Monday, May 30, 2011


I got up early yesterday to drive to Grayling for my Fishing Adventure with my oldest brother, a fly fishing junkie. He cannot get enough of the sport. Every spare minute is spent with a rod in his hand; he is never without his gear. He had planned this trip for over a year, ever since I first told him I had signed up for a casting class. I found out this week that he made reservations for our guide and motel way back then.

The drive up was beautiful, if a little stressful. About half-way up, a heavy fog settled in. There was a pickup truck in front of me, I knew he was still there because we hadn't passed an exit, but he didn't have his lights on and completely disappeared in the fog. I had to trust that he was keeping the same steady speed that I was.

When the fog began to lift, the deer appeared. Most of them ran accross ahead of the pickup, sparing me the brunt of the surprise. When the truck pulled off an exit about 50 miles south of my destinstion, I became even more vigilant but the deer took pity on me and stayed at the side of the road. I saw several, including one doe licking her tiny spotted fawn. I saw other critters, too, too far ahead to identify; bog enough to be small bears but more likely large raccoons, I suppose.

I arrived early at our motel.  It is super cute and country, with memorabilia all along the inside hall and bedrooms done up with crocheted pillows and quilts and baskets of dried flowers.

My brother usually arrives first but I wanted to show my appreciation, in part, but being early and eager.

We had a great day on the river, such a magical ride in a flat-bottomed fishing boat.  Our guide, Charlie, was interesting.    He is a retired special ed junior high school teacher, and has spent years as a fishing guide here and in New Zeeland, and traveling the world with his mandolin.   I didn't hook anyone but myself - no fish, but no trees or other people, either, so it could have been worse. My brother caught several small trout, but none to brag about. We saw swimming muskrats and merganser ducks, and met up with several outspoken Canada geese. I love my brother and it was fun for me to spend the day with him.
 I drove home after we had breakfast this morning.  My brother will fish the rest of the week, but I need to focus again on my new job.   The Fishing Adventure was a wonderful way to create a buffer between the clang of New Orleans and the pull of my work. Quiet time in nature is a great restorative, and I loved every minute.

The first thing I did when I got home was put up my flag. Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Contest Reminder

Just a reminder, May is almost over and that means my May winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday night.   Anyone who commented on any post in May is automatically entered.    The prize will include a couple of Aunt Sally's pralines, and some Creole pecans, for a value of over $15.    Good luck!

Boy Howdy

I got home at 7 am today, about six hours later than I expected.     It has been a very long time since I pulled an all-nighter.   From what I can recall of the one time in my life when I was hung over, I feel hung over.   Which I guess means that I'd better not make any major life decisions today, because I made some of my worst ever that day!   Sick to my stomach, aching in my head, and glad to be in my own house.   

The trip was a comedy of errors.   The airline was pretty good about keeping us up-to-date on what was happening, but the result was that they lost our confidence early on.   "Hey folks," the New Orleans agent said over the loudspeaker, "the flight before you was late because of weather, so we gave them your plane when it got here and we're going to treat your flight as if it's a weather delay so there won't be any compensation."  

"We're going to board now; we took a plane that was grounded because of a mechanical error and we think it's all fixed up now, thank y'all so much for your patience.   Almost all of you will miss your connections, though, and we're all overbooked for the next couple of days."  

"Sorry we boarded you an hour ago, we just realized that no one ever fueled this plane, can you believe it?, and the regular fuel guys have gone home, so we're just going to sit here while we try to find someone who can fill our tank."

"Sorry that fill-up took so long, there was a squabble over payment since it wasn't our regular fuel guy.   He didn't want to take our credit card so we had to write him a check."

Once landed in Atlanta, there were no signs at the gates and no flights on the electronic board.   We all rushed around trying to find someone to ask about where we should be.  "Your connection is at C 16.   No wait, it's at C 8.    Where are you going again?   Oh, you can just get back on the same plane, you didn't need to get off at all."    

"Sorry it took so long to get the door closed.    We realized that a couple of us left our luggage behind so we had to send for it.   Now the ramp is closed because of this little weather cell that just moved in.   We were supposed to beat it but now it's just hanging over.   We'll just have to sit here now until it passes."

The crew was snappish.   The passengers were patient, although one tiny baby howled with anger every time the pilot spoke.   We all knew how he felt.

I'm not happy about any of the way I had to leave things, but I'm glad to be home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flight Delays

Mechanical difficulties. Not exactly the mental image I want in air travel! Reminding myself of all the ways things could be worse. There are people with young children, and a lady across from me who is dressed exactly like her luggage, except that her bags are white with black flowers and her outfit is black with the same flowers in white. My sister's advice, "find a bar!", is seeming more sensible as time goes on except that everything is closed now. This was not the worst trip south I've ever taken, but didn't have the result I'd hoped for, at least not as quickly as I'd hoped. Spending hours in the airport is just icing on the cake.

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Sometimes life is a mixture of beauty and decay. Those of us who are strong enough to ride through storms are so very fortunate. Others, not so much. After months and months of promises, the Professionals' idea of "coming through" is to wait until the last possible minute and then to start trying to put together a plan. The one who needs help is ultimately the person who comes up with a plan that might work. Fingers crossed.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby Steps

Prescriptions: check. Paperwork gathered and consent signed: check. Missing foodstamp card given up as lost: check. Feeling hot and sticky and tired: check. Face-to-face with Protective Services: check. Appointments set all afternoon and evening: check. Trying to remain hopeful that this plan will work out: double check.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Today, on Magazine Street, I saw a little girl walking with her adults. She had a pacifier in her mouth and was carrying a can of Red Bull. But I also saw a large hawk swoop down and grab a pigeon before retreating to the top of the highest nearby roof to enjoy his dinner. And then a cab driver made several men who had been waiting longer than us wait longer still, because we are ladies and they were not. And the waiting men agreed that made sense. Just when I'm sick to death of this town, it gets all charming on me.

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Going Down

Another day inside a hotel room making endless phone calls and wondering in between who the heck am I to encourage people to have any faith? The doctor says fill this prescription right away. Medicaid says it's not covered. The social worker says she can be admitted this week. The hospital says they don't have a bed. It's back and forth and she sleeps through it all, then goes to visit friends all night despite my protests. I need to get out and buy a suitcase, to have her packed, just in case things work out. Things are made worse by my belief that we should do the necessary stuff before we do the more frivolous things she says she wants to do. Rather than talk about it, she draws a line in the sand and refuses to get out of bed. When she rouses at all, it's to insist she can't possibly go to treatment without a new pair of cowboy boots. Yee haw.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

May Giveaway

There are still several days left before the May 31 drawing for my most recent winner! I'm putting the prize together now!

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quiet Time In NOLA

Pickled pig lips on the counter at Walgreens, something I haven't seen in Saginaw, although we have hog farms nearby. Lots of meetings this week. I am finding, not for the first time, that - although I do not like to be around addiction - I like recovering addicts a lot better than most of the professionals who run their lives. As is also often true in hospice, there is a raw honesty in their meetings, no need to hide their fears and faults. People at their most essential selves. A man last night explained his view of the difference between religion and spirituality for the group. 'religion can save your soul,' he told them, 'but the spirituality of the 12 steps can save your ass, which might help you find your soul in the first place.'

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Some Kind Of Town

Biil boards on the expressway say, " YOUR WIFE IS HOT.". The most amazing things are for sale. People pour on the charm and promise everything while delivering very little. It has its charms, but this is not my favorite city. I tell the taxi driver that we want to go to a certain address. $30 each way, four times a week. What's there, he asks. A clinic, I answer. But the girl next to me leans forward, a little too much perfume and make-up, but proud and definite. ARNO, she says. Addiction Resources, New Orleans. 41 days clean. I hope the same can be said tomorrow because she insists on visiting a friend from the old life tonight. The magnolias are just starting to bloom. They are beautiful and fragile.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Forget Me Not

On my way south to visit my daughter.    If I can get a signal, I'll blog from the 'road.'   Otherwise, I'll be back at the end of the month to draw my May Winner!

Friday, May 13, 2011

You're A WHAT?!?

Sit down, everybody, and try not to react out loud.     Any outbursts and I'll have to clear the room. 

I got a job.     A part-time job.    And I know it's not the kind of job you expected, because it most definitely is not the kind of job that I expected.

I was hired to be a Hospice Chaplain.


I know. It scares me, too. One of the worst things about the job (aside from the computer system) is the title. I will be working with people of different faiths, and some who are not “churched” at all. I asked them if I could be called something like Truth Seeker, or Fellow Travelor, but no dice. Insurance codes, you know. Turns out that I am a “chaplain” because of my degree. Without it, I would be a “spiritual advisor.” Those seem to be the two options that are available – what do you think? If you are not Christian, which is less offensive? If you ARE, which would you prefer?

Anyone who knows all about the history of my relationship with religion[s] and spirituality would realize -- oh, wait, there isn't anyone who knows all about that.     But the thing is, I have the credentials (M.A. pastoral ministry), I used to love this kind of work (which I cannot say about the law), and it was offered to me after I planted my intention with the Universe (by whatever name you know it) to do something useful so it seemed like it would be ungrateful to turn it down.

After my first week I can tell you this:  The one patient I have been assigned so far is a joy and an inspiration.    But the medical charting system, the details of the paperwork, and the calendar full of programs and training sessions that fall within my department are daunting.   I am exhausted.   Seriously.

Welcome back to the world of work.    Wish me well.    Advice is welcome.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Giveaway begins, and Sunday Driving

Happy May, I am hoping that the excessive April Showers will result in copious May flowers!      There are flowering trees in my neighborhood, and they are beginning their spring bloom, finally.    It lifts my heart to see them!   All comments this month will be entered into a drawing for my May prize, which will be a candy or sweet of some sort, since I have been avoiding sugar and am craving it BADLY today!

I took a fairly long Sunday drive today, alone.   I don't do this often, and less often since gas prices have gone so high.   
 But today I wanted to scout out a place north of me to look for fly tying thread, so that I can start working on my brother's intended gift of saltwater flies, and some 5# tippet so that I can get out and fish.   My fishing license is burning a hole in my pocket, because yesterday was opening day.

Long drives by myself give rise to a mix of emotions.   I usually start out feeling sorry for myself that I live such a solitary life, and have no companion.   I imagine nice trips and comfortable drives, and the fun of discovering new things along the way.   But then, way too quickly, I start to recall the less-nice drives that really happened, the terrible side-trips, and I am comforted by the fact that no one in my car or life today will become angry or profane or accusing on this trip that I take alone.    And so I settled into my own company and drove quite happily through unknown roads, enjoying my little discoveries.   

The fishing store was full of interesting surprises and local color.    

I learned that there were several cheese "outlets" in this area where I'd never been.   They were filled with sample jars of cheese cubes, spreads, and fudge.

And I drove past a pond that, although flooded at the moment, might be a good place to cast a few flies once the banks are safe to stand on.

I came home with two colors of thread, the tippet, and some local cheese.     I also returned with just a smidgeon of confusion, because I have no idea why a freshwater pond in Michigan would have been signed with a porpoise.    But all of it brought a smile to my face.   I complemented myself on my driving, appreciated coming home to my delicious homemade soup, and thought again how lucky I am to live with me.