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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silent

I honestly have never been at a loss for words. As a child my father called me a chatterbox. I could chat anybody up on almost anything once I got an idea of their interests.

But this strange restriction has got me. I have realized I am fed up with it and am trying to quietly wait it out. I’m at a point where I am certain a doctor will have a universal solution and we will all be free of this.

Freedom is not just movement, but a state of mind. You can have all the money you could ever imagine, access to any form of travel, homes in many countries and still be bound in some way.

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I hear over and over of Christian or prisoners of other faiths, wrongfully imprisoned yet their hearts and minds are unbound by the cell that has become their world. They sing, they accept with joy even the vile or menial tasks they are given and do their very best at it.

This virus is very odd. There seems to be more to it and we are fighting psychological as well as social and emotional bondage from it. I for one am beginning to tire of the same doctors who have been directing us these past several months. But when new doctors begin to tell us of therapies that have proven successful in treating this malady, that could give us immunity and therefore freedom, they are quickly silenced.

Why?

I may never know the answer. I do know that God knows the number of our days. This relieves considerable stress. I no longer worry irrationally about masks or hand sanitizer. I do what I am legally directed, follow sensible advice and leave the rest.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu have experienced little change in their routines. We have never been banned from parks so as long as the weather has warranted we go for walks. The summer has begun to be summer hot so we are limited in time of day, but they are older now and do not mind the extra long afternoon nap times.

The beach inn where my family and I vacationed every summer cancelled all existing reservations, then opened to new reservations. This made no sense, since many simply made new reservations. We did not, nor did anyone who shared the inn with us for ‘our’ week.

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So since I did not get to visit my family last year for any holiday at all it’s been a year since I have seen them. Call me foolish but I’m driving to east Texas from coastal NC next week. Packing masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes.

Unless this Isaias storm has other ideas.

(why couldn’t it just be called Isaiah?)

star

As a child I truly believed a wish on the first star of an evening would come true, so I was very careful with my wishes. I later began to see my wishes were prayers, and God would hear them, not a star, meteor or a comet.

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Is sentimentality inborn or learned? Are some more inclined than others? Some call themselves romantics, some pragmatists. Some are just complicated.

People can be influenced by movies. Disney especially is heavy on making fantasy appear real. Or maybe it’s circumstances. Some so dire, dark or sad a child, by nature optimistic, desperately wishes for the magic.

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When I finally determined that power which I perceived as magic was gifted within each person I wanted it to change the world. I wanted love and light in every heart and, for years could not understand why I couldn’t create this. Which was when I learned where the gifts came from.

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I had to realize I did not create this gift, any more than I created me. I admired people who were so confident, so sure of themselves, so certain of their todays and tomorrows, and who could laugh at the mistakes and pains of their yesterdays.

I wanted that. Yet I realized that this, too, I could not create or change. I had to accept them first, all of it, before it could become manageable. And then I had to give the burdens to Someone else. There are days when I still feel the burdens, then I remember that I am promised  to never be alone with them. No longer impeded by them. No, they will never disappear. They are woven into the fabric of my life. But I have Someone who takes them for me because He truly and deeply loves all humanity and wants that no one will carry life alone. I am so grateful for this love, mercy. For this forgiveness that I do not deserve.

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Because it’s not because of who I am, but Who He is.

So when I become anxious or frustrated facing a daunting task or challenge I remember I am not meant to carry it on my own. Willful, independent, self-sufficient as I believe myself to be there are some times I need His help more than ever.

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No, this does not mean the task is easier. I still have it to carry. But He gives me strength. No matter what: clarity, stillness, peace, grace are gifts He gives.

I am still learning to turn to Him, to trust Him, to accept them.

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rain

Maybe having brushes with 3 tropical storms and a tropical system, but I cannot remember a year that I have seen so much just general rainfall.

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I do not watch news programs, nor do I subscribe to the local newspaper. So I have no idea what the cumulative rainfall is. It does not really matter. I live in a coastal town so mostly the ground is sand. We have trees so we have leaves and pine needles that fall, decompose and form a thin layer of topsoil. Subdivisions and developments truck in soil to make lawns, landscape crews mulch at least once a year. So not actually on the beachfront there is soil. Not rich, it’s sandy, but soil.

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Still, the rain drains and soaks into the ground within an hour. Not much standing water so thankfully some areas have less mosquitoes. But the area where my neighborhood is was once a watershed.

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Since we are also within 10 miles of the Cape Fear river everything from here drains there.

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I have way overplanted my backyard. In maybe 20 x 80 feet I have three fig trees, two Althea, two hydrangea, a gardenia, two (baby) paw paw trees, a Daphne, beautyberry bush, pussywillows, tansy, 3 lemongrass, asiatic lilies, penstemon, wisteria, passiflora, angel trumpet, old man’s beard, butterfly weed, butterfly bush, iris, daylilies, Black-eyed Susan, echinacea, mint, rosemary, iron weed, elderberry, star anise, Carolina allspice, Vitex, clethra, daisies, firecracker flower and invasive monarda. It’s really hard to walk around back there. I have a few pots with herbs, tomato plants and some okra.

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I have seen two rainbows this week. One a few days ago and one this morning. Because they are a promise, seeing them always makes me cry which is strange. Gratitude I guess. Relief maybe.

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Because it is July, and the rain, most plants are loaded with blooms, and bees and butterflies. I have often wondered where do they go when it rains.

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Wherever it is, they always reappear when the sun comes out and the flowers dry. And the spiders. Especially the ones on the water spout.

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