Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Busy Week (again!)

To illustrate that Sabine is getting move of her "groove" back each week, I have the following pictures from this past weekend.

There must be a bug in the blogspot program which seems to prevent me from arranging these pictures in some kind of chronological order.

So, I have decided to test the reader by asking iblog readers if they can match up the pictures with the events.

No, there is not a prize. But simply the self-satisfaction of being right!

Here we go. (Think of the pictures being numbered A through L, top to bottom).

1. Mazomanie Fire Department's Annual Chicken Dinner fundraiser. Vol. Fire Chief Walter "Pete" Peterson worked with Sabine for years.

2. A summer get together and picnic at Fredericka and Bonita's tree house about four miles north of our farm (as the crow flies).

3. Overnite camping in Kettle Moraine State Park near Whitewater.

4. Bob Eagle's (affectionately known as the "Big Bird") retirement party after 30+ years as chaplain at Meriter Hospital at Olin Park in Madison and a performance of the Oregon City Band.

5. A tour to the beautiful "Ten Chimneys" estate near Genesee Depot which was the summer home of actors Alfred Lunt and Joan Fontaine (and frequently visited by Noel Coward).

6. Antique Car Show and brat fry sponsored by New Heights Lutheran Church in Black Earth.

7. Fundraiser and pie sale for Habitat for Humanity at Single Oak Farm and Gardens near Paoli to support the home being built in Mazomanie.

8. Short hike on the Ice Age Trail.

Be careful, some events have more than one picture!

Well, that's our weekend! And that's why (at least speaking for me) I feel a little tuckered out!

Love to all of our bloggers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Relay for Life (T + 51)

Around Transplant Day 50, Sabine (like Stella) "got her groove back!" And began increasingly getting her energy and endurance back.

I didn't report late last winter when one of our donkeys, Mauritz, came down with the dreaded Equine Protazoan disease and succumbed to it. Sad time in our households... Sabine's mother, Charlotte, was also very connected to the boys since Sabine took ill and could not be around them.

We have been searching for a replacement (remember, "a donkey alone is a lonely donkey") and folks in our neck of the woods have been looking out for a friend for Max. This weekend we found one -- a donkey family just outside of Argyle had one for sale and so we drove down and adopted, "Bucky" (he actually is called "The Downs -- Buckpasser" and it a pedigreed donkey (no, we are not going to tell Max because he will just feel bad).

Charlotte and our neighbor, Bob, will pick him up this coming week. They have about 16 donkeys and two newborns!

Sabine's brother, Rainer, made one of his summer visits (they spend the winter in the Las Vegas area) and being a good German, was looking for things to do; so he mowed grass, expanded the donkey pen, and then, helped me build a shed for the pool heater and filter system (something I was "gonna do" for the past 12 summers!).

Rainer is a retired social worker and just as good carpenter. So away we went. Notice the picture of Rainer working and me drinking ice tea! But it was a hot day as you can see from our sweaty t-shirts.

(I can't seem to get these pictures to line up! Bear with me...)

A number of events are milestones in our new life with cancer -- our local "Relay for Life" is one of them. Sabine was this year's speaker at the Black Earth/Mazomanie/Cross Plains "Relay for Life" held at Wisconsin Heights High School this weekend.

She was a great speaker (well, I knew that... but she was really wonderful as she spoke about "battle buddies" -- (those who has cancer and their care providers) and how one has to pay attention not only to the physical side of this disease, but also mental and spiritual aspects.

On Thursday, we attended a great production at the American Players Theater in nearby Spring Green with a couple from our support group who lives down the road from us -- Gil and Kathleen. The production was Shaw's "The Philanderer" and wonderfully presented!

This Sunday (Father's Day) I led worship at New Heights and had a the opporunity to preach about the importance of Father's and how the church has become "unbalanced" with the absence of men in worship and in church ministries (on any given Sunday, congregations are 60% female) and how a growing church needs to have men present. And I talked about a great film that could be used to attract men -- a film about duty, honor, courage, commitment and service above self -- "Taking Chance," starring Kevin Bacon. As a former Marine, it greatly moved me and has the same values that I believe followers of Jesus hold.

Well, we had a busy and grateful week. And, as I have said in the past, when Sabine feels better somehow I do, too!

Love and blessings to all!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Sabine enjoying the weekend at the pool with neice, Teak and her daughter, Malea.

Just hanging out... and getting stronger every day (isn't there a song that goes like that?)

Left to right, Kim, Rainer, Malea, Teak and Sabine. Where are those boys? In the pool!!


I think I now know why focus is not only on healing and caregiving to the person cared-for, but also on the caregiver. After all, caregiving should be a relatively easy job, right? I mean caregivers are not the ones who are ill and in need of care -- or are they, too?

I think when you are not in love with the person who needs care, it might be an easier task – like a job – sure, you do it as best you can with both compassion and care, but, on the other hand, you go home after work and you and the person cared for do not necessarily have hearts that are connected.

And that’s when all this changes. At least in my case it does. Because the person I care for is my beloved it is difficult not to have the ups and downs of her illness affect me. It is difficult not to feel in my heart what is going on in hers.

So, I find my self in a bit of a funk since the time of the emotionally-packed, scary time of the transplant. And now, as Sabine struggles to regain her strength again… it is this road back we now walk and sometimes along which we struggle.

Sometimes I feel like a sentinel, a guardian, almost like being a cop again – protecting, watching over, and having a high level of awareness.

Hmmm, would it not be called “stress”? Of course it would. Of course, I get my exercise, eat well and watch my alcohol intake -- and I have my writing to do and a few Sundays in which to fill in, but the journey seems to take a toll now and then and I am feeling it now going into T Day +46.

We have now planned some weekly “get-aways” – like taking the camper north for a day or two, even thinking about boarding the train to Chicago for an overnight… these activities encourage me and bring me back into a reality check – or, perhaps I should say, a gratefulness check.

I have much in which to be grateful. I am doing what I have always wanted to do no matter what the cost – it ranks above all other things – to be with Sabine. Twenty-eight years ago I decided that a relationship with her was the most important thing in my life. I even offered to leave the police department so this could happen (and if you know me that was something big!).

Perhaps, it is time for some psalm-reading for me – to enter into the pain of the lament psalms, but also not to overlook those psalms which proclaim the joy and wonder of God’s creation, how we are so blessed, and to remember this time in which we live – and love – and have our being.

What is love? I think no one has said it better than Paul did in the Christian Bible. The following is from Eugene Peterson’s biblical translation, The Message:

[B]ut I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

(1 Corinthians 13:3-7)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Samantha's Graduation

Last Friday, I drove up to St Paul for our granddaughter Samantha's high school graduation. Sabine had to stay behind and rest; too big a crowd for her.

Every since I have been back, I have felt tired, even sad. Why so? It was a wonderful time with her and her siblings and parents and met lots of her friends.

Three years ago, her older sister, Allison, graduated. Memories. A year later, her funeral. Feelings of happiness for Sam and sadness as we all missed Allison. Sam goes off to college and is going to seek a career in law enforcement (a chip off the old block?). Finally, today I was able to grasp those clashing feelings of grief and celebration. [A note of clarification on the second poem: Samantha has a beautiful heart tattooed on her left shoulder with Allison's name inscribed -- "the image adorning her shoulder..."]

can grief
like a strange exotic
at first
bitter, foreign
shocking to taste
as one goes
and family events
bring us
to taste
the absence of
whom we loved
(still love)
the taste of it
once bitter
and noxious
replaced now
once violent
in remembrance.

where is she?
we come together
rituals of friendship
and family
abundant with
is she coming?
in our
we expect
a bubble of
to drift in
to occupy
this passage day
her soul-sister
accomplished woman
i see her
self-consciously look
is that her?
feeling her fingers
the image

Peace and have a blessed week.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hey, where are you guys?

I have heard this too often this past week. Remember the theme of this BLOG -- "No news is good news!"

Slowly, but surely (didn't I say that last week?) Sabine is gaining back her strength. She still avoids large gatherings (we do sneak in and out of church on Sunday!)-- but no hugs nor handshakes for her until her immune system is fully back.

So today is much better than it was last Sunday. And we are thankful for the gains she has made.

From a more comfortable fox hole....

Until next time!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Slow, but Sure! T-Day +32

I know things are improving because after we brought a blood sample into the dialysis center on Fish Hatchery Road, Sabine wanted to go the the "Yes Buffet" -- a great Chinese buffet with all the trimmings (even Chinese pizza!) and she ate like a little piggy!(Chinese piggy, of course).

Her fortune cookie! "Fate happens now, you decide."