August 18, 2017 Bend, Oregon

My Backyard or the View From My Door
My Backyard or the View From My Door

Heading to Portland and Hospital Wildlife

Just a quick post to let you know I’m still around.

Today I make the 175 mile trip to Portland for my first visit with the myeloma specialists at the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute Center for Hematological Malignancies Clinic. That’s a mouthful. Yesterday I started my fourth round of chemo here in Bend and my oncologist figures that with the continued good results that perhaps the process can be speeded up a bit and so the referral to OHSU and the specialists to see where, and how quickly, to go from here.

Blood work now shows that my kidney function, that was dangerously close to needing dialysis in May, has now returned to completely normal function and most other indicators show me nearing remission. Of course, that is great news, but the worst part of this, mentally, is knowing that no matter how great this rapid positive response has been, in the back, make that the front, of my mind, I know that this disease always makes a return. Quality of treatment can make that wait for the return a bit longer, but this thing always comes back. Knowing that both of my parents survived into their nineties, and that I have never been sick in my adult life, I always assumed I had another 15 or 20 good years left. Hard to adjust to hoping to survive for five or hopefully a little more years, and that only made possible with continued, and very expensive treatment and drugs. This for a person that has never taken any kind of drugs or medicine , ever.

All right, enough for the kind of post I said I didn’t ever want to write.

Hospital Wildlife

Really not much happening for me here in Bend. The hot 90’s weather has continued on unabated and some days it does get a little smoky from forest fires in the region, but not too bad. And the temps do always drop to 60 or less every night plus the humidity must be very low, because the heat just doesn’t seem that unbearable. not like down south, or even back in New Hampshire when it reached the 90’s there.

Had an interesting experience here on the hospital loop road’s camping spot Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM when I opened the motorhome door and let Sam out to go. I am now in a space with no other rigs on my passenger side, just an expanse of lush mowed grass ( that’s the reason for the strange opening photo above ), and as Sam hopped down the steps, I saw a young Mulie buck lift his head from his early morning grazing and stare at this possible nearby threat. He was no more than twenty feet from where I stood in the doorway and must have figured that ten pound Sam wasn’t anything to be terribly concerned with ( since Sam never even realized he was there ) and that I also wasn’t going to be bothering him, so he simply stood his ground and resumed grazing. Adjusting my eyes to the darkness, I then noticed that he was not alone, two other young bucks were also nibbling grass or clover within 50 or 60 feet of door.

Made some coffee and sat in my recliner gazing out the window in this same direction, as I do every morning, and I noticed yet more deer grazing through the same area, including one very impressive older buck with an antler spread of two feet or more that rose at least eighteen inches or more above his head. Unfortunately too dark to photograph or count points but definitely one of the most impressive Mule Deer bucks I have encountered at such close range. In all, this in-city bachelor herd numbered seven or eight animals and lingered around for close to half an hour under the street lamps before heading across the road, not into the surrounding apartment complexes, but into the hospital’s expansive parking lots and towards the main hospital buildings. Amazing what goes on in the early morning hours, even here in the city.

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July 30, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Balloons Over Bend Festival

Until I saw them coming my way during my daily walk around the hospital loop road, I was unaware that this weekend Bend was celebrating it’s annual Balloons Over Bend Hot Air Balloon Festival. Since recovering my energy several weeks ago, I make it a habit to walk the roughly one mile long perimeter loop road of the St. Charles Hospital every morning before the traffic rolls in, so I am out there around 6 or 7AM daily … and that, of course, just happens to be the same time that balloonists favor for their flights.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

This morning, as I was just approaching home, I watched as the pilot of this balloon carefully set down on the paved parking lot amongst several tall street lamps, just across from where I am camped on the hospital’s loop road. As I walked by, the chase team arrived and as they were hauling out the protective tarp to collapse the balloon on, I hurried the short distance to the motorhome to grab my camera for some shots and managed to get this one of the balloon just as it was being deflated.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

A little later, another balloon came along the same route, but this one continued on across the hospital campus to the north.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Two more balloons show up after coming over the top of Pilot Butte.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

As you can see from the image above, the hospital camping area had a front row seat for the show this particular morning. Note the non-interested spectator ( Sam ) in the motorhome, keeping an eye on Dad, not terribly interested in the balloon activity.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Another Way to View Balloons Over Bend
Another Way to View Balloons Over Bend

There were others getting a very close, and I imagine, a very interesting perspective on the activities.

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

 

Balloons Over Bend
Balloons Over Bend

Another Completed Acrylic Painting

"Maine Harbor Reflections" 18'" x 18" Acrylic
“Maine Harbor Reflections” 18′” x 18″ Acrylic

This makes three completed paintings since I have been waiting out my treatment schedule. Learning a little bit more about these acrylic paints with each completed painting and may eventually get the hang of how to use them.

Nothing much new to report on the health front. Chemo continues and results are all going in the right direction. My oncologist has set up a referral for me to go to Portland and meet with the specialists who will do the transplant procedure ( if that is the way they recommend going ) sometime in the next week or so. He also wants their input on perhaps truncating my chemo regiment since I have had such a rapid positive response so far. This means I may get this over with a little sooner than originally expected.

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July 20, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Denali Caribou Acrylic on Canvas 18" x 24"
Denali Caribou Acrylic on Canvas 18″ x 24″

New Acrylic Painting

I managed to complete a second acrylic painting this week and am sort of pleased with the result, although there still is a lot of room for improvement. Spent the better part of week painting and repainting the foreground and finally left this version since I want to move on to another subject. If interested, you can right click on the image and see a larger version of the painting.

When I was doing watercolors several years ago, I always struggled with foregrounds and I guess that will not be changing now with acrylics. The one obvious advantage of working with acrylics rather than watercolor is that you can paint over your mistakes and try again, not so with watercolor. This scene is a composite of two photos I took in Denali National Park two summers ago. The caribou, the most magnificent specimen I have ever seen, I encountered on the road into the Teklanika Campground where I was camping. The mountain in the background, of course, is Mount McKinley, as viewed from the park road halfway into the Park.

I may well redo the foreground for the about the tenth time at some point in the future when I have a better handle on exactly how to handle these ( new to me ) acrylic paints, but for now, I will call this done and move on to my next painting, a couple of Great Egrets in breeding colors, involved in an aerial territorial dispute.

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July 10, 2017, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

I had been waiting quite a while to revisit Crater Lake National Park here in Oregon, located about 100 miles south of Bend, where I am currently staying. First visited way back in 1993 on a month long excursion up the west coast, I had been wanting to return since the loop road around the lake had been closed due to snow on my first trip up there.

What's Left of 548 Inches of Snow
What’s Left of 548 Inches of Snow

So, sitting here in the Saint Charles Hospital camping area, I have been online checking the road conditions in the park for the past two months, waiting for the all clear before doing the 200 mile round trip. The park’s website said that the north entrance road would finally be open around the 6th of July, so I waited until the Monday after the holiday week to make the trip.

I read somewhere that the park received more than 548 inches of snow this winter, a little more than normal, thus the later than usual opening of the north entrance road, the south entrance, I believe, is always kept open.

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

The loop road was still partially closed, only 9 miles on the northern end of the lake was open to traffic. If planning a trip here this summer, or actually anytime in the next three years, be aware that there are some pretty long construction delays you will encounter due to heavy road work scheduled over that period.

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

The lake has some of the purest water found anywhere, being fed entirely by rain and snowfall only, no rivers or streams enter the lake.

Crater Lake, That's Water, Not Sky Behind the Rocks
Crater Lake, That’s Water, Not Sky Behind the Rocks

You pretty much have to see it to believe it, the blue of the water is something to behold, due to water clarity and extreme depths, this is also the deepest lake in North America. The shot above is taken looking down on that rock formation and that is the lake in the background, not the sky. I have experienced nothing but blue sky days like this every day for the past six weeks, no clouds, no rain, just sun and blue skies every day. Boring, but beautiful.

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park
Pollen Patterns, Crater Lake National Park

Surrounded by coniferous forests, the surface of the lake today was just covered by pollen in places along the north shore.

Nothing new to report on the health front, now in my third four week round  of chemo and still suffering no side affects with weekly test results still running very positive, leaving me more optimistic about the future every week. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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