The Foot

Most likely, if you’ve had any contact with me over the last five years, you know about The Foot. It has a neurological disorder which is more of an annoyance than anything but sometimes it has enough pain to go past annoyance. All attempts in the south of finding an answer have failed so I decided to go to the BIG centers of competence where, supposedly, they could come up with a solution.

We wrote and within a day or two I got a phone call from one of them. The call was from the pain doctor’s assistant and she said she felt sure they could help me. Wow! This is good.

I said I’d send them my stuff…..all the data, etc. and then the doctor and I could have a phone conversation, or even Skype if he wanted to see what the foot likes to do and shouldn’t. She said that wouldn’t work. Why not, I said. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they wanted me to be an in-patient. In what particular area would I be admitted, I asked. Well, you’d be in the Psychiatric and Geriatric Locked Ward for a month and then (if all goes well) into a halfway house for another month with a roommate where I could cook my own meals. (This has quickly gone from bad to worse.)

Nearly (and understandably) speechless, I slithered to the floor and, for some unfathomable reason, told her I could walk upstairs all by myself. I think that remark, irrelevant and having to do with absolutely nothing, confirmed her thinking that I was definitely in need of Psychiatric assistance. The Geriatric part goes without saying. Locked and Ward were still troubling words.

We chatted a bit. No clothes would be needed; they supply those. No cell phones allowed; there’s one public phone so she suggested I bring a couple of rolls of quarters and be prepared to stand in line when I chose to make a call. All drugs that I take now (one) would be confiscated. How about visitors….like my husband?   Did I not understand the “locked” part of this? No innie/no outie. Can you spell ankle-bracelets that set off alarms??

She asked if I had any questions. I said indeed I did. Just one. A simple yes/no question.   I was pretty sure I knew the answer but I asked anyway: “Do you have a wine list I can look at?”

I don’t recall her exact response.   The foot still hurts occasionally but wine helps, as it always has. If scientists all agree….and they absolutely do… that alcohol IS a solution, you’d think those pain people would get with the program, wouldn’t you?


PS – Thanks and kudos to Susan Mrosek of for this week’s graphic!


The camellia is a lovely flower, perhaps one of the most beautiful and appealing, coming in a number of varieties to satisfy the most distinguished of…..

 Ahem….Excuse us…

 Yes, who are you?

 We are the poets and the writers who have, through the years , written…most likely more eloquently than you….. about flowers and gardening and, in particular, the camellia.

Whoa…that’s a little egotistical. Besides this is my blog. Not yours. So it’s really all about me. Are you telling me there’s no more room in this world for words about the beautiful camellia?

 No, we’re just suggesting that you might want to find a topic that has not been saturated by the real bards and writers.

What happened to freedom of speech?

 Hey, you’re free to say anything you want ….we just don’t want you to embarrass yourself.

I’ll be the judge of that, I daresay, and anyway, I was just getting warmed up and you have no idea where I was headed with this.

We see and we understand. Do you know where you were headed?

Well, now that you ask, perhaps I’m not entirely sure.

Can we be of any help?

Well, as far as I can tell right now, you’re being anything but helpful. You could be encouraging and supportive for starters.   Most likely no one can compete with you so you needn’t worry.

 You have that right. Ok…we’ll try to help. What can we do?

 I suppose letting me use some of your poetry and prose and allowing me to claim it as my own is out of the question.

 That’s called plagiarism and if we’re going to help you, we need to keep you out of jail.

 Good point. Moving right along…. Do you have any words about the camellia that you didn’t use but might be willing to share?

 If you do that, you’re not using your own talent, (questionable here, anyway) so, no, we can’t help you that way.

 You could edit my stuff.

 We could but as far as we can tell, you haven’t written anything.

 Again, point well taken but I’m feeling a little discouraged.

 We’re sorry about that. Don’t be. Just write down what you feel and see where it goes. We’ll help.

 Ok. Well, in that case, I would just like to say that I feel blessed and so fortunate to have bushes and trees in our very own yard which are on fire with camellias during the blooming season.

I love to bring them in the house.

They add beauty, life and color to the simplest of vases.

They make me happy when I look at them.

And the cats don’t even seem inclined to eat them.

How’s that, huh? Pretty good, huh?


 Are you there???? Was that so terrible that you can’t even speak to me?????

 We’re here but we’re fading fast. That was very nice and heartfelt…even the part about the cats which would not have occurred to us but as you said, it’s all about you.

Finally, we agree on something. Talk to you guys later…




Everything Old Is………

New again. Really!

At Christmas dinner, I asked my teenage granddaughter what her favorite Christmas gift was and she said it was a record player. I assumed that she was taking into account my age, my ignorance about electronics and was, thoughtfully, sparing me the details of some fancy music-making thingie. Record player indeed. I knew better. I knew it was something the size of a quarter, with somewhere between five and seven tiny buttons (not visible to people over 40), each of which would have to be pushed in some obscure sequence or nothing would happen.

So I asked again. And again she said it was a record player.

Her father was at the other end of the table so I called down to him. He said she indeed got a record player and that she has two records, one of which has a scratch and skips!

It WAS a record. What else has scratches and skips? She really got a RECORD PLAYER! One that has a spindle that turns and has an arm and a needle.

It has an on/off switch, an up/down volume knob and a cord that goes into a regular electrical outlet. You can even get replacement needles! No charging required and you don’t have to struggle to remember where you put it. Or when….or why.

Now I come to find out that all the hot new musicians are putting their songs on vinyl. Who knew? Maybe you did but I didn’t. I’m pretty excited. If we want music in this house, we have to go through several computer programs, housed in different rooms and I have no idea how to make any of it go. Happily, my husband does.

But knobs I can do! Now we just have to hope that Ella, Duke, Frank and Johnny….even though they are deceased….will get with the program.

Wait! I already have all those people on vinyl. Ooops. Of course I gave them all away years ago.   I foresee a spending spree and a little walk down memory lane. Dance party, anyone?


Screened doors/ Back doors

The very words imply family, good friends, easy and trusted relationships, entry into the heart of the house. Why do we always lock the front door and leave the back door wide open? Do we really think that a serious burglar isn’t going to check out the back? That our neighbors will always be there to call 911? That the hiss of the scared-to-death cat will deter criminal activity?

Once was the time when every house had screened doors….all before air conditioning, of course. They were opened to get a breath of fresh air…usually after dusk. In would come the smells of flowers, the chatter of neighbors enjoying themselves outside, children playing and begging not to go to bed….just not quite yet.

I imagine that this old house has seen its fair share of lovely ladies and handsome men coming in those screened doors. It’s clear they’re on their way to a garden party on the lawn. The ladies are in their summer finery, floral dresses, white pumps, a sun hat to protect their delicate skin and even a few in white gloves,

The men are in their seersucker suits, bow ties and brightly polished white buck shoes. Perhaps one or two have cigars tucked in their pockets.

Awaiting them are ice cold gin and tonics and comfortable wicker chairs. Later there will be trays of chilled cucumber and watercress sandwiches, a crystal bowl of black olives and crisp celery sticks and straight-from the-oven flaky ham biscuits. It’s dusk and the men wander down to the river to have their own conversations.

The women have plenty to say among themselves.   We can only imagine the things that are said with a promise not to repeat. But we know they will be repeated.

Isn’t it all so very grown up? If you look closely, you can almost see Zelda and F. Scott, himself.

Well, of course, things change.   All things considered, I think it’s better today than the olden days of formality, don’t you? Life may be a bit more scrambled and demanding than it was then but if we take the time to listen to the sweet slap of the screen door or the gentle knock on the back door and know that a friend is coming in to visit, drop off a book, share a problem or just say hello….isn’t that better?


Christmas and Love

Christmas is love so, appropriately, here’s a little love story.

They met in Georgia 60 years ago….well, they really didn’t meet…no one introduced them. They just happened to be at the same place at the same time.

She thought she was this little sophisticated 15 year old, on the prowl for the preppy boys. Lounging by the pool was as strenuous as it was going to get.

He was a year younger and wore hefty-sized orange fluorescent trunks. Entrepreneurial even then, he made hamburger patties for the snackshop in exchange for chocolate milk shakes and blew up rafts so he could use one for free in the afternoon.

Their planets were not destined to coincide at that time. Shall we count the ways?

They met again 7 years later… …same place. This time they were introduced by a mutual friend.

He had come back down to Georgia with a friend for spring vacation; her parents had decided she needed to get away from it all for a few days.

She was finishing her senior thesis on Bach’s Ornamentation. (So terribly serious and more than a little boring.)

He was looking for fun and a good time..…on the prowl for the cute girls. (So very “what me worry.”)

She went to her room with her parents. He called on the house phone and asked if she wanted to run into town for anything. She said it would be very helpful indeed if he would take her to a drug store for a little Bain de Soleil. (Hey, even if you’re planning to work all week, a girl’s gotta get a tan, right?)

They drove over the little bridge from the island to the mainland and that was that.

Together, they wish you the blessings of the season, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Christmas Spirit

The year was 1961. I was working in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music as a receptionist. It was, in all respects, a wonderful year. I was in love (still am) and was surrounded by talented, generous and joyful people.

But Christmas was always hard for me. What to give to my parents? My father never wore anything but a suit, had enough ties to last several life times, bought his own socks and had no hobbies. My mother was choosy about the things she wore and the things she had in the house. I always had great angst about what to give them. That year I found a little Japanese porcelain dish which I hoped they would like, but it cost more than my small salary could comfortably bear. Still, I bought it. There wasn’t any joy in the purchase, however. I was worried and poorer…not a good combination.

The Conservatory was, back then, in a less than desirable part of town. It was surrounded by poverty level housing and people. There was a drug store right across the street that I visited on my lunch hour to pick up necessary items.

One day, near Christmas, I was at the drug store, mindlessly purchasing some stuff, not giving it any thought as I stood in line to pay for my items. An older woman was in front of me. She wasn’t dressed warmly enough for the cold Boston December day. It did strike me that she most likely didn’t have a warmer coat, but the thought was fleeting.

And then something happened that I will never forget. As my arms were carelessly full of stuff, I realized she was buying a single box of tissues. And I heard her say to the clerk: “This is for my friend for Christmas. She’ll really like it.”

I find myself as speechless now as I did then. And still a little close to tears. It was a hard reality. She was delighted with her choice of a gift for her friend, confident that it would be given, received and used with love and affection.

And I was worried about an expensive porcelain dish for my parents who needed nothing and would most likely put the dish in a drawer anyway? Not a Christmas goes by that I don’t think about that moment.

Sometimes, I wish our family could just exchange boxes of tissues, carefully choosing one that might appeal…they come in such jazzy colors and designs these days. Wouldn’t that be fun? We could wrap them up fancifully with pretty paper and ribbons, confident they would be used and appreciated.

Now, I know we can’t….and would never want to…deny our families the joy of Christmas morning and presents under the tree. Santa Claus does exist.

But, for me, perhaps, a box of tissues has become a symbol of friendship and love, of a longed-for simple Christmas season, of joy, of an opportunity to share with others less fortunate, and, of course, in its own way, the true meaning of Christmas.


Insanity Rules

About this time last year, I get a call from my neighbor. She has a fairy outfit. I’ve seen it. It’s quite elaborate if not breathtaking. She’s eager to wear it on Christmas Eve at the shopping mall. She would distribute peppermint candy canes and bring joy and light to all of those doing their desperate last minute shopping. What did I think of that idea? My chair was close to the ground so I didn’t hurt myself when I fell.

Now, she’s nothing if not persistent. A little while later, she calls back. As it turns out she also has an elf outfit. How about if I wear that and go with her to the mall in her fairy outfit on Christmas Eve and pass out peppermint candy canes? I ask if we’ve met and do I really look like that kind of person? She agrees that I’m an unlikely candidate. She hangs up, dejectedly, I can tell.

A few moments pass. I ask myself: just exactly how many more opportunities do you think you have to make a complete fool of yourself, as an elf, accompanying a fairy, on Christmas Eve at the shopping mall?  Passing our peppermint sticks and subjecting yourself to ridicule if not danger from crazed shoppers?

As it turns out the elf suit fit like a dream.

If I could have that much fun, that easily, that simply, again….just for a minute, well, I’d be there in a heartbeat. My advice to you…unsolicited of course….is go for it. Dress outside the box, take peppermint sticks and see what happens. You’ll have fun, too.

Thanksgiving 2014….more of a little letter than anything else.

Dear Friends:

Well, the weather, Ferguson and a snuffly cold put a real wet blanket on our Thanksgiving plans this year. Thus our feet remained firmly planted at home with the cats. It was tempting to hike up the air conditioning, put a fire in the fireplace, and pretend we were cuddled up with family in St. Louis as we had planned. Better safe than sorry but making the decision not to go was a difficult one.

Later in the day, and just for the heck of it, we checked on the flights we were to have taken and discovered that our 11:30 am flight out of Savannah had been “detained” until 4:30 pm. Five hours late!

Don’t you just love airline language! Detained, indeed! They knew full well that the people on that flight had just been sent directly into airport purgatory. Someone was looking out for us. I think we may have been lost in space forever.

The St. Louis group had a lovely day in spite of our absence. One of their ovens went down, our son spent two and half hours in the urgent care, there was a fire somewhere in the house and for some as yet unknown reason the police came to the door. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary for them. They handle stress well.

We were fortunate to be able to spend Thanksgiving with our family here. I know they were less than thrilled to have me bring THE green bean/mushroom soup casserole but, really, can you do Thanksgiving without it? The answer, of course, is yes but I was feeling a nicely traditional. Did you know it was orginated by Campbell’s soup in 1955. A conversation starter if ever there was one. Anyway, whatever you say about it, I think it’s yummy.

Our family in Maryland was nicely tucked in with their boys home for Thanksgiving break. Our son’s Achilles heel is on the mend. He can actually walk after months of hobbling on crutches. A great step forward….no pun intended.

So while there is much to be thankful for, we would be remiss in not mentioning a great loss to a community we know well. Warren was a good and generous man, one my husband always spoke of with respect and honor. We have his family in our thoughts and prayers.

This was not the message I had planned for today. I had a silly one all lined up. It can wait. Life got in the way and expressing thoughtfulness, gratitude and appreciation seemed to be more important. I know the big turkey day is over but the feelings remain and from my little space it seemed important to recognize them.

Fondly, Sallie


Ode to the radish



Especially at this time of Thanksgiving, I have the great pleasure of being part of a small team who work on Monday mornings to receive food from that most generous of organizations, Second Helpings. We clean, organize and bag food for the needy people of Bluffton and its surroundings. When that truck arrives, it’s like Christmas….we never know what we’ll get, how much, what condition it will be in but we’re ready for anything.


The Ladies are pretty much in charge of the fruits and vegetables. We know what to do and how to do it. For some unknown reason, the radish has become my specialty! After six months of doing this, I find myself in awe of those little red vegetables.

They can end up on the bottom of 30 pounds of heavy produce and still survive!


Pity the poor kiwi, with its hairy, ugly skin… crushes under the least bit of pressure. The apples and oranges make it through pretty well but we’d expect them to…..they have some staying power. Pears are so gentle; we usually lose most of them. Lettuces can be tricky as can the tomatoes.


But the radishes! Oh sure, they need their messy greens cut off but then with a good washing, they’re perky again, bright red and fresh as daisies. I’ve never had to say good bye to a single one. And I never want to. I admire their stability, their sturdiness, their determination to survive. If only they could give lessons to some of their more vulnerable kin.


But, alas, they are unique. I love getting my hands around them on Monday mornings, watching them recover from a hard trip and enjoying their revival. If only I could inherit just a tiny bit of their strength. Maybe, if I’m lucky and keep at it, a little will seep, like osmosis, through my fingers.

Thanksgiving 2013



We had barely been in the old house three months and were excited to learn that we would have two of the three families with us for Thanksgiving. And I was going to out-Norman Norman Rockwell, if it killed me.


I imagined the family lazily coming downstairs in the mornings, with their coffees, gathering in front of a fireplace, rejoicing in being together, catching up, laughing, getting a little caffeine buzz. In reality, our son had conferences calls each morning, our daughter-in-law had a little cold and we encouraged her to sleep in, and the teenagers emerged somewhere around noon, their language indistinguishable from guttural noises. Okay, so we failed Norman 101.


Now it was on to kayaking down the May River for the kids during the day, I thought. Oh, I could just hear their tales of competition, who got the wettest, how much fun it was. For the adults, a slow amble downtown, enjoying the art galleries, little shops, wine bars. I think the wine bars made the list but not much else.


Somehow we made it to Thanksgiving dinner. The table was stretched to its fullest, chairs scrunched around, the fireplace ablaze. A beautiful turkey, cooked to a golden brown, food brought by family members, everyone looking spiffy. A heart-felt blessing was said. A little wine hit for the adults, the candles lit, linen napkins… was oh, so terribly Norman. And then the teenagers started texting.   No, No. No. Not in my plan or at my table. What to do? I know those looks when you tell them to stop. They glare, obviously unhappy and certainly not willing to join the party. It was going to get ugly. Help me, Norman. Oh, that’s right….you never had to deal with texting. I’m on my own here.


We have a box of “dinner-party questions.” I ran to get them, quickly sorted out family appropriate cards and delivered two to each person at the table. This was either going to be a complete disaster or it was going to work. At the very first question, my middle son managed to seriously (and I think on purpose) offend both his mother and his wife. She and I looked at each other, locked arms and left the room, vowing never to return. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the phones go down and the lips turn up. What could be better than a family fight right in front of their very eyes? They were hooked. Couldn’t get enough. They were also fascinated by answers to the questions…..we all learned something about each other. The cards were a blessing.


The teenagers cleared the table, served dessert and…hold onto your hat, Norman….asked to play Catch Phrase after dinner!   Happy times can’t be prescribed, I guess. They have to evolve. We got lucky. So, Norman, I still love the memories you evoke in your paintings. That Thanksgiving, we made our own.

Confessions of an Orchid Killer

There’s nothing premeditated about it. Nothing intentional. I don’t have it in for orchids. I don’t deprive them of their ice cubes. Not a single orchid has ever done anything so bad to me that I felt a need to exact revenge on it. They simply die on me. I am the Bates Motel for orchids.

I go to homes where they thrive. How, I ask. Simple, their owners say. They just need good light, two or three ice cubes a week and they bloom like crazy. Not for me they don’t. A friend asked me to tend to hers for a week. I told her of my history. She said the orchid was happy, had been alive for quite some time and there wasn’t anything bad I could do to it. Well, she was wrong. One week after I gave it back to her it died. See, I said. See what happens. I told you so. I felt terrible about that but she was forewarned.

Another friend has a houseful of them. All colors, blooming constantly, graciously and beautifully. Again, I asked, how do you do it? I’ve been trying for years only to experience failure again and again. She said I’d been buying the wrong kind. Now we’re getting somewhere. I got out my pen and paper because I know the names are complicated and I wanted to get it right. She said she thought I could remember the name, that it was quite simple and fool proof. Hah, I said….I’ll just bet. She was right. One word solved all the problems. Silk.



Chickens and eggs

I must ask your forgiveness for the following. I just can’t help myself. I’ve tried but to no avail. This is going to be ineggscusably corny and potentially painful.

Our delightfully eggcentric neighbors have just built a chicken coop. First , let me say that I am eggcited to think about eating a warm egg. Now, a friend of mine says he’s never eaten anything BUT a warm egg. How can that be, I asked. You don’t have a chicken coop. He simply said that by the time he’d cooked his egg, it was warm. (Collective groan, here, please.)

Anyway, I am looking forward to this eggceptional addition to the neighborhood. The coop is positioned in an eggstremely secluded part of their yard so the chicks won’t be a problem. (Pity the poor rooster.   Does he know his role in this process is noneggsistent? All that crowing about nothing.)

I gather there will be an eggstended gathering of chickens, names to be determined upon their arrival. They are coming from an eggslempary source so the eggs will be something for us to eggsclaim about, of that I am eggceedingly certain.

I don’t know eggsactly when they are due to arrive but their eggsistance and subsequent production will, no doubt eggceed our fondest hopes and eggspectations. If all goes well, perhaps the tribe will be eggspanded. Who knows?

Now at this point, I am assuming that you wish that I would eggspire, become eggstinct or just plain go away. So I shall. Do you know how many pages there are in the dictionary devoted to words starting with “ex” that offer the opportunity for this to go on and on? I think that I deserve an eggshortation for my self-control (eggsclamation mark here, please.)


P.S. You really didn’t think I was going to go away quite that easily, did you? This has, after all, been an eggsistential egggsperience so eggspediting my eggsit has been a little eggcrutiating….no doubt for all of us.

Treats… tricks.



We’ve felt since the beginning of our time in this house that there were spirits here. We’ve not known who they were, what they had in mind for us or, just in general, why they were here. They are welcoming spirits….of that I am sure. I think they know why we are here and they appreciate it. Even spirits like to be warm in the winter and I like it that way too, so we get along pretty well.


We have a piece of art in the kitchen which is new since we’ve lived here. It’s so perfect for the spot and we admire it every day. The artist was in town recently and we invited her to come and see where it was hanging. She walked in the house and stopped dead in her tracks. Couldn’t have cared less about her art. She needed to tell us about the spirits in the house. She sensed them immediately. It seems there was an elderly woman who died in the house and she’s still here.


She also told us that there’s also an adolescent girl who’s hanging out. We traversed the house: living rooms, closets, attics, bathrooms. She told us where the child had stayed and that she had left some toys here, most likely in the little knee-hole attic.


That evening we were having a drink with our neighbor who lived in this house for many years with her parents. She knows every inch of this house. I was telling her about the visit from the artist/psychic that day and that she had sensed a woman who had died here and was still making her presence known. Without skipping a beat, our neighbor asked “And did she mention the adolescent girl?”


Goose bumps, anyone??

A 21st century love affair in a 19th century house

He and I fell in love the minute we saw each other. We’re so fortunate…our love grows stronger every day. He’s so handsome, growing slightly grayer all the time but that’s okay. A few wrinkles here and there but those green eyes are still beautiful. He’s kind and sweet, as he always has been.

Sleeping together (is this getting a little racy for you?) can be a challenge. As it is with so many males, he tends to hog the sheets and covers. (You know what I mean.) I’m happy to say he doesn’t snore.

He likes to dine on schedule so I always try to be home for us to be together.   He loves to eat yet manages to stay nice and lean.   His tastes are limited; it’s easy to please him.

I know that he’s unfaithful but I accept that and have since I first discovered it. I don’t know her name but I recognize her when I see her.  She comes down the tree with a nut in her mouth and it’s for him. They stare longingly at each other. Their tails get puffy and twitchy. Just because it’s unrequited love, between mixed species with a double e-strength window between them doesn’t mean it’s not heartfelt. I know he worries when it’s cold out and he’s inside where it’s nice and warm. You can see it on his face.

He sleeps a lot….somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 hours a day. She visits frequently and he’s frequently oblivious. (So typical of the male, isn’t it?  If he were dependent on that nut, I can tell you it would be a different matter).   I guess you’d call her the (nut)bread winner, so I worry about his self esteem. Since he’s not allowed outside, his ability to hunt and gather is limited.

So there we are… Basil the cat and his squirrelfriend…..With apologies to the bard, she’s on the balcony ( i.e. up the tree) and he’s inside, most likely asleep. ”Basil-oh-Basil….wherefore art thou, Basil?” May things end better for them than that Shakespearean relationship did.

And I did it my way.




It’s a beautiful fall day today. I think I’ll go to the water. We are so fortunate to have so many choices. The previous owners left us two kayaks. The water is still and could make for a wonderful trip. Get a little exercise, too.


They also left a little boat. A Boston Whaler. 15 or 16 feet, I think. Just right for a leisurely trip up and down the river. A cool drink and a sandwich. What could be better?


Then there’s the option of just sitting on the dock, watching people enjoy the river and waving at them, saying hello, hoping they keep their wake to a dull roar so we don’t bounce around.


We could even just enjoy the water from our porch. Nice comfy chairs. There are some soft October breezes blowing. Maybe a sip of wine or two.


Lovely choices, all. Just not for me. I’m going to take a bubble bath.