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It’s March 26. Juanita and I had marked our calendars for this day three weeks ago. Her coming over gave me the needed push to clear, clean and straighten the room. I even cleaned up the geraniums and fed them. She came at 11:00 and left around 2:00.

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She works on a page from my mandala coloring book while I draw with a Sharpie pen on a previously water-colored sheet.

Juanita and I talk about alternative health. I write down the ingredients for the morning breakfast shake she uses:

Organic blueberries
Spinach (fresh, organic)
Kale (fresh, organic)
Collards (when available)
1/4 Avocado
Coconut milk – organic, thick – best from Whole Foods
Sometimes – carrots, cucumber, celery
Add water and stevia

We talk about the “wheat belly” book and the cookbook, Against All Grain. We’re on the same page since we have similar health situations. I’m ready to ditch wheat again.

Talking flows while we color and paint. Here’s her finished mandala:

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And here’s my finished piece–I’m not sure it is finished. I may go back to it later:

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The idea was to enjoy one another’s company, relax, and have some fun with color. Mission accomplished!

Jim and I met on St. Paddy’s Day 33 years ago. We were encouraged to get together by mutual potter friend Margie Sivers in Denver. She had left a note on Jim’s  wheel at the co-op where he made his pottery to the effect “for a good time call Maria.” It wasn’t exactly stated that way, but we joke about it and the myth lives on.

Today we drove to Denver to pick up 400 pounds of clay. On our way from Buena Vista to Leadville, the canopy was dark with a bright window exposing the snow-covered peaks to the east.

 

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Moving on up the valley north of Leadville, the ceiling lifted:

 

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We made a pit stop in Frisco, and I shot this view of willows in front of Ten Mile Canyon, the canyon we had just driven through.

 

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The remainder of our day involved picking up the clay, eating lunch at Chipolte’s and visiting our Gaylord Street Gallery – The Creative Eye – to pick up a check for pottery sold.  And then the three-hour drive home where a crock pot of short ribs and cabbage was waiting.  Thirty-three years later we’re still in the mud and still having a good time.

My friend Marcy and I had intended to spend Thursday in Denver riding the light rails, exploring Union Station and  the 16th Street Mall. It didn’t happen. A small crisis occurred back home and we had to return to Buena Vista Wednesday night. Instead, Thursday afternoon she came to my house and we painted with watercolors.

Here is the the beginning of my card. After pasting the card to a hard backing with masking tape, I painted the whole card lightly with water, followed by half a dozen colors. This time I wanted pale colors. At this stage, I’ve detected the cat face and front paws in the amorphous watercolor pattern. I’m using a medium Sharpie felt tip pen to draw patterns.

 

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Here’s our art table before Marcy left to go home:

 

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By 4:00 pm my  card is finished. I had no preconceived idea about how to lay in the designs. If I were to do this again, I might fill in the background with bird shapes.

 

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Frozen Abstract Art

We’ve had a lot of snow, and it’s melting under a broiling March sun . . . and yet overnight temperatures re-freeze the puddles.

 

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These puddles formed in my driveway. I went out at 7:00 am this morning, before the sun crested our Mosquito Range to the east and took lots of close-ups.

 

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Water crystal designs mingle with underlying driveway gravel. Or crystals shoot out in rays from a heavy chunk of solid ice, as in the photo below.

 

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Last but not least, the lowly mud itself crinkles up into an interesting pattern.

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It’s nice to go out in jammies, coat, boots, wool hat and camera . . . and find art in the driveway. Each morning the designs reform into new patterns.

Gentle Reader,

If you are squeamish about medical procedures, press Exit now.

About 6 weeks ago, Jim discovered a bump on his ear. He thought it was a bug bite and so did his doctor in town. “Let’s wait and see if it goes away,” was the sensible advice. We didn’t pay much attention to the bump, and it didn’t go away.

A month passed and The Thing, which by now should have had a name, like “Spot” or “Old Yeller,” had grown to the size of a large pencil eraser. Jim saw his local doctor again, who said, “Maybe it should be biopsied.”

 

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We decided to go to a dermatologist in Salida, who immediately removed The Thing and sent it away for biopsy. It came back as Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

The dermatologist gave us two options — A “mohs” procedure with a surgeon in Colorado Springs or “frozen section” procedure with a surgeon in Salida. We decided to see Dr. Harry H. Payton (Central Colorado Ear Nose Throat) in Salida who is also a plastic surgeon. We were told that Jim’s ear would need some reconstruction.

The surgery took place in Dr. Payton’s office yesterday with his RN nurse/wife Deborah Payton assisting. Here’s a picture of Jim getting ready to “go under the knife.” If you look closely, you can see the bump in his right ear.

 

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Surgery was done with three injections of local anesthesia. The doctor removed a skin graft from Jim’s neck first. Then he removed the “plug” from the ear and sent it to the Heart of the Rockies Regional Hospital (across the parking lot from his office), where a pathologist examined it.  A phone call back to Dr. Payton deemed the margins were clear. And that’s when Dr. Payton stitched the skin graft on to  the wound. All of this took roughly an hour and a half. In by noon, out by 1:30.

Here’s Jim’s head showing the pressure bandage over the ear and the patch on his neck where the skin graft was harvested.

 

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Next Monday Dr. Payton will remove the stitches. We are glad the Evil Bump is no longer. The next effort will be to get Jim to wear sunscreen and some kind of hat to shade his ears!

Three days ago Niki Brown emailed her friends asking for prayers for her daughter Marika Guthrie. Marika was in intensive care with a very high fever and the cause had not yet been discovered. Marika has three young children all missing their mommy while she’s in the hospital.  Niki is taking care of them. Niki is about my age and she has her hands full with these bundles of energy.  In my mind’s eye, I see Niki caring for the children with so much love, as illustrated by this great sculpture entitled Mud Woman Rolls On  by Roxanne Swentzell, at the Denver Art Museum:

 

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Niki is this kind of grandmother — the one who gathers her babies into her arms and heart. But it’s hard right now because their mom is still in intensive care.

I was puzzled yesterday when I pulled the angel card JOY:

 

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I reflected on my day, not remembering this kind of joy at all. It had been a mundane 12 hours. Until I read Niki’s latest email that evening. She was in a state of pure joy. Marika’s temperature had dropped to normal and the cause of her illness had been diagnosed. It was mono — a viral infection. There were other complicating factors causing the spikes in fever, which have been determined.

From this experience, I’ve seen how we are all connected. My worry for Marika turned to peace as I read Niki’s email. I could envision Marika’s family dancing for joy knowing that their mom would be coming home soon.

Big Pussy Cat?

Last night another 4-6 inches sifted down silent as feathers. We awoke to another morning of shoveling. I shoveled the top deck. Jim shoveled everything else–the big south deck, the smaller west deck and the sidewalk to the garage. Upon opening the garage door from the inside, he found this:

 

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As chief pawprint identifier, I was called out of the house with my camera. Jim showed me that  the tracks led under the deck and then out into the rabbit brush. The prints did not belong to any house cat — they were almost double in size from our cats’ prints.

 

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And around each print was an indented “cup” at least 3 inches across. From this evidence, I guessed that we’d been visited by a bobcat with fluffy, fuzzy feet. We have a healthy crop of rabbits this year. Perhaps now, it’s one less.

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