Things are Looking Up

Well, I have to clarify that. I still don’t dare look up unless I am holding on to something (or someone) steady. But for the most part, the vertigo is gone, the shingles on my forehead have dried, the new, improved, speedier brand of acyclovir is doing its job without any side effects. My eyelid is no longer swollen shut in the morning, and best of all, I can read the screen without glasses! (Yes, my print is bigger than yours, no doubt.)

I’ve also been able to start on the new book, the sequel to my MS book. I’ve opened a page for it on Facebook, and I’ve created and printed out its cover at CreateSpace, and have begun the actual drafting at The hardest part is always getting started. This one is not opening with a prologue of tears; rather, it opens with a brief note about having written the first with the help of readers at FanStory. That will probably change as I get farther into the timeline of the melanoma diagnosis and treatment. But for now, it got me started. Saying thank you is always a nice way to start. I’ve deliberately set a deadline of the end of July for this book; I have two other ‘books in progress’ that will wait until I’ve finished this one.

I have more than one iron in the fire right now. Rick and I have been meeting with a few other artists (have I already told you this? I apologize if this is repetitive … I truly have no short term memory cells still functioning up there.) I’ll look back and delete this if I have. But this small group of artists are meeting to strategize and brainstorm together about marketing what we produce. We’ve met twice now, and are planning to meet again next week. Our homework this week was circled on our mind maps, and Rick’s was to continue trying to engage more customers in different venues. To that end, we signed on with Constant Contact which is reputed to facilitate regular newsletters to a broad email audience. Silly me, I thought they were going to help us by providing the broad email audience. I dutifully worked within one of their templates, formatting and importing some of our item photos, adding text that was informative and interesting, joining hyperlinks to fit their template, and changes colors where I could, and getting frustrated where I could not. After about four hours, I had a pretty decent newsletter (which I might have constructed on my own, quicker and easier, without their template restrictions.) But what iced the cake in terms of aggravation was, there was no email list to be shared: we had to create our own! Not wanting to further impose on the many people Rick had already emailed earlier this week, before we encountered Constant Contact, I developed a brief email list of friends that I thought might still be friends despite two email newsletters in a week. If we stay with Constant Contact beyond the thirty day free trial period, it will cost us an amount of money each month that may exceed what we actually recoup in sales. So that iron will be coming out of the fire soon enough, and we’ll stick with our own hyper-link-less newsletters, on a semi-monthly schedule, and call that venue addressed.

And my third iron in the fire, of course, is my granddaughter’s off-to-college quilt. I started this week working with the pattern she chose last month, and have decided that what she and I saw in the book can be altered a bit to fit my skills and her personality. So I have an idea in mind, but am not ready to share it here yet …  I’ll make up a few squares and see how it works together. Her graduation is in a few weeks, but the quilt is for college, and college is in September; I’m on track for that.

After fussing and fuming my way through the email newsletter template today, we had a call from a fabric company that deals with Bernina repairs (we had gone to their store in Portsmouth, NH last week looking for a new needle threader for my machine.) They said the part was in … they said it was actually in last week when we were there, but the person looking for it was looking in the wrong place, or for one more specific to my machine than it needed to be. So hearing that it was there, we told her we would be up in an hour or so. She said she would let the two women working the counter, because she would be gone. Rick thought the drive and getting the part would ease some of the tension that the newsletter had built in my shoulders, so off we went. The holiday weekend traffic hadn’t built yet, so the drive was easy (though expensive: four dollars going through the Hampton tolls twice.)tollbooth

The women working in the shop were in a bit of a dither when we got there, as the computer was giving them trouble. We waited patiently while they worked to get another customer registered into a class. One finally looked up and asked if we needed help – and then began to look for the part we had come to buy. I told her of the phone conversation just an hour before, but she had no information from the one who’d left … nor did her partner, who was clearly frustrated and feeling helpless with the computer. She couldn’t find the part, and was looking in all the same places where she’d looked last week. I told her that the other woman said it was a universal part, not a machine-specific part. She began looking in other places. She then went back to the computer to help her partner-in-despair, then went back to looking in more places. She said “Would you like us to mail it to you?”  I looked at Rick, he reminded me that it was a holiday weekend and would take extra time, and we’d already paid the toll twice for two trips to the store … $8.00 in all, so I said we could wait until she helped the other customer with the class.  It was only a few minutes before they made a decision to bypass the computer and enter the customer by hand. It was only a few minutes more before she looked in the right place and found the part I wanted. As I wrote the check, the class customer finished and left the store. She began to enter the check and purchase into the computer, and told me that if I registered as a regular customer with them, I would get emails about their special offers, and the computer would keep track of my purchases and I would earn a gift card after $200. in sales. So I gave her my email, telephone number etc., and Rick went out to get my machine to make sure the part fit. It did, and we headed out the door ~ just as the skies opened and emptied the clouds of sheer sheets of rain. We were soaked when we reached Abby (our vehicle … black and hearse-like, and named for the NCIS character.)

It’s been a pretty productive day (minus the quilt … I’ll focus on that tomorrow.) I’m sitting here typing this page for all of you (and for me, too, because if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it. No short-term memory cells.) Just wanted to let you know that I’m better, and things are looking up! Now if I just knew whether this burst of energy at 11:00 pm is due to the medications I’ve been taking?

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  1. Marcia

    Another quilter with shingles. Did you have an injury just before you broke out? I thought the vision problem was the cataract as mine are over my heart and around my left side including my arm, to the shoulder blade

    • No injury … I’ve had shingles on my forehead about 15 to 20 times in the past 30 to 35 years, beginning, I think, when I was thirty. Stress is usually my precursor. That, and exposure to kids every year with chickenpox (I was a teacher.) Doctors say people with shingles are not contagious to other people, but they also tell us to stay away from pregnant women in their first trimester, and from young children who have chickenpox, as they may be contagious to me. So I’m not sure who to believe. And when I went to Dana Farber for a Malignant Melanoma consult, the oncologist (who, like me, also had MS) said he doesn’t think it could be shingles that often and that mild, and was more likely a cold sore herpes simplex. My cataract began about ten years after the first bout of shingles. And yes, I am a quilter, too.

      • Marcia

        I thought I had poison ivy as I had been outside helping the lawn man clear some brush and he pointed out that I had poison ivy growing up one tree. So for 3 days I scrubbed it like it was poison ivy. My case is very mild from the stories I hear. I do not have MS but did have a cancerous polyp in the colon. Am already on gabapenten for restless leg syndrome. I do have stress what with 5 businesses, but I think it was Rick’s death, I found him dead on the floor–it will be 2 years this July– and the fact that I never greived over him because his family would not come to the funeral and I had to do everything. But it could be the loss of a tooth that I had been fighting with for 8 years.

  2. Hello Marcia, and thanks for stopping here and sharing your story. I’m sorry for the loss of your Rick … Shingles can be mistaken for so many things, especially when it appears in a less-than-common place. What was poison ivy on my forearm became melanoma years later; please have a dermatologist check yours. You might want to click the header at the top of this page and read my page about melanoma and other skin cancers. Wishing you well.

    • Marcia Chambers

      You should have a colonoscopy too. Lining of the colon same derivation of cells as skin.


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