Thursday, March 26, 2020

My tenant has taken herself to her partner's house in the country for Shelter in place (don't know why I capitalized that) and so I'm truly the only human in the house now. She's worried about me but will check on me daily. I have many folks who are staying in touch, delivering food and cat litter etc. So.

On a Zoom call yesterday about the coming surge and plans the independent midwifery community is working on to care for pregnant and laboring women through the next few months as hospitals need every available bed and low risk women need to be off-site. Working from here as I can't be in the midst of the fray as someone who is vulnerable cuz of my age. It's so intense.

The fear/panic is a humming in my chest and gut. From my vantage point in my pretty house, I'm damned privileged. I have food for myself and the critters. I'm apparently healthy. I have money to pay my mortgage and utilities, almost. Close enough. Life getting real without eating out, buying shit and going to the movies.

My daily practice looks like this. Feed Felix and Lola. Check the weather for our walk down Beacon Ave. Dress. Meditate in silence or guided. Wait to eat and shower until Felix and I return. Eat. Shower. Listen to the Catch and Kill podcast (thanks Mary!), etc. Some days I spend a lot of time on the phone or Facetime or Zoom calls. My neighbor works at Home Depot and he says everyone is coming in for supplies for their remodel. I think Home Depot must be closed by now but he's bringing me soil so I can start some veggies in the house.

The walk down the street is a refuge. The smell of the air, cut grass, the birds esp the robins (always a herald of spring when I was growing up in the cold North), the occasional person who is walking far from me. O the blooming world.

The next days are full of rain. Time for an umbrella and rain boots. We're  tough, we NW types.

Today is Eden's birthday and we'll be celebrating via Zoom. I'll wear my Burning Man hat and light candles stuck in a banana.

Sunday, March 22, 2020


It's been a day. No longer going to the store, no longer spending time with my people except virtually. Hanging with the dog and cat. Gave the dog an horrendous haircut but at least he can see. I'll be doing the same to my own head soon enough. I allow myself one long walk a day with Felix, zigzagging down the street to avoid being near to other people. Talked so much on the phone I ran out of power. Counting down the days until I can consider myself out of danger with no contact with others. I figure about 6 more days. In the meantime, every slight throat tickle, every cough brings cold dread into my body.

Started with a virtual guided meditation from some sweet nuns who live in California. They guided us and then let us talk to them/each other. I blubbered as I talked: about my fear, my sadness for leaving my midwife life in such a sudden way, selfishness that I'm not on the front lines with other first responders and feeling useless at home conducting virtual visits with prenatal and postpartum folks. And consults, so many consults. Women are so fearful to deliver in the hospital, they are considering home birth or birth center birth. How awful to be the parents of young children, babies right now. Talked with a dear friend who is a dharma teacher and she reminded me that my feelings of selfishness are sorta self-centered, that I can let go of my 40+ year career as a midwife and let others do the work. That doing what I can to save my own life is ok, there is more to come, I may have more usefulness and that death is inevitable. Of course we all know that. Being able to look directly at that reality has never felt more immediate than now. Swinging from panic to calm to 'normal' back to panic again. It's exhausting.

I've actually written a list of 'things to do if I am unable to because I'm sick in the hospital or I'm dead-caring for the animals, where is my will, who to contact, etc. I asked my teacher if this is a compressed course of "A Year to Live" and she said certainly.

Mary, my teacher, also reminded me to feel the grief, maybe the selfishness is really grief. So I broke   down again and fell into the grace of her loving words. Ah, the suffering of this world. The oddness of the beautiful weather as spring breaks forth over us all and the plague crawling through the human community, picking us off. I won't even comment on the slow and misguided response of those in power. It helps no one. I'm grateful Washington State has a good governor who is doing his best to make rational decisions. I think martial law might come as the numbers continue to climb.

I volunteered to sew masks for our health care workers on the front lines.

Tonight Maya and I watched two episodes of Outlander while on FaceTime. It's our thing. We sync up our computers and watch together.

Lots of food was delivered yesterday by dear friends. I'm good for a while. A little worried about cat food but Felix has three months of food. I wish Lola would eat dry food that she then wouldn't barf up. Sheesh.

Well, I feel like I just vomited all this up. It's the anxiety talking. I'm not in a constant state of panic. It comes and goes. That's how feelings are. When I was still going to the pool almost every day, one of my hot tub pals said, "It's been a good life. I've lived a long time...." I'm just not there. I don't want to die just yet but we don't get to choose that one, do we?

For those of you who stuck it out all the down to here, (and of those who didn't), may you all be safe and well and feeling supported by those who love you. Our world is no longer one we recognize and if we are together on the other side of this human catastrophe, we will be changed. We are changed.

May all beings be free from their suffering. May all beings be well. May my love be with you.

Monday, March 16, 2020

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

                                                       Wendell Berry

The day is beautiful here and Felix and I will go to the park for a walk. With a friend who  knows full well what panic and despair are as a worker with Doctors without Borders. 

She finds humor and joy in the darkest places. 

May we all be at peace. May we be well. May we be free from suffering. 

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Well, if I'm warned to stay inside because I'm in a 'high risk' category as an officially old person, I might as well tell y'all a story, a story I've been telling for years from the annals of the weird.

You know I've been a midwife for many years, Many. Years. And sometimes there are situations that take the cake. The WTF situations, the stories you couldn't make up, the once in a lifetime stories. So here goes.

We had a lovely couple who transferred to the hospital when the birth wasn't happening at the birth center. Her sister was visiting from Hawaii and was planning to care for them afterwards. Her sister was at the birth. And this is important, fully clothed. They went off to the hospital, had their baby and we went a day later to visit them and see how they were doing.

We (my partner and I) went up to the postpartum floor and asked for the room number. We got an unreadable look from the ward clerk but no clue to what was coming. She directed us to their room.

Stepping into the room we saw 1) mom in the bed 2) dad standing beside the bed 3) a naked woman and 4) a nurse with her back to the room tending to the baby in her little cot.

Ok, so I scanned the room again-mom in bed-dad by the bed-????naked woman????-nurse with baby. The nurse had a furious look on her face because, um, there was a naked woman in the room??

At first I thought the naked woman was the mom but no, mom was accounted for.

Then I tried to get some information, any information from the parents, by reading their facial expressions or SOMETHING but not a thing. They're happy to see us, la la.

Ok, so this is the sister, now naked, not even a pair of socks. Just a long winding tattoo up her side. Are those morning glories?

So we have our visit. Baby is doing well, nursing well. The sister volunteers that skin to skin contact is good for bonding. ((?????)) Yes, but.

Then the parents want a photo with the birth team so we gather around the couple and their child. The naked sister, camera in hand,  stands on a chair and puts one foot on the arm rest for balance so we get an, um, view of her nether parts. The look on my face in the photo is, well, I'm smiling in an OMG kind of way.

We make our goodbyes and I tell my partner we need to find the hospital midwives because they're the ones we transferred to and I feel a need to apologize or make amends or something. We find their office and they are all gathered there. Before I even get a full sentence out, they say, "We know. That family is the talk of the hospital".

The mom recently sent me a funny video of a kid screaming for 5 minutes while the dad sits quietly waiting for the storm to subside. I think of them with fondness.

There's no accounting for family, is there?

Friday, March 06, 2020

Currently reading Brian Doyle's book of essays, "One Long River of Song". Encountered him in The Sun.

This is one essay. Mostly you'll find his poems on the internet. But his essays are wondrous.

He's a Catholic and I don't even mind. In fact, I rarely care what people call themselves anymore. Including myself. Am I a lesbian? Does it matter? I know it matters in terms of civil rights that we are seen as disabled or a color or race, or gender identity or homeless or what have you. In all the ways we have or don't have access or privilege or voting rights or the ear of the powerful. What I mean is that I'm more interested in connections others allow me to make, to swim through the differences to our common joys and sorrow, our yearning to be happy and free.

And Brian Doyle could be Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or Mother Teresa. And so could you and I.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Um, an update on the 'new sister' situation. She was born 5 MONTHS before me.

The plot thickens.

And we may never know the 'truth', which I actually think is a slippery eel kind of a thing.

BTW-did you know there is a dish called eel pie. Ew. Thanks to my British ancestors. At least it's not haggis.