Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Never promised the roses wouldn't bite back

I've been taking more wide, landscape, type shots of my garden but I don't seem to be able to do as good of a job with them as I like. In part it's because my garden is a big old beautiful mess and the individual flowers look better. Part of it is my limitations as a photographer.I do think it's sort of funny how I practically have to climb through the roses to get from one section of my garden to the next, and I can tell you from experience that roses bite back.
It got me thinking about that line, I never promised you a rose garden. The idea of rose gardens as this calm, quiet, serene place is rather contrary to the plants which have rather sharp thorns.
Don't get me wrong. This time of year when I step out my back door, all I have to do is take a deep breath and I'm positively giddy with the lovely scent, and bowled over by the sights.
I even like that sweet smell of the meadow in the morning which is, in my garden's case, compost that's wet and strong; not the dung in cow pastures from which I think that phrase originates.I tried taking some shots of my garden standing on a ladder to get a wide view but I couldn't safely climb high enough and there is so much work I need to do that I wasn't happy with the photographs.I guess for now I'll stick with the small section shots and individual flowers. Hopefully, I'll get my garden in good enough shape to where I can get some better wide shots but I'm not counting on it. I'll probably keep climbing through the wilds and hope I don't get turned in to the garden police for my garden run amuck.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 34

Saturday morning I physically took a trip down memory lane, but first I'll begin with a shot of my newly transplanted tomato plants.Since it will be a long time before I have any tomatoes on my plants, I decided to check out a new open air farmer's market in a shopping center near me. Unlike the large state farmer's market I featured last weekend, this one is very small and the farmer's set up booths Saturday morning at 8:00 and leave at noon (or I think that's what it said).
These are hot house grown tomatoes from a small farm east of me. The one I ate Saturday night was delicious. After I left the market, I decided to go to my childhood stomping grounds since I haven't been by there in a long time and it's not far from the market at all.
I was pleased that the field of buttercups in the park down the street from where I grew up was in flower. I used to make long necklaces with the buttercups and I always enjoy seeing them this time of year. After I left the park, I drove up the street to the house I grew up in, and where my parents lived for 40 or so years. I have to admit that I almost didn't recognize the house because of the new landscaping but I really liked what the current owners had done with the front yard. The house itself from the front didn't look that different although I had heard from a family friend that a wing had been added to the back of the house.For comparison's sake, below is an old shot of the house from when I was a teenager, I believe. Although shot at a different angle, you can sort of see how the house is virtually the same from the front but the new landscape is much more involved.My last stop on my trek down memory lane was to the wrong side of the First Baptist Church. Just kidding but Bill used to joke, when people asked if we lived near my parents, that we lived on the wrong side of the First Baptist Church, but not as far as the wrong side of the railroad tracks. We did live very close to my parents, and were indeed on the other side of the big Baptist Church, before we bought the house I still live in. Bill and I met in the house below when it was two very small apartments. I was literally the girl next door. After we fell in love and married, our landlord let us knock a hole in the wall and turn it back into a single family house which is what it had been before it was a duplex. We lived there as neighbors from 1978 to 1980, and as a married couple until 1984. Kind of cool because we had two little kitchens during our early married years.
While I was snapping pictures of the house where Bill and I met, the woman who lives there came outside and asked if she could help me. I said no and explained that I met my husband there and told the story about how we were next door neighbors when the house was a duplex, and then got married in 1980, knocked a hole in the wall, and stayed there for our early married years. She insisted that I come inside and see the house and what it looks like now. It's perfect. It has been restored and improved and is a nice little house. I really like what has been done to it. So that was my Saturday morning trip down memory lane with some delicious tomatoes too.

Monday is the post day for Weekend Snapshot but I tend to post early.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ZOEY HAS Been Found

UPDATE - Zoey has been found, Woooohooooo

The host of photohunters, TNChick , is very worried (RELIEVED NOW THAT SHE's Found Zoey) about her beautiful beagle Zoey who is missing. Zoey was last seen somewhere around/near Franklin, KY. If you live near Franklin, KY please be on the lookout for Zoey. You can click on the badge below to contact TN Chick and let her know if you find or have seen Zoey.Thanks to Criz Lai for making this badge to help with the effort to alert people who might be in the area where Zoey was last seen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Photohunters: Unique/Funny signs

The photohunt theme this week is unique/funny signs. I'm afraid I don't have great examples. The first sign I will post may or may not be unique but I found it funny. For the longest time, I thought one of my neighbors had a very elaborate sign to sell their dog, and I assumed the dog's name was Tess. It wasn't until under contract was added to the sign that the dim bulb went off in my head and I thought, of course, it's a real estate agent. I still find it funny for a real estate agency to be named "My Dog Tess".
My next funny sign is not unique and at face value not funny but bear with me if you will. One of my favorite verses in the famous Woodie Guthrie song "This Land is Your Land" is the one that says: As I went walking I saw a sign there - and on that sign it said "no trespassing" - but on the other side it didn't say nothing, that side was made for you and me. Whenever I see a no trespassing or keep out sign, I'm reminded of Mr. Guthrie's song line and I start to laugh. I also fantasize about stepping over the border and if I'm confronted by angry property owners, assuming they don't shoot first, I could point to the blank side and say, but that side doesn't say nothing. So in my universe the sign below is funny. However, it would not be funny if someone shot me for crossing the line. I thought it was unique of Woodie Guthrie to think of how the other side didn't say nothing and to say that side was made for you and me. The sign at the Art Museum makes me laugh too. In spite of Woodie Guthrie's clever take on signs, we are after all used to a sign referring to what's behind it. Therefore, I find the sign below very funny. It looks like the art museum is actually supposed to be at the construction site and that the construction workers goofed and demolished the museum. I fear I have a rather warped, I mean unique sense of humor.
I'm looking forward to seeing what others have done with the theme. I'm sure you came up with better signs than me. Hope you all have a great weekend.

You can browse participants on technorati, including early posters -

Home of the hunt is here - note, Saturday is when participants post here -

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Temporary Header and doc stuff

Some of you may notice that I have a new header. It's temporary although I may go with a new variation in June when this one comes down. I wanted to go ahead and mention that the reason for my header is in one week Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness month begins. If you look under the header on the right, I have put up links to the American Dermatology Association site for the Awareness month and to a mole map you can print out as an aid in self skin checks. That site also has links to where people in the U.S. can get free skin cancer screening in May. Some places aren't on their list because I know that many universities and YMCA and other groups have free skin cancer screening in May so you might want to look out for that.
In googling I noticed that there are similar program in Europe and other parts of the world. Belgian has programs for melanoma monday (that's always the first Monday in May). I will be talking more about awareness in May which is appropriate in my part of the world because it falls right before and when so many people are thinking about getting a summer tan or going to the beach. I wanted to give anyone who reads my blog a heads up so they can be on the lookout for events in their area during May. I am a stage III melanoma patient which means that my melanoma spread to a regional site, in my case a lymph node. So far, I've been lucky. I go to regular oncology and dermatology check ups but it's been over three years without my having a recurrence. Whooohoo.
I got a call a day or so ago from the nurse who works with my rheumatologist. Turns out my vitamin D is in the low normal range based on my latest blood work so he's having me take another spiked dose of vitamin D and it will be checked again in 4 more weeks. Vitamin D is important but there are other ways besides sunning to get it. As a matter of fact my doctor said he's had patients who are out in the sun all the time that have a vitamin D deficiency. My D levels have been brought up with supplements from when it was below normal. Even when I try to get a little unprotected direct sun (15 minutes a day), it doesn't seem to help with the effort to bring up my D. Therefore, at this point I'm leaving it to the monitored supplements.
I was disappointed when the nurse called about the vitamin D that she didn't volunteer any information about the bone density scan. I gave her a chance to bring it up before mentioning that I picked up a copy of the results at their office when I went for the D and calcium blood work. When she didn't mention it, I told her I picked up the copy and noticed that I have osteopenia and that the report suggested I take medications which I'm not taking yet. She seemed baffled. After pulling the report she said, does Dr. ____ have your on medications for osteopenia? I said, no, this is my first bone density scan. The only thing he has me on are the D supplements.She said she'd talk to the doctor and call me back. I'm still waiting for that call. It's not a big deal. I'm already on vitamin D supplements which is important in regulating calcium levels. I started taking more calcium after reading the report saying I should have optimal calcium supplements (whatever that means). I am not eager to take the other medication that was suggested on the report. The report was written by the same doctor whose nurse didn't know if he wanted me to do anything new, based on the osteopenia. The point is it's not a matter of him not having his nurse call because he doesn't agree with the report, he wrote the report. Oh well, I guess I'll give them more time but it's been close to two months since I had that scan. The photographs in this post are all from my garden and were taken over the past few weeks. I guess that's it for this jumbled post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rainbows and Earth Day

Around sunset on Sunday, I had my curtains closed for the night and a thunder storm was winding down. I could still hear the thunder in the distance and the rain was still falling. I walked into my kitchen and the curtains had a bright gold glow showing through from outside. It was very eerie. I was afraid that the lightening had hit a tree and started a fire. It was that bright.I cautiously open the curtains and couldn't believe it when I saw the rainbow and the golden glow outside. I had to take the photographs from my kitchen doorway because it was still raining and there was too much risk to my camera if I went outside. It was so wild. Almost like the pot of gold from the end of the rainbow had been tossed to the sky and colored the world.
Today is Earth Day and I was pleased to notice in my local paper that the art museum as well as other community sites and organization had learning programs this weekend for children, related to the environment. The Nature Conservancy has some good programs and suggestions related to Earth Day which I liked. So do a lot of other organizations but I liked some of those in particular.
As it turns out there is more than one Earth Day. One Earth Day is celebrated each year on the March equinox. That Earth Day was introduced in 1969 by John McConnel at an UNESCO conference on the environment. Starting in 1972 the UN Earth Day celebration started on the March Equinox and has continued each year. The other Global Earth Day was started on April 22, 1970 by Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach in and has been celebrated each year on that date since then as Earth Day. I didn't realize until I started researching this that there were two different dates called Earth Day.
In a way the more observances for the earth the better. I heard something on a radio program about Earth Hour at the end of March that made sense to me. They were talking about how in order for big changes to be made, politicians will need to see that people are concerned about the environment and will consider the environment when voting. The point was that the more people who become involved in these events, the more political leaders will realize that the voting public does factor in the environmental record of politicians when they vote. I am not expressing this well but it made sense.Earthday Network had an interesting suggestion on their site. According to their site they were founded by the organizers of the First Earth Day. They suggest calling your political leaders to let them know you want climate change legislation. They have a number to call in the U.S. for your Representatives and Senators and they also have a numbers for people in other parts of the world to call the leaders from their country. I can't vouch for the numbers or the organization except to say that the number they give for the U.S. is for the U.S. Capitol Switchboard and hopefully that line will be buzzing with calls for climate change legislation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 33

Bill and I went to the Raleigh NC State Farmer's Market on Saturday. It was very crowded and not conducive to photography but I gave it a shot.
This Farmer's Market is quite extensive. There are many covered buildings and booths spill outside into the parking area too. The first building has annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetable plants and fresh produce.
As tempting as some of the flowers were, I had decided to buy a few tomato plants and nothing else. We mostly went to the Market to browse and have lunch and I was proud of my restraint because I've rarely seen a plant I didn't want to buy.
As you transition out of the section with plants for sale, you are presented with people at booths offering you strawberries and other tasty treats to sample, before you decide what you want to buy.
One building over from the plants and fresh produce they advertise cheese and NC wines but when you walk in the first temptation is homemade ice cream and fudge.
They also have jams, preserves, wine, cheese, all sorts of baked goods like pies, bread, and cakes. A separate building has crafts and handmade candles but we didn't get that far in our exploring.The Farmer's Market fresh seafood restaurant has excellent food so we had lunch there which was pleasant.
I hope everyone had a great weekend and will have a good week ahead. On Monday you can find other participants in the comment section at the home of Weekend Snapshot. If any others post early like me, I think they will show up at technorati, here,

Note - Weekend Snapshot is a Monday photo meme. I usually post mine on Sunday because I often get busy with work on Monday. However, Monday is when you can start browsing other WS participant links at the home of Weekend Snapshot each week.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Photohunt: Thirteen

When I saw that the photohunt theme was thirteen, I'll admit that I didn't have a clue what to do. At a loss, I decided to demonstrate that I could count to thirteen so for my first shot, I took a photo of thirteen shoes in my bathroom.
Not wanting to leave you in the bathroom, I decided to put together one more photogroup for thirteen. Below are thirteen animals. After I put together the collage below, I realized that I had actually demonstrated that I couldn't count to thirteen because I spotted an extra bird in a branch above another. No problem. I put the red box over the extra bird and included the thirteen caption. The dogs in the photograph often bark out a request for me to take their picture when I walk by. When I stop and whip out my camera, they invariably stop barking and pose for me.
I hope everyone has a great weekend.

PH participants post here on Saturday -

or show up on technorati anytime here -

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bazillion photos and medical stuff

All afternoon yesterday my desktop weather alert was flashing to make sure I knew there would be a frost warning in effect last night. My response, take a break and go outside to shoot another bazillion photographs. Covering the garden is not an option at this point. It was a relief to awaken this morning and see that it was 1 degree above freezing and everything looked fine. Tonight we have another frost warning but I'm betting it will once again stay a tad above freezing. If I'm wrong, I can immerse myself in my gazillion photos to remember what it was like before the last blast of winter wrecked havoc on the vulnerable blooms .It's a good thing I'm trying to get into better shape. If I gain much more weight, I won't be able to slide into the narrow space between my wall of flowers and the gate which is how I enter my garden from the driveway. I can also enter via my deck but I often go in through the gate. I prefer it when I only have a narrow space between the open gate and the overgrown azalea. I think it creates a better, you're entering the secret garden, feel than if I cut back a wider entrance. Or maybe I'm too lazy to prune the bushes. I'll let you guess about which is the case. Perhaps a little bit of both.
My rose covered storage building seems to think it's about June. Even as early as everything was last year coming into bloom, this year has been faster still. I don't worry so much about my garden as I do about the farmers. Last year the NC orchards were hit very hard by a late April freeze and that is dominating the local news this week as they are trying to predict whether there will be a repeat of last year. Hopefully not. If we make it past tonight I think we'll be warming up to the point where the risk will be low.
I went to get my vitamin D tested this week at my rheumatologist's office and while I was there I asked for a copy of my bone density scan which was done the first week in March. I assumed that there weren't any problems because they hadn't called me about the scan but I've gotten in the habit of asking for copies of reports, so while I was there I asked for it. Turns out I have osteopenia which isn't so bad. Much better than osteoporosis. Still you would have thought they would have let me know since my doctor wrote and signed the report on March 4 and had recommendations which I haven't been told about. It's not a big deal but surprised me not to have heard back about it.It mentioned there was a moderate risk for fracture in a couple of places in the lumbar spine and in my hips. That wasn't particularly surprising because MRIs of the spine and pelvic region as well as PET scans and bone scans have shown issues in the same spots. However, since they weren't suggestive of cancer, the oncologist wasn't interested. The pain doc had tried some nerve blocks after he did the MRI of the lumbar but that was of limited use and not followed up further.
I'm probably going to wait and see if my rheumatologist's nurse mentions the bone density scan results when she calls about the vitamin D. I don't see the doctor again until July and he is a very thorough doctor whom I like and respect. I know the nurse will call about the vitamin D results to let me know what supplemental regime to go on for the next 6 to 8 weeks until I'm tested again. I guess I want to give them a chance to tell me about the osteopenia before I say, so why haven't you let me know about this. Before I was a melanoma patient it never would have occurred to me to ask for reports. I didn't even come up with that myself. At my first oncology appointment at UNC after a PET/CT scan, they walked in with a copy of the scan report and handed it to me. After my sentinel node biopsy post op appointment, the surgical oncologist walked in with a copy of the biopsy report and handed it to me.
I've had a lot of scans and and a few surgeries at UNC since those early ones, and the NP or surgical oncologist who follow me always give me copies of reports at the office visits. I've learned that although my other doctors and hospital cancer center don't automatically give me reports, I can request them directly without involving playing telephone tag with doctors or nurses. Sometimes I wish I didn't do this but to an extent there is no turning back. In some ways it's better that I went ahead and got the bone density report and have had time to get over being annoyed they didn't call and let me know sooner.
I have barely scratched the surface of what's blooming in my secret garden but I'm sure I'll feel gabby again soon and will sprinkle some more of my meandering posts with photos of my meandering garden.