Matters of the Heart, Texas

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

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Our first foggy morning on the "Oasis"…

I wish I could elaborate on "romance", "true love" as I hope many have found when using the word "heart", but it is not so. This is about the physical aspect of my own heart. I guess the Dr was right just a few days ago wanting me to undergo many tests. My body decided to get a head start and welcomed me instead with some real trouble early morning. I have a solid background in heart problems! I am a pro in that matter. Many heart attacks throughout my 30’s and early 40’s, not truly pronounced till I was 45, finally undergoing true tests as Dr’s realized that this was beyond an ulcer, but a true "the big one" as they call it. Ironically I was sailing about 30 miles off shore when it happened, in the company of a Friend that had no clue what even a boat was. Karma was good that night, the water was like glass and the full moon lead us back to shore, after cutting off the two expensive anchors I had deployed. But who cared at the time! Small loss compared to saving my Life.


Two uncomfortable years later, at 47, I underwent 5 bypasses. The good Dr wanted to label it "6" but ran short of time. I use to smoke and that of course went out of the window. "Fright" was a strong sentiment throughout those times, very strong. The years went on, Lance got sick and seven years ago cigarettes became again my Friends… "good Friends" as the Dr told me just a few days ago with a frown. But sometimes one does not care so much about themselves, not much else to loose when all has already been lost but one’s self. The peaks and the valleys, it is all part of our daily Life.

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Spirit, always air born and showing off! Always looking at me… or is it the camera?

A couple days ago, after, what I know now again, my "last cigarette", that same icy wave that starts at the toes and slowly cripes up the body made its presence. That is when the circulation slows down to a crawl, major traffic tie up at its best. As I thought this could truly be the end, I said good bye to Spirit, stood up and waited. There is no phone call that would have helped me at that time. But again, as I am still here to write about it, Karma spared me my going away and changed my path. The icy wave stopped at my waist and slowly diminished leaving me short breathed and, as I knew at the time, with a tremendous high blood pressure.

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This was the right time for a phone call now! A phone so newly installed as I thought and thanked my Helper to have waited for it. I cannot imagine what would have happened without it.  I called my Friends and neighbors, Voni and Paul, to find out if they would drive me to Alpine, 60 miles away and harbor my buddy! She had a better idea and called the local Ambulance from Terlingua. Paul came and gave me a ride to the road where Voni was waiting and where shortly after the Ambulance showed up… just like in the Movies… how embarrassing.

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Above photos courtesy of Paul!…

I was not feeling so good… not at all. Blood pressure up over 170/130… much anxiety… but the awesome present team had it all under control. Tubes, beeping’s, shots, alarms, siren, I don’t remember much of it but I do know that the ride was smooth and my hand was held with comfort the whole way. Randy was the driver… the best one they had as I sure hoped so. He is also the karaoke man at the local establishments and I am the one that cooked his steak last year every Tuesday when I worked. That might have been worth something! The Hospital? well… they brought it all under control but, with such limited knowledge of their Dr’s, there has not been any conclusion and I am waiting for a call to get on with the Cardiologist and find a path that will allow me to resume again a normal and healthier Life.

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I knew this day would come. The signs have been present for a while, cigarettes, hand rolled as I smoked, or commercial, well, they only knocked me out most of the time and I sure do miss them now specially in such instances after a meal or with my morning coffee. It is gum now! Much gum and more gum… One day at the time. I doubt it very much I will ever go back to them as even now my coffee does not seem to be agreeing much anymore! This is a good time to finally change some of those habits, whatever the excuses have been which undoubtedly were good ones, much needed ones. It all depends on the fact of how do I want to now live!… Spirit needs me as much as I need him. I started thinking how unhappy he would make me if he started smoking! Never thought about it that way before…

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D of the D f  

Yesterday was also ironically the celebration of "The Day of the Dead". I did want to be part of it as a I figured I would be either way. Not quite in the mood for some rig riding, I caught a ride with Voni and Paul who where driving, and left Spirit behind for the couple hours we were gone. It is an odd celebration, specially for me. Again a couple days ago I realized how fragile Life is and walking around last evening, throughout this ancient cemetery, I was thinking… one minute we are up and the next we are down. This Journey has made me witness such diligent work taking millions of years and still in progress, and as I read the tombstones realizing we are only here for such short time comparatively speaking… the bottom line is, it brings up so many thoughts about so many aspects of our own Life.

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D of the D l  
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It was a fine evening taking some photos as best as I could. The food was abundant and darkness fell rapidly but comfortable enough for one T shirt. We will be going to Alpine tomorrow, moving the "White Elephant" in front of my Friend’s house as right now I don’t feel very smart being so far away from it all, specially from a Hospital. Calls have been made, I am getting set up with a great local Cardiologist and I am sure that soon some answers will trickle down toward the path of "Good Health".

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There is more about the "Day of the Dead" and one of my favorite recipes… will save it for next time. It is rest time!

Just another Day at "The Oasis"? Not really…

Help us keep the site alive. Please contribute… I use to ask if reading this site was worth 1$ a month, loose change truly. I do again. This site has been far from being a free Journal as it was at one time!

Two years of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In "Your Favorites", in "States", some labeled "first year" and second year", now also "Texas the third year". Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun.

Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order a print all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload on the Gallery.

Be well, always.   Ara & Spirit

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28 Responses to “Matters of the Heart, Texas”

  1. Heidi Says:

    Ara, beautiful photos as usual!! Love the one of Spirit kicking up the dust!! Quite a beautiful Oasis you have there. Sorry to hear about the health scare!!! Hope you’re on the road the recovery soon! Huggs, Heidi

  2. jeff Says:

    Wow, Ara, I am so glad you have decided to get back on track. The quiting smoking is very tough, but you must do it. I was just thinking about going back and looking at your rebuilt motorcycle pictures and saw the new post. Now you and the motorcycle are going to be as good as new. Take care of yourself.

  3. Debbie Says:

    Ara, Do not give in to smoking again. The health issue that I wrote the other day that has kept us from traveling was on Nov. 3 of last year I got up in the middle of the night and passed out. Ended up with a heart issue. I too smoked heavily. I quit on Nov 3 and am now 1 year smoke free. Not easy, but made it a little easier with “Chantex”. If you have pres. coverage you might want to check it out. If everyone will contribute a little more right now, Ara can get the Chantex. It is $100. a month and he will need it for about 3 to 4 months. EVERYONE , give a little more right now. It does make it pretty easy to quit. I am your age and have smoked since I was 15 years old, so it was time to quit. I pray everything works out for you and the the good Lord puts you back in your saddle again soon.

  4. admin Says:

    Thanks you all… as they say in the South!
    It will all work out, I am not done with this Journey yet! The “non” smoking “IS” hard only at times. Ah! where is my gum… I have never smoked indoor or at work or driving, so… totally against Nature clean air!!! Isn’it?
    Be well… Ara & Spirit

  5. James NomadRip Says:

    I quit after 25 years of smoking like a brushfire. I’m sure you are like the rest of us at times, and figure “why not?”, but you are important to more than just Spirit, and there is still much to live for in this life. Be well…

  6. John Wells Says:

    Ara…I heard the news 2 days after I met you at the Grub Shack. Happy to hear it was not our first and last meeting. Looking forward to getting to know you and Spirit.

    …your bearded desert brother.

  7. Neil (M1tch) Says:

    another smoke free person here Ara. gave it up after 20 years, and now 15 years later i am damn glad i did. take care, and get well, then (quote)be well…..M1tch

  8. Louise Says:

    Ara, I am so glad that you survived this wake-up call. My heart raced as I saw the photos of the ambulance. I hope you know that you have friends who would miss you very much should the worst happen.

    In lieu of bringing flowers to the hospital for you, check your PayPal for a little something to help with expenses. You probably have more doctor’s visits and make sure you don’t run out of the GUM!

    I would never dream of making you change any part of your life, but hope you will choose to stay off the cigarettes. Do it to play with Spirit with strength, do it to taste your food with subtlety, do it to extend the time you can enjoy the beauty of the land.

  9. Zelda Says:

    Dear Ara,
    Take care of yourself now, follow Dr.’s orders, we don’t want to lose you!
    … the nomad wannabe’s from the North

  10. Garry Says:

    I quit smoking so many times I was an expert on it. But I wanted one every day, at last I wanted to not smoke more than I wanted to smoke and asked the Lord to take the desire away from me. It is so easy to quit smoking when one has no desire to smoke and so tough when one depends on their own will power to resist the craving.

    Best wishes and I will also ask that any desire you have to smoke be taken from you. And Spirit also wants you to have boundless energy.

    Best Garry

  11. ywr969 Says:

    wow, ara, scary stuff — take good care of your ticker, brother, it’s the only one you have!

  12. Sven Peter Says:

    Hello Ara,
    its a while ago we wrote each other, today is my question:

    How much do you love life and how much do you love yourself?

    Over these 2 years you gave hope, dreams and excellent advice to so many of your readers that I feel you are fulfilling a divine task.
    I am sure there there is still quite a bit for you to do on earth. This incident was a reminder to take care of yourself but at the same time to continue to teach your lesson:

    – at a slow pace and searching for it there is so much our forefathers and nature have to teach us.

    -Attitude makes the difference!

    – the true values come from inside!

    For now rest and recover, soon we may hear from each other again.
    Good Bless you
    Sven Peter
    from Costa Rica

  13. Wendy Says:

    when a friend stopped smoking, she used lollipops – she said it kept her hands busy

  14. Jerome French Says:


    Glad that you’re still here. Happy to hear that you’re doing what needs to be done to ensure a healthier lifestyle.

    Your absence would be distinctly missed, not only by Spirit, but by your humble fans.

    I will tell you that rarely a day passes when I do not log into your site. Sometimes it’s just for the photos, sometimes it’s the stories, but it’s always a peaceful respite from the day.

    A note about Chantix, be very careful… there are definite side affects that can be harmful to your health. I’ve seen at least one commercial soliciting Chantix users, and those who’ve lost family members due to it’s use… so just be informed.


  15. Picinisco Says:

    It is the fear in us all. The heart. It is in us all and it is what we give to all. And it keeps on beating. These days we know what we SHOULD do to keep it that way but we take it for granted. Your heart is big Ara (metaphorically speaking – I hope). You share so much. On three levels. What would you do without it. What would Spirit do without you. And selfishly what would we do without you both. Take care Ara. Slow down a bit. Take time for your self and get well phisically and spiritually. If I was a religious person I would pray for you. So that in itself is a prayer.


  16. Brady Says:

    ara: I hope your heart is mending well, I weekly look forward to reading your stories and looking at your amazing pictures,You are amazingly gifted.I find a since of peace in how you write and display you site. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. brady

  17. Pat Conner Says:

    I said a prayer for you last night. Take care of yourself and Spirit.


  18. The Artful Adventurer Says:

    Friend Ara,
    You have over 970,000 reasons to live on. Not to be a burden, but we depend on you… the world needs people like you, to travel vicariously through your wonderful photos and prose. Follow orders, take the stupid pills, live clean… live on. You may not realize the joy you bring to cubical bound people… the hope you keep alive with each and every post. We need you… your work is not done, live clean, live on. Your heart problem was a gift… a gift of warning. Some (my father) had no warning… no second chance. Do it for you, do it for Spirit, do it for us. Close your eyes… rest and feel the prayers… and heal my friend. mark

  19. Denny Gibson Says:

    Today’s post wasy certainly unwelcome and scary. Take care of of yourself then tell us about it when the time is right.

  20. Dee Says:

    Hello Ara! Get well fast, we need you and Spirit. I check your site everyday.I am retired and havent traveled much at all ,i would love to have an Rv and travel like you do. But for now I do it through your site. Take care and be well . Dee

  21. Zelda Says:

    Hi, Ara,
    I am hoping this finds you with the medicines, direction and healthful surroundings you need on your way to recovery. We have a younger family member who has also battled smoking for some years. There are several medicines to help to quit smoking, such as Zyban, Chantrix and others, but by all means get the advice of your doctor, who knows your history and situation, to choose the best one for you, as they can have serious side effects. Also, a support group or quit smoking classes help, as mutual support of others who are also trying to quit provides the human touch that pills cannot. So think of us often, saying yes you can quit, it is important to us, too. Something you have going in your favor is the wonderful Mediterranean dishes you know how to cook, with the olive oil, veggies, light meats, etc. That’s good medicine! Take care, we are all thinking of you and Spirit.

  22. Rick Says:

    Hope you are feeling better. I can only ride my bike on the weekends so I check your site every day. It helps me get through the week.

  23. texascindy Says:

    Ara, rest easy knowing you have tons of people sending up prayers and good thoughts. I, too, am an ex-smoker. Almost 21 years now. Quitting smoking is easy. The hard part is not starting again. Gum definitely helps. Stay strong and I wish for you more beautiful days ahead.

  24. Claude in Pa. Says:

    I only heard of your situation today. Saw your post at the labrador site and figured I’d check out your blog. Well my friend, you ,and all of us here, have a lot to be thankful for in that you are still with us. You know I have ‘been there’ and although that alone may not give much comfort to you I can say that we both need to give thanks that we can still see one another again here on this side. The beauty that you have shown to so many through just being yourself is an encouragement to many more than you will ever know. Wake up calls are big events in our lives and we have both had some. Life here on this earth is something that is precious and God given. Life after we leave this world is something that is also God given if we decide to accept it. The beauty on the other side is only something we can dream of but the dreams can be good ones if we have made a decision about where we wish to spend eternity. Yes, we have spoken of this in times past and I can only trust that you have made a decsion that will allow us to meet again even after we leave this world. Wake up calls can mean diferent things to different people. Lets ride out our time here togehter and be confident that we will be able to ride again together for all eternity…God is good and He and I love you very much.

  25. Tony in CT Says:

    Best wishes to you Ara. Was touched by your thoughtful “goodbye” to spirit when you thought the time had come.

  26. Dave Howe in Texas Says:

    Ara, I really enjoyed meeting you and the Good Dog Spirit in Alpine during my motorcycle trip 2 weeks ago. I felt as if I knew and understood you both from following The Oasis of My Soul for a good while. I really don’t know you well but your writings & photos…your life…makes me feel like it.
    I am saddened to hear of your health problem but delighted you are taking care of it, have quit smoking, and are making sure Spirit will have his friend for a long while.
    Our time here is short, too short. Please do all you can to continue to amaze and inspire us with the story of Ara and Spirit…
    Your friend,

  27. Belinda Salinas Says:

    I had been out of town and just had the opportunity to catch up on your blog today. I am very sorry to hear about your close call but glad to know that you are doing better. I can assure you that you would be missed by more than just Spirit. I am delighted to hear that you are doing all you can to quit smoking and I like the way you phrased “that you would not be pleased if Spirit took up smoking”…that is a good way to put it in prespective.

    I like your reader Picinisco, am not a religious person but if I were I too would say a prayer for you. Take care of yourself so Spirit can continue to have his buddy and your fans can continue to follow your journey through your wonderful writings and photographs.


  28. Debra Says:

    Did I miss something in the blog??????????????? Who was your Dr. What did they do???????????????

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