Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Bar Bakery

Every October spouse and I like to go down to Bradford County, PA to stock up on the food of that area.  This is a "mixed" population, somewhat rural/small town, with a sprinkling of Amish. In other words, a rural gem.  I don't want to come off sounding like a "foodie" so I'll just say I like the kind of food that Bradford County produces.  I won't call it "artisan".  It was artisan before that word became so overused.

I believe I blogged about this area last year, but there have been some changes.

We normally have three stops, one of them being a local bakery in the small town of Stevensville.  This bakery started out several years ago initially run by an Eastern European couple, and featured bread with the most wonderful crust imaginable.   There were all kinds of cookies.  There were chickens in the yard by the bakery.  They sold homemade pirogies. 

Then one year we showed up and they were gone.  The helpful people at Dotti Lou meats (another stop) told us they had sold their recipes to a gentleman and we could go just a few feet down the road and find the new bakery.  It was a place called the Apple Tree bakery.  Sure enough, there the bread was.  The chickens and pirogies were gone but well....change happens.  We were thrilled to have the bread.  The cookies were there but...I can only say this kindly, they were not good.

Well, this time, the Apple Tree bakery had morphed into  A bar with a bakery.  The bar had no customers but after some confusion we did see where there was some bread for sale.  The cookies were gone.  I don't know about how long the bread is going to last though.  There were several signs, one talking about the fact that he was ceasing daily baking of bread due to slow weekday sales.  There were also several signs asking patrons to keep down the cursing and to be considerate of the Apple Tree's neighbors.  I wonder what type of clientele the bakery bar is attracting but he is trying to be a good neighbor.

We've eaten off two of the breads we bought so far and both were excellent.  But.....

I have a bad feeling this is the last we've seen of the Apple Tree bread.   Oh please tell me that I am wrong.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Virtual Halloween

I had promised you another post about FarmVille, and my analysis (such as it is) about why it is so wildly popular, especially among...well, women over 40.  Which I am.

I'm sorry, but I've been too busy decorating and playing over at FarmVille.

I've been playing a bit over a year now, so this is my second Halloween.  This one has been so much fun.  Besides building my Haunted House (you have to ask your FarmVille neighbors, fellow Facebook friends who play FarmVille, for building materials) and harvesting candy from it, I've been getting candy from other neighbors and filling up my pumpkin.  The Haunted House is really cool looking, with bats flying around it and ghosts oozing out of the building.

Each night when I visit neighbors to help with their farms I get a chance to put spider webs on five of their fences or trees. (Virtual teepeeing, sort of.)  I've also decorated my farm with a tombstone and pumpkin fences, and have purchased a Halloween costume for my avatar.  (Right now I'm dressed as a pirate but am thinking strongly of buying the dinosaur costume.)  Trust me, this is "nothing" compared to what some people do. (Oh yes, I grow virtual pumpkins now and then.)

I had some maple trees (yellow and red) from last year, and put them around my Haunted House, along with some mounds of leaves.

I've been trying to grow black roses.  You can only get 20 seeds (for 20 plots) at a time, and if you don't want to pay for them, you have to get from your friends.  It's challenging, but I hope to be able to master them.

Finally, I've been growing candy corn:  and if you never knew candy corn was a crop, well, it is on FarmVille.

The decorating aspect is important to a lot of FarmVille players.  Many of them spend real live cash on virtual decorations-I don't, personally.  The interacting with neighbors is the real attraction.  Most of my FarmVille neighbors are people I know, although one (living out in Arizona) I've only seen 3 or 4 times in my life.  She ended up "introducing" me to her best friend and now her friend is a valued FarmVille neighbor, too.

After Halloween is over, the Thanksgiving season will begin on FarmVille.  I have some turkeys from last year and rumor is FarmVille will be giving farmers turkey coops to build with a "little help from their friends."

So, about that analysis?  I'll get around to it....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cataracts, Heart Attacks, and Scoliosis

I didn't want to turn my recent ramblings on the Ithaca Art Trail to turn into one of those "I did this I did that" things - zzzzz.  So instead, I will talk about an artist whose studio we visited on the Trail this year.

Her name is Felicia Poes and she runs a small mosaics studio in Interlaken, NY called We Be Tilin'. shared her love of mosaics with my spouse and I.  Outside her studio (which is now closed for the winter), were various clay pots with mosaics applied.  It was just the beginning of a marvelous collection.

We spent quite a while enjoying, in particular, her collection of mosaic guitars.  The guitars are works of art-not playable art but - the link above has a link to pictures of some of these guitars - and these pictures on her website don't even begin to do her justice.

My spouse, who majored in geology, enjoyed her collection of various stones, which she incorporates into her art.  Mosaics isn't just shattered glass and pots glued onto stuff.  It is so much more, especially for Felicia Poes.

Which is where the cataracts, heart attacks and scoliosis come in.

One of her mosaics incorporated a bicycle chain in a pattern that to me (I have scoliosis) resembles...well, scoliosis.  I forget what the work of art was called, but I joked with the artist that if she ever needed to see a chiropractor, perhaps she could barter the picture for chiropractor services.  This, though was the true beauty of her mosaics....the element of recycled material.  Other of her art pieces....well, they involved heart attacks and cataracts.  You will just have to use your imagination.

If you are interested in video of some of the various studios:  click here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Red is the Color of The Season....So why not a festival?

Earlier this year I blogged about the Macon Cherry Blossom festival and how great it would be for the Binghamton area to have some kind of local spring blooming festival.  Well, maybe not.  My letter to the editor of the paper never got published and I've since read about the money Macon actually loses on the cherry blossom festival, when all is said and done. spouse and I got to thinking about a fall foliage festival.  Not Vermont-style, where people crowd the roads to rubberneck.  Instead, something more in-town urban.  This could be combined with other fall festival staples to make something very nice.

Every year spouse and I rate which fall color has given the best show. This is so dependent on the weather but it seems every year one particular color shows out more than normal.  Some years it is yellow, some years orange, some years-red.

This year red wins.  Such brilliant Japanese maples and "burning bushes" caught our eyes walking on the West Side of Binghamton this evening, I wished for about the 280,000th time that I had a cell phone camera.

Meantime, spouse had a thought.....what if the streets of downtown Binghamton were lined with shrubs like Euonymus alatus?  Or other foliage trees?  (Sadly, probably now Japanese Maples-they can be as expensive as they are beautiful).   Timing would be uncertain but it already is for the DC and Macon Cherry Blossoms.   And, knock on wood, it hasn't snowed here in October in a while-in fact there hasn't been a killing frost yet in a lot of places in Binghamton.

Downtown Binghamton already has July Fest so an October Fest of Fall Foliage wouldn't be out of the question.  Combine it with some music (music, new this year to July Fest vastly increased attendance for July Fest over past years) and it would be another way to attract people back to downtown. And even without a festival, if we plant beautiful trees...well downtown ends up with beautiful trees - which we hope the vandals won't take to decorate their dor....I mean, apartments, with.

So how about it folks?  If you don't want a spring blossom festival, how about a fall foliage festival?  Or at least mass plantings of trees?

Monday, October 25, 2010

News Flash! Wal-Mart Saves Johnson City, New York!

Back in July, I talked about the grand opening of a Wal-Mart store on what had been the site of a long abandoned Endicott-Johnson factory.  Some people were saying that Wal-Mart might be the salvation of downtown Johnson City.  Unlike other communities who protested Wal-Mart coming to town, many people seemed optimistic about its coming.

It now appears these people were right about the revitalization of downtown Johnson City.  Let's all cross fingers because this village needs all the revitalization it can get.

Yes, we are talking about the same village that nearly dissolved itself last year (and this still may happen.)

Downtown Johnson City (Johnson City, fyi, is a small village of about 13,000. that saw its glory days end years ago)

There is definitely activity in those storefronts.  Some of the businesses have relocated from Binghamton or other areas.  One is a business that was on Main Street for years, moved to a side street, and is now returning to Main Street.  At least one, though, is a reflection of the changing nature of our population - a Middle Eastern restaurant.

No doubt, Johnson City still has problems.  Despite recent arrests, gangs are a constant presence.  However, this is the first activity other than people leaving in -well, years.

So why did Wal-Mart help?  No surprise there.  People are coming there to shop, and coming from certain directions they have to drive through downtown Johnson City.  It's as simple as that.  Businesses are hoping to pick up on this.

Look what Wal-Mart did for the Vestal Parkway in the nearby Town of Vestal.

It could happen to Johnson City.

How ironic that Wal-Mart, once accused of destroying downtowns, could possibly now revitalize them.  Are we the only community in this country to experience that?  (full disclosure, I do not live in the Village of Johnson City, but I have family members with roots in the Village.)

Keep fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Alice Cooper on the Golf Course and other Snipits of Triple Cities Life

Here, in no particular order, are some word snapshots of life here in the Southern Tier of Upstate NY during October, 2010.  I'd love to know how October was for those in other parts of the country.

The Circus Comes to Town:  Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to town and we working in downtown Binghamton are treated to the circus unloading elephants and lions.

Alice Cooper Plays Golf:  seen on the golf course at En Joie, rocker Vincent Furnier, aka Alice Cooper, plays with the mother of someone involved with the Endicott Performing Arts Center (EPAC).  He ends up inviting two people involved with EPAC to meet with him backstage at his concert with Rob Zombie.  Wish I had some photos of that!

The Battle of the Marching Bands, (high schools, that is) a Binghamton Columbus Day tradition:  I took lunch early and enjoyed several of the bands, including Johnson City, Vestal, and Whitney Point, marching down Main Street.  After the parade, everyone mingles on Water Street for food and entertainment. (but not me, back to work I had to go....)

The Ithaca Art Trail: at a later date, I will post on that.  Yes, I know it isn't the Triple Cities, and maybe one of these days we will get our own Art Trail.   I didn't bring my camera this time like I did last year, so I'll have no photos this time.  Actually wish I had bought them, especially when I talk about the mosaic guitars.

Good news for Johnson City:  this one also deserves its own blog post.  Have my work cut out.

and, last but not least:

First Friday, featuring a new exhibit at our local museum on Trees....with one special tree, which I will try to write about.

Fall continues....and only a week to Halloween.  And only a week to November.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Muslims Wearing Things

Sometimes someone starts the right blog at the right time.

It was on BoingBoing, in case you are wondering how I discovered it.

My regular readers know I don't get excited about blogs I stumble upon too often.  This is an exception.

After the controversies of this week over the firing of one J. Williams (which I do have an opinion on, but the purpose of this blog is not to get political) this new blog answers the timely question:  exactly what is Muslim garb?  How can we easily tell a Muslim from a non-Muslim through their clothes?

So this new Muslins Wearing Things blog seeks to inform the public as to official and unofficial Muslim garb.  And make a few good points along the way.

I will be interested in seeing where this goes.  Will anyone learn what this blog is trying to educate us to?  Or will it drown in a sea of hatred?  Especially as the writer has a "ask me anything" link: wonder how long that will last.  Will he or she post the questions, with answers?  I can't wait to see.

I hope this blog lasts for a while because it is awesome.  But two comments....
1.would be nice to see more picture of females - because so much of the ignorant beliefs seem to center around women...
2.  How do we get the ignorant to read that blog in the first place?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Winter Closes In

Wet snow is in the forecast tonight.
It's 6:10 pm and it's getting dark.

Winter is closing in.

It isn't here yet. We've had one light frost at our house (although, where my son lives at a higher elevation, he's had several.)  The trees are turning in dribs and drabs.  I think the dry summer had something to do with it.  In between each burst of color, strong winds have been coming, and tearing off the leaves before their time.  In other words, we haven't had a good color season.

Pumpkins are plentiful.  The apple harvest is proceeding nicely.  Hot cider beckons.  Halloween is almost here.

But still.....

The strong winds have a chill.  The clouds are getting that "winter" look.  Soon enough, that wet snow will be sticking, making us slide and shiver.  (Kids have another view, but that's besides the point.)

We can't hold it back.  Winter is closing in.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RIP Panchos Pit

Just a small of the long time restaurants in Johnson City, Panchos Pit, has closed.  Their contents were auctioned off yesterday.

Spouse and I have never eaten there.  But a relative ate there a lot over the years, both when he lived in Johnson City, and after.  Apparently there had been several owners and the most recent one wanted to retire - and couldn't find a buyer.  From what I've heard, it was no great loss - what had been an "institution" in Johnson City had become a restaurant featuring bad service and not so good food.  When my relative ate there, they weren't any gourmet eatery, but featured good, cheap food.

This is the second business this strip mall on Riverside Drive lost in recent months.  A long time local butcher business, Ralph's Meats, closed earlier this year.

It's a sad day when a small village loses long time businesses.

And meanwhile, the NYPENN Trade Center, which I've blogged about before, continues to teeter on the edge of closing forever.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Blue Highways of Putnam County (Or, Historic Adventures with Google Maps)

I've been waffling between using Mapquest and Google Maps for my directions.  One thing I can say about our latest episode with Google Maps, it sure led us on a wild adventure.

For the high school reunion I blogged about a few days ago, we needed to get to a country club in Garrison, NY, on Route 9.  Rt 9 in NY is a very heavily traveled highway paralleling the Hudson River. The way you would normally get to Rt 9 from where we were starting our trip involves U.S. Highway 6, another very heavily traveled highway.

The reunion started at 5pm so we felt it was a good idea to find an alternate route.

We turned to Google Maps and it gave us 3 routes.  Two routes involved U.S. 6.   One was about 17 miles and one about 15 miles.   The third - well, on the map it actually looked like a straight line from "here" to "there" whereas the U.S. 6 options were not straight lines-and my dear spouse, when driving, loves straight lines.   And it was only about 12 miles.   Even if it involved getting on and off 9 different roads, the route sounded like just "the ticket".  Drive 2 miles on this road, .4 miles on that road, 1.6 miles on that road.....

A couple of the road names sounded familiar, too, one having an exit off the Taconic Parkway.

So the "alternate route" it was.

We started out.  The first road dear spouse was familiar with.  The second road was the road that you could get onto the Taconic on. Both were "regular", two lane roads.  Then things started to get interesting.

Keep in mind, during this drive, it was threatening to rain heavily and the wind was rather strong.

The third road was a bit narrow.  The fourth road (or maybe it was the 5th, I've lost count by now), was so steep our car (which is far from underpowered) started to labor.  The 6th road was barely the width of a driveway and we crawled around the very steep curves (curves we hadn't seen since our last trip to Colorado, so yes we know what steep curves are) at 15 mph.  The 7th road, well, I barely remember it.  I was too worried about getting lost in what literally had become the middle of nowhere. (and that's no mean trick, finding the middle of nowhere, when you are only about 45 miles from NYC.)

The 8th road?  It was unpaved.

But it was quite historic.  I would have even taken a picture if I was inclined to get out of the car at that point.

It is called the Old Albany Post Road.  And, thanks to Google Maps not warning us of the epic we were about to embark on, we stumbled upon a historic jem of a road, in fact, one of the oldest unpaved roads in the country still in use.

I'm glad I didn't know about the 4 foot wide craters that had decorated some of this road after a nor'easter in 2007, because a nor'easter was threatening as we made this drive.

The Wikipedia article I've linked to has me wanting to revisit this road.  Lots of historic stuff, which I could only begin to guess at during our little adventure.  Next time we come armed with knowledge, and we will make this drive in nicer weather.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Loneliest Gas Station in the Northeast

Along I-84 West, approaching the last NY exit, there is a special intersection the average motorist does not know about.

The exit is for Port Jervis, NY.  Port Jervis is a small city in New York with a fascinating history.  To the traveler there is another significance.  Cheap gas....but not in Port Jervis.

NJ, NY and PA come together at Port Jervis.  The PA community is across the Delaware River and is called Matamoras. It is the easternmost spot in Pennsylvania. For NJ, the township of Montague (the northernmost spot in New Jersey) highlights one of the most bizzare aspects of differences in state law.

Getting off of I-84 you are still in NY.  Right off the interstate is a gas station.  Wise travelers ignore that station, knowing that a few hundred yards down the road is the New Jersey border.  Right past the NJ border cluster several gas stations.  Yesterday, when we stopped for gas, these stations were 30 cents a gallon less than the Port Jervis station....and featured the famous NJ full service gas pumping.

Yes....much cheaper gas....and you don't even have to pump it yourself.

NJ is one of two states that prohibit self service gas pumping (the other is Oregon).  The NJ law dates from 1949.  There have been several attempts (unsuccessful, obviously) to repeal this law.  As a result, the lucky teenagers of New Jersey can grow up without learning to pump their own gas.  Full service is the law.

It is so strange seeing this.  Each cluster of pumps has an attendant and they pump your gas and take your credit card, debit card or cash.  If you are lucky, they will even clean your windshield.

Just like in the old days.  You know, those old days that I grew up in.

Who would ever thought of how strange it felt?

As for the gas prices....we normally don't take this route for a trip we make several times a year but we may just rethink that.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Forever Young

The Dancing Queen.  No longer 17.

The administrator for a children's hospital on the West Coast.  The merger and acquisitions lawyer up from Washington DC.  The school psychologist practicing in Virginia.  The financial consultant.  The grandmother of three fresh from a trip to Hawaii.  The produce clerk.  The man taking constant phone calls because his father was in the hospital, a thousand miles away.

What did we all have in common?   6 hours of dancing, talking, sharing email addresses, and looking at old photos.

A 40th high school reunion.

Not mine, but my husband's.  One of his friends organized it.  Before last night I had only met one of these people, and to my amazement, I recognized him the minute I saw him.  My husband was already in college when I met him so this was a part of his life that I was never able to share.

Until now.

There was the woman who, surveying the room, said to me "This is surreal".  Yes it was and I bet everyone who goes to a reunion (especially the 30th, the 40th, and beyond) thinks the same thing.  When you age, the people you knew in your childhood (if you don't see them as adults) are frozen in time.  The people you went to high school with are, in your mind, forever 17 and 18.  Even if they are really 58 or 60.

Until you go to the reunion, that is, and this is the surreal part.  You walk into the room and see a bunch of middle aged people just like you.  Some look like their yearbook photos.  Many do not. Many of us grey, all of us wrinkled, some of us in shape, others not so much.  Some of us have achieved great things.  Some have lived the lives they had planned to live but for many of us our lives have taken many unexpected directions.  Some good, some not.

We are older, wiser.  We accept the class clown, we reminise about old antics,  we laugh with and hug the classmate who had too much to drink and is now trying to cry on everyone's shoulder.  We know this moment isn't going to be forever.  We know when we have the next reunion we will be near 70.  Maybe we should have these more often.

Will we do that?

Or will we be reabsorbed into our daily lives?  Only time will tell.

But for that one night we were....forever young.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Pink Cartoons that Made Me See Red

With deep apologies to one of my dear regular readers, I have to speak out.

Since when is breast cancer more important than other cancers?  It is, if you have it.  But there are a lot of women suffering and dying right now, from other cancers that barely see the light of day.  The light of funding, that is.  Funding for their cure

Why does breast cancer rate a special fight, while other feminine cancers, such as uterine or ovarian, don't rate as high?  Do they not deserve our attention?  And our funds to "find a cure"?  Or at least a good test, which ovarian cancer needs desperately?

I am sorry, Pink Cartoonists, but I feel you have disrespected my Aunt Trudy, who died from pancreatic cancer.  You disrespected my Aunt Shirley, who died from stomach cancer.  You disrespected my late co worker Madeline, who died from melanoma.  You disrespected my late co worker Patricia who died from lung cancer.

You disrespect a co-worker for many years, whose grandmother and mother both died from colon cancer.  You disrespect the fear she faces every day that she will be next.

You disrespect a former neighbor who lived next door to me. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer (she was way too young for a routine colonoscopy, in case you are wondering.)  You disrespect my late neighbor, a respected teacher in the Johnson City middle school, who succumbed to ovarian cancer and left her husband, also a teacher, to raise their two children.

Their cancer struggles deserve respect. Their cancers deserve walks and a special color and products whose sales help to fund the fight for "the cure".

All cancers deserve a cure.  Not just breast cancer.  I am sorry, I know women fighting breast cancer now and I do not disrespect what they are going through.  What I fight against is this "women united against breast cancer" -while people seem to turn a funding blind eye to those women who were unfortunate enough to come down with a different type.

Don't they deserve a fight for the cure?  A day of cartoon colors in their honor?

I think of the other friends and females relatives in my life.  The survivors (two survivors of thyroid cancer, a survivor of ovarian cancer and a number of breast cancer survivors) and those who did not survive.

Their struggle was heroic, each and every one.  The courage my friend Pat, who knew from the day she was diagnosed that she would not survive and prepared her family for that day without flinching, moved me in particular.  I remember the last time I visited her, when she was in a coma, mere days from death.  She lay there in her living room, with her favorite country music playing.  "She won't respond", her husband said, "but she hears everything you say."  It was so hard to say goodbye.  The words stuck in my throat.  I could swear she weakly squeezed my hand.

My co-worker Madeline struggled for nearly four years against melanoma.

My mother in law, who had two breast cancer diagnoses in one year, with a 10 year old daughter at home, faced her own struggle.

Don't women deserve a race to the "cure" against CANCER, no matter what type?

Don't all cancer fighters and survivors deserve this?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Irony of the Most Hopeless Political Jingle in History

Spouse and I were watching a program talking about political ads in this year's campaign.  Some of them were pretty awful-there always are some that just stick in your mind in the wrong way.

Some will stick in people's minds forever, and not in the way their creators meant.  The most famous of those was the Lyndon Johnson "daisy girl" ad of 1964 (I fear people my son's age-young adult-will never feel the full impact of that ad) but there were many local ads.

Seeing this program both spouse and I burst into song, a song almost 30 years old, from our days in Arkansas.

"John Paul Hammerschmidt...", the ditty went, "doesn't deserve to be reelected.  John Paul Hammerschmidt, he doesn't work for you."  I think this was the chorus and here was more at the beginning, but I can't quite remember.

Pretty catchy...although the words on a blog page don't do much.  I tried to find the ad on You Tube: no luck.  You'll just have to take my word for it:  this was so annoying, we remember it 30 years later.

It didn't work.   It didn't have a chance. John Paul Hammerschmidt did deserve to be reelected, or at least, his constituents felt that way.

Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt was elected 13 times.

One of these times (not the election of the jingle) was a victory won against a young University of Arkansas law professor by the name of William Jefferson Clinton.  (check out this tribute to Hammerschmidt for a picture of the young Clinton.)

We all know what happened to Clinton.  Meanwhile, Hammerschmidt is far from a household word, except in certain parts of Arkansas.  Long retired from Congress, he still comes to work every day at age 84, we are told.

So what about the man who wrote the jingle?  Amazingly, I was able to find information about him online.  His name was Jerry Russell, who died in 2003.  Although the tribute I found said his jingles worked about 70 percent of the time, his contribution to history was the preservation of Civil War battlefields-a pursuit which he devoted many years to.

Now, every time I visit a Civil War battlefield (and I've been to a number of them- including one in Arkansas) - I am going to be thinking of John Paul Hammerschmidt.

Politicians, choose your jingles well.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pink October

Today was the annual breast cancer walk in Binghamton.  It had what I would consider a very good turnout.  Crowds of women and men dressed in pink, or in white shirts with the breast cancer symbol, or sporting pink boas, bubbled over from Rec Park through the streets of the West Side of Binghamton.  As I saw the flood of humanity this beautiful fall day (crisp and clear, beautiful blue skies) pour into the streets of Binghamton, conflicting emotions rose in me-like they always do when I think of breast cancer.


There are several reasons, and I think of them whenever I see that flood of pink, be it on the streets or in supermarkets, where sponsors use this powerful pink to sell soup, pretzels and many other items.  To be honest, I wince when I see the pink tsunami, and the pink merchandising.

Don't get me wrong.  I was quite alive and well in the "bad days" of breast cancer, being a witness to some of what my mother in law went through battling her two distinct breast cancers during the 1970's (more on that a little later).  So many people alive today do not know the horrors of breast cancer back then - how women were given no support, how women would be put under while a "frozen section" was run on their tumor...and women would not know, when they woke up, if they would have their entire body or not. If they didn't, well - cancer in those days was something you fought privately, with little or no support.

My mother in law, to be blunt about it, was butchered by a well meaning surgeon and has the scar to prove how men treated the removal of a breast in the bad old days.

And, in the course of full disclosure:  I have participated the last four years in Relay for Life (the "overall" cancer fundraiser of the Ameican Cancer Society) and I have never been diagnosed with cancer.  I'm just someone who has witnessed the cancer struggles of many people I know and-know what?  Some lived and some died.  So I am not an expert.  Just a lucky bystander who has seen some things second hand through the sufferings of those I like and love.

So what is my issue?

Several issues.

1.  I think the "pink" campaign trivializes breast cancer.  How many of you are aware, for example, that there is no such monolith as "breast cancer" but instead a whole spectrum of cancers affecting the breast?  My mother in law had two different types.  One was a tumor.  The other manifested itself as a discharge.  Her doctor "poo pooed" it but finally an instinct told my mother in law that she had a problem and had to seek help elsewhere.  Well, even after the cancer diagnosis, it was diagnosed incorrectly and fortunately Memorial Sloane Kettering made the correct diagnosis (so correct treatment could be given).  Know what, women?  This stuff still happens today!  There is nothing cute or pink about this killer.

2.  Not everyone survives.  And I truly think there is a tendency today to "blame the victim":  those with Stage IV, well, they didn't eat the right foods, or they didn't exercise enough, or they didn't do their self exam well enough, or they didn't get enough mammograms or...they didn't fight hard enough.  ???????  Some of this comes down to the old American attitude...we don't want to face death.  And that isolates the woman fighting cancer even more.  I saw this happen to a relative I loved very much and I was a little too inexperienced back then to understand.  Know what?   I know I still don't understand...and a part of me hopes I never have to understand.

Some say there are no cancer survivors....only cancer fighters.

3.  Men can get breast cancer too!  I worry about my dear husband - with his family history-mother had it twice, and four of her sisters had breast cancer also-is he at risk? .  So, women...did you know that men have breast tissue?  I read a statistic online saying that one out of every 100 breast cancers is diagnosed in a man.  And every one of those men is drowning in the pink tsumani of misunderstanding.

Don't believe me?  Well, go to the Web MD site and search up this "Man's Guide to Breast Cancer".  The same site that gave me some of my statistics considers a man's guide to breast cancer as being a guide to supporting his diagnosed wife.  So the man with breast cancer:  Is he a joke?   An asterisk?

No, he's real, and you may know him.

4.  I truly feel the pink tsunami funnels money from other cancers.  Maybe breast cancer gets the publicity because there is a test for it or because of the past history I touched on above.  Still....there are no reliable tests for a lot of other cancers.  Let's see, how about another dread women's cancer (and this is one only women get):  ovarian cancer?  Well women die every day from ovarian cancer - my next door neighbor did-and nothing cute about ovarian cancer either.    My neighbor left a 12 year daughter and a 6 year old son.  Where are all the ovarian cancer soups and cosmetics? 

Or let's think about pancreatic cancer.  This is my "sword" dangling over my head:  I've lost an aunt, an uncle and a great uncle to this killer that rarely gives a sign until it is too late-way too late. Or stomach cancer?  I lost an aunt to that and a co-worker just lost someone he knew to that.  The list can go on and on for a long time.

I've rambled on enough, but I want to make one more plea. 

Stop the pink.  We need to fight cancer.
Cancer.  Not one type of cancer.  All cancer.  Now.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Life as a Tapestry

Someone gave me a quote from a person by the name of Robin Ryan:

"If you want your life to be a magnificent story, realize you are the author.  Each day you have the opportunity to write a new page."

I've also read comparisons of life to a tapestry, where you are a weaver.

Either way....

I have enough of life now where I can feel (some days) an attempt to stay in a comfort zone, a rut, if you will.  That is why I blog, and sometimes force myself to go to places to learn, to experience.  But other days, the joy of discovery wakes me up and I see a blog post in every experience.

I've been trying to avoid the "I did this, I did that, nice thing coming up in Ithaca" type of entries recently.  So if I don't seem to be posting as much as I have sometimes in the past, forgive me. 

I want to keep writing my book.

And I promise to put in some of the posts I've promised to make the near future.  How's that?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rainy Days and Fridays

As dawn will come soon, I'll soon know what all the rain I heard coming down overnight has done.  Already I know from the internet that there is local flooding.

As of late afternoon, at our house, I know over 6 inches had come down.  We don't have a rain gauge anymore.  My son's mobile home has some water coming in.

When the sun rises, the full extent of damage will be visible.

NOW, rain, rain, will you go away?  But do come back one of these days.  Just not right away.