Violent Battle (Whining or Winning?)


I have not had a head cold in years. Truly. And, in the meantime, several years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Samter’s Triad or Triad Asthma. It is asthma, nasal polyps and a hypersensitivity to aspirin, and, by extension, all the plants that produce salicylic acid to protect themselves against pests and that would be ALL plants to a greater and lesser extent. Tea is absolutely forbidden, all tea, except Chamomile. Blackberries (my favorite food) spinach, broccoli, etc. ad nauseum.

So I was thinking today about what I’ve learned on the internet about this cold. Nothing useful. I found nothing about the complications of a head cold when your sinuses are not as open and wide as they could be, should be; the complications of a cough for a person who has asthma. My sinuses don’t drain like normal sinuses, so…

I contended with the symptoms of Samter’s Triad for three years going to my doctor and getting “help” which, at one point amounted to, “Why aren’t you getting better?” She was angry at me because I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t smell anything, taste anything, hear very much. It was awful and scary.

Finally I realized she was an idiot because any good doctor instead of yelling at the patient because none of the treatments worked would send that patient to a specialist. So I went to a specialist, an Ear, Nose and Throat man. He found the polyps but couldn’t understand the asthma. He sent me to a brilliant allergist who tested me for all the allergens and when it came up I have no allergies, she said, “Do you take aspirin?”

I said, “Every night.”

“Have you had an itchy rash that you couldn’t explain?”

“Yeah, a couple of years ago.”

“There’s a rare condition called Samter’s Triad.” She explained it. “I’m going to treat you for it and we’ll see what happens.”

I left with a prescription for Singulair and went back to my ENT with this diagnosis. He put me on antibiotics, prednisone and a nasal steroid to shrink the polyps.

All good for all this time. Since 2013.

And not good now. It’s frustrating being a little old lady because (I am sure) doctors look at you as if you are just there to get attention. I’ve had bad doctoring in two serious situations so I’m not very trusting, and I’m probably a little hostile. Still, the really competent doctors in my life were there to help me. They listened and looked at the symptoms I presented as a puzzle they needed to solve, not “Why aren’t you better?”

Samter’ Triad isn’t something I found on the Internet and decided to “have” it because it’s rare and special. It actually is kind of a drag, not (for me so far) a major drag, but it’s still a drag. I have to wear a bracelet that says, “NO Aspirin!” because that shit could kill me.

So…the question of diversity. It’s been such a big issue and I don’t think we even get to the true meaning of it. Each one of us IS a “special little snowflake” actually, moreso biologically, probably than in the way that term is usually used. We don’t know all that much about the human body; no one has figured out WHY Samters Triad, for example, and there are thousands of other conditions that are big mysteries, too.

Interestingly, when I was first diagnosed, I looked up Samter’s Triad and read about it on some guy’s WordPress blog. He went through the Aspirin Desensitization process and is — at least for now — completely symptom free. I would like to do that, too, but like an idiot, I moved to the back of beyond and nothing is all that easy. Today I wish I lived in Denver, had no dogs, lived in a townhome or condo conversion and could go to a good doctor easily. I think I moved to Monte Vista with all the sanity that I’ve applied to my love choices.

As for that, last night, awake and barely breathing, I thought of how nice it would be if I’d managed to stay married to someone and we were living happily ever after and caring for each other.





My Marathon


A long time ago in a far away place my dog Molly and I hiked a marathon. We didn’t set out to do that, but by the time we finished, that’s what we’d done. It was December in the year 2000 or 2001. Molly was already a pretty old dog — 12 years old. She was my best friend. She was — to me — much more than a dog though being a dog is already a pretty amazing thing. I thought we’d hike 7 or 8 miles, but the day was so beautiful, windy but not too windy, just windy enough to clean the air an bring the sky close. As we hiked, I’d think, “Wow, I wonder what THIS looks like today” and we would go there. Fortunately, there was drinking water on the trail from a good well that flowed into a trough for the dog.

We started at the Meadows Information Station on the Sunrise Highway about 9 am. By the time we got back, it was dark and my feet hurt in a wonderful new way. The bottoms hurt when I put my foot down; the tops hurt when I lifted my foot and the top hit the laces and tongue of my shoe.


I checked my map when I got back to my truck and computed the distance. I was stunned. I had walked the distance between the mountain and the outskirts of San Diego. 26 miles. And, I was starving.

Not long after that, Molly was no longer up for a long hike. Time began to tell on her joints as happens with larger old dogs. I think that day was a great gift of long distance spontaneity, my only marathon and I shared it with her. ❤


Rambling Pointless Exquisite Post


We had a sift of snow overnight. Not enough to send Bear to snow-swimming rapture, but enough to silence the sound of the cars on the highway and to cover up the old snow which was looking tired and bedraggled. I’m not going out in it. Still fighting a cold and maybe winning, though at the moment it seems like a draw. I’m not shoveling. The snow plows have made several passes on the minuscule amount of snow. What’s under it is the problem, so the sand truck is making several slow passes to be sure everyone gets to church safely this morning.

There are many immense and beautiful churches in this little town, most with memberships in the single digits. All of these churches are more than 100 years old. One of them, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, is an exact replica of an English village church. It’s a tiny stone building, much loved by my neighbor who has done a lot of work toward restoring it to its original look — including new doors that match the original doors that had been replaced long ago.

I’m in demand among church-going folk because I don’t go to church. I appear uncommitted, and the churches really want members. Can’t imagine it since I don’t think God or faith has anything to do with a building or human fellowship. Still, I will go to St. Stephens twice during Lent because I’ve been invited to give a couple of talks on the Reformation. My friend and I joke that she’ll have to lock me in her car the night before to be sure I go… My other friend (yes, I have two) attends the Methodist Church and she’s asking for equal time.

I don’t know if there is anything exquisite about any of this. My exquisite white dog is here beside me wondering why I was up all night and why I’m suddenly so much more boring than I used to be. I have lost my exquisite voice because of all the exquisite coughing, but that’s just part of the exquisite process of recovering from a cold. And, the day began well with a very large, very hot and very exquisite cup of espresso with cream. Starting the day with that is a guarantee that no day will be all bad. 😉

Backing Off, the Voice of the INFJ


OK, folks. I’m usually pretty healthy (except for a couple of chronic conditions for which I’m already treated) but these past 12 months, I’ve been sick a LOT. I got to thinking, “What’s gone on during this period?” and DUH. So I did a little research on the connection…

I found many articles — some in mainstream publications such as Psychology Today, some in a little more artsy-fartsy publications, such as one which (quoted and linked below) that, I think, describes what I’ve been fighting since the debates started.

I’m done. I can’t change what happened. I have a lot of feelings about it that a lot of the people around me don’t share but that, at least, is normal after an election. There’s really nothing I can do. I don’t want to be sick any more and if this emotional turmoil is adding to it, wearing down my immune system, or whatever, I don’t want it. I don’t think I want to go away from social media (too much good comes to me from it) but I might back away from people who post a lot of political stuff even though I might love them to pieces otherwise. I’ve been drawn into too many ugly “conversations”.

Anyway, here’s the article and if you happen to be like me — introverted and highly empathetic, and you just don’t feel good, it might be helpful to you, too.

Here are the main points:

Here are some tips to heal from the US election:

– Separate yourself from the emotions. Recognize that even though these sensations are occurring within you, they are not YOU. Knowing this will help you release what is not yours, and move on.

– Spend as much time as possible in nature. Nature is the empath’s primary source of healing and peace. It’s best if you can find a place where there are no other people.

– Express your emotions through your favorite art form. Empaths are naturally highly creative. The paintbrush, pen, and stage are our greatest weapons against emotional overload.

– Breathe. Deeply. Let the air and emotions circulate until they evaporate.

– Stop feeding the monster. The news, with all its conflict, sensationalism, and violence, is highly upsetting to empaths. It might be tempting to read all the outraging articles, CNN clips, tweets, and Facebook posts about the US election, but it will only make things worse. Take a social media hiatus for a while.

– Do your “woo woo” rituals to the nth degree. Empaths are known for being drawn to the metaphysical. There is no shame in loving shamanism, chakras, and sage clearings. Now is the time to dip into your treasure chest of spiritual magic. (In my case that’s number 2 up there but with a bad cold I can’t go out there; you see my problem)

 Here’s another article, this from Psychology Today that I found interesting and somewhat less touchy-feely.

We Have No Idea…


Thoreau wrote romantically about the unseen in Walden, in the chapter “Where I Lived and What I Lived For,” one of the best written and widely read parts of the book. He wrote,

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep…”

Much of life happens out of our awareness. For example, I put a pair of winter boots on eBay to sell. I’ve been pleased because people are watching them, but I also put a “buy it now” price on them. This morning I opened my laptop to find that someone had bought them. Of course, I have to wait for the money, but all that happened when I wasn’t aware of it.

Sometime in March, 2015, a big white dog gave birth to a litter of puppies out there in the big lonesome of the ranch-land of the San Luis Valley, very possibly at the very same time as I was holding Lily T. Wolf tightly on my lap at the vet’s office, discussing the treatment of senile old dogs and the best options for Lily’s future. The best option made me feel that someone was tearing my heart out of my chest, but I loved my dog, so we got down on the floor together on the sleeping bag the vet’s assistant laid down for us and Lily died in my arms. A few months later one of those white pups was picked up by the sheriff and brought to the local shelter. I saw her on Facebook, looking out of my computer screen with Lily’s blue eyes, and I knew she was my dog.

It’s true that the iceberg that is our life isn’t always bringing us a wonderful new dog. Somehow, somewhere a little guy — let’s call him “Virus T. Virus” — made it through the barrier that is my skin and now I’m homebound in a coughy hell, drinking hot drinks to soothe my chest, and waiting for him to leave. But one of these mornings I’m going to wake up to find Virus T. Virus has abandoned me for greener pastures. Meanwhile, I have decent medical care (dogs), a warm house and time to get well. It was not long ago I would have stressed whether to teach or not, back in the day when my college made it very difficult for a teacher to miss school.

But I’m not there now. I’m here, retired, in a pretty little house in a beautiful place between two mountain ranges. How did that happen?

Well, I went to Italy in the summer of 2000 and came home to find that one of my colleges had forgotten (this is true!) to give me my usual Saturday class. I was going to be in financial hell. They’d finished scheduling, they were sorry, it was an honest mistake, I was on the fringes of their staffing, anyway, as a Saturday teacher, they’d fix it next semester yadda-yadda. What to do? “Update your resume and get your ass to San Diego State,” said my friend, Denis Joseph Francis Callahan. “You should be teaching there anyway.”

With nothing to lose, I did just that, then went home and put on interview-worthy clothes and hied myself hence to the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at SDSU with my packet in hand. It was a cold call. I arrived, went to the front desk of the front office and said, “Hi, I’m Martha Kennedy and I’ve brought my resume in case you’re still looking for teachers.” I’d actually sent them this same packet some six months earlier and had heard nothing.

“Fabulous!” said the woman. “We’ve been trying to call you. We have two classes for you to teach.” And that was it. More than fifteen years teaching full-time at SDSU = great health insurance and retirement for life. 🙂 Who knew?

Photo: Bear Care

Capable Woman


The phrase, “Male chauvinist pig” did not exist back when my Aunt Martha and any male who happened to be in the room with her were tangled up in the argument, “Are women as capable as men?” “A woman can do anything a man can do,” my aunt would say during one of the more strident moments in these arguments.

My Aunt — single, by choice — was a very bright and, yes, capable, woman.She worked for the OSS in Washington during WW II.

After that, she was the legal assistant to the attorney for the Air Force Finance Center which was located in Denver. She testified in front of Congress several times and was awarded a medal by Congress for some work that she did.

Back in those days, this kind of job did not require a university education. People learned skills in high school and were assumed to have good reasoning ability with which to apply the skills. In Hardin High School in southeastern Montana my aunt learned everything she needed for a lifetime of challenging and satisfying work.

So, the eternal argument. The line was drawn by my dad and uncles (and later, cousins) on women in the military in the front line. My aunt was sure women could do as well as men on the front lines. For her, that question was apart from whether there should be front lines at all. For the men in my family, there was only one question. Did women have what it took to stand firm in the face of fire? Everyone knows women are the weaker sex.

My mom said my aunt didn’t understand men. I think she did, but differently than the women who were primarily wives. My aunt worked with men every single day of her working life. She was undoubtedly the only woman of her government grade (GS 12) in her office at the Air Force Finance Center. She was respected for the work she did and, as I learned when she was 80 and we were sitting at the table in her kitchen having one of our numerous heart-to-heart talks, she had been considered a hottie. I always thought she was beautiful. I learned in that conversation that her attitude toward male/female sexual relations was unconventional, in my family, anyway. I was tickled when I had the task of cleaning out her dresser drawers and found a packet of condoms and black stockings with lace tops. I hid them from her sisters who were working there in the garage with me.

I thought about her as I watched HRC’s presidential campaign and the big noise about the “last glass ceiling” and “first woman president.” My aunt would have judged her harshly, I think, especially the parading of Bill as part of her stragedy for justifying, supporting, her campaign. I could hear my aunt say, “He’s no great shakes. She should run on her own, not on the coattails of her husband.” I believe my aunt would have found HRC “capable” because of her experience, but cowardly because she seemed to need a husband to bolster her campaign. And, as I recall, Bill Clinton’s lying under oath disgusted her.

My mom sometimes lectured my aunt saying,  “Men need to be needed,” “There’s no competition between men and women,” “Let the men ‘win’ the arguments.” In my aunt’s world, there WAS competition between men and women, a man should be humiliated by being “let” to win the argument, and she really didn’t think she “needed” a man.

Back then there were just not that many women living in my aunt’s world.

After she retired in the mid-1970s (early, age 55) she worked for the Red Cross, first as a volunteer and then as a coordinator for disaster relief efforts worldwide. She traveled to many different countries that had been hit by hurricanes or earthquakes, that kind of thing. When she died, she was worth over a million dollars.

So the real question is not whether women are as capable as men, but how many people are as capable as my Aunt Martha?  ❤

Photo: Aunt Martha, me, my mom, Easter, 1967

The Other Side of “Someday”


Someday’s here. I figured that out just a few weeks ago when I was so sick with the flu. I took my grandma’s quilt out of a trunk and laid it on my bed. “Whoa,” I thought, “there’s no ‘someday’. This is it. Nothing and no one to save this for.” I really did think that. I remembered how, when I was sick as a child, my mom had put that quilt on my little girl bed to help me get well.

And…I could easily turn this into pop philosophy with, “But everyday is someday” and “Live each day as if it were your last” and “Sleep under grandma’s quilt NOW. Don’t wait until it’s too late” all that but it’s really not the point when you actually arrive at “someday.”

One side of Someday is the shadow, it is the place where you get a letter from your mother’s best and oldest friend. She is worried because she didn’t get a Christmas card. But you didn’t send a Christmas card because you haven’t gotten one from her in two years, and you really don’t want her son to have to write the note that says, “My mother passed away in 2014” or something like that. You’d spare him that because you grew up with him, and you’ve had to write that note yourself.

And you know, because it is already “someday” that the first thing you need to do is write her a letter and walk it to the Post Office immediately because today is someday.

The other side of Someday is the shimmer. You are in Zürich and you are about to meet the one and only other person in your life who shares your love for the history of the Canton Zürich, a person with whom you can have conversations you can’t have with anyone else. a smart, funny young guy with whom you shared one of the best days of your life — 11 years ago. He’s waiting for you in front of the Grossmünster which is PERFECT. As you get nearer, you see him smiling and your own grin is about to break your face. At the end of the evening his girlfriend says, “Don’t wait another 11 years to come back.” And you know you won’t wait because it’s already someday.




The wet snow stuck to the creature’s feet, making her stride uneven and a little painful, but she didn’t care. At the bottom of every bush, in many of the melted footprints, and sometimes across the width of the trail, were messages. Here a fox had been, here a mouse had scurried, here a rabbit had met a tragic end (it’s never easy being prey), here a neighbor’s dog had left a letter. She crouched and left a response before she continued on her way. Sometimes something in the air caught her attention and she stood keen-eyed, her nose pointed in the direction of the smell. Usually it was nothing she ever saw, but once in a while… She kept on, knowing that there would be plenty of time when she got home to clear the snow balls from between her toes and ponder the meaning of all she had learned.

Sleeping Cattails Between the Storms



I don’t know why I thought of this song while we were walking, maybe because of the numerous carrot and potato filled semis heading down the country road to meet HWY 160 and the fact that I know I’m home. Home — for me — is this beautiful world, this valley with its harsh climate and heart-breaking beauty. I still can’t believe I get to live here. Maybe the kisses I get are dog kisses, and maybe the hugs I get are from friends and Bear and trees and light and mountains in the distance, stars so bright they seem to blaze through my window at night. I don’t know. Love is what keeps your heart whole and, for me, it’s always been being outside, human, embraced by nature, beneath the sky. ❤