So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much!

p.s. my mom now refers to me as the family "chronicler" - getting down all the family stories. How I love that title!! :)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Thanks to those whose shoulders I've stood on.

Quote from Maria Shriver: This week, thank those whose shoulders you stand on. Honor those who came before you. Be grateful for those who paved the way for the life you have now. And, if you don’t know their stories, then ask them. Or look them up. Read about their lives or watch a documentary, like my daughter did. One of the best ways to honor someone’s legacy is to learn about it, and then carry their story forward in your life and in others.

I stood on the shoulders of my sister, June, who would not accept that her only alternative was to marry and be a housewife.
She wanted to earn her own money, make her own decisions and she did. She earned a scholarship to college and then helped send me to college.

June Council 

Without June's encouragement and support, I don't think I would have my B.S. in Education. My parents' hope was to have their seven children complete high school. College was too large a goal and seemed much too far to reach for my father.

June was taken under the wing of her art teacher, and she often spent weekends with the teacher's family. My sister was determined not to marry a local farm boy and work as hard as farmers' wives worked. She wanted a home like her art teacher had and lovely things she saw there.

June finished two years at GSCW (Georgia State College for Women, before she came home and went to work to help the family. Soon she was employed at Turner Air Force Base in Albany.  By that time, the family had a new house and life was better for everyone.

I admire her because she never forgot her little sisters and was determined that we would have more opportunities than she had.  In summer, we spent weeks with my sister and her husband, Stan, who was an officer in the Air Force. We saw a more sophisticated lifestyle and a home with finer things.

At their house, art by famous painters hung on the walls. On Friday evenings, Stan grilled a large steak. Although only he and June and Gay and I sat at the dining table, candles burned in the center giving a soft glow to our little circle, making the crystal and silver shine.  Being there made me feel warm and loved. My sister showed me a life that I could have if I wanted.

Women living today have stood on the shoulders of the women who came before us. My mother showed me how to love unconditionally and how to appreciate important things in life that money could not buy - love, family, generosity and compassion for others. She taught me acceptance, a hard lesson for me. She did not enjoy the frugality she had to endure, but she had chosen to help her husband follow his dream and she did all she possibly could to make that dream come true. Without her, he and his sons would not have been successful, because she was willing to sacrifice for her family. I am thankful that she prospered as well when the family business paid off. 

I have stood on the shoulders of my sister, Gay. 
Her giving heart, her genuine caring for others, has been an example to me. She is an unbelievable artist and has inspired me for many years. Recently she inspired me even more when she decided to get in physical shape by doing something she loves -- dancing! When many women younger than she are complaining of aches and pains, are sitting in front of their television sets or sitting around a card table, she attends classes three times each week where she dances for hours. In a short time her endurance and stamina have grown as well as her self confidence and renewed interest in her improved physical appearance. I am trying to emulate her now. Every time I look at her, see how happy she is, I am overjoyed.

My painting instructor, my first poetry teacher and my friend, the first woman poet laureate of North Carolina, are in the same category--women who paved the way for me to journey on to where I am today. Without them, I would not have achieved much of what makes me the woman I am today.

Do you have women who helped pave the way for you, or gave you a boost to achieve your goals?
Are there women in your past who changed your life?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

We want to be seen, valued and accepted for who we are.

At a crossroads in my life, I am thinking about what I want for my last act.  What do I want to do with my one precious life? Whatever strikes me as useful and valuable.

In 2009, my husband and companion of 45 years passed away. I had to decide: What do I do with my life and who am I now? I opened my writing studio in 2010. It was the most satisfying work I have done since I was in my thirties. I discovered the teacher in me had never gone away, but teaching adults who were happy to be there and who enjoyed being in my classroom exhilarated me.

Bringing good poets and writers from far away to our little town gave me a special joy. Many of our local writers feel they can't travel long distances to attend workshops and conferences in large cities. Writers Circle Around the Table gave them the experience of meeting someone, learning from them and connecting in a way that will be beneficial for the rest of their lives.

A class at Writers Circle around the Table ten years ago
I didn't keep a record of how many students passed through my doors in the past ten years. Some became lasting friends like Barbara Gabriel, who moved across the country and continued with her writing, travel and started a travel blog.  Barbara is a woman who makes a difference wherever she goes. While in our area, she started a Big Sister group. She is smart, interesting and capable of doing what she wants to do.

Ageing is challenging at times. But most of the women I know face problems like taking care of an ill spouse, loss of a loved one, facing their own illness with the wisdom gained over all the years of their lives. My friend, Estelle, in her nineties, is still working on that book about her life she intends to leave for her children. I spent the afternoon with her recently and brought home tidbits of historical knowledge that I can use in writing about my parents, things I had not found on Google.

Another friend who has lived with chronic pain for most of her life and authored a book on the subject, volunteered to facilitate a poetry critique group. She is a well-published poet and is using her knowledge to help others. She has taken on responsibility in her third act that she did not have to accept.

One of my adult students in his seventies has recently become a columnist for his local newspaper. He had never been a writer or journalist before he retired. His articles are creating interest in his county and town, but also from my readers as I publish them on:
His most recent post was on the Birth of the Constitution.  One reader said it should be published in a large publication where more people would read it.

While this country is obsessed with youth, their music, their morals or lack of, their clothes and all the new technology, women and men in their seventies and older are stepping out and proving that age is not a stop sign on the road of life. No one wants to be discounted because of age. They know they have grown better with age. Most of us finally feel free to pursue our dreams and be our best selves, like one of my favorite people who loves to dance and now in her seventies, she is dancing three times each week and has been asked to participate in a program where she will do 25 dances in one day. And she dances in heels! Wow!!

Hilary Clinton, age 71, and her daughter have collaborated on a book about Gutsy Women. Chelsea used a computer but Hilary wrote in long hand. Together they accomplished a highly praised book I want to read. We can not let technology hold us back. Even younger people are frustrated with much of what we are supposed to know about technology. Some young people cannot read cursive writing. That is a handicap to my way of thinking. They are having to learn or struggle with the failure of what our school system imposed on them.

Adult children sometimes try to put their ageing parents in a box. They have preconceived ideas that an older person's ideas are no longer relevant or important. They shame their mothers and treat them like children. That really angers me.

In a recent post Maria Shriver said older women she interviewed said they feel more confident as they age, and they would not go back to their younger selves if they could. I feel the same way. Life after fifty has been the best part of my life. I would never want to go back to the shy, insecure and fearful person of my youth.

"It’s a privilege to use your voice on behalf of things you care about, no matter the stage of life." I believe Shriver's words are true. I find myself speaking up and using my voice on behalf of things that are important to me,   and I will continue to do so as long as I can.

Do you find that you speak up more as you age? Is your third or last act what you want it to be?

Friday, September 20, 2019


My blogger friend, who lives in Australia, volunteers on a suicide hotline. 
She recently participated in a walk, Out of the Shadows, to remember those who have taken their lives and to let the families and loved ones find a way to honor them. Sue says they have a high rate of suicide in Australia and it has recently been growing.

In the comments on this post, I noticed many people speak of what suicide survivors have said about what might have prevented their efforts to take their lives.

A man said that if only one person had said a kind word to him on the bus ride to the bridge where he jumped that day, it would have kept him from wanting to die.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of those who are desperate and feel no hope. Just a smile, a kind word, or simply taking time to listen. So many just want to know someone hears their cry of despair.

But, we don’t do that anymore. Most of us have our heads down and eyes on our smart phones, playing games, checking Twitter or whatever. We are alone in our thoughts, and we are ignoring those who need to know they are seen and that they matter.

I have written before about my delightful mother who never met a stranger in her life. If she didn’t know someone, she made sure she spoke to them and gave them her sweet smile. They felt better because they saw my mother that day – in an elevator, at the grocery store, or in a doctor’s waiting room. No one ever seemed in a hurry to leave her presence.

I often meet people who are like my mother
I am like mother in many ways. I like people. I get energized when I am with other people. Unlike the shy girl who was embarrassed when mother struck up a conversation with strangers, I now find myself talking to men or women when I run into them in public.

Recently while shopping at Wal-Mart, I met a delightful woman, in her mid eighties, while standing at a counter searching for items we older people sometimes need. I heard her speaking and looked to see if she was talking to me. She smiled and said, “I’m just talking to myself. I do that a lot now.”

“I do, too,” I said. “I’m the only person who listens,” I joked.

Before long we were in such a deep conversation that we had to let people get past us in the aisle. She had only lived in the area a couple of years and during that time she cared for an ailing spouse who died.

Before I left her, we exchanged our phone numbers and made plans to meet for lunch. It takes so little to give another person a lift or brighten their day. And we gain from that effort. 

I feel sorry for the younger generations that stay buried in their smart phones and never look up to see what they are missing.
I get frustrated at the people who spend more time taking photos of themselves in places they visit, than in actually learning about and enjoying the experience. I can say that, although Barry made photos everywhere we traveled, we never missed the enjoyment of meeting the people who lived there, learning the history of the land and those who settled there. We observed those around us, animals and people, and took that away stored in our memories.

I began this post with the topic of suicide which is also increasing in the United States, and I will share a poem about the first person I knew who committed suicide. It is sad, but asks the question, why? What might have made a difference?

One Flaw

Her mother heard it from the kitchen
her brother heard it above the radio
playing in his room.

She dressed in pale blue blouse
and navy skirt, silver charms around her
wrist, for her seven-thirty date with Tom.

The night before she skated at the roller rink,
blond hair flying ‘round her shoulders,
tanned legs clad in short white shorts.

Image of the perfect sixteen-year old –
Cheerleader, straight A student.
Boys wanted her. Girls wanted to be her.

At precisely seven-fifteen, she changed all that.

Her mother found her daughter’s white bedspread,
her pristine walls, her carefully chosen outfit –
and Ann, blood splattered, destroyed
                          by a single shotgun blast.

By Glenda Council Beall

Monday, September 16, 2019

Carroll Taylor and Woody the Duck

Last year my friend and fellow writer, Carroll Taylor, and I were discussing the animals in our lives. Like me, she and her family have had animals, birds, and other critters and each of our animals usually has a story.

Carroll writes novels for young adults. She also writes plays and short stories. 

She posted a story on her website journal about Woody the Duck and I want to share it with you today. You will laugh.

Do you have interesting stories about animals in your life? 
I would love to read them. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

For a couple of days I was so woozy I could hardly remember my own name.

I spent Thursday at the hospital undergoing a diagnostic procedure that I thought would be simple and only take about two and a half hours. But I was there from 1:00 until nearly 5:00 PM. The procedure is a very painful one, so they wanted to be sure I was well-sedated. Because I am allergic to the drug they had planned to use, they had to substitute something else. Seems it took much longer for this medicine to knock me out.

Doesn't it seem that medical procedures are always more complicated and more serious than we are told? Perhaps doctors know if we knew the truth, we would not agree to these procedures.

I have no memory of the procedure, but saw the evidence from a faulty IV and some band-aids plus those sticky little things they put on when they hook you up for an EKG. I kept finding them on my back.

My wonderful neighbor and friend drove me to the hospital and stayed there all those hours before bringing me home and preparing dinner for me. I am so blessed to have her in my life.

I was still dopey when I got home and just could not really wake up. I slept for hours but when I was up, I stumbled and staggered like I was inebriated, and could not think properly. I knew it was best to stay seated or in bed. I did not want to fall.

Friday morning was another story.
I had tried to eat a small piece of peanut brittle Thursday night. Bad decision! The sticky candy grabbed my bridge, and pulled it completely out. After finally getting a ride to my dentist's office, I can chew again. I gave away that peanut brittle and hope the receiver has good teeth.

Today, Saturday, I have been back to normal and happy to be able to write, to do some work around the house and have my senses about me. I even managed to disconnect the cable box from my downstairs TV. Tomorrow I will try to reconnect it to one upstairs.

I look forward to Sunday when I hope we get some rain and the weather will feel a little more like fall. I so want this summer to be gone soon.
 Lexie wants to go for a walk, but I can't take the heat. 
I look forward to the red, gold and orange leaves covering the mountains. I long for the brisk mornings and cool evenings on my deck.

Hope you are having a good weekend and that your coming week will bring you joy, contentment, and good health.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Bison, Elk and Any Wild Animal is dangerous if Humans get too Close

Travelers who go out west in the fall should be very careful. Elk are in mating season and the bull elk can be dangerous to people who come too close to him.

Years ago we went on vacation in the Canadian Rockies. What a wonderful trip! Barry had his camera ready at all times and captured so many photos of wildlife.

In Jasper BC, elk wondered around on the lawn of the town courthouse and into yards, along the streets and roads. We were warned that it was dangerous to approach an elk at that particular time of the year.

We were told that only a few weeks earlier a tourist and his children were walking about the town when they saw an elk nearby. The father sent his little girl up to the elk to stand beside him while her picture was taken. Suddenly, the bull elk turned on the child and attacked her. She was killed before anyone could help her. That was all it took for us to keep our distance from elk and most of the wild animals we saw.

After a day of sight-seeing and photo-taking, we settled into a cabin we had rented earlier. Once inside, Barry and my brother-in-law grabbed beers and we decided to go outside and sit in the evening cool. But, when the door was opened, we jumped back inside. The bull elk was making himself at home right in front of our door. He grazed a bit and then laid down not five feet from the door to our cabin.

He had us trapped! Several times Stu or Barry opened the door and tried to shoo him away. But he was not going anywhere. He threw his big head up and headed right for our door as if to tell us so.

We didn't know what we were going to do. There was no phone in the cabin and this was before we all carried cell phones. Darkness began to fall. We could see the office lights across the way. How were we going to get anything to eat? We could not get to our car. Frustrated, we knew we just had to wait until the big creature decided to leave. We hoped he would not spend the night in our yard.

We did not know who called and got us help, but from nowhere a truck pulled up and a man in a ranger uniform got out.

"How is this one man going to chase off the bull elk?" I asked. But suddenly I had my answer.

First, the ranger pulled out a hand gun and shot it into the air. The elk was on his feet by now, but not going anywhere. From the back of the pickup truck, the ranger pulled a hockey stick with plastic streamers hanging off it. Lots of streamers in all colors. He held that hockey stick high in front of him and began to walk forward and shake it at the elk.

That did it. You would have thought a monster had appeared. The big bull elk  took off like he was running a race and disappeared into the woods.

We scrambled out of the cabin asking questions of the ranger. "Why did he run from you?" "How did you do that?" "What is that thing?" That was when he explained about the hockey stick and streamers.

"They are afraid of anything taller than they are," he said. "So I hold the hockey stick way up in front of me. He thinks I am bigger than he is, and he takes off."

What a laugh we had, but we were very grateful for the ranger who told us the folks at the office had called him. They saw that we were trapped. Throughout our days in the Canadian Rockies we saw elk everywhere, but we did not get up close and personal with any of them.

Just as the bison in Yellowstone have hurt people recently, any wild animal can hurt you. How many people have been harmed by deer that seem so docile and gentle, or bear that, if left alone, would go on about her business, but if she feels her cubs are in danger she will attack. Don't bother them and usually they won't bother you.

 Humans don't respect animals and their space. When we visited Yellowstone, I fell in love with the bison that seemed to own the roadways. What an interesting creature to watch. But so many tourists want that photo that shows how close they got to the wild beast, like it is a sign of bravery. But it is really a sign of stupidity, I think.

I'll share a poem I wrote about the Bison at Yellowstone.

 Autumn at Yellowstone
Is it the fire or maybe just September
that paints the park in shades of brown?
A herd of bold, shaggy bison crop
amber prairie grass waving below
gigantic silver Rocky peaks.
Do the small calves by their side face
certain death from winter’s blizzards?
I reach from my car window,
touch the sloughing coat of one
historic survivor marching like a tired soldier
down the highway’s center line.
In the distance hobbling on three legs,
no longer able to keep up ―
a potential dinner for wolves.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

“Pretty Thing” portrait by Gay Council Moring

This lovely horse arrived at the Council Farm when she was two years old.

She came from a farmer who lived nearby. My brother, Max, bought her to use as a cattle horse, to drive the milk cows from the pasture each morning and to use anytime cattle needed to be moved from pasture to pasture.

The filly was only two years old and but was well trained. Her name was Princess. I was in college and only home on weekends and holidays, but I fell in love with her. She was a chestnut with a blaze running down her nose and three white stockings. I thought she was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen. I found myself calling her Pretty Thing instead of Princess.

“Come here, you pretty thing,” I’d say.

Although she didn’t officially belong to me, I became possessive of her. My father and older brother would not buy me a horse although I had always wanted my own. A horse was as expensive to keep and feed as a cow and not productive, they decided. 

I borrowed horses to ride as a kid, and once we kept a very nice horse on the farm a couple of years. It broke my heart when the owner took her away. I had named her Dawn. She was gentle but not hard to push into a gallop. My friends had fine horses to ride and did not care nearly as much about them as I would have mine.

The summer after I graduated from college, my brother, Max, told me Pretty Thing was mine. He bought another horse for the farm. I was on cloud nine. 
I spent all that summer riding and training her to shake hands, to count and do other tricks. She was extremely smart. I am convinced she thought out what she wanted and learned to demand it. I had to be careful that she did not outsmart me which she often tried to do.

When I married the following summer, she came to live with me. I could see her every day and feed her, brush her and kiss her nose. I adored my horse. Before long, my husband had bought his first horse, so Pretty Thing had a friend in the pasture. There was no doubt that she was the alpha horse. The big black and white gelding gave way when she wanted attention.

We spent many happy hours on horseback, riding a twenty mile day trip, trekking through the woods where we watched the wild life in the trees and on the ground. The small creatures were not afraid of the horses and Barry and I were quiet. A huge gray fox squirrel sat on the pond’s edge drinking, his full bushy tail, like a woman’s stole.  A barred owl perched in a tree near the stable at dusk as we headed back to the house.

I have many stories about Pretty Thing. She was cursed by a farrier putting on her horse shoes because she turned and bit him on the backside while he held her front foot between his legs. "I hate these backyard pets," he growled.

At times I drove my little white convertible into the pasture just to visit with her and take her some treats. For no reason I could fathom, she bit a hole in the top of my car. And, another day, my poodle, Brandy, who was jealous of Pretty Thing, jumped up and bit the horse on the nose.

She had some funny habits. If she walked into a stream, she buried her whole head in the water and wagged it back and forth, spraying water all over me, the rider. She did the same thing at her water trough. I think she just liked to wash her face when she got the chance.

She would come to me when I called her, but if I walked up to her in the pasture with a bridle in my hand, she would not cooperate unless I had a good treat in my hand.

Pretty Thing was an excellent cow pony. She knew how to herd cattle and one day when the bovines were not moving fast enough for her, she reached out and nipped one on the flank. She and I had a couple of spills. Once she slipped on wet leaves when making a sharp turn and fell flat on her side. My foot was caught under her and I hobbled on crutches for a couple of months. Another time, the saddle was not tight enough when she made a quick turn while driving cattle. The saddle rolled under and I with it. Afraid to turn loose and be trampled by her flying hooves, I held on too long. When I had to let go, her hind foot flew right over my head. I think she made sure she didn't hit me with her hoof. She continued after the cattle while I sprawled in the grass. I was not hurt. Well, only my pride. 

My lovely steed grew old and eventually just lazed in the pasture most of the time. At the age of thirty-two, she had lost so much weight she looked like a foal. My vet said he couldn’t do more for her and suggested I put her down. The day I saw her eat her feed, then regurgitate, I knew it was time.

We buried her in the pasture where I had watched her graze so many years. I could not do it. I had to call others to take her to the grave that had been prepared. She was given a shot that buckled her knees and when she had drawn her last breath, she was buried. I watched from my window, tears streaming down my face. I still cry as I write about that day.
My sister Gay and her husband Stu

My sister, Gay, an artist, did the portrait of Pretty Thing, in pencil. It hangs in my house at the end of the hall where I see it all the time. My pretty mare looks so real I can almost hear her snuffle a greeting when I walk by. I admit, I sometimes talk to her.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I am not ill, but thanks for your loving concern.

I didn't realize that my last post on this blog gave the impression I was ill. I was attempting to show how kind and caring are the people in my life.

Actually, I am doing quite well now.

The main problem I have been fighting for the past year or more is chronic pain. Part of the problem was my primary care doctor will not prescribe any kind of pain medicine that I need. I had to resort to Extra Strength Tylenol and OTC pain medications. These can cause liver problems. For half my life I have had to use some kind of codeine product for extreme pain several times a year, but due to the over-reaction to prescribing those products, doctors refuse to do so.

My medical providers in the past knew I only used prescription medications when I absolutely needed them, and I had no problem keeping some on hand. I have tried to manage pain most of the time without using medicine. I used acupuncture, orthopedic massage, chiropractic care, physical therapy and PRP injections. But at times I have nerve pain that needs immediate intervention.

I am very encouraged at this time. After a three month wait, I finally saw a doctor who understands and is sympathetic to my dilemma. She is a pain specialist. She is smart and offered long-term cessation of one of my worst conditions. Like many, I thought a pain management center was a place where you were given steroid injections and heavy drugs to mask the symptoms.

I have to accept that I will have a drug test each time I have an appointment there. That is the new norm due to the abuse of drugs. Such a sad situation. Someone like me has to be tested like I was an addict because of all those who have bought and used drugs illegally.

Once again I realize that we have a broken health care system in this country. For decades I have sought help from neurologists, rheumatologists, orthopedists, and other doctors, but never heard the suggestions I heard from this doctor this week. With all the reading and questions I have asked, no one ever said to me, there is a simple procedure that can be done to stop Trigeminal Neuralgia. 

We, the patients, have no way of knowing there are certain doctors who know how to help us. Our family doctor often just gives us pill after pill until he runs out of ideas. I knew my pain was nerve pain so I sought neurologists to help me. But, to no avail. I was told this week that my pain doctor often teaches neurologists how to help people with migraine headaches, occipital neuralgia and other painful problems.

I can't wait to begin treatment and hopefully end my constant fear of this piercing pain which can start suddenly and will not go away. It is a determined and stubborn enemy of mine. Things are looking up.

On Wednesday, I attended Coffee with the Poets and Writers and had lunch after with some of my friends. I look forward to getting ready to drive over to Sylva, NC for A Day for Writers  on August 24 where a large group of people from four states will enjoy hearing and learning from knowledgeable and interesting instructors.

I hope I have cleared up the impression that I am ill. I appreciate the loving concern, however.

Anyone who deals with chronic pain knows it is a constant battle to keep moving and working and just enjoying life. Pain interferes with sleep and we all need sleep. That is what I have been dealing with the past year. Pain drains our energy and makes us tired or fatigued all the time. I hate that because I have so many things I like and want to do. Life is good and I am eternally grateful for my life and all I have in it.

What do you think about health care where you live? Have you had a long and difficult time dealing with the medical world?

Other posts similar to this one:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

When Friends Show their Love

Just when I feel so down I could cry, I realize that I have dear friends who are supportive and generous. I mean real friends, not just friends on Facebook.

As my readers know, I have been dealing with chronic pain for the past year, and I spend much of my time these days focusing on how to rid myself of the pain, how to cure this ongoing issue. Physical therapy, chiropractic care, orthopedic massage, PRP injections and warm water exercises. At times I am not able to reach down and put on my shoes without excruciating pain. I get frustrated and angry that I can't easily do what I've always done for myself.

My two best friends, Mary Mike and Estelle, are always there for me. They listen when I need to vent and do their best to help me when I need something. Mike even offered to let me come and stay at her house where she could take care of me. Wow! And she has enough on her plate already.
Estelle Rice and Mary Mike Keller

Mike has dropped what she was doing to drive twenty-five miles to pick me up and take me home when I became ill and could not drive. I used to think only my sister would do that for me. 

Driving has been difficult for me, but not so much now. When I left to go to south Georgia a few months ago, Mike drove me half way to Atlanta where my sister, Gay, picked me up. Gay drove all the way through Atlanta like a champ. On Sunday, Gay drove us back through Atlanta but I suggested we called Mary Mike again. My friend, who had just got out of the bath and was in her pajamas, did not hesitate.

"Sure. I will get dressed and come meet you." 

Gay was exhausted. I knew she needed to get home. It had been a long hard week. I was happy she could go home to her husband. I was grateful that Mike could and would come and get me.

It is hard to have to ask others to sacrifice their time and energy for me.  I have always been a nurturer. I became a caregiver in January 1975 when Mother suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. That was when our roles reversed and I became the mother. For ten years I was on call 24/7. I would not have had it any other way. Caregivers usually feel the same.

I consider myself an independent woman who has never quit even when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the early nineties. Some days I suffered with fatigue so intense I wanted to lie down on the floor and sleep. If there had been a sofa in my office, I would definitely have gone to sleep. However,I learned what I must do to keep going and doing. I might have been out of commission for a few days, but I bounced back and kept on "ticking."

When my husband had cancer, I stayed with him twenty-four hours a day for weeks while he was in the hospital. But I had the support of my sweet sister, Gay. She has never refused me anything I needed, if she could give it. I don't know what I would have done without her at that time.
Me with my sweet little sister
I always knew I had family who would go out of their way and be there for me when I needed them. I did not expect to have friends do the same. 

Recently a new friend, author Carroll Taylor, drove me to Writers Night Out. She  carried my tote bag as I was learning to walk with a cane, trying not to trip myself. At the meeting, Alan Cone and his delightful wife, Mary, sat beside me. Before they left, he wrote their phone number on a sticky note and stuck it on my book. "If you need someone to give you a ride, call us. We will be happy to pick you up and take you where you need to go." 

How generous and caring, I thought. I did not expect that, but I do believe he was sincere although he and Mary live in another town.

I stopped by my mailbox and saw that someone had planted flowers around the post. 
I had no idea who did that. I asked a woman who works for me if she had done it. She is a caring person. But she said no.

"I think your neighbors planted the flowers," she said.
"Really? Why do you think that?"
"I saw one of them watering something at the mailbox."

Have you ever been caught at the grocery store with no umbrella or raincoat and the rain is coming down in sheets? I shop in a mobile cart now and was sitting near the door waiting for the rain to stop. A woman with two children in tow was busy loading her car and finding movies for the kids. When she finished, she asked me,"Do you need some help?"
I answered, "I asked a bag boy to go and bring my car up. It is right there, not far, but he hasn't come back. I'll just wait until the rain stops."
"I can get your car for you - if you trust me to do it."
"You can't do that. You'll get soaked," I said.
"No. Here, give me your keys." She put a plastic grocery bag over her hair and ran to my car. In minutes she had driven it right up to the door, opened the back and she helped me load my groceries. 
I thanked her profusely, of course. She said she lived here part time and had her grand-kids for the weekend. Her name is Linda and I am still in awe of her generosity. Every day, it seems, I run into kind and caring people.

I am not surprised
My neighbors, Alice and Marsha, have always been exceptionally kind to me. Alice cooks and brings me dishes that she says are healthy for a diabetic. I admit, some are not to my taste, but I love her so much for  thinking of me. Her brownies made with beans are very good. She also gave me the wonderful Taco Soup that is so versatile I have shared it with friends and family. It is one of my favorite healthy foods. 

I am fortunate to have these dear friends. They are an important part of my life. Their kindness comes from their hearts. They don't feel obligated. Some people just have that giving spirit. They were evidently taught by parents who believed in helping your neighbor.

Other friends who help me are John Buckley, Gene Vickers and Keith Norton, who will accept pay for handyman work, but barely enough to cover his cost to drive to my house.

Gay said to me recently, "You have a wonderful support group here." I agree. I would hate to leave them. I'm not sure I would ever find such kindness and caring again. 

You probably have friends like mine who go out of their way to be there for you. I know that some of you are that kind of friend to others.

Until next time, be generous with your friendship and your caring and may you receive the same in return.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Write, don't call me.

I get so many robo calls and calls from people asking for money, that I don't answer my home phone unless I know who is calling. If they don't leave a message, I don't think they need to speak to me. Very few people know my cell phone number. I have a small flip phone that really doesn't do anything much but act as a telephone, not a computer.

The blogger at Windbreakhouse really speaks for me about being glued to a cell phone. She says she wants people to write to her, not call her. I like that, but at times I like to hear the voice of my family.

This blogger and writer says what I feel about cell phones and the obsession people have today with being available 24/7. I am not available 24/7 and I like it that way.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Why are the mass shootings still going on?

Today I woke up to hear that we have had not one but two mass shootings this weekend. When will it end? How will this be controlled? Does anyone in Washington have the guts to stand up and say what is needed, or do the lobbyists control everyone? No one who is running for office again, I’m afraid.

One of the shootings was done by a racist individual who drove miles with his automatic weapon designed to kill people. His goal was to kill people. He walked into a Wal-Mart where families were shopping for school clothes and supplies and he opened fire, randomly killing men, women and children. His purpose, he said, was to kill Mexicans.

Why would anyone have such hatred for strangers, people he did not know? I would like to see reports from psychologists, psychiatrists, or any mental health people who would interview or question him. We need to understand the mind of these killers. We have seen movies and documentaries about serial killers, and their minds and motives have been explored. Why doesn’t someone give us information on people like these killers? If we knew what they were thinking and what they thought to gain, perhaps we could begin to find some way to prevent these senseless murders.

I know many of them are motivated by fear. Even people in my own family living in the Deep South have succumbed to Trump’s racial rants. One very kind man in my family says Trump is right. We must have a wall to keep out these people.
“Why,” I ask. “We have always had immigration and we are known all over the world as the place that will take in those who are hurting, who are in danger and who pursue the American dream.”

“But we can’t take in thousands of them.” And then he told me what he feared.

“What I see is all those breeders, women, coming in and producing more of them. Pretty soon they will be running our country. They will take over our government and everything will change.”

I know that most racists are motivated by fear which enhances prejudice. There is a saying in the South. “We like Black people individually. But we don’t like them as a race.”

I think that has become the thinking of many Americans regarding Latinos.
I believe that is the cause of the Nationalist fear that is exacerbated by Donald Trump’s remarks that he Tweets every day, it seems. I see him the same as many, particularly in the region where I live.

On billboards we see stores advertise gun sales with the words, “Get yours (a photo of a big gun) and be ready for the revolution.” I have heard that secret militias have been formed in this very conservative region, and it was popular to belong to them when Barack Obama was president.

Was this a fear that because he was a black man, we were going to be taken over by black people? I do believe, from those I know personally, that if we don’t have a Caucasian man in office, their fear will increase and these types of killings will continue and might even become worse. Sad but true.

On a thread on Facebook, recently, I saw a woman had defended the president. This was in reference to his comments on the four women of color in Congress. She said, “He is just saying what we all think.” That is sad. If she represents people in this country, we are headed for a bleak future.

That is why I agree with those who say the president’s remarks arouse the fear in his followers, and some feel they have to act, to do something to protect our country, to show their patriotism.

When law-abiding people, kind and caring people like my family member feels scared of having immigrants from South America come into the country because “they will take over our government,” I understand why some people who are irrationally fearful, might take up arms. Like Trump, these people would not mind white immigrants, like Trump's wife, pouring into this country.

Another conversation I had recently with a local man, a veteran, who is involved with our schools, who counsels kids in trouble, surprised me with his thoughts on the controversial wall between Mexico and the United States.

He said, “Walls work. There is a wall between North Korea and South Korea and it works.” I said that comes from having a war there. We have no war between us and Mexico.
“If we had guards standing on top of a wall with guns, I’ll bet you wouldn’t see people trying to get across the border.”

I asked, “What would the guards do if someone tried to get over the wall?
“They would shoot ‘em,” He said.
I responded, “You would not really want to shoot down unarmed and innocent people, would you?”

This is the kind of person who upholds Trumps divisive remarks and feeds on his hatred for anyone who is not a white Nationalist. It is scary, isn’t it? I would imagine this is the kind of man who hoards guns, is part of the silent militia, and believes he is going to protect our country from those immigrants and others who are not what he considers “patriots.”

These are remarks by Beta O’Rourke:
"We've had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years, during an administration where you have a president who's called Mexicans rapists and criminals. Though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than those born here in the country, he has tried to make us afraid of them, to some real effect and consequence.
O’Rourke said that the president attempted to ban all Muslims from this country.” The day he signed that executive order the mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground.” 

What do you think? I am opening comments to all today. No restrictions except I have to monitor your comment before it will be published. I would love to hear from all who have thoughts on this issue.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Vagabonde's blog is one of my favorites

I follow some favorite bloggers and today I want to send you to this blog post Recollections of a  Vagabonde, a post so sweet and touching it brought me to tears. She is a wonderful photographer and an excellent writer. I relate to her blog and so do many others my age.

In one of the pictures on this post, she shows the round off a tree that she saved. That was what I had wanted from the 300-year-old oak tree beside the house where I grew up. But I was not there and the folks taking down the tree did not understand what or why I wanted that round so the tree was burned and I did not get a piece of the beloved old friend.

I wrote a poem about that tree and I'll share it on my next post.