THE MAGIC OF GIVING BACK

Early morning.  Five o’clock.  I am alone in a small room.    I stare at the wall facing my bed.    Chipped and battered from beds being pushed in and out.  The only decoration a faded cork board and a sign advising one how to wash your hands. Nothing beautiful to look at.  Nothing to bring me up from the black abyss.  I am alone with various tubes attached to my body.  I  weep tears of utter despair. A few years ago my breast cancer returned.  The first encounter I had a right breast lumpectomy.  This time a mastectomy in the other breast.     I am alone.    Feeling so sorry for myself when my nurse enters my room with a gift  wrapped package.  Pillows!  Soft, comfortable pillows covered in a happy flowered pattern.  Pillows to give me under the arm and breast protection.    In that moment the sun came out.

I’m smiling.  I’m not alone.

The package contained  pillows hand sewn by a group of woman who are members of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.   The hospital is located in Ladner, British Columbia.   They are post-operative pillows tailored for post mastectomy surgery.    The pillows are a gift from the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.    These amazing women known as THE PILLOW PALS  cut, sew, stuff and package these pillows.  A thoughtful card with encouraging words are enclosed with the pillows.

I am giving back.

I am a proud member of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.   I search for wonderful fabrics to be sewn into pillows by dedicated woman known with great affection as THE PILLOW PALS.

I am giving back.

 

 

 

 

 

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ZEN AND THE ART OF STRAWBERRY JAM

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She weighed the strawberries.

Measured the sugar.

The wisdom of tradition whispered to her.

This is state of mind.

This is a way of being.

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Her thoughts weighed heavy on her wrists.

She filled the jars

With the warmth of the sun.

The perfume of the crushed berries.

The  blue she had grabbed from the sky.

The music the wind across the fields.

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This alchemy of jam.

This seeing things without distortion.

She placed a flower on Buddha.

This she thought is the zen of strawberry jam.

ZEN AND THE ART OF IRONING LINEN NAPKINS

The voice of Kiri te Kanawa soars through our home.  A favorite and much loved CD … Chants d’Auvergne (songs of the Auvergne).    I’m ironing  napkins, gorgeous banquet sized antique linen damask napkins.    The final memory filled  task of Saturday’s dinner party,  a memorable evening with friends and family.

No ordinary napkins these, but heavy, large 24″ by 24″ drifts of shimmering white.   I treasure hunt for vintage linen.  Finding them in thrift shops and garage sales.  Buying  single orphans.  Incomplete sets.   Monogrammed napkin embroidered with the initials of others.

At the end of the evening  the napkins soak in cold water over night. If there is a recalcitrant stain I add a little powdered bleach.   I wash them in more cool water, gentle cycle, mild soap. I hang them to dry.

I spray them with L’Occitane’s lavender-scented Linen Water.    It’s  lovely to see the beautiful damask patterns come to life under the heat of the iron.   I fold the napkin in half and press a sharp crease, then fold and iron again.  My Mother, who was a beautiful ironer would not approve of this.  It wears the linen away.   But,  I like the sharp, crisp crease.  I do the same with my linen tablecloths (it’s the French style).

The napkins, still damp and immaculately ironed, air dry on the laundry rack.   I tie each set with with coloured ribbons and carefully tuck  them away to wait patiently for the next dinner party.

This simple act of calmly and quietly ironing, and storing them in an orderly fashion is the zen and art of ironing linen napkins.

Living with chemotherapy induced Peripheral Neuropathy

 

Three years ago I was diagnosed once again with breast cancer.  I had a mastectomy.  After surgery my treatment was oral  Exemestene – an anti-cancer hormone treatment not normally given to woman over eighty years old.      Two years of Exemestene and  the many serious  side-effects of this drug became so debilitating, the quality of my life so miserable,  I made the choice to stop treatment.

One of the unpleasant  side effects was painful burning and numbness in my feet and legs at night.  My feet became numb and I was having trouble walking, climbing stairs, anything relating to balance.  It was diagnosed as peripheral neuropathy.   I received little help from the oncology neurologist other than  suggesting  adding a B Multiple supplement  to the vitamin supplements I was taking.   This was the beginning of my extensive research on treatment of chemotherapy induced peripheral sensory neuropathy.

Courtesy Google I researched many North American  sites reporting positive results treating  people with  type two Diabetes with large amounts of Vitamin B 12 and Alpha laporic acid (an antioxidant, ) but little information on chemotherapy induced neuropathy.    The information I required was found  on Dutch and German medical sites.    I discussed the decision to add  vitamin B12 and alpha laporic acid to my supplement regime  with my family doctor and my nephrologist.

It has been just three months since I started taking B12 and alpha laporic acid and  I have been able to sleep with less burning pain.   Physiotherapists  gave me exercises to strength my feet and legs and  improve my balance.  Periperal Neuropathy weakens the muscles.   I’ve made major changes in my diet with  emphases on fresh fruits and vegetables and protein.     The  Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy is an excellent source of information.  But, it is important to be your own advocate.    Do extensive research and question everything.  And most important to discuss your choices with your family doctor and not self diagnose.

On the most positive note  –  my research has improved the quality of life for my younger sister.  She has type two diabetes and  had never been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy.  She discussed treatment with her physician and after adding vitamin B 12 and alpha laporic acid to her vitamin supplements  she ended years of suffering and has  absolutely no burning night pain in  her feet.

It is not my nature to be so open about something so intensely  personal.   Cancer has been my unwanted companion for eleven years.  If this experience helps just one person  that is what this post is about, and I will have made a difference for some one.

https://www.foundationforpn.org/

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/peripheral-neuropathy-risk-factors-symptoms#1

 

 

 

 

 

SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN, AND FORBID THEM NOT, TO COME UNTO ME: FOR SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

 

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send there, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.

  I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

 

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(The text of this sonnet by Emma Lazarus is mounted inside the  Statue of Liberty)

(The text  “suffer little children” from King James version of the bible  Matthew 19:14)

THE GREAT LOVER . . . and all the dear names men use, to cheat despair. Rupert Brooke 1887 – 1915

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These I have loved:

White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,

Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;

rooftops

Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light;

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The strong crust of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;

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Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;

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And radiant raindrop couching in cool flowers;

And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,

Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;

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Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon

Smooth away trouble;

silk-blanket

And the rough male kiss of blankets ;

grainy wood;

life hair that is shining and free;

blue-massing clouds;

the keen unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

the benison of hot water;

furs to touch;

the good smell of old clothes; and other such.

I have been so great a love: filled my days

So proudly with the splendour of love’s praise,

The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,

Desire illimitable, and still content,

And all dear names men use, to cheat despair.

These exquisite lines are from the poem THE GREAT LOVER by Rupert Brooke.   Rupert Brooke was a handsome, charming and talented English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War.   He was only 28 years old when he died.

 

I have been so great a lover: filled my days
So proudly with the splendour of Love’s praise,
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,
Desire illimitable, and still content,
And all dear names men use, to cheat despair,
For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear
Our hearts at random down the dark of life.
Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,
My night shall be remembered for a star
That outshone all the suns of all men’s days.
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see
The inenarrable godhead of delight?
Love is a flame:--we have beaconed the world’s night.
A city:--and we have built it, these and I.
An emperor:--we have taught the world to die.
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,
And the high cause of Love’s magnificence,
And to keep loyalties young, I’ll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that men may know,
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming . . . .

These I have loved:
		White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such-- 
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair’s fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year’s ferns. . . .
					                  Dear names,
And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water’s dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;
Voices in laughter, too; and body’s pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;-- 
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass,
Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.
They’ll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love’s trust
And sacramented covenant to the dust.
----Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what’s left of love again, and make
New friends, now strangers. . . . 
			            But the best I’ve known
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies.
			            Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again
This one last gift I give: that after men
Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed,
Praise you, ‘All these were lovely’; say, ‘He loved.'