Be Our Guest

Last Tuesday, my brother, who owns a pool maintenance company, stopped at a house north of town in the desert to work on a customer’s pool. It was post-lunch, and he’d been working since 5 AM.  He’d gone home midday for food and a 100º+ temperature break, and when he returned to his schedule, he wore his flipflops not his close-toed shoes. At his first stop,

without warning

and with no rattle,

Fangs embedded into the top of my brother’s foot –

My brother was bitten by a rattlesnake!

He looked down and saw the 5-foot rattler @ his feet. My brother immediately drove himself 20-minutes to the closest ER; leaving his work truck parked and idling in the ER’s entrance drive as he admitted himself into the hospital.

After an examination, the doctor determined the snake had bitten my brother on the top of his foot –

Twice!

His foot swelled beyond recognition and turned a greenish-blue. The pain in his foot and leg was excruciating.  The venom, the poison, pushed its way through his veins; radiating pain from the puncture wounds and causing him to scream out in pain.

Admitted to the ICU for three days, he received six vials of antivenom (at $2400/vial.)  His bill at discharge, $200K. gasp! He still can’t put weight on his foot, so he uses crutches, and he’s unable to work for at least two weeks.

A costly lesson to remind us that we’re guests in the desert where we’re awestruck by the desert’s beauty – its play with the sunlight and its rare and impressive terrain, but at times, oblivious to its torturous conditions and its acclimated inhabitants.

The desert demands respect for its uniqueness, and unfortunately, sometimes, we discover firsthand an appreciation of its dangers. Warnings may or may not happen.  The sun doesn’t tell us that it’s taking our water, the cactus doesn’t ask us to keep our hands off and a snake may or may not rattle before it strikes.

Through witnessing my brother’s recovery, I’ve been bitten by the harsh reality:

We can’t let down our guard when infringing on this rugged territory.

Respect the earth. Respect others. Respect the desert.  And unlike most good guests, never take your shoes off when entering.

IMG_0026“Be Our Guest”

0° of Separation

I’m building you a garden.

“I’ll be visiting a lot.” – Jules, a month before she died.

Do you believe in life after death?

Faith is believing in what we cannot see.

I listened to her last dying words – the messages she told me from behind her full-face oxygen mask as she laid in a hospital bed with a broken hip in her final days of battling lung cancer.  Her hands trembled as she attempted to reach at the oxygen mask, trying to pull it from her face so she could speak. She looked at me with her traumatized eyes and talked through the air blasting into her nose and mouth:

what kind of dressing?

You need to put it in an envelope.

I’ve been kind of busy lately.
Where are we going?
How are we going to get there?
So I have to walk?
Thank you for being available to me, it means a lot to me.
This is the way I wanted to go.
After her death, I happened to stop at a random Costco Wholesale to buy only one item. Headed to the cashier with my can of mixed nuts, I took a  detour when I saw a display of rose bushes.  I could tell they had been housed in the indoor light and without a recent watering (nothing a little love couldn’t cure) yet decided it was fate since I’d never seen rose bushes for sale in a Costco. I inspected the bushes and chose one based on the color of its buds.  It’s common name, Fire & Ice. Seemed like a fitting name for a plant to begin my Jules’ garden.
And now, two weeks later and a month after her passing, the Fire & Ice rose bush is going nuts!

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Jules always kept her word with me, and now I see, in death, she continues to speak; no longer muffled from entering oxygen or from the interruption of a lack of breath.

It’s our active choice to believe we sometimes won’t be able to explain why, when, where, how or the extraordinary but to trust we may see who.

And to me, this is faith –

An assurance that there’s life after death and there’s 0° separation if we listen to the messengers who’ve gone, returned and report we’re NOT going nuts when we see and hear the unexpected. Instead, we’re being led to the truth –

It really is phenomenal

where we’ve never been but where our late loved ones live!

 

From This Point Forward

Relaxed joyfulness is found at the point

when we have everything we could ever need,

and we know it.

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“Welcome to the Party, Let’s Celebrate”
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“Repeat After Me”
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“From This Point Forward”

 

Rest in relaxed joyfulness, J⁴

07.27.1954 – 04.05.2018

I’ll see you in the Light

and honor your grace

all the livelong day.

http://www.neckgrace.com

http://www.rpstillworks.com

 

 

Perspective

 

Last night I read that Anguilla was in the direct path of Category 5 Hurricane Irma.  The hurricane’s eye hit the island early this morning. With wind speeds clocked at 185+ mph and surf surges 7-11′, Hurricane Irma left a catastrophic mark on this tranquil, beloved island.

 

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“The Edge,” Shoal Bay East

 

 

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Walkway to the beach, Shoal Bay Villas

 

 

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Anguilla, “Tranquility Wrapped in Blue”

 

 

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Anguilla gets my vote for “Best Beach in the World”

 

Being a travel photographer, I never leave a location without being affected or without my heartstrings being tugged. It’s as if the people and place are permanently cataloged in my mind – the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the sights and the feelings never die. The senses are reintroduced through the saved imagery, and I feel a closeness.  Visiting my photo archives last night, I prepared for the storm by looking through my favorite Anguilla images.  I didn’t have to hide from the incoming, ferocious storm, brace myself against deadly winds, secure my house from rising flood waters or see torn-off roofs, downed trees or snapped-in-two power lines. Instead, securely inside my house, 3200 miles away, I worried about what Anguillians would face in the morning, and with this kindred spiritedness, I felt as if I was right next door to my neighbor.

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Post-Irma: The Pumphouse, my favorite Sandy Ground, Anguilla hang-out

 

This morning, while Hurricane Irma pummeled Anguilla, I attended my Wednesday workout class in Arizona.  The motivational topic was perspective.

When you see a field of dandelions, do you think,

a bunch of weeds 

or do you think,

a bunch of wishes?

No matter where we go in the world, we all desire shelter – a place to retreat to have safety and security, and when our shelter is threatened or wiped-out, we are lost – where do we go? what do we do?

How do we survive?

We grieve for what was and celebrate when the sun comes out.

– dandelions grow like crazy when the sun’s out –

Focusing on rebuilding the beauty

if we didn’t lose our lives.

Perspective.

Pick at endless weeds or choose to make innumerable wishes –

Anguillians are strong, gracious, and positive-thinking, and I’m fairly certain they will choose the latter

Perspective.