Author Archive

Kathleen Flowers

April 16th, 2009

Kathleen Flowers passed away peacefully on April 12, 2009 (Easter Sunday) at the age of 44, after a courageous and inspiring four years of living with a rare form of cancer.

A native of Sunnyvale and Santa Cruz, Kathleen had a Masters degree in teaching from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She was an innovative bilingual elementary teacher, pioneering the Santa Cruz dos alas dual immersion language program. This was Kathleen’s passion and utter joy. Kathleen was also an extremely gifted writer and poet. Her poetry chapbook Call It Gladness was published in 2008, winner of the first “In Celebration of the Muse” award. She read at many poetry events in the area, and was published in many anthologies.

Kathleen had a strong affinity for nature. Although she walked softly on the earth, many of us often wondered if she drew energy from the sun – as her trademark smile was always beaming and bright. Kathleen’s vibrant personality and caring spirit uniquely touched and inspired every person she met. She will be profoundly missed. Her family has endless appreciation for the warm care and support provided by friends over the past several years.

Kathleen is survived by her husband Howard Feldstein, mother Diane O’Hearn, father Michael O’Hearn, sister Michelle Ross, brother Brian O’Hearn, and her beloved nieces and nephew.

A memorial service will be held for Kathleen on Sunday, May 3, 2009, at the Santa Cruz Progressive Baptist Church. Her family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations are sent to The Kathleen Flowers Memorial Fund (details will be posted here shortly), which will benefit the Dual Immersion and Poetry program at Delaveaga Elementary School, Poetry Santa Cruz, and WomenCare, a support center for women with cancer and their families.


Kathleen Flowers

April 15th, 2009

Dear Friends,

Kathleen has ended her epic battle with cancer, choosing to take her last breaths on a beautiful Easter Sunday. Surrounded by family and friends, Kathleen passed on very peacefully, and even had a gentle smile on her face.

Although she had been battling for over four years, her passing did come on suddenly over the weekend. However, Kathleen, being the bright spirit and heroine fighter, was planning future outings with family just hours before she passed on. She never gave up the battle mentally or spiritually; it was her body that finally surrendered. She did say on several occasions that she was at peace with whatever was to happen, and she really did live fully to the very end.

Kathleen is our inspiration, as she drank up life and taught us to seize every moment and enjoy every ray of sunshine.

We will all miss her terribly, but her wide beaming smile will burn bright forever within ourselves. Kathleen is finally at peace, and we take solace in that she has been freed from horrible pain.

We would like to thank each and everyone of you for all your love and support over the past years. You have all blessed her life personally, and your outpouring of support has been like a huge warm loving hug, wrapped around her 24 hours a day. We will never forget what you have all contributed and shared, and our gratitude to you all is limitless. Thank you.

We will soon post information about a Memorial celebration and where to send contributions in her memory.

Thank you,

The O’Hearn Family


Home Sweet Home!

May 25th, 2008

May 24, 2008

Dear Loved Ones,

Thank you so much for all your love and concern and well-wishes. I continue to be here and happy because of your friendship, prayers and care. Thank you!!!

Yes, I’m home now and plan to stay here. No more trips to the hospital—no matter how good the Cozy Shack puddings may be! And pudding has been the name of the game these days. I guess those rascally doctors had to do a lot of work on and around my intestines so they’re a bit bruised and tangled. Not the happy campers that usually are screaming for more food. But, each day, my appetite and the workings get stronger and so does my energy level.

I have been amazed at how tired I am, though, and how much time I can log in the horizontal position. Remarkable, really. But not to fear, I’ve written 4 poems since I got home Sunday afternoon. (So there, big, bad C! You can’t stop me from ‘spressing myself.)

The appointment last week with the new oncologist, Dr. Stampleman in Salinas, was really constructive. She seems very knowledgeable and open-minded and supportive of my German immunotherapy treatment. She’s also looking into other ways to help me find a cure for this nasty disease.

I am hoping to start my vaccine treatments this coming Tuesday; as well as, the drug that Dr. Kübler recommends. I’ve just been waiting until I felt a little stronger and my digestion stabilized a bit.

In the midst of my melotrauma, my sister, Michelle, and her hubby, Brandon, had a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Maggie, in the same hospital on the floor below me! My niece Ella got to be there for her sister’s birth and even cut the umbilical cord. And, my brother, Brian and his wife, Meg, and my niece, Breegan all were here visiting from San Diego. So, there was quite a celebration this Mother’s Day. So much to be grateful and excited for, indeed!

You have all been so great to me, treating me like such a queen––especially Howard, and my family, and friends. I don’t know what I’d do without you all believing that we can get through this and somehow, always making me smile, making me see the humor and the hope in it all.

I love you so! And pray that you are healthy and happy and living your dreams,

PS It’s Howard’s 50th Birthday on Monday! Send him a virtual hug that day, OK? What a courageous and selfless love-bug, that one! I am so very fortunate.


Oh, no! Another trick!

October 31st, 2007


I don’t know what hapened, but looks like my blog entry got chopped! Usually, I write them on a word document and then paste them into the blog–but of course, this time I didn’t so there’s no saved copy of the next 4 paragraphs that tell of my brother and his family’s fantastic visit, the San Diego fires, the Halloween Parade at DeLaveaga, etc.

I’m sorry, it’s too late and I don’t have the energy to write it again.

Just know that I love you all and am so excited to be coming home tomorrow!!!

Hug you soon,


Taking a Plane Instead of My Broom…

October 31st, 2007

Flying home on Halloween! I almost got a trick instead of a treat: good thing I checked my reservation. US Air had added an extra stop in Las Vegas with an extra 4 hour layover but fortunately, a nice woman in their service department got me back on my original flight with just the one stop in Philadelphia. Phew! It has been 3 1/2 months since I’ve been home–isn’t that long enough to wait?!

I had my last treatment at the clinic on Monday. It went smoothly. My bed was right by the window so I spent the time just gazing out at the autumn leaves, the rare presence of blue sky, and gave many thanks for the incredible opportunity to receive this very speial


Brrrr! 6 Degrees Celsius…

October 20th, 2007

…which converts to a balmy 42 degrees Fahrenheit! There’s an apotheke (drug store) on the corner I check on the way to the swimming pool for a digital reading of the time and the weather. My guess was way off today: I thought it was at least 12 degrees Celsius. Just three months ago, Howard and I were in Italy forcing ourselves to eat gelato every day to combat the heat: high 30’s to low 40’s Celsius (90’s-100 + Fahrenheit)! Each month, I’ve watched the thermometer inch down: in September I was surprised by the steady decline into the 20’s, and now in October, along with the yellow and red leaves, the temperature has fallen another 10 degrees! My mom said, “Maybe it will snow before you leave…”

Luckily, my mom and my niece, Ella, got some of the warmest and driest weather I’ve experienced this fall in Munich. It was even sunny and 70 F the last two days they were here.

On the first day of their visit, we took a double-decker bus tour of the city (roof open for the first part) that cruised by many of München’s major attractions, including: several museums, the National Theater, Opera House, New City Hall with famous chimes, the outside of a beer hall, the Palace of Nymphenburg with Royal Gardens, the Olympic Park, and even the neighborhood where I’ve been staying: Schwabing, which has been called the Greenwich Village of Germany with its artist district and open air cafes.

Then Saturday morning we took a 3 hour train ride to a Berchtesgaden, a lovely town nestled against the Alps, famous for its salt mining, situated not far from a gorgeous lake, the Königssee, only 20 km from Salzburg, Austria. We didn’t have enough time to take the salt mining tour or to visit Austria, but we did hike the wooded trails above town, ate hearty Bavarian fare, and took the 2 hour round trip around the lake in a silent, environmentally clean, electric boat. When we got to the middle of the lake, they cut the engine and the tour guide stood on the edge of the boat and blew a horn. After each line of the song, he would pause and let the mountains echo the melody back. It was a most extraordinary duet!

Monday, I had my treatment—my last blood-letting! Hurrah!—so Ella and Mom spent the day shopping. They got home just as my side effects were winding down and entertained me with a show-and-tell of the booty they had acquired. Then I made the mistake of suggesting we watch an episode or two of “24”. Just as I had been, they were instantly hooked. Don’t tell my doctor, but we stayed up until midnight that and the next two nights trying to squeeze in as many episodes as we could before they had to leave.

Tuesday, we took the tram out to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, only half an hour ride out of the city. As you can imagine, it was an incredibly chilling experience to step on the very ground where so many unspeakable atrocities against innocent people had been carried out over a12 year duration. We each had an audio guide that not only described the different buildings on the site and how they had been used; but, also included personal testimonies and recollections shared by survivors of the camp. There was a film shown in different languages and lots of photographs, historical background, and information in the museum. But even with all this realia, how can one begin to comprehend the magnitude of the suffering, the devastating ripples sent out across generations, families, communities, the world? As one of the memorials so simply but powerfully put it, “We must never forget.”

And once again, trying to grasp such unimaginable loss, I am overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude for all the resources and technology, for all the prayers, concern and support that have been showered on me to help save my singular life. May I use it to be of service, to bring some good. I shall never forget how lucky I am.

The last afternoon of Mom and Ella’s visit was spent strolling through the English Garden, admiring the autumn leaves, the meandering river, the little children riding their wooden bicycles, the couples picnicking on blankets on the grass… My visitors drank their final Bavarian brew and we shared a gargantuan pretzel at the beer garden on the lake. Our table was so close to the water, Mom befriended a handsome swan that could almost stretch its neck to the height of the table and help itself to our snack!

Needless to say, I was so happy to have them here! Their enthusiasm and curiosity for the many novelties of another country, culture, and language were contagious and many of the sights became new again for me through their eyes and exclamations. Ella kept saying, “I can’t stop smiling!” A beautiful sight indeed! In fact, I’ll try to load some of our photos so you can see both of their gorgeous grins!

They’ve only been gone 36 hours and I miss them already; but, don’t feel too sorry for me because my brother, his wife, and 5 year old daughter arrive Sunday morning! Let the festivities continue! And the flu shots, too!

Love to y’all,



October 10th, 2007

On Another Continent

Afraid of missing you so much I’ll miss
what’s here before me, I secure blinders
against my longing and quip, It’s Zen
to stay in the present
, all the while
bumping into dullness.

But when I let myself yearn for you,
I become this city with all its bells
in all its churches ringing all at once––
their big, brass hearts bonging along
with mine in a cacophony of exuberance.

When I risk a loneliness I might not
be able to bear, I become instead
sudden rain splashing the drowsy lake.
I become all its waves and ripples
radiating out across its shivering surface.

I become the ducks turned upside down,
feeding on every morsel of every memory.
I am the geese and their inelegant honking,
running upon the water, soon flying back to you.

©Kathleen Flowers, October 2007

It’s the big count-down now: only two days until my mom and niece, Ella, arrive for a visit. In less than two weeks, my brother, Brian, his wife, Meg, and their daughter, Breegan, will be here. Then, three days after they leave, October 31, I fly home! Having my loved ones here is going to be so much fun! There are so many things I want to show them and do with them. I know the time will just whiz by!

Just as the other women from the clinic, that I’ve talked to, have said, the after-effects of the treatment are becoming easier each week. I think I’m over the worst of it. Hallelujah! Next week is my tenth and last blood draw! After that, I have two more appointments where I just receive the dendritic cells and the flu vaccine. When I go home, the clinic over-night expresses more vaccine made from my blood (packed on dry ice!) to inject once a week for several weeks. After that, we wait for all “the good guys to hunt down and destroy all the bad guys”. Around February, I return to the clinic to have my blood tested again to see where my numbers are. The goal is to get every thing under 500 which cancels out the threat of any new metastasis. (More prayers, more prayers.)

What an extraordinary experience this has been! I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been given this chance to heal, to have received TONS of encouragement and care from family and friends since I’ve been away, and to have so much to look forward to once I’ve returned home!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I love you all so!

P.S. My sincerest gratitude goes out to Amber Sumrall for doing numerous and very close readings of the new poems I’ve been writing here in Munich—including the one above––and for giving me invaluable suggestions for revising them. This collaboration has been potent medicine and great FUN!



October 4th, 2007

OK, a medical update and then we’ll get to the real business: Octoberfest!

My “naughty” veins reverted on Monday and it took the good doctor 4 tries before we got the blood going! Even so, the machine’s alarm kept sounding because the flow kept stopping. Argh!!! Just when I thought that bit of stubbornness was behind me. But in the end, the lab got the “stuff” they needed and I got my dose of natural killer cells chased by two flu shots.

I celebrated by having lunch afterwards with another patient who is from San Francisco. She was very kind to talk to me at length about her experience at the clinic back in May when I was doing research on Dr. Kübler and his treatment. Without divulging too much of her confidentiality, I think it’s OK to tell you that her results at the clinic have been VERY positive. I also had breakfast with another patient from the clinic the previous week who was back to have her blood count taken after finishing her treatment in July. She emailed me when she got home to say that her results were GREAT—the specifics: I’m still waiting to hear. I am so happy for them and so encouraged for my own case.

Something very real is happening at this clinic and I just wish the American doctors would get interested or probably, more accurately, that the FDA would stop stalling around and make this treatment available in the states. In fact, the machine they use to filter our blood is manufactured in the US! Supposedly, the treatment is completely non-toxic and works on the premise that the body wants to heal itself and sometimes just needs a little help. And one of the amazing things about it is: once the natural killer cells learn to recognize the tumor cells and start fighting against them, they never forget and that information gets passed down from generation to generation of immune system cells. Now that’s what I call education!

I hate to sound too cynical, but from the reading and observing I’ve done, I think the barbaric nature of and dismal cure rate from cancer treatment in our country has less to do with the unwillingness of doctors to look into alternatives and more to do with the pharmaceutical companies. Maybe if they could find a way to make as much money off of using a patient’s own cells as they do using expensive chemotherapy drugs, we’d see this treatment suddenly become available in the US…(And, I haven’t even gotten to see “Sicko” yet!)

OK, enough politics and on to some good old-fashioned Bavarian fun: Octoberfest–or as it is called here: die wies’n (remember: pronounce the “w” like an English sounding “v”: Dee Veesen)! I tried to follow all of the “Octoberfest Tips”, posted in last week’s blog, that were passed on to me by Silke, the generous woman who is letting me stay in this apartment in Munich:

-don’t go alone
-don’t go on the weekend and if so then really in the morning (10:00)
-only go if the weather is nice
-eat a haehndel
-only go when you are in a good mood
-expect many drunk people

I went yesterday, which was a Tuesday, at 11 am, with Frank and his almost one-year-old daughter, Lola. It was perfectly sunny and warm, I was in a fantastic mood, and I left before I saw too many drunk folks—or became one myself! Frank is a good friend of Angelika’s (my Santa Cruz friend who invited me to spend several days at her parents’ home in Northern Bavaria that really kicked-off my time here at the beginning of the trip).

(For Octoberfest visuals, go to: which is a Kodak sight where I have put the Octoberfest photos I took yesterday since I haven’t figured out how to program the camera or the computer so that each photo uses only 2 megabytes or less—the limit of what this blog can handle.)

Silke also wrote to let me know that die weis’n is not located outside of town, but in the middle of the city. I found this out yesterday when I took the subway and it was only 6 stops from home. Speaking of the subway, the first 2 photographs were taken while riding the escalator up from the subway station. I turned around and snapped them just before being dumped into the middle of the Octoberfest extravaganza. I have to say that the subway ride to the event was an experience in and of itself.

The train was packed when it came into the station so I just followed the others and smashed my way into a car that already looked like it was busting at the seams. I was literally nervous the doors were going to take off my nose when they closed. I counted almost 50 of us just crammed into the space between where the two sets of facing doors are. (When we got to our stop, I swear I left with someone’s embroidered lederhosn tattooed to my bare arm!) Actually, everyone in the subway car seemed to be laughing and joking. And because a good majority were decked-out in the authentic Bavarian dress–suede and embroidered short pants and suspenders—lederhosn–for the men and pretty, apron-covered, bust-adorning dresses for the women (the secret of which, I’m told, is to buy the blouse a size or two too small…)—dirndls–for the women—I had plenty to admire while I was praying that I wouldn’t suddenly become prone to claustrophobia. The fun thing is that the “locals” don’t reserve these special outfits just to wear to die wies’n. You see people dressed this way all over town during the two weeks and three weekends that Octoberfest is held. If I were Bavarian, I’d be sporting mine proudly!

I always thought that Octoberfest happened all over Germany; but, in fact, it is a tradition that began in Munich when one of its princes got married (I hope I’m remembering this right) and decided to share the celebration with the whole town by making a party and giving out beer and sausages and pretzels to all. Everyone had such a great time that they decided to do it again the next year and so the tradition has continued and expanded for how many years? A long time—by American standards, anyway. So, of course, it’s not just the Munich people that come out for Octoberfest, but there is significant representation by American, Australian and Japanese tourists (to name a few) as well. Something like 10 million people participate in the Octoberfest each year!

So, a few comments about the other pictures you’ll see if you go to the aforementioned website:

• Octoberfest looks a lot like a county fair in our country, with lots of food and souvenir booths. I just had to take a photo of the booth that exclusively featured one of my all time favorite foods: pickles! (Next to this booth, there was a haunted house that was playing salsa music setting up a nice competition with the ubiquitous Octoberfest polka music. You gotta’ love it!)

• There are all kinds of rides. The carousels were my favorite. Not only did they have the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen for children, but they have adult versions that rotate incredibly slowly, in which people are sitting on stools at little tables drinking—you guessed it: beer!

• There are a lot of stands selling elaborately decorated, heart-shaped, gingerbread cookies that are decorated with German words I couldn’t quite translate. I asked my trusty wies’n tour guide Frank about it and he pointed out all the couples walking around wearing these cookies hanging from ribbons around their necks. Supposedly, they buy them for each other to profess their love. Ahhh….isn’t that sweet?

• Not only was it Family Day yesterday, but it looked like it was Class Day, too. I couldn’t help but take a picture of a teacher leading her class around. Don’t worry, they seem to restrict the children’s tour to the rides—just BIG kids in the beer tents.

• Did you notice that I got a photo of Bill Clinton in lederhosn?

• OK, you’re gonna’ see a picture of me enthusiastically biting into the biggest pretzel you’ve ever seen and hoisting a liter stein of brew, but, whereas I was eating the first with gusto, I was only sampling the second to see what all the fuss is about. Pretty vunderbah suds, I have to admit. (Only beer made here in Munich is allowed to be sold at die wies’n. No Coors, no Corona.) And I did eat a haehndel (half a roasted chicken: prima!).

• Check out the man waving a gigantic pretzel over his head—he’s calling his friends over, not alerting the authorities that he’s run out of mustard!

• And then there are a lot of photos of the so-called “beer tents”. I’m here to say, they are nothing like the hastily constructed Quonset Huts for drinking tournaments I was imagining. As you can see, they are quite creatively designed on the outside (the lion below the Lowenbrau insignia is animated and is roaring: “Looow-eeennn-brauuuu”) and breathtakingly decorated on the inside. Frank said it takes them two months to construct all these buildings with their adjacent beer gardens. There are at least a dozen of these “tents”, some with second stories for additional seating, and each with a separate raised area for the live band. They looked to me like they each seat hundreds of people. Frank assured me that when we were there at noon it was half as crowded and rowdy as it would be that same evening and NOTHING compared to a weekend night. I’ve heard that the tents get full at some point in the afternoon and then they close the doors. That’s when the REAL party begins with people standing on the benches, arms linked and swaying like some massive and lurching kelp bed, singing their favorite Bavarian songs along with the band! If only I was brave enough for such revelry…

• I could still go back this weekend…

• Another thing Frank told me is that a lot of offices bring their employees to die wies’n each fall. He also said that some employees look forward to bonding with their colleagues at Octoberfest even more than the annual Christmas party… (It’s not a cheap party either since it’s customary to wash down your chicken and pretzel with 2-3 steins of beer! To give you an idea: one stein of beer costs over $10 and the chicken costs about the same. Pretzels are only $5. You do the math.)

• And finally, a word about “mein klein schwein”—or the little pink pig that keeps popping-up in photos—from the Alps to our wedding altar! Howard “adopted” him a number of years ago at a garage sale and for some reason, when we started dating, the pig would show up in the darndest places: in the empty seat next to me at a jazz show in San Francisco, beside the salt and pepper shaker at a nice restaurant, peeking out of Howard’s shirt pocket as we rode The Big Dipper at the Boardwalk…One thing led to another, and soon, the pig was taking trips with us. In fact, we took so many photographs of him, he should have his own photo album! Howard wanted me to keep the pig in Germany but I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility. I politely declined until the day I took Howard to the Munich airport for his return flight back to the Cruz, when, at the very last moment, I yelped, “I NEED the pig!” So, now “mein klein schwein” can boast of not only having seen the leaning tower of Pisa, the great carved doors of the duomo in Florence, the Sistine Chapel and the Pantheon in Rome, but, he can also heave a sigh of relief for not being roasted and turned into a sausage sandwich at the Octoberfest!

When next I write here, my mom and neice, Ella, will be here visiting!!! More tales to tell!

Proust! And love,

P.S. I want to apologize to any native Muchenites for the many errors I’m sure I’ve made in my innocent attempt to share what I’ve learned about Octoberfest. I truly had a delightful time and would like to come back next year—just under different circumstances—and bring all my friends. But, we’ll need to brush up on our German drinking songs first!


Did You Know that Octoberfest Happens in September and Isn’t Called Octoberfest in German?

September 28th, 2007

I just got this and had to include it in this week’s post!!!

Octoberfest Instructions to a Naive Tourist from a Native München:

Don’t go alone
Don’t go on the weekend and if so then really in the morning (10:00)
Only go if the weather is nice
Eat a haehndel
Only go when you are in a good mood
Expect many drunk people

Some friends of Angelika, who live by the fairgrounds outside of town where the Octoberfest is held, have offered to take me. They, too, suggested going on a weekday, in the morning. Maybe for the next blog I’ll have some wild stories to report…

For this week’s report, I’m happy to say that my treatment went well again! And as Howard calls it, I also got through the “Big Sweat”, no problem. The symptoms actually came on later, lasted for less time, and were a bit less intense. So, maybe I’ve turned a corner.

For the last week, I have been feeling under the weather though. I haven’t had a lot of energy and not much appetite either—which if you know anything about me, is just not right! I asked the good doctor about it but he wasn’t in the mood for questions and grumbled something about it having to do with the Protocel. I don’t know. I haven’t taken that since mid-July. I prefer to think that it’s the dendritic cells hitting critical mass in my body, causing large cancer cell casualties. I want to believe that there’s a big change happening in my system and wouldn’t it be odd if I didn’t feel any differently? I’ve still been swimming and going to the park and it’s still raining––with little sun in sight.

Sadly, I don’t have any great adventures or sightseeing trips to report. Mostly, I’ve been working on poems, which for me, is a favorite form of psychic spelunking! Speaking of poetry, I really blew it! My critique group, The Emerald Street Poets, just published an anthology of our poems called, Harvest from the Emerald Orchard, and had a reading at the Louden Nelson Center this past Tuesday night. I heard there was a great turn-out and that it was a festive night of verse! I so wish I had had my wits about me to have invited you. But, you can still hear several of them on KUSP this Sunday night from 8:00-9:00 pm (or listen on the web pod cast afterwards, at your own convenience) talk about what it’s like to be in a critique group and perhaps read some poems, too. Oh, how I miss my poetry community! Santa Cruz must be the best place in the world to live if you happen to aspire to versifying!

I spent the morning learning how to add photos to this blog. I ran into some limitations but I did end up posting a few photos from our wedding in July. You can find them in the “Wedding Album” link on the upper right side of this page. There’s another album called “Honeymoon” but I’ll need to take a break from such technical feats before I attempt posting more photos.

In just a little more than a month, I’ll be home and wanting to see all your sweet faces and it will be your turn to catch me up on your lives. Howard and I are talking about having a big party to celebrate this new life we starting, so stay-tuned in November for date and time. Of course, you’re invited!

I guess I’ll leave you for now with a big virtual hug and with a seasonal poem-in-progress.


Overnight they slipped out of their
Shimmering green summer gowns.

We carouse now in their wine and cognac-colored
Lingerie that splashes and pools around their narrow feet.

Soon the trees’ only embellishment
Will be bare shoulders, curves and knees.


Alles ist Gut

September 19th, 2007

All is Good! It appears that I have managed to row my little coracle out of another episode of hell-symptoms and am floating along fine today––well enough to be working on a number of new poems! It’s interesting, it seems as though it takes my getting knocked-down sick to soften some part of me that I usually work very hard at keeping strong and impenetrable. I have been brought to tears many times today. It feels like a gift and a relief.

When I checked my emails from yesterday and today I was reminded of how none of us are alone as we balance our ration of suffering and fear with our wonder and celebration: the terrifying news of a friend’s beloved brother with an unexpected recurrence of cancer, the thrilling notice of a cousin expecting twins: a boy and a girl, the tale of adopting a puppy with the necessity for constant vigilance but the incredible bonding that also comes, and the reassurance from a friend of continued friendship despite my tendency toward self-absorption and sporadic communication…

And then, as if my heart wasn’t already brimming, Ellie, the woman who handed me the first end of the healing rope I am presently following just called from here in Munich! It was our first time getting to talk. She is a friend of a friend of a friend whom I’ve not yet met in person but who referred me to my acupuncturist (aka: Healing Angel) Mudita Voigt. Mudita has not only been an extraordinary healer in her own right on my behalf; but, has also untiringly searched for my cure since we met nearly two years ago. And it was this same Mudita that found out about Dr. Kübler and his revolutionary treatment and encouraged me to look into its possibilities. So, I have now spoken to Ellie, the first link…

Yesterday in the clinic I was lying next to a woman from Carmel (there have been several women from our part of California treated at this clinic, that I know about, in the past several months but she and I are the only “California girls” presently being treated) and at one point in our conversation, we got to talking about the extraordinary experience of feeling mysteriously but unmistakably “led” to each next step of our healing. She, too, had experienced a strong “knowing” that led to certain decisions even when they went against what the western doctors recommended. And like me, she feels so grateful that she was given and then followed those intuitions (aka: Grace).

Ok, I’m going to try and rein-in my philosophical and cosmic galloping today and tell you that I ventured out of Munich last Friday to visit the nearby Alps! I got the thrilling news my family will be coming at different times in October to visit and so I decided I had better do some reconnaissance beforehand so that I could show them some great sights.

I had been tracking the weather all week on the web and felt quite proud of this uncommon prudence (Ha!) on my part. It was a cloudless morning when I left Munich so I brought no rain gear, just a warm jacket, hat, scarf, camera, and the pig (of course!). I took a 90 minute train out of the city, through the rolling green pasturelands of rural Bavaria, through wooded stretches, over milky green rivers, and past little towns where there’s always at least one magnificent and pointy church steeple sticking above all the brilliantly white-painted houses with thier red roofs.

Just as the train was pulling into my destination town of Garmisch Partenkirchen (sight of the 1936 Winter Olympics) it began to sprinkle: rain! My intention had been to travel to the summit of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak that, according to my Daytrips Germany guide, “offers a fantastic panoramic view extending across four nations. At one time, only mountain climbers could enjoy this spectacle, but today an ingenious network of cable cars and a rack railway make the ascent fast, easy and safe.” My trip would include “a ride on the Zugspitze Banhof, a small rack railway that would take me past Eibsee, a lovely lake near the foot of the mountain reached in about 40 minutes, and then would plunge into a long tunnel, winding its way like a corkscrew up through the middle of the Zugspitze to reach Germany’s highest skiing area at 9, 340 feet above sea level half an hour later.” Then, I would take “the Gletscherbahn glacier cable car for a quick few minute ride up to the summit, Zugspitzgipfel at almost 10, 000 feet where I could stroll out to a sunny terrace and survey the world below, have a snack, and/or cross the border to Austrian soil and have another snack…and then return back on the Eisbee cable car for the thrilling ten-minute descent directly to the Eisbee lake and then back on the rack railway again to Garmisch Partenkirchen…”

Well, when I got to the ticket booth to buy this round-trip excursion pass, I took a look at the live web-cam showing views of the top of the mountain: it looked like it was snowing on the moon! I was definitely not prepared for that kind of weather and knew I would be disappointed to have little visibility along the way and at the top.

So instead, I opted for going up a closer mountain and still got to ride the rack railway and take a gondola up to a restaurant at 6, 725 feet. I ate a traditional Bavarian lunch of goulash and spätzle (short doughy pieces eaten as noodles) on a sunny deck surrounded by the snow-laced Alps all around, complete with Bavarian music cranked over the stereo speakers. From there I caught another gondola to another lodge (these people know how to live!) and then walked for half an hour taking deep breaths of that vital air that can only be found at high altitudes, snapping tons of pictures of the surrounding peaks (und mein klein schwein–snort! snort!) and the autumnal trees with their leaves just beginning to turn yellow and persimmon-colored. There were wonderful benches placed along the ledges, every one of them occupied by other “day-trippers”. I was thrilled to see that the majority looked to be 20-40 (!) years older than I out walking the paths in their hiking boots and armed with their walking sticks. Truly inspiring! I caught my last gondola (sadly) down the mountain, took the rack railway back to town and the regular train to Munich. What a day! As you can imagine, I’m still reeling from the mountains’ eloquent grandeur.

And, I still hope to get to the top of the Zugspitze with one of the daring family groupings that are coming next month; not to mention, the 12th century abbey where the monks still brew what’s said to be the best beer in Germany! (If Germany arguably makes the best beer of any country in the world and this sanctified place makes the best beer in Germany, then wouldn’t it follow that theirs must be the best beer in the world?! I feel a bit obliged to do reconnaissance on that one, too!)

¡Basta ya! As is said, not in German but Spanish, when “enough’s enough”. I’m going to blame this long rambling on my friend Dane who wrote and encouraged me to write blog entries: “the longer and more detailed, the better, and more entertaining, and crucial to keeping all your reader’s existential separation anxiety issues abated.” I don’t know if this approximates what he had in mind when he wrote “more entertaining” and I certainly hope you’re not afflicted with too much “existential separation anxiety issues”; but rather, I hope this week’s dispatch finds you healthy, even frequently frolicksome, and able to eek out some well-deserved rest now and then!

Alles ist Gut
Alles Liebe,

PS: I’ll try and get my brother to load a couple of Alps photos here. Stay tuned.