Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Acropolis is on Strike...

Miss Laura is in Athens this weekend; she and a friend flew from Bologna, Italy (via Frankfurt) to Athens on Thursday. Why one flies north to head south is a question I've learned not to ask; these airline arrangements continue to baffle me. Oh well.

She called me at 10 PM her time yesterday to have me listen to "live Greek music" she was enjoying along with a late dinner. Very nice indeed.

Then, the rest of the day and into today, we've had text message "conversation" that has gone like this......(and oh, so typical of our back and forth talk)

Me: How are you? How is Athens? Dad is home today if you need to phone.

She: I am good. We love Athens so far. We are hoping to go on a tour tomoro.

She: (several hours later...) The Acropolis is on strike so we are doing an all day cruise instead for tomoro

huh? The Acropolis is on strike?
Mom radar is now engaged full on.....a cruise? Oh, yeah....Athens is on the Mediterranean. Oh, but wait.....a cruise????

Me: Cruise to where?

She: Three different islands like Hydra, Poros, and Aegina.

Mom anxiety creeping in....

Me: Make sure it's with a lot of tourists. Not just you and G and some boat driver all alone. K?

She: Ha Ha. There are other people from different hotels.

Me: But with a group, right? Not some guy with a boat and a good price. Anxiety titer still rising....

She: No there are other people from different hotels like I said. She grows weary of my constant questioning and I decide to accept things as they are.....

She: (next day at 7 AM her time) So the tour left without us cuz the hotel guy screwed us up so we are going on a tour at 2.

Me: A boat tour or a regular tour?

She: Regular. Going back to bed.

It's 10 PM my time in Seattle and I've been drifting in and out of sleep myself so I figure they'll get some kind of bus tour later in their day. All is well; go back to sleep, Kate.

She: (at 2 PM her time) All the tours keep getting canceled.

Me: Sorry about your struggles. Hope you can get something. Are you ok?

She: So we are making one last attempt at a tour. This time a night one that includes dinner. I hope it actually works out. The tour lasts for 3.5 hours.

Me: Yeah. Keep in touch when you can. Sun just up here and our Saturday is just beginning. Love you.

And now, nearing 1 PM Seattle time, 10 PM Athens time, I send my "good night" text.

Me: You well in Athens town?

She: Yea, we went on a night tour and had a nice dinner at a tavern. Now we are watching legit Greek dancers :)

Sweet. And, by the way, I wonder why the "Acropolis is on strike"? Too bad.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #11

Perhaps the lesson in the struggle is opening to the possibilities; by allowing much needed nourishment to flow into the open wound, healing is no longer a long shot but rather as close as a heartbeat.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #10

The challenges keep coming. I have to wonder what the universe is trying to teach me (us) as we struggle in good faith to care for our elderly parents? What, I ask, is the the lesson?

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Posts of Late

As I wrote my post's title just now the first attempt came out as "My Posts of Latte". The extra "t", that one small difference and everything changes. A typo, yes; and a reminder that I'm pushing too hard; not only do I crave that latte for a caffeine jolt but also for a bit of self care, the chance to sit and sip.


My posts of late assume a truncated form, a reflection of my need to speak of important issues in my life in a provocative way. Terse, from the heart, largely uncensored, and perhaps generating more questions than answers, these "small bites" reflect the frenetic face of my life in the now. The month of February comes to a close, our second month of 2009 and I'm still waiting for the symbolism of the "New Year" to have meaning for me. Starting over, getting better, a new leaf; whatever we call the hope and optimism that bubbles up from somewhere; that's what I want. Now please. Now.

My patience is running thin. Physically tired. Emotionally tired. I ask my simple question, WHEN?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #9

This beast; she will never be tamed. I can try to outsmart her, run faster, keep one step ahead but in the end, she will bury my bones.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #8

After attending a lecture exploring the reasons why physicians are at higher risk than the general population for burnout, depression, substance abuse, and suicide I have some insight into why I named my blog Ahead of the Wave. Constantly feeling that loss of control is unacceptable, I struggle to keep ahead to keep from being pulled under. Sadly, the adaptation is both professional and personal.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #7

I used to dread being "on call" for work but now "on call" means I get to come home after work, stay put, and sleep in my own bed. Sweet. Never did I think that being "on call" would assume pleasurable status. Everything is relative.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poetry by J. Updike

John Updike died in late January 2009. He was a prolific writer. I've read far too little of his work and am inspired to seek out the Rabbit series and others. Dad always loved reading Updike and still owns several, old hardback editions of his novels. I'll add these to the "must read" list.

I didn't realize that Updike wrote poetry as well. I found this poem today and love the subject.......sleep and its elusive strangeness. I think of my Mom who has struggled all her life to deal with what Updike labels "the twists of another world" and who affirms what I've long thought about sleep:"This churning is our journey." Gorgeous words.

Tossing and Turning

The spirit has infinite facets, but the body
confiningly few sides.
There is the left,
the right, the back, the belly, and tempting
in-betweens, northeasts and northwests,
that tip the heart and soon pinch circulation
in one or another arm.
Yet we turn each time
with fresh hope, believing that sleep
will visit us here, descending like an angel
down the angle our flesh's sextant sets,
tilted toward that unreachable star
hung in the night between our eyebrows, whence
dreams and good luck flow.
your ankles. Unclench your philosophy.
This bed was invented by others; know we go
to sleep less to rest than to participate
in the twists of another world.
This churning is our journey.
It ends,
can only end, around a corner
we do not know
we are turning.

"Tossing and Turning" by John Updike, from Collected Poems 1953-1993. © Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #6

"Speak softly and carry a big stick.", a quote from Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900's, carries meaning for me as I move forward, facing some of the thornier challenges in my life. Strategy, planning, and delivery. And please, people....don't let the "big stick" be a scary part of this quote. I'm seeking wisdom. Wisdom is power. Wisdom is the "big stick".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Chris

As I packed up my things to leave Mom's room this morning I reminded her that today her grandson Chris celebrates his 23rd Birthday. She was there when he was born as was my sister and Denny. Chris was born at 3:41 PM and weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces. Houston was brilliant blue and crisp on February 17, 1986. Welcoming Chris into the world was one of the happiest days of my life.

Even though Mom was pretty sleepy at 6:45 this morning as we sat there drinking coffee she said, "What I remember is Denny using a manila file folder to fan you." Yep, I bet that's true although that's not in my memory bank. Sometimes it's so nice to have someone else who was witness to the big events in our lives remind us what we may have forgotten, even if it's just a little snippet memory like the one Mom brought up. Perhaps especially if it's a little snippet like this. I probably appreciated the fanning.

Happy Birthday Chris!

Forgive me recounting some of the little details of February 17, 1986. Your Dad and I are so proud of you and thrilled to watch you settle into the shoes of the wonderful young man you've become.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

He Cooks for Me

Lately, seeking out a decent meal is at the bottom of my priority list. With little energy to be creative, no desire to prepare anything, and barely a chance to eat, I find that food, inhaled on the run or skipped entirely is more the norm. A bite of this or that to take the edge off the hunger pang is easier.

This man of mine, however, is one amazing cook. The next great dish percolates in his mind for days as he hones the list of ingredients and happily walks the aisle of three or four grocery stores for just the right "stuff" and the best deals. His passion for a new twist on an old favorite or the never before prepared culinary masterpiece manifests in an endless array of meals that not only look gorgeous but taste delicious. I stand in awe of this man who enjoys the process from start to finish. Lucky me as the recipient.

Although the last seven days of my life have been insanely busy with an on-call weekend and many nights spent sleeping at the family home where Mom and Dad reside, a good meal restores me (not as much as quality sleep but a close second). D has served up some amazing grub this week. Just check out this slow cooked carnitas torta with tomatillo sauce served on crusty bread.

Thanks to you, D, I keep moving forward, fueled by this wonderful talent of yours.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Red Dress

One wonders; is the dress posing, waiting for her
moment in the spotlight?
Or, has she been there already, now cast off,
languishing in rest.

Did she dance?
Did she love herself?
Did she know she was loved?

Did she know she was beautiful?

One wonders; the stillness of the moment carries
the unspoken and the unknown,
close to the heart.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Barbershop

As the local daughter for two elderly parents, it seems I'm always in the car taking them somewhere; doctor's appointments, foot care appointments, dental visits and the like. Yes, it's time consuming but most of the trips are important and they're always grateful for the transportation and companionship. Of all these outings, though, there is one that stands out as a personal favorite. Dad's regular trip to the barbershop in Magnolia Village every three weeks or so is 45 minutes well spent. I always enjoy the one-on-one with Dad and something about sitting on that old, long, and weathered fake leather bench in the barbershop, watching him get his hair cut calms my restless mind. Almost a hypnotic experience, I sit peacefully and watch the ladies (usually two, sometimes three) cut hair, trim beards, eyebrows, and other stray facial hair from men, young and old and occasionally a youngster. If I let myself, I get totally mesmerized.

Dad enjoys the outing too. We always seem to find a parking spot close by, he makes it up the four steps into the shop, gripping the metal rail for support. We usually have to wait a bit for an open chair and we joke about which chair will open up first (it can be tough to predict). The ladies work slowly and deliberately. They never rush and when it's Dad's turn he's in that chair at least 20 minutes (which seems like a long time when my hairdresser, in contrast, has my hair washed, cut and blown dry in less than 15 minutes and I'm outta there having paid a sizable chunk of change for the privilege). I love that Dad is fawned over, revered as an elder, and that there is no sense of rush rush. The other day, Ray Charles was the background music, turned down very low and muffled out by the sound of electric clippers and razors.

Sitting there in the barbershop with Dad pulls me into the present moment. I watch. I listen. I'm not thinking about much of anything except what's right before me. I'm glad that Dad wears his hair buzzed short and that it grows fast....I'm able to take him frequently and simply sit with an experience that consistently brings me joy. Funny what makes us happy.

He always pays with a twenty. He'll gets two five dollar bills in return and he turns around and gives one of the fives back to the lady who cut his hair and pockets the other. It's always the same. I like that. Predictable and simple.

Dad always looks younger and happier when we walk out of there. Maybe I do too.

Personal Thought for the Day #5

Although never raised to believe in a vengeful God who would abandon His people to hellfire and damnation, I do not escape unscathed. At once grateful that the dysfunctional views of my grandparents were never passed down to me through my own Mother, I can't help but harbor anger and resentment against my not so innocent grandparents whose misguided view of God destroyed any hope of freedom from demons, hellish nightmares and eternal guilt in a woman (my mother) who never deserved this torture. After 91 years, it is too late to expect a miracle.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #4

Me thinks that registration for the Seattle Danskin Triathlon this year may NOT be worth the effort after two hours wasted attempting to sign up on line. I could have finished the race in less time than it's taking me to register.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy 92nd Birthday

My Dad turned 92 on February 8, 2009.
I am honored to have sat at the table with him accompanied by my husband and my son (and by my daughter long distance from Florence by cell connection). We had ice cream cake while he drank a Heineken.

Dad, you rock!

My post from last year on this special day tells more of your story.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #3

I saw 24 patients in the hospital today; it took me 12 hours to finish my work. When I got in the car to drive home, the tears blinded me; for them and for me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #2

I know it is 4:30 AM when I hear the Seattle Times and the New York Times papers hit the concrete slab of the ramp leading to the P.J. Family Home. I don't even need to look at the clock anymore.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day # 1

All who say with sincerity, "I never want to be a burden to my family [when I get old]", need acknowledge that success is predicated on a plan, a meticulous and thoughtful plan.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The List of 99 Meme

I found this meme this past weekend as I was surfing the net wasting time. Unfortunately, I'm unable to give credit where credit is due as I cut and pasted before taking note of the web site. That won't keep me from posting the rules of play and the challenge. These are "sillies" and I'm offering it up today because if I don't lighten up and play a bit, I'll find myself ranting, raving, and cursing the fates. And, we wouldn't want that.

So, here's what this meme is about: A List of 99 possible things one might have done (so far) in ones' life. Gee, just 99? Anyway, here's what you do: Copy and paste the 99 items below into your blog and then boldface the things you've done. Add an explanation if you like. Kind of fun to see what you have and haven't done on this list of 99.

1. Started your own blog (hello)

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band.

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity (me bad...)

7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain (does a large hill count?)

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped (and never will; don't need to as I done it in my dreams)

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (blogging...ha!)

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning (oh yes indeed, several times)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (no, but I've been to the base of the SoL and looked up!)

18. Grown your own vegetables (tomatoes)

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (there she hangs in the Louvre in Paris)

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked (too dangerous for my tastes)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (are you insane?/never)

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon (no but did a sprint triathlon once)

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29 Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33 Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (do parents count as ancestors?)

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language (does HTML count?)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing (does rappelling down a 30 foot natural rock face count? I did it once and concluded it wasn't my thing.)

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (twice: 1970 and 2008)

41 Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45 Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance (Vegas more details outta me!)

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie (no, but I was on NBC in 1962; "Play Your Hunch")

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60 Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (no, but I've eaten boxes and boxes)

62. Gone whale watching

63. Gotten flowers for no reason

64 Donated blood, platelets, or plasma (once in college and then turned around and went sledding right afterward...)

65. Gone sky diving (and never will; have begged my children to hold off any desire they may have until I'm dead)

66 Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (not yet but this one is on my list)

67 Bounced a check (girl, please....)

68. Flown in a helicopter (as a medical intern, flying out as part of a team picking up sick patients from other emergency rooms)

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar (not knowingly)

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone (maybe a toe bone; maybe)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79 Seen the Grand Canyon in person (flew over on a clear day and from 30,000 feet it was stunning)

80. Published a book (I wish)

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the paper (the Cornell Daily Sun back in 1975)

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (get outta here...)

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life (maybe)

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous (how famous do they have to be?/doubt it)

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby (two!)

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a lawsuit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee (and a yellow jacket and an asp which were worse)

Go for it.....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sweetest Sleep

Sometimes when you can't ever seem to get it.......and then, when you do, it is that much sweeter.

I'm talking about sleep, ya'll.

My last post was about sleep, Shakespeare, and stress. That sleep (or lack thereof) plays such a prominent role in my life is no surprise to me. I struggle to get consistent rest, chalk up a sleep deficit easily, and know deeply that lack of good sleep makes my days so much harder. The last week spent overnight-ing with Mom five of the last seven nights only added to the deficit already in place. This sleep thing of mine has been going on for years, sometimes worse, occasionally better. I'm learning that the causes are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; multiple and therefore as we say in medical lingo, multi-factorial.

I've been watching Oprah lately; she's had numerous guests on the show discussing disordered sleep, particularly for women in their 40's and beyond. Hormonal (thyroid, estrogen, progesterone) issues are obvious causes for restless nights. Some gurus of sleep issues in the "mature woman" tout the magic of "bio-identical" hormones for those of us in peri-menopause, menopause and beyond; formulas individually mixed at a compounding pharmacy. For many women, these trans dermal formulas have worked wonders. I'm still skeptical though, having been indoctrinated in the "western medicine" model complete with FDA warnings about any sort of estrogen replacement when our own supply dwindles. A scare with a funky breast biopsy in 2004 has me spooked. So, for me, estrogens in any form will not likely find a place in my repertoire for healthy sleep.

Hormones (or lack thereof) are but one piece of the puzzle. I believe that other pieces include genetics, how we handle stress (saving it up to be dealt with at night is my pattern), medications, and ignoring the rules of "sleep hygiene" (using the bed only for its two intended purposes). I tend to make the bed my home office (look at me right now, writing this post from my bed!). I also watch TV from the bed, talk on the phone from the bed (work and non-work calls), read and answer emails from the bed, and eat meals in bed. Is it any wonder the BED is not what the BED was meant to be in my life?

I digress....

Last night I had one of the best nights in recent memory. Like a stone dropped in a deep well, I was sleepy (rather than tired) when I turned out the light at 10 PM. I slept until 8:30 AM and never awakened once during those hours. Amazing. Every once in a blue moon, I lasso the prize.