Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Year Three Begins

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only 
you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful 
lest you let other people spend it for you.

-Carl Sandburg

I am sitting at the dining table of our dear friends  Liz and Carl Radford near Glasgow, Scotland. We are winding down a wonderful trip of three weeks in England, Scotland and Switzerland and will be heading home on 12 July.

An entire year has passed since my last posting and it's been a busy one. In the fall I had an exhibit of my photographs at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite. I was lucky enough to have several good friends attend including Bill Schwab from Michigan and David "Ike" Eisenlord from Minnesota as well as Carol and Sarah.

Ansel Adams Gallery Exhibit
I taught a number of workshops and was lucky to have teaching assistance from Ike as well as my daughter Sarah. Gayle graduated with a degree in health sciences from UC Santa Cruz and Sarah graduated from El Dorado High School and is heading to UC Santa Barbara in the fall. Sarah turned 18 in April, I turned 52 in May, we celebrated Carol's 55th in the Swiss Alps four days ago and yesterday we had a wonderful birthday dinner for Gayle's 22nd at a fantastic Thai restaurant in Glasgow. So many changes and life continues to roll along at an ever faster pace. Each year seems shorter that the one before.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of my brain surgery. Being in Scotland is significant because on the day of my surgery we had been scheduled to fly to Scotland and being here now completes that loop. Overall, I am doing well. It's clear that anxiety attacks and bouts with depression are with me for the long haul. Whether they are a sign of getting older or the result of having my brain slightly rearranged can't be known for certain. Luckily, I've learned how to manage them fairly well with the help of a good therapist, an occasional pharmaceutical and a loving life partner. I continue to feel lucky things have worked out as well as they have as I've lost a couple of friends over the last year and another is now struggling with brain cancer.

Unfortunately, I have arthritis in my right hip that has gotten significantly worse over the last year and has made getting around more difficult. It looks like a new hip is closer on the horizon than I had hoped. Arthritis runs in the Kouklis genes. My dad had both of his hips replaced in his lifetime and I always remember my grandfather's arthritis-induced shuffle and his hands gnarled by the disease. We're lucky to live in times that such major surgery is routine, but of course, I still dread it. In discussing the surgery with my GP, he recalled observing hip replacement surgeries in med school and thought they always seemed a bit like carpentry with all the sawing and hammering and power tools. Yes, he has a bit of a warped sense of humor and that's one of the things I like about him. For now, I've had a cortisone shot and take some meds to ease the pain. I also have a walking stick (I refuse to call it a cane because those are for old people) that I use when the pain is bad.

We're now mostly packed and ready to leave our beloved friends and bonny Scotland in the morning. I was hoping to make time to write some more, but I want to finish this post while we're still on this side of the pond. As ever, I am grateful to the friends and family that have stood by and lent a hand or a shoulder when needed. And please know that I am here to return the favor whenever it may be needed.

Love and peace to you all.

A few pictures from this trip:

Workshop at The Clocktower in England's Lake District
Hooligans (With Carl Radford and Tim Soar)
My new Celtic Ink
Sister Harry Potter Tats
In Edinburgh with Carl and good friend Clay Harmon from N. Carolina

Bothwell Castle, Scotland

Swiss Alps at Sunset
Clouds over the Alps

 Trummelbach Falls in the Swiss Alps
Glacial melt near Grindelwald, Switzerland
Gayle and Sarah are happy about lunch at Wagamama in Glasgow!

Need I say more?