A Blessing for the New Year

My personal goals for 2Ø2Ø:
– write more
– release more
– move more
– explore more
– try forgiveness on for size

A Blessing for the New Year

Might we
move through this day
carry words
some heavy – like beach rocks
in sweatshirt pockets;
some light – dancing and touching down
like moths near a light

Might we
carry the warmth
that comes with being listened to;
having our words, thoughts, experiments,
released and tested in safe surroundings

Might we
be inspired by shared secrets
intimate laughter

We might
I feel that we will

~ K. Applegate-King


Matches for the Thaw

A thaw.
A gentle melting of the inflexible,
a slow turn towards a warmer season that promised to come.

My grief,
has been a winter.
The short days, just when I turn myself to see the morning light and
realize, that if I manage to rouse myself,
I can participate.
I can move a bit forward, feel myself
start to warm and thaw.
But then, too soon,
the sun is already dipping.
I’ve lost my momentum,
that bit of tangible hope and energy I felt
has already escaped me.

Wet at a campfire
only a few matches left,
and a crappy Circle K lighter
that doesn’t really work.
But what does one really expect for 89¢?
Then I remember,
I’m the girl who always carries the Well-Stocked Emergency Kit.

Go back. Look again, I tell myself.
You’ll find more matches.

~ K. Applegate-King



Sweet Release

Sweet Release 

I released myself today.

A message sent quietly
which I know will surely leave
an explosion,
an unknown number of aftershocks.
Little tremors as news spreads
shaking flimsy walls.

I spoke my truth
I set my limits
I reminded myself.

I released myself today. 

It’s quiet now;
What does a captive animal do
once unleashed, uncaged?

The outside smells fresh, and crisp.
Winter is near, and
according to the calendars
it’s the time of endings,
closings, burrowing down.

But I am an animal with my own clock.
I will create my own spring this winter. 

I released myself today.

                               – K. Applegate-King


Guest post: Lumber the Gentle Hearted One

While Nurse Apple is taking a brief pause, we’re featuring a post from a special guest author: Lumber, the Gentle Hearted One. We hope you enjoy.

Hi, my name is Lumber. I’m 8 months old, I weigh 55 lbs, and if I stand up straight and tall on my back legs, I can just about look my mama in the eyes.
Today was a super fun day.
My papa was working at the store where they sell paint and garden supplies, and my mama had to go to her work for just a little while to learn about EPIC computer upgrades for Home Health Hospice. (Whatever in the world that means- I stayed home by myself and listened to classic rock and napped. One of my mama’s friends asked which classic rock band is my favorite… Three Dog Night, of course!)
Then my mama came home to get me and take me to the river to exercise me. She was hosting a gathering at our house tonight, and wanted me to be calm and relaxed on my best behavior when people came over to meet me.
This was such a great idea! My mama knows how much I love the big park.
I wasn’t in much of a swimming mood today though… today seemed like a good day for digging.
I’ve been in the house a lot recently; it felt really good to run and run and dig for treasure.
These photos were taken about an hour before my mama was supposed to have her people friends over… I had such a nice surprise because my papa showed up at the park to meet us so I could stay and play for a while longer.
By the time I finally got home I looked really good, and smelled super awesome.
My mama even had some cheese and crackers out on the kitchen counter just for me when I got home. She knows I love the fancy goat cheese with sun dried tomato and basil!
The gluten-free crackers weren’t my favorite, but I ate some just to be polite since some people had some on little plates on their laps that I figured were meant for me… I didn’t want to be rude.
Some people sure are surprised when I show them my trick where I can jump up tall and kiss them right on their faces! I like to surprise people with my love like that; people need more love. And tongue. Everyone needs more tongue.

— at Sellwood Riverfront Park.


Hospice Nurse Diaries; o3.03.2o19

I recently attended a Grief & Loss Writing Workshop, which provided me the space and time to start writing again after months of emotional constipation. 
The following is the result of a writing prompt, with a twelve minute allotted writing period. Only slightly edited and cleaned up, mostly raw, the way the words emerged. 


Unread Sympathy Cards

It has been 9 months already since my father died ~ almost a year with very little space to hold him quietly in my own private thoughts.

My writing practice died when he died; the rush of the merry-go-round I couldn’t get off didn’t allow for it.

I became a Hospice Nurse 3 months before he died. No time to grieve, no time to sit with my loss. Straight back to the work of nursing other patients, other families.

Always reminding myself to not let my story interfere with their stories.

Giving others the space that was not given to me.

He’s in a better place now,” were the words on the first and only bereavement card I opened and read.
Fury. I felt fury reading those words.
9 months later, the rest of the cards and notes lay unread, wrapped in a plain blue ribbon at the bottom of my sock drawer.

My husband, and my 18 year old son ~ Bob’s only grandchild ~ read the cards as they arrived to our home. They were not just for me, after all. But I could not subject myself to reading another.

December 15th, was Bob’s birthday. I had thought that perhaps I might read them then. But no. I wasn’t ready.

May 1st will be the anniversary of the day he died. Maybe that will be the day.

Tiptoeing back into writing.

A few weeks ago, a day in Salem at the Oregon State Capitol reminded me that my writing is not just a middle-aged woman’s means of personal self-care and catharsis, but is actually an important tool for my public Nurse Advocacy work. But that type of writing, the type that’s done for lobbying and providing citizen testimony for state legislators, requires a great deal of restraint, professionalism, organized thought. I’m not quite there yet.

Today, I attended a workshop ~ The Labyrinth Path: Writing and Walking With Grief & Loss, presented by Anne Richardson, M.A., a Portland based chaplain, certified spiritual director, labyrinth facilitator, and poet. This half-day workshop did something for me that hours of therapy, meditation, and other attempts at Grief Work have not been able to do for me over the 9 months since my father died. Via a small, intimate, group setting with poetry and writing prompts, the ink in my stagnant, sad little pen started flowing again today. Solidly, in a way that felt well-paced, and comfortable, and exciting.
(To learn more about Anne, her workshops, retreats, and spiritual direction offerings, visit her website: Nurture Your Journey)

I will be sharing a bit of my writing from today’s workshop here in Nurse Apple’s Adventures in coming days. Pretty raw, and mostly unedited. Like my life, and much of my End Of Life work, that’s the reality.
It comes in quick, unexpected, waves; I approach it with real reactions. I encourage and try to allow others the space to do the same. The older I get, the more I work with death & dying, the coarser the mesh on my filters get. More stuff gets through. I think in the long run, it’s the healthier way.


The last piece I wrote this afternoon ended up being a poem. Of sorts.

Emergency Kit

A thawing. 
A gentle melting of the inflexible, 
a slow turning towards a warmer season
     that was promised to come. 
My Grief has been like a winter,
in many ways. 
     The short days: just when I turn to see the morning light,
that if I manage 
       to rouse myself: 
I can participate. 
I can move a bit forward, feel myself start to 
     warm & thaw with those movements.
But then too soon ~ the sun is already dipping. 
     I’ve lost my momentum, and that bit
     of tangible hope & energy I felt
has already escaped me. 
     Wet at a campfire; only a few matches left
and a crappy Circle K lighter that 
     doesn’t really work. 
But what does one honestly expect for 89¢?

Then I remember: I’m the girl 
     who always carries the Well-Stocked Emergency Kit. 
Go back. Look again. 
You’ll find some more matches. 






A Visit In A Dream

Bob King Diaries; O8.o4.2o18

Yesterday was Bob’s grandson’s 18th Birthday.
The kiddo was up in Port Townsend, Washington, at an acoustic music summit with his papa.
The mama, was home in Portland, doing the Hospice Nurse thing.
One of the mama’s oldest, dearest, friends died yesterday. A lovely woman, who had driven from Portland down to Bend, in the summer of 2000, to visit the then pregnant mama.
The mama, hearing earlier in the day, from her friend’s spouse about the death, tried desperately to get off of work for the afternoon and evening.
She wanted to sit quietly by herself; to honor the passing of her friend. To visit her memories of Bob, who died a few months back.
But there were staffing issues, and a high volume of Hospice patient need. She not only couldn’t take the day for her own private needs and grieving, she ended up having to work a little overtime.
It’s what happens, it is the business of Death & Dying professionals.
The mama went to bed late, unable to connect with any of her living people. There were no tears, just exhaustion and numbness.
And then Bob King came to her in a dream in the night.
He went with her to a Quaker Meeting (which never, ever, would have really happened). And during that Silent Meeting for Worship, Bob rose and spoke. (This also, never, ever, would have possibly happened.)
In the dream, Bob rose from his seat, and told the group of gathered people about his love for his daughter. About his appreciation for her.
It was brief, and quiet, and sincere.
She woke late in the morning, and only remembered the dream after she had been up for a while.
In that dream, Bob had been the steady, quiet, sincere, loving presence he had always been for his daughter. Comforting and real.