July Camping

Camping Eleven (246 of 213)

In July we went camping.  It was our first Colorado camping trip and we had a great time.  We went to Eleven Mile State Park.  I don’t even know how to describe where it is, but it’s on the other side of Pike’s Peak.  The reservoir runs along a river fed by snow melt.  The lake has Northern Pike, Salmon, Trout, Bass, and Crawdaddies.

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Yes, that’s right Crawdaddies, Mudbugs, or crawfish, the little red delights that are often found in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras.  They were in season when we got there.  Some of the park rangers were having a weekend seafood boil.    We were surprised to say the least.  Unfortunately, our boat is broken, and Shane had to take it to the shop after we got home.

While the kids and Shane went fishing, I walked around camp, and took some pictures of camp. I found one of the Colorado Springs Rocks.  The staff from a beauty salon in town had hidden rocks throughout the park.  There were a lot of song birds too.  The top two pictures posed for me on the picnic table.  The other bird and rabbit were regular visitors to our campsite.

 

And flowers galore!  We took hikes on the third day through the pine and birch trails.  I have traded tropical flowers for wild flowers.  Succulents, red poisonous berries, and other fragrant flowers.

 

And of course a new toy.  I sucked it up and bought a super wide angel lens.  It took perfect pictures of the landscapes around our camp.  I could get full mountains without turning my camera all sorts of different directions.  I still haven’t figured out astrophotography.   But hopefully I will be able to take pics when I get out of the hospital.

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And we had our security system.  She LOVED sleeping outside, and getting in touch with her wild side (chasing ground squirrels and birds).  Thor didn’t pose for me.  He would walk up to me every time I put up my camera.  The only time I can get a good picture of him is if I am at the end of the yard, and he’s running towards me.

 

I’m Still Here…

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Hello friends, it’s been awhile.  A lot has happened, and I have been busy, but I have not forgotten you.  Where to begin…  I finished up Doxil chemotherapy in May.  I was stable, some of the tumors were even starting to shrink.  But the doctor wanted to save my last eight infusions for another time.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we are not quite at desperate measures.

In June, we moved.  We left Florida forever (I will visit, but I will never live there again).  I was regaining my health, and I found my new sanctuary in Colorado.  Florida was beautiful in a tropical way.  There were tropical smelling flowers, calming beaches, and thick forests.  Colorado is beautiful in a mountainous, rugged way.  There is wild life walking through our yard, song birds of every variety, and hummingbirds galore.

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We got settled and used to our new surroundings.  I sat out in the cool evenings and watched the sunsets.  In the mornings, I drank coffee and watched the sunrises.  Then things started to brew.  A few months into moving, I had my first bout of illness.  Easily explained– it was the coffee.  I was not used to drinking coffee, and coffee used to make me sick.  I had a biopsy, too.

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In July and August the storms started.  The illness struck again, but this time it was Kale.  I was trying to change my diet, and it had to be kale.  It was too rough on my digestive track.  The numbers on the scale were starting to creep up, despite me being a little more active.  I decided I was going to hike the Bar Trail next year (13 miles walk, 7000 foot elevation gain).  I had started to even run.  I was accepted into Camp Mak-A-Dream.

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Then in August, the poo hit the fan.  The first week, I was sick, then I had a week where I felt a little better, then the next week I was sick.  I had an appointment with my doctor on the 21st.  The evening of the 20th, I got really, really bad.  I had lost control of my bowels, I lost control of my bladder.  My hands and feet contorted, and I could not move them.  I had soaked a shirt in sweat.  I stripped naked, and sat on the toilet for nearly three hours.  I alternated between vomiting and having diarrhea.  I didn’t know if I should go to the ER, or wait.  Finally, the Zofran, Imodium, and Tylenol took affect, and I was able to put on a Depends, and go to sleep.

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The next day it was confirmed.  My cancer was no longer stable.  It was growing, and producing fluid in my abdomen.  I had gained 20+ pounds over the summer.  I went from a size 10 to a size 14 by the time I saw the doctor.  The fluid is called Ascites (pronounced- A-CEE-TEES).  I was going back on chemo stat.  The new regimen– Gemzar, Cisplatin, and Avastin.  Three days after my first infusion, I checked my weight.  I was down over 15 pounds!

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The side effects weren’t bad.  They were there.  I got my second infusion on Labor Day.  Yes, the nurses in Colorado work on Labor Day.  Nurses are my heroes.  A few days after my second infusion, I left for Montana!  I was a little bit nervous.  There’s forest fires in the area, but I had fun.  I tried a lot of new things– horseback riding (I hadn’t been in over 20 years), archery, photography (next time I’m bringing my “nice” camera), writing, painting, and I could go on and on.  The biggest thing for me is I made life-long friends that I would never imagine I could make.  You see I have difficulty making friends.  But the women I met there “got it.”  The complaints I had about family and friends, who didn’t “get it” were the same.  They understood that since my surgery I tend to fart loudly, that there are certain things I don’t enjoy anymore, and understood the time I wrote ten checks, because I could NOT remember how to write a check (chemo brain is no joke).

 

After four glorious days of forgetting I had cancer, enjoying the company of my new sisters, and just an amazing time.  I came home.  On Tuesday (the 12th), I started to have cold symptoms.  It was just a cough.  On Wednesday, the cough turned into a deeper cough, fever, and dizziness.  I drove myself to University of Colorado Memorial North Hospital late Wednesday.  I was admitted into the cancer-ICU ward (it’s combined).  Several blood tests, infusions, oxygen, and fevers as high 103.6 later, I was diagnosed with influenza a.  I posted on the group Facebook page, and we discovered over 20 women had similar symptoms, six of us with the full blown flu.  I’m the only one still in the hospital.  My platelets are recovering, my white blood cell count just went up.  My bone marrow is non-existent.  I’m on anti-viral medication, anti-biotics (even though I don’t have a bacterial infection, they are keeping me on it because I have no immune system), and some other medications.  I am hoping to go home on Tuesday, but who knows.  My chemo on Monday is cancelled.

Pikes Peak (75 of 229)

The silver lining, because there is always a bright side, I get to catch up on my blog.  I have edited some photographs, read a novel, done word puzzles, watched football, binge watched USA Networks Movies, and decided that I am going to play with plastic pumpkins and glitter, paint a few of my sunset pictures, do a mountain mosaic, and brainstorm on how to open an online gallery called “Teal Expressions”.  There isn’t much sleep to be had in the hospital though.  But anyway, you’ll be seeing more of me later.

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Teal Expressions is an idea I have been playing with for a long time.  I would like to have an online storefront gallery with women, who are battling (or have battled) ovarian cancer.  It would be an opportunity for artists to earn money, raise money, and express their art.  You can submit anything from visual art (prints, wall art, postcards, greeting cards), wearable art (jewelry, scarves, blankets, shirts), or media art (self published, poetry, self-published prose, produced music).  If anyone is interested in assisting me on creating Teal Expressions, please comment below.  I am in the planning stages right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dogwood Photography Challenge Week 6: Artistic Candy

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This week’s challenge is Artistic Candy.  It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and it’s also my husband’s 42nd birthday.  Last year at this time I was throwing up in a plastic bin at a hospital after my hysterectomy.  Our birthday celebrations on his birthday has been spotty.  Of the 25+ years we have been dating and/or married, we have been together on my husband’s birthday a handful of times.  I think I can count on one hand when we were under the same roof.

Anyway, we met in 1991.  I had started running track at the insistence of my Life Studies teacher (I think that’s what it was called, I don’t remember for sure).  I decided to go to an indoor meet, because being the social butterfly that I am, I had nothing better to do.  It turns out my husband didn’t have anything better to do either– he missed his race.  We talked all night.  He drove me home.  We flirted a ton.  He even dated another girl.  But we always came back to each other.

We started to date on August 29th, 1992.  Every month, he would send me a rose for every month we were dating.  He even managed to send 24 roses on our 2 year anniversary in the middle of August while he was at basic training at the Air Force Academy.  We dated long distance, before the internet, before cell phones, and before technology.  Most communication was done via letters.

In March of 1995, he proposed, and I accepted.  We were engaged just over a year, and were married June 13th, 1997.  As many military couples do, we spent most of our first several years of marriage living in different homes, different zip codes.  I remember being told by my flight commander that we were better off divorced, but we stuck through that.  We have stuck together through 13 PCS moves, 4 deployments (2 combat deployments), a child with autism, the death of his step-father, the death of my father, a grand total of 4 years of separation (not related to deployments), a child with significant developmental delays, and now cancer.

We are separated yet again…  But we are always and forever together.

Dogwood Week 3: Artistic Red

This week is a chemo week.  Chemo weeks are full of mostly lows, and not many highs.  I don’t really start feeling better until the next weekend.  The photograph for this week’s challenge was supposed to be artistic, and I fell kind of short.  I am not feeling very artistic.  I have been playing around with Lightroom and Photoshop.  I snapped some pictures of the flora and fauna around our house, and then used Lightroom.

I love my home.  It has been a bittersweet six years.  I’m trying to capture my favorite things about the house.  One of my favorite things is the wild life that hangs out in our neighborhood.  I find it ironic that the holly berries don’t change red until after Christmas.  So after I take down all the holiday decorations, my house looks like a Christmas card.  There are cardinals, holly berries, and pine cones all over the yard.

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What The Hell, I Might As Well

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I am making a list.  Kind of like Santa Claus, but kind of not like Santa Claus.  It’s called my  “What The Hell, I Might As Well…” list.  It’s not really a bucket list, as I have accomplished most of my bucket list items– I ran New York City Marathon, went scuba diving in Guam, climb Pike’s Peak, saw a few celebrities (including a celebrity crush– Hugh Jackman in New York), I saw a Broadway Play, watched the sun rise, swam with dolphins, been in the Empire State Building…  This list is arbitrary weird things I always wanted to do:

  1. Write a Star Wars Novel.  I know that it will never get published.  I’m going to publish it on a fan fiction site.
  2. Publish a chick lit novel.  I wrote it, but I got to pitch it to a publisher.  I don’t know quite how to do that.
  3. I would like to go to another foreign country.  I don’t which one yet, I was thinking Africa, but my oncologist said I can’t go to Africa.  I asked at an appointment if I could travel while on treatment.  He said, “I don’t see why not, it’s not like you’re going to Africa.”  DAMN…. SHOT DOWN.
  4. Drive a sports car as my primary mode of transportation.  I want a Mustang.
  5. Get paid to do something I love– like having someone buy a picture I took, maybe sell my novel.
  6. Own another puppy.  I want a red Siberian Husky with blue eyes.  Love my pups, but I want that darned red Sibe.
  7. Live in a big city again.  Tired of these quiet little rural cities.  This one is about to be checked off.
  8. Build a house from scratch.  I want to design my next house.  I want funky colors in my bedroom, I want a bathroom with a huge glass window made by Angela (Big Orange House).  I want my photographs framed and put up all over the house.
  9. I want go get soaking wet in a thunderstorm.
  10. I want to see Niagara Falls, or Carlsbad Caverns again.
  11. I want to go to the Academy Awards, or Emmy’s, or Golden Globes– something to dress up for, and meet people– I know it’s the strangest ass thing, but I want to go to it.  I love movies.  I have been in two, it might be cool to be in another, or a television show…

That’s about it.  What’s on your What The Hell, Might As Well list?

Dancing In The Purple Rain

I am so very sad the last couple of days.  I think back to 2016, and wish that I really could rewind and start all over again.  Actually, I wish I could go back to the middle of 2015, and just undo all of it– every waking moment.  Starting with the day my dad died, and ending with the day royalty died.  The reason for my sadness is the loss of Prince.  I am not much of celebrity watcher, I don’t care about the reality stars, I am not a member of the Bey Hive, and I have varied tastes in movies and music.  The one thing I am very proud of is being from the state of Minnesota.

The military has taken me all over the world, but my heart is in Minnesota, and a big part of my heart died this last week.  I was a huge fan of Prince since I was 8.  You see being from Minneapolis, loving music, and appreciating the color purple is a birthright.  Prince was everything that was great about Minnesota.  A part of a bohemian musical and artistic scene.  He had made it big musically and artistically, he didn’t move to LA, NYC, or anywhere else.  He built a recording studio in Chanhassen, a suburb of Minneapolis. He stayed where his heart was.

There was no paparazzi in Minnesota.  When I was in High School, it was well known that you could go to Downtown MN, go into in First Avenue, and maybe see him (if you were lucky you would see a show!).  He would be outside of his compound handing out invitations to block parties, and some of his neighbors even said he would stop by for a chat.  He didn’t drink, he didn’t do drugs, and he was a religious man.  The biggest thing about Prince, though, he was one of US.  He was someone we were proud of.  He not only defined where I am from, but he defined people of my generation.  He was our Elvis, he was our neighbor, and he will be missed.

So when it rains, I will be dancing in the Purple Rain…

My Latest Project…

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This weekend marks the one year point in my husband’s command.  I know that my role in his squadron is somewhat minimal.  I have a few talents, one of them is drawing, and I like to say that I’m a little bit creative.  Traditionally, the squadron commander gifts something to the squadron before his change of command.  We wanted to do some kind of glass work, but could not get someone to “do” the artwork.  I drew a sketch of the “Friday Patch” free hand.  Still not able to find someone to help me make this vision a reality, my husband and I have manged to acquire glass tiles.  We have four pounds of glass tiles separated into five different colors, glue, and grout.  Now the fun begins :).

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Next, we are going to cut the frame, prime the wood.  Notice there are two other squares on that plank of wood, I have other uses for them.  I am going to do a design for my son’s school.  They are opening a new school sometime in 2016, and I am hoping the artwork I complete will adorn the walls.  The second square I might do a design and sell it on Etsy.  I have some other squadrons commissioning me to do their patches :).  Right now, I plan on charging around $200-300 for a large plank of wood.  Smaller designs are going to run between $75-150.  Please e-mail me if you have any interest…