Monday, January 29, 2007

It's Been A While

Orchid In My Indoor Garden, © Joan Z. Rough, 2007

It's been a while since I've had time to post anything here on my blog. The days are too short and go too quickly for me to fit everything in that I'd like to ... and there are also things I must do.

With my mom's health crisis over the holidays and after five years of being her caregiver I'm suddenly realizing how tired I am and how my own life has been at a standstill. So now I'm relearning how to take care of myself. I've started with meditating, spending glorious days outdoors, reading, napping, and getting back into my long left behind art work.

I'm also trying to find time to do some traveling. My husband and I spent 5 wonderful days with our daughter and grandchildren just a few weeks ago. We hiked in a forest of hemlocks and rhododendrons, visited the kid's schools and went with them to their riding lessons. We also slept late every morning, took naps and simply enjoyed every moment. This week I am going off to Chicago to see friends and do some spiritual work. Later in February I'll go to Yellowstone to see what winter is like in the Rockies and to visit with the wolves.

For now the blogging may take a backseat along with alot of other things while I bring some balance back into my life. I'll continue to write and hopefully will continue to contribute when I can to One Deep Breath and Poetry Thursday. I do not want to leave this blog behind. It has been a wonderful outlet for my writing and I've met some wonderful "blogger friends" in the process. So please bear with me as I resettle myself and become my own person again.

My mother is doing well. Though she still cannot bear weight on her shoulder or leg, she is getting herself out of bed into her wheelchair and can bathe and dress herself. Sometime in the next few weeks she may have to move to another facility because she is doing so well, even if she can't walk! What I am learning about health care in this country would make your hair curl and maybe one of these days when I have some perspective on the whole thing I'll go into it. But right now, I'm still living through it and am kind of angry, to say the least.

I will be back, so don't go too far away!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Hellebores blooming in my garden right now, January 12, 2007

This morning, feeling a bit rebelious, I decided not to go and do my daily workout. After a while I started beating up on myself for not going ... you know, the usual ... how do you expect to lose weight and stay healthy if you don't go to exercise??

I was just about ready to throw on my gym clothes when out on the dock appeared two river otters. They snuggled and played, then swam across the river like dolphins ... diving then coming up for air ... they climbed the bluff on the other side of river, scampered back down to the water to be joined by Big Blue, our resident heron, who hasn't taken his or her usual winter vacation this year. The last I saw of the otters, they were dipping their way upstream. Big Blue was wading through the shallows looking for breakfast.

It was a great reminder that sometimes when you're feeling a bit off, it's okay to let the usual routine go, and be kind to yourself. By being "naughty" and not going to my workout today, I was rewarded with a reconnection with the natural world right under my nose. I haven't had the time for that in while now and what good medicine that is. Even better than cross-trainers and weights. Those will have to wait for another day.

Since my mother's health crisis over the holidays, I've been feeling exhausted and totally out of control. The transition from having her at home, to now having her in a rehab/nursing home was at first very difficult. Now I'm feeling very different ... happy ... free ... ready to reinvent myself. There is little, except for visiting her, that I can do for my mom right now. So tomorrow morning my husband and I are going to go visit our grandkids in North Carolina for a bit. We haven't seen them since October so it is time to bring some "kid magic" into our lives once again and start looking at the world anew. We'll get to see Zoe's new school, watch both little ones take riding lessons, tickle and giggle, read stories, hike around the lake and just be.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Super Woman's Circus Dream ... for Poetry Thursday

Elephant Dream, © Joan Z. Rough, 1991

Here is my contribution to this weeks Poetry Thursday:

Super Woman’s Circus Dream

For the Bally Broad in every woman

She fills the spotlight
Ostrich feathers fishnet stockings
Blue satin skin bursting with flesh
Her glass encrusted crown
Spins rainbows in the dark

Every night
She straddles an elephant
Rocks back and forth on seas
Of exploding cheers
Shimmies up a moon beam
And balanced on a thread of gold
Juggles flaming swords

Note: According to Joe McKennon, author of Horse Dung Trail: Saga of American Circus, a Bally Broad denotes a woman or girl who sang and danced in the circus and may also have performed in aerial acts, ridden horses, posed on the backs of elephants and “generally made herself useful.” The name probably came from the use of genuine ballet dancers in some circuses from 1880 to 1910.

Both the photo and poem are part of my series, Arena of Dreams, an exhibition I put together after helping my husband and his partner, La Vahn Hoh, photograph circuses for their book, Step Right Up! The Adventure of Circus in America, now out of print.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Subtle Change ... for One Deep Breath

Budding Daffodils in my garden, January 8, 2007

Here are my haiku for today's One Deep Breath. The first one goes with the photo, the second speaks about my current state of being!!

slow swell of buds
tucked between leaves
sing yellow daffodils


flutter of lashes
deepening breath
sleep overtakes me


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Sunrise on the Rivanna, © Joan Z. Rough, 2007

This is what the river looked like yesterday morning as I opened the drapes around 6:30 A.M. We had slept all night with windows wide open as the temperatures remained in the upper 50's all night. At 9:30 A.M. the temperature on our screened in porch, in the shade, was 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The month is January. This is more like May weather. There are daffodils blooming down at the UVA boat house and some are getting ready to burst forth here in my yard.

Things are beginning to settle down here after our very traumatic holidays. My mother is settling into the nursing home. Being the closest one to her at this time, I became the target of her anger over her recent loss of mobility ... which is very natural. I took a few days off from seeing her, but now we're right back at loving each other again. Praise Be!!

I feel as though I'm riding the biggest roller coaster in the world, right now, trying to keep myself from jumping out of the car before the ride comes to an end. During my high school days I lived on Long Island. My friends and I would always go to Coney Island the last weekend in August, to celebrate the end of another wonderful summer. I always rode the roller coasters ... little nothings compared to the super coasters of today ... and I loved the parachute jump the best. It was all chills and thrills. But this ride is different. There are chills and it's been VERY bumpy, but there are no thrills.

My mom has lost about 10 pounds in the last few weeks and I continue to think it's the food at the home, which she doesn't eat much of because it's pretty bad. Today we brought her Starbuck's coffee ice cream, her most favorite food in the world and she ate it with gusto. I continue to pray it's only the bad food that is causing her to lose weight.

Hospice is involved with her care now and those real live angels check in with her daily to see what she needs and to monitor her pain meds. Many people believe that Hospice is only to be called at the very end of a family member's life, but it is a program about living and being comfortable each and every day ... sometimes for years. There is support for the entire family and they become an additional pair of eyes and ears keeping watch over her. I was told that when Hospice is involved in the care of nursing home patients, the quality of their care goes up. I see this happening already. That alone makes my days easier and I'm able to be there for her without making myself a basket case ... though it's still not an easy time.

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes. They will keep us going through the coming months.