It has been raining on and off all week. That puts more than a little damper into our plans. There is flooding. (We’re fine, but there have been road closings just 10 minutes north of us.) Power has been a little unstable. (I haven’t had long outages, but there have been several rounds of reset the clock.) My allergies, especially mold, have been acting up.
The part that’s hard is that Orion and I had weekend plans that involved being outdoors. The weekend was actually mostly quite lovely. The sky cleared, the sun peeped out it was pleasantly cool, but not cold. All things that make for a great time in the outdoors. Unless you are in a wheelchair.
I struggle to push Orion when we’re “off roading” under the best of circumstances. When the ground is firm, when there aren’t a lot of fallen obstacles or rocks, when the grass is short, when he could push himself for at least a short distance that’s ideal. This weekend, given the amount of rain, was not going to be ideal and could be really horrible.
We skipped through several versions of our plans. We did make an appearance at the Richardson Nature Center. They had an event called Party in the Park. Most of the party was spread out into the park, and not accessible. I got help from a stranger to go up a small hill. We visited the bee keeping exhibit inside. We played with a bull snake, made a seed bomb, and had some sumac popcorn from the Tatanka Truck. Then I was done in.
Our “time in nature” was mostly spent shopping at the co-op. Even there we didn’t load up as much as we often do. Prices are high and the budget is not.
I ended the week on a note of gratitude. We did a ritual for the harvest season. There is a lot of bounty in my world, even if I don’t have full access. It’s good to take some time out to recognize what I do have, to be grateful.
Equinoxes are about balance. It’s the time where the amount of daylight equals the amount of night. The reminder of the season has me working on balance as well. I’ve finally gotten the internet back (knock on wood) and I’m actively trying not to let it absorb all of my time and attention.
I’ve written about balance, and about the fall equinox, many times before this. Sometimes lessons seem like the same things over and over again. But for me the reminders really do help. I still need to be reminded that balance is active, not static. One of the best ways for me to get that visceral understanding is to get on a boat.
Balance is about making sure that the list of things I need to do also includes time for my relationships. I am really bad about initiating contact, making the phone calls, checking in without a schedule. I also forget how much I need that interchange. I need to take time for the good conversations (and the hard ones). I thrive on sharing stories, information, lessons learned and lessons that we are still struggling to incorporate into our daily lives.
Balance is about finding time in between getting dinner on the table and earning enough money to pay the bills so that the floor gets swept and the laundry put away. Balance is about watering the plants, but not too much. It’s about bringing in the tomatoes before they rot on the vine and about drying the peppers before they go to mold.
In such a politically volatile climate balance is finding a way to be of service without overloading. It is about being firm and honest, and still polite. It’s not just the election. It’s the pipeline. It’s the nurses strike. It’s Black Lives Matter. It’s all the shootings, stabbings and bombings. Sometimes it is about shutting out Facebook (the wifi in your home going down is a really effective means of taking a break from the mudslinging).
Balance is about getting enough sleep. (I’ve had too many late night/early mornings in the last month!) It’s about taking the time for real food. (I’m pretty good about that, it’s just that I also try and do 6 other things while I’m eating it.) It’s about being in the moment. Sometimes that means writing things down so that you don’t have to hold them until you need them. Sometimes it means remembering to bring that grocery list with you when you go to the store.
So today I’m filling this blog with photos from sailing with friends. We need more “time out in nature” in our busy lives. We need to enjoy and appreciate our friends. We need to remember balance is active (like being on a boat) not static (like sitting on the ground). Have a happy Equinox!
Previous Fall Equinox posts:
So you haven’t seen a post in awhile and this one is coming in late. It’s all (well maybe not all, but a lot!) because of internet woes. My internet went out before Labor Day. So I couldn’t post about my trip to the fair. They worked all week on the lines in the neighborhood and got it back up and running.
By that point I was on my way out the door and up north to visit my parents over Labor Day. I would have written about hanging out with Rick Nolan at the parade and attending the Union Labor Day Picnic, but my folks have never had the internet. No matter how much we whine, they never will.
That’s alright. I should get Labor Day off anyway. Besides Pagan Pride was this weekend. Except I had a nasty sinus headache and so we didn’t go, despite perfect weather. Late in the afternoon I felt enough better to mow the lawn (can’t blame the internet on that, but it’s been put off for just as long). Of course that set off the sinuses once more.
It seems it’s always something. Orion and I are sitting at the coffee shop while I write this. My least favorite place to write. He’s struggling with the lighting. His vision impairment makes that a significant factor in his computer usage.
I guess if it’s not one thing it’s another. I just need to keep working with the cards I’m dealt. They won’t be out to even try and fix the internet until Friday. Cross your fingers for a blog post next week!
It seems like one week I have too much to write about and the next week not enough. I spend one week on the phone making appointments and the next week going to them.
This last week I spent a lot of time on the phone making one appointment. Orion was due for a check-up with the neurosurgeon. This is a complicated appointment because it requires us first to visit radiology for a CT scan and X-rays and then to review them, and whatever ongoing care plan, with the doctor. And – It’s neurosurgery.
It doesn’t really matter which days the doctor is scheduled to do surgery and which days he’s scheduled to be in the office. When something comes up, it’s probably a priority. Of course the hospital doesn’t have an Operating Room dedicated just to head trauma so schedules jiggle all over the place.
Thankfully, I don’t have to orchestrate the whole thing. That’s the job of the doctor’s scheduling secretary. I made the initial appointment by calling her and suggesting which days wouldn’t work for me. Then she called me back and gave me a time, knowing she’d have to confirm it with radiology. She said she’d call me back if there were any changes.
Three times this week she called me back.
I know people’s appointments have moved for us plenty of times in the last 28 years. (Orion’s first neurosurgery was in December of 1988). It’s nice to be the ones who are NOT in a hurry to see the doctor. It’s been years since we’ve been in and these are people we’ve had a relationship with all of Orion’s life.
Everything is hunky-dory. Orion is stable. His scans look almost exactly the same as they did 3 years ago. I don’t look the same of course. The PA didn’t recognize me coming in with Orion until she turned face to face with me to explain the scan. The weight loss really is that dramatic, and she’s never seen me at this weight (although the doctor has). She’s going back to school for her doctorate this year. We’re going to try and squeeze lunch into the scheduling drama the next time we come in.
I also asked the doctor the unspeakable question. What are we going to do when he retires? Thankfully he’s still healthy and able. He’s not planning to retire any time soon. He hopes to continue working well into his 70’s. One of his regular consultants (an infectious disease specialist I have a respectfully contentious relationship with) intends to continue working into his 80’s.
That may seem odd, but for me it’s actually very reassuring. It’s hard to find good doctors and we have been a team on Orion’s behalf for a very long time. When you are doing something you love, something that’s challenging, it keeps you vital. Over the years I’ve seen first hand how devoted this doctor is to his work and his patients. Nice to know it hasn’t gotten old.
I spent several days last week out sick with a summer cold. You know the kind you tell yourself is allergies until you can no longer deny you’re miserable through and through. As I’ve just past the two-year anniversary of my bariatric surgery, this was another opportunity to really notice how much has changed.
For starters, yes I was sick enough to not go to Gilda’s club. People dealing with cancer are often immune suppressed. They didn’t need to be exposed to whatever I was carrying. The decision to “tough it out” or not was a no brainer. What that meant is that I was taking care of myself from the beginning of the cold, rather than waiting until it totally knocked me on my ass to acknowledge it.
Then there’s the odd thing that happens with bariatric surgery and stomach flu. My whole body felt like I should be laying on the bathroom floor. But I wasn’t. In fact I never got that kind of sick. The physiology just doesn’t work that way anymore. What an odd feeling, especially for someone whose history is that once I got started I didn’t stop. No sore abdominal muscles. No cramps. No dehydration. No shear exhaustion from all that effort. More energy to apply to feeling better.
And most importantly there are all the things I did manage to get done last week. Orion got dressed, bathed, on and off the bus and fed regularly. Time cards got delivered, groceries were bought. I had my allergy shots. Orion had injections as well, and a tune up of his wheelchair and AFO’s. We had lunch and a visit with friends. I found time to do dinner with a friend. I had coffee with another, along with a walk to and tour Gilda’s Club – several blocks down the hill, and back up again.
There was laundry that got done, including bedding from our camping trip. There was a night the power went out, and all the clocks are set back where they belong. There was no “recovering” from our road trip to South Dakota. There is no feeling that I need another week to “catch up”.
Two years ago, last week would have looked like a “super mom” week. It would have taken me almost week to recover from a schedule like that in my “best health”. I couldn’t have imagined doing all that right after returning from a road trip camping with Orion, even without the summer cold!
People still ask me if I have any regrets for making the decision to have by-pass surgery. It hasn’t been all roses, but if I look at what I can do now that I couldn’t dream of doing then all I can feel is grateful.
Orion and I got home late last night and I have photos to sort through this morning. So a late posted blog because I have to tell you what we’ve been up to.
We took a weekend trip out to the pink rock country. We visited Pipestone and Sioux Falls. As you know this year my women’s group each adopted a diorama from the Bell Museum. One of those diorama’s was of Pipestone.
Our adventure began by stepping into the diorama.
The tall grass prairie is in bloom at this time of year. Several of the exhibits at the National Park talk about the herbology of the Native Americans in the area. This is buffalo country, but the only one’s we saw were statues.
The Sioux Quartzite formations are very dramatic. They are full of fissures and faces. Towering above us they still embrace us, like sitting in a circle of elders.
This site is sacred to many different tribal nations, and that sacred ground is very apparent. Walking under the cliffs has the feel of being in a cathedral. The stones sing, as does the river that runs through the site.
Only registered Native Americans from tribes that historically mined the area are allowed to quarry the pipestone. They still do it by hand, with respect to the land. The quarries sometimes collapse or fill with water. There are families who spend years coming out to Pipestone to reclaim quarries that have fallen. Tending these sites is like a gift to the ancestors and descendants. It is sacred work.
We got to talk with some of the pipestone carvers, who work doing demonstrations at the Information Center. Carving is also a generational skill. Travis Erickson has been carving most of his life. He also saves the pipestone dust from his carving and makes a resin in which he embeds sacred herbs (like flat cedar). He turns these into amulets also for sale at the museum shop.
We spent the night at Palisades State Park in South Dakota. Our hostess reserved cabins so we didn’t have too much haul and carry. The cabins were not “accessible” but manageable and comfortable, especially since I had help. We had perfect weather, a late night watching the Perseid meteor shower, and breakfast on the cabin deck. Orion and I didn’t go walking through the park (except the hike to the bathrooms) but some of my friends did and judging from their stories there are some wonderful spots.
Sunday we spent in Sioux Falls. We went visiting family (not mine, but it’s always fun to meet my friend’s parents) and gawking about town. Apparently Pokemon Go functions as a guidebook to interesting sites. We found many in Sioux Falls, and made a point to visit a few. We went to see some of the sculptures on the Augustana College campus. We drove down the sculpture walk and of course spent some time at the falls.
Sioux Falls runs over pink rock, but here it’s not pipestone but quartzite. The falls powered a mill early in the development of the city. The ruins (it burned down) form some of the park structure. Again, we couldn’t have asked for a prettier Sunday afternoon. Of course the park was full of people and I wasn’t getting the wheelchair out climbing on the rocks. We did find a spot where we could stand in the spray of the falls and that was refreshing.
I skipped my blog last week. No notice. No excuses. No nothing. Just didn’t write.
I hit that overwhelmed point. I had things to say. Too many things it seems. I couldn’t find a focus. I couldn’t find a focus in the rest of my life either. I missed a doctor’s appointment. I discovered I hadn’t gotten in my time card when no check came in the mail. I had laundry (and water) in the basement. I had boxes (empty) all over the house. I was a mess.
In all fairness, I’m probably still a mess, but it’s getting better. I got out the calendar and started writing things down (rather than relying solely on the cell phone, which seems to drop appointments for no good reason.) I let go of an obligation that was the “one thing too many” that sent me on this spiral. I got the boxes out of the middle of the living room and into a “staging area” so I can fill them one at a time and put them back.
I’m working on my sleep schedule. At least I’m sleeping, even if the hours are still a little odd. I’m putting away laundry and watering the poor, sad plants. I had my corn for Lammas* and decided I am not in a hurry to dig out the harvest season decorations. I’m trying to be kind to myself – one step at a time.
Last week I got a notification from WordPress saying “Happy Fifth Blogging Anniversary!” My goodness, has it really been that long? I spent some time this last week wondering if I was done, if I needed a serious blogging break. I decided that I’m still good, as long as my readers will forgive an occasional dropped post like last week.
Having a weekly blog is one of my touch points in a rather unstructured life. I need those now and again. Once a week is not so high pressure I can’t handle it. It’s not so infrequent it doesn’t matter. It holds me accountable to take time to reflect on my life, my choices, my spirituality, my vision. Those are good things.
So, dear reader, I may be a mess but if you’ll still have me I’ll still be around on Mondays.
*Previous Lammas posts:
Part of the theme for my women’s group this year is wildlife. Some of the women are exploring totemic relationships, some are looking at environment and biosphere, some are looking at social interactions within the species. It’s all been interesting and there have been lots of field trips – including the one to visit my parents.
This weekend we took another trip, a little closer to town. We went to the Wildlife Science Center just north of the Twin Cities. We arranged for a private tour so we got to spend a lot of time talking about the animals.
The Wildlife Science Center specializes in canids. They have several different species of wolves, several of them endangered. They have served as a research center and training area for wolf behavior, conservation, and preservation. They have “rescued” many of their animals from closing zoos and from people who thought they’d make good pets.
Because they focus on canid behavior, visitors can bring their dogs (leashed and vaccinated). We didn’t bring any of ours along, but heard a lot from our tour guide about why this is helpful. Most of the animals here are hard-wired to protect their territories from other canids. In the enclosures they become accustomed to the other wolves around them and the territory lines are rarely challenged. However, visiting dogs provide the same stimulus of challenging a territory.
There are other animals that have made their way to the Wildlife Science Center as well. Mittens the cougar will stalk the smaller dogs that come to visit. So will the coyotes. We were told that occasionally a goose (or other local animal) will make it’s way into a pen. The ensuing interactions are also fascinating and educational.
The Wildlife Science Center was originally a DNR project, and is situated on leased DNR land. In the early 90’s when funding stopped the current director was faced with the task of euthanizing all the animals. Rather than do that she created the non-profit organization that the Wildlife Science Center is today.
Unfortunately the DNR lease has run out and the Wildlife Center can no longer stay there. They have land and have started developing the infrastructure to move the animals. The new space is MUCH larger. There will be bigger enclosures and more modern facilities. But this isn’t a small project. The Wildlife Science Center is currently running a Move The Pack fundraising campaign and hopes to be able to open the new facility sometime in the spring of 2017.
We had a wonderful day. It was fascinating to see how different the different species of wolves are, and yet how very similar to the dogs we know.
The animals mostly came out to see us, although it was still nap-time for the black bears so I didn’t get good photos there. I highly recommend this facility for families, schools, dog lovers, or anyone interested in wildlife management.
I had the opportunity this weekend to participate in a rescue mission. That’s not as dramatic as it sounds. My daughter, Karina, has quite the extended family given the divorces, the friends, the steps, and all the variations on “you are family to me.”
One of these family members has been in a difficult intimate relationship for some time. There is a history of isolation, abuse, and attempts to leave the relationship. After a conversation with Karina where she heard, “I want to come home” she went into action.
She arranged for transportation (costs covered), housing, a potential job opportunity and alerted the built-in support system of family and friends. There will be a bus card, people willing to help with transportation in town, bedding and toiletries and probably anything else as it comes up. When another call came, “I need to leave NOW”, Karina went into high gear and hopped in the car.
I went along, not only because it’s a long drive but also because she wanted back-up for anything she might find when she arrived. I have family in the area where we were headed. I called ahead. Without knowing ANY of the actual players, they stepped in as well.
My family members met us at the home of the person we picked up. We were taken out for dinner. We were offered any additional support we might need along the way. I got the bonus of being able to see family I haven’t been in contact with (outside of Facebook) for years.
Karina’s family member will be fine. They are overwhelmed, not only by making such a dramatic change but also by the outpouring of support. We also talked on the way home about how much of a difference THIS family member could be in supporting other of Karina’s extended family members who are struggling. We made it clear that even when you may be needy, you can also be needed.
Very few of us expect to have real support when we are desperate. Asking for one small thing is hard. Asking for planning, organization, execution and a lifeline is humbling at best.
I think we all have moments in our lives when this is exactly the kind of help we need. I know I have. I have been fortunate, awed, and overwhelmed on the occasions when my friends and family have swept in and just taken care of business.
When I had cancer last year my women’s group stepped up and made sure that I had the post surgery support I needed. They came by to check up on me, made sure I had food in the house, ran errands, and washed dishes. One of them brought me home from the hospital. Another took me out when I was going stir crazy. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I had no idea what I was going to do, but they clearly did.
The last time I had work done on my house, to increase accessibility for Orion, we needed to move out for 6 weeks. Cleaning and packing was beyond me. Again, I had friends come in and just do it. There was no judgement, no need for instruction or supervision, just support. I could focus on what I needed to take with me to the hotel, they took care of everything else. I knew I needed help, but never expected that level of support.
I am grateful that I have been able to count on my friends when I truly need help. I am grateful that I have learned to accept help when it is given. I’m grateful for compassion that has no judgement, simply does what needs to be done. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back a small bit of what I have been given.
I don’t know what to say. Baton Rouge, Texas, Falcon Heights – that one is too close to home. There is outrage and it is justified.
I got really angry when after Philandro Castile’s death the police I know started circulating “another look” – a video with him and his girlfriend smoking pot and being silly. It’s racist, it’s about “justifying police brutality”, it’s a desperate attempt to “spin” the narrative. It’s not relevant.
Who hasn’t ever done stupid stuff? Gotten drunk, or stoned, or just been silly and stupid? Why people film that and then post it is beyond me, but my Facebook feed is full of this kind of nonsense.
I remember protests in the 60’s. I remember being pretty sure our phone was tapped as the FBI was looking for organizers. I remember stories of FBI infiltrators who were often the instigators of the worst of the violence. The shooting in Dallas, there was a lot of finger-pointing. The message of the protest was diminished. Both police and protesters were affected. Who actually benefited?
We learned a long time ago to follow the money. The money, the status quo, the old guard that is afraid to lose their unchecked power and privilege are the only ones coming out on top.
The world is changing. The world needs to change. What do we want it to change into?
The energy for change comes from moving against. The actually change comes from being able to envision the future. It’s not Utopic. It’s messy. Any plan is going to change in implementation. But let’s look at a plan. Let’s keep looking, and revising, and building towards something positive.
Let’s have a world where news and education aren’t judged based on entertainment value.
Let’s have a world where people helping each other out gets raves and support and bad behavior is not a spotlight for attention.
Let’s have a world where people aren’t afraid of the police, and where the police aren’t afraid of the general population they are meant to protect and serve.
Let’s have a world where we recognize that people generally are trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got. If they’re not doing well then they need help, resources, education, housing, support.
Let’s find a way to have dialog rather than duels, and have productive outcomes.
Let’s find a way.