Ever have those weeks where you're nervous yet excited about something because you are unsure of the outcome to come - or feel like something is about to happen. It's almost like having butterflies in your tummy, but you're not sure if it's a good thing or not. What I've come to understand is that these feelings are a reminder for me, as they are reminding me (as Rumi writes) I am a guest house, with new arrivals all the time. My jumbled feelings are reminding me to welcome those feelings with open arms. Don't be afraid of them, Cyndi. Welcome, and come on in. All unexpected guests are to be greeted with peace and gratitude - not confusion, as each arrival brings about a new delight. These feelings are sent to me for a greater purpose, and what I do with them is what's important. Sometimes I have to sit on them awhile, and sometimes I just know it's all intended. Rumi's poem, The Guest House was recently in a discussion I had with a dear friend, Dr Waheed, who bares witness to this poem regularly to walk his own walk through life. When I reach for these words, the world becomes a much more settled place for my feelings. I'm reminded that each feeling I encounter is intentional - and is a guide. Once I break out of the overwhelmingness of the feelings, it feels good again, knowing all my unexpected visitors come in peace. Sometimes, I need to be reminded of this.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
So why the reminder
Because I tend to get busy with my life and forget to hit the pause button and think. This poem helps me do that. Prayer helps me do that. Taking time to meditate helps me do that. All signs point inward, which is where I need to get back to every now and again. When I start feeling willy-nilly, it's time to pull back from life and recalibrate. So as I feel myself finding my calm, I'll share our happenings these days.
David travels to Houston on April 19th and 20th for his 2 month follow up appointments at MD Anderson. He will see his radiation oncologist, his chemo oncologist, have labs drawn and an MRI completed. Then, he'll see the SuperStar of all things SNUC, Dr Hanna. He'll be given his report card and we are hoping for all A's. I often wonder if David is concerned. What is he thinking, deep down inside that brain of his. Of course if you ask him, he says He's fine, everything is fine. I guess for that matter, I might say the same. But deep down, what are those most intimate personal thoughts. I mean, he's gone through the diagnosis, the cancer treatments and is working his way towards the other side of recovery now. His smell and taste slowly are finding their way back home. His skin is healing, his saliva is mostly back, and his sinus passages are all brand new. Things are looking up. He's even hoping to have his ever-bothersome hernia fixed soon. The upcoming appointments will be a right of passage for clearance into taking the next steps of life for him. We are hoping for those steps to be into Infinity and Beyond.
Myself, on another hand had a set of appointments at Texas Oncology all my own this past couple of weeks. My last monthly appointment has showed progression of my PV reflecting severe anemia, and in a turn of events, lowering of hematocrit and hemoglobin (normally good for PV-ers) but mine decided to take a dive without asking first. This has all left me with fatigue and shortness of breathe and a fight against my body and what it's doing on its own path with PV.
So polycythemia vera is a blood cancer whereby your bone marrow has a gene that's been turned on to tell your bone marrow to make lots of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Yet, it's like a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs of this generation of blood products due in part to various elements in your body, one in particular being iron. Iron is (one element) that encourages your body to create red blood cells, therefore a state of anemia with PV is encouraged. The less iron you have, the less your body with be triggered to generate red blood cells. So what's the issue, right? For me, my iron fell too low. So low, it starts affecting your organs and soft tissue in your body. So, here we go on this rollercoaster ride, and I'm now needing 5 weeks (every Wednesday) of iron infusions which each take about 1 1/2 hours to process into me. Yes, it should help me feel better and help my body as well. Yes, it will irritate my PV and cause my red blood cells to increase therefore creating a need for more phlebotomies. Phlebotomies create iron deficiency. It's a double edged sword having PV and everyone's case is specific to them. This happens to be my kryptonite - iron, or should I say the lack of iron.
The good news
What's interesting in all this is my mind tells me how good things are. Look around you, Cyndi, at your life, your loves, your farm, your peace and all the good and wonderful people in your life. My plate is full. Sometimes, I need to take a step back and use my self awareness to see all this goodness to combat the chatter that tries to creep in and create doubt and disturbance. That's where the reminder of welcoming unexpected guests come in into play. And then, Maya Angelou reminds me to look around myself, and whether it's good or bad you see, be grateful for it. Her light shines so bright, that I can actually hear her whispering that in my ear. I am grateful for the health I have been blessed with - good or not-so-good. I am here today. My mind is strong. Don't get lost in it. Stay rooted in my being. Reminders are needed for me, as strength is not the absence of struggles, it's what I build while I'm inside them. Recognizing my own weaknesses helps me build on them.
I've needed to remind myself of this lately, as life continues to lead me on journeys that I never would have gone on if it were up to me. I have so much to learn from it, so much faith to hold tight to, and allow myself to trust this journey. Because in the midst of all of it, there's always opportunity. Something new that I couldn't see before. For all this, I am grateful.
Punked, wait Skunked
You know Maybe, sweet little Maybe, right.
Maybe would be in the Popular chick in middle school
It was a bright sunny Easter late afternoon, when Maybe, Sugar, David and I were up at the front of our property. The birds were singing, flying in and out of their bird houses high above the pond, where the ducks still refuse to go. The donkeys were watching as the 4 of us who happen to be up at the road for a reason that escapes me at this time. But there we were, David and I watching Maybe and Sugar tootle up and down the road which runs in front of our place. It's not well traveled, but is often visited by four legged creatures. Today's visitor, a skunk making it's way out of the culvert pipe home it occupies and finds an unexpected visitor nearby. The skunk did not welcome this unexpected visitor named Maybe, but instead, these two 4 legged furry not-friends met face to backside and waa-laa, as if in slow motion, Maybe was blessed with a face (and chest full) of oily green-yellow ick that burned her eyes and smelt to the high heavens.
Ugh. David and I immediately attempt to direct her back to the house, down the gravel road and leash her to keep her from transferring this gunk all over her, to anyone or anything else. I run in the house to grab supplies to wash her, first asking my best friend, Hey, Google, How do I get skunk spray off my dog. She quickly explains the ingredients of hydrogen peroxide, Dawn dishwashing soap and baking soda, providing the proper ratios of each. Perfect, Thank you, Google, and I'm now running back outside with these three bottles juggling in my arms like a circus clown.
With David holding the leash and Maybe at the end attempting to shake all the gunk off, I run and grab a large plastic bin from the garage, pour free-style all 3 ingredients and add water with the facet hose outside, and toss Maybe in. It's cold. Sorry, not sorry. Both David and I are now dousing her with this cold mixture and it needs to sit on her for at least 5 minutes. It's cold. We all smell like skunk now.
Fast forward 5 minutes and it's time to rinse. I get the cold outdoor facet hose and rinse her off. She's NOT coming in the house anytime soon, period the end. After she's rinsed and shivering, I go to my collection of dog towel's neatly kept in a plastic slot titled Dog Towels (thank you label maker) and we attempt to dry her. After she's been roughly dried with this dog towel (definition of dog towel: towel(s) designated as not to be used on a human and not to be washed with human things in the washing machine- any deviation of this will result in a fine of which is unspeakable). We then stand back and stare at her, as if to will this stench off her.
Next, I take the rest of the baking soda in the box and pour it all over her. This ends up helping dry her further and absorbs more of her nasty smell. Next up, I put Sugar and Maybe on a leash and we go for a long walk letting Maybe finish drying, shake it off and get herself together for further evaluation of whether she gets house privileges tonight or not.
The walk helped dry her, and now 10 year old Maybe is exhausted when we arrive back home. All she wants to do is go inside the house onto her comfortable bed and roll around. She is dry, and the smell is much less - nice. I wonder if I'll be able to sleep tonight with her on her bed on the floor next to me. Hummm, we'll see how that goes. I'm happy to report that after Maybe had been inside the house for about an hour, I was nose blind to the majority of her smell. I could gets whiffs of the stench here and there, but it was tolerable. Plus, I was not going to put her outside for the night and not sleep with her barking all night to come in. Everyone lived happily ever after.
Here we go again, same beautiful rouen drakes, same resistance to the pond. What is new, is the duck attack. Surprises are a thing around here, and I shouldn't be so surprised by all the surprises, but I always am. It's another day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood and then wait, what's that? What is that duck doing over here? Sure enough, one of the ducks is over the fence and through the woods to a place it could have not gotten on its own accord. And it's hurt. It's tucked under one of the garden hoses, almost blending in with it, and for good reason. From the looks of it, it's likely that a hawk picked him up and could not hold onto him, dropping him into a different area of the yard - and Huey ran for cover. He was bleeding and scared, but he is going to be okay. Good job running away with those tiny short legs of yours.
Funny thing is what happened when Huey was taken away, is that Louie and Dewey ran for the shelter up near the pond. That's a long way for their little legs to travel - from the barn area of which they have taken up residence, all the way up towards the pond. I mean, we were looking everywhere for Huey's brothers, fearful that something happened to them as well. WTD, nope, they were up in the front shelter by the pond awaiting the fate of their taken friend, pacing back and forth.
Happy here, trying to get away from me
We carried Huey up to them, and placed him back, making a happy trio again. And do you know from that fretful moment since, not one of the 3 ducks have made their way back to the barn area. Nope. They are living large in the shelter up by the pond.
They are not fans of the pond, no sir. I still steer them towards the pond on some days, and they stay for a minute, then straight back to the safety of their shelter.
Here for just for a min
But they are no longer barn ducks. The live close to the pond - not actually at the pond. Close enough. I'm happy the 3 ducks have found their feathered-ever home here with us. This past week I've dabbled in the thought of getting more ducks to teach ours to go in the pond, but no. I'm duck done for now, and happy with exactly who and what I have. And I'm glad all three are safe and happy. That's duck matters.
A very special place on the farm is The Little Girl Area, as I like to call it. This, my friends, is where the little chicken magic happens.
Little Girl Area
All the silkie and frizzle chickens live in here, as they do not fly, and are more prone to predators due to their small size and inability to find shelter quickly. Therefore, even though I'm not a fan of fencing my chickens, I do so for these girlz own safety.
I've long been a fan of these little puff balls for a long time, and currently have 6 adults and 3 teens in this special place. Let's talk about them.
Chompchi you so pretty
Chompchi has been with me for some time, and although I think she's in the older age range, she still lays eggs here and there and is certainly a wonderful chick mama who loves to sit on eggs - hers or anyone else's. She's a "self blue" or lavender silkie who is sweet and kind to all the others. Sometimes I think this kindness of hers is what keeps her at the lower end of the pecking order. To me, she's a super star, beautiful and her personality and good nature is something I can always count on with her. She's a good egg. And speaking of.....she's sitting on eggs right now and the hatching has begun.
Dot, pretty much lead hen
Dorothy is a friend of Chompchi's, yet she's more of the leader in this group. Dorothy rivals with another hen, who between the 2 of them, are co-flock leaders. Dorothy is more assertive than the others, but I think it's because she's in charge. Whenever she sees me, she checks to see if there's treats. She's a big mealworm fan, and I see her little dance she does around my feet asking nicely. It's hard to tell her no. Out of all the mamas, Dorothy is the only one not sitting on eggs right now. She keeps watch for treats and hangs out walking around wondering where everyone went.
Such a good mama
Ah, sweet Frankie. Remember that one friend you had growing up where everything scared her, and she'd scream? That's Frankie. She's a screamer. Oh, you there, you scared me! Wait, you're walking too fast towards me, ah! I'm sitting on my eggs, get away, squawk! She's very verbal. But that Frankie, she's a good mama, the best. She'll sit on anyones eggs and raise their babies as well. When she first arrived with us, I thought she may be a rooster, so I named her Frank. Then, I realized when she laid an egg, he was a she, and Frank turned into Frankie. She's given us several rounds of chicks, and her babies turn out snow white and gorgeous. That reminds me of the time I named one of her babies Snow White and for the longest time (until they come of age) I thought she was a beautiful princess. But no, Snow White was really Prince Charming and therefore went to live with a friend who desired a silkie rooster. Given a chance, Frankie will have more chicks. All the roosters seem to find her very attractive - and she is. Attractive and independent, for sure. She prefers to be left alone and admired from afar when it comes to humans. She too, right now, is sitting on eggs.
Those silly teenagers....
We are growing up!
The trio is strong 💪
These 3 teenagers came from a local feed store not all that long ago. They are growing into real beauties, and are not from any bloodline on our farm, which means I can breed my girlz with them if one happens to be a rooster. So far, I'm thinking 2 are hens and 1 is a rooster, but one will never know until they grow up and crow or lay an egg. Sometimes you can tell the difference between a male and female by their comb, but it's not a guarantee. We'll wait and see what these precious teens turn out to be. It's hard to name them not knowing their sex.
Next, onto my frizzle de sizzles. I've introduced them in prior blogs so will keep this brief. I currently have 3 pretty frizzles:
This Black Beauty has brown feathers mixed in ❤️
She’s all coco coloring 💕
My SaltNPeppa 😍
These girlz are not ones to be held. They are not screamers about it, they just prefer their own private time to do their own things. They are hesitant about treats, but are coming around to the idea of mealworms. Will I have more frizzles? Maybe. Because they are all sitting on eggs - AND the eggs are starting to hatch. Thus far, we have 3 or 4 little chicks hatched. The reason I'm not sure how many we have is because if you try to pick up a silkie or frizzle mama, they get all excited and upset and can stomp their little babies accidentally. So I'm trying to let them all do their mama-thing. They actually do best when I leave them alone. Nature is like that.
I'm not able to tell which of the chicks are from which mama just yet. What I do know is that Carlos is likely the dad of them all. He visited us for a couple of months, and then went back home after the mamas started sitting on their eggs. It's hard to say how many eggs will really hatch - but the process has begun. It's nerve-racking for this silkie and frizzle grandmama to wait and watch. But I just mess it all up when I get overly involved.
With intent and dedication, they sit
I love all my little girlz, and while I have a full age range of them right now, I feel so blessed. They make my heart happy. We’ll see what God blesses us with as far as chicks go. 🙏
It’s a month to remember those you love like David, our friend Darrell, and millions of others around the world with Head and Neck Cancers. As we strive to bring awareness, we stay grounded in knowing that God is an awesome and mighty God. Miracles happen. Prayer is peace. I’m reminded by God, Rumi and Maya Angelou that welcoming everything that comes my way with gratitude is where I will find joy. Cancer lives with us and many others, and I’m thankful for all her blessings and teachings in my life.
Carry on in peace my friends,