I started planning this holiday from my hospital bed in August 2015, paid for Worldcon memberships a while ago, but now we're starting to make it real.
[Travel insurance for (former) cancer patients is much easier to get than I had feared; I used a Cambridge-based specialist broker but in fact their online offering was completely sufficient. They even included my very specific leukaemia in the drop down.]
They say revenge is best served Cold. They also say revenge is sweet.— Heather Antos (@HeatherAntos) December 31, 2016
Guys...Revenge is ice cream.
Nico overheard and said "The Avengers are icecream!?" which somehow led to assigning flavours:
Iron Man is obviously strawberry flavour.
Hulk is "green and purple" which I think is apple and blackcurrant.
Hawkeye is blackcurrant flavour because he is friends with Hulk (we may have watched a lot of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in this house).
Thor and Cap are both "rainbow flavour".
Black Widow is blackberry flavour..
War Machine is vanilla.
Wasp is banana flavour.
... and then my 4yo consultant ran off to do something more interesting instead, and I got asked to lay the table.
Just tracking ins and outs for now. Trying for achievable goals, for once!
The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
- Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
- The Good Immigrant anthology
- Journeys anthology
- The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Roses in Amber by CE Murphy
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Long List Anthology 2 edited by David Steffen
- Hidden Memories by Robin Allen
- The Truth As He Knows It by A.M. Arthur
- The World As He Sees It by A.M. Arthur
- The Heart As He Hears It by A.M. Arthur
- She Whom I Love by Tess Bowery
- Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
- From the Ashes by Daisy Harris
- Heart of Change by Roxy Harte
- Temptation City by Lyric James
- Thoroughly Tempted by Lyric James
Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge Hooves Above The Waves by Laura Clay
- Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2016 anthology
- A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
- The Alpha's Home by Dessa Lux
- Gambled Away anthology
- Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm
- Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
- The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
- Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge
- Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
- Roses in Amber by CE Murphy
- Hooves Above The Waves by Laura Clay
- No Secrets: A Visual History of Show of Hands
Seen on Facebook, tweaked a bit because I overthink things:
Let's start 2017 off in a positive way with a Pay It Forward meme. The first 6 people to comment (and more if I can manage it) will receive a surprise from me at some point in 2017 - anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.
(If you don't like surprises and would rather have something off a wishlist and/or some warning, let me know in your comment. The goal is to make you happy.)
- status quo bias (Kondo says throw it out unless it "sparks joy", which Harford sensibly changes to "a compelling reason to keep it")
- diminishing returns (the tenth pair of jeans is less valuable than the second, which is why you tackle all the things of the same type in one go)
- opportunity cost (if you can't find a beloved possession under all the other things you have, you can't enjoy it)
Nico spontaneously spent ages over the next week playing with some specific wooden jigsaws we literally hadn't seen in months if not years, which rather gloriously illustrated Tim's point about opportunity cost.
I've done several more sessions since, especially in the last few days. It needs me to have time and energy and inclination to spend several hours at a time sorting through a category of things, because I haven't figured out a way to bitesize it without causing even more disruption to everyone else and/or having my work undone again. It is tiring to keep making decisions, especially potentially emotionally-fraught decisions. I found a fourth economic concept coming to my aid: in management accounting I learned the concept of sunk costs, that is, when making decisions it doesn't matter what time and money have already been spent, what matters is the future costs/benefits that will result from the decision.
The children have learned to trust that I won't take something away if they say they really want it, so at least now let me get on with it until I'm ready for their review, which has sped things up a bit. And slowly the living room and bedroom spaces are becoming nicer for them. I've finally removed enough stuff from the children's room that I can actually tidy / reorganise what is left. This morning I asked Charles if he would rather I took him out to the cinema today, or continued working on their bedroom and he chose the latter.
And for all it seems a bit weird, I've found it sometimes helps me to let go if I say thank you to things as I put them in the discard pile.
What I've read
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
Two further novellas about the characters in Penric's Demon, where several years have elapsed between each one. I like this series very much.
Barking Up The Right Tree by Lilly Grant. A lovely fluffy short contemporary romance about a hunky apple farmer and the bored programmer who freelances as a web designer when not at the day job who makes him a great website for his farm.
Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Second in the Cyclone series, I adored the first, I was very excited about this one, read it through the day I bought it, read it again a few days later, loved it. skygiants wrote a great review of it.
Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade. I quite liked the geeky setting but was a bit meh about the story.
The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian. A m/m Regency romance with class conflict, a mystery to solve, and a domestic abuser to get rid of. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely look out for more by this author.
Protection, Inc. #1-#4 by Zoe Chant. Bodyguard shapeshifter romances with a "one true mate" trope. They are all shortish novels featuring peril, hurt, comfort, and hot sex, and therefore right up my street.
All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
These are two of the five novellas in a historical romance collection, Gambled Away, which I am enjoying very much. These were the first two in the book, and coincidentally the two by authors I've already read. They were both excellent; I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection.
Acquisitions this week
Fortune Favours the Wicked by Theresa Romain (recommended by Rose Lerner)
A HumbleBundle of ebooks about astronomy, and another of ebooks about coding games.
Plus 2 seasonal gifts from my brother:
Thors: Battleworld by Jason Aaron, Chris Sprouse & Goran Sudžuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
Finding all the presents I'd hidden as I bought them over the past half year, working out what was for who and whether there was a reasonable balance between the children. Then wrapping them all. I had managed not to go as overboard as in some previous years, but wrapping still took far too long, even with Tony's help towards the end.
Failing to wake Nico for the evening meal after he'd nodded off with his uncles earlier in the day. Being interrupted about an hour after the meal by a furious and tired Nico, and spending some interminable period trying to help him through the meltdown enough to try the merits of warm milk and a cuddle. And then staying up with him until after midnight because Christmas is too exciting!
Tony tweeting: "Father Christmas brought me four packs of coffee and a book of Cambridge barber shop tales. What is he trying to suggest?!" (It is an open secret to everyone but Nico that I am Santa in this house.)
Calling Charles away from Minecraft to ask if he would like sparkling orange juice for elevenses like the rest of us. He walked right up to me, paused significantly, and said "No."
"How about salmon on bread?"
"How about opening your presents?"
Opening presents together: 4 adults, 2 children, approx 90% of the gifts by volume for the children. So much fun.
Lovely food by Tony. Pulling handmade crackers from my aunt as we all sat around the table.
Remembering that I took my last (ever, I sincerely hope!) ATRA dose last Christmas Eve.
Taking a little walk around my local streets in the evening to stretch my legs, and enjoying the variety of decorations on display.
A couple of obligatory phone selfies behind the cut (which also showcase my luxuriant wavy hair)
( Read more... )
Bone marrow samples will continue at 3-monthly intervals until three years after "end-of-therapy". We are now at 11 months after end-of-therapy, so nearly 1/3 of the way there. I asked if I was right to assume that they would call me if there was anything to be concerned about in the bone marrow samples, rather than waiting for my next appointment, and she confirmed that this is the case.
(For future reference: I have since learned that Boots offer a 25% student discount, which along with their providing antireflective coatings by default probably tips the price balance their way for next time.)
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/661035.html with comments.
( 38 sheep )
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/660850.html with comments.
- If you didn't get a card from me last year, that is a pretty good indication I don't have your address.
- If you would like a card but can't leave a comment, my email address is in my profile and you are welcome to drop me an email with your address.
- Most of my cards are generic Seasons Greetings; if you would particularly like / particularly object to a card with a religious greeting, please let me know in your comment/email.
Meanwhile at home and in studying I am behind on everything, so they're both heading into constantly-firefighting territory too. Argh. On the other hand I'm just about getting enough sleep again, and I'm having that lovely feeling of wellbeing that comes once one is fully over a cold, and I remembered to get some vitamin D supplements for this winter.
Three things that amused me recently:
1. Nico knows about high fives, and high tens, but this week he offered me a fist bump and said "High Zero!"
2. The romance novel genre has many many subgenres: regency, shapeshifters, billionaires, SEALs, shapeshifter SEALs, werewolf marines, etc. This week my kindle app offered me "Billionaire Aviators" which tickled me immensely (and reminded me obviously of Top Gun, which I watched at a very impressionable age).
3. We had a team-building thingy at work where we had to anonymously write down something about ourselves and the team had to guess in turn which person had written which thing. The trouble with this is finding a Thing that isn't really obviously me AND that I'm happy to disclose at work. I gave up on being hard to guess and just wrote "My favourite superhero is the Hulk". Surprisingly few people guessed right, several more were like "of course! how did I not guess you!", and then I looked down and realised I was wearing Hulk socks.
I think I am less shocked and upset than I was by the Brexit result in June, but more scared. In June, I found it extremely helpful to follow my usual routine: take care of the children, go to work, fix things. My studying went off a cliff though, perhaps because it didn't immediately affect anyone but me, unlike my work and home obligations. Luckily the module concerned wasn't one I needed to do more than pass, so handing in one duff assignment didn't matter too much (and no, I wasn't going to ask for an extension or accommodation for "I am deeply upset by Brexit").
"Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on." For me that means sticking to my ongoing efforts to recover my health and effectiveness, take care of my family and finish my degree. Do the job in front of me, as best I can, and (re)build my capacity to do more in the long term.
Dance classes plural were because Nico took a trial tap class after his existing ballet class. He was a bit reluctant to go in, so I sat in the studio with him (with the teacher's permission). He joined in a bit and then came back to me and said tap was great but he couldn't join in again until he had his own tap shoes that fit properly. I rewarded this excellent negotiation with a trip to the dancewear store and the entire tap class uniform, not just the shoes.
The dance school is on the top 1.5 floors of a 3-storey building on our nearest main road. The dancewear store takes up the other half-floor, and on the ground floor is a cafe and a paint/wallpaper store. All the businesses are independent, but being a student at the school gets a 10% discount on dancewear, and (I discovered yesterday), spending money in the dancewear store gets us a 10% discount in the cafe. That made me smile.
I am actually pretty excited for Moana anyway, but I got even more so with what's implied by the lyrics here:
"I wish I could be the perfect daughter, but I come back to the water ...
I can lead with pride, I can make us strong ... but the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?"
a. family expectations vs individual wishes is my jam
b. she's expected to be the next leader (contrast with Brave, and Merida merely expected to elevate the next leader by marriage)
Also I just really love this song, it's very earwomy but in a good way, and a completely different feel from Hamilton & In The Heights.
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/659162.html with comments.
- I will be wearing them for reading and screen work, so the vast majority of my waking time, ahahaha.
- I will have a very low strength prescription, which I think means the available choice will be huge.
 I've had very mild astigmatism in my right eye for years, and it has very slowly been worsening, and it has recently passed the threshold of "I am noticing this and it is annoying me on a daily basis". I am off to the optometrist for an up-to-date eye test and then some glasses. Ah the joys of approaching 40.
- I still have a cough. I've progressed to the point where I am no longer stupid ill with it, I just ... cough a lot. I'm not getting enough sleep as a result, but I'm definitely getting better. Just slowly.
- I went for my quarterly bone marrow sample on Wednesday; it was probably the least-unpleasant experience yet. I got the doctor who is particularly skilled at taking them. I'm pretty certain if there was anything to worry about I'd have had a phone call by now, so I am not worrying.
- The children had half-term off school, and we sent them to holiday club for 3 days and took 2 days as family holiday to Sheffield where the newest and tiniest cousin is. As usual, the highlights of Sheffield for the children were, in order: a) trams b) Ponds Forge swimming pool c) their family (especially tiny cousins).
- I took the children swimming twice in Sheffield. Charles's birthday party earlier in the month was the first time I've been swimming since getting ill, and I had almost forgotten how much I like it. Taking them to Ponds Forge is more walking-around-in-water than swimming, especially as I was solely responsible for non-swimmer Nico, but it was fun anyway.
- Between cough and holiday and sleep deprivation I am behind on everything and have an assignment deadline on Thursday. Essay crisis ahoy!
I've been ill since Tuesday night, no improvement in sight, and as of this morning I've lost my voice. The children found that a lot funnier than I did.
One of my friends from work, who had a similar leukaemia to me several years earlier, told me that she still finds colds hit harder and take longer to recover from than before the cancer. So maybe it's not surprising. But so so tedious. And I keep having to talk down the bit of my brain that panics when I get breathless climbing the stairs, because honestly brain it's much more likely that I'm breathless because I have a stinking cold than because the cancer has come back, and I wasn't breathless climbing the stairs before I caught this cold.
It's not flu and I'm not running a temperature, I'm just bunged up and stupid and fed up.
This week I caught a cold and had to take two days off work because I had No Brain. I went back Friday but I was s o s l o w. Again, much more like me-several-months-ago rather than me-now. I have survived helping to run Charles's birthday party today but I've managed little else, and soon I'll have to go to bed if I don't want to feel deathly tomorrow.
Getting enough sleep is really really boring and really really essential.
One practical consequence is that the best day for me to go see In The Heights again is a Sunday. The show is at 6pm so if I cycle to the station rather than taxi I could be home by 10:30pm. Of course, that's a school night so not entirely ideal, but more so than the Tuesday matinee, which finishes bang in the middle of rush hour.
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/655257.html with comments.
( long version, lots of enthusiastic babble )
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/654943.html with comments.
Ten years ago I gave birth to Charles in the Rosie Maternity Hospital at Addenbrookes', by unplanned c-section after a day and a night in labour.
Today, shortly after 6am, Charles informed me he was ready for school and could he start opening his presents now?
 I ended up spending £65 with Chris the bike man on a 3-speed sit-up-and-beg bike with a good basket which I used for at least a year. I can't remember what I did with it when I finally retrieved my own bike from home - my guess is I sold it back to Chris the bike man?
- I successfully completed chemotherapy! I've had three follow-up tests, which continue to show me clear of leukaemia.
- I returned to work, and have been working 4-4.5 days a week since April thanks to judicious use of accumulated annual leave. I am about to start working 5-day weeks routinely, and feel reasonably confident about it.
- fanf and I did a short course of couples therapy with a Maggies Wallace counsellor, by way of preventative maintenance.
- I completed a year of Open University study at nearly full-time load, and enrolled on another full-time year to complete my degree.
- I have recovered a lot of the fitness lost through 5 months of chemotherapy: by no means all of it, but steadily improving week on week and month on month. For the past few months I've made deliberate, targeted use of my fancy fitbit (ironically, bought less than a month before I began chemo) to measure and motivate myself.
- I've recently got much better at getting enough sleep, also through use of my fitbit.
- I've done the necessary admin to get our children into the school and childcare we wanted for them, and the extra scheduled activities each of them wanted.
- I've just about kept our finances under control, and spotted a pattern of overspending in time for both of us to stop it being a disaster.
- fanf and I have kept the children's routines going steadily, and the house just about under control.
- I've built up a good set of reminders on Regularly to keep most of the plates spinning approximately at the right frequency.
- I've fallen in love with two musicals, been to the theatre multiple times and taken my children to the ballet twice.
I've said before that my big revelation from serious illness was that the life I'd built was bloody good thanks and I wanted it back. I think I'm doing a good job of getting there! Two smaller revelations/reminders were the importance to me of music, and of learning. In hospital there was a period where I got through each day with a specific playlist and as much Duolingo as my brain would take; even now I try to spend some time every day listening to music, and some time every day learning.
"Alexander Hamilton" (opening track to the musical Hamilton) in American Sign Language: absolutely riveting, brilliant use of rhythm, I accidentally fell down a rabbithole of ASL-signed Hamilton tracks of varying skill and production quality after this. If only I understood ASL, or even BSL (funnily enough searching for BSL-signed Hamilton stuff gets me nowhere, I don't think there's a big enough fanbase here yet).
"What the Heck I Gotta Do" - opening track to 21 Chump Street: a 14-minute musical about an undercover drugs officer and the high school student who fell in love with her. The full video used to be on youtube and vimeo but I failed to find it again; also the cast album is available from the usual digital marketplaces. It's ridiculously earwormy,, which means I find myself singing songs ALL DAY LONG that remind me how much I disagree with the War on Drugs, and I'm Not Doing Politics for at least another year, damnit.
"Usnavi's KX rap" - a promotional video for In The Heights at the King's Cross Theatre, which I saw last Saturday and will write more about when this dratted essay is done. (Short version: I really, really liked it, and that video gives you something of a feel for it.)
A frantic online shop later, all the supermarkets start at 3-4, but M&S had some 2-3 school trousers, so they are on their way. (What this says about customer demographics and expected-age-of-first-uniform I leave as an exercise to the reader.)
Anyway, have two pictures (second behind the cut). And if you want to compare, here are the ones I shared of Charles 5 years ago.
( Read more... )
Mid-morning I had a text from my brother-in-law to say that his wife had gone into labour and they were headed for unplanned c-section as baby was breech. Less than an hour later I had photos of my newest nibling and two happy parents, and found myself having a wee emotional moment in the office.
- Go away the weekend before the exam.
- Have your train journey in both directions disrupted by cancellations and delays, so that instead of a smooth progression between sets of reserved seats at a table, both journeys are longer and punctuated with stressful searches for enough seats for your small group.
- Exhaust yourself talking with people at a party. (Lovely people! Worth being tired for!)
- Do approximately 25% of the revision you planned to do on the train.
- Get woken multiple times the night before the exam by a small child, and then both of you oversleep.
- Ruthlessly hand over the morning nursery run to the child's other parent and cycle off just in time to take it at a non-sweaty pace rather than a frantically-late one.
The cycle ride was pleasant though! The exam itself went well enough: I don't seem to find exams very stressful compared to twenty years ago, so it was just a matter of reading through the questions and deciding (where I had a choice) which ones to answer. I would undoubtedly have done better if I had revised my management and economics units a bit harder, but I don't think I've embarrassed myself.
I spent some time last week (when perhaps I should have been revising ...) working out my schedule for the next year, starting now. I have one last assignment to do this week and this weekend I plan to make a start on the work for my October-starting courses. My last exam is no more than a year away. April & May will be a bit grim due to overlapping courses but June-September should be alright. (Good, because we're going to Helsinki in the middle of it.)
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/651551.html with comments.
36 more hours before he can go back (fingers-crossed he seems to be over it now).
12 hours today before my own stomach settled enough to eat something resembling a meal.
1 OU assignment submitted, 6 days before the deadline.
5.5 days to go until the exam in the other module.
- evicting half a dozen wasps from the living room
- soothing child terrified (but unstung) by wasps
- getting fanf to locate wasp nest
- booking wasp extermination for tomorrow
- taking child to gymnastics, with bonus social time for me
- booking child's birthday party sufficiently in advance to get desired date (unlike last year)
- 4.5 hours of OU study
Things not achieved today:
- attending OU tutorial
- eating any vegetables at all
Things to do in the next nine days:
- complete and submit final assessment for intro-to-engineering module
- revise for and take exam for management accounting module
- take N for visit 1 of 2 to school & after-school club
- visit my mum and stepdad before their epic trip around the world (we will next see each other in Helsinki next year)
Also, fanf wrote about his rather-too-exciting trip to the supermarket last weekend, with bonus beard photos.
[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]
( numbers )
I am reaching feeling-overstretched again, and I really need to buckle down and be a study-hermit. (Exam in 13 days, EMA for a different course due in the same day, new course books arriving any minute for the officially-starting-1st-October courses.) I've had three migraines in 16 days, and it's a mixture of overdoing things, struggling in the summer heat, and the perennial favourite of Not Getting Enough Sleep.
The fitbit number I am paying most attention to at the moment is the hours of sleep. It's still too low.
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/650312.html with comments.
- The key to our accommodation
- My laptop charger
- My paperback copy of Watership Down
- My hairbrush
- The birthday gift for the party we are going to today
(We sorted out the accommodation thanks to helpful landlord and very helpful family, but there may have been some swearing on the train when I realised. I can get a replacement gift and repurpose the original. I suppose at least I'm grateful to have enough hair again to need a hairbrush, and I can probably get a spare fairly easily.)
The occasion was the Great British Bake Off, which I have got sucked into because of a work sweepstake. There are 24 of us in it, 2 of us drawn for each GBBO contestant yesterday morning. Each week after a contestant goes out, the two unlucky colleagues have to cook something on the week's theme and bring it in for everyone else to taste and fill out a scoresheet for a mini-contest. (All the invention of one of my colleagues who likes to organise this kind of thing.)
Literally everyone signed up has made disclaimers about how they are not very good cooks and not to expect much, although in my case this is completely true. Charles has volunteered to help me, and he is already a better cook than I am, so I won't turn it down!
Anyway, having signed up, I felt I should at least try an episode to see what the fuss is about ... and I can completely see why it's such a popular show. Tony got sucked in too, and I might actually try to make a habit of this. I have Val, so I was getting a bit worried last night, but thankfully I've been spared my cooking ordeal for another week. (On the other hand, it might be nice to get it out of the way early, before expectations have been set too high.)
GBBO was followed by The Chronicles of Nadiya. I had picked up on the wonderfulness of Nadiya Hussein, last year's GBBO winner, through fannish osmosis, and I really enjoyed this show following her from her home in Luton to the village her parents came from in Bangladesh, with a great deal of food and family interactions. I completely see why everyone was enthusing about how lovely Nadiya is. I think the Explaining My Culture To The Presumed-Ignorant Viewer was done with a great deal of grace and straightforwardness. This week of all weeks I really appreciated the segment where two young articulate women (Nadiya and her cousin) talked about the importance to them of wearing hijab.
There is a second part next week after the GBBO. I'm looking forward to it very much, if I can pull off being free to watch them both in time again.