Sunday, 31 December 2006

Sound of Music

What a day! It's been the worst ever. However at 9:00pm I went to bed and turned on the radio to listen to a series of wonderful programmes on musicals. The one I'm listening to right now is about The Sound of Music. It had me wanting to watch it again and if I weren't ill I'd like to have danced down the stairs. Oh dear, is this the effect of the chemo again! I'm now up and sitting in the living room listening to the end of the documentary. Thank heavens that BBC radio had something other than retrospectives on a rather difficult year.

This has been a day of music and I suppose that music can do so much to keep you going. The first DVD that i watched was Bride and Prejudice. Writing this reminds me that I listened to a wonderful programme on World Service (The Ticket)in the middle of the night last night about music for film and it included a section on Bollywood. The second DVD was Delovely, the bio-musical on Cole Porter. There was a wonderful cathartic moment at the end that allowed me to have a good cry which I was really in need of! (Sorry to those who don't like prepositions at the end of sentences!)

I am trying to look positively on the year ahead. However, the pain at the moment makes it hard. I know that I only have two more sessions of chemo but how much worse will each be. Then of course there's the radiotherapy. I do know that I have learned a lot from this experience but I'd rather look on that at some later date. Am I wallowing in self pity? No, I think I'm just trying to get through one day at a time at the moment.

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Day 3 of Chemo

This chemo really has hit me harder. All the symptoms are coming more quickly. I have greater and almost immediate sensitivity in my fingers and toes. I also have pain in my joints and legs/fingers. Luckily the nausea is now under control.

I bet you really needed to know all that!

So not much more to say about anything at the moment. More later perhaps!

Friday, 29 December 2006

The morning after chemo 3

It's just gone four in the morning and I'm having a post-chemo wakeful moment. The day went fine yesterday. Cliff took me for the first time and Naomi came along with him. I was concerned that it would bother them since neither of them like hospitals but they seemed to cope alright. I was more strongly affected by the drugs this time and became very tired almost immediately. That meant that they had very little conversation out of me and what they did have didn't make a lot of sense. We managed to get there quite early and so I started on the chemo just after 10 and was on the way home by 2:10.

I haven't written for a few days because life has been so hectic and I've been trying to rest up in anticipation of yesterday's treatment. Both Naomi and James, and my friend Melanie from Kansas City arrived on Boxing Day. We also had a visit that day from another friend, Bernard and from Emma and Mike. It was quite a full house!

More later. I'm going to try and go back to sleep now!


Yes, I did sleep but not for long. In fact I'm already to try and sleep again. I've continued to feel sick but I haven't thrown up. Thank Heavens! Melanie has already left for Germany and Naomi has just gone for the train back to Swansea. We are on our own again! At this moment I am typing and trying to watch an Australian film called Australian Rules. (4pm: I didn't finish it. I wasn't really into boy coming of age movies. Maybe later.)

Monday, 25 December 2006

Christmas Day

This is our first Christmas with no one here but us when we woke up. It was strange and actually made it feel as if it were just a regular day, except that the radio wasn't as good. This makes me wonder about Christmas. Was it only ever the children's holiday? What is an adult Christmas like? I'm about to find out! Peter and his partner,Marketa, and Emma and Mike should arrive in the next few hours. I haven't been to church this year. In fact I haven't left the house since Saturday's visit to Waitrose (supermarket). I just don't have the energy.

After dinner

We had a lovely visit with Peter and Marketa. They brought their instruments and played and sang for us. They were wonderful. What a shame they couldn't have stayed longer. Mike and Emma stayed till 5 or so and then went on to dinner with Mike's parents. Peter and Marketa left about 6:30. We watched Doctor Who at 7. It was as good as ever! The whole day was very low key. I suppose that it's just what I needed but it seemed rather flat.

Has anyone read any of the philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. I'm trying to find a good translation. I looked at the Penguin edition but it's rather dry. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Producer of MGM Musicals

I've had two comments asking for the name of the producer I talked about. It was Arthur Freed. I'm going out to buy some more of his films after the holiday.

Christmas Eve

When I talked yesterday of enduring the supermarket, I had no idea how true that would be. We were in the queue for the check out for nearly an hour. Luckily, everyone was in a good mood and we had some interesting conversations. However, I came home from the experience quite exhausted and that led to me becoming very depressed. I have fought back from that I will try to keep it in mind that I mustn't let myself get too tired.

Later in the day

I have finally finished wrapping presents and have a strawberry and rhubarb pie in the oven. The triffle will have to wait till tomorrow. I just don't have the energy for it. I watched an interesting documentary on the man who produced Singing in the Rain. He started as a song lyrisist (wrote Singing in the Rain), became an assistant producer and finally headed up the most successful unit at MGM (Singing in the Rain, Meet me in St. Louis, GiGi, Showboat, American in Paris to name but a few). His name escapes me at the moment but if anyone is interested I will look it up. Then again, maybe I'm the only one who likes musicals.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Run up to Christmas

I'll start by thanking Emjay for a posting a comment yesterday about poaching fish. Sounds good and I'm going to try it.

The fog is still with us but it is not as intense. Travellers are beginning to fly out of Heathrow and hopefully all will be home for Christmas. I have the supermarket to endure today. I would have done it all earlier in the week but I only have an under the counter fridge so I can't store that much. I also thought that it would be best to buy the fish as close to Christmas as possible. However, I won't buy it at the supermarket. There's an excellent fish monger in Virginia Water.

I have baking to do as well. I'm not making cookies this year since I was given so many in my hampers but I did promise Emma some brownies and my famous rhubarb and strawberry pie. I think that I'll shop today and cook tomorrow. I only have a certain amount of energy and I don't want to use it up all in one go.

I must admit that I don't feel very Christmasy this year and that's a shame since I really enjoy Christmas. I haven't gotten around to putting up a tree and the only other decorations are the cards and a wreath. Cliff and I decided for the first time not to do stockings for each other. I know it's the logical thing to do but I'm really going to miss them. I think I like the stockings more than anything else.

I think that part of the problem is that I have been thinking far to much about the chemo next Thursday. I suppose that it's because the last time I was so sick and depressed. I'm sure that I can overcome that this time by not tiring myself out. However, it hangs over me at the moment.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Sea voyages

The other day I read an article in the Guardian about travelling across the Atlantic by boat. I have done that. 5 times in fact. But a long time ago. It did get me thnking and I had a look at the Cunard site. Cliff and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary next June and wouldn't it be great to take the Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to New York next year and then go up to Canada by train. I sent for a brochure and it arrived today. My goodness what wonderful state rooms! Some are bigger than my house. I had hoped to go to Cuba in February but we can't becaue of my chemo. We can't go at Easter either because I'll just be finishing the radiotherapy. A boat voyage in June sounds good. My only concern is that Castro may die before I ever do get to Cuba.

Just a few more days till Christmas. I haven't managed to do all my present shopping but I just don't have the energy and so I'm not going to worry about it. Tomorrow I finish with what we need for Christmas dinner (including fish for Marketa). I'm not good with fish so I hope I get it right.

How are your plans going?

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Fog, fog and more fog!

Yes, it is still foggy as the title implies. All domestic flights from Heathrow have been cancelled and some of the international flights. I feel sorry for people who have had to wait till now to fly. They have long waits ahead. Hopefully this weather condition which is hanging over the UK will move on soon.

I've been working on my book this week. I was very disciplined with it when I started and then I started chemo and returned to school. The combination of the two made it difficult to keep up the writing of 1000 words a day. I am hoping to get back on track over this holiday.

I used to think that I couldn't leave the UK because I couldn't bare to leave BBC radio 4. Now of course I can listen to it over the internet or download podcasts. If I can, so can you. I would like to recommend In Our Time with Melvin Bragg. This week, as I write in fact, the topic is the history of hell. Here is the synopsis from the website:

A fiery vault beneath the earth or as Sartre put it, other people - it seems our ideas of hell are inevitably shaped by religious and cultural forces. For Homer and Virgil it’s a place you can visit and return from, often a wiser person for it. With Christianity it’s a one way journey and a just punishment for a sinful, unrepentant life.

Writers and painters like Dante and Hieronymus Bosch gave free rein to their imaginations, depicting a complex hierarchical world filled with the writhing bodies of tormented sinners. In the 20th century hell can be found on earth in portrayals of war and the Holocaust but also in the mind, particularly in the works of TS Eliot and Primo Levi.

So what is the purpose of hell and why is it found mainly in religions concerned with salvation? Why has hell proved so inspirational for artists through the ages, perhaps more so than heaven? And why do some ideas of hell require a Satan figure while others don't?

Last week I listened to a spellbinding programme on the development of mathematics and Indian mathematicians. Gripping stuff! I'll put up a link to the site.

I have people coming over for lunch. They're bringing it but I would like to make dessert so I'm off now to do that. Perhaps I'll make the brownies! Yum!

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

The newer Beta Blogger

This probably doesn't mean anything to you but apparently today is the first day of the 'newer beta blogger'. With luck that means that you won't have any further problems posting comments. Time will tell!

As I look out my window, I can't see that much! For the last two days we have had very heavy fog. It's at moments like these that I would happily be somewhere where there is lots of snow. Not for long, mind you. However, my friend in Reno sent a postcard today with a beautiful picture of Lake Tahoe on it. I could enjoy that view over fog for quite a long time! (By the way Emjay, no package yet.)

No chemo effects anymore except the strange feeling in my fingers. However, I am now on the countdown to the next chemo treatment on December 28th. Naomi, my oldest daughter, will be coming down on the 27th and is going to come with me for the day of chemo. I may suggest that she goes into Guildford for part of the time since I know how she feels about hospitals and needles.

I have nearly finished all my Christmas preparations. I'm so glad I got much of it done before I went back to school. How are you doing? I've decided that I am going to work hard (not too hard) next year to do the same and be finished most preparations by December 1st. I also plan to simplify Christmas but not Christmas dinner. I do enjoy preparing for and cooking the Christmas feast. Peter, my brother, is coming for dinner and we will be meeting his partner Marketa (hope I spelled it correctly!) for the first time. She does not eat meat so I am looking for recipes for a fish course. Anyone have any ideas? I suppose it depends on the type of fish I can find. There is a good fish monger in Virginia Water so I will go along on Saturday and see what I can find.

On Friday I'm going to try and go up to London. I was talking to a lady on the bus about it yesterday and she made me realize that I'm not really going there to pick up a tart or buy a few last minute items, but to enjoy the buzz of the season and look at the windows.

Did you hear about what happened to Hamleys in London? That is the big toy store on Regent's Street. They have lost millions on an internet mistake that had people buying at heavily discounted prices. Click on Hamleys above for the link.

I just went hunting for that story and have discovered that Hamley's had decided not to sell the toys after all. Apparently people are upset. However, you can't really blame Hamleys.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006


Back from the cinema, I regret that the film wasn't worth the while. All I can say is that they should have stuck to the plot of the book! What a shame they didn't! So if you are looking for a good Christmas film, don't bother with this one. However, the book is quite good.

Problem with comments?

I have a friend who is going to create a blog for a trip she is escorting to Papua New Guinea. She can't decide which site to put it on. One of her concerns with this one is the facility for commenting. Could anyone out there who has had problems commenting, try to let me know via the comment function, and if you can't, let me know by email: or

Has anyone else started blogging since reading this? Or, perhaps you were already 'blogging'. Emma, my youngest daughter has been doing so for quite a while. I'd be interested in knowing. Have you found any blogs that you find interesting?

I'm off to the cinema to see the movie of Eragon shortly so I will stop now and post more later.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Blogs and More on Baldness!

Funny isn't how you start on a thread and suddenly it pops up all over the place. I heard a story yesterday about a temple in India where people have their hair cut off to help them cast off their vanity. The hair used to be sold to orthodox Jewish women (who shaved their heads) in the form of wigs. At some point, it was decided that these wigs weren't kosher and the market for the hair dried up. Now the hair is made into hair extensions so that western women can pander their vanity. How ironic!

I don't mean to belabour the question of baldness but it was been a great discovery for me. I am considering going out without my head covering at some point but it is a bit cold at the moment. Emjay asked where I was getting my scarves from. If anyone is interested, try They are great!

Now on to blogs again. Woman's Hour on BBC radio 4 is going to serialize the blog of a young woman from Baghdad who has been writing since 2003. The blog looks interesting and I've provided a link to it for you. You might also want to check it out on the bbc website. You'll be able to listen to their dramatization.

Saturday, 16 December 2006


Day 12 and the only effect of the chemo now is the sensitivity in my fingers and toes. Thank heavens! So, this blog does not need to have its focus for the moment on illness, anymore than my life does. I did however order more scarves today from the States. I think that scarves are more my thing than wigs. Not that I won't wear the wig now that I've bought it. It's just that every time I look in the mirror I think I'm looking at the kid who played Annie in the musical. Not quite the image I want to cultivate! Both scarves and wigs can make you very hot. They just don't breathe the way real hair does. Obviously! Given the choice I would rather have to take off a scarf in public than a wig.

Continuing on the subject of hair and hair loss, I have discovered that I don't have a problem being bald. I might have a problem with other people seeing me bald in case it upsets them. The most difficult part being bald is becoming bald. Once the hair has gone, once it is no longer falling out all over the house, then it's just fine.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Last day of school before the holidays

Well, I've made it through the last two weeks but only barely! Three days off out of 10! Ah well, at least I know that I'll have to rest more after the next chemo session (December 28th, just to ruin the end of holiday)! It's the 'Winter Assembly' today and I'm missing it! Many of you know how I feel about it. They've decided to call it an International Assembly to completely get away from the religious nature of the season. The school is so unfestive! It's rather depressing. You can't help but wonder who the grinch was.

I had a big surprise last night. I received an email from the upper school secretary inviting Cliff and I to a little 'do' in our honour at 12:30 today. How sweet of everyone! It was rather funny though because I had just gotten home from buying goodies to put in the main staff room to thank everyone for all their support. I'm going to take it in anyway. They'll be people who don't make it to the lunch time get together for us. More on that later.

It will be so nice to be off school, though as I said, I haven't been all that 'on' in the last two weeks. I will get caught up on marking over the next few days and plan out classes and set exams for when I go back. Then I'll take the rest of the holiday off.

Well, what a surprise I had. I thought that I was going to a little get together. Something to drink, a little something to eat, conversation with good friends. Instead, there was a huge gathering of people with a presentation of three hampers full of Christmas goodies and other treats. It was so overwhelming! The picture above was taken at the presentation by the librarian, Sandra Houston. The whole thing was organized by Deborah, the high school secretary and Virginia, the high school principal. As Emma, my youngest says, wow, this is the best Christmas ever!

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Yes, Moyra, I am teaching again!

Today my head of school discovered that I was back teaching. Only by accident, did she discover this as she passed by window. Luckily, a window and wall separated us, or she might have taken it into her mind to hug me. That would have been more than I could take, more than anyone on chemo should be asked to endure!

More interesting than the above, was an article Emma, my daughter sent me from the BBC web site. If you haven't visited the BBC site, you should. it's an excellent source of so much information. If you are learning a language the site probably has something that will help. Also, there's a wonderful section on food and recipes. That's where I got the Nigella Lawson recipe for brownies.

Back to the article Emma sent. It was about blogs and blogging. I have put a link to it, if you are interested in learning more. My friend Mary Jane is going to lead a tour group to Papua New Guinea in April and is thinking of using a blog to help with the marketing. I'm using blogs with my French classes. There are all sorts of ways to use them. If you are interested in looking at one, try

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Better, Better, Better

I am feeling better today. Again, tired but no pain and only a hint of nausea! I even managed to go in to school and teach! Tomorrow is day 10, the low point in my chemo cycle but I am feeling positive and don't seem to have picked up any infections! I may even be able to get back to writing my murder mystery! More later!

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Feeling Better

For those wondering, yes, I am feeling better. I'm still tired and get even more tired if I do much of anything. I did not go to work today. I might have been able to but I slept right through till 7:45 and my classes would have started at 8:40. I don't think that I would have made it. I'm going to try for tomorrow. However, I have learned a lesson from this. I will not wear myself out again after chemo. I will take time off and not go back till I'm ready.

Wow, I just looked at the details on the site meter and discovered that someone in Indianapolis has been reading my blog. When I started this blogging 'adventure' I wondered if anyone other than a few friends would be reading it. I wonder how people, other than friends, come across other people's blogs. I ask that question and yet I have some idea of the answer. I have read all sorts of blogs simply by going to the 'blogspot' blogs of note. Very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the blog from Antarctica.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Chocolate Brownies for Christmas

Emma and I love some of Nigella Lawson's Chrismas recipes and in particular her brownies. They are to die for! So here we go:


375g best quality dark chocolate

375g unsalted butter at room temperature at least

1 tablespoon real vanilla extract

6 eggs

350g sugar

1 teaspoon salt

225g plain flour

250g white chocolate buttons, preferably Montgomery Moore, or just chop same amount of good white chocolate

tin measuring approx 33cm x 23cm x 5.5cm

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/350F.
Line your brownie pan base and sides.
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan.
In a bowl or wide mouthed large measuring jug, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
When the chocolate mixture has melted let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the flour.
Finally fold in the white chocolate buttons. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan. Bake for about 25 mins.
The brownies are ready, when the top is dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle is dark and dense and gooey still; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.

I'm going to stay home till I feel better!!

Here I am on the sofa, too exhausted to move. I feel slightly better as far as the pain goes but very, very tired. I tried to go into school but I only lasted half an hour. I had promised my students that I would be there no matter what. However, 'no matter what' has overcome me and I have come to the realization that I must take care of myself first. I knew that intellectually but had to go through this to realize it on a physical level as well.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

A bad day

I am so sick today and was yesterday so I'm afraid that there will be little from me today unless I pick up!

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Rage, Anger, Depression

Yesterday was not a good day. I was very tired, I had a great deal of pain in my bones and joints, and I got very angry and cried my eyes out in the middle of the night. It's interesting how everything is intensified in the middle of the night. I woke up, couldn't sleep because of the pain in my legs and after taking some pain killers, laid there getting angrier and angrier with my employer for so many reasons.

To start with I received a letter from some girl in human resources in which she asked if I was feeling better and then told me that the school wasn't going to pay me anymore! That was in late October but it still angers me. The stress it caused was intense. My principal appealed and it was agreed that I'd be paid till the end of November. However, there was no guarantee that I would be paid after that so I decided that I had no choice but to go back. I had the first chemo and then once I began to feel better, I suggested that I come back in December and teach just my high school classes. I look back at this decision now and wonder if I was mad. After the second chemo, I feel so much worse. I did enjoy teaching last week. The students are wonderful and I realize how much they lift my spirits. I couldn't stay home alone. I'd get myself all upset. At least at the moment I would. But, I've been in so much pain while trying to struggle through the classes. I think that guilt was part of what sent me back. I was particularly worried about my exam year group.

Then there's my head of school. I found myself raging at her. She's not even aware that I'm back at school teaching. Has she phoned to see how I am? No. Actually, I don't even know why that should bother me. I don't like her. She oozes insincerity from every pour of her body. However, you would think that when you've worked with a teacher for over 8 years, you would have something to say to them.

I haven't been this upset throughout my entire illness. Probably, it was the night but I also think that a visit from the MacMillan cancer nurse might have started it off. I found myself talking a lot about what had been happening, especially my dependence on Emma, who seems to be able to handle things better than the rest of the family. However, last night I started worrying that I was overburdening her. It's 8:45 in the morning and everything looks quite different. Well, better anyway.

My hair is still bothering me. Last night I kept dreaming about hair falling out, and teeth as well, come to think of it. My teeth were aching so that probably explains the teeth dream. I had no idea that the way I look would upset me so much. I'm not a vain person, at least I don't think I am. I can't even look in a mirror.

Enough! I'm sorry to go on this way. The sun is shining! I will enjoy the day and try not to get too down about things I can't change.

Thank you to all of you who are giving me so much support. I can't ever express how much it means to me.

Bye for now!

Friday, 8 December 2006

Spies, murder and chemo

The police decreed yesterday that the Russian, former spy, who died in London recently from radioactive poisoning had been murdered. Who would have thought anything else? Would you accidently take something like that or perhaps decide to committ suicide with it. Surely there are less painful ways 'to shuffle of this mortal coil'. If you are at all interest in this continuing story, click here.,,1967289,00.html

Thursday, 7 December 2006

I have finally run out of post-chemo energy. I won't be writing much, if anything tonight. I can barely write or speak without making very amusing mistakes. My wig did arrive today and I look very different with auburn hair. I'll have a picture taken when I feel brave enough to wear it! Bye for now to all!

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Wonderful surprises!

What a great day! Classes were good but beyond that I had two lovely surprises! A good friend at school gave me the most wonderful present, 4 beautiful scarves! And she made them herself. I was so touched I cried in the staffroom. Then when I got home, my friend in Reno had sent me three packages of dry fruits to help me along with my diet. I have only ever heard of the cherries. There were also tropical Mangosteens and Dragon fruit. As I write this I am going to open them and have one of each. First the tropical mangosteen. Surprising! A wonderful subtle fruity flavour and crispy, almost melt in your mouth. Now for the dragon fruit. They are large and purple, verging on black. Also crispy with a suble but tarter flavour. Now for the cherries, morello cherries. According to the package they are quite tart and full of flavour. They are also very small. Yes, the package was correct. I love all of these and am going to take them to school for my snacks. Yum!

Wednesday Morning

I survived the night. I had some feelings of nausea but I wasn't sick at all so that was good. My mum left for Cyprus this morning so I'm on my own now. Well not really, since Cliff and Emma are here. I feel well enough to go to school. I would have gone anyway since I promised my students that I would be there. I only have two groups for a total of 4 periods and should be home by 12:45 so that isn't too bad. It's 6:26 right now and I have just seem mum off, eaten and taken the many pills I have to take each morning (especially just after chemo!), I'll see Cliff off to work and then I am going to lie down for an hour or so before I head off to school. My friend from Papua New Guinea tells me that she does know Ricky Martin because she now lives in Reno where there are a lot of Spanish speaking Americans. But I wonder if she knew him in PNG. You can read her comment with yesterday's post.

Can you believe that the British Prime Minister is considering renewing the Trident missile programme. As if we aren't spending enough money on war as it is! At the same time, our beloved government is thinking of closing hospitals in our area. In fact, one is very close and I received my first blood transfusion there. The other is the one where I will be having my radiotherapy. It is right next door to the private hospital where I am having the chemo. Everyone in this area would be expected to go down the A-3 to hospitals close into London. What madness! I won't even go into their proposals on education. Well, perhaps I will another day. Now I've got myself worked up I'll go to bed for a while!

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

First day of the second cycle

I had chemo again today. We left at 7:40 and got to the hospital an hour later. It's so much longer at rush hour. When I got there I had a blood test and they okayed me for treatment. We could have gone off to something for an hour or so but parking is terrible and once you are in a spot you don't want to move.

I was told that I had done very well with my symptoms. However they were concerned about the slight numbness I have been having in my finger tips. If it continue or gets worse they will have to adjust the medication or I could have nerve damage. If you know nothing of chemo treatment, you receive your medication through an IV over a certain period of time. I started with medication which would counter act the negative effects of the chemo drugs, then I had one of the chemo drugs, followed by a saline solution, another chemo drug and a final bag of saline. For me it took 4 and 1/2 hours but it varies from person to person. Lunch today was wonderful, as good as any restaurant. Again I was very tired and I slept for a good deal of the rest of the time.

And now for something completely different! Did you know that you could clean your toilet bowl and unblock your drain with Alka Seltzer. To clean the toilet, drop two into the toilet, wait for 20 minutes, then brush and flush. To unblock the drain, drop three in, followed by 1 cup of vinegar (8oz), leave for a few minutes, and then flush. The things you read in the National Enquirer! I also now know that Ricky Martin is thinking of adopting overseas. Some on you may be saying, "Who is Ricky Martin?" (Those who recently came from Papua New Guinea, perhaps.) Others, 'Who cares!'"

Monday, 4 December 2006

The Day Before

Today was my first full day back and I have survived without difficulty. Again the students seemed glad to have me back. French 1 was the only class where I had only taught a few of the students before. The supply teachers have done a good job and we will be able to carry one well from this point. I have put together a blog for each of the classes so that I will be able to give them information on assignments, tests, grammar, vocabulary and any web sites that may be useful. if you are interested in looking at one try:

Tomorrow I have my second chemo treatment. I was dreading the first because I had no idea what it would be like. I'm dreading this one because I do. I've promised my students that I will be at school on Wednesday but I remember how I was last time. the only thing on my side is the fact that I only have 3 periods to teach that day. I can come home early and sleep for the rest of the day.

My murder mystery goes well and I have gained all sorts of ideas just by going back to work. It's amazing how a little interaction with people can do that. I still haven't had the chance to investigate how one would go about publishing it. There is a site where you can self publish. I had also thought that since the novel is done in the format of a blog that it should be published on line. However, I'm not sure how to go about that either. Any thoughts from out there?

I had a bath a short while ago and a lot of hair came out. By the end of the week I may be bald. Last night was a particular problem. I kept waking up with hair in my mouth. I'm now really looking forward to being bald. How much easier it will be!

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Books and blogs

Lots of hair loss yesterday! Alas! I may be bald by the end of the week.

School went well Friday. I only had one group form 11:00 till 12:20 but I did stay on for lunch and to work on the handover with the supply teacher. She and I will be sharing my classroom since she is now doing all my middle school classes.

The students seems to appreciate having me back. It helped that in that class of 12 I had already taught 9 of the students in previous years. On Monday I will see the rest of my classes and then on Tuesday I will be off again for chemo. I'm going to try my hardest to be there every day next week no matter how badly I feel.

I've just started reading a new book. I don't know if any of you are interested in fantasy. I'm reading Eragon, a book published for young people but which is equally good for adults. It follows the adventures of a young man who discovers a dragon egg and then becomes one of the legendary Dragon Riders. I was originally attracted to the book because it was written by a 15 year old. This Chrismas it is also coming out as a film.

I have been continuing my voyage of discovery of blogs. I have set up one each for my French classes, which will give me an opportunity to keep in touch with students even when I'm unwell. I got the idea from a teacher in the UK who is using a blog with her A-level English class.

Has anyone else reading this started a blog. It would be interesting to see how others are using them.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Here I go!

I'm off to work shortly for the first time (except for visits) since the end of August. I'm really excited about it. Some of you may find that odd, especially those I work with! (It will be good for material!) I'm going to have to be careful because I'm full of energy at the moment (some might even say speedy) and I have been wearing myself out. In particular I'm finding it hard to sleep because my mind is going a mile a minute. I'll need to learn how to pace myself. I'm sure that my body will bring me back to earth next week when I have the next chemo but I don't want to over do it before then or I won't be in peak condition to have the treatment. I think that reports of my baldness have been exaggerated. Since yesterday I haven't really lost any hair, or anymore than one would expect!

I'll write more when I get back from school.

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Oh no, my hair!

I have just given myself a treatment of coconut oil to stop my head from being itchy and to moisturize my hair. When i took my hands away from rubbing the oil in, I discovered all sorts of hair. I think it's starting. Before you know it I'll look like Patrick Stewart! I've been rather up beat about the idea of being bald up till now. I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up. Cliff suggested that I have people autograph it. I don't think I'm brave enough to show my baldness to the world. Time will tell. I suppose there is always the possibility that a scarf or the wig will accidentally fall off and then...

And no pictures up here of me bald!

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Stranger than fiction

Write certain things in a novel and no one would believe that it was realistic. An obvious example is the spy killed in London using something radioactive. Another would be the Bulgarians killing a defector with a poisoned umbrella tip. We all have events in our lives that people would find hard to believe. Mary Jane, Mike, Cliff, my daughters and I shared a flat in Paris for a few days three years ago. It was a great place but people kept coming in when we were out or in the middle of the night. At one point they rifled through all of the tea that Mary Jane had brought from the far east. It was very odd and a great beginning for a spy or mystery novel. Does anyone have any similar or perhaps even more unbelievable events from their lives. I'd be interested in hearing.

I'm going back to school on Friday. We've agreed on a 2/3rd time table (and salary - oh no!) which will last till after the radiotherapy in late March or mid-April. So, back to the grind or at least back till next Tuesday when I have my next chemo. I will have to talk to the students about my upcoming hair loss. I'm going to wear my scarves starting on Friday so that it won't be such a shock to them. Though I suppose I'm more worried about it than they will be.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Writer's Block

I've been having problems writing. I was lying in bed last night wondering where I was going to go with my novel and thinking that lack of planning was the reason I couldn't write. However, when I first started I promised myself two things: that I wouldn't plan and than I'd try for 1,000 to 1,200 words per day. I've gone off 'piste' so to speak and today I'm going to try and get back on track. So, those of you who are following Evie MacIntyre should have something to read by tomorrow.

I have been to school today to discuss my return. It will either happen on Thursday or Friday of this week. I will be teaching a 2/3rds timetable but have yet to hear if it will also be a 2/3rds salary. There are only 2 1/2 weeks before the Christmas holidays begin so it should be a gentle easing back into the work world. I do have chemo next Tuesday but I'm hoping that I will only lose the Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Murder in London

I'll start by saying that I now know how to link to another site so thank you if you thought about emailing me with information on that!

As you can see, I have posted a picture taken of me taken the Friday before I started chemotherapy (2 and 1/2 weeks ago). I still look like that, including the hair. Apparently I have another week or so before it begins to fall out. I've begun to wear scarves to get in the habit and to get my students used to seeing me like that. In fact, I may be going back to school this week. I'm still waiting to hear from them about when I'll start and what periods I will be teaching. I've suggested that I teach only my high school classes. That would allow me to either start late or not teach in the afternoons.

Have you all heard about the Russian spy who was killed in London, poisoned by radioactive material? It's reminiscent of the cold war. Do you remember the man who was assassinated by the Bulgarian secret service using a poisoned umbrella? It seems that when communism collapsed in Bulgaria they found a supply of these umbrellas in the offices of the secret service. You can't help but wonder why they decided to use such a convoluted way to kill people. Why not a simple gun shot? It's funny actually, because I had the characters in my novel plan the death of someone using radioactivity. That was 3 or 4 weeks ago before this ever came up. The victim didn't die that way. I chose simplicity.

Sunday, 26 November 2006


I spent far too much time last night exploring Blogs and Blogging further. In fact I didn't get to bed till 1 a.m. In part I was seduced by my I-Pod. I sat on the sofa looking back at material and sites I had already found while at the same time listening to all sorts of music. It would have been perfect if I had also had a bar of Green and Black's milk chocolate. Do you have that where you are? It is the best chocolate in the world. I decided when I became ill that I should give up biscuits and such like but Green and Black's chocolate is organic pure chocolate. It must be good for you! I put a piece in my mouth and let it slowly dissolve. Hummm. It might be better than sex.

Back to blogs. I'm trying to find out how to have a word in your document link to a web page. You know what I mean. A word in a sentence is highlighted and when you click on it, it takes you to another site. Anyone know how to do that? Leave me a comment if you do or email me. To this point I have just been putting the whole line in the body of my text.

So what is WYSIWYG? (pronounced wisiwig) It stands for 'what you see is what you get'. I didn't know that till just now. It is a computing term and refers to a system in which content during editing appears very similar to the final product. So, when you work in a word document you can see what the final printed version will look like. Use this word and your friends will be impressed (unless of course they know something about computers)! I think I may call my next cat Wysiwyg.

You probably didn't know I had a cat. He's not really mine. Naomi and James have been living in places where they couldn't have their cat so he has been living with us. We have a love hate relationship. The 'we' includes Cliff, Emma, my mum, the cat and me. He is very prickly and you never know whether you can stroke him without injury. We are all celebrating the fact that he will be going back to Wales over the Chirsmas holiday when Naomi and James get their own house.

I digress! Back to blogs! I'm really excited about the possibilities of blogs. They allow people to have a place on the internet where they can publish. Not everyone wants to publish but those who do, who want to have some sort of interaction with others about their ideas or about the writing itself now have somewhere to go. If you want to keep family and friends in touch with what you are doing, a blog is the perfect tool. Teachers can use it to give information to students and to have a dialogue with them outside of the classroom. I'm using it as a narrative format for my novel. At first I only let certain people read it. I was very nervous about the reaction of others. I've only ever shared my non-fiction writing before (material to do with education). However, I've found that I'm less uptight about my fiction writing in this format. So, if you are interested, let me know and I will send you the information about my 'other' blog.

On a final note, Eurostar has just started a blog for people who are going to Paris and would like to do as the locals do. It offers eight 'voices' - English speaking Parisians, who live and work in the city. They each write about their daily lives and recommend places for you to go. Interesting idea and another use for a blog.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

The I-Pod cometh!

I could never understand why anyone would want an MP3 player. Then I got sick and decided to learn Spanish using CD's. I wanted to be able to listen to them while I was having the chemo. I managed to get an I-pod through the school and suddening I understand exactly what the attraction is. I've just spent the afternoon downloading music and listening to it (not all of it). The sound quality is amazing. I think I'm hooked!

I'm doing a podcasting course at the moment, hoping to find ways to use the I-pod and podcasting in my language classes. If anyone is interested, the course I'm taking is at: However, I'm sure that the major attraction will remain the music and the sound! I even got Cliff listening to it. My technophobe husband was navigating through the menu with no difficulty. Funnily enough he is going to be doing a computer skills updating course at work on Monday. He has yet to figure out how to turn one on. Should be interesting.

Comment Again

I've tried to post a comment and discovered the following. You write your comment, type the word you see in the box and then click the appropriate button. If you click the 'other' button you won't need to worry about having a google account and signing in. You should then get a message saying that your comment has been saved. I hope this helps.

Problems with comments

Some of you have been letting me know by email that you are having problems commenting. I've asked Emma to try and post a comment (she has done so before successfully) and then I will describe exactly what she did. I'm sorry if you've had difficulty. More later today!

Friday, 24 November 2006

To blog or not to blog

I'm on the way 11! It's 9:10, and I feel fairly good! I'm reserving judgement!

I can't remember whether or not I mentioned that I was trying to write a novel. I wonder at what point I say that I'm writing a novel rather than 'trying to write'. I was lying in bed last night thinking about it. I have 10,000 words now and I was wondering if I was ready to send it to someone. That's the problem. To whom do you send novels. I don't know. I suppose that's the next aspect of this novel that I need to investigate. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it. I spent some time before starting this blog this morning looking at other people's blogs who use blogspot. It was interesting and I've expanded my understanding of what people use blogs for. I thought that they were just weblogs but it's obvious that people use them to fulfil many purposes.

This link takes you to a teacher in the UK who uses her blog for her English class:

There's someone somewhere (I didn't pursue any details) who sells chameleons and has a blog to give you info on them:

I can't remember what started me on this road of researching blogs. I think it was because I had the idea of writing a novel as a blog and then I had to find out what blogs were. I think that I am going to look at blogs and their use in education. Doesn't that sound like a goal that my head of school would approve of.

I'm going in to school this afternoon to talk about my future and possibly my professional development and goals. I'm going to talk about blogs.

Well, enough for this morning. More about blogs another day.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Today is supposed to be the lowest day of my chemo cycle. I feel the best I've felt so far. I think that the low point refers to the bone marrow and production of red and white blood cells. I actually feel the best I have felt since the chemo. Tired but less symtoms. My scarves arrived today. They're great and I highly recomment the company. Now, I'm just waiting for the wig.

Yes, Emjay, Englefield Green is the village where GB entered the Most Glamorous Grandmother competition. From what I remember we pushed her into it. I can't believe that she didn't win! It must have been fixed!

I'm going in to school tomorrow to see what we can sort out as far as me going back to work. i don't know how we're going to organize it. If I go back the middle of next week, I'll be off the following week for the next chemo session. It takes me about 7-10 days to recover. That would put me back in school the day we break up for Christmas. Well, I'm sure we'll work something out.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Chemo Brain

A friend forwarded an email to me a short while ago about a condition called Chemo Brain! Yes, now I have a name for it. The link is: In December there is going to be a Web cast about this condition. This is what the site says:

In the past, “chemo brain” has often been dismissed as a figment of the imagination. But now, with the help of a recent UCLA research study, new validity has been added to a condition that many people have suffered through in silence. In this live webcast, we’re joined by Dr. Daniel Silverman, one of the study’s lead researchers, who will be on hand to share his findings and answer your questions.

Enough of chemo and cancer! I did promise that I wouldn't spend too much time on being unwell so onto other topics.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

It was a beautiful day 8 of my first cycle... and I managed a short walk around Englefield Green, the village closest to us. It's amazing how exhausting such a short walk can be. I met two women in their 20's who have just opened up a deli and are hoping to expand into organic veg boxes. They already have some lovely organic bread. They were so enthusiastic you just wanted to buy something and go back again. You might wonder why I seem to be taking a great interest in organic produce. I'm on an anti-cancer diet that encourages the use of organic produce. I have tried to buy organic in the past but it is often very expensive and beyond many people's budget. I received a brochure through the mailbox this morning advertising a company that delivers organic food. I'm going to try them for the time being. It will be easier to have food delivered, one less thing for me to worry about.

I've been trying to continue my Spanish and writing but my mind is not doing all that well. When my body is tired, my mind is completely out of it as well. It's back to early morning TV and radio 4. I wish I could read but I can't even keep track of articles in the Guardian. (In the same position as Bush then!)

Sunday, 19 November 2006

The kindness of Friends

It's Sunday afternoon and I've spent most of the day resting. (Feeling going in the tips of my fingers and fatigue!) Emma went out shopping and brought two of her friends home, Alex and Stuart. After lunch, the three of them went out into the garden and did a fall clean up for me. I've been fretting about this a bit and Emma must have realized...and how sweet of the boys to help her!

Yesterday, GB (my mother), Emma, her friends, Stuart, Alex, and John, and I (what a group) went to Staines to see the new James Bond. So, yes Emjay, we did go to see the film. It was good and the new Bond is also good. However, it is very violent...far too violent for the 12A rating it has in the UK.

I received an email today from my friend Eloise who was in Syria when we were. It's so good to be able to keep up with people and what is happening to them. I remember being a child in Canada and having very little contact with my family back in England. It must have been so difficult for my mother. If you wanted to talk to family, you had to book a 3 minute phone call. Letters were the other possibility but certainly not as satisfying as email or MSN are today. It amazes me that people were able to keep in contact and keep it up. We've lost contact with family in Australia, we've even lost contact with my mother's sister in England.

So, thank you to friends who keep in touch so that I don't feel quite as isolated in this little cottage in England.

Friday, 17 November 2006

A better day

Yes, today was better but it had its own delights. I finally ordered my scarves and wig. I'm going to look somewhat like Rachel Welch - well the hair will anyway. I had really thought that I could go back to school after chemo but so far it doesn't seem that the first 3 or 4 days will be impossible.

Tomorrow I'm going out to an early show of the new James Bond. I'm to stay away from crowds so I'm hoping that there won't be a lot of people at that show. I'll take my mask just in case.

As I mentioned yesterday I went shopping at Waitrose, which was quite exhausting. Mum and I went to get various items for an anti-cancer diet I'm going to try. Tomorrow we are going to try making some granola. I haven't done that since I was first married! If anyone has any suggestions for recipes or food items to add to this diet, that would be appreciated.

I shouldn't write at the end of the day. I'm usually out of energy by now. Sorry, I'm going to stop now. Perhaps more later.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

The Day after the day after (I can't go on like this!)

Day three actually and as I said before I don't want illness to take over my life but here is a short update. I'm bright red. My body has been aching especially my legs. My brain is still not functioning say nothing of we don't want to go there. Suffice it to say that I'll need a laxative soon! I now know that I shouldn't go to Waitrose on day three. i think that day 3 is the worst so far.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

The Day after

Well, today has gone quite well. My mind is only somewhat confused. I am getting some strange feed from brain to fingers. My mind to mouth coordination is somewhat better. I have been very tired at times and I have had some nausea but on the whole it's been a good day.

Now that is all about illness. Almost all. I did go out and by a thermometer (we haven't had one in the house since the children were little), ginger tea (for nausea) and surgical masks for when I go back to schoo. I won't have those sick children coughing and sneezing all over me!!! Tonight I order the scarves and perhpas a wig. Until I had the need for one, I had no idea that Rachel Welch had gone into the wig business. Emma (youngest daughter) suggested that I find out where Dolly Parton got hers from. Can you imagine me in a Dolly Parton wig. Interesting.

Now it really is the end of my discussion about my body. I do not intend to think of myself only in terms of my body. Not my sick body any way.

As some of you know, I'm writing a novel and it is going quite well. I've finished about 7000 words, only 63,000 left to go. Mustn't think about that too often. I think it could cause writer's block. I'm doing it in the format of a blog. At first I was just writing it on my laptop, but today I actually started to post it on a blog. When I started I set myself certain perameters: I could only write around a 1000 words at a time, and I had to write stream of consciousness, little or no planning in advance, just see where my thoughts led.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

First Day of Chemo

Today was my first day of chemo. I'm home and I'm so tired. Neighbours is on. Oh yes, I have to admit that I watch an Australian soap opera. I can barely keep track of the plot. It's all rather dream-like, or is it a nightmare?

(I just read over what I had written and it was jiberish. My mind and my fingers were not coordinating, obviously. It has been corrected and you will never know!)

The administering of the chemo was not difficult. There was a lot of information to take in from the nurse. Then I just sat for four hours and received the drugs through a drip. One of them made me very sleepy and though I tried to read or write, all I could do was doze. I still feel like that with short periods when I suddenly come to. I was given a list of side effects to look out for and medication to counter act them. I had thought that I could go back to teaching in the next two weeks but apparently I may be sicker and have less energy than I thought. So, I'll have to wait and see.

Monday, 13 November 2006

No name entry

Before I get started I suppose that I should make a comment about Emjays comment. No, I probably won't be talking about the chairs though they are still with us. At one point we had between 13-15 chairs in our diningroom. It's a very small diningroom! Now they are distributed around the house and one has gone off to be repaired. We are still trying to find homes for some of them. Yesterday, I put one on the sidewalk outside our house, with a sign that read, 'Free to a good home 5 chairs and a table.' We had one small group of people knock on the door but they thought the table was too big. Alas.

As for the garden, it is less of a mess since my mum went out yesterday and raked up two bags of leaves. Does anyone know if there is such a thing as a vacuum cleaner for leaves. Probably, but only available in the US, just like my scarves!

I've spent most of the morning following up on a radio programme I heard on BBC radio 4. It's called Start of the Week and today there was very interesting discussion on the direction of the internet and society. Actually, it was more about how the internet is changing the way we do things. It caught my attention immediately because a man called Charles Leadbetter was talking about his latest book and how he has put it on his website for readers to interact with it. This is what I want to do with my novel but I'm too cowardly. I suppose I'm worried that I might not manage to finish it. I might also worry that someone who shouldn't, might get hold of it. If you are interested in this topic at all the site is: . If you are interested in finding more blogs, definitely more interesting than mine, try:

Tomorrow I have my first cycle of chemo. I'm not worried yet but I'm sure that I will be before the night is over. I think that I'll stay up late so that I'll fall right to sleep. More tomorrow!

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Sunday Afternoon Musings

I've spent most of the time that I might have been writing, playing around with this blog and learning how to use it. I'm still not entirely sure but I'm further along the road than before. I'm still not sure how people end up reading what you have written. Is it only by telling people about your blog and giving them the address? Can people 'google' me and find it? I must try that to find out.

It seems that it might be an idea to have a blog for my French classes...especially my exam group. I'm off sick at the moment and won't be back till the end of November or beyond. In fact I haven't been at school all year. If I had a blog with my students I could get to know them a little better before I go back. Also, they could practice their French. Interesting idea. I wonder if it would work. I'll pass this idea by our IT department next week.

The day is quickly escaping from me. I had planned to do all sorts of things but something came up at each turn. I have managed to get my old diningroom table dismantled and a new one put up. I've also expanded my blogging knowledge. That should count for something. However, I did want to do some gardening and that I haven't done. Alas. I worry that my chemo will start and the rains will arrive and I will never do my fall clean up. I suppose that the garden will survive and continue on no matter what I do so I'll try not to let it bother me.

My mother has been staying with us while I've been unwell. She's sleeping at the moment but once she is up I think that we'll go for a walk. Runnymede, where Magna Carta was signed is nearby. It's an interesting place to visit so we might go there. The first time I went I expected that there would be something that said, 'here lies the spot where Magna Carta was signed.' There's nothing. Apparently they don't even know if it was signed in that exact area. No 'X' marks the spot. After all these years it might even be at the bottom of the Thames which flows not far away. Ah well, the tearoom does a good cup of tea!

Friday, 10 November 2006

A beginning

I discovered about 6 weeks ago that I had a tumour (now removed) and that it was cancerous. I have chemotherapy starting this coming Tuesday. With a lot of time on my hands, I decided to learn Spanish and then get down to writing the novel I always wondered if I could write.

It's a murder mystery and I decided that the narrative would be in the form of a blog. However, neither I nor my main character know anything about blogs. So, I needed to learn about them before I got started. In fact, I started writing a week or so ago. I've done some research and I've also started the book. What I haven't done is actually write a blog so here I am.

What should be or would be the topic of this blog. I suppose that something of the cancer treatment is more than likely going to show up. The writing will also play a part. However, I would just like to let it go where it goes. Stream of consciousness, just like the book.

More about the book, I suppose. It's not really a book since it is actually a blog...a fictional blog, mind you. I hesitate from actually putting it out as a blog but who knows. That too may follow. At the moment, my narrator wouldn't want her blog to be read by others. However, she is getting to the point that she needs to share what is happening with others.

So now the cancer comes in. I live in England. I will probably lose my hair in the next few weeks. Yesterday I had my hair cut really short so that it wouldn't be such a shock. Then I decided to go and look for head scarves. Of course, it's November and I never thought about the fact that most people don't wear head scarves at this time of year. Alas! Nothing in the shops. So, I went on line. Nothing on line in the UK. I really can't believe it. There must be lots of people in the UK who are having cancer treatment. I did find an excellent site in the U.S. of course! The link is: Hope this is of some help to someone else in the UK.