Friday, August 26, 2011

I need some time at Laity Lodge to remember the important things

You've heard me talk about holding the poetry workshops in a Texas Hill Country retreat center. 

It's called Laity Lodge.


Adrian and I have been going there for a while. 
It's a great place to be inspired, relax...

reconnect with yourself or your lover or your God.

You hear great speakers, like Dale Bruner.

But you can catch a little personal time.

The Frio River Canyon is the perfect setting
for being in nature on a grand scale...

or a tiny one.

Most of the time when I go there, I am part of the weekend staff. 
The poetry workshops are a way to share with others what I love
about writing in a place that calms and nourishes me.

I give and fill up at the same time.  It's a good balance. 

I want to go back soon to Laity Lodge. 

After starting my last year of grad school--with papers to write, the endless reading, and the business of getting prepared to pass exams and graduate so that I can teach my own college classes--I don't want to forget
the important things.

I have a chance to win a free retreat for writers at the
 Laity Lodge Writers Retreat 29 September to 2 October.

I'd like to work on my thesis book of short stories, but who am I kidding? It will be mid-term around that time, and I will probably be researching Chaucer or T. S. Eliot. Mostly, I want to breathe fresh air, talk writing, eat delicious food, and catch my husband staring at me adoringly.
It's one of the perks of the place.

If you are a writer, why not join us. Make a reservation here. Or choose another date. Any time is a good time for a break at Laity Lodge.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Name is Cyn, and I am a Cleanaholic

I have a tiny mop-wielding monkey on my back. 

This morning, with grad school starting next week, and having no appointments, I decided to give my back a rest and not do any chores. 

I didn't make it past my shower.  First, I tidied all the towels that were hanging in the bathroom.  And of course, I squeegee the shower walls and glass every day.  Hard water spots are deadly here in San Antonio.  Not too bad.  Just a taste.  Then, I made my bed.  Well, that's just polite.  My husband has to get into that bed tonight and the covers will be all straight.  But then, I fluffed and placed the decorative pillows.  I know. Decorative pillows are a gateway chore.  You straighten up those pillows and give them the nice HGTV touch and pretty soon, you are wiping down the mirrors in the bathroom.  God help me.

I'm a clean freak.  It's true.  I've been called the local Martha Stewart, and not in a good way. 

After the pillow situation, I decided to get dressed and just keep my hands busy.  Problem there.  This house is known far and wide as the place that young missionaries with tracts and quotas can always find the lady home, so I can't just put on a pair of fresh pajamas.  Of course that also means a bra. (Have you seen me? Seriously, me without a bra could cause an embarrassing situation amongst the white-shirt-wearing priesthood holders on my porch.)  So, I put on a pair of jean shorts and a sleeveless top, with matching jewelry.  I'm not a hobo!  Then, I put the jammies from last night into the hamper.  That's the last thing I remember before I found myself in the laundry room, Stain Sticking a pair of shorts with one hand while rubbing a little Vivid into a shirt with the other.  I stared down at my sticky fingers and knew I needed help.

I admit I am powerless over the idea that if I have mildew on  the inside of my overflow drain in one bathroom sink then some child will die of cholera in a third world nation.   Yes, I clean those overflow thingies that most people don't even see.  If you don't know what an overflow thingie is, see here.

I heard on a commercial the other day that if you want a clean commode you should use their product or you could clean after every flush, some 380,000 times a year.  They asked, "Who does that?" -- like it was a bad thing to clean your toilet every time you flush.  Heck, I even toilet trained my cat so that I would have a tidier house.  If I could train her to run a dust mop, I'd be in heaven.

I have pretty much always been this way.  If it's hereditary, it's recessive.  My grandmother Tommie was no housekeeper. She had maids for many years and never got the knack.  Then she got me and didn't need a maid.  I think I learned to clean as a response to her lack of housekeeping, that and the way she cooed over my ability to clean a bathroom.

"Oooh.  Cindy's so smart.  She can clean a bathroom better than I can."  Lord, she was such a mess that the chicken coop was neater.  Of course I could clean better.  And dust, and vaccuum, and run an Old English oil cloth over the hardwood floors.  She taught me how to clean out of necessity and for quarters.  I do love a good payday, too.

My other grandmother Callie was a bit of a germophobe.  You couldn't touch her food or her spoon or pretty much anything to do with food unless it was safely on your own plate.  I don't think that's wrong at all. My mom was a normal cleaner.  You couldn't catch a disease at her house, but she was ok with the magazines being haphazardly piled on the coffee table.  (Shudder.)

I will now stop to say that I will not discuss my daughter's cleaning habits in a public forum.  She is beautiful, kind, witty, talented, and has a genius-level IQ.  She is also a bit devious, a thing she inherits from me, so I don't want to be on her bad side.  Hey, Sweetie.

I don't want to make people dislike me.  But if you are a cleaner, you hear it. 

"She is just so....tidy." 

"Yeah, it's pathetic the way she recaulks her shower three times a year.  I mean, who does that?" 

"She even has a toothbrush just for cleaning the parts of the toilet that no one can see.  I mean there is a limit to what I'm willing to tolerate.  I think she needs an intervention."

"Or an exorcist."

"Or a good kick in the ass."

But there are no 12-step groups for the likes of me.  And if there were, we'd just all run around wiping up coffee drips from the refreshment table or fight over who gets to descale the pot this week.  It's hopeless, really.

So, yes.  I am Cyn, and I am an over-cleaner.  I accept myself for what I am, and I promise not to clean your house when I visit.  I take medication for that now, and I hardly ever do it any more.

Unretouched photo of my Junk Drawer.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How Cyn Got Her Move Back

I can walk.

Sure, it sounds simple.  But last year around Valentine's Day, I started having weird bouts of pain and disability that would pop up in different parts of my body.  By St. Patrick's Day, I was hobbling and in near constant pain.  Doctors were stumped.  My family practice doc checked my blood for everything.  I gave more blood in the lab in one week than you do in a blood drive.  The list of results takes up pages.  I had none of the things she tested me for.  She sent me to a rheumatologist, who sent me to a neurologist.  He sent me to another neurologist who, I kid you not, put needles deep into my muscles and ran current through them.  I was told I had some symptoms for several things but not enough symptoms for any one thing.  I wasn't sick enough to diagnose, but I couldn't walk. 

I won't go through the emotional details of this whole thing or talk at length about how I still graduated  summa cum laude with a BA in English from Texas Lutheran University that spring around Mother's Day.  You could ask the folks who saw me grimace how that looked.  Don't ask my husband.  Watching all this took a toll on him that I wouldn't like to repeat.

There have been medication scares and adjustments and additions.  I finally got a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, which some of you right now are confusing with the arthritis your grandma has in her left forefinger.  It's not like that.  You could look it up.  I have some other stuff going on with my spine, but I am not going to be paralyzed like my neurologist feared the day he called me andtold me to have my husband very safely and carefully drive me to the ER and not leave until the neurosurgeon confirmed I was not about to become a quadraplegic.  I spent our 28th anniversary on April 29, 2010 in the hospital in order to confirm that I will have control of all four of my limbs to some degree for the foreseeable future. 

Good times.

The meds are working pretty good.  I am not using the cane that was my constant companion for a year and a half.  Do you know how hard it is to negotiate the halls of a large university to get your master's degree with a cane in one hand, a bag of books and a computer on the other shoulder, and a cup of coffee to shove in there somewhere?  That cane is not going to be missed.

I am not getting rid of it.  It folds, and I keep it in my car.  I will always have Rheumatoid Arithritis, and I will have flare ups that will temporarily send me back to the cane.  Hopefully, not to the one that has four little tips on it for the really bad days or the wheelchair that I used for one weekend last April. 

Just before my military rheumatologist was reassigned, I asked her to send me to physical therapy to regain my range of motion and my strength.  I used to be the person last standing in any physical endeavor.  Now, I cheer when I can climb stairs. 

And I can climb them.  I am working my way around the room at PT, kicking ass on the equipment, although leg lifts holding a ball between my knees is not a fun thing.  Trust me.  Yesterday, the PT was especially hard, but I still rocked that room even though I was crying like a baby.

So, I can walk.  I am not running, but I never ran before the RA.  I can paint my own toenails.  Yesterday, I even replaced the faucet in my kitchen, to include all the climbing under the sink and everything.  It was grand.  My muscles ached last night.  It wasn't from joint damage but rather the PT and the plumbing.  Today, I am taking a holiday from everything but writing.  I am grateful. 

I can walk. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Poem of Natures: Write, Eat, Post, Bathe writing group

god of my yard

garden kitty, not mine, but adoring of my deck
for cover and comfy cushions

I filled a feeder for cardinals but attracted also
mourning doves, too portly for the perches

kitty skulks under the deck
dove gleans dropped black sunflower seeds

a sunflower sprung from some lost seed
will mark her end  that and a bit of wing