Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

December 29, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 12:03 pm on Friday, December 29, 2006

owl.jpgNow New Year is nearer than Christmas, and we are at the “Four calling birds” of the twelve days. . . the morning at Sanctuary found no birds calling, just one owl moving out of the low branches of the evergreens in the forest; a mist was falling, and Alphie seemed to lack energy to explore. I stay to the paths because I think that under the silent grasses there are whole communities of small things that I could decimate in a foot fall.

This Christmas I can’t remember much of the music at all. I think that the familiar carols have been so wrung out, minced, diced, trimmed and manipulated in hopes of something new sounding forth that the brain pushes the mute button without voluntary thought. Even the boys choir in the traditional English Lessons and Carols began to sound a bit shrill as they sang ever higher descants over newly composed materials that combined atonality with Latin texts and complex harmonies. The best musical experience came at the evening service with Charles playing and the congregation singing the familiar songs with great delight. When our family gathers tomorrow, we will sing the carols together and bring them home to the heart again.

LeibovitzCover.jpgYesterday’s blood tests showed that at last all the indicators are in the normal range. I knew before I went that this was the case because I felt truly well. I shall enjoy the next twelve days greatly! In the Foreword to the new Annie Leibovitz book, “A Photographer’s Life” (given to Charles for Christmas) she speaks of the death of her friend Susan Sontag. Ms. Sontag was diagnosed with MDS in March of 2004, and after an attempted bone marrow transplant failed, died in November of the same year. Vidaza, the chemotherapy with which I am treated, became available in January of 2005.

December 22, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 10:27 am on Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter came to Sanctuary in mists that moved through the trees and left drops of moisture falling from the tips of the branches. The ambiance was that of the ocean side on a cool morning though the ears were not touched by sounds of moving waters but rather by the traffic on the highway to the south. The fog brought the movements of trucks and cars into the forest, overriding the usual smaller sounds of creature activities in the grasses and trees. It is fine to walk just as dawn breaks because the slow increase of light changes everything from black and white to color and what may seem drab in the light of midday can make a statement in muted golds and grays that far surpasses no colors at all.

dogSpa.jpgAlphie has come to enjoy greatly the toweling down that he receives at the end of the walks, and I think, “Well, who wouldn’t like a full body massage with special attention to the feet?” Sometimes a dog’s life doesn’t appear to be too bad.

fatherTime.jpgThe end of this strange year is coming quickly, and our final days of 2006 will be enriched by worship services, family, friends, gifting, and feasting. A year ago, the MDS was just beginning to manifest itself, and we didn’t know what was ahead; now we still aren’t sure what lies in the future but we are very pleased to have had the past several months with the days that have passed so quickly. My present reality is one in which the body in remission is functioning reasonably well, though physical pain joins me every day at some point, and the energy is always far less than the mental plans would dictate. My blood count went up again this week, a fine Christmas present! The next round of chemotherapy resumes on January 9, and the journey continues.

December 15

Filed under: — Constance at 3:35 pm on Friday, December 15, 2006

cookies.jpgYesterday’s blood count readings came as a relief; up until now, they have been slowly going down, and not recovering from the chemotherapy as quickly as in the past. Finally, there was a gain rather than a loss, and though still below normal, at least headed in the right direction. I have felt less energy just in the time when sugar plums and such have begun to dance in the head, so the plates of cookies, splendid cards, and other trappings of the season remain in concept only. It is already less than a month until I commence the next round of chemotherapy, and I want my body to hurry, hurry, and come to the beautiful place of normal as it was in August and October.

Sanctuary has been quietly waiting for winter. For the past days, we have had temperatures above the normal chill of December, and no moisture at all. The paths are worn down, dry and dusty, and walking is quite fine in the atypical temperatures. Alphie will be trotting along when suddenly he will bound with great leaps into the grasses of the pastures, and scolding pheasants will fly out in several different directions. They are either cursing the dog for disturbing their rest, or telling each other where to meet. These events result in Alphie’s running about with a dog smile for the rest of the trip and every faint rustle in the grasses causes him to adopt the pointer position of nose forward, left front paw up and hanging just like the depictions in sporting magazines. Meanwhile, the conversations of the old men overheard in the coffee shops are predicting that “Next week it’s all going to be coming. . . snow, wind, and terrible cold”.

supremeCourt.jpgSomewhere in the pre-dawn hours of the early December mornings, I concluded that a proper celebration of Charles’ birthday was important this year. On the 18th, he arrives at the venerable age of 70 years, and as he has told me, he feels that finally, he is eligible for a seat on the Supreme Court. I visited with friends who are also wonderful caterers, and miraculously, they were free on Saturday night, the 16th, so plans went forward. The gathering will be family and people who have known Charles professionally and as friends and neighbors over the years. The part that should be grand is to be after the cake, when the guests have been asked to tell a story about some memorable interaction with Charles. There are tales that have been gathering over the years, and their telling should make it a most memorable evening.

December 10, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 5:25 pm on Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ore06.jpgThe first anniversary of my illness arrives next Saturday, December 16, and in the quickly passing days of this month, I have thought about the occasions when a group of us might consider “If you had just one year to live, what would you do?” Then, of course, there was no reason to think that such musings would have an application in real time. I do know now that I would go on as I had before without using the days for far-flung travel or last ditch efforts toward noble acts that would make my name a household word. Seeing a possibly limited future has changed my inner landscape far more than my exterior life style. Among the many “firsts’ has been a comprehension of the reality of “the communion of saints”, a term I have used all my life, but only now have come to understand. This far flung web of humanity that takes the time to care and pray for me has changed my world view and likely supported the advent of this time of remission.

moonyClock.jpgA year is a very short time! A season of change seems to be just a heartbeat; and the contemplation of end times brings an urgency to life on the daily basis. Never before have I seen such beauty in moon and sun with their celestial movements altering light and shadow from moment to moment. The fauna and flora in these pastures and woods are intricate and wonderful, ever adjusting to the present circumstances. The birds come and go, sharing song and color and motion in the trees and skies outside our windows.

clockWeights.jpgGratitude to God permeates everything. I regard husband, children, house, home, grandchildren, community, friends, and yes, even the dog, as gifts for me, and these are so very fine – perfectly crafted for my wellbeing and happiness. There is physical pain and times of mental unease, but always, the good things provide a counterweight that restores balance and peace of mind. Today’s reality is a blood count that is less than desirable, and going down a bit each week, but there is energy enough for the Christmas preparations and anticipation of great holiday festivities.