Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rightsizing Your Life

Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters by Ciji Ware is a wonderful book that I read while in the car to and from Kentucky.

I met Ciji in Sausalito last spring, while escaping the troubles of New York and the torture of watching my daughter suffer from chemotherapy and radiation. My world had come tumbling down - again - and I needed a change of scenery. California here I come.

Ciji is a close friend of my girlfriend Bardet, and I met her while we were evacuated from the apartments because the house next door was burning down.

A year later, I am wandering through Barnes and Nobles, another great place I escape to when in times of turmoil (I have a funny story sometime to share about that)when Ciji's book screams at me from the shelf.

I have been talking to Larry about the overabundance of "stuff" that we have in the house. We are both collectors and hoarders, (he more so that I) and it is out of control. I joked that the attic ceiling is going to come crashing down on top of me, killing me in bed. Dying in bed is not the worst way to go, but I did not exactly imagine it to be by books and STUFF.

The book is filled with anecdotal stories, time charts, and methods to get rid of the stuff in your house. Whether you intend to move into a different home which is often smaller as we age, or trying to reconfigure your present home, it offers insight, humor, and methods to part us from our goods.

I have started doing it in little bits. Only the other day, I made a big mistake and accidentally threw Larry's toothbrush in the garbage. I thought it was one of the broken electric brushes, and I hear him late at night asking "honey, have you seen my toothbrush?". Oops I say and have to dig it out of the bathroom garbage. I don't think he was too thrilled.

I'll let you know how long it takes for us to feel like we have a handle on things.
It will be a while, but I have started wrapping my head around this concept and welcome the treasure of a less cluttered house when I am done!

Oh, and tonight's photo was taken at the lake I swim at. Looks like THIS snake did not rightsize his meal, looks like he supersized it to me! This water snake had caught a 10" or so fish, dragged it out of the water, and proceeded to try and swallow it while we were there. It did not get very far for the hour that I watched it, but I suspect that it is a slow process---to swallow that much. Thanks nature for that gift - albeit, a rather gross one.

Patti O Cleaner

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Food for Thought

The political blog was a difficult one for me to write the other night, perhaps because I have never been comfortable discussing politics. One has to research and read through tons of information to get the real story and be able to have an intelligent conversation. I need another life time to do that, so most of my life I have tried to know enough to vote for the big players, and muddle through the rest.

I have made an effort to do more homework on the matter, though I still feel very inept having any political debate. I will admit, it is an area I am weak in. But it is my responsibility to get more involved as I slowly carve out time for things that I never did...time for exercise, time for family, time for me, and time for doing my civic and public duties.

Obama's speech did that for me and for so many others---jump started us.

I talked with a lot of other people about this, and they too felt the excitement, the passion, and the inspiration from this young slight man on the podium. I regret not seeing Ted Kennedy speak, but did catch Eisenhower's granddaughter and a host of other intelligent dedicated folks who support Obama.

My friend wrote me the other day, concerned about the political move of McCain picking a woman as VP. He was afraid that it will steal some of Obama's thunder. I replied with a similar reply as quoted by our ex VP Al Gore: "If you like the Bush-Cheney approach, John McCain's your man. If you want change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden".

To me it is a clear cut case of voting for who represents your beliefs, not whether you think "WOW-A FEMALE VP-I WILL GO FOR THAT", or because Hillary lost out so you are going to go for the man who picks the woman, or because you don't want a black man running our country. Though race and gender have played a part in this election (in a positive way) we need to look through that and chose based upon the best for mankind, and not only for the US (which is us in capitals, and very egocentric.)

It is time we listened to our hearts, listened to the politicians, and get smart about what is happening and chose the person who closest meets our beliefs...and make an intelligent decision based upon that. America needs to get smart. It hasn't looked too smart the past 8 years!

Though in my heart I know Obama is MY man, he may not be yours. What I do encourage you to do is go out and vote with an educated mind and decide what you want your country and world to look like, and may the best person win. Encourage all the people you know and come in contact with to vote. That will be my agenda for the 18+ crowd that I work with. In fact, our school is talking about a mock election for kids to vote, to prepare them for one of the most important responsibilities of entering adulthood. Rites of passage are usually being old enough to drink and drive- ---let's add VOTE!

Patti O Patriot - thank you for that one Judy Vars!

PS art work titled FOOD FOR THOUGHT..about genetic engineering of food!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama Party

I am using my laptop tonight as I started to install my new printer/scanner/fax machine this afternoon and my computer is pulled apart. I knew that I was in for a bit of an investment of time, but I needed to have a printer working again, so I bit the bullet and opened the box. It probably took me a half an hour to photograph the box set up (in case I have to repack it), carefully undo all the packing material, and carry a very heavy piece of machinery into the office.

Unfortunately for that project, I had to leave it incomplete as I had a date to go to the local brewery for a party to watch Obama’s Acceptance Speech.

I am still not sure what organization put on the party at Keegan Ale, but rumors of it being supported by Bard and Vassar College were floating around. I Googled it and found several links to the Obama/Biden website.

I joined up with a great group of like minded friends and headed to the brewery. It felt odd to be doing this, as this is the first time in my life I have actually become involved in something like this, and like the crowd, was swept of with a wave of hope and Patriotism while watching the speech. After such a painful 8 years under Bush, he represents a balm for the wounds of this country.

This past year I have realized the importance of being part of the solution, and I cheered as he called Americans into action to do their part to make the changes that are needed. AMEN. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY IN SOMETHING, no matter how small!

Obama has a lot of work to do, correction- WE ALL have a lot of work to do, and I know that it will take a long time to repair the damage - it may reach well beyond his terms. I just hope the people of America give him a chance.

To change,

Patti O Rebel

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the Garden

I got up this morning barely able to walk, my thighs killing me. I wondered what I had done to merit such pain? Then I remembered going to the car wash, and waxing my car in 25 minutes. I was up and down like a monkey on that car, doing lots of crouching, popping up and down. I usually get these muscles exercised when I garden, as I tend to crouch when I weed which really strengthens the thighs. Only I have blown off my garden for a good part of August, like so many other things in my life.

The last week of vacation is NOT the time for me to worry about what I have not done, rather rejoice in the time I have left, and enjoy it no matter what I am doing.

I traveled across the river to show Kip some computer things, and to bring my mom flowers picked from the farmer's fields. Zinnia..lovely bright zinnias.

On the way home I saw a herd of cows laying down in the pond cooling off. I pulled off the road, hopped out to take their photo, but by then the head cow had decided they were cool enough and headed out of the water, with the entire herd following. I got them as the last one was out.

I took some time to sit outside, and did my second round of meditation. The sun was hot, the gardens surrounded me, keeping me hidden from the neighbors- tall grasses on the left, the canna lilies on the right. I felt the strong sun on my bare skin, heard the drone of various insects, experienced the fragrances of the garden, my thoughts buzzing lightly around like honey bees in the lemon balm.

I let my mind wander, being aware of where it landed, and then shifting my thoughts slightly so as not to linger on any one thought too long. Stay in the present, pay attention to the breath.

I probably did about 10 minutes, and a few moments I felt suspended in time, similar to the state I get into when I paint. I sat among the flowers and read my Tolle book, delving deeper and deeper into discovery and change.

After working the rest of the afternoon in the studio, I decided that when Larry got home, a ride w/the top down along the river was in order. A trip to the little town of Tivoli, which was quite busy and crowded with the Bard students back at school.
Dinner and margaritas at Santa Fe, and then home, staring at the stars from the open roof top on the way home.

Larry asked me how I felt, and I answered "splendid". The entire day was splendid, in fact the entire week has been one of beauty and peace in my heart.

If I can only keep this state for a long long time.

Patti O Meditation

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hudson Valley Zen

If you asked me what Buddhism is, I could not tell you much other than that I have a stone Buddha in my garden, and a few other buddhas and Indian goddesses in my house. My husband does yoga every morning, and I have gone back to yoga after a many year hiatus. This time I have gone back with a spiritual motive as well as a physical one and I am becoming addicted to this spiritual/observational/physical exercise.

What has changed my life - and helped me cope with its intensities, is the core Buddhist concept of "Being Here and Now". As quoted by BUZZLE.COM "it is about leaving behind the reality created by the mind, and realizing the world as it is", a concept reiterated by Eckart Tolle.

The past few days I have been diligently practicing being present- in the scenic romantic country drives I take about the county, lunch or dinner with a friend whom I love, working in my studio, working in the garden, going to market to purchase the day's goods, or a visit to my mother to share my adventures.

I have realized the fruitlessness of worrying about what will happen a week from now, or a moment from now, and the uselessness of dredging up the past. And only 50 years to learn this lesson --- but better late than never.

Writing from a very Zen state,

Patti OOO

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Second Time Around

Larry and I had a lovely last day of vacation together yesterday.

We slept in till 9:30-our bodies exhausted from the drive and lack of sleep over the past 10 days. I was graced with my period for the fourth time this summer, having it during each and every one of my vacations. Two of them it was on the drive home, which I suppose isn't so bad, save for the fact that I was in the car both times for HOURS miserably sick.

After getting up, I emptied out one of my kitchen cabinets so that we can paint inside it later today, which included 2 shelves of cookbooks. Larry and I have whittled them down to one shelf now, and I have to find new homes for the ones I put aside. Many are outdated paperbacks, and a few are are vintage hardcover cookbooks. I will give Megan the ones she wants, and post the rest here in case there are any you all would want. (I still have another cabinet with some in it too!)

I called Karen and headed over to her pool for an hour. I found myself deliriously happy to be back home again, alone for a bit on the way to visit a cherished friend, (the only time in 10 days I was alone was in the bathroom) driving with the top down in my EOS, the sun warm but not too hot, the Valley lush with vegetation. After an hour of a swim and chat, I headed back to go to my friend Gina's wedding.

Gina, like me, is on her second marriage. We have often laughed about how we survived our first disasters, which netted us both heartache and two children. Years later, we have both remarried, to good men who appreciate us for the amazing individuals we are, and who HOPEFULLY will NEVER hurt us in any way.

As they said their "I do's" Larry and I looked at one another and murmured ours to one another. I have learned over time to truly appreciate what he brings to my life, and let go of the imperfections as I know he has to do the same for me. As long as we live for the majority of our relationship in joy, then it is all good.

I have 10,000 things to do today, including visit my mom, buy a printer, swim, visit a friend, ship some orders and work in the studio. The garden is out of control too...some weeding is needed.

Enjoy the waning days of summer.....these are the best of days.

Patti O Tripper

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back Home Again

A brief summary:
Number 1: keep those potty blog comments coming. Potty talkers UNITE!
Number 2: Thank you for bearing with ooey gooey family photos. Can't help it. After all, aren't we all works of art in progress?
Number 3: Larry congratulated me on being a great back seat driver(notice he did NOT say front seat) driver. Which meant I was a tough one. No doubt--I have very high driving standards. I told him he drove fabulously 85-95% of the time. It was the othr 5%-15% that made me very nervous. (FYI 10%- the average of 2,000 miles= 200 miles that I had to worry about streaks in MY underwear!)
Number 4: family time is priceless.
Number 5: after almost 5 hours of Oprah and Eckert Tolle podcasts and lengthy discussions Larry summed it up in:
1. Everything changes
2. Everything is connected
3. Pay attention.

I read in my Right Sizing Your Life book (by Ciji Ware)that if you do something 21 times in a row, it will become habit. So with the following words I will leave you:
1. Everything changes
2. Everything is connected
3. Pay attention.

Pattio O Wisdom

PS can't find my digital camera...hmmmmm. Too dark, too tired to care.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Adventures of Pooh

No, it is not an A.A. Milne bedtime story. This is one of the occasions I am going to talk toilet talk, one of the favorite pastimes in my family. In fact, my sister-in-law wishes that one of us had warned her of our Adams Family style way of murmuring jokes and phrases about things that no one wants to hear EVER. And it seems to have passed down to the next generation.

I have spent many hours while here holding my lovely little grandson. I comfort him so well that every time I cradle him, he graces me with long outrageous poo noises and diapers filled with gusto.

My grand daughter has finally learned to poop on the potty. However, we have had some adventures and misadventures while in the mall. It is a long way to the potty when you have to GO NOW. Thankfully the elastic in her underwear is strong. That is because we have had to throw so many out that only the newer ones remain. She has made me laugh when she shows me her undies and proudly proclaims: "Mimi-there are NO streaks in THIS pair!".

I tell her I am glad as they are the pair of Sponge Bob undies that I bought back from Century 21 in NYC. I traveled all the way to NY mind you, bought NOTHING back for myself, save for a package of hard-to-find undies.

Tonight, when we were at the Olive Garden, giving her a surprise 4th birthday party, she kept getting looks of panic on her face and whining, "I have to go potty!". After three times episodes of running through a crowded restaurant (people thinking, my God, that old lady can run!)with a bad smell trailing behind us, she whines "what do you do when it won't come out?!". I shrug and tell her I can relate.

The final time she yells I HAVE TO GO POTTY I tell my table that "I am going to put this in my diary", which gets mis-interpreted by Alanna and she screams: "I DO NOT HAVE DIARRHEA!". At this point I am hysterical, and tell Megan it is HER turn to run to the bathroom. The couple at the table next to us trying to have a romantic dinner appear to be appalled, and I do my best to smile weakly and rock the screaming baby, praying he does not let loose once again.

They come back with a smirk that means "mission accomplished" and I know that we can now get in the car for the 20 minute ride back home.

I will miss all of this when I leave. We have have coined new names for one another such as Pee-pee McGee, Poo Poo Magoo, and Fart Machine (OK that is a little too crass to call your grandmother.)

All's well that ends well.

patti o potty

PS: a few good potty books:
Everyone Poops
The Princess and the Potty
and MY favorite: The Truth About Poop-a fascinating reference book all about poop.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sleepless in Fort Campbell

I had planned on writing this HOURS ago, but when I sat at the computer mid afternoon, in the warm room, I began to nod out. I promptly closed down the computer, and laid down for a while, though I did not sleep.

I have a problem sleeping in strange places, just like I have a problem pooping when I am away from home. My body freaks out and all sorts of havoc can be wrecked. I have gotten much better over time, and the last few vacations I have left my bottle of Ambien and my Magnesium Sleep Aid (also good for keeping the bowels regular) at home. (too much information?!)

Larry and I are sleeping in the downstairs dining room on an inflatable mattress. Each time Larry or I roll over or move, we sort of roll together and the bed bounces. I found that if I sleep really close to him, there is less "roll" to the bed. I like snuggling up to my husband if I am in the mood, but I really like to sleep on "my side" of the bed, especially in the summer. Way too hot!. Though the air conditioner compressor is outside the house, each time the air conditioned fires up, it sounds like a jumbo jet taking off.

Megan lives in E4 housing, which is for the "lower enlisted folks". Many are young and still in the hearty party mode, and I have woken up a few times to the sound of drunken revelry and singing. Many of the people in the apartments have dogs, and I suspect that the MPs have bigger and better things to do then follow up with any noise ordinance, so at any given moment, at least one of the 5 or more are dogs being let out and are barking their heads off.

I thought that we would be awoken by a crying baby, but I have hardly heard little Randall cry. I suspect that I am sleeping as little or as much as Megan, the only difference being that no one is constantly sucking on my breasts, hahaha.

I have two more nights of sleep here and am considering breaking down and taking one of the Ambien I left here from one of my previous visits. I don't need to be nodding out at the computer, or while I am driving in the car. Though I will miss my family here, I am looking forward to hitting that Marriott in Charleston on the way home. That king sized bed felt awfully good last Friday night!

Last photo--I promise of family. I don't have any landscape photos from here as I have not been too inspired by the somewhere depressing landscape of a military base.

Patti O Insomniac

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Bucket List

Last night we watched The Bucket List.

I have it at home, and had been meaning to send it to my mother as she loves both actors in it. I wanted to watch it myself, but due to her illness, I have avoided it, and certainly was NOT going to send it to her.

Last night I was ready - to watch it myself.

As I age, I fear death less, and I am learning that it is more important to be defined by how I live my life than by the suffering I experience.

My 24 year old daughter's cancer was a wake up call for me. Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Live each day to its fullest. Fulfill your dreams. Dream big. Love the one you're with. Decide what is really important-the rest does not matter.

I have already started a bucket list. One of the top things that I could do (I don't have money to do it all YET) was to buy a new fridge and stove (my old ones were falling apart and horrendous), then my convertible. Though I have not gone off to Europe, I managed to drive 3,500 miles this summer reaching from Nova Scotia down to Tennessee, and enjoyed every part of the journey. I am going to write a book. I try and live each and every day with joy and love.

It has required a major shift in thinking at times as I have realized that once upon a time I allowed myself to be defined by all the horrid things that happened to me in my life, rather than the joys.

It is much easier to live in the light than in the darkness.


PS well, all I have is pictures of the kids taken by Larry or myself, so that is what you are getting again, lol.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Feeling Sheepish

I consider myself and my daughter to be fairly intelligent people. But like all great thinkers, we have our own Achilles heel which humbles us, gives us a good laugh, and reinforces that we should not take ourselves too seriously. George Bush is a constant reminder of this, and when I see all the faux pas that the leader of our country makes, I don't feel so stupid.

For example. Last night while eating dinner, we heard a big BOOM and all the lights went out. We ran around finding kids, candles, and lighters. After a while we wandered outside to see how many houses were in the dark, and I gazed into the night sky. "Look Alanna, look how glowing and red the moon is, how strange!" Megan looks at me, and says: "what moon?". I think that they are blind for not seeing it, then Megan says, "Are you looking at the big red ball on the electric lines that are for the planes?". I look again, and feel like a sheepish fool, and check to see how much wine we drank.

Then this morning Megan and I are discussing what to make for today's eats. She says she wants to make Greek pasta salad, and asks me what my intentions are for the small red onion I bought. I state that I need a small piece for potato salad, and she says: "yeah, last time I made the recipe it had far too many onions in it. I am only going to use a half this time, can I use half of the red one?". I ask her how many she put in when she made it. She says: "four small green onions. I went to the store and found four onions that were greenish in color and used them". I laugh hysterically, explaining that green onions are the same as scallions. No wonder her guests thought the salad was a bit intense. Four onions in a pasta salad?!

The funniest story is one that Larry likes to tell people about the time we were in bed listening to music on a hot summer night. Crickets are chirping in the background, the fan humming, bringing in the cooler night air. Suddenly the radio announcer comes on and says:"winter weather advisory for tomorrow, 2-3" of snow expected". I sit bolt upright and yell: "WHAT THE -@#-- is the @#$%^@ weatherman talking about?!" A diatribe of expletives issues forth from my mouth, while Larry is laughing hysterically, rolling on the floor. Indignant, I ask him what his problem is. Choking, he states:"this is a pre-recorded tape from last winter". I suddenly feel very very silly, and have no choice but to laugh my ass off along with him.

IQs well over average, but still we are subject to the pitfalls of misinterpretations and plain old being subject to human error and foolishness.

Patti O Dunce

PS picture of Alanna and I at the playground the other day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

In Kentucky!

I am writing from a king sized bed in a Marriott in Charleston, West Virginia, surrounded by six pillows that prop me up. From the 16th floor I gaze out into a city shrouded in fog. I have sent Larry to get me coffee so that I can sip it in bed while I write. When he returns I watch him rearrange the entire room so that he can do his yoga. I laugh at him, with a twinge of jealousy that he has the drive to do yoga every morning of his life for the past five years. I then congratulate myself that I have been working out several times a week since January, in spite of my various physical challenges.

The Internet is not free here, so I will write and upload it at Megan’s later. I am a bit miffed, as when I have traveled through the Northeast through Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Canada, I always had free wireless at the other hotels I have stayed in. But the giant white bed graced with half a dozen pillows feels delightful, so I forgive them.

Yesterdays 600 miles took me through five states; New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and finally West Virginia. Most of the ride has been through rolling hills, dotted with farms and occasional strip mines along the way. Easy driving traffic for the most part. During the ride we listened to Oprah’s pod casts with Eckert Tolle about his book A New Earth, each one being about an hour or more. I periodically read Larry snippets from my book on “Right Sizing”, something Larry and I need to do in our home as we enter what the book terms “the third (and final) part of our life.

Sometimes I think about what I would take with me if I had to live in a nursing home like my mother. What would be my favorite paintings, movies and books? What would I do? In Right Sizing the author Ciji Ware (whom I met while I was visiting Bardet in Sausalito, CA) has us think about what we want in our lives presently, and in the future. Where would we want to live, what would we want to do? I chuckle to myself and think, what WOULDN’T I want to do? Travel, paint, read, watch movies, exercise, eat out….

Larry and I have a lot of work ahead of us to pare down our slightly obsessive collections of our 50+ years. She gives a fabulous method of choosing the most important possessions, and there will be more about this book at a later date.

The shower and breakfast calls.

Patti O Traveler

PS mom holding her own. Still an intestinal blockage, she is refusing an enema, and any hospitalization. Kidneys are functioning, but not very well. BUT she is watching TV and eating liquids, so for now that may hold her for a bit while I am down here.

PPSS Sunset from my Mariott hotel window in Charleston WV, early morning fog from same window, and a really bizarre castle looking building on the way in Kentucky I believe. A barn for horses? Dunno

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slide Show

I am going to post this slide show on the side of the my blog in the future. It will be a changing show of various work that I do, or that I love. Surrealism, political, humor, landscape, encaustic, and perhaps a bit of erotica thrown in here and there. Nothing to make me have to post one of those "blogger warning adult matter" banners. I am sure doing that alone would up my blog traffic, but a girl wants to be known for more than her erotica you know.

You can click onto the image that you like on the slide show which brings you to the main site, where you can then click again on same photo, then on image again to bring you to a screen where you can view it larger etc. Just play and you will figure it out. It is a great free program, and easy to use. Type into your browser to use it for your My space, blogger, site, etc.

Doing such art things helps center me and give me strength to do the more difficult jobs, and I also make positive things happen to counterbalance life's difficulties.

I am leaving first thing in the morning. My mom is holding steady, she has even shown signs of improvement. I feel like it is now or never. I don't have a huge window of time. I will "live and let God" and allow life sort itself out. My girlfriend is going to stop by a few times to see her, which is a fabulous gift. I had a few good days of being with and comforting her, now it is time to take care of my daughter and family. I will put on my Mary Poppins hat and head out to Blue Grass Country and live life a moment at a time and hang onto my hat while I am on the ride.

Next will be news from the road.

Patti O Racer

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Still in New York

This has been a very difficult decision to make - remaining in New York for a bit longer. Dole leaves Saturday, we won't get to see him before he leaves for a year plus tour in Afghanistan. I won't be there for my daughter who is already fragile and falling apart.

"Such is military life" I want to say to her, when she calls me crying on the phone about how sad it is that her son can't grow up with his father. But I know it isn't the right time for that and I am sure that thought has already crossed her mind many times.

To put things in perspective I told her that technology has enabled her to talk with her husband in the war zone once a week; previous wars left women wondering for years where their men were.

Still, that is of little comfort to her and I do my best to console her and promise that I will get there before school starts. We have some flexibility in time, but as the clock ticks, I feel the crunch and the anxiety of not-knowing.

The only advantage to all of this is that I have lost weight. Who wants to eat with the smell of nursing home etched into your nose hairs, seeing things that shoves our fragility as human beings in our face.

Larry has been very wonderful in all of this, as he has been through this with his mother. I have fallen into his arms sobbing hysterically, and sought solace in his wisdom. Tonight he is going to take me over to see her again, even though I said goodbye to her yesterday, both of us crying.

I ask for a sign.....for what to do, and I wait for it. In between the phone calls and the deep periods of silence that I have elapsed into, I try and take good care of myself. A several mile walk with a friend, forging ahead in getting ready for my art show. I actually got three pieces framed today, have two more frames for some other work, and that seems to lighten the load a bit.

May the suffering end.


The artwork is a digital piece titled "Catskill Spirits"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dickening it

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." Charles Dickens

Monday, August 11, 2008

Into the Bathroom

“Will you come with me” he asked as he sidled himself up next to me as I was walking down the hall. “Where to?” I asked, trying to be funny and nice to this Uncle Fester looking man. “Into the bathroom” he mumbled.

“Oh no, I can’t help you, I don’t know where the bathroom is here” I responded, wondering if he was lost and could not find the bathroom or his room. There are those seniors here who are disoriented or totally gone.

The gentleman followed me into my mother’s room. I gently told him “you can’t use the bathroom here”. “LISTEN” he hissed, “do you want to do it or not?”

That was a dialogue between me and a man in the nursing home. He was a resident, not a worker thankfully, but he threw me totally off guard. I looked at him and said “My mother is sick, you can’t come in here, and NO, I DON’T WANT TO DO IT!”

I was stunned –twisted-shocked.

This occurred right after walking into my mother’s room, seeing her on her side, unable to get up any more, no dignity left, bruised and swollen from the doctors trying to get IV’s into her. She has a fever, and she allowed the doctors to place a naso-gastro tube in her. However, the machine that helps suck out the fluids is broken. They are searching for another. She lies moaning in pain until the nurse comes in to give her some morphine.

The room smells, I have asked them to come and change the bedding.

My mother knows I am here. She gives me her best shot at a smile, and squeezes my hand. I cry, mumbling that we will make her comfortable, and rub her legs. I feel helpless in this descent, but I try to comfort in the best way I know how.

They say she has an ileus, which is an obstruction of the bowel. It can pass, but we do not know what is causing it. She does not want to go to the hospital, and she does not want anything invasive.

I do not want her to suffer, but the voice in my head tells me that I should pray for the best outcome for her…whatever that may be in her karma.

Larry is coming home to take me back to see her for a while. Fortunately I am only 20 minutes away.

But for myself, I went to Gina for a magical massage so that I am less stressed. I am having a small glass of wine as I wait for Larry to come home. He is late. My stomach hurts. Off to find some cold cucumber for my eyes and remind myself to b r e a t h e.

Patti O Pickup

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adrift on a Sea

I am a bit overwhelmed. In my art blog I mused how I don't know how I am going to get everything done that I need to before I go to Kentucky, and before school starts. I have an order to complete in 3 days, a show two days after school starts.

I feel like the little trees in the sketch here, awash with water in high tide, lost in a huge ocean, and permanently bent from exposure to the elements. The trees mark the channel, and I understand that they are dug up every year and replaced as the elements eventually kill them. I on the other hand, must be like the Ever Ready Rabbit, and keep on going. I have to. There is no one to replace me, I live my life to recharge during low tide, a place of firmer ground and easier living.

My mom is not eating and though conscious, seems to be in a twilight zone between life and death. The hard part is watching her linger till she makes the journey where she will rest her body and free her soul.

My brother and sister were here, and we discussed how this will all play out and what we will do when she passes. The wake, the coffin, the funeral, the burial. It is so surreal, but I am glad that they are there to bear some of the burden. There is solace in their presence.

I am doing very little today save for go into the studio and working on my order. I will bring my meditational CDs in, and am thinking Deva Primal. She is actually doing a chant workshop at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, which is in my neighborhood. It would be so cool to attend, but I am not able to do that yet. One step at a time. One moment at a time. At least I am getting better at being in the present. The possibilities of the future will give me heart palpitations, and I do not like that anxiety state.

Off to the studio where I will breathe.

patti o panic

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Few Photos

It has been an awfully long day, and I don't have much energy left. There are lots of issues with the nursing home going on, and though my mother is in bad shape, they over drugged her and put her into a near comatose state. And it goes on from there.

I have spent some time with my brother and his wife, and we shared a few meals together, a few bottles of wine, and some laughter. We made the best of a stressful situation when we could.

My sister is coming with her family tomorrow, and we will hopefully all meet to discuss what is going on. I still have more phone calls to make, but I have run out of time and energy to call people.

I have even run out of spirit to write any more tonight.

On a good note, here is my beautiful miracle family.

Patti O Burnout

Got Drugs?

My head is pounding, my blood pressure is way up. I don't know if it is the stress or the need for the adjunctive medication that I stopped taking. My feet are still swelling, and my eyes have turned into a tidal pool of salty tears.

I need a cocktail. You know, one of those martini and Valium cocktails that set you right down on your ass so that you feel the sorrow but you can't show the pain because though you can function, albeit a bit tipsy, you are numb on the inside.

My mother is very ill, I was over at the nursing home last night after I got the phone call that she was in and out of a deep sleep all day. I had gone over the day before to visit and spent a few hours with her, and was startled at how grey her coloring was, and saw pain etched into her face. She managed a smile or two in our one sided conversation, and she added a few grunts to let me know she understood.

But I did not think she was that close to dying, and I am not sure where in the process we stand.

I have held a dying man's hand, I have been to a myriad of wakes and funerals, including my fathers when I was a teen. I have been far enough removed from the tasks of things such as writing obituaries, arranging burials, wakes, or what clothes to dress the dead in. Someone else has had to carry that burden. But now it leans on me; I am the eldest, and by default I take the lead. I feel lost.

In talking to the doctor, they still don't know what is wrong. They may cut back her pain meds and see if she will come out of the sleeping that she is doing.

How long my mother will go on like this is unknown. I take it moment by moment, just like everything else. But a Xanax or a Valium would help. Got drugs?

Patti ooooo

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


(this blog copied from my MEGANAID blog which follows the progress of my daughter Megan, who served in Iraq and has leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer)

Megan is an amazing young woman. When I think of all that she has gone through I shudder. There is so much that I can not tell, and much that needs to be told.Out of respect for her I censor my writing.

Some of the things she has had to endure from 18-24 has been

ARMY boot camp (AUGH!)
being a diesel mechanic in Iraq
pregnancy in that country and army field medical care
the birth and raising of a child w/out the father
diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma
other disorders/some of which are directly related to serving in a war

And now a miracle baby conceived after chemo and radiation.

For two months this baby has been trying to come into the world. Megan has been in and out of hospitals during this time and on two months of bed rest. Then today, on his due date, the midwife broke Megan's water, and Megan birthed Randall Crain Jr. into the world at 3:48 pm at 8 lbs 4 oz, and 21.5". Daddy Dole was there for the labor and birth, he helped deliver his son, cut the cord etc.

Dole has been a good man for my daughter, and a good father to Alanna.
(I say a prayer for him as he is heading back to Afghanistan for a year, please keep him in your thoughts.) I am so grateful to him for being there for them all.

Alanna says her brother is a big fat boy, and very cute. I laugh.

Again I thank you all for coming to read this from time to time. Knowing that there is empathy and genuine love and caring helps me through the tough times. Though I avoid drama, at times I feel like life is one big soap opera, with mine just a bit more surreal with unbelievable true stories that make you say "WTF?" (my favorite acronym of the year I think)

PS no photos yet!
xxpatti o grandma

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Blogger is having some major issues affecting my ability to post this blog and photographs for my art blog since last night. I feel like I am going through withdrawal, unable to communicate to my mostly silent audience. I know you are out there, my stat counter says you are, (I don’t know who you are for the most part----big brother doesn’t give me that info!) but knowing you ARE out there makes me feel connected to a network of people who find interest in my jumble of words and images.

Of course by the time you are reading this all issues will be resolved, but in the meantime I feel very lonely typing away in Microsoft Word.

I knew once I got back I would have to step back into the world of reality; messages from the nursing home about my mother, another appointment needed with the doctors there tomorrow morning. I know that my future holds some really tough times; such is life at my age. Friends pass, parents fade, and even my own child lives day to day not knowing what the future holds. Something tells me that I will be the ONE, the one who holds trembling hands, the one who listens to the crippled whispers of last wishes and carries them out, and tucks the memories of the dead in my heart. I live each day with wild abandon, gathering peace and many tools to carry out my mission.

Megan just called in labor for the 40 millionth time in two months, but this time she thinks that it is the real thing and called me for advice as to what to do. 900 miles away on a miracle of fiber optics I tell her to get Alanna ready, drop her off, and go to the hospital. Something tells me she won’t be going back home. Last time I was the one who held the pan while she threw up in the middle of hard labor, I was the one who cut the cord of life to her baby. Now she has a husband, and I am glad he will be there for her. But I do miss my role as crone and mother, helping my daughter bring a new life into the world.

I muse about the constant cycle of life and death, and wonder about birth and rebirth. How many times have I come this way I wonder? Am I doing it right this time?

Today I got a confirmation about my enrollment in the Creative Arts Retreat at the Blue Cliff Monastery. I loved the ending quote on the email, “A lotus for you - A Buddha to be”

In Peace and Love

Patti O Zen

Monday, August 04, 2008

More from The Cape

(note: written 2 days ago…just uploading now!)

We found a sweet public beach after breakfast yesterday, Rock Harbor, not far from Orleans. Parking is free, you don’t have to buy a beach pass, and there are plenty of charters available there if you like to go out fishing.

The harbor beach is small, the water calm, and it has a jetty along side of it with large flat rocks where I sat and made a few sketches in watercolor. It was warm, peaceful, and surreal, with the trees poking up in the middle of the water. Some are permanently bent over, perhaps from a constant wind, or strong storms. During low tide, the same trees sit upon sand flats.

Later on Carol and I walked a few miles along Nauset Beach, and my body is reminding me today how much more work it is to walk on the beach than on the smooth pavement of my neighborhood streets.

Today is the Pan-American bike race, so we are hanging back a bit before we venture into Wellfleet or Provincetown. I hope to catch a few hours at the beach again, just reading or sunning. I know that much work awaits me when I get home, from painting to landscaping, to studio work. In a month I have a show and I feel behind already, and I will lose 10 days when in Kentucky. I am going to have to work hard and play less when I return tomorrow. The summer is now more than half over for me, and as September nears, I feel that the days speed up!

The other photo is taken from a park off the Bourne Bridge. I wanted to put the top down for the last quarter of our journey, and I shot this fabulous view of a guy working on what I believe to be a weather station. What a view!

Patti O Sand

Saturday, August 02, 2008

At the Cape

This is the second time I have typed my blog. Somehow my laptop crashed; I suspect it was the updates that Vista was trying to download and it dumped my entire blog.

Anyway, I am at the Sparrow in Orleans, one of my fave places that has wireless, where I sip on coffee, munch on a scone, and check my emails.

I am in a bit topsy-turvy, as I had just returned from one trip, to come home for a day, work the entire day, then get ready to hop in the car again for another four days.As a result, I forgot my medications..and hope that my lack of blood pressure meds will be OK. Breathe Patti, breathe.

The EOS had been consistently getting 33.5 MPG on long road trips, which was more than I expected. I bought my first quart of motor oil, synthetic European grade Penzoil which runs 7.00 a quart. No wonder an oil change on this car costs 75.00. Probably at least half of the cost is oil and filter!

We are heading to the beach for a late afternoon stroll and swim if the weather holds out. Out of four days I only ask the universe for one afternoon of sun and fun. At this point, we shall see.

Off to find something to keep us busy for another hour till we meet our friends back at their house, then off to the beach. Tomorrow I promise photos/artwork.

Patti O Sand