Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Keep It Covered

Logically, I guess, it is no surprise that thoughts of life and death keep close company.   I was reminded of this again today when a sincerely bereaved spouse hugged me goodbye and patted my butt.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Musical and Strawberry Jams

This week was a mix of experiences.   I spent time with people and families, dead and alive.    I participated in a very spiritual, very eclectic funeral that ended with a New-Orleans-style Jazz Funeral Procession.   Following a brass band, we marched and sang and whooped our way around the block with a laughing, crying crowd.    
I built paper castles with traps for the Bad Guys with my grandchildren.    
I painted a patch of terracotta on my kitchen wall to figure out what color to paint, and decided that I probably need to choose a lighter color in this windowless room.   I harvested herbs and made strawberry jam that didn't set like it should have, my first jam-failure ever.   
And today, I hope, I will go swimming.     All in all, life is good. 

And how are things with you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(One Of) The Most Wonderful Times Of The Year!

Strawberry season!

Holy Ground

People have asked me this week whether or not it is hard to work in a place where death is an expectation rather than an occasional, terrible surprise.    They are surprised to hear that it is not.  The Hospice where I work is not primarily a place of sadness, it is sometimes a place of happy memories and celebration.   It is often a place of profound peace.    In most ways, my new job is like other jobs,  a combination of tedium and amazement, although, come to think of it, I don't remember a lot of amazement in my former job.    I only work 20 hours a week, but I often feel like I am working all the time.    I still spend a lot of time awkwardly standing around wondering how to offer comfort, how much to intrude, how much to hold back.    But every so often, it all clicks, and those moments are indescribable.   In the Real World, people are pulled by a million distractions, they are tightly wrapped in their protective veils.  In my work, sometimes those veils are dropped as useless, and the goodness and vulnerability of people is open to view.   

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy World Oceans Day!

We depend on the world's oceans for more than we know.   We know we like to be by the water, we know it is beautiful, but we seldom stop to think that our survival depends on the health of our waterways and that we are slowly destroying them.   Celebrate World Oceans Day by learning something new -- one way would be to check out Shellbelle's amazing post on artificial coral reefs.  Educate yourself about ongoing oil spills and think about how our dependence on oil and gas is affecting our oceans.  Learn about the melting glaciers.    Or read about the "galaxy of garbage" that floats in the Pacific Ocean,  miles and miles of the stuff, and has started to appear in our food chain.    Commit yourself to stop buying and using plastic bags and bottles.   I don't know whether we are past the tipping point, but I know that we are too close for comfort.   Please learn something today about how we are polluting and destroying the water and marine life, and do some little thing to change it.   If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for your grandchildren, or mine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


After months of complaining that it was Way Too Cold in Michigan, I can now say with conviction that it is Way Too Hot.   I must just be a middle-of-the-road person, I don't think I like extremes of any sort.

But I do like this:  two extremely nice things happened today.    I got a letter from an airline, on whose plane I did not enjoy the Nightmare Flight back from New Orleans last month.    Although I am a big time whiner and complainer, I did not complain to them about the flight.    It was over and I was just glad to be home.    But today's mail brought me their apology and a free round-trip flight!   (I expect that I will still have to pay taxes and fees, and I know derned well that those make up most of the ticket price, but I am not going to dwell on that because any little smack of free is a good thing!)    It was a nice surprise.

I also got the sweetest complement from the mother of one of my patients.   She told me that I am the most spiritually nonjudgmental person she's ever met.   I found that very sweet, especially since I suspect that her life has brought her a great deal of undeserved judgment.    People have sometimes called me "open minded," which always makes me wonder if I have taken a position at all.  But I have always suspected that the most important thing we do to foster other people's spiritual journey is to stay out of their way and let the Spirit do the work, so "spiritually nonjudgmental" is exactly where I want to be, and I was touched and happy to hear it.

As I work on balancing the pie-chart of my  life, I still feel unsettled and uncertain in my new job.   I spend my time in a mix of administrative and practical care.   I visit people every day.   It is a field where there is seldom anything to say, so I seem to do a lot of awkward standing around.   Some people want to hold my hand, some turn their faces to the wall.   Some people want to tell me things they can no longer form the words to express.  Some people want to pray, and I've had reason to call on my Pentecostal upbringing, my interest in meditation and Buddhism, as well as my Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Catholic pasts.     I will conduct (?) my first funeral tomorrow, and the rest of the day will be spent visiting people and wrestling with the horrors of a hospital charting system.   I will be glad when I finally get at least one chart done correctly, start to finish!   

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I looked for almost two years before I found a job.   In the beginning, I looked diligently, in the end, I was more relaxed.   But, during my search, I expressed my willingness to drive over 100 miles and stay there during the work week if I had gotten any of the offers that were discussed.    A couple of weeks ago, I accepted my new position in a new field.  A field that doesn't pay very well but where I hope I will be useful to other people.   So it should have come as no surprise that yesterday, out of the blue, I got a phone call from someone at my old employer -- the same employer that cut me loose when my daughter was so ill -- with the offer of a really good job with a ridiculous salary.    My sister suggested that I should consider it.   She would like me to live nearer to her, and she pointed out the practical benefits of a ridiculous salary.    After all, I have barely started at my new job, which is part-time, with a lower salary  and, so far, I don't feel like I'm very good at it, so why not go back to what I know?    I know that what she says makes sense, but I reacted to the phone call as if I were being invited back into a bad relationship after just beginning to heal.     I just said no.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I numbered all of my May comments (in order of posting) and used a random generator to draw the name of my May prize winner -- and the winner is . . . (do you hear the drumroll?) . . . Snowbird, again!    Snowbird-Nancy's blog, Sand Beneath My Toes, is the first blog I ever followed.   She used to live in the North Country and travel to Sanibel with her husband, Chuck, whenever she was able.    Somewhere along the line, she retired, moved south, and began to live the fantasy full time, to my delight (and enormous envy).   She is active and fearless in animal rescue, an amazing and wonderful woman, and, although she frequently updates on Facebook, I wish she would blog more often!  (nudge, nudge)     Snowbird is the winner of my New Orleans praline/pecan package.   Congratulations!     Your prize will go into the mail this week, and I hope you enjoy it!