Featured Post

The Autumnal Equinox

                                           Last rose petals linger....                                                               ...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doctors Day 8 Year 2


Doctors are part of my life.  I have a team I have come to trust and rely upon.  Building that team took a matter of years, and it is still evolving.  I believe that each of these doctors is truly invested in my well-being.  A find of epic proportions!  Two of my three children have also had considerable challenges with their health. Our family should have a banner out front saying, “We support Children’s Hospital in Boston.”  Docs there both have saved my childrens’ lives and put them back together again.  With the resilience of youth, they mended. 
Watching the steady return of my daughters to whole and fully independent lives has been a gift that managed to change me forever. I notice miracles constantly.  I feel that I have been blessed with a state of grace.  While I can not say that doctors wrought these miracles, doctors were sure on hand as they unfolded. 
While all this is true, the road to health has had its rocky passages.  Think Peruvian highway. My back was broken for ten years before an astute doctor reread the x-rays and saw the fracture.  I had been to many specialists at major medical centers all over the Northeast; it would be impossible to lay the responsibility for that mistake at any one doorstep. It was an example of catastrophic inattention to looking at the big picture.  Neurologists and orthopedic surgeons had been so focused on what images they saw on the MRIs and CTs, they overlooked the value of a simple x-ray.  For me, it was also a colossal lesson in forgiveness.
The misdiagnosis of my oldest daughter’s pulmonary disorder was due to the hubris of the chairman of a major city’s cardiac department (he felt it unnecessary to read the pulmonologist’s findings we relayed to him simply because the report was generated from western Massachusetts).  She spent seven years and countless winters with multiple pneuomonias.  She had to be -- literally, at death’s door -- for those doctors to sit up and listen. As a result of her pre-existing condition and aspergillus, her lung was resectioned and she underwent a hairy six weeks of chemotherapy.  She survived it all in tact and smiling.
My second daughter suffered from joint pain most of her childhood. Repeated visits to specialists caused them to wager - initially - that she was a malinger.  When they witnessed her dislocations of knees, hips, and shoulders, they realized something was different about her. It was around her twelfth surgery that she was properly diagnosed.  The two of us were lying side-by-side in bed at Children’s Hospital after her shoulder surgery. We decided to watch TV.  The channels are limited, so we chose Mystery Diagnosis. As the narrator described the life of the characters who were portrayed, we recognized ourselves.  We went from making fun and teasing about the woman spraining her wrists when she emptied dishwashers to a quiet-“are you kidding me?” feeling when we recognized ourselves.  The next day, as my daughter’s doctor made grand rounds, followed by about nine interns and residents, I asked the question.  “Could it be possible....We watched a show....“ I stammered out the question about the disorder we learned about the previous day.  He was quick to respond,
“But, of course, he said, “We thought you knew.”  Evaluations with geneticists and cardiologists confirmed our guess.  
So, yes, doctors are part of my life.  Not always the best part, but, for every doctor who made a mistake (Dawn, you will never have children) there have been two who pulled me -- or someone I love-- from the brink of an unknown precipice and made our lives happier, healthier, and more whole.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Brutal Truth

from www.portamental.com

The brutal truth is that I am not much of a musician.  I do not have the natural rhythm and the ear that is evident in those who are musically gifted.  Having said that, I maintain the belief that I am musically inclined.  I listen to music often. For four years, I sang in an a capella choir.  I persist in my piano lessons.  Weekly reminders of my woefully limited talent. No amount of practice will fully change the mechanics of my mind.  I see, however, that the tedium of practice does bring with it some hope that the any given piano piece I am playing may -- if it falls on generous ears -- be recognizable.  Despite the fact that I am not blessed with perfect pitch or a steady meter, I love playing the piano. I love the certainty of moving from chord to chord, I love the pure mathematics of music, and I love the constancy of finding the notes exactly where they should be when my fingers reach for them. The fault, when there is one, is always mine.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Great Purge of 09/2012 Day 6 Year 2

Medicinal cast-offs

I have opened my larder and refrigerator and my freezers, and even my medicine chest over that past week.  It is time to purge, purge, purge.  The gluten-free bagels that were frost-burned, the post-dated cans of soup, bags of vegetable and mystery meats have all been tossed.  I used the opportunity created by this household sell-by date rampage to defrost my deep freezer. I shot a photograph of everything I put back into the freezer to create an inventory of foods that are in cold storage. Now, dinner planning is made easier for all concerned.  Even my seventeen-year old son concedes it is handy to have a list rather than play Jenga with boxes of frozen dinners. It was not infrequent to have items from the top freezer to tumble to the floor in a disarrayed pile of rectangular boxes of ice. I was in label-maker heaven, labeling shelves and newly purchased food storage containers for staples such as pretzels, rice and chocolate chips.  Nuts found a new home in the refrigerator as they tend to have a longer shelf life when kept cool. I disposed of cereals with boxes that had a neat expiration date stamped on top -- Use by March 7, 2010.  I looked for rancid oils and ancient vinegars.  When I went through the herbs and spices, I created a plethora of new space that allows for much better display of what is available. The waste generated by disposing of post-dated prescriptions, over-the-counter compounds and general pharmaceuticals for a family of five was shocking. It created the whole ethical dilemma of how to dispose of many of them safely.  A Google search provided me with sound advice. It did not, however, inform me how to manage my daughter’s imminent distress when she discovers I threw out the last quarter inch of a shampoo she has had since high school.  It was time.  She is a college graduate and she has to be prepared to accept the commensurate changes involved in becoming an adult.  I sacrificed that one bottle for the shower space it freed up for a more recent brand; I had, as a guiding principle, will disposing of this item serve the highest good for the most people.  My own closet and bureau did not escape scrutiny.  I recruited a friend to help me.  Her opinion was that many of my clothes are dated and my shoes are deplorable.  She waxed on about the elegance of one little cashmere shrug, but the rest was all pretty much disposable in her opinion.  With near parsimonious precision, I shared a bag full of shirts, cast-offs and no-longer age appropriate items.  She made a date to come back and be more ruthless in the weeding, as well as supporting my efforts to use mail order to replace key items.  That has been placed on my To Do list.  I am not quite through with my efforts, yet.  I have my eye set on sorting out my cleaning solvents and laundry supplies next. 
I feel curiously lighter and markedly more in control of my life at the moment. I can’t say enough about the rehabilitative powers of imposing order and control on a piece  -- any piece -- of your life.  My advice?  Open one drawer and simply start there. Like eating popcorn, you may find it hard to stop.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sundry Observations Day 5 Year 2

           Road to Nowhere          dee

The man from Brooklyn.  A former gang-banger leaves the gritty life of poverty, drugs and gangs to relocate closer to his young daughter. This brings him to the unlikely suburban community of Northampton, Massachusetts.  Here, he pursues a classroom program to earn his certification as a licensed practical nurse.  He is outspoken in his belief that education is the only way to escape the cycle of indigence and crime that once defined him.  I met him in my doctor’s office this morning.  

The road to Nowhere.  If the road is open, and the skies are clear, does it really matter where we are headed?  Next to my bed is a book my friend gave me.  It is called, “The Happiness Project.”  Sweetly, she informed me that, “This is exactly the kind of book you might have written.”  When I read it, I feel that she was perfectly correct in her summation; I am disappointed with myself  that I didn’t write it.  If I have one contribution I might make to the work it would be my personal observation that we never arrive at Happiness.  It is more like a place we visit, but, due to the nature of the available lodging, we do not stay.  Like the road to Nowhere, we should enjoy the vistas along the way, and not overthink our destinations.
The view from the other direction.

Whatever happened to Black Cows?
A woman I once cared for was dying and in the terminal stages of breast cancer.  A couple afternoons each week, we would share a guilty pleasure.  She would ask me to make a couple of Black Cows and sit with her on the porch to enjoy the afternoon breeze.  I would drum up two large glasses, fill them two-thirds with root beer.  Then, I would use the ice cream scoop to hollow out balls of vanilla ice cream from a half gallon container she kept in the freezer.  I would deliver two balls of vanilla ice cream into each glass.  Inserted straws, and served.  Now, the only Black Cows I ever see are in pastures.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Voice and Other TV Concepts Day 4 Year 2

I have a thing for the television show called The Voice. After careful reflection, I can tell you that it moves me to see people pursue their dreams - sometimes even after being rejected by the judges in prior seasons. I can suggest that I am drawn to the gathering of talent, because only the talented are considered for the coveted spots on the judge’s teams.  I can report that the music is often ethereal, moving, or chill-making.  I do not care for the crowing of the judges when they successfully recruit a singer, or the sorrowful expression on the performers’ faces if they don’t make the cut. However, the rush of hearing raw talent recognized and nurtured draws me in each week.  
At the conclusion of the show, I had a thought last night; what if such a showcase existed  for writers. How would I fare?  Contestants would be given a topic, a laptop, and fifteen minutes to compose an eloquent, moving essay.  The judges would chit-chat for the audience while they awaited our entries.  At precisely fifteen minutes, our essays would be distributed to the judges and they would choose the ones among us worthy to go to the next round.  I suppose that would hardly make riveting television, but hey, even an absurd idea can, sometimes, show up on network television. 

Notes to self:
Is the competition as a singer tougher than as a writer?  Is it too late to start training?
Does the fact that I am without talent factor into it at all?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Ripple Begins Day 1 Year 2

A quiet voice does not mean still thoughts.  I have, like a little-neck clam, retracted into my shell.  Here, I am able to foment new ideas and reflect on the vicissitudes of life.  I have not abandoned my dear, loyal readers.  Rather, I find myself making provisions for a long spiritual journey.  One that I intend to scribe. I marvel at the tenacity that allowed me to write a blog every day for 365 days consecutively -- when now, my challenge is to write a paragraph.  However, a lesson is revealed therein. Sometimes, change begins with small ripples that spread wide.   A single paragraph is the first step in resetting my commitment to A New Dawn, returning to Whately Prep and delivering my words to you.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Life Lesson on Coming Home Day 365

A paperweight seen at Silverscape Jewelers in Northampton, MA

There are many ways to come home.  We can tap into the collective consciousness of images that have been portrayed in the books we read and the movies we watch to imagine them.  There are so many ways to come home.There is the soldier, walking the long, dusty distance from the road to his house with valise in one hand, cap in the other.  There is the mother, cradling her new-born child mounting the steps of her front porch.  There is the child, shouldering his backpack, pulling open the the screen door.  There is the husband stepping into a still, quiet house calling, “Honey? I’m home.”  And there is completing a year's worth of daily blogs. I cranked out short, 500 word essays in order to fulfill a pledge made when imagination and capriciousness were both plentiful and easy to summon.

My journey began with words written on September 4, 2011: 
I am inviting you to join me on this adventure. Three years ago, I turned fifty. I enjoyed a pleasant dinner with my husband and another couple. Later, I wished I had made more out of the occasion than putting on mascara and pearls. Using the book "Julie and Julie" as a model, an inspiration was fomenting. The idea was unwelcomed and yet, appealing. After all, I had the staying power to "do" the entire Course in Miracles (a program of self-awareness that integrates your daily life with the presence of that of a Greater Being). Yes, it was a year course and it took me eighteen months. However, the point is that I had the intention to complete such a task ... and I did so. On the eve of my 53rd birthday, once again, I feel the need to make a grand gesture on a scale that fits my world and my abilities. It is unlikely I will hike Machu Piccu, travel to the Antartica, or even see the Russian steppes. However, I can reread Dr. Seuss's treatise-- Oh, the Places You Will Go-- and reflect upon that question. I can dig out my high school copy of Voltaires's Candide; I will rediscover Candide's voice when he utteres his opinion that, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin." In other words, before we reach out to "fix" the world beyond our immediate environs, we must first take responsibility for caring for our own gardens.
This journal is exactly how I will cultivate my own garden. For one year, I will keep a daily log of my adventures. My great-grandfather was a sea-captain. He maintained careful logs on his Atlantic passages. They helped him to arrive at strategies to better navigate the next voyage and the next. So... I will take a page out of his log and begin my own. I invite you to come along.

My journey concluded September 5, 2012.
I did it.  I made it home. I wrote 365 entries, of which 59 of them were pages in a serialized novel.  It has been more difficult than I imagined to have the discipline to take an hour and a half daily to write coherent words. I had not imagined the content or the direction my words would take me.  Having reached the anniversary of this blog, I feel less of a sense of accomplishment than I thought I might.  Here is the embarrassing truth, I watched the numbers of views (last view, 13,008) closely. It was the comments and mounting numbers of views that kept me on the path of production and each day. I did not receive money or acclaim, but the satisfaction that faceless readers in Latvia and Russia and Mississippi and Massachusetts took time out of their days for me?  Well, that was an amazing gift.  
I am left with the question of what comes next.

My plan is under development.  A few day breather is essential.  Then, I suspect, back to the boards.  I will post the continuing plot of Whately Prep on a blog entitled
Whately Prep: a novel of mystery, revenge, and intrigue. http://whatelyprep.blogspot.com     I will transfer all the past blogs related to 
Whately Prep to that site for those of you who would like to start from the beginning.
A New Dawn is comprised of short, sometimes quirky essays about life. www. anewdawn.blogspot.com
Dawnings  - a collection of longer, more in-depth essays are located at http://www.dawneliseevans.com

Lest, this seem complicated and incredibly prolific, I do hope to simplify and streamline eventually, but for now, it works best that are three different blogs offering three different kinds of writing.  Ultimately, of course, it's all me.  I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me. Please, keep the comments coming. Your words, suggestions and thoughts have been, and remain, ample motivation for this writer.

Be well --

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mrs. Dickinson Whately Prep p.58


My name is Mrs. Dickinson.  I know this information. I repeat to myself, “My name is Mrs. Dickinson.”  I am not able to retrieve many aspects of myself.  The past is curiously present.  The present is lost in an impenetrable haze.  What I ate this morning, who visited yesterday or what I did last week are lost to me.  I try to hone in on them but short term memories are amorphous and slippery, lost to me.  The distant past welcomes me. I know the prognosis. My mother retreated from the present, then was lost in the past.  She forgot my name, her name, how to dress, how to speak, how to eat, then finally, how to breathe.  It’s strange, but there is still a piece of me alive inside, the Observer.  The Observer is part of the Hemlock Society.  Bad planning makes it a moot point.  This morning I woke up with the gift -- or the curse -- of utter clarity.  
I am in this expensive hotel of death waiting for my time.  I understand my circumstances but don’t have anyone here at this moment to express my desire to end my life.  These brief windows of lucidity are getting more and more rare.  The nurses pat my hand and treat me exactly the same when I am rational and when I am irrational.  Honestly, I would try to escape this place so I could find a way to end it, but I am literally tied to this chair.  All the pleading in the world won’t convince anyone to untie me.  I am the crazy lady who wanders because she has Altzheimer’s. 

I saw Carl and Julia last night. I am glad they are back together.  His brown hair and broad shoulders looks so attractive beside her Jennifer Jones (the long-dead singer from the 50‘s that Marshall and I loved) looks. Long brown hair, brown eyes, high cheekbones and bow lips.  I always thought if her intellect slipped, Julia could be a model.  The symmetry in her face is what people like.  I have admired the plastic elasticity of her face that allows her to be expressive without uttering a word.

Carl asked me questions.  He asked me about how I came to marry Marshall. He asked about Marshall’s parents.  He asked some about Julia and what the first fifteen years of her life were like, but he asked more about the years from tenth grade to graduating college.  My answers were incomplete. It was so frustrating for me not to be able to tell him what he most needed to know.  Locked in my head is the story Julia needs to hear. 
It is harder and harder for me to hold all the pieces in my hands.  They are not mine any longer.  By the time the kids left, I was so agitated by what I didn’t know and couldn’t tell them that I asked a nurse for a sleeping pill.  Maybe the sleep of the dead is what has allowed me to think this morning.  The edges of my memories are shrinking. Quickly, I take my pad and try to write down a message.  I get so far as “Find the album in.....” and the words slip from my thoughts. I can see the album and where it sits on the shelf above my bed.  What house was that bed it? Who lives there now? And the questions overtake the answers and I can’t remember my name.  Maybe it is Mrs. Dickinson?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chance meeting Whately Prep p. 57


I leave my pick-up outside the front door of Sugarloaf Manor.  The smell of antiseptic, urine, aged bodies and their effluents assaults me as I enter the front rotunda.  The place looks like a four-star hotel. The decor is generic, but attractive. Reproduction antiques, reprints of Matisse’s and Monet’s works hang in neat rows going down the hall. There is a l large bulletin board with the names and faces of residents displayed in a colorful collage.  The smell of cauliflower, heavy and cloying wafts from the dining hall. It appears that most of the residents have gathered for their evening meal.  I eye the two rooms filled with senior citizens.  Most are women; many are in wheelchairs and powerchairs.  There is a sea of white heads when I look at the table rounds of diners.  I look for the Lucille Ball red that Mrs. Dickinson uses to dye her hair.  Find that head, and I will find her.  I do not find her.  When I walk down the hall to her room, I see she is seated, outside of her bedroom door.  An aide has cleared her tray.  Her head bobs slightly, her left leg appears to have a tremor.  
“You, you there, would you take me to the bathroom?”  
I am here because of an anonymous letter I found when I opened my bedroom door.  Someone had violated my privacy, entered my home, and left me an anonymous letter claiming that Mrs. Dickinson had information for me. I left the message untouched, on the floor, where it lay when I found it.  
I approach her cautiously, “HI, Mrs. Dickinson.  I’m Carl, do you remember me from Whately Prep?  Julia and i were good friends?”  Mrs. Dickinson turns to face me. Nothing like recognition shows on her face.  Then, suddenly, her face is transformed and it is glowing like a light filled vessel.  I follow her gaze to the room across the corridor.  I see a woman’s shapely legs, her face obscured by a bouquet of flowers.  She lowers the flowers to Mrs. Dickinson’s rolling table.  It isn’t until she does so that I realize that it is Julia.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Follow the Money Whately Prep p. 56

June on Whately road                      dee

I read that the advice to “Follow the Money” is one of the most reliable predictors of success in solving crimes.  Crimes were committed here.  The police have not taken the situation seriously.  While they want to retain a good relationship with the school, they do not seem to be investigating the recent spate of events with any vigor or real concern.  I have come to the realization that to understand why the graveyard was violated, the swan was killed and butchered, and why I was threatened had to all revolve around money.  The question that remains is, “What money?”

I am running down to the River this evening. I am not going to stay caged in my office or my house, waiting for the next shoe to drop. I am not going to buy into this threat.  
I saw a brief glimpse of Kelly this morning as I walked to my office. I saw her figure but she did not linger.  I missed the reassuring comfort of having her seated in my office while I worked.  Now, I do not expect to see her.  I feel just slightly deranged, off-balanced. I have not slept well for nights.  It shows in my face, I noticed the circles under my eyes in the hall mirror as I headed out the door to put sneakers on for my run.  

This run will let me blow off steam and recalibrate myself.  I need the breathe.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Now I feel the rhythm of my legs as each foot strikes the ground and my arm churn the air. Forward.  Faster.  I push myself until I feel the pulse throb in my temple, then hold that speed.  All thoughts are forced out of mind by this concerted effort to drive forward using my own power.

A small grey square of metal begins to come into view through the cover of verdant trees and overgrowth.  Each step forward, it grows larger.  I see the hood of a car emerge, parked in a fire lane that runs beside the cemetery.  That makes no sense to me.  I check for the cameras up in the trees that have been trained on the graveyard to watch for suspicious behavior.  They are in place.  I wave at them, look at my watch, then hold up six fingers, point to my watch.  A kind of time stamp, of sorts.  Cautiously, I walk over to the grey Toyota Avalon.  The license plate has been unscrewed from the back; there is none on the front.  I vaguely recall seeing the car before. There is a Whately Prep parking sticker on the passenger side back door.  It belongs to the community somehow.  And the owner?  That worries me.  I weigh my options.  It seems overly dramatic to call for help at this point -- though in my lifetime, I have never seen anything but a service vehicle down here.  I hesitate to try the handles in case they need prints.  I decide to finish my run to the river, if the car is still here when I return, I will report it when I get back to campus.  

It is impossible to get back into the groove.  I try.  I am skittish.  Can’t identify any real threats, but I am feeling very vulnerable, alone, out here in the woods.  Then I am angry that someone has robbed me of the peace that my River runs usually restore to me. 
Disgusted, I turn and march all the way back to Whately Prep.  Someone is going to have to account for this situation.