When God Paints The Sky…

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I have been blessed to live in areas of the country where the sunsets look like God is painting the sky.  He uses a retinol of colors, his pallet is amazing.  I have taken more sunrise and sunset pictures than any other.  Most of them are without filter.  Today, I’m going to share a bunch of them with you.  No matter where you live, I find that watching the sun slowly creep up, and down to mark the beginning and end of days is one of the most beautiful natural thing in the world.  Enjoy :).

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Sunset from my deck

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Panoramic on the Bay in Florida

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Sky on fire in Colorado

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Sky on fire in Florida

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Sky on fire at my mom’s house in Orlando, FL

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Palm trees at sunset.

I love sunset and sunrise pictures.  My next goal is to conquer night-astro photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 2: Landscape

In 2011 we moved, yet again, to Florida.  This was our fifth home in seven years.  I had a love-hate-love-hate relationship with Florida.  Florida is a place of endless summers, beautiful vistas, and wearing flip flops in the middle of January (and pulling stickers out of your feet after you take a picture of said vistas).  I was excited to move to Florida, what’s not to love– Disney, oceans, and lots to do.  But after we got here, my son was neglected at school, and we ended up pulling him out of school after a heart wrenching experience.  My parents moved down here, and I fell back in love with Florida.  In 2015 and the early part of 2016 was disaster after disaster starting with my dad passing away, and ending with me being diagnosed with cancer.  Now that we are leaving again, I am in love with Florida and I’m going to miss it.  That being said, I’m ready to leave.

I had a tough decision regarding my picture submission for week two.  I was tempted to take my camera with me to my doctor’s appointment this morning, but wondered if I would be in the mood if I got bad news.  I did not receive bad news, in fact I received some very good news.  I thought about going out after I got back, but I was sleepy, and there were some showers in the area.  At about 3:00 PM the showers cleared out, so I decided to go to the park near our church and capture the orange hues of a setting sun against the emerald backdrop of our beautiful bay.

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10 Reasons Military Spouses Are More Like Mutant Manatees From Hell Than Hippos

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10.  Mutant Manatees from hell blend in with their environment.  So do military spouses.  We up and move at the drop of a hat, and blend in where ever we end up.

9.   Mutant Manatees from hell have tough, thick skins that are impervious to Sharks With Laser Beams.  So are military spouses.  We can take any situation and turn into unicorns and rainbows.

8.  Mutant Manatees from hell take really good care of their young, but sometimes when they misbehave, they eat them.  So do most military spouses.

7.  Mutant Manatees from hell have sharp teeth.  So do military spouses.

6.  Mutant Manatees from hell roam in large packs and eat a lot.  Ever go to a restaurant on a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday evening around a military town?  Nuff said.

5.  Mutant Manatees from hell were the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they live in the water.  I don’t know how to tie this to military spouses, but some of us are really mad skills with a bow staff.

4.  Mutant Manatees from hell reside in Florida.  The largest bases in the military are Florida, coincidence, I think not.

3.  Mutant Manatees from hell can be slow moving, but they also can be really, really fast when in stealth mode.  There are some fast military spouses and some slow military spouses.

2.  Mutant Manatees from hell mate for life, except for some of them are mean bitches and they cheat on their husbands.  So do military spouses.

1.  Mutant Manatees from hell are an imaginary creature I made up (and someone else photoshopped the picture, I just found it on the internetz).  So are military spouses who are called Dependas– and they are photoshopped too.

I Love The Zoo

My dad always followed his dreams.  One of my big dreams is go to on a photo safari.  It has been a dream since I was younger and used to visit the Minnesota Zoo.  The Minnesota Zoo was one of the first zoological parks to institute realistic animal enclosures.  Since we are honoring my dad the last few weeks, I took some decidedly wonderful photographs of the animals of the Animal Kingdom Safari ride and subsequent Jungle Walks…

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Eulogy

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On June 3rd, my dad had a massive heart attack.  I got the phone call around noon, and I rushed as fast as I could to be by my mom’s side.  When I got to Orlando, I found out that my dad’s brain had been deprived of oxygen for over 90 minutes, and it was by the grace of God that a nurse was able to perform CPR for 20 minutes until EMTs arrived, but it was ultimately too late.  He was in vegetative state, and the ventilator was pulled on June 4th.  My dad passed away immediately.  For those who cannot make the memorial service, here is my Eulogy:

My dad taught many life lessons, and today I am going to share with you the top ten Life Lessons he taught me.  There is a theme, so please sit back, relax, and see if you catch the theme…

Lesson 10:  “Let’s Go Fly A Kite:” In the book and movie “Mary Poppins” is about Saving Mr. Banks.  At the end of the movie, Mr. Banks realizes how enjoyable, and fun his children are.  My dad never thought that my brother and I were a nuance, but we would always find time to either coach our teams, camping with Y-Guys/Y-Princesses, and sometimes I would even run in a track meet and see him at the track cheering my on during a race.

Lesson 9:  “Life Is A Highway:” My dad was a typical man.  He would never ask for directions.  He had the propensity for getting lost.  One time we traveled from Orlando to NASA by way of Daytona Beach.  He started stating that getting lost was going on an adventure, and we went on A LOT of adventures.

Lesson 8:  “You Have a Friend In Me:”  Everywhere my dad went, he would talk to anyone who would listen.  He frequented O’hana’s and the Polynesian so often, he befriended Sue, a waitress, and Walt, the bartender.

Lesson 7: “Feed The Birds:”  My dad loved bird watching, he would sit in the porch in Minnesota, or in the Florida Room, and try to identify the birds.  When John and I were younger, he would take us to Grandma’s work at General Mills and feed the ducks in the winter.

Lesson 6:  “Be Our Guest:”  My dad loved to entertain.  He loved to host parties.  When he wasn’t hosting a party, he would make one of his famous watermelon boats (by the way, I know how to make them too, I learned from the best!).  He would also volunteer to be kitchen help at weddings, or graduation parties.

Lesson 5: “Heigh Ho Heigh Ho:” His favorite movie was “Snow White.”  I always debated what dwarf my dad was.  He used to always wear Grumpy clothing, but he was not Grumpy.  He was often Sleepy, sometimes Doc, but never Dopey.  Right now, I believe he is Happy.

Lesson 4:  “Bella Notte:” My favorite movie was “Lady and The Tramp,” and I loved Spaghetti we always used to go to Kelly’s On The Ninth after Saturday mass.  “Lady and The Tramp” was the first Disney movies we saw in the theater.

Lesson 3:  “When You Wish Upon A Star:” My dad always used to wish that my son would come out of his autism.  He truly believed that Disney was magical, and that Disney would cure all that ails.  Every time I hear that song, and think of how much he wished for his grandchildren (I included names, but for privacy, no names).

Lesson 2: “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes:”  On my wedding day, I had told my mom that I wanted to be Cinderella, which is odd for me, as grew up as a tomboy.  My mom and dad made that possible.  For our daddy and daughter dance, we danced “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.”  A few weeks after my wedding, my mom told me that she had found my dad in the basement listening to the Cinderella Album crying.  He finally remembered the significance of the song, and told her, “Now, I know what that song meant.”

Lesson 1: “When my dad was a young man, he found his aroma lacked a certain appeal.  He could clear the living room after every meal, he was a sensitive soul, though he seemed thick skinned, it hurt that his family never stood down wind…”  I will leave you with this final thought– Hakuna Matata, it means no worries, and my dad would want everyone in his life to have no worries, so Hakuna Matata.