Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's Hobbit Day!

Cameron's college roommate from, oh, about 30 years ago, remains a huge part of our lives. Today she and her husband are taking us to see The Hobbit for Christmas! While I am thrilled, Cameron is beyond ecstatic. He was up early this morning, showered, and garbed in his new Hobbit t-shirt before I was even completely awake...and I'm normally the early morning person.

Oh course, getting up early was inhibited by the third week of recovery from the flu, and from the 10 hour adventure yesterday of installing a new TV in the bedroom. Our company gave us a Christmas bonus Friday. Cameron had already been looking, leaving a sticky trail of drool across every TV in the store. The folks at Best Buy were very helpful, but we all underestimated the challenge of hanging a TV in a 30 year old mobile home.

The adventure began at 10 in the morning and ended with three trips to Home Depot and mostly finishing about 8 at night. We had to move furniture, discard the 14 year old monstrosity that had stopped working, move art, and rearrange the entire room. The adventure spilled into the living room as well, as Cameron's God and Goddess painting had to be moved, which required even more shifting of art and furniture.

At last we were ready to and the new bracket. Uh...we forgot to take into account that the 2 1/2 screws that secure the mount for the TV will poke through a 2 inch trailer stud. Yeah...Home Depot. Several times. Brainstorming, a patient sales clerk with an idea for a brace that will hid behind the painting....well, you get the idea.

So we finally get done and Cameron plugs in Lord of the Rings...and I fell asleep!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Marine

I've written before about my son, who was, is, a Marine. Once a marine always a marine, regardless of being on active service. My son was born angry. He was a colicky, difficult baby. I was a very young mother with no clue as to how to care for an infant. I married a man not his father for a home and security. We put his name on the birth certificate. It was not a good situation.

Nevertheless, I loved my cotton top child. His younger brother came along three years later with exactly the opposite temperament. A year later, I divorced their father and began a very difficult journey with a great many side turns and challenges. Their father provided stability. I provided a different way to look at the world. I missed visitation twice in their lives. Once when I was too ill to travel and once when I was snowed in and the police wouldn't allow anyone on the holidays.

I eventually went to college and traded my GED for an Bachelor's degree and grad school. Their father remarried. He didn't approve of my life style. He didn't understand my drive for education. Or my inability to fit into the world we inhabited. He didn't like my parents and thought them to be a poor influence on his children. My mother is schizophrenic and he had little interest in understanding mental illness. And he passed many of his attitudes to my eldest son, right down to condemning my later religious path, sexual orientation and number of cats.

Put that on the back burner.

The Marine now has three children of his own. I held Belle once, when his attitude relented briefly. For a few months before being stationed in Iraq my son included us in his life. He told Cameron that he loved her. He told me he would never cut me off, saying, "I'll never do that to you again."  I knew it was a lie. The one time we saw Belle, my tears rained, because I knew we would never see her again.

For a few years The Marine's wife posted pictures on FaceBook and Piccasa. I regularly tortured myself with photos. When their son was born, fewer pictures were posted. They stopped all together when the third child was born. I'm assuming from FaceBook comments that The Marine preferred my access to be cut off. My daughter-in-law still "friends" me on FaceBook; my son never has. But it became apparent my "friendship" with her was causing difficultly in her marriage, I stopped contacting her.

The other day I was on my younger son's FaceBook. A comment there led to The Marine's Halloween photo of himself, and the comments were public. As was the disrespecting comment to the LGBT community. Sigh.

Put that on the back burner.

I spent 14 years of my children't lives planning, preparing, dreaming of regaining custody. When I finally got joint custody I was also, unfortunately, in the end of a very dangerous, very damaging marriage to a psychopath. So my children didn't get the best of me when  they finally lived with me full time. I immediately plunged into another relationship because I couldn't keep custody without a second paycheck. I look at those four years I had the boys with such a mixture of joy and sadness. I wanted my sons to see another world besides the narrow minded world they came from. They attended ritual with me. My youngest even chose to study the wiccan path for a time. My eldest was horrified, in a quite condemning kind of a way.

Get a small side dish.

Cameron was at one of those gatherings with my children, and spent a long afternoon talking with Marine. They share a strong Christian background. At the time, Cameron had just begun his journey into a dual path. And Cameron can quote scripture with the best of them. For a while it seemed Marine had found a balance and respect for other's beliefs. But when he choose to return to his father's home to finish his last year of high school, he stopped speaking to me. I later heard about the very harsh paper he wrote for an English class about, "My Mother the Witch."

Stir it all together.

I t is truly one of life's greatest ironies that in my fourth decade of life I found my path and left behind abusive, damaging relationships. By all rights, I should be dead several times over. On the streets of Atlanta. At the hands of my biological sperm donor. At the hands of several ex-husbands. Then in my fourth decade I fell in love with Cameron. I followed him to this state and we created a world of love and stability. I went back to school. I became a therapist. I repaired my damaged relationship with my parents. I bought my very modest home and put down roots. And those very choices have cost me my grandchildren. Today my heart grieves.

One of the hardest part of this grief over the loss of my son and his children is other people's comments. The placating tones of someone's "Blood is thicker than water" or "One day he will realize" sets my teeth on edge. My study of family systems has taught me that one parent can replace another, just as my own adopted father has replaced my evil sperm donor. Marine has a lovely step-mother who is loving, yet as narrow minded as his father and himself. There's no room for me. The safety of Marine's narrow minded world requires him to be closed off from me, my liberal ideas, my religion, my sexual identity, and my 23 cats. (Once when he was a teen, I became so exasperated my a comment he made about my 13 cats, I told him to pick which ones he wanted to take to the pound. He dropped the subject.)

Of course I believe in miracles. Of course I send love and light to the grandchildren daily. But as the days tick by, does the possibilities of that day. For many years I comforted myself with the possibility of change. Of the grandchildren growing up and one day find me. Indeed, I believe that something new might one day be created, but that the past cannot be recreated.

I grieve my son and grandchildren as though they are dead. There is no relationship to connect us. If by some miracle, I began a relationship with Bella now, we've missed a lot of history. I haven't seen her grow up. I've never heard her call me grandma. The other two children have even less reality as I've not held them, seen them, known them for even a moment. Grief becomes a familiar companion, one easier to live with as years wear on, but constant.  Eventually it simply becomes part of your identity.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The long journey: I have earned my License in Marriage and Family Therapy

Almost seven years ago I took my first classes in Pastoral Counseling and in Family Systems. I was working as a debt collector at a check collecting agency (now out of business; thank you Mitt Romney). They had tuition reimbursement, making the possibility of going back to school a reality. I knew I wanted some sort of counseling program, stumbled on the Converse College website, and knew what I needed to do.

It's been a tough journey. Long days and longer nights. Job changes. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work, seeing clients in the afternoons and taking classes at night. Going to bed at 9:30 and getting up the next morning to do the same. I finished classes, passed the licensure exam on the first attempt, and completed my internship/supervision at Safe Homes Rape Crisis Coalition. It has been a journey of personal and professional development. And unlike many of my peers, I have a job in my field, even if I am still getting up at 3:30 in the morning.

As of this past weekend, I completed all requirements and have now been fully licensed. I don't have immediate plans to change jobs and discard the oddball hours. Jobs in the counseling/therapy field a few and hard to come by. I've been "promoted" to the supervisory committee at work (meaning I can sign off on treatment plans) and was rewarded with a modest pay raise, which is more than my peers working for the state.

And here I am exhausted. I look forward to the winter months for healing, sleep, recovery. Come spring, I look forward to exploring the beginnings of the next journey. The seminary at Chapel Hill has a M.Div program that I am seriously considering. I think I want to start gently, though. They also have a class on Pagan Elders that focuses on Starhawk that is not toward a degree. I want to start there. I may have found my way professionally, but my spiritual life needs some serious nurturing.

I was also fascinated to see they have a degree in Pastoral Counseling for pagan; it's systemic. It looks like they borrowed heavily from the family systems world that I have already trained in. That is awesome. It looks like a place I will fit into nicely.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Nightmare

As is my usual custom with so many nocturnal cats in the house, I took Tylenol PM last night before going to bed. I was up much later than usual reading an awesome book by Sci-Fi writer David Weber.

I live on the east coast, and woke before dawn from a nightmare. I dreamed I was in a crowded theater, maybe 15-16 rows from the back. Suddenly someone yelled fire, and while I saw no flames, I did see smoke. For a moment I thought it was some sort of performance art until I heard screaming. I dropped to the floor with my companion, completely terrified. It was dark, there was a horrible smell I couldn't identify that burned the back of my throat. And I woke with a word. Joker.

Nightmares are not that terribly unusual for me. So I used my usual thought stopping techniques and made myself go back to sleep. When I woke this morning, I had a premonition that it was imperative to check the news. That's when I saw the articles pouring in from Colorado. I am in awe of the power of the collective unconscious. May goddess comfort all touched by this tragedy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Germinating Seeds

What a brilliant idea. Plant the whole thing and the egg will break
 down and further fertilize the plant. I'd keep the original cardboard
carton so as to reduce my carbon footprint.

Here's another interesting idea

Straw Bale Gardening

Yellow Dog Granny said she didn't know what hay bale gardening is. I said hay, but should have said straw. I found a youtube, granny, just for you!

Berries and flowers

So I took my own pictures of raspberries with the cell phone last night, but they waiting until this morning to show up! Go figure.
I planted this tulip tree about 4 years ago when it
was 6 inches tall. It's about 12 feet now!

Hosta and Daisies

The daisies are trying to take over the enter bed. Didn't know
they would due that until I had to move them out of the garden.
Unfortunately, I didn't get them all and the tomatoes are feeling crowded!

A good pruning leaves space for the sun to grow more raspberries!

Finding all the berries requires about three trips around the bed.

Raspberry bush

Raspberry Bush

I love they way the berries tuck away under leaves. Less for
the birds and more for me!


I want to make a difference, one tree, one flower, one berry at a time! Blessed be.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raspberries and Roses

A few years ago we started a hay bale garden. We started with three hay bales, a little bagged dirt and Epsom salt. After about six weeks, we were rocking. The tomatoes never had much chance to ripen, however, given Cameron's love of fried green tomatoes.

The following year the bales began to slump. I had been laid off work, so I looked to create, meaning free, solutions. The neighbor had cleared their lot in anticipation of building a new home. I had free reign of cut wood, adding to my wood pile. Then I decided to use the large cut pieces, some up to a foot across, to line the outside of the garden. I thought that when they finally disintegrated, I'd have  more fertilizer for the garden. I spent a couple of evenings attempting to carry the stumps from the neighbor's lot, around the side of the house, and over to my garden. The project was, shall we say, a bit ambitious. The second afternoon my neighbor appeared at my elbow. I had resorted to rolling them, which was, while successful, time consuming and my lower back hurt. So Paul, my 80 something neighbor, wiry and spry, tossed each stump over his shoulder and lined them neatly around my garden. He couldn't remember his deceased wife's name, but he could work! In less than an hour he accomplished more than I had done in two days.

The following year I found raspberry plants at our local Aldi's. I had a total of four plants, but the a fire-ant nest cut the roots of one before I found them and left me with three. The package had said to cut the canes back after bearing, but I was a little shy of cutting them all the way back. I've had nice yields, I thought, a handful or two. So this year I became much more confident. It worked for the roses to be sheared way, way back. So I did the same with the raspberries. Rather than a few handfuls from my tiny garden, we've had handfuls. Enough for raspberries on ice cream a couple of times, and two raspberry cheese cakes.

I had never thought too much about how raspberries grow until today. Of course, birds usually get the first yield, a flashy red berry sings spring to them. But most berries grow carefully tucked under green leaves where I have to walk around the garden three times to find, peering between canes and looking up under the leafy, low canopy.

So  this evening I headed out to see what was left of the current raspberry crop. Every time I pick raspberries I think of my Mammaw RoseMary. Her love language was cooking, and she made the best raspberry, blackberry and rhubarb pies ever. As I picked berries, my eyes were drawn to the trailer next door. Hospice cares for Paul now. And my grandmother died of cancer 15 years ago when I was in grad school the first time. Time moves on for us all.

I miss you Mammaw.

Spiritual Separation

Take out a sauce pan...

We all have 'em. Not such much a spiritual crisis as a spiritual separation from the Divine. Those moments when the spark of the Divine seems a little cold. Not necessarily the journey into the abyss; more like an absence of enthusiasm for spiritual connection. Fatigue. Mild disillusionment. Or a life so full of necessity that we forget to step in front of the altar. A life spent answering a calling that separates from the personal connection.

Add a pinch of spice.

Yesterday a client stepped into my office for a treatment plan, and I found myself telling him the things I needed to hear ... funny how that happens. I discussed with him the stages of faith. He's Christian, so the conversation led to how belief can grow. For some, they need the rules and strictures of organized religion. Others grow disillusioned with it. Still others find it too confining as they struggle to integrate science with conservatism. He says his wife says "you just have to have enough faith" as his church teaches, but he says he can't deny the scientific proof of dinosaurs. So now he's having to allow the grey areas of questioning and have faith his God is big enough to take it. I assured him that He is.

Stirring the pot.

So now my separation seems to be slipping away.

I've known for a long time that becoming a therapist was the answer to a  calling. Just as I know the skills I've gained are preparing me for the move Cameron and I want to make to the Pacific Northwest. Moving to a place we've never been to weather the coming global financial crisis. Making a commitment to the next stage of a calling we can't even yet define. Talk about walking by faith! LOL

Putting the saucepan on the back burner. Probably will do more with it when the time is right. We'll let the thoughts simmer awhile.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Southern variety just brought to the office
So my co-worked walked through the office a few moments ago, flower in hand. I asked what she had and she thrust a gardenia under my nose. Mmmm...I want one of these plants in my dream garden.

Cameron and I have kept a private blog for about two years with our dream house ideas, thoughts about our future move, etc. Since we don't have anyway to make our dream concrete just yet, the blog has remained rather private. To protect our anonymity, some thoughts regarding the move shall continue to be private. So I'm going to add more of those dreams here. Call it manifestation.

Gardenia jasminoides

With a grow zone of 8, our future garden will need to either be very cold hardy or grown indoors.

So I've found a hardy gardenia in a Portland nursery. I read somewhere they like coffee grounds to balance acidity in the soil. In the south they prefer light shade, but in Oregon they need full sun. I'll need to plant them when I plant the trees in the spring to give the roots time to settle and spread.

Dreaming the Dream and Weaving the Path

After reading my partner Cameron's blog, I checked to see when the last time I blogged was. March 22. Hmmm...found out about the Hep B and screached to a stop. I could make noises about exhaustion, business, still working two jobs, and maintaining supervision to complete licensure requirements. And with Cameron in need of surgery, picking up extra housework as necessary. So I can justify not blogging. But honesty compels me to say I play zoo, so I can realistically make time for a blog post.

Truth is, I feel like I'm holding my breath. We are poised on radical change, and it's just not happening fast enough. We wait, each day, for that change to come. And it could have come anytime in the last 18 months or anytime in the next 18. That's the biggest challenge. We know what's coming, more or less, but not when.

As my name suggests, Dreamweaver, I am dreaming. Cameron and I want to move to a small town in the mountains of Oregon. We dream of fruit orchards, bee keeping, aquaponics, goats, chickens and rabbits. A world vastly different than a trailer park in South Carolina. Cameron dreams of transitioning. To walking into circle without a shirt on, neatly trimmed beard, embodying the Lord. I dream of that same circle with apple blossoms woven into a garland on my head. And late nights by the river with a fire, talking.

Five Doelings - 2008

To prepare for the future, I research. I come from farm stock. I picked berries at five for Mammaw Rosemary to make into a pie. I hoed, raked, and weeded. I gathered windfall apples for applesauce. So I've been researching long term storage wheat berries. Fruit trees and nut trees that are cold hardy. Pollination and self-pollination. How to pollinate citrus in my future conservatory. I've researched breeds of goats and agreed with Cameron on the Nigerian Dwarf and found the breeder.

I dream of working the land gently, with raised flower beds, aquaponic veggies, ever bearing berries and trees. I dream of walking the land, the woods, beside the river. I want to blog, to think, to take the exploratory path of the inner journey. I want to reclaim my place as the child of the Goddess, her priestess and servant.

I read a lot. I see the growing economic crisis and global crisis and want to make a difference one blossom, one prayer, one apple at a time. Ever cut an apple crossways to observe the Lady's pentagram? She is ever present. Her voice in the wind and fall of snow.

So if one particle of dust, one flap of a butterfly wing, creates change, then so can I. Even if it means I'm simply removing my own carbon footprint and providing the neighbor with extra apples. Yes, I want to simplify. And create. Looking for pictures, I found this lovely blog. I want to read more blogs. Return to my photography and jewelry making. Learn to draw. Create forms in 3-D with clay.  I want to post pictures of our goats. The peaches in bloom. My first handpicked cherries. I want to live in the joy of creation. And have time and sleep enough to treasure them. And to share it all with Cameron. This is my dream, and weaving of my path. So mote it be.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life's Journey: Mono and Hep B

Some days the path gets a bit complicated. Take out your stew pot.

So a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to the Clinical Doctor where I work that I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I whined about fatigue levels and asked if I could possibly have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as result of having Mono and Hepatitis when I was 16. The Dr kindly informed me that having mono 34 years ago would have no bearing on my current health. However, Hepatitis B in an entirely different thing.

Put that thought on the back burner.

You may recall from prior posts that my mother is schizophrenic. Part of her illness was to deny my existence whenever possibe. So trips to the dentist, to the doctor, or other health care needs went right out the window. When I was a junior in high school, just before Christmas and not long after being sexually assaulted by a 24 year-old-ex-con, I became ill. I went from getting up at 5 to go jogging in the mornings to dragging myself out of bed, to vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and jaundice. After missing two weeks of school, my mother had to take me to the doctor, at my father's instance, just so I would be allowed to go back to school.

I remember sitting in the waiting room, running for a bathroom to vomit repeatedly, the sound of the nurse at the door inviting me to lie on an examining table. I remember not being able to sit up, or stop throwing up. I remember the sound of Dr Johnson's voice as he said, "Mary Lou, had you waited another 48 hours she would be dead."

I was diagnosed with mononucleosis, Hepatitis B and a staph throat infection. What we know now, but didn't know then, is that, according to, "One of the complications of infectious mononucleosis is hepatitis. However, this mono complication does not always result from mononucleosis. While hepatitis linked to mono is generally mild, it can pose health risks and in some cases can be quite serious."

This site goes on to say: "Hepatitis occurs in up to 90% of patients with infectious mononucleosis. Mono causes inflammation of the liver in approximately 1 out of every 10 people. Mono-related hepatitis is caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus which also causes mono. However, mono-related hepatitis is generally mild and only in rare cases does serious liver damage occur. When hepatitis is severe in individuals with mono, diagnosis should investigate a cause beyond mononucleosis. In rare instances where chronic hepatitis occurs because of infectious mononucleosis, it cannot be spread to an individual's spouse or offspring." Unfortunately, I was diagnosed in 1980, before anyone knew these things.

I don't remember going to the hospital, the exams or the tests. I do remember being isolated while we waited for test results. I didn't understand then that I had to be isolated until they knew if I had Hep A or Hep B. I was so relieved when they announced I had Hep B and was not contagious. It was 1982. The things they didn't know then about hepatitis.

The part that almost killed me? I came close to rupturing my spleen: "Splenomegaly is common. The spleen is often palpable 2-3 cm below the left costal margin and may be tender. The spleen rapidly enlarges over the first week of symptoms, usually decreasing in size over the next 7-10 days. The spleen can rupture from relatively minor trauma or even spontaneously" (MedScape).

I remember being alone with neither parent present at any time during the four days I was kept in the hospital. The doctor had said that my spleen nearly ruptured and I would have died. Dad says he came to the hospital several times. Mom did not. She was late to pick me up when they dismissed me, and I remember waiting in my room anxious that she had forgotten me again. I remember the spots on my chest and the nurse saying it must have been a reaction to the penicillin, but no one did anything about it. They couldn't give me anything to stop my itching because I had been discharged.

Now we know that: "Treatment with amoxicillin or ampicillin is associated with rash in approximately 80% of patients. This is often encountered when primary Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is initially misdiagnosed as strep throat and is treated as such" (MedScape). I remember being tested for strep and finally they said I had a staph throat infection. I was treated with amoxicillin, which resulted in the rash.

When I left the hospital, I still evidenced jaundice. Took weeks to go away. I was the exception to what the then current medical wisdom indicated. Now we know that: "EBV is a rare causative agent of acute hepatitis, during the course of infectious mononucleosis. Usually, it is mild, undetected clinically and resolves spontaneously. Jaundice is distinctly uncommon; cholestatic hepatitis due to EBV infection is rarely reported" (Infectious Mononucleosis Hepatitis in Young Adults: Two Case Reports)

I spent most of the next six months in bed. I dropped out of school and slept 23 hours a day for about 6 weeks. I slept up twelve hours a day or more for months afterward. Slowly, slowly I stayed awake more. But I never felt "normal" again.

Put that thought on the back burner.

For most of my life my new normal has been 9 hours of sleep a night, and tempering my schedule with days I don't have to "push the go button" so I can survive the ones I do. I have never been able to maintain a very active social life because I gave all my energy to work or school. I gave up custody of my sons many years ago. Looking back, I must have intuitively known I could not keep up physically more than the two days a week I bartered for (of course there were other circumstances for another blog another time). Early menopause has helped because I seem to require less sleep than I used to.

Research states: "A number of recent studies have shown that people with chronic HCV infection
score poorly on many quality-of-life parameters, including a range of physical and psychological measures of wellbeing. Again, these impairments are relatively non-specific, and include reductions in
general health perception, mental health, physical function, social function and vitality. These measures
may also be impaired in many people with chronic hepatitis B. ( Yeah. That covers the dysthymia, missed concerts and movies, lack of energy, and fantasies of sleep.

I have good years, and not so good years. The good years coincided with my return to grad school. I'm having a not so good year now, and when I leave work, I have to go a rape crisis shelter to do therapy three days a week. When I get home I fall over. Every day. When the weekend comes, I don't want to go to friends', or run errands or even leave the house. I want to stop. Hence the Monday I finally asked our clinical doctor if I could have chronic fatigue syndrome. His answer, "I don't believe in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, nor does mono have long term effects. However, Hepatitis B does," shocked me.

Put that thought on the back burner.

I work at a substance abuse clinic where IV drug use was common and many, many clients have hepatitis. Every year we have trainings at work which include Hep B. But I thought Hep B was something you got once and got over. I was wrong. "Almost all newborns and about 50% of children who become infected with hepatitis B develop chronic hepatitis. Less than 5% of adults who are infected with the hepatitis B virus develop the chronic condition" ( Lovely.

It gets worse. According to the CDC: "1.25 million people living in the United States have chronic hepatitis B. Not all people who are infected with HBV look or feel sick; they can have the virus and not have symptoms or know they are sick. If you have chronic hepatitis B you are more likely to get cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. Each year, about 5,000 people die of cirrhosis or liver disease caused by HB."

Put that thought on the back burner.

The clinic doctor said to me that since we know I had Hep B, there was no sense in testing for it again at this time as testing can be expensive and he cannot prescribe treatment. However, he did want me to have a liver panel that determined if I currently have damage to my organs. The good news is that the panel came back normal or nearly so.

Put that thought on the back burner.

According to, "Most individuals with chronic hepatitis B remain symptom free for many years or decades. During this time, the patient's blood tests usually are normal or only mildly abnormal. Some patients may deteriorate and develop inflammation or symptoms, putting them at risk for developing cirrhosis." Small comfort since I have already lived with Hep B for 34 years.

Let's complicate things....

Symptoms of chronic Hep B:
Anxiety, Arthritis, Blurred Vision, Chills, Dark Urine, Decline in sex drive, Depression, Dizziness, Dry Skin, Excessive Bleeding, Excessive gas, Fatigue, Fever, Flu like symptoms, Gallstones, pain or discomfort in liver area, Hot flashes, Indigestion, Inflammation in the joints, Insomnia, Itching, Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and/or skin), Memory loss, mental confusion, Muscle aches, Nausea, Rashes/Red spots, Red palms, Sensitivity to heat or cold, Slow healing and recovery, Succeptibility to illness/flu, Water retention, Weakness. (

OK, board the TMI Bus. It's my blog and I need to talk. Don't like it, skip this part.

I don't have all these symptoms, but I do have over half. Another symptom, not on this list but found elsewhere, is spider veins. In the last month they have become noticeably worse, especially on my face and chest. It has gotten so bad that I stated wearing makeup every day after clients asked repeatedly if I was okay or did I have wind burn or something. And yesterday I had to leave work and go home and change clothes after unexpected diarrhea, something I've had periodically my whole life. It's not something that people talk about, so it never crossed my mind that it's not normal until my partner pointed it out and the doctor confirmed.

Nope, haven't done a viral load. Still have to pay Scrooge for the tests we did to verify I don't have advanced liver damage. Fortunately, Scrooge let me have the tests at the clinic's cost. And doing a viral load makes no sense to me if I'm powerless to seek treatment, at least for now.

Putting it all together...
I don't know. I really just don't know. I'm finding myself reevaluating so many things about my body.

Research states: "The major feature of the symptomatology of early or slowly progressive liver disease in chronic viral hepatitis is its highly variable nature. For many people,this stage of liver disease, which may be the only stage they experience, is completely asymptomatic.
On the other hand, many people have considerable symptoms despite the presence of mild liver disease or the absence of biochemical evidence of liver inflammation (normal alanine aminotransferase [ALT] and asparate aminotransferase [AST] levels). In fact, in chronic hepatitis C there is little correlation between the ALT level and presence of symptoms. Furthermore, the stage of liver disease (prior to liver failure) and the viral load in chronic hepatitis C have a poor association with the extent of symptoms."

My liver tests are good. My quality of life, not so much.

"In chronic hepatitis B, particularly in the case of perinatal or early childhood infection, a prolonged asymptomatic period (immune tolerance phase) is followed by a more symptomatic period (reactivationclearance phase) in which flares of clinical hepatitis may occur as the body's immune system attempts to clear infection. These flares are generally milder than an acute hepatitis B clinical presentation, however, they often consist of similar symptoms and signs. These include lethargy, nausea, anorexia, food intolerance, abdominal discomfort and jaundice." (

My first flare actually occurred after I contracted Hep B. My senior year, many symptoms returned of my previous illness. I tried to drag myself to school. I only lacked a semester of senior English from graduating. The doctor didn't know what to do with me. Dr Johnson told me that mono doesn't come back. Research in 1983 hadn't yet begun suggesting that Hep B did. I have always wondered if I was just making it up, defeated at the idea of attending classes with peers my mother failed or tortured in seventh grade math. Now I know it was a flare from the Hep B. Self-forgiveness for a GED in a blessing, even if it comes late.

Putting it all together and stirring the pot...

I don't know where I am going with this post. Or my life. I feel as if someone just handed me the Rosetta Stone and everything and nothing makes sense. By the way, "food intolerance" for this compulsive overeater means chronic diarrhea. Sucks. Today, yesterday, have been those kinds of days. So while I may have excellent liver panels, there are yet symptoms. And as the spiral of time has wrapped back to this childhood illness yet again, I find myself evaluating with new wisdom, insight, self-forgiveness. And fear. I live in a home with twenty-five cats, one dog, and one much beloved partner in desperate need of a hip replacement. I am the source of income. I can't stop. Perhaps that is a good things because I also cannot give up.

I even worry about Cameron reading the last paragraph and feeling guilt, which he does not deserve. Indeed, it is my beloved partner that keeps me going, reminds me of my life purpose and calling, bolsters my courage and fills my life with love. So tomorrow I will be able to get up and go at 3:30 in the morning yet one more day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your Little Secret

From Melissa Ethridge's Your Little Secret:

I could, I won't, I can't, I don't,
You make it hard, talk down my guard,
My senses soaked, my ego's choked,
I will not lie, I will not lie.

Of course, Melissa's talking about cheating on your partner with another person. But when I heard myself screaming those words at my partner, my heart, my lover, my best friend last night as I cried so hard I couldn't see her, I knew we had a problem. Put that on the back burner.

Get a really big stew pot. This is big and bad. Heck, there's so many things wrong with what I have just said. My partner is trans. It should read "he" and increasingly does. Cameron's living this wretchedly double life caught between who he is and what he is, facing dysmorphia every time he looks in the mirror. But we were fighting about his parents, who see him by his very feminine first name. And who see me as the best friend because, on top of everything else he's not out to his parents.

Keep stirring. I'm invited to every wedding, every funeral, every family reunion. I receive the same gifts as Cameron every Christmas and birthday except I get the uber-fem version. Yes, that's a technical term. But as Cam pointed out, there's the side of the family that I have never met. Her dad's side of the family would not welcome me. I don't receive the invitations. And when her dad passes away, I would be seated not up front beside my partner, but somewhere alone in the back.

(Side note, when my oldest son got married, he broke his four year silence to invite me to the wedding. We were seated on the bride's side of the family behind her parents. The minister didn't know who I was and was shocked to learn I was the birth mother. Indeed, there was a lovely point of the ceremony where the mothers went up together and lit candles to join the two families. It was his step-mother lighting that candle. I wanted to crawl under the pew. Some wounds never heal. We weren't included in the wedding pictures. We finally got one, by request, at the reception, in a side hall. They didn't purchase it and I don't have a copy.)

Last summer at the family reunion Cam's cousin asked how long we had been together with her father standing just out of hearing range. He was just trying to be polite and strike up a conversation with the much older dyke because he's a nice person, likes us, and wanted me to feel welcome. Had her father heard, we'd have been out of the closet. Put the stew pot on the back burner. It may require more ingredients. I don't know yet.

Grab a sauce pan. Let's thicken this mess up a little. Looks like we're having stew. In the sauce pan goes the agreement we would not address our couplehood with her parents because they are in their 80's, her dad is insanely bigoted, and she fears rocking the boat. Cam and her/his father are close. They talk every night at 8 when the dog gets walked and I'm tucked into bed listening to my favorite blogtalk radio program before falling asleep for the night. We've agreed a hundred times in a thousand different ways it doesn't matter. So why does it matter now? Keep stirring and move to a low temperature. Let it thicken awhile.

Grab another pot and let's get ready to stir.

Facebook. That lovely social media. Mom got a touchpad, which Cam's brother-in-law is setting up for her. He set up her facebook, unfriended us on his own facebook so mom can't get to our walls, and I immediately show up as a friend suggestion. Mom and I still have other people in common.

When I show up as a friend suggestion, there's the picture of Cam and me taken as a couple taken for the church directory a couple of years ago. The same picture that hangs on the wall of the brother-in-law's house when he made himself a copy from mom and dad's original. Complicated much?

Somehow I think it looks different on facebook. Especially when I say I'm "married". Especially with my feminist/politically active/GLBT posts all over the place. Especially with my right to marry statements, pictures of flowers from my partner, etc. And not only do I stand to out Cameron as my "gay" partner, but I also stand to out him as "trans". This sucks. Yeah, I know I can block mom. But what reason, authentic and true to myself, can I give? She wants facebook so she can be closer to family. And I am family. Not sure of my role, but I'm family.

So yes, I'm madly changing security settings, etc. And I threatened to change our picture today. But for me the issue is even more complicated. It's ethical. It's identity. It's about who I am. I don't want to change the picture. I moved to SC so I would not have to hide. I've already lost my oldest son to the excuse that I'm gay and he doesn't approve. He's about to have my third grandchild. Yet another grandchild to grow up without me. I paid my fricking dues to be authentic. I pay everyday when I think about Beauty and see how much she looks like me at that age. I see those pictures on Facebook because my daughter-in-law allows it. My son has me blocked.

Let's add some more ingredients to a skillet and put this on the front burner. When I outed myself ten years ago, a very wise woman said to me, "Claiming to be lesbian is not about sexuality or orientation. It is a political statement. Think about what it means to you. And live it." I did.

For me it's a political statement. I "look" very "straight" until seen out in public with my "gay accessory." If I am to challenge and participate in change then it is my job to live authentically, to hold hands in public when appropriate, to talk about my partner the same way I would a husband, to honor our relationship. At work Cam's paintings hang on my wall and talk very openly about him as an artist. I must have two conversations a week with different people about being gay, trans, other.

Of course, if Cam's straight and male, we aren't a gay couple at all. Let that twist my identity awhile...and Goddess know what his parents would say to that. It is neat solution to being gay, isn't it? And that also seems to fall short of the truth.

And if we are going to be political, let me rant a moment. My partner can barely walk, needs surgery, and is in school so he can pull his financial weight in this relationship. But for the last eight years it's been me to hold a steady job and have money for food, gas, and trailer payment. I used to be able to claim him as a dependent. Until the IRS changed the tax law this year and I can't claim anyone older than me unless they draw disability. So I got $2000 less back on my refund this year. Two cannot live as cheaply as one. That was the money that was supposed to repair the sagging, soft floor in the bathroom. Maybe put cheap flooring in the kitchen. We've lived on subfloors for the last five years. They are not meant to be swept and mopped, but what cha' gonna do? Of course, I live in a state that will NEVER allow gay marriage.

Stir in the fact that when Cameron got the first hip replacement it was with my insurance, my sleeping at the hospital and my care. "Loophole in the policy" my ass. Anyone with two brain cells knows the only "loophole" for insurance is partner's benefits. Which I lost when the company laid us off and closed the doors.

I reread this mess and I'm not even sure what the point is. I'm angry, I'm hurt, I'm frustrated. I don't want to be the cause of Cam loosing his parents. I don't want him to choose. I don't think a choice should be necessary. My partner is agony, and I'm truthfully not a lot of help. But this bitter recipe aside, I love him. He is my heart. And I will be here no matter what. Nevertheless, I just want to grab all those pots and throw it out. It is bitter recipe and has no good answer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Summerlands Receives Lord Athanor

John Monogue in Green Man mask Several years ago when I began this blog, I told the story of finding my way to the Grove of the Unicorns in Atlanta, GA. While the motherhouse did not have space for me, I was taken in by a hived of coven, Grove of the Winged Scarabs.

We often celebrated rituals with the Grove of the Unicorn and other hived covens. In those days, Lady Galadriel was Queen witch with her husband Lord Athanor. When my world and my coven fell apart, they offered me space with the motherhouse. Too much water had passed and I was moving north and following my heart to Cameron. But their kindness touched my life profoundly. Their wisdom has shaped my life in ways I cannot even express.

In those days, I was known as Weaver and my Sister of the Heart (here called Fiber Geek) was Spinner. A few moments ago, Fiber Geek sent me word that Lord Athanor has crossed into the Summerlands to join the love of his wife, who crossed several years ago.

Lord A loved to brew mead. Check out his page and let's have a brew on his behalf.

His power of personality, joy of mead and wisdom shall be missed by many. Blessed be, Lord A. Thank you for touching my life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ga-Filk 2012

Fourteen years ago I met Cameron at the first Georgia filk convention known as GaFilk. We gather the first weekend following the holidays for a relax-a-con to enjoy good company and good music. Filk, a misnomer in a program some fifty years ago, has become its own genre focusing on, but not limited to, parody, science fiction and fantasy.

Fiber Geek and Cat
We always open with champagne and signing. Party favors wait on every chair. Some even dress up!

This was the first time I could take off work both the Friday before and the Sunday after the filking weekend in order to not rush home, which created the opportunity to participate in the dead dog party. This year a number of professional bands hung around, allowing the synergy to become absolutely remarkable.
Elise Matthesen
Elise Mattheson was a delight. She not only is an amazing author, blogger, and poet, she also creates amazing jewelry. She gifted me with an original creation on the spot. I reciprocated with a pendant I had brought along and am interested in seeing what sort of creative inspiration it inspires.

Dragons are not unknown, either, as old friends come together...

New friends are made.
Auctioneer and performer,
Bill Sutton 

As a way to raise money for interfilk, which is how we bring performers from all over the world to filk, we have an auction which gets...interesting.

Filk Wench
Pictured is one of the "wenches" who was wearing a flashing mohawk and matching flashing gloves...which got real interesting which she "hypnotized" herself into bidding against herself! LOL

Anythings goes during the auction, including bribery, back rubs and impossible promises! It's all in good fun!

Cat Faber, formerly of Echo's Children

Brenda Sutton of Three Wyrde Sisters
Pug and Shaya from Switzerland
Cat's elephants in attendance.
When I realized that Cat's elephants and joined us for the ecumenical filk Sunday morning, I of course and to bring mine as well. My elephants travel almost everywhere with us.
Elephants Gabe and Bronte.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Well, that was fun!

Phone rings. I'm making food for our trip this weekend as the budget means eating in our room at the hotel. So against my better judgement, I answer, expecting Cameron to have called me back.

Debt Collector: "May I speak to [uber feminine name]?"

I'm sorry, she's not home right now.

Debt Collector: "Well, may I speak to her husband."

Loud snort from me, follow with, "You are talking to a gay couple. You should read the notes. You don't get paid this way!" Click.

That was he pays more attention next time. I used to be a debt collector. He didn't read the comment line giving the partner, a woman, permission to speak to the person on the other end of the phone wanting money. Snort. Another  target down. My work here is done.


"[E]mptiness can never be eliminated, although the experience of it can be transformed." 

Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Mary Epstein, M.D.

One of the core beliefs of Buddhism is the the belief that, to understand one's true nature, one must become empty. But from the Western perspective emptiness takes on a very different meaning. We equate emptiness, rather than space for renewal, refilling, or being, as a space that is damaged, distressed, pathological. We perceive emptiness as not real, not fulfilled, not enough. Inadequate.

Put that thought on the back burner.

So what happens if we stop trying to fill our emptiness. Rather than seeking, every moment of every day, we stop the television, the distraction, the drive for fulfillment? What if, for a moment, a breath, this instant, we stop pathologizing emptiness?

Put that thought on the other back burner.

I'm a therapist. Well, an intern, but I do therapy. By nature, substance abuse counseling brings a lot of Borderline Personality Disorders to my office. My clients have made a career of avoiding emptiness. Many have taken pills so that can be "high" or in a place of not feeling, of avoiding emptiness, of ignoring it. Of numbing it out. They fear it.

Epstein responds this way: "Emptiness appears first as the dark side of our attempts to create a separate and self-sufficient self. Any therapy that tries to explain it away, or cure it with a corrective emotional experience, is destined to produce frustration and disappointment. Only when we stop fighting with our personal emptiness can we begin to appreciate the transformation that is possible" (16).


Let's put a personal pot on.

"When we grasp the emptiness of our false selves, we are touching a little bit of truth. If we can relax into that truth, we can discover ourselves in a new way" (20).

My life is about to change. Radically. Don't exactly know when, but I do know how. When change comes, it will change everything. Where I work, where I live, how I spend my days. I'll still be a therapist, but I'll be in a different environment. I'll also be preparing the home Cameron and I dream of, 3,000 miles away, while he most likely works on his internship here. While we will spend every moment we can together, there will be a great deal of opportunity for alone time as well.

Let combine and stir the pot.

I've not had a lot of alone time in the last ten years or so. My time has been filled with school, work, financial stress. Now I want to look ahead, to that alone time, and approach it with reverence, awareness, and respect. I want to step into that emptiness and let it become my next place of healing.

One last quote from today's reading, because I identify with it: "As the Buddhist traditions always insist, if we look outside of ourselves for relief from our own predicament, we are sure to come up short. Only by learning how to touch the ground of our own emptiness can we feel whole again" (27).