Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time Flies

Well, it's been a month since I have posted and life has been a little hectic.

In the middle of October I received a promotion at work. It has been a really good thing, but it has required major changes in my life and my schedule. I am slowly getting used to the new schedule and learning how to fit in all the important things. I will figure it all out and will be back on a regular schedule soon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Diary of Psychiatrist Physician with Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer's

Over the years since Mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia I have often wondered what she thought in the early days when she realized something was going on. She never really talked about it with me or my siblings and I think she talked only a little more about it with Dad. She was a very independent person who protected her family. I believe she didn’t want us to worry about her and that is why she hid it for so long.

Today I had the opportunity to visit and read a blog that is greatly appreciated. Diary of a Psychiatrist Physician with Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimers is the blog of David Thomas, MD. Dr. Thomas is a 59 year old physician who has been diagnosed with Lewy. He has begun this blog in an attempt to share this disease from a first-hand patient prospective. He writes about his medical training that involved only the briefest mention of Lewy Body Dementia and how the diagnosis has affected him. My heart goes out to Dr. David and his wife, Pamela as they deal daily with the tragedy that is dementia. Even so, I am extremely grateful for their willingness to be open and honest.

Dr. Thomas mirrored my thoughts about blogging in that it sometimes feels self centered to write about myself and things that matter to me. Yet, his blog is not selfish, it is selfless. I wonder if I were in his shoes would I be able to write freely about what was happening. I commend him in his desire to further knowledge and offer insight and support for other Lewy sufferers.

The beginning entries of his blog detail the incidents that led to diagnosis and he has begun to share some of his deepest feelings. He describes the pain of deciding to surrender his medical license and how that affected him. His persona was largely built around his work as a physician. He put many years into his education and more years in his practice of helping others. Now, that part of him is past, although he, by writing his blog, is sharing his knowledge of the disease from a unique doctor-as-patient view point.

My mother was not a physician, but she worked many years outside the home. She volunteered and devoted herself to others. As the disease progressed she was unable to return to any kind of work outside the home. Eventually she was unable to drive. Then, slowly, she lost the ability to do the basics of everyday life for herself.

I wonder sometimes what her thoughts were when she was more aware and for periods of time understood what was happening to her. She never really talked about it. It saddens me that she felt she couldn’t share more with us, but that was the way Mom worked….she protected us and dealt with whatever life threw at her.

Reading Dr. David’s blog was hard. I want to know more about Lewy, but it devastates me as I read about others who are dealing with the disease. Dr. David is doing a noble thing by sharing. I encourage you to visit his blog. It is brand new and has had only a few entries, but already has increased awareness. He has a blog counter on the site and since he began the blog early this month it has already had over 500 hits. I regret that Lewy has given him a reason to blog, but in doing so he has put a face on the disease. That is what we need in order to fight Lewy; we need the disease to have a face and not be just some blurb in a medical text book somewhere.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Week, New Beginnings

A new week is beginning. It is a week full of busyness and To Do items. It's a week of a new coworker and changing of the guard with a coworker leaving. It is a week that will be so full it will almost burst at the seams.

Life seems to be that way lately. Always full, always too much to do. I often wonder how life got this way. I am not the only one who is busy. I talked with a friend yesterday who mentioned that at home she barely has time to log on to the internet to check email to connect with friends far away. We have more technology now and it should be easy to keep in touch. Yet it seems to get harder every day.

This week I am going to try to enjoy all of life despite my busyness. I am going to try to take those brief moments of beauty and enjoy them while they last!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and everywhere I look I see pink. I picked up a sales circular for an office supply store from the Sunday paper and was blasted with a jolt of pink. These days you can buy pink phones or bikes or yogurt and a portion of the proceeds support breast cancer research and awareness. The pink items are part of the fundraising done by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In the last few years Komen and breast cancer have become closely associated with the color pink.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for breast cancer awareness and research, but I have often wondered at how this happened. It’s amazing, really; the color pink on a product immediately brings to mind the fight against this deadly disease.

Today, Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure was on the Oprah show. This was the first time I have really heard the story of Susan G. Komen. She was 33 years old when diagnosed with breast cancer in the 70s. Before she died she made her sister Nancy promise she would do everything in her power to fight the disease. Out of that promise grew the amazing organization that has done so much for beginning to tame this disease.

As I listened to Nancy talk about what it was like for Susan and her family as she was struggling with the disease in the 70s it struck me how much it mirrored what my family went through when Mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD.) Nancy talked about the lack of support groups, information, and understanding at the time. That is what it is like for LBD patients and their families now.

Today breast cancer is well known. Information is more abundant and because of the work of Nancy Brinker women don’t have to feel so alone when the diagnosis comes. Pink has succeeded in giving a face to this illness.

When Mom was diagnosed with LBD we found the Lewy Body Dementia Association. This young organization is working to increase research and raise awareness of the disease but we still have a long way to go. As with so many causes these days the LBD as well as the Alzheimer’s Association has taken a color to signify their fight. For the groups fighting dementia that color is purple. During recent Memory Walks for the Alzheimer’s Association purple balloons, t-shirts and banners were everywhere. For years I have been curious about how to get people to know purple like they do pink.

Today I learned how Nancy took her family's fight and turned it into a nationwide initiative. It’s a lofty thought, but as I watched I formulated ways of moving our fight into the same type of nationwide initiative. I don’t want to draw attention from breast cancer, but I do want to draw attention to the plight of dementia sufferers. In a perfect world this wouldn’t be necessary. I live in an imperfect world and so I have decided to wave my purple banner high.

Someday people will see purple and know that dementia is a horrendous disease. People will be able to purchase a purple phone or bike or yogurt and know that their money is supporting something important. They will understand that their jokes about having Alzheimer’s really aren’t that funny. They will understand and the stigma associated with dementia will begin to disappear. They will understand that others have walked this road and they don’t have to walk alone.

Today I go purple on this blog and will continue to tout purple until dementia is conquered.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I took this picture while on vacation. It was such a sweet picture I had to share!

Fall is in the Air

Fall is in the air. Today I decided around noon time to run out and take care of some errands. I slipped into a pair of capris, a short sleeve shirt, and flip flops and headed out the door. Despite the sun shining brightly, the air had that unmistakable fall nip to it.

I love autumn. There is something about the colors that nature displays, the crispness of the air, the sun that teases that makes me feel introspective and peaceful. I look forward to the coming of fall each year more than any other season. It’s kind of silly, but with the coming of fall I like to pull out my old, much used home taped VHS version of “Hocus Pocus” and watch it. Fall, “Hocus Pocus”, and turning inward go hand in hand in my world.

Most of the world does spring cleaning; I do fall cleaning. As the days grow cooler and shorter I tend to think of cleaning carpets, washing windows, and organizing closets. I need to organize closets; my 3 year old nephew said to me on Saturday as we went looking for the cat who was asleep in the closet, "Your closet's a mess, Auntie Tammie."

I talked with a friend this morning and she told me how this time of year leads her to think of what the year has held and what she would like to do in the coming year. We have been friends for many years and I never knew this of her. It is my habit also to begin to make my new year’s goals around Thanksgiving time.

I am one of the Saturday bloggers over at The Christian Writer's Forum. This past Saturday I posted about a recent trip to visit family in a small farming community of Southern Indiana. Fallow Ground came out of that trip. This is the time of year when farmers are harvesting their crops and the fields are lying in lost splendor. The thing about these fallow fields is that they are not really dormant, they are reviving and restoring. They are preparing for the next growing season.

Maybe that is why the fall makes me think to the future. The activities of spring and summer are done and life seems to slow down some. It seems to me to be an opportune time to consider the year that is almost done. The restoration that is happening during this time leads to anticipation of goals to be accomplished.

This fall brings me to the one year anniversary of my mother’s death and with it the sadness of having lived a year without her. It brings with it the realization that my goals were always important to my mother. She believed I could do anything I put my mind to doing.

So, as I hunker down and replenish, I savor the memories and lean on the strength she instilled in me. A new year is coming and I still have much to accomplish. My fallow ground is making way for new growth in the coming year.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Tale of Wilson's Tail

Facebook has an application called Flair that allows a user to give virtual buttons to other users. It’s one of the ways that a user can express their likes and dislikes. Recently my friend sent me flair that said, “Friends don’t let friends become crazy cat ladies.” You know crazy cat ladies, right!?! They’re old maids who acquire cat after cat until their whole life revolves around their cats. Since Meredith is a wonderful single friend who has a cat of her own I didn’t take offense at the flair.

Still my sister has suggested that since I brought my kitty home I may be on my way to becoming a crazy cat lady. I will admit to the crazy part; that has been established already. I maintain that it is better to be a little crazy and enjoy life than to stick to the norm and be bored.

As for being a cat lady I don’t think I could. See, the truth is I love my kitty and I don’t know that I could love two kitties the same. Is this the dilemma faced by parents when they decide to have a second child? I know that it is possible to love more than one (fur) child. I just don’t know if I want to.

I adopted Wilson in June of this year. I had always thought of myself as a dog person, but my lifestyle right now just wouldn’t work to have a dog. So I decided to adopt a cat. Wilson stole my heart right from the start. I can’t imagine life without him. As I type this he is at the foot of the bed grooming himself and looking at me like I am disturbing him when I shift position.
Wilson is a sweet heart and I admit that I spoil him. I also admit that I talk about him way too much and take tons of pictures of him. It became a joke while I was on vacation with my family recently that I had to make everyone look at my pictures of him. Just a few days ago I downloaded the vacation pictures from my camera and found I had taken 50 pictures of Wilson before leaving on vacation. In defense of myself, I did get a new camera and was getting the hang of it by using Wilson as my subject ;-)

It has been said that you can tell the mood of a dog by his tail. I think that is very true of Wilson also. He has a very long, graceful tail. When I returned from vacation he would not leave my side. As we lounged on the couch that evening his tail gently flicked at the very end. This is his way of saying, “I am content and all is right with my world.”

He also uses his tail to tell me when he is upset with something I have done. Often this happens when I have been gone for a few hours and he didn’t appreciate me leaving. He will get my attention, then walk a few feet away, sit with his back to me and flick his tail. Not the gentle flicking I described above. The tail waves back and forth and the tip snaps at the end of each arc. He continues to do this for about 15 minutes or until he is sure I have received the message.

In the mornings when it is time to get up (he determines this usually, not me) he will jump on the bed and lay right next to my face with his tail waving back and forth over my face. I eventually have to get up because the cat hair up my nose makes me sneeze.

Sometimes as I am at the desk working I will see his tail straight up in the air with just a little crink at the end. He hunches down on his front legs with his backside and tail up like a periscope. He stalks around pursuing some invisible trail of some evil that needs to be extinguished. I try not to think too much about what evil he may be following in my house…I just rest assured that Wilson is on the trail.

Yes, as you can see I do love my kitty and I love to talk about him. He has a spot in my heart that can never be replaced. I wrote a short story about him recently for the Faithwriter’s Writing Challenge. He was a good subject and the piece was well received. If you would like to indulge me in my kitty appreciation, you can read it at Finding My Place in Life

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Family Sized Adventure! - Adventure #9

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. ~ e.e. cummings

Laughter punctuated my adventure number nine in a big way. Adventure nine took me across the country to the heartland to spend a week with my extended family which, of course, means a week of laughter. As long as I can remember, time spent with the family was always full of laughter.

When my mom passed away last year my brother in his words of remembrance described our family as “rather large and wonderful.” Mom had 12 brothers and sisters and Dad has five. These two families have grown over the years. One of my aunts commented to my grandmother this weekend that she and grandpa had no idea what they were starting when Mom was born in 1942. Today the family encompasses the ten spouses who joined the family, thirty some grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

When my sister and I began talking about walking in the Alzheimer’s Memory walk in honor of Mom we decided it would be fun to travel to Indiana and walk with the extended family. So, we began to plan a trip and began to grow our team. When the walk day dawned we had 15 walkers and one stroller….Gabe is too young to walk the whole way yet.

The week was so full of activities, people and stories. The most prominent memory of the week though is the laughter. As I write this I find it hard to put it into words. Until you have made an hour and half trip to another town with several of my aunts you really can’t understand how silly knock-knock jokes can create such uproarious laughter. The fact that the aunts made them up with family names made them hilarious. Here, let’s give it a try…

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Duane who?
Duane the tub, I’m dwoning!

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Randy who?
Ran de car in the ditch.

I laughed as I typed these, did you laugh as you read them? The thing that makes them so funny is the interactions between my aunts and uncles as they are told. You really had to be there.

The tradition on Sunday evenings for my family in Indiana is to gather at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner. It’s not the whole family, but whoever can make it is welcome to come. We got to have Sunday dinner there this week. The little house was filled with conversation, good food and laughter. And as a bonus we got to hear (and experience) Aunt Connie’s chicken in the rinse cycle story. If you are ever in the area, you really have to experience that! True to form in our family, my sister was laughing so hard she was in tears. The great thing about her laughter is she sounds so much like Mom.

Yes, the week was full of laughter and it was full of adventure. As I started the trip I decided that I was not going to let anything hold me back from experiencing whatever came my way. This meant meeting some new people who will remain in my memory for a long time to come.
The first person I met is my cousin’s friend who is called Sweet Pea by just about everyone. After I had lunch with several of my aunts and a couple of cousins on Friday we went back to Bev’s house. Her housemate Sweet Pea joined in our conversation for a while. The thing I admire about her is that she has no regrets in being herself. She fills a room with her voice and her laughter. She kept us all in stitches as she recounted things that happened to her. Some may be turned off by her boisterousness, but if you allow that to cloud your vision you might miss the heart of gold that lies beneath. As Bev told us more about Sweet Pea I saw that heart of willingness. She truly was part of a great adventure.

That night we headed out to Bubba’s Bar and Grill. I don’t frequent bars for the most part. This, however, was a family outing and so I decided to let go and join the fun. My uncle was meeting a woman that Bev wanted to set him up with. They all decided it might be easier if it happened as part of a group. I have to say that Allan and Dawn were both brave to submit themselves to the craziness that envelopes the family when a group gets together. I don’t know that I would want my sisters and nieces along if I were to be meeting a new guy.

When we got to Bubba’s I had to get my picture taken under the sign. There was something about going to a place called Bubba’s that signified small town life for me. Bev decided that I also needed to meet Bubba and he very graciously came over to introduce himself and shake my hand. I bet he never imagined I would go on to write about him on my blog. He’s a big, burly guy just as you might imagine from his name, but Bev tells me he is just a great big old marshmallow. Thanks, Bubba, for being a good sport!

Another person I met on my trip was a lady who sat next to me on the plane. She was a sweet lady from Columbia, SC and was on her way to visit her daughter. Turns out her daughter and son-in-law visited Colorado and liked it so much they decided to move there while he went to school. They had been in the area for about four weeks. Her daughter just had surgery and so my seat mate was traveling out to help care for her granddaughter while her daughter healed. In the short time we had together she told me about her children who are scattered all over the country right now. I have never really met anyone on a plane before so this was a great experience.

Finally, I got to meet my cousin’s girlfriend since she joined us on our memory walk. Laura was in a car accident last July and was seriously injured. We prayed for her and there were times when I wondered if she was going to make it through. Her injuries required extensive rehab for her to be able to return to her normal routine. She worked hard at recovering. Her big desire was to go to graduate school and the accident didn’t change that, it just delayed it. This fall, just a little over a year after that devastating accident, she returned to school to pursue her graduate degree. She is an amazing amount of determination packed into a small package.

The week ended all too soon and there is way more to tell than I can possibly fit into one blog post. I will have to write again soon about my trip to Abe Lincoln’s Boyhood Home and St. Meinrad Archabbey. I was able to get lots of great photos and will be adding those to my blog posts during the coming months.

Adventure 9 was a family sized adventure that will make me smile for years to come.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine…” Psalm 17:22

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Thing About Lewy

The thing about Lewy is that it’s still such a mystery. Not only a mystery, it’s a mystery few have heard of before. When Mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) we had never heard of it. I had to do a Google search to find out anything about it and I have been around the healthcare field for a long time. If I hadn’t heard of it considering my background, you can imagine what it is like when people ask what condition my Mom had.

“She had what?” “Lewy whatcha call it?” “Huh?” The comments are usually accompanied by confused looks. Mom had symptoms that got progressively worse over the course of about ten years. In the early stages the doctors had many theories, but no answers. It was hard because people would ask about it and I longed to be able to give a simple answer that others understood. When you say someone has Alzheimer’s people nod and are sympathetic. Not so with Lewy.

So, after the shock wore off I began to talk about it. I had been doing research about LBD and began to believe that more people are afflicted with it than the 1.5 million the Lewy Body Dementia Association currently has statistics to support. Why do I believe that? LBD’s three main symptoms are hallucinations, fluctuating cognition, and Parkinson’s type symptoms. There is a lot of overlap between Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and LBD. The other two are much better known and so those are often considered first. Knowing that Mom was originally considered to have Alzheimer’s and having talked with other care givers whose loved ones have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, I think there are people out there with one of these diagnoses that just doesn’t quite fit.

If LBD is similar to these, why do we care about distinguishing it? One reason for this is because LBD patients are more susceptible to a class of drugs called neuroleptics. These drugs are often used to help treat hallucinations. In LBD they can cause coma and even death. I have also found that care givers want to know that someone understands their loved one. Being able to talk about it with others who understand is part of the healing process. It is hard when there is so much mystery surrounding the disease.

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to a meeting with the new medical director at the company where I work. He is a neonatologist and pediatrician by trade. He hasn’t had to be up on the diseases that afflict the elderly. I talked with him about my Mom and answered his questions about LBD. Today in a meeting he turned to me and said, “You know since we had that conversation I was talking with a friend whose wife (or mother, I can’t remember) has Lewy.” He laughingly told me that because of the conversation he at least sounded intelligent while talking about it. In one simple conversation I raised his awareness of LBD. That is why I talk about Lewy.

So, I do talk about LBD when I get a chance. I write about it. I am doing my small part to bring light to the disease for all those people who are out there dealing with it. I am only one, but sometimes one is enough.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Permanent Reminders - Adventure #8

Over the last eight months I have opened my life to experience more of this world by trying new things. I have been learning about the world and about myself through this process. One thing I have learned is to never say never! There are things that I have said I would never do and in August I did one of those things.

My sister began the conversation with, “Hear me out.” She knew what my first reaction was going to be when she announced that she had an adventure for me. Since my adventures have only included her once before, I was excited that she wanted to join in. So, I heard her out.

“Let’s get tattoos.”

“Teri, you know how I feel about tattoos – “

“Hear me out. Let’s get tattoos of ladybugs as a permanent reminder of Mom.”

Okay, now I was listening and softening. See since Mom died in October last year ladybugs have been a seemingly ever present reminder of her.

It started when I began to search for family stories and funny stories to pass the hours with Mom. As Lewy Body Dementia took more of her she was unable to do much. We all tried to relieve her boredom with pictures and stories.

Dad always a man of few words; often said he ran out of things to talk about. He just couldn’t talk on and on, but he knew I could so he enlisted me to help. Teri often said my job was to act goofy and make Mom laugh. Acting goofy; also something I could do.

I reached out to family and friends to beef up my reservoir of interesting and funny stories. My aunt Connie told me a story of hers and Jim’s anniversary. They were heading to the casinos in French Lick, IN and my aunts (my Mom has five wonderful, wacky sisters) decided to give Connie their good luck charms. Connie wrote, “I ended up with two nuts, a rock and I would have had a dead ladybug, but Cheryl went to kiss it for good luck. She laughed so hard she snuffed it up her nose.”

That story was a winner. Mom laughed every time I told it. We often talked about Cheryl’s ladybug habit and laughed. The great thing about my aunts is they never minded that I used their crazy antics to make Mom laugh.

Shortly after Mom died I was talking to my brother on the phone and he told me there were ladybugs all over the side of his house. He had never seen so many ladybugs in one place. I reminded him of the story and told him I thought this was our sign that Mom was happy and laughing again in heaven. She was once again whole, healthy and happy.

Since that time ladybugs have appeared in all of our lives at one time or another. Tom had several living in his house. My niece found some in her apartment and crawling across her foot once. Tom and I both have found them on the 9th and 6th floors of the office buildings we work in. The ladybugs are everywhere and so when we see them we smile and think of Mom.

When Teri suggested ladybug tattoos I couldn’t resist. The fact that my 13 year old niece drew the ladybugs was another plus.

We weren’t sure what Dad would think about the tattoos, but when I said I could see Mom there in heaven shaking her head, grinning, and saying “I don’t know where I went wrong with those two” Dad couldn’t help but laugh.

Teri found a great tattoo place and we visited to make sure it was clean and reputable. Our artist was a sweet guy named Mike. We felt comfortable and set up our appointments. This definitely wasn’t a get drunk and get a tattoo endeavor.

Teri got hers first while I was at a concert on a Saturday night. She sent me pictures and texts after it was all over. One text said, “It’s all over. The pain is excruciating. T (her 13 year old) is driving home.” I began to have second thoughts. She, of course, was kidding and I only had a few moments of thinking, “What the heck am I doing!?!”
My time came on Tuesday evening. T went with me for moral support since Teri was working. It was a little nerve wracking. The thought of needles permanently altering my leg was scary and I began to wonder if I had truly lost my mind.

The pain WAS excruciating and I felt as if my foot was being amputated. Just kidding! It was really no more painful than those shots the dentist gives. I had three little ladybugs inked on my right ankle. The whole process took about 20 minutes.

Now the ladybugs will be with me forever. As a little old lady I will look at my ankle and think of Mom. Will I get another tattoo? Doubtful! But I have experienced a little more this world has to offer and won’t ever be able to forget this adventure!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

Do you remember the day, where you were when you heard, how you felt? This question has been asked many times in many forms since that September day in 2001.

I was on my way to work when I heard the news report. I was stunned and wondered how a pilot could make such an error. When I heard the reports of the second plane hitting the other tower I was in disbelief. That day was somewhat surreal. My employees were looking for comfort and understanding. One woman’s mom brought in their TV and set it up in our break room. I found myself wandering back there throughout the day as did everyone else in the office.

The country pulled together at the time. I believe it was instinctual. I have seen it at times when someone loses a loved one. The need to be around others is human nature. The need to have someone to lean on is fierce.

I remember the weeks after the attacks. For those of us at a distance from the tragedies life began to return to normal. Almost normal. I live in the flight path of the local airport. It was eerie to not hear those planes overhead as they left the airport. The skies were silent. I have grown up in a time when plane travel is somewhat routine and so not having planes in the sky was definitely strange. We went back to our lives, but are more hesitant. We are not as trusting as we once were.

Despite the fact that much has changed since those days I have to wonder if we are really different. The sentiments of righteous indignation that was prevalent in the days after the attacks have been replaced by dissension over the war. We get frustrated with the security measures put in place after 9/11/01. I think some of us forget how much we lost on that day. Life has gone on for some of us and we don’t think of it, until the day rolls around each year. Some, though, can’t forget; they were there and experienced it firsthand, they lost loved ones, they have been to Iraq or Afghanistan or have sent a loved one. They are haunted every day.

Tomorrow is 9/11/08. Tomorrow we remember and we hope. Tomorrow we grieve for all that was lost. Tomorrow let’s remember how much we need each other. Tomorrow let’s pray something like this never happens again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

8 Random Things

So, it's been a while since I blogged, but when I saw this post by my buddy Julie over at The Surrendered Scribe it sounded like fun so here I am posting 8 Random Things About Me.

1. I was bribed by a nun in first grade and kicked out of choir by a nun in seventh grade.

2. I used to open my Christmas presents before Christmas and rewrap them. My siblings say I opened theirs also. I have no memory of opening theirs!

3. I scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins to put myself through college.

4. I jokingly tell people I am multilingual, but the truth is I know a few words in Turkish, German, Spanish, Latin and French. I don’t yet speak any of them fluently.

5. I have a weird, illogical fear of certain plants.

6. I have five crazy aunts (love ya Kathy, Karen, Mary, Cheryl and Janice!) and believe that every child needs at least one crazy aunt while growing up. I, alone, fill that role for my six nieces and nephews!

7. As one of my Facebook flair buttons says, “People who don’t know me think I am quiet; those who do know me wish I was.”

8. I just finished my Apprentice Course through the Christian Writer’s Guild.

What about you? Will you join me and post 8 Random Things about yourself!?!

Friday, August 15, 2008

If I Had A Hammer - Adventure #7

“If I had a hammer….I’d hammer out love between my brother and sisters, all over this land.” These words from a song by Lee Hayes and Pete Seeger have been running through my head on and off for the last few weeks. Years ago I worked down the hall from a Habitat for Humanity office. I walked by that office each day and finally decided to volunteer. I filled out the application, but was never called as a volunteer.

In June Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity ran an ad in the local paper. I decided to try again so I filled out the application and submitted it online. By the next day I was registered to attend an orientation session the following Saturday. So began my July adventure!

A lot of people think that former President Jimmy Carter founded Habitat because he has been a visible face of Habitat for so many years. However, the organization was actually founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. ( Since then Habitat has built over 250,000 homes! According to the web site “it is the mission of Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity to follow the example of Jesus Christ by providing simple, decent places to live for families who cannot afford a home by conventional means, through building and rehabilitating houses in partnership with the community and prospective homeowners.”

Future Habitat home owners have a tough road ahead of them. They have to qualify by meeting financial and need based guidelines. They work with volunteers who walk them through the process which includes financial and credit counseling. Then they have to fulfill sweat equity hours before moving into their house. That means they actually have to go out to the build site and help construct their house! Habitat holds the mortgage on all Habitat houses. The loans are thirty no interest loans with fixed payments. These families who move into Habitat houses are active participants in every step of the way.

When I first talked about becoming a Habitat volunteer I am sure my friends and family wondered if I had lost my mind. I have worked only office jobs in my adult life. In my free time I sit at a computer and write. I was probably the last person some would think of as a home builder. In fact, my nephew Jeff when I asked him if he could see me building houses responded, “Yeah, but not safe, sturdy ones.” Then when I told him I got to use power tools his comment was, “How did no one lose a limb?” Good thing I love ya, Jeff!

I participated in my first build in July and yes, they did let me use power tools. It was a warm, sunny Saturday morning when about 15 people gathered to work on a house. The foundation had been poured and our job that morning was to remove the forms the cement foundation was poured in. I may not have all the lingo right, after all I am a writer, not a home builder. So, I unscrewed and pried off two by fours. Then we helped to carry the two by fours up the hill to load in a truck for carting to the next location.

As the sun beat down that day I was able to work alongside the young man whose family would move into the house we worked on. I also met the young couple who were moving into the completed house next door when their sweat equity was done. And, I got to participate in a blessing ceremony with the single mom and her two sons who would move into another house that was just getting started. It was truly a great thing to meet the people who would benefit from my sweat and labor.

I was asked that morning why I was there. I became a home owner a few years ago after years of renting apartments. My house is nothing special. It’s just a small townhouse in a nice neighborhood, but it’s mine. I have been blessed in my life and by volunteering a few hours each month I can help others be blessed by home ownership.

Volunteering was an adventure that will continue since I plan to volunteer each month with Habitat. As I do, I will learn more about home construction and help others in the community. I have a hammer and I am sharing the love Christ has given me with my brothers and sisters all over the land, well, at least all over the city!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bringing Home Kitty - Adventure #6

Here it is July already and I haven’t posted about my June Adventure! Decided it was high time I did that.

This is my new fur child! His name is Wilson and he is three years old. I adopted him from the PetProject pet rescue on June 7. You can check them out at

Wilson caught my attention because in his adoption photo he was stretching one arm up toward the camera as if saying, “Oh, oh, oh, pick me, pick me!” I couldn’t resist!

We had a dog, Pepper, while growing up….got him a few weeks before my youngest sister came along and he stayed with us until he developed cancer at the age of 18. As an adult I have never had a pet of my own. I tell people that my Snowflake Teddy is the best pet a girl could have. He’s sweet and soft and doesn’t eat much…when I offer food, he tells me he’s stuffed!

I have pet sat many times over the years for friends and family. Once I was going to pet sit for a coworker’s new puppy. Turns out it was the puppy, the turtle, the fish and the ferret. When she described the ferret as furry snake with legs she sealed its fate of remaining in the cage the whole week they were gone. I fed and watered it, but didn’t want to play with the snake with legs.

Feeling adventurous after sitting with my niece’s kitty over Memorial Day weekend I began to look for a kitty of my own. My sister sent me to the PetProject site and that is when I found Wilson. His name was Barker and when I first saw him he was being looked at by another family so I thought it wasn’t meant to be. Two weeks later his picture was still on the web site so I sent an email and found he was still available. All it took was one look and one time holding him in my arms to know that he needed to come home with me.

The PetProject folks were wonderful with the whole process. They helped me pick out some food for him since he seemed to have some food allergies. They seemed to really like Wilson and both had to pet him and say their goodbyes when we left.

When I brought him home I had to change his name to Wilson. For those of you readers who may not know, I am a Tom Hanks fan(atic!) Wilson was the name of his best friend on the island he was stranded on in the movie “Castaway.” That is where I got Wilson’s name. Since I liked Barker also, I named him Wilson Barker.

Wilson is a sweet and loving kitty. He loves to play with his toys and I find myself spoiling him with new toys frequently! Right now he is sound asleep on the dining room chair. He knows he’s not allowed on the table but he seems very content to sleep on the chairs.

I now have a very fuzzy little alarm clock. If my alarm goes off more than a couple times (so not a morning person and it is a frequent occurrence for my alarm to ring multiple times in the morning) he will make sure I get up. He begins to walk across my chest. Then he will rub against my face and walk around my head making sure to step on my hair. He will continue this until I get up and get him some breakfast.

Wilson fits in well at my house. We share some of the same interests. He is quite the literary kitty. He loves books and newspapers. He would rather sleep on a book than in the kitty bed I bought for him. I have to remember to pick up the newspaper off the floor and coffee table because he will burrow down in it and go to sleep. The problem is he gets newsprint all over his white paws and belly!

He is a kitty who shares my shoe fetish. If he isn’t sleeping on a book, you can find him snuggling up with any shoes I happen to leave lying around. The bedroom closet intrigues him because the floor of it is currently covered with shoes…yes, it is time for a closet clean out and a trip to Goodwill!

Getting used to being responsible for someone other than me has been an adventure this month. It has meant thinking twice about my schedule since I need to make sure he gets fed and isn’t alone all day long for days at a time. It has meant double checking any food I give him to make sure it doesn’t have wheat or beef in it since he doesn’t react well to those items. And it has meant finding places for my Peace Lily and Pothos plants that he can’t get to since both are poisonous to kitties. Thankfully he has learned that the piano, bookcases, dining table and kitchen counters are no kitty zones.

Still, despite the changes required in my life to accommodate Wilson, I am very glad I took the plunge. He is now a part of my family and he is loved!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Can Fly!!!

In the words of Peter Pan, “I can fly!” For a very long time now I have had the desire to fly. It began with a yearning to learn to fly planes. Then skydiving piqued my interest. For years now I have been planning to skydive; it is after all cheaper than taking flying lessons.

Skydiving is on the calendar for sometime in August this year. In my quest for adventure and new experiences this year I have decided it was time. Still, at the end of May I was able to get a little taste of not only skydiving, but the freedom of floating on air.

Most people have never heard of indoor skydiving. I hadn’t either when I received an email from a friend. Maggie had been invited to a birthday party but wasn’t able to make it. She suggested to the birthday girl that I take her place. Ironically enough birthday girl and I work for the same company as Maggie does and had never met. The company isn’t that large, I just work in a remote office and so our paths haven’t crossed. Christina was very gracious and let me crash her birthday party. “The more the merrier,” she said! Thanks, Christina, it was one of the most fun birthday parties I have ever been to!

Skyventure is located in Lone Tree, Colorado. According to the web site ( this is “a 12 foot, recirculating 1200 HP wind tunnel.” According to me it is just a big barrel of fun!

Our adventure began with a lesson in flying. This short video showed us the proper body position. We also learned hand signals since hearing the instructor inside the tunnel was virtually impossible. Our main form of communication involved signals to bend or straighten our legs, chin up, and relax. However, once I was in the tunnel it took me a while to be able to relax and remember what the signals meant.

During our instructions we were told to take everything out of our pockets and to take off our jewelry. Derrick, our instructor, told us he had a flyer who didn’t believe him when he said if it was in your pockets it would be sucked out once in the tunnel. Apparently this man had about $500 in twenty dollar bills that he didn’t want to part with. He kept them zippered in a pocket inside his jumpsuit; that is until he got into the chamber. The bills were sucked out and sent flying around the wind tunnel. I decided not to test it for myself and took my earrings and necklace off.

We were then suited up in jumpsuits that covered us from neck to ankle. We were given helmets, ear plugs and goggles. Then it was time to make our way into the wind tunnel. The tunnel is an octagonal shaped room with a small room along one side for the flyers to wait their turn. The floor is a metal mesh net and beneath it we could see the equipment that helped power the tunnel. There are two doors, one for entering and one for exiting the tunnel. The chamber is about 12 feet in diameter and I would guess about 15 feet high (at least in the space we were flying in.)

When it was my turn for my first flight I approached the door, brought my arms to my chest and raised my chin. The raised chin was important for helping control flight, but it also was a great reminder to look around and enjoy the experience. I leaned into the chamber and began to move into the proper flying position. Thankfully Derrick was in the chamber with each of us to help because I promptly forgot everything I had learned in our training session.

With his help I was able to experience some flight. That first time though I had a lot of trouble controlling myself. I have to laugh because Derrick was very expressive with his hand signals as he emphatically gave me the sign to relax over and over. I have always had trouble relaxing my muscles like normal people! Toward the end I did get a little better and began to enjoy myself.

The second minute in the chamber I did much better, but still have a way to go before I can really control my own flight. I got to experience some true flight and was really beginning to like it. Then in the last few seconds Derrick grabbed hold of the handles on my jump suit and the instructor in the control booth turned up the air. With Derrick’s help we rose and then descended spinning round over and over. This was sheer ecstasy! I could have stayed there forever soaring and spinning! All too soon the flight was over and it was time to get out.

Indoor skydiving was an awesome time and has totally fueled my desire to do the real thing soon! I also came away with an important lesson for life. No matter what happens, keep your chin up and relax!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm going to share a little secret with you all. I am a daddy's girl. Yes, it's true, have been as long as I can remember.

My earliest memories are from the time when we lived in Izmir, Turkey. I was about 3 years old, let's just say it was sometime in the 60s and leave it at that. I remember the games my brother and I used to play. I remember when my sister came along I was reluctant to let her have the crib. I remember playing on our fourth floor balcony and watching the Turkish world go by below.

I also remember a Saturday or Sunday morning helping Mom in the kitchen. She gave me the orange juice can to throw away. It bugged me that the lid was still partially attached to the can so I decided to twist it off before throwing it away. In the process I sliced my finger. This would be the first of many finger slicings in the kitchen for me.

Mom took me to the emergency room that morning while Dad stayed home with Tom and Tina. I remember the ER doctor telling me that I now had a spider on my finger where he put the stitches and that I should tell my daddy about my spider. I even remember going home and sitting in my Daddy?s lap and showing him my spider.

Growing up the thing I remember most about Dad is how hard he worked and yet still found time for his family. He was the first man in my life and he has set the bar high.

Dad always taught me (and my siblings) to work hard at whatever we decided to do. Truth is this was a lesson both Mom and Dad instilled in us. This has served me well over the years. Of course, I often tell Dad it?s his fault that I have to work so hard. He instilled that darn work ethic in me!

My Dad is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He doesn?t have many degrees or initials to put behind his name, but he still knows a lot! He worked many years taking classes one at a time to finish his bachelor's degree. Dad knows more than any degree could have taught him.

When I bought my first car he went along. I had picked out the car I wanted and I had fallen in love already. We sat with the finance person at the dealership and they quoted a monthly payment amount. All I heard was the amount and knew it was double what I could afford. Dad on the other hand said, "That's 23% interest. She is not paying that!" I was stunned; he knew the sticker amount and was able to do the math so quickly to come up with the percentage rate. I drove away that night in the car I wanted and had a manageable monthly payment with a reasonable interest rate.

Over the years as I have had to make decisions about financial matters, home ownership and other important happenings I tend to consult my Daddy first. He is my financial planner and my sounding board for these decisions. He can fix just about anything. Over the years I have called on him many times. I remember calling him one morning and telling him, "My car is deader than Elvis!" He came from work. It was bitterly cold out. Dressed in a suit with a nice trench coat over the top to try to keep warm he jump started my car so I could go to work also.

He has been called to help with floods in the laundry room and broken laundry room doors. When my front window leaked he came and fixed that before I realized it should have been fixed by the homeowners association.

I think Dad is a teacher at heart. While he is always quick to help, he is also quick to teach so that I can be self sufficient.

When I was sixteen and eager to have the freedom that driving allows, I wasn't able to take the car on my own until I knew how to change a tire. That came in handy with that first car I had; it was forever having flat tires and I changed my own tires in a variety of weather circumstances. I also had to learn how to change the oil. I didn't have to change my own oil, but Dad wanted me to understand the process.

Dad is a largely self taught computer geek. When I was first learning computers he helped me learn. Still, he was quick to ask, "Did you read the book?" when I call with a question.

My Dad tells great stories from his growing up years. He once drove home with bubble gum in his tire because the tire had developed a leak and the bubblegum was all he had to fix it. Recently he told me of working for my maternal grandfather during the summers. He says his mom wasn't happy with the fact that Grandpa gave him beer, but Grandpa's thought was if Daddy was going to work like a man, he should drink like a man also.

My maternal grandmother told me a story about how Dad was showing her how indestructible the coffee mugs he was selling from the dairy truck were. He threw the mug against the summer kitchen and it broke into many pieces. He said, "Hmmm, it's not supposed to do that."

Last summer he told me the story of his and Mom's first date. That became a blog entry. You can find it back in the archives for July 2007.

I think of all the things that amaze me about my Dad is his unconditional love for his family. This has been so very evident in the last ten years while Mom was struggling with Lewy Body Dementia. As she began to have problems he stepped in, quietly, without a big fuss. He did what needed to be done.

As Mom could do less and less for herself Dad put everything in his world on hold and did for Mom. He searched for ways to keep her comfortable, happy and secure. I remember him giving her a doll because she never really had one as a child. He brought her flowers, stuffed animals; anything he thought would make her smile.

He bought movies and videos he thought she would like. He read to her, comforted her, and walked the floor with her at night when she couldn't sleep. Even when Lewy caused Mom to be angry at Dad he kept his cool and kept going. He knew it wasn't Mom, but Lewy at those times. I know that it must have torn his heart out to see this happening to his sweetheart, but he never gave up. He kept her safe and happy until the end. Now that Mom has passed away Daddy still keeps giving to her. He chose a beautiful grave stone and he makes regular visits to her grave. He chooses silk flowers that she would like and that reflect the season or holiday.

My Dad is an amazing man. I could go on for a long time about all that I have learned from him.

I am a Daddy's girl! I am not ashamed to admit it. I can't imagine life with any other Daddy 'cause mine is truly the best.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Blog Site

Hello RockyMountainWriter fans,

Welcome to my new site! I am trying out some new sites to see which one best suits what I want to do with my blog.

I am still working on the details of Blogger, like how to import my blog from my old site. Bear with me as I learn some new stuff

Let me know what you think!

The Rocky Mountain Writer

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008 - The Year of Living Adventurously

So, here it is a new year and I see I have been remiss in my blogging. If any of my readers are still out there, hang with me, it's gonna get better!!!

Several years ago an email conversation with a friend led me to think about my life and what I wanted to remember at the end of this life. As I thought about opportunities I had been given and had passed up for one reason or another I realized I didn't want to have too many more of those. There is so much to see, do, and learn about this planet we call home.

That year I made a goal for the New Year to try at least one new thing each month. I wanted to experience and learn new things. I didn't quite make my goal that year, but I did have a few memorable experiences. That was the year I began the Christian Writer's Guild program. Also that year I learned to throw pots. No, I didn't pull up anybody's toilet and chuck it across the room, I made clay pots. Those two activities alone have given me great memories, a web site, a book to write and a several lopsided clay pots!

This year I have decided it is time to dust off that goal and make it anew. I have dubbed 2008 "The Year of Living Adventurously." My friend, Renee, has joined me in this goal. Each month we are going to try something new. I may find it's not something I ever want to do again. Then again, it may be something that I love and will continue with. Each month I plan on chronicling my adventures right here on the Rocky Mountain Writer web site.

My first adventure of 2008 involved an ice rink, tape covering the tread of my left shoe, a broom, a 42 pound granite stone and plenty of aching muscles the next day. Welcome to the world of curling!

Renee was enthralled with curling at the last winter Olympics. I had never seen it played and didn�t really understand the whole concept. Yet when I opened the newspaper one day and saw that the Broadmoor Curling Club ( was going to hold a "Learn to Curl" night that week I knew we had our January Adventure.

Curling is believed to have begun in Scotland around the 14th century. It is played on a sheet of ice 146 feet long. I thought it was named curling because we would be curled in bed with sore muscles the next day, but it actually was named curling because of the motion of the stone as it slides down the ice.

We began by having the shoe on our non-dominant foot taped with clear plastic tape. This was our slider foot. After a brief overview of the sport we stepped out on the ice taking care to step with our non-taped foot first to prevent slipping and falling on our back sides!

Situated against the wall of the ice rink we learned to slide by squatting and placing our dominant foot against the wall. Using the broom in our non-dominant hand to balance we slid with our slider leg bent and the dominant leg stretched out behind us. Easy enough. Not!! Thankfully, I managed to not do a face plant on the ice while practicing, although I did take multiple spills.

Once we had mastered, well sort of, sliding we added the stone. This 42 pound piece of granite is smooth and round with a handle on the top. Grasping the handle in our dominant hand we then learned to slide with the stone. After several minutes of this we were allowed to let our stones go at the end of the slide.

When our instructors felt we were ready, we moved away from the wall and used supports called hacks that are planted in the ice. We placed our pushing foot against the hack to start our slide.

Once the stone has been released two sweepers run down the ice in front of it and sweep the ice in front to keep the stone moving or behind to slow it down. The object is to hit the bulls eye shaped "house" and to be the closest to the center.

Each team has four players and each player throws two stones. At the end of the throwing whoever's stone is closest to the center wins the point for their team. Actually, scoring is a little more complicated. However, by the time we got to scoring we had been on the ice for two hours and my feet were frozen and cramping. I didn't get much of the scoring discussion!

Overall, it was a fun and enjoyable evening. Renee and I had some good laughs. The next day I was hobbling around like a little old lady. I think I might need to find activities that use the muscles in my legs more! I so wanted to document our first adventure with pictures, but I waited until the end to try to take pictures and the cold in the rink rendered the batteries in my camera useless. Oh well :-)

Our adventures will continue. Who knows what it will be next; climbing a rock wall, learning a new language, trying yoga, or skydiving. Actually, skydiving is on the list for May or June! My cousin, Jay, has tried it and said it was a blast. I have always wanted to try it despite a fear of heights and have since found out that Renee and my friend Maggie want to join me.

You, dear reader, are welcome to join me also for any of my adventures. Whether you come and join in physically or in spirit by reading my blog let's celebrate a year of living adventurously!