Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'09 Year Ends ♪ ♪ ♪

Everything comes to an end!
Memories linger on.

Auld Lang Syne by BBC's Symphony Orchestra


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup !
And surely I'll be mine !
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne. CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou'd the gowans fine ;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
sin' auld lang syne. CHORUS

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
sin' auld lang syne. CHORUS

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gives a hand o' thine !
And we'll tak a right guid-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne. CHORUS

Thursday, December 24, 2009

♫ Happy Holidays ♫

Hope your holidays are bringing you much joy and pleasure!

Ray Conniff and The Singers create a holiday mood prompting many happy memories for me with their medley of Christmas songs:

I've chosen to be home this holiday season. Family members are unable to join me here in sunny California. Our current daytime temperatures are in the sixties to seventies, but colder days with rain are predicted for next week. Given the Midwest's and East's snow, sleet, and icy weather conditions, I'm glad to not be experiencing travel delays and air cancellations trying to fly to those destinations. I even respectfully declined an invitation to join close friends to share in their festivities with their Las Vegas family. I just want to be quietly leisurely at home this year for reasons not even fully understood by me.

Traveling is not a deterrent, but long distance air trips are less inviting to me than they once were. Jet Blue has provided my most recently appealing direct coast to coast flight. I experience the actual comfort level on many other domestic airlines as barely acceptable and often quite undesirable, even if all goes well flying across country with required plane changes. I miss the exciting anticipation of flight travel I recall enjoying years ago.

The risk prospect of maybe having to rough long hours waiting in an airport lobby, slouched down in an uncomfortable seat, or in a corner on the floor, is also less inviting than when I was much younger. Even trying to seek flight or airline scheduling changes should that be warranted seems much more complicated. No longer familiar to me is how to readily proceed using today's ticketing systems to achieve quick timely flight or airline change actions should I be unexpectedly stranded in an unfamiliar airport suddenly needing one of only a few much-in-demand seats others would also be seeking.

I'm too late flying east this winter as I've already missed one of my favorite seasonal joys, walking in the first snowfall, watching the flakes gently falling around me and feeling the brisk bracing cold air on my face. I am content to settle for seeing snow-capped mountains through my kitchen window. Here are those mountains much as they look today though the photo was taken last spring from a nearby park:

Family and friends are disappointed we'll not be with each other in person, but we can avail ourselves of instant real time communication by voice, live pictures/video, including print via email/chat, given the computers and cell phones camera systems for communication available to us today. I've always embraced the idea special occasions could have a make-good or rain check day for in-person sharing, just as my mother and I sometimes needed to institute. We did not have to rigidly celebrate together an important occasion on a specific date if life's events made doing so unduly complicated. This approach sometimes could prove to be doubly enjoyable with two celebrations, one apart, and another later, together.

Expecting to be alone this holiday I elected to forgo decorating a larger Christmas tree. Instead, I'm enjoying this tiny little tree with miniature ornaments that other years I usually have set out as a separate room decoration. I particularly like miniatures of many items.

Family members had a huge box sent to me with strict instructions to not open before Christmas. I decided to let them see how large and cumbersome this box was, but I got cute and draped a red throw over it. I knew they wouldn't be able to tell whether or not I had violated the "don't open before Dec. 25th" requirement. Then, I determined to set my little tree atop the red throw-draped box, scatter around a few early greeting cards I had received and take a photo. I suddenly thought I'd fill the picture frame with a few of my indoor plants. I caution you in my haste this amateur gave little consideration to a professional artist's photo composition as you can readily see.

Here's how my Christmas Eve day has evolved. I started with an early morning hair appointment seeing a different hairdresser since my regular gal is visiting family out of state for a couple weeks. I'm quite pleased with my hairs finished look, but what will really determine success will be how well this styling maintains itself with very little help from me through the next few days.

Next, following a quick hot oatmeal and fresh fruit breakfast at home, I proceeded to a modest work day with fewer patients since I've decreased the number of days I provide services at one of the retirement community sites I serve. This season is being professionally rewarding as I have patients progressing to safely eating and drinking foods that more closely resemble a regular consistency (i.e. rather than through a tube, being pureed, or requiring liquids to be thickened.) We're all thrilled with such progress as is the individual, their family, and the facility staff. We rarely fully appreciate the joys of eating and drinking as much as when swallowing problems impair our ability to safely do so.

I then rushed off to the new-to-me Elephant Bar restaurant to join for a holiday lunch the rehab team members with whom I work -- the first we've met as a group this year. I was delighted with the establishment's food, menu choices, prices and ambiance, so will look forward to introducing my friends and family members to the restaurant when they visit in the future.

Returning home I was greeted by welcomed holiday greeting cards filled with friends pictures and letters. After enjoying them, I took a short nap, though I don't usually do so in the afternoon, but I felt really drowsy. I awoke this morning with a rare but slight headache, possibly sinus-related. I also am aware I've probably not been getting adequate sleep for quite a few nights so must resume greater care to curtail my night owl tendencies.

The remainder of my afternoon and evening has consisted of consuming a small green salad, small quarter inch thick turkey slices with cornbread dressing and gravy along with a self-mixed cranberry pomegranate juice beverage. For desert I ate a piece of pecan pie and sipped a cup of decaffeinated coffee. I managed to work in viewing some TV news, glancing through some newspapers, checking some emails as the PBS evening of Christmas music programming began.

'Along the way' I did eat a couple chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. Well, actually, I started out with only two cookies, but then somehow I think there were only a few left so I brought them in to have nearby my computer as I type this just in case I might need an energy boost. You'll be surprised to learn I have needed to replenish my energy supply so those cookies are now gone. Not to worry! There are enough other cookie containing vessels plus additional candies and goodies in this house to easily keep me rejuvenated throughout this holiday season. Hope you, too, are amply supplied with sustenance to please your taste buds.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Medical Insights with Dr. A. Gawande

Fascinating reading is available in two books by Dr. Atul Gawande I’ve read during the past couple of years I am finally briefly reviewing here. I was reminded of my intent to share my impressions of this author’s writing and books when I read “Health Care Reform Revelation” at “Time Goes By” introducing blogger Ashleigh Burroughs who blogs at “The Burrow.” I highly recommend you spend some time reading Ashleigh’s account.

Dr. Atul Gawande is a highly respected researcher and writer whose books I consider to be quite entertainingly informative since I first noted some of his science writing in the New Yorker Magazine. Given our concern with our nation’s health care state you may want to click on this June ‘09 piece I wrote “Health Care Dollars Dilemma” based on his then New Yorker article.

A biography of Dr. Atul Gawande notes this surgeon and writer has extensive medical credentials acquired in his young life. He has associations with Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

”He has published research studies in areas ranging from surgical technique, to US military care for the wounded, to error and performance in medicine. He is the director of the World Health Organization's Global Challenge for Safer Surgical Care.”

“In 2006, he received the MacArthur Award for his research and writing. His book COMPLICATIONS: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON AN IMPERFECT SCIENCE was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002 and is published in more than a hundred countries. He was editor of THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING 2006. His most recent book, BETTER: A SURGEON'S NOTES ON PERFORMANCE is a New York Times bestseller and one of's ten best books of 2007.”

Dr. Gawande writes in layman’s language an account of some of his own medical experiences. “Complications…” is a compilation of New Yorker articles he wrote using real-life scenarios, how doctors gain experience, cope with mistakes, consider ethical issues. He realized later he was using these writing experiences to understand matters that bothered him.

The basis of “Better…” is the doctor’s very honest straight forward descriptions of his training to become a surgeon. He illustrates how patients grapple with surgical decisions weighing risks, making choices. I urge you to click the links on each book’s title for more specific in depth content.

I believe exploring issues from the medical provider’s perspective helps each of us as patients to better interact with our own doctors. Dr. Gawande certainly represents well the thoughtful, caring, intelligent, compassionate doctor, able to view treatments, surgical considerations and ethical issues in a manner such as I desire from my own physicians.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mother's Gift of Life

Nature's way of providing life for all creatures is seldom easy. "Life Is Hard," one of my earlier pieces here, features videos of sea turtle eggs hatching. The hatchlings struggle to escape their shells in a process designed to test and build their strength preparatory to coping with the world they would enter after first emerging from a mound of sand, to then rush seaward.

We see each tiny turtle's long neck extending forward with their head's piercing eyes absorbing new sights they encounter while seeking their saltwater destination. Under their protective still-soft shell four short paddle-like legs protrude moving to carry their bodies across the sandy beach toward the ocean. Humans present serve to protect these babes from airborne predators, but upon entering the ocean to experience the joys of turtle life, these hatchlings are on their own to experience not only life's pleasures but potential deep sea dangers.

I've had the opportunity to observe the birthing of various creatures. Chickens, ducks, geese and hummingbirds I've noted all emerge from eggs the mother keeps warm in nests above the ground. The method by which some other animals I've seen give birth is quite different. The mother carries the egg inside her own body through the beginnings of intelligent life for varying time lengths depending upon the species. I think of certain animals I've been privy to seeing born including kittens, puppies, piglets, and calves.

The most personally significant and profound births have been those of my children. Having been witness to all these other births, during which I noted each mothers demeanor and process, I intentionally elected to experience natural birthing. I had only the slight apprehension one might expect could accompany any such major new important event. When the time came, an overhead mirror enabled me to view my participatory process when one of my own children made their joyous world entrance.

All of these memories come to mind because coincidentally following publication of my "baby turtle" blog topic I received a link to a truly unique animal birthing event quite unlike any I've seen before live or on video.

This is a very graphic video, so be cautioned if you perceive viewing life processes and events as objectionable.

Spectacular birthing of baby elephant, Riski, which means prosperous, is seen with English commentary in this 6 minute video taken at Elephant Safari Park, Taro-Bali. Unexpectedly the mother realizes special life-stimulating efforts are required for her baby to survive, much like that with human newborns. Thanks to DiAne Gillespie for sharing the elephant video link of this tension-filled miraculous never-routine life-affirming event.

DiAne Gillespie is a multi-talented artist, woman, mother, wife. She shares her appreciative perception and interpretation of life's beauty with her creative art and music (view her website by clicking on her name above.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

U.S. Remembers The Day

Sunday, December 7, 1941

Commemorating the forever altered lives of so many

…some of us recall the day

…some of us recall our parents describing the day

…some of us recall a school history book account of the day

The horrors of war had once more been set in motion.

My deepest gratitude to all those whose lives were sacrificed then and later
so our families could survive in a continuing free nation.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Life Is Hard

This is an interesting video link about effects of climate change on the world wide declining sea turtle population I discovered after publishing this piece. The "saving sea turtles one nest at a time" appeared in a NYTimes Nov. edition, video runs about 5 mins. with a brief introductory commercial.

A few months ago my daughter sent me photos of newly hatched baby turtles racing for their lives to the Atlantic Ocean's protection. Airborne predators were circling above their South Carolina beach sand covered nest and pathway but were discouraged from attacking by human presence. Once the hatchlings were in the water other unseen sea creatures with which they would later have to contend were probably present awaiting to confront these naive innocents. Or, do you suppose they're genetically predisposed to instinctively know danger awaits them there?

My daughter and granddaughter happened on the end of the scurrying turtle babes exodus from their nest describing all this to me. The only short video they were able to make is at the end of this piece. The other videos depicting the activity I selected from the Internet.

I think this must be an exciting event to witness happening. I've always been intrigued watching baby chicks emerge from their eggs as well as piglets, puppies, kittens and other animals birthing. I was motivated to view some baby turtle YouTube videos I enjoyed and will share a few here.

When the baby turtles begin to hatch from their eggs, then leave the nest the activity is referred to as "boiling."

Here's a short video of one baby hatching that reportedly took over 20 minutes to escape the egg.

The baby turtles receive care and assist of individuals designated to help protect the various endangered species as can be seen in one of the videos. Enabling survival of turtles along those east coast areas is an organized activity in which designated coastal residents and other regular residential visitors engage. The adult female returns yearly to perpetuate the species. These little hatchlings who survive will return here to lay their eggs. This is why it is so important they be allowed to struggle from their nest, through the sand and across the treacherous beach imprinting the pathway in their brains for their return trip when adults.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles -- official reptile of South Carolina -- protected as an endangered species.

I recall seeing a television program years ago documenting ocean turtles challenges for survival, their mothers nesting, laying of eggs and the little ones cycle to adulthood. The Pacific Ocean's Green Sea Turtle is also endangered. My memory from that program is still haunted by the vision of sea gulls, frigate birds swooping down from the sky to grab in their talons these tiny defenseless baby turtles plodding as fast as their little legs could carry them toward the ocean's waters.

This is one of the helpers my daughter's short video shows trying to keep the hatchling from being washed back on the beach.

I've never observed this fascinating turtle event, but perhaps some of you who live near the ocean locations, vacation, or visit turtle nesting sites have.