Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Notes From The Canyon

A first hint of fall has settled over our canyon with morning temperatures a steady 40 F, but days still hot and desert windy. I'm reading The Stars Bleed at Midnight, by my friend Roland Yeomans, loving the book and Roland's English. I don't know if he takes liberties with the language or not, but what he does, how he writes is original and beautiful. I wrote desert windy above, and wondered if I was inspired by Roland. 

My husband, although he is not more ill or anything, is in a very strange place where I can't go. Or so it seems. So while I am completely absorbed in what is happening with him, he does not want to be in my blog, so I will not write about him often, only when I need some virtual hugs. That is truly part of taking care of myself, which I must do so I can take care of him. The other day, I really needed all your virtual hugs. Thank you for sending them my way, you helped me so much. 

All throughout my school years, my mom waited for me to come home from school with hot chocolate and French rolls ready on our kitchen table. And I would tell her about my day. I could share everything with my mom and I did: Boys, first kisses, first love, jazz clubs in Old Town Stockholm, everything. She knew all my secrets. 

Lately, when I drive home from our town here, I talk to her again. And I cry then. It's OK because there are hardly any cars on that road. By the time I get home to our mailboxes, I dry my tears and my husband knows nothing about this. 

My mom has been gone now for almost 30 years. Do you think this is weird on my part? The social worker at UCLA gave me a list of psychologists. I threw it away, that was last month, now I wonder........

This is the season when the gray rabbit brush bursts out in gorgeous yellow flowers. This is also the season of juniper berries/cones, which provide food for all omnivorous critters of the canyon. Sadly, this year not a single juniper tree on our property is bearing fruit.

The junipers should be heavy with berries/cones like this one in front of our house some years ago. This year nothing. We have hundreds of these trees here and not a single one has berries.

In this, the third year of the worst drought in California history, designated an Extreme Drought by those who know, conditions in nature are indeed serious and sad. 

On our land, all ground squirrels, chipmunks, and gophers are gone. They have been gone since last year, with a few exceptions. I have not seen a single bobcat for over a year and I would see them all the time. However, the few coyotes that have come by looked to be in good condition. Not so with the rabbits, both cottontails and Jack rabbits are smaller and skinnier. I put out left overs from the garden for them. 

There really is less of everything in nature, birds, snakes, lizards, even flies are much smaller. The wild sunflowers that line our roads this time of year are no larger than your everyday daisy. The only insects that seem to do well are those little nasty ants that tend to move into your kitchen when the weather gets cold. I have lived through many dry years in the city since moving to Southern California without giving it much thought. But now I feel it in my bones, in my soul, and in my heart here in the canyon.

This week, our local paper devoted a page to an 82-year old woman who has lived here in the canyon for 40 years and now lives alone with bears as frequent visitors. And bears were also on everyone's mind when we had coffee after our last CERT meeting. All of us had met up with a bear this year or had them in our trash, like we have had twice now. They usually come down this time of year to eat juniper berries. With no berries, who can blame them for hitting your trash? One bear apparently drank 2 six-packs of Coca Cola, belonging to the lady above. 

I don't think I wrote about this here, but I completed my CERT training and got the above certificate this past spring. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, and, as such, if there is an emergency in the canyon we become the first responders. The training was led by a man who had been a firefighter and he, and those who assisted him, were excellent teachers. 

I took the class to learn how to respond in an emergency, knowing that this would help me to stay calm. Type 1 diabetics, like me, do not respond well to adrenaline rushes, which make blood sugars go to the brain to give the energy needed for a fight or flight response. While this works well for healthy people, without insulin to modify it, I get way too much sugar on the brain, making me unable to think, so I panic and freeze up.  The body is an amazing thing when it works right, not so good when it doesn't.

Upon graduation, I got a vest and this cool hardhat. An added benefit ~ I met some really nice and caring people who live in the canyon. Some of the women have a knitting group that meets every Friday. Sorry about how long this post is getting, but I had to tell you about CERT and this knitting group in response to your hopes that I am taking care of me. I needed to let you know that I am. And sometimes my stories get long...... 

The first thing I learned in CERT training: First take care of yourself so you can help others, then your family, then your neighbors, and then the community. Since I was so tired after all the trauma and all the driving this summer, I didn't go to their monthly CERT meetings nor to the knitting group then. But I went to one monthly CERT meeting and to one knitting group this month. I won't knit, but I will take up crochet again. I used to enjoy that so much years ago. I had no yarn, but I borrowed some and the women were very helpful and showed me how to do the basics. 

Then the other day, when I was in our town, I stopped by the thrift store, always looking for books. While in there, I thought that they may have some yarn too. 

And I found this big bag full of yarn for me to practice on. For the grand old price of $2.00. I don't like the colors much, but they will do for now. I have already started my practice piece. I have no idea what it will be, but the main thing is that I have found another way to take care of myself. New friends and an old hobby. 

I have a Samson & Faith post coming up. Taking pictures and writing for my blog will be another way I take care of me.

And it is true, as some of you noted in your comments, I am blessed to be very, very happy with the small things in life, which really are so much larger than we ever imagine. The poet said:

To see the World in a Grain of Sand
and Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour....

Thank you again for you kind comments. I will be visiting all of you, maybe not today, but soon. 

See you soon!

Yours truly, Samson & Faith


  1. Oh my friend, I feel your pain. I have walked your path. Never did I think to ask Richard if it was okay for me to include him and his journey was my medicine to write about it. I am sure he would have understood. I am here anytime. I wish we lived closer and I could come help you or just listen. You and husband are in our prayers here!!

  2. You can live in my neighborhood, anytime - you swedish cert certified goddess you :)!

    And it looks like Samson is telling Faith to "behave, little girl" lol

    And what a sad world it is when we are no longer allowed to grieve...I know what I would do with that list...Its good to go to someone when your stress is making it difficult to function with your normal routine, and to especially get advice in how to handle issues as they coms along, buts its another thing to not allow yourself to have human emotions. In fact thats when I do my best writing, Inger! So please, take care of yourself and let yourself grieve for loved ones, and life things lost - its a normal human response and it takes time...once I had a wonderful doctor tell me that it was okay for me to lose 20 lbs ( i couldnt really afford to lose that much, i was scary skinny) while going through a divorce while adjusting to being a single parent to my two young girls under the age of 10 - I was told that my very normal human response of "fight or flight" had taken over - you cant eat right when that happens because your arteries sends blood to your arms and legs instead of your digestive system. Once the pressure was off, I had no prob gaining the weight back - mentally I actually needed permission from someone to allow myself to be in very human fight or flight response...And I thank that doctor today for allowing me to be human, rather then giving me pills...

    I happen to LOVE the colors - good choice! You could make Faith a little jacket to keep her armpits and belly warm this winter!

    Loved to hear from you again, XOXOX!

  3. You know that we are here for you wherever & whenever you need us!!

  4. Faith is really growing!

    Loving the desert pictures, that rabbit bush is beautiful.

    Seems to be feast or famine as far as the rainfall anymore. It is so hard on the critters.

    Congrats on your CERT! I'll bet you look darn pretty!

    Ah, the things of life are so different as we grow old. Take care Inger, sending hugs.

  5. a CERT, what a great achievement, and finding days so very hard, we are all here, please just ask, hugs and love sent across the oceans and deserts. Is there any way you can have time for yourself, a caregiver maybe a few hours a week, down here in NZ, that is available, after assessments etc., Samson and Faith will shower you with TLC in reality. Hugs, XXX Jean

  6. You are not strange to talk to your mom that way. I do something similar driving home from the hospital especially when it's a down day after seeing hubs. I consider it a form of self therapy, trying to get out what bothers me.

    Congrats on the CERT completion!

    It's getting chilly in the evenings here in Vancouver too!

  7. Hi Inger - we need to cry and to share ... so it's good to read you've reconnected with your mother in de-stressing talks ... it will help I am sure.

    It sounds as though you're doing the right things in the way that you can around your canyon .. getting some wool to crochet with - what a great idea .. and there's us lot - always here for you.

    California is going through a bad time without the rains ... I hope they return soon and everything can recover ... so there's not quite so much aridity ...

    Congratulations on your CERT - it must be reassuring that you've that extra knowledge and resources you can call on ... cool hat - matches some of your yarn? So pleased too about the caring friends you've met by signing up ... they will be a wonderful reassurance for you ...

    Love your poet words ... great quotation to keep up front .. while Samson and Faith will keep you up to the mark ..

    Big hugs and take care and from this side of the pond - many thoughts - Hilary

  8. Some people think that is bad to take care of yourself first - but you have to in so many ways.

    I think crying and talking to your mother and to God is wonderful.

    And I love the yellow plants.

    Congrats on your certification!

    Consider yourself hugged!

  9. so sorry to read about how bad your drought is. our world is really out of whack, all of it, nature wise i mean.. the pups looks wonderful
    i think the cert group and knitting group will help you as much as a therapist would do for you... getting out and taking your mind off your thoughts with friends is therapy and caregivers need that kind of therapy. your photos are really beautiful today...

  10. I feel your pain. And what lovely shots full of golden light.

  11. I have been following that drought with increasing concern. My 85 year old mother lives in a retirement community in Sacramento. She has a little house there, and she just can't seem to realize that things are changing. Her water bill is outrageous, but she insists on keeping a green grass lawn, because she has always had one.

    I have an interest in the Anasazi civilization, and there's a school of thought which believes a drought finished them off in the 1200's. Makes me wonder..

    You are under a lot of stress, but you are coping heroically. I know a lot of people who wouldn't do as well.

    Stay brave.

  12. i hate the drought situation your area is facing for so long, now. i am glad you are finding ways to give time to yourself. :)

  13. I was thinking the same thing that Paula said, I can feel your pain. You really do seem weighted down. I would love to tell you that everything will be better soon but none of us know that. It will change...that I know. I'm proud of you for getting the CERT training! That's great! Sending you lots of hugs today my friend! Your buddy, Diane

  14. As D.G. says: you are not strange to talk to your mother though she is gone. I hear my mother's words in my mind at times. I can hear Sandra, my best friend, comment on my day though she is fighting her own battle with cancer, and I would not bother her.

    The people close to you become a part of you -- so much so you can come to know what they would advise in a situation even though they are gone.

    If you husband does not read your blog, talk about him. It will help relieve stress.

    People fighting personal struggles with health need space both emotional and physical to pull it all together. When mother was dying, though my store was in the middle of the mall, I would crouch down and huddle in a corner between showcases and hug my knees, just breathing deep and asking the Father for strength.

    Yes, I do take liberties with the language as pretty ladies won't let me take liberties with them!

    Nature itself seems to be in a process of re-structuring. Animals are migrating away from Yellowstone I hear -- which is not a good omen concerning the super-volcano beneath its surface.

    You are in my prayers. I am late for work, but you have my email address.

    Thanks for reading my THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT. Mark Twain approves! ;-)

  15. I am sure you will make something delightful with that yarn and it will be good therapy. You are really being challenged right now and I just know you are stronger than even you realize. If CA ever comes out of the drought, I hope you will see a change in the direction you would like to as far as nature goes.
    I also wanted to respond to your questions about growing mint. It makes wonderful tea. All you need to do is cut it before it goes to seed, rinse it off and hang it by the stems to dry. Then store in an airtight container and use with a teaball or tea bag. Peppermint tea is wonderful for digestion or an upset tummy.

  16. I don't think it's weird that you talk to your mother. It sounds very healthy to me.


  17. Have fun with your new hobbies, some fingerless mitts for winter would be a good project for your yarn, I haven't knitted for years, can't follow a pattern but did create several pairs of fingerless mitts using basic stitch.

  18. So glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself. Like your CERT training, you must take care of yourself first before you can take care of others.
    I completely understand about talking to your mother. My Mom has been dead 10+ years, and I still call out for her sometimes, like an involuntary response.

  19. Congrats on your CERT training. Very smart. As with most situations, if we are prepared, we aren't scared. Hopefully that knowledge you gained will keep your adrenalin in check should an emergency arise. Also glad you are joining the knitting group. When I moved here, I joined several clubs and formed great friends as a result. Support groups are very important in times of stress. We will be your virtual support.

  20. Being strong within is the only way to be when it comes to disasters.

    The drought has hit the grovees hard. Orange trees have been cut down so the strong ones can survive. Same with avocados.

    Drought hits the soul and heart too. Don't let it take charge of you.

  21. I think that talking with your mother helps. I still do a little with my mother and I think it gives you strength. My mother died when I was 25 and I still miss her. Here in Colorado we have had a very rainy summer, very unusual but good for the 100 year old conifers. And it will snow tomorrow, just a bit they say! Hummingbirds still here but perhaps after our cold night, they will leave for Mexico and South America. There are some lovely yarns in that bag. Sending hugs through cyber space.

  22. I'm in the midst of crocheting a baby blanket for the newest grandbaby (Brett's son & wife). I had to re-learn how to do it; the last time I crocheted was when I was pg with my daughter - 20 years ago. And, I don't think it is at all weird to talk to your mom. I still talk to my mom, and cry, and I think I always will.

  23. Most of us turn to our moms when we become overwhelmed with life struggles, whether they are still with us or not. Our moms comforted us when we were young and our memories take us back to that safe and warm place where we were loved unconditionally. I have been going to that place, myself, quite a bit lately.

    That is good news that you have joined two new groups. That can be good therapy for you. My best to you, Inger.

  24. Congratulations on completeing your CERT training, let's hope you never need to put the training into practise, but if you do, it's great that you can be of some help to your community.

    I don't think talking to your Mother is weird, for you it's a coping mechanism and if it helps you, I don't see the harm in that.

    Thank you for you lovely comment on my 'blog hop' post, and for checking in as you worry, but all is well, I'm actually doing quite a bit better now and I'm back with Alex so that in itself has been wonderful.

    Sending a big virtual hug, and I like these long update sort of posts, it's nice to see what you have been up to and having a catch up :)

  25. Hello Inger. Thanks for the update. I am happy to hear that you have been looking after yourself. What good would you be to your husband if you didn't?
    I do appreciate his want of privacy and your respect for that wish.
    I can't imagine what a drought feels and looks like....other than through photos.
    You had a very healthy and close relationship with your mother. She is an essential part of you and always will be. I read once that we are our mothers and our grandmothers with just slight differences. So talk as much as you can to her and seek her will know her responses.
    Wonderful photos Inger! And what a happy one of Samson and Faith!
    Good to 'see' you today at my post!

  26. I talk to my Mum too. She died three years ago. I never could talk to Mum like you talked to yours though. That must have been special. I am very impressed with that certificate. And I'm sending massive ((hugs)) which I've asked Samson to pass on in the form of licks ;-) take care of yourself. Love x

  27. I talk to my Mum too. She died three years ago. I never could talk to Mum like you talked to yours though. That must have been special. I am very impressed with that certificate. And I'm sending massive ((hugs)) which I've asked Samson to pass on in the form of licks ;-) take care of yourself. Love x

  28. Oh Feral said it just like I wanted to darn her always beating me:):) she is right you know about the Swedish Goddess thing. I love the colours of the yarn to I think once you mix them together they will be beautiful.
    I wish I lived closer I would be there to hug you and give you all I have everyday my friend. I talk to my Dad everyday and when I need to talk I am sure he is listening just like your Mom.
    Take care of your self just what that Feral woman (no worries I love that girl) said we love you Inger never forget that.
    Congrats on the certificate. Hugs hugs and lots more hugs. B

  29. I wish I were there to give you a big, big hug (((((HUG)))) !! It is wonderful how you could tell your mom everything and how you continue to talk to her. I believe that is good therapy. You are such a strong, adventurous woman, Inger. I am envious of your bravery and positive attitude. These things I need to work on with me. And what a wonderful thing to be a part of CERT! I too, would freeze up in an emergency. But you will handle all well! You are certified!! I am So proud of my dear canyon friend!!
    Gracie says: Your brother is pretty cute, Samson. Not as cute as you... but cute. Licks and sloppy kisses from Gracie!

  30. Dear Inger, love your post. Your words about your Mom brings tears on my eyes. You wrote lovely words about your dear Mom. I miss my mother too and like you did, I could share everything with her. My Mom has been gone now for almost 17 years.

    What a gorgeous yellow flowers! Love also junipers and it is sad that junipers trees on your property is bearing no fruits. Drought is very bad indeed. Sounds scary to me that an 82-year old woman now lives alone with bears as frequent visitors.

    Congratulations, Inger!! Just great that you completed CERT training and got the certificate! Really the Community Emergency Response Team is very important! Love seeing your vest and that cool hardhat too.

    Certainly to pratice an old hobby like knitting is very good too! I'm glad you are taking care of yourself.
    Love so much the words of the poet! Thank you for sharing so wise words.
    Love seeing all your beautiful pictures!

    I hope your husband will be well very soon! Sending you both prayers and positive thoughts.

    Samson and Faith looks adorable as always!
    Many (((Hugs))) and much Love!

  31. i've enjoyed a bit of a catch up here. Love the new pup - ...enjoyed your thoughts about your mom and missing her - and I think it's normal...for someone so special to you. I pray your husband heals up really good. I know after seeing family members go through this without a spouse it's not an easy path when you are on it.


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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