Friday, September 30, 2011

Doctor, Doctor, Gave Me The News!

Consulted with new oncologist this week for what's turning out to be a quarterly blood test to monitor my MDS. My previous oncologist had to relocate out of the area. The new one was recommended by Sandi as she was very satisfied with his medical management of her chemotherapy. I liked him so we'll see how it goes with his diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The good news is my blood counts are relatively stable so he recommended we continue watching it every three months. No restrictions on my wild and crazy life style so that was nice to hear. Actually, my numbers were improved a bit from what they had been in June, just a little bit in each case but still lower than the ranges for normal counts of white blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets. Nevertheless, it looks like my "slowly emerging myelodysplasia" is still on the slow track and that's more than OK with me. It appears my decision to change from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Supplemental plan was premature.  I made the change anticipating chemo might be required this year and, had that been the case, it would have been a good economic decision to do that.  But I'm not disappointed.  I'd rather pay the Supplemental premiums even if I don't have to go through chemotherapy. Life's a crap shoot anyway so you just have to make the best decisions you can and stick with them. Until they turn out to be dumb decisions, in which case you adjust as quickly as you can. Make a new plan, Stan!  I could switch back during the upcoming enrollment period but I'll probably just stay with the same program. Premiums of $170 per month are nothing compared to the $1800 a month we paid for both of us two years ago.

Anyway, everything is cool so far and hope it stays that way for a long time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Of Scrap Delayed By Book Of Paver

I don't know if there's an official terminology to describe someone who produces a scrap book. A "SCRAPBOOKER" perhaps? One who prepares scrap books of cherished memories based on the old Latin verb, scrapolli, I suspect,  meaning to piece together documents and relics for the purpose of retaining visions of glories past. But here I am, deep into scrap booking or whatever you want to call it to record for posterity our trip to Alaska last June. That almost makes it more palatable, "recording for posterity" because when you say it that way it sort of sounds like genealogy. So some as yet to be identified heir of mine can come across said scrapbook a hundred years from now and see that his ancestors visited Alaska way back in 2011.  That sort of makes it worthwhile.  I have some mementos of my ancestors' trips, the most noteworthy being keepsakes my parents kept from their honeymoon. Hotel receipts and fliers and notes of expenses like cab fare and meals. Not exactly scrapbookish but sort of and I'm grateful to have them for my family history files. The problem with me, as in I, the scrapbooker extraordinaire,  is that I took too many photos. Now I've got to try to condense approximately 1800 photos into scrapbook proportions. Not an easy task, especially for a wuss like me who thinks every photo he takes is worthy of a Pulitzer prize and should be on the front page of National Geographic magazine (or at the very least, on the cover of SCRAPBOOK ILLUSTRATED).

So I've been slowly plugging away at this project for a few weeks now, ignoring my genealogy research for the most part except for occasional diversionary forays into just to keep the ancestry search juices flowing, and trying to make sense of, or I should say, trying to construct a scrap book of sorts that makes some sense in coordination with the chronological/geographical elements of our trip. When I'm finally done with it and if you ever get a chance to look at it be prepared to be confronted with, nay, overwhelmed  with lots of photographs of mountains! Keep in mind I've lived in Florida for the past 22 years so mountains are not an every day thing for me. So when I saw mountains, I took pictures of mountains. Lots of 'em.  But not all, just a lot. Here's a few pages of what I've got so far.

I added text to some pages that I call "header" pages like this one. When we drove from Valdez to Fairbanks we started off in a place called Keystone Canyon. So the page identifies the beginning in the scrap book of things we saw in Keystone Canyon.  Then, after a "header" page I grouped photos together in various formats like this:

I'm so darn creative I'm sure they are preparing to carve my name into the granite wall of honor in the Scrapbook Hall of Fame. But I'll have to admit, after a while of doing this it gets a little tedious. It's my own fault after taking so many freaking mountain pictures but it just starts to become boring. Beauteous? Yes, absolutely and especially in this case but boring nevertheless.    

Anyway, I've been doing this for a few weeks now and, by the way, this book of scrap was delegated to me by my wife because after doing about three pages of photos she got bored with it and suggested I take it over.  Lucky me! So I've been plugging away at it for awhile, some days a little bit, other days a few hours, some days nothing at all. But I keep coming back to it because I'm thinking about that unidentified heir in the year 2111 who comes across ScrapAlaskaBook at the bottom of a steamer trunk in the attic all covered with cobwebs and dust and wipes it off with his sleeve and blows the dust off and in mystery and awe announces, "Hey! Look at the pictures of the mountains.! Aren't they beauteous?!"

Alaska memories and scrapbooking of same had to go on hold recently because of a predicament I call "The Orange Crisis."  We live in a deeded community which requires approval from our homeowners architectural committee before any enhancements are made to the exterior of our homes. We have submitted a request for the committee's approval to put pavers in the alcove front entrance way to our home. Since a portion of our townhouse unit has a brick facade, we thought a paver in a brick-like design would provide a pleasant appearance. When we submitted our request we included printed literature from Home Depot that depicted the selected paver sort of orange in color. We didn't see it in the paver itself but the picture sort of presented the colors as various shades of bright orange. SHOCKING! isn't it?  This is what they saw:

OK, I've got to admit this is pretty orangie.  The literature says it's shades of brown but it definitely looks more orange than brown. This picture was taken in late afternoon sunlight when we get direct sunlight on our front entrance. I had no mountains to photograph so thought I'd get a photo of the sample paver as it would appear in our alcove. Not sure I could convince them it's not orange with this one. So I put this photo in file 13. The committee will not see this photo. I went out this morning and took new photos that did not have direct sunlight and showed how we pictured the paver design and colors blending in with the brick facade:

Hopefully, this gives a kinder and gentler appearance so the committee doesn't have to fear that Home Depot is opening up an annex at our address with a logo like accented entrance way. If it works, I only have my scrapbooking skills to thank.  I guess I could have made a header page for it, something like the bottom photo with the headline, "NOT ORANGE!" but I suppose that would have been pushing it. We'll see what happens when they consider with the new updated application. In the meantime, I guess I'll just keep on scrapping!