Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24, 2012 - A Blog Hop!



You may have noticed things have been a wee bit quiet here the past couple of months.  That’s what appendicitis, a cancer diagnosis and two surgeries will do to one’s writing schedule and inclination.  I’m reentering the world a bit more every day and happened to find this mentioned on my friend Donna’s site My Write Spot.

Throwing all caution (and projects I planned for this morning) to the wind, I have jumped in!  I hope you will visit Katherine’s site at Beyond the Hourglass Bridge to see what it’s all about and visit the participating sites.  Thanks, Katherine, for sponsoring this fun project. 

Okay, I’m off to check out some blogs!

Thanks for stopping by!  Now go write!


Baby’s Gift - A Dog’s Love



It had been raining steadily all week in my Houston, Texas neighborhood. The dirty, soaked-to-the-skin, brown dog took shelter beneath the motorhome parked along the curb at the end of the street. Seemingly frightened of its own shadow, it returned to the bit of dry comfort provided under the motorhome after running in sheer terror from monsters such as the city garbage truck. Each day my heart broke just a bit more with the pitiful scene unfolding.

Living with someone who had never had a dog (we were a cat household) and who expressed disinterest in ever coexisting with a canine, the decision I made was to hopefully gain enough of the dog's trust to get it to the shelter. If I was successful, at least this pup would have a chance at a loving home.

Approaching the motorhome slowly with food, I kept my voice soft with, “It's okay, baby, it's all right. Don't be afraid, baby, sweetie.” After leaving food within her reach, she would eat only after I backed away and came no closer. A few days of this routine and . . . she followed me hesitantly down the street back to my house. Once there, I sat on the street curb, constantly talking softly to her . . . “Hi, baby, it's okay. Hey, sweetie, aren't you a sweet baby.” Before long, she was in my lap, in my heart and in my home.

She was young, perhaps six months old when she entered my life during that rainy week in October 1997. Baby was essentially healthy with the exception of a blown left pupil from blunt head trauma; she bore a slight scar above her eye all her years. With me until February 2010, her health was excellent. The only vet visits were routine check-ups.

Snapshots from Our Life Together

  • Baby never tore up anything excepting the box of Junior Mints she procured from my home-office desk during those early days. “Oh no!  The dog ate a box of chocolate!  Chocolate can kill a dog!”  The only aftereffect was her having minty-fresh breath for days!  A few years later, she also cleaned a plate of banana bread when silly me went to the kitchen for a few minutes and left the plate on a coffee table.

  • Countless tears fell to her fur during my cancer experience and the dark times following the dissolution of my previous marriage.

  • Ours was a cat-and-dog household; however, the cats were there first.  I wondered what Baby’s reaction would be when I introduced two young kitty brothers to the mix.  Her reaction?  “Mom!!  You brought me kitties!”  Gentle and tolerant as always, she allowed them to play with her, perform “sneak attacks” on her and welcomed them as her little brothers.

  • Baby was always my protector and guardian.  During my move from Texas to Minnesota, there was one hotel she apparently did not like.  She slept across the hotel room door threshold, refusing to hop into bed with me or budge from her spot at all until the next morning.

  • In all the Reiki classes I taught, Baby was right there with me greeting students, sitting in the circles with us and allowing students to practice their Reiki techniques on her.  During one class, as I came to the end of the row of students receiving their attunements, there sat Baby!  She was telling me she was ready.  She received her Reiki II Practitioner attunements that weekend.

  • The Thanksgiving Baby and I went camping, my first solo outing with a new tent, my first solo camping experience period, she did not laugh as I erected that big tent but only politely grinned, although I don’t know that I can say the same for campers at neighboring sites.   Sitting together by the campfire at night, she quietly said “Boof” as folks strolled by on the road, alerting them to her presence and me to theirs while not making a disturbing “Yap yap yap” like other dogs in the campground.

  • When I spent three months in Scotland with Dave prior to our marriage, Baby boarded at a sled dog facility in Minnesota.  Upon returning to pick her up, I wondered about my reception after leaving her that long (she had been boarded for a night or two on various occasions during previous years).  When she recognized my whistle, her handler released her lead and she bounded through the snow, knocking me down with her hugs and kisses.  I will never forget that joyous homecoming!


Dave and Baby in Minnesota – She loved snow


  • Our wedding in our Minnesota home would not have been complete without Baby’s attendance.


Helping me on wedding day



Baby’s Gift

Dave had never lived with a dog.  He knew right from the get it was “Love me; Love my dog.”  Baby adored him from the first meeting; all girls love a Scottish brogue, eh?  It seemed through the years that Dave “tolerated” her for my sake.  After all, she was “my” dog; we had the history together.

Baby had aged quite a bit in the last couple of years.  The sight in her good eye was shadows only and her hearing was virtually gone; she could “lose” me in the same room.  She was not in pain, but she was not enjoying life as before.  She was having trouble getting around, her hips and legs giving out now and then.

For weeks I struggled with the decision.  Was it time?  There is no turning back once it is done.  What should I do?  Was she ready to go?  Was I ready to give her up?


Having had to make similar decisions throughout my life, I told myself, yes, it was time.  She had given me so much – all of her love, compassion, joy and protection – I owed her more than the indignity of a slow death by infirmity.

I made the phone call to our vet and arranged to be there the next day following work.  When I told Dave, the tears came for him.  For the next 24 hours, I believe he “saw” Baby for the first time, realizing the love he had for her and acknowledging her adoration of him.  Staying strong for her, I encouraged him to do the same in her presence so she would not be upset.

Dave had never been with any living creature at its passing from this world.  In the exam room at the vet the next afternoon, we had Baby’s cushy bed, her blankie, her favorite “fluffy,” a candle burning with the lights turned down and a Reiki music CD playing.  Dave, the vet and I quietly talked to Baby and loved on her.  The drug coursing through her veins to stop her tired, devoted and courageous heart reached its goal and, as throughout her life when relaxed and drifting into The Dreamtime, her last breath was a simple, contented sigh.

At that last breath, I lost it.  No longer putting up the strong “front” for my Baby-Dog, the tears showered her Shepherd-like coat and I cried out her name.  At these words even today,  I am misty-eyed.

I hear you saying, “Okay, what was Baby’s Gift, already?”

Her gift was her love, not just for me, for I have known before the  unconditional and devoted love of a Dog.

No, Baby’s Gift was to Dave, for he had never known what it is to be loved by a Dog and had never loved a Dog.



As we left the vet clinic, Dave remarked that Baby’s passing was “beautiful,” and indeed it was.  He also said, “We could get another dog sometime . . .”

Baby was cremated and some of her ashes spread on the property of friends near Brenham, Texas, where I lived for many years and which I still consider “home.”  We had a wee life celebration for her . . .


Dave, me and Maggie at Baby’s Life Celebration – April 2010


That summer, friend Sue told me “Baby’s Spot” was a beautiful carpet of Texas Bluebonnets with all the recent rain.

Baby loved to travel and camp, so the rest of her is with us as we travel and work as full-time RVers.  Dave has said he would like to sprinkle some of her ashes in The Highlands of Scotland on our next visit.

Curious about Maggie shown in the above photo?  Our Marvelous Maggie joined the Barnes clan about a month or two following Baby’s passing.  Dave and I truly believe she was guided to us by Baby, as our Maggs is a total joy and blessing.  Friends at Baby’s life celebration remarked it seemed as if Maggie knew what we were doing; she was quiet, respectful and loving of everyone there.

I know these blog entries should be short; however, this one is what it is, and I thank you for staying with me all the way through.  I’ll try to behave from now on . . .

Thanks for stopping by!  Now go write!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12, 2012 - Thoughts on Oncologist Visit and on Life


This morning’s visit with the oncologist held no surprises. 

  • Goblet cell carcinoid is a rare form of cancer with less than 1000 cases in the USA annually.  Interpretation:  There is not the volume of case studies available as one finds with breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.  They don’t really know much about it or what to do with it.
  • The surgery I have had (right hemicolectomy and bilateral oophorectomy) was  standardized (as standardized as it gets) and aggressive treatment for the size of tumor I had. 
  • Chemotherapy is not blatantly warranted at this point and chemo has  not been shown to significantly prolong longevity in goblet cell carcinoid cases.
  • The overall 5-year survival rate for all stages (combined) of goblet cell is 76%.  I could have 3 years, 5 years, 30 years or be gunned down in the Walmart parking lot tomorrow.  Statistics are numbers and just that. 
  • We were given names of specialist oncologists at the University of Pennsylvania, and I could pursue a third opinion.  I (after consulting with Dave) choose not to do this.   At this time, I am NED (No Evidence of Disease).  We opt for watchful waiting with a CT scan in six months.  In conversing with the oncologist, I received affirmation that the findings of my research pretty much sum up what the professionals know about this type of cancer at this stage.
  • I choose quality over quantity.
  • I choose to live Life and savor every moment, hour, day, night, person, emotion and experience until it is time for me to pass from this world.  This has been my philosophy for more years than I can count and is simply affirmed, re-emphasized if you will, by this experience.  We all have an expiration date and no guarantees of another breath.
  • I choose to love, laugh, explore, experience, play, learn and grow in the time I have here on Earth.  I am so very fortunate to be sharing the lifestyle of my dreams with a man I absolutely adore and a wee, sweet doggie.  Life is damn good and I feel good!
  • I ain’t done yet, folks.
  • With this visit behind us, I can now put some daily emotional closure to the events of the Summer, at least for now.   I hope to keep this experience alive for the purposes of serving as a benchmark for how to live my life and for sharing the lessons learned through my writing, teaching Reiki and supporting others in distress.
  • I still have physical healing to do with regards to the surgeries.  That will just take time, but I’ll be patient.  Hey, it’s a good excuse for a nap!

My sights are now set on resuming my CPR and Reiki teaching endeavors, volunteering as a member of the local CERT organization and getting back to being able to physically do whatever I want.

The hard work is done.  Let’s go play!

Thanks for stopping by!


I am a Warrior.





Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 5, 2012 - Insecure Writers Support Group


I had written this last week and then forgot to post it yesterday!

Insecure Writers Support Group

Here it is another month and time for the IWSG post.  Last month’s post saw me still awaiting surgery and a verdict whether or not cancer was spreading in my body. 

Pathology reports were clean!  Mind you, I’m scheduled to meet with an oncologist in about a week, but we don’t expect any life-changing news at that visit.  As far as we know, surgery has done the job of getting rid of the cancer and all I have to do for the foreseeable future is continue recovering from two major surgeries in about a month’s time. 

So many thoughts and emotions go through your head when you are on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis.  Fear.  Joy.  Love. Anger.  Determination.  Spirituality.  Strength.   They seem to be on a conveyor belt, passing through your existence and awareness about as fast as you read each one of those words.

As if I didn’t have enough material and ideas for my WIP prior to the events of the past month, I sure do now. 

These days I am at the point of realizing that and wanting to capture this latest experience while it is still so very fresh, so real. 

On the other hand, I can’t quite seem to settle down long enough to write more than short Facebook entries or my (sort of) daily blog. 

I’m thinking what I need is a bit more time, actually, to digest my experiences and emotions, to bring some order (at least in my head) to them and more physical healing time.    A little distance.  It’s perhaps still too raw to attempt to capture.

Part of a cancer diagnosis is fear.  At the time, I was keeping that fear at bay.  Soon, I think, I’ll be able to face that and talk about it.

Besides, I still have a tendency to nap during the day.

Daylight is on its way out; Winter is soon here.  I’m looking forward to huddling in my writer’s neuk and putting in some serious keyboard time.

How’s your project going?

Thanks for stopping by!

Now go write!

Warrior bracelet

I am a Warrior.