your majesty

 

I never was a passenger on the Downton Abbey train. That’s why my addiction to The Crown on Netflix puzzled me. I viewed two entire seasons in 3 or 4 days. I enjoyed the history and I was forever fact-checking details of the series:  Winston Churchill, WWII, the Great Smog of London, and the Suez Canal.

 

the crown
photo Netflix

 

 

I was also fascinated with the pomp, tradition, royal crimson carriages, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, horses, Dukes, Duchesses, crowns and corgi-dogs. Like most Americans, it’s not in my DNA to comprehend royalty. I only understand it dimly as a snotty kid with nose pressed to glass. I don’t ‘get it’. Oh….and the titles and rituals involved with meeting royalty:  ***curtsy***  ‘Her Royal Majesty, the Queen”, ***only offer your hand if she offers hers***back away slowly when conversation is over***. I devoured the coronation episode with the dress and the official portrait and Westminster Abbey and Prince Phillip and trumpets and the CROWN. Breathe out. Guess I don’t have to fully understand the monarchy to realize they are something pretty darn special.

Today, another type of royalty entered Jerusalem. He didn’t come in a gilded carriage, or on the back of a sleek, black war-horse. He wasn’t adorned with velvet robes and he did not sport a jeweled headdress. He entered Jerusalem on a……donkey? A lowly ass?

 

donkey1
photo courtesy Audrey Moore

 

Still, the people lined the thoroughfare with their precious garments. ‘Hooray, Hooray!! Salvation is here! Salvation belongs to the King! Let all the angels sing hooray, for Salvation is here!!’ Their joy so overflowed they cut palm branches and waved them gleefully in the air.

Would I have clapped my hands and joined the crowd in shouting ‘Hosanna!’ that morning? Would I sheepishly follow behind? Would I bring a friend to join the happy parade, or would I hide in the shadows? Would I recognize Jesus or would I knowingly size him up as another carnival-barker? Is my face lined with weariness of years waiting for a Savior? What is this ‘living water’ and why should I give a damn? I don’t have time for this! Who IS he?

palm sunday

Oh….I go to church and I sing in choir and I try to do good things. But, what does that stranger on the back of a humble donkey mean to me TODAY?  Do I act like a new creation because I claim to know Him?

 

donkey2
photo courtesy Audrey Moore

 

I don’t have any pat answers. I continue to wrestle. This seems like an excellent week to ponder the questions.

Hope your Holy Week is inspiring.

Royal-love to all.

 

chronic love

Chronic:  long lasting and difficult to eradicate. Persisting for a long time or constantly reoccurring.

I had four appointments with physicians/specialists last week. My old-lady-thinning-hair is even scarcer and grayer. My shoulders are affixed to my ears and I’m trying to unclench my fists. A couple of highlights:

Doctor #1 “How’s your mood?” She insisted I must take an anti-depressant because of my battle with chronic (there’s that word again!!) pain. I told her the last anti-depressant I tried caused my hands to shake uncontrollably. “Let’s try another one!” OK, I’m trying. My hands are shaking. **sigh** Maybe this will pass. The doctor was perfectly lovely and sympathetically communicated what a good job she thought I was doing with all my chronic (damn word!) diagnosis. Oh yeah, she’s sending me to a neurologist. Good times.

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Doc #2, a good friend, is helping my dry eyes improve. I’m having BIG blood draws and they are spinning the plasma into therapeutic drops for my eyes. That’s right…..blood eye drops! How cool is that?

plasma eye drops

The last blood draw was a bonafied vampire cocktail. 25 vials of blood. My right arm spigot coughed up dust after 18 vials. My over-achieving left arm rallied for the last 7. Phlebotomist: “Does it hurt?” After 10 vials, I requested a squeegee for my purple, sweating face.

Doc #3-the cardiologist. My least favorite, most blood-pressure-popping doctor’s office. No matter what time your appointment, you are greeted with the dreaded long check-in line.

line

Wait, wait, gaze at waiting room TV, wait, wait. Do I hear my name? Score!! Get called back and put in room. Blood pressure, temp and EKG. Wait, wait, look at phone. Med student comes in to take your history and ask about today’s problem. Wait, wait, thoughtlessly pick nose and boom, in strides the confident doctor. Asks a few questions, the most ironic is….“Is your fast heartbeat concerning to you?” Not really doc, I just adore visiting your office and navigating this maze to enter the Holy of Holies and gaze upon your godlike face ’cause I have nothing else to do! **sigh again**

Got hooked up to a heart monitor for a week. Opened the instructions upon returning home.

heart model

These photos of the ‘heart-monitor-model’ piqued my curiosity.

heart model1

Wonder how many offensive linemen wore these in the Super Bowl? Don’t NOBODY wanna see a picture of a typical heart monitor patient.

 

kathywmonitor
Proud to be keeping the hell in healthcare!

 

After having irregular heart rhythms for a year….every day!…not one peep out of my heart for the 5 days I’ve worn this device.

Doc #4-the pain doctor. Got up early for my long-anticipated and long-ago-booked appointment to have my sympathetic nerve block (for my bum leg) and a spinal injection for chronic (you guessed it!) back pain. Texan drove me to the clinic and was to be my chauffeur home. We arrived to a dark and locked clinic. Waited. Called. Waited. Called the answering service. Answering service said they should be there. Waited 30 minutes and then left. No back injections today.

I’m truly grateful for my docs and they seem genuinely sincere. Since there’s no easy answer or ‘cure’ for what ails me, doc visits are frustrating and tear-inducing. We’re all doing our best, I suppose. I may have to call a ‘time-out’ on doctor visits for a while. Spend more time brushing my horse.

Today I’m meditating on Jeremiah 31:3- Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you. 

Sometimes I feel chronically frustrated. My life….my health….it’s a hot mess right now. Just when things seem on an even footing, there’s a mudslide. Makes me remember my Mom’s favorite saying, “That’s the way things are when you’re headin’ West”.

In the midst of my chaos, my uncertainty, and my brokenness….God loves me with an everlasting love. A chronic love. It ain’t goin’ nowhere.  That’s God’s healthcare plan. It’s already been purchased and there’s no copay.

Let’s keep givin’ them hell-thcare!

Chronic love to all.

broken hallelujah

k5

For 14 weeks I’ve employed this walking aid.

Or this one.

k3And sometimes this one.

k1

Is it possible to proclaim any hallelujahs for the Christmas season with my pitiful metatarsal? Can I fa-la-la-la-laaaaa in the whirlwind issues inflamed by entombing my lower leg in a black neoprene and plastic shell? What am I learning from my grand cavalcade of walking aids?

k6People are kind. (My tennis team went to Dallas without me, but they remembered me with these cool flowers!)

k2

It’s possible to drive a 4-wheeler with a boot and getting a horse kiss is good for the soul. Doxy begs to differ.

k4Discovered a friend who shares my ambition to marry Gus.

k8Never underestimate the soul-calming properties of a butterfly. Better than Xanax. The Amarillo Botanical Garden is a peaceful respite on a cloudy, autumn day. Knee-scooter friendly, too!

k7Some people wear jeans at least a size too small. No matter….grateful for her help. No way I could do yard work!

k10My grand is a fantastic artist. He draws ’em as he sees ’em.

k11A succulent makes a fine Christmas tree.
Sprout #2 is a gem. She cheerfully assisted in getting me into the grandsprouts’ Christmas activities. Never let on like I was a bit of trouble. She even allowed me to sing with the piano man at her party. Crikes!

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I’m upright now and ever-so-slowly rehabbing. Grateful for the boot, knee-scooter and wheelchair because they’ve unearthed a certain beauty in brokenness. I’m still learning the humble lesson of needing another and accepting help with gratitude. For each and every walking aid, praying-partner, yard-tidier, meal-maker, phone-encourager, yoga-stretcher, mri-taker, pill-dispenser, wheelchair-pusher, and Sprout-cheerleader I lift my palms and shout a broken hallelujah this Christmas.

Do you have some broken hallelujahs to raise to the Christ-child? Offering them would create a gift more priceless than frankincense, gold and myrrh, if you ask me.

k13

Banging my drum of gratitude for you and for this season. Wishing you a most blessed Christmas. Thanks so much for reading.

Proud-but-gimpy love to all.

 

good girl

‘Just be a good girl, won’t you?’  ‘C’mon….why aren’t you being a good girl?’  ‘It’ll all be over soon, if you’re a good girl.’

Try not to let things get too heavy here on the blog, but today I’m angry. I feel positively possessed to pen this social commentary. As always, you don’t have to agree and your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Watched a movie over the weekend….Wind River. The movie’s topic is incredibly timely, as every day we witness sordid revelations about sexual harassment/abuse/rape of women. As the movie demonstrates, misogyny is a sin easily tolerated.

Every women who has lived into her sixth decade has stories. Tales of the too-friendly uncle whose octopus-y hugs lasted uncomfortably long. The condescending professor who made inappropriate remarks concerning your looks. Your friend’s husband who propositioned you at a Christmas party while she was in the next room. A co-worker you actively avoided in the office break room. It’s was a fact of life and a good girl rolls with it.

I’ve definitely got my #MeToo stories. I remember being a freshman in college in 1974. It was my first week at school and I attended (solo) a welcome mixer on campus. The nightmare ends with me narrowly escaping this menacing horn-dog’s dorm room. I was lucky to not be his rape victim. I was 17. I don’t remember any talk on campus of reporting behavior like his. I was young, overwhelmed and I didn’t know a damn thing. My hair stands on end today as I wonder how many women this overzealous brut might have abused. Perhaps his next target didn’t escape. My ‘head-in-the-sand’ ostrich behavior was wrong. I didn’t rock the boat. I was a good girl.

The dramas swirling the headlines today have the same basic plot:  gross abuse of power. It’s the movie mogul who systematically and repeatedly harasses women who star or want to act in his movies. He’s not content to simply abuse females, but he has the cash to hire lawyers to smear them and destroy their careers if they out him. This continues for years….other people know this is happening….very well-connected people, and no one says a bleepin’ thing! We can even hear this beast’s voice on tape cajoling his victim, ‘Oh….come on. Be a good girl. Don’t embarrass me in this hotel!’ Pervert.

It’s a former President abusing power by indulging his fancy for a certain White House intern. Don’t talk to me about it being consensual sex. That doesn’t alter the fact of the unbelievable imbalance of power in this sick relationship. Conjuring images of this young women crouching under the oval office desk servicing the President while he is on the phone, doesn’t speak of his undying commitment and respect for women. Hindsight is teaching us about this President and his pattern of abusing women through his early days as governor right through his ascension to the White House. Other people knew and other people did nothing. The young lady did nothing until she was forced to speak three years later. The media attacked her like rabid, hungry wolves. God bless her and I hold no ill-will of her, but was she a good girl? I think so.

It’s the actors, members of Congress (both parties!) and elite businessmen who abuse their female staff. Men who think it’s OK and perfectly reasonable to ask a woman to attend a meeting while they are in their underwear, or getting out of the shower or seriously in need of a massage. These are the power-crazed good-time-boys who want what they want when they want it:  anytime with no questions asked. The good girls are sucked in by promises of promotions or well-connected friendships or their own ignorance. Our current President has issues with his, ‘Grab em by the p***y!’ remarks. Hugh Hefner died recently. I say ‘good riddance’. Could never understand how placing a puffy rabbit tail on the backside of a female elevated her.

I’m not a feminist. I have no kinship to the women who identify as feminists. I feel the feminist movement is more about promoting a political agenda than it is about protecting the rights of all women. Feminists today only seem interested in protecting women of a certain political persuasion. Don’t believe me? Ask Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann or Sharyl Attkisson.

The only hope for solving this problem? We must make it safe for women to speak out against the horn-dogs. Not a year later. Not 5 years later. Not 40 years later, when the accusations can be chalked up to changing political or social ambitions.

I wish I could kick that college horn-dog in the nuts right now. I wish I had mustered the courage to tell every overly hand-sy guy to back off. I wish I had confidently proclaimed, ‘Your behavior is inappropriate.‘ Seems simple enough.

I want to teach my grand daughters it’s ok to be the outspoken girl. The ‘problem’ girl. The young lady who speaks truth to power. The girl who refuses to be harassed or abused. The girl who won’t trade on her looks. The girl unafraid to be accused of being a word rhyming with ‘witch’. A girl who believes and supports her friend when she returns from a date with a bloody lip and a black eye.

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Change is coming. The good girl needs to go.

 

 

dry cry

The last weeks/months remind me of this previous blog post. The post discusses my recurrent fevers of unknown origin and joint pain with a flavorful dash of Roxy Doxy and the Texan thrown in for interesting spice.

https://onachickenwingandaprayer.com/2013/09/23/down-time/

Seems the symptoms DO have a name after all.  The autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Only took me 4 years to come up with this explanation. There is no cure. In the meantime, I’m sampling a tasting menu of -ologists:  rheumatologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, podiatrists, urologists, optometrists and dermatologists. Can a nephrologist be far behind?

Don’t worry….it’s just dry eyes and dry mouth! Look at Venus Williams….she has it and she’s winning tennis tournaments. No problem!

Until it is. Seems this idiotic disease likes to attack mucosal membranes in the body. Sounds innocuous enough, until I realized every organ system in the body is comprised of moisture.

If you have an autoimmune disease or know someone who does, you might be aware of the myriad of natural treatments for these diseases. Try the AIP diet and cure your Hashimoto’s thyroiditis! Acupuncture and meditation can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis! Fish oil and vitamin D reverse multiple sclerosis! DHEA can relieve pain and build muscle! The power of meditation and yoga can renew your mind and vanquish disease! Eating more dump cakes can cure headaches and relieve vaginal itching! Ok, busted….yeah, I totally made that one up.

I’ve tried or am trying them all. I’ve had doctors tell me to ‘educate myself’ and then get huffy when I ask a question about treatment. I’ve been told countless times that I am either too sick, or too well to receive various treatments. Do I meditate regularly? Am I a nervous person? Am I depressed? Am I eating enough protein? Do I eat enough vegetables? Do I exercise? Am I avoiding coffee/caffeine and processed foods and solely munching cardboard and kale? Yes, yes and yes!

I’m grateful for my talented doctors and their genuinely great intentions. They want to help and heal. I’m so glad earnest friends care enough to let me know of new supplements and helpful websites. My lowest point came last week when I was  grasping at straws  looking for help on the foundation site for my newest ailment. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number was prominently displayed. ***sigh***  That’s when I experienced it…..the dry cry. Sjogren’s leaves me with no moisture for producing tears. Preserves my makeup, I guess.

Having some tests and procedures performed this week so maybe docs can get a better picture of what is troubling me. I’m grateful to be living in this miraculous day and age and I’m praying for some answers and assistance. I believe God will provide a way to live with Sjogren’s.

Here’s the marble-idea bouncing in the pinball of my mind and rubbing it raw. The only thing worse than living with autoimmune disease is living with my disease and being told that somehow my actions/inactions or my supremely rare form of craziness caused it. I’m calling bullshit on that. We ALL know I’m the good kind of crazy!

napoleon dynamite

It’s Sunday. Whatever weighs us down and causes our breath to shorten today and in the weeks ahead, whatever autoimmune disease, loss, cancer, grief, COPD, diabetes, or mental illness….whatever causes us to wet or dry cry, we can lay it down at the feet of Jesus right now and feel his strong arms embrace us. We will find our way through this crazy maze of life. Are your shoulders lifting? Mine, too.

 

christmas cactus
My Christmas cactus is blooming. It appropriately waited until after Halloween. Sign of good things to come.

 

 

I guaran-damn-tee He adores your unique martini of crazy. I like you, too.

Shaken, not stirred love to all.

 

yellowstone

No one warned me the park reeked of rotten eggs combined with the scent of bright pine. Rivers boiled, firmament steamed, golden mud perked, colorful algae glowed and streams dramatically plunged in this belching landscape. Clouds cleaved the mountains and glistening river valleys provided tasty habitat for wildlife. I craved deviled eggs the entire trip.

oldfaithful
Aren’t you smart?! It IS Old Faithful with Old Faithful Lodge in the background. We walked a very isolated trail up a mountainside to get this view. Worth it….even though we forgot our bear spray and I chirped ‘Hey, bear!’ as we walked to frighten away predators. The Texan was not amused. This Lower Geyser basin is brimming with geysers for miles.

robingrottoI had to look up the term ‘caldera’ to be sure I understood the grand views are perched atop a  volcano with an enormous, active magma chamber below. If it blows, like it did 600,000 years ago, it will affect most of the United States and change life as we know it. This is climate change I can understand.

norrisgeyserbasin
Norris Geyser Basin. The hottest springs and fumaroles in the Park. Rudyard Kipling remarked after his visit, “The uplands of Hell. It was as though the tide of desolation had gone out….a mud volcano spat filth to Heaven, streams of hot water rumbled underfoot….pink pools roared, shouted, bubbled or hissed as their wicked fancies prompted.”

The geyser/fumaroles/hot spring areas provided endless fascination to us. The angry earth grumbled, fumed and sputtered. Amidst the tantrums, we discovered visions and colors of indescribable beauty and tranquility.

hotspring
The fantastic colors as they appeared to us. No color boosting…..promise.

Mud was the artist’s pallet for the putrid water.

patterninriver
The sulphuric steam wafting from the hot features can permanently damage a camera lens. I was told to keep the lens cap on and to always wipe the lens after taking pictures of these features.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Great Falls are crowd favorites.

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The Yellowstone River before it spills over the Lower Falls.

lowerfalls

canyon
Thomas Moran, the first artist to explore the Yellowstone, bemoaned his palette didn’t contain enough colors to render this scene.

I donned a sling to support my jaw. The constant gaping provided a fine mosquito and gnat habitat. I can’t help myself…..I’m a passionate, romantic person. There’s no way I can gaze upon these scenes and pronounce, ‘Meh.’

groundsquirrel

The grand and the small astonished me. The wildlife roamed and rambled and I tried to follow the wonder with my borrowed spotting scope.

buffaloinroad
Just a photo taken through the windshield with a cellphone. The Lamar Valley was soul-stirring. It was my favorite portion of the Park. I’m planning my next trip back there.

There’s definitely a crowding issue at Yellowstone that must be addressed in a fair manner. I don’t know the answer, but the current influx of people doesn’t seem sustainable to me. That’s a discussion for another blog post. The Texan and I navigated by getting up EARLY….very early, and staying through sunset. Most mid-days we lunched by a stream with our lawn chairs or took a drive off the beaten path. The Park is very crowded between 10 am and 4 pm.

 

guystakingpicture
Buffalo are a favorite. The Europeans and Asians want to see buffalo….the iconic symbol of the West. The shaggy giants never disappoint as they appear everywhere around the park. I can still conjure their low-pitched grumbling.

Yellowstone made me feel small…like a pimple on the butt of the universe. Ok….maybe not a pimple, but certainly a freckle on the tapestry of time. Where was I when forces were forming the landscape 1,200,000 years ago? What of the Native Peoples who inhabited this land? What of the explorers and early trappers who tried to describe the indescribable to others? For me, our Yellowstone visit highlighted the infinite creativity of the Creator. I’m thrilled to witness the handiwork.

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Taken with cell phone attached to a spotting scope mounted on a tripod. Thanks Drummond! I’ll return your scope soon!!

The morning we left the park, I whined to the Texan I had not seen a grizzly bear. I’ve witnessed black bears, but I longed to see a grizzly. How totally complete and awesome would this trip be if I could spot a grizzly? We scouted around the morning we left, looking at likely spots by the Yellowstone River for wildlife. Just then, we drove upon some ‘scopers’ who were looking at an elk carcass. We rolled the window down in time to hear, ‘the grizzly is coming!’ We shot out of the car in different directions. I grabbed the binoculars and spied an elk herd upstream in the river. As I panned the binoculars, I spotted the hump-backed, powerful beast. He swam the river and was now determinedly loping across the meadow toward something. I feared he might be loping in my direction until I spotted the carcass. The Texan and I found each other and excitedly attached my phone to the scope.

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We observed this guy for an hour as he devoured this decomposing carcass. I’m happy I didn’t unexpectedly meet him in the forest. Trip made and complete.

If you are reading this, you are either a rabid nature-lover or you are completely bored on a Friday evening. Welcome to my world!

Hope these views inspire you. I want to show you Arches National Park in Moab, Utah in the coming days.

Did Thoreau ever see Yellowstone? ‘This Mother of ours…..lying around in all her beauty.’

Hope you see something wonderful this weekend! Spouting geysers of love to all!

 

 

zapata

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your engagements so few, your attention so free, your existence so mundane, that in all places and in all hours you can hear the sound of crickets in those seasons when they are to be heard-Thoreau

 

kathyongrater
Photo courtesy of Page Steed. Check out her website. You will enjoy her wildlife photography and unique vision.

The crisp chirp of crickets, the low grunt of buffalo, the impatient neigh of horses, the trickling rivulets of water and sand, and blessed laughter; I gratefully heard them all last week while attending the Zapata Ranch Workshop: Women, Horses and the West.

We rode in the morning and discussed literature in the afternoon.

 

riding out
Photo courtesy Page Steed. My mount was Merlin. Slowest horse in the West. He deserves his own chapter. Maybe another day.

Thoreau jump-started our week by helping us adjust our sight as he described ‘Simply Seeing’.

 

greenplant
Not so luxurious a soil as to attract men-H.D.T.

 

 

Author Dan Flores proclaimed the Plains are the American Serengeti. He explained how the Plains are ‘a sensuous feast of the minimal’ and how loving the grasslands is embedded in our DNA.

 

treeswithsun
Sunset in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

 

Dr. Bonney MacDonald, Professor of English at West Texas A&M university led our lively afternoon discussions. Bonney is brimming with contagious energy and passion and she had me reading and studying like crazy. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you must take it. I love her.

 

bonney
Bonney preparing to ride.

It was a special joy to spend the day….beginning at 4:45 am!….with photographer/geologist Stephen Weaver.

photography

I learned I have a nice camera, but I don’t know how to use it. I made terrible mistakes with my photography this day and lost many a fun capture. I felt like an idiot even though Stephen was unfailingly encouraging. Learning is hard. Guess who will forever check her white balance setting before she shoots another photo?

buffalob&w

Mostly my pony and I sauntered behind the main group. Merlin wore a comforting, plodding cadence and I wore my appreciative grin.

 

Kathy
Photo courtesy of Page Steed

 

There was always an experienced wrangler nearby, just in case someone made a newbie mistake or needed help retrieving lunch from the saddlebag.

 

wranglers
The wranglers. Aren’t they gorgeous? Each and every one extraordinarily smart and gracious. Thank you!

My favorite and most lasting memory of the trip? Well, that would have to be the ladies in attendance! To describe them as professors, music teachers, caregivers, corporate-types, photographers, volunteers and healers somehow fails to summarize their sweeping personalities and spacious hearts. Conversation is a lost art these days. We’re too concerned with being right. Zapata’s legacy for 2017 is the expansion of my mind. Some days it felt as wide and bright as the sky.

barnwithclouds

Is it possible my sight was adjusted? Even with the nagging problems with my eyes, was I noticing more?

shadow

What am I hearing/seeing now? A certain gray-muzzled wiener dog impatiently dropping the tennis ball at my feet, the greeting neighs of the-best-old-lady-horse-in-the-world, the Texan watching old Star Trek episodes, and the grands giggling over hauling a perch out of the lake.

Oh, Thoreau! Here’s to fewer distractions, confusions and engagements. Here, here to an uncluttered mind and the blessing of a mundane existence! I’m raising my glass to the sound of crickets. Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Headin’-west love to all.

chairwithboots