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February 27, 2011


One downside of growing up in California is all the sun on the skin! And, of course, for people like me that lived at the beach as much as possible, and who liked getting tan, and who also sunburned while getting tan, and who would lie on the beach for hours if time allowed, the consequences are probable skin problems later in life. I guess that means now. Over the years I've had a variety of red lumps and bumps that I have checked out with a wonderful dermatologist in Bellingham. Then he retired half time. The next time I went, he was off celebrating his new freedom and I saw his new partner who was a cocky and obnoxious young man both to me and a show-off to his nurse. I absolutely couldn't stand him. I could see him salivating when he did a biopsy on a little red spot on my face. As soon as I found out it was nothing, I never went back. This took me through a series of other docs -- none of whom were very special and none that I liked especially. After checking with many friends, this seems the state of dermatology in Bellingham. Ok, but not great.

A few weeks ago, my family doc thought I should go back to a dermatologist because I had what was probably a precancerous spot on my face and some other kinds of discolored skin which came from sun damage. She gave me a recommendation in Mt. Vernon but the regular doc was full and I chose not to see the assistant. I decided to call a doctor that my friend, Millie, had just seen and thought was really good although without any kind of bedside manner. I got in and he took about four biopsies from different places on my face and leg. He was pleasant enough and careful about explaining what and why he was doing the biopsies. I was scheduled to go back to him after hearing from the nurse that one was indeed a rather small Squamous cell cancer and the rest mostly skin damage. When I looked up the phone number on the web to make an appointment for treatment, there was the name of my old beloved dermatologist on the list. Egad! I realized that I had gone back to his partner - the cocky, obnoxious dermatologist from Hell! I knew he looked a bit familiar, but after all, it had been at least 15 years since my first visit. I went back for treatment and met his regular nurse who was absolutely wonderful and knowledgeable. Then he came in and took care of the cancerous lesion and gave me some cream for the other. He was pleasant, earnest, took time to explain, listened to what I wanted, and certainly did have a bedside manner.

The only thing that I can figure is that he has grown up from a cocky and obnoxious young doc to a more mature and gentle person. I'm glad that I could let go of the previous image. I might be able to attribute his growth to my beloved dermatologist who took him under his wing. I asked why he was still on the website and found he retired for good a few years ago and they were waiting to change the website because they were moving soon. It is a good feeling to change your mind about a person, to let a grudge go into the wind, and to find a new doc that you really like with a really smashing nurse! Altogether a lovely experience!

Posted by Marilyn at 9:57 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2011

February Snows

It's so strange that people in Bellingham (who are looking forward to spring) seem surprised that it is snowing this week since Presidents' Day is in February and we always expected to have lots and lots of snow at Whistler on our annual trek. It's also strange that snow seems to be such a big deal for such a few inches. The news is full of the advent of snow. The news begins to invade your every thought. "Is it here yet? Will it come tonight? Will school be cancelled?" I was super aware of the weather possibilities during the last two days as I traveled the 30 miles out in the county to Lynden High School to observe a counseling intern. Will I be able to go? Will I have to cancel? It was 40 degrees in Bellingham when I left on Tuesday. For those of you who do not live in this "snow obsessed environment" that means that it is above freezing! But, somewhere just past Costco, there were flurries for a few miles! There was sun behind me and sun before me - but above me was a little black cloud. There were a few splotchy patches around the school as I walked with the intern to a teacher's classroom. I went back yesterday. No flurries, but icy cold out and many more white patches here and there after a frosty night. Today, the snow finally appeared -- it snowed for a long time last night without sticking and this morning there is probably less than an inch around my house. You can measure strength of a winter storm by monitoring the school closing report. Today Bellingham School District is on delayed schedule (90 minutes late) so I got into the "snow mode" and rescheduled an appointment so that I could stay cozy warm in my house.

That brings up another snow phenomena - snow means snuggling in with a good book and making soup (I made two kinds yesterday). Dani brought the boys and dog over to eat soup and stay the night. Actually, I think they wanted to watch American Idol which they cannot get at their house because they cancelled their cable. So, I guess we had a snow party. Both Dani and Nico have a cold that makes going home to mom's house very tantalizing. Not that I do anything (except make soup) other than sit around in the middle of all the activity. Another snow tidbit (or titbit in Britain) is that Mt. Vernon Schools, 30 miles to the south, have been closed for three days. I guess they have a lot more snow than we do. And, yesterday Jeni said that Redmond Schools had a snow day without snow every materializing. It is definitely an inexact science.

I wonder what the poor midwest and northeast friends would say about our snow obsession as they dig out of their many feet of snow and many blizzards this winter. We worry about flurries and 1/2 inch. We close schools because of possibilities. They are completely buried and have had one big storm after another. Now, as child of California, I love snow. I love snow days. I still get excited over the first flurries of snow. I'm not even pining for spring. I think this comes from all the years of singing White Christmas while riding my Christmas bike or using my Christmas roller skates outside in the 70 degree weather. Winter with actual snow is the fulfillment of those years of just dreaming of that white Christmas. On the other hand, I hate to be inconvenienced. I hate slush and left over dirty ice. I do hate to walk out in the sun only to be improperly dressed for the freezing cold. I believe when the sun is in the sky, it should feel like Hermosa Beach not the north pole. I hate to wear layers and layers of clothing and never completely feel warm until I get into a hot bath. I hate go somewhere and have to carefully plan my routes instead of zipping up and over all the hills around my house.

Still and all, I do find the whole snow culture fascinating. It is big in the news, in the paper, on everyone's mind. It is bigger than who is getting cut out of American Idol. It is a measuring stick between towns and even between areas in Bellingham. Oh! It snowed at YOUR house last night? Is it snowing at Costco? Can I drive to Seattle or will I run into black ice in Mt. Vernon? It is all about possibilities. And, then it is often about missed possibilities - what ever happened to the fact that it was going to snow? Oh, shucks! You mean I have to go to school today?

Posted by Marilyn at 8:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

I cannot believe it has been way over a week since I wrote on this blog. I wonder what I did on all those days in between? I have had one of THOSE weeks -- you know the kind I mean! It is a week where some things just got out of hand -- mainly my diet. I think I ate everything in sight. Then I frittered time away unproductively for several days in a row. I'm almost through with a jigsaw puzzle though. This week began with our whole family being here on the weekend (sans Ron who was under the weather and Charles who was under the Hong Kong sky). We had more food than we could eat and lots of fun. The kids all got their late Christmas gifts from aunts and uncles and cousins. Everyone went to church on Sunday and then back here for more food. Debbie had asked me to take the choir so I was at church really early. Between the choir and the family, I was pretty exhausted on Monday. But, a good exhaustion! Of course, the star of the weekend was little Lionel who is trying his hardest to still get the tooth he has been working on for over two weeks. I think Martin and Christine were up about 5 times on Saturday night.

On Sunday evening (after the crowd had thinned), Dani and AmySue decided that they would have a Chinese New Year's celebration. Dani had brought back lots of decorations from Hong Kong. So, they decided to hold the festivities at AmySue's house and went out and got Chinese food for us to eat. The children loved it. Everyone was trying to decide what sign they were. I think I am a bull. Charles had sent some great pictures of he and friends celebrating the new year -- so we were really into it. Of course, it also added to the busyness of the weekend. I told Dani that I wasn't sure I wanted to drive all the way over to her house, but I could limp across the AmySue's.

Last night was a neighborhood meeting for our church at my house. We were talking about a book entitled, "Transforming Congregational Culture" by Tony Robinson. We had about ten here for a lively discussion which kept coming back to talking about the worship service. That seemed to be where people wanted to go -- and some had not read the book. There is a committee in the church who are looking at what a ministry culture rather than a board culture church would look like. We already have several new ministries begun -- a green team looking at resources, a diaper ministry for the community, and an active committee addressing the problem of homelessness. I think it is a testament to the health of the church that it has been alive and well all during the interim stage with a variety of pastors.

So, this is my life at the moment. Fairly boring. I spent yesterday at Lynden High School observing one of my interns. I decided to come home and treat myself to lunch at the tearoom where I found Etta and Barbara having lunch and joined them. Hooray for friends! I've been staying up late to finish my book club read for Sunday evening - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It was quite marvelous. I can hardly wait for the discussion. Here are some pictures of my beautiful new grandson.



Posted by Marilyn at 6:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 1, 2011

Old Friends and Acquaintances

One of my pet peeves about Facebook is the posting on my page of comments by friends of friends that I don't know. I don't mind seeing my friends' comments - but when THEIR friend postings (people I don't even know) show up on my page, it is annoying. I probably could fix this, but haven't bothered trying. However, when reading my Santa Barbara friend Leslie's posting, there was a comment by a Cathy Lannon. When Don and I lived in Santa Barbara, there was a really lovely person named Cathy Lannon who went to our church for about 1/2 the time we were there. Then she and her husband and children moved to Oregon. I have a picture of Cathy in my mind's eye -- standing at her kitchen counter, doing dishes, and reading. Always reading! I sort of remember her saying that it was the best time to get in some reading while raising her four (or five?) children. So, I couldn't stand it. I clicked on her name and sent a message. "Are you the same Cathy Lannon who lived in Santa Barbara, went to La Mesa Community Church, and used to read while she washed dishes?" And, by gosh, she was. That started an email conversation back and forth. They moved to Corvalis where her husband finished his PhD and both worked at the university. They bought a farm and her husband passed away around the same time as Don.

Here is a name out of my past, but one I have warm, fuzzy, feelings about. I hardly remembered what she looked like - I just remember her kindness and how lovely she was inside and out. Our church was so small (about 100 people) that everyone was like family. How much fun it was to discover her on Facebook. It is the best of networking that something like this could happen. It just makes me wonder who else is just around the corner.

It also makes me aware of how strong feelings can be that they linger for over forty years in the back of one's mind. I am enough of a right brain person that I operate more on impressions and feelings than I do on categorical data. If I walked through your house right now, I would never be able to describe what I saw when I left. But, I could describe how I felt about your home. It would take great effort for me to categorize what elements made me feel that way. I suppose I could do it if I concentrated on details, but usually I form a series of impressions. I also do that about people I meet. What were they wearing? Don't have a clue. What did they say? I might remember word for word. How did I feel about them? Very strong impressions. Do I remember their name? Probably not.

I did remember Cathy Lannon's name - but not until I saw it on Leslie's site. And, then, a rush of feelings about a long-lost, but lovely, acquaintance drove me to contact her. Isn't life strange?

Posted by Marilyn at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)