Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I haven't posted in quite some time.  This post isn't me coming back, not really.  It is just about passing on information.

This blog started because of a day in 2008, when I realized the process of losing my mother had begun, was already quite progressed, before any of us had a chance to realize what was happening.

It isn't hypochondria to have odd symptoms and go to a doctor with questions.  It's responsible.  My mother was likely sick for a long time; symptoms we didn't press her to have looked at now, in hindsight, feel like red flags.

ALS mimics other diseases.  Some of its symptoms may also signal MS, thyroid issues, or in the case of someone the doctor in the link below knows, a slipped disk.  The point is - know your body, know what is normal and what isn't, and go to the doctor.

ALSA March 2014 - Ask the Doc - Do I have ALS?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I did, more or less, start using my cookbooks more often.  I went through stacks of cooking magazines, too, and cut out the intriguing recipes that led me to buy them.  I stuffed those in my own cookbook and made some interesting dinners and things.

But I utterly failed to blog about any of that.

I would like to be a better blogger, a more consistent writer, and most of all, I would like to find a way to channel all of the things that interest me into those hobbies.  At least some of the things.

It is Christmas Eve, and we stare down the new year with hope and trepidation and resignation all sort of wrapped up together.  I would like to write.  Will I have the stamina to stick to my plans and reach my goal?

Do I have one?

One thing at a time.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cookbook collector

Fall cleaning has been underway for a few weeks at our house, as we tackle things like outgrown toddler clothes and the never-read stacks of books on our shelves.  One chore I tackled was shaking out my cookbook collection, which isn't actually very big but which does tend to collect dust more than provide inspiration at dinnertime.

I want to put those cookbooks I am keeping to better use, and what better way than to cook and blog about it?

Starting next Sunday and continuing on Sundays until I tire of this or lose the habit , I am going to pick a meal we have not tried from one of my cookbooks, and post about it here.  I will take pictures when possible and share a link to the cookbook in question when available.

As I said, my collection is small, but it is fairly diverse.  I have some inherited church cookbooks dating to the 1970s, some purchased ones with recipes going back 100 years, a Julia Child kitchen basics book, Paula Deen, Ree Drummond, Rachael Ray.  I have a handful of ethnic cookbooks and some other things.

My goals here are to try new things, shake the dust off my collection, and bring something to this blog I have not known what to do with.  This won't be strictly a cooking blog, of course, but at least there will be regular content!

I have started going through recipes and hope to decide for sure what I will start with this week. 

Yay for new projects!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The first thing I noticed after that day was the silence. No planes in the sky.

My daughter's favorite word these days is "airplane." She hasn't ever seen a real airplane, not up close, just had them pointed out to her from our grounded vantage point. She's not yet known a day when there are no planes in the sky. They are a part of life, for her. It was that way for us, too, back in 2001. Never had known a day without a plane in the sky, though just a century earlier such things were science fiction.

After 9/11, planes were grounded. There was a legitimate fear that more would be used as weapons of mass destruction, that they would be taken over by flight school students here on expired visas and used to make a political and religious statement through bloodshed.

My 9/11 memories are stark. I can close my eyes and smell the lounge where I was studying, taste the orange juice I had for breakfast, hear Peter Jennings' gasps and sighs and sheer frustration and fear. I feel the adrenaline that didn't subside for weeks after, the cramps in my calves from running up and down stairs in the campus language building to get confirmation about classes cancelling. The sweat running down the back of my neck while I ran around looking for my friend Michael, with whom I'd ridden to school that morning. We got Chick-Fil-A for lunch on our way back to my house when classes were cancelled. It tasted like sawdust.

In 2002, on the anniversary, I wrote about my impressions, a year out. "And there has been a vague sense of this same silence ever since. Helicopters, military planes - nothing is the same. An interrupted television show strikes a chord of fear - what now? What next?"

Nothing has really changed.

What now. What next.

Will the planes be flying tomorrow?


I have always loved flying. In tiny Cessnas, in huge commercial jets. I love the take-off and looking out over open land. It doesn't come close to my love of a cross-country road trip, but flying is a special experience. You feel the future, in the sky. You sense all the ways you are breaking the rules.

It is horrifying to know, even that beauty was twisted and used for evil.


I first noticed the silent skies on the ride home from the university, some four hours after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

The empty skies.

I remember thinking how eerie it was, how unnatural. We lived right in a major flight path for DFW Airport, planes flew over our house every fifteen minutes or so.

Unnatural. Except there is nothing natural about human flight. It's a manipulation of physics, an application of human knowledge, but it is not natural.


My daughter spread her arms out in the car this morning as we drove down the highway. "Wheee!" she said. "Airplane!"

May she never know the horror of a silent, empty sky.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

two degrees from ALS

May is ALS Awareness Month.

That very phrase strikes an odd note with me.  I feel like the concentrated publicity and public outreach that is supposed to take place during an "awareness" month should be a year-round occurrence   I mean, this is a disease that invariably kills - there is no cure.  It has no discernible pattern, except that we know it sometimes runs in families, that there may be a genetic marker, but that it also occurs randomly, it hits veterans at a greater rate than any other population segment.  You can live for decades with it - see Stephen Hawking - or just a couple of years past diagnosis - see Lou Gehrig.

So here's my pitch.  You probably don't personally know anyone with ALS.  Chances are, you probably won't in the future.  But you know me, because you're reading this blog, and my mother and my grandmother were both ALS patients.  So your connection to ALS is really just two degrees.

Christmas 2009 - Me with Mom in her hospital room.  This was thankfully the only Christmas she spent in the hospital.

Take a minute and get educated.

I don't expect everyone who learns about ALS to donate money to the cause of finding a cure.  This is one of my causes because it hit home, not because of a celebrity or even because of a neighbor or friend-of-a-friend.  Certainly not because I read some blog posts about it.  But, consider this, if you've got $10 to spare. As the disease progresses, ALS patients require full-time care.  Many need wheelchairs early on, they need  medical equipment like oxygen masks and tanks, feeding tubes, catheters, all the attendant supplies.  Some need caregivers at home, others need to be in homes.  Insurance does a lot, but it doesn't do nearly enough, and not every ALS patient has the resources of the VA like my mother did.  The ALS Association is mostly focused on research, but if you can find a way to help them or, even better, caregivers and patients directly, you're doing a lot.

I'm not the hopeful type, when we're talking about ALS.  It is really difficult to fathom a cure, when we have so few effective treatments.  But comfort, having a support group, responsible end-of-life care, these are things I think we can give ALS patients.

Consider it.

And pass on the word.