Sunday, May 24

Eosinophils and Basophils Explained in Myeloprolific Neoplasm Blood Disorder

In a previous post, I mentioned for the first time that I have polycythemia vera, which is a myeloprolific neoplasm (MPN), which is a mutant stem cell in the bone marrow that results in the overproduction of any variety/combination of blood cells. 

On of the very, very minor effects of this is pruritis - terrible itching.  If you know me, you've seen me itching like I have fleas at times and it's embarrassing sometimes and annoying all the time.  It is due to increased histamines, similar to an allergic reaction, due to increased Eosinophils and Basophils in the blood count.

This video is the best explanation I've found, so for you fellow MPN people, take a listen.  Also, allergy sufferers, this will help you understand your reactions better:  Dr. Susan Leclair.

Thursday, May 21

Canoe Trail Aiken State Park, Edisto River, South Carolina

May 2015:   Winds:  12 - 14 mph   Water Level:  7' 
South Fork of the Edisto River -  1 3/4 mile from launch to take-out dock
75 minute trip by experienced kayaker going slow

I decided I was ready for my first solo kayak trip.

I have polycythemia vera, a rare blood disorder with a twenty-year shelf life, and was coming off a normal three-day fling of fatigue.  I needed fresh air, sun, water, birds, mud and snakes.  In other words.... no humans.  I've learned that if I just roll with the fatigue when it hits, sleep 12 hours straight, take some time off work, it'll pass with little notice..... and a little lovin' care by my daughters.

Choosing a waterway with which I am well familiar, I checked the weather, the wind and the water levels.  I notified the adorable park ranger (so young!) that I was headed out alone.  I asked him about the navigation and he assured me it was typical.  No surprises this trip.  He was right.

I put in at the top of the canoe trail and the water level was hovering below 7 feet.  I prefer 8 feet, but felt confident 7 would be deep enough for the submerged logs and shallow enough for the low trees.  An ice storm hit a couple winters ago that made the water impassable.  My husband and I navigated the jon boat while our good friend Doug ripped a trail through the river with his chainsaw.

At 7 feet, I had some stump-jumping to do.  The first one caught me off guard and I approached it at an angle.  My adrenaline performed magnificently and I got myself straightened out after only two or three seconds of being out of control.  The second and third jumpers came as no surprise, I hit them straight on and wiggled my way across.

I remained silent most of the trip so I could see and hear the animals au naturale.  At times, I made some noises before passing under low hanging branches that might contain snakes.  I saw one snake and he let me pass comfortably.  I heard three other snakes plop into the water from their lofty branches several feet before I passed under.  Always be aware of the snake on the low branch that might jump into your boat.

The 12 - 14 mph wind.  OK, let's talk wind.  12 - 14 mph feels nice, a cool breeze.  However, when you are alone on the water, floating under broken tree limbs that creak as you pass by..... 12 - 14 mph feels like 50 mph.  I expected to see Jim Cantore around the next corner in his rain gear, dangling off a branch shouting at me to evacuate, for crying out loud EVACUATE!

But that didn't happen.  12 - 14 mph winds are perfect for a kayak trip on the Edisto.  If you paddle on the lower part of the Edisto, be sure to check the tides.  There's no reason to paddle against the tide both ways unless you just want to..... or plain don't know better.  (ask me how I know this)

I saw one other boat on the water, a lovely couple fishing in a jon boat.  As I paddled by they asked if anyone was upstream behind me.  I smiled, "No, not a soul," thinking they'd have great fishing possibilities.  Then I heard banjo music.  I thought how stupid I was - I should have said, "Yes, my big, burly husband and his big, burly friend are right behind me with their big, burly pistol."  Instead, I just paddled faster.

Perfect water levels for both canoe and kayak are around 8'.   There are a few downed logs that you either need to go under or over, depending on the water level.  When the level prevents either, the park will close the trail.

The park has times when they rent canoes or kayaks and give you a lift to the put-in while you leave your vehicle at the take-out.   Call ahead.  If you have your own boat, you can go beyond the park's take-out, but the next road access is about 15 river miles down at Keadle Bridge.  If you decide to go past the park's take-out, be sure to let the park rangers know your float plan. 

The Edisto river is endangered.  To support the life of this blackwater river, join the efforts of Friends of the Edisto or Edisto Concerns.

The Aiken State Park Canoe Trail
Aiken State Park

Blackwater 2015 is coming back to Aiken State Park on Saturday, June 20th, 10 - 4.  Music, BBQ and more.  Come out to visit others, support the river and float down it if you'd like.

Sunday, May 17

I'm Back and Under Construction

Just over a year ago, I lay down my pen.
I had nothing more to share.
Nothing more to give.

I boarded up the windows of my heart,
secured plastic protective coverings over the breakables in my consciousness,
descended into the storm cellar of my psyche.

Ready to return,
I will begin blogging again.

This blog is under construction.  The name, the background, the categories will change over the next few months, but I will start writing again now.  The new blog will focus more on Travel and Product Reviews.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 24

Marine Railways, Another Little Piece of History in Savannah, GA

Sasser's Marine Railway on Wilmington Island across from Thunderbolt. 
On the outskirts of Savannah, GA.

We sat up in the wheelhouse talking for hours the night before, waiting out a thunderstorm, wondering what it would feel like in this storm if we were on the water instead of the rails and, more importantly, wondering how I would climb back down this 30’ ladder with my fear of heights.  I seriously thought we’d have to invent another way down.

 (see the little boy staring at the boat?)
The commercial shrimp boat is an enchanted thing.

When I see these old trawlers, especially the wooden ones, I feel like I have stepped back in history, maybe even into a fairy tale. 

The tall outriggers at the ready.  The beautiful nets waving in the breeze, the old wooden doors, parched, cracked and two toned.  Even the tug-boat shape thrills me. 

I stare at the boat and dream tall tales of pirates and perfect storms and stowaways.  My imagination goes full out.  I have to be pulled away or I would stay there all day.  But then, something else caught my attention.  The rails!  Marine Railways -- who knew?!  I love old things like this and had to learn more.

Miss Pollyanna was brought down from Beaufort, SC in a high sea for the purpose of general maintenance up on the rails.  Marine railways became favored over a traditional dry dock in the early 19th century and are now on the decline due to environmental issues.  The rails extend into the water and run at an incline for a couple hundred feet.

On a high tide, Miss Pollyanna floated into the cradle and was drawn up the railway by a winch .

The winches hauled her up the rails to hover a foot or so off the ground so Bobby, Bernie and Pee Wee could scrape off the barnacles.

When I arrived, they were power washing her down so they could paint.  I averted my eyes.  It didn’t seem right to be all up in her business.  Miss Pollyanna stood proud, but there’s only so much a girl can stand.

There's a handful of marine railways still in operation, most of which claim to be the oldest operational marine railway in the country or something equally grand.   The original ones used horses to pull the boat, then steam engines.  This engine (2 photos above) is I-Don't-Know-What.  It.'s a beast.  If you know how it runs, leave a comment.   Isn't this stuff great??!  I love it when I discover new very old stuff.

Friday, October 24

Danny DeVito in Steal My Girl Video with One Direction

The tiniest flicker of hope for humanity rising up out of the ashes and smoke of what America used to be has brought me out of my hibernation for a quick gasp of this beautiful, pepperminty-cool, life-sustaining fresh air before it dissipates.

Any guesses?

It'll surprise you.

You can let your kids watch it.

It's Steal My Girl by One Direction. 

Actually, it's the video for the song.

Before you watch it, let me comment that it is a wholesome love song you haven't heard in a few decades.  It is encouraging and sweet, and will elevate your spirit for high school sweethearts worldwide.  It is naive and pure with no vulgar language or scenes, it doesn't objectify anyone.  And it is creative.  Somebody, somewhere put on their creative hat and resisted the urge to paint their canvas with the filth our artists have been using with lazy lasciviousness recently.  Bravo!

Wednesday, March 26

Thursday, February 6

Foggy Thinking, Lethargy

In the hormonal madness called menopause, I often find myself in a fog of confusion, staring blankly, wondering what I am supposed to be doing.  I know I am supposed to be doing something, something more than just standing in the middle of the kitchen or driving around town.   But without a sticky note To-Do list or electronic calendar to look at, I’m at a loss.
Feeling less-than.
In a fog.

It is refreshing to me, at this stage of life, to have the gps, something mothers and grandmothers before me didn’t have to help them muck through.

The soothing voice, confidently telling me “Head West!!”   My shoulders straighten, I lift my head. 
I’ll head West.!!
That’s just the thing to do.

That soothing voice breaking down my life into step-by-step directions is very appealing to me.  I turn it on sometimes when I’m not even going anywhere.  I just want to hear someone who knows what they’re doing.  Someone who feels confident and full of hope.....

Monday, January 27

10 Unique Valentine's Ideas


It's time now to start your DIY Valentine's Day projects and I've gathered some of my Internet favorites for you.  Valentine's Day used to be my favorite holiday; hearts, my favorite shape.  I used to make cards smothered in Victorian lace, glittered hearts and gooey love cliche's.  But this year, I'll let you do the work.

My #1 Favorite Valentine's Gift Idea for 2014:
Cookie Dough......

Thursday, January 23

Why We Love Venice (And You Should, Too!)

We visited Venice in May of 2012.  We spent a delicious, rainy, exhausting, exhilarating 2 days in Venice and wished we had more.  With the not-so-friendly Venetians and the way-too-many tourists, it's not a place to which I want to return more than once.  But it's a place I insist everyone must see.

Seven Top Reasons We Love Venice (And You Should, Too!)

1.  Cars aren't allowed in Venice......

Best Chili in Columbia, SC: Chili Cook-Off

Do you think you make the best chili in the SC Midlands?  Share your chili recipe with over 500 chili-tasters from 5 - 8 pm on Saturday, March 1, 2014 in the Ellison Building at the State Fairgrounds to participate in the 16th Annual Chili Cook-Off hosted by The Palladium Society.

To enter, you must register by 4:00 pm on Feb. 25, 2014 along with paying a $20 fee.   Your registration fee covers your chili entry and two tickets - one for you and one for a guest.....

Wednesday, January 22

Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building Up Close Tours End Soon

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is a magnificent thing.

You cannot grasp the size of this structure unless you view it up close and personal.   Look closely at the photo above, there is a regular size tour bus parked in front of it right at the center, under that bright white spot.  The VAB stands 525' tall, contains 45,000 tons of steel and the building alone has a 3-acre footprint.  She was built to withstand a hurricane and she did.

KSC has been offering up-close tours for a limited time after the closing of the Shuttle program.  KSC will discontinue these tours on February 11, 2014 so they can put the old girl back to work.  As a working spaceflight facility, the VAB will be put to use again for the new SLS launch systems for 2017.

The KSC Up-Close VAB Tour includes a tour of the VAB with an expert guide, a tour in which you can see firsthand where vehicles were assembled for launch.  Extra stops include a panoramic view of all launch pads from the NASA Causeway and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This tour also includes General Admission to KSC.  The tour is 2 hours and costs $75 per adult, $59 for kids 3-11.  The General Admission includes tons of stuff - enough for two full days of fun at KSC - and includes the Astronaut Hall of Fame and a tour of the retired shuttle Atlantis.

NASA knows how to give an up-close and personal tour.  I've been given a few as part of their NASA Social program.  Read more here:

NASA Up-Close and Personal with the Mobile Launcher
NASA Up-Close and Personal with the new Swamp Works Research and Development Lab
NASA: Up-Close and Personal for a Rocket Launch
NASA: Up-Close and Personal with Astronaut Ron Garan
NASA: Up-Close and Personal with Astronaut Doug Wheelock with an Emergency on the ISS

The VAB was originally built to vertically assemble the Saturn V rocket.....

Friday, January 17

Hidden Falls, a Serial Novel Released in 13 Weekly Episodes

Hidden Falls is a 13 part serial novel in electronic format by Olivia Newport from Shiloh Run Studios that will be released by Barbour Books in weekly episodes starting January 24 2014.  I'm excited to see how this will play out.  Much like your favorite TV series, this story will have you waiting all week to see "what happens next."

The first episode has been released early and you can download it for free right now. 

Episode One introduces the folks of Hidden Falls, a central Illinois community on the banks of Whisper Lake.....