Tag Archives: Hope

The bass of the day

After finishing our Saturday chores, my husband and I went fishing on the Snake River at Chief Timothy Park today, surrounded by azure sky, Hells Canyon, and myriads of fish below us, as seen on our Garmin fish finder. After a little more than an hour, a 9″ bass latched on to Vic’s lure and agreeably permitted himself to be reeled in.

After about three hours on the River, I reckoned I was skunked again, but I never mind not catching any fish, though I’m always happy when I do. We headed back to the dock. Vic tethered Pisca-Dory to the dock and walked up to get our truck and boat trailer. While I waited the few minutes for him, I cast my line once from the dock, and reeled in an 11-1/2 inch bass!

I hailed Vic just as he arrived at the truck. The bass hadn’t fought at all as I reeled him in, but he was flipping vigorously as I held him up on the line, hoping he wouldn’t escape. I put on my grip gloves and secured him in our smaller cooler. Vic moved him to the larger cooler because it had more ice and better insulation. My focus was entirely on securing my catch; I hadn’t considered the coolers’ distinctives.

My bass is a beauty. And he wanted to come home with me! My skunking phase is broken, and will doubtless return. But today’s catch at the end of our fishing day reminds me that whatever is suspended for a season will almost always be renewed.  >><<>°

Vic at the tiller

I’m fishing, ever hopeful. . .


The scenic walls of Hells Canyon

Vic holds my bass so I can photograph him


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Ernie plays in a steel drum band!

In my dreams, we ship Ernie off to Westlake Square, where he is the first mouse ever recruited to join a steel drum band.

Three Ernies before him this week succumbed to spring traps where they practiced on our furnace vents, day and night. We really aren’t horrible; the space is simply too tight for a Have-a-Heart trap. Before we replaced the original plastic vents with steel, the first resourceful Ernie gnawed his way into a vent, into the furnace, and into the house. It was his final Very Bad Idea. After that, we acquired a H-a-H, from which I released Ernie II in a pleasant picnic ground some miles away. But the current steel-thwarted Ernie generation will see no picnic park.

Coolidge seems to be rallying on the weight front; he lost just two ounces last week, after losing three to four in previous weeks. He has gained back a full ounce in three days. Unfortunately, but we knew inevitably, his glucose numbers make it clear that feline endocrine systems, like human ones, remind us that this side of glory is whacked—sin-whacked. Diabetes, which will not exist in fully redeemed creation, is a disease, and disease is disorder. Health conducive to ongoing survival is ordered. Redeemed creation is ordered. But for now, our cat’s health is not ordered, and hasn’t been for nine of his nearly 17 years. Eh bien, nous continuons. . . .

The first two of the first daffodils we have planted at our present house came into bloom today: a cheery sight. They are such complex life forms, and will spend so little time with us! What a gracious boon it is to have them here!

Miracles of God’s grace abound in our midst. Our cat continually keeps us mindful that our times are in God’s hands alone; the complex frailty of a daffodil; a mouse who persuades me to imagine he aspires to play in a steel drum band. . .

0326151329 first daff 2015


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A cat, a bell, and a long slog toward hope

My cat, my cat, you are becoming unintelligible and I am humbled that I ever imagined a possibility of expertise with your afflictions. Yours wound me as my own.

Coolidge’s diabetes has gone renegade since his thyroid went volcanic. I can’t do radical increases with the long-lasting type of insulin he needs, and there’s just no chasing the numbers anymore—but if he’s stuck in the mid-200s, with occasional nosedives into the 40s and 50s, at least he isn’t stuck in the 300s, and he doesn’t have ketones.

And now the new wonder formulation of thyroid suppressant is making sores in his ears. And Friday he had a blood test for his T4 and it’s much too high. Still. His T4 was perfect when he was taking the pills, and of course the pills didn’t hurt his ears. But they made him inappetent.

It’s not my fault, but that doesn’t matter: I feel incompetent anyway. Frustrated, discouraged, and incompetent. I’m letting him down. After all, what’s so hard to figure out? An endocrine system is only a little more complicated than the whole rest of creation.

My husband gave me a little bell for my chain link bracelet. It’s such a pretty little bell, and my husband knew the significance of the bell to me. I hear the bell ringing as the ringer cries, “Unclean, unclean!” And so I am, unclean and yet scoured. A sinner saved by grace. Already and not yet: already redeemed and not yet perfected. That’s not for this life. The timing of our pastor’s exposition of this theme last week was a more than welcome refresher.

My cat groans, joining the rest of Creation that awaits the end of the effects of the Fall. Man took down all of Creation with him when he first sinned, when he rebelled against God. Disease and death are the consequences of man’s rebellion: hyperthyroidism, diabetes, ulcerated ears, and the inevitable end of each wondrous life itself.

My cat has, I think, a sense that none of this is his fault. We have always encouraged him to believe that nothing is ever his fault. Nothing could be his fault because he is not sin-tainted. Only humans can exercise a conscious will to sin. I sense that he knows it is I, not he, whose intrinsic defectiveness has brought certain unpleasant things—things like pin pricks, injections, caustic medicine, and sore ears—about. But my cat cannot abstract; he cannot hope. I can abstract and I do have hope; and I even have a little bell to bring to mind that I already have that for which I hope. But not yet.

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Coolidge, my companion cat of 15-1/2 years: we’ve gone through some rough diagnoses together. We’ve kept each other comfortable. I’ve treated his diabetes since 2006, and he’s purred at my side and diminished my discouragement since my diagnosis with Addison’s disease in 2007. Now he has also developed hyperthyroid. It seemed a simple thing to regulate—just a very small half-pill, morning and evening.

But the methimazole was treacherous. My cat stopped eating. The pill form of the drug can cause inappetence. He refused any and all low-carbohydrate canned foods he had eaten before the hyperthyroidism arrived. This was especially frustrating because kibbles jack up his glucose so much. I fought back with gradual increases in his insulin. Untreated, his thyroid would blow up his heart. Surgery and radiation aren’t thinkable at his age. Better to stay with methimazole and chase down the glucose numbers.

My vet and I decided it was worth the additional complexity to ditch the pills and go with transdermal methimazole, which doesn’t have the liabilities of the pill form, but it doesn’t have the simplicity, either. This formulation is prepared by a compounding pharmacy. I have to syringe a small amount of the medication into my cat’s ear. It resolves inappetence and GI issues in most cases, but the pills are normally prescribed first because they’re so much simpler to administer. If this would resolve his increased glucose levels, and even more critically, restore his appetite, it would be worth everything.

Inappetence in a diabetic cat can quickly bring on hepatic lipidosis—it took Coolidge only four days back in 2006— and a feeding tube was necessary for nine horrible weeks that summer. Pancreatitis also menaces the inappetent diabetic. And, obviously, so does starvation. So initially we fed him kibbles and the most wholesome treats we could find. They were like junk food, full of carbs, but they were the best food in the world, because my cat would eat them.

I broke into sobs the next morning when the heartless glucose meter read 372. It was 365 the previous evening, after Coolidge’s first transdermal dose. I have a low tolerance for slow progress.

My vet wanted me to try a diabetes management kibble, Purina D/M. I picked up a bag this morning, along with two cans of D/M, in case he might still transition back to the lower-carb canned form. Coolidge is finicky, but by God’s merciful grace, he tucked into the D/M kibbles with renewed alacrity. He snubbed the canned D/M, but at least he can get off the high-carb kibbles. Not only did he eat a small but sustaining portion, which in itself was enthralling, but his evening glucose was only 95!

There’s a reason this chow costs $34 for a six-pound bag. It’s the only Hail Mary trick I have left. Time—I hope not much time—will tell whether the transdermal formulation will restore Coolidge’s appetite and lower his glucose to more tenable levels on the diabetic spectrum.

My cat’s diseases are necessarily complicated because they interact. You can’t treat any of them as a discrete circle, stack the circles, and celebrate a series of victories; you have to chase them through a pernicious spiral formation. You always end up in a broken ring. It’s like Mutually Assured Destruction, only it’s Assured Destruction of Patient. That is because all patients are mortal beings; there was a Fall, remember? And now all creation groans under the sentence of death. It sucks, but it is what it is, and for the very most part it is very beautiful and very wonderful. Still, there are snakes in every paradise.

I can’t know how long Coolidge or I or anyone else has to live in our unique assigned spirals. All I can know is that I’m throwing metaphorical hail Mary passes and we’re keeping each other comfortable, as long as there’s a goal post left standing.

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Snippets from a recent tour of reality

I’m at a loss to express the beauty of the day, but my husband shot this photo of our flax in its full glory; and it’s straw-hat weather, even with the wind.

Flax 5.4.13

I have all three of our local Starbucks stores trained! I am able to get a pour-over of Espresso Roast when the brewed coffee they are serving as the Bold of the Day is a medium roast instead of a dark, with no quizzical expressions from the crew! While this may have little impact on 99.9% of the world’s population, it keeps my Starbucks Experience from faltering from superlative into borderline dreadful.

I’ve been losing interest in the news for some time; or maybe it’s simply been too difficult to assign myself Things with which I Should Probably be Somewhat Conversant. I find my overwrought sympathies fleeing to Anzor Tsarnaev. His wife is a moonbat from hell, his psycho-bomber sons didn’t exactly make good in America, and he is back someplace in Russia, his once respectable life now ignominious and utterly broken. All else seems mundane, and the senior Tsarnaev’s plight is too melancholy to follow. Running concurrently was coverage of the White House Correspondents Dinner, which gave me to realize that the President, when laughing at his own jokes, bears a fair resemblance to Chuck E Cheese. I would prefer never to have known this.

I think that at some point I just feel robbed. The media would extort the mental and emotional energy that is better spent on individuals with whom I share a wonderful montage of shared reality that is founded in eternal truth. My hope is not in transient images and events. Hope is found only in eternal truth, and all else must be interpreted by revealed eternal truth; for instance, this:

23 Behold the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intentions of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand this. –Jer. 30:23-24 (ESV)

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Aunt Fran on Aging

My husband has enviable genes on both sides of his family: they maintain full cognitive powers to the end of life. We still have his mom (our only remaining parent), 79, and her sister Fran, 80. This Christmas, Aunt Fran sent us a card with her insights on aging that I thought amazing, and I knew she wouldn’t mind if I shared them.

I’m observing the aging process at the end of life as opposed to the growing process at the beginning—why the term “growing” old? Since metaphorically growing is inaccurate (grow = increase in size; develop: Random House Dictionary); nor does “growing up” apply as we age—I’m much shorter than in years back. God willing, one is willing and able to observe the decline and/or deterioration of one’s own mind and body. Life is such a process and I look back acknowledging that God is my best friend—and how I’ll hold on to Him—but now aware that Christ has been holding me so close to Him in His loving arms. . .

I adore Aunt Fran.


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prisoner of hope

I was thinking recently about hope, with some fairly random thoughts circulating, like planetary rings, around some sort of core of specificity, but they didn’t come into focus until I was reading Lamentations this morning. The streets of Jeremiah’s Jerusalem somehow began to trigger an image of Europe’s imaginable future, a grim image set off by the mayhem of London’s recent riots. Brits are not emotional, downturn-crazed Greeks. The riots that made me wonder where Mayor Sam Yorty was when we needed him were ignited by the architects of our republic. And it made me specifically nervous. How close the push in my country is to a shove, and when the shove might come, I couldn’t bring myself to consider.

But something stayed my mind from wandering too far, a sensibility I too seldom grant landing rights. It was murky at first, like a large but flawed diamond, but I recognized the sensibility as hope. And providentially, hope was all over the pages I was reading today.

Jeremiah grieves the horrific, barbarous destruction and humiliation of his beloved city and people. In anguish he recites his lament to the God who has filled him with bitterness and made him drink wormwood (Lamentations 3:15). But then, his anguish is quickly displaced by hope. He remembers his “affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall” (v. 19). Then he comes to himself. “My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (v. 20-22). Jeremiah continues with a discourse praising God’s goodness and mercy.

Later, I was reading a book on prayer by Matthew Henry, and he was talking about God’s covenant with His people, citing Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” Our God of wonders — our Stronghold — makes His people prisoners of hope. Mercifully, there is no escape from hope.

I have been indifferent as non-solutions are proffered and applied to the economy, like so much paste wax, because we are too afraid to let go of failed monetarism and bear a season of acute pain until we settle into a market-driven economy. Yes, I actually live in a state of diehard hope of such a thing, but it is not a sure hope. But Russia did it, and now Russia has a sound economy, while the United States is compared to Greece and Venezuela. If pride alone gets us back on track, then good for pride.

I’ve been equally indifferent to all the campaigns and debates. Scoffers malign Ron Paul for telling the truth in a way reminiscent of the treatment received by Jeremiah the prophet, whose words came true. I have hope that Ron Paul will be President, but not a sure hope.

Our money may fail, atrocities may strike our cities, and Ron Paul most likely will never be President. There isn’t anything I can do about any of it. For prisoners of hope, the war goes on, within ourselves, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

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