Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Swimming Through Life

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Birthing in Bolivia

The Rogue Speaks:

"Pretend Sweethearts"
Drew and Brianna

My nephew Drew, a musician, singer-songwriter, and his wife Bri, musician, singer-songwriter, moved to Bolivia a couple of months before the birth of their son, Lucien ("Lucky").  Prior to that time, they lived and worked in Portland, Oregon, making beautiful music, and some of the sweetest harmony you have ever heard. They call themselves "Pretend Sweethearts," and make stunning music videos, as well as performing live.


They made the decision to move to Cochabamba, Bolivia after Drew had visited there several times and fell in love with the region.  Brianna, long ago bitten by the wanderlust, was eager to make a home there.  And so they have.

The following is the account of Lucien's birth, as written by Drew:

Our Homebirth Story - February 27, 2015, Cochabamba, Bolivia

It was almost two a.m. For the last couple of hours, a thunderstorm had been building up beyond the mountains rising close by our house. Blue flashes illuminated the sky, silhouetting the undulating ridge. The rain was falling hard and the contractions were intense. Bri was in such pain, having foregone drugs, that the only relief came in taking hot showers. But with the storm closing in, that would have to stop. We determined that after this last shower, she’d go upstairs. Then as soon as the next contraction had passed, I’d ask our doctor Julio to come check her dilation. Thunder crashed. He noted nine centimeters, then donned a gown and began arranging all of his gear, cleaned his hands again and put on gloves. Any minute now.

In the last few days leading up to Lucky’s birth, we were a little nervous because, after weeks of counting on it, our midwife Vivian Camacho couldn’t be with us for the birth. She is working on a Master’s in social entrepreneurship and as summer wore one she’d gotten busier and busier. However, she put us in touch with Dr. Mireya Zapata, whose clinic in Quillacollo serves poor women who might otherwise have unsupervised home births, or, if attended by anyone, then perhaps an aunt, a neighbor woman with some experience birthin’ babies, or some kind of traditional healer – a k’allawaya or curandera/o who may specialize more in magic and faith healing than in delivering a healthy baby. Thus is the reality of far too many pregnant women in Bolivia: poverty conspires with superstitions and fear of doctors, leaving her to face birth in dirty conditions, with inadequate help, the umbilical cord cut with a piece of broken glass…

We had done everything a college-educated couple (unimaginably privileged by comparison to the average Bolivian) could do to prepare for a natural homebirth. We had started in the US – in Portland – where our midwife had given us the kindest and gentlest, non-invasive attention we could have asked for. As the pregnancy seemed to be totally without complication, we did our best to envision finding a midwife in Bolivia and having our baby as we’d planned. Vivi encouraged us with her kindness and solidarity, helping us through the last two months of our pregnancy and introducing us to María René, a natural birth enthusiast and now good friend who helped us throughout the day Bri after began labor. Three days before labor started, we went for an ecografía (sonogram). A 3D ultrasound only cost about $35, but at Bs/240, would have been perhaps a weeks’ wages for the roughly %60 of people living in poverty here. The ecografía showed Lucky was in good shape, decently heavy and in position to begin labor at any moment. We knew we could count on Mireya and her team to help us deliver him safely.

Earlier in the afternoon, we tried some oral nipple stimulation and other touching techniques we’d practiced as we explored tantra, but they helped only a little. Eventually, intense, painful contractions led us to believe the labor was moving along more quickly than, in fact, it was. Bri’s reaction was to engage with the pain. She let her breathing get away from her, and the uterus responded with less productive contractions. We were doing our best, but overlooked this dynamic. Luckily, once Mireya was able to determine her dilation had slowed dramatically, she assessed the breathing pattern needed to change and I translated her instructions. Bri was disappointed the labor didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Mireya and her team left, promising to come back in the evening, allowing time for Bri to move along. There wasn’t anything else we could do but try to change the mood. María René soothed her and the two of them went for a walk. With some years of experience, María René had attended a lot of births and had her two kids at home. She began concocting a mate – an herbal infusion – to mildly stimulate the labor physiology. Around the world folk medicine for labor and birth varies from dangerous to very effective. Just as the medical approach discourages using oxytocin to induce dilation until the cervix is already open 5-6 centimeters, we waited to administer strong teas of oregano (which may stimulate oxytocin production) until later in the evening. Walking helped a lot, so Bri took space from me and paced upstairs, occasionally coming downstairs to take a hot shower. She breathed calmly and as deeply as possible, showing the utmost self-control and deepest inner strength.

Mireya came back at about nine, with her two male doctor comrades - and in true Bolivian fashion, her husband and two sons. Dilation was proceeding, so she left Julio and Gherry behind to supervise the process. As Bri wisely asked, we only let one other person into the bedroom at a time. We had a thin twin mattress on the floor, and a strap hung from the door, so she could labor any number of ways, squatting, standing, hanging. María René had left late at night to get home and take care of her own children. Aurora, our six year old who was also born at home, had come back from the neighbors’ house and did her best to stay out of the way, perhaps to sleep. The guys sat downstairs and talked quietly while I attended Bri as best I could. When her cervix had reached 6 centimeters, I brewed stiff cups of mate de oregano, which Bri sipped between contractions. We kissed and she held onto me tightly, standing as the contractions came, leaning her head on my chest. We exchanged caresses and “I love you’s” and I kept encouraging her, telling her how beautiful she looked and how well she was doing.

Eventually, there came that last moment when we knew birth was imminent. In Spanish, the colloquial expression for giving birth is dar a luz – literally to give to light. I love this expression, as it really maintains the spiritual dimensions of what’s happening. In labor, both mama and baby are in a liminal space. The ability of a woman to push an eight or nine pound baby through her pelvic bones and her [vagina] is a thing inconceivable to most men or even most women. You’re doing something that is ordinarily impossible. The baby is between worlds: the dark, safe, nurturing haven of the womb, and crossing the difficult, rather dangerous threshold into a world of light, of air, contact with germs and bacteria and the violence of everyday life. But it’s also a glorious, unimaginable awakening – a breakthrough, a passage, the inverse of death. That last hot shower, then back upstairs... Julio came in and checked – nine centimeters plus – and readied himself hurriedly. The thunder was loud. Aurora awoke, sniveling audibly in the hall. I put her back to bed.

Bri was now squatting on the pallet, knees wide, leaning against me – I can’t really remember just how we were holding each other. Julio was in front of her, kneeling, waiting encouraging: “Ahora ¡empuja!” I could tell she was ready to deliver. The candle on our dresser-top altar flickered. Everything about her breath and her actions had shifted. Thunder, lightning. Aurora awoke and stood at the door. “Come on in here – Lucky’s about to come out!” I said. She stood next to me, surprisingly calm, watching with eyes wide, waiting. Bri made animal grunts and gasped quick breaths, pushing, trying, feeling. After maybe three minutes of pushing, out popped a head. Julio held it and pulled gently as Bri pushed, and Lucien Henri sprang into the world, the blue lightning flickering on his wet body in the dark room. Julio deftly cleared his airway. “What’s that?” asked Aurora, staring at the umbilical cord. An adorable smile spread across her face. Bri tilted her head up to kiss me. Julio smiled as he handed the little creature to us. “Felicidades,” he said.

I hope you have enjoyed the  "dar a luz" that Drew has portrayed here.  Now go check out more offerings on our sweet Jenny's blog!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday

The Rogue Speaks:

I read an article a couple of weeks ago about Black Friday prices, and discovered that those "blow-out" prices are in effect starting about two weeks before the day after Thanksgiving.  Just think of all the gasoline, agony and grief you could save yourselves by doing some price-checking, and keeping up on things around the second two weeks in November!

I can think of NOTHING more senseless than camping out at the entrance to a store before Black Friday so you can be one of the first in line when the store opens.  Don't these people have useful lives?  Don't they have any intelligence at all?  Don't they have anything better to do, like spending time with their families and children during this holiday?  I heard one yahoo say that it has been a tradition to camp out with the same people for literally years.  The guy looked to be around no more than 30 years old.  WHERE IS HIS LIFE, FOR PETE'S SAKE?????

Does this look like FUN?????
Have we become so consumed with the best deals on goods that will quickly become obsolete and out of style that we can focus on nothing else except rising long before dawn and standing in line to spend money that can be better used for a really worthwhile endeavor in life?
Spend that time getting to better know your family and friends, people!!  Those are the real gifts in life!  Don't let yourself become so consumed with getting the best deal that you end up looking and feeling as brain-dead as those people who spend the day after Thanksgiving looking for bargains!

Actually, I think that I am preaching to the choir here, because I am pretty sure that my blogging friends have a lot more common sense than the people who buy into Black Friday.
AND I had another "B" topic for this week, which I chose not to use because it is just too depressing to talk about right now.  If you know what it is, please comment so I know that we are all on the same page.  Maybe I'll write about it another time, eh??
Now go over to Jenny's and read some HAPPY "B" words.
Yours truly,
The Old Curmudgeon

Sunday, November 2, 2014

X marks the spot!

The Rogue Speaks:

Bob Scheiffer posed a very interesting question on Face The Nation today.  What if there was a commodity in this country that got more and more expensive every year, but the quality of that commodity just kept getting worse and worse?

Actually, there is, and it is American politics.  The quality of the politicians supposedly working for their constituants is simply abysmal.  All they do is fight and squabble and point fingers at each other.  They have become simply worthless!  So why do we continue to vote these people into office?

I once heard that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but always getting the same results.  That's what happens when useless politicians keep getting voted in year after year--you get the same results, and the American people are unhappy about that.

Of course  there are people in this country who, when they vote, get exactly what they deserve.  Why?  Because they are just too lazy to actually care about the issues that the majority of Americans face, to actually KNOW what those issues are.  "This is the way I've always voted!  So did my daddy and my granddaddy!  If it was good enough for them, it's good enough for me!"  Really? Seriously?

So I ask you, would you keep pouring money into an expensive stock that has kept going down for years?

When you go to the polls on Nov.4, please think about what you are doing BEFORE you go into the voting booth.  Don't keep betting on a dead horse.

I thank you, and your country thanks you!! 

Now head on over to Jenny's for more "X's!"

Friday, September 19, 2014

Refrigerator Art

The Rogue Speaks:
It's not what you think! There are no paintings of polar bears in a snow storm, or a whiteout during a blizzard. It's all about what you have on your 'fridge. You know those magnetic letters that come in a little box and allow you to create your own poetry on the 'fridge? Well, I love those things! I created the poem above, but when I tried to photograph it for this post, the glare was too strong, so I had to create it with one of my programs. The magnet below it is one of my favorites. I really don't know a lot of normal people, so it's perfect for me. Aside from those and a couple of others, I only have pictures of my grandchildren. 
I am looking for some interesting stuff that you have on your fridge, like a note that says "return pregnancy test," or "call exterminator about squirrels in the attic," or "herpes test Friday." After that one comes "refill Valtrex." Then there could be "return movies to Porn King video rental." "appt. w/ therapist Fri. at 2" is probably found on a 'fridge somewhere. "Stick needles in both eyes on Monday" is probably not. Nor are you likely to find "eat two pounds of M&M's Friday night." No, wait! My Best Friend Artist loves chocolate, and I know she has a bunch of strange things on her 'fridge--that might be one of them. I'll have to check.

My 'fridge door used to be so full of stuff that sometimes I couldn't find the handle, so I stripped it down to the bare stainless, and only put up things I couldn't live without seeing every day. Oh, and I do have a grocery list pad hanging there.  It says "Buy every item that gives me  10¢ off each gallon of gas!"  We have some strange stuff in our pantry.  Some day, I may even use it!

Probably the most important magnet I have on my 'fridge, and the one that I should read every day as a reminder, reads:

Thanks, everyone!  Now head on over to Jenny's and read more "R's!!!!"

Thursday, September 11, 2014


The Rogue Speaks:

Well, I certainly gave myself a headache while trying to come up with a good "Q" word. My first thought was to go with Quantum Mechanics, but after careful consideration, I decided that not a lot of people would care to comment on the subject. We bloggers crave comments, you know!!

So, for Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday I chose to write about the person from whom the word "quixotic" was derived--Don Quixote, The Man of La Mancha, a book written by Miguel de Cervantes.

Alonso Quixano is a citizen of La Mancha. At age 50 (almost), he is retired, and lives a quiet life with his niece and their housekeeper. He is an avid reader of books pertaining to chivalry. There is no way that some of the events he reads about are even remotely possible, but our dear Alonso believes them to be true. The citizens of La Mancha begin to worry that Alonso has completely lost his mind, because he rarely eats or sleeps, and devotes his time solely to reading these chivalrous tales

He decides to become a knight-errant. He puts on an old suit of armor, renames the family's old nag Rocinante, and calls himself "Don Quixote de la Mancha. Since most knights had lady loves, he decides that a neighboring farm girl is his, and calls her Dulcinea del Toboso. Unfortunately, the girl hasn't a clue that she is the object of his love, or that she now has a brand new name!

Armored and astride his noble steed, he goes out one morning and eventually finds himself at an inn. He thinks it is a castle, and he asks the poor innkeeper to make him a knight, because he thinks that the fellow is the lord of the castle. He takes off his armor, and guards it during the night until some muleteers try to steal it. He fights them off fiercely, and the innkeeper, fearing that Alonso will tear up the place, finally "dubs" him a knight. Then our hero heads out on his quest.

Along the way, he finds a young boy who had been tied to a tree for asking for his wages from the guy for whom he works. Don Quixote, pleased that he has freed this poor child, takes off. As soon as he is out of sight, the guy beats the boy within an inch of his life.

Our hero next has a run-in with some traders, who are on their way from Toledo. He thinks that they have insulted his love, Dulcinea, and they begin to fight. The traders beat Alonso very badly and leave him on the side of the road where he is later found by a neighbor, Pedro Crespo. Pedro manages to get Alonso back home safely.

While our hero is gone, his niece, with the help of the housekeeper, and a couple of men of the town, burns practically all his books and nail the door to his library shut. They tell Alonso that a magician stole his entire library and carried it away.

Don Quixote asks Sancho Panza, a rather dim-witted neighbor, to be his squire. Sancho agrees and, in the early morning hours, they take off for parts unknown. Thus began their famous adventures, the most widely know being Don Quixote's fight with the windmills, whom he thinks are giants.

On their travels, they meet many people whom Don Quixote thinks are part of his quest. Too bad the people didn't know that! Our hero managed to get himself involved with stuff that was none of his business, and people tended to beat him up because of it. He was very bad about paying his debts and this only added to his injuries.

The second part of Don Quixote was written 10 years after the first. Frankly I am surprised that Alonso lasted that long!! In any case, it seems that Don Quixote and Sancho have become famous throughout the land because of all the adventures they had had. Some people, however, still think that Alonso is a nut-case, and he is made the butt of many practical jokes.

Poor witless Sancho! Don Quixote gives him the task of finding Dulcinea, the neighbor girl who is still clueless about the whole "lady love" thing. Sancho is not about to try to kidnap the neighbor girl, so he snatches three raggedy peasant girls and tells Alonso that they are the servants of Dulcinea. Quixote asks Sancho where his lady love is, and Sancho tells him that the magician who stole his books put a spell on Ouixote which results in his not being able to see the truth.

Poor Don Quixote becomes severely depressed, and finally realizes that he is not a knight after all. He tells everyone that chivalry is dead (hmm, does that sound familiar?). He can't seem to shake off the severe depression, even though Sancho tries his best to turn it around and get him healthy again. Our hero eventually dies a broken man.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Prefrontal Cortex--Kids, Cars, Guns

The Rogue Speaks:

I'm afraid that my emotional limbic system (which includes, among other things, the amygdala) took over last week when I was writing my post about the 9 year old who shot the instructor at a shooting range in Arizona.  That happens to many of us at one time or another in our lives.  I was able to calm myself down, however, because of my prefrontal cortex (better late than never!).

The prefrontal cortex, found in the front part of the brain, takes up  one third of the brain.  That area of the brain is sometimes called the "executive suite," because it helps us to calibrate risk and reward, problem-solving, prioritizing, thinking ahead, self-evaluation, long-term planning, and regulation of emotion. In early- and mid-adolescence, the prefrontal cortex undergoes considerable growth, moving  from back to front in its development.  This development may not be complete until age 25--sometimes even later!

Car rental agencies and insurance companies have actuaries who have done studies on teenage drivers, and their studies show that teens are far more likely to have accidents than older, more mature drivers. That's why these companies charge younger people more for their services.  In fact, until recently, one had to be age 25 to rent a car.  Not only do teen drivers lack  skill, but  they frequently think that they are invincible.  Put them behind the wheel, and they begin to think with their limbic system and just do not appreciate cause and effect. Add texting, or alcohol, or drugs, and it becomes a recipe for tragedy.

Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, age 15-20!

It is my feeling that the parents of that 9 year old who shot the instructor at the shooting range were thinking more with their limbic system than their prefrontal cortex.  If they had had  more evolved brains, there is just no way that they would have done something so stupid as to allow their little girl to fire a Uzi.

Over the weekend, I saw an interview with a fellow who was teaching his pre-teen and his teen to shoot.  He felt that he was being responsible, and was teaching them to have a respect for guns, and to be responsible themselves.  It is my contention that he is really rolling the dice with his attitude.  Knowing gun safety may just fly out the window if a pre-teen or a teen has a temper tantrum while handling a gun, and the younger the child is, the more likely that just might happen.

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who had been taught by his mother to shoot several firearms, killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

On Jan 8, 2011, Jared Loughner, 22, killed 6 people and injured Gabby Giffords at a Safeway Market in Tucson.  Our son, Keil, just happened to be in that Safeway when the shooting occurred.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold killed 13 people and wounded 21 others at Columbine High School in Colorado.

One year after the Sandy Hook killings, Mother Jones analyzed the subsequent deaths of 194 children ages 12 and under.  These deaths were reported in the news as gun accidents, homicides, and suicides.  The deaths occurred in 43 different states, and in both rural and urban areas.

Gun owners with families may believe that their weapons are well-hidden from children and teens, or are safely locked away, but a curious little child, too young to know gun safety, just might find that weapon and shoot either himself  or someone else  accidentally.  You think it can't happen, but believe me, it does!

Read more:

You know the debate over "nature" versus "nurture"?  Well, the prefrontal cortex reacts very favorably to good "nurture."  If your kids see you behaving like a good parent should, it soaks into their little brains.  Given a good soaking, the brain will react on a more evolved level when a kid takes little Joey's truck, so instead of thinking "you took my truck, so now I'm gonna smack you!"  it reacts in a more appropriate manner.  The same holds true for adults.  If your kid sees you in a fit of "road rage" after having been cut off by another driver (you know, where you speed up, get alongside the other driver and shake, well, shake your middle finger at him, your face red with anger) then that behavior has a negative effect on your kid's brain.

A long time ago, when I was in my twenties (yes, a VERY LONG time ago!), I saw a man take a gun from his large collection with the intent of shooting his blind dog for having damaged the interior of his car.  The man was livid with rage.  Fortunately I was able to calm the man down, and eventually found another home for the dog.  The man's rage (he was in his mid-twenties) is a perfect example of an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex.

In another instance

Oh my goodness!  I just re-read this and have decided that I have bored you long enough!  Please go to Jenny's to read more entries for Alphabe-Thursday.  If you DO want to know more about the prefrontal cortex, let me know! Hahahahahaha!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

O M G!!!!!!!!!!!

The Rogue Speaks:

A New Jersey couple, visiting Bullets and Burgers (a tourist attraction in northern Arizona) decided it would be fun if they videoed their 9 year old daughter firing an Uzi sub-machine gun.  The girl lost control of the weapon and accidentally shot the instructor in the head while the parents were filming the lesson.  The instructor died instantly.  WHAT WERE THESE IDIOT PARENTS THINKING????

Guns have no place in the hands of children, and this little girl will carry in her mind the image of what occurred for the rest of her life.  Those parents made a fatal error in judgement  when they encouraged their little girl, in her gray shirt and pink shorts,  to fire that weapon.

I am wondering how this incident will change the lives in that family.  Do they own guns? Is that the reason that they decided to stop at Bullets and Burgers?  What will happen when they get back to New Jersey and people ask them about their family vacation??  Will they show them that video????

"Look, Harry!  Let's stop here so little Susie
can shoot a machine gun!  It will be a great
video to show the folks back home!"
Several years ago, a 7 year old boy died while firing a Uzi.  The recoil from the powerful weapon struck him in the chest.  It's just another example of ignorant parents making fatal decisions that cost a life.
Is it just my imagination, or are people in this country getting dumber by the minute??
Now skip on over to Jenny's and read some happy posts!