Archive for the ‘important stuff’ Category


A few weeks ago we attended the funeral of Jeanne Hollis McDowell, the mother of our friend Steve.  We went because although we didn’t know her well, we liked her and Steve and Kathy are our dear friends.

All four people who spoke – Steve, Jeanne’s granddaughters Erin and Sarah, and the minister, Judy, who had known Jeanne since childhood, were eloquent about her life.  We knew her as a woman with an inquisitive and optimistic look on her face and a bright interest in the world and its inhabitants.  The speakers at the service clarified and expanded upon her character as a kind, compassionate, and open-hearted person.

I had a little epiphany during the funeral.  Like many people, sometimes I fall into a pit of despair for no good reason.  In those times I tend to think that my life has no value to anyone or anything.  I’ve never finished the novels I’ve started, my dissertation was an uninteresting molehill, I’ve never stuck with anything, I have nothing to say, blah blah blah.  The epiphany came from the wonderful descriptions of Jeanne’s life.  She wasn’t Mother Teresa or president of the United States, didn’t write the Great American novel or run a soup kitchen (that I know of). Yet her way of being in the world was of enormous value to the people who knew her. She was a marvelous mother and grandmother, a woman who cared about people and home and community, and that was enough.

My point here isn’t about who I am, nor about who Jeanne was.  It’s that living a compassionate life and being present and open-hearted are all we need to do.

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Sadie and the heron

Sadie had a bad week last week.  She started dragging her back legs, and was unable to come up the steps from outside. So on Friday, we said goodbye to her.

Our wonderful vets, one of whom was responsible for getting her picked up after she was hit by the car 3 years ago and the other of whom did the surgery to put her pelvis back together, came out here on their lunch hour.  We all sat out on the grass on Sadie’s crate blanket, and with Buster, who lay quietly beside us.  While the vets were preparing, a great blue heron flew low overhead, directly above us.  Sadie whipped her head around – she was always an optimistic chaser of big birds, “Maybe this time I can catch it!” – and then laid it back on Rick’s lap.

We think she had a glimpse of the goodness of her afterlife, deeply deserved.

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Sadie again, sadness

I haven’t posted in a long time on this blog.  Egghead Junior just requested that I do so, and I do have something to say. In February of 2010, when I was running out of steam on posting here, we got Sadie, and I wrote about her a couple of times.

She is the sweetest doofus of a dog.  We adore her, and now we’re going to lose her.  She has a tumor in her right shoulder that will likely metastasize into her lungs.

Because of the steel plates holding her pelvis together, she has a funny peg-leg way of running, and so we probably didn’t notice that she was limping on her front leg until last Thursday.  We saw it in the morning, and in the afternoon when I took the dogs for their walk she was really struggling.  But she’s a game dog, always up for whatever’s happening, so she was trying.  I cut the walk short.  We thought she must have hurt her leg jumping off the porch on last week.

The next morning A took her to the vet, where they x-rayed her and saw the tumor.  Apparently it is not unusual for animals who have endured some sort of trauma (like being hit by a car) to get this kind of tumor.

The day after that, the dogs saw a coyote out in the field below the house and as usual went bananas.  A and I at first hesitated to let them out, but then we thought, what the heck, why take away the thrilling experience of being a dog from her?  She and Buster went tearing out in the normal way, Buster out front, Sadie gamely lolloping along behind.  This time she ran out of steam partway down the field.  She stood for a few moments, her head low between her shoulders.  And then she laid down.  A and I watched from the house in sorrow.  Then he walked out to get her, prepared to carry her back if necessary.  She saw her favorite person coming and got up to meet him.

She’s on pain medication, which seems to be making her comfortable, better today than yesterday.  We’re going to do our very best to prevent her from being in pain.  We always wait just a tad too long to make the difficult decision to put our pets down, and we’d like to avoid that this time.

We have been able to give her a second window on life, and she has given us great joy.

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On Sunday we’re going to a fundraiser for the ALS Society called Walterpalooza. It’s to raise money for a van, to be owned by a trust and used by whoever needs it.  The first recipient is a man well known and well liked in Lawrence.  (I don’t know if I can use his name.)

The fundraiser will be a big fun party, with bingo, a fashion show of t-shirts through the years, a potluck, and a silent auction to which people have donated many wonderful items.

I’m mentioning this for the benefit of readers who live in Lawrence and who might not know about it.  Come if you can, and if you can’t, consider making a donation anyway.  See the website for details.

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I’m throwing down my crutches.

Maybe I still have Lyme disease, but hardly.

Over the last few weeks I have realized over and over again how much better I feel this year compared to this time last year.  

Last year at this time I had just learned I had Lyme disease.  I couldn’t garden because I couldn’t bend down.  I couldn’t carry anything because my arms and hands hurt too much.  I couldn’t make the bed because the mattress corners were too heavy to lift and because it hurt my fingers to tuck in the sheets.  If I went to the grocery store, even for one item, I had to use a cart.  I couldn’t carry a basket (ow), and I had to use the cart like a walker. Some of my yoga practices consisted of lying down and raising and lowering my arms.

A helped me with everything readily, kindly and lovingly.  He never expressed impatience or annoyance at my limitations. B did the same when he was home.  My friends and family helped me with enormous amounts of love.

This year I can garden, I can do almost all the yoga I could do before I got sick, I can make it through the day without a nap, I can carry bags of groceries, put dishes away in the cupboards, wash vegetables in cold water without my hands stinging, and lots more.  I still have a little weirdness in my shoulders and hands, but nothing like what I had last year. 

I am so grateful.

All of the following helped:

  • Lots of physical therapy
  • Herbal regimen for Lyme disease (still following this, from Healing Lyme, by Stephen Harrod Buhner)
  • Massage once a week (still doing this)
  • Special help from my chiropractor
  • Arthritis medication (plaquenil) from my rheumatologist
  • Yoga
  • Walking every day I could
  • Water exercise
  • And most important, kind thoughts, prayers, blessings and love from many dear people

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First harvest


We've waited three years for these four spears of asparagus. We're not having dinner at home tonight, so we'll just have a preprandial spring snack.

We've waited three years for these four spears of asparagus. We're not having dinner at home tonight, so we'll just have a preprandial spring snack.

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We live on a gravel road.  The county employs a road maintainer, who grades the road periodically, adds gravel when it’s needed, maintains the ditches, plows snow, and keeps the foliage cut back.  This last is done with a sort of vertical lawn mower.  It shreds the trees on purpose so that the stubs aren’t sharp.  He’s been out there the last couple of days.  The result is horrible.

A went out to talk to him yesterday. He’s a nice guy, just doing what he’s told to do, perhaps not with the full engagement of his brain, but let’s be kind.  I don’t know that for sure.  He told A to call the county trustee to discuss it with him.  Within about 15 minutes, the county trustee, also a nice guy, was out to look at the damage.  

This has to be done so that the maintenance equipment can get all the way across the road.  The county budget doesn’t extend to hiring a crew to cut and trim the trees and shrubs manually.  The trustee and the road maintenance guy agreed on some ways the job could possibly be done less brutally.  I’m not optimistic.

On the plus side, A is very good at diplomacy and it makes me proud of him.


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All is well

Aaaah. My sister’s eye surgery, though painful, is over. She is fine and very grateful for all good thoughts, prayers, and light sent her way. Thanks.

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One of my sisters is having eye surgery tomorrow at 12:15 Eastern time.  It’s not a huge procedure, but it’s scary and could be painful.  If you feel like it, send beams of white healing light to wrap all around her.  That’s my plan.  What is our good energy for if not to spread all around to our fellow beings?

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First of all, I’m going to recommend Army of Women again.  They want one million women to sign up to help with breast cancer research.  Recommend it to your friends, and if you’re a woman, sign up!

Next, I’m sure I’ve mentioned Sustainable Dave’s site, 365 Days of Trash.  He is a person who puts sustainability into practice in a big way.  If we all did this, the world would be a better place.  If you have a blog reader (which I recommend highly), add it to your list.  

And third, we have a bench outside our kitchen window where Buster jumps up and barks to be let in.  Here he is on the other side of the screen.

Neglected dog

Neglected dog

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