And So it began

"ONCE UPON A TIME"....there came along this little lump...insignificant really when you compare it to the entire world of lumps. That is, right up to the point that it wasn't...insignificant I mean............... and so began my journey.

A NEWER SHADE OF I more then SURVIVE...I am learning to THRIVE...

OF COURSE... we all know things are bound to get a little crazy with a surprise around most every corner...not to mention an assortment of bumps and bruises along the way...but I am ever thankful for them all...they have all made me who I am. So buckle up, hold on tight and enjoy the ride thru what I lovingly refer to as LIFE

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Kristpy Kreme & Joseph Smith jr (part 2)

So...picking up our trip at our hotel in Beechwood, Ohio (about 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland & yes....the R&R Hall of Fame) which was the most centrally located (thanks again Etta May Travel) for the next 3 places on the agenda.  Now you have to understand that when we travel I always try to have access to a suite with a kitchen due to my over-the-top-hyper-sensitive allergies..which makes travelling and eating out anywhere a real nightmare. On this trip I wasn't able to pull it off so we did the best we could relying on daily trips to the Whole Foods market to get fresh and safe food for me.  One evening I was just plain tired of "making do" so we ventured out to a restaurant that served just regular everyday food and hoped they had a chef not just a cook.  Well...the food fairies were looking out for us that night cause we not only got a chef....but one with a real sense of adventure. When he heard what my allergies were he made a point of coming out to talk to us...and continued to check on us a few times during our meal. So... I challenged him to just have fun and make up something for me and did he ever go to turned out to be FOR SURE some of the BEST food I have eaten in years...!he even sent me home with the extra of his "for me custom sauce".  He just made my night....a very talented and fun chef...YOU ROCKED & a BIG THANK YOU!!! up and headed out for the #2 of 4 stops here....of course...with the pilgrimage to the nearest Outlet Mall in Aurora, Ohio.  Outlet malls are always near the top of "what to dos" after Krispy Kreme....i have my priorities in order....never fear.  It couldn't have been a lovelier Fall day....perfect temperature & VoR's favorite stores...and I found my way to the Yankee Candle store.  Not sure why the smells in there don't bother me like other similar stores except that they have a pretty large "clean & fresh" section of naturally mellow natural scents and I don't really stray from there...except for a seasonal candle for good measure (pumpkins for fall....mmmm).  Now it may be the perfect place for my nose....the credit card...that's an entirely different matter....sigh!!  I only go every couple of years and so I stock up.  I am really not much of a shopper but this little stop always puts me in my happy place.  So when you combine our favorite stores all in one location... have a "Poppins"(practially perfect in every way") kinda of day.

By mid afternoon we were heading down the road to #3 (based strictly on logistics)...Kirtland Ohio, and the National Historic Landmark...The Kirtland Temple.  I don't think I was really prepared to come around the curve in the road and there it was rising above the trees...I was in total AWE!!! I have grown up my entire life seeing pictures of this place and know all the facts about the sacrifices and injustices of those first faithful saints. Then to have it physically right in front of me.., was like it had been lifted right of the books,...was VERY emotional for me. I have (for as long as I can remember) always felt a deep, in my bones, kind of connection to that pioneer heritage. Their stories and experiences have always been so real to doesn't take much effort to immerse myself in those raw emotions & faith. This was the first LDS temple built & it was thru the complete sacrifice of every single member living there...they gave time, talents, money even treasured possessions. I am not too sure how happy...after painstakingly crossing the ocean with the family china..,I would have been to crush it up to use in the plaster on the outside of the temple.  I soooo deeply admire them...just not sure I would have made very good pioneer stock though....not sure how I would have dealt living thru one or more of their experiences...the spirit is willing...the body is just a mess....OYE!  The temple is a majestic building in its simplicity of design....built by mostly unskilled a true monument to those early saints and their faith & obedience.

We were able to tour the building and sit only a couple of rows away from whrere Christ appeared to Joseph & Oliver after the dedication of the building.  It just spoke to my soul.  To end the tour by our group singing "The Spirit of God" (a song written for the dedication in 1837 and still sung in our congregations today)a capella (in 4 part harmony) like that day almost 2 centuries ago, brought tears to my eyes and that undeniable warmth to my soul.  The Community of Christ does a very nice tour and are working hard to maintain the building as it has belonged to them since about which we (the LDS church) work very closely along side them. The significance of all the miracles, revelations, translations, & sacrifices that took place in this area of Kirtland & in this Temple are so evident.  They are such a testimony to me of the Lord's direction in our lives.  That He still speaks to us today personally, to our spirits (soul) thru the Holy Ghost & thru our living Prophets is very humbling to me. To know where I fit in this big eternal plan is such a comfort and source of strength thru all those crazy journeys of my life (especially this cancer one).  Knowing we are here because we are supposed to us a solid place to start.  Now it's just up to us to figure out exactly why... and to discover all the gifts and blessings the Lord sent with us step at a time.

-Etta May-

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Krispy Kreme & Joseph Smith jr (part 1)

I know what you are all thinking.....what could these 2 things possibly have in common....the simple answer....ME!!!  Just in case you were I am not sure...cause there is no way I have NOT shared my obsession with Krispy Kreme Donuts with you long before now!!!  Let's just get it out there....I was hooked my very first bite decades ago & I am truly sorry Dunkin & Timmy Ho (Tim Horton's for you south of the border) but you just don't cut it...there just is NO comparison.  So suffice it to say every time I cross the border into the USA I am on the hunt for a location close by... to buy my token 1 (or maybe 3) donut...let's just leave at saying..."mission accomplished" & now I am free,..with a very happy heart (YUM YUM) to move along, focused on the real purpose of this (or any siad) trip. After all.. R&R for me &VoR will take any opportunity to reconnect away from all the distractions of job and life....duh!! 

This trip's focus was to explore some of the significant sites in our LDS church history in PA & OH... from way back in the beginning in the early 1830's.  Some of you may know a smiege of our church history & the plight of our pioneers (some of which are direct line ancestors to both VoR & me) & that it is a huge deal to our members.  The church has worked tirelessly to acquire, restore or rebuild these special places & in some cases had highways moved to protect these historic sites.  There are many major & minor spots that are now available to visit so that you can get a sense of what they went thru, feel the spirit and strengthen your own testimony but they are just as important to the NON-LDS person as these are an integral part of American History, the migration that opened up the west and the struggle to gain the religious freedom that we all enjoy today. We have had the opportunity to visit a few of these places together in VT, NY, PA with more adventures in the further from farther home.....some major planning still required...TBA

This the Great White North...(that would be October for you more southern folks)..we took some extra days and hit the road again heading for destinations both new and familiar. Our 1st stop was Oakland Township, PA on the Susquehanna River at the Priesthood Restoration Site. It was a beautifully restored site with the homes of both Emma & Joseph Smith and Emma's parents The Hales.  These were remarkably important locations since it was in these homes that the majority of the Book of Mormon was translated.  It is also where the Priesthood was restored along with where Joseph & Oliver were baptized.  A very special spirit was there, standing in the room where those vital books of scripture were meticulously translated by a humble, obedient man & the power of God. 

We spent the night at a really cool resort that was built as a private residence in the 1900 but was later turned into a golf resort. It had a certain old world vibe about it since they have tried to retain the old charm. You could just imagine seeing such notable guests as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bing Crosby, to name a couple of their former guests, meandering around the grounds waiting for their turn to swing a club at one of those little white balls

The next 4 stops were kinda all together as we based the next few days out of one hotel centrally located on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. (yes..."Etta May Travel" is up and running...working hard to plan a convenient, well organized trip specifically tailored for your relaxation and stress-free travel....DUH!!!).  The first actual stop was a definite departure from the rest...but a highlight all of its own. Situated on the waterfront (Lake Erie) in downtown Cleveland, none other then The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Now to be totally honest...cause I am....I only went along cause I knew this was  HUGE on VoR's bucket list. I had done my research and thought it was kinda pricey but it was sooooo important to him and I knew if the roles were reversed....he would be all over it for me.  I STAND CORRECTED...IT WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!  It was sooooo cool with soooo many amazing items & stories.  There was "behind the scenes"  memorabilia, quotes & photos of almost all the influential bands and individuals in music history.  I say "almost"... cause I did NOT find one thing about Glenn Miller (Moonlight Serenade...sigh!!!), The Osmonds, Luther Vandross, Barry Manilow, or England Dan & John Ford Coley just to name a few.  Let's be honest... you have to admit they were all very successful recording artists and made important contributes to the history of the music industry....but to me... they were a just a few of those especially GINORMOUSLY HUGE influences on my musical history...this is an obvious oversight on the part of those fine folks at the Hall of Fame....SHEESH!!!  We spent almost 3 hours & covered about 70% of what was there but we really only scratched the surface....if you read, watched & listened to everything available there you could spend WAY more hours.  They covered the history of music back to its roots, thru all its trends (yes,,,,even Disco which VoR still argues isn't really music), popular genres to political impacts & then some.

If you love music...any style (okay...maybe not classical, which I argue isn't real music...wink, wink)...this is for sure a "YOU GOTTA GO HERE"!!! destination for your books

-Etta May-

Monday, October 24, 2016

Makin' Tracks - Our Grand Road-Trip Adventures

Hope you will enjoy my new ongoing series...

Since relocating to a more east-central part of the Great White North, VoR & I have taken to the road to discover what is around us...since we are both westerners by birth this is as one Capt James T. Kirk would say "The Undiscovered Country"....yup...I am a "Trekkie" thru and thru..."live long and prosper"....rabbit holed that right off track again...."squirrel!!"
ANYWAY...we have only in the last year or so realized just how close things like Boston, (Massachusetts)... Kennebunkport, (Maine)... Ben & Jerry's & Cabot Cheese factories (Vermont)and the White Mountains of New Hampshire really are.  Some are a little longer drive then others but all within a good solid day trip....who knew?!?!?!?

We have spent a week here and there but it all started off  in 2014 with a week in beautiful mountains of New Hampshire and a ride on the historic Cog Railroad up the side of the mountain....spectacular for sure!!!  We did some short day trips to Maine coast to wandered the shops of  the board walk, breathe in the Atlantic Ocean & taking a peek at the summer home of US President George Bush (41st one) in Kennebunkport.  The Autumn leaves were so bright and colorful as we meandered thru those New England states. The next day trip was to Boston, Mass to attend the LDS Temple there. It was another beautiful building and such a refuge from the business of the world.  We are so blessed to have sacred places of peace to go and feed our spirits and prepare to face whatever the world has coming our way.

Our next trip was to Smuggler's Notch, Vermont last spring.  There we found some REAL treasures....Benn & Jerry's Ice Cream factory....need I say more????  We also came across the Cabot cheese's my favorite tasting cheese so of course we had to tour and shop at both...YUM!!! I have to admit to being a map reader....even in this time of GPS and much to the mocking of my children...but there are just some treasures of info that is on the printed paper...for example...I was just looking at the Vermont one while VoR was filling the car and discovered (not far down the road) was a granite quarry. Now never having seen one...I thought it would be fun for a little side trip...why not...that''s what a VaCa is all we got there only to discover on the tour that this particular quarry supplied the granite for the outside of the Bountiful , Utah LDS temple as well as the 38.5 ft monument at the birth place of Joseph Smith Jr. in Sharon, Vermont....our next stop....WAY COOL & a neat "happened to find".

The visit to Sharon was really wonderful. We got there late afternoon and so it was peaceful and the sunlight was just perfect coming just above the trees.  The tour guide for our private tour took us around to the west side of the monument and had us back up just a bit so that the light hitting the top of the monument shone so bright it was blinding. The spirit and sacredness of that place along with the significance (the monument being 38.5 ft, one for ever year of his life) to the life of that one humble boy with the ginormous faith that began there was not lost on either of us

We have had a bunch of fun adventures...some grander then others but we have every intention of continuing to plan & discover the cool things there are to see on both sides of our neighboring countries...along with any outlet malls that happen to wonder along our path

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Final Touches


So if I am being totally honest...(which is the mission statement of this blog...if you haven't noticed that all ready...but I digress) the only REAL positive in a Breast Cancer diagnosis (that includes a full mastectomy) that happens at the end of treatment are those new "perky" boobs (either implants or your own tissue) & tummy tuck ....come on I know I am only speaking the truth..cause those are the 2 top wishes for nearly all of us... who have birthed and breast fed our babies

Soooo...let me first remind you that I am fully immersed & a life-time member of the "2%" club. We are the chosen ones that are commonly dealing with the "unlikely but just in case" list of weird/less common,"it happens to one in a million happens to"....worst case scenario side effect...I AM SOOOO OVER IT!!! It is so bad that my family Doctor actually looks at the bottom of the side-effects list for red flags before she prescribes ANY medication to me....sigh!  

I met with my plastic surgeon this last week to have a "no holds barred" appt. to see exactly where we are at.  After much talk and examination it was deemed too risky for me to undergo the HUGELY long & meticulous procedure of reconstruction.  Needless to say those perky boobs and tummy tuck are just not in the cards for me. I knew I was fighting an up hill battle when you consider my weight...1.75 above the benchmark of 30% BMI which hasn't changed in 3 yrs no matter what I do. It just hasn't changed all even with the daily hour long lap swim and mindful diabetic eating. You add my diabetes (perfectly controlled and below the diabetic benchmark...BTW) & the physical changes my body experiences when exposed to my allergens and you've got 2 of the 3 sides of sides of the perfect trifecta of events then throw in  (thanks radiation treatment)the mastectomy scars being deep and very tight  and we have created breast cancer's "Perfect Storm"....(batten down the hatches boys it's getting a smidge bumpy). She tells me that the risks are just too high for me she and that she couldn't/wouldn't consider doing again my options are limited to reduction and uplift of the left boob or complete removal of it...both of which are very easy short day surgeries. If I left it there and fixed it....which isn't really a solution since it would still be there messing with my ability to wear most clothes...and yes...a bathing suit (which is still really funny to me that I worry about things like that now)....or the complete removal (commonly called "prophylactic mastectomy") are the only 2  options I have. What really got to me was the fact that once again, it no longer was MY decision...landing me again in a situation completely out of my control. 

I'm honestly and truly okay with me evolving from "The Uniboober" to "The Unboober"...

Now you can imagine this perfect storm + the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under me again and WHAM!!!!....I am drowning my anger at this ever giving Troll in some pumpkin spice cookie dough and proceed to have the biggest "mad at the world" pity party in history.  When I began this cancer journey everything moved at light speed & I truly only retain control of a VERY FEW things (sometimes my control was really just an illusion but I held on tight to it) so when this final(I hope) rug was pulled out from under me that final time that primed storm came down with avengence...mine lasted 8 hrs....luckily no one around to watch it.

Now I will admit that the ever present still small voice that guides me clued me into this possibility several weeks ago...then randomly VoR tells me that he's OK with the removal option...he just glad and thankful that I am still here.  We all know he has nothing to do with it....that it's totally MY body...and that he's just not that kind of controlling weaselly guys fixated on the outside appearance (we all know more then our share of those kind)..he soooo gets the eternal big picture  Interesting how I had been pondering it anyway but to have him show that kind of support is AMAZING!!  He is ALWAYS my anchor and example.

Anyway...when the dust settled....I am at total peace sitting where I am with the new view of my future....& once again at the beginning of yet another "waiting list"...I sure hope this one goes faster then the 3 yrs I have been on this last one....sigh

Etta May