Wordless Wednesday



Bits & Bites

We will be traveling for holiday joy with family. Well, at least one side of the family (mine) is joyful during this season. A side trip to Sanibel Island for a few days won’t make up for the missed vacation in Hawaii but should provide enough beach time for the family excitement ahead.

The critters and house always get tremendous care from our wonderful pet-sitting company, Nunn Better. Seneca does an amazing job with her staff, and our “Pack” usually has their favorite gal, Aubrey, to spoil them rotten when we travel. Of course we would rather they romp on the beach with us and visit their puppy cousins. I do worry about them. Ha! They are too busy enjoying respite from us and happy to avoid kennel-care.

Betsy & Scruffy

PeeTee & Lucy

After a reaaallllly long weight-loss plateau, I have dropped a few pounds. I continue to be fascinated how my body shape changes even without losing much weight. Don’t say I am toning up because my physical activity still is not up to pre-mastectomy level, but at least I’m moving again without discomfort. Although my goal seems to be only 14-pounds away, I think maintenance for me will hit when I can fit into the pair of really tight size 10 pants hanging. Who knows? Who cares. I’m pretty much eating what I plan to eat for life except there will be no hesitancy for treats in the future. This time of year. with my seasonal affective disorder flaring and the associated carb urge, it is a bit dangerous to venture away from my mantra: no grains, starch, added sugar.

My favorite/only plastic surgeon insisted on a huge hug rather than a handshake at the start of our visit this week. “What, after all we’ve been through you just want to shake my hand?” So, I pressed my artificial boobs into his chest and then flash him. “Are you satisfied with this?” I ask. He tells me I look great for just a little over 2 months since my tissue expanders were replaced with silicone. Scars are healing well. Skin flab might be removed after weight loss is done, depends on if I want more scars. We discuss how one foob hangs lower. Most women’s breasts are not even. I just never noticed because mine were hanging at my waist. He did not use any tissue matrix (we agreed) to reinforce the lower poles of the “pockets” holding my implants. So, I do have to watch and see if that one foob drops any lower. My symmastia (uniboob) has not recurred but I’m still at high risk for up to 2 years. In other words, I am like many women who undergo breast reconstruction after breast cancer – over 25% will require additional surgery after “permanent” implants are placed. I ain’t planning on it, but I am aware. The next step is to get nipple tattoos. (Just in case you were dying to know.) No nipple reconstruction. I don’t want “headlights” all the time, and the Barbie look is kinda weird. We are planning a trip to Baltimore in the spring to have mine done by a tattoo artist who works with academic reconstruction centers across the country. Always wanted a tattoo. Just thought it might be a green sea turtle…

Leaving you with a link to a fun read from the New York Times: Holiday Gifts From Your Kitchen Even non-chefs like make me can make healthy, lemon olive oil and dress it up in a pretty container.

Be reading you on the interwebs!

Born Free No More

Once upon a time, a couple of humans and a beloved legacy of stray critters roamed the country together during precious days, sometimes weeks, stolen from demanding work. Imagine a time before routine use of cell phones, iPads, free Wi-fi. Totally unplugged “The Pack” would bundled up in their cocoon of a 24′ motor home and head for the out-of-doors, away from the 4th largest city in America, searching for dark skies, fireflies, quiet waters, and peaceful dreams. From Oregon to Florida they drove and camped and hiked. Six beloved pets (even the cats) understood the words “going camping” and “get in the Born Free”.


We learned all of the hiding places a kitty could find in such a small space, and that sometimes they could disappear into the forest, onto the beach without leaving a clue as to their escape route. They always came back, not always before their humans had started wailing over their demise. Pups seemed content to lounge and eat in the safety of their second home.

Yesterday, after 15 years, when we pulled her up to the house to remove all of our crap gear (so that’s where my fly rod went to!), the last of the puppy pack leapt into the cabin and rolled on her back, tongue out, tail wagging – where are we going? Nowhere, Lucy. In less than 24 hours on the market, we had sold our Born Free for asking price. We had stopped using her for anything but accommodations for overflow family and one final trip to the Grand Canyon. So many memories of outdoor adventures and our Pack frolicking together. But, like the phase of fast and fancy cars, eating out every night, and working 80 hours a week, our regular camping and RV days have ended.

Hiking, however, is still in my future. We moved to Arizona for the environment. Glorious trails surround us. Our love of travel remains. My stamina will return even though the next surgery requires another serious bout of down time. I found my Leki walking poles in the Born Free!

Born Free, Adios

Ironman, Here I Come

Mirinda Carfrae, Women's Winner Kona Ironman 2010

Mirinda Carfrae, Women's Winner Kona Ironman 2010

The Ironman World Championship is held October in Kona, and I will be back! No, I won’t qualify as a participant. Heck, I wouldn’t even be eligible for the few lottery spots that are available to complete the field of 1800 athletes. Good grief, I am struggling to get back to walking regularly (no bitching this post, promise). Nope, we are coming back for 2 amazingly, exciting weeks next September/October to volunteer and be a part of this truly amazing race.

For years we have tried to celebrate our anniversary here in Kona, which just happens to fall the same week as Ironman. Reservations are held years in advance by athletes, sponsors, officials, property owners, etc. Our loyalty and repeat business to a prime little condo that hangs over crashing waves finally has paid off. The manager pulled out a corner unit with a wrap-around lanai that she keeps in reserve for returning race customers, and she is letting us rent it for a very reasonable price. We started talking to shop owners and bartenders along the water front about the Ironman experience, and everyone encouraged us to volunteer as a great way to participate and get close to the action. We were given the number of the local volunteer coordinator and are so stoked about doing this!

I watched many marathons when we lived in Houston and one half tri-athalon. The energy is intense. Plus, this is one way to give back to the island that we are so attached to. It takes thousands of volunteers before and during the race to support the event. The one thing we won’t do is play doctor and staff medical stations. Not sure about licensing, but more importantly, we don’t want to mix bidness with pleasure.

So, tonight it’s aloha to the Big Island as we head back to the green desert of Tucson. The week has been full of relaxation, glorious weather, even more glorious humidity on our lizard skin, lots of whales, fresh pineapple dripping down our chins (thanks to Shelley for the tips), time on the water, and the sound of soothing waves. As one local told me, “We live on the land; we draw life from the ocean.”

Kailua-Kona coast

Village of Kailua-Kona seen from swim portion of Ironman route, safely from a catamaran


Village of Kailua-Kona seen from swim portion of Ironman

Eating in Paradise

How does a gal cope being away from home and kitchen and living a low(er) carb, no sugar, starch, grain life style while in Hawaii? Besides sipping 100% Kona coffee on the lanai, this has been a challenge.

Who wants to cook every meal while on vaca? Sure, eggs for breakfast are fine and go great with whale watching from the comfort of the deck chairs. I have been skipping lunch, although our trip to the local Walmart (a must for buying the cheapest tee shirts and aloha shirts for friends and family) has the cupboard stocked with tuna and sardines. The condo complex has an amazing barbecue setup, which we plan to use with some fresh fish from the local fishermen, if we ever manage to get our butts out to the harbor. The local KTA supposedly sells decent fresh fish, too. Costco, a favorite of everyone here, does not sell local fish.

We ate out yesterday after a glorious whale watching excursion. I didn’t care for the fresh catch of the day and went with a burger, no bread. Why do all plates comes with some sort of starch and more starch? Asking to substitute fruit and veggies is like asking for the moon. The portions were HUGE! And, since when did it become so hard just to offer oil and vinegar as a dressing? Can you tell why I don’t eat out much?

All is not lost. Fresh pineapple is waiting to be cut. Almonds are sitting around when the need for a quick snack hits. Found a Subway using the app AroundMe to grab a quick salad on the way to a distant favorite beach for boogie boarding. And, that fresh fish WILL be on the grill tonight.

Whew, thanks for letting me vent. I think my inability to exercise to any degree is messing with my brain chemistry. Yes, I am still holding a grudge against the manufacturers of all statin medications.

Perhaps I need to go meditate on the lava rocks below. My Mom would have loved being here. Life is too short to bitch this much.

Quick travel pics

Wheeee! Eight inches left over after buckling my seat belt, even flying on a commuter jet to Phoenix in route to Kona.

Can you see three whales from our condo lanai (porch). They were there under the setting sun. Hard to capture with a cell phone camera. Harder to believe we left our real cameras at home!

The Big Island Beckons

Less than 48 hours and we will be flying to the Big Island of Hawaii. I ♥ Hawaii – so much that we seriously considered moving there in 2005, but the distance from our families was too great. It has been over 2 years since our last visit, and this Island Girl (now shriveled from desert dwelling) will return to the wondrous diversity and Aloha of the Big Island.

Waipo valley

Waipo Valley

Waipo Valley is amazing beautiful and  incredibly secluded.

cowboys in hawaii

Cowboys on the Parker Ranch

The wide open spaces remind me of Texas!

Pele's Crater in Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea has been spewing lava since 1983 and adding acreage to the Island. We have seen active lava from foot and via plane and helicopter. Spectacular!

After many visits, we always rent a condo on the Kona side, which is technically a desert receiving about 10 inches rain/year, as opposed to the Hilo side that gets > 130 inches/year. See what I mean about diversity!

Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world – when measured from the sea floor it is 33,000 feet about sea level, towering above Mount Everest by over 4,ooo feet. Seeing snow on this gorgeous shield volcano from the beautiful warm beaches in the winter is a staggering sight.

mauna kea viewed from hilo

Mauna Kea viewed from Hilo

My strongest connection to Hawaii is the ocean. I love snorkeling with turtles (honu) and go in quest of whale encounters with the amazing humpbacks.

Honu - protected green sea turtle

humpback mom and babe

Humpback mom and babe

Leaping humpback

I will be just short of my goal weight of 200 pounds for the trip. Who the heck cares! We will be in paradise drinking 100% Kona coffee, eating fresh fruit, savoring fruits of the sea, and connecting with some of the most wonderful people in the world.