Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sheer Decadence ~ Mar 30, 2013

We watched a Bay Bridge Series game last night (Spring training games with SF Giants and Oakland A's) and when the commercial breaks came on we switched over the Food Network to catch Guy Fieri's "Diner, Drive-ins and Dives". We're  heading out on some road trips this Spring and thought we might do some homework.

He was in San Antonio, TX at the Magnolia Pancake Haus when we tuned in. They were making Bacon Waffles. Oh Baby! We looked at each other and knew we had to make some for breakfast. We had a little bacon left from when company came last weekend so no better time than now!

The photo is from the Magnolia Pancake Haus
Too Easy! You just cook up 5 or 6 slices of lean bacon until it's dark and crispy, crumble it into your batter and make your waffles as you always do. We covered ours with slices of fresh strawberries and a little syrup, but as you can see the options are endless. Enjoy!

As I was writing the blog, my neighbor Andrea called to chat and I told her about our discovery. She commented she best enjoy from afar: dangerous combo with questionable health consequences. We both laughed and decided once in a while might be acceptable.

So then I walk back into the house at Rod is watching a show on PBS called "Protect Your Memory". There are three main points: Skip Bad Fats, Knock out Free Radicals, and Exercise your Brain. Oh Boy, common sense rears up to slap you on the back of the head Gibbs Style. Time for a compromise.

Isabella Takes a Chance
Life is short: take a chance, dance with abandon, jump for joy, follow your passions and decide it's okay to have something decadent like bacon waffles once in a great while.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rainy Days ~ March 28, 2013

When it rains incessantly for most of a week, like it did in late November, we got to spend time inside with no promises to keep: making soup, reading, playing cribbage, and day dreaming. The sky rumbling through poetic changes of dark and light.

The deluges periodically gave way to mist or light showers and out we'd go in full combat rain gear. Children in adult suits: playing in puddles and getting dirty, channeling small rivers and directing runoff from the neighboring vineyard.

A couple of weeks ago I was over at my neighbor's helping her organize her new pantry. In the back of a cupboard we found a collection of wildflower seeds in small net bags that had been favors at her wedding up here in July 2005. Andrea doesn't believe in expiration dates so we cut open all the little bags and split the bounty. I brought about 4 cups home with no game plan.

The last couple of days we've had intermittent showers: perfect for settling road dust, treating the orchids to a rainwater shower and maybe sowing some seeds.

The weather held yesterday so Tractor Boy decided he was going to dig out all the papyrus grass (invasive species) and smooth out the slope off the driveway so we could see the gardens from the living room. I'm thinking perfect place to scatter wildflower seeds.

This morning, in a misting rain we raked this patch smooth, sprinkled seeds about and covered the area with compost. Time will tell, but in 4-6 weeks we should see some results.

Our Bartlett pear on the driveway just burst into bloom this morning, amazing what a little moisture and sunshine will bring.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Deja Vous ~ Mar 23, 2013

So you don't know what you don't know until something brings what you don't know to light. One thing for sure ~ life is full of surprises! My doc has been concerned about my low platelet count and a recent CT scan and biopsy revealed a walnut sized growth on my liver called an Hepatocellular Carcinoma. The good news is that it has nothing to do with the breast cancer journey of 2011.

The cause, more often then not, is the result of chronic infection of the liver. Most people don't know they have a problem until liver damage shows up decades later, during routine medical tests. In 1990 doctors at Kaiser were reviewing a sonogram of my right kidney and noticed shadows on my liver that didn't look normal. They kept digging and discovered I had two chronic conditions, a dastardly duo I've dubbed Bevis and Butthead.

First: a not so rare hereditary disorder called Hemochromastosis that causes your body to absorb too much iron from the food you eat. The excess iron is stored in organs, especially the liver and heart and can lead to health problems. It's treated by removing blood (phlebotomy) which signals your body create new blood and thus pull iron stores from organs. I've always had a fascination with all things rusty, just never knew it was in my genes!

Fine Art Nature Photography Wagon Wheels Fine Art photography 8X12 print
Wagon Wheels

Second: Hepatitis C (HCV) which is a viral infection that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. I am not in any of the usual risk groups so I have no idea how this bad boy hitched a ride on my cosmic wagon, but it is what it is. As with Hemochromatosis, most people infected with HCV have no symptoms.
Due to the location of the tumor, near the hepatic vein and artery, surgery to remove it and part of the upper right lobe of my liver may not be an option. The surgical team I met with at Kaiser in SF felt my best option was a liver transplant. Say What? Who wrote this script anyway?

Say What...8 x 10 glossy print
Say What
What came next? Got to make sure the patient is a good risk so I just finished the most thorough battery of tests known to mankind (I'm ready for my close ups Mr. Demille). There isn't a part of my body that hasn't seen light of day, so to speak. Bone, chest, liver, and heart scans, a myriad of blood tests, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. These last few weeks have been a pain in the butt, but it's great to have an inventory of all the body parts that are healthy and working at my age.

Jump For Joy Original Painting Figure Art Sunset Silhoette Dancer Landscape On Canvas
Jump for Joy

The Journey Begins: My case was submitted to the local Kaiser Transplant Committee and was approved on February 26th. All of my tests were forwarded to the UCSF Transplant Center. On April 8th we'll spend all day at UCSF for an in depth evaluation and meetings with a number of specialists. Sometime during the two weeks following we'll be contacted with their decision. If I do get listed, there is a 1.5 to 2 year waiting list. There are, however, options available to keep the tumor in check during that time. If I don't qualify for a transplant, we'll start researching Plan B.

I'm feeling fine and my take is, in the words of Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "DON'T PANIC!" This a nine inning game and we just started spring training.

Fine Art Color Photography.  Glowing Light  calming purples dazzling yellow and red.  Sure to lighten the dharma in your karma.
Dharma Light Bomb ~ Water Lily

Needless to say, I'm once again calling all my spirit guides back from their reveries, retirement and galactic road trips to join me on this adventure. My darling husband has been my knight and my rock since we found out. Our friends and neighbors have stepped up to let us know they're ready to help with whatever we need. I'm one lucky cookie.

Once we find out my options and how short a leash I might be on, we hope to set off on a number of adventures over the next 15 months, take some time outs from all the homework that goes with this assignment. No sense in sitting around waiting, it's time to start working on the bucket list and the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Best Birthday Ever ~ March 17, 2013

Ken and Betty, pals from the Boise contingent are in town staying with our friend Carol for a few days. They're in California to screen private showings of their documentary film, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor. See We decided to start the day off with what is now a tradition at our house when friends are in town ~ a designer pancake breakfast with all the trimmings.

Early afternoon Rod and I had a very special date at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone. If you've not been there, it must go on your Bucket List. Check out their website at You start by changing into a comfortable robe and sipping enzyme tea in a soothing waterfall environment while your enzyme bath is prepared: a fragrant blend of finely ground cedar, rice bran, and plant enzymes imported from Japan. The attendant digs you a comfortable barcalounger shape in the sawdust mixture with support for neck, back and knees, then buries you up to your chest. She periodically brings cold wash clothes for your brow and drinking water during your session. Ahhhhh!

Once you brush off the sawdust and shower it's time to head upstairs for a long massage in a comfortable environment with music softly playing in the background. We were grinning from ear to ear we met downstairs: all our aches and pains had vanished, heads were clear, we kind of felt like de-boned chickens. Can you spell mellow?

Once home we changed clothes and headed down to Carol's house for a pot luck with Ken, Betty and our friend Bill. Hors d'oeuvres, lasagna, salad, blackberry pie with candles and vanilla ice cream. We spent hours around the table swapping stories, telling tales and laughing. We excused ourselves about 9pm and toddled home. Needless to say we slept like logs.

Birthday Bouquets from Rod and Carol and stunning greenish Calla Lilies from Mike and Susi next door.

A very special heart shaped rock that Ken and Betty brought back from New Brunswick for me. They didn't know it at the time but my Scottish ancestors landed there on their first stop in the new world. We're adding the Maritime Provinces of Canada to our Bucket List.
So there you go, best birthday ever celebrated with friends nearby and cards and wishes from around the world. Life is good and we have no promises to keep today, so it's time to get off our asses for a long walk. We have a new tool on our Iphones from Kaiser that tracks miles, time, calories and GPS map of where you've walked. Small and useful wonders.