Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.



I Miss You, Mom!

Rest In Peace
February 9, 1920 - December 14, 2006

Genevieve Evelyn Borden Deane, age 86, died at her daughter's home in Cedar Park, Texas on December 14, 2006, following a fruitful and fulfilling life.

She was born February 9, 1920 in Breeseport, NY
She was the Daughter of Myron Rockwell Borden and Orilla Brewer Davis

On May 16, 1937  She was united in marriage to James Deforest Deane in Port Allegany, PA.

Most of her life, Mrs. Deane resided in Niagara County NY where she and her husband operated their own business and later she worked for St. Mary's hospital in Lewiston NY. After retirement in 1980 they moved to Southern California.

Mrs. Deane was a member of the Episcopal Church. And was a member of Gideon's International, Full Gospel Businessmen's Ladies Fellowship, and volunteered in the Ladies Auxiliary of Assembly of God San Bernardino helping to create quilts for the homeless.

Personally, her extended family includes all the friends of her children who called her "Mom".

Among her interests, Genevieve was an avid needle seamstress, hand embroiderer. Among pleasures in her life she enjoyed gardening, antiquing, thrift shopping, yard sales and swap meets, and collecting treasures such as sea shells and interesting rocks. She loved board games, cards, jig saw puzzles and was an avid reader. In her early years she wrote poetry which was recited on the WJJL radio station in Niagara Falls NY.

Genevieve attended Port Allegany High School in Port Allegany, PA and later graduated from Niagara Falls High School.

She is predeased by her parents, husband, sister, Carrie Borden Staples; brother, Alvin Borden, a son Lee Deforest Deane, and grandson, Raj Anil Megha.

Survivors include her four children, David, Lockport NY, Elizabeth Munroz, Watsonville, CA, Roger, Scottsdale, AZ, and Suzan Simpson of Austin TX. Her grandchildren include Christine Deane, Lockport NY, Laurie Blunk, Alta Loma, CA, Therese Burton, Chicago IL, Xavier Rodriguez, San Francisco, CA, Carl Deane, Niagara Falls, NY and Varsha Megha,  Austin TX.

She is also survived by 17 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren who will surely miss her loving arms around them.

Great-Grandchildren include Moses, Brittany, Marquis, Andrew, Justin, Michael, Breanna, Chloe, Moriah, Kezia, Tiara, Kory, Storm, Sterling, Jasmine, Rain, Anjulique, Ashanti and Rajen

Great-Great Grandchildren are Daniel, Matthew, and Alexander

With special thanks and gratitude to my sister Suzan, who devoted herself to my mother that last year of her life.


Note: new great-great grandchildren, India and Rylee have been born since 2006 with another one due any moment.

Photograph take by me, Elizabeth Munroz


What Mother Wrote 1969

Lightening crackles across the sky and thunder's magnificent bass joins the foolish chirp of optimistic early birds as rain pelts off the eaves onto the once shiny, new green translucent plastic sheet now lying in the winter worn clay muck where I once thought roses would be blooming.

And that, in one overgrown sentence, that which became one grotesque paragraph, is the story of my life. Nothing more needs to be written. But since I long ago tried to prove myself poetic, I found I was only capable of writing terse verse, and am now much older and more foolish. I feel it might afford amusement to someone if I set down some of the bizarre consequences of this "Alice life". For it all seems to be a mad tea party. All the lovely dreams and the grand plans and hope are misshapen and run into  grotesque patterns as splashes of paint thrown carelessly at a canvas.

As a young and naive girl I used to fear that lightning would "strike me still in my tracks" somewhat like a pillar of salt. Oh how cruel, but now if it would be so kind. No. There's no chance of such a romantic fate for me and I now realize there never will be. I shall be as the green plastic and once shining and hopeful of giving grace and shady welcome from the hot summer sun or shelter from the beasts of snow and ice of winter but left discarded unused, to lie in the mud and be of no consequence. Just beaten down, marred and scratched, unbeautiful and useless. Never having been in the right place at the right time to add any beauty or serve a useful purpose. Scarred and muddy and discarded.

Written by my mother, Genevieve Borden Deane, April 10, 1969 at age 49

I recall the green plastic tarp she had placed over a too early planted rose bush, that had been trammeled by a rain storm and dashed her hopes for her garden to be.

I didn't know she wrote this piece. I just came across it yesterday while looking for some old family papers.

I recall it was a short time after I had gotten out of the hospital for surgery on my recurrent chondrosarcoma (bone cancer).

I suspect the stresses of that alone could have contributed to her despondent mood.

But, I'm sure there were other things going on in her life of which I am unaware.

I'm sure, by looking at the photos, you can see she was not always so morose.

Butterflies Over the Golden Mustard Fields

For ten years
we had a beautiful green garden.
For twenty years
the sun always shone on our thatched roofs.
My mother came out and called me home.
I came to the front yard
near the kitchen
to wash my feet
and warm my hands over the rosy hearth,
waiting for our evening meal
as the curtain of night
fell slowly on our village.

I will never grow up
no matter how long I live.
Just yesterday, I saw a band
of golden butterflies fluttering above our garden.
The mustard greens were bursting with bright yellow flowers.

Mother and sister, you are always with me.
The gentle afternoon breeze is your breathing.
I am not dreaming of some distant future.
I just touch the wind and hear your sweet song.
It seems like only yesterday that you told me,
"If one day, you find everything destroyed,
then look for me in the depths of your heart."

I am back. Someone is singing.
My hand touches the old gate,
and I ask, "What can I do to help?"
The wind replies,
"Smile. Life is a miracle.
Be a flower.
Happiness is not built of bricks and stones."

I understand. We don't want to cause each other pain.
I search for you day and night.
The trees grope for one another in the stormy night.
The lightning flash reassures them
they are close to one another.

My brother, be a flower standing along the wall.
Be a part of this wondrous being.
I am with you. Please stay.
Our homeland is always within us.
Just as when we were children,
we can still sing together.

This morning, I wake up and discover
that I've been using the sutras as my pillow.
I hear the excited buzzing of the diligent bees
preparing to rebuild the universe.
Dear ones, the work of rebuilding
may take thousands of lifetimes,
but it has also already been completed
just that long ago.
The wheel is turning,
carrying us along.
Hold my hand, brother, and you will see clearly
that we have been together
for thousands of lifetimes.

My mother's hair is fresh and long.
It touches her heels.
The dress my sister hangs out to dry
is still sailing in the wind
over our green yard.

It was an autumn morning
with a light breeze.
I am really standing in our backyard--
the guava trees, the fragrance of ripe mangoes,
the red maple leaves scurrying about
like little children at our feet.

A song drifts from across the river.
Bales of silky, golden hay
traverse the bamboo bridge.
Such fragrance!

As the moon rises above
the bamboo thicket,
we play together
near the front gate.
I am not dreaming.
This is a real day, a beautiful one.
Do we want to return to the past
and play hide-and-seek?
We are here today,
and we will be here tomorrow.
This is true.
Come, you are thirsty.
We can walk together
to the spring of fresh water.

Someone says that God has consented
for mankind to stand up and help Him.
We have walked hand in hand
since time immemorial.
If you have suffered, it is only
because you have forgotten
you are a leaf, a flower.

The chrysanthemum is smiling at you.
Don't dip your hands into cement and sand.
The stars never build prisons for themselves.

Let us sing with the flower and the morning birds.
Let us be fully present.
I know you are here because I can look into your eyes.
Your hands are as beautiful as chrysanthemums.
Do not let them be transformed
into gears, hooks, and ropes.

Why speak of the need to love one another?
Just be yourself.
You don't need to become anything else.

Let me add one testimony of my own.
Please listen as if I were
a bubbling spring.

And bring mother. I want to see her.
I shall sing for you, my dear sister,
and your hair will grow as long as mother's.

By Thich Nhat Hanh

First photo taken by my sister, Suzan Deane-Simpson
Second photo taken my myself, Elizabeth Munroz

Happy Birthday, Mona!


Swimming in the Air

When fishes swim 

in waters green

behind the cube of glass,

and wake me 

in the middle of dreams

with bubbles, 

speaking gibberish,

I lie there, staring

at tail fins 

sweeping my ceiling 

free of stardust cobwebs.

Then close my eyes 

to puckered up Kissing Fish

cleaning my eyelids of algae.

I worry when my babies 

swim in the air.

Won’t they drown?


Elizabeth Munroz 1974


Garden Memories – Lilies

Looking back upon the past summer and the incredible heat of October, it seemed to me that Autumn would never truly arrive even though my Chrysanthemums insisted on their season. Finally, we verged upon November and I welcomed the colder weather so that I could get serious about my gardening. Like a greenhouse flower, I wilt in extreme temperatures. All the things I had left undone begged me to step outside and tackle them.

For me this was a time for general cleaning up and implementing my springtime plans. I had many ideas for enhancing my garden, and as I worked, I found that new schemes jumped into my mind altering everything. I have to admit that I am a spontaneous and haphazard gardener. While raking leaves in the area that I had intended to place some Jade plant, I suddenly daydreamed of it being planted with distinctive white Calla Lilies. I had recently excavated some out of a crowded corner of my yard just a short time before. Family members requested that I share my surplus. I had put them in containers in order to keep my promises to give them my lilies, just not so abundantly. I easily changed my "well thought out" plans and enthusiastically tackled my new Lily Patch when a parcel arrived.

I had forgotten my other previous autumn planting concept to create a bed of Stargazer Lilies, and here they were on my doorstep. I was so excited, it was like Christmas! Memory lapse made the surprise shipment even more pleasant. My mind overflowed with visions of pink splendor.

I recall my first introduction to Stargazers just seven years ago. Can you believe I had never seen any before then? Upon entering the home of a friend, I was assaulted by the most intensely breathtaking fragrance that literally commanded my attention. Instead of greeting my friend when she welcomed me in, I blurted out, "What is that incredible smell?" Then I saw the flustered look on her face. Some people think that the word, smell is not pleasant. My nose is in love with gardening as much as my hands, so smells of all sorts have very special appeal for me. I realized the error of my word usage, and quickly covered with scent. “I mean, that enticing scent!”

Smiling, she replied "Stargazer Lilies!" and led me to the exquisite bouquet sitting on the table in another room. I was astounded at their loveliness and have appreciated them ever since. Even though the fragrance can be profoundly concentrated (just one flower in the house can fill your home) I enjoy them. Last summer a catalog came in the mail with Stargazers on the front cover, and I made my very first mail order for plants of any kind. After receiving the package,  I quickly got them into the ground. I can hardly wait for spring’s warmth to bring forth my garden fantasies.

Garden Memories – Lilies
October 24, 2003
By Elizabeth Munroz

Originally published in
Gardening on the Edge: Journal of Monterey Bay Master Gardeners


Halloween Horror Story


Life, like Halloween, is full of tricks and treats. When we carry that bag around from door to door asking for tricks or treats, we take what is given with a thank you. Then, we walk home with that bag, hoping that everything in there is our favorite. When we get home, we have to go through that treat bag and decide what to do with what's inside. It's all treats! Right? It's whether or not we can appreciate each for it's own merit.


Light from Darkness

When the sky is infused

with deep heaviness

it is like my life

when struggling

with despondency.

It's hard to see

the beauty in it

until that one

sliver of light

peeps through.

'Tis what my mother called

the "silver lining".

A full sunshine day

would not lift me

as much as noticing

that one little

ray of joy
in the midst

of my darkness.


Cross My Heart and Hope to Die

She watched the hummingbird
through the slice of light in the curtains
wishing someone would come
and open them onto the world.

Just the branch showed the little gem
feeding on the red flower
like the blood ruby
on her hand
crossed over her heart
symbolizing their love.
Life was fleeting
and memories her last comfort.

Her loneliness taunted her
as she twisted in her bed
reaching for the light
with hope for freedom,

until the great grandchildren
came to visit,
and hope lay in the future
of new memories to be born.

In memory of Genevieve Borden Deane 
February 9, 1920 - December 12, 2006

Poem and Photos by Elizabeth Munroz


Obituary of a Long Lost Super Star

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

     - Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
     - Why the early bird gets the worm;
     - Life isn't always fair;
     - and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became
businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
     I Know My Rights
     I Want It Now
     Someone Else Is To Blame
     I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.


Author unknown


What an 80 year old woman can do

Liz Valencia
Ballet Folklorico Dancer
I had agreed to go to Costco with my new friend, a retired nun, teacher and seamstress. She's a very talented woman. She had a stroke last year so she tires out easily. That makes us compatible shopping partners!

It wasn't too long that we were in Costco when I began to run out of energy. I find that happens more when I have increased pain. I didn't have too much pain before we started, but things got so much worse. That's been happening more this last year or so! I was so glad she understood that I couldn't continue shopping.

I don't have a membership with Costco. It would really save money. I was so happy with what I found and the money I saved.

On the way home we saw a yard sale and stopped. The woman had an Osterizer.  I had been wanting one. I'd like to get a juicer some day too. But, for right now, I can make smoothies in this one. I got it for $8.

We were only gone four hours, but I was exhausted when we got back. So I went to lie down in bed for a while. It's more restful and refreshing than the couch.

Then I remembered the neighbor across the street, Her name is Liz. She is 80 years old and had her hip replaced in January. She danced Ballet Folklorico, a style of Mexican dancing up until then. Very ambitious and active woman.

Yesterday, I had promised Liz to go walking with her, but at the time I was too exhausted from having my osteoporosis IV injection then, so I didn't go.

Since I had my second wind, I just had to keep my promise today. It was cold out. I asked Liz to turn around and go back when I began to feel more pain and loss of energy. She went back home with me, then went off on her own to finish her lengthy walk. Then, I absolutely had to lay down and have been resting for hours since then. I wish I had her health and energy. Plus, her positive attitude. It's so incredible to think this woman is 80 years old!

Note from the future, 2016:  It was just a few months after this that I was diagnosed with Leukemia. No wonder I had so much pain and was so exhausted.


From Personal Journal

I'm overwhelmed today. I woke up feeling sad. Didn't even have the sleep gone from my eyes and all I wanted to do was cry. Well, crying is not my thing. It's too hard on me due to my asthma. It just stirs it up and makes things worse. So, a long time ago I learned to suppress crying. Or should I say? Sobbing.

When my kitty died two and a half years ago I awoke every day with this same kind of feeling. Just before falling asleep the sadness arose every night, too. My grief was over the top. Eventually, after adopting four kitties, they have kept me so busy that morning/evening sadness left me.

So, here it is, again. Same feelings. Different reason.

Obviously it is finally hitting me. I've been too busy and stressed out, going through all the tests and doctor's appointments. Today I'll be by myself. Nothing to do. No appointments. No having to drive anywhere. No relating to other people. Just me and my cats. Naturally my body knows this and has triggered letting these suppressed feelings out.

So perhaps today I will wallow a little bit.


Shaky Mother Earth

Two more big earthquakes today in Japan, the same area as the one in March. I am so grateful that Katsumi lives here and not back home in Japan! I'm sad, though, about his family and friends. It's not easy to know that those you love have gone through such awful circumstances.
This is the one last place in the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz, California that suffered damage from the Loma Prieta quake and still needs to be rebuilt. 
I've been very fortunate that the earthquakes I've lived through here in California have not been too bad. 
When the Loma Prieta quake occurred I was not living here at the time. I was very concerned about my friends who lived here. I'd had surgery and had just been returned to my hospital room. The room mate was watching TV. Then announcements were made interrupting the program. I was so intent on watching that when the surgeon walked into the room with his entourage, I totally ignored him, wasn't aware of him. When he began speaking to ask how I was doing, or tell me about the surgery (or something like that), I told him to shut up and go away. After he left, the room mate told me what I'd done. I felt no remorse. I was more concerned with what had happened in Santa Cruz. Of course, later I apologized for my rudeness and explained that I'd left my heart in California. Thank heavens the doctor was a nice guy. He totally understood.
The Loma Prieta epicenter is just a few miles from where I right now. 
Mother Earth is very settled here these days 



Watching this documentary brings up a lot of mixed emotions.

On the one hand Colin Beaven ( No Impact Man) appears to go to extremes, trying to eliminate ALL .... from his life. It was painful to watch his wife "going along" with the program when obviously it was difficult for her. Or, maybe I was reading her body language incorrectly. I can understand giving up things, but coffee or tea just because it doesn't come from a 250 mile radius. Olive oil? Diapers for the baby?

I have lived in a time when cloth diapers and rubber pants were all that was available for babies. Not only is it difficult to get diapers sanitarily cleaned without HOT water and bleach, (or direct sunlight), the effect on the baby can be medically disastrous. A baby with raw sores on it's bottom suffers. A baby with a fungal infection is heartbreaking! And if one is trying to live a no impact life, what does one do to treat those conditions?

I cringed as I watched No Impact Man washing clothes in the bathtub by stomping on them like they were grapes in cold water. I guess he hasn't heard of a scrub board. My grandmother boiled her wash water over an open fire. She hung her clothes on a rope in mid air summer and winter. Obviously No Impact Man couldn't do that. How clean could those cloth baby diapers become?

They never did mention what they did to substitute for toilet paper.

Doing without A/C or heating in New York city seems extreme. They still used electricity for cooking and telephone in the first few months. Then lived in the dark with candles. How safe is that with a toddler in the house? There were exceptions to the rules, but who decided it? No Impact Man. He got to keep his computer running by using a small solar panel, which I thought was maybe a bit hypocritical. (I wont go into the carbon footprint of creating a solar panel.)Though in this day and age, why do without one's computer, even if there is paper and pen available? Okay. I will give him the computer. After all, he was writing a blog and a book about all this at the same time he was being filmed.

I do not mean to make this a criticism of the intent of No Impact Man. I think it's admirable when anyone makes a clear and conscious change in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint whatever their methods. But, I still would like to know why, what and how.

Some things I liked in particular, probably because I can see the feasibility for the average person.

1. No water in plastic bottles. This I already do by keeping water in bottles from previous beverage purchases of Tejava. I've done this for a couple years.

2. Using old clothes for cleaning rags instead of paper, etc. Some old clothes in good condition, I advertise on my local Freecycle, ( see: freecycle.com ) or donate to local charities.

3. Make do with what you already have. I always ask myself if I need this item I'm thinking of buying or if I just want it. Can I do without it? Can I substitute something else.

4. Don't buy new products, just used. I can go part way with this idea. Buying from thrift shops is not a problem for me. Though, I would rather not buy used underpants! Thank you!

5. Don't use electricity and gas. I like the idea, but find I am not committed enough to do without them entirely. I have made concessions though. I have permanently turned off the pilot in my gas-lit wall furnace. It's a big waste of energy, a very inefficient way of heating the house. In the wintertime, I am able to wear warm clothes in the house just like I did as a kid when I lived in New York. I have noticed, though, when it gets below 55 degrees inside the house I then feel chilled, and my bones get creaky. I think arthritis should be respected, especially when it is my own. I remedy this in one of two ways by using the electric space heater in whatever room I am in, or by using an electric blanket when sleeping. It is not necessary to run a space heater all night when sleeping! I am not being a No Impact Woman, but I am using considerably less energy than I would be if running the furnace throughout cold weather. I've been doing this for about two years.

6. Don't waste water. That's a big one for some people. I see it all the time as I drive down the street. Sprinklers are watering the grass, the sidewalk and into the gutters down the street. I don't have grass. My whole yard has been turned into a garden. I don't water the plants. I have chosen plants that grow in my area without watering. When I first made the decision to get rid of grass and have the whole yard be a garden (with pathways), I decided that the plants that wouldn't make it without watering would just have to go their own way. For the most part they have adjusted.

When I compare my water bills from a few years back to today. I have lowered my average water usage from 900 units down to 200 units. I think that's pretty good. I know I could lower it more, but not ready to give up bathing.

I like eating seasonally. That is how I was raised. It doesn't seem to be a sacrifice to me. Peaches in January shipped in from Where? Peru? Australia? Who knows where? Though I must admit I live in a part of the country where strawberries and salad makings grow almost year round. I would miss them if living in snow country. I didn't miss them as a child. We ate what was available. Root crops and what ever fruits that had been canned the previous summer.

One thing in particular stood out for me in watching this film is when I heard, "Why do I need to wait for congress or big business to change things? What can I do myself?"


The first picture is of my house when it had a lawn that needed mowing and watering.

The second picture is after the lawn was turned into sustainable garden which needs no watering.

The third picture shows how the trees grew up enough to provide shade for the house and eliminated the need for air conditioning!

To see a short and fascinating movie trailer on No Impact Man


Something to Think About

I live and die; drowning, I burn to death,
Seared by the ice and frozen by the fire;
Life is as hard as iron, as soft as breath;
My joy and trouble dance on the same wire.

In the same sudden breath I laugh and weep,
My torment pleasure where my pleasure grieves;
My treasure's lost which I for all time keep,
At once I wither and put out new leaves.

Thus constant Love is my inconstant guide;
And when I am to pain's refinement brought,
Beyond all hope, he grants me a reprieve.

And when I think joy cannot be denied,
And scaled the peak of happiness I sought,
He casts me down into my former grief.

Louise Labé (french poet)
Sonnet VIII

in french:

Je vis, je meurs; je brûle et je me noie;
j'ai très chaud tout en souffrant du froid;
la vie m'est et trop douce et trop dure;
j'ai de grands chagrins entremêlés de joie.

Je ris et je pleure au même moment,
et dans mon plaisir je souffre maintes graves tortures;
mon bonheur s'en va, et pour toujours il dure;
du même mouvement je sèche et je verdoie.

Ainsi Amour me mène de manière erratique;
et quand je pense être au comble de la souffrance,
soudain je me trouve hors de peine.

puis quand je crois que ma joie est assurée
et que je suis au plus haut du bonheur auquel j'aspire,
il me remet en mon malheur précédent.

Louise Labé (french poet)


Art by Elizabeth Munroz


Blood Test

I thought nothing of it. I didn't even realize he had ordered them. I attend a small clinic associated with Stanford University Medical Center. Since my original doctor retired, I had to hustle to get me a new doctor. It was difficult to find someone to measure up to her. She was an oncologist and with my previous history of cancer she was happy to take me on as a patient even though I had been cancer free for many years. Yet, I had a milieu of other medical problems and it was a nightmare seeing one specialist after another without having someone to manage my health.

After she retired, it took me several months before I turned to the clinic where I now have a wonderful primary doctor, and I can see any of the specialists within the clinic where each one has full access to my medical records at a click of a mouse.

So the day of the blood test, I met my new Rheumatologist, who patiently listened and discussed with me how to proceed with my arthritis, osteoporosis and permanent damage to my pelvis from the bone cancer. Checking my computer records, he noticed it had been a while since I had a blood test. So he ordered one.

Since he recommended that I get a scan done, I went down to that department and made the appointment instead of waiting until I got home to call. I also stopped at the computer help desk to get my new ID and password in order to get online to my account. This wonderful clinic gives the patient access to their records online!

I dropped by the pharmacy, picked up my prescription and started to leave when I passed by the lab. I dropped by to get a copy of my last blood test results. The medical assistant asked me if I was also going to have my blood test today. Oh, yeah... I had forgotten the doctor had ordered one!

Because of my complicated medical history I don't have very good veins. So drawing blood from me usually has to be done from the back on my hand. I have one really good thick popped-up vein on the left. So I was patting it when I met the lab technician. We had a nice chat while she gathered together the equipment for the draw. Perhaps that was why getting the blood out of me was quick and easy.

I left the clinic, went and had lunch, then drove home. That evening the doctor called me on the phone to let me know some of my blood tests results were in, and he wanted me to know it was abnormal. My white blood cells were highly elevated, a sign of infection usually. But because a certain component of the white blood cells, (the myelocytes) which show problems with the bone marrow, I am to see an oncologist next Wednesday.


All Palms Are Not Trees

When my dear friend, Linda, was diagnosed with cancer, she didn't me until close to the end.

I recall a few times when she had symptoms she would ask me about. What would I suggest about a black spot in her vision, she asked. I thought she meant she had a floater.

What were the bumps in her neck? I thought she had swollen glands because of a throat infection. Why was she coughing all the time? Asthma, I suggested.

Apparently it was all part of her cancer. I figured that out later. There were other things, too. If I had only known!

She expressed her distress that I had moved five hundred miles away, and I missed her sorely. It would have been so much better had I stayed. Seeing her in person, I would have known sooner. She wouldn't have been able to hide it from me. It would have been obvious.

As it was, I had traveled down to visit her. We sat around the table after dinner when she asked me to read her palm. I hadn't done that for years, and begged off.

But, her husband jumped in and insisted. In fact, he demanded I read his palm first. I was quite surprised at Bob's insistence and I felt a little uncomfortable. I thought those "talents" had gone to rest.

Just for fun, I had taken up palm reading as a teen when I found a book on the subject that had belonged to my grandmother, "How to Tell Fortunes".

It had other methods besides palm reading in it. But, that was what resonated with me. I did it for fun until the readings started to be more seriously accurate.

"Oh, your palm reveals you have eight marriages!" I laughed, but the man across from me stared with mouth open. "How did you know that? No one knows about that!" But, when I accurately predicted the demise of someone, I refused to do any more fortune telling. Certain signs suggest the worst, and I didn't want to see such things.

By the time Linda and Bob were pressing me to read their palms, I had no qualms to keep me from playing along with them.

I must admit, however, that I stuck to the original protocol of observations I had learned, shapes of fingers and hand, how the mounds are formed and the measurement of lines as indicators for translation.

Bob stuck his hand in front of me. I asked to see both, as that was how I learned. One hand for your destiny and the other to see if you live your fate, or change it. I knew Bob had already been married before so I wasn't surprised to see two marriage lines, but I was curious to see the third marriage indicated.

I remembered that Linda only had one marriage line. So, I casually said, "After Linda dies, you will marry again." And to make a joke, I added, "Sorry about that Linda!"

But no one laughed. In fact Bob got an odd look on his face, and frowned at Linda. "What did you tell her?"

Her face was pale and eyes wide open, "Look at mine, tell me what mine says. Maybe it changed!" By this time I was really uncomfortable and tried to beg off from further prognostications.

Then little Andrea, their daughter, who had been eavesdropping on us all along came to me with hand extended. I took hold and kissed her palm. "It says everybody loves you and you will be rich and pretty when you grow up." But, she wasn't buying it. I hadn't actually perused her palm and she stuck it in my face. Then it was my turn to have wide eyes and be pale. There it was as clear as day.

She would face a very tragic episode in her life within a very short time. Of course, I told her no such thing.

But, once Linda sent her out to play, she and Bob plied me for what I saw. Why I didn't just make something up, I will never know.

When I learned from Grandma's book, it seemed the ethics of a respectable palm reader were ingrained in my mind as much as the meanings of the symbols. Integrity was my excuse. I could only hem and haw, with maybes and perhaps's and I'm not sure, but's.

It was pretty clear to me. But, Bob's next marriage and the tragedy in Andrea's future was to be the loss of my very dear friend.

It's odd how I totally blocked that memory until I read about it in my diary a few years after Linda died.

Linda Duran Watkins 
Nov 1949 - Nov 1982


Hitching a Ride

Two young raccoons came into my yard in the light of day while my significant other and I were gardening.

Because of a neighbor's dog who had recently been bitten, I cold-heartedly scooted them away with my broom sweeping back and forth in front of me as they approached.

I'm sure they lost their direction. A neighbor leaves cat food outside for them. They can go there for snacks.

One ran away immediately, the other needed a little more encouragement.

They scampered off across my driveway, beneath my car and off to the neighbors yard across the way.

Later, we left in separate cars to attend a wake. I led the way and Katsumi followed. In a couple of blocks, unbeknownst to me, my Honey watched in astonishment as one of the raccoons dropped onto the road from beneath my car and scampered off into the strawberry fields.

About a mile later, he heard a thump and looked in his rear view mirror and he realized the second raccoon had dropped from under his car and ran off to the raspberry fields.

Fortunately, I live near the edge of town and Mother Nature was there to welcome them.

I am totally shocked and wondering how they could have held on to whatever part of our cars they were located.

I feel so guilty for shooing them away from my yard1 Maybe we could have just gone into the house.

But, we were so sure we saw them continue off into the neighbors yard after I shooed them with the broom.

I have the strong desire to go searching the fields hoping to see large swaths of missing fruit for reassurance that they are okay.

The neighbor who was leaving food out for local critters has now moved to Oregon.


A Time to Live, a Time to Die

When it comes time to die,

be not like those whose hearts

are filled with the fear of death,

so when their time comes

they weep and pray

for a little more time

to live their lives

over again in a different way.

Sing your death song,

and die like a hero going home.

~ Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725

Note: Photo Art, by Elizabeth Munroz


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers is a "creative" non-fiction memoir.

The author begins his story as a young man about age 20 whose father and mother die of cancer 5 months apart. He's left to raise his 7 year old brother. He suggests that parts of his writing is fiction. Ah, well. I suppose any autobiography writer doesn't remember all the details and has to make up some parts.

Some people in my book reading group didn't like it. The first chapter is pretty graphic in descriptions of his caring for his mother in her last days. They would have preferred it to be a cleaned up version without what they considered the awful reality of his experience.

They also objected to use the F word through his descriptions of how he and his friends related as they enter into adulthood with one another.  In his immaturity, his saving grace is he is very careful to raise his little brother with high standards protecting him from growing up too soon. He takes special care in attending parent teacher meetings at school, for example, even though he worried that he might lose his brother due to people thinking him an inappropriate guardian because of his age.

Yet, of course they still related as brothers rather than a parental figure and child.

He doesn't have any opportunity to grieve or have closure, yet it's all expressed in his behavior throughout the book. Life has to be lived. His responsibilities come first. It's difficult for a young man who hasn't reached maturity.

It appears to me that the author is a bonafide manic-depressive with a little bit of paranoid tendencies. Either that, or he is in permanent panic mode because of his circumstances. Yet he copes and is successful enough to hold it together eventually, and in collaboration of friends, sets up his own business.

I really loved the book because the writer has an interesting prose style that goes against anything we've ever been taught is the standard way to write. I was fascinated by his style.

I also liked the book because a great part of it takes place right where I live, in the San Francisco bay area. I'm not sure readers in other parts of the country would relate to his descriptions of neighborhoods and travels in the region which  viscerally touch me.

Hope I didn't share too much.

Read what happens to Dave Eggers after he reaches maturity

You also might like to read chapter one in the NY Times.

My photos are San Francisco scenes. First is, Lombard Street. Second is the Dutch Windmill. Third is the Golden Gate Bridge.



What ever happened to happily ever after? That was all hype, like Santa Claus, Leprechauns, Fairies, and all that other bunch of lies that were perpetrated upon us as kids. There ought to be a Law!!! Am I being cynical? You betcha! Well, with a little tongue in cheek, too.

Seriously... I think happiness is what we make it. As the Buddhists say, one of the first truths is that we all have suffering, none can escape it. I think once that sinks in, we can work from it, or around it or with it. Got suffering? Make the best of it, if you can. Though, sometimes we might just have to muddle through and hang on before happy feelings return.

My life has often seemed as though it has all been one big dark pit of suffering, and a lot of it I brought on myself by my attitude towards things. But, I didn't know any better. How could I cope if no one I knew had the skills to be an example to me? A good excuse then, but as I  grew into adulthood, opportunities arose that pointed the way.

The person I am today is not who I once was. Somewhere along the way I learned that happiness is not meant to be a permanent condition. What a shock when I found that out! I thought I had missed out on something everyone else had.

Though, truly, it is a good thing we don't have an abundance of joy. We would get bored with it, I think. So, in order to appreciate it, thrill to it, we must be deprived of it, before it fills us to overflowing. (Shades of "My Cup Runneth Over").

It is funny how the littlest things make me happy now, that I never even considered worthy of the title. Plus, just forcing myself to smile makes me feel (a fake) happiness that catches on and becomes real the more I do it. Sounds crazy I know, but I am probably somewhat that, too.

Then, of course, there's Chocolate Happiness! 

Note: photo of my mother, Genevieve Borden Deane was taken by my sister, Suzan Simpson


Ebb and Flow

"The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even.

Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.

One must accept the security of the winged life, of the ebb and flow, of intermittency."

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift From the Sea


Lost Internet Service

What happened to me last month: I saw a commercial on TV where AT&T said you don't need a home phone in order to have internet service. I believed it and had my phone shut off, only to discover my internet had also been discontinued! LIARS! Okay... misleading advertising!

To make a long story short, after much fussing about (for weeks), and having to go online with my laptop at Starbucks. (bless them!) But, still not the same as being comfortable at home with my cat and computer, I considered an offer by Verizon, my cell provider. They have a way to go online with computer same as when someone is using a droid or iPhone. I signed up and it was a disaster. I couldn't get online in a reasonable amount of time. It was like having dial-up, and whenever I went to the site I moderate, it constantly timed out. 

That was a big eye opener for me. Having cell towers provide the service was not going to work. Thank heavens I was able to discontinue my service within the Verizon "changed my mind" period and got all my money back. To be fair I later learned I was really located out of their area.

So, now I have been forced to sign up for internet service from AT&T. I got the hard sell for their U-Verse TV and cell bundled service. After much run around I finally told one of the many service representatives I spoke with over those weeks that I did not have a TV. So they stopped with the hard sell and now I have a one year contract with AT&T for internet service only. Can't wait until I can get back to my regular, local ISP! I truly miss Cruzio!


Shadows at Dusk

What is life?

It is the flash of a firefly in the night.

It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.

It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

Note: Photo by Elizabeth Munroz, taken at Capitola, California


In Memory of

When Death taps us on the shoulder, 
and we cannot run away, 
we encounter a 3D vision of life. 
When we escape the inevitable, 
and return to life, 
it's like a beautiful gift 
wrapped in black ribbon.  

For all the chondrosarcoma patients who passed to the other side, I mourn you and hope you found there the beauty I once saw on a short visit.

For all the chondrosarcoma patients who now have that 3D vision of life, I know you share that new inner knowledge with your loved ones and I hope it enhances everyone you meet.

My biggest wish, my greatest prayer is that soon, SOON, there will be a cure for this very rare type of bone cancer and no more need suffer.


It's Not a Tragedy

This is my granddaughter singing , "Tragedy" 
(a cover for Christina Perri)

Tragedy lyrics
If you could envision
The meaning of a tragedy
You might be surprised to hear it's you and me
When it comes down to it
You never made the most of it
So I cry cry cried but now I say goodbye
And I won't be made a fool of
Don't call this love

When did you decide I didn't have enough to buy
Forgive and forget you a thousand times
For the fire and the sleepless nights

And I won't be made a fool of
Don't call this love

Don't call this love

Lalalalala-love Lalalalalala-love
Lalalalala lalalala- love

Why did you feel the need to prove that everybody else was right
No I won't fight

Ohhhh your my Tragedy... Tragedy
You're my Tragedy ooohh
This is ohhh no no no no no


Reminder of a Gift

Treat the earth well: 

it was not given to you by your parents, 

it was loaned to you by your children. 

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, 

we borrow it from our Children.

~ Native American Indian Proverb



My parents never thought about their inevitable aging. Mom always called others in her same age group, “Little Old Ladies, saying she still felt as though she were much younger.

Dad continued working long after retirement, by choice, and last worked in his eighties. His last contract to install electrical wiring in the attic of an old building refurbished for a small church community which he did voluntarily without pay except for reimbursement for necessities.

Mom’s first stay at a nursing home ended when she called 911 because she was constipated and in pain, and the nursing home “would do nothing to help her”. EMT's arrived and took her to the Emergency Room. She received treatment and was returned.

The following Monday, Dad was asked to take her back home. He took care of her himself from that time forward while denying his own frailness another couple of years. Mom was legally blind, having lost 85% of her sight due to Macular Degeneration, getting hard of hearing, incontinent and could no longer walk without assistance. Several times they fell down together as Dad tried to help her get into bed. Due to the fact that their income slightly exceeded the poverty level, they did not qualify for any of the services that would otherwise assist them. They ended up without house or car.

Once the car was gone and Dad’s independence stripped from him, it was painful to know the situation they were in. Because they lived far from other family members, we arranged for them to move to assisted living a few blocks away from their granddaughter. Since she was a nurse she was able to at least keep an eye on them. Dad’s COPD was getting worse and he needed oxygen, but he felt it was important to save money, so he used it as little as possible. At the same time, not using the air conditioning that would have helped protect him from the Southern California smog.

With my older brother in NY, younger one in AZ, my baby sister in TX, and I in northern CA, was heart rending for all of us to watch this demise. Previously, younger brother lived near them and was Dad’s shoulder to lean on. My sister, also living in Southern California at the time, drove up to four hours in order to be there in person to help them out as often as she could tolerate it after putting in a full day’s work. Then cutting her work hours so she could spend more time with them. It seemed miraculous how she did it in her mid-fifties like that. She sacrificed so much in order to care for them.

I felt helpless, but because of my own chronic medical issues, I could do nothing tangible to help out. So the telephone became our bridge. Daily calls for the reports of the day, mostly complaints of the new disappointments that life was bringing them. But, the joint pleasure that sustained them both were their pet Abyssinian cats. I could always depend on being able to bring a chuckle out of Dad, or a giggle out of Mom and help soothe away the troubles they were challenged with daily, simply by asking, “How are the Beau and Boo doing?” Suddenly cute stories of their observations and interpretations of the cat’s behaviors came pouring out. So, being telephone support person, became my way of being there.

Then came the day when my daughter, the nurse, informed us all that “Grandpa has made some mistakes with Grandma’s medicine. And he really is not well enough to care for her anymore.” So the decision to encourage them to move into the nursing home together arose. Of course, my father would have nothing to do with it, until we were able to get him to understand that it would be best for Mom.

To keep them from having broken hearts, I promised to take in their precious cats. The day they moved into the nursing home, my niece put them in her car and drove 400 miles to bring them to me.


Big Brother is Watching


When you wonder how your personal information is being used, don't think it is some kind of cyber stalker or someone who uses computer phishing techniques. It's the government.

Under the Freedom of THE PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 various agencies are allowed to share information about you whereby "Computer Matching" allows cross referencing of information about yourself.

In order to read the document properly in it's enlarged more readable form, left click your mouse one time.

Remember, even if you do not want to have this done, you have no choice. Think about it.




May today there be peace within. 
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. 
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. 
May you be content with yourself just the way you are.

Let this knowledge settle into your bones.

Allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. 
It is there for each and every one of us.

Note: Photo is of Santa Cruz, California Wharf 




Dr. Mindell, tall, slender, well-composed, did not behave like a normal orthopedic Surgeon.  The one’s I had met before were all too high and mighty to be human, to look you in the eyes as if you were an equal.  They were accustomed to everyone idolizing them and took it for granted they were Gods.  I did notice that when he made rounds, he carried a little bit of that remote untouchable aura, probably for the sake of his entourage, but when he arrived in my room, he did not stand at the farthest corner nor at the foot of my bed like other physicians.  he came right up beside me and leaned against the mattress as he taught his students about the rare condition being treated.  Rare condition or not, in the presence of Dr. Mindell, I still felt like a human being, instead of a “case”.

Even though’ he hacked away  a large part of my body over several years of surgery to save my life, I don’t necessarily think of him as my protector for the reason of his medical expertise. Just one incident clings to my memory making me grateful for his existence.

After many weeks languishing in the hospital bed, I became well enough to be placed in a wheel-chair instead of a gurney to be transported to other departments for tests or treatments. One day, after a long wait in the radiology dept.  a staff-person wheeled me in for a set of x-rays.  And when all the required pictures had been taken, I was wheeled back and parted in the long empty hallway.

 “Aren’t you taking me back to my room?” I asked.

  “No.” I was told, “Someone else will take you up shortly.”

I sat there in the cold corridor until my butt became numb and the pain in my legs screamed for release.  At which point, I unlatched the lock on the wheels and began to impel myself toward the main hallway.  My arms were weak from having been abed for so long.  The chair, at least a hundred years old, was made of wood, with a very high backrest and huge wheels.  It was very unwieldy to operate, but, struggling mightily, my determination drove me further and further away from Radiology.  It surprised me that no paid any attention to me.  Dressed only in a short backless gown with hair splayed about my head, it was obvious I was a patient making her way alone in the busy hallways.  Visitors passed me by giving wide berth.  Hospital personnel bustled by sometimes blindly brushed up against me
as they passed.

I grew resentful.  Not only had I been forgotten, left to rot in the drafty bowels of the Hospital basement, but I was for all purposes, invisible to the very people employed to watch after my health.  What if something should happen to me?  I would be ignored.  Fearful of my invisibility, I strained harder to reach my goal;  the huge main elevator that could take me up the many floors to my room. By the time I arrived, I was weak, cold and perspiring profusely.  The hospital, as ancient as my wheelchair had an old-fashioned elevator.  Every time I had been taken to it by a staffperson, they had hurriedly forced the wheelchair through the open doors racing against time to get me inside, before the doors clenched shut.

There were no safety features as there are today, no magic eye to bounce the elevator door back open should someone or something attempt to pass through while it closed.  So, when the doors opened, people traipsed in as I struggled to wheel my cumbersome chair through.  Needless to say, the doors clamped shut on me just as I pulled my arms out of the way.  I looked at the people inside, who would not meet my eyes. It didn’t occur to me that this was serious, until the floor raised up beneath me and the wheelchair tilted precariously.

Not able to move my lower body in any way to save myself, I sat there helpless, as the chair began to crunch.  The only view I had at this point was the ceiling.  My last thought was, “after being heroically saved from the bone cancer and surviving, I am going to go by way of an elevator! Oh, well!” There was nothing I could do. I just resigned myself to my fate as I awaited my demise.

Just then, Dr. Mindell scooped me up in his big arms and carried me down the hall and placed me on the nearest gurney and personally returned me to my room. I don’t know what happened to the wheelchair or the people in the elevator. At the time I was too tired and sick to even care.  I was just glad that my protector, my body guard was there to save me.


Old Memory Stays Fresh

Today is a day in my history I cannot forget.

It sticks in my mind like clay at the bottom of a potter's wheel. You might laugh that this is such an "important" day when you learn the situation. But, it is just one of those things that when the day comes up, I automatically realize.... "Oh, it was this date that happened."

My hair all blonde, teased and sprayed in Marilyn Monroe style, I walked with my new date, Jeff, recently returned from Viet Nam, when my new pair of high heels caught on a rise of the sidewalk where a tree root had lifted it.

No big deal for the average person, but this fall caused me to do a split in the worse way possible. I had only been out of the hospital a few days after my Internal Hemipelvectomy surgery and the three months it had taken for me to recovery and heal sufficiently that I could actually walk again and go home. All I wanted to do was start my life all over again, and leave those haunting cancer memories behind me.

My mind set the incident in slow-motion re-play. I felt the heel of my shoe catch on the sidewalk, saw my body going down, tried to catch myself as my legs, betraying me, slid out in opposite directions. Then, the split of the incision pulled apart deep within me, and the hot blood seeped into the area where bone cancer used to be. It had not happened in a slow motion dream but in a blink of the eye, and there I was sprawled on the sidewalk.

Jeff had been a Medic in Nam, his flight or fight reaction were instinctual. When I fell, an odd look came across his face, something empty and desperate. His automatic response was to get me up, and hurry me off somewhere. Anywhere, to take me away from .... what? Enemy fire?

While writhing on the sidewalk, I had to convince him we were not on the battlefield, certainly not with my high heels. I told him there was no place to take me, no place safer than where I was. I had remain calm as I instructed him to go into the nearest restaurant and ask them to call for an ambulance. Because of my cancer history and the familiar physical symptoms I was experiencing, I knew I would not be able to get up and walk any time soon on my own.

I never saw Jeff again. He didn't follow the ambulance to the hospital. Perhaps he was as traumatized as I was?

Long story.....short. I spent another two months in the hospital.

So, today I look at this forty year stretch and pause. Many other things have occurred in my life with even more intensity. Today I no longer dream of falling and tearing myself open. Today I can smile about it. Maybe it's the ludicrous-ness of it all; blonde bombshell, soldier boy, romantic walk to restaurant; it was something out of a movie, and then, the twist...

Jeff, if you are reading this, I understand and I hope you got good treatment for your PSTD. Sending you love and healing.