Photography 101: Moment

I know that this is a photography prompt, but this scene so perfectly captures the essence of the prompt that I couldn’t resist. And, hey, I did take this video with my camera.

I was shopping at Whole Foods market in Florida this past Spring on a warm, beautiful day. As I stood outside waiting for my mother to check out, this elderly man sat down at the piano by the entrance and began to play.

He played several songs, including “The Entertainer”, a ragtime favorite. I was riveted to him and hated to leave. What an unexpectedly delightful “Moment”.

The Twins Are 3 Months Old!


It’s been about three months since my implant exchange surgery, so I thought it was time for a little update on the “girls”. How did things turn out?

First let me say, the exchange surgery was ten times easier than the tissue expander placement. I only took a week off. The recovery was a breeze. At the end of July we took a vacation, a little over a month post-op. Everything was going well until I noticed a tiny reddened place along my stitch line on the left side. The next morning it started to look infected, although still quite small.

When I returned home, I went to the plastic surgeon’s office right away, terrified that the implant might be infected. I’ve seen such horror stories. Thankfully, it was only a stitch abscess, and he told me the implant looked great. It was a case of “spitting stitches”, where the dissolvable stitch doesn’t dissolve properly and the body tries to get it out.

Well, it turned out that I had three layers of dissolvable stitches, and soon these little abscesses began popping up weekly for about a month on both sides. My body was really spitting hard. It was a bit of an annoyance, going to the doctor weekly to have stitches removed, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

When my last stitch was removed, the doctor really dug around and created a fairly obvious opening in the scar. The whole lower half of the left breast began to get warm and red in the next few days. When I told him, he wanted to put me on antibiotics. Tired of being medicated and destroying my body’s natural balance, my inner rebel kicked in, and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Remembering my delightful acupuncturist/herbalist, I hopped off the medical train and back to my belief in my body’s innate ability to heal. I scheduled a private acupuncture session and was given a poultice of Chinese herbs to put on the breast for the next several days as well as an herbal tea. It looked like mustard and made a hellacious mess, but….let’s just say that the infection was drawn out fairly quickly and the spot began to look better.

Since that treatment, I have had no more stitch abscesses. Tomorrow will be a regular follow-up visit to discuss the next step in the process, raised homemade nipples with areola tattoos or 3D nipple and areola tattoos. I’m leaning toward the real thing, although the 3D stuff is pretty amazing. I just feel like it would be a bit of a bait and switch for the audience. “Looks great…I’m just going to touch it…what the hell!” Not that the audience is that large, but I’ve gone this far, I might as well complete the deal.

Overall, so far at least, it’s been totally worth it to be able to have a feminine shape again. And it’s so nice not to have to “stuff” my bra every time I wear a form-fitting top. I know that it doesn’t bother some women, but I’ve said from the beginning that I was going to see the bright side of this journey. And trading my “lemons in a tube sock” for perky oranges rates right up there!


My Garden Runneth Over


My Garden Bounty

As a cancer survivor, healthy eating has become paramount to my survival. All the research points to the fact that a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables is the key to preventing not only cancer, but a myriad of other diseases. Look around you at the people walking down the street and it will become crystal clear that you are what you eat. See a few Big Macs out there?

I’ve always been fairly conscientious about what I put in my mouth, but I do have a sweet tooth. I can remember watching “The Biggest Loser” a few years ago with my ice cream bowl on my lap. Ironic, huh? I wasn’t seriously overweight, but I was enjoying a form of denial. After all, I did cut up fresh fruit to put on top of my dessert. 

Shortly after that. I started running and got serious about my diet. I was fairly strict during the week…no dessert and no alcohol. I ate lean meat and tried to cut back on my carb consumption. But I never tried to live with complete deprivation because I believe that this leads to failure. I allowed myself to indulge that sweet tooth on Saturdays, usually in the form of some decadent ice cream shop creation involving lots of chocolate and the word “fantasy”. 

So there I was, proud as punch about my healthy new lifestyle, and I got cancer anyway. I was in shock at the seeming unfairness of it all. What about all these yahoos smoking and drinking while double-fisting Krispy Kreme doughnuts?! They’ll probably live forever! 

My diagnosis made me realize a couple of things. First, cancer is a sneaky, relentless disease that has many causes. Even if you do everything just right, you aren’t immune. Second, you can always take steps to give yourself a little more insurance. I was eating better than most, but I was still nowhere near the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, which is still inadequate.

Since my ordeal, I have made a concerted effort to scour vegan and vegetarian blogs, books, and other resources to find new recipes. I still eat meat, but I’ve cut back, and I try not to use any products from large commercial farms. I also limit dairy, but cheese is a tough thing to give up! 


Squash Casserole with Garden Cukes and Tomatoes

This year, I raised an organic garden, although it has been very challenging lately with all the rain. Asheville is trying to become a suburb of Seattle, I think. I’ve had yellow squash and phallic cucumbers running out my ears. I made my own pickles, and a vegan blackberry cobbler. Right now, I have green beans, watermelon, and pumpkins trying to take off. The tomatoes finally lost the battle to the weather, so I’ll be pulling them out this weekend. 

Overall, the garden has been a success, and not only from a food standpoint. There’s something soul sustaining about digging in the dirt. At the end of a really crappy day, I can’t help but feel better standing among my veggies.  

I feel pretty good about my choices most of the time. I’ve come up with a supplement regimen that works. I’m getting more creative and healthier in the kitchen. That mental piece is still a work in progress, but I’m trying to figure out my path to happiness and fulfillment. The only thing I can ask when I look back on my life is that I did everything I could to change the outcome and survive. The rest is out of my hands.

Weekly Photo Challenge: ZIGZAG

My children think I’m crazy sometimes, but they’ve learned to embrace it and even appreciate pieces of my offbeat personality when they catch themselves acting like Mom. This photo was taken on one of those eye-rolling occasions. 

We had been enjoying a sunny afternoon stroll downtown and had just returned to the parking garage. As I started to get in the car, this scene caught my eye on the parking level just above us. My teenage daughter was feeling particularly salty that day and insisted that we go home. I had to risk her wrath when she realized we were going up instead of down toward the exit. I think it was worth it:)


Wanted: Part Time Calling With Excellent Benefits


As I head In to a six-day stretch (including Mother’s Day weekend) in Folsom prison at work, I find myself scouring craigslist in multiple states daily, hoping against hope that my dream job will appear. It never does…unless my destiny is to be a long-haul truck driver or a masseuse. I don’t think so, though, because I can’t drive more than six hours without stopping for the night, and I’d much rather be the “massagee” than the “massager”.

I thought last week that fate might be trying to send me a message. Two of the women I work with go to the same chiropractor in town. Each of them approached me at different times to let me know that he was looking to take another doctor into his practice and wanted to talk to me. I let it go at first, but then I thought, “What the heck, I’ll send him an e-mail.”

I’ve always had a bad habit of being a people-pleaser, and job interviews are no exception. If the job is one I really want, I find myself promising to do the interviewer’s dry cleaning, take his kids to school, you name it. He turns into my father in my head, and I’m suddenly 10 years old again, with no voice and no demands.

So, I was actually proud of myself when I fired off an e-mail to this chiropractor, telling him what I was looking for, and what I was and was not able to do. A big part of this was the fact that I really only want to work 3 days a week right now, for the sake of my kids and my recovery. Friends of mine who have taken similar positions have made great money, but they have worked 12-15 hours per day.  I hit “send”, and I honestly never expected to hear from him.

Much to my surprise, he called the next day. We talked for a good 30 minutes. Well, mostly he talked and I listened, throwing a few “uh huh”s and “I see”s in every now and then. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. His wife just finished treatment for Stage 4 ovarian cancer, so I think he felt a connection to me in some way, since my friends told him all about my breast cancer ordeal.

But mostly, he talked about money. How he was trying to move away from insurance and more to a cash practice. Ok, makes sense so far. But then he kept going on about how much money could be made from all his cutting-edge rehab equipment. And the person he hires could easily make $100,000/year if they were willing to do a little marketing. Continuing on about the position, he said more than once “This has to be profitable for me.”

And then, the coup de grace, he brought up the part in my e-mail about me only wanting to work part time for now. He said “That could be a problem. I work 40-50 hours per week and take paperwork home at night sometimes.” So how did I respond? Of course, I stood my ground and told him that this was non-negotiable, right? Wrong!! I think I said something about wanting to wait a couple of months before I plunge in full time and work those 50-hour weeks. I caved like a house of cards.

Then he said “You do have a husband, right?” What? I told him that I was married. He replied “Good. If you were a single mom, that would be a problem.” I responded with appropriate indignation, right? Wrong!! I babbled on about how my husband was very supportive and willing to help with the kids (so I can work those 50 hour weeks). Which is not even true. Who are we kidding? My husband eats, breathes, and sleeps work. I see him maybe two hours at night and on weekends.

We ended the conversation with me agreeing to come to his office next week and see where things go. I was disappointed with myself almost the moment I hung up. First of all, this man has never met me before and has absolutely no filters. That doesn’t bode well for a pleasant work environment in my book. He was never rude or mean, just clueless. Second, no way am I ready to put in those kinds of hours. And the money thing just bothers me. I’m not against profit, but the whole idea of being a physician giving health lectures at a buffet or tackling people at a mall to get new patients is just “icky” for lack of a better word.

I guess I’m stupid to turn down that kind of income potential, but I’m all about what feels authentic and gives me more time to enjoy life and family these days. So I’ll be firing off another e-mail tomorrow, thanking the good doctor for his time and politely canceling our meeting. And I’ll be back on craigslist….maybe tomorrow will be the day they put in the ad for a rocket scientist, part time of course.

Weekly travel Theme: Misty


misty vib

These misty images for Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme are from our trek to Machu Picchu in June last year. They seem to be the perfect complement to my submission to this week’s Photo Challenge: Threshold.

misty viii

The six day trek with Mountain Lodges of Peru along the Salkantay Trail to reach Machu Picchu was filled with moments of great beauty, triumph and exhaustion all experienced each day in the ever-changing magnificent Peruvian landscape seen so hauntingly in these misty mountain scenes and reflections in the turquoise water of Lake Humantay.

misty v

If you would like to see more of our journey I invite you to follow our trek day by day by visiting the early posts on my blog last June.  Happy Trekking 🙂

View original post

My Grandma: Bi-Lingual Gang-Whisperer

If this story rings a bell, it is a remix of one of my favorite posts of all time. It fits perfectly with the daily prompt: “Born to Be With You”.


frying pan Claremont College

I remember clearly the day she chased me around her house with a frying pan waving wildly in the air and a homicidal snarl fixed on her lips. I have no doubt that she would have bashed me in the head had she caught me, and I might have been dead right there at the ripe old age of seventeen. I can see it now; a white chalk outline on her worn gold carpet, blood spatter on the aqua-colored walls.

And as the police were questioning her, she wouldn’t be crying hysterically or berating herself for losing her temper. No, she would secretly be checking to make sure that the plastic on her beloved satin couches had protected them from blood stains and wondering who in the world was going to clean up the awful mess. She hated cleaning. What was my crime? I had called her “senile”.

That was…

View original post 1,087 more words