Archive for July, 2007

Oscar, Cat with the Purr of Death…

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

Oscar, cat with the purr of death

Inspection round … Oscar patrols the dementia unit of a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island.
Photo: AP
Colin Nickerson in Providence, Rhode Island
July 27, 2007

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OSCAR the cat makes his grand entrances just as life is about to leave.
A hop onto the bed, a fastidious lick of the paws, then a snuggle beside a nursing home patient with little time left. Oscar’s purr, when keeping close company with the dying, is so intense it is almost a low rumble.
“He’s a cat with an uncanny instinct for death,” said David Dosa, assistant professor at the Brown University School of Medicine and a geriatric specialist. “He attends deaths. He’s pretty insistent on it.”
In the two years since Oscar was adopted into the dementia unit of the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence he has maintained close vigil over the deaths of more than 25 patients, nursing staff and doctors say.
Dr Dosa had an essay on Oscar published yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Like any feline, Oscar gives a hefty portion of his day to sleep. He likes to doze on stacks of patient reports. Or on the desk at the nurses’ station. Or in the linen closet.
When awake, however, the mixed-breed cat shows a solemn dedication to duty, making regular “inspection” rounds of the unit, sauntering in and out of patient rooms – as if checking on the condition of the occupants.
When death is near, Oscar nearly always appears at the last hour or so. Yet he shows no special interest in patients who are simply in poor shape, or even patients who may be dying but who still have a few days. Authorities in animal behaviour have no explanation for Oscar’s ability to sense imminent death. They theorise that he might detect some subtle change in metabolism – felines are as acutely sensitive to smells as dogs – but are stumped as to why he would show interest.
In any event, when Oscar settles on a patient’s bed, caregivers take it as a sign that family members should be summoned immediately.
“We’ve come to recognise him hopping on the bed as one indicator the end is very near,” said Mary Miranda, charge nurse on the surprisingly cheery floor that is home to 41 patients in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, a stroke, and other mentally debilitating diseases. “Oscar’s been consistently right.”
Keeping pets has been a trend in nursing home care for several years. The Steere Centre, founded in 1874, has 120 residents, plus six cats, a slew of parakeets and a floppy-eared rabbit. Oscar’s sole domain, however, is the locked dementia ward. He came to the unit as a kitten in July 2005, brought by a staff member to replace the floor’s previous resident feline, Henry, who had died some months earlier. Click Here to see rest of story. Has anyone ever heard of anything like this.  It has piqued my curiosity.

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Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

While we were vacationing in Yosemite in June, Mike, Jeremy and our good friend Cliff drove to Mammoth Lakes for the day. I had opted to stay in the valley and do some sightseeing. While they were visiting there, Mike took Jeremy and Cliff to where we had seen an Earthquake Fault last year, about a mile downhill from Mammoth Mountain ski area’s main lodge. Although the sign indicated that this was a fault, I learned that this crack in the ground is one of many fractures covering the north side of Mammoth Mountain, but it is not actually a true fault, which is more accurately defined as a rift where rock on one side moved in a different direction from rock on the other side. Instead, the ground at the Earthquake Fault appears to have simply opened, and the two sides would fit perfectly if pushed back together. However, the crack is aligned with true faults to the north, suggesting the same underground forces caused it to open. At places, the crack is more than 20 feet deep. Last year when Mike and I first saw the fault and even ventured a short way inside, it gave me an eerie feeling to know that I was standing in a rift in the earth caused by geologic forces.As I was pondering this, my mind began to remember another rift or chasm in my life. This is a rift that all of us face, and it separates us from fellowship with our mighty God and Creator. It is a rift of our own making because of our sinfulness and self will. The Bible describes it like this: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This chasm left me empty, and trying to find things in this life to fill that void inside. But nothing satisfied. It wasn’t until I came to God and repented of my transgressions that I found the bridge that crossed the chasm to Him. And that bridge was the Cross of Calvary. He filled me with His Holy Spirit, and a wonderful new life of forgiveness and joy was opened up to me! That was over 28 years ago, and I still marvel at what Jesus did for me and for you! I thank God for the cross that bridged that Great Divide! Below are the lyrics to a song that so beautifully what Jesus did for us. It’s available for whosoever will.
Words and Music by Grant Cunningham & Matt Huesmann

Silence Trying to fathom the distance

Looking out ‘cross the canyon carved By my hands

God is gracious Sin would still separate us

Were it not for the bridge His grace Has made us

His love will carry me

(Chorus) There’s a bridge to cross the great divide A way was made to reach the other side The mercy of the Father, cost His son His life His love is deep, His love is wide There’s a cross to bridge the great divide

God is faithful On my own I’m unable

He found me hopeless, alone and Sent a Savior

He’s provided a path and promised to guide us

Safely past all the sin that would divide us

His love delivers me

(Repeat Chorus) The cross that cost my Lord His life Has given me mine There’s a bridge to cross the great divide There’s a cross to bridge the great divide

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A Most Embarrassing Moment

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had the privilege of attending David and Melissa’s wedding Saturday afternoon. The reception was held at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. I was standing in line waiting to enter the room where the reception was to be held. My son Jeremy was in front of me. I happened to gaze down at his dark pants, and I noticed a white powder-like substance just underneath his back pocket where his wallet was. My motherly instinct kicked in, and I began to brush off the stain with my hand. All of a sudden, I heard a male voice exclaim, “Hey, what are you doing!!!” I looked up, and to my awful dismay realized that it was not Jeremy’s pants that I was trying to brush off. There was a young man standing right next to Jeremy, and he had on the same colored pants as my son!!! Talk about embarrassing. “Oh I’m so, so sorry”, I stammered. “I thought you were my son Jeremy”, I lamely replied as I pointed to Jeremy standing next to this young man. He shrugged it off, but I felt so embarrassed and stupid. Moral of the story, always be aware of ALL your surroundings, not just part of them. It could save you from a most embarrassing moment!  I’ve had many embarrassing moments.  It seems to come naturally for me.  I wonder if any of my reading audience would care to share any of theirs, or comment on mine.

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David & Melissa reciting their vows before Pastor

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

Today we attended the wedding ceremony of David and Melissa who attend our church at Promise Land Worship Center. It was a beautiful wedding, and Pastor recited the Ten Commandments of Marriage, which paralleled the Ten Commandments in the Bible. I was impressed with this reading and thought I would share it with you below:

The Ten Commitments (Commandments) for Marriage
—adapted from D. James Kennedy
“Thou shalt have no other human being before your husband or your wife.”
No other human being should come before your mate – no one, neither father nor mother, son nor daughter, brother nor sister, friend nor acquaintance.
“Thou shalt put no thing before your husband or wife.”
You should put no thing between each other. No house should ever come before your spouse. Whether house, car, pleasure, money, or fame – nothing.”
“Thou shalt not belittle, criticize or faultfind, but rather encourage your spouse in all ways.”
Since God’s Word teaches us to make no idols, it follows that we are to honor each other’s name. Honor each other and seek to put each other first above any other person on earth.
“Thou shalt remember her/his day, to keep it special.”
Set time aside for the two of you so you may not grow apart but even closer. Your spouse and your children are worthy of your time and your undivided attention.
“Thou shalt give honor not only to your father and mother, but to those who become your father-in-law and mother-in-law.”
As you two become one, you marry into another family. Wise is the husband or wife who does not take it upon himself or herslef to find fault with those who are related to their spouse.
“Thou shalt not destroy the spirit within your spouse.”
Husbands, do not destroy your bride’s dreams and hopes for the future which she now places in your hands. Most of man’s earthly happiness depends upon his wife. Most assuredly God will bless a man in this life, yet John Wesley discovered that, regardless of a noble cause, a woman can make a man most miserable. Wife, covenant that you will not be such a person. Both of you must honor and build up the personhood of the other.
“Thou shalt give your passions only to each other, not to another.”
You should not give away your passions to another in word, in thought, or in deed. This person beside whom you stand on your wedding day is to be your lover as well as your helpmate and your best friend.
“Husband, steal not from your wife that which is her privilege to give. Wife, receive what he gives to you with gratitude”.
The spirit of gratitude can greatly can greatly bless a home. If your minds are filled with thoughts of gratitude, and if you look on that which you do have and not that which you do not have, you will be blessed.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness to each other.”
Be honest with each other. Dishonesty and an unwillingness to talk through differences build a silent wall which is not easily dismantled. The real self, then, refuses to be disclosed, and a couple may gradually begin to drift apart.
“Thou shalt not seek greener pastures, whether they be those things physical or material.” Do no engage in selfish fantasies. Be content with the one whom God has given to you, and God will bless your lives together.

I must mention that our Pastor added an eleventh commandment to this list, and that is that it’s better to be happy than right. This goes right along with the saying that my husband is always quoting regarding marriage; which is: “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy”? “Happy life, happy wife”. I think there may be some truth to this.

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Our Cabin in Yosemite National Park

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

Another Temblor

This morning we were awakened by the phone ringing around 5:00 am from one of Mike’s co-workers at the switch in Oakland. There had been an earthquake, and he was calling to tell Mike about it and to reassure him that everyone there was safe and all the expensive cell-site equipment was still intact. The network was still running.

This brought back to my memory another temblor that Mike and I recently experienced while vacationing in Yosemite National Park. It was June 11, 2007. We had just settled down in our rustic cabin at Camp Curry for a long summer’s nap. I had just dropped into blissful slumber when I was rudely awakened by a rustling noise. I realized then that we had a visitor in our cabin. “Mike”, I stammered. “I think there’s a mouse in our cabin.” Mike stirred from slumber and told me to be quiet for a minute so he could listen. Sure enough, we both heard the rustle. Mike turned on our light and we began looking. There underneath the nightstand, where my purse was sitting, was a wee little grey mouse, and he was terrified. Mike chased him, and eventually he ended up going under the door into the room where the hot water heater was. Mike placed a towel under the door, and we both settled back down to try and get some shut-eye after all that excitement.

No sooner had I dozed when somewhere in my subconscious, I heard my hubby speaking. “Karen, I just felt an earthquake.” Well those words jolted me from my reverie pretty quickly. No sooner did he tell me about what he felt when we both heard a low rumble that seemed to grow louder with reverberation until it seemed like the noise was right under us. Then the whole cabin shook. “JESUS”! I yelled out without even realizing it. Then the shaking stopped. Because we were only about 200 feet from the base of a very high cliff, Mike and I quickly dressed and got out of our cabin for fear of a rock slide. It was 12:20am. We went to the registration desk which is open all day and night. The desk clerk had gone on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website and learned that there had been two earthquakes near the Mammoth Mountain ski resort, which was about an hour southeast of Yosemite; the bigger one registering at 4.9.

We eventually went back to our cabin and tossed and turned the rest of the night; our ears attuned to any strange noise that might signal the onset of another quake or aftershock. Thankfully, there were none that night nor the rest of our stay in Yosemite. These earthquakes reminded me of a scripture in the bible that says:
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27 NIV)
Someday everything that can be shaken will be shaken. But when the dust has all settled if nothing else stands, I want my faith in God and his Word to still be standing. For that’s the only thing that will truly last.

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In the mid 1970’s, Ed Roberts created the world’s first commercially successful personal computer (PC).  He hired a nineteen-year-old named Bill Gates to write software for him.  Roberts sold his computer business in 1977 and bought a farm.  Seven year later, at the age of 41, he entered medical school.  Today Bill Gates is the head of the largest software company in the world.  Ed Roberts is a physician in a small Georgia town.  Roberts says, “The application is that the PC is the most important thing I’ve ever done, and I don’t think that’s true.  Every day I deal with things that are equally if not more important here with my patients.”


How can we evaluate the significance of our lives?  Something deep inside tells us it cannot be measured by wealth and fame.  The apostle Paul approached the end of his life with a peaceful sense of successful completion.  He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7) —D.C.M.  From Our Daily Bread.


The measure of life is determined by the ruler of the  universe.

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[rockyou id=75773487&w=426&h=319]

Earlier today I learned that my dear stepmother, Laura Contino had passed away unexpectedly last night. She had been in the hospital with health problems, but it had appeared that she was going to recover. However, it was not to be. I am deeply saddened by her (what I feel to be) early demise. Laura was only 63.

I first met Laura in 1984. She had been married to my Dad at that time for almost 2 years, but due to the long distance between our homes (ours in CA and theirs in IL), as well as finances, we had not made it back to the Midwest to meet Dad’s new wife. We had flown into Chicago on a red-eye flight and did not get into O’Hare Airport until around 6:00am that day. Jeremy our son was two at the time, and the flight disagreed with his toddler tummy. Dad was waiting there for us at the terminal, and the first time he got to meet his new grandson, Jeremy threw up all over his poor, unsuspecting grandpa! Dad was so gracious about it though. After cleaning each of them up, we headed over to Dad and Laura’s home in the suburbs. Upon arriving there, Laura was waiting for us and welcomed us all with open arms and a kitchen full of a large variety of delectable pastries and goodies for breakfast. She must’ve gotten up very early to prepare all that she did for us. Immediately I felt right at home with Laura

Every time thereafter whenever we would visit Dad and Laura, she always was there to greet us with a hug, a kiss and a big smile. She was always so glad to see any of Dad’s six children. If they were Dad’s kids, they were her kids too. Laura loved to cook, and it seemed she was always putting out a big spread for us whenever we came by. She was that way with all of us Contino siblings. Some of the dishes we best remember her for are: her awesome stuffed shells, her antipasto salad and her delicious ribs. Everything she cooked was yummy. Laura loved playing games with all of us. Some of the favorites were Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzee, Rummikub and Kings-in-a-Corner, to name a few. Laura loved to laugh, and she had one of those hearty, gut-wrenching laughs. Just hearing her laughter made me break into a guffaw.

Laura not only spoiled us, but she spoiled all the pets she and Dad had. One pet especially that I remember was May-Ling, a buff-colored Japanese Spaniel. Every day Laura would feed May-Ling steak and chicken. She refused dog food after that, and I can’t blame her. May-Ling was a pampered pet before the term ever came into existence, thanks to her loving owner, Laura.

Laura was always thinking of others. I remember the last time we saw her was Christmas Eve 1995. Even though I’m sure she couldn’t afford it, she had brought all of us kids presents and even had one for our Mom, whom she just loved. Whenever I would write or e-mail Laura, I always began my missives with “Dear Lovely Laura”. Laura was lovely both inside and outside.

This past Mother’s Day, my brother Tommy and I called Laura to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. She was not home, so we left her a voicemail in which we sang to her. Later that evening, I received a beautiful e-mail from Laura saying that she had received our voicemail message and song and that it still had her crying. Laura also said that she had such a great love for all of Dad’s kids and would forever hold us in her heart. She was so choked up that she said she would not be able to talk to us if we called her back. I was touched by her e-mail, and in retrospect, I wonder if perhaps she sensed that she would not be around much longer. She had told us about her heart problems and asked that we pray for her. Although we will miss her sorely, we will always cherish and hold Laura Contino near to our hearts and all the fond memories we shared with her.

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Karen at Devils Postpile

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

For the past two years, Mike and I have wanted to go visit The Devil’s Postpile in Mammoth Lakes. But due to there still being snow in the higher elevations in June, we were not able to do so until this year. And what a trip it was! What is the Devil’s Postpile?

Geologists say that fewer than 100,000 years ago, basalt lava erupted two miles upstream from today’s postpile. The lava flowed into the valley and pooled to a depth of 400 feet. The mass of molten lava then began to cool uniformly from top to bottom.

As it cooled and contracted, stresses built up in the basalt rock causing it to fracture. Each crack branched when it reached a length of about 10 inches, joining other cracks to form a pattern on the surface of the flow. Under ideal conditions, surface cracks deepened to create the vertical, hexagonal columns you see today.

Some 10,000 years ago a glacier flowed down the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River and overrode the Postpile formation. The moving ice quarried away one side of the postpile, exposing a sheer wall of columns 60 feet high. Evidence of the glacier – the polishing and scratches of glacial ice – remains atop the postpile.

Before arriving in Mammoth Lakes, we learned that you have to take a shuttle bus down to the trail head on a one-lane, precarious, narrow mountain road. The scenery going down was beautiful, but always in the back of my mind was the fact that there was a 3,000 foot drop-off just inches away. Whew! Was I happy when we made it to the bottom. The hike to the Postpile was only about a half a mile or so and quite pleasant with a meandering river and the sound of Rainbow Falls cascading in the background. When we reached Devil’s Postpile, it was every bit as ominous and fantastic as the photos I had seen. I looked in awe at the hundreds of postpiles lined up like a fence, and many others fallen down near my feet. Mike & I decided we were not going to let the Devil get the better of us. We hiked up and over the postpile victorious in our conquest! It made me think of the scripture in Romans 16:20 that says, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Mike and I just got a little headstart!


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