Taking the advice of one of my doctors, I am no longer a vegetarian.

I did enjoy the meat-free lifestyle, but like a lot of people before me I ran into some health issues due to lack of protein intake. I guess we are meant to be omnivores after all.

To quote Pulp Fiction, “Mmmm-hmmm. This is a tasty burger!”

Monarch Migration 2010

Amy and I were married on October 10, 2010. A month later a friend flew us out to California to spend a week in a beach house on Monterey Bay.

It was an amazing experience – literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. We spent long nights in each others arms with the blue Pacific ocean churning just steps away from our bed Crazy in love and everything was beautiful beautiful beautiful.

We saw a lot that week, but the highlight for me was driving up to Santa Cruz to see great swarms of monarch butterflies migrating. A sight I had dreamed of seeing ever since I first read of it when I was very young. I thought the pictures were lost, but I found a handful today.

I can remember this day like it was yesterday, and the pictures do not come close to capturing the majesty of eucalyptus trees covered with monarch butterflies. The path was crowded with people, but Amy and I stood under this wonder of nature silently holding hands. I took pictures, but eventually let my camera rest and just tried to take it all in with my eyes. My heart. My mind. She was so beautiful. A lenticular cloud hung over us in the sky like a disk of snow. The smell of the forest. The rustle of soft leaves on softer wings . . . it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

All through eternity
Beauty unveils His exquisite form
in the solitude of nothingness;
He holds a mirror to His Face
and beholds His own beauty.
he is the knower and the known,
the seer and the seen;
No eye but His own
has ever looked upon this Universe.

His every quality finds an expression:
Eternity becomes the verdant field of Time and Space;
Love, the life-giving garden of this world.
Every branch and leaf and fruit
Reveals an aspect of His perfection-
They cypress give hint of His majesty,
The rose gives tidings of His beauty.

Whenever Beauty looks,
Love is also there;
Whenever beauty shows a rosy cheek
Love lights Her fire from that flame.
When beauty dwells in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses.
Beauty and Love are as body and soul.
Beauty is the mine, Love is the diamond.

They have together
since the beginning of time-
Side by side, step by step.

~Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī


Since it would have been Amy’s birthday, today was not an easy day for me. I occupied myself with setting up a the equipment for the back yard dojo I am putting together to get myself back into shape. Once the heavy bag was set up I was happy to find that I can still throw a volley of solid punches.

Over the weekend I’ll tape up the bag and start really working it with my fists and arnis sticks.

Then Dear Old Dad got a call from Somerset County Dog Control. They have been on the lookout for a dog for us since Precious died. Today a little dog had arrived that seemed a perfect fit for my mom and dad.

A few hours later they came home with Daisy. The gentle little dog quickly won us all over with the sheer joy she took in her new home.

It never ceases to amaze me how, even on days when grief leaves me all hard sharp edges like flint tools, something as simple as the unconditional love of a little dog can draw me back into the world again.

Welcome home, Daisy.

Alive Again

My latest adventure with neuropathy was about as much fun as being trapped in an elevator for three days with Neil Diamond, a couple trying to sell me Amway products and seventeen flatulent rabid pit bulls.

Joking aside, this was bad, It was like being in hell.

I finally got some gabapentin in my system yesterday and that calmed things down to a level where I could sleep.

Today I am picking up the equipment for the backyard dojo.

Tomorrow I have to run up to Easton to see my neurologist – and we are stopping along the way to visit a chihuahua for possible adoption.

Hopefully things will get back to abnormal next week.

Assateague Morning

I will probably never return to Blackwater or Bombay Hook. There are too many memories of Amy in those places.

I have loved Assateague since the first time I visited this place as a boy. The woods and waters wild speak to me here like no other place on earth.

This morning my father and I practically had the entire park to ourselves, and while the ponies were scarce, I spotted things I have never seen before. Ospreys carrying huge rockfish, a kingfisher hovering and diving into the cold waters, great flocks of birds swirling in the sky far out to sea . . . it was glorious.


So tomorrow is my birthday.

I was pretty upbeat about turning 49, but last Monday I had an absolutely terrifying return of my old nemesis epilepsy.

As I was shaking off the seizure – and the lingering effects of Suboxone withdrawal – another health issue I had thought was long behind me came roaring back. Peripheral neuropathy. It’s like my feet are being frozen, stung by bees, punctured by scorching hot nails and clawed by a lion all at once every second twenty-four hours a day.

So for a few days I indulged myself and threw a pity-party. A stupid and foolish thing to do because it solves nothing, but no point in beating myself up over it. I am human, and like any human I have the illusion that there are limits to the amount of physical pain, fear and loss that a person can take. I say illusion because limits are always illusory. What I have been through over the last twelve months has been hard, but there are people working through greater pain than I have ever borne.

I am not much of a Bible-thumper, but there is a verse that I have gone to ever since I was a kid trying not to scream from the pain of the ear infections that destroyed my hearing.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:23

I think that, as we get older, our crosses get heavier. Life and love and loss take their toll and we stumble from time to time. The burdens we carry differ from person to person, but the challenge to live in spite of the weight is the same for each of us. It would be easy to give up, but that would mean missing out on the rewards of living in this beautiful world.

While I may bitch and moan now and then (I am Irish, after all) I am still willing to pick up my cross and follow wherever I am led.

So tomorrow my best and wisest friend will drive me to Assateague early in the morning so I can visit with the wild ponies. When we get home I will shoulder my cross again an set myself back to work. Doing what I love. Following.

Instead of wishing me a happy birthday tomorrow, instead help somebody else carry their cross for a few steps. You will help another human being and gain valuable perspective for yourself. – and actions speak more to an old artist like me more than any holiday greeting ever could.

God bless,
March 24, 2019

Pain, Pain and More Pain

So far quitting Suboxone has generated only minor side effects. I’m doing pretty good except for one thing – peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where your sensory nerves get damaged and start sending pain signals to your brain.

I am okay during the day, but when I try to sleep the pain jumps in and just kicks my ass all over the room. On a scale of 1 to 10 – with 10 being the worst pain ever – I was at about 15 last night. It got so bad last night that Dear Old Dad handed me a double shot of some seriously good Irish Whiskey. It helped.

I see my doctor on the 27th, but from what I have read there are not many effective treatments for peripheral neuropathy. I am guessing that I will have to learn to live with the pain and/or look for alternative therapies.

I could wring my hands and cry, “oh woe is me”, but that never accomplishes anything. My hands still work and my head is clear. I’ll keep on fighting.

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. We’re taking her to Salisbury for the Chinese Buffet and shopping at the Hobby Lobby – she loves that.

On Monday I turn 49. Dear Old Dad is going to drive me to Assateauge, and then we will pick up the heavy bag and other equipment for the backyard dojo.

The Daily Frail will be back on Tuesday.