Veterans Day 2019

Here in the States, November 11 is Veterans Day. Originally it was established as Armistice Day, the day Germany formally surrendered at the end of WW I: November 11, 1918. In 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day, to honor U.S. veterans and victims of all wars.

In 2015 my husband and I took a long awaited trip to France. One of the places we visited was the American Cemetery in Normandy. The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and contains the remains of 9,388 American soldiers. There are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942, and graves of 4 American women. But most of the graves are of those soldiers who died during the Invasion of Normandy.

It is a sobering place, as you look out over row upon row upon row of crosses and stars of David. My husband said, “There is such sadness here.” My thought was of all those men, overwhelmingly young, who would never have a chance to have a career, or fall in love, or get married, or live to see their children grow up. They would never see their lives open up before them.

Here is a closeup of an infinitely small section.

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The American Cemetery at Normandy                                                                Image: ©Hannah Keene

Posted for the Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bravery.

Haunting

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

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We are fortunate here in Oakland to have several very talented Mural Artists. I drove by this mural yesterday, made a U-turn, parked, and took several shots.

At first glance from the car, this appears to be straight out of my childhood nightmares. So much so that I wondered if the artist, whom I have never met, had a window into the horrors of my brain. This mural is HUGE, painted, as you can see, on 2 sides of the building, and probably 15 feet tall.

From the car, this portion was all that I saw. It is terrifying.

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Up close, I saw the full mural.

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This mural completely overwhelms you. But once I had gotten up close, I noticed this small courageous figure and the forrest of stark trees, which hadn’t been noticeable from the car.

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A closeup.

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This young boy, standing up to the wild, fantastical beast, is showing so much bravery, that you think that he just might prevail. He must be terrified inside, but he continues to stand, recorded in paint on a wall. It ends up being a powerful symbol not only of courage, but of resistance. I suspect the world is in desperate need such symbols, haunting though they may be.

And the title?

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All photographic images: Hannah Keene 2019.

Posted for Terri’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge: Something Scary.

A Boy and His (Shared) Dog

I am finding myself somewhat nostalgic and sad lately. The daylight is beginning to fade sooner and sooner, and while fall is usually my favorite season, September 2 marked the first year anniversary of my husband’s death. So I have been looking through family pictures of late, and went searching for these, as they are among my favorites of the past year – the first year without my husband of 44 years. While the post itself is far longer than six words, the title is exactly six, so I hope I can still use the Six Word Saturday hashtag.

I have written before about the fact that my good friends, Martha and Arthur, and I share our two dogs. Theirs is Teddy the Labradoodle and mine is Zoë the Miniature Schnauzer. When my husband and I returned to Northern California three and a half years ago and moved into our retirement community (St. Paul’s Towers), the grandkids were just 1 and 3½. Teddy was bigger than the 1 year old, obviously, but he was also awfully big for the 3½ year old. About a year ago, when they were 3 and almost 6, the two of them decided that it was time for them to start walking the dogs instead of just accompanying me when I walked them. So they became the walkers, and I became the accompanying and supervising person. The 3 year old was still rather scared of Teddy, but was comfortable walking Zoë. The almost 6 year was adamant that he wanted to walk Teddy by himself, without me holding on to the leash. Here is the result: he walking confidently on ahead with Teddy last February, when he was fully 6+ a few months. My granddaughter, Zoë, and I are lagging behind, in a perfect position to capture a photo.

Walking the Dog at Twilight

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Images: Hannah Keene 2019

Posted for Six Word Saturday. Well, at least there’s exactly six words in the title. 😉

Tuesday Tea

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Image: Zebras Child 2019

I know I said I would just post photos for at least a week, but I want to tell you the history of this kettle.

The predecessor to this kettle was given to me by husband about 15 years ago. I had fallen in love with it through a store window up in Mendocino, California while I was visiting my mom. Let me remind you that my husband was the cook of the family, so it was his kitchen. He didn’t want to replace our large Revere Ware kettle with anything else because the Revere kettle could hold enough water to make enough drip coffee for guests all in one go. And there was nothing wrong with it. I couldn’t argue with that, but eventually the little plastic bit that enabled you to lift the small lid and pour, broke, as plastic bits are prone to do. Revere no longer made those extra large kettles, so he agreed to get me one of these wonderful pure copper English kettles for my birthday.

We used that one happily for about 12 years. But alas, we had originally bought the design that could only be used on a gas stove. Our retirement community only has electric stoves, so we needed a replacement. But in the intervening years, the price for these kettles had shot up a whopping 300%. That is not a typo. The original copper works factory that had been making these kettles for over 100 years found it too expensive to continue to operate and had closed down. These kettles had gone overnight from being ubiquitous in England and passed down from mother to daughter, to trendy and rare. Only the quantity that remained in the warehouse existed. I told him how much they now cost. He paled a little, but then said, “Sweet Love, I know how much you have loved using this kind of kettle. No matter the price, I will still get you a new one for your birthday. He did, and I think of him every morning as I fill the pot with water and turn on the electric stove.

Looking Hard for Hope

Fallen Tree Leaf and Blossom    ©Zebra's Child
Fallen Tree Leaf and Blossom           ©Zebra’s Child

I’ve talked recently about sometimes having to transplant hope into dark places. But what happens when you look around and can’t find anything to transplant?

I’ve had a request from a reader to talk about what a day might look like for someone with a PID (primary immune deficiency). The idea here is to show how difficult it can be to live within a body that fundamentally doesn’t work the way it should, so that others struggling with CVID, or any other immune deficiency, will not think they are the only person in the world with difficult days. Knowing that you are not the only one out there can be profoundly healing.

So. Here’s a synopsis, with some background. Knowing that I would be 4 days late in getting my infusion upon returning from France, my doctor and I decided that the infusion I received before I left would be 120% of the dosage that I normally received. So far so good. I did wonderfully while I was in France with no infections or other signs that my immune system had to work extra hard. (That is, above and beyond the extra work it has to do on a daily basis.) I got my regular dosage of of gamma globulin upon my return, and all seemed to be well for about 4 days. I then came down with an infection, which is highly unusual right after an infusion. First signal that something was wrong. Since then, my immune system seems to have gotten further and further behind.

This Thursday will be the fourth infusion since I have returned from France. During the 3 weeks since my most recent infusion, my immune system has gotten less and less happy. Suffice it to say that for the last 3 weeks I’ve had all kinds of skin problems that haven’t been this bad in a year. I won’t subject you to the gory details.

Now on to today. Didn’t sleep well last night. Never do when my immune system is struggling this hard. I consider it to be one of fate’s cruel jokes, and will have a word about this with God when I die. Woke up about 8:00 and couldn’t get up. Went back to sleep. Woke up at 9:00 and still couldn’t get up. Repeat. Woke up at 10:00, let the dog out of her crate so my husband could feed her breakfast and decided that standing up was literally too difficult for my body to handle right then, so lay back down. Had an interesting conversation with my body about how I would really, really appreciate it if it would work a little better for me today because it was (is) my birthday and I felt so crappy that I hadn’t even remembered it was my birthday until my husband said “Happy Birthday” when I woke up. My body and I went back and forth with this conversation until 11:00, at which point my 88 year old mom called me on face time to wish me happy birthday. Her first face time call ever. She saw that I was still in bed and was white as a sheet, so this was her first sentence all at once, “Happy birthday dear oooohhhhhhhh you’re not doing well.” “No mom, I’m not, unfortunately.” We talked briefly and then hung up. I was hungry by then and so that necessitated that I get up to fix and eat breakfast. Then had a lovely phone conversation with a friend who also called to wish me happy birthday, but had to cut it short because I needed to move from the sitting up position to the laying down position again. Got up after awhile, took a shower and ate some lunch. Then went to my therapy appointment where I proceeded to cry while I talked about the fact that I have this darned immune deficiency, the skin on my feet won’t even stay together like it does on any semi normal person, and I really, really don’t feel well. I rarely allow myself to do that, but today it just felt overwhelming. I’m glad I did, though, because it actually made me feel better than I had all day. So I stopped by Trader Joe’s for some lettuce and bought some irises as well because I love irises. I came home, turned on the sprinklers briefly, put the irises in a vase, and then sat down to write this post, hoping writing this would make me feel better still. The jury is still out on that. Tried to make this paragraph somewhat humorous because humor is one of my coping strategies, and because I didn’t want this post to be so depressing that no one would read it. The jury is still out on that as well.

My therapist suggested that I postpone my birthday until the weekend. I think that is a really good idea, especially since we have theater tickets for Saturday night. Hopefully I’ll feel well enough to use them.