Here is yet another update from my Argentine travels.

Alright so I´ve got to keep this one short cause I´m being charged about a $1 an hour for the slowest and most accident prone Internet connection ever.

I´m still in the city of Malargue although I had originally planned to be in San Martin de Los Andes by now, but the people in the hostel here are just too cool to leave, so I´ll be stickin around and skiing at Las Leñas until Monday (I think). Here´s a quick lineup of the kids I´ve been hangin out with for the last week. Carlos is a Chilean snowboarder who fled to Argentina to avoid a courtdate to address an incident he had while driving drunk, Ali is the most typical cynical New Yorker and has been in South America for over a year now, Clara and Sara are brits who teach english in Buenos Aires, Kiwi is aussie turned canadian turned argentine who leads backcountry trips in his free time (which is all the time for him), Bjorn and Teag are Seattlites who´ve come down for the season after just graduating from Univ of Wash to make up for the Northwest´s atrocity of a season this year, Alex is an Israelli who knows seven languages and thought he might learn to ski on his 19 month trip to South America, and finally there´s Gerardo, owner of the hostel who was on Las Lenas´ski patrol for over 20 years and is now retired but still leads weekend trips for his guests. Needless to say I´´ve been skiing constantly but today I had a decent wipeout off a 10 foot drop and bruised my shin so I´m thinking I might take tomorrow off. Anyways I hope that all of your summers are going well, mine is beginning to look alot like christmas...

Peace out,


the latest the next to latest the next to oldest the oldest

The Final Fitting

(so I don't forget)

I was worried that my sister was going to be one of those bony brides. You know, those whippet-thin stressballs with xylophone breastbones? Whose collarbones protrude and whose scapulae are scalpel-sharp, more wing than bone?

Carrie used to be thin, but-not-too. As her wedding approaches, her dress size has shrunk alarmingly for such a tall woman. At 6'0, she's always been perfectly able to carry a few extra pounds - I would say she looks better with a bit of meat on her. She's gone from a size 10 to a size 6ish over the past six months or so. She says it's Pilates, but I was skeptical.

All my worries were put to rest last week when I saw her at her final wedding dress fitting.

She found the dress online and pursued it with lovesick fervor. She discovered that the designer was having a trunk show in Portland at an upscale boutique, so she emailed the guy personally and begged him to send a sample of The Dress. He was happy to oblige.

Incredibly, the sample size he sent was too big, so she snapped it up and began the arduous alteration process. Working closely with a talented seamstress, Carrie had The Dress recut to show off her beautiful back. What was once a straight-across backline is now a deep V-style that follows the sinuous line of her back to its midpoint.

The Dress is silk with silk embroidery on the bodice. It has tiny slips of sleeves - about three inches wide - that come to rest at the very edge of her broad, strong shoulders. The color is cream dreaming of white - a color difficult to describe, but one that flatters the skin much more than pure white ever could.

The bodice is a fitted, gorgeous tangle of embroidered flowers - you'd miss them if they didn't have backstitched whispers of baby-beige thread to set them off just the slightest bit. The merest edges of the bodice - the deep V in back and the scooped neckline as well as the place where the bodice meets the skirt - have the subtlest sprinkling of beadwork. It's as though an angel seamstress cried stray silvery tears as she stitched and found them too pleasing to brush away.

The skirt is a masterpiece of simplicity. No beading or lace anywhere, just a marvelously weighty double-layered silk waterfall that cascades to a small train. Invisible snaps sewn between the silken layers make it possible to gather the train into a low, elegant billow of French bustle so that she can dance - and oh, will she dance! - at her reception.

When Carrie emerged from the curtained dressing area a hush fell over the entire crowded bridal shop. The low murmur of the other excited brides dwindled to awed hush as she took a few tentative steps toward me and our mother. She was Grecian in her stillness - radiant and heartstopping, the prettiest hint of uncertainty playing tag with delighted pride across her flushed face - the gods' own daydream of a bride. All my concerns about her thinness evaporated, and it occured to me in a rush that Carrie has simply been on the best diet of all - new love.

The unbroken fall of silk. Her height. Her caramel sweep of hair. Her regal bearing. Her swan neck, the color of fresh peaches. Her slim (but-still-not-too) silhouette, the gentle swell of her breasts, the rising bloom in her cheeks...all these elements met in a total eclipse of beauty. No jewelry - Carrie's the pearl, her eyes sapphire-blue; no need to gild that lily. Her feet were naked, as they will be on the Hawaiian beach where she is to be wed, her toes brightened with polish the exact color of molten silver.

In the timeless and lovely way of brides, she looked not to the mirror but to our faces for confirmation...

...and in our tears she had her answer.

Seven down, one to go...

"The great thing about being hit over the head with a hammer, is that it's great when it stops"

Well, one thing leads to another. In fact, that's been happening in a positive way these past few weeks, as we've counted down the dread chemo treatments, until at this writing, there is but one more. After 15th July, no more three-hour sessions, no more Neulasta shots, no more nausea or bone pain or suchlike. Just peace for six weeks, and a welcome back to grundoon's lovely locks! The radiotherapy will start in the autumn - major problem there will be possible minor burns, and fatigue.

Christine has lost some weight, despite eating close to a normal diet (I'm a good cook, see?), and we're obviously hoping that will reverse soon. She's back at work part-time (working about 3/4 of her normal hours) and is generally in good spirits, if tired. My recommendation is never get cancer, it's not a Good Thing at all.

Update: Radiation starts mid-August. At least she's getting it over with.

The "Without Whoms"

It's been a tough few months, and we'd just like to offer some big thanks to a few people. Firstly, to Barbara, Chris's primary care physician (GP to the Brits), for the speed with which she got the wheels in motion. Secondly, Alicia and the surgical team who did such a sterling job of the mastectomy and portacath installation. Then there is the oncology team - Luko and of course the staff and nurses at the Sutter Infusion Center in Davis, most especially Lynn, Christine, Annie and Kim. Your cheerful and optimistic nature, sense of humour and personal attention go well beyond the call of duty.

There are relatives, friends and neighbours, too, including you noders. Please, take a bow, all of you. Mac, Stumpy and Katy, Koren and Rick, Pat and Steve, Bob, Tessie, Sam and Caroline, Jenny and David, David and Jane, Lisa, Jim and Julie, Greg and Christina, Therese, Mark and Maureen...the list goes on. Of the noders, Apatrix and gwenllian, momomom, borgo, doyle, siouxisie, shimmer and stupot, Albert Herring (and Mrs Herring!), andromache01, Heisenberg, princess_loulou (in fact, all the ninjagirls, britnoders...), The Debutante, teos, Lometa, Wiccanpiper. In no particular order, and apologies if I missed you out - good karma will be yours.

All this care means that Christine has an excellent chance of coming through, not just medically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually whole. We thank you and pray for all of you.

A House! A House! My Kingdom for a House!

In amongst all the medical issues and worries, our landlady recently announced that she was selling the house we rent. Damned good timing - we had 30 days' notice to quit, which hasn't given us much time to find a new place, especially given that the majority of new rentals only become available in September (this being a college town).

Thankfully, we've been able to find a new house about a quarter of a mile away, for about the same price, and will be signing the new lease tomorrow. The worst thing that we have to face now is the actual move - Christine has a lifetime's worth of stuff to pack and move (mine will now fit into two suitcases, thanks to the demise of my house in Nottingham) - but we may just hire movers and be done with it.

The other thing we will leave behind is Tessie's tomato plants. She'd just seen the first fruits from them, and will be disappointed when her favourite fails to survive the transplantation process. Ah well, such is life. She'll survive. Funny, she's like me in this respect - the tiny little disasters are the ones I rave over, like the dropped milk bottle. The major ones (like Chris's cancer diagnosis and so on) I take in my stride...

"Nothing of importance happened today"

Such was George III's alleged comment in his diary on 4th July, 1776 (news of the Declaration of Independence didn't actually reach England until 24th July).

My first Independence Day in the USA went without a hitch. Instead of walking up and down the high street, carrying a Union Flag and a replica musket, I was with my family in the Capay Valley, swimming in Sam and Caroline's pool, after which we went to see some fireworks. The natives were fairly friendly, even when I told them that we were going to reimpose the Monarchy and give away the Constitution ("given that you aren't using it").

It's another fine day in a strange land, which becomes less strange by the day. The temperature right now is 31°C (89°F), the high was 38°C (100°F). I had a small feeling of victory a month ago, when a Californian finally agreed with my comment that "it's hot today". Apparently this is just the beginning, though - temperatures in this part of the world can hit 41°C (105°F). But apparently, "it's a dry heat", which makes it all right.

Update: 7th July

The total and bloody awful irony of George's quotation has just hit me for six, on reading the news that there have been explosions (presumably bombings) in London. Heart in mouth, I await confirmation that no-one I know is in the "quite a large number of casualties" at Aldgate Tube Station.

As I know some dozens of people in London, my thoughts are with all of you britnoders- even if no-one is hurt, the damage to your peace of mind must be colossal. What passes for prayers in this heart, are with you all today. I remember the feeling of helplessness I had on September 11, 2001.

Of the London-based britnoders or visitors, these have been reported as being OK:

Not yet heard from:
Editors, feel free to update this list.

Update: 27th July

We're moving next Tuesday, 2nd August. Needless to say, once it's all over, it will be a big relief. Thanks for all your messages of support, once again!

(R) breast and (R) axilla - Caught in the medical machine - Going Amazonian - When the Breast Fairy Comes - So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology - Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions - Support the Amazons: A Dual-Function Ninjagirls Bakesale for Boobies - Seven Down, One to Go - 1950s technology meets 21st-century woman. - Getting better, but cancer SUCKS - An Open Letter to Macy's regarding Tits

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