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

September 29, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 4:28 pm on Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A day in the life of Constance – Chemical Woman.

The first feat of the morning is walking through the Abyss with perfect balance. I take precautions before stepping out – a pinch of Hydrocodone, a dab of Coumidin, some fiber, some Vitamin B-12, a bit of Vitamin D-3, some acid suppressor. I reach the other side without incident and am ready for the next step.

I signal Alf the Wonderbeast, and we commence our morning check around the perimeters of Sanctoriam. Alf stops to point out the movement of the great black snake disappearing into the jungle of impossibly high grasses, and I hear Black Snake saying that it is simply going to its resting place for the day, so I indicate that no action is required. We proceed onward into the huge trees when suddenly we find ourselves beneath a great battle occurring overhead. The Blue SkyJay Patrols are calling in their forces from all corners of Sanctoriam to fight the monstrous Sharp Shinned Hawk BirdSlayers. We are earthbound and cannot take sides in the struggle which rages over us. Both sides screaming imprecations and threats, they move onward down to the willows and back over us again in and out of the trees of the forest.

Now we must hurry down the hill to ask the great council tree Tacama how things are in the west sector. Tacama has been scattering his leaves out, and I ask him why he is so far ahead of the other trees. He says that winter cold will be coming sooner than expected and snow and ice could break his branches if they are still covered with leaves. I ask about the kingdom under the earth, where his great roots reach out in every direction, and he reports that all is well though the black land crabs have been gathering armies. He adds that he and the grasses are monitoring their movement and they will let us know if anything unusual takes place. I remind Alf that his intervention is not required and he need not prepare entrances to the underearth with his digging. He shrugs and moves forward.

We return to Headquarters and visit with Charles, Warrior of the Music Kingdom before he goes forth to do battle. He will be in the company of both good and bad forces; some will be helping the Notes and Clefs in their on-going project of assisting to build beautiful structures while others will be attacking the golden enclaves of song by murdering Notes, burying Rests and maiming Meters. Fortunately he is highly skilled and heavily armed with all necessary tools.

As always, he asks about the Abyss. The evil forces have stolen my armor away, and it is required that I pass unprotected through the dark place each day. I tell him that today it is no deeper and though badly decimated, the remaining Blood Cell Defenses appear to be holding steady.

Constance – Chemical Woman, reporting on a day of her life, living on the Edge.

( The Illustrator is on a photo shoot and hopes your vivid imagination is up to the task )

September 22, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 9:06 pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A dark and cool day meets the eye this afternoon. It is sweater and hot soup weather, with Charles announcing that he would like to have a little wood fire this evening. It seems too soon for our seasons to rush onward, but perhaps as one grows older (and older) the brain perceives more slowly, making days fly by more quickly. It is only in the doctor’s office that time seems to revert to a form of eternity, with minutes moving past as slowly as they did in one’s childhood.

One thousand three hundred and forty days have passed since I had the diagnosis of cancer. Using such a number and contemplating the fact that somewhere in the course of that time I learned to live “a day at a time”, it’s been quite a while. Today life goes forward with a closet full of drugs to apply as needed. The long term use of Prednisone (at 10mg. every other day) helps the pain but messes with my mind just a bit. One of the side effects is its ability to carry a person off to euphoria or to cast one down into depression. The “every other day” application is designed to give the body a little recovery time between each intake so now my psyche is like rickrack instead of going onward in a straight line. Tomorrow it is back to the doctor to pursue the next assist to prop up the exhausted being. I am anemic of course, and my B-12 indicator shows a growing deficiency so there are more things to try, whether blood transfusions or injections of B-12, or “other”. If I were a soup, there would be far too many seasonings tossed into the pot for a decent product – I think my person now includes a huge number of additives not unlike the ingredient list that one could find on a very cheap hot dog.

Most of our summer birds are gone, but of the robins and flickers, some seem to remain across the winter, and others appear to fly elsewhere, presumably south. Right now, there are lots of robins conversing loudly in the cedars and willows, and the flickers are in rare gatherings of eight to ten in the top branches of the dead cottonwoods. Charles says they are arguing about which ones get to stay and which ones have to move on.

While we have always lived by faith, these present days and those ahead seem to require a greater measure of trust in God’s mercy since a weakening of the body requires a strengthening of resources in other places. In the Scriptures, and in prayers, hymns and spiritual songs there is much material for me to call upon, and I am always thankful for it. Psalm 23 is a favorite because I have it memorized and because when the words come to me, they are sung in a setting written by Charles. The psalm concludes with the lovely promise, ”Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Listen to Psalm 23, composed by Charles Ore and performed by Charles & Heidi Oremusic.jpg

September 15, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 4:55 pm on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today is a different day. There is a high overcast, and below that are light grey clouds that are unformed, looking like someone took a large paint brush and swept it across the east side of the sky. Stillness rests over Sanctuary, though robins are beginning to gather in small groups near the wetland stream, and the bees working in the fall flowers seem busier than ever. It seems as if this is an in-between time, neither summer nor fall – one season finished, the other not yet arrived.

In a way, that is where I am in life. We saw the oncologist and it felt a bit odd because there are no treatments available for me, so we just sat and visited without a plan of action for the future. I am in palliative care which briefly means “no cure, keep the patient comfortable”, though this additional definition in the Medical Dictionary was interesting: “The Latin “pallium” referred to a type of cloak in ancient Greece and Rome and, later, to a white woolen band with pendants in front and back worn by the pope or an archbishop as a symbol of full episcopal authority. Pallium was modified to form “palliate,” an adjective meaning “cloaked” or “concealed” and a verb meaning “to cloak,” “to cloth,” or “to shelter.” Today “palliation” implies the disguising or concealing of badness or evil and suggests the alleviation of the vile effects of wickedness or illness.” Even the doctor said “It must feel strange”.

The good thing is that my doctors are very willing to seek out ways to “cloak the wickedness”, and my latest adventure is with Prednisone which has helped with the pain, and increased my energy somewhat. This is an improvement worthy of pursuit. The main side effects at the moment are nausea and loss of appetite. Sunday we invited dear friends including a couple visiting the area from Denver for lunch, and as I contemplated getting a meal prepared, my whole being went into “Yuck!” mode. I determined to go ahead anyway, and I called Heidi and asked her to “spin a chicken” for us, and then asked the guests to do the food preparations when they came. This happened, and for the first time, I entertained at a meal where I watched others in the kitchen doing all the work. It ended up a happy story, however, a sub-plot worthy of a John Cleese send-up was the chew bone I gave to Alphie to enjoy while we dined. I always give him something when people come – he lies down near us and radiates contentment and “Wonderful Dog-ness” while having his own fine eating moments. The trouble with this one was that he was right behind one of the guests, and as he worked over the newly-acquired-never-before-tried bone it sounded as though there was a 300 pound monster chewing off the table leg. It was incredible. “Crack! Crunch, crunch, grind. . .” and even as it was happening, everyone was politely keeping up the conversation. Though we apologized for the unfortunate sound track, we just went on because it was our dear Alphie and we didn’t have the will to redirect the activity. C’est la vive.

September 8, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 11:02 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yesterday unofficially closed summer, and at Sanctuary, in the natural world that surrounds us, we see daily change everywhere. A wolf spider carries her entire brood of eggs on her back as she hurries into hiding, looking like she wears a chenille sweater, and this year, we have mushrooms of all kinds coming up under the trees, in the paths, and in the grasses. I have never studied mushrooms to know about which are edible, or which are poisonous, so I leave all of them alone.

For several years, Charles has been trying to coax a trumpet vine to become a beautiful green arbor that would signal our yard path’s ending and the beginning of the walk toward pasture and woodland. Trumpet vines have a reputation for being aggressive, but Charles felt that there should be enough space, and we both enjoy the bright orange blossoms that it can put forth. Year after year, this plant has refused to follow the structure of the arbor – instead it has flung branches upward and outward as though it were seeking something far grander. This year, it reached outward to the cedar tree to the east, and in satisfaction, actually put forth several blossoms. “Something has to change” says gardener Charles, and I don’t know if he plans on snipping stems, moving the arbor, or building something to accommodate the plant’s intentions.

Tomorrow I return to the doctor looking for help out of this present state of perpetual flu-like symptoms of aches, nausea, and dreadful weariness. I sleep a lot, ingest painkillers, and consider blood that is forgetting how to do its work properly. It is not life as I want it to be, and it includes moments when I would like to weep and wail and kick trees – only the practical voice in my head delays me as it points out that swollen eyes, a sore throat and bruised feet would not change a single molecule of the present reality. Fortunately, the days are filled with sunlight and grand weather, and each one has some thing to behold, or hear, or experience. Today included sighting a pinkish-orange sun rising through a grey-blue morning mist, a telephone conversation with a dear offspring, and laughter with Charles as he recounted some of his teaching experiences.

We always have hope and the comfort of faith that includes acceptance of what life contains. Therefore the prayers go on, “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace” and the spiritual songs continue to sound. In the hymn “The Day Thou Gavest” the poet says “The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended, The darkness falls at thy behest; To thee our morning hymns ascended, thy praise shall hallow now our rest. As o’er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day. The voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away. The sun, that bids us rest is waking thy children under western skies, And hour by hour, as day is breaking, Fresh hymns of thankful praise arise”. These are small examples of the many that accompany me on my journey.

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