Dena Taylor | Blog
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Homer, Alaska, Final: Mead, Wine and Farewell

"Is my finger in water or on land?" Mom asked. "It's in Port Dick," Paul replied. Paul, Melinda, Mom, and I were at Captain Pattie's on the Homer Spit for dinner, known for its fresh local seafood. Under the glass top of our table was a map of the area. Mom, was fingering the sweat from her glass of ice water and wondered what part of the map she was hovering over. Sure enough, her finger was in a port. A port called Dick. [caption id="attachment_2730" align="aligncenter" width="301"] Port Dick. For real. It even has a left arm. Do you think there was ever a right arm? Do you really want to know?[/caption] Captain Pattie's was the perfect end to a sunny day in Homer that began with breakfast at Duncan House Diner, a brief stop at the quaint Homer Farmers Market, and continued to a barefoot stroll on Bishop's Beach. [caption id="attachment_2732" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Reminds...

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Homer, Alaska, Part 3: I got region

"Is it always so windy in your region?" Mom asked. "Not always," I replied. "It can can sneak up on you." Mom maintains that I was named after her neighbor, Dena, a woman she and Dad lived next to when they lived in Cleveland. It wasn't because they had become great friends, or that Dena had once stood for 12 hours filibustering a bill,  or more likely, that Dena was a nun. "I just liked her name." Zzzzzzzz. So when Melinda handed me a map of the Kachemak Bay and south central Alaska, and I saw my name, I couldn't help but get a little excited. "I have a region! I have a region!" I exclaimed. "Look, right here. The 'DENA-EENA" region," I said, sounding it out. "My way!" "Oh," replied Mom flatly with a roll of her eyes. "I'm pretty sure it's pronounced 'De-NAI-na,'" said Melinda'inda, as I will now refer to her. No one was impressed. But...

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Homer, Alaska, Part 2: Homer 911

"Did you hear they're bringing back the hairy mamas?" Mom asked. "You mean the woolly mammoths?" Melinda replied. "Wha'd'I say?" Unrestrained by the chains of location or time, this exchange could have just as easily occurred over a morning cup at Coal Town Coffee and Tea as over bloody marys at Land's End.  As it were, we were in the truck on the way to the Fritz Creek General Store and Post Office (website in progress but some info here). With the cabin cloaked in weather and the time until Paul had to head back to the platform dwindling, we were Homer-bound. The next best thing was to eat, drink, shop, play games, watch movies, see some sights, and hit the beach. Fritz Creek got us off to the perfect start on Tuesday, not only because of the ambiance and hearty sandwiches, but because of a hunk of heaven they call the...

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Homer, Alaska, part 1: Shower optional

"You've gotta stop showering," Mom said. "The girls can't smell ya!" Mom and I were at my brother and sister-in-law Melinda's house in Homer, Alaska, for a 10-day visit when Mom asked Melinda's handsome single nephew, who is staying with them while working on an oil platform, about his local dating prospects. When he revealed that he showers every day, Mom was kind enough to shed some light on the error of his ways — if the ladies can't smell him they won't know he's there. But he didn't seem to mind. Not even a little. Remote locations and infrequent showering seem to go hand-in-smudgy hand. And while I'm sure a lot of people imbibe in a daily scrub, I'm absolutely certain, based on first-hand exposure, some don't. And guess what? I wasn't planning to either, mainly because the majority of our stay would be at my brother's even more remote cabin...

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When I was sick. Guest post on Cancer, Cancer bo-Bancer

When I came across @DeeAnne_Barker on Twitter and saw the whimsy in her blog title, Cancer, Cancer bo-Bancer, and the spirit in her tagline, "I'm the boss of me!" I had to follow. When I learned more about her story, I was humbled and inspired. This incredible woman has faced cancer not one, not two, but three times, and maintains a sense of humor. In one of my favorite posts, her response to Facebook's blunder in failing to capture her most important moments of 2012, she writes: "Well $#%!&! you Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, I've got moments!" We can learn a lot from her. As her 500th follower, she allowed me to guest post on her blog. An honor. Thank you DeeAnne! ...

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An Off Day on Lady Bird Lake

A few years ago at a local animal shelter's silent auction fundraiser, I won a bid for 3 hours of kayaking on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. Last month I finally used that voucher with friend Kee Kee Buckely (KKB) in tow. After rescheduling a few times, we agreed on a Friday morning. I was supposed to pick up her up at 8:30 am but we were both running slow and pushed it back until 9. I got a green smoothie from a local juice shop along the way, which turned out to be full of chopped up bits of plastic. We thought our early start might secure cooler weather but it felt like steamed Elmer's glue.  After the kayak shack dude sneezed and KKB said, "Bless you," the dude glared at us then resumed reading the Chronicle. He didn't look up again until he realized we were actually...

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This is my mom on chemo. (Pretty much the same as before.)

“My neighbor has fatted up,” said Mom. “Probably has a woman. That’s what happens when men get a woman." And there it was. Proof that despite the physical side effects of chemo, Mom still had the capacity to dole out profound insight. At the time, she had completed 6 of 12 infusions to treat colorectal cancer. She was experiencing occasional tingling and numbness in her fingers, digestive issues, fatigue, hair thinning, lack of appetite, and loss of taste ("everything tastes like cardboard!"). She was slowing down, staying home more and needing extra help. It could've been worse, sure, but the point was the same: mind the time together. That includes helping out around the house, engaging in non-cancerly activities, and encouraging her innate salty commentary, for every time she tapped her inner Archie Bunker, I was assured that the 82-year-old lady that started chemo would be the same one that finished. [caption id="attachment_2454"...

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New (ish) work and other updates on the site. Party!

Updating your website, getting a colonoscopy. Things you know you've got to do but tend to put off. And, as far as I'm concerned, both require drugs. Unfortunately only the colonoscopy comes with one that makes you forget the whole drawn out process, which in my case has been the last year and a half. But people, I'm caught up. I've posted new work and updated info on other pages. So put down that New York Times best seller, turn off that episode of Game of Porn Thrones, give the kids a Benadryl and have a look. New (remember, a year and a half) work in the Portfolio: [caption id="attachment_2303" align="aligncenter" width="384"] USC Sol Price School of Public Policy brochure[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2283" align="aligncenter" width="384"] Mighty Brace website, print collateral and video[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2340" align="aligncenter" width="184"] Music City Eats festival website[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2367" align="aligncenter" width="260"] American Campus Communities brochure[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2385" align="aligncenter" width="384"] Brain Balance Center Austin...

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"I welcome energy?" Not so fast. Guest post on seekingshama.com

Hey hey people. I participated in my remarkable friend Kee Kee Buckley's Post-it note challenge and had the opportunity to share my experience on her website. What's a Post-it note challenge you ask? Woo-woo new agey hippie dippy stuff is what at least one person I know might think. But is it any weirder than dancing naked to Suit & Tie in your garage while doing laundry or working out with a Shake Weight?  I don't think so. Read it, try it or just read it and go back to figuring how to cut out of work for 2:15 happy hour.   "I welcome energy?" Not so fast. on www.seekingshama.com ...

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aBateline: To Catch a Break

"I had some of that oatmeal you bought yesterday," said Mom. I had went on a shopping spree for foods that would help manage her side effects and keep her body strong while she went through chemo for colon cancer. "It tastes like mud." Two infusion cycles later taste change complaints, a common side effect of chemo, escalated in frequency but more importantly, in delivery. I present to you the "Nothing tastes good" song. It goes like this: Insert any tune you can think of or better yet no real tune, just the same flat note over and over is fine, which will make it worse and more accurate: "Nothing tastes good. Nothing tastes good. Buh buh dah. Nothing tastes good." The same day she debuted the "Nothing tastes good" song, she busted out another.  This one was about the bag of dog poop she was carrying while we were halfway through walking her dog...

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