Wednesday 29 May 2024

Rhubarb Time

 The title is a bit misleading. It’s been rhubarb time for a couple of weeks already but I haven’t done a ton with it. I made a strawberry rhubarb pie to take to a friends’ cottage and I made strawberry rhubarb crisp for husband, son, and I. 

I still have frozen rhubarb and jars of strawberry rhubarb jam from a couple of years ago ( yes, they keep that long). 

Daughter and future son-in-law invited us for dinner tomorrow night. Nice! I got a text the other day asking if it would be possible to make a rhubarb type of dessert to bring along. Well sure! So tonight I am making the unfortunately named “ Rhubarb Dump Cake”. 

Forgive me if I’ve posted about this before. I’m too lazy to check my side bar to see if I have ( or if I even included it in my side bar!). This is easy peasy. However if you are someone who prefers their dessert not sweet, low cal, and generally sad and miserable, this is not for you.

1. Spray the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish. Add four cups ( or more so you get a decent covering on the bottom of the baking dish) of freshly sliced or frozen rhubarb.

Aren’t the colours gorgeous?

1 1/2. Let the cat in. Sigh.

2. Sprinkle with a 3 oz box ( small box) of strawberry jello.

3. This is where some recipes differ: 3/4 cup white sugar. ( other recipes don’t call for sugar) I sprinkled on a little less than what was called for.

4. Sprinkle a full package ( dry) of yellow or white cake mix on top.

5. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and pour evenly over the top. Do not mix together!

6. Pour aprx. 1 2/3 cup to 2 cups of cold water on top.

7. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for aprx. 45 minutes to an hour. Remember, don’t stir it altogether.

When it’s done, there might be some small patches of dry cake mix, but that will be dealt with if you eat it with a little cream or milk or vanilla ice cream! 

Here it is out of the oven ( Joanne’s tea towel!)

There are many dump cake recipes out there. I’ve made the one that uses a can of blueberry pie filling and a can of crushed pineapple. I’ve also made a pumpkin dump cake that uses a spice cake mix that is so good! True, none of these are going to be featured on The Great British Baking Show, but when you want something quick and dirty, a dump cake with some vanilla ice cream ( get the French vanilla kind) is the way to go!

Thursday 23 May 2024

Further Explanation...

 I thought I would show a couple of pictures (BAD selfies I might add, I am not adept at this using one hand) to give you an idea of the contraption used to help with lymphedema. 

It would seem Blogger no longer allows me to make images bigger, so I apologize for the small pictures. Anyway, I sit comfortably for about 50 minutes while this vest / sleeve sequentially fills with air, like a blood pressure cuff, and then releases. It is not uncomfortable, but it is very tight when filled. In fact, it feels rather nice. 

Upon my research, I discovered it described as "the dirty little secret" of cancer. Lymphedema can occur after breast cancer because usually lymph nodes are removed (to check for cancer and also remove if they are cancerous) which disrupts the flow of lymph fluid, causing it to build up. Lymph circulates through your whole lymphatic system (your whole body is involved) and it removes waste, bacteria, etc. from your tissues. Breast cancer survivors can get lymphedema in their arm, hand, breast, chest, armpit, trunk or back. Having radiation also messes with your lymphatic system because it causes scar tissue and narrows the lymph vessels and nodes. Chemotherapy (which I was lucky not to have) can also increase the risk of lymphedema if they do it on the same side as your surgery. 

I think the thing that angers me, is I had been having pain and other symptoms which I had asked about within the first year after my surgery (lumpectomy) and it was agreed that it was probably just nerve pain. But never was it mentioned that I should watch for signs of lymphedema. I probably could have been treated for this, and could have been wearing a special compression bra long before this, but I did not know what to ask. 

If you know of anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer (and you will, undoubtedly), perhaps this will pop in your mind and you can guide them and let them know that they can get help. Apparently some surgeons are quite good in recommending compression garments for their patients, and others are not. Some oncologists are excellent with their communication, and others are not. Here in Ontario, it is hit and miss, as the state of our health care continues to circle the drain. I know what of I speak, trust me. 

I'm not usually a "Debby Downer" (apology to Debbies out there) on my blog, but it does need to be said and expressed from time to time. If you have good health care and a good doctor, good for you. You deserve it. But I deserved it, too, and I'm tired of slogging through and stumbling across things that should have been asked, should have been said, should have been done... 

But I will end on a lighter note. Murphy is cone free and as happy as a fat tabby cat can be. The sun is shining and there are tiny plants germinating in my vegetable garden. I saw my first hummingbird yesterday at the feeder I recently put out. Life is still good. 

Monday 20 May 2024

Monday, May 20, 2024

 It was a nice long weekend. I bought a new raised fire ring ( the old one was beyond falling apart) on sale at Rona hardware. We christened it Saturday night with son and daughter and some chips and marshmallows and wine and beer and it was so nice hanging out with our kids. 

I’ve been gardening and gardening and gardening. I put in my “ early” vegetables and I’ve been weeding, edging, and digging out moss phlox that didn’t really bloom this year and is always a trap for grass coming through. I’ve also been whipper snipping around the property as all the recent rain really got things growing again.

Husband, with our help, has been opening the pool and this year for whatever reason, the liner ( it’s an inground) is very stained from leaves and spruce needles getting in. The entire pool got drained ( normally you don’t completely drain it) and a couple holes were found in the liner. Husband patched those and experimented with pressure washing and other scrubbing/ cleaning, none of which really did the trick. He thinks he’ll just do a good shock when we refill ( from our own well water). It’s always something with a pool!

I cleaned the barbecue today, maybe not to other peoples exacting standards, but good enough for me. I made a summer supper of hot dogs and corn on the cob. I also made a rhubarb strawberry crisp. I was feeling bad that all my rhubarb was going unused! I still have frozen bags from last year! 

On a whole other topic, I just discovered that I have mild lymphedema after my lumpectomy and radiation more than a year ago. I just thought I was always going to have some pain and discomfort after surgery, etc and just toughed it out as women do. Anyway I was referred to a physiotherapist who actually deals with lymphatic drainage and had a fantastic consult with her. She told me who to go to for a compression bra ( why was I never told about this before?) and I did do that and for a pretty penny I bought two and now need a prescription from my oncologist nurse practitioner for these so I can get some money back on my insurance. I start the physio sessions tomorrow and have been told that most women find it extremely helpful. So, I’m looking forward to that! 

Murphy has been managing his cone of shame very well and today we felt that his facial “ gash” had healed very well and we took it off him. I think he’s happy. Now I need to remind him that he can use the cat flaps again and doesn’t require me as a personal assistant!

Thursday 16 May 2024

Cone of Shame


I don't think he has been more sad in his entire little cat life. Can I just say having a cat in a cone is a pain in the neck for the humans? This is a cat who is used to coming and going as he chooses through cat doors (or if his humans open other doors for him), enjoys eating more than any other activity in the world, and already drinks water in a very weird way. My life last night consisted of rigging up a raised cat bowl purchased from Dollerama (glue gunned it to a wooden cutting board, also from Dollerama), creating another glue gunned raised bowl contraption (in case the top of the other one was a bit too wide for the cone to fit over), also attached to the cutting board so he doesn't tip it over with his cone, and experimenting with the best way for him to drink water (none are perfect and all cause great amounts of water all over the floor). 

He showed up one morning, a few days ago with a bit of a gash on his cheek (I'm guessing one of two stray cats was the culprit). We put antibiotic ointment on it and it seemed to be healing. Then two days later, it was bigger and uglier. Of course, this was the weekend. We could have had a vet look at him but $200.00 just for the vet to show up on a Saturday (not including the actual fee, or treatment) did not meet our budget, so we applied hydrogen peroxide as instructed over the phone and things seemed to be healing nicely. That was until he scratched it open again. Ugh!! More treatment, and again, it seemed to be healing nicely, until he did it again. 

So today, I am taking him to the vet (no emergency hour $200 fee on a Thursday) for a shot of antibiotics and a once over and we keep the dastardly cone on him for who knows how long... and I watch him run into things as he navigates around table legs and edges of doorways. In all of our years of being cat owners we have never had to have a cat in a cone, so this is new for us. He managed to wriggle out of it twice until we got it "tight" enough. 

Anyone want to chime in with their own "cone head" stories? 

Sunday 5 May 2024

Happy 28th - a Fun and Reminiscent Day

 Yesterday our family (daughter, fiance, son, husband and myself) took a little trip to the big city for her 28th birthday, which was the day before (May 3rd). She suggested she might like to go to the zoo, something we had not done all together since the kids were very young. The weather was perfect for this! Some sun, some breeze, the trees at the zoo were out in blossom, and the day was wonderful.

The zoo is a BIG place, with lots of walking (providing large areas for the different kinds of animals that require it). Husband has been a bit of a hurting unit since he's been working on doing trim work (crown molding, sanding, filling, sanding, filling, painting, ...) all while bracing himself awkwardly on a ladder for a few days. Although I try to get out and walk every day, it's never the extent that this would involve and my lower back arthritis is never completely a non-issue, but we sucked it up and had a great time seeing all the animals and remembering the experience from about twenty years ago. 

At one point we tried to recreate a picture which I thought had husband and both kids in it. However, the only one I could find at home was this one:

So yesterday's photo has all three of them in it. Same bronze statue, aprx. twenty years later.

Another moment we tried to recreate was this one, where when we first went to the zoo, there was an extremely friendly large fish who enchanted our daughter. We called it the "greeter fish". In my memory (obviously defunct) there was a picture of daughter alone, with the fish. Alas, this is what I found in the photo album:

This is the recreation, even though is isn't quite correct. Daughter is blowing her face up, like the fish.

One photo that was new this year, because I honestly don't think they had this bronze statue back then, is daughter and I with the snow leopard and her cub (symbolic, I thought, for her birthday).

And here is the real snow leopard, looking like your typical house cat, totally relaxed and asleep, right at the glass where we could have a good look! Thank you, snow leopard! 

Some of my other favourites yesterday were the sloths, the capybara, and the grizzly bear.

Capybaras look like kiwi fruit and that grizzly was HUGE. We were a little sad that there were certain animals that were not available to see yesterday, such as the full troop of orangutans, and we weren't sure if we saw the famous silver back gorilla, Charles. The gorillas were not yet in their outdoor area, which would have been fabulous to see them in. As well, the zoo no longer keeps elephants and hasn't for quite a few years. That's probably for the best. 

There was a special focus at the zoo yesterday, that being all the frogs that are currently singing their little frog hearts out. Toads, too. I sincerely hope whoever was in this get up was getting paid well!! 

Experiencing a day out at the zoo with your adult children is so much more fun (or a different kind of fun) than when they are wee little and your are always watching them, keeping them safe, carrying them on your shoulders, explaining everything to them... I'm so glad daughter suggested this to us. Making new memories! 

Added later: daughter sent me this pic today: 

And here was the original with just sister and brother.