Friday, November 14, 2014

In Your Wildest Dreams

I woke up this morning exhausted. You know the feeling. You’re relieved to discover that you’re really in your bed, and all the drama surrounding you a moment ago is vaporizing. In my case, being on unemployment for several months (reality), I felt really good to be working (dream). I reported to the hospital floor, got report on my patients, and then made my way to the medication cart to begin getting their pills ready. And it went downhill from there. There were no medicine cups to put the pills in, only a few crumpled coffee-filter sort of paper things crammed in the corner of one of the drawers. It turned out that some of the pills were missing, and then some of my patients! I had really tried to get a head start to make sure everybody got good care, but instead, I found myself alone in a long, shiny-floored corridor with blue walls.

At that moment a dog snout shoved my arm. I opened my eyes. No corridor, no medication cart, just my warm dog who wanted to go outside (reality). And who maybe had sensed my frustration. Gratefully I hauled myself out of bed and let him out.

I shouldn’t complain, but why stop now? That dream wasn’t as bad as some of the others. I’m sure you’ve had those dreams where your foot doesn’t reach the brake pedal of your car and you can’t stop!

Or the running dream. A few nights ago I found myself on a medieval farm, like a TV movie. I decided to hide because I knew I’d stand out with my 21st century jeans and hair. I also realized that anybody I encountered was probably going to speak a different language, Middle English if I were lucky. There were some barns nearby, so I ran toward one of them. I could hear my sneakers plibbing loudly on the hard ground. I smelled the muskiness of cattle or horses. I kept running and running, then feeling the splintery wood along the outside of the barn before slipping inside to figure out my next move. The dog woke me up out of that dream, too.

What about basement and tunnel dreams? Have you ever had those? I don’t even want to talk about those.

But there’s another kind of dream, the floating kind. I’m usually in a room with other people, and we can all levitate ourselves to the ceiling. It’s always pretty easy, just a matter of concentrating and feeling the release as our bodies float up. Upon awakening one morning after a particularly realistic floating dream, I KNEW I could really do it. I’ve watched Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson enough to know about alternate universes. I KNEW it could be done if I could just find the spot in my brain to focus the energy. I’ve never told this to another living soul until now, but I tried to float: I went into the living room and stood there. And concentrated. I directed my mind’s eye inward and … I … concentrated …

Nothing happened.

I must have done something wrong because I KNEW I could rise up. It just didn’t happen, though, and I felt betrayed by the cosmos. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted. The businesses of the day crowded in, smothering the magical moment, but the secret belief remained that I could float up if I really tried.

That was a while ago. Since then I went on to attempt a few things that I’d wanted to do for years, remembering that saying about what we would do if we knew we could not fail. The first time I’d heard that, I was shocked to realize that I’d been living my life wordlessly expecting my projects to go limp. In the past several months, imagining the hands of the clock turning ominously faster, I began mustering the nerve to leap forward. And succeeding! I’m not failing! Good things are happening because I’m making them happen!

It’s very scary to take risks, even when they feel right. But you can expect your dreams to become real when you concentrate your energy on your goal and lunge for it.
Maybe I’ll see you on the ceiling!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Even though she knew she was dying, my mother’s last year was one of her happiest. She lived in a small apartment on Downing Street with tall windows. She slept a lot that last year. Many times I came to visit and found her snoring peacefully across her bed in the living room, bathed in sunlight. One of the things that added significantly to her sense of security was the knowledge that the police and fire stations were just a few blocks away. Although she always phoned me for medical emergencies, I often redirected her to call the 911 guys because their response time was quicker than mine would have been. They were stronger than me, too. When she became so weak that she slid down onto the the floor, they treated her with respect when they helped her back up, often joking with her and flattering her as if she were their mother. When her oxygen condenser shut off late one night during a power outage, she called me in a wheezing panic, too frightened to remember how to hook up her portable oxygen tank. I called 911 for her, and within a very few minutes she was back to normal. More than once a police officer willingly went to do a safety check on her at my request when I was unable to drop by.

Although she had friends, caregivers, and family, there was no one on this earth who could have done for her what they did that last year of her life, and I will be grateful till the end of mine.

Unfortunately, budget cuts now threaten the ability of these members of public safety services to provide this kind of personalized attention. State funding reductions have left police officer and firefighter positions unfilled and equipment replacement delayed. Although a few years ago the city received a non-renewable SAFER grant – Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response – it is due to expire early next year, and Piqua will likely lose six of its firefighters. Statistics show that communities with a decrease in crew size experience an increase in loss of life and property. Few people are aware that Piqua has the highest rate of forcible rape in the nation for a city our size, according to City Manager Gary Huff, and ranks abnormally low in police staffing. Having more police officers patrolling the streets would mean higher visibility and greater availability to protect citizens against crime. Adequate staffing also improves a department’s ability to conduct timely investigations and lessens the demand for overtime. Strong police presence improves the local economy because people feel safer going out.

Tuesday is Election Day. Piqua citizens will have the opportunity to vote FOR the Police and Fire Public Safety Levy, improving emergency services to the community. The levy asks for a 0.25% increase: one fourth of one percent, equal to twenty-five cents out of every hundred dollars, to be collected only from citizens earning at least $30,000 annually; social security, pensions, military pay, and public assistance will remain unaffected. Voting for the Public Safety Levy means that for less than the cost of a Netflix or Hulu subscription, you can count on getting life-saving help when you really need it the most.

And make your mother happy, too.

To learn more, check out City Manager Gary Huff’s blog at

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

P.S. To The Next To The Last Morning Of Vacation

So I went ahead and published the dawn blog, thinking that nothing else of note would come to pass until later in the day. But you know, there are times when it's DELIGHTFUL to be WRONG, and I was WRONG! 

My little brother Garrett Wolfe in California posted this on Facebook:

Please watch, enjoy, and hexaflexagate!

The Next To The Last Morning Of Vacation

Cool and rainy nights are good for sleeping, especially with the warm dog. If the cat wouldn't drool and suckle, he could join us, but the drooling and suckling really bother me, reminding me of a past bad relationship I want to forget, especially at night in bed. 

Although Dobro has lived here over a year, his company in the bed is much more recent. As you can see in the picture, his large scars are dry. The last open area finally closed over in August, exactly one year after his nearly fatal experience being hit and dragged on the highway. No bones were broken but large areas of hide were gashed, ripped, sheared, loosened, mangled, and otherwise damaged. I'll be forever grateful to the officer of the Centerville Police Department who stood by him at the bottom of the embankment while I drove to the site; he then helped carry Dobro up the embankment and led me to the emergency veterinary clinic. The Troy Animal Hospital calls Dobro their "Miracle Dog" because he survived shock, infection, and a long recovery requiring treatments similar to those received by victims of serious burns. He suffered through repeated vet visits so his many wounds could be cleaned and repaired. For months I gave him multiple medications taken by mouth and also applied to his skin. He had to stay on a special high protein diet to aid in the massive regrowth of new tissue and to replace the protein continuously seeping from several areas over his body. In a nutshell, that was why Dobro didn't sleep in the bed until just recently. He seems very appreciative, and usually pauses and looks at me as if asking permission before jumping aboard.

There was no creamer of any kind in the house this morning, no soy milk, no almond milk, no hemp milk, no flaxseed milk, no canned milk, no powdered milk, no ice cream, so I had to get creative with the morning coffee. I ended up putting the coffee in the blender with a huge dollop of Greek yogurt, adding a huge dollop of locally-produced honey and the last of the old cinnamon that had been my mother's. I blended it instead of whipping it so it wouldn't be too foamy. It was okay, and I mean that not in a dull, disappointed tone of voice, "it was okay," but in a perky, pleased tone of voice, "IT WAS OKAY!"

Sipping the coffee creation in the pre-dawn darkness with the faithful hound curled up against my flank, I found a new blog online: In spite of all the cruelties revealed daily in the media, my faith in the goodness of humanity remains uncrushed because of the growing number of softer voices, sharing their observations, their poems, their images, their gentle souls. Alongside his blog, Black Pete offers the following quote, reflecting so much that is wrong in our society but fixable:

"Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left."                                                               -- ecologist and writer Aldo Leopold

He also blogged a surprisingly lovely poem describing damp laundry hanging on the clothes line: 

The Hanging of Clothes

I am pleased to be hanging
the damp clothing in the welcoming morning,
laundry remnants of closeted life,
our privacy laid bare in the sunlight.

The sheets, clouds of white floating
downward onto my naked body 
but an hour ago, zephyrs like benedictions
before I dared the day,
now shielding the flag-coloured shirts
and sturdy pants, the ribbony socks,
and the underthings--

just clothing, no more than shadows
of the bodies they cover,
no more than suggestions of the reality
of our being.

For reason of this last, I do not linger
over my wife's underthings, hanging them
as casually as my own, though her body
revealed is beauty as terrifying
as the Biblical army with banners,
stopping my breath.
No more than shadows of our bodies,
yet there are old country people 
who will not hang men's and women's underthings
on the same line, perhaps because they are shadows
of that which stops my breath
and pounds my heart. Maybe they are right.
But the ordinariness of this damp clothing
arrayed, pinned, spinning gently in the breeze,
is no shadow, but itself a glory
as the moisture rises like released spirit
into the sunlit air, in which I marvel
at the extraordinariness of the pairing 
of us two many years before, 
on just such a morning.

The morning darkness outside is giving hints that the sun is on the way and I already feel that the day is good.

Monday, October 1, 2012


**Bye, Baby**

No more lonely, cold nights or hearing that I'm bad.
No more growling belly from the meals I never had.
No more scorching sunshine with a water bowl that's dry. 
No more complaining neighbors about the noise when I cry.
No more hearing "shut up," "get down," or "get out of here"! 
No more feeling disliked, only peace is in the air. 
Euthanasia is a blessing, though some still can't see 
Why I was ever born if I weren't meant to be.
My last day of living was the best I ever had.
Someone held me very close, I could see she was very sad.
I kissed the lady's face, and she hugged me as she cried.
I wagged my tail to thank her, then I closed my eyes and died.

Written by an animal shelter volunteer in Massena, NY

This poem was posted from Shannon Marie's ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN Facebook album of pound dogs that have been put down. 

Please educate yourself before deciding to adopt an animal just because you think he or she looks cute; different breeds have different needs. 

Please spay/neuter your pets so the pounds won't fill up with discarded dogs and cats. 

Please check out NO KILL alternatives in your state:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day Six, Part Two: Elvis Warms Up The Chill

                 Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tom's nursing home held a summer party today that welcomed family members and friends, featuring bingo and  hot food and Elvis and a home-made pie auction to benefit the Alzheimer's Association. It was kind of chilly and Tom didn't feel good at the time, but we knew we'd enjoy the memory of the afternoon afterwards. We have an agreement to make ourselves do that kind of thing a lot, to make ourselves attend events even when we really just want to stay warm and comfy in bed. Arthritis and fatigue and disability and getting older are a bear, but ya got to 
consider the alternative.

I myself was never a huge Elvis fan, but I'm becoming a huge Elvis tribute artist fan. They are invariably sexy and charming, and Jason Griffith was no exception! 

His sound technician was a young woman who knew every word to every song and sang softly along. Twice during the show she donned a large decorative bib-like cloth over her front to nurse her beautiful new baby while the adoring audience rocked with Elvis. It seemed natural and normal.

During the intermission, the maintenance guy for the nursing home, who is also a professional auctioneer, auctioned off a table load of home-made pies donated by employees and other people. It was my first time hearing a real auction. I wonder how old that traditional singsong style of calling is! I went ahead and got one since I would be buying one from the grocery store eventually anyway. Eating pumpkin pie has become a really sad ritual since Mom died, so I although always buy one but so far never fully enjoy it. This way I at least supported a good cause, the Alzheimer's Association, as well as a living person, culinary artist Michelle Stollman, who made the most beautiful leaf design crust I've ever seen! It was tasty, too, the right balance of flakiness with crustiness. If Tom had felt better, I'd have stuck my finger in the pie and let him suck down a few bites of the succulent pumpkin, but he was just too sleepy. Look how beautiful the pie looks on Tom's lap on his woolen powwow blanket: 

Look in the background of this Elvis action shot and see the blonde woman in the print scrub top. That is the pie artist Michelle Stollman talking to Auctioneer Tim!

Two hunka hunka burnin' loves in one photo! Life is good!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


It's cold and raining, and it's Thursday. I was confused this morning because even though I've kept very close track on the day of the week, it still seemed too far along, like, "THURSDAY ALREADY??" Dobro didn't care, though, he was just happy to be in the bed on fleece blankets.

I took McCartney the cat to the vet for an old man check-up and shots, and brought Dobro along for the ride. Learn from my mistake: old cardboard pet carriers on damp days get warped and soft and will not hold an unwilling cat! The wire rabbit carrier held him, though. He was pissed, but observing Dobro's joy in the van, he got used to the idea.

There was a big pretty girl at the office but I could only take a long-distance shot out of respect for McCartney.

 Did you know that cats can be farters just as some dogs are? "Tooters" was the word I believe the vet used. Except for tooting and tooth tartar, McCartney is totally tip-top! I apologize for the alliteration. 

 Dobro was so good waiting. He really likes going there because he knows that he's among friends. 

 Once back home, McCartney was happy to take off, while Dobro and I decided to take a nap. Gotta love vacation.