Wednesday, July 29, 2009


We hit 103 degrees in Seattle today; a record not just for the date but for all of recorded history. Working on the 7th floor of a poorly air conditioned clinic today was misery. I threw off the white coat, dreamed of rounding in a bathing suit, drank tons of water, and ate Popsicles. The wimpy fan on my desk blew hot air, creating a bit of a stir but offering little relief. We were an office of whiners today.

The drive home with the A/C blowing full blast provided interim relief.

Now home, the house feels opressively HOT. We've at least one more day of pain before a bit of relief.

Just as Seattle is ill prepared for a week of snow (remember December 2008?), Seattle is also ill prepared for a week of blistering heat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lovely, Dark, and Deep

My last post, written just before our five days away, out there in the woods camping and then relaxing at a remote lodge in the Methow Valley, focused on hope. Hope and relief from the cycle of thinking, doing, being and feeling wildly out of control for lack of surrender. The woods offered the opportunities; as Robert Frost so aptly penned in his poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and they were ever so "lovely, dark and deep"; mesmerizing, tempting, and a metaphor for escape. Ultimate escape.

I'm suffering from a case of extreme ambivalence about blogging. I sold my ticket to the annual Blogher Conference months ago but had a pang of wistfulness knowing that the event took place this past weekend. I've got to reckon with the fact that my ambivalence stems in part from the constant need to edit and clean up what I really want to say. Seems that my mind is in wallow mode where gratitude and optimism evaporate into mist in favor of extreme worry over every aspect of my life. I suffer from lack of faith.

So....what now?

I haven't a clue if there will be a next post or not; probably.

In the meantime, I'll end with a quote (thanks, Queta).........

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey."

-- Wendell Berry, American farmer, poet, novelist and essayist

Monday, July 20, 2009

Going Camping

Going Camping

Pulling out in a loaded down car,
Tent and sleeping bags stowed
Dreams of a site by the river,
Gurgling, moving, drowning sounds of people
Tasting already that first cup of strong coffee
in the crisp chill of morning.
Out there but still close
Cautious; a toe in the outdoors
Hopeful that the flies, and fire sparks, and camp dust
shake up my city brain
and, set me free.
Hopeful that the whispering pines offer a story
of wonder when darkness of night wipes out
the seen and unseen.
Hopeful that the mountain peaks dipped in snow
teach me surrender.

Sunday, July 19, 2009



by Jane Hirshfield

Day after quiet day passes.
I speak to no one besides the dog.
To her,
I murmur much I would not otherwise say.

We make plans
then break them on a moment's whim.
She agrees;
though sometimes bringing
to my attention a small blue ball.

Passing the fig tree
I see it is
suddenly huge with green fruit,
which may ripen or not.

Near the gate,
I stop to watch
the sugar ants climb the top bar
and cross at the latch,
as they have now in summer for years.

In this way I study my life.
It is,
I think today,
like a dusty glass vase.

A little water,
a few flowers would be good,
I think;
but do nothing. Love is far away.
Incomprehensible sunlight falls on my hand.

"Respite" by Jane Hirshfield, from The Lives of the Heart. © Harper Perennial, 1997. Reprinted with permission.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Night Bloomer

In the corner of our bedroom on a low table sits a pot bearing a disheveled and wild night blooming cereus plant that we brought from Texas 18 years ago. We finally found the proper location in the house for this exotic specimen to thrive and bloom. Tonight was such a night; a single bud matured slowly over several weeks from a small, barely visible little bump on the side of a leaf into a ripened bud, ready to burst forth at dusk. Over the course of an hour or two this beauty unfolded to our watchful eyes, delighting our senses.

What made tonight special was that Chris and Heather were able to witness this magnificent one-of-a kind show with us tonight; a first for them.

We're in for at least one more show this summer. Nestled down in the wild and crazy tangle of this plant is another bloom, in gestation.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

These are the last few lines from one of my favorite poems, The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.

The question stirs up the burning issue in my heart: What will I do with my "one wild and precious life"? Seems I haven't figured that out because this life of mine is constructed in stages. Doors are closing, times are changing and I'm waiting for new doors to open. When? Do I need to push on them or will they just open? I sense the former but I feel locked in, paralyzed.

Time is ticking.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I've a little timer off on the right hand side of my blog that counts down the days to my "Blogoversary", the anniversary of my blog's inception back in August 2007. There are 43 days until that moment arrives and I'm starting to think about what I'm doing with this blog, where it's going and what (if anything) this adventure in writing is preparing me for. All along I've felt that blogging was a jumping off point to somewhere else. I'll never be one of those big time bloggers whose sites are read widely and whose voice is recognized "out there". Nor will I advertise on my blog and earn money off my postings. What is the purpose, I wonder?

There have been times when I've given up blogging, once for as long as 2 plus weeks, feeling that I was done with it all. Then back at it I'd be, writing regularly about all the usual topics, my mind full of ideas for the next post, pictures at the ready in case the blog would be better for illustrative photographs. I'm starting to have that restless feeling again about blogging. I recognize that other bloggers experience this ambivalence regularly; they muse about where they are going, what's the point?, what does it mean? and the like.

I've given myself the 47 days to ponder this further; 2 years blogging sounds like a nice time to either launch in a new direction or re-commit with passion to more of the same, at least for the foreseeable future. No question that this blog is a chronicle of my life. When I'm losing it mentally, these blog posts, copied off the computer and stored in a 3 ring binder, will spark my memory.

For now, I plan to keep ahead of that daunting wave.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I'm sad.

Every day at least once and often more than once I'll receive a phone call from Mom. She'll start in with a concern of some sort; a jumbled, mixed up crazy soup type of issue. I've learned not to dispute whatever it is she's saying and simply listen and reassure if I can. Usually that works just fine. Lately "the car" has been the focus. Where is the car? Is it locked up? Is someone going to drive it back to the house and put it in the garage? These are the easy calls. Quick to be assuaged, our calls are brief and hopefully providing her a sense of ease, at least for awhile. Sometimes she will put Dad on the line and he'll just have a brief quip or two; "good to hear your voice today" and "I'm doing fine; don't worry about me". Then we hang up.

Sometimes the calls are tougher to handle. This afternoon she was mixed up, distressed and fearing for her safety after some sort of incident. Extracting the details is like trying to get a an accurate time table from a toddler about exactly what happened when all hell breaks loose. Impossible. I'm left with threads and wisps and not much of substance.

Today I had to call the house phone and ask the caretaker to please check in on her. I could have jumped in the car and made the 30 minute trip to check things out myself. I know my presence would have helped both of them but I decided to let those who are in charge do their work. And, they will. I have confidence.

It's just that I miss my Mother. I truly miss her. I've lost her somewhere in the tangled interior of her mind. If she were complacent and carefree, pleasantly off in her own world, it might be easier. But her world is anything but calm; always thinking, creating stories and scenarios that frighten and deceive her or that take her back to decades past when she was free to come and go and make her own decisions. She knows on some level that things aren't quite making sense and the innocent distress, the lost look in her eye, and the query in her voice all make me mourn the loss of the wonderful person she was.

I'm sad.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just One More Post about the Man in the Mirror

This post, in my opinion, is a great reflection on the recent death of Michael Jackson, written by one of my favorite bloggers. I'll just leave it at that; one of the best I've read and made me think.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Guest House

I love this poem by Rumi, 13th century Persian poet. The words help me remember that all emotions are important and that we should not shove them away but invite them into our lives. They are indeed important guests that come to teach important lessons.


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~
(The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)


"If you could live one year of your life over again in the identical way, which year would it be and why?"

This is the prompt this week from Sandiegomomma, the woman who mesmerizes us weekly with a writing prompt. Sometimes I feel inspired, sometimes I don't. This one caught my attention and I started scrolling back through the years, all 54 of them. Hmmmmm.

Possessing the trait of looking back over the past with a hefty amount of regret over this or that decision, this or that choice, it's not easy to find an entire year when my memories tell me that things were just about perfect and I wouldn't have changed a thing. Funny that the year in mind is 1982; how timely. I've written several posts in the past weeks about this time in my life; remembering my mentor in Medicine and remembering Michael Jackson, both who died unexpectedly and who rocked my world, although in different ways. 1982 would have been that year.

I was 27, going on 28 and completing my last year of Internal Medicine residency and looking forward to beginning a 4th year as Chief Resident in June of 1982. Enjoying the peak of my academic knowledge as a general internist was a sweet treat. Sure, I later trained as a nephrologist with sub specialty focus but right then, I knew more about Internal Medicine than I have at any other time in my career (this isn't unusual by the way). The pinnacle was a grand place to be; well trained and ready to take on whatever might come my way. Students and residents looked up to me and faculty seemed proud of me. I was working with TEA, the mentor of all mentors, launching into a year of intensive responsibility and opportunities to hone my skills further. What a great year to be a doctor; the absolute best.

And on the personal side, I'd been married five years to a great husband. We lived in a cozy two bedroom bungalow with Pearl, the cat, Toby, our Weimaraner, and Spike, the mutt devil-dog. Our respective parents, both sets healthy and active, lived close by and were important in our lives. Healthy parents. Wow, what a blessing that was in retrospect; something I clearly took for granted as though it would never end. I had endless energy; could stay up all night on the job and keep working through the next day, my brain on "go". Sleep came easily, minutes after falling onto the pillow at night. I didn't lie awake worrying about tomorrow or stewing about the past. I lived each moment as it came and those moments were just fine.

Michael Jackson's music blasted in the background and more than once, his singing and dancing got me out on the dance floor to boogie on down. It was a great year. 1982.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Personal Thought for the Day #24

Me thinks that the "pot is calling the kettle black" when I'm referred to as the "drama queen" around here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How Many Ways?

How many ways can it be said? Let me give this a try.

Kicked the bucket
Gave up the ghost
Bought the farm
Went to Chicago (that's a medical term; what do they say in Chicago?)
Went belly up
Breathed his last
Went six feet under
Passed on (or away)
Slipped away
Went to his Maker
Bit the dust
Dropped dead
Pushed up daisies
Cashed in the chips
Bumped off

Probably no one finds this the least bit funny. But, at the moment in my twisted mind, laden with anti-histamines, aspirin, and nasal decongestant which I've poured into myself to combat the miserable symptoms of this summer cold, I just lie here sleepless and think. This type of list comes to mind for some strange reason.

I'm hoping to feel better tomorrow. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Guys and the Gals

It's an interesting summer around these parts. Enjoying our 23 year old son and his 21 year old sister living as family under one roof for a few months is both wonderful and well, I said, interesting.

The two invite their friends over to the house frequently and that's just fine. D and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we would no longer be hanging out in the family room much this summer and that the typical evening would not be spent watching the "big TV" in said family room. Instead, we each retreat to our own spaces; me to the bedroom and he to his office/study, both of which are upstairs and away from the more trafficked areas of the house. Our son has made the basement his domain for the summer so most of the time when his buddies are over, the action is downstairs whereas when our daughter has friends over, they congregate in the kitchen, near the table to be close to the laptop computer (Facebook and email at the ready).

The other night, the gals came over, on a mission to sort through Laura's clothing, weeding out stuff to sell to second hand shops and in an upcoming garage sale. The bedroom was in total upheaval (as the photo shows) and may never recover since most of the items never made it into the hands of paying customers. My suspicion is that all this clothing is destined for a donation bin but hope springs eternal for my daughter who is always looking to make a sale. But, who am I to rain on her parade? (yet another tendency I apparently possess along with being judgmental, a quality described in my last blog post).

In addition, the gals had plans to bake chocolate chip cookies (that sounded good to me as I was starving and ready for the daily chocolate fix) but when I ventured into the kitchen after they had abandoned the house to haul all the clothing packed into giant garbage bags out to the car and then to the second hand store, I found a surprise (and no cookies). There, sitting on the kitchen counter open to the breeze was a green plastic bowl full of cookie dough. Getting warmer by the minute this dough and I'm thinking: DUH, don't they know that raw dough is a cesspool of bugs just waiting for the next victim to indulge in the sweetness? What's up with that? But, rather than place the dough in the fridge (like the enabling mother I usually am), I elected instead to leave it sit and fester. Annoyed that I obviously wasn't going to get my cookies, I did feel obligated to warn the group of guys congregating in our house to keep away from the toxic dough at all cost, even if tempted. They were appreciative and steered clear.

So now, on to the guys. Their thing is male bonding facilitated by the exercise of smoking pipes in the back yard. Apparently this tradition started last year when several of them lived together in a rental and continues on even though they're dispersed in all directions this summer. Very serious looking, these guys, taking the puffs and blowing out smoke as they sat on the backyard decking on a cool Seattle evening. I'm sure their conversation was equally as deep as their appearance.

As for me, I'm just the observer of the guys and the gals in this house. I did learn two things though.

, from my daughter: "Mom, that cookie dough is made without eggs so we can eat it and not get sick."

And from my son: "Don't worry Mom, we don't inhale."