Blood Isn’t Thicker Than Water

blood water

I donate blood. Not for money, not for a love of pincushions, but because I know it makes a difference. (The Australian Red Cross Blood Service also gives chocolate milk, juice and TimTams to donors afterwards, which is admittedly a sweet deal, but not my only consideration). Because I am such a fantastic bleeder, I now donate plasma – a component suspended in everyone’s blood that is literally liquid gold, precious and needed. The process is impressively simple: a needle into the vein, a tube from the needle to the centrifuge, the centrifuge spins when full, pushing the plasma into the waiting translucent bag.

Then, while I’m tucked up in a reclining chair, snuggled under a soft blanket, saline is mixed back with the remaining blood, and piped back into my arm. The cycle repeats three times, by the end of which I’ve read a good chunk of my book, have kicked back for about half an hour, and can see the sparkle and heft of 900 straw coloured millilitres (30 oz) waiting to be spun into saved lives.

Blood isn’t thicker than water. You need water for your blood to shove around your body, to be hydrated, to think clearly, to make it easier for your heart to actually beat and for your blood to move. The saline replaces the volume I lose in donating, and I’m always impressed at how faint a blush the tubing can hold, carrying my blood and salt water back to me, back to my heart. Salt water is just as important to your body as your blood is, and in my case today, I have extra salt water inside and out.

My grandfather is dying. Cancer is laying siege to his spine, attacking northwards and consolidating their sneaky outposts around his body. He went straight from diagnosis to palliative treatment, from normal routine to a hospital bed at home. This is not my Grandpa.

My Grandpa taught me about cryptic crosswords, introduced me to dry humour and quick witted conversation, and taught my seven year old self the complicated way to the local corner store to buy his morning paper (with 20 cents extra “in case you need it”). He bought me my first ever tape deck – a bronze brick of a single cassette player – for Christmas when I was twelve and told my parents to let me be so I could read. He and Grandma would argue over which of their families gave me my red hair, then each pull me aside later out of the other’s hearing to tell me it was their sister/aunt who also had red hair. “Red hair is in our family, Kel. Doesn’t matter where it came from exactly… But it came from my side…”

My Grandpa met me the week before a wedding. His son was marrying my Mum, and I was the orange haired, bobble-headed toddler that came as part of the package deal. I didn’t find out for decades that blood played no part in our relationship. Instead, I grew up confident I was his favourite and oldest grandchild, with no evidence to the contrary. Even when the truth was revealed to me ten years ago, and I broached it with Grandpa and ‘ma, they just said “We love you, so who cares?”

People care. Last week, after ten days of being softly and deliberately left out of the loop by those related “by blood”, I rang him.

“Who? Kel! Oh Kellie, how are you?” curled in my ear and eased the frostbite of fear. He knew me, was delighted to hear my voice, asked after my sons and my life. At different points in the conversation we each wheezed and rattled, but his love for me flowed through the line unchanged and unaffected by DNA strands and diagnoses, thicker than blood, more vital than water.

Blood isn’t thicker than water. You can’t live without either. Salt water of every kind is involved with all of us, in the families we choose, that we make, in the families and people that we lose. Some people give blood. Some people give love.

Blood isn’t thicker than water. The heart just wants to be full.

Which is thicker, blood or water? Why? 

Peculiar Treasure: Giving, Getting and Going

2015-02-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-seaplane-lake-float-wild-Eli-SarpilaLet’s start the week with some giving, like the opportunity to give girls the feminine focussed support they need to attend school during their menstrual period. Then there’s the Kickstarter campaign for a movie about an Idahoan farm boy missionary and his companion, a Congalese revolutionary (screen writer and producer is Margaret Blair Young) and this article talks about the multiple whys behind the movie.

Then to getting: such as these authors getting to the finalist stages of the AML awards, and Oliver Sacks’ response to finding out he has terminal cancer. If you want to get prepared for Easter, how about having your own version of Lent? The piece gives suggestions that aren’t just about giving things up, but are about getting closer to the Saviour and out of our comfort zones and habits.

Finally, let’s get going! First, an interesting take on movement being in our DNA, and how we need as much a varied movement diet as a varied eaten diet. Then there’s the creator of the Zombies, Run! app, who worried she would be called fat after appearing in her Kickstarter video, and says brilliantly “I started to enjoy being in my body. I felt better. I felt good. It is a very different feeling to be in a fat body that is moving a lot to one that hardly moves at all. It feels like love. As simple and as joyful as that.”

Speaking of simple and joyful, read how a dropped cake brought Arlene and Alan Alda together, and watch a beluga whale be serenaded by a Mariachi band.

This week’s First Draft Poetry is by Melissa Y., inspired by the Lent article:

there are times
when I would like to mark
with the ash of last year’s
the tangible black
of crumbled palms
that promises a rising,

redemptive dust
on an empty vessel

Sabbath Revival: “Choose a companion you can stand…”

With Valentines Day in the USA  just behind us, I thought this gem by Dalene back in February 2008 was worth revisiting. The original post has so many wonderful comments I encourage you to read them, but please share any thoughts you have to the comments below.  


It’s not like I attend church meetings looking for stand-up comedy, but when I happen to be indulged with a few good laughs in the middle of my worship it’s a BIG bonus. Kind of like discovering one of the kids took out the trash without being asked or finding there are five different kinds of imported cheeses in your lasagna.

Can I just tell you how much I loved the world-wide leadership training meeting last weekend? The discussion was educational, inspiring, congenial, validating (that’s another post for another day) and even funny. And the best joke was one that wasn’t even intended. Elder Oaks was talking about marriage and he counseled the single adults in the audience to “Choose a companion you can stand… Continue reading

Water, wind, earth and fire (and cyclones)

Tropical Cyclone Marcia, off the coast of Queensland Australia, taken 20 Feb 2015 by NASA

If my soul had a natural setting, it would be the densely treed Australian Snowy Mountain ranges, grey fog a draping necklace in the cleavage of the mountains and valleys. There is a particular palette of greens and luminous browns that create it, a eucalypt mossy tang to the air, a hitch of woodsmoke and rain that bundles me up in calm whenever I think of it.

Of course, nature doesn’t care much for calm.

Today tropical cyclone Marcia is creating havoc, damage and flooding all over the bottom half of Queensland, Australia. Normally I love rain – the slow waddle and roll of clouds across the sky, the countless musical ways rain can fall to earth – but today, not so much. Not only because over a hundred schools were closed in the state, not only because a delightful driver swerved into a puddle to thoroughly dapple me with a pool of rainwater as I walked by, but because too much of a good thing really can be too much.

But I do love rain, and the incredible wonders and beauty weather produces on this planet of ours (and other planets in our solar system!) Flamboyant sunsets, foggy winter mornings, moonlight sleeking shadows to silver, the dry lavender dawn that warns the day is going to be a scorcher. The tangle and ebb of the colour of oceans, the fluff and nonsense of kittens and ducklings, the curl and flaunt of flower petals. Then there are all the marvels I want to see. The auroras (australis and borealis), coral of the Great Barrier Reef, the cliffs at Calais, the hot natural pools in Finland, Irish wolfhound puppies. Creation in full throated, bizarre, exuberant song.

Too long ago I drove along a mountain road with a dear friend, where we stopped countless times to soak in the view of mountain, sky, tree and air. I stood under an aspen tree for the first time, and stood blinking hard at the weirdness, the utter uniqueness, of the sounds of its leaves. Each new corner turned would have us breathing “Wow!” or struck gloriously mute at the magnificence before us. It was a holy experience that drive, our sudden miniscule recognition and gratitude at how incredible creation really was.

So today it’s raining. Flat grey clouds dumping water without style or finesse, hiding the moon and whatever sunset may be happening far above me. But I know – as sure as it’ll rain tomorrow, as sure as this summer is starting to curl into sleepy autumn – that seeing grey for days will draw my attention and thanks to the colours and splendors that will eventually return, and sharpen my memory for the beauties I have already experienced.

“For the beauty of the earth… of the skies.. of each hour.. of the day and of the night.

Hill and vale and tree and flow’r, sun and moon.. stars of light,

Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”

(excerpted from Hymn 92, For the Beauty of the Earth)

Is there a part of creation that fills you with wonder, gratitude or surprise? Which part or wonder of the natural world do you want to see for yourself? If your soul had a natural setting, where would it be?

How can I get excited about genealogy when I’m not exactly proud of where I came from?

I keep typiRootsTech-appng and retyping the title of this post. I don’t want it to be about me– but I want to offer a sounding board for others. Everyone seems to be buzzing about genealogy these days (have you tried Relative Finder?  It’s amazing!). And I live in a place where drawing your family tree on the chalkboard in Sunday School has always been the norm.

But let’s take just a minute to acknowledge the unspoken truth– some people come from families that aren’t exactly brag-worthy, some didn’t glean knowledge and values from their grandparents. Some are desperately trying to break a cycle of neglect and/or abuse. While everyone talks about their family walking across the plains, I strongly suspect mine might have been the ones who chased them out of their homes in Missouri.

As one friend said, “I’m sure I have some good relatives; I just need to look past the generations who’ve hurt me.”

In general, how can we get excited about genealogy when when the relatives we know have let us down?