Saturday, January 31, 2015

# 111 India and Beyond

One third of this planet’s population eat with a fork, spoon, and knife.
One third eat with chopsticks. One third eat with their fingers.
All are eating properly at their table.
Travel teaches us many lessons. 
Acceptance of our differences is the first one.
Celebration of differences is the most important. 
  -Arthur Frommer

This is why we are going to India.  Not for a vacation--it will be hard work.  When traveling  internationally, we have found flexibility and a good sense of humor are a must. A smile and a "let it go" attitude helps smooth the cultural differences that are, well, different. Seeing things that are unfathomable to us, eating mystifying foods and smelling the odors that may turn our stomachs will only be a fraction of the escapade and we wouldn't have it any other way.  But what we ultimately gain from our trips are lessons that can't be learned at home and that is why we travel.  "A celebration" according to Mr. Frommer. 

Our upcoming trip will be twenty-three days with some precarious moments along with undoubtably joyful times that will be documented in this blog so if you are interested, read along and experience India from your comfy chair.  I won't be able to react to what we are seeing or explain any unusual bathroom visits until we get home.  Maybe all will go smoothly. We can only hope; but I do know that whatever happens happens and we will be rejoicing in our celebration of differences.

So it is on to India and another educational adventure.

Thanks for reading #111 of 7777.

Friday, January 30, 2015

# 110 Packing Perils and Other Pearls

Notice to robbers in the area--if you plan on entering our castle secured fortress--please raid my husband's closet--he's in dire need of a new wardrobe.

Just a little preplanning on my part while I watch Rob wrestle with the bags and his limited clothing attire. It's not that I'm a fashionista but good grief, does he think the pants and that shirt even remotely match?

 Back and forth we go preparing for this excursion while finding that packing is an adventure in itself.  Suitcase opened. Clothes in, clothes out. What will we need for 3 1/2 weeks and how can we get away with schlepping as little as possible.

Underwear-- tricky dilemma number one.  How many and are they quick dry?  There is nothing worse, absolutely nothing worse than waking up in the morning and realizing no undies had been washed the night before.  It's an inside out day...

We both pride ourselves with our creative packing and traveling with little bitty bags.  What I'm not proud of are the pictures upon return showing us wearing the same outfit in almost every photo op. It looks like we traveled the entire country in one day.

Another problem we face is that despite the ingenious quick dry manufacturers no amount of scrubbing in the sink can completely remove the body odor of the day.  Enough said--no more visuals or smell-uals (not a word, but you get the idea).

Off to repack, rearrange and root out any nonessential garb (except that one extra pair of underwear). Yikes! Two more days and counting.

Thanks for reading # 110 of 7777.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

# 109 Palm Desert--Thanks for the Memories

Palm Desert has been our delightful home away from home since December 15th.  Our lovely condo complex has every amenity we would ever want or desire including tennis, pools, hot tubs, pickle ball courts and a variety of social activities that would fill your calendar to the brim.  It's been a perfect spot for us but it is time to move on to our next destination so we must bid this gem of a locale adieu. 
 If you are unfamiliar with the area, Wikipedia has officially (?) documented everything you ever need to know about Palm Desert but have been afraid to ask. To my friends in frosty places, I've included the temperatures for the area, not to gloat but to explain why we escape every winter.  

Palm Desert is a city in Riverside CountyCaliforniaUnited States, in the Coachella Valley, approximately 14 miles (23 km) east of Palm Springs and 122 miles (196 km) east of Los Angeles. The population was 48,445 at the 2010 census, up from 41,155 at the 2000 census. The city was one of the state's fastest growing in the 1980s and 1990s,[citation needed] beginning with 11,801 residents in 1980, doubling to 23,650 in 1990, 35,000 in 1995, and nearly double its 1990 population by 2000.
A major center of growth in the Palm Springs area, Palm Desert is a popular retreat for "snowbirds" from colder climates (the Eastern and Northern United States, and Canada), who swell its population by an estimated 31,000 each winter. In the past couple of years Palm Desert has seen more residents become "full-timers", mainly from the coasts and urban centers of California, who have come for both affordable and high-valued home prices.


The area was first known as the Old MacDonald Ranch, but the name changed to Palm Village in the 1920s when date palms were planted. Local historians said the main residents of pre-1950 Palm Desert were Cahuilla Indian farmers of the now extinct San Cayetano tribe, but a few members of the Montoya family of Cahuilla/Spanish descent were prominent leaders in civic life.[citation needed]
The first residential development occurred in 1943 in connection with an Army maintenance camp in the area. That site was later developed into "El Paseo", an upscale shopping district not unlike Rodeo Drive. In 1948, the Palm Desert Corporation began to develop real estate, and in 1951 the area was given its present name.
Many celebrities keep homes in Palm Desert, including Rita Rudner and more recently, the current home of professional golfer Michelle Wie and one of the homes of Bill Gates. Film producers Jerry Weintraub call Palm Desert their second home. With only 1,500 permanent residents, the community was incorporated on November 26, 1973. At the time, Palm Desert was a master planned community situated in the desert that used to stretch from Palm Springs to Indio.


The climate of the Coachella Valley is influenced by the surrounding geography. High mountain ranges on three sides and a south-sloping valley floor all contribute to its unique and year-round warm climate, with the warmest winters in the western United States. Palm Desert has an arid climate: Its average annual high temperature is 89 °F (32 °C) and average annual low is 62 °F (17 °C) but summer highs above 108 °F (42 °C) are common and sometimes exceed 120 °F (49 °C), while summer night lows often stay above 82 °F (28 °C). Winters are warm with daytime highs between 73–84 °F (23–29 °C). Under 5 inches (130 mm) of annual precipitation are average, with over 348 days of sunshine per year. The mean annual temperature at 75.8 °F (24.3 °C) makes Palm Desert one of the warmest places in the United States. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Palm Desert was 125 °F (52 °C) on July 6, 1905.[5]The surrounding mountains create a Thermal Belt [6] in the southern foothills of Palm Desert leading to a unique micro-climate with significantly warmer night-time temperatures during the winter months. The University of California maintains weather stations located in this Thermal Belt as part of their ecological project in the Philip L. Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center.
[hide]Climate data for Palm Desert, California, elev. 10 feet (3.0 m)
Record high °F (°C)97
Average high °F (°C)71.9
Daily mean °F (°C)58.3
Average low °F (°C)44.6
Record low °F (°C)13
Precipitation inches (mm)0.56

Thanks for reading # 109 of 7777.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

# 108 Cathy's Camel

An entry from a friend who inspires and supports me every day.  Cathy, this is priceless and thank you for this camel driven entry.


Throughout my adult life I have relied on a saying my mom taught me to help get through tough times. Her favorite disk jockeys used this on their show almost daily. It is, "EGBOK," pronounced /EGG-bok/. It's an acronym for "Everything's gonna be OK." Mom sent me an EGBOK pin and I kept it in my desk drawer at school for almost 29 years. I glanced at it often and repeated the mantra in my head over and over during stressful times.

Then, a few years ago, long after my mom's death, I read this in a book. It is an Arab/Muslim proverb.

Trust in God . . . but tie up your camel.

These simple words were profound to me. I kept mulling them over and over until I came to realize that they made so much more sense than EGBOK. 

With EGBOK, I had faith that yes, in the end, everything would be OK. Somewhat comforting but there was no responsibility on my part. It's as if I were a cork, bobbing along on top of the ocean, being blown about by winds and currents, waiting for that good outcome. 

I don't want to be a helpless victim when facing a daunting situation. I want to to be powerful, well-informed, hopeful and well-prepared to face the outcome, whatever it might be. And so, now, when a serious problem arises, I do have faith but I also take great care to make sure all my camels are securely tied.

Thank you Mary, for inspiring me to think and allowing me to share with the vast army of supporters who are so privileged to know you.

Cathy A.

Thanks for reading #108 of 7777.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#107 Meditation Isn't Just for Humans

Meditation and visualization are vital healing components on my journey so with the appropriate apps downloaded I attempt to listen daily to one of them.  My faithful companion, Yogi, has also embraced this zen like atmosphere and looks forward to our everyday ritual.

Yesterday Rob came into the room for the dog and, low and behold, there he was meditating and visualizing balls being thrown through the air or giant bowls of food at every turn in the road or whatever dog fantasy was flowing through his brain.  He was in a stationary position and the louder Rob called to him the deeper he went into his relaxation mode.  Not even a promise of a walk would move him to his feet.  By this time, my spell was broken and I began nudging him as thoughts that our lovable 10 year old dog might have permanently crossed over the "Rainbow Bridge."  Slowly he came out of his stupor and grudgingly followed his master out of the room and, I swear, grumbling under his breath about the lack of peace and quiet and could we please leave him alone, dog gone it.

Breathing in, breathing out, visualizing his favorite place--is this doggy heaven or what?  Now when the music begins, he settles into his position and does not stir until the last chime has rung or --the only other activity that would propel him out of his prone pose-- the food bowl beckoning him for dinner.

Is it time for meditation? 0h please. Is it? Is It?

Thanks for reading # 107 of 7777.

Monday, January 26, 2015

# 106 Friendship Equals Love

After my brutally honest blog a few days ago, I discovered the true meaning of friendship.  A flurry of emails buzzed through the airwaves, my phone jingled, heartfelt Facebook messages were written; and all with concern for me. I'm okay now so thank you, but please know how comforting your words touched me so that has made me okay.

 A few weeks ago, my dear friend Deb sent these quotes that seem even more appropriate as I negotiate this alien journey in life.  Read them once and then again.  Powerful statements to the beauty of friendship. I am one lucky gal.

Friends and friendship-

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

“I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
 Jon Katz

I could not possible say it better-I am truly blessed to have friends as are described here.

Thanks for reading # 106 of 7777.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

#105 "Ride The Horse in the Direction it's Going"

Out of the mouths of babes--and the babe is none other than my charming, hunk of a husband.  "Ride the horse in the direction it's going."  We have heard his sage advice for years and it seems to work for him and anyone taking his counsel.  His children used to roll their eyes--now they sit up and pay attention.

Whenever a fork rises up in the road or a huge "tree" bars the way, invariably the saying surfaces and instead of fighting what lies ahead, we travel where the horse is headed. Always moving forward but maybe not in the anticipated direction.

For example, last spring our landlord in the Palm Springs area reneged on our contract and we were left without a home for the winter.  I was chewing nails, angry as a pit bull and ready to go to court.  Calmly, Rob uttered his illustrious line and let the horse take us in the direction it was going--which was an entirely new location.

I rarely question him (confession--okay, I question him all the time) on his uncanny way of knowing how things might work out because I have found he is either the ultimate horse whisperer or else he truly is the wizard of prophecy.  Whatever it is, it worked for us as our new accommodations pleasantly surpassed our previous reneged rental.

 On a side note, the first place had horrific rains in August and flooded the entire area so we would have been homeless if he hadn't relied on his insightful horse. Karma, bad karma on the landlord.  Maybe, or else it was another score for Rob and the horse with its impeccable sense of direction.

My advice when your next dilemma arises is to take that new course, don't fight the reins and simply enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading # 105 of 7777.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#104 Set Me Free

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” 
― Gloria Steinem

Truth.  I often avoid it on this blog because, frankly, I am still pissed and Ms. Steinem says I must be pissed before I tackle the truth.  One of which is that cancer was not to happen the first time and then certainly not creep back into my life.

So, taking the truth serum I will be brutally honest today.  Warning--there may be content that will  make you uncomfortable or bore you or even make you have thoughts that I've gone off the deep end (not yet). Hit escape if you want to continue picturing me as Pollyanna with a perpetual smile on my face.  Most times I try but sometimes venting helps the soul and poor Rob could use a break from one of my crankier days.

In random order as I write almost everything that has been bugging me but has remained unpublished.

                                                       The darker side of me.

1. My hip aches every single day and when it aches more than usual I start to panic that the cancer is spreading.
2.  I miss running--a lot.  It shouldn't be an issue but it is and it reminds me how things have changed.
3. Working out hard until the sweat drips off me in puddles and I can barely catch my breath--miss it.  If I do that I am wiped out for a couple of days so I hold back to "conserve" my energy, which by the way is always lacking.
4. Sleep--oh what I would give for a blissful night of uninterrupted slumber.
5. Food is an issue because my tummy backfires if I eat too much, too little, the wrong combination.  It constantly reminds me to be diligent in my quest for feeding my face.
6. The weight gain.  Damn hormone drugs are a factor and I should let it go.  The nurse's comment sticks in my head--"We want you to have that extra weight on you."  She didn't finish it with a reason why but I know and it bothers me to think about it.
7. I feel myself observing people instead of engaging in the conversation.  I'm not sure why I'm holding back.
8. Planning trips for next year--what to do, what to do?  Go ahead and just do it.  I know that's what normal people do but my "go ahead" has a red flag on it.
9. Every time, every time I hear about someone dying of cancer my ears perk up.  How long ago was the diagnosis. Morbidly, I want details.
10. I'm now telling people in casual conversations about me.  "Oh the weather is perfect out here--do you know I have cancer?"  I'm not sure why I am suddenly opening up to strangers.  Maybe to explain why I don't dive for the pickle ball or race up the mountains.  It seems to be on the tip of my tongue lately.

Okay, ten whines should do it for today.  If I could, I would raise a glass of wine and toast that my bitchin' days are done--for now.

Thanks for reading # 104 of 7777.

Friday, January 23, 2015

# 103 "Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer"

EVERY New Year when the government publishes its Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, it is followed by a familiar lament. We are losing the war against cancer.
Half a century ago, the story goes, a person was far more likely to die from heart disease. Now cancer is on the verge of overtaking it as the No. 1 cause of death.

Troubling as this sounds, the comparison is unfair. Cancer is, by far, the harder problem — a condition deeply ingrained in the nature of evolution and multicellular life. Given that obstacle, cancer researchers are fighting and even winning smaller battles: reducing the death toll from childhood cancers and preventing — and sometimes curing — cancers that strike people in their prime. But when it comes to diseases of the elderly, there can be no decisive victory. This is, in the end, a zero-sum game.

The rhetoric about the war on cancer implies that with enough money and determination, science might reduce cancer mortality as dramatically as it has with other leading killers — one more notch in medicine’s belt. But what, then, would we die from? Heart disease and cancer are primarily diseases of aging. Fewer people succumbing to one means more people living long enough to die from the other.

The newest cancer report, which came out in mid-December, put the best possible face on things. If one accounts for the advancing age of the population — with the graying of the baby boomers, death itself is on the rise — cancer mortality has actually been decreasing bit by bit in recent decades. But the decline has been modest compared with other threats.

graph from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells the story. There are two lines representing the age-adjusted mortality rate from heart disease and from cancer. In 1958 when the diagram begins, the line for heart disease is decisively on top. But it plunges by 68 percent while cancer declines so slowly — by only about 10 percent — that the slope appears far less significant.

Measuring from 1990, when tobacco had finished the worst of its damage and cancer deaths were peaking, the difference is somewhat less pronounced: a decline of 44 percent for heart disease and 20 percent for cancer. But as the collision course continues, cancer seems insistent on becoming the one left standing — death’s final resort. (The wild card in the equation is death from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, which has been advancing year after year.)

Though not exactly consoling, the fact that we have reached this standoff is a kind of success. A century ago average life expectancy at birth was in the low to mid-50s. Now it is almost 79, and if you make it to 65 you’re likely to live into your mid-80s. The median age of cancer death is 72. We live long enough for it to get us.
The diseases that once killed earlier in life — bubonic plaguesmallpoxinfluenza, tuberculosis — were easier obstacles. For each there was a single infectious agent, a precise cause that could be confronted. Even AIDS is being managed more and more as a chronic condition.

Progress against heart disease has been slower. But the toll has been steadily reduced, or pushed further into the future, with diet, exercise and medicines that help control blood pressure and cholesterol. When difficulties do arise they can often be treated as mechanical problems — clogged piping, worn-out valves — for which there may be a temporary fix.
Because of these interventions, people between 55 and 84 are increasingly more likely to die from cancer than from heart disease. For those who live beyond that age, the tables reverse, with heart disease gaining the upper hand. But year by year, as more failing hearts can be repaired or replaced, cancer has been slowly closing the gap.

For the oldest among us, the two killers are fighting to a draw. But there are reasons to believe that cancer will remain the most resistant. It is not so much a disease as a phenomenon, the result of a basic evolutionary compromise. As a body lives and grows, its cells are constantly dividing, copying their DNA — this vast genetic library — and bequeathing it to the daughter cells. They in turn pass it to their own progeny: copies of copies of copies. Along the way, errors inevitably occur. Some are caused by carcinogens but most are random misprints.

Over the eons, cells have developed complex mechanisms that identify and correct many of the glitches. But the process is not perfect, nor can it ever be. Mutations are the engine of evolution. Without them we never would have evolved. The trade-off is that every so often a certain combination will give an individual cell too much power. It begins to evolve independently of the rest of the body. Like a new species thriving in an ecosystem, it grows into a cancerous tumor. For that there can be no easy fix.

These microscopic rebellions have been happening for at least half a billion years, since the advent of complex multicellular life — collectives of cells that must work together, holding back, as best each can, the natural tendency to proliferate. Those that do not — the cancer cells — are doing, in a Darwinian sense, what they are supposed to do: mutating, evolving and increasing in fitness compared with their neighbors, the better behaved cells of the body. And these are left at a competitive disadvantage, shackled by a compulsion to obey the rules.

As people age their cells amass more potentially cancerous mutations. Given a long enough life, cancer will eventually kill you — unless you die first of something else. That would be true even in a world free from carcinogens and equipped with the most powerful medical technology.

Faced with this inevitability, there have been encouraging reductions in the death toll from childhood cancer, with mortality falling by more than halfsince 1975. For older people, some early-stage cancers — those that have not learned to colonize other parts of the body — can be cured with a combination of chemicals, radiation therapy and surgery. Others can be held in check for years, sometimes indefinitely. But the most virulent cancers have evolved such wily subterfuges (a survival instinct of their own) that they usually prevail. Progress is often measured in a few extra months of life.

OVER all, the most encouraging gains are coming from prevention. Worldwide, some 15 to 20 percent of cancers are believed to be caused by infectious agents. With improvements in refrigeration and public sanitation, stomach cancer, which is linked to Helicobacter pylori bacteria, has been significantly reduced, especially in more developed parts of the world. Vaccines against human papilloma virus have the potential of nearly eliminating cervical cancer.

Where antismoking campaigns are successful, lung cancer, which has accounted for almost 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States, is steadily diminishing. More progress can be made with improvements in screening and by reducing the incidence of obesity, a metabolic imbalance that, along with diabetes, gives cancer an edge.

Surprisingly, only a small percentage of cancers have been traced to the thousands of synthetic chemicals that industry has added to the environment. As regulations are further tightened, cancer rates are being reduced a little more.

Most of the progress has been in richer countries. With enough political will the effort can be taken to poorer parts of the world. In the United States, racial disparities in cancer rates must be addressed. But there is a long way to go. For most cancers the only identifiable cause is entropy, the random genetic mutations that are an inevitable part of multicellular life.

Advances in the science will continue. For some cancers, new immune system therapies that bolster the body’s own defenses have shown glints of promise. Genomic scans determining a cancer’s precise genetic signature, nano robots that repair and reverse cellular damage — there are always new possibilities to explore.

Maybe someday some of us will live to be 200. But barring an elixir for immortality, a body will come to a point where it has outwitted every peril life has thrown at it. And for each added year, more mutations will have accumulated. If the heart holds out, then waiting at the end will be cancer.

George Johnson is a former reporter and editor at The New York Times and the author of “The Cancer Chronicles.”
A version of this news analysis appears in print on January 5, 2014, on page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Why Everyone Seems to Have Cancer.

Thanks for reading # 103 of 7777.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

# 102 Ms. Diffenbaugh and Friends (me included)

Okay, I will admit it.  I am a stalker of authors.  I love hearing from them so I sit myself down and compose heartfelt and sincere letters hoping to receive a nugget of their brilliance with the remote chance it will wear off on me.  Below is a correspondence from Vanessa Diffenbaugh--author of The Language of Flowers (another book I would highly recommend).  I love her assistant's entry and am forever grateful for both of them for taking the time to write (and adding a microscopic piece of brilliance to my brain).

Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Dear Mary,
Thank you for reaching out! It makes me so happy to hear that my book is of some comfort to you at this time. I think it's wonderful that you are writing a blog, and a trip to India sounds very exciting. My family and I are actually hoping to travel there sometime next year.
Since I am working on the final edits of my book and am also busy with my young children, I am trying not to take on any additional writing projects. I really appreciate your invitation! After reading your blog, my assistant has offered to contribute a short post if you would like to include it (attached below).
I wish you all the best on your journeys--both health-related and otherwise.
Warmly, Vanessa

A Picture of a Star

Sometimes the easiest way to put life into perspective is to listen to what children have to say. I used to work at an elementary school in a first grade classroom, and the students would say so many surprising and perceptive things to me each week that I started keeping a notebook full of their effortless aphorisms. This began about four years ago, and now, whenever I feel myself forgetting how wondrously simple life can be, I return to my notebooks and remind myself how to look at the world with a child’s honesty, enthusiasm, and awe. Here are some examples:
Just recently, after painting with a group of kids, a girl held up her paint-splattered hands and said, “Art Class always gives you a high five!” 
A boy saw me trimming maps of the world so they would fit on class folders, and with a hurt and horrified expression he said, “Ms. Emily, why are you cutting the world in half?”
During a grammar lesson a characteristically rambunctious boy turned pensive and compared an apostrophe to a crescent moon. 
A boy’s spelling homework was so poetic, that I attempted to insert line breaks and stanzas for fun. One of my favorite lines: “The mean dust bunny quarrels every time.” And the final stanza: When I am 100 years old/ I will be an astronaut/ and get a picture of a star. /And I will remember/ that star.  
 Once a little girl said to me out of the blue, “You know Ms. Emily, you’re still a child to your parents” (this was the same little girl who always reprimanded me when she caught me drinking cola at lunchtime). Of course this is true, and although I enjoy the adult benefit of eating as much junk food as I please, I aspire daily to get in touch with my own inner child, and bring it out in the people I know.    

Thanks for reading # 102 of 7777.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#101 "I'm Gonna Try"

People continually amaze me.  Christine sent me a photo album full of these impressive overachievers who will not stop at anything.  Should make us "young 'uns" sit up and take notice. Learning to read at 92 and then publishing a book at 96.  You go, Mr. Arruda!
  Stay tuned for more feats to avoid the birthday blahs of growing old.

Thanks for reading # 101 of 7777.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


“You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain.” 
― Tom Hiddleston

How would I know what could be around the corner when I began daily blogging?  Similar to hearing  about cancer.  One foot forward every single day.  Not looking back but always moving towards that next climb.

Blog writing.  Somedays it feels like everything and somedays it feels like nothing.

The number 100 arrives.  It is everything.

About 80 entries ago I couldn't see as far ahead as I do today and was stuck.  Now the future is looking brighter and the climbing is getting easier--most days.  Some days--not so much.

So I keep on blogging, still get up in the morning and still not sure what's around the corner but I'm learning. Learning that this mountain is not as formidable as it once was.

Thanks for reading # 100! of 7777.

Monday, January 19, 2015

#99 Packers--We Love You

&%$%@  I know it is over and the Seahawks are Superbowl bound but I thought the Packers had it and then-- what happened?  I won't rehash the game against the bad guys because it won't do a bit of good.  Keep it in perspective I keep telling myself.  It's not the end of the world, but really, I thought it was in the bag.

Ahhhh!  There is always next year and maybe Aaron's leg will be better and a few of the bone head players will be gone so we can have a fresh start. Always next year.  A football fan's mantra.

My mantra-- It's only a game.  It's only a game.  It's only a game. If I keep repeating it maybe I will believe it. Not working yet.

Packers, you are still the best (written with a big sigh as a tear slowly slides down my cheek).

Thanks for reading # 99 of 7777.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

# 98 IDA! and the Oscars

 A few blogs ago I wrote about the movie "Ida" from the Palm Springs Film Festival. "Watch for it in the Oscars and remember, you heard it here first." From Blog # 84.

 I was delighted and somewhat surprised by the nomination and the reaction from the Washington Post. It was good, but, holy cow! I didn't foresee this award.  Well, I thought I did but that was just me trying to sound like I knew what I was talking about since we saw all of three films out of 190.

Foreign Language Film
“Wild Tales”
Immediate reaction: It’s sad to see no mention of “Force Majeure” on this list, though these are worthy contenders. The Russian film “Leviathan” took home the Golden Globe on Sunday, but the Polish drama “Ida” has a good shot at the Oscar, with a 1960s-era story of an aspiring nun who finds out her family was Jewish.
I can't say my next career will have film critic in the title but when one is viewed as an exemplary piece of work, it gets noticed by the peons in the gallery.  

One other foreign film we watched was "Theeb", a story about a Bedouin boy and his coming of age in the desert.  I actually enjoyed this one more than "Ida", but then what do I know?  I'll rephrase that to--a heck of a lot...obviously.(wink, wink)

Thanks for reading # 98 of 7777.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

# 97 Nobody is Born Wise

A little African wisdom today from 

The wise women in David's village at their savings and loan meeting

  • In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian proverb
  • If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb
  • A wise person will always find a way. ~ Tanzanian proverb
  • Nobody is born wise. ~ African proverb 
  • A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb
  • Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb
Thanks for reading # 97 of 7777.

Friday, January 16, 2015

# 96 Pickleball

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” 
― Albert Einstein

That's me in the white trying to stay out of the "kitchen" (pickle ball terminology)

And moving it will be.  I've discovered a new sport for me--Pickleball.  It is like playing ping pong on a court instead of a table.  Fast paced, wild and a ton of fun from the first serve until the last ball flies over the net.  There is a learning curve, but I've found it easier to play and a little less highbrow than tennis.

A little background from Wikipedia.

Pickleball is a sport in which two, three, or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports, the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules similar to tennis, with a few modifications. Pickleball was invented in the mid 1960s as a children's backyard pastime but quickly became popular among adults as a fun game for players of all levels.


The game started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge IslandWashington, at the home of then State Representative Joel Pritchard who, in 1970, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the State of Washington. He and two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a Wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.[2][3][4]
Although some sources claim that the name "Pickleball" was derived from that of the Pritchard's family dog, Pickles, other sources state that the claim is false, and that the name came from the term "pickle boat", referring to the last boat to return with its catch.[2][4][5] According to Joan Pritchard, Joel Pritchard's wife, the name came "after I said it reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Somehow the idea the name came from our dog Pickles was attached to the naming of the game, but Pickles wasn't on the scene for two more years. The dog was named for the game."[6]

Thanks for reading # 96 of 7777.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

# 95 Stuck Like a Pig in Mud

As I'm sitting here today thinking of what to write, it occurred to me that there is nothing else to say.  I've ranted about the lack of funds until I'm even sick of hearing myself shout.  I've written funny stories(at least I laughed at them) about my husband, however,  lately he has been behaving himself so nothing new from him.  Blog entries from others have been arriving through the internet but I want to keep those on hand just in case I am really stuck (which seems like it might happen sooner rather than later).  Cancer topics have been exhausted.  No updates on the cat. What to do, what to do?

Have I turned into a boring, unimaginative, monotonous person with nothing left to contribute?  I hope not. Ninety-four entries ago I committed to writing daily for 7777 days so hit me on the side of the head, pull up my big girl pants and get going...or take a break.

Today may just be a day to sit in the sun, breathe in the fresh air of the desert and not worry that my fingers are stuck on the computer.  Tomorrow will be different.  It always is.

Thanks for reading # 95 of 7777.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

# 94 Barbara's Blog

Since I'm still trying to recover from traveling, Sunday's amazing Packer win and the poor Duck loss on Monday night, I'll let my dear friend, Barbara, be my guest contributor today.

Okay. Here is my blog contribution. It is not written by me but it is important info for people to hear. It is from a website called Roadkill Goldfish - weird name I know. These are the words of Kim Helminski Keller is a Dallas-based mom, wife, teacher and journalist. She is currently receiving treatment for thyroid cancer. 

What your friends with cancer want you to know (but are afraid to say) 

People with cancer are supposed to be heroic.
We fight a disease that terrifies everyone.
We are strong because we endure treatments that can feel worse than the actual malignancies.
We are brave because our lab tests come back with news we don’t want to hear.
 The reality of life with cancer is very different from the image we try to portray.
Our fight is simply a willingness to go through treatment because, frankly, the alternative sucks. Strength? We endure pain and sickness for the chance to feel normal down the road.  Brave? We build up an emotional tolerance and acceptance of things we can’t change. Faith kicks in to take care of the rest.
The truth is that if someone you love has cancer, they probably won’t be completely open about what they’re going through because they’re trying so hard to be strong.
For you.
However, if they could be truly honest and vulnerable, they would tell you:
  1. Don’t wait on me to call you if I need anything.  Please call me every once in a while and set up a date and time to come over. I know you told me to call if I ever needed anything, but it’s weird asking others to spend time with me or help me with stuff I used to be able to do on my own. It makes me feel weak and needy, and I’m also afraid you’ll say “no.”
2. Let me experience real emotions. Even though cancer and its treatments can sometimes influence my outlook, I still have normal moods and feelings in response to life events. If I’m angry or upset, accept that something made me mad and don’t write it off as the disease. I need to experience and express real emotions and not have them minimized or brushed off.
3. Ask me “what’s up” rather than “how do you feel.” Let’s talk about life and what’s been happening rather than focusing on my illness.
4. Forgive me.  There will be times when the illness and its treatment make me “not myself.” I may be forgetful, abrupt or hurtful. None of this is deliberate. Please don’t take it personally, and please forgive me.
5. Just listen. I’m doing my very best to be brave and strong, but I have moments when I need to fall apart. Just listen and don’t offer solutions. A good cry releases a lot of stress and pressure for me.
6. Take pictures of us. I may fuss about a photo, but a snapshot of us can help get me through tough times.  A photo is a reminder that someone thinks I’m important and worth remembering. Don’t let me say “I don’t want you to remember me like this” when treatment leaves me bald or scarred.  This is me, who I am RIGHT NOW. Embrace the now with me.
7. I need a little time alone.  A few points ago I was talking about how much I need to spend time with you, and now I’m telling you to go away.  I love you, but sometimes I need a little solitude. It gives me the chance to take off the brave face I’ve been wearing too long, and the silence can be soothing.
8. My family needs friends. Parenting is hard enough when your body is healthy; it becomes even more challenging when you’re managing a cancer diagnosis with the day-to-day needs of your family. My children, who aren’t mature enough to understand what I’m going through, still need to go to school, do homework, play sports, and hang out with friends. Car-pooling and play dates are sanity-savers for me. Take my kids. Please.
My spouse could also benefit from a little time with friends. Grab lunch or play a round of golf together. I take comfort in knowing you care about the people I love.
9. I want you to reduce your cancer risk. I don’t want you to go through this. While some cancers strike out of the blue, many can be prevented with just a few lifestyle changes – stop smoking, lose extra weight, protect your skin from sun damage, and watch what you eat. Please go see a doctor for regular check-ups and demand follow-up whenever pain, bleeding or unusual lumps show up. Many people can live long and fulfilling lives if this disease is discovered in its early stages. I want you to have a long and fulfilling life.
10. Take nothing for granted. Enjoy the life you have right now. Take time to jump in puddles, hug the kids, and feel the wind on your face. Marvel at this amazing world God created, and thank Him for bringing us together.
While we may not be thankful for my cancer, we need to be grateful for the physicians and treatments that give me the chance to fight this thing. And if there ever comes a time when the treatments no longer work, please know that I will always be grateful for having lived my life with you in it. I hope you feel the same about me.

You can listen to the author read this on her website

Love you girlfriend.

Thanks for reading # 94 of 7777.