Monday, June 30, 2008

Update on Weekend Snapshot (thanks for the Help with image transfer)

My weekend snapshot post is below this one but I wanted to go ahead and thank everyone who commented on my WS post for your tips on how to get photographs from my new cell phone to my computer. I managed to do it with bluetooth. The first photograph in this post is one I took with my regular camera some time ago and I'm posting it for the sake of comparison with one I took with my cell phone camera. I don't think my phone camera will be up to the job of landscapes.I picked the shot above because it was taken close to the same spot as where I took the one on my cell phone and it was taken around the same time of year. The most disappointing part of the cell shot was that there was this wonderful formation of ducks just on the edge of the tree reflections and you can't see them at all in the shot below.
The only reason I tried a shot with my cell phone camera since I didn't have my regular camera was to capture the interesting formation of the ducks. Maybe since they were in the line where the clouds were reflected they blended in.
The fall shot above is another from Shelley Lake taken with my regular camera. I don't think I ever posted this one on my blog. Below is one more cell phone shot. I guess the cell phone camera can handle an onion better that it can handle a lake.
I guess I can't complain since my cell phone camera was free as long as I stuck with my cell plan which I was going to do anyway. For the most part though I'll stick with using my canon powershot A610 unless I don't have it with me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 43

My cell phone company called recently to give me some options if I renewed my plan with them. One of those options was a free camera phone. I selected the phone which arrived a few days ago. After we walked Saturday morning, Bill put the SIM card which was in my old phone into the new one.
I was very disappointed to realize that I don't have a way to get photographs I take on the camera phone onto my computer except for taking a picture of them in the camera view finder with my regular camera. The rest of these shots were taken this week with my regular camera since I can't download shots from my camera phone.
The problem is I don't have internet access with my cell phone plan. Since I already pay for roadrunner which provides my high speed internet, AOL dial up as a back up for when my cable is down, a cell phone plan, and a land line phone plan, I can't see paying for internet access on my cell phone. So I guess that means I can't email my cell phone photos to myself which seems to be what the instructions assume I would do.When I looked online for accessories for my Nokia 2760, I couldn't find a small USB cord that would allow me to plug into my computer camera port. There is a very small USB slot on the camera phone but that's for headphones.
I suspect the answer lies in bluetooth technology. I assume my PC would be compliant with that and my camera phone does have blue tooth capability. However, for the life of me I can't figure out how to use that to my advantage. Therefore, for now, I don't see my new camera phone being of much more use to me than my old phone that didn't have a camera. So that's my weekend annoyance but I did have a pleasant walk on Saturday and I am finishing up my weekend in a fairly good mood in spite of feeling technology challenged.

I hope everyone has a great week. You can visit other WS posters via technorati
and on Monday participants post at the WS home.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Photohunt: Bright

My first thought when I saw that the photohunt theme this week was bright was - Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might . . . I even tried to photograph the stars in the sky at night but none of the photographs worked. Therefore, I took a picture of a June sky map on top of a star quilt which is on a bed in my house. The sun is something else which I associate with bright. As a matter of fact, you might want to put on your sunglasses for the next shot. I took the shot below this week of the sun breaking through the clouds.I also took a shot of the bright sun breaking through the oak canopy in my front yard.Another day this week, I shot the bright sun against a blue sky in my back yard.
I would not recommend photographing the bright sun without wearing sunglasses.

I hope that everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Garden yesterday and melanoma LND

Note - If anyone is here for wordless Wednesday, my post for that is at Carver Cards.The photographs in this post were all taken yesterday. The mockingbird youngster above totally cracked me up because he was making a sound like a baby crying. The adults will imitate cat sounds if a cat is near by, or make other ferocious sounds. The young ones can literally sounded like a baby calling for its mom or dad. On another subject, I've been thinking lately about a couple of issues relating to the practice of doing a complete lymph node dissection (LND) for melanoma patients who have a positive sentinel node (SN).
I have a lot of information on my sidebar about melanoma and a friend set up a site, Melanoma Resources, which has her links as well as mine and other patients. I was doing some searches and my blog kept coming up so this might be a good time for me to repeat that I don't have a medical background. Having my blog come up in searches for melanoma, and in particular for the LND, is a little scary. I'm fine with it when it brings melanoma patients who want to talk to other melanoma patients. People should feel free to email me, if they have questions or want support. I do think it's important to say that my perspective is as a patient not as someone who has a medical background since I don't have a medical background.
One issue I've been thinking about is how much information patients should be given prior to having an LND about possible side effects and about care which they may need. I know that I wasn't told about the possibility of lymphedema, loss of sensation in surgical area (inguinal groin nodes were removed as well as adductor and node of clouquet), nerve pain, and in a minority of patients ongoing chronic pain. In the U.S. there doesn't seem to be a standard in terms of what patients are told. I can see an argument in favor of different ways of handling pre-surgery information. You don't want to scare someone about side effects they may not have but then again I think it can help to be prepared. I know it took a while for me to get physical therapy, lymphedema massage, and other care my insurance covered where some people are automatically told that they will need that. I am not criticizing my care. I did receive the help I needed and compared to some patients whose stories I've read or who I've emailed with, my melanoma clinic and other doctors were very supportive.However, after three years of researching melanoma and finding handbooks like the one Roswell Park has online, which include tips on lymphedema prevention, and covers other subjects that would have helped me, I often feel like all cancer patients should have access to information like that. It didn't occur to me to go online and research those types of issues prior to my surgery and most of the information that would have helped me wasn't found until it was too late. However, on the flip side, when melanoma patients find my blog and get in touch with me to say that they are getting ready to have a groin LND and their doctors haven't told them about any of the possible side effects, I worry about them being unnecessarily frightened about problems they may never have. I try to steer people to sources which mention possible side effects but are also clear that not everyone has these side effects following surgery and the ones with permanent side effects are often in the minority, depending on the issue.
Some loss of sensation is certainly common following a groin LND, but widespread chronic pain like I have only affects a minority of patients. Lymph backup above the knee is very common following the groin dissection but permanent lyphedema that can back up in the foot is less so. Short term nerve pain is common but permanent neuropathy is less so with the surgery alone. It also depends on which basin has the lymphectomy. I do think that a concise standardized handbook which all patients have access to prior to surgery would be immensely helpful. It could spell out how many patients are statistically likely to encounter various side effects and there could be a standard protocol for follow up care.The other issue I've considered is the practice of doing a complete LND if the SNB is positive. In the U.S. there have been studies into this issue and I notice that there is an ongoing study which is looking into whether to do the LND when the SNB is positive or to have observation and not do that surgery unless the patient recurs. The LND wasn't presented to me as optional when my SN was positive, and it is standard of care at this point in the U.S. to do a complete dissection in that situation. Therefore, I don't have a problem with the fact that I was told I needed to have an LND. However, there are patients who go to doctors that don't advise the LND and suggest observation instead. I can see the argument both ways. One issue I feel like gets missed at times is that when a patient like me has a complete LND following a positive SN and doesn't have any further nodes with melanoma, that doesn't mean that some of those nodes didn't have a small amount of melanoma that would only show up with the special and expensive testing they do on the SN. The point is that it wasn't necessarily an unnecessary surgery because there could have been a very small amount of melanoma is some of those nodes but once they are all out it's not necessary to do the types of tests they do on the SN. They do look at them under a microscope and gain some prognostic information based on how many nodes have macroscopic amounts or microscopic amounts of melanoma. Clinically involved nodes carry a somewhat worse prognosis then macro nodes and macro is worse than micro. However, some of the nodes if left alone and not removed surgically, may have had a minute amount of melanoma or even a few cells that were cancerous. Therefore, the argument that it's a waste to have removed them just because they are negative for the tests which are done on a big batch of nodes isn't accurate, from what I've read.
I certainly have ended up with a long post without saying much that I haven't said before in some shape or form. It has been some time since I've had a post like this. I started this blog to deal with my melanoma diagnosis and issues following surgery as well as a few recurrence scares. Now that I'm 3 years out without a recurrence, my blog is more about my photographs, garden, and life in general. That is good but every now and then I start thinking more about the cancer crap and I thought I'd get some of it down here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 42

I was happy to get the opportunity to spend time with Deanna, who blogs at Dee's Updates, this weekend. She lives in Oregon but was on the east coast for meetings this week and it worked out for her to come to NC after her meetings in DC. I asked her if it was ok for me to use some shots I took of her for my weekend snapshot. Most of my friends and family don't blog and I'm never sure about using photographs of them (except for my daughter), so it's nice to be able to post some of a fellow blogger.
The weather was cooler than our worse heat wave a week or so ago but still quite humid. We did manage to go on some walks on the trails near my house which was good because I definitely need to keep walking, and Deanna was able to see some of the places she's seen in photographs on my blog.Yesterday afternoon we went to the farmer's market. The shot above is in the part where they sell baked goods, candy, and local crafts. Deanna was able to pick up some things for her son's birthday party which is coming up. I enjoyed getting to spend time with Deanna.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Photohunt: Water

When I saw that the photohunt theme this week was water, I couldn't resist posting a few more shots from my vacation on the North Carolina (USA) coast.I love the ocean and have been fortunate to be able to spend time at the beach my entire life. I am only a 3 1/2 hour drive from the beach I went to this year, and live even closer to other spots on the coast. I love how the color of the ocean varies by time of day and also has variations by depth and other factors.
As beautiful as salt water is, there is nothing like soaking rains after a long drought. The shot below was taken from my bedroom door as I watched the rain in May pool and puddle on the deck and knew my 32 gallon containers were all getting full under the gutters.
The reservoir which supplies my city's drinking water reached 100 percent capacity by the end of spring this year which was great news. Considering our unseasonably hot weather in June, we were very lucky to get so much rain from March through May and have had a few showers in June.
The last shot is the water droplets on one of my roses. I hope that everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flying with the Kite, vacation, exercise log

I don't think I've ever seen a kite boarder before my recent vacation. Looked like so much fun to be flying with the kite. I remember thinking sail boarding looked like fun when it came out, and at the time it seemed very novel. I guess kite boarding is the latest thing now. Then again, I'm so behind the times it may have been around a long time and I missed it.
I took the second photo from inside looking out the large window. My sisters are the pair on the beach and my brother in law is on the porch. It was much cooler at the beach than it's been at home but it was hot enough so that it was nice to be able to sit inside some and still have a good view for photo ops.
I took the picture above while I was on a walk. The group of seagulls were so much fun to watch. Hard to know what they were doing in their little group. The stayed just past the dunes but too far from the ocean to be on the lookout for fish. It was almost like they were hanging out having a chat. One would fly in and join them, then another would fly off.
I have never been to the beach and done so little walking. The pier in the photo above is what I used to consider my short walk and I didn't even make it to that pier. I am continuing to keep the exercise log I started 103 days ago and I have gotten some kind of exercise 66 of those days but most of it was when I was walking every day. First I over did the gardening which slowed me down and then the heat came in like fire.
I am not going to let myself get discouraged. For one thing, at this point I've gained so much weight that if I don't at least hold my own I'll make a less than optimal situation worse. I had brunch with a friend yesterday and we're going to try to start walking together early in the morning at least once a week. Every little bit help and if I can walk with her once a week and if Bill and I can walk some together on the weekends, I'll only need to motivate myself a couple of other days to do something on my own.
I have barely scratched the surface of the photographs I took during my vacation but I'm sure I'll be scattering them through upcoming posts for a while.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 41

I got home from a vacation at the the beach this afternoon. I haven't sorted through my photographs yet but here is one shot for now. To find other WS participants you browse technorati here: and on Monday you can browse to see who has posted at the home of WS here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Off I go into the wild blue yonder

If any weekend snapshot participants are looking for my WS post, that is below this one. I am going to be away for the better part of this week and I won't have computer access for most of the time. I am looking forward to it and hopefully will return with photographs from the coastline of NC which will be a change of pace from my home photographs in the piedmont.The tiger lilies above may be amongst the few that bloom this year in my garden. The unbelievable heat is beginning to leave a scorched look to everything. I've been taking so many photographs that I'll have a lot to post even if my garden ends up barren from the record breaking unseasonable heat. My father told me that they called tiger lilies: ditch lilies, when he was a child. The reason was they sprung up in the ditches along the side of the road. I've had them pop up places I didn't plant them too.
It's much cooler on the coast where I'm heading so that will be a bonus. If I were a bird I'd be heading to somewhere cooler. They seem to be doing ok and I've put extra water containers out for them. It's supposed to rain while I'm gone and I sure hope it does. Although there are people who will be looking out for my house, I don't feel comfortable asking them to water because I don't use any automatic irrigation or even hoses anymore. We pulled out of our drought but with this heat unless we get regular rain this summer, it could quickly become a problem again. I collect rain water and water with a watering can. If my tomato, cucumber, squash, basil, and many flowering plants don't survive my vacation there's always the farmer's market.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 40

The big news where I live is the heat. I'm not going to complain; after all I live in an air conditioned house and have air conditioning in my car so I know it could be worse. I will say that after pleasantly chilly weather in late May, we have had record breaking heat in June. In the space of a few days the temperature rose by 40 degrees. It has been this hot before in July or August but I don't remember it ever being this hot in June. Therefore, it was a good weekend to play inside. I have a ton of art supplies left over from various times I've felt like playing as well as ones I have left over from when my daughter was growing up. I need to start pitching some of the old ones I'll never use like the markers with heart and star tips. Great for children but a little silly for a 50 year old with no children at home.
Dee who blogs at Dee's Updates mentioned how she was coloring in a mandala while she was in the waiting room before receiving her radiation treatments for metastatic breast cancer. You can see her mandala on her post here . She mentioned how coloring was bringing down her blood pressure. I thought coloring in the waiting room was such a great idea and mentioned how I could use some coloring therapy myself. Jeanne who blogs at The Assertive Cancer Patient also liked the coloring idea. Dee told us that a person who designs mandalas has a website at Maiah Creations . You can see some of her elaborate designs there. She also has a free download as part of her Mandala of the month (MOM) and explains how you can participate. I'm putting a copy of the blank MOM below so you so see what I used as a starting point.
The MOM is a basic design but you can create more designs within the lines which is what I did. The one I'm showing below is my first try and I'll be doing others because it's so much fun.As a matter of fact, I had so much fun I decided to design my own blank that I could color in. My design below isn't a mandala by any stretch of the imagination. When I was reading about them on the web, one site said that they represent wholeness and can be seen as the model for the organizational structure of life itself - from "Mandela: Journey to the Center" by Bailey Cunningham. My design might be seen as disorganization at the Carver level. First I'll show you the blank design I came up with.

Next I'll show you what happened once I started coloring it in. I didn't even stay within the circle, I got so carried away. In case you haven't figured this out about me yet, I am able to draw and color at a kindergarten level quite well. I am free and uninhibited and don't have any trouble letting my inner child out. As a matter of fact sometimes it would be good if my inner adult could get a chance to develop.
I always find it easy to do programs like the Artist Way which in part help you to get in touch with the childlike freedom and creativity which is so often submerged as we become adults. I don't have any trouble getting on the floor and playing. I even keep a big jar of bubbles by my door so I can go outside and blow bubbles when the fancy strikes me. However, I have trouble taking creative pursuits to the next level and developing the patience to work on a craft. When I was coloring in the Mandala, I grabbed a book to use to bear down on without even looking at the book I selected. After I finished my Mandala and lifted it off the book, I realized I had been using the Michelangelo book to bear down on. Talk about being brought down to earth with a big thump.
Fortunately my watercolor and charcoal pencils didn't go through to the art book. For the mandala I used all of the supplies in the first photo with water to dip the watercolors in. For, Carver Playing in a Circle I just used the markers and charcoal pencils. Does that mean my works qualify for mixed media?

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On Monday participants post links at the home of WS where you can find out how to participate here - Weekend Snapshot