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



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