Wednesday, May 31, 2006
We would hide.
Then I moved to Panama. My husband and I lived in a small area full of duplexes. We had seen many of these buildings being built, so we knew they were made of concrete blocks and small bits of mortar. Any large earthquake would cause our whole neighborhood to fall. We felt lucky that our small duplex was only two stories. If it were higher, we thought, we might not survive the coming storms.
In Panama, it was certain that the storms would come. After all, we saw 10-15 feet of water fall from the skies every year.
One day, at the end of dry season, I could feel the hard press against my chest. I could feel the calm. It was not calm. It felt like the calm before one of my parent's fights. I could not hear one bird as the sky pressed down upon my head.
The cat and I walked into the house. We went up stairs and sat on the middle of the bed. We waited.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The cat slid under the covers. I looked out the window. Giant lightening bolts struck the hills around our neighborhood. CRASH! BOOM!
The transformer that supplied electricity to our homes blew up. I watched the sparks out the window in the darkened room.
I crawled under the covers and cuddled with the cat. As the world blew up around us, we fell asleep.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
In the days of this moat, a soldier would have been a Viking to be that tall. During the times of moats, raiders would be caught in these giant moats, while the archers and soldiers would kill them. Maybe some of these trees were the great-grandchildren of trees who heard the violent screams of fighting and dying men.
In the stagnant corners of these old castles, smells of green and must assault the nose. If I listen closely, I can hear the ghosts echo through the thick walls and corridors.
When I went to Denmark, I walked through castles very similar to this one. I felt the ghosts greet me in the personal castles of kings. I knew that I was welcomed as one of the family.
When I heard that the greatest nobles belonged to the order of the Elephant, I felt a warm pride settle into my bones.
"Elephants??? Elephants???" other tourists said in disbelief. "Why elephants? There are no elephants in Denmark." Oh I knew the answer. Elephants are big, loyal, and protective. I could see my ancestors pick elephants for an order with a main purpose of protecting their homeland. I smile.
Monday, May 29, 2006
The first draft is finished. I have sent it out to various members so that they can look it over. Yahoo! This manual has the most pages I have ever written: 100 pages.
I think I am now ready for my next writing project once I finish a book review for The Vasculitis Foundation newsletter. Yes, I am attempting to write a whole novel. :-) (waggling my eyebrows)
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Yesterday, we went to Genoa then Tahoe. Back to Carson, eat and then we took them back to the casino. Today, we hope to take them to Virginia City. I am tired and happy.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
When I first became diagnosed with Wegener's Granulomatosis, I was in a hospital bed, trying to survive the collateral damage. My kidneys failed. I could not move. I was losing weight at a rapid rate. I was dying. I was also in Germany.
As soon as the doctors diagnosed my condition (they were keeping me alive with plasmapheresis), they started me on I.V. cytoxan and high dosages of prednisone. At that time, I lost most of my brain power. My husband said that I would stare at the wall and lose hours of time. Soon I began to walk and talk, but I was not there.
It wasn't until my medications were reduced and we moved back to the U.S. that I started to consider the ramifications of my condition. I started to have anxiety attacks. Although I was having problems with the prednisone (aural hallucinations and psychotic reactions), I was also trying to greive. I had lost my physical abilities. And, at the time I thought that I had lost my intelligience. And even worse, there was no cure. The most I could hope for was that my condition would go into remission.
For Wegener's patients, remission does not mean full remission. It means that we have less problems. We still have the fatigue. We still have the suppressed immune system. We still fight the collateral damage to our lungs, sinuses, kidneys and somtimes hearts. We still have to be isolated from carriers of infection. And, the treatments are expensive. Woe to the patient who does not have health insurance.
It is now three years later. I have come to the acceptance of my condition. I am careful of what I eat, how I exercise, and who I am around. I wash my hands many many times a day. I know that eventually this disease may kill me outright. In the meantime, I have hope. I watch the new medications that are supposed to suppress B-cells like Rituxan. I hope that one day it will be an approved medication for my disease. I hope that DNA research will finally find a cure.
But, in the meantime, I try to think of other things.
Monday, May 15, 2006
I knew that she had some problems that would probably lead to her death. She has a mass in her jaw bone. It is cancerous. We know that she may only have a month or two left. The family and the vet are trying to make her life comfortable.
She was sick in the grass today. I could not watch the liquid spew from her mouth. It reminded me too much of those days when I could not keep food or water in my body. I almost died then. She reminded me that life is short for all of us.
In the forefront of my mind, I want to enjoy every day knowing that she is still in the world. I have heard others tell of putting down their dogs, as if euthanizing a dog makes them a hero. What is next... if a human has a fatal illness, we put them down? Can we not enjoy them to the last moment? Or am I being selfish?
I know she is in some pain. But, each day I see this beautiful dog, I am reminded that just one day to sniff the roses, just one day to hear the birds, just one day to greet friends is another good day.
What have I learned from my animal friends? Instead of dwelling on the shortness of life, I should absorb the beauty in life. Oh beautiful Jeanie... oh lovely dog... I will miss you.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Come ye children of the Lord
Let us sing with one accord.
No, I do not remember the rest of the song, (I blame it on the medication), but I do remember that I would feel this sense of power as all the men and women sang with full voice. I felt a part of a bigger picture. I felt a part of a community.
There was a man in our ward who had been inactive for many years. He became active in our church after he retired. His name was Doug Chew. We had moved into the Jensen ward in 1969 or 1970. He had been assigned to our family as a hometeacher. This town was so small that everyone belonged to the same congregation. We saw all the same people in 4-H clubs. And, we met all the same people in church. Most of the townspeople were related. We were the only ones that did not have close ties to the community.
Doug Chew was the philanthropist in our church. Every year he would pick one child to help through out the year. Sometimes he would give them candy or money. Other times he would take the child to his ranch and teach them to ride. Today, we would wonder why a man would want to spend time with a child. Funny, we have really lost that feeling of community.
Well, on my ninth birthday, Mr. Chew picked me. Up to that point, I had never been picked for something good. I spent my days tending children, washing dishes, and making dinner. Up to that point, I believed that I was being trained to be a housekeeper.
My parents talked to Doug. They decided that I could not accept candy or money. What I could accept for this year with Doug was outings and visits. So when the church sponsored a daddy-daughter date, my date was Doug. This date thing was not a problem because my dad had another daughter--September--who was only a year younger than I.
I was so proud to dance and chat with Doug. During this year, Doug took us to a small campsite and showed us how to make real cowboy food. He took my family up to Brown's canyon where Butch Cassidy and his gang would camp in those rowdy old days.
He told me stories of Queen Anne--a female rustler. He met her as a child. He was the youngest child of the Chew Bunch.
Doug Chew made that year memorable. The next year he adopted one of the boys in my class. But, I have a soft spot for this man. He accorded me the privilege of being special.He died a few years ago. I will always remember him.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
But as you look closely at the pads and lilies, in between the lily pads are glimpses of black water.
I think the reason that I had a hard time with the word surface is because I had to look beneath the surface of myself. What is real? What is unreal? Am I an illusionist that covers my real purpose with words?
On the surface, I have lived 44 years. I was raised in a small town in Utah. I have travelled the world. I am a Wegener's Granulomatosis patient. I joined the US Navy for six years. I was born in Canada. All of these little facts cover the surface of myself. They show what I have done, but not what I am.
In the black water, under the lily pads, I am an introvert. I have a need to create. I learned a long time ago, that my talents had nothing to do with painting. Art and form are not my clay. I needed to use the black and white spaces in words. Before reading, before writing, I may have been a storyteller or bard. In my hand I would have held a mandolin, as I told the epic stories.
Or maybe not. I would have been female, I think. I would have stared at the bard with an empty heart, wishing for the impossible. Wishing that I was the one telling the story and entertaining the crowd. My days would have been spent washing and scrubbing clothes. Probably I would have stirred the huge lye pot. Or maybe I would have hung the clothes on the lines with wooden pins. Maybe I would have been fortunate.
I would have dressed the grand ladies, sprayed them with perfume, and watched them walk towards their knights. I know that as I live today I would have needed, wanted to create something of lasting importance.
I was once a Mormon. I was raised to be a "mother in Zion." It was not enough.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Anyway, this picture was taken in 1994 or thereabouts in Panama. so to those who know a little panamanian spanish--que paso. loco. Now days, my husband is a few years older and less active.
As for the EMCOMMWEST conference, we had a great time. We went to the forums and talked to friends that I had not seen in over a year. I had a chance to spend money on geeky radio things, but I refrained. We are saving for another radio, which will cost quite a bit of money, so no more frivolous shopping allowed.
We had a fine banquet. The food was good. We had the rowdy table of ex-sailors. To those who have been around ex-sailors, I need not say more. Actually our table composition was three civilians, one retired marine, one retired Air Force, and five ex-sailors. I almost felt sorry for the civilians when one of the sailors started to talk about the old chief initiations.
As for my stamina, I did really well. I was able to last both days. After the second day, I was ready to crash. Our conference was at the Altlantis casino in Reno, Nevada.
So I will now have to go back to my isolated shell. But, I had a great time.
Friday, May 05, 2006
You Are The Hanging Man
You represent the seeking of enlightenment and spiritual clarity.
You tend to confuse others, but your oddities seem deeply satisfying.
Self sacrifice is easy for you, especially if it makes you a better person in the end.
You are the type of person who is very in touch with your soul and inner spirit.
Right now is a good time for reflection and meditation.
You should stop resisting the problems in your life, and let yourself be vulnerable to them.
You may need to sacrifice something important to you to move ahead in your life.
Accept your destiny with courage, and learn to let go of what you think you need.
I found this particular blogthing amusing. The hanging man reminds me of Odin, who hung on a tree until he received some pretty impressive spiritual gifts. In the process, he lost an eye.
Since I became ill, I have lost a lot of my previous abilities, but I have received some gifts of compassion that I did not have before. Is it worth it?
I don't know.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Four Jobs I've Had In My Life
1. Cashier/Counter Girl: At sixteen, I tried a job in the food business. It took only a month or two before I was bored out of my mind. In my essay register, I write about some of my experiences at this job.
2. Typesetter: I was a typesetter for "Basin Nickel Ads" and "Vernal Express" in Vernal, Utah. I really enjoyed this job. We used a typesetter machine, which pre-dated the computer. I learned a lot about setting type. I also worked in a small publishing house for about a year.
3. Electronics Technician: I joined the U.S. Navy in 1988 and was trained as a CTM. I travelled to Japan and Panama with the Navy. I saw the world and repaired radios. It was a fun job. After I left the Navy, I worked on a telecommunications network, xerox copiers, and computers. I was in electronics for about ten years.
4. School Age Program: I worked six months in a school-age program for children from the ages between six to eleven. It was about two to three months later that I became ill with Wegener's Granulomatosis.
Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over
1. The Sixth Sense
2. Toy Story (1 and 2)
3. The Incredibles
4. Any Bruce Lee movie
Four Websites I Visit Regularly
Actually, all of my daily reads. They are on the left hand side of my blogspot.
Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. Sunning my buns in Florida
2. Visiting my friend in Hawaii and sunning my buns
3. Visiting Chiefbiscuit in New Zealand... and waiting until summer to sun my buns
4. Lovre in Paris
If you notice, I am missing those sunny days. Of course, we are getting close to the end of spring and summer will start soon. I cannot wait.
Four Books I Could Read Over and Over
1. Pride and Prejudice
2. I, Robot
3. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
4. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings series
If I read a book only once, then I do not like it. Usually I like to read things three or more times to get a good feel for the book. My college degree is in English, so that could be my little problem.
Four Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over (I changed this to Singers I could Listen To)
1. Stevie Ray Vaughn
2. Sarah Brightman
3. Andrea Bocelli (his classical stuff)
4. Led Zeppelin
Four Reasons I Blog
1. It gives me an opportunity to write, write, and write some more.
2. I am not so isolated.
3. I always liked sharing time. (wink)
4. It is an easy way to get feedback from you guys and gals.
So any of you who want to be tagged.. YOU ARE IT!
I want to thank Belle because this tag was fun. I had to think. Thinking is always good.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Normally, I would post a picture of each bird, but I think that I will tell a story about each one.
1. Meadow Lark: I have to pick the meadow lark because this bird was the harbringer of spring in the small town in Utah, where I grew up. He would sit on the wooden fence and his liquid notes would fill the early morning air. I wondered how an ordinary brown bird could have such a beautiful sound.
2. Hummingbirds: When we lived in Panama, we would put out a hummingbird feeder for the birds. The Panama variety were green and aggressive. Every three days, one of the birds would buzz in the air, eye-level to my husband and lead my husband to the empty bird feeder. Also, we would sit on our chairs in the morning and watch the hummingbirds fight for the right to feed. It is no wonder that these birds were considered by the natives to hold the souls of Aztec warriors.
3. Toucans: We saw the toucans in Panama, too. They would come into the area in the early spring and fall. We would hear their slight burr, burr in the trees. If we were lucky, they would show themselves.
4. Western Scrub Jays: We met these birds in Nevada. They ignored us until my husband put peanuts on our balcony. For some reason, peanuts are a delicacy to these birds. We watch them sort the peanuts into size and flyability. They will take the biggest and best peanuts into their beaks and fly to a tree. They can rip apart a peanut in seconds. Fun birds with personality...
5. Finches: I lump all the finches together because they are all fun. The house finches seranade us. The goldfinches make us laugh. We have thistles and sunflowers for these birds. They are not in the sharing mood lately because of nesting season. But, soon after they finish their business, we will probably see ten or more finches cheeping at each other and hanging off the feeding sock.
6. Ravens: To me, ravens are the birds of legend. Odin carried two of them on his shoulders. We find them to be playful and fun. Other birds are scared of them. I guess that when you see a bird almost the size of a turkey with a big beak, your first reaction is will he eat me. The answer is YES. We met two ravens who lived in the zoo in Las Vegas, Nevada. They live a fairly long life in captivity. These two pranksters loved to get their heads scratched.
Also, when I was in Japan, I was attacked by a raven. This raven had a nest on top of the light pole. Every time I walked by, she would fly at me. No one else had this problem. I learned to walk around the building to avoid her.
7. Parrots: I love parrots when they are free. In Panama, the green parrots would fly in flocks of 30-50. They would huddle under our roof during a rainstorm. They are the noisiest birds of all. When they are next to the window, the parrots are so loud you cannot hear yourself think. My husband used to put a broom out the window and bang on the side of the house. The birds would fly away like pollen and then settle back on the house. :-)
8. Seagulls: When I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, the seagulls would float up and down around me. To me, the seagulls invoked the longing to move and travel. When I read the book "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," I realized that to me seagulls represented my wanderlust.
9. Hawks: Once again, I am lumping all hawks into the same class. I love to watch them circle in the sky. I know they are looking for food. And as I watch them, I am so amazed at the dignity and power in these birds. I have seen the shows where different types of predatory birds are flown for the students. I can see why "hawking" was such a popular pastime. But, it is better to see them free.
10. Cardinals: I have no stories of this bird. In fact, I have never seen this bird except in pictures. But, I love the red redness of it.
So here are my picks of my favorite birds. I love to watch them. Saturday, we went to Fallon, Nevada and saw some yellow-headed black birds. These birds normally live in marshland or irrigation ditches. We watched the males display their heads to the drabber females. From what we could see, about twenty bird flock lived in a half mile radius. They seemed gregarious to their own kind. I had never seen this bird before.
We asked our friend the name of the bird. He said they were magpies. Yes, I know what magpies look like so I challenged him. Well that's what they call 'em here, he said. About the only thing in common with a magpie was that the birds had black on them.
So I had to look them up in my bird book. So aren't you glad I told you. :-)