Surrounded by Love

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on September 6th, 2010 by MadDog
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I can say truthfully that my wife of forty-six years is the most remarkable human that I have ever known. Certainly, my profound love for her biases me. However, when I examine the evidence objectively, I come to the same conclusion.

I have not the time now nor the emotional energy to catalog here all of her merits and accomplishments. Those of you fortunate enough to know her do not need this.

However, I do now want to say that her most remarkable characteristic is her infinite capacity for love. Eunie is so bursting with love that it floods out and saturates all those who come to know her. Her love is unconditional, utterly free of judgement and accompanied by wisdom that allows her to gently guide those who have lost the path and advise those in need of correction without inflicting hurt.

It is only fitting now that some minuscule portion of that love comes back to her. This is a very difficult post for me to write, because my agony is acute. Nevertheless, I can get through it because I am so full of wonder at her composure in this, the twilight of her life. Eunie is a woman of strong faith. She does not fear death.  Yet, she still speaks of getting back to the job which God gave her thirty years ago. I know that I am going to have even more difficult posts to compose in the future, but I shall see if I can get through this one and take the others one at a time.

I cannot view this image without weeping. Eunie is speaking to her daughter-in-law, Tamara, and our granddaughters Pippa and Audrey Rose in Hamilton, Ontario while our son, Hans holds the phone for her. You can see the joy in her expression:

I am so grateful that Hans was able to come for this time. I have needed much support to keep me vertical and functioning.

Eunie loves mystery novels. Here Hans reads to her to give her distraction and comfort:

Hans also reads many of Eunie’s favourite parts of the Bible. It seems strange to speak of blessings at a time such as this, but one of the many that have benefited Eunie is that she is in no pain and is receiving no pain medication. She is very weak and sleeps or drowses much of the time, but her suffering is confined to the discomfort of medical treatments.

Here we see our friends Rich Jones and Carol Dover expressing their love for Eunie:

Rich suddenly put his life on hold for a while and flew from Madang to Brisbane to be with Eunie as a sort of ambassador of love from all those who would want to be with her now to comfort her. Carol flew from Vanuatu for the weekend to give her warmth and comfort to Eunie. I wasn’t able to slow Val Jerram down long enough to get a picture of her with Eunie; she was in and out taking care of business. She has been doing so every day since we arrived at her home in Gympie. How many friends such as her do you have?

Eunie feels comforted when  I can get a chance to lie with her for a while. This post is not about me, but it’s fitting to record this image of two people who have been joined in every way – become as one:

Since we first fell in love our song has been Our Love is Here to Stay.

I’ve mentioned many others who have expressed their love for Eunie over the last few weeks in very tangible ways. If you want a lesson in love, read back a way.

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The Strange New Journey

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on September 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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The War Council is assembling. Val Jerram is at our sides daily. Richard Jones is here now from Madang. Carol Dover is flying in from Vanuatu. Marg and Mick Horwood are providing shelter, food and their good counsel. And yesterday, after an exhausting 36 hours of travel, our son Hans arrived from Hamilton, Ontario:

There are a lot of journeys involved here.

The strangest and most difficult of all these journeys is a sort of recapitulation of life itself. We are all, every one of us, you, as you read this, on a great journey – the journey that lasts exactly one lifetime. Now, as the friends who are fortunate enough to be able to engage in the battle on the field itself gather, we are joining ranks and marching together. As Marg feeds one her pet Magpies on the veranda the bird seems to wonder why she is in such a rush:

The daily routine must be maintained, but time seems to fly past at a dizzying speed.

I’m not the General of this little army. I can feel that my capacity to cope is fading daily. I’m blessed beyond reason to be surrounded by such a capable and loving cadre.

Along with the Magpies came a pair of Butcher Birds:

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Eunie had a rough day yesterday in the noisy MRI machine. They did a general one of the whole area and a special one of the area around the liver. That’s enough medical details. The point of this is to determine whether the tumor is operable or not. Also under consideration are chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

The action seems to be moving faster. Eunie was told last night that she will be having some other kind of test today. I don’t know as yet what it is. I will be leaving for the hospital in a few minutes. I imagine that it will be a day or two before we have an answer concerning treatment.

Please understand that I may not be able to answer every comment that is left here on our jornal. The time is simply not available. I’m not ignoring any of them. I read every one and so do many other readers. I know that you will understand if I do not respond to a comment directly.

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The Way Things Happen

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on September 2nd, 2010 by MadDog
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When I reoriented myself this morning after a restless night and a couple of hours of trying to go back to sleep and finally giving up, I was startled to see, after getting my computer going, that it has been only two days since I last posted here. It seems like a week.

First, let me tell you that we are once again amazed by grace that we find ourselves safely and comfortably sheltered, fed and counseled by dear old friends. We are presently staying at the home of Mick and Marg Horwood in Brisbane.

I stumbled out into the garden this morning to take a couple of pictures, because I can’t stand to write without images, even if they have little to do with my subject matter:

Above is an image of promise, fat little strawberries growing warm in the morning sun.

The title today, The Way Things Happen is very ambiguous. I don’t have a lot of time to write, so I’ll have to cram it in quickly, like my breakfast. What follows is a digest of random happenings mostly good, some less so. Don’t expect it to make any sense.

My charger for my Canon G11 has chosen the morning to give up the ghost. Fortunately, I brought my Olympus SP590UZ along and it uses AA batteries. So, when the Canon battery dies, I’ll still have a camera. Okay, bad news, good news.

As I mentioned, we have once again found safe haven to protect and nourish us as we face the current terrors.

Our dear friend Richard Jones showed up yesterday evening from Madang. I am astounded, but not surprised at the love that is being poured out for Eunie. Carol Dover, recently relocated in Vanuatu, is also flying in soon.

This is a plant I found in the Horwood’s garden that seems unlikely – possibly designed by a committee:

You will note a very nice lemon tree in the background.

Our son, Hans, arrives today from Hamilton, Ontario. It’s difficult for me to express my emotions now, because I have to maintain a certain numbness. It will be good to have him here to see his mom and hear with us what the future holds.

Regular readers will know that I don’t throw my religious beliefs in your face. It’s not the purpose of this journal. Ask me, I’ll tell you. However, I must say that it is a strange experience to be wandering in this desert of profound negative feelings, which you can imagine for yourself. What makes it stranger yet, but eases the journey, is the way that every time we get to the point where I am thinking to myself that I simply do not know what to do, some unexpected door opens and I find an oasis of relief. As for myself, I attribute this to God’s mercy.

Eunie and I have always known that we would have to travel such a road at some point. I always hoped that I would simply drop dead some day and Eunie could carry on. She’s so much better equipped to deal with life than I. Now the sequence seems to be in question.

All that I know for certain is that a couple of nights ago we nearly lost her. However, with the help of Val and her doctor’s house call (!), we got her back. I told Val quite frankly that, if she had not been there for us, Eunie would very likely not have survived another day.

That’s about all the rambling that I have time for this morning. Today is going to be interesting.

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I won’t go into the gory medical details, because it’s only the outcome that matters. Three nights ago, after seeing Eunie go downhill rapidly for several days while we were waiting for our appointments in Brisbane, she crashed. She was nearly unresponsive, could not stay awake and would not eat or drink. Val’s private GP came to the house after his office hours and said that we needed to get her into the Gympie Hospital, which we did the next morning with difficulty in Val’s car. He blood pressure was shocking. The anti-inflammatory she had been taking since receiving a stent in her bile duct had caused her to bleed in her stomach. They hooked up many hoses to her and began to rehydrate her. They also gave her two units of blood.

Eunie bounced back eventually after a morning of us hearing discouraging words. Yesterday, she was stable enough to transport her by ambulance to Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. She is scheduled today for an MRI and some other tests. There will be some other kind of scan also.

As of last night, she was in no pain. I expect within a few days to hear some prognosis from the oncologists.

NOTE: I am going to try to answer all of the comments that I am receiving and all of the email messages. Every message is important to me, but I may not be able to keep up with the flood. I’m sure that you will understand this.

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Madang to Hamilton – Miscellanea

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 4th, 2009 by MadDog
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It feels cold here in Hamilton, but people are walking around the streets in shirtsleves.

I’m sitting here with the thermostat turned up high in our hotel room thinking about images that I’ve taken along the way from Madang to Hamilton, Ontario. I thumbed through them and found four that amuse me enough to show to you. I’m sipping a very nice Rickard’s  Red. I highly recommend it.

I like snapping through an airplane window, if it’s clean enough to get decent shots. I got lucky when I left Madang on one of Air Niugini’s F-100’s with reasonably clean windows. Here’s a pretty shot of the morning sun on the clouds:

Pink morning clouds on the way to Port Moresby from Madang

We’re always close to Mount Wilhelm (highest mountain in Papua New Guinea) on that route, but one can seldom see it except on the earliest flight. This is the best view that I’ve had:

Mount Wilhelm from Air Niugini flight from Madang to Port Moresby

I’m hoping to go to Mount Wilhelm in October take shots of a guy who’s planning to paraglide off of the top of it. I hope to get a couple of magazine articles out of that trip. All this assumes that I can actually climb up there.

Here is another image of The Wheel of Brisbane:

The Wheel of BrisbaneIt doesn’t actually go as fast as the image suggests. That’s a fifteen second exposure.

To finish up, this is Los Angeles at night from the Qantas flight:

Los Angeles at Night from Qantas flight to New York City

Photographically speaking, it’s horrible, however, I couldn’t bear to erase it. So, I cleaned it up and stuck it here for you to critique. The blue streak is not a flying saucer – I think. It seems to be a reflection from lighting inside the cabin.

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Bye-bye to Brisbane

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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This is my last day in Brisbane. It’s been very enjoyable, but it feels very cold here to me. I don’t know what I’m going to when I get to Canada – buy some warm clothes at the Salvation Army and then give them away before I leave sounds like an option.

Brisbane is a very beautiful city with a lot of different spaces. There are old neighborhoods packed with lovely old-style Queensland houses, waterfronts everywhere, and the city centre sparkles with glassy skyscrapers. At night, it’s a delight.

We’ll start off with lunch. Here was my lunch yesterday – fish and chips – the best I’ve ever had. I don’t know what kind of fish it was, but it was absolutely perfect. Of course there was far, far too much food on the plate, but that seems to be a symptom a serious eating disorder that is becoming the norm in mst of the western world. I’m talking about the habit of eating until one feels full.  I’ll go into that another day, when I’m not feeling so cheerful.

My lunch.

I ate all of the delicious fish and a few chips, pecked at the salad and left the rest.

Our long-time friend Val Jerram is escorting me around Brisbane. She particularly wanted me to see this remarkable wooden statue of Sister Mary MacKillop located right in the centre of the city at St. Stephen’s Chapel. It’s all carved from one huge tree. It is about three or four metres tall:

Blessed Mary MacKillop
Sister Mary lived from 1842 until 1909. Her vocation was primarily as an educator. Val told me that Sister Mary is the first Australian Saint. One of the hands of the statue is missing because some clown knocked it off. What can one say about that? Some things that people do are simply too dumb for words.

Here’s my last offering of Brisbane for now. I got this shot from one of the little ferry boats. It is actually pretty horrible – it was full of noise:  

A Brisbane waterfront scene at night
I had to turn into a bit of fake watercolour art. Photographically, it stinks, but I like the colours on the water.

My next post will probably not be for a day or so because of the lengthy, boring, thoroughly detestable flight from Brisbane to New York City.

Stay cool.

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Brisbane at Night

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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Is anybody but me not seeing my header?  I don’t know what happened to it, and I’m not going to have time to fix it for a week or so. Clicking in the empty space at the top of the page will take you to home.

I just arrived in Brisbane last evening. It’s COLD!

Here is what I saw from the window of my Air Niugini flight as we approached Port Moresby:

Coming into Port Moresby

We went out in the evening in Brisbane to take some photos. Before we left the flat, I got this shot from the balcony. It’s a fifteen second exposure:

From the balcony in Brisbane

In the full resolution image you can see Orion’s Belt. You may be able to make out some stars if you click to enlarge.

They have these cute little ferry boats that scoot around on the river. We took rides on a couple of them. Here is the Story Bridge across the Brisbane River:

The Story Bridge in Brisbane

I don’t know why it’s called the Story Bridge. Somebody help me out here.

We could see this giant Ferris wheel from a long way off. I was pretty tired after travelling since 04:00 in the morning, but it was worth the effort:

The Ferris Wheel by the river in Brisbane

I just got the ticket out of my pocket to see what it’s called – “The Wheel of Brisbane”.  Not a very immaginative name, but it is a spectacular ride.

I have to keep this short, because we have a big day planned. I’m getting some great images of Brisbane and I’m keen to share them with you.

Stay tuned

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Hitting the Road Again

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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Up until about a month ago, I had no idea that I’d be heading back to North America this year. I was not scheduled to leave Papua New Guinea again until 2012. Anyway, Eunie got a free ride this time because she’s going to represent the PNG branch of our organisation at our international office for a board meeting in Dallas. So, since Qantas had a ridiculously cheap return fare offered at A$1,000 to New York, I decided to spring for it and avoid six additional weeks of loneliness and weight loss. (I’ve lost a half-kilo a week since she’s been gone. What does that say about me? One thing that comes to mind is that I’m too lazy to eat when left on my own. That could eventually be fatal.)

So, on Wednesday morning, I’ll be off at 06:00 to here:

Port Moresby, Papua New GuineaThat’s Port Moresby, in case you didn’t notice.  It’s the capital of Papua New Guinea and it costs almost as much to get from Madang to Port Moresby as it does to travel from Brisbane to New York. This is one of the great shames of our wonderful nation. You can hardly go anywhere in PNG without travelling by air. Air Niugini has a strangle-hold on traffic within the country. I’ll have more to say about that someday, but now I’m just to antsy to concentrate.

The next stop will be here:

Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaThat’s Brisbane in Queensland, Australia.  I’ll be spending three days and two nights there. A friend is coming up to Brisbane to meet me. We’re both camera freaks, so we’ll spend most of our time hustling around grabbing images. I hope to have a couple of interesting posts from Brisbane.

The next stop will be San Francisco, but only to change planes. I’d like to visit there for a few days some time. Then it’s on to New York City where I’ll spend two nights.

Two nights in New York City – big deal, eh? Well, not exactly. Eunie books my travel because she likes doing it, and she’s very good at it. She hands me an itinerary, tickets, passport, visas, etc, and off I go.  I asked her to book me ‘some place interesting’ in New York City. She did. She booked me into a bed and breakfast in Harlem. Now, if you don’t know about Harlem, then Google it. Let’s just say that I’m looking forward with mild anxiety to an interesting two days and nights. I’m sure that I’ll have some tasty posts from there.

Then, it’s off to Buffalo, NY where I’ll meet Eunie for the drive to Hamilton, Ontario.

I may drop off the calendar for a day or two, but I’LL BE BACK. I’m The Travelator.

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