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Monday, December 1, 2008

A Moment of Appreciation

“How very little can be done under the spirit of fear” ~ Florence Nightengale

I took these photos on Saturday (unfortunately that sunshine and blue skies I told you about have succumbed to grey and dreary weather today). I myself have succumbed to a little cold so am home sneezing. (ps. Jamba Juice Coldbuster is a nice idea, but certainly not a preventative.)


Laguna Honda Hospital is one impressive place, sitting atop a hill with views that extend all the way to the Pacific. I love its 1920s architecture, although I learned the hospital was established in 1866 as an almshouse to take care of the Gold Rush pioneers. You know how I love this sort of knowledge. The Boy says that Bing Crosby and Bob Hope used to perform Christmas shows here in the auditorium for the hospital's residents. Now Laguna Honda is a long-term care facility and rehabilitation center that takes care of the poorest residents of San Francisco, who suffer from AIDS to Alzheimer's and everything in between.

The stylized statue portraying feminist and nursing pioneer Florence Nightengale is beautifully designed by Swedish sculptor David Edstrom and was made a gift to the hospital in 1939. There's something about the sparse, clean, no-nonsense lines of this woman's statue that suits the memory of her. I love the sweep of her gown, her neat hair tucked into her cap.

I remember reading a biography of Florence Nightengale when I was in college, or maybe even high school. It was at the beginning of my penchant for all things Victorian, and my adoration of Victorian-era women, adventurers and crusaders of all sorts (some women, some not). Florence Nightengale in particular made the world a much safer place by almost singlehandedly creating the role of the professional nurse in a time when the vicious Crimean War had the doubtful distinction of being the first "modern" war. And women definitely had no place in such a scene and were vehemently opposed when Nightengale first started her nursing activities. But Florence Nightengale never gave up: "I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any excuse."

I have two young friends on their way to careers in nursing and thought maybe they would enjoy a little history of how their much needed and wonderful profession began as we know it.


I only mention this next tidbit because it made me laugh today. It has absolutely nothing to do with Florence Nightengale. My baby sister, mother of the famous Little Curly Girl and her new sister, Princess Chubness (until I make up a better name), is also home sick today. On the phone, her voice sounds like little Gremlin who's sucked on a helium balloon. By contrast, I sound like a picture of health.

I sent her an email because I do feel today, if Sneezing were an Olympic Sport, that I would at least have won a silver medal, if not gold. My sister has outdone me. In her reply, she "would medal in the Smelling Like Spit-Up Olympics. Also, the Most Days Wearing the Same Clothes Olympics."

Her Olympics are so much more hardcore than mine. I am giving her my Medal in Sneezing because I am in awe of her Mom-ness even while having a horrible cold. I post her reply here because 1) as a new mom, she never has time to read my blog, and 2) even if she does read this, she won't mind that we're laughing because she's that cool.

And she makes cool kids.


affinity December 1, 2008 at 6:41 PM  

I stole your photo and your quote, hope that is okay. Fabulous work, thank you so much.


Anonymous December 1, 2008 at 6:56 PM  

History always remembers those who refuse to give up in the face of adversity.

Great post.

Limerick Tango December 2, 2008 at 5:01 AM  

Florence Nightingale refused to give up in the face that she was wrong. She did not believe in germs, she believed in cleanliness. Which was unfortunate because it was the foetid sewers running underneath the Scutari hospital that was responsible for the 40%+ death rate. It was only when the London War Office sent out a sanitary commission that the sewers were flushed and the death rate tumbled. Facing up to this fact caused her to have a mental breakdown and live the rest of her life as a recluse. Not that Florence herself ever lifted a finger. All that she did was raise the status of the common nurse above that of whore.

Seek out instead Mary Seacole who ran the 'British Hotel' at Kadikoi. A woman who was turned down by Nightingale, even though Florence was two short of her intended 40 nurses, because of her half Jamaican complexion. Mary provided basic nutrition, remedies for the ailments of the camp and even ventured out onto the battle field to provide first aid to the fallen.
She did what she could and for those she could not she gave comfort.
"Many a man was later to confess that his most abiding memory of the war was that of Mother Seacole, seated by the death-bed of a young solider who was comforted by the illusion that the black breast pillowing his head was really that of his mother." - William Russell.

Yoli December 2, 2008 at 9:23 AM  

My husband is a Trauma/ER nurse. I respect the nursing profession. Not everyone has the heart or guts for it.

Love the quotes, needed to see them today.

Christina December 2, 2008 at 3:01 PM  

I used to want to be a nurse. ; ) I think about what life would have been like, if I had. I love the compassion that a good nurse can have.

These pictures, are wonderful!

She is growing... and smiling! I love that. ; )

robinbird December 5, 2008 at 8:29 PM  

ok..ok.. now i admit i didn't read this entire post because when i come here i get all discombobulated about where to start first...so i saw the baby and that grabbed my attention.. not the baby but miss chubness i mean. and i read what you had to say about olympic gold medals and sneezing and giving your sister an award for her mom-ness in the face unimaginable challenges..like bad colds and dirty clothes.... and you know what dear? you are just one of my most favorite people in the world to read. you have a heart of gold and a sense of humor that doesn't stop..ever... which is a trait that has me in the palm of your hand every time.

i am starting way backwards here on reading your blog and this is the first post i have read today (friday night).. i will be back tomorrow to go forward... you know what i mean. but i am real glad my little livyloo met the need that was in your heart today. she is a girl after your own heart sweetie.
i hope you are cold free very soon.