Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Deeds

“I will . . . help other people every day” was a part of the motto that I spoke in unison with my fellow Girl Scouts at our weekly meetings many years ago. It must have become ingrained in my psyche along with the common axiom that encourages us to do a good deed every day. It wasn’t hard to accomplish when I was working, but now? Not so much.

One of my favorite jobs was being a home health nurse, not one who gave IV meds and did other medical stuff but one who primarily visited and chatted. Since I have been blessed with the “gift of gab” I didn’t mind walking into a stranger's house and spending up to an hour in conversation with them. Remembering that, Monday I went to the church and offered to visit some shut ins. The pastor gave me a list of folks, all old and with varying degrees of health problems, and he placed dots by the four who got fewer visitors than the others.

Yesterday afternoon I went to visit two of them, women who were in nursing homes but who still had some of their wits about them. The first was only 77 but failing and in a wheelchair. She, a former nurse and nursing teacher, and her husband, a former attorney who was ambulatory but “confused” as she put it, share a room. He paced about the halls and did not join us. She seemed quite depressed and was slow to speak, but I could tell she was able to pull the correct information out of her brain, all but the name of her granddaughter. That concerned her. She sustained a worried stare at granddaughter’s smiling photograph speaking an occasional “I can’t believe I forgot her name,” until eventually her soft voice said, “Christina. Her name’s Christina.” What relief!

The next woman I visited was older but more quick witted and had had a series of back and heart problems that pretty much confined her to bed. Some of the staff came in while I was there, and I could tell she had established a supportive relationship with them unlike the quiet first woman.

One of the biggest things I learned when I was a home health nurse was the importance of family, especially to the old and isolated. Neither of these women had much family, and if for no other reason, I believe my visit made them feel a little special. And of course I was glad to have done my good deed for the day. Maybe I will get to the other two who are housebound soon and knock out today's good deed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer 2010 Grasshopper

It has been so hot this summer that I haven't spent any time sweating in the great outdoors looking for bugs. But the heat seems to have broken a little this evening so out I went. Taking pix of bugs isn't as easy as it looks. There is always a breeze of some sort that lifts the flowers and leaves around, and with a small bug and a macro lens, a photo is quite a challenge. But it is the subject I have to work with, and this young grasshopper is the best of today's safari.

What a little coffee can do!

When my daddy was older, he would say he started the day with his drugs, "nicotine and caffeine," as it was something he looked forward to. Though nicotine is not one of my vices, the drug caffeine does seem to be one that I enjoy. When I became a nurse, I got into the coffee habit. It was plentiful in every nurses station or office, its aroma filling the air, and I came to believe that it was a plot by administration to keep us all working at maximum capacity. It seemed to do the trick, at least for me. Though I appreciate a fine cup of java from freshly roasted and ground beans, I found myself settling for whatever was in the pot just for the drug effect. I have always attempted to avoid being dependent on "substances" and so, especially since retiring, I have tried not to drink coffee every day in spite of its therapeutic qualities. Over the past few days I have relied on teas for my early morning drink, but even the yerba mate did not seem to charge me enough. Last night I realized that the drag I was experiencing could be due to the absence of coffee, and I promised myself to find the coffeemaker that I had stashed during a house showing and brew some. My current favorite coffee comes from Costco, the organic blend medium roast in the gold bag, and I made enough for two full mugs this morning. When I am caffeinated, I tend to be over talkative and a little too animated. I can tell it's working.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Having an issue?

Per request here are some thoughts on the use of the word issue, as in, "She has some issues."

Groups of people meet and discuss certain pertinent topics (issues) that must be addressed and dealt with. News sources present to us issues that politicians are trying to work through, some new ones like the oil disaster and old or ongoing ones like civil rights. Often they are the result of disagreements or complicated, diverse viewpoints, or a conflict in belief systems.

A personal issue is similar in that it is something that hasn't been completely resolved and must still be worked through. Resolution would involve some sort of mental process such as acquiring new info, changing perception, forgiveness, or letting go.

And on an individual or personal basis, issues are more related to the emotional response - whether or not we are aware of what the emotion is - to what is happening to us or around us. We have emotional responses to just about everything, and while some are mild and fleeting, other emotions affect us profoundly in disturbing ways causing us to develop an issue. Having an issue with something may be another way of saying, "I was hurt by, upset with, traumatized by, had a bad experience with, haven't recovered from..."

Individually we may feel conflicted or ambivalent about something until we have thought through it, talked through it or whatever works best for us, until we have figured it out. A solution may be the end of one issue but at the beginning of another. Sometimes we think we have resolved an issue and then something happens to bring it back up.

"Issue" has a somewhat negative connotation, as if it stifles or prohibits a person from going forward or interferes with relationships, but it can be a good thing in that if acknowledged provides an opportunity to lead to more understanding and acceptance.

I suppose an "issue" can turn into a conflict and then a battle and then a war whether it is raging in one's psyche or waged between countries.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Amazing Word

“How was dinner?” (substitute any noun)
“It was amazing!”
“Causing great surprise or sudden wonder” is how the online dictionary defines amazing, and as the word emerges from the lips, there is usually a slight pause preceding a barely perceptible gasp, and then a wide eyed reverential surprise to accompany it, even if it was just spoken in the previous sentence in the exact same way. Everything is amazing nowadays - or else there are many people who are easy to impress and amaze. And from my observations, it has become the most commonly used adjective of the past couple of years, surpassing even the popular awesome and totally awesome. Each generation has had its share of words to describe likable things or experiences. My generation overused the word great, and I carry on the tradition. We may have been the ones to change the meaning of cool, but then as if cool were not strong enough to stand on its own, we started saying way cool. Back in the 1920s, I understand that the bees knees and the cat’s meow were today’s amazing. Since then there have been keen, snazzy, hip, neat, neato, radical, and those old standbys terrific, wonderful, the best, incredible, super, marvelous. No complaints from me. I like the positive energy it exudes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Danger: OIL

Found among the cards, pictures, and papers was this prophetic drawing by (probably) Trip. It was folded and had faded, so I copied it and enhanced the hard to see parts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I made sure I was well informed before I went to vote today, unlike the majority of the people in the other party who brought some notoriety to the state a couple of weeks ago. South Carolina has had its share of the political spotlight recently and much of it hasn't been pretty, but pretty doesn't make the news unless pretty goes bad. At least we have one fine senator here and many other moderately capable folks in office. I saw the inquisition of the Brit last week and noticed that there are other states who have some rather bizarre characters making decisions for them. So who's to talk? Since our votes can come back to haunt or shame us, we need to take it seriously and as the privilege it is.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Almost Thirty Years Later

One item I have found among my treasured papers is a small, standard issue thank you card from a young visitor who was in a touring boys choir and spent two nights in our home back in 1981. A black and white photograph of the group of about forty handsome choirboys each dressed in a long sleeved, white shirt with ruffled neck, vest, and long pants is on the front of the card. A well defined circle has been drawn around the taller, dark haired boy on one end and Georg is signed below. Inside, under some Dutch Afrikaans words, is his name confidently printed in capital letters, easy to read. In the small community the world has become, I decided to look him up on line, as I love to know how people's lives have been. He was easy to find. There were only a couple of men with the same name, but the dead giveaway was the photograph of one, an older but still handsome version of the boy in the picture. I decided to contact him and used facebook since I saw him on there, also. I wrote the obvious, that I had found the card and how he had stayed with us. I said how my sons had enjoyed their stay (another nice boy was with him) and how impressed we were that he could solve the Rubik's cube in less than a minute. This morning I got a response from him. He is now a global businessman who lives in the UK, has three daughters, and as a matter of fact was showing them the Rubik's cube that morning. He still has his diary from the trip and remembered staying with us. I think he was glad to have heard from me, to have had that memory jogged, and I was glad to hear how he "turned out" as they say. Not there there would be any doubt.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Time for Everything

It has been two and a half months since I last worked. Seems like longer. There were some things I was anxious to get to when I had the time, and now that they are taken care of...ho hum.
One item left on my agenda was my memorabilia closet, so I dived into that today. Needless to say, I didn't get far. How can a girl sort through important events in her life quickly! Not only does it hold my old annuals and special books, but also boxes of family photos that weren't good enough to make it to the album but not bad enough to be thrown away, important old papers such as my childrens report cards, and for the past almost four years, the closet has been home to diaries of my parents. I found a small one from 1945 in which my daddy had written how much I weighed on my six month visit to the doctor and when I first pulled up in the play pen. I have a sweet greeting card and letter from my Illinois grandparents welcoming my first born son, and cute hand made cards from my mother. Stuff like that must be treasured, but I can't keep them forever. I think it is time to turn some of it over to the next generation, those mid-life men I call my sons and their precious wives. I think four large, secure boxes are needed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Trip to the Salon(?)

Being that I have time on my hands and don't have to squeeze in such things as hair cuts anymore, I decided to pay a visit to LaBelle at Great Clips this afternoon even though it had been only two months. After giving my phone number as that seems to be the only way a customer can be recognized, I sat in a molded plastic chair to wait for her and started to leaf through a slick, heavy fashion magazine filled with photos of unfed and unhappy young women in unnatural positions. Not that I haven't developed an appreciation of fashion. Thanks to Meryl Streep's character in The Devil wears Prada she taught me that the color of the tee shirt I am wearing today is a reflection of the choices that the mentally stressed design community made years earlier, and I should thank them immensely.

As I waited, the four haircutters jokingly bantered back and forth while they were snipping away at male and female heads, talking trash about people they knew and customers who may have asked for special favors. I kept my nose in Elle but couldn't help but listen. We don't call it ebonics, but I doubt that anyone but a Southerner could have followed their conversation.

LaBelle finally called me to have a seat in her chair, and she wet and combed my baby fine hair then clipped it nicely. When I started going there a couple of years ago, I realized that I didn't need someone with hair like mine to know how to do it right. She said that it is easy to cut white people's hair. It makes sense.

Then I paid the ten bucks and walked to my car. As I was backing out, she ran up. She meant to ask me something while I was in there. Some abdominal discomfort. What could it be? I asked part of the litany of questions that I was glad I could still remember, and we came up with a possible answer. She had been kind enough to let me take her picture once. She is an exotically beautiful girl who doesn't seem to know it, and I had told her I had a blog and would like to put her picture on it. I had to use my cell phone to do it. The quality was not blogworthy so it never hit the big time.

Some women go to the same hairdresser for years and establish close relationships with them. I tried, but I couldn't get cutting consistency with hairdresser consistency. Now I hard could it have been! Now snip, snip and that's it, plus some cheap entertainment.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Photography by Ashley Stuart

"Did you put the pictures I took on your blog?" Ashley was wondering. Not really. Not yet. So today here are some that she took in Epcot. Pretty good for a seven year old I say.

Camel and fashion in Morocco.

Koi pond in Japan.
A formal French garden in France. She loved being in Paris almost as much as she enjoyed the rides and shows at all the parks.
Grandmommy in France. ahhh...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How does Disney do it?

Last week this time, I was dragging in from another hot day at one of Disney World's parks. As anyone who has been knows, the entire place is amazing. It isn't just the great rides and shows, irresistible familiar characters who moved and looked like the real deal, and streaming Disney songs, but it is the organization and precision that makes it run like an fine old Swiss watch. At all three parks Ashley and I visited, there was barely a fussy word heard among the sweaty shoulder to shoulder multitudes, and all of the employees - if not smiling cheerily - were certainly pleasant and helpful. There were no overflowing trash cans, long lines did not seem tiring, and there was always something right around the corner to capture our next imagination. Even the hotel and its food court, though extremely busy, were exemplary. Organization like that is way above my ability to grasp. It really is a Fantasyland.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Safe Place

My dog Tillman is not very fierce (that is unless the other party happens to be a skittish cat in the same household.) In fact he has always been quite the chicken. And on a summer afternoons when thunderstorms quickly come upon us, Tillman can get quite nervous. When he hears the first rumbling of distant thunder, his ears perk up then droop, and he heads for safety, which is always somewhere near me. I love my old four legged, one eyed friend, and I am honored that he can put his trust in me. I am glad to be his safe place. It is important for all of us creatures to feel safe and to know that there is a safe place or safe person when we need it. I used to ask my anxious, troubled patients, "Where do you feel safe? Where have you felt safe in the past?" Identifying it seemed to calm them. On Maslow's hierarchy of needs, safety is right above those things we need to sustain life. So this afternoon when the rumble of the expected thunderstorm begins, Tillman will probably be at my side, nervous but safe.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Butterfly Weed

Since this is a good place to look for insects, you may have seen this flower on my blog before. Asclepsias tuberosa is the scientific name of this bright orange perennial that attracts monarch butterflies and other bugs. I wish I had several big plants and maybe someday I will, but for now I just enjoy the one I do have. This hot morning there were several species enjoying the nectar and hopping around. Here are two of them, a honey bee and a milkweed bug in matching colors.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

In the garden today

The sweet little yellow pear tomatoes will be ready to eat soon.
I tossed out some seeds that I had kept from last year and they have turned into healthy plants of some sort. I am not sure about the flower but when the fruit appears, I will know what I have sown. Now that I look for the fibonacci sequence, I think I see it in the flower.
I love the design on zinnia buds.
And I have to give Jacob a big thank you for always doing such a great job in the yard and for beautifully cutting the tender new grass today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Life was simpler then.

I have been waiting for repairmen today, but now I find they won't be here til next week. If it were fifty or so years ago, I wouldn't have either of these problems. My gas dryer has been broken for two weeks, tumbling but not heating, and I am still awaiting word on the needed part. And the air conditioning upstairs is struggling to operate but can't seem to get going. Back when I was a girl, everything, underwear and all, was hung on the clothesline to dry. During a hot day like today, they wouldn't have to flap in the breeze long at all before they were taken down and folded. And air conditioning? It was to be found under a shade tree with a cold glass of lemonade. And we just dealt with the hot night times. Life is different and faster now. Dryers and air conditioning have been necessities for decades. But are we really happier or having more fun?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A few pics from the trip to WDW

Magnificent displays of fireworks at night.
The castle changes colors at night.
The princesses had handsome princes. All but Belle who got the Beast.
There is something to celebrate everyday!
We don't know this character, but he was the only one Ashley didn't have to wait in a long line for.
The Animal Kingdom tree.

Just a cute sign.

Under the sea.
We visited the lands of Epcot. This is China.
Nighttime at Magic Kingdom.
On the Safari.

My Favorite Characters

Ashley and I are back from our fun trip to Disney World. Whew... It was long and hot! We stayed on "campus" at the All Star Movies Resort and were lucky enough to be in one of the two Toy Story buildings. (I love Buzz and Woody!) The down side was that I had no internet while there. It's probably just as well. I was exhausted when we got in from the parks. Here are a couple of pix from the place.
Check out the little boy at Buzz's foot to get some idea of his size.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Notes and Quotes

Tomorrow evening this time, I plan to be in Orlando with Ashley. We two girls are going to take in Disney World. We are so excited! It was an impromptu idea, but fortunately a room was available in one of the Disney All Star Resorts. Now at 9:30 at night, there is still much to do in order to leave in the morning, and I must get it all done to have a successful trip. To quote John Wooden the great basketball coach and teacher who died yesterday, (or was it Benjamin Franklin who said it?) "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

By the are some other John Wooden quotes that I plagiarized from another web site.

10. The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.

9. If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.

8. Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.

7. Never mistake activity for achievement.

6. Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.

5. Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.

4. Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

3. Ability is a poor man's wealth.

2. Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

1. You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


When my boys were little, occasionally an old person would say to me, "Children are for the young." Now I understand what they meant. It takes a lot of energy to take care of them. But what fun! I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Girl Time

I have always loved being a girl, so much so that when I was little and heard that if you kissed your elbow - an impossible feat - that you would turn into a boy, I kept my arms far away from my lips when I went to bed, lest I suffer disastrous consequences in my sleep. Ashley who is with me now obviously loves being a girl, too. She has an unyielding sense of femininity even sandwiched as she is between her two brothers. First thing yesterday was to show me the pretty new clothes her mother had bought for her, and today she enjoyed looking through my jewelry box and listening as I told the story of where each piece came from. And I always try to pay a little more attention to my appearance when I see her, too, because I know she is checking me out, woman to woman. She is especially curious to see what is dangling from my ear lobes. I sure appreciate Paige and Stuart for letting me spend some time with my delightful granddaughter.