oberon zell-ravenheart

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dear Friends,

Please accept my apologies for not posting a report sooner, but the last month has been very hectic indeed! Pantheacon right in the middle of Feb. was an enormous undertaking for our whole Family. Not only did we have our usual Mythic Images booth (which we seem to make more-and-more elaborate each year); we also hosted a hospitality suite for the Church of All Worlds, with several events scheduled there. These included a big book release gala and contributor-signing party for my latest book, Green Egg Omelette, on Sunday evening. This was followed by our dear Wynter’s 30th birthday party, at which, upon the stroke of midnight, Morgan, her beloved partner of the past several years, got down on one knee and formally proposed to her! No one had a clue. Morgan’s mother Erif was there as well, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We are all so happy for them both!

We also put together a Grey School panel presentation with a number of faculty members. This was videotaped and can be seen on U-tube at www.youtube.com/duir1177. But the biggest thing for MG and me was the major ritual on Saturday night, which was Valentine’s Day. Kiara videoed it, but she hasn’t put it up yet. Eric Silverbear had made the arrangements and conceived the basic theme: “Phoenix Rising.” And he served as Priest. But actually composing the script for the entire ritual, including all the stage directions, etc., fell pretty much to me. Fortunately, each of the participants wrote most of their own parts, so this wasn’t as hard as it could have been. And we had a number of rehearsals to get it all down.

But then there were all the props, costumes, and special effects, which pretty much fell to me to create. Fortunately, Julie was able to help out with a lot of the sewing, so I didn’t have to do it all. But I did create an amazing Phoenix costume and headpiece, as well as reproducing exactly the entire leafy “hair” of my Millennial Gaia figurine—including the “tree of life” on the back with all the tiny animals—as a full-size wig for Morning Glory, who took the role of Gaia in the ritual. Then there were tabards for the Elemental dancers, and matching altar cloths for the four quarter altars. And an electric “hearth” that could display glowing “coals” and then burst into “flame” under my control. Making all that stuff took weeks, and it was only finished just in time for us to pack and leave at dawn on Friday morning for the 2-hour drive to San Jose. Morning Glory never even went to bed the night before, and I wasn’t at my very best either, as just a few days earlier had been my bi-weekly chemo treatments.

And I am writing this only a few days after my latest treatment, which is really kicking my butt! But this is a week off for me, and I don’t have to go back for more until next Tuesday (March 10). The best news is that I have only 3 more treatments! I’ll be done with this for good after the final treatment on April Fool’s Day!

Each of these treatments, however, gets harder and harder for me to take, as the effects are cumulative. The numbness and temperature sensitivity in my fingers and toes has now become so acute that I have to wear warm wooly gloves to take anything out of the refrigerator, or to drive. Grocery shopping (a task that has fallen almost entirely to me, as the grocery store is next to the Post Office, and I go there nearly every day to send packages and pick up the mail) has become very difficult. I have to really bundle up against the cold in the store, and again, I have to wear thick gloves to handle anything, even veggies.

But the worst part for me is the smells. By now, there is pretty much no lining at all in my nasal passages, and my olfactory nerves are just raw and open. In an attempt to keep the missing lining moist, my mucus glands are working overtime, so I have a constant runny and bloody nose. I’m going through Kleenex by the case! When I go into the grocery store, I am nearly sickened by the once-pleasant aroma of baking, fresh veggies, and all the other good smells which now seem foul and nauseating to me.

The same is true, of course, for tastes. All the lining of my mouth and throat is now pretty much gone, as well as my taste buds, and I am coughing a lot as my digestive and mouth mucus glands are trying to compensate. I have a perpetual foul taste in my mouth which I won’t disgust you by trying to describe. Food of any kind not only doesn’t taste good, but the very thought of it is revolting.

Which has its good side—with no appetite, I’ve lost 40 pounds since I started on this, and I hope to lose another 20 or 30 before I’m done. This weight loss will allow me to have surgery to correct the umbilical hernia which has really gotten out of hand since my operation for colon cancer last July. The lump protruding from my belly is now the size of my fist. But my doctor says it’s OK, and I’m in no danger.

Speaking of what the doctor says, however, I seem to be in excellent health in all ways other than the chemo side-effects. All my blood tests continue to be excellent, and I recently underwent a complete cardiology evaluation—including treadmill and ultrasound. My cardiologist said everything was normal. I asked him, “Do you mean normal for a 66-year-old guy with cancer?”

And he said, “No, normal for a 40-year-old man in good health.” So that’s encouraging.

As for my hair and beard (which everyone asks about), it keeps getting thinner and wispier, but I’m not gonna shave it—I want to see just how far it goes, and what I’ll look like at the most extreme. It’s like watching myself age 30 years over six months, which is fascinating in a macabre sort of way. I have this big portrait of me up over our fireplace, and it’s not aging, while I am. Sorta like “The Portrait of Dorian Grey” in reverse. At Pantheacon, Glenn Turner, Selena Fox, and Starhawk all told MG that if I’d shave my head at the con as a statement (of what, I don’t know), they’d pay to have some nifty pattern hennaed onto my scalp. But I turned them down. The oddest thing there was that people kept coming up to me and telling me enthusiastically, “You look great!”

I’d say, “No I don’t. I look like hell.” I mean, back when I actually did look pretty good, people weren’t coming up and telling me so, so what’s this about? I thought of how people viewing an embalmed corpse at a funeral will say, “Doesn’t he look good?” No he doesn’t—he’s DEAD!

But MG explained that folks were just trying to be encouraging, and that I should say politely, “Thank you for the vote of confidence.” So this is what I did after that.

And now we’ve been asked to do reprise the Phoenix Rising ritual for our own Church of Worlds Walpugisnacht (May Eve) at Annwfn. That’s cool—at least I don’t have to make all that stuff again!

I think this is enough about me for now. Bright Blessings,

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