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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If It Ain't Broke.....

There seems to be a growing trend in the snack world, and I, for one, wish it would stop.  I’m referring to ‘seasonal’ flavors.  The worst variant of this, in my opinion, is seasonal flavors of seasonal treats.  Case in point:    
candy corn disguised as s’mores.

Who doesn’t love candy corn?  It’s always been one of my favorite fall treats, sometimes mixed with peanuts for a sweet/salty taste, but just as good straight from the bag.  So why mess it up?  Now, I didn’t care for the s’mores flavor of these, so right there it’s got a strike.  It didn’t taste like s’mores at all. There wasn’t even a hint of chocolate flavor,  so that’s another strike.  Why bother changing the flavor of something if you can’t get it right?    Not to mention: to me, s’mores is a campfire treat, and camping is a summer activity.  Yet these babies didn’t hit the shelves, here at least, until September. So again, I ask:  why bother?

Now, s’mores is not the only “new” variety of candy corn available this fall.  This one was also offered:

The flavor of these was good, but again, not all that “pumpkin-y” to me.  I thought they tasted a lot like a molasses cookie.  Which brings me to my next point: okay, these taste good, but if I’m craving pumpkin (or molasses cookie, for that matter) wouldn’t it make more sense to just get a pumpkin treat?  There is no shortage of pumpkin flavored bakery this time of year.  Muffins, cookies, bars with rich cream cheese frosting… really, why would I buy fake pumpkin flavored candy when I could have a real pumpkin treat?

The candy corn division at Brach’s is not alone in their quest to screw up perfectly good candy.  M&M’s and Hershey’s Kisses have been offered in seasonal flavors for a couple years now.   When I see them, I buy a bag to bring into the office so we can try it and complain about how we really wish the candy companies would just leave well enough alone.  I have yet to find a seasonal variety that is really, really delicious.  Which is probably a good thing, because most of these are a “one and done” offering, meaning, next year they’ll be replaced with a different variety.

Now, chips are a whole ‘nother story.  I don’t buy a lot of chips, but a couple years ago Dortios came out with a cheeseburger flavor that I brought home for Walker.  I made the mistake of trying one, and, omg, it was nummy!  Tasted JUST LIKE a Big Mac, right down to the hint of pickle.  I think I ate most of that bag, and bought several more before the “limited time only” ran out.   I really wish they would bring those back, but it’s probably better for me if they don’t.  These, on the other hand, are just icky:

The real kicker, though, is the Oreos.  Apparently, the Oreo folks caught wind of the candy corn situation, and decided to offer up their own solution:


Monday, September 16, 2013

Ask and You Shall Receive ~

I'm teaching Diva how to use my camera.  She was wandering around the yard taking photos here and there.  Eventually, she snapped a couple of the flag, but there was no wind so in the photos, it's just kind of hanging there. I told her, "Ask Grampa Al in Heaven to send you a breeze so the flag opens up," but she gave me the stink eye so I asked him myself. Immediately, the wind picked up, the flag opened, Diva's eyes got big, she ran over there and - ta dah! She got her shot. Grampa always did enjoy flying the flag ~

Friday, September 13, 2013

In Other News....

First, THANK YOU, all, for your support and words of encouragement.  It means more than you can know.  That last post was tough to write, tougher still to publish, but I'm glad I did.  Thank you, thank you. I feel better when I stick to a routine, so I'm going to try to post more regularly.  On that note.....
I decided, back in May, to remodel my kitchen.  It’s not horrible but the dishwasher is on its last legs, and it’s a smaller-than-standard model with no room to install a bigger one.  Plus the veneer is coming loose on some of the cabinetry, and the counter top is warped over the stove.  There are a few other issues, too.  Little things, but lots of little things, so it was time.

I contacted my carpenters, the team who did the updates in my living room last year, and they stopped over to take measurements and discuss what I wanted to change.  A couple days later, they sent me a computer generated image of what we discussed, and I gave the go-ahead to get started.  The first step was to have new light fixtures installed by an electrician, and that turned out to be a royal pain in the butt.

It cheeses me more than I can say to make an appointment with someone, only to have them stand me up.  No phone call, nothing.  If you don’t want my business, just say so, and we can both move on.  But they don’t do that.  Around here, it’s a problem with all the trades, not just electricians.  Plumbers have been even worse.   Compound that with the fact that I work nights, and often have to set my alarm to get up after very little sleep to keep these appointments, and you can imagine how irritated I get when it turns into a no-show.

I let the carpenters know that they would have to bump us down on their schedule, and kept trying.  Finally, at the end of July, I got ahold of a reputable electrician who  happened to have a small window in his schedule, just long enough to install some lights and add a couple wall outlets.  While he was taking care of that, I went to a supply place and chose my cabinets and flooring – on sale, no less!  Then I started packing up, so as soon as the cabinets came in the carpenters could get to work.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  When we bumped the carpenters, they started  a job that turned out to be a lot more involved than originally anticipated.  It’s looking like they won’t be able to get to us until the last week in October.   Meanwhile, my kitchen now looks like this:  

Holes in the ceiling ~

Holes in the walls.  Sigh.

Monday, September 9, 2013


So here it is....the entry I never wanted to post.  I've written and deleted it about a hundred times this year, for a couple reasons.  For one thing, I was raised not to whine, and no matter how I try to word this, in my head, it sounds whiny. For another, I KNOW that I got off easy on the whole cancer thing.  To say now that even though I'm healthy, I'm struggling, well, it just seems wrong.  Ungrateful, somehow.  Because it could have been so, so much worse.  Because not everyone gets better.

And yet:  I am struggling.

For anyone who might not know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of August in 2010.  The following month, I had surgery to remove four tumors, and when my incisions healed I had 35 radiation treatments.  I didn't need chemotherapy and I was able to keep working full time through the treatments, though at times it was difficult.  I finished radiation on December 23, 2010.  That same day, I started taking the hormone Tamoxifen, a course of treatment that is often prescribed for five years following breast cancer.  If you can make it the full five years on Tamoxifen, your chances of recurrence are greatly reduced.

At first, Tamoxifen caused some mild stomach irriation and hot flashes, but that went away and I got along pretty well.  Every now and again, the hot flashes would come back for a few weeks at a time, but they weren't too bothersome.  Last year, around the holidays, they came back worse than ever, but mostly just at night, so my doctor gave me a medication called gabapentin, to help with the flashes so I could sleep.  It works well, but I have to get at least eight hours of sleep or I feel loopy and hung over the next day.  So I don't take it every night.  Around that same time, however, I started noticing other things going on.  For one thing, I suddenly became much more emotional.  Pretty much anything could make me cry.  Walker said I was crabby, so he started spending more time away from home.  In February, when my beautiful friend Cheri lost her own battle with cancer, I just kind of fell apart. 

As days passed, then weeks, and I could not shake my blue mood, I went back to my oncologist.  I've heard from other Tamoxifen patients that it can cause these types of emotional side effects, but my doctor didn't think that was happening in my case.  He felt I had seasonal affective disorder brought on by our unusually long, cold, dark winter.  He recommened that I get a full spectrum lamp and use it for thirty minutes a day.  So I did.  In fact, I got two, one for my home and one for my desk at work.  It didn't seem to help much.  He offered me antidepressants, but I refused them.  According to what we discussed, I am not clinically depressed.  And I have had family members experience suicidal thoughts when taking antidepressants, so I am saving medication as an absolute last resort.

As winter dragged on, and on, and on, things deteriorated at home.  Walker was unbelieveably supportive through the cancer treatment, but now.....I think he's just at a loss.  He can't fix it, and it's looking like nobody else can, either.  So he avoids it.  If he sees tears, he leaves the room.  If I get crabby, he leaves the house.  I don't blame him, but knowing he'll take off if I'm not having a *good* day means that I hide my emotions from him.  Over the summer, I'd have a string of *good* days and think, yay, finally!  I'm over the worst of it, life will get back to normal now.....but then pretty soon, the anxiety and moodiness would return.  The only thing that really seemed to help was exercise, lots of it, and outdoors as much as possible.  I logged a LOT of miles on my bicycle.  When the incredible heat of August blew in, I took to riding my bike before dawn, holding a flashlight in one hand.  I would ride and ride, til the sun came up, and go home exhausted, sleeping through the heat of the day.  I went to another oncologist, just to see if there would be a difference of opinion that would lead to another treatment option, but I was told that at my age and stage of life, even if it was determined that Tamoxifen is behind these issues, there is no other drug I can try.  Later, after menopause, there are several others.  By then, though, I will be already finished with hormone therapy.  I just have to try to stick it out.

So here we are, almost to fall.  The kids are back in school, the pool is closed, and the nights have a chill in the air.  Normally this is my favorite season, but this year, frankly, I am terrified.  The news is reporting this this winter is expected to be longer, colder, and snowier than last year, and I don't know how I will get through it.  One day at a time, I guess.  One hour at a time, if necessary.  I hope Walker and I can find our way to spring, still together, but my first priority has to be getting healthy.  Maybe, if I'm really, really lucky, all this crap will go away as suddenly as it came, and I'll get my life back.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Go Pack Go!

I like football, but don't follow a team.  Walker is pretty much the same way, but when he scored tickets to a Green Bay Packers game, he went all out.  First, he bought us both jerseys.  Then he borrowed a cheese head from a Wisconsin friend.  We headed to Green Bay, a several hours drive, the day before the game, and checked into a motel near the stadium.  On game day, we dressed in our jerseys and toured some landmarks, including a sports bar and the Packers Hall of Fame. 

Our tickets ~

Walker's ready for some fun ~

The view from our club seats
Lambeau Field made from Legos ~

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL??