Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday, elsewhere

I took a walk late yesterday afternoon to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. I brought the Canon XS with me, and got a few shots of the Irvington/Alameda neighborhood in NE Portland where I live. Didn't get much of a cardio workout, I'm afraid. Probably would be a good idea not to mix intentions when I head out, but at least I got some shots of this wonderfully quirky block.

Monday, November 23, 2009

tres chic!

My friend, Miss J, well-known for her stylish elan and decorating skills, celebrated a milestone birthday recently with an elaborate dessert party at her house in NE Portland. Oh, Miss J. While the treats you made us were so delicious, and the Cherry Clofouti was to die for, my favorite part was your swim cap on the window, adding that extra touch of color. The night's tasty conversation was pretty fun too!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It's cold this morning, but I threw open the windows for some fresh air. After a few weeks of rain and chill, the apartment gets so stale and even confining. Fleece jacket over my pjs, mug of coffee on my right, I'm posting a few shots taken recently that I just like. For no particular reason, in no particular order. Feels better in here already.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a little exposition

I want to write about what’s been happening to me, explain why I’ve not been as actively engaged with either my photography or the writing of poetry (or much of anything else, for that matter), and why my blog, so recently initiated, now languishes between each random and brief entry. And I hope this doesn't sound whiney or completely self-indulgent. It's true I live alone and don't always have a full perspective on what's happening to me, but it seemed appropriate to finally tell the truth about some of the stuff that's contributed to my silences.

For the past year-and-a-half, or so, I’ve noticed myself getting more and more easily fatigued with an exhaustion that never seems to resolve, while also sleeping far less because of physical discomfort, and an increasing stiffness that has not been helped by more stretching, yoga, freeweights or cardio workouts. (Lately I’ve been waking in the wee hours in excruciating pain, my wrists and knuckles swollen, inflamed and rigid. Rheumatoid arthritis is some serious shit, man. And so far, my meds are not really working, although time will tell.) That it’s taken so long to put a name on what I’ve been experiencing physically is not unusual, I guess, but can I just say that I feel a small element of vindication? I KNEW something was wrong. And I’m relieved that it’s not something much worse. I think.

Anyway, simultaneous to the onset of my physical challenges—somewhere around Christmas, 2007—my gorgeous, independent-minded daughter somehow slid into a dark descent and became a heroin addict, eventually homeless, and surrendered full custody of her only child to his father. No one close to her would have predicted such a dramatic reversal, although the signs were there in retrospect, and we were all simply, literally stunned by her change; bearing witness to my grandson's anguished confusion was just heartbreaking. Then, finally, last June my daughter began the return to sobriety, taking one carefully sober day at a time, as her family holds its collective breath. As the time passes, our sense of her dedication increases and admiration for her ongoing effort gathers strength. She spends time daily with her son, but otherwise maintains a strict silent distance from her brother and me. And I miss her. There is so much I wish I could say, so much I wish I could go back and change. I sit with my coffee, alone in the early morning before work, talking it out with her over and over in the silence, trying to make it right.

In August, the clumsiness resulting from slowly stiffening fingers may have caused me to drop my Canon XS, the D-SLR that has made photography my life’s passion and expanded creative horizons I never thought I could approach. Its strap caught on the lip of my desk and crashed so hard to the floor that the lens and autofocus became completely jammed and useless. And because I was moving to a new apartment, and then had other unplanned expenses in September, it was late October before I could get it in to be serviced. It's now mid-November and I still don’t have it back, although expect its return by the end of the month. Meanwhile, I’ve been making-do with a point-and-shoot that rather limits my options creatively.

To say that I’ve been depressed would be an understatement. Despair rides me daily, with occasional, intense infusions of pure elation and release that come in the shared moments with good friends and my beautiful, healthy, adventurous grandsons and their parents. The holidays are coming, my Philly family will be here for Christmas Eve, and I’m optimistic for time to take pictures and eat good food and just savor the company of people I love, who love me back. Sometimes when you wake up alone in the night and everything hurts, it’s enough to know they will return. Almost.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

first, the good news...

Here is the view from the exam table in my primary care provider's clinic, where I waited on Tuesday for her opinion of my (relatively) recent symptoms. I'd already diagnosed myself by checking online, so was curious to see if she agreed with my evaluation. Turns out, she did.

Turns out, the diagnostic labs confirmed it today: I am in the very early stages of rheumatoid arthritis. So no wonder I've been completely exhausted day and night, sleeping poorly and experiencing "flare ups" of swollen, very painfully inflamed wrists and shoulders.

We are waiting for my next flare up so she can aspirate some of the fluid and then begin the process of refining a regimen of medication and treatment. Crap.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder and is the kind of arthritis that causes severe bone deformity if left untreated. Fortunately, treatment regimens today are very effective at managing pain and inflammation, so I'm hopeful and optimistic that this diagnosis, while serious and chronic, will not take over my life. As a writer and photographer, I need my hands to work. Breathing deeply, this is just about as close to home as it gets.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

Celebrated All Hallow's Eve with poet friends who provided cheeses and bread for my hearty soup, apple galettes and spiced cider. And now I wish I'd brought out the camera before the party started, Miss J did such an excellent job on the decorations. But it turned out to be a great night for stimulating conversation, humor and gossip~and even a brief discourse on nucleotides~so I didn't even think of the camera until things were winding down.