Saturday, September 24, 2011

"I Challenge You To Live," Dr. J. Fitzgerald

Dr. Jerri Fitzgerald, has died. She was 57.
When Dr. Fitzgerald spoke at a commencement before her death, she urged the graduates to not be passive about life. "I challenge you to live," she said. "The only thing that matters is: Did you live? Do you really live? Did you make a choice?"
Dr. Fitzgerald’s story is riveting.
In 1999, Fitzgerald found a lump in her breast, the final flight of the season had departed the South Pole. No chance of rescue for at least 6 months. She performed her own biopsy, with the assistance of a member of the team who was a welder. The biopsy tested positive for breast cancer. She would have to wait for treatment in November, but the cancer was aggressive. Treatment had to began quickly. In July, the U.S. Air Force staged a middle-of-the-night, middle-of-the-winter, very rare and dangerous airdrop to an ice field lit by fire. She began the treatment regimen immediately and was evacuated when spring arrived to continue treatment. Her cancer went into remission but unfortunately returned in 2005. Dr. Jerri Fitzgerald, documented her whole ordeal in a best-selling book, 'Ice Bound.
In her book, she states, "Everyone has to get something, some people are ugly, some people are stupid. I get cancer.”
God Bless this brave & strong woman. And I know one just as brave. Her name is Carroll. I'm privledged to have her in my life.


White Cotton Sheets, Garage Sale & Lucy

White cotton sheets sprawled on aconcrete driveway, with an array of items placed on top, created a colorful display when I arrived to help a friend with a garage sale, last weekend.
At least a
 hundred people stopped by on this glorious day, next to a group of Sedona's magnificent red rocks.
As a keen observer & a bit intuitive, each person revealed a short story of his or her life in a brief moment of time. I'd like to share one story, okay…my story. I never learned her real name.
Lucy, a short, gray haired lady, wearing a full-length black wool coat, limped up the steep incline with hesitation. She glanced up a couple of times to see if anyone watched her slow approach. At the first group of items, she stooped down to gaze at a framed painting of a passenger ship bucking against high waves. In the image, a small craft approached perhaps to steer the vessel away from jagged rocks beneath the ocean's surface.
I noticed Lucy wrench. Had she lost someone at sea, perhaps a father, a child or a friend?
She shuffled inside the garage, stopping at different tables exhibiting jewelry, clothing, books & more. After fifteen minutes or so, she selected a small, blue & green trivet & brought it to me.
"For my daughter. She likes things like this."
I asked her if she lived nearby.
Lucy's gazed up at me. "No. Visiting from Massachusetts. Like to move here, but my husband & I are too old to do that."
"Anybody can do anything," I said.
"Not me."
I placed the trivet into a plastic sack & handed it to her. 
"Fraid all I'm going to do is . . . just die." Lucy hobbled down the driveway.
Grabbing my crutch, I sidled up beside her. "Hey, don't give up on life now. Okay."
Her bright green eyes sparkled in the late afternoon sun. "How much is a house in this neighborhood?" she asked.
As I gave her estimates, she smiled at me. "Might be able to do that."
"Why not?" I asked touching her shoulder.
Lucy turned, but I heard her say as she shuffled away. "Yeah, why not?"
# # #
The stories that many of the shoppers & others reveal to me everyday, real or not, swirl in my mind. At times, I wished they'd go away, but I know they have helped me survive traumatic events in my life. Today, I embrace them. They're part of me. 


Dead Flies, Polio & Me

Before Jonas Salk's successful vaccine for Poliomyelitis becameavailable in 1955, thousands of children &adults were struck down with the dreaded disease. I was one of those children. In this blog, I'm sharing with you a few excerpts from one of my short stories.
© by J. N. Sander 
Two more minutes have passed since I pushed the black call button on my bed. I watch the big hand on the clock above the doorway to the hall, move from one little mark to the next little mark. It snaps each time like someone flicking dead flies off a table. It's not the first time I've thought of dead flies today.
There are fourteen patients in our room with white folding screens between us. On the oatmeal-colored wall above me are two pictures. One's a naked baby crying. The other is a smiling little girl about my age, in a pale-yellow dress dragging a brown teddy bear. She's opening a tall blue door. I think she's happy because she can leave.
This morning when they pulled a gurney past my bed with two-year-old Suzy under a thin white sheet, I didn't react. I didn't cry. I just stared at the gurney and listened to the squeaky wheels as it passed through the hall door. I thought of dead flies.
It's getting dark outside. Earlier, large snowflakes fluttered past the window across from me. Now the wind's blowing grey-white swirls against the glass. It makes me shiver and I pull my blanket tight around my neck.
(Skipping lots here.)
Every time they push my wheelchair down the hall, I gaze into the box room. It looks the same as ours except there are no windows or pictures. Long metal boxes sit off the floor about as tall as I am. They make loud sucking sounds. Children lay on their backs inside with only their heads sticking out. One girl has been in a box for a long time. Her dark-brown hair has grown so long it falls to the floor.
Crying is not allowed on the sixth floor. If we complain, cry, or wet our beds we go into the closet. Or into a box next door.
(Skipping again.)
The closet door is open. I see cleaning supplies, wheelchairs, crutches, trash and a bag full of dirty linens. I've stayed in there three nights in the last few months, with the door shut and lights turned off. Two times because I cried and I don't know why the other time. It smells terrible.
(Skipping lots.)
I'm hoping to publish this story, so can't share the whole
enchilada. Having Polio was a terrible experience, but at the same time, I know it helped me to develop into who I am today. Good or bad!
That's it for today.
Happy fall and have a scary Halloween.


Hikers In Trouble, A Needless Death & Mask-Making

Every year people from all over the world travel to Sedona, AZ. They come to visit the majestic Red Rocks & some decide to hike or climb the massive formations without proper equipment & supplies. And . . . they often get in trouble. Last week, two dehydrated & stranded hikers were in need of help. Bruce Harrolle, 36, responded from DPS with his Air Rescue Ranger Helicopter. He flew to Bear Mountain, outside of Sedona & rescued the climbers. Then Bruce was struck by a rotor blade & killed. A needless death occurred. Sedona grieves with his family, wife & two children. His memorial service is next week. If . . . only the hikers had been better prepared & acted upon proper precautions. The larger photo is Bear Mountain. The smaller is Cathedral Rock that I shot from a copter ride earlier this year. It reflects the rough terrain in & around the Sedona Red Rocks.

# # #
Saturday I helped with a mask-making session with Pash Gabalvy. Go to her site @ for more information. After the masks were formed, with plaster sheets, it was interesting to see the different ways each person, ages 7 to 80, decorated their masks. This is only an example of a finished project. I'll post my decorated mask later. Maybe.

# # #
Answers for most writer's questions:


Gracie, James Dean & Me.

Harvest is going strong on the farmland in Colorado. It brings back vivid memories. One I'd like to share.

Our place sits 20 miles from a grocery store, a doctor or a hospital. Custom wheat harvesters always camped in our yard.

The day we lost Gracie, 18 workers lived in campers parked side by side, between our house and the airplane hanger.

It had rained, so harvesting of the grain stopped at dusk. After helping my mother prepare a meal for 26, I went outside to flirt with handsome R.D., a harvester's son from Oklahoma.

He gave me a James Dean smile, tipped his cowboy hat, flexed his muscles and revealed a tattoo on his arm that made me blush. R.D. was 18 and a hunk of a guy. I was 14 going on 15.

R.D. motioned for me to come closer with the same hand that held his Marlboro cigarette. Smoke curled around his sexy eyes. "Baby girl," he whispered, "let's go take a stroll to the creek. Been watch'in you for a week. My heart's in a fluttering state."

I couldn't breath and time stopped, but only for a few seconds. Suddenly, Mrs. Thompson drove her dust-ladened sedan into the yard with a flurry of dust behind her.

"I need help," she yelled, screeching to a stop.

R. D. and I hurried to her car and in the backseat, my best friend Gracie, lay crumpled to one side, dirt and dried blood covered her face and body. Her waist length brown hair draped onto the floorboards . I screamed for my parents.

R. D. opened the car door and felt Gracie's neck. "She's done dead," he said, drawling it out like he was something special.

No empathy came from his lips and no remorse filled his face. I pushed his brawny body aside and placed by face next to my friend, praying for a breath to touch my skin. But there was nothing. Not a wisp. And her face felt cold to my touch.

Her mom sobbed out the details of Gracie's demise. The black stallion she'd ridden to gather the steers had thrown her to the ground in the pasture near their home. Mrs. Thompson had seen the horse wander into the barnyard without Gracie on board. She'd found her daughter's lifeless body and somehow loaded her into the car and driven the 7 miles to our place, not knowing what else to do.

My dad pushed past me and gently lifted Gracie out of the car. He carried her to our house placing her on our sofa. I followed him and rushed into my bedroom to grab a blanket to cover her.

I don't remember exactly what happened next, but later I stared out the kitchen window to see R.D. still leaning on his truck, grinning and motioning for me to come to him. It was then I realized he was a self-absorbed idiot. I was thankful that harvest would soon be over and he'd take his bad breath and squinty eyes, back to Oklahoma.


Scarlet & Gold

"Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold, For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
Children's song 1800's

Our apples have been picked from the orchard and the aroma of baked apples fills our home. I'm enjoying a quiet Sunday as no one else is here except little Maltese and he's super quiet.

Two more words that are overused in writing. I'm sure we all know about them, but sometimes it's good to have a gentle reminder.

Writers often use this word when referring to general or reoccurring situations. "You" rarely refers to the reader and should be avoided.
Example: "Our aunt was nice. She always gave you books" This can be revised as, "Our aunt was nice. She always gave us books."

Readers realize that actions can occur at the same time, which is what the word "when" indicates. Thus, "when" is usually unnecessary.
Example: "When she opened the door, she saw mud on the floor." This should be revised as "She opened the door and saw mud on the floor"
Example: "When she woke up, she made the bed." Actually, she first wakes up and then makes the bed. This can be revised to "She woke up and made the bed."

My fingers are itching to write more in my new m.s. The working title is "A Thousand Points of Light." More on that later.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2008 and a link to win a free Edit

It's raining out and may be snowing in Flagstaff which is about 18 miles away. Many people do not know that Arizona gets snow, but we do - in northern AZ.
Where we live we get a few inches a year while Flag gets 5 or 6 feet or more.

We've finished picking our apples. Just had one for a late lunch. Sending more to the San Diego loved ones and maybe a box to Oregon too.

I'm doing research on www. It's a site to post your WIP and also they will publish you're m.s. into book form, print-on-demand.

If you're interested in a free edit of your WIP go
to Http:// to try for a free edit by a well know editor. The catch is you must buy a raffle ticket to fight cancer. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Writing tip for today's blog: An overused word in writing.
1. There
When writers are not sure about the subject of their sentence, they will often use this word as the subject. This is weak writing. Example: "There was no one outside."
Revised. "No one was outside."

Check out the other overused words on my blog in the next few weeks.


Obama and Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight."

What a lady Michelle Obama is! Her speech was amazing and her genuine response to each of the Clintons' speeches touched me. I pray our country will see the truth and know that we need a change and Obama-Biden will do a great job cleaning up the Bush mess.

I just finished reading my friend, Pash's blog. She has a natural talent to share her thoughts and emotions. Tonight she showed images of a large furry tarantula in her yard near VOC (close to Sedona, AZ.) To be in the in crowd,VOC's nickname is Village of Old Creeps but it really stands for Village of Oak Creek. Don't get me wrong, it
is a beautiful place surrounded by Red Rocks but it is not Sedona. (But...many call Sedona, Slowdona.)

Pash's sharing brought a memory of chasing my brother, Ed, with grasshoppers in northeastern Colorado. He was terrified of them. If I whispered, "grasshopper," he screamed. It became so bad, I couldn't even mouth the word to him. I know it sounds cruel now but I was a child too and he was so darn funny. Every time I see a grasshopper, I think of Ed. See Ed, I do think about you. ;-)

I'm reading a book Maya gave me..."Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. It's a YA and is the first of a series. Good writing about a high school girl, Bella, moving to a small town in Washington from Phoenix. Talk about a cultural shock involving weather, sunshine and population. It couldn't be more of a change. At lunch on her first day of school, she notices a table in the dining hall with a group of students who are pale and do not eat. Aha...yes they are vampires. Of course, the best looking young man, Ed, at this table falls for her. (Geez brother Ed...there you are again...maybe that's why you hate grasshoppers.) And, Bella falls for Ed. The story goes well, then Bella and Ed, decide to take off on a Saturday together to a remote location in the woods. Bella...what are you thinking? Author Stephenie Meyer's what are you thinking? Not a good idea to plant into a 7th graders head (Maya.)
Oh, okay...I know she probably watches worse things on TV but hey...this is in print. Other than that, I'm enjoying the read and Maya also gave me the next two in the series..."New Moon," and "Eclipse."

I just finished Dean Koontz's, "Watchers." Talk about a contrast in reading material! But if you know me, you know I like scary reads with lots of surprises. It's about an intelligent golden retriever who is amazing to say the least (can read too,) but when you read this book, it's believable. I liked it.

Speaking of watchers, hope you all will watch Barack Obama tomorrow in Denver. You go Barack! Going to Flag today for a dental consult...boring but important.

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