A roundup of weird shit. You know you love these.

OK, quick update on me:

Nighthawk had his annual check-for-thyroid-cancer low-iodine-diet dance all last week, so things were craziness. Lots of driving to and from Philly hospital appointments, baking, and cooking and… well… do you know anyone who needs a couple of pints of nuts and dried fruit?

Liable to make some scary scary fruitcake.

Anyway, the radiation scans came back normal so we might be out of the torture business (at least using the radioactive iodine testing method) for a damned long time, which makes me happy.

This week I work like crazy, or try to. Monday was all about catching up on everything that had happened while I was out half of last week, and today was an all-day seminar by Edward Tufte. The seminar might result in yet-another-redesign for the comic here, but not tonight. Besides, I’m pretty sure I need to write a plugin before I give that a good honest run.

This evening has been about Inbox Zero, which I’m not likely to succeed at because there are 327 messages on the cystic fibrosis support group account that I want to read to keep track of what the hell the federal government is doing with this whole healthcare thing.

Saturday we leave for vacation down in Virginia Beach. Faithful ideaphile basschica (and incredibly awesome sister) will be here watching the terror twins, and I will go worship Neptune until Nighthawk drags me kicking and screaming back into the car. This is also known as Thursday.

Update done. Now for the weird shit:

Via @chris71williams, a Shawn Tan short story on The Guardian.

Via Neil Gaiman, well, see for yourself.

The battle in Chez Gibson rages on about whether it’s better or worse than Leonard Nimoy’s Bilbo Baggins, which appears to have disappeared off the ‘net again. Damn. Anyway, it’s a sticky little tune.

That’s all for now….

A bit more upbeat

Today we rediscovered the world of processed food. Saltines, it turns out, are the world’s greatest food when you haven’t been allowed to have anything pre-salted in three weeks. Steak sandwiches and pierogis have also hit the menu. There is no baking taking place in the kitchen tonight. The stew does not have to be inspected six times over. I find myself putting all the Kosher foods away on the first night of Hanukkah. I consider us paid up throught Lent of 2050 on the giving up of food things.

And it’s the weekend, which means that even though I still haven’t done anything to prepare for Christmas, I’ve got a shot at it. For the first time in over 13 years, it’s 10 days before Christmas and my husband has done more shopping than I have. Things Must Be Rectified.

I’m still exhausted, but it’s the exhausted of someone who sees the light of home on the horizon — of things returning to normalcy — of delivery people and pre-roasted chickens and potatoes from a box and eggs that come in shells and bread that comes pre-sliced. In a few more days the dog will be underfoot again and maybe, just maybe, we’ll find time to put the tree up.

I’ve declared myself a firm disbeliever in radiation, though as with anyone in an interfaith relationship I’ve promised to respect Nighthawk’s belief in subatomic particles. I stole a hug yesterday, and will steal another one yet tonight. I can smile again.

Tired in all the wrong ways.

Radiation. It’s, well, weird. You can’t see it, smell it, taste it, or sense it in any of the usual ways, but it’s just as real as the things you can see or smell or taste or feel.

Nighthawk received his radiation dose today — the big one, the one that will (in theory) kill any thyroid cells that remain in his body, and in turn kill any cancer that they might carry with them.

There wasn’t much ceremony to the event. The attending physician went over all the don’ts, no kissing/etc. for 7 days, no sleeping in the same bed for 5 days, no being in the same room for the first 24 hours, no significant exposure to public places for the next 7 days, no this, no that, no whatever. There were some positives — the dreaded Low Iodine Diet finally ends Friday and the new thyroid drugs are started. In theory, everything after that slides back toward normal, or the new state of normal that we’ll develop for the purpose.

And me, I’m tired. I’m more tired now, seeing the end of the tunnel than I was a few days ago when this was the event we were all waiting for. I don’t know why, to be honest. Maybe it’s all the restrictions. When you’ve spent all but four nights of your entire married life allowed to be within inches of this person who’s a part of you and suddenly he’s got to be way over there or the invisible heebie-jeebies might get you, it’s hard. It’s hard to not kiss him goodnight.

I’ve put three hundred miles on the car in three days. Three trips to and from the hospital and one trip out to Lancaster to help some friends. I’ve cooked and cleaned and organized until I could fall over and there’s still dozens of things to do. The Christmas cards are in their wrappers in a bag in the other room. The tree’s still in its box. I haven’t bought a single present for anyone. Hell, the blanket I started knitting last winter for a spring baby shower and a summer baby is still left unfinished in the dining room. Tomorrow I go back to work, with what energy I cannot fathom.

Maybe I’ll use the radiation I absorbed today. Sure, I can’t see it, smell it, or touch it, but I can’t do any of those things to hope either, and as corny as this sounds I think that might be the only thing keeping me going. Hope that 2007 will be a healthier year, that we can go without surprises for a little while, that somewhere there’s a place to stop and recharge.

Adventures in Culinary Experience.

So. Nighthawk is scheduled for a radiation treatment in two weeks, which according to all things thyroid cancer means that now he gets to spend two weeks on a low-iodine diet (LID). (Keeping low levels of iodine in the system now will result in what few thyroid cells he’s got left — the ones we’re trying to kill so they don’t get cancerous — getting really really thirsty for the radioactive iodine he’ll get two weeks fron now. Somewhere, one of my dozen-odd grammar teachers just cringed in pain at that sentence structure, but doesn’t know why.)

Anyway, the low-iodine diet means avoiding food high in iodine, only eating small amounts of food low in iodine, and mostly eating iodine-free foods.

Or summed up differently, no dairy, no seafood, no soy, no egg yolks or foods containing egg yolk, no chocolate, no iodized salt, no bread/bakery products because they’re probably fortified and/or contain iodized salt, no prepackaged food because it might contain iodized salt, or red dye number 3.

He can have six ounces of meat a day, pasta that doesn’t contain any of the stuff in the last paragraph (which means semolina or rice noodles, or yolk-free kosher egg noodles, thank you Manischewitz!), up to 4 servings of bread that we make ourselves following low-iodine guidelines, or other grains like oatmeal and similar grainy things or salt-free Matzos (thanks again Manschewitz!), sugar, jam, jelly, honey, soda, tea, beer, wine, fruit joices, and all the fruits and veggies you want as long as you’re not including rhubarb, marachino cherries, rhubarb, or the aforementioned soybeans.

Now, add to that the fact that with his Cystic Fibrosis and Cystic Fibrosis related Diabetes, he’s supposed to maintain a 3000 calorie per day diet (minimum) to maintain weight, and he needs to do it in such a way that he can keep his sugar under control.

Yeah, we’re screwed.

But so far in the last 36 hours I’ve baked cranberry-applesauce muffins, made LID-safe beer bread, and made tomato sauce entirely from scratch that wasn’t absolutely horrible. I’ve learned that my stonewear loaf pan is not yet seasoned to the point that it’s safe to bake bread without some kind of Pam. I’ve learned that a butter knife is not the optimal tool for prying bread out of a stonewear loaf pan. I’ve learned that sugar will cut the acidity from tomato sauce. Sugar, brown sugar, some honey, and gee-that-still-tastes-acidic-to-me more brown sugar might, in fact, be overkill.

And no, neither of us have any idea how much sugar’s in any of this stuff, so the diabetes, yeah, that’s been fun.

But I’m learning to cook…. that’s good, right?