A MONTH OF MONDAYS


MUSINGS

Sunrise at the Beach

Sunrise at the Beach

“Monday-Monday, Can’t Trust That Day” Mamas and Papas.

A song representing the weekly grind to me.

January was a month of Mondays for me – and John was stoic through it all.

The Art Festival Job has been super demanding – we had to Jury the Artists for the show, Run the Annual Fundraiser, Secure Sponsors, Line Up Press, Design a Marketing Plan and Map out the streets for booths plus, plus, plus.  Believe me, many of those jobs will be spread out over many more months next year but for now, much loss of sleep = good progress and I think I’ve hit the crest of the rollercoaster – not for a wheeee ride down, but at least not quite the grueling slog up.

Along the way we had a bit of fun …. An Art Retrospective Opening – A Parade – A Boat Trip to the Islands

More Important – were the connection to people places and things.

There is magic to this town.

John spreading Pine straw over the back yard

John spreading Pine straw over the back yard

My dear Bud Larry - the cowboy cooker creator.

My dear Bud Larry – the cowboy cooker creator.

This is who some roll!

This is who some roll!

Sunrise at the Beach

Sunrise at the Beach

Daisy Mud Bath

Daisy Mud Bath

Although much smaller than New Hope – it is busier – buzzier – and much more friendly.

There is time for conversation – real, face to face talk.

First Draft of the Cracker House.

First Draft of the Cracker House.

Donna Leeward Paints for her contribution to the Art Festival Fundraiser

Donna Leeward Paints for her contribution to the Art Festival Fundraiser

There is place to pause, experiencing the beauty, the elements, the oddities.

There is heart and soul evident in every person we meet – without the northeast barriers to friendship.

We wave to each other as we pass in cars, on bikes, walking, in a golf cart.  (Lets call them Gulf Carts!)

Linda Seyfert cuddling with Daisy on the Couch.

Linda Seyfert cuddling with Daisy on the Couch.

Spirit Day at the HS - were the Senior Cross Dress for a Pagent show.

Spirit Day at the HS – were the Senior Cross Dress for a Pagent show.

We finally got the NYT’s delivered on Sunday – and I really didn’t care.  The style section, which was my go-to-first – bored me.

Who cares what style hats they are wearing in New York City – especially when most looked like vintage Annie Hall and some were hats I wore in the 1980’s?  Who cares about the self proclaimed and self anointed fashionistas?  I’m too busy seeing what SARAH created out of consignment store finds.  Beautiful clothes she creates and wears – talk about Self-Actualization!

Then we experienced the intrusion of the superbowl  …. oooph – the commercials and the pushy pageantry felt like an overwhelming assault.

We really are on a foreign island – connected by a bridge that we don’t long to cross. (OK, except for Trader Joes in Gainesville –  that exception I do make.)

During the month I watched the TV Series “WORLD WITHOUT END”, set in the 1300’s I believe – where the church and royalty were corrupt and selfishly driven.  I saw a lot of parallels to modern day society and wondered just how much progress have we actually made as the human species.  If our TV programs are the harbinger, then we seem to have made precious little progress over the last 2000 years – excepting our sanitation and transportation system. Everything else is “wash, rinse, repeat”

As Humans, our social structures echo the Feudal Lords, Roman Gladiators and Controlling Religious Entities.

It begs the question: WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH OUR TIME HERE ON EARTH?”

Our answer to that question for the month of January is: CONNECTING AND CREATING

John has made good progress on the model Chris-Craft boat Billy gave him so many years ago.

He’s also begun several other art projects.  Thank god he can keep himself entertained.

When I can get out of the “office” (second bedroom with a table and all my files spread out on the bed”) I connect at the free yoga class twice a week and an hour-long morning walks in the scrub and on my bike, riding to town to fulfill errands and on the streets and park – there is always someone to meet and greet on the streets and everyday in the park, where daisy entertains by doing what she loves, chasing the ball.

That’s where I take a breath – looking at a big sky and placid gulf.  Soothing, soothing, soothing.

ACTIVITIES

Jan 18 – The Art Retrospective of Chick Schwartz was amazing.  Ocala FL is about half way across the state. Appleton Museum is swanky.  Chick’s Art is amazing (Chick is our neighbor – an un-repressed creative soul who makes amazing 3-d paintings, bronze sculptures, found object sculptures and is always tinkering…. we hear his shuffling feet each day as he continues to work in his “shop” which is the open air space beneath his house (13 feet in the air) .  The gathering at the Appleton was delicious – many Cedar Key folks attended – all dressed in their finery.  It was exciting and felt …. well, when I asked John what it felt like to him, he said: PARIS SOCIETY, 1920.  YES!  That is what it felt like and it does apply to Cedar Key — Accomplished and emerging and wanna be artists of all disciplines gathering to feed their creative souls –

Here’s what we saw at the Opening Night:

Chris Reynolds, his gorgeous wife Linda Seyfert and My hub John

Chris Reynolds, his gorgeous wife Linda Seyfert and My hub John

On our way to Ocala Art Show -passing through Marion County BIG HORSE COUNTRY

On our way to Ocala Art Show -passing through Marion County BIG HORSE COUNTRY

Artist Examining his Work

Artist Examining his Work

Chick Schwartz and Laura Matson Hahn by his work: Angles on the Head of a Pin

Chick Schwartz and Laura Matson Hahn by his work: Angles on the Head of a Pin

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Is everyone avoiding the Big Fish in the center of the room?

Is everyone avoiding the Big Fish in the center of the room?

Salute!

Salute!

Jockey Ho!

Jockey Ho!

There's a light in the back!

There’s a light in the back!

Kathy Fotterall and Chick conspire to look natural

Kathy Fotterall and Chick conspire to look natural

Carol and Chick's Lovely Wife Marsha! (Gertrude to us)

Carol and Chick’s Lovely Wife Marsha! (Gertrude to us)

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Martin and Lonna Dickenson - all dressed up!! my my

Martin and Lonna Dickenson – all dressed up!! my my

Marsha Schwarts - proud wife of the celebrated artist.  And a fantastic artist herself.

Marsha Schwarts – proud wife of the celebrated artist. And a fantastic artist herself.

Bev and Stanley

Bev and Stanley

Ze Artist Celeb - Chick Schwartz

Ze Artist Celeb – Chick Schwartz

Jan 24: The Parade for the Homecoming Week at the school is an annual event and they year,  Council Woman Sue Collins wanted everyone IN the parade “like one long conga line”. So the OFCA (Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Festival) joined in – making BIG RED our float.  Linda Seyfert came over – squeezing in some time – to do the art for our Frame – and Suzanne and Lauren Krieble found decorations at the Dollar Store (we knew Suzanne could pull this off from her many years in sorority life)  During the Parade, John used the loud speaker system (thank you Frank Deluca) to play “76 Trombones” all through the route. Four of us marched in front of the truck with dogs,  and John noticed people kept looking for the band.  WE were the Band.  It was Fun!

Sue Collins shark-fitted her gulf cart!

Sue Collins shark-fitted her gulf cart!

Masks are fun

Masks are fun

76 Trombones is blasting out the loud speakers

76 Trombones is blasting out the loud speakers

Well Done, Suzanne

Well Done, Suzanne

Viola! We Heart Art and Sharks (mascot)

Viola! We Heart Art and Sharks (mascot)

Lauren Kieble adds some touches

Lauren Kieble adds some touches

Suzanne Kreible leads John in the decoration

Suzanne Kreible leads John in the decoration

Linda creating the frame for the Truck Float.  Suzanne appreciating her finesse

Linda creating the frame for the Truck Float. Suzanne appreciating her finesse

Jan 26: Bev Ringenberg – my go to girl for all things art festival – invited John and I to join them in a boat cruise she’d put together for her family – son, daughter-in-law, cousin Joe (who would be playing at the fundraiser) his wife and sister.  SOOOO nice to get onto the water cruising the bay – stopping on North Key – Touring Atsena Otie – where a graveyard from the 1800’s still exists… it was once THE inhabited Island – until a horrible storm nearly swept everyone away. That’s when they moved buildings to the main island we now call Cedar Key.

It's been battered but still here!

It’s been battered but still here!

Backside of North Key

Backside of North Key

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J-A-N-U-A-R-Y (hehe)

J-A-N-U-A-R-Y (hehe)

Gnarly Sea Monsters

Gnarly Sea Monsters

Visceral Serenity

Visceral Serenity

Sea Horse Key

Sea Horse Key

Dog gone day. Too bad Daisy didn't come too.

Dog gone day. Too bad Daisy didn’t come too.

whoop whoop

whoop whoop

Cormorant

Cormorant

Dock to Atsena Otie Key

Dock to Atsena Otie Key

Grave site on Atsena Otie

Grave site on Atsena Otie

Fenced Grave site

Fenced Grave site

Searching for the birds

Searching for the birds

Jan 27: The Fundraiser was a great community success.  We incorporated Storytellers along with the music afternoon and it was a big hit! Bill Roberts is a beloved “cracker cowboy”, fishing guide and artist – he told some of his cowboy stories, rounding up wild cattle in Florida. Russ Weaver, another artist sketched faces throughout the day. Toni Collins, historian storyteller, shared knowledge of the lighthouse occupants on Seahorse Key – when it was operational in the 1800’s.  And musician Joe Peters played beautifully!  Good fun. Great Fundraiser. and Good silent art auction – to which we heavily contributed.

sketches of the crowd

sketches of the crowd

Tony - the husband of the Mosaic Artist Valerie (who's piece I won in the silent auction)

Tony – the husband of the Mosaic Artist Valerie (who’s piece I won in the silent auction)

Love Bill's leg sticking out here

Love Bill’s leg sticking out here

Ton Collins as the LADY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE

Ton Collins as the LADY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE

Joe Peter's soothing music

Joe Peter’s soothing music

Shannon and MANDY - my coordinator predecessor (what a help she has been)

Shannon and MANDY – my coordinator predecessor (what a help she has been)

My Festival Team!

My Festival Team!

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There is nothing boring or retiring about this little island.

We treasure our days – even our sleepless ones – and can’t wait to see what comes up next!

Happiness to you.

Love, Laura, John and Daisy

HEY – one more note – it takes a lot of effort to put this blog together – especially when I’m to the wall with my job.  So please, take a moment and respond – at least push a LIKE Button!  Merci.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Oh, Hello!

Oh, Hello!

Stone Crab Supper at Home

Stone Crab Supper at Home

Snuggling with Daisy in my new Cedar Key skull cap!  It was cold!!!

Snuggling with Daisy in my new Cedar Key skull cap! It was cold!!!

DEEELICIOUS homemade cheesecake from Linda and Chris

DEEELICIOUS homemade cheesecake from Linda and Chris

Happy Daisy

Happy Daisy

First Fire - the season has begun!

First Fire – the season has begun!

CHRISTMAS IN CEDAR KEY

We have ourselves some treats and received some too … stone crab supper … funny gifts to each other … cheesecake from Linda Seyfert and her hubby Chris Reynolds (OMG Deelish) and enjoyed getting used to our new surroundings, again.
Then Came John’s Birthday. Dec 28th

After a LOOOOONG day shopping in Gainesville – we stopped to get gas b/f heading home. Daisy needed a stretch so I walked her toward the Waffle House (classic – no?) and then saw the Japanese Steak house up the hill – Would John like to go there? Have a martini and some steak. We were both pretty fried from the day.

YES! He said and we entered another surprise.

John's BD Dinner - Japanese Steak House and Sushi

John’s BD Dinner – Japanese Steak House and Sushi

Sushi for Me - Steak for U

Sushi for Me – Steak for U

John got a FREE Meal b/c it was his actual BD

John got a FREE Meal b/c it was his actual BD

044-cedar key Jan 2013 two 044

Terrific Martinis - but olives and a twist?  Unusual

Terrific Martinis – but olives and a twist? Unusual

Saw this waffle house when we stopped to get gas in Gainesville

Saw this waffle house when we stopped to get gas in Gainesville

Then Came New Years Eve – which we don’t care about at all. Had a home meal with Suzanne and Jeff and then went to bed early – to start 2013 fresh!

But NEW YEARS DAY became a better tradition!

Linda Seyfert and her wonderful Hubby Chris Reynolds – transplanted Long Islanders in the Clam Business – hosted a New Years Day Supper in their beautiful home overlooking the sea bay.

What a spread of food!  All Fish for good luck.

Met their friends Paul and Diana – Christine Ford – and their Kids Chloe and Ridley zipped in and out and we brought along Jeff and Suzanne!

Talk, Eat, Drinks, Jenga, Laugh and feel good was a great way to begin this year.  We are getting a homey, community feeling on day one!

Happy New Year to each of you! Sorry these pics are all spread out. I don’t know how to control the layout on this blog!  Any pointers welcome!

Love to all – Laura & John & Daisy whooping it up in Cedar Key!

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Jeff is Jangled by Jenga

Jeff is Jangled by Jenga

Chris is a cunning strategist in Jenga

Chris is a cunning strategist in Jenga

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Turns out, Suzanne is quite the Jenga Player, too!

Turns out, Suzanne is quite the Jenga Player, too!

Paul really dug John's virgin bloody mary!

Paul really dug John’s virgin bloody mary!

Linda Seyfert - once a model, always a model!

Linda Seyfert – once a model, always a model!

Linda's awesome clam chowder - I need lessons

Linda’s awesome clam chowder – I need lessons

John's awesome bloody marys!

John’s awesome bloody marys!

Linda puts out a spread to beat the band!

Linda puts out a spread to beat the band!

More Cheese Cake

More Cheese Cake

Porch overlooking the water in Rye Key

Porch overlooking the water in Rye Key

My rice-veggy salad echoed the fish theme on New Years Day

My rice-veggy salad echoed the fish theme on New Years Day

SunSet Rye Key - Linda & Chris's wonderful home

SunSet Rye Key – Linda & Chris’s wonderful home

WELCOME, AGAIN: Cedar Key– 2 Point – OH!


HELLO, HELLO – CEDAR KEY 2.0!

BACKGROUND: For five years, John and I flew over the NW section of FL on our way home from Sarasota, FL. Soon after wheels up in Tampa,  the land below would become a vast, empty space with nothing but wiggly roads.  It inexplicably beckoned me. Pressing my face to the airplane window, studying that empty space, I felt a longing, a tugging to explore that territory. Finally, happenstance brought us there –  to Cedar Key – in the middle of a seemingly empty coastline. My longing did not get us here. My longing gave me a direction and a dream. How it all came to fruition was the surprise … and the surprise continues to unfold.

After a glorious three months in Cedar Key last year, during which I felt I’d found my tribe, I was then offered the Job as Event Coordinator for the April Annual Arts Festival. So our stay upped to a 5 month stay.

Art Festival Post Card

Art Festival Post Card

Like last year, we don’t know how we will feel about Cedar Key after 5 months of being very in the mix with every group in town. Nor do we know how the town will feel about us after the festival. It works both ways. So once again we dive into the unknown … with our eyes and hearts wide open.

DEPARTURE DAY: Our departure from New Hope to Cedar Key was late due to an unexpected trip John made to his daughter (Laura in VA) who  had a horrific car accident (miraculously unscathed). Then we had a great renter for the house pop up – (another Laura) – the day before we were supposed to leave. All good luck.

Driving straight down 95 was a relatively easy ride, (note the passing sights)

Piggly Wiggly - how did they come up with that supermarket name?

Piggly Wiggly – how did they come up with that supermarket name?

 What is holding them in??

What is holding them in??
I'm not moving from this bed!

I’m not moving from this bed!

until we stopped for the night in Lumberton NC – just north of the SC border – and were sorry for it.

Anynight USA

Anynight USA

I chose Motel 6 for the price and dog – never again. Besides being too spare, the location was scarey –  just off the highway, warning signs PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK and plexiglass covering the local convenience store worker. Locked behind our room door, with BIG RED just outside, we were grateful Daisy has such a BIG bark – used 4 times before we  settled and slept through the night.

The saddest thing about that area was the “HISTORIC LUMBERTON”.   As “Video Killed the Radio Store”,  Big Box and Chain Stores have certainly slaughtered small town America.  Driving into the town, off the “chain slathered highway” we saw gorgeous houses leading to a substantial 8 block downtown with terrific, turn of the century buildings – all mostly empty. Geez, it was so sad to see. It was so easy to imagine it full of citizens and society. When will the muckty-mucks of commerce wake up to the fact that COMMUNITY is the only way to build a safe, productive society – take away the center and the work = community stumbles.  Any  ideas as to how we take our Country back?

At first light we zipped out, stopping at an I-HOP in Florence SC where John got ticked off by bad service – like I rarely see. 

"We've been waiting a half hour already! Where is our Breakfast?"

“We’ve been waiting a half hour already! Where is our Breakfast?”

After that, it was an easy cruise to Jacksonville, FL, where we spent a delightful afternoon and evening with ELLEN, a dear friend of the family – who was her joyous, warm, delicious self.

Ellens Screened Porch

Ellens Screened Porch

Ellen Emerson & Laura in Pontra Vedre

Ellen Emerson & Laura in Pontra Vedre

On Sunday, we cruised toward Cedar Key, driving through St. Augustine (busy, busy, busy), stopping to ride the carousel.

St Augustine Carousel

St Augustine Carousel

Wheee

Wheee

Found the tiny, old town called Micanopy (mick-ah-nope-ee), claimed to be the oldest towns in Florida. Dripping with spanish moss covered old trees, old buildings and lots of antiques. An old-timer told us about the town’s history and art festival and …. well, ya know … ya just get to jawboning down here about one thing and a tuther. 

Micanopy

Micanopy

Micanopy Old House Antique Shop

Micanopy Old House Antique Shop

More old Micanopy Homes

More old Micanopy Homes

Love these whimsical fences!

Love these whimsical fences!

Cedar Key View from Bridge 4 As you Enter

Cedar Key View from Bridge 4 As you Enter

ARRIVAL:  As the sun was aming to set, we crossed Bridge Four into Cedar Key and we were flushed by the  island’s beautiful wilderness We were also welcomed by friends as we rolled up our street: Lonna and Martin, 

Lonna and Martin Dickenson our neighbors

Lonna and Martin Dickenson our neighbors

Neighbor Marsha Schwartz came with welcome flowers. But the abundant tangerines on the tree in the backyard had been picked clean by the former renters who now rented the place on the water across the street. Hmmmm. I was looking forward to our Tangerine Juice.

SETTLING IN: 

7 DAYS LATER: A week after our arrival – we can barely believe all we’d done.

Cedar Key Beach - Park

Cedar Key Beach – Park

Monday the 17th  and the next three days, I zipped around town – meeting festival committee( great group),  getting introductions, making and distributing posters for the January festival FUNDRAISERBev and Kathy selling tickets to the January Fundraiser

Bev and Kathy selling tickets to the January Fundraiser

and dealing with a computer hacking that took me 6 hours and tears to get fixed. 

Six Hours trying to get UNHACKED

Six Hours trying to get UNHACKED

Having a job – a highly interactive one – is going to make for a very different year. But, we sincerely feel, it will lead to exactly where we are supposed to go – even though we don’t know where that is, yet.

Kathy of the CK Emporium and Peter, President of the Arts Center

Kathy of the CK Emporium and Peter, President of the Arts Center

Chief Virgil and Miss Frances at the City Hall

Chief Virgil and Miss Frances at the City Hall

Getting settled was not as easy as last year. The owners, Boyd and Tom, had not been back in 8 months – so the place lacked  their spit and polish. It had a moldy odor and was not as clean as we’d found it or left it last year. After a phone call, Boyd agreed to replace a BR carpet – the mold source – and we got it done quickly then  scrubbed down of the place.

Johnny Clean

Johnny Clean

As my cousin Dee says: “I like to start fresh, so I live in my own germs”  Our full day cleaning frenzy was fueled with a robust bloody mary and capped with a G&T –

We slept well that night.

John found the cement paint - freshened the steps and painted the back platform!

John found the cement paint – freshened the steps and painted the back platform!

Backyard set up with Dee Lights and the Cowboy cooker and new work table

Backyard set up with Dee Lights and the Cowboy cooker and new work table

DEC 23rd  We joined a real southern Christmas feast, up the street at Miss Wilmas – with her sons Kenny, Kevin and Keith and their families.

Southern Feast

Southern Feast

Grits and Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Fried Mullet (fish), Casseroles of Squash, Lasagna, Mac & Cheese and Sweet Meatballs and Pork and …. oh, well, it was mighty fine … right down to the Peach Cake and Chocolate, Chocolate Cake. Sitting outside, we listened and inquired and got to know each other: Making Strangers into Friends. I’ve noticed a certain way Locals inspect us with a jaundiced eye and locked jaw, until we show some interest in them.  Then they open up like a dried jasmine flowerbud in hot water – unfolding petal by petal – revealing their own brand of exotic beauty.

Alex serving the sweets

Alex serving the sweets

We also supped on fresh and steamed oysters with Lonna and Martin and their most gentlemanly son, Owen and his sweetheart Tatiana and her sister Alex and Tatiana’s three rambunctious boys who could shuck oysters like I’ve never seen!  Tatiania and Alex are Serbian born and raised, but followed their father to the US in their later years.  Lovely people, all.

In between those two events, we drove over to SHELLMOUND, a preserve by the Suwannee River – to walk the paths. What sublime beauty.

Daisy loves shellmound almost as much as ball

Daisy loves shellmound almost as much as ball

Shellmound  it was chilly!

Shellmound it was chilly!

The Nature of Florida’s Nature Coast is spectacular. And SHELLMOUND  is the inspiration behind the Mosaic Tile selected as the design motif for the Art Festival, representing the indians who populated the area for millennium and who created the mounds (hills) of shells. A Must See Spot!

Dec 25th we joined 5 other couples at a brunch – what a fun, diverse group – and stories, stories, stories.  Interesting people with sophisticated background populate this island along with the long-time families and shellfish industry and artists.

We also established our routines – bicycling to the park behind the cemetery, doing the fitness routine set up among the trees. I remember seeing it the first year and wondered “who does that?” Now it’s me!  All the while shooting the ball for Daisy to chase.

Then Jeff and Suzanne showed upJeff and Suzanne Krieble

Jeff and Suzanne Krieble

so we made a reservation at the ISLAND HOUSE restaurant upon their arrival.  OK, that’s enough for now.  More to follow soon with lots of pics!.

It has been very busy with this new job but I’m working hard to keep a blog too.  Thank you for your patience.

Lots of Love from Laura & John  & Daisy – in Cedar Key Florida, where all is right.

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

BOOB-E-TRAP? 13 YEARS SINCE MY LAST MAMMOGRAM


November – 2012 – IT HAS BEEN  13 YEARS SINCE MY LAST MAMMOGRAM.

Witch Doctor Icon

1999 was my last one – until recently – and given my experience – it may well be my last one, ever.

Why?  Because I am fed up with the “breast industry” that has created more and more “procedures” for the purpose of making money, while delivering more false scares.  Oprah and I share that story.  OPRAH BREAST CANCER SCARE

Over the past decade there has been a constant shifting in the frequency and age of mammography. First at 50 – every five years – then every year – then they pushed it to 30 and 40 year old – but switched to every two years. The “breast experts” began to resemble the “food pyramid experts”, and look what they produced: a fat country.

Plus, I don’t like the idea of shooting radiation into my body – not for my teeth, not for my breast – unless absolutely necessary.

But this year, I allowed my young Doc to convince me to have a baseline mammogram. Which I did.  Then I got the call they needed a closer look at my left breast.  Whew – I thought the first  Poke, Prod, Twist, Squeeze was tough – the “close up” one was even more painful.  What is all that squeezing doing to our cells, I ask you? No man would ever allow this to be done with his pecker or balls, period.

But honestly, all of that was fine, generally.  What I objected to was the full court sales pitch that came after the scan.

The nurse (a Jane Lynch look-alike) takes me into the small, dark, hot, stuffy radiologists’ room who shows me the scan which looks like a small cluster of snow. They want to biopsy it – to see if it is cancerous.

“What?” I needed some clarification.  Like, what was I looking at on the screen and what was involved in a biopsy?

The radiologists explained that it could be simply some ducts that were non-cancerous  and clogged or had not opened … but they wanted to stick a needle into my breast and draw out some tissue to check, to make sure.

“And how do you biopsy that?” I asked.  The nurse explained two options

Option 1: A Surgeon cuts into you breast – guided by the projected image of your mammogram on your chest. FULL BOAT SURGERY.

Option 2: Lie on a table, breasts hanging out two holes, local anesthesia, shoot in a needle to draw out a sample tissue, leaving behind a little clip in the breast, then have ANOTHER Mammogram to see if they got the right spot. Oh, and I believe that is followed up with radiation and some kind of toxic medicine.

Really?  Would you let a mechanic do a procedure like that on your car? With that kind of outcome?

I looked closer at the image on the screen and said: “I’m going away for 6 months. I don’t think I’ll do anything about this until I return.”

The radiologist and nurse visibly shifted in their attitude and that’s when the full court press began – a concerted effort to convince me that having a biopsy was necessary.  As the Nurse walked me toward the exit, she urged me to reconsider with the zeal of someone on commission to capture a new recruit for a cult. No Joke.  And she did so right by the reception room, for everyone to hear.

I finally escaped and buzzed home – incensed – and remembering the woman I met just the day before who shared this horrific story of her daughter’s breast “cancer” experience – and subsequent surgery to get a cyst removed, that turned into a full-blown catastrophe because the surgeon punctured the cyst, spreading into the breast whatever was inside the cyst and now no one will touch her unless she agrees to have her breasts removed.

The woman then tracked down her daughter’s radiologist, who actually remembered her daughter’s scan and admitted: “You know, we really don’t  know a lot about this breast cancer yet. We just sit in a room and stare and stare at radiograms all day until we think we see something. ”

Really?!  But then, I’m not really surprised.

I’ve had the sense for years that Breast Cancer is an INDUSTRY, a CASH BOX and I was not a patient – I was a sales opportunity.

Breast Cancer is rapidly becoming the same as Prostate Cancer – which most men will get … but die of something else.

It’s not that I’m sticking my head in the sand -My aunt died of a full-blown case of Breast Cancer – in her early 80’s.

She knew she had a problem but refused to do anything about it as she was not going to spend her last years in a hospital environment.  She is my heroine.

It IS upsetting to hear someone suggest the BC word to you and it takes a lot of gumption to step back from the rush of treatments they push. But I believe we should SLOW DOWN rather than rush into procedures.  Even the radiologist said to me she believed there were too many biopsies being performed unnecessarily and she cited an article from READERS DIGEST that said the same.

“Mammograms also offer a smaller benefit than many patients — and doctors — assume. Mammography’s effectiveness has been hotly debated, but a carefully conducted 2005 analysis suggests it cuts the risk of dying of breast cancer by 15 percent, says the NIH’s Kramer. That means a 60-year-old who gets regular mammograms shaves her risk of dying of the disease in the next decade from 7 per 1,000 to 6 per 1,000.” (Readers Digest Article)

My cousin recently called to say she heard a news report that stated 1 out of 3 women will be over-diagnnosed with breast cancer and 1 out of 3 women will have unnecessary procedures. ONE OUT OF THREE!!

So Ladies – “Do No Go Gentle Into That Good Night…” Do not believe what they say on first sight.  Stop, Look, Listen, Research and Advocate for Yourself–  before you become a cog and a commodity in the Breast Cancer Wheel of Industry.

BREAST CANCER MISDIAGNOSIS ARTICLE New York Times Article

PASSINGS – RUBY AND PETER


LIFE — it’s what we are all here for.

When we witness a passing, we can’t help but feel sad. However, that we shared a life is something to be celebrated.

Ruby recently passed. My girlfriend called me a few weeks ago with the news that Ruby was in distress.  She went to great lengths to diagnose the problem – heart centered, but unclear – yet Ruby responded well to the meds.  But in less than a month, she turned to the worse and my girlfriend called, tears garbling her words, wondering if she should wait or help Ruby pass. She decided to wait and a few days later, Ruby died in her arms.  It doesn’t make a difference Ruby was her dog. She was her family and there is no escaping the feelings of loss when a beloved family member passes. I could hear my friend nearly drowning in her tears.  I went to her home later that day, the very space where Ruby died, and thought about bringing flowers.  But flowers die, too. So I opted to find a plant that bloomed this time of year: A perennial Hibiscus – ruby red of course – to be planted in a sunny spot – to return every season, celebrating the love of Ruby.

Peter also passed the same week. On the day I brought my friend her Ruby plant, I was on the way to Peter’s wake.  He was the brother of my sister-in-law, Lisa.  He was also beloved. He succumbed to a second round cancer, twenty years after his first battle. And in that twenty or so years, he lived-lived-lived and the wake was a testimony of that.

Next to his casket, was an amazing flower arrangements of a Yellow A (with a certain curl to the font), on a field of Green Flowers — a baseball reference of the Oakland A’s, I believe. I thought it was marvelous to have the flowers used to convey a love of his life.

I was also surprised to learn he was a multi-marathoner – with all his medals on display.

But what was most wonderful to see was the children he created – in the years after he first battled testicular cancer.

At that time in his life, after he beat cancer, he married Marian and decided they would travel the world and be the best Uncle and Aunt ever!  But after his father died, he wanted to try to have children – and Marian agreed (with the help from the invetro medical community) and together they produced 7 children – four who are living today.  That this man continued to strive and try for every bit of life after a serious bout with death – and also be known as “the nicest guy”, – well that’s a life to celebrate.

When I arrived at the wake, my brother’s children – Eleanor and Timmy – were so surprised I came -as I lived 1.5 hours away.

“Ahh, but I had to, ” I said, “According to Papoo (my father, their grandfather) it is imperative to attend: weddings, funerals, confirmations, graduations, (etc), because it’s not about you.”  Dad told me that years ago, and has forgotten he said it, but I haven’t and am glad to pass it on to the next generation.

But the truth is, I love wakes and funerals.  Better than weddings, because people seem more real, more open, more kind at funerals than anywhere else.

Case in point: I arrived around two – stayed until four – made the rounds of the family, inspected the range of photos, spoke to old friends and made some new acquaintances – the latter was Peter’s wife’s sister – an economist from Canada – and her husband. Somehow we got into a wide-ranging conversation about books and the heart and economics and marriage – and somewhere around quarter to 4, I looked up, saw my sister across the room and then recognized what was going on – the room had transformed into a party. Groups of people were gathered all over, chatting up in full voice.  I looked over to Peter, his hands folded on his chest, his face serene, and I felt him grinning — presiding over a happy scene – filled with liveliness  –  the very thing he perused in life as he lived it every, day and … every, every minute. (Thornton Wilder)

Being reminded of that is why I love funeral’s above all other gatherings.

Hope you enjoy every day to the fullest.

xo Laura

UNIVERSALIST (AKA: Moden Nomad)


Saturday, August 11, 2012 – HOLICONG, PA

Vagabonds. Nomads. Nouns ascribed to us by close friends. Billy. Jeanne. Jennifer  …. and there’s truth to it.

Since returning from Cedar Key in April … and bedding our beloved dog Bucks to the here-after at the end of May … our life has become a whirlwind of people, places and “phun”.

Nomadic? Not quite – We still have a home of our own.  But the amount of time we’ve been spending here has been shockingly low because we’ve been out “a-visiting” friends and family, and renting our house to boot. Cousin Dee coined a more accurate phrase: We have become Universalist: Surfing along as the Universe delivers what we seek.

That sound’s weird I know – but consider this: Since June, we’ve traveled to California, South to North in a convertible …

The Glassons (John’s Daughter’s family) at the Malamut’s Antique Car Museum

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Joleen, Harald and Laura at the Bowers Museum in Orange County, CA

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Beautiful Barb Malamut in Thousand Oaks, (North of LA) CA.

John and Granddaughter Meredith in Ojai, CA

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Dean, Sarah and Ivy Lipoff – at Pt Reyes – north of San Francisco, CA

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.. before spending two weeks in Chicago with family (more stories and photos on this, later). All the while, three different, great families rented our house while we were away. A win-win all around.

Greg Sarchet (cousin Dee husband) Chicago

The only one who complained was Daisy – who was left behind at a neighbors for the month.

Overnight side trip to Terre Haute Indiana to visit Jeff and Suzanne Krieble

How did this happen? When John said he wanted to visit his daughter in CA, I put the house on VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and it soon was rented – which paid for the trip and the things we needed to spruce up the house.  John, who was initially skeptical on the VRBO move now crows: “It’s the new economy: Share what you have, get what you need.”

Once we came home, we were happy to enjoy our house again – get our feet on the ground and dive into some projects.  But, two weeks later, we were off again, joining friend’s Cindy and George at their new “camp” cabin for a weekend. What a surprisingly delightful time! (stories and pics to come.)

Cindy and George Saunders at Tripp Lake, PA

View of the Lake from their newly built Cabin.

And the very next weekend, we ended up at our pals Barb and Pete’s farm, about 7 miles from our house – to help out – take care of her horses, chickens and dogs, as her regular help bailed for a previously scheduled weekend away. As we’d already talked about taking care of her brood for a week at the end of August, when they are off to Michigan and we have a house rental, this was fortuitous trial run.

It would be great to stay close to home while renting our house (we are a little travel weary), but we needed to know if we could manage it all.

Good Morning, Horses – time for feed and muck the stalls!

Milly and Mabel – the donkeys – who were the easiest to care for – Hay!

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.Horses and chickens and dogs – oh my!  But the opportunity was priceless – because Barb was also going to be away in late August – when we had renters coming – and when I suggested we take care of her house and animals during that time (so we wouldn’t have to travel out of Bucks County again so soon), this would be a trial run – could we actually do it?

“Green Acres is the Place for me! “

My Horse Man

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Cleaning Boots after chores

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.Barb had us over to dinner before the weekend, to show us the ropes. I was rather nervous around the horses – I was glad John had horse experience and would be with me.  Barb warned me that her youngest horse, Sully, would be quite forward – walking right into the feed barn when we prepped the food – unless we kept the lower door shut.

Suly wants IN to the feed barn. He can smell the oats!

First day on the job, Sully pushed and kicked the door to get in, his huge head looming, and swinging between the hotwater heater in one corner and the other feed bin on the other – stretching his neck to anything he could reach. That got my feathers up. “No” I yelled in my big dog voice and he backed off for a minute.  Since then, my flutters did not return.

Yo, there, big boy! Back it out

After our Friday night feeding, John noted on Saturday morning: “don’t they get smaller every time?” and they do.  I can see them from the window where I type – grazing in the side paddock.  They are each quite nice: Sully, Bergan and Neerie.  So long as we give them a bit of grain right away, they are quite calm. We even had to fix Neerie’s bandage on her leg, which had slid down, exposing a well scabbed but clearly healing cut, with flies abuzzing around it.  We found some “scat” in a small tub – for scatting flies away from wounds – and boy, did that work like a charm.  Must smell it and see if it works on me –  a dab behind my ears.

Pastoral Pastures

The chickens were easy –

Chickens! Here’s some scratch for ya.

clean and fill the water bowls, scatter some corn, collect the eggs (so tiny). Barb had mentioned they like the grass and garden clippings.  So I threw them a big swath of squash vines I’d excavated from the garden – but they hadn’t touched it by morning.  They did, however, devour the beet leaves.  Good to know.

A garden of bounty – tomatoes, cukes, basil! yum

The dogs are on a schedule – a small bulldog and large hound, who, in particular, is the alarm clock for feeding time – AM and PM.  Woooo, Wa-Woooo he bayed when we arrived at 4 in the afternoon and again at 7:30 this morning. Up! Up! Up!  Everyone wanted to eat.

How’s Daisy doing in all this?  Well, I think a little sibling rivalry is a good thing.  She has been a bit sad since we got back from our 30 day trip – even guests at our house mentioned noticing that.  Then most recently, we noticed she was not jumping up in the jeep or truck or bed with the vigor she used to do. First there was a hesitation, then a yelp when she would try, now a refusal.  VET Time: tested negative for Limes Disease so we are going to x-ray on Monday – hips and back.

About a year ago, when I consulted with a medium, she told me Daisy does not like to have her tail stroked when I go down her back.  I wonder if there is a connection. We shall see. I sure do hope it’s not hip dysphasia or something congenital in one so young. But she seems happier now that she is on an anti-inflammatory. (Monday Update: Sadly, Daisy’s right hip did not fully form – no socket. So her right thigh bone has been banging against the hip and becoming rough and engorged.  Surgery will be necessary 😦   Damn!

I also want to mention how beautiful Barb and Pete’s farm is.  He has trimmed all the trees so it has an English countryside look – especially with the pastures rolling down the hill with trees in the distance – and the fence of cornfields surrounding the property.

Sunset off the porch

We so relaxed on Saturday, I took numerous naps.  The actual taking care of the animals was such a little amount of time – 20 minutes for feeding and cleaning up after the horses, 10 minutes for the dogs and chickens each.  The rest of the time was ours to enjoy a pastoral spot of quiet – while the New Hope Auto Show raged just seven miles away.

view from cocktail porch

It was a world away and we were happy to inhabit it for a spell and look forward to our next gig there.

Country Kitchen

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