Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008


We haven't written much about where we are living at the moment. A little house in a college town, and classes start Monday. The quiet summer has drawn to a close. The backyard fruit trees are full. Are there any better signs of the season?
In response to many of you who have asked what we are doing? Are we house hunting? Searching for land? Well, yes, but not here. We are moving back to Santa Cruz in September and plan to live out the rest of our life dream there. There are a million reasons why we are moving back, but the three top ones are these: we need to live much closer to our mothers; we need to live much closer to our friends; we need more sunlight for our old and aging bones.
I've been helping my mom through her medical odyssey. You have no idea how incredibly fucked up the medical/pharmaceutical world is these days. My mom ended up in the hospital last year with "pneumonia" but has never fully recovered. She's been on Prednisone since then, but whenever the dosage is reduced beyond a certain level, the pain of her persistent lung inflammation returns. She's been to see several SPECIALISTS, and has been put on other medications, but with no good results.
When we were down there for the family reunion, I did a google search on: pain management pleuritic condition. I found interesting information, but one pharmacy site in particular had a lot to say about NSAIDs, and an incredible table that listed several medications that were known to cause pleural effusion (fluid). I checked the list and found one of the drugs my mom had been prescribed in early 2007: Simvastatin.

So, I pursued the Simvastatin lead and googled: Simvastatin pleurisy; Simvastatin lupus; Simvastatin Rheumatoid arthritis. (The SPECIALISTS my mom had seen thought her symptoms seemed lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis-like.) The search yielded results that absolutely shocked us. There have been several medical articles since the mid-1990s that discussed something called Simvastatin-induced lupus-like syndrome. WHAT? OMG. My mother has been suffering for a year as a result of a prescription, and her doctors simply did not know. They hadn't read the finest of fine print and made the connection.
I do have to say on their behalf that when my mother brought them the printouts of the articles, they received them and responded with gratitude and affirmation. She has given up the Simvastatin and is now reducing the Prednisone and plans to be fully restored to good health. It's going to take a few months, but we are all hopeful.

It is hard to imagine what life would be like without the ability to do our own research online about these health and life altering things. To think that I might not have been able to intercede and help, and that she might have to continue to suffer just knocks me out.

So, fruit. Yes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Days of Late August

We have been busy these past few days. Roger's youngest daughter and her beau came for a visit. It had been a while since we'd seen them, so it was especially wonderful to have this time. We did get them out to the marsh for a walk the other evening after dinner. The tide was low and what there was of the sun was setting. There were sky reflections in the standing pools, and the muddy sand shone like it was made of melted silver.
We are restless these days. The first summer in many years without a garden. The first summer in many years without the sound of coyotes through the night's open window. We walk around the marsh with hungry eyes looking for something wild to remind us. On a lucky evening, this American Avocet is there, making a brief stop for a meal.

A drizzly rain clings to the apple and pear trees in our yard. Too soon for fall, but the fruit hits the ground unripened and wet.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Great Expectations, Great Disappointments

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Did Charles Dickens go to my family's reunion? I wish I could say what went wrong or why it did. I can't. We all love each other so much, but it seems only from a safe distance, a phone call away. In each other's company there was so much snarling, bristling, and bruising. Hurt feelings, short tempers, stepped-on toes, and ancient acrimony. Who needs it? Not me. My short fuse blew right away, then I basically stayed quiet and moody. Nothing like a bit of family drama to remind me why my highest ideals and the philosophical underpinnings of my life are basically full of shit, when they can be compromised by one cross look or crass comment.
We drove north to Capitola and spent a few nights back at the beach house. We saw more pelicans than we have ever seen before at one time. Literally hundreds of them. Dozens flew north, dozens flew south crossing paths at a graceful clip. We were concerned about them, and wondered if there were too many to find enough food in this over-fished bay. As it turns out, the Fish and Game officials were keeping their eyes on them too, and closed local area wharfs to fishing. This brief piece was in the local Santa Cruz Sentinel:

The Capitola Wharf was closed to fishing Wednesday, one day after the closure of the pier at Seacliff State Beach.

Fish and Game officials, who recommended the closures, are trying to prevent endangered brown pelicans from being caught in fishing lines.

Large numbers of pelicans are traveling through the Monterey Bay area with their young, following spring breeding in Southern California and Mexico. Dozens of injured young pelicans have been taken in by rescue groups along the coast in recent weeks.
Now we're back in Humboldt county, seventeen hundred miles after light-hearted beginnings. We're catching up on news (had no internet for a few days), on blogs, on life. I'll be spending the next few days wondering why my family looked like this, but...
...felt like this?

1. First Photo: My twin brother, me, my sister, my mom and my older brother.
2. Second Photo: Two of the many pelicans sitting quite close to the Capitola wharf.
3. Third Photo: Front row: my older brother's partner, me, my mom, sister, niece, SIL, twin brother. Back row: Niece, nephew, older brother, Roger, nephew.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

On the Road With Yellow-Billed Magpies

Did we mention that we're on the road, heading south for a family reunion? We left on Wednesday and expect to reach our destination, my mom's in Orange County on Friday. Spent the first night at our good friend Tara's house. She cooked a delicious meal for us and gave us her bed. How incredibly generous and hospitable is that? I'm writing this from my sister's in Ventura County. We've covered 650 miles in two days, and on two tanks of gas-- that's $120 bucks (gas is still over $4.00 a gallon here). All of my siblings, their children and partners will be together for the weekend. We haven't all been together in many years. It should be a wild adventure.
One of our favorite things about traveling south on Highway 101 through the productive agricultural valleys, is a rest area just north of San Luis Obispo. We stop there because we know we'll see the Yellow-billed Magpies scavenging and begging for food. These magpies have never been seen outside of a small area of California. I have to admit it's hard to feel like we're seeing such a special bird when it's hanging out on a rest area garbage can scrounging around for any crappy crumb it can find. Still, we're always delighted to see them and glad that they were there, just as we had hoped.

Life is good. Our kitty cat has been left with two wonderful caregivers. We're driving along at 65 mph thinking of names for a new blog, laughing and crying about the state of the world, and wondering how it's all going to turn out.

How are you?