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Exploring the Beauty of Ohio and Beyond...

Am I to Follow?

13x19 in 18x24 mat, framed.

Most of the time my blogs circle around in my mind for days before I write them, but with this one, only a few lines were coming up, so I guess I'll just starting writing. I've hinted at procedures and surgeries, I've told some of you in person, and I think some of you have put two and two together and guessed what's going on. First, while I will not have scans till sometime in the new year, my oncologist, who is also my surgeon, was pleased with what she found during the examination she did while I was under anesthesia. We still believe my tumors are responding to the treatment of Keytruda and Lenvima and are moving forward under that assumption.

Moving forward...that is what all these procedures and surgeries have been about. I've been basically stuck at home, with a few exceptions since June. For much of the last 3 months, I've been stuck in my recliner downstairs close to the bathroom. I have found new empathy for those that struggle with endless hours of pain in the bathroom caused by Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis, IBS, and the other myriad of bowel disorders that exist. Whether my problems were caused by the radiation, the cancer medications, or the tumor growing then shrinking, it left me with essentially one decision to move forward. But I was left with the decision whether to make it public. I've come to realize, if models can show them off dressed in a bikini than I can say it...the surgery at the beginning of December was to put in a colostomy, which in all likelihood is permanent. I feel I'm rather fortunate in that mine left me with the ability to absorb nutrients and while I need to go a little slowly reintroducing foods, I should be able to eat almost anything. I've had some frustrating days with it since the surgery and it will take several months to truly get used to it, but I already feel like myself.

There is one another snag, though. I had the colostomy surgery scheduled for October, but in about mid-September, another problem developed. I had to get nephrostomy tubes (kidney drainage). I will leave you to Google that if you want more information, but please know my kidneys are basically fine. One has a bit of hydronephrosis (retention of fluid) but is functioning fine. While most of the time these are put in for kidney stones or something pressing on the kidney (like during pregnancy), mine were put in for reasons "down the pipe" so to speak. These, in many ways, are harder to live with than the colostomy. I must be somewhat vigilant that I don't displace them and the slightest tug on the tubes pulls on the stitches that secure them and that REALLY HURTS! Not to mention, the dressings can realistically only go about 4 days before they start causing irritation and I must have Jim change them because they are on my back. I think one of the most frustrating things is you can only shower with these (I was a bath person) and you cannot swim or use hot tubs. On top of that, there is much less support for living with these than there is for colostomies, probably because they are usually temporary. I might have them for the rest of my life, but there is a small hope that after the cancer is cleared up, they may be able to offer an alternative. This procedure has been around since the 1950s and the problem solver in me thinks that in the twenty-first century we really ought to have a better solution than drilling holes from the outside into the kidneys, but maybe I watch too much science fiction.

Despite all these procedures,  surgery, and new things my body must deal with (but also because of them)  I've started to feel more like my old self. I think am driving Jim crazy with projects around the house that gone undone for most of this year because I've lacked the energy, both physically and mentally. Covid-19 still puts a limit on a lot of future plans, but I am looking forward to the vaccine and even more freedom. As it is, I definitely see photography day trips coming back into my life soon and longer trips in the future once Covid-19 is contained. Now that I am starting to feel like my old self, I am eager to create new work. I know there will be new challenges, but I miss the feeling of the camera in my hands and nothing but the sky above me, the landscape before me, the open road behind me, and only God beside me. I've already made one afternoon "shoot from the SUV" trip around Hoover Dam. If you follow me on Facebook, I just posted it Sunday evening.

This year has been so hard on everyone, and doubly hard on those of us dealing with a disease that requires regular treatments. But we have been blessed this year in many ways. We were both able to keep our jobs. Our respective employers are doing fine, and both have been so understanding and accommodating. I turned my focus to sharing and selling my photography and am ending the year a guest resident artist at 3060 Gallery (formerly 3060 ARTWORKs) through at least March. My work no longer sets under my dining room table between shows but is getting into people's homes.

We have all hung a lot of hopes on 2021. The vaccine is the first sign that maybe 2021 won't be quite as bad. We are growing weary, but we need to remember to keep doing our part and to also be kind. You never know what a person is going through. Remember that people often can't physically see many of their family members and friends. They might have loved ones in the hospital or nursing home that they cannot visit. They may have children struggling with remote learning. They may have just worked a double shift because their co-worker(s) have Covid-19. They might have just lost their job. They might look healthy but be struggling with an invisible disease. They might have just lost someone they love.

As I'm writing this, knowing that it's going to posted on New Year’s Eve, Auld Lang Syne keeps running through my head, so I think I will end with that. I'm not sure we will ever look back on 2020 with the nostalgia that this song implies, but it will be remembered, like any year, for all that we experienced, good, bad, awful, personally, nationally, and globally.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

About the photos below...I am still looking to clear out my existing photos to bring some new works out of my digital portfolio and onto the gallery walls. These are all still available at 3060 Gallery.

Through January 31, the matted prints will remain at 50% off their sale prices. 8x10 $5, 11x14 $12.50, 16x20 $27.50, 18x24 $47.50. My in-stock framed prints have new pricing. 11x14 $55, 16x20 $175, 18x24 $275. The Ohio metal prints remain at their original price of $225.

To the best of my knowledge, all photos are still in stock as of 12/31/2020, and prices only apply to in-stock work. Prices will be higher on new work (both matted and framed) added to the gallery in 2021. Custom orders can always be taken - see my purchase page

Purchasing my work not only supports my art but the gallery and the local resident artists as well. I am blessed to be part of such a wonderful group of artists.

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