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December 5, 2009

Posted by Beth in Personal.
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Two days ago while walking in Los Gatos, I came across a number of visually striking autumn leaves. Such a treat for me as I now live on the central California coast where the trees stay green all year long. I picked up a number of them with the thought that I’d take photos now and maybe paint them later.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

And now all together:

I wondered if there was any way to preserve the leaves themselves…maybe I’d frame them in a shadow-box frame. I searched on the the web and found this site:
Pressing Fall Leaves – How to Preserve the Beauty of Fall Foliage with instructions on pressing, drying, microwaving (!), and one that intrigued me most of all–using glycerin to preserve more color as well as shape and suppleness.

Finding the glycerin was the hardest part. None of the 5 drug or grocery stores in town carry it. Neither did the local hardware store which has a lot of arts and crafts as well as cooking items. After a number of phone calls, I finally located a craft store 30 minutes away which said they stock it.  I arrived only to find out that they were out!! A single 1 oz. bottle was located for me at another store location—-yet another 30 minute drive away! Thank goodness for books-on-tape so not all was a waste of time.

That one bottle was just enough to barely cover two leaves, so I did what I probably should have done first: emailed my homeschool list. Since glycerin is used in soap-making, quite a few people had some they could spare. I quickly grabbed some from my nearest friend and immersed the other leaves I wished to preserve then ordered more on-line. Now that I know this trick, I may want to preserve even more cool stuff.  Ya just never know. Maybe I’ll even make some soap.

If ya gotta get mashed… November 22, 2009

Posted by Beth in Personal.

Last week I went for my…um, er, ahem…annual mammogram. (Turns out it had been 3  1/2 years since I had been. I couldn’t believe it. I could have sworn I had been there 2 years ago!) As luck would have it, my exam was the same day the New York Times reported on the updated breast cancer screening recommendations from the USPSTF.  I only knew of these recommendations because of reading a post on one of the blogs I try to frequent. What a great opportunity to ask my radiologist what she thought of the recommendations! She and I traded papers–she handed me the response put out by the American College of Radiologists, and I handed her a copy of the above mentioned post. My curiosity was sufficiently piqued that I spent the next three days researching and writing. You can read the results here.

But the main purpose of this post is to relate my personal experience taking the exam.

I have been going to Dr. Diana Guthaner for over 10 years to get my mammograms. Most of those years, I paid several hundred dollars out of pocket in order to have to have the test done through her office as she was not one of my insurance plan’s preferred providers. I always considered money well spent. Here’s why.

There is nothing anyone can do about the discomfort of the test. It is what is is—-as these images capture it so well:

Dr. Guthaner’s office does everything possible to make the rest of the experience as comfortable as possible.

The office staff are friendly and helpful. I am advised ahead of time to block out out about an hour and a half for the visit. After filling out the requisite forms, I am promptly escorted to the changing area, outfitted with a padded hanger, a small compartment for my clothes, and a mirror in order to assist me with the finishing touches of putting myself back together when the exam is complete. I am handed a cloth gown (no small thing in these days of cold, stiff, disposable, paper gowns) allowed to change  and then invited to sit in a small waiting area.

The waiting area is furnished with living-room style padded chairs and reading lamps, soft classical music, an assortment of magazines and a table with self-serve coffee and tea. The walls are tastefully decorated with a combination of pleasing art and educational displays.  An electric space heater keeps the area comfortably warm. There is a TV, but it is off, and a group of 3-5 women sit quietly and read while waiting.

Eventually, I am called back for my exam. It is performed quickly, and the technician apologizes profusely for the temporary discomfort I experience during the exam. We both know it is not her fault and can not be avoided, but still, its nice to have the discomfort acknowledged.

Then, back to the waiting area while the films are developed and then immediately read by the radiologist. I am one of those unfortunate few with patches of dense fibrous tissue which always requires extra views to adequately rule out the worrisome stuff.  After the radiologist is satisfied with the films, I am told to get dressed, and then within a few minutes, I meet the radiologist to review the results.

This is one of the best aspects of Dr. Guthaner’s practice. Having a mammogram can be anxiety provoking, especially if you require extra views. With rates of breast cancer one in 40 women (varies with age) most of know someone who has had breast cancer; many of know someone who has died from it. At Dr. Guthaner’s, every woman leaves the office knowing the results of the test and having had an opportunity to ask the radiologist whatever question may have arisen.

All-in-all, the experience is a positive one, and I leave reassured by the news of a negative test, and grateful for the efforts made to attend to my comfort and peace-of-mind. I can’t help but wonder how different my experience would be in Canada, or the U.K. or even in the U.S. under plans more sheltered from competition. I value the choice we have in this country, and hope that the recent political efforts do not take it away.

24 hours November 2, 2009

Posted by Beth in Personal.

I did end up taking that walk in the fog yesterday accompanied by my dear spouse. And then went again at 10:30PM under full moonlight–bright enough to cast sharp shadows and walk without flashlights, but too dark to capture on my camera. Another time-change gift was waking this morning at 5AM with the full moon setting over the ocean. Here’s a photo essay of those three walks–all withing 24 hours. Really! It was almost magic.

fellow travelors

Fellow Travelers in the Fog

frense-tree hole bent tree on bluff 3 trees in fog

in a foggy tree grove


dewy web $ weed-cor-crop


egret c.u. clear-cor

moon shots 047

moonlight on water 032 moonset 030 dk cu-narrow

moonlight on water  041 dk-narrow moonset dawn bluffs  044

moonlight on water dawn 040 lt

Sunday Morning November 1, 2009

Posted by Beth in Personal.

AFoggyMorningQuiet.  Calm. Foggy.

Everyone else is asleep–catching up on rest after a demanding week and a fun-filled Halloween.

Thanks to setting the clocks back, we all get an extra hour of time.

What will I do with it, this gift of early morning light? What do I want to do with this extra hour of solitude?

So much I could do, want to do.

Take a walk on the ocean bluff, like yesterday, when I was able to share a magic moment, watching a great blue heron, silhouetted in the blue-grey fog,  jut and strut, stalking its meal hidden in the misty field.

Browse the web…catching up on news, or  fascinating video clips recommended by blogfriends.

Work on my next post for Wealth is Not the Problem. I love the struggle to find the best words and logic with which to communicate why I believe a people whose government limits itself to the protection of individual rights is not only the most fruitful, but the most peaceful, compassionate and respectful of human life.

Catch up on my way-over-due reading for by MOBseter’s on-line book club.

Work on my new encaustic project…sitting on my desk, beckoning–almost but not quite taunting  me,  right next to the 2-inch stack of article printouts on health-care reform, and the other 2-inch-stack on climate change.

Upload photos from last night–All Hallows Eve–and post on how much I love this holiday with its goulish trappings, which if you aren’t careful will distract you from its REAL meaning: the benevolent sharing of the bounty of our “harvests” with neighbors–friends and strangers; the childhood love of sweets–a joy not to be forgotten without the risk of turning into a scrooge; the pleasure of living out a small and secret fantasy or dream–if just for one night.

Ah, so much to do.

Life is full.

3 good things (the smile version) October 25, 2009

Posted by Beth in 3 Good Things, Personal.
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Smile #1. My 91 year-old father-in-law’s, after receiving this past Friday his 6th and last cycle of chemotherapy for his marginal zone non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Smile #2. My 14 year-old daughter’s,  after attending her first ever high school (home-coming) dance.

Smile #3. My 17 year-old son’s, when last night, 10 of  his friends (several of whom graduated last year and are now away at college) snuck up behind him as he messed around on the computer– and wished him a belated  and surprise happy birthday!