Saturday, February 28, 2015

Africa Mercy - Up to Speed at Last: One Nurse's Journey

Surgeries are finally up to speed for the Africa Mercy team in Madagascar, which is good news for Marilyn as she nears the end of her service there. She shares stories and photos, including one tumor surgery miracle. A sixteen pound tumor was removed. -----Sharon 

(This is a running email post written by a volunteer nurse serving on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels the African coast).

"Up to Speed at Last"
27 February 2015

Can you imagine what life would be like with a 16 pound tumor hanging off your jaw? A benign tumor is only benign if you are able to get medical attention in a timely manner. Years ago, it

Sambany before surgery
would have been a simple procedure to remove it. After decades of inexorable growth, this tumor presented quite a challenge.

Blood donors for Sambany

Surgery was risky, but Sambany said, “I know without surgery I will die. I know I might die in surgery, but I already feel dead inside from the way I'm treated. I choose to have surgery.” Twelve hours of surgery and 14 units of blood later, he was
Sambany after surgery
indeed a free man.
I've included before and after photos...and a picture of our local "blood bank." (Yes, we do invest our blood, sweat, and tears into our work around here...) Cataract surgeries are happening, too. Some days are crazy busy, with more bumps in the road than usual. Last Monday was such a day. It was exhausting, but it all became worthwhile the next day when the patches came off. We got some terrific results, and had some very happy patients. 

The rest of the week seemed more "normal"--most of the surgeries were quick andfree of complications. By Wednesday, I was saying, "Now I remember what it is supposed to feel like around here!" We were on a roll. The good news is, our surgery schedule has filled up. We have patients, finally. The bad news is, we only have two more weeks of surgeons coming to do surgery. Just as we begin to find our rhythm, it is time to wind it down and dismantle the program. The good news, though, is, it looks like we will be able to do surgery on all the patients that we have found in all the screenings we have done, and even to do the second eye for most of the patients who would benefit from that. We will reach the bottom of the barrel just about the same time as we run out of time. How often does that happen?  

This week's star patient is another relatively young man with diabetes. He came to the screening in Tana, but his blood sugar was way too high for surgery. We sent him away. Undeterred, he got his blood sugar under control, and he and his wife took a bus from Tana to come to one of our local screenings. He was profoundly blind and walked hesitantly, even with his wife on one side and me on the other. The day after surgery, he saw his wife again for the first time in a long time. In one of those funny, poignant moments, he smiled and started to shake her hand.

(Fortunately, it did end up in a hug.) He is returning next week for his second eye--I can't wait to see him in action, walking independently up the gangway and down the stairs.
I leave for home in less than four weeks. I am sure going to miss this place! What a blessing it has been for me to be here. --

Marilyn Neville

[Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.]

Friday, February 27, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Daily Pleasures

A long walk down 
by the lake.

A wind-free day 
when fifty-something 
felt like seventy. 

Geese flocking together on the water.

Flying in for the 'honking' convention. 

Killdeer following me as I walk, leading me away from their family. 

Do killdeer really nest this soon? 

Tortilla pizza lunch with friends,
A nurturing talk with my writer bud
Helping another with her new blog. 

My Recipe for Tortilla pizza

1 flour tortilla
Meat topping
1 TB Tomato paste
Vegetable toppings

Spread tomato paste on one tortilla. Sprinkle with oregano and/or other Italian spices. Top with meat (try cooked chicken breast and/or sausage). Add vegetable toppings (I like green & red pepper, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and one green olive, all chopped of course). Sprinkle mozzarella over all.  Place on one lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes. If tortilla isn't crisp, bake longer. It's the crispness that makes this thin crust pizza so delicious. Also, I purchase freshly made tortillas, so try to buy fresh if you can. Enjoy!

  These are the kind of daily pleasures that filled my week. The only thing that sort of went wrong was not entering the Pitch Madness contest on Monday. Since word count was an issue, I spent up to the last minute deleting words in my book, but failed to make the midnight deadline. That EST acronym blew right past me. Yep, that's right, I forgot the Eastern Standard Time zone. But maybe it's just as well. The book was flabby in places, I discovered. ~Sigh~

How was your week? 

Have a nice weekend!

Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting this blog hop!
And co-hosts: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge  
and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Native American Tools & Weapons by Rob Staeger: Book Review

Native American Tools & Weapons
“Native American Life” series
Author: Rob Staeger
Publisher: Mason Crest, 2014
Ages: 10 up, Middle Grade
Pages: 63


Long before American inventors Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison changed how we do things, Native Americans had been inventing tools and weapons from natural resources. These included transportation vehicles, clothing, coverings, containers, rope, needles, and other necessities of life needed to survive. Staeger divides the Native American groups into five regions: the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest and Central and South America.

The locale of each region determined what kind of tools and weapons were made or needed. In the far north, for example, the Nootka required a thirty-foot dugout and long harpoons with pointed tips for dangerous whale hunts. They used wood and bone, and later iron when it became available. In Central and South America the Mayans needed tools to clear and irrigate the land for farming. Stone was commonly used. For protection in battle, the Aztecs wore “thick armor made of quilted cotton soaked in brine.” Readers learn about these weapons of war in interesting detail and colorful illustrations. They also learn about the tanning of hides in the Southwest, the making of birch bark canoes in the Northeast, and other techniques. 

Over time new resources became available and were also adopted for use by Native Americans, such as the horses, rifles, and metals introduced by white explorers. Native Americans proved to be worthy experts at adaptation and innovation. Native American Tools & Weapons is a good general source for young researchers, complete with photos, illustrations, glossary, chronology and index

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne"MY UNCLE MAKES A GREAT DISCOVERY"

"Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures. They were truly so wonderful that even now I am bewildered when I think of them." (Published 1871)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: A Snoozy Post

I crammed in a lot this week, in addition to sitting at the computer and working on my writing, so I feel a bit like Garfield right now. I'm calling this a snoozy post, because I could use a nap. 

Here's a mishmash of things of going on:

  • Attended my first Garden Club meeting. I'm officially an Earth Angel! A guest speaker talked about how to prune roses. Turns out, roses do really well in hot climates. Then I jumped off the deep end and volunteered for a Garden Show today. What was I thinking? But don't get me wrong, I love this stuff. It's my second outlet, next to writing.
  • Flew to Pullman, WA and spent the night with friends; a leisurely dinner out, and flew home the next morning. It was fun visiting our friends and "old stomping grounds."  

View of area where we now live, flying off in hubby's RV8. Land sections are fruit orchards and vineyards (it's wine country here!).


Close up view of Sentinel Gap & the Columbia River

  • Connected with another writer online, who is published with Poisoned Pencil, and decided I really like this publisher. 
  •  Entered Pitch Madness today, just to see if I can make the final cut (no luck last year).
  • Getting ready to do taxes. Ugh. I have done the family's taxes for many years now. The prep work in advance is more time-consuming than the actual forms.
  •  Saw The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Missed it in the theaters. Absolutely loved it! The surprise ending is worth the whole movie, and of course, those two together.....I'll let your imagination fill in the rest :)
  • Started two Grow Boxes outside, with Swiss Chard and Spinach. Planted daffodils in ground. Started seeds in house for lettuce, petunias, and sunflowers 
  • Tomorrow morning, watching a Webinar based in New York, sponsored by Inland Northwest SCBWI. Keynote speeches by authors, Keynote Editor's Panel Marketplace 2015 (Report from the Front Line), and Keynote Agent's Panel (Charting Your Career Path). Should be good. 

Have a Nice Weekend!

Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting this blog hop!
And co-hosts: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge  
and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

    Sharon M. Himsl

    Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
    Published with Evernight Teen: 
    ~~The Shells of Mersing

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    Africa Mercy - Limping Along: One Nurse's Journey

    This is one of Marilyn's parting emails before heading home possibly the end of March. Madagascar was healthier than expected, so it's likely her services will no longer be needed. She reflects on the last two years, and as typical, shares a patient's story. 

    (This is a running email post written by a volunteer nurse serving on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels the African coast).

    13 February

    We have now done three weeks of cataract surgery since Christmas, and we have enough patients lined up for about three more weeks.We have screened for patients in six cities, but we have not found very many patients overall. That's good news for the Malagasy people...cataracts seem not to be the overwhelming problem here in Madagascar that it is in West Africa.

    From a personal viewpoint, however, it has been a disappointing field service. We've worked so very hard to find patients, but we have done relatively few surgeries. Our last screening in Fenereve Est this week was expected to yield about 50 patients--we found 4.

    And so, we will most probably be done with surgeries by early to middle March, long before the ship leaves Madagascar in June.  I will probably go home at the end of March, since my job will be done.

    But, meanwhile, we have restored sight to some people, and those people are very grateful. Their smiles and words of thanks are payment enough for all our work behind the scenes on their behalf.

    I just need to keep my focus on those we have helped, and be     thankful for the opportunity to be here to do as much as we have. My best story for this week is a young man, age 28, who has had diabetes for years and has been blind for two years.  He has a five year old daughter that he hasn't been able to see for nearly half her life.  His prognosis was poor--cataracts induced by diabetes are generally accompanied by other diabetic eye problems. We did the surgery anyway--some improvement is better than none.

    Yesterday, when the bandage was removed, he could see almost perfectly!  Imagine, a young father/husband has been restored to a full, productive life, able to work and provide for his family. Now I remember why we're here!

    I'll probably write once or twice more before I leave, but I'd like to take his opportunity to say thank you to all of you who have followed my adventures in Madagascar and have prayed for these people with me.  If I have one take-home lesson from these two years with Mercy Ships, it is an increased appreciation that God is interested in the details of what we do, and he gets involved in response to prayer. The splashy miracles that occasionally happen are fun, but I am even more impressed with his consistency in managing the little obstacles that we bring to him day after day.

    Last year in Congo, the biggest hurdle to providing surgery seemed to be blood pressures, and we saw God put his finger on them to lower them just below the cutoff point with amazing consistency.

    This year, both blood pressures and blood sugars are stumbling blocks to surgery, and once again, in his quiet, behind-the-scenes, non-dramatic way, God is enabling us to do surgery by controlling those numbers.



    Marilyn Neville

    [Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.]

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    The Classics - Opening Lines: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton"On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York. 
    Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances "above the Forties," of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy."
    (Published 1920) 

    I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

    Friday, February 13, 2015

    Celebrate the Small Things: Music to Inspire - Camille and Kennerly

    There is some beautiful talent out there, for free on the internet, which has opened the door for musicians to advertize and display their work, but I hear it's a tough market. 

    Many  struggle to make a living. I recently heard that Taylor Swift pulled some or all of her music online.....not sure of the exact details there, but it does make me wish I was more into music. I was once. 

    I remember sitting in a listening booth as a young teen in one of Tacoma's (WA) many department stores, listening to albums for hours before purchasing. We did not have the information overload experienced online today. It was a fun, leisurely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and it usually led to a purchase. It's different now.

    Do you purchase new music or listen to the same collections you've always listened to? Or like me, do you mostly rely on the radio, TV....or the internet? I haven't purchased new music in a long time. HAVE YOU? 
    Maybe it's time.

    I thought this piece by Camille and Kennerly was exquisite. It fit my 'gotta slow down' mood for the week. I'm getting over a cold. Hope no one's superstitious.....It's Friday the 13th!

    Have a Nice Weekend! 

    Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting one of the 
    best Blog Hops ever, And co-hosts, too:
     L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge   
    and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

    Sharon M. Himsl

    Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
    Published with Evernight Teen: 
    ~~The Shells of Mersing

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    YALSA Awards for Young Adults: 2014

     Here are some of the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) book awards honoring young adult writers in 2014. Among its different missions, YALSA strives to evaluate material of interest to teens (12-18) and to expand the library's outreach. Additional awards and book summaries can be found at their website. Check it out.


    2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults

    --Berry, Julie. All the Truth That’s in Me. Penguin/Viking Juvenile, 2013.

    --Clark, Kristin Elizabeth. Freakboy. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013.

    --Federle, Tim. Better Nate Than Ever. Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.

    --McNeal, Tom. Far Far Away. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013.

    --Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

    --Sedgwick, Marcus. Midwinterblood. Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

    --Sepetys, Ruta. Out of the Easy. Penguin/Philomel, 2013.

    --Smith, Andrew. Winger. Illustrated by Sam Bosma. Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.

    --Sullivan, Tara. Golden Boy. Penguin/Putnam Juvenile, 2013.

    --Wein, Elizabeth. Rose Under Fire. Disney-Hyperion, 2013.

    Monday, February 9, 2015

    The Classics - Opening Lines: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan"As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back." 
    (First Published 1678)

    I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

    Friday, February 6, 2015

    Celebrate the Small Things: Hard Work and Effort

    I'm celebrating hard work and effort this week. I worked so hard, I actually thought today was Thursday, the reason I'm posting so late. It's good to work hard though at something you love and enjoy. I haven't slept so good at night in months. I'm doing another polish on my completed book, but it is going much faster this time and feels right. 

    Had hoped to start my grow boxes for salad greens, and grow lights for petunias (and whatever other seeds I have left from last year), but there is always this weekend.  

    Made a writer friend (she's written a book!) over coffee one day and talked her into starting a blog :) I'm in a new community so this means a lot to me.

    Do you ever get so busy, 
    you forget what day it is?

    Here are some more thoughts on work:

    "The highest reward for man's toil is not what
    he gets for it but what he becomes by it."
    (John Ruskin)

     "Thank God every morning when you get up
    that you have something to do that day which 
    must be done, whether you like it or not."
    (Charles Kingsley)

    "St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden 
    when someone asked what he would do if he
    were suddenly to learn that he would die before 
    sunset that very day. 'I would finish hoeing my 
    garden,' he replied." (Louis Fischer)

    Have a Nice Weekend! 

    Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting this blog hop!
    And co-hosts: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge  
    and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

    About Me

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    You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.