Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fighting For A Cure

This is going to be a rather special post.

You see, I have a brother-in-law named Guy. He's husband to my sister Diane. From the time I first met him I liked him. He was friendly, warm, and could really, REALLY cook ( a form of magic I never mastered). As I got to know him, and after their marriage, I truly came to regard him as my brother. I have one, but also had lots of room for another, so it was a good fit.

About four years ago, Guy had a pancreatic cancer scare. He has been monitored at Johns Hopkins ever since. This was a good thing because, this time, they found actual cancer. Surgery was scheduled, and we all picked ourselves up off the floor and were ready to soldier on. But then, they also found nodules in the lungs.

I'm a pretty good medical intuitive, but I did not pick up anything serious regarding his pulmonary system. I was wrong. The nodes are cancer. The fact that the people with M.D. after their names were also surprised does not comfort me. Needless to say, this was devastating news for Diane and Guy, and the rest of our family.

There is a new protocol which has had great results. Guy will be starting this soon, and his attitude is good. Mine you, Guy is only a year older than I. He'll be 60 in June, and was looking forward to Diane's retirement this year, selling the NJ house, and moving to their Maryland home. While he battles through this illness, normal life has been thrown into limbo.

This is Guy, and his tiny shih tzu Little Guy. (Honestly, the breeder was calling the dog that even before Di and Guy went looking for a new “fid” fuzzy kid.)

There are two other pups in the household, Ellie the shih tzu and Harry the yorkie. Ellie has medical conditions as well. To add insult to injury, poor Harry had to have emergency surgery this week. Due to surgery he had as a puppy, he had adhesions and scars and twisted intestines. He is resting comfortably at home. But talk about when it rains it pours! My poor sister has really paid her dues this week!
Here are the Clark sisters and their pups (this was taken before Little Guy joined the family): To the left is Jane with Georgie Girl and Gizmo, in the middle is Diane with Harry and Ellie (she's black and hard to see), and finally the Rufus and me.  This was from 2008.

Naturally, I'm asking everyone to keep a good thought and say a few prayers for Guy. But there is one more thing. Our niece, Brenna, has decided to run a marathon in Guy's honor, proceeds going to pancreatic cancer research. Below is her website:

If you ever had to deal with cancer in your family (I survived Uterine Cancer 7 years ago), if you've been touched by the loss of someone who's had this terrible cancer, or if you love shih tzus and yorkies and can sympathize with Little Guy, Ellie and Harry's worry over their daddy, please consider supporting Brenna's run. Even a dollar or two helps her to meet her goal.
Thank you for whatever you can do spiritually and/or financially via donation.
Kat and Rufus

Friday, March 15, 2013

Erin Go Blog

Ah, Saint Patrick's Day, one of the several holidays I spend cowering under my quilt, refusing to leave the house.

On March 17th, for some reason (probably the old “drunk Irishman” stereotype fostered by the English), Americans seem to embrace their Celtic brothers and sisters as the poster children for unbridled intoxication and copious consumption of corned beef . They then emulate this mythic construct by throwing up in the streets, stuffing themselves with cabbage, and wreaking havoc in New York City traffic.

But, is this really what we're all about? Is this what the Day is all about? What is the back story of the Patron Saint of Ireland? There seem to be as many versions of Patrick and his history as there are ginger haired children in Sligo.

Patrick has been envisioned and re-envisioned hundreds of time. You have the nicely done almost Paganistic Patrick (gently herding snakes, in this case):

Then there is the Rabbi Patrick:

The “it's all Greek to me” Patrick:

The black Patrick (this is NOT what we mean by “black Irish” folks!)


The “Who put these snakes here?” Patrick


and the “looks like my High School sweetheart” Patrick. (Honestly! Hair, beard...the works. )

However, depictions are mere fantasy. Here are a few things you may not have known:

Patrick was not Irish. Brace yourself, Bridget, but the Patron of the Emerald Isle was born in Roman Britain, most likely in or near Scotland. At 16, he was captured by pirates and sold as a slave to a landholder in Ireland. There he learned the language, the customs, and the beliefs of the land. After escaping his captivity, he studied for the priesthood, eventually returning to Ireland as a missionary.
Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland. I hate to disappoint the icon painters and the Hallmark Card company artists, but Ireland never HAD snakes. Know what we have? Frogs, Natterjack toads, ... and newts. Smooth newts, to be exact. Not the same dramatic picture, is it? Saint Patrick, chasing a slithering of smooth newts to the sea. It's damn well cruel. Driving snakes out of Ireland was a symbol of Patrick driving Paganism from the Isle. That's not true either, mind you. In ancient times, on Beltain Eve, all fires were doused, and relit from the fire kindled by the Druid's at Tara. The story goes that the priests saw a remaining lit fire on a distant hill. When they investigated, they found Patrick and his companions. The Church says that Patrick then conquered the Druids by showing that his Christian god was stronger than the Celtic divinities. Yet, Irish records say they all sat down and discussed their different faiths. Patrick, in his preaching, did not dig out the Pagan elements of society; he incorporated them into the new Christianity. To this day, being an “Irish Catholic” means your walk of faith includes many of the old traditions in new form.
Patrick probably didn't give a rat's ass about shamrocks. The concept of three divinities in one person was not foreign to the Irish. Triple goddesses abounded, from the three aspects of the goddess Brigit (later Saint Bridget), to the triple war goddesses know as the Bive. The idea of Father-Son-Holy Ghost (OK, Spirit. I'm old school) was just the yang version of Maid-Mother-Crone. Holding up a shamrock while preaching would be no more meaningful than chewing on a wheat stalk while day dreaming in a field. It was only latter that the native shamrock became the symbol of the Irish Bishop.
The original color of the Irish wasn't green. The original color associated with Patrick was actually blue. As the green shamrock was woven more closely into the identity of Patrick, the three leaves of the shamrock and green ribbons were worn to honor the saint. Green became part of the national identity (and political identity) to such an extent that wearing green was banned by the British during the 1700's.

And now, a few facts about the celebration of the day:
In Ireland, March 17th marks the date of Patrick's death. It was not celebrated like a gigantic party, but treated as a religious holiday. Folks attended Mass, and had a family meal. Lately, there have been parades and secular celebrations, but not to the extent seen in the States (Particularly NYC and Boston!)

Corned beef and cabbage is not an Irish dish. It is an Irish-American meal. When the Irish came here to work, they couldn't afford more expensive cuts of meat. Corned beef and cabbage was usually the cheapest meal on the menu. Although cabbage finds its way into many an Irish meal (such as colcannon) native Irish preferred bacon. Yummm...bacon....

There is no consumption of green beer. There IS no naturally occurring green beer. If you've stupid enough to drink green beer, you deserve what you get on the morning of March 18th. May your family let the bright morning sun shine directly into your eyes...eegit...

Here's a little You Tube offering to sum this up a bit:

Miscellaneous Irish stuff: I didn't know they raised a statue to Oscar Wilde in Dublin. I just came upon this recently: 

Typical of the Irish, we need a poetic moniker for almost everything. For instance, this is a monument called Anna Livia, representing the River Liffey:

This is called “the bitch in the ditch” , “The floozie in the zacuzzi”, or “the whore (pronounced 'who-er') in the sewer”. It should come as no surprise that Oscar's statue is called “the fag on the crag”.

I also looked up family crests lately. I always knew my mother's family was a combination of Casey:

and Cassidy:

However, I finally was able to figure out the Clark crest that belongs to my family:

What does it mean? I have no idea, except I went from Irish boars and griffins to English dragon heads. So, what does that tell me...I'm a “Ravenclaw”? If anyone knows, please clue me in.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

P.S. Rufus is much better!
P.S.S.  Come Monday, March 18th, the production of Sherlock BBC season 3 will commence!


Friday, March 8, 2013

It's Always Something

I'm better now... mostly. I've recovered from all the drama of last month. Naturally, it was replaced by other stressful events, so...hey, progress! I still have anxiety and OCD, but now it's over NEW things!

I've been terribly remiss on my sacred stones for each month, so I will review not only February's but also March's gem.

AMETHYST: This is my favorite stone, special to February. The name means “non-intoxicating” and was said to ward off drunkenness. That's not why I like it. (I can hear your evil minds at work!) It also brings good luck, wards off dark magic and negative forces, and aids in favorable outcomes for lawsuits. It also gives access to hidden knowledge.

This stone is a balancer; it keeps you from excesses of any kind. (Will Amethyst ward off Ebay, I wonder?) It helps you relax, sleep, and open the doors to psychic abilities. Keep one near you if you have migraines and tension headaches. I find that it also helps with my OCD. It tends to smooth out the really anxious portions of my thinking. Then again, so does my Lexapro.

AQUAMARINE: This is the stone of the mystic or seer. It was thought that carrying this stone on a sea voyage would assure a safe return to harbor. The name comes from “water of the sea” (THAT was simple!) It purifies its wearer, and opens the doors to mental communication. You could become the antenna for everyone's feelings and thoughts and stress, so make sure you combine it was a grounding stone such as jasper or smoky quartz.

As a healer, this stone is all about the neck and throat, but can also help with bloating. It reduces swelling, and is excellent for thyroid troubles. (Wear it as a necklace.) It's great for meditation and strengthens your aura, which is useful when tuning into others.

Next week, perhaps we'll talk about the truth of Saint Patrick, and the joys of the Vernal Equinox.

On a different level, I found out why poor little Rufus' behavior has altered. Even though other folks kept saying they thought he was acting normal, I know my dog. When company left, he would revert to a rag mop. He had no energy to eat, he was straining to “go”, he felt hot, and then – one day – he couldn't even get off the bed. Finally, Claude and I took him to his doctor on Monday. Long story short: he either has a bladder infection (LOTS of blood in his pee), or he has bladder cancer. The doctor told me that, if the ladder, most bladder tumors are inoperable. So far, Rufus is perking up on the antibiotics. Please think good dogie thoughts. I'm not ready to say farewell to my pup. Plus, he still has a spectacular Halloween costume to look forward too!

Before the siblings' “Grand Inquisition” took place, I did have one more Sherlock item on order. Sherlock and John bunnies! I know. I'm almost 59 and I'm spending my disability check on soft little bunnies. I will not stray again...but I'm glad I got them anyway. Here they are in one shot, and snuggled in with their other Sherlock “friends”.

They are giving out ice cream in Hell because (brace yourselves) I finally wrote and submitted my Glastonbury piece to Fate Magazine. Gee, that only took a year.
I also submitted a poem to Circle Magazine. I still owe Fate one more submission for the Fall on “Haunted New Brunswick”, and I want to do an article on Shamanism for Sage Woman (I can but try).

It's good to be writing again. I guess I owe that little poetry contest a debt of gratitude for breaking down the writer's block and helping me get on with business. No...they still didn't announce a winner. I was shocked when I saw an e-mail from them entitled “Good News!” When I opened it, however, they were just letting me know that all their teas had arrived from England and they also had Cadbury eggs. Oh. Huzzah.

That's it for now. Don't forget to “spring ahead” Saturday night so you can have one less hour of sleep, and one more hour of blurry sunlight.

The Rufus and I wish you a good week!