Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Sweet Addiction

Though I am now able to pass by the ice cream section without drooling outside the frosted doors, I do give in to temptation on occasion, like yesterday in Bloom when Breyer's was two for the price of one. I like "All Natural" the best and bought some vanilla to top hot brownies or maybe peach cobbler and, for old time's sake, some butter pecan. When I treat myself to Breyer's butter pecan it takes me back to maybe about 1960. Our neighborhood had been selected as a test area for a new ice cream, and we got a few unlabeled half gallons of butter pecan. Its consistency and slight taste of salted pecans was different from anything we'd had before. Though quite frankly we would have preferred anything chocolate, we rated it delicious. After it had been marketed in our part of the South for awhile, we knew the taste test was definitely Breyer's. I have loved just about any and all ice cream. I craved peppermint from Howard Johnson's during my first two pregnancies, and I have strayed into the wonderful flavors of Mayfield, but I have always come home to Breyer's. For too many years I enjoyed ice cream therapy as there is something comforting about the its cool smooth experience. But a few years ago, I was able to kick my fattening habit through a change of perspective. It wasn't so hard. Now I am able to eat it "responsibly."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Show and Tell

In the fall of 2007 when Judi suggested that I start a daily blog, I had no idea that I would reach the 500 posts mark, but here I am. Tada! It has been my hobby and my almost daily show and tell. It has supported my enjoyment of picture taking, especially those insects that I first recognized as lovely subjects a few years ago when at dusk I snapped a green grasshopper on a red zinnia. Jacob just asked if I there was a favorite photo of mine and I told him that one - still. "I remember it," he acknowledged. I am learning that it is not all about the camera but how I am able to use what I have. And though I would love to post pictures of all kinds of interesting people, I don't think this is a good venue for it, so I mostly stick with nature. How much I have learned from looking deeper through the macro lens! This blog has also supported my little writings of nonsense or wisdom, mirth or moments of insight. I have openly shared ideas and perspectives, which once was a tough thing for me. I have found that, if I pay attention, the days themselves are filled with enough substance not to have to opine about controversial issues. So here I am, blog post #500, sent to press.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ____

There has been no shortage of news lately. First, Greenville was proud as punch that one of its home grown boys won the US Open. Then we were disappointed that our frugal governor left us hanging for a few days when he left for a pricey trip to see his South American sweetheart. Nationally we have had the three recent deaths in the entertainment world. Our "Luv Gov" can be thankful some of the attention is being diverted from him for the time being as the state leaders mull over his political fate. At least we humans have seen what happens under the spotlight of fame, and we know about death, irresponsibility, and temptation, which are much easier to grasp in a newsworthy sense than missle launchings, the intricacies of other cultures, head-spinning trillions of misdirected dollars, the human impact on weather, or the latest battle on foreign soil.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In this corner...

That cute little yellow bug, Paige tells me, is a menacing garden pest. Who knew! On hearing this I first thought about going out and spraying my little patch with Dawn as I have heard it will take care of any garden problem. Then I remembered the green praying mantis that we had seen climbing about the tomato plants the same time the cucumber beetle was there. (The mantis's stealthy moves prevented me from getting what I considered a blogworthy photo, but here he is anyway.) Maybe he was just waiting for an opportunity to have yellow bug for a snack. We will see. I am not one to mess too much with Mother Nature, and besides, it will be educational to see how it all works out.

Duty and Joy

On Friday when my paycheck comes, I will see if the extra work of the past few weeks has been worth it. I have been a busy nurse. Our beds are filled, and the whole place has been in a bit of a tizzy because of Joint Commission's long awaited visit. I must admit I find the whole Joint thing counterproductive, a good idea whose time has passed, but they set the rules and we must know them to - metaphorically - play the game. That is the way it is in a hospital. I enjoy my work but also wish I could be spending more time with Jacob who is visiting. When I got up late the other day, he had already been up for a while. "I was doing yard work," he told me. I was impressed and thankful! This evening he took me to dinner and was so cool as he paid for it from his grass cutting earnings. Tonight I feel both tired and blessed.

The Story Behind the Flower

It has now been twelve years since I worked as a home health nurse, an experience I wouldn't change for anything. The company that hired me had not had a psych nurse before, and from the reception I got at first, the capable medical nurses there were dubious about what I could contribute. Eventually however I settled comfortably into my role, visiting psych only patients as well as some of their patients who were difficult to handle. One of theirs, an elderly woman who called the office practically every day with questions or complaints, was handed over to me. I do not remember her name, but she lived alone out in the country and was quite a spirited chatterbox. She loved her yard and was especially proud of her day lilies and their beautiful double flowers. She offered me some, I accepted, and one spring day I dug up a clump and took it home to my own yard. Then when we moved to Greenville I brought some with me. The patient has probably long gone on, but each summer when her lilies grow tall and bloom I remember her interesting personality and the lasting gift she gave me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


On the back of a T shirt.It's true. Dogs are here for one reason, to love us unconditionally. And cats? They just don't want us to know that it is true for them, too..

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's this?

That little pocket camera has provided endless entertainment for me!

Passing by...

For some reason when I ride by a row of mailboxes, I always want to stop and take a picture. For once I did

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Couple of Parks

South Carolina has a lot of nice state parks and I have visited only a few. So today the hubby and I decided to check out a couple that were less than an hour's drive from our house. The weather was not too hot, the air was still, the sky gray. Would we get caught in yet another noisy afternoon downpour? We didn't, but from the wet ground and raindrops we found in the parks, it must have quietly hit the mountains instead. First we took some country roads that led to Table Rock. We stopped at the welcome center, enjoyed the nice chairs and swings that overlooked the peaceful lake, and then drove around where the campsites and cabins are, stopping only when we saw a turtle crossing the road in front of us. I was going to pick him up and help him on his way, but when he saw me he started scurrying in fright to safety. Here is a not so good picture of what is probably a very pretty sight when the sky is blue and the gray clouds aren't covering the sun.We got back on scenic Hwy 11 and in a few miles turned to drive up a more winding road to Caesar's Head. We got out and walked around and learned that visitors must take their own trash away. No leftovers for the many black bears, please. Rhododendron, orange day lilies, and blue trillium were blooming amid the lush greenery and the bees were in heaven. I had no idea that rhododendron flowers were so beautiful. Their flower buds are clustered (a truss?) and in this photo, only one flower has begun to open.
Now that we have reconned the areas, we just might go back and spend more time. It was pretty relaxing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Omnia Vanitas

That darned mirror. Every summer I see more and more physical changes that go with aging. First I must say that I don't mind aging, in fact I am thankful for it and like where I am now, but youth and middle age...everything fades. I must have been in my early twenties when I first noticed the little indentations in the skin between my eyes. Silly me. I blamed it on squinting during a time at the beach when I didn't have sunglasses. One year I was shocked to see lines at the corners of my mouth and vowed to smile more so they would turn up instead of down. I have adapted to thinner hair, drier skin, and chin hairs, but last night was really sad. As I was washing my face before bed, I found that my formerly luxuriously long eyelashes had become stubby. Did it happen suddenly? Or had I been spreading the mascara on so hurriedly and systematically over the past few years that I just haven't noticed? All is vanity. I am sure no one else noticed either.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

to work

This has been a busy work week for me as I try to cover some shifts of my vacationing peers. I am thankful that I still want to work and find it interesting. Maybe it is the thrill of not really knowing what will happen next. That is the nature of psych, why some hate it, and some tolerate it, and some feel a higher calling to do it. More life stories and curious behaviors await me this afternoon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hide those tats!

It's pretty hard to go anywhere, especially now that it's summer, without running into some yucky images on shoulders, forearms, hips, breasts and other body parts that were once considered private. gross. I don't understand tattoos. Why? I am standing in line behind a young woman who has a cobra tattoed on the back of her neck, and I ask - why? Some tattoos look like the unfortunate person has a bad bruise and then I realize the bruise is there to stay. Why? And why, if you are a non-Asian American, the indelible, eternal mark of a Chinese symbol? I have had patients who say getting tattoos is an addiction. I have had conversations with young women who feel tattoos make them different, special. Why? Don't they realize when each of us is special and unique enough? Men in undershirts/tank tops showing off their multiple tats, women in low slung pants with permanent hip decorations, low cut tops showing roses on pendulous breasts. Cover them please!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Good work fellas

The carpet cleaners have just pulled out of my drive and I am left with damp but spotlessly clean carpet. Floyd who must be close to my age and his friend from childhood have not bought any big name franchise, but have stayed in their small business by consistently doing their best. As the saying goes, it is a great thing to do a small thing well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


For several years now there have been articles, books and television personalities encouraging us regular folks to find our passions. I don't know how other people are doing on their quest but so far I haven't identified my one. The quizzes and soul searching have led me nowhere. If after years of self examination we are left empty, does that mean we are guilty of being boring, inept, unsuccessful, or worthless? Does it mean we will always have suppressed creativity or ideas yearning to be set free like a butterfly from a cocoon? Should we feel guilty? Van Gogh had a burning compulsion to paint. Elvis had to sing. Edison had to invent. Donald Trump has to be a wheeler-dealer. Now those are passions! But how do the other approximately 99% of us passionless people manage to find pleasure in living? We are "generalists" I think. We are free to do and to enjoy many things, to let our passions move about. While I am thankful for the people who are either blessed or cursed with driving forces to create and discover, there must also be people like me to enjoy their art and music, to use their tools and inventions, to learn from their teachings. Maybe being a generalist in passion is OK.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Live love

Though not as often as in the past, we at work still get into conversations about deeper things in a person's head, and this is some of what came from it yesterday. We were talking about love and unhealed emotional wounds, the down side of love where rejection, loss, hurt and abandonment reside. When we love, and it is a natural thing when we first attach at infancy, we unwittingly set ourselves up to vulnerability, and because it is the ones (beginning with childhood playmates and parental relationships) we love, the ones we are most deeply emotionally invested in, the ones we hope in and hope for, who can cause the most pain. So how do people handle this? Maybe the maladaptive handling of the feelings of lost love is what we see in our depressed hospitalized patients and also in our medical patients. How do people respond to losing - for whatever reason - love? Have they become a rock or an island as described in the old Simon and Garfunkel song? Never to feel or to fully live again? Do they hold on to an anger that causes all kinds of mental and physical problems? Deny their pain or loss? Become reckless, not caring about their own lives? Live out their lives in regret? Let grief rule their lives? Shut down in fear of other relationships? The best thing is to process, let ourselves feel the hurt and pain, let go, adapt to the changes, and get back into life's arena. Love is far above anything else that is important in life but it also has a flip side. Kubler-Ross said she found that loving and being loved is all that matters at the end of one's life. There must be some reason why only one vowel separates love and live. Since we humans live to love and love to live, we must fearlessly keep it up.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This or that?

What should I put on my blog? hmmm... Sometimes it is easier to write a few words but not today, so I figured I would roam around the yard in search of a photo op. After all it is the sunny month of June, when flowers are blooming and the world has splashes of color. I found buds just about ready to pop (lovely), some interesting fleshy mushrooms (yuck), small tomatoes that maybe in a week I will savor (yum), a spider emerging from its cocoon (cool), and finally, lots of bees swarming all over the lamb's ear (ouch). I may not be a beekeeper but I hope my yard is doing its part to maintain them. The bees were so "flighty" that I could not entice one to be still for very long, and when one dive-bombed me, I remembered how allergic I was to their stings in the past, and I was outta there. So tada...the decision for today's post goes to this tiny winged insect on the fuzz of the lamb's ear.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Going and Staying

We have been to see the snowy egrets in Florida and family right here in SC and now are home for who knows how long. My little dog won't have to be left with the vet and the cats will be freer to roam for the next few months while we say put. As we get older, vacations can be anytime, not just when school is out, and that's pretty cool. But there is still work that we we must plan around. So for now...heigh ho, it's back to work I go.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

...and the livin' was easy

Each summer I try to see how long I can go without turning on the air conditioning, and I have made it til today so far. If it were running, the windows would be shut, and I would hear its annoying murmur when I wake up instead of birds that sing their prettiest in the cool sweet mornings. My reluctance to turn it on admittedly has something to do with my economy, but more, it is because I love summer, at least the first part that starts when school is out no matter the equinox. My head still holds many a memory of happy southern summers before home air-conditioning: short shorts, cold drinks, dirty bare feet with polished toenails, Coppertoned legs, laughter and hope, freedom, pools and beaches and sandy towels, friends I loved, getting sunburned, lightning bugs and drippy banana popsicles, picnics, knowing my mother was there for me, stubbing my big toe, swatting flies, sweating. OK...so there had to be a down side, too, but looking back, it was all good. Even now I still love to hear the noise from children at the neighborhood pool and the ringing of the bell on the ice cream truck, feel the sun on my skin, drink iced mint-lemon tea and eat potato salad, watch the garden change and grow, and remember the long summers of my younger years. How can I do that with the AC on? What fun is that! Every day the same in a controlled temperature? It's not for me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Positive Side Effects of Prayer

When I was a little girl, I remember seeing Mama, my grandmother, kneeling by her bed in the morning or at night quietly reciting the Lord's Prayer or giving thanks to God. She set the example and taught me to do the same. For me, head down, eyes closed and hands folded, it began with "Now I lay me down to sleep" at bedtime. As I became an older child, not wanting to leave anyone out, I made it my own by asking God to bless not only my family members one by one but also all the animals and all the people I didn't know and would never know. Prayer has been perhaps the most essential part of my life, and when the going got rough, I headed to that place beside my bed to meet with God. But there are many days when no big decisions are being made or the road doesn't seem hard, and I get into my earthly duties instead, bypassing that special time. Not so good in several ways.

The results of some scientific study are often in the news showing that beyond providing peace and hope, prayer increases life span. That's great, but unscientifically I contend prayer is also good for some of our physical ailments as well. Back problems plague almost every human to some extent. When we kneel, the spine and its attachments stretch and bring gentle sustained exercise to our overworked backs. And when we shut our eyes, they are getting rest from the dust, sunlight, computer screens, general use and are refreshed. After all, each of us is just one organism, all the parts working together, and God who made us knew our needs from the start.

Monday, June 1, 2009

First, the Inspiration

When I read a biography as I am doing now, Edison by Matthew Josephson, I am most interested about the beginnings of the person's life, where they came from and what sorts of early experiences they had. I like to see how thinking and behaviors take shape and form patterns. The Edisons could be described as a free-spirited, adventurous family, and "Al" was his mother's baby, her seventh child, born when she was middle aged, according to the bio. He had only three months of official schooling and was taught primarily at home by his mother, which was a good thing as she saw his imaginative bent and allowed him to follow it. By the age of ten, he was all about chemistry and absorbed in the experiments he performed in his own lab in the basement of their Michigan home. Josephson wrote ". . . his mother had accomplished that which all truly great teachers do for their pupils: she brought him to the stage of learning things for himself, learning that which most amused and interested him, and she encouraged him to go on in that path."

Edison was passionate about his interests, but more than that, he was a diligent, studious scientist, hence his famous quote, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration....I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident. They came by work." But he first was encouraged and supported by a loving and wise mother.