Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘misc babble’

While it wasn’t always encouraged or a skill or talent that was prized by my immigrant family, I actually come from a family of artistic and crafty people. (I had the stereotypical immigrant parents that wanted me to achieve that Asian model minority myth and become a doctor, engineer or lawyer.) I wasn’t allowed to take art classes even though I really wanted to. So instead, I taught myself to sew and craft. I even made my own dresses and jewelry in high school. I loved those things so much better than calculus, which I sucked at, btw.

IMGP5631
In my recent trip back home to visit my dad, I taught him how to use a digital camera and how to get his photos onto his computer and Flickr. My dad has finally caught on and has begun to photograph and upload all his wonderful crafty and green thumb creations.

IMGP5641 IMGP5637

IMGP5633 IMGP5639

IMGP5630 IMGP5632

My dad is a master gardener and manages to grow things in Texas that normally don’t grow in those climates. At one point he even had his own mini bamboo forest and harvested delicate bamboo shoots, which were so tasty and yummy. They taste 1000 times sweeter, better and more tender than any bamboo shoots you buy at your local Asian grocer. One of his gifts is the ability to grow super “magic” trees. Right now, he has a Frankenstein citrus tree that bears and abundance of 4 different fruits: Asian pommelo, tangerines, oranges (a super sweet Southeast Asian variety that has green skin, orange fruit) and lemon.

He also grows a myriad of other things, including veggies, other fruits and ornamental plants like gourds and bonsai. My dad also has a bougainvillea plant that has 4-5 different colors of flowers.

One of my dad’s other passions is growing gourds, both edible and ornamental. He mostly grows ornamental gourds though and throughout the years, he’s been making various gourd crafts! He paints, carves, polishes and grows them all himself. In recent years, he’s entered in Texas Gourd Festivals and has won an award each time!

Below are some photos from my dad’s Flickr:

047

P1000559

P1000561 P1000551

P1000549 016

P1000532

P1000546 020

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Hills Are Alive…

…With the Sounds of Music…

IMGP5446

Last night, I made a last-minute decision to join my friends at the theater for a Sound of Music singalong. It was a blast! If you haven’t gone before, you should go! You can’t help but sing along. The lyrics are on the screen, similar to what you see when you sing karaoke. I think what would make this experience even more fun and hokier, is if they add tacky karaoke club lights and sellubg alcoholic libations couldn’t hurt either.

They even put the latin words of the song the nuns were singing in the beginning! That one was hard to sing and follow along.

IMGP5451

I’ve seen the movie several times in my life (though I won’t ever come close to qualifying as an avid fan), I didn’t ever notice if there were any sweaters or knits in the movie. This time, I paid attention. The only knits I found were finely knitted white cable knee socks worn by the kids and a black and white tie that appears to have been finely knitted in garter stitch worn by Captain Von Trapp.  The movie has lots of felted hats though.

IMGP5454 IMGP5457

For you knitters, here are snapshots from one of my favorite bits in the movie. C’mon, is it really a surprise that I’d like the cute mountain goat puppets?

IMGP5459 IMGP5460

IMGP5461 IMGP5467

In addition to the drunken karaoke bar effect, I think to get the full experience next time, we should dress in lederhosen, knickerbockers, drindls and habits.

Read Full Post »

Not the Way You’d Want to Hear About Such News

Social media and technology certainly has changed the way in which we all communicate. It has made life easier in a way, but in another way, it’s a bit dismal, IMO.  People aren’t relating face-to-face or voice-to-voice as much anymore. One of the negatives of this became very apparent this morning when I got a message through Facebook from one of my favorite paternal cousins (who loves in Australia) as a result of seeing this status message:

FB10.24

 

Families are complex and I won’t go into the strange dynamics in my own family, but my sweet cousin did not know that my mom had passed and was shocked and saddened to find out through Facebook. She sent me a lovely message and asked me share what had happened.  I assumed she had heard through the grapevine, but at the same time I guess I’m not surprised that she did not hear about it from her dad. The paternal side of the family weren’t exactly fans of my mom or her side of the family for various reasons, some real, some simply rumor and hate-based.

Anyway, I never really expected or thought that I’d be writing a summary of events 5 years later. It’s a bit sad but in a sense slightly cathartic. I’ve written short blog posts on Mother’s day or on her birthday/anniversary of her passing, but I don’t think I’ve actually written about the finer details. This year, I didn’t plan a blog post and thought I’d just do it via Twitter or Facebook, but my cousin’s message and shock at just discovering the news changed that. Like I said, it was a bit hard to relive that, but in a way it’s slightly cathartic, so I suppose I’ll share the detailed story a bit more publicly.

My Mother

My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 endometrial cancer in August 2003 and she had emergency surgery to remove a tumor the size of a basketball from her uterus. She initially thought her symptoms were due to benign fibroids that she had for most of her life, but she later also ignored some symptoms, probably due to fear of the truth. (Lesson Ladies! Don’t ignore your suspicions.) I didn’t find out about her illness until 2 days before her scheduled emergency surgery because she made my aunt Katy (her younger sister) promise that she would not tell me or my sister about it because my mom didn’t want to interrupt our lives and have us worry.  My mom probably wouldn’t even have told my aunt had she not needed someone to take her to the hospital. (My sister was in San Francisco at the time and I was still a relative newlywed (May 2001) living in South Orange County and working in downtown Los Angeles in a public interest law firm and in the process of looking for a new house.)

My aunt disagreed with my mom, but my mom emotionally blackmailed her, saying that if Katy told us, my mom would not allow Aunt Katy to see her. So, my aunt circumvented her promise by telling their older brother (who I think was kept from knowing initially as well), who told his children, and then one of my cousins called and told me. It’s like a very un-fun version of the telephone game. I found out at work, tried unsuccessfully to keep my composure, but somehow managed to tell my boss the bad news. That evening, hubby found me last-minute airline tickets and I flew home to Houston in time to see her before she was to go into surgery. My mom was very surprised to see me and upset with my aunt for letting the cat out of the bag, but I knew that she was secretly relieved (and she later told me to0) that I was able to make it out there.

I don’t think finding out news like this can be anything but shocking. However, just as shocking and puzzling was the illness itself. She did not meet any of the risk factors for endometrial/ uterine cancer….She was not overweight, ate very healthy, mostly macrobiotic foods, was a vegetarian for 20 years and there was no family history or other potential causes. I maybe spent about a day wondering the every unanswered “why” question, but decided that it really wasn’t worth my time or energy to think about the whys of it all. It’s part of life. We all have trials and tribulations to endure. This was ours. It was bad, but it still could have been much worse.

with mom

Me and mom on my wedding day in May 2001

While still working full-time jobs, my sister and I took turns flying back and forth from California to Houston to take care of our mom post-surgery and throughout her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. (I had racked up lots of frequent flyer miles!) My mom didn’t have insurance so we tried to get her Medicaid, but her type of cancer didn’t qualify and she had to be sick for 2 years before qualifying. Deep down I knew the chances were slim for her to have to wait and survive that long, but it’s not something one really thinks or want to dwell upon at the time. Luckily, she lived in a county where there’s a good public indigent program and the team of doctors at the public hospital and the hospice team were wonderful.

My mom’s initial chemo treatment was an aggressive one. The drug, if leaks out of the veins can corrode skin and organs. This is what gets pumped into the body to kill the cancer. After several months of chemo, mom decided that she couldn’t take it anymore and needed a break. A very educated friend of hers was also going through her own battle with breast cancer and told my mom about her pursuit of alternative routes of care. While my sister thought a self-proclaimed naturepath “doctor” was a total fraud (I checked up on him and he had a PhD in Physics, but is not a M.D., though his “patients” thought he was), we supported my mom’s desire to go this route. It was her body and her decision; we just did our best to support it and to try to get her to tell her oncologist the supplements she was taking. I flew her to my house, since the quack lives 20 min. away, and my sister and I sat there, listened and made faces at each other while he spouted things to my mom and her friend about things that seem medically sound on the surface, and he made it sound like he knew what he was talking about as if he were a physician. But if you actually listen and know a little bit about medicine, what he said/claimed is just a giant pile of SHIT with lots of contradictory medical info, even if you strip away his stupid claims.

Nonetheless, my sister and I kept our dissent to ourselves and I paid for the supplements that the quack “prescribed” her, because I think at this point, having hope for a cancer patient at this late stage in life is just as important as any treatment. I do think that my mom did suspect that he was stretching the truth, but she needed to try something else,whether she really believed his claims or not. (I later found out that some folks were filing a suit against the quack and the quack was trying to get support from his patients. He got none from me. He basically was claiming that he had cured patients of Epstein-Barr, Lupus, stomach cancer, among other things. What a fucking fraud! )

For Mom

I taught myself to knit from a terrible book while my mom was sick. This was my first completed project, which I made for her. There were no yarn shops around me so my only option was Michael's. This scarf was made out of Lion Brand Homespun. (my nose itches and I cringe just thinking about the yarn).

A few months and $2k+ later, my mom later decided that the treatment that the quack was recommending was also quite taxing and toxic and she couldn’t keep up with the regimen, so she stopped it. She decided to try traditional chemotherapy again, but asked the doctor for something that was not as strong as her first attempts at chemo. She did this for a little while, but it was unsuccessful and she really could not handle the drugs. A little thereafter, she was confirmed terminal, with secondary lung cancer, since the cancer had spread all over her body, and hospice care was set up. My mom was a simple person – she didn’t want any fanfare and wanted to die quietly and peacefully in her little townhouse.

I’ll never forget the sight and image of my mom towards those last few months. We weren’t sure how she hung on for so long…all the folks on the hospice team thought that she would have passed way before she actually did. Her pulse and blood pressure were almost nonexistent, and in such cases, patients would go comatose and die. That never happened to my mom. She was lucid and clear pretty much to the every end, albeit very very weak and lacking energy to talk/think. My mom was never a heavy person, she was about 5’1″ and probably around 110-115lbs when she was healthy. I don’t know how much she weighed in the end (70lbs?), but she literally had wasted away so much that she looked like one of those ice mummies. It’s really not the last sight or memory you want of a loved one. I could see and feel every bone on her body. I could see the well-defined space between the radius and ulna of her forearm. The only part of her body where you could not see a defined detail of bone was where her tumors had grown so large that she actually had a bit of a belly, and her misshapened left leg. The tumors blocked blood flow to her legs so she also had a very swollen left leg from the edema.

with mom green mtn

I prefer to remember her as the beautiful fashionable lady in this photo.

My Mean Grandmother

While my mom was dying, my paternal grandfather “ah-gong” was also ill, especially since he was already in his 90s. My dad asked my sister and I to visit our grandparents in Taipei, Taiwan. I visited them about 1-2 times in Taiwan while my mom was sick and also went to ah-gong’s funeral. On once visit, my grandmother “ah-ma”, had pulled me aside to ask me about my sick mother. Ah-ma never really liked my mom and her side of the family for various reasons and her dislike was confirmed when my parents divorced. I thought that ah-ma would just ask me about it and be done with it. I didn’t expect any great words of wisdom. I was shocked in disbelief when ah-ma basically said “You know, your mom is sick because she and her family are bad people.” Her message to me basically was that my mom deserved to be on her deathbed.

I was very hurt by what ah-ma said, but at the time, I chose not to talk back to her about it. I just left the room. I also chose not to tell my dad or sister about it at the time. My dad was worried about us, ah-gong, ah-ma and the relationships with the rest of the family. I didn’t tell my stepmom right away either, because she wouldn’t have put up and would have told my grandmother off.  The reason I decided not to say anything is because what ah-ma said confirmed to me what I had suspected all along…that my grandmother was not right in her head. She probably never was, and my dad concurs.  I’m not a mental health professional by any means, but having worked and specialized in mental health advocacy and knowing her history of problems with all her interpersonal relationships, I think I can recognize these types of things moreso than other folks. I suspected that my grandmother may have had some sort of personality disorder, probably along the lines of borderline personality disorder or narcissist personality disorder.  Of course, I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure that something was not right.

I mean, seriously, who in their right mind, would tell their granddaughter that her mother deserved to be dying and wasting away from cancer? Most people I know would not even think that or say that to their enemies. Not that she still had the right to say that to me in any situation, but I’ve never been disrespectful to her, nor had I ever talked back to her. Thus, while what she said hurt me, I know that there really must have been something wrong with her mental status, so it did not bother me as much. Now if her personality was more stable and more like ah-gong’s and she said that, then that’d be a different story.  A little background about my grandmother: she was rather caustic sometimes and burned lots of bridges. Ah-ma was at times a spiteful person and perseverated on things and people that wronged her for years (sometimes they were tiny tiny insignificant issues that you and I would have forgotten). She even had a little notebook where she noted people’s infractions against her.  Distance kept us from being close, but she may have burned our bridge earlier if we were in fact close. Several of my grandmother’s grandchildren were not on speaking terms with her as were 1-2 of my uncles.  Some of my cousins did not even go to her funeral, even though they lived in Taipei as well.

I went back to Taipei for ah-ma’s  funeral to pay my respects. What she said to me will always resonate a bit – I can’t lie about that, but I’ve made my peace with it. I just hope that the other family members she hurt made their own peace and that she likewise, did as well. She died unexpectedly after ah-gong died. My sister and I lost ah-gong, mom and then ah-ma within a span of 9 months. Needless to say, it sucked big time. I’m not sure whether I believe in heaven, hell and reincarnation, but whatever there is, wherever they are, I wish them all the best and I will always miss them.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Pups and Bicycles

I Want One!

If we didn’t have cats anymore and I could get a hypoallergenic dog (yes, I’m bit allergic to my own cats too, but it was a bit late into the pet-parent thing before I realized the allergy), I’d steal one of my friend’s super-sweet labradoodles. She recently had a knee replacement surgery, so I went over to her house to visit with her and really had a hard time not committing an act of dognapping.

These are pictures of the flat coat labradoodle (not as hypoallergenic), Leura, who is just a doll and attention whore:

IMGP5356

IMGP5355 IMGP5352

Bicycle

It’s been a looong while since I’ve been on a real bike. I had stayed off of them because I have terrible lower back and sciatica issues and I couldn’t find anyone local to ride with me (hubby not into it at all).  Lately, because I’ve been working out and working on strengthening my lower back, I decided that it’s time to get a new bike! It’ll help break up the monotony of a gym workout and I’ve got a partner in crime in Mr. Fireman. (For those of you who don’t Tweet or follow my tweets, Mr. Fireman is my workout buddy and is a fireman/paramedic, hence his nickname.)

Because my godparents’ family is essentially KHS, it would not be right for me to ride any other bike, nor would I want to. It’d be like Steve Jobs’ kids using an Android instead if the iPhone. So today, I met up with my godbrother at the KHS warehouse to pick out a sample bike for me. The sample bikes are already assembled and cheaper, and I’m certainly not that picky, especially since I’m getting the bike on a discount anyway. Because of my back issues, my godbrother recommended bikes from the Comfort Series. Initially, I was leaning towards the 7-speeed Smoothie in a bright blue (darker and more teal than the one shown below).

However, we later spotted a celadon/ sea green road bike in the KHS Urban Series that seemed like a really good option for me as well since it also fits into the comfort line and doesn’t require me to bend over when I ride. After taking them both for a spin inside the warehouse and in the parking lot, I loaded up the Ladies’ Cidi 8-speed into my car and took it home. While the choice was difficult, I ended up choosing it for its comfort, ease and versatility. I would have loved it more if the bike was orange or red, but it’s not like I dislike the color (celadon green was one of my wedding colors), and beggars certainly can’t be choosers.

IMGP5360 IMGP5359

Below is a photo of the road bike my godbrother was picking up for his cousin and the KHS racing trailer.

IMGP5358 IMGP5357

Yarn Bombing?

I’m thinking that maybe my bike is looking a little plain. Should decorate or yarn bomb it like these lovelies? 😉 What do y’all think?

Ok, so this one may not be too functional. From: http://www.boweryboogie.com. Click to go to site/article.

This won't be a functional option either, but it's purrty. From: http://blog.bicyclecoalition.org. Click to go to site/article.

This one is more functional, though the yarn around the tires might make riding a bit hard. It's a bit From: http://thepicaroon.blogspot.com. Click to go to site/article.

OK, so maybe yarn bombing is not such a good idea on my own bike, but I think some small yarny decoration to personalize it might be cool.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been dealing with the blues lately and having trouble finding inspiration for designs. So to help myself push past knittter’s/designer’s block, I decided to create an inspiration board. I wasn’t sure where to start with the board until I saw all these Facebook posts from my friends about college football and our alma matter. Aside from being one of my favorite colors, orange (specifically, sunset orange) is the school color for the University of Texas.

Here’s the result of my inspiration board:

The building in the photo is known as the “Tower.” It’s an Austin landmark and a symbol of pride for Longhorns. It also has some rather spooky and notorious history.

Read Full Post »

Food Allergies

If you’ve been following my tweets over the last several weeks, you’ll know that my elimination diet is no longer one. It has been really challenging and depressing and has morphed more into a pre-elimination sleuthing diet.

As it turns out, I came to the realization that many of the veggies and fruits I love cause immediate reactions in the form of lip/mouth itching, tongue tingling/numbness, throat irritation. face bumps & itching and soft palate (roof of mouth) swelling.

So far, of the foods I’ve tested (or have known about), I’ve found that I’m allergic to the following foods:

Vegetables

green beans;  red leaf lettuce; oak leaf lettuce; romaine lettuce (but cooked is not so bad); artichokes; cabbage; spinach, raw (highly likely, need to test again); edamame (soy)

Fruits

honeydew melon; cantaloupe; pineapple; tomato; apples; figs (though I don’t have a problem if they’re cooked); grapes (highly likely, need to test again)

Meats/Fish

ahi tuna; Alaskan cod; I don’t really eat any other meat but poultry, so I won’t be testing other meats or game.

Other

stevia; sunflower seeds, raw

I’m pretty sad about the edamame allergy discovery. I was vegetarian for over a decade and while I am no longer one, my diet is still largely vegetarian most of the time. I don’t like many meats and generally don’t eat enough protein, so I usually get my protein from soy and other legumes. It’s not a good sign in the legume department given that I’ve already had reactions to green beans and edamame. Sigh. While I don’t know if I have sensitivities to them, at least I don’t seem to have an allergy problem with almonds & cashews.

I still need to test a few lots more foods. Then after I find out more culprits and figure out what foods I can safely eat while trying to keep healthy, I’m going to start over on the elimination diet to find out possible food intolerances and sensitivities.

For those of you who have food issues, I’m sharing a list of food families and foods commonly associated with various  allergies (i.e. latex, ragweed) that I compiled for myself using information from my allergist and other information I gathered from my own research. Click here for the document.

People allergic to birch may also have allergies to almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazelnuts, kiwi, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries and wheat.

Read Full Post »

August is going to be an interesting month for me. First the good stuff:  In August, the Fall issues of  Twist Collective and Knitcircus will be published. I have a garment in each of those ‘zines and am very excited to see the final layout and photos of my garments. I will also be devoting much of August solely on a very large secret project that I’m cooking up.

Above Left: Snippet of one of the projects on the needles. You can see my draft pattern in the background. Right: Part of the main body of the 2nd project and a tiny sliver of a contrasting element. C’mon, did you really think I’d reveal the secret and actually show you details? This is all the hints I can give. Y’all will just have to be patient and wait for a few more days until the publications’ release.

And now, something not so exciting, but hopefully will be very good in the long run…I plan to start an elimination diet on Aug. 1. I’ve contemplated doing the diet for a while now, but I always came up with some sort of excuse and lacked the motivation. Given my lifelong problem with allergies, which seemed to have worsened in the last 2-3 years, I definitely need to do it now.

IMGP2242 For over 6 months, I’ve been undergoing Allergen immunotherapy. And while I’ve seen some minor improvements already, the process is slow, time-consuming, frustrating and not to mention, costly (insurance covers most, but those copays add up). The treatments involves me getting weekly injections of custom-formulated serums of chemical and environmental allergens. My allergist generally starts patients on a tiny, tiny injection (we’re talking about like 1 drop) serum that’s diluted to 1:5000 (1 part serum to 5000 parts saline). Whereas the majority of people tolerate that very well, I was so sensitive that I experienced an anaphylactic reaction to that first injection and the Doc had to administer epinephrine as a result. So, she had to take me waaaay down and started me on a 1:50,000 serum. I am finally on the 1:5000 serum that “normal” people tend to start on.

Anyway, even with the immunotherapy, the highest allowed prescription for Allegra (other allergy drugs like Claritin & Zyrtec do nothing for me), inhalers, Advair (low-dose steroid), lots of $$ spent on super expensive mattress covers & filters and regular sinus rinses, I still get random eczema, hives, and other allergy-related reactions and breakouts that require me to supplement with OTC drugs like Benadryl and Sudafed.

Whatever the cost, difficulty or inconvenience, I don’t want to ever go back to this:

I’m really tired of it all, especially since my allergies aren’t that controlled on top of all the medications I’m taking. I suspect that there are foods contributing to some of these other issues, whether I’m just sensitive or even truly allergic to them. I already know that I’m sensitive or allergic to sulfites, preservatives, citrus and some melons. While the process will be very hard as I’ll have to give up things I love to eat, I think (I hope) that in the end, I will be much happier, more energetic, sleep better and just be much healthier.  I am scheduled to have some food allergy testing done in December, and while food allergy testing can help, the tests can also register false positives and false negatives. With me playing my own food detective, I can probably pinpoint some of the other culprits and help my Doc to formulate a better diagnosis for me.

I actually suspect an allergy to cherries, one of my favorite summertime indulgences.

So with the Doc’s approval and my desire to have a better daily life, hopefully free of daily headaches, more energy, more sleep, better breathing and no more itching, I’ve committed myself to start the diet starting August 1.  After doing more research and reading, it appears that given my ultra-sensitivity to so many things, I will need to eliminate lots of foods that other people on elimination diets can eat, which is a bit of a dismay. 😦 Because of some of my known and tested allergies, I need to eliminate foods that are commonly associated with those allergies.  I’ll have to cut out all fruits, some of my favorite veggies and all grains (even rice or quinoa!) during the elimination period; it’s the only way that I can really test to see if I am sensitive or allergic to some of those foods.

The plan: Make my diet public to hopefully help me maintain the motivation. I’ll do a 3 week elimination period and only test low-suspect foods like broccoli, carrots, bananas and rice first. All other foods will be eliminated for 1 month before I start challenging and re-introducing them, slowly and one by one. I’ll be keeping a food diary of everything I eat (or rather, don’t eat!) and my reactions and how I feel everyday and before/after each meal.

Saying goodbye: It’s so hard to say goodbye to some of my favorite foods, and it’ll also be hard to see all the food-related post my foodie friends make on Twitter and Facebook. In “prepping” for this upcoming very restrictive diet, I downed lots of swiss cheese and a quart of ice cream in the span of 3 days. The rest of this week will be filled with indulgent meals of pasta, sweets, chocolate, breads, tofu and sushi.

Goodbye, my friends, I hope I get to see you again. I know that I may not taste some of you for a very long time, if ever again…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: