Writing into the Light…

Finding my way with words…

When Simple Becomes Hard ~ Becoming Bionic

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Over the past four weeks I have had three surgical procedures.  The most important of which was to implant electrodes in my brain. This morning, I walked out of my neurologists office up and running and programmed.   I have become medically mechanized.

My purpose is not for covert government acts like the Six Million Dollar Man or the Bionic Woman.  My purpose is quite simple, actually ~ I want to be “normal.”  For over two years I have not been able to write a check, a shopping list, balance my checkbook, or any other form of written communication.  It’s been five years since I have been able to apply even a little mascara to my eye lashes.  It has been about three years since I have been able to cook and prepare food, chopping and measuring ingredients without having to plan a trip to the Urgent Care clinic before dinner is served.   Little by little, what I could do to has withered away  and left the world of possibility for me.  Simple became hard, very hard.  I prided myself on finding just the right solution to my dilemma.  At first it was a simple kitchen tool.  Alexa became my best friend preparing shopping lists.  I kept simplifying everyday tasks trying to move them from the can’t do to can do list.

There comes a point when accommodations take over your life.  You have different expectations of yourself and how you operate in the world and others have different expectations of you.  My beautiful coffee mugs that I have collected over the years were traded for adult sippie cups.  That is when you gather all of your stamina and reach for the brass ring!.

In March I made the decision to have Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy.  It was not a decision I made easily.  It was a matter of quality of life.  The possible side effects could affect my life, and my quality of life, forever.  But, being in a situation where I cannot increase medication and am left with a choice of only sitting back and watching my situation deteriorate and able to do nothing to improve the situation was not a viable alternative.  I decided it was a risk I had to take!

DBS is a surgery that is done on patients with Essential Tremor (which I have) and Parkinson’s Disease.  It has been a long road to being given my magic little remote control.  I am ecstatic that I live in a time when DBS is a possibility.  It is an inherited disease.  I am at least the third generation to have tremors.

I saw someone write about their “herd” the other day. ` None of us can move forward without the support of our Herd.  Profound thanks to all who offered prayers publicly and privately, good wishes and healing thoughts ~ some of you not even knowing that you were supporting.  I could not have done it without you.  Special thanks to my brother, Bill, who gave up 10 days to keep me safe, secure and entertained.  He was starting to look like the Where’s Waldo? of Facebook.  He returned to MD for his own shoulder replacement surgery next week.  Thank you to all of you ~ for your support.


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What the Catnip, Santa??

 

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Georgia here:

I have been so bad, I have forced Mom to write a blog which she hasn’t done for a very long time!  She said the story is too long for FaceBook.  She’s going to let me tell it myself though.  Mom said it may be cathartic.  I don’t know what that means, but I’ll take her word for it!

I was having a hard time sleeping last night, Mom and the dogs weren’t ~ they were sacked out.  I just love the laundry basket.  Mom was really tired, before she went to bed she went to the basement, folded the last load of wash, carried the laundry basket upstairs to the bedroom but decided to wait until morning to put the clean clothes away.  Did I mention I just LOVE the laundry basket?

Well, I couldn’t control myself!  I jumped into the laundry basket, ran around in circles, rolled in her clean undies, unpaired the socks and jumped against the sides of the basket until I knocked it over.  Then, piece by piece, quiet as a mouse, I ran off with the laundry!

Let’s just say Mom was not pleased that she tripped over the laundry basket on her way to the bathroom this morning and realized what I had done.  Then she had to have a scavenger hunt to collect her laundry before she even had her coffee this morning!  She is not pleasant when things disrupt her routine ~ and this is a woman who was a middle school administrator who was forever moving her daily Steven Covey “To Do” list to the next day before 8:30 AM!  I will admit, I left some of the laundry downstairs and by the back door, under the dining room table, and under the bed.  This is aside from the fact it all has to be rewashed.  I guess I was a little out of control!

Yesterday was my birthday.  I was 9 months old!  Don’t you love that sweet baby-face?  The dogs, my sisters, Emma and Sara, pulled me aside while Mom was crawling under the bed and tables gathering her now re-dirty laundry to tell me that Christmas is coming soon and I better get my act together or I will get coal instead of catnip in my stocking!  You see there is this guy called Santa Paws who brings treats to good animals.  They are good sisters to explain things to me since I’m still a baby.  Emma is 5 and Sara is 9 so they know a lot.  Mom says Sara knows a little too much, she gets into trouble, Trouble with a capital T, Mom says!  These are my sisters…  Emma is on the left, Sara is on the right.Header

They suggested I hang up my Christmas stocking and be extra sweet for the next few weeks.  I have to control myself until December 26th since Santa Paws is watching and if I am not good, he will not leave me toys and treats for Christmas.  So, I took their suggestion and hung up my stocking.  As soon as Mom saw it she was so happy again.  Then things started to fall apart.

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Mom decided it was time to take my Christmas picture.  She went upstairs and returned with these red and green frilly collars with sequins and bells on them.  Can you imagine!  I am a dignified member of the feline species, not a frou-frou cat.  I think not on these collars!

She slipped two, not one, TWO of them over my head.  She started to tell me how cute I looked, but before she got it out of her mouth, I shook my regal feline head and they flew in two different directions!  Whoo-Hoo!!  As Martin Luther King, Jr. so appropriately said, “Free at last, free at last.  Thank God Almighty I am free at last!”

I chased the frilly little garments around the living room, caught one, and treated it like an overdressed Christmas mouse from The Nutcracker.  This is what I think of Mom’s Christmas costume…

20151208_114224_resizedThis is an extravagant ball of decorated organza that needs to be destroyed, and I’m just the cat to do it!

Life did eventually calm down.  I was afraid coal wouldn’t be as much fun to roll in as catnip ~ and the girls said Santa Paws was watching.  So I will be a good kitty.  Sit on my perch.  Keep my teeth off of the Holiday Finery and watch my birds.  For now…..

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Merry Christmas, Georgia


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July 4th in Ocean Park, Maine

One of the best days of the year, when you live by the sea in a town that originated as a Chautauqua in 1881 is July 4th.  Ocean Park, Maine is one of more than 350 assembly centers generated from the camp meeting movement in the late nineteenth century.  These assemblies were dedicated to self-improvement through religion, education, cultural enlightenment and entertainment and recreation. A few of these communities still exist across America.  While many of the original Chautauquas originated with a link to a specific religious group, those remaining are now non-denominational. One thing most of these assemblies have in common is that they were created near water, sitting within groves of trees and located along the railroad for ease in transportation.

The history of the Chautauqua Movement in America, and the story of those communities that have survived is fascinating.  Take a few minutes to explore this piece of Americana.  The mission of self-improvement and family values is still strong.  In Ocean Park generations come from all across America, Canada and Europe to spend time within the comfort of a town that seems, in many aspects, to be frozen in time.  It is a place that is still guided by a mission and by-laws that were created by a community dedicated to individual growth in education, culture and the examination of moral and ethical beliefs within a recreational environment.  Enjoy some scenes from our traditional Independence Day Parade!!  I hope you had a day full of community as well…

Photos courtesy of the Ocean Park Association.


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Sweet 16

Good Morning Peoples, especially those who love their felines!  Monhegan Mist here, aka Miss Misty.  This is the morning after…and I am a bit weary!    Yesterday was my birthday.  Mom had a Sweet 16 birthday dinner for me.  Before you start picturing wild cats running around and bouncing off the walls, I was only 16 in human years… in cat years I was 84!  The advantage I have over Mom is, I was born with grey hair so I can do a better job of hiding my age! Mom promised me I could be a guest blogger for my birthday, so here it goes…

I had a rather unusual beginning in my family.  My Mom had gone back to graduate school and was very busy.  She had a golden retriever named Maggie who was well taken care of by Mom’s friend, but was lonely.  Mom was thinking maybe a kitty would fit the bill.  Problem, Mom hated cats.  One Saturday Mom went to the pet store to get Maggie some food.  I was there with a group of cat rescuers who were trying to find forever homes for kitties.  Long story short, Mom saw me with my grey velvet fur and took me home.

When we got home we had a long talk.  She introduced me to Maggie and told me she realized God made me a cat, not a dog, and while she respected that she had always found cats a bit aloof and independent.  She said if I could be like a small grey golden retriever who used a litter box that life would be perfect!  I really wanted things to work out at my new “forever” home, but that was a lot to ask!  Mom sealed the deal by naming me after her favorite place on earth ~ Monhegan Island, Maine.  She said my fur was the color of the mist in the harbor in the early morning.  Add to that, I am a perfect lady who always lays with my legs gracefully crossed!

I took our little talk to heart.  Fact is, I wasn’t ready to be separated from my feline mother when I was and needed something with 4 legs to be my Mom.  That wound up being Maggie.  When your foster mother is a golden retriever it is almost impossible to be independent and aloof.  So, Mom got her wish and within 24 hours she loved me unconditionally and decided kitties were an individual decision and that she had been wrong to write off an entire breed.  I am a great cuddler!

Some of Mom’s other “quirks” I have an issue with.  She loves to dress up her animals for holiday pictures.  That behavior moves into territory I cannot abide!  I call it animal abuse!  I have to draw the line somewhere!!  I have beautiful green eyes that in pictures always look like some wild beast that belongs in a scarey movie.  She just doesn’t get it!  I HATE to have my picture taken!  I’m so much cuter in person.

One of my greatest challenges was when Mom brought home a golden retriever puppy two years after Maggie died.  Maggie was older when I came to live with her, I was not prepared for the challenges of a puppy.  Her name is Gracie.  I did a good job raising Gracie!  I was the mother this time!  People think we should be enemies because we are different species ~ why?  We aren’t enemies, we are sisters.  I wag my tail like a dog, and I taught Gracie to be the only dog who can cup her paws to scoop like a cat!  She is able to gather all of the edible treasures from the kitchen sink that Mom forgets to immediately send down the garbage disposal thanks to me!  And…did I mention that I do an awesome job of keeping my canine siblings clean and well groomed?

I’m sorry to interrupt Father’s Day to send my belated birthday message, but Mom was chasing me all day yesterday trying to get a Sweet 16 picture of me (the one at the top of the page).  By then, we were both too tired to write!

I am a very important member of the family.  I have been with Mom through a lot of life over 16 human years.  You too can have a special kitty in your life.  We can be independent or cuddly, your choice.  We can be entertaining.  We are playful.  We can keep the dog clean.  We can be your faithful companion.  We are low maintenance.

I would be remiss if I did not remind you that this is “Kitten Season.”  There are many kitties that do not have a forever home ~ young and old.  Please consider bringing a furry new friend into your home by adopting a rescue.  We are really special balls of fur… That’s my Sweet 16 message for you…

Love, Miss Misty (Monhegan Mist)

P.S. Special kitty hugs to my look alike blog friend… Teddy!


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Ah-a-a-a-a Cho-o-o-o-o

I don’t know about you, but following a rather mild winter it seems to be an especially miserable season for those who suffer from seasonal pollen allergies.  That being said, it is a banner year for those who sell allergy medications and tissues.  Those of us who suffer are buying more and more over the counter medications, feeling buried in mountains of soggy mucus laden tissues, are feeling wretched and at the mercy of Mother Nature through a foggy brain that we are sure has an ax buried in it!  Amongst the blooms of the season the quality of life is diminished.  I keep getting a mental picture of my friend above reciting Katharine Hepburn’s famous line, “the calla lilly’s are in bloom” in a very nasally voice and with red, swollen teary eyes.

All of that being said, my fair readers, I am angry!  No, not at Mother Nature, I’ve learned in my 62 years that it is self defeating to get angry with Mother Nature (she always wins).  I am

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angry with those who manufacture tissues.  What were they thinking?  They have chosen the time of year in which they must be making more money on tissues than any other, with the possible exception of winter cold season, to change the design of their tissue boxes.  On a scale from aesthetically beautiful (10) to downright ugly (1) the latest offerings are a minus 10!

Judging by the picture at left, even Abe Lincoln had to resort to a neti pot during allergy season!  They must have had a bad season of tissue box designs even in his day.

If you read my mother’s day post, you know that I was raised by a mother who would not allow even a ketchup bottle on the dinner table.  While from that standpoint I was a major disappointment in that department, I am finicky about my tissue boxes.  They need to be of coordinating colors to my decor, and have an artistically pleasing design.

While in one of the big box stores today I surveyed five different brands of tissues.  Puffs advertises the new designs with “The same great tissues you love… with a prettier wardrobe.”  I was left wondering where they are buying their clothes!!  I found that tissues come in many varieties: basic, with lotion, ultra soft, cool touch, with Vicks, auto pack, and anti-viral.  Some brands only came in basic, some had “purse-pack” gifts included.  What they all had in common was that they have new UGLY designs on their boxes.

So, for someone who is visually distracted by an un-visually pleasing box of tissues in a room, what is one to do?  Tissue box covers, and there are many types to choose from.  I found basic stainless steel, bunnies, strawberry shortcake, Hello Kitty and King Tut’s mask with tissues popping out of his nose.

One company offers to print your own photographs on each side of a tissue box cover.  I was thinking maybe you could pick your favorite painting to have on your tissue box.  How would it look to have tissues coming out of Mona Lisa’s nose or mouth?

I should probably be grateful that I’m having a bad allergy season.  When the eyes get red and puffy and tearing, and the ear canals get itchy, and the head hurts because the sinuses are swollen, and I am sneezing repeatedly I reach for my allergy pills and nasal spray.  At that point I either take a nap or get myself wound up over something as important as the new designs on the boxes my tissues come in.   The real issues of the world get lost in the fog that has taken over my brain.

One important warning, if you feel a sneeze coming on while driving… pull over!

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So, what’s bugging you today???


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Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…

Photo by Carol R. Craley

Although the calendar has said it is spring for quite some time, I still seem to visually judge the arrival of spring by Philadelphia standards ~ developed during the first five decades of my life.  Despite living in Maine for almost 10 years now, I have learned to use the term “wicked good,” but have not adopted Maine standards for “spring.”  It visually arrives about a month later than Philadelphia.  Well folks, now that it’s almost “summer” by the calendar, it is finally visually spring and time to plant!  Are you following this???

I haven’t used my photographer’s eye for quite a while so I ventured out yesterday to record the arrival of spring before it turns into summer.  Forget my inept explanation and take a tour outside of my door right now…

Photo by Carol R. Craley


Georgia O’Keefe’s version of a rhododendron.

NOTE:  (I am not a gardener.  Playing in the dirt wasn’t even fun for me as a child.  Please don’t anticipate that I will ever be as good as many of my readers who can give the botanical names of flowers and trees or the Latin names for the birds who visit them without a pictorial guide.  I am content with the American name of the bush they grow on… or more practical names like “pink flowers that grow on the bush next to the porch out front”)

Photo by Carol R. Craley

Photo by Carol R. Craley


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What if Scarlet O’Hara Decided to Write a Book?

Since I retired 10 years ago I have managed to become afflicted with Scarlett O’Hara Syndrome.  While I’d like to tell you that refers to her 18 inch waist, it doesn’t.  It refers to the quote, “Tomorrow is another day.”  Read that, I now live totally in my right brain and all of the years of living with my Stephen Covey organizational methods that made me a highly successful person have been traded for a red dress and I’ve gone to the ball!

Meeting self imposed deadlines has become a thing of the past.  It took me 2 years to paint my kitchen and dining area.  First I had to find the right color, decide how I was going to organize colors and decorating, then I had to motivate myself to go buy the paint and architectural details, then there was the motivation to get up and decide “today is the day” rather than “tomorrow is another day.”  Finally, I had to gather the ladder, the cans of paint, the brushes, the edgers, the paint tape, and the wet and dry paper towels for when I start painting the floor or myself.  I’ve had no problem going from someone who had every minute of the day organized and working a 60 hour week to sending the left/organizational side of my brain on permanent vacation.

I have been researching and mentally organizing and processing a YA book for about 20 years now.  I have tons of research, but keep running into stone walls.  Each time I hit a wall, I sit back with frustration and say, “Tomorrow is another day.”  In an attempt to kick start this project again, I attended a Women’s History Month program in Washington tracing African American women from the Civil War to Civil Rights.  Fascinating workshop.  Got me motivated.

I also registered for a workshop on Writing Children’s Books which requires me to produce at least one chapter.  I created the annotated chapter outline.  I then did a first draft (which was actually about 53 drafts) of Chapter 1.  Parts are good, parts are very good, parts have no right to be on paper.  “Tomorrow is another day.”  Well, I’m running out of tomorrows (deadline for submission is June 1st) and I feel like I am throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded to find an approach to the story that is natural and flowing, not painful and contrived.  There is a correct framework for this story, all I need to do is to find it, then rewrite Chapter 1 by June 1st.

While this post (blast of frustration) will never be my best work… I am a good writer.  That being said, writing a book for publication is a far different thing than my professional writing or writing the results of research, writing a report, or writing a blog, or writing a letter, or writing a note on a card.

Writing a book requires just the right narrator, just the right concept, just the right dialect in dialogue, just the right pacing in unfolding the story, enough information yet not too much information, enough description so that the reader feels like they are there involving all of their senses, and do all of this while stimulating a reader to keep turning the page…

Before Miss Scarlett lets loose with another “Tomorrow is another day”  and I lose all chance of meeting my deadline, could some of my writer friends out there offer some suggestions to slow down this overactive brain and tell it to shut up so that I can write…

I’d love to hear your thoughts…