Tuesday, September 27

Winter Abortion Alternatives and Pro Life Activities in Aiken County, SC

The following contains information regarding Pro Life Activities in the Aiken County, South Carolina area for Winter 2016/17.

Aiken Life Chain 
Christian Witness and Prayer
Sunday Oct. 2, 2016   2:45 - 4 pm.
Christ's Way Christian Church, 183 Old Wagener Road. 803.643.1834

Life Choices
Total pregnancy care and support after delivery, including ultrasounds.
220 Silver Bluff Road, Aiken, SC
4629 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Clearwater, SC

Aiken Co. Pro Life Fair Booth
Educational resources and speakers.
October 20 - 29, 2016 
1566 Columbia Hwy N  (Hwy. 1) at May Royal
803.295.7897    Looking for Volunteers as well!

SC Citizens for Life / Stand Up for Life Rally
Educational and legislative pro-life action.
Saturday, January 14, 2017,  11:00 a.m

National Right to Life   /  March for Life
Washington, DC
January 22, 2017
Bus Trips available, 803.252.5433

Tuesday, June 21

SCDNR Modeling to Calculate Surface Water Quantity on the Edisto River

 Pictured (l - r):  Chris Padgett (F.R.E.D.) and Alex Pellett (SCDNR)

Alex Pellett and Joe Gellici, with South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s hydrology section (SCDNR) presented updates on the Edisto River, followed by a Q & A session at the recent Blackwater Festival at Aiken State Park.  I caught up with Alex before the event and bombarded him with some important questions about the status of our endangered river.

 Blackwater Festival 2016, Aiken State Park

Alex is with the Hydrology section of the DNR and has been there only one or two years.  He was eagerly looking for his set-up point at the park while I jogged beside him to chat.  He and Joe Gellici, also with SCDNR, would be informing us Edisto River lovers about the modeling they've been doing regarding the Edisto Basin.

 On the Canoe Trail at Aiken State Park when the water is high.

On the Canoe Trail at Aiken State Park when the water is low.

 "There's computational analyses," he began as we walked to the pavilion.  "We've got gauge data that the USGS collects at 14 spots on the river."  Pellet came on board the DNR to help figure out how to utilize that data, a very tricky endeavor.  Some gauges have shorter records than others, so data analyses have to include other records to extend the short record stations.

SCDNR needs to scientifically figure out what the natural flow of the Edisto River would be.  In perfect circumstances.  And in today's circumstances.  A lot of these gauges are located in places where human withdrawals and various impediments affect the natural flow.  SCDNR has to smooth out those affects.  "We've got some of that data when people recorded what they were taking out of those streams,  and we want to find out what the flow would have been if they weren’t doing that.   That’s our natural flow regime.  We call that the 'Unimpaired Flow.'  And we extend that in time  using the other gauges we have.  We can only go back as far as the first gauge in the basin."

And then there's the next step and this is where it gets more challenging.

Pellett continued, "What would the flow be at other places in the Basin?  Because when someone wants to put in a new withdrawal on a stream, what if that stream doesn’t have a gauge on it?   How do we know how much water they can take without depleting the natural resource?"

SCDNR is attempting to address that by providing sound science for the public, legislators and regulators to use when making those decisions.  "We're just trying to provide the information," said Pellett.   “There’s not going to be a one-stop-shop for how much water is in the basin.  It’s a complicated question and we are working to develop a reliable, reputable method to get to the answer.  The Edisto in particular has some dynamics that we’re not quite catching with the model.  It has something to do with the Sandhills and the lower Coastal Plain.”

So I asked, of course, is this something DNR started doing after the water regulation was questioned?  Meaning, after the potato farms started eyeballing the Edisto.

And that's when Joe Gellici popped in.  Modeling and data gathering was not primarily started after the potato farm issue.  “We were doing it before the potato farm issue.”  Gellici said.  "Data  collection is an on-going process with the state and actually the idea of doing the models originated 4-5 years ago ( 2011- 2012)  and we got it started about 2 years ago (2014).  It really didn’t have much to do with the potato farm.  FRED has been an active participant in getting publicity.  I’ve seen them at the stakeholder meetings."  And then he added, "We’ll take all the help we can get.”

After the historic SC Flooding, I saw the river at 9.5 feet at Aiken State Park, the highest I've ever seen it there.  It flooded the canoe put-in dock, it was wonderful.

Lower levels, below, taking some Charlotteans for a paddle:

Senator Nikki Setzler also spoke with me prior to the Blackwater Festival.  Setzler has been working with FRED and other Edisto River interested parties right from the beginning.  He chairs the sub-committee of senate finance that funds the DNR and he works very closely with DNR, giving him an extra insight into it all.

“We need to protect our natural resources and we particularly need to protect these rivers," Setzler said.  "I’ve been a supporter of the Edisto River and I’m here to continue to do whatever I can to help support the Edisto River.  We’ve gone out of session until January, but I think we are going to look at the water studies to see about the levels of the water and what can be withdrawn etc., dealing with the large farms."  Setzler and Representative Bill Taylor have worked tirelessly to help the Edisto River. 

Aiken State Park had suffered tremendous damage from a storm that passed through the day before the Blackwater Festival. 

Craig's Tree Service out of Warrenville was helping with park clean-up in other areas of the park.

 Isn't he cute up there?  I was so glad I had my 300mm lens.

Sunday, June 12

MPN Research Foundation and Voices of MPN Dinners for Patients and Care Givers

I visited Greenville, SC this past week for a few days, the purpose of which was to attend an MPN Research Foundation Dinner and learn more about my Polycythemia Vera symptom treatments and research progression, but I found Greenville to be a wonderful mini-vacation town.  I encourage you to visit the town for a few days, especially the Falls Park at Reedy Creek and the Main Street strip (just don't eat at the Japanese Hibachi place)  (and DO stop in at Jerky & Vine to get some grass-fed, nitrate free flavored jerky).  That's the limit of travel info. in this post.

Back to the MPN and PV discussion.....

First, if you are newly diagnosed with an MPN (Myeloproliferative Neoplasm), a rare type of blood cancer that comes in four types:  ET (Essential Thrombocythemia), PV, MF (Myelofibrosis) and CLL (Chronic Leukemia) and looking for information, check out the MPN Research Foundation site.  It is an awesome launching pad for this disease.

Incyte's Voices of MPN sponsored this FREE dinner -- and more across the states -- with Sandy Allen-Bard, MSN, NPc, ANCC, AOCNP from Cornell NYC giving the presentation in Q&A format.  I wish I had taken some family members with me so they could learn about the disease. Several others in the group seemed to learn a lot and I'm sure we all appreciated being there.  The "dinner" was just sandwiches and chips, so if you go, don't go hungry.   Look for an MPN event near you.

This dinner gave me an opportunity to speak to an MPN expert face-to-face as well as other patients with the disease.  It gave care-givers an opportunity to do the same as well as to talk to other care-givers.  And?  Of course we got swag.

Primarily, at this dinner, I was seeking advice on questions I should be asking my doctor.  This disease is so rare that most hem/onc doctors don't know much about it and have very little experience treating it.  Upon diagnosis, I knew instantly I had to be my own advocate and really push my doctor and his staff. I had a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in FL and a third opinion at Duke with a doctor that specializes in MPNs.  I intend to return to Duke every three years to compare notes, learn more about ground breaking research and clinical trials -- things my doctor isn't aware of. 

Voices of MPN is another comprehensive informative site.  I believe this site is owned by Incyte Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, so beware they have a financial interest.  But it's still a great site.  Voices of MPN is more people-oriented while the MPN Research Foundation is more disease oriented.  Voices of MPN shares patient stories and fosters a sense of community and support groups.

I'm curious what the others thought about the dinner.  For me, it was very basic.  If I had paid money for it, beyond the travel cost, I'd have been dismayed.  I thought it would go deeper.  However, if I had taken family members who know nothing about this disorder, I'd have been very, very happy with it.  I would love to see more of these events with two or more different "classes" for different levels of patients.  Voices of MPN encourages patients to share their stories and connect and at this dinner, we definitely did that.  Prior to this dinner, I had never talked with anyone else who has this disorder.  I am very grateful for that.

The information on this blog is not a substitute for a visit or a consultation with a healthcare provider.

Friday, April 8

Strawberry Picking in SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers kicked off the strawberry season at James R. Sease Farms in Gilbert, SC with the first “official” pick this morning. Spring has sprung in South Carolina and it’s primetime for everyone’s favorite treat: farm fresh strawberries.
South Carolina is home to over 40 strawberry farms offering both “U-pick” experiences, as well as pre-picked berries. Spartanburg County leads the state in strawberry acreage, followed by Lexington County.
“Getting out to the farm is a great way to show support for South Carolina farmers after the very challenging year they faced in 2015,” said Commissioner Weathers. “It’s also a great opportunity to meet the people growing nutritious food for your family, all while enjoying fresh, local fruits and vegetables.”
Strawberry farms are open April through May, but visitors should check the farm’s Facebook page or website for specific opening dates, hours of operation and directions. For a full listing of strawberry farms, visit scfarmfun.org.
SC Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers picks the first strawberries of the season at James R. Sease Farms in Gilbert.

 Editor's Note:  This is the same place I pick strawberries each year.  Great location.

Thursday, April 7

Minimalism: Grocery Consumption. Tips on Minimalist Living

When my kids grew up and moved out, I began to think about downsizing, which led to a surprising discovery that I was part of a burgeoning reinvention of a "minimalism movement" and I wasn't very unique at all.  (Stories of other minimalists. Ways to ease into minimalism.)

I began with the Tiny House Movement and built a 750 square foot apartment in my husband's enormous shop on our property in which I could live.  Unfortunately, I quit blogging in March of 2014 so I could devote my spare time to salvaging the un-salvageable and I did not document my journey into minimalism.

After a tumultuous year in my new habitat, I am loving it! 

Basically, I want to own less, maintain less, consume less, spend less.... you get the picture.   One day I decided I want to go grocery shopping less.  Thanks to my local high school FFA, I have my cucumbers, squash and maters started, I'm not talking about producing my own food though.  I mean this:  Use what I have.  See how long I can live without purchasing groceries.

I challenged myself to empty my fridge, freezer and cabinets without purchasing more stuff.

I'm now down to some weird stuff, probably stuff you'd imagine:  a whole box of white rice, a bottle of Lupo's Spiedie Sauce and no meat for it, peanut butter, bread crumbs, a few eggs.

Today's creative meal was so good,
I have to share:

Ignore the hotdog in the very old bun.  Although it was good. (Applegate Farm's organic, nitrate-free, grass fed,etc.)

This is the good stuff:  I made some minute rice and topped it with sauteed onions, green beans and broccoli. (with Happy Cow butter) The best part:  I sprinkled half a lime and half a lemon over it and that turned it into something crazy good.

It's the small things that make life so grand.
Live Small.

Tuesday, April 5

Rock Climbing in Ireland

End of post contains travel info.

While traveling in Ireland, if hiking, rock climbing or mountaineering is your thing, get in touch with the awesome people at the NUIG Mountaineering Club.  The Club membership is limited to students, alumni, staff, etc. of NUI Galway, but they'll give you good advice and let you hang a little.

So I found a few of them climbing up a rock face, smooth like a baby's bottom, on Day Four of my drive around Ireland.

I was headed up the Wild Atlantic Way from Doolin towards Galway, having just dropped my jaw where the choppy shoreline meets the dry, hard and deserted Burren. (more on that in a later post)

I laughed out loud at my Irish luck, and with windows down, music up, I screeched to a stop and fell out of the car with my 300mm around my neck, pulling me like a dog on a leash.  I used a rock like the one above as a tripod and took pictures of other people having a GREAT time, off the couch, away from electronics, in the wild outdoors of Ireland.  They smiled at me and I smiled at them, they waved at me and I waved at them and we were all so doggone happy.

The guys told me they were with NUIG and later told me that this area is called Ballyryan and is situated between two villages, Fanore (to the North) and Doolin (to the South.)

They went up...

 ... stretched...
 ... and went back down.....