Thursday, December 24, 2015

first Christmas without mom

Honestly, during the last few years of my mom's life, there were times I didn't even see her on Christmas.  Mostly we were together, thankfully.  Usually on Christmas Eve.  That's when we celebrated.  Christmas Day was always more laid back.  Eat leftovers, and play with your toys, or veg out in front of the tv.
This is my first Christmas Eve without my mom.  How strange not to see her in her apartment, her little tree decorated and placed on the tv.  Her Christmas cards tucked between the wood and glass on the china cabinet.  A wreath on the outside of the door.  Other little items tucked here and there.
She would do most of the decorating herself, moving around in the wheelchair.
She would think this weather is strange.  "It's a little spooky." I can almost hear her saying.  Today it was 70 degrees.
Me and her, we always had a thing about the snow.  More than often the first snow would come when we were together.  My mom would say, in a singing voice, "It's snooowing!"  If we weren't together, we'd call each other, and say the same.
She is sure in my heart this Christmas Eve.  As is my dad.
I had such cherished moments with them.

Book Review: Whatever is Lovely

Whatever is Lovely is an adult coloring book for reflection and worship.

I am not a particularly religious person, but I do appreciate the sentiments contained within this book.

Several artists contributed to this book, so the drawings are nicely varied.  They are very pretty, and inviting.  I know I will enjoy playing with this coloring book.

The drawings are on the right side of book.  On the left side are passages from the bible, and spirited poetry.  You can choose to pick up the book and start coloring, or just sit and read the inspiring passages.

I look forward to getting new coloring pencils and pens so I can fully enjoy this book.  I'm sure it will be rewarding for many days to come.

update: here are a couple of colorings so far  (click on any pic to enlarge)

For further information, visit these links:

 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book review: Life-Changing Magic, a journal

Well, the author of this book chose an intriguing title, but failed to follow up with intriguing content.

This is a small book, designed not like a journal, but like a diary, as it goes from January 1st to December 31st.  There is "space" in which to write, for 3 years.  It allows you a measly five lines of writing space... all three years squeezed into one page.   Diaries utilize daily, dated entries.  Journals should be more free-wheeling.

There are mostly uninspiring quotes every two weeks or so.  Cliched at best.  Some examples:
Only you can know what kind of environment makes you feel happy.

Things that are cherished shine.

Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy.

Apparently, the author, Marie Kondo, has also written a best-selling book, called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  If this journal is supposed to be a companion book of some sort, I fail to see the relation. 

 If you enjoy journaling, do yourself a favor and go buy a nice blank book in which to write.  Not only will you save some money, but you'll also have some room to write.

Nothing life-changing here!

If you want more information, see:
 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

book review: every little thing

Every Little Thing, by Payton Cosell Turner, is a "flat vernacular coloring book", whatever that means!
The cover comes off to reveal a page that you can also color.  This is good, because the cover doesn't even fit the book properly, but sort of buckles it.
It's filled with all sorts of drawing, birds, animals, butterflies, bears, leaves, squirrels, etc.  Each page is just a repetitive drawing... over and over again.  If you're going to color one butterfly, you're going to have to color 20 of them on the same page.
It's pretty boring, and not at all inviting.  These are definitely not any of my favorite little things!

For further info, see:
 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Logan!

Logan will be 6 on December 9th.  He is growing up to be quite a guy!  He's so sweet and caring in all he does.  He's excelling in all his subjects at school, and he does well athletically.
Last night we had his party at Bounce U.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Book Review: Super Genes

Book Review: Super Genes, by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

Many years ago, when Deepak Chopra came onto the New Age scene, I was most impressed by his theory that each individual cell in our bodies is directly influenced by our thoughts, emotions, what we eat, etc.  In that way, they can be transformed, for good or bad. This book seems to take off on that point, going further to say that our very genes can in fact change when influenced by these things.

So, if you were born with less than positive gene structure, it is within your power to change them radically, through diet, adaptation to stressors, exercise, meditation, sleep, and emotions.  Part 2 of the book goes into each of these in detail, teaching you how to live a richer and more meaningful life.

This book suggests that self-transformation (and ultimately, universal transformation) is within your power.

For more information, follow these links:
 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Book Review: apartment therapy complete + happy home

As a New Yorker, when I think of "apartments," I think cramped spaces, not enough rooms, the need to "appear" more spacious.  So, when I saw the book, Apartment Therapy complete and Happy Home, I thought, this would be good for me, as I live in a New York apartment.

As soon as I opened the book, I saw it had nothing to do with apartments, rather it centered around homes.  The colonial home, the Tudor home, the modern high-rise, the split-level, etc., and so forth.  This was immediately something I couldn't relate to.

Despite my disappointment, I must say that the book is quite lovely.  It includes everything from setting up your home (walls, painting, floors, windows, etc.), to living in your home (the various living spaces), to maintaining your home (repairs, cleaning, organization).
Some of this can be geared towards the apartment dweller, but generally we do not do upgrades of any great extent due to the fact that the dwelling does not belong to us (renters).

The monthly cleaning suggestions are good, if you can keep up with such stuff.

There are tons of colorful photographs (by Melanie Acevedo) showing many different designing ideas.

For further information, visit these links:

  • More Info

  • Author Bio

  • I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
  • Sunday, November 1, 2015

    NYC Marathon 2015

    Hardly got a wink of sleep last night.  I often get my best energy in the wee hours of morning.  Ended up going to bed at 4:30 am (which was actually 5:30 am, the clocks having just been set back a few hours earlier).
    Woke around 8:30, feeling quite bleary eyed.  I was an hour late for my pain medication, so I took that.  Was wishing for breakfast and a big cup of coffee, so I got myself together, strapped my camera on my arm, and headed out to McDonald's.  
    Got a sausage and egg biscuit, and a large coffee to go.
    Sat on some steps by my apartment building, and chowed down.
    Missed getting a few shots of the wheelchair runners, but I was just taking my time, and felt ok about it.
    I thought the first set of on-foot runners was going to be the women, but I ended up getting mostly shots of men.  Could be they diverted the runners to another avenue to accommodate the masses, I'm not sure.
    (click on any picture to see larger images)


    Halloween Night

    Logan had a big day today.  First some trick or treating on the avenue with his mom, and then a Halloween party with his friends.  Afterward they were all going trick or treating again, so Logan went along with his mom.  He was to spend the overnight at Grandma's, so I went along for the ride, getting there about 7pm.  Logan brought some candy along, and shared it.  He played Scrabble with grandma.  We all had a dinner of chicken cutlets, corn on the cob, and green beans.  We watched some of The World Series (unfortunately, The Mets lost again), Logan cuddling up on the couch to do so.  Soon his eyes got heavy,  and it didn't take long for him to reach dreamland once his head hit the pillow.


    Friday, October 30, 2015

    breathing the sky

    the mind breathes
    in and out
    swelling with yesterday
    exhaling today.
    pausing for one split second
    on tomorrow

    for a while
    I can breathe

    here in the safety of 1:00 am
    where nothing is asked
    and there is time
    to drift and linger
    beneath a fat moon
    breathing in the ocean tide

    Sunday, October 25, 2015

    Book Review: Q&A a day, 4-year journal for creatives

    This is a fun and unique book, set up to be completed over a four year period.

    Each page (starting with January 1st, ending on December 31st) has a small prompt which you are supposed to explore, by adding a small doodle/sketch/painting to the page.  There are four rather small (about 3"x3") squares in which to add your sketch each year.

    The prompts are sometimes silly, sometimes thoughtful.
    Here are some examples from the journal:
    What does boiling water look like?
    Try to draw darkness.
    Draw a sculpture or statue.
    Create your to-do list as graffiti art.

    Though there is not much space in which to draw, these prompts may also just get your creative juices flowing, so that you can
    go from the book's pages to maybe a greater, more elaborate project.

    Covering the span of 4 years, this is quite a commitment, but as I said, it doesn't really ask for a whole lot from you, so it would probably be pretty easy to accomplish.

    The paper is not really suitable for heavy markers or watercolor, both of which would bleed through the page. It's more suitable for crayons, and colored pencils.

    I think I will have fun with this book over the years.

    I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

    For further info, visit the following links:

  • More Info
  • Author Bio
  • Sunday, October 18, 2015

    Book Review: You First; Journal Your Way to Your Best Life

    This book, You First; Journal Your Way to Your Best Life, by Lea Michele, is presented in four sections:  You, Ambition, Relationships, and Happiness.  Each section has three parts, set up with open ended questions designed to let you explore the sections.  There are lots of blank pages (with lines) for you to write in.
    Perhaps if I was younger this book would have more impact for me. But, I am 61 years old, and much of this stuff is just unrelatable for me.
    I found the first part, with emphasis on fitness, diet/nutrition, rather boring, as I'm just not into listing all the foods I eat over a couple of weeks time.  Nor am I interested in journaling my exercise routine for weeks. Being on a fixed income, I am unable to really purchase the best of foods for myself.  Being disabled, I am unable to exercise to any great degree.  So, the first part of the book was left essentially blank.
    It may be a worthwhile book for people in their 20's and 30's, but if you're senior, I would say don't waste your time.
    The questions asked did not really inspire me to write a whole page of answers.
    I think a blank journal is more worthwhile, for me, at least.
    There is a half dust-jacket on the book...  taking it off reveals a nicely designed front cover sans the author's face-shot, making it seem more like a personal journal.
    If you feel a need to map out your life and its possibilities, then this book may benefit you.
    I received this book from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

    For more information, click on the following links:
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  • Author Bio

  • Thursday, October 8, 2015

    7 year blog anniversary

    Today I am entering my 8th year of blogging.  Really hard to believe.  I know for the past couple of years I have hardly blogged at all due to a larger preoccupation with breast cancer, and pain management, but hopefully that will change over the ensuing year.

    Thanks to all of you who are still following my blog, and making comments.  I really appreciate all of you, and enjoy continuing to read your blogs, too.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015

    Book Review: Learning To See Creatively; Design, Color, and Composition in Photography

    This is the 3rd edition of Bryan Peterson's book, Learning to See Creatively.  Filled with all new images, and focusing on the new world of digital photography.
    The book is designed to help you view the images in front of you in a new manner.  It deals with the elements of design: line, shape, form, texture, pattern, and color.  Concentrating on these elements will force the eye in new directions, thus making for new and exciting images.
    In the Composition section, it teaches about the important "rule of thirds", teaching you how to compose a striking picture.  More importantly, maybe, is the idea of breaking all these rules and being a maverick when composing your own shot.
    There's a section on "the magic of light", suggesting the same picture be taken at different times of day, producing different results.
    Also, at the end, there is a small section which deals with Photoshop, and some how-tos associated with that.
    I can't say that everything in this book is new and exciting to me.  As a photographer for the past 40 years, I have explored many of these things along the way.  It is a nice book to share with your photo group, if you have one, giving suggestions that would be appropriate for a photowalk where you concentrate on a particular subject, like textures, or color.
    The photoshop tips at the end seem a bit cheesy to me, and the subsequent photos are a bit overdone.
    It is a good book to refresh old ideas you may have had.  If you are a novice, it steers you in the right direction for creative photography.
    For more information about the book and author, please click on the following links.

  • More Info
  • Author Bio
    I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
  • selfies

    I don't take selfies.  I don't own a cell phone, so don't have one of those small gadgets to hold in front of my face to snap away. Not sure I would even do that if I had one!  I shoot with one of the heavier dslr's, the Nikon D800.  Pretty impossible to hold that with outstretched arm to capture selfies.  Once in a while, when I'm with Melissa, I will hand her the camera and ask her to take a picture of me with Logan or some such, just so I can have a remembrance of the day/event, etc.  I believe a photographers place is behind the camera, not in front of it.
    People seem to be a little obsessed with taking pictures of themselves.  I see now that they even sell these sticks to place your cell phone camera on, to get a wider view.  I can understand maybe taking a pic of yourself with a friend or child..... at least someone else, but what's with all these self absorbed people shooting themselves?  Are you really that interesting?
    I've seen pictures of people shooting smiling selfies when visiting the memorial space at ground zero of the WTC.  What the hell, people?  Have you no common decency for sacred ground?  What are you smiling about?  I can understand taking a photo of the place itself, as a remembrance, to show you've been there.  But get out of the picture!  Use some common sense.  Do people take smiling selfies while standing next to gas chambers at Auschwitz? I'm afraid they probably do.
    I'm glad I'm not part of the madness.

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    It's that time again

    Past midnight now, and so it is October 1st.  I am fully aware that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Of course, I have been aware of breast cancer each day of my life for the past two years. It started with my diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer in September 2013.   It is two years ago this month (the 11th) that I had my double mastectomy, with 21 lymph nodes removed on the right (affected) side.  I chose to have my left breast removed as well, as a prophalactic measure, and because I knew that reconstruction would be more "even" if both breasts were "made" the same way.
    I was aware of breast cancer throughout my many months of chemotherapy, when sleep was my only savior.  I was aware of victory over cancer when my PET scan came back clear after chemotherapy.  Still, with 19 out of 21 lymph nodes positive for cancer, I had to have 35 rounds of radiation.  I was concientious and persevered to get there every day, five days a week, rain or shine, and there was a lot of rain.
    I was aware of breast cancer in the ensuing months, awaiting my reconstruction time, during which I endured the major discomfort of "expanders", rigid against my chest wall, stretching my chest skin, to accomodate the eventual placement of breasts.  It was like wearing a 3 sizes to small underwire bra, 24/7.
    I was aware of breast cancer as the surgeons drew on my naked body with sharpies (or maybe something not so indelible) just moments before my 7 hour surgery for reconstruction.
    Aware of breast cancer as I woke up, still intubated, in SICU, having suffered acute respiratory failure, moments after my operation.
    Aware of breast cancer each and every day since that operation, as I am one of the unfortunates who is suffering pain and severe discomfort even this many months after. 
    Aware of breast cancer each time I look at my right arm and hand, swollen from lymphedema.
    Aware of breast cancer when I look in the mirror.
    Aware of breast cancer every 8 hours when I take my cocktail of meds designed to ease some of the pain.
    So, do yourself a favor.   Get a mammogram.  Examine your breasts every month.  I pray that YOUR awareness need only happen once a month, and on a yearly basis.  The odds of becoming free of cancer are amazing, especially if caught early, but I hope you never have to travel that road.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015


    Today I am sorry to say that my sister had to put down her beloved cat, Bad.  He was 20 years old and was quite sick.  My sympathies go out to her, and I know how hard it is to deal with this outcome.  Bad had a good and long life with you, Tree, and he was very happy all his days.  Someday in the the distant future we will again meet up with all our 4-legged loved ones at the Rainbow Bridge.

    The Rainbow Bridge

    By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
     Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
     Where the friends of man and woman do run,
     When their time on earth is over and done.
     For here, between this world and the next,
     Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
     On this golden land, they wait and they play,
     Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
     No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
     For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
     Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
     Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
     They romp through the grass, without even a care,
     Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
     All ears pricked forward, eyes dart front and back,
     Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
     For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
     Together again, both person and pet.
     So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
     The time of their parting is over at last.
     The sadness they felt while they were apart,
     Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
     They embrace with a love that will last forever,

    And then, side-by-side, they cross over . . . together.

    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    Book review: instant Happy journal

    When I first saw this book, I was instantly attracted to its compact size, and cheerful design.  As I held it in my hands, I enjoyed the not quite hard-, yet not quite soft-cover.

    At 365 pages, instant Happy journal (365 days of inspiration, gratitude, and joy, by Karen Salmansohn, has the potential to be a wonderful little book.

    What will make it wonderful, you ask?  Well, the answer is:  You.

    At the top of each page is a space for the date.  Beneath it is an inspirational quote, an affirmative suggestion, or a thought-provoking passage.  This is followed by about a dozen short, blank lines to be filled up by you.  It doesn't ask a tremendous amount from you, just a few lines to start the day (or maybe end the day) with a focus on joy and gratitude.

    It is an easy book to carry around with you, if you want to wait for just the right moment to write your passage.  Take it to the park with you, or to your favorite little coffee shop.  Writing a new paragraph, or reading over previous ones, will surely bring a smile to your face.

    At the end of a year (maybe more, maybe less.  How you utilize the book is up to you) you will have a little treasure of your own personal Happy.

    I received this book from Blogging for Books , for this review.  For more information, see the following links:

    Friday, September 4, 2015

    late summer getaway

    Spent a few days away with my sister, niece, and great-nephew, at a campgrounds in Pine Grove, PA.

    (click on any pic see larger size slide show)

    my sister going down the slide

    Melissa going down the slide

    mother and child under a raining mushroom

    (The following pictures taken by Melissa)

    the water felt healing

    me and my beautiful great-nephew, Logan

    throwing rocks

    eating s'mores

    cuddling with grandma

    Mr Praying Mantis came to visit