Friday, July 29, 2016

Not a warrior...

I have been trying and trying and trying to write, but I cannot put the words together.  For example, I have this thought I wanted to explore about the use of repetition in The Chronicles of Elantra.  But everything I try to write ends up not saying much about the repetition.  I think that what Michelle Sagara does is unusual and effective, but darned if I cannot write about it.

Something else on my mind has been equally elusive with regards to trying to record it here in my online rememberer.  SIGH.  But, then again, maybe that is part of the point of what I want to write about:  I am not a warrior.

I like this, a bit.  The part about gravity makes me chuckle and chuckle in a way that is totally insider humor.  But mostly I do not like this.  I am not a warrior.  I am just me, frail and weary folk.

I get that the great battle in my life with with my body and that I am fighting that battle whether I want to or not.  But I am not a warrior.

In trying to write even this, I had to stop to lie on the floor to deal with my plummeting blood pressure—and all that wretchedness that brings—because some darned chunk of stool was pressing on my vagus nerve.  And, because it's taken me hours and hours to try and write even this, I had to stop again to lie on the floor after vomiting and shaking trying to endure a bowel movement, fairly certain that what I felt moving earlier was not what passed.  It was too high up.   I am not a warrior.

All the memes and posts about being a warrior neither encourage or bolster me; they just make me feel more like crap.  I am not an inspiration to show others how to fight.  I am only someone who is weak and weary, trying to get through the day.  All that warrior stuff leaves me feeling like I am not doing enough ... not hopeful enough, not strong enough, not enough of an advocate, not determined enough .... the list goes on and on and on ... the pressure is immense.   I am not a warrior.

Maybe what I am trying to say is that, eons ago, when I was learning to be a teacher, I learned that there were multiple types of learners, so that one mode of teaching would not be effective for all.  So, I wonder, why is it that all the ... encouraging ... stuff out there in the dsyautonomia and chronic illness worlds is one mode?  That of being a warrior.

I am not a warrior.
And I want that to be okay.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I am ... very worried about meeting the gastroenterologist tomorrow.  For one, she is the only female one in all of Fort Wayne, so this is my only shot at working with a female doctor.  For another, I have no clue if she even knows what dysautonomia is.  If  specialist does not, well, then, medical life is pretty tough.

The other worry for me is that now four different medical personnel have told me to expect the gastro doc to first ask for an endoscopy, which means anesthesia, which is something that I do not process well.  It takes a very long time for me to wake, even with fast acting drugs.  And when I do regain consciousness, I am not all there.  It is a very, very, very slow process.  It frightens me.  And I very much struggle with not being in a position to ... to ... well ... protect myself.

I have been dreading this appointment before I even had it.

Plus, well, having an endoscopy is anesthesia and having the surgery to break the Shotzki's Ring is anesthesia.  I don't want to go through it twice.  Alone.

The other day, I did some freezer organizing to help assuage some upsettedness.  Whilst doing so, I found the pork cutlets that I bought after watching a cooking show about tacos al pastor.  I haven't used them yet because I haven't tracked down the ingredients that I need for the recipe.  Since I bought the cutlets eons ago, I took one of the two packets I made from the larger package I bought out to thaw.  After thinking about it a while, I decided to use that most awesome chili lime marinade and rub recipe for chicken, thinking it might make for some tasty pork that I could put into a taco.

This rub recipe truly is versatile!

My friend Mary had been giving me ideas on how to use the cumbers I've been growing.  She suggested cucumber salad, so I thought about making a creamy cucumber salad/sauce to go on my chili lime pork tacos.  After some searching, I found a recipe to adapt and made it, using cucumber, garlic, and dill from my raised bed.

Again, with Mary's help, I cooked the pork cutlets on my cast iron griddle.  I was really nervous, not knowing what to do.  She advised two minutes per side, which is what I did.  The pork was just as tender and moist as was the chicken using this recipe.  Really ... very tasty.

The tacos were just what I was wanting, something tasty and light and fresh!

For a while now, I have been cooking my tortillas on the cast iron griddle.  It is hard to put into words, but I think the tortillas taste more authentic when cooked on the cast iron griddle than on my non-stick griddle.  Well, maybe it is not authentic per se, so much as it is that they taste like Texas.  They are still soft and fluffy, but the caste iron makes them ever so slightly ... crispy.  Not crispy hard, but a firm surface even as they fold well.

My friend Emily had a late night Facebook conversation with me to help me figure out about cooking meat on cast iron.  I should have had it before I cooked the cutlets, but at least I learned some for the next time.  For one, the pan was too hot for the oil and I filled the first floor with smoke!  For another, I totally forgot about using salt to clean when you have some wicked stuck-on bits.  Emily said that what I was seeing was char, like a grill, and that helped me to reframe what I was thinking about how to approach cooking on cast iron.  I look forward to doing so again.  Especially if I can track down the ingredients I need for the tacos al pastor.

Tonight, I talked with Becky about the thoughts I have been having.
Conflicting thoughts, really.

Even though the constantly barking dog problem has been solved, I still deeply desire a privacy fence.  I crave it.  I'd like to say that I need it.  I do not yet have the words to speak what is in my head (and heart) about that, but I think about the privacy fence a lot.

The other thoughts I have been having are about how .... bolstering ... it has been for me to harvest things from my raised bed.  The herbs were one thing, but all that lettuce and the cucumbers and (eventually) the carrots ... well, I really like the idea of creating food for my table, growing it ... contributing in some fashion.  So, I have been thinking about having Firewood Man build me another raised bed (or three).   There is space in three different places along the fence in the back of my yard. I would like to grow lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots again (just less crowded).  I would like to add a few more herbs.  And I would like to grow summer squash, which is my favorite vegetable, and maybe some eggplant.  I was thinking ... put the salad stuff in the bed near my house, with a cucumber plant at the back of both corners so that they can grow on the fence again.  Then the herbs all in one bed.  Then the new stuff in the other two beds, if my plan works (one along the side fence  behind the ornamental magnolia and two meeting at the back corner of the fence).

The point is, I would like to expand what I can ... contribute to my life, as long as I can work out a ... plan ... that will not end up with my working beyond my capability.  Or maybe another way to put it is that I would like to add to my pile good things in my life, lest the bad things overwhelm me.  And growing things for my table is defining a good thing.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tell me a story...

In the Chronicles of Elantra series, Kaylin is either stepping in to stop magicians/sorcerers/arcanists whose seeking power threatens the city (or the world), battling shadow, or addressing the elements on a primal level.  In every instance, the heart of what she does is to speak True Words, although for much of the first few books, Kaylin lacks a basic understanding of what it is that she does, utilizing the power of the marks writ upon her skin.  Even after she gains that awareness, she doesn't really understand.  However, she quickly learns that her knowledge of the whys and wherefores of True Words doesn't really matter.  What she knows and/or believes about them does not limit them or strengthen them in any fashion.  True words are whether or not Kaylin is.

In Cast in Silence, Kaylin speaks the end of a dead dragon's story to free him, to grant him the eternal flight that had been denied him when he stayed in human form in order to hold to his duty of protecting the world from the elemental word for water (using that word and its power against the world).  In Cast in Fury, Kaylin tells a story to a Leontine who had been tainted and twisted by shadow in order to give her, not life, but death.

I am not really clear, even after reading and re-reading this series many times, what shadow is, what shadows are.  I know that they twist and taint life. I know that they corrupt life.  I know that they can take life.  And I know that they can make the living into the undying, beings shorn of their soul and yet not dead.  The undying are not zombies in any sense of the word.  They are not demons.  Some are more sentient than others.  Some willingly seek to be undying.  Some have no clue what becoming undying actually will mean for them.  Not all shadows are creatures.  Not all shadows are undying.  But all undying are of the shadow.  And shadow is inimical to life.

In a lot of fantasy books, you have the battle between light and dark, instead of a battle between good and evil.  In a way, I guess you could say that in the Chronicles of Elantra, you have the battle between not shadow and shadow, but the average person does not even know that shadow exists and it is not part of any system of theology or religion.

I am not really clear on who created True Words, other than it is the language of the Ancient Ones (Old Ones), who were creators, or perhaps more accurately makers.   Only in Cast in Chaos, we learn that the elements were once one, with a fifth element, if you were, that bound them as one.  Earth, Air, Fire, and Water resisted the boundaries the fifth one wrought upon them and severed themselves from it.  They created, they were makers, as they walked the world, but they also destroyed.  In the end, they allowed themselves to be bound once more, now separate, but in the same place, a place created for them by True Words, I believe.  They still interact with the world, but in muted fashion.

Water tells the story to Kaylin.  Have just read it, I still am not clear the difference between the elementals as creators and the Ancient Ones as creators, especially because Kaylin doesn't think that the elementals were even created.  They simply have always been.  I guess, I am saying that a true origin of the world (or worlds really, but that is another post or three) it not yet clear.

What is clear, though, is this slowly-evolving awareness of the wholeness, the completeness of True Words and the power of their meaning.

Condensed down into just the story Kaylin tells the Leontine, without the words describing the setting and all the action taking place around Kaylin as she speaks, here are the words spoken:

"Give them choice.  Give them thought and will and volition.  Give them dreams and the ability to see beyond the next meal, the need for shelter.  Give them hope, and light, and a span of days greater than the span they now have.  Give them song, and story, give them fire.  Grace them, in all things with the choice to do and be.  Give them the peace of death, when age descends.  Give them the freedom of death.  Let them leave these lands when life is burden and not joy.  Let none of us stand in their way, who know no such peace." (Michelle Sahara, Cast in Fury, p. 448)

The Old Ones created the Dragons and Barrrani from stone.  Being created from stone, they needed life, so the Dragons and Barrani have (true) names, which are True Words, that give them life.  The Leontines, the Arians, the Tha'alani, and the humans were created from that which was already alive.  Thus, they had no need for names.   Considering that, the words of the story Kaylin tells, not of her speaking but from the power writ on her skin, make more sense.  Taking life and making it more.

The shadow told lies to the Leontine, twisting her and granting her a power that was never hers to have, a power that denied her death.  Marai, even in her tainted self, heard Kaylin's pleas to her to remember who she was, to remember her child.  But she could not doing anything, when reason finally broke through her fury, but ask Kaylin to tell her a story.  Kaylin didn't realize it until the last agonizing moment, but Marai was asking Kaylin to give her back her death.

The contrast between the story Kaylin told the dead Dragon and the story Kaylin told the tainted Leontine interests me because both stories, though having polar opposite outcomes were stories speaking what should have been if life had not been ... corrupted.

Maybe to put it another way, a lot of the speaking of True Words Kaylin does is to speak anew what is meet, right, and salutary.  It is to break through lies that were spoken so that the Truth can be heard once more.  The power of hearing the Truth heals, restores, realigns, gives purpose, and gives both life and death, where death is life, if you will.

"Tell me a story," Marai cries out to Kaylin, even as she is trying to kill Kaylin's companions, driven by the shadow's lies filling her being.  Marai is raging and grieving and regretting all at once.  She is lost and wounded and confused.  Tell me a story.

Little children ask for stories.  In a way, so do adults.  As I have written before, I love the work of Robert Coles, noted psychologist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and now professor emeritus at Harvard, who writes of how we process our lives through story.   The Call of Stories:  Teaching and the Moral Imagination shows how we engage with story to make sense of the human condition and, in so doing, work out who we are as human beings.  It might be easy to say that it is morals and ethics, but it is the whole of humanity, not just one aspect, that is affected by story.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who fundamentally and profoundly changed and expanded our understanding of death and dying and the grieving process, often spoke and wrote of grief stories, the stories folk told about the death in their lives.  No grief story is ever the same; some start before a death, some during the dying process, and some afterwards.  All grief stories are important and the telling of each grief story is also important.  As in, if a person needs to tell their grief story 44 times and others only listen 43 times, the grief is not yet assuaged and processed, as it can be, rather profoundly, in the telling of that story, until it is spoken and heard enough times.

I think of the stories of oral traditions that have explained life for millennia, the folk and fairytales handed down from adult to child, seeking to make sense of the whys and wherefores of creation.  Folk longed for the clarity and certitude they brought.

I think of the "stories" of the Bible.  The stories that are simplified and dressed up to share with children.  I think of the personal stories pastors (at least in the mainline evangelical world) to help make sense of the "stories" of the Bible.  Folk long for the clarity and the certitude they bring.

Tell me a story.  It is a plea for comfort and consolation, a yearning for something meet, right, and salutary in our lives onto which we can grab and hold tightly in times where life is not making all that much sense to us or in times when we face the dark of night, both literally and figuratively, and want light to remember.

When we encounter the confused, the grieving, the wounded, the ill, the informed, the dying ... when we encounter others struggling with the human condition, we ask for their stories, and, upon hearing them, we often respond by telling them a story of their own.  I think ... well, I think that that is a good time to tell a story using True Words, i.e., read to them from the Living Word.  Not just a Bible story. All of the Living Word.  Perhaps some Psalms or Lamentations.  Perhaps one of the Gospels or an Epistle.  Perhaps Isaiah or Jeremiah.  Pick your choice.  Anywhere in the Living Word is powerful and performative and will contain words that are ultimately meet, right, and salutary ...  even if we do not quite understand them or know them.

Just ... tell a story ... maybe like this one, which is, a bit ironically, man telling God a story:

O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;
Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.
Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee.

For Thou didst form my inward parts;
Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with Thee.

O that Thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against Thee wickedly,
And Thine enemies take Thy name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate Thee, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against Thee?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

~Psalm 139 (NASB 1977)

[P.S.  If you can quote the movie from which I used "pick your choice," you are tops in my book!]

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Simple statements...

I am a word nerd. I am also a Word nerd. As an ex-evangelical, you might not be surprised at my dog-eared, Dr Pepper stained, broken spine, highlighted, underlined, and note-filled beloved 1977 NASB Bible.  However, as a Lutheran ... convert (who is admittedly struggling mightily with belief), you shouldn't be surprised at my dog-eared, Dr Pepper stained, broken spine, highlighted, underlined, and note-filled beloved 2005 reader's edition of the Book of Concord.

Like my Bible, I know where passages in the BOC are visually, as in the top right of the page or first column, mid-way down, on a page on the right.  I will admit that I actually have a "new" 1977 NASB bible that I use simply because it is in one column, and I am utterly fascinated with the difference of encountering the very familiar Word in a wildly unfamiliar format.  However, whenever I am hunting for something in the Bible, I go to my ratty, tatty Bible because I know I will find the comfort which I am seeking.

I am absolutely not interested in the updated version of the BOC, primarily because of the much-used, intimately familiar state of my copy. I want to be able to easily find the bit of comfort I am hunting, because I know, visually, where it will be as I begin to flip the pages.  And, to be honest, despite any valid reasons for doing so, it irks me Luther's Exhortation to Confession was moved because I miss the immediacy of its placement behind the exquisitely crafted Part V of the Large Catechism.

Anyway, one of my most favorite sentences in the BOC is on the upper right hand column.  Easy to find.  Easy to miss, maybe, because it is the last sentence in the section on the 5th Commandment.

"And besides, human holiness deserves nothing but wrath and damnation." ~BOC, LC, I, 198

I love the Book of Concord.  I love the Augsburg Confession, its conviction and camaraderie.  I love the Smalcald Articles, its piercing the heart of much of the things I love about Lutheran doctrine.  I love the Power and Primacy of the Pope, its bluntness and boldness.  I love the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, its maddeningly long paragraphs and density.  I love the Formula Epitome and the Formula Solid Declaration, their structure and spinning out of statements.  And I love the Large Catechism, its passion and magnificent craftsmanship.

[I have a complicated relationship with the Small Catechism, so we'll just leave that one aside.]

In the Large Catechism, Luther's pen is a marvel, an enviable example of weaving together complexity and simplicity, earnestness and sarcasm, and milk and meat.  To me, it is the complete document.

What I love about Part I is really summed up in that most favorite sentence:

"And besides, human holiness deserves nothing but wrath and damnation." ~BOC, LC, I, 198

You see, what I think is marvelous genius about Part I is that Luther both spins out the breath and delves into the depth of each Commandment.  In a way, to me, he sets the reader up into a bit of complacency before cuffing him on the back of the head for being such a dolt, i.e. ever thinking, for one single solitary moment, that he can fulfill even a mote of one of the Commandments.

Sanctifying the holy day?  It's not just not working on Sunday, it's this and this and this and this and, oh, yes, this! Bearing false witness?  It's not just lying about someone, it's this and this and this and this and, oh, yes, this!  Taking the Lord's name in vain?  It's not just misusing the Lord's name, it's this and this and this and this and, oh, yes, this! Murder?  It's not just killing, it's this and this and this and this and, oh, yes, this!

As a whole, Part 1 of the Large Catechism can leave you gasping, sucker-punched, curled in a ball on the floor, weeping and wailing and gnashing your teeth.  Gosh, the breath and depth of our sin is enormous!

I love that little sentence, at the end of the 5th Commandment, exactly half-way through the law.  If you had any niggling thought that you could maybe keep the first five Commandments, which, on the surface, seems a bit doable, if you had that little, spiritually smug thought, you get to that sentence and WHAM.  Any holiness you think that you might have mustered up in keeping those seemingly simple first five Commandments has earned you nothing but wrath and damnation.

I also love it because it is one of Luther's simple statements, the hidden gems of the Large Catechism. Some of them bring on a wry chuckle.  Some of them give you pause.  And some of them leave you breathless.

[I wrote this for my Reveling in the Book of Concord Facebook Group.  Sadly, I am pretty much the only one reveling (sharing what I am reading or thinking about the BOC) and the group is filled with folk content to just read the posts, which are most just straight quotes instead of musings like this.  I am cross-posting it here because it is rare that I am able to write what I set out to write and to write in one setting without great labor and confusion.  I greatly miss who I was as a writer and grieve mightily how dysautonomia has compromised my mind.  I liked this post.  To me, it was a home run as far as my goal for writing it.  After all, by now, I've resigned myself to loneliness in the group, to remaining the lone BOC freak.]

Friday, July 22, 2016

True words...

In the fourth book of the Chronicles of Elantra series, Cast in Fury, Kaylin is just beginning to wrestle with understanding the power (so much more than mere magic) she has been unconsciously using (primarily to heal) and the fact that the marks on her skin are True Words. The two quotes that call to mind my most favorite of Book of Concord sentences are when Kaylin encounters someone (a dragon) speaking the ancient language, the language of her marks. She is trying to describe to her beat partner what she is seeing as the dragon is speaking:

"Nothing like our words, no. We pick and choose. Our whole language is a patchwork quilt. Every word can be jumbled with other words, and we make sentences that we understand—but people sharing them will also understand them, and the understanding won't be the same. This is..."


"They are like Barrani names," she whispered, "They don't look like them, but they have that solidity to them. Some sense of a meaning so complete that everyone who *could* understand them at all would understand the same thing. You couldn't lie in a language like that. Because it's what it is, not more, not less." (Michelle Sagara, ch. 21)

The idea of True Words that the author ever so slowly delves into over the course of now 11 books is first visited here. They are words with only one meaning, but a meaning so ... complete ... that trying to put into common language the meaning of one word could take whole paragraphs ... or pages. And, perhaps because of this, True Words are Living and have Power. But Kaylin does not understand that yet.

What fascinates me about this passage is first how Kaylin first describes the language folk use, a language that is, for lack of a better word, flexible. Meaning is made and understood differently using the same words, sometimes from the speaking and other times from the context and still other times from the audience.

One way I look at this is to say that a theologian (or whatever you properly call authors who are writing about the Living Word) can write a book about the Bible. His words may or may not be true. And the meaning a reader takes away from them may or may not be what the author intended. But the actual Scripture in his book is True and Perfect and has but one meaning. Different readers, different writers, different speakers ... it doesn't matter. There is only one meaning to the Word of God, that given to it by its Creator.

Then, Kaylin tries to describe the True Words she was hearing (and seeing formed in the air around the dragon). She couldn't understand the language. She couldn't recognize the words, but she knew they were words and she knew that what they were was words so complete in their meaning that anyone and everyone who read them would only receive one meaning from that encounter.

I deliberately used the word receive, because I think that is what happens when we read, speak, or hear the Living Word. We receive it. We receive its meaning, no matter if we understand it or not (or think we understand it or not).

One of the promises of the Word of God is that it will not return void. Sometimes ... sometimes I wonder if anyone but me really ponders the magnitude of that promise. I wonder because when it comes to comforting the Christian soul, so many folk fall back on their own words or the words of some great Christian scholar or popular Christian author rather than on the Living Word. Folk seem to be saying that, somehow, the Word of God is someone not sufficient to all circumstances, all situations. But it is.

I have been re-reading Michael Card's commentaries on the Gospels.  One of the things I love best about them is Card's repeated emphasis and celebration of the perfection of the Word of God. Every. Single. Word. Is. Perfect.

It is perfect and powerful and performative. What a wild and wondrous sentence Luther penned in the Large Catechism when he wrote:

"For it [the Word] has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do." ~ BOC, LC, IV, 17

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

All Amos all the time...

I have been a bit distracted with great worry over my puppy dog, although I do believe he might be getting better.

The vomiting stopped Saturday, but then diarrhea started on Sunday and he stopped eating.  Amos stopped eating.  Pigs flew.  It snowed in July.

Amos' regular vet is out of town this week, but the clinic where we go told me to come in early Monday morning.  Amos still had a fever and was still dehydrated.  So, the vet gave him fluids and a shot for the nausea and then started him on antibiotics.  This morning was Amos' third of ten doses.

When Amos turned his nose up even at a small cheese ball (with a pill inside), I was darn worried.  He at least ate his pill this morning.  Yesterday and today, Amos ate just under half of what he normally eats.  Worry again!

Several folk have told me that when a person is ill like Amos has been, getting an appetite back can take a while, but it is difficult for me to hold onto that thought.  What is especially difficult for me was the moment, today, when my neighbor exclaimed, "Oh, Myrtle, Amos has lost weight!"

From Saturday to Monday, Amos lost 2.2 pounds.  I do not know how much he weighs at the moment.  Again, I am trying to take the long view on this ... trying not to worry.  I have gone about my days tackling small things.  I managed to make my barium swallow test this morning.  But, primarily, my thoughts are all Amos all the time.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Two of a kind...

It's been a rough time for Amos and I.

Yesterday evening, I took the time to pull the curls from inside Amos' ears (ICK!).  I've done it ever since I learned that I needed to do it, about four years now.  I haven't had a problem other than being totally grossed out.  However, I had a problem.

Amos started looking like he was watching an invisible fly buzzing above his head.  He was going a bit nuts, then would collapse and try to nap.  He cycled through this several times, while I was puzzled.  I got up to get a drink and stepped in more ICK.  Amos had throw up without my realizing it.

Now, Amos is a very, very, very polite vomiter, always leaping down from wherever he is resting to vomit on the floor.  Only, all politeness left him.  Amos vomited on the NEW SOFA!  He vomited on the coffee table (trunk ... leather trunk).  I thought that was it.  I mean, he sometimes vomits some bile and then is just fine.  It actually seems like food helps him.  So, I took the increased dose of gabapentin that has me so drowsy and dizzy.

What I didn't realize, until much later, was that Amos vomited all night long.  The living room rug.  The hallway.  My bedroom.  The bed.  A total of twenty-seven times when all was said and done.  Whilst I was frantically dressing once I realized that Amos surely had a fever and had been busy vomiting whilst I was sleeping, Amos vomited seven times.  It was just plain awful to watch.

I was disappointed to learn that, unbeknownst to me, my vet is actually open Saturday morning.  But I missed their hours by 15 minutes.  I looked up the emergency clinic that is their recommended one and packed up things for him in case he had to stay (and my anxiety things).  After bundled into the car, we headed over to the clinic.

I was right.
Amos did have a fever!
My poor little Fluffernutter!!

The vet is fairly confident that Amos' vestibular nerve is irritated from the hair pulling, something that can happen rather easily, even if a groomer was doing the (ICKY) job.  The dizziness causes the vomiting and then the dehydration causes even more nausea.  A vicious cycle.  Since almost all of his vomiting was bile foam, the other possibility was pancreatitis, especially with the fever.  However, since dehydration can cause a fever and Amos' abdomen was not painful, the vet wanted to treat him on her initial thought before doing expensive testing.  I was appreciative of that thought given I had already racked up quiet a bill.

She gave him a shot for the nausea, ran a bag of saline beneath his skin, and sent me home with meclazine (would have been cheaper OTC) for the dizziness for a week.  She also wanted me to stop and get some pepcid on the way home since all that bile surely irritated his innards.  Only, well, it is much too hot to stop with Amos in the car!

I called my neighbor and literally begged her to go for me.  The thought of coming home, dropping Amos off, and heading out again was absolutely overwhelming.  Plus, I wanted to be sure that Amos did not vomit on the couches anymore!  After some serious begging, she agreed, but only going to Walgreen's instead of Walmart.  More money, but less angst for Amos and I.  She actually pulled into her garage with the medicine just as I was coming home with Amos.

After plying Amos with his pills, I sat down and held him.
And held him.
And held him.

Amos eventually drank and then ate and then tended business outside, but he is still very weak and very sleepy.  Dopy, almost.  I am hoping it was the shot he got, though Becky pointed out vomiting so much would be exhausted.

He is still a little furnace, too.  I hate Amos having a fever.  It is so worrisome!   Having him on my lap or next to me is this constant reminder of his ill health.

So, I am left waiting and hoping that Amos in on the road to recovery.  I will say that, despite being a bit shocked by the emergency bill, I would really like to take him in to see his own vet.  And I might just do that and figure out how to pay the bill later.

I will not be pulling his ear hair any time soon, but the emergency vet suggested that I give him the meclazine to start, but if nothing else to do it in the morning of a weekday so that if this happens again and Amos needs support, I can get him into his vet before the vomiting sends him into a tailspin.

Yes, again.  Amos, it is now assumed, has wonky nerves, too.  The emergency vet wondered if it was from the constant strain of his PTSD on his nervous system.  His anxiety and hyper vigilance is off the charts.  SIGH.

If he does have wonky nerves, at least we would really be two of a kind then, eh??

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Feeling and fact...

I do not feel as if Fort Wayne is a violent city, nor mine an unsafe neighborhood.  However, in less than a calendar year, there was a homicide down the block from me on my street, another homicide on my street a few blocks down in the opposite direction, and another suspicious death the other day two blocks over, where the body was burned in an alley, presumably to hide evidence.

After the second homicide on my street, the motion sensor on the light on the side of my house above the door to the basement outside entrance broke.  I decided not to replace the fixture, only a few years old, because I would rather the light stay on all night.  My neighbor was so terribly angry with me over the light.  I swapped out the 100 watt bulb for a 40 watt bulb, but I did not change my mind about having the light on all night the way I have lights on at the front and back porches throughout the dark hours.  Besides, I think, she sleeps upstairs, not down and the light does not even hit her window.  SIGH.

My neighbor is rather mercurial.  I used to blame myself for her foul temper, but I understand, now, that it is how she is.  She didn't speak to me for about seven months over the light.  After a while, I struggled with feeling hurt over it.  But, like her current anger that my haircut (my cutting her hair) has resulted in such fanfare from fiends and colleagues, I cannot really do anything about it.

However, because she brought up the light again today, when I was out harvesting lettuce and cucumbers, I struggled anew with guilt.  Or what I tend to think of as guilt, but really is shame:  Not I did bad, but I am bad.  I am a bad neighbor.  Even with what I have learned, even with true thoughts, right thoughts, in my head, I still struggle.  SIGH.

And yet, when I read this evening about the burned body just two blocks away from me, my very first thought was that I am so very grateful the light motion sensor broke and for my decision to keep it on all night long instead replacing it.  If I am honest with myself, the decision had very little to do with money and very much to do with wanting to feel safe.

Six months later, I also remain so very thankful for the decision to get the alarm system ... and for Firewood Man's help installing it.  I admit that when the $19.95 charge comes along each month, I gulp a bit, and question whether or not I really and truly need it.  It makes me feel safe.  Hearing about a third dead body mere blocks from my home, safe is a feeling I welcome.  But it makes me feel safe not about nefarious killers, but about someone coming into my home ... about looking up from packing a box and seeing who I saw before I fled Alexandria.

I would never have thought I would like the LCD screen on the alarm, but I do.  I like scrolling through the history, especially the history of the motion detectors.  I like knowing I have been safe.  I like seeing that I have been safe.

I do not feel as if Fort Wayne is a violent city, nor mine an unsafe neighborhood.  However, in 2014, there were 12 homicides and in 2015 there were 25.  Thus far, in 2016, through the month of May, there were 13, three more than there were in the first five months of 2015.  In the recent mayoral race, the incumbent mayor, who won, campaigned on crime being down in Fort Wayne.  Yes, some crime is, the one that stands out to me is rape.  However, homicides have sky-rocketed.  Violence has crept into this smaller city in a big way.

I do not like bearing the brunt of my neighbor's anger, but I am thankful for a light outside all my doors, not just the front and back, ensuring there are no dark and hidden ways to access my home.  And I am thankful for LiveWatch and its efforts to provide economical alarm systems so that all income levels can feel safe.  For despite how I feel about Fort Wayne, the facts prove otherwise.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Virtual experiences...

Parkview's RN Care program (which I sometimes think might be called Community Health and the RN Care is one of the team members) has been interesting and helpful.  For one, I received three months worth of the flovent inhalers today, from the Prescription Assistance Specialist's work.  This is on top of 100 days of Celebrex that I received last week.  Those two are my most expensive prescriptions, so this was a great boon to me financially, especially since I have had so many medical appointments and tests and medication/supplement changes of late.

If I stabilize on the gabapentin, I can get that for free, too, from the mail order pharmacy.  Right now, each time I pick it up, it is $8.  Not much, you might think, but it is "much" to me.  We just upped it from 900 mg to 1200 mg daily.  I think, perhaps, I am finally feeling the drowsiness from it.  However, I am not sure.  I thought I would give it another week before calling my GP because I want to keep trying to lessen the nerve pain.  We've made good gains in that department, but there is still so far to go.

But why I am bringing this up is because the social worker called this afternoon to check in with me. Her timing was perfect, because I got to talk about the pit bull attack.  She listened.  That was important.  That is needful.  But she also said something that has stuck with me:  "I've never experienced a dog attack, so I cannot imagine how bad it could be."  It wasn't that she was saying this in a dismissive way, but in a listening way, a framing way.  Telling me she had no reference with which to compare or understand what I was trying to say.  I found that helpful.

I guess ... well ... to put it bluntly ... even if you haven't been sexually assaulted or raped, these days, you can watch movies and television shows with survivors, you can witness the violence and the aftermath, even if much of it is a bit stereotyped.  But, think about it, with all the streaming and watching that I have done, not a single dog attack comes to mind.  You might get a dog biting on the arm of a police officer or a police officer shooting a dog about to leap on him or her, but a dog trying to tear apart a human being? No, you won't see that.

Chronic illness, death, marriage, divorce, accidents, assaults, theft, murder, betrayal, loss, grief ... so many virtual experiences can be had in the story telling of our society ... but not dog attacks.

I think my first thought was "but I have written and spoken about it so very many times" and then thoughts of failure to communicate followed.  It doesn't matter if my friends and family haven't experienced a dog attack ... they should know ... they should hear me.  But, thinking about the work of Dr. Brown, particularly on empathy, listening to such difficult places that are not familiar means hard work to "dig deep" to hear the commonality of the struggles of life.  The themes of hurt, the foundations of wounds we all bear.  To stand in this place with me, to hear me and let me know that I am heard, is a lot of work.

Talking with her helped, for sure.  But it doesn't make me feel any less lonely with this, with this profound and terrible thing in my life.  Still, I think the call was a great blessing.  Yesterday was a very hard day.  Today?  It was a little bit better.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

And the loneliest...

Five years ago today, I had the worst and the most violent experience of my life.  Considering what I have lived through, the sexual abuse as a chid and adult and being assaulted by soldiers in Africa, I think that is saying a lot.  I think it is something that should ... be paid attention to ... but it feels like it has not been.

The pit bull attack fundamentally changed Amos as a dog, both his personality and his behavior.  The pit bull attacked fundamentally changed me, both my behavior and how I view the world.  It was the worst and the most violent experience of my life.

And it was the loneliest.

I screamed for help.  My throat was raw and sore for days with the strain of my screams and my eyes were bloodshot.  But no one came to help for the longest of times.  I discovered later that many folk heard my screams, but thought I was a child, playing around.

A 44-year-old woman.
"Somebody please help me!"

Dragged to the ground.
Stumbled to my feet.
Dragged to the ground.
Stumbled to my feet.
Over and over and over again.

Playing tug of war with a seven-month-old puppy dog.  Such terror.  Such pain.  Such a horrific experience.

I know that I was greatly protected because of my habit of wearing many layers, long sleeves, and either long pants or ankle length skirts.  I know that Amos was protected by his Creator.  Every terrible puncture into his body missed something vital.  I know that we were saved because there were two of us, not one.  The pit bull kept letting go as he shifted from one victim to another.

I knew the last time I stumbled to my feet, clutching Amos around my shoulders, trying to keep him safe, that it was the last time.  I knew I would not have the strength to stand the next time the pit bull leapt and dragged me to the ground.

When help finally came, it was a ring of folk shouting at me to give Amos to the pit bull and save myself.  That wasn't an option for me.  It just wasn't.  I didn't know then what I know now about Amos, about what a fantastic companion he would become and about how much he would comfort me in the physical agony that was to become my daily existence.  I just knew that I was already attached to that little fluff ball.  And if there was any chance that he was still alive, that he would survive, I was not going to give up.

Only, as I said, it wasn't about giving up.
I simply had nothing left.
I had little to begin with as it was.

To this day, I have absolutely no memory from the moment I realized that I would not be getting back up to some point where Amos and I were lying on the grass in the yard of the house on the corner.  I was bleeding.  He was bleeding.  And there was this loud crowd of people all around us.

One person in the crowd had not one but two pit bulls on a leash, one being the one that attacked us.  Another person in the crowd was her significant other who had his face mere inches from mine, threatening me not to tell the police about what happened.  I found myself screaming again, completely horse, begging someone to make that man go away.  Eventually, he left the space immediately around me.

The ambulance folk were hurtful, hateful, and did not treat me well or effectively (the IV that was started was under my skin, not in a vein).  The ER folk were dismissive, hurtful, and did not treat me well or effectively (I left just as dirty as I came and my wounds became infected).  It was the worst and the most violent experience of my life.

And it was the loneliest.

I know now what I did not know then as far as the effects of trauma on my body.  All the medical personal should have known what I do, that I was shaking and weeping because of shock and the stress hormones flooding my body.  But all anyone did was tell me to "calm down."  That is the most useless and insensitive thing to say to someone in shock.  It was the worst and the most violent experience of my life.

And it was the loneliest.

It remains the loneliest.  There was no support or encouragement or understanding from the medical personnel.  There was no support or encouragement or understanding from my neighbors.  There was no support or encouragement from my family.  There was little support and no encouragement from the animal control officers.  There was no support or encouragement or understanding from the judge who let the woman skate from her fine and restitution order.  And I felt little support or encouragement or understanding from my friends.  It was the worst and the most violent experience of my life.

And it was the loneliest.

Yesterday, I tried to tell someone how hard this day is for me and the person cut me off and told me to basically just get over it.  What a way to kick someone when she's already down on the ground.  SIGH.

A Facebook friend of mine lost her teenage son in a car accident a few years ago.  She has talked about, written about, how her family and friends do not understand the agony, the wretchedness of that day as it comes around each year.  It is a day that is a division in her life, in her world.  Before that day, she had a son.  After that day, she did not. That is not something you get over ... or move on from.

August 6, 2010 is a pretty horrible day.  It is the day I was diagnosed with dysautonomia and the day I was last raped.  It is also the day I became pregnant with the baby that I lost.  Another loneliness that remains with me.  I often think of that day as the beginning of the end, in that I had this diagnoses and this numb horror and then this secret and then this loss and then another loss and then fleeing Alexandria.  I was already losing my job by then, the handwriting was on the wall, but definitely that was a turning point.

July 12, 2011 was not a turning point in my life.  It was a severing.  It is this demarkation between before and after the pit bull attack.  I will never be the same.  My life will never be the same.  From a PTSD standpoint, it is a wound that will always remain with me.  It is terror and a loneliness that haunts me, that cloaks the core of who I am.  It was the worst and most violent experience of my life.

And it was the loneliest.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New tastiness...

My goal this weekend was to try out a new recipe I discovered a while ago:  Mustard Crusted Potatoes.  Mmmmmm!

Now, I will say that I struggled a bit with this recipe.  However, if you start out with these ingredients, how can you really go wrong!

My two main concerns was that the potatoes took forever to cook and there was some of the mixture that was uncooked on the pan even after cooking it something like double the time on the original recipe.  So, I adjusted down the quantity of mustards and olive oil when I was typing up the recipe. I also increased the cooking temperature because it frankly needed to be higher.  Gosh, I should have done that before I cooked the potatoes, not after!

The potatoes, being yukon golds, were soooooooooooo  creamy on the inside.  Mighty tasty!

I didn't have a rimmed baking sheet, so I bought one back in December, the one pictured here.  It is Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet.  I have been exceedingly pleased with this, both in its sturdiness and its ease of clean-up.  When Mother was here, she was also impressed at the latter after making the Honey Chipotle Ribs.

I sure do love trying new recipes, although cooking with and/or for others is more enjoyable.   As I have cooked, I have learned a bit about myself, a bit about life, and a whole bunch about how ingredients work together and cooking techniques.  Doing so is often laborious for me, struggling with brain fog and cognitive decline, but the challenge, when I rise to the occasion, is sweet.  And when I fail (as in totally forget what I've measured) it is an opportunity for me to practice not castigating myself.

Good times!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

And will be more...

     "You have drowned men in your time," she said at last, using her voice, and only her voice.  "And it is that time, now."
     I have drowned men, the water replied, Even our own kin, in the end.  But of them, I kept memory and story and message to carry until the end of time.
     "I desire you to carry no message,"  she told the water.  "No message save death."
     But the water remained where it was.  Will you order me to destroy this human city?
     "I will."
     It is not my desire.
     "I have heard your desire," she said, speaking sharply now, while her kin gathered around her.  "You lie."
     You have heard my desire, but you have not heard all of my desire.  You have heard your fear, my anger, the place where both dwell.
     But I have heard your sorrow, and your joy, you anger and your fear.  You are alive.  The gift of life is not all of one thing or another—you are not only what you hate, not only what you love, not only even what you are aware of.  You are all of these things, and will be more. ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Secret, ch. 16.

Here, Kaylin is talking to elemental water.  The Tha'alani are a race in Elantra, who have prehensile antennae with which they can read the minds of others.  At the beginning of the story, Kaylin hates them.  She was once read and was terrified by the experience.  But more than just the roughness of what happened then (having broken into someone's office, she was, technically, a child criminal at the time), it is her deep and abiding shame that drove her hatred of the Tha'alani.  She was terrified to be known.

I understand that terror.

At this point in the story, Kaylin found herself talking to elemental water inside the memory of an ancient Tha'alani  because, as she learned, some part of the elemental water was actually the living memory of the Tha'alani  known as the Tha'alaan.  The Thalani are in touch with the Tha'alaan from their birth, understanding it as they grow and mature.  The elemental water holds the history, the living memories of the entire race.  When Kaylan entered the Tha'alaan, she learned of its beginning through the eyes of the Tha'alani first warrior.

If I were not so weary, I would type up the entire encounter, for I find it beautiful.  I mean, Uriel, the warrior, cannot see beyond his anger and pain at the death of his people.  He wants to wipe his enemy from the face of the planet, every man, woman, and child ... guilty and innocent alike.  But the elemental water points out that the destruction will not give Uriel what he really wants, for his people to live.  By connecting with them and begin keeping their memories, their lives, the Tha'alani will never really die.  Uriel agrees, giving up all his elemental powers, his magic, in the exchange.

When the elemental water is talking to Uriel, it defines mercy in this interesting way:  I will not have their odd acts of frailty—the thing you call kindness, or mercy.

Odd acts of frailty.  I just love that.  I think Dr. Brown would define mercy as odd acts of vulnerability.  Still, when I come to this exchange, I often pause over that sentence to both savor and ponder it.

If the Arcanists (these mage sorcerers who are not the best of folk), ever learned that the Tha'alani are connected to elemental water and have access to knowledge of elemental magic in the oldest parts of their living memory, of the Tha'alann, they would be exploited to a man (and child) and the dragon Emperor would be forced to intervene.  Kaylin is fascinated and yet burdened with her discovery.  Keeping what she knows out of her reports and out of her investigation is terribly difficult, especially when Lord Sanabalis, a dragon, is pressuring her to reveal what she knows, believing that a young officer of the law could not possibly know what is important or not when Elantra was, once again, facing destruction (a rogue mage mucking about with elemental powers ... or trying to discover how to do so).

So, the moment following this enormous discovery was burdensome for Kaylin, therefore, but it was also incredibly astounding for she had the incredible realization that if the Tha'alann could forgive Uriel and all his acts of destructive revenge, then there possibly could be forgiveness for Kaylin and the things in her past that smother her in shame.

Studying Dr. Brown's work, I think it is more accurate to state that what Kaylin struggles with is guilt and also shame.  What her society would think of a child who stole food, her new polite society, is very much shame language.  What she did when she fled the fief, the horrifying ways she tried to escape her fear and pain, well, that Kaylin would not even want typed here ... were she real.

I understand being so certain that there could not possibly be forgiveness for what you have done (experienced) and yet longing for just that deeply, in that secret place where there are no words, no light.

But I have heard your sorrow, and your joy, you anger and your fear.  You are alive.  The gift of life is not all of one thing or another—you are not only what you hate, not only what you love, not only even what you are aware of.  You are all of these things, and will be more. 

I like this.
I like the idea of not only being ... my shame.
And I like the idea that I will be more than even that of which I am aware.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Light and fluffy...

I watch a lot of British television.  Or rather I stream it.  I also watch Canadian and Australian TV.  I watch shows from those countries because I think the dramas tend to be more real and more complex than most American television.  Heck, on American TV, you'd never see someone with a missing tooth play the female lead on a show!  I happen to think that you get more of a story with British, Canadian, and Australian television than you get a dose of "Hollywood."

[And you get to learn lots and lots and lots of new words (including colorful metaphors)!]

Anyway, I just finished a show from the latter market entitled "Reef Doctors."  In watching it, I realized anew just how much American television is actually a remake of shows from other countries.  There was a show a few years ago about doctors in a tropical setting, ABC, I think.  Maybe in a jungle??  One of the doctors had long curly hair (being envious of curls my entire life, I can remember things like that).  She also had a heart condition (having a pacemaker, I now focus on that stuff, too).  And another of the female doctors was Meryl Streep's daughter who went on to star in another medical drama show I liked but was also short-lived.  Anyway, watching "Reef Doctors" I realized where that ABC show came from ... or mirrored in locale and idea (a remote clinic).

"Reef Doctors" is a light and fluffy show, though much more educational than the American version.  Whilst not generally my cup of tea, the opening music got me all ... revved up ... every time I heard it.  Foot waggling.  Bouncing Amos on my lap.

One of the things that I liked about watching the show (other than I tend to like medical shows) is that it reminded me (if I could actually remember) of my time living in a tropical local, living in Africa as a missionary.

I spent the entire thirteen episodes (not well-received, it was only one season) trying to remember.  For example, I would look at the coconut trees, the shots of those tall, curving trees, and close my eyes, trying to put myself back next to that sight, staring up into the lofty heights toward the coconuts.  I would watch the scenes of folk walking on the beach and try to feel the sand between my fingers, when I would sit on the beach with children from the city where I taught Sunday School come to visit.  I would see the rolls of ocean waves and try to remember watching the ocean lit up at night from the florescent plankton that came to the coast each year.  Basically, I would watch, trying to use my senses to place myself back in Africa.  It didn't work at all, but this nostalgic part of me enjoyed the show because I know I lived on the beach for a year.  Plus, well, I certainly could understand the constant sweating!

The show, as I said, is very much light and fluffy.  There is very little medicine and a whole lot of lauding of venom research.  There is the typical split family filled with anger and distrust.  And the handsome, arrogant doctor.  The women are all thin and beautiful, especially the German medical student doing a rotation.  There is the grumpy old man who secretly has a heart of gold.  And the rugged single man who secretly wants to court the main doctor and is friends with her teenage son.  Pretty much every stereotype that could be fit into the show was over the course of those 13 episodes.  However, there was admirable character growth in the short season and the episodes were very much a pleasant distraction.  And I thought that the show did an admirable job of wrapping up a hasty and premature end to the series.

I wish I could remember being a missionary.
I wish I could remember living on a beach.
I wish I could remember the taste of coconut fresh from a tree.

But I cannot.  SIGH.

Still, if you like to stream shows and are in need of something pleasant with which to take a break without having to think or feel or otherwise deeply engage and you have Hulu+, I would highly recommend "Reef Doctors."

Thursday, July 07, 2016

My normal...

  • Nausea
  • Writhing
  • Despair
  • Sleep
  • Feed Amos
  • Eat
  • Nap
  • Feed Amos
  • Visit with Firewood Man
  • Nap
  • Stream
  • Fall on stairs
  • Weep
  • Read
  • Sleep

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Defining words...

"Because not all weakness has to be weakness.  Weakness, strength, power, failure—they're just words, and we can define what the words mean if we have the will or the courage." ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Courtlight, Ch. 21

I was reading in my beloved series, thinking about how the more slowly and carefully I read, the more gems I find, like this one.

But before I ponder defining words, I wanted to mention a bit I read last night, for it reminds me of this bit in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series.  I just started the third book in The Chronicles of Elantra, Cast in Secret.  Okay, well, I am mostly through this book.  But there is this part that brings me such ... joy ... that I find myself rushing ahead to get to that bit and then reading it a few times before moving on to the next part of the story.

In this book, Kaylin is brought to the royal library for the first time, to a room at the back of the archives.  What is interesting about the library is that it is the hoard of a dragon who is called The Arkon (I disremember his name at this point).  You see, Elantra is the hoard of the emperor and so it is a bit unique to have another dragon claim something within another's hoard as his own.  In fact, there is this funny but serious line in one of the first books about entire wars being fought over how the dragons defined the word mine, ultimately finding a definition, in a way in which they could co-exist.

So, Kaylin is in the library, with the two dragons she knows at this point, Tiamaris, who has worked with her in short capacity as a Hawk, an officer of the law, and Sanabalis, who has agreed to be her magic teacher (something she doesn't want, but the emperor does).  What she is about to learn is that the bracelet/manacle that she wears that inhibits her magic came from this archive.  Lord Sanabalis brought Kaylin there to talk about the marks on her body for the first time, to try and explain a bit of their history.

They enter one room of the archives, and Kaylin spots a statute of a Barrani (I think of them sort of like elves) who is marked as she is.  By this point, Kaylin knows she is called the Chosen because she is marked, but she doesn't really know what that means.  So, they talk a little about him and the marks.  I am always rushing through this part.

Then, they enter the second room.  In the dark and dusty place, there is a skeleton who is wearing jewelry that matches the manacle.  But as she approaches the skeleton, Kaylin sees something that the dragons do not.  She sees a giant blue stone hanging on a chain around his neck.  And then the skeleton begins to speak.

Ah!  I am getting all ... joyous ... just thinking about it!

In short, the skeleton is a dragon who died in his human form, forever denied the winds of eternity because of that.  He died protecting his hoard, which is the stone pendant. Only the pendant is actually a word, a True Word.  Water.  His hoard really was the duty to protect it, to seek nothing else as his duty, to not use its power until the time it is needed.

Tiamaris and Sanabalis are horrified to discover that the man is a dragon and is thus trapped.  Tiamaris turns away and Sanabalis bows his head.  Kaylin, well, Kaylin talks with the skeleton, to hear his story.

He says that he called and she, moved by more than she understands, answers that she was late in coming, but she's here now.  He says that he failed in his duty, but she says that he was faithful even in death and, thus, did not fail.  She offers to take his duty, not for herself, but to find someone who will honor it as he has.  After he passes it to her, Kaylin tells the rest of his story.  With the power of the marks on her skin, which are a mixture of True Words and True Names, she tells of his courage in staying the course until the end, being trapped in his form, until such a time when someone came who could take his burden and free him.  In speaking the end of his story, Kaylin is writing it.  One of the marks lifts off her skin and fills the trapped dragon and frees him.  As she finishes speaking, wind wraps around Kaylin and her dragon companions as the light that had been filling the skeleton transforms into the wings of a dragon and the bones become a fine ash.  The dragon's cry of freedom, his shout of joy, permeates all of Elantra.


I like that Kaylin frees the dragon and I like that she does so by writing the true end of his story, by not having his story end in the library, but in what transpires between them.  I like the compassion of the dragons is revealed.  I like that the outcome is joy.

It is just so ... emotional.

In one of Jordan's books, a character is able to restore two of her sisters-by-choice who had been severed from the one power.  It is really like restoring life to them, in a way, and it is just as joyous.  I always rush ahead when I am nearing that scene.  In fact, I have been known to pick up that book and flip to that scene just for the ... joy.

I would like to figure out how to mark the Kindle version of Cast in Secret so I could do the same.

Anyway, back to what Kaylin said in the previous book, Cast in Courtlight:

"Because not all weakness has to be weakness.  Weakness, strength, power, failure—they're just words, and we can define what the words mean if we have the will or the courage." ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Courtlight, Ch. 21

When I think of the entire series, what Kaylin is saying here is not about True Words, for she ultimately learn that they are ... fixed.  You cannot change their meaning.  Even here, I do not think that Kaylin is speaking of changing the meaning of weakness, strength, power, or failure so much as she is saying that we can change how we look at them.

"We are judged by our successes," he said, brushing the hair from her eyes.  "We all expect that.  But we are also judged by our failures, noble or ignoble.  Success and failure are two edges of the same blade, two sides of the same coin.  To fear the one is to forever deny the possibility of the other." ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Courtlight, ch. 19

This earlier scene comes to mind because Severn, Kaylin's beat partner, is often one who speaks to her of changing what words mean.  Here, he is asking her not only to risk failure, but to change how she sees failure.  Failure is not always a bad thing.  I like his descriptors:  noble failure, ignoble failure.

It also calls to mind what the Integrated Medicine Specialist said to me a few months ago, a quite comment that I have been long pondering.  "Be careful how you define "healthy."  You see, I was telling her about this really great article encouraging chronically ill folk not to compare themselves to Healthy Me.  What Dr. LaSalle was saying is that I can still look at Healthy Me, Healthy Myrtle, because although the Dysautonomia has been making me progressively worse, I have gained such ground in what I think about myself (micro steps forward), managing my symptoms, managing my emotions, and being courageous and vulnerable.

I wrote about the article before, when I read it.  Although I find it strangely difficult to track down specific posts I've penned on my own blog!  I wrote about it, almost excited to step away from Healthy Me, as if she'll never be here.  That's right if you are specifically talking about only physically Healthy Me.  There is ever so much more to the word "health" than the physicality of the body.

I think, too, about this conversation with the dragon Lord Sanabalis and Kaylin:

     "Mortals, however, have learned to love the dark, to love ignorance."
     "That's a bit harsh," she said, substituting her first reaction with a swiftness that would have impressed Severn, had he been there.
     "Is is?  You are mortal.  By definition, Kaylin, you will all die, no matter what you do.  There is no precaution you can take that will save eternity for you.  Death is the road you will walk, from the moment you first breathe.  It surrounds the fabric of your living.  You are always saying goodbye.
     "My kind, and the Barrani, have oft overlooked the important of life to the mortals because it is so very brief, and because so little is lost—in our eyes.  A handful of years.  If I chose to sleep, I might have missed the whole of your life—and it seems long to you, even though you are young.
     "But there is an urgency about mortality that creates wonder, that heightens both joy and fear.  To my eyes, you live an eternity in such a short span."  ~ Michelle Sagara, Cast in Secret, Ch. 8

Lord Sanabalis was acknowledging that Kaylin was chasing how he looked at mortals.

In the second book, at its end, Kaylin is trying to find the words (so as not to offend him) to show the Barrani Lord of the West March that there is room in his stiff, dispassionate, immortal existence to define words as more than what he has become mored to over the centuries.  That idea of change, of seeing outside your own existence and preconceptions mired within, extends across the rest of the books to Kaylin's interactions with the dragons and is reflected back to herself as she continually confronts her shame and her desire to keep much of her life hidden.

To me, the work of Dr. BrenĂ© Brown, all those years of research, of data collection, collation, and categorizing, has helped me to become open to the possibility of redefining the word "shame."  For one, it has become mored in me, now, that shame is external, not internal.  Just understanding that facet of its nature leaves me, very privately, shouting with the joy of freedom.

     Teyaragon, eldest of his line, gave over the gathering and the hunt, and retreated from the skies and their freedom when he was but eight hundred years old in the reckoning of his kind."  Her legs and her arms were burning, and she could hear the words on her skin, because they were so like the ones she was speaking, for a moment, they might have been the same thing.
     "A duty was placed upon his kind and he chose to bear it alone, and he faced the heart of the Water, bearing only its name, and when the Water was awake, he fought its coming, and he perished in the fight.
     "But he fought for long enough, and with all of his power—which was great, even reckoned among his kin—that his people had time to take to the skies, where they could without deserting their hoard.  And the Water, in the end, found nothing to sustain it, and it died, upon the land, as Teyaragon himself had died.
     "But he kept his oath and he fulfilled his duty, even in death, trapped and lessened by the form he had been forced to take to bear this sigil.  And in time, when his ancient enemy began to stir, he came from the edge of death to greet the Chosen, come at last to his call."
     The light in his eyes was fading, but it was still pure gold.  Kaylin wanted to look away.  She could't bear to to see empty sockets there.  She felt the weight of the pendant as he dropped it, at last, around her neck.
     But she hadn't finished yet.
     "And without his burden, having fulfilled all duty beyond even the expectation of those who placed the geas upon him, he was free at last to return to his rightful form."  And she gestured, and her hands flew up, palms out, and the words surged through her.  She heard the snap of the thin wood as her hair streamed free, and strands of it stood on end, as if she was a lightening rod.
     "The winds which had waited for millennia gathered, even in the darkness of his tomb, and they whispered his name, and he heard it."
     Light flared around him; light that was bright, but pale now, not blue and not orange but not quite blinding white.  Where the light he had somehow summoned in death has been amber and man shaped, the light that took him now was larger in every possible way.  It spread through the darkness like fire, consuming it.  Wings of light passed through the walls and tongues of white flame left his jaw as his face elongated.
     And there was a wind in the closed chambers; heavy, brittle pieces of parchment fluttered by, swirling up toward the ceiling and the far walls.
     "And the winds carried him aloft, to the open skies."
     The light began to climb; the wings were flapping.  She could feel the gale, and stood in the center of it, unharmed.  Unmoved.
     He roared in triumph and in joy, and the whole palace must have skated with the sound of it; had it been no more than a whisper, she though they must feel it anyway, because of what it contained.
     "Go, " she whispered. "I give you back your name, and your death, and your freedom."
     And rising from her—from within her—was a single bright sigil too complicated to memorize, too significant to ever forget.  ~Michelle Sagara, Cast in Secret, Ch. 11

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A bit of comfort...

The past two nights, in particular, have been rough for Amos and I.  Thankfully, tonight is better.  By that I mean, the fireworks nutters seem to have gotten it all out of their systems Sunday and Monday. My neighborhood sounded very much like a battlefield, with concussive forces so strong that car alarms kept going off.  I thought Sunday night was bad, but last night was worse.  Amos and I ended up in the closet with all the weighted blankets, trying to survive the onslaught to our compromised nervous systems.  Poor puppy dog!

Saturday night, I worked on making a small weighted blanket for my bed.  I wanted one for up there because carrying heavy things up and down the stairs is not especially a safe thing for me to be doing and because I have been thinking that I might sleep better with one.  My idea was to make a small one that could be draped over one shoulder and down my back (I am a side sleeper).

This is my end result.  I am pleased that I actually completed it and I am pleased that my squares are actually fairly even at 4x4 inches.  I am not pleased with my edging or my closing.  I mean, I had wanted to have an edging around it the way that my friend Becky made mine and Amos', but I realized that I wasn't sure how to make one after already starting.  That could be forgiven, I suppose, though it is hard to sew all the way to the edge when making the pockets.

What is really bothersome is that I just couldn't figure out how to do the closure, so, before I started making the pockets, I sewed down the raw edges at the top.  Since I had already sewed the sides, this meant that I had to sew in a circle, since I essentially had a pillow case at that point.  Sewing in a circle is much, much, much harder than sewing a straight line (on super duper slow motion speed).  Mine seams were all wibbly wobbly and didn't match up once the two edges were put together.

Doing it this way meant that I had to sew a third seam to close it (third) because each side had a seam on it.  The third one, which closed the top row of pockets, does not align with the seam sewn to tack down the raw edges on either side of the top of the blanket.  In fact, since I was trying to catch the top of the columns I initially sewed to start the pockets of weighted beads, I sort of backed up and started over.  Mostly, it looks like a child sewed the top.  I am not a child.  SIGH.

However, the function of the blanket worked perfectly, as Amos decided almost immediately after I finished it (and took a photo).  He used it for the rest of the evening before I carried up to bed.

Twice, since getting it, I have slept just over four hours without waking.  That is a Myrtle miracle.  In fact, Saturday night I only woke three times total!  It may be too early to be definitive about the weighted blanket's help, but I believe it will have benefit to me at night.

I really, to be honest, was first thinking it would be helpful when I am in the throes of violent waves of nausea and/or writhing in pain and am flagging in spirits. I thought having it about my shoulders might be sort of like having a hug.  In any case, I do like the weight across my shoulder and back whilst sleeping.

Not knowing what size I needed or what to do, I bought a yard of this fabric.  I think, maybe, a yard and a half might have been a better fit for draping completely about the shoulders, but I really only need one shoulder.  If I were making it for someone else, though, I would make it a wee bit longer.  Of course, if I were someone who sews, I would have figured out how to make a half-moon in the middle so it wouldn't bunch up around my neck.  But given that I know nothing about sewing and basically can only sew in a line using super duper slow motion speed, I did fairly well.

In case you are wondering, I used the weighted pellets Becky uses in her weighted blankets, Poly-Pellets.   They are currently half-price at JoAnn Fabrics and the 10lb box is even cheaper when bought online.  Each bag is two pounds and I used about 1 and 2/3rd bags for my blanket.  There are all sorts of charts to figure weight, but I basically measured a half cup into each 4x4 pocket.

I suppose I am now doubly thankful that my mother bought the sewing machine so that I could hem all the curtains upstairs.  Now, not only has Becky used it to create resting pads for Amos for four rooms and a weighted blanket for him, I have used it to created a small weighted blanket for my bed. Those things could not have been created without Mother's gift and Amos and I have certainly found much peace and comfort through them.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Blasted celebrations...

Fort Wayne folk are just plain nutters about fireworks.  Amos and I have been dealing with them for a week now and it is not even yet the 4th.  Living with PTSD is rather difficult if you happen to reside in this city.  SIGH.

Tonight, my neighbors across the street spent over an hour setting them off.  Amos was inconsolable and trembled so hard that I wept.  It is hard to comfort your puppy dog when you are in want of comfort yourself.  Amos finally stuffed himself behind my back (we're sitting on the couch) where I could smother him.  Despite my considerable weight, my little Fluffernutter is making me shake as he quakes in fear.

Am I a female curmudgeon?  A termagant?  For I would gladly vote to outlaw all personal displays of fireworks in the city.  Heck, I think I would vote for the cessation of all fireworks displays.  SIGH.

I can talk to myself, speak reasonable thoughts aloud as my body shudders with terrible memories.  But I cannot speak reasonable thoughts to Amos.  He has gotten stronger in so very many ways, but his startle response is worse now than just after the pit bull attack.  And his list of fears grows ever longer.

Breaks my heart that even my own touch startles Amos.  Of course, I really am the hypocrit, aren't I.  After all, I am not welcoming of most touch either.  Just like Amos, I want to be the one who chooses contact ... not have that choice made for me.

The vet, who has clinically diagnosed Amos with PTSD, talks with me about putting him on benzodiazepines.  I don't like the idea of putting him on that class of drugs for the rest of his life, nor the idea of risking him going through withdrawal.  However, sometimes I wonder if he would not be happier all drugged up ... enforced mellowness.  The vet has not pushed the issue, because she says it is patently clear to her that Amos is happy with me, that I am, literally, his safe place.  I don't argue with her on that.

But, right now, being physically agitated by my terrified puppy dog, I wonder just how safe I am for him.  And I wonder if he could have a better life than he does.

Oh, how I adore and am blessed by my little Fluffernutter!