Thursday, April 29, 2010

All About Skin...

Last year I had a funny looking "freckle" on my arm. I asked my doctor about it. He took a punch biopsy and said it was nothing to worry about. I didn't think too much about it because I have a lot of freckles and moles anyway. But it bugged me, because it was larger than most and I thought it was ugly. It looked a lot like the photo below:

About six months later I noticed it was getting thicker, raised up more from the skin. So I went to a dermatologist and had a more invasive biopsy. The diagnosis... melanoma. That was scary. Melanoma can kill you. Fortunately, it was what they called a "stage zero", meaning it had not spread to any other location. But it had to be cut out. That was last summer. The incision was about two inches long, and I still have a scar. It's not too bad but it is visible. It's slightly red and raised, especially at the ends. My brother-in-law, who is a surgeon, calls these raised ends "dog ears" and says they will go away in time. It's been about nine months now, and they are going away. I am still treating it with silicone, which seems to be helping.

I am writing this so you will go to a dermatologist and have him/her check any funny looking growth you may have. I feel very lucky that mine was caught before it spread.

Oh, and one more thing. Last week I had my legs waxed. I had had that done before, and at the same place and never had a problem. But this time I got a sore on my leg about 24 hours later. It was a staph infection. I went to the doctor and had it cultured. I wanted to make sure it wasn't MRSA, which is a more dangerous infection that is resistant to antibiotics. I found out it is indeed staph, but fortunately a treatable kind. So now I am taking antibiotics to get rid of it. You just never know!

Cables and Cords Are Driving Me Crazy!

I have a MacBook, an IPhone and three digital cameras. Each one came in a box. Inside each box was a myriad of cables and cords. (Also a CD... I never have figured out what the CDs are for.) The MacBook has a charger with a cord attached, and a USB cord to connect it to the printer. For the IPhone, I have a power cord to charge it inside the house, and a second one to charge it in the car. Each camera comes with some form of charger as well as cords to attach it to the computer, to the TV, and I'm not sure what else.

The problem I have is keeping track of all the cables and cords. To remember which cable belongs to which gadget. Often, trying to remember where I left the cable I need. I have had a few panicky moments when I can't find the right cord or cable when I need it.

My worst panicky moment came when I couldn't find the one below: the charger for my MacBook. As I was preparing for the carpet cleaning man to come, I moved a lot of furniture around. After he was finished, I was using my laptop when I noticed it was about to die for lack of power. I began looking for my charger... OH NO! It was gone! I looked everywhere. I called the carpet cleaner to ask if he remembered seeing it or moving it. I thought about driving two hours up and back to the Apple Store to buy another one. Did they even have them on hand? How much would it cost? In the meantime, I was facing lack of use of my computer... OH NO! I got so desperate that I went on Ebay to look for a replacement. I found one and ordered it. I resigned myself to not using my computer for a week or so until it arrived.

Guess what? Later that same day I found it... of course! It was plugged in to the wall in one of the bedrooms, and covered up by some boxes stacked in front of it.

This post occurred to me this morning because I couldn't find the charger for my IPhone. I thought I would have to take the phone out to the car and drive around to charge it with the car charger. But... I finally found it! I always do, but it still drives me crazy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I've Been Reading

I recently found two novels that really held my interest. The first is The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soii. It's about a female photojournalist covering the War in Vietnam. I found it riveting.

The second, with a totally different setting and feeling, is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. It was entertaining with a hint of mystery.

Other than reading, I've been going to the dentist, cooking with my new panini grill, pulling weeds, and babysitting my nieces. We are very much enjoying Spring weather!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Souvenirs from the Sea

More than once, I have spoken here of my love of the ocean. Born and raised in the Midwest, I never saw the ocean until I was fourteen years old. We took a family vacation to Jekyll Island. I never wanted to leave. I loved the smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves. I loved the idea of being on an island, surrounded by water. Later, when my husband and I took a trip to the Cayman Islands, we had a room right on the beach. I loved falling asleep to the sound of the surf. When I am near the ocean I don't have to do anything else but sit and watch it all day. I never get tired of it.

I still haven't managed to find my home by the sea. I still live in a landlocked state. So, I try to bring as much of the ocean into my world as I can. One way is through sea glass. I discovered sea glass fairly recently. I received a small amount from a fellow blogger. I put it in a transparent blue dish in my bedroom, and thought of the ocean every time I saw it. Then I found some framed photos of sea glass. I began collecting sea glass wherever I could find it. I have little dishes of it sitting around. I have arrangements of it with candles in the middle. The colors, as in the photo above, remind me of the sea.

I also love sea shells. Every time we go to the beach I pick up sea shells. I have dishes and bottles filled with them. I place them all around the house and outside on the deck.

It doesn't stop there. I have also collected pebbles along the beach. Smooth, roundish pebbles, some with variegated colors. I have them in shallow baskets, mixed in with shells and little bits of coral.

I don't live by the sea, but I do have many reminders in my surroundings.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My New Guilty Pleasure

HGTV has a new show... it's called "Selling New York". The series follows two high-end real estate firms in New York City. They sell luxury properties in New York. For me, it's a glimpse into another world.

These apartments sell in the millions of dollars. They rent for $20,000 to $30,000 per month. What do you get for $30,000 a month? Well, you can see it here! Fascinating!

The people who sell these properties look like socialites themselves. All are thin, coifed, and dressed to the nines. They don't look like Hollywood types, though. Not the bleached blonde, puffy lipped, super-bosomy types at all. They look sleek and classy. It's nice for a change. I think I prefer a New York vibe to a Hollywood vibe. Not that I could afford either!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Redbuds and Ponies... It's Spring!

Not much is happening here these days. We are just enjoying spring weather, the period before it becomes hot and humid. It's sunny and in the sixties and seventies. One of my favorite things here is the blooming of the redbud trees. When I was little, I loved the lilacs that grew in our back yard. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I loved the azaleas that grew everywhere. Here in Kentucky, I enjoy the dogwoods and the redbud trees. It's all beautiful!

Also, the ponies come back in the spring. There is a farm adjacent to our neighborhood, where they keep horses. They will come up to the fence when people walk by. This photo is one I took last year, along the walking path in our neighborhood.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Daniel Came Back!

Daniel Faraday, the lovable nerd, the brainy, bumbling physicist on "Lost". He was my favorite character. I loved the halting, whispery way he spoke, and the way he was played by Jeremy Davies. I was crushed when he was killed... shot by his own mother on the Island.

But this season he came back! Back in the "alternate universe". Now he is a musician, not a physicist, and his name is Daniel Widmore. If you don't watch "Lost" this won't make any sense. (I watch every episode and I'm not sure it makes sense to me... but we "Lost" fans are good at suspending disbelief.)

I've been reading about the upcoming finale, and it sounds like Daniel will be there. Hooray!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where I Want To Be

In 1992 we took a vacation on a chartered yacht in the British Virgin Islands. That was paradise for me. I love the BVI; Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada. Every morning rising with the sun. Every night on deck with the incredibly starry sky above. That is life at its best for me. No, I don't have to be on a yacht; that was a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. But I do need to be near the sea.

I was born in Ohio, a landlocked state. I've been landlocked all my life, except for brief vacations. I want to live near the sea more than anything else in the world. I feel like I am wasting time here, and I need to be somewhere else. Before my life is over. The British Virgin Islands. Hawaii. My mind and my spirit are in a different place.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Panini... My Newest Inspiration

During our recent trip to Italy, I tried my first real panini. I really liked it! Theirs had prosciutto, provolone, and basil. When I got home, I found a panini cookbook. I was surprised at the variety of fillings. Apples, goat cheese, shrimp, salmon... even pb&j. I saw a panini press in my Williams Sonoma catalog... on sale! With free shipping! I went online and ordered it. I don't very often order a new appliance or gadget because I don't have much space in my kitchen. But this one held too much promise for me to pass it up.

My panini press arrived today. I am really excited to get started using it. I needed some inspiration to cook... after all the Easter cooking I was a little bit burned out on cooking. I have recently discovered a favorite new ingredient, though... bok choy. Tonight I cooked scallops and served them on a bed of sauteed bok choy. It's crunchy and tasty. I sprinkle it with a little teriyaki sauce as it cooks. I needed something healthy, after pigging out on sweets during Easter!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Week Ago... Easter at My House

Easter baskets, Easter bunnies and Easter eggs:

The tables are set:

Molly in her Easter bonnet:

My sister and my niece Sarah:

This is Sarah again, channeling the Easter bunny:

Molly and Emma, cousins, with their Easter baskets:

Aubrey and Parker, more cousins. Aubrey's name came from the song "And Aubrey Was Her Name" by Bread. Parker's name is an old family name; many of our ancestors shared the name, and it was my grandfather's middle name.

This is Parker's brother, Jackson. Jackson is playing with Elmo, who came from his Easter basket.

It was a busy, fun day. I made ham, brisket, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato and butternut squash gratin, roasted asparagus and brussels sprouts, and a green salad. I made cupcakes for dessert, but most of us were just too full. So, the cupcakes went home with the guests!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Teeth

I have been to three different dentists for second opinions on having my teeth fixed. I have finally found one that I like. She is a soft-spoken lady dentist who patiently answered all my questions, gave me options where she could, and quoted me a reasonable price. So, next week I begin treatment.

My tooth problems are exacerbated by Sjogren's syndrome, sometimes known as "dry mouth". I have to be very vigilant about brushing and flossing, and use special prescription toothpaste. I try not to eat sugary foods and, if I do, go right away to use the waterpik. It's also a generational thing... I grew up before it was common practice to use fluoride treatments on children's teeth. These days it's not uncommon for a child to grow up never having a single cavity. That wasn't true with my generation. And, as some of us know, all these things seem to get worse with age. I just never want to end up like my grandmother, who kept her teeth in a jar at night!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is It Worth It?

Don't the teeth in the "after" photo look pretty? How much do you think that look is worth?

When I got home from Italy, I needed to find a dentist to permanently repair my broken tooth. I wasn't happy with the dentist I had been seeing here. A couple of months ago he had filled one of my bottom teeth. That filling came out a few weeks later as I was flossing. I went back and he replaced the filling, but it came out again as I was flossing!

I went to a local dentist that I had read about. She does both general and cosmetic dentistry. She told me the tooth that kept losing the filling was not strong enough to hold a filling, and would have to be extracted. Further, she told me that most of the crowns I already had needed to be removed and replaced with new crowns. It shocked me a bit. I wasn't having that much trouble, was I? Why hadn't any other dentist have mentioned this?

She gave me a treatment plan that would leave my teeth perfect, natural looking and pearly white, like the "after" photo above. A lot of rebuilding and crowning would be involved. I would have perfectly shaped teeth and a beautiful smile! It sounded tempting. Then she gave me the estimated cost. $26,000!

$26,000? Was that realistic? I want to keep my teeth as long as I live, I want them to be healthy. But do they need to look perfect? Would it be worth it? Yes, I would love to look like the "after" photo... but $26,000?

I am going to get a second opinion.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Did I Tell You About My Italian Tooth?

When I posted about our recent trip to Italy, I don't think I mentioned my tooth.

This is what happened. It was our first morning in Italy. We sat down to breakfast. I bit into a crunchy, crusty piece of bread and felt a funny sensation. There was a lot of crunching going on in my mouth. And then I realized... a tooth had broken off! It looked a lot like the photo above.

I knew I couldn't spend the whole week looking like a "snaggletooth" (that's what my husband was calling me!). I had recovered a large piece of the tooth, so I took it up to our room and fitted it back into place. It fit, and it looked halfway decent. I told my husband we had to find some super glue. So, we set out to find some super glue. We went to a couple of shops but they didn't understand what we were looking for. Finally, we walked into another shop and saw it on display... super glue! We went back to our room and my husband carefully glued the piece of tooth back into place. It wasn't very sturdy but it was okay until we found a better solution.

We asked the family that owns our hotel where we could find a dentist. They were so kind. They called their own dentist, who set aside time to see me. The hotel owner's brother drove me to the dentist's office. He waited while the dentist rebuilt my tooth. The dentist did a beautiful job. I told him he was an artist!

So now I have a souvenir of Italy... my Italian tooth! Alas, it's only temporary. He emphasized that I should have a permanent repair done when I get home. But the memories of the kindness with which I was treated will last.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Wishes

Yesterday I made cupcakes for Easter dinner dessert. I covered them with plastic wrap and tea towels, so I could frost them this morning. When I came out this morning, the kitties (I don't know which one, or whether it was a team effort) had knocked the pan of cupcakes upside down on the floor. Then I went into the dining room... and someone had pulled the curtains down! Not a good start to Easter Sunday with family coming for dinner, but all has been fixed now... and the cats have been banished to the basement. Photos to come as soon as I recover.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pre-Easter House

I will have twenty people at my house for Easter Sunday dinner. I have been setting up tables and moving chairs around.

The kitties have been having fun, trying out all the chairs in new places:

Pre-Easter means spring cleaning here, and the windows are open for the first time this year! The kitties love this too. Here is Tiger in his favorite dining room window:

Oh, and then Munchkin decided to try it out. Tiger is Munchkin's hero. She wants to copy everything he does.

These Easter Bunnies are ready:

Only two more days!