I’m allowed to change my mind.

Today is an exciting day. Last night I slept upstairs for the first time in almost a year. Since I came home from rehabilitation last December, I’ve been downstairs in the guest room. IMG_1108Yesterday my daughter and I cleaned my room and carried my clothes back upstairs. I suddenly came to the realization that I belong in my bed. I don’t like feeling like a  guest here. It took me a while to go to sleep but once I did, I slept all night. Lulu didn’t have any difficulty making the transition. She went to sleep straight away.

After falling down the stairs last year, my first thought was that I should sell my house and move to a one-story place. It seemed reasonable, the right thing to do.

As time passed, though, I started to feel more and more unsettled about that decision. Fortunately, I can change my mind. And so I did. The thought of downsizing a second time became a great weight on my shoulders. It’s too heavy and I’m unwilling to carry it. I have the option of doing it later — or not.

I feel lighter and happier than I have in a long time.


PLUVIOPHILE: (n) a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

The definition above is the most simple one I could find to describe this lovely word. The meaning is evident to anyone who spends time taking apart and playing with language. I love words. I like saying them, sometimes even when I don’t know what they mean. I looked this one up just to see if there were some undertones or overtones that I could learn. And there are. There can be a sexual connotation. There are some who would argue that a Greek word would better fit the definition. Don’t remember the Greek word. Have some fun — look it up.

Sometimes I’m a pluviophile, sometimes not. This is the second day that we have had constant, steady rain day and night. We need the rain. We’re a little below our average. That knowledge makes me more accepting of rainy days than I might be otherwise. And when I become intolerant, it’s usually because the gray skies; the lack of sunshine is taking a toll. As you can see in the photo above, an umbrella a la Monet goes long way on a rainy day.

IMG_1082-2I love the way the rain wets the remaining, soon-to-fall, colorful leaves and gives them an almost neon brilliance. This scene is my constant companion as I write and enjoy the gas logs in my family room.

I was a serious lover of rainy days as a child. My brother and I used to beg our mom to let us play in the rain. If it wasn’t lightning she would sometimes relent and out we’d go straight for the puddles where we squished mud through our toes. I know she didn’t like the clean up that followed our muddy forays into nature but she was a good sport about it. Fortunately, not all of her five children were eager to play in the mud. That would have meant a really big mop up.

I don’t care for the way the rain wets the steps I have to take to get the mail. I have what used to be considered a rural-type mail box. Now they’re used in neighborhoods and subdivisions in the suburbs. Mine is at the foot of my driveway, not far at all. Far enough, though, to be iffy when wet.IMG_1087

Not long ago I wouldn’t have given a second thought to a little rain on the steps or the sidewalk. That was before I took that life-changing fall in October, 2014. Now I find myself ever alert and checking out the big picture and the minute details a great deal more carefully. Are there wet leaves on the wet steps? Is there a rail I can hold? Am I wearing appropriate shoes? Is my phone in my hip pocket? And you get the picture.

The challenge, of course, is to live each day as normally as possible. I’ve never been a scaredy cat and I don’t intend to be one now. I still have some spontaneity in me but I’m more likely to access it on a fair weather day. That doesn’t mean I stay in on rainy days. It does mean I routinely do a quick mental scan about what I’m wearing, whether I have plenty of gas in my car, and how tired I am.

I’ve learned that I much more likely to make mistakes when I’m over tired. I also know that the statisticians predict that I am MUCH more likely to take another debilitating fall because I had the first one. My goal in life is to prove them wrong. The challenge is to disprove their theory by living my life as normally as possible without becoming obsessed with the possibility/likelihood of falling. I’m walking tall and straight with a firm step. I’m thinking positively. Always.

Whenever I think or write about rainy days, I start enumerating the many songs I know about rain and rainy days. If you’re in the mood, check out my Bob Dylan link to one of my favorite rain songs  www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6v5HrfeeV8

Pink porta potty–too much of a good thing?

There is a construction site in my neighborhood. I drive by it often.IMG_1053 It’s like most construction sites — three or four houses at different levels of completion. One, I believe, is already sold.

As builders go, these appear to be conscientious about keeping the surrounding area as free of debris as possible. I’m grateful for that as I imagine are the neighbors nearer the site than I.

There is one thing, however, that makes this site different from any other I’ve seen. There are two Pepto-Bismol pink porta johns. As you can see in the photo there’s a pink ribbon painted on the front.

I can’t say why, but each time I drive past these eyesores I feel a bit more disconcerted, maybe agitated, than the previous pass. In writing this post I’m not having a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve had months to contemplate the possible reasons a person might be compelled to promote breast cancer awareness via outdoor toilets.

For the personal/emotional reasons I have a fairly high degree of empathy and understanding. Those who have lost a friend, mother, sister, wife, husband, etc., to breast cancer feel helpless and want to do something to save others from suffering. I get that.

The organizations that promote breast cancer awareness (Susan G Komen and Planned Parenthood come to mind.) have done an admirable job of putting that little pink ribbon and its meaning in the minds of almost all Americans. I have some pink ribbon pins I wear during October, if I remember. October is breast cancer awareness month, of course. But the ubiquitous pink ribbon has made most of us aware during the other eleven months as well. That’s a good thing.

Maybe it’s the ubiquity that has caused my discomfort. I think perhaps it has a down side. Maybe it brings out the charlatans. I seldom go shopping anywhere for anything without seeing a pink ribbon decal and a message telling me that if I buy this item the company presenting it will give a portion of the proceeds to a charity promoting awareness. But do they really? How do I know that? Do I sound cynical? I suppose I do. But I prefer to pick my charities and check them out before donating.

I would appreciate your comments. Tell me how you feel. Kindly, please. I’m especially interested in hearing from people who have or have had breast cancer. Do you like the pink toilets? You may have guessed by now that I don’t.

The “dog days of summer” — an escape to the mountains.

The dog days of summer are finally starting to wane the slightest bit here in Charlotte.FullSizeRender-2 That is to say that our high temperatures are hitting around 90 F these days instead 98-100 F. Of course when the humidity is above 70 the days remain hot and sultry which is one definition of dog days. You’ve probably guessed that I don’t fare well in hot weather. It may be something about being a mountain woman.

Imagine my delight when my daughter and granddaughter invited me to go with them to Asheville, NC. I didn’t have to think about it so I set about packing my bag.

We left early on Saturday morning for the mountains.IMG_1033 It’s about a two-hour drive. We were there before lunch and began our shopping/eating frenzy in earnest. Here’s my granddaughter waiting patiently for lunch. We took this trip in her honor because she leaves for her first year at university this week.

How do I describe Asheville? It’s a small, diverse city with many good restaurants, especially if you like being able to eat vegetarian. And I do. While I’m not a vegetarian, I eat very little meat. For beer lovers there are a number of local mini-breweries. I must not forget the Biltmore Estate, and most important of all — the air is cooler up there.

For Saturday dinner my daughter had made a reservation at The Sunny Point Cafe. Before and after our meal IMG_1034we traipsed around the backyard garden behind the restaurant where they grow many of the vegetables and herbs used in their dishes. The menu is varied and there are yummy choices for the most discerning diner, vegetarian or not.

If you click the photo to the right you’ll see a welcome-to-our-garden sign. Upper right, that orange thing is one of several bouncy rides for the children. Perhaps those little bits of entertainment help to minimize destruction of the plants. Perhaps, too, they distract big feet like mine from squashing the plants. Yes, I rode it. Yes, my granddaughter took a picture of me.  No, I’m not going to publish it.

I enjoy taking pictures in vegetable and flower gardens. This is a yellow squash that my mom called patty-pan squash.IMG_1042 I have no idea why she called it that but I liked the name because it’s a form of my name. And sometimes people call me Patty, especially Spanish speakers. In Spanish it’s spelled Pati. Okay, in Spanish it sounds more like potty than Patty but I still like it. I think the diminutive sounds affectionate in both languages.

I was surprised at the number of plants being cultivated in a small space.IMG_1044 It’s a well-tended garden with prolifically producing plants. In addition to squash, we saw grape tomatoes,IMG_1050 heirloom tomatoes, zinnias, nasturtium, sunflowers, rosemary, and on and on.

As you can see here, even their Sunny Point sign looked as if it were growing good stuff.IMG_1049

After lunch on Sunday we make one last stroll through downtown. Granddaughter and I spotted these “southern yoga” t-shirts and had to have them. I love the color. Now I have something to wear on St. Patrick’s Day.

This trip was proof that spontaneous is sometimes the way to go.IMG_1055 We had fun spending time together — lots of laughs. No stress. Good food. Happy shopping. Cool temperatures. Does it get any better than that?

If you can’t stop my pain, you may as well just shoot me!

pills_variety_crop380wI try to be a pragmatic user of medications. I think we have them for a reason and the reason was all mine when I found myself in rehabilitation and unable to perform the most mundane tasks because of intense pain. Having said that, let me add that I thought I possessed a healthy but wary attitude toward all drugs, especially narcotics. I realize now that my perception of pain-killing opioids was informed by my family of origin which was rife with alcoholism and other drug addictions. My father died of complications from his years of drinking excessively. My brother died of an alcohol and drug overdose. Obviously my viewpoint was skewed.

Over the years of my adulthood I have learned to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, and I once took a Vicodin at the emergency room when I had what we believe was a gall bladder event. Triage sent me home with four tablets and told me perhaps I should take only a half since the whole tablet knocked me silly. I ended up throwing out 3 1/2 of them. That experience didn’t do a thing to quell my fear of drugs. In fact, quite the opposite.  Imagine going from that kind of trepidation about taking pain killers to begging for them back in October after my accident. That’s some serious pain.

I don’t remember exactly how long I lay in that hospital bed without any real help for my pain. I know that the therapists came to my room twice a day and laboriously tried to get me to a sitting position but the pain was agonizing and I couldn’t do it. I told them I needed to see a doctor so they sent one to see me. She said she understood I wanted/needed something for pain. I explained that I had to have something if I were going to be able to get up and get well. She left an order. I don’t know what it was but it helped about as much as an aspirin. Even one of my caregivers told me that was not what I needed; that it was not going to help my kind of pain. More time wasted while my muscles continued to atrophy.

Then I got a stroke of good luck. A staff member stopped by one day and asked me how I was doing. I told her I wasn’t making progress because of the pain. She informed me that there was a doctor on staff (I think fairly new there.) who knew all about pain management. She said, “You need to see him. He’s very good.”

I tried not to get my hopes too high but I asked my daytime nurse (CNA) to ask him to see me the next day. In fact I pleaded, “Don’t let him leave tomorrow until he’s seen me.” She promised she wouldn’t. (I have this mental image of her with a lasso around him, dragging him back down the hall. :) )

I don’t think she had to rope him but by golly he showed up and my rehabilitation took a one-eighty turn and I was on my way back. My relief was palpable.

I’ve thought a great deal about what Dr. H (H is for hero.) does that makes him an effective and outstanding doctor. I’ve recently been back at the facility for additional therapy and I saw him in the gym talking to a patient. She was in a wheelchair. He got down in a squat to look her in the face and talk to her. That’s when it all came flooding back to me. That’s what he does. And much more.

He came into my room, introduced himself, looked me in the eyes and we talked. He listened. What I said mattered. He showed no sign of being in a hurry. I was the only patient he had in that moment. This wasn’t one of those 3-5 minute visits. We talked until we said what we needed to communicate to each other. I understood him. He understood me. He made me a partner in my care. That matters a great deal to me. I monitored my medication about as carefully as he did. And guess what? I’m not addicted. That had been a big concern for me.

Dr. H is very young for one so perfectly attuned to his patients needs and concerns. I believe that medical personnel can be taught a great deal about compassion and patient care. But I don’t believe this doctor had to be taught that aspect of caring. He cares about people. He has a good heart. And it shines as he goes about his work. He’s very good indeed, and I’m enormously grateful.

Stop! and smell the flowers.

I feel fortunate to be able to walk around my neighborhood.photo-38 Five months ago I wasn’t sure I would stand again, let alone walk. I’ve put my Fitbit back on and am able to walk about 7,000 steps a day. Of course my goal is much higher but for now I feel almost like a walking miracle. We were fortunate this year to actually have spring weather on the first day of spring. As I walked I couldn’t resist snapping lots of lovely flowers.

This is a happy post. I almost have a spring in my step and Mother Nature definitely has one in hers.photo-35

There are lots of pansies that survived the winter and they start to seriously thrive in March. Later, the hot weather will take its toll. This is a basket on my front porch. My daughter gave it to me. She must have known this is my favorite pansy color.

One of the first signs of spring is the blooming of the Bradford pear tree. I have mixed feelings about this tree.photo-25photo-70 There’s no denying its lush loveliness after a long winter. Our neighborhood is rife with these flowering wonders which means the distasteful (to me) smell is everywhere and if I stay outside too long I’ll get a headache.

I noticed as I strolled that there were a number of dandelions in the lawns that are left to their own devices. Like mine.photo-73 The seriously manicured lawns won’t allow weeds to grow. Their green four-inch grass is so thick that neither the owners nor the grass would ever allow such a pariah to set up shop in their yards. Personally, I like the “dandies” in all their stages. I still love to blow the seeds so they will land where they may and grow more yellow beauties.photo-80

My yard isn’t really a lawn. It’s a random collection of grasses and weeds that give it a wonderful green patchwork effect. I have planted a spring green (chartreuse?) ground cover under my pear tree and as you can see here, it’s starting to creep into the grass to make its own statement. I realize that my neighbors probably don’t like my kind of lawn but I feel the same way about their “perfect” chemically treated ones.

I saw violets on my walk. Some people consider this plant a weed. photo-68I don’t. Nor do the owners of this little clump. See how carefully they placed the mulch around it? The violet was Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite flower. She had lovely violet wallpaper on the walls of her room at Campobello. I had the privilege of visiting there some years ago.

I think my favorite photo for the day is this whimsical winged pig flying through the pansy bed. I often use the expression, “When pigs fly!” photo-41It says so much with only three little words. If someone is so naïve as to ask me if I would ever marry again that is my answer. Would I consider going back in to the classroom and teaching? When pigs fly!  Would I ever buy another two-story house? When… You get the picture.

More photos from my yard. A white camellia. Yellow daffodils. A red camellia. photo-77photo-75 photo-76

A loss of innocence.

I grew up in the 50s. Some have called it a time of innocence. The war was over.photo-7 Our returning veterans were able to attend college or university on the GI Bill. Eisenhower was President. He played a lot of golf as I recall, and my dad criticized him for it. (Some things don’t change.) Families were buying homes with white picket fences. Well, maybe they didn’t all have fences. The point is those were the halcyon days.

Nineteen sixty ushered in a new decade fairly quietly but the calm was short-lived. I write this today in order to recall the day I realized for the first time that my safe, secure homeland wasn’t quite what I thought. On November 22, 1963, our young president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. My feelings about my country and the basic good in people were permanently altered. What kind of monster could be capable of shooting our energetic young leader? And why? Some questions have no answers.

Last week a man went to the apartment of three young Muslim students in Chapel Hill, NC, and fatally shot all three of them. Why? Some said it was a hate crime. Aren’t all murders hate crimes? Some said it was over a parking space. Really? The murderer was a self-avowed atheist. Did he hate all religions? Or only the Muslim faith? I’m guessing we will never know the answers to these questions either.

I’m relieved to report that he gave himself up the same day and has remained in custody since.

The night after the slaughter of these students, my granddaughter sent me a text. ” I can’t stop crying and wondering why and how a thing like this is allowed to happen. I don’t understand how this was allowed to happen in my home. It’s the worst thing I have ever experienced.” I tried to console her but I had no answers for her.

I can’t help remembering that I had the same questions all those years ago when our President was shot and killed. The frustration and sadness that H is experiencing in exactly what I dealt with at almost the same age she is. I was a sophomore student, one year older than H, and was attending university in my home town.

My granddaughter H was born and reared in Chapel Hill. She’s a freshman at the university there. It’s the oldest state university in the country. It’s small-town southern America with a great deal more diversity than most towns in the state. It’s the diversity that makes it a very special place.photo(20)


H’s parents have taught her to have a strong sense of justice and to do what is right. Not just for herself, but for those in her community–all of them. She has marched in the state capital for voter rights and other issues. Whenever she sees someone in need, she chooses to help if she can. Eventually this crime in her home town will strengthen her convictions. But first she has to mourn.