Step By Step

That’s what I’ve done for the last 13 years.  I’ve taken it step by step, always keenly, and often painfully aware of every single step.  The left foot is always ready to go; the right one, well, not-so-much. It’s a bit like a recalcitrant child; it would stomp its own foot in protest if it could.

The right foot has “dystonia” for lack of a better name.  It gets cranky, it scrunches itself all up into knots and is reluctant to go forward.    It has a “movement disorder.”

It has visited a broad variety of healthcare professionals.  Here are some, in alphabetical order:

Acupuncturists, chiropractors, holistic doctors, internists, massage therapists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, OB Gyns (hey, any port in a storm), orthopedists, orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, radiologists and sports doctors.

It has been prescribed more medicines than anyone could possibly remember.

It has had botox treatments, MRI’s, bone scans, EMG’s, Xrays, blood tests. 

The prognoses, diagnoses and the treatments have been myriad and, ultimately, all wrong. 

This, unfortunately, is the story shared by most, if not all, who have been diagnosed with dystonia.

But now.

Now the foot has the opportunity to embark on a new journey.  A journey outside the norm. At worst, it will simply be venture of note. At best, I can unbox all those cute shoes I’ve held onto for thirteen years and take a long, long walk with the Mister.

The New Yorker

It’s long been considered to be a thinking person’s magazine. 

Their thoughtful, in-depth essays are intended to engage your brain, cause reflection and make you just a little smarter than you were before you read them. 

There’s also a fair amount of poetry.  Much of it too obscure for the likes of me.

And, alas, the book reviews gravitate to subject matter that will forever be over my pay grade.

And yet, we are subscribers. Again. We lapsed for a spell but are back in the swim. I originally subscribed only for the cartoons. This time around, I was committed to being more engaged and indeed I am, but primarily because they’ve added a crossword puzzle.  Many of those lengthy articles remain unread.

But an earlier issue from this year really took me by surprise.  There it was, right near the back where I usually begin.  It was a cartoon which I simply didn’t understand. I was shocked to the core. If I can’t at least “get” the cartoons, I said to myself, then why am I still subscribing? Then I took a longer look and now I can’t stop laughing.  Here it is for your viewing enjoyment. Or for your confusion and consternation. Whatever the case may be.

Is The Party Over?

Oh, the parties. The tea parties, the bridge parties, the dinner parties, the birthday parties.  All eventually come to an end. Guests rise from their seats, say their warm good nights and go home.  Unless, of course, someone utters those three little words:  “Roe V. Wade.” 

At that point, all hell is apt to break loose.  Woe betide the hostess who thought her party was over and she could go to bed.  But after those highly charged words, the party begins again.  And with no end in sight.

I’m reminded of an old advertisement slogan: “Nobody doesn’t like SaraLee.”  With regard to “Roe v. Wade,” nobody doesn’t have an opinion and everyone is more than happy to share.

The ensuing conversation will ultimately go nowhere.  We know that from the get-go but our two cents worth will be heard.  Over and over again if necessary.

We obviously should have left the party when the going was good.   Before we wore out our welcome.  Before the storm clouds descended. But Roe is a big issue and we honor it by discussing it and voicing our opinions, different though they may be. So, bravo for us.  Our freedom of speech isn’t on the chopping block.  Yet.

And no, the irony of sending this on mother’s day isn’t lost on me. Very simply, as most of us know, when we choose to have children, every day is mother’s day.

Image thanks to unsplash.com

Where Should I Put My Wine?

I look at pictures of fancy, stylish and obviously very expensive rooms and wonder where I might put my glass of wine.  Or my scotch and soda.  Or my Coca Cola.

As I study the pictures, I can’t find a single accessible spot for any of those little goodies because that spot doesn’t exist.  So, I’d be stuck.  Stuck just sitting there with an increasingly cold and wet glass clutched tightly in my hand. And no relief in sight.

That’s one reason we, whose houses aren’t featured in fancy magazines, have end tables.  And handy little pull-up tables.  And coffee tables within easy reach.  We  value ease over style every day of the week.

We forgo perfection for accessibility.  We choose hospitality over decor and we opt for function over form.  If you visit us, you’ll surely see some dust, a few clumps of cat hair, and possibly even a fur ball.  But there will always be a spot for your wine and we promise your hands will stay warm and your glass will be full.

Image thanks to home-design.com

Doctors Orders.

We knew what to do and how to do it.  We’re pros at getting our Covid vaccines.  Two regular shots and one booster shot have taught us well and caused no problems along the way.   So, as we went to our appointment for the second booster, we thought nothing of it.  Been there, done that. 

After injecting us for this last booster, the nurse announced we could not take Advil for any aches or pains for several days.  Now, Advil is not just any ole’ drug in our house.  It’s a critical part of our lives, especially given the sore arms we knew we’d have the next day.

We were also instructed to drink 64 ounces of water every day for the next few. That’s about 8 times my normal intake.  A daunting, if not impossible task, to be sure.

But then came the kicker. Now I was informed that I couldn’t have a mammogram for 4 weeks!!  Four whole weeks!

That was music to my ears and to those other body parts which don’t take kindly to that particular event. I didn’t question what in the world a mammogram had to do with a Covid vaccine. I didn’t care. At long last, there was an order from the doctor I was more than happy to follow.

I’d Love A Coven

I think a coven might be just what I need right now.  What could be better than a gathering of thirteen witches who share similar interests and activities? With that in mind, I’m seriously on the hunt for twelve, good and true, witches to join me.

I’ve never looked poorly on witches.  To the contrary, I have a dear friend who, by her own admission, is a witch.  She’s a good witch, but a witch nevertheless.  She’s led me down some interesting paths which I’ve happily followed and always to my benefit.

But, back to the coven.  I think a few hexes would be in order.  Perhaps they should be at the very top of our to-do list. We’d use our hex-abilities wisely and judiciously, but use them we would.

We’d stir some pots.  And not just those with eye of newt and toe of frog. 

And, of course, we’d fly.  Full moons always beckon and we’d follow the call.  But we’d fly only when no one else was watching.

Most importantly, we’d cackle.   Oh, how we’d cackle.  Our souls would soar with laughter and joy.  Maybe it’s witchful thinking but who knows? Maybe, just maybe, a coven’s in the cards.

Thanks to Pixabay for the modified Coven a-flyin’ image

I Had To Take A Sleeping Pill.

No, not because I’d watched the horrors of war, or some bizarre political shenanigans, or anything Covid-related

I had to take a sleeping pill because I couldn’t stop laughing.

We had just watched the first two episodes of “Julia,”  now playing on HBO Max.  There’ve been other shows about Julia Child but this one, well,  you have to see it to understand.  Sarah Lancaster, who plays Julia, IS Julia Child, reincarnated in-full. And what a joy she is.

As it happened, we were living in Boston in 1962 when Julia first came on the scene at WGBH.  And, yes, that’s a little personal connection for us but it’s not remotely necessary to slurp up this new show with a big spoon and savor every delicious bite.

The new “Julia” takes us back to her early days at WGBH when most of the male-dominated leadership couldn’t see her appeal.  They fought tooth and nail to keep her off the air.  However, and happily for the world, the Big Cheese had some thoughts of his own.

As it turns out, both he and his wife had seen the “demo” and his wife had consequently declared an interest in French cooking and vowed she would faithfully watch and learn from Julia.  The Big Cheese quietly listened to his staff’s negative remarks, assessed their various concerns, and finally said: “My wife’s cooking makes me sad and fearful.  If Julia can help with that, nothing else matters.”

And with that, Julia got her show. The rest is history.

Sketch of Julia thanks to NewYorker.com

Dear Southern Living Magazine:

Let me begin by telling you that I was, once upon a time, a devoted subscriber to your magazine, but when you got all crazy-focused on recipes, that was the end of our relationship.

I actually wish I were still in a position to cancel my subscription right now so as to make a stronger statement on my current topic but since that opportunity is gone, I will share my concern as follows:

Did you really have to name Hilton Head’s beaches as Number One in the country?  Again?

Some of us are less than thrilled about that.

See, it’s all about the traffic.  It’s awful every day now.  It used to only be awful on Saturdays and Sundays (change-over days) but now it’s 24/7.  And yes, I know we’re not in the same boat as New York or Atlanta with their terrible traffic issues, but those cities have more than one main road (or hard roads as we used to call them in West Virginia.)   

You’re coming to Hilton Head?  To go to that “Number One in the Country” beach?  You’re gonna be on Route 278, (that one-and-only), for a long, long time.  There’s no other way in.  Or on.  Or off.  Or out.

We love our beaches.  It’s one of the reasons so many of us moved here.  But we’ve built, and built some more and finally overbuilt.  Much of it to accommodate visitors.  It’s simply not a good thing for our infrastructure or our ecology. 

It’s not all your fault, Dear Southern Living, but maybe you could just tone it down a bit and put us somewhere loosely in the “top 10.”  Please.

 I’ll even renew my subscription if that would help.  For the rest of my life, if you want.   All those recipes, not withstanding.  It would be worth every penny.

It Probably Wasn’t Any Of My Business.

No, let me be clearer.  It was absolutely none of my business but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have some thoughts about it.  So here goes.

There were six of us at lunch earlier this week.  A friend had been visiting and we were gathered to tell her how much we’d enjoyed seeing her and how much we hoped she’d come back soon, if not sooner.

A family of six came in shortly after our arrival and were seated near us.  There were two grandparents, two parents, and two kids somewhere in the 5-7 year old range.  They’d barely been seated when earphones (nearly as big as the children’s little heads) and I-pads were placed on and in front of the kids.  And there they stayed for the duration.

I suppose we should have been grateful that there was no screaming, yelling, fussing, stomping, and all the other annoying stuff kids do when they’re forced to sit for too long.  These kids were essentially mute and invisible.  Stoned, if you will, on their devices.

It was truly none of my business but still I kept a close eye on the scene.  Discreetly, I hope.  I know the kids didn’t notice because they were aware of nothing outside their electronics.  They were perfect little children.  Seen, but not heard.

Hmmmm…..

Is that the way it is now? Like it once was way back in the good old days? All the way back to the 15th century? When a fusty old clergyman, named John Mirk, first coined the phrase that children should be seen but not heard? I certainly hope not. We need young minds and voices in our midst. And maybe, just maybe, they need ours.

Image thanks to Dreamstime.com

What Time Is It?

Such a simple, seemingly innocuous, question.  But twice a year, that question becomes fraught with confusion and angst.

That, of course, is due to the inanity (at least to me) of switching from back and forth from Daylight Savings to Eastern Standard.  And maybe it’s just me again, but those events frequently appear to coincide with a full moon. Beware the full moon under any circumstances. Put the two together and I inch up very close to crazy.

My body struggles for at least a week after the time changes.  My “inner clock” tells me it’s dinner time but other clocks tell me it’s either too early or not soon enough. A 6:00 AM morning wake-up is perfect but if the bedside clock says 5:00 AM, that’s obscene and 7:00 AM means we’ve seriously overslept.  Darkening skies come either too late or too early, depending on which half of the year we’re in.

The clocks in our house are never in synch.  Many are not properly updated. They just sit there and quietly wait for the next time change and then they’re good to go again.  I like that. Maybe I should just do as they do. Time changes be stuffed!

By some accounts, all this nonsense will be over by sometime in 2023.  By my account, that’s not soon enough but I certainly celebrate the plan.

It’s My Blog…..

And I’ll cry if I want to.  And, cry I do when I see images of Ukraine, its land and its people.  I want to look away but something tells me to watch. To watch at least enough to be aware. To be connected, in some very small way, to their plight.

No, I don’t wish to dwell on what’s going on over there.  But, when I’m out with others, be it lunching, meeting, walking, talking, I come away empty when not even a simple acknowledgement of that war has been made.

Well, you say, let’s please not put a damper on our time together.  It’s a grim subject and we’re here to have fun.  Besides, there’s really nothing we can do.  Right?

Right you are.  But, if we can’t bring ourselves to acknowledge the reality of this war and its terror, then what else is missing in our gatherings?  Can’t we take a brief moment of silence, offer a suggestion of what we as individuals can do, and collectively speak of the courage and bravery of the Ukrainians? I know that I, for one, would take some comfort from that.

It’s such a little thing and surely not too much to ask in the face of a world crisis.

Plan.

Such a simple word.  We don’t give it much thought.  We simply do it every day, many times a day.  We plan dinner, we plan games, we plan trips.  We make plans to see a movie, to visit friends, to go shopping.

In the face of potential danger, we make plans to stay safe.  We plan hurricane escape routes, we plan(ned), ever-so-carefully, a few activities during Covid, we plan our doctor’s appointments and exercise programs to stay as healthy as we can.

Our days fill up with plans, most of which we look forward to. And we take for granted that we can follow through with our plans.  That we can control some, if not all, of our actions. 

Unlike the souls living in the Ukraine right now.  What they’re going through is truly unimaginable to us. Most can do no more than struggle to survive.

And in a flash, we realize that our ability to plan is not a given. It’s a luxury.

Her Name Was Dux   

           

Well, it wasn’t her given name but it’s what everyone called her.  Even her children, of whom The Mister was one.

Dux had strong feelings about many things.  Ice cold gin martinis got gold stars. Her own special chocolate icing and hot dogs, prepared in a double boiler (dogs simmering in the bottom, buns steaming in the top) were also top notch. The Pittsburgh Pirates could do no wrong and there was nothing good to be said about the Yankees.

And then there was Phil Mickelson.  Oh, how she loved Phil.  Wherever he went, Dux was there in spirit.  She followed his every step and stroke.  She cheered when he won and was truly sad when he lost.

And, boy, am I glad she’s not around to see the trouble Phil’s in right now.   She’d be mad but, more over, she’d be sad. 

We think of Dux today and know exactly how she’d feel about Ukraine.  A world-wide traveler and a WAVE during WWII, she’d be deeply concerned and very sad. 

In 1784, Robert Burns wrote the poem “Man’s Inhumanity to Man.” Now, here we are In 2022 suffering from ONE man’s inhumanity to man. It’s hard to believe and also terribly, terribly sad. Dux would be the first to agree.

A Bit On Book Clubs

I’ve belonged to more than one.  The first one I joined is now over 50 years old and still going strong.  Alas, that one was in a former life.  I’ve joined more than one down here in the South during the last 20 years.  I’ve also resigned from more than one during the last 20 years.

Now, I’m in what I would call a “very loosely structured” book club.  Yes, we choose a book.   And yes, we, at least for the most part, read the book. We then, at some point during our gathering, get around to discussing the book. We stay quite loose about the whole thing.

We are slowly discovering what we enjoy and are finding that what we enjoy is a respite from all the “stuff” we otherwise read, hear, and live in the every day.  Which is to say, we enjoy books that make us smile, reminisce, and laugh. 

Books hailed as “pithy, challenging and instructive” don’t make the list. Books over 300 pages also get the boot. Plagues, famine, strife and wars do not tickle our fancies. And with that proviso, we understand that we may be taking the name “book club” in vain.  And we offer our apologies for that.  But we are who we are. 

At some point in the next month or so, we’ll meet to discuss “The Maid.”  It’s now number five on the NYT bestseller list is and not, in the truest of terms, a good “book club” book. I’ve already read it and found it to be funny, sweet, readable and relatable.  Why, on earth, would we not want to read it as a group? We couldn’t think of a single reason at all.  A good time is assured.  In our little book club, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Ladies book club sketch courtesy of pixy.org

Whoa!

We stopped slurping our coffee and started laughing as we read a headline in our little newspaper back in January. It said: “GROUP PUSHING FOR MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS IN BEAUFORT COUNTY”

Whoa, we said to ourselves.  Have these people ever been to Beaufort County?  They really want “mountain bike trails” here?  Here, where, not for nothing, we’re known as The Low Country?  Here where the elevation is somewhere around a twelve inches at its highest?.  Here where ” Flat as a pancake” best defines our topography?  

We chuckled at the mere and seemingly ridiculous idea of mountain bike trails here, on this sea-level Island. What are those people thinking?  Or smoking?  We chortled, snidely as I recall, at their naivety and ignorance.    Mountain bike trails, indeed!  When pigs fly! Or donkeys. What nonsense, we said.

We were wrong, of course.  As we so often are.

Had we continued reading beyond the headlines, as we hadn’t, we’d have learned that that the group is simply asking for “trails” for “mountain bikes.”  As opposed to “trails on mountains” for bikes.  Big difference.  We swallowed our chuckles, ate some crow and reminded ourselves to stop jumping to conclusions quite so fast.

I hope they get their trails.  It sounds like fun.  Good family fun.  Exactly what Beaufort County is supposed to be all about. Our apologies to the group. We hope they carry on with their mission. If they build it, people will most definitely come.