Not All Viruses are the Bad Guys

Multi-colored Tulip Image Courtesy Pexels

We hear so many horror stories about viruses today, and every one of them are viewed as something terrible to take every precaution against. This is not to say that such things do not exist, but virus have been known to create genetic mutations in nature that have accounted for some pretty incredible things out in nature.

Tje tulip is one of those. Originally when tulips were first introduced, there were only solid colors and simple shapes we all recognize as everyday (not saying they are not beautiful too). But a virus caused them to mutate into these mixed types and then one of the most striking of all tulips came along – the Parrot Tulip. Below is an example of just one of the many forms.

Stunning springtime Flaming Parrot Tulip flowers against a white background.

In the day when these unique and beautiful tulips first were introduced, collectors sought them out and paid exhorbitant prices for just one of the bulbs. One bulb could bring a cost of four cows, or six pigs, or I think it was ten lbs. of butter, which was in high demand. Once the collectors got the bulbs, they would work with them in such interesting ways (you must read about it; it is fascinating). And so today we have thousands of types of tulips out there, thanks to the virus(es) what changed their DNA. Also, if you like to watch PBS, I watch things like NOVA all the time, and so perhaps I saw this on TV. However, you might find it on the Internet or in the literature of a plant nursery specializing in tulips.

I thought you all might be interested to know a tiny bit of my background to know why I would be looking for information about viruses to share with you. For a number of years in my younger life, I was a Regulatory Compliance Specialist (that is a fancy term for a specialized quality assurance auditor whose task it is to meet all the requirements of the FDA and other organizations that can get involved. Now this company happened to make plasma derivative products, which are used for things like AIDS, which is an acquired virus, or the thousands of other types of viruses that are auto-immune viruses, some rare that there are not enough cases to do proper research on them. Some of these viruses that still exist today are said to date back to Biblical times and to the twelve tribes. Many come from Eastern Europe.

Now in the medical world, things are classified according to their danger in their administration. At the top of the list of course are things like any heart implants, and that is pretty obvious. Plasma Derivatives are right up there at the top too because anything that goes straight into your bloodstream obviously will likely kill you faster than say a pill, but of course, as with everything, there are exceptions to every rule.

Well, when I was 64, I was among 400 of the employees who got laid off because the company was being sold to a firm in Spain, but something happened to which I am no longer privy, and so the company went out of business altogether. And so began another and most satisfying period of my life, becoming a substitute paraeducator (generally a one-on-one), a substitute aide, and a substitute teacher for special needs children (often with several issues all at the same time. I loved every moment of that, and though I could have been permanent (and was asked over the years on more than one occasion, I said no. I never wanted to do what most teachers do regularly, but to be able to work more directly with the children.

As a final note, I am recommending a book I am starting to read from my last visit to the thrift store: Robert Gallo, M.D., Virus Hunting Aids, Cancer, & the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery. Once an M.D., and one of the most-cited authors of scientific literature in the world during the 1880’s, he served as Chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, and a two-time winner of the Albert Lasker prize, the highest honor in biomedical research.

I think a very healthy thing to do in these confusing and stressful times besides the obvious, is to use this time to educate yourself. You can get such books from places like Amazon, and I am sure you know others as well. It may well be available in E-book format. I wish you one and all the best of days, and ways to find something of beauty and joy every single day.

Empowerment

Courtesy of Quotefancy

I was thinking this past week that I have always felt powerless in the presence of people who seem to have more power than I do. I know, this may sound silly, but when you grow up with people who have absolute control of your everyday life and not in healthy ways, it is easy to lose a sense of your own power.

In my case, Richard and I live in a senior mobile home park owned and run by the most evil people I have known for a long time, though I must admit they are not the first ones. In fact, every senior mobile home park I have lived in has been a senior’s worst nightmares. And yet, for many seniors it represents a place that may be affordable on a limited income, as well as having neighbors in your social and economic position. It may represent safety and well-being where there are people close all around you who will surely know if you are in danger or you are perhaps ill. And there is usually a “clubhouse,” where there are monthly activities – perhaps coffee and donuts on the day you pay your space rent, and potlucks at different times of the month. And with things such as we are going through now throughout the world, it can represent a kind of sanity when all else is failing us.

So how could anything like this not be a senior’s dream? But let’s take a good look at what happens with a great many parks, for sure the ones in my own town of Yucaipa, CA (in San Bernardino County within the Inland Empire of Southern California). Looking at the history of the parks here (and this is true in many places in the U.S.), one of the things we have here are people who come into the area, knowing very little if anything about the needs of seniors. It is a cheap investment by the standards of those who buy the parks. They skirt any rent control that might exist in an area, coming in intending to raise the rent “for improvements they are making or going to make.” The reality is that the City itself has very little control (and does not want the involvement with having to be saddled with making sure things are working right). They have other more important needs. The park owners are bringing money into their communities, and they don’t want to stop that development. They spend their energy creating more sophisticated and luxurious communities that bring more money into the community and they cannot be really blamed for that. All communities want to keep improving their communities; it is all about good business.

The first issue that mobile home residents have no say-so in is the hiring of park managers. There is no background check required, no real experience necessary (they are trained for a very short time).

Basically there are no requirements by the HCD (Housing and Community Development) which is part of the state government, supposedly charged with protecting the rights of mobile home residents including making sure that that those who purchase their homes and pay them off get their titles when that process is done. The reality is that this HCD has never been given proper legal authorization to make sure things go smoothly for the residents, and as a results, landlords such as the ones I have will wait until the home owners die while they still are trying to get their titles. And most seniors don’t know fully their rights or the way things work.

Most seniors are unwilling to do what they need to because of fear that the owners will take revenge on them or they are too ill or perhaps disabled to try to do anything. My home was sold to three other seniors before me, and all of them died without ever getting their titles. Of course I could not have known this when I purchased it, and the landlord did not tell me. Yet he had worked for this park for some 20+ years, so he fully was aware of the nature of the owners. But like many park managers or landlords, he does what they want him to do; it doesn’t matter if it is illegal or unethical. He wants to keep his cozy regular home in the park and get paid for doing nothing except collecting the rent each month and telling the people who are renting to clean up their own properties (which the park is supposed to do unless you own your place).

There are so many other areas of elder abuse I have seen and experienced with my own eyes in these parks, and I am one of them also now since I too have been unable to get my title for my home despite my many attempts to get it from the owners, and also having gone through every local level – the HCD, the City of Yucaipa, Legal Aid, Elder Abuse, Code Enforcement, and many others, all to no avail for some 1-1/2 years (or close to that). Two of my neighbors also have similar problems: one who has not had his for nine years, and the other one who is being expected to pay back taxes on the land to get his title when it has not been in his name at all. And that is the HCD saying he has to do that.

I became extremely depressed these last months. I want to get my significant other, Richard and myself out of this park and into a small home in Arizona with its own land. California is not a good place to live anymore. Frustration with feeling once again that I had absolutely no power was a truly a biggie for me.

Then one day when I was looking at many of the criminal justice publications I receive on the Internet, I came across a National Elder Fraud Number. Without waiting a second, I dialed the number, and for once, I began to get answers at a higher level of State and Federal places that can help. Also, the people who run this organization are mandated reporters, and this time the reports are not going under the shelves. I have been given the numbers of a lot of agencies at a much higher level from which I will be able to help. Also, the people at the National Elder Fraud are coming from another part of California to visit me and to make sure that everything is followed up.

For once, I felt empowered with my newly found knowledge. We can never have too much of that regardless of our training or our needs. And we should never give up just because someone says so. I trusted that landlord, and I gave him $4,000 up front down and paid the other $4,000 over the years $100 a month along with my monthly space rent and utilities. I never missed a payment, and I had to pay the insurance too for the home, not realizing I would not get much at all without that title. That might not be much for a lot of people, but for me, it was my last savings I had since I had to stop working because of the cancer and the PTSD.

Right now our country is in probably the worst situation we have had since WWII politically, health-wise, and education-wise. People are panicking and acting totally irrational and it is because they don’t know what to believe. They think they have no power to do anything about it. This is NEVER true. There is always a higher resource, and in this case, it might take us awhile to find it, but I think we can all empower ourselves by at least trying to find something else that can help this situation.

I know that I have read several articles by Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent, as well as Stuart France, founders of The Silent Eye Mystery School, and I have learned a lot of things I could not otherwise find on the Internet such as the very nature of viruses like that of the Corona Virus and bacteria since the beginning of time, and many really good articles related to the values we hold in this life.

I also want to acknowledge Patty Fletcher and Claire Plaisted for keeping things going for all of us bloggers and authors during this challenging time. Thank you one and all by giving us higher resources we can learn from and take back the care and maintenance of our own lives. Just as that money for my home is the last thing I own that can help me and my hubster move forward, so are your bodies, minds and souls the most critical things you have in this life. Take good care of them and treasure each and every moment with your loved ones that you can enjoy now.

I still think of my friend Sue Vincent and her amazing son, who was wounded severely enough to kill someone, but he has recovered slowly over the years, and there they were out planting flowers by their little pond, and Nick, her son, insisted on carrying some mulch for the garden for him mum. Take back your power; it is waiting for you.

The Birthing

In honor of my daughter Deborah’s birthday, Feb. 13, 1960
I waited with the world
for you to be born.
Each of us waited,
Some counting the minutes
Some aware but working
to do the many things
that keep the wheels of the world
turning.
And some slept
Knowing you would
come without their encouragement.

I waited alone
working at tasks gentle and quiet
vaguely aware of the minutes
speeding by.
The rain fell
as if the world were crying
and then softly
with just a few fireworks
you were born.
And despite such
a small, quiet entrance
You filled me with
a sense of promise;
A sort of inner rebirthing.

I have witnessed your birth
some 78 years.
I have seen you born
sometimes with tears,
sometimes with a sense of joy.
But always
there is the smallest
sense of change
and of something
that is already ancient.

Days Like This

Looking at my posts, I realize that I have been neglecting to post to my own blog or to others. Then I look at what is going on in my life. My tiniest dog, a rescue who had a really horrible life before I found and brought him home. He had to have a major surgery to remove 12 of his teeth and 4 fistulas (holes in the mouth from teeth he has already had). Even there, he is not done, for he is a senior fellow, and he needs more oral surgery but our financial well is running dry. He also has kidney failure, likely from the teeth that were bad before we found and rescued him. I know he belonged to a drug person before, and there is no way that person is ever getting him back. So Mama (as I consider myself to my five chihuas and one cat and two goldfish) is cooking healthy food for the kiddos.

Then there is the man of my life, Richard, my significant other, who has had two cervical surgeries, and both have more or less failed, so the doctor was talking more surgeries, but I am taking him someplace else for another opinion of what can be done to help him. We will likely go to the VA since he is a vet, and he does have an attorney for a VA disability as well as being caused by his work since getting out. Anyway, I can only do so much to help each of my beloved ones.

I had a sore spot on the other previously non-cancerous breast, so I got a ultrasound, and now my doc is calling me as I think they want me to have a biopsy and it does show something irregular.

Now we are getting (or trying to get) a home on our own land – nothing expensive or fancy, but just comfortable, in Arizona. So looking at all the homes and telling the hubster all about them and getting hopes up for us both. And then I am starting to pack up things we don’t need, and I am redoing my file cabinet and also some nice chairs that I got for free that need work.

But at the end of each day, I stop and thank the Gods and spirits all for all the inspiration I encounter every single day in posts and the friendships I have built over the years. And especially to tell everyone I love how much they are loved. I don’t think the animals understand my words, but they definitely understand the things I do for them and the tones I use to talk to them. I never go to sleep no matter how tired I am until I tell everyone (pets and hubster) how much they are loved and give them all kisses. Life moves back too fast sometimes, and it is good to slow down and remember all the wonderful things we have learned in this life, the people we have loved, and to be sure to tell them all while we still can. I think of all the people who did hurt me, some very seriously physically and mentally, but I would not have the heart for others if I could not thank them at least in my soul for making me the person I am today. I have long believed we cannot really know compassion for others unless we have been through some life challenges, each one of us.

Today I went out in my side yard and I was so surprised and happy to see the whole yard full of beautiful wild violets blooming happily from the rain we have had. These are going with me along with the wild mint in my yard when we get moved. As I am looking around at this tiny and m0dest mobile home, I remember all the things I have put into it to make it a genuine home.

I have lived a very full life, and I want each and every one of you how much you have contributed to my life. I truly feel wealthy in a way that no gold or silver can ever buy. Consider that you each have received genuine thanks and love from me always. Thank you my friends.

A Love Story . . .

Rescued Christmas Trees – Courtesy of Anne

LOVE! I love everything about it and then some. I am a very emotional person and I cry at tear-jerker movies, or basically anything that has the least possibility of an emotional response. So when I went to Lowe’s Hardware in Redlands, CA, and saw two forlorn Christmas trees lying in the parking lot alone, I went straight to the plant section and asked the manager about the two Christmas trees lying there. He told me they were left over from the sale and would soon become mulch. Under normal circumstances, I would appreciate knowing that a tree was going to help give life to another potential plant, but this was just too much. “How much would it cost to buy them?” I asked. “Nothing,” he replied. I told him I would take them, and went right out and began tugging and pulling the one tree and managed to get it to my 22-year old Honda Civic Hatchback, but the other one was not going to be so easy; it was just too heavy. I went back to the manager and asked if he could help me get the other one, and soon as he was able, he came out with a helper and got it next to the other one in the back of the little car.

After thanking him profusely, I drove home as quick as I could and set up two buckets that I filled partly with water. In went the first one, and it quickly looked better. These two trees would get to serve the purpose for which they gave their lives, or so I believed. But the second tree, thirsty as it was to get into that water, could not help me to get it out of the car.

There was only one person who might help me, and I instinctively headed toward Richard’s mobile home. He had been the maintenance man for many years. He was a good person and he had done a lot of wonderful work for me on my home, never giving me a quote for his work. He painted it so nicely, and then using recycled materials, took the way-too-small front stoop, and changed it into a wonderful front porch with a nice side set of steps instead of having them heading into the street. He made me a wonderful bench that he painted a sunshiny yellow out of the part of the stairs he cut off to make them fit properly on the side. Of course I had paid him and had taken him out to a good hot dinner to go with, but I felt more than appreciative. This was a genuine good man.

I knocked on his door, and though it was cold outside, he came right over with me, and without making fun of me or giving me excuses, he got right to the job and I helped him drag the tree to the water, where it practically jumped in happily. Once the trees were settled, we headed off to get some money and a hot meal for him, and once again we enjoyed just sitting together quietly eating our meal at the counter. He was so modest, sitting there in his torn jeans with the bottoms ragged, an old t-shirt, and some well-used shoes. He thanked me very much and I could see his eyes light up when I told him I would like to mend his jeans for him. This would be the beginning of a love that has lasted and will continue through the day when one of us dies. And on that day, I will celebrate life for such a wonderful gift.

Richard had a pretty tough life,with he and his brothers and sisters going into a foster home after his stepmother died. I think his father died shortly afterward. Between age seven through eleven, he was in nine different foster homes; somehow he and an older sister managed to keep what was left of their family together. Their last foster parent was a mother who already had some older daughters;and she took care of them all without a husband. She got cancer while they were with her, and she used to have the boys go out and gather Creosote, which she boiled and drank, and made the boys drink some too, believing it would prevent cancer. She would die later despite her attempts to heal herself. Before that happened, Richard left for the Army when he was 17, and got in shortly after as he reached 18. It was near the end of the Vietnam War, and though he did not serve there, he spent time in a number of countries, including Granada during the Cold War, and he also spent a total of nine years between the Army, and supporting services of Army Reserves and National Guard.

Later, he worked in construction, and he eventually got together with a divorced woman who already had several older children. One day when their little boy was just a toddler, she left with her own children, leaving the toddler behind with a stranger. When Richard got home from work, he looked until he found his little boy. Most men might have left the child to welfare or to a foster home, but Richard took his little boy and raised him alone for a long time, taking him to his work with him; luckily he worked at the time in an indoor swapmeet, so he was able to do that.

Eventually Richard found another lady with children; she was in a wheelchair from multiple physical challenges. He and she were married for 20 years before she passed on. Richard took excellent care of her and her children along with his son, and they even started a ministry for juvenile delinquents that they ran for years with only the money they could put into it.

After she passed on, eventually he connected with an old friend of hers that she had willed Richard to, along with her grown children. She too had developed severe physical challenges including seizures, and was in a wheelchair; after eight more years, she passed on, leaving Richard alone once more. His son is now an adult with a young daughter, and a failed relationship. He moved to Texas and is working steadily as a mechanic. Like his dad, he too is taking good care of his daughter.

I have been through a lot of failed relationships in my life. Some people are never meant to be together for one reason or the other, and they aren’t always the reasons we tend to think.

All I know is that when Richard and I met, all the things that bring people together in a lasting relationship have been there from the beginning. We are able to be who we are with each other and we actually LOVE spending our time together. We were both seniors when we met, and we are both simple people who care about little things in life. We never have to be anyone but who we actually are. We sit happily together at our desks as we work through our days. I am generally writing books, articles, or taking care of other business, while he shares the news of the world and our local weather, or plays Mahjong or other relaxing things. We throw each other kisses, or laugh over funny things our pets do. I will always remember in my heart those little Christmas trees, and how it was when they got loving care. They lasted a lot longer outside than we could have imagined, and the little bare fruit trees next to them honestly leaned inward as if to support them and keep them standing up. I put a few ornaments on them; at least they got to live their lives for what was intended. We have not had more Christmas trees since, but those I think neither of us will ever forget that.

I graduated from my second degree (this one Criminal Justice) in 2016, the same year I got breast cancer and had surgery to take care of it. Richard was there with me as we had been in a relationship for more than a year. He was with me through all the decisions I had to make and the changes I went through. I did my research carefully, and I am still cancer free with no radiation or chemo. I will likely not use my degree except as a volunteer, I am already trained and have graduated from CASA.org (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for foster children. I do not have an assignment currently.

In 2017, the tables turned and Richard had to have a critical surgery on his cervix, followed by two more involving his trachea and his nose to help him breathe. I have been there ever since as his caregiver and his advocate through all the decisions we have had to make. He had another surgery this year in May following the failure of the first surgery; it looks as though he could have another failure causing something called Radiculopathy (damage to a nerve in the neck). But here we are together and we love each other more than ever.

Anne and Richard Last Year

Cycle of Life II

Milkweed plants one week after being devoured by Monarch Caterpillars

I could not believe my eyes when a week after the Monarch Caterpillars totally ate every single leave of the two plants that have also propagated themselves in several other places in the yard, and within one week, they have all come back, bigger and fatter leaves than before.

Sometimes we just need to believe that this old world will continue as it has been doing for thousands of years. Yes, I am not so naive as to believe that we do not have things like climate and environmental changes that are affecting the world. I am sure that some of the things have been happening since the beginning. I believe most sincerely that many changes in cultures have taken place because of the inability of human beings to adjust to the changes successfully. Some of the changes I am not certain humans could have adapted to very successfully such as the ice ages that took place, or perhaps the plagues. But at the same time, mankind DID in fact exist before AND after those things, so perhaps it was an accident that they survived, and perhaps they adapted more than we think they did.

Today a lot of psychology is used to convince us of this potential thing or the other thing, much as the whole world was set to collapse with the coming of the year 2000, is about to happen to us and there are more books and talks, etc. by all kinds of people telling us what we need to do to survive. And of course it IS fully possible that this thing or that thing could cause total destruction of our world at any given time, but the truth is if that happens, I don’t think we need to worry about it anymore.

If, like the cycle of life that I witnessed in my Milkweed plants, this old world goes on, why not just continue to do what makes sense and stop worrying about destruction or the rest of the “what if’s”. When and if they happen, we will deal with them as we need to then, and we will hopefully learn from our mistakes. There is really no guarantee either way.

Enjoy the moment. Appreciate the air we breathe. Look for the beauty all around us. Find miracles in the everyday events. Remember not to always worry about tomorrow because the reality is that when tomorrow comes, it will also be today. Tomorrow is just a way to avoid being fully alive today. Trust, because trust really is something that can benefit us all. I am glad I trusted those caterpillars eating the Milkweed plants and gave the world a chance to do what it does best. Someday I know those Monarch butterflies will show up, and when they do I will be glad that I gave the world and myself this gift.

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Anne’s Journal Quilt made when Mother Died

It is easy to fill our lives with our “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. I suspect that most of us do this at some time or other in our lifetimes.

I was born in an era when women were still struggling to be women who had a lot of choices in life. When I was starting high school, my mother took me to register for my classes. There was a choice to choose a college route or the regular route. I wanted to go to college and become a nurse, likely a military nurse since I had grown up in a military family that went way back. My mother said no. She said I needed to become a secretary and find a man and get married. Really! It is hard to imagine, but that is what she believed. She had gotten married and I don’t think my mother or father finished high school. She had some problem with her mastoids when she was about my age, and in those days, was in the hospital for awhile and had surgery for it. So she and my father got married when she got well.

My father had come home from school one day when he was I think 16 or 17, and his family had moved away and abandoned him. He had other brothers and a sister who had killed herself. I really don’t know the whole story, but he lied about his age, because it was during the Great Depression, and he joined the military. He got his room and board, but in order to be able to join, he had to give all his money to a poor family who never ever thanked him.

That is most of what I know about my mother and father. So I did all the things I was supposed to and hated every minute of it. Secretaries in those days took shorthand, typed letters and used carbon to make copies and a machine I can’t remember the name of to make copies. They fetched coffee for their bosses every day and for meetings they fetched it for all the men at the meetings. And once in awhile, men treated women disrespectfully, touching them in ways that were inappropriate, and getting away with it because it was the times.

Then suddenly women’s lib came along, and so did wearing pant suits, and women were threatened with being fired if they wore those in the office. Gee, no more legs to look at or exposed body parts to be touched. But women persevered. I divorced an abusive husband, but I suppose in reality he was no more abusive than most men who believed their women should stay at home and have dinner ready for them when they walked in the door, raise their children and do their washing and ironing, and stay in the home except to take the children to the playground. Money was given to the wife to get the groceries, and sometimes the woman might get money to buy a donut or small toy for the children but there was no money for anything that might have taken care of things she might like to have.

I DID get to go to a University finally. And I DID get a degree in Archaeology. And I did work at interesting related work in Mexico and Arizona until I became ill with Valley Fever and Paratyphoid, and then I decided to do other less physically dangerous work. But I had a lot of fun along the way. One day somewhere along the way I grew up and became a bonafide human being who could buy things for herself, and who could dream of things she wanted to do and to become, and she could actually do them. She could say no to men who did anything inappropriate, and she could be her own person in general. I got married again a couple of times over the years and had some really interesting and accomplished men – an archaeologist and an anthropologist. And I learned more of the world and who I was as a human being. No more Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. I grew into a woman who had exciting careers and who had her own businesses. And step by step, little by little, I became a fully evolved human being.

It has not been easy along the way, but that is what gives us strength in the end result. I am now 77, and I have a man in my life – my significant other, Richard – and he is none of those men I married before. He is a human being – a simple man with simple tastes and a really big heart. He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does, what he says is real. And he has shown his goodness in so many ways without even saying anything about it. He is not a Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda man. He lives from day to day, happy with the simplest of things. I am free to be who I am and he is free to be who he is. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things in this lifetime.

I will never live in the Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda world again. I decided to get another degree at 74 and graduated in 2016, the same year I had breast cancer. It was Criminal Justice. I was going to be a mentor/advocate for juvenile delinquents (and I have worked with them before in other ways) but other things changed all that, so instead I am a CASA court-appointed volunteer mentor/advocate for foster children. I don’t have an assignment currently, but when I am not a caregiver for my Richard, I can do that if I choose. I am who I am and I am happy with that now. I don’t need to blame anyone else now for what I did not become. Perhaps that was never meant to be. Perhaps, just perhaps I was meant to be on the course of life I am now. It is all good, even on its worst days. I will look back on them tomorrow and be glad that I have seen many sides of life. I will be glad for the little things – a beautiful sky, a gentle breeze, a hand that reaches out and holds mine . . .