This blogspot has been set up to honor Kathy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ranger-led, overnight backpacking trip to Persimmon Point

BY ROBERT FISHER Before Kathy Cantwell’s tragic bicycle accident, she had backpacked throughout the united States including the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Grand Canyon.

She wrote a memorable letter to the Gainesville Sun in 2007, just before the Alachua County Commissioners met to decide on a land use amendment change permitting the Gainesville Country Club to build townhouses along the northern perimeter of Paynes Prairie.

She remarked that one of her most memorable outdoor experiences was her overnight backpacking trip to Persimmon Point at Paynes Prairie.

To honor Kathy Cantwell’s noble efforts to protect Paynes Prairie and other conservation areas throughout the State of Florida, I am organizing a ranger-led, overnight backpacking trip to Persimmon Point during the winter or early spring of 2011 to provide an opportunity for both Sierra Club members and nonmembers to experience a wilderness area that Kathy worked so hard to protect.

This overnight weekend backpacking trip is being planned in cooperation with Friends of Paynes Prairie and Paynes Prairie State Park.

We will depart mid-morning on Saturday for a 4.5 mile pack-in to the primitive campsite at Persimmon Point.

Following a blissful night of communing with nature and enjoying the night sky, we will depart on Sunday morning and hike along a scenic 2-mile section of the north rim of the prairie basin. Our expected arrival time is around noon.

Throughout the trip, our ranger will highlight important features of Paynes Prairie.

This backpacking trip is limited to 20 participants, and there will be a $20 fee. Half of the fee will be donated to Friends of Paynes Prairie and the other half will be donated to a memorial fund in the name of Kathy Cantwell. Prospective weekends include February 26-27th and March 12- 13th.

I strongly encourage prospective participants to consider the weekend of February 26-27th, which should allow us to view migratory Sandhill Cranes before their departure back to the upper Midwest and Canada.

This tribute backpacking trip represents a wonderful opportunity for backpackers of all levels to experience and enjoy one of the great outdoor treasures of Florida.

All interested individuals should respond to Robert Fisher ( or 352-514-7674) by December 31, 2010 with their preference for February 26-27th or March 12-13th.

Please note that this tribute backpacking trip is open to everyone. An equipment list along with additional details will be sent to all participants.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meet today or call/send email... important!


Workshop starts at 4:3o, commission discussion for voting on the matter 6:30. Hawthorne City Hall. 6700 SE 221st Street, Hawthorne, FL 32640 Phone: 352.481.2432

While it will take you away from your families for a couple of hours, I implore of you, we must bring a show of support large enough so that any nay-sayers on the Hawthorne City Commission will get the picture and will support this proposed land acquisition. The calvary must mount and ride onto the field, or this highly worthy acquisition may very well die!

Our partner, the Putnam Land Conservancy fought tooth and nail to get FCT funding for this proposed acquisition of a sizeable chunk of the Little Orange Creek project. It is nothing short of critical, if you care about connecting the Ocala National Forest to the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area, and ultimately to Goethe, a project spearheaded by the Conservation Trust for Florida. Further, these lands fall within one section of the wildlife corridor that links the Ocala NF to the Okeefenokee/Osceola complex, as well. Please see the attached maps to visualize these vital links.

If you are unable to attend, please consider sending the Commission an email, or call them up.> and (352)481-2432.

Of critical significance is the fact that preserving this area should increase the value of surrounding lands, including those in the City limits, and thus, should increase ad valorem tax revenue; a fundamentally vital issue for this particular city, more so than many, actually. For back up reading to substantiate this fact, please see the first four articles linked under “General Interest” here:>

So, if you wish to be fully fluent regarding the issues at hand, you should call Rob Blount, PLC’s Executive Director, for more information: 386-336-5400 Or email him at .

Please make this a priority!


Brian A. Block Executive Director> (352) 466-1178 (Phone/Fax) (352) 258-2228

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Press release re: LOCCHEC

November 15, 2010

Little Orange Creek Conservation and Environmental Center

Contact: Robert S. Blount, Executive Director


The Florida Communities Trust program awarded the Putnam Land Conservancy (PLC) and the City of Hawthorne a $4 Million grant to purchase a 1,200-acre nature preserve. Pending City Commissioners’ approval, the PLC and City will jointly manage the property as a public park preserving Hawthorne’s natural and cultual heritage. The $4.5 million purchase price was made up by the Florida Department of Community Affairs grant and $500,000 in private contributions.

The Putnam Land Conservancy is a four-year-old private land and wildlife conservation charity. Its mission is conserving land and water for people and wildlife in and around Putnam County Florida. PLC has been active in assisting conservation-minded private citizens sell or donate environmentally sensitive lands for public recreation and providing critical habitat for Florida native plants and animals.

The LOCCHEC park includes over 700 acres of surface water protection along Little Orange Creek as it meanders through Fowler’s Prairie. The park contains a rare pitcher plant bog that borders State Road 20. The area is home to many Florida native plants and animals and is used by the Florida black bear as it travels from the Ocala National Forest to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia.

Future plans for the LOCCHEC Park include connecting it to the Gainesville-to-Hawthorne Trail. Also in the planning is a renovating an existing 5,000 sq. ft. building into a nature and culture center. Here programs and exhibits will interpret the local environment and the original pioneer settlement at Morrison’s Mill. The remnants of this founding site of present-day Hawthorne can be seen on the park. The park will provide access to the historic Carlton Cemetery where a number of Hawthorne pioneer families are interred.

The park lands will undergo restoration to remove exotic, non-native species. Recreational amenities will be added including handicapped accessible fishing pier, canoe and kayak launch, picnic pavilion, horseshoe pit, volleyball court, and hiking trail. The park is scheduled to open to the public in 2011.

Locchec status

The Hawthorne city commission room was filled to overflowing Tuesday night. The first row had a bright orange glow from the number of people wearing LOCCHEC T-shirts... and that's pretty much the highlight of the evening. It was disappointingly similar to the discussion that took place the week before at the workshop. Several commissioners voiced their support; several had reservations about the budget. It went round and round and round. A number of citizens spoke - all in favor of the project. Many citizens approached the podium and voiced their frustration with the amount of time that it takes the commission to move on a project.

In the end, the commission voted to have another meeting. It will be Monday, November 22nd. There will be workshop starting at 4:30 which will focus on the management plan for the project. At 6:30, the commission is going to vote on whether to sign the contract.

Your participation will help. Please try and attend. The commission was aware that we were there to support this project. The mayor commented that the meeting was not just packed, but filled to the rafters. Please plan to join us.

City of Hawthorne, Florida
6700 SE 221st Street, Hawthorne, FL 32640
Phone: 352.481.2432

On a final positive note, as we filed out of the room, a man standing by the door shook everyone's hand and gave us a big smile.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kathy's Legacy Land Project LOCCHEC

If you would like to receive an email whenever this blog is updated, please send me an email at

Little Orange Creek Conservation - This is the project to which Kathy devoted the last 5 years of her life. It will provide for the conservation of 1,200 acres.

We would like to remind/encourage you all to come out to Hawthorne City Hall Tuesday evening at 6 PM. The commission is going to take its official vote on partnering up with Putnam Land Conservancy and committing approx. $25,000 to steward Kathy's beloved LOCCHEC project. It would be wonderful if we could get a crowd there to show support for this project and encourage a positive vote. This project will allow for the awarding of nearly $4.5 million dollars for conservation land. If the commission votes it down, the project will not be funded (as I understand it).

Julie suggests having dinner afterward at Blue Water Bay.

City of Hawthorne, Florida
6700 SE 221st Street, Hawthorne, FL 32640
Phone: 352.481.2432

Monday, October 4, 2010

Woman of the Year

Kathy has been nominated for this award and I would imagine she will win, don't you? The awards banquet is Friday Oct 15 at Sweetwater Branch Inn. I cannot attend because it is opening night but we should get all of our friends to attend. You need to buy tickets ahead of time. Here's the link to the website to get a ticket. Tickets ar $40.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Get an email when we post

I wish this blog was set up so that if you are following the blog, you will receive an email when a new post is made. It doesn't work that way but I have set something up.

I set up a google group for this blog. If you join the group, you will automatically be updated whenever the blog is.

That way, you don't need to remember to keep checking it.

If you want to join, send an email to and I will send you a link.

Back home and a challenge from Tammy

Julie and Lorelei returned from their journey - giddy with stories of beauty in nature. We gathered that same night (Friday) on the back porch as we had done so many times since that dreadful first meeting in May.

Julie asked us all to "check in". It's kind of like having to go to the doctor for a check up. I don't know that anyone wanted to do it but we did and it was good. Each person talked about where they were at. Some spoke of Kathy, some not.

In the last month since Kathy's death, many many people have come forward with stories of how Kathy's words about being in nature have effected their lives. Tammy talked about it that night and the next morning sent this challenge to us all.

To bring to your daily life the energy (adrenalin) that you tapped into while out in nature. When you hear the hawk scream to you stop and take it in / listen. When the wind blows the scent of fall take a deep breath. When the sky opens up and displays a full moon, a zillion stars, and the blinding glare of the sun take a mental picture. When it rains take a walk and feel each drop on your skin. Don't let the daily routines that are required of us just to survive overshadow what really matters ---- living.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Words to Live and Die by

We had a wonderful celebration at Prairie Creek Lodge on Friday, Sept 10. There were about 150 people in attendance many of whom braved the heat and walked or rode to the Green burial grounds where Kathy and several others have been laid to rest.

After the journey we enjoyed music (by Leo Nico and Nancy Lasseter), food and drink together. Hutch (Alachua Conservation Trust), Freddie (Conservation Burial Inc) and Rob (Putnam Land Conservancy) briefly talked about their 3 organizations - all of which we very dear to Kathy.

We showed an 11 minute video of Kathy that I shot after she was first diagnosed with the brain tumor. She smiles at the camera and starts off in her usual style with a lead in... "I bet you wonder why you are all here..." And then the she begins... "it's for me to tell you how I feel at this moment in my life."

During the filming it began to rain harder and harder so please excuse the background noise. This video is in two parts. The first is about 8 minutes and the 2nd is about 3. Don't skip the second as it ends with love, love, love. There are two more videos on the side bar. Google/Youtube put them there and I cannot get rid of them... They are about other Cantwells.

Special thanks to Hutch and his staff for all they did to make this celebration so successful.

And a special thanks to all the green groups and environmentally minded folks and Kathy lovers who were in attendance.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kathy's birthday, Trail dedication at the Lodge

I spoke to Julie and Lorelei yesterday. They are on an adventure, clearing their heads and refilling their hearts. They called me yesterday from Nova Scotia. They sounded so happy, tripping over each other on Julie's speaker phone - both of them trying to add their bits about how incredible their trip has been. They are calling themselves Thelma and Louise but as far as I know, they are NOT wanted by the police. (joke)

We talked about Kathy's birthday which is tomorrow, Sept. 8th. It would have been her 61st. Julie and Lore and going to try and do something eco-conscious. Maybe you want to do so as well.

One thing I remember Kathy saying over and over again was to take at least 5 minutes and go outside. Hear and feel nature and let it into you.

Maybe we can all try to do that tomorrow... or walk/ride your bike instead of driving. Drive w/o your AC on... Go to Publix and recycle those horrible styrofoam containers. Every little bit helps repair the damage in our relationship with nature.

Don't forget this FRIDAY, SEPT 10TH @ 5pm there is an event to honor Kathy and the green/eco organizations and people. Be there at 5 to take the field trip to the Green Burial site. RSVP so that we know how to plan for food and refreshments.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Leaving us but not Gone! The Tree Lady

An open letter to Meg Niederhofer, Gainesville City Arborist
on the occasion of her retirement on August 31, 2010

Dear Meg:

Every single day, somebody in Gainesville looks at a tree, and appreciates its beauty or utility. But nobody fully realizes the amount of effort that one person – Gainesville's first City Arborist – has put into making our urban forest so strong, diverse, and beautiful.

Meg – you have been responsible for the planting of tens of thousands of trees in Gainesville, and for saving just as many through regulations, which many other communities have copied. You have educated thousands, through speaking to individual tree sponsors or large groups, and in your frequent news stories and editorial columns. You have mentored many entry level professionals who have gone on to other tree-related careers. You have collaborated on research projects that have changed urban forestry practices in Florida.

Many people don't know that for fifteen years, you wore a pager 24/7/365, and responded to falling trees at all hours in all kinds of weather. How many times were you called out from a movie, or a party, or bed, to go out in a thunderstorm? During the "Storm of the Century", you spent days on the clean-up, coming home only briefly. The same for two decades of hurricanes, tropical storms, and tornados. But, by overseeing the methodical removal of weak trees, and re-planting stronger species, and focusing on proper pruning for a healthier structure, the frequency and cost of these emergency call-outs has dropped dramatically. You are leaving the City with a much stronger forest.

How many know that you recommended our comprehensive plan be amended to require the planting of 1000 trees each year in parks and along streets, but that the City only fully funded the first year of expenses to buy trees? And that for more than a decade, you have met this goal by soliciting donations of trees from nurseries, by obtaining trees through mitigation and enforcement actions, and by growing trees in two City nurseries? And how many folks really appreciate how closely you worked with the City Beautification Board, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, the Matheson Historical Museum, Alachua Conservation Trust, the Florida Native Plant Society, the garden Clubs, and many other organizations in collaborative efforts for a greater urban forest.

Meg – you have gone toe-to-toe with many developers and builders over the decades, and have worked well with those who appreciate trees, and been the nemesis of those who don't. But the way that you have fairly dealt with the regulated community, and their landscape architects and engineers, has brought them along to the point that there are very few arguments about trees today, as compared to twenty years ago. The Tree Advisory Board and the Tree Appeals Board are no nonsense committees that you have staffed effectively for two decades – and soon, you may be serving on them.

I have listened as you described in great detail the ailments of specific trees – it's been said that you have a personal and individual relationship with ten thousand street and park trees. You have fought for trees, apologized to trees, and wept in their presence when they could not be saved. You presided over the first urban infestation of southern pine beetles, and saved homeowners millions of dollars by applying scientific principles to attacking the epidemic. And then you did it again a few years later.

You have authored numerous grants to pay for all kinds of tree projects – from science, to beautification, to removals. In many years, you have brought in more revenue to the City than your salary. You have all the certifications and accolades that your colleagues can bestow.

You have managed employees with leadership, generosity, and compassion, and manage resources as carefully as if they were your own. Sick days were seldom taken – you received perfect attendance recognitions for the majority of your years. While you were working hard, you lovingly supported two parents in their final years, including your mother who stayed with us for three years with advancing Alzheimer's. You have struggled quietly with your own health issues, your broken jaw requiring two bone transplants, and more recently with cancer.

As my wife, I have witnessed all these ups and downs, and lived through the victories, defeats, hilarity, stupidity, delight, and disappointment. Rush Limbaugh insulted you by name on the radio – a real badge of honor. You had to endure four years of being a politician's spouse, and participated in lots of other political campaigns. You've also had to be a musician's wife, a sailor's wife, and an eccentric's wife, all of which you've done with equanimity and grace.

Now, you are re-inventing yourself. For the first time in memory, you will not be the City Tree Lady, as you are most often called. I know you are challenged with what your new identity will be, and that you are leaving Gainesville for extended travels the day after your August 31st retirement to meditate on the future. You've insisted that a fuss not be made about your departure, and your friends have respected that.

By distributing this open letter and suggesting others pass it on, we are all in agreement that the best retirement gift we can give is our heartfelt appreciation for the legacy forest that you have saved, re-built, and strengthened, and that we will pledge to defend and enjoy.

On behalf of all of your tree-hugging friends and family,

Love and best wishes,


Friday, August 20, 2010

Something Kathy would have liked

Kathy was always moving us in so many ways. Telling about this meeting, this movement. Could we attend? Letting us know what she was up to but never making us feel bad about not doing it... just offering us the opportunity to do it.

The fact that she is gone from our lives has amplified the sound of her in my head. I feel more strongly compelled to examine the problems and disasters of our environment. I feel more connected and a little more frantic about what is going on. The Gulf oil spill, the floods in Pakistan- it is so overwhelming. If I can keep Kathy's voice I am hoping to find a way move forward with hope and not despair.

I stumbled across this poem on the internet today. It reflects some of what Kathy was all about. I think she would have really liked it.

A Prayer to Awaken

By Terry Tempest Williams in the August 2010 issue of The Progressive.

How much suffering around the world will have to take place, how many wars must we start, before we begin to see this chain of addictive behavior for what it is—madness?

How many people killed, how many communities destroyed, how many ecosystems ravaged, how many species lost, before we will begin to see this dark open wound gushing from the depths of the sea as our own?

How well do we remember past petroleum accidents from the Persian Gulf to the Exxon Valdez, from Shell’s fouling the Nigerian Delta (which led to the hanging of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa) to the Ecuadoran spill in 2009 that decimated forty-seven indigenous communities?

At this moment, can we find an action worthy of the suffering felt by the communities along the Gulf Coast, both human and wild?. . .

I keep coming back to the simple act of bearing witness.

To bear witness is not a passive act but an act of conscience and consequence.

We can face this economic and ecological crisis straight ahead and not avert our gaze.

We can begin to face this crisis of our collective addiction to oil by agreeing to look the suffering we are creating in the eye.

We can become a witnessing community of purposeful expression and agree to be present, to listen, to engage first-hand. In these moments of direct experience, our consciousness shifts. We can choose to live differently.

We are most often transformed not by the facts of the situation, but by the emotion of the situation, what we see and feel when truth is revealed.

We hear of sea turtles being burned alive as surface oil is set on fire in BP’s cleanup efforts.

And we learn that a sea captain, who recently enrolled in BP’s “vessel of opportunity” program and offered his boat to aid in oil recovery activities, grew increasingly despondent over the spill and died of a gunshot to his head. Shall we call it suicide or murder?

The spell that has kept us complacent and numb shatters. We wake up to the horror of our own oiled hands.

We are brought to our knees as we face our own spiritual imperative to change.

We can mark this moment not with our despair but with our creativity, not by our sense of helplessness, but by our engagement.

May we stand in the center of our humanity and power as a species and say as the poet Kenneth Patchen has:

I hear the beating of a heart.
It drowns out every other sound.

And in so doing, may we prevent the next oil spill from happening.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kathy Cantwell Celebration Sept 10th

Please let your friends and colleagues know about this upcoming event.

Kathy Cantwell was an avid environmentalist. She worked for and supported dozens of green groups. In her honor we would like to invite all the eco/green groups in Gainesville to come together in celebration of her work with our community. Nothing would make her happier than to see all the diverse and specialized groups joined together, sharing and celebrating.

Please join us on Friday, September 10 from 5-9 to celebrate Kathy, ourselves and our work.

Prairie Creek Lodge (see directions below)
5-6 pm Field trip to the Green Burial land
6-7 pm Pizza and Beer provided by Alachua Conservation Trust
7-9 Kathy Cantwell Trail dedication, slide show, music and mingling.

confirm that you are attending on the ACT Facebook page.

Donation requested

Hope to see you there,

Directions to Prairie Creek Lodge (pdf also available
From the intersection of University Avenue and Main Street in Gainesville:
drive east on University Avenue (SR 26) a distance of 1.1 miles; then,
Veer right onto Hawthorne Road (SR 20) and drive 5.2 miles; then,
Turn right onto CR 2082 and drive 1.3 miles; then,
Turn right onto CR 234, cross the Gainesville-Hawthorne Rail Trail, and
drive 0.9 miles south; then,
Turn right at the mailbox labeled 7204, and stay straight on the dirt driveway approximately 0.5 miles
through the gate and to the Lodge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sandy Reimer's celebration of Kathy

There was a beautiful celebration of Kathy's life at the United Church of Gainesville. The service was recorded (audio only) and UCG kindly gave us a copy. Over the next couple of days, I will try and put some of the segments on line so that you can actually listen to the service.

Sandy Reimer, one of the ministers, spoke eloquently and lovingly about Kathy. This clip is about 15 minutes long. Click here to listen.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Paying it forward

From an email that I received today... This has been an experience of life changing kindness from friends and sometimes total strangers.

I attended Kathy's memorial service and taped it with
a high quality field recorder at my seat. I know that UCG
also recorded the service but I don't know how it turned out.
My recording was made from sitting in the audience and my guess
is that it recorded more of the audience participation than the UCG
I know that you were a close friend of Kathy and I made
a copy of the memorial service on CD for you and an
extra copy for you to give to Julie.
I met Kathy many times through the years and know
that she was good friends with my closest friend Sue Wright.
Sue died from the same type of brain tumor a few years back.
I remember that Kathy was at her memorial service.
Just let me know if it sounded ok on your equipment.

TREE PLANTING (Flowering Dogwood) In Memory of Kathy Cantwell

Julie asked me to post this invitation from Susan of SAC. Please feel free to attend. Julie will be out of town.

Dear Julie:
I'm writing today on behalf of Sustainable Alachua County. We have been planning to plant a tree in memory of Kathy and in honor of her service to our organization and the community. SAC will participate in a later celebration of Kathy's environmental legacy, but we wanted to do something now that would be a tangible memorial to Kathy in the community. We will be planting a flowering dogwood tree near the southern end of Northeast Park (near the home you shared with Kathy) this coming Tuesday at 10am.

It has been an honor to participate in Kathy's life and her end-of-life wishes.

Peace, Susan Marynowski

TREE PLANTING (Flowering Dogwood) In Memory of Kathy Cantwell 10am Tuesday August 10, 2010 Northeast Park near NE 13th Ave by Sustainable Alachua County

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kathy's bed in the sun room

Kathy spent the final weeks of her life here in the sun room. It was also Kathy's final resting place at home when she was laid out and readied for her burial. It was here that we did the ceremonial preparations and wrapped her body in her shroud before transporting her to Prairie Creek Preserve.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From Miranda

Miranda wrote this after Kathy's memorial service at the church and sent it to me since I wasn't there. Thought some of you might like to read it too.

sometimes when a friend or loved one dies there's a painfully bleak,
gray space in the world where they once were
the space left by kathy this week is vibrant, full to overflowing with
inspirations galore, splashes of loss, a myriad colors including every
shade of gray, and small explosions of joy
her memorial tonight was a testament to her tremendous presence and
commitment to life

for those whose spaces are full to overflowing Mary Frye says it best
Do not stand at my grave and weep..
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry..
I am not there. I did not die.


Miranda Castro

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kathy's Service

It was a beautiful and true service. For those of you who were unable to attend the service at UCG the room was overflowing. There was sadness, but there was also a sense of celebrating Kathy's life. Sandy and Larry Reimer captured Kathy in her true spirit, her generosity, her humor, her grace and of course her accomplishments. They spoke to Julie, giving her strength as she goes on with her life. Now of course for each of us in our own way comes the work of going on without her but keeping her inspiration alive.

Below is a picture that Tammy Briar took as we walked the trail at Prairie Creek Preserve on the way to Kathy's burial place. (Click the photo to enlarge.)

Please feel free to continue to share your thoughts and feelings here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

tomorrow evening's service

We welcome all of you who are moved to come to the memorial service for Kathy tomorrow evening. I was asked to inform you that if the UCG parking lot is full, we have been granted permission to park at the Lutheran Church located one block west of UCG on the south side of 5th Ave.

We have been in an intense private bubble these last weeks, and look forward to seeing you all, and sharing in our sadness, and our celebration of Kathy's wondrous life.

Kathy's Memorial Service:

United Church of Gainesville
Corner of NW 17th St and 5th Ave.
Thursday, 7 P.M.

Going Green

I was fearful driving towards Kathy and Julie's yesterday morning. How would it be to see Kathy - just lying there dead in her own house? When our friends and loved ones die, we usually see them in a hospital or a funeral home - never decked out with flowers and candles and with a cat at their feet. But that was the scene and it was lovely. Kathy lay sweetly on the hospital bed that had been set up in the sun room. Silk scarves of ever color were draped over the windows. She held a straw rose and a newly opened lotus blossom. Pogo, her ever faithful cat companion, lay at her feet. Julie was seated at her side.

Her mouth which had been open for so long as she struggled to breath, was closed in a small smile. One eye was slightly open. She was still keeping an eye on us. Lorelei and Julie and I don't know who else (Randi?) had bathed and dressed Kathy at hospice for her journey home. She was adorned with the shroud that Lorelei (and Marilyn?) had made. It was muslin and covered with bits and pieces of Kathy's green group T shirts. The fingers of her right hand were folded under as always but her left hand - which had been so contorted in the last few months - was open and relaxed. She looked so calm, relaxed and peaceful.

We scurried around running in to each other, making final plans to unite Kathy with the earth. The plan was to meet at Prairie Creek Lodge. Calls were made in between quiet moments of sitting with Kathy.

We met Judy, Nancy and Marco (the donkey) at the lodge. We put Kathy in a small donkey cart that we had covered with flowers, ferns and palm fronds. The procession headed out for the 3/4 mile trek from the lodge to the burial site. Kathy lead the way, we traipsed behind - sweltering in the heat. I had imagined a solemn procession but it was more of an amiable amble. People talked, walked and sweated. It was a beautiful walk sometimes over shifting sugary sand, sometimes - crunchy oak mulch. Hawks flew overhead and dragonflies accompanied us. An owl swooped by and showed Tammy and Lori it's beautiful face.

Here's a picture from when Kathy visited her burial site a couple of weeks ago.

Susan, Freddie, Ivor and Ben had prepared the burial site. The earth had been hard and resistant to opening up for Kathy. Susan remarked that it was strong - like Kathy. Marco stopped next to the hole they had dug for Kathy and she was place over the grave on slats.

Sandy and Larry from United Church of Gainesville were there with us. Sandy lead us in a beautiful ceremony. Psalms and poems were read. We sang a short song and Kathy was lowered into the earth. We covered her with flowers and fronds so that the dirt would not fall right on her body and we began to shovel the earth over our friend, leader, sister, lover.

It was sad but not shatteringly so. The pain of loss has been part of us for two months now. This was just the next step and then of course will be the next step... living without her.

She had a wonderful life, filled with love and incredible accomplishments. She worked hard to save the world and make it a better place. The influence of her life both as a doctor and an environmentalist will be felt for decades to come.

We cannot say often enough how much you have helped and how supported Kathy, Julie, family and friends have felt. We feel the love.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Memorial Service this Thursday

A Memorial Service is planned for this Thursday July 22nd @ United Church of Gainesville 1624 NW 5th Ave. Gainesville, FL at 7:00 PM. A reception will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Putnam Land Conservancy and/or Hospice.

Crepe Myrtle

We would like to cover Kathy with flowers. If you have a beautiful crepe myrtle in bloom we could use some blossoms. We have a bucket on our front walk of our house. My address 1704 nw 10th ave. We will be leaving home by 2:30 so if you can drop some by before then, it would be great.

To everything, there is a season

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

Kathy passed quietly in the night. Both Julie and Lorelei were there to witness her last breaths. They say that she looked very peaceful and was breathing softly.. and then just stopped.

She will be buried today in a private ceremony. There will be a service at their church, United Church of Gainesville. Details to follow.

Julie is a private person. She has stood strong all during Kathy's "share it with the world" passing. Please let Julie have some time to process. We know that you all love and Kathy and will be mourning her passing but please refrain from calling the house or Julie or stopping by .... for a while. Let's let Julie have some peace.

We will keep you posted.

Once again, thank you all for being there for Kathy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Time to rest

Kathy's doctor suggested to everyone today that Kathy may be lingering because people are around her and has suggested that we leave her by herself for a while. It makes sense and certainly people are tired but we will feel a loss not being together by her side.

Julie and Sue (Kathy's sister) kindly request that no one visit Kathy at Hospice.

Once again, thank you for your kindness.

We will let you know how it goes.
I Believe She's Amazing Flash Mob - Toronto Eaton Centre Kim MacGregor organized this flash mob of 200 dancers to launch "I Believe She's Amazing" in honor of her friend Erika Heller who passed away May 28th, 2009 at 31 yrs. old...this is her living legacy.

This is dedicated to Kathy by Carol Gordon

The vigil continues

Ten of us found chairs, loveseats, floorspace and recliners and stayed the night with Kathy at hospice. She was ashen and her breathing was irregular with scarily long pauses. Her pupils were tiny pinpoints. Some have told us that she is already gone and it is just the mechanics of her body, slowly ending what it has done so well these last 60 short but amazing years.

We slept fitfully thinking surely someone would shake us awake to be with Kathy at her last moments... but she continues to surprise us. She continues on.. just a little longer.

We thank you for your love. You out there who are reading and keeping your own vigils. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, poems, videos, kindness and once again love.

We have felt your love. It has been a extraordinary experience watching Kathy leave but feeling the tendrils of the community reaching forward in every direction to help us help Kathy. We have had to make several calls to people we don't know or barely know and they have often said something like...."I love you all even though I don't know you."

How lucky are we to be living in Gainesville with so much love around. As Kathy often said in the last few weeks, "there are no words to describe it."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Entry from Lorelei's Journal

Entry from Lorelei's Journal:

July 17, 2010

Today may be the day. We are holding vigil at Hospice, we feel that she can hear us, she sounds very loud, she is holding on loudly. Randi called me last night at midnight to see if I should come, I waited until this morning to be relief. Jules didn't sleep at all. Sue is here now. She is reading to Kathy and crying her heart out. I sit quietly across the room lest I interfere with the passing, lest I inadvertently call her back to this drab world.

Driving here, I saw a box turtle trying to cross the road. I passed it and then came back to help it to the other side. When I picked it up I saw that its underside had been cracked and grown back together. The tortoise is Kathy's spirit animal.

We will sit in this room waiting and praying and crying and loving her until she passes and then we will begin all of that again. Words cannot express being in this room with her, with the last bit that hangs on to this world, the grasp on each one of our spirits. I feel that she has said goodbye, has loved us all, has finished her loose ends, and realized her projects.

Now we wait, and are tender and loving, for her to leave, to go to the light. I miss my dear friend. Our beautiful, philosophical conversations, our support and comfort of each other, the love and the heartbreak we have shared. The love of nature, the experience of nature, and crossing over into each other's realm, the intellectual to the visual seen through each other's eyes. I am grateful for knowing her, it has been a privilege and is a great loss.

Give her peace, free her beautiful spirit, let her rest, and move into the light, flying, moving freely, unimpeded by her broken wings, let her pass in peace. We love her so. Make her whole in spirit.

We sit in vigil. We wait and love. She can hear us and she can feel us. She can feel the love. God take her sweetly without any more suffering. She has suffered for years for us. She has made a better world, and if I didn't know better I would think you a cruel God, but I know I am blessed for having known her, and will keep the light of her memory forever and I will shine this light in the world in tribute to her and the love she has given us.

and one more thing

We are sitting around hospice right now just talking and Tammy reminded me of one of the last things Kathy said and it's important so we thought we should include it...

Yesterday just as Tammy was leaving for the evening Kathy looked up and said..."I love you" and this was followed by "I kicked ass today." Amen to that Kathy, you always do.

Nearing the end

I was to leave this morning on a two week vacation but Randi wisely counseled me to make other arrangements as it appears that Kathy has decided on leaving us soon.

In the last several days, Kathy has really become less and less a part of this world so it is hard to believe (but she is Kathy) that yesterday Mimi and Tammy got Kathy outside! She drifted in and out but she knew what was going on and was obviously happy to be outside. While they were still outside someone, (Will?) said that he had had Satchel's pizza for lunch. Kathy got excited and said that she wanted some for dinner and tried to get them all to get in her van. Truth is at the point, she couldn't swallow. It sounds sad now but it was a happy moment. It just shows how irrepressible her spirit is.

When she returned to the room, she started to drift away. We moved close to the bed and kept telling her that is was OK, everything is OK, it is all good, you can go to the light, you can let go. She would mumble after us, repeating the last word, OK OK, good, good. She said she was ready to go to the light. The night nurse arrived and introduced herself. Kathy's eyes popped wide open and she moved her hand as if to shake hands and said "Hi, my name is Kathy". She drifted deeper. She mumbled words we couldn't understand and then drifted further away from us.

She no longer opens her eyes or responds to us but we are staying near to see her to the end. Kathy appears to be in a coma. Her breath is labored, and her color not so good. It's hard but we are really all ready.

Kathy has chartered a path through this experience that I hope we can remember and follow when it is our turn. We have talked together about everything imaginable - things that pertain to life and the leaving of life. We have spoken of failures and successes, joys and sorrows and song selection details for her memorial. Kathy and Julie reviewed their loves and losses together. Tears and many laughs have been shared and we are now, so near the end.

Kathy will be buried shortly after her death. She will be, as many of you know, the first green burial in our area. There will be a small private ceremony where we will plant the "leader", our Kathy, back into the earth that she so dearly loves. There will be public memorials and we will post that on the blog as the details unfold.

Miranda has been posting a few poems by Mary Oliver. The one below, she posted as a comment but I wanted to include it in this post so that everyone would have the opportunity to read it.

Sleeping in the Forest
by Mary Oliver

I thought the earth remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Dear Ones,
Our faithful and brilliant Shirley will soon be taking some days off and I am trying a test run for when I take the helm of this amazing blog she created. I am here w Shirl at hospice and we are helping Kathy as they work on getting her pain level down. They let us all come in and hang here with her, and we are greatful for that. She should be going back home in a day or so...we are picking up those wonderful meals and bringing them over to her. And believe me, she (and we!) enjoy them immensely. Thank you Dottie and Jane for last night's lasagna---fantastic! Kathy's sister Sue is coming tonight and we'll all be happy to see her. In the meantime, we've got a nice space here with a large window and a couple of birdfeeders at the window. Time is going by, but kathy is still definitely here with us, for now....

A bright spot

Kathy has been in a lot of pain. The hospice doctor visited Kathy at home and spoke frankly of her condition to Kathy and the team. She feels that Kathy's time here is very limited but that she could be made more comfortable if she was in hospice for a day or two to get her pain under control. Kathy and Julie agreed to the plan and so Kathy is now at hospice.

Kathy's speech had become a quiet monotone. She has told us that she sees 6 of everything so she keeps her eyes closed most of the time. She hasn't been smiling - her face has a kind of a frowning/questioning look. She seems gone a lot of the time... you think she is sleeping but she isn't always. Sometimes she is listening and she is still really plugged in...

When they first arrived, the a staff member was asking questions about Kathy's meds. Julie and Randi were filling her in. Evidently though, they weren't completely correct so every once in a while, Kathy would pipe up and correct them. She had the morphine pump button in her hand and was pressing it every couple of minutes. Julie looked over and told Kathy that she didn't have to press it that often. Kathy said, I know, I am just practicing!

A large group of us gathered at hospice around dinner time. Kathy was laying stonily on the hospital bed. When I kissed her, she didn't respond. I made a comment.. still nothing. Then maybe a minute or two later, she responded. It was chilling to see the leader like that.

OK ... the bright spot. The pain meds must have started doing their magic. Kathy's eyes were open more and she started engaging a little more. It was Julie's mom's birthday. She was in the bathroom in Kathy's room and when she came out, we all yelled surprise and started singing Happy Birthday. Someone pointed at Kathy and we looked over and there she was, laying in bed, eyes closed - singing Happy Birthday. It choked me up so that I couldn't sing anymore.

A little later, Kathy picked up the morphine pump button and started talking into it... "I guess you all wonder why I have asked you here tonight." She then proceeded to give a little joke speech to us which included something like "and this is the best morphine mic ... and ended with "and just one more thing" which is something Julie teases her about saying. You can look at the previous posts and see where Julie posted an image of Kathy's hand, finger raised saying Just one more thing.

So great, we have Just One More Thing from Kathy and it was good.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Life is eternal....

Thanks to a post from Karen Ahlers...

Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. ~ Rossiter W. Raymond

Life is Eternal is also a song by Carly Simon. Here are the lyrics and
video link:

I've been doing a lot of thinking
About growing older and moving on
Nobody wants to be told that they're getting on
For a long, long stay
But just how long and who knows
And how and where my spirit will go
Will it soar like Jazz on a saxophone
Or evaporate on a breeze
Won't you tell me please
That life is eternal
And love is immortal
And death is only a horizon
Life is eternal
As we move into the light
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight
Save the limit of our sight

Here on earth I'm a lost soul
Ever trying to find my way back home
Maybe that's why each new star is born
Expanding heaven's room
Eternity in bloom
And will I see you up in that heaven
In all it's light will I know you're there
Will we say the things that we never dared
If wishing makes it so
Won't you let me know
That life is eternal
And love is immortal
And death is only a horizon
Life is eternal
As we move into the light
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight
Save the limit of our sight

Monday, July 12, 2010

Slip sliding away

"Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away." Simon and Garfunkel.

Going back to the image of Kathy and the rest of us adrift on a life raft... Kathy's on her own raft now. We are still tethered or as Carol would say, "rafted up" but the ropes that are holding her here are unraveling.

I got a call from Randi last night. She was worried because she could not reach anyone on the phone. When I couldn't get anyone either, I raced over there really worried that I was going to arrive at the house and Kathy would no longer be with us. Instead I came upon a quiet scene of family tranquility. Kathy was in her new space - the hospital bed in the side room. Julie was laying down with her head in Doug's lap. David and Gary were sitting in chairs. They were all happily watching a movie. It was so peaceful and quiet. It was so normal seeming.

Kathy speaks in a quiet voice and is losing track of time. She drifts in and out but she still knows us all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A litte trouble breathing

For a couple of days now, Kathy has been having trouble breathing. Her thoughts continue to be off and on "fuzzy". Julie ordered oxygen for her. We will see how it goes.

They were going out to the lake today but I don't know if they made it. Kathy was in a lot of pain. She took some pain meds which wiped her out. They were waiting to see how she felt after the she roused from the meds.

A couple of days ago, Lorelei had the great idea of putting a hospital bed in the day room. It's Kathy's favorite room, windows on three sides. It's as close to being outside as you can be while still be inside. Pam ran out and got curtain rods and scarves to drape on the windows so Kathy could still have some privacy. Julie ran out and got a couple of new bird feeders and we stocked them up and put them right outside the windows of the day room. It was sunny and nice. Kathy enjoyed it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A patch of rough water

Kathy and everyone else is feeling pretty exhausted. We are having our ups and downs. The visit to the lake houses seems like it went well but Kathy returned pretty tired. On Tuesday she decided that it would be a good idea if she went to Hospice, just for a day or two to give Julie and the rest of the care giving team a break. On Wednesday, they got there and realized that Kathy would be in the room by herself most of the time unless one of us was there. So that didn't work out. They packed up and come home really discouraged, tired and emotionally spent. The reality of seeing hospice, even though it is a lovely and caring place, was an emotional reality check. It rocked our little life raft.

There was a big meeting that night. Pam remarked that it has been exactly 7 weeks since our first meeting when Kathy told us she needed help because she could no longer transfer by herself.

In many ways, that seems a short time... and in many ways a very long time.

There is not a lot that we can report right now. Kathy is "listing" to one side a bit more and tends to close her eyes and drift off on a regular basis. She often says that she can't tell whether it is the drugs or the brain tumor but her thinking is getting fuzzier.

I wish I had a happy note to end on. The only thing that I can say is that with Kathy, you never know. Hopefully we still have a few bright moments ahead of us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Down but not out....

Kathy has remained in bed for sometime, not having the strength (or desire?) to be moved to her chair. A couple of evenings ago though I got a call.. here's how it went. --- "Hi, my computer won't work. I can't connect with the internet. Why can't you fix it? I have the brain tumor, not you." This was followed by a evil chuckle.

She was up and on the porch. Hanging out with the gang and enjoying the evening rain. Nice.

Lorelei has also been trying to get Kathy to go for a float on her lake. Kathy said it was just too much trouble and Lorelei rejoined with something like... what else do you have to do right now? So they did it. They didn't actually make it into the water but they had a good time enjoying the day from Lorelei's lake house porch. Laughing and listening to the rain. Crying probably too a little just because we almost always do.

They then headed to Kathy and Julie's lake place and spent the night there. Pretty good for someone who wasn't getting out of bed anymore!

a post from Michael Lehtola

Hi, I'm Michael Lehtola. Kathy and I went to medical school together at UF in the '70s. I just want to be updated on things. I spoke to Kathy on the phone last Saturday. It was great. She was her old self on the phone. Witty, upbeat, at peace obviously. We shared a little tear together. I do love her so.

My partner, Bruce and I live in San Francisco, so it is not possible to make a quick trip to see her. I only found out about this when Kathy e-mailed me just a little over a week ago to let me know this was her fate. Needless to say, I was devastated.

I have been following the blog. That helps, too.

Whenever you are with her, whisper my greetings and love to Kathy with a nice kiss on her forehead! If only I could do that myself.

Take care.

By the way, do you know Donna Burnell? She was a longtime resident of Gainesville but now lives in Dunedin, I believe. I hope she is aware of Kathy's condition. I don't have an active e-mail or phone number for her. We used to be close friends, but time and distance have changed that, unfortunately. Ask around and see if anyone else knows her contact info. I'd appreciate that favor as well.

Michael Lehtola

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life isn't easy... neither is death

Maybe that is a dreadful title to this post but I think it pretty much reflects the general mood of Kathy and the gang.

Right now, life if relentless for Kathy. She wants to be gone but her body is hanging on. It's hard - even with all the love, friends and support. It's really hard but she still is Kathy.

She is still managing her life.. sometimes more, sometimes less. Last night she picked up the phone and I came in to hear her talking to a tenant about rent and the utility bill that was overdue. I heard her sayiing, "yes, this is Kathy. I have been ill so things are a little disorganized."

It's so frustrating for Kathy. She is completely dependent now. She has reduced the amount of steroid that she is taking. It won't make her leave any sooner but she will be less present. I questioned her about that yesterday and she said that she would rather be "fuzzy" than completely here.

When I kissed her last night, she said "there aren't words to thank you all enough. I keep saying it but there are not enough words to describe my thanks."

Thanks for your help and love.

On 6/25/2010

We all went to City Hall last evening in Palatka to receive the proclamation for Kathy - Mike accepted it. The mayor read the inscriptions on and plaque and did a very eloquent job - the words were well written. We were sorry that Kathy could not accept this in person.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Letter from Julie to all

Kathy is sleeping at the moment, so I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your expressions of love and
support for Kathy and me. When writing this post on paper first, I started to make a list of people and the ways in
which each of you have given to us. It became obvious very quickly that so many of you have given of yourselves in
so many ways, too innumerable to count. All of you have given according to your individual personalities, vocational skills, and creative expression, some in time spent with us, many behind the scenes, with delicious meals, etc. Each of you are individual expressions of divine kindness, compassion, and love. None of these acts are unnoticed by us, and Kathy and I are filled with gratitude and love for each of you.

Kathy continues to be pain-free (mainly because of the methadone and morphine). Her physical body is failing but her spirit remains strong. I don't know how much longer she has on this earth, but she is very "ready to go", and very much at peace. The experience of this process for those of us left behind is quite different for each of us. As you can imagine, for me, this has been incredibly difficult emotionally. There has been overwhelming grief, fear, anger, on the one hand, on the other, tranquility and peace.

Kathy and I have had the last month to say the things that needed to be said, express the things that needed to be expressed, and do the things that needed to be done. Now, we can just 'be". This is a rare opportunity . We both feel very blessed to be able to have this time together.

Spiritually, this experience has been and will continue to be transformative for all of us, in ways unimagined and unpredicted. It is an incredible journey, this death process. It's mind blowing and heart opening. So, thank you all for sharing this experience with us. We love you all.

Julie and Kathy

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

post from Kathy

I love you Luz. Love what you said. Sorry that I can't write more. Tell Rich that I love him. Take care of him. No more to say...nothing more profound to say

Kathy is still in control!!!!

Tuesday... been out of town

Sorry to have stopped posting for a while. I was out of town but I see that people have been busy commenting and sending their thoughts and energy to Kathy.

I have not spoken to Kathy or Julie for several days but as I understand it, things are still pretty much the same. Carol called to tell us all that Kathy has called a meeting for tonight so we will all be gathering over at the house at 6pm.

We will let you know.

Will you post this. I know is not well written but is a way to put my feelings ... Thanks...Love Luz

There was a story
About a beautiful woman.
She was so special
Everybody wants to dance with her…

When you dance with her
You fell the peace
The joy
And the light.

Everybody wants to dance with her…

One day
She was tired of dancing
But she do not want anybody sad,
Anybody to stop dancing.

She decide to trick them.
She said: Closed your eyes ,
Imagine I am in your arms when you touch a child
Imagine I smile when you see a smiling person
Imagine I kiss you when the rain is over you
I will surprise you in every fresh herb
In every flower blooming every day
I am going to be there.

Still everybody wants to dance with her
But I imagine
All the love
I imagine you will be with me
In my heart
In my soul
In every heartbeat
And I will imagine you every day
Love you Kathy

Luz 6/27/10 Culebra , Puerto Rico

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quick update... Thursday

No real news to report. Kathy is still comfortable and everyone is working hard to make the time go easily. There are daily ups and downs. Kathy seems to tire more easily and has said that she is not taking any more trips. I guess we will see 'cuz with Kathy ... you never know.

I finally saw Avatar, the movie, last night. There is a scene where the doctor/scientist is wounded and dying. The hero is carrying her to this beautiful place to see if the people there can heal her. She rallys for a moment, looks around and says, " I should take some samples." It reminded me so much of Kathy.

One last note - brother Rich sent a 19 pound bread pudding overnight from Puerto Rico. Kathy ate so much her stomach hurts.

From Karen Ahler's granddaughter

When I visited with Kathy she and I talked of my three year old granddaughter, Laurel, the newness of her spirit with fresh memories of the Source. Yesterday, Laurel noticed that I had replaced her picture on my computer desktop with an image of Kathy and wanted to know why. I explained to her that Kathy was very sick and Laurel offered to pray for her. A very heartfelt “talk to God” followed asking for healing and relief from pain followed by an amen. She started to walk away but quickly turned back saying that she had forgotten something. She asked me to tell Kathy not to be afraid, that it would be alright because “we are all there to take care of her.”

I hope there is some comfort in this message from Laurel. Please give Kathy our love.


Karen Ahlers, President

Putnam County Environmental Council, Inc.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Poem for Kathy

Richie and Kathy’s poetry
Was really quite bright
I will try the same
As it feels only right

I tried to get attention
My cancer was no rumor
Now you’ve gone and beat me
With a little ole brain tumor

Everyday I go to radiation
And fry my right titty
So now I will get affection
With this silly little ditty

Kathy I love you
My sister-in-law friend
This life is almost over
But the next will never end

Your dad and your mom
And your big brother too
Are all waiting patiently
To say welcome to you

You’ll walk and you’ll run
And spend time riding a bike
You’ll spend every moment
Doing things that you like

No pain and no sorrow
You’ll feel only pleasure
knowing this as your truth
Gives us something to treasure

We’ll take care of Julie
And make sure she’s alright
Maybe she’ll learn to relax
And not be so uptight

When our lives are through
For each of us you’ll appear
And finally it will be happiness
Causing all of these tears

In the spirit world we’ll laugh together
I’ll see you Kathy I know its true
In the meantime my boob will get attention
It will be magnificent to steal it back from you!

Love You Kathy! Leslie

Monday, June 21, 2010

The life raft

Dinner spreadsheet

I don't know why but sometimes you have to refresh (or reload) the page if you get an error or are asked to sign in when you click on the link.

A poem from Kathy to Rich

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I was here first
You know that it's true

I'll be first again now
but in a blink of an eye
you'll be here with me too
in time for a sigh

Here time seems to crumble
there is no first or last
You'll be with me always
as you were in the past

There's no words to tell you
Just the feelings you know
I love you for always
The connection still grows


Saturday, June 19, 2010

From Randi.... Saturday morning early

A group of us accompanied Kathy to the prairie today (north rim) where we were met by a ranger who guided us onto the trail by jeep, followed by Kathy's and Julie's van---all the way down to the observation tower.  Prairie still had a little bit of morning dew just beginning to evaporate off, and slight touch of a breeze.  Kathy was overcome with emotion to be in the midst of her beloved prairie, so alive with every bit of overlapping lifeform.  Willie carried her right up the top of the observation tower and once we were up there we all were excitedly exclaiming away---woo hoo! look at the great blues!  look at the whooping crane! where are the bison?!  blah blah blah  until Kathy finally beseeched us to shut up and just listen to the quiet.  And then we heard the sandhills chattering, the redwinged blackbirds squacking, the gallinules peeping, the cicadas making their cacophonous racket....  The white lotus flowers were in full bloom everywhere standing taller than I've ever seen them, the purple of the pickerels punctuated everywhere we looked. We saw a small swallow giving hell to a large blackbird midflight forcing him right out of her teritory.  Kathy had a big beautiful cry with Julie up there on that observation deck seeing, and smelling, and hearing so much.  There was a lot of beauty and wildness in the stillness all around us, and a lot of emotion in the air as we quietly disembarked from the tower and started for home.  We all knew just how lucky we are.     Randi

Life Raft - drifting into the weekend

First a little bit of housekeeping -
  • Kathy has a huge heart and doesn't want to turn anyone away but please, please do not come over without contacting someone first to see if she is up to it.
  • I put the Dinner link on the side bar of the blog if you want to sign up.
xxxoo from Kathy and Julie.

We are still just out here floating around together. Kathy is still the leader and still giving directions but our little life raft is being steered by currents beyond our control and it is not bad. Our world is cool and we have plenty to eat and drink thanks to many of you out there. We drift and occasionally pitch and toss.

Last evening when I arrived, Kathy smiled a kind of an evil grin and said she was having "roid rage". Too much steroid in the mix makes her pretty anxious/angry. Luckily I missed that storm. Everything was really great. Nancy McIntosh and Judy Martino were a hit with their manicotti and flan. Everyone was full and smiling. Nice.

As we gathered around Kathy in the big bed. I picked up small stories from the day. Kathy awoke weeping which I guess has been happening a little more often. She is most sunny with a chance of rain. She seems to be worrying less about the mundane details of life - checking accounts, bills, projects, etc. She admitted to being scared sometimes of what is beyond our vision. She said that sometimes when she can close her eyes and just let go, she feels the wonderful place, the place of love and compassion that she visited during her near death experience immediately following her accident. She is frightened about letting go but happy to be going to this place where she truly believes that she will be happy.

We floated awhile on the big bed of a life boat. We visited old memories and friends. Kathy told us some funny stories from her residency and spoke kindly of Mel Greer whom she regarded as her mentor. She talked about her death and the fact that she feared she might have a seizure. She told us all what to do if she did so that we wouldn't freak out. We asked about her brain and how she thinks things will happen. We tossed gently from one topic to another.

Julie brought Kathy's pills to her and Kathy kind of grilled her about them. At one point she took a pill out of her mouth and they had a discussion about dosage etc. As you can see, she is still very much on board with us.

Julie has been really amazing. The first week or so of this trip, she seemed completely overwhelmed - and really - who wouldn't be? But there is something really different now about her. She has a calm kind of almost smile on her face much of the time. Really, even before all this happened, most of us would not describe Julie as calm. Julie has always been a bit of a worrier and just possibly, having so much to worry about has pushed to a new place, her own spot of calmness amidst the turbulent motions of our raft.

It is a journey and it is not fun but the wonderful thing is that we are all holding hands, holding on to each other to keep anyone from falling overboard. We shift our weight as the raft lists to one side, someone gets too tired and someone else moves in to reestablish our balance so that we can continue this journey with all safe on board.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wishes from Kathy

We had a good evening together last night (Tuesday). Kathy (and everyone!) is eating well and she seems happy most of the time. Being without pain has made a world of difference. She is taking a fair amount of medicine and she is sometimes a little fuzzy but she is still Kathy and continues to want to steer the ship - giving directions and making plans.

Last night she said once again that she really wants to use this time to promote fighting "nature deficiency disorder". She is especially adamant about trying to get kids out in nature. I told her that I had not put any links on her blog to other sites because I thought her blog was too intimate. She then had me write down a list of programs that she wants everyone to know about and support. So here it is!

  1. Cultural Arts Coalition
    The Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC) developed as an outgrowth of the Annual Fifth ... of the rich African American culture of Gainesville through the arts. ...
  2. Girl Power -
  3. Environmental Ambassadors
  4. Inner City Outings - Sierra Club
  5. Little Orange Creek Conservation Historical and Educational Center. (LOCCHEC)
One last note. We have heard that Kathy will be honored by Alachua County at their regular meeting next Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

From Rich (Kathy's twin)

From the same ticket holder!

I trust you
I see you
I feel you

I know you are a seeker.
You know I will support you,
on your adventure
to see things better.
We must fulfill our nature to create.

IT, always sees the right answer.
We will help those who tell the truth
from their heart.
We will protect those who understand.
Breaking and exploring the limits
of honesty, is to be a true crusader.

To make all the parts fit and be inclusive
you have to be a master at answering.
To be supportive you have to wait
until the person is asking the right question.

We fight the battle
We shine the light
And hope there is no way
Things will be dark


Is it Tuesday?

It's hard to keep track of time. We are all floating along together with Kathy - just enjoying each other and watching as things fold and unfold.

Today Lorelei came over with a dark pink nail polish. It had a special name something like "you are the kabuki". It was her ingredient to add to mix of today. She did Kathy's nails, then mine, Julie's. I can't remember if she did Randi's. It was a small gift to us all. And there are so many people giving them. Carol takes the recyclables and trash to her house when it starts to spill over the top. Randi drops by to help Kathy write. Julie and Sue do everything. People bring scrumptious food every night. There are too many people to name right now though I hope that we will all take the time to celebrate the generosity that this community has shown.

Kathy is at still peace but it has changed. She was at peace before but in a hurry to leave. Maybe it is that she is finally not in pain or maybe it is just another step in the process. Whatever it is, it is good.

She has also regained the use of her left hand and arm. The steroids are probably responsible. The problem is, they also make her cranky so she and Sue and working to find a balance.

Tonight's plan is to go and see the sunset over Bivens. It should be fun. Kathy was in good spirits when I saw her earlier in the day.

We make plans but everything changes so we will just wait and see and watch as the next gifts fold and unfold.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Evening

Stopped by after work. Ed, sister Sue's husband had left today, and a gang was assembled -another party.... They were scarfing down Ellen and Matt's burritos. Kathy raved @ how delicious it was :) Kathy was full of humor, but a bit foggy. Not too foggy to notice I wasn't 'quite right'. She said I worry about you - 'let go and be @ peace'. How could you not listen...Seems to be my new mantra. Shirl girl got Jane Windsor's photo card for the pictures she shot Saturday morning - so I look forward to the next post!!! Love, Carol

Another Sunday

Kathy and family/friends went to UCG again this Sunday. I wasn't there but I was told it was another good service. Kathy was greeted once again by many well wishers. The troop headed back home after that and had a mostly quiet day.

Julie went upstairs to try and catch up on some sleep. Evidently Kathy was really thristy all night and kept waking up. She kept telling Julie that she wasn't in pain which is of course wonderful.. it just ended up that Julie was quite tired in the morning.

Lorelei, Patty and Kathy spent some time hanging out in bed. They called me and asked me to bring over the dvd of my birthday party (yes we video tape everything!). Kathy got the super "Ham" award for that night. Sadly, that was the last event that she took part in before the whole tumor thing started to kick in. I can imagine the three of them though, laughing with Kathy about her performance. And not just her.. Lore and Patty were great in the skit as well... just a big group of hammy friends!

The hospice doctor comes today to adjust Kathy's meds. She is really happy to be pain free but it is making it hard for her to think clearly and that is frustrating for her.

Yesterday, when she thanked me for bringing over the dvd, I said "goodbye, see you later". She smiled and said with a little look ... "that's a good way to put it."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saturday Morning Journey

As we drove towards Prairie Creek Ranch this morning, as we began to drive on the ‘back roads’, I began to feel this is truly Florida in its most beautiful manifestation. It’s what you hear in the Florida Folk songs…how lucky we are to have it preserved in our own back yard. A gorgeous duckweed covered pond skirted the dirt road, that lead to an open green pasture. A magnificent oak tree was standing sentry, as we drove up, as if to safeguard this sacred ground. This, fortunately, has been protected – forever -and this will become the final resting place for Kathy. Kathy, thank you for your courage to lead our way for green burials in Alachua County. I love you and will join you, Carol

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Green and Peaceful

We love Kathy and want to her stay but we have all moved forward with her and are looking to how Kathy would like to be buried. I hope that you can read this with the love that we all have and not feel like it is too soon to be talking about this. It is of course, too soon. We don't want her to go but she will and she wants it to be done to the best of her ability. So today, we (including Kathy) gathered at the spot where she will be buried.

Hutch, Freddie Johnson and Susan Marynowski, of Conservational Burial Inc (CBI), have all been working behind the scenes to help make Kathy's desire for a green burial happen. CBI is a newly created non profit dedicated to providing a green space that people may rest in forever. Hutch and Freddie have been pushing paper feverishly in Tallahassee... and it worked. They received the necessary document yesterday.

Kathy will have the honor of being the first green burial in Alachua County. CBI has purchased more than 70 acres near Prairie Creek Ranch. It is really beautiful. The are oaks and wild flowers everywhere. Birds of every make and model were singing and chattering in the background. A swallow tailed kite sailed over head as Kathy and Hutch spoke about the ultimate way to "Go Green". Meg Niederhofer (City Arborist and also married to Hutch) picked out a beautiful magnolia which will be planted on Kathy's burial site. It may sound weird or maudlin but it wasn't - it was sad yes, but mostly peaceful. So it is done and we all feel better prepared to make this the journey Kathy wants.

BUT I have to add - she looked really good this morning. The hospice doctor gave her several prescriptions for pain and Kathy said that yesterday was the first day in the 22 years since her accident that she did not have pain. She slept the whole night through.. another milestone !

Friday, June 11, 2010

To all those who have contributed dinners -- What a fantastic gift and great relief it is to know there is a steady stream of dinners coming in!!! Kathy's family and her support team really appreciate all of you cooks that have delivered such wonderful nourishment to sustain us through this amazing journey. In appreciation to you all, Carol

A good night!

We are riding the waves of emotion like a ship in a storm. A call went out yesterday via Carol (our call girl) for us to all come over at 6pm. I feared the worst and tried to prepare myself. The word on the phone tree was that it was getting increasingly hard for Kathy.

Kathy was in bed with a big smile and a welcome. Wow. What a relief to get another day for all of us and Kathy to enjoy one more night together. The reason for the celebration was that it was Richie and Luz's last night with us. They are returning home today. We will really miss them both. Linda Bobroff delivered a fabulous meal and Julie went crazy ordering appetizers from The Jones. We all sat on the back porch in the heat of the night sweating, laughing and just enjoying the hours together.

Thank the stars, your god/goddess, the trees whatever. As Mimi said last night, the love and thoughts that Kathy's friends around the world are sending are making these days easier.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A little tougher

Things are getting a little harder right now for Kathy. She is in more pain and she is very tired. She and Julie are going to try and have a quiet day today - just the two of them.

They had two bigs day on Tuesday and Wednesday with lots of meetings. Kathy wants to make sure all the details are taken care of. She is so dedicated. She doesn't want to leave anything undone especially when it comes to her environmental work.

We have heard from several groups, specifically Alachua Conservation Trust and Putnam Land Conservancy that several bridges and trails are going to be named in Kathy's honor so that her work will be continued to be acknowledged for decades to come.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Monday Night Spectacular

I don't really have the words to describe last night... amazing, powerful, touching, overwhelming - don't begin to describe it.

Food and people started to pour in the doors at the Hipp before 6pm on Monday. It was hot and chaotic but everyone was easy going and patient. We just went with the flow and waited for whatever was going to happen. There was food and people absolutely everywhere!

By the time Kathy arrived at 6:30ish it was apparent that we were way beyond the capacity of the cinema. Thanks to a few words from Hutch that morning, we had decided to have the mainstage set up just in case. It seats nearly 300 and it was pretty full.

It was calm and cool in there until Kathy rolled in. The crowd erupted and gave her a long standing ovation, one of at least 3 or 4 that evening. Mayor Craig Lowe read a proclamation and honoring Kathy by declaring June 7th, Dr. Kathy Cantwell day. He then went on to give her a key to the city, an honor not often bestowed. Another standing ovation.

GRU then made a short presentation honoring Kathy with a beautiful plaque in honor of all her hard work for our community. Another thunderous round from the audience.

Hutch (Robert Hutchinson, ACT) then spoke about Kathy and land conservancy. He noted that he and several other activists met for about 3 hours earlier that day while Kathy explained to each of them what was what and what still needed to be done. And then yes, another uproar from the crowds.

Kathy then read a short speech filled with "Cantwell" power. She told us of her love the nature and the important part that it plays in her peace with the world and with her own destiny. She admonished/encouraged us to get out in nature, to take moment regularly and drink it in quietly. And she made some funny jokes.... Another long round of applause.

Julie was sitting next to Kathy throughout and had a wonderful smile on her face. The first I have seen in a month. It was great to see. Although admittedly not a public speaker, Julie rallied and read a beautiful poem that I hope someone will post for you. More applause.

People said their thanks and goodbyes to Kathy and the public part of the evening was over. Close friends and family then went down to the cinema to watch a couple of short videos. The first was one that I had made for Kathy's 60th birthday (last September). The second was the video that Patty shot of the skit we put for that same celebration. Laughter ruled the end of the evening. My cheeks were cramping from smiling.

Thank you Hippodrome (Mary, Rocky, Robert) for all the support last night and thank you friends of Kathy - you know who you are.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gainesville Sun article

Here's a link to an article about Kathy in today's paper (Sunday).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

She's doing well

I have lost track of when I last posted. Things have been really busy.

The most important thing for you to know is that Kathy is still Kathy. Her mind is still great and she has even regained the use of her left hand. She still cannot transfer but is feeling a little more comfortable. The change in meds has been good. Her plan is still the same though. She is not seeking any type of treatment. Her belief is still that she will be leaving us soon.

She has been busy at home getting things organized and talking with people. It is overwhelming and tiring for her but she is a trooper. Old friends from out of town are here and I know Kathy has enjoyed seeing everyone again.

Last night we showed some very old videos of our crazy antics from the early 80's. We laughed hysterically at parts. It was also poignant since this footage was before Kathy's accident. Some people at the house, had never seen Kathy without her chair. At the end of the evening about 8 of us ended up in bed with Kathy (yes a giant bed). We had a wonderful sweet time reminiscing about the good old days. Kathy talked about her life belief and why she is at peace with her life and its path now.

I spoke to Kathy this a.m. about her party on Monday. She said she is over the "drama" and just wants this to be a party (no tributes) and that she also wants to use it as an opportunity to promote Putnam Land Conservancy. That made me laugh out loud. Only our Kathy would use this occasion for land issues!

All of Kathy's friends are welcome Monday. Bring a dish to share and your own plate and eating utensils. We are going to try and eat at 6pm promptly (ha!) so that we can celebrate and be out of there before we wear Kathy out too much.

That's about it for now.
Kathy et al, send their love.