November 4, 2018

My mom, Maggie, came up to visit me. She arrived and went out to lunch, did a little shopping, and then went out to dinner. We watched a movie at home that evening.

The reason for her visit was to go to the doctor’s on Monday for her annual oncologist visit . Fifteen years ago, Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy. It was a grueling and heart-wrenching  process.

She said she would never go through it again.

November 5, 2018

When Maggie arrived at the doctor’s office, after a brief period of time, the oncologist decided he didn’t like what he was seeing. Her potassium was very high, she had a swollen belly, and she was complaining of general fatigue. She had had a “sick stomach” for months and was in pain that she had never told me about.

Based on that, he sent her next door to the emergency room/hospital to get some more tests. In the end, the doctors did a CT scan and discovered that she had tumors on her liver and lungs, as well as blood clots.

While she did make it out of the  hospital that day, she stayed in a motel that evening because she was exhausted, upset, hungry, and doesn’t like to drive at night.

Maggie called me that evening and told me she had a tumor in her liver, felt like she might die that night, and that she loved me. She also told me that she was planning to refuse all treatment.

November 6, 2018

Maggie returned home. She asked me to not post anything on social media because she wanted to tell her friends in person.

November 9, 2018

I was able to go down to the beach to see Maggie. I got there an she was called back to the Lincoln City hospital to do another CT scan with contrast to take a look at her veins.

It was an all afternoon event and she ended up with horrible bruising because they couldn’t find a vein and kept sticking her.

She told some of her friends when she went out to her weekly coffee group in the morning.

November 10-11, 2018

Me and Maggie spent the remainder of the weekend making plans and going over some emergency things. She also  made it clear that she would refuse all treatment and wanted to die at home. Preferably quickly.

Saturday she told me one of her legs was more swollen than the other, leading me to be concerned about a blood clot. When she finally spoke to the doctor, he said it probably was a blood clot, but that there wasn’t much they could do that they weren’t already doing (i.e. blood thinners.)

November 14-19, 2018

I stupidly listened to Maggie’s words and not my gut and went on a painting workshop. It was fun, but it ended up costing a lot of emotional comfort.

November 19, 2018

Maggie went into the Meridian Park Medical Center (Legacy Hospital in Tualatin) for a “routine” biopsy. She had neighbors take her as this was the day I was returning from my painting workshop.

She did not make it home that day because the doctors didn’t like her blood sugar levels, the fact she had a temperature, or her blood cell count. It was like they realized she was sick. Apparently the oncologist had just put in the order and hadn’t filled anyone in on what to expect.

They decided to keep her in the hospital and treat her with antibiotics for infection and insulin for the high blood sugar (yes, she’s a diabetic.)

November 20, 2018

I was able to drive up to see Maggie. She was in obvious pain, not entirely coherent, and very groggy. Toward midday, she seemed to wake up a little and we were able to talk.

Based on that, I talked to the nurses about that her being in the hospital was the complete opposite of what she wanted. They told me that they would talk to the hospitalist on duty; the hospitalist consulted with the oncologist and see what the situation was.

November 21, 2018

I returned as early as possible on Wednesday. Maggie was noticeably more awake and looking better, though still drifted into sleep without warning.

We hoped to meet with the fully informed doctor. But it was the oncologist who showed up.

He told us that the he was expecting the pathology report (from the biopsy) to reveal that she had lung cancer that had metastasized to her  liver. In  other words, a completely new cancer. He told us that there were some newer treatments, such as immunotherapy, that were sometimes was effective when combined with chemotherapy. He pointed out that not all treatments were as horrible as was she had originally gone through.

Maggie shook her head throughout and said she just wanted to die without pain.

At the end of the day, the oncologist returned to confirm stage 4 lung cancer with metastasis in the liver and possibly elsewhere.

Maggie and I confirmed that we were just interested in getting her home at that point. The various personnel thought we could leave the next day, so I went home and packed, thinking that we’d be heading back to Maggie’s house the next day.

We had a plan to use a local agency called Aging Wisely in conjunction with hospice to get through the next stages. However, various people were telling me that 24-hour staffing was not available near Maggie and that it would be a big challenge to get that in place.

November 22, 2018

I arrived expecting to collect Maggie and hit the road. It didn’t happen.

While Maggie seemed more awake than even the day before, she was agitated about the time, the traffic, and weather. I finally was able to establish that she was concerned that we wouldn’t get out of the hospital early enough to get home before dark and that when we got home there would be a lot to do and she’d be too tired and in too much pain and wouldn’t have anyplace safe to be.

I also talked to the hospitalist about her pain medication because Maggie told me she had had a terrible night before and felt like she had overdosed on pain medication. The hospitalist suggested a tweak to her pain meds.

Based on this information, I offered to drive down to the beach and set up the house, then return for her very early the next day (Friday). We arranged everything with the hospital personnel and I left.

Once I got to Maggie house, I set up the various chairs and beds for her comfort.

I also posted this  message on Facebook because enough people were aware of the situation that I was feeling overwhelmed with phone calls and visits.

Hello all. This is Tara Choate (Maggie’s daughter) writing.

As some of you know, Maggie Choate went to see her oncologist a few weeks ago; he ran some tests and determined that she had cancer in her liver and lungs.

On Monday (Nov. 19), she went into the hospital for a routine biopsy. Though the biopsy went well, her health stats weren’t as good as the various physicians thought they should be, so she has been in the hospital ever since. Tara has been with her, and today (Thursday, Nov. 22) drove down to the beach after visiting with her to set up the house for her to return home on Friday (Nov. 23).

So many people have expressed love and support, and it is very much appreciated by Maggie and Tara. There has also been a lot of offers of food and “anything I can do to help.” Those are also appreciated, but for right now, we’re just trying to get onto stable footing and the quieter the better.

For right now, please hold your calls, visits, and food offers. If you wish to send flowers, please consider making a donation to a charity. Cards are enjoyable, but it may be a while before a response.

Thank you all!!!

November 23, 2018

I woke up extremely early and hit the road, expecting to take Maggie home. I got to the hospital and was relatively unsurprised to find very little had been done to start her release process. Maggie was still eating, was not dressed, and the hospitalist was nowhere around.

As I was trying to move things along, my phone rang. It was the hospice agency down at the coast that Maggie and I had picked out. I went through the initial screening questions. They informed me that based on what I was describing and her general condition, she needed 24-hour care which was not available.

I told them we just wanted to get home and then we’d figure it out. They told me that moving her twice would be VERY hard. Based on how difficult just getting her out of the hospital had been, I could see that moving her again, from her home to a facility, would be hard.

I went in and told Maggie this new information. In the end, we decided that there wasn’t much of a choice; if she had to move into a facility, she might as well move to Salem so it would be easier for me to help with her.

We selected a new hospice agency in the Salem area, and I began searching for “a place” for her in the area.

I left the hospital without Maggie, returned to the beach, cleared the house of my stuff and anything that would cause a problem if left for a few months, and returned to my home in Salem.

That night I left this message on Facebook.

Hello all. This is Tara Choate (Maggie Choate’s daughter) writing again.

Our best laid plans today (Friday) crumbled and Maggie is still at the hospital. After some phone calls this morning, it was determined that we couldn’t get the correct resources in place to make leaving a safe option.

At this time, we are thinking Maggie Choate will be in the hospital until at least Monday at which time we hope to move her to a 24-hour facility.

It breaks Tara Choate’s heart not to have her return to her home, but with current information, it does not look like that will work out.

Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. It’s so amazing to know so many people care.

November 23, 2018

Knowing nothing was going to happen until Monday, when things were open and we could hopefully make some progress on the situation, I did not head up to the hospital early. Instead, I took the dogs for a walk and fooled around a little before taking off.

Just before I was left, Maggie called and asked me to contact a friend of her that she thought might be able to provide some resources. Mary Wallace was amazing, giving me lots of ideas and even going up to visit Maggie.

When I got to the hospital, I was surprised the hospitalist had not made his rounds yet. Today  it was a different doctor and this one took the time to explain the not just the diagnosis, but also how we could use this time in the hospital to adjust her medications, removing the unnecessary ones and adjusting the others so she was in the least amount of pain/discomfort/nausea with the least side effects and general poking. I liked this doctor better than any others I had seen, though I still think it’s ridiculous they can’t spend more than a few minutes with the patients.

Based on this conversation, Maggie is deciding whether or not to stop testing her blood sugar, stop taking blood thinners, and

At the end of the day, I had made lots of phone calls, contacted a placement agency, and put Maggie on several waiting lists. We are hoping to find either a place in a hospice home or an adult foster care facility.

I also went grocery shopping and did laundry.

It’s hard to know what is the biggest accomplishment there… the phone calls or laundry!


Whatever feelings you think I am having right now… you are right.

Whatever feelings you think Maggie is having right now… you are right.

Your prayers and well wishes are SOOOOO appreciated.

I would like to encourage family and friends to be patient about contacting us. There is A LOT happening right now, and it feel very exhausting to have to keep going over the same things again and again.

If you want to send something like flowers or other tokens, please make a donation to charity instead. Maggie says any charity will do, but donations to the following are our choice:

Oregon City United Methodist Church
18955 South End Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045

Stevensville United Methodist Church
216 College St.
Stevensville, MT 59870

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)

Thank you again for all your love and support.

Healthy Steps – Weeks 42-45

I need to get this straight. Week 42 was Oct. 31. It was a black-out day.

Week 43 was November 7. I gained 5 pounds.

Week 44 was November 14. I was taking a workshop in Tubac, Arizona and did not weight in.

Week 45 was today. I gained 3.4 pounds and my life in in chaos.

I’m working on a blog post that will explain everything, but frankly, any kind of control is just not an option.

In fact, it’s so bad that I’m not even sure working on this project is possible. But my blood sugar has been so bad I have the shakes, so I need to try.

Here are my try goals for the week.

  • Making prepared food (eating it being a second goal)
  • Take the dog for a walk every day (Hit 10,000, taking at least one break/lunch walk is a too big)
  • Tracking breakfast
  • 2 Frappuccino per day

Yes, this is where I’m at. And it feels like a lot. But I have to start and keep going. Recent events have shown that!

Birding Arizona

I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, but so much has happened. I had to block out four blog posts just to get caught up, and that’s just the basics.

I’m starting with the prettiest of the planned posts, my trip to Southern Arizona for a painting workshop sandwiched between some birding.

Buenos Aires NWR

On November 15, I devoted the day to the excellent Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. I hiked a little circuit at Arivaca Cienega, then found some antelope on the aptly named Pronghorn Drive.

But the birds were the real stars. While there was a huge variety, my birding abilities limited me to these finds.

Tubac & Surrounding Areas

Each day after the workshop, I would scoot around and look for some more birds. This is how I found my two “target” species: roadrunners and vermillion flycatchers.

Madera Canyon

My plane didn’t leave until 2:00pm on the day after the workshop, so I took the advice of a fellow birder in the artist group and hit the gift shop at Madera Canyon.

This is the birding set-up, not including all the hummingbird feeders.

Lots of great birds, but the hummingbirds were worth the trip!

I hope to get a few more posts done tomorrow to get you caught up, but for now… bedtime!


Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.

Here are my drawings. They are all done in a small 2.5 x 3.5 notebook filled with black paper using a white gel pen. They aren’t fabulous, but they were a lot of fun.

Post from an erratic artist

I have so much to report from this week that I can’t think of a way to explain it in a single, themed post. So I searched for another word for “random” and came up with “erratic.” That fits!


In May I started fostering with Marion County Dog Control with the (internal) goal of fostering four times a year. My first foster was Toby, who was a nice dog who took a while to find his forever home.

With various summer commitments, workshops, and vacations, I hadn’t taken another foster, but two weeks ago (October 12) I picked up my second foster, a dog named Dawson.

I’m not sure about his name, but he has been a charming house companion. To the point I was seriously toying with the idea of keeping him. He and Key got along like a house on fire!


But just a few days into the foster, I was contacted that another foster family was interested in adopting him as a companion to their “failed foster”. We made arrangements to meet, the dogs seemed okay together, so we got the okay to give Dawson to the new foster family for a trial run, and I went home, more than a little sad.

All seemed well and Key does enjoy being an only dog (he’s a jealous soul). Then on Saturday when I was in a birding class I got a phone call. I pushed ignore, but when the class was over I checked my voice mail. It was Dawson’s new foster family telling me that things weren’t working out and they had taken him back to the shelter. Oh, and by the way, now he had doggie flue and a urinary track infection.

I was FLOORED! I had  made it clear that all they had to do was call me and I would come pick him up.  But apparently they just decided to ignore me, shelter procedures, and everything else and so Dawson was back in the shelter.

I called the shelter, but they couldn’t give him back that day. So I had to wait until this morning (Sunday) to pick him back up. And, good news, he’s as healthy as when I turned him over to the foster family.

My guess is that, in spite of my warnings about him needing potty training help, they didn’t take me seriously. And apparently, the gal tripped and broke her wrist during the week. So, it just got to be too much and she bailed.

I’m trying to be forgiving, but I’m having a little trouble. If she had just waited 30 minutes he would never have gone back to the shelter…

Dawson is back with me, though, and doing fine. I’m still on the fence about a permanent adoption, and in the meantime, he’s back on the web in case I’m not his destined home.

An Expensive English Muffin

I did an “art” post on the 19th, but I did not post about Key’s NW2 trial on Saturday.

To make it short, it was a repeat of the Grant’s Pass trial. A decoy box in containers (with an English muffin) destroyed our chances for a title, though Key’s work on everything else was GORGEOUS!

Well, at least we have the winter to work on it!

Amok Art (Part 2)

For whatever reason, I am really having a good time with the latest experiments based on the WSO convention workshops.

In the last few days I’ve put some finishing touches on these two paintings.

I started these paintings.

I’m actually very pleased with “Alone With Her Thoughts 3”. While it’s monochromatic, I’m very pleased with the lost and found edges and the general experimental feel. “Yellow-headed blackbird” was somewhat successful, but I’m not sure I started in the right place. I’m pondering that.

I think that word pondering is just right to depict my current art life.

On that same note, I ordered some photo prints of some reference photos for the Peggy Judy workshop I’ll be taking in a few weeks.

Time flies…

And I just saw that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is next month.  Gulp. Over committed much?

Healthy Steps – Week 41

My apologies for being late with this week’s post. I had the best intentions, but Wednesday was “dark” for my group, but beyond that, I spent the whole day training and had a long day. Thursday was another training day. Friday I did a WW check in, but didn’t have time to write. And Saturday was… well… a story.

So today I did my food prep and thought about the week ahead. There are no big things coming up, it’s business as usual. I can use that!

My goals for the week are:

  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Tracking 3 of 7
  • 1 Frappuccino per day (trying to go down!)

I feel ready to do this because I lost 4.6 pounds when I checked in on Friday. Score! Again, you don’t need to be perfect, just a little better. I haven’t really been enjoying that second Frap so much, and it just kills the day as far as having anything extra for tracking.

So… another week begins!


Experimenting amok playfully

My mom won’t like these. That’s what I tease her by saying whenever I do anything experimental or abstract. And I’m usually right. So, Mom… you’ve been warned.


As I said, I had a really good time at the WSO convention and an especially good time at the Margaret Stermer-Cox (Peggy) break out session.

To recap, I took this image…

Sketch 3: Working toward detail and mood.

And turned it into this value study…

And threatened to paint it!


One wasn’t enough, so I ended up with two versions. Both use marbled papers from the Liz Walker workshop I took a couple of years ago.

“That’s Not the Shape of My Heart” – 11″x16″ mixed media

“The Unconfidence of Pink” – 12″ x 16″ mixed media on board


I don’t think either are finished, particularly “Pink”.

There is a glare on both that makes the photos a little weird.

I learned a lot. Such as better planning is necessary. And surface matters. And being able to use black is fun!

I like them. I like where they are going.

So… Mom… sorry, there are going to be more!

Healthy Steps – Week 40

I just posted Week 39 yesterday, but I’m trying to get more on track. I need it. Another 2 pounds up.

But I’m on a normal schedule now with a  fridge full of prepared food and a willingness to work toward my goals for the upcoming week (just like I said yesterday).

  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Tracking 3 of 7
  • 2 Frappuccinos per day

And now… to keep going!

Why I don’t buy mass-market prints (and you shouldn’t either)

A couple of week ago two stories hit my inbox nearly simultaneously. They made me mad. And I decided to share my anger to (hopefully) educate my non-artist friends. So, yes, this is me on a soapbox. It’s a sermon.

And I’m not sorry.

Ripping Off Bev Jozwiak

The first incident was a Facebook posting by Bev Jozwiak, and inspired local painter from whom I have taken workshops.

This is my painting selling on ***.com without my permission. Get so sick of the rip offs. ~ Bev Jozwiak

For my non-artist friends, what Bev is saying is that someone took a picture of her work and/or stole an image from the internet, cleaned it up, and is now selling it for cheap at one of the big online print companies.

I’ve heard stories about this over the years. Placing a copyright on the image does no good because there is software that can take it off in less time than it took to put it on.

Some artists swear by only putting up low resolution images. Again, this can work, but software is so good that it can compensate for that. Additionally, some work (like Bev’s) is “impressionistic” so a little fuzziness just adds to the effect.

Further complicating the issue, not all countries have the same copyright laws as the United States.

The best the artist can do is to contact the “store” and complain. Most times, they will take down the image or at least move it to a place on their site where it will attract less attention for a while.

But the moral of the story is the artist is out of pocket. Not only for the image that was stolen, but for the potential art space. The buyer of the image clearly wanted something for that space and now it will not be an original.

The disputes of Charlie Mackesy

A few weeks ago I “liked” a new artist, Charlie Mackesy. I was drawn to his “Boy and Horse” series, a series which is brilliant in its simplicity.

A few days after Bev Jozwiak posted, a series of posts on Charlie Mackesy’s page indicated he was having a dispute with a company that he felt was ripping off his work.

While Mr. Mackesy has not been overly forthcoming about the details of the dispute, as I understand it, the company took his images and either used Photoshop to change them slightly or hired an artist to redraw them. Then they added words and printed the result on T-shirts and other merchandise.

And all Mr. Mackesy can do is sue. He probably won’t win. A simple line drawing is not hard to copy and the copyright laws indicate that if an image is changed a mere 10%, it is not copying.

So what should you do?

As Americans, all of us are familiar with the idea of using our buying power to effect change. It’s about the most American system we have.

As art consumers, I would like to implore you to start looking at what you are buying and insisting on using those dollars to move our system to support artists.

Don’t trust those websites! Only purchase directly from artists. Don’t know an artist… I can help you out! Or use Google to find a local art group. If a gallery seems too scary, consider an open studio sale or co-op gallery. A sidewalk artist. A plein air competition. I guarantee that any of these places are someplace you can find an artist who would be THRILLED to sell a painting.

Don’t have  the budget for “art”! You’d be surprised. Many artists have older pieces that they might sell at a discount or “bin” work that has a “flaw” (you’ll never see it) that prevented them from framing it up for a show or gallery. These pieces are a WONDERFUL addition to a space. And don’t discount some of the HGTV options such as framing up family photos or your child’s artwork. These options are MUCH better than ripping off an artist.

Finally, reconsider purchasing “prints” in all their forms. T-shirts. Plaques,  Posters. All of these are easy ways that an artist can have an image taken from them. If you want to purchase a print, get it directly from the artist.

No one knows better than an artist there is no free lunch. But consider your part in the cycle before you grab that candy bar!

Healthy Steps – Week 39

It’s Tuesday, one day before I weight in for Week 40. That should tell you about how I did last week. I gained 4.6 pounds. This was NOT a shocking result. I had the WSO show followed by two days of travel where the most nutritious thing I ate was a box of cheetos.

Unfortunately, on Thursday I hit the road again and that was followed by a three-day weekend where there was some travel, some volunteering, and some chores.

But at the end, I had fridge full of prepared food and a willingness to work toward my goals for the upcoming week.

  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Tracking 3 of 7
  • 2 Frappuccinos per day

I’m proud to say I have done ALL of these things for Monday and Tuesday of this week, so here’s hoping that tomorrow’s weight in is just “even”. But whatever it is, I’ll survive and keep going.

My total weight loss is 29.4 pounds. That’s great, no matter what happens. And if I keep plugging away, that number will start increasing again.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have to be perfect in this journey. I just have to keep going.

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