"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Friday, March 25, 2011

"The Chiasmus Cipher" prologue


Late Afternoon, Spring, 1778
Bagootsoo Mesa
Nation of the Paiute
Territory of Spain

       Ne-Zhoni sat atop Bison Mesa drinking in the fresh spring grass swaying across the valley 375 feet below the towering pillar of stone.
       “Finally, the treasure is hidden…the duty done.”
       Her gaze then settled on the baby nestled in her lap.  She put him to her shoulder, patted his broad back and secured the front of the leather wrap over her creamy skin.  A lone hawk circled in the warm updraft and squawked in surprise at the intruder invading his realm.
       “The many years of hiding secrets from the man I love are behind me, and my heavy heart can lie still.”
       The cavern had been cool for most of the work, but now after the steep climb to the mouth of the hidden shaft, she was hot and the red dirt dusted her hair and filled her ears. She finished the task by cleverly arranging rocks, planting cactus and sifting fine dirt into the seams to conceal the heavy capstone she pushed over the opening.
       When the plump baby in her arms gazed up with the same unusual green eyes that matched her own, she thought upon the purpose of her secret.  
       “Que nin͂o, all is in place to follow the guide I’ve preserved for them.  Only you and I know of this legacy left to those who come after us, for I shall never see this land again nor will you.” 
       For ten springs, NeZhoni put on the Paiute ceremonial robe and told her father that she needed to come to Bison Mesa for meditation.  There had been a firm agreement when she left her father’s hearth to go with the stranger.  The man promised to bring her back to their valley whenever his travels brought him near, and he kept his pledge.  “This will be the last time I will  see my childhood home.”
       When the strangely dressed traveling men came to winter camp she was afraid, but the tribal council had long before learned they could fight the men with shining hats, lose many braves. end up with nothing—or they could barter, trade and gain new tools and weapons for their people. 
       On that day long ago, as she peeked out from behind her father she was noticed by one of the men. He longingly admired her fair skin, and emerald eyes.  Several weeks later as the caravan of horses and wagons prepared to leave, the bargain was made. 
       “NeZhoni, you will go with these men as payment for the mustangs of wind we will gain for the hunt. One man has promised to care for you, serve him well and he will return to us that you may see your family.”
       There was no choice.  NeZhoni knew she had to go.  She walked slowly over to the man called Diego and stood behind him. He from that day had treated her well, and after a while, made her his woman.  He was kind, taught her his language and his ways of worship, also to read and to write, and in return, she taught him the medicine of plants and bore him many sons.  During their travels she saw lands—amazing and precious things that she had never seen before. 
      As she went quietly about her duties,  the men of the quest ignored her as if she were the air and gradually, not realizing she had learned their language, NeZhoni discovered the secret of Conquistador gold.  She only took and hid away a few coins to cut into trinkets for her hair adornments at first, but soon after began to take larger amounts and hid it among her belongings.  There was so much.  No one ever missed what she took.
       As the days and weeks became years  she forgot many of the ways of her people, so, making the trips of renewal to her home land became important, for many a purpose. Along with women’s learning and ceremony,  each year as she returned, she deposited the growing golden load in the hiding place she discovered.  Always silent to Diego and others, telling no one of her theft—ever firm in resolution yet never knowing why she felt so compelled to carry out such a deception.  Today was the last of her trickery, and she was glad she no longer had to fear discovery.
       Gently she placed her fifth son on the carrying board and wrapped the soft straps around the bundle to secure him.  His eyes were closing as she put the sun cover above his head and lifted him upon her back.  Shielding her eyes from the brightness, she took one last look at the mountains across the valley to ensure she had all the proper signs precisely written on the underside of her gown. 
       She began her way down the treacherous rock face.  Anxious to further wash the dirt and stench of death from her hands, she hurried to the basin floor.  NeZhoni had used the cleaning sopa root after her labors, but she liked the sweet smelling bars Diego bought for her during their travels.  The setting sun had turned the hills blood red and the sky violet by the time she reached the encampment.
       Her man was patiently waiting with their sons at spring camp on the prairie meadow.
       “Here, hold our son and I will say a leave-taking to my father”
       She gave him his sleeping small one, and gestured she was going to the structure across the clearing.  Her father, Chief Toohoo-Bagootsoo, was in the wiki-up cross-legged on the dirt floor.  He was much thinner than she remembered and no longer resembled his namesake of the broad chested black bison.  His breath came with a difficult rattling sound.  He was suffering from the slow death of the bloody tooth cough.
       In the corner of the enclosure, she changed back into the woven cloth dress and bonnet that made her look like the other women traveling in the wagon train.  She laid out her ceremonial gown across the stone used to grind grain, took out a knife, and carefully cut around the part of the soft leather where she had written the guide.
       On the day of her vision, six years ago in the women’s sweathouse, she had eaten the ‘Flesh of the Gods’ mushroom, and asked the spirits to help her suffering people.  In her waking dream, she saw a future where people traveled in metal boxes, and black roads were made tall on stilts.  Homes were shut from the sky and everyone sat before  boxes of flickering lights and a spider spun it’s web across the land. 
       “Do this,” she heard the ghost voice say, “Or, your people will fade to nothing from illness and greed.  You can save them from this suffering with a great gift from the
past—your gift.” 
       She saw the way to prepare a guide and asked faithful ones to assist in following the plan she was given.  None of them could understand the reasons for the peculiar work, but trusted in the spirits to ensure the hidden treasure would be found at the right time.  They were saving their hope-dream for children unborn.
       Now the task was finished.  And only she and her infant son knew the final secrets.  She twisted the hide into a roll, positioned it within a Bagootsoo horn and gave it to her father.
       “Honored father, I have done as the spirits wish.”  She placed the carved type and a tattered book in his hands 
       “These things will show the way to the gift for those who seek.  But who so ever attempts the quest must do so with a pure heart and give warning to follow only when the time is right and the sign is true or tragedy will be at journeys’ end.  And Father, have not sorrow in your heart, for my life of exile has become a blessing to our people, and to me.”
       She reached out to touch her father’s hand and stroke his sunken cheek.  They both knew their next meeting would be in the clouds.  The parting was heavy and silent.
       Overhead was a sliver of moon and so few stars she could barely see the children in the wagon entwined in the rhythmic unity of sleep.  Roberto saw her coming, rose quickly from the ground where he sat, and with one motion was in the wagon seat with the reins in his hands.  NeZhoni lithely climbed up the wheel and slid across the smooth board to be at his side.  She felt the warmth of him and looked up at the wide shoulders and strong profile of the man she had learned to love dearly.  He urged on the horses and the wagon pulled free of the muddy ruts with a jolt.  They had many miles of travel to join the others for their journey across the rolling waters.  NeZhoni did not look back.  There was no need—her world was with her in the wagon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gypsy out the window...

Through the years I've seen all kinds of people, I've been scratched, bitten, yelled at, (learning new and colorful words) some from patients, some from doctors...but remember I used to have to kneel...yes! hit the floor when anyone with a dark coat entered the elevator....(I trained at a Catholic hospital in the 60's).  If a priest entered the elevator with the sacrament...we had to kneel...talk about how things have changed.  I bet now if that happens the clergy barely gets a nod...but I, at the tender age of 16, in my pink student uniform dress, white hose, duty shoes, and nurses' hat kneeled in the elevator most mornings.  I think I was the youngest one in the class due to the fact that when we moved from Sun Valley to Van Nuys my dad took me to register for school and didn't know how old I was and since I was tall and skinny, ended up almost two years ahead of where I was supposed to be....When they finally got my records, and discovered the error...they only put me back one half a year so I could stay in my same classroom with the same group of kids.

Several years after I graduated from nursing school (the first ever graduating class of a two year nursing program at L.A. Valley College), I was working a few nights a week at Riverside Hospital. (Years later that hospital closed and was sold to a film studio where they now film "Scrubs", and other hospital related scenes...it gives me the creeps and a flash-back from time to time to see my old work place on the screen). Back to my gypsies...It seems that they loved Riverside hospital, they must have had a piece of land somewhere nearby to camp on because I know they love the outside...how do I know?...Well late one night, (remember I worked the night shift), I got a big surprise!

All was quiet, about 3:30 am and I was sitting in front of the monitors when all the warning lights for one room went off.  The buzzing alarms were for the room around the corner...the only room we couldn't see from the desk....where we put the gomers, or the LOLROG...(little old ladies run out of gas) who were listed NO CODE...the ones we were, ummm...to not do much for, certainly not CPR if life forces stopped and they left for heaven.  Again we had a Gypsy in that room.  A nice old guy....but I remember he was very dirty and it took several baths to get him clean....He didn't speak much and when he did it was in a language I couldn't understand.  Most of the time there was another man in the room with him and when I ran around the corner to see what had happened...I found four men in the room pushing him out the window head first!  (They must have snuck in the back door as the rule was, "only one visitor at a time")

Strange he was out the window because there was not a real window in the room, you know the kind that slides and opens all the way up...this window was a transom affair, one that opened with a hook, tipped forward and was about 3 feet wide and only 18 inches high.  It was above the head of the bed, above all the monitors and the oxygen lines...not a window I had ever seen open.

As I yelled and screamed at the men in the room who I thought were pushing my patient to his death from a second story window...my staff came running...three very large young men, Vietnam vets who had been medics and were now Rn's.  I loved these guys for lots of reasons, but mostly because they could handle any very large patient with ease, and also crazy or intrusive visitors.

By the time my guys arrived...the four gypsy men were gently lowering the old gentleman back to the bed...he was dead!  Later I discovered they had determined he was going to die, as his EKG showed slowing, and his breathing was irregular, and just as his breathing stopped they ripped off all the monitors and IV lines so they could get him out the window and his soul would not be trapped in a building....one of the men told me they have a hole in the top of their tents, or caravan trailers to release a soul so it wasn't trapped if a person should die in the night and not be out in the air, with an unobstructed way up to the sky....

It's amazing what you learn about other people and what they believe...But! .is that any different or more weird than making a 16 year old hit the floor when a priest enters the elevator?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No snow, Christmas up in smoke...twice! Blame the weather

It's a beautiful day today, blue sky, white fluffy clouds, and the newscaster said it would rain...I guess if your a weather person it doesn't matter what you say!  It was supposed to rain and snow last week...I didn't do that either...It hasn't snowed for 20 years and It's never snowed around Christmas.  I guess that's why I always tried to create a perfect holiday since we don't even have the cold weather to add to the spirit.  I can blame almost burning the house down twice to the great California weather.

One year in my quest for the perfect Christmas I exploded the Christmas tree...innocently of course.  That year to save money we cut our own tree and it was quite lopsided...we put it in a corner to disguise the misshapen limbs, but after the children and I had it all decorated,  (Patrick was at a church meeting and we were going to surprise him when he got home with our beautiful decorated tree.)  I decided to straighten out the crooked limbs by snipping some of the parts that stuck out with the garden sheers....(BAD decision)

Well you guessed it...I snipped through the strings of lights and when the live wires came in contact with the metal sheers all the strings of lights and half the ornaments exploded in one horrific POP SIZZLE.   Now the kids were delighted...never had they seen such a grand display of fireworks...and right inside the house...I had to open all the back windows to get the smoke and electric smell out and quickly loaded the kids in the car, Pajamas and all...and we drove to the Do It Center and bought new lights and several boxes of ornaments.   We had the tree all re-decorated by the time Pat got home and he never knew the difference...until the kids told him about the light show!

A few years after that I almost set the house on fire.   I was once again naive enough to try and come up with the perfect Rockwell moment (since we don't have snow).  I don't try that anymore, but at the time I still thought I could make it happen.  Anyway, it was around five in the morning, dark and cold....unusual for December, I wanted the family to come down the stairs to see a beautiful lit tree surrounded by gifts...a fire in the fireplace with hot chocolate and warm sweet rolls set out. 

Now, remember it's rarely cold enough to light a fire so we have not had many fires in the fireplace, and even then they were started by Patrick or Michael with their Eagle Scout skills put into play...But I... in my exuberance thought I had seen them do it enough to get the yule log going myself...not so...I had the flue shut!  Oh I got the paper and twigs under the log blazing away, but the smoke rolled out into the living room like a thick black blanket..realizing my mistake I tried to reach in and push the handle the other way, but by now the flames were not only going...they were licking up and out of the fireplace setting the garland and some of the other decorations on the mantle, on fire. 

The fire alarm went off (which usually means dinner is ready, as my cooking skills are a bit lacking) and big Pat came bounding down the stairs.  He and son Michael threw water at the fire and had it out in seconds. but the black smoke had laid a thick layer of soot up the front of the fireplace and across the ceiling.  All the decorations near by had melted into green and red blobs.  What a mess.  I was so mad at myself and could only think of having to clean up along with getting the turkey dinner on the table for the 26 people we were expecting to arrive in about 4 hours.

Without even stopping to scold myself I pulled it together and went to work with cleaner and got the soot removed immediately.  I moved around some of my decorations and filled in the empty places where things had gone up in smoke.  The only thing left was the smokey smell and I got rid of that by opening all the windows and doors (learned from experience) and lighting some candles.  By the time Patrick came back down the stairs with a camera to record my fiasco...HA! the mess was gone!  And thank goodness there was no record of my mistake to show our guests or tease me with....

Since then I 've been cured of trying to have our holiday resemble anything close to what you see in any of the classic Christmas films...and as my decorations get faded or broken I force myself not to replace them.  So each year the boxes I drag out of the loft gets smaller in number and next year I'm going to order a cooked turkey from the grocery store.  Heck, the weather's great and I've got better things to do!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gypsies in the waiting room!, Who stole dinner?

We had the Gypsy King in our ICU unit for several weeks and his family "LIVED" in the waiting room.  It became a challenge to keep the candles brought in by his "family" away from the oxygen lines.  He listed approximately 30 close relatives.

I was working the night shift and in this hospital the cafeteria closed after 8pm.  So, the nursing supervisor would get out some left overs and heat a large pot of soup or stew for the night staff and one person from each unit would go down, get a tray and load it with bowls of steaming soup and crackers for all who were working that night.  It was set out usually around 2 or 3 AM and was something we all looked forward to as a break in the monotonous long night shift.

For several days when I went down to get food for my staff I found the table picked clean.  It didn't take long to figure out who was hogging all the food.  The gypsy family was seen with pockets full and munching on crackers and soup while the nursing staff went hungry.  Their philosophy, "what's yours is mine, what's mine is mine" seemed to rule the day.

To solve the problem a code was devised and changed each day.  The time the food was set out also changed.  We picked up the code word from staffing office and when the overhead rang out with...Dr. Chow to surgery...Dr. Burger needed stat in ER....or, Dr. Stewman report to x-ray, we would then sprint to beat the "family" to the cafeteria who lingered near the door all night.  And finally the door had to be locked and the supervisor guarded the entrance so the staff would have something to eat!