From the homeland…

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4-15-14Dunmore Head

Niamh and Dan are another of my two angels. Both have been an incredible resource to Lori and I as we navigate our somewhat choppy current waters. Hailing directly from back home in Ireland, their accents haven’t waned one bit, and it does my heart good to hear them speak in their classic soft-singing Irish tone. Both doctors in the local community, they’ve shared compassion (and expertise) with our family, though as you might expect in a situation like this, that extra level of knowledge Lori and I have been able to attain has felt especially valuable.

Niamh and Dan have been there for us – in what felt like a life-saving operation, right before I had a PET Scan done it was Dan who somewhat spontaneously and thankfully drained a ton of excess fluid from my lung when I had pneumonia – and as is the case these days, we have a hard time truly expressing our thanks for their support. They’ve been there for us anytime and at all times, frequently asking how they can help, and also providing relevant insights and experience about the entire process/situation - much of which we’re just learning to gather for ourselves.

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We wanted to give Niamh and Dan something of ours… that might mean something to them too… so we had a print of this scene from Dunmore Head on the Ring of Kerry printed biggish at 20×30 right onto metal. From Dunmore Head near Coumeenoole, you can see Great Blasket Island straightaway, Inishnabro and Inishvickillane to the left, and to the right is Beiginis and then Inishtooskert – just off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. There’s an almost 3-D look to the metal printing, and the scene literally pops right off the surface. Turns out Dan has actually spent time sailing in and around these very islands! To my angels from Ireland, Niamh and Dan – here’s a little glimpse from home – thank you.

One of my angels…

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4-13-14 Cadillac debbie3 Cancer is a bad thing. It has obviously struck our family out of the blue, and as it did so, make no mistake that it has rocked our foundation to the core. We’re asking questions and looking for answers… answers that we’re learning aren’t necessarily there for us just yet. Our friends and family are asking questions too, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the desire of others to provide us with help and support. It’s hard… what do you say to help someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer? It’s a frustrating situation for all involved… everyone wants to help, but there’s only so much one can do. Tremendously frustrating for all involved.

4-13-14 cadillac debbie2People want to help, and we want people to know that their encouraging words and support are indeed helping. How do we let our friends and community know how much their support is appreciated… that’s hard too. Hopefully by posting on the blog I’m able to – even in some small way – pass along our gratitude? I mean it when I say that we feed off of that positive energy every day, and we are truly and eternally grateful for the generous outpouring of love we are experiencing every day. In addition to the incredible support our entire local community is nurturing us with, as we navigate this sometimes unpredictable journey, we’ve been especially blessed with the additional and remarkable support of certain individuals.

4-13-14 cadilac debbie1 Here’s one such individual… Debbie. Debbie is one of my angels. Debbie and Jeff have the most beautiful family of three wonderful boys and a gorgeous, black standard poodle named Sidney. I have had the very good fortune to coach one of their boys on my high school soccer team, and in doing so, I have also had the even better fortune of getting to know this wonderful family just a little bit better.

Debbie is a nurse –  wow, that’s such a short word that in no way describes the role that Debbie has helped play in my dealing with this situation – she has meant so, so much more to our family. I’ve had a few hiccups (literally and figuratively) along the way, and as one of the angel nurses on the sixth floor of the Eastern Maine Medical Center who has been trusted with my care on more than one occasion since the diagnosis, I feel as though Debbie has indisputably influenced my very existence.

So… how to thank someone for giving so much? Impossible. But when I’m able to reproduce an image of mine that means a lot to me – this canvas of an early summer morning sunrise from the summit of Cadillac in Acadia National Park – and see Debbie so happy to receive it as a small token of thanks and hang it in her home… that makes me proud, honored and very humble. One of my angels… Debbie. Thank you.

Bigshot Camera

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Trying to come up with creative gifts for Jack at Christmas time, I stumbled on the Bigshot camera - billed as ‘the camera for education”, it is a really cool concept and I jumped at it immediately. For any educator interested in combining science, math, engineering and, most importantly, the arts – this one’s for you!

The enormous appeal of the camera can be used to turn it into a compelling tool for learning. We believe that a camera designed for education must have three features. First, it should be designed as a kit for assembly – putting the kit together should expose the user to a wide range of science concepts. Second, it should include features that cannot be found in other cameras, allowing the user to explore new creative dimensions. Finally, it should be low-cost, making it accessible to the less privileged. Bigshot has been designed with these goals in mind. There is another important feature that sets Bigshot apart from virtually all educational kits – once you have built it, it is a fully functioning digital camera that you can use everyday!

Basically, you purchase a kit for making your very own fully functioning digital camera, and along the way as you assemble the camera, you explore and learn about a variety of technical and creative processes that go into the ultimate expression of making a photograph.

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It was on one of my short stays in the hospital getting hydrated that Jack and Sam took on the task of assembling the camera…. needless to say, it was the most amazing surprise and the perfect moment when I learned about their little adventure together. I love that they spent the time together to make the camera so that it would finally get done – Jack and I had been meaning to get to it but as you can tell, time got away from us a little bit! Great little camera that you crank to generate your own power, and has a lens wheel that allows all sorts of creative possibilities like panoramic, 3D, wide angle… so much fun, and when you roll in the level of ownership applied to the entire process, then we have an absolute winner.

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The accompanying web site resources are excellent, and they really aid in the educational aspect of this project. I hesitate to call it a project – makes it sound a little sterile and maybe too much like school – but I know that both Jack and Sam had a blast putting the camera together, and I’m very proud of my little scientist/engineer/photographers. Well worth the investment if you have a little one interested in learning more about science, digital photography and creative expression. Bigshot Camera.

 

Why not..?

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Is it possible to update Oliver’s condition too often? Forgive me if I’m being overly zealous with his recovery pics, but I just wanted to keep you all up to date. Top pic has a touch of Instagram applied.

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*As a loyal reader, please don’t feel as though you need to leave a comment every time I make a blog post. I just want to provide a quick note about my little friend’s condition. Though he does look a little sleepy, trust me… he’s doing awesome!

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Spending a little time…

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4-10-14 websitecover Lately I’ve been spending some time exploring my portfolio of landscape photographs. Though feeling physically and mentally much better between rounds of Chemo, I still haven’t quite mustered up the energy to spend much time outside, never mind having the oomph to be out early or late capturing any new good light on the landscape with the camera. That leaves me fondly reminiscing about some of the work I’ve already done, and as I do so, I get to spend a little time perusing my web site – and you know what that means… yes, tweaking.

As you can see from the screenshot above – http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com – I’ve abandoned (for now) my attachment to a single strong black and white coastal image in favor of a more eclectic, colorful, and assorted view of what is distinctly Acadia National Park – after all, there is so much to see in Acadia, why not show her off in all her glory?

We’ve had a lot of incredibly generous local support in response to our little medical emergency, and as a way to say thank you, Lori and I have been selecting prints that we think people might appreciate, and we’ve been ordering and delivering them as thank you gifts.

I’ve learned that it’s one thing to conceptualize, experience, and actually create any one of my photographs, but I have to admit, following the process through to where it physically gets printed and held in hand – whether it is printed on canvas, paper, or better yet, on metal – it is quite exhilarating to hold a piece, especially since many of these pieces to date have merely been images on the screen.

I’ve a couple of big pieces being printed on metal on the way as “thank you’s” to our friends, and I’ll be sure to grab a pic of what they look like “in-person” as it were when they arrive. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing from what I believe is a new and improved web site, please use the discount code “chemo” when in the shopping cart area – despite it’s not-so-nice meaning, it will get you 25% off any purchase ;)

Home safe and sound….

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Update*

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Here he is morning after. Perky and looking more like his old self. Just have to keep him settled and quiet now.

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Here he is… home safe and sound – minus a couple of important bits. As you can imagine, Oliver’s not quite himself right about now, but the doc assures us that everything went well and that he’ll be back to his old self within about a week. The vet-recommended boxers are to try and keep him away from the stitches and the incision, and although it pains me to see him this way, when we take into account everything going on in our lives right now… I just know we did the right thing. Welcome home sweet Oliver, and I just know he appreciates all of your good wishes.

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The day has come…

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3-16-13 Oliver7I knew this day would come, and I knew it was going to be difficult. Oliver just turned 18 months, and what with everything swirling around here of late, we kind of dropped the ball when it comes to getting him “fixed”. A few months back, I discussed the pros and cons – according to a layman like me – to having this operation completed, so if it’s all right with you my loyal readers, this time around I’d rather not re-visit why it’s a barbaric and unnecessary procedure. Let’s just accept that it’s going to happen and move on – thanks for understanding.

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We’re getting Oliver fixed on Wednesday morning. Though sad about actually doing it – I don’t want to put my baby through any unnecessary discomfort – we’re doing it for the following reasons… it is convenient, and besides, when we purchased him from the breeder we signed a contract saying that we would. There are a similar amount of health-related concerns on either side of getting this procedure completed at an early or later stage, but most importantly, I believe that by giving Oliver the 18 months that we did to grow into his body he was able to take full advantage of the natural hormonal development over that time… he has derived more benefit from NOT being snipped at an early age and denied of so many natural body chemicals – he has grown into a healthy, happy and incredibly stable young dog. He’ll also get micro-chipped in case he hates us for it and decides to run away ;)

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I don’t want Oliver to breed unnecessarily, and although in all likelihood he would never get the chance to roam free and do anything unexpected… you just never know. Better safe than sorry in that regard, and as a family we’re all for responsible pet owning.

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Here’s the convenience piece… we’re realizing that over the next few weeks and months we are going to need to temporarily house our little friend for a day or two here and there… maybe even an overnight stay. Doctor visits and other commitments are starting to fill the calendar, and although to date we have been able to work around every circumstance, the day is coming when an extended event will definitely mean needing to board Oliver.

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We have an awesome boarding kennel lined up, but they are understandably reluctant to have dogs – even if all males – co-habitate if some are fixed, while others aren’t. There’s a significant chance that our little currently un-fixed guy will be the one trying to “hump” other dogs – and while that’s perfectly natural behavior – apparently it can make for a more heightened and less tranquil atmosphere within the group, and we wouldn’t want that to happen.

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And besides, one of the things we’re especially hoping to get from the boarding experience is a positive social interaction for Oliver. His demeanor is such that he just wants to play… with anyone, anytime, anywhere. He’s a happy dog who will get along with all others… perfectly. However, if he’s humping (and there’s no guarantee fixing will prevent that), then the possibility of a mellow co-existence within his fellow boarders might become a little unbalanced, and if the alternative is some form of isolation for the humper… well, then that’s not what we want.

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Anyhoo… Wednesday is the big day. We’ve cleared the decks so that we’ll be here to care for him after the event and give all the love he needs. We’ll make sure he gets as much peace and quiet, medicine, and of course, love, so that he can make as full a recovery as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Oliver will once again amaze and be the model patient, but it still makes me sad that we have to put him through this process. Wish him luck ;)