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.