Sunday, September 30, 2007

Well, I must say it's good to be back here in Blogland. I've missed you guys, though I have peaked in on occasion to see some lovely new Campanulas completed! I apologize for my prolonged absence, but it's been a heck of a ride here at casa MezzoDiva for the last three weeks.

First of all. I recovered very nicely, after the 2007 Weekend to End Breast Cancer, thank you! I was extremely stiff and sore for a couple of days, then I visited my friend Julie and she helped me do some assisted stretching (you can go further and therefore deeper with someone providing a little active resistance) and the next day I had a terrific massage (also with Julie - she's a R.M.T and she's great! If you're in the GTA, call her and book one and you'll know what I mean: 416-781-9355). After that I was pretty much okay.

I finally lost that one toenail. It stayed on for almost two weeks, long enough for the blistered skin underneath it to heal completely, then one day when I cleaned it and changed the bandaid it just popped right off. There's this cute little toenail-shaped area of bare skin where it was, soft normal skin and just a little tender. I am told the nail will now start to grow back. The wierdest thing is that I am wearing this fabulously navy blue nail polish, and now there's one blatantly bare toe. Maybe I should have gone with a subtler pedicure after the walk, but I was feeling powerful and that bold inky blue just spoke to me right then and I am wearing my bare toe with pride!

At the end of the following week (for those of you who don't follow the Jewish calendar) we began to celebrate the High Holidays: Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the holiest days in the Jewish Year, and that had me hopping busy with preparations and my synagogue gig (professional chamber choir). Sorry, but I just have to digress here and offer one of my favourite (albeit lame) jokes:
According to the Jewish Calendar, this year is 5768.
According to the Chinese calendar, this year is 4705.
That means for 1,063 years we went without Chinese Food.
Those were known as the Dark Ages.
In the following days I had to start catching up with everything that slid off my to-do list in the late summer. Confession: I would blame it on the WEBC, and it's true that I was rather pre-occuppied with that as it loomed closer, but to be honest things are always a bit lax around here in late summer. Maybe I never out grew the back-to-school anticipation, but I always slack off a bit in August (and that's what August is supposed to be like, isn't it?).

And though I didn't come down with that threatening chest cold right after the walk, I have a real nasty one now (sinus & chest) - I've been coughing up a lung for six days and my throat is so torn up I can't sing a note (as you might have guessed by now, the MezzoDiva moniker is for real - it's what I do - so this is not a trivial thing). Happily, I finally feel like I will be getting better from today on. Well, I should be vocally safe by mid-week, at least. I really hope so because I have an important rehearsal on Thursday and I'd like to get some practising in before then.

How sick was I? Well, let's just say that ALL the knitting I attempted in the last week, including a couple of things begun before I got sick, has now been reviewed, appropriately ridiculed and frogged. I even finally received my own long-awaited and coveted Ravelry invitation (!) and all I could manage was to log in and lurk apathetically for about five minutes.

So I have no knitting news to report and nothing to show off to you here. But I'm back!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The fight continues: 60 more in 2008

Congratulations! You did it! WOW! You stepped up and out on the street and made a real difference in the fight to end breast cancer. You were an invaluable part of the family of 5,521 participants who raised $17.3 million to support breast cancer research, clinical enhancements and continuation of the Survivorship program at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer was a huge success for the fifth year in a row - thanks to dedicated people just like you. On behalf of the doctors, researchers, Board of Directors and other staff of Princess Margaret Hospital and The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research, we deeply appreciate YOU for making The Weekend such a spectacular success. Because you committed to supporting breast cancer research, thousands of women and men throughout Toronto and Ontario will directly benefit from advancements like the rapid diagnosis pilot program, interoperative radiation clinical trial, the Breast Cancer Survivorship program and leading edge research done at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at PMH lead by Dr. Tak Mak and his research team.

Of course, the fight does not end here. The funds our participants have helped raise over the last five years are phenomenal, but cancer is not a five-year problem. Research and cancer breakthroughs take time and money to support and realize The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation has long term goals that require long term funding so we hope you've signed up to keep fighting cancer in 2008! If you have friends who'd like to join you, please invite them to come on out for this amazing journey.

For a limited time, everyone can register for just $25. Make next year the next leg of this wonderful tradition in our community. Tell your friends and family to register for The 2008 Weekend to End Breast Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital!

Congratulations and thank you so very much for your important contribution to this record-breaking walk! You've made our community very proud.

Visit here for the news release about The Weekend.

Paul Alofs
President & CEO
Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DH posted at I Think: It is time to put aside a few minutes to remember the innocents who were executed on this day in 2001 for the crime of being American, without trial or evidence or representation by counsel. My condolences to the families and friends of these victims, and to the world that has suffered the ongoing consequences of these crimes against humanity.

I couldn't say it any better.

At 5:30 am on Sunday, on my way to Day Two of the recent WEBC, I had the most amazing conversation with a cab driver. He asked me what all these people were doing and why and I explained to him that we were raising money and awareness to combat this scourge that is cancer. We discussed the Weekend and the PMH foundation and recent/imminent breakthroughs in research and treatment. We discussed the sad state of the world, the ubiquitous wars official and unofficial, and our society's all too pervasive culture of impotence, the prevailing impression cultivated by our conglomerate driven economic-political machine, that as individuals most of us are unable to make a difference, so we might as well just slog along as cogs in the system and try to buy ourselves as much consumer-happiness as we can grab to soothe our frustration, but without rocking the boat too much, and please - leave the world-altering decisions and actions to the big boys.

The driver asked many questions about what I was doing and after I told him how deeply moved I was to be a part of this endeavour, how incredibly empowering it was to contribute in even my small way to making this world a better place, he responded in the most profoundly thoughtful, and uncannily appropriate way. He said: "What a world could we make if instead of violence and hatred, all that anger and passion could be channelled into healing and helpful directions, to curing diseases and feeding the hungry and consoling the desolate."

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
(16 December 1901 – 15 November 1978)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thank you for supporting me and the 2007 Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer. When the going got tough, your support kept me going.

This was an amazing experience! I am overwhelmed with emotion, spiritually soaring high and I really don't care that I hurt like hell, though I am hysterically amused by my attempts to climb 14 stairs to shower the previous two nights. DH threatened to video-cam my pathetic crawl up the stairs, but I said that if he did I would leave him - once I could move again.

Despite a brutal hill climb in High Park early on day one (staying there 2/3 of the way up was tempting, but not an option), minor heat stroke and sunburn (you know you’re too hot when the Gatorade actually tastes good!), and walking in the cold rain with a minor chest cold (got some hot herbal tea with honey from Starbucks en route), surprisingly few and minor blisters with potential imminent loss of one toenail (there's a blister under it), other body parts chaffing in places I cannot speak of, and every single muscle and joint aching and stiff with possible exception of one beside my right eyebrow… I am so incredibly glad that I did this I cannot describe the depth of my feelings.

I definitely did NOT do the whole 60km.

Some people do the whole 60km. Many people don't, and even experienced veterans of several previous years sometimes call a halt. I don't know precisely how far I went, but I estimate a total of about 45km. On day one I probably covered about 25km. We started with opening ceremonies shortly after dawn, leaving the CNE grounds by 7:15am. I was feeling pretty good until around 3:30pm I was overcome by extreme heat and my blood pressure was spiking (it crept up through the day, was up to 132/89 mid-day, 138/96 mid-afternoon…), so discretion being the better part of valour, I called it a day shortly before 4pm and got swept to the camp.

There are numerous bike patrols and sweep vans with crews that travel back and forth along the route cheering on the walkers and offering support and water refills and blister care, and if you need a break (or if you fall to far back at the end of either day), they will take you to the next pit-stop (or all the way to camp) where there are snacks and/or meals and water and Gatorade and toilets (incredibly good portables) as well as medical personnel, and all kinds of assistance and support.

On day two I probably did another 20km. I woke up around 4:30am with a cough and fighting a chest cold (but surprisingly limber after the first day, though tired). I suspect the extreme exertion of day one undermined my immunity, as I have noticed that in the past after some extreme bike rides or overdoing other workouts. Nevertheless, I was doing okay once I got warmed up and moving. I twisted my right knee mid-morning and went about another 5km unable to keep it in alignment, then I decided not to risk damaging it further and got swept about 2km to the lunch stop.

After lunch it was hard to get moving, but some bandages and stretching banished the blisters and stiffness and I started to feel pretty good. I actually surprised myself by almost finishing the last 14km, but I completely lost it at the last pit stop just south of the CN tower with 3km to go. I was suddenly unable to even cross about a one block distance to the refreshments tent to replenish my water bottle and I just sank onto the bench and wept. I got swept over to outside the Exhibition grounds and walked one last km in from the Princess Gates and through the closing site and the ceremonies.

The 2007 WEBC is over, but the fight continues.

This year, 5,521 walkers, the largest number in the event’s five year history, and several hundred wonderful volunteer crew and support people, participated AND raised more than $17.3 million for breast cancer research and care! The 6th annual Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital is already planned for Sept. 5-7, 2008.

I have already registered for The Weekend to End Breast Cancer 2008 AND I am starting a team: "Knitters for Knockers!" Everyone is welcome: knitters and crocheters, weavers and spinners, and even those who are not fibre-fanatical (though we can’t promise not to attempt to lure you over to the yarn side). As we train through the year, we’ll probably set up a flexible buddy system so that faster walkers can go at their pace and slower ones at theirs, but everybody will have someone with them throughout training and the walk for both company and safety. I'll definitely be planning some extended yarn-crawls… downtown like last time but then also to the beaches, etc.

60 more in 2008!!!
If you want to join us in 2008, let me know!
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
-- Anne Frank (12 June 1929 – early March 1945)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Day one is over. Please shoot me now.

Just crawled in the door fresh as day old fish.
Must now attempt to climb 14 stairs to shower.
Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow …

Vow that next house will have full bath on main floor.
Too tired to write more now.
Love to you all.

XO – MezzoDiva

P.S. I have already registered for NEXT year :0
And I am starting a team: Knitters for Knockers!
If you want to join us in 2008, let me know!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Campanula for the Cure KAL!

(Don't worry! It's still summer, at least here in the northern hemisphere. I just fudged the date on this post - it was the only way to keep it sticky at the top in Blogger for a couple of months. For more recent posts, please scroll down.)

In the interest of raising awareness for this foot-related fundraiser (a sock pattern to sponsor a 60-km walkathon to help conquer cancer), I’ve started a Campanula for the Cure KAL!
Click here
to be redirected to the post with details for the KAL about this sock pattern designed for the fight against cancer!

P.S. If you miss me here and you're wondering where I am this summer - please come visit the Campanula KAL. It's taking up a wee bit more of my time than expected. I hope to resume more regular knitting and blogging activities after Sept. 10th.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Walking my socks off!

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60-km walk is this weekend.

My training sucks lately. Really - I did a grand total of 15 miles in August. Ugh! That’s less than half of my mileage from way back in January, when we had snow and wind-chill feeling like -30C. But the extreme heat waves and humidity absolutely derailed my summer training plans. And in this last week we’re supposed to cut back and not do much. Hmmm... how do you cut back from zero?

I was really starting to panic about it last week, but after several days of growing apprehension, I examined the anxiety and realized it was simply fear of pain. Once I accepted the fact that I will experience some pain, probably during and definitely after the event, and that's okay, I will get through it, my anxiety level dropped significantly.

At least I can be happy that I covered well over 200 miles since mid-winter! I figure that I walked all day several days in a row when I was singing & traveling in Italy (1999) and I didn't train for all that walking. This can't be a lot worse.

Whatever happens to me this weekend, it's nothing compared to what hundreds of thousands of women face every year. And increasing numbers of men are being diagnosed with this disease as well. I am walking to show my solidarity with these men and women, to help raise awareness and to support the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.

So I am going for it. I'm just going to go and have fun sharing this experience with a few thousand like-minded persons. What's not to love?

I'll be in touch early next week - once I can move again.

P.S. If you will be in the GTA September 8-9, please come out to cheer me along the way. Though the location of Opening Ceremonies, Camp, and Closing Ceremonies will be announced well in advance of The Weekend to End Breast Cancer, the route will not be pre-announced. This is strictly a safety precaution as the route may have to change at the last minute due to traffic signal failures, broken water mains, or any other unforseen issues. Therefore, we do not announce the route.

There are however several cheering stations along the way where your friends and family can come and support you along the route of The Weekend to End Breast Cancer® benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital! Tell them to bring their BIG signs, smiling faces and happy cheers to the following sites:

DAY ONE: Saturday, September 8, 2007
Lambton Park: 9 am - 12 pm
4100 Dundas Street West. Street parking.

Rosethorn Junior School: 11 am - 2 pm
2 Remington Drive, SW corner at Rathburn Road.

Elm Park: 1 - 5 pm
SW corner of King and Elm Streets. Street parking.

CAMP: 4:30 pm - Downsview Park, 75 Carl Hall Road.

DAY TWO: Sunday, September 9, 2007
John Ross Robertson Elementary School: 9:30 - 11:30 am
130 Glengrove Avenue West, NE corner at Rosewell Ave.

Nesbitt Park: 12 - 3 pm
just south of Bayview Avenue. Street parking.

CLOSING CEREMONIES: Halls A & B, Direct Energy Centre Exhibition Grounds 4:30 pm
The ceremonies start at 4:30 pm, but feel free to come cheer the Walkers at anytime between 1:30 pm and 4 pm.

Note: These locations may change without notice if the route changes due to last minute detours.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The plot thickens...

Posted by: "Noreens Knit*che"
Mon Sep 3, 2007 6:29 am (PST)
"Ramona Carmelly" Spun a FINE Yarn in the below message:
Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2007 7:58 AM
Subject: New Sock Pattern to help Conquer Cancer!
Ramona, Today IS Ad day, so don't worry, you're not being yelled at, however, in the future, please remember to prefix your subject with AD: Thanks, Noreen, List-Mom... who is going over to have a peek as soon as the coffee's done...

This (above) is the only reference I have ever made to Ramona's posting, and wonder who is playing games, posting in my name and supposedly visiting blogs. I've been away on our first vacation in four years (since DH's cancer, no less!) and was not even online August 31, Sept. 1, or Sept. 2. Evidently someone, perhaps cyber gremlins, is having fun at my expense. Ramona, I agree with your cause, I only mentioned ONCE, back in JULY about 'ad' day, (see above), and although it wasn't me who flamed you, I apologize for the little houligans who think this is fun and funny... Noreen

THANKS, NOREEN! And to everyone for being supportive, too! I appreciate all the kind words.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Patience is a Virtue. Forgiveness is Divine.

As posted to the Continental Knitters Yahoo Group:

Please accept my apology for posting this without the requisite AD preface. If anyone was truly offended, I am very sorry.

In my defense:

1. This was not a deliberate flouting of the rules. I was in the act of placing the "AD" preface (as well as another modification I wanted in the body of the message), but as I was composing the title, I pressed the "Enter" key instead of "Shift" key and the message was sent before I could complete editing.

2. I immediately attempted to retrieve the posting, but it didn't show up on the group site for quite a long time after this occurred. I was going to delete it as soon as it showed up, but I simply couldn't wait around any longer at the time. Then, to be honest, I then went on with my busy life and forgot to follow up on this.

3. I was rather hoping for some understanding, especially given that I am doing a tremendous amount of work and incurring personal costs for absolutely no personal gain. At no time do I see any of the funds donated, it all goes directly to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. Furthermore I am providing a fun KAL and support to many knitters, as well as prizes which mostly come out of my own pocket. So please note, I am not soliciting customers for personal profit, but rather seeking like-minded knitters who want to join me and the 175 members of this KAL in knitting a lovely sock AND fighting cancer.

4. In fact, while I was composing this apology, I received another message from Noreen, to the effect that the group is STILL waiting for my apology. I received the first notice at 4:12pm, and this second notification at 4:27pm. I find this degree of impatience somewhat disturbing. If I hadn't happened to be both at my computer and online at the time, my IMMEDIATE apology might have come hours later, and still have been an immediate response.

Nevertheless, I had no desire to flout the rules of the group and therefore I sincerely apologize for that misdemeanor on my part.

Knitterly Regards,
Ramona Carmelly -aka- MezzoDiva the Operatic Knitaholic
designer & moderator: Campanula for the Cure KAL

From: Noreen's [mailto:noreply-comment@...]
Sent: September 2, 2007 4:12 PM
To: ramona.carmelly@...
Subject: [Sock it to me!] New comment
Noreen's has left a new comment on your post "Campanula for the Cure KAL!":

Ramona, your posting of same in the continental knitters yahell group was totally uncalled for, esp. inthat you blatantly disregarded the extremely simple rule of posting said as it obviously is, and AD or ADVERT.
The group is waiting for an apology.
The YarnWright

From: Noreen's [mailto:noreply-comment@...]
Sent: September 2, 2007 4:23 PM
To: mezzodiva@...
Subject: [CAMPANULA for the CURE knit-along]
Noreen's has left a new comment on your post "Welcome to our Campanula for the Cure KAL":

Continental Knitters yahellgroup is still waiting for your apology,
The YarnWright