Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Find of the Week

Where have I been, and why haven't I already tuned it to Lonny? Yeah, yeah, I've been a little occupied with doctors for the last couple of months, but this on-line magazine has been around since last year, and it is chock-a-block with amazing design ideas covering a whopping 200 pages.

Founded by fabric designer and blogger Michelle Adams (Rubie Green; MA Belle) and professional photographer Patrick Cline (Brand-Arts).  Michelle had worked at Domino and is from New York. Patrick is from London.  VoilĂ :  Lonny!  The online platform is brilliant. See something you like?  Just click on it, and the resource appears, ready for your shopping pleasure, if you are so inclined.

image from Lonny magazine
Feeling creative? Then, check out the do-it-yourself section. This issue, for example, has an upholstery lesson (pp 58-60). Sit down out at your computer or curl up with your laptop and browse at your leisure. I know, I know. I miss the print magazines, too, but my Kindle is teaching me to appreciate electronic media; and it is nice to avoid the expense and clutter of those magazines stacking up and my inability to throw them away.

A few years ago, I made myself begin tearing out magazine pages during the first read.  Then, I put those ideas in a three-ring binder for future reference.  With the advent of blogs and online magazines, saving and organizing those favorite ideas is simpler and neater.  Hudson spends a little time each day reading the online newspapers from every city where we have lived. I'm happy he does that and fills me in on what he thinks I would need to hear from our former hometowns. That allows me to spend time reading Lonny and other Finds.

God's word is still my favorite read and inspires me above all else.

Psalm 119:11-12
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't Touch That Dial

I live in my Suburban. It's my mini-office, pick-up and delivery vehicle (I once hauled a 90-inch sofa), and mode of transportation 80%  of the time. I just retired my 1997 Suburban with 249,000 miles. Broke my heart. I fit into that seat perfectly, and the inside was the color of my hair.

But, God provided me another one. It is a 2004 model, black with gray interior (NOT the color of my hair), less than 100,000 miles, and -- get this -- custom installed hanging rods in the back.  I knew it was meant for me when I saw those hanging rods.  No more wrinkled draperies!  It's growing on me.

When I'm in my Suburban, I am listening to talk radio 75% of the time, Christian radio 15% of the time, and music 10% of the time. And, I just have a simple request.  Don't mess with my radio station if you valet park my Suburban.

You see, Dallas has more valet parking sites per capita than any other city in the world (not a scientific statistic).  You can be valet'd at the movie, the hair dresser, the hospital, the World Trade Center, the mall, almost any restaurant (even if the parking lot is two steps away), and, of course, the usual places like hotels and special events. So, why is it that the valet dude feels it necessary to change my radio station?  Even if he is only in the vehicle for two minutes.  And, why must it be blaring?  And, why aren't there any women valet parkers?  Hudson says he has seen some, but I never have.  I'll bet she wouldn't change my radio station.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The King (of Pop) and I

I've been a little star-crossed this week. I'm not usually affected by their lives, don't think about them too much, and am not particularly impressed nor enamoured by their actions. But, in addition to my fixation on Robert Redford this week, I just realized that The King of Pop (aka Michael Jackson) and I have a lot more in common than I realized.

First case in point:  Shortly before my surgery on June 8 to remove my melanoma, the anesthesiologist came to meet with me. She explained the process of putting me to sleep for the procedure, stating that she would give me a little propofol to help me relax and go to sleep before administering the general anesthesia.  

"Isn't that what was Michael Jackson took before he died," I asked.
"Yes," replied the anesthesiologist.  "We call it Jackson Juice."
I was happy to receive it (administered professionally, of course) and enjoyed the sleep.

Fast forward to yesterday and second case in point:  As my dermatologist at UT Southwestern was performing the once-every-three-months scrutiny of every inch of my skin, including, as he says, "places where the sun don't shine," he stated that I had some incidence of vitiligo.

"What?" I reacted.  "Isn't that what Michael Jackson had?"
"Yes," he said.  "But, don't worry.  For you, it's a good thing."

He went on to explain that the whitening of my skin pigment indicated that my immune system was functioning in a good way against the melanoma.  First of all, who knew my skin could be any whiter?  But, yes, there they were -- some little patches of skin that are whiter --
like I missed a small area with the self-tanning lotion (except I don't use that stuff). I had noticed a little spot on the inside of my wrist, but didn't think too much about it.

He went on to tell me that it is a good sign because it means that my immune system is fighting the melanoma. More to the point, recent studies show that the presence of vitiligo in melanoma patients supports the hypothesis that vitiligo is a marker of immunity against melanoma cells and that its presence represents a favorable impact on the prognosis of melanoma patients. Ironically, it has normally been noted in persons receiving immunotherapy treatment. As we all know, I, as my M.D. Anderson oncologist put it, "rejected" that treatment. So, just maybe it indicates that my self-prescribed immune-boosting therapy is working. I am not smug nor arrogant about this possibility -- just very thankful that it might be, in fact, working.  

It was a nice report to hear on a Friday morning.  And, the unexpected connection to the King of Pop gave me pause.  The commonality of mankind and that which makes us unique are often the same. Why can't I dance like Michael?

 Jackson two years after he was diagnosed with vitiligo, here in the early stages of the disease

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

What has been will be again,
       what has been done will be done again;
       there is nothing new under the sun.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Robert Redford is 74 today

In 1996, I directed my husband to dress in straight-leg jeans, loafers (no socks), and a sports coat over a tee shirt.  I took him to the mall and had him stand at the bottom of an escalator as I rode up the escalator and looked back at him.  It was a sexy moment!

My inspiration:  Robert Redford and Michell Pfeiffer in Up Close and Personal, still in my rankings as one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen.  Add Celine Dion singing Because You Loved Me, and I'm a goner.

Admittedly, Mr. Redford hasn't aged all that well (too much SUNdance, I think), I don't care!  He is forever etched in mind standing at the bottom of that escalator. Skip to 7:54 on the YouTube video link below and just watch that scene, especially the last shot in the scene.  (Sorry that the dialogue is in another language; you'll get the point.)  Feel free to indulge yourself and watch the beginning, too, if you're feeling romantic today.

I encouraged my friend Janice to see the movie.  To this day, she has not forgiven me for not telling her the ending before she went (as if!).  Just in case, you've never seen it, I won't spoil it for you.  If that's the case.... what's wrong with you?  See this movie.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hodge Podge

I've been recovering from my trip to South Carolina and Tennessee.  I feel like I am slowly coming out of a coma.

Babies are a lot of work, but I loved every minute of being with Hudson (including the minutes we were separated by a locked door).  He's such a good little boy and very easy to care for.  He takes two good naps everyday and sleeps twelve hours at night.  Maybe that's my problem; I got too much sleep while I was away. He reached the important age of 14 months while we were together.  He's learning so many new things, speaking new words, and loves to explore.  He's definitely a hunter/gatherer and very neat with his things. We'll just hope that trait carries into junior high.  We'll also hope that his love for books continues. (Notice that he must always be holding my iphone)

We traveled to Jackson, Tennessee, to visit my niece Catherine and her little girl Lily (19 months).  She and Hudson got along very well.  Lily needed to teach Hudson a few tricks with the toys, and he was attentive to her instruction.  Catherine's mom arrived the day before we left, and we were excited to get this picture of all of us before we packed up to head back to South Carolina.

Upon returning to South Carolina, Hudson sat for his first haircut.  Such a little man, now.  A little sad, but the shaggy hair had to go.

My Hudson and I were apart for our very important 30th anniversary (August 9).  When I arrived in Tennessee, these beautiful flowers from my sweet husband awaited me. Lillies are my favorite flower, primarily because I love the fragrance.

My best friend and biggest supporter, Hudson has been my rock during the past.... well, thirty years.  He's just there encouraging me in his quiet way.  Most importantly, I know that he prays for with every single day.  What a joy and a blessing he is to me.

I'm feeling pretty strong these days, even though my leg and ankle continue to swell and my toes look like little vienna sausages by the end of the day. Some friends have shared that they experienced swelling for over a year with lymph node removal as a result of breast cancer. When the weather is a little cooler, I will wear compression hose, and that will help, I'm sure; I just can't do that in this heat.  Bring on Fall weather!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Porn Identity

We entered the movie just seconds before the preview started. My friend Paula and I were seeing The Girl Who Played With Fire.  We sat down quickly by a gentleman who was alone.

"May we sit beside you?" I politely inquired.
"Of course," he replied, "if you brought popcorn."
"Sorry.  No popcorn; but we have cookies."

He graciously accepted a cookie, thanked us, and the movie began. He was a nice gentleman, even tolerant when I grabbed his arm during a scary scene.

As the movie concluded, he asked, "Did you read the books?"
"Yes, I did. And, I was a little worried about the sub-titles. But, they really weren't that bad," I added. Paula leaned in to lend her agreement.
The gentleman offered, "Well, I see a lot of porn films, so it really doesn't bother me."

What did he say? Porn? I was freaking out. I had been feeding cookies to a pervert. Why would he feel compelled to tell me that? And, why did I always have to talk to strangers...especially those who see a lot of porn films?

I turned to Paula, speaking through clinched teeth, lips barely moving.  "Let's go!"
"What?" she asked.
"L e t ' s  g o !" I spoke with more urgency.
We hurriedly got up and exited the row.

"What's wrong?" Paula asked. "What's your hurry?"
"Didn't you hear what he said?  He said he watches a lot of porn films. Yikes!" I replied.
"Porn?  I thought he said he watches a lot of foreign films," countered my friend who obviously hears more clearly than I.

What? Oh, my. Poor bewildered stranger.

"We have to go back and explain," she said.
"Are you crazy?  I don't know him and he doesn't know me.  We're just gonna keep on walking."
And, we did -- with a futile attempt to contain ourselves.
Laughter truly is good for the soul!

Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Time Part 2

Some of my favorite memories of summer growing up center around the annual week I would spend with cousins in Saline, Louisiana. I lived in Saline until I was almost five, then moved to the much larger town of Quitman -- only about 25 miles away, but far enough that our visits were only a few times a year. My father had been pastor of Old Saline Baptist Church before we moved to Quitman. This is the little church where I walked the aisle to accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour and was baptized in a nearby pond by my father.

My parents and many other Toms relatives are buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church:

My father's only sister, affectionately referred to by all nieces and nephews as "Aunt Sis," was the matriarch of the Toms family. (Her given name was Virginia, and she married Leland Rhodes.)  We didn't think of her as head of the family when we were growing up because she usually deferred to her brothers, but in later years as their numbers dwindled, she assumed her rightful place. When she called with a request to "come," we all obeyed. Mostly because we always wanted to go to her house because it was fun.

Her mother ( my grandmother) had died at an early age and my grandfather, who had served as the marshall of Saline, was shot down by bootleggers in the main street of that little town.  So, the six brothers and their only sister were left to fend for themselves and care for each other. Aunt Sis was the only one of the bunch who made it to college, but that was not what made her brilliant to me.  Grouchiness is a Toms characteristic (I apologize to any relatives I might offend, but you know I'm telling the truth and all spouses will readily concur), and Aunt Sis was not without her moments. (They also love to argue for the sake of arguing, but I will save that topic for another day.) The other characteristic of the Tomses is a hint of laziness or more delicately put, the need to take frequent rests, especially after a meal.

Home of Aunt Sis and Uncle Leland in Saline, Louisiana.

Aunt Sis with (l to r) Nancy, Melba, and Steven
The same crew in the same order with my Uncle Leland and their dog Faith.
Same order with their paternal grandmother Lila Rhodes.

After a morning of running wild with my three cousins--Steven, Nancy, and Melba--Aunt Sis would holler for us to come in for lunch.  She and my Uncle Leland and his mother Miss Lila would have spent the morning picking and shelling peas or shucking corn or tending to the orchard of peach trees which fronted their homestead. We would come in all sweaty, smelling like puppy dogs (or big dogs), gulp down the delicious lunch she had prepared, and start asking, "When are we going to Diddywah?" I don't even know if I'm spelling this right, because I've never seen it written, but I'm trusting my Google search and cousin Steve. Suffice it to say that Diddywah was the coldest swimming hole in the universe.  It was spring-fed and probably only 6-feet at it's deepest point, with the maximum width being 10 feet. It was right off the side of the road with a bridge running over it.  Pea gravel lined the bottom at the shallow, sandy end. There wasn't a lot of space, and we would always hope that no one else wanted to find a place to cool off that day.

But, I get ahead of myself, because we WERE NOT going to the swimming hole until we had sufficient time to let our food digest because we would get cramps.  HAH!  That was a good cover for Aunt Sis taking her regularly-scheduled afternoon siesta; and, when we were younger, we were encouraged to comply with the horizontal position after lunch, as well.  When an eternity had passed, we would pile in the car and head to the swimming hole. I can still see Aunt Sis stretched out on a towel with her big hat reading a book, occasionally casting an eye our way to make sure no one had gone under for good. If we stayed long enough, our much older and larger cousin Anthony would show up and dive off a log stretched across the end of the creek. I dreamed of having the courage to walk up on that log and jump, but can't remember ever doing it. To this day, the smell of creosote brings memories of those summer afternoons at Diddywah.

When our lips turned blue, we would load up and go to the house.  A watermelon was usually waiting to be cut.  See, Saline has a world famous Watermelon Festival, of which my Aunt Sis served as the Grand Marshall, maybe twice. Those Saline watermelons are some good eating!

My Aunt Sis passed away a few months ago. Her funeral was in that little church where my daddy preached and I came to know Jesus .  She and Uncle Leland were pillars of that church and of that community.  She was the last remaining sibling of my father--my link to the Toms family. But, the bonds of laughter amid the arguments, the smell of creosote, the taste of watermelon, and the music -- there was always music, will join us forever.

My mother sitting behind me (I was three years old) and my Aunt Sis to the right of me.

Psalm 103:17
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--

Thanks to my cousin Steve Rhodes for the family pictures and for never letting a snake actually bite me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Time Part 1

Summer has, traditionally, been a time for vacation and visiting friends and family. At least that was the case when our children were in school. When school schedules were no longer an issue around which we lived, we became more casual in our visits, seizing a day or a week to get away. Since all of our family live away, we grab opportunities when we can.

But, last week was a week of celebrating family and friends without leaving Dallas. Our son drove over from Louisiana for the weekend, and we shared common loves:

Getting our raw fix at Sushi Zushi....

And, movies....

I didn't cry when either of my children went to college, but I cried when Andy drove off and left his toys.  Great movie for adults.

And, thanks to Mary Kay training, a close friend from my days in Indiana came to Dallas. We only had a few hours because I had to leave to fly to South Carolina, but we talked non-stop over lunch at Stephen Pyles. Folks always thought that Angie and I bore a close resemblance (she is much younger!), especially if you looked at my picture upside down.

We gathered with good friends to celebrate Parker's third birthday at the Highland Park Pharmacy. Hudson and I put together the candy buffet to go along with all the other fun stuff happening.

I haven't had a lot of free time since arriving in  South Carolina, but I managed to free up an hour to meet my good friend Catherine for coffee today.

There is an advantage to having lived in many different places during your lifetime. Good friends abound, and it is great when you can reconnect, even if only for an hour.

Ecclesiastes 4:10
      If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Where's the Key?

Look at this cute little boy.  It's my grandson Hudson (14 months old on the day this was taken).  Maybe, he's wondering, "Why is my KK outside and I'm in here?  Why is Fiona outside with KK and Boudreaux is in here with me?  Why are my other grandparents outside now?  Why is my Daddy driving up and frantically running to the door?"

The good news is that he will not remember this day when I locked myself out of the house while Hudson was inside the house.   For a good thirty minutes it was sheer panic as other doors and windows were tested, calls were made, and text messages were sent.

Hudson's mommy (Blue-Eyed Bride) is attending BlogHer 2010 in New York; I am in South Carolina with Hudson and his daddy and the two dogs.  On the evening in question, Hudson's daddy had dashed off to church to attend a meeting.  I had phoned in an order for food delivery.  When it arrived, I opened the door to receive the food and pay.  That's when the little devil dog Fiona who barks at every living thing decided to dash out the front door.  Impulsively, I closed the door behind me to keep Boudreaux, the better behaved Golden Retriever, inside, as well as not allowing Hudson to wander out on the porch and fall off the steps! Quick-thinking grandma, right?  Seriousy, WRONG!  The little auto-lock button was pressed, and I was locked out.  Yikes. 

I grabbed the food guy's phone, having a brief Carrie Bradshaw moment in reverse.  It was not a fancy sophisticated iPhone like mine.  It was some outdated version with buttons to push.  (Food guy later said,  "Wow, you figured that phone out a lot faster than I did."  Shut up and just give me the phone.)  

Sequence of events:

1)  Call Hudson's daddy.  No answer; in meeting.

2)  Call Hudson, my husband, in Dallas, Texas, imploring him to text Todd and give me the phone number for Hudson's other grandfather (and don't ask questions, just do it).

3)  Call other grandparents, who happen to be 5 minutes away having dinner, asking if they have key (already know they don't and there is not one hidden somewhere).

4)  Ask food guy to watch Hudson, who is standing on the sofa watching all of this through the window, while I run to back door just to check.  I do; it is locked; take note I can easily break out a window pane and reach to unlock that door as the keys are in the lock.

5)  Run back to front (running is a figure of speech here, understand, as I am aced bandaged on this particular day); Hudson is still standing on the sofa.  I can get an occasional grin from him by singing and making funny faces.  My goal is to keep him on that sofa looking at me so I can know where he is and what he is doing.  He is capable of getting off the sofa without getting hurt; that is, unless Boudreaux accidentally knocks him off.  Every time I tapped on the window to get Hudson's attention, Boudreaux would jump up on the sofa to see who was calling him.  Tell food guy that he is in charge of keeping devil dog Fiona, who is incessantly barking at food guy, in the front yard.

6)  Other grandparents arrive and start checking everything I have just checked.

7)  Hudson's daddy calls his dad and says he is ten minutes away.  He had received text.  I say, "Can you make it 3 minutes, please?"

8)  Food guy is still there because he wants his tip.  I ask other grandfather to please tip him so he can leave.  He does and he does.

9)  When other grandparents arrive, Hudson starts to shed a few tears because he wants to be where we are.  The tears begin to increase and it turns into sobbing.

10)  Daddy arrives, driving like sixty!  Dashes from the car to the front door to unlock and rescue Hudson from the evil grandmother.

I had been praying all the time that Hudson would just stay on that sofa and be safe until his daddy arrived. It was all fine, and Hudson was grinning in no time.

My son (now twenty-four) reminded me of a similar incident when I coached him through unlocking the back door when I was locked outside.  I didn't recall it (your mind erases those dreadful things), but did remember when I locked him in a running vehicle when he was only a few weeks old and had to call a locksmith to unlock the car.  There was, also, the time when I broke out a window and had my son crawl through it to unlock the door (he was smaller and could fit through that one pane size).  I also recall coaching our miniature dachshund, who was locked inside the car, into jumping on the door lock to successfully unlock the door.  (See any patterns here?)  I'm sure that my husband could recount a multitude of like events.

I am happy to report that the subsequent days have been less eventful and that Hudson's daddy is regaining confidence in my ability to care for his son.  Do you have a locked-out story?

Revelation 3:7-8
"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
      These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Note:  Photo is a reenactment of actual event.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Daily Dose

Boosting my immune system to fight any reoccurrence on melanoma has led me down a path of interesting eating habits and supplements.  Here's my daily regimen:
Juice Plus +  -- a whole food based nutritional product containing a wide variety of naturally occurring nutrients – including antioxidants and other phytonutrients – from 17 different fruits, vegetables and grains in powdered concentrate form.
Natural Vitamin D3 -- a useful nutritional tool to improve overall health.
Turmeric -- who knew what this little miracle spice could do?  I'm taking 4 grams per day,
Omega-3 Fatty Acids -- another essential for good health. Since the only meat I eat now is salmon, I probably get enough of this, but what's another pill.
Aloe Vera Juice -- for good digestive health.
Vitamin B Complex -- for energy and to offset the fact that I am eating a primarily vegetarian diet.

Other anti-cancer foods that I focus on are olive oil, dark chocolate (a potent least 72% cacoa), red grapes with seeds (never mind that your mother told you that grapes would grow in your stomach if you ate the seeds), brown grains, and green tea.  Overall, I'm just more cautious about what I put in my body (i.e., things from a can or plastic container or microwaved food).

There are many other things in the anti-cancer regimen:  breathing deeply to take in more oxygen, for example.  My most important aspect is studying the word of God to more clearly understand the plan He has for me  

Since some of my regimen can be rather boring, I have come to South Carolina for the next ten days to amend my daily dosing to include this:

Not boring, very satisfying, and makes you sleep well at night!  

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

Coming next:  How I, today, lost any hopes of winning "Grandmother of the Year" awards.