Friday, November 6, 2009

Marc and Cass get married.

(This is a new section from my latest book. I love writing about weddings and marriages. This is where the bride and groom are together one last time before becoming man and wife expressing some of their anxiety and apprehensions about getting married. Marc had been married before and had two children by another woman--a woman who was less than perfect. I hope you enjoy it.)

Today was her wedding day.

A pale pre-dawn glow filtered softly into Cass’s room casting muted golden shafts on the carpeted floor. The light would have most likely awakened Cass, but she was already awake. Sleep had not come easily or often during the few short hours following the activities at the Swane’s home, saying a last romantic good night to Marc at her doorstep and this feathery light of dawn creeping into her bedroom. Her mind had been too full of last minute concerns and her head spun with the frightening realities of marriage. She couldn’t get much rest.

It promised to be a glorious day.

In a few short hours she would be Mrs. Marc Swane; Cassiopeia Swane. The thought brought a smile to her lips as she stretched languidly trying to push the tension out of her body from her toes to the tips of her fingers. There were still a few hours before they had to leave for the temple and Cass thought to use the leisurely quiet and undisturbed calm of pre-dawn to think and to ponder. This was the day she’d looked forward to since she began to realize boys didn’t have cooties anymore. So much of her teen and young adult life had been spent in preparing for this one single day and the days, months and years that would follow this day. Learning how to cook and clean; how to mend jeans, unstop a drain, shop for bargains, and serve a gourmet dinner without spending a fortune. She’d learned the art of rearing children, making a home and serving her family at her mother’s knee without being aware that’s what she was doing.

The lessons she received from her parents came in simple, intimate moments rather than formal classroom type settings. Those wonderful experiences she’d shared in her parent’s home gave her the confidence she needed to follow her dreams in education and now to become a wife. Even though she still felt some apprehension and concern about becoming Marc’s wife, with the confidence she’d gained from her growing up years and her training and education, at least she felt educationally prepared to be the wife Marc would need. She prayed he would be proud of her and that he wouldn’t have to worry about her slipping a gear and morphing into Lilly.

She knew Marc had been spooked by his first marriage and now was extremely hesitant about getting married again. What man wouldn’t be scared to death after having survived an experience like he’d endured? Words of assurance would not be enough to convince Marc she was different. Only time and positive experiences would prove to him he hadn’t made a second mistake. It worried her that he might be watching and waiting for her to snap or freak out or transmutate into his ex. Somehow Cass knew she would feel like she was a lab experiment in the beginning of their relationship. Whether she liked it or not, Lilly would hang over their marriage until she was exorcised out like an evil demon. Cass could only hope and pray that Marc would trust her, love her and give her a chance to demonstrate to him she was a totally different person from Lilly Goodhaven.

That’s why having the gospel at the center of their marriage was so vitally important; knowledge and inspiration were power—her power, his power. The gospel lessons she’d been taught by her parents were no less important than the physical ones. Being worthy to marry Marc in the temple today, made her feel radiant and light, as if she were a receptacle for the spirit. She’d need that light and inspiration to deal with Marc’s demons and phobias. She’d need the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to aid her in teaching Marc’s innocent but confused children. She’d need the spirit to assure the children that there can be a loving mother figure in their lives.

Those children needed her.

As Cass studied the patterns the expanding light of dawn cast on the floor and walls of her room, she couldn’t help but feel that the whole thing was still a beautiful fantasy and if she made a sudden move, the dream would end. Silly. It just seemed positively unreal that the time had finally come when she was going to be someone’s wife and someone’s mother all in one moment. In a few hours she would give herself to a man and become his wife, his helpmeet, his lover and assist in raising his children. She would need every blessing the Lord had in store for a newly married woman. She knew they needed to start their married life steeped in the traditions of the gospel; family and personal prayer, regular scripture study and faithful church attendance. It would make their life together easier if these simple commandments were followed in the spirit they were intended. It was a promise Cass made to herself in the stillness of the morning and a promise she intended to keep to Marc and his children.

Today she would be sealed to the man she loved.

Unfortunately Phoebe and Adam would not be sealed to her today or any other day. This realization gravely disappointed her. Intellectually she understood that only one sealing was necessary for the children. They just had to be sealed to somebody, as it were, they were born under the covenant which was the most important ordinance. It didn’t matter to which parent. It didn’t even matter if one or neither of the parents remained faithful, it only mattered that the sealing was preformed. Somewhere in the family links, they would be sealed. It shouldn’t have bothered Cass, but that didn’t stop her from feeling bothered by it and feeling some envy. She had to keep reminding herself that only worthiness mattered in this case. So while she lay in her bed welcoming the morning, Cass would put it aside and relish her special day.

It still amazed Cass that the preparations for their sealing and reception had been accomplished so quickly. It had been a frenzy of activity since Marc proposed to her. So much of normal wedding planning usually took weeks if not months to be accomplished and they’d done it in two weeks time. She owed it all to Maggie Swane and would be forever grateful. Having Maggie and Ralph Swane as her in-laws couldn’t have worked out better if she’d created in-laws herself. She loved them as much as her own parents and would be forever grateful they’d raised a son like Marc.

She thought about the tempestuous way she had Marc had come together. There was the incident with Marc’s dog Max and her suit, the sidewalk confrontation after her trip to San Diego to the kissing incident at the end of the street. It seemed as though fate, or the Lord, had steadily been pushing them together. She wondered what it was precisely that drew her to him, besides his obviously rugged good looks. He had been nothing but rude, arrogant and disarming every time they’d had a chance meeting. Only a deep abiding love could have brought them together and kept them together despite the complications. It surely wouldn’t have been a logical match. She had to giggle at that because she thought she and Vern had been a logical match and look how that turned out. She was right sure there was nothing logical about what she felt for Marc. What she felt for him turned her inside out. Passion was strong in their relationship, but there was something much, much more—much, much deeper and longer lasting. There was a fire there, a consuming, radiant blaze that heated the blood and forged the bond strong like tempered steel. She was absolutely sure she’d never find this kind of heat, this kind of union with any other man—ever. She’d proved that when they were separated for a month and a half. She couldn’t imagine living life without Marc. And that’s as it should be.

Marc was just beginning to doze again for about the fiftieth time. Most of the night he’d tossed and turned and slept pitifully. He shouldn’t be having second thoughts about marrying Cassiopeia. He loved her with all his heart. She was perfect for him and his children. She was so far from Lilly by comparison as to not be on the same chart, but that didn’t stop him from wondering what their married life would be like and if Cass would share any of the same characteristics with Lilly. The time they’d spent getting to know one another and dating had been a swirling tornado of highs and lows. He was so sure about Cass until the meeting with Lilly and her parents in the Bishop’s office. Then he wasn’t sure he could ever love a woman again and forced her away. That had been the second biggest mistake of his life—forcing Cass away. He might as well have cut off his right arm as keep her at a distance. Once he’d found her, there was no going back. They were meant to be together just as his father has prophesied. And just as his father had said, he was to accept the responsibility of the Lord’s challenges placed before him with eagerness.

So what kept him from sleeping?

It wasn’t the thought of marrying Cass precisely; it was more about the fact that he hadn’t proven to be a very good husband. At least he thought he hadn’t been a good husband to Lilly. He didn’t exactly have a good track record in the husband department. He hadn’t helped Lilly overcome her problems and he hadn’t given her what she needed to keep her happy. It hurt to think that he’d tried and failed. But maybe now after everything about Lilly had finally come to light, he could see that it probably wasn’t his fault that she’d turned to drugs and worse. He wasn’t responsible for making her happy. No one was. And it wasn’t his fault that she chose to hate him or the children. He’d been powerless to stop her from making horrible decisions and from ruining her own life and for trying to ruin his and the children’s lives as well. All he could do was try harder to help Cassiopeia find happiness by giving her his heart totally and without reservation.

His mind drifted to his charming and sexy Princess. What was she doing in the early morning glow? Was she still asleep, her beautiful, sweet face relaxed in slumber, or was she already up and moving, her active mind going over the organization of the day to the precise minute detail?

He needed to see her, to touch her and make sure she was real and his.

Jumping from the enormous bed they’d chosen together and thinking with a big smile—they would sharing tonight as husband and wife—he shoved his long legs into his favorite pair of worn jeans, zipped and buttoned them quickly and drug on an old worn t-shirt. After a brief unsuccessful search for his work boots, he grabbed up a new pair of tennis shoes and ran from the room.

He crept quietly past the sleeping children’s rooms and hustled downstairs and out the door. Until he stopped on her driveway, he hadn’t stopped to think if she’d be awake or not. So he bent down and picked up some fine pebbles from her flower garden and tossed a couple at her window.

Her mind was still going over the exact procedures and progress of the day when she heard a clack, clack at her window. It sounded like a bird tapping on the glass. Throwing her silky robe around her shoulders and belting it, she walked to the window and pulled open the shutters. Outside in the dim light of dawn, Marc was standing in her driveway throwing little rocks up at her window. Smiling, she threw up the window and leaned out. “I think there’s a law against vandalism this early in the morning. What are you doing up so early?”

“I need to see you, Princess,” he smiled.

“I’ll be right down.” Her heart did a little tap dance in her chest. But whether it was from fear or nerves, she wasn’t sure. What could he possibly want this early in the morning? Had he changed his mind since last night? Oh, dear Father, please don’t let him change his mind.

She moved quietly through her bedroom, tiptoed through the hall and down the stairs to open the door for him. She no sooner opened the door than he scooped her up in his arms and started plying her face with kisses. “Marc,” she sputtered. “What…”

“Shh, let me kiss you.” Greedily he kissed her bringing her tight within the circle of his arms. She was real and warm and his. His worry filled dreams had given him unhappy thoughts that he might have conjured her up from his overactive imagination. “I just wanted to make sure you’re still real and that I didn’t dream you up.”

Cass slipped her hands up his chest and tangled them in his hair bringing his mouth back down to hers in one scorching kiss. “Does this feel real enough for you?”

Smiling, he nodded. He knew he was toast. He dragged her to the sofa and sat pulling her onto his lap. “This is the last morning we’ll wake up alone, Princess. I just needed to see you one last time before we do this.”

She tried to read his thoughts through the serious look on his face and in his enigmatic grey eyes. “Second thoughts? Cold feet? Running scared?” She tried to make it light.

He took both of her hands in his, his eyes fierce and determined. “No. No to all of those questions.” Then he kissed her fingers one at a time until she shuddered. “That’s the one thing I’m positive about Cass, and that’s you. You’ve been in my head since I saw you standing in your driveway muttering to yourself the day after you dumped good old Vern. I wanted to rush across the street and gobble you up and take you away some place quiet and dark and make mad, passionate love to you until we were both too exhausted and spent to breathe. But I think you would have cut me off at the knees if I’d have tried to even talk to you then.” He laughed and looked closely for the first time at what she was wearing, or in this case, not wearing. A smile, broad and wicked erupted across his face. Cass sensing his shift in attitude clutched the thin robe to her breast. He licked his lips and continued. “I’d like to do the same thing right now.”

She squirmed on his lap and tried to break free, but he held her firmly in place. She sensed the predator/prey scenario and her breathing quickened. “I’ve…I have a lot to do before we’re ready to go. Was there something you wanted?” She sensed her mistaken choice of words as his eyes lingered way too long on the bodice of her thin robe.

“Yes,” he grinned. “But that will have to wait for a couple of hours.” Once again he nuzzled her neck and nipped at her chin with his teeth. “I was wondering if you’d join me in a prayer this morning.”

The change in subject was so abrupt that it threw her. Composing herself quickly, she nodded her head. “That would be wonderful, Marc. I’d be more than happy to join you in prayer this morning.”

“I have gained a great appreciation for the power of prayer in the last few months, Princess. My father has given me new insights into prayer. I always figured prayer was for closing and opening the day, praying for safety and for the blessing of restored health. But he helped me understand better the need for constant and specific prayer. I think we should pray for everything that comes into our lives that we have jurisdiction over. We’re entering a new phase of our lives and need the Lord’s help.” He’d never thought to pray with Lilly and that had been a big mistake. Well, he wasn’t making that mistake again. The Lord would be first and foremost in his and Cass’s life. “I want the Lord’s help in our marriage, Cass.”

“Yes. So do I.”

“I feel as the Priesthood holder that I’m entitled to inspiration regarding our home and family and with you as my wife, we’ll be a team and seek that inspiration together. You’re entitled to the inspiration you’ll need to be my companion and I ask for your faith in petitioning the Lord for the blessings we’ll need as a new family.”

She studied him for a moment as if she was looking at him for the first time. She had to laugh to herself again about her first impressions of him. It was anything but spiritual. He’d been both annoying and arrogant and she’d been put off all the while fiercely attracted to him. Then he’d been too ruggedly good looking for his own good and had swept her away with his depthless passion until she knew there was no one in the world that could fire her heart as he could. Now what she saw was the powerful force of the priesthood on him as he looked forward to becoming her husband and felt it a responsibility to ask for help. Her heart warmed and her spirit swelled.

“Will you kneel with me, Cass?” He loosened his grip on her and pushed her to her feet.

“I’d be honored, my love.”

He pushed her coffee table out away from the sofa and they knelt together between the table and the sofa. He took her hands in his, brought them to his lips for a quick kiss then he began to pray.

It wasn’t so much the words he spoke that touched her heart and soul, but the feeling of the prayer. He was taking his responsibilities of husband, father and priesthood holder very seriously and felt to plead with the Lord for a blessing on their union. He spoke to the Lord as opposed to just offering a standard prayer. He asked for guidance as they started their married life together. In closing, Marc pled with the Lord for a blessing on their sacred physical relationship as husband and wife and that they would be blessed with children to join them in their earthly journey. Cass felt her heart bursting at the seams with love for this man who’d humbled himself before the Lord enough that he felt comfortable in asking. She didn’t know if it were possible to love him more than she did at that moment.

When he finished praying he pulled Cass into his arms and for many quiet moments, he just held her tenderly within his embrace, resting his cheek against her head and stroking her hair. She rested her head on his shoulder and felt the power flow from him into her.“Before the Nauvoo temple was completed,” Marc started, “Joseph Smith performed the endowment ceremony in his home. Parley P. Pratt and his wife participated in this ceremony, which I understand took many hours.” Marc sat back down on the sofa and pulled Cass down beside him still clasping her hands tightly. She looked at him in amazement as he continued. “It was there that Parley learned from Joseph Smith, ‘that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity;…the affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love.’” Marc paused, trying to remember the entire quote. “Ah, yes,…Parley said something like: ‘I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling.’” Parley went on to say that he now loved with the spirit and understanding as well. I’m sure that meant an eternal understanding.” Marc turned toward Cass so he could look deeply into her eyes. “That’s how I feel about you, Cassiopeia. I love you with all the intensity of elevated, exalted feelings of eternity and with the spirit of the Lord. Do you understand?”

Cass’s heart rose in her throat as tears welled in her eyes. She’d never heard anything so beautiful. “Yes,” she choked, the tears escaping. “That was a tender, wonderful sentiment. I feel exactly as Parley did. I love you intensely Marc. I’ve never been able to explain how quickly and intensely I was drawn to you and how complete are my feelings. I’ll love you forever.”

He kissed away the tears from her cheeks and as soft as butterfly wings he swept her lips with his as if she was a delicate piece of china that would break if he pressed too hard. She sighed sweetly tugging his heart strings then he wrapped his arms around her to draw her to him. “Well I guess I should leave and let you get ready.”


He pushed her away from him and gazed in her eyes. “It won’t be long now, Ms. James. Are you excited?”

She licked her trembling lips and rubbed his arms with her nervous trembling hands. “Nope.”

“Liar,” he grinned and kissed her nose. “I love you Cassiopeia. I’ll love you forever.”

Copyright 2009 CAROL A. MALONE, (except images which were acquired from Google Images)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You've Got Cancer (Part 3)

You’ve got cancer - The surgery.

I don’t suppose there are many announcements of “You’ve got cancer” that don’t follow with another announcement that they must operate. Now if breaking the news to you that you’ve got cancer isn’t horrific and scary enough, now it’s followed it by the threat of having your body ripped open, your organs disturbed or removed and your health and your life permanently upended. But they—the powers that be—are adamant that surgery is the only correct course of action to follow.

Around the first of July of this year, I was faced with the real possibility of bleeding to death. I was so panicked that I didn’t mind the thought of having my first “procedure” done. But still the fear and trepidation was there in abundance. I’d had a C-Section twenty six years ago and could only remember the misery associated with the procedure and the long uncomfortable recovery. Facing something on that major a scale a second time was something I’d wanted to avoid with every fiber of my being. But my life was in danger. I was, for all intents and purposes, bleeding to death and the myriad of doctors I’d seen thus far didn’t have a complete picture as to why I was bleeding and how to stop it from happening.

On the second go round of severe blood loss, I found my self in the ER again. After receiving another two units I was released by my OB/GYN. But it didn’t take as long to bleed out as it did to pump it in when I returned home. In frantic desperation, I phoned the doctor on call. I finally found a woman OB/GYN that understood what I was going through and she demanded that I return to the ER and await preparations for a D&C, (that’s a dilation and curettage). This is basically procedure that dilates or enlarges the vagina so that the uterus lining can be scraped or suctioned away for a more thorough tissue sample for biopsy. They couldn’t do the D&C right away as I’d lost too much blood, so I had to wait over night while receiving more transfusions. By now I’m feeling like I’ve had a complete lube job. The next day, July 9th, my surgery was scheduled for four p.m.

So how do you prepare for surgery or in this case, a minor procedure? My way is to panic. It’s my nature, thanks to my mom, also to worry about every little thing, real or imagined. Thankfully, I had great friends and family members that prayed for me. I also had a number of Priesthood blessings, so this first operation seemed to flow smoothly. I didn’t even start to panic until they wheeled me downstairs in St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital here in Camarillo to the pre-op room. I still had Tim’s hand in a death grip and the atmosphere was relaxed and casual. There was no rush and urgency like the time I had my C-Section. (At that time I was basically dying and my baby Mike was dying, so they were in a bit of a rush!)

When Tim was asked to wait in the hall and I was wheeled into the operating room, that’s when the unease slithered up my spine. Luckily, I remained calm enough that when they asked me to move my behind onto the operating table I was able to joke about it and move quickly. They were impressed with my ability. I told them I was working out. But the icy chill of the room, the sights and smells and the freezing table brought those anxious memories of my C-Section flooding back into my mind. But before I could full out panic, I was in La-La Land. The next thing I know some nurse is asking me questions and they’re wheeling me back upstairs to my regular bed. I’m thinking—piece of cake!

I rested through the night—as much as one can rest with nurses coming in your room every two hours to check vitals and change blood transfusion bags can be restful. July 10th, (our 27th Wedding Anniversary), I went home. As I’m getting in my VUE, I noticed a vicious pain in the calf of my right leg which continued to get worse prompting more doctors’ visits, an ultra sound and the vein filter which I discussed in an earlier post. A blood clot!

As stated earlier, my biopsy showed uterine cancer and that was a shock in and of itself when followed quickly by the words “you must have a complete hysterectomy”. Due to unusual circumstances, I was directed to a surgeon at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, Dr. Ronald Leuchter, a Gynecological Oncologist specialist that teaches at UCLA. I thought, wow! Holy cow! A world renowned specialist is going to operate on me. Going to Cedars Sinai was like being on a cattle drive for medical treatment. I was shown to one area in the Cancer Care center then upstairs to fill out paper work. After filling out dozens of papers, we were then given an escort to take us back down to the first place we went to be met by a nurse. The nurse took me in a small room for vitals then back to the waiting room for another nurse to take me to the exam rooms. The doctor obviously doesn’t have a lot of time to spend with you, so it was right to the business at hand when he announces what he’s going to do to you.

He told me that he would do a laproscopically assisted hysterectomy. Four tiny holes would be drilled in my belly from which he can see what’s going on and extract the offending organs and tissue. At least that was the plan at the time.

So I’m sent home to worry and fret for two weeks and finish up my pre-op tests. And that’s pretty much what I did. Except at the time, I still had work to occupy my mind. My insurance company sent me a relaxation and visualization CD to assist in calming my mind and spirit before and after surgery. I’d like to say it helped, but that would be lying. There were times when I could go to a happy place, which happened to be my grandma’s farm in Paradise, Utah, but not always.

I had lots of blessings and prayers offered in my behalf. Tim and I left for the hospital the Sunday afternoon before and stayed at a lovely hotel in Beverly Hills. Only I couldn’t really enjoy the room because I had to fast and do other terrible unmentionable things in order to be ready to be cut open in the morning.

I was in the South Tower for the Operation and Recovery

The morning of the operation, I was up very early and got dressed in a minimum of stress. I was probably numb. We had to be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. for a 7 a.m. surgery. There was also a line of procedure to follow as we arrived at check in. We were herded upstairs to a waiting room then filled out more paperwork where I received my i.d. bracelet. My spirits were still high as I watched the room fill with other people in similar circumstances, although awaiting different surgeries.

When my name was called along with several others, we were herded back through a door and our loved ones were not allowed to follow us. This is the first time that I thought I couldn’t make it. I thought for sure Tim would be able to stay with me until I went under anesthesia. But this was not the case.

I was lead to a hospital bed, told to dress in a simple hospital gown, given a bag for belongings and then told to relax. Yeah, right! Who are they kidding! You try to relax in that kind of situation. For the next little while I was stuck with lancets, poked with needles, strapped to machines to test my heart and asked interminable questions. Then to complicate matters, my heart specialist hadn’t forwarded the results of my chemical stress test to determine if my heart was up to such an operation. They had to wait until well after 8 a.m. before the heart doctor’s office opened up to get the results.

Finally the anesthesiologist came to assure me my heart was sound enough for the operation. I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping that my heart was in such bad shape I couldn’t endure the operation and would just be sent home to die quietly. A gal can hope, can’t she? Anyway that was when this really cute doctor who was much too young to be an anesthesiologist came and put something really nice in my i.v. and for the first time, I started to relax.

I remember being wheeled into the operating room which looked more like a storage room with supplies behind glass and metal cupboards. There were lights and gadgets and trays of something. The last thing I remember is being asked to move my butt over to the slick, cold operating table, then nothing. Total absence of consciousness. Oblivion. Because the next moment I’m awake and somebody is talking to me and I was asking for Tim. I remember little of the time in recovery. I guess maybe at the point I’m writing this, I didn’t want to remember it. Before long I’m being wheeled down the hall, way down the hall, almost to the end of the third floor hall to a group of four rooms at the end. This time it is an extremely painful proposition to move my butt from the table to my new bed. With a lot of help, I manage it. Then finally I’m allowed to see Tim.

I was in the hospital for six days. I already had problems with my right leg and the blood clot there. It was so swollen and painful; walking merely to the nurse’s station was a feat of monumental proportions. But the second day, I noticed my left leg swelling much the same and tried to bring that to the attention of the nurses and doctors. But no one paid much attention until on the third day when they tried to get me up to walk and I nearly passed out a few steps from my room. Then they finally paid attention to me. Then I was rushed down to the radiation room for an ultrasound on both legs. Yes, indeed. Blood clots in both legs. Now I was faced with a big dilemma. You must walk to recover from the surgery. I couldn’t walk because of the horrific swollen legs. What do you do?

There’s one very minute secret that doctors don’t explain to you after surgery and that’s the gas that results from surgery. Of all the pains of surgery, that was by far the most intense, miserable pain of all. Gas and bloating and not being able to pass it are by far the worst pains you can possibly endure. I’ve never felt such pain in my life all because I couldn’t, to put it bluntly, fart or have a bowel movement. That’s why my hospital stay was longer than usual. Until you pass gas, you don’t leave, even if you can’t walk. That’s not as important.

When I finally passed a little gas, it was like graduation day and the fourth of July all wrapped up. Yippee! The day after I did, I was allowed to leave the hospital. I have to tell you, my leaving the hospital was not how I’d planned it to happen. I was barely able to move without screaming. I felt like I’d been run over by a team of Clydesdale's, the beer wagon and the little Dalmatian dog as well. The car was most uncomfortable and extremely hard to get into. Luckily, at home we rented a hospital bed as our bedroom is upstairs and I never could have made it up the stairs. I couldn’t lift my foot off the ground more than a couple of inches. I felt miserable.

So for two plus months, I attempted to recuperate. But the leg clots have really held me back. At one point I measured my upper thigh while it was swollen. It measured 31 inches. That’s huge! I felt like a baby and was reduced to using a walker to move around the house and a wheel chair if I went out to the doctor’s office. Short trips anywhere, including the grocery stores was out of the question. So many friends came by to wish me well and brought food and flowers. I will always be grateful for their thoughtfulness and concern.

It has been a long, trying road of recovery. At first I could barely move out of my hospital bed and going to the downstairs bathroom was the furtherest I could waddle. I couldn’t even manage more than a bedside bath. I gradually graduated to a sink bath with Tim washing my hair. Even that was a major accomplishment. The next step was me washing my own hair and being able to stand for a significant amount of time without passing out. Six weeks after my surgery, I attempted the stairs and found with a lot of pushing and pulling I could make it to the top. I still had to sit down for a shower and had to rest for a while before attempting to go back down the stairs.

Along the path I developed a rather ugly little growth near my surgery scar. At first I thought my scar had broken open, but that wasn’t the case. My doctor thought it was a seroma, which is a collection of fluid within a dead space in the tissue following a surgery. I had an ultrasound because of the swelling and fever then I was sent to a dermatologist. Neither proved useful, except the dermatologist decided I needed to go back to see my surgeon. But his schedule wouldn’t permit a quick visit. So I was directed to a surgeon in Ventura and he knew right away that the growth was a post-surgical tunnel wound—a deep tunnel seeping fluid and blood from somewhere deep inside my body that hadn’t healed properly. Yikes!!! He stuck one of those long Q-tips down in it and had Tim holding on to his stomach. It went down in about 7.5 centimeters. It was very distressing. Hadn’t I had enough problems resulting from one surgery?

So now I have daily visits from in-home nurses who pack the deep tunnel wound with gaze in an attempt to dry it out and shrink the thing. It’s a miserable process and one that has taken a month and a half already. I don’t know how much longer this process may take. The surgeon here, Dr. Timothy Bryant, thinks I still may need another surgery to repair the wound. Does the nightmare never end?

I went through physical therapy here at home and grew stronger. I was even out on the street walking with a cane. So I am progressing. But I still have to wait and see and keep enduring the daily visits and wound packing and wear those awful compression stockings that squeeze your legs tight. I don't even know if I'll be able to wear normal shoes ever again. I don’t have much hope of that at present.

I was standing at my kitchen window the other day and looking out in the backyard. It was a glorious day in Camarillo. (Most of them are.) And I was wondering how far I’d come. Sometimes the Lord lets the image of tragedy and bad things fade, for which I am very grateful. That’s why it was good to sit down and write about the experiences of my surgeries so I can recall what I went through. MY body may never be the same as before my surgery. That’s life, right? But it was an experience that taught me a great deal and maybe I’ll be able to help someone else facing the same situation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You've Got Cancer (part 2)

I faithfully watch "So You Think You Can Dance." It's my favorite summer show. Once in a while they have a performance by the talented young people that touches something so deep within the heart that you wonder if they were dancing specifically for you. The message of this dance by Ade & Melissa was so poignant and so moving I thought I'd share it with you. It is their interpretation of a woman's struggle and battle with breast cancer. Because I'm now face with cancer--not breast cancer--but cancer none-the-less, this particular dance piece sliced me to the core. The feelings and spirit of fear, pain and determination evoked by the dancers for this particular grievous situation in a woman's life is particularly heart grabbing. See if you don't agree. Then read my story which follows in a recent post.

We pray for all those touched by cancer. Men, women, and children. None are immune to it's horrific effects. God grants us the strength and faith to endure and triumph.

Added 7/30/09: I wanted to add the words of the song that Ade & Melissa Danced to. They are awe inspiring and uplifting. There are no possible words to describe the pain and suffering of those who battle cancer. But we respect and applaud those who do. The following words offer encouragement and hope.


Pray God You Can Cope
I'll Stand Outside
This Woman's Work
This Woman's Worth
Ooh, It's Hard On A Man
Now His Part Is Over
Now Starts The Craft... Of The Father

I Know You've Got A Litte Life In You Yet
I Know You've Got A Lot Of Strength Left
I Know You've Got A Little Life In You Yet
I Know You've Got A Lot Of Strength Left

I Should Be Crying But I Just Can't Let It Show,
I Should Hoping But I Can't Thinking,
All The Things We Should've Said That I Never Said,
All The Things We Should Have Done That We Never Did,
All The Things We Should've Given But I Didn't,
Oh Darling Make It Go,
Make It Go Away...

Give Me These Moments,
Give Them Back To Me,
Give Me A Little Kiss,
Give Me Your...

(I Know You've Got A Little Life In You Yet)
Give Me Your Hand Baby,
(I Know You've Got A Lot Of Strength Left)
Give Me Your Pretty Hand,
(I Know You've Got A Little Life In You Yet)
Ooh My,
(I Know You've Got Alot Of Strength Left)
Your Love Child,
(I Know You've Got A Little Life In You Yet)
Whatever You Need,
(I Know You've Got A Lot Of Strength Left)
Give Me Your Hand,
(I Know You've Got A Little Life In You Yet)
Give Me Your Hand Babe
(I Know You've Got A Lot Of Strength Left)

I Should Be Crying But I Just Can't Let It Show Baby,
I Should Hoping But I Can't Thinking,
Of All The Things We Should've Said That We Never Said,
All The Things We Should Have Done That We Never Did,
All The Things That You Wanted From Me,
All The Things That You Needed From Me,
All The Things We Should Have Given But I Didn't,
Oh Darling Make It Go Away Now,
Just Make It Go Away..

Monday, July 27, 2009

You've Got Cancer!!!

I have no idea how many millions of people have heard or will hear that phrase in their lifetime. Those three words can strike terror in the heart of anyone who hears them. Sometimes the doctor who says those words delivers them without passion or preamble. And they say it so casually and without sympathy that at first the words don’t sink in. Then the words “carcinoma” and “cancer” begin to bang around in your brain until they register.

That’s what happened to me when I heard the words: “endometrioid adenocarcinoma”. The doctor that uttered those words did so like she was telling me I had warts. Wham! Bang!

At first you feel disbelief, then shock then denial. “What, me - cancer - no way! There has to be some mistake,” you say to yourself unbelievingly. Everything horrible and awful you’ve ever heard, read, seen or known about people who have had cancer flashes in your mind. Surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and death - oh my! The phrase paints a very bleak picture, doesn’t it?

In the back of your mind, as much as you don’t want to, you witness your own mortality. Even for the most faithful people, even for those who understand the meaning of life, this can be an incomprehensible moment. So we turn to the professional for answers, which means more tests, possible surgeries and months and months of painful therapies in the hope that we will survive—and that’s if your insurance company will pay for it all. Heaven help those who don’t have the right type of cancer and insurance. (But that’s for another piece.)

The one thing we cannot lose is our hope. We hope for the cure and a speedy recovery because without hope, the process would be dismal and disheartening. We have to believe that even cancer is a part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. Odd, don’t you think, to say that cancer, disease, famine and any horrific human event is part of a loving Heavenly Father’s plan, but it is!

For a cotton-headed ninny-muggins consummate pessimist like me, finding the blessings in a disease like cancer is like Indiana Jones searching for the Ark of the Covenant. There’s a map. It may be a little hard to decipher, but if you find the right people with the right knowledge. Viola! Treasure!

The scriptures tell us that all these things shall be for our experience and if we endure them well we shall have a crown of glory. It’s just hard in our finite minds to translate the pain of suffering into something glorious.

Wise men have said that suffering teaches us compassion for others. When we think of the Savior, do we remember that he bore our sorrows and our infirmities so that he may know how to comfort us? Sometimes we think that he only bore our sins, but wise men have instructed us to cast our burdens upon the Lord. But being a pessimist and a realist, as Tim always reminds me, I can’t help but wonder how this is accomplished.What’s the magic formula for handing off my cancer to Jesus Christ? I’ve got to be honest, I don’t know how to do that, yet many people seem to find strength in doing just that. Do we kneel down in our own Gethsemane and plead with the Lord to let this cup pass from us? But then in humility, do we not say, “not my will but thine be done?”

So where’s the handoff and where’s the comfort? Where’s the relief from pain? Is it only a figure of speech? Is it only in our minds or does it physically happen? We can say that many people are cured of cancer. I don’t particularly know the statistics but I personally have three friends who have survived and gone on to live very happy and normal lives. But I also have friends who have fought diligently only to lose the battle in the end.

Oh, if we could only have a glimpse into the mind of the Lord–why he calls some home and why he lets some linger. So really, the only thing we can do is have hope and faith that whatever happens, we can accept the mind and will of God. If however, you don’t believe in God, that’s very sad, but I’m not talking to those people – those unhappy few who believe that we are just here by chance and when we’re gone—we’re gone! Yikes!

As I sit here in a Catholic hospital looking up at a crucifix of the Savior up on the wall of my room, I wonder who comforted the Savior as he went through that terrible pain and agony upon the cross. How was he able to bear that suffering without murmuring or complaining? Crucifixion is a most terrible form of agony because it is prolonged over a long period of time.

I wish I could say that I’ve found the combination in my life to be able to throw off the anxiety and fear, but even at age 54 I’m still learning what it is to be able to put all my trust in the Savior. I’ve often felt that phrase, “O ye of little faith,” applies directly to me. I also know that faith is an action verb so I’m doing everything I can to put my miniscule faith into action. I believe that in the long run stepping blindly towards my Savior will bring me a reward of peace and comfort to be able to go through this trial even though I still have to suffer.

If I didn’t believe that, I’d run screaming into the night, except I can’t run now because I have a blood clot in my leg. But I have a little vein buddy now. An intervenous umbrella filter to keep the blood clot from my lungs and instant death. Ugly little fellow, isn't he?

So we pray, we fast, we try and do what the Lord asks us to do. We follow the doctor’s recommendations. We put our faith in Christ. We reach out to others who have suffered with similar experiences and we draw on their strength. And we move forward one faltering faithful step at a time and hope for a glorious resurrection free of pain, sorrow and sin.

Tim asked me something while I was sitting in the hospital grimacing in pain. When have I felt the Lord’s love for me? At first I wanted to scream, NEVER! But as I thought and pondered about that, I really was surprised to have things come into my mind. Sometimes the pain in my body is so hard to endure that I toss and turn in bed trying to find a comfortable position for relieve. I offer a tiny prayer in my head for comfort and for sleep. Suddenly I’m sleeping. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

On other simple occasions when I’m rushing here and there and tend to have a lead foot from a stopping position in my car and jump on the gas to race across the intersection only to find myself sitting there, not pushing on the gas pedal when a car runs a red light in front of me and I’m saved from a crushing car crash. Chance? Luck? Hardly!

Sometimes I pray for Tim when he’s face with a particularly difficult problem at work that seems to be going nowhere fast and instantly, the answer appears as if by magic. Magic? Hockus Pokus? Inconceivable!

So do I know the Lord loves me because of marvelous manifestations of Biblical proportions? Absolutely not! Only tiny, tender mercies shown to me day after day after day; so very small I hardly notice them until I sit down and think. Yes. I know the Lord loves me and offers His hand in my life. Will he take away my suffering? Probably not. Will it become easier to bear, a lighter burden? Yes. Do I want these things to pass from me? You better believe I do. But would I learn what I’m supposed to learn because of suffering trials? No. Not really. But I can always ask. Right?

If we don’t gain anything else from a lifetime of suffering, pain, anguish, heartache, loss, grief and torment; at least we can help others face down their demons and have and offer hope. And that’s the way it is–from the view from my hospital bed here in Camarillo on a beautiful summer Sunday morning. See you in the funny papers!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Celebrating the Marriage of Kyle Sawyer and Erin Moffit

We had the privilege of witnessing the sealing/marriage of Kyle Sawyer (the son of my good friends Greg & Martha Sawyer) and his lovely bride, Erin Moffit on June 6, 2009. Here they are with their parents:

It was a perfectly gorgeous day at the Los Angeles Temple.
The spring/early summer flower were in bloom and we decided it would be a great opportunity to update our photos. Don't you love the red flowers? (What do you think? I cut all my hair off and went darker.)
Tim always looks great in his suit and with the lovely setting with exquisitely crafted gardens in the background, it couldn't have been a lovelier day.

Ah, young love! Can't beat it.

Act Two in the continuing saga of what afflicts Carol

An update:

Before the end of May, I finished up my college English class and wrote a twenty page essay. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my essay was on the liberal slant in the media. I knew my professor would be ticked—as all professors and educators with the liberal mind set would be. But he begrudgingly gave me an A for the paper and an A in the class. So I figured that was five months well spent.

Also I mentioned before about my womanly disorder and the terrible loss of blood. I had bled out about one half of my body’s blood supply. Since the human body holds approximately six quarts or 5.6 liters of blood, that was astonishing to me.

It must have been astonishing to the doctor, because that's when my doctor insisted on the blood transfusion. I was worried over possible side effects. There’s always the worry when receiving someone else’s blood that I would develop a love of the NY Yankees and want to live in the Bronx or maybe have a crushing desire for gumbo and jambalaya and sing jazz. But the only thing that happened by the end of the evening was a feeling of giddy euphoria. Tim thought I acted like I was drunk. I was wondering, can alcoholics give blood???

Anyway, that took several more hours for me to receive two units, that’s 2 x 0.951019388 U.S. Pints or 2 cups. Not a lot of replacement blood when you consider I’d lost nearly 2 quarts. So over the next few days of feeling of as though I was a flat tire running on the jagged shoulder of the freeway for endless miles, I was fatigued, hapless and generally feeling blah. I missed a lot of work and church and life.

After the transfusion as I mentioned, I saw a GYN doctor who did a biopsy and went to a lab for an ultrasound. The results of these tests took the better part of two weeks. You really start to appreciate the value of time while waiting for results from a lab. Then Tim and I learned I had Complex Endometrial Hyperplasia with Atypia, fibroids and a cyst on one of my ovaries. English translation: an imbalance of hormones, precancerous cellular condition, high risk for cancer, thickened endometrium, heavy and continual bleeding and just a pain in the…neck!

My Gynecologist suggested total and complete clean out, so did my regular doctor. So we scheduled a visit to a genealogical oncology surgeon, someone who specializes in woman’s cancer issues. We saw him Friday, June 19th. I have to tell you, I had pretty much made up my mind to have the complete deal—the total clearing out of all essential woman parts so that further possible problems might be avoided. Who wants to be a seventy year old woman with ovarian cancer? Not me. But what the surgeon told us was bewildering and unexpected. Of course he added that a woman of “my size” would not fare well during a full-blown surgery. I wanted to scream and shout, “Hey, I’ve lost 104 pounds, doesn’t that count for anything?” I guess not. He warned against wound infections, the slow painful healing process, pneumonia, complications and other delightful things a person facing surgery wants to hear. He wondered why I hadn’t had a bi-pass surgery instead of fighting through weight loss on my own. I guess I must have had a look of incredulity on my face because he told me the statistics of people losing weight on their own then regaining it were high, perhaps 50 to 60 percent if not higher. (He’s obviously not seen my before and after pictures.)

He suggested a D&C (no not the Doctrine and Covenants) for additional biopsy results then three months of hormone replacement therapy, that is if the presence of cancer wasn't detected then at the end of the three months, more biopsies. This pattern would be repeated the rest of my life. With that option, there would still be bleeding and no telling how strong. Pleasant, right?

At the end of the discussion, I was stressed to the max, confused as heck and feeling like I could easily kill someone and probably get off because of PMS. He gave me the weekend to think it through.

Below is an ultrasound picture of Endrometrial hyperplasia with atypia
The arrows show the polyps or fibroids that are growing inside the uterus. Cause: Imbalance of hormones, too much estrogen and swelling of uterus which causes excess bleeding.

Now I know millions of women have faced similar situations and some have procrastinated their decisions for treatment with disastrous results. Nobody wants to face the decision of this magnitude. Life should be simple so you slip gracefully and quietly into those happy fulfilling and problem free golden years. Nuts to that! Seems I’m being shoved into those not-so-golden years kicking and screaming and holding on for dear life.

Today I’m researching my condition on the internet, doing an awful lot of thinking, some praying and having serious doubts. Can you say “second opinion”? All the ladies that I’m acquainted with who’ve lived through this suggest that surgery is the option that worked best for them. My surgeon suggests I won’t do well during or after surgery. Where does that leave me? I’ll tell you where. A place of confusion and frustration.

How will this end? Tune in next week for the continuing saga of “Will Carol Have the Hysterectomy or Will She Opt for the D and C With Hormone Replacement Therapy for the Rest of Her Life and Wait for Cancer to Kick In a Year or So?”

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Though deepening trials...

It's been a while since I've written in my blog. I've been through a lot. I experienced a couple of small vacations. One to Provo, Utah another to Palm Springs and then school and work seemed to consume all rest my time. I had to complete a ten page essay on the joys of the liberal media for my on-line English class. It took two weeks of intense research to finish. Now I hope for at least a passing grade.

On Mother's day, I had a situation that presented a bit of a challenge. As a woman, especially one of my age, I had hoped and prayed the days of the month "curse" would pass and pass unceremoniously. However, such was not the case in my life. By the end of the first week I was seriously concerned with light headiness, dizziness and my heart beating out of my chest. So I sought for my doctor's care.

Through blood tests and exams I learned I'd bled out one half of my body's blood supply. Not a good thing if you want to stay alive. On Tuesday evening, May 19, I was admitted to the emergency room at St. Johns/Pleasant Valley Hospital for an emergency blood transfusion. Not an experience I recommend. Just to test and type and cross match took hours. The drip of a unit of blood took even more time and then I got a second unit. That was to bring me up to just over half.

I guess blood is pretty essential to sustaining life. And I never really understood before that the blood in the body is manufactured in the bone marrow. Interesting what you can learn through medical problems. No I face enema and edema and a life time of pill taking.

Wednesday I had an exam by an OB/GYN specialist and a biopsy to rule out certain conditions or to confirm others. Now I wait. Pills were prescribed and actions recommended. New pills cause other problems and in the midst of all these trials--my neck and shoulder decide to slip from their moorings and further add to my discomfort.

So Sunday morning as I was moaning and groaning "poor me", I happened upon the following video from the church about going through hard times. It inspired me, strengthened me and caused me to think about my trials as "being a small moment" and "this too shall pass". That last one was my mother's favorite thing to tell me. She was a wise woman.

Please watch and take comfort.

When upon life billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost
Count your many blessing name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

May the Lord bless you all in whatever life hands you. Trials prove you're love. Sometimes I wish I wasn't loved quite so much!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sometimes I feel all alone!

Lately as I struggle to lose even so much as a pound of weight, I end up feeling alone in my struggle. I don't know about you, but that's not a feeling I like much. There is a desolation and a despair associated with being all alone in my trials. Not that I don't sometimes like being alone. At the end of a particularly moronic day, or when I read and study. I like being alone then to think, comprehend and just be. But when I'm troubled or frightened or afraid for the future, I don't like the feeling of being alone--abandoned, forsaken.

There was someone else who lived a very long time ago who had to walk a path that lead him to a place of utter aloneness. A place He had to stand alone against the world in order to save us from it. Jesus Christ was that someone who had to be so totally and utterly alone in order to understand our sufferings. Today being Easter I was drawn to my feelings about Him and what was said of him last week in the General Conference of our church--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lessons about the Savior were taught in the most elegant of manners beginning with the discourse of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

When you feel alone, as we all do from time to time, please try to remember that you will never be alone to face your trials such as Jesus Christ faced His. Please watch and listen to the following clip and see if you don't feel to say, I'm not really alone, I have someone who'll stand with me. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Life as a Song!

Music has defined my life. Hence the name “Carol.” As a child my basic tenets of life were defined with the words of a little children's song: “I am a Child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me and earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with him some day.” These are very simple words but with a supernal view of life and a true path to follow. The best thing my parents did for me was provide a little,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “London Bridge is Falling Down,” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Timeless classics.

Later in my life John Denver became my hero with songs like “Take Me Home Country Roads” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” When I started seeing my husband (although he didn’t realize he was going to be my husband) I used to sing Foreigner’s: “I’ve Been Waiting for a [boy] girl like you,” on my way to his house. At our reception our friends sang to us Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross' version of “Endless Love” and The Carpenter’s song, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

I surround myself with music. Sometimes when I’m asked a question, I answer with lyrics from a song. I was a whiz at the popular game show, “Name That Tune." My husband’s favorite exasperated statement aimed at me is, “Oh, Carol.” So I naturally start singing Neil Sedaka’s “Oh, Carol,” in response and it lightens the mood. So when I was asked to choose one song that defines who I am or one song that means something special to me, there is no way for me to choose just one.

Religious songs define me spiritually and there are too many to pick just one. Classical and choral songs I’ve enjoyed through all my years in school and college choirs still float around in my head. Classic rock n roll songs delight me and make me happy. I even enjoy some of the newer groups. Bon Jovi, Cold Play, Linkin Park, Nickleback, (I can see you rolling your eyes), and Paramore. Eclectic, right? I’m positively head over heals in love with Michael Buble’ and his song “Home” is my ring tone. So choosing one song has not been easy.However, last year when I decided to change my life, my married life took on a whole new thrill. Suddenly it was like we were newlyweds again and that spark that kindled between us nearly twenty seven years ago was lit anew. Then the words of Bon Jovi’s song, "Thank You For Loving Me" hit me with full force. I find myself singing it to my husband practically every day. See if the words don’t touch you as well.

"It's hard for me to say the things I want to say sometimes.
There's no one here but you and me,
and that broken old street light.
Lock the doors we'll leave the world outside.
All I've got to give to you,
are these five words tonight.

[Chorus:] Thank you for loving me.
For being my eyes when I couldn't see.
For parting my lips when I couldn't breathe.
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving me.

I never knew I had a dream until that dream was you.
When I look into your eyes the sky's a different blue.
Cross my heart I wear no disguise.
If I tried, you'd make believe, that you believed my lies.

You pick me up when I fall down. You ring the bell before they count me out.
If I was drowning you would part the sea and risk your own life to rescue me."

For me, the family is the basic unit of society and thrives when built upon the principles of shared experiences, shared loyalty and shared love and affection. These principles and elements should be revived from time to time to keep a marriage strong and vital. The last year of my life has brought me several new passions: a passion for a healthy life, a passion for writing and a passion for my husband. I hope everyone finds their own passion and keep the fire burning.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ninner, ninner, ninner. I got mine!

I just wanted to rub it in. I got my Twilight DVD today at 4 p.m. I beat the midnight rush. So ha, ha ha! I guess you know what I'll be doing tomorrow.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Falling off the wagon!

I haven't written in my blog for a very long time. There are many reasons. I'm enrolled in a college English course and the writing is tough and demanding of my precious time. I've become involved with another company and I'm helping them with their books and the training of their new bookkeeper. (Heaven help them!) I'm still working for the two other business I go to at least four times and week and now I've taken on the books of my boss's son. I have about a years worth of bookkeeping to catch up on. Yikes! And of course, I'm busily working on book number five, then throw in my birthday and Tim's and a quick weekend trip to Southern Utah to visit my dad and his wife, Edna plus Tim's father passed away and we spent a lot of Saturday's visiting him in the hospital--and you've got life at it's finest.

However, those are not the only reasons--which are very good reasons--for not writing in my blog, but the simplest reason and the straight forward one is that I've fallen off the wagon.

We've all seen people who've tried to improve their lives through weight loss, quitting smoking and drinking, stopping drug abuse and so on. And then they've seen them slip off their tenuous program and indulge in he behavior that got them in trouble in the first place. Somewhere in the back of my evil twin sister's mind, we look at them and say, "I knew they couldn't stick with it. They're so weak!" Come on, I know you've all heard that nasty little voice in the back of your head say something vicious like that. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just me. It's not that we like to see people fail at something, it's just that we don't want them to best us.

Well...I now know what it's like to slide off the wagon and back into patterns of behavior that are familiar yet destructive. Before Christmas I finally reached the middle pinnacle of my weight loss journey. 104 pounds. Although far from my goal, that seemed like a great milestone. But that's where it ended.

I know first hand what it feels like when a recovering alcoholic hears the call of the bottle which reaches out, enticing them back with the alluring feel of the liquid gold sliding down a parched throat. I know what a heroin addict must feel when they walk the streets and a dealer shoves bag of the white siren's powder under their nose. I know what seduction there is in having another smoker in the same room with you when you're craving a draw on that tobacco stick. I know because I'm also an addict.

I thought I'd concurred my addition, my obsession, my passion for FOOD! But after only eight months of strict obedience, I had not learned the basic lessons of control. I also realize that with an addiction to food, you can't completely shove it out of your life. It's around you everywhere. Your life is constantly bombarded with reasons to eat: Christmas, New Year's, birthdays, anniversaries, travel, funerals--grief. And if you haven't learned what it means to control the situation, then you'll slip off the wagon just as surely as a heroin addict or a recovering alcoholic. There really is no difference.

I then heard the other little voice in my head, the one that tells you that you really can't do it. You have no business trying to quit something or restructuring your life. You're just no good at it. We all have that voice as well. I listened when it told me "just one won't hurt." So I believed and fell. Just one box of Sees, just one pound of fantasy fudge, just one pound of honey baked ham and one pound of scalloped potatoes and one pound of pumpkin pie. Just one drink or two of egg nog and vanilla ice cream, just one more, and one more and...You get the picture.

Then there's another little voice (I'm full of them) that tells you "well now you've fallen off and lost your momentum and slipped up a few pounds, so what?" That's the voice I really hate. Because that's the voice I believe the most. "Yeah, you're right. I've really messed up. I knew I couldn't lose weight all along. You told me I couldn't do it and now you're proven me right." Boy! I hate it when I agree with myself. I sound like I'm slipping into existentialism. You know what that is, right? According to Wikipedia, "a philosophy that begins with a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. Or in other words--nonsense!

I believed the nonsense that only my mind can produce. I believed a lie.

I believed the lie my existential mind (disoriented, confused, absurd) mind was telling me. So here I am. No longer at 104 pounds down. I won't bore you with the details of exactly how many pounds I added back on my bones, but enough to have me believing the lie--you've failed, you can't go on--you're a loser. (Well technically that would be NON-LOSER!)

What's great about Weight Watchers, (and this isn't a shameless plug) it that they help you see around the lies you tell yourself and help you through the barriers that keep you from taking the first step toward jumping back on the wagon. I'm still racing behind the wagon hoping it will slow down and let me catch up. No more excuses, no more rationalizations, it's my choice whether I eat low calorie filling foods or consume everything that's not nailed down. I'm still getting my feet under me. Still trying to push out the third voice and still trying. Period.

Thank goodness I didn't stop going to the gym. That's the only thing that's saved my bacon (no pork-fat jokes, please). I still go every morning, punish myself for an hour so that I don't climb into a ditch after falling off the wagon. So for the present, I'm still running behind the wagon, praying for the strength to fight another day. That's all we can ask out of life. And oh, one more thing--I need to forgive the little voices in my head and forgive myself for tripping. After all, that's all we want from life is a little forgiveness when we stumble and a hand up. That's what Weight Watchers does for me. They offer a hand and it's my choice to clasp it or not.Anywhoo, I still can see some improvement even though I'm running fast to catch up with myself. (Is that an existential statement?)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My first college essay-A treat for you!

The following is my first attempt at a Classification Essay for my college class at Moorpark college. I thought I'd run it by my friends to see what you think. So here goes.

Carol Malone
Professor Randy Gifford
English M01
7 February 2009

California People

In 1857 in his maiden speech before the United States Senate, California Senator David C. Broderick stated, "There is no state [speaking of California] in the Union, no place on earth, where labor is so honored and so well rewarded; no time and no place since the Almighty doomed the sons of Adam to toil, where the curse, if it be a curse, rests so lightly as now on the people of California." (1 Lynch, p. 175). In 2009, people still flock to California in search of “The Dream” of making it big. Generally speaking, wages are still higher here than in other state. Opportunities for employment are more plentiful and there are a greater variety of jobs here than any other place in the nation. In spite of recent economic downturns, Californians on the whole, are still better off than most major populous cities in the rest of the world. And though the state’s economy has fluctuated from the sixth largest in the world to the current standing of tenth, people still find labor to be rewarding and lucrative. Many businesses and industries thrive in California. From mom and pop shops to import/export magnets to Fortune 500 companies—all employ vast armies of people. The following three industries consistently hail among the top ten producers of California goods and services: the farmers who toil and sweat to cultivate and grow crops in the fertile fields and valleys of this rich land, the technological geniuses that have sparked the computer information revolution, and the brilliantly talented and creative moguls of the film industry.

The leading economic industry of California has always been farming and agriculture. What is the driving force behind the California farmer who grows food for a nation as well as the entire world? Who are these people? "The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer." (2 Rogers).These people—these optimistic farmers have to ask themselves—why do I farm and where? There are many reasons. Some people farm on something called a “stewardship” farm because they are the type of people who want to “help conserve and care for the land and other natural resources of the farm”. (3 Ikerd ). And others grow food solely for commercial gain. Still other people farm because they were raised on a farm. It’s in their blood. The live for the feel of the soil, the passion to watch things grow and to enjoy the gamble. They place their bets against the uncontrollable elements, water and irrigation problems, market prices, transportation issues, property taxes, higher production costs and governmental interference. These hardy people farm because it is a family tradition and a heritage from generations past. One such family grower in the local area of Ventura County is Underwood farms in Moorpark, California. Sara Jane and Craig Underwood are the current owners of the farm and oversee the day to day operations as well as the overall care for the soil, the manipulation of crops and care for vital pollinating insects. The farm has been in Craig’s family since 1867. They are especially known for their innovation in baby and specialty vegetables. People can go to their farm and hand pick right from the fields or orchards. They have their own roadside markets that serve the community and participate in thirteen different Farmer’s Markets that bring the fresh product directly into the community and into the hands of the end consumers. Pride in accomplishment, gratitude for the cooperation of Mother Nature and a loyalty to family heritage is what drives the Underwoods and other farmers to maintain excellence in farming.

Another factor in driving the economy of California is the computer information technology industry. The majority, but not all individuals that engineer, build and compute their way into the information industry have keen minds and highly developed intellects. Stanford University is a leading factor in the development and facilitation of information technology and culminating in many opportunities for enterprising young people. One such industry leader is Larry Page who became the innovator and co-creator of the Internet’s most popular search engine—Google. Shakespeare said: "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em". (4 Shakespeare). Larry was a product of all three of those descriptions. Can the home environment and the way one is raised be the catalyst behind the career path a child chooses? Definitely. Larry was raised by a father who was a professor of computer science and a mother who taught computer programming. Engineering and computer magazines littered their home—literally. Larry said he always knew he wanted to invent things even as a young boy. Then at the age of twelve, he decided he would start his own company someday. When he went to Stanford for the PhD program, his research turned into something called a “search engine,” then other people thrust him into the limelight.“We didn't start out to do a search engine at all. In late 1995, I started collecting the links on the Web, because my advisor and I decided that would be a good thing to do. We didn't know exactly what I was going to do with it, but it seemed like no one was really looking at the links on the Web -- which pages link to which pages. In computer science, there's a lot of big graphs. Right now, (the Web) has like five billion edges and two billion nodes. So it is a huge graph. I figured I could get a dissertation and do something fun and perhaps practical at the same time, which is really what motivates me.” (5 Interview: Larry Page). Millions of people have been affected by the efforts, drive and genius of Larry Page. The word “Google” is actually considered a verb now. Who hasn’t “Googled” for a web site, map, directions, on-line images and a view of the earth from a satellite? From home nurturing to desire and drive to creative innovation, Larry Page has put his personal stamp on the economy of California and on the world.

Other major contributors to the economy of California are the people who drive the film industry. These talented and creative people use their genius to entertain and enliven. Who are these people and what are they like? Are they formally educated, have they had years of training in the industry or just have a stupendous amount of luck? For some movie moguls it is a combination of all three factors. One such mogul who has flooded the world with a treasure trove of entertainment, is the talented and creative director and producer, Steven Spielberg. Millions of people have spent billions of dollars to be entertained, scared stiff or to lose themselves in a world of fantasy and adventure all due to the unparalleled contributions of Steven Spielberg. He once reported that film making was in his blood. He made little films of blowing up Lionel trains as a young child, filming them then charging his friends to watch them. He had his little sister selling popcorn. Thus began his journey into film production.Steven made his own inroads into the business. After being denied entrance into prestigious film schools, he attended the University of Long Beach and studied English. On a ride around Universal Studios, he hopped off the tram, found a small janitorial closet and set up business. The studio people just got used to having him around so he stayed. Each step in Steven’s career led him upward. He made his first amateur film; an eight minute Western called The Last Gun, which eventually led him down the path to the ultimate dream fulfillment. From his first full length picture, he has also brought us alien fantasies such as E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, action horror films such as Jaws, and adventurous romps such as the Raiders of the Lost Ark series. Then he has caused us to think with movies like The Color Purple and Schindler's List. He has captivated the kids with cartoons such as "Tiny Toon Adventures", and "Pinky and the Brain". California and the rest of the world will not soon forget the impact Steven Spielberg has had on the film industry. The State's economy had benefited immensely from the $4,613,000,000.00 his films have grossed. Roger Ebert (Sun-Times film critic) has stated, “If Spielberg never directed another film, his place in movie history would be secure. No other director has been more successful at the box office and few have placed more titles on various lists of great films. No director or producer has ever put together a more popular body of work. That’s why the movies we’re seeing are made in his image.” (6 Wills).

When the rest of the nation and the world—for that matter—look for a model of financial prowess, economic success and people who are willing to lay it all on the line for the industries they represent,California leads the way. From the humble people who bring crops from the ground sometimes with nothing more than their bare hands to the heads of major film studios, people of many unusual backgrounds and upbringing and differing fields of expertise can change the face of business and the economy. These three types of Californians, the farmers like the Underwoods, the technologically gifted entrepreneurs like Larry Page and men with vision and creativity like Steven Spielberg have changed forever the face of California industry and economics. They have influenced all of California—if not the rest of the world—with their hard work and devotion to a dream. Their labors have been richly rewarded and the world honors them.

1 Lynch, Jeremiah, 1849-1917, The Life of David C. Broderick, A Senator of the Fifties,1911); San Francisco, A.M. Robertson publisher, p. 175

2 Rogers, Will,

3 Ikerd, John, Why Do Small Farmers Farm? Published in Small Farm Today Magazine,September-October, 2003

4 Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night (Act II, v, 156-159)

5 Interview: Larry Page, Founding CEO, Google Inc. October 28, 2000; London, England; Academy of Achievement at This page last revised on Mar 1, 2007 13:44 PS

6 Wills, Dominic;

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chapter from my book #5

I finished roughing my fourth book on the 29th of December and immediately plunged into book number five. It's another love story, (what else), taking place in my home town of Camarillo with a young man who's been married, divorced and has custody of his two children. He meets a young woman that he doesn't want to love and then the fun begins. So here is Chapter Two of my fifth book:

He hadn’t intended to stare, but when a man’s been without a woman in his life for as long as he had, well, it was a welcome sight. Marc, or Marcellus Hamlet Swane, as his fanciful flighty mother had named him, was just retrieving the boxes containing the wood laminate for his son Adam’s free-wheeling bedroom. Marc opted for man-made products for the rambunctious and boisterous young five year old boy who moved through a home more like a charging rhino than a normal human being. Durable, sensible and practically indestructible, that’s what the label on the box read and Marc was all for it.

Before grabbing the final box and hefting it into the house, he’d couldn’t help but hear the 306 horses roaring down the block and squealing to a brisk stop in the driveway of the James’s old house across the street. Silvery steel gray, he smiled. His favorite color. The guy had taste. Then the car open and long silky legs slid out half hidden under a butterscotch colored skirt followed up by a jacket in the same color with a blouse the color of melting butter. Some guy was all Marc could manage. That’s when he dropped the last box, leaned back against the tailgate of the truck and crossed his arms and legs to enjoy the view.

The woman stopped for the longest time and just looked at the house then turned to look down the street as if looking for someone. Her lips moved but at this distance, he couldn’t hear what she said. Talking to her self, he mused, wasn’t a very good sign of a stable mind. Anybody that looked like that, drove a hot car like that and lived all alone in a huge English Tudor had to be just a little bit off. But that isn’t why he kept watching.

The Hoffman’s dog was running around in circles in the yard next door, but the women in butterscotch didn’t seem to notice. Loud rap music wafted from Ricky Hernandez’s car as he started it up to go to work at In-N-Out. Then the yard crew down the block at the Rameriz’s place began the loud work of grooming the yard, but she continued to stare off into the west as if saying good bye. And he kept watching her—wondering.

Why hadn’t he noticed her before? Surely he would have noticed a woman who looked like she just stepped from the pages of Glamour before now. Maybe he should have been paying attention to his Aunt and Uncle’s home a long time ago instead of staying away from it like a wounded puppy. But their passing and the subsequent legal battle for their estate had left everyone in the Brightstone/Swane family on edge and bitter. He was no exception.

He glanced again at the blond with the great legs and the great car and wondered if she’d finally come to the conclusion of her daydream. He figured a woman like that was totally self-absorbed just as Lilly had been and accustomed to having the finer things in life.

Caution brother, he warned himself. They’re okay to look at, maybe pine for, but hands off! Let some other sucker grind his teeth on that one.
Just then the woman reached up and pulled something out of her hair releasing almost three feet of the silkiest wheat colored hair he’d ever seen, then shook it out. Then she bent over to pick up the newspaper and his mouth went bone dry. Fighting unchaste thoughts he looked down at his dirty, calloused hands and fidgeted. It wasn’t right for him to be staring at a woman like he’d been doing. He should get back to work. There was so much to do before move-in day. He didn’t have the luxury to stand and watch a beautiful woman that had an invisible sign on her attractive back that read “hands off buster”. And even though he hadn’t been what you would call really active in church of late, he knew it was wrong to crave something akin to the woman who’d broken his heart. Stupid, he chided himself. Absolutely stupid. Get back to work.

Before he could move, the leggy, blond fished something out of her trunk and moved inside the house without a backwards glance in his direction.

After she was safely inside, another car screamed down the street and bumped violently into the drive way next to the Z. He prayed the little Mazda Miata wouldn’t come in contact with the Z. It would devastate him. Another tall leggy brunette half slid, half pulled her yard long legs out of the squatty car and skipped up the sidewalk after the blond. Just before she ducked into the house, she shot him a cool look over Oakley sunglasses and pursed her lips.

What a show! Two gorgeous women for a price of one.

He’d just about decided to turn around and lift the box from the truck bed when another car chugged down the street. A little red Fiat about thirty years old clamored to a stop in front of the same house. Marc watched out of pure curiosity. The door had to be forced open and complained loudly with a metal grind. A woman of medium height with short spiky black hair tumbled out of the car almost meeting up with the ground. Her lips moved in a silent derision, but she dusted off her black slacks and straightened her silky black blouse and shot him what looked like a disgusted look, but he couldn’t tell for sure because as she also wore black sunglasses that kept her eyes hidden from him. He imagined black as well.

She gripped a very large purse, the contents almost spilling to the ground, slammed the complaining door and sauntered—hips swinging to the door and disappeared after giving him a thorough look. Black cat crossed his mind. She resembled a black slinky cat. He imagined she just might purr.

He turned back to the truck bed and picked up the last box of flooring. As he slammed the tailgate, two more cars raced down the street. He laid odds which house they’d stop at. Man, he was glad he hadn’t bet against himself—he’d have lost.

This time a long legged red head and a diminutive blond bounded out of an old Chevy and a Toyota Prius. Gas hog and environmentalist, he smiled and leaned back to enjoy the rest of the show.

The red head looked like an Irish dream dressing to her strengths in emerald green and gold. The little blond wore a simple pair of dark pink slacks and a pink blouse. Some sort of uniform.They met and hugged in the middle of the street. Marc envied their easy camaraderie. Then the red head tilted her sunglasses down a long perfect nose and studied him. Her ruby red lips curled up at the corners and she muttered something to the little blond that had her spinning around to stare in his direction.

Red waved a hand and his went up automatically in response, frustrating the life out of him. Stay cool, brother, he warned himself. No need getting involved with a hen house full of dishing women. Before the blond could reciprocate the wave, he strode off to the house and slammed the door. Women!