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



2016: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Beautiful

In January 2016 I found loving homes for two of the darling little girl kittens I had fostered, and one, I selfishly kept as my own. His name is Pinky. He has grown into a magnificent hulk of a cat.

Since 2016 was an El Nino year, there were many warnings from local weather forecasters that flooding would occur. Since I live near the levee of the Pajaro River, I learned how to be prepared. My car was packed and ready. My biggest concern was how could I get six cats into my car and drive away in enough time after being given the instructions to leave the area. As it turned out, even though there was a little flooding in the county, nothing terrible serious happened.

In March, Kats took me on a vacation to Sacramento. We rode the train to get there and spent the nights in a paddle wheel boat docked in the Sacramento River. We spent a day in Old Town, and another, enjoying the Railroad History Museum. Since three generations of my Grandpas were railroad men, I've got it in my blood. It was a thrilling vacation.

April brought the public to view my catio in the first annual catio tour for Santa Cruz County. Kats worked on it a bit more to make sure the folding winter protection doors worked well. And we cleaned up the back yard (YAY!) and planted a garden.

In June I was enthusiastic about taking free Spanish classes at my local library. I immersed myself for about a month, but then had a serious medical problem arise which kept me from attending. I'd been having cortisone injections in my spine and sacroiliac joint for years. But, this last year even after having the medically legal limit, I was still in pain and having trouble walking well. So I agreed to have something called Radio Frequency Ablation to the S.I. joint. It was a big mistake and I ended up in excruciating pain that lasted for the rest of the year until I had surgery in December. Three titanium rods were placed in my iliac bone and pushed through into my sacrum in order to hold the two bones together. I am still recovering from that procedure right now.

July 22nd, as I was driving home, I looked across the Monterey Bay and saw a familiar large mushroom cloud of brown smoke. I knew immediately it was the start of a very big forest fire, down my Big Sur about 45 miles south. This fire continued to burn until the end of October before fire crews could finally quell it. Well over 130 square miles of national forest destroyed. It breaks my heart. Not only were trees and other plant life destroyed, but so many wild animals are gone too. Deer, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears, not to mention the smaller critter, raccoons, possums, etc. The fire was started by humans who were camping illegally.

Warning: this part is sad cat news. I cannot remember now what month it occurred. I have a mental block. My precious black cat with the incredible yellow eyes, Ninja-Boo, sneaked out behind me at night when I went out of the catio door to pick some catnip. I thought all the cats were inside of the house and I had not noticed him still in the catio.

As soon as I realized he was out, I tried to catch him, but he seemed to want me to play chase and catch with him. I was up until 3 or 4 in the morning following him through the neighborhood. I finally dragged myself home exhausted. I could only hope that Ninja-Boo would find his way home. Kats was not with me that night otherwise I know he would have kept going.

The next day, Kats and I put up signs, and advertised, then searched the neighborhood for three days when a woman called to tell me she had seen a dead black cat on a nearby street corner. When I got there, it was gone. The local shelter had picked him up. I went there and saw him. He did not appear to have any serious injuries. It must have been quick. I hope. I said my goodbyes and went back to the car in tears. Good thing that Kats was driving. I would not have been able to. I still miss that clever, mischievous fellow. Picture is of Ninja and Timmy "kissing".

I'm proud to say that I was requested by San Francisco musician, Amy Obenski, to do some art for her new album, An Emptiness to Fill. Additionally, several of my drawings were selected for a coloring book she published. I also took up a new art hobby of painting cats on rocks, which I continue to enjoy creating. I have even sold a few to friends.

In September, I survived my fifth year of living with Leukemia thanks to a relatively new chemo drug that keeps it controlled.

In October, my son flew me to Austin, Texas to attend my grand-niece's engagement party. It was wonderful to see her and her friends having such a good time, and to know that she has found her true love. Her mother, a tattoo artist, extraordinaire, was able to cover an old spider web tattoo I had gotten 30 years ago which looked ready to be retired. She covered it with a beautiful rose. Dare I call it a moon rose?

In 2017 I am looking forward to more of the good, bad, ugly and beautiful and.......

I just want to celebrate another day of living!
I just want to celebrate, another day of life.


Deane Family Origins

I've been going through some old photo albums and sorting last night. Oh my! I've never seen that picture of my family. It had me giggling. That's the worst pic I have ever seen of us! But, so true to life! My Dad, the proud dad. My mom looking over us, and us kids all aimed in our own directions. Solidarity was not a commonality for us and this pic says it all. 

This is doubly funny because I just wrote a piece on how united we are as a family! Maybe the table we were seated upon is representative of our joined strengths. It was hand-made cherry wood by Morris Evans, father of Mary Jessie Evans, our grandmother on my father's side.. 

This is what I wrote: 

My family is descended from those who were on that first ship who came to this land for freedom's sake. The next generations shed their blood during the Revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the civil war, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm. Today part of my family is descended from those who arrived here on slave ships and gained their freedom only recently.  

The blood of my family is soaked into the soil. First, with those early arrivals on the Mayflower, the other Pilgrims to follow, the Revolutionaries, then those who arrived unwillingly and whose blood was shed in cruelty. As the generations have mingled, the blood of the first people who lived here for millennia, and the blood of legal and illegal "aliens" is part of the DNA of my descendants. And right now, the blood of one of my grandchildren is on the line in readiness to protect freedom and liberty in the army. We have all fought for our right to exist in the USA. 

To me, the word United has a very deep, all encompassing meaning. When we are all partying and watching fireworks during independence day, I hope we can all remember what those "bombs bursting" in air were all about.


Barbara and Denise Fairchild

When I was a little girl, living on Cayuga Island in Niagara Falls, New York during the late 1940s and early 1950s I had a best friend. Her name was Denise Fairchild. I think she was maybe a year younger than me. Basically, we played with dollies. Denise had a little sister who was younger, named Barbara. I don't remember playing with her though she may have been nearby. It seemed at the time, she was too young to participate. When my family moved off the island about 1951, I missed my friend and didn't understand why I couldn't visit her. I never knew the youngest baby sister. I believe this picture was taken after we moved. Though my parents kept in touch with the Fairchild's for a while, I never saw the Denise and Barbara again. I always thought they were very pretty, and wished I had curls in my hair, too.  I found this photo among my mother's belongings after she passed away in 2006. Imagine keeping it all these years, with no further contact.


Chronic Pain - Friend or Foe?

Grandpa was an amputee. He lost his leg while working on the railroad as a young man. When "coupling" two railroad cars together, he fell and his leg was crushed between the couplers. He was hauled into the railroad station. A doctor sawed off his leg right there and then (according to what my dad said) after giving him copious amounts of alcohol.

I never knew my grandpa until I was a young adult. I went to live with him and other family members 3,000 miles from home as a young air force wife. I was pregnant at the time, and afraid of the pain of childbirth. I knew grandpa still had pain from his amputation, even in his 80s. I asked him how he could tolerate it so I might have an idea of how to prepare myself for labor. He told me he "made friends with" his pain. He said, he learned to accept his pain better when he decided to stop hating it. I thought that to be very odd. I knew amputees had something called phantom pain that could be quite intense. I admired him for his strength and fortitude.

A couple years after grandpa died I was facing major surgery for bone cancer. (Chondrosarcoma) The doctor told me he would have to amputate half my pelvis, plus my leg. This is called a hemipelvectomy. Quickly, I decided I wasn't going to let this amputation destroy me. I told myself, "If grandpa could do it, so can I!!!" Otherwise I would have been devastated.

As it turned out, I only had a portion of my pelvis amputated (internal hemipelvectomy). I didn't lose my leg after all. Nevertheless, I still have pain now almost fifty years since diagnosis. Like grandpa, I've made friends with my pain. I pay attention to the need to rest. I respect the messages I have gotten over the years that there are certain things my body cannot do, no matter how hard I push. I accept those limitations regardless of what others think. After all, I appear to have a normal body to them. I pay attention to the degree of pain I experience and when I need to medicate myself to help it be relieved, I take something for the pain. Though I prefer to not take opiates.

The pain never goes away entirely. It's always there to some degree. My friend. My shadow. My pain. Lately the pain has been intensified these last few months. It wakes me up in the middle of the night. It suddenly cripples me in the midst of walking. I can barely tolerate it. I calm myself, take a breath, unclench my teeth and I remind myself that hating it will do me no good.

Right now, I have to hang on two more weeks. I have an appointment for an epidural infusion into my spine so that my pain will (hopefully) go away. I have had this procedure many times before over the years. I have always had relief. It helps me stay off the opiates. But now, the epidurals are almost an annual occurrence. You can only have so many epidurals within a certain period of time. Waiting out the time for the treatment has been very distracting. But soon, my friend and I will part ways. I wont miss her at all. Thank you grandpa for teaching me to deal with pain in your unique way.


America, the Ugly - Independence Day Rant

Someone I know posted something on Facebook that I found offensive. I was so angry, I posted a very careless sarcastic comment. The statement she posted was:

"We have illegal immigrants who are staying here on a military facility while homeless veterans are outside the gate with no shelter and no food."

My sarcastic comment was: "Yeah just kill those kids and be done with it!"

I steamed and fretted about it for an hour or so. Then, also thought better of my comment, for the sake of the relationship between me and the person who posted, as well as the fact that someone might actually take me literally and agree! Heaven forbid.

So, I went back to the posting. No one else had responded yet. And I then posted the following.

"I'm sorry. That was rude of me. I just get so sick and tired of the hypocrisy of statements like that. Yes, we need to care for our homeless, veterans or otherwise. I go to my local homeless shelter regularly to donate clothing. I hand out money on the street corner. Not much, but a dollar is a dollar.

These children seeking refuge from us are starving, sick and courageous for traveling all that way to seek asylum in our country that has a statue of liberty with a statement on it. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Either we are proud Americans willing to stand up for the human rights that we supposedly believe everyone should have or we are hypocrites and believe it is only for US citizens.

Note: I got a little personal here and have changed the name of the person I was addressing.)
How quickly we forget our own history. Griselda, what's the history of your mother's people? How did they get here to the land of the free? Do you know?

I know my own family history going back for generations. We came here for the same reasons those kids are coming here. Did you hear about the one they found dead yesterday?

Do you have friends who were refugees from another country? I do. In fact, the father of my grandchildren came as a child refugee from San Salvador. I have friends who came from Russia as children. They are now grown up and committed American Citizens. I have a young friend who escaped from rape and torture as a child. She now takes care of a little old lady and bicycles 20 miles round trip daily to attend college classes to make a difference in our lives. A dear friend who came to our country served in the military and sacrificed his life during the Viet Nam era. My own son's grandparents came into the U.S. and never applied for citizenship. Does this make all those people unacceptable members of society. I would be very surprised to know others would think that.

I cannot believe how cruel, insensitive and un-christian people are towards these "Illegals". I'm ashamed of our countrymen."

Note: This is the end of my rant. Sometimes I am so ashamed to call myself an American. 


At Last Performed by Rain Ward (cover)

Please enjoy lovely niece, singing "At Last".

16 year old Rain Ward of Austin, Texas performed At Last in a contest and won second prize.

"At Last" is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film "Orchestra Wives". It was performed in the film and on a record by Glenn Miller according to Wikipedia. It looks like there is some discrepancy about what other movies it was in and who performed them when I look at Youtube. Miller seems to have made several recordings.

Personally, I find the most moving rendition by the incomparable Etta James in 1961 Recently, it was recorded also by Celine Dion and Beyonce, both of whom, in my opinion, I think do not do the song justice the way my niece does.

Revealing Genetics

Not only has 23andMe, DNA research organization, shed some light on my personal medical issues, it has provided me with fascinating ancestral heritage. At one time in my life I spent eight years doing genealogy research. That was before the internet made it so easy.

I thought I had a very thorough understanding of my background. I had researched and diligently proven all I thought I needed to know all the way back to my ancestor, Charlemagne. 

True, my genetic makeup is mostly northern European as 23andMe revealed. But, Oh! What a surprise it was to learn that I do have that smidgen of Native American that everyone thinks they have but don't. 

And oddly enough, I found out I've got an Ashkenazi ancestor or two. 

I'm going to have to expand my genealogical research. 

I doubt, however, that I will ever find my Neanderthal ancestors, though. Seriously, I've got Neanderthal! 

 I love this stuff. Who am I? Who are you? Are we kin? You betcha!

Cancelling Bears Brown Bag Deliveries

I just cancelled my Santa Cruz Gray Bears brown bag deliveries. Every week I have been receiving it free. The idea is very nice. But, for the little I am able to eat, it is not worth it. I usually have to find someone to take the food off my hands. Not an easy task when I have a limited number of (also elder) friends and am not well quite a bit.

A friend has chickens, and when no one wants the food, I call her and she comes to get it. Chickens don't eat broccoli, so that goes to waste. Continuing to receive the bag of food weekly, it really isn't fair to those who run the program and the volunteers, even though they don't know of my dissatisfaction. Their ideals and commitment to their good deeds deserve to be effective. But, the amount of time I spend calling around to friends to find someone who wants some item of food, is not worth my time and energy, which could be put to better use. And, I can barely eat what I am given. Usually it is the following:

3 potatoes
3 onions
2 bags of salad greens
Brussels sprouts
3 carrots
3 apples
1 can of green beans
occasionally white rice or dried beans in a small plastic baggie
Bread of some sort

Am I being ungrateful? My mother, (RIP) would be quite upset that I don't appreciate what I am given. She would want me to "Eat it all gone! People in India are starving to death!". It has nothing to do with a lack of gratitude. I remember that back in the 1970s it made the news that elders were eating canned cat food because they couldn't afford to buy human tuna. And their lack of balanced nutritional intake contributed to their demise. I'm sure that before this became news it was an ongoing issue for elders and those who were poor but not poor enough to qualify for food stamps, which didn't exist as a regular government program until 1964.

I cannot often eat potatoes. I put them in the vegetable drawer where they get wrinkled and start to grow. Onions are totally out of the question. I would be so sick if I ate them. The doctor warned me not to eat Brussels sprouts due to my propensity to produce bladder stones. Same goes for spinach which is often in one of the salad bags. Green beans, believe it or not contribute to upset stomach along with the dried beans. I've come to the conclusion that I can buy apples without bruises and carrots (which I love) without having to find someone to take the other items. When the chicken lady is not available, most all of it becomes garbage. Sadly, I no longer try to keep a compost bin.

So basically, I can use the rice and bread, though the bread is often out of date and in need of a saw to cut through it. Only kidding about that. A good serrated knife will do the job.

Why don't I just use my food stamps to buy the food I am able to eat? Fifteen dollars a month of food stamp allotment is not sufficient to provide me with adequate nutrition to get through more than a week. And believe it or not, though my income is officially "below the poverty level" I do not qualify for more than the fifteen dollars.


You Can Save a Life

I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia September of 2011. I do not qualify for a bone marrow transplant. Presently I am taking a chemo type drug called Sprycel. I need take it for the rest of my life or until there is a cure.

Even though I do not qualify for bone marrow transplant, I would like for you to consider signing up to do so. Contrary to any exaggerated stories you might have heard, it is not a nightmare to go through. Watch the video and read below it, too.

When I was a young woman, I had another cancer. It was called chondrosarcoma. I had a large bone tumor in my pelvis. If it had not been for the generous blood donors who were available at the time, I would not be here today.

Being a Bone Marrow Donor is a lot easier than you think. In most cases all they need is your blood. If you are afraid of needles, ask someone you know if they will be a donor.

Sometimes they need to get marrow directly. This does not involve cutting into your bone. It involves sticking a needle into the bone at the top of your hip and sucking out some marrow. That's it.

I had that done during my bone marrow biopsy. I did it without anesthesia. I was completely numbed in my upper hip. I had no pain to speak of. Less than I have had with an IV. I have had more pain from a dental appointment! Though it may not be the same for everyone, I just want you to know this is not a huge sacrifice in order to save someone's life.

If you saw a person dying and you knew you could help them stay alive, would you do what you could to help?

I hope you will think about this. If it were you needing a bone marrow transplant to save your life, or the life of someone you love, your child maybe, wouldn't you want others to be aware of how they can help?

Check it out:


Do You Know Your Neighbors?

You never know what is behind the doors of your neighbor's house unless you have visited them and been inside. Or if you peeked into windows. But, that's creepy!

In my neighborhood, some of the neighbors stay to themselves, and I often wonder who they are and what they are like. You can tell a lot about people by the "stuff" they have. For example: If you came inside my house after the first time I invited you in, you would see that I have a lot of cat stuff. Therefore, one could assume I like cats and they'd be correct.

Recently two of these neighbors have had yard sales for the last couple weeks in preparation for moving. Every weekend new items were set out. I went over to one neighbor's yard sale. They had tables set out in their driveway. Everything was set on the tables in an orderly manner with price tags on them. I could tell they put a lot of effort into setting up. Upon chatting with them, I realized by their behavior, straightening things as soon as something was sold that they were orderly people. Perhaps a little overly concerned about neatness. But, I wouldn't complain. It was easy for me to see the things they had for sale. Books were all near other books. All kitchenware all placed together. I learned very quickly that the woman was a librarian and her husband was a bookkeeper. It sort of makes sense. Doesn't it?

I hadn't ever met the  wife of the other couple. She stayed to herself. Whenever she drove into her driveway, she limped quickly into her doorway looking neither right nor left. It was always clear to me she was a very private person. Her husband, Frank, on the other hand was friendly and outgoing. I had often seen him out and chatting with other neighbors and met him a couple times informally.

I had heard that Peggy and Frank only had a month in which to move from their house. I went over to see what they had for sale in their driveway. I quickly realized that Peggy was a genuine "hoarder" as I looked into the open door of the garage where Frank was pulling items out. Boxes and boxes of unrelated items were crammed to the ceiling. Women's items. Shoes, clothing, hats, etc.

Things were piled onto a tarp in the middle of the driveway. Frank brought out one box at a time and emptied them out onto the tarp while Georgia sorted through deciding what to sell and what not to sell. For the most part, as she kneeled on the tarp, she put items back into the box. Frank came out with another box to empty. Peggy hand back to him the previous box. "Take this back." she said.

"Honey, you know we have to get rid of this stuff!" Frank said.

"I know, but some of this is good stuff, collectibles and such. They are worth something!" She said. I saw him roll his eyes and shrug his shoulders as he took the box from her. "If they are worth something, put a price on them and let's sell them and get this done and over with!"

She was silent as she began pawing through the purses he had just dumped on the tarp. Peggy then looked up at me with tears in her eyes. "These are real good purses. Good high fashion designer brands." She held one up, "This is a Ralph Lauren. That one is a Gucci."

"I can see that." I said as I picked one up. "Louis Vuitton?"

 She nodded and wiped a tear off her cheek as Frank came over with another box. "Don't dump those here." Peggy said. They go over on the dresser there. Those are knick knacks." She started putting purses back into the purse box. Something caught my eye, a purse with cats on it.

"Oh! How much do you want for this?" I asked as I picked it up.

"That's a Laurel Burch. That cost about fifty dollars when new."

"Five dollars!" said Frank, as he came back to us with another box to dump on the tarp.

"No!" Peggy said.

"Ten?" Frank said with a smile his face. I could see that by interacting with us, he was encouraging his wife to actually let go and sell the items she so desperately wanted to keep. She looked at him, frowning, and turned to me,"Twenty."

I really wanted the purse with the cats on it! I was just about to give in when Frank looked lovingly at his wife and said. "Peggy, honey, we can't overprice these things. We've GOT to sell stuff quickly or we are not going to make the deadline to get out of here. You don't want to pay rent on two houses at once. Do you?" He looked at me. "The new place we're moving to is much smaller and doesn't have a garage. There's no place to put all this stuff."

I said, "I understand." I smiled at Peggy, still holding the purse in my hand. "How about fifteen dollars?" She slowly nodded and put her hand out. I gave her the money. She looked crestfallen. I was so sad that this sweet couple were in such a dilemma.

The following week, they had another yard sale, and another. But it was clear to me that Frank and Peggy were not making much headway. After they moved, and were gone a couple weeks, I ran into Frank at the grocery store. He told me they had put the extra stuff into a storage facility. I felt sad for them. After all, it costs money to do that and I doubted they would ever empty the storage.

After seeing how emotionally difficult it was for Peggy to sell her stuff and learning of their decision to put things in storage, I had a realization. It made me face the fact of just how much junk I have sitting around that I don't really NEED!

A local cat rescue group, Project Purr, is going to hold a giant Rummage sale next month. I'm cleaning out my closets, drawers and garage, putting things in boxes. I am donating it all directly to Project Purr. I have already taken three carloads of boxes over to them this last two weeks. And now the car is right half packed with another load.

Thank you Frank and Peggy for opening my eyes to my own tendency to hoard.