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Thursday, September 22, 2022

God's Attic


This is a morning rainbow over a mountain called Ladron, which means 'bandit', and is fittingly the peak after which my dear service dog was named, for she stole my heart.

But I can't stop to look back. Not so much because there's a lot ahead, but because the pain of loss leaches the joy from today.

I think that for anyone with cancer, maybe more is lost than is realized.

Like, a shared cup of coffee, or a stroll around the block, or the comfort of a marital bed.

I can scarcely remember what these things were like, and don't want to, because loss will weaken resolve needed for the present moment. There may not be a vast bright future, but I believe, and HAVE to believe, that I still have something worthwhile to give in the now, and that it's wrong to allow sentimentality to dilute that.

So I leave the memories in God's hands, to be unpacked, to live again, in another time and place.

I think back to The Good Old Days,
the hikes, Starbucks, and pillow talks,
offer for them thanks and praise,
then put them in God's attic box
that is marked 'Not To Be Opened'
as I walk upon the Earth;
its seal will stay strong and unbroken
until I pass that great rebirth
into the place of God's own time,
when yesterday lives side by side
with today, fresh in its prime,
and there is no need to hide
from sorrow over what is gone,
for there the past's a bright new dawn.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is REPRESENT.

I come from far Mongolia,
perhaps birthed in a tent,
no scent there of magnolia,
so I shall represent
the line to which I have been born,
the Horde and Genghis Khan,
and from this I cannot be torn;
it's simply who I am,
ready now to go and ride,
to raid and loot and pillage;
try to run, or try to hide,
we're coming to your village,
and we'll live in your memory
in our ruthless majesty.

Three minutes flat. Maybe that says something I maybe didn't want folks to know?

Music from The Moody Blues, with I Know You're Out There Somewhere.

 Ice cream keeps Sylvia in the Now.


Thursday, September 15, 2022

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows


Rainbows are one of the things that make life worth living. I should say it's because they're the symbol of God's promise to Noah, but when I see one, I have to be honest, I don't think about that.

They're just pretty. And pretty can overcome the bummer cancer can be.

As, yeah, so does Barb, who took the picture.

Pain's the gift that keeps on giving,
reminder with a flaming touch
that it's rainbows keep me living
even when it hurts too much
to live as normal people do,
go to Starbucks, take a walk,
watch a movie full way through
or, even, sit down and talk
about the small gay things in life,
like when the pool guy, tan and hearty,
ran away with neighbour's wife,
and neighbour's days are now a party
to which I have not been invited,
but I hurt so much, I don't feel slighted.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is SPONTANEOUS. I shall now sonnetize spontaneously.

Spontaneity of rainbows,
and of shooting stars,
sudden touch of dog's cold nose,
no-warning fights in bars.
Alarums sound without a clue,
ceasefire comes without a hint,
bills immediately come due
when I'm really truly skint.
I wonder if God queers these pitches
to keep us diligent and fit
according to His inner wishes,
or is it needed that He's lit
a flame beneath lazy backsides
that we may stay alert and wise?

Four minutes! YESSSS! (As the reader cries, NOOOO!)
For a Rainbow Connexion, over, now, to Kermit the Frog.

Sylvia prefers plain vanilla to rainbow sherbet. Strange dog.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Accepting Grace

OK, so that's about 200 lbs of Dog that has just shredded my bed. Belle and Henry clearly work as a team in areas beyond CPR.

Barb says, with justification, that I accept help and comfort from dogs far more readily than from her.

She's right, and it's wrong, and I need to do better.

 You may sometime meet a day
when you can't do it alone;
no matter what your pride might say,
you, kneeling, will atone
for keeping others at arm's length,
refusing aid with scowl or smile.
When you find the end of strength,
then let it go in style,
and reach out with and open hand,
and, vitally, an open heart,
with prayer that you may understand
the need to do your part,
to let another have a place
at the table of an offered grace.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is GENEROUS. Will you be generous in the time I take? This is hard.

The world threw me beneath the bus
when it learned that I had cancer,
but God, it seems, is generous,
and has supplied an answer.
Mostly we don't know the why,
we just live in the what,
but since I'm really gonna die,
God stirred the cooking-pot
and let me know just what had come
to the top of the life-stew,
that I'd be forever young,
and said what I had to do,
was witness love with tears and laughter
for all those who would follow after.

A bit over five minutes. Ah, well.

Music from NeedToBreathe, with Keep Your Eyes Open.

 Sylvia will always accept grace, especially in the form of ice cream.


Thursday, September 1, 2022


Death tried to take me again today.

Saw him coming.

Exhausted, but elated.

Here is a description of the experience, written to a dear friend as soon as possible after the fact.

"I was sitting at the edge of my bed, working on (a present for Barbara),
when I started floating backwards through the bed. I was not a ghost; the furniture became insubstantial as mist.

"I grabbed hold of something, I know not what, and pulled myself back to what I now see as the dream-world of this... I was about to say corporeal place, but it's the other side that's solid.

"Belle helped; I think that dogs perhaps have a paw in each realm.

"I am so very happy to stay."

I would not deign to stop for Death,
and so he stopped for me,
gently taking all my breath,
proclaiming victory,
but his lesson's not been learned,
for he should know me better,
and he perforce was badly burned
as I torched each fetter
with which he tried to bind me to
the carriage at his station,
but he's been vanquished, done and through,
and Valhalla's destination
to which will go this man of strife,
to fight through the Eternal Life.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is ROOT. Sounds like what pigs do, but I'll have a lash.

Each day I need to root around
like a hungry pig
eating that which can be found
and getting pretty big.
But it's not food I'm snorting for,
oh, no, oh no, indeedy;
I'm on the hunt for something more,
that for which I'm greedy:
I need a reason to survive
when house of cards doth fall,
a reason just to stay alive,
a cause to give my all
when cancer's fatal hemlock cup
makes me want to just give up.

Three minutes thirty. Snort, snort.

Music from Led Zeppelin, with Immigrant Song from Thor: Ragnarok. Join me, please, in the celebration.

 Sylvia is celebrating with ice cream.


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Refugee From Silence

This post might have been about another trip to the edge, an out-of-body experience, and hours of the shakes, from just this Monday.

Belle and the Chihuahuas and Red the Red Heeler brought me back with much yelling and rib-cracking CPR.

But it's been overtaken by events.

So let's talk about Henry instead, a deaf Pit Bull puppy (80 lbs at seven months) who really needed a home.

Now he's got one (in the picture below he's being welcomed by Belle The Service Wolf).

He's friendly beyond words, and just wants to be around us, and around his new canine family.

And he has a job. He's attuned to me, and knows that if I fall, he's to brace that strong back to help me up.

The Chihuahuas absolutely LOVE him. So does everyone else.

He deserves it.

God has said we should take in
the at-our-doorstep waif,
and so I think this is a win
that Henry now is safe.
The world is not so very kind
to a Pit who cannot hear,
and so my wife was called to mind
what He made crystal clear
when told of Henry's dreadful plight,
refugee from a silent world,
and so she went to shine a light
that he could know, and led him toward
a gentle and forgiving place
where he could live his life in grace.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is SHOW, and here's a paean to the dogs that lately saved my life, incorporating the prompt.

I don't like to go to sleep,
night shows me what I'd fain not know,
for instead counting sheep
I may count flowers from below.
Belle, Red, and ChiChis do agree,
for yesterday I passed away,
and rather than in panic flee,
the dogs stepped up to win the day.
The Boys were screaming in my face
giving all, their very best,
while Belle The Wolf gave saving grace
with hard compressions on my chest,
so therefore I am back again
and enjoined thus to remain.

Just under four minutes.

If you are wondering what canine CPR looks like, I found a video. 

Clearly I didn't see it from this angle, didn't see it at all, in fact, but could feel it through the mist. Belle The Service Wolf is not small.

Sylvia's willing to share her ice cream with him. Maybe.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Dancing On The Edge Of Forever

This was originally intended to be quite a different post (pertaining to the lovely evening picture above, which Barb took from our front door), but coming back from near death earlier today... well, that may be worth a few words.

It was a hard experience. I realized, very suddenly, that I was about to go down very hard, and, vision fading, managed to lunge across my bed.

There followed a period of passing in and out of awareness, and I can liken it to drowning (I was once trapped beneath seaweed when diving).

I became too weak to fight, and handed the situation over to God...and gradually my breath came back, and I could, later, see again.

Barb came home from lunch shortly thereafter, and was horrified to find me ice-cold, with pale, and with very poor veinous return at the fingernails.

Now, several hours later, I'm as shaky as a shopping cart with a bad wheel.

And what does it mean? What's the lesson from this terrifying morning?

God is.

No matter how proud, nay, arrogant we are in our own strength (I have cornered the market, here), there's a limit.

And there God stands, shaking His head, perhaps rolling His eyes, sleeves pulled up, ready to work.

Perhaps to put you back, perhaps to take you home.

Or something in between.

He holds all the cards.

I paid out in arrogance
far more than I could fain afford,
and, as if in recompense
I was forced unto the Lord,
unwillingly into His arms,
where He smiling bade me hide,
safe from earthly harms,
but not from that which lurked inside.
'Twas pride that led me to resist
in my heart, with pious face,
and it's hard, with tight-closed fist
to receive the gentle grace
that the Lord so wants to give
through every moment that we live.

Music from Soundgarden, with Live To Rise.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is VIEW. Let's take a look.

Come and visit us, right here,
yes, we do mean you!
My friend, we hold your friendship dear,
so let's enjoy the view.
A mountain range lies to the east
across the desert plain,
and its best matches its least
when peaks are clothed in rain.
Un-named mesas in the west
will shine red in the morning light,
and receive the sun in rest
at the fall of night.
But beauty goes on, have no doubt;
just wait 'till all the stars come out!

Four minutes. Good enough.

Sylvia learned long ago that trading pride for ice cream is a good exchange,
and that ice cream presents a lovely view.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

What 'Terminal' Feels Like

One of the most frequently asked questions about terminal cancer is... what does it FEEL like, knowing that you're under a death sentence, date of execution unknown?

It was hard to answer until I had an epiphany while watching Pirates Of The Caribbean. No, the revelation did not involve rum. Unfortunately.

What It's Like is walking the plank, blindfolded. You can't stop, let alone go back, and you don't know if the very next step might be a really long one.

It's incumbent on a Christian to say, I'm falling into the arms of Jesus!, and while this is my secure belief, the truth is that we have to go through a one-way door to get there. We can believe what's behind the door, but we can't SEE it, and that's scary.

Normally, when at least reasonably healthy, we put it off, channeling Scarlett O'Hara... I'll think about that tomorrow.

But for me, and for many, many others, it's tomorrow.

(For the record, another common question is How Have You Lasted This Long...I don't know, but Olivia Newton John fought cancer for thirty years. Quite an inspiration.)

Each footfall's further in the dark,
over the vast abyss,
dominion of the hungry shark
(am I on his to-do list?).
I don't know where the plank will end,
and though I tread with care,
there's courage I just can't pretend
for when I step, and nothing's there,
and so I lift my shrouded eyes
unto the Lord who reigns above,
somewhere beyond the darkling skies,
that He might look down with love
that when that final step is taken,
I land in His palm, unforsaken.

The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is FORGET. Had something in mind, but I already forgot. My brain's like a shelf without a rear wall; put something on the front, something falls off the back.

Well, here goes.

It's easy to forget 'bout God
when things are going well,
but we remember (oh, how odd!)
when life goes straight to hell,
and we cry out, "Catch me, Lord!"
with all our strength and might
when we think we're spinning toward
an endless Stygian night.
I wouldn't blame ol' God at all
if He laughed and turned away,
but He will not let us fall
on this or any day,
so He lends faith we can borrow
'till He's ignored again tomorrow.

Four minutes. Does it show?

I couldn't find a musical accompaniment the fit with walking the plank, but here's Tightrope Walk, by The Damned, set to stunning scenes from 'The Walk', a film about Phillipe Petit's high-wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Centre.

Sylvia knows she's in God's hand, and that hand holds ICE CREAM!