again to discover that he knew he hadn't made an ideal repair but at 8 PM on a Saturday night he had done the best he could with what he had. He came back on Sunday morning and glued everything together so we should be ready for the next storm.

The plumber also spent 15 minutes (while the glue was drying) in our downstairs bathroom reading Newsweek and taking a dump. It was odd.


Tomorrow I have my next radiation treatment. Until last night I wasn't really thinking about it because it seemed so far away. Until Saturday I was still dealing with the effects of the first treatment so I wasn't thinking much beyond that day. Sunday and Monday I felt good. We went to a Phillies double-header on Sunday and yesterday we spent the evening with some friends and I felt normal, like myself. Then it hit me (because my treatment was a big topic of discussion), blah, I have to have another treatment on Wednesday. I'm going to feel like crap again for 3 or 4 days. It did spur me to come up with some questions to ask the docs (eg, May I use the hot tub? Anything you can do about the horrible bladder pain?) and The Wife reminded me to write the questions down so I can bring the list with me to the hospital. It also just occured to me that I might have an email address for my RAD/ONC and I could email him the questions.

Ok, I have a day until treatment and I feel good at this moment. Time to enjoy it.

Let the campaigns begin!

Yesterday I did something that felt very old-fashioned. I put up a sign in my yard for a political candidate on Labor Day. At least in my memory, Labor Day was when campaigns began in earnest and when people began paying attention. Of course, if you are a political/news junkie like I am, you know that is no longer true. Campaigns are a year-round, non-stop machine now. It still felt really good to post a sign for someone I actually know. We need to get signs for the other 2 candidates that we know so we can put them up as well. I am proud that when I cast my vote for these 3 candidates in November I'll be voting for men (they are all men) that I have personally spoken with and can support without reservations.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ernesto, you suck

This morning The Wife and I woke up to discover that the combination of rain and wind from the remnants of Ernesto may have wiped out our small collection of fruit trees. I noticed that one of our largest apple trees and the fig tree (which was full of figs) were leaning at a 45 degree angle. The Wife went out to move the bench out of the hosta (and keep it from ending up in the pond) and determined that the fig tree had split at the base. SHIT. At this point there is nothing we can do until the wind and rain stop. I'll have a look tomorrow and see if we can save the apple. I think the fig is done.