Friday, May 20, 2022

Frustration

Gnashing of teeth has accompanied my recent outings in the blogosphere. 

Commenting on posts of bloggers I've found through blogs I already follow may or may not work. I can still publish comments most of the time on posts of bloggers I already have on my reading list. 

As much as I love visiting blogging friends, I also enjoy getting acquainted with new-to-me bloggers and adding them to my reading list.

Guess this non-techie granny will have to do some research before that happens!

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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Walking for fun and health



One of four mosaic murals on Ocean Springs-
Biloxi Bridge

Looking through some of my old iPhone photos has brought back memories and questions. 

My favorite place to walk used to be the ultra-safe walking lane on the bridge spanning Biloxi Bay between Biloxi and Ocean Springs, where we live. The bridge was built after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the old bridge.

For me it was an added pleasure walking on that bridge because of the role that a former student of mine had in the design of the new bridge.

In 1970, Connie Moran was a student in one of my ninth-grade English classes that I taught in Ocean Springs. 

By the time Hurricane Katrina arrived 35 years later, Connie was mayor. It was a turbulent time of loss, grief, making do, and charting recovery for coast cities and residents. 

I was proud of her for taking a stand that the new bridge should offer more than transport across the bay between Ocean Springs and Biloxi. 

She fought for features to be incorporated that would highlight the beauty of our town's history and natural environment and complement its reputation for giving residents and visitors opportunities for enjoying the outdoors through work, play, art and healthy exercise.

I continue to appreciate the decisions made by Connie and others who have contributed to people-friendly areas throughout our town.  

My second favorite place to walk was the paved walk that started near the bridge and stretched along the beach from the bridge for about a mile to the Ocean Springs Harbor. If I got tired I could sit down on the concrete barrier separating the walk from the sand beach.

That gave me a perfect position to enjoy the breeze, the view, and the opportunity to observe Hubby's explorations as well as the activities of boaters and other beach goers. I especially enjoyed the joy of kids playing in the sun, sand and water.

That drive back home was another chance to soak up the satisfying vistas of shrimp boats, sailboats, other vessels large and small, salt marsh, birds, bay and sky.

More local bridge art

When a later hurricane messed up the beachside paved walk, ongoing repairs had Hubby and me trying out alternative places for walking.  

With age, weather, increased activities with family, friends and church, my walking routes have changed dramatically, and we are still walking the "alternatives."

One of those alternatives is our house, built to accommodate my stroke challenges. We have a lovely ramp with railings from our driveway to our entry door. 

The concrete is exposed aggregate which I really like. The entry door is painted a "Remington Red" that I picked out and still love. That red door doesn't directly affect my walking ability, but it does boost my spirits.

Inside, our two bedrooms are separated by French doors that are open unless we have overnight company. When it's too hot, too cold, too rainy or too windy, I can still make the circuit around the inside of our home to keep moving. 

About three to four times around make a tenth of a mile. So with walking to do inside chores, it is not that hard to make a mile.

But the reality is that I need more than a mile to keep up my strength and my "want to." It's a great day for me if I can see that iPhone mileage registering well above a mile! 

Another factor in a great day is reading about blogging friends who are walking way beyond my distance. Their experiences offer a huge boost to my determination! 

Bless you fellow bloggers! Thank you for setting a great example, in both the physical exercise category and also with choosing to find joy in life, often in the midst of personal challenges.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Getting the Message

We have been attending the same Bible-teaching church for about a decade. 

But age and my stroke-associated conditions have been signaling a need for a change in our routine for some time.

I love the people, the messages and the option of the Thursday night services. But whichever service, the loud music from the praise band has had us removing our hearing aids and stuffing our ears with pieces of tissue.

Also, I had come to long for the sermons-in-a-song of hymns that were the sound track for my growing up years and most of my pre-stroke years. 

Hubby had been visiting other churches for a while in addition to attending those Thursday night services at what I'm now calling "our old church." 

After one Sunday visit, Hubby reported he had found a church, Grace Baptist Church in our hometown, with a worship service that still included hymns.

Yes! 

I was all in when he wanted me to visit that church with him the upcoming Sunday. But even before Sunday rolled around, we had a visit from the associate pastor and his wife from Grace Church. Pleasant temperatures that day provided for a relaxed, enjoyable get-to-know-you time on our screened porch. 

Hubby found common ground concerning the values and focus of the church. Like us, the couple had grown children with growing families. 

Unlike us, they still had one more in the nest, 13-year-old Jude.

My subsequent visit to that church on the following Sunday was joyful. But I still wasn't ready to let go of the Thursday night services at our "old" church.

Then a week later, in the Thursday night service of our old church, the stage lights were set to red and purple.* 

Suddenly my brain felt weird, like something was crawling around in my skull. 

It was scary. I had already survived a hemorrhagic stroke from a ruptured blood vessel in my brain a decade earlier. Were the lights triggering something serious about to happen again? 

I immediately closed my eyes. Then I kept my eyes focused on the floor during the rest of the service. 

Even once the auditorium lights came back on after the praise band left the stage, I was scared to look up.

That Thursday night scare pushed me closer to a change.

After two Sundays attending services at the new church plus a Friday as "stand-in grandparents" to Jude at a Grandparents Day event, we are now regulars at Grace Church's Sunday morning service.

Jude, left, our "grandson for a day" with Hubby and me
serving as substitute grandparents

 A few of the things that called to me:

--Sermons about Jesus crucified, risen and seated in heaven with God the Father; 

--Sermons about God's promises and the activity of Jesus and the Father in the lives of Christ followers through God the Holy Spirit;

--Music from Hubby's and my "old days" with a choir, grand piano on one side of the church and organ on the other side. 

--Those sermons-in-a-song, hymns offering praise to and worship of God. 

--Robust congregational singing with lots of those old familiar hymns and some that were new to me. 

We have attended the morning worship service at that small church for several Sundays now. We are still becoming acquainted with people, schedules and ministries involved.

We have also continued attending our old church's small group Bible studies that we have been in for a number of years. 

I cherish the lessons learned, friendships strengthened and "doing life together" in those groups and am reluctant to leave those.

But God has a plan for us. I just have to let Him--and Hubby--lead and not fret or run ahead of God's plan.

*As I write this I can't remember if those lights were actually red and purple or just one of those colors. Not my first time to experience memory challenges!

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Sisters-in-law


Lila, talented seamstress
and great encourager

Recently I had a busy day with Lila, one of my three dear sisters-in-law. Lila is an accomplished, creative seamstress. 

Through the years she has helped me select fabrics and then done the sewing for numerous projects from clothing to decorating the downsized home we built nearly a decade ago.

Since my hemorrhagic stroke in 2011, she also makes it possible for me to go shopping. She helps me make it safely from her vehicle to the store, providing her left arm for me to hold on with my right hand so I can keep my balance. 

Lately our fabric shopping has been at Hobby Lobby. Once inside I transfer to holding on to a shopping cart.

My contribution is pushing the cart as she pulls out bolts of material and we decide on fabrics for my projects and some for her family projects. 

With our choices loaded into the cart, we head to the lady who cuts off the fabric from the bolts.

I'm in awe of my SIL and that lady who measures and cuts lengths of the fabric we need. That wonderful Hobby Lobby employee and my SIL both do rapid-fire arithmetic in their heads. 

I would have difficulty doing those calculations, even with a calculator.

After checking out we headed to her car for the next phase of our outing.

We always end our shopping excursions with lunch, my treat at an eatery of Lila’s choice. This time it was a beach-side barbecue joint that both of us had been wanting to try. 

It did not disappoint. And portions were so generous that I had a box of leftover pulled-pork from my order that Hubby and I shared for our next meal.

The makeup of some people is to be ever conscious of the need of other individuals and just how to meet that need.

My mother had that gift and so does Lila. Being a stroke-survivor has made me even more aware of such individuals. I cherish the blessings lavished on me by my spouse, relatives, friends, strangers and a loving God.

When I feel like moaning about a health challenge or frustration at an inability to do something, thoughts of the blessings heaped on me get this old lady back on the thankful track.

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Friday, April 8, 2022

Advice needed!

My comments on longtime blogging friends' post show up but on others don't my comments don't  "take." 

As usual, I am sure that the problem is my total lack of persistence in ferreting out the "how to" of solving the mystery. 

ARGGH!

Monday, April 4, 2022

Happy Pains

Tomorrow we will be making an easy two-hour drive to attend the confirmation of Nate, our second oldest grand.

How quickly they are all growing up. As usual, these once-in-a-lifetime events set me to revisiting the past. 

Prior to the birth of our first child 50 years ago, I attended one of those classes the hospital sponsored for their pregnant patients.

That first child is now the father of Nate and three more of our six grandchildren.

But in 1971 I had no prior experience in the process of ushering new little humans into the world. I naively took every word at that hospital class as gospel.

December 23, I began to "feel funny." It was a bit earlier than the date my obstetrician had predicted. So clueless me, I considered it interesting but not an eminent sign that our little one was on the way. 

My father-in-law and mother-in-law, AKA Grandma Sugar, had come over to share our supper of pork chops and veggies. 

Grandma Sugar had also agreed to help me make pralines.  

Her pralines were magic in the mouth. I wanted to share that magic as Christmas gifts for friends and relatives. I also wanted her advice about my weird feelings as she was mom to three offspring.

When I described what my body was experiencing, she assured me this was not "THE DAY." I figured she would know.  

After the pralines were done and the visiting over, they departed for home. A little later that evening, those sensations I experienced had intensified and were increasingly hard to ignore. 

Now both Hubby and I were becoming a bit anxious. We called the doctor. Our call went to his answering service.

The female who answered informed me he was unavailable. By that time, I was convinced I was about to pop a baby out. She explained the doctor was at a Christmas party. 

She did not want to disturb his celebrating. I was persistent and a little delirious. She reluctantly put me through.

When he answered, he was quite irate at the interruption of his festivities. Hubby and I were suddenly both giggling maniacally. I finally gasped out "Do I need to come to the hospital now?"

"No! Nobody having labor pains would be laughing about it."

That was that. But the pain did increase. Hubby's aunt, an RN, lived a few doors down from us. We called in reinforcements. 

She checked me. "You're dilated but let's wait a bit and check again."

The next time she checked she advised us to head to the hospital.

Hubby and I had been in perfect accord up to that point. By then, I was in more than the mild discomfort the hospital's class for soon-to-be-mom's described. 

I had been bugging my photographer husband to take a photo of me in my pregnant wear. Now I was anxious to get out the door and on the way before our baby decided he or she was coming regardless of our location.

But no, Hubby handed me my suitcase and told me where to stand. Time for the photo.

I hope I wasn't surly and mean, but the pains were at a point where I was not pleased with any delay, short or not.Yes, they were definitely far beyond mild discomfort. 

They had reached the point of "If you don't help me get some relief I am going to inflict bodily harm on somebody!"

We arrived at the emergency room after 10 p.m. I do remember being happy to see Dr. Gruich, an older doc and not the one I had been seeing. During my office visits the younger physician, new to Dr. Gruich's team, had been brusque, a bit obnoxious and full of himself. 

My memories of the delivery room are hazy. I used to know the name of whatever they gave me. Whatever it was, it was strong. It did a number on me. 

I was not conscious for the parts of the process that I wanted to remember and semi-conscious for the painful parts.

I remember a disembodied voice commanding "Push! I also remember trying to obey, but my brain and body must not have been working together. I tried harder and harder. Then a voice bellowed "Stop pushing!"

I shifted gears, but evidently my drugged up body was still not reacting fast enough. The last thing I remembered was another shout: "Stop pushing!" 

Evidently I slid back into my drugged happy place because the next thing I remembered was being wheeled out to meet our newborn son. His arrival was in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.

I had anticipated for weeks the joy I would experience at that meeting. Instead I saw a glass box with something fuzzy-looking inside.

Where was my baby?

I heard Hubby telling somebody that I needed my glasses. 

They appeared. 

He put them on me. 

I could see! My first words were  "What's that on his face?" 

Dr. Gruich's answer: "Pork chop grease!" I heard laughter from what I later learned was a full-house audience of newly minted grandparents, uncles, aunts and great-aunts.

My mother-in-law, who was well acquainted with Dr. Gruich, had given him an earful of the events leading up to our little one's debut, including our supper menu.

I may have zoned out again. But not before being thankful for our Christmas Eve baby, Hubby, and all our relatives' welcoming him to the family.

Nine years later when I was pregnant with our second child, another son, I had gained insight that was helpful: Among medical professionals the word "discomfort" is used for anything from mild twitches and aches to excruciating pain!

I prefer the strategy to specify pain-level that I first encountered after my hemorrhagic stroke in 2011. My rehab therapists always asked if I had any pain and if so to describe the intensity as a number between 0, indicating none, to 10 meaning awful, unbearable, I'm fixing to scream ( my words, not theirs; I can't remember the official words). 

These days in encounters with medical personnel, that assessment strategy is regularly used to evaluate whatever level of "discomfort" I may have.

I no longer have urges to threaten bodily harm. I am just thankful for caring practitioners in all fields and professional levels that I encounter. 

I do, however, remind them that I am a weenie when it comes to pain. They respect that, and struggle valiantly to squelch grins as they inflict whatever procedure is best to help me. 

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Sunday, March 6, 2022

Grace

 As I was getting ready for church this morning, my thoughts turned to grace. 

Ever since I had a life-threatening stroke in 2011, my walking, whether with my rollator or holding on to Hubby, is anything but graceful.  

I can rejoice, however, in the certainty that I have God's grace. Today I am thanking my savior Jesus, my heavenly father and the Holy Spirit.

Hope your Sunday is filled with joy and grace!

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Friday, February 25, 2022

Guilty Pleasure

Breakfast in front of our wood-burning stove is a cold weather treat that Hubby and I enjoy. 

Yesterday was busy and delightful. Today I'm taking some after breakfast downtime in front of the fire. I'm also indulging in a guilty pleasure—reading clean chick lit.

******
I wrote the above when temperatures in our area were chilly. The next week it warmed up. Today, though, the temperature is headed toward chilly again, cool enough for a fire in our wood stove. 

Once again I'm in front of our wood-burning stove after a busy morning. I'm reading, but this time on a new Kindle Paper White.

My old Kindle, purchased on Mother's Day of 2012, finally bit the dust. With great sadness I confess that all attempts to resucitate it failed.

Hubby bought me the new Kindle. He also switched the worn but serviceable cover from my old Kindle to the new one. He's well aware of my tendency to drop things.

Now I'm ready to sign off and indulge in a double pleasure, reading a clean romance on my new Kindle. 

What's your guilty pleasure?


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Friday, February 18, 2022

Stroke Survivor Challenges and Blessings

One of the challenges I face with a stroke-affected left side is restroom doors.

The restrooms in some businesses and many highway rest stops are like airports that have no-door entries to restrooms. They are easy to navigate with my rollator and are perfectly discrete. 

Some public restrooms, however, have heavy doors that I cannot fully open. I can't get my rollator or myself safely in or out.

Often other ladies graciously offer to hold the door open for me. If no one shows up, Hubby comes checking on me, knocking on the door and asking if I'm okay. If I'm through hand-washing, hand-drying and hair-checking, he pushes or pulls the door open and holds it open for me to escape.

Now that is the sanitized version. 

What really happens is that he bellows, "Are you all right Linda?"

I shout "Yes." If I'm not ready to come out but I'm okay, I holler back a time frame for my exit. 

Occasionally he becomes concerned and lurks about until he sees a lady approaching the restroom door and asks her if she could check on me. Often the result has to be a God-thing with the lady checking on me turning out to be a nurse, rehab therapist, or the daughter or niece of a stroke survivor.

I appreciate Hubby being brave enough to ask strangers for help. I appreciate that they are always gracious and ready to help. 

And then there is another category--those individuals who see me and immediately offer to help me without me ever saying a word about needing help. 

And it is those folks who have taught me, I'm sure without ever intending to, valuable lessons. I learned I was carrying around a load of prejudice. 

There was that young lady in Walmart who asked if I needed help. She had body art tattooed on every inch of skin not covered with her minimal clothing. 

She was quite perceptive in how to help. I had to drop my prejudices about younger individuals' choices about clothing and body art. 

She was a blessing. 

And I realized I had automatically--and erroneously--categorized her as someone uninterested and dismissive of old people. 

Lesson learned: Beware of categorizing others based on outward appearances.

Then there was the tiny Asian lady who rescued me when I got one of those electric Walmart scooters hung up in the handicapped stall. 

That edition of the scooter required two hands. I used one hand  to press the button that kept the scooter moving. If I took my hand off movement stopped. 

There were two other buttons, one to press for turning right and another for left. I had only one hand that worked. I could reach neither without releasing the go button. 

My experimenting did lead to some movement. I got the scooter jammed in the opened stall doorway ARGHHHHH! 

From there I could see that a line of ladies awaiting their turn had developed.They tried to help to no avail. I couldn't get out, and my meager attempt to push as those ladies pulled failed.

I was truly trapped. But that one tiny Asian lady waved everybody out of the way. Then she just reached under the front of that heavy scooter and jerked it out the door. I thanked her effusively. She just smiled.

She was a blessing. 

Lesson learned: One doesn't have to be big to be powerful. 

That day I also learned to always use my rollator or a grocery buggy rather than the electric scooters even though I know the stores surely have easier-to-operate versions these days. 

It occurs to me just now that I seem to learn a lot of lessons in Walmarts, and I don't even really go there much since Hubby does most of our shopping!

Question for you: Which word is used in your locale, "buggy" or "grocery cart" or "shopping cart"? 

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Sunday, February 13, 2022

On-the-road Surprises

I have encountered a multitude of interesting signs on or near restrooms in our travels through the years. Those signs have made me laugh, roll my eyes . . . or cross my eyes.  

A decade after my stroke, I finally started a collection of iPhone photos to record those moments. I am calling it the John Collection.

There are few entries so far, but who knows what we may encounter on our next jaunt.

During a day trip, I was wrestling my rollator down a narrow hall to a rustic coffee shop's restrooms when I saw a sign above the back exit.

It was unfair to make me weak with laughter when I was on an urgent mission. 

August 1, 2019: Fire Alert

On an October 2020 trip out west, we vacated our campsite and started looking for breakfast. A restaurant overlooking Green River appeared busy, a good sign. 

We weren't disappointed. Everything was spotless. Staff were friendly and attentive. Service was prompt. 

Spacious windows gave us a panoramic view of the Green River.

We lingered over refills after our meal, Hubby with his coffee, me with hot tea as we soaked up the scenery.

Our always mandatory trip to the restrooms prior to getting back on the road topped off our breakfast experience with bursts of laughter when we saw the restroom doors.

No missing which was which!
 

October 2, 2020


October 2, 2020

The one below was at a doctor's office.

October 6, 2019 
Huh?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Spiritual "Nudges"

The women's Bible study group I'm in started lessons in January focused on building an awareness of what the author calls the Holy Spirit’s “nudges.” 


The author, Billy Graham's daughter Anne Graham Lotz, maps out verse by verse exercises to be completed over a number of weeks.


At times in the past I have felt enlightened, comforted, informed, chastised or uplifted by various scripture passages. 


In the first few sessions in the group study and in the at home assignments, however, I had been totally "un-nudged." 


But today as I was continuing my yearly read through of the Bible, I experienced a definite nudge at Psalm 143:10.


Psalm 143:10 NIV Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10 NIV


Navigating my rollator through elevation changes and rough surfaces has become a bit unnerving in the past five months. But those words were a nudge to trust as I go.


I suspect that the bubble of laughter I experienced was a gift straight from the Father!

Not all translations say "on level ground."

That sentence in the King James Version, for example, is "Lead me in the land of uprightness."


That difference doesn't bother me. Next year I will be reading the King James version translation and that sentence may be just what I need at that moment.


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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Learning from King David

Ark of the Covenant 
Image from UnSplash.com

In my annual read-through of the Bible, I came across the account of David's efforts to move the ark of the covenant from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem when he became king of Israel.

The ark was designed by God and was important in the Hebrews' worship. David's intentions were honorable. He talked his plans over with his leaders and others. The narrative has no mention that he asked God for guidance.

The ark's moving day started with celebration. It ended with the death of a man who escorted the ox cart carrying the ark. When one of the oxen stumbled, he reached out and touched the ark to steady it.

The man's death was the consequence of not following explicit instructions that God had given Moses about transporting the ark. King David had done his homework before his second attempt to move the ark. 

The Biblical account sparked an examination of my own decision-making process. Good intentions were not enough in David's case and certainly have not been enough in my own life.

I, too, have learned. There have been times when I sought God’s direction before acting. Other times I have forged ahead on a path of good intentions.

At best, results of proceeding on my own did not fulfill what I intended, even if it was intended for good. That was when misunderstandings, hurt feelings, wasted resources or wasted time often resulted, inevitably accompanied by a burden of guilt. 

I am now in my 70s. Age comes with a world of experiencing answered prayer and God's care. You would think that I would not ever neglect praying before making major decisions. 

I'm getting better but definitely still a work in progress!

Blessings to you all in these turbulent times.

 The account of King David's ark experience is from 1 Chronicles 13:1-14 and 15:1-15.
 
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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Attic Art

 A spot-on post from a fellow blogger prompted my contemplation of "attic art."

Upon our move to a smaller home, we challenged ourselves: Abandon the urge to add more to all the lovely things we have accumulated in 50-plus years of marriage. 

We have wonderful framed prints of Hubby's photos plus paintings by local artists and others we encountered on our travels. 

Alas, most of the photos and original art we have collected now reside in our attic! 

Our "downsized" home has more windows and French doors that make it feel like we are living in nature. The downside is that there is limited space for hanging art.  

We do have room for three of our favorite paintings. We are at a stage in our lives where we are mostly content with that.

I have, however, found wall space for a few treasured family photos--on the wall above our washer and dryer. 

I spend a lot of time in that small "laundry nook," and I love having those photos as company!

 We are not alone in our art challenge. 

Friends close to our age are having the same problem concerning beloved "attic art."

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Travel Challenges

Spectacular view

Hubby's Oct. 4, 2021, snapshot shows me stuck along a walkway above the Pacific Ocean. I had enjoyed the walk, the view and the atmosphere created by those wind battered trees. 

But I confess. I was not up to the challenge presented by the route back down to our van. 

I don't remember now how I actually made it up the walkway by myself. But I definitely remember the anxiety when I faced the downward trek. After Hubby snapped the pix above, he helped me back to our van. 

We continued south encountering more coastal environments, communities and dwellings new and old. Some of what we observed was beautiful, some not so much, but all fascinating.

It is a good thing that Hubby loves being behind the wheel and driving. Since my 2011 hemorrhagic stroke, it is also good for our mutual enjoyment of travel that I can treasure seeing what comes next from my perch in our van. 

Gone are the days when we fulfilled our mutual interest in getting out and experiencing everything up close on our jaunts. Thanks to my thoughtful spouse, though, we are still enjoying travel. 

We are well aware that birthdays herald changes in our lives as we age. But we are also committed to Hubby's mantra, "We'll go as far as we can as long as we can."


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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Changes

Carmel rest stop

The selfie above of us resting is evidence of changes in our travel experiences as we have aged. 

We have enjoyed visits to Carmel, California, numerous times in our travels though the years. 

Some of our simple Carmel pleasures "back then" included 

--ambling down Ocean Avenue, 

--window shopping, 

--occasionally buying, 

--enjoying temperatures comfortably cooler than coastal Mississippi's heat and humidity, 

--the food,

--the people.

On this trip, though, the stroll down Ocean Avenue was a challenge. I sat down at every bench I came to and even some stone walls along the sidewalk. 

Window shopping was out. Keeping my eyes on the uneven sidewalk in order to maintain my balance was paramount. I found that even going into the shops was daunting.

Changes in elevation as well as those rough spots in sidewalks eliminated safe use of my rollator. I also tired quickly. 

Hubby, however, had the greater challenge with me hanging on his arm. 

The entire trek he kept me balanced so I wouldn't fall. He was a trooper. We eventually stopped at a restaurant with outdoor seating. 

With a heater close by the temperature was just right. We were happily chowing down when the sun eased above the eatery's roofline and right into my eyes. 

Owwwwwwwch! My eyes had turned extra light-sensitive more than three decades ago. 

Hubby saved the day and our dining experience with the offer of his ball cap.

Thanks, Hubby!

Rested and refueled we headed uphill to our lodgings for the night. I needed one last rest stop. We shared a bench and conversation with a talkative 17-year-old. 

He was gracious, spending part of his weekend Carmel visit answering our questions about his school, his life in the Carmel area and his dreams for the future. In turn, he quizzed us about our travels.

We completed the trek back to our motel room. After several nights of van camping, I enjoyed the amenities, especially a hot bath. 

And the comfort of being able to snuggle up to Hubby, instead of sleeping on separate bunks in our van, was priceless. The bunks are comfortable, but just not as good as his comforting presence. 

There were only two more California coast campground reservations left that Hubby had made for the final segment of our trip.

But surprise, surprise! 

Hubby pronounced that we were going to just let those final reservations go and head home the next day. My formerly hot-natured spouse had had it with cold night-time temperatures. 

The next day Hubby drove through residential areas of Carmel to satisfy one of my travel pleasures--seeing the different architectural styles of lodgings large, small, old, new, town, country, inland or coastal.

And then . . . heading east for home. Whoopee!!

We were five days on the road from California to Mississippi. As much as we enjoyed our 31-day trip, we were ecstatic to be home. 

It has been almost two months since we arrived home, but we are still in the recharging stage that always follows travel for us these days.

Does anyone else have a similar need for down time to recharge their "get up and go" after travel? 

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Food Memories Both Gross and Good

As a small child I had regular bouts of earaches that alternated with days of throwing up. 

As a result, my parents went to great lengths to spark my appetiteTheir worries were heightened by the fact that their many siblings had spawned a bunch of robust, plump kids. 

But as an only child, my having those dozens of healthy cousins was a joy.  

As I remember it, I went my merry way playing with my cousins and enjoying a diet of berries of any kind, fig preserves on buttered toast, and occasional bites of meat.

With parents who loved to fish, at some point I must have succumbed to the lure of mother's fried fish. During frequent fish fries with family and friends, I was surrounded by cousins and adults who approached the meal with unbridled enthusiasm. 

They consumed the fish and hush puppies accompanied by sides such as coleslaw, field peas, fried okra, fresh creamed corn or all of the above.

The meal was served with tall tales and stories from the adults' pasts with lots of jokes, kidding and laughter. I think those extended family gatherings seduced me into liking fish. 

Oh, and developing a love of catsup. Growing up in that extended family, catsup was one of the major food groups.

When I was about nine years old, though, some internal switch activated, and I turned into a voracious omnivore. 

I still failed to gain weight. The upside for me was that on summer stays or day visits to relatives who had farms, my anxious aunts and uncles plied me with fresh foods from their vegetable gardens, orchards, chickens, milk cows and smokehouses.  

On winter day trips to relatives' homes, it was delicious preserves and veggies they had canned, or in later years preserved in their freezers. Like my mother and father, they had mastered what worked best to maintain fresh flavor and texture from nature's bounty. 

Fast forward to early motherhood when Hubby, our two sons and I joined my mother in a summer visit to Uncle Levi, my mother's oldest brother. He watched my two sturdy offspring romping with their young relatives and exploring Uncle Levi's barn and extensive garden. 

Later, as I was rounding up those two happy, sweaty kids, I heard him tell my mother, "I never thought that little girl would survive. Just look at her now with her boys."

These days I still love fresh veggies, fruits and most other foods. But my desire to keep blood sugar in a good range without medication guides my food choices now.

December holiday gatherings among our friends and families present major temptations. The fact that everyone brings delicious contributions makes it difficult for a food-loving Type 2 diabetic. I try to taste but not binge. 

I also pray a lot, too--for help in exercising restraint!

May your 2022 be filled with daily blessings.  

 -30-



Saturday, January 1, 2022

Not My Daddy's Strawberries

California strawberry field
 


The strawberry fields Hubby and I encountered on our Fall 2021 adventures in California had no resemblance to the four rows of strawberry plants my father nurtured in the back yard of my childhood home.


His strawberries were pristine red jewels.


They sparkled among the rich green strawberry plants on garden rows heavily mulched with dark brown pine straw.


On early spring mornings I would dash out the back door barefoot and in my pajamas to pick the ripe, bright red strawberries. I would hustle back inside with my bucket of freshly picked strawberries.


Mother would send me to my room to get dressed for school while she meticulously pinched off the green leaves and stems.

Those leaves and stems were part of my love of strawberries. To me they looked like cute little caps for elves. 

By the time I made it back to her side, she had washed the berries and used a fork to mash them. She added generous sugar, mixed well, put two of those store-bought shortcakes in a soup bowl and poured the smushed berries and juice over the cakes.

I was well into middle age before I stumbled upon the concept of "maceration," the official word for what I thought of as Mother's magic: her creation of that abundant, delicious red liquid that appeared when she added sugar to the mashed berries. 

That magic liquid thoroughly soaked my two shortcake cups and sent my taste buds into ecstasy. And usually there were enough ripe strawberries that my parents and I could enjoy the strawberry magic for dessert after supper. 

My parents had vanilla ice cream in their cupcakes with just a spoonful of strawberries on top. I, however, once again scarfed  down two cupcakes drenched with abundant strawberries and juice.

As I typed this, it occured to me for the first time ever, that their smaller strawberry servings were so that I could pig out.  

Yes, I admit it. I was definitely a spoiled--and happy--child. 

-30-