Friday, September 30, 2011

New album: Peace Meal

We came home tonight to a mailbox with a very special album

Peace Meal
by the amazing Carolyn Wonderland
surrounded by stellar musicians and music.

Here is a link to her website for more info:

Rewind Back to the first song again....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Women Helping Battered Women

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Check out friend Stefani and Mojo's Playground
in their video-musical montage.
Warning, rated R for Real.

Fall colors in Vermont




sugar maple, vermont


Like a stained glass window,

the colors light up on those rare fall days,

reminding us that rare experiences are the ones

we value the most,

the experiences

short lived

but lived


come to vermont to see the colors.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011




The Vermont History Museum

Barre, (pronounced like berry)Vermont

Up on a hill on Rt 302.

I went for a meeting there and now want to return

again to check it out more.

There is a statue of Robert Burns in the front.


Barre is known for fine granite.

Now I learn also Scottish stonecutters came

to Barre as well as Italians stonecutters.

Everywhere in Barre you see a sculpture.

We sat in an old classroom (it was a high school, then grade school).

I marveled that every photo lining the walls was of a man.

All of them seemed to be at least a hundred years ago.

What is the story there?

Like I said, I want to go back and check out Vermont history.

This is a good place to start.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Color

Fall Foliage is getting in Gear.
These photos from years past.
Vermont is open for tourists.
Enjoy the fall foliage season 2011.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some years are better

Some years and days are better than others.
We plant the garden and have good days and bad days
amounting to good years and bad years and OK years.
The plants not so pretty with rot from too much moisture and
winds that blow "swamp gas" from the floods.
I am making my own theory about swamp gas and hope the winter
kills it with a cleansing freeze.
So I found a last year's sunflower picture
since this year is not the same.
Hopefully next year will be better.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For Absent Friends

For Katie and Suzie
and other friends we lost in the 1970 somethings.
This is my 500th post, a milestone I never thought I would be at.
A funny evolution from
At first, what is a blogger?
Then, why am I a blogger?
Then I am a blogger.
Some of my inspiration and vision from an old Jerry Garcia
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".

I was here many years before I could really answer the question,
"why did you come to Vermont?"
It was easy to lie about.
Finding out people ask questions sometimes not really
or caring
how you answer.
Eventually, I started to say,
"my roommate said to come to Vermont."
Later, much later,
with an acceptance I thought never possible,
I added,
"and she was killed in a car accident."
I never processed that Suzie was with her.
It was too much to lose in one night, a night I was supposed to be out with them,

I knew Katie's Mom first. She was our school nurse in grade school. She would let me
lay on "the cot" when I got these overwhelming headaches. Sick headaches.
Her gentle voice. Her kind looks. Her confidentiality, a safe harbor.

Katie and I became roommates after I began working as a nurse at
a local hospital. New grad nurse. Katie was an LPN, worked in a nursing home and got burned out,
at a young age (we thought we were old). She took care of private duty people
and worked at the bar.

Suzie was someone I can only remember laughing, a very cute laugh, a joy.
Suzie was so special, and such a secret. I knew her sister better who I had the opportunity to hug this year at the Wildey Theater, what a gift.
The funerals were on the same day. I could not attend Suzie's. It helped in the short run but
not really.

Katie's mom called the morning after.
Katie and Suzie tried to get me to call in. Friday night. I just could not.
Nobody to take my place. I went to work.
They went out.
I never knew where they were going after the bar.

Katie's mom said, "oh my God, no one called you?"
and I felt bad for her as she had to tell me, the little girl on the cot,
that her daughter was gone.
I paced and denied and wondered what to do next.

Within a month I had packed up and made plans to go to Vermont,
a place I had barely heard of in the midwest.
The mountains, "Burlington" was what Katie raved about.
I wanted for us to move there.
I even got license in Vermont.
But Katie kept saying, next year.

Katie sent me here 30 years ago,
and I had no choice but to accept she and Suzie
one night,
like other friends I had lost,
seeming too many,
too young.

Suzie, her sweet smile a memory,
a loss, of all she might have been,
all they might have been.

This 500th milestone post is for them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The 499

The 499th Post.

I never thought I would get to this one.
It is with the inspiration of fellow bloggers
like Herrad (accessdeniedlivingwithMS)
or Judy (Peacebewithyou)
or Sherry (demyelinationofme)
or Marc (Wheelchair kamikaze),
or Robert (DailyAthens)
or Lisa (carnival of MS bloggers/brassandivory)
plus "down under" Che (feeling stressed about not posting their links here. Just look in my margin for who I follow regularly)
and many many more.......
These bloggers led me to others and to other cultures, street photos, videos, music.
They also showed me how regular posting of random thoughts, photos,
can lead to a kind of personal freedom.
It feels like I travel now,
something I never really had but also felt was lost.

Sharing ideas, images, feelings is a goal.
I also wanted to brighten someone's day.
An old man in an apartment told me,
"I never see the sunset anymore",
when I asked him what he missed about being down on the farm.
It really hit home.
I cannot change his reality.
I can post a photo and hope someone can find a pleasant moment there.
This post was going to be about my life 30 years ago before we lost
Katie and Suzie.
Those days, no internet, no cell phones, not many photos.
Our memory banks are limited in our little fragile brains.
Some memories are best left wherever they were made.
My 500th post will be about Katie and Suzie, my support group of 30 years ago.
Today, my post is about my worldwide circle of friends,
I thank them I got to my
Thanks to the stars of my blogosphere universe.

Monday, September 19, 2011




Zinnias we just haphazardly planted in hanging pots.

This one (above) has a center that reminded me of the astronomy pic of the day recently which was a sunspot.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Goldenrod & First frost

Goldenrod before the frost.
A friend said her father used to look for goldenrod,
and follow a bee to the hive to gather honey.
He said that bees on goldenrod made the best honey.

Well we had our first frost,
kind of a light one.
But the goldenrod is all brown now.
A sign winter is coming.
Picked tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, broccoli.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wheelchair Repellant

Wheelchair Repellant is a story I wrote that someone named
Caren from NYC posted on her creation: Our MS
This link does not seem to work anymore.
I hope Caren is OK. I wrote her a couple years ago and she did not write back.
It got me started blogging.
Here is my story.

Wheelchair Repellant

By Mary Gerdt
all rights reserved

This is my story and I don’t know if it will knock you off your feet or just make you say to yourself, “Ho Hum, what a boring article. I think I’ll turn on the 24 hour cable news or Golf Channel.”

This thought came to me sometime in this first year after I was diagnosed with MS at age 49.

How and Why am I able to take these shots every day?

It was weird.

I am a nurse who always explained the rationale for a medication, explained how to administer, and worried about “compliance” now AKA “adherence” to a medical prescription. We can tell people what is prescribed and why but I do know “Blah Blah Blah” might be all they can hear after they hear “You have MS” or “You have cancer”.

We also know people sometimes take twice as much or half as much as ordered or put it in the wrong orifice or drop it or lose it or they have a reaction and there it sits, gathering dust and you thought you did such a good job explaining what they need and why. Or they can’t afford it and use half or less or listen to the neighbor and give up on the whole mess and buy something off the internet or from the health food aisle at the grocery store.

I am on study medications which makes it even weirder since I may be shooting in salt water and yet still hoping what I am doing helps the people coming after me and keeps those being diagnosed from having to experiment on themselves.

It is really a different feeling being told (rather than telling someone) you need to do such and such to prevent something from happening or getting worse. I have to get that out early on since that is a major distinction. Before this year, I felt the “luxury” of not having to stick myself but telling someone else to stick their self. I also learned to dread needing a needle, daily meds, a regimen of medications. I dreaded it so much, that was all I could think about after diagnosis.

Can I really do a self injection?

Will I remember the shots?

Will they hurt and I will just give up on them?

Will they really help or give me some other dreaded disease?

What will I do to remember the shots? My routine?

How will I afford them?

What if I don’t have insurance?


A backup plan for my shots?

This loop of questions kept playing over and over for the month I had to wait to decide on treatment. Plenty of time to dread the meds, grateful for the month off so to speak, wondering how life would change after the shots. How would I vacation? How would I deal with dirty needles? Can I do my own shots? I hate shots. Then, again, how will I remember?

Neurology was one of my specialties. I couldn’t get enough of it. Between working on the neuro floor then ICU and now long term care, I have seen my share of neurology “cases”. Now I was a case. About 20 years ago,

I saw a woman come in newly diagnosed (they used to be admitted to the hospital for 5 days and start IV steroids-what an awful place to curl up in bed and cry hysterically from the steroids and choke back the tears.) I saw the same woman like chapters in a book. There she was the next year. Now can’t walk. Then next year, she is falling and face fat from steroids. We teach her to in and out self catheterize to drain her bladder. Next year she is bloated in a power wheelchair and manages a half smile, head tilted. Did I show her how pitiful she looked in my face? I tried not to. Hoping I was one person who could straight talk to her, listen to her dreams which would never come true, praying for a miracle I knew was futile but could I live with myself if I didn’t try? Next year she choked a lot. Next year nursing home, more out of it. Sometime she died and I never thought about how. A staph infection? Pneumoia? An infected skin ulcer? Some freaky cancer? I don’t even remember. One day she was gone.

Another woman, a pen pal. Was older when diagnosed, maybe someone like me. Somehow she and I and her husband connected. She came in periodically like they all did. Admitted for 5-6 days and got the steroids and got poked by the new medical students. Large groups of young childish looking boys and girls coming at you with their tools to test your reflexes, look deep into your eyeball and ask you questions about urinating and sex. How did the patients keep a straight face? Sometimes they would joke around and that made it all lighter. All I know is every time she came in she lost a little function, a little light to her eyes. As if she was being worn down, eroded, dimmed. Her husband would joke a little more, seeing the look on my face when I saw she had lost ground.

“I’m OK” she would say to reassure me. Why did she need to reassure me? Now I see it in the faces I tell, “I’m OK.”

There have been many. Too many to count. Too many to explain to you that I really do know a lot about MS by all these people I have encountered in my nursing experience. Just trust me. I will not presume to know how any of them felt, mind you. But I can tell you how I felt seeing them, come back year after year. Chipping away at my hope they could improve or stand still where they were. Hoping only that I could improve what life they had left. Hoping I could distract them from the misery they felt smother them. The dependency that grated their sense of self. The cognitive changes I fear the most. Loss of control. Loss of sense. Loss of mind. Loss of self. So many losses.

One woman’s husband found refuge in another woman’s arms while his wife who had MS was finally forced to be in a nursing home for complete care. This caused a stir of course. The self righteous and simple minded felt it was cheating, adultery, even abusive. The people like myself saw how it could happen. And I believe it happened somewhere between when the Sufferer of MS was with it …

and when she wasn’t.

I wondered if our resident (as nursing home clients are called) even knew her husband was stepping out. And if she did, her anger was diluted by spasms, far away looks, incontinence of bowel and bladder and occasional moments of angry looks. Kind of like how toddlers look when mad. They have a hard time holding that thought, any thought. She could scrunch up her face and you could do kind of a dance or wave her stuffed animal and she would stop, even smile. No mood lasted. Her cogs were chipped as I like to say.

To me Cognition is how our gears turn in our nervous system. One thing leads to another (sequencing). We learn sequences by trial and error and from watching others. Some instinct I want to think. Some reflexes.

To me, cogs mesh with other cogs to keep the machine moving in the proper sequence.

When the cogs are chipped or broken, the machine doesn’t work the way it should. It skips, or stops altogether. Or goes backward. Or spins wildly out of control.

The neurological system is made of billions and trillions of cogs.

And likely just as many ways to break down.

So when I was offered wheelchair repellant as I am calling it now, it really was in the spirit of keeping the cogs turning. Keeping away from going down the road of all those people I knew who had no such opportunity.

I said to myself, “What would Mrs X do?” X stood for all the people with MS I had encountered and would encounter. It was a way of grouping everyone into one category without explaining each individual scenario. They all had MS in common. Some mild. Some way bad. Some young. Some old. Some men. Some women. Straight, gay, tall, short.

They all carried what I now know I carry.

They mostly all would have taken the chance.

“We have a new way to treat the monster disease that has robbed you of normalcy. Are you interested?”

How many could have said no?

“It involves taking 8 shots a week.”

OK I lost a few.

Some are placebo or maybe not.

Lost a few more.

Now what if you don’t really think it’s going to get bad or worse or you don’t know or don’t care or can’t read or your husband just left or you just had a baby or are pregnant, or your best friend says try the herbal crap at the drugstore.

Now they are leaving in droves.

Stop…Stop I say.

Don’t you know you are going to get worse? Or bad?

You are handing them a chance at the normalcy they left long ago.

Why don’t they want it?

Which is why I started to write this anyway.

To tell others that the alternative (no meds) was bad. Way bad. That if all those who suffered before you took these meds available now, that they would be happier (not happy), and less disabled (not Not disabled), and less afraid.

Going down the road and feeling more in control (but not in control).

To tell others that the shots are NOT something to dread and awfulize.

They are NOT awful.

To tell others that when I get the flu symptoms and have to lay down that when I wake up I think I am still buying strength, delaying the moment when I stare from a bed and have that strange half smile and a wet bed. Maybe even make an unintelligible sound like infants do. Maybe look at my loved ones and react or not. The connections, the cogs, failing to meet and finally failing all over until a kindly death.


There is a reason I stay on course.

Why when I forget my husband remembers and working together I stay on the medications.

Why I gave up the self injector and just go free style with my shots and now it is not a bother at all.

Ok, I get pains and some hurt more than others. Sometimes they bleed more, sting more. Once early on I dropped a needle and it landed “clean”. I picked it up and made Fred shoot me with it. Never before would I have thought I could have picked up a needle off the floor and shot it in myself or anyone. No spare needles at home like there was at work. I got some spares now and haven’t dropped a needle since.

I sometimes marvel that if I found needles as easy to shoot with as they are now, I might have been addicted to heroin. Scary thought.

Fred does my IM shots in my arms and Gluteus Maximus. He is more bothered but it really doesn’t bother me. I am still training him and picky about shots like my old nursing instructor.

Nothing personal, mind you, I am just trying to help him do it right.

Major complaint: A paucity of decent information of how to do it right.

Remedy: Working on writing things like this paper.

Major complaint: Propaganda BS from the drug companies that cite these studies and then someone says, “which drug do you prefer?”

Reality: One makes you sting like a bee sting everyday, one makes you sick with the flu once a week, one is like the flu every other day but not so bad? One taken off the market when somebody died or got sick or….

So many choices. It makes you want to say, “What if I don’t do anything?”

That’s what I meant about writing this article.

Your best bet is to do something.

I saw myself what happens when you do nothing.

At least the studies on the poor people at first verified

You Must Do Something.

That is why they stopped the placebo only studies vs. some drug.

The people on placebo did badly.

They did worse, just as I described when you do nothing.

So I want to advise anyone who will listen to do something.

Start with hooking up with a competent neurologist who specializes in MS. I don’t mean dabbles or has seen a few people with or did a rotation in Neuro in med school. Doesn’t count.

I mean a person who runs an MS clinic. Who is an advisor for MS policy and research, who is connected to the with it/ in the know neurologists of the present day.

I mean a person who you can talk with and they care about listening to you and your complaints and questions, ordering the right meds and when you are overwhelmed and things are going too fast, they can put their hand on your shoulder and slow it all down and say, “We will take care of you. Don’t worry.”

And when you come back after hearing the bad news and you are stunned and sitting on tissue paper on the Dr. table and she looks at you face and she decides not to start right in on protocols and the routine exam, but says, “Have you had a good cry yet?” And you choke a little and say, “Yes” and you remember when and where and how hard the tears came out and you don’t even know, so early on that that was just the beginning of letting it all out.

She gave me permission to have an even bigger cry later that week. She said it was good for me.

It was.

Stevie Ray Vaughn said in his song,

“Every tear that I cried, only washed away the fears inside.”

They did.

My fear of shots faded after starting on them.

The inconvenience of clinic appointments and MRI’s and blood draws and keeping track of my meds and side effects are really pretty minimal.

Is that because I know the alternatives so well?

How can I relay this to others?

That is why I wanted to write this accounting of my perspective because so few people will have this viewpoint. Few people will have more

than 25 years experience like I do with MS patients/clients/residents/People and

Doctors and Insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid and shots and personal care.

Today I found a website to post this on and share with whoever will listen.

Best wishes to you and yours. Mary Gerdt diagnosed August 2007.

The World's Fair

The World's Fair,
in Tunbridge, Vermont
is open this year

by the determination
of the people there.

If you are anywhere near Vermont, come to the fair
and show your support.

This is the best country fair I have ever seen.
Old tractors, livestock, foods, produce judging,
and personally my special memory of meeting Fred Tuttle there,
The Man with a Plan.

Tunbridge is a special fair,
a World's fair.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ideal Medical Care

Dr. Pam Wible has crafted a wonderful collection of info
and ideas about creating the ideal medical system.

This one starts with a great deal of thought, community involvement
and respect for individual, choice and buy in to the plan.

Definitely check out her you tube spots and you may start
to think about, what is your Ideal Medical Care?
and how do we get there?

After Flood

After the Flood,
many still suffer,
tucked away in idyllic hollows,
where the old people settled, near the stream or a lake.
Places that did seem peaceful once,
no doubt,
a traumatic memory,
of a day
when it all changed.

in VT call 211 if you still need help or know someone who cannot ask themselves.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monkton Garden 2011

Monkton Garden 2011
has been rough,
we planted unconventionally late
and overall was pretty

Some photos:

Brassica Patch & Zinnias

Sunflowers leaning from Irene
(North is left in this photo)
carrots on the right,
late is OK.
one less weeding planted
mid July

Sugar Baby

Some dull color
is beginning
Have a great day!
Cherry tomatoes in the dehdrator. Life is good!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years

10 Years

Since that horrible day
When so many lost so much in so many different ways.

30 years ago, I lost 2 friends,
and plan to write about them later this month.

That year, my journey,
led me to visit
Jesse in Brooklyn.

Jesse had a complete love of architecture.
I thought he should have been an architect.
In 1974, we went to an event called EXPO 74 in St. Louis.
They took old factories on the waterfront and were transforming them
into incredible living and retail spaces.
Jesse was always taking me along to these events he found.
He would explain all the finer points,
the architect, the style.
I was always eager to learn,
loving architecture myself.
Jesse took me then to the World Trade Center.
I saw it up close,
only once.
I only could see the bottom one third due to smog,
but what I saw
overwhelmed my flatland senses
of dimension.
I nearly fell over and Jesse caught me.
I could not look again without feeling dizzy.
I am grateful he brought me there and we stood together
once, there.

Now they are both gone.

10 years ago today,

I was working in the hospital as a UR nurse.
I reviewed patient charts, stood at the nurse's station
and was usually more or less detached from the floor nursing I had done for almost 20 years.
Still, my ears were trained to hear distress calls, escalating families or patients or staff.
All of the sudden,
the mood changed on the floor.

"Did you see that?"
I heard,
A patient had their TV on.
"Check room 9,"
someone said,
they have it on,
"Oh my God.............

It was a phrase you kept hearing or sometimes you would see just a stunned look,
by the end of the day we knew
or knew someone
who knew someone
who was there.

I watched the young new nurses and hoped there would be
nothing closer, nothing here.
A friend's son, a successful young man,
went to school with a whole bunch
who vanished that day,
she had a hollow look, before grief can even set in.

My husband at a customer's house,
her husband and daughter commute to Manhattan,
from Vermont.
The phones jammed until
finally news came they were OK.
The reality that we were more connected to that big city
than  I ever thought.

Then the silent skies.
Bluer than normal,
without contrails,
without the familiar engine noise
a familiar routine.

Then the smoke,
the wind coming north from NYC
wondering did I smell something?

Not wanting it to be a burning building,
with people in it
that my friend's son went to college with.

The silence went on for a few days, then it was done.

The planes overhead started again,
I wished for silence again.

30 years or 10 years does seem to go by so fast anymore.
And yet,
those traumatic days, like 9/11,
full of profound sadness and robbing us of
in other humans,
seeing the reality of how bad people can be,
we find that
we have not forgotten.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Night Angel

Night Angel

Night Angel,
Call to the angel,
in the night.

Close your eyes,
Fall to sleep,
Wait for a
Sweet heavy hand,
On your shoulder,
Weary traveller,
roam the World,
Oh, Night Angel.

And you fly over,
All the pain and sorrow,
All the stress and strain,
What do you find unfair,
What makes you sad,
Night Angel?

Wish tonight,
For your Perfect world,
For better days,
For justice fair,
For a letting go
of hate,
Night Angel,
Will you be here,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Leaves

The Leaves are already changing,
the trees a little stressed out,
like we are
from blizzard to flood to beautiful summer "slot" &
back to floods

The leaves change colors
and remind us of what is to come,
like paying the tax bill,
like memories,
that come every fall.

The leaves
they too will fall,
we know that
and yet we really need to
gaze at them
and enjoy their color,
before they are gone.

The leaves,
they tell us,
it could be worse,
at least

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beautiful Pesto...

Visit our new neighbor,
Rachel, pesto builder and stellar grower
at her website:

She was flooded out twice up at the Intervale,
and still keeps smiling
brought us cookies
and is looking to support the other flood victims.
Thanks Rachel!

(being a person who looks for signs, Rachel was the name of the first woman to settle
Monkton circa 250  years ago. see post on haystacks...i took that as a sign for the renaissance of the barn
and a new beginning)...m

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lake Champlain bridge update 9.3.11

my latest video of the bridge:

We have become nomads for bargains and went across the lake
to find cheap and bulk foods.
This has led us to watch by stages the bridge going up.
We are fortunate to have the vantage point of the
LCT ferry.
Saturday we had a pleasant day and the lake
was beautiful.
Soon we will just drive across
A fine looking bridge.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Swallows are on their way

Most all of our resident Swallows
left last Wednesday or I believe official date should be
Thursday August 25, 2011 (a few stragglers remained one more day).
But either way, they left 3-4days before Irene hit.
They are headed for South America.
I used to think Florida, but Fred did some research.
We hope they did OK with the storm and found some shelter.
They were the healthiest swallows we have seen.
Plump and good broods. My theory is that with
the sparse bat population, the swallows have more food.
I had intended on writing about the swallows leaving
before Irene hit.
So this is my post,
simple as it may be,
it is a tribute to the swallows, who brave long journeys,
suffering adverse conditions
and then they will fly back and keep our backyard bugs under control.
wish them a safe journey...mary

How to help Vermont

Visit this website for how to help Vermonters.
Thanks to the web-masters for putting this up.