Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Hospice Doctor

My weekend was bitter-sweet. The husband of a very dear friend passed away Saturday morning. My heart aches for her and the grief she is and will be dealing with a long time. 

I had a house guest this weekend who is also a dear friend of mine. Her name is Ellen and she is a private person so I will not give her full name. We met when I heard her speak the same year I was diagnosed with diabetes. That was 2003. 

I helped her with a Diabetes support group she organized here and then wrote articles from interviews of local people who had diabetes. I heard their stories which opened my eyes and I hope the eyes of those who read about them. At that time Ellen said we had a large number of people in this county who had the disease, but had not been diagnosed. She went on to get the hospital and the health department involved with getting people diagnosed and classes set up to teach them what they need to know to take care of themselves as well as how to talk to their doctors. 

I admired her work and it was not that easy. It is always hard to create change, especially here in the mountains. 

She now works as a Hospice Doctor and I can tell she takes great comfort in being able to keep patients out of pain and letting them die peacefully. Hospice care can be the only place a sick person gets the pain relief they need. Hospitals will not usually give that kind of care. I write from experience. My husband suffered horribly while at Emory Hospital, but once he was in Hospice Care, I insisted he have whatever was needed to relieve his pain.

Ellen tells me the families are the biggest challenge she faces with each patient.

"My son, Mark is coming in from California tomorrow. We want my husband awake so he can talk to Mark." 
Why would you want your husband to suffer in excruciating pain so he can speak a few words to Mark? The concern seems to be more for the son who is coming than for the patient who is dying.

I remember the nice young doctor at the Hospice Center where Barry had been admitted and was finally free of pain saying, "We'll cut back on the morphine today."
"Why on earth would you do that?" I asked. 
"So you and he can talk to each other."
I told him we had talked to each other for 45 years and we had nothing left to say that was worth making him suffer any more pain.

I hope if I am ever in such a state that no one will cut back on the medicine just so I can mumble a few words or they hope I will recognize someone. The patient, at this point, has no interest in others. He is dealing with pain, his own body and mind failing, and has to force himself to meet others' expectations. 

Families that make a loved one suffer in such a way are selfish and have no idea what it is to suffer immense pain. 

Ellen, who was a doctor when I met her, said she chose to become a hospice doctor after seeing and hearing about the horror and pain Barry went through when we could find no help for his suffering with cancer. I admire her so much. She told me her major concern for the hospice patient is that he have no pain. She tells her nurses that first they make sure the patient is pain free. 

I hope all hospice doctors and nurses today make that their first priority. If we have to die, at least let us go peacefully. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Learning to live after the pain of loss, and one of the best ways to do that

With many of my friends losing their lifelong partners these days, I picked up my copy of On Our Own, Widowhood for Smarties, published by Silver Boomer Books. This is a book for those who acknowledge the pain of loss, but who are learning to live in spite of it, even to build on it.

When I lost my husband, Barry, in July 2009, I went through the worst time of my life. I was physically ill as well as deeply emotional about his death. I experienced feelings I had never had before. I wished I had died with him. I wished I could go to bed and not wake up. What was there to live for now? I had no children or grandchildren as most of my friends did, and no one would miss me. I didn’t make any difference in the lives of another living person, I told myself. I have heard these same feelings expressed by friends who have lost their husbands, and I’m sure men who have lost their wives feel the same at times. “It would not change anyone’s life if I walked out in front of a semi and was run over.” Can you imagine that feeling?

I now know that we all have those feelings, but did not know that at the time. When your life has been so entwined with another person for forty years or more, how could you go on? What was the purpose of living now without that loved one who was always there and always on your side?
June in chair, Gay on the right,
wonderful sisters

I was fortunate to have two sisters who loved me dearly and to whom I could always talk, but that didn’t help, especially when my anger at the world in general erupted on one of them. She didn’t understand why I would say hurtful things to her or to others, and sadly, I didn’t either.

If your friend has not lost her husband to death, she can’t understand why you don’t get out and do things, have fun again. “You need to be more social. Come to a party with me.” Oh, no. Don’t go to a party with anyone unless you can leave when you want to leave. A gathering of happy people who ignore the pain you are feeling is the worst! A grief counselor gave me that advice and it was the best advice I ever received.

I turned to my writing to help me get through the mourning process. I knew, realistically, that time was the only healer, the only potion, tonic or medicine I had at my disposal, and I could not overdose on time because I had no control over it. I could not speed it up which I wanted to do. Why couldn’t I just go to bed and sleep until this heart-rending pain was gone, and I had healed both mentally and physically. If only I could have a medically induced coma that would take me away for a year, then, I thought, I would be well on my way to being normal again. Everyone says the first year is the hardest.

During this time, I wrote my grief poems. I didn’t share them with anyone. I remembered my sister, June, writing touching poems when her husband died, and she didn’t consider herself a writer. Two of them were published in Bereavement Magazine some years later. I still feel her pain when I read them.

In 2012, when Silver Boomer Books called for submissions to an anthology with work by those who had lost someone, I decided to share two of my poems, Solitude and Sleeping Alone. Both were published. 

Sleeping Alone
In the dark I close my eyes,
try to push away the memories,
the feel of your smooth skin
sliding over lean bones and strong sinew,
the softness of your hair, smelling clean as
fresh air and rainwater. It grew back thicker,
after chemo.
                             ---Glenda Council Beall

When I received my copy of the book, I was impressed by the other poems, essays and stories by women and men and family members who had lost a loved one. One of my favorites is When We Became I, by Lavania Fritts. Until you face the aftermath of death of your mate, you never consider the we and the I in the relationship.

But as the writing in this book tells us, the I must go on and find a new way to live, to find joy and purpose. I found my purpose after Barry died when I registered for a week at Wild Acres Retreat. That was where I had time to do some soul-searching. I decided to open my writing studio in my home. It has made all the difference. I have a purpose and I am doing something I am passionate about--teaching and  learning.

Of course each person's grieving time is personal and no one can say when we must move on or end our mourning. I am told I was not myself again for six years after Barry's death. 


It seems we can't go on right after losing our husbands or wives, but we can eventually, and we must. 
We can't linger forever in the sorrow or we can become isolated, mentally ill with depression, or become a person we don't want to be. The best way, I think, to move on with your life is to do something for others.

One of my friends and her husband, after their son was killed, began repairing and painting old bikes to give to needy kids. They also give teddy bears to people who are grieving. She gave one to me.

Another woman, Jan DeBlieu, who lost her son writes about loss and how she copes. She publishes a newsletter.

Information from The Cleveland Clinic tells us "There is evidence that, during gift-giving behaviors, humans secrete “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical).

When researchers from the National Institutes of Health looked at the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities, they found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center in the brain — releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.” 
Do you experience that helper's high when you give a gift or help someone? Tell us about it in a comment or by email. Remember, if you have a problem leaving a comment, just reply as anonymous and leave your name inside the comment box. And remember, comments don't pop up right away. I have to first approve of the comment. It might be the next day before it is on the blog.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Poi donuts?

Go to Hawaii when you are young enough and strong enough to take in the water sports, stay in the hot sun on the beach, enjoy the night life and the tropical drinks. My sister, Gay, worked for Western Airlines back in the sixties. She had the opportunity to travel to these beautiful islands several times from her home base in San Francisco, California. 

I met a young woman from California who had just come over for the weekend. It is a four hour flight I believe from there. She and I were the only two in the reflection pool one evening. Such a delicious evening. As night fell and the small lights around the pool brightened, the sky became the focal point of my interest. Tall palm trees grew around the pool. As I looked up the moon hung directly over me between the slow-dancing fronds of the palms. I was not sad, although we were leaving soon, but I felt tears forming and wondered why. Have you ever seen something or felt something so out-of-this-world perfect you cried? 

The Ko Olina resort is near Kapolei, named for the volcanic cone Pu'u o Kapolei which is translated to mean hill of beloved Kapo. Kapolei is a fast growing second city and I imagine it will take some of the traffic from Honolulu which needs relief. Rush hour around the big city is terrible. Kapolei is an affluent city spread out over what was once sugar cane and pineapple plantations. I wish I had seen it before commercialism took the beaches. Don't get me wrong. I loved the resort and enjoyed every minute I was there, but it seems the old Hawaii is gone or at least hard to find now. A few years ago, I went with Gay and Stu to Kaua'i another of the Hawaiian islands that is not as commercialized. We saw farms and rural areas and not so many high rise hotels. Both are lovely but very different from each other, I think.

Gay talks about how much it has changed since she visited as a young woman. She had the opportunity to visit with a native family and said that was great except she had to eat poi and that was really hard to do. I gave poi a try once and it is AWFUL to me. But Gay discovered a wonderful way to eat poi. Donuts! Yes, that purple pasty stuff is not the only way the taro plant is used. The stem that is mashed and tastes so bad to us can be dried and made into a flour and used to make donuts. I ate one, glazed, and it was almost as good as Krispy Kreme. I think that was the best thing about this trip for Gay. 

The purple ones are Poi Donuts - so, so good
When I was on Kaua'i, I bought a muu-muu at a festival. I think I paid 14 dollars. It is a loose colorful cotton dress that I wear at home all summer. It is comfortable and cool. I vowed if I ever went back to Hawaii, I would get another one. So one day we ventured into Honolulu where I had found Hilo Hattie, the brand name in my dress, had two stores. Hilo Hattie sells shirts, pants, dresses of all kinds, and cotton muu-muus. 

I was so afraid the style had changed and I would not find my dress, but there it was, red with white flowers and 100 percent cotton! Wow! I decided to get another one if I could find my size in another color. Sadly they are making many of the clothes in synthetic fabric now. But I found a navy blue with white flowers down the front. Tacky, I'm sure, but I wore it home on the plane. It was comfortable, cool and not binding anywhere. I might even wear it to Ingles here in Hayesville one day. Nobody looks at an older woman. We are all invisible. But that dress might draw attention. It definitely says Island wear..

I now know I can order from Hilo Hatties online. They have grown into four stores now and on other islands. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Go Go Mobile

It was obvious that I would have trouble walking the long distances to the pools and restaurants at the resort where we stayed in Hawaii. Gay mentioned that one of the places we planned to visit had wheelchairs that could be rented while we were there. 

I didn't like the idea of someone pushing me in a wheelchair. I would be a real burden on Gay and Stu and besides Gay is not one to spend much time on any one thing in a museum or gallery. She moves quickly through. She and Barry used to sit outside and wait on Stu and me to eventually read about all the exhibits and join them.

I wondered if I might find a motorized wheelchair that I could rent for the week. I went online and googled motorized wheelchairs. I got lucky. I found U-Go mobility. I called the number listed. One of the owners answered, and I soon realized I had found my answer. A couple of folks, Hugh and Patti, who have taken care of their parents recognized the importance of giving individual care to everyone. So, U-Go Mobility was born.Their primary service is vacation scooter rentals. I chose the Take-Apart Portable Scooter. 

Hugh brought or should I say drove it right up to our place on the 16th floor. He showed us how we could take it with us wherever we wanted to go.

 "This scooter can be taken apart in thirty seconds to store in your trunk and put back together in thirty seconds when you want to use it." If you go to their website you can see him do that. 

I was very impressed, but wondered if I could do it. He separated this thing in five parts in no time at all. First the basket in front came off, then the seat, next the battery, and then the front and the back separated into two parts. The heaviest part was the battery which weighed thirty pounds. I knew that would be too heavy for me, but if Stu would lift that out, I could do it. 

Glenda on the scooter going everywhere she wanted to go

I paid Hugh for four days rental and he left it with us. Gay and Stu would not let me do the work of taking it apart and putting it into the trunk even though I knew I could lift all the parts but the battery. After a few times of taking it apart and putting it together again, Stu had it down to 40 seconds. He is one terrific fellow. He and Gay watched over me like mother hens. Gay was afraid I would hurt my back and be in pain for the whole vacation.  

That mobility scooter would be great to have and I thought about buying one but with all my back issues I am not sure I could manage the battery every time I had to lift it. And Stu lives too far away to call. 

I am not ready to need it all the time, thank goodness, but if the time comes when I do, I found one online that comes with a ramp and a remote control that loads and unloads the scooter. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

This song fits my thoughts today

This poem was written a few years ago, but I feel it more today.

While I Waited, Life Happened
By Glenda Council Beall

In the waning days of fall vacation, leaves fly
like goldfinches, poplars’ jeweled showers
rain upon the mountains of West Virginia.

Temperatures plummet to freezing after dark,
but mornings crisp as caramel apples draw us
outside where cows seek sustenance burrowing beneath
tall weeds bronzed by season’s cold.

Three horses clip remaining blades from pasture overgrazed
in the drought. Smoke plumes from burning brush cut to make
the raw road, drifts across the pond’s mosaic surface.

I find myself nostalgic for my own country roots;
Soft sounds of mourning doves and lost calves calling
for their mothers; riding horseback in the woods, quail
flush and scare my pony; crows caw from stands of willows.

Boundless days stretched before me; days of wasted youth;
Hours of restless yearning, wanting always what I did not have,
waiting to learn what I would become, waiting to live,
oblivious to the riches I already possessed.

Given a second chance, I’d hold that gift of time cupped
tightly in my hands. I’d breathe, taste and savor every second
I have squandered — not fritter it away, but hoard each precious
minute, clutched firmly against my breast.

From Now Might As Well Be Then (Finishing Line Press. 2009)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Let me tell you about Hawaii

I have been away on a much needed vacation.
My sister and brother-in-law gave me a free vacation in Hawaii for a week. We stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club on the island of Oahu. Our suite was on the 16th floor and wow, did we have a view. The sunsets from our balcony were awesome as the sun dropped into the blue water of the Pacific.

I had to pinch myself every day to be sure I wasn't dreaming. Although Barry and I had some wonderful vacations in the past, this place was the most perfect, I believe. I called ahead a few days before we left to ask that no fragrance or scented products be used in our rooms. Tatyana in reservations made sure my request reached the housekeepers and Marie Joy, the maid,  followed my instructions. I slept extremely well and had no problem breathing. No allergy symptoms inside or outside unless I happened to be near someone wearing perfume.

Although the nine hour flight was hard, I made it fairly well. I did get up and walk a few times, but Delta leaves hardly any aisle space as they cram people into the tiny seats. If Delta took as much care with their customers as Marriott does, I would love to sing their praises. 

I hate few things in this world, but I truly hate public restrooms. On the flight over, every time I had to go, someone had been before me and wet the seat and the floor. I can't imagine why that would happen, not only once, but two times to me. The first time I reported it to the flight attendant. She put on her gloves and cleaned up the mess. But the second time she was nowhere to be found and I had to clean up the mess with no gloves. As I said, flying is not fun for me nor is it for anyone else unless you can afford first class. 

We rented a car at the airport in Honolulu and Stu, whose idea it was to pay for my airline fare, drove us a few miles out of town to the area where several resorts spread along the coast line. 

Stu driving the rental car

It was not until I stood high above the three pools and the restaurants and shops that I realized it would require lots of walking for me to get around here. I gave it my best effort when we went down for dinner that night. But walking back was harder. I had to take it slow and rest often.  

Looking down at the Reflection pool and the beach area 

We saw the sunset every afternoon from our deck. One could almost believe she had left her world and now lived in a totally new one. 

The next day we used our time to get over the long trip. We rested and slept most of the time. I developed a deep and abiding love for my bed at the condo. It was the best I've ever slept on and I could have spent the entire week right there. But, I didn't. 

I found the secret to getting around the large resort and even accompanying Gay and Stu on a hike. More about that later.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fond Memories of a Volkswagen Bus

When I read that Volkswagen was going to bring back the microbus, I felt a surge of nostalgia.
For almost ten years, from September through May, Yvonne Council, my sister-in-law, and I drove a micro-bus around the countryside in east Dougherty County, Georgia, picking up little-five-year olds and taking them to Humpty-Dumpty Kindergarten. Yvonne and I owned and were co-directors of this school set in a three bedroom house with a large fenced back yard.

Yvonne had taught kindergarten for another company in Albany, and she observed well. She learned how to run this kind of business and when she decided to open Humpty-Dumpty, she became successful right away. My younger sister had begun the business with Yvonne, but I bought her share and Yvonne was happy with the deal.

We left home early and made a number of stops in our micro-bus until all seats were filled. Part of our route included housing area on the U.S. Marine Base. Most of our students were military and naturally we included all races in our student body.

VW micro-bus like the one we drove, but the paint on our bus was not so new.

We arrived at the school before the parents who dropped off their children arrived. I still think that five-year-old children are the most precious and precocious. They love without question and show their love. I remember the hugs I received as they left to go home with their parents. After those children were picked up, we loaded up the microbus again and dropped off the little ones into the arms of their mothers.

The years Yvonne and I ran Humpty-Dumpty Kindergarten were the happiest working years of my life. Having taught for five years in elementary school where frustration with rules of administration wore on me, it was a joy to recognize the needs of children and be able to specialize my teaching to help children with those needs. Parents paid for their kids to come to Humpty-Dumpty so they were invested in their education.

This was in the seventies and public schools in Georgia did not include kindergarten. We didn’t get rich, but we made enough to matter and both of us totally enjoyed our work.

During those years we worked together, Yvonne and I grew very close. My sister, Gay, had moved away and Yvonne and I became best friends. I miss her. I miss those afternoons in May when she and I drove out in the country and clipped limbs with magnolia blossoms to line the stage for our kindergarten graduation. We piled them into the VW bus and I was almost overcome with the fragrance before we unloaded them at the nearby elementary school. My partner had the mind of a decorator, but we had the budget of a soup kitchen. She made the stage beautiful with the blossoms and in that large auditorium, I could handle the overpowering sweet odor of the magnolias.  

That evening about 45 children, wearing their graduation clothes, sat in front of their proud moms and dads who made pictures before, during and after the ceremony. Of course Mrs. Beall and Mrs. Council had to pose with the children.

We had been rehearsing for months the songs and little poems performed by the children. Our Mrs. Barker played piano with her swinging beat. Oh what would we have done without Mrs. B.? She lived right next door so she could walk over every morning for our music time.

Those years at Humpty-Dumpty were also the early years of my marriage. Yvonne and my brother, Hal, lived next door and we spent so much time together. They had parties at their house and we always attended. Those two were really fun people. Often I would visit with Yvonne in the afternoon while she cooked dinner for her family. She would insist that I call Barry and both of us eat with them.

Finally the school board included kindergarten in the public schools, and we lost most of our students. Yvonne was ready to sell out, so I bought the school and that included the micro-bus. The blue paint had faded, lost its shine, like the color in an old man’s eyes, and each day I wondered if it was going to make the route. 

We enrolled four-year-olds to keep the school full, but I refused to become a daycare center. No babies, no diapers, and baby beds. Four-year-old children are adorable and eager to learn. Some were not ready for numbers or letters, so I changed the curriculum. I and my teachers read stories and we played educational games. 

Just walking into the school each morning made me smile. I worked all afternoon in the office planning lessons and creating interesting work for the kids. My cousin, Ethel Wright, was one of the teachers and her students adored her. Her husband, Bill, made some wooden shoes with shoe laces so we could help the children learn to tie their shoes. 

We did all we could to keep going, but after a short few years, I had to close the doors. We just did not have enough students to pay the bills. My teachers and I left the last day with heavy hearts. We loved what we were doing and, those parents who sent their children to us, knew that. We heard praise for Humpty Dumpty many years after our doors closed. In fact, just recently I received an email from someone on Facebook who asked, "Are you the Mrs. Beall who taught at Humpty-Dumpty?"

The micro-bus had seen its best days and we sold it. I didn’t need it anymore. But for years when I saw a VW bus, I felt a pang of yearning for those days at Humpty-Dumpty. Maybe when the 2022 electric micro-bus comes out, I’ll be ready to give up my Ford Escape. I might be ready for another micro-bus.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My Labor Day weekend - fun and exhausting at the same time

I hope my faithful readers had a terrific Labor Day weekend. I did. We celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday with friends. I love it when we get together. We have been enjoying each other's company for 37 years. We have some wonderful and some sad memories. But when we get together we laugh like crazy and have such fun. 

Do you have friends or family that you have fun with like that? We try to have our gatherings each time one of us has a birthday. That insures we don't let other things get in the way of seeing each other since we all live in different places. 

On Friday of last week, I became foster mom for a couple of small squirrels whose nest had been blown down on my deck. Their eyes were not open and they were squirming around cold and wet. So I brought them inside not knowing one thing about caring for the little creatures.

My first instinct was to get them dry and warm. I put them in a shoebox with shredded paper from my shredder. Then I found a cotton glove and filled it with dried beans. Tied it off and heated it in the microwave for minute. I made sure it was not too hot before I placed in in the box with the babies. They loved it! 
See this picture shows how they loved it. 

See them cling to the warm "bean bag" I made for them.

I felt they needed nourishment so I went online and googled how to care for baby squirrels. I found all I needed to know. I put a tsp. of salt and three tablespoons of sugar into a quart of warm water. I found a 2 cc syringe in the house and began to give them a little bit of the water from the syringe. They loved it. I could tell they were dehydrated because I pinched a little of the skin on their backs and, like with humans, the skin did not quickly fall back and flat. According to the directions online, the most important thing to do at this time was keep them warm and give them the water about every 2 hours. 

I did a good job with them until I went to sleep around midnight. I set my clock to wake me up every two hours, but I woke up before the clock alarmed. All night long I fed the little sweethearts even though they did not appreciate my waking them. I wiped them down with a warm cloth each time. That was to wake them up as their mother would do, and to stimulate them to urinate and defecate. It worked! I reheated the bean bag glove each time as well. 

The warm wet cloth was similar to the mother squirrel's licking them, it said in my directions. By morning I was exhausted. I can't function without sleep. 

Gratefully, I handed them over to a writing student of mine, Kathy Knapp, who has raised a wild squirrel and loves animals. Before the day was done, Kathy and her husband found a man who would rehab them and one day let them go to the wild. My friend, Sarah, wanted to keep them and raise them, but her husband nixed that idea. She even went out and bought formula and a tiny feeding bottle. I didn't know there was formula available for baby squirrels, but it seems the same formula given to tiny kittens can be used for the squirrels.

Needless to say, I was still tired when my house guests arrived on Sunday afternoon, but rallied quickly and we had a grand old time on Monday. 

I hope no more squirrels build nests in trees over my house. I saw a new bird nest today in a rhododendron bush and I told my sister, I will not look at that nest or the area under and around it because I don't want to see any little birds on the ground or needing help. 

This week I hold my last writing class for the summer here in my studio. On Saturday we host the last guest instructor for this year. My work then will center on the tribute NCWN and NCWN West will hold in honor of Kathryn Stripling Byer on October 1. I hope everyone will come to the Jackson County Library in Sylva, NC for that event. She deserves all of the praise and attributes for her outstanding life of writing and working with writers. 

Have a good week and I'll see you next time.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ginny and the Butterfly

Virginia Urani, an artist who paints and teaches, is a frequent guest at Wildacres, a fantastic retreat in the northern part of western North Carolina. I hold the place sacred because that was where I went to figure out my life after my husband died in 2009. There I met Virginia and many others who paint, write, make pottery or quilts.

Recently Virginia was there and had the most unusual experience. This is what she wrote:

 A couple of weeks ago when I was at Wildacres a butterfly landed on my hand, delicately walked up my arm and shoulder, up my neck and across my face ... finally resting in my hair. After about 15 minutes, I stood up and carefully walked down the steps into the painting studio. and I gently placed him on a bouquet of tulips and wildflowers which had served as my models.  He stayed on the bouquet of flowers the entire time I was at Wildacres.  

He fluttered about a little but returned to my flowers.  One day I took him outside … it was sunny and warm.  He flew to the side of the painting studio and stayed there for an hour or so.  The sun turned to clouds. I found him on the ground, so I took him back inside and placed him on the flowers.  The days were cool and nights cold and there were storms so I didn’t put him outside.

When I went to the Painting Studio on Sunday morning and packed to go home, it was raining and cold. I couldn't bring myself to put the butterfly outside, so I carefully placed him on his bouquet of flowers in a big basket which I put inside a plastic bag and put him in the car next to me. Once home I put him in my studio and brought in fresh flowers. He seems to be doing well. I did some research and I know lantana flowers and petunias are favorites, and I had already discovered he LOVES wild mustard flowers. He has been with me over a week and they only live  2 weeks. He flutters about my studio a little and sleeps a lot. 

Last night I couldn't find him nor this morning. I spent about an hour in my studio organizing and throwing away stuff thinking that he could be ANYWHERE or maybe he died or sneaked outside. Then, there was a little flutter at my feet and there he was. He climbed on my finger then on the front of my T-shirt. I took him to the pot of lantana and he became one busy little butterfly. I have thought of taking him outside  but John reminds me that he won't live very long and it is once again cold, rainy with thunderstorms. 

So, for right now he will stay in my studio with flowers and plants and room to flutter about. I don't think he was ever very strong ... no healthy butterfly would ever have crawled up my arm, across my face and nestled in my hair.      This is a link to pictures of Virginia and her butterfly.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dusk, Twilight or Gloaming?

In a recent post I asked readers "What do you call that time between sunset and when darkness falls?" This is my favorite time of day.

We call it dusk or twilight, but recently a student in my class referred to that time as gloaming. Although I have read it in poems and historical prose, and I knew it was an English word, I looked up the definition to see where it came from originally.

Here is the definition.
If "gloaming" makes you think of tartans and bagpipes, well lads and lasses, you've got a good ear and a good eye; we picked up "gloaming" from the Scottish dialects of English back in the Middle Ages. 

The roots of the word trace to the Old English word for twilight, "glōm," which is akin to "glōwan," an Old English verb meaning "to glow." In the early 1800s, English speakers looked to Scotland again and borrowed the now-archaic verb gloam, meaning "to become twilight" or "to grow dark."

The sun has set and left its glow in the gloaming on the farm in southwest Georgia

I like the reference to glowing which is what I see at that time of day. Here in the mountains, the sun drops behind the peaks and leaves its glow in the sky and over the earth. Sometimes that glow is breath-taking.
Let's bring back the word gloaming. I like the sound.
The glow on the lake at the gloaming

On the farm in the flat lands of south Georgia, I remember walking west as the sun dropped behind the tall pine horizon. The gloaming was so powerful to me that I did not want to turn back. I walked until darkness fell around me.

What is your favorite time of day? What do you like to do at that time?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Peaceful Photos - They bring memories that make me smile.

John C. Campbell Folk School - a peaceful place to write and enjoy the view
A Sand Crane? I found this fellow in Palmetto Florida across the road from where I was staying.

One of my favorite places on earth - Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. I think I would love to live there, at least in the summer.
From the Marriott Resort where we stayed in Hawaii - another of my favorite places. I will add more Hawaii photos this fall.
My deck garden. I can sit inside and enjoy my flowers
Silhouette of cows at the pond at sunset on the farm in SW Georgia, taken by my nephew, brings back memories of all the years I lived there with the cows, horses, and family.
A golden field in Clay County in early summer. Peaceful and quiet. 

Sunset over the mountains with all the pinks filling the sky as the sun disappears and my favorite time of day begins. What do you call that time of day between daylight and dark?

Monday, August 7, 2017


I recently read an article on compassion in the workplace. That made me think of compassion in any area of our lives. It seems to me that our culture has changed in the past few decades. I think the twentieth century was more compassionate than the twenty-first. Or, maybe it just seemed that way. 

It has become popular to step on those who are already down. Homeless people are considered to all be drug users or just lazy. We are quick to judge others when we have not a clue what is happening in their lives.

Women who feel they can't carry and birth a baby for whatever reason, are practically stoned and thrown out of the tribe on social media and by some people I know who attend Christian churches. There seems to be no compassion for a family where another mouth to feed means such a financial threat that the parents fear losing their home or one parent having to quit work and cutting the basic budget so much they can't pay the mortgage or buy groceries or medicine for other family members. The majority of abortions are for married women. 

I hear from wealthy people who never had to wonder if they could pay for the next meal, that there are jobs available, but people are just too lazy to work.
What about those women, usually, who have to quit work, move in with their parents to care for them? Care-giving is a huge responsibility. Many of them give up their own lives to make sure their mothers and fathers don't suffer, don't go without food, and that they get the proper daily care. Older people on a fixed income of social security, even if they have a small pension cannot afford to hire someone to come every day to take care of them.

I delivered Meals On Wheels for a while here in my county. 
I felt such compassion for the elderly, many who lived alone in a mobile home, who did not drive and never saw anyone but the person who delivered their free meal. In one of the richest countries in the world, it seems such a shame to see sick people with so little help.

At the time, I was healthy and strong, but imagined myself in the same situation one day. Now, much older, I wonder if I could end up the same way. As our necessities grow more and more expensive, and our income doesn't grow at all, many of us could be in the same boat. 

Also, people with invisible illnesses are often criticized as being lazy and living off the government. Where is the compassion for those people? Mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, and other illnesses can prevent the patient from holding a full-time job. If they have to quit work and take disability, they are scorned because they don't look sick. They are afraid to take a part-time offer or do anything where they get paid because they could lose the disability which they desperately need. Our laws force some people not to work. 

We can't always judge by looks. I have diabetes, fibromyalgia, and MCS, none of which can be seen when looking at me. All of these cause extreme fatigue, and I use a handicap parking place when I can't manage the long walk from the parking lot. I ride the mobile cart in the grocery store. Invisible issues make us sick but don't always send us to bed. We trudge on as best we can. I wish people were not so quick to judge. That is God's work, not ours.

We as a people seem to have lost compassion for others. 
We openly criticize and hurt feelings. Shaming has become a way to hurt others. Remarks about looks, weight, clothing, and any way to find fault is used to make a person feel ashamed. If someone is different from us, we dislike or hate them. We hear so much now about the cruelty to children. If they dress differently from us, we accuse them of horrible things even when they were born here in the good old USA and are as American as apple pie. 

Social media has given a platform for mean-spirited people to spew out their ugliness without consequences. Name calling has become a huge problem. Even the president during the campaign called his opponents hurtful names for no reason. He got away with it, and I think that has brought out even more lack of compassion in our country. I have heard people defend him by saying, "Oh, that is just the way people in New York talk." I hope that is not true. I have friends from New York and they are not cruel to others. If they were, they would not be my friends.

The lack of compassion from people at the top is the worst. That is why I am a fan of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. They use their wealth for the good of the downtrodden, to fix major problems in the world. That is why Jimmy Carter is my hero. This man, and his wife, Rosalynn, show their compassion and empathy. He has even stood up to the Southern Baptist Convention because he feels they don't give women the same rights in the church as the men. The Carters have spent their lives doing for others, giving voice for those who have no voice in this world. Most recently he has been a voice for women who are abducted and used as sex slaves. 

Here is my example of the difference between people with compassion and those who have no compassion. A social worker complained about some who try to obtain government help when she feels they don't deserve it. She thinks the programs to help the poor should be discontinued. She voted for Mr. Trump because she thought he would cut out aide for the people who can't make enough money to feed and house their families. 

Another person thinks, this program helps so many people who need it, I think we must improve it and keep it even if some take advantage. This person has compassion for others. 

A man on the street is begging. He holds a sign, will work for food. If I give him a few dollars will he use it to buy food? I don't know. But he is probably hungry and I would rather give him a little money than wonder all day if I denied him nourishment. I have compassion for anyone who is homeless or has to resort to begging. I am not overly religious, but I remember from my years in church what Jesus did. He had compassion for those who were in need. I don't remember reading where he made people prove they were in need before he helped. 

Some say they have more compassion for dogs and cats than for people. They have contempt for the common man. I wonder what caused such distrust in humanity. But I know that just because a man is poor financially doesn't mean he is poor in character. How many times have we seen a person from a poverty- stricken home become a highly respected person as an adult, and many times it was because of the hard times lived through. He likely faced shame, humiliation and wondered if he ever would make it. When we give a hand to those in need, we often make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children.

Perhaps if more people stopped to think, there but for the Grace of God go I, kindness and compassion would become the norm in our country. I like the TV show about the boss who disguises himself and goes to work in his stores or factories to see what the people do and think about the company. He walks in the shoes of those who do the menial tasks. He learns his shortcomings and how he can help those who are loyal even though they are barely hanging in there financially. The boss learns compassion, I think, by talking to his employees who do not know who he is, and he hears their personal problems.
Homeless Shelters
Most of the people in homeless shelters go to work every day. So it is not that people are not working. The problem is they can't make a living wage. They can't save up enough money to pay two months rent up front on a place to live. I recently overheard a clerk in a retail store say that she worked three part-time jobs. "I have to find a full-time job," she said. "I can't keep on like this working day and night."  

If you have not looked at the cost to rent a decent apartment in your town, why not check it out? The renter has to pay a deposit and then a first and last month rent before he can sign a lease. With most people in our country only having about six months emergency fund in the bank, you can imagine if one of the parents loses a job, how quickly a family can become homeless.

Homeless children are the saddest of all to me. My compassion level rises up and up when children have no place to call home and often don't know where they will sleep each night. It takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem and their trust of people in general. Sometimes they never get over it.

I have been on my soap box today and I hope you forgive my long-winded post. I hope you show compassion for those who are hurting, who are lonely, and who are in need. We might not be able to give money, but we can call or write a letter or share something we have. We can all give love and caring. That costs us nothing. 

What do you think? Is the world suffering from lack of compassion? If one shows compassion, does that imply weakness?