The Flat

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I have been shooting film again for almost a year. I have a Holga that has been fun, as well as a Nikon FM2. Right now i am feeling a lot of frustration about this “shooting film” phase because most of my work stinks. Technically I have a lot to learn. This film habit is fairly expensive, so I was hoping my re-learning curve would not be so steep. Here is one image I like enough to share. It involved me asking a stranger if I could take a photo, which makes me uncomfortable. He was quite friendly, and it turned out well enough. I’d definitely recommend the Flat next time you are in downtown C’ville.

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Summer morning

Not much need for accompanying text, is there? Shot about 2 weeks ago around 6 a.m, west of Charlottesville, VA. It is beautiful in color, however i find myself preferring the black and white version. Landscape B&W-1

Dad, Chas, Charley, Brinley, PeeWee, Daddy

The last conversation I had with my dad was about UVA baseball – as I left after visiting him he yelled something unintelligible from his room. I walked back wondering what he needed me to do, and he said with glee “UVA just scored another run!!” so we celebrated. I left, saying as I always did “I love you daddy”. That was June 11th, 2011 so UVA was en route to the CWS which they ended up losing in the semi finals. Dad died June 12th. I miss him anyway especially this time of year – I want to share the pro tennis victories/defeats with him and the baseball news among other things. Sports were always a huge part of his life, and he was an amazing role model for good sportsmanship. Add this to it being around the anniversary of his death as well as Father’s day and he is never far from my thoughts. I am so, so thankful that we moved him to Charlottesville for the last 5 years of his life – I truly believe he was happier than he had been in a long, long time and Tess, Dave and I got to share so much more with him.

I should also mention that Dad had epilepsy from his teenaged years on – generalized tonic clonic seizures (grand mal in the old lingo). Epilepsy was much more a mystery in those years, and there were many less options for treatment. Epilepsy never held him back in any way nor did he feel sorry for himself – again, a role model for me when I was diagnosed.

I hope you can read the article I attached – it is from a Canadian newspaper I believe, written about 1943. And in the photograph he looks as happy as I have ever seen him. I cherish that photo. Finally, it is fitting that late last night the UVA baseball team advanced to the College World series finals – an event that would have thrilled my Dad. I will cheer twice as hard for the Hoos!

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Change

One of the hardest parts about working in healthcare is that people move in and out of your life on a regular basis. In many instances it doesn’t have much of an impact. When it does, it is anything but easy. I speak from a nursing perspective, but it pertains to many of us working in a hospital – maybe more so in a teaching facility. Physicians finish their residency and move on with their families. A co-worker’s husband finishes his degree at UVA and they move on. My best friend’s girlfriend finds a better job 3 hrs away, and their family moves. So very hard each and every time.

This week I found out my friend is moving. A new chapter in her life, and for her family – an exciting time for them. We have worked together for 12 yrs, and been through many life changes over those years. 3 children (hers, not mine!), new houses, appendectomies (both of us), health crises, my parents’ deaths. Not a friendship where we talk every night on the phone, or go out for drinks or dinner, or have our families get together much. Rather a knowledge that a friend has your back as evidenced by a timely text, a card during tough times or showing up at your front door with a bag of treats when you’ve had some tough times. I don’t notice our differences- though we are different in many ways- but rather the similarities. Since we have a great boss we were lucky enough to take a few team trips together – but i cannot talk about those because what goes on in Aruba/NYC stays there. I will say she dances a wicked good twist.

She has the most amazing children (because she and her husband are terrific parents), and I have photographed them over many years. In fact, I got pretty teary looking through photos just now while picking one out to post. Thus I picked out a silly one to lighten my mood. Friendships always change when there is distance involved, so there will be a new normal but still a good friendship to rely on.

As I re-read this prior to posting, I realize it doesn’t begin to convey my thoughts or feelings but I think you all get what I mean.

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February 27, 2003

As I was rummaging through a drawer 2 days ago, I opened an old journal. Strangely, it opened right to February 27th, twelve years ago. The entry began: “Winter, winter, winter. Will it ever end?” It touched on the love I had for our new dog Stella, and also on the job I had just applied for in outpatient neurosurgery.

Twelve years later, I still am not a fan of winter and it’s gray short days. I still love that golden like a crazy person. However, the journal entry drives home that she will be 13 this summer, and it is so difficult to see her aging. Sweet Stell-Bell. Finally, I took that job when it was offered and have never regretted it – it was time to leave ICU nursing.

Reading old journal entries causes mixed emotions – so much has changed, so little has changed. So, a Stella photo and a fun winter photo.

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The Corner

It’s not often that the corner is this deserted – no cars, few people. Taken February 16th around 4:30 p.m -bitterly cold with the snow coming down. Quiet.

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Winter morning sky

One of the things I like the most about life in Belmont/Charlottesville is my walk to work. Typically I walk to the transit station downtown by way of Belmont bridge. Every morning is a new painting – and because of this it is not uncommon for me to miss the bus.  Today there was beautiful winter light to the east, in advance of the winter snowstorm now upon us.

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Restoring The Rotunda

I am fortunate to work at the University of Virginia medical center, and have an office that is a 5 minute walk from the beautiful grounds of UVA. The header of my blog is an image of the Rotunda last year in the snow. Note the black fabric at the tops of the columns. This was to cover the capitals that were in such a state of disrepair that people below were in danger of being hit by pieces falling off. The Rotunda is undergoing a huge renovation, and today they started the process of installing the new capitals. The new capitals are made of Carrara marble, machine carved and hand finished as I understand it. They weigh over 6 tons, and cost about 150,000 each. I was lucky enough to see them up close, and they are breath-takingly beautiful. Here are a few photos. You can go here:  http://rotunda.virginia.edu/ to read more about the restoration.

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A few tips when your friend/patient/client has cancer

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A brief follow up to yesterday’s post. It can be awkward/stressful/difficult if you know someone with cancer. Based on my experience here are a few tips for the world in general:

If you are the flower delivery guy: don’t say “congratulations” with every delivery. Not everyone just had a baby. It did give a us good laugh though at a time we needed it.

If you are the lab tech: don’t say “I thought I was having a bad day, until I looked at your paperwork.” Followed by detailed story of how her grandmother was ravaged by breast cancer. Uhh.

If you are a nurse: care for the family as much as the patient. They are aching too. Be cautious joking, and instill a sense of confidence in your patient. Even though procedures and surgery are routine to you, they are terrifying to the patient and family.

Never tell a cancer patient (or anyone for that matter) they look tired. They ARE tired, emotionally and physically.  They know they look like crap, so find anything positive and focus on that.

If you are a friend: send snail mail, leave a gift bag on the front porch, send a text saying you are thinking of them, send a scarf or hat or earrings. Food gifts can be tricky so find out what is appealing.

It is the little things that make the biggest difference. When i let my mind go back there I am easily brought to tears by the kindness of friends, co-workers, family and strangers.

 

 

The path you are thrown onto.

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Two yrs. ago on January 17th my surgeon said “I think it’s cancer”. When a Dr. says that prior to a biopsy they must be pretty darn sure. It was yesterday, it was a hundred years ago. Thus I began a journey down a long road that I had no interest in traveling on. My friend Harry recently shared Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, which caused me to pause and think about choices i had made in my life. This morphed into thinking of the experience that I had no choice in – specifically a cancer diagnosis. I realized that sometimes it is not about the path you take, but rather how you choose to walk it. I like to think that I have walked as gracefully as possible along this path involving cancer, with a sense of humor and with a new appreciation for many things and people. I certainly have learned a lot. And that has made all the difference.