September 14, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Sunrise, the Palouse, Washington (24" x 16" Acrylic on linen)
Sunrise, the Palouse, Washington (24″ x 16″ Acrylic on linen)

Still Just Killing Time in Bend

Yesterday was the start of Round Five of my chemo treatments, just one more round to go after this one and maybe I will be able to hit the road again by the end of October and head south for the desert, since Florida and the coast of Texas are now out. I had planned on returning to Rockport, Texas and Goose Island State Park, one of my favorite winter stays, where I  spend my time shooting Whooping Cranes and other birds, but I’m sure the hurricane has made this and  all of my favorite stops along the Texas coast ( such as the beach at Aransas Pass ) something I need to pass on this winter.

So, not sure where I may head but am sure I will eventually end up going back to the BLM areas around Yuma and then maybe on to Tucson, an area I have only visited once before and that was back before retiring, so I didn’t get to explore that area thoroughly.

Am continuing my attempts at acrylics and just finished the painting of the Palouse in spring, as seen from the top of Steptoe Butte. As you can see from the photo of that painting at the top of this post ( you can right click on it to see a larger version ), it didn’t come out too bad, every painting presents me with an opportunity to learn a bit more about these acrylics and this one was no exception. Am beginning to figure out how to blend a little better with these paints as there was a lot of blending to be done on this painting. One of the nice things about staying here at the Family Stay Area at Saint Charles Hospital is the free Wifi signal from the hospital. Not having to worry about my $10/GB Verizon signal, I have discovered  a ton of uTube videos on acrylic painting lessons, and, while most are not all that great, mostly because I am looking for realistic painting styles, there are several that have been quite helpful.

Having little else to do to combat boredom here, I am grateful to have resumed this intense interest in the challenge of learning how to master these acrylic paints. I have to stay here to have these continuing chemo treatments but the treatments themselves, including blood draw, oncologist visit, and infusion treatment for the one drug that is administered via injection, takes only about an hour and a half one day a week. That leaves me with most of the treatment day and all of the other six days to find something to do. Bend is a very nice little city with wonderful surrounding mountains to the west, but extensive forest fires have raged in the area all summer and smoke is everywhere, leaving me with what would have been a debilitating case of cabin fever if not for this resurrected interest in painting. It seems odd to not be out photographing birds and other wildlife after doing so almost every day for the past 4 plus years, but the only use my photo gear gets these days is to take a shot of my latest painting to post on this blog.

But it now does appear that I will be able resume travel, and wildlife photography sometime before winter, and for that I am grateful.

Myeloma Update

Not being able to come up with a “caregiver ” to assist me for a couple of weeks after the hospital stay for a bone marrow transplant has left me ineligible for that transplant procedure, the best hope for an extended period of remission for this relentless disease. However, my oncologist continues to insist that he has never been completely sure that a transplant would be best for me anyhow, saying I may have an equally decent chance of remaining in remission for at least a couple of years or more on a maintenance drug routine. With or without a transplant, this cancer always returns, it is just a matter of how long one can stay in remission and thus off the most powerful drugs ( that eventually take a toll on the body ) that gives you the best chance at a longer survival and a better quality of life living with the disease.

Every thing I read, and he agrees, at this time says that the transplant procedure is the first line of defense in terms of length of remission. However the procedure is no walk in the park and there are some, though still relatively small risks of complications that can be life threatening. Recovery from the transplant can take from a couple of months if you are are lucky, to as much as a year, it varies greatly from patient to patient. And often there are lingering problems from the procedure that never go away such as loss of taste or continuing  fatigue. He points out that some recent studies have shown that the difference in length of time in remission between transplant patients and those going on a maintenance drug regiment only is just a matter of nine months to a year. Since the procedure  essentially robs you of the first three to as much as twelve months of that first year of remission, some oncologists are beginning to lean towards no transplants for some patients, especially for those that have had a robust positive response to their initial drug therapy. And, of course, that is a category I happen to fit in.

After reviewing blood work test results, in yesterday’s conversations with him, my oncologist says he remains amazed at the continuing strong  positive results of this treatment plan. He says everything looks good and progress continues to be made in all realms to getting this thing into remission. He definitely plans to finish up this course of treatment after one final, sixth round and switch me over to an oral maintenance regimen, at which time I can leave the area and resume my travels. I will be required to have monthly blood tests at a hospital or medical facility wherever I happen to be, with the results emailed to him so he can monitor my progress and be able to make whatever changes to the regimen  that may be required. As long as I can be reached via email, he has no problem with my being off wandering anywhere and he will be able to keep up with me via email. He states that he would anticipate no new problems arising during the first two or maybe three years ( with no guarantees of course ) and that when new problems do arise, he says at current, there are eight or nine alternate drug cocktails that can be implemented to get the disease back under control.

But, and this he is most optimistic about, there are so many new, almost daily, updates on treatment and even possible cures for this cancer, that as long as a patient is able to remain alive, there are new ways of combating this coming down the pipeline, the most encouraging, being new T-cell therapy. So, of course, I had to go on the internet and Google T-cell therapy. The links below are a couple of results of this search, interesting reading if you have the desire to do so ( and it spares us from having me attempt to describe exactly what this is all about ),

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/research/car-t-cells

and

https://www.seattlecca.org/treatments/immunotherapy/immunotherapy-facts/t-cell-therapies

Guess that’s about it for now. Weather here has begun to moderate and turn toward cooler autumn temps, actually is quite comfortable today and is supposed to drop to forty degrees tonight, my kind of weather, still patchy smoke from the fires though.

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May 4, 2015 The Palouse, Washington

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

Greeting the Sun Atop Steptoe Butte

Well, I was up early enough to make it to the top of Steptoe Butte on time this morning after missing it yesterday morning. Yesterday, I got distracted at home working on the computer, processing images and doing posts from my time at Malheur NWR, and didn’t realize how early the sun came up, and, therfore missed the optimum few minutes of morning light.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version ( and be sure you do ! ).

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

No narrative today, the images say it all for me, just a wonderful place to be at 5:30 in the morning!

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

I hope some year to make a trip here in June when the fields are all covered with greens and yellows of maturing crops. At this time, probably more than half the fields are bare earth, looks like most of that has been freshly seeded but nothing has sprouted yet. Still absolutely stunning to view, but I do believe it gets even better a little later in the summer.

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

For the very first time that I have experienced it, there was no wind blowing on Steptoe Butte this morning, thus I was able to get these shots with flowers in the foreground. Every other time I have been up here, the wind has been howling, and these foreground grasses and flowers would have just been a windblown blur. Some mornings, the rocks probably were moving a bit also, you really are exposed up here.

The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise
The Palouse From Steptoe Butte at Sunrise

Future Posts ?

I just want to alert followers that there might be an interruption in my posts over the next few days, or weeks, as I cross over the border into Canada, on my way north to Alaska.

To avoid excessive fees, I must disable my Verizon Jetpac when I cross over, so I am just not sure what my WiFi situation will be and thus I’m not sure how my posting will go. I have been told that I should be able to visit most Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Public Libraries, etc., and be able to pick up an internet signal on my new laptop I bought for this purpose, and thus, should be able to continue doing posts, although on a somewhat reduced schedule. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all works out. I have no doubt that the opportunities for wonderful landscapes and wildlife shots will be abundant. How quickly I can get them onto posts remains unclear at this time, so please be patient and bear with me ( pun intended, get it ? ).

 

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May 3, 2015 The Palouse, Washington

Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse

The Palouse, a New Season

I went out of my way last fall to visit here after seeing many spectacular images that were taken in this area. ( To see how this place looked last fall when I first visited, click here, and here ) I am kind of doing the same thing this spring while on my way to Alaska.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and please be sure to do so, the detail in some of these shots shouldn’t be missed.

Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse

Viewed from Steptoe Butte, there probably are few places on Earth more beautiful than the undulating hills of the Palouse, when, for about 20 – 30 minutes each morning,  the sun rises,  the shadows slowly roll across the farmland, and the colors come to life.

Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse

Not too much need for dialog here, this is a very special place. I actually got going a little too late this morning to catch the best of the light, I’ll do better tomorrow.

Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse
Sunrise, Palouse

Patterns and texture. Quite the change of pace after shooting birds at Malheur for the last  couple of weeks.

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October 2, 2014 Colfax, Washington

A touch of green
A touch of green

A Touch of Green Appears

Took an early morning drive east and south and circled back to Route 195 just above Pullman, then proceeded to do the back roads below where I explored yesterday.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Roosting pheasants
Roosting pheasants

I noticed some some large birds roosting in a dead tree not far from the road as I drove south. By the time I turned around, changed lenses and reset camera settings, the colorful and wary male pheasant had flown the coup, but these females, or maybe this year’s young, stayed long enough for this shot. Got to get that second camera body soon.

A touch of green
A touch of green
A touch of green
A touch of green

I did get a few shots of some new fresh green shoots on Clear Creek Road on my way back to Colfax. Perfect clear blue skies today, but I prefer the dramatic clouds of the last few days for taking photos, but can’t complain at all about the wonderful overall weather here in the Palouse over my 10 days here.

Blue sky abstract
Curves

I have pretty much made up my mind to head south into Idaho tomorrow, so loaded up the Prius and packed up for an early start tomorrow morning.

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