Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guest Post from Dina Gripenstraw

Dina is a nurse in Sacrammento and is the daughter of my dear friend, Chris Ballin.

"I had a patient yesterday who was the same age as my mom and had a similar cancer. She wasn't doing well and her doctor went into her room for a frank discussion with her and her family. He came, with much love, with the decision to stop treatment and let her die.

Our beautiful, kind and gentle chaplain Laura and I were at her bedside. I was administering morphine for comfort, and Laura said to her "Are you afraid to die?" So direct, just like I felt when you and I were there with my mom and the hospice nurse. Remember? You and I are the only two people on this earth who remember that, one of the most horrible moments of my life.

My patient immediately, peacefully, answered "No, not at all." I took a huge breath and left the room and wanted to cry all day, but I didn't. I took excellent care of my patient and her two sons, dealt with loads of bullshit (sorry, another cuss word) on a busy ICU day outside her room, and finished my day.

Laura came by at the end of the day to check on our patient and I told her that the moment we had shared earlier was very hard for me because I had a very similar moment with my mom before she died. She said, "Your mom was not afraid, she worked so hard and found peace. Her biggest concern was for your daughter; she talked about her all the time."

I was taken by surprise for two reasons. First, I realized that this chaplain who I work with daily had spoken extensively with my mom while she was a patient in my hospital. Why hadn't I realized this before? Second, I never perceived my mom as "working hard" to find peace through her journey with cancer. (Excuse me, but I have to say right here, Fuck Cancer!!).

Could it be that she made it look easy to me? Could it be that she hid the struggle part? I never saw it. And then the painful reminder of the lost relationship between Corrie and my mom became again too painful for me to bear. I've been tired and somber, resting all day, and finally realized what I wanted to say on your blog. Simply post for me, Fuck Cancer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So You Think You're Smarter Than a 2nd Grader

I'm back in the classroom, part-time, and am reminded of how and why I got here. They keep me humble, inspired, and on my toes. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Invest in the human soul."

""Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough." Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary Jane McLeod was born in South Carolina, the 15th of 17 children. Scholarships enabled her to attend Scotia Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. Turned down when she applied to go to Africa as a missionary, she returned to the South. She met and married Albertus Bethune, and began to teach school.

In Daytona, Florida, in 1904 she scraped together $1.50 to begin a school with just 5 pupils. She called it the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. A gifted teacher and leader, Mrs. Bethune ran her school with a combination of unshakable faith and remarkable organizational skills. She was a brilliant speaker and an astute fund raiser. She expanded the school to a high school, then a junior college, and finally it became Bethune-Cookman College.

Continuing to direct the school, she turned her attention to the national scene, where she became a forceful and inspiring representative of her people. First through the National Council of Negro Women, then within Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the National Youth Administration, she worked to attack discrimination and increase opportunities for Blacks. Behind the scenes as a member of the "Black cabinet," and in hundreds of public appearances, she strove to improve the status of her people.

From the Women in History website

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Any Doubts? I Think Not!

Politician: a person experienced in the art or science of government

Statesman: one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship

At last!

Continuing Tributes

The latest guest contribution from Saundra Curry:





























Beyond Belief

There a Light All Over the World

(click on image for larger version)
I spent most of yesterday crying for joy at this momentous change. Today is harder. Where do I go from here? What can I do to support this new administration? What can we, as a society, do to fulfill the promise? Let me know if you have any ideas.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes We Can!

I'm pleased to introduce a new concept, guest bloggers, and my first guest, Jean Zlotkin, who wrote this wonderful tribute to our new president.

E Pluribus Unum
Commemorating Inauguration Day 2009

It is no surprise to me, Mr. Obama,
that you are standing
where you are today,
though some might think

It is no surprise to me that
someone of your mixed ethnicity
has been chosen from among us all
to serve not only America
but also, in effect, the world, and
Earth, herself.

It is no surprise to me
that someone of your sensibilities
recognized that America can yet be
what those first leaders long ago
envisioned but is yet far from reality.

It is no surprise to me that your
mother, my contemporary,
afforded you the opportunity
to blend race and cultural differences
into a family.

All these are the reasons so many
young people, old people, white people
black people, rich people, poor people
scared yet excited people,
sent their dollars and their hopes,
their prayers and their votes
your way.

Tuesday we will hold our breath
as you take that oath,
feel our eyes water, our chests
tighten, our hearts burst,
with hope -- and fear,
for so much is at stake.

Not just America, and our way of life,
but the great ideals that gave us birth,
almost lost, it seemed, just yesterday;
not only humans but all life forms
depend, now, on what we do,
and how we do it.

So, it will not surprise me
that you may ask us,
when you speak on Tuesday,
to remember that it takes
a village to change a culture,
and courage to follow a leader.

It will not surprise me if you say
the road is long, the way is hard
and the dangers lie ahead,
not behind. And tell us also that
the way is wide enough for us all.

E pluribus unum maybe read
Out of many, one; or some say
One, from many; either way
we must travel together.

And it does not surprise us
that you will lead the way.

JMZ 1/17/09

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday

Times like this I wish I was a believer and could imagine Dr. King, looking down from heaven, preparing to watch an event that was unimaginable in his lifetime. He would no doubt be proud, not only of President-elect Obama, but of his own work that forged the path, making this historic event possible.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Groundhog Day

So, this morning, for the millionth time, I'm standing at my mechanic's front counter talking about gaskets and fluids and funny noises and . . . well you get the picture.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Learning to Sit in the Silence

Much of what I became as an adult, I owe to my stepmother, Jo. We shared a home for only seven years, but she was responsible for my ability to cook, clean, sew, garden, and take care of a new baby at 17. Through the years we moved past any minor conflict we might have had and became close friends.

Mom was recently diagnosed with early Alzheimer's, the disease that steals. I
visited her in Sacramento this weekend. We sat for hours, gently nudging our common experience for elusive bits of memory. Sometimes there was laughter, but mostly a common sense of loss and longing. The tears are still stuck in my throat.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cindy & Sandy's Awesome Adventure: Day 3

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go to the laundromat on our way out.

I'm sparing everyone the photos of the 122 car freight train, our breakfast break at Coco's, the cheap gas place where we were a hair's breadth away from a fist fight. I'm not even including our dinner stop at Cholame (famous for being near where James Dean met his end).

But I had to share at least one shot from a beautiful cutoff (Hwy 223) we took to prolong our trip. And, last and least, my photography innovation: amazing photos through the windshield. Take a road trip. It's good for what ails you. Thanks for watching.

Cindy & Sandy's Awesome Adventure: Day 2

After a great breakfast and a tour of a fabulous historical museum in Beatty, we headed for Rhyolite, a beautifully preserved ghost town. For anyone with an unfulfilled sense of adventure, BLM has the Rhyolite Mercantile up for sale.
But we were really blown away by the outdoor sculpture exhibit on private land just outside Rhyolite.
The rest of the afternoon we explored the Death Valley museum, stopped for an early dinner, and ended our day on a beautiful loop that showcased outstanding desert color. Did I mention our strategy of not booking lodging in advance? Leaving Death Valley we drove to Shoshone where we watched in horror as the couple in front of us took the last available room. The manager kindly called ahead to Delight's Hot Spring Resort. For a mere $95 we got a bed and a half, a toilet and sink, running cold water, and a good laugh.

Cindy & Sandy's Amazing Adventure: Day 1

After a quick fandango with Daisy the Dog, we set out for Death Valley, accompanied by Terry Gross and a contingent of famous comedians.400 miles and a really bad breakfast later, we're on Highway 395, nearing the turnoff to Death Valley. (The sign was way more interesting than the merchandise.) Our first stop inside the park is breathtaking. What we don't quite realize at the time is that we will gain and lose (and gain and lose) over 4,000 feet in the next couple of hours. (Cindy is an awesome driver.)
After a short break in Stovepipe Wells for sodas and photos, we're off to Beatty (as in Warren) to find the place where they're keeping the light on for us.