Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's Your Best Guess?

Mystery Object

Did you guess?  It happens to be the patch that was put over my eye after cataract surgery!

March 26, 2012:  This morning I had a friend drive me to where my cataract surgery would take place.
I checked in and was sent to Minor Procedures on the 2nd floor.  When my name was called, I was taken to a large room where surgery patients wait in the many curtained cubicles.  My vitals were taken, drops were put in my eye, a small pill was placed underneath my tongue and a flimsy cap adorned my head.  Once ready, I was placed in a weird contraption that looked like a cross between a Segway and a wheel chair. I was rolled to the operating room and put on a bed.


An extremely bright light above me, a small tent taped over my face, hushed voices between doctor and nurses, a cozy, warm blanket placed over me and without feeling a thing the operation was over. I was taken back to the cubicle and given crackers and juice. When I finished eating my snack, I got a wheel chair ride to the front door where my friend waited for me with the car.  My instructions were:  No bending below the waist.  No lifting or straining.  Continue eye drops.

I felt so good that we went to an I-Hop for breakfast. A man came up to me and asked if the patch over my eye was due to cataract surgery. I told him it was and he said,  "I had it done a few weeks ago, and in three days you'll be back to normal!"  That night, I slept without any pain or  discomfort.

Since I can't bend, I have become quite adept using my feet to pick up anything I drop.  I also have perfected a ballet knee bend to pick up something not on the floor but below my waist. The following day I had a post-op meeting with the doctor and she was pleased with my progress. She asked if my eye felt gritty or if I saw flashes of light and I told her I haven't felt or seen anything out of the ordinary. New instructions: Wear the shield while sleeping. Keep water out of the eye. No rubbing the eye. The addition of another eye drop to the two I am already putting in my eye.

Already, after two days, I notice that when I close one eye, the new eye can see things sharp and clear and not the fuzziness I used to see. The Catch-22 is that my glasses are not the correct prescription for my new eye and I can't order glasses until the second eye goes through the same procedure. For a few months I will be a bit cockeyed, but I look forward to when both my eyes are functioning at 100%!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Guardian Angel

Snow is beautiful to look at
but horrible to drive in!

Sometimes, something happens that makes me realize that someone is watching over me. I began thinking of my granddaughter playing volleyball, just like my daughter used to play, and I remembered a game I attended in Evergreen, Colorado.  It had been cloudy all day, snow was predicted but as I drove to the mountains everything was dry.  I don't remember if the girls won or lost.  What I remember was leaving the gym and finding twelve inches of snow covering everything.  Cars were buried, windshields had ice, it was cold, and I knew I had a long ride home.

A father of one of the girls on our team helped me clean my car. "Gee, it looks awful," I said. He agreed and said that he would follow me all the way to Arvada so if anything happened he would be able to help me."  I thanked him and slowly pulled out of the parking lot.  I saw his headlights pull out  behind me and when I got on I-70 I could see it was a mess.  I creeped along, keeping one eye on the headlights behind me.  It made me feel safe knowing he was following me.  Cars were spinning out, some had landed in a ditch, many were stuck in the deep snow, there were a couple of fender benders but I continued my slow drive down the slick highway.

Colorado Winter

My hands gripped the steering wheels tightly, I was sweating, my head ached from the tension and I was afraid I would end up in an accident or in a ditch.  The only thing that gave me consolation was knowing the Dad was following me.  As I reached the street  where I would turn to go home, I honked and waved though the snow was coming down so hard I doubt he could see my wave. I wanted him to know I appreciated his being behind me. He honked back and soon I was home, safe and sound.

About three hours later, my daughter arrived and said, "They closed I-70 because there were too many accidents and the bus had to come down the back way. It usually takes 30 minutes and it took us almost four hours!" I was happy we were both home safe.

At the next game I found the father that had followed me down the treacherous road. "Thanks a lot for following me, I never would have made it if you hadn't been behind me!" He got a surprised look on his face and he said, "I didn't follow you.  As I was leaving right behind you, I was stopped and told that we all had to follow the bus down."

I don't know who was behind me but I choose to believe that it was my Guardian Angel following me on that icy highway and making sure I got home safely.  The honk I heard was probably my angel giving me a God be with you farewell!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Clubs

In my book club there are about thirteen persons that attend regularly, but sometimes we have over twenty-two readers attending the meeting. Some of the avid readers belong to more than one book club.  I like the variety of books selected to read every month.  Adventure, historical, science fiction, non-fiction,  philosophical, mysteries, autobiographies, fiction, religious, and classical books are picked by the group. It is interesting to hear different viewpoints on the stories read and many times our discussions include current affairs, world events, or past experiences.

Now that the youngest grandchild is thirteen years old, my son-in-law's family, all readers, will begin a family book club. At their Easter gathering this year, they will discuss The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I read the book years ago and sent it to my daughter but I didn't remember too much about it so I ordered a copy for my Kindle and in reading it again, found that I enjoyed and understood it more the second time around!


A quote in the book, "It is not what enters men's mouth that is evil, it's what comes out of their mouths," is one that I heard my Aunt say in 1953.  While working the fields, someone suggested people wash their hands before eating and she said, "It's not the dirt that goes in your mouth but the dirt that comes out that will hurt you."  I wondered where the quote originated and it seems that the Bible in Matthew 15:11 states the same thing.  "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of of the mouth, this defiles a man."

As I began reading the Alchemist it seemed like a simple story about a young shepherd.  Before long, the story evolved into spiritual thoughts and following one's dream.  The story made me wonder what my dream could have been before everyday living took over. As my life progressed it seemed as if traveling or writing could be my legend.  The excitement of seeing something new as I travel fills me with a completeness. I suppose I would have to say that following my legend has happened in spurts! I find it odd that in one week two nudges have occurred for me to walk, at least part way, the Road to Santiago.  One poke was the movie The Way and the second poke came from reading the Alchemist.  Maybe that is my destiny!

A favorite story I like to tell people who think the grass is greener on the other side is The House with the Golden Windows. I don't know who wrote it or where I heard it, but it made sense to me:  A little girl would look at the houses across the lake and every morning she would see all the houses on the opposite side with golden windows.  She wished she had golden windows on her house also. One day she began walking around the lake to the other side.  It took her all day and when she got to the other side, the sun was setting and as she looked across to her house, she saw that her house had golden windows.  In the Alchemist, the treasure is found where Santiago begins his journey!

The concept of living in the now is one I like.  It is difficult to do because I believe my past and what I think is going to happen in the future seem to over ride the now. A book by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, deals with attempting to live in the now. As Coehlo believes,  "life is the moment we are living right now."  In the story, a phrase is repeated a few times that where your heart is, you will find your treasure. 

Treasure can mean many different things and how I wish I could be at the Hallman's Easter dinner to hear if they found their treasure and how everyone chose to follow their very own dream!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Peru

                                                                                                             
This morning I took my ex-husband and his wife to the Arvada shuttle. They were on their way to DIA (Denver International Airport) to catch a flight to Peru. It got me to thinking about when I visited Peru and how fascinated and shocked I had been with the different culture.  On that trip, it was my first time out of the United States and I was not quite the seasoned traveler that I am now.
                                                                                                           Francisco Pizzaro 1535
                                                                                                          

The year was 1964 when we boarded a Pan Am airplane for Florida and then a long flight to Peru.  On the way we had a frightening stop in Quito, Ecuador.  The airplane landed, all passengers disembarked, passports were stamped, and then we were locked inside the airport. The announcement over the loud speaker informed us to board the plane but the glass doors remained chained.  Some daring travelers rattled the doors but stopped when soldiers with rifles told them to get away from the doors! A loud commotion of people yelling that the plane was leaving, that the door should be opened, that it was unfair, that they couldn't keep us prisoners, etc. gave me an uneasy feeling. The plane began to slowly roll backward and I was sure we would not be on it. The doors were finally opened and we boarded the waiting plane.We were told that Ecuador and Peru do not get along and many times a plane cannot land because shots are fired at the plane!

Lima is the capital of Peru with many beautiful colonial buildings, flowers, green parks, soldiers in white uniforms, plazas with large statues and fountains, decorative churches, and the port of Callao where large ships arrive. 
The Cathedral in Plaza Mayor

Traveling by train, I was able to see different and beautiful sights.  Llamas wander fields just like our antelope in the United States. Indigenous woman, in colorful dresses, watch over goats or sheep and the majority of the women wear men's fedoras!  Towns or villages seemed poor.  We stopped in one small town, and since it had been two days and I had not had a bath, that was my primary concern.  "I don't care where we stay, just as long as there is a tub or a shower."  "Oh, yes," we were told, "a nice tub and lots of hot water!"

The first thing I did was to grab a towel, soap, shampoo, clean clothes and head to the large room with a tub and toilet in the corner of the room.  The toilet I found out, flushed by pulling a chain above my head.  I turned the tub faucet and nothing happened. I twisted the faucet left, then right, on, then off, and nothing.  I got dressed and went out to find out why the water wasn't flowing.
"Oh," the inn keeper said, "we do not have plumbing. We heat the water in the kitchen and bring it in and pour it into the tub.  Are you ready now?"  Trying not to let him see the frustration on my face, I nodded. Hot and cold water were poured into the tub until it was the right temperature.

Feeling somewhat refreshed, we went looking for a place to eat. A street vendor was selling strips of cooked meat and my Peruvian husband said, "You have got to try this, it is delicious." I would have eaten the meat on the stick until some teenagers passing by made the remark, "That's llama meat." Would that be the same as horse meat, I thought? I ended up going into a tiny, one room grocery store, bought a small jar of peanut butter and crackers and that was my dinner.

Cuzco, a city in the mountains, was cold. We purchased Alpaca sweaters and prepared for our trip to Machu Picchu, the lost City of the Incas. The blankets in the hotel were woolly, heavy and itchy but they did keep me warm.
                                                                        Cold in Cuzco
A train took us high into the mountains and then we traveled by bus to Machu Picchu.  Looking out the bus window I felt as if I was on top of the world! The river far below looked like a reddish piece of tangled yarn. Machu Picchu was amazing, beautiful, interesting and fascinating.  It is hard to believe that no mortar was used and the stone walls are still standing.


Machu Picchu

On our way to Mollendo, where my husband was born, we entered Arequipa but to my dismay, an earthquake had demolished most of the city and I did not get to see the "White City." Before leaving for Peru, I had read that the whole city was built with a white volcanic stone called Sillar, which gives it the name of white city. I had also read that Misti, a high mountain peak was covered with snow year round but when we got glimpses of it there was very little snow on its peak.

Mollendo, is near the ocean and from a window of his family home,  I could see the blue water about five blocks away. I inherited the name of Queen of the Waves (Reina de las Olas)  when I was toppled into the rocky surf and no matter how hard I tried, the ocean would knock me down just as I was trying to stand up. We visited many of his friends and family, danced until dawn to fast Peruvian Waltzes, ate wonderful dishes prepared by his mother, sun bathed, swam, put on my makeup by candle light when the electricity went out, and visited a small village where the specialty is Ayacucho which is a guinea pig dish.  I was told that it was a delicacy and I was encouraged to eat it, but I ate chicken instead!  The beer comes in bottles as big as wine bottles and I was surprised when my hair was washed with beer to make it shiny! After three weeks, my vacation ended.

From Mollendo to Lima, I rode in a taxi with three other men. A few cackling chickens and a rooster, along with our luggage, were tied on top of the car. It was very cold and as we traveled during the night I would doze in spurts while covered in a blanket shared by all! Early in the morning, the rooster began to crow and woke us up!


I no longer dress up to travel!

I know that Peru has changed since I visited in 1964, more ruins have been found and explored, it is more modern, there is more catering to tourists and I would now trade my heels for walking shoes. Yet, those memories of my visit to Peru will always be with me.

                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Burrito Romance



Burrito Romance

T'was November second,
our one year anniversary
and I was filled with warm thoughts of my date.
We had been together almost every night
and I was beginning to wonder if he would be my fate.

The weather was frightful; I was hungry and tired.
I passed a Burrito place and thought about a quick stop.
A burrito, in a hot chili sauce, would surely hit the spot!
Devotion to my friend made me continue on
through that horrible storm and day light almost gone.

I rushed home to prepare a dinner for two;
a dinner to share
now that we had become a pair!
I baked, I cooked, I cut up veggies and could hardly wait
for my special friend and hoped he wouldn't be too late.

The storm raged, yet the kitchen was cozy and warm.
When the phone rang, I picked it up
and in my ear I heard, "Hi, I love you."
My heart fluttered. His voice sounded great.
"How was your day?"  Asked my beloved date.

I told him how my day had been and started to tell him
to hurry, our feast was almost done.
I heard him say, "The roads were bad, lots of snow,
so I stopped and had me a cheese burr-rit-toe."
I found it difficult to breathe as a lump formed in my throat.

My heart went cold as I turned off the stove.
"Why? Did you not think that we might eat together,
especially on our anniversary night?"
"No, I was hungry and a burrito sounded good.
I really thought it would be all right."

Why did those words have a familiar ring?
Hadn't I heard thoughtless words before?
Who would have thought that a burrito
would break the spell
and send the romance straight to, well,
it was clear to me, that when a burrito is more
important than me, that I am better off
being foot loose and fancy free!

E. Moscoso
November 9, 1990

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fifty Six Years Ago

In 1956  I put on my white cap and gown.  I would be graduating from Greeley High School along with 225 other seniors and some of those graduates had been with me since Kindergarten.  When I try to remember my high school years, I find it odd that I don't have a lot of memories.  Two teachers stand out; Mr. Joseph Irons and Mr. Fred Kotesky. Irons taught economics and Kotesky headed the school newspaper.  Once when I was ill, Mr. Kotesky came to my home and sat on the edge of the bed while I wrote an article for the paper. I remember Spanish class and how I had no problems speaking the language but struggled with the grammar. I do remember that we were State Basketball Champions in 1956 under Coach Jim Baggot. I was a member of the Pep Club and recall my outfit of a black skirt, saddle shoes, white sox with the tops rolled to make a large bulge around my ankle, (the bigger the better), and a white wool sweater with a wildcat on the front. Those early morning practices were killers as we arrived before school began. We joined the marching band in their formations as we pranced around the dark field. I learned to type in high school after my Mother rented an old Underwood typewriter.  I played intramural basketball, volleyball and softball and my nickname was Moose. Those memories seem so few for three years of high school.

A few days ago I received an envelope in the mail. On the upper left hand corner I saw "Cats of  '56"
and a cheerleader holding two large pom poms. The letter came from the Class of '56 Reunion Committee.  I have never attended any of the reunions but I thought maybe this one might be interesting and fun to attend. I dug out some photographs of many of my classmates and could not remember knowing them even though they had written nice things about me on the back of the pictures. I figure that those I did remember must have made some sort of  an impression on me.

The schedule for the reunion and what we would be doing encouraged me to want to attend my fifty sixth reunion. I would get to see my home town with all its many changes.  When I lived in Greeley, 8th Street and 8th Avenue were two main streets. Shopping took place within a few blocks of this intersection. I remember a J.C. Penny, Montgomery Ward (we called Monkey Wards), Joslins, a jewelry store, Denver Dry Goods, a furniture store, Jone's sporting goods, some restaurants, an auto dealer and two 5 & 10 cent stores, (Kress and Woolworth), a bowling alley, the Camfield Hotel, the Post office, the State Armory (where dances were held) and a drug store.

Mom gave me 35 cents for a hot lunch at school but I would go to Brannan's Grocery store, not too far away from the school, and buy me a slice of lunch meat for 3 cents, a bun for 2 cents, something to drink for 5 cents and that would be my lunch.  I then had money to stop at the bowling alley after school for a Green River (I believe it was probably water, green dye and sugar) and sit enjoying the sweet drink with my friends. Dill pickles or sunflower seeds would also be purchased with the left over lunch money.

Graduation night I tasted my first pizza.  I remember sitting at a round table talking about what we were going to do with the rest of our lives! At that time, we did not  know what was in store for us, how many dreams would be fulfulled or what we would become. As I read the information again, I thought it might be fun to return to Greeley to find out what really happened to everyone in the Class of  '56!   

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

On March 15, my church group, Young At Heart, celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a delicious corn beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and dessert dinner.  The real St. Patrick's Day is on Saturday, March 17 and the Denver area will celebrate it with a large parade, green beer, lots of corn beef and cabbage dishes, Irish jigs and the majority of those celebrating will be honorary Irish for the day.

Green was the color that most of the people attending the dinner chose to wear as they celebrated St. Patrick's Day. I remember when I was growing up that if we did not wear green on St. Patrick's day, we would get pinched! I wonder if the tradition of pinching those not in green is still around today? 

It seems the myth of St. Patrick is that he chased snakes out of Ireland though in some of the things I have read, he was busy converting pagans to Christianity.

Celebrations on his day have been going on for years. I remember years ago when an Irishman by the name of McHugh and I were going to the Denver parade.  Imagine my surprise when he showed up in green slacks, a green bow tie with flashing pin-point lights, a green top hat, and a green shirt!  He looked like a six foot leprechaun! I was embarrassed to be seen with him until we arrived at the parade route....it seemed that everyone was dressed in some sort of crazy green outfit.

There are many sayings, quotes, and toasts on this day and below are a few I like:  

As he brought new faith to Ireland, so may he bring to you, a touch of Irish happiness in everything you do....and like the good St. Patrick, may your home and life be blessed with all God's special favors that make you happiest.

You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was!

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit;
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad!

May the Blessings of each day be the blessings you need most!

St. Patrick's Day is a fun day to wear green, celebrate, try green beer, drink some Irish coffee, eat corn beef and cabbage, listen to bag pipers and watch Irish jig dancers.  It's a day to go out and enjoy being Irish for a day!

June, a green-haired friend.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Day Without My Computer

I always thought I could take or leave my being on the computer....I was so wrong.  Yesterday, all day, I was without my laptop because it had picked up a virus and I had taken it to a Computer Clinic.  The day without my laptop, stretched into forever.  I took many empty steps into the computer room only to find the desk empty, the wires limp on top of the desk.  I seemed to have no connection to the outside world. A sadness came over me.  It was as if I had lost a best friend.

Ideas for blogs had to be written down...how long had it been that I had written anything? I knew I had to keep busy or I would go into a fit of depression so I washed all my bedding including the heavy bedspread. (Made my washer dance across the floor to the tune of loud thumping!) All the bathroom rugs got picked up and washed, furniture got dusted, rooms got vacuumed, I baked a banana bread, read a book, went shopping and I watched shows on television I did not even know existed!

I'm not saying I usually spend a lot of time on my laptop but I do know I missed the bright screen, my fingers flying over the keys and reading all the latest news!  Today I picked up my healthy laptop and upon entering the house I felt an excited tingle in my stomach.  Sticking wires into the special holes I was connected to my laptop again! I read my email, erased 86 spams and checked Facebook to see what my friends were doing.  I perused what was happening in the world and wrote on my blog.  Somehow, the feeling of having something missing in my life disappeared and I felt whole again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cataracts Part 2

Eye is from a pastel picture Barb
did of me a few years ago!

Today I had what is called a pre-op appointment regarding my up-coming cataract operation.  I first had to sign a sheet informing me what will happen on the day of the operation.  One paragraph was scary, listing all the things that could go wrong. Bleeding, infection, loss of corneal clarity, swelling of the macula, glaucoma, retinal detachment, droopy eyelid, double vision, prolonged inflammation and pupil abnormalities.  My question was, what is the percentage of successful operations and was told it is around 98% so that made me feel better. I hope I am not in the 2%! I paid careful attention to the doctor's hands to make sure she didn't have shaky hands.  She didn't.

There are eye drops that I will begin taking three days before surgery and then continue for six weeks after surgery. The names of the drugs mean nothing to me:  Diciofenac, Zymaxid and Prenisolone.    I looked the drugs up on the Internet but did not find anything relating to the drugs and cataracts. Maybe the old saying of "what you don't know doesn't hurt you" is true!  One drug, I believe, is for inflammation, but I am not sure about the other two medications.

I was told that after surgery there may be a mild aching sensation, a feeling as if there is something in my eye, or a tearing (not ripping, but tears) or draining under the patch. The main instructions, other than the medication, was not to bend over so that my head drops below my waist and not to lift anything weighing over twenty pounds.

My surgery will be at 10:30 a.m. and I need to arrive at the hospital at nine in the morning.  Hopefully, by next month, I will have better eye sight and I can begin to prepare for the surgery on my right eye!

My Pretend Vacation

After writing about the movie, The Way, and seeing travelers walking the Road to Santiago, I was filled with an urge to go to Spain and complete the walk.  I checked tour companies and found out dates and prices. Then, I realized that on a 4.6 mile walk near Estes, I wrecked my big toe and for six months have had a black toe nail. I could just imagine walking 500 miles!  Besides, my knees ache,  my back hurts and I'm on a fixed income.  All reasons why I should stay home!

In order to get the wanderlust out of my system I drove to Golden, Colorado.  Three weeks ago, I had been in Golden for the Buffalo Bill Days and had noticed many bronze sculptures. At the time, a thought fleetingly passed my mind that I would like to return to look at the sculptures more closely.

This morning, I played a tourist visiting Golden (about 12 miles away) and saw the sculptures, checked out novelty stores, saw a few cowboy bars, found a vegan restaurant, a hotel, the river, a bridge, a bread and breakfast, a bicycle shop, a boat store, a hay store, murals, bought water at Safeway, passed Coors Brewery and enjoyed the summer like day.  It was a pleasant walk with no pain! Below are my photos of my pretend vacation!

A 14' sculpture of Buffalo Bill Cody and his daughter welcome visitors to Golden.


A newspaper boy selling
the The Transcript.


                     Large sign over the main street.
Below, a Native American woman with Squash Blossom necklace.  A boy helping a girl get on a horse.  A sleeping bear. A dragon.  A young cowboy. A  huge bear.  A cowboy. A gold miner. A buffalo. An Indian chief.  The beautiful artwork is scattered along the main street of Washington Avenue.
              
                                                

Western novelty store with neat items.

Large murals on building walls.

Loved these bicycle stands where you can
leave your bike.

Clear Creek runs on the north side of Golden and there are places to sit and enjoy the view. Looking south-east, Table Mountain Mesa can be seen from most areas of Golden.

 To complete my pretend vacation, I purchased a souvenir and it has helped to calm my wandering spirit.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cataracts

The eye is the jewel of the body.
Henry David Thoreau

A bright light, air puffed into my eye and now I am asked what letters I can see on the eye chart.  "None," I say.  The doctor flips some lenses to the largest letters and those I can see though they appear a bit hazy. I blink and squint to see if I can clear up the letters. More clicks as the doctor raises the power of the lenses. What has happened to my eye sight?

"You know that you won't pass your driver's license test," she says, "you have cataracts." After explaining that a cataract is a clouding that develops on the eye lens, light not focusing on the retina, and how this will cause loss of vision, she wanted to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.  I hesitated.  Maybe, she was wrong.  I would get a second opinion.  A stronger prescription might correct my eyesight.

Four months later, I knew stronger lenses would not help.  Even though night driving had been a problem for me now I noticed it was worse.  Lights that had been blurry before now were fuzzier. Signs were impossible to read.  I practically had to be on top of a sign to see it. I realized I was doing "memory" driving by relying on what I remembered in the past. In church, I no longer could read the large cue board hanging on the opposite wall.  Not too long ago, I could close one eye and see the words with my my good eye.  Now, neither eye could make out the words. Writing scrolling on the bottom of a television program could no longer be read.  Entering a store became difficult to see items unless I was fairly close. I relied on seeing familiar shapes or colors. 

Mornings appear to be worse because I have problems focusing through blurry eyes. It seems as if my eyes get better as the day progresses. I have never worn glasses while at the computer or reading  and that has not changed.  Distance is my problem. "How do you drive?" I was asked by friends when I told them about my cataracts.  "If it's big, I'll see it," is my response.  I notice I squint more.

Another appointment, another round of tests, and again I was told I should get the dreaded cataract operation. The procedure was set for the end of March and everyone who has had it done tells me, "Nothing to it."Takes about fifteen minutes."  "Piece of cake." "No problems."  "Can see better than ever." I am not looking forward to having the cataracts removed, but the comments make me feel better.

A booklet, Understanding Cataracts, proved to be helpful in understanding what I would be going through. Incision in the eye, removal of the lens, insertion of artificial lens, eye drops and then I should have better eyesight. Sounded simple enough. That takes care of my left eye and after a month the right eye will go through the same procedure. The question is:  Will I really see better?

Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.                          Truly light is sweet, and a pleasant
Thomas W. Higginson                                                              thing  is for the eyes to behold the sun.
                                                                                                                           Book of Ecclesiastes

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Santiago de Compostela

Emilio Estevez wrote and directed The Way. In the film his father, Martin Sheen, portrays an American man who goes to France to recover his son's body. Looking through his son's belongings he realizes his son had planned to walk the Road of St. James (El Camino de Santiago) and decides to travel the road with his son's ashes. The movie is filmed on the actual road beginning in France and ending in Spain. It is a beautiful story that unfolds as he meets other pilgrims and stops at hostels, known as albergues or refugios. The movie is entertaining, inspirational, grabs at your heart, and interesting.  I read in The Road to Santiago written by Ana Martin that the first pilgrimage occured in the year 950 by French Bishop Gottschalk. Pilgrims come from all over the world to Santiago where it is said that St. James' remains are buried. At one time it used to be a religious pilgrimage, but now it is more of a tourist attraction and can be done by bicycle, horseback  or walking

In 2007 I spent time in Santiago and was impressed by the huge Cathedral and the large square (plaza)surrounded by historical buildings.
Museo y Tesoro de la Catedral

Plaza de Obraidoiro.
The building used to be a
hostel for pilgrims but is now a hotel.

The cathedral photo is from a travel book because there was no way I could get the whole facade.  Photographs are not allowed to be taken inside the Cathedral so I was not able to photograph  St. James, the Apostle, on the main altar or the beautiful side altars. Pilgrims are allowed to go behind the main altar, up a few steps, and touch or embrace the gold cape of St. James.
An amazing sight was the gigantic incense burner that is on a pulley.  In order to get the botafumeiro to swing above the heads of the pilgrims, it takes eight men pulling on ropes.

A huge pulley used to swing
the giant incense burner.

St. James, the Moor Slayer,
graces the tops of many of the buildings in Santiago.

I saw carved pillars, statues, art work, side altars, and lots of gold filigree as I wandered through the huge cathedral. It was interesting to sit and watch the pilgrims arriving at their final destination with backpacks and hiking boots. Some pilgrims looked clean while others looked dusty and dirty. Most looked tired. Many touched the stone pillar of  St. James at the entrance of the Cathedral in thanksgiving of a safe pilgrimage.

The pillar that is touched by
pilgrims as they enter the Cathedral.


 At the end of the journey, if the pilgrims have gotten their special passport stamped along the way, they are given a certificate showing they completed the pilgrimage.

To guide the travelers, the road is marked with actual scallop shells or pictures of the shells. There are several stories as to what the shell means.  The tale I like is that the shell represents a pilgrim and the grooves on a scallop shell end up in one spot, just like the Pilgrims who will end up in Santiago.
 
The Way stirred the vagabond feeling in me and made me wish I was in my twenties so that I could  travel the road to Santiago de Compostela.
Shopping in Santiago de Compostela

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Welcome Home

The plane arrived at the Anchorage Alaska airport after one in the morning. I needed to find a cab, I was tired and a bit nervous because of our late arrival, and I did not know if the hotel would still be holding my room reservation. The airport was deserted, shops were closed, and there was an eerie silence until I rounded a corner and saw bright lights and hundreds of persons.  Did they greet all passengers with t.v. cameras, balloons, banners, flags and music?

I asked a security guard what was happening.  "Our boys are returning from Iraq today!"  I decided to stay and watch. I saw homemade banners with "Welcome Home,  My Daddy,"  "Love you!"  "Waiting for you, Honey."  Somewhere, on another level I could hear a band played America the Beautiful.  Everyone looked down the empty hallway. Excited people talked and stretched to look down the long hall hoping to be the first to see their loved one.

"Here they come," someone yelled. I saw the soldiers, not in uniform, but in casual clothing coming at a fast walk. A little girl ran under the rope and into her Dad's arms.  From then on, all I saw were hugs, kisses, flowers handed over, balloons tangled above people's heads, flags waving and cries of joy. I could not hold back my tears and cried right along with all the beautiful families. I enjoyed watching as everyone seemed to cling to each other.  One woman was lifted and twirled. Children would not let go of their Dads.  Women kissed husbands or boyfriends. T.V. cameras photographed the loving actions of those returning and those waiting for them!









I left the wonderful sight behind me as I looked for a taxi to take me to the hotel at 3:30 in the morning. What an exhilarating feeling to know that I, on my first visit to Alaska, helped welcome home a group of men and women from their overseas tour.

Today, I saw Act of Valor and came out of the movie with mixed emotions.  I felt proud that soldiers fight to keep us free by risking their own lives, scared that danger can befall us just like 9/11, happy that the majority of the soldiers in the movie made it home, and sad that we live in a world so full of danger. The movie is about Navy Seals rescuing a tortured and bloody agent, spying on drug deals, and intercepting Jihad wearing exploding vests from entering the United States. It is a fast moving action film with a lot of noisy shooting and shouting.  I knew it was a movie, shot with real Seals, but I wanted a fairy tale ending with all the soldiers making it home, a world at peace and with a,  "and they lived happily ever after" ending!

The movie brought back memories of those soldiers who returned home the night I arrived in Anchorage. Brave men and women who keep us safe and sound.  I salute those men and women and every night I will say a prayer for those serving our country!