Let's Rodeo!

Here’s the thing… I’ve done this before. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know all about social distancing, quarantine, and sheltering in place.

In 2010 I came down with a case of Leukemia. Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia to be exact. From the moment I arrived at the oncology unit I was on lock-down. No person with even the slightest possibility of a cold could come in my room. Even people who had been around someone who might have had a cold couldn’t come near me. There were strict protocols for everything. People wore masks to see me (except Karen, who was with me all the time and not sick so she was cleared to be in there without one). I couldn’t eat any fresh fruits or vegetables (there could be dirt microbes my body could not fight off). I couldn’t get flowers or plants delivered to me. I couldn’t really let people touch me. Everyone wore gloves around me if they were going to touch me. There were signs on my door to warn people.

When I went home, after that first month in the hospital, I had similar protocols. No plants in the house, no fresh fruits or vegetables in the house, no visitors with colds or who had been around anyone with a cold. I had to wear a mask when I went in to get my blood-work done. I wasn’t supposed to touch anything. I was socially distanced and isolated.

This went on very strictly for four months. Four months people. The entire time I was going through the hardcore Chemo protocol. Every month after that first one (when I was in the entire month) I would go back into the hospital for a week-long stay to get the chemo over the course of several days depending on what round I was on. When my numbers started to come up after each round I was released home, but on the same strict protocols. No people, no plants, no going out without a mask.

I missed my first grandson’s birth. I was supposed to be there. I couldn’t travel. Everyone pitched in. My Mom came and stayed with me that fourth month so Karen could go and be there when Sebastian was born. Sacrifices were made.

After those first four months, when I finally got the miraculous all-clear and could take the deep breath I hadn’t been able to for months, I was still not really in the clear. I had two years of consolidation rounds (milder rounds of low dose chemotherapy for patients who appear to be in remission). I was on varying rounds of three different medications. Those medications, though not nearly as strong, effected my immune system a bit, my energy level a lot, and there were still rules. The rules weren’t as strict, but rules just the same.

Here’s the thing, I know this, what we’re doing right now. I’ve done it. I did it to keep myself alive, and those around me did it to keep me alive. The people that loved me had no problem wearing masks around me, if necessary, or staying away if required. As I said, I was on lock-down. Quarantine. Isolated. Distanced. I missed a lot, but… I lived. People sacrificed for me, but… I lived.

If I could do that for four months and beyond, and if the people in my life could do it for me for four months and beyond, then we can do it now. We can buck up and damn well do it. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone in our circle, in our communities, in our country, and the world.

Let’s help each other. Let’s take the bull by the horns and do this thing. Let’s rodeo!

Desert Winds

It’s windy out there tonight.  I can hear the rattling of the blinds as the wind whips in, rustling them, causing a banging on the window frame.  I may have to shut the window, but maybe I’ll put up with it, I love the cool desert night air.  And I love the sound of the wind, whipping by outside.  Whistling, then howling, then still.  It is a symphony.

It’s after 11:00 in Vegas.  It was warm today, 79 and blue sky.  I wore shorts and a t-shirt, had on my slide shoes and had to squint when I was out driving around.  I think the people who live here think it’s still sort of cold.  They are used to the heat.  My body doesn’t expect it until June.  I live in the Midwest after all.

I’m missing my honey and don’t much like being so far away from her, but am glad I came.  Friends like these are gifts.

It’s amazing how people can be so different, and yet have so much love for each other.  I was a bit nervous about coming.  Not sure how, after all these years, we would get on.   Hoping it would be the same, wondering if all of life’s ups and downs might have changed us all somehow, made us different people.  Those ups and downs have changed us, all of us, but who we are, and have always been, to and for each other remains.  Distance and time haven’t altered that.  Thank god.

I am blessed to have these people in my life.  And with them, as I always have felt, I am home.  We’ve been in each others lives for so long there’s a comfort and certainty that is reassuring and magical.  There’s a peace that happens not brought by any one of us, but made by our presence together.  Deep love and understanding resides there.


Hanging On To Life
Hanging On To Life (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

We may be different, see the world differently, but we understand each other and know, always, that there’s a love and a respect and a kindness there.

My wish for the world is that people would feel this sort of kinship in their lives.  I’ve been lucky enough to feel this with several people throughout the course of my life.  Spectacular people, each and every one.

This tapestry of lovely humanness is overwhelming, and as I sit here, the blind still banging on the sill, I feel an incredible sense of humble gratitude for how fortunate I am, for how full my life is of beautiful people, and for the sounds of the wind, right outside the window.


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Ebertfest – A Retrospective


Such an amazing experience last year, and so looking forward to this year.  We have our tickets… do you?

15th Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival from Ebertfest on Vimeo.

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Making The World Larger One Film Festival At A Time.

I know I just did a 10 Word Review about Roger Ebert‘s Film Festival otherwise known as Ebertfest, but even though I put down those words I still feel there’s more to say.  Now, sitting here, it’s sort of tough to put what I think I want to say in words so bear with me.

Attending this festival for the second time was even more amazing than the first.  It’s not just seeing these films, most of which I’ve never seen before, that challenge the edges of what I would normally watch.  It’s the atmosphere.  It’s being in the company of people who are of like mind about art and film and community.  It’s feeling like you are a lucky participant in something very very special.

This year, given the fact Roger passed away only a couple of weeks before the festival, it was an even more humbled and emotional experience.  Every person who spoke on stage said how much this man was obviously not only a great writer, but so generous of spirit, so kind to new film makers and old alike, so enthusiastic about the meaning of film and the way a film should be watched.  Each told stories about Roger and mentioned, in some way, his impact on their lives and careers.  There were wonderful tributes to him told in words and fittingly, in film.  Chaz, his wife of many many years, was there.  A woman full of heart and grace, much like her husband.

I loved this experience, as I did last year, and I loved the films as well.  As I said earlier, they pushed the boundaries of what I would normally choose to watch, which is a wonderful thing.  There’s no way, under the normal circumstances of my life, I would’ve chosen to see a movie like The Ballad of Narayama (1958), yet there I was, watching it and more than that, enjoying it for the shocking story, the color, for the Kabuki style I’m not all that familiar with.  It’s the beauty of this festival for me and so many others I’m sure.  This seeing something I wouldn’t normally see, or even know about.  This pushing my own viewer boundaries.  And I think, without being presumptuous, it’s what Roger probably intended when he created this festival in the first place.  To have a festival of overlooked films.  Films that because of their beauty, or story, or style, or imagination, or brashness shouldn’t have been overlooked.  There’s no buying or selling or submissions for this festival.  It’s a festival purely for the love and joy of film.  Which I think adds to the festivals character and feeling of community.  People come because they love film, they love their community, and they love the experience of it.  They come because they love stepping into the beautiful world Ebertfest creates.

I loved this experience.  Loved it.  At the end of the day it’s exhausting, seeing so many films in so many days, but I loved it.  I loved having to stand in line early so that when the doors opened the 1000 pass holders could all rush in and try to find the perfect seats.  I loved the restoration of the Virginia, which is where Roger used to see movies as a kid.  I loved sitting near people I don’t know and chatting with them about film and park district stuff and popcorn.  I loved watching and listening to people interact and commune.  I loved getting my Virginia Theater travel mug that I could then bring every day to get however much coffee I wanted, free refills are always good.  And this was good coffee, from the roasting house we frequent normally who also happens to be a sponsor of the festival.  I loved the dance along, the sing a long, and just plain going along on this rid of a fest.  I loved hearing and reading Roger’s words and listening to the panel discussions, those we attended but also online for those we didn’t, after the films.  I loved being in the company of my honey and of Ann.  I loved the salads and eggplant fries we had each evening during our dinner break at Guidos.  I loved how good this festival was for the community given all the people that descend to participate and then spend money at restaurants and hotels, etc.  I loved the beauty of the surroundings of the lovely lovely park district owned Virginia Theater.  What a gorgeous building and so big with it’s 1600 seats, an organ that descends into the orchestra pit when the organist is done playing, lovely plaster work, stained glass, and an enormous screen that really does a film justice.

I guess, not having had the words in the beginning, I found them.  This experience, without sounding trite, is transcendent.  It inspires and makes the world larger.  Which, to me, is the best of what can and should happen.  It connects and brings joy.  It expands ones mind and consequently, ones heart.

Lastly, and less emotionally, I guess I should let everyone know which films we enjoyed the most as, after all, it was a film festival…  Tam loved In The Family, a film that hit close to home and was so beautifully and sweetly done it exuded a warmth and light that was wonderful to feel and behold.  Karen loved Julia, a movie so hard hitting and raw it gripped you from the beginning and never let you go.  We both didn’t like Escape From Tomorrow, a strange and uncomfortable film we didn’t understand, nor did we really want to understand.  As honorable mention for a film I liked I’d like to add the short I Remember, which I found to be full of beautiful images and emotion.

I’m so glad we attended the festival again this year and I hope, even with Roger’s passing, this festival continues and we can go again next year.  I’m already looking forward to it.

Flood Waters

It’s been all over the news.

Usually, when things like this happen, watching disaster coverage on TV that is, I always think… man… how terrible that is, over there… so far away.  Now, it’s here, right here in Oregon and Washington, and it’s pretty surreal.

Personally, my house hasn’t been flooded out and, as far as I know, my family, both in Oregon and in Washington, is all safe, warm and dry.  But even still… it’s terrible.  National Guard trucks coming through all the time, ongoing announcements from disaster relief organizations, helicopters flying overhead, the Governor touring and then requesting that FEMA get into gear with supplying money and modules to replace buildings for schools and homes.  It’s heartbreaking.

And yet… even though it is heartbreaking, it’s also amazing how people step up… lending a hand, giving money, supplying food.  These kinds of things always have two sides to them… the loss and devastation and then the wonderful response to that loss and devastation from the community.  People coming together and helping each other.  It’s the best in us meeting the worst mother nature can give head on.  How amazing is that.  How beautiful.  It brings a greater sense of togetherness, a hopefulness during a very tough time.

In a world where we get images every day that are frightening and hostile and violent, something like this, when people step up and come together… it reminds us who we can be and who we are.  It’s humanity at its shining best.

The Gardens

The Gardens

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

When you live in Lancaster you usually don’t have room to grow a garden in your own yard so residents rent little parcels of land in this huge area.