mellicious: pink manicure (Black Widow)
I had a new icon yesterday and I have another one today. I saved a few more so you may see some more new ones, eventually. I go poking around in my icons every December, because I have so many I don't even know what all I have. They're kind of a record of my years at Livejournal, really - baseball, Buffy (TONS of Buffy), Harry Potter, m15m, WoW. Kingdom of Loathing - that last one goes back a while, especially. I've deleted a few over the years - usually the ones that I most rarely used, anyway - but there are still lots of old ones there. (I saw "NaBloPoMo 2007" for one, and I doubt that that's the oldest one still here, either.) The first one I remember having as my default was one of the m15m Harry Potter ones - I think it was Snape saying "sit down and shut up." Actually if you look at my userpics page, they seem to have the current default first and after that they appear to be chronological, so if I'm correct about that, the Snape one IS actually the oldest, or the oldest that's still there, at least.

Anyway, I don't see anything Marvel in my existing icons. I suppose it's been so long since I was really a regular poster here that it was mostly before Marvel became a big thing. But I have been doing movie posts all year and if you paid attention to that you might have noticed that the bulk of the movies I've seen this year were superhero movies - a few DC but even more Marvel. There's a post somewhere in there that talks about what I read as a kid (Wonder Woman) and didn't read (anything Marvel, really). (Here's that entry.) I got gradually more into the Marvel movies as they came out, and then - as I mentioned in that entry - I started playing the Marvel Heroes 2016 game this year and that really got me even more into it because I'm gradually figuring out big chunks of backstory. Anyway, I figured it was time I had a Marvel icon and so I went and poked around again and Natasha here was the first one I found that I really liked. (I can't make a habit of spending time looking for icons, though, I have enough time-sucking hobbies already without adding more.)

If I'd found a good Daredevil or Jessica Jones one first, though, you might be seeing that instead. (I did eventually find a couple of them but half of them were Luke/Jessica and I'm not into it far enough yet to be invested in those two as a couple.) We just re-started Netflix a month or so ago after a LONG hiatus - like, a couple of years - and the main reason we re-started it was for the Marvel stuff (and Stranger Things for Rob, but we haven't gotten around to that yet). We finally got through season 1 of Daredevil last night and we watched enough of Jessica Jones after that to determine that we did in fact want to watch it. I was pretty sure I would, but I wasn't sure about Rob - then once we got really rolling I realized that this is right the heck up Rob's alley. It's practically a horror movie, or at least it's creepy-as-hell suspense. Anyway, we're only two episodes in and we haven't even really seen David Tennant's face yet, but we're pretty into it. We're both off tomorrow so hopefully we can get at least one ot two more in.

(Have I ever mentioned that my mom thought when we first started dating that Rob was some kind of serial killer or something? Because he liked horror movies and stuff about Charles Manson. Heck, practically every guy my age likes that stuff. My mom had some weird ideas sometimes.)

I hear Daredevil season 2 is not as good as season 1, which is disappointing because I really, really loved season 1. We may watch season 2 eventually but I figured it'd be nice to see if we could catch up with at least Jessica Jones & maybe Luke Cage too before any more Defenders stuff comes out.


Holidailies - blue
mellicious: pink manicure (baseball - Kissimmee)
I looked and the movie Mary Poppins came out in 1964, and I think I may have seen it when it first came out - at least, I remember seeing it in a drive-in, and from the configuration in my head I think it was the one in the town where we lived when I was very small - and we moved away from there during 1964. (Then we moved back there again a few year later, but the moviegoing I remember from those later years was mostly indoors.) It probably wasn't the first movie I ever saw because I also remember seeing something with a lot of horses that didn't interest me very much - I suspect we had been several times by then. I think it's fair to say that the first memories I have of seeing movies are all at drive-ins. (They were popular back then, plus I suspect wrangling little kids was easier at a drive-in. If there was a regular indoor theater in my hometown then I have no memory of it.)

Music-wise, I looked up the Billboard list like I linked to yesterday, and it's no surprise that the top 2 songs are Beatles songs - I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You - because that was the year the Beatles hit the US in a big way. I can't say that I remember much about that at the time, although we watched The Ed Sullivan Show regularly when I was growing up so it's entirely possible I saw the episode they were on. If so it didn't make much of an impression.

Memory's a weird thing. The #3 song is Louis Armstrong singing "Hello Dolly," which I do have memories of from long ago - how long, not so sure. I think I remember hearing the Louis Armstrong version and maybe also the Carol Channing version long before the movie version where Barbara Streisand sang it (which makes sense), although Streisand was around by 1963 - her big hit from that year was "People" which I remember being everywhere, too. (This also seems like the time to say, since we're on the subject, that I did actually see Carol Channing in "Hello Dolly" much later, although I have no idea exactly when - possibly in the late 70s or early 80s. It was a touring version of the show in Houston. I suppose I could look and see if I have an old program for it - it's quite possible that I do - or even look it up online to see if I can figure out when it was, but I'm not going to do it right now.)
Songs like "House of the Rising Sun" and "Dancing In the Streets" are also from 1964 but I have no memory of hearing those until later - probably because I wasn't around any teenagers, at the time, except maybe the occasional babysitter. As I've said, my mom worked - for these first years of my life she taught first grade - and so we had a regular baby-sitter, a lady with teenage daughters so she was probably in her 30s at the time, or maybe early 40s. (Hmm, I forgot about those teenagers - if the daughters played any sort of music after they got home from school I don't remember it. I remember that I thought they were very glamorous, though!) We always called this babysitter "Nanny" although of course she wasn't a proper live-in Mary-Poppins sort of nanny - my mom just dropped us off at her house every day. Later when we moved back again, she was still our babysitter, but I was in school by then so I wasn't there as much. Her husband was a high-school teacher and used to come home for lunch, I remember, and they were sort of surrogate grandparents for us, like extended family. (The last time I saw them was when they came to my wedding in 1987, and I think they both died only a few years later.)

I've already told you the big event of my life in this year, that we moved, but actually we moved twice. Even the first time was a big deal to me because up to then we had been in the same little house all my life. First we moved into a nice new house where we were for my fourth birthday - and then only a couple of months later my dad got a sales job and got transferred to the Texas Panhandle. My parents sold the nice new house and we lived for the rest of that year in a rent-house in Snyder, Texas, which is a little town really out in the middle of nowhere as I remember it - although we loved one thing about Snyder, and that was that it had a prairie dog town right near where we lived - I mean, a fenced-off one for show. (You could also find wild ones without much trouble, I think, out in the country, in those days.) That school-year (64-65, that is) was the only year of my childhood that my mother didn't work - we moved too late for her to get a job. So we were very poor - relative to the rest of my childhood when we always had that double income, I mean - but she was home all the time, which we loved.

(This is one of those things where I'd like to quiz my parents on the sequence of events - did my dad know he was going to change jobs, or was that a sudden thing? Didn't he know there was a possibility that we'd have to move? It seems like a thing you'd want to know before you buy a house - but neither of my parents are around to ask any more so I just have to wonder.)

(I'm a day ahead on Holidailies already. I won't post this on #musicadvent until tomorrow, probably, or on the Holidailies portal, either, but I figure I might as well run with it while I'm on a roll. This burst of productivity will sputter out quick enough, I'm sure.)

Anyway, let's stick with Mary Poppins for today's music advent song. I promise I'm not going to do kids' songs through the entire 60s, though.
mellicious: pink manicure (xmas - merry & bright)
I had the most lovely dream about my mother the other day, that's kind of stuck with me. Half the time when I dream about my mother she's fussing at me, in that way that mothers do. But this was a dream about wandering around a museum. I think she just kind of turned up halfway through it, and we wandered around the museum and then went shopping. My mom was always big on shopping, and we did a lot of that, in real life. And we also did a lot of touristy things like museums. And this dream was kind of the best of that, and it was kind of holiday-themed, too, like there were Christmas lights everywhere. Really that was the best of my relationship with my mother, right there.

I've been kind of slacking on Holidailies. Actually I've been slacking on the holidays in general. I've got to do something about Christmas cards. I should probably do that tomorrow, because I don't have the work computer so I have sort of an unexpected day off. I should probably take advantage of that while I can! Other than cards, I'm basically ok on Christmas - I have the gifts I need to get and so forth. I talked to my aunt today and we're all set on the family stuff, so it's just cards that are an issue. We'll see what I manage to get done tomorrow.

(Also, if you're interested, you can hear all about my big box of nail polish that I got in the mail today!)

holi13badge-snowflake
holidailies.org
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (m15m - polarbear)
Sometime around 1990, my mother and I went to see the touring production of Les Miserables. And my mother hated it. Apparently she thought all musicals were supposed to be all sweetness and light and Rodgers and Hammerstein and so forth, and she didn't seem to have gotten a clue from the name, either. I loved my mother, but she had odd ways of thinking sometimes - sort of a mental block, I guess, that didn't let her change her mind about some things come hell or high water. And apparently this was one of those. The only part she liked was "Master of the House" because it was funny.

I thought of this because I more or less dragged Rob to see the movie today, and I was a little nervous about it. But he liked it. I was relieved. I was pretty sure he wasn't going to react like my mother did, but still. I didn't really think he would utterly hate it, but I didn't really expect him to actively like it, either. He even expressed willingness - unprompted - to go see it again later.

I was going to say more but I'm sleepy. Maybe tomorrow.
mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)
(The title is by way of a trigger warning, I guess. You can't say I didn't warn you.)

I was sitting in the bathtub earlier, thinking about what I was going to write an entry about - I was thinking about Livejournal keywords, to start with, but that will probably be a topic for another day, because my thoughts wandered then to my most-often-used keywords. I suspect that my actual most-often-used keyword might be "meme" although I haven't checked to see what LJ says (and the whole topic of memes might also be another topic for another day) - but certainly a couple of them, over the years, have been "family" and "mom." (My keywords are sort of partially broken, which was the original topic that I was thinking about - but that also means that the keywords you can see at the side of my page now are not necessarily reflective of what I was using back before they were broken.) I don't think I started using "mom" as a keyword until the last year or so of my mom's life, anyway, but if I had been using it every time I mentioned her over the years, it might be the top keyword hands down.

Background, for those of you who don't know this stuff already: my mom and I were really close. We made quilts together. I went over to her house just about every Saturday for many years - usually we had lunch and went shopping a bit and then worked on quilts, that was the normal itinerary, anyway. And well before I started journaling online, in 2001, she was diagnosed with cancer. Then in 2004 she was diagnosed with a different cancer (which might or might not have metastasized from the first one - that's never been clear). The second one was a brain tumor - I wrote a whole entry about the tumor one year as my introduction to Holidailies, which is partly why I assume that a lot of people know this story already. (It was an attempt at dark humor. I'm not real sure how successful it was.) Anyway, the brain tumor worsened kind of abruptly in the last part of 2006 and she died in early 2007 - and then I spent most of that year and into the next dealing with her estate, so that's another year-plus of mom-related entries. It's probably only after Hurricane Ike late in 2008 that I stopped talking about my mom constantly, one way or another.

My dad actually had cancer, as well, and it eventually killed him too, or so we think - he died last May of what was probably complications of prostate cancer. If you are a cancer patient and you die, it's assumed that the cancer killed you, not surprisingly, and autopsies are not routine, so nobody is really sure. My dad and I were not particularly close - his appearances in LJ tend to be more of the venting variety - and besides, by the time he was diagnosed, my mom already had the brain tumor and mere prostate cancer just could not compare. Back years ago when he had multiple-bypass surgery, I rushed to his side and hung around the ICU for days and all that kind of thing, so it's not that I entirely didn't care. But when you have a job and are 100 miles away, it's hard to hang around the hospital for months and years of radiation treatment. Both my parents were more into "years" territory there, and I didn't actually hang around for my mom's either, although I did go up to M.D. Anderson with her a few times. Luckily both of them had spouses/partners who were willing to shoulder the burden of the daily stuff, or I don't know what I'd have done. (I do have a sister, who was in another city altogether and was no help there. That's another topic that came up often in those years.)

So actually this is my first Christmas as an "orphan" - a 50-year old orphan, but an orphan nevertheless. I haven't spent Christmas with my dad for many years, and my mom has been gone for a surprising number of Christmases now - this will be six, I guess - so it doesn't make all that much difference, in an immediate sense. But it's still weird, no matter how old you are.


Added: I mentioned writing about my father in order to vent, and there's certainly a lot of that, if you poke around (some of the venting entries are still friendslocked but others are not), but I feel like I have to point out that I did my fair share of venting about my mom, back in the day, too. I adored her, but she was still my mom and she sometimes drove me crazy, as moms tend to do.
mellicious: pink manicure (winter berries)
I have said before that I usually get asked to bring the rolls (store-bought) to Christmas dinner, or fruit for a fruit salad. My aunt has told me before that this is because we live out of town, but my mom lived out of town too, and that didn't get her out of being asked to bring her famous gumbo to everything. (Which meant if you rode with her, you got to smell it for two or three hours, and half the time some of it would end up on the floorboard of the car. Ew.) So clearly, the real reason is not that I live out of town, but that I am famously not much of a cook. Somebody on some blog I was reading said lately that everybody bakes something at Christmas. Um, no. Maybe every five years I will get on a roll and bake cookies or something - and there was that time my mother guilted me into making fudge. (Actually I think she guilted me into making fudge twice. But it's no-bake fudge, anyway - the recipe is in that entry, if you're interested - so that's still not baking, technically.)

All that said, I am sort of baking something - or rather taking something that will be baked - to the family Christmas. But it's lasagna, of all things, rather than anything sweet. It's not actually for the big Christmas dinner; it will be eaten either Thursday night or Friday night. And I'm taking it assembled but unbaked, and we will bake it later. I've done that before, a number of years ago, and it worked out well. It's not actually that I can't cook, but that I don't usually bother. Rob and I don't really eat the same food (he lives on spaghetti and fish, generally) and we each cook our own, but for me that usually ends up being something frozen. I just don't care much about cooking, but when I bother to cook, I do pretty well at it. (As long as I set timers. I can burn anything.)



Linkage:
Possibly the funniest LJ thread I've ever read. I can't say I ever thought a whole lot about the lyrics to "Do You Hear What I Hear?" but I will now.

I thought everybody knew about the GOP military-funding filibuster, but TPM is treating it as news and TPM knows everything (politically speaking), so I guess not. Politically speaking, here's the question I want answered: what made Lieberman change his mind on the healthcare bill? It's very clear what made Ben Nelson change his mind, but I haven't heard a word about Lieberman. If I find out the answer to this, I'll report back.

I did find out the answer to why Al Franken has been presiding so much - he's the low man on the totem pole, so he gets the duty at fun times like the all-night sessions. (I knew he was the low man, of course, I just hadn't made the connection.)

Wow. I'm suddenly much happier that I've never been much of a Prairie Home Companion fan.
mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)

Ted's Stars
Originally uploaded by Mellicious.

I don't know if many of the people who read this have been around long enough to remember the days when my mom finished a quilt practically every week. It's been a couple of years now, although in 2005 she still managed to make a good many. Mostly her big productivity years were before the brain tumor announced its presence in the 2nd half of 2004. For the five years or so before that, she spent a really major amound of her time sewing. She gave a lot of them away, and she even sold some (mostly for far less than they were worth), but when we started pulling quilts out of the closet today, we pulled out nearly a dozen bed-size quilts that she had made. Seriously. And that wasn't counting the wallhangings and small quilts. We didn't even get to the closet upstairs where most of the smaller ones are.

The one in the picture took more than a week to make, I think. She called it "Ted's Stars" - I think because she was working on it when her brother Ted died in late 1999. I told my aunt (that is, Ted's widow) that she could have it - it's a good thing I didn't look at it before I told her that because I would've been tempted to keep it. It's prettier than I remembered it was.

As it is I am going to end up keeping more of them than I really have any use for, probably. There are some that I just won't be able to bear to get rid of, I think, and I don't think my sister will take more than a couple, although it's possible that she could fool me. (When I asked her about it she said, "Now I don't like anything that's the least little bit country..." Whatever.)

mellicious: pink manicure (me - age 4)

Mom on her deck, c.2005
Originally uploaded by Mellicious.



It occurs to me that most of you have probably never even seen a picture of my mother, and I came across this one. This was shortly before she got sick, I think.

Lists

Feb. 28th, 2007 10:33 pm
mellicious: pink manicure (Torchwood - 1899)
contents of Mom's wallet:


(What, did I just call you anal? Totally joking. I promise.)
mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)
Strangely, I am better today. Well, I suppose there could hardly be a worse day than yesterday (short of, y'know, a chance meeting with Ted Bundy or something), so it almost had to get somewhat better. Still, I seem to be ok. I may go back to being a basket case later, but for now, I am not too bad.

Even better, I don't have to do anything at all tomorrow. This is a luxury I never imagined having this weekend. (I'm really tempted to turn off both phones, too.)


The funeral is not till Wednesday. Some sort of problem with the church. I didn't realize until we were on the way home that that's Valentine's Day, but oh well (as I seem to be fond of saying lately). Luckily, V-Day was never my favorite holiday anyway. I am just a bit worried about the big flower arrangement I was going to get, given the timing, but I have put off thinking about it until Monday. By the time we got it all straightened out it was too late to do anything today. I was not intending to do red roses in any case, so surely they can find me something decent-looking.


Thanks everybody for the good wishes. I haven't made any attempt to reply, for the most part, but I read every one of them, and I really do appreciate it.


Oh, did I say that my mother apparently wanted to ban black from her funeral? (So my sister says, anyway.) This amuses me no end. I have a new black shirt I was intending to wear, but now I am really tempted to wear red. Or bright pink. We will see if I have the nerve.

Sigh.

Feb. 8th, 2007 10:23 pm
mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)
My mother died this afternoon. I got there with about an hour to spare. Nobody had called me to say she was worse, and so I was "dawdling" around (i.e., eating lunch, calling the lawyer, etc.) and I would have felt terrible if I hadn't gotten there in time. It wasn't a pretty thing to watch, though.

I am exhausted. The funeral home guys (who turned out to be girls, as a matter of fact) got caught in an especially horrid traffic jam and took a couple of hours to get there. In the meantime I talked to everybody in the world on the phone - at least it seemed like it. Let's see, it was: Rob, my aunt, my sister (both of those two were loong conversations, too), my dad, my dad again, my nephew and my ex-brother-in-law. Oh, and the funeral negotiator and the lady from the church. And then at least two people came in to see my mom, not having heard yet that she was dead. That was sort of traumatic. I spent the afternoon veering wildly between calm, weeping, and cracking bad jokes. But oh well.

I'm going to be interested to see how I manage tomorrow. Right now I just feel tired and sort of numb. I just hope I don't have nightmares about watching my mother struggle to breathe. Tomorrow: more phone calls, meeting with the pastor about the funeral, etc. Rob took off work, for which I am profoundly grateful. He can be my chauffeur; I don't really trust my driving right now.


I guess somebody probably ought to post something on the two forums - TOG and TUS - and explain what's happened. Col or Falaria, can one of you take care of TOG? And I asked Anth to post something at TUS because she had PMd me today, but if she hasn't in the morning, will somebody take over that duty? I have been playing GW in a desultory way since I got home - I had to do something! - but I haven't spoken to a soul. I didn't have the heart.

I don't think that many people who read this are close enough to consider coming, but the services are tentatively set for Tuesday, at the Lutheran church in Nassau Bay, Texas. I will know more tomorrow.
mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)
I really think there must be something in the water. Not only is Texas requiring the HPV vaccine (and even more surprisingly, offering to pay for those who can't afford it), but now Florida is abandoning paperless voting.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my mother's first round of cancer (diagnosed about 5 years ago, well before the whole brain tumor business) was apparently related to the HPV which my father gave her. So I take this whole vaccine thing a little more personally than I might otherwise.


I sat and held my mother's hand for a couple of hours this afternoon. She's pretty much completely nonresponsive, but they apparently have been getting a small amount of food into her, which is good. I am feeling really guilty about not being over there more, but the fact is that Art probably doesn't want me hanging around all the time, and I don't really want to be there all the time, so I really need to cut it out with the excessive guilt. At least I keep telling myself that. It's not doing too much good, though.

(Let me modify the above by saying that I already *am* planning on going to see my mother more in the time that she has left. What I am not currently planning on doing is, well, holding vigil, if you know what I mean. I don't think I could stand it. Although I don't know, I may change my mind when the time comes.)
mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)
Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Apparently Merck has been spreading its money around really wisely, because our ultraconservative governor just signed an order requiring girls to have the HPV vaccine before they can start 6th grade. Wonder how much of a shitstorm this is going to stir up.


There has been no further bad Mom news today, at least so far. Oh, I don't guess I told you guys yesterday's bad news, which was that she wasn't eating. The hospice nurse says unless she starts again, that means we have about 10 days. I probably should have gone up there this afternoon, because I have been having to restrain myself from calling to find out how she's doing. (Which would probably be fairly useless, because Art wouldn't be home and never keeps his cell phone on.) I am going tomorrow, anyway.

So (deep breath) we are now dipping our toes into the wonderful world of funeral planning. We have gotten as far as deciding on the basics: cremation, memorial service at her church, etc. She has a plot next to my grandparents, if we decide to bury her ashes, but it seems like something of a waste to me. We are going to see what options the cemetery will give us. (Apparently my grandfather gave very generously to the cemetery association, so hopefully they'll be appropriately grateful to his family.) I was thinking that planting a rosebush or something by my grandparents' grave and putting her ashes under it would be rather nice. Also, the hospice nurse gave us a phone number for a guy who negotiates with the funeral home for you, and I haven't called him yet, but I think I'm going to on Monday, because I sure don't want to be dealing with those people by myself. I told my boss that I was going to try to work half-time next week, depending on how things develop. I don't think I can just sit at Mom's bedside all day, anyway.

I think I (unwittingly) was very mean to my sister earlier - I had called and left a message, because I wanted to make sure she wasn't going to pitch a fit about the cremation thing, and when she called back I said what was on my mind about the funeral planning, and I forgot that she didn't know anything about the 10-day business or that we had started talking about funeral arrangements at all. She took it fairly well, but I think she's kind of quietly going crazy up there by herself. (And she was fine with the cremation. She said the same thing I always say, which is that embalming is gross. It's funny, now that she's been away from her superconservative ex-husband for a while, she's changed her tune about all kinds of things. I was afraid she would have some sort of objection of religious grounds or something.)
mellicious: pink manicure (Calvin - not fair)
On my way to see my mother this afternoon, the check engine light on my car came on, right smack on the very top of the causeway - meaning about as far from anywhere as you can manage to be in a mostly-urban area - and before I could get to a good stopping place, it was smoking like crazy. If the engine has not blown up again, I will be amazed.

But you know what? I don't care. That car had clearly outlived its useful life, and we will just have to get another one. One thing about it, I seem to be in the way of inheriting a bit of money soon. (Quite soon, I'm afraid.) I had them tow it back up to the dealer, and Rob came and got me, and we went by to see my mother and Art immediately volunteered the loan of the (other) Honda - the one that we're supposed to be giving to my sister, whenever she bothers to come down and get it - and so I have something to drive for the moment, and we'll worry about the rest later.

My mother is in what the hospice nurse described as a "semi-coma" - she is still eating, though, if somebody feeds her pureed-type stuff. Art had called and told me yesterday that she wasn't eating at all, and that sent me into a tailspin that lasted most of the day today. It turned out not to be quite as dire as he made it sound, but it's bad enough, I suppose. Last weekend when I went in, she didn't really acknowledge my presence but she held on to my hand really hard. Not now. She might have sqeezed it a tiny bit, or it might have been my imagination. I'm not sure. In any case, it wasn't much.

(Oh, and my aunt, with her usual sure sense of timing, picked today to e-mail me to talk about funeral arrangements. Gee, thanks.)
mellicious: pink manicure (me - age 4)
It's not good, as I expected. As a matter of fact, I correctly predicted more or less exactly what the doctor said. The weird thing about brain cancer is, you can see the effects plain as day. Art said she was starting to have trouble distinguishing letters and numbers when they were playing bingo. And her motor skills on her right side were getting worse. So to me that said that the tumor was mostly likely growing again, and I was right. And while the chemo she had after Thanksgiving seemed to help a little, it obviously did not have any really dramatic positive effects, and we already knew that that was pretty much the last-ditch effort as it was. So that means that we are out of options as far as any real treatment is concerned, and it's time for hospice. I thought they might keep her at MDA - I'm pretty sure they do have a hospice wing there - but they brought her back to The Pointe, which is where she has been, and that's probably best for all of us. Particularly Art, who goes to see her every day, and doesn't need the strain of the daily drive up to the Medical Center. The Pointe is only a couple of miles from the house. (Mom's, I mean, which is where Art is still staying.) And apparently what they do is they get the hospice people to come in and do their thing there. I don't think it's like with other kinds of cancer, though, where there's going to be a lot of drugs involved, because having your brain eaten away from inside is apparently not a painful process, at least not so far. And I have no idea how long they expect her to live, even now. Her oncologist has never been one to throw out numbers like that anyway, and I bet Art didn't get any out of him today - or at least if he did, he forgot to tell me. The hospice people will probably have a good idea, once they spend some time with her.

I cried some, but mostly I'm pretty calm. Dragging it out for months on end would be much worse than this. Up until a couple of months ago she was still fighting, and I was proud of her for fighting, but now I think she is done with that and ready to go.
mellicious: pink manicure (Happy NY - sparkly)

Not-so-tiny reindeer
Originally uploaded by Mellicious.


The picture is another one of the GuildWars Wintersday quests. You go around rescuing reindeer - there are 9 of them, all identical. Then there's another quest later where you find out that one of the reindeer is named Rudi and his nose mysteriously glows when he gets near presents. (You have to give them extra credit for the realistic-looking reindeer, don't you think?)

I am home for New Year's Eve, and that's where I'm staying. I don't enjoy going out and braving the drunks. I am drinking a coke-with-a-splash-of-vodka, and when I finish this I will probably go back to farming for candy canes in GW, and that will about be it for my big celebration. (I will probably watch Anderson Cooper later. Woo.)

I went over to my mom's earlier - to her house, actually, for the first time in over a month. Art brought her home for the afternoon, and we decided that we will start doing that once a week for now. She didn't seem all that excited to be home, to tell you the truth, but at least it was something different.

We ate pizza and watched football while we were there. The Texans won, giving them six whole wins for the year. Last year they had two, so that was a big improvement. The Longhorns ended up winning yesterday, too, so it was a fairly good football weekend, although the fact is that I forgot to turn the Longhorn game back on after we got home, so I completely missed the big comeback.

I don't do resolutions, incidentally, because I never ever keep them when I make them, so you are spared having to read that. I have no particular desire to go over the year in any detail, either. It wasn't that great of a year. So let's just hope 2007 is better for everybody!




Holidailies gold

mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas excess)
I made a list this morning at 5:00 when I couldn't go back to sleep.

(This is not all stuff that had to be done today.)

1. Pick up packages at office. (I can't believe I was home all day for two days and forgot about this!)
2. Get gift for Alison
3. Wrap presents
4. Call my aunt - ask if there's anything I should bring (and tell her we're definitely coming)
5. Barb - lunch with Bridget?
6. Kaffe Fassett book for Mom
7. Make fudge for Mom
8. Go to Sam's & get Band of Brothers for Daddy
9. Figure out if there's any gifts I'm forgetting.

Things to buy:
Wreckers CD for Alison
cough drops
tea
stuff for fudge?
gift certificates: Parker, Art, Barbara?

Let's see, #1 is done - Rob picked me up at the front of the hospital so that let us get home a little earlier than we have been. The problem there is that the office closes at 5:30 on weekdays in the winter and it's hard for us to get home in time. I believe we had six packages waiting. Or it may have been 7. Amazon, Amazon, Amazon, Hancock's of Paducah (quilt shop), Exposures (photo doodads), and, uh, I forget what else. Maybe more Amazon.

One Amazon package was a book for my mother, and the quilt stuff was for her, too, which is good because Amazon screwed up the order I placed this morning and sent it regular shipping instead of two-day. Idiots. I sent them an indignant e-mail, now I'm going to be interested to see if they fix it.

#2, the Wreckers CD for my co-worker Alison, was a bit of a problem because Wal-Mart didn't have it - maybe I should've expected that since it's not new and not a huge best-seller. But I think I fixed that by buying an iTunes gift certificate instead, because I know they have it. I downloaded one of the songs off of it a while back. (And I didn't like it that much, actually, but that's Alison's problem.) Anyway, that one I did have to do today because we're exchanging gifts at lunch tomorrow, tomorrow being the last day we're working this year. (Hooray for that!) We go back on the 2nd.

3 & 4 on the list, I haven't touched yet. Actually, most of the numbered part I haven't. We did have lunch today with my ex-co-worker Bridget, which I enjoyed, somewhat to my surprise. (Long story, about exactly why I was surprised about that. I'm not going there tonight.)

I bought most of the other stuff on the list, except I didn't get all the fudge ingredients. I know I'm going to be going back to Wal-Mart at least one more time anyway, so I'm not worried about that. I got Wal-Mart gift certificates for my nephew Parker (he buys video games with them) and for Art (I don't know what he buys, but it's his preferred gift) but not for Barbara, my stepmother. She might be okay with a Wal-Mart gift card but I thought I would go for something a little more classy. Macy's, maybe, that's pretty safe. I still don't feel like I know her all that well.

So basically I'm down to loose ends, for the most part. Daddy and Barbara's gifts, but I'm not going to see them until up in the week next week. (I did talk to my dad today, and we couldn't even decide on a day, yet. "End of next week" was the closest we got.) Oh, I know one thing I forgot to put on the list - I have to go to Houston Garden Center and buy my aunt Linda a rosemary tree to take up there as a gift from my mom. it's funny, as sick as my mom is, she still manages to be demanding as hell from time to time. She demanded that I buy Linda AND myself one, actually. I will decide if I want one when I see them. I may ignore that part of the command if I don't like the way they look. (Also, it's going to be a very fragrant ride to Bryan with a rosemary tree in the car.)


I did actually feel pretty decent all day today. Didn't sneeze, didn't even cough much. Yay for small miracles.


Holidailies gold
mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas - purple star)
I have not wanted to think much about Christmas itself - about gifts, to be specific. I bought several online and I know what I'm buying for some of the others, but I haven't wanted to actually go deal with buying things in person. I suppose at some point in the next week I'll go into panic mode and go get it done. I was intending to ask for a day off, or at least half a day, to do that sometime next week, but after I took half a sick day yesterday that's not seeming like such a good idea. (And we are off Friday, anyway. I can shop Friday if worse comes to worst.)

My mother's 20 days of rehab that Medicare is paying for are up sometime next week, too, and so we will have to make some sort of decision about that. I guess I will talk to Art about it tomorrow. I can't see that she is in good enough shape to go home. So I might end up having to take off an afternoon or something next week to go deal with all that, anyway. Maybe I can work some shopping in, if I have to go to Clear Lake anyway!

Mom and Art are apparently talking about going to Art's son's house for Christmas dinner - if they do that Rob and I may go up to my aunt's for one night, go up Christmas Eve and come back Christmas day. That's where I would prefer to be, because it just seems more like Christmas with the kids around and family and everything. I would rather Mom came too, but I don't think that's possible, so if she has somewhere else to go and she won't be sitting around the nursing home, then that might be the best possible division of things at this point, I think. The fact is, she doesn't seem to have much sense of time any more, anyway, so it doesn't matter so much to her.


I am feeling a little better today - just mostly very tired. I still have cold symptoms, of course, but not near as bad as yesterday.


Holidailies gold
mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas - pink aluminum)
I have started "preparing" for Christmas - that is, the tree is out of the closet and so are the ornaments, and I've addressed a lot of Christmas cards already - but I have no idea what we will be actually doing for Christmas. Last year was like this too. As I said yesterday, for some reason these things always seem to happen around this time of year. Last year my mother spent just about all of December in the rehab hospital (a different one, actually) and apparently this year is going to be about the same. A couple of weeks ago when my mother seemed really out of it, I was thinking that, well, we might just go up to my aunt's for one night and try to have a normal Christmas. But now my mother seems somewhat more herself, so I can't see leaving her in that case. Obviously we're going to have to play it by ear.

Last year we checked my mom out of the rehab hospital for the day, had lunch somewhere (Kelley's? Luby's? I forget) and went back to her house and opened presents. The year before that we went to Austin to my sister's and it was relatively normal on the surface, but we had the prospect of mom's surgery already hanging over our heads, and also Paula already knew that she was about to leave her husband, so things were definitely somewhat strained, although we ended up enjoying that Christmas, for the most part. Then there was the year - which one was that? - that my mother had a radiation treatment on Christmas Eve. (That was her first bout of cancer, which was unrelated to this one. It must've been 2001 or so.) And before that there was the year - 1999, it would've been - that my uncle was in the hospital at Christmas, and died a few days later. Really, it seems like there hasn't been a "normal" Christmas in my family for years and years.


(Later) We went to see my mom this afternoon, and - I'm almost afraid to say these words - she seemed better. Is it too early to think the chemo could be working? The oncologist did say we would see results (or not) fairly quickly, but three days? It may just be the good effects of lots of rehab in the last week, but still. She's moving her right side much better. Lately she hadn't been wanting to move her right arm or leg much at all.

The place she's in is kind of a hoot, and not really in a good way. I mean, it's nice enough, but it's entirely different from the rehab hospital she was in last year (which is just down the road from this one). That one was purely a rehab hospital, and this one is a rehab hospital AND nursing home, and boy, does the difference show. It's probably more noticeable on Saturday afternoon - probably the peak for visitors - when there were rows of little old ladies in wheelchairs parked in the lobby. (Or maybe they're there all the time. I don't know the answer to that one yet.) And some of her neighbors in the 300 hall engaged in a screaming match while we were there. I don't mean they were screaming at each other, either; they seemed to just be randomly screaming. First one and then another, like it was a contest. They didn't seem to have any particular purpose or be in pain or anything - it seemed more like a way to amuse themselves and maybe get some extra attention. Very weird.


 Holidailies gold

Astro-what?

Dec. 2nd, 2006 01:17 am
mellicious: Retro Houston Astros logo (Astros - retro)
By way of writing something introductory for Holidailies: since I am always talking about my mother and her brain tumor these days, hey, let me introduce you!

My mother is named Billie. The tumor is called an astrocytoma, which I always thought was a little bit ironic, considering that we live in the Houston area, where the names of all sorts of things start with "astro" - Astrodome, Astroworld (now late and lamented), the Houston Astros, and so forth. And of course all of those names come from the astronauts, who all live generally in my mother's neighborhood, since they train at the Johnson Space Center, less than a mile from her house. That prefix "astro" is all tied up with Houston being "Space City" and all that kind of thing so the connotations for us are usually positive. But not in this case.

Well, anyway, the astrocytoma became part of our lives a little over two years ago now. The first symptom - although nobody figured it out at the time - was that she suddenly lost the hearing in one ear. And I do mean it about suddenly, as in, she was walking through Wal-Mart one day, and poof! it was gone. The doctors were baffled. They did do an MRI at the time, but nothing showed up, and they told her to get another one in six months.

Then, a bit later, came the seizures. These started - naturally - just before she was due to go back in for the six-month MRI. The first diagnosis was a stroke, so at the time, the possibility that it could be a brain tumor rather than a stroke didn't sound so bad. Brain tumors are benign sometimes, after all.

It wasn't benign, although it took an awful long time for anybody to tell us that for sure. It's not an unusual type of cancer, apparently, but up until we got to the big cancer center in Houston, people acted like it was something they'd never seen before. The neurologist who did the initial biopsy sent it off to Harvard to be diagnosed, like he'd never ever seen such a thing before! Finally, my sister made a lot of phone calls and got my mother in to be seen at M.D. Anderson, where they have people on staff who specialize in these kinds of things. (Two years in, I gripe a good bit about M.D. Anderson and their neverending bureaucracy, but they are the #1 or #2 cancer center in the world - depending on who you ask - and they have that reputation for a very good reason. They know their stuff.)

So meet the astrocytoma. It's called a grade 3 astrocytoma in this case - in grade 4 it morphs into another thing altogether, a thing called a glioblastoma, which is very nasty and aggressive and you REALLY don't want that one in your brain. But there was no sign of that. Mom had grade 3, which  isn't any piece of cake, either - it's not as aggressive, but it doesn't just go away, either. It may go dormant for a while, but once it's there, it's there, like a little time-bomb in your brain.

They decided to do surgery even though it was in a delicate part of her brain to mess around with, near her speech center. But the surgeons thought that they could get the bulk of the tumor out without doing serious damage, and they did. She had some problems talking - she said it was God punishing her for talking too much all her life. (Very religious, my mother is. But not in an obnoxious way.)

Then a year ago (I don't know why this stuff always happens in the fall), something new showed up on her MRI. And this time when they did a biopsy, something went wrong. They've never been really clear on what - if they even know. Bone fragments, necrosis, I don't know, but something is interfering with the things that matter. Not just her speech, but her whole right side of her body, as if she had a stroke after all. (Although she didn't; they checked for that.) Things have just gotten worse and worse all year, and I don't know what's going to happen now. My mother's a trooper, though, she just keeps going and never complains. Well, except she was mad that she couldn't come to Thanksgiving dinner with us, as she was in the hospital at the time. Poor thing.


Holidailies gold

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