Anyone who has been reading my blog for a good long time, knows that my entire Garden---upstairs and downstairs- underneath-my-house, (started in 1986), is all Cactus and Succulents.
I fell in love with these unique plants and it became an addiction/obsession and another part of my creative life.....(Better than shoving something up your nose---and so much prettier, too)
Back when I began my blog, in October, 2005, I could still go down into my garden and enjoy the fruits of these amazing beautiful "living sculptures".....I could enjoy the peacefulness and dignity of these truly special and unusual creatures.
I could marvel at the one day-a-year flowers that are created by certain plants......I could enjoy the Hummingbirds and other Birds that came-a-calling----knowing there was good stuff to sup on here.....
It felt good to me that somehow I had created an Oasis for many little creatures, including hundreds of adorable little ancient looking lizards.....
I use to 'work' along side my Gardener---every plant chosen by me----every plant "placed" by me. A garden of my making. Because of my Health Issues, I can no longer go down below, into my garden and visit all the plants and be in awe of the fact that nature created these magical beings.
I can still look at it all from my Deck above.....but, well......it is not the same. And thank God, my dear gardener is devoted to my Garden, and is devoted to keeping everything looking as wonderful as possible.
I cannot even express how much I deeply appreciate his devotion and love of these rare and unique plants. Okay. I have been rather haunted by something that happened here in my Garden, about two weeks ago.
I wasn't going to write about it, but it has stayed with me in a way that is quite overwhelming
There are still some unknowns here, so I probably won't go into great great detail,
But.....suffice it to say, it was a tragedy.
A man keeled over and died.
My gardeners 'helper' who had been working here for around 4 months or so...(My Gardener has worked with me here in my Cactus Garden for over 20 years...) just suddenly fell over, and was gone.
My dear Gardener saw this happen and tried to help him, but he was not able to....
My Gardener called 911....and while still on the phone with them, come upstairs from underneath the house, where the tragedy happened, and rang my doorbell to tell me what had occurred.
He was distraught, beyond words. But he thought his helper was still alive. It turned out, he wasn't.
Three or four---maybe five Firetrucks showed up,---I'm really still not sure how many there were----and definitely there were two Ambulances, as well. This was all in answer to the 911 call.
Many many Fireman, Policeman, etc. showed up and the Fireman/Paramedics, established that this man was dead. An awful horrible truth. Stunningly Horrible. My poor dear Gardener was in shock. True Shock.
The Fireman couldn't move the helper from the position he was in because they had to wait for the Coroner---which took a couple of hours----the OSHA people were here too, and my Gardener was questioned extensively by the police and the OSHA people, and I was questioned extensively, by the police and the OSHA people, too....
Routine for them, very very odd, (but completely understandable), for me.
They have to ask all the questions they do to make sure nothing criminal occurred---which it didn't, and or, if some rules or ordinances were broken with the working conditions, etc. That is still under review, so I won't say anymore about that....
Who was this man that died, here in my garden? Did he have a family? Where are they? How old was he? Was it a Heart Attack? We needed to know the answers to the above, and to a hundred other questions Many of these questions have been answered, but not all of them.
I have lived here in my beloved home since 1964. In all the years I have lived here.....nothing like this has ever happened before. I have a lot of peoples ashes planted down below, in my lovely Garden...All people I loved dearly...... But no one, in all these 49 years I have lived here, has ever died here in my garden.
You didn't have to share this with any of us, but by doing so, you have given all of us a great gift.
If we, as women, are really honest, the idea of losing a breast---let alone two breasts, is a pretty devastating one.
To choose to pro-actively have a double mastectomy takes great courage and extreme bravery, in my opinion---even in the face of the knowledge that one carry's a life threatening cancer gene, which is the case with you.
The percentages almost make it a given, don't they---but even so, this is not an easy decision to make.
(I know one person who took this step quite a few years ago under similar circumstances----She is still alive and well and cancer free I am happy to say.)
There are many things about you sharing your decision that are very meaningful--not the least of which is the fact that your children are first and foremost in your decision.....
Another thing that is so meaningful about you sharing this decision with all of us is, that you have brought home a very important and truly basic fact:
Our womanhood is not defined by our breasts---no matter how much emphasis is put on them by just about everybody.
In the face of a more than probable life threatening illness, it is clear that one's breasts suddenly become a true liability. (One's life really is more important than one's breasts.)
Still.....it takes great bravery to do what you did, Angelina.....and even more bravery to share it with the world in the hope that it might help other women who are possibly struggling with similar concerns. It makes one stop and think, 'Gee, if Angelina Jolie can do this.....'
I so admire the way in which you have used your celebrity to make the world a better place for so very many people. And here, once again, you know that your words will carry a certain weight because you are who you are!
Thank you for your heartfelt honesty, Angelina. And, again, I say, Brava to you....Brava! More To Come..........
This is a song that I wrote quite a few years ago.....I was working on adapting a particular film that I loved, into a Musical Theatre piece.
This song was written for a specific character, named John Tower, in a very specific scene---so it was always meant for a man to sing in the show. But clearly, I was writing about what I knew, myself. When I presented it in class----This was a class that both Betty G. and I were taking, that was taught by the fantastic Lehman Engel---Musical Conductor extraordinaire, and a composer, himself, and a multiple Tony Award Winner,too.
It was a class for "professionals" who wanted to write specifically for The Musical Theatre---whether for Broadway or for Musical Theatre, anywhere and everywhere. (I had already had some of my Original songs on Broadway, in "Spoon River")....It was a fantastic class, taught by a man with a very long an illustrious history on Broadway. In fact, he was the Musical Conductor on "Call Me Mister", (1945-46) the show that brought Betty G. to Broadway Stardom, and then films.
The first year of this class was spent learning the "principles" of writing a Musical ----I remember Lehman always saying, there are no rules, but there are 'principals'. In our second year, we were to work on material that spoke to us in a very deep and personal way. Anyway, when I presented this particular song in class, Lehman was very moved by it and his words about my song, moved me. This little video was taken in my den, while listening to a tape of me singing the song. I hope you can hear all the words.
My dear sweet late brother Gordon, cried, every time he heard this song. He also said----'If Naomi never did anything else in her life but create "In My Fathers House", that would have been enough'. Words to cherish......
Given my last post, I wanted to write about my cat Teeny. He was a funny and feisty orange Tabby---one of my cat Baby's kittens from her 2nd litter.......He was a darling boy and he became the Alpha Cat, even though he was the 'baby' of the family.
At that point, including Teeny, I had four cats.
Baby, and her brother Sugar, the sweetest and dearest of cats; And Silky, who was not related to them but had a spiritual presence that was quite extraordinary.
Everyone loved Sugar because he was so needy---they all said he was like a dog....And he was an adorable incredibly hugable beautiful orange tabby..... Baby was a six toed sweetheart. And I mated her to a very laid back handsome male who also had six toes. She had 5 adorable kittens and I found homes for all of them. In fact...Betty G. and her dear husband Larry, took two of them---"Marmalade" and "Bibsy".
When Baby had her second litter, I had no intention of keeping any of the kittens---there were four. But.....the best laid plans---Teeny was irresistible. And he was adorable, too. And, very quickly Teeny became so very bonded to me that we would sleep together like spoons. Or, he would stretch out and we would sleep back-to-back---spine against spine. Within a year or two , my dear Sugar died. He was only five years old.....It broke my heart. This was my first loss of a cat and it just about did me in.....Thank God for the others---particularly Teeny. We became even closer after Sugar died.
I tell you all of this background so you will understand what took place with Teeny, soon after that. I had been in Primal Therapy for a couple of years---this was the early 1970's----and often, I would have my "feelings" right there in my den. This is a process of re-living early experiences that held pain in your body---and often actually going through in minute detail these things that you had 'felt', but had buried, once again. Many people would re-live their Birth and earlier memories, too. The experiences are all coded in your body and it is just a matter of feeling safe enough to re-live these things, a little bit at a time. It can be quite physical.
I wasn't really aware of where my cats would be when I was doing this---it was a very intense experience each time I would do this, and I was completely immersed in what I was going through. One day, during that time.....Teeny had what looked like a seizure.....It was very very scary....His little paws where moving very very fast and he was foaming at the mouth---this happened while he was in the cat pan, which was over sized since I had so many cats.....He was lying on his side and what drew my attention was this kind of repetitive beating scratching noise against the sides of the pan----that turned out to be his little legs and paws, flailing.... I ran to where the pan was and found him in the middle of this---what I thought was a seizure. It scared the living daylights out of me and frightened me for him. I was crying and so upset---I didn't know what to do. He stopped after what seemed like hours---but, in fact, it was just a minute.....
I took him to my Vet, Tony Shipp---(above, in 2004), and tried to explain what it looked like.....Tony said I should leave him and he would do some tests and also hoped Teeny would have another seizure so he, the Vet, could see what it looked like. Teeny was not happy at all about being there in the Hospital, so Tony, the Vet, decided to let Teeny roam free in this small building, so he could calm down and feel comfortable there....How smart Tony was to do that.....
After a few days, I brought Teeny home. Tony's tests showed nothing.....And he did not have a seizure while he was there at the Vet's., but he continued to have these seizures at home on occasion. They seemed to come out of nowhere. The only other person who ever saw him have one of these seizure type fits was a lovely woman from Primal Therapy, who used to 'sit' with me when I had my feelings. That time when Julienne saw him in the middle of it, (it was in my living room), she said, "Naomi, it looks like he is having a Primal....!" That had never occurred to me, but, indeed, as I watched him, it did look like he was having a Primal. I thought, that would be just too weird. To me, he looked like he was having an epileptic seizure. Tony Shipp, the Vet, said he thought we should send Teeny up to Davis, California, to the Veterinary School up there at UC Davis. It was the finest Veterinary School in the United States, at that time, and probably still is....
And Tony felt that they would be able to figure out exactly what was wrong with him, especially because they had the most sophisticated diagnostic equipment available at that time. He figured that Teeny would be up there for about a week. So, everything was arranged---the plane ticket for Teeny and the Pick-up at the Airport up there in Davis, etc., etc. I drove Teeny to Tony Shipp's Hospital and he gave him a shot of something like Valium to keep him very calm and then we, Teeny and I, drove to the Airport. We had to go to a special "Baggage" area from where Teeny would be taken on to the plane. He was in a carrier, of course, and when the baggage guy took the carrier and put it on the conveyor belt, I started to cry. Teeny looked so forlorn, all drugged up on Valium, moving further and further away from me. I told myself, he will be alright. They will take good care of him. They called me from Davis, when he arrived, to tell me that he was safe and sound. It was a very long week. I had been thinking a great deal about the fact that I needed a special room for my therapy. Many people built special areas in their homes---using a good sized closet---and sound proofing the walls, floor, and ceiling, plus using thick Foam Rubber to line the walls and the floor so that you wouldn't hurt yourself if you need to bang the walls really hard while getting out lots of anger and rage.... I had a walk-in closet which I used for all sorts of storage---China, Glassware, etc. I had some filing cabinets in there, too, and in truth, I just felt I couldn't give it up. I had to find another space. I had to find another solution. It occurred to me that there was a huge amount of empty space underneath me house, and it was accessible. It occurred to me that maybe I could have a room built there, underneath the house. I had a very nice gentleman named Ray, who cleaned my house at that time, and he was very handy, too. I talked to Ray about building this room. I told him everything that would be required, including the fact that it needed to be built like a tank! Strong and solid and secure, as well as safe and soundproofed.
It was definitely something I knew I needed to do because I really didn't feel that safe on the floor of my den, and, I was afraid to really scream as loud as I needed, for fear that someone walking by outside my house could hear me and they might think I was in deep trouble.
After a week of Teeny being under observation in Davis, the woman in charge of his case there in Davis, called me to tell me the results of all the tests. She described all the tests in detail, and said they couldn't find anything physically wrong with him. I was relieved but puzzled, too. I asked her if he had had one of those fits while he was there in Davis, and she said, "No.". And then she went on to say that the conclusion they came to about these seizures was that whatever this was, it was 'behavioral'. Oh, my.
The only thing I could surmise from this is that Teeny was, indeed, having what looked like 'a primal'; the more I thought about it, the more I realized that when Teeny had this seizure-type-fit, it did really look exactly like what I did myself, when I was having my old 'feelings---that is, re-living certain very important things that had happened to me in my early early pre-verbal life, including the foaming at the mouth..... I told Ray to start building the room, that day.
It took Ray about about ten days to two weeks to get it all done and finished. It was not fancy in any way, but it was exactly what I asked him to do. It was fantastic! It made such a difference for me in terms of everything. Safety and privacy and I could beat the walls and the floor without hurting myself. And, I could scream bloody murder with no fear of anyone hearing it and thinking I was being killed or murdered! The incredible result to all of this was that from the day I started using my room below to have my 'feelings' instead of the floor of my den upstairs.....Teeny never ever had another seizure. Talk about a sensitive soul. Talk about an animal being so bonded to you that he actually picked up and took on your old early pain. That was my Teeny! Amazing! More To Come.......