Tuesday, December 31, 2019

End of Year Memories

Late November through December has piled up good memories. Here is one: 

Nine kids--grandkids, great nephews and one great niece congregated on our back porch during a Smoky Mountain Christmas gathering at our house. 

I couldn't get them all in the picture from my perch in a camping chair by our fire pit, but just knowing they were there was a joy.

They are all growing up so fast! 

I’ll be posting a few more end-of-2019 memories in the next decade.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Looking Back

I started a post before Thanksgiving after visiting a blog celebrating the blogger’s post number 2000.

I enjoy her blog and her memories prodded me to take a look at my first post, “New to Blogging.” 

With all the changes life has brought in the past decade since my first post, one thing has not changed. Being concise is still a challenge for this blogger! 

Blessings in the new year!


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas at the Hospital

Hubby and I joined a few other members of his high school graduating class for the December second-Friday reunion breakfast.

Two regulars were missing. Velma and her husband had welcomed me to the group when Hubby and I had first started attending the monthly breakfast at the Harbor House, a popular Biloxi, Mississippi, eatery. 

Another of Hubby's classmates gave us the news: Velma had had emergency bypass surgery and was in her second day in the intensive care unit. 

At the hospital a few hours later, I was happy to learn she had just been settled into a room in the cardiac care wing and was allowed visitors.

She looked so much better than my late mother had after bypass surgery.  I assume that was a good sign of Velma's condition. It is also evidence of the advances in cardiac surgery in the 30 years since Mother's surgery. 

I kept my visit short and was on my way out when this little guy greeted me. 

Cups of Cheer

Coastal Mississippi rarely has snow, but thanks to a creative staff member of the cardiac unit, this snowman made of cups brought a snowy vibe to where the cardiac surgery patients regularly pass on their prescribed walks in the halls.

May that bit of winter whimsy help lift the spirits of those spending this season in the hospital. 


Monday, December 23, 2019

An Early Christmas

The day after Thanksgiving Hubby and I hosted the annual Christmas get-together for Hubby’s clan. 

With the theme Smoky Mountain Christmas we all gathered outside, surrounded by our trees and neighboring wooded properties. 

The adults congregated around the fire with camping fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans and chili. (Photos by Hubby) 
 Weather was perfect Smoky Mountain cool. I'm the ever cold granny wrapped up in the red and white blanket.

There is something about camping and eating outdoors that heightens appetites and togetherness. Even though we weren’t actually camping, there were still second and third helpings, lively conversation, laughter, roasting marshmallows over the fire and building S’mores.

The younger set staked out dining space on the nearby porch. 

Afterwards everyone pitched in to bring leftovers inside, (to thwart forays by the always lurking raccoons).

We all settled inside, ready for our clan’s traditional Dirty Santa gift exchange. The next hour was filled with laughter, groans and glee.

Afterwards sweet treats reigned. My sisters-in-law and nieces are excellent cooks, bakers and candy-makers. 

Niece Stephanie with her Lumberjack Cake. 

Steph created her tasty masterpiece with the help of Pinterest and her mom, our sister-in-law, Lila.

Yes, I indulged in a taste of that Lumberjack Cake and all the other sweet treats and salty eats assembled by talented relatives. 

I also snagged a slice of Daughter-in-law Sarah’s homemade apple pie before it all disappeared. Yum!

A shout-out to Hubby who created the Smoky Mountain atmosphere, prepared food and prepped our home for the gathering. Our two sons helped grill, and all our extended family brought sides and pitched in to make the evening fun.

Hubby topped off the evening with Smoky Mountain mugs for everyone. 

The image on the cups was one of many he has taken through the years in Cades Cove. A drive or bike ride through the Cove is a must when any of our clan visits the Smokies. 

The John Muir quote “The mountains are calling” captures
our extended family’s love of Smoky Mountain environments, history and experiences.


I am so thankful for the blessings  of family, food and fellowship that graced our home and ushered in our Christmas season.

 Now I am savoring those good memories while back on the dietary straight and narrow. . . mostly. 


Friday, December 6, 2019


On our way home from Walmart one afternoon, I saw one of those small buses with a big graphic on the side: Hospice Light.

In Mother’s last few months, our experience with a hospice nurse was a blessing to her and our whole extended family. 

That wonderful nurse brought meticulous care and easing of pain--both physical and emotional. She also had a comforting way of preparing Mother, me, and my out-of-town brother for what to expect. 

Up to the day before she died, Mother was conscious, coherent and so grateful for her nurse. 

That experience made the “Hospice Light” sign disconcerting. My initial reaction was interpreting it as Hospice Lite. What did that mean? Did that mean it offered limited-service care for a reduced rate? 

Or did inclusion of “Light” indicate a spiritual element of care? But I couldn’t fathom anyone choosing such an ambiguous title for any end-of-life service.

I saw the name again on a building near the hospital. Evidently the building was an administrative site for Hospice Light. What an insensitive and confusing choice for a name! 

My irritation ratcheted up another notch.

When I passed a brochure rack in the hall outside my neuro-rehab gym a day or two later, one brochure leaped out at me. I grabbed it with a sigh of relief. No insensitive choices by anyone. Just my not-quite-stellar eye-sight.

The name on the brochure that I could now see clearly was "Hospice of Light."

The next time I saw that bus, my brain processed the essential but hard to see “of” among flowing "artsy" letters. Mystery solved. Irritation banished.

I have to confess; my strong reaction in part stemmed from my years shepherding projects from idea to completion. That usually involved copy editing. I was, and am, obsessive about editing. 

I am so glad that obsession didn’t lead to my whipping out a red marker that day, chasing down the bus and attempting to edit the logo.

It was a near call, though. Fortunately I didn’t own a red marker big enough to edit that van-sized logo.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Footwear Woes

What is wrong with this picture other than the fact that the shoes are well worn and in dire need of a clean up?

Answer below:

Both shoes are for the left foot.

They are from two pairs of old, old New Balance athletic shoes that look almost identical. I grabbed the two from my closet and started my one-handed process for getting them on and tied. 

But something looked and felt wrong. Duh!

I bought these after my 2011 stroke. They fulfilled strict specifications my physical therapist from neuro rehab gave me. 

Both pair have served me well. But now it is time to shop for new walking shoes that, like my old ones I can put on with one hand! 


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rollator Named

Thanks to all who posted potential names for my rollator. I got a kick out of the names and comments.

Suggested names:

Addy, short for Adventures, from Mad Snapper

Maggie and Abby, also from Mad Snapper

Rolly the Rascal from Great Granny Grandma

A "like" for Rascal from Photowannabe 

I went with how dog breeders name those pedigreed pooches—long names shortened in everyday usage. 

So "Rolly the Rascal" is the long version. "Rascal" is for when I am encouraging it to get me across less than smooth surfaces, or I'm grumbling about its independent actions.

Rascal has slightly bigger wheels than most rollators and it works better on surfaces we encounter camping or walking in local parks. 

The width does present a challenge when we visit homes or businesses with doors that are not as wide as those in our house that was built to accommodate wider rollators and wheelchairs.

Mad Snapper's recommendation of Addy, short for “Adventures,” suggests a compliant rollator perfect for indoor adventures. And that is a good name for a more narrow rollator I plan to add to my “helpers” soon.

Thanks to you my rollators present and future are named! 

Maggie and Abby were already taken among our acquaintances. Our pastor's daughter is Maggie and a granddaughter's friend is Abby.

A final paragraph in this post just disappeared and the go-back arrow didn't make it reappear. Blogger is also doing some other weird things. Posting anyway. 

From the Blue Ridge Parkway visitor center in the background to our van, Rascal and I navigate the October fog. (Photo by Hubby)


Friday, November 15, 2019

Present Day Life with My Rollator

Casting a long shadow
Almost three years after my rollator prep on the bridge, I can happily affirm that having a rollator offers giant-sized satisfaction for me! 

Hubby and I indulge in early morning or evening walks on our town’s paved Front Beach walking path, me with my rollator, Hubby with either his Nikon or my iPhone. 

He was behind me when he took the photo above. The rising sun created our combined giant-sized shadow.

Being outside and enjoying the breezes, views, walking path and sense of community with other beachgoers is priceless. My rollator is a huge factor in those experiences. 

A sunset walk at the beach (Photo by Hubby)

Having a rollator as a part of our family is not without mishaps, though. During a recent trip in the Smokies and Blue Ridge mountains, we stopped at a pullout in Virginia for Hubby to rearrange some items rattling around in the back of our van. 

He lifted my rollator out of the sliding side door, set it down a few feet from the van and set to work securing things inside. I stayed seated in the passenger seat, enjoying the vistas around me and the mill ponds 40 or so feet on the mountainside below.

What neither of us realized was the rollator was not locked. It was taking its own scenic tour down the adjacent slope, an extremely steep slope. 

I was oblivious; but as soon as he stepped out of the van, Hubby realized the racket he heard while he was in the van was the rollator’s escape. He alerted me that he was going to retrieve it. 

Soon he was back with the errant rollator, and we hit the road again. 

He had avoided going down that steep mountainside and found an easier descent down a gently sloping path past the millponds and the rushing stream that long ago powered a mill.

I am embarrassed to admit that I had stuffed the rollator basket with brochures and fact sheets I had collected at visitor centers and other sites but had never read. Most of his mountainside retrieval operation was gathering up that collection. 

It occurred to me that in addition to showing its age, my rollator has taken on a personality of its own. 

Maybe I need to give it a name the way old cars or trucks earn a name when they become part of the family, just like the first car of my childhood memories, a 1947 Chevrolet my parents dubbed “Old Betsy.”

I have yet to come up with a name that captures the rollator’s  character: usefulness spiced with a dash of mischief. 


Monday, November 11, 2019


Retirement Daze and I have been missing in action. 

Testing now to see if retirementdaze.com is back online! 


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Rollator Prep: Part Three of Three

My final challenge in the neuro therapy bridge session was getting down the steps from bridge to street level. Rollators aren’t designed to navigate stairs.

No problem! I just got a good grip with my right hand for balance and expected to get the job done. Right?


Ashley had a different agenda: No hands and don’t look down at your feet. 

Terror attack!

My right hand kept just automatically kept reaching for that sturdy, reliable railing. And Ashley kept reminding me, “No holding on!” 

I finally hit upon a strategy that succeeded. I held my right hand up high. When I started to reach for the security of that banister, the movement reminded me that particular action was a no-no. 

My effort didn’t reduce my fear or improve the placement of my stroke-affected left foot. But by the smiles, it seems Ashley and Charlie appreciated my attempts. 

Or maybe they just found humor in my method for making that right hand comply with instructions.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Rollator Prep: Part Two of Three

Heading up.
Before my falls started in 2015, walking the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge was a weekly occurrence. A concrete barrier separating the traffic lanes from the “people” lane provided an ideal source of balance. 

I could touch it on the way up and hold on to a round railing on the way back down. Whoever was walking with me helped me navigate the distance from the concrete barrier to that railing on the “water-view” side for the trip back down.

A challenging uphill trek.

That day, though, my sense of safety with the rollator came from the fact that both Ashley and Charlie were holding my gait belt. I knew they would not let me fall.

Looking back it seemed the rollator lessons were a metaphor for my whole stroke experience. God’s hand was on me when the blood vessel broke in my brain and through challenges and joys ever since. I know He is with me now. 

Going down the bridge’s fairly steep incline was a lot scarier than going up. Scary but exhilarating. 
I knew I was in good hands.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Rollator Prep: Part One of Three

On a chilly November morning almost three years ago, Hubby and I met my Ocean Springs Neuro Rehab pros at the bridge that spans Biloxi Bay.

I was there for training to use a rollator safely and effectively. Hubby made sure I got to the bridge. He also fulfilled my request that he take photos. 

Physical therapist Ashley briefs me as tech Charlie puts a gait belt on me, a standard safety precaution during neuro rehab sessions. 
Can you tell I had used the snatch-and-grab method of dressing? But I did get there on time and was ready for the cold plus the potential for strong winds that often occur on that bridge.

Ashley straps my stroke-affected left hand to keep it on the rollator.
I had high expectations that the little four-wheeled rolling walker would give me a bit more independence and Hubby some relief from worrying about my falls that had started the year before.

The trial journey begins.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Nature’s Artistry

Rainy-day Art (iPhone photos by Hubby)

A heavy rain in June did more than water our thirsty St. Augustine grass. It also turned a huge spider’s web into a sparkling jeweled creation.

View from the side

When I first spotted the huge spider it only had a small web. My online searching turned up a gazillion photos of spider species, and I finally found a photo that matched my gal. The big spider and web artist below is a female orb weaver.
Orb weaver and potential mate

The little brown spider in the upper corner is a male. One online article I found said the male would sometimes hang out in the web until the female had captured and consumed lots of prey. 

The objective: To make sure before they tie the knot that she has eaten enough and is robust enough to have lots of spider babies with his DNA.

Hmmmm. I sure am glad humans don’t use those same metrics for choosing a mate. Even though I had an embarrassingly voracious appetite in my younger days days, my weird metabolism kept me on the edge of looking anorexic, far from looking robust. 

That is NOT something I miss. And even though I do miss being able to consume whatever and however much I want to eat, Hubby and I are getting a better handle on creating satisfying and enjoyable diabetes-friendly meals. 

Mrs. Orb Weaver doesn't have that problem. She has grown bigger and is capturing larger prey. 
Golden-silk orb weaver and her prey. 


Friday, October 11, 2019

Not Only the Printed Word

Although Ocean Springs Municipal Library is relatively small, it offers programs, special events and, of course, books for all ages and interests.

Hubby and I have fallen into a mid-morning routine of heading to the library, usually on a Tuesday. We rarely check out a book, but printed books are not the sole lure.

For both of us the library is a comfortable environment removed from our home where tasks large and small clamor for attention. 

Hubby works in an out-of-the way spot. 

Hubby works on a project that he is keeping quiet about. I assume it is a writing project. He won’t confirm or deny, but when we are heading home he usually shares whether he has made progress or was mired in frustration. 

Either way he is undaunted and I think pleased that the library offers nooks that make for mostly uninterrupted concentration.

I choose a spot not as secluded as Hubby’s. I savor the atmosphere that is quiet but humming with staff and with patrons from toddlers to elders, all engaged in mind-stretching activity.
A comfortable stretch for legs and mind

The toddlers are not always quiet, but it makes me smile that they are being led into the habit of including books and library in their lives.

Wee ones take an imaginary voyage on the very real King Beaver dugout canoe, one of the library’s temporary exhibits. 

A big “thank you” to Sue, the librarian who retrieved the dugout canoe photo above for me from the Friends of the Library site.


Monday, September 30, 2019


Edible art
Our niece Lauren has started up a cookie-making business. She is a warrior at heart but an injury means soon she will officially leave the military work she loves.

Her injury was not life threatening. It was, however, life changing. She says little about the lingering pain and frustration.

For bulldog fans

Instead, her active “can do” nature has her charging ahead. She is considering options, experimenting with one of her ideas and learning--and earning--as she goes.

She has christened her new brainchild, “Sugar Mae Cookies.” She chose the name in honor of her late grandmothers. 

Her dad’s mother was Shirley Mae. Her mom’s mother was tagged with the nickname “Sugar” as a child. It stayed with her as an adult and morphed into “Grandma Sugar” thanks to Lauren and the other grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Now Lauren is turning out a steady stream of treats that are already finding fans. Her grandmothers would have been pleased with the name of her fledgling business. 

They would also have been proud of the palate-pleasing cookies and the variety of her artistic decorations that characterize this new enterprise.

To see more of Lauren's treats: Sugar Mae Cookies  

Way to go Lauren!