Be Prepared (I found this in my draft box, not sure why it wasnt published when I wrote it)

It’s part of the “scout” motto. I understand why. How many times have I gone out the door without my meds.   After driving several miles down the road  I remember them and have to turn around.   There have been times when I have not brought any food or drink and relied on the nearest fast-food menu,  which makes me bloat.  Hmm, have I taken care of my bills, taxes, financial planning. I once sat with an employee at the lawyer’s office helping her to get her last papers in order as she was picking bugs out of the air.  (hallucination due to a brain tumor). 

We got a sign for our teenaged son:  I CANNOT ADULT TODAY.

Sorry folks, we have to adult.  If we don’t take care of things we get fined for not showing up at court, pay tons of late fees for not paying credit card bills on time, have utilities turned off, have safety issues in our home from lack of maintenance, or adaptations. Sometimes we have to chase the elephant out of the room before it gets any bigger.  Those are tough conversations we signed on for when we passed the age of 17.

We have a progressive neurological disease  Truth be told, we are only going to get worse. But we can make things better for ourselves and those around us by getting and keeping our home lives and paperwork in some semblance of order.  There is stuff that needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and for the lifetime and unfortunately to help others when we die.  Please don’t wait until you are the person sitting at the lawyer’s table hallucinating.  Get working on it now. 

Be prepared.

Be an adult.

You’ll be glad.

The Ribbon of Road: day one

After preaching to the Pendleton Support group to not be too hard on themselves for the difficulties encountered in an impossible task, I beat up on myself for not being well prepared and confident through the first part of the talk

I knew as soon as I arrived that I would have tough time. On the way out of town day 2’s host called to say a member of their group fell, broke his neck and passed away

That really got to me. The next phone call was telling us that the 46 year old son of friends committed suicide. I found myself shaken but I cant cut myself slack for not giving the best talk

Hadnt I decided at 3:30 this morning when I was wide awake like the rest of the parkies that today would be my best day yet? Hadnt I chosen an attitude of adventure?

Give it a break Carol

Give it another go

If you are going to preach it then do it

You are fine

Countdown: 2 days to Road Trip

We travel differently in Doolie than we did in Gertrude.  In the larger pickup and camper we had more storage.  We hauled tables and chairs, my guitar and bike gear in the back seat of the king cab pickup.  The bikes had bug patrol as they rode up on the front bumper. That’s with the exception of Grepedo, the green periscope torpedo tandem, who always got to ride inside.  That will be changing soon!!  In the camper I hauled my clothes out in a laundry basket and put them away, or not, in the plentiful storage.  In the new rig, our clothing is packed in compression bags before it goes out and we each get two little cupboards to store everything…including toiletries. Doolie fits in the RV  garage. We leave the door to the garage and the big sliding side door of the van open and can freely carry items in and out.  Poor Gertrude (actually poor Carol) had  a step stool and three steps to get to the fox platform and then one more step in to the camper.  Those days are over.

Tonight my brain is rumbling as bad as my stomach.  I have been feeling puny today.  Great, I  know, just before a major road trip. I  just laid low, took a long nap and worked on my talks.

I am able to travel.  I can walk, sleep on beds other than my own, eat just about any food I like.  I  think maybe I can even say I am a good traveler.  I even like the challenge involved in the adversities (which I choose to turn into adventures).  I promised to blog on this trip.  I may even write about Parkinson’s. Watch your email!
truck back design mock up[18965][19273]

PREPARING FOR A ROAD TRIP

Preparing for a road trip Jan.9, 2020

Charlie and I are getting ready for a big road trip to promote The Ribbon of Road Ahead. I am so excited to meet new people with Parkinson’s in the southwest and California.

We are starting out on Jan 21 and driving DOOLY, our Ford Transit/Coachmen CrossFit Camper Van to Burns OR. There’s a small gathering of Parkinson’s people there and I am really excited to meet them. The local bookstore owner has invited me to stop in and maybe do a couple of readings.

Out next stop will be at the Las Vegas Parkinson’s Place Moving Day. It’s their 3rd annual gathering and my first time there. I will step on the big stage for a few minutes where I will speak about Choosing as Attitude of Adventure.

We will take a week off to play, exploring the area around Phoenix before we head for Los Angeles where Sharon Kirschner (Blogger Twitchy Woman) has invited me to her home to speak with the “Twitchy Women” support group. WHAT AN HONOR!

From there we will head directly to San Francisco where I am speaking at the Institute of Aging. This awesome organization has invited me as part of their education series.   It’s open to everyone but is a ticketed event. Professional development hours are available.

In the bay area and central coast I will speak to these support groups: Santa Cruz, San Jose, Monterey, Morro Bay. As we travel home Dooly will get rest breaks in Klamath Falls and Bend while Charlie and I visit with support groups. We hope to be home on the night of Feb 19.

Preparing talks for each of these locations has taken time, but it is time well spent. My book is not the highlight. It’s the lessons I’ve learned from my adventures that I really want to share. The attitude of adventure came from a TED TALK I heard on YouTube. Bob Kuhn from British Columbia coined the phrase, so I need to give him all the glory. I just ran with it because seems to fit me.

Now you know where I am going and a little bit about my talks. My next installment will tell how I will physically prepare to travel in a 22-foot van for a month…including medication management, nutrition for van life newbies, sleep, and keeping comfortable without my favorite easy chair.

 

Lessons Learned from a Ladder

 

I peered over her Facebook photos and posts with cautious enthusiasm. My friend Beckett, recently getting a clean bill of health after a bout with cancer, was visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico. By chance, I would be traveling with my husband to see family there in a few days.

Two pictures especially intrigued me. One showed Beckett hiking along a relatively flat trail through lovely autumn scenery of different hues of browns and golds. The trail was covered with leaves and the green coniferous trees were highlighted against the yellowing hillside. A second photo showed her looking at the lodgepole ladder she had climbed.  From the top, she saw inside the cliff dwelling of an ancient person who had once lived in this community now called Bandelier National Monument. I immediately messaged her “Do you think I could climb that?” Becket wisely responded with “It’s wonderful, so beautiful” and not with something I would say like “easy peasy, anybody can do this”. I knew I had to go there and try.

Charlie and I planned on taking the shortest hike to the cliff dwellings. It was one and a half miles round trip. Considering that one month ago I had three vertebrae fused in my neck, and I was twelve years into a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, this short hike could have been a huge challenge.  I was an experienced hiker, but  I wore my hiking tights for good luck. At the car, I tied up my hiking boot laces and set my trekking poles to the correct length. We headed up the trail, at a slow but decent stride. My muscles started to remember how to hike. My legs loosened to the familiar feeling and I  took larger steps. The clicking of my poles on the hard surface of the path marked my pace. The sound that had always annoyed me now gave me a familiar comfort.

The trail became steeper as it switch-backed through the sandstone. Sweat rolled down my back and I took off my Davis Phinney jacket. The first ladder appeared in front of me. I glanced at it and turned to walk away. Then I heard a voice inside me say you will feel sorry if you don’t climb it. I handed my jacket and my camera to Charlie and reached for a rung with my hand and, putting my right foot on the bottom rung. Immediately I felt my foot freeze. The voice said you know what to do about this, do it. Looking up, I exchanged feet so my left foot took the weight of my first step. That darn right foot caused me problems on my bike as well as getting into our old camper. Left up, look up, I chanted under my breath until I reached the top and looked inside the tiny cave. I imagined what it would be like to sleep in here, the sandstone warm from the sun hitting it all day and the cold early winter air just outside the opening. I could have stayed but I knew I wanted to see more and started down. Again, my right foot naturally went first and froze and I had to pull it back. Left down look ahead. Looking down would have brought on a panic attack!

The trail narrowed and meandered along the cliffs. Up stairs carved in sandstone, down narrow pathways, I did it all. As darkness was coming I lead the way back to the visitor’s center. Charlie commented on my quick pace. I felt good. It was one of those moments where past meets present. Meds working with the DBS to keep me moving, muscle memory to grab and climb and balance.

Back at the car Charlie handed me his phone. “You have to see this. You have to see yourself climb.” I watched me on the tiny screen. I looked to see that with each movement I had three connections with the ladder, something I had learned who knows where, but a very sensible lesson.

I felt full of joy.   I sang myself to sleep as Charlie drove the rental car west, into the sunset and back to his brother’s house. I woke up thinking about the number three, how it is important in so many things and why it was important today as I climbed the ladder.

Safety is always first and part of this equation. If I hung on the ladder with just two hands or a hand and a foot, I would be “out there”, exposed. Second, when my foot froze, especially at the top, I had to know what I would do. I don’t practice climbing on ladders, so I generalized to other situations where I had developed a solution and it worked. Finally, I looked up or ahead. If I looked down or turned to look back I would surely have panicked. I would have seen there was a distance to fall and gravity would try to pull me back to earth.

I concluded these would be the lessons I learned from the ladder.

Be on alert. Don’t let yourself lose control. Hold on so you don’t end up “out there, exposed”

Practice moving. Exercise. Keep your body in shape. Have some “workarounds” to different situations so that when you need a skill, it’s at your disposal.

Don’t look down and don’t look back. You’ve learned what there is to know from those places already. Keep moving forward.

 

Looking back, a story about Christmas Mass at Cathedral

Dec 27, 2015
I love going to Mass at a Cathedral. What Cathedral, you ask? It could be any Cathedral. In our country or in foreign countries. The word “Cathedral” means “chair”. A Cathedral has the chair of the Bishop. Cathedrals are interesting places of worship and hold within many pieces of history. In Europe a Cathedral may contain the crypts of religious, royalty and even local politicians. Cathedrals usually have above average liturgical music. There may be exquisite stain glass, statuary or other art. The architecture of the ancient Cathedrals causes my mind to wonder “How did they do that?”

The Catholic Church is universal. Being universal means anywhere in the world you go, the Mass is the same. Without understanding or reading the Mass in English, a Catholic understands what’s going on.

I have visited many Cathedrals and churches in Europe. This year alone I have visited the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Burgos, Spain Cathedral which is a UNESCO site, the Cathedral in Leon which is often referred to as the Cathedral of Light and, the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In 2009 I visited many Cathedrals in Germany and France, yet my favorite will always be the Cathedral at Chartes, where a labyrinth has adorned the floor since around the year 1230.

I “googled” Catholic Churches to find one nearby for Christmas Mass. Exploring the area early, we drove by the Cathedral. Its a red brick building. It looks to be three stories high with a very tall steeple. I wonder what will strike me when I visit the Cathedral in this city. Christmas morning about 10:30 am we arrive at this Cathedral… St Andrew.

As I enter the sanctuary, I hear the choir. The choir seems so very far away in the choir loft which is up above a balcony. The choir is accompanied by organ and trumpet. The music is breathtaking. When I hear such special music I do not sing. I listen with all my senses. Thirty minutes before Mass the Cathedral is almost full. Charlie and I work our way to open seats near the front. The congregation is so diverse! There is a man with Down Syndrome sitting in front of me. His mother helps him find the pages in the hymnal. A man with a walker is in another pew. The usher bows to this man as he relocates to another seat. I hear foreign languages around me as more church goers find their places in the packed pews. I see people who have physical characteristics much different than my own. There are people native to this area. People of all ages. All different types of flesh tones. Brows which are heavy or light. People who are tall or short in stature. A beautiful East Indian family with the women dressed in saris and the men in finely tailored silk suits pose for photos in front of the creche. And of courses there are people who look much like this blonde North American girl.

The language of the Mass is English, but it’s noticeably difference from eastern Oregon English. The lectors, a man and a woman, proclaim God’s word in British English, more specifically British Columbian English. I think of Fr Luis as I listen. I have the urge to model a different pronunciation as I have often said to Fr. Luis “this is how we might say that here”. This is their territory, and I must mind my manners as a guest. I listen very carefully to the epistles, one Old Testament reading, a psalm lead by the cantor and then a New Testament reading. I admit I continue to be distracted by the accents of the lectors. Although their reading is totally intelligible it is noticeably different than the familiar voices I have listened to read for the past 40 years in my home church. The presider stands and the book of the gospels is well blessed by incense. As he reads I am worried that this flat monotone voice will deliver a flat colorless homily.

But I am surprised, astonished at the depth my heart is moved. It is two days later, and I am still pondering this message. This is my recollection of this priests words and I have filled in quite a bit more detail from research. I hope you as the reader will respond to what follows.

He begins:

“Masses of Christmas Eve were celebrations of the coming of the child Jesus.

Masses of Christmas morning have different readings. We do not so much celebrate as we reflect.”

Continuing he says

“Last night the bishop presided and I con-celebrated the mass. As we made our way to the sacristy after mass, Bishop turned to the me and asked, would you forgive a person who confessed to you he was responsible for the murder of 6 million people?.”

“Did this happen to you, Bishop?”

“No this is in reference to the book The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness”

(By Simon Wiesenthal, this book recounts the thoughts of 50 renowned theologians, world leaders and peace advocates who are asked if the horrendous crimes of the holocaust can be forgiven.}

The homilist now shifts away from forgiveness and reads a litany of recent “head lines”. . .

Lunch room worker fired for giving free lunch to middle school girl with no money

China ends one child policy

Star Wars movie hits one billion dollars

But then he pauses

Woman who survived for three months hidden in 3 foot by four foot bathroom with 7 other woman takes oath of American citizenship

The Cathedral becomes totally still. No one is shifting in their seats.

Even the soft baby babbles and squeals are silent. The congregation listens even more attentively as the homily continues (I have added further background information)

In 1994 Immaculee llibugiza, a young Catholic college student in Rwanda was home for the Easter holiday. Her world changed drastically as the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down over the capital city of Kigali. The assassination of the Hutu president sparked months of massacres of Tutsi tribe members throughout the country. Not even small, rural communities like Immaculee’s were spared from the house-by-house slaughter of men, women and children. Seven other Tutsi women joined her in hiding in that three by four foot bathroom. The space was so tight the women took turns standing and sitting. Food was scarce and Immaculee’s weight dropped significantly. Horrendous bloodshed occurred directly outside the thin walls of their hiding place. Her father had given her a rosary. She started praying the rosary and the chaplet of divine mercy. She prayed 27 complete rosaries and many chaplets each day. She became very peaceful and remained at peace and learned to have mercy on, and forgive the murderers just outside the walls of her hiding place.
After 91 days of terror, Immaculee’s’s prayers were answered. She was liberated from her bathroom prison cell and faced the horrific reality: Her entire family had been brutally murdered, with the exception of one brother who was studying abroad. Nearly 1 million Tutsis were massacred during the 100-day genocide. Her family, her townspeople, fellow college students were viciously murdered, chopped apart with machetes. Their bodies were used as roadblocks or dumped in the streams that created a river of blood to Lake Victoria. Later after emigrating to the US she tells her story in her first book:

Left to Tell.

My thoughts: I would not have survived.

She did.

The priest continued to deliver his homily

Another woman, also a Catholic walked across the killing fields shortly after the massacre had ended. She came across a boy who she had known to be a Catholic.

“I no longer believe in God,” the boy said.

“Why?”

“God made trees and a tree can make another tree

God made elephants and an elephant can make another elephant

God made Jesus but he will not make another Jesus.”

I don’t remember if the priest said anything after this. I was puzzled and awestruck and moved…so many questions and responses welled up inside me.

What exactly does this mean?

How do these stories all relate?

Today, as Charlie drove us home through the snow and rain, I sat in the back seat pondering this homily. This is my response.

I believe God the Father did make other Jesus’s.

Each one of us.
The boy was blinded by the massacre, the hate, the blood
How could he see?

I am thinking … its up to us to BE the Jesus we are.

To be for others the Jesus we are

To make the Jesus we are real

To make the Jesus we are come alive

The others will then know the Jesus alive in them

And be the Jesus they are

To make the Jesus they are real

To make the Jesus they are alive to others

Then these others will BE the Jesus they are..

Truth Forgiveness Mercy Justice

Pope Franscis declared this a year of mercy

I will visit a Cathedral, somewhere…

I will take my beads and kneel in a pew.. I will imagine the horrific situations of the Holocaust, the genocide which continues throughout the world, the results of terrorist activity, the mass shootings in schools and churches and malls…

I will pray for mercy.

Have mercy on us and on the whole world.

“Flying the friendly skies”: some tips from a traveling author.

The “Friendly” Skies

 

In the “olden” and “golden” days of flying commercial airlines, there was a famous televisions ad with a catchy jingle “fly the friendly skies of United”. The viewer would see a magnificent jet airliner banking off through the clouds into the sun. This left the thought that all flights are glamorous occasions for travel.

I have traveled extensity since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and I can attest to the fact that flying, especially at peak vacation or holiday times, is not as friendly as in the olden golden era. Yet after many “long haul” flights to Europe ( and one to Japan), I can say that I can actually deboard at my destination able to smile and greet the pilot or first officer as she stands in the cockpit door watching the passengers escape from the plane like sardines after the can has been open.

Before I go into some of the things I have learned about air travel, I have to compliment all my fellow travelers on flight 124 from Fairbanks to Seattle last night. Our plane was announced to be delayed, it was the last plane to Seattle that evening and there was little hope given that any connections out of Seattle would be made. No one freaked out. There was no wailing, gnashing of teeth or demanding requests made of the airline desk people as I heard on my previous long-haul flight. Passenger queued up at the podium and waited their turn to speak with the calm and collected agents. The line grew longer as the take-off time neared, yet tensions did not escalate. AND then a miracle occurred. It happened at the original time we were to be boarding. Without any fanfare or announcement, our plane showed up. There it was, looming large at the gate. We saw the stairs being rolled up and the door opened, and people come out so very quickly. The gate agents instructed the outbound passengers “There is still hope, give us all your carry-on luggage so you can board faster. We’ll have it waiting as you get off.” The passengers sprang into action, gathering their luggage, lining up in the appropriate loading areas by group number.

Although I had not requested any additional services, I looked like a person needing help. With my neck brace (which was bonafide) and my cane (which I use only in airports), I was moved to the front of the line of all golden mileage class and preferred status customers and allowed to board first.

An amazing cleanup crew had worked at top speed and the plane was ready to fly. I walked into the plane and was guided to my seat by a pleasant attendant who offered me any assistance I might need. As the seats filled in around me there were a number of uniformed military personal, a tall stout man who looked and sounded like he had formerly played as a defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys and a mother with a four-month-old baby strapped to her chest struggling with an overstuffed diaper bag. The former NFL looking guy said “Ma’am, let me put your cane up here for you” placing it in an overhead bin. The soldiers spoke in soft voices with their seatmates about where they had been and where they were going and responded to any directions or questions with tact and efficiency. I showed the new mom a picture of my youngest baby Luke and then said, watch out this is what they become and I showed her the photo of Luke on his 21st birthday.  To pass time I worked a puzzle on my phone. The NFL guy showed me an app to help find the words as the soldiers behind me chatted casually about cold-weather foot care, and the new mom started to doze off. I dozed off also, to awake to the football player standing beside me bouncing the even tinier looking baby in his massive arms. The new mom was let ahead to the front of the bathroom line by the male soldiers. When the plane landed, the ex-football player calmly got my cane down, assisted the mom with her diaper bag and commented “I have 8 minutes to board my next flight.” It was like parting the waters and the 22 rows of people standing in the airplane aisle ahead of him moved aside. The newborn’s mom followed suit. From my viewpoint, the plane unloaded smoothly, and everyone went peacefully on their way.

By the way, we made our flight connection also.

Back to my original topic: what are some strategies I use to keep well while flying with Parkinson’s.

I pack very lightly and use luggage I can handle myself. If I have connections, I tend to check my bag rather than carry it through a crowded airport. My one carry-on is usually a backpack as I may need my hands for a cane or a set of trekking poles. The contents of the backpack include my medications, my DBS patient programmer, spare underwear, shorts or leggings, a t-shirt, toothbrush and toothpaste, my electronic device and it’s headphone and charger, slippers, a face mask, earplugs, sanitizing wipes and an oversized scarf.

Get to the airport extra early. If you are leaving your car, take a picture of your parking spot (aisle H space 23). Leave your ticket in a safe but visible space in your car. Smile and greet the security personnel as you go through the security check. This might be a good time to get into those slippers. If you have DBS Inform the staff you have a pacemaker-like device so they can select the safest way to screen you. A pat search is a small indignity to undergo. I just laugh through it.

I despise riding in a wheelchair, but it gets me places so I will take the ride. In international airports the wheelchair assistance will get you through the security clearance and passport control without waiting in line. I have been through the inner workings of many airports as the wheelchair attendants know how to get there and fast. I feel this is a service worth tipping but ask first as in some countries it’s not customary to tip, and in other places the employer does not allow tipping.

What to wear. In the golden era, passengers dressed up for flights like it was a huge social event. I am glad this has relaxed. Using the bathroom is a big event for me so I want to wear something I can remove easily. I also wear a highly absorbable panty liner…just in case. Compression socks to help prevent blood clots.  Clothes that cover my entire body provide more protective layers. Easy on and off shoes are helpful or TSA but also for getting in the flight time slippers. The scarf becomes a clean blanket. The facemask filters out possible germs from all that coughing and sneezing that goes on.

Hydration and nutrition: Drink as much water as possible. It’s a pain to get up for the bathroom, but also very good to keep your body moving during the flight. Carbonated beverages don’t help you. Alcohol dehydrates and may impair the senses at a time when you need to be on top of your game. Use the wipes to clean off the tray table and hands before eating. If you require a special diet, bring along something to tide you over if food is not available during travel.

Movement: Keep the blood flowing to your extremities. Pump your feet, put your arms up over your head for a stretch. You can do anything, but just move.

It’s fine to wear headphones to listen to music and movies on the plane but not in the airport or outside. Being aware of your surroundings and you don’t want to miss an announcement like a gate change for your flight.

Medication: I pack mine just like at home, by individual dosage and by day, taking two extra days’ supply and keep this on your person. I keep another several days supply in my checked luggage. I haven’t taken the bottles for years and have never had a problem. I have taken photos of the containers with my phone.  As I travel across time zones and slowly move my timing to be the same as it might be at my destination.

The medical alert bracelet is on my wrist. I also carry another written description of my medication and symptoms which I share with my travel partner and others on a “need to know’ basis.

If something happens, you fall, you spill a drink, you drop something on your seat or your partner’s head, use humor. An “oh that darn Parkinson’s Disease has got me again. It sure has its hold on me today.” Lick your wounds, laugh and smile if you can, put yourself together and return to what you were doing. Ask for help and someone will come to your rescue. It’s not that big of a deal.

Being prepared will help you be more relaxed on your next flight. I hope it will be a fun trip and SOON!

This is a TSA website with good information about traveling with a disability.   https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures

Scissors

I have learned many lessons since  being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  One of these lessons was taught to me by my friend Nan Little.  We were discussing her climb of Kilimanjaro and I brought up my desire to do some similar fete with a group comprised of individuals with the same diagnosis.   Nan shared this wise comment  “Do you really want your whole life to be about Parkinsons?”   Her statement caused me to pause.  

So with that explanation, I share this piece I wrote two years ago at the beginning of the Advent season, a time when Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.  

(hint…its not about Parkinsons)

 

Scissors Nov. 27, 2017
4-H horsemanship was a wonderful experience in my life. My parents were not “horsey” people, so I relied on my 4-H leaders and neighborhood “horse people” for guidance in preparing for shows.

A big bay quarterhorse-thoroughbred mare, Shauna Alate, became my companion, best friend and confidant to see me through my tumultuous teenage years. I met her through a trainer who lived a short distance from our family home in Walla Walla, and purchased her, boarding her there for free in exchange for feeding and exercising horses. Shauna would do anything for me, as I would for her.

Shauna somehow got me to the grand championship round of the 4-H Fitting and Showing contest at the Southeastern Washington State fair. We didn’t win, but for me to show her at that level was about the coolest thing I had done horse-wise up to that time in my life.

During the training I received from 4-H, I learned that using a clippers or scissors on a horse was determined on the breed type and could be necessary to prepare a horse for show, but never was to be used a replacement for good grooming.

I thought about this a lot yesterday as I was checking over my horses, and combing out their wind twisted manes and tails. CJ had a big knot in her mane. I tried several different techniques to get the knot untangled, and then I took the easy way out. I got the scissors and cut it. Immediately I heard a voice say “scissors should never be used in place of good grooming”.

What complicated lives we lead. I know my life consists of so many tangles and twists and turns. Big knots develop. It hit me hard: follow the practice of keeping things straight, of keeping up the practice of “grooming”, the discipline of working on friendships, relationships, marriage, my personal faith journey, my weight, my level of fitness. The world that surrounds me now is so much different than my 4-H world of the 1960’s and 70’s. This world tells me if I don’t like the political affiliations of my friends, I unfriend them on Facebook. If there is an unwanted pregnancy the unborn person’s life can be terminated. A relationship with a once dear friend is lost in unanswered calls and texts. The bonds of marriage can be cut with a divorce decree. Adult children become estranged from the family.

Taking scissors to Shauna my 4-H horse was out of the question. I spent hours and hours with her, building trust and confidence, brushing her and working on her mane and tail. It was so worth the “grooming” to be able to enter that “championship round”.

The message here should be obvious. It was obvious to me. “Work” on it Carol. If people are important to you don’t cut them out of your life because of twists or turns or big tangles or rats nests. Use technology to contact them, but then put the technology away and look into their eyes as you speak in person. Work on that good marriage you have by uplifting your partner, communicating clearly, getting outside help if needed. Talk with those adult kids often, it’s so easy to forget them when they are far away…geographically or in mind and spirit.

Although I felt awful for getting the scissors out, CJ’s mane did not look too bad after I cut the knot. Yes it took some hard work to repair, hand pulling the mane around the big knot to even the hair length. I brushed her for quite some time. I checked her hooves and ran my hand over her entire body looking for wounds or sores or bumps. I talked and sang to her.

“Scissors” should never be used in place of “good grooming”.

This advent I will think about and act upon this thought.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Priority Seating on the Red Line MAX

Portland,  Oregon is a great city for public transportation.
Its bicycle friendly with plenty of street rentals for visitors or those who don’t have their own.  Light rail, buses,  streetcars, Uber and taxis round out the transportation modes I have used in this beautiful city.

I learned to ride the MAX light rail when traffic and parking in the city became challenging for me. And yes I have ridden the light rail system alone and yes I have ridden it alone at night. I have been asked “Doesn’t it scare you to take the MAX?” Honestly, no. I have never been afraid .  Amazed at people’s behavior yes, afraid no,  although there have been a few weird things that have occurred while riding.  Once a woman got right into my face and screamed:  Jesus died on a cross for your sins. Repent and be saved.  Hmm, I should have known this.  Whatever I had done bad I repented of that moment!  On another ride, I watched as a grown man was crouching down then springing up like we used to do as kids playing leapfrog. This was strange, yeppers until I saw he was following a young teenager. I became worried about the kid.  The young person had a plan, though. He switched seats,  moved to another car and finally exited the train at the last moment as the door closed, leaving the pursuing frog-man with his nose smashed on the train door .

On a recent trip, there was an event that still has me pondering.

We left our car parked in a lot near the airport and traveled into the city by lightrail to the Portland Film Festival. Once entering the doors of the train, I sat in the empty seat designated for the disabled or elderly. Charlie stood nearby. Across from my seat were two women, one with an electric wheelchair also in the area marked as reserved for the disabled or elderly.

Recently returned from Japan where there are unspoken rules about behavior on the train, we were a bit annoyed. These two women held an animated conversation that left us no doubt where they were headed; court! Three stops before our destination, the little ramp for wheeled devices came out from under the door and in comes a woman riding her walker by sitting on the seat and scooting her feet.

Charlie moved from his standing position and he and one of the women offered her help
I heard her mumbling and the only intelligible words were.

F-you
Get outta my way
I phone, dammit

One of the ladies across the way said to me
“You have to move.
That seat us for the disabled and she wants to sit there”.  Just as Charlie said “my wife is disabled she has Parkinson’s” the train lurched into motion.
I stood up to move away and my purse got tangled in her wheels.  We slid as a unit backward, the woman swearing and hitting me as went.
Charlie grabbed my jacket and pulled me away. My purse came unstuck and he said, “come to this door. Next exit is ours”.
I had this strong urge to go hug the woman.  I thought that was what she really needed.
I am pretty sure she would have slugged me and swore at me some more.
Charlie helped me off the train at the next stop.
“Phew, that was interesting. I’m ok.
Not even too upset” I murmured.
Charlie’s comment “I guess there are now different levels of disability for priority seating on the max red line”
That became our joke for the day.

And still, I wonder what would have happened if I would have hugged her.   I am sure she would still have requested priority seating!

The Night the Horses Left

The night the horses left. A mostly true short story in the spirit of  Halloween.

 

I was really surprised when CJ jumped into the trailer first.  Lasaro closed the swing gate and put some hay in through the drop window on the side of the trailer.  She moved around, feeling for the space on each side of her and when she knew where the walls were, she settled into munching.

 Genie surprised me even further.  The horse that was always first in the trailer balked.  Lasaro and Vicki worked with her patiently to get her loaded.  When Charlie came, he joined in the push me pull me game sometimes played by humans trying to load a horse who has not been in a trailer for years.  I was on the side of Genie, poking her rump or her flank with my thumb, releasing it whenever she moved slightly toward the trailer.  Three times she got very close to stepping up, and three times she backed rapidly out, causing me to jump out of the way or be knocked down by this horse in rapid reverse.  Each time Lasaro said, “Are you OK?”  I didn’t know you could move that fast.  I didn’t either but old muscle memory kicked in.  Three people pushing and pulling a horse toward the trailer door was quite enough.  I walked up to the window on her side and called her name. It seemed like magic, but she was most likely anticipating some treats and she jumped right in!  Vicki swung the heavy trailer door closed. Both horses now loaded, the rain started to spit, the sky was darkening toward evening.  Lasaro came up and opened the big drop-down windows. I climbed up the side of the trailer and as CJ stuck her big nose out I kissed her right in the soft part of the nose between the nostrils.  I turned now to Genie, trying not to cry as I also kissed her in the very soft special place.  As I got down, I caught Lasaro wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. 

Lasaro, Vicki and their dog got in the pickup and drove slowly through the open gate and out our gravel drive.  I stood there, giving them a huge wave and they honked the horn.  Then they were gone.

The pasture was empty.   Too empty. I felt lonely standing out there.  I went into the house.  Charlie was gone to an event.  I felt sick.  Sick that the horses were gone but also with a sore throat and a headache. The blue couch in our living room has been a place of comfort for many years.  I lay down there and it seemed just a few minutes when Lily started baring.  Are they back, I thought?   I got up to look outside.  Standing in my front yard and looking toward the gate was a big paint horse.  I had never seen this horse before. He was very calm, standing with a barking dog at his front feet, looking towards the empty pasture.  I walked out past him quietly, opening the gate with intentions of wooing him in with a little of the hay that had been dropped.  He could stay there until I could locate his owner. He would be safe.

I walked toward him with the hay, his head perked up.  His head turned towards the main road. He wheeled around on his hind feet and galloped full speed down our drive, turned the direction that just a few moments before the trailer had passed. Then he was gone.  Vanished.  Like he had never been there. 

Thinking logically about this event, it could have been a Parkinson’s induced hallucination.  A delusion.  Yet it was too real.  It had to be real.  That horse was really there.

I was chilled.  Not only from being outside in the spitting rain and wind but inside my body.     I was shook up, like I had witnessed something supernatural.  I did not understand what it was. 

I texted Vicki, reaching her just as they pulled int the driveway at their homeplace.  The horses were quiet she typed back.  They were surprised to see Lasaro’s gelding Smokie out in the pasture on this blustery night. He usually would have taken shelter in the barn… The mares had not seen the likes of a male horse for some time, and even though he was a gelding they should have all been going crazy.  He was also silent about the mare’s arrival.  

I asked Vicki what her horse had looked like.  She said, “He was a big paint gelding.” Shivers ran down my spine as I told her about the big paint horse that had visited my house.

“You are not going to believe this:” she said.  “Smokey is standing out in the pasture, that’s unusual for him.  He has his head down, and his tail toward the wind.  OMG, he is standing over freshly dug up ground.” 

  He was at the site where months before Vicki had buried her… big paint gelding.