A SW FL Christmas Eve.

Christmas eve morning, we drove to Jiggs Landing in Bradenton to spend the day.  We’d never been there before but it will be on our list from now on. 

Jiggs landing is named for the original fish camp established in 1946 on a loop of the Braden river.  Freshly redone, it now has a visitor’s center, modern bathrooms, rental cabins, a playground neat and clean with a astro turf surface and wonderful boat ramps.   This has the most wonderful is the kayak launch I’ve ever seen.  You can get into the water and out without wetting anything more than the tip of your paddle. 

I saw more water birds than I do paddling the Peace river.  It must be that the birds here are more used to people.  Most populous were common coots and moor hens.  I wish I were an accomplished birder, but I know some other birds I saw were Herons and perhaps a Crane of some kind.  Lots of turtles too, of course.  No doubt there were the ubiquitous alligators, but I didn’t’ see any.  Being nearsighted has its advantages. 

As we were unloading our kayak, another boater was launching his small boat to the accompaniment of four squealing, laughing, wiggling kiddies that appeared to be about 6 to 8 years old. 

I could imagine the scenario.  “For cats sake – take these wound-up  kids out of the house for awhile so I can finish Christmas preparations!!”  says the young momma.  It appeared these two young daddies had decided a boat ride was just the ticket.  Launching the boat was a snap – loading the kiddies – not so much.  I heard one daddy say “Everyone will wear a life jacket.  --- NO – I said everyone!” Jason!  Get on the dock!  Everyone stay on the dock!”  It looked much like the phrase ‘trying to herd cats’.  More squeals.  A fisherman had dumped a small bucket of minnows on the grass and the kids were tossing them at one another.  Eventually, I saw them motor out to the main channel. 

Whew!  Do I miss those days?  Not at all.  They were fun then and I have many beautiful memories.  But, I’m glad to be the age I am now and be free of all the hassle. 


all the time in the world

What an incredible and priceless gift is the gift of time.  Time to simply watch waves chase one another onto the beach.  Watch the shells tumble and spin it its wake.  Time to observe the seagulls wheel and turn in the sea breeze.  The leisure time to watch a small sailboat traverse the bay from south to north. 

As a Senior, I now have the prized gift of time.  Enough time to observe the world around me - enough time to simply ‘waste time’. 

Getting old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  It’s so much better! I’ve found that instead of something to dread, it is a pure gift to live long enough to be beyond the busy-ness of raising a family, tending to a husband, working a job, keeping house and hearth together.  Except for caring for my two little doggies, I have nothing I ‘must’ do every day.  I can neglect housework, let laundry pile up, prepare only simple meals, sweep floors only when I’m inspired to do so. 

A few days ago I visited a small bayside park on Charlotte Harbor in SW Florida.  It was a sunny, breezy day.  Only a few fishermen were on the fishing pier far out on the water.  There isn’t really a beach here, just a short piece of rocky shoreline so I sat in my car listening to Classical Christmas music and reading a book interspersed with long stretches of just looking at the scene before me.  Pachelbel’s Canon seemed perfect inspiration for the gulls as they swooped across and down then up again into the sky. 

Right next to the parking area was a tiny 1950’s era bungalow and small back yard that ended right at the shoreline.  I watched an equally tiny lady as she puttered about her yard.  She had a few perennials and a few small palms – nothing needing much care like roses or vegetables.  She had a few clothes on her clothesline.  Since I have ‘time to waste’, I made unfounded guesses about what her life story might be.  How long had she lived there?  Was she a transplant from a different climate like me?  I saw no evidence of pets – but perhaps she had a cat inside the house?  Probably she was a widow – but perhaps she had been a single all her life?  If I had a better imagination, all this could be the menu for a novel.  I could make her out to be anything I could fancy. 

Now – isn’t this a wonderful thing ???  To simply have the time to simply sit still and let my imagination take Flights of Fancy.  ~Pam


Little pleasures

Life is so full of little pleasures.  If I take the time to really notice them, it’s amazing what little pleasures can do to life the heart. 

Why in the world am I rattling on about a little pleasure?  It just struck me as I was pouring my first cup of coffee of the day.  I no longer have to wait until the entire pot is brewed.  This newest coffeemaker has the interrupt feature.  As soon as there is at least a cup full brewed I can just pour it out and return the pot to finish by itself.  No waiting – no watching the pot so it doesn’t boil over. 

Another little pleasure?  My little Doxie/Chihuahua wants to snuggle on a chilly morning.  She’s a joy to hold – like my own live babydoll.  Dad held her so I could get the photo. 

My list of little pleasures include watching the sunlight glint off the swaying Areca palm outside my door.  Beautiful winter sunsets that are like fire in the sky.  Foggy, misty mornings watching the Florida sun give birth to the day.

When I was a young momma, I just had to snatch a minute here and there for these little pleasures.  My days were full of caring for my kiddies, husband, job and home. 

So the last of my pleasures I’ll ramble about is really a big, big pleasure.  The gift of time!  The incredible gift of time to do the things I didn’t have time for when I was younger.  Time to tend to a few rose bushes - walking my doggies – a bike ride through the county park – reading an entire novel in one day– needlework – the time to wander through the entire newspaper and enjoy my second cup of coffee.  ~Pam


This morning was the first foggy morning of many that we’ll have this winter in SW Florida. 

I love this kind of morning.  Although the flow of traffic - trucks, cars and school buses are the same as any weekday morning, the fog seems to dampen the sound somehow.  It is mystically quiet.  Like being inside a dream that you can barely recall when awake. 

In one way, it is like the first soft snow of winter.   That too seems to dampen sound, making the world a grey/white blur of quiet, like a Monet painting.  Only the impression of the trees and houses penetrate the fog.  Sharp lines are blurred and softened, like the softened sounds all around. 

Don’t get the idea I want to experience winter and snow again.  No way!!  Memories are enough.  I tell folks that if I want to see snow, I’ll buy a picture calendar.   

P.S. the photo is not SW Florida, but was taken in Missouri last summer, but it's pretty isn't it?~Pam



Oh how I love local newspapers!  When I’m traveling, I always like to buy the local newspaper.  I will read everything, from local news articles, upcoming events, editorials and even skim the classifieds.  What is for sale?  Cattle?  Which breed?  What is the price of housing?  What sports do the local highschool participate in?  Are there issues to be resolved about street lighting, school board squabbles, fresh water or sewer problems?

What can give me the flavor of a community better than seeing what is considered important to the local people?  All this is addressed in the local newspaper more accurately than the glossy brochures from their local Chamber of Commerce. 

Now, you can imagine how thrilled I was when my seasonal visitor and special friend and neighbor here in SW Florida brought me The Chronicle Herald from Halifax, Nova Scotia!!  Even the insert ads are interesting.  Canada Tire has 30% off on your own sauna “safe, reliable and easy to assemble”.  I have never imagined having my own sauna.  Maybe Missouri’s and Florida’s hot, humid summers mean I’ll pass on that.  She couldn’t have brought me anything I’d have liked better. 

Are you a newspaper reader?  I understand that people younger than my 70+ years get most of their news from the internet.  I’ve no argument with that.  But for now, I’m glad I can pick up the daily newspaper from my doorstep, get my morning coffee and read what is going on in the world. 

Now – to a major gripe with my partner.  Our Sun Herald comes in several sections.  The stickler in me requires that I re-fold the section I’ve read back to its original order when I’m done.  Then I pick up section B to read about the latest squabble at the City Council meeting.  Councilman X accused the Mayor of mis-handling city funds.  Voices are raised in the Council room--- to be continued on page 4.”  But there is no page 4!  Where is it?  Did he take it to the bathroom?  The porch?  Or is that it crumpled up on the chair?  By this time my blood pressure is up. 

Watch for tomorrow’s newspaper headline – “Man beaned with skillet in the Senior Citizen Mobile Home Park.  Charges are pending”. 


One size does NOT fit all!!!

 Sub-tropical winter here in SW Florida is just a bit unlike winters further north.  My daughter, in eastern Colorado, says they’re expecting snow next Wednesday.  I know in the Midwest, it could snow by Thanksgiving – or on a mild winter, never snow at all. 

What amuses me are the ads I see from the big chain stores here.  Knee high boots, leggings, heavy coats, wooly caps and thick gloves.  I wonder - do the buyers of Dillards and Macy’s in Port Charlotte, Florida actually stock these things?  Are we going to walk in wearing our shorts and sandals in 70 degree weather and purchase this polar wear?  Their marketing department is just going with one size fits all.  I am a plus size granny and I assure there is no such thing as one size fits all!!!! 

My sofa has a big, soft loose cushion to rest your back against.  Sophie has claimed it as her spot.  She can lay as you see her here, or turn around and bark at neighbors she can see out the window.  It won’t be long until she’s made a permanent dished out place.  Oh well – I love her more than the sofa. ~pam


Old Things are like Old Friends;

Returning home after months away is a bit of a reunion.  Of course, it’s saying hello to neighbors and friends as you might expect.  Beyond that is the reunion with familiar things – my favorite tea cup, pictures on the wall, my comfy chair, and my treasured Friendship Quilt

You may have some idea what a friendship quilt is.  Mine uses the pattern known as Jewel Box and is comprised of many jewel-toned pieces of fabric set off with pure white. 

This quilt began as an internet swap with other online quilters.  It was planned by one person, known as “Mother”.  She chose the pattern and decided on the size of each block.  The invitation then went out to all quilters in that group to make up one or more blocks and mail them to “Mother”.  After the designated time period, Mother sorted all blocks received and mailed a packet to each participant.  If you sent in 10 blocks, you got 10 different ones back and so forth. 

The variety of colors and patterns delighted me.  These quilters were unmet friends that I like to speculate about.  Looking at the fabrics used, I can see some quilters loved florals, some used geometric patterns, some just vibrant solids.  Some blocks are carefully color co-ordinated, some were just scrappy – a mish mash of what looked good together.  Most signed their names, some added their state or province, some their entire email address.   

There weren’t enough swap blocks for an entire quilt, so I made up more leaving the white portion of each block blank.  This took several years as I was still working then.  Once I retired, I put them all together into a quilt top.  I took it around to current friends and neighbors who were nice to sign the plain blocks.  

In my highschool days a popular object was the autograph hound.  It was a fabric covered stuffed dashhound about 12-15 inches long.  Does anyone remember them?  We had friends sign the dog with an ink pen and it became something to go with you to college to remind you of friends of earlier years. 

Now, as I lay under the quilt, I feel the love and friendship of each signature.  I can look at them, touch them and renew the memories I have with each signee.  ~pam


sights to see

 I’m a list maker, the list I’ve added to all summer was put out on the table and I begin to finalize it.  *enough dog food to last a week:  *add padding to the dishes in the RV: *change mail delivery: *sort items to take or store -----  on and on.  This part of travel isn’t what I enjoy – but once on the road?   Whee!!

If possible, I try to vary my route just enough to “see new sights”.  I headed SW through southern Illinois to cross the Ohio on the ferry at a funny named town, Cave in Rock.  The Ohio River takes a sharp turn west there attempting to carve away the tip of Illinois and donate the land to Kentucky.  Illinois resists with a rocky bluff of limestone.  This bluff is pock marked with caves giving the town its name.  Stories say that in the 1800’s, river pirates hid in these caves which gave a grand view of any unlucky river traveler.  It must have been a lucrative endeavor.  As mentioned before, little dog Sophie wasn't thrilled with the ferry ride, except from the safety of the passenger seat.

I always watch for the first palm tree.  One year I saw them planted in front of a hotel in Montgomery, AL.  Not natural, but Hey!!  That counts!!  Gradually, I began to see Spanish Moss in southern GA.  Once in FL, I watched for the first “Welcome Center” to get a small glass of fresh orange juice.  I saw many an RV with plates from Ohio, Michigan, New York and Indiana.  All escapees like me.  The influx will increase, I was just among the vanguard.  Now at home in my Senior Park, I’ve seen ‘reserved’ signs pop up like toadstools in the rain on empty RV spots just since the first of the month. 

It’s such fun to see what people are thinking and doing..  Can you imagine the odors drifting from this rig?  Imagine it sitting between the funnel cake wagon and the cotton candy machine.  URK!!

Now, I ask any of you poultry fanciers – have you ever heard of this breed of bird?  Must be some kind of new hybrid.    ~pam


Home again!!

Fling off the shoes!! Pack away the jacket!  Slip into flip flops and tees and make sun tea by the gallon!  I’m home again in SW Florida. 

Traveling is always fun for me.  If the destination is wonderful, that’s even better!! 

We crossed the Ohio on the Cave in Rock Ferry at the tip of southern Illinois.  
My young dog, Sophie, didn't know just what to think.  After this shot, I took her out to the edge of the ferry to see the water.  No, no!  She put all four feet down, nails out against the steel deck.  She isn't a water dog!! 
Taking the side roads and back roads always means interesting things to see.  The opposite side of the ferry is still farm country, but the little towns all had their own individuality.   One tiny burg had a huge Victorian Queen of a house - probably a dozen rooms at least.  It was painted in the gay colors of that era and even had decorative shingle work in it's mansard style roof.  All the other houses in town were little white clapboard boxes with rooms added on as needed.  The Queen looked so regal among her more common neighbors.  

In another town, maybe in Kentucky, I saw a Pamida store.  Hadn't seen one in years.  Tied to one of the light poles was a horse fully saddled - just another 'parked car' on the parking lot.   

Raw soil in the Midwest tends to be yellow clay or deep, dark loam.  As I moved into Georgia, I began to see the well-known red clay.  Now, it's the white sandy soil of Florida.  My houseplants that travel with me will have a shock of bright sun again.  

Go traveling if you can.  It's a fantastic land we live in  ~pam


Travels with my doggies

Time for my annual flight from the winter cold in the MidWest to my home in sunny SW Florida.  I’ve been planning this for a month.  Anxious to leave, but first one thing then another seemed to delay me.  Family activities --- a BBQ, high school football games, and band competitions for me to attend.  Then, the car wanted attention. 

At last!!! Flight to warmer climes in just a few days!!!  Here’s the opportunity to just be rolling along. It gets my blood flowing – almost a euphoria of excitement.  I just love to travel.  Destination isn’t as important travel itself. 
 Rolling south out of MO, I made a sight seeing detour into St.Francois county, MO.   I'm fascinated with the conundrums in life.  this farmstead is probably at least 150 years old.  No one lives there at present it seems, but it was inhabited not long ago - note the TV satellite dish on the porch roof.  ha, ha.  Maybe they were still using the outhouse, but then can watch ESPN.

Have you ever read “Travels With Charlie” by John Steinbeck?  What I’d read of Steinbeck in college was so gloomy.  Not so this book!  I could really relate to his experiences as he drove his self contained rig through 40 states with his dog Charlie on the passenger seat.  There is the way he describes what he sees and the way he uses words, that alone is a pleasure to read.  Here’s a section I really liked ---
If one has driven a car over many years…nearly all reactions have become automatic…This being so, a large area of the conscious mind is left free for thinking…I myself have planned houses I will never build, have made gardens I will never plant, written long detailed letters never to be put to paper, much less sent….And how about the areas of regrets?  If only I had done so and so, or had not said such and such – my God, the damn thing might not have happened.  Finding this potential in my own mind, I can suspect it in others…

I once read some research by grad students indicating some people have born-in wanderlust.  They thought people with Plains Indian backgrounds seemed to have this factor more than others.  Well – in the alphabet soup of my ancestry I do have some American Indian – Choctaw and Cherokee.  Cherokee were an Eastern tribe.  I doubt they traveled beyond their mountain home except at the demand of President Andrew Jackson.  But Choctaw are Oklahoma plains Indians.  So perhaps that explains why I don’t stay in one place long.  A couple of years max and I’m ready for different scenery.  Having my own RV is a bit more sophisticated than a tee-pee, but just as easy to move around.   ~pam


change of place & seasons

Mornings have been dipping into the upper 30’s.  My Florida thin blood has me bundled up with hat, mittens and coat.  My doxie/chichihua mix needs her sweater and stays under the quilt when inside to stay warm.  We’ll be headed south in just a few more days. 

Beauty knows no climate.  Ragweed makes me sneeze, but it’s beautiful on foggy mornings covered with dew.  The horse in the next pasture looks surreal as he watches us walk by.  

 One thing about staying so late in this climate is the remembrance of autumn.  It’s not so evident in a zone 11 climate.  Here, it’s a #5 Agricultural Zone.  The big hay rolls from summer have faded to grey/brown.  Sumac and sassafras are already coloring.  Squirrels have been very busy with the acorns.  I have to be extra careful for invading spiders and mice that would rather spend the winter in my RV safe from the elements.   


Don’t I wish I was sitting on a Gulf Coast beach in Florida right now!  Instead, I’m still in the Midwest waiting for a few more family events before I can return to my adopted home of SW Florida.

It would be hot there.  But - it’s hotter here in the midwest.  But as anyone knows there are different kinds of hot.  Both locations would be sunny and humid.  But the still, windless days of August in the Midwest feel hotter than the same temperature and humidity with a nice salty breeze off the Gulf. 

The change of seasons are more subtle in the deep south.  Here, early signs of fall are seen in the woods and fields.  One of the first to turn into fall color are sassafras trees.  The green of the other trees are a tired, worn out looking green.  Summer itself seems to be tired.  The fencerows sport scarlet patches of sumac and brown dried grasses.  I’m seeing Monarch butterflies and birds are beginning to gather into flocks, practicing for their return to their winter home.  I make my morning coffee while it's still dark. 

In just a few weeks, this snowbird will happily return to SW Florida - to my home of winter sunshine.  I always like to make note of the first palm tree I see on the drive.  One year, I saw them in Montgomery AL.  Of course they were intentionally planted as part of the landscaping in front of a expensive hotel.  No matter!  It meant I was getting close to home!  ~pam


Memories of Lois

This morning I attended the funeral of Lois Brooks.  A recent widow, for 20 plus years she was almost my sister-in-law.  In the first pews sat her immediate family - children and grandchildren.  Beyond those seats were neighbors and friends like me who had come to say good-by.  Those people and their own memories of her are the legacy she left us. 

I remembered episodes of our relationship:  She loved to sing and would sing bits and pieces of songs at unexpected times.  I loved that about her.  Because of her and Wilbur’s winters in Florida, I became a resident there too.  I am grateful to her for that as well.

Sitting in church listening and observing I pondered the end of life questions the Pastor was attempting to answer.  Why are we here?  What happens after we stop breathing?  I like to believe that the essence of who we are, our soul or psyche lives on in a new and different way in a spiritual realm I can only speculate on.

Where do we go, how much of the life we had on earth goes with us? .  Who really knows the answers to those questions?  I guess Lois knows them now.  ~pam


Kansas revisited

 Now why would anyone visit Kansas?  You know all the “Dorothy” jokes about Kansas – hear tales of boring drives across it’s flat expanse – jokes about it’s corny-ness in August.  My two small dogs, Willy (in front) and Sophie (behind him) decided it was best to just sleep through Kansas.  

Well, that’s just what I did.  I visited Kansas in August.  And – I loved it!!  

My excuse is I was born there, so I always have a sense of being home again when I’m there.  To me, its flat prairies and constant wind are an inspiration.  I want to sing out loud, want to swing my arms as wide as the sky and if my 70+ knees would stand it, run against the perpetual wind.  I notice myself breathing deeply as though I could suck in the simple beauty of the rolling Flint Hills dotted with scrubby stands of cottonwood and willow in the draws.  It would be even more beautiful in spring.  But then --- most places are prettier in spring.
 In the above photo I liked the contrast between the abandoned limestone farm house and it's old fashioned windmill with the modern wind turbine you can see faintly in the center rear.  As I continued west along Interstate 70, the windfarms followed the crest of the hills for miles and miles.  If there is one thing Kansas in abundance it's wind and limestone.  

Standing in line at a fast food place, I heard people who talk just like I do – a flat kind of drawl.  I didn’t have to interpret their language and nuances – everyone spoke just like they should speak!  Plainly!  Hee, hee.  It’s all in the ear of the beholder.  
 Visiting Lingsborg, KS on a 100 degree day wasn't as much fun as I wished .  As you can see my doggies have their tongues hanging out.  I quickly closed my panting mouth long enough for a kind stranger to take this photo.  

My recommendation is to visit Kansas if you must, but only in May or September.  ~pam


Well now – have you ever felt like this?  There are days when my old bones do indeed feel just this way. 

I came upon this pair in a prairie dog town between Boulder and Longmont, Colorado on a recent visit there.  It made me laugh to just see them.  I had to stop and get some photos. 

Looking around, I tried to figure out why these two were here.  There was no indication that there was ever a home there.  No crumbled foundation anywhere.  Then again, no home would need a ‘his’ and ‘hers’ would it?  Next, I thought of a church or even a school.  Still, no indication of any building nearby. 

After looking more, I noticed several fallen down, fenced off areas, like paddocks and at the end of the field the type of open ended shelter used for livestock.  Perhaps this had been a stock auction or small rodeo grounds. 

Wouldn’t it be interesting to talk to some of the locals who have been here 50 years?  They’d have the answers.  As it is, speculating on the former life of these old outhouses is as much fun as actually knowing the facts.  ~pam


Summertime - and the livin; is easy. NOT!!

Dawn of a summer morning looks serene and quiet.  Compared to a spring morning with the cacophony of bird song, there is actually little sound to reach the ears.  But, under-laying that surface quiet is the energy bursting from the sun – a different kind of ‘noise’ if you will. 

In high summer, the most fierce energy is the relentless, burning sun.  Thunderstorms which would cool us a bit, if violently so, seem not strong enough to push themselves against the power of the sun.  Even pernicious weeds in fencerows wilt against this intense sun energy. 

Local farmers have labored in 100 degree heat to cut and bale hay for winter use.  Two tractors with sun burned men chug back and forth across the field cutting, drying, windrowing the hay for three searing, hot days before it’s ready to roll up into bales.  A lot of energy in man power, sweat and tractor fuel are flung against the face of the summer sun

A well-known summer resident is the Red Tailed Hawk.  They literally ‘make hay while the sun shines’ in these suddenly scraped fields.  Mice, quail and rabbits have lived safely under cover of the tall hay until now.  It must seem like a war zone.  Hawks dive and strafe the field like fighter bombers.  Mice and rabbits flee in panic to safety under my porch only to find another danger – the teeth and paws of my twelve pound terrier. 

Gershwin wrote “Summertime – and the livin’ is easy”.  Well --- not always or for everybody.


Making Hay While the Sun Shines

I’m not an authentic country girl.  I grew up in a big city of concrete, asphalt and brick.  But – I think I should have been born a country girl.  That’s where my heart lies. 

The farmers around my summer home are working in the worst kind of summer heat cutting and baling hay.  The hotter the sun, the better for putting up hay.  One evening, just before predicted 3 rain free days, I saw his tractor going back and forth across the field cutting hay after dark by the headlights of the tractor.  Twice the next day, he came with a rake and turned over the fresh cut hay to make it dry and cure.  Third day, he was out again doing the same thing.  By evening, he had his baler going.  It rolls along behind the tractor appearing to do nothing.  Then, suddenly, it opens it’s big mouth and spits out a big round bale of hay that goes bouncing across the field to a stop.  Later, they'll line up these big balls along a fence line out of the way of the second cutting in fall.   

Squadrons of Barn Swallows escort me as I mow the field in the early evening with my own little tractor and mower.  I like that analogy.  It makes me think of scenes from old black & white war movies.  All I can see are their flittering silhouettes against the fading summer sky.  They appear from nowhere after my first pass of the field.  Their aerobatics are quite remarkable.  They dive and swoop after dislodged bugs in steep patterns too extreme for even the most accomplished air show pilot.

This field takes almost an hour for me to mow.  By the time I’ve made a dozen passes, I see some swallows sitting on the elec. line, preening and resting.  I suppose they’ve had their fill.  Others are still following me across the field.  The supply of bugs and the supply of swallows apparently is neatly matched. 

Back and forth, across and down I mow over and over and over again.  Somehow, it seems almost meditative.  Not boring at all.- like following a knitting pattern.  Knit 2, Purl 2 around and around. 

Normally I don’t consider myself a patient person.  Waiting for an upcoming trip, waiting in a grocery store line, or for a very long stoplight makes me fume.  But, the kind of patience needed for mowing a field or knitting a sock is strangely comforting.  Why is that?  How is it different? 


Old Dogs & Old Tricks

 Sometimes I’m amused at myself.  My old hands are having trouble doing the most simple things that I’ve done for a lifetime without even a second thought.  My gramma complained about Ol’Arthur who had taken to living with her.  He’s gotten into my right hand and I’m a ‘rightie’.  A round doorknob is so painful to grasp and turn.  I’m gradually changing all doorknobs to the lever style.  The latch on the bathroom door in my rv requires me to press a button in with my thumb to release the latch.  Just can’t do that anymore.  I’m trying to learn to do things with my left hand instead of my right. 

Therein lies the new problem.  I’ve always bragged that I do many things with my left hand.  I play the guitar a bit – left hand fingers the frets.  I use my left hand on a computer mouse and use the keyboard in the correct method – left hand on a,s,d,f.   I knit, crochet and do hand quilting.  All these things require the left hand to do certain things. 

But, HA!      The simple issue of learning to pin clothes to a clothes line with the left hand seems to be impossible!  How many miles of diapers have I hung in a lifetime?  I know how to hang clothes – just do it with my other hand.  Simple, huh?  But my left hand just seems to be a dummy trying to manipulate the pins, squeeze them over the clothes securely and smooth the item with my right hand.  I fumble the pins, drop wet clothes on the ground, pinch my fingers, if I squeeze the pin a bit off center it goes sailing across the ground to be pounced on by my little dog.  It’s funny and frustrating at the same time. 

Probably, the issue is my re-learning curve is pretty steep.  No problem if the left hand was taught it’s duty from the beginning.  But trying to switch?  Pretty tough.  This old dog is struggling to re-learn an old trick.   ~pam


I’m in love with words – how they sound, what they mean and the uncountable shades of meaning they contain.

Sympathy is the word I’m thinking of today.  I’m not going to a dictionary – these are ways I see the use of the word. 

To agree with some one’s opinions or feelings is to be “in sympathy” with them.  When tuning my guitar, sometimes other strings vibrate “in sympathy” or agreement in tone with the one plucked.  In an art sense, two lines with the same curves or angles are said to be “in sympathy” with one another. 

Now enter the conundrum:  In human relationships we offer our sympathy to a neighbor or friend who has gone through a traumatic experience - trying to say, I care, or I want to help.  I always thought it was the kind, caring thing to do.  Just recently, I found out what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this sympathy.  I was surprised at my reaction.  I hated it! 

Recently, in a novel I was reading, the main character has had a series of miscarriages.  She began avoiding friends because she couldn’t stand any more expressions of their sympathy.  Each expression of sympathy from a friend dredged up the pain all over again when she was trying to forget the incident and go on with life.  That’s what I was doing too.  I stayed away from people so I wouldn’t have to dredge up all the crud to explain it and be polite and thankful for their expression of sympathy.  A close relative is experiencing the same avoidance of people who want to express sympathy for the coming elimination of her job of nearly 12 years.. 

Our culture says it’s the caring thing to do – to express sympathy.  I’ve always done that. 

Now, I will try to find another way to express sympathy and caring.  Maybe just a friendly wave, or a chat about something entirely off the painful subject?   If the person wants to talk about the incident, they will.  How do you handle expressions of sympathy?  Have you ever been on the receiving end until your reaction was “Enough Already”?