Friday, June 19, 2020

A Quick Update

Hi-ya, guys. I just wanted to take a sec to update y'all on what's happening with us. First off, thank you so much for your continued support and caring messages. I appreciate them more than I can say. Bottom line, we're now doing hospice care in our home. This isn't the outcome we would've chosen, but we're blessed to have had so many years together. Sure, we would've liked to have had another 51 years of marriage... hey! we coulda made it into the Guinness book of world records... but no, alas, that's not to be. Things are kinda rough right now, but the hospice folks are a Godsend, and somehow, somehow, I'll make it through. I think. I dunno when.... or even if... I'll return to blogging. But if I can... I will.

Y'all take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 29, 2020

More Than a Number

Thought for the day:  Time is but a stream I go a-fishin' in.  I drink at it, but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slips away, but eternity remains. [Henry David Thoreau]

I didn't just want to go fishing in it; I wanted to stand in it. I wanted to feel the waters of time swirl around my feet, to be made poignantly aware once again of its dual nature of fleeting and eternal. I wanted to hear the haunting call of the seagulls, and breathe in the distinctive briny scent of the ocean. And five years ago...when Smarticus took this picture of me at Myrtle Beach... he and and our friends Kati and Cliff allowed me to do just that. Even though none of them share my passion for the ocean, they indulged me by granting me some time to stand in the surf and replenish my soul. I appreciated it more than I could say. Having them do that for me was humbling and made me feel cared for.

Recently, while struggling to keep my footing in a surf of swirling emotions, I momentarily felt as alone as I look in that photo. As a number of you already know, Smarticus... AKA Mike... my Number One and only... went into the hospital last week. Watching that ambulance take him away and knowing that because of coronavirus safety precautions, we can't see each other while he's there, was as painful as a kick in  in the solar plexus. With a steel-toed pointy boot. But thankfully, that devastating feeling of being totally alone has passed.

Our kids and friends circled the wagons, reminding me that I'm not alone at all... and that circle includes you guys. I'm humbled by your expressions of concern, and I appreciate your outreach more than I can say. Thank you.

We can... and do... talk on the phone multiple times a day.  He's been getting treatments to ease his pain and make him more comfortable, and he'll be transferred to an acute physical therapy place today, where the hope is to get him back on his feet again so he can come home. Believe me, if anybody can accomplish that, he can. Then we'll be ready to tackle whatever comes next. For more than 51 years, I've leaned on him, and now it's his turn. He can relax and lean on me now, and much to my surprise, I've discovered that I'm more than strong enough to hold us both up. We've got this, and we're still laughing together... even if it's only over the phone for now.

I'd planned to post the following video last Friday for Memorial Day, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. But ya know what? It isn't too late to post it. I'm one of those strange folks who still thinks of Memorial Day as falling on May 30, as opposed to the last Monday of the month, so as far as I'm concerned, this post is right on time.

Yesterday's newspaper said we've now surpassed 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus here in the U.S. It's hard to wrap our minds around such a big number, isn't it? Hard to imagine such a profound loss. It's as difficult to assimilate the number of global deaths from this virus as it is to grasp the huge numbers representing the men and women who've died during wartime. Stark heartless numbers tend to dehumanize the reality of each of those individual deaths. In 2013, British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss organized an amazing artistic endeavor called The Fallen that poignantly depicts the reality of the 9000 who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy:

To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace. [engraved on the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial]

[Yes, that's my hubby in the header pic... taken when he was a grunt in Vietnam. He's writing me a letter...]

       Again, thank you all. Your caring truly lifted me up. And psssst... keep smiling. I am.

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Vive Les Differences!

Thought for the day: Do you think God gets stoned? I think so... look at the platypus. [Robin Williams]

[image: wikipedia]
You ever feel like you're moving in slow motion? Unmotivated and more than a little lazy?

(ahem) Yeah, me neither.

Who am I kidding? Lately, I feel like my inner self is turning into a sloth.

Not that I don't appreciate the sloth, mind you... I do. With that Chewbacca-like long hair and those diva-like long nails, it's a veritable glamour queen of the animal world, and it undeniably marches to the beat of its own drummer. A verrrry slow beat. But as much as I appreciate the sloth, one of the animals I appreciate even more is the wonderful, amazing, totally unique duck-billed platypus. Talk about individuality! I dunno if Robin Williams was right to say God was stoned when he created the platypus, though. I prefer to think of the platypus as being the manifestation of a great sense of humor.

[image: wikipedia]
I mean, really. Think about it. The platypus has clawed feet in the rear, webbed feet in front, a beaver-like tail, otter-like fur, and a soft pliable duck-like bill. Believe it or not, this unusual-looking guy shares DNA with mammals, birds, AND reptiles. It's as though he were made from a bunch of spare parts, all thrown together willy-nilly. (The original case of cosmic recycling?)

I like the duck-billed platypus
Because it is anomalous.
I like the way it raises its family,
Partly birdly, partly mammaly.
I like its independent attitude
Let no one call it a duck-billed platitude. [Ogden Nash]

Um, then again, maybe the platypus wasn't one of the original animals from the get-go. Maybe there was a little bit of (ahem) hanky panky taking place on that ark...

Alas, most of us will never have the pleasure of seeing a duck-billed platypus in person, although it's one of those bucket list kinda things for me. You folks in Australia might not even ever see one in the wild, because they're pretty introverted and vant to be alone most of the time. But at least you guys have the option of seeing them in your zoos and conservation facilities. (Lucky you!)

Some interesting fun facts about the platypus:
  • They don't have stomachs! (So that's how they stay so slim...) Instead, like fish, they have a gullet that connects directly to their intestines.
  • Their bills are covered with thousands of super-sensitive cells that detect the electric fields of other critters... kinda like a sixth sense. When a platypus goes underwater, a protective flap of skin covers his eyes and ears, making him both blind and deaf, but his bill more than makes up for it. That handy dandy electrolocation ability in his bill takes over and allows him to zero right in on his prey.  
  • They're one of only two egg-laying mammals in the world. (The other is the echidna, also native to Australia.) And although they lactate, they have no nipples! What they do have are mammary glands, and their babies simply suck the milk from their mother's abdominal skin or fur.
  • The males have a venomous spur on each hind leg, which is only activated during mating season, presumably to prevent other amorous males from getting too chummy with their ladies. 
[image of spur: wikipedia]
  • The webbing on their front feet is retractable. It helps them swim in the water... using their front legs, like a doggy paddle... and then retracts on land to reveal sharp claws.
  • They have no teeth. The adults don't, anyway. (Babies have tiny teeth, but they don't last long, and once they fall out, they don't grow new ones.) They scoop up gravel from the river bottom to use as makeshift teeth to grind their food. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Their tails may look like beaver tails, but they serve a different purpose. Platypuses don't use them to slap the water as a warning, like beavers do. Nearly half of their body's fat is stored in the tail... kinda like a back-up pantry... and it serves as a food source during times of scarcity. Moms also shelter their incubating eggs against their warm bodies with those tails. 
  • Know what platypus babies are called? Puggles! Isn't that adorable? Wouldn't you love to snuggle with a puggle...? (They're such spiffy dressers!)

                                    Is it any wonder I'm so enamored of these creatures?

In December of 2019, there were so many duck-billed platypuses in Australia, they were deemed common. (As if!) Sadly, as of January of this year, they've joined the ranks of endangered species, due largely to drought and wildfires. Thankfully, there are many people dedicated to saving them... like these folks with the Taronga Zoo in Sydney:

If you're like me, that isn't NEARLY enough footage of these critters. So how about  a little bit more?

There are sooooo many incredible, awe-inspiring creatures in this world of ours, but to me, the duck-billed platypus is in a class by itself. Truly unique, in every sense of the word... kinda like... us! So I say embrace your differences, people! Celebrate the unique! You may not have the privilege of being a platypus, but, by golly, YOU are the only YOU in the entire world. Like the platypus, you are truly one of a kind.

Oh, yeah! I almost forgot. Did you ever wonder what a platypus sounded like? Well... wonder no more:
                                                                (You're welcome!)

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.