Monday, April 30, 2007

Avast, Me Hearties

Back in my kayaking days two very good friends of mine, Susan and Kathy, were often my companions on the rivers and ponds of Vermont. The Williams River was a good choice for twists, turns and mild rapids, the Connecticut was chosen for day long trips with many stops for cheese, crackers, sweet summer fruit, water and the occasional beer. We often managed ten miles or more, paddling downriver on slow, lazy currants, pleasant conversation and laughter mingling with the splash of paddles and birdsong.

From the day I first launched my boat into green waters I swore that I was going to make and attach a pirate flag to my kayak and jokes were made about pillaging and plunder as we paddled our way through the warm, fragrant summers. Every spring I'd swear that that year would be the one when my promised flag would appear, but I never did get around to it.

And then, this last weekend, Susan and her husband came down for a visit on their return from a weeks vacation on an island off the coast of Florida (shared with Kathy and her husband) with a very unusual gift. A pirate flag! She and Kathy had come across it while shopping and could not resist. It will adorn both my power chair and wheelchair at every outing, warning all who pass that I am a force to be reckoned with.

Shiver me timbers! Aarrrr!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dabbling and Work

I enjoy working and have worked most of my life, admittedly not liking all jobs. Having left college after one year to marry a bad boy by way of running away from home (oy) my career as an artist was put on hold. The subsequent birth of my first daughter 14 months later and the birth of my second daughter 14 months after that, made up for the the bad boy but kept me too busy to concentrate on art.

In time, after said boy had had a few girlfriends, I smartened up and sent him packing. I was now alone with two small girls, no skills (art seldom pays the bills) and little knowledge of how to survive. Sans a career, I took on jobs and did everything from babysitting, to working key punch, to helping run a stable, to retail sales, to wood working, to...well, you get the idea.

To make ends meet I painted the occasional mural, sold the occasional painting, made signs and cut hair. Life moved on, jobs came and went and my beautiful daughters grew up to be amazing women.

Work still took up much of my life but I now had time to focus on the work I loved most, my art. My career began to take shape as my artwork was accepted in shows and I was commissioned for paintings and drawings. It was a quiet career but enormously satisfying since I am happiest and most fulfilled when I am creating.

With the onset of ALS everything changed and I was terribly lost. The obvious aside, I was devastated by what seemed to be the loss of my ability to express my artistic visions. My mind, filled with images, color, light and emotion with no way to express all I saw and felt, refused to accept this finality.

I had been trying to learn to use the computer as a new tool and aid and realized that I would now have to rely, totally, on this daunting technology (I am fairly new to the world of computers) if I wished to continue with my art. I have a lot to learn still, but am pleased with the results up to this point and am very happy that my "mind trips" were not forever silenced.

My dearest friend, Lolly, a fine artist in her own right, suggested that I take my computer dabbling and start a line of greeting cards. With her help with cutting and assembling, I am going to use my computer art to do just that. It will feel good to get back to work, giving my days direction and purpose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The shootings at Virginia Tech have, as all the school massacres that have come before, shocked and saddened us all. It is difficult to understand such a tragedy in a civilized society. Our world is changing and although I realize that many of those changes are of a positive nature, there is a decided breakdown in morality and a lack of responsibility for one's actions.

On the streets and in our homes, manners, respect and civility are on the decline. Violence, however, is on the incline from the media to life, desensitizing our youth to its consequences and we are paying a high price. From the young girl who called my daughter an effing bitch when she glanced in the girl's direction to teens beating one another and placing a video of the attack on YouTube, to murder.

I posted a poem on this emotional subject some time ago.I am posting it again in honor of souls lost and with hope for a better future for our children.

When I look back I remember the day
When children preferred to go out to play

We ran through fields and climbed up trees
Tumbling, rolling and scraping knees

Home for dinner, our family as one
Back out until dark, deep shadows were fun

No computer games, we explored outside
And bikes, not cars, were the way to ride

No fear of strangers, it was safe out there
We hollered and laughed without a care

No locked down schools, no people to dread
A wild night meant sneaking out after bed

Free expression back then was creative and fun
Not a kid full of rage at the end of a gun

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I ride the rolling waves
Out on deep, blue water
Muscles taught with effort
At one with the sea

Foam splashes on burnt skin
Sweet sting of salt
The power of nature, the beauty
Surround me

Warm sand turned gold
In the setting sun
A textured caress on my body
Life fills me

I am alone on my beach
The incoming tide
Teases my boat, waves hissing
As they pull back

I belong here, breathing, drawing in
The rich aroma of sea air
Listening to the call of gulls
They bid my return

Friday, April 13, 2007


You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
The darkness that comes with every infinite fall
And the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
And are raised to the rank of prince
By the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
That do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
As they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
To dive into your increasing depths
Where life calmly gives out its own secret.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

White Easter

The following pictures were created from photos I took in the early morning hours after a recent spring snow storm. I snapped them while the blue cast of new light on snow still lingered in the air and drew me to my windows. Welcome to April in the mountains.

The snow has fallen from the trees but the cold lingers and the ground remains white. Warm days elude us and the sun continues to hide behind stubborn clouds. But as my family gathers for our Easter celebration we will revel in the warmth of love, ever thankful for one another.
Happy Easter to those who celebrate, peace and love to all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

On Diet

I have read so many blogs about diet and how it affects our lives that I feel the need to write about what I have learned, first hand, and hope that this knowledge might help someone else.
We have become a society of fast food junkies. Whether we buy it at a take out establishment or in boxes and jars at the super market, we are still depriving ourselves of what we need and eating junk and poison. The worst of it is, the junk is cheap while the good, nutritious foods can be expensive, further encouraging us to mistreat our bodies.
Although I was never the worst offender, I had my moments. That all changed in my 48th year when I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. I started young. At the same time, I was also diagnosed with Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that usually only affects the eyes if the immune system is intact. Without a good immune defence, it can wreak havoc. Facing potential blindness, I did a lot of research and discovered that a diet rich in antioxidants could be a strong weapon against that end. Yup, those fruits and veggies.
So I started eating my five servings a day and then some, plus a few supplements. For a time my eyesight continued to deteriorate, but then something exciting happened. It stopped. Now, at almost 65, I see much better than was expected and the vision in my right eye has actually improved a little.
To take this even further, when I was diagnosed with ALS two years ago (symptomatic, three years) I extended my research. This time around I learned about the debilitating effects of chemical additives. When I really started to pay attention to what was in our food and water, I changed my diet once again. Eliminating as many of the preservatives, hormones, heavy metals and dyes as possible and increasing my antioxidant supplements has clearly made a difference. Once again, I am fairing better than was expected.
Not only am I doing better, but it is easier to control the depression that is part of having ALS without having to rely on any drugs, which have their place, but can also be toxic. The old adage "you are what you eat" is closer to the truth than many realize. Attitude is a huge part of how we do and our attitudes need veggies, too.
Good health to all.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Night Sounds and Miracles

Two years ago this coming May, feeling out of alignment and not yet knowing what had been causing my various health problems, I decided on a sabbatical at camp. A week alone on the mountain, out in the woods commiserating with nature, was just what I needed.
In spite of the fact that it rained most of the week, I had a wonderful time. Walks in the woods, good books to read, music and a visit or two from friends, filled my days. At night, with a low fire to keep the damp at bay and my rocking chair pulled up close to the wood stove, I listened to the rhythm of rain on the roof. All was peace...except for one, frightening night.
This particular night, in addition to the rain, the wind howled as thunderstorms marched up the valley. Unconcerned, I fell asleep, only to be awaken by a terrible, resonating crash at two in the morning. I bolted out of bed, grabbed my flashlight and opened the door... to leaves and branches! Not wishing to wander about investigating in the dark of night with trees being blown down, I went back to bed. Sleep, however, eluded me.
In the morning I was greeted with an unbelievable sight. The large maple that had stood next to the cabana and fire pit had snapped at its base and now covered the better part of our yard. My car, our young, thriving beechnut trees, a stone marker and the sundial, all lost in leaves, had, miraculously, been spared. Camp was intact, as was the cabana which stood a mere twelve inches from the fallen trunk.
It took two hours with a hand saw to clear around camp and my car, but I had to wait for my husband to come with his chainsaw before the car could be moved. It amazes me still that no damage was done save the divots and gouges in the lawn.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cracking Eggs

Emily, our youngest granddaughter, is eight and big sister to her younger brother Ryan, who is 2 1/2. She's a terrific sister and spends much of her time at home playing with her brother and helping to keep him out of harms way.
She has many interests but her main claim to fame is that she is a wonderful cook. She cooks for her family quite often, everything from spaghetti and sauce with salad, to muffins. She tells me she'd like to be a professional chef when she grows up, and given her early capabilities, I believe it.
And she is the best egg cracker I have ever seen. In all the years I have been cooking and baking, I have never mastered the art of cracking an egg without mishap. Either egg runs down the outside of the bowel or egg shell has to be removed from the inside. Not our Emily, it's a clean, crisp break every time.
Emily, this one's for you.