Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas 2015 is Here!

I wasn't expecting to be able to post again, but my trip to NC fizzled and I seem to be ahead of the game!  Rosie and I took off early, as planned, but things didn't go well.  I "cut through the woods" (Southern for taking local secondary roads) to I-95, not realizing there was a detour.  Before we had gone very far, Rosie began to pant/hassle.  I really couldn't stop until we got to Ridgeland, where I did stop, took her for a short walk, rearranged things a bit, and took off again.  We hadn't gone far when she started panting again.  I knew she couldn't do that for hours, so I turned around and came home.  I called Laney and explained what had happened and she understood.  The pet sitter couldn't keep her until  after Christmas, so I'm going to go up on Dec. 28-30.  I was very concerned for Rosie and disappointed that it happened, but I think I can get her more comfortable with traveling.  The dog trainer said to put her in a plastic crate where she can't see as much and to take her on long rides to get her accustomed to it. Dramamine might her, but that would be the last resort.  So, I haven't given up hope.  I never thought that would happen as she loves to ride locally, but then we never get over 45MPH!  Going at 70 on unpredictable roads is a completely different thing, even for me.

 Since we didn't go to NC, we did get to attend Rosie's last Puppy 1 class, which she completed satisfactorily.  You will notice all of the other puppies were BIG puppies and of a breed that is accustomed to taking commands from it's master.  Rosie would often be given concessions due to "a breed issue", which I eventually took to mean that she is stubborn and un-trainable!!  Abby, the dog trainer, said that "sit", the very first command we were to learn, was a hard one for Dachshunds and Dachshund mixes to learn; however, Rosie has it down pat.  She does have her little quirks though - she is much better at a side sit than my asking her to sit right in front of me.  She also responds better if I cam crouched down, closer to her level, than standing tall.  She will pick and choose when to respond to "focus".  If she is really interested in something (usually a smell) and I try to focus her, she will purposefully raise her nose and turn her head when I put the treat to her nose!  Both Dachshunds and Chihuahuas are supposed to be stubborn and she does have her moments, but I can identify with that so I understand.  She is a real joy to have around.

In the fervor of the holiday season, I began the most time consuming, least
productive project you can imagine - scanning all of my photos and storing them on a storage disk!  You can't imagine how many photos I have!  I bought a photo scanner about 3 years ago and this is the first time it has been taken out of the box, and it is definitely worth the money. This will be a long-term project and I've set it up on the laptop in front of the TV so I can scan photos as I watch TV at night.  I couldn't imagine doing this on a regular scanner. The box of photos to the right (1983 - Spain, Portugal and Morocco) had almost 600 photos.  Believe me, not all of my photos are as well organized as this box!  Not only are these filed, many photos had info written on the back!  So, I took the time to label seemed the right thing to do!  Most of my others don't even include the date and I'm the world's worst at remembering when things happened, so most of the others will be less labor intensive.  Anyway, what I expected to be a mind-numbing, thankless job has really been pretty enjoyable.  I was reminded that I've camped in Death Valley and canoe-ed down part of the Colorado River, that I've actually seen (from afar!) in person the Queen and Prince Phillip (and the Britannia), King Juan Carlos and the Queen of Spain, as well as both Bill and say nothing of so many beautiful places in the world.  It is almost like reliving the past and remembering many wonderful experiences and people, which takes the tediousness out of the task......and I haven't even gotten to Abqaiq yet!!  

Yesterday was my day to spread Christmas cheer by delivering my vino to friends.  It was lots of fun and everyone seemed surprised and pleased, especially when they saw the label.  I hope they feel the same after they've actually tasted the wine!  

Today, Christmas Eve, should be about 80F (sun-room door is open, fan is on!) and the sun is shining....what more can we ask!  As I dithered around the house this morning I listened to On Point on PBS where people called in with their favorite Christmas stories and it was wonderful.  The stories ran the gamut - funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, tender, sad, meaningful, unforgettable.  My thought was that I'd like to hear something like this every Christmas - maybe every day!  It was a wonderful array of human experience.  As that was winding up, I got a short email from Ann with a listening recommendation from Katie - Ludovico Einaudi - Islands.  He's a very handsome, talented pianist and I'm listening to him as I write.  Thank you, Katie.  So, what could be a sad, maudlin Christmas is shaping up to be peaceful and nice.....just by going with the flow. I do have invitations from friends for Christmas lunch, drinks in the afternoon, etc.  I will go with the flow on that, too, and do what feels right at the time.

On this Christmas Eve, I'm thinking of friends and family and counting my blessings that I have you in my life.  You make Christmas happen year-round for me!  Thank you so much. Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year! 
Love to all.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Holidays 2015!

As is usually the case this time of year, things have been hectic.  It took me the better part of a week to do the Christmas decorating that I normally do in a day and a half.  I would start and then quickly become seemed a lot of trouble just for me!  But, there are some items that I really enjoy seeing each year; so, eventually, I got it done!  Last year I sold my artificial tree and all the lights that used to frustrate me to no end.  This year I bought a pre-lit tree which makes the process so much faster and enjoyable.

Otherwise, it seems that I've just been busy with one thing or another.  Camille, Linda and I met with the Ombudsman from the Council on Aging about the goings on at Bloom. It certainly would not benefit my mother at this point, but their actions were just wrong on so many levels!!  She seemed very interested in what we had to say and wanted to get DHEC's evaluations from their last inspection, as well as contacting her supervisor in Columbia to see if she would meet with us.  We are waiting to hear from her and hope it yields positive results.

Wine-making continues.  Chris and I bottled on Saturday and Camille and I will bottle this coming Saturday.  At left is my holiday label for gift bottles.  I hope everyone enjoys it.  This batch is dedicated to friends and acquaintances, but the upcoming bottling is for me.

Rosie continues to make me happy.  She is such a character and so funny to watch.  She'll leave the room and trot back in with a squeaky toy and just give it a fit!  When we go for walks, she greets everyone as though they are there just to pet her......and usually they do!

My neighbor (Carolyn) and I went to the Choral Society's Christmas Concert.  It's about the only holiday thing I'm attending and it was nice to hear the music, blending of voices, etc.  Other than that, I'm waiting for the holidays to be over.

This has been a great weekend for catching up with friends. Jan called yesterday and invited me to visit in January.  I got online and checked for tickets.....the price was so good that I had to take her up on it.  So that is my birthday present to myself, which I'm sure I will thoroughly enjoy.  It will  be good to get together and a good change for me.

Carolyn also called and, though it has been a long time since we'd talk, we picked up right where we left off.  Unfortunately, she is at the beginning stages of going through the same thing I went through with my mother.  She said she learned a lot from my experience and I told her I'd never realized I was a trailblazer to all the places no one wants to go!  It was so good to catch up and we both vowed to be better at it!

This is my domestic/dietary tip for the day - Salad in a Jar!!  Sounds strange but it is actually great!  It is a take-off on the Buddha Bowl, but it keeps everything fresher.....including the avocados!!  I put 2T. of salad dressing in the bottom and then layer in a mason jar:  red onions, tomatoes, avocado (mashed with lemon juice), black beans, corn, red peppers, red cabbage, and spinach.  Put the top on and it keeps for days.  Chop once and then when you want a salad just open the jar and empty into a salad bowl.....and the avocado does not turn color!!  Of course, you can change up the ingredients as you like..  It also takes up less space in the fridge than trying to store all of these ingredients separately.  I'm so glad I tried this.

Tuesday I'm taking off to NC for a few days, taking my sidekick Rosie with me.  We will be staying with Laney and Julious for two nights as I told them I would come up for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I chose those days (the week before Christmas, in the middle of the week) in hopes of missing heavy traffic.  It will also be the first time Rosie has gone on a longer drive, so we shall see how she handles it. 

I can't finish without telling you about the glorious weather we have been having.  Summer was a real bummer, but November and December have been wonderful. I've been walking Rosie in short sleeves.  When Carolyn called, I sat out on the patio as we chatted. It has just been wonderful.....and I guess the crummy summer makes us appreciate it more.  Winter will arrive at some point, but we are certainly making the most of this while we have it.

Here's wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and all good things in the New Year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is here, which means another year is rapidly coming to an end.  I'll be sharing Thanksgiving dinner with friends on the island (Thea and Rich), which means a relaxing day at home and a great meal and evening with friends.

I've been doing fine since my mother's passing.  Again, I think so much of her had already gone and her last few weeks were so difficult that there has been some consolation in knowing that she is no longer going through that.  I did want to relate one of our last real conversations some months before she died.  One evening at dinner, she said out of the blue, "I'm proud of my clothes".  I told her that she had lots of nice clothes and always looked good in them.  Then, for some reason, I thought about Easter during my childhood and I said, "Do you remember when we used to get all dressed up for Easter.....crinolines, matching gloves, hats, shoes and purse?"  As I rattled off all those things of a time gone by, she began to smile.  When I ended the list with "corsages", we both had a belly laugh and she said, "We looked plum tacky!"  We laughed again and I said, "and we didn't even care!" We continued to recall several other things that we could both relate to and remember, to the point of someone actually commenting on how much fun we were having.  That is a lovely memory which I will cherish forever.

Friends have been great about getting me out and about.  
  • I have put down wine with two friends, Chris and Camille, so I will have a whole batch (30 bottles).  I hope to come up with a creative, holiday label and be generous with it as Christmas gifts, hostess gives,etc. 
  • Elaine and I went to Port Royal to see "The Great American Trailer Park Musical", which was set in the '80s and was as funny and irreverent as the name implies.  It was something totally different and thoroughly enjoyable.
  • Attended the First Progressive Issues Forum at the Unitarian Church.  Speakers were from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Imam from the Mosque in Savannah, and the Director of Public Affairs from Planned Parenthood.  Needless to say, for a political junkie, it was very informative.......especially after having just read Just Mercy, which I highly recommend. I also ran into many friends whom I hadn't see in a while so that part was fun, too.
  • Chris and I went to Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry, where the speaker was Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer, who had just put together a coffee table book called South: What it means to be here in heart and spirit.  I went in intending to NOT buy the book, but when she shared some of the stories and contributors, as well as the beautiful photographs, I caved quickly.  No doubt, it is the best of the South, not the darker side, but it is a lovely book.
  • And then there have been the usual things - feeding ferals, Precious Rosie and Puppy Class, Living Liberally, zentangle with Ana, and wonderful down time at home.

While Thanksgiving will be celebrated tomorrow, Christmas has come and gone in the Morris household.  Rosie has gotten her very own car seat!  She has adjusted well and seems to like it.  As you can see, she is secured into it, which makes it much safer.  Before the seat, she always wanted to be in my lap AND looking out the window.  Now, when we go someplace, she runs to the garage door, jumps up and down, and when I open the door she runs around to the passenger side of the car.  It didn't take her long to figure out that!  She is at her cutest when she puts her two front legs on the top of the basket and looks out.  

My gift to myself is the Instant Pot!  It is a 7 in 1 product:  it's a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice and multi-grain cooker.  It steams, sautees and makes yogurt.  It seems perfect for a vegetarian.  I bought the Power Cooker but returned it - vague directions and unable to make adjustments.  I then checked Amazon for the Instant Pot (recommended by Camille), which was already on sale.  I emailed them and asked if they would give me a Black Friday discount so that I didn't have to wait to order the produce.  Not only did they give me a 20% discount, but I ordered it on Friday and it was here on Monday. Merry Christmas!  So, I've been experimenting.- steaming leftover veggies in fridge, sauteeing cabbage, cooking brown rice, making 3-bean chili, baking potatoes, etc. Today I made my Southwestern Quinoa Salad to take for dinner tomorrow.  The quinoa was done on the multi-grain setting in 8 minutes.  I then used the same pot to sautee the carrots, red pepper, garlic and spices.  There was only one pot to clean!  I think this is going to be very useful, especially in the summer.  It is quiet, quick and doesn't heat up the kitchen. My mother had a stove-top pressure cooker that she used frequently, and I was terrified of it.  This is several generations removed from that.  There are many layers of safety features and it is virtually silent.  I will get rid of  my slow cooker, which I seldom used, but I can see using this frequently.  However, I'm to the point that I can't play with it any more until I eat all the food that I've already cooked in it!!

I can't end without giving you an update on Rosie.  This video shows you why she is the perfect dog for me, one who does not do mornings!  Wait for the end and listen for the ears!!
(Disclaimer: I had been awake since 7:30, having coffee and playing with my iPad! Rosie was the one sleeping in!)

With that I'll wish my Stateside friends a very Happy Thanksgiving.  If you aren't celebrating, I'll wish you a Thursday and weekend of many blessings and good fortune. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life Changes

As many of you already know, my mother passed away on October 15th.  She had survived
the worst of the move and seemed to be settling.  I was definitely feeling better about the care she was getting.  I went over at lunchtime and took her cornbread to have with her lunch.  She ate it all.  All was as usual with the exception of her having a build up of mucus in her throat.  I notified the nurse and she checked her immediately and helped remove it with a siphoning machine.  My day proceeded as usual until around 7PM when I received a call from Sue, the person on duty with Tidewater Hospice. She said it happened suddenly without pain, which was a blessing. Sue was as sweet as could be and gave me all of her contact numbers so I could call her at any time, if needed. She then went over to Ridgeland Nursing Center and took care of all of the details. Their chaplain and social worked contacted me before bedtime, but I asked that they come over the next day, which they did.

At that point I was just trying to get myself together to go to North Carolina for the service.  Mama had long ago filled out a form from the local funeral home specifying her wishes for her service. Taking a cue from a family member of Mrs. Baker at Bloom, I had also written a sketchy obituary for Mama.  The obituary along with other pertinent information, collected poems...and the two photos shown here were in a folder, so I didn't have to run around trying to collect everything I might need. The top photo is when she was gussied-up and looking good...and was used for her obituary.  The other is at home, on her porch, with her Smokey.......where she would really want to be and how I would want to remember her. She had wanted two soloists, but one was out of town; so, my cousin's husband, Julious, sang two songs that she had specified.  Another was used for the processional and my only addition was to have "I'll Fly Away" sung as the family felt.  The service was conducted by two ministers from her church who knew her well.  The only glitch was that Mama had managed to outlive many of her suggested pall bearers, so I had to extend the circle, but everyone asked was kind to comply. All in all, it went well and I felt good knowing it was what she wanted.  AND, I had Smokey cremated when he died and he was put in her casket!  I thought she would have liked that.....I plan to go with all of mine that have gone before!   Before I go farther, I would encourage all to specify what you would like done at your service.  I can't tell you how much help that was and how comforting for me to know that it was as she wanted it.

Her obituary is HERE.
The Order of Service is HERE.

I stayed with Laney and Julious from Sunday to Wednesday.  All the relatives on both sides were supportive and kind. It had literally been years since I'd been home and it was good to see everyone again. After the service about nine of the cousins got together at Laney's for homemade pizza and a catch-up.  Mama would have liked that, too, and it seemed strange to be there without her.  Laney sent me home with a car load of food and my friend Chris brought over a delicious Pumpkin Soup, a scrumptious Broccoli Sweet Potato Salad, and a yummy Orange Almond Coffee Cake.  I didn't have to think about food for most of a week, gave me time to notify those who required it and do the odd things that needed to be done.  Though I expect things to crop up over time, I hope most of the obligatory tasks have been done.

I'm doing okay after suddenly realizing that so much of her had already gone before she took her last breath.  If was mostly a matter of letting go of the body, on both her part and mine. It truly is "the long goodbye".  Her last months were so difficult, exacerbated by the sudden move,  that it was made easier by knowing she was not going through all of that any more.  I like to think of her as being whole again.....happy, at peace, and with those she loved. I'm focusing on how fortunate I was to have her this long: to have the time to live my life and come full circle and be able to help her, and put some of our demons to rest before the end.  I didn't see her but for a few minutes before the visitation.  While everyone else seemed to think she "looked good", I thought she looked dead!  My preference is to remember her in her prime, rather than the shell at the end.  There are moments of sadness, but overall I'm okay.

I've resumed feeding the feral cats, and Ana and I are getting together for zentangle on Tuesday.....first time since August 25!  I've also gotten involved in a neighborhood canasta game due to my inability to think quickly on my feet!  They actually play weekly, which is far to regular for me.  Now they've found someone to play full time and I'll be a sub, which worked out well.  There is still Drinking Liberally, Liberal Ladies of the Lowcountry (meeting this coming Friday), and the Progressive Ladies' Group.  Chris and I will also be putting down another batch of wine for the holidays. Any creative holiday names for the label??  I'm wanting to make a special label but have no creative ideas.

I've even had a meetup with Cheryl, her mother and Nancy this past Friday at our usual Subway at Exit 8 on I-95.  We were so busy talking and laughing that we totally forgot to take a selfie!!  it was great to get together!

And then there's Rosie!!  I can't tell you how happy I am that I have her.  She is a delight and is settling in well.  We had to drop out of puppy class, but we will pick it up again soon.  Even so, she has gotten so much better on our walks and is a real snuggle-bug in bed.  If I'm quiet, I can go in and get a cup of coffee and my iPad and come back to bed without waking her.  She wakes up lazily....stretching, yawning, snuggling.  But, once she's awake, it's full tilt.  While I was away, the Tidewater Social Worker, who is also the daughter of a friend and a neighbor, kept Rosie with her two doggies. There was some growling and snapping when I took Rosie over and I was a little worried, but she sent photo updates while I was gone and they had become good buddies by the time I got back.  Even so, Rosie was very happy to see me, which made  me feel good.

Thanks to everyone who sent condolences by phone, cards, email, text, etc..  It means a lot to be thought about in times like this and I do appreciate your concern and good wishes. I know I owe lots of emails and I'm working on it.  In the meantime, I hope this will suffice.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Long Overdue Update

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted, so you might guess that things have been happening.  Where do I start?  I'll begin with the present and work back.

On Thursday, September 10, my mother fell out of bed.  She wasn't hurt or even bruised but the new "protocol" of the latest administrator is that they be sent to the hospital. This has happened before, when they were leaving her in bed too long after lunch.  Once they started getting her up when she woke up, the problem was resolved. About three days later, the same thing happened again, including the trip to the hospital.  When they called to tell me she had fallen again, they also informed me that they could not accept her back due to the level of care she required.......all of that in the three minute conversation!  When I hung up, I just stood there thinking "what just happened"?  I was stunned!  They would allow us back long enough to make other arrangements if I provided 24 hour sitters to be with her.  So, I stayed with her 12 during the day and paid someone to be with her at night. Needless to say, that was not inexpensive. 

In the middle of all that, my mother took a bad turn and there were two days that I didn't think she would make it through. She began talking about forgiveness and saying things like "I can't cross that river alone", all of which made me think she had decided it was time to go.  Tidewater Hospice was wonderful in helping both of us get through all of that and help me place her in Ridgeland Nursing Center, which is about 35 minutes away.  It is also a Medicaid-friendly facility, which should take the financial strain off me if she is able to quality.  I'm hoping to complete the application before the week is out.

RNC has a good reputation and thus far they have lived up to it.  It is a very different facility from Bloom - an older building, a more diverse population (not all gentrified-white-folks). It is skilled nursing, which my mother needs.  It reminds me very much of the nursing home back in Wadesboro, which may be more comforting to her.  On my first visits, it was obvious that she was being checked more frequently.  They had lowered the bed almost to the floor, all rails were in place and the mat was down.  One of Tidewater's CNAs whom I know from Bloom will be there 5 days a week.  The Director of RNC also worked for Tidewater at one time, so it was good to see some familiar faces.  So far, the only drawback is the distance, but I've been lucky to have her this close for so long. By the end of this week I hope everything will have settled out and I can get back to normal, whatever that may be!

Immediately before that saga began, I had a visit from Pauline (Reynolds, wife of Phil).  She visits her son and his family in New Hampshire yearly and this time decided to come for a short visit beforehand.. I was concerned about the weather, which has been crummy for much of the summer; but, we managed a very nice day at the beach, which I totally enjoyed (and neglected to take photos). We saw lots of local sites...
Palmetto Bluff
Bluffton Farmers Market and Lunch
Beaufort with Carriage Ride & Lunch
Hunting Island Beach
......and just generally caught-up. It was great to see her after about 15 years and I hope she will stop in again and not wait for another 15 years to pass!

As you know, before Pauline's visit I adopted Rosie, who is just adorable!  She is a real character and such a great addition to the household. My favorite thing is when she shakes everthing.....those big ears make her sound like she's twice her size, and sometimes she shakes them so vigorously that her back legs lift off the ground.  She reminds me of a helicopter about to take off and I can't help but chuckle.  Another cute thing she does is try to find a place to bury her treats.  Until she finds the right place to hide it, she walks around whining, with the treat in her mouth.  Once the right spot is selected, she tries to cover it up with her nose. She's so funny!  We missed the last two puppy classes due to everything else that was happening and Rosie was neglected more than I liked.  I'm hoping things will settle enough to get her back on schedule.  

As you can imagine, I have stacks of laundry, little food in the fridge, and have just been getting by from minute to minute and am behind in everything.  September is a big birthday month for friends and family, so I hope Carolyn, Sandra and Laney will accept by belated wishes for a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and good wishes for the coming year.  Make it a great one!  While I wasn't able to be in touch on the day, you were in my thoughts.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Correcting Bad Habits

Bad habits can form before you know it and, like most people, I try to correct them when I become aware of them.  Over the last year, I've succumb to quite a few that consume a lot of time and/or energy:

  • In the morning, getting back into bed with a cup of coffee and my iPad
  • Sitting for hours with my iPad, extracting knowledge from Facebook!
  • Watching MSNBC mindlessly for hours, which can't be good for my health!
  • Not doing yoga regularly.
  • Not walking regularly.
  • Not reading as much as I would like.
  • I'm not even home as much as I'd like!
  • And when I am home, I put on my PJ's around 6-7PM and call it a day!
So, after giving it some thought, I've discovered a solution that has worked perfectly.  While it may not eliminate all my bad habits, it has done wonders.  It is also something I would recommend to everyone, even those with few bad habits.  It's just the simplest thing that has eliminated my bad habits and added so much to each day.

Have I hooked you?

Are you ready?

I've adopted a puppy!  

Her name is Rosie (aka Baby Ruth) and she's a chiweenie, part Chihuahua and part Dachshund.  And, she's as mischievously sweet, alert, smart and active as she looks.   This came about from my telling a friend, Camille, whose husband is at Bloom, that now that I'm down to one cat I'd been thinking about getting a little dog......but I hadn't fully decided yet. Camille then starts sending me dogs that are available for adoption from Noah's Arks Rescue, a local rescue for acute care animals, animals that have been abused, have major health issues, etc.  

You can read Rosie's story HERE.  I think you will find her as irresistible as I did......and this is the photo that got me.

How could you resist those eyes? ...and the surprise was her big ears.  As I followed her online, I just fell for her.....but I didn't do anything rash.  I gave someone else plenty of time to adopt her, and when they mentioned twice that they had received no applications, my first thought was, "well, I guess she's meant for me!"  So, I filled out the extensive application and after two long weeks of excitedly waiting, she became mine! 

She arrived Friday afternoon and has already changed my life.  No  more lazy mornings.  No more hibernating at 6PM.  I'm now up earlier and out the door with her ASAP....even before my coffee (may not be advisable!).  We then take additional walks through the day, numbering three or four, with the final one being around 8:30.  Believe me, after that I'm ready for bed. It's wonderful to see her sassy strut and she can keep ahead of me, if not hijacked by her nose!  She still has that puppy playfulness and is a delight to have around.  She is great in the crate and doesn't make a peep through the night.  She's had one accident in the house, so I feel like I've gotten the best pooch in the world.  I really lucked out with Rosie!  Lest you think she's perfect, she is a chewer.  She has chew toys but seems to prefer everything else.  She has chewed through two leashes in 3 days, so I guess today has broken the 

My major concern is whether or not she will get along with Mama or, more aptly, if Mama will get along with her. She has changed Mama's life as mush as mine!  She would ofter go into her box on the cat tree after breakfast and not be seen until 4-4:30.  The first day she was not a happy camper and there was a lot of hissing and spitting.  The second day she began to kind of follow us around.  She has now taken the back cushion of the sofa, right by my computer, as her new sleeping spot.  

If nothing is happening, she can nap.  She's away from the invader and can keep an eye on her if anything is afoot.  They are slowly getting closer to each other and she had one opportunity to really nail Rosie, and she didn't.  So, there is hope!

So far there have been only two Rosie related calamities, with the biggest one happening last night......and I can't blame it on Rosie. Upon returning from our evening walk, we found three police cars in front of the house!  As is my habit, I set the house alarm early in the evening once I know I'm not going out again, totally forgetting that there would be a late walk.  You can imagine how embarrassed I was to explain what had happened!!

Anyway, as I said earlier, Rosie is a joy and I would highly recommend adopting a rescued cat or dog to anyone who wants to add a little more love to the househol.....and correct a few bad habits.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer's Here!

Summer is in full swing and I finally dragged myself to the beach.....twice this past week, and I have to tell you how good it felt.  There is nothing that feels quite so good as getting sun (not too much!), bobbing up and down in warm sea water, and then coming home for the best shower ever.  It really does feel great and I'm going to continue doing it throughout the summer.  

I'm also hoping to pick up yoga again.  I ran into one of the girls from the class and she said Martha, the dreaded instructor who handled a bad situation in a way that made it worse, is away for the summer and that the instructors filling in for her are very good.  Since I've become a slug, I'm going to try to get back into it, but it isn't going to be easy.

Gayle & Donna at Dough Boy's
Other than that, I've been doing the usual things.  I did enjoy several lunches out that were lots of fun.  One was with my friend Gayle who was back in town on vacation. She is a freelance writer and is always up to something fun and exciting.  While I keep up with her on Facebook, it was especially nice to sit and chat.....great to see her again. Then Chris and I went to our Progressive Ladies luncheon.  We like this group because the women are interesting and the group is usually small enough to involve everyone in conversation.  This month really clicked and the conversation covered a wide range of topics....books, movies, politics, and lots of laughs.  It was so good that we pretty much decided to do a road trip to Charleston if Bernie Sanders comes there.  While I am more likely to vote for Hillary, because I'd love to see a capable female President in my lifetime, I certainly like what Bernie is saying.  

Speaking of politics, we've been inundated with Republican candidates.....The Donald, Christie, Perry, Santorum, and I think Kasick was here before he announced. I just love it that the Donald is sucking all of the air out of the room and the others are left trying to figure out what to do with the hatefulness they've spawned and nurtured all these years.

There is some good news.....I've finally gotten an offer on my mother's house.  They are having some inspections done and IF everything passes to their satisfaction, it should fly!  Please think good thoughts!  You don't know what a relief it would be to get it sold and have the funds to apply to my mother's care.

Stranger than fiction is this mushroom to the right!  This thing was the size of a small plate!  Due to the rain, they're popping up everywhere, but none like this.  Also  very strange was the huge mole that fell of my neck.  I've had this mole forever and one night it just dropped off in bed.  While making the bed the next morning I found it and thought it was a raisin!  It was while getting dressed that I realized the mole was gone!  It just dropped off, not a drop of blood, no pain, nothing! 

It seems like there should be more to report but that's about it.  So, I guess I'll get busy answering lots of emails.  I also need to email my Senators and Representatives about the Iran deal.  They're probably waiting for my input before voting against it/Obama.  For all of their obstructionism, isn't it great that many events have worked out in the President's favor.  Don't you just love it when that happens!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

It's difficult to believe that we've gone from Memorial Day to Independence Day in no time flat.  Just when we liberals could see no hope, the Supreme Court came through big time, making Independence Day more meaningful than ever!  It really came out of nowhere and surprised us all......upholding the Fair Housing Act, upholding ACA/Obamacare, gay marriage......even striking a blow to gerrymandering!  Who would have expected it.  For news/political junkie like me, it was almost more than we could take in.  

Our Drinking Liberally group the week before was huge...everyone was atwitter with the prospects of the Confederate flag coming down from our state capitol.  We really don't know how to behave when our governor actually does something humane and caring.  We're just accustomed to her fighting Obamacare so those who really need health care can't get it.  My thought was that we finally know what it takes to get empathy from her/them......nine deaths, one of whom she actually knew!  Otherwise, as Stephen Colbert would say, there is no hunger in the world because I just had breakfast!  Anyway, it's been an exciting couple of weeks and my faith in our political system has been renewed. The real example was set by those who lost family members at Mother Emanuel AME Church.  Their strength and belief transformed the usual reaction of violence, looting, etc. into something beautiful and transcendent.  And the fact that the Charleston community followed their lead and supported them so was beautiful to see.  And the President's eulogy at Sen. Pinckney's funeral was one of his best. As I said, a lot for liberals to take in.....thank you, Lord, we like it!!

Tuesday, June 23rd, was my mother's 94th birthday.  Laney and Julious came from NC and charmed everyone at Bloom.  We added a table to our usual  "Lunch Bunch" group and included them. I don't know whether it was having new faces around, having something to celebrate, or just the alignment of the moon and stars, but it was wonderful to see everyone in good spirits and their best selves.   We could see the elements of their former selves come alive and it was wonderful. There were two ladies celebrating birthdays on that day so we had one cake at lunch and Mama's at ice cream time (3PM). While it was a little too much stimulation for Mama, she hung in all day (not taking her usual afternoon nap) and made the most of it.  The party went on all day and everyone had a good time. I'm so glad Laney and Julious came.  

When Laney and Julious left, we said that they (those at Bloom) may not remember a thing about it tomorrow, but today they all had a good day.....and that's pretty  much how it turned out.  When I came in the next day, Helen had her head flat down on the table and I couldn't awaken Mama for lunch.  The second day after, Mama was eating, but with her eyes closed. The third day she was awake, alert and talking (which is not always easy for her).  After three days of that, she has been less talkative, less alert and more agitated.  That's the way it goes, so we make the most of the good days and June 23rd was one of the best in a long time.

. ClipartTonight is actually July 4th, Independence Day.  My plans were to meet Sun City friends outside the Ale House for a concert and fireworks.  Mother nature wasn't having any of that!  As we sat under a shaded tent enjoying an occasional breeze, the dark clouds began gathering and lightening flashing.  As we saw the band packing up, we decided to disperse. It seemed like a good plan to go inside the Ale House and wait it out, but when we got there we learned they had no electricity, along with a large part of Sun City.  So, we said our goodbyes and headed home.  I drove into rain and signs of a  more serious storm....debris and limbs in the road. So, I'll watch the patriotic programs that I had planned to record...and be thankful for the blessings of the last few weeks.  It's wonderful to see things come together for good.

It is with great sadness that I send my heartfelt condolences to Eileen and the whole Henderson family on the passing of Tom. It's another one of those things that happened so quickly that it's difficult to comprehend.  I saw them in September, when Tom was in his element, organizing the UK Aramco reunion, taking care of all the details to make it special for everyone. That is how I will remember him, a major player in one of my fondest memories.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hot, Hot, Hot!

As we face three days next week tipping the thermometer at 100 degrees (and that's before
everything is factored may feel like 110 or 111!), we are focused on how to stay cool. Needless to stay, the heat has curtailed the walking and made staying inside much more appealing.  I've even had bursts of energy to continue my cleaning out, but nothing overboard.  Regardless on my good intentions, I manage to find many ways to waste time.  One of my newest means is binge watching Borgen....for which I'm blaming Ann.  She and Katie recommended it to me a long time ago when I couldn't even find it here.  Then I heard/read it mentioned by both Steven King and Hillary Clinton as being one of their favorite series.  So, I looked for it on Netflix again and it was available.  It is a Danish political drama and, when I realized it had subtitles, I admit to cursing Ann's name!  How can I play with my iPad all the time and watch a series with subtitles?  Totally unworkable!  I finally popped in the CD and within 15 minutes of the start I was hooked.  It is very well done and two of the major characters are women, one the Prime Minister and the other a young reporter.  Each CD has 3-4 episodes and I sit and watch them all at one time.  There are three seasons with 10 episodes each, so if you're a political junkie and looking for an enthralling way to waste time, this is it!  Wikipedia's rundown can be found HERE.

Yesterday was a full and enjoyable day, though it started with a very somber, solemn event.  Chris and I attended a service at our local Campbell  AME Church in honor and memory of those killed at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Such a dark, hate-filled, act.  How did someone that young nurture so much hatred?  Knowing so many here, I can well imagine that the young man was welcomed to their group with open arms. The fact that he sat with them of about an hour before carrying out his horrible act is just chilling. All of those killed were solid members of the community and it's hard to imagine the void in their families, their church and the whole community.  Such a waste! Though Pinckney is a well known name here, I was not familiar with Rev. Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was obviously a kind and able leader.  At one time, he was also minister of the church we attended.  The church itself was beautiful and the service well done.  Many ministers from local churches participated and it consisted of prayers and Bible readings.  The prayers were very inclusive....for the bereaved families, for the comfort of the community, for the guidance of the church universal, for the guidance of our nation, for the unity of our nation, and for the unity of the church universal.  The names of those killed were read and a moment of silent reflection was given.  The challenge from the minister was to let the Divine light within each of us shine to dispel the darkness.  The service ended with the congregation JOYFULLY singing "This Little Light of Mine", followed by Doxology and Benediction.  

Today during the memorial service for Clementa Pinckney, Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka said “He tried to create hate but look around – instead he created love...” in reference to Dylann Roof. #WTOC #StandWithCharleston #PrayForCharleston
Posted by WTOC-TV on Friday, June 19, 2015

I'm so glad we went and that they provided an opportunity to share their grief.  There have been so many such sad events in which I thought there should be more white people present, because I know there are many who share their struggle and hope for greater equality.  While I am so sorry that this thing happened, I was glad to be counted among those present at the service.  Jim Rigby, a very inclusive, eclectic Presbyterian minister from Texas (who would expect that?!), expressed those sentiments much better than I ever could:
"It now seems that white people who care about the suffering of black people have run out of every other option. The violence against our brothers and sisters will never end until we ourselves enter into a time of great suffering in solidarity with theirs. So long as we only work for racial justice within a system forged in the fires of white supremacy, we ourselves constitute the bars of their oppression (in spite of our best intentions.) We can no longer work for justice from safely behind the ivied walls of our white privilege. Dr. King has shown us all the way. All that is missing is the critical mass that white solidarity would provide. We ourselves must now violate the laws that oppress innocent and suffering members of our human family. We ourselves must fill the jail cells that have been built to enforce their oppression until there is no room for either of us. We must use the weight of our own numbers to end any human being's status as “minority.” 
The people who have been targeted for oppression are the only ones who can determine what actions are helpful, but it is time for every white person of conscience to report for duty. White people who care about the suffering of black people must begin to share the full cost of the freedom we say we want for all." 
From the service, Chris and I went to The Vintner's Club and bottled our wine.  We left it an extra week and it was crystal clear and very smooth.  We were so pleased.  

I was especially pleased that Chris seemed to enjoy the process and was happy with the finished product.  You know how it is when you invite someone to do something, hoping they will enjoy it as much as you.  And, the people who run the place really makes it a fun activity.  It was a very enjoyable project.

Usually after we tend our wine, we go out for lunch.  With the extreme heat, we couldn't leave the wine in the car long enough to have lunch.  So, we went home, chilled our wine, and got together at 5:15.  We went to the beach again, as we'd done a few weeks ago, and christened our wine.  We had delicious bread, cheese, roasted Brussels Sprouts and asparagus, pappadews, and marinaded tomatoes and mozzarella. For a short time it looked like we might be rained out, but it all passed over and turned out to be a great way to end the day.

It was a good week in another respect....I spoke with many friends by phone - Ann and Martin, Eileen and Tom, Paula and Neil (to wish Neil a happy birthday), and Jan. It's always good to catch up with friends by whatever means. .  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Arrives in a Flurry!

Life has been moving right along now that the weather has improved.  As you can see, Chris and I have put down wine, so we'll see how this goes when we do it ourselves rather than as a class.  Once each week we've gotten to tend our wine and, on most days, followed up with a nice lunch.  This coming week we will be bottling, which is the fun part.  The other steps are so quick and easy.  It's nice to do something a little  more involved.  I hope to revamp my label a bit and will leave some bottles unlabeled.  Those I will use as gifts with a personalized label.  This has been a lot of fun due to Chris' involvement and the enthusiasm of the family that runs the shop.  They couldn't be more helpful - they want you to have a great product....and lots of fun making it!  

Over Memorial Day weekend I had a wonderful reunion with the Rabbi from my synagogue days and his family.  His wife was an avid sweepstaker for a while and decided to enter a few again. She won a trip for five adults to HH for four days!!  It was so good to see them again, along with others from the synagogue. The weather was perfect and they were able to enjoy the beach before the summer rush.  I was pleased that they included me among those they wanted to see.  

With all the comings and goings, I've still managed to continue with the cleaning out of excess items in the house.  It seems like I get into the flow of it and then things happen to totally interrupt the process.  The biggest accomplish is that I've gotten my summer clothes pared down to a manageable, reasonable quantity.  The process was helped along by the fact that I've put on about 10 pounds and nothing fits!

This past week was a difficult one for my mother.  She has begun having trouble swallowing; that, combined with the dreaded lurgy that has been going around, led to aspiration of her food, mucus, etc.  There was one day when they didn't want her to eat much and other days when she just felt she couldn't.  So, I've been going over for lunch and dinner.  Over the last three meals she has shown some improvement, is beginning to eat more normally, and her color is returning. This coming week I'm going to an event called "Death over Dinner"......sounds uplifting doesn't it!? When I received the invitation I thought it was one of those dinner theater events where you solve a mystery.  No, it's exactly what it says, a discussion of death over dinner! 

After spending most of the week at Bloom with my mother, I took Friday afternoon for myself.  Chris and I tended our wine and then went to a new vegetarian restaurant we'd been wanting to try.  The chef had a highly regarded restaurant on the island but closed it and opened one out our way, which is our good dortune.  We were not disappointed. After that we had a few hours at home before meeting friends at Coligny beach.  Earlier in the week I received an email from a friend inviting us to a Friend a drum circle without the drums!  It really was a delightful way to end the week, especially after the one I had.  The weather was perfect, the conversation light and lively, and the tranquil as the beach can provide.  It was almost 8:30 before we left and I couldn't believe it was that late.  This is something we should definitely do again.

I was saddened to hear of Tom H's illness and am pleased that he is now at home.  I hope his recovery is swift and complete.  Both Tom and Eileen remain in my thoughts and I'm sending love and good wishes your way.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Month Later.....

It's been almost a month since my last post AND my week off, which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.  I actually accomplished a few things during that week, but they were things I wanted to do and they were done at my own pace, rather than just squeezing them in between other things.

We also bottled our wine and it turned out surprisingly good....crystal clear and with a crisp, pinot grigio flavor.  A positive thing about making your own wine is that it is done without all of the sulfates or whatever. Being part of a class, I only got four bottles, which didn't last long.  One was served at our zentangle gathering and another was given to a friend for her I was only left with enough to convince me that I do want to do it again. I called my wine "Crescent Moon Memories" and used the SC logo, which always reminds me of a similar Saudi image, except with a green background.  It's all here:

What else has been happening?  Well, Cheryl Mc. and I went to two concerts in Savannah. One was the Tedeschi Trucks Band, whom we'd seen before, and the other was The Old Crow Medicine Show.  Both were very good in different ways.  It's always fun to hear live music.  Elaine and I went to see Blythe Spirit in Beaufort, which was enjoyable.  Each time I go to Beaufort, I like it more and more.  Debbi and I went to the Symphony under the Stars on a warm of the first nights nice enough for something like that.  I also went to a monthly concert at the Unitarian church, though I missed the one this past Friday.  So, I've been culturally stimulated, which has been fun.

We've also had more sunny, mild days which has enabled (and encouraged) me to walk more.  The shorter, lighter clothes of summer have exposed creepy, crepe-y skin all over my body, especially backed up above my knees and draping down my arms.  Yikes!  So, I'm moving to longer shorts, shirts with sleeves, etc. How disgusting!

My large Buddha bowl.
I think I've also found a salad to get me through most of the summer without heating up the kitchen. It's called Donna's Buddha Bowl and you will need a large salad bowl for each person.  In the bottom layer brown rice (or quinoa, etc.), black (or other) beans, and diced, roasted sweet potato.  This I heat about 45 seconds in the microwave.  To that I add finely chopped kale (or spinach - as much as you like), red pepper, red (or green) onion, shredded red cabbage (for great crunch), tomatoes and 1/2 avocado.  My salad dressing of choice is fat free poppy seed dressing, but you can us whatever you like.  It is so fresh, so filling....yummy!  And, it's easy to vary which extends its appeal  A favorite change-up is to use cucumber, black olives and feta for a Greek flavor.  Since I've started this, I've run across so many variations and I hope to try them all.  If you try it, let me know what you think.

Georgie, Zorro (feral cats) and raccoons continue to do well and I look forward to seeing them.  Zorro has gotten to where he will eat his meal and then lie down at my feet, which is very sweet.  One day as I was walking home from lunch with  my mother, I ran into this huge snapping turtle.  He was in the road just around a curve and I didn't want him to get run over, so I just stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to do.  By that time a woman and her children had stopped and people was slowing to look.  Finally, a nearby neighbor returned home and came over to help.  I'd never seen a turtle this big and this close.  The tail and claws are as formidable as the mouth!  The first time the man picked him up, he snapped, wiggled and scratched, drawing blood.  The second time he tried, the turtle peed on him!!  Every time I see a turtle by the roadside, I wonder where they are going...or where he thinks he's going?  How does he know there's something out there for him?  Animals are just amazing.

 That about catches you up with me.  What have you been up to??

Happy Mother’s Day

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Little Bit of Everything!

This week I'm taking time off!  No yoga. No walking. No social nothing!  I'm so tired of running from one thing to the next that this week I'm stopping....and so far I've loved it!!  Yesterday I sat at the kitchen table in the afternoon trying to learn something via YouTube.  I took my time and it was totally relaxing.  My problem is likely to be getting myself started again after this little hiatus!!

There is a story behind the yoga layoff.  As you know, there were two teachers and one pushed us more that the other.  She did that after asking the class it they wanted a regular class or to be pushed a little (knowing that in yoga you monitor yourself).  Most of the class wanted to be pushed.......but we later learned that some didn't!  They took the original teacher out to lunch and complained that the class was too difficult, dangerous, etc. The original teacher declared the class would not be taught that way and handled it very poorly, unprofessionally in class, with the second teacher present....all of which left a bad taste in my mouth.  I did attend the next class and was one of 2-3 people who spoke up about the situation.  In a private conversation I also asked one of the complainers why she didn't just stop going to the class rather than ruining it for those who liked it.  Now you know why I like animals so much!!  Anyway, drama in yoga class is not what I need

One thing that remains on my schedule is the bottling of our wine this Friday.  I'm the only one who has shown up for all steps of the process, which was easy as I live so close....and I have to say it has brought back fond memories (which is reflected in my label.....Crescent Moon Memories!).In the photo to the left, he is degassing.  If I were doing it at home, I would use a long plastic spoon, but he has the plastic spoon attached to a drill, which really gets things going!  It's been so much fun that I think I've talked my friend Chris into going in together on a batch.  The class made Pinot Grigio but I think we will make Pinot Gris, which should be even smoother. I'll keep you posted!

In the clip, I'm racking it for the last time before bottling.  In the front bottle, you can see how much yeast has already settled out. This is an extra step the vintner recommends, which should allow it to clear well.  Its bouquet has been nice and light all along (I guess wine yeast does make a difference!!) and I'm hoping we will have a good finished product.

Another thing that I've eliminated from my schedule is the position of leader of the pack of Bloom at Belfair families.  Once we were able to be heard and establish a means of more regular communication, I asked someone else to coordinate the group.   That was a welcomed relief and I could hand it over feeling that I'd done my best.

Since writing last, I've caught up with all of my female friends (lots of lunches), as well as attending Living Liberally.  Our group has now grown to between 22-28 at most meetings and we've found a great place to be able to eat outside and enjoy Spring weather.  I've also attended Symphony Under the Stars, continued zentangle with Chris and Ana, and just tried to keep all the balls in the air.

I'm happy to report that our weather is improving.  Socks are off and flip-flop are on.  The Bradford Pears and azaleas didn't last long as rain removed the blooms quickly....but they were pretty while they lasted.  The Heritage Golf Tournament is this coming weekend so I hope a few are left to make the course look good.  The nice weather has made feeding the feral cats more fun......I really worried about them in the freezing temperatures of the winter. It has also emboldened the raccoons!  In the last two photos below, you can see one lurking behind the cat.....and boldly moving up when the cat left.  The last time I fed them a raccoon was waiting there with them!!  They are clever little creatures and funny to picked up the plate with his front paws and tried to take it into the brush!  It doesn't take long for the to figure out things!! 

The last thing I want to share with you are these wave clouds that passed through about a week ago.  I didn't take these photos (from newspaper and online) because I saw them as I was coming out of Kroger.  I found myself standing in the parking lot just staring at them with mouth open.  It felt like the sci-fi scene when everyone realizes that disaster is eminent! They were very ominous in appearance - dark, low hanging and fast moving.  The weather report that evening told us that they were quite rare and I don't think anyone could have missed them.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wine, Horses and More.

The weather as again afforded me time to catch up on this blog.  We had about a week or more of beautiful Spring weather....threes and shrubs were blooming and it looked beautiful.  It was amazing how quickly everything came out.  You could literally tell a difference in the fullness of the Bradford Pears from morning to night. Spring was bursting out all over.  Now, we have had three days of drizzle and rain and I want to hibernate again!!

March has been a busy month, and a lot of it has been fun.  Does this make anyone feel nostalgic??

Yes, I'm taking a wine making class!  I'd thought of doing it before, but I have no out-of-the-way place to store it in the house and the temperature of the garage fluctuates too much.  The Vintner's Club provides the space and supplies (for a price, of course) and it's very near my house.....all too tempting!   The class is offered through OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), with room for only seven students, two of whom didn't show.  The photos are from the first day.  The next Friday I went over and racked it from the bucket to a carboy. This Friday I (and anyone else who shows up) will degas it.  Next Friday we will rack it to another carboy and bottle it on April 24th.  I'm excited to see how it turns smells great!

On the afternoon of the wine making class, the Clydesdales came to town.  They were to appear in the Hilton Head and Savannah St Patrick's Day Parades and someone manage to get them to Bluffton.  They arrived in three, huge trucks, two for the horses and one for the carriage and the horses' bling.  They really are magnificent.  They were taken out of the trucks one at a time, groomed and harnessed.  They stood so patiently and the process was interesting to see.  It took a while to harness all eight, but finally they moved down the street and took a spin around town.  They even had a Dalmatian to ride on the wagon.  I thought, "if they have that little puppy that's in the ad, I'm going to cry!".  It was an enjoyable thing to do on a dull, dark day.

Other than that, I've been to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was good. Even that was more exciting than usual!!  As we entered the theater, I noticed that it was hazy.  I didn't smell anything, but it was obviously hazy. We'd hardly gotten seated when they evacuated the whole building, and it was closed for the remainder of the day.  I heard there was an electrical short of some kind.  We tried again on Sunday and saw it with no problem.  

Chris, Ana and I continue our zentangle afternoons, which I really enjoy.  It was at my house last week and I knew I wouldn't have time to prepare very much, so the week before I cruised Kroger.  As I was passing the cheese counter, the  "Cheese Master" (whom I didn't know we had!)  asked if he could help. I told him I was having a few ladies over and he he said they could do a cheese tray......I could stop by and sample cheeses, make my selection and they would prepare it.  That was too good to pass up, so I returned on Tuesday and he helped me select some American cheeses.  He asked if I wanted a "theme" and since there was one I definitely wanted to include and it was American, I chose that as my theme.  Next time it will be English, then French, Dutch, etc.  I also sampled olives, pepperdews, etc.  It was great fun, which I couldn't wait to share with Chris and Ana.  You know I'm easily entertained when the high point of the day is a grocery store!!