photo

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photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Tale of Two Weddings

I'm not a big Royal Watcher.

Never have been, never even wanted to be a princess when I was a little girl.

I wanted to be a train engineer.

But as luck would have it, I woke up at about 5am needing to pee and the TV was still on from when we went to sleep and there it was.

***The Royal Wedding***

Seemed like a whole lot of falderol leading up to the "I do's" and I couldn't help but wonder if Kate knows what this particular "I do" means for the rest of her life.

Poor Wills was born into it and doesn't know any different, but from that moment right after a middle aged hippiechick in deep East Texas peed and crawled back into bed with 2 scruffy terriers and her handsome beloved husband Kate Middleton's private life was OVER.

Don't get me wrong- I LOVE weddings. Shoot, I've had three of my own.

But it struck me that contrary to the happy ceremony a wedding is supposed to be, it seemed to me to be more akin to a sentencing- there wasn't a smile in the house- from the families to the guests to the little choirboys in their ruffly-necked gowns everyone looked so damn SERIOUS.

Now I admit, not everyone was happy at my last wedding- the flowerdog took an immediate and permanent dislike to the judge in his sinister black robe and growled the entire time, glaring up at him from under her waggling eyebrows. But the judge, the guests (all 4 of them), Ward and myself? All grinning ear to ear- this was the happy union of 2 people ridiculously in love, the culmination of an extended courtship and the leap of faith that said "This is the person- I've finally got it right".

Of course we didn't have the stress of knowing if we'd said our vows with one of those little boogers that cling to yer nose hairs just inside the nostril it would've have been noticed by millions of people live and millions more in replays...forever.

I don't recall just how much the Royal Wedding cost, but I do know that for that amount of money, the damn trees they lugged into the Abbey should've been not just green, but covered in fragrant blossoms and abuzz with butterflies.

I'm sitting at my desk looking at the dried bouquet from my wedding...a dozen lavender roses from a roadside stand- $2.50 for the dozen- tied with a length of pink ribbon. From back across the years I remember wiring them and tying them together...at work. Before our lunch-hour ceremony, Mexican restaurant lunch and back to work for the afternoon.

Kate's dress WAS amazing. Especially the bodice that appeared as though it could've stood up in front of the church at neat attention even if Kate had stayed at home.

My wedding dress was also amazing. I'd found it months before I knew I was getting married and admired it but had no reason to buy it- not that it was THAT schmancy- just a cotton dress printed with tiny lavender and blue flowers and a romantic scooped lacy neckline, but I had nowhere to wear that pretty a dress. What luck that when I needed it, it was where I'd first seen it- on the rack at Goodwill.

Here's the thing.

Weddings, even one as insanely huge as The Royal Wedding, are easy.

It's marriage that's hard.

Not "Wow, this was a bad idea- what the hell was I thinking?" hard. (Although that WAS the case with my first two).

But the day to day living with another human who has moods, whose body falters, who changes opinions and outlooks and ideologies- all these are the Human Condition and we all do it. We're every one of us fallible and fragile, and the hard part is accepting and embracing the rhythm of this dance- knowing that who leads and who follows will alternate with circumstance, that even the music and dance steps may morph into something completely different without warning- the hard part is not getting frustrated or frightened by the changes- but to look steadily at one another and remain...partners.

All this is so very hard in the easiest of lives and in the privacy of anonymity. I cannot imagine the difficulty of attempting a strong, normal marriage while under the beady, shifty carnivorous eyes of The Royal Watchers.

Good luck Kate and Wills.

When I watched your wedding I was not wishing that I could be a princess, but thanking my lucky stars that I'm not.

Oh, and wondering what the HELL is up with those damn ridiculous hats.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mmmmm...It's What's For Dinner

Armadillo- the other white meat that only MIGHT give you leprosy.

Yep, according to a new study, the cases of leprosy in the US every year occur mainly in the South, and it's been linked pretty conclusively (as opposed to the strong hunch of the past) to contact with, including ingestion of, armadillos.

I've lived in the South for almost 20 years now and have adapted pretty well, much to the amusement of my Yankee friends and family.

I'm stuck in accent purgatory, for one thing. Folks down here listen to me talk for a minute and ask "You ain't from 'round here, air ya?" which is more of a statement than question. People from Up North look at me sideways and say "You're tawking funny".

Epicuriously, I did have some culture shock upon landing in East Texas. Instead of the vast array of family-owned culturally diverse cuisines interspersed with the common comfort food fare of the corner taverns I grew up around East Texas offers...TexMex. And Fast Food. And restaurant chains claiming to be multi-cultural but for some reason the "Mexican" food tastes just like the "Chinese" food tastes just like the "Italian" food.

I had to learn to eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day for luck.

I've always hated peas. And beans. Even jelly beans. Now I tolerate most and even like a few (including the black eyed peas, which if made right I can eat by the bowlful- recipe below)

I've learned to make cornbread in a cast iron skillet in the oven, to bake biscuits and whip up sausage gravy that could make yer mama whistle Dixie.

I've prepared and eaten more wild game in the last 20 years than the entire 30 years before that.

But never armadillo, and now I guess I never will...*sigh*

Whenever some Wisconsin Yankee gives me shit about Southern cooking, I just look them dead in the eye and utter one word-

*Lutefisk*

Texas Caviar

1 16oz. package blackeyed peas
water
1/2c cider vinegar
1/3c olive oil
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2c chopped parsley
3 green onions, minced
1 hard boiled egg for garnish

Rinse peas in cold water and discard any stones or shriveled peas. In dutch oven over high heat bring peas and 6c water to a boil- cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour.
Drain and rinse peas, return to dutch oven, add 6c water and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes or until peas are tender- drain.
In medium sized bowl, beat vinegar, olive oil, salt, sugar, red pepper and garlic till mixed. Add peas, parsley, green onions and toss gently to coat.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Garnish with chopped egg and serve.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Remember When Fringe Was Just For Bell-Bottoms?

Fringe

noun
1.
a decorative border of thread, cord, or the like, usually hanging loosely from a raveled edge or separate strip.
2.
anything resembling or suggesting this: a fringe of grass around a swimming pool.
3.
an outer edge; margin; periphery: on the fringe of the art world.
4.
something regarded as peripheral, marginal, secondary, or extreme in relation to something else: the lunatic fringe of a strong political party.
5.
Optics . one of the alternate light and dark bands produced by diffraction or interference.


Fringe is great stuff. Take a ho-hum denim jacket and add some suede fringe and you've got style. Adorn a boring lampshade with red satin fringe and you've got a boudoir. Take a plain rear view window and staple up that little bally fringe while placing a nodding stuffed chihuahua on that shelfie thing and your car cruises with just that much more smoooooothness, Baby.

Fringe adds pizazz, embellishes elegantly or accents eccentrically.

But you have to be careful, because by its very essence fringe has a life and movement of its own, can be caught up and snagged, jammed in zippers or sucked off by the vacuum cleaner. It's sort of unpredictable that way, which is its bane and beauty both.

Human fringe is no different.

People tend to dismiss those considered "on the fringe" as tiny minorities who may be vocal enough to get attention, but don't have clout (or organizational ability) enough to do much damage. So they're good for a laugh, and some diversion, but no real cause for alarm.

But here's the thing.

Fringe People are generally very very charismatic and compelling, even in their obvious delusions. There's something outstandingly powerful and pure about a belief that's so strong it doesn't need the backing of facts behind it, no details, no debates, all black or white.

During times of social rest, The Fringe can be patted on the head and told "That's nice- here, have a cookie", and the rest of us go on, chuckling a bit behind our hand.

However, now is a time of decided social UNrest when large numbers of people are frightened, disillusioned, disheartened and worried. What our leaders are saying is not comforting but confusing, not uplifting but depressing and people want more than anything to not have to think about the bad stuff, not go on slogging through the maze of work and bills and repeat- the day to day curse of the grown-up.

People want compelling charisma. Someone to grab them by the scruff of the neck and scream "I CAN FIX THIS IF YOU LET ME." (Quieter and more soothingly)"It's going to be OK- I've got the answers right here...lemme be the grown-up for a while..."

The Fringe gathers together the fears in the night, the floating anxieties, the shadow threats with no faces, knots them together like a magician's scarves and pulls safe easy answers out of their sleeves- answers that fix everything quickly, easily and only at the expense of others very different from whoever their audience is.

It's tempting to pay no attention to The Fringe, to say "If you give them attention you'll only encourage them".

Remember that quotation "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer"?

This man needs close attention paid to him. This man is truly dangerous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cLxQ4B23_g

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hey, I'm Not Just Crazy, I'm Weird Too

My name is Sheri, and I raise guinea pigs.

Because admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Actually, I have no intention of going on the guinea pig wagon any time in the near future. I've been raising and showing pedigreed guinea pigs for over 30 years now. Yes. There are such things as guinea pig shows, yes there are such things as pedigreed guinea pigs and yes I have been raising them for over half of my life.

When we built our house, BEFORE we built our house, the house for the guinea pigs went up across the creek and under a century old sweet gum tree- see?



It's a most excellent house- cement floor, double screened all the way around, plenty of room for the (pick a number between 50 and 70) guinea pigs all with names and pedigrees going back to when I was a charter member of the Wisconsin Cavy Breeders Club (Cavy = guinea pig).

And here some of ya'll thought I was just some crazy, angry, irrational old hippiechick earthmother when in reality I'm (also) certifiably downright odd.

Just how odd am I?

I currently have 3 breeds- Coronets-



Satin Coronets-


and Merinos- a breed that's not recognized for showing here in the US so I'm one of just a handful of breeders working with them. I don't care. In a GOOD year I'm able to attend 4 or 5 shows, but I live with the guinea pigs every day so I raise what I like and I like THESE-


It honestly takes longer to feed and water just the guinea pigs than the entire rest of the farm- dogs, cat, horse, goats, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, turkeys AND humans.

So, the other day I saw an opportunity to incorporate some real life ciphering into the home schooled boy.

"Last week, when we cleaned this cage there were 12 baby guinea pigs in it. Sadly, the 2 tee-tiniest ones went to guinea pig heaven, as sometimes happens in very large litters. So- how many babies do we have left? Tell me what you figured and then we'll count them as we take them out of the cage".

Boy told me we had 10 left (because it's an easy question- him being in 6th grade and all).

And we counted the babies as we took them out. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

Moral of the story- Guinea pigs make terrible math teachers.



My buddy Wendall- the day he won Best In Show over 100+ other guinea pigs of 8 different breeds.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If Only I Could Travel Back In Time And Tell Myself It'll Be OK

Why?

Why am I re-running stuff from the most horrible few months of our lives?

Shouldn't I just let it be, let it go, let it burrow into the lint-filled layers of my brain like last season's mouse droppings in Pink Panther pink insulation?

I dunno. What I DO know is that alot of my beloved readers weren't here last year, and to see this stuff is to understand just a bit of why I'm pretty much constantly pissed off, always glancing over my shoulder for the other cosmic shoe to crush my skull and generally certifiably batshit crazy.

What I DO know is that while re-reading and therefore mentally re-living this stuff brings back a ton of really unpleasant feelers- fear, frustration, panic, anger, exhaustion- it's also so very real and important that I acknowledge that we're looking back at it from a place we only dreamed of a year ago- both where we are physically and just the pure capital M miracle that we ARE still a family, we ARE still together,

the nightmare did end.

And that's important because when I wrote what follows, there truly was no end in sight.

So please bear with me just a little longer- and know that tonight I breathe deeply of the honeysuckle trailing the length and breadth of our 12 acre speck of heaven, filling lungs that have almost forgotten the smog and exhaust fumes and pre-breathed air already exhaled from the lungs of 4 million other people.

Almost.

Friday, April 23, 2010
"Fish Out Of Water Desires Rental Lungs and Feet"

I'm a Leo.

The feline fire sign.

But I'm not an inside cat by any stretch of the imagination. I prefer outside to indoors unless it's below about 50 degrees- then you'll find me curled up by the fireplace. I'm a fire sign- I crave warmth.

Even wildly mis-planted in Wisconsin for my first 35 years, my preference was always to be outside as long as the above temperature requirement was met, and even then, during the long winters (which last from October 1st thru May up yonder) I'd make a break for the outdoor world frantically every month or so when a flash of Nature would lure me out into it where I'd breathe deeply- the icy air filling my dusty lungs- I can't take a full breath inside.

There are 8 hours or so every fall that hold the perfect autumn hues in a grasp of perfection- not the sunny blue-skied days of magazine layouts, but one day with heavy charcoal clouds pressing down on the woods and the lowering sun infusing and drenching each leaf with glowing vibrancy- denying the reality of the next days' withering, browning, brittle descent into quietly composting anonymity.

The aftermath of a midnight snow storm- the full moon seemingly within reach and so brilliant the stars fall out of the sky and lie twinkling at your feet- each snowflake reflecting a faraway sun in the deep of an earthly night.

Early spring, when the rain falls before the air is warm, encasing everything in a transparent glistening frozen cocoon- tree, twig, budding leaf and flower- all surprised and often broken by the very substance they need to live finally come after a long winter, but just that much too soon. Timing is everything.

So even in Wisconsin (Native American for "Land of the Three Day Summer") my natural environment was Outside.

I preferred camping to shopping, hiking to TV watching, a day at the out-of-the-way nature preserve to the stuffifying interior of the school building.

Even as a grown-up, gainful employment to me needed, if not actual exposure to Outside, at the very least I required to be where I could see it- to know if it were morning or evening by the sky instead of the timeclock, if it were sunny or raining by sight and not the weather channel.

Working for a flower shop as an all-around gal, I was out delivering arrangements one day and one bright bouquet went to a medical transcription office (in the days before home computers, that's what they did). I walked into the windowless, music-free office filled wall to wall with women wearing headsets and concentrating on their work- the only sound was the ticking of keys. I felt panicked, strangled, it was suddenly very difficult to breathe as I realized that this was their life- 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and I thought horrifyingly

"This is hell".

Finally not being able to ignore that little voice screaming "MIGRATE SOUTH" any longer, I found what I was looking for- East Texas, filled with forests, water, hills, and the lazy luxury of tremendously long wildflower-filled springs and crazy quilt colored autumns with just a smidgen of "wow- hot" or "kinda chilly" dividing them.

Now my Outside Spirit is in its element- even when inside, our windows are generally wide open- our house merely a roof and a few walls giving the illusion of shelter, and even when too cold, it's not deadly frostbite cold, just mildly annoying for a few days.

Except.

This last few years have seen many times that I've been forced Inside- more than just inside an office building or behind a desk, I've been bent, folded, spindled and crammed into the very un-natural element of a very large city.

Now, I honestly can't say I've hated every minute of it.

I've hated the REASON we're here- just one of a huge herd of Cancer Families making weary frightened pilgrimages to lay our loved ones on the altar of medicine- leaving sacrificial parts and pieces behind.

But as granola munchin' tree huggin' nature lovin' as I am, I've always appreciated the things only large urban areas can offer- museums, theater, music, culture both high falutin' and local, and have always thoroughly enjoyed my excursions into large metropolitan areas from Chicago to Miami, from Los Angeles to Washington DC.

My terms, my choice, my call as to when to escape back to the quiet and peace of the forest- cherishing and grateful for what I've been able to experience in the urban jungle, and so thankful I don't have to live there.

We're currently on our 18th day of a 6 day trip to Houston.

My husband lies in ICU- the very epitome of "ravaged and wasted" after a string of events only the devil himself could put so cleverly together. He's fighting for life, for his wife, for his son- and in tiny steps is climbing out inch by torturous inch back to his family.

And while I feel enormous guilt at every moment not spent at his side, I also know that I need to be 'out here' for his son, that both our son and I need something other than the suffocating surroundings of the hospital, that even while our hearts break at the knowledge that Ward's trapped there, in that bed, inside his faltering body, we know that when he wakes fully up he'll not be angry about the hours we spent away from his bedside, but all those we did.

So we go. And do. And see. And every experience we try to engrave on our memories to share with him- make plans to do again- with him.

Being an Outside animal trapped in an Inside world, I can only tolerate the hospital for a few hours at a time- then I must flee literally if only for 10 minutes, and I stop at the cafe for something to drink or a snack and maneuver through the interior maze, out the door, between cars and buses and taxicabs and ambulances to the tiny garden planted artfully and hopefully betwixt the hospital and the busy street and I sit face lifted towards the sun- shoes kicked off, eyes closed, breathing slowly if not deeply for the smog and the exhaust fumes. Before heading back inside I bury my nose for one deep breath stolen from the heart of a rose- not my favorite flower, but as close to heaven as I can get right here, right now.

My family has been forced to adapt to this environment- and while gleaning and benefiting from the many offerings afforded by it we are not thriving.

We all three of us look to the day we can turn in our rented lungs and feet, and dive joyfully (if exhausted) back into our beloved Pineywoods, leaving only a slight and quickly fading ripple on the surface of Houston- to a time when we will again only emerge by choice, and not be forced out by circumstance.
Posted by lunamother at 5:41 AM

Monday, April 18, 2011

DejaVu's a Real Bitch Sometimes

Fine. I get it. Whatever.

I came home from a day at work (accounts receivable/write-offs/collections for over 4 hours straight- the reason for my sunny disposition but no excuse. At. All.) and found dirt all tracked in on the clean floor that I just swept and sharked YESTERDAY. Dishes in the sink. Dog...leavings...in the bedroom, dog...chewings...in the living room. The trash overflowing.

And it took me literally 8 minutes to clean it all up and restore the house to it's (semi)pristine condition of 10am.

So in the grand scheme of things, the Grievous Offenses were really not anything- certainly not anything for me to bitch about causing my husband and boy to go silent and sad as they walked out the door to go to tae kwon do class.

I looked up last year's post from this time frame and here it is.

In tears, I called the boys and caught them before class. I've apologized, but like most instances "Sorry" doesn't make it better. But like 100% of the time I've been forgiven, nay made excuses for by my boys. "It's OK mom/baby- you're busy and stressed and we should've paid better attention. Don't worry- we love you."

Which only makes it worse.

So here ya go. Timely. Pointed. True.

Giving Up the Illusion of Control

I'm an ornery ol' cuss.

Oh, I know on the outside I look pretty harmless- a half century old hippie chick with long graying hair, smile lines around my bi-focaled eyes, and gravity obviously luring my "pointier parts" back into Mother Earth. My wardrobe's from Goodwill, I am loathe to wear anything but flip flops, I spend no money on makeup, manicures or haircuts, and wear jewelry I've made out of natural stones plus a few cherished but simple pieces.

Not a very formidable front.

But on the inside I've always held that Sicilian Mama belief that most things in the world flat can't run without me at the helm. No one can cook like I can. No one can clean the house like I can. No one can pay the bills, organize our son's schooling, run my place of employment and the home farm like I can.

Without me supervising, my entire family would be wandering around outside, unfed, unbathed, probably pants-less.

If anyone offers to help with any of the above, my answer has always been "No thanks- I'll take care of it".

And I did, for a very long time.

And I still do, mostly.

But something happened about 4 years ago. My husband's health needs made it impossible for merely me to take care of everything. We were required to spend large amounts of time away from home, and that took me away from the helm, the rudder, the gist of the matters and left me relying on...other people.

This rankled. Alot. For I still thought I could handle everything alone.

But much as I wanted to- there was no way to feed and care for the farm while I was 200 miles away from it. Friends and neighbors stepped in and even though they did not do everything exactly as I did, nothing died. In fact, a few things they did differently were so sensible, I smacked myself upside the head in wonder that I'd been doing them otherwise for years.

And much as I wanted to- there was no way to be at my place of employment at the same time I was at the hospital with my husband. So I learned to delegate, and found that my employees were not only willing to help, they were happy to help out and take on additional duties for the duration. And the business did not go to hell in a handbasket.

And even when we ARE home, I've learned that my family consists of intelligent, innovative humans who have both complex thought processes AND opposable thumbs and that they are capable of helping out on the home front.

The boys cooking dinner with the help of Mrs. Stouffer's every so often will not kill us.

Boys who dust AROUND knick knacks instead of lifting them and dusting under them do not cause a rift in the time-space continuum.

My husband can, and does, teach our son with a patience and imagination I could never achieve.

They can even (mostly) remember to wear pants outside of the house.

The most difficult thing of all had to do with money.

Alot of our friends and family live far away and cannot come give actual, physical, haul the hay collect the eggs scrub the toilets help. But they want so badly to ease our pain, our hurt, our difficulties that they send their love in the form of cash.

This bothered me more than anything else, this sending of money. It smacked of neediness, of helplessness, of weakness.

So I'd refuse politely but firmly, sending money back to the gifter while simultaneously worrying about how to pay for the next medical disaster.

Until.

One of my friends lost patience with my bullheadedness.

She railed at me in frustration- demanding me to put myself in their shoes, to reverse the roles. "What would YOU do? If any one of us needed anything you'd be there to help in a heartbeat, and if you couldn't come personally- YOU'D SEND MONEY and be offended if it were returned".

She told me that by not allowing my friends to help us, I was doing THEM a great dis-service, denying them the only option open to them to ease my family's distress, our worry, our hardship.

I learned to say "Thank you" graciously and sincerely.

When asked what we need, I've learned to answer honestly with our current concerns instead of saying "Nothing, we're fine", when we so clearly are not.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm still a nit-picky eagle-eyed terror on medical staff and am daily an unreasonable harpy to my family.

But I've learned now that I don't have to shoulder the entire load the entire time the entire way- that the only one who even expected that of me was...me.
Posted by lunamother at 10:10 PM



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Meet You Down at the Soup Kitchen

It's just before 8am on a beautiful morning, and I'm sitting at my desk watching the sun rising up through the springing trees on the creek bank. The dappled rays stream through the windows and skylights of the dining room next to me- the house quiet except for the quarterly reports from Ward's mom's Grandmother Clock in the living room. The boys (night owls even worse than me) are still sleeping and even the dogs haven't ventured out of bed yet. Everyone is snuggled down safe and warm and Home.

Today's "Look Back" has to do with homelessness- something I think about often and have been faced with more than once. No one aims to attain it. No one plans for it. It's something that happens with a flash of Mother Nature, the violence of flames, the slow agony of job loss and late fees and phone calls and letters and the sheriff at the door, or something that happens while you're focused elsewhere...like a hospital bed made up with sheets and blankets and monitors and your loved one.

Anyone who says "It could never happen to me" is foolish. Matters not how well you've moved the game pieces of your life- the ones shaped like money or faith or networks of other equally fallible humans, rest assured it COULD happen to you- is already happening every day to people who thought they were secure.

And it slays me that at a time when so many are floundering with the burdens of health care and the lack of employment and the fallout of predatory lending fanned by our As Seen On TV societal goal to Live the American Dream, there are people who are not just pushing for, but SCREAMING for and demanding that even the little gains in humanizing our country and strengthening safety nets for those who need it- for women and children and the elderly- for all that to be cut away in the name of Smaller Government and Fiscal Responsibility.

How short-sighted do you have to be to not realize that it's YOUR family, YOUR future, YOUR life on the line? The bad shit does not just happen to other people. The safety nets are not just there for the terminally weak that should be culled from the herd anyway.

Because at the end of the day- that's every. Single. One of us.

Homeless and Hopeless in Hermann Park

Houston Texas has a huge homeless population. Not surprising since it's the 4th largest city in the US, and it's blessed with being in a very mild climate.

You see them everywhere, if you pay attention.

Under overpasses cardboard walls crumple in on meager possessions that only look like refuse to most of the rest of us.

Tucked into empty lots, backed into doorways, people lost from within and invisible from without wile away the days that all must run together in a never-ending procession of nightmare and surprise.

We noticed the Houston Homeless on our very first trip there. Those first years' pilgrimages to the cancer hospital included our little dog who would go to Doggy Daycare while we were otherwise occupied, and Doggy Daycare was past the hospitals, past Hermann Park, and just past the Museum District.

That first morning we were stopped at a stoplight in front of a church. Not Sunday morning, yet the entire yard was filled with a queue of humanity quietly silently awaiting entrance. It's a soup kitchen.

Where the Homeless go during the day I'm not sure, but one winter evening we were retrieving our little dog just after dark, and though the parents and children, bikers and joggers had long left Hermann Park, the Homeless had appeared like Ghost Moths- hovering lightly and and almost luminously in their nocturnal perches.

I was so preoccupied with my husband's health, I didn't give much thought to the Homeless of Hermann Park till we were faced with an Incident.

Illness has taken a great financial toll on our family- we no longer have a credit card, and very little cash. I try to bring as much extra cash as I can, "just in case", and this particular trip I had brought 7 days' worth of cash for what was supposed to be a 4 day trip. My husband contracted MRSA in hospital and we were there 10 days, not 4. Not 7. Ten.

Now, the hospital allows patients to cash a personal check a day for up to $50.

Our hotel room was $65 per day.

I was able to cobble together enough to survive, stay in the hotel, eat, and coast home on gas fumes, but that little episode gave me pause and I couldn't help but wonder

How many of the Hermann Park Homeless have family members in one of the many hospitals of the Hospital District? We came perilously close to "camping" in our auto that last few nights. What if I'd been OUT out of money, not just ALMOST out of money? What if my husband had been delayed by MONTHS instead of days?

In the last 8 years we've been with insurance, without insurance, and on medicare. Ward's been employed and unemployed. We've had medical trips when we've had money and medical trips when I've literally felt like I've gone begging for funds.

But the one thing that's been lurking at the back of my mind- behind the weedy shrubberies and crouched next to an old shopping cart- is the knowledge that like so many people who are "one paycheck away from eviction", without our safety net of family and friends, we'd be truly and honestly "one medical procedure away from living in Hermann Park".

What happens when the money runs out before the medical emergency is fixed? We're currently here 2 weeks and with no foreseeable date to go home- ground to a halt by a snowballing hairball of unexpected complications. We thought we'd be here 5 days- 7 at the most. We've got options, and support, and more love than a family can absorb without overflowing, and we're OK. We can weather this storm under roof and with full tummies.

But what if we didn't have those options, support and love?

What if we didn't have a computer that linked us with people around the world who care about us? What if I'd been working several jobs to keep ahead of disaster while caring for a family and ill husband and didn't have the time, energy or heart to make and keep friends who we could fall back on?

What if we were truly alone, as so many families are in our fragmented society?

I refuse to leave Ward here, trapped helpless and afraid in a hospital bed. If I had to, I'd live on a park bench to be with him every day.

How many of the Hermann Park Homeless are doing just that- is that why they seem to disappear during the day? Are they next to the bed of a loved one- holding a hand- reassuring them that everything is alright although it's anything but?

The Hospital District in Houston is the largest in the WORLD- just this cluster of hospitals employs 65,000 people- every one of those hundred or so waiting in the soup line could slip into any one of those great maws of medical care and be totally not noticed in the crowds.

And how many have left the hospital for the last time- mechanically leaving the empty shell of the worn out patient- going through the motions of walking, navigating hallways and crosswalks on automatic pilot- their bodies weighted to the earth while their sanity frantically flutters after the soul of the one just lost- up, up and gone- not caring what happens now to their own broken-hearted shell.

I wonder about these things.

But I'm mortally afraid to know the truth.
Posted by lunamother at 8:34 PM



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nope. Still Not Bored...

Today's look backwards is a tough one. I believe almost the worst part of the entire ordeal and that's saying alot.

One of those "Things looking up for ya'll? *snatch* Just kidding!" moments Fate sometimes lays on us to be sure we understand and remember just how tiny and powerless we really are.

Every day. Every minute. Cherish 'em all, because they are numbered and once gone can never be gotten back.

Spare Me the Drama, Mama- I Crave Some Mundane
I vividly remember our most recent family hug.

It was Sunday night, four days ago now.

Much like any other of a million family hugs- Ward, standing tall and strong, myself wrapped in his left arm, his son wrapped in his right- the three of us twined into a human pretzel held together with comfort, love, and familiarity.

We were only slightly inconvenienced by the IV's and drains attached to Ward, and the IV stand didn't get in our way at all.

It was a good hug. Nay, a great hug- filled with relief and exhaustion and joy all mingled together. Ward was absolutely and completely light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel into healing after a very rocky week following what was supposed to be a pretty routine, albeit extensive surgery.

Alec and I left the hospital feeling good, Ward went to bed feeling good- we all anticipated Ward's release from the hospital by Wednesday at the latest.

Wednesday. Yesterday.

I'd fallen asleep fitfully- I'd caught a bug in hospital after a week of worry and sleeplessness and eating sparsely and horribly- and was just then feeling the full effects- dizziness, nausea- when the phone brought me suddenly, adrenalin-ly, sickeningly awake at 1am.

Ward needed emergency surgery immediately. In the middle of the night. But they assured me it would be a quick fix and he'd be back in his room by lunchtime Monday.

It didn't work that way and he's now lying in ICU attached to a ventilator and in congestive heart failure.

And I wonder whatever happened to "normal".

I asked my son yesterday if he could even, in his ten year existence, remember a time when our family life didn't consist of hospitals, operations, recovery, repeat. And though he made light of thinking it over, he was serious when he said "No. Not really".

I'm trying to come to terms with our new reality- not our beloved old knock-around house at the edge of Brownsboro TX (pop. 756)- chickens in the yard, turkeys on the porch, drifting off to sleep to the chorus of millions of spring peepers down by the pond, but this hotel room in the middle of Houston (4th largest city in the US of A)- the non-stop cacophony of helicopters and ambulances rushing to the hospital district glowing just a few blocks away.

And as crushing as living here with no set ending, no date we can circle on the calendar, is- we refuse to leave without Ward. He's here. We're here. They tell us it's going to be a "very very long haul" but that's fine as long as we're all here and all together.

I've known Ward for 16 years and we've been a couple almost 15. This is not my first go-around on the relationship/marriage train, but this is the only time I can honestly say there's never been one minute- one second- that I've ever thought "Hmmmm- this just isn't working out".

Ward's the best friend I've ever had, the best father I could ever imagine for Alec, and truly the Love of My Life. And even though I'm surly, argumentative and difficult, for some reason he feels the same way about me.

But while other couples- even those who still love each other deeply- stagnate and flounder a bit under the day to day child raising and working and bill paying, wishing for some excitement to knock the dust off of their routines, we crave the opposite-

Quiet. Normal. Boring. Stay-at-home Life.

I know, from tuning into every morsel of his being wrapped up, trussed up, invaded and hooked to machines that surround him carnivorously, that he can hear me. I hold his hand, and talk to him, and at sensible times there are signs- the twitch of his hand in mine, the raising of an eyebrow, the flicker of an eyelid, the rising or lowering of his blood pressure all tell me he's fighting as hard as he can- that no one wants to go home more than he does.

So we wait. And I keep him company, holding his hand and reading aloud to him in an almost insane caricature of normalcy. I pretend not to notice the nurses and others coming in and going about their medical business- the business of keeping my husband alive till his body is strong enough to once again keep itself alive.

And outside the hospital walls, I meet other people who complain petulantly about the irritating habits of spouses, or the boredom of their jobs, or the tiring mind-numbing chores inherent in the raising and training of children and they look at me like we're all in the same secret club and ask "Yanno what I mean?"

I think of what I wouldn't give right now to find beard hairs in the bathroom sink, or a collection of half empty soda cans abandoned around the house, or even to simply be at home in our own bed- together.

And I can't even feign thinking about it before answering, "No. Not really".
Posted by lunamother at 8:42 PM

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Love Letter To Our Friends

Yep, it's another look back to a very dark time- a year ago day after tomorrow I wrote the following post, and although things have turned out more marvelously than I could even conceive of at the time, two things have not changed.

The strength of our family unit and the love of our friends.

For everyone who was there, and who is still here, and who has shown true love in good times and bad, this one is for you...again and always.

The Dixons love you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
When Just Being Thicker Than Water is No Damn Good At All

"Blood is thicker than water".

I never did know what the hell that was supposed to mean. I mean, first of all- duh.
Second of all, so what?

I've found that in a pinch, when push comes to shove, when your back's against the wall and when the shit hits the fan, merely being "thicker than water" doesn't cut the mustard. You need a rope, good and strong.

And in actual practice, most of those that could be defined as "thicker than water" have been about as useful as tits on a bull.


My folks have helped us out as they could- so they're excluded.

Ward's mom was an angel.

But by and large, when we've really needed help- and unfortunately that's been a frequent event- it's been our friends who've rushed forward to catch us, to hold us, to steady us and keep us from going over the edge.

So years ago, we stopped depending on our blood relatives, and started forming our "real" families of people we knew would be there for us.

That's not unusual. Alot of people do that. What is unusual, is that instead of banding together with others just like us, our "real" family is an amazing combobulation of religions, genders, nationalities, races, orientations, ages, and
political scope. I credit the interwebs with allowing us to meet such a glorious lot, although my innate oddness would've ensured that our manufactured immediate family would not resemble our neighbors' at all.

Right now, my husband and his wife and son are in the most distress we've ever been in. He's in ICU at a huge cancer hospital and on a ventilator- not breathing on his own and in possible congestive heart failure.

Our home and farm are being cared for indefinitely by a huge bear of a man from Montana who's moved into our home and family- we've turned him into an old chicken herding hippie, and he's Friend to Ward, Uncle to Alec, and he has me packing a purse pistol named Thelma.

The friend our son thinks of as his brother drove down for the weekend and took Alec to NASA and a grand tour of the seedier parts of Houston.

My friend of over 30 years who lives in the Dallas area drove down after church to spend Sunday afternoon and evening with Alec.

Our friends who live in Houston are there always- on call- to take any or all of us out for distraction or into their home for comfort.

My home school moms are coming here tomorrow to be here for us.

Alec has had offers literally from around the country by people who want to take him into their homes- protect him, love him, support him while I deal with the mundane horrors of the cancer hospital.

Alec, Ward and I have faced 8 years of this mess together and together we'll face this go-round. Together. We're not leaving here without my husband and Alec's daddy.

People call me and email me and message me from around the world. We're being prayed for, candles lit, energies and jujus sent, and all gods and spirits called for strength for my family.

Friends we've met, hugged in real life, and those we haven't, from sea to shining sea, both new and one I've known for 35 years are there at the touch of a mouse, or the tapping out of a phone number.

We feel the love as a shawl around our shoulders- warm and sheltering.

Our friends ARE our Family- better than some sticky ooze that's claim to fame is being "thicker than water", our friends are our rope- and we cling tightly to them while being beaten down by the storms of illness. Over and over and over again.

They are stalwart. And true. And without them we'd have drowned long ago.
Posted by lunamother at 7:45 PM

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Real Life Magic

The first spring I lived in the old house, the kitchen window was graced with a luna moth- silently grasping the window screen- lovely, delicate and magical.



The following spring, and many after saw a solitary luna moth on the same screen window, and I took it as a good omen, and had a luna moth tattooed on the back of my shoulder so she'd always be with me.

One year I thought "Surely it's not the same moth?" and I looked up the life cycle of luna moths.

Well, it wasn't the same moth. Luna moths go through an astonishingly short life- egg for a few weeks, then FIVE stages of caterpillar- each one molting as it outgrows its skin- then the cocoon phase, and finally the moth emerges.

The moth emerges for one reason only- to mate and lay eggs. Then it dies. In less than a week. So rigid is this time frame that luna moths do not have mouths. They can't eat. Planned obsolescence.

Which makes their beauty sadder, yet more special.

Fast forward to our new house, this being the first spring here.

Imagine my happiness at seeing a luna moth perched on the screen about a week ago. A good omen, for sure.


Then, the next day there was another one.


The following night there were four dancing in the porch light (the very tenuous nature of their existence obvious even then as seen by the one on the bottom).



The morning after that, there were THIRTEEN moths on that porch- one a mating pair.


I reviewed the information I had on the moths and found that one of their favorite foods is all up and down the creek right outside our door- the huge majestic sweetgum trees.

And we were overjoyed at our luck and our blessing of the moths- they were EVERYWHERE- on top of the baby chick tub...

...attached to the feed sacks...

...snugged into the door jamb...



But a week goes by awful quickly, and last night there were four.

This morning there were none.

Tonight there is one tattered and weakly clinging to the screen next to my computer- still lovely, delicate and magical.



But on the side of the big tub on the porch are a spattering of black dots- eggs.

And in a few weeks we'll be watching for the tiny caterpillars to emerge and start the cycle over again- a cycle that can repeat three times a season in our area of the country.

Till then, I'll carry them with me in my heart...and here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's Not Just Cinco de Mayo This Year

So May 5th is the National Day of Prayer.

I'm OK with that. If people want to pray to the god of their choice in the place of worship of their choice I say "Go for it- say 'hi' to God for me".

Here's what I'm NOT OK with.

I'm not OK with it being mandatory that everyone from me to the President acknowledge the day by, yanno- praying a prayer of Christan faith.

By its very definition, a National Day of Prayer is wildly UN-constitutional. I don't think I could find a more obvious NON-separation of church and state if...well, hell- I can't even THINK of a more obvious NON-separation of church and state.

But if you MUST have a National Day of Prayer, at the very least it should be inclusive, meaning TRULY a day to worship the god of your choice and belief.

In other words- no whining about Muslims praying that day- no assumptions that they are asking Allah to smite the Christians and Death to America, even though the Christian god is clearly getting plenty of requests to smite the Muslims and Death to Islam.

I'm attaching a video- I don't know if it's going to be aired to the general public, or just to the Christian public, but either way it's sorta crazy scary.

And at least to me, very offensive.

Like, all you need to do is pray. To the Christan God. And the black storm clouds will spare you.

So all those people in every natural disaster who died did so because they didn't pray hard enough, often enough or the right way?

Bullshit.

I guess I'm a little twitchier today about this stuff than I was say...a year ago. When Ward was so sick- in intensive care and the doctors couldn't tell me when he'd wake up or IF he'd wake up, I had one friend say something to me that absolutely froze my heart.

I know she didn't mean it judgmentally. I know she loves me. I know she said it out of her very deep and real faith and I could hear the kindness and concern in her voice and I know knowing ME how hard it was for her to voice the words. I love this friend.

It was something like "Maybe Ward's being so sick is God's way of telling you it's time for you to get right with Him- turn back to Him."

My immediate (and still to this day) reaction, said sincerely and from my heart and without venom was "If your God is the type of god who would make MY family suffer to punish ME, I want nothing to do with him".

(Actually, according to the bible- the God of Abraham IS the type of god who makes good people named Job suffer to win a bet with Satan).

Anyway, this video rubs me all kinds of wrong so I was compelled to share it with ya'll. I've not tried to embed a video before- my guess is you'll have to go to the bottom of the page and turn down the playlist music first. Sorry 'bout that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl7TBjRI9LE&feature=player_embedded

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Joke Ain't Funny Anymore- Lets Move On

Yanno what chaps my hiney?

Well, ya...gettin' close and personal with Ward in the woods without benefit of a blanket does. But OTHER than that...

The Tea Party.

I woke up this morning to a news interview regarding the budget crisis and every other phrase from the mouths of the interviewer AND the interviewee was "tea party".

As in..."Your backers in the Tea Party" and "Will the Tea Party allow that?" and "From the messages we're getting from the Tea Party"...

What The Hell?

Last I checked, the Tea F&$King Party is NOT a recognized (as in official, organized, on-the-ticket) political party in this country. When we go to vote, our options are generally Republican, Democratic, Independent and occasionally Libertarian and Green.

That's it. No Disney Character Party even though Mickey's been a popular write-in for generations.

No Hannah Montana Party, no Christian Party, no Grateful Dead Party, and NO FREAKIN' TEA PARTY.

It all started when Michele "I AM looking at the camera- I see through my ears" Bachmann was given air time after the State of the Union speech. That gave it the illusion of cohesion and permanence and I dunno...something other than batshit crazy.

And all the people who LOVE it and JOIN it say "It's a grass roots thing- the little people gathering force to Take Back America".

*Really*

A quick Google search finds (on page 1 of over 600,000 results) that there are 5, count them FIVE most vocal and professional-looking "THIS IS THE OFFICIAL TEA PARTY PAGE" pages.

Two of them (www.theteaparty.net and www.teapartypatriots.org) have 501K status as non-profit organizations.

Interestingly, the Tea Party Patriots openly claim (in Wikipedia) that they have a staff of 7, which is not a bad thing- every organization needs a staff, and if they are working full time, they SHOULD be paid. I get that. However, it states that their payroll is "around $50,000 per MONTH" (capital letters mine BECAUSE I CAN'T STAND IT).

I manage an animal emergency clinic for 19 area Veterinarians in an area servicing over 100,000 people. My monthly payroll including myself and 2 licensed Veterinarians is under $25,000 per month.

The seven employees of The Tea Party Patriots are hauling in over $7,000 each for over $85,000 per year. That's a shitload of grass roots.

Two more of the "only official" Tea Party pages (www.teapartypatriots.ning.org and teaparty.org)are owned by basically "some guy", one of whom is in uniform.

The fifth one (www.teapartyexpress.org) is under the umbrella of www.ourcountrydeservesbetter.com which is an unabashed conservative PAC. Political Action Committee. You know- people who want LESS government *snicker* but who are funded, fed and housed by big corporations.

But I digress.

My POINT, my REASON for frothing all over my keyboard this fine sunny morning is not that the Tea Party Movement isn't complete bullshit smoke and mirror manipulation of people by the very entities who are destroying America (although that's true enough).

My POINT is that the Tea Party is NOT a political party and should NOT be given the standing of one.

Seriously, otherwise why aren't we hearing "You know, AARP won't stand for it" regarding the proposed cuts in Social Security and "I don't think the NRA will allow that" whenever the issue of gun control comes up and "Hmmm...repealing the new health care law will institute death panels for tens of thousands of members of the American Cancer Association so we need to re-think this". All of them are 501 organizations- all non-profit. For damn sure, they all have more members individually than all the "official" official tea parties put together.

Here's the thing.

We need to do some re-arranging in how our money gets spent in this country- everyone and their dog knows that (HSUS- another 501 non-profit).

Why the hell is One Uber-vocal Uber-strident group of people- not EVEN an organization- so able to strong-arm and bully their way into the thought processes of elected supposedly educated officials???

How can one SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (who is rabidly anti-special interest group)attempt to dictate an entire country and instead of being shushed and sent to the back of the room be given air-time and credibility??

If you think the answer is "Because the People have spoken and the politicians are quaking in their boots and are listening" I'm sorry.

If you think the answer is "Because the water in DC has been poisoned and everyone there is now mentally and morally defective which will be followed by them all turning into slime mold and oozing into the ground" that would be one (albeit imaginative and wishful)explanation.

If you think the answer is "Because the Grass Roots of the Tea Party are deep in the pockets of the very corporations it vows to cut off at the knees and like playing Chutes and Ladders with a three year old, they are giving the members the illusion of winning the game when they alone know that bedtime is quickly approaching and the house will be peaceful and quiet without the toddler in the way to mess stuff up anymore" you have a gift of kickass run-on sentences...and you win.

No. Wait. We all lose.

Dear politicians in Washington and media personnel everywhere-

All the Tea Party is managing to do is muck up the waters and hold up progress.

We know who their puppetmasters are and have seen the little man behind the curtain.

Seriously- their "leaders" are Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann? You all held a poll and picked the three most certifiably insane, ignorant (yet pliable) characters to sacrifice to their cause, didn't you? *COME ON- FESS UP*

Fine. It's hilarious. You got the most fearful and gullible of the Little People good. It's been like watching someone "fake throw" a frisbee for a labrador retriever- fun for everyone for a few minutes but now it's old and we're running out of time.

Now get them the hell out of the way and get to work.

Regards,

The 99% of the American People Who Are NOT TEA PARTIERS

Monday, April 4, 2011

One Year Ago Tomorrow...

...our world changed, and not in a good way.

Now we were unaware that this was about to occur. We were in Houston at MD Anderson for the 4th grafting of the area that Ward had cancer in- the cancer was in the muscle around and behind his eyeball and he lost that eye, the muscle and a lot of bone and tissue to get rid of it. Though he's been cancer-free for almost 4 years, because he's diabetic and because they radiated the shit outta the area (didn't help- the cancer came back even quicker after radiation) he has healing 'issues'- the grafts flat don't have viable tissue to take root in and they fail.

By "fail", I mean they go along just fine for months, even years, and one day there's a little hole in the graft, right on the edge. Then another one. Then they get bigger and tend to get infected. They fail and must be removed and replaced or he'll end up contracting one infection too many.

This happens to his grafts because so much has been removed from the area that there's an actual pathway from the back of his graft to his sinus, and since humans aren't air-tight, every time he breathes it shifts the cells just a bit. Until there's a hole. Then every breath makes it bigger.

He'd had 3 previous grafts- one here in Tyler which was doomed from the beginning since it was just a skin graft (and unbeknownst to us the cancer was STILL THERE), and 2 at MD Anderson at the hands of Dr. Hanasono- a brilliant surgeon and genuinely kind man who's done more of these grafts than anyone on the planet- seriously.

But they failed, all of them, and we were set for our 3rd Dr. Hanasono graft- the exact same surgery he'd had twice before by the same doctor in the same hospital.

*What could possibly go wrong?*

Well, for starters...This-

Monday, April 5, 2010
When Even the Queen of the Universe Can't Fix It

It's now 11:27pm, and I've been up since 4am.

At 4am, my family got up, showered, and headed to MDAnderson Cancer Center for our 6am check in time for my husband's most recent surgery.

For eight years- over half the time we've been together, and for most of our son's life, my husband has been fighting with cancer and the after effects of that plus heart disease and diabetes.

We've had mostly good medical staff, some outstandingly brilliant medical staff, and just a few dismally inept medical staff, and I've learned something vitally important in all this-
medical staff are human.
They have many patients and must attend to technical important things like dosages, reactions, and proper protocol. There's not much time left in their day to consider that every body they tend is also a husband, mother, child, grandparent.

Patients are more than organisms in need of healing- they are cherished members of family circles.

In what continues to be touted as the best health care nation in the world, every patient needs, not as in "This sure would be nice", but as in "If the patient does not have this he/she may die", to have a patient advocate who is not afraid to ask questions, not afraid to speak up if something seems 'off', and who is Family- because no one cares for each patient as passionately as a family member.

Tonight, by chance, on our way out the door I happened to overhear the nurse say she had been given orders to administer Tylenol to my husband for pain. He's in the beginning stages of liver disease and should NOT take Tylenol. Ever. That was confirmed by bloodwork taken here, at this hospital, truly one of the best in the world, less than 4 days ago. I alerted the post-op nurse of this and she changed his medication instructions accordingly. If I hadn't been there, my already weak and compromised husband would've been given a whoppin' dose of the very medication that has wreaked havoc on his liver.

But I digress...

My darling was wheeled out of pre-op at 8am- headed for his third total grafting in less than 4 years. In between blood clots in his heart and having to go on insulin for his diabetes, today they did a total new graft on the area where they removed cancer (three times)- only one graft was done post-cancer- these last two have failed due to healing issues.

That area is up on his head- where his right eye used to be. It's been microsurgeried, enucleated, radiated, re-surgeried, and now grafted three times.

They've taken donor tissue (muscle and vessels)from his neck all three grafts, from his forearm once, his side under his other arm once,and this time from the leg that wasn't already harvested for veins they needed for his open heart surgery almost 15 years ago, and skin grafts now 4 times.

And every time he goes in with resignation I cannot believe and bravery I cannot fathom.

He keeps on not for himself- this is a man who never asks for anything, ever, but for us- his wife and his son- and we spend the entire time he's asleep, and in recovery, and till he's healed willing the medical staff to take care of him and willing him to be strong.

This time he was in surgery from about 9am till about 4pm, and had a more difficult time with recovery than the other times- he wasn't moved to a regular room till after 10pm. We're relieved that he didn't need to go to ICU even though he needed a transfusion for bleeding during surgery.

Many many people- family and friends of all of today's surgical patients- crowded the surgical waiting room today- starting all at 6am. By noon, about half of them were gone, and by 4 most of the rest were gone. Only a few of us were left then- the ones whose precious family members were undergoing 'extensive procedures'. He was one of the last out of the recovery room.

I'm exhausted. Our son is exhausted. I know my husband is exhausted.
We all just want to go home now, be a normal family and do normal stuff.

But we haven't had that careless scenario for a very long time.

The spectre of illness hangs heavy over our heads and it makes me crazy with worry, with frustration, with white hot anger at this curse on a man who deserves it less than any human I've ever met.

So we're here- ripped up by our roots from our beloved Pineywoods and thrust face-first into downtown Houston for the duration and many many re-checks to follow- in the last 4 years we've gone no longer than 4 months without a trip down here for one appointment or another.

As I'm typing, I just now told my son to close up his computer and try to get to sleep- he was playing a computer game with almost frenetic intensity after spending 15 hours cooped up in a cancer hospital. His computer was not fully closed before his eyes were and he's already sound asleep.

I'm headed to bed as soon as I make myself some tea, or maybe cocoa- I've spent all day trying to think of something to write here- something clever, or thoughtful, or important.

But in the end, this is it- what our family has learned at the expense of a 'normal' life- when even the Queen of the Universe can't fix whatever's wrong the only thing left is to love each other with a little more fervor, cherish each minute you can reach out and touch a loved one, be patient, and kind, and selfless.

Petty arguments and disagreements are time-stealers and we're all alotted a finite amount of minutes- grudges and revenge are abominations.

Tomorrow begins another round of recovery for my husband- closing my eyes all I can see are his poor ravaged features and opening my eyes I gaze on my sleeping 10 year old boy who's seen much more physical horror than most adults.

And yet they both look to me for strength- when the truth is my strength is a reflection of their character.

Love each other. Be strong for each other. Cherish each other.
I am the Queen of the Universe and I so decree
.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Just a Glance Backwards To Steady Ourselves...

So yesterday was Date Day for Ward and I. We have a weird house, a weird life, a weird family- there's one Mom and everyone wants some of her time to themselves. Of course Mom still needs to work, and take care of critters, and write, and yanno...sleep. On a good day I get to pee by myself.

Enter the Institution of Date Day for everyone. More like a Date Afternoon, because really.

So Tuesdays Alec and I have Date Day- we go to the mall, or the book store, or other shopping venue an eleven year old boy enjoys. Lately we've been going to the schmancy Fresh grocery store that just opened up- I tossed a cookbook into the back seat and he picked out what we cooked for dinner that night (and it was awesome).

There is always a snack involved.

Saturdays Joe and I have Date Day- we go to Home Depot, or Tractor Supply, or other shopping venue a sixty-eight year old boy enjoys. Lately we've been going to the schmancy Fresh grocery store that just opened up- we grazed through the deli and brought home a veritable smorgasbord for dinner that night (and it was awesome).

There is always a snack involved.

Fridays Ward and I have Date Day- we try to go for a walk in a park, or run some errands, things an old married couple in their 50's enjoys. We may even go to the schmancy Fresh grocery store that just opened up, but just spending time together alone is more precious than anything (in fact, it's awesome).

Of course, there is always a snack involved.

Here's the thing.

One year ago, almost exactly, I came horrifyingly close to losing Ward. And though it may seem odd or morose to commemorate such an awful time in our marriage, our lives, it's important to not stuff it into the back of the closets of our minds- important to not forget it.

While we're in the middle of experiences that are wildly good or hideously bad we say to ourselves, "I will never forget this", but you do. I do. We all do.

So for the next few months, off and on, I'm going to be re-visiting and re-posting blog entries from that time. I'll be sure to open with a warning, so no one reads them and thinks "HOLY CRAP- it's happening AGAIN".

Because that would be cruel. I'm many many things, but not cruel.

Date Day yesterday Ward and I walked the Azalea Trail in Tyler. It was dazzlingly beautiful, and I took alot of photos. On a whim, I took one of us- one of those "hold the camera at arms length and grin" photos that are considered a success if no one's head is chopped off.

And as dazzlingly beautiful as the banks and yardsful and mountains of flowers were, my handsome, brave husband was the most beautiful part of my day. Is the most beautiful part of my life.

See? Just try to deny it...

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