News Blog: Art, Family & Friends









= Ovarian Cancer Journey =

Note: I have chronicled this Ovarian Cancer recovery journey from the beginning. Because this has been going on since February of 2012, I have set it up as a 2-section MS Word book.
I hope what I went through will help someone else along the way!


= Regular News =

April 2017

This year has already screamed by at a blur! So much has happened that it's hard to fathom it all. During early springtime we had a "reverse hurricane" come through here, taking its sweet ol' time and keeping me in lots of pain for a couple of weeks till it finally dwaddled out into the Atlantic. Then focused on my goals on top of the volunteer and paid work I do every week, and the beginnings of a new Village Voices project. First goal was to purchase a woman's bike sometime this year. That happened in January! On a whim I went to the Village's Twice Nice Furniture on the bus to look for a microwave cart, walked in the door, and there she was...dark blue Huffy gently used beach cruiser - one speed - exactly what I was looking for. $50.00. I'd been pricing so told them it was mine! They delivered the next morning! Check off first item.

Second item was to start finding replacement specialists here. First on the list was a new rheumatologist. I'd tried for nearly a year to get an appointment with one in Tallahassee, but they got so they wouldn't even take my calls! My Dr Beth suggested Dr. Tidmore in Valdosta, GA, so after discussing it with my friend Rosemary, who also felt she needed a rheumatologist, we both sought to get referrals. She got hers first, so I "drove" there on Google Earth's street view the night before her appointment. The next morning we snuck across state lines - back into Georgia - and found his office like I'd been driving it all my life. Went in with her, and was impressed. When I got my appointment, he took time with me to discuss different options for pain meds and said we could start on one med and if it didn't work, work on the other options. He thinks I have poly myalgia rheumatica instead of fibromyalgia, but the only way to test for it is to "adjust" my Prednizone dosage, which I'm doing for 6 weeks. He put me on duloxetine and even the first day I could tell a difference in the knee pain! It's been a blessing to be without pain for the first time in over 20 years!

Also went to the dentist who is here and got my teeth cleaned. I need 3 crowns - two to be replaced, and one on a back tooth that is 99 44/100 filling! Will probably start on that in a few months. Also need to see an opthomologist, but already know who I want to see. Lastly I need to see a dermatologist and also know who I want to see!

I have been totally amazed how my creativity has literally exploded here! Everything I see my brain turns into either a cartoon or a painting, depending on the context. We all get a good laugh because I HAVE to share the cartoon images with everyone within ear-shot. I guess I've become the mouth of the south! Ha! But having tons of fun making folks either laugh, or feel better. It's a greater blessing for me than them.

The real biggie is that I am moving! I know there's an old TV show about "Movin' on Up." Well, I'm movin' on down! To the first floor and a handicap accessible apartment! Yay! A real shower at last. This one even has an open space under the kitchen sink where I can sit on my walker to do dishes! Yes, I have a walker given to me, but I only use it to haul things on. I prefer using both canes to walk, and since the knees are doing so much better, I've speeded up dramatically. Might even get caught for speeding! Moving date is April 26-27. Daughter's coming down to help that week. Have a lot of friends here who have offered to help, so we'll probably look like a line of ants at a picnic table scurrying to and fro.

And lastly - I have been sweating profusely since I moved here - even in the winter! I figured something was wrong with me, but then I saw this today and that just explains everything!

Until next update . . .


January 2017

A brand new year made it here before I got the chance to update the remainder of 2016. And it's already proving to be a busier start to what looks to be a busier year heading this way than last year! We're still seeing the effects of Hurricane Hermine around the village. The landscaping crew did a good job of cleaning up, but there are still broken trees - and missing trees - that have changed the landscape here for years to come.

I've babysat my "nephew" Nimbus a couple of times this past fall. His most favorite game is chasing paper balls that I make. I can keep him busy for at least a half hour before he tires of it.

I was able to complete another color pencil. This one was a bit of a fantasy, brought on by all the colorful dragon flies this past fall. I'm almost finished with a second one as a match to this one, which is titled, "Once Upon A Time." It was fun to do, and am enjoying the second one as well - working on it during Artists Workshop times.

I was asked to do a couple of pen and inks for the Village, by my "boss" James. They wanted to use them on Christmas cards, so I happily dove into the project. It had been awhile since I'd done any inks, and the first time in all my years on the planet to do a Christmas tree in pen and ink! This is the first of the two that I did. I did the house and tree, scanned them into the computer, dropped them on a black background (at their request), and made the stars in Photoshop. I'm really pleased with it, as is my boss.

This second one is of the annual Christmas Tree Lighting the second Sunday each December. The children are asked to reach up and pull the (imaginary) cord to turn on the tree. My friend, Don Mott, loaned me several of his photos of previous years to use as reference material, so I drew it using the references. I had drawn an imaginary cord in pen and ink but wasn't happy with it, so when I dropped it on the black background, I made the cord out of stars in Photoshop. I even got my Christmas card with this image on the front that the Village sends out to members each Christmas. These two pen and inks have given me a hankering to get back into the medium, so when I'm finished with the current color pencil, will get back to inks again.

This Christmas I was a bit more prepared to photograph how great the Village does decorating for the holidays, so was able to photograph a lot more than last year.

My friends Chuck & Peggy Eckel were part of the living nativity the Village put on in December. I was able to film the whole half hour program.

Christmas lights on Lake Aquilla.

Christmas lights in front of Dowling House.

There is a unique piece of furniture as you walk through the front door to the Info Center. They had a nice Christmas display, and I decided one day to photograph it. I stood at the corner of the hall, and as I was getting ready to photograph it, a gentleman walked past me and down the hall with a Santa hat on. I was able to capture it in this image!

It was quite interesting that we didn't get peak fall color this year until Christmas! Caught this while walking along the river on my way to the Village Square.

More fall color in December - and no, it is not Photoshopped. It's raw color just as I took it.

Went down to Bonita for Christmas to spend with my family there. Can't get over how big my grand-nephews have gotten! Cole, Wilma and Adam - 3 generations.

Spent Christmas lunch at David & Amber's before heading back home. Risa and Wanda smiling for a photo.

And last but not least . . . I got the greatest compliment from two highly-regarded gentlemen here at the Village who are both my great photography mentors. Our two leaders of the Shutterbug Club, Gary Kueppers and Don Mott both told me I have a good eye for photographic composition. As Gary said, "You have The Eye!" Anyway, I have been asked AGAIN to start gathering 8 photos for my second photography exhibit at the Phillips Building! The last one I focused on the sky, but this one I'm debating between flowers, scenery and the river. Hmmmmm.


September 2016

Not long after getting back home and back to what passes for normal 'round here, Hurricane Hermine decided to drop by for a visit. Fortunately it was only a category 1. If you look way down towards the bottom of the news page, you'll see the Coi Pond the way it was when I moved here. Several of the trees uprooted in the wind, including the big weeping willow. It looks pretty naked around the pond right now.

The way it used to look before Hermine...

Fortunately no one was hurt and things can be replaced and trees replanted. It didn't do any damage to the Carter House courtyard, which still looked pretty good afterwards.


August 2016

After planning and saving for a year, my daughter and I went to Pennsylvania to share in my Grandmother's 100th. birthday celebration. Nearly the whole family was there - aunts and uncles I'd not seen in nearly 20 years, cousins I hadn't seen since I was 9 years old, and a bunch of cousins I'd never met! It was a mountain-top experience to visit with family and enjoy honoring Grandma for this milestone.

Grandma's birthday party - awesome at 100 years old!

The best big rig on the whole trip!


June 2016

I'm going to have to slow down a bit if I'm going to get my news page updated more often! I've been running so hard that I'm going to catch and run over myself if I don't watch it.

I have finally learned enough of Adobe Premier that I am now editing the weekly Tuesday Bible study program. It takes me 2 hours now - down from 5 or 6, and have already run into the challenge of having the pastor go either way under or way over time. It's also been fun to start working on a series of "shorts" which are little videos that can be used as fillers in between programs when they run under time. One of these days I'll remember my camera and will get a screen shot or two.

Back in January I was tickled to get my own photo show in the Phillips Building hall. It's a rotating exhibit by different Shutterbug Club members. It's comprised of the photos I'd taken around the Village during the year. I had to take a photo of my photo show! 

I've become an aunt - Aunt Grammy to be exact. Since my daughter had once said that her cat was my Grandcat, I started calling myself Grammy to our cats. My dear friend Rosemary had adopted a cutie named Nimbus, so this is my new nephmew.

I'm allllmost completely settled in. Got my paintings hung mid-May. Now all I need to finish everything is getting my curtains hung. Have been just too busy with volunteer work, gym, and work plus helping folks to take the time and get it done. Perhaps mid-summer when it's steamy outside. Oh, wait - that's now! Anyone have a round tuit I can borrow?

Of course, the sky continues to amaze me. I've gotten several beautiful photos of sunrises outside of my studio window. The wildflowers were just awesome this year! Way more of them than last year and they lasted longer. I have been posting photos on my Facebook page, but will try to keep up my news page. At least being extremely busy has so far kept me out of trouble.


December 2015

Wow! It's been a whole 6 months since I moved here, but it only feels like 6 weeks! I've gotten pretty involved with the Artists Workshop, the Shutterbug Club and am learning Adobe Premier for TV2, which will be my main volunteer work.

At the end of September, I decided to check out the Village's Twice-Nice Furniture store to see if I could find one more piece of furniture that would double as storage. I was down to 5 boxes, but had no more room to put anything. When I got out there, discovered a really nice dresser, so measured it and told them I wanted it, but it would depend on if it would fit or not in my space. When I got back, it fit! So I got on the last bus and headed out there, since he had a volunteer there who needed a ride home. Tad is great with wood so I asked him to look at it for me. He said it was a great piece - ALL wood - so I bought it. They delivered it the next morning, and I cleaned it, then filled it with the last remaining boxes . . . and YAHOO, I'm finally totally unpacked!

During October and November I helped paint cat banks for the county fire services' annual Christmas toys for needy kids here. They were fun to do, and I had a good time with some of my photos on Facebook that I took of them sitting on the table in the dark!

In the 6 months since I've arrived, I've focused on going to the gym twice a week without fail and pushing myself on the equipment. I have pretty much ditched the cane all together now. I only use it occasionally these days. The gym has been my physical therapy to get my strength and agility back and it's made a big difference! Below is my view when I'm on the exercise bike when no one's in the pool!

I've been going around photographing everything here. I have fallen in love with the Spanish Moss on the live oak trees, especially when the sun is behind it. We've even gotten some fall color here. It's been interesting to learn the seasons here - our peak fall color here seems to be when the leaves have all fallen off the trees in north Georgia.

The best part of all is that I've completed 2 color pencil paintings since I've gotten here - the first in over 6 years! The first one is called "Zinnias and Lace" and it was done start to finish in the Artists Workshop. The second one was one I'd started about 10 years ago but never finished because I was stumped at how to bring out the color, but was able to finish it after the first one. It's called "Changing of the Guard."

                           "Zinnias and Lace"

                                "Changing of the Guard"

I had forgotten how much I missed the Florida sky while living in Georgia. Every morning that I see color coming through the blinds, I check it out, and a couple of weeks ago when I opened the blinds, this is what I saw. Absolutely beautiful sun rise colors! It inspired me to combine this scene with a photographic scene I'd taken of the river and will combine the sky and river photos in acrylic for my next painting.

For Thanksgiving, I went to the Village's dinner. They had 4 settings and since my friend Rosemary was working the front desk at Carter House, we chose the 12:45 pm shift. We had 9 at our table of family and friends. I've discovered I have a cousin by marriage, and have adopted my friend Rosemary and her Mom and Aunt as part of my family here.

L-R: Joanie, Rosemary, Marian, and Carol

L-R: Cousin Gloria, Aunt Mary, Mom-June, and Christine

Now that December is here, the Village has gone bonkers decorating for Christmas! I was told by a friend that I must not sit still or I'd get decorated, too. I haven't been out at night yet - have had just too much going on - but now that the December Market Day is behind me I intend to head out at dusk with my camera and catch some of the lights and decorations.

There are several pairs of reindeer around the Village, plus trees and garlands everywhere. The night after Christmas we're signed up to take the ride-about open bus to see the Christmas lights. I might actually wear a long-sleeved shirt! It was 48 degrees for Market Day and I walked down to the square in short sleeves . . . and was STILL sweating! Since it was a clear day I actually got a good start on my farmer's tan (shoulda worn a sleeveless shirt). It was a trip riding the wheelchair hoist up to get on the shuttle bus with my cart. It was an even bigger trip going down!!!

My salt dough "gingerbread" Christmas tree ornaments - lots of fun to do!

That wraps up this news session. Wishing everyone a very blessed and wonderful Merry Christmas and a fantastically prosperous Happy New Year!


August 2015:
It's official. I am now a Florida resident. On August 6 I went to the hairdresser and had my hair cut (it was getting ridiculously long), and then walked all the way across to the front of the Village Square parking lot to the DMV bus to get my license changed from Georgia to Florida. Since I was "flagged" when I finally got up the steep steps after walking so far in the heat, I ended up waiting almost 90 minutes to finally get an approval from Tallahassee and get my license. I figured I'd wait another month if that didn't happen because it was by the skin of my teeth that I made the noon shuttle bus. I didn't want to have to sit and wait an hour in the heat for the 1:00 bus!

I asked the woman at the DMV why I was flagged and she said they were concerned that I wouldn't be able to operate a vehicle - huh??! The crazy thing? One man came in his power chair and he wasn't flagged. Hmmm. Fortunately it's over and my license is good for 8 years!

The crepe myrtles are blooming and I am so thrilled that there are so many of them all around the Village! They have all colors here. I wasn't here when the dogwoods bloomed but am looking forward to next Spring to be able to see them. By then I hope to be walking all over the place. The gym has been my God-send! It's my physical therapy and I am walking better and losing weight in the process. In fact half of one of my bucket list items has been achieved - to be able to walk up and down stairs again like a normal person! I am now bounding up the shuttle bus steps. Down stairs is still a work in progress.

The view from my window - crepe myrtles, and Lake Aquilla on the left.

My digs - still a work in progress. Down to 14 boxes to unpack!

View across Lake Aquilla to the church. What I see from the Artists' Workshop.

My first ever selfie with my new 'dopted brother, Glynn. He and his wife Mary Lou are super special!

This is one fantastic lady! Christa is my personal trainer at the gym and my one-woman cheering squad. Super to talk with and if I'm not careful, can chat with her my whole gym session. Just love her to pieces!

This guy is my link to the whole Village! Tad is our shuttle bus driver and I have adopted him, along with Christa, as one of my kids! He treats us all like his own moms and dads!

I am so excited that I have my drawing hand back! And so surprised that it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. I know this isn't an exotic still life, but you would know if I made a mistake on these subjects! Love my Artists' Workshop!

This fountain is down the road a ways from the gym and I pass it every week. I have 2 views of it - this one was from the dock, and the bottom one was from the lake shore because I spotted the rainbow in the fountain spray. When I downloaded the photos I then saw the rainbow in the top fountain, too.

Last Thursday morning I had to get my meds from the pharmacy and paperwork back to my new doc here, and since I had some time before the bus came around again, I wandered around taking photos. These are from around the medical center and Dacier Manner/Good Samaritan.

Interesting fountain out front of the medical center.

I have joined the Shutterbug Club for photographers of all types here at the Village. I was blown away on my first meeting because I never thought of photography for the sake of photography itself. I always used it to take family photos or photos for my paintings, note cards or calendars. Our two leaders, Don and Gary, started with the absolute basics and it made me focus on my new camera's settings - and I was blown away again! All the shots I've shared were just point and shoot, but now I'll start playing with settings to see just what I can get.


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