Monday, September 29, 2014

The time I had cancer

A thing I didn’t tell blogdom is that I went back to get the results of the thing on my shoulder, it turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma. I had to leave the stitches in for ten days, and when I hadn’t heard anything I figured no news was good news and wasn't concerned about it. So, I was a little surprised to get the “c” word when I went back to the doctor. But in terms of skin cancers, basal cell carcinomas are the ones you want, as they don’t metastasize anywhere beyond the original site, so now that it’s out it’s gone. They are also reasonably common. But what it does flag is that I have now had enough sun to create such a thing, so I got a little sun protection talk. I have been sun diligent for a long while now (I told the doctor about my UV umbrella!), but childhood beach holidays are coming back to haunt me, and I now have to be on a super anti-sun campaign to minimise any further damage, and have checks every year ...

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to think when such things happen. When I went it to have it cut out I thought to myself, days like these can change your life (though I wasn’t particularly concerned about it then). And I am so thankful that it wasn’t a life-altering melanoma. But would I be thankful if it was? And you hear people say such things as “God was very kind to me/us” when something goes well, which is true, but is he not kind when they don’t? And I could say it’s all of grace that it wasn’t melanoma, but what’s that saying about the people who do get a melanoma? Is that less grace? It probably doesn’t pay to overthink the whole thing, and just be thankful. But I am conscious that what you say in times like this can have ramifications for people listening who had a different outcome ... perhaps ... So I just will just say God is always good, and I am always loved, and leave it there. (And I finished Tim Keller's book Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering a few weeks back, which was excellent, and is very helpful on how to think when things do go wrong.)

I do have to say though, I was a bit gob-smacked at the size of the scar I have. As I mentioned, I had stitches in it and a dressing on it for ten days, then when they took the stitches out they put steri-strips on it and then covered it again for at least five days. So when I finally took all the dressing off and looked at it I thought, golly. I got a ruler out and it’s about 4.5 cm long, with puncture holes either side of it, when the thing wasn’t much bigger than a mole. But they cut an ellipse and had to go out wide around this thing to clear the margins, so I now have this big line in my shoulder. I was going to post a picture, but thought some things are perhaps better being mysterious. I’m still getting around with ALDI adhesive strip over the scar (after looking at all the very expensive fancy wound-healing things in the chemist) because my clothes keep poking into it, which does hurt.

I also didn’t jog for about three and a half weeks because it’s in a spot where moving my should back and forth like that would just stretch and potentially pop the wound (I went for a few walks and kept my right hand in my jacket pocket and I could ride my bike). I went out for the first run on Saturday, and wasn’t going to push it, so was rather pleased with myself when I ran door to door for around seven kms in the usual sort of time time. Then it was a public holiday here today (yay the ACT!) and so I went for a run up into the local nature reserve and did a few laps of this bush track I have found (I talk to the local kangaroos up there) as the sun was going down, and I didn’t think this would be that far, but when I got back I had been running for 50 minutes. Go me. So, obviously a three and half week break is not so bad as I thought it might be. Though my legs are feeling it just now.

Anyway, so that is one little piece of “news”. In other news, I took nine books off my shelf this weekend to get rid of. Books! That folks, deserves a round of applause. I’m making small steps towards de-cluttering.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Love in hard times

I’ve been a while ... and there are posts swirling in my head, and things I have wanted to write about, that haven’t made it out yet. So for now, here is another music video. I haven't mentioned my old friends Jars of Clay in a while, and Inland is the latest album stuck in my car CD player (I have a Blaupunkt stereo system in my little old car, and it’s a good place for music, but I can only put one CD in there, and they tend to sit there for a while till I am totally sick of them and can be bothered swapping, so I do CD immersion) and I think my favourite song would have to be Love in Hard Times (which I originally mixed up with Love in Hard Places, a good book by Don Carson I read once). I like “it’s when I think to reach across those battle lines” and “go there”, into the hard places, rather than living in “just don’t go there” avoidance and estrangement. Easier said than done for many of us conflict avoiders. And sometimes living dangerously and doing hard things, in relationships, turns out to be just plain hard and dangerous, and that is all. And other times we simply are just too tired to fight for something better. But still ...

(I feel like I must have a fairly persistent music memory, as this song called up from the deep Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire, from 1985, and reminds me of it, right down to the whoo oohs, and I suspect that might have been the musical inspiration, either that or it was just a product of two songs being sure to sound like each other sooner or later, but the Jars of Clay lyrics are rather more edifying. It’s good driving music. This youtube is more echoey than the album, but I don’t mind that.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Seinfeld on the keeping of books

I worked all last weekend, and it was long, thus I have been rather weary this week, plus also working on finishing-up the latest crochet rug for my little nephew’s first birthday in October, so I pulled out Seinfeld and started again from the beginning while I weaved in yarn ends (I didn’t finish watching it through last time, after all the life alterations, but this time I hope to keep going).

Seinfeld carrying on about books in Season 2 Episode 1 cracks me up, and for my convenience, and yours too now that I am posting it, someone has made a youtube cut of it.

Jerry, my friends, is not one of us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A poem - If we stare too long

It is time for another poem. So here is one from Judith Wright on Pelicans, my latest obsession. Judith Wright writes a lot of poems of birds, and many of them emit a dark undercurrent, as does this one. Recently I have been flattened by some kind of vomiting bug or poisoning the likes of which I haven’t known in years, and currently I am banned from jogging for a few weeks as I have stitches down the front of my right shoulder, after the removal of some mysterious thing (the doctor didn’t know what it was, and I am still waiting for the pathology – and, God help me, I typed “unusual skin growth” into google, and there are things that can never been unseen). Just small disturbances that remind me of this unforgotten dark.

I don’t find the last line of this poem particularly satisfying. However, if you think like a 16th century Christian and take the pelican as a symbol of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, the act that heralded the end of all evil, then you could make it rather more satisfying, with a confrontation and answer to the problem instead of an escape from it. Judith Wright should've read a medieval animal bestiary and some church history and worked this poem over I say.

Picture from here.


Funnel-web spider, snake and octopus,
pitcher-plant and vampire-bat and shark--
these are cold water on an easy faith.
Look at them, but don’t linger.
If we stare too long, something looks back at us;
something gazes through from underneath;
something crooks a very dreadful finger
down there in an unforgotten dark.

Turn away then, and look up at the sky.
There sails that old clever Noah’s Ark,
the well-turned, well-carved pelican
with his wise comic eye;
he turns and wheels down, kind as an ambulance-driver,
to join his fleet. Pelicans rock together,
solemn as clowns in white on a circus-river,
meaning: this world holds every sort of weather.

Judith Wright

Monday, September 08, 2014

A painted winter evening

I made an impulse buy the other day, and bought this little painting from The Green Shed Shop, otherwise known as the tip shop. They have this fabulous set up here where you take all your junk out to the Council tip, and there is a huge shed where anything sellable is given a second chance to be appreciated or useful, and then other folks can come and take your junk away for next to nothing. And they have recently opened up a real shopfront in the city where they sell the better junk, and that is where I spied this little painting for a whole $20 (and was tempted to buy an old plywood Sindy Caravan – but what in the world would I do with such a thing).

For some reason I liked this. I doubt it’s a work of any extraordinary artistic talent, and one probably shouldn't paint a tree of equal size on either side of painting, but it’s tranquil, and it’s actually a painting of Lake Burley Griffin here in Canberra, which I thought was nice. The frame is terribly old-fashioned and I am not into gold gilt anythings as a rule, but I am liking the retro look, for now.

I’m pleased to have original artworks of sentimental value or significance, rather than prints, if that is at all a financially feasible thing to have.

I searched on the artist’s name, to see whether I had accidentally bought myself an undiscovered masterpiece, and there was a Nan Roberts of renown out Wagga Wagga way, who ran a radio station with her husband, started up a women’s club, has an aged-care residence named after her and died in 1958, but I have no way of knowing whether it was the same Nan Roberts.

The painting turned out to be a bit too white and blueish to go in my living area where I had in mind to hang it, but it looks very nice in my bedroom, which is dusty blue.