Friday, November 22, 2013

Could it be ... Rain?

The sky is gray today and there is some kind of wet stuff falling from the clouds. It makes the road shiny and has a musical sound that makes me want to curl up with a good book. I believe, if memory serves, that this mysterious substance is called rain. 

According to Wikipedia (and they ought to know), rain is " liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated - that is, become heavy enough to fall under gravity." I knew you wanted to know that.

Rain is a rarity in the Phoenix area; we average about 8 inches a year. Not quite in the same league as New Orleans, for example, which drowns in more than 60 inches of rain annually! 

It's cold outside, too, only 55 degrees, dropping to 48 tonight. That's downright chilly in this neck of the woods. If I had some beef shank, I would make a pot of soup. It's hard to find, though, especially now that grocery stores no longer cut their own meat. When I do find some, I'll share the recipe with you. It's awfully good!

I'm off to brew a cup of tea and find a book.

Till next time,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It Could Be Worse

Landscaping around the lake at Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen, Arizona

After a CT scan of my chest, a PET scan of my whole body and an MRI of my so-called brain, I finally have some definitive answers about my lung cancer.

The best news is that the cancer has not spread. Whew! Unfortunately, I will have to say goodbye to the upper lobe of my left lung to ensure that the cancer is removed completely. (Did you know that there are three lobes in your right lung and two in the left? Strange.) But at least I'll have a lung and-a-half to breathe with.

Surgery will take place the week after Thanksgiving, and I should be almost back to normal by Christmas. I was worried that I would miss out on the holidays, so that's a relief. I will be hosting a family dinner the day after Thanksgiving due to scheduling conflicts of one kind and another, but as long as we all sit down to turkey and all the trimmings the date doesn't matter. 

Till next time, 


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Blogger for iPad - Who Knew?

I've been thinking that I need a laptop, especially for blogging, but they are a bit expensive. The cost is hard to justify when I already have my handy dandy workhorse desktop computer. It has everything I need, but it's not exactly portable.

I have a feeling that I'm going to be laid up for awhile after my lung surgery, and I get withdrawal pains if I'm off the Internet for more five minutes (ok, slight exaggeration there). My iPad will be perfect, but how will I be able to write and publish my blog posts?

Every once in awhile a little light bulb comes on in my little brain and thus it was that I thought of the App Store. There's an app for everything, right? So why not a blogging app? Well, lo and behold, a quick search turned up Blogger itself! (I'm probably way behind the rest of the blogging world with this discovery, but it was a Eureka! moment for me.)

This is my first attempt at using the app and I can already see a few shortcomings. Luckily, I can upload photos directly from my iPad albums; I can't seem to find any way to resize them as I can in the full version. There are buttons to click for bold or italic text, but there doesn't seem to be an HTML editor - or spell check, yikes!

The app is free, though, and I think it will fit my needs. I can even use it on my iPhone. As you can see from the photo, Google has wisely made the app compatible with other devices as well.

Till next time,


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Joys and Woes of Being a Reader

via Pinterest

To say that I love to read isn't really true. To say that I have to read is more accurate. I've been this way since I was small. I bugged my mother to teach me how to read when I was four, and I've been fascinated by the written word ever since.

Reading has been a joy and a curse.

Through books I've traveled the world, and beyond. I've met fascinating people, witnessed amazing feats and fallen in and out of love more times than I can count. I know that the correct pronunciation of the Levitation Charm is Wingardium Leviosa, not Leviosa. (Thanks, Hermione!)

I know that hobbits have hairy feet and curly hair. That "real" vampires sparkle in the sunlight, that you really don't want to mess with Joe Pike or Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch. I know what the Deathly Hallows are and who Sethos really is.

History, real and imagined, has come to life before my eyes. My imagination has reveled in fictional accounts, and my perspective has been widened through non-fiction.

My taste in reading material is eclectic, to say the least. Fiction, non-fiction, good books, bad books, so-so books - I'll try them all, although bad books never get read through. I'm not that desperate! Life is too short to read bad books.

In addition to my reading addiction I am a very fast reader. This is not a good thing. I try to slow down, I really do, but it never works for long. I want the story to go on and on, but, alas, the last page is turned all too soon. That's why I like books with hundreds and hundreds of pages, like the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon. It also helps if a book is at least a bit complex. I can read (and enjoy) a Spenser novel by the late Robert B. Parker in a few hours, but Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books take awhile longer to digest.

Read my books over and over again. I cringe when I seek books used solely for decorative purposes. Make a lamp out of a stack of books? But I might want to read them sometime! I guess it's OK if they're copies, but still...

If you visited my house today, you would see why the above slogan is so appropriate. I will put down a book if I must, but I do it reluctantly. Who wants to scrub floors when the Orcs are about to attack Helms Deep? Or when Mr. Darcy is just about to say something profound to Miss Elizabeth Bennett? Or when the Volturi come calling? First things first, people!

My addiction is quite sad, really. In doctors' waiting rooms I was once reduced to reading poorly written brochures about obscure diseases, ancient copies of Field & Stream, even old Highlights, the children's magazine. (I almost always find all the hidden objects in the picture!)

Now that I have an iPad, I can take reading material with me. E-books are a wonderful convenience, but nothing can take the place holding a real book.

I admit I stopped reading long enough to write this post (although, technically, I'm reading as I write), but I really must find out what the Emersons are up to now. (See, the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Big C Comes Calling

Desert sky, North Scottsdale, Arizona
I've already broken my vow to blog every day this month, but this time it wasn't due to procrastination. I've been diagnosed with lung cancer, which kind of knocked me for a loop.
I had read that a mass in a lung is almost always cancer, but somehow I wasn't prepared for the idea that it could apply to ME. But, as my doctor informed me Thursday, it does.
There is good news, however, and that has managed to keep my outlook positive. My oncologist believes the cancer was detected early and that there's a good chance that surgery might remove it entirely.
It's early days yet and I have to have few more tests to determine if the doctor is correct. Next week he wants me to have a PET scan, which detects cancer anywhere except the brain, and a CT scan of my brain. I have a copay for both procedures, but I think I should get a refund if the CT scan fails to find any brain at all, which is entirely possible. The oncologist is also scheduling an appointment with a lung surgeon, so no time is being wasted.
Is it scary? It may be, depending on the test results. The idea of surgery doesn't thrill me, but if it has to be, it has to be. I know so little yet that, aside from the first moments of panic, I'm not wasting emotion on what may or may not lie ahead.
That's why I chose this photo for today's post. Storm clouds are gathering, but there's still a glimpse of blue sky hanging in there, just like me.
I'll let you know how it goes and if you have a story to tell or just want to say hi, feel free to add a comment below.
Till next time,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Change Only One Thing? Let Me Think...

Interesting prompt for today's post from Blogher's NaBloPoMo . If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? Well, as you can see by the above photo, not one darned thing!

Oh, wait, that's not me. Rats. This is going to take some thought.

There are a few minor things I could change, of course. Like being a little lighter, poundage-wise, or a little fitter, exercise-wise. Or maybe a lot of both. I would like to be able to see without glasses, but I don't look like me without them.

I could opt to be taller or have the green eyes I always wanted (or lavender, like whatzername above). I could be younger! I could sing so that people would actually want to listen. Maybe I'd like to be famous. I wouldn't mind having just a little more money. Is it possible that I could be a hunk magnet? Hmmm. I'd have to change a whole lot of things to accomplish that!

I think I'll pass on the unrealistic changes. Changing my appearance or personality isn't the big deal it might once have been. I'll just work on being a better person in general. I don't need a prompt for that; it's on my daily agenda anyway.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Blogging Workspace

Yes, folks, this is where all the excitement happens. On one wall of my bedroom I have an old-fashioned set-up, including a desktop computer, color printer, mouse, keyboard, etc. Following my procrastinating habits, the speakers have yet to be unpacked.

On the little shelf on top of the desk is my slide scanner, which I plan on using as soon as I figure out where all my slides are. I think they're on the top shelf of my closet, but it will require the height and muscles of one of my offspring to find out for sure.

My oldest accessory is to the left of the monitor, my old friend Opus of "Bloom County" comic strip fame. Ah, Berkeley Breathed, wherefore art thou? Opus has helped me meet many a deadline. He's sitting on a shoebox containing all computer-related CDs.

Almost as old is the mouse pad on the right, made from a photo of my two oldest grandchildren a few years back. It was a gift from my son Tim, who is no longer with us and is sorely missed.

The desk chair was a gift from my son James. There was a time when I was at the computer a lot, so this wonderful back support was (and is) much appreciated.

The desk itself is the newest part of the ensemble. I bought it at Fry's Electronics almost two years ago. It doesn't take up too much room, but it holds everything I need.

The printer has its own stand, with shelves for paper and miscellaneous items.

The blinds came with the apartment and I plan to cover them with drapes. I don't open the blinds because the window looks out on another apartment's patio and I'm shy.

I love my computer, with its Photoshop and Microsoft Word and a myriad of other goodies, so this is where I go when there's blogging and hardcore photo-editing to be done. However, since I discovered a certain distraction called IPad, most of my web-browsing (and, possibly, game-playing) is done in the comfort of my chair in the living room. But it's just a toy and my computer is the real thing.

Until next time,

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Blog Must Go On

I wasn't sure I would feel like blogging today, in spite of my promise to blog every day this month. I had a lung biopsy this morning and didn't know what to expect.

They were going to insert a needle into my lung, for goodness sake! Would it hurt, would they hit the right spot without involving any blood vessels? Would my lung collapse, causing them to pump it up like a flat tire with a chest tube (shudder) and keeping me overnight?

All my worrying was for naught, thank goodness! I was under conscious sedation and was given pain meds anytime I got uncomfortable. The biopsy itself wasn't too bad; the hard part was having to keep my arms over my head and not move a muscle during the entire procedure, which seemed to last forever. My shoulders were killing me!

The doctor used CT scans as a guide for the needle insertion, so he would roll me into the scanner, insert the needle a bit, then scan again and insert some more, and so on until the procedure was done. The final step was to snip a sample of the walnut-sized mass in my lung and send it to the lab for testing. I heard a sharp snap but didn't feel a thing.

Once it was over and my poor, aching arms were lowered to my side I was sent off to the recovery room where I waited and dozed for about an hour. I had been fasting for about fifteen hours, but I didn't feel like eating. A cup of ice water was very welcome, however.

I had a chest x-ray to ensure that my lung hadn't deflated, and my son brought me home. (We may have stopped at McDonald's on the way and I may have scarfed a Quarter Pounder and some fries.)

My doctor should have the results of the biopsy by the end of the week. I can only hope that they give me as little cause for worry!

Until next time,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Top Reasons Why I Live in Arizona

Location, location, location. It's a relatively short drive to the attractions of neighboring states - the Pacific Ocean, Disneyland, Las Vegas, etc. as well as Mexico. Within the state we have our own natural wonder in the Grand Canyon. Mountains and desert are bosom buddies here. We can always go where it's cooler or warmer.

Mother Nature. There are no earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis or other freaks of nature here. We do have (sometimes deadly) dust storms, however, but I've only been in one once.

Temperatures. Aside from the oven-on-clean-mode summer heat, our temperatures are quite moderate. I've had my patio door open all day every day for a month and haven't turned on heat or AC. Can't wait to see my bill!

Rainfall. No one is in danger of getting webbed feet due to excessive rain. We don't get drizzly day after drizzly day, but we do get some awesome thunderstorms.

Plenty to do. There's always a festival or a rodeo or a concert or a play or opera or ballet, as well as nearly every outdoor activity you can think of, including snow- and waterskiing.

Places to go. There are so many things to see here, whether its the Challenger Space Museum or the dusty streets of Tombstone. The red rock country of Sedona, the smooth blue expanse of the Colorado River, the quaint hillside town of Jerome, the depths of the Copper Queen mine in Bisbee. You'll never run out of day trips here. If you're a fan of the Old West, Arizona is paradise.

Plant life. Arizona boast two gardening seasons, and roses bloom nearly all year long. We are one of the few places where you'll find the mighty saguaro (suh war oh) cactus and few jillion other cacti as well. Bougainvillea, Mexican bird of paradise, and lantana thrive in the Valley of the Sun. Tall pines, junipers and cedars grace the higher elevations.

Family. I have a special perk for living in Arizona. My sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are here. Not just here, mind you, but within easy walking distance (youngest son and three youngest grandchildren) or a short drive (east for oldest grandchildren and widowed daughter-in-law, and south for oldest son, daughter-in-law and grandpuppies.)

If you've never visited Arizona, you should try it some time. There's a lot to like here. (Might not want to come in July, though).

Till next time,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The high cost of procrastination

The view from my "new" apartment. If you look closely, you can see my mountain view! One of the perks of living here is that my son Toby lives about a block west of that bend you see just up the street.
With a very red face I admit that I haven't blogged for more than a year. My last post told you that I had moved in with my son James and lovely daughter-in-law Aubrie - and their five dogs. I had my own room and a room upstairs for my office/library. Living with them was great, but I really missed having my own place "with my things about me." And my knees didn't like going upstairs every time I wanted something to read, which was all the time! So, at the end of July I moved into my own apartment. It's only one bedroom, one bath, but it's all mine.
Which brings me to the topic of this post - procrastination. I am the queen of that particular realm and I'm sure you'll find my picture next to the word in any dictionary.
My favorite saying is, "I'm going to." And somehow my brain translates "going to" into "done" and forgets all about it. I was going to continue blogging after I moved. I was going to start blogging when I moved again three months ago. There are so many things I'm going to do - eventually.
I can't begin to tell you how much that nasty little habit has cost me over the years, in rebates not mailed in on time, bills paid late, phone calls and letters unanswered, events not attended, weight not lost, exercise not done, etc. etc. A wealth of money and opportunities missed. I really need Nike's "Just Do It" slogan tattooed on my forehead.

A little boot in the booty from BlogHer finally has me at the computer again. I signed up for their National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), which asks participating bloggers to post daily during the month of November. They even offer prompts should I fail to come up with a topic on my own. I was going to start yesterday, Nov. 1, but here I am with my first entry on Nov. 2. Typical!

But I vow, if I do nothing else that I'm "going to," I will blog every day this month! You should too. The deadline for signing up (and winning prizes) is Nov. 5, so hop on over to BlogHer now! Don't procrastinate!