About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Small and Quiet Christmas

It's been a week of ups and downs. I got my cast off on Tuesday, and I had to get used to walking around on crutches pretty much full time. I had no idea I would get so tired.

I kept the knee scooter to use at home and so I don't have to struggle with the crutches in the middle of the night when I get up to use the bathroom.

I have to do exercises to get my ankle back to normal and to wake up the muscles and nerves. My foot is still very swollen and stiff. The exercises make my ankle very sore, but they do reduce the swelling.

Getting around at work is a pain, especially if I need to carry something in my hand.  Just going to the fax machine is an expedition.

And to top off the week, Charles' 89 year old dad was admitted to the hospital. We feared the worst, but we got good news today that he is responding to treatment. He'll need to be in a skilled nursing facility for a week to continue his antibiotic therapy, but if he continues to improve, he'll be able to come home.

Charles is tired, too - he has been taking care of everything: cooking, cleaning, laundry and lifting my scooter in and out of the car, which is not good for his back. Now that I'm only using the scooter in the house, he is relieved of that duty.

We haven't done any decorating at all for Christmas. We are going to put the tree up tomorrow with Phoebe and Odin's help, and get the house spruced up for the holiday.

For a few short hours we switched from thinking about finally getting ready for Christmas to thinking about the quickest way to get Charles to California to be with his family, but the news today was good, so we changed directions again, back to holiday preparation mode.

I'm glad that I have a long weekend, and that Charles has all of next week off. Phoebe and Odin are here from Fairbanks, and Miguel and Becca are back east with Becca's family for Christmas.  We decided not to have our open house this year, so Christmas will be quiet and small: fewer gifts, fewer decorations, fewer cookies, but with just as much expectation, joy and love,  and, thinking about Charles' dad, with much gratitude and relief.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Down Week

I've been down this week.  I had an unfortunate incident at work, and it has stuck with me, resulting in thoughts of "If only I had handled things differently...", and "I should have done THIS, not THAT...", and wondering if I am in the right place.

Self doubt, regret and not a little depression have been my constant companions his week.

But God's excellent timing brought me Hallie Lord's new book: "On The Other Side Of Fear: How I Found Peace". It's a quick read abut trusting God and being grateful in all things. She experienced health problems, financial difficulties and marital discord, and writes so honestly and openly about her life.  It was just what I needed this week.

I'm still having a hard time, but I am going to try to put my trust in God.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Phew! That Was Close!

Hi gang - remember me?

It's been a long time (again) since I posted, and I almost didn't post this time, because I couldn't seem to access my "New Post" button.

Anyway, problem solved, thank God!

Among the many reasons that I have been incommunicado is the fact that this laptop is on its last legs and is really uncomfortable to type on.  I suppose I could post on my phone, using my thumb, but that leads to pain and suffering.

I have been keeping up with Facebook (maybe a bit too much Facebook, according to my son, who thinks I live on Facebook).  I do enjoy reading my friends FB posts and commenting on their goings on, and I like to post photos, which I can't seem to figure out on this computer.  How do I get my iPhone photos on my MacBook?  Anyone?

IF I could figure out how to do this, I could put pictures on El Bloggerino.  So, any ideas would be helpful.

I need a new laptop.  OR, I need a tablet with a really good keyboard.  Charles has an iPad with a separate keyboard.  Maybe that's what I need.

In other news, I have lost 22 pounds!  Hooray!  Thanks to Dwija over at houseunseen.com, who turned me on to Trim Healthy Mama, I have finally found the key to losing weight!

Let's see, what else?  Our car is dead, so we need a new car.  Preferably one that runs.  And that is not a 2003 VW New Beetle.  Remember those cute old VW Beetles, that had the engine in the back, and seemingly ran forever?  The 2003 VW New Beetle is not one of those.  Our Beetle, which we bought because it was cute (never be taken in by cute), and it was a diesel (better mileage! less $$!) turned out to be a disaster.  We still owe almost 5K on it, and it would take about 3K to get it running again.  I think we would rather spend 3K on a better car.  So, we will take the bus and borrow cars and beg rides until we have enough scraped together to get a different car.

We went to Sitka this past weekend, which was great.  However, when we returned home, we were greeted by our two dogs, one of whom, Beans was limping and holding up a bloody paw.  I tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure, but she was really losing a lot of blood.  So off we went (via Becca's car) to the vet, who stitched up Beans, who had torn her little pad down to the bone, and cut in between her toes.  Fifteen stitches and $872 later, we brought her home to recuperate.

            [Gosh, this post really is not supposed to be about money, or the lack thereof!]

Good news!  I lost 22 pounds (I know I said that before, but I'm trying to change the subject)!

One of the things that happened while I was trying to figure out how to post was that I couldn't find any of my followers. I thought that they had all disappeared, or abandoned me because I am such a bad blogger.  Thank goodness, when I fixed it (I have no idea how it happened), PRESTO! there they were again.  And I'm glad!

Bear with me and be amazed at the sheer quality of my ramblings.  And perhaps, you may be treated to photos, if I can figure it out.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It's Been A Long, Long Time

Hello friends!

I have been out of touch for a while, mostly because I was experiencing a bout of depression and anxiety for a couple of years.  Remember those blog posts about being sleepy and low energy?  Turns out that they were symptoms of a major depressive episode.

I thought that I didn't FEEL depressed, so I couldn't possibly BE depressed, right?  Wrong.  I finally talked to my doctor and said that maybe the medications I was taking weren't working.  So she changed my depression medications from Cymbalta and Abilify to Brintellix!  Aha!  After about a week, I started to feel much better!  We kept the same dosage of my anti-anxiety medication, Buspar, but I soon realized that I was waking up with a huge knot of anxiety in my chest, so we upped my dosage and I started to feel much less anxious.

During this episode, and its aftermath, I was asked to be on the local board of NAMI, the National Alliance On Mental Illness, as a person living with a mental illness.

I thought that I wouldn't be able to contribute much, since I am not an expert or a clinician.  However, I agreed.

What a privilege it has been to work with such a dedicated group of people!  Family members of those who experience mental illness make up the majority of the board, along with several folks living with mental illness.  I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to the National NAMI Conference, where I heard wonderfully moving stories, and learned a tremendous amount about the research that is being done in an effort to help those who struggle to achieve recovery.

In August, I participated in a Peer Mentor Training, that enabled me to become a teacher for our local Peer to Peer Class, which started on Monday, and will go for 10 weeks.  Again, a privilege to share knowledge, and to help my peers on their road to wellness.

In other news, when I knew I was feeling better, I decided that staying at home was not a good idea for my healing, so I decided to seek a full time job.  I started as the receptionist/medical assistant at the Front Street Community Health Center, which serves low income, uninsured people, mostly those who are homeless.  It is a perfect job for my skill set: I worked as a Public Health Nurse Aide in our local State public health clinic for 15 years, and learned basic skills in taking vital signs, charting and assisting the nurses, and also had helped out at the front desk, so this job was just a great fit!

So, while I have been experiencing a relapse of my anxiety lately (but with another increase of my dosage of Buspar, and counseling with a wonderful therapist), I still feel pretty good.  I'm proud of my ability to weather the last few years and have come out stronger than before.

If any of my readers have been wondering where I went, now you know.

I have had some adventures, lately, not the least of which was traveling to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, and the Pope's visit!  But I'll talk about that in another post.

For now, good night!  It is GREAT to be back among the living!

Monday, June 9, 2014

One Pound of Flesh, Pentecost and Fire and Brimstone

Well - I weighed myself day before yesterday, and I had lost exactly...one pound.  One measly pound, after going without bread, cake, cookies, pie, etc. for two and a half weeks.

So I have reconsidered the no-wheat plan and now I am going to try to eat healthy, still trying to avoid all carbs and perhaps throw in a fast day here and there.  I never have been a crash/fad diet sort of person, but I thought that the no-wheat plan was going to be a winner.  Nope.

In other news, yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, and the church was all dressed up in red and even some of the parishioners were wearing red in honor of the day (including me)!  Here is a photo that I took of one of the windows that Charles designed, painted and helped build for the Cathedral:

Our pastor was out of town, so Mass was said by another priest, who started out his homily quite well, talking about the many languages that were spoken by the apostles on Pentecost, and asked us to imagine each of us given one or more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  And then, he took a turn for the worse and started ranting.  It was an old fashioned fire-and-brimstone homily.  It was awful to watch and to hear.   There were so many other themes he could have talked about: the joy of Pentecost, the gifts of the Holy Spirit (he so very briefly touched on this) or the birth of the Church.  But instead it was hellfire and damnation for 20 minutes.   I wanted to stand up and ask him to stop shouting at us.  He hectored and accused and scolded and went on and on and on.  I know that his style can be pedantic, but I have actually heard him give bearable (if not good) sermons over the years.  This was way over the top.

It was a real shame.  Mostly I found myself praying that this would not be an occasion of sin for me (uncharitable thoughts, etc), and cringing because we had so many visitors attending Mass that day (Juneau is a tourist town), and also musing that anyone who speaks to an assembly of the people of God this way can not be a happy man.  

So, please pray for him, folks.  I think he needs prayers, like we all do.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said...

...not to talk of many things, but for me to finally lose some weight.

I have now reached 188 pounds on a 4'9 1/2 foot frame.  I looked at a chart today and that puts me in the "Obese" category.

I am starting this new regimen by eliminating wheat from my diet.  Not because of any intolerance to gluten, no, it is more of an absolute love affair with bread, and pasta, and cake and pie and cookies.  So, if I don't eat wheat, I will not be eating any of the above.

I started the no-wheat routine on Tuesday after weighing in at 184 on Monday.  Today I weighed myself at the doctor's office and I had GAINED four pounds.  I am chalking it up to a discrepancy between scales!

I am walking more as well.  I walk twice a week with my friend Linda, and I took a long walk with Miguel on Wednesday.  I hope to walk at least three times a week in an effort to shift some of this weight.

So, here it is:  my BEFORE picture:

This is a picture of me in Spokane with my friend Sr. Josephine.  Observe the large belly, the big arms and the portly thighs (on me, not Josephine).  I need to lose the weight before some well intentioned person asks me when the baby is due (a question that should never be asked unless one actually is observing a baby emerging, by the way)!

So this is it, folks.  

The time has come.

P.S.: I had a fabulous time in Spokane, visiting my friend Jeanie, which I will write about next time!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Twelve Years Ago This June

The other evening, Charles and I went out to the Shrine of St. Therese for dinner with our bishop and the priests of the diocese, who were on retreat.

We were invited by Bishop Burns, because Bishop William Skylstad, the retired bishop of Spokane, was the retreat master, and Charles had mentioned to Bishop Burns that I would like to see Bishop Skylstad while he was here.

We had a lovely evening and I appreciated the opportunity to visit with Bishop Skylstad, who is a very kind and wise man.

I met Bishop Skylstad in Dallas in June 2002, at a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting.  How I ended up being at that meeting is a long story, one that began in August of 1969...

When I was twelve, I was molested by a seminarian, a so-called friend of our family, who was on break from school and staying at our house that summer.  I didn't disclose at the time of the abuse because I was afraid of the effect it would have on my family, especially my mother.  I kept the secret until I was 29 years old and pregnant with my first child.  My mother came up to visit me and brought Jose', the man who abused me.  As far as my mother knew, Jose was just another close family friend.   The news of their upcoming visit sent me into an emotional breakdown and I told Charles what had happened to me as a child.  I began therapy and the long process of healing.  Eventually, I told my mother and the rest of the family about my experience.  Jose' was never prosecuted for his crime, because of the statute of limitations.

I was at home on a Friday afternoon in June of 2002, helping my son clean his room, when the phone rang.  It was Fr. Clete Kiley, an official from the USCCB.  He asked if I would be willing to come to Dallas and speak to the assembled bishops about my experience.  I asked how he knew about me and he told that the (then) bishop of Juneau, Michael Warfel, had recommended me to the President of the USCCB, Bishop Wilton Gregory.  I agreed to come to Dallas and Fr. Kiley told me that the USCCB would take care of my airfare, meals and hotel costs.  I was to fly to Dallas the following Wednesday and would speak on Thursday.  He told me to try to keep the news to myself, as the USCCB was concerned that the survivors who were invited to speak would be hounded by the press before our presentations.  He told me that of course I could share the news with family and close friends.

I called my sister and asked if she could tell the rest of the family, and we told Charles' parents.  The entire meeting was going to be televised on C-Span, because of the huge impact the news of the clergy sexual abuse crisis had caused in the United States.  I was to speak before the assembled 300 bishops, the staff, and the press who would be present: a total of about 1000 people.

I called my therapist, Nancy, and my friend Jeanie and our friends and neighbors Ed and Betsy.  Ed was working for the Juneau Empire at the time and I stressed to him that I was telling him as a friend, and not a reporter.  He asked if he could put his reporter hat on and asked if, when I was done with my presentation, I could call him and give him an interview.  I promised that he would be the first interview I gave.

I flew to Dallas, accompanied by Bishop Warfel, who was kind and attentive during the trip.  We arrived in Dallas and took a shuttle to our hotel, the Dallas Fairmont, certainly the nicest and most luxurious hotel I had ever been in!

I was greeted by a lovely flower arrangement in my room from my sister Mary.   It had a note with one word written on it: "Courage".

I was so nervous, I couldn't eat.  At dinner time, I went to the dining room and looked at the menu.  The only thing that appealed to me was a small shrimp salad.   A nice bishop came and asked if he could sit with me.  He introduced himself as Bishop Michael Pfeifer from San Angelo, Texas.  He asked if that was all I was going to eat, and urged me to eat more than just a small salad.  I told him that I was so nervous about my presentation the next day that I couldn't eat any more.  He said: "How about dessert then?  Young man, (gesturing to a waiter) do you have ice cream and cake?"  I assured him that I really wasn't hungry for dessert (very unusual for me), and thanked him for his kindness.  He then gave me a small Holy Spirit medal (which I still wear today) and gave me a blessing for the next day.

The next day, I arrived in the huge conference room and Bishop Warfel met me and took me around the room to meet as many bishops as he could introduce me to.  That's when I met Bishop Skylstad.  All the bishops were very kind and encouraging.

After I gave my presentation, I took a few minutes to go to my room and recover a bit.  I called Ed and gave him the promised interview.

Then all four of the survivors who spoke were given the opportunity to speak to the press.  I was interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News and by USA Today.

Then we were invited to watch the bishops as they worked on establishing the Charter For The Protection of Young People, a huge document that would become the guideline for dioceses in the United States.  At one point, a bishop was arguing against having stipulations that one offense would mean removal from the priesthood.  I was sitting in the observers section and I stood while he was speaking and remained standing until the bishops voted down his amendment, then I crossed myself and sat down.

Speaking in Dallas changed me profoundly.  I used to be afraid of speaking in front of groups of people.  I am no longer afraid.  I used to be afraid to tell people about my experience of being abused - so much so that I was hesitant to join a support group of survivors because, as I told my therapist: "I can't talk about what happened to me".  I used to feel powerless and helpless.  Now I am strong.  Speaking in Dallas was a healing experience, and while I am not happy for the reason that I was selected to speak, I am glad that I was given the opportunity to share my story.

Me, Bishop Skylstad and Charles at the Shrine of St. Therese