The 2016 Presidential Campaign in One Tweet

For me, the photo in this tweet encapsulates the coverage the cable “news” outlets (Fox, MSNBC and CNN) have given to the presidential campaign since the day last June when Donald Trump announced his candidacy.  Trump spoke early this afternoon in Virginia Beach, Virginia while Hillary Clinton was in Tampa, Florida.  I wasn’t watching, but RawStory was, and good for them (and us).  I’ve seen this countless times again, since June, 2015, with a box with Clinton in it (no audio) squeezed down into the righthand corner while the vast majority of the screen was all Trump.  The point of this kind of “coverage” is apparently a cover so the cables can say they “aired” her speech too (which apparently they did, for a matter of minutes (see link above)) and they can claim that, hell yeah, we’re fair and balanced!

Cables on Trump 9-6-16.png

 

September 6, 2016 at 3:53 PM 2 comments

Fashion Insanity = Election Insanity?

I’m in the market for a new, wool, winter coat.  It’s way early I know.  I looked around last year and found some I liked but they were sold out so I thought I’d start looking now.  The coat I have is still functional but it’s about 15 years old and it feels and looks drab.

I don’t really like “cocoon” coats (the new-new-thing last year and this year, apparently and unfortunately) but this is along the lines of what I’m thinking of (I’d wear it with jeans and cords and sneakers and hoodies):

$1,150.00 is out of the question (what makes it “worth” that?), but you get the idea.

So I went to Nordstrom.com today and I looked around.  I set the search to “Newest” and while, yes, I see the ridiculously expensive coat above, I also see these…on the first page…meaning there’s more insanity like this to come because, again, it’s early:

What the heck?  These coats seem to be emblematic of the insanity that is this year’s  US presidential election.  Unhinged.  Discombobulated.  Incoherent.  Classless.  Ugly.  Something nobody in their right mind likes.

Overall, my feeling with regard to both these coats and the election is: GET ME OUTTA HERE!

August 26, 2016 at 8:01 PM 2 comments

One Year

One day I hope to be able to write in depth about what it’s like to lose a much-loved husband and friend of 40 years.

How do you do that without writing a 1,000 page book?

For now, I’m remembering Dan Alan Vowell, who died a year ago yesterday.  In the Buddhist tradition I tied a ribbon of remembrance and prayers on the oak tree in the backyard outside our (now my…do I call it my or our?) kitchen window.

Sending love your way forever.

Ribbon for Dan.png

July 26, 2016 at 8:36 PM 2 comments

Happy Anniversary My Sweet Dan

Today would have been Dan’s and my 39th wedding anniversary.

Screen shot 2016-07-16 at 6.15.53 PM.png

July 16, 1977, Long Lake, Roosevelt National Forest, Boulder County, Colorado

I think I’m doing pretty well.  I have good days and bad.  Probably a mix of 50/50. Maybe 60/40.

The one year anniversary of Dan’s death is coming up on July 25.  I don’t know if or how it will change me but I think it’s important to get past it…to get beyond all the “firsts.”  The FIRST birthday.  The FIRST Thanksgiving. The FIRST day the Letter Carrier delivered the seed catalogues that Dan would delve into and start planning his garden. The FIRST time I heard the screech of that bird this spring that we both hated hearing. Gawd.  The firsts seem to roll around once a week.  There’s got to be some relief in getting that freakin first, first, first anniversary thing done and behind me.

 

July 16, 2016 at 7:39 PM 10 comments

Happy Mother’s Day to Women Who Mother Something or Someone Other Than a Human

I’ve always had a difficult relationship with Mother’s Day.  My mother was an emotionally withdrawn, self-involved woman who didn’t give her three kids much though; she was wrapped up in her own issues.  When I was just under three years old she had twins which I think overwhelmed and stunned her into withdrawing even more.

BUT, over the years I came to have an appreciation for Mother’s Day that didn’t involve human children, thanks to my Dear Dan.  I don’t think there was ever a Mother’s Day when my Dear Dan didn’t give me a card.  I’ve culled through a lot stuff over the last months but here’s one he gave me in 1997 that I still have:

Dan Mothers Day Card.png

Inside the card says:  “What a babe!  (Of course, I always think that.)”  It’s signed:  “You are a great mother of plants and Julia. I love you.  Dan”

Julia was our dog at the time.

How cool is that that my Dear Dan recognized caring for plants (that can be a lot of work) and for dogs (that can be a lot of work too) is mothering?!!

You don’t have to be the mother of a human to mother.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

May 8, 2016 at 7:39 PM Leave a comment

Yup

Imagine four or eight years of this.  Imagine a President Trump tweeting from the White House every hour and holding near-daily inane “press conferences.”  The guy needs constant attention.  He’d exhaust the world.

Trump Cartoon 5-7-16.png

(Via.)

May 7, 2016 at 1:51 PM 1 comment

10 – 20″ of Snow

Gawd.  I live in the pink area:

Snow Warning 4-28-16.png

If we get 10-20 inches of snow “by early Saturday” it will be our third – third! – 10+ inch snow storm in six weeks.  During the first of the three, on March 23, my neighborhood was without power for 18 hours.  I don’t think there’s anything more boring than being being snowed in for a day and not having power  It’s kind of fun for an hour or two but that tends to wear off pretty quickly. And now, leaves are coming out on the trees (think broken branches) and so many plants are apt to get crushed:  Tulips, peonies and clematis, to name but a few that I have in my yard.

This is getting very, very old.  I’m so ready for spring!

Welp, guess I’d better get out there and cover things up as best as I can. (Groan.)

 

April 28, 2016 at 3:35 PM 2 comments

Grieving the Loss of a Treasure

Ah, grief and mourning.  A hellish place but more and more often grieving the loss of Dan has begun to take on a sacred tone.

Dan’s death opened a tear in my soul like that of the Grand Canyon’s on the face of the Earth.  I looked down on the Grand Canyon from the air years ago. It’s a ragged, angry-looking thing that looks like a monstrous wound.

I miss Dan a lot of course.  A year ago he might have been sitting in “his chair” in the room next to where I am right now, muttering something about doping in the upcoming Tour de France or, God help us, politics here in the US.  It’s the chit-chat and just missing the person’s presence that’s so hard. The everyday stuff.  You know, going to the grocery store together. Shooting the breeze while sitting in the car at a red light.

Dan Grating Cheese in Livingroo Summer 2013.png

Dan Grating Cheese / Mr. Al Looking On – 2013

My grief now is becoming more about about honoring the man Dan was, honoring our time together – memories…oh the memories – and honoring that he chose to spend his life with me.

A death has occurred

and everything is changed

by this event.

We are painfully aware that life

can never be the same again

that yesterday is over

that a relationship once rich

has ended,

but there is another way to look upon this truth.

If life went on the same without the presence of

the one who has died,

we could only conclude

that the life we here remember

made no contribution,

filled no space, meant nothing.

The fact that this individual

left behind a place that cannot be filled

is a high tribute

to this individual.

Life can be the same after a trinket has been lost,

but never after

the loss of a treasure.

— Paul Irion

People who society would think should be hugely important to me have died but their death hasn’t caused me much more upset than a ripple.  (A sad fact about my incredibly dysfunctional original family.)  As a matter of fact, the lasting emotion has, in large part, been relief.

But Dan?  Dan, was a treasure.  And that says a lot about Dan.

Love you.  Miss you forever.

April 24, 2016 at 7:29 PM 3 comments

Flowers for Dan

My dear Dan would have been 65-years-old today.

This, from a T-shirt he wore to shreds:

If you smile at me

I will understand.

That is something

Everybody everywhere does in the same language.

—  Crosby, Stills and Nash

That was Dan.

Flowers for Dan 4-23-15.png

Miss you.  Love you.

 

April 23, 2016 at 7:40 PM 5 comments

Disposable Sheets? Really?

 

 

Sheets via Wikimedia Commons.png

Don’t we have enough disposable stuff already?  Disposable napkins (instead of cloth), paper “towels” instead of washable old dishcloths, Starbucks-style coffee “cups,” plastic water bottles? When car parts are found in the stomachs of whales and they’re gorging on plastic, it’s time to stop this horrible disposable thing we humans do.

But no!  Now we have — wait for it — disposable bed sheets!  Yes, we can now buy “luxury disposable sheets” that are “so easy” they can be used “for weeks” and when they need to be changed, we “simply” discard or compost them.

It’s so easy!

Gawd.

April 4, 2016 at 7:25 PM 5 comments

Excess Beyond Words

As regular readers of this blog know, I volunteer at a food bank on Friday mornings and have for more than seven years.

Thanks to the tireless work of the food bank manager, several times a week we pick up day-old items from local grocery stores belonging to national food chains lest that food end up in a landfill.

Today was such a day.  A volunteer picked up about 300 pounds of food from a national chain’s local store:  Loaves of bread, individual pastries that our clients would consider a splurge, half-opened packs of AA batteries; slightly dented cans of veggies and soups.  Thank.  You!

And then there was this.  It was called a “candy cake.”  M&M-type candies on the top, licorice-like strips around the side and a candy ribbon wrapping it all up.  Oh, and there was frosting under those M&M-type candies and the cake was chocolate.

Candy Cake 4:1:16.png

There were two of these monstrosities.

The other one had the same M&M-like topping but it had KitKat-like stripes around the side and “fun size” individual candy bars stuck into the top, amidst the M&M-like things.

In all my years volunteering at the food bank, I’d never seen anything as indescribably excessive at this “candy cake” and neither had some of my fellow volunteers who’ve been there for years as well.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but think this is indicative of the over-the-top, irresponsible excess that’s roiling the country right now.

(H/t to Alice for the pic.)

Oh, and no, this is not an April Fools’ joke.

 

 

 

April 1, 2016 at 7:16 PM 3 comments

Time to Shovel!

We got something like 13.5″ of snow over the last 24 hours here in Boulder, Colorado.  Looks like I’ve got some shovelin’ to do!  It’s okay.  I see it as a much-needed upper body workout (I say without having yet lifted a finger).  :}

Deck Chairs in Snow 2-2-16.png

 

 

February 2, 2016 at 5:29 PM 2 comments

Grief Isn’t Something We Plow Through

One of my brothers – Eric – committed suicide in 1988.  It’s been a long time.  I forgot how bereaved I was but my long-time therapist hasn’t.  She reminded me recently that I was beside myself.

The way I picture my grief over Eric’s death now is it’s like a room in my head. It’s a room that that I go to now and then.  When I open the door to that room it looks just like it did the day Eric died.  Nothing has changed.  The huge NOOOOOO! is still there.

I thought about Eric every hour of every day for about a year. Then I didn’t.  I remembered him as he was but not as often though that room was still there.  And it still is, though I don’t open that door as often or go into that room as frequently I did years ago.  But, it’s still there.  In my head.

We don’t “get over” losing someone.  This is what we do:

 

1-15-16.png

 

(Via.)

 

 

January 15, 2016 at 8:27 PM 2 comments

I Hate This Way of Describing People Who Die of Cancer

This is how the trashy New York Post announced the death of Celine Dion’s husband, Rene Angelil:

Céline Dion’s husband René Angélil loses battle with cancer

 

It isn’t just a rag like the New York Post that frames the death of a cancer patient this way, it’s common; it’s everywhere:  The patient lost the so-called “battle.”

The implication is that the cancer patient didn’t fight hard enough, that maybe the person was weak or gave up. So unfair and so unrealistic. It’s cancer for god sake.  Is that a disease we routinely “win” a battle with?  No.  It’s as preposterous as a headline announcing that my husband “lost his battle with hydrocephalus” after his fall.  He did everything he could to live but the hydrocephalus (fluid) caused his brain to die as it slowly filled his skull and crushed his brain tissue.  How in the hell was Dan supposed to “battle” that?  Likewise with Mr. Angelil.  He cancer cells were dividing and spreading.  How was he supposed to “battle” that?  Physical things happen that kill people.  There’s no “battling” them.

Anyway, rest in peace Rene Angelil.  Sorry about the idiotic headline.

 

 

 

January 15, 2016 at 4:50 PM 1 comment

Ah Yes, the Wisdom of Babes

Watch the delightful Justin Lane, who can’t be more than ten or 11, give a most sensitive, sweet review of West Side Story:

What a great kid.

(Via.)

January 3, 2016 at 3:59 PM 3 comments

Christmas

This made me smile:

Via TataSky on YouTube.

December 25, 2015 at 8:22 AM 2 comments

It’s Christmas Eve and My Husband’s Dead

Dan w:John

It’s Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow marks the five-month anniversary of Dan’s death.

I remember Christmas Eves past.  We’d tease about opening presents early.  Sometimes we did and sometimes didn’t.  Sometimes we had a fancy meal and sometimes we didn’t.  Sometimes we stayed up late and sometimes we didn’t.

No matter what we did, I remember going to bed knowing he and I and the dogs were tucked in our bed, safe and sound with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.

I remember making ham and potatoes au gratin with lots of mustard and Gruyere.

I remember knowing we’d take the dogs for a walk no matter how icy or windy it was because Dan insisted.  They were good dogs and they deserved it he said (and he was right).

I remember Dan enjoying the lights on our living room wreath — and that warming my heart.

I remember stroking his hair then and this summer when I wheeled him around the nursing home grounds in May and June.

I remember how he hugged my leg with his arm when I stood next to his wheelchair seven days before he died when I found him folded over at the waist because he couldn’t hold his torso up anymore.

Back then, at least, Dan was alive.  ALIVE!  I could smell him. I could touch him.  I could see him. I could kiss him.  I could tell him I loved him.  I could hold him.  I could feel his warmth and send him mine.

Now Dan is dead.  His life on this Earth over.  It will never be again.

Dan didn’t want to be dead at 64.

Its Christmas Eve and I’m numb.  Frozen in grief.  Empty.  Hollowed out. Almost immobile.  I’m walking through life like a zombie.  I send a card here and there.  I wave at a neighbor…thanking them for caring…hoping they know how much I appreciate their support but only having enough energy to do that wave.

I’m looking forward to January 1.  At least the first “holiday season” without Dan will be over by then.  Maybe the New Year will bring some relief.

I love you Dan. I’ll love you forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 24, 2015 at 8:40 PM 7 comments

Mr. Al Surveying The Scene

One of my two dogs, Mr. Al, looking out the front window this morning with the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the background.

Mr. Al is sweet; very interactive, kind, sensitive.  Not a mean bone in his body.

Al Looking Out Window.png

December 9, 2015 at 12:07 PM Leave a comment

If You Know Someone Who’s Grieving

12-2-14

It’s going on five months since my dear Dan died.  The five month anniversary will be December 25.

One of the most educational experiences of my journey through grief thus far has been to realize how utterly unprepared we are to talk about death, dying and the grieving process that follows. Death happens to all of us and almost everyone of a certain age (say, 50?) has had someone close to them die.  That has been so since the beginning of time.  It’s really something that our society or even our species hasn’t developed some sort of wisdom that’s passed down through the ages regarding how to be with someone who is experiencing grief.  After all, again, almost every human being has experienced it and obviously, every human being will die.  It is the one certainty we all share.  We should be good at this.  But we aren’t.

Here’s a brief tip – and I don’t think it applies just to the holidays – we can tuck into a corner of our brain to use when needed. It comes from the blog, Widower’s Grief:

For friends who are grieving, the best gift you can give is to not insist that they be happy.

They can’t set their grief aside just because it’s the holidays. But you can invite them to your party, and allow them to sit on the side, enjoy the music and the banter of conversations without taking part, and leave when they need to go.

The gift of the holidays is compassion. No special wrapping required.

And if you know someone who’s grieving, call them.  Call them twice a week.  For a year.  See if they’ll let you do their shopping or take their dog for a walk or vacuum. The grieving person is exhausted because grieving is exhausting.  Little chores take a tremendous amount of energy.

Sit and visit.  Often.  For a year.  Let them talk.  Their grief will change.  They need someone to talk to during all its stages.  Don’t stop paying attention after a month or two.

You might think oh, they’ve got lots of friends, I don’t want to bother them.  Well, you’d be surprised.  Chances are their “lots of friends” are people who don’t know what to do or say so in reality, your grieving friend might only have one or two people who do know what do, who are paying attention and/or who have experienced deep grief themselves.  Maybe none of their friends know what to say or do.  Maybe they’re all alone save for a support group they joined that meets once a month or something.

Bear that little ditty in mind and don’t try to make a friend’s grief “go away.”  Nobody and no thing can cause that to happen.  Grief is a thing that has to be walked right smack through the middle of, and friends who are simply with you make all the difference.

December 8, 2015 at 4:26 PM 5 comments

Birds

Four or five weeks ago I heard a flock of geese flying south over my street while I was walking the dogs.  I secretly marveled at their ability to know when to leave their summer home and to know where to go when they did.  I imagined them flying south from Canada over my house in Colorado to a place to the south, along Texas’ Gulf coast maybe?  (I need to research it so I’ll know.)

Roughly a year ago I read an article about how crows — yes the not-so-lowly-after-all crow — remember people who are nice or mean to them.  And I’ve been thinking off and on about how little credit we give creatures such as birds…always assuming, of course, that we are so superior to them.

That said, I took a screen shot of this quote by Peter Matthiessen a while back.  I wanted to put it up to remind myself to learn more about birds, and to continue to honor and respect the strength and wisdom that’s inherent in the beings around us, even the tiniest ones.

Love This

December 3, 2015 at 7:12 PM 7 comments

Grief

Today is my 63rd birthday.  It’s my first birthday without my beloved Dan since I was 17.

September 21, 2015 at 7:50 PM 4 comments

Dragon Fly

Look at this beautiful dragon fly I found lying in the grass when I was in the backyard picking up dog poop this afternoon.  He/she looks sort of old…the tips of the wings are worn…so I hope he or she just died of old age.  As always, Mother Nature did a great job with this color combination…blue and brown and the clear area on the wings looks a little like lace.

Dragon Fly

August 23, 2015 at 4:59 PM Leave a comment

What a Pair

The demeanor of this dog and his owner are the same, sort of, “What the heck you lookin’ at?”

Love it.

(Via.)

August 13, 2015 at 5:11 PM Leave a comment

Dan Alan Vowell

My husband for 38 wonderful, wonderful years, Dan Alan Vowell

April 23, 1951 – July 25, 2015

DanDan’s obituary is here.

July 29, 2015 at 8:29 PM 4 comments

Boulder Manor — Stay Away! Do Not Put Your Loved One in Boulder Manor

I will be expanding on this in the days and weeks to come but suffice it to say:

On April 47, my husband of 37 years was transferred from Boulder Foothills Hospital (Boulder, Colorado) to Boulder Manor nursing home for rehabilitation (remember that word) after a fall and a bout with what was first thought to be a UIT, but turned out to be an overall infection.  All in all, he was in the hospital for 10 days.

The doc at the hospital waved goodbye to me and my husband — who then lived at an assisted living place — he said my hubby would return to “his normal” again, after rehabilitation, i.e., be able to dress himself, feed himself, bathe, toilet and feed himself, go on walks, use the telephone, take public transportation (unassisted) to an exercise class at the local YMCA three times a week, go to University of Colorado football games, to Colorado Rockies baseball games, do his own laundry and visit with friends and family.  Yeah, he has/had dementia but you wouldn’t necessarily know it if you ran into him.

Anyway, when he was being discharged from the hospital the nurse asked me which “rehabilitation” facility I’d like my hubby to go to.  I said Boulder Manor because it’s about four miles from my house.  So, off to Boulder Manor he went.  I’ll get into the appalling details soon but suffice it to say, I had a terrible feeling about the place the instant I walked in that April 27th afternoon.  Things have only gone down hill from there and this Medicare.gov website I came across today confirms my gut feeling about the so-called treatment he’s getting there.  Check out its ranking of Boulder Manor:

Boulder Manor via Medicare.gov

Image via Medicare.gov

Overall, one star out of five.

My other option was ManorCare, about seven or eight miles from my house.  It’s rated five of five stars:

ManorCare via Medicare.gov

Image via Medicare.gov

I wanted to get this post up right away as I was shocked to see that there could be such a difference in the quality of care between two nursing homes in the same town, just miles apart.

Don’t be an idiot like me.  Don’t pick a place to put your loved one in based on how many miles it is from your house!  Even when faced with a nurse who has to make a quick decision, take your time and do some research.  As you’ll hear from me in the coming weeks, a snap decision isn’t worth it.

A place like Boulder Manor has a top down culture.  The nurses and aides aren’t to blame.  They try.  If you care about your loved one, know that Boulder Manor’s management doesn’t.

June 1, 2015 at 6:30 PM 2 comments

A Must See: Nikon Small World Photo Competition

The Ocean Under a Microscope

Take a look at the gorgeous images from the Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.

One — just one — of my faves.  Wow.  Beautiful:

Nikon Small World competititon

Glassy Radiolarian Beauty The shells of radiolarians rank among some of the treasures of the ocean, with their intricate, gorgeous geometry. The shells are made of silica, which protects the single-celled animals as they drift as zooplankton in the ocean. This image, taken at 120x zoom, was an honorable mention in the 2012 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.  Credit: Ralph Claus Grimm / Nikon Small World

May 14, 2015 at 3:22 PM 1 comment

A Colorado Spring Day in the ICU

My sweet hubby just spent two days in the ICU.  Wednesday morning he fell — for the third time — straight back and split his head open.  This time, for the first time, he had blood in his brain.  It’s a very bad situation but after a bazillion tests over the course of three hospitalizations, no one knows what’s causing the falls other than that he has dementia and his brain “isn’t working right” so maybe it’s kicking out for a second or two here and there.

He was discharged this morning with orders to use a walker and to wear a helmet (like this one, which I just ordered) “any time he isn’t walking on carpeting,” which is pretty much all the time.  (We’re going to “personalize” the helmet with decals to “make it his,” so hopefully he’ll wear it with pride (knock-on-wood — God I hope so!).)

Anyway, this is the view he had from his room:

View from Dan's Hospital Room 4:15

Not bad, huh?

No, the hospital isn’t in the middle of nowhere.  It’s smack dab in the middle of Boulder, Colorado (pop. just over 100,000), but it’s situated on land next to a wildlife area.  A stream runs underneath those Cottonwood trees and birds galore live in the area, as do coyotes.

It was a snowy day today and the Rocky Mountains are partially obscured by clouds but I still think it’s a view that would make me (and hopefully my dear one) be happy to be alive.  (Oh, and I love the contrasting brown of the dried grass from last year.)

April 17, 2015 at 6:07 PM Leave a comment

Dementia: Needles to the Heart

Robin Williams via Wikipedia

Robin McLaurin Williams July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014. (Image via Wikipedia.)

My husband called me just now and excitedly announced that — as if, surely, I didn’t know — Robin Williams died.

I said yeah, I knew.  What I didn’t say was that it’s been almost a year.

He said something like, “Oh, it’s so hard to tell you something you don’t already know.”  Again, I didn’t tell him it’s been almost a year.

Sixty second events like this happen every day when living with someone with dementia.

One learns to shake their head (without showing it) and to cry silent tears.

It’s like needles to the heart.  There’s no escaping what’s happening to my loved one’s brain.

April 8, 2015 at 7:56 PM 2 comments

People Need Bees More Than Bees Need People

I was walking the pups around the block this afternoon when i came across a neighbor who was spraying something along the sidewalk-edge of his front yard.  He was nice enough to tell me he was spraying weed killer so I pulled the dogs into the street and we walked by.

Summary: A very nice, seemingly intelligent neighbor spends money on a toxic spray, he sprays it on a soon-to-be unsustainable water-guzzling lawn and he potentially kills bees we need for food production (who are taking nectar from his dandelions).

If we die...via JTToronto on twitter

Image: JTToronto on Twitter

People, think!

April 5, 2015 at 8:02 PM 1 comment

Do Homeless People Go to Heaven?

Homeless people reading mean tweets, via HumansforHumans.ca:

See how the homeless people responded via the link above.

April 4, 2015 at 11:51 AM Leave a comment

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