Before the nightmare begins (2)…

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I dreamed about President Obama last night. We were standing side by side and I had my arm around his skinny little waist. I looked up at him (He’s way taller than I.) and I said, “I love you Obama.” I suppose it was too up close and personal for him to respond, “I love you back.”

He did, however, give me that famous sparkling smile.

I learned recently that I actually know a person or two who are going to PEOTUS Trump’s inauguration (or as I sometimes say in-nausea-ration.) I suppose any inauguration is historic and worth attending. This one is especially so because it’s the first time we’ve elected a fascist.

I’m seventy-three years old and have voted in every election since I came of age. This is the first time I have feared an inauguration would be the beginning of a very long four-year nightmare.

I pray I’m wrong.

Shirley – my sister, my friend.

img_1392Losing a sibling is a unique personal tragedy. My original sib club consisted of five, one boy, four girls. Now we are three sisters. We lost our brother a number of years ago when he was only 61 years old.

Last night, my oldest sister Shirley died. Over her lifetime she suffered from numerous serious illnesses, any one of which could have ended her life, but didn’t. I can’t recall how many times we thought she was slipping away from us. Somehow she always pulled through for another stab at this thing we call life. We sometimes joked that she had nine lives. If we took the time to count, I think it may have been more than nine.

Shirley had been on kidney dialysis for the past three years. We, her family, watched as she appeared to get weaker and more tired by the day. I wasn’t terribly surprised when her oldest daughter called me a few days ago to tell me that my sweet sister, after discussing her condition with her three daughters and her doctors, had made the decision to forego any further treatments. She was exhausted. She simply couldn’t take it any longer.

I’m exceedingly proud of my sis for making a courageous decision but I have a huge hole in my heart, as do we all.

When I saw her at the hospital on Friday (the last time she was able to talk with me) she had a peacefulness about her that let me know she was at ease with herself. And she still had her sense of humor. The nurse pointed to me and said, “Shirley, who is this?” She smiled and replied, “That’s my sister and she’s the oldest.” That was the last giggle I had with her. I was hoping for a few more days.

Shirley leaves behind three beautiful daughters: Sandy, Toni, and Sonya. She was also the grandmother and great-grandmother of a whole bunch of wonderful children and young people. We miss her.

Shirley Winkler Earp (02/22/1939 – 10/16/2016)

 

Born a feminist…voting for Hillary.

baby-718146_640I entered this world many years ago. I wish I could say I came in (out) kicking and screaming. That would establish an aggressive and dramatic image of things to come. Unfortunately (or not) the reality is the opposite. According to my mother I failed to cry right away. The doctor used cold water to shock me. That’s how I took my first breath.

One might think the cold water would have upset me but apparently it did not. Well, if it did, I didn’t hold a grudge. Mom said I immediately started sucking my thumb and snoozing. I was an easy baby. I loved to eat and sleep. I still do.

I can’t say exactly when I started to notice gender inequities. I think I was quite young. Maybe five or six.small

I remember that my dad was the boss of the family. He made all of us toe the line, including Mom. I recall thinking a few times that she should get my baseball bat and take a swing at him but she never did. I knew then that I wanted a more equal partnership when I grew up.

I noticed as early as first grade the seemingly favored status of boys versus girls. My brother was required to look after me when we went somewhere together. At first that made sense because he was two years older. I started to recognize, though, that he was given the job because boys were supposed to take care of girls. I found myself puzzled because I was more responsible than he.

For years I noticed and noticed and noticed

Girls were told what to wear. No pants/jeans after elementary school. We must look and behave like ladies. Yuck! To this day I detest the word lady/ladies. It’s used to remind women of their place in society. It’s used to avoid using our real designation – women.

We were told what we could become when we grew up. Secretary, nurse, teacher. That’s it.

My daughters started to notice as well. One day my oldest told me girls weren’t allowed to work at the school’s recycle center. Different boys were chosen each time, but no girls (emphasis, hers). We agreed that I would write a note to the school expressing our concerns. I’m proud to say we got immediate results. Girls were allowed from that day forward. Lesson learned:  Ask respectfully and you might make a difference for yourself and for others.

As I observed, I developed a keen sense of fairness and justice. I read Marilyn French and Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. I started to understand how things needed to change. I could, in fact, help to instigate positive change. I learned how women’s lives could and should be better.

I was thrilled when women started to run for public office. We started small but look at us now.

I find it difficult to express how joyful I felt when Hillary Clinton became the official nominee for the Democratic Party. I have been waiting for this my whole life. I won’t rest, though, until she becomes our President.

I’m puzzled by the Hillary hate. I can see why some white men might have a problem with a woman in the highest office in the land. It verifies what they already knew but probably would not say — that their iron-fisted control of everything in our society since our beginning is tenuous. It has been for quite some time now. It’s probably what has destroyed the Republican Party. Fear is a great motivator and they are afraid. Probably as afraid as I am that Trump will be elected.

I am especially concerned about the women who are Hillary haters. I don’t understand it. I encourage you to research Hillary. If you’re watching just one news source all the time, you’re not getting the full picture. Watch all of them from time to time.

Vote for HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON. I am.

Thank you for reading this rather long post.

 

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Hillary Rodham Clinton.

 

Pluviophile.

PLUVIOPHILE: (n) a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.
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The definition above is the most simple one I could find to describe this lovely word. The meaning is evident to anyone who spends time taking apart and playing with language. I love words. I like saying them, sometimes even when I don’t know what they mean. I looked this one up just to see if there were some undertones or overtones that I could learn. And there are. There can be a sexual connotation. There are some who would argue that a Greek word would better fit the definition. Don’t remember the Greek word. Have some fun — look it up.

Sometimes I’m a pluviophile, sometimes not. This is the second day that we have had constant, steady rain day and night. We need the rain. We’re a little below our average. That knowledge makes me more accepting of rainy days than I might be otherwise. And when I become intolerant, it’s usually because the gray skies; the lack of sunshine is taking a toll. As you can see in the photo above, an umbrella a la Monet goes long way on a rainy day.

IMG_1082-2I love the way the rain wets the remaining, soon-to-fall, colorful leaves and gives them an almost neon brilliance. This scene is my constant companion as I write and enjoy the gas logs in my family room.

I was a serious lover of rainy days as a child. My brother and I used to beg our mom to let us play in the rain. If it wasn’t lightning she would sometimes relent and out we’d go straight for the puddles where we squished mud through our toes. I know she didn’t like the clean up that followed our muddy forays into nature but she was a good sport about it. Fortunately, not all of her five children were eager to play in the mud. That would have meant a really big mop up.

I don’t care for the way the rain wets the steps I have to take to get the mail. I have what used to be considered a rural-type mail box. Now they’re used in neighborhoods and subdivisions in the suburbs. Mine is at the foot of my driveway, not far at all. Far enough, though, to be iffy when wet.IMG_1087

Not long ago I wouldn’t have given a second thought to a little rain on the steps or the sidewalk. That was before I took that life-changing fall in October, 2014. Now I find myself ever alert and checking out the big picture and the minute details a great deal more carefully. Are there wet leaves on the wet steps? Is there a rail I can hold? Am I wearing appropriate shoes? Is my phone in my hip pocket? And you get the picture.

The challenge, of course, is to live each day as normally as possible. I’ve never been a scaredy cat and I don’t intend to be one now. I still have some spontaneity in me but I’m more likely to access it on a fair weather day. That doesn’t mean I stay in on rainy days. It does mean I routinely do a quick mental scan about what I’m wearing, whether I have plenty of gas in my car, and how tired I am.

I’ve learned that I much more likely to make mistakes when I’m over tired. I also know that the statisticians predict that I am MUCH more likely to take another debilitating fall because I had the first one. My goal in life is to prove them wrong. The challenge is to disprove their theory by living my life as normally as possible without becoming obsessed with the possibility/likelihood of falling. I’m walking tall and straight with a firm step. I’m thinking positively. Always.

Whenever I think or write about rainy days, I start enumerating the many songs I know about rain and rainy days. If you’re in the mood, check out my Bob Dylan link to one of my favorite rain songs  www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6v5HrfeeV8

Going home.

pavilionI’m going home tomorrow. I’ve been away since October 19. I wish I could tell you I’ve been on an extended vacation. But I have not. I’m happy, however, to report that I can chuckle  as I take a moment to remember the dreamlike haze of many of the nights I spent here under the influence of drugs, given to me to help dull the pain enough for me to sleep.

I hope to write more about the use of drugs to manage pain. That will have to be a future post. This post must be short because I’m tired, sleepy (but can’t sleep). I’m both excited and scared about being home again. You see, my home, my safe haven betrayed me and took me down back in October. Or maybe my body was the betrayer. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

Just after midnight on October 19, I had insomnia and so I decided to get up and go downstairs. Sometimes moving to the couch allows me to doze off and sleep for the rest of the night. I managed to descend about four steps when suddenly I found myself skiing down the stairs at an olympic pace. I still don’t know quite how it happened.

I sustained several injuries — the worst being multiple fractures in the sacrum. I was fortunate enough to get my hand on my cell phone and was able to dial 911. (In the US that’s the call to report an emergency.) The service is quite good. I heard the siren start almost immediately.

So, I have spent the last 40-something days in the hospital, and then the rehabilitation center.

I’ve missed reading your blogs and hope to get back in touch soon as I work my way back to I’m not sure what. I thinking a full recovery with lots of determination and patience. Oh, and therapy. Communicating with all of you in the meantime will become a part of my emotional therapy, I’m sure.

And life is still good.

It was a dark and stormy morn…

I awoke this morning to the guttural rumble of thunder and the heavy, constant drumming of rain on the roof.  A morning to roll over and sleep indefinitely.  A lazy Sunday.  I had family most of the week and felt a little tired, in a good sort of way.  I had passed off my Sunday morning duties at church to someone else.  Time to take a break.  Aaahhh.

Just as I was settling in for the long haul, my brain jolted and my body bolted and I realized I had a soccer match to attend.  I grabbed the phone and texted my daughter to find out if the game would be canceled.  Delayed by two hours.  Not bad.  Unfortunately the activity had thoroughly awakened me and I went down for coffee.  I guess my mother goddess didn’t intend me to sleep this morning.  The powers-that-be sent out a cancellation once I reached the point of no return.  I have no doubt the field was flooded.  We got a lot of rain.  (Soccer ball photo, Wikepedia.)

I’m happy to say, though, that I have spent the day on the couch with Lulu, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and some more mindless endeavors which I will not enumerate here.  Lulu loves all the attention.  She reminds me of Sam, a chocolate Labrador Retriever I had (my last pet).  Sam couldn’t get close enough to me.  Neither can Lulu.  I’m starting to think I may be allergic to her long hair but I’m trying hard to ignore the signs.

As the rain started to subside I stood looking out and remembering how I loved rainy days as a child.  Rainy days meant we didn’t have to work in the garden or the yard or the tobacco fields.  Then, as now, I spent much of the day with a book, or several.

Now that the rain has ceased to fall and the sun is trying to take center stage, I feel regret deep in my soul.  Why regret?  When I was a child, even a teenager, I would have put my books aside and gone outside and welcomed the downpour.  I would have squiggled my toes in the mud and I wouldn’t have worried about how wet my hair and my clothes got.  I would have felt joyful and free.  So why didn’t I do that this morning?  I didn’t think of it.  I think that’s sad.  Why didn’t I think of it?  My mom wasn’t here to give me permission?  Ah, but she was here.  She’s always with me.  And I could always talk her into letting me play in the rain as long as there was no lightning.

I’m making myself a note.  I’m going to stick it to the door or the fridge or both.  Go outside, Pat.  Play in the rain!  That’s what it’s for!

There are numerous songs about rain, and I like most of them, but this is my favorite.  It’s called “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and was featured in the movie of the same name, starring Steve McQueen and Lee Remick.  The artist is Glenn Yarbrough. 

Somewhere between Arequipa and Colca Canyon.

Somewhere between the city of Arequipa and Colca Canyon I looked out the bus window and saw this beautiful sight.  I knew I had to snap it even though conditions weren’t ideal.  The weird segmented “creature” in the water just left of center is a reflection of my watch band off the window.

On the right side of this photo is El Misti, Peru’s best known and most active volcano.  Its proximity to Arequipa (about 16 kilometers) would mean a major disaster for that city should it have a major eruption.  It’s had many rumbles over the years but no major eruption in about 2,000 years, although our guide kept making reference to a big one about 500 years ago, and I did find data to back that up.  As usual, internet “facts” are only as good as their source and I’m not skilled at weeding out the bad info.  Nor am I so inclined today.  If our guide is any indication, the citizens of Arequipa take a rather fatalistic attitude about El Misti’s ability to wreak havoc on their beautiful city.

High in the Andes we were able to observe the vicuña.  How high?  I’m not sure.  I know that we stopped a little later and were at 16,000 feet, so this wasn’t much below that elevation.  The wool of the vicuña is the softest, most desirable, and most expensive of all the Peruvian wools.  Our guide told us that one sweater from the vicuña yarn would cost $3,000 to $4,000 in American dollars.  One factor is that this beautiful, graceful animal can be shorn only every three years and must be caught from the wild.  In the days of the Inca, only royalty could wear this superfine fabric.  I suppose that would be true today as well at those prices.

The photo on the right shows local vendors hawking their wares at the highest point we achieved on this magnificent journey.  This is the spot where we stood at 16,000 feet above sea level.  When we first got off the bus I felt a little light-headed, but I acclimated quickly.  We had stopped along the way up to drink more coca tea, and we had coca candies to munch on all along the way.  I have never suffered from altitude sickness, soroche, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I followed the advice of the guides, the literature, and fellow travelers.  Altitude sickness can be quite dangerous and is not to be taken lightly.

Here I am hale and hearty.  Our guide took my picture so I could prove I was there.  Unfortunately, the marker doesn’t give the elevation.  This moment felt like a huge accomplishment.  I don’t know exactly why.  I hadn’t hiked up or anything astounding like that, but I felt as if I were on top of the world, and ready to conquer whatever else I might encounter.  And so we’re off to eat lunch; then on to Colca Canyon Lodge where we will spend the night and partake of the wonderfully soothing natural hot springs.  I’m pretty sure I can “conquer” a bit of food and some hot springs.  🙂