Jilly D.

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Is it spring yet?

In Mourning, Time and seasons on March 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I left Sam’s “Mad Bomber” hat in Bruno Schickel’s pickupwhen I broke my wrist and didn’t realize it. Bruno returned it to me a week later and I haven’t worn it since.

The ear flaps lined in rabbit skin and the dirty lining made it a perfect hat to wear while walking the dogs in winter. Its smell and familiarity kept Sam wrapped around my head.

I don’t need to wear his hat anymore. He wore so many hats; style and color had slight variations but always earflaps, chin strap and head fully covered. His welding caps he wore even in summer.

Sam wore hats that will never fit me. The size is right, but I can’t weld or snowplow or manage a herd of deer, elk or buffalo. I can’t wear all those different hats of his.

I loved him in each of those hats. This one I had kept for myself. It hung near the door on the antlers. I’ve hung my head and cried in this hat. It still has the smell and warmth of him, but it’s not mine to wear. I borrowed it long enough. And the sun is out. The snow melts. Time to put away winter things.



In Mourning, The Farm on March 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.

Live your life so that when you die,

the world cries and you rejoice.

          – White Elk

Signs from Madison

In Friends on March 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Here’s Mary last Sunday on the steps of the Capitol Building in Madison, Wisconsin. She flew in from Athens, Georgia, to visit her family in Appleton.

Sunday she met up with our friend Amy Anderson. The vote had been passed and in such a slimy fashion. The crowds has thinned. Yet the signs and spirit of Wisconsin were evident everywhere.

Amy Anderson, whose letter of good cheer I posted here not too many days ago, shared this photo from the street protests and demonstrations on the lawn of the Capitol Building.

Madison Wisconsin


In Anniversary and memorials, Grief, Health, Mourning, Pictures and memories, Signs from beyond, The Farm, Time and seasons on March 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Eighteen months since Sam died and I find myself feeling like I’m 18 years old again: searching for my identity and wondering how to make it on my own. 

The sun woke me this morning. A night full of dreams I can’t remember, my preconscious state is sedate. No tears well up, no furrow creeps onto my brow, no sobbing steals my rib cage. I am still.

The dogs stretch and yawn. They let me get up and dress without moving from their slumber spots. They seem to know more than I. They sense I have stopped my relentless and urgent searching for Sam’s return.

I am in no hurry. The rush is over.

This sensibility is something new. I am not running away from the awful truth of what has happened anymore. What is, is.

For months and months I experienced nothing less than post-traumatic stress. The magical realism of staying put in our place together on the farm got me through the first year of shock. I survived; and my focus was on survival. Making sure I had enough dry firewood and not a chimney fire; keeping the pipes from freezing; planting, weeding and harvesting produce and seeds; clearing  snow off solar panels on the roof; paying the taxes; and grieving.  Somehow I got through all that and set up my own business as a book development editor, kept the business of On Warren Pond Farm and made it into a small seed company, and began to write again.

Grieving is a struggle to survive. I survived. Now what? Getting those answers seems to me to provide the clues to what next.

After experiencing tremendous physical pain, a broken wrist, my grief and health fused into an understanding of Sam’s death.

I couldn’t stay and survive all by myself on the farm. I needed more help than I had resources. It was more than a two person full time operation.  The efforts to survive would be my own death: hard work and financial doom. I had not chosen to die.

The opposite of fate is free will. Chance, circumstance, coincidence, serendipity, destiny, pre-ordained events, luck, and randomness are ghosts that haunt the living. If I had chosen not to die, then I had decided to live. This morning I began to make decisions about how to live.

There were many moments when I thought I’d rather be dead and magically reunited with Sam. But I can not tolerate pain. Self-inflicted pain is the worst. I have no tattoos and when I tried to have my ears pierced when I was 18, I passed out. With my luck, I would botch any suicide attempt and make my life worse, not over. And I’m pretty sure this is the only life I get and not so sure there’s anything after death.

Yet coming out of the anesthesia from my wrist surgery I somehow feel as though I crossed over and made my peace; I just am not allowed to remember my spirit visit with Sam. No longer terrified by reality,  I remain melancholy but open to the sweetness of spring this year.

Anesthesia: Signs of a shift

In Anniversary and memorials, Grief, Health, Mourning, Signs from beyond, Time and seasons on March 13, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Surgery on my wrist two weeks ago involved anesthesia. I don’t remember anything once the drip started down my IV. Waking up snuck up on me. The first recollection post surgery is walking out the hospital doors.

Anesthesia put me into a sleep and for days afterward I felt as though I’d been to the other side and my memory erased of the experience.  The dogs, Lucy and Scooby, smelled me all over and weren”t sure if it was really me. It was like I had a frontal lobotomy. I looked better and there was less pain, but I tasted metallic and felt numbed emotionally.

Every four hours I popped a Percocet for the first 48 hours, round the clock. The ice pack 20 minutes on, twenty minutes off; except when sleeping. The drugs didn’t stop the pain. They just made me stop caring that I was in pain. Dense. Serious brain fog.

Slept fifteen hours and cleaned out my system of the rest of the narcotic and lethal drugs. Went through the sweats and chills, headache and queasy tummy; a hangover.

This week marks the 18 month anniversary of Sam’s death and I realized I had to break my wrist to make the shift from grief to mourning. I am not crying all day long any more. I am taking care of myself; even when handicapped. I miss Sam terribly and love him still, but I am here and now it is time to move forward. The mourning begins.

Hi Doc!

In Health, Pictures and memories, Signs from beyond on March 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Leaving in fifteen minutes for the doctor’s office to get my cast off.

HOO -rah!

Broken right wrist on the mend. Let the blogging begin!

Kindness in action

In Friends, Health, Time and seasons on March 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Photo gallery

Two week ago (Sunday 9:30 am) I took a spill on the ice and broke my wrist when I tried catch myself with my outstretched hand. Heard it crack. Sat there for several minutes absorbing the trauma and releasing it out into the cold air with my sobbing.

Got up and back indoors. Pulled the ice pack out of the freezer and put it around my swelling hand. Called my landlord, Bruno Schickel, to notify him he really needed to put some sand down in the common areas. Boiceville Cottages offer someone like me a home without home-moaning. Bruno offered to take me to Urgent Care. While I waited for his arrival from church service, I called my sister Barb in Minnesota.

“Calm down. They won’t treat you if you are hysterical. It’s probably a sprain. Put some ice on it and elevate it. Take some Ibuprofen and call me when you get back home,” she advised. Since I’m allergic to Ibuprofen and had already iced and elevated, I focused on trying to calm down as I was going into shock from the pain.

In Minnesota, the squeaky wheel squeaks but the polite wheel gets the grease; on a schedule, per manufacturer’s recommendation.  Squeak and no one listens.

Riding in Bruno’s red pickup truck I bravely choked back the tears and the terror all the way to Urgent Care. Dr. Patricia Nelson took one good look at my forearm and assured me my pain was real and caused by a colles fracture. She wondered if I might not be from the Midwest.

“A bit stoic, eh?” she asked about my subdued pain response. Why did I let myself think my biggest problem was how crazy pain made me look to others?  My biggest problem was a painful broken wrist. I shouldn’t care how others look at me.

“Just stop my pain, Dr. Nelson!”

She splinted the entire forearm, and wrote a prescription for Vicodin and a referral to an Orthopedist on Monday.

Before I can finish making phone calls – to arrange for my friend Melissa to get me to the doctor’s, book the appointment, schedule some dog walkers, think about eating something on top of an upset queasy tummy – my mother has to call about the same time as the narcotic hit my brain. Dead slumber on my bed. I don’t know if it was 3 pm or 8 pm. My eyes couldn’t read the red numerals on the alarm and I’d taken my glasses off.

“Now I understand why Sam killed himself,” I confessed to my mother. “Nobody can take twice this level of pain and want to live.” Both his wrists had been broken by one of his cow buffalos when she headbutted him like a rodeo clown that last summer. Now I felt his pain in this narcotic fog. And all I could pray for was the pain to stop, oh Lord.

I slept fitfully according to the timed effects of Vicodin. Melissa drove over from Seneca Lake to take me to see Dr. Brett Young about my wrist first thing Monday morning. As a licensed massage therapist who had also broken her wrist several years ago, she was a great companion for my visit down torture lane. Melissa forewarned me in the waiting room there’d be more pain before I’d feel better. She tried to describe the barbaric instruments they’d use to pull the bones back into place. I giggled as she described little chinese chainwork fingercuffs they’d attach and let gravity work as traction. I got scared when the nurse escorted me into the examination room and there stood the very device.

“Let your intention be healing. Let your intention be no surgery,” Melissa said quietly to me. My intentions were not for this to happen. My intention was to stop the pain, now.

Dr. Brett Young tried various manipulations; and gravity didn’t pull any fast fix either. Another round of x-rays and Dr. Kimberly Carney-Young came in for a surgical consultation. A plate, some pins and good to go in weeks instead of months.

Wednesday morning outpatient surgery scheduled. Melissa flew off to Florida for a much deserved reprieve from winter’s wrath. And my dear friend Betsy arranged to get me through surgery and home again. A flurry of friends delivered dinner, loaves of bread, soups and casseroles, books and magazines, and well wishes. More friends and neighbors created a daily rotation of taking Scooby and Lucy out for walks, exercise and a little fresh air in their noses. Facebook friends, blog readers and friends far away showed up with compassion and real help.

Using a keyboard, much less my knitting needles, isn’t happening yet. My personal posts here will resume with my recovery, but I wanted to tell you why I’ve been so silent in this personal space.

My worst fear for this winter – falling down and breaking – had come to pass. Friends came to pick me up, and hold me up, in their kindness. This kindness is a magical healing superglue to put the pieces back into place.

Good News from Madison

In Friends, Signs from beyond on March 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I want to share some good news from my dearest friend, Amy Anderson. Yes, that’s the famous (or infamous) Amy EEEEEEE Anderson of my favorite knitting patterns and original designs. Never one to waste one minute on politics and other stuff there’s nothing you can do a thing about, Amy is on the frontlines of the Wisconsin workers’ protests.

Here’s what she wrote this morning:

Greetings to all my Out-Of-State Friends

For those of you who have been following the protests in Madison, I thought I’d offer you the view from the front line.  My desk, at work, looks out on the Capitol Building lawn and Tracy and I have joined the protests almost every day – both inside the Capitol Building and outside.

Some of the news broadcasts have portrayed the atmosphere as one of confrontation, or at least the verge of confrontation.  This is completely misleading.  The spirit in the crowd is one of incredible camaraderie and unity, and the interactions between police and protesters have been friendly and calm.  Hundreds of police officers who have been guarding the Capitol have come back on their own time to join the protests in solidarity and they are cheered by the crowds, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you”. 

Last week the Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee addressed the crowd with a letter signed by 500 ministers and rabbis from Wisconsin, telling Governor Walker (a born-again Christian) that they do not support his bill, which doesn’t just end collective bargaining for public employees but also kicks thousands of children off Badgercare which provides healthcare to low-income working families.

Many of you may have heard about Fox news getting busted for their bogus coverage – showing their reporter inside the Capitol Building and then showing angry protesters outside, screaming at police and pushing – only one problem, there were palm trees in the background, so………maybe not Wisconsin?  The following day, I got to work and looked down on the crowd to see a dozen protesters carrying plastic or inflatable palm trees.  This is only one example, from hundreds, of the sense of humor in the crowd.   One fellow stands outside in the freezing cold wearing an outfit (skirt, cummerbund, and beauty-pageant sash) made entirely of candy necklaces, with a sign that says, “I don’t look any more ridiculous than our governor”.  Every day we see a new favorite sign.  Here are two of my favorites:

Tea Party sounds so much nicer than racist, homophobic, low-wage Republican.

Thank God for CNN – How else would we know what’s happening on Twitter?

As for the hundreds of people who camped out inside the Capitol Building – here are just a few examples of how peaceful and cooperative this group was:

1.     In the wee hours of the night, they went around cleaning the building.

2.    They established a family area for people with young children

3.    They had a First Aid Station

4.    They set up their own Lending Library to share reading material

5.    They had tables set up with free food – thousands of people called local pizza places asking if they could donate pizza to the protesters.  Other restaurants and individuals are constantly delivering food (I took fresh baked scones 2 mornings last week, and discovered sleepy protesters inside, already eating hot breakfast burritos, coffee, and bagels.)

6.    During the first big weekend rally – the week that the public schools were closed for 3 days because so many teachers called in sick – they had 5 doctors standing on one of the street corners ready to write notes for any teacher who needed a doctor’s excuse in order to receive sick pay.

Tracy and I came to my office today to order our tickets for the film festival and we can hear a live band across the street, leading a crowd of 60,000 in songs like This Land is Your Land, and Love Train. 

Time to go join them.

tall shot of rotunda.jpg

Arlene’s voice

In Anniversary and memorials, Mourning, Signs from beyond on March 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm


Arlene Fisher had a dream shortly before she died. She dreamt that she saw Sam as a ten year old in the backyard again. He called out to her and waved. She heard him. For those who never knew Arlene, she was deaf. Arlene wrote a letter describing her dream to Sam’s mom and sister. Her letter arrived the she died.

March is the first anniversary of Don, Arlene and Brian Fisher’s death due to an auto accident in California. The Cayutaville Methodist Church newsletter reprinted a poem she wrote in January 1986 and I share it with you.

A Poem for Me

Looked out to see a sparrow;

Found a Cardinal sitting there.

Flinging his song in the air.

Looked out from a weary soul;

And saw a soft brown dove

A gentle, sharing bird.

A token of God’s love.

Walked out on a gloomy evening

And found a star-lit sky.

A sliver of silver moon

With soft clouds floating by.

Awoke one dismal morning

And found the world alight

A dusting of spakling frost

Had settled over night.

If only I would remember

On even the darkness day

God sends love and beauty

If only I’d look this way.

Arlene Fisher- January 1986

Broken wrist requires poem, Kindness

In Mourning on March 4, 2011 at 2:56 am

Lynn Leopold and Ellen Abrams gave me a copy of this poem. I broke my write wrist on Sunday Feb. 20th at 9:30 a.m. when I slipped and fell on ice. Lefty hunt and peck for now. This poem says it all. Perhaps dear reader you can find its source?

Gundy Lee sent me the source for this poem. Naomi Shihab Nye- Risking Everything 110 Poems and Revelation ed. Roger Housden, Harmony Books, New York, 2003 p,76.


Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.


Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.


Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.


Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say 

it is I you have been looking for,

and thengoes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.