Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A boy and his bike

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I completely took for granted the fact that I live in a city with superb medical facilities and surgeons. In fact, we joked that I had to go to a hospital 20 whole minutes from home, instead of the one that's about 7 minutes away.

Then I started reading other people's stories about how they had to fly to another state or drive 7 hours to get treatment. And then what about their caregivers? The travel and lodging could get really expensive. The American Cancer Society has facilities called Hope Lodges which provide a free place to stay for patients and caregivers who have to travel far from home for surgery or other treatment.

On Friday I mentioned that Aaron would be participating in a bike ride going from one end of Ohio to the other. It's called the Pan Ohio Hope Ride and it's a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and more specifically, for Hope Lodges. He rode 328 miles with 400 or so other riders over a four day period.

For those of you who didn't see Facebook or Instagram posts, here's how the weekend went for him.

On Wednesday he boarded a bus that took him to Cleveland. He stayed in a hotel downtown and was up bright and early for the start of the ride. He took this picture of the Browns' stadium, Lake Erie and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Day 1 went very well. The temperatures were cool, the wind was at their backs and they biked about 75 miles to the College of Wooster. Aaron opted to camp each night, which is quite something since he probably hadn't spent a night in a tent in over 25 years.

Aaron's gear

Day 2 was the longest day, in which they rode from Wooster to Otterbein University in Westerville, a suburb of Columbus. This ride was about 100 miles and went through Amish country and included some sizeable hills. Still, he felt pretty good, and again the weather was lovely. Aaron easily could have decided to sleep at home this night, but he stuck with the tent.

Day 3 - Aaron overslept, and had to haul ass to catch up with the rest of the riders. Fortunately, they had a police escort through Columbus so the group wasn't moving too quickly. I got to see him riding down High Street not too far from our house. This was another 75 mile ride ending in Springfield at Wittenberg University, our alma mater. Aaron said it was the hardest day. It was very flat and they didn't see any rain, but they were traveling due west into a headwind. Once they arrived and were safely consuming pizza and beer, the rains came. He ended up setting up his tent inside a dorm.

Day 4 they rode about 80 miles to downtown Cincinnati. On this day they finally had some heavy rain, but still made pretty good time and arrived around 2:00. Aaron's parents, his sister and her family, and one of his best friends were all there to greet him.

New decor for the car

He has complained about some soreness, but I seriously sometimes wonder if he's human because he seems totally fine. He even got on his bike last night to go to a customer's house. Of course, those of us who know Aaron aren't that surprised. If you don't know about his recent history with bicycles, you can read about an accident he had almost four years ago. Given all that, it's even more remarkable that he was able (both physically and mentally) to do this ride. But that's just how he rolls. Pun intended.

Thank you all for your support and well wishes!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites 7/25

A few of my favorite things from this week:

Dear Mother Nature, I don't know what's gotten into you, but right now our weather is fabulous! (You could spread the wealth to other areas, too. I won't mind.)

Aaron left for the Pan Ohio Hope Ride, in which he'll bicycle 328 miles over four days from Cleveland to Cincinnati. More on that next week, but I can tell you that he completed the first day and he sounded great when I talked to him (that was before he spent the night in a tent, so we'll see...).

Just before putting his bike on the truck to Cleveland. Rider #382!

Representin' with his Scrabble Chick tiles.

So You Think You Can Dance is back in full force! Read about my obsession with this show, mainly because I'm jealous. This week's show featured a group performance to one of my favorite songs this summer.

My post today is all about favorite things, so it's pretty positive, but check out Steph's post about the Cult of Positivity and the importance of balance. It's OK to feel down or be pissed off sometimes, and it's OK to be happy, but I know that I need both sides of that coin.

My cats are always part of my favorite things every day. No pictures of them this week, but this meme cracked me up:

Happy Friday! Enjoy the weekend!

The Diary of a Real Housewife

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Maureen McGovern at Bungalow Jazz

Note to self: come up with better titles.

If you live in Columbus, you might be aware of a hidden gem called Bungalow Jazz, also affectionately known as Becky's Bungalow. It's actually Becky Ogden's home, and she opens it up for musicians who perform house concerts. There's a suggested donation which varies depending on the artist, it's BYOB, and patrons bring snacks to share.

Most of the performers are local, but for two nights this week, Maureen McGovern was there testing out a new show called "Sing, My Sisters, Sing!" If you don't know who Maureen McGovern is, she's probably best known for singing two Oscar-winning songs in the early 70s. "The Morning After" won for 1972's The Poseidon Adventure and "We May Never Love This Way Again" won for 1974 's The Towering Inferno. Also in 1974, another song McGovern recorded was nominated and oddly enough, it was for another disaster film. Who knew disasters produced such music? Another fun fact: McGovern played the singing nun in Airplane! in 1980. (And if you've never seen Airplane! you should drop everything and find some way to watch it, but that's for another post.)

I was fortunate to go to last night's show. I did not take any pictures. I just wanted to soak it all in. It's such an intimate setting; I was sitting about six feet away from her. There was just her and her pianist, who also arranged all the songs. She sang for 90 minutes, with no break. Here's a peek at the promo:

Yep. Ten dollars. Talk about a bang for your buck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Coffee and tea and the java and me

Once upon a time, when Aaron was in 1st grade, he wanted to take a tadpole to school for Show and Tell. The tadpole escaped when Aaron tried to fill a container in a creek but pointed it the wrong way. After what I suspect were many tears, he instead took a Manhattan Transfer album.

This is the album. I'm able to show you the front and back because we actually own two copies. On vinyl.

Fast forward to college (Wittenberg University, Springfield OH). Aaron and I met in the Witt Choir when he was a freshman and I was a sophomore. One year for the choir's annual variety show, we got a quartet together and performed "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by The Manhattan Transfer on Grooveshark

Every spring break, while other friends traveled to Florida, we went on choir tour. Initially I was jealous of those spring breakers having fun in the sun but really, I wouldn't trade those choir tours for anything. And one of my favorite memories is listening to the Manhattan Transfer and watching Aaron immerse himself in the music, particularly the song "Java Jive."

Java Jive by The Manhattan Transfer on Grooveshark

Fast forward again to last Saturday night. The Manhattan Transfer performed with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra at Picnic with the Pops. We had a table with six friends and feasted on our potluck offerings, which included Manhattans, of course.

Jon (far right in the above photo) told us he would bring dessert and only said that it would be "interactive."


Amazingly, the weather held and it didn't rain, and as expected, the music was fabulous.

When we got home, Aaron and I immediately listened to some Manhattan Transfer, including the album pictured above and including this song, which they didn't play but I just love it.

Operator by The Manhattan Transfer on Grooveshark

The whole evening was such a treat and brought back some wonderful memories for us!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Previously, on Confessions of a Gila Monster

When last I wrote, over a week ago, I mentioned my hatred of the surgical bra that I'd been wearing. I had another follow up with the plastic surgeons this week and was given the go ahead to wear any bra I want. So far, that has meant sports bras. I'm not going on a Victoria's Secret shopping spree just yet because there's still some swelling, a lot of soreness, and because I will be having another surgery to do some fine-tuning. When? Good question. I still need the hole in my stomach incision to heal. Yuck.

Meanwhile, we celebrated the 4th of July. It was a busy long weekend. Columbus has a big fireworks show downtown on the 3rd, called Red White and Boom! We were fortunate to have an invitation to watch the fireworks with friends who have a condo with prime viewing. On the actual 4th we went to the Doo Dah parade (lots of pics from last year's parade here) and that night we went to the Clippers' baseball game where Aaron and friends sang "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch (you might be able to hear it here if I did the link correctly).

Doo Dah entries included (top left) poking fun at the VA issue and (top right) pregnant Hobby Lobby employees.

Sunday we hosted a little farewell party for a friend who is moving to Boston:

After the busy weekend, we were very happy to realize that this week and weekend are "obligation-free."

This week I received my first Stitch Fix! If you're unfamiliar with Stitch Fix (I certainly was; I thought it had something to do with sewing) it's this deal in which you pay a $20 styling fee and you tell them your sizes and your preferences and they send you five items. You decide which items you want to keep (and your styling fee is credited toward the cost) and send the rest back in a postage-paid envelope.

These items I did NOT keep:

Left: a short dress with tie. It was comfy but something was off about the fit and I wasn't in love.
Middle: you can't really tell, but it's a pair of super dark rinse jeans. They were just barely too small (and that may have had something to do with the fact that I still have abdominal swelling) so no point in buying those.
Right: I loved the color and print of this blouse, but the fabric wasn't stretchy and it didn't fit me.

Here's what I DID keep:

Left: The earrings are hammered silver - it's kind of hard to tell in the picture - and they're very "me."
Right: Before I even got this maxi skirt out of the box I knew I'd be buying it. Are you kidding me? The print, the color, the feel of the fabric...perfect.

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix yet and you're interested, might I suggest using this referral link: http://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3880927? If you do, I'll get a $25 credit. **Please note that I have NOT been compensated in any way for writing about Stitch Fix.

And finally (whew!), we're saying good-bye to a family member today.... Aaron's car. Last year I wrote a post about the car's 10th birthday, and if you missed it, you should really check it out because then you might understand how bummed Aaron is today. I've never been attached to a car like that, but it's part of his identity and he's sad and I get it. Farewell, little SCarGo.

And now, we're going to attempt to be a one-car family. That should be some good blog fodder right there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More Pain in the Ass Things About Breast Cancer

So here we are, four weeks out of the big surgery. I did a pre-op version of superficial things that pissed me off about having cancer (you can read it here if you missed it) and today I have a post-op edition. You know me, there will probably be more to come...

Grooming. I've been fortunate in that I haven't had limitations moving my arms. I could wash my hair the first time I showered after surgery, and luckily with my curly hair and a good cut, air drying works well. But I can't quite shave my legs. Aaron says he won't do it, and frankly I wouldn't want him to. Thank Target for maxi skirts. I also didn't make time for a pedicure before surgery so my feet and toes are less than lovely. I might be able to go get one done here sometime soon but obviously I can't do my own.

I did get my nails done last week!
OPI "Green on the Runway"

Lack of strength. One day, about a week after I got home from the hospital, Aaron called around lunchtime and said that he didn't know if he could get home to feed me. I said that was OK, that I thought I could make a smoothie for myself. We have a handy dandy NutriBullet, and everything was lightweight and within reach. Well, I made the smoothie with no problem, but I couldn't unscrew the container to be able to consume it. I had to text Aaron and ask him to just stop by and help. As Steph said, at least I got to third base with the smoothie.

Clothing. Until I'm told otherwise, I have to wear a surgical bra. I have two of them, so while one is in the laundry I can wear the other one. (Oh, that leads me to another thing: the need to do laundry nearly every day.) It's white and bulky, with thick velcro straps, and just not very flattering. Granted, it's still too early to even know what size bra to get but it drives me crazy just the same.

Sexy, right? (Also, upside down)

Missing out. This is becoming less of an issue, but I do still have to choose carefully what events I'm going to attend. I get tired easily and while I don't have "pain" pain, I am very sore. Last weekend was Comfest and we still had our annual brunch on Saturday. I parked myself in a chair while wearing a tiara and held court. Sunday I actually made it to the festival, but I may have overdone it a bit, as Monday was spent not moving a whole lot.

Things that don’t suck: Our friends. We had a lot of help Saturday both for the brunch and afterward, when some of the neighbors landed back at our place for a late dinner. And people always say we have great parties, but a big reason for that is the mix of people from different parts of our life who come together beautifully.

And then there was this. Allyson has a business called The Scrabble Chick. She makes jewelry using Scrabble tiles and normally she and her husband have a booth at Comfest but they didn't this year, so they were able to come to the brunch. Allyson gave me this bracelet:

In case you're wondering, the other side of the tile is a "G."

I cried. Aaron cried. She gave me some extras of the tiles so Aaron immediately put one on a chain and wore it around his neck. You can find The Scrabble Chick on Facebook and Etsy.

Linking up with Kathy
Vodka and Soda