A few days ago, I searched “2 Years” on Word Press and found an immediate perspective. The first result was someone sharing that he is two years sober. That is awesome. He was so gracious in thanking those who have provided love and support. He included a photo of a tattoo on his wrist which bears the date he began his sobriety. His daughter is very proud of him.
The next post was “Two Years Gone.” Two years ago, the writer had her bladder removed and she was given a stoma and a bag to which she needed to adjust. But two years later, she is so “bloody happy.” That is awesome too.
My modest connection to “2 Years” relates to the anniversary of this blog. Honestly, I can’t believe that I’m stepping through the 24th month of sharing my stories regularly. Although some milestones are clearly more trail-blazing than others, I felt like I should mark it; primarily because I have learned exponentially more this past year. I’ve ventured into creative non-fiction and feature stories. I’ve posted interviews. I learned the word: Uitwaaien. (It is a Dutch word and philosophy for using wind to ease stress.)
So, in acknowledging the moment, I thought I should return to what makes the blog tick: non-fiction story-telling. Here are some updates and highlights for a few of them.
Covid Conversations from Italy
At the end of 2020, I spoke with and wrote to my friend Giovanna who lives in Naples, Italy. (For the original post, click here.) I checked back in to see what is happening there and how she is doing. Here was her response on April 15th:
“No, I have not gotten my vaccine yet. They opened for the age range 60-79 and I subscribed but I have not been called yet. Hopefully it will be before the end of May. There is a big turmoil going on regarding the Astra Zeneca vaccine. A few people in Europe died from thrombosis which was attributed to the vaccine. It’s exactly the same thing that is happening in the U.S. with Johnson & Johnson. I was hoping to get Johnson & Johnson because it is only one dose but… who knows now?”
I asked her whether Pfizer or Moderna are even available in Italy. “It is somewhat rare, but they do offer Pfizer to certain people who are in a much higher risk category.”
“I am nonetheless continuing my life in the sense that I go to work every day, take a walk along the closed shops in the afternoons (only lingerie, food, and small artisans are open) and see a few friends on the weekend; possibly outside if the weather allows it or inside since we are only 6. We continue to maintain the safety distance.”
“Many people we know got sick with Covid, some did well while some others were hospitalized. We continue to pray that nothing happens to us!”
P.S. There is an update to the update! Giovanna received her first shot of Astra Zeneca April 22nd.
Everything About Waves
I wrote a post in February about waves. It was a mix of wave facts, history and our attraction to them. It included some movie trivia too. It has become this blog’s most visited post, thanks in part to Smorgasbord Magazine which first showcased it (thank you Sally Cronin). That led to two more blogs picking it up (including a sailing blog in Australia which even wrote its own piece about it. To read it, click here.) It has received hundreds and hundreds of views which was such an incredible boost for me. These results inspire me to dig into more research/feature writing in the near future.
My Mom and Memory Care
Nine weeks ago, my 90-year-old mother tried to walk out the door of her senior living home at 3:00 a.m. They immediately placed her in Memory Care. The full story is here.
Since then, it has been a bone-tiring time. Due to the cost of Memory Care at this particular facility, Ginny would not be able to stay. We located another one with a shared apartment option, at a much lower price, and began the withdrawal process. It wasn’t easy.
I previously referenced that the current facility’s communication with us had been poor. First, they were silent regarding needed information. Did they have shared apartments? What was the deadline to move her? With Covid, what was the procedure to gain access to her old apartment to begin clearing it out? We believe that they hoped if they gave us time for her to adjust, and show how well she was doing, then we would acquiesce and suddenly find the additional $2500/month. We knew she was doing well, that was never the issue.
Once they realized that we had no other choice but to move her, they couldn’t get her out fast enough. I’m choosing not to go into further specifics, but they made a difficult time exhaustingly worse. I do understand that senior care is a business, but a sense of empathy within this type of business was shockingly lacking.
Instead, I want to focus on Ginny’s new home. She is doing well. She never cared to participate in classes previously, but so far, she has played Bingo, taken an art class and spent time with a therapy dog. She has gone to a happy hour and a baby shower for an employee. (Some of these events took place in the Assisted Living area of the facility.) The Memory Care unit is on the first floor which allows residents to freely (and safely) walk outside and sit or walk along the path. There is a wrought-iron fence to protect them. Ginny enjoys spending some of her day outside. The home is brand new, much smaller, and with some incentives, it will be easier for our family to begin contributing towards her monthly care.
I wasn’t planning to include a space update, but life’s timing intervened. At 5:49 a.m. April 23rd, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket, carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station.
Living on the Space Coast, I have had the privilege to witness several launches. Given its launch time on this day, however, I thought I might give this one a pass. I love to watch them, but I need my sleep too.
As it happened, I was awake. Groggy, but awake. I wasn’t aware of the time though. As soon as we heard the rumble, we shouted “launch” and ran down the hallway to the front bedroom window. We had missed the actual rocket, but there was this brilliant glow, in fact, there appeared to be two. And they were slowly descending. But our eyes were being deceived. There was only one object headed downward towards the Atlantic; the reusable first-stage rocket which had helped boost the Falcon into orbit. It would be landing in a few short minutes on Elon Musk’s drone ship named “Of Course, I Still Love You.” (The name comes from a book “The Player of Games” written by the late science fiction writer Iain M. Banks.)
The object to the left was smaller, and it actually wasn’t descending, but rather it was the last 60 seconds of seeing the Falcon 9 rocket itself. But something was happening with the booster rocket. As we watched, and even though it was still dark outside, the rising sun began to illuminate the plume of the descending rocket creating a “jellyfish” light display, and the result was spectacular. I was standing, real time, in a science fiction movie. For me, it was the best launch lightshow yet. Someone in our community dubbed it the “Space Coast’s Northern Lights”.
Suffice it to say that I’m renewing my commitment to catch whatever they’re up to at the Cape. If I miss out on a few hours of sleep, I’ll take a nap. I almost missed a good one.
And for those who like space trivia, this was the first time that a used Crew Dragon (the capsule holding the astronauts) returned to space sitting on top of a used Falcon 9 rocket (the same Falcon 9 rocket which inspired my original post. last May.)
A Cancer Update
Since my diagnosis and treatment was a core piece of my world over the last year and a half, the topic was understandably, covered frequently. A year ago this month, I was struggling with radiation. It contributed to my dehydration which led to acute kidney failure.
I only bring it up now so that I am able to measure how far I have come; the good place in which I find myself. Sure, I want the reassurance of a clean scan (as frequently as possible) but I know how much better I am. Cancer is not the first thing I think about when I wake up anymore.
I do find myself gravitating towards “bright.” I just planted a colorful pink hydrangea plant in the garden and bought bold, bright pillows for the couch. I want new, bright artwork for the walls. It’s almost like I want to surround myself in striking, happy tones. This is probably not a surprise.
Two years in, and I am grateful for my own growth and the growth of this site. I directly contribute it to my interactions and exposure to excellent blogs. And the camaraderie is second to none. I follow a Scottish writer (Mary Smith) and we share comments about her cancer treatment and scan results. I love reading fables and stories about Romania from another kind blogger who lives in South Africa (Patricia Furstenberg). There is a retired teacher who has so many great stories about his classroom in California back in the day as well as his own poignant stories about his aging mother (Pete Springer).
And they represent only a few. There are so many supportive, fascinating writers I follow. Thank you for sharing some of your brilliance and creativity. When one surrounds themselves with advanced skills of any nature, one can only improve.