Visit Las Vegas While It's Cool!

Vacation in Las Vegas at Polo Towers February 23-March 1, 2020

3745 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 USA

Vince said, “Cut the price in half!”

One-bedroom suite $1,022ย  for a week! So here you go! $511 for one WEEK in Vegas!

Polo Towers Resort Las Vegas
Polo Tower Suites right on the Las Vegas Strip

We have the perfect opportunity for you to relax and enjoy the Las Vegas Strip, or get out and enjoy the excitement – either works!

Las Vegas Strip outside of Polo Towers.

This beautiful 602 square foot one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is located on the Las Vegas Strip within walking distance from all the huge casinos. It conveniently comes with a free parking pass. 

Situated between the Miracle Mile of Shops and a strip mall which includes Ross, ABC, CVS makes your stay very comfortable and economical. The resort boasts two pools, a BBQ area, business center services, fitness center, laundry facilities, free WiFi, and local phone calls.

Las Vegas Rental Polo Towers

The view out of our Polo Towers suite on the Las Vegas Strip across from the Aria.

Showing that week are the Cirque du Soleil O, Michael Jackson One by Cirque du Soleil, Zoomanity, Penn and Teller, Blue Man Group and David Copperfield, and Chris Angel.

If you want to sightsee try Hoover Dam โ€“ 1 hour, Valley of Fire โ€“ 1 hour, Grand Canyon 4.5 hours, or Zion National Park 2.5 hours, Bryce Canyon National Park โ€“ 4 hours, and the other three National Parks within 7 hours of Las Vegas.

Polo Towers

Las Vegas Polo Tower Suites February 21-March 1, 2020

This beautiful 602 square foot one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is located on the Las Vegas Strip within walking distance from all the huge casinos. It conveniently comes with a free parking pass.

$511.00

Always Write Adopts a Section of the Woodlake Rose Garden

What are you doing with your business, church group, or your non-profit group? Have you considered gardening in a public garden?

The City of Woodlake has way more work than they can handle caring for the fourteen acres that is Woodlake Botanical Gardens. The founders, Manuel and Olga Jimenez and their non-profit, Woodlake Pride Coalition, manage all but the three acres designated as Woodlake Rose Garden. That Garden is divided into small sections and several groups have reached out to support it.

This little neglected area is about a third of the way along the Garden path. I probably should have counted the number of roses before I volunteered to adopt it, but I’m impetuous. With some community help, I think it’s doable.

There are probably about fifty roses on the property, several pomegranate trees and about 20 Rose of Sharon bushes and several clumps of overgrown Pampas grass. The tree front and center is a mystery to me.

Woodlake Rose Garden Floribundas
“Adopt us,” cried the roses as Chuck and I walked over to check out the Master Gardener’s well-groomed rose bushes.

What prompted me to adopt the garden is that it’s time to prune roses in CA. This is as cold as it gets, and you can still see roses in bloom on the bushes.

The Master Gardeners lead the way with their work in the Floribundas. Last year they held a training workshop at the Garden, and we have another one scheduled on January 25 from 11:00 – 2:00. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to make your roses gorgeous.

Pruned roses examples
Model section ready for the January 25th pruning workshop at the Woodlake Rose Garden.

The pruned roses looked so good I blurted out that I thought I could take care of one section. After I announced my decision on the internet, I told Mr. Write, AKA Vince, about my project.

“There’s an adorable cove that I did not even know existed in my new section. I bet you could create something really beautiful there.”

An almost secret garden in the middle of the Woodlake Rose Garden unadopted section.

Vince loved it and quickly came up with several ideas of what he might do with it. Meanwhile, I got started turning my new section into a Master Gardener amateur masterpiece.

My bucket is so handy to carry all my tools: loppers and clippers are essential but the knee pad allows me to work for two hours instead of three minutes. You can see my long-armed leather-like gloves peeking out of the bucket. Don’t even try to prune these thorny critters without them.

I advertised on Facebook for community members to help the day before, but that was pretty short notice. However, the Garden has its own regulars.

The first person I saw was Jose. He offered to help so I gave him the loppers. He can’t see well, but that didn’t stop him. He chopped the roses down to a manageable level. Then I dug them out a little farther. Leaves, old branch trimming, and cockroaches filled the center of the plant, so I cleaned them out with a trowel as I clipped the smaller branches.

One garden regular said, “Put your hair up in a ponytail, then it won’t get in your face.” Duh! Good advice – dress for success.

My friend Sally raked the unwieldy branches into piles so they wouldn’t trip walkers after she finished working in other parts of the garden.

Instead of the three or four rose bushes I might have been able to prune on my own, we pruned fourteen roses, and I even found an old label telling us what they are.

Coral Meidiland Floribunda rose
Coral Meidiland introduced in France in 1993 by hybridizer, Alaine Meidiland, it is a Floribunda shrub with lots of thorns. I can vouch for the thorns. It is shade tolerant and disease resistant. Good choice, Manuel!

Last year the Master Gardeners hosted a pruning class in the Garden. That information came in handy. It takes me a while to make the decisions as to which branches to prune, but the basic idea is to think of the rose as a bowl and clear out anything that points inward. They also say to prune off little branches and anything that is crossing.

Woodlake Rose Garden regular, Victor
My neighbor showed me how to add his name to his picture on my phone.

Meanwhile, a friend of Jose’s named Victor came up and said he couldn’t help but would love to help the next time I come. He pruned a Rose of Sharon tree and several rose bushes before he left an hour or so later. Working in the Garden is addictive!

Pruned roses
You can barely see the Rose of Sharon trees in the upper left of the picture.

On Sunday afternoon I returned and three people dropped by to say hi as I worked.

If you have a business, church, or a non-profit, this is a great way to get out of your own circle of acquaintances and make some new friends. Today I chatted with Jose, prayed with a woman on a motorized scooter, and chatted with a police officer who offered to help during my next workday, which is February 22.

pruned roses
The sign says, “Unadopted.” That’s changing to Always Write.”

If you live in Woodlake or nearby you might be interested in caring for this garden which has been dubbed a Tulare County Treasure. Let me know if you are interested in adopting a section of the Woodlake Rose Garden and I’ll get you connected.

Or you can just drop by and help me in my Always Write newly adopted section.

Always Write logo

End of the Cancer Journey

It’s way too weird to say that it’s been a joy to have cancer, but it has been. Mentally I know that God doesn’t send cancer or any sickness as a punishment. However, cancer changes you. For me, it has brought me into a closer relationship with God and with my husband and friends.

Remember when you were a kid and you did something wrong? You tried to hide it, but your parents found out and punished you. Afterward, you realized that they still loved you and you felt better.

That’s sort of how it’s been with me. I’ve been a Christian for a very long time, but it didn’t stop me from either making some terrible decisions or sinning. I was in a rut.

When you get cancer, everything else falls to the sidelines while you rush around going to doctors and hospitals trying to conquer this monster called cancer. Even those pesky bad habits that you know about and a few more that you never realized you had can’t hold a candle to the time and effort it takes to get cancer out of your system.

Like it or not. You’ve got other things on your mind. Praise God. He is merciful. Cancer has been a blessing.

But I’m exceedingly glad to be at the end of the journey – I hope. I am super tired of going in an getting my tissue expander filled with saline solution only to have it leak out before my next appointment. That doesn’t happen to everyone, so don’t panic if you have cancer and decide to do reconstructive surgery.

I complained of pain about two months ago, and to relieve the pressure, the surgeon put a needle into what he thought was the second fill port, only it wasn’t. There may be a moral of the story but I’m not sure what it is. Sometimes complaining is a good thing.

My plastic surgeon has had mercy on me, throughout the process.

  • First of all my surgery date should have been December 26, but we had friends coming from Australia on the 27th and I didn’t want to miss them. We had a big trip planned through California and then to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve. So he kindly postponed the surgery to January 30th instead.
  • He offered to remove the damaged tissue expander and replace it. That would have meant an extra surgery and an additional two weeks minimum recovery. I went in for the preparatory step of removing and replacing all the fluid – a forty-five-minute appointment instead of the typical three minute one. I decided that I didn’t want to expand my breast to a normal size B or possibly a huge C cup, after all. (Pop, there went that dream) He gave me a reprieve and said I didn’t need to come in until my surgery unless I wanted a fill. Yay! Freedom!
  • By week two I had lost so much fluid that I developed two very long and deep wrinkles. Wrinkles in your breast are not like wrinkles on your face. They are not only unattractive (not that anyone is looking) but very uncomfortable. They are more like gullies or drainage ditches. Not only that, after about a month of deflation, your tissue unexpands. So you are back to flat.
  • The nurse took pity on me and slipped me into his busy schedule for an emergency fill. He filled me with 220 ml instead of the normal 60. When I sat up, I literally couldn’t breathe normally. Very weird to be stretched that tight!
  • Two weeks later, at the end of our vacation, I was on empty again and in tears, because surgery was still nearly a month away and I’d leaked out 220 instead of 60 ml of fluid. I could feel it drizzle under my arm and imagined the salty water finding all the unhealed scars when I felt burning – the proverbial pouring salt on a wound. I imagined that the $64,000 pieces of cadaver tissue that makes the implant reunite with my body so much better were dissolving by saline solution. The nurse told me was that saline solution is what hospitals give patients that are dehydrated. Nothing to worry about. I looked at my fingers – no wrinkles. I was hydrated. I felt better and he added an additional 240 ml of fluid.
  • Better than that, he told me he would move up my surgery even if he had to work late and perform the surgery at the hospital instead of next door to his office at the surgery center.
  • Fortunately for him and for me, someone canceled their surgery and he had an opening for January 13th, six days later. YAY!

So in two days, I will be on my way to Fresno for my final surgery. The cancer is gone. To the outsider, I look as normal as I ever did, and I can start living my life without weekly trips to Fresno.

Enjoying a hike on our vacation two weeks before my third surgery.

I’m so very grateful.

  • To God for healing me.
  • For my husband who stood by me, put up with my moods, drove me to appointments, and took on the extra duties that I couldn’t do after each of the three surgeries I’ve gone through.
  • To Dr. Alsalihi for referring me to the “Dream Team,” as they are called.
  • To the professionals who diagnosed and did the tests that found the tumor when it was between stage one and stage two.
  • To the Dream Team – Dr. Hadcock, cancer surgeon, Dr. Perkins, oncologist, and Dr. Askren, the ever-patient plastic surgeon who performed the only elective surgery in the process.
  • For my friends who had brought us food, prayed, visited, called and wrote to me. They showed me in so many ways how much they loved and cared about me.

I hope you never get cancer. But if you do, know that I’m praying for you. You can get through it and be better than you were when you got it.

Lots of love to you all.

Winter Garden in Central California

Evening comes early now in Elderwood, CA. Mornings are chilly, yet the sun is still hot in the afternoon. It seems to be the perfect time of year to enjoy the fruits of winter gardening.

Many varieties of lettuce planted from nursery sets grow across the isle from broccoli planted from seeds.

I am not a gardener, but as a kid, I loved playing in the dirt. Nothing changed as I aged except now I have the time and space to play again. Each year I learn something new.

Vince read an article the other day that talked about growing enough food on an acre to make $20,000 a year. It told me to plant my plants much closer that they are supposed to be and to intersperse varieties. You can see in my broccoli bed above, I planted spinach and Swiss chard. Right now it looks pretty and sparse. That will probably change.

You can see at the end of my box some very healthy, happy onion sets in neat rows, those that the cats didn’t rearrange. Last year I learned that gophers love onions. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every day I would find a new fatality. This year I planted the sets in a raised bed with wire netting on the bottom to keep out those silly pests.

The rest of the box has not yet fully transitioned to a winter garden. I can’t bear to remove the marigolds. Last year I pulled off thousands of marigold flowers and kept ALL their seeds. I stored them in a clear plastic bag and only a few of the seeds escaped the solar cleansing of their sprouting power. This was one of the hardy few seeds that bore children.

Basil seeds, on the other hand, survived the Ziploc bags and are ubiquitous. The basil will wilt at the first frost, but they are all volunteers and I have more seeds than you can imagine. I cut them and keep them inside for Caprese salads, a favorite in an Italian household. The lemongrass seems indestructible. Along with cilantro, these spindly hairs of flavor spice up an Asian salad. Spinach and dill are reluctant to sprout. I’ve planted them both from seed packets I bought.

Vince wanted only flowers this year in this garden.

The pictures aren’t close up enough to show you that I do have a few flowers sprinkled in with the new strawbabies that I just planted yesterday from all the runners. I still have about 100 runners to plant somewhere if you’d like some strawberries for next spring.

I lined peas along the fence. The green starfish looking plant with light purple flowers at the end of the strawberries is a gift from my friend Sally.

I am also propagating more Mexican pansies that Manuel Jimenez cut from plants in the Woodlake Botanical Garden. The new ones sticking up against the fence behind the cauliflower look wilted now, but by spring I’m hoping that some of them make it. They have beautiful purple flowers and are very invasive, so if you have them, they are like mint – hard to remove.

Kale, hollyhocks may be in danger from either the ant, grasshopper or the truck, but I’m rooting for the plants to win.

I like to experiment, but not in an organized, scientific-write-everything-down way. A friend gave me some mint plants years ago. They took over my blueberries, so I tore them all out.

They still grew into a forest on the other side of the fence in my neighbor’s yard. I love the smell and the taste of them so I cut a few of them that started to invade my blueberry bushes again and stuck them into leftover pots. Guess what? You can’t kill them! They’re back. On the plus side, I hear that mint makes you lose weight. I guess it would if that’s all you ate.

In the picture below, you can see that I did plant some snapdragons for Vince. I planted two rows of spinach seeds to be a nice green contrast. Interestingly, cosmos, which had been planted this summer sprang up when I started watering, not spinach. And they didn’t stick to the nice straight rows I thought I had planted. Who knows what happened to all those spinach seeds.

Even the seeds love to frolic in the dirt. The flats of flowers I buy from the nursery are much better behaved.

Today I raked leaves to make a light blanket for the seedlings. I’ve heard that leaf mold is an excellent soil builder.

The cauliflower plants are big enough to see over the mounds of mulberry leaves, but I had to scratch a hole in them to find the strawberry plants.

Even though my garden is more walkway than garden, it’s amazing how many plants we can fit into this small space. My tiny garden produces much to keep me munching for the next few months. Imagine planting an entire yard as a garden!

So, are you gardening this winter? Or if you’re in Australia, this summer?

New Lease on Life

Lovely bouquet from our kids. Thanks, Jason and Carrie. They are my favorite colors. ๐Ÿ™‚

In my last post three months ago I shared that I had a successful lumpectomy to remove a stage one cancer in my left breast. Before the words had left the doctor saying that they got it all, she called back to say that the margins were not clear.

Not to worry, I was still stage two minus the lymph involvement and all I needed was a total mastectomy, but no chemo and radiation. I felt calm. Besides, I didn’t have much to lose.

I did not want to have the second surgery right away since it seemed like such a low risk and I had so much going on this fall. Friends advised me otherwise, and I’m glad they did. The cancer had riddled the breast, so waiting probably wouldn’t have been too wise.

Today I report that I have survived for over 48 hours of that procedure. My husband told the staff at the hospital that the main thing they could do for me in the hospital was to “feed me.” I want to thank the wonderful nurses at St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno. I remember Elsa and Melba, Caesar and Jen. Vince is trying to do the work of about 4 people! Pray for him.

An accidental shot of my lovely hospital gown.

I think my husband has survived but maybe not as well as I have. I want to thank the many friends who have brought food and sent well wishes. They mean more than you know unless you’ve been in this position. Or as Carol would say, “posi.”

I can do limited things. Eat, sleep, walk, play on the computer, watch tv, take the pain and antibiotic meds, repeat.

My main worries are: falling on my owie, (I did that the first time!) eating too much great food, and wearing out the welcome of my generous friends and hubby.

I still don’t know whether the stage or grade has changed, but either way, I have clear margins this time. At least so far.

Everyone asks me if I’m nervous. Honestly, I have not really worried about the surgery or outcomes thanks to my faith in God and the many, many prayers that have gone out for me. I trust that the outcome will be what He wants for me.

It has been a blessing to be in His care.

Wishing you all the best in your lives, and don’t panic if something like this or worse happens to you. God is able to comfort and care for you, too.