Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Repeat


I have probably already blogged about this previously, but Thanksgiving Day urges me to repeat: 

When I don’t quite know how to pray about a specific challenge in my life or someone else's life, I just borrow one of Paul’s prayers. This one is from Paul's letter to the Christ followers in Philippi.

Philippians 1:9-11 NIV And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV

What a comfort it is to know that I can put family and friends in the hands of One whose nail-scarred hands are infinitely more capable than mine! 

May your day be filled with blessings and that you are able to recognize them for the gift the are.


he Water Keeper by Charles Martin.  (Murphy shepherd Novel Book 1)The Water Keeper by Charles Martin.  (Murphy shepherd Novel Book 1)

A Home For Exercise

When we planned for our downsized home, we included a carport with a concrete ramp beside it up to the entry door. The ramp was also under the roof. 

It offers a great space for me to walk with my rollator down our concrete ramp, around the carport and back up the ramp to the entry door landing then back down and around again til I'm bored or tired. 

Another exercise that the ramp encourages has me leaving the rollator locked on the entry landing. I step to face the hand rail on the east side of the ramp and hold on with my right hand. I step to the side with my "good" foot, then bring my left foot next to the right foot. 

It sounds simple, but getting that stroke-affected left foot close to my right foot is a challenge. I repeat the process until the end of the hand rail. At that point I head back up, leading with my left foot, and bringing the right foot next to my left foot.  

That was one of the many challenging exercises that my physical therapist had me do when I was in the therapy "gym" after my 2011 hemorrhagic stroke. The difference is that holding on was a no no, but usually two or more therapists were grasping my gait belt then. 

Now, stepping solo, I feel no guilt in hanging on to that railing for dear life. Ramp and railing are just a few of the features that make us thankful for Kris Hines, our building contractor. 

He took our rough ideas and capitalized on the natural features of our property. The result is a down-sized home we cherish. He also fine-tuned features we wanted that help me maintain some degree of independence and mobility.

Earlier in his career his construction experience in anther state was with companies that focused on upscale housing developments. He was overseeing building entire new neighborhoods using the same few blueprints the company provided.

I'm nosy. I asked him why he left such a lucrative position.

He preferred working with folks who were looking for help to turn their ideas into the home they envisioned. 

He said his goal was to take advantage of the natural features of a property and build homes that meet the needs and dreams of the owners.

I think he was bored with cookie cutter houses. 

He was a thoughtful guide and champion throughout the construction process for our home. We needed a champion. 

There were some subcontractors in the building trades who, after receiving specifications seemed to view specifications as suggestions and they could just do whatever. 

Kris made sure things were done the way we planned. 

That was about six years ago, and this well-loved abode is showing some wear. Hubby had to repair the kitchen faucet recently, but our home is still giving pleasure. 

Today, cooler temps had us enjoying morning breakfast by the fire in our wood stove. 

Afterwards Hubby exited to our screened porch with his computer and with a sweatshirt on to enjoy the brisk 52-degree breeze.  

That may seem warm for some of you folks from the north or higher elevations, but that is cold for coastal Mississippi. 

It's not surprising this time of the year to have cold days here followed by days that call for air conditioning. 

A few days earlier, breakfast was in front of our wood stove with temperatures in the 40s. 

After breakfast, I wore my heavy jacket for a drive to our local coffee shop. Once inside ceiling fans and what felt like AC had me snugging my heavy jacket over my shoulders as I enjoyed hot tea and blogging.

With age I can usually tolerate cold weather a bit better than in my younger adult years. Back then October was when I took out thermal underwear to wear beneath slacks or jeans. Now I'm comfortable and happy in slacks unless it's freezing or near freezing and windy.

Praying that this day is filled with good weather and joyful moments for you.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Smoky Mountains 9/25-10/2/22

After almost a week of dry weather, Day 7 of our camping in the Smoky Mountain National Park was wet, wet, wet!

It was also the day before heading home for us and our oldest son and family who had joined us for the last few days of our camping trip. 

Breakfast that rainy day was a delicious day-before-departure meal out of the rain at the Log Cabin Pancake House in Gatlinburg, Tenn. 

After our morning feast our son and family declined our invitation to join us for the traditional photo at the sign near the national park's entrance just outside of Gatlinburg.

They had a schedule of touristing activities planned but met us for an evening meal at Marco's Pizza, a family favorite that offered indoor seating out of the rain. 

Hubby and I had enjoyed five days and most of the sixth day of beautiful weather.

Even the wet day was full and happy for this grandma.

The afternoon that son and his wife and three youngest arrived, we made our traditional pilgrimage through Cade's Cove. At the Cove's entry, the grands climbed into the bed of their dad's truck.

They  had the coldest ride but also the best view of the mountains, scenery, wildlife, and a dramatic sunset in the Cove. 

Missing was our oldest grand. His class schedule kept him hard at work at college.

With age, some traditions have changed for us, but Hubby still rustled up tasty breakfasts for chowing down around a morning campfire at our Elkmont campsite. After breakfast the younger Skupien family headed out for hiking and touristing. 

Hubby and I enjoyed the campfire, a walk around the campground and a drive to explore.

As evening approached, everyone gathered back at our campsite and campfire. Young and old contributed to the evening meals through hands-on preparation plus keeping the fire, conversation and laughter going.  

Dessert involved toasting marshmallows over the fire for assembling s'mores, a required camping tradition.

The last morning our son and family headed out on their return trip to home, work and school. Hubby broke camp. These days my job is to stay out of the way!

  Our not-quite traditional farewell to the Smokies
with just us at the national park sign


Saturday, November 5, 2022

Traveling for Wedding Bells

Hubby and I hit the road in early September for the wedding of nephew Matthew and Katelyn, his bride-to-be. 

The rehearsal and wedding were outdoors in a beautiful rural area of northern Maryland on family property between Katelyn's childhood home and her grandparents' home.

Both homes were above a lovely green valley, just a small section of the property passed down and treasured by the family for generations. 

I was seated next to Katelyn's grandmother at the rehearsal supper and enjoyed her account of the family history entwined with their acres and acres of farmland and forest.

The wedding the next day was filled with music and scripture that honored God and celebrated His plan for the couple's commitment and loving treatment of each other.

It was also child friendly. The brothers of the bride ushered  Matthew's and Katelyn's parents to their seats.

Departure from tradition had each brother holding a tiny baby in one arm. Those infants were cooperative, snuggled and content with their daddies while their moms served as bridesmaids.

After the ceremony and before a wedding luncheon, we joined others taking advantage of chairs and benches set up beneath a large circle of old oak trees that provided shady comfort. 

There were even corn hole and other games set up for guests during the wait. 

Then surprise, surprise, a personal chauffeur appeared. Katelyn's grandfather showed up in one of those Gator rigs to transport me to the barn, location of the luncheon. 

He drove up a steep ramp and into the barn. I had been wanting to ride in one of those for ages, and it didn't disappoint.

Hubby appeared to help me ooze out of the Gator, and my brother led us to our seats.

If that barn had ever been used for farm animals, it had to have been decades ago. It was pristine. 

There were banquet tables with white table cloths, flowers, and greenery. Lovely strings of white lights and the aroma of pulled pork, brisket and sides competed for my attention as the bridal party and guests were welcomed.

After Matthew and Katelyn did the traditional dance, some of the groomsmen and bridesmaids followed with fancy dance moves and some impromptu moves that were hilarious.

The food was delicious and this old lady's taste buds demanded seconds. I could barely resist eating thirds and fourths. But people watching was also a treat, especially watching our little great nieces. 

The six- and five-year-olds were flower girls. The two younger ones had weeks earlier convinced their mother and grandmother that as wedding guests, they needed white dresses with blue sash and bow just like the flower girls. 

They had no responsibilities, but their pride in their "wedding dresses" was apparent as they and the flower girls twirled and danced while their parents enjoyed food and fellowship.

With the day's events and a full tummy, my stamina was spent. Hubby and I savored goodbye hugs. While my brother walked us to the exit, I tried to spot the wedding cake. 

I don't think there was one. I liked what I saw even better--a humongous tiered cupcake holder with huge, scrumptious looking cupcakes in lots of varieties

Yum! Perfect! Hubby's selection was one of the various golden versions. Mine was a spectacular chocolate creation. 

My brother helped us across the expanse between the barn and our van. 

I can't remember if an additional cupcake or two appeared after we were on the road. Maybe it was just the huge size of each cupcake. Or maybe my brother had sent us off with an extra dose of wedding joy. 

Whichever, the cupcakes sure distracted me from weepiness at saying goodbye to loved ones and leaving for the journey from northern Maryland to home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 



Monday, October 24, 2022

Strategic Praying

Hubby and I had traveled in rain, coming and going, for the September 9 wedding of nephew Matthew and his bride Katelyn. But the outdoor rehearsal and wedding festivities had beautiful weather both days. 

My prayers for safe travels and good weather for the wedding had been answered

I learned from my late mother-in-law's example. Her practice was to pray specific about everything, even if it was just a trip to the grocery store. 

Her sister Juanita was also a prayer warrior. She was a nurse and was often called on in the middle of the night to attend the entry of new little ones into the family. 

Since she was working full day shifts at the local hospital, she was beginning to suffer burnout from the late night vigils with relatives who wanted Aunt Nita to be on hand for their infant's debut. 

Her solution presented me with another example about the power of praying specifically. 

She started praying that all those babies of relatives and friends would arrive during her daytime shift. 

God answered. She was able to be with those expectant moms during her regular working hours. 

We alerted her when I went into labor with our second son. We left for the hospital mid-afternoon. Son number two was born about five p.m., near the end of his great aunt's day shift! 


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Banishing Footwear Woes

A recent post on Madsnapper's blog sparked thoughts of my past and current footwear woes. 

For years, flat, skinny feet had me avoiding painful ingrown toenails by wearing sandals, even in cold weather. I just added socks.

That footwear pattern also applied to vacations that included hikes on challenging trails, climbing around on huge rocks. Still no problem. 

Things changed when I accepted a position with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, a research, advisory, and marine education program housed at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in our coastal town.

One winter day a fellow female staff member called me out on my sandals and socks.

"Linda, you are in a position dealing with the public and high-level officials," she said. "Those sandals with socks are just not appropriate."

I took her advice to heart. Decades later I was retired and still hadn't found shoes that consistently resulted in happy toes. 

Then Hubby and I stopped at the Nantahala Outdoor Center's shop on our way to a camping vacation in the Smoky Mountains.

I found a pair of shoes on sale that were perfect.  I had never heard of the Altra brand. Even on sale they were pricey. But a plus beyond the comfort was that I could tie them one-handed thanks to a strategy my physical therapist had taught me.

The Internet was my shopping friend when those comfy shoes fell apart from daily wear over a number of years. A wonderful online consultant with Altra helped me find the same style even though the name had changed. I bought three pair. 

I still wear them everywhere--walking, church or even weddings and funerals. I can fit my brace into the left shoe, snug the brace to my calf with the help of a velcro strap and I'm ready to go. The Altra shoes don't let my toes slide down to cause sore toes and in-grown toenails.

The only drawback is that I can no longer tie the shoes myself. Hubby is now my official shoe helper. These days every brand I have checked out features reenforcement of the top eyelets. They last longer but sabotage the one-handed strategy I had learned. 

I am thankful that Hubby is willing to tie my shoes.

I also wear Avia shoes, the best I have found of brands that feature velcro straps. They are super convenient and easy to put on, but they still let my feet slide down with my toes crunching uncomfortably against the front of the shoe. 

I only wear them for short periods, though, and they are great to have by my bed, when I have to get up during the night.

Those footwear options that contribute to my mobility are among the many blessings that keep this granny going and glowing!


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Traveling Sanity

Hubby had planned three trips for us this fall. 

He loves to travel. 

The first of those three has been completed, successfully and joyfully. . . mostly.

As we prepare for the second excursion I am dealing with packing challenges. I am always determined to cut down on how much I take. After all, there is just about always Walmart if I need something, right?

I suspect there is a word for the psychological aberration of uncontrollable and exorbitant stuffing of a rolling backpack . . . and a black tote . . . and a large purse . . . and the glove compartment of our van . . . and . . . HELP!

My strategy for sanity is avoidance, especially through a visit to our favorite coffee shop, although I don't drink coffee. But a hot breakfast with milk and water or hot tea works for me. 

Until it's back home to finish that task. . . Sigh.



Sunday, August 28, 2022


I am succumbing to forgetfulness.

My blogposts may become fiction . . . unintentionally. Fortunately, I have a live-in copy editor who still has a sharp memory. 

The post day before yesterday would have been wildly inaccurate if Hubby hadn't reacted to my plea that he read my draft. As May West (I think) said, "Getting old ain't for sissies."

I hope as long as I can see humor in daily life, I won't become a sissy! 

Blessings to all you out there who are facing challenges due to age, changing relationships, health and other bumps large and small in your life.

And thank you dear blogging friends for helpful and encouraging, comments and for posts on your blogs that enrich my life with humor, wisdom and new ideas for coping.


Friday, August 26, 2022


Hubby and I are celebrating our 55th wedding anniversary today. 

We launched our low-key celebration with breakfast at our second favorite hang out, Coffee Fusion. 

Hubby had come prepared for a surprise. He had two of the baristas come out to our table with a huge banana cupcake on a plate. A flaming candle adorned the middle.

We quickly discarded the candle and then promptly dug in to the cupcake goodness.

Suddenly we remembered we should have taken a picture. But it was almost too late.

Undaunted, he poked the candle back in to a remaining hunk of anniversary goodness, whipped out his small box of matches and lit the candle. 

It was an impressive performance that had both of us laughing. 

Appetites derail presentation!

Once again, Hubby had created a memory of love and laughter that we will continue to enjoy for days to come.

After we made the last crumb disappear, I went to the counter to take a picture of the untouched cupcakes wrapped and displayed in a plastic case by the register. 

The barista offered to take one out so I get could get a better photograph. 

Helpful hands!

Those wonderful employees are just one more reason I love that coffee shop!

With both of us well past age 70, our downsized home for six years and four months takes first place among favorite hangouts. We are surrounded by abundant foliage, entertaining wildlife, and good neighbors.

Plus we are only about an eight-minute drive to Coffee Fusion, unless a train blocks our way for awhile.



Sunday, August 21, 2022

Scratching the Travel Itch #2

January 2022, Hubby had already planned some major trips for September and October. But his itch to travel had us going on day trips.

"We won't go farther than Wiggins," he said as we headed out. 

Wiggins is a small town just an hour or so north of the Gulf of Mexico coast.

We headed north on a backroads route that we used to travel when we first moved to the coast long before the interstate.

I recognized a number of landmarks that were still standing--a church that was still in use. Another church had grown and included a large addition. 

A number of the old farmhouses and brick ranch-style houses were still in use and in great condition. A few houses, a gas station and a couple of small grocery stores were abandoned, decaying and disappearing among vines and trees.

The rural character of that road may soon vanish, too. We passed a new development of homes jammed close together and all built to the same couple of plans with only a few cosmetic differences. The reality is that with population growth, people have to live somewhere. 


We made a turn west at a familiar intersection. A spacious brick home still sat far back from the road. The large field adjacent to it still looked the same as I remembered. But the field was no longer occupied by a dozen or so goats and periodically new babies, or should that be "kids"? 

I sure do miss the antics of those little ones.

When we hit U.S. 49, it was north to a lovely coffee shop we had discovered April 23, 2021, in Wiggins.

That coffee shop is a bright spot in a once thriving downtown area. 

Meeting and visiting with owner Jane Ann Maddox had been a delightful experience. She is retired from her career of teaching physics at the nearby Perkinston campus of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

She and husband Scott offer a welcoming spot for locals and visitors interested in great coffees, teas, and pastries, or shopping for art and crafts by local artists and art students at the community college. 

Coffee Shop Owner Jane Ann Maddox

Scott also conducts lessons in the demanding woodturning craft. Jane Ann was absent on the day of our January visit, but evidences of her character and creativity were still evident. 

The coffee shop occupies a portion of a huge old building just off the town's main street.

Soaring ceilings are the original wood, restored  to a beautiful finish as are the original brick walls. 

A large picture window allows a view of Scott working in his wood turning studio Southern Turnings. Sound-proofing shuts out the din of the woodworking machinery.

Bowls and other useful items that he creates highlight the varieties and histories of wood he salvages from various species of downed trees. He has a gift for unlocking unexpected beauty.

We enjoyed drinks--hot chamomile tea for me and a vanilla latte for Hubby. And we still had plenty of daylight to continue scratching Hubby's travel itch.


Tuesday, August 2, 2022


Missing keys

Monday I had another senior moment. Hubby spends a lot of time enjoying the outdoors working out and about on our property or on our screened porch with his computer.

His recent strategy to make sure I can alert him if I need to is to leave the van keys with me. Pressing the red button starts the horn blowing.

It is extra loud and he can hear it wherever he is outside.That translates into my carrying his keys in my fanny pack. 

I had pulled them out of my fanny pack when I was rooting around for a pen to make a note while I was reading. 

I was stretched out comfortably on our window seat reading when Hubby burst through the door. 

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Where am I going? Are you joking?"

He was.

While sitting on the porch, he had heard the van horn sound twice and then the motor started running.

"Where are the van keys," he asked

We rummaged around. I searched my fanny pack and all around the window sill where I usually stash items I want in easy reach. I felt around on the window seat. 

Hubby calmly suggested I look under me. 

There they were.

Oops!  My bad!

Somehow those keys had wound up under me. That pushed the button on the remote which triggered the van's starter, and that started the engine.

My butt on the button! Sigh. 

Old age is definitely not boring!



Friday, July 22, 2022

Scatching the Travel Itch #1

Through the years U.S. 49 is the highway we traveled often from our coastal Mississippi town north to visit relatives in and around Hattiesburg, Mississippi. 

Mid-January 2022 Hubby pronounced that a day-trip north was on the agenda that would be different from our usual trip to visit relatives. 

"We'll do a little exploring," he said. "Just trust me." 

And different it was.

Pecan House

Our first stop was the Pecan House. Hubby knew I had always wanted to visit the rustic wooden cabin that housed that enterprise. I love pecans and was eager to sample its offerings.

The Pecan House exceeded my expectations. It was packed with a huge selection of both raw pecan halves and others toasted with a variety of flavored coatings. 

The owner had noticed my disability, and she asked if my condition left me with pain. We were soon engaged in a lengthy conversation that included her experience with natural remedies to alleviate the pain caused by her own health challenges.

She wrote down the address for her blog about natural remedies, but I misplaced it. ARG!! Searching for her blog about those remedies is on my to do list.

We left with sugar-free chocolate-covered pecan halves for me.  Hubby selected a more adventuresome choice that was tasty. Now neither of us can remember what the flavor was, maybe mango?

We did manage to refrain from gobbling them down as soon as we reached our van. They didn't last past Day 2, though. I guess we will just have to make another visit for more pecans.

At a gas station nearby on the opposite side of U.S. 49 there were three storage tanks that I assume contained fuel. I had wanted to photograph them for ages. Hubby crossed over to the gas station, got out and snapped a number of shots from different angles. The one below was my favorite.

Giant colas

Have you ever seen any tanks painted like those above?

We didn't see any creatures around large enough to be tempted by the giant-sized beverages.

We explored a number of side roads and made a couple more stops, but that's for another post. Got to get up now and move so I can keep moving. 


Monday, June 27, 2022

What Has Not Changed

Today I spent some time catching up on comments on my blog. Although recently I had been having trouble getting my comments to post, today after I had published a blog post, I found navigating comments seemed to be working better.

If I haven't commented on your posts today, I hope to soon.

One thing hasn't changed since 2011. Your comments now, the same as when I returned to posting after the hemorrhagic stroke, lift me up and help me count my blessings instead of moaning and complaining.

Know that especially with COVID restrictions these opportunities to read of the joys, challenges, hard things you are experiencing or humorous thoughts and experiences you post about, your sharing is a blessing. Thank you, thank you!


Living with COVID

My last post included my COVID diagnosis. Yesterday, a week after my diagnosis, Hubby contacted his brother who had offered us a couple of extra test kits he had.

Off we went to collect the kits that were in a bag waiting for us on his brother's door steps. He waved bye to us from a living room window. We headed home on a roundabout "get-out-of-the-house drive for sanity" on rural roads. 

Fridays and Sundays are usually pizza days with Hubby preparing homemade pepperoni pizza. I was glad the COVID tests stayed in the bag. But he wasn't busy with making pizza, either.

At a loud knock, Hubby disappeared and came back inside with a large pepperoni pizza and salad from Marco's Pizza.

Hubby had orchestrated the much appreciated treat for our supper. Unknown to me he had ordered online, checking the "no contact" box. I had not noticed that he had gone outside and put a chair on the landing on which to place the pizza and salad.

The young delivery guy left the pizza and salad, and heading to his vehicle, shouted back at my husband as he stepped outside, "I like your house!"

We like our house, too. His words were lagniappe to an already happy surprise!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, including pizza. Thank you, Lord!



Sunday, June 26, 2022


About two weeks ago I woke up one morning experiencing difficulty breathing. While Hubby called a walk-in clinic to be sure they could see me quickly, I changed into more appropriate attire.  

They hustled me in where a young nurse practitioner saw me. My difficulty breathing had eased some and she sent us away with a couple prescriptions.

Less than a week later breathing difficulties struck again. Hubby hustled me into our van, bed head, scruffy PJs and all and headed to our local hospital's emergency room. About four minutes into our drive, I was breathing okay and just wanted to go home.

Hubby said to consider our drive a trial run to see how long it would take to get to the hospital. It took us five minutes.

"If it happens again, we are not stopping. We're going into the emergency room." 

Less than a week later that's what we did. The techs and nurses were wonderful and very helpful and willing to listen to Hubby's explanations of my disabilities from my 2011 hemorrhagic stroke. 

At the end of an almost three-hour visit, the physician's diagnosis: COVID. 

I left with a tickled funny bone, recalling that all those wonderful helpful folks, from clerical staff, to techs, RNs and the physician all looked like teenagers.

Four days later Hubby and I went through the drive-through of a local pharmacy that offered drive-through COVID testing. No surprise that he tested positive since he is careful never to leave me by myself since my breathing difficulties.

We are also missing church. I'm thankful we could watch on Hubby's computer on-line, complete with the choir special. And I got to croak along with the hymns with all the words for each verse appearing below the visual of the sanctuary.

It wasn't the first time I've experienced a church service wearing my pajamas, but this Sunday was a special blessing with liberal doses of humor and cautions about choosing to follow the written Word, the Bible's directions for Godly living, and to believe in and worship the living Word, Jesus Christ.

May joy in Him fill your week!



Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Wisdom on Love

You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love. The running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip.

Jonathan Carroll

I borrowed the quotation above from Ginny's Monday, June 13, 2022, post on her blog Let Your Light Shine.

Thanks, Ginny for my first belly laugh of the day!

The second was from Hubby's joke complete with facial contortions that had me laughing out loud in the coffee shop were we visiting.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022


A life-threatening hemorrhagic stroke on Good Friday 2011 changed the lives of my husband and me forever. 

After a week in intensive care, I was transported by the hospital's bus to a comprehensive in-patient rehab center. 

The Comprehensive Rehab Center occupying the entire fourth floor of Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Mississippi, was my home for the next four weeks.

I arrived on a Friday afternoon and aides and nurses settled me into a standard hospital room.

A team of occupational, physical and speech therapists were scheduled to launch an intensive rehab campaign the following Monday, but the occupational therapist assigned to me rearranged her schedule to meet with me on that Saturday, her day off. 

She started immediately introducing me to my new reality. That introduction began with practicing how to execute a potty visit without falling and doing any further damage to brain or body.

The following Monday I met my team of therapists. That began my sessions where they pushed me and bullied me into attempting to move my affected body parts that were not working at all or barely working. 

They were a God-given blessing and phenomenal rehab professionals. 

During my four weeks with them, they helped strengthen the parts of my anatomy that still functioned. They also worked to induce the healthy parts of my brain to take over the damaged part and ignite movement and speech.

Those ladies and gents joked with me, made good-natured fun of me, and kept me laughing. They also tracked down a rental wheel chair that was narrow enough for my then skinny behind. 

That wheel chair was a happy spirit booster. When not in sessions with the various rehab teams, I scooted around in the wheel chair, pushing with my functional right foot. It was my magic carpet of freedom to explore and visit with other patients.

Eventually the physician in charge found out I was also trying to count calories. He gently but firmly lowered the boom! 

"You need enormous amounts of energy to succeed in rehab. This is your opportunity to eat everything and as much as you want to."

So I did! 

All of the rehab patients had meals together in the dining room.
At each meal a couple of techs went around checking and recording the percentage of how much each patient ate. It eventually dawned on me that they were not checking my consumption. 

"Why are you not checking my plate, too?" I asked once I realized I was being skipped. 

"Because we know you eat 100% of everything on your plate every time."

Well, that would have embarrassed pre-stroke Linda. Post-stroke Linda laughed until she cried. Everybody else at the table laughed, too. After that if somebody didn't like something or just couldn't eat another bite, they offered the leftovers and I accepted.

The doctor was right about burning calories in rehab. No weight gain at all!  

The one thing the therapists and physician would not let me do was to back away from the intimidating challenges that I faced.

Another important gift came from my occupational therapist when I was soon to be discharged. 

The day the hospital's social worker showed up to schedule me for the hospital's out-patient rehab center, my occupational therapist found me and offered some advice. 

She told me to stand firm and insist on going to the rehab program associated with the same hospital system but in my own town. She said the therapists there were especially experienced in working with stroke survivors and had had great outcomes. 

A plus for Hubby and me would be the 10 minute drive to reach the rehab center in our town of Ocean Springs instead of a 30-minute drive to Pascagoula. That also meant less time Hubby missed from work. 

Her advice was good. My first session, I arrived in my rental wheelchair. 

Ashley, my new physical therapist, pronounced with an authority that I dared not question: "Next visit I want to see you walk in that door. No wheel chair." Then she and her technician set to work making sure that I was moving before I left.

That afternoon when I exited rehab to our van, Ashley and two rehab techs were holding on to the heavy-duty gait belt that was to be an essential part of my wardrobe for over a year. No wheel chair. I was walking.

It was not elegant. It was totally terrifying. It was absolutely wonderful! 

Another plus was that after Hubby delivered me to the rehab waiting room, he could make the short drive to our local Walmart. 

For him, shopping wasn't just a necessity for restocking our food supplies. It was entertainment and a brief respite from what was his 24-hour concern for me. 

As rehab helped me master safe ways to move about and take care of myself more and more, his concern eased but it is still evident.

In the years that followed, those professionals were constantly expanding their knowledge, trying out different strategies and developing or discovering different ways to keep me and their other patients moving, doing, and thinking positively. 

They listened when certain exercises caused intense pain. Then they found ways to alleviate the cause, often by getting a fellow therapist with a different set of skills or experiences to work with them on that particular issue.

They also recognized that if I were not to be homebound, there were circumstances when I would need extra help. Soon I had a transporter--a light weight version of a wheelchair. It allowed Hubby or others to push me around when distance, crowds, terrain or other circumstances made attempts to walk difficult or unsafe. 

After about four years of two days-a-week therapy sessions, I was officially released. 

During the following years, my neurologist would occasionally write orders for a "tune-up" when the spasticity in my left arm, hand, leg or foot intensified. 

The twisting and curling up caused by the spasticity would go from uncomfortable to painful and would increase my risk of falls.

The increased intensity of discomfort especially occurred after Hubby and I had been traveling for a week or more. 

Back I would go for two 45-minute sessions a week for one to four weeks. 

These days I continue using at-home exercises and devices that  physical therapist Ashley and occupational therapist Amy prescribed for helping with the condition of my left side nerves and muscles. 

Hand and fingers "stretcher," AKA the claw

Stretching my stroke-affected shoulder muscles

At the end of my last series of tune up visits, Ashley had me practicing some breathing and relaxation exercises on the gym's bed-height therapy mat. 

I do them daily for however long I can endure just lying there spread-eagle on our bed, breathing in to the count of six and out to the count of 10. It's a daily ritual unless we are van camping.

I also attempt to walk a mile or more with my rollator every day to keep everything else moving externally and internally.

With age, challenging changes continue to crop up for both me and Hubby. 

Even so, we have continued traveling and enjoying life, living out our mantra: Go as far as we can as long as we can and give God the glory. 



Thursday, June 2, 2022

Borrowed Quote

I borrowed the quotation below from Ginny's blog Let Your Light Shine

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” 

--Corrie Ten Boom

That is great advice. As long as we are alive, there will always be challenges. But with the right "engineer" we can have comfort and even joy when we are in one of life's dark tunnels.

Praise God! 


Friday, May 20, 2022


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!


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.



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.


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!


Thursday, April 21, 2022


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.