Friday, December 28, 2012


Last night one of my friends commented that I was carrying a huge smile. I was. It was a night of realizing a goal I set for myself several years ago. OK, dear readers, if you think you are going to see pictures of me doing some kind of exotic dance, just click your clicker to the next blog.

Felix Berroa's "Manateal de Esperanza"
The event was the BarichArte 2012 Exposicion Nacional de Arts Plasticas running from December 27, 2012 to Enero 15, 2013 in the Aquileo Parra technical institute in Barichara, Santander, Colombia. And not only was I an 'invited artist' but my name was on the program as an exhibitor! To be sure I was not in the main salon with Felix Berroa from the Dominican Republic and Atlanta, USA or with Alfonso Andara from Ecuador, but I was in the same building.

Vincente's 'Angel'

There are 115 artists from all over Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Dominican Republic and the U.S. on display so it is clearly an international exhibition. Plus there are 14 young boys and girls who are art students of Luis Mejía Bohórquez, whom we fondly call "Lucho." There are statuary, paintings in watercolor, acrylic and oil, metal arts, ceramics and an incredible work in wood by Vincente Cadena of Barichara.

It's a statue about four feet in height, with what appears to be a unique utilisation of the wood's properties allowing for a kind of 'hair' emanating from it. And I know about this wood, that it is among the toughest in the world, making each bit of carving very intense.

Jose Ropero's mixed media
One of the artists, Jose Ropero, and I helped to mount the exhibition for a couple of hours, hanging paintings and sticking up the data sheets. I saw his work and here it is. It is a representation of the world being eroded by machines for gems and rocks and it seems like the hand below is the message that it is up to us.

One of the people who occasionally joins our Saturday art class is Alejandro Quintero, who makes his living as a stonemason, but who is also exploring oil painting. He entered both his stone sculpture and an oil he recently finished. I see a similarity in both types of work; what do you think?

Alejandro Quitero, Santandereano.
In case you are wondering, my two entries were "Ventana" and "Barichara from LaLoma" and sadly the data cards were missing at the time of the opening, so people looking for my name did not find it. I heard that has since been corrected, and there were more than a few of us who suffered the fate of ignomy at the opening... if you look at Sr. Quintero's painting, he is missing a label as well.

Quintero's stone art
Since I have only been back in art production/creation for a couple of years, I feel excited to be around others who are demonstrating a lot more experience. 

Martha Herrera Angel with her watercolor.
The event was well-attended, and my hat is off to Lucho for pulling together a huge collection of artists and sponsors for an event that now spans a couple of weeks instead of only one weekend. I take a tiny bit of credit for one aspect of this - the creation of a name which can be the beginning of an annual event. When the subject came up, we brainstormed in the art class, and it was my idea that everyone decided was most likely to achieve that objective. I am grateful I could bring my public relations/marketing experience into the creation of something that will most likely become more and more international with time. And the children... WOW... look at this (below)!
Edgar Alonso Bautista, 8, stands in front of several of his artistic works.
He is pointing to his favorite, and was terrifically excited to have me take
his picture. Look for his name in the art world in the years to come as he
already shows great skills for his age. He is native to Barichara.
And I learned a whole lot about the exhibition process so if I want to do it again I will have a better idea of what to expect. 

BY REQUEST: Here are my two paintings that are in this exhibition... "Barichara in the Clouds," and "Ventana" (Window).
Barichara in the Clouds

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Spirit of Christmas

A Christmas music box that I found for E, a reminder
of one I had when I was her age.
Each year as Christmas approaches, I think back on what it was like in the 1950's when I was young and anticipating the arrival of S. Claus. Sometimes it is a more pronounced time of pondering depending on what is going on in my life, and other years it is like a jet flying overhead - brief.

I remember only too well hearing from my older brother who was in a bitter state of mind that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. He was pretty proud that he had that information and could take away my joy. Only he never did. (and by the way I have forgiven him...) I still believe in S. Claus, in the possibilities that the Old Man can bring into reality, and for several years when I was living in Boise, Idaho, I absolutely knew Who He Was.

About 1974 or 1975 I was introduced to a really old man with a beard by Phyllis Atwater during one of our Psychic Fairs in Boise.  He went under the name of Arthur Yensen and he lived in Parma, about 30 minutes from Boise. (Art said when we went to visit him at his home in Parma that it was "the summer cottage for Santa.") He was the Karcher Mall Santa Claus for years and years and even wrote a small paperback book about being the 'real' Santa Claus. He refused to give out candy to the children, so the mall had to hire assistants to do it. He once told me, "Candy is not really good for them, and as the real Santa Claus, I cannot advocate it." Yensen was a high school biology teacher and started being a Santa Claus almost by accident. "But I realized," he said, "that the role of this individual in the lives of children cannot be minimized and decided after my first day on the job that I would do it for as long as I could." He took his position very seriously and commented that he never drank because "how would it look in the newspapers for my mall children to read that Santa had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly?"

From 1969, when he was in his early 70's, until 1990, he was on duty in his special red chair from Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas. Both my daughters sat on his knee and asked for their dreams to be fulfilled. Neither of them pulled on his real beard, but Art said plenty of other kids did, wondering if he was the 'real deal.' He was... in so many ways, the embodiment of the S. Claus I carry in my heart. If you read about his life on the link, you will see what I mean. To add in a little economic humor about Santa, read this as to the work and earnings of this North Pole entrepreneur.
Last year there was a Santa brave enough to ask the adults
to come and sit on (or at) his knee to share our dreams.
So for those of you who were given the 'truth' about Santa Claus someplace along the way, perhaps you want to revise your belief system and like Peter Pan's Tinkerbell be reminded to keep the dream alive. Yes, there is a Christmas and it is ostensibly about the birth of a baby in a manger, but it is also the time in the Northern Hemisphere when the axis of the earth brings certain astronomical events into focus and who is to say if it is science or history or myth or mystery? Care to share your special Christmas story here? Hope your Christmas is a merry one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Emma Enduring

As the Christmas season really starts to get underway,  there are lots of causes that are seeking funding and pulling at our heartstrings. But there is one cause I wish I could put an end to and that's Multiple Myeloma. Not just for my personal connection to it, but because as time as gone by I've grown to know quite a few people who have become more than just a name.

Be careful walking in the woods these days... I was caught by surprise
when this giant snowman appeared, just about the time the snow did.
It was because of Lorna's blog that I was led to Emma, a lively and young woman in the U.K. who is enduring cycles of treatments because she wants nothing more than to be normal again. I don't have much in the way of resources to make a difference except I'd like to ask that if you feel so inclined, stop by and offer up some encouragement to this spunky gal.

And to remind my readers that even on your roughest days, if you don't have MM, please STOP complaining that you may have to wait in a line, or get stuck in traffic, or have weather interfere with your plans, because all of that is better than spending a full day with nurses bollocking up IV lines, or having someone grind out bone marrow from your hip with something that looks like a drill bit for oil researchers, or living with the anxiety that the next well-meaning person who sneezes in your direction could be putting your life at risk, for which a breezy "Sorry..." apology is hardly sufficient.

So this is also a reminder to everyone about the season for 'bugs,' that hand-washing is really important, staying home if you think you are coming down with something, sneeze into your elbow and not your hands, and for heaven's sake (because we are nearly full right now) if you know someone with a compromised immune system, don't go and visit them - call or send food instead.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Question is - are you eating well?

I am not a doctor and not a researcher, but I have been following the progress of a few Multiple Myeloma patients who have opted for Stem Cell Transplants (STC). Some have had success with an auto SCT (using their own cells) and some have had success with an allogenic (using cells from a close match) transplant.

Some months ago I was the cheer-up-leader for a photographer in the UK, Sean Tiernan, who was recovering from his allo STC - using his brother's cells - but he succumbed to pneumonia, something that is a horrible risk for those people with brand-new immune systems. (If you click the link you can read his blog.) This does not mean that I am a supporter one way or the other for STCs, only that going through that process is often a lonely one and I try to offer hope and encouragement in my postings.

Corn tortilla and sausage for the first course, with scrambled eggs and
perhaps hugo (juice) mora (blackberry) or naranja (orange) to follow.
One of my MM pals is a non-secretor, so he is not eligible for an STC and instead has been managing with a chemical combo that he acknowledges has sustained him beyond his 'shelf life' but has not really stopped the progression of the disease. He is also a writer who doesn't delude himself about the outcome, or about how the doctors sometimes make decisions for one patient based on the data for the disease either disregarding individual conditions or overlooking it to get to a quick result. For him, and you can read about it on Deludia, it was nearly an early end.

David Emerson had chemo and the STC and has undergone other therapies. (Click on the page called GALEN and read his history and the choices he made.) A recent article about alternative therapies said that conventional medicine gets recognition for cancer cures and the alternative field gets labeled as criminals when their patient(s) die and we never hear about those who are living many years after a cancer diagnosis. One blog I am following is written by a woman who is following the Gonzalez protocol based on nutrition and pancreatic enzymes. Here is her story.

Dr. James Berenson, a nationally recognized researcher of MM, has stated he does not encourage his patients to go the STC route. But the medical team led by Dr. BB at the University of Alabama takes the position that being aggressive with tandem STCs gives the greatest chance for a complete remission (CR) and there are more than a few MMer's who are in CR now from Dr. BB's regimen. You can read Nick Van Dyke's blog here.

It is too bad there is no comprehensive data on MM routes toward the cure... like there is for say, buying a car. You can find out which cars have a history of problems, which cars can go over 200,000 miles and not break the bank, and you can evaluate one car against another (or several others) to make your choice. I'd like to see something like this for the STC route, so patients have more information when making that choice. But for now, there is some collaboration going on in Boston, MA with Dana Farber Cancer Institute to develop a more personalized treatment plan - very interesting report here.
Chicken salad with celery bits and mayonnnaise on a bed of lettuce,
with toasted almonds and half a sliced apple covers all the bases.
Making homemade mayonnaise is really easy, by the way.

Another of the MM blogs I follow is that of 'Minnesota Don' who has incorporated nutrition changes into his lifestyle and who demonstrates with his national running campaign (Don is only a few states shy of having run a marathon in all 50!) how his food works for him.

Sadly, another well-informed MM blogger, Lonnie Nesseler,, recently died after 14 years with the disease, probably from the damages caused by his treatments. Lonnie posted in December of 2011 that after a second 'fill-up' of donor cells and going through another hellish hospital experience, he was in Complete Remission at long last. Awhile after that he posted on the MM FaceBook group a link to this report on the abuse of vitamin supplements.

Unlike other blood cancers that are more responsive to a 'standard of care' regimen, it seems to me, as a person/caregiver standing on the sidelines, that MM is more like an individualized disease and thus is harder to treat with the menu options of STCs, chemotherapy and other drugs. It's like going to a restaurant and asking the chef to please feed you, but in order for you to survive, he will have to make an educated guess as to what food combinations are best for you.

In that line of thinking, I have been listening to a book called "Healthy Eating, Healthy World," by J. Morris Hicks and J. Stanfield Hicks which discusses the interconnectivity of nature and mankind and how we are failing our own potential by how we eat. We are eating out of our natural range, causing serious health issues for the human population and damaging our environment because of the demand to provide more beef and dairy cows, chickens and the huge chemically-covered corn and wheat fields. Not to mention that the structure of wheat has changed over the past half century, so we aren't getting the nutrition from that grain that we used to. Read this about wheat and Dr. William Davis' book on it.

Bananas are still one of nature's most amazing fruits.
Sadly the chemicals used to preserve them for market
are affecting the workers who harvest them.
The Hicks' theory is the threat of becoming a 'vegetable' through a stroke is best overcome by eating raw vegetables. I am not sure I totally agree with that premise, but eating more healthy vegetables - and not those from GMO! -  certainly brings benefits.

Currently the bloggers Dom and Nan are doing quite a bit of research and reporting on the GMO issue and stem cell findings (especially as it relates to MM) and you can follow them here.

The peasants in South America (where I live for part of the year) can best afford the local fresh fruits and vegetables with a little chicken, goat and beef once in awhile. They walk a lot, work hard and live by the sun, starting their work when it comes up at 6 and stopping before it goes down at 6. Obesity never used to be a problem here, but as the camposinos strive to be 'richer,' they eat more sugar, consume more empty calorie foods with the result that both diabetes and heart disease are on the rise and if they acquire a motorcycle, they seldom walk when they can ride.

Getting exercise daily is also part of keeping the system operational. Even taking a short walk, if that's all you have energy for right now, is healthful.

The toxins in our systems caused by chemicals used in materials to build our cars, decorate our homes, provide aid when we hurt, and so on, are helping to make it possible for previously limited cancers to invade bodies of all ages. So I feel strongly there is some logic (and benefit) to having a hair sample test done to determine the status of the body along with the other testing that is done to determine the level of MM at diagnosis.

I am not blaming anyone for their diseases, but encouraging all those who are wanting better health to start looking at what you are eating. (You might find my postings about flouride and aspartame interesting.) Particularly look at how many hidden sugars are in the things you buy to prepare quickly. The best thing I have done for my own health has been to live in a third-world country where I am almost 'forced' to eat fresher everything. And so far, South America has one of the the lowest incidence of MM, but as South Americans start eating like North Americans, this may change. Now that I'm living in the NW, I am focusing on eating foods as fresh and healthy as I can find them. TIP: When in the bigger supermarkets, shop the outside lanes and avoid the middle ones where all the preserved foods are.

How can I have good strong cells if I don't give them the nutrition they need? Most of the time when I return to the U.S. I have gained weight and I know it's because I have access to the very tasty, not-necessarily-good-for-me, treats that are so readily available there. I offer up these links to help you make better choices for better health and hope they are helpful.

Hippocrates knew that food was the key: "Your food will be your medicine and your medicine will be your food."

Monday, December 10, 2012

300th Posting, but who is counting?

Periodically I check the stats on my blog and recently I noticed that I had inched up the posting meter and was about to run the odometer over to 300. Are you one of those people who inadvertently looks at the odometer on your car and are surprised to see it rolling over a bunch of zeroes? Do we have some kind of internal counter keeping track and causing us to look up at just the right moment?

Round clock with numbers showing time 11:11What is it in my internal clock that has me waking up at 3:33 a.m. so regularly? Or noticing when the clock on my wall or computer is suddenly at 11:11 night or day? I cannot recall the number of airline miles I have with any of the carriers I fly and would be astonished if my internal counter is keeping charge of that, but there are plenty of other numerical events that seem to be worth noticing, from my body/brain's point of view. And this must be the case for some other folks as well.

We are about to come to 12/12/2012 and that day will likely have folks keeping a watch out for 12:12 a.m. as well... if you go to the link, there is lots of information to entertain you and they are promising to keep it updated as the day progresses. For instance, did you know that the number 12 can be divided into halves, thirds, fourths, sixths and twelfths? Apparently people like to get married on days like this (9/9/09. 10/10/10. 11/11/11, etc.) but as we all know the number 12 limits the months in a calendar year in every language, so this will be the last year, last time to have a 12/12/12 date for a wedding. And from what I've been reading, there are couples that planned (1,446 percent increase over last year!!this wedding date years ago!!

So, that begs the question, if the world is going to come to an end on 12/21/12 - nine days later - that should make the honeymoon segue into a very short marriage, probably shorter than Kim Kardashian's. What do you think about these number-focused events? Are you living like there is no tomorrow or waiting for 1/1/13?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wintery scenes of the Olympic Peninsula

It is more than chilly in the NW... it is COLD! I am missing Colombia in a lot of ways, but having to double-wrap myself before going out is only one of the reasons I yearn to be further south!

Here are some views of the Olympic Peninsula taken recently when I felt brave enough to venture out.
John Wayne Marina, part of the Port of Port Angeles, WA under a
wintery sky. I love the faint reflection of the fading sun on the pavement.
These are from Port Townsend, WA... the first shot was taken through a rain-spattered car window. The next two were with the window down and the deer was completely unfazed by our presence.

A local told me that the deer in Port Townsend are starting
to be a serious problem. Gangs of young males are
congregating under trees in the city and becoming
threatening... not unlike teenagers, it seems.

This last 'deer' shot is from an SUV parked in Sequim outside a rock shop. I love the sense of humor of the local population here! Someone put a Santa hat and colored things on the Elk that welcomes everyone to Sequim, too. Hilarious!

And finally, the heavy clouds of this season over Discovery Bay as we headed back home from the trip to the craft fair which was huge and impressive and I forgot to take my camera inside with me... too wet and too far to walk back to the car to get it. Sigh.
Winter's brief light over Discovery Bay, WA.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Virtual Life

I have a life. I actually have two of them... there is my 'real' life and there is my 'virtual' life. In one I get up, make breakfast, go for a walk and - depending on what country I am in - speak in either English or Spanish to those I meet along the way.

In my virtual life I am on a 60-ft. sailboat in the Vendee Globe solo race passing the Cape of Good Hope, sailing under a spinnaker today and preparing for a heavy wind and seas as I approach the Indian Ocean. But, I am only one of over 392,792 virtual sailors doing this and have barely inched forward in the fleet.Virtual Regatta

For some folks I guess their two lives get blurred and they lose track of where they are. I hear about people who get too involved in a game and take it too seriously. My problem has probably been more the reverse; I used to get too involved in my real life and take it too seriously.

Life is a serious business, though. If you don't stay current with paying bills, the consequences are unpleasant. And if you don't have a way to bring in income to pay those bills, then it is no laughing matter and not a game of any kind. Some time ago I joined up with a virtual company and have acquired several thousands of virtual dollars which were supposed to somehow get used to buy things...  I am still not sure what 'things' these might be, but so far this virtual resource hasn't served any real purpose.
A real life view of Discovery Bay (WA) after some intense weather this week.
I am thinking this blending of virtual and real lives could be beneficial to people who are struggling. Why couldn't I make donations from my virtual account to some service or cause to be used for someone's else's electric bill? Is that any different from passing the hat in real life and not knowing where those funds end up? Isn't that what bankers are doing all the time? Moving funds around in virtual accounts? Just thinking out loud... wondering whether there will come a time when virtual and real lines become so blurred we may wake up and find water splashing over the gunwales and getting our beds wet.