Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natural therapy

"When this old world
Keeps getting you down ...
There's only one place to go ...
Up on the roof ... "

I loved this song, in all it's glorious covers.

(With apologies to Carole King).

And I loved going up on roofs
The roof tops of London
Garrets in Paris
Across the Mediterranean
Skyscrapers of New York.

It always brought me closer to the sky. To the stars.
Away from people.
Into an unknown I still long to know.
It gave me a profound sense of peace.

Nowadays, I still look up, but I try to take everything in. It is nature that really sustains me.
Buoys my spirit.
It gives me hope.

I close my eyes & off I go, to any of the places that brought me to stillness.
Sunrise in the Keys, the smell of fresh snow on the Alps of my childhood, magnificent wadis & night deserts, sunset over the Santa Catalinas ...

We are entering a very different stage of Vic's epic journey. Me, too. Children, too.
"When this old world starts getting me down ... "

I can be very happy
For a moment
In an old moment
Renewed in a new.

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The Real Geico Gecko at play

Nothing washes a crunchy bug down better
than fresh hummingbird nectar.

(That's his story & he's sticking with it.)
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Sun set, Moon rise

The sun gently succumbs to the purple west ...

... the east jettisons a waxing moon.
A comforter of candy colored clouds
usher in night

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Living in the Days of Awe

Friday September 18, 2009

New moon
Jewish New Year 5007
Another revolution around the sun for me

I love it when things come in threes: very synchronistic, very "makes me pay more attention". Not to mention the iconic Holy Trinity, although it is not my tribe.

So the fact that my birthday coincided with the new moon AND the beginning of the Jewish New Year made me still, actually.

The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah & ending with Yom Kippur are also called the Days of Awe or Days of Repentance. It is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year & repent in time for Yom Kippur.


I take these "days" very much to heart. I love the tradition, which usually means food. This holiday really connects me with my heritage, my roots. It brings me much closer to my spirit. It brings together the G-d within & the G-d without.

One of the ongoing themes of this period is the concept that G-d has "books" in which our name is written, who will live, die, who will have a good life or bad year the coming year ... huge awe! The books are written on Rosh Hashanah but can be altered by our actions during these "days".

These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur, hence the traditional greeting of "may you be well inscribed & sealed in the book of life".


Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

A bit like "AA", only once a year.

As we approach Sunday night, Yom Kippur, upon reflection, I feel that this year has really been one of genuine, soul-driven reconciliation & acceptance. Of self. Friends. Family.

Summer '09 was the ultimate "Summer of Love". Vic first had an emotional reunion with his 3 Marine buddies. That was followed up by the visits of his daughters, Angie & Shay, together with children & spouse.

We played "the Waltons" for nearly 3 months June thru September. Three generations, 12 of us, cohabitating, coexisting & surviving in a spandexable 2,000 sq. ft., of a/c living space! Non-stop music, laughter, food sonsumption, movement, diaper & formula runs. Furtive 10 minute escapes for Shay & I to the local drive-through for fountain sodas. Every moment an adventure - in patience, in love, in hope ...


All the grandchildren (1 year thru 14) had the summer of their lives. Grandparents, uncles & aunt. We would certainly confuse on our rare group outings.

I would occasionally belt out "don't you wish your grandma was as much fun as me!" to the pleading cries of "stop, please, you're embarrasing me!"

In between the madness & occasional sadness, Shay & I laughed so hard at some of the smallest things - a look shared across a room of a moment that only we noticed - those were the best! We laughed at lifes' daily surprises, "blessings" not for us to understand ...

"Bless our dear hearts!"

I know what THAT means now!!! I been told!!!

So, who did I wrong this year? Hmmmm ... pause to ponder ...

Perhaps Mrs. B at Kaelin's school warrants an apology. She was seriously in the wrong place at the wrong time. She sort of really pissed me off (with attitude, I must add) at the very apex of an extremely vulnerable moment of realization for me.

Take no prisoners. I jumped over her head & asked the Principal to handle it on my weeping behalf. I actually asked Mrs. H to direct me to an empty room. She practically shoved me into the supply closet next to her desk, where upon I began to weep huge, copious tears & just started speaking in tongues, I am sure.

I'll send in cup cake offerings with apologies & explanations to school on Tuesday with Kaelin.

I might also look into one of those rubber bracelets that warns people of my occasional need to "SNAP" - then move on. I think a really cool shade of cobalt would be nice.

"PTS" Prone To Snap.com.

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I know the coming year will have its fare share of challenges. I still need to have a few more talks with G-d before tomorrow nights' sunset but I have a lot of faith, trust & hope that it is all as it is meant to be. I may not like much of what has gone one but I have always, ALWAYS had the trust that it is as it should be. Destiny, fate, life is fickle & in the end, it is between us & our G-d anyway.

At least, that is my belief.


I pray for health, happiness & peace - all so vital for a life well lived. I pray this for myself, my family, all the people who touch our lives & those yet to be ...

May EVERYONE be well inscribed.

Happy New Year.

L'Shana Tova.

Buffalo / Human connection finally found

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A novel excuse to stay home

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It is not the oak that survives the storm. It is the willow, weaving & ducking.


One thing life has taught me: it is NEVER what you expect.
Vic's doctor decided that Mexico City was the place for him to vacation. I begged him to reconsider. As we just arrived in unquestionably THE best parking spot at the VA in WPB, the cell phone rings.

Dr. R. just called in sick with the flu. No? Really? Now there's a huge surprise!!! And we had just picked up a dozen exotic Dunkin' Donuts plus a Box O'Joe (coffee). Now what tf???

Enterprising nurse tels us to come up anyway & she'll see if another doctor can perform the procedure.


To cut a verrrry epic tale down: gastro-doctor de jour looks at Vic's chart, won't even consider putting him on an operating table without pulmonary, thoracic & second opinions on EVERYTHING. Something to do with Vic's new history of "stridor" which is not a prehistoric creature revived in Jurassic Park (at least that's what it sounded like to me), but more of the stopping breathing (once an endoscope is inserted).


On Saturday night, I was laying in bed with the tv on low. Vic was in the kitchen, what sounded like him talking loudly to my hard of hearing father. Something was off. Listening more carefully I realized he was not talking loudly but choking badly.

I bolted into the kitchen, got Vic over the sink & Heimliched him a few times, then rubbed his chest & back to get him to burp. When he finally did, he was able to get some air.

VERY scary. He had taken a sip of orange juice, his esophageal closed up sending the juice back up & over into his windpipe.

Add drinking as being hazardous to his health.

Vic really needs is the feeding tube b/c eating is harder & harder. Both on him & on anyone who sees him trying SO hard to eat. Struggling, chewing child-size portions. This goes way beyond mindful eating.

The real problem, of course, he is at great risk for choking or aspiration & that is really frightening.

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Following Monday's visit with the oncologist, when offered another, different course of chemo, Dr. W. hardly finished the sentance when Vic wanted to know just how soon he could start.

Well I never!

The bottom line is Vic has chosen an extremely difficult path. He faces several physical challenges prior to that. Because his veins are so bad, he is having a port installed, through which liquids may also be administered. The chemo comes with a nightmare list of side effects & the best I can hope for is that he sleeps through most of it. He needs the feeding tube installed prior to the chemo as his risk of infection goes up expenentially.

So all these ducky appointments/procedures have to be lined up just right - like the stars. Because Vic's body is divided up like a grid (crown of head to eyes - psychiatrist: eyes to throat - ENT: neck to mid chest - thoracist; chest through abdomen - gastro) - you get the picture.

How does the song go - the head bone's connected to ... bone???

As we were sitting outside yesterday evening, contemplating new nursing skills I will require, the emotional & confusing day, the uncertain future to come, I looked at Vic. There it was, an expression building throughout his face, a posture assuming his body. I knew exactly what was going on.

"Formulating your war plan?"


"To your last breath, right?"


Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Semper fi!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Great song to start any day


Days Like This - Van Morrison

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they f it
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

"Oh no, she didn't!"


"Oh yes she did!"


School sports are in full gear
We love going to our childrens games
Crone Ranger particularly enjoys it as it is
a forum in which she can legitimately scream her lungs
out, only it's called "supporting the team!"


"So there we are
Schmoozing with a fellow mom
revelling in post game victory of our daughter's
8th grade volleyball team ... "

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"... when another team mom had the unmitigated chutzpah
to enquire as to whose grandmother might I be!"


"She never!"
(or in Seinfeld)
"Get out!"

"Oh, yes, she, did!"

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"In veritas, I may be Stone Tyler's grandma
But that's NOT who she was talking about,eh?"



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hoos protecting your home?

Introducing the Megascopes Home Protection Team

Your home protection kit comes with a fully trained pair of Eastern Screech Owls


Night surviellance is our specialty
Our highly pedigreed megascopes are programmed by nature to blend & defend.


Instructions for breeding box included


We're keeping our eyes open
For you
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Megascopes Home Protection Team
brought to you by Hogwarts of Vero

The Snake Ball

One day last spring ...
nestled among the moist, cool macho ferns ...
a gathering took place ...


Two huge balls of writhing garden snakes ...
harmless, very lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng ...
An open invitation ...
Come join the fun ...


Whoever said two's company, three's a crowd
Never partied with this group of groovy reptiles.


No sooner had the Snake Ball begun ...
All over.
Clearly a bunch of guys!!!
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For chocolate & dessert lovers only ...

Once upon this lifetime, angels pushed Beautiful Linda & I together.

I say "this lifetime" because there is NO DOUBT that we have been there, done that together many, many times before.

So opposite by nature, she serene in the midst of chaos: me, INSANE! She glides along with the elan of the dancer within. I walk with the easy gait of a ruptured camel.

At least that is what my beloved Daddy always used to say.

So, back to my friend, Beautiful ... knowing Vic's eating restrictions & preferences, she conjurred up an amazing, divine dessert, full of peanut butter. And chocolate.

Instead of "get well soon" card, she journalled the cake's inspiration & creation on her elegantly stunning blog. Complete with step by step photos, so salacious & high def, you may find yourself licking not only your lips but also your screen.

Without further ado ...

From "Lime in the Coconut", Prayer in the form of peanut butter. And chocolate.


Have you had your endorphins today?

You may ask yourself "how do you, crone ranger, get your daily dose of endorphins?"

On the other hand, you may not.

I like to have at least one really good, belly wrenching laugh a day. Not a titter, mind you. A full throttle rush which usually ends in me losing my breath, coughing. Make that choking. Not always pretty but terribly, terribly therapeutic.

This is one of the funniest sketches EVER written. A five-star piece of comedic lore. My mother & I still invoke the ghost of the waiter & the hungry diner when sitting down to eat.

"The Two Ronnies" are legends of British comedy. Their work is ageless, side-splitting, pee-inducingly BRILLIANT. Not the tits-n-arse usually attributed to Benny Hill (yuk!). This is cleva, cleva stuff. It just gets better with age & is far too fab not to be shared!

I hope the link works ... not yet a twitter, maintaining @ techno-twit.



Saturday, September 12, 2009

Laughter - truly the best medicine

Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.

Laughter, it's said, is the best medicine. And there's lots of evidence that laughter does lots of good things for us.

It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and nondiabetics alike.

It improves your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated and it really is the glue of good marriages. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

Laughter establishes -- or restores -- a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

Now comes hard new evidence that laughter helps your blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow. In other words, it's good for your heart and brain, two organs that require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.

At this year's meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland reported that in a study of 20 healthy people, provoking laughter did as much good for their arteries as aerobic activity. He doesn't recommend that you laugh and not exercise. But he does advise that you try to laugh on a regular basis. The endothelium, he explains, regulates blood flow and adjusts the propensity of blood to coagulate and clot. In addition, it secretes assorted chemicals in response to wounds, infection or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

"The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries," said Dr. Miller. "So given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium. And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

At the very least, he adds, "laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium."

The researcher can't say for sure exactly how laughter delivers its heart benefit. It could come from the vigorous movement of the diaphragm muscles as you chuckle or guffaw. Alternatively, or additionally, laughter might trigger the release in the brain of such hormones as endorphins that have an effect on arteries.

It's also possible that laughter boosts levels of nitric oxide in artery walls. Nitric oxide is known to play a role in the dilation of the endothelium. "Perhaps mental stress leads to a breakdown in nitric oxide or inhibits a stimulus to produce nitric oxide that results in vasoconstriction."

Dr. Miller offers a simple prescription that won't bankrupt you and could save your life. "Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system," he says.

From "Psychology Today"

Vic on Propofol?

It's nearly 48 hours since Vic's latest surgical intervention. Yesterday, he was full of hope & nervous energy. Having had both a breathing tube as well as an endoscope stuck down him, the soreness of the throat tended to eclipse whether the dilation had worked or not.

He certainly had appetite & ate small ravioli, pbj, nuts, eggs, oddly Doritos which did not irritate ...

When taking one of his nightly capsules in the kitchen while I was outside, he choked so badly, the capsules began foaming out of his mouth, he could neither breathe nor swallow water to force the pill down ...

New house rule: no taking of any medications without having the physical presence of Nurse Mildred Ratched right there, beside patient. The making of eye contact during this new edict as well as the verbal acknowledgement of same was required by stubborn & petulant Victor McMurphy.

Actually, we had a huge "duh" moment this afternoon. Vic had a webconference with one of his VA doctors who posed the very obvious question: "Why aren't you on liquid medications now?"

Jaw dropping moment there. "Why not indeed?"

She immediately ordered all the prescriptions changed & sent priotity.

That was really excellent Martha Stewart "good thing".

No doubt, Vic has reached a very serious stage in his 4 years 11 month fight. His esophagus will begin to close up again. They will not be able to continue the procedures due to his instant inability to breathe during surgery.

This we have been told.

I really do HATE the way some doctors go right to the worst case scenario without a touch of sugar icing thrown in to hide the bitter taste of crushed pills ... the anaestesiologist was quite munificent in his casual anticipation of Vic instantly crashing when sedated, having to flip him over, letting us know there was no antedote to the light anaestetic he would administer ... Vic would have to come out of it himself as no drug can reverse it ... come to find later when I was reading the full report, that drug was Michael Jackson's "milk" - Propofol!

It was the first time I really got scared that it would not be the cancer that would kill him. That there was a really good possibility he could die right there on the table. That day. Thursday September 10 before noon.

Saying "good bye" required a little more sucking in of feelings, an extra squeeze & more confident thumbs up.

Look, it's like this. The tumors are spreading. The chemo, albeit possibly slowing some growth down, has failed in stopping it altogether. The radiation has caused terrible, terrible damage which will continue with time.

He is scheduled for a feeding tube in two weeks. I hope the dilation lasts that long this time.

Yesterday, on my way to school, my mind was simply overcome & overwhelmed by this very unexpected turn of events.

I thought it would be tumors that would be his worst enemies.

Turns out it was the slash-and-burn treatment(s) that won the battles but not the war ...

Neither of us know what to expect & until we meet with the oncologist on the 21st, will just have to put any questions aside.

It is nearly 5 years ago (September 16, 2004) that Vic underwent the emergency appendectomy that changed his & all of our lives ... it has gone by so fast ...

That's life.

Carpe diem.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pre-surgery poetry

Tis the night before surgery
I am nervous as can be
My husband's a mess
Contemplating a possible tracheotomy.

Since his trachea's eroding
The cartilage's almost gone
A breathing tube in his neck
Is a conclusion that's forgone.

If the dilation of scar tissue
Is not altogether successful
Then a feeding tube in the small bowel
Will be next on the surgeon's schedule.

I am numb
Vic is mad
This is all so surreal
But this time tomorrow
We'll be home -
Time again to heal.

Monday, September 7, 2009

K's Cactus Encounter - an homage to maintaining ones humor even when as one is losing ones pants

I discovered early morning hiking on my annual Sonoran escape. The awakening desert thrilled me with its subtly shifting shades of morning sunlight.

The flora and fauna captivated me. I did my best to keep up with the group, nevertheless stopping long enough to just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

As the group trekked down an arid, stone-slippery section of trail, it happened.

Just like that. In an instant.

A slight misstep. A slip over a couple of loose pebbles. A hand goes out to break the fall. Down goes the rest of me.

I get up - no worries. Nothing broken.

And then ... Enter a hundred tiny, fuzzy pricks - right up my amply padded arse!!!


Edward. Eddie. My Eddie. Eddie, the Man. What can I say? Here was a professional, totally committed to my well being. To taking care of me. Valiantly, he came to my first aid, armed with cheater specs & tweezers.

Eddie. The ultimate survivor man. Hard at work. On my butt. Oh dear G-d, did he have to have his face so close ... I just kept reminding myself that I had given birth 3 times & nothing can humiliate me anymore ... well, not much ...


His dedication to alleviating my pain & sufforing was selfless beyond believe. Talk about committment to getting the pricks out, one by one by one ...

The more he tweezed & tugged at the highly offensive, brittle spines, the more the little buggers revealed themselves, hiding not only in the weave of pants ... but also underneath, inside my black knickers as well!!!


And it just got better & better!

The sun had long risen but so had the moon - again!!! One valuable lesson I must share: when out on adventures that involve any proximity to cacti, wear dark colors (over & under) as it is the only way to espy their pesty little, protective pricks.

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Many thanks to Kelley Warnol, her 20/20 vision & her ultra sharp nails. Her hanging back from the walking pack was my great fortune & we laughed & laughed & laughed!!! It has made for a brilliantly hysterical memory of an otherwise extremely prickly situation.