Distraction is the Birth Mother of Error

And so it came to pass that in my highly distracted state last evening, I brushed my teeth with Preparation-H.

I’ve been afraid that something like that might happen ever since a good friend told me that Preparation-H is the answer to those awful red bug bites that show up all over my body in mysterious ways.

Since I am the ideal bug magnet, a tube of PrepH must always be at the ready.  On the counter.  Available to salve the screamingly sore, itchy and bright red blotches that are the hallmark of red bug bites.

The problem is that other tubes are also on the counter.  A face blusher, some moisturizer, hair-gel, and, of course, tooth paste.  They co-mingle, so to speak.  I’ve been mindful of the possibility of error but, until last night, all was well.  Alas, my hyper-distraction sent me into a world of carelessness.

I knew that the minty freshness I so enjoy when I brush my teeth was not immediately apparent but the full appreciation of the errors of my ways did not show up until my lips went numb.  Numbness is one of the most highly appreciated elements of PrepH.   .

I will also tell you that PrepH has great staying power.  Long-lasting effects, if you will.  I’m a teensy bit better this morning but will make sure to be more respectful of distraction in the future.

With respectful and sorrowful recognition of yesterday’s horrific event in Pittsburgh: Shalom.

The Power of Pink

A friend ‘s nephew writes a blog and I want to share  a recent one with you.   This one knocked my socks off and not just because I get the breast cancer/pink thing.  It’s so much more than that.  

Chip Bristol is the author and he writes under “Brushstrokes.” You can find him at www.withoutacollar.com.   I hope you’ll find this essay as moving as I did.  Please take a look at some of his other writings, too. You’ll be glad you did.


By Chip Bristol

Things in this country are a mess. Regardless of how you see things, we can all agree that divisions abound, anger is everywhere, and people on all sides are acting like spoiled brats. After this week, I’ve had to watch less TV and look for other places for the spirit of a country I love.

Little did I know I’d find it on a cloudy morning, surrounded by hundreds of pink shirts. It was the annual Women’s Only 5K Run in honor of breast cancer research. Although I am comfortable with my feminine side and have my share of pink shirts, I could only stand as a spectator for this run, but my view gave me what my heart was longing for.

In a city that has its fair share of divisions, black women ran beside white. Strangers leaned in for selfies with those standing beside them. Members of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church ran with members of His Holiness Temple. A woman with a yarmulke cheered beside one wearing a hijab, and Republicans and Democrats held hands. It wasn’t a black or white event, a Christian or Jew. It wasn’t a red or blue event. It was pink.

The pink shirts came in all sizes, but there were two shades. The first, was for those who ran in support of someone they loved. The second was a darker shade, reserved for the survivors themselves. Runners nodded or reached out with reverence to touch the women with darker shirts. One runner had no hair, another had no breasts, one walked with a cane, and another rode in a wheelchair pushed by a friend, and yet each woman wearing the darker shade smiled with the joy that surrounded her on every side.

For a few hours, the world was a beautiful place, and, as I walked to my car, I watched a mother and young daughter walking ahead of me, each wearing a different shade of pink. Hand in hand, I could see strength being passed down, and offered back up. I could feel the power, and it was the mighty power of pink. May the world learn from, and find more of, this power.

Extra Credit:

Reach out to someone you know who’s been touched by breast cancer.

Do one thing this week to cross one of the countless divisions between you and another person.

They Want Me To Do What??????

According to a recent article on home design, ”they” want me to get rid of my dried flowers, unwanted gifts and broken objects.

“They” are the feng shui experts whom I have, for a long time now, respected for their advice on making our homes accessible and happy.  But now!  Now they are asking me to go against my grain.  Seriously against my grain.

They want me to throw out my dried flowers because “in their dried and decayed state they represent death and decline.”

They want me to throw out unwanted gifts because “they are affecting my peace and well-being.”

And, finally, I’m supposed to get rid of broken objects because they  “represent stagnant energy.”

Well, now.

If I may be so bold as to counter their suppositions, I will say that my dried hydrangeas don’t make me think of death and decline.  They remind me of the bushes out back which will be in full bloom in the not too distant future.  I call that “hope.”

If I had any unwanted gifts, and I don’t, I think they would always remind me of the good times I received them; of the friends who gave them to me.  I call that “happy.”

As to broken and chipped objects.  There are too many in this house to count and I wouldn’t get rid of a one.  Their flaws make them just that much more wonderful.  I call that “love.”

Well, now we have hope, happiness, and love.  That works for me and I think the house would agree.

So, go away, feng shu.  Come again another day.  Perhaps when you’ve thought things through a little more.


Image courtesy of speakingtree.in

Trips to the Vet

How can we begin to count the number of our “trips to the vet?”   Many, many  cats and several dogs during 56 years of animal-loving years together?    It’s an incalculable number.  And we dare not add up the dollars invested.  Or remember the pain of letting go of a beloved pet.

If we were smart, we’d never subject ourselves to that again.  Our right brains would tell us to: “Stop!  Enough already!”   But then, because it’s a lovely Sunday afternoon and we’ve nothing else to do, we amble over to the Humane Society   Just for a peek at the kitties.  No harm there.  Right?

Then we remember how much we dearly love the feel of fur under our fingers, the clean smell of a kitty, the purrs.  Oh, the purrs.  The cuddly, itty-bitty-ness of a kitten, who just happens to fit, so softly, in the palms of our hands.  We’ll take that one.  Where do we sign?  And, of course, we promise to love, honor and obey.

And it’s all worth it.  One of the really important reasons it’s worth it is that we get to take those trips to the vets.  They’re our ticket to ride.  In sickness and in health, the vet’s office is a good, safe place to be.  We meet the nicest people, admire other pets in the waiting room, receive support and care from the doctors and nurses and are grateful for their dedication.

Trips to the vet?   Wouldn’t miss ’em for the world.

On Styling Bookcases

A well-known design firm on the Island recently offered a workshop on tips and tricks for styling your bookcases.  I came close to signing up because those designers are good.  But I didn’t.

I guess it’s my age and my up-bringing but I still think bookcases should hold books.  Period.  Books jammed in upside-down, sideways, joyfully mis-arranged and, most importantly, having been read.  Every last one of them.  At least once.

So when I walk by ours….and I do that often since one entire wall of our living room is a bookcase….I stop and remember all the good times we had together.  The places we went; the people we met; the things we saw.

There isn’t room for anything pretty on those shelves.  And if I put something pretty in there, a book would have to be sacrificed and I’m not going there.

I still think that “styled bookcases” is an oxymoron.  I have, however, been noticing that most bookcases these days are indeed artistically and decoratively styled.  They hold pictures, and vases and, well, stylish things.

According to the blurb in our paper, the book-styling class was going to tell me that “bookshelves are regarded as vehicles for collections, treasured items and keepsakes.”

I already knew that, as it turns out, because that’s exactly how I feel about all our hundreds of books, carelessly stacked in their very own bookcases.  Stylish, or not.

Innocence Lost

It was 40 years ago.  Or maybe more.  I’m not good with timelines.  I was old enough to know better.  And, more to the point, old enough to have acted when it was important to have done so.  But I was too ashamed.

Sound familiar?  It should. It’s frequently the way women feel and respond when they’ve experienced an unwelcome and unwanted “situation.”

Mine was at a small shopping center not far from our house.  A safe place.   A family place.  Never any concerns about being there alone.  Especially at 10:00 in the morning.

On that morning, long ago, I ran my errand, got back in my little red car, started it up and was surprised by a tap on my window.  A nice looking young man told me he’d seen  a spark come out of my tail pipe when I started the car.  He said he could double check it if I would just put one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake and he would take a look at the tailpipe.  He wanted my feet in a certain position to get a good assessment.  And he put his head down on the floor of the car to make sure I was doing it right.  Got the picture?

He wasn’t there to help me with the car.  He was there to look up my skirt.  And I helped him do just that.

Yep, I opened the door for him.  In more ways than one.  This was broad daylight, remember?   No reason to say no to a kind offer of assistance.  I didn’t want to have car trouble on the way home, now did I?

It took me too long to realize what was going on.  It wasn’t a sexual assault.  It was voyeurism. But a personal violation, nevertheless.

I can tell you exactly where I parked that morning.  I can tell you that I was too embarrassed to tell the Mister for years.  And I can tell you that I was too ashamed to call the cops and tell them that a creepy weirdo was doing his thing in our sweet little shopping center.  And that I had fallen for it.  Who needs to get involved in all that?  Not me, thank you very much.

Someone did, though.  Call the cops, that is.  I read about it in the newspaper. Good for her.  I applauded her actions. But still I said nothing to anybody about my own experience with him.

You should feel free to call me naïve, stupid, fearful, vain.  You don’t have to do that, though.  I’ve already done it.  Lots of times.

I may not be brilliant but I was way too smart to have acted as I did.  Or not-acted, as the case may be.

I’m not sure we’ve come much further.  We may not yet be at the point where the benefits of speaking up outweigh the (potentially) negative consequences of doing so.  When might we get to that place?   Good question.  No good answers.

Where in the world is Jim Cantori?

It’s Thursday, September 13th, 2018 and I really, really want to know where he is.  And this is not just idle curiosity.

If you’ve been following Hurricane Florence, and we have, you want to know where Jim Cantori of The Weather Channel is.

Jim goes into the stormiest, coldest, iciest, blowiest, harshest weather imaginable.  All for ratings, of course.  But, he’s a good guide.  He tells us where he is so we know where not to be.

Not very long ago, at the beginning of this hurricane cycle, he was spotted on the South Carolina coastline.  We heaved a sigh of relief when they sent him up to North Carolina.  We took deep breaths and cancelled the plywood.  We stopped obsessing about tins of tuna fish and canned soups, jars of Cheese Whiz and peanut butter, rolls of toilet paper.  We allowed the gas tank to slip (minimally) below full. We were still concerned about the vodka and wine levels.  But, in general, life was a wee bit less stressed.


Apparently, Jim’s in Wrightsville Beach.  And, thank goodness, we aren’t.  But….and this is a big but… one of our sons has a house just up the road from that beach and it is clearly in harm’s way.  It’s a strong house, newly roofed, but Florence is big and bad.  We’ll know more as Jim reports on the hurricane and in the meantime, we’re holding on tight.

Not just for that house but for all the many, many people and places in her destructive path.

Sunday, September 16.   All appears good here now.  And for our son’s house, as well.  Not so much in other places but it could have been far worse.  Jim can go home now, dry out, rest up and get ready for the next one.  The onr thing we know for sure about hurricanes is that we know very little.  But, Jim, we’ll still be watching.  Stay safe.  We’re counting on you.

Musings from a Waiting Room


Dear Healthy (at least for the moment) Person:

When you walk into the oncologist’s office for your yearly strong-bones shot….which has nothing to do with cancer….please don’t flaunt your good health.  It’s not that the others in the room aren’t happy for you.  We are.  And we wish you continued good health.  But still.

As we listen to all the details of the tennis game you’re setting up for the next day, are we just a tad envious?   Maybe.

Do we wish we were going to the surprise party you’re giving later that evening which is just going to be so,so fabulous?  Maybe.  But, we’re not invited and even if we were, we might not feel up to the task, depending on how things go.

Do we wish you would cover your cough?  Yes, we wish you would because some of us have slightly compromised immune systems and the last thing we need is a cold.

Do we wish you would put your phone down and quit with the loud talking already?  Yes, we wish you would.

I know life doesn’t stop for you when you’re there.  It’s a mere dot on your day, but for some of us, it may feel like life, as we’ve known it, could come to a sudden, screeching, scary halt.  Even if we’re there just for a regular check-up.  Like me.

There’s an old adage.  “Know your audience.”  So please, busy, vibrant, this-is-only-a-little-shot and will-have-no-effect-on my-obviously-healthy-life person, please, please “know your room.”

And, please, take those ever-so-important-phone calls after you’ve left the room.


Image courtesy of Fotosearch.com

Unintended Consequences

Oh, dear.  I’ve done a bad thing.  I’ve inadvertently caused the Mister to be hit, big-time, by those porno-spam people.  Up to 250 emails a day, no less!  Who knew an innocent little on-line purchase could incite so many vile messages?

Well, now I know exactly how that happens and I’m here to tell you so you won’t have to find out the hard way. But you probably wouldn’t be in this mess, unless you, too, have short, spiky hair that can go limp at a moment’s notice.

See, this is all about product.  Hair product.  Who doesn’t love product?   I’ve tried lots of product but the lovely person who cuts my hair recently introduced me to something new.   It was love at first sight and I wanted some asap.  Enter the Mister’s Amazon Prime account.

The name of the company that makes the product is Bed Head which seems strange since that’s the very thing it’s supposed to fix.  I should have realized I was in dangerous territory at that very moment.  But vanity led me further down the path.

I carefully perused their product line and decided to treat myself to an assortment of gels, pastes and sprays.  It’s all about free next-day delivery whether it’s one bottle or six, right?  So, I ordered the following:  The Manipulator, Hard-to-Get, Control-Freak, Sleepover, Head Rush and Hard Hold.

The next day the Mister announced the arrival of the unwanted spam.

The situation is improving but I still feel bad.  Not too bad though.  I like the products a lot.  But next time I think I’ll just go to CVS and ask for a brown paper bag.



What’s wrong with this picture?

Please click on the picture for a full image


Where, oh where, to start?

The obvious, for a non-techie person like me, would be the fact that every one’s face is buried in their electronics.  Each in his or her own world.  No sharing, no laughter, no community.

Then there’s that white-upholstery/young children thing. That’s just wrong.  All by itself.

Where are the skinned knees and dirty hands?  The grimy shorts and t-shirts?  The melted M&M’s?  The evidence of happy outdoors play-time?

Where are the family animals?  The wet dog, the shedding cat?

Where are the sticky fingers and leftover cookie crumbs from a family dinner?

According to the ad, the most important thing this family shares is 1 Gigabyte service so they can all be on their devices at the same time.

Which brings me back to the question.   What’s wrong with this picture?




“All in touch” picture courtesy of Hargray Communications


Your Cub Reporter, Hot on the Trail of a Big Story

Please click on the picture for a full image


Following some recent and rather dire headlines regarding the Build-a-Bear stores, I quickly made my way to our local franchise.  I wanted to see, first hand, just exactly what went wrong.

Apparently, the stores had offered to sell ready-to-stuff teddy bears for the same price as your age.  Thus, if you are two years old, you get a bear for two dollars.  And so on.  But as plans are so often wont to do, these went seriously awry.

In the middle of the crazy-wild bear-extravaganza, the stores ran out of stuffing.  As a result, many, many hysterical mothers and children were sent away bare-handed.

Only a slightly warped sense of humor would find this even remotely funny.  But, I regret to say, I did indeed laugh when I read about it.  If you’re gonna have a big sale on ready-to-stuff bears, you stock up on extra stuffing.  Right? Or at least I’d think you would.

I’m the first to say that I wasn’t in line, for hours, accompanied by over-excited children, in the nearly unbearable heat.  But then again, why would I have been?  The thought of spending my age on a teddy bear was certainly not on my bucket list.

But, after my on-site research, I’ve decided that the Build-a-Bear people have a good  thing going.  You can’t build your own bear if you’re looking at your phone, tweeting, or otherwise involved.  The Bear thing is a family thing.  You’re taking a pause from a crazy life, making something to give, share or keep that you created with your very own hands.  How nice is that?

With that said, I hope the Build-a-Bear get their stuff back together real soon and will remember that timeless motto brought to us by the Boy Scouts: “Be Prepared.”



It’s my blog

and I said at the beginning that it would be about nothing.  But that “nothing” is as I see it. Through my own personal lens.  Otherwise, this would be someone else’s blog.  And it’s not. It’s mine.

When cancer came my way a couple of years ago,I noted it in the blog. Not because I was going to write a cancer blog but because it  was a new lens for me to look through.   That’s inevitable when something so powerful comes your way.  It changes the way you look at things.   Whether you want it to or not.

I’m also sure I said, somewhere along that line, that this would not be about politics.  And it still isn’t. But the current political situation is bigger than I ever imagined and has added a new lens for me to look through.  It’s that powerful. Just like cancer.

Early on, after the last election, I said I hoped that we could reason with each other about our political positions and reasons for voting as we did.  Apparently, that was way too soon and way too naive.  Sadly, I think it’s still too soon and too naive.  Maybe it’s a never-gonna-happen-kinda thing.

But since it’s my blog, and no one else’s, I can say unequivocally that I am experiencing a divide that I never, ever imagined i would experience.  It’s uncomfortable, possibly irrevocable and incredibly saddening.

There. I’ve said it.  And since it is indeed my blog and no one else’s, I’m free to paraphrase Lesley Gore and add:  “It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.”


crevice image thanks to istockphoto.com


Book Clubs

Everyone belongs to one or more.  It’s just what you do.

But, alas, I am, personally, book-club-less at the moment.  By choice.  Or at least I think so.  No one’s told me otherwise.

Recently I’ve had a bit of a day-dream about the book club I would like to belong to.  The idea was sparked by a book loaned to me by a friend.  I enjoyed it, it held my interest and introduced me to a new author.

But the things I liked best about it were the under-linings and margin scribbles made by the book’s owner.

I wanted to know more about why she liked those words, those phrases, those sentences.  What about those particular passages piqued her interest?  Caused her to stop, pick up a pen, underline them and make notations?

I’ve always enjoyed the reader’s notes and scribbles in the used books I’ve bought.  Now I’d like to bring that closer to home.  In my own living room, to be precise.

And in the book club I’d like to belong to.


Image of book enjoyment thanks to the University of Minnesota, Morris


Alert!  This is not a Sunday jolly.  Sometimes, it just doesn’t  work out like that.  So, read on at your own peril.  It’s an observation; just not a happy one.  And it may not be a new one at that.

Yes.  There was another school shooting not so long ago in Santa Fe, Texas.  We all know that.

Many of us have become so inured to the reality of violence that we knew it would happen again.  And we also know that it will most certainly happen yet again.  We’ve been around long enough to understand, sadly, that it’s not over.

But what really threw me at that time and has stuck with me since was the realization that young people are starting to share and accept that regrettable perspective of inevitability.

Amid the anticipated expressions of shock and despair from the Texas horror came a voice from one student.  She said, simply and quietly: “I wasn’t surprised.”

We aren’t only taking lives.  We’re taking innocence, promise and hope.  All of it way, way, way too soon.




Image from “The Loss of Innocence” by Hoppymon Jacob

When is a grocery store more than a grocery store?

When it’s “a way of life.”

That was the description we gave to Dorothy Lane Market, our grocery store in Oakwood, Ohio.

Dorothy Lane Market started as a fruit stand and grew into an elegant, state of the art, innovative grocery store through the years.  But it never lost its sense of community, people, or friendliness.  It’s heart and soul.  Sure, you shopped there for groceries but it was the extra-curricular activities that made it a happy experience.

Tasting stations were everywhere.  The long aisles had cut-throughs so there were more places to stop and visit with friends.  Sips of wine were frequently available. You’d dare not enter those doors without lipstick.  You knew you’d see friends.  Lots of friends.   All of that made it THE place to shop.

In the years we’ve lived in South Carolina, I’ve not had that experience in a single grocery store. Not even close. It’s always been all about the list.  Get in. Get out. Get home.

Until yesterday.

I literally ran into a friend in the produce section and we began a conversation that went on throughout our shopping.   We shared grandchildren stories in the condiment aisle, retirement thoughts at the deli counter, husband’s hobbies in the freezer section.  Oh, and that little chat we had at the check out-lane? That stays at the check-out lane

All in all, it was a great day at the grocery store.  Not to be corny but I came home with a lot more sustenance than a week’s worth of food could ever provide.  It brought back ever-so-fond memories of a little corner store in Oakwood, Ohio.  Where all that was the norm; not the exception.