Did you know?—Actinic keratoses, skin cancer, and photodynamic light

Did you know?

I have been fighting actinic keratoses and skin cancer on my face and scalp for several years now. Nothing serious, just ugly and itchy.

Last month my new dermatologist recommended a procedure called PDT (Photodynamic Light). Wow. What a procedure. I can highly recommend it, though.

More interestingly for me is that I got 16 opioid pills to alleviate pain. I can’t say that they specifically alleviated any pain but they did let me sleep up to six hours.

I have been a “polyphasic sleeper” all my life, so sleeping up to six hours was quite interesting, especially since I had dreams for the first time in my life. I always died in the dreams, which is when I woke up.

Now that I’m out of opioids, I’m back to sleeping “normally” for me, up to 2½ hours at a time. No dreams.

All of that makes me wonder just what effects opioids have on all those people who are addicted to them.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Out & About—Poppies everywhere!

Out & About The World

So far in 2019 I have had 37¾ inches of rain at my front door. Other parts of Southern California also have been getting a lot of rain, and lots of rain in January & February mean lots of flowers in the mountains and deserts in March & April.

Yesterday I went to see the supper poppy bloom in Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California. I love mass plantings, especially flowers, and the supper poppy bloom now ranks #1 on my list, ahead of the Texas bluebonnets in the Houston/Austin/College Station area and the tulips at the CN Tower in Toronto.The poppies are California poppies, the official flower of the State of California. Enjoy them in their native habitat!

There were People, Parking, People Parking, Poppies, Poppy Parking, Puppies, Puppy Packing, and Purple flowers (for contrast):

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What to do in retirement….

Back in 2003, I stopped by a plant nursery in Solana Beach, California, after a home inspection. I had never been to it, did not know about it, and simply stumbled upon it while delaying going home in rush hour traffic. I used to include 10% discount coupons to the nursery in my home inspection reports, and I know that many of my home inspection clients used the coupons.

Fast forward to 2017. I stopped by Solana Succulents to tell the owner that I had retired as a home inspector. He thanked me for all the years of sending my clients to his nursery. He gave me free copies of his first two books that he had authored, “Under the Spell of Succulents” and “Soft Succulents.”

Jeff Moore books

He had a third book, “Aloes & Agaves in Cultivation,” that was in the process of being printed, and he was starting on a fourth book to be titled “Spiny Succulents.” I went home and immediately started reading the two books and looking at the glorious pictures.

Since I was a copyeditor and writer for the Department of Chemistry, the College of Science, and the University Press at Texas A&M University from 1983 to 1987, as well as the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University for six months in 1987, I have this habit of looking for errors in my reading materials—makes it really fun to read the uncorrected advance editions of novels that my husband brings home from Warwick’s bookstore at the San Diego Airport.

After several pages, I noticed that there were a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors, as well as some word use (“compliment” instead of “complement”) and spelling errors (it’s for its). I went back to page one and decided to make a list. Whenever I find a huge number of errors, I always inform the author, and that’s what I did with Jeff Moore’s books.

Fast forward another two years. Jeff asked me if I would like to do the final editing and design layout on his “Spiny Succulents” book. I was an easy sale. I got the pages on January 30. 350 pages to edit and create the final layout. I just finished page 139.

I wanted to share a few pictures of some of the beautiful plants in the book. You’re getting a free look that no one else has had. These are low-resolution pictures specifically for my WordPress blog. Enjoy!

Front Cover
Front cover

Adenium obesum
Adenium

Turbinocarpus pseudopectinatus
Turbinocarpus pseudopectinatus

Collection

Collection

Euphorbia woodii
Euphorbia woodii

Euphorbia pulcherrima
Yes, the Christmas poinsettia is a succulent!
Euphorbia pulcherrima

Trichocereus hybrids
Trichocereus hybrids

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Saving throwaway pictures

How I Did It

I took a picture this morning of two black tree monitors (Varanus beccari) cuddling in the Reptile House at the San Diego Zoo. Sadly, the picture is focused on the leg of one of the monitors:

Varanus beccari

It’s a poor picture. Many photographers would call it a “throwaway” and promptly delete it. Not me. As my wise old grandmother told me: “Don’t throw anything away! There is no away!”

Hint for taking pictures of wildlife: Focus on the eyes; everything else will fall into place.

Since have so many different picture editing software programs, I decided to see if I could make something “artsy fartsy” out of it.

Here’s the one I like the most (so far!), using Fractalius G4 software by Redfield:

Varanus beccari

Considering what digital photo editing software was available 20 years ago, I wonder what I might be able to do with “throwaway” pictures in another 20 years.

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A Piece Missing—They probably would have been called nightmares!

A Piece Missing

Relevant music for your reading enjoyment:

“Mad World” by Tears for Fears, 1982

“Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, 2001
(from the movie “Donnie Darko”)

“Mad World” by Adam Lambert, 2009
(from the eighth season of “American Idol”)

I never had a dream that I can remember until a few months ago. Now it seems I’m dreaming every night, and I remember the dreams, and the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had….

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother used to find me awake in my room in the middle of the night, with a flashlight, reading. That was shortly after she adopted me in December 1965, just a few months short of me turning 11. At first she got upset, and punished me. However, after many nights of catching me not sleeping, she finally took me to the doctor, the same doctor (Dr. Newell) who had brought me into this world on March 11, 1955, at 11:58 p.m. After an extensive physical exam, including my first check for hernias (I will always remember the first Zoey the Cool Cat on the bookshelftime someone else touched my junk!), he diagnosed me as “a catnapper.”

I have been a catnapper all my life, but I have learned to use it to my advantage. I used to tell my bosses that if they needed anything done overnight that I could make it happen. Eventually, bosses were approaching me at 4:45 p.m. with work that needed to be done by 5:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. for our East Coast clients). Russel was on it! No problem!

Using it to my advantage didn’t mean that I was happy being a catnapper. I spent many thousands of dollars at Boston Medical Center, Houston Medical Center, and UCLA Medical Center trying to find out what was wrong with me that I couldn’t sleep more than three hours at a time, never reaching REM sleep, and never dreaming.

Finally, I got involved in a sleep study here in San Diego THAT PAID ME instead of me paying them. After nine consecutive days (two weekends and a week) of sleeping in a laboratory, the doctors diagnosed me as a “polyphasic sleeper.”

WTF

A catnapper!

Prior to 1989, we were catnappers. Now we are polyphasic sleepers.

I’m still a polyphasic sleeper, getting my 8-10 hours of sleep each day in increments of 30 minutes or so every 4-6 hours. However, when I finally hit the sack for the last time, around midnight to 2:00 a.m., I am able to sleep for 5-6 hours. I’m fairly certain that my newfound sleep and dreams are related to new medications.

That means that I enter REM sleep and get to dream.

And the dreams are vivid!

Firestarter, by Stephen KingThey seem to be based on movies and TV shows I have enjoyed, especially Stephen King movies, science fiction movies (Star Trek, Star Wars), TV shows (The Time Tunnel, and back to Star Trek).

And I always die.

And I always wake up the moment I’m killed.

And I always remember them.

Pretty cool….

Although I will admit that I’m probably lucky that I didn’t have these dreams when I was a child. They probably would have been called nightmares!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—The Flower Fields open today!

Out & About San Diego

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad open today and remain open through May 12.

Their specialization is the giant ranunculus, which they grow on about fifty acres. There are another five acres of other flowers: roses, petunias, columbines, water lilies, geraniums, sweet peas, poinsettias, cacti & succulents, and more.

If you’re in the San Diego area during this time, I can highly recommend a visit to The Flower Fields.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

There are lots of activities for the family, as well. They often have a maze for the children that is created out of tall walls of growing sweet peas plants, all in flower.

Instead of being forced to go through a gift show on your way out, you’re forced to go through what I believe is Armstrong Garden Centers’ biggest and best nursery.

If you don’t spend the whole day in The Flower Fields—I do!—there is a lot more to see and do just around the corner:

  • LegolandLegoland with its awesome SeaLife Aquarium
  • Museum of Making Music where budding musicians, as well as musicians in full flower (puns intended!), can play drums, guitars, and quite a few other instruments
  • Green Dragon Tavern & Museum with great New England cuisine and a Revolutionary War Museum.

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Out & About—San Diego’s snow-capped mountains

Out & About San Diego

I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. It was to be my last stop on my attempt to find a place to live outside of the Great Nation of Texas. I considered myself retired from all previous professions, so I spent my time visiting all the beaches between Mexico and Los Angeles. Gawd I was having a good time.

One day, while playing beach volleyball with some friends and new acquaintances, someone suggested going skiing. Well, we’re at the beach so what could be more logical than hopping in a boat and going skiing on the great Pacific Ocean. Ha! That’s not what the suggester had in mind. He wanted to go snow skiing. Uh, we’re in San Diego. There’s no snow anywhere for miles around.

I was only partially right. Snow and ski resorts were only 90 miles away. I had been snow skiing several times before so I was game. We headed to Big Bear, California, and spent the rest of the day snow skiing.

Several years later, I saw a picture of downtown San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background. I thought it had been photoshopped until I saw it for myself a few years later.

I have been trying for 23 years to get my own picture of San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background. Absent an airplane, helicopter, or hot-air balloon, the only place to get such pictures was Point Loma, about 40 miles due west of the mountains.

For me to get such a picture, not only would it have to snow down to about 1,800 feet above sea level, but it would have to be a beautifully clear day to see all that way through clouds, fog, and smog. Although it snows down to 1,800 feet every five years or so, clear days while the snow exists are few and far between.

When I woke the morning of February 22, 2019, I learned that it had snowed in Alpine, just 7 miles east of where I live, and right at 1,800 feet above sea level. I knew the higher-elevation mountains would be covered in snow, lots of snow.

I can see the mountains from my house, and they had lots of snow on them. It was a beautifully clear day at 7:00 a.m., so I immediately headed to Point Loma. The result of my trip is the three pictures below.

San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background

San Diego with snow-capped mountains in the background

The first picture was taken from Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. The second picture was taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, also on Point Loma. Here’s another picture which includes part of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery:

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, downtown San Diego, and snow-capped mountains

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