Monday, August 18, 2014

My family and reading or why I love to read.


Reading is a cherished memory of my family and so for me reading is a continuation of the family ties that I selected to keep.  I love reading and as far back as I can remember I read something.  My grandmother read mysteries mostly or what she termed "whodunits".  Her favorites were Perry Mason mysteries which she read over and over.  She told me it didn't matter how many times you read a book if you enjoyed and with mysteries you always knew that someone got murdered and someone did it.  Perry never lost a case and she really thought Della Street was the modern woman. 
My dad read the Bible every day - one section from the Old Testament and one section from the New.  He'd read it straight through and start over.  The other book he read everyday was the Prophecies of Nostradamus.  He really believed in it.  Years later I found a reprint of the edition he used to own and I bought a copy but I couldn't get into it. 

But really it was my Mother who encouraged me to read because she was the person who pretty much in charge of what I read.  I was lucky - she never censored my choices.  If the public library had it - then I could check it out.  After she got up and packed my dad's lunch and sent him on his way, she would stand over the floor heater in the living room and read from whatever book I had checked out.  My favorites were family stories, particularly Jewish families or orphan children who live in boxcars.  When I would get up, she'd be reading and would always ask what I thought about the book, What I liked about it.  She asked my opinion and we'd talk about it.  She never said anything to lead me to think my opinion was bad or my reading choices were incorrect.  She encouraged me to read and think about what I read without ever telling me not to read something.  As I grew up, I realized a gift she had given me.

The older I've become the more grateful I was given this gift.  The first object I ever saved up and bought for myself was a book on California wildflowers bought from a used book store.  I still own the book and look at it from time to time.  I still own a book my grandmother gave me for my birthday.  It was a thick adult book on animals.  I treasure these more than anything but I treasure the love of reading my family gave me more.

Monday, August 4, 2014

An old friend

 
 
 
  Reluctant to sound self-pitying or courageous made it difficult for me to write any earlier but guilt propelled into thinking of something a little positive.   This photo of Kwan Yin the goddess of Mercy is from an earlier time but one I truly love.    The statue itself stands on the grounds of the Elizabeth McNay museum in San Antonio, Texas.  http://www.mcnayart.org/index.php   I love that museum moreso in the past when they had less money and  was a smaller shabbier museum.  It isn't to say that I resent them growing I'm happy they do and they share wonderful art. When I first started visiting it, the museum was a shabby little forgotten gem.  Filled with Impressionist paintings and religious sculptures from the Middles Ages and New Mexico.   It was a refuge for me when I was a teenager trying to make the difficult transition from unwanted child from California to adult.  When I was in high school and was living with my aunt I would often escape from home by walking up to the museum.  It was about 4 miles away.  I would spent at least a half a day there when I went.  Walking to a nearby strip mall for an ice cream while I waited for a bus that would take me halfway home. 

I've seen glorious things there - a wonderful exhibit on Georgia O'Keefe that still leaves me with wonderful memories.  It was the grounds though that really gave my spirit some peace.  At that time, the McNay was overgrown and had no grounds keeping.  The Japanese fish ponds were neglected, overgrown with reeds and tall water plants and the surrounding area was full of shaggy plant and Kwan Yin was in the middle of them.  I think I truly loved the grounds more than anything.  In the rear of the McNay was the old greenhouse which housed the Art School there.  My friend Art worked in the pottery as well as took classes and I got to see how salt glazing and raku were fired.

I took this photo on a more recent trip than from my youth.  I am much older now but I greeted the statue as an old friend.  She's more grey than she used to be - Living in the middle of a large city has given her a more worn appearance as well.  I find the ponds cleaner - less over grown and shaggy.  There were less fish than there used to be.  One of the fountains is gone but more modern sculptures occupy the lawns.  Indeed there is a whole new wing that doesn't fit the original building.  It houses great art still... leaning to the late 20th and now early 21st. 

Kwan Yin is an old friend I enjoy going to see.  Sitting an reflecting the days with her - the days that used to be.  Somewhere I have a photo of her with me when I was in my late 20's.  She wears her age better than I do.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring!

I love spring even though it's generally short here in central Texas.  The year we've had warm days followed by a two day cold freeze, followed by two lovely days in the '80's followed by sleet and ice.  So you never know what to expect.  But today I saw my first bluebonnet blooming by the highway and it is the first day of spring which I am taking as a lucky sign.

I haven't had a chance to take a photo of this years bluebonnets but have some from last year almost on the same date.  It's paired with antelope horn milkweed, one of my favorite wildflowers.   I will pot some of this years when I get them.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cancer

It took me awhile to write this.  Not necessarily because I think people will read it.  I have a small following but it was the act of admitting it in public. In November, my oncologist had decided I had cancer - advanced endometrial cancer and we began a series of explorations into how severe it was.  I went through the gambit of CT-scans, MRI's and a biopsy.  It was a terrible learning situation.  I came out with a healthy respect for the medical practitioners who work with people in the cancer field.  They are to a letter (for me) kind, sympathetic, compassionate people who chose this field because they love people.  I have never met anyone yet who is in Cancer work for the money. It was a worrisome time.  I felt fairly bad since I had extremely large fibroids that were preventing several of my organs from functioning well.  Originally I was going to start with a hysterectomy but it appears now that that will occur later.  For now I started Chemo therapy.

My best friend had had cancer and I helped him through chemo.... driving up from Austin to Dallas once a month to spend 4 or 5 days with him.  I'd clean his house, make him  meals to reheat, take him to chemo or the store.  It taught me to respect how brave he was - and how much he went through to hopefully become healthy.  He is and is over 4 years in remission (it might be five).  I love him to pieces and now it's his turn to help me.  I have my wonderful fellow who has cheerfully done as much as could for me - sometimes more than I want him to but there you go.  You learn to rely on others in order to help yourself and I've been an independent proud person who has been reluctant to accept help.

Cancer is hard.  There are days when I am sick and cannot feel positive about getting through this.  I am poisoning my body to kill cells gone wacky.  I am purposely making myself die to live.  What a strange thought.  Cancer is hard because it spreads, it's not picky what it attacks or attaches itself to any organ or body part.  You wake up one morning fine and twenty minutes later feel like you cannot move and inch because you are so tired. Your hair falls out and you feel ugly or you get a red scratchy rash over your entire body.  And the nausea is always lurking in the background somewhere

And yet through this time, I am also getting rewards.  I am touched by the people who care enough to keep track of me, to say hi and send me hellos.  The neighbor down the street who caters and brings me leftover food from his catering jobs.  The friend in Oklahoma who sends me hellos and hugs over the Internet to cheer me up.  The friend I hadn't seen in over 2 years who now comes by and sits with me to watch television and be normal.  I get rewards in seeing the sun light outside or enjoying the winter air and how crisp it is or how a total stranger will smile and say hi or hold the door open for me. 

I also have come to appreciate the fact that I love myself enough to put myself through this... to make myself so sick that I can get better.  That I try to make all the health professionals happy to see me and give them sometime to smile about even if it's just me being silly.  That I appreciate the people in my life even the ones I'm not so crazy about because they encourage me to grow. That to be healthy is to be strong and to be strong is to cherish yourself.  Sounds trivial but it's important. 

I guess this has made me realize that my resolution for the New Year is just one wish.  To be more mindful of my life and to see something positive out of every situation.  I think I'm up to the challenge. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Health

It's funny -- since I retired I decided to work on my health matters - like avoiding the doctor and the dentist.  It's been a way of life for me.  When I was young I didn't go to the doctor.  I think I went once or twice...I remember going and getting my temperature checked and having been told I had chicken pox.  At five, I had my tonsils out at the City of Angels Hospital but not much else.  I think the medical stuff went to deal with my mom's cancer.  I certainly remember going and getting polio vaccinations by going to the school and getting a sugar cube with the vaccine on it.  When I moved to Texas I remember going once to the doctor's for my first and only physical.  So I didn't have a large background in going to see the doctor. 

As an adult I never had health insurance nor enough money to warrant going to the doctor regularly.  I did go to the free clinic for birth control pills in the '70's but even that was erratic because of money.  With very few problems I was healthy and never really missed going.  We had a friend who had been a surgeon until she had a stroke who saw to our limited needs.  She and her best friend, and EMS tech managed to solve any problem when they occurred.

 once I had insurance and after a few bad doctors (one yelled at me and told me I was going to die because I had an infection I had come in for treatment) I just stayed away from them.  Everyone tried kindly to encourage me but things would happen.  A friend would develop cancer and I helped with his chemo; my boyfriend developed a heart condition and I spent a lot of time being in the hospital with him and them helping him drive.  I did fix my bad leg but in doing so drove a few close friends absolutely nuts because of my high level anxiety.

So retiring meant it was time to deal with it all.   I found a regular GP who I really like and she sent me to the gynecologist.  It was this doctor who started me thinking when she asked me why I hadn't been doing things for my health.  Of course I said I didn't grow up with it, didn't have the money, etc.  Later that night though I realized it's not quite the truth.  The truth is somewhere in growing up, I had been taught that I just wasn't worth it - keeping track of my health.  Other people were more important. I wasn't of value so therefore it didn't matter.  It was more important to take care of others than me. 

It was an upsetting thought and one I'm still dealing with... I mean how did I learn this pattern of thinking about myself?  Do other women think the same way?  In talking to several female friends about their health several of them said the same thing or similar things that make me think somehow they got that message....you aren't good enough. 

Women are put in caring roles often to care about others until they are too sick to take care of themselves.  I remember movies and stories about the mother who sacrifices herself through some great sickness to nurse her family.  Of midwives who went out in the cold and rain to care for others only to fall sick themselves.  Put this tradition of the caring mother with low self esteem or low self worth and it seems to be a natural condition.  It definitely is something I am thinking more about as I deal with my health issues.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring along the roads.

I haven't been posting much - mainly because I have reached a dreadfully dry period where I want to do nothing but sit in my house dress and play video games.  Horrible.  this past weekend we did drive to San Antonio and we take back roads to escape the I-35 corridor which is pretty dreadful. 

To stretch my leg we take tiny breaks, here and there - often parked in some ranchers drive way or a small dirt road that gets little traffic.  We see lots of things.  This trip we saw a pair of Mexican eagles wheeling in the sky, deer feeding in some of the rocky fields and construction to widen a road. We also found some antelope horn milkweed or Asclepias aserula .  You can read about it here... http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ASAS   It's also called spider milkweed but I prefer the name Antelope Horn

 
 
Texas has an amazing assortment of milkweeds and other wildflowers.  Our bluebonnets are doing okay this year despite the shortage of rain and cool weather.

 
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Views from the Back Yard

As shaggy and overgrown as it is I truly love my back yard.  This autumn I sat out with my camera and snapped photos of various things you can find around it. 
There is always a lot to see in the yard, A lot of plants that seem to have taken over the area with no regard to our wishes.  The chinese tallow tree was a kind addition - seeds dropped by the birds.  We now have several.
Bottles left from an infinished garden product that I haven't been able to work on since my leg got so bad.   The bottles seem to have multiplied on their own.
 
And I was blessed with an image of two woodpeckers sharing the same tree.