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Monday, June 28, 2010

Finding Light





For I am a creature of spirit and substance
These things are my heritage:
That the dawn will always follow night.
That the rain will bring forth growth.
That life is full of purpose.
And for these things I give thanks.

I just received a phone call with the results from my second surgery last week: clear margins (meaning the area around the tumor was free of cancerous cells) and negative lymph nodes (meaning the cancer had not moved past my lymph nodes and into the rest of my body.
And I want to share it with you.
Thank you for the love and prayers, thank you from ever corner of my heart, from every inch of my body, and from every wisp of my soul.
The road to healing has TRULY begun!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sheesh, and here we go again

~ Please forgive me for yet another post of such medical matter, but to be honest my brain has been wearing a fuzzy wool sweater for the last week AND the following is the news that is news today. Scrim, scroll or skimp if you like (you won't hurt my feelings, promise they're a bit distracted right now anyways, chasing little flickers of light across the mantle and trying to decide on the next mug of tea), but I promise to return sooner rather than later with stories of my REAL life and not of this whole C business. But for now, honesty first. ~

Well I know this is rather late in the game, but decisions seems to happen either weeks and weeks down the line OR in a matter of mere moments.

The results from the surgery last were partially great and partially, well, partially resulting in the decision to go back in for Le Surgery NĂºmero Dos, which happens to be in a matter of hours. Actually I'm throwing back broth and glasses of water like it's going out of style before my "total fasting" hour kicks in (On a deserted island I'd be the first to go if there was no water. Drink like a camel. That's me.). The super short story is the doctors want to remove a bit more to be certain that the cancerous cells were contained and test a few more lymph nodes, and I'd rather know for sure than be told "We mostly got it all." As I'm sure you would agree.

At first when I received the call from the surgeon I'm was so terribly disappointed. The surgery was so smooth, the recovery so manageable, and I felt so bouyed up by love and support that I expected with full certainty the results to be perfect.

I considered being angry, held that small nugget of rage in the palm of my hand, but after examining it's pocked and burned surface, I decided it wasn't what I wanted and I let it fall to the floor with a sharp plink. Not that I haven't already held it tightly in my fist, shaking it in the air, screaming into the atmosphere, and not that I may pick it back up and throw it at the nearest pane of glass, but not now. Not right here.

It was a first. This strange sense of calm and composure in the face of something that would generally pull the rug out from beneath and leave me sprawled on the floor for hours. But I think the answer I've found this week has been this:

1. There is so much that is positive.
2. All the love that has been given freely to me, all the belief, all the care, all the support that has wrapped me in a cloak softer than cashmere and stronger than wool does not always change the physical results within the body. However, it lifts me up above the swamps of despair and holds my arm steady until I find my footing once again.
3. Oftentimes, chocolate cookies really help.

- The Nitty Gritty Details -
Surgery Number 2
Thursday June 24th at 10 am PST

I've already placed my order (thank you BC) for a Mango-Papaya smoothie on the road home from the hospital. See you all on the other side of a sweet dream and some ice chips.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Concise List of Healing

Burying one's nose in a fresh bunch of lavender, breathing deep. Repeat.
Enjoying the first fruits of a garden: the first strawberry (still a touch too tart, but sun-warmed and worth it all the same), the first radishes slipped from the soil and barely dusted before being crunched into, the first bowl of sugar snap peas, each plumper than the last.
Holding, arranging, examining treasures of driftwood shared from the beach excursions of others.
Short jaunts out to breakfast (ohhh the vegan potatoes at Big Blue Cafe! and OH! I still have some leftovers...) and the farmer's market before falling back into bed.
Sitting on the back steps in the late afternoon sun talking with one's soul sister.
Logging more hours in bed in one week than in an average month.
Fresh deliveries of tulips, iris, and moss-filled bark slabs.
Countless cups of tea, whole pints of blueberries, and the kind of fussing only one's parents can deliver.
Being snuggled on by furry piles of kitty.
Resting easy on the wings and winds of love and prayers from friends near and far.

From the cushy depths of my sofa,
and with all my adoration,
- Umber

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two Quick Things

1. A sneak peak... with more to come later.

2. When I say quick, I mean quick. I found out late this morning that I was going in for surgery tomorrow (that's Wednesday June 16th) at 11:00 am PST to kiss this tumor that's been hanging out in Lady Lefty goodbye. EGADS that's good news! My stomach has been twirling like a marching band for the last five hours but deep down, I feel confident in my strength, positive about my outcome, and ready to move forward with this phase of my life. So please please, give a thought to the ladies and I tomorrow as we wheel in wearing thick socks and a tasteless flasher-hospital gown!


... I walk into the studio and the light dances up the walls and glazes softly over my canvas.

... I mix paint with such a fervor the whole room sings with the slap of my knives on a glass palette.

... I can't be bothered to find new music after an album ends, and work to the sound of brushes sliding over canvas and the rhythm of my own breathing.

... I wonder how I could possibly be hungry after I had just eaten lunch (and then realize it's after 11:30 pm).

I've started a new series. All at once it's familiar and foreign and fresh and bold and subtle. It's the combination of small slices of self-evaluation and the meshing of five separate ideas. It's full of messages, reminders to myself, spelled out for the world more clearly than I've ever worked.

I poured myself into eight square inches yesterday and created something that's looking back at me now.

I can't wait to show you.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Does anyone else out there consider their relationship with their cat (or dog!) to be slightly codependent? Does tree climbing together hint at that?


Anyone at all?

Monday, June 7, 2010

From My Sketchbook, June 7th 2010

I am being utterly overwhelmed by all that is alive this very moment, just within the humble confines of my own backyard. It's as if sometime last night, when the moon was obscured by this dense marine fog and the night creatures had sought the safety of their nests, a rebirth occurred. Not some large flashy event where the stars shone down and the tempests shook, but a quiet, hidden event. One that passed in a silent strain noticed only by the mitochondria who never sleep. But it did happen. And when the winds pressed hard against the mist and light once again illuminated these soft edges, it was there.

Like something I could balance on a single fingernail but with a potency that saturates every life force breathing in this particular brand of atmosphere. I could see it in the slender blushing shoulders of the radishes and the plump drop of the season's first sugar snap peas. It was evident in the smallest bulbs of new raspberries, pale and hard but swelling ever outward. I could hear in the trill of the red-faced finch and in the sharp hum of the bumble bees.

I think to myself: this is why I eat, this is the whole meaning behind that base need. Look at this Life,
this pulsing,
spinning Life!
I would consume, I would be consumed, I would be caught up in this flood that dances so fast across the soil for a glimpse of eternity manifest in a single aged ray of sunlight. I would be this part, this element so carefully constructed into the great web of organisms sharing life, each interpreting and reinterpreting photosynthesis, changing the structure of energy once again. This is it. This is why. This is Life.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wherein the Pot calls the Kettle Green

I'm positively obsessed with chartreuse. It's nearly an illness. I should join a chromaholics anonymous, where I'll stand up in a church basement and utter the words "Hi, my name is Umber and I'm a chromaholic with a special penchant for greens of all shades. And turquoise. And burnt orange since we're on the subject. It's been less than three seconds since my last color swoon and more than five weeks since I wore black." And everyone else will respond "Hello Umber" and say kind things while they squeeze the fushia handkerchief hidden deep in their pocket.

Actually that sounds truly awful. Scratch that idea. I'm going to wallow in my chromophillia till the end of my days. Black and White be damned!

Apparently it's a day for strong opinions. Somedays are just like that.

It's also a day for a pot of soup.

Bottoms up me chickadees!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From woods and water

When I left last week I felt like a treasure hunter.

And treasure I found.

My cup, which has seen little else besides a few swirling dregs, is filling up. I'm willing it to overflow. For the first time since the move, since the call, I opened up the door to my studio, spread out a huge sheet of paper and began to work in earnest.

There are little splish splashes all over the floor.

I think the cup might be running over.