The Shortest Vacation (in Photographs) & Buckets of Bliss (Of the Wedding and Spring Flower Variety)

And so we have returned to our tiny, humble abode, after a fleeting yet immensely-packed weekend of driving to-and-fro Sacramento and San Francisco.

An important thing to do upon returning home: Walk by the flower shop and find two of my favorite things! Anemones and mini gerber daisies to brighten our neglected apartment.

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And they smell as lovely as they look!

Floral diversion complete. Resuming the news from this weekend.

WOW. What a weekend it was! My beyond beauteous friend, Clare, married her best friend, Michael at the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Cathedral (the old one) in San Francisco. I was honored to be a bridesmaid and had the absolute best time being there in support of her. It was, of course, quite a struggle physically, and I unfortunately could not participate in every single event. Such is life when your Crohn’s Disease is out of control and unmanageable. (Let’s not forget, however, that my first Remicade infusion is on Friday).

It is positively official that I could not be more elated for Clare and Michael. There are couples out there that just give you a certain feeling. That feeling of: God, you’ve proven yet again that You know what You’re doing. This couple is meant to be. And it’s awesome.

The wedding was breath-taking, and I had such fun being with the other bridesmaids and Clare’s family. And Adam did too! He hung with the girls all weekend and served as our bag-carrier, valet, and concierge. (You had to be there). And he was always good for a laugh. What an angel that man is.

As much as I am dying to share photos of the wedding, I think I will wait for the professionals. (Fun fact, the photographer was the same one who shot Adam’s and my wedding. He and his wife are just the dearest people and we had a blast seeing them again. Anyone need a fantastic Orthodox wedding photographer? I’ve got a referral for you.)

It was also an especially enchanting trip because it was Adam’s first to San Francisco! (Which just so happens to be basically my favorite city.) He was blown away by both cathedrals (particularly the new one, of course, with Saint John the Wonderworker’s relics). But that part was a given! We knew he’d love all the Orthodox activities. But you know what else? He dug the city. He really did. In his words: “I have to admit, San Francisco is a pretty cool place.” Says the Montana country boy! Love love love it.

Saturday night, before the wedding, we stayed at The Chateau Tivoli Bed & Breakfast, which is an absolutely stunning (albeit, somewhat creepy) old Victorian mansion in the heart of San Francisco, just a couple blocks from the Old Cathedral. Gee whiz, this place was nifty. Adam and I stayed in the Isadora Duncan room. We were on top of the world with excitement. It was our first stay in an exciting new place since our honeymoon! We took some Clue-esque photographs and laughed an awful lot. (Being married is so much fun.)

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It was hard to see an end to the wedding festivities. It meant leaving San Francisco, saying goodbye to new friends, and saying goodbye to my dearest Clare. But alas, the reception was over and it was time to go….
….to my parent’s house outside of Sacramento!

It was such a quick “hi and goodbye” kind of a visit, but even that is better than nothing. We just barely got to spend time with my little sister, Teresa, and my dad. And we spent only slightly more time than that with my mom. But it was a merry and welcomed visit, nonetheless.

Here is a short summary of our visit, in photos.

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My mom is growing some stunning roses.

And it was so good to be back with Teresa’s charming and hilarious goats.

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And the cats.

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And especially my mom.

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And I gotta say, there’s still something so magical and surreal about having Adam in California.

And last but not least, let’s not ignore my dad’s shenanigans and his rebellious (and conscious) choice to proudly hang the California Republic flag, without an American flag.

I will never stop appreciating my family’s eccentricity.

Adam and I are now back in Washington with our beloved kitty who seems to truly be as overjoyed to see us as we are to see him.

No matter how short and how enchanting a trip is, it always always always feels good to come home.

How Daylight Enlightens Me and MR-enterographies Enlighten Doctors About What’s Inside Me

Hello Reader.
With the exception of yesterday’s stormy weather here in Bellingham, these past several days have been as sunny and enchanting as anyone could ask for in early March.


And what does that do for our moods, you ask? Well, it makes us extra adventurous, of course. (Bear in mind, “adventurous” to Adam and me might probably have a different definition from yours. We are not bungee-jumpers in this household.)

Instead, we do things like try to suck every last bit of daylight out of the sky when Adam gets home from work. I think we still are recovering from living in Alaska (or at least I am, anyway) where daylight was scarce and sometimes literally non-existent.

Monday morning was my MR-enterography. It was very trying on my body and my mind. I spent the rest of the day recuperating, but when Adam got home, we decided it was high time that we saw some sun and got inspired by something.

And so, we loaded up Juvenaly in the car and embarked on one of our favorite activities: discovering cute old neighborhoods and oggling the houses and deciding which one we want to live in.

But before that, photo-shoot on the parking garage, yes?

Look at Juvenaly’s big rabbit feet. It kills me.

A quick intermission of boring stuff:
I’m still waiting on confirmation from my doctor, but it appears now that I have four strictures in my intestines instead of three. That there is some fierce scar tissue. Clearly this is not pleasing news, but we’ll know more after the rest of my procedures this month.

Also, I got another migraine. (And subsequently a chance to try out my new migraine meds. Result: Inconclusive and frustrating.)

Symptoms started Tuesday evening but I naively did not think it was going to turn into a migraine. I’m still learning about this migraine game. By the quite-early hours of Wednesday morning, I was desperately fumbling in the dark for the migraine pills. I was still essentially incapacitated until about 1:30pm or so, but it was definitely not the worst migraine I’ve had. It eventually turned into more of a dull pain, so I decided “Why not? Of course I should go to Pre-Sanctified Liturgy tonight at church.”

We were about halfway there (20 minutes into the drive) when I realized that I had perhaps made a terrible mistake. By the time Liturgy started, the pain was so bad and so debilitating; I don’t even know how to explain how I felt. A deep concern that I would be carted out of there in an ambulance? I was really scared, honestly.

(Have I mentioned lately that Adam is a saint for taking care of me?)

The point of all this: Who the heck knew that migraines existed. I mean, of course everyone knows what a migraine is and that people get them. But I had no understanding and no appreciation for what a migraine was until I started getting them myself. How is it that this is a thing for people? When it comes to my weakling body, migraines feel like the entire right side of my brain and neck are simply shattering. Completely breaking down. It’s terrifying and surreal. Using the charming term my mom suggested: I have now decided to be prayer warrior for every sick person and migraine-ridden person in the world. Just let me know, and I will wage a prayer war for you.

Intermission over and back to fun stuff.
Adam and I also spent a lovely Saturday afternoon browsing our local bookstore, Michael’s Books. It’s one of those huge used bookstores that looks like a tornado hit the place and that every book is a precarious domino that is about to cause the entire store to come falling to the ground.

That’s a tad exaggerated. But Adam and I love the place. They also have boxes and boxes of free books that sit outside the store everyday. That’s right; I said free.

We scored with these lovelies.

All but the top book were freebies. They have an endless supply of freebies, it seems, so we don’t feel too bad about leaving with five!

We don’t really know what A Touch of Danger is yet, but Adam insisted on it.

I’ve wanted to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog for a while now, so when I found it at Michael’s for cheap, it was a no-brainer-purchase. I’m about a third of the way through. It’s translated from the French, so it’s written kind of oddly. But in an amazing way. The language is so bizarre, so thoughtful, so whimsical, and often an enigma.

The story itself is incredibly cynical right now, and it’s all about social classes (which isn’t my favorite topic, but it’s French so I can forgive it. heh heh…). But I happen to know from a very good source (my librarian-mother who knows exactly what kind of books I like) that I will love this book. So I’m excited to see where it goes. I do enjoy it already.

So, to end this post in a way that it seems many bloggers do, I will leave you with this:

Currently Reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, also Jane Eyre (gosh darnit, I love it so much it hurts), and reading out loud to Adam as a bedtime story: Coraline (a favorite of mine, and I’m telling you, Adam suggested that I read it to him. I didn’t force it!)

Currently Listening to: a heck of a lot of Sharon Van Etten (click name for a great song!) and Frightened Rabbit (click name for another great song!)

Currently Watching: Let’s just say I am now obsessed with the film, The Hours. Let’s be real, this is probably going to get its own blog post, so I’ll leave it for now.
Also, Adam and I are still making our way through the Wes Anderson films (I only have 2 left to show him!), and the Hayao Miyazaki films. More on that later!

Happy Thursday! Many blessings to all.

Sick Days, and Other Things I Grudgingly Write About

Hello dear ones,
Today I write as a form of discipline rather than pleasure. This has been a rough week (as many are), but it’s been seriously preventing me from finding much pleasure in my daily life. For that reason, I haven’t written much. But in reality, I feel it might be most important for me to write in these circumstances.

I have mentioned that I have Crohn’s Disease on this here blog, but I have not yet written much about it. I frankly do not like to talk about it, much less write about it. But here we are.

I am seeing multiple doctors right now; my main one is a gastroenterologist. With her, we are working through starting me on a new medication because my current one is not working and is in fact doing me (particularly my liver) more harm than good. I also get blood work done regularly, and I find myself suddenly under the orders of having even more procedures done and others things that I’ll write more about when the time comes.

I see my gastroenterologist tomorrow to further discuss the new medication. This one, Remicade, is one that I’ve tried to avoid from day one. It is quite an awful drug. It’s an infusion, so I’d have to go to the hospital every two months to have it given to me through an IV. I would be on very serious medical-watch because it can have many severe, sometimes fatal, side-effects.
But then again, the meds that I’m on right now have severe side-effects as well, which is why I have blood work regularly done. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am scared about this.

I saw my primary doctor yesterday. My gastroenterologist sent me back to her to deal with all of the excess “sick stuff” that I deal with due to my auto-immune disease. The main topic of this appointment was my chronic (daily) severe headaches, and my occasional, volatile migraines. We also spoke about many other issues, which, for the time being, I’d rather not delve into detail about.

Currently, I am taking an uncomfortable amount of drugs. Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve spent so much time trying to avoid drugs, and I now find myself taking more than I ever would have wanted. The fact of the matter is, I was getting nowhere without the western doctors. I was doing too much of my own scheming and planning and avoiding western drugs, but all the while my Crohn’s was worsening. Not to mention the fact that Crohn’s can have very critical repercussions if it goes untreated. Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, blood clots/strokes, bowel obstructions, fistulas, etc.

So in a sense, I’ve kind of surrendered and turned myself over to the doctors as of late. I’m still doing a lot of thinking, learning, and worrying, but even so, I am now far more apt to comply with doctor’s orders.

I am so sick of dealing with pain every day. I am so sick of hurting. I hate how it hurts and I cry and that Adam wants to fix it and he can’t. It makes me feel so selfish. I’m sick of how I never feel good and my moods show it. I wish I could be better for Adam. Pain and fatigue are my constant companions, and I fear they will never give me a moment’s rest until I am in remission. And I may just need Remicade to get there.

And really, I must admit to how much it hurts my pride to answer the question that I hear particularly often, since I live in a new place with new people: “So what do you do, Diana? … Do you work? … What do you do during the day?”

I used to try and dodge the question or make light of myself. I’d laugh and say “Not much!” or “I’m hoping to start working towards my degree again soon.” I got so sick of beating around the bush, and honestly, answering that way got so old, and I just felt embarrassed. Now, I don’t skip a beat with my answer. I’m brutally honest. I’ve come to the point where I tell people immediately: “I have Crohn’s Disease, and I don’t have it under control yet. Doctor appointments take up a lot of my time. And I really don’t have energy to do much right now.”

You know what they say: honesty is the best policy.

Well, there you have it. I haven’t gone in to much detail, but I have at the very least urged myself to write a brief summary of my current situation. It’s quite all right if you have a question for me, and I’d be more than happy to answer.

For now, I do my best to pray ceaselessly.

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Physician of souls and bodies, who
didst become man and suffer death on the Cross for our salvation, and
through thy tender love and compassion didst heal all manner of sickness
and affliction; do thou O Lord, visit me in my suffering, and grant me
grace and strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with
Christian patience and submission to thy will, trusting in thy loving
kindness and tender mercy. Bless, I pray thee, the means used for my
recovery, and those who administer them. I know O Lord, that I justly
deserve any punishment inflicted upon me for I have so often offended
thee and sinned against thee, in thought, word, and deed. Therefore, I
humbly pray thee, look upon my weakness, and deal not with me after my
sins, but according to the multitude of thy mercies. Have compassion on
me, and let mercy and justice meet; and deliver me from this sickness
and suffering I am undergoing. Grant that my sickness may be the means
of my true repentance and amendment of my life according to thy will,
that I may spend the rest of my days in thy love and fear: that my soul,
being helped by thy grace and sanctified by thy Holy Mysteries, may be
prepared for its passage to the Eternal Life, and there, in the company
of thy blessed Saints, may praise and glorify thee with thy Eternal
Father and Life-giving Spirit. Amen.

And I thank God for his holy, wonderworking saints, the unmercenary physicians, Saints Panteleimon, Cosmas, and Damian, and I ask them to pray to God for me and my soul and body.

Adam got me this icon of Saints Cosmas, Panteleimon, and Damian for Christmas. It is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. It is so beautiful, and it has helped me to feel closer to these three saints than ever before. Icons are also called “windows into Heaven.” Humans are visual creatures, and even though the saints are always with us, having an icon which was painted (“written” is what it’s actually called) in reverance depicting the saints helps us to realize how near they are. Standing in front of icons are truly like taking a peak into Heaven. Glory to God for all things!

Wishing you all a happy Tuesday. And a blessed Clean Week to my Orthodox friends!

Days of Quiet Typing, Pen-scratching, and Yelping in Pain, or “How Doughnuts Don’t Actually Solve All Your Problems”

Hello Readers and other figments of my imagination,

Today has been a day of pain, and for what seems like the first time in this relationship, it wasn’t even mine. (Well, I guess that’s kind of a lie because I still had my Crohns-y stomach pains this morning, and I still had my typical afternoon-headache.) But alas, my unexpecting poor husband is suffering a very unexpected pain.

This morning, Adam threw his back out. Oh gee whilickers, I’m sorry to say it’s true. He was getting ready for work and came out of the bathroom looking like an 80-year old man who slipped on a wintery ice patch. (Sorry for that morbid image. I sincerely hope said make-believe man is okay.)

My poor dear subsequently did not go to work today. “Adam, rest. You’ve hurt yourself, and you’ve been so busy, and you need a day of rest.” I thoroughly believe all of those things, but apparently Adam does not, because he has spent the whole day thus far writing his papers for the Saint Stephen’s Course. But I can’t fault him for that, because as of this morning he still had three papers to write and only one week to write them in. Oh well, at least he’s in the comforts of home.

And also the comforts of…doughnuts. Rocket Donuts, to be exact.
If you’ve ever been to Bellingham, then you must know of Rocket Donuts. At the very least, you’ve seen the giant Rocket at the corner of W. Holly and Bay.
If you’ve never been to Bellingham: let me tell you about Rocket Donuts. And you should know, there’s a giant rocket on the corner of W. Holly and Bay St.

As much as I wish it were so, I’m not going to pretend that Rocket Donuts makes the best doughnuts in the world, or that they are impressively inexpensive or anything like that. In reality, they are good doughnuts that are slightly over-priced. But you can’t argue with their marketing. The rocket theme is pretty darn exciting. And don’t get me wrong, the doughnuts taste pretty good too.

At any rate, after Adam got established at the dining room table this morning with his laptop and books to start a-writin’, I decided to put a smile on his face and dissolve his problems by getting him a Rocket Donut.

I threw on my Alaska sweatshirt and my green corduroy jacket with the “Bear Friend Society” patch I ironed on the pocket, and went on a walk for some doughnuts.

I snapped a photo of the famous rocket with my Instax. As you can see, it was a drizzly, overcast morning.

I got Adam a giant doughnut with white icing and multi-colored sprinkles, and I got myself a little red velvet doughnut with icing and pink drizzles. They really hit the spot.

But unfortunately, the doughnut did not actually solve Adam’s problems. He still consistently felt (and periodically yelped with) back pain, and still had many, many words to write. But I must say, he’s gotten quite a lot done and his spirits seem to be in the upwards direction. So job well done, sprinkled doughnut. And thanks to you too, Ibuprofen.

I got to enjoy my red-velvety delight with a mug of great English tea while I edited Adam’s papers. We’ve got a resident spelling/grammar adviser in this apartment. And it’s me.

But I think Juvenaly might try to claim that title for himself.

Feel free to please send your prayers Adam’s way. He really can’t be having back issues right now. (Though when is it ever convenient?) Also, it just hurts him a lot, and that makes me terribly sad.

In other news:

I got another “Letter In The Mail” today.

The Rumpus is a really wonderful website for writers and readers. They do reviews for great indie books, they do interviews with authors, they post comics, and a lot more too. But what I think is the coolest thing they do is this: Letters In The Mail. It was something I wanted to partake in for a while, and my dear husband subscribed me to it as a Christmas present! Basically, they get various authors to write letters to readers, and you get copies of said letters in the mail twice every month. I love it because A) letters from writers are inspiring, and B) it’s literally always fun to get something special in your mailbox.

I keep a nifty binder of all of mine.

Also, the Rumpus does Letters In The Mail for kids too! How sweet and cute is that?

Looks like the husband is awaking from his writing-coma. The evening is still young! What will be in store?

Happy Friday to all! Have a lovely weekend.