Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My ego

I am having a quiet slow day.  I had to wait for the satellite guy to show up to figure out why I can't get local stations and by the time he got here, dealt with the problem and then left, I was sitting quietly reading a book and it seemed like the right thing to do for the rest of the day.  I have stayed up too late the last couple of nights because of the auditions for Sin, Sex and the CIA and having animals means that I still have to get up about the same time each morning to feed them, and then I  can't seem to lay back down and get anymore sleep.  I might try and take a nap later, we will see.  

Here is the problem with auditions for me.  
My ego.

I am such a ham and as I have said many times, I love auditions.  I love directing or stage managing because I get to play the parts with out the pressure of memorizing lines or letting anyone down by screwing things up out on stage in front of an audience.  And I audition well.  And I have a big enough ego that when people flatter me with compliments, I eat them up.  Then I get home and the reality of what I have done rolls over me like a steam roller.  

The newspaper article was not lying when it referred to me as the reluctant thespian.  I love being a part of a show.  I love directing, stage managing with good directors, and doing back stage work.  I love love love being a part of that whole process.  And sometimes I end up acting because I was fool enough to audition, but honestly, I don't love it.  I really don't love it.  People say I have talent with the big physical comedy.  Of course that comes from my years as a professional clown.  A profession I retired from because I just wasn't enjoying getting out there in front of people.  I taught this type of movement and "acting" in my clown classes, so I do understand it.  But just because I love auditioning for a part in front of a small group of very supportive people, with the script in front of me, does not mean that I will enjoy playing that part on the stage.  I wish it did, but it just doesn't

So now I have auditioned for this play.  I am very impressed with our Director and I like her.  I like her a lot for barely knowing her, and she is good from what I have seen so far, but I keep sending her mixed signals, and I feel terribly guilty about this.  I feel almost like a tease.  You know those woman who act like they want something from a man, but then don't follow through.  But as my friends will tell you, if I make the commitment, I will follow through.  So the right thing to do, is not audition, instead I should wait until after the auditions are over, then go to the Director and see if I can get a spot on the crew.  Because if I go to the auditions, I will audition, and I can not audition without giving it my all.

But what if I get a part, and I have my stomach issues?  One way to avoid stomach issues is simply not to eat.  But I can not go 3 weeks without eating.  And even going 3 days without eating doesn't seem smart when I am already struggling with my weight.  I have always lost weight during a play because I don't do well eating late and then sleeping, so either I eat or I sleep.  That is not a great choice in that I need to do both.  And what if my chemo brain causes me to short circuit and I can't remember my lines?  I don't even know if I can memorize lines on chemo brain.  The chemo brain will go away after you have stopped taking the chemo and the after effects get out of your system.  Oh right, I take chemo everyday, and will for the rest of my life.  I am not complaining, it is keeping me alive, but what if I let everyone down?

I have to say that after watching the auditions for the last 2 nights, I am amazed at the depth of talent we have in our little Stage Company.  Last night it was about half Stage Company people and the other half were actors mostly from the Tallahassee area.  And the people I thought had the most talent were our own Stage Company actors.  Yes, I know that sounds prejudice, but really, I guess I always took it for granted how good these fellow actors are.  I never realized how many really good people we do have.  Jack, Jan, Pat and Mary were just wonderful in whatever they read.  Amanda, who did her first play this spring with the Murder Mystery is amazing.  I mean we could tell she had it when we cast her.  And all the cast and crew work together during our plays giving to each other so that the shows quality is higher because of the selfless way the actors share with each other.  We worked with Amanda like we did with each actor, and she blossomed forth with this natural ability and timing and was wonderful.  Truly wonderful.  Here she is back trying out for her second play and her talents just float around her like her beauty.  It is just who she is.  Sweet, lovely and talented.  And she wants to play with us!!!!  Amazing.  

Stephen Webster is not new to the stage, but he did his first play with our stage company in the Spring murder mystery and Stephen and Amanda were the love interest.  And they were good.   They had sparks, chemistry, and timing, not to mention how much fun to play with them.  Stephen is great with big physical comedy and it showed last night.  There was another man there who auditioned and he also is good.  But certainly not better then Stephen or Jack.  

Carolyn also has talent, but the big physical comedy isn't as easy for her.  She does our radio plays each year because it is hard to find parts for her in a lot of the plays we do, but she loves the radio plays, and her performances in these parts are good, really good.  

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the other people didn't have talent, OK, maybe I would say that about one of the people.  But the others did have talent of varying ability.  Some of the young ladies are like Amanda, just screaming talent and each play they are in they just get better and better.  But as a whole it was just noticeable how much talent on a whole in every aspect of a production our stage company holds.  I wish we could do a play with all the people who auditioned in front of our Opera House Board of Directors because I don't think they realize how amazing our stage company is.  I honestly didn't, and even Mary made a comment to me last night that she had never realized how much talent there is in our own little group.

Then there is M&M productions  This is the stage company at the Opera House that does the musicals and kids show.  It is run by a talented director.  She has acted her whole life, and did it professionally for a while, and she is a good coach and really brings out the talent in so many people, especially the young people in our county.  I hope that as they grow up that they will eventually try out for some of the stage company plays.  They do stay busy with the musicals and these kids can sing and dance besides act.  For such a small community, Monticello and our Opera House has really drawn in an amazing world of people and talents of all kind.  

So I have no idea if I will be cast in a part, but I did email the Director and asked her to call me when she had time.  I want to explain my fears of potential problems.  I have a big enough ego that I want her to cast me.  I have enough fear to hope she does not, and I know that which ever way it goes, I can be a part of this production in front of or behind the curtain.  

I just want to be a part of this amazing group and play with my friends.  Shoot, I think I am getting stomach issues just worrying over this.  sigh

I went to my HOPE class on Tuesday  I over did it a bit on the weight machines.  I am tired of looking old and scrawny.  I want a strong and toned body.  I am not looking to be 20 again.  I want the best body I can have at 55 with Stage 4 lung cancer.  I want to be able to do the tree pose, or the dancer pose or the stork or crane.  I want to have a body that can do that.  So I worked hard on the machines.  My trainer Cindy was not there when I first started, so I started by myself.  I read each machine's instructions, looked at which muscle groups were targeted and worked my way through the machines.  I adjusted the weight doing the maximum amount I could handle comfortably.  I pushed myself hard.  I did 2 repetitions.  I tried to keep my posture tall and lean as I worked.  It is going to take time to build these muscles lost over the last 2 years.  They will grow strong, but will never be what they once were.  That is not just about cancer, that is part of aging.  But cancer does emphasize the aging and loss, and does it only taking.  It was warm in the Y.  Everyone was sweating, I even perspired.  After 45 minutes of working in the exercise room I went up to chair yoga.  

I know chair yoga sounds like easy yoga, but I have to tell you, it is what you make it.  And the stretches she took us through yesterday were thorough and really worked all the muscle groups from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, through my shoulders down to my finger tips.  Not all of chair yoga is sitting.  We do some stretches standing up using the chair for balance as needed.  After 30 minutes of chair yoga I walked downtown to get some lunch.  

OK, hind sight is 20/20 and it is probably not a good idea to eat a tuna fish sandwich before going to yoga class and doing downward facing dog.  Our class mantra is peace/release.  Mine Tuesday was don't throw up, don't throw up.  Tomorrow I will either skip lunch or pick something that won't be as big of a problem.  The woman next to me at the floor yoga class teaches the body attack class and the body pump class.  She seems like a nice person and is very attractive in that steroid body building sort of way.  I am sure she is not into steroids, I don't mean to say anything against her, it was just a picture of extremes.  Scrawny me that can fold myself up into a milk box but little strength or balance and this well defined muscled woman who has good balance and strength but no flexibility.  I like the instructor of this class she manages to help each of us to reach our personal best in class.  And like the woman next to me, we have every possible type of person in this class.  She is so supportive but not sickening sweet with it.  She makes you feel successful and welcome.  

After class I drove home stopping to put my top up for the rain.  I got home and took care of a couple of things before heading down to the Opera House for auditions.  I need to get more rest.  

I did talk to the Director of the play today and explained that I was not bipolar, just nervous about letting people down.  She was so sweet and funny and said that she wants me to come back to the Opera House tomorrow for call backs for Ranger Don.  I said I would be there.

Ednarose woke me up this morning with a dead frog.  Yep, that is one way to wake up.  With a dead frog on your face.  She had gutted it so there was a little hollow for my nose.  Of course it flew across the room as I sat up with the dead cold thing on my face.  Thank goodness I did not find out what it was until after I had gotten up and out of bed.  I kept throwing it out the door and she kept finding it and bringing it back in, flipping it in the air and playing with it.  I finally got it from her when I was in the kitchen next to the garbage can.  Before I had never been near the garbage, hence the reason for throwing it out the door.  But rest in peace it is gone now.

Ednarose is getting sweeter everyday, but the satellite guy looked at her like she was a leper or a hyena crossed with a baboon or that she was contagious.  She is none of those things.  Well, I am not sure about the hyena and baboon part, but the rest I am pretty positive about.  So she is not the prettiest dog at this point.  I mean with the no hair and all.  But she does have sweet eyes and her knot on her head is becoming defined and I think by the time she is one year, she will be a beautiful black female lab.  She does hold her tail a little proud, but she is a little wild yet.  Hopefully as she grows she will hold her tail down, but I would not be surprised if she doesn't hold herself a little prouder then your respectable lab should do.

Well, this has taken me all day to write.  I have just taken it slow and easy.  I needed this and I will go to bed earlier tonight.  

The hummingbird flew in the back door today.  It made me smile until I realized that the feeders were empty.  So I filled them back up and the hummer has been happily eating since.

This is Labor day weekend.  It is supposed to rain, I have no plans so that is fine with me.  I am hoping to spend a quiet holiday weekend.  Maybe finish my book and then decide which one to start next.  Maybe do some of the yard work, well when it is not raining.  Maybe take a ride with the top down or not.  I don't know lots of possibilities and the world is my oyster.  Oh!  It is September, oyster season!  Oh joy!  I do have such a wonderful life.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

It just keeps getting better and better

I went to see Dr. M today.  I can't tell you how much I love the people I work with at the Oncology Center.  Ashley and Bobbie, Dr. M's nurses,  Allison, the receptionist, Dr. M of course, Stephanie, my scheduler, Betty Ann, my first friend there, Ms Mary, Jasmine, who takes my blood, and so many that I can not think of their names this minute.  They always have a smile on their face and something nice to say to me.  And of course, there is that whole saving my life thing.

I can't help but think about how different things would be if I had not had Dr. Susan refer me there.  Seriously, I would probably not be alive.  No, really.  I know we can not truly know the road not traveled, but I was so very very sick this time last year and getting sicker.  The cancer was still spreading, the chemo wasn't working, and my doctor had basically told me to go home to prepare. Then as I have told this story countless times, I called my dear friend Rich who called his sister, Dr. Susan who called the Oncology Department and interviewed the doctors and set me up to be with the absolutely adorable and amazing Dr. M.  Who by the way is feeling pretty sure of himself these days.

Why?  Because once again my numbers are even better then they were last month.  I keep this up and no one will believe I even have cancer.  Not even me.  

The only thing he would like me to work on is gaining weight.  He asked me why I am not gaining weight.  I really didn't have an answer.  I told him it was the heat.  But it is also that I don't like cooking for myself.  I love to cook for others, but not so much for myself.  Because food just doesn't hold an interest for me like it did before.  Food just doesn't taste the same, smell the same.  Also when I look in the mirror, one minute I look scrawny, the next like I am 600 pounds, so it is hard to try and gain weight when you are confused about what you should weigh.  And when I eat, it is not like I gain weight.  My stomach just gets bigger, like a snake, and then I have my stomach issues and everything seems to just evacuate and my weight is the same.  I am hoping that exercise will build muscle which we have all been told our entire lives weighs more then fat.  So that seems to be my best hope.  Who knew that at this age I would be worrying about gaining weight. 

I have such an odd perspective about myself physically.  I try and look my best, but some how I rarely look at myself and go, "you go girl!  You look good!"  I think I look my best in my toy with the top down.  Because I feel happy.  I feel successful in that car.  I don't know why.  Maybe because it is the perfect car for me at this point in my life.  

I stopped by Publix on my way home from seeing the fabulous Dr. M and before I walked up to the check out I looked at my cart, fruit, veggies, a carton of 2% milk.  Not weight gaining food.  So I picked up some full fat cottage cheese, I think it is 4%, and then I picked up a box of ice cream, moose tracks.  There, high calorie food.  

I got home and did several loads of laundry.  I missed a shirt as I carried one load out to the solar dryer (clothes line) so I started the next load and then walked out to hang out the shirt, and the clothes I had just hung up less then 15 minutes before were dry, so I folded them and brought them in.  Now really, that is amazing for a place with the kind of humidity we have here.

I took care of some chores around the house, took a walk, talked to the neighbors about the road meeting on Thursday and then jumped in the toy and drove up to the Opera House for auditions.  I am not interested in getting a part.  The only part I think I could even do would be Ranger Don.  this calls for a woman dressed as a man, or a man dressed as a woman, and I am not really sure which way our new Director is going to go with it.  She liked my reading and asked me to read for another part along with all the other woman who had come.  It is really an honor to get to audition with the level of talent that was there tonight.  Ms Moon, Marcie, Amanda, Jan and Tiffany.  I have worked with each of these ladies and they are all wonderful.  I was last to read for the part.  It is the Assistant to the Secretary of State.  She has never "been" with a man, so she is clumsy in her attempts to woo this Former Marine Sargent.  I definitely over acted, but what the heck?!?!!  I was so aggressive in the part that Fred, Marcie's husband who was reading for the Marine Sargent got so nervous he asked me to back up a little.  I was only trying to follow the blocking instructions.  But I told the Director that I would prefer to be behind the curtain doing lights or sound.  She said there would be lots to do there, so I would think that with the amazing talent reading that I will probably get to do the lights.  Honestly, I love to audition because you can just go crazy.  And I love rehearsals because you get to play with your dearest friends, but I don't care for performances.  It is just so much pressure not to let everyone down.  

Ednarose has lost all of her hair on her face.  She has a line running along the top of her head just at her ears.  All the hair above that line is fine, most of the hair below that line is gone.  She is also missing most of her hair on her chest, tummy and inside of her legs.  She is starting to get some grown up teeth and i can't tell if she looks like a hyena or a baboon (minus the red butt).  But she is still adorable.  And growing so fast and constantly playing, running, playing, jumping, playing, biting, playing, climbing and playing.

All in all a pretty good day.  I am feeling more like me and doing the things around the house that need to be done.  I hope to get out and do some gardening again soon, but it has been awfully hot.  Tomorrow I will go to HOPE and then yoga.  I am really looking forward to that.  And I am proud of myself for getting out there and getting my walk in, and even though I would not say that I did yoga,  I did do some stretching throughout the day.  My house is finally starting to look like I live here again.  It is cleaner and although there is still so much more to be done, I think I am fairly ready for Sioux to come and visit this weekend.  I am trying to find some time to head down to Trenton to exchange the roosters for a couple of hens.  I am happy with my choice of John C. Bennett.  He is a polite rooster.  He is not the most aggressive, which is a plus in my mind.  he is not the showiest, but he is kind to the hens, unlike the weird white and brown one who is quite smitten with Ms Buttercup.  Meanwhile Buttercup is not only not smitten by him, but she appears to loathe him, and every time he has his way with her, she turns on him and grabs at least one feather in his tail out.  I have tried to explain to her that this is one of the reasons he is so fond of her.  He obviously likes his hens with some gumption.  But my advice to her goes unheeded, and honestly, I would rather that she stand up to him, and I want to get him away from her as soon as possible.  She is getting old, by hen standards and should not have to be dealing with this..... cock.  Excuse me, I am using the technical term here.  

The dogs and cats are all asleep.  I see Bob open his eyes and stare at me every once in a while, like have I lost my mind being up so late.  And I think I have.  So now to bed and to sleep.  Sweet sleep.  It has been a good day.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

She ran into my arms

Ms Moon made the birthday pizza last night and it was delicious and we moved through the Moondance in and out, up and down as if we wanted to remember each little special place that we had shared with friends this past week.  A week with dark moments as well as those filled with light .  This morning I was awakened before the sun came up.  Denise, Judy and I were out of the house to get to the beach for the sunrise:

I walked east towards the rising sun and watched the colors spread across the sky and reflect off the Gulf.  The Gulf turned from black to pink and orange, purple, blue and green.  It foamed up across the shore at my feet but my eyes were cast today across the horizon.  I raised my head today pulling it away from the sand and shells.  From all the animal tracks and surprises of crabs jumping in and out of their holes.

No today, I did not keep my eyes down staring at these tracks and treasures as I had on previous days.  Today I kept my eyes up.  My last day, my last walk on this beautiful beach for this year's trip, I watched the sun come up.  I watched the dolphins work just off the sandbars up and down and chasing into and after the schools of fish.  I moved briskly along the beach this morning because I still needed to finish packing.  The beach was empty at this time of morning and I was able to stretch out my long legs, swing my long arms along as I watched the beginning of this new day.    There were a few familiar companions:

Like this Willet with a rosie neck reflected from the colors in the water.

I made my full hour walk this morning up and back on the beach.  I had to skip yesterday's evening walk because of the blisters from burning my foot on the hot metal of the nail heads on the deck.  But this morning, as long as I kept my foot dry I didn't even remember the blisters.  After my walk I jumped into the Gulf one last time on this trip.  I saw a couple of small rays, blue crabs and fish swimming to avoid my king kong feet as they shuffled along the shallow bottom.

The Moondance was hopping when I got back.  Packing was in full course, showers being taken from last dances in the ocean.  Bags, coolers, boxes and every imaginable belonging was being dropped down to the cars or gently carried down the stairs.  Movement up and down, up and down the stairs.  The beds were stripped, dirty towels piled in front of the washer, dishes put in the washer and turned on.  Checking and rechecking each room for left possessions.  

I will miss the outside shower.  It was heavenly to be able to take a shower before ever walking into the house.  To leave all the sand and salt behind.  We all lamented the inability to wash the grime and stress away without taking it into our homes.  I had already posted a picture of Judy, Vicki and Nancy at the Moondance.  Here is the rest of our crew:

We left our little Moondance this morning and turned our vehicles towards the bridge and back to our homes and families and plants and animals and lives.  First we stopped at a Mexican Restaurant for breakfast.  Then I headed east in my toy with the top down.  The sun over my head riding along with me as I left my beloved Gulf.  The warm waters brimming with life that has played in my life since I was an infant.  The water that still feels like home, that shared its glitter and sparkle with me this past week.  From those waters I added two more birds to my life list, saw 2 baby sea turtles take their first steps into their first day of what I hope will be a long and amazing life filled with travel and adventure.  I saw rays and star fish, pieces of sand dollars and shells spanning the colors of the rainbow.  I laid in that warm salty water with a friend who has been in my life for more then 50 years.  I have splashed and laughed in that body of dreams with Mer-Mer, Lily and Owen with Uncle Hank close by and I have walked along that water with friends new and old, and I have been happy.  

This past week our world revolved around that body of water and the ebb and flow of the sandy shore that moves with the shift of the moon and the spinning of the universe.  I set goals for myself and enjoyed meeting them with my walks and taking time each morning to stretch up and over and remind my body that it is still strong and is going to only get stronger.  This morning I only took 5 minutes for my yoga, and did the sun salutation.  I could not leave this house without one last dance.  My body is lean and brown, I have a new dress that slips over the beginning of muscles being slowly brought back to life.  I will wear it to the Opera House and will remember the day that I bought that dress. Of the faces that were surrounding me as I walked out of the dressing room.  Not only were there the 3 faces of my friends but there was also another group of woman friends there spending the day together.  These woman looked to be 15 - 20 years older then ourselves.  Their faces shared stories and laughter spent over time together, and when I walked out of the dressing room, it was as if they were remembering a time when they were in that same moment years ago.  They were so sweet, all of those woman faces, known and unknown.

And as I drove home I was happy.  I was happy in my toy with the top down.  I was happy to have spent time with friends.  I had learned things about how much each individual friendship with each individual woman means to me.  I thought about so many different memories from the past 7 days and nights and days and nights before.  But my mind was shifting to my children, to Harry, Bob and Ednarose.  My mind thought of Marina, Henry, Stella and Luna, the chickens, my plants.  Had my plants been watered?  Had any survived?  

I drove along Hwy 98 until the Gulf disappeared into the scrub pine of Jefferson County and then headed north of Monticello and picked up Ednarose at Golden Acres.  Bobbie went out to get her, she was napping in the air-conditioned kennel.  As they walked out the door, I called to my sweet new baby girl, "Ednarose"  Her ears perked up and she ran as fast as she could straight up to me and jumped into my arms.  She looked happy and obviously loved Ms Bobbie, but she was happy to get in the car with her mama and head back home to her chickens, cats and big brothers.  I let her out of the car as soon as I pulled up to the carport.  She ran directly to the pasture fence where Harry and Bob greeted her with kisses and whines.  I opened the gate and the three of threw themselves at each other.

I have been home now for a few hours.  I have talked to some people to let them know I was home.  I brought everything in from the car, but have only put away the most important things.  Everything else still sits in its basket or suitcase.  I fed the chickens watermelon and gathered 6 eggs.  I have sat in my red chair and held my cats.  I am home.  I loved our week at the beach.  I love my home.  How wonderful can one life be with so many places to be happy.  

Tomorrow I will go to the Y for a yoga class and then go to see Dr. M.  Tuesday and Thursday I will go to the Y for HOPE.  Each day I will integrate myself back into my life here.  September is just around the corner and my life is waiting each morning to begin again.  I can be anything or anyone, because I am strong and I am learning to appreciate taking time for myself.  To give a little more to me, and step back to make sure that what I give to others is the right thing for both of us.  I have learned more about people this week.  Hard lessons that I am still struggling with, but for right now, I have a book I started at the beach.  I have my children and tomorrow I can hang my clothes on the clothes line, go see the doctor, take a yoga class and come home to assess my gardens and the never ending list of tasks.  
Tasks I love to do.
I am back home at my little Labrun.  Call me, email or come by.  I am the rested tan one, standing a little taller, feeling a little stronger, a little more flexible and balanced, 
and very happy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Magical, Magical

Wednesday Mary, Vicki, Nancy and I took the toy to Apalachicola.  I can’t tell you how happy the toy feels to have a car full of happy woman.  Mature happy woman with gray in their hair, crows feet at their eyes from all the laughter these faces have experienced.  The toy feels happy to me on some days, and other days that silver car seems not really sad as much as “give up acceptance.”  Like the days that it rains.

But yesterday we flew over the water driving on the new bridge smiling and laughing with the wind blowing our hair into our sun colored faces.  Down the bridge right up to the Gibson Inn.  Turn right head to the river.  Turn left to Boss Oyster.  This is one of Vicki and my favorite places to eat.  Just the right balance of tourist, good food and a great view sitting over the river.  Vicki always has the grouper.  I had the crab cake, and it was full of blue crab.  Twice the size I could eat, so Vicki got to try some.  Then we left the car and started walking our way through town.  First stop is always across the street from Boss.  It is a tourist store that looks like a marine junk store.  Always a fun spot to weave through the glass fish balls, maps, shells, giant fiberglass pirates and everything old and rusty that has ever been connected to a boat or fishing. 

Then to the Cotton Market to a store I always end up buying off the cheap sales rack.  This time a jersey knit rayon of steel gray.  It slips over my head and just slides down to the ground nestling up with each curve.  If I stand at just the right angle, I look fabulous in it.  I also bought a belt and hat to go with it, and felt like the queen of the world as we continued to breeze in and out of our favorite stores, The Book Store, Riverlily, Petunias, the chocolate shop, Tamara’s coffee shop, and the cheap tourist store with the soda fountain counter.  Our day filled with good food, laughter, wonderful shops and being together.  The drive back over the bridge to Moondance was just as wonderful as the trip over that morning.  

We ended the day with Mary's fresh scallops and a trip to the Ice cream shop.  What paradise we have all found ourselves in here in our little cottage, Moondance.

Thursday morning broke with the cloud filled with clouds with thick heavy black bottoms.  Clouds filled to the brim with moisture, a wind blowing up the Gulf stirring up bottom and making the water dotted with white caps.  I enjoyed my morning walk with the change of weather, hoping that  it would shift before Lily, Hank and Owen got her.  By the end of my walk the clouds were moving off, leaving us with a choppy Gulf, but a cooler, breezier day.  

The kids got here early and headed right down to the beach with Mer-Mer.  I stayed to do my yoga.  I only had a few goals this week, take 2 walks everyday and do yoga.   I have been able to do that here and have enjoyed every moment.  I can do a few things a little better today then I could before I got here.

Mer-Mer and the kids came up for lunch and all the meemaws ran around setting out a smorgsbjorg of all the food we had in the frig.  They were overwhelmed with all the food and variety.  We all sat around and ate and ate and talked and laughed.  Owen, of course was the center of most of our attention, and he was such a good boy.  Owen, Lily and Mary (Mer-Mer) laid down for about an hour nap.  Hank fell asleep on the couch and the rest of us enjoyed the quiet siesta in our own way.

After naps there was still time to take one more dip in the water, so Mary, Lily, Owen and I headed to the beach.  We played in a warm pool at the edge of the water, then I headed west for my second walk of the day.  By the time I got back almost everyone had headed back up to Moondance, but then I saw 2 turtles come out of their nest and head towards the Gulf.  Vicki ran back and grabbed Mary and the kids and they all scurried back in time to see the 2 tiny creatures with hearts bigger the all of the Gulf, padded their way ever closer to the water.  We cheered them on knowing the high mortality rate these creatures experience from this moment until adulthood.  So small, so lovely, so perfect, tiny turtles on their first day of life looking as ancient as their species.  They make the edge of the water and roll in the surf as we all watch and cheers them, tears filling our lives.  The beginning of a long life's journey living in the Gulf, returning to this spot when they are ready to be their part of the line of genetics that goes back and back.  It made the beach feel so magical, like anything is possible.  And each of us will remember the first time Owen saw sea turtles.  He may not remember, but it is a memory burned into my brain with the smiles and tears of pure joy.

It was Ms Judy's night for dinner and she made pork in the crock pot that everyone oohed and aahed over.  She also made chicken on the grill and I can tell you it was delicious.  She had couscous and a salad.  Then Judy, Mary and I headed to the store to buy things to make a pie, or a cobbler.  Judy wanted one of Mary's pies.  We picked up blue bell blackberry cobbler ice cream and a bag of sugar and a box of jiffy biscuit mix to make fruit cobbler using all the delicious fruit that Mary had cut up.  We had blueberries, cherries, peaches, maybe even a mango all ready to go.  We made it home with the ice cream, but not the jiffy mix and sugar.  sigh.  We did enjoy the icecream, and maybe tonight Ms Moon will make her cobbler for us.  

This morning I was the first up and out.  The other ladies had stayed up talking.  I headed for the beach for my morning walk and headed east.  Every morning there is a thought for the day, a blessing of sorts.  This morning was Thoreau, "The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is."  I scanned the beach for shells, tracks of turtles, birds, dogs, people and I think a raccoon.  So magical with all the colors of the shells and sand, the bits and pieces of these creatures lives.    I look out and see a much calmer water then the day before.   The sky is clear blue spanning across this island like a china blue bowl over turned on top of us.  I walked and walked feeling a part of this place.  Happy and healthy, my feet firmly planted in the sand, my head up in the blue sky. 

I cooled down with a dip in the gulf and then headed in for my yoga.  Mary joined me again this morning and we stretched and giggled and breathed through the stretches.  Then Vicki, Nancy and I hopped in the toy and headed back across the beach and then easterly along the shimmering, sparkling gulf.  We drove through Carrabelle and then turned around in Gulf Terrace.  On our way back we stopped at the DEP Exhibit.  A huge building, with a nice display. Then back to our little island floating in the warm gulf waters.  

A quiet afternoon, each of us moving into our individual universes bumping into each other.  Sharing a few moments, a hug, a giggle, a memory shared in the sun and warmth and salt.  Another day in paradise, another day grateful to be alive, to be together, to be right here.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another day in Paradise

We woke at 7 this morning, our rooms filled with sunlight.  We were still in paradise.  I headed out to take my morning walk first thing.  Even before breakfast, the most important meal of the day.  I wanted to get out to the beach and walk.  

Public access to the beach

flowering vine running along and across the beach path

It was quiet and peaceful with only a few walkers on the beach.  People with their dogs were out and the dogs sniffed and ran and played on the beach with more enthusiasm then their owners.  A beautiful yellow lab sniffed his way along the surf line proudly snatching up the most odoriferous of the bounties from the ocean.  His parents quickly, "No, No, No!"  until he dropped the aromatic treasure, quickly gaining interest in the next delightful find.

The Gulf was less choppy this morning and the tide had just begun its work eroding the small waves of sand dunes.  The sand etched with the movement of the water, lines of shells and seaweed washed into small piles.  The shell prints of the fiddler crabs crisscross from one hole to another.  Two sharp lines side by side with a drag, unlike the star patterns of the Sand pipers, Willets and Ruddy Turnstones.  The foot prints of the these shore birds looked like little lines of stars then a Morse code design where their beaks have poked in and out of the sand searching for tasty morsels.  

The golden glow of sunlight sparkles on the gulf.  I walked eastward towards the morning sun.  I was in no rush, I just set a comfortable pace and walked.  Eyes searching the sand for shells, out to the horizon for dolphins then upward to the clear blue breathless sky.  My mind tried to wrap around the idea that I had no where I had to be.  I had no demands.  I could walk as long as I wanted, or my knee held out.  I could walk into the water and just float and swim with no demands on when to leave.  It took me back that I should have be aware of this timelessness.  I tried to slow down a little further.  To step back and enjoy these moments.  Moments of warm gulf salt water, hard pack sand giving way under foot when the tide splashes up and around me.  Of having no obligations.  Of having friends to spend time, and sunsets to watch, and beaches to walk on, and yoga.

I returned to the Moondance after my walk:

 and took a shower in our outside downstairs shower:

hot and cold running water

Here are pictures of Judy, Vicki and Nancy at the Moondance:

The day crept along like a perfect summer vacation day with no demands and wonderful choices to make.  Nancy made lunch, tacos and black bean and corn salad.  Vicki made a chicken casserole for supper.  The refrigerator is full and Ms Moon is on her way with more food.  

I took my bird book out for my next walk and added two birds to my life list, the Willets and Ruddy Turnstones.  I wandered back and forth between the beach and the Moondance.  After lunch the four of us headed together to the beach where the we headed out to float in the warm shallow gulf.  It is hard to get out the first 20 feet or so because of the uneven gulf bottom from all the wave action.  It stays shallow for a long way out, so as soon as the water gets up to your knees it is best to just sink down in the water and float scoot out  past the choppy water into the calm ebb of the tides.  Nancy does not swim and chose to spend her time up on the beach, mostly under an umbrella.  To listen to the surf and birds and relax on the warm sandy beaches with out burning herself to a crisp.  I eventually headed up to take my second walk of the day, Judy continued to float in her beloved Gulf water, Vicki splashed up to the shoreline. 

Ms Moon came in mid afternoon and everyone was so happy to have her with us.  She unloaded her car and started the Herculean task of finding a place in the refrigerator where you could put another container of food.  

The afternoon drifted along, a little rain shower came up and cooled the temperatures down more then raising the humidity.  Each of us had gone our separate ways during the day accomplishing little errands or walks.  I had quietly worked through the yoga program in my book.  Simple positions flowing from one to the other stretching muscles up the body, relaxing, breathing, slowly working through the positions taking the time to enjoy the moments.  The moments of the stretch.  Feeling the pull and relaxation, the opposite motion to stay balanced.  Breathing in and out with the fluidity of the movements.  Turning the pages of the book following the familiar positions, it felt so natural and comfortable.  Stretching limbs turning deep brown from the beach sun.  Still smelling faintly of sunscreen generously applied every time I return to Moondance.

We have each floated in our own direction, coming together then passing on, like the ebb and flow of the gulf that fills the white sound of our heads and ears.  The roar as the water rolls ashore being dampened out only by the buzz of the cicadas.  The sound increases as the heat of the summer day edges off waiting for the coolness of the evening.  The buzz of these insects loud enough to make a normal conversation difficult.

Moondance.  Our voices become a little thicker and softer as we enjoy the company of our little group.  Our group almost complete now with Ms Moon here with us.  And tomorrow maybe Apalachicola, then the next day with Hank, Lily and Owen.  Then Friday night our Denise will be here with us.  Wonderful days to come, and each of us seems to be savoring each moment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Waking up on St. George Island

Sunday morning I woke up early and got things taken care of.  I had a very up and down weekend, struggling with anxiety.  I checked off my list and things started to fall into place.  Then I had to take Ednarose to the people keeping her.  I called her and the adorable little creature came running up joyful and happy as only puppies can be.  And filthy.  She was covered from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail with mud.  Caked on thick, break off in chunks of mud.  I hosed her down and brought her in the house to give her a bath.  She was so well behaved, and then Harry and Bob both tried to crowd in on the attention when I toweled off the little chunk of a bear.  She squealed and barked and yipped as the boys pushed in and threw the towel up with their noses vying for Mom's attention.  I hugged each of them so close.  This is the hard part of going away, leaving my animals and plants.  

Ednarose and I drove up to Golden Acres.  She was wonderful, well behaved, sweet, let me hug and kiss on her.  I gave Ms Bobbie my baby, went over the medicine instructions and then repeated them again, just to make sure then I headed home.  I miss my Ednarose.  I got home and hugged and hugged on Bob and Harry.  Ms Judy drove up and we packed my car and off we drove.  She in the Liberty, me in my toy, top down, heading south, heading for St. George.

It was a lovely drive along 98.  I had to put the top up because of passing thunder storms.  It was still so beautiful driving along the gulf coast.  We made it in good time, picked up the key and headed over to Moondance.  Vicki and Nancy met us in the drive.  It is a lovely little beach cottage style house, a block off the beach, with easy access.  We walked on the beach, some swam in the warm gulf.  We were at the beach.  The light, the smell, the breeze, the sand in our shoes, the beach.  We came back to the Moondance and had quiche, salad and cranberry/nut bread.  Quick and easy.  We have enough lettuce to feed the entire island, and peaches.  We have lots of peaches, and 3 watermelons.  We are set.

This morning we woke around 7, at St. George.  A restful nights sleep, a morning with light reflected off the Gulf.  The sun coming up over the State Park, sparkling and bright.    Vicki and Nancy headed to the beach.  Judy and I did yoga and then ate breakfast.  Just as Vick and Nancy were coming back, Judy and I were heading to the  beach.  And so it went all day.  Back and forth from Moondance to the beach.  The makeup of the little groups shifted through the day.  Judy worked on the computer for a grant, Vicki and Nancy lived at the beach where the water ebbs and flows back and forth.  Rolling shells in the surf as we reach out to grab the ones that sparkle and catch our eye.  Water moving sand up and down the beach eroding back last nights building project.  We sit at the edge of the water and the sand boils up and fills our suits with sand, digging little hollows where we sit.

This morning I walked east up the beach for about 20 minutes and then turned around walking back to our spot.  Ms Judy and I worked our way out in the water far enough out to miss the real choppy waves.  Out far enough so that when you are standing up in the water comes just below our armpits.  The warm Gulf water, churned up so that you can not see your feet.  We spent time just laughing and talking and floating and pushing up to take the bigger waves.  The sun shining down on us and reflecting back up on us, warming our skin as it tightens our skin and colors it deeper brown.

After absorbing as much Gulf through osmosis I staggered back up through the waves to the shore where I headed west along the beach.  The fiddler crabs scamper back and forth across the sand, holding their fiddles in front of then as the scoot sideways back into their holes.  Bigger shore crabs also stand guard in front of their holes big enough to trip a person, staring with their blind eyes at us, but can move sideways quick as a whistle if threatened.  I watched the little shore birds skittering down to the waters edge and then skittering back away as the waves chased them.  As soon as the wave peaked the short legs would scoot back along the water snapping up tiny crabs and fish and coquina's.  Sand fleas larger then we remember from our youth dig down into the sand trying to avoid the larger shore birds.  So much life, the Gulf is just brimming over with so much life.  I walked and walked, making sure to get my 2 walks in for at least 2 hours.

And this is our second year on this pilgrimage to St. George, yet I have so few memories from last year.  Last year I had just completed my first chemo.  When they tell me their memories from last year, I can see the event happening, but I have no real memories.  It is fun to go places and have Vicki tell me what we did last year.  At first it was disconcerting, but the memories are so much fun, I can't help but smile at such fun.  I am so glad that we had those moments, even if I have no memories of them.  My dearest ones do.  They tell me the stories, it is wonderful.

We have eaten as we have been hungry.  We took the toy for a ride up and down the island and at ice cream, something that we did last year, but I didn't remember.  And now we are sitting around the living room, it is dark and the sliver of the moon as it waxes toward a new moon is floating above us.  The stars twinkle, and Irene moves through the Caribbean.  Will she affect us?  Who knows, but it does not look like she is heading in our direction, so we will enjoy the weather as it comes.  If it rains, we have books, we have lettuce, we have yogurt and peaches.  

Tomorrow our precious Ms Moon will join our little troupe.  We are all so looking forward to her coming.  Then Thursday, maybe Lily and Owen will come out for the day.  Oh joy!  Owen join us for the day!  Then Friday night Miss Denise will finally come and we will be complete.  Our little group of friends all clustered together on this magical beach island.  And Saturday night, Ms Moon will make her world famous pizza for Ms Denise's birthday.  And we will sit in the living room on the gaudy tropical furniture that is peaceful and bright, and looks like a wet suit or two has been pressed against.  We will watch the magic as Mary spins the pizzas and then loads them up with all our favorite goodies.  So many wonderful things to look forward to.  

The day moved slowly.  Slowly like the end of August, the end of summer.  The children have returned to school and the beach is mostly empty.  The stores prepare to close for the off season.  Storms threaten out south and to our east.  The Gulf water almost as warm as bath water that has a nice size chop where we try to float and stare up into the blue sky.  The sky so blue, but the clouds are building and the lightening puts on a show for us.  Soon all of us will be together, just for a few days.  Today moved in slow motion, sun, walking, laughing, eating, swimming, floating, smiling.  I don't think Vick has quit smiling since she got here.  Life is good y'all.  And it is only going to get better as the rest of our beloved join us.

Sweet sleep from St. George.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Getting ready for St. George

Thursday morning I got up early, fed the animals and did some cleaning around the house.  I even put a few plants into the garden.  Then I dressed in my new workout clothes and drove the Malibu to Thomasville to the Y.  

As I walked through the door, there was my trainer and her mom smiling, energetic and happy.  A nice way to start a workout.  A nice way to start a day.  I walked in and tried my warm up on an elliptical machine.  I did my 5 minute warm up and then Cindy took me through the machines again.  I have never worked with a trainer before, but I can see why the rich and famous hire them.  Mine is so supportive, up, and knowledgeable.  She cheers me on, answers my questions, provides enough information on her own to keep me interested and doing my best without overwhelming me.  After a little more vigorous workout I went up to the chair yoga class.  It was a smaller class today and a different teacher.  I had really liked the previous instructor.  She is a nice young woman with an infectious smile.  But this instructor has a calm, patient air about her that works well for me.

She took us through the program and afterwards I felt my energy level up.  I have to say that since Tuesday I have felt energetic, more focused and less anxious.  I think more then the minimal amount of exercise that I have accomplished is more a sense of doing something for myself.  Joining this exercise program has given me 2 days in my week of routine, it has gotten me up and moving.  I am a mover, but it has been so unfocused lately.  I wander from project to project leaving each one half completed.  I had to force myself to do that much.  Now, just 2 days in this program and I feel a little less lost.

After armchair yoga I went back to the HOPE room and did a 15 minute mile on the treadmill.  Still not that greatest of time, but better then Tuesday.  OK, mostly it is better because I have figured out the machine a little better.  Then I picked up a quick salad for lunch and back to the Y for the full yoga class.  There were maybe a dozen people in the class my age or older.  I picked a spot in a back corner where I wouldn't embarrass myself.  It seemed like most of the people in the class had at least a familiarization with each other.  The instructor came in and turned the lights down, put on some music and off we went.  I knew the positions from classes I have taken before, even though it has been a long time.  So I could keep up pretty well.  My flexibility was equal to those in the class, but my balance is truly pitiful.  Mostly because I have such little core strength to hold me up.  But the class went along just fine until we came to the pigeon position.  I have never heard of that position.  All the other positions I was good, but pigeon, nope, that was knew to me and as I looked around to those people near me to see what to do.  No one was doing the same thing.  So I just did the best I could and then picked back up when we moved back to the positions I knew better.  I think I have done that position, but I seriously do not have any memory of it being called pigeon.  At the end of the class we spend 5 – 7 minutes in quiet meditation doing the corpse position.  I love yoga classes that make time for the “nap” at the end.  OK, I have never napped, but I am normal  and struggle with the that time to clear my mind, to do away with the stress and cares of the day.  But I felt good and for me I stayed in the moment a lot longer then I have in the past.  I think it had just been so long since I had done any yoga and felt that calm, peaceful, flow of endorphins slowing the anxiety.  I just breathed and enjoyed all those good rushes and stayed in the moment.  It is a starting place.  After class the instructor came up and talked to me about my yoga.  We discussed my previous experience with yoga and how long it had been since I took any classes.  Then she showed me the pigeon position.  I am sure that I have been in a similar position, but I am not sure that anyone ever called it pigeon.  I have found in yoga that sometimes different positions can have a different name.  For the most part I have found that most instructors use the common names of the positions and that does help to walk into a new class and be able to join in.  

I felt like Tuesday was a good start, but Thursday, I actually participated fully and could feel the difference.  That temporary tightness from the weight machines and that euphoric flexibility of yoga. 

I left the Y and headed over to the Oncology Center to have my blood drawn for the monthly blood work tests.  Then I scooted home, changed and Ms Judy picked me up to take me to get my toy.  I was in Florida before I had seen the rain, and I gather it was pretty hard out where Ms Judy lives.  I went through some spotty hard rain, but for the most part, it was a nice steady drizzle from Monticello south.  I showered and changed and then headed out to the barn.  I sat in the open door of my big yellow barn and watched the steady drizzle.  I looked over to my bird bell and it looked so beautiful in the rain. The bird looked like a water fowl getting ready to take up and off out of a lake.  Up through the drizzle and rain up high into the sunlight.  Ms Judy picked me up and off we headed into town.  It was slow going and we had said we would be there by 4:30, but it turned out to be 5:30 by the time we got there.  Bless there hearts they had sat and waited on me.  I felt so bad, but they took it with kindness, and I knew that when you are depending on rides in the summer rain, it is just not always going to work out the way you might do it on your own.  And who knows if I would have known to start that much earlier to make sure that I got there on time.  All that matters is that they were kind, and I got my toy back. 

I drove to Janak, Geeta and Baa’s for dinner.  It was just the four of us and we had a lovely time.  Geeta and I walked around her garden and had a few quiet moments together.  The food was delicious and Geeta filled containers full and sent them home with me, so I have plenty of food this weekend.  I dove home in my toy with the top down and rain cooled evening blew through the car and I was so happy.  Good food, good friends, a day filled with doing things for myself and with those I love.  I got home and slept well.

Friday morning I got up and ran a few errands making sure that I would have enough animal food while I am gone.  Mid morning Richard and Colleen drove up with my airstream.  My beloved airstream.  I have not gone in and looked in it.  There will be time to go in and clean and get it fixed up later.  But for now my baby is home.  We had a lovely visit.  Very low key, no big deal, just sat around and had some wonderful food and talked and laughed and watched movies.  We were all exhausted and were in bed by 8:30.  I slept in the guest room with the kids.  I wanted to be in that room that in the morning fills with sunlight.  I also wanted to give the bigger bed to the two of them.  I woke around 9:30pm and did not sleep more then 20 minutes at a time after that.  I got up and tried eating a little something.  Nope. I tried taking some anxiety pills, nope.  I trying a cup of chamomile tea, reading, watching TV, going on the computer.  All night I battled with Endarose and sleeplessness.  It has been a long time since I have had this problem.  I had been so relaxed from yoga, and now here I am sleepless.  Now I realize that most of this was Ednarose getting up and down all night.  Normally, I just turn the air conditioner off and open the back door for the kids to come and go as they like and so that means less interruptions.  I also recognize that I was going to loose 2 days of planning and getting ready for the trip that I had thought I had.  And it has been a busy week, so I have managed to get somethings done, but most things still need to be done.  And I have the anxiety back so bad I don’t even want to go to the beach now.

Richard and Colleen left mid morning and I hoped to get dress and run to the store and get things done and back on track.  But I do not function well without sleep.  Especially when I am filled with anxiety.  I don’t know how people live like this.  I have my days of anxiety, but then with no sleep I simply was not functioning.  Then everyone started calling me with their plans. Who wanted what bedroom, which cars should we take, how do we get this out there, or that.  I don’t want to buy food for one day.  On and on it went.  If I had sleep and was not becoming paralyzed with anxiety this would have been a fun part of the trip.  Talking and planning.  But I recognized a couple of weeks ago that I was not up to planning this trip beyond getting the reservation taken care of.  Getting those important to me to the Moondance on the right days.  And after that all I wanted was to drive my convertible out to the beach.  I wanted to have dinner for those arriving the first day and breakfast the next morning.  Other then that I would make sure that I had food for my one day, and if everyone did the same, then we would have all the food taken care of for the week.  And if there was something special someone wanted, I just assumed they would take care of it. 

I know I need sleep.  I am anxious and depressed at this moment.  I have to leave for the Opera House to volunteer for the food booth at the Karaoke thing tonight.  I had a busy schedule and then it got busier.  And I don’t regret getting to be with the people I got to visit with.  That was a surprise.  And it is really no big deal.  We will get there and everything will work out.  But with no sleep, and clenching my jaw until my teeth hurt today, I would just rather not go.  This is not fun for me at the moment.  I am hearing people telling me not to make their schedule when I said I would do yoga each morning and evening and walk on the beach at least an hour twice a day.  Easy goals I thought for myself.  And I guess I made people feel like I was planning the week.  I have tried to be very clear that I did not want to plan the week.  I just wanted to go to the beach with my dearest friends and relax, swim in the warm gulf waters, sit in the white sand, read books, look at the stars at night.  Do stretches in the morning and evening so that I have good days, and well rested nights.  Walking on the beach is one of the things that Vicki and I love most to do, and have done together our entire lives.  I called Ms Judy and let her know I was having a melt down.  Only fair.  Took most of the conversation to get her to realize that I was not blaming anyone.  I was a little unhappy with how people were throwing things back in my face.  But I realized that if I had slept this would probably not be an issue.

And now, writing it out and realizing how small it really is.  I will get done what I can get done and I will get Ednarose to the Golden Acres and I will make sure that the rest of my children are good.  And I will do the best I can about the food, and the rest is well, oh well.  And I will step away from these people whom I love with all my heart and just walk by myself or with my Vicki.  My Vicki is on the road, she is on her way her to me.  My heart should be leaping, but instead it is anxious and dark.  It will be fine when I get there.  I know it.  And even though I am scheduled until 11 tonight, maybe they will have gotten a second shift and I will be able to leave early.  And come home and sleep.  I will get done what I can get done and then just go.  And if I have sleep, and if I can drive along HWY 98 in my silver toy with the wind ruffling my hair, the sun beating down on my arms, my Gator hat blocking the sun from my eyes.  And if I can just breathe, everything will be fine.

Everything will be fine.  I have looked forward to this since last year.  I will not let my lack of sleep and other’s plans take away from my joy.  Each of us will find what we need there.  If not, that is our own faults, no one else’s.  And everything will work out better then we could even begin to imagine it.  And I will get some sleep and it will be OK.  I feel so small complaining about this.  How grateful I am to have my toy, to have a week with dearest ones on a gorgeous beach in a house to ourselves.  With time to relax and enjoy each other and laugh and talk and read and kick back.  It will be wonderful.  But right this moment.  I have to be honest.  I don’t want to go.  I have allowed my exhaustion to take their words and twist them around to hurt me.  They never meant it.  And I understand going to the Opera House in the next five minutes is not going to give me sleep.  But it will take an obligation that I committed myself to and have it completed so that I don’t feel guilty over that.  I already feel guilty that I don’t want to do this beach trip now.  Guilt.  Ugh.  The worst of the emotions.  I have called some of the people and told them that I am having this melt down.  And I will be fine, but just be prepared.  The happy, relaxed yoga infused woman is gone.  The exhausted, sad, anxious woman is here.  I will do my best between now and when I pull into the Moondance to get back to me.  To get back to the person I want to be.  That my friends enjoy being around.

It will be OK.  It will be better then OK.  I will post from the beach, and I am sure by that time I will be full of happy moments of sunshine and laughter and talk and dancing in the screened porch looking out over the trees to the gulf and stars and a moon that maybe almost new by the time we leave.  Sigh.  Sometimes just writing it out, gets it.