Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What does it mean to be a Cancer Survivor?

Those of you who have had Cancer will know what I am talking about. Those of you who have loved someone who has had Cancer will guess what I am talking about. But those of you who have never had Cancer and have been blessed with friends and family who never had Cancer, can only wonder.

For the first several years after having Breast Cancer, I was scheduled to be checked every 3 months for the possibility of a recurrence. I would go into my oncologist office and would have my blood drawn, my weight taken and a breast exam done. I would then go to the Breast Center and have my mammogram and wait for the word. In the beginning I would get a call. "All clear!" I'd say phew (realizing I hadn't exhaled since going in) and then go have a glass of champagne.

About a year after I had my surgery, on the same side where I had my Cancer I felt a huge lump. It hurt somewhat and I worried that it might be something I didn't want to know about. But I went straight to my surgeon and asked her to take a look. She said "Hey I don't think it is anything, but bet you would feel better if we just removed it. Am right?" And of course she was right. I didn't want to even think about it at all. The lump was scar tissue and quite benign.

About 2 years into the survival I had some strange symptoms form the Tamoxifen I was taking. I was having some unexplained bleeding (which could be uterine Cancer, a side effect for some people on this drug). I went into my OBGYN and told him I wanted a hysterectomy. I didn't want to ever hear the word Cancer again. So I had a complete hysterectomy... and took care of that worry.

As time passed, the length of time between checks have gotten longer.

But still each year I go to the oncologist, visit my gynecologist and keep a close eye on my one remaining breast. I do self exams, I follow up when I think something has changed, because I do not to ever hear the words "You have Cancer" again.

When a friend has had Cancer you hold your breath along with them through each scare, through each step. You survive together. You celebrate together when things are all clear...and if you are REALLY really lucky, you fight the fight against this disease together.

The best thing I have ever done for my survival is to walk in the 3 day.
With each step I take I am walking further and further away from the disease that almost took my life. With each dollar I raise I know I am helping to find the cure for this killer in my lifetime. And the thing is, in that crowd of walkers there are people just like you. They know what it takes to survive.

Walking with another survivor, especially your dear friend, you realize just how much power you have. You realize that power is multiplied by the strength of those who walk with you.

Today... I am going to drink a glass of champagne, for my friend and for me... because we are FIERCE, MIGHTY, SURVIVORS!

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking through a Lipinski painting

Mt. tam from Lucas valley by Kathleen Lipinski

Marin is filled with artistic people who have, in their own ways, expressed the beauty of this magical county in their writing, music and art. One of those artists is Katheen Lipinski. Her art has been painting Marin landscape for over 20 years. Glenn and I have a couple of her piece in our home. You can feel the warmth of the summer and the scent of the warming grass in her work like the one above as well as you can feel the kiss of the ocean's breeze floating over Bon Tempe Lake in this painting below.
It is a gift to capture the feeling of the air, the smell of the land, the sounds that surround you through art. Kathleen has that gift.

Mt Tam and Bon Tempe by Lipinski

This morning began when Glenn and I rendezvoused with Patti and John at the Bayside to get our final checks in the mail for our San Juan cruise in August. I arrived in my walking clothes and Patti asked if I was going to take a walk - which, of course I was hoping to do. Since I was dropping Glenn off in San Rafael this morning, I went through all the possibilities for a 3 hour walk in that vicinity.

I could go to China Camp.... Done that.... I could walk to Fairfax.... done that.... to San Anselmo to Greenbrae...done that. One place I haven't yet explored was Terra Linda. So I headed for Northgate Shopping Center where I parked my car and headed out.

I have sold homes of course in Terra Linda and shown many more, but I didn't really know what was at the end of Freitas Parkway. I was about to find out.

Freitas parkway is a four lane road with a large divider running down the middle.
Luckily the way was dotted with trees and oleander bushes, because as the sun rose higher in the sky, the chill was being replaced by a building heat.

The first half of the way was relatively flat and was easy peasy... and then it began getting progressively steeper. I walked by houses, Scotty's market, finally the two Home Owner Associations that sit at the end and found myself at the beginning of a bike trail.

They called this the Sleepy Hollow divide. I had heard there was a fire road that the kids at San Domenico are told about. They are to evacuate the school in case of fire in the canyon via this road. There were probably 20 cars sitting at the end of the road, and as I walked along I saw that this is quite a popular place to be. LOTS of people walking their dogs. Despite the bike route sign I only saw one bike, but it was 9:30 on a Tuesday morning. I even ran into our receptionist Meg and her son walking their dogs... small world up there in the hills.

As I walked along I looked back over Terra Linda and
thought how pretty those California hills are. They framed the verdant village below, making it look like a cool and comfortable haven.

Once I hit the crest of the road I looked down on San Anselmo. But what I was looking at was Brookside School, not Sleepy Hollow...I walked on...

There was an estate sitting at the edge of this open space that looked like a place I would like to live. they had a beautiful pool, vineyards and a tennis court.

The further I walked the more I felt like I was becoming a part of a beautiful landscape painting. A really good one. One where you can smell summer and feel the heat of a 90 degree day.

And there it was, the view. I have seen this view in many artist's works.Our venerable Mt. Tam standing watch over the people below. The blue sky softening as it touches the horizon.

The grass as it crunches under your feet....

The sound of the trail as you kick a loose rock....

The traces of rain gone by...

I looked at my watch and saw I needed to turn back in order to make some of my business appointments. When I had Sleepy Hollow in my sights and could make out the end of the Hollow, I headed back.

But first I took a picture. I really do love Sleepy Hollow...

Most of the wildflowers have gone... but these tiny purple ones were here and there.

I was looking for shade on the way back. the temperatures had climbed.

There was a very cool home set at the end of a San Anselmo Road... I don't think you can make it out. It had a curved retaining wall and a very modernistic design.

Someone's artistic soul was moved by the lose rocks from a landslide.

That little guy out of that big pile

One more look at my dream house. Courts on the right, house above.

Then I was back on the Parkway and the oleanders.

And to Northgate II and Jamba Juice

And then...NORTHGATE and the car....
And did I say it was hot???? The car temp (admittedly hotter than outside) was 91. It dropped a whole degree on the freeway.


By the time I got home, I was enjoying the mild temperatures of Tam Valley. After taking a quick shower I headed into work and found a package.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

By hook or crook - By sea and land

Part of the wonderfulness of living in the San Francisco Bay area is... well the bay! There are so many places to visit. From the bay you can go all the way to our State Capital in Sacramento, or up a river to Napa. You can explore the estuaries of Alameda, the state park at Angel Island or tie up off the Embarcadero of San Francisco. And as you can imagine all this exploring can be better by boat.

Our boat, Hazardous Waste for the past 10 years has been preoccupied with racing on most weekends. Being a Realtor, weekends are often my busiest time. Lately though the boat is more available as the guys have been racing less...and I have tried to make a point of finding more Saturdays to enjoy. This weekend, the NOODS (a one design racing weekend) would have taken Hazardous Waste out of the equation for a Saturday, but this weekend it was free. I suggested we try and roll a training walk into a sailing day, and so... we decided to sail to Treasure Island.

(Vinny taking a picture of Menage)

Dana invited his next door neighbor Vinny and his friend (fresh off the plane from Rome) Menage (sp) to join us. They parked their car on the island and the plan was to give them a ride from Sausalito to the island where they would drive back as we went walking.

(Menage at the Taj)

The morning was cool and it seemed like for the majority of it we sat at the edge of the fog. That means a couple of things. 1. It is cooler and 2. it is windier.

It's fun for me to take a few photos of the things I have walked by so many times on walks to the city. Like the Sausalito hillsides and the oldest home on this particular hill.

Shelter Cove in Sausalito

(Oak Cliff)
But for the guys I think our sail was fun to see the racers and the committees from a different angle, well equipped with wine in hand and a simple jib up.

(Setting buoys)

(Fort Baker/Cavallo Point)

(Getting ready)
I don't really know how many classes of boats were sailing but there seemed to be quite a few. The J-105s were racing on another part of the bay so we hoped to run into them on the way back.

These classic boats are wooden and oh so close to the water. Folk boats I think they are called. Glenn says they probably have been around for 100 years.

(Menage even jet lagged enjoyed the views)

(Lessons on wind breakers, and layer dressing on the bay)


(Photo ops)

(Yerba Buena)

(Bay Bridge to SF)

(Coast Guard house and lighthouse)

(Victorian architecture)

(Coast Guard station with buoys)

(Coast Guard ship)

They are constructing a new section of the Bay Bridge. The bridge as you may recall famously failed during the 1989 Loma Prieta quake when a section fell onto the lower level. The long overdo reconstruction has been slowed by politics, bad Chinese welding and other "shaky" problems. Who knows when it will be completed, we only know that as of now it is costing at least 8xs as much as originally budgeted.

They are making progress, but right now a lot of what you see is "temporary". In the end it is supposed to be beautiful. A one tower design sleek and modern.

Eventually we made the turn to Treasure Island, where for $20 we could have a dock key and a place to dock the boat.

Treasure Island was built out of fill, whereas its neighboring Yerba Buena Island is a natural island. On Treasure Island there has been a world's fair, a naval base. Now it is owned by the city of San Francisco who is deciding the scope of its use. Now slated is a huge high rise, a hotel and other housing, 20% of the housing is to be "low income." Keep in mind low income in SF is probably 48k a year. I know there are some Realtors around these days who would be proud and happy to be making that much!

Of course who ever is lucky enough to live here will have world class views of the city and Oakland and all the goings ons in the bay.... But they will also, in many parts, be buffeted by our wonderful winds and blanketed at times with that cool marine layer we also know as fog.

It was a great treat to be walking with my guys. Dana has been doing great on his training for the 3 day. He is approaching the whole process with the proper amount of reverence, following the suggested training schedule and buying good shoes. He was walking in his newest pair of shoes. I reminded him that it took me 4 pairs to settle on the right ones for me!
(I am pointing out the art deco design of the buildings and the sculpture to Dana)

On our way we passed a wonderful chapel and event building. I would love to plan a wedding here!

Look at the view from the building. Inside there's a bar and lots of space for your guests. We are standing in a sheltered patio. It would be a great place to have a party.

Some ham radio operators gathered nearby for a little BBQ and had their antennas up. One of them brought this Land Rover vehicle... Thought it was pretty cool.

I also though John Bott would appreciate it...

Kind of fun to take some photos of.....

The island was once full of naval families. There are lots of ball fields and little parks and play areas. Some of these have been abandoned and are fenced off (I hear there is something bad in the soil) .... Similarly there are many abandoned homes and apartments with warnings of toxic dangers like asbestos and radioactive material.
Not lost on us we came to the island on a boat named Hazardous Waste, so the whole thing didn't scare us... we walked on.

On the Oakland side of the island we stopped for some water...

And pictures...

Geez I guess I am short.

Glenn and I found this tasting room on our last visit to TI. We wanted to introduce Dana.

I am guessing he liked the wines! I dropped a Wine Wars card on them and Jim from Treasure Island Wines gave me his card and suggested I email him about the event. BUT.... my emails are being bounced back. (I think I shall do this the old fashioned way and send him more information in the snail mail...)

Because I really hope they can help us out on August 13th! I love to spotlight local good wines.

(Are the geese visiting too???)

(Old signs are all aorund the island)

Inside the old hangers that used to house the Pan American Clipper ships (Picture the plane that Indiana Jones flew in)... There are artists and film makers... Here these monkeys reminded me of my flying monkeys.

But this... this didn't remind me of anything but a bad dream.

here she waits for us...looking might pretty...Hazradous Waste.

As we headed away from the island we sipped on some wine, and the wind, well the wind started picking up.

We only had the jib up and the boat was moving smoothly through the water in 20+ knot winds.

And as the fog increased overhead, the J class came into view.

Winds now over 25k, we saw a spinnaker blow out
after rounding a mark.

My pants are definately not water proof, as the water came flying over, I was drenched.

And as I flew across the cockpit my wine flew across the boat. Landing on my wet bottom, I took a picture of the evidence....

Then... we finally reached the Lee of Angel Island, where the clouds parted and the wind abated, and Glenn looked like he could have taken a nap.

Off the immigration station people were enjoying the day.

(The Potomac)
As we made the turn to head back to Sausalito we played tag with the Potomac. This beautiful ship was FDR's and has been completely renovated. Now it is a floating museum.

I can picture the old President now...

Into Richardson Bay we meander up toward our dock.

(Mount Tam in the background)

(Passing a ship on the way home)

(Glenn...fog in the distance)

The sign we are home.... families of harbor seals and their tell tale ordor!

I don't remember seeing so many in past years... They seem quite content in the sun.

Home, we head off for another adventure on anther day.

You have to ask yourself, how did we get so lucky? Good news though for you without boats, we will recreate this or another boat adventure if you are the winning bidder in our Wine Wars live auction. One of the items is a day on the day with gourmet lunch... We promise we won't let you spill your wine! Have you RSVPed? see this and our other donations at

Hope to see you out there some day!

In the meantime we hope to see you at Wine Wars where we will be raising a glass and funds to end Cancer in our lifetimes!