Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Crowding Me

Cancer is crowding me and it has been most ugly here. Been in hospital three days. Pain now at home. More to come. Cancer is having a choke hold on me, but I won’t cry uncle any sooner than I have too.
I want all of you blogger friends to know I am still trying to read but it is hard. I can’t comment much either. Know that I am still out here trying and I am still following you best I can.

Peaches were damaged in the spring and not many this year. The season will be short and expensive. On the way home from the hospital we stopped at a stand humming with people buying what was available which were these gorgeous soft ball sized fruits! We bought enough to share. I can’t do much for my friends, but I can share a delicious and beautiful fruit. So much fun to share! I so wish I could send you readers a peach in this blog but next best thing is my friend’ picture!

 In days to come I probably won’t be able to write much, but I have decided to post a few poems along. If I repeat, forgive me. Leaving my writing is one the most painful goodbyes. I can toss out certain things, give away my treasures, etc. but I can’t stand the thoughts of my words and images being destroyed. Friends, you must keep them for me! Thanks!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Mini Road Trip, Trying to Be Normal

The last couple of weeks have been harder for me. Knowing the cancer spreads is a burden. But nurse came on Tuesday and said everything she could check was in good shape. She advised if I had any energy at all to get out somewhere. Since we had canceled the New Mexico trip, we opted to try a local drive as a getaway. I found a 58 mile Ozark scenic drive and called for Biscuit an overnight at the Kennel. Pretending life was normal, we drove out.

We hadn’t been to Harrison, Arkansas or Buffalo River in years. Using a state tourism guide we did the Jasper Disaster Trail with over 300 curves. It wasn’t a disaster for us, but it was a disappointment. We saw the Buffalo River only once from a bridge, there were no pull outs or overlooks. The scenery might have been great had we been able to see through the thick trees! Also, we missed seeing any of the numerous elk due to the heat and time of day.

 However, the wildflowers were impressive and the newly cut hay sweet smelling. The Queen Anne’s Lace fluttered like a lady’s lace handy. Delicate blue chicory dotted ditches, and black-eyed wild daisies were abundant. There were lots of black walnut trees, both new and old. I saw some Ohio buckeye trees I had never seen before. Also, the further south we wound, the more the mimosa trees appeared, their pink gauzy flowers looked like fairy tutus hung out to dry.

However, the wildflowers were impressive. The Queen Anne’s Lace fluttered like a lady’s lace handy. Delicate blue chicory dotted ditches, and black-eyed wild daisies were abundant. There were lots of black walnut trees, both new and old. I saw some Ohio buckeye trees I had never seen before. Also, the further south we wound, the more the mimosa trees appeared, their pink gauzy flowers looks like fairy tutus hung out to dry.
We stopped for lunch at a café on the National Historic Register. It was not a particularly impressive building. Lunch was downhome cooking and tasted okay, but I eat downhome cooking all the time at home so I am less impressed than some folks. Poor folks, not unlike many eateries, can’t make a decent glass of tea though. It is so hard for me to pay $2 for a glass of poor tea!

So, we wound our way back out of the Ozarks, got dangerously low on gas, came out west of where we expected to be. Got on a major highway and as we are apt to do, missed our exit! We found ourselves not only west of destination but in the state of Oklahoma. We tried to find a motel, which in the area was not so easy. But found a bed and I crawled into it! Crackers and water for supper and while I usually don’t sleep well in a motel, this time I was out for 12 hours!

The next morning after a tasteless motel breakfast, we got on the road and headed to Muscogee for a museum listed on our map. This corner of Oklahoma is still in the Ozarks. There are trees and streams and rolling hills, but gone were the close stands of trees that pinned you to the road. Oklahoma opens up a bit here and begins to move towards western terrain. The land spreads and sky sweeps.  

The Five Civilized Tribes Museum is very small but interesting. It is the building itself that carries the charm. This native stone structure was built in 1875 when the Five Tribes superintendent consolidated to serve all the tribes here. It is beautiful. The rock steps where ladies dismounted from wagons is still there. You could feel history here.


This was an interesting piece of work. Note how many flat irons could be heated on this stove all at once. Originally it was in a Chinese Laundry and then was used at the Eufaula Seminary Boarding school near Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Then we made an effort to find Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room about 40 miles away. We managed and again the structure was impressive. The food was good and presentation nice. There was a piano player for lunch which was quite nice to hear while we ate.

Then it was time to head home as I had done about all I could do. Once on i44 again, traffic became increasingly treacherous. Drivers were aggressive, careless, and mean-spirited. We were glad to arrive home in one piece!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Good June Sunday

Finally, I can write here again. It has been a slightly miserable session around here. I hate to give in to the monster ravishing my insides and fight to stay up, both physically and mentally. Some days I lose the battle, but today I am working on being up. That doesn’t mean I am energetic or full of zip or free from aches and body failures. It just means I am able to push through, to keep trying, to keep pretending life is normal!

Today I managed to cook and run the dishwasher which doesn’t sound like much. However, for me it is a push and a slow going at best. I made a pea salad and a lovely zucchini salad with vinegary bite! I also made Golden Burros. This is a made-up recipe that the SEK Living Magazine is going to publish soon. Years ago, when we were in Leadville, Colorado we had huge Golden Burros that a café was famous for. The boys loved them, and it was different at that time to us as we had little Hispanic food around us.  What made them a little different was potatoes inside along with meat and cheese. I am sure now they used green chili but I knew nothing of that then. So, I concocted a mix of canned chicken gravy with salsa, used mild sausage and hash browns. Today I made them for first time in years since boys left home. They are mild but good.

I also created a birthday card for a photographer friend; he will turn 70. I wanted a card no one else could send and built a birthday wish around cameras and such. I wrote my own poem quickly for it. (He dabbled in poetry at one time.) It feels good to design a project and carry it through right now when most things only happen in my head.

The Photographer

Hides his searching face behind a black box

While, like a winter squirrel digging secreted nuts,

he uncovers our buried selves in a frame.


He brings to light our dark fears and blue dreams,

Eposes even a rainbow of ourselves we don’t know exists.



He saves our past, captures our present,

stores the bits and pieces of our life’s crazy quilt

for the future to wonder over.


Other events this week have been a biopsy and Biscuit had to be sewn up from ripping herself on a fence nail-we think. After the family reunion which really tired me and before the biopsy, I did not need this.  We put a tee shirt on her to keep her from licking the stitches and she did not like it one bit. Changed her personality which was a worry. She did not eat or play and barely moved. But when we took it off she got rowdy and tore a stitch! Oh my, each day wore me slick!

Yesterday, Diane Yates had a book signing a few miles from me. Diane is president of OWL right now and is a lovely person besides a talented author. (Have you tried her Pathways of the Heart?) It was a push to get there but I wanted just a few minutes, and DH left his important shop toys to run me to the book store. So, worth it as being in Diane’s serene presence is soothing! Surely that helped make today better too!

The week ahead holds Biscuit’s stitches removal, dentist appointment, and I hope some lovely reading and thinking and writing days even! The air heats up and is becoming summer so time outside is limited for me. But I do love being among the flowers early in the morning-with tea of course. The world can’t be all bad if there is tea!

Friday, June 2, 2017

And June Begins....

So, it looks like a few more days of on and off rain before the weather turns HOT! No moderation it seems. The weather, no matter what kind of stimulus, is in climate change. Mother Nature is acting like a two-year-old with some happy days but a lot of sniffling around with some out and out temper tantrums.

While I try avoid political ranting, I don’t say much on this country’s present situation. But yesterday when our president backed out of Climate Change group, I hung my head not in anger but shame. How can we take this ignorant stand, how not to work with the world? No matter what I or anyone thinks, it is time for the Republicans and Democrats to meet on the 50-yard line, shake hands, and say let’s forget the past. We all have made mistakes. Let’s drop the stiff-necked bully stance and work together. After all it doesn’t matter how the hole got in the bottom of the boat, when it sinks everyone in the boat goes down!

I have written a blog in my head many times this last week, but just could not do the actually writing online. I have not felt well, both physically and emotionally. This whole mountain I am climbing and slipping on is getting to me! But I try not to complain because I have so many people cheering me upward. I feel obligated to keep climbing to vindicate their faith!! The prayers, thoughts, cards, notes, and gifts keep coming as physical handholds for me up the rocky cancer crag.

Just yesterday someone paid for our lunch downtown and left us free of a bill. Just an effort to say, “We are with you.”  This week alone I have received a new cup and a quilt, see below.

Wednesday, I had contrasting CT scan. Thought Springfield was going to send me home again as they did not like my kidney numbers. Big discussion and they proceeded. Now biopsy already set again for next Wednesday. I feel like a yo-yo spinning and retracting, only to spin yet again.

Yesterday was my book club and I made it. It was a push but so glad I did. It was the month of choosing the next year’s reads. It was grand for a while anyway to be deeply involved in something outside myself. We had a tremendous list to choose from this time and the end reading list looks good. Some I have already read.

One of the best books lately has been Killers of the Flower Moon about the murders of Osage Indians in Oklahoma during the 1920s and the beginnings of the FBI. It is not a happy book at all, but it was so interesting to me. It happened during the years my Granny was a teen and young woman. Although not Osage, she lived a couple of hours east of Osage County and well, no wonder she cut up her Indian card not wanting to be Red. It will blow you away how many White people were involved in killing these people for their oil money. Stupidity, greed, and meanness are not new; sometimes we forget how much of it all has been around and hurt so many. We need to KNOW these things so we can avoid the same behavior instead of repeating it!

Tomorrow some California cousins are coming to visit before Sunday’s family reunion. Another one I have not seen for over 50 years. This too is a gift. Hope all blog readers have a winning weekend ahead!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hair Tales #2

Originally published in anthology of Southeastern Kansas stories....

I was stunned one summer day in the 1950s when my dad came home looking like a stranger. He had gone by the barber shop after work. Instead his wavy dark hair combed back from his forehead, he sported a new flat top haircut. I thought he had ruined his hair, turning  his once soft locks into stubble that looked like a curry comb for a horse. I had to search his face for days to make sure he was the right daddy.

It was all the more strange because Mom and Dad had issues over hair-hers. He never wanted her to cut her hair short, but in Kansas summers before air conditioning, she chopped her hair short to endure the sweat of cooking, cleaning, and childrearing.  Every summer, she would go to the beauty shop and come home with a fresh bob. Dad would sneer and make some snide comment about her trading curls for summer hair, and she would snip back with a barbed reply making the air tense for a few days.

So it was only natural that I wanted long hair to keep the peace which wasn’t exactly how it worked. When my hair got very long, my mom brushed way too hard saying she had to get the “rats” out. When she tired of the job or my whining, she would tromp me to the beauty shop for a Buster Brown cut. How I hated those! I did not like getting or wearing them either one. Sitting still while the lady cut my bangs was torture; feeling the snips of hair dust my eyelashes and nose was worse. Mother wanted those bangs straight as a bobby pin across my forehead, and it often took a several tries to get them right.

In grade school, I convinced Mom to let me have a Toni home permanent. That was hours of smelly, painful business, but I could endure the suffering if she would take the time. She would roll those tiny plastic perm curlers so tight my scalp felt like a trapper had staked a hide out to dry. Then there was that stinky solution that stole my breath under the towel protecting my eyes from certain blindness. Once timed, then neutralized, then rolled into pin curls all over my head, dried, and finally combed out into a bushel of curls, we both were exhausted.

In high school I got say over my own hair. It was the 60’s and straight hair was in. Keeping ends trimmed was the challenge unless you had natural curls. Then you ironed your hair…or slept with cans on your head! I don’t know who first learned that empty orange juice cans from the frozen food section could be rolled with wet hair, but once it dried, hair was straightened with just a little flip on the ends. No head in cans would go under the plastic cap of hair dryers of those days, so a night’s sleep for drying was the only solution. I use the term sleep loosely as cans on your head could hurt, not to mention the angle they put your neck in for the night. Ah, but suffering for beauty’s sake seemed worth it.

     Once I got long hair, I never wanted to give it up again. In the early 80’s I did exchange the long and straight for long and super curly. My beautician convinced me that it would be easier to have Brillo pad tight coils. Then you just washed the hair, picked it out, and let it air dry. What could be easier while raising kids? It looked good but must have be my version of the flat top for my boys. When I came home, one cried and ran to his bedroom saying I wasn’t his mommy anymore.

When my babies were born, I loved their soft swirls of fine hair, and while other mom’s couldn’t wait for their little boys’ first haircut, I dreaded it. I postponed that first clip, enjoying a more European length until they were at least four. When my first grader came home from school one day, he headed for the bathroom to comb his hair. Odd I thought as I fixed his snack. Soon he came out with a beaming smile and new part plastered down with water. “Look, Mom, now I have President Jimmy Carter hair!” And so he did.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Hair Tales, #1

Hair loss with chemo did not rock my boat. I took it well. I just wanted to live, bald or not. My wig was delightful looking I thought. But as hair comes in now, it bothers me. I am not crazy about the color, but I can live with it…or color in time I have left. I don’t like the feel of it, feels fuzzy. But mostly when I look in the mirror I just do not see the me I know.

As a child, I had two modes of hair—ugly and painful. My mother either had my hair cut off into Buster Brown cuts or she did those old Toni perms. Oh, they smelled bad and I had to sit still for so long. But mostly then you had Saturday wash and pin curls which ended up tangled and Mother brushed the heck out of them pulling like each strand was a balking mule in harness. It hurt. In summer it was no choice, the hair was whacked off and horrid, deep seated bangs were chopped. If they were crooked, it was my fault because surely, I moved on the beautician!

When I was in eighth grade, we visited Mom’s cousin in Tulsa who had once done hair. My bangs were long and she offered to trim them. It was time for the summer chop, but dear Pat asked ME what I wanted. I explained I wanted t look like the rest of the 1962 girls. She shaped my bangs so beautifully, trimmed the ends of my almost shoulder length hair, and she rebutted my Mother’s urging for a chop. Pat said let the girl have her hair! So, from that day forward I never had short hair again!

There were times when my hair was midback. Others I kept it shorter but still long and straight like the times. I taught myself to pile it beautifully on top of my head as by high school tall, upswept hair was the rage Long hair cost more to have done at a beauty shop, and I had no money anyway. For my senior pictures, I did it myself and one older woman, a clothes horse and ritzy hair style gal, wanted to know where it was done she liked it so well. She could not believe I had done my own!

My Mother always wore her hair short and shorter, but that is another tale. I dreaded her trips to the beauty shop as she often did not like what they did. She would fume and recomb and be in a bad mood. My Granny told me often that she felt sorry for Mother’s dates with my Dad as he would sit on the couch waiting, waiting, waiting for Mother to stop seething and smoldering in front of a mirror over her uncooperative hair.

Cancer reduces you. It takes organs, hair, strength, cheer, blood health, and the ability to do for yourself. It is nice that people help and I am grateful for all the kindnesses and assistance I have received. Yet, it can often feel like you are a drawing and someone with a strong eraser is removing parts of you one line at a time, eliminating what makes you who you are. It makes you feel diminished, an abridged edition of who you once were.

On Friday my dear friend, Melissa, is going to look at my head and see if she can help me find myself!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May Mini Trip

It storms and storms! Between rains we are trying to do some fun things, to escape from our truths and pretend life is full time glorious!
Melissa is a friend who used to do my hair and still cuts DH’s hair. I go with him so we can still visit.  This time she wanted a picture and it turned out well. I now have enough hair I might let her see if she can do anything positive with gray fuzz!!!! Maybe this week?

We ran up to see our son and his family this week. They are busy; we are busy, but it all meshed for a few hours of togetherness. We actually dodged rain, wind, and hail, but were not home long yesterday before the sirens went off. Ugly wall cloud hung over town trying to drop a twister. We made it through with nothing and more came at 8 last night. Escaped again. Tomorrow is to be nice so I am already looking forward to Sunday. Maybe the flowers can crawl out from under the tables again!
This is one of the best pictures of our oldest grandson I have ever taken. Our kids don’t do the Olan Mills type thing we did every month when our kids were small. But this is more like a portrait, snapped on their back deck. He is gangly eight and long toothed like eight year olds are. But here, the picture captures his sensitive side and show the charming fellow he can be!

Our son told us about the National Guard Military Museum that is east of Jefferson City. It is small but we found it worth the visit. Love finding these little nuggets of history tucked away in America’s countryside. It happened to hold some of our history as well in that DH worked on designing two of the planes in our early marriage, the F4 and F15.

F15 by McDonnell Douglas
Sherman Tank...great piece except it was overpowered by German tanks that were heavier.
This plate brought to American with German family who was fleeing Nazi Germany. The father later fought with American troops.
This was first recoiling canon...perfected by America. The recoil allow the carriage etc. to stay in place allowing for faster loading and aiming after firing.
We found my printer not working late last night. Do I need to tell you how technology puts me in a spin? Nothing we could do fixed it and again this morning. So, we replaced it. I would pay good money just to NOT have to change a thing. But alas, that is not life. Got to go with it. So now have it working and will hope worst of that tale is over!


F4 Phantom