You know – tibbles – a summary of bits and pieces – catching up with the highlights from a time period in which I’ve been either too lazy, busy, crazed or tied up by kidnappers to update my blog for my faithful reader(s). They are like stringettes. Individual stringettes… Simpson’s Individual Stringettes – for attaching notes to pigeon’s legs, DESTROYING HOUSEHOLD PESTS…. NO, no, no – I shan’t go down that road, I shall not. Tying up very small parcels…

Mock all you want; this phrase will be sweeping the nation before you can say…uhm..before you can say – “SIMPSON’S INDIVIDUAL STRINGETTES!” Ah, but where to start.

Well, on December 22, 2007, my darling niephew (that all-encompassing phrase “niephew” will sweep the Nation, too – I have no doubt) Anders turned three AND truly beautiful baby Moses Giles Samuelson-Lynn was born (who doesn’t look ANYTHING like Winston Churchill or Chairman Mao, as babies often do at first).
Anders in the First Snow 2007

In January, hearty congratulations to lovely Niephew Sarah who officially graduated (with excellent test scores, indeed). There was even a ceremony with two dozen or so other “non-traditional” students. My faux Niephew, Tyler, was even one of the speakers (it was awesome – he gave a completely extemporaneous graduation speech – I think the sweeping hand gestures made it). They gave them diplomas and tassels, but had I known their would NOT be caps and gowns (even LEIF got a cap and gown to graduate from St. Marguerite’s kindergarten) I’d have loaned her mine (from my University graduation – yes, I had to BUY it – I could rant about how stupid that is – but she could have been the first high school graduate with a Phi Kappa Phi ribbon on their ensemble).

This past Tuesday I took Grandma Lee (SHHHHHHHH – DON’T TELL HER – REMEMBER: EVERYTHING I SAY ABOUT GRANDMA IS A SECRET FROM HER) to get her chemo pump attached and for her first radiation treatment. She had an Implantable Venous Access Port (a “Super” or “Power Port) put in last week and tattoos and other preparations for her radiation. I think it’s a great delivery system for her. They’ve been able to give her iron infusions through it and blood samples. And when she’s not hooked to her chemo pump she can even shower because the port is under the skin.
WEIRD fashion-style photography of the Implantable Venous Access Port

The chemo pump is amazing. Over the course of a week it dispenses a gradual dose of chemotherapy (in her case FU5) in a small machine that you carry around in a fanny pack (alright you Brits – STOP LAUGHING – “Bum Bag”). This lessens possible side effects and makes her simultaneous treatments (chemo and radiation) so much easier. They just refill it every week and flush out her port.

I wish she felt better, but the size of the tumor is substantial (it’s a “bulky” mass that’s probably been growing and bleeding for a long time) and it compromises the walls of the colon. Since her lymph nodes are involved as well, one of the specialists said it was important to shrink the tumor before they did any surgery. He was also so concerned about a possible bowel blockage that he inserted a stent to keep her colon open. I’d no idea that you could do that. I’d make a joke in poor taste that she was jealous of my Dad’s two stents and had to get a bigger one and put it in an – uhm – unexpected location, but it’s not really funny; she’s incredibly uncomfortable. We believe she’s probably in pain as well, but she won’t cop to anything but “discomfort.” Hopefully when the tumor shrinks she’ll get some relief. Three radiation treatments down, twenty-two to go: You hang in there,
Grandma! (shhhhhh)


Today – mmm – yesterday, technically, as we are the medical havoc and ruination family, Shirleen had eye surgery. Well, tear duct surgery, to be more specific (up through her nose). She has an unusual condition (WHAT – Shirleen has an unusual condition?) that causes her left tear duct to run constantly and squirt arbitrarily. They were not able to find a non-surgical solution (flushing it out and whatnot), so after they scanned to make sure there was nothing in her eye orbit that might even be connected to her brain (or something like that) she helped schedule her own surgery (since she works in the hospital in that department). She even threatened to get off the table in a surgical gown and go to work if they made her wait or something.

Anyhoo, the surgery was quick and successful (even though the doctor had to repair a deformed nasal turbinator – ?). Unfortunately, in recovery her nose started to hemorrhage. And why? Because if some sort of freakish thing can happen to Shirleen during a medical and/or dental procedure it likely will. They successfully stopped the bleeding; this process evidently involved something called a “nose torpedo.” She’s still wearing it, from what I understand. OH, ALAS, FOR YOUR SCHNOZ TO BE BETTER VERY SOON, SHIRLEEN! Oh – and anyone who wants is welcome to pass that along – go crazy.

And my dear Monkey Cats, your Crazy Heathen Aunt Cake Kate hasn’t forgotten you. How could she? YOU HAUNT HER DREAMS! Ha ha. In a GOOD way? It was Solo and Ensemble Competition time again on Wednesday. No prevaricating blossoms of any kind this year; we had placid Ernest Charles trio, Clouds, this time. They did a very lovely job, and I don’t think I made the “bell-like” chords sprinkled throughout the piece entirely TOO cacophonous (in performance). My principal goal for me was to NOT repeat the rubber-chicken-moment debacle of last year’s competition.

I also played for M.C. Nessa’s solo. She sang a lovely Fauré piece that I massacred when I played it for M.C. Amy’s audition for Chamber Choir last year (they took her in spite of my über-dissonant additions). I was very proud of her because she introduced herself DECLARATIVELY and CONFIDENTLY (AMEN), sang lovely French and, most importantly, kept going and was poised when she forgot some lyrics. A lesson for ALL PERFORMERS. Oh – and with MY Monkey Cats there’s never an “Adam and Eve” pose in sight.

I even got to do an almost completely unrehearsed performance of Bist Du Bei Mir with a euphonium player. “Little King,” a wee freshman, was abandoned by his accompanist a couple of hours before the competition, so I agreed that I’d probably be better than nothing (M.C. Amy would have certainly played it better, but she was already accompanying seven thousand people and singing with another five hundred or something very, very close to that). It was a very creative performance that sounded nothing like Lady of Spain. And I’ve no doubt that he will learn some semblance of tempo with a little more experience. The tone was nice… Oh – and Adam Keith owes me $15. I’ll take that in small cash bills. (?)

We found my entirely too grown-up Niephew Will ACTUALLY FILLING OUT PERFORMANCE REVIEWS. He became an honorary Monkey Cat for the evening, did the “Money Dance” at arbitrary moments throughout the afternoon/evening (he’s on the Junior Varsity Ballroom Dance Team – that’s really all the explanation I can dream up). We deviated from tradition with a Jamba Juice break, but we did end up with the requisite Taco Bell feast. We waxed nostalgic about past Taco Bell feasts, talked about their plans after high school (They are graduating! My baby Monkey Cats are Graduating. Monkey Kittens?) and they confirmed that I am, indeed, very, very old. You’ve just gotta love them. Hugs and Kisses, Monkey Cats!