Sunday, June 30, 2019

Food, fun and family

NOTE: The post below has been languishing unpublished since mid-2016 when I took my unexpectedly extended break from blogging. Another Independence Day is almost here again, and much has changed--jobs, addresses, and grandchildren's growth spurts. Although I'm not certain what to expect other than heat and humidity, I am beginning my July 4 celebration early, looking back via that unpublished post as I drafted it in July 2016:

Independence Day this year posed the biggest test yet for how our new downsized home will accommodate additional bodies overnight.

Our guests numbered six for four nights and seven for the fifth night. A little creative use of every space included two beds, two window seats almost eight feet long each, and the floor with several air mattresses. Everyone had a spot for snoozing. 

That left us free to savor the holiday, some coast attractions and togetherness.

Our oldest son Walt’s Georgia tribe of six was here July 1-5, and son Jeremy was here July 4-5. It was the first overnight stay in our new house for Walt’s family.

Walt had booked a half-day charter for July 3 on a boat captained by our nephew Ryan Byrd. Hubby and I opted to stay home and stay cool.

The Georgia crew’s successful morning supplied redfish, Spanish mackerel and other tasty species for two July 4 gatherings plus abundant filets to take back to Georgia.

That evening DIL Sarah marshaled us to the beach for our community’s annual July 3 fireworks.  We ate cold watermelon and watched the fireworks light up the night sky. There was even a cool breeze to relieve the typical heat and humidity.

Jeremy arrived July 4 with his equipment for a fish fry. The brothers worked together, frying fish in the July heat.

We enjoyed the meal inside, though. I do appreciate air conditioning. The fish, hush puppies and Sarah’s homemade apple pie with ice cream for dessert were perfect holiday fare.

Our younger generations’ taking charge was definitely an unexpected and happy treat. It was a memorable Independence Day—food, fun and family.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Getting a charge out of life

I recently needed a new battery for the Bioness L300 Foot Drop System that helps me walk.

The battery I needed has a six-month life--approximately. The “approximately” part has been a problem for this forgetful Bioness user. 

If there are warning signs before the battery bites the dust and my Bioness quits totally, I don't recognize them. No problem that can’t be solved by a quick run to Walmart or a local drugstore, right?

Wrong! Walmart and local drugstores that Hubby checked up on for the most recent battery replacement revealed they no longer carry the battery required. Back at home, he checked Walmart’s website. It did offer the battery through another vendor, and he quickly completed the online transaction.

I used a brace until the order arrived, but it is not ideal. I tire more quickly than I do with the Bioness. About a week later I asked when the order was supposed to arrive.

“Arrived in today's mail,” he said. Then with a mischievous smile he added, “There is more than one, and you have to find them. All of them are inside the house, in plain sight." 

I quickly found four but he told me to keep searching. There were more. Some of the “hiding places” made me laugh out loud. When I couldn't find any more batteries, I decided to look for the others as I went about household tasks. 

I made a trip to our bedroom with my rollator to put clean clothes away and spied the last two batteries on a pillow.

I am positive, well, almost positive, that they weren’t there at the beginning of the battery quest.

I think my resident prankster had mercy on me and moved them so I could find them more easily.

Thanks to his battery prank, laughter filled the house and the Bioness device was zapping my leg once again. definitely got a charge out of life that day. 


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Thank You!

Thank you for the visits and comments. The encouragement means so much as I relearn how to actually publish a blog post in a readable condition.

I appreciate that some of the wonderful bloggers who made such a difference in my mental and physical state after my 2011 stroke are continuing to publish.

Your current blog posts and your comments on my posts still have the power to lift my spirits and strengthen my will to keep trying, especially during these attempts to return to blogging. 

One of the challenges now is figuring out what has changed, and how to navigate procedures that once were automatic to me. 

On some of my favorite blogs, for example, I can type in a comment, but there evidently are steps I’m missing to get it to “take.” I know the solution is probably obvious, and I will eventually stumble on the answer.

I’m also struggling with posting photos.  Every time I think I have mastered all the steps in the process, on the very next attempt I seem to have forgotten a step. I have to fumble around again until I hit on the right procedure. 

It is getting easier, though. I know it will get even easier as I keep at it, but I still have to resist the urge toward grinding teeth and moaning to Hubby. 

And I am not editing images at all . . .yet. When my computer’s misbehavior crippled my iPhoto program and Apple inflicted the new Photos program on me several years ago, a mostly enjoyable and satisfying process ceased. 

Until I get myself together in that area, I SHALL persevere. And yes, those caps do indicate a shout. That shout is an effort to bolster my determination to work through all those roadblocks that I allowed to thwart previous attempts at resurrecting

Hubby also deserves a "thank you." He has helped me more than once to resolve photo-posting challenges. 

Whew! I think I will sign off now and go have some cheese with my whine.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

They make me smile

I have no talent for gardening. But blossoms, whether in someone’s landscape, from a florist, or growing wild, are a source of pleasure.

A birthday bouquet of tulips in a sumptuous variety of rich colors offered a week of delight. The tulips also reminded me of Luke 12:27KJV.   

“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” 


Monday, June 17, 2019

Pleasure and pain

 March 2016 I opened a recap of our 2015 travels with the selfie below. That image reminds me of the wonderful sights, fabulous food and one-of-a-kind experiences we encountered on a nine-day Baltic Sea cruise. 
The Norwegian Star, left, our home for nine days in 2015 (Photo by Hubby)

That photo gives no hint that a few days later I would spend almost 24 hours in bed in our cabin, the result of a fall from a misstep on the way to dinner on the ship. 

I felt little pain immediately after the fall.  

I don't remember if anyone helped Hubby get me up off the floor and into the transporter. At my repeated assurances that I was fine, he rolled me to the restaurant and helped me transfer to a chair. We enjoyed a delicious steak dinner and decadent desserts.

Things changed when I attempted to stand and transfer back into the transporter. Extreme pain fostered a fear that I may have damaged something after all. The response of the ship’s crew was stellar. I was soon in the clinic, examined by the ship’s doctor and undergoing x-rays. 

The verdict was “no broken bones, just everything twisted and stretched.” The doctor cautioned me that I was going to experience a lot of pain. She sentenced me to bed rest and regular doses of painkillers for that night and the next day. 

And I was eager to take them. I also appreciated Hubby’s careful maneuvering of me on bathroom breaks and his calmness and sympathy throughout all my moans, groans and whimpers. I am a weenie when it comes to pain. 

The ship had arrived at Stockholm during the night, but the next morning I just wanted to keep sleeping. I slept through Hubby’s time exploring Stockholm. He woke me about 4 p.m. as the ship started its voyage back out to the Baltic Sea. 

My pain had diminished, and I enjoyed the changing panorama that I could see through the sliding glass doors that led to the balcony outside our cabin. 

I didn’t get to set foot on Swedish soil, but the view as the ship sailed from the port toward the Baltic is among my favorite travel memories. The sun on that May afternoon washed an ethereal glow over picturesque homes and churches on the steep, wooded hillsides and over the boathouses, piers and water below.

The beauty I savored made me thankful for a God who provides not only our needs but also glorious surprises.

My view as we departed Sweden (Photo by Hubby)


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tuesday afternoon visitor

This visitor startled me when I looked out the window above our kitchen sink. The moth's wingspan had to be at least five inches.

With the backlighting I couldn’t see markings that would help me identify it, but it was impressive. 

We share our heavily wooded property of almost an acre with a variety of wildlife, including an abundance of insects. Hubby says we live in a jungle.

Sometimes that is entertaining; sometimes it is aggravating. But it is always interesting.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Travel pleasure

A recent trip to my Mississippi hometown was a treat on several levels. 

Treat #1 was attending Granddaughter Charlie’s ballet recital. It was an excellent production of the ballet Don Quixote, based on the famous novel by Miguel Cervantes. We enjoyed seeing how our granddaughter had progressed in her favorite genre of dance.

Don Quixote and trusty servant Sancho Panza offer welcome in the theater lobby.

Treat #2 was the venue for the ballet, the refurbished Saenger Theater, a part of my childhood memories of downtown Hattiesburg.

(Photo by Hubby)

Treat #3 was the pleasure of having our oldest son and his family now living about 90 minutes away instead of six or seven hours. Following the recital the eight of us shared a meal at our son’s favorite burger eatery, complete with lots of  conversation, laughter, and delicious comfort food. 

Oh, and there was also a Treat #4. With our Georgia tribe’s relocation to Hattiesburg, the visit was a day trip, and we slept in our own bed that night. Yes! 

I suspect a preference for sleeping in one’s own bed is a sure sign of old age.

Sweet dreams!

Charlie (between her mom and me) surrounded by parents, siblings and paternal grandparents.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Coffee Anyone?

Mississippi coffee art

Hubby loves coffee. I love hot tea. 

We both love visiting new-to-us coffee shops when we travel. But there is nothing quite so satisfying as visits to our familiar coffee shop haunts closer to home.

Coffee Fusion, just a few blocks from our house, is almost a second home to us. Mornings we usually see other “regulars” and visit awhile before we settle in with our hot beverages and fire up our computers.

Once a week we meet Hubby’s siblings and their spouses there in the evening for coffee, smoothies, and, in my case, water. We solve the world’s problems, catch up on grandkids and report on recent adventures. 

We also celebrate birthdays with a huge slice of Italian cream cake and six forks. It is so rich that sharing satisfies the sweet tooth as well as our mutual determination to stay as healthy as possible.

About once or twice a month the urge hits Hubby and me to take the 45-minute drive on U.S. 90 along the beach to our second favorite, Cat Island Coffee House. 

The view of beach, Mississippi Sound and Pass Christian Harbor is relaxing, and a big plus is that they serve the hot drinks in large ceramic cups instead of Styrofoam.

The structure, with indoor and outdoor seating, is a modern architectural gem designed to house both the coffee house and Pass Christian Books. 

Even though I usually read e-books instead of print versions since my stroke, I savor being surrounded by the enticing array of regional books, brightly colored children’s books, new fiction and nonfiction. The second floor loft is totally dedicated to books to browse and buy. 

Whether at the homey local coffee shop, the modern beachfront shop or coffee houses we find during travel, our reaction is the same. 

Hubby and I find pleasure in the hot drinks, warm welcomes and interesting people that we usually encounter.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ancient History: Fun in ICU

In the local intensive care unit after my 2011 hemorrhagic stroke, I started waking up at 1 or 2 a.m. 

Such early morning hours pre-stroke had rarely released me from deep sleep. I also experienced boredom, something I had never encountered pre-stroke. 

For a little while I entertained myself with exercises a speech therapist had assigned me.The exercises involving contortions of face, lips and tongue in front of a mirror would send me into spasms of hilarity. But there still remained hours until breakfast and visitors. 

Before the stroke I had been reading in the book of Proverbs in my annual read-through of the Bible. It finally occurred to me that the mornings of extended quiet time presented an ideal opportunity to continue reading. 

When a nurse checked on me, I asked if I could borrow a Bible. He came back shortly with a Gideon Bible.

The first verse I read in Proverbs was 3:23, I think. Or I could have imagined the whole thing. I was floating in and out of consciousness and my own little universe. 

Proverbs 3:23(KJV) "Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble."

I remember thinking God has a funny bone, evidenced by His putting that particular verse before me. At that stage it took two strong ICU nurses helping me just to stand, turn and sit on the bedside potty to take care of business. 

And just in case I didn’t get God’s message, in the next chapter I read Proverbs 4:12(KJV) “When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.” 

That made me chuckle and bask in a certainty that had nothing to do with my abilities, disabilities, determination, or the strength of my faith and everything to do with the character of God. My Lord and Saviour held me in his hand and would never let me go. 

It was days—or maybe weeks—later before I could look back and articulate experiencing the comfort and assurance of God’s never-ending presence with me. 

As more weeks passed, I began to realize that the stroke journey was to be a long one, a lifelong one. I also recognized that I needed to be thankful to God for wiring my damaged brain to find humor and fun everywhere, especially in challenging and potentially embarrassing situations I faced.

I still face challenges old and new, some a bit more daunting than others. But what steadies me is the reality that He was with me then and He will be with me now, whatever happens.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Memories awakened: My only poem

I love words, but poet I am not. I did, however, venture into verse years ago. The result was selected for my high school’s annual “literary” publication, The Purple and Gold, named after the school colors.

Hubby found that 1965 publication as we continued to cull mementoes from before and during our almost 52 years of marriage.

It released vivid memories of that poetry-writing experience. My senior English teacher Mrs. Aultman had tasked our class with a creative writing assignment. Essay, short story, poem, TV script, whatever we chose to do.

Prose was my choice, and multiple false starts left me long past bedtime with nothing to hand in the next day. And there were assignments from other classes still unfinished as well.

I don’t recall that I had procrastinated . . . in this instance. It was senior year and filled with activities related to school work, co-editing the high school newspaper, social festivities, graduation.

Procrastination was my typical strategy, though, and this challenge was probably no exception. I was filled with the angst of a teenaged, despairing, procrastinating, self-centered me, internally moaning that I was too busy living to enjoy life.

“That’s it! That’s what I’ll write about.” My next thought was “poem.” A poem could be short, extremely short. In no time I had nine lines that expressed exactly what I felt.

I worked on it until my fledgling sense of words and rhythm was satisfied. Then on to other assignments that now no longer seemed so daunting.

Here’s that poem:

A Plea
By Linda Carpenter

There escapes warm happiness.
Off flies electric love of life,
Just in reach of one goal longed for
When hosts behind it come in view,
Demanding, screaming, commanding me.

What hope! I cry. Will it ever end?
Then on I rush four steps behind
Where I should have been,
Too busy living to enjoy life.

The next day I turned it in and forgot about it. The oddest thing about that whole experience was that sometime later Mrs. Aultman approached me in a stairwell. Students and teachers were already in the classrooms. I was headed to various classrooms to deliver messages from principal and counselors, part of my duties as that class period’s “office girl.”

Her manner seemed almost furtive. She asked me if I had written that poem or if perhaps I had seen it somewhere. I was stunned.

What had I done to make her even consider such a thing? But did I voice that question? I meekly assured her that it was my own work. I didn’t tell her that I never read poetry unless it was assigned. I didn’t tell her about how I came to write that poem, and she didn’t ask.

She said “The Plea” had been selected for the “Purple and Gold.” I nodded, still bereft of speech. She strode away. I never asked her why she had to ask, but I often wondered.

Since that passion-inspired brush with poetry, there has been no other poetic outpouring. I don’t count the goofy limericks  occasionally fired off to relatives and friends through the years.

Prose remains my avenue to writing satisfaction and to reading pleasure and enrichment. Thankfully, my teenaged plea no longer applies.

I treasure that little poem, though, as part of a season of my life. But these days I am blessed to be busy enjoying life with contentment. I do still deserve the procrastinator label, but not as often as in earlier years.