The Soroptimist Ruby Award, a future road trip for me, and education scholarship awarded in my honor

IMG_3409Tonight I was honored by the Pompano Beach Chapter of Soroptimist International. They presented me with The Soroptimist Ruby Award. I feel very humble, honored, and proud to be the recipient of this distinguished award. This award honors women who, through their efforts, are making an extraordinary difference in their community.


IMG_3407In addition to my award, they presented scholarships and awards to 5 other women. I posted an album with pictures of the event. Teri Kovacs was the official photographer and she said that she will provide me with the photos she took so I could add them to my website.

My eyes teared while Sandy Johnson told parts of my story and why I am being honored tonight, and also when I received a standing ovation from everyone there. It really touched my heart. When Susan Motley was introducing the recipients of the other 5 awards, I felt so happy and proud for them. They each had an amazing story and their achievements are substantial. I was really impressed when the story was told of one of the recipients who is in high school and is working on a project getting used pacemakers that are in good working condition, but cannot be used in the USA, but can be sent to India to be used for people there that are in need but cannot afford new ones. She took 21 pacemakers to India recently, they will be used to save lives. I felt so proud of her, and I never met her before. I don’t think I was thinking of this type of thing when I was in high school. I did trick or treat for Unicef when I was young. Maybe some of you remember Unicef and the program they had back then, and maybe they still do.

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Also, I want to let you know that I have been feeling pretty good the past 2 days which is a huge blessing and wonderful surprise to me. If all goes well, my plan is to sign out of Hospice by the end of April or middle of May, and head north towards Georgia and South Carolina. I want to see my friends along the way, and also visit the firefighters in those states that I met and/or departments I gave donations to. I  know it will be a bit of work loading everything into the camper, but well worth it. Remind me of that when I get back and have to unload everything again.

Update, April 17: After talking with my doctor’s office, the insurance company, and Hospice this morning, it seems that if I leave about the middle of May it would be the best option. By waiting 2 weeks longer to leave, I should be able to have enough medicine to be away for about 2 months, rather than 1 month if I leave next weekend. I want to be gone on as long of a trip as possible, and I will have problems getting medicine once I am out of this area, so if I have to wait an extra 2 weeks to leave but it gives me another month on the road, it is worth it. I don’t really want to wait the extra 2 weeks to leave, but I feel there must be a reason I’m not leaving yet. I’m praying about it and I know that God has a plan. I’ve also realized that there can be a lot of changes in a few days or even weeks. I feel really blessed that I’ve had several days in a row where I am feeling better and not in much pain. I still get tired easily and take naps, but that’s okay. Staying longer will also give me more time to use up the food in my freezer and refrigerator.

Update, April 21: Today was the Broward County Municipal Clerk’s Association lunch meeting, and I along with Barbara who is another retired clerk and a good friend of mine attended the meeting. The program was legislative updates and proposed changes to laws regarding public records and meetings. As the city attorney told about the proposed changes, Barbara and I who were sitting next to each other looked at each other and we agreed that we’re glad we’re retired.

scholarshipIn October 2013, I attended the city clerk’s lunch meeting where a scholarship in my honor was voted on and approved. Today, the Ayesha Robinson, the Oakland Park Deputy City Clerk, was awarded the first Carol Landau Educational Scholarship. It was an honor for me to be present to see this scholarship awarded. In addition, upon arrival at the meeting, everyone was given a raffle ticket for a drawing for a gas card. Ayesha won that too. We all thought that’s pretty cool, she can use it to pay for gas when she attends the June conference which is paid for with the scholarship she was awarded today. As a side note, when I first moved to Florida from Texas, it was because I had accepted the position as the Oakland Park City Clerk. Interesting that the first scholarship was awarded to someone from Oakland Park. It was not planned.

Here is a copy of the press release that the Broward City Clerk’s Association is sending to the state and national city clerk organizations. Carol Landau Scholarship

On November 5, 2013, I wrote about being present at the meeting where I was being honored with having an educational scholarship awarded in my name, Lois stories, surprises I received from my friends at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and much more.


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Madray Springs VFD Training, Patty at Wedding, Parrot Puzzle, and baby birds

If you have been reading my posts since last summer, you may have read in July 2013 about the Madray Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Georgia submitting a video in hopes of winning 10 pair of boots for their department. They got the most votes and won the boots. Check out their We Need Boots video on Utube… it will make you laugh. I watch it every now and then and it’s still funny. Patty, one of their firefighters is the lady making believe that her cat is in the tree. Chief Ashley Dent is the driver of the fire truck and is wearing a blue baseball cap. Chief Dent and a few of his firefighters still keep in touch with me. Patty and I have spoken on the phone, she has a great laugh and sense of humor. She’s sort of the mother of the group of firefighters and she takes pride in her “guys.”

Patty boots Patty flowersI was really surprised yesterday when I received a package from Patty. It contained a crystal angel for me, a thank you card with words that I know were written from her heart, a jump drive with the pictures of their recent fire department training, and also as she called it silly video of the wedding rehearsal she recently participated in when asked to stand in for her niece at the dress rehearsal. Patty gave me permission to post them in a story. I thought you might like to see them too. Patty was hesitant to stand in for the bride at the rehearsal, but she decided to do it anyway. However, she did it with her own special flair. Several weeks ago we talked and she told me how she went and bought a wedding dress at a thrift store, along with some plastic flowers. She wore thick black glasses, too much makeup, and also black socks and boots. We had lots of laughs thinking of what else she could do to make this rehearsal funny and memorable. Please watch the three videos at the end of the photo album, they will make you smile, perhaps even laugh. It doesn’t show in the video that she is wearing the socks and boots, I’m guessing that’s why everyone is laughing.

You would not know it by looking at Patty, but her and her husband trap and catch alligators. Especially, if they are in an area they are not supposed to be or in a place that can cause harm to people. I can’t imagine me even attempting to do something like that.

I posted an album with the videos and all of the photos Patty sent.

In addition to pictures she took during the department’s training exercise of the firefighters cutting a car apart, she also included a picture of the six sets of bunker gear which are some of the items I purchased for their department. It means a lot to them, not only can they respond to calls more equipped now, but it also allows them to have their department names on their bunker gear. Previously, all of their gear was handed down from the county or other departments, so instead of MSVFD, it would have the other agencies initials. They like the fact that when they are on calls now, people can see that they have the MSVFD department on the scene. It looks like perhaps the Odum and Wayne County fire departments participated in this training. If you enlarge the photo on the top right below, you will see my name on the back of Chief Dent’s helmet. He and the other two chiefs, Chief Altman and Chief Truman, and the firefighters that came to meet me asked me to sign their helmets, which was an unexpected honor for me.


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Chief Altman, Chief Dent, and crew

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IMG_3346IMG_3347 IMG_3348 IMG_3349 IMG_3351 IMG_3352Because I have not been working on a puzzle very often, I haven’t included any stories about jigsaw puzzles recently.  Mostly, I’ve been reading books, taking naps, and relaxing. The last puzzle that was started was in February when we began Parrots in Paradise. I showed the beginning of it towards the end of February when Pam, Mary Lou, and I got part of the outline completed. It would be worked on every now and then, but not lots of progress the past few weeks. This has not been an easy puzzle to work on, besides the odd shaped pieces, there are only a few main colors to the pieces, and you might not be able to see it unless you enlarge the pictures, but there are hidden objects and small bugs, butterflies, etc. in the puzzle which makes it more interesting, but also more challenging. Now, since there has been some progress this week I thought I would provide an update and some pictures of the progress of the puzzle. As in other puzzles, we complete sections on foam board then move them into the outline of the puzzle. It makes it easier to work on large puzzles this way. My friend Sandy came over and helped, then yesterday Pam came for a visit. Between the three of us working on it this week we made some progress.

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Last fall a bird built a nest under the ledge of the roof outside my front door and two baby birds hatched and then flew away. The nest remained and I haven’t seen any birds there until today. I saw a mother and two babies, the mom was really wet she must have been out in the heavy rain we had today. Strange that I didn’t see her sitting on the nest like last time. I saw her feeding the young birds today, then a few hours later all I saw was one of the babies sitting on the edge above my living room window. The baby bird is about 3 or 4 inches long and about 2 or 3 inches high.

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Update: Monday morning. When I woke up today the baby bird was back in the nest. A few hours later I heard a noise on the ledge outside my side living room window. I looked out and saw the baby bird on the narrow brick ledge, then the mama bird joined it and was feeding the baby. Now they are just sitting side by side enjoying the shade and light breeze. bird1 bird2 bird3 bird4 bird5 bird6I can hear them making cooing sounds. It looks like it’s some type of small dove.

This is the closest I have been able to watch a bird interact with it’s baby. I am able to get about a foot or so from the window. I don’t want to lift the mini blinds because I don’t want to scare the birds. Every now and then the mama bird turns around and looks in my window.


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Relay For Life, American Cancer Society Event

Below are pictures and stories from two local Relay For Life (RFL) events. I have been involved with the Deerfield Relay for about 10 years, and I have served on the Committee for a majority of those years. It was such a rewarding experience. I met so many wonderful people and we raised a lot of money for programs to help cancer patients and their families, and to help fund education and research too.

IMG_3175 IMG_3177 IMG_3183 IMG_3185Saturday afternoon , April 5th, at 4:00 p.m. the was the kickoff for the Relay For Life event for the cities of Deerfield Beach, Lighthouse Point, and Hillsboro Beach. The theme is Florida Shines for a Cure. I arrived about noon and started taking pictures as teams were setting up their booths.


I know that the entire RFL committee and teams are very thankful to all of the sponsors who helped make this event a success. This year Renee’s Bath Fitter team worked really hard and produced a RFL program as a fundraiser.








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2014 Relay Committee Members

IMG_3169 I posted the pictures I took, which includes the April 5th Deerfield Beach, Lighthouse Point, Hillsboro Beach Relay, and also the Pompano Beach Relay which was held on April 12th. During the Deerfield Relay someone took pictures for me while I was on stage talking as the survivor speaker. What an honor that was for me. The quilt that I made from Relay t-shirts several years ago and which is hanging in the Fort Lauderdale American Cancer Society office, was hung on the back of the stage for this event. When I donated the quilt, which is all hand quilted, I said that only this RFL event can hang the quilt.

Thankfully, I was able to attend and stay the entire time until about 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning when all of the people still there walked a final lap around the track. It was really touching. It was still dark and all of the luminaria bags were still glowing with the candles that were lit about 9:00 p.m. Saturday night. The luminaria ceremony is the most emotional part of the Relay event. Bags with the names of people who have survived their battle with cancer and those who lost their life due to cancer are placed along the track and a candle is lit in each bag and it glows all night into the morning. I brought my camper van and I did  rest and take some short naps, and took my pain medicine when I needed to, which permitted me to stay the entire 14 hours. Cancer doesn’t sleep so neither do we… at least in theory. There have been years in the past where I didn’t sleep either for the entire time. This year I had to take some rest periods.

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IMG_3279I was given the honor of telling my story as a cancer survivor. Dennis, one of the Healing Spirits team members, was kind and took pictures while I was involved in the survivor portion of the opening ceremony. I saw that in some of the pictures while I was talking my eyes are closed or I am making a strange face. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because the sun was in my eyes, or maybe I was blinking. Or perhaps I was thinking about what God wanted me to share about my experience with cancer. I have no idea. I think lots of times photos are taken while someone blinks. I bet it’s happened to you too.

Whenever I’m asked to speak anywhere, for any type of meeting or event, I never plan in advance what to say. I just pray before I speak and ask God to have me share whatever I’m supposed to in order to help others and give them whatever message God wants me to. It touches my heart after I talk when someone comes up to me and tells me that something I said inspires them, gives them hope, or touches them in some other way. I usually don’t remember much of what I share, sometimes onl and pieces. Then, later on I think I should have said… or … Then I have to remember, I asked God to let me share what I’m supposed to and if I feel I did that in my heart, then whatever message came out was what was meant to be shared. I also know it’s difficult to share lots of a person’s life story in about 5 minutes, or really any time period given to talk. Once again, at the Relay, I got to meet and get to know many new people, and see people from previous years.

IMG_0509JB’s on the Beach provided an exceptional dinner for the survivors and their caregivers. I think this is the 5th year in a row that they have done this for our event. We sincerely appreciate their kindness and generosity. This mouthwatering dinner consisted of delicious bar-b-que and several side dishes. JB’s is the same restaurant that provided the lunch to me and the Georgia firefighters when then came to visit me in July 2013. I also celebrated my 63rd birthday at JB’s the end of September last year. I glanced at my birthday story when I inserted this link. Until I reread the post, I forgot what I wrote on my birthday. Please make time to read it, perhaps it inspire you, let you know a little bit about me and my life, give you food for thought, and let you know how special this day was to me.

By the way, Scott Moen the General Manager is a great guy and one of the new friends I made last year. Chef Mike is an excellent chef and also a nice guy. If you want an excellent place to eat if you are in the Deerfield Beach area, please stop by JB’s on the Beach. Their bar-b-que is excellent!!! They smoke the bar-b-que in their own kitchen.

Back to my RFL story, the goal this year was to raise $118,000. Thanks to the hard work and efforts of Event Chair Nona, co-chair Karen, committee member Renee, and many more people, as of 6:15 a.m. the amount raised is $126,000.  Fantastic, Extraordinary!!! And… there are still more fundraisers happening and donations being received.


IMG_3368On Saturday, April 12th, was the Pompano Beach Relay so my mom and I went to support this event. There were less teams than at the Deerfield Relay, however, the enthusiasm and effort the teams put into this Relay event is the same that I have seen at every RFL event I have gone to, both in Florida and also other states. Photos of this event are partway down in this photo album.

IMG_3356 IMG_3370The weather on Saturday was beautiful for the Pompano Relay. The theme was Superheroes for a Cure and when we signed in as a survivor, in addition being given our survivor shirt, we received a carnation, which happens to be my favorite flower, and a plastic hand clapper to used like clapping hands.

The survivor speaker read her story which was in the form of a journal. She shared about her experience when she heard the diagnosis that she had cancer, about having to learn about various treatment options and having surgery. She shared about her continued fears related to cancer. As she spoke, I thought back to when I was first diagnosed with cancer. I was 21 years old, I was to be married in four months. Before the doctor told me, he told my parents. I was walking out of the exam room towards his office when I heard my parents tell the doctor to tell me the results, that I could handle it. When the doctor told me I had cancer, I remember feeling like a building fell on me. It was like a scene in a movie when buildings were demolished and they just collapsed. I felt as if all of the bricks fell on me and I was buried under the rubble for a short time.

Since my first diagnosis in 1972, I have had a significant number of procedures, biopsies, and operations as a result of cancer. But, I don’t remember having fear during any of them, maybe I did early on and I just don’t remember that I had fear, it was a long time ago. I know in the past 26 or years I don’t live with fear. I choose to live with faith, hope, and gratitude in all aspects of my life. Every time I went for a checkup and during the times the doctor would say he needed to do a biopsy, I would just say “okay God, the results are up to you.” Frequently, the results were not cancer, but I would still have to have procedures to remove rectal polyps, they can turn malignant, eventually mine did and because I was checked often I had surgery and didn’t need other treatment. I’m not saying I liked having surgery, or I was happy about the possible or actual return of cancer. I just knew that there was nothing I could do about it except to get the results and make a decision about what to do based on the results, the doctors recommendations, and what I felt was the best option for me. I know when I had my first operation in 1972 to remove all but a foot and a half of my large intestine, I was told my cancer would return and I would have to be watched closely to detect it early when it did. I was checked frequently over what turned out to be 20 years before my cancer returned in the remainder of my large intestine and rectum and in 1992 these body parts had to be removed and I was given a permanent Illeostomy. In 2010, I had four more operations, my body was surgically altered again and more organs were removed. It was not fun, and it changed my life once again. It helped me to make different decisions on what is important to me, and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I’ve written about this several times in my posts during the past few years.

rubinosAnyway, back to the Pompano Relay story, after the opening ceremony, the Mayor and a few volunteers put a survivor sash on each of us and our caregivers. We then walked the survivor lap which was lead by two sheriff’s deputies on motorcycles. We were escorted to an area where Bobby Rubino’s Restaurant provided a delicious meal of bar-b-que and several side dishes. The Girl Scouts were our servers, they came by our tables often asking if we needed anything, and they gave each survivor a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

IMG_3359 Silly Sue made balloon shapes for the children, the Pompano Fire Department had their Lil Squirt fire truck handy and they gave the children plastic red fire helmets, and the Sheriff had mounted patrol officers with horses which was a big hit with everyone.



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Akron blimp

The Goodyear Blimp was flying today, the Goodyear Blimp Base is close to this park. I was extremely fortunate and got to ride in the Spirit of Innovation Goodyear Blimp twice in June 2013.

Jessie Brooks is the American Cancer Society staff partner assigned to both the Deerfield and Pompano Relays and we just love working with her. You can tell how dedicated she is to this cause. Jessie works long hours and she is a great source of inspiration and encouragement to all of us involved in the Relay, and she helps in so many ways to make sure we have fun and successful events. If you want to know more about Relay For Life, or find an event in your area, you can find the information here.

When I traveled around the country in my camper, if I saw signs for RFL events, if the timing worked out, I would stop and go to the event. I frequently wear my RFL t-shirts and I’m always glad when people stop me and tell me that they are involved or participated in their local RFL event. We talk a while and share our stories of why we are involved, or how cancer has touched us or our family and friends. I have been stopped in grocery stores, at the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, in campgrounds, and I even saw someone with a RFL t-shirt at Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

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FIHA Pow Wow, Fort Pierce, and Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Okeechobee, Florida, then more pow wow story, and thoughts about camping and life experiences

I am so grateful that I was able to go away for a few days to the FIHA Pow Wow in Fort Pierce, Florida, and also take a side trip to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (AWRC) in Okeechobee, Florida. I decided to write about this weekend as it happened. So, you will read about some pow wow, then my trip to AWRC, then more pow wow story. My friend Cindy drove down from Jacksonville so we could have some time together. I was really happy she was able to take a few days off of work to so we could have time to have fun together.

I decided to drive to the FIHA Pow Wow this weekend. Many of my friends that are vendors and who I have seen at other Florida pow wows in the past several months will be here. After this pow wow they all head north and west to various pow wows, then in the late fall they come back to Florida. You can read about the other pow wows and flute festivals I attended in my November 2013  and December 2013 stories and my February 2014 story. Here is my album of FIHA pow wow pictures.

I arrived at the pow wow grounds on Thursday afternoon. I was able to drive here safely and only stopped a few times along the way to get some groceries, and treats for the animals at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Cindy and I decided last week that we would make time over the weekend to go there for a visit since we both enjoy visiting with Sue and feeding the animals treats. About dinnertime on Thursday night all of the vendors and FIHA volunteers had a covered dish dinner… there is always great food when everyone brings different foods.

On Friday morning as the vendors set up their tents, I walked around visiting with my friends and talked with them as they worked. In several of my previous pow wow stories I introduced you to several of my vendor friends and described the types of items they sell in their booths. Further down in this post I will introduce you to a few more of my vendor friends and post more pictures, not only of these vendors booths, but photos from some of the previous ones too. Friday was Children’s Day so there were lots of people telling stories for the children and doing various craft demonstrations for them.

IMG_2970 IMG_2971 IMG_2982 IMG_2994The jingle dress in the picture below on the left has 365 cones, to represent a prayer for every day of the year.  If you want to learn more about jingle dresses and the tradition behind it, do a search for jingle dresses.

Also, on Friday, the Fort Pierce Police Department brought out two special tactics vehicles. They were very impressive in size. The tires were almost as high as I am tall. There were some officers on hand to explain about the vehicles and also to take pictures with the children. The black SWAT vehicle is an armored vehicle, it can plow through buildings. I had my picture taken next to it so you could see how large this vehicle is. The Special Weapons Tactic vehicle is equipped to be a mobile operations center with computer hookups, generators, etc. I noticed that the tires on the armored vehicle are Goodyear… Pretty cool… check out my two rides in the Goodyear Blimp in June 2013.

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Saturday morning Cindy and I decided to drive to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (AWRC) in Okeechobee which is about a 30 to 40 minute drive from where we were. If you have been reading my posts you know that this is probably the 6th time I have written about my visits there in the past year or so and I always post an album with pictures taken each time. In my January 21st story and album there are lots of videos I took feeding the animals.  As always, I stocked up on treats for the animals, they love fruit loops cereal, mini frosted shredded wheat, lollypops, and orange pieces. Sue told me that all of the fruit loops pieces taste the same, regardless of their color. This time, I got smart… finally… instead of peeling the oranges there and getting really sticky and then trying to take pictures, we peeled and sectioned the oranges and put them in baggies and took some damp paper towels so we could wipe our fingers. It worked great. Here is the album with pictures from this trip.

Upon arriving at AWRC Sue Arnold greeted us, so did Henry the donkey. Cindy and I got to pet a month old baby otter and also a month old baby muntjac deer, this is the new sister to the muntjac deer you have been reading about for several months. Sadly, the baby muntjac deer you read about in previous posts who is now about 6 months old is not doing well. She was blind at birth and now she has developed neurological problems and she cannot stand or walk anymore. She can still eat but her health is deteriorating. Also, when we walked around I didn’t see one of the large iguanas and when I asked about it I was told that she got cancer in her mouth and died. The good news is that the female Indonesian Jade Peacock is sitting on a nest of eggs and hopefully there will be babies born. This is a rare and endangered animal so it would be nice if there were some new babies.

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The two Asian fishing cats which are also rare and endangered are now in the same cage and when the female gets older they may breed too. After we were there a while we noticed that the baby otter that was being bottle fed when we got there was now in the swimming pond with the large male otter. I think he was happy to have company even though they were in different areas of the pond. His mate died a few years ago and he evidently missed her. The baby was playing in a corner of the edge of the water pond ledge. She was rubbing against some rocks scratching her body and it looked like she was enjoying it. The male otter was rubbing his back on some brushes nailed to a log… it looks like also was enjoying it.


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IMG_3041Zeke the Capuchin monkey, who is 34 years of age, has a new cagemate, her name is Cricket. Her owner died a while ago and she was brought to ARWC so she could have a great new home. She and Zeke seem to get along fine. When we gave treats to them she would want to take the first one and take it away from him so we had to be sure to give him the treat first and then let her have one. Cricket loved the oranges too, but she didn’t seem to devour the flesh of the orange sections as thoroughly as Zeke did, sometimes he went and took the ones she discarded and finished eating them. I imagine she is having a big adjustment. She went from living with a lady and sleeping in bed with her and being a constant companion to being in an outdoor cage with Zeke. She seems to be adapting. She likes to be in the cloth hammock hung in the cage, that’s where she took many of the treats when she eat them. It was interesting to watch her eat the lollypop. Zeke takes his lollypops and sucks them slowly and really savors them. Cricket however, seems to bite pieces of hers and she holds the lollypop in both hands horizontally and she gets her hands all sticky and looks at them and then pulls at the candy part again and puts it in her mouth, then looks at her sticky fingers again. When she finished eating the candy, she looked at the stick trying to figure out where the candy went, then she bent the stick in half and bent it again until it broke in half. There are several video’s of them eating the oranges and lollypops. Here is one of the videos, this is Cricket eating a lollypop. MVI_3098 , most of the videos are too long and won’t upload here. You have to watch them from the album, I promise if you love animals the videos in this album and the one from January 21, 2014 are worth watching.

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We fed the raccoons, foxes, prairie dogs, marmosets, llamas, deer, lemurs, and other animals that are allowed to eat cereal the fruit loops and frosted mini shredded wheat. After we were finished we got lollypops and fed them to the lemurs. I found it interesting to see that like us, the animals have a preference for treats. Each time I visit I carry different cereal boxes as I walk around the cages. I start to feed each animal what I fed them last time and it seems now they want something different. This time it seemed the fruit loops type cereal was everyone’s favorite, except the llamas, deer, and prairie dogs, they liked the mini shredded wheat better. One of the lemurs wanted a treat that fell outside of their cage and it took it’s tail and tried to reach it. I had no idea that it would use it’s tail to get an object, I thought it would only be their paws. I also got to see the kangaroo this visit since it was near the fence. The past few times it was out in the pasture somewhere and it was not in a spot where I could see it.

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After spending several hours feeding the animals and visiting with Sue, we went to say goodbye. Jimmy the calf was loaded onto a trailer and going back home to the farm where he was born. When he was born in December 2013, his mother was not able to take care of him and he was brought to AWRC to be cared for. He is now grown and healthy and going home to his mom.

If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to donate to AWRC is one of the ones to consider. All of the money donated goes to the care and feeding of the animals. Sue, Freddy, Angela, and the volunteers really take excellent care of the animals and you can tell by watching them how much they love every animal. If you live in the area and want to volunteer, I’m sure they would be glad to have your help. If you visit or make a donation, please let Sue know that you heard about her from me. If you make time to visit and tell her you know me… she might let you feed treats to the animals and give you a special tour.

Cindy and I left and headed back to the pow wow, we detoured through the town of Okeechobee and had bar-b-que for lunch. It started raining as we drove back and after we got to the pow wow it started raining really hard. I felt bad for all of the vendors, dancers, and FIHA staff who worked so hard for this event. It finally cleared up about 6:45 p.m. There were not very many spectators or dancers, but those who were there had a great time. The sunset was spectacular… the colors were amazing.

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Sunday, the weather was beautiful. There were lots of people walking around, enjoying the crafters and dancers. What a great surprise and treat for all of us… Kevin Locke who is an extremely talented performer, and his wife and daughter came to the pow wow. Kevin plays the Native American flute and he often plays the old traditional songs of his Lakota tribe, with the tribes’ permission to share these songs. He also plays many other types of songs as well. I have several of his albums and I consider them among my favorites.

k15 k17Kevin is also known for being a Lakota Hoop Dancer, he dances using at least 28 hoops, which is absolutely amazing. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone other than Kevin using that many. I talked with him about two hours before the pow wow was over and asked if he was going to be doing the hoop dance and he said probably not. So, I didn’t get my camera out of the camper, I had already taken pictures earlier in the day and also on Friday. Just before the pow wow ended, the emcee announced that Kevin would be performing the hoop dance. I didn’t have time to go get my camera or if I did I would have missed his performance, which I didn’t want to do. It would have been great to take some video of his dancing, but it didn’t happen. I did however, take lots of pictures with my phone and I uploaded them into my photo album. If you go to the album and click on the pictures quickly it might look like a video of him dancing… sort of.

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If you ever get the opportunity to see Kevin Locke perform in person, please do not miss this experience. I promise you will be thoroughly entertained and mesmerized. If you do see him, please go up and tell him hello and that you know him through reading my stories. In fact, if you see any of the performers or vendors I write about, say hi to them and tell them you read about them in my stories and give them a hug from me. Kevin performs all over the world. He told me that he just returned from performing in China. How cool is that. His wife and daughter live in Florida and he also lives part of the year in South Dakota. If you know of an event that would be interested in having Kevin perform, please contact him. I know he would love to have more performances in Florida because his family lives here. On his website, there is a page about his hoop dancing. When you click on Next Page there are several topics. I clicked on the hoop dancing and it gave a link to a Utube video of Kevin doing the hoop dance. If you want a treat, watch this almost 6 minute video.

I thought this would be a good place to introduce you to some more of my vendor/crafter friends. There are more pictures of them and the items they sell in the FIHA album.

IMG_2974 IMG_2975 IMG_2978 IMG_2979I wrote about Jeff and Cindy from Spotted Pony Traders in my January 2014 Vero Beach Pow Wow Story, but I didn’t have pictures from inside their booth. They sell lots of types of leather hides and beads and moccasins they make.



Dean and Tanya Morrison own Trailwalker Crafts, they sell buckskin purses, pouches, moccasins, and many other items including some for children. They can be reached at trailwalkercrafts at They don’t have a website. I love the rock faces they create.


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Randal Estrada sells jewelry, mostly with insets of turquoise and other stones. Randal always sets up his 14′ Cheyenne Plains Indian tepee behind his booth. He sleeps in it during the pow wows. He was telling me that he bought a new one and will be using it shortly, this one is about 25 years old and getting where the canvas is too worn to patch anymore. The interesting thing about this tepee is that it has several places where it’s handpainted. The design on the frong of a thunderbird and buffalo were pained by a lady from Philadelphia. The two designs on the sides are eagles painted by a Russian test pilot on loan to NASA, the 4 stars in Russia means good luck. He does not have a website and I do not want to post his phone number here. If you are interested in contacting him you can contact one of the other vendors I write about and I’m sure they can locate him.

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My friend Sandie who owns Inner Mountain Stones and Woods was here too. I am always amazed with the new items she creates. I am convinced that she can take anything, any shell, bone, stick, seed pod, and turn it into a work or art.

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wild sageAlso, Natalie and Paul from Wild Sage Jewelry were here too and we are always glad to see each other. Natalie makes wonderful smelling lye soaps and lotions adding various essential oils.



IMG_2859Of course, my friend Ron Huntingbear aka Bear was here too. Bear sells Pendleton blankets, Native American music, videos, and books. Bear is on his way west to Albuquerque, then north to Montana. He is stopping in Oklahoma City to see our mutual friend Albert Gray Eagle. I sent a hug with Bear for Albert.


The pow wow ended late Sunday evening. Almost everyone left either Sunday night or Monday morning. I decided to stay here and camp for a few extra days. I moved to a campsite on the waterway and I sat outside and read, and when I wanted to be inside I read on my sofa with my back door open so I could look at the water and marsh. There was lots of water in the waterways. I didn’t see any alligators this year, but I did see numerous Sandhill Cranes.

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If you want a great place to camp, canoe or kayak through the marsh and waterways, check out the Savannas Recreation Area in Fort Pierce, Florida. It’s a quiet, peaceful, and relaxing place to be.




It was really nice to get away, do some camping, and see my friends before they head north. During the weekend I took my medicine so I would be pain free and I took naps and rested in the afternoons. Cindy drove to AWRC so I was able to take my medicine to enjoy our time there. It felt so good to get away and have a change of scenery and see my friends. On the drive home Tuesday morning I got really tired and my insides hurt, so I stopped in a rest area and took a short nap. I have to tell you… it’s a lot more work to pack the camper for a short trip and unload it when I return than it is to live in it full time. Every time I go away I have to load my pillows, linens, towels, clothes, food, cooking utensils, etc. into the camper.

Because I am not living in Molly my camper van anymore, I don’t have the things I need for a trip in it any longer. It’s so much easier to live in it and travel and have everything I need with me all the time. I realized when I lived in my camper van full time how little I need to live. I was able to get by with a pair of jeans and three t-shirts for a week most of the time. My preference would be to still travel around the country and live in Molly full time. But, at the present time it’s not the best option for me. If I knew I would still be alive now, I would have stayed out longer last year. But, like I wrote previously, in April 2013 when my health symptoms got worse, my doctor and I didn’t think I had that much time left… Jointly, we made the decision for me to return home. Neither of us thought I would live until the end of 2013. Boy have we been surprised. Another huge blessing is that I look healthy, even though my insides aren’t. People can’t tell just by looking at me what’s happening, which is a good thing most of the time.

I can honestly say that my life since 2010 has been the most incredible of my entire life. Like I wrote in previous stories, if I didn’t have the four more operations in 2010, I would not have retired early at age 60 1/2 in June 2011, and I would not have traveled around the country. As a result of living my dream of traveling around the country in a camper van, I have almost eliminated everything on my bucket list, and I had many experiences beyond my imagination. I visited many National Parks, went to canoe journeys in Washington state, and much more. Since being back in Florida, I got to take two rides in the Goodyear Blimp, I have lots of new friends, I’ve been given the honor of becoming an honorary member of volunteer fire departments in several states, and so much more. I’ve enjoyed writing my stories and sharing my life and experiences on this website. I am so grateful to my friend Pam for her friendship and for setting up this website for me in 2011.

Also, if I had not come back when I did in May 2013, than none of last years experiences would have happened. It was definitely Divine Intervention how my life has unfolded the past year. As my friend Jean continually tells me… It couldn’t have happened any other way. I feel so humble, honored, and truly blessed in so many ways. How fortunate am I to know that my life has made a positive difference and inspired so many people. My story has made national news and people I don’t even know have contacted me and let me know that I’ve inspired them, given them things to think about, and that my attitude of gratitude is contagious. I know deep in my heart that I am truly loved. If you are a new reader to my website, feel free to read the stories I have written. You can go to July 2013 and read some of the stories that have been written about me and see the change of direction my life has taken in the past nine months or so. In the end of the Georgia Firefighter story there are several links to stories written, and there are others scattered through other stories written later on.

I just remembered another surprise I had at the pow wow was to see Barbara. Her husband Rex Begaye who is a Navajo artist died unexpectedly from a heart attack on Christmas Eve. We were all in shock, we saw him at a flute festival in mid-November and a pow wow at Thanksgiving and we had no idea we wouldn’t see him again.

I keep writing posts and telling people… enjoy life every day, tell people what they mean to you every day. Get your legal and medical documents prepared. We never know when they will unexpectedly be needed. It makes it easier for everyone when the proper documents are prepared, and that those handling your affairs know your wishes. Read my post Seriously, Really, You Would Rather Be An Ostrich.

Live each day as if it’s your last… one of these days you are going to be right. Have fun!!! Experience new things!!! Step out of your comfort zone and you will be amazed at the results!!! Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die tomorrow. I had a license plate made for the front of my camper van. It says… Live Your Dreams.

Saturday, April 5th is our local American Cancer Society Relay For Life event, it’s at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach. Opening ceremony is at 4 p.m. Join us if you can. I was asked to be the survivor speaker, what an honor.

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New photos of me and stories written about my life

My friends know that I am a private person and that I don’t like my picture taken. I did pretty well keeping my life private and staying out of photos until last summer when most parts of my life became public because of my donations to various organizations.

My story has been spreading across the country, every now and then I receive an email from someone that saw my story either in a recent publication or someone told them about me. It seems that in the past week or so I have been contacted by a local newspaper, a friend who writes a professional newsletter, and also the municipal clerks magazine. They all want to print a story about me in their publications. They asked for a photograph of me for their articles.

The only pictures I have of me were taken when I was on an outing of some sort and not many of them are good pictures since I am windblown from being outside, or my hair is in a ponytail which is the easiest way to wear it, especially outdoors.

So, I thought I would go get a professional picture taken which could be used if anyone wants a picture of me. I also thought it would be nice to have give my mom a good picture of me. So, I called Debra Todd of Debra Todd Photography who is a professional photographer in town and I asked her if she could take some pictures of me. She said she would be happy to and since she had just finished a photo shoot, and her studio was still set up, I could come over that morning to have the pictures taken. I quickly got ready and drove to her house.

Debra being the ultimate professional did my photo shoot like she does it for everyone else. After I was seated, she arranged the lights and reflector shades or whatever they are called around me so that the lighting will give the best effects for the pictures. I expected just to go to her house and have her take a few pictures with me standing against a background. No, it didn’t happen that way. Debra treated me very special and as she told me different ways to look at the camera, how to sit, when to smile, etc. I asked why we sit one direction and turn our head in a different one, because it seems strange. Debra explained the difference between taking photos of men and women. She poses women differently so that the picture shows curves to make women look more feminine, rather than a straight shot so they look more boxy. I may not be expressing her exact meaning, but I think it’s close, and it makes sense to me.

I have known Debra for over 14 years. We met when I worked for the city because she takes pictures of our city events, as well as other local events in neighboring cities, in addition to her regular types of events such as weddings, family photos, etc. A common bond that Debra and her family and I share is the love of animals. Years ago we would watch each others parrots if one of us went away for a few days. Now, Debra, her husband Skip, and their children have 5 dogs, 1 parrot, and 2 cats. If you ever need a great photographer, contact Debra Todd. She has a great personality, she loves to laugh and smile, and she is so very talented and creative.

Debra took a lot of pictures of me and we narrowed it down to 11 pictures. The first one below is the one we liked best. Debra graciously let me have the additional pictures to post on my website. I like several of them because of the expression on my face. I didn’t think about it until after we were finished, I could have had her take some with me making really funny faces. Click here to see more pictures.

Carol portrait March 20140E5A56120E5A5622I look at these photos of myself and I think, not too bad for 63 years of age. I do have some gray hairs, but not too many, and they are scattered throughout my brown hair. One of my friends who is a hairdresser offered to color my hair, I thanked her and declined. I told her that I’ve earned every one of them. If you are wondering if these pictures have been photo shopped or touched up… the only one that was touched up a bit is the one top center that’s by itself. A few stray hairs that were sticking out were erased. A little of the dark circles under my eyes were fixed, a freckle or two were erased, and Debra with the touch of the mouse used some feature to brighten my complexion a little to make it have a bit of a glow to it. She also adjusted the color in the background so that it looks more even. I like the way she had me turn my head in some of the pictures, it makes my face look thinner. Currently, I am about 25 or so pounds heavier than I usually am. It probably has something to do with the ice cream I’ve been eating since it goes down easily, or maybe the medicine I’m taking has added weight, and so has the growing tumor. When I look in the mirror and see my face, I feel like a chipmunk who has stored nuts in it’s cheeks. It’s probably my perception because I have not adjusted to seeing myself heavier.

When we were looking at the photos on Debra’s computer monitor I noticed that the light she shone on me to brighten the room shows in the pupils of my eyes. She said it gives sparkle to the eyes. I like that sparkle. If you click on the pictures and look at my eyes, you will see the sparkle of light. I hope you will feel my spirit, my love, my joy, and my attitude of gratitude.

After we looked at all of the pictures, I thought it would be nice to create a collage of these pictures for my mom. Debra liked the idea as well and she is going to make it for me. When it’s completed, I will see if I can get it electronically to add to this story.

This is one of my favorite jackets, and one of two that I kept from my collection of jackets. I gave all of the others away or donated them a few years ago. I bet I had more than two dozen different jackets. Every one of them was unusual.

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I thought you might like to read the additional stories that have been written about me recently. There are links to most of the other stories in my July 2013 post about the Georgia Firefighters. I think there may be other stories that were included in other posts between July 2013 and now.

My friend Patt Schwab, who lives in Seattle, is a professional motivational speaker. She has a fantastic sense of humor and she includes stories and pictures about rubber chickens in her presentations.  She posts many of her articles which can be read and printed for free, check them out. Also, look at the various buttons on the left of her site. When the cursor is on a topic, it changes from text to a chicken cartoon. Look at each button’s content, it’s great for a giggle and to keep things in perspective. I love the titles of her books.

Patt just sent an email with her latest newsletter, which has some interesting cartoons and stories. When I was in Seattle in 2011, I stayed with Patt for several days. We had a great time, and I got to see lot’s of different parts of Seattle. We even took a few ferry rides to some of the islands near Seattle, you can read about our adventures in my July 2011 stories, it says older posts at the end of the first page for July stories. I wrote stories such as Being in Bed with a Redhead, and also Avatar or Smurf. Read about the troll living under a bridge, with his hand covering a real Volkswagon beetle. When Patt said she will show me a troll living under a bridge I had no idea what I would see. My Seattle albums and stories include pictures of many of Seattle’s sculptures and artwork that are displayed along the streets throughout the city.

In Patt’s latest newsletter, she wrote a story about me, it’s on page 7. This link Patts Newsletter March 2014 has the entire newsletter, this one Patts story about Carol has only the story about me. I was really surprised when I saw her newsletter, I had no idea she would write a story about me. I love calling and hearing Patt’s voice message on her phone, it always makes me laugh and smile.

When I worked as a city clerk, I belonged to a professional organization called the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC). One of the city clerks in Connecticut just contacted me, she heard about me and asked my permission to write a story about me for the upcoming news digest. We shared our stories and life experiences for about an hour and when we finished talking we both felt like we have a new friend. Another coincidence… her husband is a fire chief for a volunteer fire department where they live and she is on the women’s auxiliary. If I get the published version I will insert it here. Meanwhile, here is the story that will be published in the next edition. IIMC Story.

The Pompano Pelican, a local newspaper, wrote a 3 page story in this week’s edition about several American Cancer Society Relay For Life events that will be held in the next few weeks, it includes a sidebar story about me as a survivor. Anne the newspaper editor and I both happened to be at a local event several weeks ago. We hadn’t seen each other in a year or so and we were talking catching up on life. I filled her in on what I’ve been up to, my medical condition, and we discussed our views on life, death, and dying with grace and dignity. She asked if she could write a story about me for her newspaper and I told her that I really don’t like to be in the news. She told me that my story would inspire others and give them something to think about. Anne said she would call me the next week.

About a month passed and I didn’t hear from her. I kept thinking good… maybe she forgot. Well, guess what, that didn’t happen. Anne called me last weekend and asked permission to write about some of what we discussed several weeks ago. She also knew that I would be the survivor speaker at the Relay that I have participated in for many years. She said that she is writing a long story about several Relays and she wants to write a breakout story about me. I agreed only because she insisted that it might help someone else and that I had an important message that needs to be shared. Here is the one page personal story Anne wrote about me Pelican story about me March 2014, here is the multi-page story about local Relay For Life events Relay for Life Pelican article.

If you want to learn more about Relay For Life and find out if there is one in your area, check out Relay For Life. I promise that if you attend a Relay For Life event it will change your life in some way, especially if cancer has touched you or a friend or relative.

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Arnold’s Wildlife Smilebox pictures and fundraiser Info

If you have been reading my posts you know how fond I am of Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida. Sue Arnold has become a good friend of mine. On March 22nd she will be having another fundraiser for her wildlife rehabilitation center. I just got this Smilebox slideshow with pictures of animals and it includes pictures of the last two fundraisers. As I was watching this slideshow I saw a picture of me sitting at a table and feeding Katie the baby Marmoset last July.

Please watch the smilebox, there are lots of great animal pictures.

In my Photo Gallery of albums, there are 4 or 5 albums with pictures I took during my many visits to the Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and there is also a story about each visit. During my January 21, 2014 visit I took video of the animals eating treats I fed them.

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Health and Hospice Update, Relay For Life, Soroptimist Award, and Door Poster

It’s been a while since I wrote a health update. The reason is that there’s really no significant change since my February update. I have days where the pain is a bit more intense, but I’m able to manage it with medicine. Some days I have to take more than other days. I feel that the tumor is still growing, my left leg and foot are getting a bit more numb, and my abdomen is feeling more bruised again, this means my organs are being more compressed. After a few weeks the bruised feeling lessens, then as they get more compressed, it gets more sore again. I’m actually getting used to this happening.

Eating is more challenging.  I can still eat, but quantities are getting smaller. I make myself eat something every few hours, and especially when I have to take medicine. I am eating lots of ice cream sandwiches which seem to be a new favorite of mine. I have tried several brands and have not found any I am really attached to. I like brownies and ice cream, and I when I bake brownies I freeze some so I have them when I want a snack to eat with a bowl of ice cream. I decided to bake some really thin brownies and make my own ice cream sandwiches, this way I can put different flavors of ice cream in them.

I get tired more easily and get sore, from doing my errands, having lunch with friends, etc. I take longer naps in the afternoon. I recline more often to take the pressure off my organs and stretch out my body. I bought a rocker recliner chair for my bedroom so I can sit up in a chair and read or watch TV and not have to lay in bed as often.

Many of you are sending me cards and emails, and other items such as a puzzle, book, CDs, etc. I have a basket full of cards. Thank you. When there is a sticker on the envelope, I cut it out and add it to my door poster. I also add some of the cards to the sides of the door poster. Thanks to many of you, my door poster is pretty much full, and there are not many places left to put pictures and other items that I receive. So, I started another door poster on my closet doors. I also hung the two fire helmets on the wall above my closet door so I can see them when I’m laying in bed. After putting the chair in my room, hanging the fire helmets and pictures fire departments sent of their departments, and other items, the energy in my bedroom feels more cozy and comfortable. I know and feel how much I’m loved. The photos below show what I see when I am laying in bed or sitting in my chair.

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I enjoy watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers. (I really miss watching Jay Leno.) I find that I will be watching one of the shows, and then a while later it’s another show on the screen, or I missed a part of the show I was watching. I seem to just fall asleep and not know that I did it until I wake up. Thankfully, I don’t do this when I’m driving. I tend to only drive in the mornings and early afternoons. Some days, it’s not easy to get out and about, but I make myself do it almost every day.

I want to share this 5 page advanced medical directive document with you. One of my doctors gave it to me a few years ago, he insisted that I complete it and keep it with my other documents. Please read it, share it with others, complete it, discuss your wishes with your family members or health care surrogates, and put it with your DNR, Living Will, and other important documents. Several of my friends told me they agree it’s important to have proper documents in place. I was told by one friend that it’s too emotional to put these decisions and legal matters into the hands of others, especially when it happens unexpectedly, and they don’t know our wishes.  The forms and documents may not ever be needed, but it’s better to have them in case of an unexpected emergency, then need them and not have them. 5 page advanced medical directive

Also, in October 2013, I wrote a story that I feel is really, really, important. It’s called Seriously, Really, You Would Rather Be An Ostrich. Please make time to read this story and take action to have your medical and legal documents prepared, if you have not already done so. Also, have your family members and friends do them too. We never know when they will be needed. Unexpected circumstances and accidents happen to people of all ages.

I’m still having some issues with VITAS Hospice, and I am working with their personnel to get it resolved. Last week the social worker came to visit and I told her again the problems I am having with her company, such as getting the medical supplies I need for my ostomy. Today, I spoke with her again and told her that if they don’t get my supplies for me in the quantities I need, and have them delivered on a regular schedule, that I will withdraw from the Hospice program, and have my doctor write prescriptions for my medicine. Then, I won’t sign up for Hospice again until it’s really needed when my condition worsens. As I wrote previously, I only enrolled in Hospice to help me get my pain medicine which seems to be challenging since not many pharmacies carry it.

I also told her that I don’t need weekly visits. I know for a fact that Medicare requires that Hospice only has to visit me once every 14 days, not weekly like they want to do. My nurse said she has to come at least once a week, she would not agree to the once every 14 days, even though it’s within the guidelines. I told the social worker, she told her boss, and they are going to change my visits to once every 14 days. I also told her that I have a concern for when I am not able to function to the level I can now, that my medical supplies will not be ordered timely, and that I don’t have confidence that it will be handled by VITAS staff for me. I told her to try to get someone on my Hospice team to place an order every 2 weeks, automatically, so there will not be an issue to get them regularily. She spoke with the proper people at VITAS and she told me there was an email sent to my team people so it should be done. I told her this is the last chance, if I don’t get them every 2 weeks, then I will withdraw from their program, and I will contact whoever I need to and let them know why. Update March 25, 2014… I am hoping that my issues with Hospice have been resolved, I got the rest of my medical supplies today and I was told they will be ordered automatically every 2 weeks from now on.

For about 9 years I have been active in the local American Cancer Society Relay For Life event. Attending a Relay For Life event is a life changing experience, especially if you attend the opening ceremony where the survivors walk the first lap, and if you stay for the luminaria ceremony when cancer survivors and those who lost their life to this disease are remembered. I was on committees for many years, and I was event co-chair for a few years. The past couple of years I was on my trips so I was not at the Relay, I did go to some in other states. The other day I was having lunch with Nona who is a friend of mine and the current event chair, and also Jessie who is our American Cancer Society staff partner. Just as I was taking a bite of my sandwich, Nona says… we want you to be the survivor speaker at Relay. After I finished chewing, I said thanks for waiting until I had my mouth full. I told Nona that I couldn’t say no to her, she said she knows. I feel honored to be able to be a survivor speaker. I did it once before, it was at our Relay kickoff several years ago. I only have to speak about 5 minutes and I’m okay with speaking in front of groups of people. I know that God will have me share whatever I am supposed to that day.

For many years, I didn’t acknowledge that I am a cancer survivor. I have had cancer several times, and I have had 3 different types of cancer. I felt that since I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation that my cancer was not as serious as others who had to do those treatments. I have had lots of operations as a result of cancer, my body was surgically altered many times from it… the only reason I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation was that my cancer was contained and did not spread out of the area it was located in. I finally realized that cancer is cancer. Whether or not I had surgery, or treatments doesn’t change the fact that I am a cancer conqueror. Not a cancer survivor… I didn’t just  survive it, I did fight and so far I am still alive. Now, my life is shorter and I have a tumor, all as a result of the cancer and operations I have had over the years.

A few weeks ago my friend Sandy, who is also a local city commissioner that I worked with, told me that she nominated me for the annual award for the Soroptimist organization of which she is a member. They provide scholarships for girls to go to college, and they support local charitable organizations. Every year they select a woman that has made an impact and helped the community. She told me that she nominated me and it was voted on to give me the award. Sandy said that I helped many communities and they are proud of me. So, on April 23rd, when they present scholarships to students, they will present me with an award, I think it’s called the Woman of Distinction Award. I feel so very honored, and I was very surprised.


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Photo Mosaics

This past weekend I was able to get together with some friends at a craft show. It was really great, I only get to see this group of ladies a few times a year when we are at the craft shows. During my conversation with one of them, we were talking about the places I visited and the things I have done during the past few years. I was telling her about my door poster and about one of the cards on it that someone sent me several months ago. It’s a picture of a wolf, but when you look closely, the picture of the wolf is made up of many small pictures. I also mentioned about all of the puzzles I have been working on, and said there was a puzzle that is a mosaic, but it would be too challenging to do. I told her about my Share the Journey party and how I put together a slide show with pictures of my trip and showed them at the party.

My friend Norine suggested that I create a mosaic picture using my own photos. I hadn’t thought of doing that. It seems like a great idea. I thought it would be a great gift to give my mom. I searched the Internet and I found this EasyMoza website to create free photo mosaic pictures. No software has to be downloaded to our computers. I selected some pictures and created one. I thought I had selected enough pictures to not have duplicates, but I think it needed more. I just did a quick try and it worked great, so I want to share this website with you. Have Fun!!!

My Mosaic March 4 2014Here is the mosaic picture I created. I used the photos from my Share the Journey party last March and I added numerous pictures that I took since then. I think I uploaded about 1,200 photos. After the mosaic was created, I saw that it duplicates pictures. I will try it again with less pictures and see how it looks. It really is a cool program and extremely user friendly and easy.

You can click on the photo to enlarge it. When I create other mosaic photos, I will add them to this story.

Arnolds WildlifeGoodyear Blimp





RFL Quilt

Relay For Life Quilt Dedication

Fire dept

Carol and Fire Departments



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The Incredible Power of Concentration… and a great videos to watch

I found this video, it’s amazing… so much concentration… It’s worth watching.

This is much more concentration and patience, than I could ever imagine myself attempting. I wonder how long it took to master this skill.

If you love dogs and cats you will like watching this video… it is funny and cute.

I recently heard this song, and watched the animated video, Let It Go from the Disney movie Frozen. The Utube video has over 113,800,000 people that have watched it. Here is the actual original singer performer Idina Menzel performing the song. The words to the song are really important and meaningful. I think next time I am at the library I will see if they have the DVD of the movie for me to borrow.

Here are the lyrics to the song, music and lyrics composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez:

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen. A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen. The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside. Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried. Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back any more. Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door. I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all.
It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free!

Let it go, let it go! I am one with the wind and sky. Let it go, let it go!
You’ll never see me cry. Here I’ll stand, and here I’ll stay. Let the storm rage on.
My power flurries through the air into the ground. My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around. And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast. I’m never going back; the past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go! And I’ll rise like the break of dawn. Let it go, let it go! That perfect girl is gone. Here I stand, in the light of day. Let the storm rage on! The cold never bothered me anyway…”

There is not much happening here so it may be a while before I write another story.

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Favorite Places I’ve Been To… Make Time For Adventure and Visiting Places You Want To Experience

I’ve had many people ask me of all the places I visited what is my most favorite. That’s a difficult question to answer. There are so many wonderful, interesting, beautiful places I got to see and explore. Admiring the scenery as I drove was extraordinary.

In the narrative below, I will make active links to the stories I mention, you can see more pictures of those locations in the photo gallery albums. If you want to read historical information on these places, you can search the Internet for the home pages. If you start reading my posts at the beginning in 2011, you can imagine you are on the trip with me. Everywhere I went to in 2011 was my favorite place. It was the absolutely best time of my trip.

Since Internet connections were few and far between during my 2011 trip, I usually had to stop at wifi spots or libraries to write my stories and upload pictures. Often, I camped without electric hookups too. So, I would write notes of my journey at the end of every day, so that when I was able to stop and spend hours writing stories I would remember what I saw and wanted to write about for that location or experience. On the average, it takes me 3 to 5 hours to write a story, upload a photo album, and insert pictures into the story. You may notice that many of the early stories don’t have very many pictures in the story, it takes a bit of time to insert and arrange them in the story. However, the photo album of that location usually has lots of pictures. At that time, I didn’t know how to link an album to the story, so you may read… go to the album to see the pictures.

When I got back from my trip Pam showed me how to make active links, so you will notice that I use that feature in most of my 2013 and 2014 stories. In earlier stories you will have to go to the albums to see the pictures. Since I was seeing so many new places, sometimes several in a day, it sometimes seemed like a job to write notes and then the stories… I enjoyed it thoroughly, and as I wrote I got to feel the experience all over again, just like I do now reading them when I refer to them in a new story. Although, sometimes as I drove in 2011, and saw a wifi spot, I would say to myself… Do I really want to stop now and spend several hours writing? Not always… so I would keep driving. Sometimes it would be a week before I could post new stories. When I created stories and posted them, I always used the date of when I visited a place, not when I was able to put them online.

If I have to pick just one favorite place, I would say Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, is at the top of the list. The cliff dwellings where Native people lived in about the 1100′s was incredible. To walk through the cliff houses where they lived so many years ago was inspiring, and beyond my imagination. I tried to visualize their life, how they built these structures with no modern tools. The size and weight of the rocks they had to cut, carry, move, and lift into position to build houses, rooms, kivas, etc. was beyond what I could comprehend. Yet, they did it. Now many centuries later, parts of their dwellings still stand.


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Ladders were built to get to the higher rooms and ledges where they kept their food supply, or to climb onto to the top of the cliff where perhaps they grew their food. Being in the cliff dwellings gave them protection from the weather to some extent, also let them see if any enemies were approaching. The openings that looked like windows are really their doors. The rooms were all very small. Not much room to move around in. There were over 100 families living in the cliff dwelling. Imagine all of the smoke from cooking, noises from that many families living close together. How about when the temperatures were extremely hot or cold? How about getting water when the only source in the cliff dwelling might have been a trickle of water running down the rocks. Did they have to make vessels to carry water up from a river or stream? What did they do with their waste and garbage? What did they have to do to make the plant material or animal hides into fabric of some sort to make into clothing? How long did it take to chip out parts of the mountain to make handholds to climb up into the dwelling? I bet there were not good trails, created by a National Park Service, that are there now for us to walk on. Click here to read more about my experience at Mesa Verde National Park.

Like I said above, almost everywhere I went during my 2011 trip is among my favorites places. That’s when I got to drive through the western and northwestern states, and I got to explore so many places. I didn’t particularly like the boat ride when I went whale watching on the Oregon coast. It was the wrong time of the year for whales to be in the waters. I thought it would be nice to take a boat ride, wrong!!! Water was really quite a bit choppy and I got a bit queasy. The good thing that came out of it is seeing a dog in a Kodiak raft enjoying the ride. These are two of my favorite photos.

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Another favorite photo was taken as I was leaving an Idaho state park. I noticed hot air balloons in the distance, so I stopped and got my camera. As I was snapping the photo a hummingbird flew towards my window, looked in and quickly flew away. I wondered if the hummingbird was in the picture and sure enough it was. I could not have planned this picture. The hummingbird was only there for a flash of time. I didn’t see it when I started to snap the picture, only as I pressed the button.


The Redwood forest was also pretty awesome. I got to stand next to trees that were 1,500 and 2,000 years old. That really puts my age, size, and life into perspective.

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Going to Golden Spike National Monument was an unexpected detour. When I stopped at a small rural mechanics shop to ask directions and the couple told me about Golden Spike. I didn’t think I would like it because trains don’t really interest me. I am so glad I made the detour. It was one of the most interesting places where I got to experience history up close and personal. Golden Spike is where the east and west coast railroads met in Promontory, Utah. Notice the difference in the type of railroad ties, mill cut vs. hand cut.

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If you want to experience my trip, start with June 2011 and then read forward and look at the photo albums. I took lots of pictures. You may wonder why I took so many pictures of scenery as I was driving. Usually, I had a purpose. Beside being beautiful and interesting, I wanted to share my experience with people that were following my trip on my website. This way you could see the types of roads I drove on, and see the same scenery as I did. Many times the roads were steep. Sometimes, very winding, or perhaps steep and winding. Other times, I thought it interesting that one side of the road would be desert and the other side lush with trees and bushes. Or one side of the road was a mountain and the other side flat. It really amazed me how quickly the terrain could change. Like after driving flat land for hours how a mountain could all of a sudden appear, or in reverse driving through mountains, all of a sudden the land would be flat. Or I would be driving and all of a sudden see a canyon in front of me as I drove around a curve.

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In several northwestern states where the land was pretty much dirt, there would be towns, and/or patches of land where crops and orchards would be growing. I’m sure the farmers had to do a lot of work to get the land where it would produce crops. I saw so many orchards and vineyards. I got to recognize the various plants that grew feed corn, potatoes, sugar beets, cherry trees, peppers, etc. Sometimes when I drove, if I saw a farmer near the road I would stop and ask him what was growing and always the farmer was kind and told me about the crop, how they irrigate it, and would answer my questions.

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IMG_3356I found it interesting also when I drove and saw signs that said the time zone changed, or I was driving and saw signs that said I was driving along side the Oregon Trail or California trail. I could see the wagon trail marks in the mountainside. I thought it was cool when I saw a sign and all it said was 49th Parallel. I remembered that from history class in school. The surprising thing is that I remembered what the 49th Parallel is.

Nature also amazed me so often. I could see storms approaching and they seemed to appear out of nowhere. It might have been sunny a little while earlier, then all of a sudden the sky gets dark. When I was camping on the Washington/Idaho border in Hell’s Canyon it amazed me that there would be little or no breeze all day, then about 5 p.m. strong winds would suddenly happen. Usually I was sitting outside of my camper reading or eating dinner and the wind would kick up so strong that I had to move so the camper blocked the wind, or else I would experience the strong winds and perhaps dirt that was blowing with it. The Snake River was across the road from my camper.

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It’s amazing how God could create such an incredible world with mountains, plains, rivers, oceans, and how nature, weather, and landscapes can change so dramatically and quickly. Driving along the ocean on the east coast and west coast of the United States is so different. The Oregon coast is beautiful with the large rock structures. There were times in several states when I would drive for hours and hours and not see any or only a few houses. I can’t imagine having to drive hours and hours to a store. Especially in bad weather.

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What an incredible and extraordinary experience I had exploring so much of the western half of the country. I have had so many people telling me that one day they want to do what I did. If at all possible, start doing it now. Don’t keep putting it off. You can start like I did… take a vacation and fly or drive to somewhere you want to go. Then as you can schedule time, do it again. Maybe once a year, twice a year, once every year or two. You don’t have to do it all at once.

In 2005, I started to work on my list. Read the story about Zion, Bryce, and Glacier National Parks. I did a park or two a year for a few years and I’m so glad I did. Sometimes places we want to visit are close together and can be done in the same trip like Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, or Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, or Crater Lake and Crater of the Moon, or Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It might be better to spend a few days in each park and get to see two parks, rather than a week at each one. I found that generally 2 or 3 days was more than enough to explore the park. Other places only needed a few hours or 1 day to explore it. You will be amazed to see what you can do in a few days or a week.

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Prepare the list of the places you would like to visit, and/or things you would like to do. Look at a map, perhaps there are places close together. I took a 10 day trip to Montana in 2009. I flew to Missoula, Montana, rented a car and drove almost 1,000 miles in 6 days and saw most of the state, including staying several days at Glacier National Park. I stopped in several small towns to explore them.

A week to ten days would give you an exceptional experience anywhere you go. Plan a trip, that way whenever you make it fit into your schedule you will have the information. When life happens we adjust our schedules to handle whatever the emergency or situation is… how about realizing that having fun and living a dream is also important. We find ways to pay for emergency repairs, health issues, etc. How about thinking about living dreams and visiting places as an important part of life for yourself… sort of a mental health incentive and activity. Over the years I paid lots of money to doctors and hospitals. I thought if I could pay off medical expenses, I could also put money aside for something fun. I am so glad that I bought my camper van years before I knew I wanted to retire. I paid it off monthly for a few years and enjoyed it every chance I could. Then, before I retired it was paid off so I didn’t have that expense in my retirement costs. Not everyone likes to camp or drive around the country. Find your passion. Plan accordingly… have fun NOW. Or start saving now for something you will make time for in the near future.


I have a few other favorite places and experiences that I want to include in this post. Since my stories for these events are rather long and contain numerous photos, please go to these links to read the stories about my wonderful experiences in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September and October 2011, and October 2012. In 2011, I got to explore Acoma Sky City, the Albuquerque Zoo and Biopark, and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and Balloon Fiesta part 2, and in 2012 I got to experience the Balloon Fiesta again. I had the amazing experience of crewing on a balloon the entire 9 days, going up in a balloon three times, and also volunteering at the event for the entire 9 days both years.

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Another extraordinary experience was attending canoe journey in 2011 called Paddle to Swinomish, and in 2012 called Paddle to Squaxin Island. This is an annual event, held at a different tribe every year. Approximately 60 Native American tribes paddle in canoes from Alaska, Canada, Oregon, and Washington. Every year they meet on a tribal ground where they have protocol ceremonies for 6 days, usually there are 8,000 to 10,000 people in attendance. The coastal art and regalia is spectacular and very different than other parts of the country. Coastal art is primarily red, white, and black, and it contains graphics of seals, whales, otters, eagles, and other similar animals. You can see many of these paintings and symbols on the canoes in my photo albums, which are linked in the stories for each year.

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Baker City, Oregon, is an interesting city. It was involved in the gold rush and one of the local banks has gold nuggets on display. Baker City also has one of the most interesting Bank of America offices that I have ever seen, it is an old historic house with a tower. I had to go inside to see what it looked like. I was given permission to take pictures in the lobby including the teller windows.  Check out the ATM which is also very unique.

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As  I was going through my 2011 and 2012 stories getting the links for the above referenced locations, I saw so many other stories of places that I also loved. I can’t list them all or this story would be much longer. If you are interested, you can read more stories and perhaps read about places you have been, or want to visit.

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