Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Smoky Skies

You've probably all read and heard about the fires in California. Lucky for us we are nowhere near them. But as it turns out that smoke does travel. On Tuesday we woke to lightly smoky skies. In the afternoon I looked out and saw this. It looks like a sunset sky, but it's not. It's the middle of the afternoon. Smoke and clouds sure do interesting things with the sun.

I had an entirely different post planned for today. I was going to write about the weather we've been having for the past few weeks. Stunning clear sunny days, starting with temps in the freezing range. The rooftops are laced in frost as are all the car windshields. The skies have been so clear we've been seeing Venus every morning shining so bright it literally sparkles. We've been doing our early morning walks wearing two layers of wool, flannel, gloves and hats before the sun has come up over the mountains. The Aleutian Cackling Geese have been flying over every morning, honking by the thousands. It's been going on for weeks. We stop and look up, wave to them and wish them a good journey. It's really quite a sound and sight. By afternoon, it's been so warm and sunny, we sit out on the little deck wearing tank tops and shorts. So Tuesday's smoky skies took us by surprise. We wonder how the geese feel about it. Crazy times here, crazy times.

Sunday, November 11, 2018



not intending to shock anyone. our blog helps us remember stuff.

cancer. i've had it. one colon cancer, cut out almost nine years ago. and now three kinds of skin cancer, basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma.

i have a great skin doc. actually he is a physicians assistant. some months ago he took a biopsy of a strange thing on my back, and then removed the basal cell carcinoma. it was a small incision requiring 3 stitches. i have gotten good at getting injections or iv needles but as he was finishing up i started to feel faint. he was good at keeping me talking and it all went ok.

two weeks ago he took a biopsy of another thing on my back. it was a melanoma, but the best kind. a melanoma in situ has not yet gone beyond the derma. he told me that it would be a longer and deeper excision than before. concerned about fainting, i asked my gp for lorazepam (atavan) and got one dose. amusingly enough my one small pill came in a larger bottle than 90 of my bp meds. and it cost 20 cents. oh well.

so 2 hours before my appt i swallowed my pill. i brought our iPhone with all our music to play my faves and distract me during the procedure. as the pa was preparing me he said he’d like to listen too. so i left off the earbuds. i was very relaxed and the time passed quickly.

now i have a three and a half inch incision held shut by twelve stitches. i tried to take a picture of the piece he removed from me but my fuzzy brain couldn’t work the iPhone camera and i got a fuzzy picture.

i am lucky though. we have several family members and friends suffering from much more serious ailments.

i asked for a picture of the incision. not sure if the melanoma has been cut out yet
an out of focus picture of the thing.
see how relaxed i am

all done and healing

Monday, November 05, 2018

A Carrion Eater's Meal

A little story before tomorrow's election, completely irrelevant and non-political. Perhaps a sigh of relief, and a view of the future.
One of these could be Lew
For the past few months whenever I see vultures flying overhead I look up and say, "Is that you, Lew?" It's my new mantra. Why on earth would I say such a thing? Well, I'm glad you asked. I was reading about some of the old beat poets from back in the day and it made me want to read some of Philip Whalen's and Lew Welch's poems and bios. They were both college roommates of Gary Snyder's at Reed College in Oregon in the late 1940s. The three of them went on to write poetry, and Philip and Gary studied Zen Buddhism at the Zhodo Shinsu Buddhist Church in Berkeley. Philip went on to become a Buddhist monk. I was drawn to their poetry because I tend to like words written with an undercurrent of zen perspective.

Reading their bios reminded me that back in May of 1971 Lew Welch, while visiting with Gary Snyder, walked off into the woods at his Kitkitdizzi ranch in the Sierras and never returned. He left a suicide note and took only a .22 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. His body was never found. When I re-read some of his poems, like these last few lines he wrote in his poem "Chicago"...

You can’t fix it. You can’t make it go away.
     I don’t know what you’re going to do about it,
But I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m just
     going to walk away from it. Maybe
A small part of it will die if I’m not around
      feeding it anymore.
...I wondered if it was a foreshadowing of his death. He was writing about leaving the oppressive polluted over-worked factory life of Chicago in the 1950s, but all these years later, it seems prescient. And the poem eerily describes our deadly carbon footprint on the planet that we are all facing now.

So while I was reading about Lew a couple of months ago, I found a story about how his friends responded to his utter and complete disappearance. Whenever they saw a vulture circling overhead they would look up and say, "Is that you, Lew?" I loved it. I wanted to keep the tradition going. We'll all be circling in the belly of the carrion eater someday. So let's look up and wave hello.

PS-- If you don't read anything about Lew Welch on Wikipedia, here's a surprising bit of history. He had a common-law relationship with Polish refuge Maria Magda Cregg. He acted as the stepfather to her son Hugh Anthony Cregg, III, better known by his stage-name Huey Lewis. He took the name Lewis in honor of Lew.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Breaking A Promise

Laughing at the news November 2017
Before my mother's diagnosis of Alzheimer's in January 2017, she told me that she knew that she would not be around forever and that she wanted me to keep her informed even after her death. She knew I kept a journal that I started back in 1992 when my father was approaching his final days. I wrote in it all the time to tell him the stories of our family, our country, our world. My mom wanted me to do the same for her. When I wrote in the journal for the past 26 years, the pages always started "Dear Dad." Now they start, "Dear Parents..." I love keeping this promise and it keeping their hearts alive in my own. (When my sibs and I were teenagers we began referring to our parents in the collective noun "parents" rather than mom and dad. It stuck!)

My mother loved reading the news. For all the years she lived in southern California she had the LA Times delivered to her house and then to the assisted living facility. She always started the day with a newspaper. When she lived here with us for four months she got the NY Times delivered, and then when she moved back to southern California, she resumed her LA Times subscription. She never watched news on TV. She read it, absorbed it, talked about it, laughed and grieved about it.

Now for the first time, I feel like not sharing the news with my parents. I can't bear to tell them the stories of what's happening in our country. A week of pipe bombs sent to people my mother absolutely appreciated, and then eleven people shot at a synagogue in Pittsburgh at a Briss. They would find all of this as unbearable and horrific, as we do. They would be afraid for our country and really the world, as we are. There is no making sense of the senseless. Our country has become a place of crazy gun owners who still resent the outcome of the Civil War and who seem to have forgotten that World War II was fought to end the reign of Nazis. We have a President who stokes the these flames with his astonishing ignorance and narcissism. He is so utterly unworthy of his position that the world is watching us aghast at what is unfolding here.

A paragraph from Howard Fineman's op-ed in the New York Times sums up the status of things right now:
My response is grief, of course, and the immediate realization that this horror is part of a larger pattern of mayhem and hatred in America and around the world. Churches, minority communities, gay nightclubs, politicians and journalists are threatened. We live in an age of assault rifles, pipe bombs and bone saws.
So I am going to renege a bit on my promise to my mom. I'm keeping the latest news cycle a secret. I want to share much better news after the midterms. We are hoping for a blue wave because truly what's left of our sanity depends on it.

How are you doing? 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Just A Story of Kindness

It's been crazy foggy here for days. We went from stunningly awesome clear blue skies to a bleak darkness that just won't quit. So, there are no photos to post. We just have a simple story of kindness to tell. 

We shop at the local food co-op all the time. It's walking distance from our house, a nice little two-mile round trip. We like to go on Tuesdays because it's senior discount day. Such a funny thing to be "seniors" and yet we are. We often call it Geezer Day and have a good laugh about it. We run into the same people shopping, those of us of a certain age who shop early in the day. We say hello as we all fill our little bags with organic bulk items.

Last Tuesday we were waiting in the checkout line, and one of the familiar old geezer seniors was ahead of us. He was buying a lot of stuff, so we waited and waited. Then, when it came time to pay for his groceries, he pulled out his checkbook, signed a check, and then handed it to the cashier. The cashier then proceeded to fill out all the pertinent stuff and then entered the data in the check register. He showed the check to the customer who approved. When they were finished, the customer turned to us and thanked us for being patient. We said it was fine (even though we are really the most impatient people to walk this earth!). Then the cashier checked us out, and within minutes we were walking home.

When I thought about it over the next few days, I really wanted to thank the cashier for such a thoughtful act of kindness. So, on Sunday when we saw him again, I told him how wonderful it was to see such a thing. He told us that that customer always checks out in his line and that he's been writing the checks for him for a while. He said the man had had a minor stroke and things were not as easy as they once were for him. He told us that the man was a long-time musician in the area and was actually quite well known. And then he shared this story. Back in the 1960s the old man was a musician in Santa Cruz. He was hanging out with Jerry Garcia back in the day. On Saturdays Jerry would go with him to his mom's house for a nice home-cooked meal. We loved hearing that story so much. It made me think that the next time we see the old man, I'm going to introduce myself and shake his hand. Because you know me, I collect handshakes!