Doctor in the Bowels of Hell

Most of you don’t know that I spend my days working in the corporate world. I don’t normally mix the two. But, these are unusual times, and I wanted to share part of my day with you.

Our CEO holds a virtual meeting every day to give us an update. They are always interesting. I’ve learned more about my company than I ever knew. I am prouder to work there than any place I’ve ever worked before. This crisis has brought out the very best in people and we have had to pleasure to listen to many. I often find myself leaving the meeting wiping tears. This morning was no exception.

Today, we were introduced to a doctor who, having been away from practice for years and working in a prestigious position in our enterprise, heeded a call for doctors to come help in the worst of the worst—New York City. Upon hearing the request, he talked to his wife, who is also in medicine. His concern wasn’t the virus, but the fact that his skills might be rusty. She talked about going as well, but they decided someone needed to stay home to handle “things” in case he succumbed to the virus.

With our company helping to expedite the nitty gritty—things like credentials, licenses, insurance (it had been 10 years since he’d practiced)—he headed to New York, where he was assigned to Bellevue. For those of you that don’t know, Bellevue is one of our country’s oldest public hospitals, and was inundated with covid-19 patients when the virus hit New York City. In other words, he was thrust into the bowels of hell. But he took it on, saying returning to practice was kind of like riding a bike, quickly adjusting. Plus, with everything happening so fast, he didn’t have time to worry about his own insecurity. In everything he said, he gave most of the credit to his team. They work together. They are one.

For the patients who are in crisis mode in the ICU, the volume of which is incomprehensible, it takes a variety of specialists to care for one patient. Intubation is far more than sticking a tube down one’s trachea. Besides the pulmonologist, anesthesiologists, possibly surgeons, nephrologists, cardiologists, and even dentists may be needed. Covid-19 proved difficult. Kidneys and other organs began to fail. Clotting  quickly occurred. They found that turning  patients on their stomachs, known as proning, could help. With a patient intubated, it takes an entire team to do this, all the while keeping the patient alive. Now, picture an ICU overrun with possibly 120 patients, all in distress, filling a straight 12 hours of your day.

Once they have done their twelve hours in these plastic draped halls, surrounded by the constant sound of hissing ventilators, they have to clean themselves and their gear and head to self-contained, quarantined accommodations where their only contact with their families and the outside world is on a flat screen. Mostly, they eat and drop into bed, needing as much rest as possible before stepping back onto the front lines once more. Even when his “tour” is over, he won’t be able to just go home. He will be in quarantine for however long it takes to ensure he doesn’t expose others to the insidious disease attacking our country. As I watched him talk, I noticed the dark shadows under his eyes and the creases on his face from the goggles he had pushed up on the head covering. His mask hung around his neck but its marks still reddened his skin. His emphasis was on all of us protecting ourselves and our loved ones so we don’t find ourselves in need of his care.

He did say one of the things that means the most to them, besides having each other to bolster one another as they trudge through these trenches, is hearing from people. So please, if you know someone who is on the front line or someone who is the family or friends of someone on the front lines, let them know how much you appreciate what they are doing. Send a card. Write a note. Send a text, an email. Whatever means you can, let them know you are thinking of them. They are, after all, the only thing that stands between life and death for so many.

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Reduced Prices on All Books on Amazon

20200419_rosebkmrkblkresize5We have so much going on right now, I decided the least I could do was adjust my book prices. All of my books on digital are now $2.99. The print prices vary because of fees, printing costs, etc. They are all set, except for Meadow’s Keep, which, hopefully, will be reduced by the end of the week. If you haven’t had the chance, I invite you to enjoy the stories about Ruthorford and her “special” descendants–The Shoppe of Spells, Meadow’s Keep, and Twisted Fate. Oh, I can’t leave out Pennyroyal Christmas, another Ruthorford suspense. My other two are suspense–Glynda’s Dare and Currents of Destiny, my newest release. It’s true that authors put a little bit of themselves into their work. I have been quizzed by my readers to reveal what they are. My reply, “It’s your job to figure it out.” If you do, I won’t lie. Have fun.
Here is a link to my Amazon page and the books. Fun reading!
https://amzn.to/35dzs5H

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Kanaloa, the Octopus God

Toward the end of summer, the owner of the Surf and Turf gathered the children of the beach, many with no place to go, and held a cookout around a large bonfire to ensure they had one great experience for the summer. He ended the event by sharing the story of Kanaloa with them, his subtle way of warning them of the dangers of the ocean. For some, it worked. For others, not so much.

Kanaloa

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Inside the Currents of Destiny

3D CoD Cover for transRecently, I published Currents of Destiny, a story created from a time in my life long ago, in a place that I love, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Though the story is fiction, many memories were brought to the forefront as I wrote it. A dear friend, Nanci Campbell Tatem, was very excited about me doing this story and encouraged me along the way. Sadly, near the end, she found out she had cancer and passed away before it went to press. Also, right as it went to publication, the novel corona virus’ spread took off. We are still in the middle of this horrific pandemic and I pray each day that it can be conquered. I know everyone, everywhere, is fighting to stay safe, while researchers are trying fervently to find a cure and a vaccine.

Although I was born in Norfolk, Virginia, my family had not been there for years. My arrival back in the area came by virtue of the kindness of my aunt, who took me in when no one else would have me. A wayward, bitter teen, I was befriended by a rather diverse bunch of people, all different and not singularly in alignment with one another. They managed, in their diversity, to offer a bedraggled girl friendship, family, and community. It is to their credit that I was able to create many of the characters in Currents of Destiny. I will leave it to your imagination to determine which ones.

Currents of Destiny is available in both print and digital: Amazon – COD-padtranshttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0863T17Q1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

As we go forward, please stay safe, stay away from others, and wash your hands. Pray for an end to this scourge and for the safety for all those incredible people on the front lines.

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International Women’s Day 2020

20200308_133753aI have been around long enough to see the world transition to and from and back again with regard to freedom and equality for women. The pendulum always seems to be swinging. In the US, lately, it seems to be swinging in circles. Women are hitting new heights in achievements, yet laws are being considered that would restrict them from making the most important decisions about their own health.

I am fortunate in that I have been granted many more opportunities than a lot of women and live in a household that fully supports me in all of my endeavors. That has not always been the case. I have lost jobs to men, I have been assaulted, I have been condemned because of my intellect, my beliefs, and my “audacity” to interlope into a world I didn’t “belong”. And today, I am glad to say, I hold a position of respect in a field still dominated mostly by men.

So, thinking back, I want to express my gratitude to several people who helped this happen, probably not knowing at the time that they were doing so. The first couple are actually men. Taking a chance, a professor of neurophysiology at a medical school, offered me a research assistantship, bucking some pretty significant standards at the time. He taught me how to hard-wire equipment, collect and analyze data using computers (very primitive at the time), and edit scientific articles. Because of him and what he taught me, I garnered a research assistantship at the university, where I furthered my capabilities, using, heaven help us, a DEC PDP-10. I also gained a reputation as a pretty good ghost writer (which, by the way, paid a whole lot better than the assistantship), writing and editing articles for publication in highly respected journals. (I actually got my name attached to one of them.)

Because of this, and my early forays into computers and programming (remember Fortran, Cobol, RPG, and APL) I was offered a position with a contractor as an Executive Assistant to one of the Vice Presidents, a woman. As those of you in the IT industry may realize, SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) sometimes have communication skills limited to technology. It was during a conference with a potential, and much needed, customer that I saw a disconnect. They took a risk and let me step up, explaining what we were offering in terms the customer could understand and appreciate. We got the contract and my career was born.

I have spent many years availing my expertise to highly technical fields, expanding communications across enterprises. I have also raised a family and published five novels (soon to be six).

I am blessed to have been encouraged and promoted by valiant men and women who were more interested in progress than “norms”. It is to those men and women that I pay tribute–and to the  women determined to step forward and offer their capabilities to the world. May every day be International Women’s Day!

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Birthday Reflections

Jerry

Yesterday, as I turned “older,” I was gifted with all sorts of birthday greetings, from family and friends alike. A cousin sent me a picture of me as a child, of which I have no memory. My daughter sent me one of us–and it took me a moment to recognize myself in the picture. It got me to thinking. Time rushes by, filled with moments we really should remember but they just get crowded in with others, our brains having no discernible filing system, until they disappear into the chasm of our being. A wise doctor once told me, our brain has no filter. We just keep cramming more and more in and, sooner or later, our brain will need to make room, so it shoves things to the back, with no rhyme or reason what goes. She laughed and added, “Just be glad you remember your name.”

All this pondering took me back to all I don’t know about me. I know I was born at 7:05 am, December 30th. It was a Saturday. I was born in a Catholic Hospital not to far from a tiny house my parents lived in, called a Tom Thumb house. I know this because my father took me by there once, knocked on the door, and told them he had had it built and wanted me to see it. It was tiny. However, at the time, I was more impressed by the fact the the owners had a huge pipe organ installed on one wall.

The house was close enough to the hospital that when my dad arrived home (I have no idea from where, but I think he was still in the Navy), he found a note on the door saying they’d gone to the hospital. Apparently, he was so shook, he left the car and ran to the hospital on foot.

I don’t know if my mother had an easy labor or a difficult one. I was 5 pounds 4 ounces, but I wasn’t a preemie. Did she miss New Year’s, having to stay in the hospital the then required three days? Was I breast fed or bottle fed? Did I have colic? I don’t know. My mom died on a cold January day after I had just turned nine. She’d been ill with cancer for a while. Her mom followed her within three months. From then on I was shuffled around a lot, not really landing on any permanent ground until I was an adult.  Shuffled kids don’t generally ask questions about their memories, more worried about where they will be next and for how long.

Sometime after I’d had my own children and my father had died, my aunt sent me a letter. She wrote me that she had found my baby bracelet among some things in a box of my grandmother’s and thought I might like it. I pulled it out, took one look, and suddenly had a whole lot more questions. You see, the bracelet was made of little blue and white beads with the letters spelling out her name. Next to her name was a white bead, then a blue bead with a big “B” on it. I dropped into a chair and stared. I had been a single birth, or so I thought. And, having given birth myself to two children, I knew I wasn’t a boy. My mom had only  two children (and at a later age–me and, four years later, my sister). I called my aunt and asked point blank what this meant. It was the only time she ever hung up on me.

She finally returned one of my calls (this was before texting) and told me a story she’d heard but hadn’t put any credence to, until I called her. Way back when, the story goes, nuns performed all sorts of “charitable” acts, including if two women gave birth at the same time and one had a still-born and the other multiples, they would make sure both women had a baby. (I can hear you gasp. Don’t. This was almost 70 years ago in a hospital run by nuns.)

So, among all my questions about my past, the largest remains. Which mother had twins and where or who is my brother?

And this, my wonderful friends, is one of the reasons I have so much “fodder” for fiction. If nothing else, I’ve lived a complex, complicated, and interesting life.

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A Ruthorford Christmas Eve

20191218_202311Like every household with children, Ruthorford’s homes are no different at Christmas ~ with a few magical exceptions. With the power of the earth at their fingertips, the descendants make sure Christmas Eve is truly magical for all the children. Combining their talents, and with the help of Mother Nature, there hasn’t been a Christmas Eve that hasn’t seen snow in many a year. Meesha and other dogs pull the children up and down Main Street in the snow, stopping by the porch of the old sisters to warm up and have some hot chocolate with plenty of marshmallows.

In the evening, a Christmas Eve Buffet is served for all at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, with emphasis on the children. For many years running, the spaghetti topped with oversized meatballs has been the favorite for children and adults alike. At some point, it was suggested to served just that, but Teresa was always concerned that might limit the choices for others. There is always a lot left over, to everyone’s delight, since the leftovers are promptly delivered to surrounding communities for distribution to those that aren’t as blessed as the residents in and around Ruthorford.

Following dinner, everyone congregates in the Chapel, for a Christmas Eve service orchestrated and presented by the young people of Ruthorford, the highlight being the living nativity performance.

The evening ends with Dorian reading The Night Before Christmas, while Eryk works his magic on the roof of the chapel, resulting in squeals of delight erupting from the children at the sounds of hooves and bells and the landing of a sleigh throwing snow from the roof and falling across the windows. Once Santa calls good night and the sleigh pulls away from the roof, the children are allowed to run outside. To this day, no one can quite explain how they can see Santa’s sleigh high in the sky, amid swirls of snow and the flutter of wings of the snowy owls accompanying Santa through the night, the glow of Rudolph’s nose lighting the way.

Almost immediately, the kids are distracted by the large sack of presents Santa has left on the Chapel steps. Each child’s name is called and every child departs with a present in hand.

Later, back at the Abbott Bed and Breakfast, Dorian and Eryk fix  bourbon laced hot toddies, warming them in their hands with a touch of magic before handing them out to a very tired but very happy group of Santa’s helpers.

From Ruthorford to all ~ MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(If you haven’t, stop by and see the Ruthorford Christmas village before you leave: https://shanongrey.wordpress.com/rutherford/ )

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Merry Solstice and a Blessed Yule

Tonight is the Winter Solstice, the shortest night of the year, and the beginning of Winter, when the wheel turns and the light lengthens, brightening our days a little more each day. May it shine its glory upon all, bringing joy, health, and happiness to each and every creature inhabiting this marvelous planet. Have a very Merry Solstice and a Blessed Yule.

Yule

(I am unsure of the marvelous author of the above beautiful artwork but am pleased to share it with all as it embodies a true feeling of Yule.)

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Photos from Santa’s Moreland Visit

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I got to spend a fabulous afternoon with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and my sister, Becky, visiting with adults and children alike at the Moreland Museum.

20191207_164739  20191207_181406  MrsClausJerrySantaBrenda

After hearing wishes for Christmas goodies and sharing wonderful treats, Santa led everyone in Christmas carols, after lighting Moreland’s official Christmas tree.

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And as Santa said as he and Mrs. Claus turned to leave, “And a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Moreland Santa Visit and Tree Lighting

Moreland

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