Thursday, May 29, 2008

My son-in-law who teaches sociology in high school is giving an interesting experiential final (a part of the final grade). Students are required to place themselves in an alien social situation, experience it, and write about the experience. A devout Catholic will be attending a mosque or synagogue service, a person who has never tasted Asian food visiting and eating at a local shopping center where Korean is spoken more than English, a young woman who has been much sought after as a date inviting a guy on a date, and a rapper is going to a country concert. The idea intrigues me. What would be alien and interesting for me? For you? I can imagine myself very uncomfortable and out of place at a DAR meeting, or any gathering of conservative, ultrafeminine women. Ruth thinks it would be more of a stretch for me to spend time in a classrooom at an inner city school. The club and bar scene down on Sixth Street would definitely be a stretch.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We've seen two films with Denzel Washington since Bob's been home recovering - American Gangsta and now The Great Debaters. They give such different faces to the issues of race and class. The first was painful to watch - so much corruption and greed, though one truly honorable character. The second i love, though it was frightening to be back in the Jim Crow South in the skins of gifted black college students. Ruth and Chris watched the movie with us tonight - so good to feed them dinner and have their energy in our house. I wish sometimes we could all live in one big house and have seperate wings but much more flowing together. And I deeply appreciate the time i do get with grown daughters. Bob continues to recover. I continue to work long hours and wish I started later in the day - but the practice is very busy right now. I am proud of the paractice my partners and I have built, of being in demand, of doing good work. And i would like to sleep in!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ordinary day - (so thankful to have an ordinary day - at least one more ordinary day). Bob is watching basketball - or was until the Spurs lost in the last second on what he says was a bad call (ordinary frustration - so thankful to have ordinary frustrations) Bob's doctor's appointment this morning was utterly uneventful - all well - anticoagulant therapy being monitored. We go back next week at the same time. If Bob's back still hurts after the anticoagulant is stabilized he'll start physical therapy. All is well here. I'm tired after a busy work day, but happy. Life is full of extraordinary details even on ordinary days. HEB sells chicken in mole sauce that tastes delicious heated for just six minutes on the stove. The sky after sunset glows indigo and then the stars come out. Zachary loves being six. Precious statement the other night when I offered to carry the sleepy birthday boy to bed. "No thank you." he said, rubbing his eyes. "The birthday boy is too heavy. I will walk." and though he is not too heavy, walk he did. Bob is alive, today, right now, and so am I.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Conflicted Memorial Day - 2008

Texas capital building rotunda,
Noon, Memorial Day, 2008,
Texans gathered with strollers,
in wheel chairs, in red, white ,
and blue , in rainbow tie -dye
in business suits - tattooed,
crew cut, uniformed, informal
Some waved the stars and stripes,
Others wore buttons crying for peace,
Some pledged allegiance. Others
stood silent. My grand daughter pledged
serious, intent. I followed suit.
Other's stood quiet,. But all of us came,
in respectful memoriam, to soldiers,
sailors, marines who have feared,
cried in homesickness, overcome
both, fought, killed, struggled
with conscience, suffered, died,
in loyalty, hope, patriotism, terror,
obedience, confusion, desperation
and to those who will. I remembered
Don Boyles, who came to town the
night before he shipped out for Viet Nam.
I wonder if I was the last girl he kissed.
He died in a helicopter crash three
weeks later, trying to rescue buddies.
Each time I visit the Viet Nam Memorial
I, trace his name with my fingers, place
a flower in memory of his, free laughter, weep.
But today, I held my grandson's hands
tightly and internally paraphrased
the country song. "Mamas don't
let your babies grow up to be soldiers."
I may be a pacifist, a believer in
the dangers of blind patriotism,
a citizen of the world more than
of the U.S.A. but when we sang
"America the Beautiful", Al wept
tears dripping into the children's hair.
Nothing's simple. Memorials matter.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I know I wrote I would post yesterday, and I didn't. Yesterday was a sweet day - resting in the morning and celebrating Zachary's birthday in the afternoon and evening. I realized how tired I still was - emotionally more than physically by afternoon. I think I was still too raw to realize that my theme was "I almost lost him. I almost lost him. I almost lost him." It's easy to deny seeing this blood clot incident with Bob as a near brush with death. The truth is he never felt very sick - was just beginning to run a low fever from inflammation, and has been very much himself through this whole ordeal. It's the "could have happened" that's terrifying, and how easily he could have gotten caught up in the end of school pressure and ignored danger signs. Mostly at this point I'm just thankful that all is well and cherishing every moment all stays well.

A number of pieces of the hospital experience really stood out for me. First, it felt SO GOOD to me to be taken care of and know Bob was being taken care of. I was deeply touched by the kindness with which all hospital personnel treated us both - even little things like the nurse insisting on putting pillow cases on my pillows when I spent the night rather than letting me do it. The doctor and the physical and occupational therapists were very patient and detailed in their answers to our many questions - very helpful. I deeply needed to understand what happened with Bob, why, and why he is being treated the way he is. They gave me all of that information at the level at which I needed it. Even though the doctor came late on an evening when he had to be tired and frustrated by computer problems at the hospital, he was utterly patient, never rushed us at all, even asked if we had more questions more than once.

Other surprises -

The hospital has a beautiful view of the bay and we got great pleasure from that.

Our health insurance actually works (enough to make me feel taken care of. I wasn't expecting that. I see the U.S, health care delivery system as terribly broken and we had inadequate insurance experiences when Bob had his two surgeries a few years back, but his school district has changed insurers since then, apparently much for the better. I was also pleased by the attitude and kindness of the woman from billing and her matter of fact willingness to work out a payment plan if we need it for the balance of what we owe.

The physical and occupational therapists asked questions like "Can you bather yourself without help?" and "Before you strained your back did you walk without a walker or a cane?" Of course before he hurt his back we were hiking moderate trails and I think we will be again. The questions gave me perspective, made me think of all the things so many people can't do.We are really fortunate.

For those interested in medical details, here's a summary. Bob developed a blood clot - deep vein thrombosis - in his right leg while he was staying relatively immobile resting his strained back. Apparently this can happen to us, especially as we get older, with inactivity. That's one of the reasons its important to "stretch our legs" on road trips. One doctor mentioned overweight ans a contributing factor and the other did not. Bob and I believe that his low blood pressure and poor circulation to his feet as a result of his neurally mediated hypotension may have made him more vulnerable to this. Besides producing swelling in only the affected foot and leg and hurting badly (good things because they gives warning) the danger of DVT (I note myself giving up and using initials here) is that a piece of the clot can break off and get into the lungs, which can be fatal. Didn't happen for us. The treatment is blood thinners - the first one Lovenax - is injected twice a day and gives complete protection from the clot breaking off and getting in the lung within twelve ours. I have to give him shots of Lovenax twice a day (surprisingly easy) at home until the second level of treatment, coumadin, kicks in. He'll need to be on coumadin for six months, by which time the clot may not be completely gone but should be stabilized enough that we don't have to worry about it breaking off and traveling to the lungs. We have a follow up appointment with Bob's local doctor Tuesday morning and will be learning more about coumadin and the bleeding risks - which don't scare me as much as they did initially. I feel very well taken care of and mostly very VERY thankful.

Friday, May 23, 2008

home exhausted. Thankful - and totally in love with my husband and savoring having him with me now (a near miss will do that) I want to hug him instead of blog and I'm too tired to write complete sentences anyway. The medical world did a super job of taking care of us and I have a lot to say about that - TOmorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bob is in the hospital in Corpus with a blood clot in his leg - apparently from being too still for too long with the back injury. As we understand it this could have been serious untreated if a piece had broken off and gotten into his lungs - but that is very unlikely with the treatment that has already been started. I'm glad I started musing about blood clots the other night when he was talking on the phone about the pain in his leg, glad he called his doctor brother and that that brother encouraged him to go to the ER. (Thank you Bill.)
Bob is in good spirits, in no pain from the leg, just the same ache in his back which the doctor does think is just a classic muscle injury, and says they are taking good care of him. He has not gotten supper, still being in the emergency room, but was going to ask for something. We stopped talking to save his cell phone battery.

There is a very early bus to Corpus in the morning and I will be on it. Joanna would have taken me tonight and that would have been good except somebody needs to drive Bob back to Austin on Friday so he can finish recovering here. Joanna and a friend will drive down on Friday and bring us back - assuming Bob is stabilized on Friday as they believe he will be. I don't think I'll take the computer to Corpus because I won't be there long and its hard to get on line there. I do have key phone numbers, so I will call if there is bad news of any kind - which I really don't expect at this point. I should be back on line Friday night or Saturday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Polar Bear

On the ice, you awe,intrigue
terrify, threaten my kind.
By threatening the ice,
my kind dooms yours.
Good news is better than expected TAKS scores for Bob's students. As much as those tests seem artificial, he feels better that the scores were not low as he feared they would be. And I always feel better when he feels better. Also I had a good, productive feeling work day and feel much less tired than I did this time last week. Bad news, which is bad enough to keep me in my head, not feeling much, not writing many words, is PET scan results that show not only return, but spread of cancer for my beloved sister-in-law, Heidi.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Out of Silence
Response to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Sound of symphony, woven
cadences and frequencies,
is the gold of alchemy, magic,
a spell that overtakes mind,
stops time, captures body,
opens heart, sings to soul,
links human to divine,
human to human, one
world in its spell, whole.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What a weekend! It has been full with performances, family, and friends - really really rich. After a draining weekend, this weekend filled me up, helped me truly realise how blessed I am on so many levels, in so many ways.

Zachary and Danny were as tired as I was Friday night, maybe more tired - slept through at least thirteen hours - woke up starved. Bob came in late Friday night and I was so glad to get my arms around him, to nestle close to him, to listen to his breathing as I fell asleep. He'll be home for the summer after two more school weeks, and I am so ready! Bob is more than ready too. This may be the first time in my life I've literally been counting the days til Summer vacation. Bob is still having to be careful of his back, but it is improving.

Yesterday, when I was waking a tired K.K. for ballet class I conversationally asked her if she knew how proud I was of her and she shook her head "no." so I started telling her how proud I am of her for being such a hard worker in dance and in school, for learning to do things that are hard, practicing and practicing, not quitting, for getting up when she doesn't feel like it, not complaining, working, trying, being kind, helping out. By the time I got to that point her eyes were still shut but her lips curved up in a big smile. I asked her again if she knew how proud I was of her. This time she nodded her head "yes". And of course she got a big kiss.

We saw K.K. dance in the Young Artist's ballet program yesterday - really beautiful dancing, well learned and well choreographed. She had a Friday night and a Saturday afternoon performance and feels that both went well. Young Artists Workshops are invitational and give the young dancers a chance for extra performance practice and give dancers in the Ballet Austin Comapny a chance to try their hands at choreography. All did well. It was a delight to watch the young dancers. I'm so thankful that, since K.K. loves to dance and works so hard at it, she has a chance to study at a really good dance academy (and that scholarships start being available at her level).

Last night Bob and I attended the symphony for the first time in the new Long Center for The Performing Arts. I'm impressed with the new facility, which will house ballet, opera, symphony and traveling shows. It is right on Lady Bird lake and when you come out after the show you get a great city skyline view over the lake. Austin has grown and changed so much since I came here forth years ago. I liked old Austin and like new AUstin too. I'm amazed to think about the continuity and movement of times. Back before I was born, my mother was on the first Austin Symphony Board. she would be proud of what our shymphony and whole arts scene have become. Bob and I enjoyed the performance - Beethoven's Eighth and Ninth Symphonies. - breathtaking. Bob sang in the last movement of the Ninth Symphony when he was at Baylor years ago. He loves that symphony, and so do I - feel that it sings profoundly of the connection human to human and human to divine and the relationship between those two connections.

Today I went to a sadder event - the memorial at the hospital where Mira (unborn grand daughter) died on March 11. The hospital has a memrial service every six months for the families of those who have died "in their care" during that half year. Ruth and Chris, our two oldest friend couples, and I attended for Mira. I was touched by the comfort of really old strong friendships - touched by how thoroughly my old friends love and are loved by my daughter and her husband, surprised by my own tears for the possibility that didn't make it to fruition in Mira. I was surprised and moved that Ruth asked me to got to the front and light the memorial candle for Mira on the family's behalf - speaking her name to the room was hard and sweet - strange to speak it to others and never to see her face or call her by her name to her face. I'm glad we went to the memorial. Ruth and Chris do seem to be doing as well as they could be, and quite as ready for summer as anybody else working in the schools. Or attending them for that matter!

Between ballet and symphony Bob and I watched the film Pearl Diver and really found it good - beautiful visually and an interesting take on minority beliefs and ways (Menonite) in a modern setting. I think the theme was justice vs. mercy - and each had a case, as is usually true.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I think I'm less tired tonight, or maybe just relieved that it's Friday and the work week is over. I am excited about seeing K.K. dance tomorrow and going to the symphony tomorrow night. I am excited about having BOb home for hte weekend and soon for the summer. He says his back is much better, and that is truly good. I've missed him more this week after having had him here all week last week. Today I had an odd visual experience - While I was walking in the neighborhood near my office I was passed by a flock (at least twenty) uniformed policemen on bicycles - apparently a training group. The leaders were calling out orders that echoed down the line, musically. It was very odd to see and hear. Also, in a restaurant today I heard a woman cite a varient on my "Better real than perfect." "Better done than perfect." she said. That makes sense too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This seems to be a week of draggy posts. I am worn out after a very long and challenging work day - but satisfied I did good work and excited by the progress I see in clients' lives. Last night's storm apparently was worthy of my frightened waking - Thanks for the reassurance I wasn't being too neurotic, Ruth. I learned today that our house was just a little north of the worst damage - hail reported (and photographed) between golf ball and baseball sized, and lots of tree and windo damage and power outage. Many of my clients were affected with proken windows and power out. Tonight the sky is clear and the waxing moon bright. We're lucky that the big hail stones missed our house - and I'm especially pleased the kid's garden was spared. They are really excited with their graden plots.

I am touched with the responses to my fasting posts - my concern with disasters and hunger,poverty, violence, around the world. I feel humbled and touched that my little action inspired thinking, talking, donation, sharing of books, possible future conxcience raising efforts. Also, responses have reassured me that I am not being self indulgent in my efforts to make a difference when I am not sure how to best concreely do so. Thank you all who have responded on this thresd.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I went to bed early with discipline to get rest but a storm woke me - constant rumbling of thunder and flashing lightening. I usually love storms, but this one scared me, felt too close. My heart beat fast and my hands shook. I even pulled a quilt into the hall in case of tornados. I'm usually not that fearful, but tonight I was truly scared. We've had rain now and the thunder andlightening have almost stopped. I'll go back to bed now. <strong>

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tired night - one of those times when the creative battery is off. Its interesting to me thinking about different people's energy flows. Some seem more even - either high or low. I definitely cycle and spurt, especially regarding creative energy. Tonight putting words together is an effort. Some nights they just cascade like a waterfall.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I managed my fast, but it was hard - not sure if I feel I accomplished much, though my discomfort did keep my mind on the suffering of others.
I just found out from a Wisconsin friend about a man who has made a commintment to make a big difference against poverty - I know there are many philantropists who do a great deal of good but I just learned about this one and want to share. A Wisconsin philanthropist, Joseph Zilber, is today committing to donating 50 million dollars over the next 10 years to improve life in Milwaukee's low-income neighborhoods. This man is 90 years old, and is hoping to spark at least $150 million in additional grants by others for this purpose. Talk about ripple effect - and in a concrete way. Blessings on your head, Joseph Zilber.
Based on my musings yesterday about Mother's Day and my isolation from the pain of suffereing mothers and children throughout the world, I've decieded, just for today, to try a sunrise to sunset fast in their service. I'm still troubled by the thought that I may be doing this "just to make myself feel better" in a situation in which I'm practically pretty helpless. But my spirituality allows for a possibility that there isn't some deeper connection, some way each action we take, each choice, brings the world as a whole one breath closer or one breath further away from unity and peace for all. I alos intend to use this day off on a practical level to support the mothers locally who have struggles feeding, clothing their families in a time when money is tight for more and more, gas prices high, food pantries emptier. I'm going through my closets and pantry to see if I have anyting useful to contribute - not much but some I think. And I will check the causes for which I write letters and make sure I have not left any possible letters unwritten.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More Mother's Day today. The kids and I baked cookies for Joanna and they made her cards. It was fun that they have developed a tradition. Each of them, independently, incorporated the outline of their hand into the card or poster they made for their mother. Then they discussed whether it was OK for them to all have hands - and decided that it was. Then Joanna came and was delighted that they each had made a hand for her.

Bob went back to Corpus tonight. It has to be hard on him to go back with his back still hurting. I loaded the car for hi and sent food and clean clothes and just really hope all will be well. He does need to be in the classroom as the year winds down, and his back is getting stronger each day - so I'm hopeful. He promised me he will ask for help carrying things even if he doesn't think he needs it.

I keep thinking about being a mother - especially a mother of small children - in a national disaster or war zone situation - the horror of not being able to feed or protect my little ones. I am wondering if there is anything I can do on a spirtitual/energy level to effectively show empathy for mothers in circumstances like that. I am considering a sunrise to sunset fast one day a week as long as there is hunger and poverty in the world, as long as there is violence. I don't like the idea of doing something like that "just to make myself feel better" and its possible that's all it would do - but I'm not sure that there isn't some deeper connection, some ripple effect of intention. Still considering.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I am overfed tonight and peaceful. We had our Mother's Day celebrations early. Two Mexican meals for me! Chris and Ruth brought takeout (from Hula Hut - always a huge treat) for lunch and Joanna took me to Jorge's for dinner. In between everybody but Bob, who is still resting his back, but better, went downtown to watch K.K's end of year ballet demonstration. Ballet Austin doesn't do fancy recitals with costumes and such for the little dancer. Each class of young dancers does a simple demonstration dance in practice clothes, relaxed - and the finale is a dance by the BIG dancers (now K.K. and company. It is amazing to watch the progression of dance skill through the levels.) The little ones are just cute kids trying to point, turn, leap, bend with some degree of grace and unison. The big kids are DANCERS doing real (and not easy) choreography with precision, discipline, style. I've seen K.K. every year, progressing, progressing. What a delight. Seeing the progression in one performance increased my appreciation of how far she and her peers have come.

Ruth and Chris went kayaking this morning, first time since Mira died. They love kayaking, and I hear sparkle and energy in Ruth's voice when she talked about getting ready to go out on the river. After their adventure, during which they found lovely photo shot spot involving wild hill country beauty and a random chunk of pink granite, they came to our house for a lunch. They brought the take-out from a favorite Mexican restaurant and a bottle of blackberry wine. I set the table fancy. I gave Ruth my Mother's Day present to her in memory a Mira. They use the dragonfly as a symbol for Mira and so I bought her a piece of dragonfly yard art - named it "the Mirafly" and both of them picked up the language. Memorials are sad, but there is a sweetness even when we should be waiting for Mira not memorializing her.

Dinner alone with Joanna was good for me - a chance to catch up with her at this crazy busy time in her life. So much is changing. Her childhood dog, Lily (who I remember as a sweet handful of pup, a fearless fence leaper terrified of storms, a good friend to Joanna, died of old age- sad for the whole family. Every time a pet dies - and I know I've written this here before - I think about human mortality and the passing of generations. So much is gone and so much is yet to come.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Bob and I had a funny and very sweet date tonight. He's been holed up in the house with his sore back and I've been working long hours, so this evening he was feeling well enough to get into the comfortable car and drive around and we both wanted a change of scene. He picked me up at work and we first intended to get takeout and go sit at the high parkinglot at Pedernales Falls State Park and have a picnic and wahtch the stars and talk, but the sky was all hazy-cloudy and we figured it wasn't worth the gas to get out there and see no stars. So we cruised the Half Price Book Stores, found three more of the Orson Scott Card Alvin Maker books, had our picnic in the Town Lake parking lot, felt like kids out on a car date.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bob's back is finally getting a little better. I was starting to worry yesterday, just hope for steady impromvement now. I repeat myself on this blog, talking and talking about how much I love my work because I get the chance to be part of people's growth and change. Today was one of those days when that aspect of work just glowed like a beakon, so bright, so bright. I am so blessed in my love, my work, my family. And I have a great additional treat right now, the FIRST book in a seiries by Orson Scot Card, Seventh Son. It's an alternate American history and just really hits right for me - with a strong emphasis on one of my favorite points of view "My power to do good and my power to do harm are equal. The difference is choice." Going to get in the tub with the book now. Lucky me!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I goofed - and the way I goofed is symptomatic of the problems of reading brief news items. Apparently it is predicted that the death too in Mnamar will be over 100,000, not that there are already that many dead. I read a headline and a few sentences and honestly misunderstood. Got to be more careful. I don't know how many are actually dead NOW - and how many are still uncounted (of course don't know if they are uncounted) and how many are likely to die of disease and starvation. I don't know how much death totals in the end will depend on people in power making good choices.
I'm shocked that over 100.000 people have been killed in a typhoon in Myramar. I understand that government secrecy in that dictatorship may prevent appropriate aid/ But what even is appropriate aid in such extreme circumstances? I can't get my mind around the devastation, even with pictures. Personal priorities are so odd. Small problems close seem big sometimes. Perspective. Perspective.

Weather - like health, like air,
I take it for granted, just there,
ambiance, background, until
blizzard, hurricain, tornado,
invisible until explosive,
supports life. Ends lives.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Very odd day - Bob took the day off to have a long weekend after the TAKS test and to celebrate our anniversary. We went out to lunch at Hula Hut, a favorite resaturant, and enjoyed our meal and each other's company, but as we were leaving he had a bad muscle spasm in his back - was able to drive back to the house and has been resting trying to get it right ever since - no progress yet, but I trust a good night's sleep flat on the floor will help. Its good to have him here still, sad to have him hurting. I feel off, and don't like that, wish I were in a more cheerful mood. Maybe I just need a good night's sleep too.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Good weekend day. I really enjoyed Bob and all three kids in the ordinary ways - gardening and park. Also, K.K. had a big day - her first limousine ride to a luau at Hula Hut and later to the birthday girl's house. The limo picked up the kids at Ballet Austin after class (in Hawaiian attire - it was amazing in the bathroom as all the girls put down ballet buns and put on leis, Hawaiian shirts, and other fun colors. It was sweet that K.K. wore my Dad's old Hawaiian (actually made in Hawaii) shirt - yellow with pineapples on it, that he bought probably sixty plus years ago to wear to a Physics department lua here in Austin. Life really does come ful circle. She wears the shirt tied high and tight - very different than the way I remember it looking on Daddy. Anyway, Ian pulled her close int he limo and that was a highlight - but so was the food at Hula Hut!

Friday, May 02, 2008

K.K. is snuggled in the back bedroom. Bob is on his way home - Hooray! Ruth, unfortunately, is sick with strep again. I'm tired and satisfied after a very busy first week back at work after vacation. I write so many tines about how much I love my job - but oh, I do! This week at work brought sad moments, but also exciting moments as people make changes and learn to respect and cherish themselves and to make increasingly wise choices.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May 1 - May Day. I remember hanging baskets full of flowers on neighbors' doors when I was little, and again when the girls were little. Happy day, celebration of fertility and spring. It is full spring here, garden growing and wild flowers bright, trees full fresh green, afternoons warm, nights still cool.