Wonderful people wander into our lives. Some stay for years and some only for seconds. Each day you experience a multitude of moments that make their imprint on your life. Like a flitting dragonfly, skimming so close to the water, we traverse through our routines each day. We pay no notice to the beauty of chance instants…the instants that make us exhale, make us smile, give us joy for a brief twinkling.

Today I begin to share my moments with you. Today I promise to savor my moments.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ugly...a Tale

This story is all over the internet and you may have read it.  I am posting it because, whether it's a true story or not, I think it's a beautiful, sad, but beautiful story. 

Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat.

Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and shall we say, love. The combination of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on Ugly.
To start with, he had only one eye, and where the other should have been was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his left foot has appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner. His tail has long since been lost, leaving only the smallest stub, which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby striped-type, except for the sores covering his head, neck, even his shoulders with thick, yellowing scabs.
Every time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction. “That’s one UGLY cat!!”
All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave.
Ugly always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around feet in forgiveness. Whenever he spied children, he would come running meowing frantically and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.
One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbors huskies. They did not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. From my apartment I could hear his screams, and I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly’s sad life was almost at an end.
Ugly lay in a wet circle, his back legs and lower back twisted grossly out of shape, a gaping tear in the white strip of fur that ran down his front. As I picked him up and tried to carry him home I could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. I must be hurting him terribly I thought.
Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear - Ugly, in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring. Even in the greatest pain, that ugly battled-scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion.
At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, or even try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.
Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held him for a long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true pureness of spirit, to love so totally and truly. Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful. He had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and deeply. To give my total to those I cared for.

Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me, I will always try to be Ugly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lost Ten Years Ago Today, Remembering 9/11/01

In all the time leading up to today's 10 year remembrance of the 9/11/01 tragedy I never thought or planned on writing, posting, discussing my memories of the day. Now that the day has arrived I find myself home alone with my 2 pups on a beautiful Sunday morning. The ceiling fan is on low and the sunshine is streaming into the den. My dogs are the epitome of tranquility - Layla is stretched out on the floor with her chew bone and her snoodle. Barky is curled up on my lap, lazily watching outside. The sun's light serms absolutely sparkling. One tree that overhangs the backyard has leaves already turning yellow in autumn anticipation. In all this peace and beauty I keep wondering is this really the type of day that America woke up to ten years ago? The difference between that day and this one is that while my personal daily routine may remain intact, my heart is saddened that my son is not inheriting the country and the world that I once knew. 

Ten years ago today the World Trade Center was attacked by Muslim terrorists. Two hijacked planes flew into the towers sending thousands to their deaths, sending millions into nightmares. The day changed America forever and every American has their story from it. 

I was working at Shelby Oaks Elementary on Summer Avenue in Memphis, TN. The day was a glorious pre-fall day just like today. I loved going to work on sunny mornings like that one and hearing the students' laughter and morning busy-ness as the day would get started. 

My son Jonathan was in 4th grade and he was home sick from hay fever that day.  He was with my mother and she initially called me and told me about the first tower's hit. I told our school guidance counselor and slowly the information began to spread amongst teachers and administrators. 

Our principal received directions to lock down the school and to set up a blocked perimeter around the school. No one was to be able to park or drive up anywhere near the school. No one was to enter the school except through the front door after being buzzed in upon giving identification. When they entered they could only come in about 8 feet to the front office. 

The precautions were taken because no one knew if there were to be scattered attacks around the country.  School bombings would mean great loss and thus schools were thought to be at high risk. We at Shelby Oaks were especially concerned because we were a school comprised of a highly integrated student population. Our students were from 18 countries and spoke 22 different languages. We had a good sized community of Muslim families and we were worried for their safety. We were worried they would be targeted by mad, non-thinking people. 

It was the only time I ever felt scared in this country, at my job, for so many children and for the loss of security my child would feel growing up from that point on in his life. America had never been attacked on its own soil by outside forces, except for Pearl Harbor. While outraged at the Japanese then, Americans still held to the belief that the mainland was impenetrable.  The attack 9/11/01 on the WTC took that security from us all. 

Air travel changed. Homeland Security was organized. There are many new restrictions, regulations and procedures, all as a result of that one day. Families were torn apart. The skyline changed. Terror and destruction became personal. Our naivety was shattered. 

Already I see an awareness and a much larger world view in my own son than I ever had at his age. At 20 years old I would hear the evening news as my grandfather listened to it or I sometimes watched it if I was at my mom's and we were eating dinner in the den. Otherwise, I was clueless. In contrast, Jonathan intentionally gobbles up news programs, world financial standings, Internet news headlines and documentaries daily.  He knows the names and locations of small, ever-changing countries in the Middle East, their leaders and their political views. All places I had never paid any attention to or even heard about except maybe during the Olympics.

At his age these countries, any country outside of America, was so distant to me that they were literally a part of an intangible other world. They were a part of the world that I occasionally saw on tv, but that didn't affect my daily life. It's not so for Jonathan and his generation. He is connected through Internet communication with people in this other world. He is not outside it. It is not intangible. He is a world citizen and not just an American that sometimes acknowledges the rest of the world. 

I don't know which is personally better - my blissful ignorance or his fully immersed awareness. The saying is that knowledge is power, but as a mother I feel some sorrow that he was not shielded from the world awhile longer than 10 years old.  

All the churches, communities and politicians are participating in remembrance ceremonies today. Our family has watched the documentaries this week of what happened and the rebuilding of Ground Zero. There is not enough that can be said or expressed about this tragedy. There are reverberating effects still occurring from 9/1/01 because families are still in pain and people are gone from our lives. How long and how deep does the attack really go? I would say it lasts forever and goes into depths we cannot imagine, yet. 

Today America is in a new dawning of vigilance and awareness. Ten years ago today we lost many good citizens and we lost our grand sense of peace and security. Our children lost their world naivety. However, on this day ten years ago America became the leader in the fight on world terrorism and we all renewed our personal citizenship and faith in this country. 

May God grant His peace to the surviving families of all lost in the tragedy of 9/11/01 and God bless this wonderful country. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just Me

I watched an old episode of "Sex and the City" today.  I know the show is dribble, but I loved it on HBO in its heyday and I still love the reruns. The first movie was closure for us fans and the second was....well, horribly bad double dribble, even for us fans.

Today's episode was about the gals being, what else? SINGLE.  No surprise there.  The plot was Miranda buying a condo on her own. In signing all the loan and closing forms she was asked about a husband and if Daddy was putting down the down payment so many times that Carrie's narration was "in a couple of hours Miranda had checked more single-woman boxes than her gynecologist." Ba-duump, buh!

I love that line....and I know how it feels. I felt it when I bought my first house. I felt it in business situations in my 20s and 30s.  I felt it until I was married and now that I am just me again, I feel it simply filling out forms at the doctor and at the bank. There is a quirky new difference, though.

Recently, I filled out a form and marked single.  When the form was read I was asked had I ever been married.  I answered yes.  Then I was asked if I was divorced or widowed. What? Why?  What difference does it make?  Seriously.  I marked single so this should be a non-issue.  Does it matter whether I ran him off and he's still living or if I drove him into an early grave?  The questioner is never going to meet him, so what's the interest?  He has no input in my medical, financial or any other standing, so whose business is it what I once was or wasn't?  I really don't get this.  Is it curiosity?  Non-belief?  The need to hone in on my single-ness?

Before marriage I would mark single and that was it.  Since becoming just me again, I have marked single and at least half the time I get the follow up questions, rather than just accepting that I am single.  I have to believe it is because I am no longer 20-something.  

Is it that if I am in my 40s that surely I am not just me, just single? Surely I have been married? It makes me feel like the questioner is giving me a second chance to declare that, okay, if I'm not currently married, at least I have been.  Is divorced or widowed somehow more desirable, more valued than single? I should understand that I need to declare to the world that I have had the capability of snagging a husband? On applications and questionnaires I get to choose my title of Miss, Ms. or Mrs.  I can choose to keep my married name or revert back to my maiden one.  So, why can't I choose my status?  

And, if you get divorced, are you divorced until you remarry?  What if you never remarry? Are you destined to live out life with the divorced label? In the future, if I choose to live with someone instead of getting married, am I going to be divorced-with-live-in-man? That's not on any forms that I've seen. Divorce happens and people move on.  Why does their status have to remain stagnant, stuck in divorce gear? 

I chose to mark single as a sign to me that I am me, just me...not me-who-didn't-make-it-work-and-got-divorced.  So, that is my decision and I am sticking to it.  If I mark single and you ask me if I have ever been married, please note, and do not be surprised when I answer, I am me, just me...and that is good enough for your form, your curiosity and, most importantly, for me.

NOTE: I love reading your comments and emails.  Thanks for all thr great info I have received and I hope I've not missed replying to anyone!

Thanks for passin' by today. 
Glad you got around this way~
Now click on COMMENTS to have your say!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today is the first day of my gluten-free month.  My doctor (and many bloggers) recommended I try gluten-free for 30 days to see if my Lupus sypmtoms feel any relief or ease. 

As I eat my salad with spicy tuna and sunflower seeds and enjoy a Cascade Ice sparkling water, I decided to read up on some gluten-free info for inspiration.  In my search I came across the the blog pic above that I just love and it is on the sidebar with link.

I found the pic on the Denver Examiner's site and they had a great list of gluten-free blogs that I am excited to read.  I've posted the list below and I will, of course, update you on anything I find of real interest. 

Well, I've finished my salad, sans dressing, and it was de-lish-us!  I have fresh strawberries for desert.  So, far, Day 1 hasn't been difficult and it's been really easy on my calorie count.  The carb count is just a tad better.  Breakfast was Chobani greek yogurt, walnuts with 3 Sweetriot dark cacao nibs and an apple.  Haven't planned out dinner, yet, hmmmm. 

Anyways, here's to a gluten-free me and I'm gonna go read some from the lsit below! 
NOTE: I love reading your comments and emails.  Thanks for all thr great info I have received and I hope I've not missed replying to anyone!

Thanks for passin' by today. 
Glad you got around this way~
Now click on COMMENTS to have your say!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday Quickie...Quickie Post!

I received good news on my liver ultrasound & test. Again, I need to keep on working my program of healthy eating, losing weight (another 20 lbs by Christmas,) walking, walking, walking, rest - uh, no, sleep of 9 hours per night minimum and a daytime nap was ordered- stress maintenance and switching to gluten free was recommended.  New mantra: I am managing the Lupus; it is NOT managing me!

So, I am spending the day resting (sleeping) and researching more on gluten free (even soy sauce has gluten in it!) My painting project is on hold until tonight or tomorrow. No deadline.

As a quickie Saturday post I wanted to go back to my love of dragonflies...

Bolton Lancashire (UK); andy@uncutfishing.co.uk; http://www.uncutfishing.co.uk/

Did you know that female dragonflies are DAMSELflies and young dragonflies are called NYMPHS? Pretty romantic for a bug, huh?


Dragonfly, Damselfly, Dragonfly Nymph - N.E. Florida

These romantic predators eat those disease carrying mosquitoes, so respect them! They cannot bite or sting you. They just fly like they are trained machines and look amazingly beautiful while ridding the summer nights of pests!

This shot of a Male Black Meadowhawk was taken at Keely Lake, Saskatchewan in July 2005. The Dragonfly stayed on my foot for at least a minute.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Pineapple A Day....

In the last year I have become very cognizant of the foods I eat.  I still make some bad choices, but when I do they are informed choices, none the less.

I have told you that I have diabetes and lupus, but I have also been through therapy for eating disorders.  For these three reasons I tend to read  gobble up as much information as I can about food and nutrition.  I try to stick to reasonable and educated sights such as Whole Living, Mayo Clinic, Live Strong, The Lupus Foundation, etc.  

I say all this to tell you about a perfect, or near perfect food for folks in my predicament and anyone else....PINEAPPLE!

Did you know that pineapple contains a glorious nutrient called bromelain (produced in the stem which is inedible but the fruit extracts some from the stem.)  Bromelain has three great properties.
  2. has cancer fighting compounds
  3. lowers the risk of thrombosis

Because of the bromelain you can't put fresh pineapple in Jell-O because the bromelain content prevents gelatin from setting. Canned pineapple, on the other hand, can be added to Jell-O because the canning process destroys the bromelain. So, for the bromelain benefits, it has to be FRESH pineapple.

So often foods that are good for you are not the foods that people naturally gravitate towards...but, think about any party you've been to with a fruit tray....the pineapple is gone first!  Moms, think about cutting up a fresh pineapple for your family....kids and hubby are stealing pieces as you slice!  Pineapple is a treat for us at Christmastime...it always shows up on the Christmas morning breakfast buffet.  The smell of fresh pineapple is just decadent and intoxicating.

Pineapple is also no slouch. The list of benefits it offers to our diet is awesome!
  • For many people it improves their digestion (Sharron, give this a try!)
  • High in vitamin C which attacks free radicals in our bodies (anti-cancer property)  Columbus introduced pineapple to Spain and it soon became popular with sailors to prevent scurvy! One cup of pineapple has about 135 calories and 33% of the RDA of Vitamin C.
  • Is a natural diuretic
  • Is a good source of manganese - this attacks free radicals produced in cell respiration to help prevent cell damage (anti-cancer property)
  • Clears mucous from bronchial tissues
  • Natural source of fiber...we all know we need fiber!
  • Its B1 helps to metabolize carbs
  • Stimulates our kidneys to help remove toxic waste
  • And the juice from pineapple will kill intestinal worms...who knew?

The only down side is watch the acidic properties and we diabetics have to go easy on the sugar content (eat the fruit, not the juice ~ unless, of course, intestinal worms are an issue, then by all means chug-a-lug!)

With all the pineapple has to offer, no wonder it's the WELCOME symbol of many societies!  

Bonus info for selecting a fresh pineapple: A pineapple is ripe if one of its top leaves can easily be pulled out.

Bonus recipe: I love fresh pineapple grilled, which takes only a pineapple and a grill.  :)  However, I love the following recipe on grilled salmon!  Hope you try it and enjoy!

Pineapple Salsa
1 1/2 c. fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1/4 c. diced green bell pepper
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 t. minced jalapeno
1 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped cilantro

salt to taste

Combine all ingrdients in a bowl, cover, refrigerate and enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Is Lupus and Who Wants to Know...Really Wants to know

I have had Lupus for 7 years now, diagnosed for 7 years, that is.  Compared to other people with Lupus that I now know through my support group, it's been a breeze for me and so I shouldn't complain, huh?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease whereby your immune system attacks your healthy cells with no differentiation from the unhealthy, bad ones.  Besides the serious damage that it can do to your body's organs, it leaves you suceptible to every virus and bacteria running around in the real world. 

You know, so many people have asked me about Lupus and what it is.  I give the explanation that I just gave here.  Do you know how many, after I answer, have then said, "Oh, you don't look sick..." I love that someone once commented to that, "Thanks, and you don't look insensitive, hmmm, guess looks can be deceiving."

The reality is that people with Lupus often do not "look" sick.  They only look sick when they have strokes, congestive heart failure, pleurisy, kidney failure, liver disease, horribly painful rashes, seizures, etc.  Other than that we "Lupians" look just fine...almost normal, very tired normal people, usually. 

Since I posted a couple days ago my angry post of learning my Lupus is starting to "show out" again, I have received emails, comments, questions and remarks from so many people. Over the weekend I have thought about the fact that I mention my Lupus to friends and family from time to time, but I never just BE in it.  I think I have felt that if I talk about it, the Lupus will hear and wake up and grow. 

For seven years I have ignored talking about it, except this last 8 months in my support group.  Even then, I have not discussed it with anyone else on a regular basis except my doctors.  My mom doesn't really know what to say other than oh my and I'm sorry.  My son tunes out as it's something he just doesn't want to think about or deal with because he doesn't want to think of me sick or not around in the future; I get that. My husband never accepted that anything was wrong with me that I can't just snap out of if I put my mind to it.  Again, I didn't "look sick" until I had flares.

I have looked at having Lupus as being a weakness I should hide. I have recently dealt with an eating disorder and through doing that I have seen how secretive people can be about their eating illnesses.  I have used that same behavior with my Lupus.  I've only admitted to it when I have had to due to the down time flares have caused.  I don't talk about running down to the point of sleeping 16 hours, or being so tired I can't pick up my dinner plate and carry it to the sink.  I don't mention that I'm only good for about an hour of shopping and then I get a fever and have to rest.

I have to admit that this online journal has helped. I have always been a visual person and prefer to organize my thoughts in black and white.  Once it's on paper, the thoughts are out of my head and officially dealt with; I don't have to replay them.  So, when I journaled about my Lupus recently, I released the specific anger I had that day and I was also responded to for the first time in a positive manner, an inquisitive manner, an appreciative manner.  It was a new experience.  As I've thought about that I've decided it is time that I embrace my disease of Lupus and not hide it while trying to hide from it.  I think I'm now mad enough and determined enough to face it head on and, that fact, I am ready to shout from the hilltops!

Today I go for my hepatitis screening.  Thursday is the ultrasound on my liver.  Then comes the specialist.  And I am ok.  I am not freaking out.  I am not a sobbing mess of Why Me?  I am the gal who gets up and goes to work and oh, btw, has to stop by and do this or that for her health. Yep, not for the Lupus, but for my health.

I have heard Lupus referred to as a life-dimenishing disease. I am NOT good with that!  I mentioned at the beginning that compared to other people with Lupus my experience has been a breeze and I shouldn't complain in that respect.  I have complained, let me tell you.  However, I'm through with complaining.  Seriously, I'm bumping it up a notch and getting flat out mad that something is trying to run my life and shorten my life...mad enough so that if the Lupus does hear me, IT will be too scared to show up!

Peace and Health, People!

People you've heard of, but didn't realize they have/had Lupus:
Toni Braxton
Ferdinand Marcos
Flannery O'Conner
Jasmine Guy
Trick Daddy
Terri Seymour
Snoop Dog's daughter Corey Broadus
Lady Gaga (borderline tests)
Louisa May Alcott
Tim Raines
Michael Jackson
Charles Kuralt

Renovation Saga, Part Two - Inside Progress

Inside – My Room, Den:

We have purchased a new mattress set and new bedroom furniture. I was so tired of heavy dark wood and the new is a creamy cottage style 4-post bedroom set. I started painting the bedroom this weekend and have purchased a new desk and chair for my return to school endeavor (both from Pier One.)

The den has a new couch and loveseat. However, it still has wood paneling that the men of the house love and will not part with, sigh. I’m still trying to figure out how to redecorate it to join this century. I’m looking for a magnificent painting that will lighten up the wall behind the couch. I am searching for a new hanging style lamp, not pendant, for the corner between the fireplace and the loveseat. The fireplace is flanked by long windows on each side. I am planning on hanging LIVE greenery in front of each and making window seat cushions for them.

I have recently changed my mind from installing new hardwood flooring.  Instead, I want to do large ceramic tile that has the look of stamped concrete.  Our house was built in the late '70s/early '80s and has dark wood trim and doors, rather than the much preferred (by me) white trim.  I was visiting a neighbor several weeks ago and had forgotten that they had installed tile in all of their living room, den, kitchen and common areas.  It truly lightened up every room.  So, since we are not looking for resale updating, but rather for durability and function, I am going with the tile.  I will take my before pics soon so that at the end I can see the official progress. 

Going through all of these plans I just realized that everything I am doing is an attempt to lighten and brighten my home. I have been on a personal journey the last 11 months of lightening and brightening myself from the inside out.  I guess my personal work is flowing over into my home ...but isn't that what makes a home?  Your personal stamp and flavor?  How do you connect with your home?  Let me know!

Peace & Brightness to You! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"It's never lupus. Thanks a lot House, MD, for your one-man led anti-awareness campaign."

I have to post this from my fav Lupus humorist Carla Ulbrich. She gets me through many funks.


13 Diseases that are Difficult to diagnose

Here we go again. Those of us with lupus are on another list of "diseases that are hard to diagnose."

Check it out:

The list includes:
- ALS (Lou Gherig's)
- Fibromyalgia
- Lupus
- Crohn's
- Cushing's Disease (which is basically the same effect as being on a lot of prednisone, only your body is creating the cortisol)
- Celiac Disease
- Chronic Fatigue
- Lyme Disease
- Parkinson's
- depression and bipolar disorder
- hypothyroidism
- MS
- Mesothelioma

IMO, this article, while interesting and a good jumping off point for debate, is full of excuses.
Patients are needlessly suffering untreated for years on end not because these diseases are hard to diagnose but because our system and its priorities are seriously messed up.

And now, my 9 *real* reasons these 13 diseases are hard to diagnose:

1- Assumptions. Doctors don't take patients' concerns seriously and assume they are "just depressed," so it takes several visits before they even start looking for an actual physical problem. This is markedly worse when the patient is female. If you aren't bleeding profusely, you're probably imagining your problems and you just want attention (oh yeah the doctor's office is where I go when I want attention. HA!)

2- Ridiculously short time with patients. The cost of overhead (rent, office staff, etc.) is so high and insurance companies put the squeeze so hard on doctors by discounting allowable payouts, that if doctors spend more than 8 minutes with a patient, the doctor is losing money.

3- Priorities are upside-down. Doctors do not realize or believe they are in the business of customer service, and that without patients, they have no medical practice. And yet, when we go into their offices, we are last priority. After the office staff, the insurance company, the pharmacist, the lab techs, the drug reps and the pizza delivery guy have all been taken care of... OK, now we can see you, Mrs. Jones. Oh she left? Well there's more where she came from. She's probably a hypochondriac anyhow.

4- Patriarchal CEO attitude. Most American doctors want to operate in a top-down, giving orders kind of manner, rather than a cooperative partnership with patients, even though the patients may have more knowledge than the doctor on their own condition. Some doctors are threatened by empowered knowledgeable patients and get angry when we go looking for answers in chat groups and on Web MD. I had a doctor fire me as a patient because she didn't like me "challenging her authority" by bringing in articles and asking questions. And she mocked me for trying alternative medicine. Many don't want to listen to us when we ask for specific tests or for them to consider we might have a certain disease. Look I've got all day to check it out and my life depends on it, so let me be involved!

5- Poor listening. American doctors (as a group, with some exceptions, but as a group) have terrible listening skills. How can you figure out what is wrong with me if you won't listen? I had doctors tell me I had bronchitis- and I wasn't coughing! I had no phlegm! I've had bronchitis at least a dozen times, and this was not bronchitis. But they wouldn't listen. Then they gave me antibiotics which made me even sicker.

6- Gadget-happy. American doctors rely so much on technology and fancy tests that they have lost touch with their intuition. They have a reputation among the international community of being test-happy and making every event far more expensive than necessary.

7- For-profit health care. As long as making a buck off people's suffering is the number one priority- and it is for big pharma, insurance companies, and even hospitals- the priorities are going to be screwed up. The kindest doctors in the world can only operate so effectively inside this system. If they want to be free of the demands of these hungry hungry hippos, they have to operate a cash-only, no insurance, no office staff (no overhead) practice. And then they can spend all the time they like with patients, relax, and let it be all about the patient's suffering and how they can ease or end it.

8- It's never lupus. Thanks a lot House, MD, for your one-man led anti-awareness campaign.

9- Reluctance to diagnose. doctors don't *want* to diagnose these diseases. Lately it seems to be harder and harder to get and to hang onto a lupus diagnosis. I can't speak to whether that is the case with MS or ALS or Parkinson's, but from what I'm hearing from other lupus patients, doctors seem to be going out of their way to avoid diagnosing people with lupus, and even trying to un-diagnose people with lupus who have been living with it for years. It used to be simple- if you have 4 of the 11 classic symptoms, you were diagnosed with lupus. Now it seems they want you to have all 11 plus certain blood tests (ANA, anti-DNA, C-reactive protein, etc.). It's like they've run out of room so they had to raise the standards. Like when a university has too many qualified applicants, so they raise the minimum SAT score.

I don't know if the government is pressuring doctors to avoid the lupus diagnosis so they don't have to give disability status, or if the CDC doesn't like the statistical trend of exploding rate of autoimmunity, so instead of making people healthier they tweak the numbers by refusing to diagnose... Call me a conspiracy theorist, but there's something weird and fishy going on here when the same symptoms that would have got you diagnosed 20 years ago are no longer sufficient for definitive diagnosis. I'd really like to know what's going on behind closed doors on this one.

And those, my friends, are my 9 reasons which these 13 (and many other) diseases are supposedly hard to diagnose.

Carla Ulbrich
The Singing Patient
Author of "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"
get the book! http://tinyurl.com/348hroc

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Renovation Saga, Part One - Outside

Outside – Front Yard:
So far, we have painted the exterior of the house – changed from Pukey Green (yes, I believe this must be the official color reference name) to Green Tea (a pale green-gray)
trimmed in Cascade (an ambiguous off white)
and accented in Olive Grove (dark olive green/brown.)
The American flag is back up and flying, which I considered to be a primary project.

We cut down the trees in the front yard that were killing our grass and trimmed up the under height of the remaining oak. The sun now shines upon our yard once again.

I’ve made the decision to sod the yard next spring, rather than now, as that time of year will create healthier rooting and it will be easier to develop the yard. A classmate from high school offered his knowledge in my decision and I will seek him out in the spring.

Next summer we are going to have to resurface the driveway, too. Ugh, the expense.

Our azaleas died last year and I did not replant anything this year, so our flower beds are bare. I could not decide what to plant because the exterior had not been painted and once it was we had a major plumbing repair that was going to tear up the front yard. So, there was no point in planting this year. However, I am buying mums now and filling the front beds for the fall.

Then for next spring I have decided on two Red Rocket crepe myrtles for the west end of the front bed. The beds on each side of the steps will have Autumn Sundance (dark fuchsia) Encore azaleas with Drift Roses and ornamental grasses.

Outside – Back Yard:
We have cut out all the fence line brush. (Thanks to JBR's little brother!) I am looking for someone to break up the concrete shed pad that is on a hill. It’s an eyesore and needs to go. We lost the shed in Hurricane Elvis that hit in July 2003.

I threw out the old porch swing that one of our labs had chewed the arms on. I've ordered a new one – swing, that is, not a new lab. 

Here's a pic of one like I just ordered this morning.
I have a glider of my grandmother’s, which I need to replace the arms on and re-stain. I've been waiting for the Memphis heat to subside. 

We moved the bird bath onto the patio, closer to the kitchen windows, so my mom can sit at the kitchen table and watch the birds drink & bathe. She and my grandmother, who passed in 2005, have always been bird lovers. They could tell you the type of bird, the mating & migration habits and describe its call. Mom has enjoyed watching the birds without having to go out in the Southern July heat & humidity. It’s amazing how simple changes can bring joy to people. I’m so glad we thought of moving the bath.

To me our backyard is the most special in the fall. I love that fall is coming and I love campfires. We have had campfires regularly since my son was a baby and now he orchestrates them. (Have I mentioned how proud of my kid I am?) The wood pile is stacked and abundant from last month’s front yard tree-murder. So, come on Autumn Chill and let the campfires begin!
Peace and Pre-Fall to y'all!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Steps Forward...Now What?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No Soulmate, but Not Solo

After mentioning him in Monday's post, I felt like I should share with you my heart....my son!
The Carefree Kid of high school years...in one of his loves, his old Silverado
Mr. Handsome and Hardworking of nowadays...
His other love the first day he learned to drive it.
His buddy Ninja Kitty...
and other buddy Leo...
The dogs who worship him - Barky and Layla
His favorite place - Destin, FL
The one and only pic he took in Nashville 2 weeks ago...he has a romantic heart.
My favorite picture of him and his favorite gal - waiting to go in to see Wicked!

Good kids are hard to raise in this world and I have been blessed with a GREAT one. 

Someone asked me today if I have met my soulmate or believed in such.  I thought about the question.  I know I spent 20 years trying to MAKE someone my soulmate.  Funny how that just doesn't work.  

I pretty much have the suspicion that I have missed Life's train stop or layover where I was suppposed to meet my soulmate.  I was too busy with my head in the sand.  However, I realized today that it's ok and I will be very happy even if I do not ever find Mr. Right.  The reason is because my son and his future family are enough to "complete me."  I may be missing my soulmate, but my heart is a handsome and a terrific guy who will one day have an awesome family...and THAT makes my soul happy!

(Poem borrowed from the book, The Children of the Law of One and the Lost Teachings of Atlantis, which I highly recommend. It’s one of the most important books I have ever read, and made a huge impact on the expansion of my consciousness.)

“It is most sublime when the coming together of soul-mates is the outcome of spiritual development, and they are of higher consciousness. Let go of your desire for, and attachment to woman or man right now, and concentrate on finding the God-within-You first. First and foremost be your own Soul-mate, your own Helpmate… totally in love with and devoted to Yourself – Your Spirit – the God within you that you are… Then, and only then, after you have become attached to that God-The Universal One that you are, and found inner and outer harmony and become “in love with” and devoted to Yourself- not as a separate identity, but connected to and at One with the Universal Spirit, will those who should be with you in Oneness of Spirit, be with you in the universal harmony that you are imagining.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Renovation Saga Begins

I’ve been running around in organized madness trying to accomplish as many projects as possible before my classes begin.  So, I haven’t written any journals or stories at all in days.  I feel guilty about that…so weird.  Anyway, my mind keeps running through the to-do and done lists and I’ve decided to cheat a bit and make my lists into blog entries.  Then I can look back on this time and remember the chaos while I appreciate the outcome of the labor.  I am dividing the lists/posts into areas for my mental organization.  Beware of scattered ideas and thoughts during the next several posts.  Also, feel free to offer suggestions & ideas.

First I want to explain that there is so much to do with our house.  We, my mother and me, bought the house from my grandparents as they were looking into going into care facilities at the time.  We knew my mom would stay in this home after she retired.  Also, my son wanted to continue to go to the neighborhood’s high school and stay with his 8th grade friends.  The home is in a small incorporated town outside of Memphis, so it allows for more of a community mindset and a little more peace than the “big city” offers.  All in all, the purchase made sense. 

My husband and I have a home further out in the country that is a lot more rural – no street lights, neighbors are a ways down the road, the area just got its only McDonald’s 10 years ago. It gorgeously sits on a hill and is lushly surrounded by trees that surround the house and acreage like a cloak.  The greenery cloak opens just a bit and if you catch that slight opening you will find a tree-lined gravel path that leads up the hill to an opening of gorgeous green yard, a cute basic white house, a dirt worn basketball pad on the side and beyond there the swimming pool I saved for and love.  We have spent many wonderful weekends there.

The plan was always to move out there permanently after our son finished high school and left for college.  Funny, plans get made and plans don’t always pan out. 

Our son didn’t leave for college.  He received a scholarship here and decided to stay and take it.  He even decided to stay at home!  What 18 year old does that, I wondered?  I was so ready to get away at his age.  And honestly, at my age now, I was ready for him to get away.  Apparently, though, many more kids are staying home and even going to community colleges first to save on expenses these days.  My son is very frugal.  Seriously frugal.  Unreal frugal. It still blows my mind he didn’t run out the door the first chance he got.  He has since told me that his decision also stemmed from concern for his grandmother.  She retired as her mobility was getting more difficult and she has since given up driving.  His frugality and sense of responsibility awes me.  His hero was my grandfather and he has modeled himself after him, for sure.  That’s a story for another post, another day.
Anyway, it turns out that I like country living in the day time, but not so much at night, alone.  It totally creeps me out.  I tried and I tried, but I cannot do it.  Our house in the country is up for sale as I speak and our marriage has a foreclosed sign, as well. Back in May I made the decision to stay put with Mom in town and so I have jumped full force in to renovation. 

I have a ton of ideas and not so much work force and time.  I guess that's how these things usually go.  There is so much to be done with this house because the last 10 years have been difficult for my mother and for me.  I think I need to journal the outline of the past ten years to get it out of my brain and on paper, so to speak.

The new century started with my grandparents in their 90s and slipping into dementia and Alzheimers.  My grandfather was first and developed Alzheimers.  It was hard as he was the father figure in my life.  He was my son's best friend.  He was the one who always had the the answers, fixed everything and added stability to the lives of the 4 crazy women in his life-his 2 daughters, his wife and me, his grandaughter.  Off and on for the 30 years prior we had all lived under the same roof at various times. 

He passed and then my grandmother started having bouts of heart failure.  This lead to her residing in a care facility because she went in as a rehab patient and never left.  My aunt then started having blood pressure problems, mini strokes and cardiac issues.  This past January she had surgery  from which she never regained consciousness and I had to make the decision to let her go to join my grandparents in Heaven.  My mother had handled the day to day management and care of my grandfather and his passing.  We shared the tasks with my grandmother.  Mom was unable to help with Illa except what she could do by phone.  I'm really glad at this point as I don't think she could have handled my aunt's last few days.  Ten or fifteen years ago, my mom could do anything.  She was still Super Woman.  These days I have to put on the Super Woman cape and step up.

So, back to the house...it was my grandparents and while we have lived here for 8 years, my mother has not been willing to change anything.  Now that so many things are falling into disrepair, she is open to changes.  I also really believe it is because she feels some freedom finally.  As long as my aunt was alive I think my mom felt a responsibilty to keep up "my grandparents' house" rather than live in our house. 

I've started with small changes....now I am discussing bigger changes...next I will make big changes.  Bit by bit my mother is coming round, but bit by bit I find myself opening back up to me and what I want, what I like.  I am determined that lifting the depressive fog of the last several years for my mother begins with turning "my grandparents' house"  into our home finally.  I am on a mission of light and cheer and am no longer content to just be a superintendent of the past.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Been Gone Too Long

I've been getting organized for school and for fall...fall means the Holidays, so my favorite time of year!

Here are some treasures I scouted out Friday night.  Enjoy and I will get my posts together this week!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Save Me, San Francisco"...she sings!

"I used to love the Tenderloin
Till I made some tender coin
Then I met some ladies from Marin
We took the highway to the One
Up the coast to catch some sun
They left me with this blisters on my skin.

Don't know what I was on, but I think it grows in Oregon
So I kept on going, going, gone, right through
I drove into Seattle rain, fell in love then missed the train
That could a took me right back home to you

I been high
I been low
I been yes, and I been oh hell no
I been rock 'n roll and disco
Won't you save me San Francisco

Ooo ooo ooo, oh oh

Every day's so caffeinated
I wish they were Golden Gated
Fillmore couldn't feel more miles away
So, wrap me up return to sender
Let's forget this 5 year bender
Take me to my city by the Bay

I never knew all that I had
Now Alcatraz don't sound so bad
At least they'd have a hella fine merlot
If I could wish upon a star
I would hitch a cable car
To the one place that I'll always call my home

I been high
I been low
I been yes, and I been oh hell no
I been rock 'n roll and disco
Won't you save me San Francisco
I been up
I been down
I been so damn lost since you're not around
I been reggae and calypso
Won't you save me San Francisco

To tell you the truth
I miss everything...everything
It's a wild, wide, beautiful world
But there's a wide-eyed girl back there
And she means everything...everything

I been stop
I been go
I been yes and I been oh hell no
I been rock 'n roll and disco
Won't you save me San Francisco
I been up
I been down
I been so damn lost since you're not around
I been reggae and calypso
Won't you save me San Francisco

Oo oo oo...oh oh
Won't you save me San Francisco
Oo oo oo...oh oh
Won't you save me San Francisco"

I LOVE this song by Train and I LOVE San Francisco and I LOVE my former home! This has me thinking on a lot of old memories, on several new plans....write more later! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's People Like These...

The guy above on the right is a coworker of mine.  The lady is his wife and the guy in the middle is their son...their "recently" adopted son, not that they make that differentiation.  I make it in order to tell you this story.

For a number of years now I have heard stories about this son - we'll call him R - from the proud dad - we'll call him J.  J & his wife have served as a foster home to several teenaged boys.  They have struggled through those boys' complicated and unfair baggage to try and provide the stability and healthy relationships the boys have missed out on up till then.  As another coworker of mine said just the other day, there is a gold star, huge & shining already, in Heaven for J & his wife.  They have been so selfless and dedicated in this endeavor that two years ago they were named the Foster Family of the Year by our local foster agency.  Not too shabby an honor and definately not an easy feat.

Back to the picture...J & his wife legally adopted R when he was a teenager.  At that time R chose to take on the family's last name by adding it to his own last name.  That says that he really thought the world of J and his family.  The picture above is the proud parents with their new Army Private.  You would never know that they've only been a family for several short years and not for a whole lifetime.  Funny, I would say I even see a family resemblance!

Anyway, people like these....pictures like this...make me keep the faith in humanity.  Today I will hear news clips of fussing politicians, missing children, men killed, businesses robbed...really it's an endless gloom report if you sit down for 30 minutes to watch the news.  It's the stories like the one above that need to be glorified and reported.  Someone was giving of themselves and made life better...is that not news?

I could harp forever on our news these days, but that is not the nugget of insight I want to take from the awesome pic.  As I am making this a quick post today I will get to my point.  I appreciate the work and the sacrifice J & his family has made, is making.  I appreciate the service and sacrifice R is taking on  and now repaying Karma by helping others himself.  Good begets good, folks.  Also, your family is not always born directly into your family - sometimes you have to go find & claim them!