MATY Kate’s Journal


Swirls “The Colors of Our Lives” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

As the artist, it is within our power to change the name of a piece of art whenever we choose, so the original name of this painting just got put up on the shelf.

People, as well as paintings, flowers and sunsets. bring color into our lives. Life would be a pretty dull place if that were not so.

When I was recovering from pneumonia last January, the family council decided that the old girl needed someone to look out for us. That was when Maty came into our lives, bringing the brilliant sunshine of Mexico.

We decided that I could help her with English while she polished up my Spanish. My first new word shortly after Maty came, was “escolera”, when she needed a ladder to reach the top of the bookshelves. We frequently get stuck in our own language, but she is quick to check the translator on her cell phone.

She likes to visit the Thrift stores in town and color coordinates all her clothes, including her shoes and jewelry. Along with all this, she actually sings while she works, something I never did. Perhaps that is why things are so much cleaner since Maty came. She is like a colorful hummingbird flitting around the house.

Since my leg surgery, she has become a stern taskmaster, ordering me to sit down, elevate my leg, and stop trying to help.

You can hardly live in California without eating and cooking Mexican food, and until Maty, I have always prided myself on the cooking of that culture. We have reached the stage where we are exchanging recipes as old friends do. She has taught me that most of my Mexican cooking was not the same as hers , and who am I to argue! Last week she made at least 100 tamales both chicken and vegetable. I think we need to throw a party and soon!

Maty has enhanced the colors of our lives, and we are so blessed to have her.

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PAY ATTENTION TO THE SILENCE Kate’s Journal


Tucked away on a back street in the town of Dublin, California an old cemetery lies under the sheltering arms of ancient trees.

A cemetery holds the history of a time, a place, and a people. The artifacts and the stone architecture remain as a reminder–a record of their existence.

The valley was settled by Danish and Irish immigrants, in the middle of the 19th century, and along with the mercantile establishments which made a village, the cemetery came into being, roughly divided into Catholic and Protestant gravesites.

St Raymond's St. Raymond’s Catholic Church, Dublin, CA

I was once saddened to see that a young Irishman had fallen to his death while roofing the church, and later found that he had been an ancestor of a friend, now buried in the Catholic side.

Though the church was the earliest Catholic church in the area, it is no longer used for services, but is available for other uses in the community. The best funeral I ever went to was held there some years ago when a cousin of Dr. A’s said her goodbyes, ending with the marching of a New Orleans jazz band leading us to her final resting place in the Rasmussen plot. True to her individual style she opted for a large rough rock as her marker instead of the usual cold granite.

Each of the old plots holds a sign proclaiming the original settler’s history, thereby giving the cemetery a guide to each original family. The Rasmussen plot lies at the extreme rear of the place though there are family members scattered throughout the cemetery. A baby’s marble crib in the middle of the plot tells of the passing of a baby brother of Dr. A’s father, however family lore tells us “he” is not there but hurriedly buried somewhere in the unmarked ground since the family did not have their plot at the time of his demise. I had often attempted to plant flowers in the crib, including Bleeding Heart, but due to the heat and lack of water it never worked. There are many marble reminders of children taken too early, as in most old cemeteries.

The cemetery lies behind the church, and behind the old school where my father-in-law attended classes. For many years the property was managed by a “Cemetery Board” to which we all belonged with occasional meetings to decide grave cleaning, tree pruning etc. after which we all went out to dinner nearby. It was a social gathering of old family friends, who sometimes gathered for a picnic under the trees. Then as more people moved into the area, it was handed over to the City of Dublin to manage. and it lost its familial feel.

There have been many changes through the years since the City took control, but then, Life is change, forcing all of us tho choose, resist, or roll with it. The large home of a former settler has been moved into the neighboring property making the entire area a park where school children are often brought to learn about the early settlers who were primarily farmers in the fertile valley. While the valley was once carpeted with fruit trees and poppies, today it abounds with business parks and homes. The absent fruit trees and poppies are a reminder that we are all transient visitors.

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In another valley, this one in Grants Pass, Oregon, is the cemetery where generations of the Sweetland family, as well as those who married out of it, repose for eternity. As in Dr. A’s family cemetery it is divided into Catholic and Protestant Masonic.

It is situated on the top of a low rise overlooking the town and shielded by large oak trees planted in the 19th century after the movement to the West. These people were primarily ranchers and farmers. My grandfather was a rancher and the town butcher.

-It's_the_Climate-_sign_in_Grants_Pass,_Oregon

Early Hudson’s Bay Company hunters and trappers, following the Siskiyou Trail, passed through the site beginning in the 1820’s. In the 1840’s settlers following the Applegate Trail began traveling through the area on their way to the Willametter Valley. The city states that the name of General Ulysses S. Grant was selected to honor Grant’s victory at Vicksburg.

The town is situated idyllically beside the Rogue River which flows west to the sea. The river abounds with fish and entices fishermen and outdoorsmen as a vacation destination.

It has never been a hub of business or financial activity, but serves as a direct route north and south. A sugar beet factory was built in 1916, but due to labor shortage and low acreage planted the company was moved to Toppenish, Washington. There still remain acreage of hop fields, where I as a teenager during the War, picked hops because of the shortage of labor.

When my father, a son of Grants Pass, passed away in 1993, Dr. Advice dug his last resting place, as he had done for his mother in Dublin, CA. An honor guard saluted him with the playing of Taps to honor his military service, and as the final notes rang out over the town of his birth I was comforted by the thought that he had returned safely to the place he had longed for.

As the few people said their goodbyes and headed for their cars, a caretaker came through with his happy frolicking black lab. He looked at the stone and said “Oh–Walter’s gone is he?” I nodded and he apologized for the dog sniffing the grave, saying they passed by there every day and the dog was accustomed to walking through the plots. I told him my father, a great dog lover, would be happy to know that the dog would be coming to pay his respects.

SLOW AHEAD Kate’s Journal


Fly Me To the Moon

A strange title perhaps, but that describes the motion taken after a large surgery. My “short vacation” didn’t send me home tanned and energetic, still wallowing in the pleasures of days on a sunny beach somewhere, but it DID get me back home.

The 4 1/2 hour surgery installing a donor vein in my right leg has been an apparent success with the minor inconvenience of a large skin tear on the lower leg which defies efforts to heal itself. There has been a persistent swelling problem as well demanding the elevation of my foot.

There have been nurses, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist checking and giving high marks to my recovery, however, a couple of hours after the PT nurse gave her approval, I slung my leg up and onto stacked pillows and felt an ominous and extremely painful snap in right hip, hence the title of “Slow Ahead”, Very slow today.

Now, to reminisce on the past three weeks, and using them as a learning experience, my last connection to the world of the fairly healthy was in a large well-lighted operating room where a team of professionals gathered about my bed and as all airline pilots do, went over their various jobs, after which I blessedly entered dreamland.

A week in the hospital being looked after by caring nurses most of whom were from the Philippines, prepared me for a “restful” week in a Skilled Nursing Care facility or nursing home. I’m grateful to all of them.

An ambulance with two cute paramedics whisked me out of the hospital just as night was falling, and deposited me in a decidedly unfamiliar facility, with another patient sharing the room.

No one came to give me instructions as to what I should do in the darkened room with only the light from the nearby hallway. Attempting to sit on the bed, it slipped away from me as it had not been locked. Someone entered quietly and tossed a gown and a diaper onto the bed. When I said I didn’t need the diaper, she seemed to think it was necessary. I left it there and got into bed.

The other occupant seemed to be an elderly dark woman curled in a fetal position and muttering to herself in a strange language. She soon accelerated her voice crying “Hello! Hello! Hello”. I soon became aware of other voices throughout the place calling for help. Making my narrow mind up not to talk to her, I attempted to sleep.

Thoroughly disgruntled, early the next morning I called my daughter and hissed “Get me OUT of here!” She asked me if it was like “One Flew Over the Coo-coo”s Nest”, and I said “Yeah”!

I took back my earlier decision and said “Good Morning” to my room mate. When the doctor came later in the morning they conversed in an unfamiliar language which I later found to be Hindi. This was the language she was muttering in all night. (I found out she was from Fiji.)

As the nurses and others filed into the room and evaluated my condition, I began to realize something which had never occurred to me: a nursing home is not a hospital. The nurses who circulate throughout the place have very different types of conditions to deal with. There are people in pain or who think they are in pain who cry and shout all night. No nurse could keep up with the demands immediately, and yes, it could be like the movie “One Flew Over the Coo-coo’s Nest.” It is purely a matter of perception.

Both physical and occupational therapists gave me exercises each morning which greatly helped me on my way back.

The woman from Fiji left and the room was mine for a day or so, and then another patient was brought in. The nurses brought in a large crane-like machine to weigh her and she hit the scale at over 400 lbs with no mobility whatsoever. Her son came to see her and he too, weighed over 400 lbs. Dressed in shorts and a canary yellow Warriors t-shirt and a knit hat on top of his head of the same color, he made a fetching fan for the winning Oakland basketball team.

When her son departed for the game, his mother began shouting and crying for nurses to come take care of her immediately. She too was from Fiji so a great deal of her calling was in Hindi. Most of the nurses here were Indian with the same language. We have indeed a large ethnic population, a great many of whom are Indian and Asian.

This woman was so annoying that the nurses simply ignored a lot of her demands which made her yell all the louder. One evening I quietly asked “Please don’t shout” to no avail. Later she began shouting and crying and my usual patient demeanor left me. I got up in the middle of the night and went over to her bed. “Listen,” I said. “I am a very old lady, and I have had a lot of pain my my life; and one thing I have learned is that crying will NOT help, so SHUT the H— UP!!” I will hasten to add that it did no good.

On my final night a middle-aged woman spent the night flying up and down the halls in a wheel chair screaming “Help Me! Help Me!” She was completely out of her head and had no idea what she was doing.

I have since talked to friends from the medical community who tell me that most all these places are the same. The nursing is very good as well as the attention given to food and medicines and the care given to the physical therapy. I was left with good and in some cases fond feelings towards some of the nurses, but I don’t want to go back.