Spring is popping out all over in Coronado, an island in the southern part of California. We meandered around the neighborhood on a sunny afternoon, looking for color and life. A rainbow of blooms greeted us on our walk.
The cliffs of Point Loma in the San Diego area draw visitors from all over to explore and enjoy. The crashing waves provide the sound track, and the wind blows through your hair as you breathe in the salty air.
What a great way to spend a weekend afternoon, taking in nature with its instability, ever-changing tidal patterns, cliffs and arches, and at bottom, solid rock. Nothing stays the same, just as life, and the beauty and aging are all wrapped up in one place. Even the moody skies are constantly on the move across the horizon.
What do you enjoy when the weather warms up and spring pulls you outdoors? One of my favorite places to go is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. I love to tromp around on the point of land that holds this old restored lighthouse.
Built in 1855, it not only contained the light but it was also home to the keeper’s family. You can imagine the children filling the small place with laughter. I bet the youngsters had fun on the spiral stairway leading to the light.
The romance of the “old” is clearly a draw more than a century after it shined its light. Visitors flock here to tour the little house, climb up the winding stairs, and marvel at life on this windy promontory.
How is this season looking for you? Yellow cheer blooms along the lake path this time of year. I took in all the beauty on a walk recently and thought about the uphill road I’ve been on for a few months. Maybe you’ll find some encouragement in reading a bit of my story.
What is it like to hear those words you thought were always for someone else? “You have cancer.”
While each of us knows we are not immune, the shock of reality bashing into what was only a vague concept is brutal. My road got pretty rocky within the space of one hour at the doctor.
I’m in the middle of my adventure with cancer. Here’s a bit of what I’ve experienced so far. Of course, everyone’s journey is different. I don’t know the treatment or outcome for me, so I can’t say what “works” or not. But by talking through some of what’s happened, I hope you’ll know a bit more about what it’s like. I hope you’ll find encouragement for a time when you or a friend or family member is suddenly launched on this path.
A year slipped by since my doctor gave me a reminder card for a mammogram. My results had always been normal, so why take time off work to go for this test? With the new year, new calendar, new schedule that came with retirement — OK, I would make the appointment and go. The results came back with the bottom line highlighted in yellow:
Normal mammogram with no evidence of malignancy.
Good news! But the long, involved fine print talked of a “focal asymmetry.” I was to go back for an ultrasound.
Later, more than one doctor expressed dismay that I received a highlighted printed result informing me there was no malignancy.
Partly because I did have more time to spend in a medical office, I made an appointment for an ultrasound. Just to check it out. My reading showed that “focal asymmetry” was usually some kind of shadow and turned out to be nothing of concern.
In the waiting area, clad in a little blue paper vest and my jeans, I thought about my life. For some reason, sitting there all alone with medical people bustling about, I decided to look back at the times my life was spared when I could have so easily not made it.
First, I had polio at age 2. So many polio patients didn’t make it, or ended up affected the rest of their lives. (Think President Franklin Roosevelt in his leg braces and wheelchair.) My leg healed to the point where my parents couldn’t remember which leg was afflicted. Then there was the time at age 9 I rode my bike down a busy street on a hill and somehow veered in front of a car. The driver, a family friend, later told my parents if he hadn’t been “able to stop on a dime” I would have been hit. More recently, there was the rush-hour accident when my car was smashed between two SUVs. As I ricocheted back and forth with sounds of metal crashing, I really did think this was it. My car looked like a taco, folded front and back, but I was able to stand up and walk away with just a few bruises. (Shout out to Toyota for making a crumple-free driver’s zone.)
So God allowed me to live a healthy life thus far, and I know I’m in his hands past, present, and future.
And then the pleasant nurse called my name.
The ultrasound tech was nice but quiet as she looked at the screen. And there it was, so clear even my untrained eye could tell immediately she had found a tumor. She zoomed in and took “stills,” said she would be back with the doctor, and then left the room.
In no time the doctor came back with the tech.
“You have cancer.”
The room immediately went foggy brown. The two women stood over me as I sat on the exam table and I looked from one to the other. They were in monochrome. I had trouble focusing. I definitely had trouble formulating words.
The doctor volunteered that the next step would be a biopsy to confirm cancer. I was probably looking at a lumpectomy with radiation. I would stay a night or two in the hospital.
Out in my car, I texted my husband and a few others about the “not good news.” I needed time to gather my wits before I drove home. Immediate texts and calls came, which would be the start of an amazing support system that continues to grow and sweeten.
The refrain “I have cancer” rung in my mind as I drove home. I was on an adventure, one I would gladly forego, but one to delve into because my life depends on it.
Meanwhile, I’m focusing on the spring blooms that grow wild for a only a few weeks each year. And they are at their peak right now!
What signals spring for you? One of the most welcome signs of the season for me is blooming lilacs. We don’t have them where I live, but they are in the mountains about an hour’s drive from my home. The trick is that they bloom only a short time, and I’ve missed their show the last few years.
This year, I wound up the mountain in search of daffodils, another spring favorite. The early warm temperatures brought these out weeks ahead of schedule and they were almost all withered and gone. But the good side of the balmy weather is that the lilacs are early, too. What a welcome surprise!
What does gold rush country look like today? One place you can visit to find out is Santa Ysabel in California. Gold found in nearby Julian in 1870 triggered a rush of ranchers and fortune seekers. This was a stagecoach stop along the Butterfield route, too. The general store built to provide supplies and feed for livestock during the boom times survives today. This historical landmark is preserved to look just as it did in the 1800s.
So much history has passed through this adobe building. It’s been a post office and a barber shop as well as a store. It’s a fun stop when you are driving along Highway 79. You’ll likely be in your car, but listen carefully and you’ll hear echoes of the stagecoaches that thundered by so long ago.
If you’re heading Big Sur way, along the scenic Highway 1 coastline drive in California, take time to find and savor an almost-hidden jewel. The Henry Miller Memorial Library is in a small house in this area where the author lived. He moved here from Europe in 1944 and lived here 18 years. This ramshackle building set in a grove of tall redwoods is more of an experience than a museum.
Look up, look down and you’ll find something intriguing. The fluttering collection of money from visitors around the world continues to grow.
Here’s your invitation from the library’s website: “Come on in for a visit, make yourself a cup of coffee, browse our books, and hang out with Theo the cat on our deck.”
The library provides rich atmosphere for concerts and other events. The day we discovered the library, preparations for a wedding were underway.
Henry Miller’s writing was unconventional. So is the library opened in his honor. Though some of his writing is controversial, here’s a quote that’s not:
Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.
I believe even Theo the cat could agree.
How about you? Have you discovered a hidden treasure of a place lately?
These soft white tulips perfectly display the beauty of our earth, don’t they? These were a gift from my family. I carried the vase from room to room to see how lovely they look with different backgrounds.
How about you? What’s decorating your day today?
Linking up with Image-in-ing, Little Things Thursday, Wednesday Around the World, The Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, and Life Thru the Lens. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is the old hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.”
When love takes a tangible form like roses and tulips and daisies, you can bask in that love for days. Family and friends have been so kind to send me bouquets of beauty during the last month of health challenges. Flowers greeted me on the doorstep when I arrived home from surgery last week. More came the next day by surprise delivery. They are bouying me up, reminding me that people out there do indeed love me. When you’re recuperating, you may need meds and care and someone to fill your ice water. (Thank you to my husband, best nurse ever!) But in another sense, the love you know is swirling out there is what you most need to pull you along to recovery. Here’s the basket of cheer sent by my daughter and son-in-law.
Linking up with Image-in-ing, Little Things Thursday, Wednesday Around the World, The Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, and Life Thru the Lens. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles.
Do you know the historical roots of your town? A piece of the history of San Diego is preserved in the delightful Old Town of this California coastal city. You can travel back to the mid 1800s as you stroll the wide streets and wooden sidewalks. Buildings from this era are open to the public.
Old Town is thought of the first “city” in the entire state. A Spanish settlement formed after Father Junipero Serra set up the first in a line of 21 missions here. The vivid colors of Mexico and lovely tile work can be found everywhere.