I had no idea how much I had been emotionally and energetically paralyzed for at least two weeks prior to the commencement of my radiation treatments. I thought I was fine. Coping. Stoic. Strong. Un-fazed. Calm. Ha! What denial to be thinking all that when I was sleeping more than 12 hours a day, eating or not eating, feeling crabby and ignoring daily routines: what is known professionally as dysthymia.
My DH, however, was a trouper: patient, kind and valiant in his attempts to cheer me up and keep me entertained. One of his first efforts was lunch at THE DECK in Salisbury, MA., across from Newbury port. I didn't think all that much of the meal, but I loved when the sea gulls came, sat on the umbrellas and flustered several other guests.
Last weekend we ventured toward Ipswich and Essex; touted as the North Shore's best area for antiquing and browsing. The weather was even better than a New England promotional firm could advertise. Cool, sunny and clear. Our GPS valiantly led us down less-than-familiar roads. As we sailed through a Y intersection, I spied a used book store and announced it to DH, who was uncharacteristically flexible, turned around and pulled in. Broken-In Books in Rowley (Hwy 1 at 133) is a little gem. The manager, Victoria Roberts (whose name I remember because it duplicates the name of a fabulous artist and illustrator), admitted that she does the book selection. I bet she knows her regular customers well.
There was an eclectic smattering of current best sellers (and not just the big publishers big promotional items like B&N). There was a smart selection of back list titles: Not just fiction, but cooking, politics, science, and biography. DH found a pristine doorstop edition of Stephen King's Insomnia. I got new copy of Ransom Riggs' Hollow City, the apparent sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
There used to be a consignment/junk store in the lower level of the same building. In spite of the closed sign, I rather liked the complimentary colors of lilies, ferns and ivy against the salmon-red of the siding.
White Elephant Outlet. On weekends apparently everything is half off. What I liked best was the elephant itself... but it's not for sale.
In Dallas the "antique" shops are definitely for a retail market: pots of pot pourri everywhere and real or faux Persian Carpets and dusted or dusty artificial flower arrangements on every side table.
The White Elephant was a glorious mess in comparison. I felt like a little kid trying to find the prize in a big box of Cracker Jacks. Plenty that was corny. Plenty that was nutty. And every once in a while something different that was just fun.
There were appliances from the '50's and '60's. An accordion... which no one could say whether it worked or not.
Pressed glass. Tea cups from China and faux Italian pottery, also made in China.
A huge abstract brown and yellow painting almost didn't register as being of a cat-- and I'm a cat fancier. I did form an instant (but insufficient) bond with a heavy iron cat... which would make a better doorstop than even the Stephen King tomb.
And then there was a second painting of a lounging fellow with a newspaper. I think it was probably by the same artist as the cat. I didn't see a signature or date on either painting. I wonder whether the artist was a hobbyist whose attic was cleared after his/her death... and what he would think of the prices. I'd rather sell my paintings while alive... but developing a recognizable style and commanding more than the canvas would cost would be an achievement!
And then last week I had the first 3 of my 30 required radiation doses.
I can't believe how much livelier, active and relieved I feel. (Although they tell me I may experience fatigue in a week or two.)
I'm sleeping a more reasonable amount, eating regular and sensibly (for me), less crabby and more ambitious.
First I pulled weeds in the road side planting area and persuaded DH to bag them for the transfer center. On his own he tamed the weeds which had taken over our raised bed. We bought landscape cloth and a half dozen bags of bulbs to plant for next Spring. And mulch to keep them hidden from squirrels and happy under the snow which will come sooner than seems possible.
After a late sleep and heavenly time rocking on the porch we headed to one of the upscale Boston suburbs where we had heard there was a high-end wine, liquor and imported food store that happens to have the same name as one we liked in Dallas: Marty's. Turns out that they are not related (and Marty's Fine Food and Wine in Dallas has gone out of business. They could have been twins based on the merchandise, helpful employees and display aesthetics.
DH found a couple of wines he thought were worth trying. I am stilll surprised that I didn'g succomb to any of the exotic imports. Fat Toad Farm?!! And dreamy sounding flavors: Cinnamon! Salted Bourbon! Cold Brew Coffee! Vanilla Bean! and Spicy Dark Chocolate!!
Taza Chocolate is a local importer with it's own store... It's made in Somerville, MA. But look at those flavors! (And you can tour their factory for only $6.00) Hmmm. (There were also dozens of Swiss, Italian and domestic "name brands" of chocolate as well as South American ones that were new to me.
You couldn't pay me enough to buy picled okra... but I do like tomolives and watermelon Rind.
What I found out about Haddon House is that it a privately owned distributor based in New Jersey of "major specialty brands within the ethnic, natural and organic, gourmet, kosher, frozen, and the dairy and deli categories." AND, they're having their annual "food show" in nearby Connecticut the week after next. So if your local market doesn't carry Tomolives or Tahini, they could call Haddon House.
I was surprised to discover how many New England diners and restaurants stock hot sauce on their tables. Texas seems to prefer Tobasco (made in Louisiana) or the Green Pepper Cholula, made in Chapala, Guadalajara, Mexico. They must have amazing salespeople because they are the "official" hot sauce of Denny's, On the Border, California Pizza Kitchen, Boston Market and Qdoba. Up here it's the "original" red or Frank's. Frank's has as loyal a following as the Bruins and Red Sox. This may be due to the fact that it is a key ingredient in the official sauce for "Buffalo Wings." Even though Frank's sounds like the "homiest" brand, it is now owned by Durkee, a subsidiary of Reckitt Benckiser, a "multinational consumer goods company" headquartered in Slough, Berkshire, England!! The sauce itself is made in Springfield, Missouri.
Bottled olive oil with "stuff" in it doesn't always appeal to me, but I thought these were beautiful. Maybe on homemade artisan bread with a little red pepper and fresh grated Parmesan mixed in? Benissimo is another product with strange "parentage." It is manufactured in Georgia by Honger Farms, a 400+ year old company that began in Austria, although it seems to be 100% American now.
Remember Virginia Dare? (Alleged first child born to English settlers in a colony on the island of Roanoke, off the South Carolina coast. The colony later became more famous for disappearing before it's Governor could return from a mandatory voyage to London. -- Beginning in 1835, Garret and Company used her name to represent purity and wholesomeness. When the prohibition era began they had to quit making the wine they were most famous for and switched to making flavorings and extracts. That business outpaced the wine business and was incorporated under the Virginia Dare name. Obviously they Anise Oil and Anise Extract special enough to be stocked in this store. Might have to go there before my Holiday Baking Bonanza!
Might also have to see if I can find clear plastic clam shell containers to box up my own pizzelles. Oh, and make some with almond or lemon flavoring! The Biscotti Brothers are based in Western Pennsylvania.
Finally, just to prove to myself that I had rescued myself from near anhedonia (the inability to take pleasure in pleasurable things) and CAN enjoy things, I stopped in the middle of the road to take this photograph of a riotous garden full of blooming perennials. Actually, I took several dozen photographs, but either my phone or computer gobbled them up. You'd have loved the line of sentry sunflowers just to the left of these galliardas and petunias! If it is sunny tomorrow, I'll take my REAL camera there tomorrow and share some other beauty I found on my way home from radiologist!
Wishing you good health, good moods, good sleep and happiness.