June, month of everything

June is a month of Birthdays.

It is a month, (like December) when I notice that I am in a different hemisphere.

Both of my daughters were born in June, on a Wednesday at 10 am, but in different seasons.

My first daughter was born in the summer; flowers, sun, and sandals.

My second daughter was born in the winter; sweaters, clouds, and hot water bottles.

So as I celebrate their Birthdays I feel the cold, but expect the summer heat.

I also feel the passing of time as I watch the olives on the trees turn from green to shiny black.



As June passes I see the birds stealing the olives that have gone soft and know it is time to pick. My daughters and I went out today and collected olives, luckily it was warm because they both have colds, my husband too. That’s winter.

June 2011 is when I decided to stop drinking, (because of my migraines) and two years on I am not missing it. However, because I don’t drink, I really notice how much other people do. And how often characters on the television drink. My oldest daughter and I were trying to make a list of all the characters that don’t drink alcohol…wasn’t much of a list. If any one can think of any teetotallers on the television please leave names in the comment section.

So June has gone spinning by and I have spent most of the time looking after my daughters with winter colds, watching them grow, (my oldest just turned 17, where did the years go?), and preparing myself for another visit with my eye doctor next month.

What I should be doing is spinning and weaving! Preparing for the 4th Observatorio Cultural. For anyone visiting La Serena in July come and see all the beautiful art and crafts!

more information on their page Creatif.

Photo: http://www.artenorte.cl/la-serena-18-19-y-20-de-julio-todos-invitados-al-4to-observatorio-cultural

The little things and the big ones

It has been a while since my last post, sorry, I have been busy. Mainly with little things, like my dying washing machine. (I am such a terrible house wife, and hand washing the whole family’s clothes really is not fun and I did not do it very well!) I finally got a new machine, and it is a joy to be able to put clothes in, walk away, then come back and put them on the line…nice and clean. Be thankful of modern luxuries.

Also I started going to yoga classes, which I love. Many people have recommended yoga, and for a long time I have thought about it, but the breathing in yoga has always scared me, (and it is a big part of yoga!) My problem is that when I think about my breathing it makes me feel short of breath. However, when a good friend came back to Chile and started teaching yoga, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of having a friend help me with my breathing fears. She is a great teacher, and also speaks excellent English. For anyone looking for a bilingual yoga teacher in La Serena, here is her facebook page Yoga Jessyyoga.

And the results are great! I love how the yoga makes me feel; it pushes me, but at the same time helps me relax. Which I really need. Since I started taking the ergot based migraine medicine last year, I haven’t had a really bad, (as in a day in bed vomiting) type migraine, but I am still having lots of small migraines and feel I am taking the medicine too often. (not more than what the box says, but still a lot) However, without the medicine I know what my migraine will turn into, (a day in bed vomiting and another day to recover).

So this past month I have been going to yoga, taking a multi-vitamin with magnesium in it, (good for migraine sufferers), and trying not to eat foods that I think are triggers. Part of this is to control my migraines better, but it is also to look after myself and give the freckle in my eye everything it needs to stay a freckle.

Ah yes, the big ones, my freckle, which is actually a nevus/melanoma. That is what my scans and doctor call it. I visited my doctor again last week and she said that my nevus looks good; no changes, clean edges, not too thick. She also explained that there is less than 5% chance of it turning into melanoma. However, she also explained how a nevus can grow but still be a nevus, and a melanoma can be small and never change, so telling the difference between the two is difficult. So we wait and watch because there is more risk from operating, than what a large nevus or small non-growing melanoma could do.

Looking on the internet, (which they tell you not to do) the statistics from one study of 1611 patients with iris nevus, showed growth from nevus to melanoma to be “<1%, 3%, 4%, 8%, and 11% at 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years, respectively” and “risk factors for growth, identified by ABCDEF included Age young, Blood (hyphema), Clock hour inferior, Diffuse configuration, Ectropion uveae, and Feathery tumour margin”. Of the six risk factors, I have A (age ≤40 years at presentation) and C ( 4:00 to 9:00 clock hour location of tumour).  from “Iris Nevus Growth into Melanoma: Analysis of 1611 Consecutive Eyes: The ABCDEF Guide.

And because I visited the doctor last week and have to go back in July for another scan my nevus-not-cancer-but-may-be-one-day is on my mind. Always is when I have an appointment, (the rest of the time I don’t dwell on it so much). And really, I don’t know how to think of this. Do I think of it as just a nevus that will probably never change, and ignore the cancer side of it, (that kind of feels like denial). Or do I admit that I may have cancer but as long as it doesn’t change, it is not very dangerous? And I don’t understand why this feels so complicated. Maybe I am a bit of a control freak, and controlling starts with having the correct name! Maybe I should call it a tumour, not as innocent as a freckle, but not as scary as melanoma. Maybe that is easier to explain to people as well.

I know this is supposed to be a craft blog, or farming, or expat living in Chile, and not a cancer blog, (but it is mine) and this small brown freckle is causing me all sorts of thoughts and questions when it looks back at me in the mirror every day. And putting this all out there, into the wide world helps me put it into perspective. Because there are many things worse than what I am dealing with, and I know I am very fortunate; I have the little things in my life, not just the big ones.

Month of migraines and birthdays

June is migraine awareness month and it is also the month of birthdays.  Both my daughters and my husband celebrate being another year older this month, (some happier than others).

We started with the first birthday this weekend, with my youngest asking me every day last week not to be sick on her birthday, (I was sick on some of her past birthdays).  She is a counter, loves to count off the days, so she has been counting down to her birthday for months.

Of course, as predicted I got a headache on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and on Sunday.  I took my usually cocktails of drugs, mixing and matching, but they only seemed to take the edge off.  (I have tried the maxalt, one of the triptans but I was getting more episodes the year I took them so wasn’t sure if their was a connection).  I have been taking Co-codamol and paracetamol in different doses, which sometimes work great, but are easy to become addicted to, so really not the best method of controlling pain.

On Sunday morning I decided to take nothing and see if the pain would go, but also asked my husband to ask at the pharmacy for something stronger than paracetamol.  By the time he got back from shopping I was desperate.  In Chile migraines are called jaqueca, which I never thought was a real word and didn’t think people really understood how I badly I was suffering when they said oh, you have jaqueca.  (I looked the word up and it comes from Arabic and means half, from the pain that affects half of your head).  My husband bought me medicine for jaqueca, one from the ergot family of drugs.  I had never tried this before, but it worked.  It made me feel a bit weird (I was already feeling weird but in pain as well), but it got rid of the pain quickly.

I could go on and on about how suffering form migraines effects my life; it makes me feel I can’t plan things, I am unreliable, I have to be very careful what I eat, I have stopped drinking (which after a year I am not missing that much), and I get depressed when I can’t do anything because of the pain, or fatigue, or nausea, or the vomiting. This website has a lot of good information and I especially liked this, “10 things I want to share about migraines“.  If you know anyone who suffers please read this and send copies to your friends.

Unfortunately my daughters birthday was not spent the way she had hoped, but a few toys and playing with her sister made it a fun day.

Happy Anniversary blog

Today my blog is one year old, and I have been thinking about how to celebrate.

I wanted to write something nice, not just about how last week my whole family caught some stomach bug.  One by one through the week we took our turns in bed with the “sicky bowl”.  On the positive side we didn’t all get sick on the same day; on the negative side the girls got sick in the evening and I had to sit up all night with them.

But that is not what I want to write about on my anniversary.  I have been thinking about the types of blogs I like to read and the friendships I feel I have made with other bloggers.  Some of the blogs I read are crafty or about small farms, others about lives I find interesting.   Some I maintain a dialogue with and think of them as friends, some I just observe what is happening in their lives.

I never thought my blog would be very personal but I realise now that I am not the type of person who writes just facts.  When I was young I kept a diary, and after that a journal.  From the age of 12 till 24 I wrote about every thing in my life.  This blog isn’t that, but I know the blogs I like are the ones when you feel the person writing.

So with that in mind, and as a way to say thanks to people who read my blog, I am going to share a bit more about myself.


Some of the things that make me who I am is the places I have lived.  I was born in Canada, (Manitoba), but then lived in the USA, (Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota, and Arizona) and in the UK, (Lancashire, London, and Devon).  I now live in Chile, (Region IV).

I am a natural blond, but started going grey after a dream about spiders when I was 20.  Now I am a mix of blonds and white.  When I was younger I always changed my hair colour, reds mainly, but last year while living in the UK I dyed my hair blue/black.  I loved it, but keeping on top of the roots was not worth the trouble.

I hardly wear make-up, never use heels or iron clothes, and prefer to be in comfortable clothes or better, PJ’s!  (which is actually a bit unusually in Chile, PJ’s are for in bed)

I have suffered my whole life from migraines.  They can be a low grade pain for 3 days or severe pain for 3 hours, or the more common headache followed by repeated, day long vomiting. I am always changing my diet and watching what I eat to try and reduce the severity and number of attacks.  (At the moment no MSG and alcohol, which is no fun, I like junk food!)  Not drinking seems to be making the biggest difference, (not that I drank much before), but I am not getting as sick.

Migraine’s shape so much of who I am, from not being able to eat certain foods to worrying about missing special occasions because that is when I always get sick.  I am starting to understand them more now, knowing that stress and lack of sleep are big triggers, and learning to anticipate them.  Luckily I have a very understanding husband who takes over when I “crash” and usually knows when they are coming, telling me to calm down and relax.

I have two beautiful daughters, aged 7 and 15.  The younger likes to do crafty stuff with me, the older one likes to watch TV marathons with me.

Let’see what else?  I am kind of specific about how and where the laundry gets hung, (my family loves to tease me about this), and I love to see laundry on the line.

I cry very easily; sad stories, the news, Disney films, some commercials…

I have a tattoo of a lizard, well it was.  Now it looks like a gila monster.

Oh, and I love wool, and spinning, and felting, and weaving, and everything related to fibre!  But then I guess everyone already knows that.