Friday, September 17, 2010


So often the gifts we get come wrapped up in a shoddy disguise, so that a careless person might not recognize them for what they are.

In the past few weeks, while I have gone through the doctor visits, the surgery on my face wherein the kindly surgeon removed a basal skin cancer tumor and a goodly chunk of tissue, and my self-imposed sequestering due to my funny looking face, I have been marveling at the gifts I have been given.

Have you ever gone through a period of time when you just didn't want to have to do anything outside your front door? I mean, even things that you enjoy and signed up for? You don't want to quit them entirely, but you just wish you could have a guilt-free break? Well, I am taking a guilt-free (well, as guilt-free as an Italian Catholic can ever be) break. From my little part-time job of cleaning the church, from the choir, from the other ministry meetings, and from running the roads altogether. And last Sunday, still with a monstrous bandage, I stayed home from mass and a dear friend brought Communion to me at home.

Ah, peace and tranquility. And naps, including the option of going back to bed in the morning after my son leaves for school. I am seven days post-op and hoping to milk this for seven more. Am I terrible? Maybe so, but I have dutifully refrained from my generation's mantra of "if it feels good, do it", for lo some forty-plus years. Now I am finally taking a sip of  the nectar of self-indulgence. Yummy. But also very interesting when you consider that we all have projects and interests that usually we neglect because we don't have time to do them.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the great crab apple escapade. I had washed them up really well due to this gray stuff that gets all over rooftops, sides of houses and tree fruit. Its just a film of dark patches, but it was on the crab apples. So I washed and rubbed them in water, vinegar, peroxide and more water and sealed them up in gallon bag and refrigerated them. Well, I didn't have time to process them before my surgery but a few days ago I did. See?

The Ball Blue Book was my mom's (from about the time I was in high school).
It is as delicious as it is pretty.

I also picked about two dozen granny smith apples off my little tree in the back yard, and baked a pie with some of them. And yesterday, we took on the onerous job of cutting out all the coupons that have been piling up all summer from the Sunday papers. That job was a natural offshoot of the primary job of going through things that had built up in the bookcase I keep in the kitchen.

Other good things have happened in the kitchen this past week. I straightened and organized my pantry closet and my freezer. We have had the big freezer unplugged all summer and have been disciplining ourselves to only buy and keep what would fit into the one that is part of the refrigerator.

Where I live, they raise the electricity rates in the summer to capitalize on people using their air conditioning, so therefore it makes sense not to keep a freezer running out in the hot garage during this time. When they lower the rates on October 1st, I will probably stock up some meats from the farm. They are from organically raised, free-range, pasture-fed stock. More expensive than the supermarket stuff, but, hey I don't gamble, smoke, go to the beauty salon or spend much on my wardrobe, so I think it's OK.

Now with staying out of the stores and having the food organized, I have been putting together lots of good meals and treats with what's on hand. Its good to use up your stuff a couple of times a year.

Yesterday, for example, there were five people here around lunchtime, so I whipped up a smoothie from this mix/frozen fruit pack I had gotten on sale awhile back. I mixed a raw farm egg in with that and some almond milk. They didn't know about the egg, so don't say anything. Then I pulled out a container of chili that I had frozen last July, made with my garden tomatoes and peppers. I heated that up, and made a green salad, and that was lunch.

I had been saving this frozen package of homemade pasta that I had bought from the mom and pop Italian store when I visited back home last month. So last night I boiled that up and served it with a "sauce" I made from diced bacon pieces, olive oil, onions, garlic, some pieces of fresh broccoli and carrots all sauteed together, to which I added basil, oregano, parsley, hot pepper flakes, shredded mozzarella and grated locatelli cheese. Another tossed salad accompanied that, and we called it supper.

Now today after blogging, I plan to start filling up some giveaway bags. Ever since watching a couple shows on TV about people hoarding so much stuff in their homes that they become unable to function, I have become more motivated to really look around this place and see the clutter that I've become used to "not seeing". The beginning of fall is a great time to take stock of everything, isn't it? The weather is turning cooler, we make the transition to warmer clothes, we want to change the decor and clean things up outside, and prepare the garden beds for winter. It is the perfect time now to purge everything that needs it, and then clean and polish up the house and furnishings for our wonderful holidays and cozy time indoors.

So, in conclusion, I do not wish a patch of skin cancer on you, but I do hope you will make the most of everything that comes your way, realizing that "... we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." I hope that is you, my friend.

The best thing to come out of all of this, I have saved for last. I have never been one to bask in the sun, but I am fair skinned and have had a couple of bad sunburns in the past. That's all it takes, apparently. The sun is wonderful and what we need to do is to build up our exposure to it in small increments day by day, allowing ourselves to have a light tan. No extremes, no "baking" out there, and judiciously using protective hats and clothing, which in itself is another reason for modest dressing!

I say all this to explain that skin cancer was not on my radar. Once this happened, it caused me to laser focus on someone very precious to me who does sunbathe, has spent a fair amount of time in tanning booths, and very little time at the doctor's since she does not have health insurance. Well, I insisted she go to the dermatologist because she also has a lot of moles. He didn't charge much and I was happy to pay for it for her. Well, it turns out she has a mole on the side of her breast which the doctor says has to come off. He stared at that thing for the longest time and said, "I don't think it's malignant, but when I have to scrutinize something that long to convince myself that it's not, then it needs to come off". This is really scary because he had just finished telling us about a girl he is treating whose melanoma has spread into her lymph nodes. She is 16 years old! May Jesus have mercy!

So it's off to the plastic surgeon. Please pray with me that this is something that will also turn out for the good, that it will not be malignant, but will make this dear person wake up to a lot of things in her own life that need to be purged or that need to be spruced up!

Here ends the tale of the basal skin cancer cells with silver linings, but I urge you to go for the gold and take care of yourself and your skin!


  1. Anonymous11:26 PM

    I decided a few years ago to give surprise bags to the women at the church. I had many new pretty candles, inspirational books, pretty pens, you name it. Things people had gifted me and I added things I found new at the thrift stores or 99c stores to fit the personality of each woman. I added Dvds or such I already had. If I had something used at home but nice i added that. This was one way of decluttering my home but blessing another women. I did it all anonymously. Just took the pretty bags to the church with the ladies names on them and just wrote, From a sister in christ on the tag. I overheard many say how much they loved getting them. Also you can single out a single mother struggling and give her say homeschoooling supply things you have or things her kids might be able to use. You can even put the things in a basket you already have, reuse a gift bag or a pretty box. Just a thought! Love your blog and you thoughts. I found you through Homeliving. Sarah

  2. Anonymous1:05 AM

    Your post made me think of Romans 8:28... "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. God bless you. Rosemary

  3. This is fantastic, Sarah! So many good ideas of things to do for others! Very often I am asked to chip in for gifts and flowers for deserving folks, and most of the time I am just not able to lay out ten or twenty dollars at a time. But now you have given me ideas of things I could do, and hopefully others will see your comments and follow suit, as well. Thanks for commenting here and on my other posts - I have so appreciated hearing from you. May you be blessed today!


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