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

April 29, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 4:21 pm on Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ranksOfAngels.jpg“Up through endless ranks of angels, cries of triumph in his ears, To his heavenly throne ascending, having vanquished all their fears, Christ looks down upon his faithful, leaving them in happy tears”. So states the first verse of an Ascension hymn written to pitches that move swiftly upward, and the imagery of “endless ranks of angels” surely appears like those wonderful cumulous clouds stacked into thunderheads that we see in our summer skies. The church celebrates Christ’s ascension from earth to heaven on May 1st this year, and Christendom joyfully lives on with the mystery of God’s presence still here, yet there in heaven and in all places in between.

deathPlaysChess.jpgI have just completed reading “Strong at the Broken Places”, a book by Richard Cohen, an acclaimed journalist who deals with multiple sclerosis and colon cancer. In this narrative he spends three years chronicling the lives of five people with chronic incurable illnesses. His subtitle, “voices of illness, a chorus of hope” points to the conclusion that he arrives upon, and he speaks of the power that comes with sharing the burden of living inside of lives that are outside of the “normal”. I related best to the person dealing with cancer and his comparing it to a chess game. One waits for the next move that cancer makes to be followed by the oncologist’s suggested countermove. The descriptions of always wondering if each new ache or pain means that this is the next round of activity by the illness are much as I experience them. I was reminded that while my journey seems very singular and personal, it is akin to a small drop in a very large stream as many others appear to think the same thoughts that I do.

duckCalendar.jpgNow the wild plums are just beginning to blossom with their gentle white flowers covering the fiercely thorny branches. On today’s walk Alphie and I saw a wood duck balancing on a branch just above the stream that flows toward the big cottonwood tree on the west side of Sanctuary – in the early morning sun, it seemed to be posing for a birder’s calendar. Spring is finally coming forth in every way, and its advent here is best described by hearing Charles’ delight filled announcement, “Today I will be mowing the grass!” It is that kind of day.

April 22, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 8:24 pm on Tuesday, April 22, 2008

snake_owl.jpgEarth Day and we have had all sorts of sights at Sanctuary. . . a large fox having an early breakfast of rabbit down in the wetland just south and west of the house, a deer with a small rack of horns coming up to the fence west of the great cottonwood and seeming to jump straight up and over effortlessly, and an owl flying low with a snake in its beak. If one were a reader of omens here, I think there would be a good amount of materials to work with.

evil-Tick.jpgThe willows are green and the plums are just ready to bloom and yes, today the ticks made their presence known. They are one of the consistent reminders that this is “almost” Paradise. First Charles found a tick and then John-paul, so I immediately did the dog check and found three on Alphie. He received his treatment which I suspect means that the ticks land on him and leap off as soon as he comes to a stop. This is usually in the house, of course. Now Alphie gets an extra brushing after his walks, and his entire demeanor is “life is good!” The rest of us all add the “tick check” discipline to our daily doings. I am very certain there will be no ticks in heaven.

earTimeOlderCar.jpgLast week contained a visit to the oncologist. The blood counts continue their very slow slide and after another discussion of not “if” but “when” concerning the progression of the disease, I came home in a somber state. I was told that nothing can be done to make my life any more comfortable than I am now. Perhaps a parallel example might be comparing the body to a well-worn and highly valued automobile which is taken to the repair shop and hearing the mechanic say that absolutely nothing can be done to improve its performance even though it is beginning to run a little rough and the milage keeps decreasing. We will continue to monitor the blood counts and when they cross over the “critical” number, then a new regime of chemotherapy, etc., will be tried with the intent of gaining another extension in earth time.

April 15, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 3:56 pm on Tuesday, April 15, 2008

DaffadillaBlueVase.jpgDaffodils in a little blue vase on the table and a fierce fast wind from the southwest define this April day and completion of the Income Tax ritual is also a part of the texture. John-paul returned from his European travels last week so we get to hear tales of adventures in London, Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon and points in-between. We got out our own dairies of long ago travels to these places and compared favorite sights and sounds. As in everything, some things are very dynamic and some things remain unchanging and ageless.

redCoatSpitball.jpgBecause I have not been able to identify the less obvious and more secretive birds that live at Sanctuary, I determined to take a class in “birding”. The instructors are a man-wife team who appear to be in their late 70’s and the class that gathered was made up of about twenty women. This meant that there was one male in the room, and I think that the teaching was influenced by this; one got a sort of “rooster in the henhouse” feeling as the gentleman gave us stern warnings about not dressing in bright or shiny clothes or in garments that “swished” for trips out into the wild to look for birds. He spoke with great disdain of a young woman who not only wore a red coat (!) but who ran ahead and exclaimed about the birds she was seeing, causing them to fly onward before he and others had a chance to get out their binoculars. As he went on and on I found myself slipping backwards to a junior high mentality and beginning to think about rolling a few spit balls. When I looked down at my notes toward the end of the evening, all I had written down was, “Don’t wear red to look for birds.”

hugs_Levee.jpgLast week I was a reader at a Hymn Festival here in Seward, and afterwards, many people greeted me with delight and told me how well I appear and expressed joy at seeing me again. I was surrounded by many familiar smiling faces and getting hugs for just “being”. What a grand experience – quite likely in the scheme of life, it is this sort of ingredient that helps to hold illnesses at bay.

scientist.jpgTomorrow I go to see the oncologist again with very little news for him. He will have the gastroenterologist’s report in hand and the blood readings will show that the various cells are holding fast. As these lovely days come and go, perhaps there is someone in a lab somewhere having an “Aha!” moment discovering a new chemotherapy that is specifically directed toward this bone marrow cancer. With springtime’s rapid arrival here at Sanctuary, miracles and new beginnings abound, and it is easy to contemplate the wonderful possibilities.

April 8, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 3:49 pm on Tuesday, April 8, 2008

AlphieSquirrel.jpgIt is quite cool and almost raining this AM; the squirrels are really hitting the feeders and I am chasing them away because they are so greedy. I will say to Alphie, “Squirrel, squirrel!” and suddenly rush to the downstairs door and fling it open. Alphie runs out as fast as he can, but he has not a clue what it all means. . . the squirrels run off in directions that he is not going, and he stands there bemused, then comes back in for a treat. Perhaps one day he will connect the dots, but I am not holding my breath. I really don’t want him to actually catch the squirrels anyway, just give them some reasons to share the resources.

SpringTrifecta.jpgThese lovely days of spring unveil new beginnings at every level. There are very tiny white flowers embedded in the lawn out in front of the house, and there are large green leaves of lilies growing at a furious rate. The frogs have begun their chorus in the wetland under the huge cottonwood tree down at the southwest corner of Sanctuary and more species of birds arrive daily since this is a place where many come to raise their families. The down side is knowing that somewhere out there, ticks are beginning to thaw out and stir and sniff the air for warm blood. We check Alphie every day, and when the first one dares to attempt a landing on his being, he will get the Frontline between the shoulders. The therapy is completely effective, but I hate to start it before it is needed.

ReaperBackBurner.jpgThis April is bonus time. There is joy in greeting each new day inside a body that has energy. In November, we were presented with a bleak picture of the future when the chemotherapy was no longer an option, and for a while each event was experienced in my mind as the last birthday, the last Thanksgiving, the last Christmas and so forth. Now, dying has been pushed onto the back burner and is no longer the specter around the edges of each future plan. Life is an extraordinary event full of thankfulness and delight at everything. This is hard to describe; I think perhaps I have arrived at the place of living in the “now” as many contemporary gurus expound upon, and as Christ advocated in his sermon on the mountain “take no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Today was wonderful, and it is quite likely that tomorrow will be, too. To LIFE!

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