True Wisdom

is found in silence.

Very busy week, working twice as many nursing hours as usual, making props for a movie and being an extra in it, plus running, biking and keeping my dog, house, etc. maintained, working on a big writing project and my necessary eating and sleeping, means this is all you get as a blog today.

So go sit quietly for five minutes and empty your mind.

Ground yourself in the beauty of silence.

Its how I start every day!

Encounter at Far Point; Boldly going where no vegan has gone before….or why there is no new recipe

Ok, the Star Trek reference is mostly because my distraction reading right now is a rereading of  Wil Wheaton and my book club just finished Red Shirts and unfortunately the vegan recipe I was working n this week is apparently just here for me to emote over and not a major player and I would need Q to intervene to make either recipe work. That is why I chose my blog title,

The current goal is to create some edible vegan uses, actually going for delicious, recipes using my vegan whole grain sourdough starter. No new recipes today because both my crepe recipe and rye bread recipe are currently dead, immediately after beaming on to this planet. The crepe’s are tasty but totally wrong texture and next to impossible to flip. The bread smells like whisky. Soooooo, no new vegan recipes this week.

But the process will continue, I will keep trying. After all, the process and the journey is where the fun is in all things.

Thought for me (and you, if you want) to ponder: Is part of what makes so many people sad, mad and basically dissatisfied these days  the fact they have forgotten how to really work for something difficult? Are we really a lazy and immature culture whose needs are too easily met and so do not know the joy of “taking the trouble” to do something without a guaranteed outcome? How do I fit into that observation and what things have I let go that would serve the greater good because they took work?

Well, speaking of work, I have tons to do before I leave to be a nurse this afternoon so this is it for today.


Where everyone knows your name.

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from your worries, sure would help alot

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came

You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same, you wanna go..”

I may have a bit of Cliff Claven in me as I am known to spew out random factoids,  and I have a bit of Norms love of quips and his singlemindedness, but lucky for me, my happy place is not a bar and my solace is not a beer.  It was a sunny, muggy Sunday that needed a breath of cool fresh air, and I had some presents for July birthdays and an anniversary waiting at the special order counter,  so of course I made my way with my roommate to my own version of Cheers yesterday, a local bookstore.

Now my metaphorical barstool is parked at “Changing Hands” in Tempe, AZ ( where I am afraid I spend as much money though less time than Cliff or Norm did. Changing Hands has everything a Sunday afternoon could want old books, new books, red books, blue books; the gift section has quippy bumper stickers and smell-tastic scents of candles, incense and wholesome body products, eclectic magazines of every ilk and racks of cards and all this bounty shares space with Wildflower Breads bistro where I and my newest conquest can get to know each other one chapter at a time over tea and crumpets or soup and salad, and the people there know my name. My “Cheers” is Changing Hands, so I sing it highest praises, but any small bookstore worth its salt can become everything promised in that famous 80’s theme song. Bonus points if they also buy back used book buddies and give credit to meet new print potentials like Changing Hands.

Now there is a science to buying back books that I am not privy to, its mysteries are as complicated as dating. So let it be said here and now, that I cannot predict which and what will leave a bag or box to garner credit and which will return again home to try their luck somewhere else or perhaps be left when one is taken at some coffee shop somewhere. Still some books once read just won’t be read again, and deserve to try their luck with other readers, not hoarded and neglected on the shelf just to prove someones literary prowess, and well used books and used book prices mean I can try authors I am just wondering or pick up missed backstock titles on my personal favorites.

Usually I leave Changing Hands with one or more books I had not even heard about before, maybe one I had heard about but was undecided on its purchase until one of the knowledgeable and friendly associates waxed poetic on its charms and I was compelled to make it mine, and one or two books they have ordered for me. Yesterday I (as always) had a budget and presents to purchase, and one book whose author I had heard on NPR but I could not remember the title or the guys name. That’s what else the associates at Changing Hands excel at, getting me exactly what I want, when all I remember is that it’s this big (insert appropriate hand motions), blue and recently reviewed on _______(fill in with radio or TV show). O.K.,  yesterday I actually said to the gentleman helping me (who is Changing Hands version of Woody), “Just came out in paperback,  Zone something I think, zombies?” and he took me right to the shelf.

“Unfortunately too soon for a used copy,” he said with a smile, “and you really should go to NPR and check out his interview.” I like that, they do know me there, know I am a book glutton so every book I buy used is a few more dollars to get my fries-with-that backstock paperback of a classic or a new favorite author, and they know that I love to listen to authors talk.

I have sat at Changing hands and listened to numerous authors I already loved and knew like Christopher Moore and James Owen, and met new authors I now follow rabidly like Kevin Hearne.  If you live in the East Valley or you will be visiting our area, their calendar is always chock full of delicious little goodies for all flavors and ages of readers.

All this being said, it is truly the talent at my bookstore, yes I do think of it as mine, I buy from them first if possible in all instances for print and e-books, that make my visits feel as warm and complete as an Emmy winning Cheers episode.  I started to list their names and the books   and authors with whom I now had real relationships with because of Changing Hand friends; you know the kind that’s not just a one book deal, but you keep coming back each time they publish, wanting more than they can give, the kind that keep you up late night with characters that populate your sleeping dreams and monopolize your waking hours, and five hundred words later and not nearly finished I realized I was forgetting two very important names,  because I am not the best at names, better at faces, so I deleted the specifics, but many of the books and authors have appeared or will appear in the coming weeks on this blog. But you know who you are, and I do indeed thank you. You make lives better one book at a time!

Now its time for the closing credits and another commercial or two  and not because its related, commercials do not have to be related, but because it is the most awesome blog,  especially today 7/22/2012 and because two of the books I bought yesterday were his books. “Rough Guide to the Universe” is a5th anniversary present to my son and DIL who always shoot for the stars and manage to help others along the way see the stars within themselves (and who happen to own a really nice telescope) and I also left with yet another copy of “Old Man’s War,” I always give mine away it seems, because I,  like the staff at Changing Hands, share the joy found in a perfect first sentence followed by an even better story line and always want to share it.

If you don’t live local, they ship and sell e-books, but better yet find the local place you can make yours at


For those times when stubborn doggedness and cheerful resistance is just not enough


“This boat that we built is just fine

And don’t try to tell us it’s not

The sides and the back are divine

It’s just the bottom we forgot.” from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein

In the “Art of Happiness in a Troubled World” the Dalai Llama states that the way to happiness when confronted with the big problems in the world like war and hate and crime and starvation is to first take a realistic look. Interestingly enough, the first step in most trauma and addiction recovery programs is honesty. In medicine, the first thing we assess are the problems/symptoms to get a diagnosis. In fact when we take our cars in to be worked on, our pets to the vet, our computer to the geek, or bring the plumber to the house the first question is “what’s wrong?”

I can write whole essays about what’s wrong with the world. When it is my car, my dog, my computer, or any item (or friend) that I care about or am responsible for, it is no problem to identify and admit what is wrong. Why then is it so hard to say something isn’t working or is wrong in my own life? I can only fix what I admit is wrong.

I am talking about this, because I just started a prescription medication for depression that also happens to have the off label benefit of addressing neuropathic pain.  I am in need of both benefits. A combination of chronic pain which leads to sleep deprivation, and multiple personal losses have left me physiologically incapable of feeling good, and the medications that worked with the magic of faith and hope to keep me alive have left me with chronic neuropathic pain in my lower extremities; but it is hard for me to admit to either depression or pain.

However, I have learned that there is a time and a place for everything including medicine. I rode my bike this morning, and very well might again tomorrow partly because I finally surrendered control and started a serotonin and nor-epinephrine re-uptake inhibitor. Downsides to everything (the Asian yin yang) means I am coping with some nausea and occasional dizziness which should subside, upsides is my pain is below 3 all the time and I actually have energy this morning. When I rode the bike this morning, I was nervous but not fighting the crippling panic that accompanies my status as a multiple trauma survivor or the neuropathic pain of being a breast cancer survivor; I was just struggling with the reality of weak muscles and balancing the bike.  I am amazed at the difference.

Sometimes we don’t know how bad the problem is until we address it. By the way, I don’t see medicine as the best answer or the only answer. Last year I was able to afford regular visits to Backfit Chiropractic Care (which also interestingly did generate nausea the first couple weeks) for massage and adjustments and it was the best. My pain was zero if I saw them twice a week, and my emotions balanced out, and I completed my the triathlon training for my first sprint.

I don’t have the financial resources this year for Backfit. What I do have is VA benefits, so instead of mourning what isn’t, I am using what is; which is doctors, pills and counseling.

But first, before I could use what I had available, I had to admit something was wrong.  I had to admit that I was not functional for my goals, and ask for help.  How I have been living since my sisters suicide has really not been functional.  In my survivors soul, she was one more person I couldn’t save. Which triggers my own trauma. No life story needed, but let’s just say that my first clear memory of my own mother was her threatening to “just kill herself” and me trying to comfort her and helping her by rocking said baby sister. ( My mother never did commit suicide, however much she threw that around like some moms throw around threats of groundings, she died of cancer at age 38.)

When I am depressed, I keep up appearances, but my life becomes smaller and smaller. I firmly believe that what we give power to gets bigger, so when life overwhelms me, I focus on hope and beauty and all that rainbow and unicorn stuff (not the Wil Wheaton versions), and I try to move beyond myself and focus on compassion. Usually this works.

Sometimes it doesn’t. Fear gets bigger and bigger. I get lazy or tired depending on how I am looking at it that day. I spend more time just “chatting” on social sites than doing any real writing, my house gets dirty, I don’t exercise, I eat my emotions, I start canceling social events, I stop doing the things I do that feed my mind, soul and spirit and spend more time watching TV. Oh, and I cry randomly.

First I had to be willing to assess myself and admit something was wrong. That was hard for me. I prefer anything to a prescription or the admission that I am depressed or in pain. As a nurse I may understand the physiology of both, but my All-American Bootstrap mentality sees all health problems that faith can’t fix as weakness. So even though my life was taking on water faster than I could bail, I just kept bailing and rowing, bailing and rowing, bailing and rowing.

I got to acceptance this time, by a serendipitous route that reminds me, in my world at least, there is something bigger and better looking out for me and pushing me in the right direction.  The final kicker, to get me accept the help I need, was a random statement about grief from a man I am interviewing, who had no idea what was going on in my life but has found a spiritual source within himself and was giving me examples of guidance he had received as part of the interview.

I am a survivor. Of trauma. Of cancer(mine and others I love.) Of  suicides.   Surviving is not enough, thriving is more my style.

I don’t see medication as the easy answer, pills ease the symptoms while I address the actual problems by exercising, therapy, journaling, and meditation. I have never seen anyone recover from depression who wasn’t willing to do the work and address their anger, sadness, etc but only wanted a quick pharmacological fix.  Dealing with depression has some parallels to managing Type II diabetes, insulin (medication) is often necessary but behavior changes (diet, exercise, education, and emotional support) are what bring the lasting benefits, and some move to a place where diet is enough, some balance behaviors and medication for the  rest of their lives; same with depression.

I will purge some of the pain, replace a few coping mechanisms, examine some beliefs and rebuild my physiological resources as well as my emotional and spiritual reserves. I have been here before I am afraid. My life has been full of traumatic opportunities, some related to poor choices, some through no fault but my stars. The place looks a little different this time, like returning to your hometown twenty years later, a lot of the details have changed but the major landmarks are still there for navigation. Last time I was here, my main travel guides were a massage therapist, a support group and a strong spiritual community; this time its medication and a counselor but I will travel through this challenge the way I do everything else, one step at a time.

I will keep bailing and rowing hard, but I will also fix the boat. A successful life journey  requires goals and destinations, but also a clear knowledge of where you really are and the condition of your vessel. Without an honest location on life’s map, no directions given will help; and also if your boat is sinking, you need more than maps and a compass, you need professional repair.


My problems are small compared to the biggies like war and racism, but the Dalai Lamas advice works on all levels of dis-ease. I took a realistic look at how fast my boat was sinking, and I am getting professional help with the structure, while attending to my compass readings.  I am posting this most personal blog because if even one person, whose boat is also sinking from whatever the cause, reads this and realizes its OK to admit when something is wrong with them, and then asks for and accepts the help, I will have made fertilizer from manure which of course means beautiful flowers.

And really that is what all the shit in my life is about in the end, next years flowers.



Free is good, but free this good is awesome!

Not much of a post really, just a quick note because a friends book is available free from Kindle today and tomorrow. Go download it, read it, and then tell me what you think, better yet tell her and Amazon what you think!  I am a real fan of intelligent relationship fiction and this book is especially impressive as a freshman offering for this author. So go get some free awesome.

and now Nurse cap back on and we return to my usual week-end silence.

A train, a train, would you, could you rise early to train?

I haven’t been sleeping well, a combination of nightmares and physical pain, both of which do improve when I am more physically active. However, both of which make it take a much greater force of will to actually get up early and be active.  I will be honest, I have been slacking, with only a couple walks a week of any length greater than a mile, swimming once or twice a week and my bike sits untouched all month in the garage.

I wanted to roll over this morning and dwell on what I cannot change; those guests I inevitably invite to every pity party. I assume you know what I mean, it seems most everyone I know have a few regretful fact friends we keep around to justify doing those things we know are not good for us. Mine are the usual suspects. Their first names are “It’s not fair”, “If I only had the money,” “Nobody else,” and “Everybody else.” Their last names change.

This morning when they all showed up at my bedside pointing out when if I could afford massages and chiropractic care again then I could train, how if I just had a different set of medical realities then being active would make sense,  that nobody else understands how hard it is for me, and everybody else has it easier than me, I listened for a minute.

Then I reminded them that with or without the pain relief of massage and chiropractic care (Backfit does work better than anything else I have ever tried) that moving itself was therapy and something I could choose to do and was choosing to do; that whatever the medical reality, appropriate activity is sensible and necessary to get better (I also remembered when just walking to the bathroom holding my healing abdomen was my activity with PT and RT push, push, pushing the walking).

As to nobody understanding, “Get over yourself,” I said, “True no one has been in this exact pair of sneakers but you are hardly the first or last to hurt when they wake up, want perspective go read again, or how about that son you train with who still has a non-union of his broken lower leg.”

Only one unwelcome guest remained in the room, “Everybody else thinks you’re not cut out for this, they’re tired of you pretending to be an athlete, tired of hearing you talk about it and you are  slowing the whole training group down.” Just for a moment, he had me, see my ego is more susceptible to negative suggestion than inflation, but then the absurdity set in and I started to laugh.

“”Everybody’ doesn’t care one way or the other about whether I do another triathlon or not, it wasn’t their goal, its mine. You Mr. Everybody’s Opinion are just the silliest fragment of ego and I guarantee you that I am small and weak and have no such power as to mess up anyone else’s anything or warrant that much attention, so be gone.”

And the last hovering excuse was banished, so I got up, did my meditation, am dressed for swimming and am leaving now for the house of two of the somebodies that do care and inspire me to keep working, my son and DIL.

And I promise, my bike will be turning its wheels by this time next week.

Post script on today’s training.

I went from 500 meters accomplished in 25 meter lengths with brief breaks to 500 meters accomplished in 50 meter laps with brief rests. Woot!



Spot the differences..

So I didn’t actually write a new post today, I went back and edited an old one instead. Writing this blog is to my professional writing, what laps and running with the dogs is to racing. Just like I watch videos of myself swimming to correct form, and keep track of times and distances run; I improve my writing by reviewing older posts and playing “spot the broken sentence.”

I no longer have a professional editor to hide my sloppy grammar edges, but even if I did or do again, it is important to me to sharpen my sentence skills.  Sentences are my tools. I love a well crafted sentence perhaps even more than well cooked food.  I want to bake organic morsels of perfectly blended word selection, syntax and punctuation.

That being said, it is now time for me to sleep, so if you wish to be entertained, feel free to peruse old blogs and see if you can spot the differences in the ones I have repaired.

Or for even more fun, find my errors and tell me about them in a comment…in writing as in racing, I really can use all the help I can get.

Making the mundane magical one orphan story at a time

As a reader, I appreciate short stories, brief self-contained literary nuggets make reading an entire book more time friendly. Each little orphan story lends itself to a natural stopping point, facilitating my actually closing the book so I can sleep, eat, make the plane, clean the house, or whatever I might have waiting.  When put together, these individual children create a family of ideas that embrace and entertain with the best full course novel: but like haute cuisine hors d’oeuvres, the brevity also means they are either very good or very bad.  Today I offer to your mental palette,  two amazing collections and one actual novel by the gentleman who taught me what short stories should be. None of these are new writers nor are they new books, so I shall present them in the order they appeared on my shelves.

The gentleman, and he truly was a gentle man, that set the bar for which every short story writer ever after would aim, was Ray Bradbury. His short stories in collections like “The Illustrated Man” and “Martian Chronicles”, would come into my life the following fall via a yet unmet school library, but it was the first day of summer in 1960 something. My sister and I had walked ourselves, in our brand new summer tennis shoes, library cards stuffed in cut off school pants, the familiar six city blocks to restock our entertainment.  My sister made her way to the shelf with her favorite book, “Adventure in Forgotten Valley” by Glyn Frewer, and I followed touching the spines of  dozens of well read friends, watching for something new. (I had  already read this part of the library from A-Z, and held my next two books in reading the non-fiction portion in order in my hand. I was up to the 590’s and flora and fauna.) When there it was, a new book faced out and waiting, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum: Twelve Shuddery Stories for Daring Young Readers.”

I remember it now as destiny, that the first story I opened to, while waiting for my sister to pick her other three books, was “October Country” by Ray Bradbury. I asked the librarian what “whole books” she had by this man Bradbury, maybe hoping for more of the Elliot family (which would not make its way into any reader’s hands until 50 years later in “From Dust Returned”) That day I went home with my two books on zoological identification and evolution of the mammal, Hitchcock’s Monster Museum, and Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” brought over from the Young Adult area of the library (cuz they did that for me,  I was kind of an unusual kid.)

I read books now the same way I did then, from first printed word to final printed word. This is from Mr. Bradbury’s introduction, “if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course what horse manure has always been about.” I knew in that sentence I had a friend who understood me better even than my sister, who knew my heart in a way few have since, and for the first time in a very alien universe I was not alone.  That morning Bradbury’s prose broke a spider web on my face and I knew this summer would be different. I am much older and have reread this, as well as his better known books, dozens of times, and every time some new phrase or nuance reaches out and embraces all the real parts of me.

If you have never read “Dandelion Wine”, there is no more perfect time than summer, to meet Douglas Spaulding and John Huff and Grandma and even the Junkman, and if it is your first time you will not need to wait a lifetime as I did to return again to Greene Town, Illinois as “Farewell Summer” was released in 2004.

I have always had a certain passion for things fantastical and found that drugstore paperback shelves could offer me, if often less powerful prose at least more prolific hits, than the local library in this genre. It was here I first met the next gentleman friend of my imagination, Mr. Peter S. Beagle.  His “Last Unicorn” was a better quality read than the usual paperback fare I would read for hours behind the rack, I used my saved pop bottle and milk money to buy it.  He was not as easy to find as Bradbury, and although I found him in an occasional anthology (I particularly remember werewolves in Terry Carr’s New Worlds’s of Fantasy #3) and managed to carry a collection of his works with me when most everything else I owned was lost, I had never met the man.

That is until this year at Phoenix Comicon, I asked him which of his books he had there to sell he would recommend, and so I am now a proud owner of a signed “The Line Between.” I just finished reading it for the second time, and am slightly ashamed as a previous “cricket” to not have adequate words for the range of this man’s talent. Although the gem to most Beagle readers will be “Two Hearts” the not disappointing return to the world of the” Last Unicorn,” my favorite is the final entry, “A Dance for Emilia” which made me both laugh harder and cry harder the second time.  If you have any doubts about why you should read this collection, let’s just say I am mentioning this man’s short stories in a review sandwiched between Ray Bradbury and Charles de Lint.

Charles de Lint introduced me and many others to a new kind of fantasy where faery magic happened not in some far green country but the dark edges of our own dreams and city street corners. I did not meet his books until I was a writer myself, and an adult who was still pretty busy hiding her “geek” reads behind the more acceptable classics and feminist tomes.  It was in fact women writers,  Terry Windling and Ellen Kushner who deserve an entire blog of their own, who helped me find him in a place they like to call Bordertown.  De Lint’s “Waif and Strays” is the third book I recommend for a perfect summer read. For established fans of Charles the collected orphaned stories are literary visits to Tamson House, Newford and Bordertown. For those not yet fans, there is Tamson House, Newford and Bordertown; three places you will visit in your own dreams that will forever alter how you see through your waking eyes as well.

That ability to invade sleeping dreams and change waking reality are the connecting threads in these three books. Find them, read them, and then go visit the authors pages and thank them. Even if for Bradbury it is posthumously, I believe somewhere a particle of him will know he’s made another set of eyes see flowers instead of manure, and maybe a cat will dance for you.



Everything costs something.


Everything Costs Something

“Everything costs something,”  the old woman said, shook her head

And pulled her hand away from the brand new hat and gloves I proffered.

“ I have more at home,”  I tried to make her understand.

“A gift,” I said “I just thought that you look cold.”

I hadn’t much then myself, but Utah winter had bit her till she bled in spots

And I had the old ones, still no holes at all, at my journey’s end.

“They’re free.” I pushed them towards her, once again.

“Everything costs something,” she repeated, more forceful this time

And rustled in her pile of shopping cart treasures .

We settled on a battered dictionary whose brittle, yellow pages

I still sometimes slowly turn

Searching for the meanings of some forgotten word.


“Everything costs something’”

No equivocation here,

Sitting as I do now,

Old as she was then

poised between  my  unwashed dishes

and the story filled pages of one more ending day.

I watch  last week’s dust bunnies be chased by today’s tufts of  golden retriever hair,

And  balance my bank account.

I Weigh the Time and money spent here

Against dreams I cherished there, and search the numbers

Each subtraction at a time

hoping to find myself again


On the balance line.


Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Wondering how to scientifically test that thesis. Also pretty much adding nothing of import today, and yesterday was a complete miss.  So relatively speaking, do you find yourself  liking my posts better after silences? The stats would not support that conclusion. Seems in our digital age, absence makes the heart just wander.

But I have nothing and no time to really write. Not a recipe or humorous quip is inhabiting my consciousness at the moment. 12 hour nursing shifts seem to do that to me these days. So go write your own blog, poem or take a few photos and com back and leave the link in a comment. Then everybody will have something worthwhile to read, or make today the day you go visit your local library. Just come back and see me tomorrow when I will have something worth saying.