And so it began …. with a little snow. My unexpected journey began with a very rare occurrence in my little corner of California. December 7, 2009. It had snowed once before since I moved to here – well, technically it had snowed; but for just a few minutes and the few snowflakes that made it to the ground were doomed. However, on December 7 2009, it SNOWED. Big fluffy snowflakes – lots of them. Little did I know that those snowflakes would be the cause of a lifestyle change that led to my unexpected journey. I had recently taken up photography and saw an opportunity to get a great shot for a custom Christmas card. Here is an excerpt from blog post that day: So, was it worth breaking my ankle for this shot (which I sharpened several times and ran through some sketch/masking/painting effects)?  Absolutely, positively NOT! But … but … it only snows here once every four or five years and I had been working on a holiday greeting card using a (not very good) shot from one of those other years. So, when the snow came …. and actually got a little deep, with big fluffy flakes … well what’s a photographer-wanna be to do???  My first attempts were not very useful – I didn’t think to put on the lens hood and almost every shot came with it’s own commemorative melted snow-flake blotch. And my shoes got all wet.

So, blondie changes clothes, grabs the lens hood and has a brilliant idea! My plastic gardening clogs would keep my feet dry!  And out again I go, stopping at various vantage points to get some awesome pictures. Half an hour later, I’d fallen in the snow on a remote area of our golf course. As I fell, I heard a little ripping sound and thought to myself  “Self, your jeans didn’t seem that tight when you put them on.” My next words out loud were – I remember them distinctly – “damn – what happened to my camera!” I quickly scooped it up and wiped the moisture away. Only then did it occur to me that I was sorta sitting/laying in the snow and that my ankle was hurting.

As I sat there pondering the state of the union, a pickup truck from the maintenance yard drove by …. slowly. As he passed me, I remember thinking, “Hmmm … I should have flagged him down … wonder if I can drag myself to my car?” The fates were with me though, because as I watched the truck stopped and started to back up. When he got even with me, the driver rolled down his window and yelled to me “Ma’am …. you making snow angels?”  [which in retrospect is kinda funny, but at the time I was a mite irritated because I hate being called “ma’am”]. “Or” he continued, “you need help?”  I quickly got over my irritation and he helped me home.

Since my husband was still away conducting a trial in the Bay Area, friends came to the rescue and a nurse who lives down the street came to check on me several times. She told me that if the swelling didn’t go down significantly in a week to have my ankle xrayed; she offered to take me  – more than once. But I was stupid, thinking it was just a bad sprain (Rest-Ice-Compress-Elevate). A  week later I decided to have it checked.  One minute I was sitting the doctor’s office with a bad sprain, the next I was sitting there facing surgery (this coming Tuesday). My fibula (which I now know is the leg bone above the ankle) has a fracture that has shifted too much to heal well on it’s own.

Lessons learned:

Have x-rays sooner than later. I might have been able to avoid surgery if I hadn’t waited so long.

Don’t go to remote areas alone to take photos … at least without telling someone who would (eventually), come looking for you. And if you do, try to remember your cell phone is in your pocket!!!!

Lens hoods do a pretty good job of keeping snow flakes off of your lens.

I’m almost 55 and need to get over being called “ma’am”.

They did keep my feet dry; however, plastic gardening clogs are not proper snow/ice footwear.

The older snow picture would have worked just fine!

Good friends who respond to calls for help – and keeping helping – they are so, so, valuable.  Thanks to everyone who came to my assistance while I was on my own – specifically Barbi and Steve; Sharron; and Gordon and Sue.

Virtual friends are just as good as the those you meet personally. If not for your kind words of support (through this blog, Facebook and email) as I deal with my foot and my Mom’s accident … we’ll I’m not sure how I would have handled being on my own. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude.

That’s how it began … my unexpected journey. That broken ankle kept me immobile for the better part of six months. To keep sane during that time, I became an active member of the Digital Design Den and learned digital scrapbooking; made some long-lasting friendships (Sandy, Robyn and Kim to name a few) and took up designing with the support and encouragement of those same friends. Designing led me to take up mixed media art, which led to more friends and more designing, which led to my little art studio, which led to a gazillion online art classes and an over abundance of art supplies, and … and mostly importantly led me to this unexpected journey. And so it began … Here are just a few of the 175 (!!!) pictures I took that day.