A few visuals from our time at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area!
Archive for friendship
There was once a young man named Chris Blew, he worked in a bookstore in San Francisco – the best bookstore I have ever entered actually – Green Apple Books. We were pals… we watched bad movies together and the occasional t.v. show… always while munching on junk food. We also rode bikes and worked together. When we were in our mid-twenties I lost Chris to cancer (about 19 years ago). Recently I stumbled upon some old, yellowing, typed sheets of his poetry.
In honor of a lost friend I post one of the poems here… let it remind you that life is short and we should all make the best of it… Go outside, get on your bike and take a ride for Chris! And if you happen to be in San Francisco, ride across the Golden Gate Bridge – he loved to do that…
So is it, that in this immense universe,
gazillions of planets thick,
God, the Big G,
chose to watch us?
Or maybe, we’re the only life out there,
in those gazillions of worlds,
mathematically improbable, but then,
Gods’ in charge of the math.
Perhaps God, in his infiniteness,
infinitosity? infinitude? Bigness?
perhaps God can watch us all, each and every soul,
grasshopper to planaria to Chris,
all the Chris’s, myself included,
on all the gazillions of worlds,
it’d be a lot of work,
but then, he’s God, the Big G.
Or is it that God, the Big G,
is a higher order of life,
but strictly local,
like, “The Milky Way God”,
or some such thing.
And if so,
does God, the Big G.
worship some God of his own,
a Bigger G?
And, there’s also the chance,
that God, the Big G.
was born, lives, and will end,
in that space,
that electro-chemical gap,
between nerve fibers,
where everything we think is born, lives, and ends.
Yes, maybe God is our thought,
a spark of invention,
in some long forgotten cortex,
built into the system,
and resuming his godly stature,
with every firing of the nerve.
So maybe God, the Big G.
is no more than a bodily function of me,
and all the other Chris’s, and the planaria
and the grasshoppers, and the Pope,
what a switch.
If that’s the case,
then I’m really quite sorry,
because there are gazillions of worlds out there,
in this really big, infinite universe,
and me, and the other Chris’s,
and the planaria and the grasshoppers,
and even the Pope,
would be very lonely without God, the Big G.
One of the aspects I enjoy about living in a rural area are small town parades on the 4th of July. Although I do have one minor critique… a little too much emphasis on car culture. I would love to see more walkers, bands, dancers, horseback riders. My one exception to that is, of course, that I certainly don’t mind ogling a classic car here and there! Here is a sampling of what we saw at the Jay, New York parade.
In Norse mythology Asgaard was the dwelling place of the gods and of slain war heroes, ruled by Odin. But here in the Adirondacks it was the home of an amazing and inspiring artist… In the 1920s Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) chose a glorious spot in the Ausable River Valley for his home, farm and artist’s studio and he named it Asgaard Farm. As a printmaker and graphic artist I have long been inspired by Kent’s work. His paintings, murals, book plates and illustrations are wonderful. He was a true renaissance man and also extended his skills to writing… One of my favorites was his book, Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska.
Rockwell Kent passed away long before I moved to the North Country, and although I had seen it from a distance I had never made a pilgrimage to Asgaard Farm. Naturally, the farm has changed hands over the years since leaving the Kent family – and is now a working farm once more. At Asgaard Farm & Dairy they raise chickens, cows, pigs and goats, lots of goats. They sell products from the farm including wonderful goat cheese. In addition, you can stay at one of the guest houses on the farm.
(Special thanks to Shaun Heffernan / PHOTOPIA for all of the awesome goat photos!)
They are in the midst of kidding season right now! It’s a really awesome time to visit Asgaard and watch the goats give birth, pick up a baby bottle and feed a kid, or just walk around and enjoy the scenery. We went recently with our friend Cheri, and had the pleasure of watching the birth of two kids and feeding the youngsters.
The adult goats are all very curious and friendly. They have been brought up ‘by hand’ and receive lots of love and affection from staff and visitors alike. Past experiences with less friendly goats (don’t turn your back on them!) had me approaching warily. But my caution was unfounded. Even the two females in the throes of labor were sweet as pie and ready to receive scratches. The kids really wanted to be near us – I’m sure they associated us with food, but they were also just curious and enjoying the attention we showered on them.
When we arrived in the goat barn one female had already given birth to twins and another was ready to begin. Being in the barns for this miracle is not for the feint of heart. It is bloody and messy and amazing. The staff at Asgaard did an incredible job of caring for the females as they went through the birthing process, and of ensuring the live birth of the kids. It was inspiring to watch them work and to witness the process of animal birth.
Although it was a cold day we spent a few hours getting to know the goats and photographing them. Eventually I was handed a bottle and given brief instructions on feeding two of the kids – who were just hours old.
Perhaps it was the spirit of Rockwell Kent hovering around the place – but I began planning a woodblock print of one of the lovely female goats. She will have a glorious beard and I hope to convey the loving aura these gals exuded.
There were many distinguished visitors who came to enjoy the tranquil setting Alice and William Miner created during the heyday of Heart’s Delight Farm in Chazy. Many of these visitors signed guest books with eloquent messages. One such visitor was James Buchanan Brady. Perhaps you will know him better by his nickname, Diamond Jim.
Diamond Jim Brady was a salesman extraordinaire. He started out as a poor Irish boy in New York City working as a bellboy. Perhaps utilizing his charm and tenacity he secured a job in the railroad business, eventually selling railroad equipment, including Miner equipment. Fortune Magazine called him the “greatest capital goods salesman in American history” fifty years after his 1917 death. Clearly he was a great salesman, and a savvy investor in the stock market, relatively rapidly becoming a very wealthy man, estimated at one time to be worth at least twelve million dollars!
His penchant for jewels is what gained him the nickname Diamond Jim. One of his signature pieces of jewelry was a large ring with the image of a horse surrounded by diamonds. He also prided himself in dressing well and believed that one need look good to be successful, “If you’re going to make money, you’ve got to look like money…” was an oft-quoted Brady axiom.
He was literally a larger-than-life figure in the Gilded Age. There are so many legends surrounding Diamond Jim that it is clear he really caught the public’s imagination. He was called a gourmand for his incredible appetite. The legends about the volume of food he would eat at a sitting are truly amazing, and perhaps not totally accurate. Another story about Diamond Jim illustrates how he whole-heartedly embraced the new “safety” bicycles popular in New York City by ordering a dozen gold plated bicycles with diamond-encrusted handlebars for himself, his friends, and his longtime confidant, actress and singer Lillian Russell.
Diamond Jim loved to bet on the horses, and was a regular at Saratoga, New York raceways. Perhaps it was his trips to Saratoga that eventually brought him north to visit his friend William Miner at Heart’s Delight Farm in Chazy. Legend has it that William played a little trick on Diamond Jim by hiding a canteen of orange juice (Jim’s favorite drink), along with a few fancy glasses in the crook of a tree, which they “found” as Will led Jim on a hike about the farm on a very warm day. Will lured Jim into a chat about how nice it might be to have something cold to drink… when Diamond Jim concurred, Will reached around the tree and poured him a glass of orange juice!
William Miner and Diamond Jim both traveled the railroads for endless days selling railroad gear. William sold his own inventions, and Jim sold for others as well as for William. They became good friends along the way. Perhaps they crossed paths at the World’s Colombian Exposition in 1893, where Diamond Jim and Lillian Russell turned heads with the sheer amount of corn they consumed! Diamond Jim was a very generous man, showering gifts on friends and donating a large sum to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had once been treated. There are even a few wonderful objects in the collection at The Alice that Jim gave to his friend Will.
In the Miner Room on the third floor are displayed two matching American silver-overlay green glass decanters with stoppers. Made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company around 1895, the silver overlay is a scrolled Art Nouveau design with a monogrammed “WHM”. With matching monograms, the other pieces consist of a four-piece set of men’s hairbrushes made of silver. They are not the overly ornate gifts of legend, just handsome pieces suitable for a less showy person like William Miner. Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall during Diamond Jim’s visit to Heart’s Delight Farm? Oh, the meals they served, and the enjoyment they squeezed out of life!
I was diagnosed officially with Parkinson’s Disease in April of 2001 at the age of 34, but the symptoms were present years before the diagnosis. I just had no idea what it was! I was in denial when I first found out and requested a second opinion. I traveled several times to UCSF where I was seen by the head of neurology and observed by several medical students. It was later confirmed that I had Parkinson’s Disease. I have to admit there was a sense of relief that my problem had a name – but I was still terrified! I immediately set out to educate myself. There are several good books out there on the disease and of course the internet is a wealth of information. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a good source of information and has helped me tremendously over the years. I get their newsletter each month/quarter which keeps me up to date on new trials and findings regarding PD. Michael J. Fox and his foundation have given me hope for the future! My family and I also donate money annually to the foundation. I have a sister and her family and a dear childhood friend who participate in annual runs for PD and raise money towards the cure, Thank you Patty and Amanda!
After years of progressing PD symptoms, I have had to change the way I do some things. Unfortunately, there are some things I have eliminated completely. I avoid stairs due to the fall factor! My balance had not been good and I find myself tipping over for no reason. I used to enjoy hiking… no uneven ground for this girl now. I fatigue easily and require a 20 minute nap almost everyday. I no longer work outside the home. I was forced to retire about 3 years ago from my law enforcement job. I was devastated by this at first. I was a Community Services Officer for almost eight years and enjoyed my job for the first time ever. I loved the connection with the community and serving them and I loved my law enforcement family. And, my husband Gregg and I shared something in common… He continues to work there as a Lieutenant Commander of our county jail. This was a tough decision to make. Along with my neurologist we decided it was time. Since then I have made myself busy, sometimes busier than when I worked! We have a twelve year old son who I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom for! I volunteer for projects at his school that I can do from home. I also enjoy giving what service I can to members of my church. I refuse to let PD get me down!
In February 2011, after much thought and research, I decided to have the DBS treatment (Deep Brain Stimulation). I had heard about this surgery in 2003 at a PD conference where a doctor by the name of Benjamin Remington spoke about the treatment for PD – but I wasn’t too keen on someone drilling in my brain. After introducing myself to this doctor I proceeded to tell him I would never have this surgery. He told me I would come talk to him when I was ready, which irritated me at the time. Fast forward 9 years, I sought out this same doctor, changed my insurance for the year just so he could perform the surgery. I had the DBS surgery a year ago and I am forever grateful to Dr. Remington! I have the utmost respect and confidence in him. The surgery was a success. Although this type of surgery is just a treatment and not a cure, I am so grateful for the “time” it has bought me. I still have the disease, it is just masked by my battery operated brain. I am still hopeful for a cure in my lifetime.
I have always enjoyed exercising and prior to surgery was very impatient waiting for my drugs to work so that I could walk with my friends. I have a group that I walk with and they have been so patient and supportive of my needs – often walking around my block an extra time waiting for my drugs to kick in. I never walk alone for fear of falling. Since surgery I have returned to the gym. Exercise, and just plain moving is crucial to PD patients.
Prior to surgery I was taking 16 pills a day (3 types of drugs used for treating PD). Today, I take 6 per day. I no longer shake or have those nasty involuntary movements, or walk with a walker. The best part is I hardly ever fall anymore! I used to freeze up constantly which caused me to fall almost every day. There are a few side effects – and balance is still an issue but it is much improved. One of the side effects of DBS is slurred speech. When I’m tired or talk too fast it is sometimes hard to understand me. I have learned to slow down and annunciate my words.
I attend a monthly PD support group which has been a great blessing. At 44 I’m the youngest member of the group. The majority of them are 60 and over and some are wheelchair users. They have been a huge support to me, and were my cheerleaders through my surgery and recovery. I am proud to call every one of them my friends!
There is no doubt having a debilitating disease is hard on any family, especially one with young children. My kids, now age 22 and 12 have adapted well to having a handicapped mom. They’ve had to chip in with extra chores and fetch things for me when I couldn’t move. They get frustrated sometimes but that’s life. They have definitely become more sensitive to others needs. I think my husband has had to take on the most responsibility. It’s tough being the caregiver. I worry about the burden I must be but I do know how much he loves me… And that makes all the difference in the world.
With PD I have learned to be realistic. I can’t run errands, shop, run kids everywhere, or work like I used to. It takes careful planning and accepting that sometimes you don’t get “it” done today. There is always tomorrow. You have to allow extra time to accomplish things. Time management is the key and accepting your disease is half the battle. And my motto long before PD was “Each Day is a Gift”. I truly believe this, even on the not-so-good days!
They call me a Young Onset PD patient, even though I don’t feel that young! At first I needed help with getting dressed, putting my boots on for work, and sometimes washing my hair. That was in the beginning when I was very stiff and rigid and lacked fine motor skills. Dopamine drugs seemed to help a little, when I remembered to take them. As the years went by I had to depend on these drugs to just get by each day. I have to admit I was depressed a lot and shook my fist at God and said “why” a few times. Now, I thank my Heavenly Father everyday for giving me this challenge because it has made me a better person and a stronger woman and lets face it, there are a lot worse diseases I could have!
My advice to anyone with PD and to their caregivers is simply – be patient. Allow extra time, love yourself, and love your family for helping take care of you. Exercise is key! Those happy endorphins really work, and fight depression. And remember “Each Day is a Gift!”
The Plattsburgh Half Marathon is Sunday, April 22. If you would like to help me to reach my fundraising goal for Team Fox please visit my personal fundraising page!http://www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/amanda