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

July 30, 2008

Filed under: My New Life — Constance at 9:26 pm on Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We left Estes Park on Monday morning after having the best of times with the children and granddaughters. A personal moment of triumph was taking the walk from the Trail Ridge Road Visitor’s Center to the very top of that mountain. There was applause from the rest of the clan when I finally arrived, and the view, both externally and inwardly, was grand.

In cool rain showers, Charles and I drove down the center of Colorado, and as we traversed the valley toward Salida, the clouds caught behind the peaks to the west of us, and dramatic thunderclouds moved up and over with occasional lightening flashes and distant thunder rumblings. The mountains were dark and grey and mystical, looking very much like movie sets of fantasy fiction. Salida itself was a pleasant surprise with white water rafters moving in and out of the Arkansas River, and lots of young people in shops and galleries in a refurbished downtown.

Yesterday we continued our drive to Santa Fe, arriving in the afternoon with time for dinner and a nap before going to the Opera which didn’t begin until 8:30 PM. The presentation of “Falstaff” was very good. We are staying in a hotel on the Plaza with a view of the Cathedral out our window. Santa Fe is saturated with artists and fine art galleries without number; the desert air gives a clarity to everything, and the sky is the intense blue often shown in paintings of the southwest. It is easy to understand the attraction to artists of every description.

My health is holding reasonably well. There have been a number of days when I have needed to send others on and out while I sit quietly somewhere, selecting various medications from my pharmacopeia of drugs (it seems that my brain immediately brings forth the Beatles’ singing “I get by with a little help from my friends. . . “) As we have moved about, we haven’t noticed great coughing and sneezing anywhere, and I avoid closely packed groupings, however, the feeling of “living on the edge” continues, particularly when I have to take an elevator and others come into that space for the ride. A great germ laden sneeze in there and I think I would be done in. For now, the adventure continues, and we are ever thankful.

July 22, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 4:29 pm on Tuesday, July 22, 2008

As we began our adventure yesterday, the largest impression of yesterday’s travels was the feedlot extending for miles near the highway to Greeley, Colorado. One knows the reality of steaks and roasts in every supermarket but one doesn’t quite connect it to the thousands and thousands of beasts getting prepared for the product. Today we go to Denver to be with good friends before joining the family in Estes Park later in the week.

On our Sunday afternoon walk, I said to Charles happily, “It’s been ten days since I have felt ill, I think I may be in recession!” He said, “I think you want to say ‘remission’”. Unfortunately, I seemed to have selected the better term because the blood reading taken right before we left indicated that while the red blood cells are holding nicely, the white blood cells slipped and moved me down into the “critical” place of no immunities. Our primary care doctor suggested that we call the oncologist before we leave for words of wisdom from him before we left. The instructions were the same as those given before. . . take all information about the disease with you should hospitalization be needed before returning, avoid anyone who appears to have colds or flu, be wary of children, and wash hands constantly. Upon our return from this adventure, we will have the discussion about trying another series of chemotherapy.

This morning we purchased many containers of hand sanitizer to hand out to the dear ones because avoidance is counterproductive to having the family gather. It feels odd to look quite fine on the exterior and yet to be so vulnerable on the interior. The only way I know to go forward is to say the morning prayer and to take in as much as my senses can in this day’s life
adventure. So, at this writing, riding in the car on I-25, I see traffic, shrouded mountains, and a cloudless sky. I hear John-paul and Charles in animated conversation, and I know that I must live by faith, or I will not live at all.

July 15, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 10:27 am on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

There is not much happening right now – the sun is blazing hot, and the greatest excitement is the painters changing the discreet, somewhat faded yellow on the front of the house back to it’s original “Oh my word, that’s really YELLOW!” At the first sighting of this color, a neighbor’s child was convinced that this was Big Bird’s residence, and now we are back to its original brightness.

Several nights ago we were awakened at 3:00 AM by the sound of raccoons in a very loud and acrimonious battle outside our window. After a seemingly long time, there was the crack of a branch breaking, followed by the sound of it hitting the ground. After this, blessed silence reigned once more. In the morning, we saw the fallen branch near the cottonwood tree, and we surmised that one raccoon was pushing the other out further and further until the limb broke off under their weight and it fell carrying them both to the ground. We are assuming the trip down rendered the dispute meaningless, because since then, the nights have been peaceful once more.

We prepare for our holiday in Colorado and New Mexico in the next weeks. We begin with a time together with all children and grandchildren at a resort near Rocky Mountain National Park, and we continue with opera in Santa Fe. I have felt quite well for a number of days now, and the gift of life is very good.

In the summer Hymn Sings that Charles has presided over these last weeks, the hymn “Abide With Me” has been requested nearly every Sunday, and it carries me back to the little church of my parents and the occasions of their funerals. It was a favorite of both of them, and we sang it there as we gathered to honor them one more time. Now, when I hear the familiar words and sing the familiar melody, I am carried both back and forward in time as memories and comfort intertwine in a wonderful way.

“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away
change and decay in all around I see
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

July 8, 2008

Filed under: — Constance at 8:57 am on Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today’s blood readings indicate that I continue to hold on just above the “critical” level in white blood cells and neutrophils. I have been at this place for a good number of weeks, and it means that I have many times when I can say, “This is good”. The ongoing frustration is that I spend several days each week feeling sick, with flu-like symptoms. Even though I have thought the phrase “Get a grip” more often than I can count, the unpredictable ups and downs remain a challenge for me to deal with.

Our house has an elevator to the roof, and from there, one can see many miles in every direction. In the eleven years that we have lived here, this conveyance has responded faithfully to the “down” button excepting for a few times, when it remained silent and unmoving. (usually with good cause, but who can know the mind of an elevator?) That meant that we were left with option two. Option two is a rope ladder that can be attached to a sill and dropped over the edge of the window or house roof – it is advertised in catalogs showing a child climbing down safely and serenely. Most recently, Charles used it on a winter day when he took a DirectTV fellow up to the roof for an installation. Once up there, the cold apparently caused the electrical connectors to malfunction, and the elevator would not go. Dear Charles flung the ladder over the side and led the young man down to the roof of the east porch where they could enter the house through the computer room window. As I opened the window for them, I could not help but notice that the young man’s eyes were a bit wild, and he had an air of near panic about him. Charles was keeping him calm by talking cheerily and without ceasing in the tones of a tour guide. “Just think,” he declared, “now when you tell your friends about your day, you will have something interesting to report. . . instead of the usual boring routine, you can speak of rappelling off a roof. . .” and so on. Yesterday, we all went to the top of the house and when Charles and I were going up in the elevator, I remarked to him that should we become stuck on the roof, we could send John-paul over the edge and down the ladder so he could hand crank us down. Charles replied that no, he would go himself as John-paul is still young and has a long life ahead of him. Following that reasoning, I said that it was obvious that I should be the one to go over the side.
Charles took a deep breath and said, “This is truly a ridiculous conversation” which it was, because there was no reason for the elevator not to work, and the trip down the ladder is not death defying though the first peep over the side of a 36 foot high house is daunting. On these evenings, the rooftop view is made spectacular by hundreds of fireflies flitting about across the wetlands, fields and forest.

Swallows Nest with 5 birds
The little swallows are now becoming too large to stay within their tiny nest. They are sitting facing outward, and it appears that they should be on their way into the world very soon. All of Sanctuary is filled with anxious parents teaching their fledges how to fly and when we walk the paths, the air is filled with warning sounds on every side. The one that makes me smile is the catbird down by the big cottonwood tree. . . it makes the sound of a duck, and it is difficult for me to imagine a duck’s quack as an off-putting alarm, but who knows?

Next Page »