Rain, Rain, Go Away

So, in the good news department, Mike went to Emory today and was told that his blood counts are back to normal. He has been cleared to go out without a mask on, although he will continue to try to avoid people with colds and flu. He will return to work the week after next, and start going to other activities that he has been avoiding which is practically everything. He had been told that he would be restricted for 100 days after the Big Chemo, and it is now only 58 days. We are very happy about his speedy progress. Next week he goes back to Emory for tests to determine if he is in full remission or not. The hope is that the big dose of Chemo that he got will put him into a prolonged remission. This would be a good time for everyone to continue praying. While you are at it, please also continue to pray for Brenda, Ellis, Carl, Bob, Mario, Mike L., and all the other cancer survivors in Mike’s world. And for everyone else in need of prayer. That would be everybody. Thanks.

You may or not know this, but it is much easier to start a business than to end it. (This is true of marriage as well.) The annoying details are endless. Mike closed his office about 5 months ago, but failed to notify his workman’s compensation carrier. A couple of months later, they sent him a notice that they had cancelled his policy for failure to pay the premium. So Mike called them and explained that he had closed the business, and forgotten to call them to let them know. This week Mike got a letter from them saying that they had reinstated the policy. So, he called and explained, again, that he had closed his business. The person he spoke to explained to him that they had to reinstate the policy so that they could cancel it again. What???

Yesterday Mike watched 3 hours of his 6 hour set of Joseph Campbell being interviewed by Bill Moyers. The interviews were held in 1983-84 not terribly long before Campbell died. He was an expert on mythology, and became famous after the publication of his book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” in 1949. Campbell saw recurring themes in the mythology of peoples from all over the world. He concluded that the stories reflect fundamental truths about the world and about human life. The book isn’t that easy of a read, but Mike is currently reading it, I think, for the third time. Campbell is one of Mike’s heroes, and he has heavily influenced Mike’s thinking. One of the things that Mike has learned through his own experience in life is that everyone has to follow their own path; that what is true for one person is not necessarily true for the next person. Campbell says his advice to everyone is to “Follow your bliss.” Find out what is important to you, what your path in life is to be, and then do it.Robert Frost wrote about taking the less-traveled path, the one that is yours alone to follow. Mike is reading a lot and enjoying it immensely.

Happy Meadows has been a wet, wet place recently. It started raining around 5 o’clock this morning and hasn’t stopped yet, almost 12 hours later. And we had already had 16 inches of rain since the beginning of January. This is putting a crimp in my prowling around the neighborhood. The water is high everywhere around here, and trees are falling over because the soil is so saturated. I hope you all are safe, wherever you live. Not much more to tell right now. So, until next time, be well, be safe, and don’t forget to pray for world peace. So long from Happy Meadows!

It’s Time to Quiet the Silence

So, yesterday Mike and Judy celebrated Valentine’s day. Never mind that the actual day is tomorrow. They celebrated by having a catered meal prepared and delivered by Instead of Flowers, and gifted to them by their good friend, Julie. Judy got out the good table linen and china, and they had dinner by candlelight. They exchanged sweet cards, and the cats gave them cards as well. You may wonder why they celebrated 2 days ahead of time. It all started about a week before Christmas. Mike was scheduled to be in the hospital on Christmas day, so along with Michelle, we celebrated both Christmas and Chanukah week early with a nice meal and exchange of gifts. Next, because he was still in the hospital on New Year’s Day we were unable to have our traditional Hoppin’ John meal, so this was enjoyed 2 or 3 weeks ago. It only seemed right to round things out with an off-calendar Valentine’s Day celebration. A word of advice, though, Mike: You would be wise to hit your wedding anniversary and Judy’s birthday on the nose.

Mike continues to tire easily, but otherwise seems to have no ill effects from his Big Chemo, other than some moderate hair loss. He sees Dr. B. next week, and hopes for a plan to resume more normal activities, including work. He continues to walk every day, a mile or more, and wants to start hitting golf balls when the weather is more permissive. We have had a warm, wet winter, although it did snow steadily for 2 hours Saturday morning. Mike and Judy went out at 2PM for a walk in the snow, but it had almost all melted already. I must admit I enjoyed myself quite a bit in the snow, as typically we get only 1 snowfall per year; and I had started to despair of seeing snow this year. We already are seeing daffodils, and many early flowering shrubs and trees are in bloom. In fact, as I look out the window as I write this I can see the buds on our Japanese Magnolia starting to open. And whenever I go outside I can tell the birds are in love, as they sing their own Valentine’s day tunes to their mates.

So, Mike has entered my blog, “Georgia Cat Speaks!” in the Cat Writers Association Annual Contest, under the category of: Blog, Entertainment and Humor. It would be fun if we win. They announce the winners this summer. I will let you know.

In other writing news, Mike has written the forward to a recently published book called  “#Quieting the Silence: Personal Stories” The book is published by the Blue Dove Foundation, an organization that was created to address the awareness of issues of mental illness and substance abuse in the Jewish community and beyond. Especially with regard to substance abuse there has been communal denial within the Jewish world about the fact that Jews are just as vulnerable to this classification of diseases as any other group of people. “#Quieting the Silence: Personal Stories” contains the personal stories of 20 individuals who courageously share their stories in the interest of helping others who may need help in dealing with their own mental illness, substance abuse, or that of a loved one. It  also contains some resources for people who wish to learn more about these issues, and for how to find help. Anyone who is interested can order the book on Amazon. The Amazon ISBN Number is 9781077509443. For more information visit www.quietthesilence.org or www.TheBlueDoveFoundation.org.

And finally, this is the last I think we will hear from Donald Donck and the Fowl Party. I was down at the Donkle’s pond this morning when I ran into Waldo, now former spokesgoose for the party. He said Donald was disgusted with the raising of only 37 cents from the bottoms of the neighborhood ponds, and he has left Happy Meadows for parts unknown. He didn’t say what his plans were, but I don’t think he will be missed all that much. It won’t be long at all before people and the 4-leggeds and winged ones will be saying Donald Who? Otherwise, not much to report from Happy Meadows. I hope the season of love is kind to all of you. Until next time, be well, be safe, pray for world peace and whatever else moves you; and, so long from Happy Meadows!

 

Before and After

So, I promised to put up before and after pictures of Mike, relating to his recent encounter with Big Brother Chemo. He expected to lose all of his hair, but not so fast, my friend. These aren’t perfectly posed for exact comparison, but you will get the general idea. I have a “before” of Mike’s wayward eyebrows, but no exact follow-up pose. Nevertheless, you will see that his eyebrows remain pretty much intact, possibly a little more civilized.

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Before.

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After.

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Unruly eyebrows (before).

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After.

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This is an “after” photo of Mike and Judy. Are they not adorable?

So, as you can see, Mike is a little thinner on top, and his beard is somewhat motheaten in appearance. He is no longer losing hair, so he hopes to get back to his former self eventually. You will notice that his nose did not get any smaller. You may have also noticed the red mark in the middle of his forehead, what he refers to as his “Mark of Cain.” (See “The Mark of Cain, Feb. 25, 2018.) If Mike wants to glorify himself with a Biblical reference, so be it. In my opinion it is just a hemangioma.

You may also have noticed in the profile pictures that Mike has a rather prominent supraorbital ridge (the bony ridge above his eyebrows) and a somewhat sloping forehead. He credits his 2% Neanderthal ancestry for this feature.  As you may know, the Neanderthal species of humans only disappeared about 40,000 years ago. However, there was sufficient interbreeding between homo neanderthalis and homo sapiens that their genetic remnant persists. Mike thinks that they persisted in mythology as well. He says that the Biblical story of the twins, Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac, tells the story of the smooth man (Jacob, representing h. sapiens) and the hairy man (Esau, representing h. neanderthalis). In this story the smooth man prevails, because he had greater cunning than the hairy man, who was more of a wild man who enjoyed hunting more than tending to flocks of goats and sheep. It is interesting to speculate about this, not that it is provable one way or the other.

So, Mike continues to make good progress. We thank all of you for your continued prayers and love. Have a safe and healthy week, and don’t forget to pray for world peace. So long from Happy Meadows.

World Peace

So, happily enough, Mike continues on his adventure in cancer recovery in a good way. He says he never imagined he would feel this good only 5 1/2 weeks after his bone marrow transplant. We are grateful to all of you for your support, love, and prayers. Thank you.

So, on January 23 in my post entitled “Charmingly Goofy,” I suggested that we all pray for world peace, and that if everyone did it daily, it would surely come about. I also said that Mike and I have been praying for world peace ever since he was in the hospital, but that I wasn’t sure how we got started. Well, now I know. Mike had started reading while he was in the hospital a book by Marcus Borg, a liberal theologian in the Episcopal church.  The name of the book is Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of Mark, Morehouse Publishing, 2009. It is one of the books given to Mike by Brenda T. after her husband and Mike’s dear friend Warren T. died almost 2 years ago (The Kaddish, April 1, 2018). Mike started to read it but his eyes were burning after a few days from Brother Chemo, so he had to stop at that time. He just finished it this morning, and now we remember where the idea of world peace came from. Dr. Borg says that in his view the Kingdom of God referred to life here on earth. I will quote a passage from his book (pp 28-29).

“The kingdom of God is about the transformation of life in this world–of individual lives and of the world itself. It is ‘the dream of God’ for the earth, to echo the title of a recent book. (Verna J. Dozier, The Dream of God: A Call to Return, New York: Seabury Classics, 2006) Grounded in the Jewish Bible, God’s dream–God’s will, God’s passion–is a transformed world. The two main features of God’s dream are justice and peace. Justice means distributive justice–everybody should have enough of God’s earth, not as the result of charity but as the product of justice, namely, the way the world is put together. The other primary feature is peace–a world in which to echo Isaiah and Micah, the instruments of war become implements of agriculture: the nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nation shall not make war against nation anymore. (Isa 2:4, Mic 4:1-4).”

Making peace requires the letting go of resentments, of wrongs, real or imagined, suffered by individuals, families, tribes, and nations. These are not problems experienced by cats, so I have to rely on Mike about this. He says people won’t give up their resentments until they are convinced that the cost of holding on to them outweighs the price of letting them go. It’s a lot like giving up an addiction. As long as the addict thinks he derives more power than pain from his/her drug or behavior of choice, he/she is not ready to stop. And the cost can’t be material, it has to be spiritual, at the core of one’s being. Logically, then, in order to achieve world peace everyone would have to “hit bottom” at the same time, and be ready to be transformed into a new personal space. This seems highly unlikely, and could only happen in my view as the result of the power of prayer. I see no harm in trying. We encourage you to join us.

Another Brief Update

So, not too much to report, but I don’t want too much time to go by without your hearing from the Georgia Cat. Mike continues to heal. He is now 34 days post-transplant, and feels remarkably well. The last 2 nights he stayed up until 10PM. This is progress. Also, his hair has stopped falling out. We have before and after pictures, and will put them up as soon as we figure out how to do it.

In other news, we learned from the Fowl Party spokesgoose, Waldo, that he recently learned that they need a fundraising process in order to run a successful campaign. Talk about an amateur! So, they marshalled all the Happy Meadows ducks and geese to dive to the bottom of all the ponds in our area, and managed to retrieve 37 cents from the muck. Their candidate, Donald Donck is discouraged, and may pull out before he even has decided what office he was going to run for. I will let you know once Waldo sends out a press release. I had mentioned earlier that in my opinion, Happy Meadows could use a grammarian, and he could run unopposed for that seat. I am not interested in running for it, even though I am well-qualified, if I do say so myself. We shall see.

I wish I had more to say, but no news is usually a good thing. You shall hear from me soon. Until then, be well, be safe, and be sure to pray for world peace. So long from Happy Meadows.

Charmingly Goofy

So, Mike continues to tire easily, but otherwise is not feeling too badly, really. He has gone most of the day thinking that it is Wednesday, but now is reoriented to it being Thursday. That could happen to anyone who is not working. The days all seem the same. He has been pretty lazy today and did not walk his mile. Hopefully, he will go out tomorrow and get back on track. He finished reading Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl today, a book by Harriet Jacobs. It is the first slave narrative written by a woman. Michelle got him a special edition that followed the book with a series of essays dealing with various aspects of the story, including an essay by Michelle’s mentor, the late Nellie McCay. Mike is doing research for a book that I hope he writes. I will let you know if he drags his feet on the project. He has not let on exactly what he has in mind, so for now this will remain a mystery.

The weather guy on the 5 o’clock news today used the word “uniformitivity” in describing the similarity of current temperatures in the television viewing area. Sometimes the invention of new words serves a purpose. But I think “uniformity” already exists as a word, and must mean the exact same thing as “uniformitivity.” Hopefully, his producer will discourage further neologisms.

We got some positive comments from relatives who enjoyed my stories about Mike’s mother, Bernice. One of them described her as charmingly goofy. Mike says that fits, and he appreciated the phrase. Mike says he is going to enter one of my posts from 2019 in the Cat Writers Association annual contest in the category of “blog: humor and entertainment.” I’m not sure which blog he will use. If any of you have a suggestion please let us know. The deadline for entry is February 14. Mike won an award a few years ago from the Georgia Writers Association for my grandfather’s Autobiography of a Georgia Cat. So maybe he can get another award, even if he relies on his feline companions to do most of the creative work.

So, I have a suggestion. I want everyone in the world to pray for world peace. If everyone does so, it could happen. And why wouldn’t anyone embrace the idea of world peace? It’s worth a try. Mike and I have been doing it consistently every day since he went into the hospital a month ago. I’m not sure how we got started on this, but it feels right. I know many of you are already doing this. But I mean everyone, every day, pray for world peace. With that much prayer energy generated, I think people will act differently and learn to make compromises. This goes along with our meditative words for today: hope, love, compassion, and forgiveness. Well, that’s all today from Happy Meadows. Be safe, be well, and be at peace. Bye, bye!

A Setback for the English Language

So, Mike has been home for 10 days, and overall, he is doing very well. The shedding of hair has slowed down, and I’m starting to think he may not lose all of his hair after all. Time will tell. I will keep you posted on all developments.

The big local news is the changing of the Home of the Atlanta Braves from Sun Trust Park to Truist Park. When the Braves moved to Cobb County and built a new stadium,  Sun Trust Bank bought the naming rights for a lot of money. Last year they merged with another big bank, BB & T, and renamed their company Truist. I’m sure they paid a PR company a lot of money to come up with that name, but they clearly overspent, as the name is just pain dumb. Steve Hummer, a sportswriter for the Atlanta newspaper said it was a “setback for the English language.” I have tried to apply logic to how this ridiculousness happened, and it occurred to me that in trying to inspire confidence that the merger is a good thing they started with the word “Trust.” They then, for reasons not immediately clear, tried to modify or improve on it by adding a letter. They could have added an “h” and come up with “Thrust.” Or added a “y” to produce “Trusty.” Or they could have changed the “u” to a “y” and they would have had “Tryst.” Or they could have made an anagram of trust and called themselves “Strut.” If they were stuck on adding an “i” they had other options on where they could put it, to wit, “I Trust,” “Tirust,” “Triust,” “Trusit,” or my favorite, “Trusti.” Considering the amount of money it will cost to do all the name changing, including all the signage at the ball park, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the company, if for no other reason that the name is so stupid. But nobody asked me.

In other big news, Spoiled Donald is getting himself ready for his impeachment trial. I’m no expert on all of this, but I do know that he has gone out of his way to piss people off ever since the campaign, and what I do know is what goes around, comes around. I don’t see any winners in all of this.

We have had an unusually warm winter. Our camellias are already blooming, 6 weeks ahead of schedule. And after a year of below average rainfall, it has been raining cats and dogs, so to speak. I have heard competing theories about this odd idiom. One is that the drainage of English streets was so poor in Victorian times that the outdoor cats and dogs would drown in the flood after a heavy rain. I hope this isn’t true, and I doubt if it is. Another theory, also from Victorian England, is that cats and dogs often slept outside on the roofs at night, and would be washed off in a heavy downpour. Better, but I’m not convinced. It’s funny how many idioms there are that make no sense if you think about them.

The Fowl Party here in Happy Meadows is having some internal friction about what issues they want to run on. They could break up before they ever really get started. Waldo, their spokesgoose, promised to hold a news conference in the next few days. I can hardly wait.

This coming Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. It is a good time to reflect on what values you would be willing to die for. Give it some thought. I’m sure Dr. King did.

Well, that’s what’s happening now in Happy Meadows. Thanks to all of you for the love and prayers, without which we would not be doing nearly as well, I am certain. We love and pray for all of you as well. Bye, bye.

 

 

 

Nothing strange here

So, we have been home for 5 days, and it is starting to feel normal again. I am getting out and making my neighborhood rounds. A few people and cats noticed that I hadn’t been around. Some of the people had heard that Mike was sick and in the hospital, but no one believed that I had been there with him the whole time. Mike is doing amazingly well. He tends to tire out easily, and  his hair is falling out and getting all over everything. That is probably compliments of Brother Chemo. If he goes bald I will post a picture. It will be weird to see him without a beard. He says he grew it in 1967, shaved the following year, but immediately grew it back. So basically, 53 years. Mike says he grew it his senior year in medical school. Dean Grove told him he had to shave it before graduation, but Mike was rebellious (imagine that), and didn’t do it. It’s a good thing he didn’t need a recommendation from the college for anything after he graduated.

Mike got to sharing stories about his mother with us one day in the hospital. The first has to do with her father who was very strict and very much a prude. When Bernice was a teenager she had a get-together at home, and the kids were playing a game. It was a guessing game in which one person would think up a thing, or an activity, and the other kids would ask for clues. The name of the game was “coffee pot.” When a kid would ask for a clue the phrase “coffee pot” was substituted for the actual thing or activity. On one occasion, Bernice’s father had just walked into the room when someone asked, “Do you coffee pot standing up or sitting down?” Her father made everyone go home.

Mike was a witness to an incident when they went over to visit a cousin, Ronnie H.  When they arrived, Ronnie shared some good news with them. Bernice said it made her want to jump for joy. Then she suggested that everyone jump for joy together. Ronnie said he did not want to jump for joy, and Mike declined as well. So Bernice jumped for joy, solo. You may have heard that white men can’t jump. Well, the same applies to white women in their mid-seventies. Mike says she got about 1/2 inch off the ground, tops.

The next 2 stories came from cousin Barbie who was a witness. Mike’s mother had strange ideas about what clothes she looked good in, and it drove some of her cousins wild. She would never wear anything that her father wouldn’t approve of.  For the last 15 years of her father’s life they lived together. Cousin Harriette took Bernice shopping one day, and they came home with clothes other than the white pants, white blouse, and white jacket that she customarily wore. Barbie had stopped by just as they returned home. Bernice put on a fashion show for her father. She went into the bedroom, put on a new outfit, and came out twirling around and asking, “What do you think, Pa?” He would make a face and say he didn’t like each outfit as it was paraded in front of him. Harriette was disgusted, and Barbie didn’t think she had seen anything quite that funny in a long time. Needless to say, everything was returned, and Harriette never offered to take Bernice shopping again.

Once Mike’s grandfather had a skin cancer removed from the top of his head. He couldn’t stop picking at it. Bernice fashioned a cone-shaped cap out of aluminum foil and taped it to the top of his head. To say that it looked silly would be an understatement. This was also witnessed by cousin Ronnie.

The last story for today comes from meal time. Every time grandpa ate it would cause his nose to run. So he would dig at his nose as though he hoped to find gold inside. This habit drove Bernice crazy. One day Mike was there and the performance began. She said ,”Pa, what is it with you? Why do you have to dig at your nose?” To which grandpa responded, “If it was your nose you would know.”  It just goes to show that no matter how much people love each other if they spend too much time together they can get on each other’s nerves. One amusing aspect of all this strangeness, according to Mike, is that Bernice and her father would frequently talk with each other about other people’s peculiarities.

So I suppose you have strange people in your family as well, yourself not included. It helps keep life entertaining, and we, hopefully, learn not to take ourselves too seriously. That’s all today from Happy Meadows. Be safe, be well, and you be the one to decide if you want to coffee pot standing up or sitting down.

Home again, home again, Jiggidy Jig

So, Mike and I came home today a day earlier than expected. His transfused bone marrow cells have engrafted, and are now making white and red blood cells and platelets, enough that it was safe to let him come home. Mike, Judy, and I all fell asleep when we got home, and I for one, remain pooped. I will have a lot more to share in the coming days, but wanted to let you know the good news. Sholom from Happy Meadows!

Positive signs

So, Mike continues to make good progress. It looks like his bone marrow is stating to produce cells. The estimated discharge date is Wednesday. Thanks for all your love and prayers.

We continue to get signs from the universe.Several weeks ago Judy saw a lady in church who reminded her very much of Mike’s mother. Mike told her it was his mother at work comforting them. I agree. Then one day Judy saw 7 hawks driving home from the hospital. The following day we saw 3 hawks from Mike’s window. As I have mentioned before, the hawk is Mike’s spirit animal.Another good sign. Today Mike heard  a knock on his door. A gentleman came in who was the spitting image of Mike’s late sponsor, Don B. Another sign from the universe that Mike has spiritual energy on his side. The fellow was a volunteer chaplain from Jewish Family services.

We had a wedding on our unit today. Another sign of hope.

So, I will keep it brief today. Thanks for all the love and prayers you are generating on our behalf. We love you all.