January 31, 2009

Zig-zagging through changing priorities

The marked-up table

A yell for Mom from the kitchen ended a recent nap rather abruptly. Imagine the wild thoughts that ran through my mind as I made it from the bedroom to the kitchen where I found my daughter - a daughter who knows not to put a glass of liquids or hot food directly on the cherry table once owned by her late great-grandmother and now loved by her mother .... a daughter who knows the table pads are less then 3 feet away, placemats even closer and a bagful of read newspapers just across the room.
The crafting whiz was putting together another fleece flower kit and needed to expand a pattern by using wax paper and a printed paper. She carefully traced the basic outlines and then cut out her material. The yell came when she started cleaning up for the day and saw her "light" etching.

A few questions later and I discover she and her boyfriend discussed just covering the etching with a placemat or two, returning to Tennessee and a few other options. But she decided to tell the truth and face me.

She knew I had tried protecting the table over the years. She was the one who broke the thick glass that once covered the table. She knows no meal is served directly on the wood. She has watched me cover the table before using a rotary cutter on the my latest batch of fabrics or clays.

What she didn't expect was me laughing.

At first, I was amazed that a 24-year-old forgot basic lessons of crafting. But then, I was amused at her reaction. After all we've been through lately, a few more scratches in the table hardly matter. Yes, I like nice things and I like them to remain nice.

But I enjoy more the days she has the energy to create fleece flowers, crochet hats, and make her creatures from pom pons.

Besides, there is always a bottle of Old English polish under the sink. She could - and did - make the lines almost disappear with some elbow grease.

January 29, 2009

Breast cancer search leads to YouTube

A change in the planned treatment of my daughter's stage three breast cancer led to a recent midnight research search to try to understand why. The second surprise of the day is that YouTube just joined on my list of "good" resources for medical research.

We had celebrated being half way through chemo and the success of the treatment so far - you can't feel the lumps anymore. We were surprised by the recommendation for weekly treatments for 12 weeks instead of four biweekly sessions.

We had been warned to be flexible, especially when getting treated at an institution known for its treatment. (The University of Michigan Breast Care Center is one of 21 institutions that make up the National Comprehensive Cancer Network).

And every medical person I've met has cautioned against researching medical conditions on the Internet. But I have a list of sources and, with 30 plus years in the news business, the skills to evaluate information.

But medical videos on YouTube were a first. It was inspiring to watch a video of the chemotherapy drug taxol killing breast cancer cells. Check it out.

Meanwhile, I'm checking out articles like this one in US News and World Report on weekly doses of Taxol Early research says the new routine increases a patient's long term survival.

Oh, and the other good news? Once we get through chemo and surgery, my daughter will be able to get the radiation treatments closer to home ... that's the daily radiation for six weeks - under the current plan.

OK, enough of an update as I need to get back to this week's post treatment distraction: Sex and the City. I'll post more later on my daughter's effort to update me on the 1998-2004 series that aired during my workaholic years.

January 28, 2009

Blogs replacing need for editors, talk

I'm into reading my feeds the RSS way, but sometimes I love visiting the original sites. The venture can lead me to new places, new ideas and new ideas. So a hop over to Dave Winer's Scripting News then led me to Word Wise's One (Isn't) the Loneliest Number. He gives us 25 phrases to replace with one word. Example:  Replace at all times:with always. I really like these blogs about language and words because I don't often get the chance to talk about this now that I've left the newspaper.

Plus some of the blogs give us the headlines that could easily be featured in Jay Leno's Headlines on Mondays.

So Dan Sartow's Word Wise joins the other "word" blogs I follow:

  • Editrix is "for those who think grammar is hot," which is nice when it is cold.
  • Headsup is self-described as "thorts and comments about editing and the deskly arts." Expect to learn about headlines such as "Patient buried before Cherry filed report to pathologist" in posts with headlines like When zombies handle the paperwork."
  • Languagehat is about language and I like it just because I never know what I will be reading.
  • That's the Press, Baby is the only blog I know of that talks about copy editing and department stores. Author David Sullivan and I once worked on the same copy desk so I knew of his fascination with department stores and his skill at copy editing. These days, he also writes often on the future of newspapers.
  • The Engine Room is by a sub editor (what we in the U.S. call a copy editor) in the UK. I like getting a non-U.S. viewpoint from time to time. Plus he led to me to a book: Grumpy Old Men, the official handbook. Who knew.
  • Watch Yer Language is from an editor at The Billings-Gazette and led me to
  • You Don't Say, is by John McIntrye, a "mild-mannered copy editor."
  • Words at Work often reminds me of loaded words such as entitlement that a copy editor or editor once helped with (we all need some help, right?)
  • Writer Way is written by Karen Anderson, who knows her way around the web so includes posts about wise web practices as well as advice on writing.
  • Writing Tools.
  • A Capital Idea by a Dallas Morning News copy editor talks about commas, grammar and newspapers.
  • Mr. ReWrite whose last entry was about Canada geese.
  • Words to the Wise has cleared up a number of food-related words for me recently and shared why -0 wasn't wise to use in a headline near math students.
The advantage of leaving RSS behind is I can see the blogs the writers are reading. Here are some from the blogs above that are about words, writing and editing.
This fascination with words must be why the family still won't play Scrabble with me. (and yes, I've shared how many games I've lost on the Internet.)

January 27, 2009

Shut up, listen, and receive ... with grace

I've been thinking a lot lately - all these questions and conflicting answers bubbling up. But the real question should be why am i surprised that answers to the thorniest questions pop up just in time

Today's inspirational reading answered a mess of questions that boil down to two: Should I go to my daughter's chemo treatment and do I accept an unexpected check given for "appreciation."

We don't know where I got the dreaded MRSA infection or the orbital cellulitis. Did it evolve from a sinus infection? Bronchitis? Did I pick up the germs from the hospital where my daughter is being treated for cancer?

The latest medicines seem to make a difference. But then a three-hour yarn and wig shopping trip exhausts me and I don't leave my bed for nearly 30 hours.

Dueling doctors are little help; one reminds me to always avoid hospitals as with multiple sclerosis my immune system is already weak. The other says we will never know where I picked it up from so go and use sanitizer frequently (We buy by the gallon and refill the various packages)

He reminds me to be the mom of a newborn - sleep when they do, eat when they do and accept help from all who offer.

He also also reminds me of my skills of asking questions and how important that is to a 24-year-old fighting cancer
The daughter? She tells me she "has people." (some of those people are lined up for later in the week when I slip away to the 31st Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

A midnight comment shows she's hoping I will be there for the planned celebration of part 1 chemo being done. Look out IHOP.

I waver. I justify going. I justify staying home. But then this quote greets me in my morning reading.
[God] comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
II Corinthians 1:4
Even before I read the short story, I know I am going - armed with my sanitizer.

Then, the author ends with this prayer:
Lord, I also know how difficult it is to accept help. Give me the grace to set aside my pride and receive the assistance offered by the people you send as channels of comfort
- Alma Barkman
And that short prayer is a reminder to me that the only response to an unexpected check given in appreciation is thank you ... to accept it in the spirit it was given, to accept with grace.

Now, I'm off to write the thank you and pack the "mom bag" of goodies that help distract us from the blood red chemo.

Saying goodbye in public

I think it's classy to say goodbye publicly and Paul Keep, the editor of the Muskegon Chronicle in Michigan, does just that.

A lot of newspapers these days seem to let long-time reporters and editors fade away, never acknowledging they left.

January 26, 2009

Cookies are safe, kosher, less fat - find the news on Myspace, Facebook and Internet

You'll be happy to know Girl Scout cookies are still kosher even though the label is missing from some boxes- the New York Times reported that. And the peanut butter used in your favorite Girl Scout cookie is safe to eat - the Girl Scouts and the two bakeries quickly rushed out press releases on that. Have you ordered yours yet? (details below)

If you know your ZIPcode you can find Girl Scout cookies.

You can read the press release on the peanut butter warnings and talk to Michele Tompkins at GSUSA if you have questions. Or read the statement from ABC bakeries or Little Brownie Bakeries. Want more proof? Then read what the peanut butter supplier said.

Enough about peanut butter. Thanks to BoyandGirlScouts.com, I can tell you about "Rising costs bite into Girl Scout Cookie portions.
Actually, The Dallas Morning News reported:
"Fewer cookies were packaged into Thin Mints, Do-si-dos and Tagalongs boxes this year, and the Lemon Chalet Crème cookies were resized to compensate for the rising cost of baking staples. "
Why? Michelle Tompkins, a Girl Scouts spokeswoman, said:

"In the last year, the cost of flour has jumped 30%, cocoa rose 20% to 30% and baking oil has soared between 40% and nearly 200%. Transportation expenses are up 30% to 40%."

By the way, Girl Scout cookies are found online in plenty of places this year. There's the Girl Scout Cookie Group on Flickr for a variety of photos related to cookies.

There's an application over on Facebook that lets you send virtual cookies to friends. There's the Myspace page authored by a "92-year-old woman from Georgia" for the organization founded in 1912 in Georgia. You can watch video of older cookie ads on the page that's been up a few years.

Girl Scout cookies is more than a fund-raiser.
Here are a few of the benefits listed over on the official Girl Scout site:
  • Girl Scouts practice life skills like goal setting, money management, and teamwork—and they have fun!
  • Customers get a great product and get to support girls in their own community.
  • All of the proceeds support Girl Scouting in the local community.
Did I make you hungry?

Want more about Girl Scouts? Try these posts:

'Lifetime commitment' gets 'em talking

The WAGGGS-L list has been a bit quiet these days as one active participant spent some time in the hospital and others are wrapped up in getting Girl Scout cookie sales started. When I saw this image in the I'm a Girl Scout blog, I thought I'd share it with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts List. I put on a post headline of "Lifetime commitment" and introduced the link by saying a Tattoo for Girl Scouts.

I thought it was good for a smile. I didn't realize it was going to be so good for discussion too.

I know some folks followed the link because this remark riled a few:
Katie is yet another superstar Girl Scout. Today she came by the office to show off her tattoo (and get a Girl Scout Cookie order form). I'm thinking maybe GSUSA could consider partnering with tattoo shops to offer discounts for lifetime members!

And the next thing you know we're off discussion who has tattoos, was this a "real" tattoo or a temporary one, what they mean, how they hurt to get and a whole lot of other spin outs including motorcycle mamas, lesbians, and piercings.

Some folks speak their minds plainly:

"Just FYI --- I will think less of you if you have tattoos and piercings."
Some ask questions
"....but I don't think I will be adding a tattoo to her collection of Girl Scout things right now. Am I the only one who finds this terribly inappropriate? When did we become Hell's Angels?"
Someone thinks there could be a legal issue:

"The only real issue is the trademark. Will they (GSUSA) make her take it off?"

And some think a Girl Scout trefoil in a discrete place would be the perfect tattoo.'
"Nothing defines me better than Girl Scouting. I have spent more time and been a member longer than any other commitment. Not my marriage, my kids even my profession."

Silly me. I thought it wonderful that an "older" girl was so proud of being a Girl Scout she got a tatoo.

(By the way, I put older in quotes because in Girl Scouts that means someone who isn't a Daisy, Brownie or Junior Girl Scout and is still a girl Girl Scout. You can be a girl Girl Scout until you are 18 years old and to me anyone who is under 19 isn't old. )

Want more about Girl Scouts? Try these posts: