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.