Friday, November 30, 2007

Photo Hunter: Red

The Photohunter theme this week is red. I decided to feature my sunburst guitar which was harder than I thought it would be because it was like a mirror.I kind of like the way it not only reflected me taking its picture but it also captured my acoustic guitar. What I didn't like was that it wasn't true to the guitar's color when it had a reflection inside of it. I finally figured out that the best place to photograph my sunburst guitar was in the bathroom.Even in the bathroom it still has a little bit of a reflection, but not so much as when I photographed it in natural light in my living room.There is almost no reflection when I photographed the front of the guitar in my bathroom. It occurred to me that what I should do for this post is to paint the town red. I fear that even if I still had it in me to paint the town red, I wouldn't want to document myself doing it.

You can find other Saturday photohunters at the links below. I probably won't be able to visit until the end of the weekend because I have a house guest. I'm also not sure if I'll get to my computer to post the mine is up on TNchick's site, but I'll visit when I can. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Off Kilter

I woke up early this morning feeling off kilter. In case you're wondering, my greenhouse isn't actually sliding down a slope. When I snapped the photograph, I was trying to get the rose at the angle I wanted and didn't think about what that would do to the background. Since I am feeling off kilter, I thought this was an appropriate photograph. I got my first colonoscopy done yesterday. It went well. I had three polyps removed and sent off to a pathology lab but the doctor said they looked like they were benign and that at most one might be pre-cancerous. That didn't bother me since the whole purpose of a screening colonoscopy is to remove polyps before they become cancerous. I won't get the results for 7 to 10 days but I'm not expecting any problems.What has thrown me off kilter was the doctor's attitude. I am trying not to read too much into it and as it turns out I don't think it will affect my getting adequate testing. When we were discussing my history prior to the test, I wanted to make sure that he knew that I was a stage III melanoma survivor. He said, aren't you here for a routine screening. I said yes. He said, I'm not looking for anything like that (referring to melanoma). I felt like saying, well I hope if you see it, you don't look the other way and what's the point of making me feel like a dodo bird when I'm trying to give you information for valid reasons. The reason I wanted him to know about my melanoma history is because colon polyps can be metastatic melanoma, although that is rare. From what I've read colon polyps which are melanaoma tend to be amelanotic meaning they are colorless and can masquerade as benign polyps. I want to say right off the bat, I do not think I have metastatic melanoma in my colon. That's not the problem.I've read that it is important for doctors who do a regular colonoscopy screenings to know about a history of melanoma; so they will be sure to biopsy all polyps because sometimes patients will be asymptomatic, and the melanoma will not look like a cancerous polyp. I have also read that melanoma metastasis to the colon, may not be as rare as was previously thought because often it is not found until autopsy. The reason being that the patient is asymptomatic for the colon issues and the polyps didn't show up on scans. Even so it is relatively rare and the risk benefit ratio would not call for all melanoma patients, regardless of age and symptoms to receive a colonoscopy. I was not getting one because I was a melanoma patient. I got it because I was 50 and my gynecologist said I should get one for routine screening, when I had my physical this year. However, since I was getting one, it was valid for me to want the doctor doing the test to know about my history.
Even though there was a complete history in my file, I could tell by our question answer session that he hadn't looked at my file. I get that. I understand these doctors doing God knows how many of these screenings per day don't sit down and read a thick file cover to cover. However, I would feel better at one level if I thought that it was on his radar, with someone like me, that polyps should be removed and biopsied, keeping in mind the off chance of melanoma. The only question mark in my mind is if the lab would automatically use the stains which would show metastatic melanoma, even if they don't know the patient has a history of melanoma. I don't have a clue about that. What pisses me off is that I end up needlessly worrying when I'm actually not worried at one level. At the risk of being repetitious, I do not think these polyps are metastatic melanoma. All I want to know is that the laboratory doing the pathology will know to do the kind of microscopic examination with the appropriate stains to rule out metastatic melanoma, then I wouldn't worry at all.For all I know the lab would automatically do those tests. The article I read wasn't discussing the lab so much as they were discussing the need for the doctor performing the colonoscopy to be aware that ordinary benign looking polyps should be sent to the lab, keeping in mind the off chance of melanoma, if the patient has a history of melanoma. My polyps were removed and sent of to a lab. I don't think they are anything but what the doctor said they were. All I need to stop worrying is to be assured the pathologist will run the necessary tests and for all I know they will. I do resent being brushed off during the question answer session with the doctor. I didn't tell him about anything I've read. I didn't spend a lot of his time. All I said was, I have a history of node positive melanoma and he said, I'm not going to be looking for anything like that. This is a routine age screening for the big 50, isn't it? Well screw you. No I didn't say well screw you. I didn't say much of anything because shortly after that I was unconscious.When he came back to talk to me in post op, I was way too off kilter to say much of anything. I was relieved to hear that all he found were 3 benign looking polyps with at most one being pre-cancerous. I was also relieved that all three were going to be reviewed at a pathology lab. It wasn't until much later that I started letting my brain go in circles about whether they would do the tests which would rule out melanoma. That's all I need to know to put it straight out of my head. There's nothing I can do about the GI doctor's people skills. I don't even care about that since people skills aren't necessary when I'm only seeing someone pre-op and post-op for a screening test. The first part of my concerns has been taken care of. He did remove the polyps he found and sent them off to a lab. Hopefully, the lab will run all the tests which should be run. I've thought a lot about something a wise blogger said in a comment on my blog. She said that anxiety can replace intuition. That has helped me more than I can say. I'm not aware of being anxious at one level but I do have a little voice that won't shut up and I'm starting to see that little voice as being anxiety as much as it is intuition. I find that reassuring in an odd way. In some ways I'm less anxious at my age than I was when I was younger. However, I do think that the chronic conditions I have had since my lymph node dissection have thrown my intuition out of whack. I can not go by how I feel so it does make me extra sensitive and yes anxious to be sure that the objective tools are adequately utilized. Lord knows I have enough doctors. I could do with a few less doctors. I think my doctors are all competent professionals and do their best. Even the hurried GI one, who wasn't interested in my history, was no doubt competent and doing his best. Oh well, as usual it's a waiting game.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekend Snapshot: Number 12

The Friday after Thanksgiving is know in the U.S. as black Friday. That is the day that traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping in the U.S. and the hope of the retailers is that they will sell lots of products and be in the black as opposed to in the red.If there is one day of the year that I never go shopping it is the day after Thanksgiving. However, I did snap a photograph of the entrance to a mixed use shopping center near me, earlier this week, when I was driving home from an appointment. You may notice the wreathes on the entrance posts, marking the Christmas shopping season. This shopping center was the first mall in my town and as bigger malls were built and the one that was located here became dated, they switched over to a pedestrian shopping center as well as including town houses and a hotel. It was rather bizarre when they tore down the old mall but what they ended up with is pretty nice. I have been tempted by the townhouses they built across from the main part of the shopping center. They were selling them at a very low price to get people in at first and they are attractive with balconies for potted plants. Some older neighbors sold their house near me, and moved into one of the town houses. They told me it was great having a health club, restaurants, and shopping area all right where they lived. The older I get the more appealing that is. It's even near one of the green way trails so someone like me wouldn't lose the near by walking paths but it would be at a different starting place.I am not into rushing the Christmas season but I kind of like the peace banners in the second photograph, which another smaller shopping center has on their lamp posts. If I can possibly avoid it, I don't set foot in any large malls during late November and December but there are a lot of small shopping areas which don't have the crowds the malls do.
I also prefer grocery shopping in a small market but it is too expensive for me to do all my shopping there. If I am getting a few things, I will go to a small market near my house and I always enjoy looking at the orchids they have to tempt me on the way in. I don't buy the orchids but I generally stop and look at them. I find the older I get the less I can tolerate the crowds in terms of shopping. It's odd too because when I was in NYC for my birthday a few weeks ago, the city crowds didn't bother me at all. Perhaps it's because I wasn't driving or looking for a parking space. Also, we didn't go shopping so I wasn't dealing with crowded stores. I don't mind being around a lot of people but there's something about the harried, Christmas shopping or even crowds in large suburban grocery chains that get on my nerves. I prefer to stick to the small markets and small shopping centers whenever possible. I also remember a visit when I stayed with my sister in her Manhattan apartment and we went to the neighborhood market to pick something up, and that's really my kind of store. The neighborhood stores they tend to have in large cities, that you walk to, are similar in some ways to the small stores near my neighborhood that I like. For that matter, if I lived in one of the townhouses in the renovated mixed use shopping center, I would have a lot of the advantages of living in a city neighborhood.
The biggest advantage would be to be able to walk to most of the places I needed to go. I could take the elevator down from my townhouse and walk right into one of my favorite brunch places. I could walk across the parking lot and I'd be at a fairly small grocery store. Once they get the pedestrian bridge finished across the main road, I could walk across a bridge and I'd be at the entrance to a department store and a few steps more to the movies. Sounds like I'm ready to put my house on the market and snatch up a town house. However, if you look at the picture above, that's what the oak trees in my front yard look like at the moment. They were late changing this year, although the other trees changed early. I could never put my house on the market while I have that to greet me in the morning. So it won't be happening tomorrow.

To find other participants you can go to the home of Weekend Snapshot or on Technorati at

Friday, November 23, 2007

Photo Hunt: Hot

The photohunt theme today is hot. I celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday with a good hot meal for dinner, with Bill who cooked a wonderful feast. I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday had a happy one. For that matter I hope everyone had a happy Thursday whether or not Thanksgiving is a holiday where they are from. I am featuring the hot sun at the beach for my post. The photograph below was taken during the summer at a North Carolina beach on a hot day. If you look on the right hand side of the picture, you will note someone walking in the ocean to cool off their feet after walking on the hot sand. On the left hand side of the picture you will note a sensible bunch under an umbrella to protect their skin from the hot sun.The picture above was taken in Key West, FL. One of the beautiful times to be outside in Key West is when you can watch the hot sun fall into the ocean. I love the ocean at the beach as well as the sand beneath my toes. I don't hide from the sun but I also think there are sensible precautions which can be taken when I am out in the hot sun. I am going to put the links to other photohunters here: - is the home of the hunt, and you can also find other participants on Technorati -

Please feel free to skip the rest of this post if you so desire. I totally understand and that's why I put the photohunt links above as well as at the bottom of this post. I get pretty serious for the remainder of this hot post and discuss a serious cancer, melanoma, which has links to the hot sun in some cases. I debated about including the rest of this post but since I am including information about sensible precautions people can take when enjoying the hot sun, I thought some of the photohunters might be interested. Excessive exposure to the hot sun is a contributory factor, in some cases, to people getting melanoma. You can click on the underlined part of the text to go to my source, if you want additional information.

Melanoma occurs when something goes awry in the melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) that give color to your skin. Just what damages DNA in skin cells a
nd how this leads to melanoma is a matter of intense study. Cancer is a complex disease that often results from a combination of factors, including environmental and genetic factors, rather than from a single cause. Still, excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a leading factor in the development of melanoma, whether the radiation is from the sun or from tanning lamps and beds.

Some people get melanoma from other causes besides the hot sun.
UV light doesn't cause all melanomas, especially those that occur in places on your body that d
on't receive exposure to sunlight. This indicates that other factors may contribute to your risk of melanoma.

Some other factors which may contribute to melanoma include: atypical mole syndrome, family history of melanoma, weakened immune system, rare genetic disorder.

Some basic precautions you can take in the hot sun include protective clothing, sunscreen, going inside during the hottest time of the day. To find out about some steps you can take to lower your risk of getting melanoma go here. Also, be sure to report any changes in cutaneous and subcutaneous lesions (moles, bumps, lumps, etc.), or new ones, to your doctor. I have stage III melanoma which means that my melanoma spread to a regional site. In my case I had a cutaneous primary which spread to a node in the closest major draining lymph node basin. I have been NED (no evidence of disease) since my groin lymph node dissection. I don't know if the hot sun was a factor in my getting melanoma. I have never been to a tanning salon and my primary melanoma was on a part of my body which was rarely exposed to the sun. However, I have gotten to know a lot of people with melanoma who spent time in tanning salons and got many sun burns. They are typical of the type of history which would lead you to think the UV rays were a leading factor in their melanoma.The good news is that if melanoma is caught early, most people have an excellent prognosis. It is still necessary to have regular follow-up but the sooner a melanoma is caught the better the chances that the person will not have a recurrence. The bad news is that when it is not caught early, the chances of it spreading are higher. Once melanoma start spreading, it can go pretty much anywhere and in some cases cause death. I had a deep melanoma primary and, as I said, it had spread to a node. The good news with me is the longer I go without a recurrence, the better my prognosis becomes. In March of 2008, I will have been NED for 3 years. I look forward to celebrating 3 years without a recurrence, in less than four months. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that it has been that long because I've had some scares, funky scans, funky blood work, and lingering side effects. However, I am enormously thankful that it is beginning to look much better for me in terms of the chances that I'm done with active cancer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Late bloomers, onging foliage

I think this has been one of the more interesting falls in terms of the variety of flowers blooming and leaves changing at various times. I took the photograph above today and was shocked that the rose ended up opening into a perfect bloom. When the bud formed we were having consecutive evenings with the lows below freezing and I was sure that it would not make it to a mature bloom.The second photograph was the bud which I thought would turn brown and drop off but instead it cooperated and form a perfect blossom. There is still so much fall foliage I almost need sunglasses when I look at the trees. I looked back at photographs from last year and I'm correct in thinking that some of the fall leaves are several weeks later this year than last year. The oaks are still changing while last year they were almost finished and dropping off by this time. However, the dogwoods, maples and other earlier fall leaves where I live, changed ahead of time this year and have lingered longer.I know the drought and rain have both been factors. Although the rain we've had this fall hasn't been enough to end the drought, it has been a factor in the signals the plants have received. The roses which didn't do well this summer got a nice burst of energy from the rain, as did gerber daisies. I think it may have also slowed down the leaves which hadn't changed yet, to get some rain. I'm happy that we'll have a rainy thanksgiving. Rain, snow, sleet, at this point I don't care what we get as long as we keep adding to the reservoir which supplies my city's water supply.
I took the photograph above a few days ago in my back yard. The mix of roses and outrageous fall colors create a riotous mix on the landscape. I love the sheer audacity of so much going on in the garden and on the horizon with the trees both in my yard and in my neighbor's yard.I took some photographs around the block from my house of the trees which I see at the top of the landscape behind my trees, but which I don't see full out from my house because they are on the other side of the neighbor's house from me. For that matter, my secret garden has a privacy hedge which keeps me from seeing very much of the houses behind me, which I like. I would rather see my neighbor's trees and houses when I'm walking but have the privacy in my back garden.
With the U.S. thanksgiving day right around the corner, I have to say that besides family and friends, I am most thankful for living somewhere with a lot of trees. I love trees and need lots of them in my life. I like trees during all the seasons. The bare winter trees with their interesting structures are very appealing to me. The spring trees with buds that are pregnant with life hold such promise. Summer shade trees and then the riot of color in the fall are very nourishing to me.In some ways my neighborhood is very boring with 3 or 4 standard style house plans all built in 1968. There's the split level plan, the one story ones, the one story with garage, a few two stories and some houses which have been added on to. In general the architecture is monotonous and not very interesting. Fortunately, the tree lined streets make up for a lot in my book. We have some fabulous trees and birds and walking paths that lead to a lake and along creeks. I'm thankful for that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend Snapshot: Number 11

Bill and I went on a walk around the lake near my house yesterday (Saturday) and it was a cool, beautiful day. I was surprised to spot a dog swimming in the lake because it would have been too cold for me to do that, but I don't wear a fur coat all the time either.
It was cold enough to keep it from being crowded at the lake, as it sometimes is on a pretty Saturday. Perfect weather for me since I prefer to walk when it's cool enough for a jacket and the air is crisp. The jogger on the other side of the lake, when I took the picture below, must have been moving at a decent pace because she lapped us at least once. I did stop along the way to take a few photographs but other than that we were walking reasonably fast.I always love to spot a blue heron on the lake and I was glad I had my camera. I wish I could have shot the photograph on the other side for a better exposure. The blue heron almost looks white in this photograph, because of the lighting. The reflection of the heron shows it's coloring better which I find odd. I'm sure those who are stronger on the technical side than I am, could explain why the heron's reflection would come closer to it's actual coloration. One of these days I hope to capture a shot of the blue heron's wing span because it's quite remarkable, to me at least, up close.
I hope everyone has a great week. To learn more about WS, or to find other participants you can go to - weekend snapshot. Post day is Monday but some like me post early. You can also go to the following Technorati tag to find other participants -

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Foodblog Challenge - A vegetarian Feast

If you are here for my photohunt post, that is below this one. This is my first food post and is part of a foodblog challenge my daughter is doing.
Those of you who read my blog will be aware that I'm not a foodblogger. As a matter of fact I don't think that I've ever blogged about food before. I'm also not a vegetarian but I have been at various times in my life. I mention that because you don't have to be a vegetarian to take up the challenge. You only have to post about a dish that doesn't have meat in it and the theme is fall/Thanksgiving. The rules are included on Shortcut to Mushrooms: A Vegetarian Feast. That blog happens to be my daughter's blog. She's a relatively new food blogger and the only problem with her blog is that it makes me wish she was close enough to share some of the delicacies that she prepares. I am amazed that she finds the time to cook such lovely dishes, being a law student with a very full schedule. If you follow the link above it goes directly to the challenge post, but you can click on the title banner across the very top of her blog to go to her current posts. She should be posting her dish soon, if she has time, because the idea was to post early enough so she can do a roundup prior to Thanksgiving (when it's celebrated in the U.S.).One of the problems with my participating in the foodblog challenge is I'm a little bit of this and a little bit of that kind of cook. Therefore, I rarely follow a recipe. I'll call this Carver's Cognac almond apples. A word to the wise, if you go heavy with the cognac you might want to serve this as desert with vanilla ice cream on top. Normally if I'm preparing apples for people that have an issue with skin, I briefly boil the apples and slip off the skin. With that method I use some of the juice the apples where boiled in when I bake them and that works well. I've never used cognac before but it worked. However, I recommend that you put a little over a 1/4 cup of water in a bowl and mix with a little less than a 1/4 cup of cognac. I poured cognac over each layer and didn't use water until it started cooking and boy howdy. I could tell from the fragrance that I better add some water which I did. It worked out but with as much brandy as I used, it either needed more brown sugar or to put ice cream on top. It was good but a little strong. My instructions will be how to make it without it being too strong.I sliced the apples with skins on because that's how I like them and it's easy but if you don't like skins, use method outlined above. If they are pre-boiled and skin slipped off you won't need to bake it as long. I greased the dish with a vegetable oil spread but you can use butter or margarine. I sliced the apples and layered them with almonds, a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar. I also used a little lemon juice on the apples but I don't think it needed it with the cognac. It was fine but not necessary. I poured cognac over each layer but I recommend putting some cognac into the juice and then pouring over the top. With three layers like I had, you need about a 1/2 cup of liquid. On the very top layer, I put pats of the vegetable oil spread (or butter would be good).I baked it in a 350 oven for thirty minutes and it was quite tasty. With as much cognac as I used, I think it would be best as a dessert with ice cream on top. However, if you want it as a side dish with the meal, go light with the cognac. It does add to the flavor but with too much it's rather extreme. I had a 1/2 bottle of cognac left over from last Christmas and I used almost all of it. Waste of good cognac and too much which is why I watered it down after it started cooking. My cooking experiments usually work out well but I think a light hand is best when using something with a strong flavor like brandy has. I temporarily forgot that. The good part was I caught it in time and watered it down while it was still cooking.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Photohunters: I love _____(fill in the blank)

The photohunters prompt this week is - I love ____(fill in the blank). For the purpose of the photohunt I'm going to go with: I love Autumn.
I love the Autumn berries and I love the Autumn trees.
I love Autumn walks around the lake that make me forget my knees.
I love the cardinal in Autumn who is singing a lovely song.
I love puffy clouds in Autumn with rain we've waited for so long.I love summer flowers in Autumn that forget winter is coming fast.
I love Autumn leaves of color that drop when their time is past.
Saturday is the official photohunt day. You can find out more about photohunters at:

or find other photohunters on technorati at: