Monday, January 17, 2011

Through her eyes....a past I never knew

I would like to start this post out with a most beautiful photo of a young lady on railroad tracks located in Jewel Mountain, Tennessee sometime in the late 1930's perhaps? This was a poor coal mining town and this photo was taken before she married. Vibrant, strong, beautiful.

This woman turns out to be my maternal grandmother. I never met her because she passed away at age 40, when my mother was only 19 years old. I think she is absolutely stunning.

Several months back I was digging through my paternal grandmother's hope chest and found an envelope that had a pair of glasses in them. I knew my grandmother never had such glasses, as she was a simple, minimalist dresser. Clean lines, simple styles that were classic. That was the grandmother I grew up with, not one to wear such fancy frames on a daily basis.

I, however, like a bit of fancy and retro, so we made a great team!

I remembered these glasses as my mother showed them to me years ago when I was still living at home. They belonged to my maternal grandmother. The mystery did I end up with these frames? I do not recall my mother giving them to me. I did know my Pop Pop (she married him twice.) He was a rogue, a coal miner, moonshine runner and general hell raiser from Tennessee. Which made him utterly adorable and the man could do no wrong through my eyes. But what was life like through my maternal grandmother's eyes? Would I have called her Mee Maw, or Mom Mom...from the south I doubt "Grandmother" would not suffice. What was life like for her, what was she like, and how did she see things?

How can you not wonder about a grandmother you never met, and are now wearing her glasses and looking through at the world as she did?

I do know she had a hard life, often a single parent raising my mother. She was also sick all of the time. Something that worries me a bit, but we have better technology and medicine these days.

Well I can tell you she didn't see very well with the script that was in there. I could not even look out of them they were so strong! However, I fell in love with the glasses and didn't know what to do with them. So I just packed them away with other little treasures I have. One day I started to see so many folk selling vintage frames such as these so you can get your own script put in.

Isn't the detail on these 50 year old frames just amazing?
And they do look like brand new. Cost me only $40 to get my script and installed in these.

Peek-a-boo! Here they are on me with new lenses. They are just to beautiful to not use.

Below is the house my mother and grandmother lived in during the 1940's in Tennessee. As you can see they lived quite posh. NOT. It is amazing the structure still stands and little about it has changed.

Here is my grandmother - her name is Hattie - wearing the actual glasses I had refitted. And I still cannot help but wonder how life was through her eyes.
I feel very fortunate to find the frames and even more fortunate to ability to wear them. I love them dearly and cannot help but to think I would have loved her so much more.

Thank you Nana....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Please ad me...and introducing Mt. Doom

Hi there, it's me again...

I got to go to the top of Mt. Ruapehu also known as Mt. Doom from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It really did not look like you were on planet earth while up there. Needless to say it was nothing less than awe inspiring and my mouth was once again hanging open in a very unlady like fashion. We started to just tape it shut or use rope to keep it closed. Rather unsightly it was.

Meet Mt. Ruapehu aka Mt. Doom

One day I just got the bug to finger paint. I was looking over the "Mt. Doom" photos and looked at the pile of tubes of paints I had. I had a blank canvas too. I didn't want to take this to seriously and just started to splatter color on the canvas in my lap while at my desk here. My fingers just raced across it with little to no worry about the outcome. I think this was just a "stress release" exercise and I needed something more "hands on" to keep me busy. This was the finished product. No brushes, no rinsing off colors, I just went for it. After it was done, I thought it actually looked pretty good or at the very least, interesting. Now I am not saying it looks that good, but for having 10 minutes of fun with finger painting, I was satisfied with the end results.

Of course having the privilege of standing on top of said mountain at sunset, I caught some killer photos of the sun going down behind some incredible clouds. Middle earth, I finally made there!

Nothing can prepare you for such a stunning ending to an even more incredible day in New Zealand.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You Luna....and a Happy Solstice

Happy Lunar Eclipse Solstice 2010!
My Solstice fire, 5:00 a.m.

The shortest and darkest day of the year, it only gets brighter from here!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dodged a Bullet

I have been really grumpy lately. Not myself. Crying nearly every day...don't even let me get into how I got when I would look at my kids.


Because I had all of these doctors giving nothing but bad signals, signs, news or what have you that I was looking down the barrel of a 12 gauge breast cancer shot gun and I was not (as if you ever are) ready for that.

No fair! I just returned from New Zealand! I was feeling fantastic! I was getting ready to pull a Madonna and reinvent myself (again.) Us Moms - especially those of us who have been single ones in the past before know what I mean - have had to do that on more than one occasion. So I had been living curled up in a ball just waiting and waiting and waiting for some bloody news to finally come my way and let me know what the next year of my life was going to be like. It wasn't like I didn't have enough to tend with as it was. Cancer? Sure, why not...toss it onto the pile of shit! I'm a good sport and all...but this was pushing even what I was willing to endure all at one time.

Fortunately my appointment was yesterday morning early, so I didn't have to wait long, but wow that was a shocking wake up call. "Oh man, I have to go now...I know I want this over, but I also don't want to go!" As of last week, surgery was a given, no matter what the biopsy results were going to be. Did I mention it was raining and dreary and cold out on the way? This cannot be a good sign.

I get in there and am quickly called back. Palms sweaty, lump in my throat, keeping my shades on to hide tears, as they ask me to wear "The robe please." OMG OMG OMG, if it's negative, why do I have to get undressed, again? So I sit for a few seconds and a chirpy doctor Michelle comes to the door. She sits, she asks one or two questions, sees the pain on my face and says "It's benign."

Excuse me? Did she say benign? That means no cancer right? None? Nada? Zilch? And then after last week them telling me no matter what the results I would need surgery she then says... "And you don't need surgery." OK, now I know they are punking me. They put me through three weeks of hell for NOTHING? A small mini-stroke...I know I had several brain cells just pop, I felt them, they are GONE. And I am pretty sure a nervous break down.


So off to breakfast and I at the first real meal I had in weeks. Since eating was off the menu for some time and I think what was causing me to have flu like symptoms for over the past week, fever and all. I ate like I had never had meal in my life! Anyway, I started to feel better really fast.

The next day I got up and decided I had energy. I call my friend Matt and what do two super-stars such as ourselves do when I need to go celebrate? Find a park to play in, buy some sweets & pop at a bakery and take our cameras out. Why? Why not? I have to grow old, but I don't have to grow up.

The moral of the story is? like to scare the crap out of you for fun. Well, maybe that is not exactly true. But that is what it feels like. They kinda give the worst case scenario and hope for the best. But damn, there has be a more balanced way of going about this.

The most important thing and the bottom line is:

This cat landed on all fours and dodged another bullet. Whew!

But get your yearly mammograms, do your monthly exams and do follow-up for your physicals every year, especially after 40. This shit ain't funny! And the people that love you need you to. Thankfully I do keep up on this stuff and listen to things, especially myself, since I am the only one I talk to most of the time. (Did I just say that out loud?) Oops.
Thanks everyone for all your love!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

And I looked at the screen in disbelief

Because it couldn't happen to me? Hasn't enough happened to me? I just came back from New Zealand feeling the best I have in years but facing a very difficult decision of having to put my 17 year old severely disabled son with MR and autism into full time residential living because it was becoming unmanageable at home. I mean we have been living with pad locks on our doors for years now and my almost 13 year old son had no social life and he deserved some time. My 17 year old is mentally 2 at best and it was eating me alive. In the way that only a mother could understand. His entire life, every day I made every single decision of his day. What he would wear and dress him, what he would eat, where he would go, all of his educational decisions...the works. Now suddenly I was faced with someone(s) else doing that and my home falling silent from his various sound affects. He cannot talk, but he is far from quiet.

So I go away, clear my head and come home to take on this huge challenge before me.

Then something else happened. Something I didn't see coming, nor did I expect. I don't smoke, drink, do drugs and I have no family history. My history thus far included giving a tiny bit of help that I could to this powerhouse of woman named Joan, whom at 70 was now a two time breast cancer survivor. I think we laughed more than we did anything else, but isn't laughter the best medicine? This was early in October and I had no idea what was going on with my body. Joan was taking on a whole town and organizing a Pink Walk. I was in awe of her. Having been an event coordinator myself, I was so impressed and I think I was looking at myself 30 or so years down the road. I adored her, she was just so much fun to be around.

This past Monday night I went out with a friend and met up with an Angel Psychic. I had some questions lined up, but before we could get started, she said "We need to talk about your health, specifically your breast health." I kinda looked at her baffled but listened as I have learned to listen to those who are speaking to her, my angels. I have a lot, I need a lot! She gave me info specifically about my left breast and suggested I get a mammogram, soon and we went on to other topics. I had no idea how soon that would be.

The very next day I was surfing the web, and on our local on line paper there was this nifty little thing you could sign up to remind you to do your monthly exams (which I already did, but brush ups never hurt) , get your yearly mammograms and check ups, had some tips, recipes and it included three main symptoms of breast cancer. One was drainage from the nipple. I said "Huh, I use to get that for some time after breast feeding, wonder if it still does that?" So while doing my self exam I tried to extract (you breast feeding moms know what I mean there.) Nothing on the right, went to the left and dammit, blood came out. I froze. I literally froze.

OMG, I have never had anything like that come out of my breast before! Dammit, my doctors are closed! I got in when my doctor returned to the office on Thursday as I was having no of this business with a fill in after 16 years of us tactling everything from autism and abusive husbands, and had him give me the full work up on an exam and showed him the bleeding. He didn't like it and thought he felt something on the underside of that breast. I said "What? I cannot feel a thing." Fact of the matter is that often women don't feel anything early on, which is why after 40-41 you start going every year for a mammogram. Ironically I was scheduled to go next one month, since I pushed it back by two months for my trip. Which really is not a big deal since my base line was normal five years ago and I am in a low risk category.

My doctor asked me if I could get a mammogram and an ultra sound that day (this is Thursday now) I said HELL YES! And off to the nearest imaging center we went with an opening.
I was told on the spot there was a nodule, it was not a cyst and they didn't like it because of the bleeding. Strike 2 on the bleeding thing. I call my family doctor back now hysterical in the parking lot and he tells me he is going to call me later that night with a name.

By 8:30 p.m. he calls, but I am pretty out of it from crying most of the day. I am just in shock. He said he will be calling me in the morning with her name and number and I am to call to make an appointment. Next morning I get a call instead, they made the appointment for me, and I am to be there by 1:30 p.m. I am now going to the Helen H. Graham Cancer Center and I am scared to death. But I have angels among me who are pushing and making sure I am getting where I need to go and as quickly as possible.

I go and meet up with the breast surgeons assistant and she says "I'll be honest, I don't like the bleeding either, but most nodules we fine are benign." Strike 3 on that bleeding thing...I am now beyond terrified. I look at the screen in disbelief for the first time and I didn't like it. There it wsa, this dark black circular THING. It was an unwelcome and unwanted invader in my body and I wanted it out and fast. They were hoping this coming Monday that I would get my biopsy, but I have to wait till the 9th and I get all the results in on the 16th. Apparently business is good at the cancer center. So I must wait till the 16th to know what my future holds. I know it holds at least a surgery to take that sucker out no matter what it's attitude may be...I did not invite it and it is leaving. My attitude is piss poor as far as it is concerned.

So here it is Halloween, and the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I cannot express enough to everyone out there to get your mammograms and do your monthly exams. Also check in with your doctor about anything strange looking about your breasts or change in them. Don't be embarrassed. Because I gotta tell ya, I would have stripped for anyone and everyone without hesitation if they were going to help me. All I could think about were my kids. No question is a stupid question, not asking is stupid. And don't think you are safe if you have no family history and live a low risk lifestyle. It can happen anytime to anyone. One in 8 women they say. Not great odds. I really didn't see this coming and I always have kept up on my girly health maintenance. I wasn't there, and then it was.

I am just hoping and praying that this sucker is benign and they will take it out and I will be on my merry way. Will I feel like I worried over nothing if it is? NO. I have a family I am responsible for and it's my job to worry and make sure I am OK. If it's not benign? Well, we will worry about that part after we get past this first part.

So, that is why I stopped with the pleasant blogs on New Zealand and I have lots more to tell, but I have had this bit of a hiccup in the road and need to deal with it. Which I am, full steam ahead. So Think will save your life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

And the winner is....

Last week I announced my dear friend Dancing Mooney was having a sale and a giveaway. I just wanted to do a quick follow up and let you know who the fabulous winner was since this is an Estian that I never met before.

She is The Charm Lady and her shop looks rather interesting. Anyone who knows me knows I love my charms and pendants. It's my big to Have It Sweet's Fleur de Sel Caramels. (Another day...but oh my!)

Dancing Mooney writes: " TheCharmLady is our lucky lady today, who's won her choice of
Sugar Body Polish and matching Soap from my shop. She is an Etsy artist that makes really cool jewelry, and is an amazing photographer as well, along with being a fantastic mom
{I can only tell by her blog!} and so much more!"

I found several pendants I liked right away, it was hard not to find something I liked. It was a fun shop to visit and I never would have known about it if it was not for Dancing Mooney's contest!

Anyway be sure to visit Dancing Mooney. You can read up on her shop and her wonderful soapy goodies. She also has jewelry and collages too! You can find the post here. I am quite sincere when I say I have been using her products since she has been making them and I truly love them. I am also always so excited when she comes up with a new scent or product, she works so hard to get it just right. I have very sensitive skin and her soaps always work for me so well.

I have two other soapy ladies I use for different reasons and I will reintroduce them soon.

Why so soap crazy you ask?
Well, it is something we all need and use.
It is consumable and does not go to waste or to your waist.
It can and is an art form for many which makes it a LOT of fun.
It makes a great luxury gift and it will not be left laying around collecting dust.
It is something someone will use and get a great deal of pleasure out of. So you can always go back and refill that item for the next holiday or birthday or what have you.
Many of the soap makers on Etsy use only the best ingredients and not all of that nasty stuff that is in the soaps you buy in the stores. Once you start to use hand made artisan soaps, you find your skin no longer gets itchy and looks and feels better.

Coconut Bar by Dancing Mooney

So, that is why I am a bit nutty in the soap department and support my equally nutty soapy friends who show no end to their creativity. I just love it. It's good clean fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Before Ohakune there was Omaru Falls for my Birthday

Sometimes words just do not do justice for some of the things you get the privilege to witness. I had a very special birthday.

Omaru Falls - New Zealand

It was a bit of a hike through some bush, flooded fields and a swollen river over this rope bridge. Fun stuff!

The look on my face when I first saw the falls

I know, I am a complete sap....

I didn't have much to say while I was there. I was in awe and just sat there taking it all in and taking a lot of photos, in between wiping away my so called water proof mascara!

A very very special birthday that I will never forget!