Sunday, November 30, 2014

I have learned in this life is to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the unexpected turns out to be the better than the most expected.

I think it was in 1981. I was shopping with Phyllis’ mother in Rhode Island. On our way into a store, there was a boy with a wagon load of puppies. Of course, I had to stop. I fell in love immediately, but I went into the store empty-handed.

But the pups were still there when we were outbound. Compulsiveness is my middle name when it comes to animal adoption. I think I paid the kid five bucks for this little bundle of fur. Kahlua was to be my first dog of my own. Kahlua, aka Kal or Lou, was a German Shepherd Collie.

Phyllis wasn’t mad at me even though I hadn’t asked her if it was okay. But what was I thinking? We lived in a small apartment in Boston. At first, I used to have to carry Kahlua down the three flights of stairs. He didn’t have enough bladder control to walk down stairs without leaving a trail.

What an incredible dog Kahlua turned out to be. I could ride my bike and have him walk on the side walk. He learned that if the sidewalk ended, he stopped and wouldn’t cross until I gave him the go ahead. Later on during our Eugene years, he took this same lesson to the bike path. He could be way ahead of me when another bike, dog, or pedestrian would come by and the sit command dropped him in his tracks. Some people were amazed that he would do this. Other people would yell at me for having my dog off a leash even though the dog didn’t flinch.

While I was undergoing chemotherapy for Kidney Cancer, Kahlua suddenly had problems walking. Sylvia and I had to move him like he was a wheelbarrow. A heavy wheelbarrow. I took him to one of the best animal orthopedics in Eugene, Barclay Slocum. What an amazing man he turned out to be.

Dr. Slocum said that Kahlua needed a very expensive surgery to repair the paralysis, and even though he couldn’t give me more than a fifty-fifty odds that the surgery would be successful, I was not ready to end this priceless relationship I had developed. As a result of the stress that weighed heavy on my mind, I was hospitalized with an intense migraine, though when I called my dad from the hospital, I think that setting helped my chances of getting money from my dad.

The surgery was very successful and worth the couple of thousand that it cost to repair his back. I was released from the hospital in time to watch the surgery and spend every second with Kahlua while he recovered.

By 1991 I had regained my health and even finished my BA in English from the University of Oregon. Life was looking up. But then Kahlua was diagnosed with thyroid cancer; it looked like he had swollen several tennis balls. Typically my regular vet, Devon, would have treated Kahlua, but she was recuperating from a bad car accident, so I was referred to Westmoreland Veterinary. I recall being told that the treatment was not only effective, but that it wasn’t that costly. At least that’s probably what I wanted to hear.

We had finished the chemo and it seemed as though the treatment had worked. The FDA had just given the okay for this five hundred dollar drug that could be given to prevent the cancer from coming back. I really was at odds as to whether to buy the insurance treatment. I had recently met a dog that was undergoing the same cancer treatment, but the cancer came back.

And that’s exactly the same thing that happened to Kahlua. I had bought myself perhaps a year or so of time with him, but it’s impossible for me to put a price tag on something that I love.Kahlua and me 1983?

Common Name but Uncommon People

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I came across a postcard from 1988. Linda Williamson, a woman I met through a Wings Seminar that she was facilitating with Noni Allerdice. Her name reverberates within me as if I small flat rock skipped through my soul. What an incredible woman she was. I went to her memorial service, and even though I hadn’t seen her for many years, I felt a strong connection with her. I vaguely recall that she was a fellow Piscean. I recall that she had incredible blue eyes. Such a pure spirit. Crystal clear.

Even though Linda’s been dead for a few years or so, I tried to do some research on her name, hoping that I could come up with something like perhaps where she was born or at least when she died, but this venture has turned into quite a different adventure, looking at people who share her name.

I came across a Linda Williamson that probably would have gotten along well with the Linda I once knew as they had so much in common. The Williamson i don’t know is a hypnotist. The web page described her as having a  “Master’s training in Psychology and as an NLP Master Practitioner and EFT Facilitator… .” I don’t know what an EFT facilitator does, though i do believe the Linda Williamson I knew had experience with Neuro Linguistic Programming. She sure had a keen way of reading people. I was intrigued with the Williamson that I stumbled upon since she combines “traditional psychology with the Laws of Mind and the Universe and other mind-body modalities with this hypnosis training.” I don’t really know what all of this means, but it makes me think of the movie and book, “The Secret.” Maybe one of these days I’ll blog about that incredible movie.

I don’t think this next Linda Williamson is the same as the hypnotist, but she sounds equally as fascinating; she writes books about spirits such as Ghosts and Earthbound Spirits: Recognize and Relaese the Spirits Trapped in the World. For some of you, this may sound absurd, but for me I find the subject fascinating. There’s so much we don’t know about spirit, mind, and the combination. I think the Linda Williamson who does hypnosis should meet the author of “Finding the Spirit Within: A Medium Shows the Way.”

And then there’s the Linda Williamson who is a photographer that shows how inter related we all are. Is it a coincidence that this Linda Williamson has pictures of the “Make Way for Ducklings” and the Swan Boats of Boston. “Make Way for Ducklings was one of my favorite children’s books, especially since the story takes place in Boston, my birthplace. And the Swan boats? My grandmother used to take us to ride the boats on the Boston Common; we would also feed the ducks.

And then there’s a Linda Williamson from North Carolina. She describes her blogs as: “My blog was established as an outlet to spill out the running dialogue in my head.  The subject matter ranges from timely nonfiction topics, to snippets of fiction that may one day become a book.” This words really resonated with me as this is what my own blog is about. I just subscribed to her blog, so I’m excited to read her work.

According to one web page, there are at least 966 Linda Williamsons. I wonder how many, if any, have met someone that shares their name. I guess I find this extra fascinating since there’s just one Susan Honthumb. In fact, I can count all of the Honthumbs in the entire world on one hand since the name is so rare.

This is probably the strangest blog I’ve ever written, but these are the things that fascinate me. Time to feed the dogs.

Number 5749

Saturday, November 29, 2014

In June 1988 I was supposed to wear number 5749 as we biked from Seattle to Portland. I had never participated in this kind of challenge before. The virgin numbers still sit in the envelope that had been mailed me. I never got a chance to take the test, or at least that test. Instead of biking between two states, I was being tested on my resolve to live.

It’s been a while since I have written about this phase of my life, though I think about it constantly.

Instead of relying on my shaky memory, I’m going to open up my journals of 1988. Since I am a sequential person, I am looking at January, 1988, though I probably need to focus on just May. Just because the cancer was diagnosed in May doesn’t mean my life was a Merry-Go-Around. January 5th I mention that “lots of stuff brewing.” But without reading instead of skimming, I don’t really know what I was referring to, though it doesn’t take much to remind me how fucked up I was.

I was still reeling after the effects of seeing family movies that my dad had thoughtfully had pulled together; instead of taking pleasure in seeing pictures of my mom and dad’s wedding, their honeymoon, and all the subsequent firsts of daughters being born and growing up, I focused on what I didn’t see rather than what I saw. I didn’t see me as a baby. I think I may have been in the production a couple of times.

I wrote my dad my response, and it probably hurt his feelings that I was more disappointed than appreciative. I’ve always struggled with this. He wrote me back and said, “Susan, it was very foolish of you to read anything in to the fact that there were no pictures of you coming home from the hospital. Just the pictures alone showed that each year I took fewer and fewer movies to the extent that one 50 foot reel, five minutes, covered several years. Obviously, the title preceeding your appearance on the scene, was a flip way of covering up my ‘goof’.”

Yes, my life was brewing, but not in a good way.

I had recently started to climb out of the hole I had dug by participating in Wings Seminars.

A close friend, Peter Büttner was dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Later on Pete, one of my strongest allies, gave me  the book Love, Medicine, and Miracles by Bernie Siegel. Had a been diagnosed yet? I don’t think so. What a valiant man.

Speaking of Valiant man. I mentioned that I had been watching Oprah and Robin Williams was on. I did refer to him as “what’s his name” so I was not familiar with his comic genius yet.

Getting a ten cent an hour raise to do inventory for RGIS only ticked me off. I do recall going on strike in Medford or somewhere cold. That’s a different story.

Does my niece Meghan still have a dent in her head? I totally forgot that she fell off the jungle gym and her mom, my sister, Pam, said in a letter that Meg would have a dent in her head for the rest of her life.

I’m thinking about you Meghan as you get ready to deliver baby number three. Prayers for speed and health.

Gotta speed the process up. The word cancer causes me to stop in my tracks, though i don’t know until after I read if I am aware of my own diagnosis yet. I sometimes wonder if I knew before I knew. I refer to Pete’s struggle on figuring out why Cancer was in his life and I ask myself if Cancer is a personal disease or a haphazard one. Do we Bring it on?

In February, 1988 I celebrated three years of sobriety. That feels like a million life-times ago.

I had a lot of people in my life. Many names I don’t remember. Many that I miss.

Fast forwarding through April, 1988. I was still playing soccer. New Relationship. School at Lane Community College and the University of Oregon. RGIS work. Kahlua Dog. Stanley Cat. Lots of writing. I was still two years away from my B.A., something I had been working on off and on for ten years.

My brand new color television, the first color television that I ever owned, had fallen on the floor and was going to cost $150 to fix. I think it sat in the repair shop for a month or so.

I’ve finally hit a nugget. I wrote my niece, Kara a letter. “I am doing pretty good considering that my body feels as though it has been run over by a train. Do you ever feel that way? Well, I have been working hard at getting in shape for a long bike trip: 200 miles in two days; that is a lot of biking…. Then Monday I had a soccer game. This time one of the goalies was out sick and so I sort of volunteered to play… It’s been ten years since I played goal and I surprised myself by still having what it takes.” (insanity.) I actually used that word, “Unfortunately part of what it takes is a bit of insanity.” I got kicked in the stomach. I was thinking that I bruised some ribs. “I will recuperate by resting and stretching out a lot.” How about surgery and cancer therapy?

I have about a week of not journaling, On May 13th I wrote from Sacred Heart Hospital where I had been a patient for a week. I was having a hard time writing about having cancer. Between the pain meds and my dad being in the room, I didn’t feel comfortable, though mostly I just didn’t want to face the truth.

I must have been home on May 16th. My dad wouldn’t let me go outside to get the mail since it was too cold outside. That says a lot.

It’s kind of funny that I even got a letter from the Weston St. Peter’s Church. Last August he couldn’t remember who I was…

And my sister Deb was pregnant. Lots going on.

Unfortunately, there’s no suspense in reading my journal, though I always discover  some ideas that I hadn’t realized until many years later.

It’s rather obvious that I survived having Wilm’s Kidney Cancer. Almost Twenty-Seven years. Almost half of my life. I wonder if this means I should get back on my bike?

I’ve always written

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I’ve always written. Or at least it seems that way. My favorite biggest sister story involves writing my Name. I don’t have the slightest idea how old I was. Maybe Barbara remembers. I’d like to think I was young and ahead of the developmental schedule in learning how to write; that makes me a feel a bit better. Let’s say I was five. Not even a five-year-old likes to get snookered.

Somehow my sister Barbara, ten years my senior, taught me how to spell my name Susan. I practiced. And practiced. Remember, this is my version through my memory. I’d like to think I have always been obsessive in needing to work hard in becoming good at something. After practicing proficiency, I went running to my mom, exclaiming that I could write “Susan.” I carefully wrote out my name: M-O-N-S-T-E-R. it was just one letter off.

I think Barbara got into trouble, but that was close to fifty years ago. This may have been the beginning of my love-affair with the written word. I have vague recollections o torturing my sister Deb with manual-typed harassing messages that I would slide under the door. It didn’t really take much for us to fight, though it took even less for us to forgive. Since Deb was only four years older, and my other two sisters were basically grown up, it seemed as though it were just she and I. And my dad. I always believed that she was his favorite, though he tried very hard to be “fair.”

Writing, especially after my mom died, became my sounding board. Yeah,, I always had the dog to talk to, but it wasn’t quite the same as pouring my heart out onto a piece of paper.

I think I was in Junior High when we read The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Maybe it was in high school. I probably have the story somewhere in a box. I don’t think I have thrown anything that I have written away. This includes anything written to me, i.e. Letters, cards, emails. After forty-something years, I’ve got a lot of paper to recycle. It’s only been recently that I’ve thought that it will be okay for people to read what I have written after I have died. Before I have always thought how I really need to pitch all of this stuff before I die so that Sylvia doesn’t have to sort through a lot of crap.

Anyway, I had an assignment where I had to write myself into a Walter Mitty Story. I dreamed of beating Bobby Orr and Phil Espisito (Forgive me Phil for not remembering how to spell your name.) in a two against one. Terry O’Reilly hadn’t started yet.

I have always been good at hitting the soft spot of the reader, and since I was extremely sad then,, I wrote how I was a famous surgeon, but not even I could help save President Kennedy. Yes, I’m dating myself with this story. At the end, my final fantasy was that I would be once again with my mom, and no she hadn’t come back to life. This may have been the time the school started to force me to see the counselor. Ellsbury? I can’t remember the school counselor’s name, but I hated it. It only caused me to start to lie to get out of seeing her.

My writing has always been my voice when I couldn’t express myself. Sometimes it has helped me to sort through ideas. Most of the time the words have saved me. I’ve only lost one job because of these words. I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop kicking myself in the butt for that mistake.

I’m feeling rather excited and very nervous as to what the ramifications will be by releasing these words out into the world rather than secretly horde them for my own. Only time will see.

A Family Affair

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The other day I was mulling over the concept of where I am supposed to be. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Being sick for the past few weeks has given me plenty of downtime to stew a little. Sometimes I can be my worst enemy.

But in this case, I realized that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Right now.

When I walked into the old Thomas Jefferson Middle School building last October, I had never heard of the Family School. Like so many other times, I accepted a substitute teaching position, but this one was as an elementary physical education teacher.

In high school, I dreamed of teaching elementary school. I went to school to become a physical education teacher. But back then in the “good old days” a torn ACL and MCL was the end of the road for not only my being an athlete, but for being a pe teacher. Can’t do it, can’t teach it. That was Ithaca College’s philosophy as was Northeastern University.

I settled on being an English teacher. But who really wants to go to English class? How many people really want to read and read things that they may not want to read like Dracula  or War of the Worlds?  and write? So many people hate to write.

But who doesn’t like to play? So, after spending my first ten years as a teacher, five at a very strict and structured military-style school, landing in an alternative family-oriented elementary school gave me a new lease on life.

This was the job that I really, really wanted. I applied. I held my breathe in anticipation. I felt despair when I didn’t even land an interview. But I had been doing the job for weeks. Unfortunately, with the No Child Left Behind laws, since I don’t have a physical education endorsement, I wasn’t qualified to teach pe. Didn’t matter that I’ve been an athlete in a wide range of sports for over forty years. Didn’t matter that I am a highly qualified elementary teacher, though just grades three through five. I’d have to go back to school for the fourth time to pick up grades K-2. Six hundred dollars and up for a Graduate credit has a way of stopping me from doing that. It didn’t matter that I do have a K-12 Reading Specialist endorsement, my newest addition to my HQ status.

Turns out, no one else who applied for the position had the endorsement either. They’ve re-posted the job. So, I’ve continued to work with the kids. Even though I’ve been been teaching at the Family School, I have only spent fourteen days with these kiddos. But I have fallen in love with them, especially the ones with quarks and spectrum issues. I see their faces in my thoughts as I ponder what went wrong and what went well.

I know I’ll be back next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Beginning of December, but the rest of the future is unknown. All I can do is to focus on being where I’m supposed to be even if it means it’s not permanent and enjoy the moments.

I’d be lying if I say I won’t be sad or not shed a tear or two when I leave, but I’m hoping the memories of the smiles and hugs and even tears will support my next chapter.



Monday, November 24, 2014

I love football. I  am watching the New Orleans Saints take on the Baltimore Ravens. NO and Drew Brees have a field goal better. How many of you do not care one darn bit? I  do not really care, either. That is: I do not care who wins. I don’t like Flacco better than Steve Smith, though I admire Smith for his longevity. I do care about seeing great plays.

Tenacity and faith. Last week, Thursday to be exact, i did not care if the Oakland Raiders beat..Who? I barely remember.  Kansas City Chiefs. Derek Carr, and i sure had to dig deep into the recesses of my mind to pull his name out. The Big Bad Raiders had not won a game in fifteen tries. Derek, a rookie had not won a game in the National Football League in ten or eleven tries. Until then. Carr thanked God and Jesus and his linemen. Commendable. Honorable.

I am not sure what it is about football that draws me in. It is strange to like a sport in which people of my gender can’t  play. I used to have a T-shirt that said, “You don’t need balls to play.” Afterall, football is just about men beating other me. I used to even like boxing, but i think Sugar Ray and Muhammed Ali was the end of the road for that  like.

There are some football players who are not athletes.Refrigerator Perry should have sold appliances or delivered them. I am sorry, but three hundred and up with humongous bellies hanging are not in my category of athleticism. But you can not argue with those get both toes in bounds while diving for the ball.

I like that in football, seconds last an entirety. New conclusion. If i watch a lot of football, will I live longer?

101st Blog

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I’ve written about my cats. My stories. I even wrote about my ability to manipulate people. Aside from my loyal friend Bex, I’ve not heard a peep. Not one iota. (I’m not sure what number that would.)

Why is that?

Is it that I’m the kind of writer who throws caution to the wind and lets the words fall all over the page and don’t rake up the leaves of comma spices, run-on sentences, or wrong word usage? Really? I guess if that’s the case, I better keep on writing for myself. Maybe one of these days other people will figure it out. Maybe not.

Since I have been on such a serious kick lately. Life. Death. Purpose. Cats. I think I’ll let my hair down and go down a different alley. I love to mix metaphors and I don’t have much hair to let down.

I’ve written about music. I know lots of music from the 70s. I thought it is time to update the RAM. I have heard of Lorde and the song “Royals.” I have listened it a few times on the radio. Sometimes I change the station. Sometimes I sing along.

This song was taken seriously in San Fran during the World Series. Radio stations were not allowed to play it. Really? Seriously? I guess it worked since the Giants and the Big Panda trounced the underdogs. Since I’m a Red Sox fan, the baseball season was over before it even started. There’s always next year, especially if we land the Big Panda. He’d go well with the Big Papi.

Back to the song. For the first time I listened to the song a few times, read the lyrics. I never could figure out the gold teeth and whatever. It would be cool to have a tiger, but not on a leash.

I did notice someone made a comment on YouTube that Lorde shouldn’t be singing about be poor because she is a millionaire now. Another really is coming your way.  Did she get that money, that voice, the skill by sitting in her livingroom playing video games or did she work for it? I don’t know. I know absolutely nothing about Lorde. I don’t even know what her name is.

I liked the line about Driving Cadallacs in our dreams. (Damn it. I can’t spell that car brand…Can’t rely on Facebook. I’m thinking it is Cadillac…)

My dad drove a Cadillac. I did like his other boat, the Pontiac. Just lost the name. Sorry. It may come back. Not even sure if it was a Pontaic. Might have been a Buick. Yes. Buick Riviera. That thing flew. V8. Sucked gas as if it were going out of style and part of the time in my teens it was. I remember long lines.

Lorde sings about being ashamed of her address. I can relate, but for the polar opposite reason. I used to not tell people I was from Weston, Massachusetts. I worried that people would judge me, coming from such a rich community. I guess we were rich and then we weren’t. Economy took a nose dive and my dad lost his shorts. (What did I say about mixing metaphors?) Big Papi lives in Weston. I have no clue where. When I went back to visit my stomping ground, it was so different. My house, a small ranch, somewhat small back then, has swollen and isn’t recognizable. That house held four kids and my parents. We all had a room. But it wasn’t humongous as it is now, and I think that there’s just a few people living there.

The hardest part about going back home, and I’ll try to skip over the part that you can never go home again, is that they tore up the pool and put in a green, green, lawn. Probably takes less chemicals to keep the grass clean than the pool, but still. That pool was the magnet of neighborhood fun. Parties. Barbecues. I can see the slide and the diving board. I can remember that I was afraid of swimming alone when the movie Jaws came out. (I have a very wild imagination. You never know what’s on the other side of that drain.)

I suppose the insurance would be high. A family with young kids or kid is taking a risk. But still. How could they have taken away what was almost like a national landmark?

I want to know what Lorde meant about how her friends and she has cracked the code. Does that have something to do with the line of life is great without a care? Is that possible. Is that why we drink and do drugs so we can get to that point? Is it possible to get there without those things? I’ve never figured it out. If you can help me out, let me know.Cadillac

I talk to strangers

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I’m the kind of person who may drive you crazy. I’m the one who will strike up a conversation with someone in a grocery line, on the bus, on the airplane, though I think I am a bit discriminating and pick up on the vibes that tells me that tells me to remain quiet. Over the years, I have had amazing conversations. I know that it’s easier to talk to someone, at least it is for me, that I will never see again, or if I do, the statistics aren’t so great.

Yesterday was my last day in selling Kettle Korn at the University of Oregon Autzen stadium where my beloved UO Ducks play, and there are two conversations that stand out, though I don’t remember if one of the dialogues happened this year or last year, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t to me.

I don’t know why not everyone takes the bus shuttles to the Stadium. It’s a good idea to take your car if you like traffic and bottle necks. No, I don’t have the slightest idea how many people can fit into the stadium that has records for selling out. I’m sure someone could tell me. Eugene loves their ducks. And they love their cars. There’s a place that charges $40 to park their car, and it’s still a bit of a walk to the stadium. A fool and his money shall be parted.

But there are plenty of sane people, practical people, who take the shuttle from various locations. I use the South Eugene High School location. Sometimes I question the direction the bus goes, but even then we get there ahead of lots of people as we have our own special lane.

Yesterday, I climbed up the Blue Bird School Bus stairs. An older bus. No blue specks on the floor. The bus was looking rather full, so I asked this man in the front right seat if I could sit next to him.

I was looking forward to the game, the last game of the home season, not because it was the last game and last chance to sell Kettle Korn, but I was feeling pretty good after being sick for a dozen days. I felt relief. I felt alive. I just couldn’t contain myself so I started up a conversation with this guy. He just seemed like a nice person.

I will be the first person to admit, that I sometimes say things I probably ought not to say. Can I blame medication? Anyway, I had gotten the hit that this man had been a former football player; his lack of diminutive size gave me that impression. I could easily have insulted him when I asked him if he had played football in his younger days. I had no idea if he were my age or older.

He Had played. I can’t remember the high school. He did play for the University of Oregon. I didn’t recognize any of the names he tossed about. I name-dropped Lionel Coleman’s name, and he brightened up when I mentioned his name. Choo-Choo had come a little bit before him. We both agreed that Mr. Coleman is one of the sweetest men around. I think we mentioned Danny O’Neil, a quarterback from yesteryear, and he said he was before him. I do believe he said that Rich Brooks had just started coaching perhaps his Freshman or Sophomore or…. That’s been a while.

The father of two boys, coaches at Churchill High. I confused that high school with Sheldon and remarked that he had a really good team. Not that Churchill is a bad team, but Sheldon is one of those dominant schools.

We talked about being an athlete. I meandered on how sports saved my life. I know that if it hadn’t been for ice hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and for all of those coaches who took me under their wings, I would have been successful in committing suicide. Sports gave me an outlet, a release. It also gave me a purpose because I was good. I think I was. But who knows.

I told him that the one thing that I hate about our society is that girls and women are still limited to what sports we can play. I would have loved to play football. He said that he actually had a girl who was on the team at Elmira High School. He had provided a dressing room, got equipment, but then one day she and her brother just disappeared. Poof. I thought about the girl, young woman, I met at the Willamette Leadership Academy, perhaps my first year teaching there. She was being beaten; her dad admitted it; said it was his right. We got the law and Children’s Services involved, but this fifteen or sixteen-year-old was too old for the foster system. She and her siblings were pulled out of school. I wonder what happened to them.

I can only hope that a coach or teacher or neighbor stepped in and re-directed their paths. That’s the only thing I can do is hope.

Manipulation. Good, Bad, or Both?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I am a master manipulator. When I am in the spotlight with thirty or more students, I want to manipulate their behavior with the explicit purpose of student learning. The last few days I’ve been using a point system. They talk, and I get a point. They follow expectations of being quiet and raising their hand, and they get a point. I’m a softy as they do earn points a lot quicker than I do, but this tactic is working like a charm.

This Saturday, and prior Saturday’s when the University of Oregon has home football games, I don my manipulation cap and sell Kettle Korn. Being nice to people. Creating eye contact. Making people feel special. These are all ingredients to causing people to buy from me. I’m not saying they only buy because of my sales wizardy, many buy because the product is really good and they would buy even if I weren’t standing there.

On the other hand, and my sisters can probably attest to this, I know how to work things to get my way, and I’ll be the first to admit that while growing up, I was a God Awful Brat when I didn’t get my way. Okay, I still do that sometimes, but I’m working on it.

While in Teacher School, one of the things that was repeated: “Be nice to school secretaries.” I do try to be nice to everyone, but I tend to be a little bit extra syrupy when I need something. Yeah, I admit that when I was that person in control of supplies at job, if someone was not nice to me, I tended to put their order on a slight hold.

When I think about the word manipulation, I think that this is a negative trait. Sneaky. Underhanded. Inauthentic. And yet, perhaps to just justify my actions, manipulation does mean to move around, to build, to create.

One of the things I can do in the future is to focus where my energy is. Am I only nice to someone when I can benefit or am I nice to someone regardless? I will be paying closer attention to this and only hope I can be honest with myself.

70´s music ruined my memory

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How many of can sing along  Seals and Crofts’ “I’ll play for you?”

Even though I absolutely love music, perhaps passionately,   I don’t listen to it much unless I am in my car, and then it is loud. Crazy loud. I should be deaf, but hearing it’s one of my strongest of senses. Sometimes sounds can be rather disrupting.

Today, my gym was being used for photographs. (Notice the pronoun of my? I am possessive of the gym I having been working in for the past seven or so weeks, albeit just three days. I am subbing in the position I applied for but didn’t even get an interview. Luckily for me, elementary pe highly qualified teachers are a rare breed, so I get to keep subbing. I confess that I have fallen in love with these kids.

I better change the subject or i’ll start to cry. My Smart Phone isn’t waterproof.

Seventies music has made me so happy the past few days. I had such a good time Monday, I didn’t watch Monday Night Football. This says a lot.

Sometimes I listen to the 70s music on the music choice channel on the television. Cher is singing “The Way of Love” is singing right now. I haven’t heard this song in many years. But I know most of the song and a lot of joy my comes from my singing along. If I stop thinking or judging my singing abilities, I think I have a pretty good voice. At least it doesn’t hurt my own eats.

My voice is more like B.J. Thomas ” I just can’t help beloevin’ ” than Cher. She’s a bit high for me. Some of you may be asking who the heck B.J. Thomas is. His song is familiar in my memory banks, but I am so sorry B.J. I have no clue who you are. Don’t feel bad I didn’t recognize Average White Band, but I knew the song “cut the cake.”

I have been listening to old stuff on Pandora. I think it called American Channel, but the Beatles aren’t American. Very rarely is there a song or artist from this period I don’t recognize. Pacific Gas and Electric. Who? I have never heard the song “Are You Ready?” What am I ready for? I like the song, though I am not about to buy any of their music. Now if we are talking that other group with electric in it. Electric Orchestra Company? I am pretty sure that’s the name. Also known ELO. Normally I would jump up from my recliner and look at my CD collection, but Ricky Dog has me pinned in the chair. He keeps me planted.

Maybe it is not fair to compare the digital music to Pandora. I don’t want to pay for Pandora, so I have to suffer through the commercials. But I do pay for the digital music. Sort of. Pandora repeats songs. The digital music channel doesn’t repeat very often. And on the digital  channel plays music I have never heard. Who is jim stafford?

I almost forgot to link this to the title. My tangents sometimes prevent me from a making a point.

I have a pathetic memory. Well, I can remember a lot of artists and lyrics from the 70s. I think my memory got filled before I turned twenty-one. Hell, my first computer, a Commidore Amiga had only 512K memory and I am a lit older than that personal computer.

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Words With Friends

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hi. My name is Susan and I have a problem with Words With Friends, commonly known as WWF. If there’s not a twelve-step program on word game addictions, there should be.

I have at least twenty games of WWF going on at the same time. And it’s not like I can play just one game. No, I’m a true addict where one game just leads to the need to play more games. I’ve tried to cut back, but I’m wondering whether I need to give it up completely.

The question I ask myself is why do I play Words With Friends? Was there something that caused me to start? I suppose I could say that I have been effected by peer pressure. I have never turned down a request to play a game.

Denial and Justification are close cousins. The justifications of being social, word games are educational, and there are worst ways to procrastinate time fends off the feeling that there’s a problem; hence, denial is like a warm coat on a cold winter night.

I was going to write more, but I think I’ll go play another round.

Sickness even offers a lesson or two

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This hour marks a solid week of being sick. I had gone to bed Sunday evening and didn’t get out of bed until Wednesday, and I shouldn’t have gone to work, but I thought that I would sabotage my chances of getting a job that I really, really wanted. I was still so sick that I almost passed out a couple of times, but I stuck the half day out. I promptly returned to bed.

I sure have had a lot of time to think about my life. Where’s it been. Where it’s going.

As I have said more than a few times, I believe that everything happens for a reason; i include illness and disease. I’ve got this little voice inside my head that is telling me that I’m not going get healthy until I learn the lesson. Don’t worry, I don’t always take those voices very seriously.

I’ve not been very good at being sick, for staying down for too long. I’m not keen on depending on others to take care of me. But sometimes I have to do what I don’t want to do.

I will say that I’ve done more writing this week than I have in quite a long time, perhaps even ever. I’m blogging more. I’m journaling more. I’m challenging my friends to keep up with the flurry of emails. I’ve even got a couple of stories started, though I can’t say that too loudly or those stories may hide. They’ve done that before.

So, what have I learned or what am I in the process of learning? That it’s okay to take it easy. I don’t think I have had trouble with that. Asking for help and being specific is a good lesson.

But I think the biggest lesson perhaps is that I would like to a better friend to myself. Not that I’m on the verge of dying or anything that drastic, but ever since I experienced cancer in  1988, it’s always been in the back of my thoughts. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked myself, “What if this is really the end? What would I do.” How would I leave my life, my house, my relationships. Would I have any loose threads?

Cancer had taught me to not take life for granted and that I only have today, but as time moves on, the lessons are like sand on a beach or in a timer, slowly sifting through, and soon enough the lesson is a mere whisper. Life’s not going to let me off that lightly; it will prod me, pinch me, even kick me in the butt so that whisper gets louder. I sure hope I’ve learned it again because I sure am tired of being sick. I definitely know my partner is tired of me being sick.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 45

Share Your World – 2014 Week 45
Posted on November 10, 2014

What is your favorite color?
Purple most of the time, though sometimes Blue makes a comback.
In what do you find the simplest of joys?
Watching my Labradors play.Ricky, Abby, and Lucy061313
Would you prefer a reading nook or an art, craft, photography studio?
That’s a tough one. I thought reading would be easy, and I’m not even sure what a photography studio would look like now with digital cameras. I did a very long time ago have an enlarger, and I never got around to creating a dark room.
What is at least one of your favorite quotes?
Do I really have to answer that? How about,

“There’s no crying in baseball.”

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I’ve been sick for almost a week, so I’m grateful that I’m getting better and I’m looking forward to being able to leave the house.


Saturday, November 15, 2014
(This is something I was writing to my friend Bex in an email. I never cheat and copy and paste my writing from one thing to another, but I’m making an exception this time.)
Stanley was my first cat. All grey. Reminded me of a Russian Blue. Tough cat; my hundred pound dog Kahlua was petrified of Stanley. When Harold and Maude were just pups, Stanley made sure they knew who was boss. It was very funny to watch a six pound cat take on a hundred pound dog, and he did it all with his eyes, a sharp tongue with his Siamese Meow, but the slap to a big black nose every so often punctuated Stanley’s point. Stanley was known to even chase strange dogs out of the yard. He was the King of Rasor Avenue.
Stanley introduced me to the essence of Catness, As I said, I had never had a cat my dad detested them probably more than my current partner does.

I believe that every being, whether it be animal or human, which are animals, this being has something to teach me. I should have known that Stanley was going to be an amazing teacher.

The bond between Stanley and I wasn’t all roses at first; there were plenty of times when I or he pushed the boundaries. One of the things he taught me was to read his body language, his meow, his eyes; he always told me what he was feeling, and if I didn’t pay attention, I would get two paws to the face with all claws out. I was a quick study. If he huffed, I had a choice of either clamping down all four of his weapons or walk away. Yes, he would give me plenty of notice. Perhaps we all do, but I’m not so great at picking up the hints or perhaps I don’t want to.

I learned to watch Stanley’s ears, his eyes. I especially learned to listen to his meow. Once I knew his language, our bond was one of those special ones that I’ll never feel again.
I hadn’t even planned on having a cat. This was an unplanned family.  I hadn’t been living in Eugene for maybe a year or two. At 24 or 25, I was rather a mess. Imagine a big wad of twisted barbwire, and that’s what I was like. I wasn’t even a neat ball of barbed wire, but a tangle that seemed like it had no solution.

I had moved away from Boston, though basically I ran away. My sister Deb came out to visit. I get the suspicion that my dad sent her out to check up on me. They were worried about m. I should have been at least half as.

I took my sister to the sights, the coast and the Buttes. I had to take her to the infamous Saturday Market. There were these two kittens. I am a sucker for a kitten or a puppy or anything cute. Baby snakes do nothing for me. But there was this black one that  drew me to him. Sorry Stanley, but I had always had a soft spot for black cats; you were after all named after my sister Barbara’s black cat Stanley. That’s got to say something. Once I found out their gender, which wasn’t obvious at the time, I landed on Stanley and Oliver.  I had always loved Laurel and Hardy. That comment is for the younger readers.
I brought Stanley and Oliver home, and they taught me, trained me to be their servants. At least these guys were indoor/outdoor cats, so I didn’t have to sift kitty poo like it was gold.  Oliver had this thing about sleeping on my head. I’m not sure why, but Oliver would gently bite my chin. Love bites. Stanley preferred to be under the covers with me. I would wake to hearing, feeling Stanley gently pawing at the covers to signal he was ready for bed. I would lift the covers and he would come under and curl up against my body, purring me back to sleep. My present partner came after the cats, so even though she was used to cats staying outdoors, my cats were grandfathered in.

As I said, animals com into our lives to teach us something, and sometimes the lesson isn’t learned during their lifetime. Sometimes seeds are spread, but the learning doesn’t happen for years. And unfortunately, to make that lesson even more powerful, the cat is not destined to be in my life for very long. Oliver was one of those fleeting brushes with a spark, a little meteor, bright for such a short while, but too bright to sustain the fire for very long. Oliver. The cat that the night would engulf him and leave only his eyes; I often teased him about being a Cheshire Cat. Unfortunately the Midnight black Oliver didn’t survive River Road’s death trap. What he was trying to do crossing a four-lane road, I never could figure out.

And as I write this blog, I am realizing how many of those lessons that Oliver and then Stanley really did teach me. Be patient with me as I flit back and forth. Patience is one of those things that I’m still learning. I might as well teach it as I learn.
I wish dogs could live as long as cats. But I am grateful for the lengthy lives of felines. A long life isn’t so hard on the eyes as those lives who explode with sparks and flame for the short period they are with me.
Stanley might have been eighteen or nineteen when his kidneys started to fail. I bought some time with medication, specially food, and lots of coercing to stick around. I begged and prayed and demanded that Stanley stick around; i couldn’t imagine going through another lose. It hadn’t been that long since I had lost Kahlua, and time hadn’t healed the wounds of Oliver’s death. I just couldn’t take another loss, and he knew it; he probably stuck around an extra year or two to help me deal with his impending death. My track record for dealing with loss, whether it be animal or human loss hasn’t been easy for me, but I gather that’s the same for anyone having to deal with the break a solid bond.

I don’t quite know if my mom’s death caused me to bond so tightly with my animals. I was rather tight with the beagle, but my mom’s death did was part of the reasons I stepped back from relating to humans and only relating to animals. Anyone who knows me has heard me say that if I had to choose between a dog and a human, there would be no question the dog would be the choice. As a result of investing so much energy into every dog, cat, bird, gerbil, and even turtle, and the fact that their lifespans are so short, every light that goes out takes a little bit of light out of myself.
Stanley was never a heavy cat. Sleek and powerful. But as his Siamese build thinned and his Siamese meow got quieter, I could tell he was done. And then he wouldn’t eat anything. I was constantly cooking for him or opening various cans for him. I must have had at least a dozen bowls of food in the fridge that I would try him on. Sometimes it took eleven tries to find that one thing he would eat. And we’re not talking about cat food. Sometimes he would eat tuna, other times he would eat tuna juice but not tuna. Chicken, hot or cold. Chicken broth, hot or cold. Shrimp, shrimp juice. Liver, cooked, raw, pureed. He hated when I gave him subcutaneous fluid to fend off dehydration. I can still hear his screams of protests and his huffs that told of his protests and show how really ticked off at me, he was.

Stanley and I had an amazing relationship by the end. Yes, I did have to worry abut his lightning fast claws, though not toward the end. He had a twisted sense of humor; you could see it in his eyes. Maybe he had watched Garfield too often, but his eyes would close a bit and there was a sharpness to his look. His favorite thing was to wait for me to be in the room farthest away when he would begin the indicating sound of a cat ready to vomit. I used to tell my military school students that when they beepopped or whatever that obnoxious sound is, it reminded me of a cat throwing up. I would hear the sound and be like O.J Simpson, during his nice guy days, and race through the house. Mind you, the house was perhaps six hundred square feet in totality, so there really weren’t that many steps from the back bedroom to the kitchen.

Stanley had the Laurel and Hardy timing down. Just as I would come flying into the kitchen, Stanley would send a projectile from the highest point, the fridge, and onto the floor, creating as much splatter as possible. Maybe I should have taken pictures; maybe Stanley was just expressing his artistic side.

Stanley trusted me whole heartedly. He loved traveling on my shoulders. He didn’t like it, but he tolerated being rocked like a baby; most cats I have had will not expose their vulnerable spot, but I don’t think Stanley had one.

We taught each other humor, as I had my twisted side as well. I had never seen cat yodelling before, but I was a practioner. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the activity, the main ingredients you have to have is a slightly pissed of cat and perhaps gloves. Along with his short powerful huffs that warned me that a storm was coming, Stanley had a meow that was more like a angry tone. His body language would shift; his tail would begin to twitch. His ears would start to lie down. Energy was being transferred to his paws, especially the back ones that could do the best rabbit punch. I considered this moment the prime. Carefully i would hold onto all fours as tightly as I could without hurting him,, but mostly to prevent him from hurting me. I would then as he growled, I would gently shake him and his growl would sound like a machine gun. I didn’t do this very often, and when people would accuse me of doing bad things to my cat, I would ask why he would keep coming back?

But then we got to the point where there was no coming back. I was the only one having a tough time coming to terms with his death. Forever wasn’t even long enough time for him to be in my life, but at least I had plenty of notice. It’s the abrupt deaths that really beat me up. Took me a long time to get over finding Oliver dead on River road. My dog Kahlua almost got hit because he followed me and I wasn’t paying attention to him, just on the lifeless black form on the farthest side of the road.
I arranged to meet Devon, my vet, at the unfinished dome; it was a few years from being livable. I think it was a Wednesday, a day that we didn’t normally go to the dome. I opened the taped door and stepped into the skeleton of a home, our future dream home; there were some interior walls up, giving a basic idea of room constructions, but you could walk through the framed walls. Electricity and plumbing didn’t exist. Both sets of stairs were done so we could get from the basement to the main room and then to the loft. Devon suggested the loft as it was the warmest part of the uninsulated house. When we got up to the loft, there was a bird flying around, frantically bouncing off of walls, low ceilings, and the plastic that covered the windows. I don’t remember a kind. Maybe a Chickadee. I created an opening and the bird flew out. Do you believe in omens? That bird was Stanley’s ticket out.
I gave Stanley to Devon and he didn’t resist. There are only two times a cat will be nonchalant with Devon; the first and the last time they meet. I could be talking to her on the phone and cats would hide.
There’s probably a lot more to this story, but I’m running out of tissues. It’s been 25 years and tears still come when I think about Stanley and his brother Oliver.

Fascination with words

Cobia. It was one of those words I tossed together like a salad and played. And hoped it was a real word. Words With Friends, my most recent addiction, bought it hook, line, and sinker. There’s no catch and release when playing scrabble like games. I don’t remember how many points it was worth, but the letter C, I believe, is four points itself. I don’t remember who I was playing. I have at least twenty active games going. Some of my friends have moved on to another phase. There’s always something. Farmtown and Farmville had sucked me, but only because my sister Pam was into. Maybe she still is.
But words have always fascinated me. I love Dictionaries and have too many of them especially now with the dictionaries on the phones and computers. I miss seeing words caught by a chance encounter as I flip the page.
It wasn’t until I started teaching that I learned about the words in the upper corners. The bold words. The ones that let you know what words start and end a page.
I don’t flip a page at a time. I try to gauge how far in I would have to go. Every so often I would land on the exact page. It is kind of like hitting a hole-in-one, but with scrabble, not golf. I suppose I don’t have to spell that out.
I think all the miles I have travelled in walking a dictionary, I believe skimming the pages has helped me be a better speller. I think genetics helps on that front. I am afraid my sister Barbara got the short end of the stick in that regard, but she got the artistic gene.
Back a long time ago when I was a kid I could stave off boredom with words. Hey it was better than playing Monopoly with the Dog. And yes, the Beagle always picked the dog figurine. I don’t recall him ever being in a car in real life, though he did like to chase them.
There were times I would type lists of Words. Words I would find in books or magazines I was reading. I would alphabetize the word. I would copy everything along with the definition from the dictionary. I hadn’t been introduced to the Oxford Dictionary, my pride and joy two-volume pair. Oh, I always put the sentence where I got the word from
I did most of this by hand. Computers hadn’t been invented, at least not personal computers.
When I had to write sentences in school demonstrating that I could use vocabulary words in a sentence. I would put them into a story. Tales of rabbits or tumble weeds. Strange tales since the words had nothing in common with each other. They were unfamiliar with one another. But I would please teachers like Ms. Busse and weave bizarre and twisted stories, and she loved them.
Now what got me on this tangent anyway? The word cobia. I better go look that up.


Friday, November 14, 2014

She perches on my chest, but I can barely feel any weight. I stare into her light green eyes and she into mine. Her eyes look scared or perhaps sad. She begins to drool, small drops, like a single raindrop dangle a moment before falling on my shirt. I reach out to stroke her fine short hair, and the rumbling purr begins.

My Calico Cat Yang.

Yang and I

Her eyes close as she takes in the attention. Her purr volume increases. She says nothing yet says a lot. She rubs her face against my face, white whiskers cross. First the right side then the left. She’s still drooling. When she pauses marking me, I wipe the dribble away.

I make this little chirp-like sound. Slowly, her left paw reaches out. She gently pats my nose. Claws out, but the gentle touch so soft. She does this a few times before returning to the Yocat, my name for Cat Yoga, Loaf of Bread. All legs tucked in.

Patchwork splotches of white, orange and a dusky gray. We’re ready to begin our work.

Character Creating Cats

Thursday, November 13, 2014
3:33 p.m.
Sometimes when I meditate with my cats, characters  or story starters come to mind.
Yesterday, while with Yang, I thought about how many stories I have collected in my 54, almost 55 years on this planet, give or take five to ten years for mental development; I think that I have as many stories to write as I have books. There are just a few who have seen my collection. I think I am a hoarder,  But that is another story altogether.
Not all of my four cats create characters. Ying and Yang do. (Ying is working with me right now.)
Fred doesn’t create characters; he just is a character. I convinced him to let me bring him home last night. My wayward feline had been gone for over a month, and the dip in temps had me concerned. Even with my bad cold, I was out there coaxing the fickle feline. I lied to him, promising to not lock him in, but it is so nasty out there. He obviously doesn’t know better.
Catsby doesn’t create characters either; she resembles a book character.
I was teaching the Great Gatsby at the Willamette Leadership Academy when Catsby discovered the cat door. I have no clue where she came from, but this gorgeous medium haired grey cat has never left. Sylvia couldn’t get mad at me, at least that was my philosophy, because I had not brought her home. My English class helped me name her The Great Catsby.


Now if only I had a cat that could cook or clean.

Time keeps marching on

Jules & Lucy 6:26:05
Thursday, November 13, 2014
1:21 p.m.
Sometimes words motivate me to take pictures. Sometimes pictures motivate me to write words. I get double points because it just occurred to me that this would be a great Throwback Thursday picture. Jules and Lucy.
Lucy is the little ball of white fur. So adorable that it makes me want to go out and get another puppy. No. I haven’t lost my mind yet or at least not that part.
Lucy is around nine years old and showing her age. She doesn’t get around like she used to. When she goes down the stairs, she kinda scoots on her butt. Her ankles bother her. It would help if I could get some weight off of this hefty girl.
Jules, the love of my life has been gone for more than three years. May be four. Time keeps marching on and I lose track of things.
Life’s strange in that I’m struggling with taking the bad with the good. I’m lucky to say that I experience a lot more good than bad, but the bad seem to get more attention.
When I lost Jules it was sudden. I had taken him to the vet on my birthdate; they thought they could remove the liver tumor, but when they opened him up, the only thing they could do was to call me to tell me to say goodbye. Still brings tears to my eyes. I mourned that dog. I mourn for all my lost dogs and this can’t be compared as they are so different from one another; they all come into my life with different purposes.
Jules wasn’t even ten years old.
I really thought that the wound in my heart would never heal. Lucy tried; we would take walks, play more. But Lucy was Jules’ dog. Jules was my dog.
I started looking for a dog to fill the void. I have had multiple dogs for so many years, I knew it was best for Lucy and I. I took trips to the dog pound. I looked online. It wasn’t the time of year for a puppy. I only get them in the Spring when it has stopped raining. I don’t housebreak dogs in the rain and the cold.
There were a couple of Chocolate Labradors that needed a foster home, so I inquired. A temporary fix would be better than nothing.
Those dogs weren’t available, but Lisa from Save The Pets, called me and said that she had a Chocolate Labrador that needed a foster home immediately, like now. Okay, I’m game.
That was three years ago. Ricky came to the household under the name of Sparky, but since I had already had a cat named Sparky, I changed it to a similar sounding name.
Talk about an amazing dog. He’s not like Jules, but as I said, they are all so different. I’m Ricky’s third person, but last.
If Jules hadn’t died, I would never have met Ricky.
Time to switch gears just a little. Some of you who know me know that I recently applied for a job that I really, really wanted. I didn’t even get an interview. I keep telling myself that this means the job just wasn’t meant to be mine; that this means that there’s something better and greater around that hair-pin turn. I can’t see what’s coming, but I have faith that it will all work out in the end.


I don’t know how old of the sister sibblings. I will have to dig around in my journals to find that information out.
I had been visiting my friend Heidee when I noticed a beautiful tiger stripped kitty. As I admired so and so about her cat. She said, “wait till us see the kitten.”
Kitten, did someone mention kitten? My heart beat a little faster. I followed this woman, who I cannot remember her name, down into the basement. This is starting to sound like a great horror story. She brought me the little cutie pie and immediately I knew she was going home with her.
The next day when I went to pick her up the woman asked me if it possible for me to take her sister.
Up in her kitchen, we drank some sort of hot beverage, but I don’t remember which phase my taste buds. My coffee phase? Warm Almond milk helped me stopped the coffee phase. Cost whipped out that phase. And then there was my tea phase.
Regardless. The woman that has no name could have a fake one. She won’t mind. She may even like the name. ,Gina popped into my head. But there’s all sorts of things going on up there. It sounds like my brain is organizing. Papers being tossed or filed or were transfered to another pie. The papers that I couldn’t let go off.
Where was I going on this tangent,? I used do many switch backs. Most of  the time I can remember how to find my way back home and to the beginnings of the conversation, but unfortunately I am sick and need to shut my eyes. I can’t type  with my eyes closed.