Sunday, September 30, 2007

fall in Alaska

This is our shortest season and some years it doesn't come at all (sort of like spring in New England). The days are less than twelve hours and disappearing rapidly. Still, it is beautiful. The mountain tops white with snow, the tundra below bright red, and gold on the lower slopes. Mainly a silver and gold palette - perfect in moonlight.

We have not yet had a killing frost. The perennials I cut down weeks ago are regrowing and the nasturtiums and tuberous begonias are still spectacular.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Help! language police!

We found this sign at the top of the Alyeska tramway.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

autumn quilt

I just starting quilting this "turning twenty" variation with April Cornell's Sonnet fabric line. I was craving orange and chocolate. Now that I've done the basic stitch in the ditch for the big blocks and the borders, I'm not sure what comes next. I hope to decide tonight, since I would love to sleep under this soon. We are down to twelve hours of daylight and dropping fast.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The NYT on the same issue...

Do we really know what makes us healthy?

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I don't do why's either

Last week I was talking to someone I don't know well and hadn't seen for about a year. When I told her about the breast cancer stuff she asked, "Were you surprised?"

That question semed odd to me. "No, not really".

"Did you have a lump? Did you think something was wrong?"

"No, there wasn't a lump and I wasn't expecting anything. I was scared and angry but I wouldn't say I was surprised."

Why would I be surprised? What is unusual about a routine mammogram picking up DCIS in a 53 year old woman? Happens all the time.

I don't seem to have a "why me?" reflex or a need to search for causes and reasons. I was attracted to probability theory and epidemiology because I always suspected that many things were random. Even if there is causation it may be impossible to prove it and hopeless to look for it. I know most human brains are programmed to deny randomness and demand links. Mine isn't. Some of the distance I feel with others is my irritation at this basic quality.

Breast cancer discussion boards (and probably those for other diseases) are dominated by this obsessive search. One website is actually titled "Why me?" Women post on their belief that one food causes breast cancer and another prevents or cures it. One woman announces she is turning to an all raw foods diet, another says she has given up caffeine, sugar, and alcohol "because they make the tumor grow". And of course there is the power of the pink ribbon positivity...

Miriam's version in "Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person" is the only one that made me laugh. "I think I caused breast cancer by eating too much cheese." I eat a lot of cheese too. I'm going to eat more cheese.

I've been watching the "Joan of Arcadia" series on DVD. I never saw it when it aired, but Lorraine and I met the show's producer at the Springsteen symposium two years ago. A very nice family is struggling with life and God starts appearing to the sixteen year old. In human form. As a hunky high school boy, a lunch lady, a four year old girl in pigtails. In many episodes, Joan is asking for answers. God explains, a little impatiently, "I don't do why's."

I don't do why's either

Monday, September 3, 2007

friends and vacation

Alessandria, Jim, and Lorraine will be home in western Massachusetts by now. The house is empy and I miss them. We had planned this vacation for years. The hardest part of this breast cancer stuff was the impact on this vacation. I was out of leave time and out of energy. We adapted. They went off to Denali without me. When I was too tired to cook or go out we ordered pizza.

We did have some fun together. And the visit ended with a segeway tour of Anchorage.

I have always had this lovely recurring dream. I am walking on the sidewalk, going faster and faster. Then I discover I can run smoothly just inches above the surface. The same sensation as the segeway!