The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Let us forget, with generosity, those who cannot love us.
~ Pablo Neruda

Some words (and things, even people really) are just more interesting out of context.

~ S
I started stacking these to hold reflections, prayerful moments.
it is fun to see them showing up up and down this little part of the trail where we walk.
There is a beautiful Spring just on the other side of this picture, not pictured.  Sam splashes around in the sparkling clear water while I listen for the laughter of ancient children.  Downstream of the spring, into the green of this picture, water dances over smooth rocks and elephant ear and maidenhair fern thrive from the tips of their wet footed roots all the way up and out to the tops of their lush laughing leaves.  It is a Best Place.  Not my best place only, it's like one of the Earth's best places.

National Dog day came and went this week , celebrated here by not giving Sammy the much needed de-stink shower.  He tolerates (intolerants) a spray bath on the back porch better then a house bath, the trade off being no nasty bathtub and sudsy walls for me, a frolicking dry off in the sparse grass for him thus restinking as quickly as possible.
~ with thanks to S

Peach Salsa 
  • crazy good on vanilla ice cream (yes really)
  • delicious on the peach tamales we purchased at the farmer's market last weekend
  • addictive on plain ole white corn chips

Window sill ripened peaches
cilantro leaves sliced tiny
minced red onion and little bity flecks of garlic
shreds of serrano and jalapeño (with the seeds)
or habaneros if you dare
splash of key lime juice 
(and it should go without saying, that's Nellie and Joe's)

like a lost key

These iron globes were hung yesterday and can be seen from every room on the back or my house, they may have become nails rather then forged art, forged as metal in a fire.
We choose who we become.
We don't get to choose how we become, those choices are made by chance and circumstance, we do choose what to make of that though.
It's never as simple as that.

I've had a long look at someone
Alone like a key in a lock
Without what it takes to turn.
It isn't as simple as that.

from The Nails


W. S. Merwin’s poetry first appeared in The New Yorker in 1955, and the magazine has since published close to two hundred of his poems and short stories. His first poetry collection, “A Mask for Janus,” was chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1952. Merwin is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, for his collections “The Carrier of Ladders” and “The Shadow of Sirius.” His work is noted for exploring the individual’s relationship to both political and natural landscapes. In addition to his poetry, Merwin is the author of two memoirs; several books of prose; and translations of Pablo Neruda, Federico García Lorca, and Dante, among others. He has received numerous honors... .

adjective: forged
  1. copied fraudulently; fake.
    "they have illegally entered the UK using forged travel documents"
past tense: forged; past participle: forged
  1. 1make or shape (a metal object) by heating it in a fire or furnace and beating or hammering it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

so long ...

“we travel far and fast
and as we pass through we forget
where we have been” 
~ W.S.Merwin

Waiting outside the "new" school for the afternoon pickup.  Adjusting to a new place, a place where you don't know anyone, is really hard on my kid.  I could see the day exhausted her when she got in the car.  I didn't say a word ... she likes her space and I get that.  She'll talk when she wants to I thought as I shifted into third gear.  
Basically, she hated it.
"do you want to go straight home," I asked, "or make a stop at PANERA or somewhere?"  "I want to go home" she whispered it, trying to control the emotion in her voice, "but I know you're taking me back to the rent house."
She said one of her friends from home texted during lunch . Where are you?!?  I died this summer, I'm in Hell now. was  her reply.  It's gotta get better fast ... !  Please God, we need a little comfort here.  Biggest sister had flowers delivered.  These ->

The smaller arrangement I delivered for the academic counselor at the new school as a thanks for her help.

I spent the day working in the kitchen.  The refrigerator is about a third the size of our "real"one.  The one we left behind.  Things get pretty crazy in there pretty fast. The pantry is a fraction the size we have gotten used to over the years ... I'm really pouring my efforts into making it work too.  The kitchen here is worse then any kitchen I've ever worked in.  Pretty rough.  Still I enjoy the time to cook for everyone.  I've figured out how not to burn everything on the glass cooktop, and it is easier to clean.

Today there were about 20 doves perched on the railing awaiting a turn at the feeder.  And ... I hung some tubular chimes in the carport.  They moved against each other and my ears in a most soothing manner ... .  Doves and chimes.  The high points of the day thus far.

It's been a not great day for me as well as for my daughter.  I am trying very hard to think of those lovely things, the pure and noble things ... .

Change is difficult.  Big changes are harder then might be expected.  Change is how life happens though.

Today I was thinking about letting go of the comfort of old friends, old things, old ways ... that's the day.  I wish I could carry her load too.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pics from this week ... Lately

Pork Green Chili with Black Beans and Sweet Corn Salsa
Those not watching their calories had Guacamole  and Flour Tortillas with this 

Seasonal Vegetables dressed in local olive oil and Herbes de Provence
I topped with sour dough bread crumbs and Parmesan Cheese

Salmon, Israeli Pearl Cous Cous and vegetable gratin

Mueller's for lunch (yummy)

today at lunch

early morning on the trail 
I have really enjoyed cooking lately ... planning, shopping for and cooking meals.  That is one of my favorite everyday things.
The Green Chili is an American Indian dish which I grew up eating ... one of Momma's recipes.  I've modulated to black beans and just for me, no tortillas, just a tiny pinch of colby.  The red in that is a garden pepper.  I don't know the name, something like a sweet red pepper, but longer like a poblano.  I bought a small basket of them this week at the farmer's market.
The vegetable gratin was inspired by the yellow tomatoes.  I wanted to make a sauce for a meatloaf, but they seemed to be ready to go a day before I took the hamburger meat out to thaw ... still good.  I thought I would puree this as a sauce for the meatloaf, but it was eaten up by my folks!  My young daughter prepared the rest of the meal ... delicious!  It is very nice to me surrounded by people who enjoy cooking!
The next picture is today's lunch outing ... Mueller's in Taylor.  Always a treat!  There's L and me lunching before grocery shopping at Central Market in Austin.  I love to shop there.  Favorite grocery store period.
Final shot ... just sunrise out on the morning walk.  Pretty nice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Blue Heron wade in the waters of the San Gabriel River which runs through my back yard.  I've been sleeping later (and a bit more soundly) then usual lately.  I wake up to see pink lining the tree tops.  Sammy, watching from outside, seems to know I'm awake.  He raises his head, hopeful, but I adjust my pillows and rub the top of my foot back and forth across the cool cotton sheet. That is usually all it takes to lull me back to sleep.  Thirty minutes later I'm all about the coffee ... and a nice long walk for Sammy.  My husband snapped this picture early Sunday past.  There is always something interesting to see along the trail.

Yesterday, for the first time in a while, I "fixed up", meaning contacts 'stead of glasses I guess, a bit of jewelry, and better shoes then my tennies. Several of Tommy's nurses were meeting for lunch and invited me to join them.  Lovely people.  We spent enough time at the hospital last year to become entwined in one another's lives.  I was very happy to see them.  We meet at Jack's Kitchen ... yummy food.  Jack cooks like I do.  Well ... he is a professional chef where I just love to cook, we both appreciate fairly simple fare.  I was surprised and pleased to be included.  Good people.  I did find seeing them to be a tad overwhelming as I drove away after lunch.  It's strange, I know them within the context of caring for my brother ... and I came to care for them ... it was different to see them without him.  It's very precious to see them having fun with each other, colleagues at play.  They sure do work hard at work though it never felt less then a labor of love.  There was a young nurse with whom Tommy and I particularly bonded.  She was there.  She told me that she was working a different floor when Tommy passed, but she went to his room and kissed him goodbye for me once he was alone.  Sweet.  Very sweet.
It does feel a little weird to live where Mommy and Tommy had lived.  My memories of the area include them ... tending for them.  I had not spent very much time in this part of Texas prior to their illnesses.
As a brief note - I do not spend time with Tommy's wife.  I would have, as he asked me too, but it has not worked out that way.  I am not regretful of that.
I haven't been out to the airport yet ... to find out if there is "room" for another flight instructor out there.  I imagine there will be.  I am looking forward to flying on a regular basis again.  Most important is getting my daughter more comfortable with the move and situated in school.
I have looked in to the local community chorale and am excited about the opportunity to sing Classical music again.  They begin rehearsals in September.
We have found where I'll do my work outs. Hopefully, my husband will join me, but he does tend to stay busy on his projects.  Either way is fine with me.   I'm still looking for a pottery studio, and seem to have a good lead on a local one.  Hope so.  I enjoy creating pottery quite a bit.  There are several pieces that I've been thinking about and would like to try my hand at.
All in all the move has gone well.  There are still boxes to be unpacked and boxes which will stay packed until we either build or buy a place.  I have a few boxes of junk which need to be discarded.  Moving is a really big job!  I still have almost all my mom's stuff and haven't decided on what to do with most of it.  To me it is just stuff, nice stuff, but stuff.  When my dad passed (1980) she donated
the contents of our home and completely refurbished after her move ... nothing she left has sentimental value.  It needs to go somewhere, but I don't know where.
That's it for the update.  Some of my high school friends, from forty years ago, are calling to catch up.  It's all very nice.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stuff ... cracks.

At some point my mother had her gall bladder removed.  She said there was a tiny spot of cancer in her colon.  My brother was with her for the surgery and a few days of recuperation.  Her sister spent some time with her helping too.  My mother insisted that I not come.  It was too small a thing.  Easily addressed by those close at hand.  My mother and I were not close.  We were not close and that has been one of the great sadnesses of my life.  I do not understand how such a thing can happen, just that it did.  My mother said the doctor got "excellent margins" when he removed that tiny spot of cancer and my brother who spoke with the doctor confirmed the truth of that.  My mother was not always reliable with the information she chose to share ... that's my mother.  My mother did not like "negative" words "spoken" in to her life.  Positivity was part of her religious sensibilities. That became quite frustrating for me.  My mother was not open to discussion on a topic that she considered resolved.  Maybe most of us are not.  I asked her what sort of follow up her "tiny spot" would require.  She said none.  The tiny spot was gone. (Halleluia.)

During the time I spent with her in the weeks preceding her death I learned that quite a bit of the colon and her gall bladder had been removed when "the tiny spot of cancer" was seen to.  So many details from that time are a blur, so I'm not sure if I read a report about her medical adventures or if maybe her sister gave me the update.

I am guessing when I say Momma 's liver cancer was actually colon cancer metastasized to the liver.  Her tumors showed up on some imaging that was part of figuring out what was going on with her heart after the event which took her from a primary care check up to the hospital emergency room.  She was not a candidate for any of the usual therapies - no chemo, no radiation, inop ... .  She past quickly, within 6 weeks of the diagnosis.

Tommy and I thought we were dealing with the onset of dementia when (exactly a year earlier) we moved her over near him.  He noticed her becoming more and more forgetful, sleepy and disoriented frequently, crankier then usual (which I couldn't attest to because she was always short with me).  The rapid weight loss was a huge concern to me, she hadn't been significantly overweight before.  She chalked it up to having nothing to do but walk (the halls) in the senior living apartments that we found for her.  When I saw her I was surprised that her stomach seemed swollen ... I mean she had lost a lot of weight, but she looked like skin and bones and tummy.  Plus she slept on her sofa during the day with  her feet up on a foot stool and was awake pacing on her balcony during the night (her neighbors told me that when I was staying in her apartment).  I couldn't call her without waking her up.

Tommy and I both were concerned about the dementia.  I was sad to see her in such a state, but honestly, and somewhat to my shame, I was afraid for how that might be played out in my later years.  When I read up on Alzheimer's research I was thinking of myself as much as her.  While her heart troubles came on suddenly, the forgetfulness and fuzziness seemed to be progressive.  I wasn't really even sure that she wasn't just "playing" with us on the memory problems.  When I came to stay with her I knew it wasn't a problem of Alzheimer's, but I was unable to understand the process of her mental shut down.  As I research some of the info "out there" on secondary liver cancer I see that her symptoms were textbook.

Hepatic Encephalopathy

Encephalopathy means brain disease. Hepatic encephalopathy is brain damage from liver causes; symptoms include behavior changes, confusion, a change in sleep patterns (night-day reversal is common) poor judgment and slow speech and movement. A hand flapping movement called asterixis or trembling hands can occur, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Depression and anxiety are also common side effects. Hepatic encephalopathy can progress to coma and death.
The oncologist said the cancer in Momma's liver was the size of a cantaloupe. She said that it was doubtful that it was primary liver cancer and I could have that tested if I needed to know.  She said that the testing would be painful for my mother, also (if I remember correctly, and I might not be) that the testing process, acquiring tissue for a biopsy, could be fatal.  I declined on my mother's behalf.  
Hepatic encephalopathy is deterioration of brain function that occurs because toxic substances normally removed by the liver build up in the blood and reach the brain.
I think the tiny spot grew to cause secondary Liver Cancer.  My guess is it had already made the leap to her liver and probably elsewhere in the body systems.  At the Hospice House they did, at my request, a test which indicted extremely high markers for bone cancer.  Poor baby.  I am sad that we didn't have the type of relationship which would allow me to "tend" to her better.  I don't feel that I left any avenues to a close relationship with Momma unexplored.  I was occasionally exasperated with "us" but I came to feel mostly compassion towards Momma. There wasn't a road leading to a place for us.  
I am glad she didn't have to live to see another of her sons buried.  I am glad that she is well now.  She did have what seemed to me an almost miraculous rebound the day before she died.  For a few minutes she seemed entirely lucid.  She seemed like younger her, maybe the 35 year old version of her.  I was amazed to recognize her, and it makes me smile to recall her crisp, almost businesslike manner.  "I know I am dying." she said.  "Look after your brother."  
I have more I'd like to express here ... just not now. It is funny to see how the experiences of our lives, or what we make of them, how they manipulate some of our other important relationships.
This is so much on my mind today - partly because I notoriously push grief away and it's catching up with me - but mostly because I have a task which requires me to search through my laptop for stored pictures from the last couple of years.  
The stuff on the past couple of years to - do list is complete.  Now I get to make choices about what comes next for me.  I am fortunate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This picture popped up in my text box late yesterday - maybe my ears should have been burning.  It was taken by an old friend, the guy who did my high performance endorsement.  He flys a CJ with the guy who provided my CFI ground training - both real butt busters.  Two of my very favorite people, I am delighted that they work together now.  Beautiful isn't it?  It never gets old.  I regret that my last flight was a no-go.  The CFI ground guy's wife is one of my favorite people to fly with.  Her company is upgrading to a Leer ... I'm not typed for any of that good stuff, but I do enjoy what I can fly very much!  One of the local guys "let" me fly right seat in their CJ.  I may have enjoyed the departure as much as the landing.  It was fun. Cruise felt the same - we were higher but that's about it.  It didn't "feel" faster.

I'm sitting in a very nice waiting area while some warranty work is accomplished on my car.  CNN is broadcasting a thing on Trump's campaign.  Before that I read in the rolling banner tape that the US has initiated "manned" airstrikes on ISIS out of Turkey.  I need to start paying more attention again.  Sometimes I wonder if while the entire planet explodes, during that first nano second (which is also the last) that I will be as clueless as the people in the remotest reaches of non-civilation, places with no Coca Cola products.  I have tended to make myself uninformed (mostly because I doubt the veracity of the information made available) - which is irresponsible I think.  At very least I must gear up on topics which concern our country.  In today's world that seems to be everything.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

back for more ~*~ one of her favorite places ~*~ someone else will have to paint over it

Those pesky wall outlets and switches -
some I can do, some I can't.
These are the pesky louvered doors in the breakfast room
those are completely done -better.  


Fire tower at Lake Martin,  Winds, 15kts. felt like gale force as I climbed the last few flights of very steep, very narrow, steps.  We looked it up later, the tower is said to be 80'agl.  At first I couldn't enjoy the view, all I could do is think "a fall from here would not be survivable".  Normally I like the wind blowing on my skin.  It took several minutes for me to settle in to the good of this.  Sunset here is one of C's favorite "places".  This pic was taken as we saw the last of the sun - it slipped behind the cloud veil.  The geography of Alabama is beautiful, green, and to a Texan, quite lakey.
She coaxed me up the last three sets saying come on Mom, almost there.  It's that the landings got smaller and smaller as we climbed higher and higher.  It's that a storm was blowing in.  It's that I remembered that I am petrified of heights when I'm outside.  I like the ground ... or an airplane wrapped around my earth suit.  Grateful that my girl shared.  


And this, a little sketch which has been in the closet for 22 years. Adorable.  Naughty, but adorable.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Today it took me over an hour to change out one duplex electrical outlet.  I rocked the ones I did earlier this week - the success of those bolstered me to try the ones in the kitchen, the ones under the cabinets.  My wrists are simply not strong enough to wrestle with 1950's grade wiring.  I can do the light stuff we use now, but the old stuff, the "real" stuff demands real men wrists.  The 1950s stuff smirks at me and says leave the man work to a man, wax the floors or something with your time.  Ah, silly me.  We do not have a "honey-do" jar at my house.  Earlier in the week, when my air mattress was still adequate, I thought "that private school education is really paying off now, isn't it?!"  Now. I wake up and remind myself that it could be worse.  There are women buried to their waists ... someone is buying and selling baby parts ... someone is wrongfully imprisoned and sleeps on a hard damp floor awaiting a horror far beyond my middle-class prissy foot comprehension.  The thermostat is set on 70 here in the Deep (swelteringly humid) South.  This morning, while I painted the louvered bifold doors that my husband re-hung yesterday, I texted back and forth with a casual acquaintance who lives in Australia.  She, just back from a lovely tour of our country, has a European holiday planned.  She may show up in Austin some day.  Maybe we'll share a meal someday.  She sent a pic her recent trips, seemed to be having a grand time with friends.
So ... I busted it this morning, put on some mascara and went out to lunch with my favorite flying buddy-girl.  We had a trip planned to Houston tomorrow to drop off someone who has an appt. at M. D. Anderson.  I woke up well, grumpy and very stiff, but well.  The Pax woke up with Cancer (again, just like yesterday). What (I ask myself) do I really have to complain about?  It's all relative isn't it?  I am trying to convince myself that I am enjoying a great adventure!  My college roommate thinks I've been brainwashed!  I tell her that my choices are to blame.  I take full responsibility for myself. (God I was really looking forward to flying tomorrow!  It's the only place where I can absolutely stay in the moment.  I think about flying when I fly ... I think about what the airplane is doing and how that compares with what I want it to do.  The airplane is responsive to my "wishes".  Lol ... everyone says flying is about being in control.  I don't think I experience it that way.  I think I see it as a collaboration with a marvelous machine.)  My friend told me about someone very close to her who was raped last week.  Her Pastor Daddy says, we could be preparing for a funeral (two actually, her infant child slept through the assault on the mother).  I say senseless things are senseless, and God is not a thirty minute sort of being ... we may never understand the sense of it.  I affirm that God is good.  I affirm that even in the most horrible of situations, His agenda of restoration may be advanced.  I know that I do not know.  I know that "things" are more complicated then we would like to believe/perceive.

My C has dropped in ... gotta get  hug while the getting is good!  And ... I'm working on not being so grouchy.  Either way, I'm done in a few days with this.  My Dad would say this is exactly the sort of thing that builds character, but not if one let's it leak out by moaning and groaning through the entire process.