Today was a respite from the hyperactive hallucinating with me tagging along hanging on to the gait belt.  For most of the last two days, Mary Ann has been sleeping or resting but certainly calm even when awake.  Her speech has improved even though she is saying very little.

Yesterday, she was almost completely unresponsive.  This morning she refused her shower.  Monday and this morning she seemed not to know her Bath Aide Zandra of whom she has come to be very fond. When I came in after the morning Spiritual Formation Group on the deck, she was sitting at the table with Volunteer Maureen trying to feed her some yogurt.  Mary Ann was crying.  I guess she had been since Zandra got her up.  I assumed she had had one of those sad dreams that sometimes come.  When I asked her about it, she said she couldn’t remember why she was crying.  She might have forgotten or she might not have wanted to tell me about it.  I think it was the former.

As the day has worn on, the short times she has been up have gone pretty well. She has seemed calm and lucid and connected.  I haven’t seen her that way in over a week.  It seems reasonable to conclude that the addition of a morning dose of Seroquel ten days ago made things worse rather than better.  I expect the hallucinations to begin firing up again, probably tonight, but I hope they will not be as intense as they were before we removed the morning dose of Seroquel. Whatever comes next in our relationship to a physician, I will be asking lots of questions about the Seroquel she is still taking, the night time dose.

The last two days have provided me with a little more rest.  Even if still tired, I feel better and seem to have regained the ability to experience moments of respite.  Last evening while Volunteer Patrice was at the house with Mary Ann, I went to my favorite local spot to enjoy that wonderful view and a spectacular sunset.  The sun was a huge ball with the light refracted enough so that it was possible to look at it as it passed behind a horizontal band of cloud, showing above and below the cloud before reaching the horizon.  As I was looking toward the sun the sky and clouds were glowing as if on fire.

Then I saw something I have seen in movies on rare occasions, but never in person.  I took the binoculars and pointed them in the direction of the sun, providing a view as if through a movie camera lense.  The air was filled with Cottonwood seeds, carried in those tufts of white fluff.  The sunlight caught them in a way that made them look just like the embers that fly up from a bonfire when the burning wood is stirred.  The air was full of those firey embers being blown gently across the scene provided by the binoculars.  It was sort of entrancing as I watched them floating through the air.

The weather allowed this morning’s Spiritual Formation Group to meet on the deck.  It was a beautiful morning in spite of predictions of storms.  The birds were loud and busy. The sky and clouds were in stark contrast of deep blue and bright white.  There was a breeze that cooled us periodically as we were warmed by the bright sun.  The conversation was thought provoking and satisfying as we caught sight of the power of community and the need to have reverence for others and the setting in which we live together.  As always, I am struck by the commonality that we have since we are all made of the same stuff, earth.  The first person in the Biblical account of creation is named Adam.  That name is the Hebrew word for earth, dirt, adamah. We call ourselves human, from the word humus, the dirt from which plants grow — fertile soil.  Whether one happens to have a spiritual view of reality or one without a spiritual dimension, the same is true.  We are made of the stuff of earth – all of us.  No one can claim to be better or more valuable than another and still speak the truth.  We may do things that when measured by others have greater or lesser value, but we are at the core, the same.  That seems to me to be the key in this hostile world to any path that might lead to real peace — no winners and losers, but full participants in our common humanity.   Such peace is only a dream in a broken world of imperfect people, but possibilities start with dreams.

Later this morning, I experienced a mini-retreat with fellow group member, former parishioner and friend Paul as we walked some property that reminded me a bit of my favorite place of Spiritual Formation, St. Francis of the Woods in Northern Oklahoma.  A friend of Paul graciously gave him permission to bring me out to this remarkable spot that provided an expansive and secluded field of wild flowers and native grasses completely surrounded by trees.  For me it was a bit of a step back in time to my childhood days of wonder over weeds and bugs and birds.

The deck and the area surrounding his friend’s house were filled with birdsongs.  There were wrens singing so loudly that it almost hurt my ears.  Other birds joined in.  Flowers in various stages of the growth cycle were to be found in bed after bed.  The trees were even dramatic in shape and texture as they reached into to one another, displaying varying shades of green. One large tree next to the deck had multiple gnarled trunks providing lots of play areas for the birds to entertain as they hopped from branch to branch.  There were art pieces, small and large, metal sculptures, everywhere I looked near the house.

Afterward, I was out of breath and hot and sweaty with boots wet from walking through the weeds but refreshed by the experience.  I am grateful to have felt good enough last evening and today to enjoy those experiences.

As I said, I am expecting the hallucinations to begin firing up today and tomorrow, based on past experience.  I am hoping that some of the contacts and calls will begin to bear fruit as we look for good medical care for Mary Ann for the rest of this journey.

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I am not sure how many there were sitting on the ice at the lake, but certainly fifteen or more.  It is a huge lake, so I could barely see some of them.  There were adults and juveniles in many stages of development.  They sat on the lake waiting for frozen fish to work their way close enough to the surface of the ice that they could get to them.

Many of them flew from one place to another.  At one point a beautiful black and white adult American Eagle flew right overhead, low enough so that I could practically count the feathers without using the binoculars.  Later a juvenile did the same thing.  The mottled brown and cream were bright and beautiful in the sunshine.

The Eagles interacted with one another.  They would land near each other.  At one point there were a cluster of four, two adults and two juveniles hopping toward each other, then flying a few feet away.  A while later there were two standing on the ice so close to one another that they were touching.  One was a juvenile and one an adult.  It looked like a parent and child (same size as parent) leaning on one another, both looking straight ahead in the same direction.  I suppose it could have been a May-December thing.  I don’t know enough about eagles’ behavior to be able to make an intelligent guess.

The most spectacular sight was of two eagles flying into each other, almost grasping talons in mid-air.  At one point one of them did a complete sideways somersault, a roll. “Contrary to traditional belief, eagles don’t copulate in the air but rather on a branch near their nest or on the ground.”  That is a quotation from a website named Birdhouses101.

It took a while for me to settle after the excitement of what I was seeing.  Once settled, I spent some time reading an article from Weavings, the Spirituality Journal that I read.  It was the second reading of the same article.  Many of the articles in the journal are a little like fruit juice concentrate.  They need some time thinking, some contemplation, to get the best and most satisfying flavor from them.

The third week in the online Ignatian Retreat I have been doing has provided Scripture passages and articles on a theme that has been reinforced by the online Prayers and exercises provided by Fr. Ed Hayes (through the National Catholic Reporter website).  The theme is appreciating God’s imprint on and activity in all dimensions of life, especially the natural environment, a little like the movie Avatar, but without crossing into Pantheism.  I haven’t yet seen the movie, but would like to see it on the big screen rather than waiting for the DVD to come out.

The time at the lake provided the perfect setting for contemplation of God’s presence.  It is a theme that provides respite and strength for the day to day demands.

Mary Ann had a reasonably good day.  Elaine spent time this morning with her while I headed to the lake.  Elaine always reads more pages in the book they have been working on for months.  When Elaine reads, she immerses herself completely in the story and the characters come to life.

Lunch was a grilled sandwich, none too exciting, but then the football playoffs were on television today. Mary Ann enjoys watching professional football.  When we went to our first Chief’s game in Kansas City, she wondered what the ten yard business was about.  Not too many years later she reached the point that she knew the names of most of the quarterbacks on the various teams.  She would yell out loud when the games were on.  She has become much more subdued, but sitll enjoys watching the games.

There have been some mild hallucinations today.  She only had a short nap on the couch today.  I prefer that she nap in her bed, since it is outfitted to deal with disposables leaking.  I put a chux on the couch for her to lie on just in case.

She is in bed now, but I don’t know how the night will go — whether or not it will be filled with raccoons and people and any other unwanted guests remains to be seen. Actually, I went in to see what her movements were about.  There were children again.  Then she looked over my shoulder as I was helping her to the commode and said, “What am I going to do with all those sponges?”  That is a new one.  I checked again and she was checking the children who she said had found their spots.  She asked for some tapioca.  As i was feeding the last of it to her, she jumped because the raccoon was nibbling her foot.  Then the bedding was moving.  I saw no movement.  I am anxious for the new order of Seroquel to come so that I can titrate from 100mg to 150mg per day.  Then we will see if there is any reduction in the hallucinations.

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