Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lip Service

damaged lips
Ever since we returned from visiting our daughter in Los Angeles last month I have been having a problem with irritation on my lower lip. Because I wore a wide-brimmed hat and use Z Blok on my lips, I was surprised to have any issues. To be fair, my lips are always sensitive due to prior sun damage. With my history of 19 skin cancers to date, my dermatologist had suggested a couple visits ago that I put a chemotherapy cream on my lips due to the sun damage. I've used the cream once on my forehead with dreadful side effects, so I did not jump on that suggestion. I don't know how you would eat or drink during that treatment. 

Regardless, my lips have gotten worse over the past two weeks, to the point where I was indeed having problems eating and drinking. My usual Carmex didn't help, nor did Vaseline or Aquaphor for lips. Concerned that I might have an underlying infection going on, I called my dermatologist first. She is on vacation, so they suggested I go to my primary care doctor. She also is on vacation, but one of the other physicians could see me last Tuesday.

After asking me a lot of questions and looking at my lip, he feels that this is just a cold sore. While I admit that I do get those on occasion, they are always on my upper lip and I have never had them spread across the entire lip. It also did not start out with the usual tingling sensation I get when a cold sore is coming on. He prescribed Valacyclovir, which is a drug used for cold sores and also shingles, chicken pox, etc. You only get four pills and take two at a time, twelve hours apart. He also said to use Abreva on my lip.

My pharmacy did not even get them in until Wednesday afternoon, so I took the first dose at 5:30 p.m. Sadly I was awake early enough the next morning to take the next two at 5:30 a.m. Unfortunately, this medicine works best if you take it just as you experience the first symptoms, and I was already two weeks into my ordeal.

The good news is that I did not suffer any side effects from the drug. That's good to know for the future when I get another cold sore. But while the lip definitely looks better, it is still not 100%. I have not been going outside during the day at all as I don't want to experience a setback. The doctor said if it didn't get better, and for sure if it got worse, to let them know as it might turn out to be a different kind of infection. I'll probably see how things go over the next few days before I make any decision on the next steps.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Smithsonian National Zoo

We drove up to Springfield to be with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter for the long holiday weekend. Virginia always has clever signage along the interstate, and this trip was no different. Way to get across the point to not drink and drive, Virginia! 

Virginia road signs
National Zoo
Because it was so hot and our granddaughter is still pretty young we mostly stayed close to the house, going outside early in the day to let her play with her splash pool and water table. But on July 5th we headed out early to go to the National Zoo. My husband and I had not been there before, and it was the little gal's first time as well. Until we arrived I had no idea that the zoo is part of the Smithsonian, which explains the free admission. You just have to pay $30 to park.

Even though the temperature was pretty high, the humidity was low which made our time there bearable (pardon the pun). It also helped that they had many mist sprayers available, and some of the exhibits are inside as well.

We have been to a lot of zoos, and this one was pretty nice even though the pandas were sent back to China. They are supposed to get a new pair sometime later this year. Apparently the two countries have worked out their differences, at least as far as pandas go. 

National Zoo

My favorite exhibit, though that seems like too small of a word to use, was the orangutans. They have two separate enclosures, but to get from one to the other they climb overhead on cables called the Orangutan Transportation System, aka the O-Line. The visitor walking path is directly below part of the cabling systems, so you definitely don't want to be standing there when one goes (literally) overhead!

Overall, we had a great time in Springfield with our family. And of course it is always a pleasure to spend quality time with our only grandchild.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

July 4th in June

Our community of Mount Holly has their 4th of July fireworks show on the Thursday before the 4th, which meant that the fireworks this year would take place on June 27th. That seems pretty early, but that's how they roll here. We decided to go to see them since the weather was not too hot.

But some residents of our community were going to go to Muddy River Distillery at 7:00 that night. Muddy River is the oldest legal rum distillery in the Carolinas. It used to be in Belmont, but the owners purchased the oldest mill in Gaston County and renovated it into a beautiful bar and event space. It happens to be located in Mount Holly, which is great for us as we love their rum.

Muddy River Distillery
We parked on Main Street around 6:20, and walked the short couple of blocks to the distillery. A food truck was there so we grabbed dinner and settled in with rum cocktails. Then our neighbors began to arrive, and we ended up with about 14 people there. It was fun to catch up with everyone.

As it began to get dark, we walked back to our car, grabbed our chairs and some water, and crossed the street to the Mount Holly Community Garden parking lot. It was a good location on a hill, and we had a nice view of the fireworks. The best part was that afterwards we were able to make a quick u-turn on Main and head home. No traffic jam for us this year!

Mount Holly fireworks

Friday, June 28, 2024

For the Birds

We have had some fun bird activity in the back yard recently. It surprised the heck our of me when this sharp-shinned hawk landed on my bird bath for a drink. Then he hung out there for awhile checking things out. He came back the next day as well.

sharp-shinned hawk

While typically the goldfinches congregate at my finch feeder, they have found now found our coneflowers. Both the females and the males love to have a snack with those. Hopefully they won't beat the snot out of the flowers as they have done in the past.


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

It Never Rains in California

Manhattan Beach

"It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya..." I thought a lot about the song lyrics to the 1972 song by Albert Hammond while on a recent trip to the Los Angeles area to visit our daughter. Since she lives in a one bedroom unit (as the landlord calls it but it is really a loft with no doors), we decided to rent a two bedroom, two bath home on Manhattan Beach through AirBNB so she could stay with us.

It was a lovely place just one block from the beach with nice ocean views from the large deck. But what I didn't realize was that the whole area would be shrouded in fog all morning the whole week. I had only checked the weather for LA (my bad!) and packed accordingly. It was a good ten degrees cooler in Manhattan Beach, and without benefit of the sun it seemed even cooler. I only had one pair of jeans and a nice pair of slacks with me, so I had to launder those to get by.

Outside of the gray, though, Manhattan Beach was a great place to stay. It's very walkable, with grocery stores and restaurants to choose from. We were lucky in that our house had a garage, so our daughter could park her car there for the days we wanted to head out and play tourist.

We spent time in downtown Los Angeles visiting the museums, went to Huntington Gardens (my favorite place to visit) and sat down for High Tea there, took the ferry to Catalina Island and played some pickleball. It was great to spend a week with our girl and celebrate her birthday. That doesn't happen too often anymore.

Scenes from Los Angeles

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

I Love a Parade

The annual Mount Holly Lantern Parade is in October, but the lantern making crew here at Imagery has already been working since the beginning of April on ideas for our entry. This year's theme is "The Fantastical World of Flight." Our small brainstorming committee came up with lots of ideas. Since we are in North Carolina, the Wright Brothers immediately came to mind. But we felt that was too obvious. We tossed around Dumbo, Casper, the Jetsons, Aladdin, Tinkerbell...

We have a large number of volunteers who, while they may never come to help build the lanterns, love to walk in the parade. So we wanted something that could involve a number of walkers. We also take great care to engage the children on the parade route, because they are so enthusiastic. Having minions and 101 Dalmatians in the past were big hits! We have taken first place in community entries all three years we have entered, so we feel some pressure to do something bigger and better.

lantern construction
We finally settled on Santa, his sleigh and reindeers. The sleigh will be five feet in length, and each reindeer four feet in length. We are also building lantern gift boxes, lollipops, and probably candy canes to really make a statement. Down the road we will ask the parade organizer if we can be the last entry in the parade. Just like in the Macy's Parade, we feel Santa should bring up the rear. Who cares about Christmas in July - we have Christmas in June going here!

Friday, May 31, 2024

What is Memorial Day?

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
Every year when Memorial Day comes around it is amazing to see how many people do not truly understand the significance of the day. Most commonly they seem to think it is the time to thank all veterans and/or those currently serving in the military. In fact, it is a day to mourn and remember all the U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the armed forces of our country.

That distinction made me wonder about whether my 3rd great-grandfather Andrew Hungler should be honored on Memorial Day? Andrew enlisted in the US Navy in August of 1864, where he served as quartermaster on the USS Milwaukee. The ship supported the Union forces during the Mobile Campaign as they attacked the Confederate fortifications defending the city of Mobile, Alabama in early 1865. On 28 March 1865 the Milwaukee struck a mine and later sank. All of her crew members were rescued by the USS Kickapoo.

However Andrew came home from the war later that year as a cripple. The cause was listed as rheumatism, which they said he contracted on the ship. There are extensive medical records of Civil War soldiers, and they show over 160,000 cases of acute rheumatism, and acute rheumatic fever was known to be the main cause. Heart damage from this disease is common, and indeed Andrew succumbed to heart failure in 1869. He had been bedridden from the time he came home from the war.

So my question is, on Memorial Day do we honor our military men and women who died as a result of their time in the service? It seems to me that we should as in Andrew's case he would not have gotten rheumatic fever had he not been on a ship during the war. But the answer is no - Memorial Day is only for those who died during their service. I'll honor his memory on Veteran's Day instead.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Battle of the Oldies but Goodies

Cresswind versus Imagery
Last Saturday the pickleball club at Imagery participated in a tournament at Cresswind, another 55+ active adult community in the Charlotte area. This is the second time we have played there, and it always such a fun time. They have four permanent pickleball courts, but their tennis courts are striped for pickleball which gives them eight additional courts. We have never hosted them because we just have two permanent pickleball courts. We can only add an additional four pickleball courts by taping out the two tennis courts here. 

The weather was perfect with blue skies, light winds and temperatures in the mid-70s. The clubs were broken down by sex and skill level. We played the same team two times, for a total of six games. It was competitive and fun, and my partner and I won four of our six games. Our two losses were to the same team, and they went on to win our division, so we felt pretty good about our performance.

At the end of the day, we all just love the game of pickleball. We are blessed at this stage of our lives to be able to participate in the sport, have fun, and make new friends. Pickle on!

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day
Mother's Day always brings mixed emotions. For me the day has always been about my mom, and later my mother-in-law. Even when I became a mom in 1985, I stilled viewed that day as being about the two most important women in my life. My mom died in a car accident in 1989, and my mother-in-law quietly and lovingly patched the hole in my heart. Since she is now gone as well, it is a bittersweet day.

Both of our children live pretty far away from us, so I did not see them on Sunday, except through FaceTime. God bless technology and the capabilities it brings to help us keep in touch. My husband made me breakfast, and then we later picked up lunch and ate it at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in their botanical garden. It was a beautiful day, and many people had the same idea as us.

UNCC Botanical Garden

Later Jim grilled steaks, and we enjoyed a nice dinner in our screened porch. We went outside after it got dark in an attempt to see the aurora borealis, but old aurora did not make an appearance. Apparently people in our neighborhood saw it on Friday night, but we missed it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Dallas Park

Gaston County held a household hazardous waste collection on Saturday at Dallas Park. We have been collecting used batteries for awhile, and I thought it was a good opportunity to get them out of the house. It was beautiful Saturday morning, so we decided to take the 35 minute drive to the park and dispose of the batteries.

We were the only ones pulling into the drop off location at the time, so all the employees rushed to the car to get our materials. Several hustled to the back of our SUV, expecting me to pop open the back for them to unload items. I felt really bad just rolling down a window to hand them a plastic bag partially filled with batteries. I think they were quite surprised and disappointed.

After the drop off we drove through the park. What a surprise it turned out to be! It has three ponds you can fish in or walk around, a couple of playgrounds, a splash pad, ball fields and tennis courts, an equestrian center including a camping area, and numerous pavilions. Especially of interest to us were the numerous historic building located there. There was a history of each one listed, and a QR code you could scan to see photos of the inside of each building. 

The beauty of the park made it worth the drive to properly dispose of our batteries. I hope to be able to take my granddaughter there the next time they come for a visit.

Dallas Park

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Charlotte Douglas International Airport Tour

On Wednesday thirty-six members of our community took a tour of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). As one of the top ten busiest airports in the United States, CLT always has some construction going on. Right now a new terminal is being finished up, and it will have seven gates for Delta Airlines and three gates for other airlines. Construction is also underway for a new public viewing area that will include a playground, picnic area and space for food trucks. The biggest project is a new runway, the fourth for Charlotte and the only new runway being built in the US right now.

Most of us on the tour thought we would be looking at the inside workings of the airport, but in fact that was not the case. They put us on two buses so we could see the massiveness of the airport holdings and get a closer look at the control tower and out buildings, including the original airport terminal building. We also parked by the runway and watched some planes take off and land.

The tour was interesting, and I hope we go back for the other tour which does include going inside the terminals. They are also getting ready to open the Sullenberger Aviation Museum in June. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum will house artifacts of importance to North and South Carolina aviation history. Of special note is the "Miracle on the Hudson" collection, which will include the actual jet that landed on the Hudson River in 2009. The plane was headed to Charlotte on the day it made its emergency landing, which is why the local museum received the exhibit. That would be another fun field trip for us to go on.

Charlotte Airport

Saturday, April 20, 2024

North Carolina Road Trip

Woolworth store in Greensboro
Earlier this week we decided to see some of the other local sites available near us in North Carolina. On Monday we drove to Greensboro, where I had pre-purchased tickets to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. It was at the F.W. Woolworth's counter on February 1, 1960 that four black North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College freshman conducted a sit-in at the whites-only counter of the store. They did this to protest segregation, and refused to leave when denied service, staying until the store closed. Their non-violent protest sparked a movement across America.

The above is just one part of the museum, and we were not allowed to take any photos inside. As a photographer, it was hard to hold back from taking a picture of the actual lunch counter inside the museum. But our tour guide was excellent as he led us through the various rooms and exhibits. Though I learned a lot of information in history classes growing up, it was totally different to experience it through the museum and Darren's story-telling.

We had lunch in town and then visited several of the beautiful gardens in the area. We found the street art to be interesting as well.

scenes from Greensboro
We left Greensboro later in the afternoon and headed to Asheboro, where we spent the night. On Tuesday we drove the short distance to the North Carolina Zoo. On the zoo's website they suggested you avoid coming towards the end of the week as that is when the school kids come. Much to our surprise (and the zoo's, apparently) the place was teeming with kids. It was not the experience we were looking for as the sidewalks were nearly impassable with the crowds, not to mention getting close to the exhibits was quite difficult.

Nevertheless we persevered, and enjoyed the nearly five mile walk to see the different areas of the zoo. We would very much like to go back when our granddaughter gets a little older to share the experience with her.
North Carolina Zoo

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

A (not so) Total Eclipse of the Sun

83% eclipse of the sun
Yesterday a solar eclipse traveled across America. We were headed back from visiting our son and his family in Virginia, and did not think we would have an opportunity to see any of the eclipse. Charlotte was to get only a little over 83% totality at any rate. Surprisingly traffic was light on the interstates we traveled on. I guess everyone was clogging up the highways on their way to total eclipse sites, so the east coast was in the clear.

The moon eclipsed the sun around 3:11, and we were home in plenty of time to see what 83% gets you. Our next door neighbor was in her back yard with out of town guests, and they had extra glasses for us to borrow. Someone even had the protective cover for the phone lens, but I was quite unsuccessful in capturing any photos with my iPhone. It was fun to watch the moon in progress, but while the light dimmed a bit, it was still quite bright out.

In 2017 we had totality where we lived in Missouri, and that was an amazing experience and quite different from what occurred yesterday. Then it got completely dark out, the birds stopped chirping, the night insects began making noise, and the streetlights came on. I guess because we were able to take part in the one seven years ago, I was not in a rush to drive many hours to see the one this year.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

On Island Time

Folly Field Beach
Last week I drove to Hilton Head Island to meet up with a good friend from St. Louis. Diane has a timeshare on the island, and invited me to join her. When I picked the week I wanted to come, I did not realize that it was going to be Easter week. Hoo boy, was the area ever crowded! Traffic was heavy on my drive down and very stop and go once I got close to Hilton Head.

While the weather could have been better, there were still plenty of activities to keep us busy. With all my skin cancer, I'm not one to sit out on the beach anyway. Though I do like to walk it in the morning and evening to catch the sunrise/sunset colors on the water.

Folly Field Beach sunrises
A weird occurrence that I have seen every time I have come to this area is the abundance of jellyfish on the beach. Since they are not really fish, it is more appropriate to call them jellies. Usually I have just seen one jelly here and one jelly there, but this time there was a large grouping of them on the beach by our condo. I guess that jellies travel in "blooms", and they can be washed up on shore together. I wondered what happened to them once they are on the beach, and then in the morning I saw seagulls eating them. Turtles also like to consume jellies. The circle of life...

Folly Field Beach jellies

It was wonderful to get away for a week and spend time with Diane as I only get to see her every couple of years or so. It was a rejuvenating time for both of us.

Monday, March 18, 2024

St. Paddy's Day Pickling

sunrise on Mountain Island Lake

Our community pickleball club held a St. Patrick's Day round robin yesterday. The day began with a beautiful sunrise, as shown above. But right after the volunteers got the two tennis courts striped with painters tape so that we could have a total of six courts for the day, it began to rain. The luck of the Irish was with us, though, as the storm quickly passed. We ended up with sunny, blue skies for the day.

Around 70 of our club members participated in the games, so with the limited number of courts each person only got to play 3 or 4 games in the scheduled time period. But some matches ended early, so I did get in an extra game at the end before it was time to go eat.

Some of the guys grilled up hamburgers and hot dogs, and there was a selection of chips, candy and cookies to go along with those. It was nice to be able to sit around the pool deck, which overlooks the lake, and catch up with friends. My pickleball companions who don't live here were a bit green with envy 💚💚💚

St. Paddy's Day social

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Another ED&C

squamous cell carcinoma
Yesterday I had another Electrodesiccation and Curettage (ED&C) performed to remove the squamous cell carcinoma from my left arm. Basically the dermatologist scrapes off the top layer of cells with a curette until healthy cells are revealed. Then an electrocautery device is used to apply small amounts of electricity to the treated surface to burn away any remaining cancer cells. I believe this also helps to stop the bleeding.

ED&Cs are used instead of Mohs surgery when the basal or squamous cells are smaller, newer growths. The procedure has a 96% success rate. It only took my doctor about fifteen minutes, and because no stitches are needed I don't have to go back until my next regular checkup, which is in four months. The downside of having no stitches, though, is that it will not heal as quickly. 

While I do not have to keep a bandage on it, obviously I don't want to get the vaseline and/or any drainage on my clothes or sheets. However, I am allergic to every bandage out there, and they make me itch and break out in red dots. The paper tape does the same thing, so I can't even cover it with gauze and use tape. I am compromising by keeping a bandage off while I am in the house and wearing a short-sleeved top. Hopefully this one will heal quicker than the ones on my neck did so I can forgo the bandages. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

Making Whoopie (Pies)

The other day I was invited to dinner at a friend's house and was asked to bring dessert. As there would only be a few of us, I searched for single-serving recipes. I came across several whoopie pies recipes, and was intrigued by them. I don't think I have ever eaten a whoopie pie, much less made them. What are they, you might ask. Believed to have originated in America on the east coast, several states claim to be the birthplace of whoopie pies. They might be considered a cake, cookie, pie or sandwich. They are baked in a round shape, and two are then combined together with a smear of filling.

Most of the pies are chocolate, but I found a recipe that called for strawberries which sounded good, so that's what I made. The batter for the pies was very easy to make, but I will say the filling was quite a bit of work. The end result was very good, and my friends and neighbors enjoyed them. But if I were to make whoopie pies again, I think I would just use a container of whipped frosting, adding the strawberries into that. It would be a lot simpler, and I think the consistency and flavor would be good. Whoopie!

whoopie pies

Friday, February 16, 2024

Taking a Shot

Covid-19 booster
It's hard to believe that we are entering the fifth year of Covid-19! Certainly when the reports of a new virus first started coming out the end of 2019, I never expected we would still be having to deal with it in 2024. 

My husband and I have had all six of the Pfizer shots, which included the two original injections as well as four booster shots. Since it has been more than six months since my last booster as well as the fact that a new booster was released last fall, I received my 7th shot yesterday.

The injection itself was not bad at all, and the only weird thing that happened is that when I got home (about 30 minutes after the injection) I started to feel a little dizzy. That has not happened with any shot I have ever received. I just laid down for a bit, and that went away. My arm is a little sore at the injection site, but other than that it has been smooth sailing.

Getting this additional shot made me wonder how many Americans have taken advantage of this latest booster? According to the CDC, about 12% of adults in the U.S. have gotten the new vaccine. That is a remarkably small number. So how many Americans have had seven shots like me? I can't find an answer to that, but it is obviously less than 12%.

Covid is still a big deal, even though most people act like it has gone away. CDC statistics indicate that 16,000 Americans are hospitalized each week with the virus, and 1,200 die each week. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as of 4 February 2024, there have been nearly 775,000,000 cases reported in the world, with 103,000,000 of those being from the United States. Worldwide there have been over 7,000,000 deaths, with 1,200,000 of those occurring in the United States. I'm suspicious of the WHO's U.S. numbers because so many places are not reporting their data anymore in this country. Plus the U.S. statistics are less than what I reported in my July 20, 2023 post. 

Regardless, losing 1,200 Americans each week to Covid is not an insignificant thing. And we know those numbers are higher due to the lack of adequate reporting since early 2023. I don't want to become a statistic, so I'll take the shots.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Village Life

We just returned from a week in The Villages. This 55+ community has its own zip code as it is home to over 145,000 people. Located outside of Orlando, Florida, The Villages has more than 71,000 homes, and that number grows daily with no signs of slowing down. They have their own fire and police departments, post offices, hospitals, and parks and recreation department. You can pretty much find any service you need within the community.

We have heard a lot about The Villages, and some friends of ours from St. Louis purchased a home there several years ago. I actually met them through pickleball, so this seemed like an opportunity to see them and play on some of the 100 pickleball courts located there.

We were the first guests at a newly listed AirBNB. The owners just purchased the property a month ago, though they live only 10 minutes away. The rental came with a golf cart, which was important as we flew in and didn't want to rent a car. You don't even need a car as golf cart paths connect you to stores, restaurants, recreation centers and the various town centers. As a bonus, our home had a swimming pool, hot tub, fire pit and small game room, so we had a lot to entertain ourselves with if we didn't feel like going out.

There are over 1,000 clubs, so if you are bored that is totally on you. It's like summer camp on steroids. Many people buy in there due to all the golf courses, which are free or very low cost to play on. We are not golfers, but we saw tons of people on the pickleball courts, tennis courts and softball fields. We did not see a lot of walkers, and one thing that surprised me was the lack of sidewalks. You have to walk on the golf cart paths, which also carry bicyclists. That seems a little dangerous, and maybe that is why not too many people were walking.

Overall we had a very nice time, and met some great people on the pickleball courts. We played at four of the different recreation centers. We also visited two of the town centers and enjoyed listening to live music, which happens every night at all the town centers. It was nice that we could get to the grocery store and multiple restaurants in less than 10 minutes in the golf cart.

While I would not personally want to live there full-time because it is so huge and lacks the sense of community that we have here, I definitely would consider going back especially if another couple joined us.

The Villages

Friday, February 2, 2024

Squeamish over Squamous

squamous cell carcinoma
My biopsy report came back Wednesday, and as expected the spot on my arm was positive for cancer. This time it is another squamous cell. Of my 19 skin cancer diagnoses, 4 have been squamous cell and the rest have been basal cell.

Dr. Seminara offered me two choices for taking care of this spot. The first is to do an ED&C like she did to the two basal cells on my neck in April of last year. That was no fun since the cells are just scraped off and no stitches are given. They took quite a while to heal, and as I am allergic to the adhesive in bandages that made dealing with open wounds problematic. The second choice is to do a deep burn on the spot with liquid nitrogen followed by a topical skin cancer cream. The success rate is in the 96th percentile with the first option and in the 84th percentile with the second. 

On one other occasion I was prescribed a topical cancer cream to use on my forehead. Let alone making my forehead swell so much I could barely see, it burned a lot and made me sicker than a dog. I thought I had the flu until my husband pointed out that I was sick on each day I used the cream, but started feeling better on the off days of usage. Based on that experience, I am opting to go with the ED&C again. I am waiting on the dermatology scheduling department to call me and set the appointment.

In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy watching the sun from the shade of my back porch.

Mountain Island Lake

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Dark Side of the Sun

sun damage
When I was growing up we played outside all the time. After all, there was no air conditioning in the house, so at least being outdoors with friends made us forget the heat. There was also no sunblock available, at least at my house. Through the years my skin has had a lot of exposure to the sun, and I have been paying for it since I got my first skin cancer diagnosis in 1992. 

Last week I went in for my six month checkup. One of the spots the doctor had frozen at my last visit has disappeared, which was great news. I pointed out some trouble spots to her, and she froze four on my right hand and one on my left temple. The temple one will bear watching. But she took a biopsy of a spot on my left arm above my elbow. 

I should have gotten the results by now, but I guess the lab is backed up. I'd like to think no news is good news, but she has been spot on (pardon the pun) when it comes to calling what she thinks is a skin cancer. But I can still hope she is wrong, I guess.

Though I am diligent now with applying sunscreen and wearing a big hat, I can't undo the damage that was done in the past. I just have to accept these continuing skin cancers as a part of my life. And hope that this one isn't number 19 for me.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Sending Out an SOS

Apple watch SOS screen
A couple years ago my Fitbit watch conked out and I replaced it with an Apple watch. I love the seamless integration of the applications, and the fact that I can sync it with my other Apple devices. It was an added plus that the Workout segment of the watch actually has a selection for playing pickleball! I use that feature many times each week.

But a weird thing happened the other night with the watch. I was laying in bed reading when all of a sudden a heard a woman say, "911 emergency. Do you need police, fire or ambulance?" What the heck? It took a minute for me to process that the voice was coming through my watch. I had to quickly tell her that my watch had made the call, and I was not in need of any emergency services. 

As I was holding my iPad in two hands at the time, obviously I did not press the SOS button. You are supposed to press the side button and hold it for five seconds in order to make the call. So how did this happen? I am not sure, but I don't want it to happen again. The 911 call centers have their hands full dealing with real emergencies. I went into my Apple watch settings and disabled the SOS feature. Hopefully I won't need it in the future.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Another Year Over

our signature cranberry cosmo
The holiday season blew by and we are rolling into the middle of January already. We had a great Christmas with the kids and their families gathering here. Our daughter was again able to work remotely, so she was here for a few weeks. It's nice to have the extra time one on one with her.

Our son, daughter-in-law and their daughter were able to spend five days with us before heading on to see family on the other side. As our granddaughter is mobile now, we had baby-proofing to do before they arrived. I was very concerned about the Christmas tree, but she really only batted a couple of low-lying ornaments. As I had made sure all the low ones were non-breakable with cloth hangers, that was no big deal. I just didn't want her to pull the tree down on top of herself. I also didn't want to be the grandma that constantly said NO. 

We took them to the Stowe Botanical Garden to see the lights. My only choice with their schedule was December 23rd, which happened to be the last night of the light show. We lucked out in that it was in the low 50s, so we did not get cold. The lights were better than last year, and everyone enjoyed it.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
The day after Christmas we sent the big kids off to a movie. That gave grandma and grandpa some nice alone time with their only grandchild. She was very happy with us, and it was fun to take her for a walk in our neighborhood to show her off.

New Year's Eve our community had a party here. We didn't attend last year due to Covid, but we decided to go this year. They had a huge tent since we don't have a building large enough to house a big party, complete with a red carpet for us to walk down. Our picture is washed out due to the lighting, unfortunately. There was a second tent for the food, and there was also an eight piece band. It was a really nice way to ring in the new year. We are looking forward to seeing what 2024 will bring us.