I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Family Story from my collection


I am compiling a manuscript of family stories. Madness is one of them. Let me know what you think of it. 


Madness
By
Glenda Beall

It was summer and the hot August sun beat down on the fields and pastures surrounding our white frame farmhouse in southwest Georgia.  My sister Gay and I played with our dolls on the covered front porch while Fluffy, a black curly dog near the front screen-door, slept. She had been given to us when she was a puppy, and we loved her. I often buried my face in her soft fur and squeezed her in a tight hug. She licked my face to show me she loved me as well. Wherever Gay and I played, under the huge oak tree beside the house or on the porch, Fluffy was always close by as if she had appointed herself babysitter.
Our playtime was interrupted when Mother rushed out on the porch, grabbed each of us by the arm and hurried us inside.  We were forced to leave our dolls and Fluffy behind.
Being grabbed so quickly and seeing my usually calm mother in such a dither, I cried, “Mother, what’s wrong?”
“There’s a strange dog in the yard.  He looks dangerous. Stay inside until he’s gone," she said. 
It was then we saw through the screen door, the large brown dog coming from behind the house.  Mother had noticed him from the kitchen window, his muzzle white with foam, slobber dripping down in long streams. He seemed intent on a mission, looking for a victim.
Mother called to Fluffy, "Come here, come inside, Fluffy."
But Fluffy would not come. Mother did not believe in having pets in the house. Fluffy had never been inside. She ran down the steps heading for the place where she felt secure, her bed under the porch. It was the only refuge she knew.
The strange dog saw her and followed. In minutes we heard Fluffy’s pitiful yelps. I wanted to go to her. I pushed on the screen door, but Mother would not let me open it. I stood safely inside and called Fluffy until she finally came up on the porch. I let out a sigh of relief. I saw no blood. She looked fine to me. I wanted to run out to her and give her a big hug. There was no sign of another dog in the yard. 
“He didn’t hurt her, Mother,” I said. “She’s not bleeding or anything.”
Still, Mother insisted we stay inside away from Fluffy who was back on the porch, licking her fur, cleaning herself of the terrible ordeal she had experienced.
My father and brothers came home for the noonday meal, and Daddy examined our friendly pet. He found bite wounds we had not seen. The rabid dog had done the damage. Daddy locked Fluffy in a cage beside the barn. She would be fed and given fresh water as he watched for signs of illness. She was quarantined, a word my sister and I did not know.
 Her sad brown eyes begged for our pats and hugs, and when we approached she wagged her bushy tail. But we could only talk to her from a distance and tell her how sorry we were that she had to stay in the cage.  We missed her and every day we asked, “How much longer does she have to stay shut up?”

One day Gay and I went out to visit Fluffy and found the cage shut tight, but our beloved dog was not there.
“Mother, Fluffy’s gone. What happened to her?” I ran inside to the person who always made things right. Tears ran down my cheeks. Somehow I knew she couldn't fix this problem. She seemed as sad as I was, but I couldn't help my anger toward her. If only Fluffy had been an inside pet.
We were little girls and no one wanted to tell us Fluffy had to be euthanized. Daddy said she must have gotten out of the cage somehow. He evidently wanted us to believe she escaped and wondered away. Even today my older brother tells me he doesn't know what happened to our pet.
I knew Fluffy would never have left us. No matter what we were told, Gay and I believed she had been destroyed. I vowed then and there, at the age of six, that when I was grown up and had my own house, I’d have my own dog, and he would sleep in the house and even sleep in my bed so that I could protect him.
We had other dogs as I grew up. They were family pets. Brit was an English Shepherd that was killed when she was run over in our yard by a neighbor kid.  Turbo, a purebred Cocker Spaniel, was given to us by an Air Force officer who was going overseas. That was a big mistake. That fine animal deserved a home where he was groomed daily and fed treats, curled up by the fireplace. Instead he ran out and collected sand-spurs and burrs in his lush coat. He went to the field with my brothers and my father. Turbo rode in the pickup and acted like a hound dog. He disappeared one day, and we never saw him again. I always hoped he had found a better place to live.
One week after my wedding day, I was finally able to fulfill the promise I had made to myself. My husband Barry, who also loved dogs, gave me a puppy, a miniature black poodle, that we named Brandy.  This lovable little animal quickly owned our house and both of us. In many ways he looked like Fluffy with his dark curly coat, his deep expressive eyes that could read my mind. For nineteen years I kept him safe in spite of his mischievous ways, his daredevil personality, and his stubbornness. But one afternoon, his old body gave out as he slept in our bedroom. It was raining. Barry was out of town. Alone, I buried him under the trees behind our back yard.
Since that time I've opened my heart to other dogs – Nicki and Kodi, the Samoyeds, so pristine white, always smiling and loving – Rocky, the rescued mix, who was Barry’s dog, but won my heart even as I grieved for Kodi. We protected them well, loved them and they loved us. Each one had his own personality, his peculiar traits just the way humans do. They all lived long and good lives except for Nicki who died at the age of two from a mysterious malady no one understood. All of them lived in our house and Brandy slept in our bed. The bigger dogs had their own beds or slept wherever they wanted. 
Rabies is a terrible disease, and found in wild animals in our area even today. I am grateful that my mother was vigilant enough to protect my sister and me, even if she couldn't save sweet Fluffy. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What a summer!

Summer is definitely here. It has been a  mixed bag for me since May 12. I had plans for this summer. This year I had writing classes scheduled every month in my studio, and I am scheduled to teach four classes at the local community college in August. I had worked hard to attract good writers, who were also good instructors, to our area. I wrote articles about them for the newspapers and posted them online. I accepted registration fees and planned for snacks for the students.

In May our literary group held a writing conference, and I was involved in the planning, and more, for that event. I had not realized the stress I had taken on myself until two days after the conference. I started up my stairs from my studio and a sharp pain shot through my thigh. My left leg collapsed under me and I fell on the stairs. I was alone in my house and for a brief moment I was terrified. I thought I might have broken my hip. Although I couldn't put weight on my left leg, I didn't think anything was broken. 

The following day an  x-ray of my back showed no serious damage. Still, my hip and left leg hurt me like a bad toothache. I began treatment with my wonderful orthopedic massage therapist and my chiropractor. I was told I had periformis syndrome, a painful condition involving the periformis muscle in my low back. I was also told by my chiropractor that I had a slipped disc in my low back. Each of them gave me relief, but the relief didn't last. I was told not to sit for more than an hour. I was told to rest and learned that it could take 8 - 12 weeks for the muscle syndrome to heal. 

Meanwhile, I had become almost an invalid, unable to stand in the kitchen and make meals or load the dishwasher. I had to hire help to take out my garbage, sweep the floor, and do most of the menial chores I did every day. I didn't dare go downstairs because I wasn't sure I could come back up.

I admit this situation took a toll on my psyche. For the first time since Barry died, I felt helpless to care for myself. What was I going to do? Should I leave my home? Should I move to an assisted living facility? The previous self-assured woman who juggled duties and took on projects had become a fragile person I didn't recognize.

To make matters worse, one week after the fall on the stairs, I was exposed to a room full of perfume which triggered my multiple chemical sensitivity and created a respiratory illness. For four weeks I fought a sinus infection and then an ear infection with two rounds of  antibiotics and over the counter meds. I went to see my sister and she took such good care of me, which helped me in my healing. I recently had an x-ray of the hip and an MRI of my spine. I will likely begin a physical therapy protocol soon. So, you see why this summer has been a bummer.  Because of all the health problems, I have cancelled classes at Writers Circle for the summer.
Students gathered around the table at Writers Circle
Forced retirement was not on my radar, but I am beginning to get used to waking up with no schedule of tasks awaiting me. I feel like someone who has been carrying a heavy stone for a long time and didn't realize how much it weighed me down until I dropped it.

I made up my mind that I will do nothing but what is good for me, what I want to do, until I get over these setbacks. I decided to look forward to what the future holds for me and not look back. I have learned that I can re-invent myself as I did five years ago.

The new me will not try to multitask, not feel driven to accomplish too many goals. I accept my limitations and look forward to new experiences and challenges. As soon as I can walk without pain, breathe without effort, and get my energy level up to par, I know I will be back to seeing my friends, my family, and enjoying these beautiful mountains where I am so fortunate to live. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July - different this year for me

                     
The month of July, which is often a tough one for  me because my husband died in July, 2009, is going to be a good one for me this year, I hope.

On July 9, 10:30 a.m. I will be the featured reader at Coffee with the Poets and Writers, a program I initiated in 2007 for local poets in our area. It is held at Blue Mountain Coffee and Grill. The reading is sponsored by Netwest, our mountain chapter of the North Carolina Writers' Network. I hope my local friends will come out and support us that day. We have a good time. We offer an open mic session where folks in the community can come and read an original poem or recite a poem they have learned. After our meeting, we get the chance to socialize when we pull tables together and have lunch.

I will read and share my poetry again on July 19. at 2:00 p.m. in Franklin, NC at the Macon County Community Facilities Building, 1288 Georgia Road, Franklin, NC 28734.  Also on the  program that day is Susan Lefler  an outstanding poet from Brevard, NC. The NC Poetry Society and the Ridgeline Alliance sponsors this event. I am a  long-time member of the NC Poetry Society and sat on a panel for Poetry day at Catawba College this year.

During the month of July I hope to attend some of the events of Folkmoot, USA an international festival held in Waynesville, NC and surrounding area. I found a little cottage with reasonable rental rate in Maggie Valley, NC which is not far from Waynesville. It seems the events are held within a wide range of towns in W North Carolina from Burnsville down to Franklin. Performers come from five or six different countries and some local groups perform as well.

Susan Lefler from Brevard, NC will read in Franklin,NC
 at the 
Macon County Community Facilities Building, 1288 Georgia Road





Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where is she now?


Twenty three year old Glenda

Glenda Council fishing at lake in AL with Barry Beall and his parents


I don't think I had ever fished until I met Barry and went on a trip to a lake in Alabama with his parents. I was 23 years old, shortly after I met my future husband. The pictures here were slides that I recently digitalized. I have more photos that show a young, shy girl, who thought she was too thin and was unattractive because she wore glasses.







In a box downstairs are many slide trays that tell the story of our lives from the early dating until our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, TN. Slides tell about vacation stories, our high moments and our low. I am the token person in most of the pictures because Barry liked to have a human being or an animal in all his nature or landscape pictures. We don't have nearly as many pics of him because he was the one behind the camera.



When we married, both of us had new convertibles. My first job, teaching fourth grade at Sylvester Road Elementary School, afforded me the luxury of purchasing my first car. I loved that car more than some folks love their kids, and I was not about to part with it. So Barry sold his brand new Chevy II ragtop because we could not make two car payments each month. He bought this little bug-eyed auto you see above. I think it was an Austin-Healey Sprite. This was not his first sports car. While in the army in Germany, he owned a couple of fast little cars, and he loved to drive them.

The house in the above photo is my parents' home in southwest Georgia. We gathered there almost every Sunday for a big dinner with my family. Barry and I lived only a couple of miles away on the same farm where I grew up. I thought I would live there always, even though he and I often fantasized about having a mountain getaway in north Georgia. We built our dream home based on Barry's memories of California houses he had seen while serving at Monterrey Language School. The slant roof, redwood structure with walls of glass, an upstairs balcony and spiral staircase developed into the home we had saved for and always wanted. I dreamed of my house for several years after leaving it to move to the mountains.

Monday, June 23, 2014

That's Life, New and Selected Poems by Abbie Johnson Taylor


Congratulations to Abbie Johnson Taylor, a faithful reader of this blog. Her poetry chapbook, That's Life, New and  Selected Poems is being published by Finishing Line Press and they are accepting pre-orders now. See below what Abbie says on her blog.

My poetry collection from Finishing Line Press, That’s Life, is coming out late this summer. Life happens. As a teen-ager, you’re told you can’t go to the mall because your aunt from out of town is visiting, and the family is planning a trip to see The Nutcracker. As an adult, you hear news on the radio about an airport bombing in Los Angeles. Your husband suffers a debilitating stroke, and you spend the last six years of his life caring for him at home.
Not all the poems in this book are about tragedies. Some are humorous, others serious. Topics range from school to love to death and everything in between. Here is what others have to say.
“Abbie Johnson Taylor’s book of new and selected poems, That’s Life, speaks to both the small and momentous events in our lives. She writes of a picnic in Florida where she eats fried chicken, and she writes of her husband’s stroke and then death. In between, we see a woman who appreciates her foldable cane, and who offers advice to teen-age girls. Taylor’s language is simple and clean. She doesn’t get distracted by trying to make her poems sound “poetic,” but rather uses clear, everyday language to convey her thoughts to her readers. I know that many readers will find solace in Taylor’s plain-spoken, but heartfelt lyrics.” Jane Elkington Wohl, Author of Beasts in Snow and Triage
That’s Life is a collection of poems that celebrates the normal, the ordinary. In this book, beauty, peace, and happiness are found in everyday events and situations. Abbie Johnson Taylor also emphasizes the strength of the human mind and heart. Faced with difficult, stressful, and tragic circumstances, the subjects in this book nonetheless endure, thrive, and bask in happiness and hope.” Allyson Whipple, author of We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are
If you order before August 29th, you can buy the book at a reduced shipping rate. It’s not available as an eBook yet, but it will be IF the publisher sells AT LEAST 55 copies. For those of you who need the book in an accessible format, at some point, I’ll try to record it and make it available on my Website as a free download along with a text version. In the meantime, I’ll post excerpts here. Please share this with others who might be interested. Thank you. 


(Please mail all orders to the Finishing Line Press address below or order online at https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?products_id=2081.
Please send me ______ copy(ies) of That’s Life: New and Selected Poems by Abbie Johnson Taylor at $12.00 per copy plus $2.99 shipping. Enclosed is my check payable to Finishing Line Press for $__________ Name Address City/State/Zip Please send check or money order to:
Finishing Line Press P.O. Box 1626 Georgetown, KY 40324

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fathers, Daddies, Papas - we all have one

Coy Council with his first car

 I never knew what to get my daddy for Father’s Day. He said he didn't want anything, but I felt I had to do something. We always gave presents to Mother who enjoyed our making over her. I am sure that Daddy had many shirts, belts, shoes and stuff he never used or wore. With seven kids he couldn't expect to have a father's day come without the obligatory box and card.

I agonized over what to get him because I wanted it to be special, to give him something that would please him, to show that I had made an effort. Once I wrote a poem for him. I gave it to him in a card, but he never mentioned reading it or whether or not he liked it. 

One year I made the mistake of going up to him and giving him a big hug. He stood like a giant tree, his arms straight down by his sides. I was hurt, but I should have known better. He was uncomfortable with any show of emotion. I used to think he had a heart of stone, but in his last years, I came to know him better and realized he was a marshmallow inside.

Because he was brought up to believe that real men don’t cry, he was deathly afraid he might shed a tear and someone would actually see it. He lost his own father when he was only ten years old.  But even before his father, Tom, died, he was not around for much of my daddy’s life. Tom brought his family to Pelham, Georgia from the farm in north Florida where Daddy was born in 1900. All the children went to work in the new textile mill there. But Tom hated working in a factory, and he went back to the farm. He came back to Pelham a couple of times each year with a wagon loaded with cured meat, corn and beans and anything from the farm that would help to feed his large family. My father remembered his daddy, and told us stories about him. But Tom Council died when in his early fifties, leaving a wife, several daughters and a little son behind. 

Men of my father’s generation were expected to be the breadwinners and expected their wives to nurture the family. With four sons and a grown daughter, my father didn't find much use for my little sister and me, it seemed, until we were grown and could help out. My lifelong goal of making my father proud came to fruition after my mother’s stroke, after she lost her short term memory. At the time, both my sisters were married and lived hundreds of miles away. 

Finally, when he understood that Mother had to have extra care that he could not provide alone, he appreciated his girls. Both of my sisters came and each stayed a month until we could make arrangements for a part-time housekeeper. When they left, I supervised her and managed Mother's care. Daddy called me when he needed me, day or night, and he was happy I was there. 

My father, an honest, kind-hearted, hard-working man was devoted to his family. He said to me in his last months of life, “I always prayed that I would live to see all of my children grown and married.”  

The average life span of a man in the early twentieth century was 48 years. From an early age, he had been afraid he might die and leave my mother and his children all alone. Growing up without a father, he knew the impact his death would have on his kids. After he bought the farm and suffered an injury to his back,  he was prone to kidney infections. I remember as a little girl that I was afraid he was going to die. As Mother worried and piled quilts and blankets on him, I heard him moan as he endured hard chills and fever.  

My parents' 50th wedding anniversary in the seventies with all seven kids
My older brothers had a different father than the one I knew. He played baseball with his boys and read comics to the kids. But I never knew that man. My father was often worried and serious, often upset and complaining, a pessimist who was sure he was going to lose his farm due to bad weather or a poor crop. When lightning struck a tree and killed the livestock under it, he was devastated. But he managed to hang on and, with four hardworking sons, they bought the adjoining farmland and formed a business that eventually made them all financially successful.

I am proud of the man who fathered me. He was not easy to love, but he gave me a home, with all the security and comfort he could afford. I carried his name with pride. And after years of writing about him and learning about his life, I now understand him and why he was unreasonable at times, extremely strict and demanding. His concern was usually for our welfare, our safety, our good names, our futures.

If we made a dumb mistake such as the time my youngest brother and his friend, as a prank, stole some bee hives, Daddy went on the warpath. He said he did not raise thieves, and he made my brother take the hives back to the owner and apologize. Daddy did not go with him. My brother had to face the music all alone. That was a lesson to all of us. Unlike many girls I know, I never, never took anything that did not belong to me. No shoplifting in my past, I assure you. My father did not raise a thief.

My parents set a great example for the seven of us. Their work ethic became instilled in all of us. Daddy had no use for self-righteous, pretentious people who held themselves above others. He spoke with disgust about men who did not put the welfare of their families first. Life was hard for my father as he grew into a young man. He had been betrayed in his youth by people he trusted, so he developed a tough shell that shut out everyone but his family. At times it seemed to me that he didn't even trust everyone of his kin. 

He loved Mother and his kids above all else, although he was not one to say it. He also loved his bulldogs -- the Georgia football team, and his canine pets. 
Daddy, before I knew him, in his baseball
uniform
He had been quite a baseball player in his youth, and sports were his major interests throughout his life. Growing crops was his passion. He was on his tractor in his huge garden just a few days before his death from pneumonia at the age of 87. 
I am grateful to have had this good man for my father. 



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Today, June 14, is the anniversary of my wedding to Hugh Barry Beall from Rockmart, Georgia. We met on July 4 and married on Flag Day, June 14 at the First Methodist Church in Albany, GA.


Barry at 28 when we married. 
While I've been laid up with first one malady and then another the past month, I've used my time to go through old photos, slides, and albums. How young we were that summer day we met. We had no idea where life would take us but we only cared about one thing. We wanted to be together. Boy, did we have fun! He had the greatest sense of humor and could always make me laugh any time he wanted. When he sang to me and played his guitar, I could not believe that I, shy and self-conscious, was the one he had chosen. He was charming. He lit up a room when he entered and he had that quality right up until his death.
I was a brand new fourth grade teacher and he, recently discharged from the U.S. Army, worked as manager of the Luggage and Gift Store. I couldn't cook when we married but he never complained. When I ruined a meal, he said, “Let’s just have peanut butter sandwiches.”


He loved the mountains and so did I. He loved dogs and so did I. We both loved convertibles and each had new ones when we married. He taught me to ride motorcycles, and I taught him to ride horses.

Barry Beall


Looking back over the 45 years we shared, I realize what held us together through good and tough times was our commitment to our marriage and the fact that I didn't think I could live without him in my life. I never allowed the word divorce to enter our conversations, no matter how angry or upset we were with each other. I tried to support him in everything he did, and he was my biggest cheerleader.

At Halloween, Barry became Lonzo Carpe, the old man you see here. At parties no one recognized him. He stayed in character all evening. 
Our ambitions were not to make tons of money, but to enjoy our relationship, to take care of each other and to glean all of life’s greatest joy out of every day.  
When I make my gratitude list, I always find something about Barry to put on that list, and I don’t think I will ever run out of items.

Our first Christmas at our mountain house in 1995 with Kodi, our beloved Samoyd.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Visit to Church Made Me Sick

While I have been recovering from back and leg problems, I developed a mean respiratory illness that has sapped my energy. Having multiple chemical sensitivity, I know I can't go to church or any place with tight crowds of people. But I thought I could and should go to a service the Friday before Memorial Day. 


The  fragrances worn by everyone in that church, mostly women, of course, but men also, hit me really hard and by Sunday I was sick. If you are at all familiar with MCS, you know there is no medicine that I can take that will stop the reactions I get from triggers such as perfume. I wore my charcoal lined mask most of the time I was in church, but it only takes a small amount of chemical toxin to set off problems for me and others who have these sensitivities. 

Now I am  taking antibiotics which may be helping a little, but I am not well yet. Over the counter drugs don't help me at all. In fact, the doctor said the nasal spray I used probably worsened my condition. 

I think I get it now. God is telling me to stay out of churches when people are there. 

In a discussion with my niece who is around fifty, we tried to figure who buys perfume and what kind do they use? People my age use the ones they wore when they were young. Young people wear the new fragrances promoted by celebrities, I'm told.  My niece said she nor her friends use perfume on a regular basis. I think my generation was brainwashed to believe they had to layer scents with bath powder, body lotion and  then spray themselves with the same smell so they leave a wave of chemicals in their wake. 

What is amazing to me is how many people I talk with hate the fact that every product we use these days is scented. Have you ever been in a nice restaurant where you are eating a great meal, then pick up your cloth napkin and the smell of laundry detergent or dryer sheets hits you right in the face? Scented Gain or Tide doesn't add to the taste of  your steak, does it? 

My niece said someone she works with insists that before parents come into the day care center where she works, the tables and everything must be wiped down with Clorox. Clorox is a terribly strong chemical that  is not good for anyone, especially children, to breath. The day care worker is not concerned about the germs, but about how the parents will feel about the center. "If they smell Clorox, they immediately think the place is very clean." 

See what the advertisers have done to us? They have brainwashed us into believing that certain smells mean clean. A young man detailed my car and I insisted he only use vinegar and water which will leave no smell in my car. But when he finished he asked, "Do you have anything we can spray in the car to make it smell clean?"

This result of research suggests that over ten million Americans are suffering from MCS. That's a number larger than the population of the state of Michigan in 2010.

We are killing ourselves and especially our children and those with fragile immune systems by dousing our homes and our bodies with petroleum based chemicals. Sadly, the American people think they have to accept it even if they don't like it. But if we quit using those products, we could make a statement. Go to the Environmental Workers Group, a research group that tests the products on the market, EWG.org, and see which products are safe and have the fewest dangerous  chemicals in them.

Save money by using a simple mix of vinegar and water along with plain old baking soda for household cleaning. It cleans as well as anything you purchase in a bottle or box. The odor of the  vinegar dissipates quickly and no harsh chemicals are left on your surfaces. Make  a  cheap but effective laundry detergent with unscented soap, Borax and Washing Soda. I use it  all the time and my clothes are clean with no synthetic odors. Contact me by email, Nightwriter0302@yahoo.com for recipes.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hidden dangers at the beach?

As you all know, I am concerned about the chemicals we use on our bodies. Our personal care products often contain harmful ingredients that we, the consumers, do not know about. I found the following article on sunscreens most interesting. Parents slather sunscreen on their children and themselves, but should carefully read the labels and know what to look for when they do.


JUNE EDITION - 2014
Nutri-News
Watch Out for These Hidden Sunscreen Risks

Watch Out for These Hidden Sunscreen Risks

It's true. Excess exposure to the sun's UV rays can increase your risk of certain types of skin cancer.
So shielding our precious skin with sunscreen this summer makes a lot of sense. After all, our goal is to avoid the risk of melanomas and carcinomas as much as possible.
But protecting your skin may not be quite as easy as you thought.
It turns out many of the sunscreens you are counting on may contain hazardous chemicals. And those compounds could actually increase your risk of developing cancer of the skin!
Worse, they may even be altering the function of your hormones.
Here's what you need to know…
  • Some sunscreens contain retinyl palmitate. And since it's a form of vitamin A, it sounds like it should be healthy. But it's not. Studies show retinyl palmitate speeds up the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.
  • PABA used to be popular in sunscreens. But we don't see it much anymore. That's because it attacks your DNA and causes genetic mutation when it's exposed to sunlight. However you can still find it in some products. Look for padimate-O or octyl dimethyl on the ingredient list. Then avoid them.
  • Another ingredient often found in sunscreens is methylparaben. Breast cancer tumors contain high concentrations of this compound. When it's exposed to UVB light rays, it increases cell death and oxidation in human skin.
  • Other parabens, along with a chemical called oxybenzone, can also act as hormone disruptors. Simply put, that means they can potentially affect sexual development and reproductive function in children. In girls, that means early sexual development. In boys it's just the opposite. It can affect the production of testosterone and stunt testicular development.
So before buying a sunscreen product, make sure to check for retinyl palmitate, PABA, oxybenzone and any words ending in "paraben" (i.e., propylparaben, butylparaben, etc.)
For maximum protection without added cancer risk, the Environmental Working Group suggests choosing a zinc or titanium base with no added chemicals. 

This is from news@e.nutri-health.com .    

Thursday, June 5, 2014

D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA where Ash Rothlein spoke tonight

If all had gone as planned and I had not taken a fall and then developed this respiratory problem, I would be in Bedford, VA tonight with my friend, Nadine Justice. I would have been there because our dear friend, Ash Rothlein, World War II veteran, is front and center at the events going on there.

Nadine sent me a photo of him speaking before the honors flight dinner Thursday night.
Ash Rothlein in red shirt at podium. He will be ninety on June 12.
Ash has been on a mission since 2008 to bring veterans together on this 70th anniversary of D-Day. Ash was there at Normandy soon after the first wave of troops landed on the beach. His writing about that day and the emotions he felt when he saw how many fellow Americans had been killed brought tears to the eyes of all of us in our writing class when he told his stories about that war. He was determined to honor those who died and those who are living today that experienced the war that saved our world. In my opinion it was the last war that we should have fought, the last one we have won, and the last one that was properly declared. 

Ash has been a leader in this large ceremony in Bedford this weekend. He managed to get over two hundred WWII vets brought there and given free accommodations. Of course each veteran has to have someone with him to look after his needs. Medical staff must be on hand in case someone becomes ill. All the hotels in the area are full, I'm sure. 

Ash spearheaded, with his own money, the completion of a statue, which he will help dedicate tomorrow, that pays tribute to the young men of Bedford, 22 in all, who lost their lives at Normandy or soon after. I hope Nadine will send me more pictures from tomorrow's events. 

Although I could not go, I am with them all in spirit. I am so proud of Ash. He has worked tirelessly to make this a spectacular event for those remaining WWII vets who are all near his age. Nothing he has done is for him, but for others. 
I tell him he is a symbol of what one man can do if he believes in his mission and in himself. 


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Admiring the Life of Dr. Angelou

Written on Sunday, June 1.
I have enjoyed Oprah's replay of Maya Angelou's interviews  on OWN. I am always amazed at how far the famous poet came from being abandoned by her own mother until she was ten years old, to being lauded by people all over the world. In an interview on NPR she said she didn't blame her mother at all for sending  her and her brother to live with her grandmother when they were small kids. This  had to be after she was raped by her mother's boyfriend at the age of five. She was mute a number of  years after that violation.The children were put on the train with a note attached to  them saying where they were to get off in a  state  many miles away.She  said the  porters on  the train made sure they reached their destination.

When I hear her story and other stories like hers, I realize how blessed I was to have a wonderful mother and family, all through my childhood. How can I complain, even now, when someone like Dr. Angelou, who had the deck stacked against her, overcame such hardships to get an education and go on to make a difference in the world. 

This has been the weekend for me to observe and not participate. That is unusual for me as I am almost always working on something. But I think I need this time to contemplate my own life and where I will go from here. I have made one thing the meaningful part of my life since  Barry  died, and that has left me fragile. I will pursue more meaningful things. What will that be? I'll have to figure that out. First I have to get strong and healthy again.
Stay with me, my blogging friends. I appreciate you so much. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Goodbye Tiger

We know when we bring home a cat or a dog that we have made a commitment to do our best to care for this pet that depends on us. For over forty years our house has been home to dogs and cats. Today, my last pet was put down by my sweet and caring  veterinarian. Tiger was so sick she could not be brought back after staying at the  clinic for three days on IV and antibiotics. It was time. But I am sad.


Tiger came  home with  me from South Georgia when my sister, June and her husband, Charlie, moved to Atlanta. They could not have a  pet in the retirement community. Tiger was not their cat, anyway. She came out of the woods and made a friend in Charlie. Charlie likes cats and she knew it. She jumped up in his lap and purred her love. But after a few weeks, Charlie and most of their  belongings were picked up by movers and I was left there to lock up after everyone was gone. When I opened the back door and this cute little cat came right in, I knew I would have to take her back to North Carolina.

She and  Rocky, our rescued dog, never had a cross word. She could take his bed if she wanted, and he never growled or fussed. In their later years, he licked her from head to tail almost every day and she stretched  out  on the floor enjoying  all the attention. 
Barry loved her from the day she came to us. He was more of a cat person than I, but no one could  help loving Tiger. She was a people cat. If you  came  to my house, Tiger would soon be in your lap purring. She tried to do that with my brother, but he flew out of his chair and tossed her across the room. He is not a cat person.

I will miss the way she chased the little red laser light up the wall and under the table. She never missed seeing a squirrel at the window and would charge to the top of the coffee table and almost go through the pane. She had a bob tail and walked down the hall like a prissy little girl. Her lovely eyes were large and round. Someone had clipped the tip of one ear, probably to let it be known she was neutered. 

I will miss  her scratching at my door in the morning so she could come in and get on the bed with me. If she had been here today, she would be on the bed because that is where I've been all day. I am under the weather and resting as the doctor prescribed. Feeling blue already because of my health, the news that Tiger had to be put down was a large blow. But I know it was the best thing to  do. I didn't want her to suffer any longer. She will be the last pet I will have,  and she will live forever in my memory with Rocky, Kodi, Nicki, Mama Cat, Queenie and my horse, Pretty Thing. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I am Fortunate to Have Good People in My Life

It has been five days since last I posted  here. I've seen two talented and knowledgeable people who have given me intense treatments for my back problem and I am better. Tomorrow I will receive another workout. I admit, it is painful, but I can tell it helps.


I had a pity party for a few days, feeling sorry for myself, but am in a better mood tonight. My schedule requires my being up and going, beginning with a birthday celebration for a long time friend this weekend and an afternoon class at Writers Circle on Sunday afternoon. 

I appreciate good friends who, in the past few days, helped me see that I can cut back on stressful activities without giving up many things I love. Also, it is fine to ask for help when I need it. Why is it so hard for us to ask for help when we are so willing to give help where we can?

Tender Loving Care

A few days of care by my sweet sister hastened my recovery I'm sure. How lucky I was when she was born a couple of years after I came into this world. We grew up inseparable until I left for college. But two years later, we both registered at the University of Georgia. I have always been so proud of her. She became a member of the modern dance troupe. I loved watching her graceful moves in flowing costumes. 
Gay Council, second  from left

Later she was a member of our local hometown ballet organization. She is an artist in every way. Drawing came naturally to her and many of us have her pet portraits hanging in our houses. Eventually she became a sculptor, studying with teachers in Atlanta. I have one of her pieces in my living room, and I find that people are surprised when I tell them my sister created it. They assume I paid big bucks, but she gave it to me one Christmas. 

We talk about what we will do when we are old and needy. She promises me she will be there for me and she knows I will be there for her as long as I possibly can. We have our conflicts, but they blow over quickly. Tuesday we went to lunch at Olive Garden and then, when her husband came home from work, we all went to see a  wonderful movie, Million Dollar Arm, just the kind of show we both like. Clean, inspiring with a good, uplifting story.  I'm sure that helped me wake up feeling much better today. 

Gay Council, majorette at Albany High School











Friday, May 16, 2014

Resting, Icing and Heating -- Not too much fun.

All week I have been "resting" and using ice and heat on my back. Thankfully, it is helping. 

I have not abandoned this blog, but I have forced myself to stay away from my keyboard for awhile.

Monday evening as I started to climb the stairs from my studio, I felt a sharp pain in my thigh, and then my leg crumpled and I dropped to the floor. I crawled up the stairs because my left leg was too weak to support me. So, that  is why I am resting, icing, heating and taking anti-inflammatories. I've been told to rest, but not to sit for long periods. No sitting means staying away from my computer. The inflamed muscles in my back and leg need to be stretched, gently. I lie in my recliner for awhile, then get up and walk around the house, then sit for awhile and sleep or watch  TV. I read and water my flowers, piddle around doing this and that, but I am impatient for the pain to be gone.

Do you know you have a piriformis muscle?
Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance.  ---from WebMD

I know I push myself and try to do too much. I  hear it from all who know me. I am motivated by my own desires, my own enthusiasm to do that which I enjoy. But right  now, I realize that I can only do so much. I  am being told, "Slow down and take care of your body. It is the only one you will ever have."

So I am limiting my time at the computer. I am going to set my timer, get up and walk, stretch and rest, and I will soon be back to doing all the things I enjoy--writing posts for three blogs, writing poetry and prose and teaching. In fact, I just agreed to teach a four week course at Tri-County Community College in August. Hope to see some of my readers there.



Friday, May 9, 2014

One Step in Becoming Calm

This advice came from an article on how to be calm. I like "remember not to hear praise in a whisper - negative things in a thunder." 


"Step 5: Remember not to hear praise in a whisper and negative things in a thunder. When we look at ourselves, to have a fully balanced picture and a healthy perspective on self, we must appreciate our talents as well as our growing edges. Gain a full inventory of your gifts and then look at when those very gifts (such as enthusiasm) become problematic (intrusiveness), so we can appreciate what is good about both ourselves and those situations that cause our very gifts to become burdens to ourselves and others."


Most of my young life I failed to hear praise although my mother and my sisters saw my talents and abilities, but the negative things bombarded my mind like a massive storm. It has been a difficult task, learning to appreciate my talents. It took writing them down. Making a list and realizing that I had talents. Isn't it awful that we have to grow old to learn what we had all along? Like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, we have what we need but just don't know it. 

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