Friday, March 17, 2023

Four Silent Months Led to Epiphany


Hello All, 

For a little over four months, I’ve been dwelling with a series of health problems and well a malaise that thrust me into a shadowed place within my spirit. My heart.  My mind.

During that time, my brother and sister-in-law rushed me to emergency, and I stayed overnight in the hospital—some thirty-six hours of wondering exactly what was happening or had happened or would happen.

However, out of that experience came an epiphany—one that I’m unable to share fully at this point because its ramifications are still making themselves known in my life.

I’m posting today to let you know why, since mid-November, I’ve been away from reading your blogs and posting on my own . Several months ago, I began a downward spiral on the slippery slope of self-doubt. I wasn’t clinically depressed. (I learned and experienced what that is when I was in my thirties.) 

However, I did begin to feel “low.” To be “down in the dumps.” To cease to “live in the moment,” “to go with the flow,” “to look for the good” in all that was happening.

Throughout my life, when my body has experienced ill-health. Or my spirit has deflated like a carnival balloon. Or my mind has lost itself in the brambles of my thoughts. Or my heart has ceased to follow my bliss—as Joseph Campbell encouraged us all to do. Always during those times of drought, I’ve let go of reaching out to friends and taking care of myself.

Translation: I let myself dwell in my own shadows rather than  reach out to discover what was happening with my friends. That is, in my self-absorption, I forgot that friendship can open doors for us. I forgot what I know so well—that to be open to the lives and concerns, the health and pain, the triumphs and joy of others could lead me out of my alienation from myself. It could lead me from the desert in which I wandered to the lush green of wonder and gratitude.

Also, during those four months, I had no interest in food or eating and so lost a number of pounds. I always wear loose-fitting clothing and a lot of it! In the winter, I layer: turtleneck, sweatshirt, down-filled vest or hoodie. Lots of loose clothing that effectively covers both weight gain and weight loss.

I tell you all this because the epiphany of just a few days ago is leading me to the green pastures that awaited me if only I’d let myself trust the words of Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be exceedingly well,” and those of Teresa of Avila, “Fear not.”

The darkest part of my malaise was the belief that I would never write another book—whether memoir, cat tales, or novel. I began to grieve for this gift that had been given me as a child—this gift of imagination and connection.

Months ago, I began to grapple with this fear. It grew like a ganglion. Its tenacles squeezed my most cherished beliefs about myself. 

I tell you now that in the epiphany given to me by the Holy Oneness of All Creation—all those who raised me, taught me, and befriended me—came a new belief. A belief that if my writing is for the good of the Universe, the words and story will be freely given to me. 

 Amen and so be it and so it is.



PS: I haven’t figured out how to respond to any comments you leave. Moreover,  I can’t figure out how to leave comments on some of your blogs. Please just know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers and beliefs that all—somehow—works out to good.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

One Lumberjack Home

Stillwater, Minnesota, 1860 photo from Wikipedia

For nearly forty years, I lived in Stillwater, Minnesota. By the time I settled there the town had grown from a small village nestled in the bend of the St. Croix River to a welcoming site for tourists. Along the way, it had been the homebase for countless lumberjacks who spent months of each year in the North Woods. The logs they cut floated downriver to Stillwater and its mills. 

All that took place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the time I bought a house on the South Hill, the lumberjacks were long gone but their memories and their myths of the folk hero Paul Bunyan and Babe, his Blue Ox, remained.

A Stillwater Sawmill of the 19th Century 

Becomes a 21st century Antique Shopping Center

 What also remained were the “lumberjack” homes, built of lumber harvested by them. 

The lumberjack house I bought was built in 1870. It became the home of my heart. Toward the end of our sojourn together, I hired a contractor who changed the attached back porch into a four-season one for me and then remodeled the kitchen and bathroom, which had been added to the original house in 1910. That section of the house also had a pantry in which sat the washer and dryer.

The unfinished basement of the house had old, old, old windows that let in rain.  The crawlspace beneath the 1910 addition became a  hidey-hole for all the cats who ended up inhabiting the house with me. The basement steps, as well as those that led to the second floor, were narrow and steep. 

They were part of the reason I ultimately sold the house and moved back to Missouri.

Meniere’s entered my life in 2006, and the acute rotational vertigo episodes it brought with it made falling a daily—sometimes hourly—occurrence. In fact, I tumbled down the steps several times, but was always fortunate enough not to break any bones or suffer a concussion. However, the number of falls helped me realize that I had to live in a one-story home with no basement. Steps had become too hazardous. Also, both my friends and I were aging, and I needed more help with daily living. 

So, I left Stillwater and

moved back home to where I had younger family members on whom I have come to rely as this life-journey continues. 

A young couple bought the home and were delighted with it. They felt that it had “good vibes.” They wanted to start their family in it.

The inspector I’d hired to examine the house before I put it on the market had been impressed with all that I’d had done to it, especially between 2001 and 2009: totally new electrical wiring throughout the 139-year-old house; four-star double-glazed windows throughout and on the new four-season porch; a new furnace and AC,; all new appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, hot-water heater, and range) during those years; a new roof; new steps, railing, and sidewalk leading to the back porch; new front, porch, and back doors; and the remodeled kitchen and bathroom.

Unwittingly, the young couple hired the same well-respected inspector. On the day we signed the papers, they told me he’d encouraged them to buy, saying the house was “a heck of a deal!” He found only one thing needing attention: one branch of the tree at the side of the house had leafy twigs touching the outside electrical wiring. 

 All I had to do was to hire a tree trimmer who took care of that offending limb—although a quite graceful one—in a matter of minutes at a minimum cost.

All this came to mind in the last week, as I purchased a new washer and dryer. I suspect that my next posting will be about that experience and the “vibes” of my home here in Independence. I tell you, with contentment in my heart, that life is good—when I keep things in perspective. 


Monday, October 24, 2022

The Motorcycle Ride & Flashback

 Months, not weeks, have passed since I visited Idaho in late April. Since then, I’ve posted about the “so-called” date I had and the tattoo Ruby—who calls me Grandma Dee—did for me. I’ll end this trilogy of adventures with my motorcycle ride. 

Last March, when Gino, one of Ruby’s tattoo mentors, bought a new motorcycle, she bought his old one. Seeing that motorcycle by the curb, I said, “You know, Ruby, I’ve always wanted to ride one!” 

“Not this one, Grandma Dee. There’s no flat seat behind me.”

That ended it for me. Not for Ruby. Unbeknownst to me, she talked to Gino, whom I’d met a few days before at his tattoo parlor. 

 Ruby called with the news: she and Gino would come by and pick me up in fifteen minutes.

I pulled on my thickest hoodie and tied the laces of my red shoes—ready for adventure. 

Geno and Ruby arrived; I rushed outside to greet them . . . and Gino’s whiz-bang of a motorcycle. Trey and Elisa rushed with me. When Gino crowned me with a helmet, I felt like Darth Vader. Fearless. 

Helmet donned, I tried to swing my right leg over the back of the cycle. No way! I simply couldn’t get my leg—with its knee replacement and its indicators that hip replacement is next—high enough to “throw it over” the backseat of that powerful machine. (It’s moments like this that tell me that at 86, I’m aging, aging, aging . . . into OLD.)

Both Elisa and Ruby came to my assistance, holding onto my right leg and lugging it up, up, up until we had all 138 pounds of me, my clothing, and that helmet upright on the seat. 

There was no backing to the seat, so Gino encouraged me to sit as close behind him as I could and to hold onto the front of his down-filled vest.

“Grip it!” he said. “And when I lean right or left, you do that too.” He demonstrated the graceful leaning, explaining that I’d need to do that when we went around corners. 

All in readiness, we departed. For the next fifteen minutes, Ruby led us up and down hills and out onto what I’d call highways. 

Only once did I feel a frisson of fear. In her enthusiasm to “show me a good ride,” Ruby had gotten a little too far ahead of us. As we went around a corner, Gino had to put on a burst of speed. 

I could feel my hands losing their grip and sliding past his ribs and then, as I’m desperately trying to hold on, my body starts moving backward. Inexorably backward.

A vivid photo flashed in my mind of me flying off the tail end of that supercharged cycle and hurtling backward through space to land like a deflated hot-air balloon in the shrubbery of one of the homes we’d blurred past. 

Years before, in May 1977, I’d been riding my ten-speed bicycle down a hill in Stillwater, Minnesota, and inadvertently pressed the handle brake when I hit a pothole. The bike and I separated; it flew up into the air, and—the neighbors told me—did a couple of circles before falling in a heap on the street.

 I flew—the neighbors measured the distance—almost eighty feet through the air, landing on my right side. I ended up in the hospital for three days with my right collarbone broken in three places and the side of my face deeply scraped and raw. For the next ten weeks, I wore my right arm in a sling. Therapy helped me regain mobility and flexibility. 

That memory flooded my brain as I felt my body moving inescapably backward. 

“Hold on, Dee! Hold on!” Gino’s words streamed past me. I tried to lurch my body forward. Tried to resist the force of momentum.

Gino yelled; Ruby heard him. Both slowed down. And I? I rejoiced that I hadn’t taken a ride on the air as I’d done in Stillwater in ‘77. All was well.

And . . . I’d had a memorable motorcycle ride.


Monday, October 3, 2022

Belated Responses to Comments on 9-17-22 Posting

 Hello All,

Once again, I’m responding in a post to the comments you left for my September  17th posting about Elisa—the young woman who has become family to me—and the gallbladder operation scheduled for her.


 In my posting, I indicated that the doctors had found cancer in her gallbladder. 


Fortunately, that was incorrect. The surgeon in her hometown hospital recognized that she’d been having pain from the gallbladder for several years. The pain had nothing to do with cancer. 


Unfortunately, since November 2015—at a time when I’d been visiting and Mike (her husband) and I had rushed her to Emergency at the nearby hospital, she’d tried to tell the doctors about the persistent pain she’d been having, but they dismissed it as simply back pain “that everyone has as they age.” 


With that information in mind, here are my responses to your comments:


Cynthia’s comment: As I also keep up with her on Facebook and her blog, I think she has had the surgery by now, or it is imminent. At any rate she is encircled with my loving thoughts, with light, with wishes and hopes for healing.

Dee’s Response: Dear Cynthia, You’re right. Elisa had her gallbladder operation last Tuesday (September 27) and all went well. The surgeon recommended that she rest for a week—really rest—and not work. She edits for a company in Idaho. Her work is done at home and the staff—from near and far—do a zoom meeting each day. Peace.


Molly’s Comment: Elisa sounds like an amazingly strong young woman. I hope things work out for her and that all will indeed be well. (finally sorted my sign in problems and can comment again!}

Dee’s Response: Dear Molly, she is all you’ve said, and things are working out. NOW . . . will you please, please, please share with me how you worked out the Google sign-in problem!!!!! The solution eludes me. I’m unable to leave comments on Bea’s, Inger’s, Cynthia’s, Joanne N’s, or Susan’s blog. I’d so like to be able 1) to leave comments on the blogs I follow—albeit sporadically!—and 2) to respond to comments on this blog. Please clue me in! Peace. 


Inger’s Comment: And Elisa has been supporting me and giving me strength after my cancer diagnosis. Not a word about this. I will write her, for sure. I will read her blog first, then write. Thanks for this. Let's talk soon.

Dee’s Response: Dear Inger, that sounds like her! I know she is concerned about your cancer diagnosis. I so hope all is going well for you. Will you be doing chemo or radiation? And when does the treatment begin OR has it already started? Your blog readers I’m sure are responding with their prayers and thoughts and good wishes. You mean so much to so many people. Take care. Peace. 


DJan’s Comment: I also included her by name in my morning prayers and will continue to do so. Sending her and you both my sincere love and hope for healing.

Dee’s Response: Thank you, DJan. The hope for healing—expressed also on Elisa’s Facebook postings by many readers—expresses so beautifully a quiet, sincere, and tender belief in the power of prayer and of community. 


Rian’s Comment: I keep Elisa and you, Dee, in my prayers always. There is a prayer I like that says, "May the Light of God surround me, the love of God enfold me, the power of God protect me, and the presence of God watch over me. Wherever I am, God is... and all is well.

Dee’s Response: Dear Rian, thank you today and all days for your prayers. And thank you, also, for sharing the prayer of Light. I’ve written it down and have it by my bedside, here by the computer, and also by my easy chair in the room where I embrace my best thoughts in meditation and musing. I’m adding to it the community—the Oneness—of all of us so that I’m saying, “May the Light of God surround me and the cats and all creation . . .(remaining words and then) . . .  Wherever we are in Oneness, God is . . . and all is well.” I so appreciate your sharing this. Peace. 


Sandi’s Comment: 💙 Sending my love.

Dee’s Response: Dear Sandi, thank you! I so love the blue heart. Somehow it has, for me, more depth than the red, despite the fact that red and purple are my two favorite colors. Blue, for me, has the depth of the Universe. Space beyond the beyond. Peace.  


Jean’s Comment: I'm sorry your friend is suffering, and I will keep her in my thoughts and send healing energy out into the world aimed her way.

Dee’s Response: Dear Jean, I just so appreciate your saying “aimed her way.” The image that brought to my mind was of a comet bound for Elisa and perhaps, meeting along its path someone else who needs your healing energy. And so, that energy, alive in our Oneness, may touch so many on its path to Elisa and within Elisa will touch others as she shares her story and finds the beauty that lies in us all. Peace. 


Joanne’s Comment: Dear Elisa, I pray that through the circle of pain you feel the circle of love and compassion we all have for you. Be with peace.

Dee’s Response: Dear Joanne, I am in awe of your vision of a circle of pain being overlaid or encompassed on enlightened by a circle of love of compassion. What is so true for me is that when you and others leave comments, they plunge me deeper into my firm belief in our Oneness. All of us are in that circle of pain (physical or emotional or intellectual) and also that circle of love and compassion. That is Oneness for me. And sometimes within that circle we are most in need—of love or health or understanding or compassion or relief from the burden of our own misunderstandings or fear or hatred or loneliness. And it seems to me that you are saying that the love and compassion we send out to anyone may reach far beyond to encircle whatever another needs. Given those degrees of separation that have been written about, I’d say that your love and compassion and that of all able to think of others touches people way beyond our realization. Beyond and beyond the boundaries of our own lives. Peace. 


Arkansas Patti’s Comment: I am so sorry that Elisa's cancer is now in her gallbladder and is causing her such pain. I just prayed for her and will continue to do so. May the doctors and God find a way to bring her wellness.

Dee’s Response: Dear Patti, as you probably saw in the introductory paragraphs of this posting, I was wrong—the cancer isn’t in her gallbladder. She has had the pain though for years (since 2015 or even before). Right now, she’s relatively free of pain, but she so needs rest from the past nearly two years of the cancer journey + all the operations + the writing that she’s continued to do (it’s essential for her to write—like breathing!) + the being part of her family’s activities, etc. I continue to encourage her to rest and to say “No” to requests when her body lets her know that rest is necessary. I think, Patti, that I’ve become a “nag!”(Maybe a “hag,” too. Not sure!) Peace. 


Sue’s Comment: Thank you for this powerful, beautiful and heart-rending post. I am sending oceans of good wishes across the seas.

Dee’s Response: Dear Sue, I can just see those good wishes (oceans of them filled with live-giving plankton, sparkles of sunlight, and night-time mysteries) fluttering like butterflies over the seas to Elisa. Better yet, I can see them as those marvelous colorful Australian birds, photographs of which you share with us on your blog. Your words create images for me that tickle my fancy! Peace.


FINAL NOTE: I’m feeling somewhat giddy with delight over all these comments that reveal just how wonderful all of you are—so concerned with Elisa, so responsive to her story, so generous with your thoughts and prayers. Take care. Be gracious to yourselves.


I hope to post this week on the final part of my vacation in Idaho: The Motorcycle Ride! 



PS: I don't know what explains the white behind the lines. You know, one of these days maybe I'll enter the 21st century and become tech-savvy! But don't count on it! Peace.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Coming to You in Oneness

Hello All of you who are regular readers of this blog and its sporadic postings. It’s late on Friday evening, but I just spent a wee bit of time looking at Facebook and realized I needed to share with you some news about Elisa, the young woman who has become like a granddaughter to me and who has Stage 4 melanoma of the bone.

The most recent news about the melanoma has been that the only tumor left was at the original site on her lumbar spine. All her Facebook friends and her family got this news a few days ago.

However, tonight I saw on Facebook some concerning news about the cancer. 

First, let me explain that Elisa and I text one another nearly every day, wishing one another a good day and sending bushels and heaps of love. About every ten to fourteen days, we talk on the phone. I wait for  her to call because I never want to interrupt her naps. Resting, as we all know, is necessary for healing.

When we  talk, she brings me up to date on what is happening. However, we haven’t spoken for several days. Her text greetings have been as upbeat as usual and when pain or concern was mentioned, I missed the implications.

Thus, I was not aware of the intensity of the pain she’s been feeling for nearly two months. It must have been Tuesday night that her husband rushed her to the ER because the pain had become unbearable (my word, not hers). 

The ER discovery was that the cancer had attacked her gallbladder: the reason for her two months of intense pain. The next day, she drove down to Salt Lake City for her monthly scans and her infusion (immunotherapy). The doctors there confirmed that she needed to have her gallbladder removed.

However, because the meds for the cancer and for the tests and operation conflicted and also because the operation is “iffy” given the cancer, there has been much stress finding a way forward.

In her Facebook posting, which I read this evening, she spoke about “crying” and “sobbing” and simply feeling unequal to the test that was necessary today. She is, as many are, claustrophobic, and the test simply overwhelmed her senses and exacerbated her fears. 

She is so tired.

And so, I come to you again, to ask that in the Oneness that unites us all you will hold her and her life dear. 

That as you hike, weave, write, feed the cats, go for walks with the dogs, watch a favorite television show, explore the wonder of our world, rest within your own thoughts, or deal with your own health concerns (and I know that several of you are in the midst of your own cancer journey), you will at some moment hold her in Oneness.

That you will trust, as Julian of Norwich did during the Black Plague all those centuries ago, that “All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well."

We have no control over much of anything—or so I believe—except for the way we respond to life: its hollows and hills, trauma and triumph, heartaches and happiness.

Moreover, none of us truly knows—despite our deepest fears or our abiding faith—what well means in Julian’s prayer . . . or in our own. The question is always, “In this situation, what is the best that might happen for all concerned?”

For myself, I simply trust that whatever happens will be for the good of the Universe and the people involved. A basic tenet of the way I live my life is that out of everything comes good. Always, there is good—maybe not immediately, but in the long run of the days, weeks, months, years that form the span of our lives. 

Still, I want to hold Elisa—and all those who are going through dark days—in Oneness for we are all, truly, One. We all unite in that which makes us most human—the desire to reach out and hold the hand of another with love, compassion, mercy, gentleness, and acceptance in our hearts. 

Thank you.


The three photographs are from Wikipedia.