Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Quick Update on My Niece's Condition


And I'll serenade Venus,

I'll serenade Mars,

And I'll burn with the fire of ten million stars,

And in time, and in time,

We will all be stars.....

("I Sing The Body Electric", Michael Gore & Dean Pitchford)


Quick Update on My Niece's Condition:

My darling niece is, unfortunately, in the hospital--- for the second day--- with a severe case of pyelonephritis.

It came out of the blue and skipped the "preliminary" stages---going right to the serious stage. My little niece is still, according to my sister (who is sitting a constant vigil at her bedside) looking wan and lethargic---and still with fever.

But the doctor has seen her twice today but states that the antibiotics are helping, thank goodness.

From the very bottom of my heart, I sincerely thank you all for your prayers and good wishes---thank you so very, very much--- all of you.

I'll keep you informed....



Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Faraway Nearby...and Buffalo-lology 101


Out in the faraway nearby,

Can your hear my call?

Out in the faraway nearby,

I'm breaking down the walls,

Till you're here to stay,

Out from the faraway . . . .


("The Faraway Nearby", Cyndi Lauper)

I am going to have to write a quick post here because I am waiting for an important cell phone call---and I am extremely worried and nervous. In fact, I am pacing the floor with worry, trying to knit, and watching TV to keep my mind off of it till I get that call.

It is because of my niece--- the light of my life, the loveliest girl you've ever seen, who is a freshman at Texas Women's University....a good girl who got a 4.0 average in her first semester even though she works all weekend at a part-time job.....and calls me Auntie Bo.

This is what happened.

My niece became ill during the festivities at my mother's Memorial Day Gala. She had already been feeling bad for a few days and was feeling somewhat worse. I assessed her and was frightened to see that she was running a fever of over 102 with abdominal pain and vomiting.

I contacted an ER doctor friend of mine (a guy I used to work with in an Emergency Room for years--- and who I think is One Of The Greatest ER Doctors That Have Ever Lived) and he confirmed what I already knew in my heart----that her symptoms warranted an urgent need to be seen in an Emergency Room as soon as possible.

And so my sister cut their holiday plans short, packed quickly, and is--- as we speak--- speeding her way to Dallas just as fast as she can in order to take my niece to a Dallas hospital. Lord, I hope she doesn't have an accident by speeding so fast.

And she has promised to call me when she gets to the Emergency Room and finds out what is wrong with my niece.

It's hard to wait. And so I knit, I watch re-runs of "City Confidential" on the TV, I drink some good orange juice with no pulp in it, I stand on the balcony and look at the beautiful new hybrid impatiens and the lush fern my mother and sister gave me.....and I wait, and I worry....

So I am rather at a loss for words, but I do have some presents for you. I have the "Last Chapter of the Mockingbird Family"---which, to me, is very poignant and sad because I was so happy while they were here----but yet I have been very lonely and sad since they left, although I know that it is Mother Nature's way....

And I have some other surprises for you, too. I wasn't quite sure that I would be able to get one of them for you---but I got it, hot damn! The others are unexpected surprises that I was able to get by the skin of my teeth---by almost getting myself killed.

(But get them, I did, dang it....)

Anyway, here is the picture of the baby mockingbirds as they continued to grow and turn into "real" little birdies, with feathers and wings instead of downy little lumps. They got so big that they had to practically squeeze themselves together to fit into the nest.

In fact, they got so big that sometimes they had to STAND ON TOP OF EACH OTHER--heh!--to demand food! I love the look on the face of the one on the bottom left----he looks rather irked about having to be stomped on, don't you think?

And yes, the father still pecked me every chance he got, as you can see from the picture below. He was rather proud of himself for perfecting his "zoom and swoop" maneuver, managing to learn to do it in such a way that he was first able to give me a really good view of the disaproving look on his face before he punctured my head with his beak. (I'm still amazed that birds can frown like that....)

Sometimes the little babies would hide their heads down into the nest when I would come to take a picture, which was cute because all that showed was their little tail-feathers sticking up!

And then the fateful day came. One day, while I was at work, two of the babies flew away and were gone when I came home.

But one had stayed, and I wondered why. I worried---was it because he couldn't fly? Was something wrong? Or was he just getting his nerve up? I worried about him all night, feeling sad for him, wondering if he was lonely for his siblings in that now-roomy nest....

The next morning I jumped out of bed at sunrise and ran out to the balcony to see if he was still there. He was. He was perched on the edge of the nest, staring at me with a very strange look on his face. He allowed me to get right up close to him and talk to him while I snapped his picture. I asked him why he hadn't flown yet and whether he was afraid or not. And then he started gazing in the direction of the rising sun.....

And then suddenly my camera stated: "Memory Card Full". So I ran into the apartment and grabbed an extra memory card. But when I returned to the balcony all I found empty nest. A heartbreakingly empty nest.

He had flown into the new day's sunlight...

And to my dying day I will believe that the little baby bird had waited for me that say goodbye to me before he flew away.....

Anyway, no phone call yet.

I wish that Dallas weren't so far away from Podunk. Unfortunately it's forever away. Miles and miles and miles. Hours and hours and hours...

Dallas is such an emotional dichotomy to me, here in my self-imposed exile. I shun it as much I need it.

It's so faraway--- but sometimes I wish it were nearby....

Anyway, as I await my phone call, I have some other surprises for you.

One of them I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to get for you----but I was able to get it! Remember I told you that my mother mentioned that a couple of robins were building a nest near one of her gardens?

Well, during her Memorial Day Gala, with the help of one of the men and a 6-foot ladder, I was able to get this picture to show you:

Beautiful blue robins' eggs!! And I think my mother described it best when she said: "Only God could have created that particular shade of blue..."

She's right, don't you think? (And don't worry---I will leave the poor things alone. My mother lives too far away for me to get up there to take pictures of the baby robins like I did the mockingbirds. And also, leaning out precariously in the air from that tall ladder definitely wasn't as easy as snapping pics in a hanging pot on my own balcony....)

And here's my other surprise.

But before you call me such words as "insane", "stupid", "certifiable", "nuts" or "looney as a toon", let me just explain, okay?

I mean, HEY, it was my BIG CHANCE. Everybody thinks I'm crazy, but all that I wanted was a simple picture, okay? Is it SO DANG WRONG to want a close-up picture of a buffalo? I ask you, is it so wrong for an amateur photographer to want a picture of a buffalo? I mean, they even live in my own damn neighborhood, for Christ's sakes--- and so I think it is just pure-dee RUDE (and flat-out UN-NEIGHBORLY) that the one stupid buffalo acted like he did when I took a picture of his buddy.

And okay, yes, I will admit that I did have to be saved by a quick-witted ranch-hand who jumped from a moving vehicle to save my stupid life. But dang it, I got the pics, didn't I? And the ranch-hand is okay, too. (Er...I think his blood pressure came down quite nicely and I did check it several times for awhile before I left to make sure....) (When I left, he was muttering something to the effect of "going to the bootlegger" but I'm not quite sure, as I was trying to get out of his hair just as soon as I could because he was ALSO talking about me needing a "good switchin' like his grandmother used to give to dadgum fool children"....)

But really, I totally expected that stupid buffalo to act in that that way. After all, buffaloes are very similar to regular cow bulls, who are amongst the most obnoxious and rude creatures on God's Green Earth. And---at least I learned a very good lesson about Buffalo-lology.

Ya hear me? NOW I KNOW......

Now. I. Know.

I know now that if a buffalo is real quiet.....and you think he's feeling just fine and dandy about having his stupid picture taken simply because he isn't stomping the dirt and snorting bull snot out of his nostrils like regular cow bulls do when they're pissed off.....

....but then he suddenly scares the beejeezus out of you and makes your hair stand on end by making this totally HORRIFYING bellowing noise that practically busts your eardrums and sounds like somebody set off every chicken-farm steam whistle and fire-house alarm within a 35 mile radius.....

Then you want to get the hell out of there.

(Or else have an alert ranch-hand save your stupid ass...)

Oh, and here's another handy lesson in Buffalo-lology.

Whatever you do, don't forget to keep ahold of your camera or you could die for NOTHING!!--- which is most definitely NOT what I intend to do, dammit. By golly, if I have to die-by-buffalo-stomp-goring, it's going to be WORTH IT, dammit!

Because if, by some unfortunate piece of luck, I end up showing up early at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, and St. Peter is standing there with his hands on his hips, rolling his eyes with disgust because he's highly pissed off at me for losing my life to a stupid mad buffalo simply because I wanted to get a "good picture"--- I want to be able to say to him: "Hey listen, Saint Pete-Bob. Go on and admit it---it's like taking risks when fishing for the big sharks off Galveston. You know damn well that you'd have done the same damn thing if you'd had the chance. And I'll go down in history at the hospital for dying like a good Podunk Cowgirl and Road Nurse......with my cowgirl boots on and my camera still in my hand. Now look at this shot---does he look like a complete asshole or what?...."

Anyway, I am awaiting the call.

(Dear God, please don't let anything be wrong with my niece..... ) * *

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yikes, I've Been Tagged! Plus An Update On The Mockingbird Family....


Yes, the male parent of the baby mockingbirds still attacks me for coming near the nest. He attacks me every time I come onto the balcony, even if I'm not near the nest and am simply out on the balcony innocently watering the other flower pots. Here's a shot of him swooping in to try an attack on me.


Anyhoo, RN Someday has tagged me for a meme !

You know, I've never been included in a meme before so it's a new experience.

The rules of the meme are as follows:

You simply list eight random facts/habits about yourself. And feel free to write a little bit about those things if you'd like. (I absolutely LOVE to read this stuff because I think it causes people to be a little less inhibited, encouraging them to divulge fun and fascinating things about themselves!)

(And don't forget to post these rules. And then at the end of your posting, tag a bunch of people and leave a comment on their blogs to let them know they're tagged).

Hmmm.....eight "random facts".....

That's a tough one since I am pretty up front about my personality traits. (And the first one that I'd tell you is ruined because you guys already know that I talk and sing to animals....)

And while I'm writing, I'll slip in some pictures of the baby mockingbirds' progress. I am absolutely having one of the most thrilling times of my life watching the growth of these dear babies.

Okay, here goes with the meme:

1. I am extremely obsessive-compulsive in my habits. I even organize my refrigerator. During one of my marriages, I once actually used a label-maker to put LABELS on my pantry shelves saying things like "Canned Vegetables" or "Spices" ----LIKE YOU COULDN'T TELL WHAT THOSE ITEMS WERE WITHOUT THE DANG LABELS!!!

Every one of my ex-husbands learned to amuse themselves by deliberately "messing things up" that I had arranged "just right", simply to enjoy watching me run around frantically straightening those items back up.

Once, I lived with a doctor who was irritated by this facet of my personality. His revenge was that he would always move this one doily that I had carefully and deliberately placed "a certain way" on a hall shelf. I had it placed triangularly, "point hanging down" over the shelf edge. And every single day, he'd secretly turn it, changing it to a rectangular position without the point hanging down. In fact, he and I spent TWO DANG YEARS moving that stupid doily back and forth. (I think that's why I left him---over that stupid doily.....)

(And for that matter, what kind of doctor would do that to his lady? I mean, really---he was the CHIEF OF STAFF at the hospital, for God's sakes, and was supposedly a "respectable", "professional" doctor---but here he was at his own home moving this stupid doily around just to irk me, which it did no end.)

(Doctors can be strange creatures sometimes...)

2. I talk to myself in Walmart. In fact, I talk to myself everywhere. I've done it since I was a child. People will always tell me that old cliche: "Well, just as long as you don't answer yourself..." Answer myself? Hell, I ARGUE WITH MYSELF.

And for that matter, I'm so crazy that even my Post-It's argue with themselves. I will write a Post-It to myself telling myself to do such-and-such. And then, on second thought, I'll write another Post-It that says something to the effect of: "If such and such doesn't work, then do such and such instead." And not only that---but I'll even write DUPLICATE Post-It's of this stuff and put them in alternate locations in order to ensure that that I see them no matter where I am.....

3. The most embarassing moment of my life (which, since I was too young to realize, was really my mother's most embarassing moment of her life) was when my mother allowed me to play Scrabble with her and a very sophisticated, elegant, and very delicate spinster lady named Miss Carnette when I was 6 years old. I had learned to read at age 4 and was a worthy Scrabble opponent at a young age.

However, during Scrabble games at that young age, my vocabulary repertoire sometimes failed me. But....I did know enough to understand that if I arranged consonents and vowels into certain formations, that I could perhaps accidentally form a "real" word. And so, during the Scrabble game, whenever I had difficulty coming up with a "real" word with my available letters--- I would start fiddling around with the vowels and consonents, putting them into various combos, figuring that if I moved them into the right formation that I just might get lucky. But most of the time when I did that I was unsuccessful, spelling out some ridiculous group of letters like "thark" or something----resulting in everybody laughing at me.

Anyway, at this Scrabble game, whereupon my mother had served quite a fancy tea service to this very elegant and ultra-ladylike Miss Carnette, it came to be my "turn". And again, I was having trouble figuring out what to do with the letters I had. So I performed my usual above-mentioned fiddling around with vowels and consonents...

...and then asked the ladies quite seriously: "Do the letters 'T'-'U'-'R'-'D' spell anything?"

(Poor Miss Carnette turned a deathly shade of pale and almost choked on her tea....) (My mother gave me dagger looks and told me quite stonily that NO, THOSE particular letters DID NOT form a "real" word....) (It was years before I found out that she had lied, thus denying me my points in that game.)

4. Would you believe it but I actually did the same dang thing a second time, 3 years later? Thus, the second most embarassing moment of my life (which, again, was really my mother's second most embarassing moment of her life) was when I was again playing Scrabble again--- this time with my parents and some of their diplomatic friends. And, again, I couldn't figure out which dang word I could make with my available letters. So, again, I fiddled around with the letters, finally coming up with a consonent/vowel combo which looked like it might be a "real" word---- and then politely asked the group if the letters 'S'- 'H'-'I'-'T' spelled anything?...

(Hey, you've got to give me a break on this one. First of all, they should have learned the first dang time. And also, I was an overly protected child, attended school overseas, my parents didn't cuss--- and I just flat out didn't KNOW, okay? )

(I'm just very grateful that I hadn't asked that particular one in front of Miss Carnette. She was so frail that she probably would have fainted with her tea-cup still clutched in her lovely, manicured hand....)

(My mother never let me play Scrabble with her friends again. But I did play Scrabble a lot with the aforementioned doctor---until one night when I hit the Triple Word score with the word "doily". And he was the unhumorous type of person who didn't appreciate my sarcasm.....)

(Or it could have been the fact that I hollered: "HAH!" when I laid the letters down and then proceeded to LOUDLY count up my points, one by one, writing them down on the score sheet with large and obnoxious flourishes of my wrist...)

Anyway, as you can see, the male mockingbird still hates me so much that he isn't just satisfied with pecking me to smithereens....noooooooo, he's got to sit up there and give me hateful "looks". This particular look is ominous---and usually means he's about to attack.

And you have NO IDEA how much I want to holler up to him a totally insulting and defiant sentence that would really floor him. But...sigh... I try to hold my tongue so that my neighbors don't find out that I am quite proficient with the "F" word and can come up with some"colorful" cussing sentences when provoked....

5. I can fish better than any professional "angler" fisherman (or fisherlady). And I'm tricky, too.

In fact, I once had to babysit the aforementioned doctor's bratty kid from his first marriage--- and I had to rack my brains on what to do with that un-pleasable, rude, spoiled kid all day long. I had always tried to treat that kid as kindly as I could but it was useless---he just didn't like me. I was especially irked one time when that little butt-head remarked that I was "the female equivalent of Uncle Buck" .

Anyway, on that day, since we lived on a lake, the kid insisted on learning to fish---but we didn't have ANY dang fishing equipment. I told him that fact but he griped his head off and threatened to tattle on me to his dad that I had "ignored" him all day.

So I thought I'd trick the little idgit and set him up with some "fishing equipment"--- and then let him sit his bratty little butt on the pier all day. I knew he wouldn't catch a dang thing and that I'd get to amuse myself by watching him get bored to death sitting on the pier all day long.

Here's how I did it: I knew that he knew NOTHING about real fishing equipment and so I thought I was safe. I got a tree-twig from the garden, attached some household string to it for "fishing line", placed an un-latched safety pin on the end for a "hook"--- and then placed a piece of Oscar Meyer balogney onto the "hook" for bait.

I then said solemnly to the kid: "Okay, I'm going to show you how to do it--- and then you have to sit here and wait for a fish to bite, okay? It usually takes a long time. So I don't want to hear no whining outta you if you don't catch anything, because you're a first-timer after all."

So..... we went to the pier and I threw the "line" into the water.

....and then, to my utter mortification, suddenly the biggest damn fish you've ever seen in your entire life grabbed that balogney "bait"----

...and I was so surprised that I reflexively jerked it out of the water----

....and when I jerked it out of the water, that big whopper fish flew through the air over both our heads, still attached to that balogney bait with a death grip---and then I "landed" it on the pier before us. And thus, both me and that bratty kid stood there in complete shock and amazement, our eyes so wide open that we both looked like gigged frogs, watching that stupid fish flop around on the pier---less than 60 seconds after I'd thrown the durn "line" into the water....

(The only good thing that came out of that whole mess was that the kid was so impressed that he treated me a lot better after that.)

6. My parents were diplomats and so we lived all over the world when I was growing up. Unfortunately, due to the fact that our household help usually did not speak English, and the neighborhood kids I played with also didn't speak English---and also I was speaking three different languages at a very early age (I even dreamed in those languages)---my abilities in the grammar and writing of the English language went way downhill. And so, when my father had to interrupt his overseas work to take a 9-month tour in Chicago to finish his Master's Degree, I was enrolled in a "regular" American school.

(If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the little birdie-babies sticking their heads up out of the nest to get fed, which they do whenever mama comes around, of course. So CUTE!!!! )

Anyway, after taking one look at me and the way I spoke/wrote English, the school authorities in Chicago immediately placed me into the "remedial" English class. And many of the other kids in the school were very cruel, calling the remedial English class "the retard class"---and so I was teased mercilessly and called "a retard". And not only that, but the teacher ALSO ridiculed me the first time I wrote a paper in that class! (And that hurt my feelings more than being called a "retard".)

7. I have always had a very low self-esteem for various reasons (not just for the fact that I'm a recovering alcholic and have a lot of self-disgust about that.) And so, if anybody ever does anything nice for me, I will NEVER forget it and will hold an undying gratitude and loyalty to them for the rest of my life---even if what they did was a simple little thing that they may not have realized had thrilled me to death. (And they may not necessarily know how I feel about their kindness--- because I try not to embarass them by getting down on my knees and professing my gratitude to them--- but let me assure you, I'm grateful and never forget it.)

8. In fact, I'm very grateful to RN Someday for thinking enough of me to include me in this meme! THANK YOU RN SOMEDAY!!!!

Whew! Doing a meme is a kind of weird experience---kind of cathartic in a way!

Anyhoo, as for my mockingbird baby update, as you can see from the pictures I have continued my stubborn and dangerous pursuit of snapping pictures of the baby mockingbirds---and I am happy to announce that they are all healthy and doing just fine, YIPPEE!!!

(And I've got the peck marks on my body to prove it.....)

Gosh, I love those little things. It's going to break my heart when they finally mature enough to fly the coop....

They're getting bigger, their down is turning into feathers, and they're eating vigorously. I do note one "stronger" fellow who probably hogs the food, but the other two are strong also and are doing great. That fourth egg never hatched. (Which makes me sad.)

Anyway, the male bird has pecked the hell out of me. These days, he doesn't even wait till I get out there to start his aggression. If he even sees me at the balcony's glass doors, he will land on the balcony railing in front of me and start doing weird body "posturings" with his wings and tail feathers to "warn" and threaten me. It looks kind of like Bird Karate, where they go into those karate positions and make that noise: "Aaaiaiiiieeeeeee----YAH!" before they karate chop you or something.

(I wonder what he would do if I went into that type of posture and made a karate noise at HIM?)

(Okay, okay, I'll admit it---I DID do that on the balcony one day and that is one of the reasons that the Land-lady and some of the neighbors think that I need to be committed to an insane asylum....)

For fun, I'm doing a pictorial book of this whole thing, and I'm going to put narration in there with some funny stickers. (You know, those funny photo stickers that look like little "balloons" of conversation coming from the person's mouth? I've got tons of those sticker packs and I am going to try to make the project into a cute little "story".)

I got the bright idea of "getting help" with that male bird one day, and so I talked Belinda and my new secretary into coming out to my apartment the other day----and I gave them strict instructions to wave their hands around in a distracting fashion which might cause the male mockingbird to leave me alone long enough for me to snap a good picture. You know what those two chicken-hearted idgits did? The minute the bird appeared and started to swoop, they panicked and began screaming in fright--- and fled the balcony! They stood and watched my plight from the safety of my living room. The noise caused the landlady to again come out from her office to see what in the world was going on, confirming her already solid belief that I am as nutty as a fruitcake.

You'll notice that I've done as my sister instructed and left that hanging plant alone, in order not to disturb the nest. Of course the plant is dying and no longer has flowers. My sister felt bad that I lost a brand new plant and so she sent me an email this morning saying that the "Flower Fairy" would visit me at my mother's planned Memorial Day Gala when we all gather there next weekend!

(Yee-hah!! The Flower Fairy! I'm looking forward to THAT, I can assure you!!!)

Okay....time for me to tag some people for the meme. Hmmmm.... let me see..... (I wish I could tag everybody!)

So here they are (and I hope they don't mind!):

First some medical bloggers (including a doctor, so pay attention doc---and I hope you're not the type who aggravates poor innocent ladies by moving their doilies...):

Madness: Tales of an Emergency Room Nurse

Not Nurse Ratched

A Day in the Life of an Ambulance Driver

Chocolate and Raspberries

Psstt---Hey I'm Over Here!


Running With Scissors

Next: some knitting bloggers! (Go knitters, go knitters......)

Knitting Rose

Random Thoughts in Funky Fringe

Anyway, have fun folks!

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. Guess what? (I've got another piece of good news HEE HEE!!!)

My mother told me that a couple of robins are in the process of building a nest on one of her patios. So next weekend when I go to her Memorial Day Gala, I'll try to get a pic of it if there's eggs in it yet. Think of it....beautiful blue robin eggs.....and if I get a picture of them, I can frame it for my mother.



Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Ain't Buying Nobody No Damn Diamond Ring.....


Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird won't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring.... * *

("Hush, Little Baby")

Now let me ask you....

Is that the RUDEST look on a mockingbird's face that you've ever seen? It's actually FROWNING at me!

I think it's a terribly rude frown---and uncalled for. And so I'm going to admit here that when I first viewed it that I had a fleeting thought of wanting to that particular mockingbird upside its sassy little head---or snatch him bald.

Now, before you get mad at me, just please.... hear me out.

It all started out so innocently.....

As some of you might know, it all started with a pair of mockingbirds who built a nest in one of the hanging pots of flowers on my balcony. I didn't really want the nest there because I have a veritable FOREST across the street from me as I live in an isolated area (just off a very small exit of the Interstate, really). And so there are fifty-leven-umpteen places for a mockingbird to build its dang nest besides my balcony in a $20 pot of pink impatiens flowers.

But I allowed them to build the nest anyway, thinking that it would be kind of neat to have a mockingbird family on my balcony. Nice little birdies---cute, sweet songbirds and all.....their lovely, wistful warblings the joy of a neighborhood, right?

However, I was heavily advised by all who know me to LEAVE THE BIRDS alone, as "people shouldn't mess with Mother Nature."

In fact, Warrior Knitter commented in my comments section that mockingbirds were mean things---and I realize NOW that I definitely should have LISTENED to her...

Okay, okay, but listen....I LOVE animals and birds. I LOVE them all. I figured, WHY CAN'T I see the mockingbirds that live on my balcony? I mean, I gave them a safe home, didn't I? No cats, dogs, children, or other bird-botherers to annoy them, right? I mean, the only thing the mockingbirds would ever have to worry about is a hawk, and the hawks don't like to get this close to the Interstate.

And also, HOW could anybody who knows me expect me to just sit around nonchalantly while KNOWING that there's a nest of little cute birdies on my balcony? Especially since I have a digital camera. (I guys are all well-acquainted with my incurable habit of snapping pictures of animals and birds against their wills, right?....)

(I once almost caused a 6-car pile-up on the highway while trying to snap a picture of a soaking wet donkey in the rain. I mean, that stupid donkey looked so wet, miserable, and bedraggled that I just HAD to humiliate him....)

(I hate donkeys....)

Okay, and so anyway, I got CURIOUS about the dang mockingbirds on my balcony.

In fact, I was DYING of curiosity. I HAD to see what was in that nest. And so, as I told you in my last blog entry, I LOOKED. And there they were!!! Cute little mockingbird eggs! And then LO AND BEHOLD, 3 of the 4 eggs hatched into little baby mockingbirds! They were so cute! I couldn't resist snapping pictures....

And happened.

Like Alice in Wonderland, I got curiouser and curiouser....



But please believe me, PLEASE---I truly attempted to behave myself and not think about those litle baby birdies.....and I really tried in earnest to "leave Mother Nature alone" as I had been advised.....but I succumbed to temptation. I succumbed to my own, stupid, picture-snapping obsession----I JUST COULDN'T STOP MYSELF, aaaaargh!

And so I began taking even more pictures of them, carefully snapping the camera quickly, not touching the plant or the birdies, and then leaving them alone as quickly as possible. (I even threw breadcrumbs out there one day but the parent birds didn't seem interested.)

And then the darling little hatchlings started to grow! Gradually they got to where they could open their beaks and eat, even though their necks weren't yet strong enough to pick their little heads up. But their momma fed them anyway.

And then they grew so much that the day came......when they finally COULD stick their heads up out of the nest and call for food---and it was ADORABLE, I tell you, ADORABLE!

But then....disaster to my picture-taking plans occurred.....

The parent birds got MAD at me! They got a little mad at first. But then they got A LOT MAD as time went on. In fact, they turned into the Mockingbirds From Hell.

And now....there's a veritable MOCKINGBIRD VS. ROAD NURSE WAR currently being waged----on my own balcony.

In fact, the parent birds are "on" to me. They anticipate my arrival and wait for me.....just like some kind of Mockingbird Death Squad with me as its prime target...

And they have begun attacking me!!! ME of all people! A lover of birds and animals who can't even step on ants without getting terrible guilt.

I mean.....could it be? Could it truly have happened? Could it be that after all this time of successfully sneaking up to snap pictures of donkeys, cows, horses, roosters, goats and other animals----that I am finally being bested and humiliated by a dang pissant mockingbird of all things?!?!?......

And if it isn't enough that these rude mockingbirds have begun to stare me down and give me the most VILE, EVIL, and MALICIOUS looks that I have ever seen on the face of any stupid bird in my life, much less a mockingbird, they have begun to attack me in earnest! And NOT JUST by simply the way they first started out, by swooping down on me in a very annoying fashion--but now they've actually begun PECKING ME!

One of them is so mean to me that I filled out a complaint report at the Podunk Bird Police, with who the Message Goat just happens to have a good buddy. (The wheels of the Podunk Animal Justice System move slowly, but I sorely hope that Podunk Bird Law can protect my human rights and fix his little red wagon...)

(Unfortunately, the Message Goat also informed me that since the mockingbird is the State Bird of Texas that it is "protected"--- and thus it is illegal to slap a mockingbird upside its head or snatch it bald.)

(Or even to box its ears.)

(I'm not even sure it's legal to cuss at one...)

But GEEZ---the damn NERVE of those birds to look at me with those expressions on their faces! And then to try to PECK ME TO DEATH? I mean, it is just simply Bird Criminality is all I can say. See the look on the face of that mockingbird in the picture below? TELL ME that he isn't just BEGGING to get his ears boxed....

But today I finally got the bestest picture of the babies that I was most longing for!---the one where they're finally strong enough to stick their little heads up over the nest edge while opening their adorable little beaks for food.

BUT....both parent mockingbirds suddenly executed a horrible double-whammy attack, flying around my head together, wildly trying to PECK ME TO DEATH! They actually forced me to run for my life into my apartment! God, it was terrifying. I had to flap my arms over my head, flailing about wildly, trying to beat those damn birds OFF of me--- and I had to run as fast as I could, screaming my head off hollering "AAAAAHHHHCK!!" like a maniac, trying vainly to get into my apartment---because I first ran smack into the closed glass door like a panicked idiot---and then falling flat on my ass (thus getting PECKED even more)--- until I remembered to unlatch the dang door to get in. But at least I got the picture I wanted (HAH, BIRDS!) without losing my life or my digital camera in the process.

And once I finally got my stupid idgity self into my apartment, I locked the glass door behind me. And I certainly hope that doing so will be sufficient protection....because now, dammit, I'm paranoid and keep imagining that I hear "pecking noises" on the glass, just like in that movie "The Birds" ......

I was so incensed about this incident, since I not only got much pecked but also suffered a nice goose-egg (no pun intended) on my forehead from hitting the apartment's door, that I'm thinking seriously about notifying the Message Goat to see if those birds' violent offenses can also be prosecuted under the jurisdiction of the Animal/Bird Civil Laws of Podunk--- making it possible for me to force the mockingbirds to pay for the Bandaids I had to put on the cuts and scratches on my head---plus adding in a claim for some money to compensate me for my "pain and suffering" like they do on the "People's Court" and "Judge Judy" on TV, ya know? Yes, yes, I know the mockingbird has that special "exempt" status as being the Texas state bird and all, but that doesn't mean that they should be allowed to PECK ME TO DEATH, practically knocking me off my own balcony in the process. ( I definitely don't want to end up like Tippi Hedren in that horrifying movie "The Birds", ya know what I mean?)

What's worse is that I was utterly mortified with humiliation in front of all my neighbors. They saw the whole embarassing thing from their own balconies. In fact, the fracas was so loud that the lady downstairs was traumatized, wondering bewilderedly WHY in the WORLD I was screaming my lungs out right on my own balcony in broad daylight.

But I tell you, it's become a sickness with me!!! I can't stop myself!! I've simply GOT to photograph the progress of the little birdies. I've got to--- I can't stop NOW. I've got to try to do it to the bitter end---when the little darling things get their full feathers and learn to fly! I want to know that they made it safely to adulthood!

Thus, I have been looking around for a helmet to wear when I go out there....because although I'm stubborn as hell, now I'm frightened that my sister's warning will come true and they'll "peck my eyes out". GOD, that gives me the damn shivers......

* * *

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Follow-Up To Lew's Death.....


I wanted to give a follow-up note to that terrible day, last Saturday, when our company's beloved patient, Lew, died in my arms...

...and also to tell you something which happened during the memorial service which gave me the "goosebump" chills---but in a good way...

As you can imagine, we have all been torn up emotionally by this event, as Lew was one of our favorite patients and we had not expected Lew to go this soon, although we knew he was gravely ill.

Myself, Belinda and Bonnie (another good friend, an LVN I hired recently) (remember Bonnie helping me herd cows at the Rickenbocker ranch when we all used to work for that large, corporate road nurse company?) were all especially sad because we had all three taken care of Lew for awhile in that previous road nurse company. And we had been ecstatic to get him back through a serendipitious event.

(He and his wife had switched to our road nurse company awhile ago when Belinda, myself and Bonnie heard through the Podunk grapvevine that Lew was in the ICU----and we had gone to visit him and take a gift. When Lew and his wife heard that the three of us were working together again, they stated that they had missed us terribly and had asked to switch over to our road nurse company, to which we of course obliged, glad to get them back.)

Anyway, we all thee nurses took his death very hard. One good buddy in the comments section of this blog, Poody, mentioned a good point and asked why we could not have elicited a medical helicopter out to Lew that day instead of using an ambulance. But unfortunately, Lew's particular county is so brushy and forest-like that there are few places for a helicopter to land safely.

(There were a couple of nearby chicken farms with those long, barrack-like buildings which house zillions of chickens, but even those properties had very little flat and clear land of the size needed for a helicopter to land on, and thus we were unable to get the clearance for that type of rescue. Lew probably wouldn't have had the time anyway, since he died in my arms so very shortly after I arrived at his home.

Belinda and I went to Lew's memorial service on Tuesay, at a small, country church in his county. (His funeral service will be this Saturday. They were able to wait that long as Lew chose to be cremated because cremation is cheaper. They never did have a whole lot of money.)

Anyway, during the memorial service, which was truly a wonderful celebration of his life, I found out things about Lew that I never knew before.

For example, Lew was one of the policemen on duty the day that Kennedy was assassinated. Also, he was a decorated Veteran of the United States military forces. And also, in his last few years, whenever he was well enough, he played Santa Clause for in local nursing homes and children's homes. He was a man who was always helping people, and he will be geratly missed by a great deal of people.

Lew had 21 grandchildren and 7 great-gandchildren. Many of them got up during the Memorial Service to tell stories about Lew, and believe me, they were great stories, enabling all of us to celebrate Lew's wonderful life and his well-known kindheartedness and generosity. And we are going to try our best to take very good care of Lew's wife from now on--- and hopefully help her through this very difficult time.

I felt very honored to have been able to go to that service.

Anyway, here comes the part that gives me the "goosebump chills".....

Lew knew he was dying. He had asked his doctor to "give him the straight scoop", telling his doctor that he "wasn't afraid to die because he knew that it meant that he was going home to The Lord, whom he loved so much." And his doctor had replied: "Alright, Lew. I'll tell you the straight scoop. You need to get your affairs in order because the time is coming soon."

And so, Lew's wife told me, that after that revelation from the doctor, Lew had, indeed, set about to get his affairs in order--- arranging his funeral, buying a burial plot, calling up all of his family and friends (which were spread out all over the United States) to come for a last visit--- and had even picked out the songs he wanted sung at his memorial service.

Anyway, when that part of the memorial service came for the songs to be sung, as I sat next to a tearful Belinda (both of us handing each other wadded up wet Kleenexes every now and then), the pianist slowly and solemnly mounted the piano platform. Two ladies of the church followed her---the singers.

And then the pianist began playing the first song---and the singers began singing...

...and the song was.... "I'll Fly Away"!!

I almost fell out of the church pew. Because remember how I'd heard the Wild Angels' wings all day long on the day he died? Well, when I heard "I'll Fly Away", that song about flying away with the angels just about broke me up---but in a good way.

Even now I cry just remembering how it thrilled me when the singers started the opening bars of the song---goosebump had formed on my arms and the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. I absolutely love that song and it was the perfect song for that particular moment in time...

Because, as you guys assured me in your wonderful comments, Lew DID indeed "fly away" to a better place that day---and I know he was with the angels of Heaven, who were guiding him along with their strong, beautiful wings. I know that in my heart.

And I loved hearing that song so much that I'm going to print the words of it here, just so even though you weren't at the Memorial Service, you can share a little bit in it.

(And then I'm going to tell you of the wonderful things that mysteriously happened to me this week---where I think my own Wild Angels might have been trying to cheer me up!... *

"I Will Fly Away"

Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away.

To a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory, I'll fly away.

When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye, I'll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have flown, I'll fly away.

Like a bird thrown, driven by the storm, I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory, I'll fly away. When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye, I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then, I'll fly away.

To a land where joy shall never end, I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, O Glory, I'll fly away.

When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye, I'll fly away.


* ("I'll Fly Away", Alison Krauss and Gillian Welsh)


Anyway, after all that had happened, I figured that it would prove to be a dreary and depressing week, and so I told myself that I was going to try hard to keep a stiff upper lip and do my usual methods for trying to turn a "lemon week" into "lemonade."

So one of the things I did to get my mind off my depression was to finish Jane-Anne's baby sweater for her upcoming baby (and she's getting bigger and bigger, having just passed the first trimester mark)---and remember, she asked for a "camouflage" sweater. So here's the pic:

And then....another miracle of new life happened!....

So I began half-heartedly decorating my bedraggled balcony with some flowers that Walmart has been putting out for spring--- due to losing some in the very harsh and windy thunderstorms which have been occurring in the last couple of weeks. And after I put a few pots of some colorful blooms out there, I thought I'd "recovered" my balcony somewhat nicely.

But one of my particular hanging pot of "impatiens" flowers (which, bless its heart, had hung on for dear life throughout all the recent windy storms, swinging madly in the wind till I thought it would just blow away completely) just WOULDN'T do well. No matter what I did for it, the plant looked....well, unhealthy. I thought maybe it was the bad weather it had endured.

And then I looked closely one day and noticed....that there were all kinds of sticks and twigs sticking out of the sides of the pot. And I thought to myself, now what in the hell is this?

I looked more closely...and you guessed it....a bird had built a nest in it!

I was excited as heck but I left the nest alone. It was a mockingbird--- and those crochety things, although they sing beautifully, can get very territorial and act pretty ugly if you get near or do anything which "threatens" their nests.

(One day, one of those durn things swooped down out of mid-air and grabbed the best damn tuna fish sandwich I'd ever made in my entire life RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND....)

(And I'm still holding a grudge because I've never been able to match that particular batch of tuna fish. I can't seem to get the cilantro and dill pickle juice amounts just right. Dammit, I knew I should have written down the recipe...)

And so believe me, after that bird built that nest, whenever I was on the balcony watering the other plants, that durn mockingbird squawked its head off at me, telling me in bird language to "get the hell away from my dang nest."

But I retorted right back, saying: "Look here, bird. I'll leave your nest alone but I've got to water my damn new petunias, new impatiens and my brand new Majestic Palm, dadgummit. I paid a dang fortune for them and I ain't gonna let them die, too, since I'm going to have to let your pot of impatiens die in order to leave your nest alone. And since the stupid weather took everything else, I've got to have SOMETHING out here, IF YOU DON'T MIND. I'll leave your flower pot alone but give me a dadgum break here, you sassy mockingbird, you."

(Hickese translation: If a Podunkian REALLY gets mad, they may shorten the word "dadgummit" to just plain "gummit" --- but usually that's just the really old men who do that. I faithfully use the full word, "dadgummit", in order to be ladylike and not bring down the wrath of anybody's grandmother down on my head, even though I don't think anybody can hear me on my balcony---but you never know, because afterall, there IS a church next door...)

And then, just to be firm to that mockingbird, I added: "And it's not like I don't live near a whole forest where there's 358,000 and fifty-leven-umpteen places for nest-building, ya know? There's hardly any buildings in this entire neighborhood because we're surrounded by about 5 square miles of forest and "city ranches"--- including the land the buffalo live on. But noooooooom, you chose MY hanging pot of impatiens! So you're going to have to be fair and deal with me on this balcony every now and then, fair enough?"

The bird still squawked at me. (Oh well, I just try to hurry and stay out of its way as much as I can. I'm just happy it allows me sit in my knitting chair in front of the balcony door and blissfully watch its comings and goings every day.)

But then......after awhile......well, I got .... well.... curious. In fact, I got so curious and excited that I just COULDN'T STAND IT!!!


And so.... (I hope you don't get mad at me like my sister did) .....but I did it. I very hurriedly stood up on one of my white wicker balcony chairs, quickly aimed the camera haphazardly...and shot a picture!---and then ran back into the apartment!

(Okay, I'll admit that I did it a couple of times....but please....forgive me.....I plead curiosity, wonderment, and a love of animals and birds.)

(And besides, the Message Goat has long ago told all the animals and fowl around here that I'm insane as hell--- but harmless. So I figured what the hell...)

And here are the results---in the order in which the miracles happened! There were 4 eggs and so far 3 have hatched. BEAUTIFUL, ADORABLE, LITTLE BIRDIES!!!!!! I was so excited that I called the Fish and Wildlife Department and they told me that in a few days the babies will start eating normally. I've already seen the mama birdie carrying food to them, even though they're not at the stage yet where they have opened their eyes or started popping up their heads with their beaks open to get food. (Here's the pic where just two of the four had hatched.)

(Well, actually, I saw one of the babies open it's beak today, like it was wanting food, so they're getting there. I can't WAIT for when they're all opening their little beaks and clamoring for food!!)

Check it out---3 of the four eggs have hatched! (And there's the one that's opening its beak---isn't it adorable?) (The other one looks like it's trying to open its little beak, too---it'll learn!)

(But the funny thing is....the babies don't look like mockingbird babies---nor did the eggs look like mockingbird eggs. The eggs and the babies look more eggs and babies. I'm wondering if a cowbird hijacked the nest, as they've been known to do that a lot around here---and the hijacked nest's mama bird just raises the cowbirds as their own....)

(Maybe y'all can tell me what you think about that....) (I mean, I know that mockingbird eggs can be "speckled", too, like cowbird eggs--- but these eggs REALLY looked like cowbird eggs--- and those big babies are DEFINITELY looking like big cowbird babies....)

They sure look funny when they're first born. But that one is getting a good beak on it. I wonder why that 4th egg won't hatch yet? The others hatched quick. I hope nothing's wrong....

Anyway, I think they're adorable!! And they look like they're getting more fuzz on them!

Oh well, maybe I'm just too impatient! They're all just as sweet as anything and I'm looking forward to watching the dear little things grow!!!



Saturday, May 05, 2007

I Know I Heard the Wings....

Wild Angels, Wild Angels,

Watching over you and me,

Wild Angels, Wild Angels,

Baby what else could it be?

I swear I hear the sound of beating wings...


("Wild Angels", Martina McBride)



Lew didn't look good when I got to his ranch.

His wife had called me this morning, since I was the on-call nurse, begging me to come out and "check on Lew", who, she told me, had been agitated all night, throwing off his oxygen tubing, acting very confused---in fact, she described him as acting "out of his head".

She told me that he had finally fallen asleep about 4:30 am. But then she called me at 9:00 am because she got frightened when she couldn't wake him up for his morning meds and breakfast. She said he "looked funny" and was "snoring weird."

"And I ain't gonna let you call the ambulance, Bo," she stated, before I could open my mouth. "I promised Lew that I wouldn't send him to the hospital again. You know that he just got out of the hospital recently--- and he swore up and down that he didn't want to go back. Just please come, nurse. Just please come...."

Of course I would come.

I threw on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt, grabbed a car-cup of coffee, and took off in the Jeep. I quickly stopped by the office for the little gadget that you stick on someone's finger that reads their oxygen saturation.

And I tore out to the ranch of my patient, speeding and careening my way down the highway just as fast as I could down the highway, and then finally turning off the main road into ranch country, where the roads turn into dangerous thin, dirt-covered, rocky lanes--- and don't even have identification signs to tell you where you are. Ranch country is like that.

On the way, I prayed to The Lord, like I always do when I go out on an "emergency call".

I asked the Lord to help me "do the right thing and make the right decisions."

I asked him to "show me the way---or else show me some kind of 'sign' of what He wanted me to do."

About 10 miles further, I saw a little country church with a sign which read: "What if God is asking YOU for a sign?"

I kept on driving, wondering how to understand that sign.

When I finally arrived at their isolated ranch, which is way off the beaten path, Lew looked terrible. He looked much worse than his wife had described on the phone. And he wasn't "sleeping"---he was actually unconscious. And his breathing sounded ominously like the dreaded "death rattle" which usually heralds death.

He was lying there completely unresponsive. And I began my assessment, relying on my ER days to help me do it quickly and efficiently.

His oxygen tubing was delivering the correct amount of oxygen that he was prescribed. There was yellow urine in his "foley catheter" collection bag. I quickly calculated in my head his urine output amount from the last time his wife stated that she had emptied the bag (and noted hopefully that the amount of his "output" was normal.)

But his skin was cold and pale--and he didn't respond to any of the painful stimuli I tried on him to arouse him from his unconscious state. I quickly took his vital signs and they weren't good ----in fact, to my mortification, he was in shock.

His wife and adult son stood by helplessly as I worked. I tried to get an "oxygen saturation" reading on his finger with my little meter---but the meter wouldn't give me a reading because there simply wasn't enough "perfusion" of blood delivery to his fingers and extremities to give me a reading. I even tried his toes, hoping to get a reading which would tell me the status of the oxygenation of his body----even though I could see with my eyes and ears that even without such a reading, that things were very bad....

This was all bad.....very, very bad.

"He doesn't want to die in the hospital!" his wife declared again. "I promised him I wouldn't let him die there!"

As gently and compassionately as I could, I explained to her that I needed to call the EMS medics. And I also explained to her that I was bound by the law to do everything I could to help him---which in this case meant calling the medics for transport to the hospital. Now, although there does exist in Texas a legal document, which would be signed by a doctor, called an "Out-of-Hospital Do Not Rescusitate", which allows patients to choose to allow themselves to die at home without resuscitation measures, Lew had not generated one--- and so I was bound by the law to call the medics.

And I also explained to her that even though things looked very grim at the moment, that we should still, at this point, hope for the best---and that maybe something could be done in the ER to help him once he arrived there.

And so she allowed me to call the medics---but I had to give them directions to the isolated ranch on the phone. That particular county is serviced by a different EMS system than that which services Podunk's Hospital. And that particular EMS company is less familiar with that part of ranch country. In fact, the medics stated honestly stated that they had no idea where Lew's ranch area was.

Worse still, that particular ambulance system only employs "EMT" medics instead of full-fledged paramedics. I knew that the EMT medics' level of training would not allow them to perform some types of advanced critical care life support functions which paramedics are certified to do. (And it's not that I have anything against EMT level medics, but I was worried that we might get into a serious and complicated Code Blue situation with Lew and might need the advanced skills of paramedics---and Lew's ranch is pretty far away from the hospital, which would mean a fairly long transport time--- and there was the possibility that he might need desperate, life-saving measures performed during that long transport time to the ER.)

Since the medics weren't familiar with the area of Lew's ranch, the 911 operator patched me through to the medics truck radio so that I could give them the best directions I could for the isolated spot we were in--- and "talk them in".

But it still took them awhile to find the place. Several times as we anxiously awaited their arrival, I could periodically hear sirens in the distance---but then the sounds would fade. I knew the medics were getting lost and probably making wrong turns and back-tracking up and down the dirt roads to find the markers I'd instructed them over the radio. It's easy to get lost in that particular area as the roads fork frequently and don't have identification markers.

Whenever I would again exclaim hopefully to Lew's panicking wife the phrase: "I can hear the sirens again--they must be getting closer!" , Lew's wife would respond: "How can you hear the sirens? I can't hear any sirens. All I can hear is all those birds flapping their wings outside..."

It is rather weird how I can hear sirens before anybody else can. But I have finally come to the conclusion that due to all those years in the Emergency Rooms, my ears just got "trained" to hear sirens pretty well. I can usually hear them about 3 minutes before anybody else can. I don't know why I can do that---it just must be an odd idiosyncrosy of mine that I've developed over the years.

Sometimes I even dream that I hear sirens in the distance....

I asked Lew's son to go out into the road to wave the medics in when they finally found the right road, which thankfully happened a few minutes later. The medic truck pulled into the driveway and two big EMT's came barrelling out of the truck, guerney in tow. They barged into the house and headed towards the bedroom.

At the time, I had thrown my shoes off and was lying up in the bed with Lew, trying to hear a blood pressure in his right arm since I had gotten such a crappy, shocky reading on the left one---and I was also trying to measure another pulse rate on him.

And all of a sudden I lost his pulse completely----and then I wasn't able to hear a blood pressure reading at all....NOTHING.

Horrified, I realized that Lew was dying, right in my arms.....

"Lew!" I hollered at him desperately, shaking him by his shoulders in a vain attempt to arouse him.



The patient's son, a large, "good ole" prideful Texan man, suddenly got a terrible, pinched look on his face and quickly left the room. I knew that he didn't want us to see him lose it and start crying. I knew that he was like all strong Texan men--- and wanted to keep a strengthful countenance for his desparing mother. Lew's wife got on her knees beside her husband's bed, near his head, and started praying to the Lord. She begged the Lord to do His Will---but yet she also begged the Lord to help her husband.

And when she finished her quick prayer she leaned over and began yelling into Lew's ear:

"Lew! Mama's here, sugar! And The Lord's here, too! And Bo and the ambulance men are here to help you---just hang on, hon! Please just hang on!"

As the medics swarmed into the room, we moved out of their way and I handed one of them the patient's medication list which the patient's son had just printed out from his computer. (I had constructed that list for Lew on the computer just last week, in order that he would have a handy copy of the complicated list to take with him to his various doctors' appointments.)

I quickly gave to the medics a complete report of the patient's medical history and current status as they began hooking him up to their equipment and then began loading him onto a guerney. I helped them transfer him from the bed to the guerney because Lew is a big man and it was quite a task to get him out of a low-to-the-floor home bed and onto a thin medic's guerney.

Being loaded up and slung onto a guerney by medics is never a dignified process---and so I made sure that Lew's genitals were covered and that he was handled as gently as possibly.

My heart began breaking further as I watched the medics attempting to find Lew's blood pressure and pulse----and weren't having any luck getting any readings, just as I hadn't been able to a few minutes before......

The medics quickly loaded Lew into their truck. But they again admitted that they didn't know the area very well and asked me if I would lead them back to the main highway---they admitted that they indeed HAD gotten lost on the way to the ranch and didn't want that to happen again on the way to the hospital.

So first I instructed the patient's son to take Lew's wife to the hospital in their own car--and admonished them to drive safely and NOT speed the vehicle. And then I jumped into my Jeep and pulled in front of the paramedics' truck to get ready to lead them.

And now that I had left the inside of the house, I could hear the faint sound of the beating of the bird wings the patient's wife had been talking about---but, curiously, I couldn't see any birds.

I anxiously watched through the ambulance truck window as the medics got Lew's guerney strapped in securely for the trip. And then they gave me the "thumbs up" sign to go on ahead and lead them to the main highway.

I led them out of the ranch country, up and down the crazy, curvy, rocky, dirt country roads. They couldn't drive very fast because of all the curves. But finally we made it to the main highway and I swerved out of their way so that they could now head for the hospital without me in front of them.

At that point, the medic truck's "emergency lights" switched on and came alive with a blazing array of flashing lights and a subsequent cacaphony of sirens which looked and sounded like a burst of glorious red and white-colored fireworks in a synchronized beat to the sirens' wailings. And then the truck suddenly speeded up and took off down that highway so fast that it was like watching a rocket-fueled race-car take off.

And I was worried.....very worried.

I was thinking about how I hadn't been able to feel a pulse or hear a blood pressure on Lew there at the end when he was in my arms at the house......

In fact, I was so worried that I didn't pay attention to my driving and almost drove my car into a guardrail on a bridge. And all during that drive I kept trying to do things to get my mind off my worries during the long trek back to Podunk's hospital (30 miles)---and I concentrated hard on doing those things so that I could stay calm and not become so distracted by my thoughts that I would stop paying attention to the road and kill myself in an accident. I know it sounds strange, but doing those things while driving is what I'm used to---and it helps me drive calmly. So I did all those "usual" things of mine, singing songs and crazily snapping aimless pictures out the window with my camera. I was sort of like in an "autopilot" mode, just like I always am whenever I'm on long drives on the road. But it was still the most miserable ride I've ever had in my road nurse career....

I just did anything I could not in order to NOT think about the worst case scenario..... I wouldn't let myself think it. No, not Lew. Not one of our company's most beloved, favorite patients....

I kept thinking about how wonderful a man Lew is. Despite his serious illnesses, Lew has always been a jovial, cheerful man---always ready with a joke. And I desperately wanted Lew to get well soon so that he could tell us road nurses funny jokes again and do his favorite thing----which is to roll his wheelchair up to the kitchen counter and make "whomp" biscuits.

Lew can make the best whomp biscuits I have ever tasted---and he always gives us road nurses some when we visit him--- big fat whomp biscuits slathered with creamery butter and Smucker's Strawberry or Peach Preserves....

The medic truck beat me to the ER, of course, but finally I reached the ER myself. I hurriedly parked, jumped out the Jeep, and then ran like hell through the hospital's front door, down the halls (startling bystanders), and into the ER waiting room. One of the nurses at the triage desk recognized me and let me through, into the back area where the patients were.

At the ER nurses' station I asked: "Which room is Lew in?"

The nurse replied: "Uh...Bo, he didn't make it."

"Do what?" I exclaimed, almost choking on my words in my bewilderment.

"He didn't make it," she repeated gently.

I stood there in shock.


Unable to speak.

The other nurses stopped what they were doing, a sudden look of sympathy coming over their faces as they realized that I didn't know that Lew had actually, truly died.

"You didn't know?" the first nurse asked. "Bo, he was dead in the truck. There was nothing they could do...."

And then, as the truth finally dawned, I broke down and started bawling like a baby, right there in the nurse's station, bawling so hard that I couldn't even talk or figure out what to do. So one of the nurses led me into a nearby room where Lew's wife was---and I found her again down on her knees praying to The Lord. And so I joined her there on the floor, on my knees, and we had ourselves a tearful talk with The Lord, Who we knew was there with us.

When we finished, I asked her if the preacher had been called. Just at that precise moment, the preacher walked in wearing a baseball cap with the words "Jesus" embroideried on it. His wife was with him, followed by the patient's son, who had been the one to go out and lead the preacher to the right room.

I simply cannot tell you how comforting it is when a preacher arrives at a hospital room. To me, there is no greater comforting human presence. Podunk's preachers are the foundation of our lives---and they are always there for us whenever we need them.

* * *

Later, after I left the ER and was walking out in the parking lot to my Jeep--- to go home and cry some more--- it happened again that I thought that I could hear the faint beating sound of bird wings flapping, this time beating right over my Jeep. But again, I didn't see any dang birds. And I wondered why in the heck I had been hearing the sound of flapping bird wings all day long....

And then I got to thinking. Ok, I thought, maybe it WAS birds---but it was weird that I hadn't seen any birds. And then I thought, maybe it wasn't birds. Maybe I'm just going crazy. I just don't know. But I DO know that I DID hear something---something like the beating sound of wings. And they sounded like BIG wings....

Maybe you'll think I'm crazy for even thinking I heard that sound---and also for what I'm about to say next....

But....just maybe....just maybe... it was the sound of the Wild Angels' wings....

I came home and cried a lot more. In fact, I'm still crying, every time I think about it. But as I sit here in my home crying for Lew, one comforting thought just occurred to me....

His wife had promised him that he wouldn't have to "die in the hospital". And you know what? I don't think that he did!! Because I had felt his blood pressure and pulse STOP while I was still up there on the bed with him, holding him in my arms while his wife was kneeling beside him talking about The Lord.

And so I don't think that he died in that medic truck. I think that he died right there in his home---just like he wanted to.

(Don't you?)