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my brother asked me...

Thursday, December 14, 2017
... about some things he was hoping I might still be able to locate that he remembered from my dad's work shop. So I called the guy who is using the building for his business, storing tools and building supplies needed for his renovating work. After I told him what I was looking for, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say he knew just exactly what I was talking about, could readily put his hand on what I was hoping to find.

One of the things my brother had been thinking about was tree climbing spurs that belonged to our granddad. I do not have much memory of this man as he died when I was very young, but I do have a clear image of my brother tying the metal spurs on his legs with hay-baling twine, and attempting to climb a tree or wooden utility pole. Brother said the metal shanks that extend up almost to your knee were meant to be buckled on with a strap similar to a short belt. There is a U shape that goes under your shoe, held in place by the boot heel, with a short spike extending down, that was meant to be jabbed into the tree trunk or wooden pole.

Now, in these modern times, utility workers all use bucket trucks.  With a long mechanical arm that will lift them up right to the top of the pole, with all the tools they need to make repairs.There may be some older workers who still have the skill and equipment to climb a light pole. But it is likely a vanishing art, plus most of the utilities installed now are either on concrete poles or buried underground. I certainly do not have any sentimental attachment to the tree climbing spurs, as they look painful to wear as well as dangerous to put to use.

it could have been worse...

... even though what we had was plenty bad. We just had a new hot water heater delivered and installed today. When The Man Who Lives Here left before daylight today, he reported that there was no hot water to be had. Fortunately it was not in my plans to shower, so I did not miss an opportunity.

He called me in the early afternoon, saying I would have to go purchase a wet/dry vacuum to clean up a big wet mess. I told him I could not get home until late in the day, with what he wanted. My plans accidentally changed (one of many accidents that can be reported for this day in my personal history.) When I arrived at home, there was a flood in the storage area where the water heater lives.

The plumbing guy was in the process of connecting the shiny new water heater, after removing the one that created that pond. I immediately started getting wet things up off the floor. Lots of paintings on stretched canvas, framed pictures, memorabilia in cardboard boxes that act like sponges. And immediately fall apart when you attempt to pick them up out of an inch of water.

I will now admit to using entirely too many bad words. Cannot remember when I was more aggravated, frustrated, irritated with lots of stomping and swearing. Unless it might have been just last Monday when I devoted the day to the auntie who has the memory/retention of a gnat. Story for another day.... The good news is I Am Over It, so all that cursing and gnashing teeth was actually a good thing.

I've heard it said that your average water heater is good for about fifteen or twenty years. Which to me is completely baffling: why can't they make them to last, like bathtubs or other things that need to be 'plumbed?' The one that left on the back of the service truck is only half as old as my kids. Us have a very clear memory of that one coming to live with us.On a January day after the daughter got her driver's license and drove into the carport wall, where the first water heater lived just six inches away on the other side of that sheetrock.

The service guy offered some thought provoking words before he left. Meant to put us in a more positive frame of mind. Reminding us that it could have been far worse than what we experienced. For instance, our house did not flood. We don't have the water heater up stairs or in the attic, which would have created a true homeowner nightmare. So, I am really over it, and thankful we have the resources to deal with a crisis of this sort when it occurs.

book review: "The Reservoir"...

...written by John Milliken. According to the information I read on the back of the boxed set of Cd's, it is based on a true story, something that really happened in Richmond Virginia. But since the subtitle is 'A Novel', we can assume there was a great deal of liberty taken. Much of the reading is probably in quote marks from different characters as they are speaking from the witness stand, while the murder trial was taking place. There considerable poetic license that surely occurred when the author shares the questions and answers between attorneys and various witnesses called upon to enlighten the jury in the courtroom.

A young man is accused of killing his cousin and leaving her body in the city reservoir. There are many references to places, particular locations as the geography of the day. Naming specific streets and hotels, restaurants, universities, businesses, houses of ill repute that would have been in downtown Richmond in the post-war years. Buildings that would have come into being as the Confederate Capital was rebuilt after much devastation and destruction. Leading the reader to understand that the time period and trial was well researched through the reading of journals, dairies and news paper reports. Numerous details of interest that add color and a sense of actually being there in the time the events occurred.

This young man is an attorney, and seems unable to tell the truth of the matter. Providing a number of likely scenarios to different people who want to help him gain his freedom. But ultimately he is convicted and sentenced to the gallows. It is probably common to expect someone who is remanded to incarceration before death to believe there is always the possibility of a reprieve or commutation. This character was no different, a lost soul, unwilling to admit his part in the drama, yet expecting to wake up and find the whole sordid trial was a bad dream.

It did  not have a happy ending, but required that I make it through to the last disc. An interesting story, with lots of detail to provide authenticity as the tale unfolded. A bit wordy, but a good read.

who ever it was ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

...that is willing to lay claim to inventing fruit cake needs medical attention. Or being politely shut away, making the rest of the world safe from the Invading candied fruit concoction. It has never been one of my favorites. Even though it has been offered as a tasty holiday sweet for as long as I can remember: Thanks, but no thank you.

I can't say why I don't care for it. But will be perfectly content with never putting another morsel in my mouth. It might be the fact that it is so heavy on the fruit part and so short on the cake aspect. The name is spot on, if we follow the USDA labeling guidelines for listing in order of quantity included: there are only the barest traces of the few cake-like ingredients that hold it all together. Mostly fruit, fruit and more fruit, with pineapple, cherries, citron, etc as the primary contents.

My brother must have had a really weak moment when they were shopping in Sam's Club recently, seeing as how he bought a box that had four (4!) one pound fruit cake bars in it. Offering, then persuading and finally insisting that I would take one home to The Man Who Lives Here. I said I was sure he would enjoy it, as it would be oh-so-very good with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. My brother said: 'Really?' My reply: "Of Course! Everything is good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!" To which he said: "Oh. Ok."

When I unpacked last night, and unearthed that one pound fruit cake log, I left it in the kitchen for him to find today. He asked what it was for, hoping, I expect I would say: you. I told him my brother sent it (trying to farm out half of what he had bought as I expect it is reproducing there in the original box, and he now has about twelve logs/bars), and suggested he have some with vanilla ice cream. So then I had to make a run to the store for the icecream, and came home $114 lighter, wondering why I did not have anything in all those bags we could have for the next meal.

surprised by snow...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

... while visiting in Virginia. It is beautiful. And possibly very dangerous should you be on the road, in the dark, in below freezing temperature, far from essential services or emergency care. But really neat to be out there when it's coming down in big fat flakes, covering everything it lands on.

We drove in to the city to see the little peeps, after picking up boxes of fragrantly hot steaming pizza  enroute.  It was fun, they are delightful at age 6'ish and just over 2. Energetic and entertaining, in constant motion, and very talkative. Making me appreciative of peace and quiet at my house.

Everything was covered with white as we drove into the city, and glistening under glowing holiday lights as we made the return drive afterward. About the time we got back to the house (after the 30 minute drive took a slippery hour on slushy roads) the power went out. Likely due to a snow-laden limb falling on a line some place. Or possibly a shivering squirrel scampering in a transformer looking for a warm bed and being unexpectedly electro-fried.

It suited me perfectly, going to bed early. After asking for the loan of a headlamp to read by, I put my jammies on, ready for bed. Reading myself to sleep, which usually takes approximately fifteen minutes. It was not off all night, because I woke in the wee hours to see the digital clock blinking. Plus my bed was toasty warm as the electric blanket got busy doing it's job with ample joules.

More white stuff is predicted for today. It is truly beautiful, looking out the windows at everything covered in white. But I am heading south shortly, and will be happy to be back in the land of pines and warmer weather. Hopefully there will not be any delays related to fluffy or slippery conditions.

it's all relative...

...what some would refer to as a 'first world problem'. Which is, of course not really what could be considered problematic, just a superficial inconvenience. Nothing at all like walking five miles down a dirt path with a five gallon jerry can balanced on your head to the river. Then returning home with the knowledge you will have to forage for firewood in order to boil the water before using it to cook.

That flight that was expected to get me back to GA by mid-afternoon was delayed. I'd expected to have time after arrival to do a little visiting. But the plane was three hours behind schedule taking off from Richmond.Mostly weather related, with a little poor planning thrown in for good measure. I knew before we left the house the departure tine had been pushed back an hour, to leave at 2:30, instead of 1:30. I was prepared, with ample reading material available.

We were even later than the rescheduled time boarding. And then it starts to get bad: we had to be de-iced prior to take off. The tank truck that sprays out the de-icing fluid went dry half-way through another airliner. So we had to wait for the de-icing guy to trundle across the field to re-supply. Return to the gate area and finish (or possibly restart?) the adjacent plane before he could start on the one going to Atlanta.

A necessary precaution we could all be thankful for. Causing liftoff to be approximately three hours behind the original plan. I had people awaiting my arrival, but no worries about making connections, trying to do the dash for another flight. Even so, it was early dark after wending through the concourse, down the escalator to the plane train. Back up the seriously long/steep 'Escalator to Paradise', where I found my smiling peeps ready to squeeze me back to Georgia.

Home by eight o'clock, and in my jammies ready for bed by 9 p.m. I knew I would likely regret the (secret addiction) curb store cappuccino I stopped for as I was departing the metro. Woke up about one thinking it was time to get up and start a new day... so I am due a nap after lunch!

But all of that is really just a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. Also nothing compared to having a flight from NYC to ATL simply cancelled back in the spring. Leaving us to our own devices, which rapidly devolved into a fourteen hour rental car trip back to Atlanta .. And even that is of little consequence: we had the funds and the time, and with an amusing travel companion, though tedious, not  miserable by any stretch.

travelin' w/o 1 horse sleigh...

Friday, December 8, 2017
... but possibly in need of de-icing on the return trip.  Back in October, before the 'too much fun with Willie' incident, I had planned to visit in Virginia in early November.  Due to profoundly limited mobility, and more than a little anxiety about traveling alone while damaged, I decided to postpone. Fully expecting to be back up to 99% by December, able-bodied and under full power.

Recovery has not moved along as swiftly as I desired, so able-bodied is relative. 'Full power' is not true, but I am getting there.  After my travel agent rescheduled my tickets, I drove to Decatur Wed. night, to get to Hartsfield-Jackson International on Thursday morning. According to the info on the boarding pass, it takes longer than ever (meaning: forever!) to get through TSA. I wanted to allow ample time for the person with the new metal implant to be manhandled.  Sure enough, I was pulled aside and thoroughly scanned/inspected.  Patted front and back, checked for chemical residue. Found to be clean as a whistle, and sent along to ride the high speed underground train to the concourses.

By the time I arrived at "C", I'd forgotten my gate number due to an overload of information as my person was inspected, so had to stop and ask.  Now would be a good time to confess to a bit of mild subterfuge. When I was packing, planning, trying to determine how many layers I would need, I added the Velcro-strapped sling for my arm. Believing I would benefit from appearing to be mildly disabled. Taking of every opportunity to make the boarding process easier, letting people assume as they wish. 

It got me into a much shorter line leading up to the TSA checkpoint, bu that's about it. I was surrounded by people in wheelchairs, or being transported by airport personnel. Which made me thankful for being mobile. Then pulled out of line to be frisked due to metal in knee brace, metal in hand, looking like a suspicious character (just kidding - overdressed but perfectly harmless.)

The flight was uneventful, arriving a few minutes early. Peeps I came to visit were just walking into the terminal when Icame down the escalator to baggage claim/ground transportation area.  As per usual, we went directly to Panera bread store for lunch.  

'poor richard' (aka: Ben Franklin) came by...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

... for a visit.  He's really sort of homely looking guy: balding with a mullet hairdo, usually wearing wire-rimmed spectacles, pot bellied, and always clamoring to be the center of attention. Forever reeking of tobacco due to his pipe-smoking habits. Spends too much time in the ale shops sipping stout, gabbing with rebel rousers and troublemakers, leaving wife and children to run his print shop, provide for themselves.

But he is so welcome when he puts in an appearance. Always congenial, spreading good cheer when he stops by, offering assistance and providing support, kindnesses to the widows and orphans. He does not often come along, but it is a pleasure to see him when he shows up, with a generous heart and agreeable disposition. Always happy to open the door when Mr. Franklin puts in an appearance.

He often looks a little worse for the wear, and sort of shabby chic under the best of circumstances, but still in all, a pleasant guy, and know that he will be available when you need him.  A much more welcome soul than the 'Scrooge' guy you hear of so frequently this time of year. Glad good ole' Benjamin stopped by for a visit, even though he will not stay around long!

as a result of a small windfall...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
... unexpected bounty that recently came my way, I decided to treat myself to a trip through the carwash this morning. I had to buy gas, and ended up at a curb store that has a little drive through jiffy wash, with various (inflated) prices for extra finishes. I didn't go for the budget version, but not the high end either - thinking the 'premium' would make my windshield a mess when they spray shiney stuff on.

While I was obediently sitting there, politely observing the signs that blink: 'pull forward', 'stop!', 'back up!' and 'finished', I thought of the last time I paid for a trip through an automated car wash. It was a day to remember.We got stuck, and the car wash would not let us out! Funny now, scary then.

I had small children. I don't know what possessed me to think it would be a good idea to take a twenty year old rusty, raggedy, beat-up truck through the car wash, as it had likely never been washed since it came off the assembly line in Dee-troit.  But with two small churrens bouncing on the bench seat, in we went. I have as clear a memory of that place and time as if I had a snapshot.

The hang up was those big, ungainly after-market, rectangular mirrors that stuck out on each door, apparently designed to assist with e a good line of sight when pulling a trailer or hauling some wide load on the pick up bed? At any rate, mirrors were not meant for car washes. The big whirling mop-like things that scrub got stuck on the armature/mount of the mirrors that must have come out nearly a foot from the cab. Could not go forward or back. There we sat. I think we all got a little panick-y. I know the small churrens were getting more than a little frantic. Thinking they would be spending the remainder of their young lives in there?

I started blowing the horn in the center of the steering wheel. Someone finally came to our rescue, and I assume hit the button to stop the whole thing. Which must have surely ground to a halt, allowing us to escape, semi-clean, but other wise unscathed. I was likely so thankful to be set free I probably did  not have the presence of mind to ask for a refund. It is amusing now, but I recall little people being terrified at the time.

I don't have a pick up or small peeps any more, but I have been eyeing trucks on used lots recently. So if you see one that is a good price, let me know. I am not in the market for small children.

now it's four in a row...

Sunday, December 3, 2017
....that I devoted my time to volunteering at the botanical gardens. There were still lots of tins of yummy home-made cookies for sale today, as well as a number of beautiful fresh  greenery wreaths for  people to purchase and enjoy over the holidays. The farmhouse was fragrantly festive with the delicious aroma of cider simmering on the stove. Choirs singing holiday favorites on the back steps, and photo ops with Santa in the old fashioned sleigh with iron runners.

Something new this year, that was sure to be a big success was a luminary walk through the area of the gardens that is planted with winter blooming camellias. A local retired banker, who is obviously a big fan of the imported plants, has traveled the world searching out, collecting, and purchasing a variety of beautiful bloomers to donate/plant in a dedicated area that is nothing but specimen plants. There are hundreds of juvenile camellia plants that will be watered and cared for over the coming years on a hillside that has been designed and landscaped specifically for that purpose. Complimented with a beautiful fountain and winding paved paths meandering through the filtered shade of tall pines for visitors to stroll and enjoy all those unusual evergreen shrubs with multicolored flowers.

I did not stay until it got dark, when the hundreds of luminaries would be most effective, but imagine it was a beautiful sight. After seeing neighborhoods over the years with streets lined with glowing candles in paper bags, I can envision what a treat it must have been. Hoping there will be photos posted of the scene for the ones who were not onsite to view and enjoy.

two parents...

... who were born in the decade of the big financial bust of 1929, therefore growing up in the depression era of the 1930's. Raised as children by their frugal parents who remembered hardships before and after WWI. Instructed in how to be equally careful with each dime, dutifully pinching each penny until it squealed like a piglet stuck in the fence. Generations who were always careful with their funds, often working extra/side jobs to supplement income. Allowing me to continue to reap the benefits of their thrift, as I make notes daily on reasons to be thankful in my Little Book of Blessings.

Many women/wives/mothers were excellent seamstresses. Much clothing was made at home: yard goods purchased, patterns re-used, pieces cut and assembled to make children's entire wardrobes. As well as dresses, coats, hats, sweaters women wore every day. It was a big deal to get a new hand-made dress at Easter when I went with my mom to choose fabric and pick a pattern from the huge book of designs. My grandmother made me a new outfit for my birthday for many years, allowing me to make all the choices of color, material and style. Tucked away in storage, I still have a couple of things my grandmother sewed, just for me. Of course, I have spread, so nothing fits, but still.....

I have a distinct memory of my mom doing one particular thing that was probably very common in that time of hand-made wardrobes: turning collars on my dad's shirts. When a collar on a cloth shirt would fray, while the body was still quite serviceable, my mom would remove the collar and flip it over.  Carefully pin and stitch it back in place reversed, with the fray folded under, invisible. Giving much more use out of a shirt that no longer looked worn and ragged.

Well... what's good for the gander is good enough for the goose. I recently noticed a small frayed area on the collar of a shirt I have had for years. I asked my friend P. who frequently sews, to reverse it for me. She had a mom who did that, so she did not look at me like I am a crazy person (although she knows!)  It looks great, good as nearly new and ready to be worn and enjoyed another forty years.

There are actually two nearly identical shirts. Everything is the same except one has blue stripes, the other has pink. Dear friend P. repaired pink for me, which means it has been worn and enjoyed more over many years than the blue. Even more interesting: my adult children wore these shirts when they were teens, returning both to my closet when they out grew them (or possibly they were un-cool?)

three days in a row...

Saturday, December 2, 2017
... I have given time to the local non-profit Botanical Garden.  Helping a lot of other volunteers to decorate the 150 year-old farmhouse and grounds for Holiday Open House on Sunday. There will be tins of home-made cookies for sale, along with fresh greenery wreaths available that were handmade on-site. Several choirs entertaining visitors with Christmas music, from local high schools

The building and surrounding area will be festive: a luminary trail down though the pines, wending through the hundreds of camellias in bloom. Christmas trees sparkling with tiny twinkle lights, and covered from the floor to tippy top at twelve foot ceiling with bright, gleaming ornaments for sale. Multiple mantles and fireplaces adorned with arrangements of seasonal greenery, including  Savannah Holly cuttings with bright red berries, fragrant cedar, and colorful autumnal hues of fire-y Nandina leaves. 

I was there on Thursday helping to fill the dozens of cookie tins with assorted baked goods. Returned on Friday afternoon to help with doing decorative arrangements for tables and fireplaces. Filling containers with cut foliage to add delightful fragrance to the house, as well as bright colors of seasonal natural greens.We will be doing more decorating in the Adams family farm house, finishing up with decking the halls and clean up prior to Open House.

A quote from my mom is appropriate here: 'many hands make light work'. There have been numerous people flowing in and out, around and about during the week. Providing helping hands and necessary labor to make this a successful event. It takes hundreds of hours: people baking cookies, making fresh wreaths, setting out dozens of bags filled with sand for luminaries, multiple other essential tasks for it to all come together. Giving the appearance of smooth and seamless.

A 'preview' with wine tasting occurs late today for members, with the big event for community attendance on Sunday afternoon. Punch and cookies for your tasting. Good cheer all around to start the holiday season!

sad story...

Friday, December 1, 2017
.. that will make you unhappy, then angry. And finally disappointed to be part of a human race that is willing to act so heartless. One of God's creatures someone decided they did not want to care for: a dog found abandoned. Causing me to be the one to call and request the city come and pick up. I felt terrible about it, but could not leave it out to get hit by a vehicle, or starve.

I was out walking in the neighborhood, a route I used to do on a regular basis. Just recently started trying to get out and exercise regularly, after a long spell of trying to be kind to my misbehaving knee.  Since the broken arm, as profound boredom has set in, I decided I should start back walking and try to do at least a couple of miles most days of the week. There is a nearby subdivision where I can get off the busy, high traffic street where we live, and make a loop with practically no speeding vehicles.

When I started out this afternoon, I passed a street sign on a corner, where there appeared to be a medium sized dog tied to the post. I gave it a wide berth, not knowing how friendly it might be. When I came back around to that same corner, the dog was still sitting there, at the edge of a lot, right near the street. I thought it strange the owner would have tied it out so close to an area where every vehicle that passes is going much too fast. But kept my opinion to myself, and just gave the canine glance, to avoid making eye contact/creating a power play, and walked on.

When I came by again, I had just passed a couple (wearing shorts!) out walking who asked if that was my dog, and I said I wanted to ask them the same thing. I stopped a passing pickup truck, coming out of the housing area, and asked if they recognized the animal, but they said they did not. We all looked more closely at the dog, and realized it was not tied to the sign post, yet patiently waiting for his owner to come back. Wearing a harness and a leash, but not attached to anything holding it in place. Just waiting for his master to return. Waiting and waiting.

I stopped a city trash truck, and asked the driver to call Animal Control, but he gave me the number instead. It was after 5:00 pm, so I had to call 911. The truck came to pick up the orphan in less than twenty minutes. I felt terrible:  sad, mad, and awful turning that scared, well-mannered pet over to the people who would take it to lock it up. What is wrong with human beings?

typing with 2 hands...

...after nearly six weeks of doing it with only two fingers. Actually, it is (surprisingly) much more of a challenge I would have expected. I truly thought getting my right hand back in action would be a breeze.  But have discovered it seems to not remember what to do. Wondering, as I suddenly reverted to using only my left hand, if it has to do with 'muscle memory'? All these weeks as I have been limping along using the forefinger and middle finger on my left hand? Has the right one been ut of action long enough time to forget what it is supposed to be doing on the keyboard?

substitute teaching...

... days that will add up to ten after I go to my  little jobette today. I was browsing the options for 'day labor' work recently. Being profoundly bored with my disability and interested in employment, I came across a position that was for a half-day in an elementary school. Due to the broken arm, and obvious limitations, I did not want to present myself for employment under false pretenses - have the school expect I was perfectly able to do the job, but show up with an obvious handicap. I did not feel my disability would prevent me from functioning in the classroom, but believed in full disclosure.

I called the school to explain my situation, and was offered a job in a different classroom, and went in to to work a full day in Kindergarten. After conversation, that half-day position was offered for the next day, which would turn out to be very easy to handle. In a classroom with four other teachers, and rotating groups of special ed. students. Which surprised me, as I have never been willing to accept work in a classroom of this type. Just uneasy about the students, and feeling I was not capable of handling the needs of these kids.

This occurred before the students were out a week for Thanksgiving holiday. The job was still open, so I called on Monday morning, to ask if I could come back, with the cast still on my arm. It will be four days of employment for the week. Meaning I am inching up on the ten days the school district requires to remain 'in good standing' per semester. And will hopefully get several more before the schools will close for three weeks over Christmas, to reopen well into January.


... might sound like something you are familiar with? It sounds like that other word: declassification.
That government agency tasked with keeping top secret information safe from us who do not need to know. Until it is such 'old news' that no one cares, and so severely redacted as to make no sense, and released for public consumption. But my word is freshly invented, just made up this very day.

It means that the cast has been removed. That newly coined word as well as it's sparkling fresh meaning is just because I said so. The arm protection I had been struggling with for the past three weeks was removed last Wednesday, much to my relief. X-ray pictures were done, and the Dr. said I was healing quite nicely. That's about it for the good news, what I had optimistically hoped for.

I knew he would want me to go to rehab. and still be out of work for weeks to come. And expected that there would still be some stabilizing device to help support that joint, offer protection while it is exercised and strengthened after weeks of inactivity. This new 'splint' appears to be made of a substance similar to play-dough. Comes in large rectangles, about 1/8 of an inch thick, that hardens after being heated. It was shaped/applied to my arm/hand, cooled and became solidified. Secured with Velcro.

My OT person, Rachel gave me exercises that are to be repeated five or more times each day. Return in a week, and display obedience. I really want to get back to work, so plan to be constantly making a fist, or bending at the wrist that is stiff and sore, mostly uncooperative at this juncture. It has not been used in five weeks, so there is little mobility at present, but I am planning to be vastly improved when Rachel sees me next Wednesday.

November 29...

Thursday, November 30, 2017
... is still my mom's birthday, though she is no longer here to celebrate the occasion. It is so firmly embedded in my mind, it will always be a day of thoughtful remembrance. I had a conversation about her with a friend recently. Not someone who knew her, but someone who knows me pretty well, warts and all. Which would have put me in a reflective frame of mind, even if the 29th were not a day that causes me to think of her.

In the years since they both died, I have had a remembrance notice printed in the newspaper in that little south Georgia burg where they spent most of their lives. A small town with a small town newspaper, that might have two or three obituaries to print on a weekly basis, or maybe six, or possibly one. Plus memorial notices on the birthday of a departed loved one, or the anniversary of a death. You may think me maudlin, but I just can't/won't forget. I guess I keep sending photos, with words of thoughtful consideration to remind the people who are still there. Folks who would have known them from church, or civic work, neighbors or casual friends. To prod their memories so they will remember what lively people those two were, while they were there, active and involved.

When I sent in my info. last week, to be printed in this weeks edition, I enclosed a photo. Along with the sweet quote from Robert Fulghum. The guy who is more famously known for the poster you might remember: "All I Need to Know, I Learned In Kindergarten."  (Be kind, hold hands, take naps, have milk and cookies when you get up from your nap, etc.) The other quote, the one in the newspaper that is in the memorial ad. for my mom:

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death."

plan B for cookies...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
... that is obviously necessary due to the abject failure of plan A. I do have some of those annoying chocolate waffle cookies, should you be interested enough to come and have a taste. But will likely put the recipe in the recycle bin, after putting the waffle iron on notice: 'stick to what you do best.'

I have recruited a friend to come and help with cookie making today. She asked if I need for her to bring anything. I said 'two good hands', because with only one, I cannot hold the bowl and stir. Plus it takes a pair to roll the cookie dough into little balls before you cook.

 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 salad oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple flavor syrup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
extra granulated sugar to roll dough

Measure all ingredients into large bowl, blend well with mixer on low speed. It will make a thick dough. Chill. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, roll in granulated sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, they will spread and flatten as they cook. Bake 350 degrees, 10-12 min., should be slightly soft when removed from oven. Cool on rack. Store in airtight container. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen.

There is also an identical recipe in my file box, with the variation of making Jumbo Gingersnaps: shape 1/4 cup of dough into a ball, roll in sugar. Place 3 inches apart, bake 15 minutes. Makes abt. 10.

My dad loved these. I have never made the giant ones, but found it interesting that the  measurements and ingredients list  were identical, from different sources - only a change in the size of the finished product. I hope we will get a double batch made, to donate to the Botanical Gardens Open House, where the cookies will be sold.

PS: I would add  bit more ginger, if I ever make this again. That would cause them to be snappier. Or else, be sure you are using really fresh ginger. There's no telling how long mine has been sitting on the shelf, half empty.  Plus the cardamom seems to be missing entirely...

a good idea fails...

Monday, November 27, 2017
... when I foolishly thought I could make cookies to donate. Everything about my 'good idea' went awry. Starting with the fact that I am incapable of cookie production, due to only having one usable, fully functional hand. There are lots of things you can do with one hand, but measuring, stirring, scraping the bowl are not on the list.

First mistake was to think I would have success with a recipe I could not even locate. One I made years ago, when there were small children on the premises, but had not replicated in at least the past decade.  The most necessary piece of equipment is  waffle iron: I gave it away when I emptied all the cupboards to repaint inside when we had the whole house painted. That means without the waffle iron - the whole scheme would be a moot point.

I thought I had donated the electric waffle cooker to a thrift shop/resale store. But found it at a daughters' house. Brought it back when we gathered for Thanksgiving. (Now I have to figure out where to store it in my cupboards.)  And googled up recipes for chocolate waffle cookies. Back to my first paragraph: I now wonder what made me think this was such a great idea? The novelty, I suppose. Can you imagine anything more time-consuming than making four cookies at the time? Arrrgghhh.

In addition to that: very messy. The batter got really thick before it was over, sticking to the 'non-stick' coated cooker, making them really hard to get out without tearing up. Virtually impossible with one hand. They are really unusual looking, but probably the most aggravating thing I've attempted in recent memory. Not easily accomplished with two functioning hands - highly frustrating with only one!

book review: "The Right Side"...

Saturday, November 25, 2017
... about a young soldier who was injured in Afghanistan. Written by Spencer Quinn, published in 2017 by Simon and Schuster. The author's other books are geared toward young adult readers, but this one is definitely not rated "G".

Sgt. LeAnne Hogan lands in Walter Reed Hospital after an injury while deployed, so seriously hurt by grenade fragments she looses an eye. Her roommate, also injured in a war zone, Marci lost a leg. They become friends as a result of proximity as well as shared pain, loss, frustration during rehab. Marci dies from complications, LeAnne takes a road trip while dealing poorly with anger and PTSD, ends up in Marci's hometown.

It is a very believable tale, filled with the confusing loss felt by someone who was trained to do a difficult, thankless job, then finds herself unable to function in the world after she has so radically changed.  I can't say 'enjoyable' as the feeling I got when i finished reading, but it was very well done, and certainly provocative. I expect this story will stick with me for a long time. Haunting tale.

there was a lot of....

Friday, November 24, 2017
... family, and food, and travel. A beautiful day, with happy people. My personal assignment was pie. I might have actually volunteered for that, which certainly has considerable irony attached, considering I cannot really stir anything, due to my broken arm being immobile.  I did acquire the ingredients, recruited the stirrer, and provided supervision to assure it was properly assembled.  When  people who have already consumed food far above the 'fill line' are confronted with dessert choices, it is comforting to hear 'it's mostly air'. The primary ingredient is a bowl of whipped topping, so it really is fluff.

Oh, and the 'adapted' version of Waldorf Salad: nothing but diced apples, pecans and mayonnaise. They whine and grumble if it is contaminated with diced celery, so it is only marginally nutritious. With an extra dollop of deliciously bad mayo. outweighing the heathy-ness of fresh fuji apples. Once again: though I did volunteer to provide the salad, I could not actually make it, with disabled arm/ hand. But was responsible for the shopping, purchasing, organizing, delivery.  Hopefully there are Little Red Hen credits for a portion of the results?  I could eat it all day long, and considering having the leftovers for breakfast.

We left home soon after 6 a.m., drove to TN, arriving mid-morning. Pretty day, and pretty amazing to drive through the heart of metro Atlanta with ease, virtually no traffic. I noticed as we were approaching mid-town, how remarkably clear the air was. Heading north past Turner Field,  when you first sight the gold come on the capitol building, and tall buildings in the heart of the city. With scarcity of vehicles that normally clog the interstate highway, not producing exhaust to pollute the atmosphere, even motoring through downtown was a pleasant drive.

My favorite people (minus uncle Jay) and time together. That's hard to beat. We even took time to assemble for a family photo to add to the annual Christmas news letter. Sneak a peek preview? Yes!

the donation was donated...

... when they had a fundraiser auction.  The letter phrased it as: 're-donated' where a bank purchase at the auction will fund programs to enhance community resources like after school programs and literacy.  Which makes my donation all the more amazing, as I was so weighted down by the problem when I gave up ownership of the project.

This probably sounds obtuse and obscure, with explanatory back-story needed for clarification?   Look back in the archives, 'way into the past...maybe as far as June, or even into the foggy history of last spring and May?  When I found myself with a unique, custom-designed, hand-made Little Free Library. Only to become frustrated and aggravated, completely stymied about where to mount it for maximum foot-traffic. If you go back and read the history, you might even find yourself as thoroughly irritated by the annoyance as I was back then.  (All of this being a 'first world problem': like running out of hot water during your morning shower, or insufficient milk to properly float your cereal...)

Then the little light bulb blinked on, brightly glowing above my head. Dink! When the thought popped into my brain that I should take it to south Georgia and donate to the library in the little town where my family lived for generations. Nearly virgin territory for those oh-so-nifty little boxes filled with reading material, free for the taking.

Most  public libraries will have a shelf of second-hand books for sale, available for purchase. Where you can find variety of items donated by patrons, neighbors, and families wishing to recycle reading materials/movies.  Which would be the perfect source for filling and refilling the small space of a 'free take one box' as passers-by peruse and see something of personal interest.

With help, that big heavy wooden box was loaded into the back of my little Toyota and went south, after making arrangements with the head librarian, Mr. S. I had communicated with him, told S. my story, frustration about finding a location to mount it, and was delighted by his enthusiasm when he welcomed a donation.  I was relieved to get it out of my life, and he seemed pleased to be the recipient. I understood it would likely be in the fall before the box would be mounted some place in the community, filled with reading materials and put in use.

a long day...

Thursday, November 23, 2017
... made longer by setting the alarm wrong. Hoping to be awakened at five am, to shower, dress, load up and be headed north by six o'clock.  After completing the first part, starting to get on layers of clothing, I glanced at the clock: discovering it is 4:35 rather than heading towards 6:00 am.  Leaving no doubt in my mind about the likelihood of a nap in the afternoon.

When the time reverted back to normal, in early November, from the pointless exercise that is
'daylight savings', my phone did not change. I only use it for an alarm clock, but it is not reliable. Making me think after the second mis-fire, I am better off with nothing than an alarm clock that is untrustworthy. The first time it happened, I was an hour early leaving home, which I was able to effectively fritter away by making unplanned stops while traveling. And today, the report is here.

There is the possibility that The Man Who Lives Here might be part of the problem. When I noticed that phone had not bothered to 'fall back' an hour, he offered to re-set the time. While I, with broken arm am disabled and only barely employed, there has been no need to get up and be on location in a timely manner. Therefore no particular need for waking in the dark to be prompt.

Like most conveniences, you don't need it until you need it. But when it is necessary, it is difficult to use anything else as a replacement. Need to get this worked out, without factoring in my frustrating disability in dealing with things that involve numbers.  Which will make it all the more confusing...

true confessions...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
... that should be added to the previous writing about freeing up closet space.  There were a couple of things I was not quite ready to part with. I am almost certain they will go out the door next week, when I look at them a few more times, probably say: "Out, dammed spot!"  (Was that from the murderous Ophelia?)

One: the dress I got married in, 36 years ago. It would probably still fit. But from this vantage point, I find it to be remarkably ugly. I'm thinking I might take it to a resale shop, expecting someone, somewhere might think it the perfect thing for holiday partying. Its sort of sheer, a pale gray color, long sleeves, with little pearl buttons, and probably just below knee length. Just not me anymore.  Oh, did I say it's the last/only dress left in my closet?  I'm so done with that: all the others have been gone for years!

And a jacket that is so ready for fun, it looks like a party waiting to happen.  My amusing daughter reported she thought it the perfect thing to wear on a cruise, sadly discovering it was not her size.  So she gave it to me before we departed to go off into the Caribbean on a big boat.  Years ago, and not worn since - but it still looks in need of a celebration.

in order for it ...

...to be successful,  the first thing required is the right frame of mind. Willingness to be ruthless and not be wishy-washy, second guessing yourself, or stopping to pour a glass of your favorite beverage which might make you too reflective or possibly maudlin. If you are going to weed through your closet and do some serious donating, you gotta' be serious.

I pulled them out on Monday, bagged them up on Tuesday, and put them in the car to take to the thrift shop to donate before I had time for second thoughts.  You've probably heard the advice: leave it in the store, walk away from an impulse purchase. Should your desire be as strong after a good night's sleep, and hopefully a clear mind (and your budget well-suited), then go ahead.  This is Not Applicable for weeding through stuff you already own. Just Do It.

After heeding another piece of sound advice, I knew it was time to sort through, and pass along items decent enough to allow some one else the opportunity to wear, and possibly look 'just like me'. I had turned dozens of hangers around, so they were on the rod backwards, with the hook part pointed out. Let the seasons roll around, then notice if you have worn, washed, paid any attention to those neglected items. You will likely see those things you were so pleased with upon purchase have languished for months. Meaning you need to let them go. Just Do It. Give them a second life.

Now that it is Wednesday, and those bags full of clothing I had not worn (or thought about) in a year have been out of the house for nearly twenty-four hours: I am having second thoughts. But not enough to make me consider going to buy them back. Just to neglect, then give away again.

not original...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
... but worth passing along for shop-a-holics to digest before the craziest retail day of the year occurs on Friday after Turkey Day here in the US of A. Adapted from an article I read in this week's TIME magazine.  Generally speaking I don't do any holiday shopping, and especially not on the weekend after Thanksgiving, when retailers believe those few days are their 'make or break' time for profits.

The short piece from the weekly news magazine, by Jeff Kreisler, would have you realize you don't need to consider how much the item is 'discounted' - but you should only purchase based on what it will cost you. The misleading mark down tags are there to lure you, deceptive marketing to make you buy a 'bargain'. Finding a shirt marked down from $100 to sixty isn't really saving forty dollars:  rather causing you to spend $60.

Kreisier also points out the danger of thinking in terms of percentages.  Your hard earned cash in your pocket is real, an absolute. Don't be fooled by sales people juggling dollar signs like rubber balls. "Whether it's 10% of a $1,000 sofa or 1% off a $100,000 renovation, or a bank loan: $100 is still $100".  Yours to keep in your pocket, or let some trickster at the county fair lift in the blink of an eye.

Jeff Kreisler, author of this short article is also co-author of a book on money management, "Dollars and Sense: How we Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter."     

about the pansies...

Monday, November 20, 2017
... that were calling my name when I went to the hardware store a week ago. Purchased a little nine- plant pack to go in the planters I have diligently watered and fed over the summer. Two large pots in little patio area just outside a door at church.

When I first felt the urge to take responsibility for the care and maintenance of these containers, they were thoroughly neglected. With deceased rosemary plants, and rapidly dying English ivy, really pitiful looking. I bought some spring blooming shrubs that will keep their leaves, stay green year-round, called Sweet Spire. Supposedly very fragrant, but they did not do much the first season. Hopefully, they will be better established, over initial planting shock, and bloom well next spring.

Added some bulbs that are a wee version of jonquils, donated from a friend. Then put several small plants around the base of each Sweet Spire, that would bloom all summer. Dianthus in shades of burgundy and white.  Most survived with ample watering, though a couple did not make it through the summer, possibly due to sitting on concrete slab that radiated blistering heat. I added some creeping Jenny, to trail over the lip and down the outside of each pot along with mulch to try to preserve moisture. Most Sundays, and maybe another day mid-week, I filled a big pitcher or bowl from the kitchen ice machine, and dumped in the shrub, to melt and provide water.

I have recruited a friend who will meet me this morning to put the happy faces of little pansies in today. How can you look at the bright colorful blooms of pansies and not want to smile back? These are the little ones, sometimes called 'viloas', so they might be related to violets? My mom had them growing in her yard, where they would re-seed, and come back year after year. So prolific, in the perfect environment, they were everywhere: coming up between bricks on walkway, along the edge of asphalt drive apron.

an interesting little...

Sunday, November 19, 2017
... volunteer job I offered myself for on Saturday, which you will find both unusual and possibly discomfiting: recycling used shoes.  If you fall of the far end of the 'excessively fastidious' scale, you should stop reading right now, as the following will make you very uncomfortable.  Since I was a volunteer, you might assume I knew exactly what I was getting into.  But you know what 'assuming' does, right?

Actually, I did not fully grasp the magnitude of the undertaking. I was unprepared for the handling of other people's rejects.  It was off-putting, but in retrospect, should not have been surprising. As well as drastically underestimating the quantity of donations people would drive by an drop off. That was amazed.

In the same way my naive little self was so easily duped by sleight of hand tricksters when young.  Along with those high school kids I admired from afar as a small elementary aged child, when they would volunteer to participate in performances by traveling shows. When some traveling charlatan would come to town to present his skills as a magician or hypnotist in the public schools, and students between ages six and eighteen would be herded into the small-town auditorium. All these years later, my innocence in the ways of those mystery men is still intact. How did they get those big strapping high school football players to 'baa' and 'oink'?

Nothing mysterious or surreptitious occurred: mostly me not thinking it through sufficiently to consider how disgustingly nasty those used shoes and hiking boots would be. They were pretty rank. But there were also some pairs that still had tags on them, never worn. Every type shoe you could name or imagine. Flip-flops and slippers. Pumps or kitten heels. Athletic shoes and work boots. Steel-toed construction boots and warm fuzzy bedroom shoes. Sandals and pointy-toed high heels. Tiny little 'Nikes' small enough to have been on wee little feet that never hit the ground. Huge man-sized hiking boots that looked like they would fit Sasquatch. We took 'em all.

They were matched up in pairs, bundled together and bagged up.  Every bag was supposed to hold twenty five pairs. By the time I left the designated location: it looked like we might have filled two dozen bags. That is a LOT of pairs of shoes.

My understanding of the purpose of the recycling event was two-fold: 1.) keep the shoes out of the land fill. I'm guessing the rubber soles of athletic shoes would last as long as old tires, linger for a thousand years.  Plus (the best part): 2.)  they will be packed into cargo containers and shipped to places where people can use them. Here, I am assuming to third world nations where people do not have, or cannot afford footwear.  I readily admit some of those hundreds of shoes that were donated on Saturday were  unsuitable, and seriously: ridiculous as far as 'practical'. So definitely not 100% usable.  But... still... shoes vs no shoes? Footcovers win every time.

about eye glasses...

... and having to do with The Man Who Lives Here.  I often wonder how he can get to where he is going, with vision so clouded by dirty lenses, covered with dust, grime, unmentionables. He will occasionally hand his spectacles to me for cleaning with my shirt tail. When he suddenly, apparently  discovers how limited his vision is from all the stuff preventing clarity.  I will pass them back, after removing smudges, bits of shed skin, possible sneeze prints (sorry about mentioning the unmentionables- not only is it nasty, but it is also true!), for him to comment: "Wow!" and "Oh, my goodness!"

The last time be passed me grubby, vision-limiting eye glasses needing cleaning, I noticed one of those little oval pads that support the frames on the bridge of his nose was missing.  Upon returning the now sparkling clean lenses to the owner,  I pointed out the missing part, and told him he needed to get it repaired. It would be an easy, quick fix at the optical shop, probably taking three minutes of time for some one with the parts and tools to install that small replacement.  It didn't happen. After a week, I asked if he had gotten that little chore squared away.

He reported he had another pair of eyeglasses, with frames very similar to the ones he had been wearing. What he called the 'back-up specs.', that he located and started wearing.  But when he took those 'back-ups' off at the end of the day, he discovered those glasses were missing a little nose pad also. I predict he used his all purpose bad word!

So when I saw him next, he was wearing the back-ups for the back-ups: looking like something from the 1980's.  I offered to go get #1 and #2 repaired.... which is a story for another day. Sufficient to report it was a thoroughly frustrating, irritating, convoluted, unsatisfactory experience. Ultimately, I found some innocent by-stander who was persuaded to take the one little nose pad from #2 and apply it to #1 using the world's smallest screwdriver, scavenging parts to make one comfortably serviceable pair of specs. Until I can get to the VA clinic (for the third time) and get him back in working order.  

a little jobette....

Friday, November 17, 2017
... when I went to do a day of substitute teaching on Thursday. Thinking I should try to at least get ten days of sub. work in before the end of the semester in mid-December, I found a position that I hoped would work.  I called the school to ask if it would be acceptable for a one-handed person to try to manage for a half day. And was given a counter proposal: take a Kindergarten class instead, though it would be a full day. I had the day open, and wanted to give it a try, willing to attempt when I heard there would be a para-pro in the class as well.

I did, we did, it all worked out. Everyone survived. So I signed up for another one today.

Being so handicapped, and limited with what I am physically able to do: writing is a real struggle - possible - but really difficult. With the left hand, it looks like the work of  five year old.  Since the right hand continues to be confined in a cast from palm nearly to elbow, anything I can produce (with either hand) looks cramped and cribbed. Hopefully, only two more weeks of this, then on to rehab.

went to work...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
... today, though it only might, maybe, possibly, marginally qualifies as 'work'. The boss decided he could put me on the schedule one day a week to come in and smile for several hours. I am to stand by the platter of tasty bites and say: "would you like to try a sample of our fresh, tasty ________?" Last week it was pineapple chunks. Today it was new crop, fresh south Georgia pecans.

I was putting them in little sample cups, using my left hand and little clear plastic tongs. Thinking if I should ever get to the point where I am really feeling skilled and adept with the little plastic pinchers, I will be ready to eat with chopsticks. In the unlikely event I get sufficiently coordinated to master the wee tongs, moving food from the bowl to my mouth with chopsticks will be a breeze!

It was not a profitable day. I probably gave away two pounds of nuts, and might have sold six of the one pound bags for all my smiling effort. Practicing my smoothest sales pitch, with remarkably poor results. The pineapple chunks were much more successful last week: understandably since that was a BOGO (buy-one-get-one).  While the one pound bags of pecans were so high (even on sale with $1 off), no one was willing to purchase as an impulse item. If it was not on the list, it was not going in the cart.

as a result of ...

Monday, November 13, 2017
... going to that very entertaining musical last Sunday afternoon, I had a hankerin' for more.  I was remembering having seen the movie that came out some years ago about Johnny Cash and June Carter, titled "Ring of Fire." (?) I sent an e-mail to my local library requesting to borrow the DVD.  I have been to my branch twice, hoping to find it had been transferred, but it hasn't come yet.

There is also a bio. about the wild piano playin' man, Jerry Lee Lewis, with Dennis Quaid cast in the leading role. I saw that one years ago, but would love to see it again too. Lewis was definitely a guy willing to live life in the edge. I don't know much about Carl Perkins, who was the fourth guy of that historic "Million Dollar Quartet", other than he was a great guitar player. Here I go, off to google again...

And recently discovered that Kurt Russell did a movie about Elvis. I don't know if the plot is really a biography, or just loosely based on the life of the 'King of Rock 'n' Roll', but with Russell as the lead character, it would have to be good entertainment.  My library procurement source reported that the Elvis movie is on order, but  the other one cannot be located. I know it exists, as I have a very clear memory of being thoroughly astounded at what an outrageous person Jerry Lewis was portrayed to be.  A man who clearly had no hesitation about shocking people with words or actions. And, though slowing down due to age, still scandalously shameless with egregious behavior and uncensored language.

but the real reason...

Sunday, November 12, 2017

... the 'thing' that captured my attention when I saw the flyer from Emory University, was the opportunity to go and see a temporary exhibit of textile arts called 'molas'. What? Molas. No, not some ingredient in Latino recipes. No food or drink allowed in the museum.

Molas are decorative fabric panels made by indigenous people of Panama, specifically those living on islands along the eastern coast, in the San Blas island chain. You probably did not even know Panama had islands, right?I am thinking that the natives did not start making the brightly colored designs until after the Conquistadors invaded their lands.  You remember: bringing Christianity, deadly diseases, wiping out centuries-old cultures and languages. While searching for a new trade route to the far east.

Those 'civilized' Europeans were horrified at the lack of propriety and modesty they discovered among the natives living in the heat and humidity of equatorial lands. In time, the cloth began to be used to make beautiful intricate designs on their clothing, with the aid of technology: scissors! The process is difficult to describe, but fascinating to see. I first heard of these painstakingly produced works of fiber arts when studying art history years ago. Instantly fascinated by the beautiful designs, as well as the time-consuming effort required to imagine, plan and create the finished piece-work.

Perhaps best explained as a combination of applique and quilting. Even though difficult to envision the finished product can be breath-taking when you consider the many hours invested in layout, assembly and completion.  Starting with two contrasting colors of fabric, with many smaller bits of other colors of material sandwiched in between the top and bottom, small slits are cut though the top layer to let the other smaller pieces/colors appear, with the cut/raw edges carefully folded under and hand sewn to create a finished piece.  Designs can be birds, sea life, mammals, native plants, or even abstract, all inspired by and adapted from their surroundings.

I don't think these finely crafted pieces could be done without that nifty addition of sharply honed western technology: scissors used to make those slits and snip tiny holes in the material.  Though it does not outweigh the loss of lives and vanished, irreplaceable cultural history that disappeared under the ravages of European domination, these amazingly intricate works would not otherwise exist. A wee small bright spot that is a result of the greed of the Spanish Queen who financed that first voyage in 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue...

about the field trip...

... that started with the mailed out flyer about special events on the Emory University campus during fall semester. The exhibit I wanted see (long before I fell and broke my arm, resulting in semi-disability) was textiles from Central America. Specifically: amazingly detailed work done by Native Americans. Well worth the trip. On display through the middle of December. I knew waiting another month was not wise, as I have vast experience in The Art of Procrastination.

I actually got much more than I bargained for, as the exhibit included carefully preserved hand woven fabrics from centuries past. There are places in the high dry desert of south America, Peru if I am remembering right, where mummified internments have been found from thousands of years ago. I'm sure there is research out there, readily available at your fingertips about fairly recent discoveries of native burial sites. It seems like I recall having read articles with detailed descriptions, and photos of indigenous peoples, complete with funerary offerings to provide archaeologists with a wealth of information. Perfectly preserved in an arid climate, dressed in their traditional garb for eternity, then found hundreds of years later, leaving students of those ancient cultures with more questions than answers.

The fabrics they were wearing, or used to make bags, baskets or other storage vessels were woven from natural fibers, gathered by locals, or received from afar as trade goods. Baskets and other containers, carefully woven with remarkably intricate designs, and clothing incorporating feathers from native birds. Amazingly complicated patterns depicting animals, and scenes from their natural environment. Carefully planned color schemes using materials they had at hand, or fibers available through established trade routes from different peoples/climates hundreds of miles away.

There were embroidery pieces so meticulously done as to be works of art all these hundreds of years later. Done by very experienced hands exhibiting great skill, using what we would consider to be rudimentary materials and primitive tools. Showing painstaking devotion to their work, and great patience in every minute stitch. Tiny decorative chain-stitching with a single thin thread meticulously done to perfection that far exceeds my handiwork.

interesting little field trip....

.. we took on Saturday, when I went to the city. Almost driving to Atlanta, actually getting to Fulton County, where I left my car in a strip mall parking lot, and went as a passenger. Daughter agreed to pick me up in union City, on I-85 just southeast of ATL airport. I'm doing OK with driving myself single-handedly around well known places, but not yet ready to take on traffic that occurs in there big city metro-area.

I had received a little flyer that had a listing of interesting events scheduled on the Emory University campus during the fall semester. All arts related: musical performances, both vocal and instrumental concerts, a few plays, and special exhibits at the Carlos Museum. It is a really interesting place. Lots of history. I do no know much about the origins, but assume Michael Carlos was  major benefactor?
Hmmm... let me just google that up!

Alrighty, then: the museum was started in 1876. At Emory University, when it was just a tiny little backwater institute in middle Georgia, in the small town of Oxford. Over time, the school relocated to a campus (probably in very rural setting in Decatur at the time of the move) closer to a much larger population base. The museum was renovated/enlarged in recent years, and named for the very generous Mr. Carlos, with donations given in the twenty million dollar range.

I knew the facility housed a large collection of reproductions (as well as quite  few authentic items dating back to the era of the extravagant Egyptian Pharaohs)  from the pinnacle of Greek and Roman civilizations.  It had been years sine I was in the building, and possibly there to see some special exhibit, also recalling a number of pieces of art from Mediterranean area. Architectural detail from temples, statuary from pediments, vases and other smaller items from antiquity. Enough that you could spend the day and not see it all, with reading signage, studying each piece displayed, walking through galleries and perusing items fro the permanent collection.

movies galore...

Friday, November 10, 2017
... were viewed last night. A really surprising turn of events for a couple of reasons: one being the last couple of times I checked movies out at the library, they went back without me even looking at a single one. Primarily because I don't know how to use all three remote controls necessary to start playing the DVD. Plus, by the time they are available though the public/free lending library, they have passed the period of general interest, or demand. When no longer newsworthy, no one cares about seeing the movie: it's 'old news'. Except me, of course, who failed to see stuff on the Big Screen.

It was a damp, cloudy, rainy windy day here. Perfect for sitting on the couch and being immobile. I'd been to the library for more books as reading is generally easy to accomplish with one hand. And randomly checked out five DVDs as well. We looked at three of them starting late yesterday afternoon, and finished about 10:30. Some hardly worth mentioning. But I will, if for no other reason than to save you the misery of thinking they might be worth viewing. 

After enjoying "The Lincoln Lawyer", with the very appealing Matthew McConaughey, I recall having seen it. But it did not all come together until near the end, when I finally remembered, plus he is always pleasant to look at. An interesting tale, with a surprising twist or two.  It seems to me that it was well reviewed when it was released several years ago.  Another, more recent movie that got a lot of critical attention and good reviews, was "Manchester By The Sea", with Casey Affleck. Pretty much everything about the plot-line was distressing: cold, drab, colorless scenery of winter in the northeast, physical and emotional hardships, broken families, but with a surprisingly satisfying ending. I would recommend both of these.

The not-so-hot third one, that we actually played first was "The Chocolate War", based on a novel written by Robert Cormier.  I thought I wanted to view this, after starting the book, though I did not finish it. I vaguely remembered there had been a movie based on the story, and requested it from the library. It might appeal to younger people, adolescents the original book was aimed at. My suggestion is  you would find your time better spent taking a nap.

We have two more to look at tonight...

handy household hints...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

...or possibly useless information dredged up from a dust bunny-filled corner of my brain. I read some place, years ago, that putting balls of  woolen yarn in the tumble dryer would lessen the static electricity build up in clothing. Prevent clothing from clinging - to other clothing, or you - when you are dressing. So when I had a pair of warm cozy wool socks that got holey, I balled them up, like you would do to store in your sock drawer. And tossed them in the the clothes dryer. Two pair in fact, that just live in the dryer.

Occasionally, one of the two will manage to escape. Often disappear within a load of fluffy white things: sheets and towels when I pull a jumble out to take to the other end of the house, dump on a bed to fold. When found at the bottom of the pile, after everything is put away, returned to the dryer.  I recently noticed there was only one pair of balled up socks in the barrel when I opened the door to put in wet items. Baffled as to where the other socks might have escaped, knowing I did not recall finding them in recently folded items. But then that thought slipped away...

Days later, I solved the mystery: when I put on a clean, long-sleeved shirt that was hanging in my closet. Only to find one sleeve blocked/impassable. A pair of balled up socks prevented my hand from exiting the end of the sleeve. Quite amusing discovery! I laughed, then put the socks back in the dryer...


... here overnight, which perfectly suits my dark dreary mood. Usually mostly positive, I will need some sunshine/vitamin D to improve a dismal attitude. Struggling to see those rays of bright glorious light behind the damp, drab, sodden, low-hanging clouds...

My follow-up appt. with hand surgeon was yesterday.  I was very hopeful about receiving good news, telling everyone who asked I hoped to be set free! I had mentally prepared myself to hear him say I would be starting therapy, and be relieved of constricting bindings immobilizing hand. No such luck, sad to say.  Took off all the wrappings.  Removed sixteen stitches: wow that hurt!  Took more x-rays, and gave bad news. It has not grown back together like he planned/expected. So I will be wearing a cast for three more weeks. No bending, no lifting, no using.

With great reluctance, I agreed, accepting the unexpected change of plans.  I feel like I am back to square #1.Came home sad, frustrated, aggravated, disappointed and more sad, sadder, saddest. Willing to take the high-priced advice my health insurance is paying for, but not yet reconciled. Not quite ready or able to be gracious about the continued confining disability.  And left my misplaced optimism right there on the cold, hard, indifferent floor...

no need to...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
... feel ignorant if think you are the only one who never heard about the "Million Dollar Quartet." Nobody else did either, until some one unearthed the photo we saw at the end of the play. The show will run for two more weeks at the Springer Theater here in beautiful Uptown Columbus. I actually thought the story was fiction, made up of whole cloth, until the very end, when we were shown that picture of the four of them gathered around the piano in the Sun Records studio.

We went to the play, based on this obscure event that lasted only a few hours in Memphis back in the 1950's. All four of these guys were fairly young, just getting established as professional musicians, struggling to make their way in the industry. Three of them were, or had been, under contract to Sam Phillips, owner and founder of Sun.The outrageous Jerry Lee Lewis from Louisiana came to try to persuade Phillips to help him start recording. The others: Carl Perkins (wearing the famous 'Blue Suede Shoes'), John Cash (dressed in black from head to toe), and Elvis (wildly gyrating), were artists who greatly benefited by the opportunities provided by Phillips.

Apparently they all showed up at the same place at the same time, in the recording studio. Providing a little footnote to musical history. Making me wonder if any of the songs they would have done together in that late night jam-session survived. The music was great, a most entertaining show.

book review:"The Wages of Sin"...

...written Katie Welsh, with a 2017 copyright. She lives and works in the United Kingdom. This book, her first novel, though she is a journalist, writing weekly columns and appearing on BBC radio programs.

The tale is set in Edinburgh, during the Victorian era, when women were basically considered property, with men dominating every facet of their lives. The lead character is Sarah, sent to live under the watchful eyes of her prim, condescending aunt and narrow-minded uncle who live in Edinburgh. Her desire is to become a doctor, well before the time females were accepted by society as capable or worth the investment to educate. As a first year student, she is often harassed by male students, humiliated by other female students, and belittled by professors.

Sarah is determined to be successful, though when she expresses too much interest in mysterious death of a patient at a clinic where she volunteers, she is opposed by one of the doctors who is her instructor. The plot thickens, more gruesome deaths occur. Sarah is held captive in an unexpected turn of events.

The descriptive references to the gritty lives of the unfortunates are probably very realistic, while painting a very grim portrait of life at that period in history. Only the wealthy got medical care when needed, and by today's standards of both care and sanitation, it was primitive at best. The under class, poorest workers,able to eke out the barest of subsistence, living in the meanest of circumstances, were often doomed from birth. Short difficult lives of continual hardship, rarely escaping their positions in the social hierarchy.

it has been truly ...

Monday, November 6, 2017
...amusing: the thing I have been reporting to anyone who has looked at me and observed my limitations of the past three weeks. I start off with a vague explanation as to how I came to be in this situation of obvious disability, with a non-functioning right hand. It is still attached to my person, so hopefully regaining full range of motion and usefulness is in the future.

Quite amusing to say: 'I was with my cousin at the Willie Nelson concert.'  And let them come to their own conclusions, make wild, unfounded assumptions, and think the worst?  You might, with no more information, believe I was under the influence, possibly a controlled substance was involved? Or just offer sympathy, without the hilarity of concluding we were out there, in the dark at Chastain Park misbehaving like crazy people.

As the inquiring onlookers express interest, and want the story, they receive only a teaser. It has been great fun to watch their brains digest the information. Slowly making connections, putting the piecse together, assembling what has been published in news factiods about Mr. Nelson's history with illicit substance, along with what I reveal. Then they laugh out loud, ending with a smirk, assuming they know some juicy trash.

Truth be told: we wern't consuming any illicit substances whatsoever.  Just singin' along, toe-tappin' and hand clappin', havin' good clean fun. But in retrospect, we should have taken along some Adult Supervision. Someone who would have provided a modicum of caution, thinking ahead to realize a flashlight would have been invaluable while stumbling around in the dark.  Oh, well...

visiting with a friend...

Saturday, November 4, 2017
...dear sweet, generous, caring woman I do no see often enough. I was hoping to persuade her to go with me to a local event next week that sounds interesting, but not intriguing enough to lure me into going alone. She will be out of town, so no dice. But I like her so much, when I discovered her volunteering at Botanical Gardens this morning, I went just to chat.

We have in common: a love of growing things (master gardener volunteers), supporting the place where she was providing assistance (donating time and skills to Botanical Gardens), good food (she enjoys cooking, I like to eat whatever she is stirring up).  In reality, I obviously do not know her very well, as we shared some family history heretofore unknown to the other.  I knew from a mutual friend that an adult son had recently been in an auto. accident and had a badly damaged foot, requiring extensive surgery to repair.

As I inquired about the accidental house guest she has been caring for over recent weeks, while he hopped around her home she told me more of his story. He is old enough to have a family, with adult children in their 20's.  He was in devastating wreck some years ago, resulting in permanent injury, with him being 100% disabled, no longer employable. He has serious brain damage, causing him to be impaired with no ability to make wise decisions, among other issues. Wife walked out, children estranged. More heart-wrenching details...

All of which made my heart ache for this bright, smart, energetic, amusing 2 x cancer survivor. While at the same time, feeling profoundly, thoroughly thankful for clear headed daughters who are employable and employed, productive members of society. I am continually grateful for my own mental acuity as I stumble through financial tangle of dealing with my auntie's care. But hearing of adult children who will never be fully cable of  an independent life makes me all the more aware of oft overlooked blessings. 

after halloweening...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

... when jack'o'lanterns, decorations on the front stoop featuring carved faces (scary or not), and various sizes and colors of pumpkins, it's abruptly over. What to do with the remains? Corn stalks, fall leaves, dead mum plants, caved in grungy items from the farmer's market.

I saw a video recently of elephants having a party with pumpkins. They were in a zoo environment someplace in the mid west - where elephants should never be. Not in the corn belt of the central plains of North America, nor ever incarcerated. But that's best left for another day. They were having a grand time destroying and eating the donated produce.

The giant-sized vegetables were from the state fair. Planted and nurtured, fed and watered to be submitted in the contest for the mostest biggest. An excellent way to get rid of all the contest entry pumpkins: every one's a winner! The mammals were rolling around in the generous serving of the greatest pumpkins the state's farmers had to offer. I expect there were numerous categories and age groups, so the quantity of vegetables grown and shared with the local zoo was plenteous.

The video was so amusing, I suggested in an email to the nearby 'Wild Animal Safari' park they should ask local sources for donations. The grocery stores will be putting pumpkins in dumpsters this week, and destroying edible produce. Perfectly good, usable items that would provide food as well as great entertainment for local captives.

just so you know...

... that I did participate in celebrating All Hallow's Eve on the last day of October, in an off-hand sort of way.  I did not have any plans to observe the day, mostly due to the on-going disability. Otherwise, there is always the opportunity to dress up in any (company-approved) silly costume and wear your bizarre attire to work.  As a result of being literally 'handicapped', I have not been on the clock for over two weeks.

But I received a call on Tuesday afternoon, asking if I was interested in putting in few hours for trick-or-treating. Of course. Yes. Certainly. A three hour paycheck is better than zero. I went home and put on that white graduation gown I recently found that mysteriously appeared in the weekly church laundry. And quickly fashioned myself a little circle for my head from yellow pipe cleaners. Took myself to the store to play silly games and give away candy. Every area of the store was to have a 'game' and give out candy to little people who came through.

Can't say what others were doing, but my little bean bag toss was remarkably lame. Plus everyone wins a prize:a fist full of sugar from the variety of BOGO candies with spooky wrappers. I might have eaten too much chocolate during various lulls in the intermittent stream of Spiderman, Hulk, Batman, Princesses, Minions, pirates, witches. Mildly amusing....

so, what about...

... going to work and being a productive member of society? Or even just going to keep from loosing your job? As will happen if you continue to be  slacker for another two weeks when the computer that does the scheduling for thousands of employees decides you don't work there any longer? Hmmm...

As I understand, the way it works with my employer: if you fail to clock in/out in a month's time, you are not on the payroll. No longer considered to be an associate. Most of the scheduling is done remotely and by technology/logarithms, based on history, factoring in calendar/seasonal events. Meaning if I should not have a 'payroll punch' in the course of four weeks, I would be unemployed.  There is also a rule that you cannot apply for re-hire for six months. I am hoping for 'none of the above'.

as a matter of fact, yes...

... I have been driving with one hand all this time - since the accident on October 14. I did not drive back from Atlanta in that condition, nor was I behind the wheel during those few hours when under the influence of scary drugs.  It didn't take me long to want to put that Rx up on the top shelf in the closet and well out of sight/use. After one night of hallucinating, bizarre dreams I was completely cured of that stuff!

But in order to get to where I want/need to be, I will readily admit  to single-handedly motoring around town. On familiar territory, going places I routinely frequent, where I am familiar with the lay of the land. Doing what I do, making the rounds...

I found myself in a situation last weekend that required more skill than I had readily available: where I had made a commitment I could not keep. A local non-profit was having a fall festival, with vendors, kids fun, food trucks. I had agreed to be there to do face painting, just quick, simple, easy designs on little faces or hands. Sadly, not do-able with my left hand, so I started scrambling to find others who could/would. It was 'way more complicated than it should have been, causing me to feel a sense of desperation. I have discovered volunteering others is far more difficult than offering oneself!

After several days of anxiously awaiting various responses that never occurred, it all came together: a dear friend offered to jump in, unexpectedly, when I called hoping to recruit her teen granddaughters. A huge relief: a replacement - and a responsible adult at that! Then, as things evolved, the whole event was cancelled, due to the likelihood of bad weather.

I still have another week of feeling disabled. I am very curious to see what is under all the wrapping: cotton batting, immobilizing splint, Ace bandage. It all happened when I was oblivious due to drugs, so I have no idea what to expect when unveiled next Wednesday. Also scheduled to start with rehab/exercising program on the same day, and probably not released to work until near year end. 

book review: "Ranger Games"...

.... written by Ben Blum, published by Doubleday, 2017.The subtitle reads: 'A story of soldiers, family and an inexplicable crime.' I heard the author being interviewed when I was driving, listening to public radio. It sounded so interesting I wrote the info. down, and requested it from the library, just finished last week. A fascinating tale that is so unlikely as to be baffling, but surprisingly true.

The author, Ben Blum, is the cousin of the main character, Alex. Young Alex has wanted to join the Army, complete basic training, and become one of the elite Rangers since childhood. Everyone who knows him as a youngster is aware of his desire to complete Ranger training. His family has seen him talk, walk, dress, breathe Army since grade school. Alex finishes high school, talks to a recruiter and signs up. He is dedicated to his goal, devoted to exercise and a healthy lifestyle, serious about his determination to qualify and complete the demanding training required to become a Ranger.

After weeks of basic training, then qualifying for Rangers, he completes the exhausting stressful  Ranger training at Ft. Benning GA. Alex is posted to WA prior to being deployed to the mid-east. He meets an older Ranger who has twice deployed, and this man, Elliott becomes a mentor to Alex. It is not unusual when these men are off duty, as amusement, they will look at their surroundings and plan how to secure the building, or 'take down' the occupants. Just for  entertainment, 'casing the joint', practicing what they have been trained to do in guerilla warfare, talking, egging each other on, though nothing actually happens. At a bowling alley, or fast food eatery, any place they happen to be with overload of testosterone.

Elliott lured Alex into participating in the robbery of a bank near Seattle. Several others recruited by Elliott were involved. Naturally they all were caught and incarcerated. Alex maintained he did not they were serious, actually holding the bank up, when Elliot asked hm to drive the group to the bank. His family was stunned when they realized what this straight arrow, single minded, devotedly Army, patriotic to the core guy had done.

The book is well written and researched. Ben spent years talking to the people involved: meeting with the participants in prison, talking with attorneys, interviewing experts in psychology and brain washing, military personnel, family members.  All done in an effort to piece together how Alex, a man who seemed to be so focused and devoted to making a career of the Army became so naive, and easily lead astray.

w/o adult supervision...

Saturday, October 28, 2017
...when the caregiver/daughter left late in the afternoon to go back to Decatur and tend to her own little family. I knew I would be ok, and sent her on her way to nurse on the disabled at home. She reported the alarm was set to remind me to take meds. in a timely manner  for pain relief.

I took drugs before I went to sleep about 10, after reading a while in bed. And had very vivid, awful, horrible, scarey dreams. Frighteningly realistic, and gruesome. When the alarm woke me, much to my relief, I thought maybe the crazy brain activity was due to high-powered pain Rx. And decided I've had enough freaky stuff in my head, so I'm already back to OTC industrial-strength generic tylenol. It is remotely possible that I could, might, maybe consider taking it at some time in the future: but that overnight experience has likely cured me.

Though I still have some weeks of recovery from hand surgery ahead, I hope to manage decreasing discomfort with over-the-counter pain meds. After bizarre technicolor stuff inside my skull overnight, I feel like I am done with high-powered  Rx. I might not be 100% well, but almost certainly cured from ever taking class IV drugs again.  Too strange for me! 


...can't say for sure, as I don't know. I do not remember a thing. Cannot confirm it happened. I know the doc routinely comes out to speak to family members afterward, so I will just have to assume he did what we agreed upon. Daughter, who was present, said the Doogie-Houser-looking surgeon reported having talked to me in the OR, but did not expect I would not recall anything. They may have just rolled me in that room with all the equipment on carts and bright lights to install a tracking device. Or  a micro- chip like vets do, so anyone who finds me wandering will know who to contact in order to call off the search.

The arm looks to me just like it did before I was wheeled away, splint and ace bandage appear to be unchanged. There is orange betadine staining ends of appendages left exposed, but otherwise, no visible improvements. Upon discharge about 3:00,  I was rolled out the door and provided with 'do's and don'ts', instructional material from the surgeon. There was also a narrow strip of paper, about 3 inches by 12, with pictures. Two photos each of' 'before' and 'after', showing the interior of my hand before repair, and then after the extra parts were installed.


...over and done.  Good as new? Not yet, but optimistically headed in that direction as it will take time, and ample drugs to get me back up to speed. Nothing I cannot tolerate as long as the industrial strength pain killers hold out.

After going to do the pre-registration paperwork a week ago, I was told to expect a call on the day before surgery that would inform about time to arrive for pre-op. The part where they take your clothes away, so you can't escape when you have a change of heart. The call came on Wed. morning for me to appear at 9 a.m. on Thurs. But then another one, a recorded message into voice mail after regular business hours, told of 'appointment with Dr. at 12:00 pm' leaving completely baffled as to what time I should offer up my person as a sacrifice.

I started calling the office/clinic number the minute they opened, and as you might expect, went to voice mail of the scheduling person, who never returned my call, though I tried and tried to get clarification. You most definitely do not want to do anything, like arrive late, to p.o. the surgeon with a sharp knife in his hand. But also did not want to go hours too early in a state of great anxiety, already so thoroughly stressed out my heart was racing.

Though I did not want to go at all, we arrived a few minutes after nine o'clock, in the out patient waiting area, to hurry up and wait. There was no way to tell time, but think I was putting on the little paper gown by 9:30. I was assured of calming meds. as soon as the IV drip was started: too bad that could not have occurred two days earlier as I was freaking out with dread days in advance. When the scheduling person called with ETA for prep. I inquired about a friendly little dose of Atavan, only to get assurance of 'happy drugs' with saline drip.

When the nurse/person in scrubs came to get me from the waiting room, I asked her to check for the actual really real time for rolling into the OR. She reported noon.  My response: Aargghhh. She said by the time we get you prepped and ready, it will be nearly 12. I was instructed 'take off all your clothes', and left with curtains drawn and the crinkly air-conditioned gown. I did not actually take every single piece, if you can read between the lines.

There is a large wall clock in every little curtained off space, above each bed. Positioned for staff to write times of each procedure on chart, to document progress. Thankfully, not where the intended victim can see, as I am 100% certain I would have noticed it going backwards. The IV was started, my surgery arm was marked with a sharpie so he would open the wrong/left one, and drugs began to have the desired effect.