Friday, January 29, 2010

Brenda's Photo Challenge! ~ The Best of 2009

In order to tell the photo tale of 'the best of 2009' I had to bring forward a photo from 2008.  This past year has  been one interesting journey.  A journey filled with sorrow, mysteries and joy.  A quick glance over my shoulder reminds me that I left freezing winters and deep snow.  I learned that I could not only tolerate the isolation of the deep woods but thrive there no matter how cold the day was and that at 60 I could stack cords of wood, clean chimney's, rake many feet of snow off the roof of the house and other odd jobs that are required when one lives by oneself in the woods of New England.
I spent part of 2009 in the Central Valley of California. It was stunningly hot and dry.  I had to work hard to find the beauty in the heat of that arid place but grew to love the sights and sounds of the agricultural center of that State.  Spring was a particular delight, though short lived, she turns the normally brown hill sides into a patch work of floral color.
Now I live in Puget Sound and love the sounds and sights of this wonderful place: fog horns, the splatter of heavy winter rain, the scream of eagles hunting for their breakfast. 
Life is amazing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting out of my own way.....

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way.  Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." 
                                                       ~Fr. Alfred D'Souza

Choosing to see the mystery or the obstacle~ every now then I have to remind myself not to be so heavy, cynical and overly serious: attempting to keep my eyes wide open in order to avoid becoming my own personal obstacle course.  All this attempting to  witness the magic of it all and stay in the NOW ~  is a piece of hard work!!  

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blogger's Block ~ Listening to the Sirens


“Sweet coupled airs we sing
No lonely seafarer
Holds clear of entering
Our Green mirror”
~ Homer, Book 12, 173 - 173

I have been here, in this place – a state of being and mind, for almost six months.  Is there really nothing to write about this day, or the day before or the day before that?  It is doubtful.   Spring hints at being on the way.  It continues to rain, although not with the persistent ferocity of a few weeks ago.  The day stays light until 5 PM.  All this is a joy, but not enough to write about today.  The peace of this mild winter has become a Siren’s Song for me.   I’m stuck.  The terror of the blank page has me in its grip - it is easier to moan about not writing than to struggle against the sweet sound of the Siren Inertia.  Fortunately I do not depend of writing for a living.  But, I do depend on writing as a point of connection and for being a kind of sand painting that helps me sort through the business Life tosses in my path or that of others within my sensory range.  So today, lashed to the mast (in this case my key board to serve as mast) with Odysseus I listen and write.  Why? Because like Odysseus, I can listen and write...I think I can, that is.

Hand Forged Paorosa Zatoichi Full Tang Stick Sword #710

There is so much to ponder that it has become difficult to sort through.  First I am homesick for New England, even though I hate shoveling snow, cannot afford the overwhelming cost of home heating fuel, have developed a morbid fear of falling on ice and adore the green rich environment of the Northwest…I miss the intellectual and creative air of the East Coast.  I miss friends, familiar roads and even a New England turn of phrase.  Then, I am consumed with thoughts about elder health care in today’s heavy handed regulatory environment, even as we as a nation struggle with how to get and pay for health care to more people.  Haiti weighs on my mind.  What is next there?  When does hurricane season begin?  How will people be sheltered?  How much orthopedic (related to thousand of crush injuries) help will come their way in the months ahead?  What happens when 1000s of people need amputations and prosthetic appliances?  Who will do the rehab?  Will we send aid for that?  The orphans, who will care for them?  Orphaned elders and infants alike have the potential of becoming a grim source of political wrangling and statistical data gathering and still not receive the aid and comfort they need.  It was a problem before the earth quake and it will be worse as the media scrutiny dwindles.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Heart Break of Haiti

Over the decades I have been honored to work with many people from Haiti and lucky for me, count many as friends.  The tragic earthquake that struck that country is heart breaking.  Every nurse and nursing assistant that crossed my path had family still there.  These hard working women raised families, held down multiple jobs and attended college courses while they worked to integrate themselves into life in the States.  They also sent home money to support loved ones still in the extreme poverty of the island nation.  It is difficult to hear their anguish as I check in from person to person to see if they have heard from loved ones yet.  I hope all of the folks in the blogosphere will consider a donation to the Red Cross or other trust worthy group as those teams mobilize to get food, water, shelter and medical care to those who so desperately need it there. Check out these links: Two other good orgs:

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Nurse as Darth Vader

Every time we speak she has a horror story to share about yet another incompetent nurse who has crossed her path.  I dread these encounters. When the conversation heads down this particular path I want to start breathing like the Dark Lord himself …’yes, the nurse as Darth Vader, card carrying member of the Dark Side, ready to do harm at any moment of an 8, 10, 12 or 16 hour shift!’.  It is an impossibly immature response and I do not give in to it but I WANT to do so!  Not because I believe that there is 'no such thing as an incompetent nurse' but because I know there is a mix in each professional group: exceptional, average, and yes, poor to incompetent ~ nurses, doctors, pharmacists etc...  Long Term Care is a particular struggle.  Long Term Care manages in part because most of the personal care (which is most of the hard physical work) is done by nursing assistants and nurses are relegated  passing meds, doing some treatment and documenting care.  Those nurses have patient loads of 20 to 30 patients (double and triple that of their acute care counter parts) and manage the nursing assistants as well as the patients, their families and medical staff.  Many, if not most, of the nurses are LPNs.  Most would say that staff management is not a large part of the curriculum for LPN’s (nor is it for many RNs for that matter).  So, I ask, is anyone out there ready to pay more for the care of elders, more for on-going staff development? Are stock-holders ready to give up investment money for the same thing?  My gut tells me the answer is a resounding “NO”. In the mean time, 1000's of nurses will do the best they can given the limitations of time, money and resourses to fulfill their duties.

If she is right about the lack of competency ~ the next time you visit a loved one in a nursing home…watch out for weird breathing coming from the nurse!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Name of Rain

Saturday is my official day of rest.  I honor it and I listen to it.  Listen because this is the Northwest and in winter one can listen to the weather of the day while the sun is napping (which it does for about 16 hours a day).  This Saturday morning it is Raining.  It is winter in the Northwest, of course it is Raining.  It will be dark for another 40 minutes so listening is what I do.  It is a mild swooshing sound.  The rain on this day is not yet up to splattering.  I just read Greg Blanchette’s 2005 article “365 Names of Rain”.  There may be more names but Greg is off to the right start: Magical Rain and Mystical Rain weren’t included in his list.  Scouring Rain was missing as well. Light Fog Rain that Freezes to Black Ice in Winter needs to be there as does Eerie Rain.  We know rain in the Northwest.  Much of this land must have been like the Northwest at some time in our Earths long history.  It should be experienced by everyone at least once.  I’m sure that the constant rain drives people away.  The air is wet and the sky often dark.  Still, the rain here feels like life to me (Life Rain just added to the list).  One has to work for dry dehydrated skin living on the Sound.  Motorcyclist and people on bikes, boat people and walkers all have to learn to adapt and they do.  Learning to drive in 365+ different kinds of Rain is a challenge but it can be done.  Better All the Time Rain than No Rain.  I did No Rain in the Central Valley.  I know the face of drought.  A Plethora of Rain Drops is preferable to No Rain.  Hard Driving Rain is also vastly preferable to SNOW. Did 42+ years of SNOW in New England I never have to shovel rain.  Okay, I will admit that I would live in New England again if someone else would shovel snow for me as that is not likely, the Northwest is it…for now.

Did you know that they make Rain Coats for cameras?  I’m waiting for one to arrive in the mail.  When we have Hard Driving Rain all photographing must be done from inside the car.  The Camera Rain Coat should change that.  I dry off but my Cannon has mechanical parts that need some protection.  I’m off to explore more state parks tomorrow.  Sunday is supposed to be a day of Showers.  Today it is time to read a book that is not work related, catch-up with dog care, reclaim the house once again, and sort mounds of unread newspaper ~ reclaim life day. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back in the to speak

The kinks of a injured knee seem to have abated enough to get out and explore the world again. Surgery needs to happen eventually but for now I am thrilled to have camera in hand and a free week end to see more of this part of the world.   Have been learning about water fowl of Puget Sound.  It has been raining but the temperature is solidly in the 40's.  Finally I understand the Northwest passion for coffee.  Life goes on, rain or no rain, but it is much easier to be happy about being out in the weather with a hot latte or cappuccino in your hand while exploring this magnificent part of the States!  Hopefully tomorrow will present an opportunity to explore more coast line.  Spoke to a retired man today who gives some time each week to pick-up trash and glass off the little beaches here and there.  It washes in from the cities on the tides.  A good soul.  He could name numerous water fowl...I'm taking my bird book with me tomorrow and a bag to pick up trash.  Nice to be reminded that even small energy efforts can make a difference