I am not a…

I am not a bleeding-heart liberal, a tree-hugging hippie or any other unpopular niches (well there was that time I found myself chained to a rather magnificent fir in Oregon…there were a few others there: some with long hair, there were some chain saws and bulldozers and, oh yes, people in State Trooper uniforms).

But, to me, issues far more important than irreplaceable tree have arisen.

A floppy haired Thumper has taken it upon himself to insult an entire race, as the Irish have endured in the past (before my time), the (not PC I’m sure) Blacks (old enough to have lived through that time and far too simple-minded to grasp it all).

Not long before the Thumper’s rant; the Supreme Court acknowledged “same sex” marriage as, essentially, legal. Loving couples that have been together, suffered indignities, denial of rights and benefits are now “legal”.

One of our major political parties, well-funded, not much fun really are struggling with these events. They’re afraid to confront the Thumper (ass though he is) because he’s a scrapper…but they really want that one group’s vote. Problem.

“Same sex”, well, anything is law…but we have been against it for so long; how are the voters responding.

Not a Party, candidate or current ideal is seeking the human vote, standing up for the persons (a collection of Individuals, unique and yet part of a thriving community).

So much for the political front; what of the home front.

As these events have unfolded, the SWMBO has expressed great fear that the world as we know it will soon end. A gay fairy, I imagine, will be flying over the land touching all the children (and adults, except her) and the United will be dancing naked in the streets, tossing flower petals in the air, boys kissing boys, girls kissing everyone. All leading to the fate of “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

And as for the Thumper’s rant: “We all know he’s right, but you just can’t say it out loud”.

There is no understanding in the house

The Irish have come so far as to have had one of their own elected president; but, in this land, we have a far distance to travel before we look about and find the persons that are around us. And politicians go beyond the quest for the “human” vote and seek the human (within?)

Yep, September is Special

Being kind to oneself is the start of being kind to others, any other show of kindness is just show.

Tomorrow is the first day of Autumn.

Leaves are changing colors, Day light Savings Time will end.

I have begun my Halloween preparations.

This is Dystonia Awareness Month.  And to think you almost missed that…I have been aware of TD (Tardive Dystonia) for years now.

I have many things to be grateful for because of TD: My ‘Shedding “Spaz” status’ handle (I can talk to you here annd you’re not distracted by my spastic presence); I have saved a small fortune on dinning out, afraid to attract too much attention in restaurants (admit it, the people that are a little different always get your attention); I have become intolerant of unkind judgements of others toward the “imperfect”.

Not all aspects of Dystonia are the same.  Imagine waking up in the morning, getting out of bed, stretching and looking down at your toes…and that will be your pose…for the balance of your waking day.

You can be sure that the buttons of your shirt are well done, belt perfectly positioned…but unable to lift your head to look in the mirror; apply your makeup with the mirror flat on the counter, put on the finishing touches to a lovely face that no one will be able to see.  “Remember to make eye contact during the interview, hon.  Oh, sorry.  You’ll be great.”

That would be Cervical Dystonia…for some.

I have the distinction of being a lunatic and as such have been given “mood stabilizers”, “anti-psychotics” for years (read that decades) and I ‘suffer’ with Neuroleptic Induced Tardive Dystonia; at times I can’t talk, the vocal chords are constricted and don’t move, whereas my face doesn’t stop moving, my left arm and hand look as if I’m working on some elaborate chord progressions for my next ‘air-guitar’ concert.

Upshot, read the warnings on your Rx’s, talk to your doctor.  Some are born with Dystonia, some acquire it and like many motion disorders, there are treatments.

If you have been diagnosed with Dystonia, run do not walk to a neurologist that specializes in movement disorders and find someone (professional, friend, a chat room) and talk…self-induced isolation and demeaning oneself is not the answer.

There are times when I stop the jitters; when I sleep, when I’m concentrating on a project and when I meditate.

The best definition I have found for meditation is:

Sit softly in the silence between the noise of your thoughts.  This is meditation.  This is real love.

I have been away from WP for some time, caught up in my own muck and mire of depression and self-pity.  One of the “projects” that takes me out of myself are the few Vlogs I’ve done.  I have another to tape and post this afternoon and in honor of Dystonia Awareness Month, this will be sans the motion editing.  Be warned.

peace out pilgrims.

be ever so kind to yourselveskindness

Image from unknown photographer posted Feb. 2014, titled “Kindness”.  If anyone can identify the artist or the post please let me know so that I may properly credit and please, all, follow this person, he has the eye and the heart of a true artist.

Hello…Good-bye…Later

For those that have not noticed, I have been away.  I was way down under, down under a large pile of covers.  This served a dual purpose; I was wonderfully warm and cozy and with the covers pulled over my head I was invisible (well it seemed to work when I was three).,

I was dragged from my hiding place kicking and screaming; “Mom is expecting us for breakfast, get dressed, you can have your coffee on the way.”

“Mom”, is Marion (Wicked Witch of the West, one of the octogenarian couple and mother to the SWMBO), Marion is suffering with cancer and is at present going through the first of four cycles of chemotherapy; I have assisted with her in-home care.

“John (elder brother to the SWMBO and present care giver to “Mom”).wants to have a talk.”

Family conversations, at least those within the SWMBO’s family, are not on my top ten best things; actually sitting in on one thiumeir conversations is like being a very special corner of Hell.

Dad (John senior, male component of the octogenarian couple) was at the kitchen staring at his empty coffee cup and trying desperetly to reach through the fog of his dementia and remember what he was going to do with this thing in his hand.  “Mom” was in her bed, sighing, afraid to get up, mentally reviewing her morning list of medications, “Cyndi”, she yelled down, “do I have any Imodium…I have to have Imodium, I’ve got diarrhea again.  Where’s my orange juice, can’t take my pills without my orange juice.”

John (the elder brother)sat in the blue wing-back chair tucked in the far corner of the living room, his face concealed  by the open book he held.

“How long has she had diarrhea, Johnnie?”

“Since Thursday.”  He turned a page.  “I’m leaving next Tuesday .”  His head turned slightly to his right as moved his gaze to the next page, he paused briefly and again, turned the page.

“Mom, and you making it to the bathroom alone?  Michael, make sure she’s cleaning herself.  Michael’s going to get you down for doughnuts.  When are you coming back ?”  The SWMBO was definitely in the house.

Never revealing his face, “Don’t know.”  Another page gone.

The SWMBO’s voice could be heard throughout the house, “John, come to the table for doughnuts.”

From his chair, eight feet away, “Don’t eat breakfast.”

“Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts.”  Dad looked from box to box opened on the table.

“Dad, you’ve eaten three jelly doughnuts already,” I said, “can I get you more coffee?”

“Three, are you sure?  They were really fresh.  Three?…Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts…when they’re fresh.  Are there any jelly doughnuts?”

On the ride home; “You’ll have to stay there through the week; I’ll come over on Saturdays and you can go home over the weekend.  You’ll have be back Sunday afternoon.  That should give you time to take care of our yard.  I think you know that the only way this is going to work is if they move in…its the only way we will be able to spend any time together…its the only way they can save any money…its the only way…and when I’m home, I can help you with them.   Oh, State Farm wants everyone in the Division to put in fourteen hours OT every month.  If you were still working I would be happy to retire and help more.”  The SWMBO was driving, nibbling on her fingernails, interrupted only by a need to adjust the temp control.

“…its the only way” was fading away as in my mind I pictured climbing under a large pile of blankets and once more becoming invisible.

 

 

Dear friends, with my new (insane) schedule and the duties involved, I will be restricted to writing one day a week.  I promise to share my meditations from the weed garden and observations and conversations with warriors of the finest ilk.

The NW Oncology Group, here in Kennesaw (GA), provides chemotherapy treatments for 60-75 victims of cancer daily.  Some, like Mom, once a week, others; every other week or so.  There are no masques there, no casts, they face a common foe, and…and there are no tears.

There are smiles, gregarious outbursts of affection, it is never quiet and there is much laughter.  I can not say I know the cause, I can only speculate at this point, but I hope to find out what it is that brings light and laughter into their lives and I promise I will share.

 

peace out, pilrims

 

My Clock

 

 

“Michael, you are going to have to look after Mom and Dad.  Gather your things.”  The SWMBO said in her most endearing voice.

She was referring to the ‘Octogenarians’; the Wicked Witch of the West (Mario) and he who does not/cannot/will not listen (John).

“Yes, dear.  How long will I be staying…just to be sure how many of “my things” I will need to gather?”  I said over my shoulder as I made some futile adjustments to my clock.  It is a two hundred year old case, mostly, with a great number of original workings; the balance found on “Stealitback.com” and canabalised parts from more contemporary clocks.  It runs 2 minutes, 38 seconds slow in any given 24 hour period; as close as I will ever get.

 Between 2100 and 2130 every night I Wind the clock and the chimes and set it just short of 3 minutes fast, every night that I’m home.  “How long do you think I’ll be there?”  I said a bit louder.

“Johnnie will be coming down to help out after his trip to Hawaii, he is going to need to get his things together; close the house, take care of his mail, visit the cousins…oh six to eight weeks.”

“They are your parents; you, John, and Chris…is Chris coming down to ‘help out’?”

“Johnnie’s doing all he can, Chris is just too busy and you know I have to hold down my department.  And you, you’re not doing anything…you’re retired.”  The SWMBO walked from the kitchen to the living room, TV remote in her hand, “Pack for a week, I’ll relieve you after that.”

 “Gotcha.  Hon, please remember to wind the clock.”

 Nine days later I received a rare call from the SWMBO, it was 1000, “Yes, luv?”  With the SWMBO it was always best to ask what she wanted first; the conversation was going to get there soon enough.

“I’m having a miserable day, everyone knows how hard it is on me, Mom having cancer, and with the chemo side effects, everyone thinks I should be with her.  Well, at least I’ll beat the traffic.  Make sure you have finished their back yard.”

“Its been three years since a self respecting rake would be caught dead in that forest. How do you expect me to have it cleaned up.  Did you forget I’m feeding your mother and father, arguing with both about any PT and carrying her up the stairs to bed.  You do know that she can walk up stairs perfectly well and all of this is just to torment me, don’t you?”

“Whatever, I’ll be there soon”

Not long after the garage door open, I was certain it was to the sound of trumpets sounding.

“Hello, Mom.  How are you doing?”  The SWMBO yelled out to the living room not looking for a response; from the corner of the couch a small, frail looking figure with very thin silver hair mumbled…something.

“I was going to talk to him about that right now, don’t worry.”  The SWMBO’s superhuman powers were astonishing (and not a trifle scary).

“I know you wanted to take your little fishing trip, after the chemo and all…”

“That won’t be for three or four months and I am taking “my little fishing trip”…and?”

“We’ve talked about that, and you’re spasms…you need to use your cane so much now…and your voice…well we, Mom, Johnnie and I feel you would not be safe, wading in streams, you could fall…and…and drown; we really can’t let you do that.

“Oh when you get to the house, the lawn is a mess; take care of that, walk Duchess and QVC has a Quacker Factory program at 6:00pm, I’ll need to be home for that.”

“Gotcha, back in five hours.”

“Oh, Michael, Johnnie’s been delayed another week.  Love ya.”

The garage door at the house squeaked a bit, I’ll need to lubricate that.  I walked through the door from the garage into the living room, my 18 year old puppy, the cats Poe and Callie were all asleep on the couch; Alix would be stretched out to capture the sliver of sunlight that escaped the blinds in the office at this hour.

The house was quiet, save Callie’s snore and the silence was ripping a hole in an already injured heart.

There was no ticking as the pendulum would have swung, back and forth; the dark wall clock, with the two  hundred year old case, mostly, was quiet.

The clock hadn’t been wound.

I took the ten minutes to properly set the time, wound the clock, set the pendulum in motion.  I watched the slow movements of the hands now set almost three minutes ahead.  Content that the world was right again, I shut and locked the case.

Image

“Duchess, baby”  I said as I scratched her ears and kissed her head, “Let’s go for a walk and I’ll leave the leash on so you’re not committed to chasing the rabbits.  And then treats…before I mow the lawn.

 

 

peace out, pilgrims

 

 

Weed Garden

 

I love my weed garden (there is not a single cannabis plant to be found).  I am the only human in the house that shares this sentiment.

Over the years I have planted trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials around the house and throughout the yard.  Digging here is much like anywhere in Georgia; there is red clay and there are rocks, rocks of every size, shape and mineral imaginable.  The rocks went into a pile; I called it, my pile of rocks.

On one particularly hot summer day, four years ago, I envisioned a rustic rock wall, along the culvert that made an eight foot deep cut into the little hill that is my back yard.  The culvert runs for about a hundred feet before sliding into the five foot diameter drainage pipe beneath the lane.

It was an ambitious plan and after careful thought and a chilled beverage, I scaled back my vision of a wall to about twelve feet.  Even so, it was still a lot of rocks to move.

As happens with many of my visions, things changed.  The wall I envisioned moved from the top of the hill; I carved instead into the bank and stacked the stones.

Just beyond the top of the wall was every imaginable natural, wild growth to be found in Georgia.  One year the rains carried blackberries, blackberries that grew in grand proliferation; to the delight of the neighbor’s children as they approached the brambles with buckets and visions of jams and pies.  The storms came and as storms are want to do, they brought change; the blackberries were soon replaced with fragrant honeysuckle (and poison oak, not the best year).

It was that year of the ‘fragrant itch’, in late spring the wall evolved, into a garden.  The pile of rocks all but disappeared and became three small, terraced sections, bordered by rough stone walls.  Taken as a whole, the garden was shaped like a leaf.

I turned the earth, that wonderful Georgia red clay, and added fresh soil and turned it again.  I planted… wild flowers. In a few short weeks, tall, gangly green plants had pushed through the soil and raised their heads of yellow, orange, blue and red to the summer sky; and then the fun started.  Bumble bees from three counties took up residence, along with a host of butterflies and by early July, the humming birds.

I took to having my morning coffee; sitting on the wet grass beside the garden, the new inhabitants took little or no notice of me even the feral gerbils that had burrowed their way in (chipmunks).

Today, once again, the SWMBO, informed me that the garden, like my unkempt hair was “unbecoming” and had to go.  One is going all too fast on its own, the other…not by my hand, if however she wished to disassemble it…

As it is every Spring Season, the garden is overrun with weeds and leaves from the old sycamore that had at last surrendered to the assaults of wind and lightening.  Vines of various types had worked their way up from the culvert and through the cracks in the wall; some moved the stone in sections and that part of the wall would be redone and others anchored the stones in place, like a living thing.

Familiar earth, rich and black, turning easily, as a familiar shovel blade cut into it, weeds give up their hold, for a season.  Soon I’ll sit quietly in the grass and listen to the sweet music from my little weed garden.  And I’ll smile, a lot.

Peace out, pilgrimsImageImageImage

Untitled (which is a title actually, isn’t it?)

It’s taken me six days to remember how to breathe; and I’m still trying to master sleep.

At this point I will issue a product warning:  this is the season of Lent, a time when I reviewed all the things that I might give up; chocolate is a favorite, ice cream (that’s a biggie), when I was younger; sex (solo and shared).  This has ben a year of changes and reflections; this year I was going to take more on: more prayer (10% of my day, 2.5 hours), teaching Sunday School…giving, not taking on.  So I prayed on it, right?

Answered prayer is a bitch.

I am with the octogenarians, parents to my wife, the SWMBO.  I asked to do this(?).  Mom has been diagnosed with a cancer; it has metastasized to her spine…limiting her movement in shoulders, arms and hands and has brought on pain, pain of a level she had not known before.

Now let’s us introduce pain meds, fun for a day or two and then the hallucinations, the falling and an unpleasant disposition.

We’ll add in a heavy dose of denial, “mini-strokes” and the onset of dementia.

Do, do be sure you ask for what you want in prayer.

Communication is a challenge;  Drs. don’t recognize my status, they talk to Mom, I remind her of the conversations and I’m a liar, Dad’s in the room, physically.  “Dad, do you understand what we are going to be doing?”

“What’s on tonight?  Tues is NCIS?”

“It’s Friday”

“Mom, we have to be at the Interventional Radiologist’s office in half an hour, have you got everything?”

“I don’t want to go, I don’t need to go, I’m strong.”

“If you walk away from this fight without the weapons they’ll give you…you’ll be weaker in spirit and body and you will lose.  And you may very well die.  It will kill you.”

“Give me your hand and we’ll go get you signed in”

“I hate you.  No one is going to run my life.  Don’t treat me like a child.”

“I know…you can call your insurance company and see if they will cover a care giver you like…after we get you signed in”

Dear readers,

Did you know that there are things YOU can do to help a cancer patient, their family and care givers endure the time before, during ad after treatments.

Every treatment center waiting room has a book exchange with very limited numbers of old, for the most part tasteless, paperbacks.

You’re writers, artists and readers; collectors, gather books; stand up at your Starbucks and ask.  For those that are truly bold, volunteer yourself for twenty minutes a month and make sure that the two shelves on a small book case has something to offer…maybe your new tome.

Answer someone else’s prayer, qietly let them know that someone cares when they may in doubt.

Peace out

mw

Who/What Am I Today

The daily question: What am I going to do tomorrow.  How stupid is that?

0500, the SWMBO is showering, preparing for another day in the “orifice”.  The kids ; fed, moderately played with, walked and soon to be neglected for the balance of the day as I sneak away…to meditate…to meditate on the question: should I continue my studies to become a meditation instructor?  How stupid is that?

My turn to prepare for the outside world; the donning of the distractions; ornate rings on either hand (two for the right one for the left), several bracelets, leather and wood, outlandish socks, poly-chrome shoes, stylish cane and always a hat.  Always an odd old bird, but few see the tremors, the twisting and jerks, or so I like to think.  Like a four year old that makes himself invisible…by covering his eyes. How stupid is that?

This morning its take the octogenaria to the hospital, more tests…still no answers

I’ll wait ’til tomorrow to answer all my questions.  Really, just how stupid is that?

Illustration: Calligraphy-Zen Art by Qiao Sen

CalligImage