|Name Of Column
||Debi Austin (replay 2007)
||Through the Looking Glass
||News & Events
||HME Devices - Ceredas
||Help is at our Fingertips
||Travel to Where?
||Light and Darkness
|The Speechless Poet
||Len A Hynds
||Prose & Poetry
|Bits, Bytes & No Butts!
||Learning New Uses For Old Tech
INDEX AND LINKS TO EACH ISSUE MAY BE FOUND AT: http://webwhispers.org/news/WotWIndex.asp
The Other Side of the Looking Glass
"Oh The Places You'll Go" was written by Dr Seuss, the world's greatest doctor. When he was diagnosed with throat cancer he wrote, "You're Only Old Once, a book for obsolete children." Ted Gisel, Dr Seuss, died August 1991 of throat cancer. I sent my office staff home that day. Little did I know 14 months later I would need these books more than ever.
We often talk about the people we have become, after surgery. Some have an easier time adjusting than others and no one knows for sure why this is. Some will say the support groups and our caregivers have a great deal of effect on how we view the world at this point. I am sure that is true. I have found that the ability to understand relationships is another beneficial tool in our progression.
Earlier this year I was forced/bullied into taking a relationship class because a research project that I did, was considered cold and impersonal, even though no one argued with the findings. I have no doubt that it was exactly as they said but it was research, not soul searching. However, the class gave me insight into another major part of my life - being a laryngectomee. It was not "just" a surgery, a continuing disability, or even a major lifestyle change. Ummm, now comes the soul searching.
I was pushed down the rabbit hole and came out on the other side of the looking glass! A very large part of my being was destroyed. I was mentally and physically scarred, and disfigured. This was no emotional roller coaster; I had been derailed. All of my life. I heard, "When something bad happens, pick up the pieces and move on." What do you do when someone takes some of your pieces away? How do you put your life back together when you don't know who you are anymore? My voice was not all that was missing but how do you explain that to someone that has never been through this? How do you explain anything for that matter?
Did you ever have a pretend friend when you were a kid? The one you blamed whenever you got caught in the cookie jar or picking mom's flowers? There were times I considered my laryngectomy part as my evil twin, my split personality so to speak. That was not me; it was some stranger that I simply could not get rid of, lock the door on, or just come to terms with. This sounded too much like my first marriage. Then realization set in. This is not an evil twin that I need to contend with, this is a relationship that I need to work at. Hard work! I have to make this be the answer for me because any other option is unthinkable. It was not living with the common cold that I had to contend with. I had a shadow relationship I had to make work in order to maintain a quality of life. This is the hardest relationship I have ever maintained. I once compared it to having a "high maintenance" boyfriend with no fringe benefits. What has happened to me does not define who I am. I am who I am because I have learned from what has happened to me. At least I try very hard to make this true.
My support group was awesome. We talked about everything that we went through. I listened to ladies talk about issues I didn't realize were "my" issues until I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking, DUH... that is what this is. I would make notes and give them to my doctor. At one time, shortly after surgery, I got to the point I could barely walk up the stairs to my apartment. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me. I said something to Elizabeth Finchem about this because I was thinking that the cancer was somewhere else. Elizabeth told me to have my thyroid checked. Bingo! My surgeon had left clean lines, the radiation was not aimed close enough to the thyroid (they thought) but no one considered this until I brought it up. After hurdling that obstacle, life looked so much better. The next challenge came with finding someone that knew there was a difference between non functioning and mal functioning. Seemed pretty clear to me, not always true in the medical field, they have other issues to consider also, the big picture so to speak.
I specialized in "at risk" youth because I always heard that if you make a mistake it stays with you all your life. This is only true if you are surrounded by narrow, empty, people. Many things in life cannot be changed, but you are in total control of the person you are and how you want to see the world. One of my inspirations is a lady that came to the same support group where I was a member for many years. Margie has had a feeding tube many of these 14 years, she has had many surgeries and disappointments. This is a lady that has had to fight every day to have a quality of life. She is a survivor! She is a positive comment on swimming through the devastation. This is a woman that had to make a relationship with evil to have a good life and raise an wonderful family. You get to choose how you make this relationship work for you.
Dance, choose adventure. Always be aware of a life fully lived. When you surround yourself with people who expect little of you, you will live up to their expectations. When you surround yourself with people who expect more of you, you will exceed their expectations. Live out loud!
Written in 2007 by Debi Austin, who passed away two years ago. Her cleverness is missed by many and when I was searching for something in our 2007 files, I came across it and started reading. It contains some thoughts that could help many of us and is like a gift to end this year and start another.
The CYRANOSE® HME* from Ceredas
Pulmonary rehabilitation after total laryngectomy
The consequences of total laryngectomy
Laryngectomy results in a significant modification of the respiratory system that leads to an absence of filtration, warming, and humidification. Everywhere, and in all seasons, laryngectomy patients are subjected to the full force of variations in ambient air. This includes dryness in summer and in winter with certain types of heating systems; sudden drops in temperature, even in the summer, with air-conditioning; and pollen in the spring. Since inspired air is no longer filtered, warmed, or humidified by the upper airways, the respiratory system is exposed to hypersensitivity of the epithelium, pollution and particle inhalation, coughing, an increased volume of mucous, drying and irritation, scabs and mucous plugs.
The creation of the CYRANOSE® HME* (Heat Moisture Exchanger): the extraordinary story of a man with a mission
Starting in 1985, when he personally underwent a total ablation of the larynx, Robert Bezicot dedicated thousands of hours of work to developing a device that would alleviate the consequences of total laryngectomy. He made up for his lack of material means with an abundance of tenacity, single-mindedness, and expertise. The CYRANOSE® HME* was finally launched in 1991. This was the start of a great adventure with the founding of Ceredas in 1993, the rapid extension of the company's activities, and the development, over the years, of new devices such as the CYRANOSE® Global System.
The CYRANOSE® HME*: the pulmonary rehabilitation system from Ceredas
Prior to total laryngectomy, inspired air is conditioned by the upper respiratory tract, especially in the nose. Inspired air at 22°C (71.6°F) and 40% relative humidity (RH) is warmed and humidified to a temperature of 32°C (89.6°F) and 99% RH in the larynx, then to 37°C (98.6°F) and 100% RH in the lungs (Ingelstedt, 1956). The loss of air-processing ability in the upper airways leads to a reduction in these values. Inspired air at 22°C (71.6°F) and 40% RH is warmed only to 27-28°C (80.6-82.4°F) and humidified to 50% RH in the upper trachea (Keck et al., 2005).
The CYRANOSE® HME* offers a reusable medical device for laryngectomy patients that is designed to warm, humidify, and filter inspired air to improve respiration by mimicking the natural action of the upper airways during respiration (before surgery).
The 1994 LNE GMED No. 31240264/1T report (Evaluation of Heat and Moisture Exchange and Filtration) gave the following results for an analysis of CYRANOSE® HME* functioning: in temperate climates, inspired air at 20°C (68°F) is warmed to 33°C (91.4°F) and humidified to 95%; upon expiration, temperature value is 37°C (98.6°F) and relative humidity is 100%. In winter, inspired air at 5°C (41°F) is warmed to 28°C (82.4°F) and humidified to 95%; upon expiration, air temperature is 37°C (98.6°F) and relative humidity is 100%.
These impressive performances were obtained through the use of 316L stainless steel in the CYRANOSE® HME* secretion trap and casing, making it possible to process air in a way that is close to natural respiration.
Description / use
The CYRANOSE® HME* is inserted into the patient’s tracheostomy using a special base and disposable double-sided adhesive tape. It is available in two sizes that correspond to the size of the tracheostomy opening. Other reusable elements in the nose include a 316L stainless steel secretion trap that makes it possible to retain mucous and continue breathing without having to change the device, a foam particulate filter and a casing, which is also made from 316L stainless steel (standard or valve-type if the patient is wearing a voice prosthesis), to close the device.
The CYRANOSE® HME* is both economical and ecological, since all its component parts can be reused (wash with soap and water), except for the double-sided adhesive tape, which is disposable and should be changed daily.
CYRANOSE® HME* benefits
The CYRANOSE® HME* enables**:
- Air filtration on a par with that of the upper airways, leading to less coughing,
- Humidification of the upper airways, preventing the formation of scabs and mucous plugs,
- Improved heating and humidifying performance thanks to the use of 316L stainless steel that leads to a reduction in secretions and easier breathing.
In addition to providing high-quality pulmonary rehabilitation, the CYRANOSE® HME* can be decorated or ornamented with a piece of jewelry, an aesthetic choice adopted by many female users of this device.
Ceredas today: loyalty and innovation
Twenty years after its creation, Ceredas is now directed by Robert Bezicot’s sons, who carry on their father’s work. Their sole credo is to continue striving to satisfy the needs of the laryngectomy patients, doctors, and other healthcare professionals who have put their trust in the company.
President and CEO of Ceredas
Complete References available upon request
For more information on the CYRANOSE® HME*, please consult our www.ceredas.com website
Help is at Our Fingertips
This Christmas season has been challenging. My dad has failed considerably since Thanksgiving and is now bed-ridden and requires round the clock care. I am grateful to be able to be there for my folks but it is stressful.
The week before Christmas my house was a disaster. It was still only partly decorated and some boxes never got unpacked. I have always loved the holidays but this year I had little time to enjoy the traditional rituals of trimming the tree and hanging the lights and garland. Let alone find time to go shopping.
Thank goodness for Amazon Prime and my grand-daughters’ Scholastic Book Clubs from school. I managed to do all my shopping online and the weekend before Christmas pretty much everything had arrived even if nothing was wrapped.
Back in the fall my sister-in-law and I had planned to have a special outing with the older girl, now 5, and take her to the Nutcracker Ballet and then have a sleepover at their house. Kayleigh had a new outfit, all sparkles and taffeta and was so excited- her first real ballet performance. We headed out on the two hour drive Saturday morning after a particularly stressful week with Dad. I so wanted to be excited with Kay but I was running on reserve.
A we started to get dressed at my brother’s house my mood had not been improved a by a rather sanctimonious scolding from my sister-in-law but I dropped the subject and soldiered on. Then disaster – in the midst of our costume change, Kay needed help and I dropped my Servox from up about 5 feet onto a hardwood floor. I could tell by the sound as it hit I was in trouble. I hadn’t brought my back-up, which was actually all packed and ready to be shipped out to Jim Lauder for a badly-needed tune-up. I picked up my voice and had nothing but tiny faraway buzzing which yielded no voice.
It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I started to cry and poor Kay looked on in dismay. She tried consoling me, “It’s okay, Nanny, I can still understand you.” Actually she can read my lips. Mary tried to offer suggestions, saying it wasn’t that bad- well maybe it wasn’t to her but it was to me. It was a very low moment.
Fast forward- we made it to the ballet and Kay adored it. I fiddled with the Servox enough to get a bit more volume but was still only barely audible. I had my son retrieve the other disabled Servox and bring it up to my folks’ house where we were all meeting up the next day. That one worked but only temperamentally- conking off about every other time I tried to talk.
More frustration as I tried to figure out how I could get one of them to the Post Office the next day, overnight to Texas, repaired and back in a few days all 4 days before Christmas. I was just getting ready to send a panicky-email to Jim Lauder when I remembered the WebWhisper loan closet. Panicky e-mail to Pat Sanders and loan closet custodians, Roger and Carol Johnson- HELP!!
And help they did. Monday morning they picked out a newly refurbished Servox with plenty of volume (Dad is very deaf) and sent it off by priority mail with a guarantee of delivery no later than 3pm Christmas Eve day. Well, Christmas Eve came and went with no delivery. We were muddling along and I was getting ready to head back up to my folks’ when what to my wondering eye should appear but a lonely and rather grumpy USPS postal worker at 1pm Christmas Day with the errant package. Not sure how that happened and he offered no explanation as to why he was working when the PO was closed. Perhaps if he had known just how valuable that package was, not just any old late toy it might have improved his mood. He left before I could explain.
So I open the package, put in the battery and discover a very low - like basso profondo low tone. I know basically how to adjust the tone but when I got the cover off I couldn’t seem to get it adjusted. Back to the internet which had saved my life so many times in the recent past; go to You Tube and search Servox Guru. There the man himself (thank you very much, Jim Lauder) gives me a quick primer on adjusting the pitch and we are set to go with my very own normal (for me) sounding voice!
So it’s 2am the day after Christmas at my folks and dad I think is finally falling asleep. He wanted me to sit with him for a while. Several times I asked if he was okay and needed anything and he said, “No, I’m comfortable. I can see you and I can hear you. Thank you for staying here.” My voice- the only one he has known me with for the last 11 years was reassuring to him … and so it was to me.
Oftentimes the discussion threads on the list are not relevant to my situation but I always read them and I obviously consider WebWhispers a critical part of our support system. I’ve never needed the loan closet before; as a matter of fact always thought of it more for newbies who either were waiting on a TEP or folks who hadn’t been able to afford a device. The beauty of WW is its versatility and its ability to connect us to valuable resources tailor made for our unique needs.
With the internet, even without a voice, help is always right at our fingertips.
(Under the category of Services, is the loan closet listing. We accept donations of instruments from you and applications for loans of these units and have helped many of you. All the rules, addresses and "how to" is found at: http://webwhispers.org/services/loan-closet.asp Editors)
For the first question of 2015, please tell us if you plan to travel or take a special vacation next year.
If not, maybe you could still share with us where you would have liked to go and what you would like to see."
Travel to Where?
Max Hoyt, Delaware - Sep 1991
For my special 2015 trip, I am planning on attending the IAL in Baltimore this year. I want to renew some old friendships. I also want to spend some time with the vendors. I have found that is the easiest way to get up to date.
Pat Sanders, Birmingham, AL - Mar 1995
I want to be one of the old friendships renewed for Max! Really good to see old friends. I always learn from the vendors, seeing new products to talk about, and meeting new members that I have only known by name and email address. And my co-workers! How I love getting together with them!
Mike Rosenkranz, Plantation, FL - Jan 1999
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." C.S. Lewis
Last June my daughter, Sue, was going to cancel a scheduled appearance before an international conference in Dublin. She was concerned about leaving her 90-year-old father alone for nine days. I told her I would miss her when I arrived in Dublin. We spent a glorious nine days touring Ireland; this was the first time we had vacationed together in 27 years. It was the start of a new tradition.
This June, we shall be in Wales, Sue's all-time favorite. We already have our reservations, and are looking forward to another great vacation. C.S. Lewis was right. You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
Rush Stuart, Arley, AL - Feb 2012
Last year my wife and I took a trip (the one cancelled due to cancer surgery in 2012) to Rome and the Amalfi Coast in late April and early May. We followed that with a New England / Canadian Maritime Provinces cruise in late September. Since hot weather seems to bother me, we chose to take long vacations in the spring and fall that finds the weather milder and the crowds smaller. We took our first extended vacation after my surgery in September 2013 - an Alaskan land and sea cruise.
Next year we plan a trip in late August to Ireland with Vagabond Tours (a small group tour company) and a Bourbon Trail vacation in the spring to see the Bluegrass country of Kentucky.
Being a planner, I have identified vacation destinations that will take me into the next decade. So far (knock on wood) I have had no problem being a larynee tourist.
Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
Mary Ritter Beard
Sapp Funderburk, Taylors, SC
OH yes! I went to Europe for 2 weeks last year and it was great. I went back to my fathers family roots. The public transportation in the cities is great and the intercity trans are wonderful and on time. I was surprised at the number of people that had some kind of connection to Laryngectomees. For example in Cologne I had a waitress from Latvia whose grandfather had a laryngectomy, In Munich I met a surgeon from India who has preformed about 20 Laryngectomees. There were great Museums such as The Roman-German and Chocolate Museums in Cologne, Van Gogh Museum and the Red Light Tour and Heineken Brewery In Amsterdam. Yes there were free samples but only at the Chocolate Museum and Heineken Brewery. Even though I ate almost every thing in sight including pastries and drank beer like a German I lost 1 pound because of all the walking I did. Only once or twice did I have a language problem but with a little pointing and hand gestures I never starved, or got lost. Only once did I get on the wrong bus but I just stayed on it and sooner or later we got back where we started.
In 2015 I have more plans. In addition to Baltimore for the IAL Annual Meeting and Voice Institute I hope to go to Ireland, England and Scotland. Again I'll be looking for my family roots and while I'm there I visit museums and famous places.
Sharon Severini, CT - 11/2012
I do not plan on doing any traveling in 2015. I would love to take granddaughter to Florida, Disney and South Daytona beach. The fact of the matter is I am 2 yrs out and afraid to go so far. Or even to go to the next state over from CT!! I am terrified something will go wrong with my indwelling TEP or worse. I do not even like to drive more than 15 or 20 minutes from my home.
I wear my HME 24 hours a day and do not have any major problems. I just do not know why I am still so paranoid at this stage. Oh well maybe I will begin to feel more comfortable as more time goes by. I just do not know. I am even in my 6th month now with same TEP. Due for a change of it in Jan. 2015
Well guess I will just hope I can feel more comfortable soon about travel.
Thanks for listening!!
Rita Kinney, Aptos, CA - March 1993
My husband and I are looking forward to a wonderful cruise to the Hawaiian islands to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We will be joined by our 2 children, daughter in law and two granddaughters. I have been blessed with a beautiful and supportive family which made the last 23 years so exciting.
Jack Henslee, Stockton, CA - 1979
I just finished a 14 day Caribbean Cruise during which I visited 8 islands, 7 of which I had never been to before and several of them got my attention for a possible extended return someday. But, while on board they made me a great offer for a San Francisco to Alaska 11day round trip in May that I couldn't pass up. Free beverages for 2, free gratuities, and a $300 on board credit for that cruise plus a $300 credit for the cruise I was on. Then the bonus... since SF is only 70 miles away from my home I also get free round trip transportation to the ship and back. Too hard to say no!
Somewhere in Europe is also probable since I love the history and museums so much. Maybe in the fall when it's less crowded.
Also sent by Jack Henslee with quote from a Look Who's Talking club member, now passed.
I don't care where I go as long as it's by cruise ship.
Joe Hilsabeck, Edelstein, IL - 2009
We will most likely spend 2 weeks, just like we have for the past 37 years, at Lake Shelbyville in IL. We started going there and camping out when our son and daughter were were just tots.
We have gone there every year , with our kids and grandkids , sometimes they can only stay a few days at a time. Whenever we have suggested maybe we should rent a cabin, our kids say no way that wouldn't be the same. So we now have our kids, son and daughter, their spouses, 6 grandkids plus a couple of strays acquired over the years. We fish, swim , boat, tube and ride the seadoo. I've had to become the pontoon boat captain, which we use as a floating base on the lake. Sometimes my wife and I go see other parts of the U.S. during the year but the annual family campout has become a tradition.
Richard Crum, Jeffersonville, IN - 1988
and Jan Paddocks
We are planning on a cruise in August. This will be our 12 cruise. We will fly to London UK and cruise to Ireland and Scotland. After the cruise we hope to spend 6 days in Ireland. We have been to Ireland twice and look forward to visiting again. We love cruises.
Len Hynds, Ashford, Kent, England
My eldest son surprised me when he and his wife planned to take me on a cruise to Norway and Sweden next year, I was looking forward to this, and making plans in my mind regarding it, when he told me that when he was making enquiries about travel insurance for the three of us, the insurers threw up their hands in horror when told that ' Dad ' was not only 84, but that he was a Laryngectomee, also that he had a pacemaker, and a metallic heart valve, amongst other odd things, So my son, ever resourceful, has booked a 62 foot canal boat, the ' Eagle', a luxury boat, and we are going cruising through the Brecon Mountains in mid Wales in high summer. I have studied the route we are taking, past isolated castles and mediaval houses, crossing valleys far below us as we cross on aqueducts, abd visiting the quaint Welsh villages en route, such as Abergavenny and Brecon, and skirting around those majestic mountains, climbing ever higher through those locks, I can at least drive this 62 footer, and it will be quite like old times.
My daughter-in-laws parents are joining us from Hong Kong, and neither can speak English. Should be fun going through some long tunnels in the dark, when I kid them they have to lay on the roof and walk the boat through with your feet on the roof of the tunnel.
As mischievous as ever.
Phil Walrond, Roanoke, VA - Dec 2007
Well, I hear that in 2017 we are going to going to make an attempt to go to Mars. I want to be on that ship.
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
Leonardo da Vinci
Margo Ziegler, Minnesota -
Permanent trach 1996
My husband and I have been "campers" for years and years, but we don't travel very far from home anymore. We used to go out to the west coast and such, but now seem just as happy going to our favorite small towns in South Dakota. We plan for this trip every year since getting our little Scamp trailer back in 1997. We no longer have that tiny little trailer and actually sold it to a nice retired couple who were going to travel to Alaska in it! And they did too! They sent us pictures and were so excited about buying our little camper from us only 4 yrs. ago. I am happy to tell you all that we now stay in motels. But, we still visit the areas in South Dakota that we so love. Such wide open areas and such friendly people there. Our favorite spot is Ft. Sisseton, where we camped many, many times on the way out to California. Ft. Sisseton back in 1975, didn't even have "camp sites" as such, but we just parked the truck by one of the picnic tables and spent the night there! Slept in the back of the truck in those days! My husband and I just can't get enough of the wonderful South Dakota prairies and small town folks. Great place to find open space and quiet time when you want it. We already start thinking about the NEXT trip even as we are coming back home!!! We look forward every year, to our September trip to South Dakota!
Evansville IN (home),
Mechanicsburg PA (work -)
My wife and I are taking Viking's " Mediterranean Odyssey" cruise from Venice to Barcelona with many stops along the way. We're also staying a couple of sightseeing days pre- and post-cruise, so we'll be gone about 3 weeks altogether. We reserved this trip two years ago when it was first announced, so we are getting pretty excited (120 days, but who's counting :)
Best regards and Happy Holidays.
Noirin Sheahan, Dublin, Ireland - 2013
My next holiday will start in mid Jan - when I head accross the Irish Sea to Wales and a little meditation centre in a Welsh valley near the border with England and the Shropshire hills. I've been going there on retreats or to teach meditation for many years but this will be my first retreat since surgery last year. So another milestone in my recovery. I'm planning to stay for two months. And it will be a silent retreat - heaven for a Lary I think!
Randy Borne, Belle Chasse, LA - 2006
Plan on taking a three week trip to Europe this Spring!
Scott Sysum, Concord, CA - Aug 2008
I really have no travel plans for 2015, other then the train ride to work each day (which is almost an hour and fifteen minutes each way). I am not complaining but my first hour of pay goes to pay the train ride. That's why I spend my first hour of pay reading the SF Examiner and eating breakfast.
I am thinking this year, maybe, I will take a road trip to Phoenix, AZ, Sun City West to see my mother, she is 86. I don't think I will make it to 86, but she is still kicking. We had a little falling out, she blamed my cancer on my bad habits, which is true, but heck who wants to be reminded of it. I think my cancer has to do with living in El Segundo, an oil refinery town near LA, but how do you know.
I was also thinking about some trips to the Mojave desert, but I am really lazy, and probably won't do that. These days the only trips I take are to work, grocery store, and to see my son, his wife and my granddaughter. Which is just fine with me. I traveled a fair amount when I was working, now I don't really want to. Many of my coworkers at current work travel all over the world, not me. Guess I am getting old and sedentary.
Thank you for your submissions. Edits are used for length, clarity and to keep comments on subject of the month.
Staff of Speaking Out
Light and Darkness – and Lary
It’s Sunday morning, 21st December, the mid-winter solstice. From now on the days will start to get longer – such a lovely thought! I love springtime and am always so sorry when 21st June comes along and know the light is starting to ebb away again. I snuggle back into the bed-clothes and luxuriate in their warmth for another five minutes.
Five minutes turn into ten as thoughts and feelings rise and fall away. I love this time of day, and if I can get my mind to settle, can appreciate the wonder of just being alive and warm and comfortable. Then the various pressures of my ‘to do’ list die into the background. I often forget about you altogether at these times, Lary, as well as the other troubles of the world. (I still think of you as trouble, Lary, though deep down I have to admit you may actually be a blessing.)
I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. Maybe that’s why meditation appeals to me so strongly. As I relax, I notice a bright light in my mind. It’s very ordinary – just a mental image, not any kind of apparition. Just as you might have an image of your friend or husband or daughter in your mind. Or your sitting-room, or the colours of sea and sky as you remember a day at the beach. It’s the same thing. But I’ve only recently started to notice it. As soon as I do, I feel a surge of attraction towards it – as if I want to swallow it up, to let it light up my whole being. But from experience, often bitter experience, I’ve learned that my longing to get closer to this light, to get more of it, to swallow it, are all in vain. It’s always tantalisingly beyond my reach. I tune into the feeling of breathing to try to keep myself grounded, not get so lost in my passionate desire for this ... this what? A dream of light? Of life? Of love? Or all the beauties of the world?
The feeling of breathing, by comparison, that sensation of the tummy and chest rising and falling with each breath, seems like a come-down. So ordinary, so uninteresting. But over the years of meditation practice I’ve learned to appreciate this ordinariness. I know that attending to this simple sensation cultivates kindness and courage and other strengths. So I bear with my aversion for the ordinary. And then, another miracle, I sense a darkness which is equally as enticing as the light. While the light seems to represent life, the darkness represents something equally beautiful beyond life. I first noticed it on the night after my laryngectomy – after meeting you, Lary. Since then the darkness has become my best friend. And it’s very close to my own body, as if my breath is just barely brushing against it. Something so peaceful, completely beyond words. For a while all my wishes and longings die out willingly into the darkness. It’s such a relief to know there is this outlet for deep longings. When I can’t find the dark channel this longing for life and beauty and love just fire me up with restless energy and the frustration of unfulfilled desire. But for now, they flow unobstructed and die away peacefully into the blessed darkness.
So this is something I have to thank you for, Lary. Perhaps it was the terror I felt for you that drove me to this edge of my known world, to sense the peaceful darkness beyond, and the possibility of dying in peace.
I can’t yet rest for long with this ecstatic pouring of my life energies into darkness. Sooner or later my mind wanders, or I get pent up with desire to know just a little bit more about the light or the darkness, or to sense a deeper peace. Basically my natural human longings tip me off balance. Then it’s the work of bearing with the sense of loss or frustration or anger or whatever surfaces. The light and darkness still hover as mental images but now it’s a struggle to see them through the turmoil of emotion. But I know that this is an equally valuable stage in meditation – learning to bear with emotions, to name them, allow them come and go without judgement or any effort to change them for any preferred state of love or bliss or wisdom. I’m more and more willing to bear with this struggle, trusting to this painful path towards peace.
So, Lary, on this mid-winter’s day, let me thank you for what you have brought into my life - a love for darkness. And in the darkness, some glimpse of what lies beyond life. Once you showed it to me, you planted a seed in my heart and now there is a growing trust in this ocean of peace into which all our energies can sink.
May we both rest easy in the peace of mid-winter, Lary. And when the time comes may we rise up again to celebrate the New Year.
A chapter from my memoirs…………..
I BECOME A PEOPLE WATCHER
Things have changed so much since I was a small child. We lived in London, a very poor part just outside the affluent city, in the parish of Clerkenwell.
I was the youngest of seven children, my eldest sister being married and my eldest brother being a Trooper in the Royal Horse Artillery. Life was very hard for most families and we were no exception, although my mother Mary impressed upon us that we must never lower our standards, and that really we were gentle folk who had fallen on hard times.
Even though we had very little, it was the most natural thing to help the more needy, and frequently we had people eating with us who would have gone without a meal. I remember seeing some people after the market had finished, raking over the mounds of cabbage leaves and vegetables to see if anything could be recovered.
In 1935, at the age of five, I was the follower of my two slightly older brothers, and the streets of London were marvellous with the characters who thronged the street. I would try to weave stories about them, and there were so many things to see and watch.
The horse and cart delivering ice in enormous blocks was covered in clean sacking, the driver with his ice pick and huge iron tongs, breaking off the exact amount that people required, and carrying it on his shoulder to dairies, fishmongers and butchers, and also to private homes. It was placed in a stone trough in a cupboard called a pantry or larder. This was the only means of refrigeration; there being no electricity. A large block would only cost a few pence. The children in the street would wait for the driver to enter premises before all having a lick of the main block, and a splintered piece would make a perfect lolly.
The coalman wearing a black cowl-like hat that went all the way down his back, opening up those circular iron drain covers, and shooting expertly from the open sack on his back a hundredweight of coal into that tiny coal hole. These coal cellars were underneath the pavement at many homes, and reached from the basement of the home, normally through an open space called an area, or to Londoners an 'Airie'. A children’s rhyme I remember the girls reciting, as they bounced their ball on the pavement was, "One, two, three a lairy, my balls gone down the airy."
There was the milkman who had a smaller cart, with two wheels, rather like a large chariot, with his churns of milk. You had to go to him with an empty jug, and he would ladle out the exact amount required. There were no bottles of milk in those days. Plastic had not yet been invented and even waxed cardboard cartons were a thing of the future.
The baker walking, carrying a large wicker basket containing hot, fresh, white crusty loaves, no brown bread, or sliced or wrapped bread. The man pushing a barrow containing two cauldrons of once very hot water, one containing boiled sheep’s heads, and the other pigs trotters. He supplied the newspaper to wrap them in and the salt and vinegar. I remember feeling horrified looking at the sheep’s head, which was just a skull with some meat on it, wondering how the merchant had done it, and feeling awful as the adults treated it as a delicacy. I could not reconcile it to those nursery rhymes like “Mary had a little Lamb” It was even worse to my child’s mind that we dressed three little pigs in human clothes, gave them human speech, let them kiss their mother goodbye as they tripped gaily off to school, only to catch them, chop their feet off and eat them.
Then there was the muffin man, who always wore a green baize apron and rang a bell as he walked along, carrying the muffins on a tray on his head. The small wooden rowing boat on the back of a horse drawn cart, selling cockles, mussels, winkles and whelks, with the driver wearing sea-boots and a sou-wester hat. The pork pie man in a chef’s hat with his pies on a tray, suspended by a string around his neck. All, unwrapped of course. I used to look at him quite fearfully, with my imagination, as the story of Sweeney Todd the barber who sold bodies to the pie shop man next door was doing the rounds, and wondered if the shop next door to that pie-man could be a barber’s.
The small round-about on the back of a cart, with the price of a ride, one glass jam jar; the width of the round-a-bout so small, and pushed round so fast that children were nearly always sick.
The man sharpening knives and scissors on a stone spun so fast by operating a pedal with his foot he could make metal edges razor sharp. I dreamt up a story of him having to accompany soldiers to war, to keep their bayonets sharp, and the officer’s swords ready for action.
The elderly lamp-lighter with his long pole which he carried like a spear on his shoulder, turning the street gas lamps on and off at dusk and dawn. I never did see but heard the “Knocker-up” rapping on windows to wake people up at some unearthly hour. He also carried a long thin pole to reach upper windows. Alarm clocks had not been invented.
Magnificent black horses pulling a funeral hearse with tall black plumes rising up from the black shiny saddlery with silver buckles as sombre men wearing black top hats with ribbon around the crown walked alongside with such stately steps.
The Italian ice-cream man’s barrow, with the red and white striped awning, and the highly polished golden churns of ice- cream set in a bed of ice cubes with his flashing smile and funny way of talking. The chimney sweep and his boy apprentice both covered in soot, pushing their barrow with sacks of soot on it, their brushes resting on top, with just their eyes and teeth showing white.
Our very tall Doctor walking on his visits, raising his hat to all the ladies he passed. He charged sixpence a visit, but frequently gave it back. He carried a small black leather bag, and on asking a question was told that was, “how he delivered babies.” I walked behind him on several occasions hoping to hear a cry from that bag, but realised that even as a baby it was too small for me. I asked the question again about the origin of babies, and was told this time that I had been found under a gooseberry bush. All very well, but I spent so much time in trying to find one in that part of London.
The policeman on the beat walking past every hour or so, tunic done up to the neck, thumbs in belt, looking oh so severe. I used to think that crooks must tremble with fear just by him looking at them. If we were swinging on a rope tied to the ladder bar of the gas lamp and saw him coming, we would wrap the rope around the lamp post, hoping that he wouldn't notice it. We would then stand to one side, with fear in our hearts, just gazing into space trying to look innocent, and he must have chuckled as he approached seeing that behaviour so many times.
I remember on one occasion, after he had looked up to see if our rope had interfered with the on/off chains, smiled and said quietly, "Won't be back for an hour." I recollect seeing that same policeman stopping two men fighting outside a public house, by holding them apart with a fistful of their clothing at chest level, and as he lectured them he gave each a forceful dig in the chest and when they were looking most dejected, made them shake hands and let them go.
Learning New Uses For Old Tech
Learn new tricks
Fortunately we all get older and just as fortunately we can still learn new tricks...as long as we keep an open mind to change. I have been reading lately of new concepts for the use of old tech and it has inspired me to try some of the ideas that are being presented.
The first and probably my favorite is Evernote. Evernote is a free program often billed for its easy of use and very efficient use as a relational database manager. I have been using Evernote for about 5 years now and find it exceptional for keeping track of my important information and thoughts. Recently I was reading an article by a university professor in California and he briefly mentioned having stopped using Microsoft Office, in favor of using Evernote. I had to give that some thought for a moment then I came to the conclusion that he was definitely on to something.
Evernote is a free program offering a friendly word processing capability, as well as its data management features. I liked the idea so much I started using it and find it is SO here. I am writing this article with Evernote and loving it.
You can download Evernote at Filehippo. com ...
The next thing I have learned about is Uber...in case you haven't heard of it ...it is the latest app for your smartphone that will allow you to obtain a ride from your location to another location. Also known as a car service or taxi service, but not that simple. Bob Rankin has done an excellent job of describing just what Uber is and isn't...
The next idea is Amazon's Echo. Echo is a voice controlled virtual assistant. So the many uses include giving weather updates, ball game scores and finding recipes for you. Echo is currently still undergoing some last minute touches but will soon be available to help with your contact management needs and your shopping lists (on Amazon of course). For a family with youngsters full of questions, Echo could be the best baby sitter yet!
Again we can learn form Bob Rankin more about Echo and what we can expect from the e-commerce giant...
From our tips and tricks:
Do you use a DNS?
Wikipedia defines a (DNS) as:
Domain Name System (DNS) “is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network . It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. A Domain Name Service resolves queries for these names into IP addresses for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide. By providing a worldwide, distributed keyword -based redirection service, the Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality of the Internet.”
That's a lot of geeky words that means there is a service that finds you the safest and most common links to the questions you ask. A good DNS service protects you and your family from phishing malware and increases the performance speed of your internet service.
Your internet provider normally has a DNS for your protection, however there are other providers that, in general, offer more at little or no extra cost. Providers include GoogleDNS, NortonDNS, and OpenDNS to name a few. OpenDNS charges $9.95 annually while Norton and Google are no cost. You can find more specifics at their websites.
Those of you who have not joined the Forum you may want to consider joining as a new source of information exchange for the new year. Just stop in at: http://forums.delphiforums.com/webwhispers/start , complete a short application, and tell Delphi you need the code. They will let us know of your interest...in turn we will then validate your WW membership and, once confirmed, we will send you the access code.
We have been keeping eyes out for a new look to our Delphi Forum. Delphi has developed a new interface called Zeta and is currently putting it through user testing. I have been using it for a few weeks now and have not hit a bump in the road yet although their management is trying to work some kinks out. Our forum is still presently in the Classic format of selecting one of 16 subjects to put your comments under and any answers go in the same section.
You can mark your own account to stay on classic in all forums if you wish. Or try the Zeta for a new look.
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