Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By popular demand . . .

Betty, wearing her favorite pink dress, attempts to escape the paparazzi.

Betty: Does this make my hips look big?
Susan: I can't like to you, Betty. . .

Betty and the entire Carrier household wish you all a very happy, healthy, humiliation-free 2009!

(Actually, if we don't have at least one humiliating experience, maybe we're not taking enough risks.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You look healthy

I giggled yesterday after my doctor told me, "You look healthy."

Of course, he couldn't understand why this remark was funny. I explained that I was used to the social hyperbole of "You look great" or "You look fabulous," but lately friends have been commenting, "You look well" or "You look healthy." The funny thing is that I love it when friends tell me I look well, because I know that I didn't look or act that way a few months ago.

I not only look well, I look normal - not like someone who battled cancer. Not like someone who was laid low by eosinophils. Not like a 105 pound weakling who passed out on the way to the bathroom.

At a Hanukkah party on Saturday, our gracious host introduced me to a guest wearing a fashionable turban, but I knew right away that the head covering was more than a fashion statement. The host added, "I think you two have something in common." I don't think anyone else would have noticed, but I saw her face twitch. We both wanted to be happy revelers stuffing our faces with latkes and apple sauce, not patients comparing treatments. I made an excuse and then slipped away to fill my plate with freshly fried potato pancakes.

Normal. Well. Healthy. Not long ago I would have chafed at the thought of anyone using these boring words to describe me, but now they're music to my ears.

"You look fabulous," my doctor teased as I left the exam room. That sounded pretty good too.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mutts Like Me

Photo of Betty (half Aussie, half Welsh) by Skye

President-elect Barack Obama has made it cool to be a racial mix, or, as he calls it, a "mutt."

What's not cool is the difficulty that bi- and multi-racial patients have in finding a bone marrow match. Just ask Ann, a hapa (half Asian, half Caucasian) who just completed her second life-saving bone marrow transplant. Or talk to Krissy, another hapa, who's still searching for her match.

Read more about mutts and marrow in this opinion piece that appears in Sunday's Pasadena Star News (as well as sister papers, Whittier Daily News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune.)

If you're a minority (black, Latino, Asian, Native American) or racially mixed, contact A3M (Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches) in Southern California or AADP in Northern California to find a drive near you. Or, go to the website for the National Bone Marrow Registry and sign up online or find a drive near you.

You could end up being the life-saving match for someone - maybe even a mutt like Obama or me. How cool would that be?

Friday, December 26, 2008

One degree of se-purr-ation

Bob, Puss's former owner, danced with Eartha Kitt when she was a member of the Katherine Dunham dance troop. Both Bob and Eartha died from cancer at age 81.

Puss has nine lives to go.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas

Raindrops are falling, logs are burning and the monkey bread is up to its business in the oven.

Wishing you all a very merry!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cookies and sprinkles and icings, oh my!

Cynthia created this beautiful "pretty in pink" angel cookie. Leave it to my fashionista to make a Christmas cookie stylish and sexy. Note the highlighted hair, the heels and the plunging neckline.

Two days before Christmas, and I'm finally getting into the spirit. Find out how we made these beautiful cookies at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The lazy food blogger makes butternut squash and sweet potato gratin

I swear I must be the laziest food blogger in the world wide web. After Pinch My Salt posted her recipe for butternut squash and sweet potato gratin, she received loads of comments from fellow bloggers and cooks who tried and loved the recipe. Not one of them whined about the sweat-inducing labor of working with butternut squash or the tedium of stripping the tiny leaves from a sprig of thyme. The first time I made this dish I swore, "Never again."

But then I tasted it and two weeks later I was back to whittling butternut squash and stripping those pesky leaves from the thyme branch.

Yes, it's that good. Find out how to make this at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Tradition - Caramel Popcorn

Find out how we make our family favorite caramel popcorn at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

As a matter of fact, I think I'll go indulge in some right now to celebrate my clean scans.

Funny Little Butterflies

They're wreaking havoc in my stomach this morning because today's an "envelope day," when I find out the results of my PET and CT scans at the City of Hope. I'll also find out what those whacky eosinophils have been up to.

I'll post after my appointments this morning.

UPDATE: Hurrah! The scans are clean; I'm still in remission.

We're still waiting for the lab results of what's called the eosinophil (EOS) differentials and should have them back tomorrow. If we find that the EOS are on the rise, we'll develop a plan.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Quest for the Imperfect Purse

Because of the tag line on this blog, I'm frequently asked, "Have you found the perfect purse?" or "Is that the perfect purse?"

The answer is always, "No, but I'm still on a quest."

I did, however, find an imperfect purse recently.

I discovered this vintage crocodile handbag at Hughes Estate Sales in Altadena. Doors open at 8:00 am for the once-a-month warehouse sale, but dealers and civilians start lining up a half hour earlier. It was handbag love at first sight, and I grabbed it without a moment's hesitation.

The imperfect purse

What made it irresistible? The fine crocodile leather, the exquisite craftsmanship, the leather lining, the brass top closure and hardware, the classic shape (which reminds me of the handbags in my sidebar). It is in impeccable condition, but has a faint smell of my Grandma Opal. I think the scent is a combination of stale Clove gum, pressed face powder and old pennies.

What makes it imperfect? It's too formal to carry every day; it looks a little out of place with blue jeans or yoga pants. It truly is a "handbag," designed to be clutched in hand or dangled on the lower arm, not the shoulder. No, it's not the perfect purse, but it's a classic that I'll keep forever.

And at $60, it was a steal. It's similar to this one pictured at left, available online for a starting bid of $250. Even the lining and inside compartments are identical to mine. Another look alike I found online is selling for 350 pounds.

I'm quite happy with my new handbag, even though it's not the perfect purse. I just ask one favor. If you see me carrying it, resist the urge to chant, "Here comes the doctor. Here comes the nurse. Here comes the lady with the alligator purse."

Do you also think of Ruth Buzzi's character on Rowan and Martin's Laugh In when you hear the word "handbag"? It was the ultimate weapon of male destruction.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

When you're too thin, nobody wants to hear about it

My first-person essay about my struggles with losing and gaining weight will appear in print in the Health section of the LA Times on Monday, or you can read it online here.

UPDATE: Sorry - the essay did not appear in the print edition, but you can still read it online.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Driving for Noodles

Instead of an "I brake for yard sales" bumper sticker, I think I need one that says, "I drive for noodles." Especially Japanese noodles.

I recently drove to Gardena for a bowl of chubby Japanese udon noodles at Sanuki No Sato. Read about it at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's that time of year.

It's a busy time of year - with lots of hustle and bustle, greeting and eating, shopping and dropping.

On Saturday night, I agreed to be the "pinch hit" hostess for a dinner party for eight after the original hostess sprained her leg. You can read about the signature Winter Delight Salad I prepared at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

It's also that time of year when I'm busy at the City of Hope with six-month CT and PET scans, my quarterly infusion of Rituxan and follow-up appointments.

I'm gradually tapering off the Prednisone (down to 10 mg every other day), and I'm already starting to experience the same GI symptoms that were prevalent when my eosinophil (EOS) levels began to rise in May. I'll have a blood test on Monday, December 15, to confirm if those whacky EOS are once again on the rise. As we learned the hard way, out-of-control EOS can make me very, very sick, so it's important to rein them in right away. Like diabetes, hyper eosinophilic syndrome (HES), is controllable, but it's a lifelong challenge.

One good thing is that my preoccupation with my EOS levels (along with the hustle bustle of the season) have taken my mind off the possibility of a relapse of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)