First of all, a letter that will never reach its addressee:
To the person who vandalized our mailbox this week,
Last Sunday, a dear friend and childhood neighbor of mine - a dear woman in her 70's - went to the hospital with sudden onset of mysterious symptoms. By the middle of this week, she had been diagnosed with acute leukemia - terminal. On Thursday, I mailed her a card and letter. This is the card that you took out of our mailbox, ripped open, pulled apart, and threw into the street. I wrote out another card and mailed it the next day.
The original card would have reached her yesterday. The second card will reach her house tomorrow.
My friend died this morning.
We are mourning one of the sweetest women in the world, someone who was our neighbor for my entire growing-up years, and who was one of my very favorite people. She was unfailingly cheerful, sweet, kind, and thoughtful - I wish that each one of you could have had the blessing of knowing her! I will miss her dearly.
DH and I discussed the fact that this year has really been an epidemic year for cancer among our acquaintance. Margaret, the friend above who just died of leukemia; our friend Mike who died of brain cancer this summer; our friend and tax-preparer C., who is dealing with breast cancer; our friend K. who is starting radiation for multiple-location cancer; DH's mother, who has had lung spots that they are trying to find the cause for; the mom of a childhood friend of DH, who is dying of lung cancer - and others.
Of course, the discussion of cancer wouldn't be complete without a mention of my amazing Canadian cousin Marion, who at 89 entered hospice this past Spring with incurable lung cancer and a two-week expectation of life, only to emerge triumphant six months later, spry as ever and completely cancer-free (without treatment). We are grateful for the miracles among the tragedies!
The other events of this week have been much more positive and uplifting!
First, baby's MRI:
The fasting was much less traumatic than expected. To start with, I made a point of capitalizing on the timetables. For example, I fed baby a fourth meal at 10 p.m. the night before (as I didn't fancy getting him up at 3:30 a.m. for the 4:00 a.m. cut-off!) and stuffed him as full as I could, and then did the same with the breastfeeding deadline and the water deadline. So when it was all over, baby only had to go about 2 1/2 hours completely NPO, and he didn't seem to mind it at all.
The hospital where we went (an outpatient campus) was excellent, the nurses and anesthesiologist were just great, and our experience was top-notch. In fact, I wrote them an email thank-you after we got home just to tell them how impressed we were. We'd definitely go back if necessary.
The intake paperwork had made us believe that one of us would be allowed to go with baby during the procedure, but we found when we got there that that was not the case - they did all the preliminary stuff with us, but then took baby back when it was time for his procedure. I guess the intake people have their wires crossed somehow! I considered asking if I could go back anyhow, but decided against it (and it probably would have been denied anyhow), so I waited in the MRI waiting room while DH and DS went to the park.
Baby came through his procedure just fine. As soon as he was awake enough to take some water, they brought me back to breastfeed him while they monitored him, and then we went home. Great staff! Baby was a bit drowsy while nursing, and they said he'd be drowsy for the rest of the day, but he decided instead to be rather wired! He didn't nap for several more hours, and then took a super-short nap and was up for the rest of the day completely awake and alert, with no other effects that we noticed.
All in all, a good experience, and we should have results soon!
The other event of the week was my friend Jennifer's baby shower, an event that we have been anticipating for the past five years while we watched our friends go through infertility testing and then adoption proceedings and the pain of two unsuccessful embryo adoption transfers. Baby #6 of 12 is now flourishing and is expected to join us this coming January or February. We are so excited!
I got to help with the food, so I spent the night before making mounds of chicken salad (I ended up making about three times as much as we needed) and coffee syrup, and the morning of the shower I got to share in all the fun of an all-women preparation party as we decorated and prepared food. So very, very fun. A lovely day!
Here is the recipe for the chicken salad, which I just adored! I had never had chicken salad before, but I am a definite convert now:
• 2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
• 1 cup halved green grapes
• 3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
• 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
• 2 teaspoons finely minced onion
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine chicken, celery and grapes in large bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients; add to salad and toss to coat. Chill until serving.
For me, the culinary highlight of the day was the coffee punch, a recipe from a darling church family that has been adopted by the church and which I have had several times. It is awesome!! I had three cups of it, and would have had more had I not been so busy. We are currently watching "Anne of Green Gables," and it made me think of my namesake Diana, who had "three tumbler-fulls"of the "raspberry cordial" that turned out to be red currant wine. Had this punch been alcoholic, I might have experienced the same tragical outcome! :)
And so with that, I share the recipe - it is YUMMY!
Creme Coffee Punch
1 (4-oz) jar instant coffee, regular or decaf
4 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1 gallon chocolate ice cream
1 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 gallon whole milk
1. In a large container, dissolve cofee in boiling water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cover and chill overnight.
2. To serve, put half of both ice creams in a large punch bowl. Add half the chilled coffee syrup and half of the milk. Stir to partially melt ice cream. Use the rest to refill the punch bowl when needed. (At the shower, which had a lot of people present, we just put everything in at once.)
The humor of the day was added by the fact that the big plastic snowflake ornaments, which were suspended from a second-story banister, for some reason kept dropping spontaneously off of their ribbons and falling to the floor below, where they smashed spectacularly on the tile. Thankfully only one person was hit before we all learned not to stand under them!
I can't believe that Christmas is so quickly approaching! I hope that each and every one of you is enjoying the holiday season! We have been going driving almost every night to look at lights and are greatly enjoying it. There is one house in our neighborhood who does the lights-and-music-synced in the style (to a lesser extent) of this famous house, and though the fellow who lives there told DH last year that he puts up his lights the day after Thanksgiving, this year there has been no sign of them yet. DH has taken up the habit of driving past this house almost every night to check, and he is now muttering darkly each time we drive past to see a still-dark house. Ah, well! Maybe that will be our new holiday tradition - driving past this poor guy's house every night to say, "He TOLD us they would be up!"
A very happy December to all!