Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rain, Rain So Glad You Came!

Still a little drizzle outdoors. Lovely, cool, first day of fall. Fall simply goes too quickly.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicks off next weekend. Without fail, a balloon or two or three flies over our house. I've scared more than a few balloonists, running out in my robe and my hair sticking in many directions. It is great fun - even at the crack of dawn. And no, I do not have any inclination of going up in a hot air balloon. I prefer to eat breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls - still in awe of these large balloons, sail off into the morning splendor. It's a day you are like a kid again. It's magic!
For me, there has been some empty space around here. Time has been full for many years and that has now shifted. When I was on the first two rounds of chemo, it robbed me of time; I had no concept of time. I only wanted to be able to eat and be somewhat mobile and independent. Eventually this summer, those things were reduced a great deal. So many people helped me. Cooked for us, drove us places, sent wonderful notes of encouragement and called and made me laugh. Now that I'm on round 3 of chemo, I've felt better but am not quite back to my regular life. I'm very grateful to be up most of the time and being able to do things I enjoy. However, my feet/hands bother me a great deal of the time. I dreamed last night my fee turned a dark black/purple - and were so very swollen. They looked like those big animal house shoes. I had forgotten to ask for a drug that helps with these symptoms at my appointment yesterday - my night was invaded by weird dreams - focusing on "that" drug"
Saturday, I begin on 1500mg and 2 wks from Saturday, I will take 2000 mg.
7 days on/7 days off. At that rate, I will finish chemo on January 8. That will be a FULL day of celebration. My niece will be getting married and I will have completed 7 or 8 months of chemo (depending how you count).
So on those good days, when I'm not sure what I should be doing; resting and focusing on getting well - which seems boring and mundane. It is important work. Just in a different way. It is internal work right. I like that external work and I do what I can - for it feels so good. I like to see someone accomplished.
This period of time has taught me to slow down (it's ok), to meditate, (it's healing and restorative), to listen to good music that heals my mind and soul. To think without doing 40 other things at one time. For the first time in my life, I've actually done one thing at a time. Even reading books is quite different now. I couldn't read for some time and it's a gift to be able to grasp words of an author and let them sink into my mind - thinking and enjoying their writing.
I found this in the book of common prayer (thanks to another author).
"And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly."
--Book of Common Prayer
It is most appropriate and perhaps I will never rise to the level of being gallant, I hope to do this with some measure of Grace.
I am still focused on "today" and what "today" brings. But at this point in the race, I can see the finish line approaching. I'm looking forward to once again being a part of the bigger picture of living. Dare I say, normal?!? (who me?)
I've been treated like royalty; good drs, good nurses, incredible people at the cancer unit at Presbyterian Hospital. I've been a "strange case" yet they have fought valiantly for me. That's very humbling and very much appreciated.
God works in very mysterious ways. I am more often than not, questioning Him. Where he is and what he is doing and is that "enough". I have a hunch reading through the Old and New Testament, many people had those same questions. I know they did. I'm presently reading and listening to Job. This same God is one of power beyond our capability to grasp and his compassion and tenderness still grabs me by the heart. Job hung in there, never cursing or denouncing God. Job's losses are almost beyond comprehension. God's restoration brings tears to my eyes. God is the God of restoration - in bringing rain to a dry part of the country, in redeeming our time, healing our bodies and deep hurts and restoring relationships with one another.
love and goodnight, kathryn

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Poetry: Couldn't Have Been Better Timing

I opened the family Round Robin letter today. I wish I could remember how many years this letter has been circulating. Since I don't know exactly, I'll just say it's been around for many, many years.
I was skimming through the letters and saw a peach colored envelope. Since envelopes just asked to be opened, I pulled it out and read it first. A letter and two poems, written by my great aunt Vivian were waiting inside. I'm going to publish her poem on this little blog of mine...for it fit right into the last topic.
About Me
I looked in the mirror
And what did I see?
But a very old lady
Looking back at me.
And I asked myself
Could that possibly be me?
For I don't feel as old
As that lady looks to be.
But wrinkles have come
And baggy eyes, too
Hair not yet white
But eyes sill blue.
As the years have come
And taken their toll,
It's the way of life
As we all have been told.
I'm one hundred three
As I write this rhyme
But I never thought
That age would be mine.
Vivian Burch
born August 7, 1906
No matter your age, no matter where you live or what life brings your way, you are never prepared for this thing called age.
Aunt Vivian is 104; sharp and 'with it'. Though her handwriting is getting a little more difficult to read, she still writes her own letters and poetry - which she has written for many years.
Her words always leaves a smile on my face. When she questions why she has lived so long, her family knows exactly why. Her letters and poems travel to her extended family, far and wide, bringing each one of us a smile, joy and hope. I am grateful I found her envelope in the stack of letters today.
love kathryn

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vanity, Vanity......

It's a kitchen morning. Reading some email, writing a couple of emails - enjoying a cup of coffee. I love cool fall mornings, even if I'm jumping the gun on the calendar, these mornings feel like fall. The dogs running about the backyard, Scout chasing Sophie, Sophie getting all huffy about it, yet she comes back for more, laying at Scout's feet, ready for more "abuse". Hard to feel sorry for this cat - she complains and yet puts herself right in line of "fire". They remind me of the monkeys at the zoo. Picking and nipping and Sophie swinging from one high place to another only to swing back and pick up where they left off.
I was talking to a friend this morning about this issue of - vanity. I certainly have those issues. I thought I would be 30 forever. No raving beauty here, but I just didn't think about wrinkles and crepe like skin.
Looking into the face of my maternal grandmother when I was 20, should have been a clue. Now to all in the Bullington family, do not take offense! She had a beautiful face; the lines and the wrinkles bore witness to her life; each one had a particular story. Some stories were exciting (she loved horses) and other stories spoke of years of hard work, raising 7 children, laughter, hurt, pain and grief. When she laughed, all of these lines and wrinkles joined in the laughter and moved in (remember I was young) in mysterious ways. Did my grandmother ever sit in front of her mirror at night, brushing her hair, saying, my goodness! where do these wrinkles come from? Did she care? I cannot know the answer to those questions. I have 2 aunts and my mom who may shine a light on these questions - or they may just say, how silly, we have more important things to think about.
After a couple of rounds of chemo and a stint in the hospital, I have lost a lot of weight. One of these days, I'll wake up and I will once again be able to wear the clothes in my closet.
I'm fascinated with how our brains work. After recovering for this past couple of months, I look in the mirror, finally seeing a semblance of "self" again. Then I walk into the bathroom with the sky light or am out walking, and glance into a plate glass window and wonder who that very skinny, crepy skinned woman is? And what's up with that neck? It looks like a harp, tendons bursting forth so proudly. Yipes, that's me. Add to this, age spots and should I mention these purplish veins etc etc. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude - this aging process. We "boomer" people who have lived in Peter Pan's "Never, Neverland" are making our way into Reality Land. ouch.
It is not a surprise the amount of money spent on cosmetic "readjusting". We cannot purchase more time, but we can purchase a way to makes us believe we are 'forever young' - however, this endeavor is like stopping a tsunami. Time, gravity, genes, all get their way sooner or later.
Joan Rivers face makes me uncomfortable. In my opinion, her face looks like it's screaming to get out. It has been stretched to it's outer most limits. She looks nothing like the Joan Rivers of my youth.
So as we were talking, we both could hear our mother's words - "pretty is as pretty does"; "beauty if only skin deep"; "true beauty lies within", "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity".
Fortunately, for all who life in the Lord of Heaven and Earth and wrinkles and the rest - in the twinkling of an eye - we will be changed - we will have no wrinkles to discuss, whether or not our necks have turned us into turkeys or not. "Should I have my eyes done?" It won't matter. However, for today, I will hang out with a jar of good night cream and try to age with some grace and recall how my grandmother's wrinkles rolled with her - literally....through some very intense storms, but most of all through the laughter.
Speaking of laughter, I'm reading Betty MacDonald's books (of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fame). The stories of her own life are laugh out loud funny and many parts of her life were not laugh out loud funny. Though she has been gone for several decades, she still brings a smile to many faces. As these wrinkles and lines continue to appear - o! so quickly, may these lines be created more from laughter than tears.
May your day be filled with joy and laughter!
love kathryn

Saturday, September 4, 2010

While We Were Sleeping.....

I check our one zucchini plant(yes, one zucchini and one yellow squash plant) every morning. Yesterday, I didn't see anything; perhaps that eye exam is more necessary than I was thinking...for this morning, I saw this! This baby weighed in at 9 pounds and is 19 inches long. It's Mrs. Green Thumb's baby. Photo below. Perfect stem, perfect color and shape - just the right size to carve out a sailboat. The only place it could possibly sail would be on the Dead Sea.
Things have been quiet. On the health front - blood counts "perfect". Just the normal 'pins and needles' and numbness but am still upright, trying to remember my feet need a little vacation.
Football season is here. I miss the days of being able to watch the marching bands (looking for anyone turning the wrong direction). Now days it's just beer or Taco Bell commercials. A little marching would be a nice break.
On another note, read Nehemiah 9. It quite possibly could change the way you think about praying. Nehemiah knew God's heart....he knew God was above him yet he knew God stood beside him, went before him and was most certainly right in the moment with Nehemiah.
It's been rather an upside down week in my thought world. Nehemiah was next on my reading list. I've read it all week. (yes, I do skim those names).
While you are sleeping - those of you with gardens may be already producing your own green giants.
Love to you all, kathryn