I have several ideas for blog posts, some of which I've jotted down in my notebook, but I just haven't taken any time for writing lately. Instead of writing, I have crammed all of the joys of summer into my two good weeks--hosting, traveling, swimming, gardening, grilling, visiting, and playing. It's been a miniature summer in mid-July, and it's been lovely.
All of this activity has had a happy effect: I've quite forgotten about my ongoing medical treatments. Until today, that is, when I realized that tomorrow is, you know, treatment day. Sigh. Only two more hard ones to go. A month from today I'll have my 15th lifetime hard chemotherapy and the worst of its aftermath behind me.
Another happy effect resulted from the activities occurring after being sick for virtually the entire months of May and June. This is a deeper appreciation for the things that I love. It's been a strange feeling for me, because I feel like I have always appreciated even life's most basic experiences. Perhaps what I've learned is that there are a few things that I don't like to live without? Or that I strongly miss when I'm incapacitated? Below is a list of these things, in no particular order.
1) Braiding my daughters' hair. The pleasure is derived not from brushing or otherwise "doing" their hair, but specifically from braiding it. I love to braid their hair. After they make their braid requests, they sit or stand patiently in front of me while I braid-to-order. Braiding-to-order is my favorite kind of braiding, because it tells me that they too enjoy it when I braid their hair. I braid across the front of their heads, as is trendy these days. Sometimes I join the braid with a ponytail in the back. Sometimes I join the small front-braid with a larger braid in the back of their heads. Sometimes I braid all the way around their head in what we call a braid crown. I gently separate three pieces of their soft, colorful hair and weave weave weave. It's wonderful. We might have to set the alarm a little bit earlier this school year to ensure that we have time for all of this braiding.
2) Analyzing data. I don't mean synthesizing information or thinking about problems. I mean opening a spreadsheet, organizing columns of data, perhaps adding a column to transform the data (just a small tweak), choosing the best statistic, perusing the results, and selecting the best graph. Oh man. It's heavenly. I'm a scientist by trade, so you might assume that I knew I enjoyed this sort of thing. What I am saying is that I didn't know how deeply I loved it until I couldn't do it for weeks and weeks, and then I could again.
3) Ian's singing. My friend R and I took his broken guitar to the shop and had it repaired, and now he's singing and playing a lot more again. His voice is like butter. Real butter. I can't live without butter.
4) Finding a new recipe, cooking it, and eating it. I am certainly no foodie, but after so many weeks of nausea and crappy taste buds (let's not count the weeks) I find myself longing for tasty food. I enjoy cooking and baking, always have. It is fun to find new, healthy recipes. It is also a good time of year for cooking because of all of the delicious produce that is in season. For example, on Tuesday my grandpa gave me some of his first eggplants of the season. I knew I had to cook them before I got sick, so last night I tried my hand at eggplant parmesan. I employed a three-stage coating method that I saw on the Food Network when I was in the hospital: flour dredge, egg dip, breadcrumb (Panko) + parmesan dredge. Then I pan-fried them and served them with normal pasta and marinara. Oh man, it was both fun and delicious. The kids even tolerated it.
5) Nature. Eleanor received a microscope for her birthday (I swear it was her idea, "Mom, I want to be able to look at small things!"), and now we go through life collecting things that would be fun to look at under her microscope. Most of the time we don't even make it to the microscope; collecting nature with my daughters is sufficiently delightful.
6) My family and friends. Didn't think this one was possible. Don't know that I'll ever be able to show you. I'll spend the rest of my life trying, no doubt by occasionally employing 1-5 above. If only I could send Ian in the mail to serenade you! I supposed some baked goods will have to do.