July 29, 2015

Dr. Welby Doesn't Work Here Anymore

Years ago, people who lived in rural areas had a family doctor who made house calls. When old-fashioned poultices, castor oil, a big bite of Vicks (really) or potent gargles/throat washes failed to cure the croup, high fever, pneumonia, pleurisy, or injury that felled the family member, Dr. Saure came in his trusty black Buick at night from a neighboring town. This event was always deadly serious and we kids had to remain quiet. If things were bad enough, the doctor would send an adult to summon an ambulance from the city via a neighborhood phone. The mysterious process usually ended when Dr. Saure's diagnosis brought forth a long glass needle and a tiny paper envelope from his black bag. Then, he folded his stethoscope back into the bag, folded himself back into his coat and my grandma folded the quilts back over the patient. Doctors made house calls when needed, brought life-saving treatment and we got better. Magical.   

When television arrived, Marcus Welby, Dr. Kildaire and the surly Ben Casey continued the mysterious and wonderful national image of our doctors. They were courageous, life-sustaining, respected and admired. Everyone had a story about "their" doctor who earned a special place in their family memories. Outside of Walter Cronkite, doctors were deservedly the most admired professionals in the country. Well, Babies, those salad days are over and now that we're older, where are the real life Dr. Kildaires and Marcus Welbys we trusted with our lives? A few still exist with skills, empathy and dedication patients admire, respect and honor. The rest? Retired to that mini-farm with a lake or a condo by the sea or perhaps opted out of the medical world entirely to run a free range poultry farm in Vermont. 

Today's medical community has more available technology than we could ever imagine so long ago, more intense pressure to cut costs from the mega insurance companies (buy-ups are hot news this week), more government restrictions and less time or patience. I get that and I'm sympathetic. 

However... I still want that beloved doctor of old and not The Emperor in his new clothes.... but there's more to this tale. 

July 22, 2015

A little Strauss with my coffee...

 I am in the new residence and it needs a name. I like "Southern Courtyard -- SC." Beyond a sunny, two-story atrium, a courtyard with a tiered fountain and seasonal flowers beckons me outside. Like the rest of the USA, this area swelters under heat alerts and today, a blacktop company resurfaces the parking areas here. Nothing draws me outside today. 

My day began at 6:30 a.m. -- yes, Babies, that awful time exists and a train runs through it. And through all day and night. Train tracks run smack through the middle of this historic town and that was one of General Sherman's main attractions to the area. Stop the trains. Stop the supplies to Atlanta. Well, of course, Sherman failed and the trains still stay on time. I'm two blocks from the tracks just as in my childhood and teen years but the trains are noisier because of abundant street crossings. I'm learning to tell time by the tone of each train whistle. A little surprise accompanied that horrific early hour: a curtain rod fell down and early morning sun swept in too. The SC is conspiring to make me a morning person!

Boxes keep disappearing as I find things long packed. Kitchen boxes, the largest and heaviest containers on the bottom of the stacks, are the last to have my attention. Today I went to breakfast! and had real coffee. I lingered near the atrium with my coffee and listened to a little Strauss to start my day. Perhaps mornings won't be so bad after all. Another train whistle calls out the hour. Time to get back to the boxes. 

June 18, 2015

Scrambling Humpty Dumpty

I wrote this several years ago when I lived in the River City by the Sea, but didn't post it. Because I am moving, again, I am cleaning out files and oh so many things. I ran onto this post and think it deserves a reading. I've been thinking about current events and about Seniors, in particular, and our place in the world.  

June 5, 2015

"Traveling in Steerage"

Okay, so it's come to this. To this place where I never longed to be again -- downsizing and moving, yet again. This one will make twenty-four moves for me as an adult. "And, the plane will still leave at 10 o'clock," a colleague used to say when things didn't go well and we complained. So, I will move to the other side of the mountain but not close enough to smell the loam under the trees or to watch the dappled sunlight on the ancient trees. When I was a child, I stared at the tall foothills of the Allegheny Mountains and longed to know what was on the other side. Well, Babies, the irony isn't wasted on me now. 

This move is necessary because of health issues. So once again, I am downsizing; this makes number five. No matter what I want or think or protest, the plane and all the trains will stay on time. I visited the new retirement community and picked out my apartment before they were all gone for the foreseeable future. Last week five apartments were available and now, one remains. 

Today, I began the arduous process of clearing out -- again. Some things that I held dear for so long simply can't make the trip. No room. If I want to be dramatic, I think of the emigrants to America who left Cuba in a boat or Europe in the steerage section of a freighter. Talk about downsizing and no storage. They were lucky to get out alive and to get out, period. I think of my books and photo albums and whine to myself. 

Bookcases, cabinets, several pieces of furniture that I bought before I was married in 1963 survive but can't go. Books will be donated to the library. I've spent the day sorting, judging my possessions like an emigrant preparing for departure. Philosophy, psychology and poetry books must go with me, somehow. What is the value in these old books that I re-read? The poetry that's images from someone else's life? I've come to understand that they remind me how far I've come on this journey like little mile markers along my highway. What I understood of Eliot and Frost at 15 wasn't much then, but now? Hmm.  

The value in "things" that I've kept is the memories of other times and places with family and friends. I've kept only the most treasured memories. Do I keep the ceramic ladybug a friend made for me while she fought her losing battle with cancer? What about the Willow Ladies friends and students gave me? Or the tiny porcelain Schnauzers that represent my lost dogs? Some items that seem pedestrian are really intimate memories that I can't share here or leave behind.  

It's late and my office is in shambles. The conflicting choices will have to wait another day. 

June 2, 2015

Night Intruders

It's late -- almost midnight as I sit here at my desk. The night train went through and I hear one after another plane take off the FedEx terminal. Louder jets from the air force base join them in the busy night. June's humidity brings all the sounds closer and they echo. Now, the Canada geese are sounding their alarm. I've never heard them at night and it's unsettling. What intruder from the darkness interrupts their sleep? As we get older, the sounds of life echo in our heads and our thoughts do too. Big changes ahead for me, Babies.

The intruder that lurks in my night is pain. Lots of pain. I have recently been reminded by someone that I have a pseudo independence. Well, don't we all? We can only do what our life and our bodies permit -- to say nothing of space and time. Golden Times remains a connection to strangers like the sounds of the night anonymously connect with me. You've been with me through my various medical adventures and there are more ahead. I like it better when I have fun things to share but, hey, a girl does what she can. I'll see what I might find that we will all like. 

You see, I have this leg that just can't find any peace. It demands my attention and also that of my sacroiliac nerve. Oh, sure, you've heard all about it. Me too. Over the past few months, my blog has been noticeably quiet. Me too. I've been busy with four spinal epidurals but no positive outcome. Next on the list is a consult with a neurosurgeon -- just a consult. 

And, I'm moving away from my glorious mountain. Stay tuned. 

May 25, 2015

Looking Back

It's been a bit since I posted and yet, you still visit the blog. Thank you. 

In the United States today was Memorial Day and in spite of retailers pushing sales and beginning of summer fun, most Americans take a bit of time to remember members of our armed forces who gave their lives in service to their country and to each of us. Giving one's life for a country is a heavy thought, substantive and even profound.  

Since I was a young girl, I understood this commemoration and the sacredness of it. In the late nineteen-forties, kids spoke in hushed tones of someone's father who was lost in France or Germany or the Pacific and later, in Korea. We accepted that many kids had only one parent because the other was lost in war. Having one parent seemed normal to me as one of mine was lost, but not in war. In the mid-nineteen-sixties, we spoke of friends and classmates who went to Vietnam and didn't return. That distinction marked a loss of innocence for my generation. Soldiers were lost in World War II and Korea but our generation didn't come home and that was a lot closer to the bone. 

"Rosa Multiflora" is an old poem I wrote about that time that I would like to place here on the blog. 

        Rosa Multiflora

They grew thorny and wild;
The thicket covered our hilltop.
Big bulldozers cut through
To clean brick-red clay.
“You have to dig up their roots,”
The landscaper said, “So
“They never come back.”
 In another life, these weeds
Were coveted Rambling Roses
I snipped and carried in newspaper
To a distant, shaded hilltop,
In that other life.
Through black cool earth,
I stood them like sentries
On lumpy graves of people
Gone before my life.
I placed big empty jars
Like single greenhouses over them
So they could grow roots
But they never came back.

January 30, 2015

Two Alarm Fire in the Night!

It's one-thirty a.m. and I hope to find sleep after a strange and unsettling day. (Don't miss my next blog post). You've been there, haven't you? Distant thunder to the northwest announces the arrival of heavy rain pelting the hillside and my windows. Perhaps turning the pillow over one more time will be the trick and sleep will come. But, through the beating rain, I hear a police car siren, then a fire engine, and of course, a Rescue Squad siren's shriek. Here at FoM, a major state highway runs past the mountain but traffic sounds are beyond the forest and the lake and out of my hearing range. Hmm. 

I think: "Already, an accident south of here from the rain." and stay still. 

Then more sirens sound from a different direction and louder. I think: "Really bad accident and the rain's amplifying their sirens." 

But, I'm more awake than before. I hear more sirens and different tones -- one of them sounds like a ladder truck and more and more police sirens. Home invasion? Plane crash? Train derailment? My imagination begins to wake up and fill in all the empty spaces. Can SWAT be far behind? All these possibilities are within two miles of me in different directions.

Suddenly in this ever louder chorus of sirens, I realize that the sirens aren't moving out of range but coming closer. They're stopping. Near me. Yikes. I look at the clock -- two a.m. 

I tell myself: "They're still far away and that closeness is just in your imagination," and finally fall asleep for a few hours.  

This a.m., I checked the local news web sites to see what had happened. 

At 1:30 a.m., a major apartment fire broke out in a twenty-unit building around the next curve on my street. Residents, families and their pets were displaced and no one was hurt. One unit was empty. Wow. Heavy winds fed the fire but firefighters kept the fire from spreading and remained to monitor for hot spots that might be smoldering under the rubble. This complex of apartments has condos, tennis courts, a pool and many buildings. I pass by it all the time on my way to Costco. Due to to copyright protection software in local media's sites, I'm unable to paste a photo here. 

Sometimes things that go bump in the night are real. And, in the afternoon on this sunny, cold Friday, I just heard an explosion that rattled my windows, my kitchen cabinets and my front door. The local news helicopter zoomed south to get complete aerial coverage and has flown north again. 

Seems that neither Dorothy nor I are in Kansas anymore. 

January 17, 2015

FoM North and South

Whenever I go north or south from my new home, my approach is at the base of the ridge line of The Mountain. I have begun to think of it as my own mountain. The ridges on each side suddenly jut upward from the west and the east and gradually slope up to the height of the mountain. The topography here is much different from the River City by the Sea. Most things are different here. But there is a kinship that I feel with this mountain. When I was a young child and surrounded by mountains,  I always wanted to go to the other side. Now I have just this one that marks the location of my home. Oh, sure there are many hills and valleys and curving roads. But, the mountain stands alone in the center of this area. My mountain. 


Netflix series, "Marco Polo." Incredible cinematography, excellent plotline and characters. Well done if not exactly historical but the 1200s in the Far East was not well documented in the West. For those of us who cannot turn ourselves to any other activity, Netflix offers another must-see season of "Doc Martin."

"Downton Abbey." Still the classiest and class conscious soap opera on PBS. 

Regular TV: "State of Affairs "and "Madame Secretary." Both worth your time with production values miles above the usual suspects on network television. 

To all my loyal blog-followers: Thank you for checking back as you do frequently. Another project has captured all my time and attention for a bit. I'm not exactly sure where this new road will take me but when I get a plan, I will take you along as always. Be kind to yourselves, Babies.