Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As I’ve felt a bit more “normal” recently, it’s been easier to get distracted by the stresses and drama in my every day reality. Some are stresses/drama to be dealt with. Some are stresses/drama to ignore and not waste any time on. The best way I’ve found to sort them is to ask myself, “If I died tomorrow, would this matter?”
It’s a freeing thing, to be able to let go of so much trivia...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Silver Fabrication Therapy Results...

Nothing like some cathartic beating on metal and heating stuff up to red hot/melting to make a person feel better...
If you want to know how these are made, see directions below...
You can click on the images to see them bigger...

1. Cut pendant shape out of 22ga sterling silver sheet
2. Put on firebrick and add silver filings, small scraps etc on top of pendant
3. Heat with acetylene torch until red hot, watch as surface turns molten and remove heat when desired fusing is accomplished. Use a medium sized, fairly hot flame. Not too hot or it will be harder to control the fusing. You may have to reheat several times as it's very easy to turn the whole thing into a silver puddle if it is overheated. Quench in water.
4. File edges with bastard file.
5. Sand edges with 400 grit sandpaper
6. Place on steel bench block and use spring-loaded center punch to create the hole for the bail. Use one corner of the block because this will leave small divots in your otherwise pristine bench block. Punch five times.
7. Place on 2x4’ scrap and repeat five punches with same center punch.
8. Use round needle file and 400 grit sandpaper to smooth and enlarge hole.
9. Use wood dapping block and improvised wooden dowel punches to dome pendant.
10. Cut 2-3in length of 18ga silver wire and file one end smooth.
11. Use round-nosed pliers to form loop in wire.
12. Flux, heat, and apply solder to joint in loop.
13. Heat very carefully with small bushy flame. Remove heat as soon as solder flows or you’ll melt your wire. Quench wire in water.
14. Put unlooped end of wire through hole in pendant. Hang wire over edge of firebrick and heat with sharp hot flame until end balls up. Quench in water.
15. Bend wire so pendant hangs gracefully and moves easily.
16. Pickle pendant in warm acid bath for 5-10 minutes to clean it.
17. Move pendant to baking soda/water bath to neutralize pickle/acid.
18. Move pendant to water to clean it completely.
20. Move pendant to rotary tumbler with mixed steel shot, water, and one drop of dishwashing liquid and tumble for several hours to work harden the metal and strengthen it.
21. Remove pendant from tumbler and wash in clean water.
22. Scrub pendant with brass brush to clean of residual fine silver, which won’t accept patina/oxidization.
23. Fill glass jar with hot water, drop in pea sized piece of liver of sulphur. Don’t breathe the fumes as they are “dangerous.”
24. Fill second glass jar with hot water.
25. Place pendant on copper scrap wire and dip in the hot water.
26. Dip pendant in LOS solution, and back into hot water, and so forth until desired darkness is reached.
27. Find rubber gloves, fine steel wool, and a large plastic bowl. If you don’t wear the rubber gloves you’ll end up with some wicked steel splinters that will hurt like hell.
28. Brush pendant with steel wool using whatever pattern of motion leaves patterns you like. Remove as much patina as necessary to achieve the level of shine you find appealing.
29. Congratulations. You are now finished.
30. Unless you want to actually wear your pendant, in which case I would suggest a simple, strong silver chain that won’t distract from all of your hard work on the pendant.
31. Good luck trying to photograph metal... It's not very accurate.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Okay, use your imagination here:
You’re in a prison camp. You and the other prisoners are just barely surviving. You are achingly sick, it’s freezing cold in the middle of winter and your clothes are shredded, your shoes wore out a long time ago and your feet are beaten, bruised, and bloody, but you’ve been told that you will be set free very soon.

You know beyond a doubt that freedom is coming very soon, you don’t know the exact date but you know it throughout your entire being. You know it so surely that when doubts come, they only last for a moment.

Then another prisoner asks you if you want new clothes. Yes, you want new clothes. The prisoner tells you that you’re going to get new clothes but you have to stay imprisoned in the camp.

How are you going to feel?

This is how I feel when people ask how I would feel if I found out tomorrow that there is no cancer in my body, that I’m healed.

It would be like being told that I have to stay in the prison camp to get new clothes, clothes that are going to shred and fall apart and wear out just like my old ones.

I would feel like everything I’ve struggled with and all of the growth and adjustments and learning were all for naught (even though, yes, I know it wouldn’t be). I would feel like I was regressing back to my life before cancer.

I would feel like I’m getting stuck back in the camp having lost my chance for freedom.

Realizing this is why I don’t want to be healed explains why I read and reread over and over the promises God made to the Israelites in exile. The word exile is used over and over. God promises to restore exiles to their homeland, be it a homeland on earth or to a home with Him for all eternity, be they the Israelites thousands of years ago or His children who are in exile today.

Here’s one example of God restoring exiles to their homeland, from Zephaniah 3:
On that day they will say to Jerusalem,

"Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

"The sorrows for the appointed feasts
I will remove from you;
they are a burden and a reproach to you.

At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame
and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they were put to shame.

At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,"
says the LORD.

This is the same kind of promise God gave me December 31, when He told me He has prepared a place for me and is coming to take me to be with Him.

The New Heavens and the New Earth are going to be awesome and I’m excited about being in Heaven soon and back here on the restored New Earth sometime in the future. I wish more people knew more about the New Heavens and the New Earth because I think it would rock their world and eliminate many of their fears....

After learning what I’ve learned about Heaven from reading Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, after struggling with and finally coming to grips with facing dying realistically, and remembering God’s promises to me—I don’t want to stay in the camp.

Why would I?

I feel like I’m getting the easy way out.

I get concerned about leaving the people I love who have to stay in the camp and continue to survive. I wonder how they and their children will survive in the camp—and not just survive but bring pockets of hope and light to their corners of the camp.

Besides all of that, I’ve come to view death as the ultimate adventure. In our thrill seeking and risk taking culture you’d think more people would be more excited about finding out what’s next after this life here.

Having said all of that, I am feeling decently well and I am doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy. I feel more of a sense of purpose about my life now than I ever have before.

One of the things I’ve been enjoying is jewelry fabrication. I made a couple of silver pendants that some ladies at work were very interested in me selling to them, so I’ve made a bunch of them to sell. It’s been a fun project and they are almost finished. I’ll post a picture of them later.

I’m not exactly sure how the rest of this ties in... Just to warn those of you who are looking for a sequential idea....

This week was full of high drama of the most serious and entertaining kind with my first grade students.

First, I had to talk to two boys outside the art room because Boy 1 was sobbing and Boy 2 was very suspiciously denying involvement. Boy 1, after four attempts, was finally able to communicate to me that Boy 2 said he was going to get Boy 1 in trouble for something Boy 1 hadn’t done. Boy 1 is a very serious, hard working, sweet student and I was pretty ticked off that Boy 2 made him so upset. I asked Boy 2 what happened and he said that Boy 1 had farted. Bottom line (no pun intended), Boy 1 farted and Boy 2 said he was going to get him in trouble for it. I gave them the teacher lecture about how every single person in the world farts, and that sometimes it just happens. Boy 2 was terribly shocked and said to me, “Even you?” I wanted to say, “No, art teachers are special and we don’t fart.”

Then, another first grade student who was painting got excited and started waving her hand at me. I went over and she said the red paint was weird. I asked what was wrong with it and she said “It smells like ketchup!!! Is this ketchup??” Later on, other students complained about the red paint smelling like tea. So apparently we have a serious problem with the red tempera paint...

On another note, the day after my last post about the piece of junk under my right arm hurting, it stopped hurting so badly. I don’t know who’s praying but thank you very much!! It’s nice not to be in pain and it’s nice not to be distracted by it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Peace Please

So, the piece of junk, swollen, cancer-in-it-for-sure, annoying...... lymph node under my right arm has been hurting off and on since I found it in the middle of last July.... It has grown in the last few months, so I made an appointment with a surgeon to get it checked it out on April 6. I’m hoping he can snip it out at some hopefully very soon after that date. It does hurt and, while it's only about an inch in diameter, it sticks out enough for me to bump it frequently. Please pray for peace and the ability to ignore it while I'm waiting.

My apologies to the English majors and other literary types out there, I'm tired :  )

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I had the experience this past week of having guys flirt with me. It’s kind of funny because, after the last year of being bald etc, it surprised me.

After my initial reaction, my first thought was: What would they have done if I had told them I have terminal cancer?

My experience so far is that people either melt into little puddles and evaporate, or they flip out and shut down and disappear, or they are extraordinarily kind and helpful and friendly. It seems like the deciding factor is emotional stability and how afraid they are of death. Just guessing....

Saturday, March 13, 2010


What is to give light must endure burning.
Viktor Frankl


THIS discussion caught my eye this morning.

I'm sharing it because I think it would be beneficial for people without cancer to read too. Bear in mind that each of these women probably has a different diagnosis (dx) and a different perspective and a different world view and a different spiritual orientation... I have found that I have to take all of that into consideration when I read on there, especially the dx part, because I have a different kind of ovca than most of these women. But their encouragement is priceless. They've been there, they've done it, they will probably be continuing to do it for the rest of their lives--take that into consideration too. It's what we live every day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Ink

So, the plastic wrap stays on until tomorrow morning, then I wash it with warm soapy water and pat it dry, then it airs all day, then I cover it back up tomorrow night with plastic wrap, then I wash it again Saturday morning, then it airs, then if it is dry or itches I use a fragrance free moisturizer 2-3 times per day, then it peels and heals for a few weeks, and then after about a month it's considered almost entirely healed. The colors will have added depth and variation when it is healed... I figure I might as well share tattoo info while I'm sharing cancer info :  )

You can click on the pictures to see them bigger... Bear in mind that my left arm is only so long and the tattoo goes all the way around my right arm... I'll get someone else to take some pictures sometime when it's healed.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tattoo... Final Design

You can click on it to make it bigger but it will be enormous because I'm too tired to fix the sizing right now...
The birds will be much higher up.
You can read what it's about in the tattoo post back in Feb.
I'm going to get it tomorrow...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Caleb's Painting

This is a painting I did for my brother. I started out kind of just playing with the paint and as it developed it turned into a painting about Heaven. It’s about the glimpses of beauty that we see and feel and experience here and there amidst the darkness and pain and suffering. It’s about how those moments of overwhelming beauty are foretastes of Heaven and, as such, are like windows into Heaven. The lines lacing in and out of the windows represent the interconnectedness between earth as we now experience it and Heaven as we now catch glimpses it.

You can click on the pictures to see them bigger. It's 36x48" in real life and loses a lot in photographs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Life Right Now

Some people have asked, so here’s the nitty gritty stuff...

I am usually feeling okay, sometimes feeling well, and sometimes feeling pretty foul. The symptoms I’m having aren’t so much symptoms that I haven’t had before, they are just more consistent and stronger. I’m having more nausea, which is mostly under control with a nausea med I’ve started taking every morning. I’m having more lower back pain, which is under control so far with good old ibprofin, which I also take every morning. My appetite is decreasing, which is weird for me. I’ve always been hungry a lot, so to not be hungry—even when I’m not nauseous or feeling full is pretty strange. Sometimes I’m really tired and sometimes my energy is pretty decent. I have a new swollen lymph node under my left arm to match the one that’s been under my right arm since last July, it’s only the size of a green pea but is definitely a bit painful now and then.

I just finally told my coworkers about stopping treatment and whatnot. God worked out an ideal opportunity to communicate with them and I’m thrilled to have that done. I was pretty apprehensive about doing it but I have been blown away by the love and support in their responses. They are an amazing group of people to work with and I’ve been very encouraged by my conversations with them this week.

How I’m going to handle communicating with my students when the time comes, I have no idea. I’m still concerned about that. Many of them love me and my biggest concern for them is that they’ll think I’ve died without hope—which will very definitely not be the case...

Being so excited about what I’m learning about Heaven is making it necessary to be more measured when I’m with people who are grieving over my situation... I want to be empathetic and sensitive and also share my excitement in a helpful way...

On Thursday I’m going to get my flower/butterfly/garden tattoo. I’ve almost finished the design, just need to tweak it a bit here and there. I’m very excited about that.

I’ve been wearing a medical alert necklace for about a month now. I decided that almost the worst thing that could happen to me would be to finally have Jesus come for me, and then have some well-intentioned person make me come back here by resuscitating me... I don’t know how all that works—how people have the power to make us come back from Heaven, but I KNOW it would be terrible and I’d be indescribably ticked off. So the necklace has a tag with my name and a DNR order on the back with phone numbers for my health care power of attorneys and my doctor’s office. Wearing it is reassuring....

I still have a large smelly animal living in my basement. One possum somehow died down there and was removed, and then the holes into the basement were “fixed” so I thought the several year long issue was resolved.... I’ve been trying to brainwash myself into the live and let live in my basement philosophy, but the animal sounds really creepy walking around down there in the crawlspace at night and it defecates down there, which makes my whole house smell putrid for days at a time.

My big painting for my brother just needs signing, final glazing, sides painted, and hanging hardware and it’s finished. I’ll post a picture soon.

I read this on my ovarian cancer forum today and think it is awesome:
My last breath on this earth, will be my first breath in heaven.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci

"While I thought I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die." Leonardo da Vinci

I just read this quote and it resonated with me for sure. Every part of life--every step, every choice, every test, every experience, is preparation for what is next...

THIS is an interesting and brief article about dying from cancer and sufffering or not... I found it encouraging.