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Christmas at my house - Merry Christmas to yours!

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These are a few of the designs I paint on ornaments. I am hoping I can still work on these while healing from a breast reduction on my right side. Any idea?

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Halloween doesn't have to be scary!

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Here is the blog I wrote during the Christmas season - 2018, when I was completing chemo. I am posting it in response to the discussion we are having about people who work in the infusion area, and how they may or may not influence us. Greg encouraged me to post it, so here it is. I have to admit I was surprised to read it over and see that I was having a bad day to begin with? I remember it all as a good day - which, you can see, it turned out to be.

Only one more infusion to go!

Yesterday I limped into Ann Arbor West to get infusion number 15. Not happy. Steve compared me to a marathon runner that *hits the wall* right before the end of the race and has to push through that pain in order to finish. My feet are numb and it is affecting how I walk - I feel like a waddling duck. My fingertips are becoming more numb and tingly which makes it hard to paint. My taste buds have simply gone on strike and that has become really disappointing to me. I can't even comfort myself with food. So I haven't been eating which, as we know, wrecks havoc on one's mood. Yesterday's dismal cloudy sky was nothing compared to my dismal *hangry* face.

A way too chipper nurse, wearing an Ugly Christmas Sweater (because it was Ugly Christmas Sweater Day), led me into the infusion room to chair #3. She pointed to my red sweater with the hand patched and beaded Christmas Tree and said, "Oh! I see you are getting into the spirit of the day too!" Seriously? See... that didn't help my mood because I always think of this particular sweater as being one of my REALLY GOOD ones.

I like to have my infusions done in Ann Arbor West. It is a new facility and the infusion areas are walled with a floor to ceiling window that looks out on a wooded pond. They put out all kinds of bird feeders and I can spend my time laughing at the antics of squirrels and a variety of wild birds. Yesterday I was treated to watching a colony of Canada Geese navigate the partially frozen pond.

Nurse Chipper insisted on drawing my attention away form the outdoors so I would admire the room decorations. She told me all the departments were to choose a theme and decorate accordingly. They had chosen the Nutcracker and were to be judged within the hour. All the nurses were excited and proud of the decorations, and I have to say, they really did a good job. The utility closet doors featured a giant gold grandfather clock and a pink ballerina silhouette - complete with a pink tulle tutu. The desk was draped in garland and their little table Christmas tree was adorned with ornaments of nutcrackers, ballerinas, and a mouse king. Real nutcrackers were everywhere, but the thing they were most proud of was their entry door, decorated to represent a giant nutcracker. It was pretty impressive.

The judging panel came into sight and suddenly the desk area was abuzz with activity. They quickly turned on a CD with Nutcracker music and several of the nurses did pirouettes to greet the judges. To say this was not my normal infusion experience would be putting it mildly. But, honestly - what fun! On my left was a vista of bird feeders populated with happy chickadees and magnificent cardinals. On my right was a bevy of nurses, in Ugly Christmas Sweaters, chattering about how they should have all showed up in tutus for the day. It kind of makes you wonder if Ugly Christmas Sweaters would look better with a tutu, doesn't it? It was giddy, some might say it was unprofessional, but it was lighthearted and it took me away from my personal pity party.

In fact, it took me back to my door contest days at West Liberty State college. I remember happy hours with my roommates as we planned and executed our prizewinning door (yes, of course we won!). For my freshman year my roomies, Diane and Shirl covered the door in paper and foil and cut out the stenciled letters of song titles while I made the construction paper figures. It was a point of pride for me, I was, after all, an ART major. In our sophomore year Shirley and I made a 3d paper tree and the cut out letters that read, "Merry Christmas From Around The World". Then we decorated the tree with the little paper figures I created to represent different countries. We won that one too. I don't remember the succeeding years - either I didn't win or by then I was just too cool to participate....;-)

People can say what they will about the turbulent sixties, but it was still a time when a religious themed door could win a prize instead of being protested. And I could make charming construction paper figures of people of color in their historic native dress without being called a racist. But, I have to admit - I wish I had thought of a Nutcracker theme, there are so many creative possibilities!

The bottom line is the sheer joy of living outside of our problems for a while. And maybe joining into a project with people who make you laugh, and feel alive. The best scripture illustration I can think of is the completion of the one I quoted in my last blog. The entire verse is:

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
~Isaiah 55:12

The thought of mountains singing and trees clapping does indeed feel joyous.
Right now I am not walking so easily, I am not tasting anything good, and the tips of my fingers hurt. But, one night this week Steve is going to put me in the car and get me a peppermint mocha from McDonalds (I can kinda taste that and I get the aroma of peppermint). Then he will drive me around the community to see the colored yard lights and the family Christmas trees sparkling from behind picture windows. And we will listen to Mannheim Steamroller music and maybe Peter, Paul and Mary too. And when we pass the Dexter Dairy Queen I will think about how my hair may be starting to grow in by the time it opens again.

One more infusion to go. And maybe my taste buds will be back on track in time for Paczki season.
What joy!

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And here is my second one. What joy to witness this complicated, miraculous thing.

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And here she is! My first successful monarch. The first two emerged today. I called my first three Eddy, Freddy, and Teddy. Eddy and Freddy turned out to be Edwina and Fredricka....Teddy should give us a gender reveal by tomorrow!

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Timely.

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Like Jane, I am painting songbirds during this time. This is a house finch, done in watered down acrylic.

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I bet we can all agree on this?

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Seems like good advice.

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This time last year I had just completed chemo and was facing surgery and radiation treatments. It was all complete by the end of April and I am so grateful for my good outcome. I decided I would paint an angel for my annual Christmas card each year as a way fo commemorate my healing gift from god. Here is my first one - I hope it will be the first of many. ;-) Merry Christmas, my new friends, thank you for encouraging and helping me.

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I painted these rocks while going through chemo (when I had the energy). they have Scripture references on the back and my friends took them and left them various places all over the US - and even Spain! I hope people who find them will choose to look up the scripture, but if they don't that's fine - I like to think a bird nest image is a message of life and hope, and that is what I wish to share.

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