Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s the weekend…

I just realized that I haven’t posted ANYTHING here in days. Ooooooops!

It’s not my fault, really. I mean, even though Florence has been essentially shut down this entire week by the world cycling championships (to be more precise, the UCI Road World championships), my friends have been crawling through the cheering crowds and over street barriers to get to my house and keep me company during my convalescence, so I’ve had a lot of company in the past few days. In other words, I haven’t had time to do much else but relax, you see. Yeah, it’s really great to have…great friends! :) 

Yesterday afternoon, as I was playing cards with my above-mentioned friends, Stefano’s cousins arrived from southern Italy and whisked him off to Munich…to the Oktoberfest. Beer and more beer. He’ll be back tomorrow. This was definitely a “guy” trip. Even if I’d felt up to the six-hour drive to Munich (from Florence), I wouldn’t have gone with them… 😉

So this weekend I’m home “alone” with my six kitties, mainly watching BBC drama series (for example, last night I watched “Goodnight Mr. Tom”…a really sweet movie set during WWII in England…cried like a baby, I did…) and Season 9 of Grey’s Anatomy. Ahhh yes, I’ve had a very nice rest. And today I feel normal again. I’m on my computer, working away like a madwoman…

Last week I read an excellent article by Dr. Cathy Kerr, Ph.D., titled “Qi versus cancer.” She wrote the stories of two different cancer patients, one with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the other with myeloma (=Cathy herself)…I’m sure you will find it as interesting as I did: http://goo.gl/ULwwst

Dr. Kerr also gave a very interesting TED talk on mindfulness meditation last year: http://goo.gl/B7V1se Check out this video, too, especially if you have cancer-related depression and pain…This could really help…and it’s only 15 minutes long. 

To end on a funny note…I just watched this commercial and had to share it…enjoy! http://goo.gl/XVKRy5

Okay, I need to go off now and watch the first episode of “Call the midwife.” Then it will be time to feed the cats…

Take care, everyone! Ciao! :)

Work in progress

_MG_0272_MG_0249Stefano bought me a new camera while we were in the U.S. this summer. 

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It’s small, smaller than my “old” camera, but it takes really sharp photos…much sharper, in fact, than my old camera, which I will still use for bird watching, mainly because of its long lens. 

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This new camera, though, is purrrfect for taking photos of the cats, and so that is my work in progress.

 I’ve been taking photos of them almost every day. Such a joy. 

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Here’s just a sample…and yes, I need more practice, but in my defense, it’s not easy to take photos of moving creatures who really want nothing to do with a camera… 😉

Hey, isn’t it weird how Prezzemolo looks like two different cats in the first two photos? 

Prezzemolo actually looks more like himself in the second photo, the cat tower one. There is some sort of weird light thing going on in the first photo, since I assure you our floor is NOT curcumin-orange but cotto-red (and no, that isn’t because I touched up the photos. The only thing I do with my photos is reduce their size and cut off some of the superfluous background).

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By the way, I was recently informed that Pinga (our white cat with amber eyes, a white and orange striped tail, and a few orange spots on her soft, rabbit-like coat, especially on her head) might be a Turkish Van. Uhm, no, that’s not the name of a delivery company based in Turkey; it’s the name of a long-haired cat breed with genetic origins near Lake Van, in Turkey. Yeah, I’d never heard of this breed before, either…

Anyway, our little Pinga seems to possess a lot of the characteristics of this breed, except that she is a short-haired cat (but I read that there is a short-hair “Dutch” variety of the breed?). 

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Pinga is incredibly smart and affectionate (when we’re in bed, e.g., she will lie on our chests and wrap her paws around our necks, purring ecstatically, and she loves to lick our faces, necks and arms, bleah…), very athletic, and she adores water (though I very much doubt we’ll test the Turkish Van’s swimming ability!!!). She is the most affectionate cat I’ve ever had…one of the funniest, too.

Well, she may not be a purebred T.V., but I’m curious, now, even though of course it makes no difference to us…Is anybody here a T.V. expert, by any chance? 😉

No feverzzzzz!

I even did some work today. Ahhh, yes…much better…

_MG_0185_MG_0168And, to celebrate my return to an almost-normal state, today I’m posting a photo I took of our eldest kitty, Puzzola, just last week…two days before I got sick, in fact, ugh. Anyway, that evening Puzzola did something she never does: she jumped up into our ensuite bathroom sink and just stayed there, even when I whipped out the camera (like lots of cats, she is camera shy…). 

She’s such a great cat…12 years old (according to our vet, she was born in June 2001…?) and going strong, in spite of the beginnings of hyperthyroidism, for which she is being treated, of course. Anyway, with no further ado, this is our green-eyed Puzzola. 

Feverzzzzz!

Wow, I haven’t been this sick in ages…In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I was so sick…

I began feeling a bit “off” on Thursday evening…By the time I woke up on Friday I had a sore throat and a fever, 38° Celsius, which is 100.4° F. I thought, okaaaaay, here we go again. But the symptoms were a bit different this time. Namely, no sign of a cough. So I didn’t go on an antibiotic. Not immediately, that is…

I slept through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. In spite of all the endless naps, though, I didn’t feel any better. So I finally took my first antibiotic on Sunday night. Well, it got rid of the sore throat, anyway!

On Monday night my fever went up to 38.5, or 101.3. Okay, not a terribly high fever, but after four days of sleep-sleep-and-more-sleepzzzzz, I’d really had it. The following morning I called our family doctor who told me there are a lot of sick people with my same symptoms, and even worse ones. He approved of the antibiotic and told me I’d just have to rest and wait…a week or so…

Rest? Wait? A week in bed? No way. I have too much to do!!! But talking to him and realizing that a lot of people have the same thing made me feel better, I guess. Today I haven’t taken even one nap, e.g. And I turned on my computer for the first time…

Ah, and here’s another sign of improvement: since Friday I’ve had at least three devoted cats with me at all times…lying on me or curled up beside me. Well, today that number has gone down to one (= Pinga, who sleeps on our bed anyway).

So, when the furry little nurses decide they don’t need to be on duty 24 hours, you know you’re definitely getting better. 😉

My favorite town on Cape Cod

IMG_4120_MG_0072Since these photos were in a separate folder (long story…basically, I used a different, smaller camera from the one I usually use…), I almost forgot about them! But then yesterday I remembered. 

And how could I NOT put up photos of my favorite town on Cape Cod: lively, colorful, fun Provincetown (or P’town, as we call it)? 

So here are some of my quirky shots of P’town, taken on the day we went whale watching with the Dolphin Fleet…I took photos of things that struck me…and of people, of course. 

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In one photo, e.g., you will see (on the left) a guy dressed up in a Dalmatian costume. I suppose he and his friend, dressed in a long cape and white boots (= playing the part of Cruella de Vil, the evil character in Disney’s “One Hundred and One Dalmations”) were publicizing a show, but I’m not positive about that… _MG_0013

Anyway, whatever…they were walking up Commercial Street in P’town, chatting with people…and now and again the “dog” would suddenly fling himself on the ground and do some funny, cute, entertaining things. 

For instance, he’d put his “paw” out to gently touch children in strollers (the children were absolutely mesmerized…it was so incredibly sweet, but I didn’t feel I should use any of the adorable photos I took…privacy issues, you know…)…or he’d grab people by the leg or legs and, well, just hold on. Hilarious to watch people’s reactions. _MG_0058

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And yes, you guessed it…the latter happened to me, too. :) I suddenly felt my legs getting grabbed from behind as I was walking along, taking photos…and I was so startled that I let out a verrrrrry loud shriek. Surprise!!! I couldn’t move. The “dog” was embracing both my legs. So I just kept laughing. And petting the “dog” on the head. You never know what  is going to happen to you in P’town! And that’s the fun of it! 

My photo of a rainbow peace flag in P’town here on the left: I didn’t know it would mean so much to me right now, in this period of terrific apprehension…

Peace.

I hope. 

Should we change our attitude about stress?

I love TED talks (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, in case you’ve ever wondered, like I have). I mean, even if I’m not even mildly interested in the TED topic under discussion, I watch the video anyway, sometimes, because I always learn something. And learning new things is exercise for the brain, right? Plus, truth be told, I’m a curious gal…and my curiosity, in fact, has probably saved my life, certainly my quality of life…so curiosity can be very good (even though it apparently, er, “killed the cat,” eh 😉 ). 

Often, though, the TED topics are relevant, relevant to us myeloma folks, I mean. The TED talk I’m about to introduce is a case in point. First, though, I need to thank Julie for sending me the link to this talk on STRESS.

Ah, yes, stress.

I’ve always maintained here on the blog, that stress is bad for us. Very VERY bad. This is based on what I have read about the stress hormone norepinephrine, which is involved in myeloma progression, according to a study published in 2008, a study that we should all know from top to bottom, a study that I’ve posted about, and referred to, numerous times here on the blog… (see my Page on myeloma and stress, on the right). 

But what if stress were actually NOT so bad for us? What if we found out that what is bad for us is actually our ATTITUDE about stress? 

According to Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal, if you BELIEVE that stress is bad for you, you are at more risk of…dying. Yes, dying. No kidding. Simply by having the wrong attitude toward stress…

And then she asks the question: can changing the way we think about stress make us healthier? The science says YES, she answers. 

Yes?

Could that be possible?

Without further ado, here’s the link to Kelly’s fascinating TED talk. It’s less than 15 minutes long, so it won’t take up much of your time…and it may change your attitude/s toward stress and make you lead a healthier, happier life… 

Now I am really curious to read the University of Buffalo study that Kelly refers to in the second half of her lecture…I want to learn more about this “attitude about stress” business, because that myeloma-stress study has always been in the back of my mind, so I want more information…

One thing is for sure, though: I’m going to start changing the way I feel about stress…I mean, it can’t hurt…and it could possibly give a boost to my impaired immune system, which is always more than welcome…

Anyway, this video is a totally fascinating…I highly recommend it: http://goo.gl/EbJpxG 

Besides, where else are you going to learn about the “cuddle” hormone? Hehe. 

More photos…

_MG_0054IMG_4099Since yesterday’s photos received so many lovely comments and compliments (on my blog’s Facebook page, mainly), for which I thank you all!!!, I thought I would upload a few more, which didn’t make it into yesterday’s selection…_MG_0091

IMG_5355By the way, if you hover (the mouse) over the photos, some will have a brief description. Not all of them…just some…IMG_4935

Enjoy! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. summer 2013 photos…(for Julie)

IMG_4019A few nights ago, I dreamt someone informed me that my blog was sad and full of cobwebs as a result of my neglect. I really did! IMG_4212

And it’s true…I have been neglecting it.

What can I say? I’m a busy gal! :-)

But I’m reading things, and also slowly going through some of my 2000 unread emails (which are now down to 1200…gulp…Oh, that reminds me: if you wrote to me with a question and want an answer, you’d better write to me again…!). _MG_0108

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By the way, Stefano and I are not in the photo here on the right, which I took of our group of birdwatchers on North Monomoy Island. 

IMG_4631We went there with the Audubon Society. Warning: this is a trip you don’t want to do if you are not relatively in shape. A lot of walking under the sun, up and down dunes, etc. Pant pant! :) IMG_4722

But it was worth it: we saw birds there that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, such as the two long-billed dowitchers (see photo, here on the left).  

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IMG_5026IMG_5265But yes, those are our feet up there (on a windy Cape Cod beach, photo taken the day before we came back to Italy). Mine are on the left, Stefano’s are on the right.

Cute, huh? Hehe. 😉