trifectas

There are occurrences that happen out of our control that maybe could have been avoided or prevented, but they happen all the same.

Something brought such an event to mind this week that made me laugh out loud. I recall at the time not being amused.

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One morning when my son was maybe 6 or 7 years old we had overslept, he was going to be late for school and me late to work. Throwing his lunch together and getting breakfast ready I realized I had forgotten to get any milk. Could he have survived one morning not having milk? Sure. As an obsessive single mom could I have allowed this?

No.

So I called to my son that I was running up the street to get milk, ran to my car, pouring rain, saw the dog had got out, put her in the car, jumped in, drove the short distance to the store.

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Leaving the car running, I ran in, grabbed the milk, paid the cashier, dashed back to the car to see my little dog, delighted to see me again, jump on the door locks locking all 4 doors. I stood for a moment, at a complete loss. I ran back in the store (this is 10 years pre-cell phones) and, explaining my predicament asked they call 911. About 5 minutes later the fire truck pulled up, chastised my thoughtlessness explaining carefully if a living thing had not been in the car they would not have come to help.

Well, I thought, that ‘living thing’ was the reason they were there.

No matter. I had the milk, got breakfast in my son. As we sat at the light to turn in to the school I jotted a quick note explaining his tardiness. A jarring jolt accompanied by crunching metal, I looked up to see the front of my little car neatly folded under the rear of the concrete mixer in front of me at the light. Apparently I could not maintain proper pressure on the brake pedal and write simultaneously.

”Why didn’t you say something?” I wailed to my son.

”I wanted to see what would happen,” he calmly replied.

** Days better spent in bed **

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hate

I have learned that hate is not necessarily opposite to love.

This week rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I went to a park we seldom visit but like, especially before hurricane Isaias hit and the pier was damaged.

Lily and Lulu enjoyed walking to the end of the pier, sniffing the spots where fishermen had cleaned their fish, sitting on the benches as we walked. But the county parks department has been slow in clearing trees and making repairs so though we can still walk at this park the pier is closed.

I noticed a person sitting at a picnic bench and thought what a nice day it was for a picnic lunch when this person yelled, “You better watch out, I have two pitbulls here!”

I looked around to see whether she felt threatened by someone else. Nope. Just my dogs and me walking. So I called back, “Well, how can I get by then to avoid your dogs?” (pitbulls do not frighten me, in fact this lady scared me more than the dogs, as she continued…)

She stood, pointing to the far perimeter away from her, yelling her dogs were on very long chains. I pointed out this was a public park, which I probably shouldn’t have. She replied (I will clean up her words)…

“I’m so ****ing tired of you ****ing slow people down here. Idiots, can’t figure out *unintelligible*…”

Again, probably against better judgment, I replied, “Maybe you could go someplace you’d be happier.” Again came a very angry response as she reeled in her snarling and snapping dogs and their very long chains.

I was beginning to shake at this point. You never know when someone will snap. And many people have guns. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Second Amendment. My dad was an avid hunter (for food, not trophy) and collector. My brother and I were taught at an early age about guns and how to use and respect them. I have many friends who have guns for protection. These days this is a good idea. But this woman was becoming unhinged and I was worried so we walked faster over to the pier.

Since we had not been to this park in a long time Lily and Lulu were enthralled with the scents and marsh tracks (the Cape Fear is a tidal river and it was low tide), so I let them wander.

I slipped Lily’s collar off so she could have more freedom and she was so happy. She darted in among the reeds, chased little spider crabs, stopped to explore and smell under and around uprooted trees. The day was quickly warming so I put her leash back on to head back to the car, and we circled around the far side of the park to avoid the angry lady.

I glanced her way as we came parallel to where she sat. She was affectionately stroking her dogs who gazed up at her with complete adoration. So whatever had caused this woman’s defensive anger toward me and loathsome comments, had been mollified somewhat by the love she shared with her dogs. I found myself praying for her. For all I knew she may have lost a job, or a relative, or a friend. I will never know what caused her unjustified anger at me. She did not know the first thing about me. She will likely never know. She won’t know that I tend to be impatient with slow people myself. Or that I am respectful toward other dogs we meet on walks even if the persons with them indicate they are friendly. You never really know how dogs will react to other dogs. My language, though much cleaner than when I was a single parent and juggling 12-too-many balls in the air and way more impatient than even now, can be salted occasionally by words I immediately ask forgiveness for.

So despite her preconceptions of who I am and how I behave, however mistaken, she and I had more in common than she will ever know.

indian summer

This time of year is beautiful. My mother always called it indian summer. Despite my perpetual questions when I was little, her beatific manner as she answered me made it seem all the more serene, mystic almost. It’s not a common phrase I learned, but people who use it make it seem lovely.

Sassafras leaves

Where I live on the North Carolina coast doesn’t have as well-defined seasons as the mountains. The few maples we have will turn but much later when it begins to get so cold the leaves just fall. So we don’t enjoy the spectacular, dramatic reds, yellows, oranges of the trees that blanket the mountains and foothills. And we have many evergreen trees, not just palms, pines, cedars and magnolia but many oaks that stay green — live oak, blackjack, willow and water oaks. So unless we  have an ice storm, or snow things stay pretty awake through the winter. Their dormancy is not apparent.

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It does get cooler here but not consistently. The thing that we do have that other places have is fall pollen. Especially ragweed. Unlike spring pollens this season’s pollen -for me- is almost debilitating. And deceptive. It can seem like a serious cold or even a flu, complete with fever and cough. When I was little it was bad enough to need allergy shots. But only for here. I have lived in New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and New Mexico. No allergy problems any of those places. And the weird thing, whenever they give those dreadful allergy ‘scratch’ tests where you have a thousand punctures and they cover you with allergens, for me nothing ever shows up. No allergies.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu enjoying a sunny autumn afternoon

So every fall I stock up on tissues and antihistamines (thankful both are on store shelves again) and make the best of it. Like with everything some days are better, some days I keep the eyedrops nearby, and always the herbal teas. I swear by these. My sister-in-law thinks they are for sissies and I used to think they were a little too new age-y until I tried a couple. Maybe it’s the hot temperature. Maybe it’s the added honey. Whatever it is, it helps the symptoms.

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My brother had allergies. One year they were especially bad. He doesn’t have the patience with things like this. He did whatever he had to to get rid of the congestion. And whatever he did worked. Not for me. Mine just lasted longer. And my brother had a mortal fear of any sort of injection.

I don’t know what this is. I thought it was pretty.

So these bodies we have. We adapt, change, age, accommodate and take care of it the best we can. It has to last a while.

phases

Everything has a phase. Life, insects, business, illness, the moon, people. When this covid started states were given federal guidance for ‘managing’ conditions to ostensibly promote avoidance of the virus and maintain good health. The authority rested with the governors. I’m not sure this was the best plan but how could they not. Like a parent, they had to be fair. Every state has a governor.

So the country basically went into hibernation. Work from home. Shop for essentials only… if you could find them. Travel stopped. Playgrounds were empty. Churches were empty. I have to wonder if the effects would have been any different had the precautions been selective to age, strength, physical limitation. But nobody knew how it would or wouldn’t impact people. So we all sat at home.

Finally, late spring, after everyone missed celebrating Easter, graduations and other spring events some states moved to the next phase. Other states’ governors went totally rogue and power crazed. They tightened the screws. Then the riots. Chaos ensued. Everywhere. Protesting, maybe, but with violence. Not peaceful. Think what you will, I do not see what they are doing to accomplish anything aside from destroying livelihoods and dreams. We know they are organized, recruited and paid, these rioters. Some states have doused the flames. Others encourage the crazy.

So this phase 3. North Carolina just moved there this weekend having had phase 2 extended in 5-week increments since May. It does not escape me that the election is a month away. Our governor is not popular. He knows this. Ballot harvesting is illegal here yet it has been said there was evidence of it in 2018, when he ran for the office. I am not smart enough to sniff out political intrigue and aberrations. But I do know this state is tired of moving in circles. We are exhausted from frustration and boredom. Two entire seasons saw personal freedom in a straight jacket.

Whatever, we are coming up on a year since this weird virus made an appearance. I don’t normally obsess over a thing, not a nebulous one. But this was treated badly. Cancer patients could not receive treatment. Family members passed away alone. There must have been some way hospitals could take precautions so families could have spent some moments together. I know God was not surprised by any of this. I know He is fully aware of where this all is going. I just wonder if He wishes we had handled it better. All of us.

love people, use things

My elderly across-the-street neighbor recently moved to her daughter’s house. She had gotten to where she could not manage stairs and did not trust herself to drive. I hope I will be so wise to concede to this if I get there.

I did not know this lady well since I have only lived here for three years, but she would call now and then to chat and I enjoyed her calls.

As she prepared for her move she called one afternoon to let me know there would be several trucks coming to her house to pick up various pieces of furniture. She sounded sad and I waited silently as she gathered her thoughts.

“You know, they are just things, but no one in my family wants them.” I could hear her hurt as she spoke and I could sympathize.

I have my mother’s dining room furniture. Neither my son nor my brother wants it. Well, my brother wants the fiddle-back chairs. Our mom had the seats upholstered with needlepointed patterns she had done years ago. But no one wants the side boards, the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner china and casseroles or the silver. No one wants the very old china plates that my mother waited years for Dad to make plate rails for, and he never did. (You can buy them already made I learned)

So I could understand how my neighbor felt. I know these are things but they hold such memories. And they are beautiful pieces of furniture. And the silver no one makes like this anymore. But they are things. Everytime I get to the point where I think I will donate the lot someone (usually my brother) insists I keep it all, as though it is sacrilege to not want it. I am a practical-oriented person. If I don’t use something in, say over 15 years, it’s time to let it go.

I still have the memories. My mother is not a chair. My father is not in a table. Having the things we used when they were still living and we were a family together is not the same as having the people. And things, for me, do not extend to the person. I am grateful to have had such lovely things but, as with the piano that found a better home, wouldn’t it be preferable for a new family to enjoy them?

If I used these things it would make more sense to keep them. I do not entertain. My son especially since this virus, does not visit me and even when he did we never ate a formal meal.

If I were to leave this planet I cannot take these things with me. They will remain behind for someone to deal with. Everytime I move I occupy a small portion of a house that is mostly used to shelter the furniture I never enjoy. Just seems wasteful.

I have asked rescue dogs Lily and Lulu who have made it clear that they are only interested in being in whatever room I am in. If I am eating they are at my feet, wherever I am. They have their dog beds in every room, so they can rest on a comfy cushion wherever.

This should not be so difficult. I have books and clipped articles with tips on helping people declutter, downsize or minimize. Even one that I no longer have that was purported to be most authoritative, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”. Since (so far as I know) I am not on the brink of death this was a little too final. Even if my sister-in-law is Swedish.

hot spots

Back in the ‘70s this would be a place my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to go to. Not under any circumstances. Swinging, happening, mod… none of that was part of my experience. No, we were not Amish, Mennonite, Mormon or even Catholic. My parents were cautious and protective of my brother and me. Based on how some of our neighborhood pals turned out I am glad they were that careful.



Go forward a couple decades. Hot spots are specific designated WiFi accessible places like airports, hotels, campuses. With smart phones it’s not that important now but they are still around.

Not that kind, either.

A couple of weeks after I came back from Texas I noticed something on husky-mix rescue dog Lily’s fur. It looked like I spilled water on her but didn’t seem to bother her. I found her grooming brush to get it out and a large clump of hair came with it. Lily turned her head toward me and I leaned closer to figure out what this was.

Hot spot.

She had not had one of these in a couple of years. It’s an allergic reaction, sometimes from a flea bite or allergy or other skin irritation and generally bothered even more by extreme heat and humidity. If they chew or scratch it becomes worse. I’ll spare further graphic description but her vet confirmed that’s what it was.

So we came back home loaded with antibiotic, allergy pills and an anti-itch antiseptic spray. They shaved a large area on her back around it so it could heal.


Well, it has healed and as you see here Lily and terrier-mix rescue dog Lulu are eagerly searching for a small lizard living in this plant. Not bothered anymore in the least. She still has that bare spot that draws curious looks when we are on our walkies but probably also provides welcome cooling to her double-thick husky fur coat.

Crisis resolved.

glitz blitz ramblings

No, this isn’t about bling glitz, or celebrity or awards. The shimmer of a raindrop on a petal kind of glitz. The reflection of a mountain in a dew drop. Maybe with all the imposed shut-in days I have noticed more. I gave up waiting for normal to come back and made my own normal.

I have bracelets, rings, jewelry I never wear. Some I bought for myself, some others gave me. It’s pretty. I just don’t wear it. Somehow it pales in its beauty when it’s worn. I see others loaded down with bracelets, necklaces, earrings. I tend to still see the person, just a heavier version with all that hardware. I guess there’s a difference between tasteful and too much.


So this bee is an ornament. The flower is embellished. It’s also pollinated and will proliferate this maypop vine. These vines have taken over the back fence already but can be managed. They attract specific butterflies the same way monarchs are attracted to Asclepius tuberosa  (butterfly weed), more different butterflies attracted by it in Florida but here we get Gulf frittilaries. They’ve been all over these vines but today we’ve had a lot of rain. Still don’t know where butterflies go when it rains but it doesn’t affect the bees.


Angel trumpet in a happy place will take it over. Every part of the plant is toxic and since I have dogs I don’t generally have poisonous plants. I tore out all the oleander. But rescue dogs Lily and Lulu pretty much ignore this plant and all the plants.


I don’t understand electrical stuff. If I flip a wall light switch I expect the light to go on. I have ceiling lights in two hallways controlled by three different switches in different places. One switch, when I turned the light on it flickered, then went out. Would not go on, not on its own, but if I used one of the other switches it worked. So I figured the switch was bad. I installed a new switch. None worked. So I called a handyman. He could not get them to work independently as they had before, he replaced two switches. But they work if one specific switch is on. He said it always had been like that, I just never noticed. Maybe I should call an actual electrician, or just accept this as another house quirk.


And now there are six storm systems in the Atlantic. Well, one is crossing south Florida to the gulf, heading (they think) for Louisiana. They do not need another storm. It does give a focus other than this stupid virus. Funny how life doesn’t stop. So I had almost gotten through my stockpile of water from last hurricane season. If any of these get any closer I have to stock up again.


One thing about flowers. They are what they are.

A very insightful blogger I follow has posted this for anyone who prefers the ‘classic’ WP editor. Thank you Margaret of soulfood101!— How to make a post without the new block editor. — The Word

I have been seeing that other Bloggers do not like using the new WP Block Editor any more than I do. This is the way I have been getting around it. It is very basic as you will see from the picture but it is very easy to use. When you are on your “My […]

How to make a post without the new block editor. — The Word

glory days

My father was a complex man. He loved his home, Colorado yet held his own in corporate life. He negotiated on national and international levels but did not forget who he was.

One high school summer we drove from our transferred home in New Jersey to see Dad’s boyhood home in Colorado Springs. This was a typical family drive, broken into 3-4 days with the usual insanity caused by boredom and being in close proximity. But we survived and arrived in one piece and with no bloodshed

We drove from Colorado Springs to Aspen, over Independence Pass where I learned my iron-clad, fearless Mom was acrophobic. Hairpin curves, well over 10,000 foot altitude.

Being summer the mountain meadows were dotted with brilliant yellows and reds of Indian paintbrush, cool blues of columbine. We stayed at a small lodge and over the few days there the owners invited me to work there the following summer. Never having been on my own up to that point, I was thrilled.

My brother and some good friends also planned to be there to work at opening an abandoned silver mine on the Pass and we’d see each other on the weekends.

Minimum wage then was barely a dollar an hour. I worked as a maid at this lodge and as a novice employee was not entitled to tips, the other maid was unless it was her day off. Her efforts at training were hopeless. Everything was new to me. She was a party girl, I was not, so I pulled her weight many mornings she dragged in late, once not showing at all. That particular day we had almost 100% checkouts for the day. AAA rating was the highest possible, until that day. Hotel inspections are never announced and that day was the day.

The lodge failed inspection. Not lower. Flat-out failed.

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In all fairness the owners were angry at senior housekeeper. She had no way of knowing the inspection was the day of her massive hangover, but still. I knew how to clean a bathroom, change bed linens. I could not figure out what I’d missed.

As the days crept morbidly on my brother came to town a couple of times. I was given accommodations across the street at a different lodge with housekeepers for that lodge. We ate scant meals to scrimp and save but I really wanted to offer a feast for my brother and his friends so I proudly put select vegetables, potatoes and a sirloin roast in my cart. First time ever buying groceries. 17 years old. No idea the price on the roast was per pound, not $1.70 for the whole roast. My entire paycheck was gone! I was saving not enough to get home.

It so happened brother and friends were also running out of money and decided to fold up their tents and drive home. I went to my employer and explained this looked like my only possible means of getting home so I would be leaving. In the middle of the summer season.

Did I realize I would lose every chance at an opportunity to come back and work there again?

Oh, yes, I did.

Did I understand how inconvenient this was?

Oh yes, I was very sorry but could see no other option.

So I was dismissed.

We did have a bit of fun, the Aspen Music Festival where all the events were, then, free. We had a couple of parties, one of which I frankly do not remember. At all. And that elaborate dinner.

Memories of glory days.

— to my kind readers: I am struggling with this new WP editor. I can’t find where to insert tags! So I hope against hope this is not my last post since I have been writing on this blog for over seven years. But it might be. If it is I want to thank you deeply for your thoughtful comments and for sharing a corner of my life. You have become my friends. Edith

🌹

rites of passage

I often think of the life I grew up in. We drank out of the garden hose in summer, ate cookies we dropped on the floor if we were quicker than the dog, ignored cuts and bruises, had no air conditioning (attic fan… with all the upstairs windows open it was like one giant ceiling fan).

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We spent summer evenings chasing lightning bugs, playing kick the can till well past dark. We occasionally got into mischief, breaking into a neighbor’s paint shed and spattering the paint, catching someone’s goldfish out of a backyard pond or picking flowers from someone’s flower bed. When we got caught we got paddled.

We generally went to church on Sundays and ate a big dinner with family and friends after. Summer reading was Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss books in elementary school until we were assigned books. We pledged allegiance to the flag in the morning and had bomb drills where we got under our desks and laughed at how silly it was. We said our prayers at night with Mom or Dad and had a long list of people, dogs, friends we asked God to bless. We were allowed to go pretty much anywhere as long as our Moms knew generally where we were. We didn’t need secret passwords for school because we weren’t likely to be kidnapped and we were smart about strangers.

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We knew enough to come inside out of a lightning storm and heard stories about people who got struck by lightning bolts. We ran barefoot almost all the time and our moms made sure tetanus shots were up to date. We told ghost stories, night or day and halfway believed them.

We had jobs cutting lawns or babysitting that paid 50 cents or a dollar an hour and we thought we were rich. An “allowance” meant an exception to punishment, not more money.

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Almost everybody had a dog. Some had cats but if they didn’t have something they didn’t seem quite right. Arguments were settled with “am not!” “are too!” until we got distracted and forgot the fight altogether. We didn’t hold grudges.

Some families had televisions that took a while to warm up, then the picture disappeared to a dot of light when you turned it off. If you were sneaky you could watch really quietly until around 11 p.m. when the channel signed off with the national anthem, a flag waving, and then a test pattern with a really annoying monotone.

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We didn’t have electronic games, PlayStations, Nintendo, iPhones or iPads. No computers. We relied on our energy and imaginations. We didn’t worry about hurting ourselves. We just ran until we either ran out of time or strength. Or both. We played fair and called out anyone who didn’t so they could make it right. We played by rules everybody agreed to and they shouldn’t be broken. Even as little kids we believed there was a right and wrong and we did our best to do things right and hold our friends accountable as they did us.

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When did everything change, and why?

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compliance

Driving over a thousand miles I had no preconceptions of what I’d see on the roads. I know some states have restrictions but not where I was driving. People are flying again and airlines are increasing passenger numbers.

Highways were crowded. Mostly semis but a lot of passenger cars, from all over. It was encouraging. People aren’t still cowering at home.

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Gas stations at every stop required a mask. The only stop where I did not see them worn, though there were signs for them was Alabama. The rest rooms were closed because of covid but no mask.

When I stopped on the way the first night the desk clerk was vocal about disliking the mask. I couldn’t argue and we had a good laugh about masks being hot, and not in a good way.

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When I got where I was going in Texas hill country the inn proprietor had no mask. Noticing mine (hard to miss) she said the whole county had no active covid cases and had only 3 people die of it, one who was 106 years old. Reassuring.

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So on my visit there were actual handshakes, hugs and normal distancing. What a difference from where I live. I reflected how sad it is, the level of fear. I realized these severe precautions are not so much concern for others as it is out of fear. And we don’t even see it.

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I hope my carelessness caused no harm, to anyone. But the warmth and normalcy were heartening. I had no idea how absence of human touch, or even the ability to choose it or not, had adversely affected me.

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Returning home to tropical storm Isaiah damage shocked me back to reality. The morning after the storm husky-mix rescue dog Lily decided to guard the little Bradford pear tree the storm knocked down, I suppose to make sure nothing else fell off. I had the tree cut down and cleared away before I left but debris piles are still around. Takes a while to clear it away.

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