Monday, February 16, 2009

The Colors That Bind and Post Number 500

Picking the right colors for a 1928 Tudor-style home can be trickier than finding the right doctor. In this photo, taken after we shaved the ivy, you can see the dirty pink chimney color choice of the previous owners.

Two years ago, I became an official member of the "cancer club." We're a tight-knit group with our own secret language and handshakes.

But I've just discovered that I'm a member of an even more exclusive group. And, no, this has nothing to do with those whacky EOS counts or the even more obscure cutis laxa. I'm a member of the Tudor-style home paint club.

Two weeks ago, I got long overdue quotes to have the exterior of our house painted. I swore that I would not go through the same agonizing process that I did ten years ago - collecting color swatches from seven major paint stores, purchasing at least a dozen quarts of paint, trying 36 color combinations, asking for input from a half dozen friends and color experts and, ultimately, making the wrong decision.

This time, I decided to play the game of color copy cat in Pasadena and San Marino. If I found a Tudor paint scheme that pleased me, I got out of the car and approached the owner.

At the first house, a friendly gentleman with a pick axe was doing yard work. When I asked about the paint colors, he said that his wife was the expert, poked his head into the front door and yelled up for her. "Donna, you've got to come down right now," he screamed up to the second story. His frazzled bride came running down, afraid that disaster had struck.

I introduced myself, and we had an animated ten-minute chat about the Tudor's soft paint color palette. I asked if she minded if I snapped a few photos, clicked away and then hopped into my energy-efficient car. As I drove away, she pointed to her own Prius in the driveway and yelled out, "We have good taste!"

I was off to the estate area of San Marino, "north of the Drive," near Huntington Botanical Gardens, where I'd admired another Tudor color scheme in kinder, gentler tones than our dark, traditional home. The house keeper answered the door and told me that she would ask "Mr. Harry" to call. I left my phone number and my town, Altadena, because I didn't want him to think that a nearby home was trying to duplicate his look. "I'll never hear from him," I thought, but two hours later I received a call from the Lord of the Manor.

What is there about paint colors that make me bold, able to approach any house in any neighborhood, confident that I'll receive the answers I crave? What makes the owners so eager to spill their color guts to a stranger? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know that our house is going to be the "mini-me" of a San Marino estate home.

Cancer Banter began nearly two years ago on February 27, 2007, and this is my 500th post. Never mind that at least 50 of those have been pleas to read my Open Mouth, Insert Fork blog. If you've been a Cancer Banter lurker, this would be a good excuse for you to come out of hiding and leave a comment.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cancer makes you brave

Is it true that cancer makes you brave, even after treatment is over?

Maybe it's because of all of those "You are so brave and courageous" notes I received during treatment. Like a fledgling Hollywood actress, I may have fallen into the trap of believing my own press.

Maybe, but I think that illness and cancer force many of us to ask, "What's the worst thing that can happen?" When the answer is humiliation, heartbreak or failure and not death, well, shucks, anything seems doable.

BC (before cancer) would I have enrolled in an improv class? Hell, no. But when I "won" a class, donated by Bobbi Oliver, at the Hillsides Volunteer League's annual silent auction at Pasadena's Ice House, I signed up. And then I actually went to class.

One of the first lessons by our instructor, veteran improv teacher John Fontaine, was, "Don't worry about doing it well. Just do it." It's surprisingly liberating to hear these words. When I fail to follow them and try to be funny, I flounder, flop or freeze. When I pull a Nike and just do it, it somehow works. Sometimes.

I've gone from having hives to having fun. And there's nothing like the little high I get after I realize I've nailed a scene.

I'm still working on that one-woman show (Big C, Little C) and hope that this class will help my stage presence, confidence and timing. I'm even thinking about signing up for Bobbie's stand-up comedy class. Now that scares me. But not to death.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stew on this

You know life is good when I use my Cancer Banter blog to redirect folks to my food blog.

Here we go again: Open Mouth, Insert Fork features a recipe for never-fail beef stew.

Life is good, and this stew is even better.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Eating Good and Eating Well

Somewhere along the line, foods that are good for you got a bad rap. "Eat this. It's good for you," is about as enticing to a child as saying, "Watch this documentary. You might learn something." Watching and eating something just because it's good for you are not the point.

But what if we can have food that tastes good and is good for us?

It's not only possible, it's easy.

When I started chemo almost two years ago, I concentrated on eating "nutrient dense" foods. I almost lost the good habits I established when I was eating to gain weight last summer and fall. Now I'm back to eating good and eating well. (When I'm not pigging out on BLATs, that is.)

Read more about the 11 Foods I AM Eating at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Almost good for you

Wanna' know one of the healthiest ways to raise your cholesterol? Try a bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich (BLAT).

The tomato, avocado and romaine lettuce are rich in vitamins and minerals, as is the 7-grain bread I use.

There's just that little matter of the bacon. Read more at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life is just a bowl of lemons

I love the pitcher, shaped like an Erlenmeyer flask. Perfect for meyers lemonade.

Why is it
that we always want what we don't have? Or is it just me?

When I had straight hair, I wanted curly hair.

I have curly hair now (thanks to chemo), and I long for straight hair.

When I'm skinny, I want to gain weight.

After I've gained weight, I want to lose it.

When it's cold, I wish it was warm.

When it's warm, as it has been for weeks, I dream of nights by a roaring fire.

Today, I felt a rare emotion: perfect contentment. With my weight, my hair and, best of all, this glorious balmy Southern California weather. Instead of fighting it, I squeezed lemons and sipped lemonade while watching the birds and the bees in the back yard.

Read more at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.