Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy Birthday Tigger!

I really miss you buddy.
~Love Mom

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

End of the Year Check In

Well it is time again to post my annual end of the  year check in.

The holidays have traditionally been very depressing for me. However, this year was so busy, I didn't really have time to think, much less lament.

Christmas was very frenetic, and almost over scheduled. I had several places to be throughout the day and had to eat at every one.  I felt somewhat obligated to eat at each place and noticed that my energy was quickly waning.  I blew off my last activity, a party of one of my karaoke buddies, quite by accident. My one hour power nap turned into four hours and I missed the party!

I did have time to put together this little list to let you, Darling Reader, know where things are in my life right now.

I continue to "choose joy" every day. And sometimes that means "choosing Joy." And that is okay.

Financially, I am blessed. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table with a little money left over to be a little blessing to others and still have some fun.

I still don't miss the satellite.

I am comfortable in my own skin now. Of course, my new gym habit (3 times a week for over a year old now) has my skin fitting me better than ever. Ha Ha! I am stronger now than I was when I was 30. Along with the strength and toned muscles, I am improving my balance. My cardiologist is impressed with the obvious side effects: a healthier heart! I blew my very first stress test out of the water.

Speaking of the gym, I am a key holder now. They trust me. They have included me in their mission. I am making a difference in people's lives. I think before it is all over, I may become a trainer myself.

I have developed a great group of friends, who love and encourage me. My trainer and her husband, the girls in my toning and lifting classes, the friends I sing karaoke with every week, folks at my church. My bestie, now a grandmother, has been burning the roads up in the six weeks since the grandboy's birth, so I don't get to see her as much as I used to.

I go out with a great group of friends, singing karaoke almost every weekend.  I sing what I enjoy, mostly 70's pop.  "Desperado," "Annie's Song,"and "California Dreamin'" are currently crowd favorites. But my signature song is Natalie Merchant's "Wonder."  My favorite line is "I'm a challenge, to your balance. I'm over your heads, how I confound you and astound you." I try my best to applaud everyone who has the courage to stand in a roomful of strangers and sing. The applause is nice and many tell me that they can tell that I am having fun. Those in the inner circle tell me they are happy to see me having fun again.

Someone pointed out once, that I apparently can't cook, but I came to realize I actually don't LIKE to cook. So I decided to never cook again. I eat pretty well and have been pretty successful at keeping it healthy. I haven't cooked myself a meal in almost a year.  This week, however, my trainer announced that she wants me eating a strictly regimented diet, so I may have to bite the bullet and break out the crock pot.

So many things to look forward to in 2018.

EnJOY it!

Friday, December 8, 2017

I'm Dreaming of a White (Almost) Christmas...

December 8, 2017

Obligatory snow picture


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Iron Bowl 2017

The Auburn Tigers beat (former) #1 ranked Alabama 26 to 14.

And I actually got to watch THE WHOLE GAME!! That is kinda becoming a thing now. Jinx my @$$!

My Gym Family invited me to their home for the game. I had warned them of the "jinx" that had been foisted on me nearly 20 years ago. I cautiously watched the first half , standing half in the kitchen, half in the den. I would peep around the corner but would walk back into the kitchen when I was afraid things were going down hill.

As it turned out, I was worried about nothing. I grew more confident that I was not jinxing my team (however Lee Courso may have helped us out a bit by announcing he felt bama would be and finally was able to settle down on the couch.

 And now, I must watch every game there until the streak is over.  LOL

Hey, it's only crazy if it doesn't work!

There are a couple of things that must happen in order to keep the streak alive.

1) Flex, their 8 month old grandson, must also be present, as does nephew Stone. There was a moment that I may have traumatized the little Flex. Scoring our final touchdown, I screamed. Grandpa Phil simultaneously tossed the little guy into the air in an attempt to make him laugh. Flex gave me the stink eye for the remainder of the evening.
2) Trudi and I can not be out of the room at the same time. We learned this the hard way, thank you second half touchdown. Note to Self; Purchase all provisions prior to the game.
3) Phil has announced that we must all wear the exact same clothes we wore tonight. Yeah, okay, I get that.
4)We will also be eating the exact same food. The cheese dip and chips was meant to be a one time treat, as we are getting serious again next week. Oh well, we all make sacrifices, right?

After the victory, I texted all my other Auburn peeps in celebration of our victory.

Trudi and I hoped into the car to run down to the local coffee shop to purchase a celebratory cup of joe. Because sometimes it could be unnerving when it happened, I thought I'd better warn her about the Bluetooth feature in my car. I had just got out of my mouth, that when someone texted me, the music would stop and the car would ask if I wanted it to read my text, when my brother responded to my text.   What. a great time for a demonstration. My brother, trying to be funny, responded that I must have not been anywhere near a TV, but I happily informed him that I watched EVERY SINGLE DOWN.  He told me that he was impressed. I told Bluetooth that I was done.

"Wow....they really DO get on you about that jinx thing!" Trudi exclaimed, a little wide eyed. 

Yep...for twenty long years.

The aftermath in Auburn is still unfolding. The resulting "blizzard" is nothing short of spectacular!

Can't go to Toomers to be part of the fun, so I had a little fun of my own. I know the neighbors think that I am crazy.

Toomers in the day light is no less spectacular.

So I updated my photo as well.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

5 Signs of an Evil Heart

I came across this article today and felt I should share. So many people I know meet these criteria that I am seriously reconsidering some of my friends and acquaintances. You know who you are.

Sorry Leslie Vernick of the Association of Biblical Counselors. Because of the weird way set up the article, I am having to copy/paste it here instead of linking it here. Bonus: The blue text links back to a Bible app to show the corresponding Bible verse.  Pretty nifty, especially if you don't own a Bible.

So here goes:

1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:810:758:3109:2–5140:2Proverbs 6:13,146:18,1912:1316:2016:27, 2830:14Job 15:35Jeremiah 18:18Nehemiah 6:8Micah 2:1Matthew 12:34,35Acts 6:11–132 Peter 3:16)

2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.

But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:1952:2,357:459:7101:7Proverbs 12:526:23–2626:28Job 20:12Jeremiah 12:6Matthew 26:59Acts 6:11–13Romans 16:17,182 Corinthians 11:13,142 Timothy 3:2–53:13Titus 1:10,16).

3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8Psalms 1036:1–450:16–2254:5,673:6–9Proverbs 21:24Jude 1:8–16).

4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.

They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:101 Peter 2:16Jude 1:4).

5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–1510:2312:1021:27,29Isaiah 32:6Romans 1:302 Corinthians 11:13–15)

Do you know someone like this?

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.
They want you to believe that:

1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.
The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).
The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).

Tim Keller writes,

“If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”1
As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.
The evil person will also try to get you to believe...

2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.
The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18Jeremiah 7:8,10James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).
If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Can an evil person really change?

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).
When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.
Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

One never know who they may encounter at their office. No, this is not me. This is a multi-talented young lady a my office!.She made her costume from scratch, including her wig, skull cap and make up.

I went as, what else, Joy.

Not my best costume. Someone at the gym thought I was Marge Simpson with my blue hair. I know. I am far from spritely, but it was fun.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Where Were You?

Today was Patriot Day. You know ....Nine Eleven.

As it has become my tradition, I share my own personal story of 9/11.

I also post this video. This song makes me cry every time I hear it.

I feel like America has forgotten what happened. And after sixteen years, it's easy to do.
But I wore my yellow ribbon and American flag pin.

We have trainees in the office for the week.  One of the new recruits asked what it was for. He was young. I am sure he was just a child when it all happened. Another, elbowed him in the ribs and said "Duh...Nine Eleven". He kinda cocked his head and muttered, "Oh, I forgot that was a thing."

The hurricane coverage of Irma over the last few days reminds me of the information overload that we all suffered from at that time. The constant barrage of destruction and doom. But I am happy to report that all of my loved ones, friends and acquaintances are safe.

As I sit in my living room and listen as Irma, now a tropical storm, whips the trees in the back yard, I remind myself why I observe today.

2,996 souls.

Never forget.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?

Or in other words,  where were you  when the 2017 solar eclipse came through?

I, as always, was at work.

I did get this nifty souvenir that my boss found on her phone.


Friday, August 11, 2017

How Cool Is This?

I have always been a fan of metal.
Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, Glam Metal. Power Metal.  Heavy, Heavy Metal.

I have also always been a fan of Garth Brooks.

Here, two worlds collide as All That Remains covers Garth Brooks'  "Thunder Rolls."


Monday, June 26, 2017

Oh How Nifty! Guess Who's Fifty?!

Well, I made it! I am officially on the downward side of "the hill"

One thing is certain.... I will have to do double time in the gym! I have been taken out to eat almost non-stop all weekend!

I took myself out to dinner on Friday night to my new favorite Mexican cantina Alamo Bar and Grill in Irondale. I had been dreaming of their homemade street tacos ever since last Saturday's event in the park. The street corn was AMAZING!

The Maternals took me to Papadeaux's on Saturday. The food took forever but when it came it was really good.

Since Saturday night was Cyn's birthday. We have G-free brownie with fruit and ice cream. Yummy!

Sunday lunch found me back at the Alamo, craving shrimp tacos and street corn.  I wandered around South Eastern Salvage to walk that off.

My girls took me to dinner at Seasons 52. The weather couldn't be more perfect for a night out on the patio.  We asked our waiter to take our picture, which he did on the restaurant's digital camera. Midway through dinner, he brought me the photo in the sweetest little card! be continued...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Today is my "Strokeaversary!"

A year ago today I had a stroke. Yeah, I thought I was "too young" to have a stroke too. But surprise, surprise, here I am. Stroke survivor.

In the year since, I have taken charge of my health and have really began to listen to my body. I am healthier than I ever have been before. I am more aware of what goes into my body, work out at least 3 times a week and my strength and endurance have improved dramatically.

I do still notice some after effects. 

I continue to have a lisp, especially at the end of the day when I am most tired. But the bonus to having a job where one talks all day long is that the opportunity to practice pronunciation and over enunciate is never ending.

I still notice weakness on my right side. When we are lifting weights in my class, I can see in the mirrors, that I can't quite raise my right arm as high as my left, Similarly, balance exercises on my right foot are shaky at best. But Trudi says she can see the improvement in me since I started almost a year ago.

There has definitely been some damage to my short term memory. Long term seems fine but I find myself writing things down just to retain it, just from the short distance between my bosses office and my desk. It takes hearing something seven times to commit it to memory. For me, it is more like ten.

The most disheartening is the recall for my vocabulary. Any one who knows me well, knows that the ability to express myself thoroughly, has always been very important to me. I find myself reaching for the most common words. It is like I have lost the ability to form complete sentences.

But I am alive.

And for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


This week I seem to be a day late and a dollar short. Just as I missed posting about my brother's birthday, I also missed posting about my all time favorite major league baseball player, Ryan Klesko.

 Yesterday (June 12) was his 46th birthday.

I have followed Ryan's career beginning in 1995 when Julz and I were living with my grandparents. He led the league in hitting in the 1996 season.  He retired after 15 years of baseball.  A native Californian, he now makes his home in South Georgia with his wife and son.

 Meeting him had been a Bucket List item that I am happy to say, I got to cross off the list.

Happy Birthday Ryan, one day late.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Happy Birthday Baby Brother!!

Yesterday was my little brother's 46th birthday. Seems like yesterday that my parents told me that I would be getting a little brother or sister.

I remember being told they would get this little bundle at "The Baby Store."  Imagine how mad I was when I found out they went without me and that they brought home a brother instead of the sister I had wanted.

I have been told that I warmed up to the little guy. once he actually came home.. He spent the first part of his very young life in the NICU with jaundice. People would ask how I liked my new baby brother. depending on who you asked, I am told that I would answer that he was "nice, but I was ready for him to go home." LOL

I think I will keep him.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Broken Promises

Funny how a something can suddenly stir up a memory.

 Like this song, for example. 

It reminds me of happy times. It is also a reminder of how all the promises mentioned here were broken in an instant.

This musical interlude is brought to you by karaoke, slow dances, and staring lovingly into someone's eyes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


A very Happy Mother's Day to this young lady! Thank you so much for always being my hero, the one-woman team in my corner, the voice in my head that reminds me that, despite what others around me may say, I am valued beyond rubies. I am sorry this journey so far has been  kinda rocky, but you can't say it hasn't been .....educational!

I love you Mom!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Oops! You Stepped In Some Karma There...

"Whoever repays evil for good,
Evil shall never depart from his house"
 ~Proverbs 17:13

Friday, May 5, 2017

Which Me Am I Today?

One of my biggest fears is that I will one day face dementia. 

My mother's mother (who I understand I once called "Meow". not to be confused with my father's mother who I later called " The Original Drama Queen") suffered dementia in her later years. I remember times when she spoke to us as strangers, and one particularly disturbing holiday when she thought my toddler cousin was me and I was my mother.

Having such a young mother, I have been safe from this shadow, but have witnessed heartbreaking and horrific events  with D/H (who's sweet grandmother  kept mistaking him for his father) and through my friends whose parents were older.

It is through one such friend, who's beautiful and doting mother, slipped so suddenly into dementia's demon grip, that I was introduced to the story of   Wendy Mitchell. 

Wendy is a British woman who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's in July 2014 at the age of 58.   She worked full time eight full months after her diagnosis, then chose to take early retirement in order to enjoy her life while she could still could remember it. She is a tireless advocate for dementia awareness and research.

I share her blog Which Me Am I Today?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Until We Meet Again

Today we laid to rest one of my very first friends. I had three other life long friends that I met in kindergarten. Randy had been one of those friends.

When we were in sixth grade, he had been my very first Homecoming "date." I use the word "date" in the loosest of terms: our parents drove us to the game separately and while we sat on the same row on the bleachers, he sat with his friends and I sat with mine. After the half time show, we shared fries and a Coke from the concession stand. Like any other 'tween relationship, it ended that night, as he ran off to play a pick up game of football just outside the end zone, and I went to find my parents.

 When we were in seventh grade, he was stricken with cancer. I don't remember which one exactly but I remember how, with graphic detail, he had described the removal of several feet of intestine. While he was away having chemo, we had an assembly where we discussed his diagnosis, what to expect when he returned, how he lost his hair, but how he was still the same Randy that everyone knew and loved.

I remember it being touch and go at one point.The reality that he might actually die had us all stepping over that thin veil between innocence and knowledge of one's mortality. This was the year that Randy accepted Christ and Easter of that year, I made my profession of  faith as well.

Answered prayer came in the form of a new chemo drug that would eventually save his life. But like every bit of magic, it came with a price. The miracle drug would damage his heart, and cause a host of problems that he would have to deal with later.

Turns out that "later" was now.

Even after beating cancer a second time when we were in our twenties, he faced several set backs. But he never complained. We both got married, started families, and went about life as usual. We would share casual hellos as we passed at Wallyworld.

Randy's life unraveled just a few years before mine did, Within a few months, he got divorced, then lost his job of 15 years. But he always showed concern for others,  had an encouraging word, and would freely pray over the troubles of others. As I transitioned from married to divorces, he checked on me often, shared scripture and words of encouragement, and prayed with me for peace and comfort. He would always remind me that "God has a plan" and would often point out the detours in his own life. After 15 years in insurance, he completely changed focus, nd found a job in his field of study. He also got his personal trainer certificate and met another personal trainer in passing. Soon she was his fiancĂ©, set to marry next month.

Like with many minor illnesses he faced over the years. he was usually admitted to the hospital, and pumped full of antibiotics. This time a nasty sinus infection sent him to the hospital., with difficulty breathing and a high fever. His usual course of treatment did not  make a dent, and soon his organs began failing. By Sunday evening, he was gone.

At his funeral today, his son gave the eulogy. He had really become the touchstone for the family over the past week He made all the decisions over Randy's care, and eventually. the funeral. Just days after signing his father's DNR order, he was delivering the eulogy. He is the same age as Tigger.

I saw people that I have not seen outside of Facebook in over 30 years. After the service we stood around the parking  lot reminiscing and promising to ''get together soon."

Until we meet again, Randy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Gift For Me.

Someone once told me that I only loved myself. At the time, they were very wrong. I loved everyone but myself.  And the way I lived my life proved it. I let people run all over me. I scrimped and saved and sacrificed, over and over again. I let people steal from me and never said anything, because I thought they loved me too.

It has taken me a very long time, but I finally have a gift for me.

I love myself.

I love myself enough to not have to settle for someone who completely ignores me
I love myself enough to not be with someone who only shows affection when he wants something.
I love myself enough to ask questions when things don't add up.
I love myself enough to know the difference between having someone be there for me and just having someone be there.
I love myself enough to be with someone who will think I am his top priority and put my best interest first. To support me. To protect me.
I love myself enough to stand up for myself when things are not right.
I love myself enough to walk away if I need to.

I finally love myself

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Reason Or A Season

They say that people move in and out of your life under one of three phases: a  Reason, a Season or a Lifetime.  There are people that came into one's life for  a Reason, They there to teach a lesson somehow. There are those who are there for a Season. These also bring lessons, but they are typically there to bring one though a phase, resulting in life altering changes. Then there are those who are there for a Lifetime. These are one's family and best. lifelong friends. As I look back over my life, I clearly see people that fall under each of these categories.

 Last night I was reunited with an old friend, I will call The Artist.  I really think that he was sent into my life three years ago for a Reason: that there are still good people around me.

You may remember him as the friend that I had spent time with immediately after my divorce. He was a graphic artist, who was the younger brother of one of my classmates. He was also supposedly the "designer" of a particularly tacky tattoo, that I later learned had been a just hasty scrawl on a bar napkin.

I had stumbled upon him earlier in the week on the same social media that he had taken a break from years ago.. Life happens fast and he said he needed to focus on it. Then we lost touch.

Life happens fast indeed. In the 2 years since, he had gotten a new, better job, got priorities in order,  and bought a house just up the road in my little corner of the world.  Through a series of texts over the week, I found myself as his guest once again, for a movie, and good conversation.  I am always up for intelligent conversation!

Directions to his new home included the warning, "watch for deer." Not surprising for the heavily wooded areas in and around out little town. I had seen more deer standing in my best friends yard in one year than I have my whole life. I proceeded with caution and drove carefully along that winding road not far from my home, lights on bright, scanning the road for deer.. Little did I know that I would happen upon two standing in his driveway. I am pretty sure they were two does, but there could also have been a spike in the mix as I didn't see the second one very well.

He was still as handsome as I had remembered, sporting a head full of thick black hair with just a touch of grey, that matched the smattering of grey in his Vandyke. He gave me a tour of his beautiful new home, which cost surprisingly little more than the rent on his one bedroom Southside apartment. It was sparsely decorated, as any bachelor pad would be, however the furnishings were well thought out and stylish. The living room had a large, square sectional with overstuffed cushions, a round, distressed wood coffee table, with side tables to match,  and a beautiful yellow and gray accent chair. A gray area rug in gray and yellow pulled the room together.

His new job as Creative Director was a great improvement to his last, and he said that he felt he was finally being paid what he felt he was worth. Part of his job involved the operation of a state of the art printing machine that could print, among other things, large aluminum signs for use at the company facilities around the country. He attributed lifting and moving those materials around to keeping in shape.

As we sat in the living room, a large (at least 20 pounds large!) grey cat leapt on the couch between us. He immediately began smelling my coat, then, having deemed me worthy, settled into my lap. His name was Pablo, after Pablo Picasso.  He reminded me so much of my beloved Zipper.

Pablo was quite the cat. He was very interested in my, primarily my coat, which he followed around the room, as I moved it so he would not sit on it. I know he smelled JB on it, a clear signal that I was a "cat person." Once he had decided that he was done with my coat, he settled onto the couch, just to our left, He became immediately interested in the Artist's phone, which lay among the collection of remotes on the coffee table.

The Artist reached out and moved the phone to the couch next to Pablo and unlocked the screen. A bright graphic flashed across the screen. It immediately caught Pablo's attention. As he gazed at it intently, he reached out with his paw and swiped it, as if he as checking his social media. We laughed at him as he scrolled through the pages.

I was very interested in the media delivery options that the Artist had, as he did not have cable either. I had a digital antenna but also heard about firesticks, Roku, streaming sites like Hulu, and such. The Artist had Roku. He showed me how it worked and agreed to help me get it set up once I settled on what I wanted. As we chatted, Pablo continued to scroll through the Artist's phone. He was so enthralled, he did not notice as I snapped his photo.

Conversation came easily and we seamlessly moved from topic to topic. We chatted until midnight, with little regard for the time. Though we started Blazing Saddles (an irreverent classic, that I am certain would not be released today) but it was little more than background noise. At 12:30, yawning, I said my goodbyes.

As I drove home, I wondered why this friend suddenly popped back up in this time in my life.
A reason or a season.

Either way, I am enjoying the lesson.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Goodbye Hot Stuff

I was deeply saddened to learn that a lifelong friend had gained his wings yesterday.
I knew him from church. We grew up together. Youth trips and choir tour.

 He was the main reason I got involved with the Miracle League.

He was a fixture with the Moody Blue Devil Marching Band. They called him "Hot Stuff." He could be seen marching out front, waving a flag, emblazoned with that nick name. He was even featured on a local new show.

Things will never be the same without you Gentry.

You will be missed.

On a related and horribly tragic note:

Gentry's visitation Thursday packed out the church I once attended. When I reached the front, I hugged his mother, who mused what she would do now that her "shadow" of 54 years was gone.  His step father, a man my kids called "Mr. Johnny," sat beside her, wheelchair bound, his oxygen tank behind him. He was so horribly frail that he would often stop to rest his head in his hands on the pillow in his lap. I chatted briefly with Gentry's brother and his wife. Our sons had played football together many years ago.

The funeral was held during the day on Friday. I am told Mr. Johnny passed out and was rushed to the hospital.

He died on Saturday.

Please keep Miss Gayle and the family in your prayers as she deals with losing both a son and a husband in the same week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine:s Day!

Today as Valentine's Day, or as I have come to call it, just plain old February 14th. 

It used to be a day set aside for fun and excitement and a tangible commitment of love. Now it is just another day. All the fake gestures of my past life were just that. Fake.

Being sick since last Thursday (not the flu though, like Dooder! Just a nasty upper respiratory infection) the last few days at work have been nothing less than challenging. 

Yesterday, I left work yesterday before lunch, after nearly coughing up my right lung. The rest of the day was a fever-induced blur, that included falling asleep on the bench at the pharmacy, and cutting my finger open, but only God knows exactly how.  I do remember receiving a Valentine's card from the Maternals but not much else. After waking up in cold sweat sometime around 2:00 a.m. I thought today I was good to go.

Feeling a little more peppy, I headed off to work.  Around 8;30 a.m. KitKat sent me a text  to remind me that I would always be her Valentine and that all I do for her does not go unnoticed. Hacking a coughing my way through the day, my condition began to decline. Apparently I was not crushing it like I thought I was, as my boss sent me home around 3:00 p.m. today. I dutifully arrived home, changed into my pajamas and crawled under the covers.

I must have nodded off because I was awakened by the phone ringing. It was a number I did not recognize.  I answered, and a cheerful little voice on the other end of the line asked if I as Joy. I said that I was. The cheerful voice said she had a message from Julz. Still groggy from sleep, I asked what she said again, and she repeated that she had a message from Julz. Someone else in the back ground, a male voice, said " We are going to SING it to you"

The next think I know, I am being serenaded by none other than the UAB ACapella Choir!  It was beautiful! Probably the best Valentine's gift I have received in a very, very long time.
At the end of the song, the cheerful voice wished me a Happy Valentine's Day!

I texted Julz to thank her for the very sweet message. She was delighted that I had enjoyed it.

Highlight of a day that had been pretty rotten up to that point.

Here is the song they sang in unmatched harmony.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Goodbye Mr S

I just came from the memorial service of the Doc's father, Mr S.  The Doc had been a groomsman in my wedding to D/H. From what limited contact I have had with him over the years. mostly from the Doc's birthday parties, I remember Mr S, as a good man, who loved his family and had a wonderful sense of humor.

I  came in early and found everyone sitting watching the slide show. I was greeted warmly and told I had been missed and how good I looked now. Someone also mentioned that the ex didn't deserve me.  I sat between PB and Officer T, which I later learned were the Doc's two closest friends. Not what I had been led to believe before.  We all chatted as the pictures in the slide show flipped by, laughing at the hairstyles and the clothing and how much everyone had changed.

The box with Mr S's ashes sat on a table down front, on top of the family tartan. His corporate headshot sat on a stand behind it. Mr S  was a very handsome man, and I could see a lot of him in Doc.

When the service began, the Doc's oldest sister read his obituary and shared a funny little story The second oldest sister, the one who was my age, went next. She did a brief reading and also shared a story. The Doc went last. He read a poem entitled “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me." As it was nearing it's climactic point, a picture of Mr. S during his hospital stay, shooting a bird at the camera flashed across the screen. The congregation burst out in laughter. Bewildered, Doc looked up from his paper. Everyone pointed toward the screen, and he exclaimed "Right on Dad" and finished his reading.

Mr S's childhood best friend made the trip from Missouri to be there. He shared some great memories. This started a steady stream of folks who added their memories to those before them. Mr S would have loved his service, filled with laugher and love.

In the end, we stood around outside catching up. Officer T was surprised to hear my brother had retired and was on his second LEO career. PB was up from the coast. I  was invited back to Mrs. S's house, where I am sure the party continues. But with stuff to do back a the house, I chose not to go.

When I go on to my Great Reward, that is what I want. I want funny stories and laughter.

Goodbye Mr S. I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


I started this blog several months ago. A lot has happened. I am getting to it as I can.

I have a little bit of back tracking to do. The month of July was a blur. Until my mother (who seems most interested in this blog) pointed out that I skipped over Father's Day and most notably, my stroke.

I had been preparing for Father's Day for a couple of months. The "movie box" idea had been such a hit, that I decided to do it again.  I spread it over a couple of paychecks so it wasn't a hit to the pocketbook all at once and I started gathering snacks I thought my Fathers would enjoy.

I already knew that I wanted to put "James Bond" movies in it. I selected a Sean Connery version and my favorite Bond flick "Live and Let Die" which the jacket claimed was the first appearance of Roger Moore. It also introduced the lovely Jane Seymour to international movie audiences. Also notable was the first African American Bond Girl Rosie Carver, which was ground breaking for 1973.  This movie scared the bejezuz out of me when it first aired on television about 1975, thanks in part to Geoffrey Holder painted up like a skull.

When I woke up on June 20th, my right arm was numb. I had that tingly, pins-and-needles feeling one gets when one has fallen asleep on their arm. I was very fatigued and felt almost as tired as I did when I went to bed.  As I showered and started getting ready for church, I didn't notice anything unusual, until it was time to put on my eyeliner.  That was when I realized that not only could I not close my fingers around the brush, I also couldn't reach my eye with my hand.  Trying to draw a straight line across my lid was an exercise in futility.. "I must be really tired, " I thought to myself as I regarded my reflection. Not bad looking, but not great looking either.  Trying to style my hair also presented a challenge, as lifting the hair dryer with  my right arm left me exhausted.

I went on to church and the only noticeable issue was that I could not seem to write legibly. It was almost like I could not grip the pen. My sermon notes are little more than a scrawl.  That was very concerning, but I felt okay other than the fatigue.

I went home before meeting Mother and the Chief at a local restaurant for lunch. I fell up the stairs to the porch, but didn't think much of that. I also had to carry something out to Julz at her job. I drove out there on the way to meet the parental units. 

Dooder joined us for lunch. He had an interesting day in Whistle Stop and was happy to share the latest tale. Naturally, I did not have the opportunity to say anything. I stumbled again walking back to my car and at that point, the Chief asked me to smile and pull back on his hands, simple stroke tests that they had learned after Mother's TIA. They deemed me normal and sent me on my way.

I then drove to my father's home. I was getting more and more fatigued, so as my speech started to  slur, I really thought that it was because I was so tired. After less than an hour, I was headed home. I fell into bed, too exhausted to even change out of my jeans.

Two hours later, I did not feel any better. My arm was still numb and weak. I called my Cyn, who used to be a nurse. Later she told me that she knew something was wrong the moment that I spoke because she could not understand a thing that I was saying.  She said, "I will be right there" and then she whisked me away to the E.R., though I really thought she was being overly cautious.

That reminded me of some of my last emergency room trips: my appendicitis which D/H had thought was "just gas,"  or the day I had a sudden bout of vertigo (that the doctor initially thought was a stroke),  brought on by a debilitating sinus infection, and he reluctantly left work to come to the ER, or the trip where I had been seeing stars for two days (my birthday by the way), that turned out to be a stroke-level blood pressure event. He didn't even bother to go with me because he thought that I was "being dramatic" and sent Tigger with me instead.  I wonder what he would have said about this event, or if I would have had to drive myself to the hospital. Probably. Loving, Caring, Supportive Husband, huh?

We arrived at the ER and Cyn , who also worked for an ambulance company while putting herself through nursing school, gave report to the very impressed triage nurse. "Wow!" she had said, "I have never had anyone give me proper report who wasn't on a truck ( for those outside of emergency medicine, that's the rescue vehicle or ambulance)."

Cyn and I laughed as we people watched.  Night time ER trips present the most interesting people. After about 45 minutes they called me back.

They started an IV (which I hate but the 22 year old nurse had a gentle hand so it wasn't so bad) and sent me for a CAT scan.  In that area of the hospital, the ceiling tiles resembled a blue sky, with fluffy white clouds. I thought as I rolled under them, had I been unconscious and woke up to this, how much it would have freaked me out.

When the doctor came in, he looked me dead in the face and said "You are having a stroke."  I immediately burst into tears. As they started the first bag of Heparin, Cyn went to call my parents, who were by this time, getting ready for bed. My mother starts her routine so she is ready to start relaxing at 9:00 p.m., so someone had "better be dying" to call that late.  I guess this would qualify.

Because of the Heparin drip, I was no longer allowed to leave my bed for any reason. This made me furious.

Cyn has always been my voice of reason, like part of my brain, the calm, logical side,   my "Jiminy Cricket" if you will.  She knows me really well, well enough to know when I was at the end of my rope and had all I could take. I was going down fighting. She apologized to the 22 year old when she came to take, what seemed like a quarter of my blood. She apologized to the PA when I went on a tear about NOT using the bed pan (a very undignified practice for someone who was able bodied).  I was having "have a Snickers" moments and bruising feelings all around me. My "filter" was fading by the minute.

"You are a little brusque there Sunshine." she commented, after my rant to the intern who had brought me a sandwich for my dinner, despite both of us telling everyone about my gluten issue.  When my parents arrived, both sets,  she spoke to them out in the hall. Probably because I was being so unabashedly candid.  My tongue felt thick as I spoke and I could not control my slurring. That frustrated me. I was unaccustomed to not being able to express myself and my lack of tact was alarming. If it came to my mind, it came out of my mouth.

The ER doctor was too busy to speak to my parents, and my mother tired several times to speak to someone. When he finally came in, they peppered him with questions.  I was mad because I take a handful of blood pressure meds so I wouldn't have a stroke, and yet, here I was having one.  He said "sometimes it just happens." Great

Because they had no available beds, I had to spend the night in the ER. At shift change I got a male nurse, which made the whole "not getting out of bed to pee" thing even more uncomfortable. I finally nodded off to sleep somewhere around 1:00 a.m.

I was up bright an early the next morning. My speech had improved dramatically after being on blood thinner all night. An orderly came to take me for an MRI, which was a new experience for me. They gave me ear plugs and put a mask over my eyes. The machine hummed and clicked in a rhythmic sing-songy manner, that almost put me to sleep. After it was over, they placed me , bed and all, in the corner between radiology and the hall to the ER. I waved and smiled and spoke to everyone that rolled by me. It felt so good to be able to talk normal again

 Soon my brother turned the corner, carrying a Styrofoam box with my breakfast. He hopped on the end of my bed and cracked jokes until the transport came to carry me to the ICU unit.

I was placed in SICU as the CICU was full. As long as I was on the blood thinner, I needed to be "monitored" and "assisted" when I left the bed. The nursing staff said that they were not accustomed to having patients that were "awake."  The window of my room overlooked the parking lot and driveway on the back side of the hospital.

. My brother thought it would be funny to fill out the dry erase board in my room.

That night the neurologist nearly fell asleep while talking to me.  I waved at my cardiologist every time he walked through the unit, but no one bothered to consult him. I was given generic versions of my blood pressure meds despite having my own with me.  My blood sugar was deemed extremely high, and I was soon getting regular insulin injections.

Over the next few days, both  my girls took turns coming and sitting with me, as did my mother. I was still not allowed out of bed without assistance but had become a pro at unhooking and hooking up all my monitors and iv's.

Despite the injections and new meds, neither my blood sugar, nor my blood pressure were getting any better. In the third day my BFF and the charge nurse had words and someone finally consulted my cardiologist. He adjusted my blood pressure meds and things started progressing.

After 4 days in the SICU, I was thankfully moved to the step down unit and could move about without an audience. As soon as I could, I took a much needed shower and slept like a baby undisturbed.

By the end of the next day I was released into the care of my BFF. My office sent these lovely hydrangea to me at her home.

I spent the next several days with my BFF's house, including our birthdays.
The following week I had the venous ablation on my left leg. This alleviated the uncomfortable tightness and swelling I had been experiencing over the past several years. My mother was careful not to carry me to Wallyworld, based on previous experience with me on valium.

It also corrected the varicose vein that popped up, way back when I was pregnant! Bonus!!

My cardiologist wanted me on a structure exercise regiment. I joined the gym that my brother works out at, that happens to be owned by a former classmate. I have been attending classes twice a week since August.

Just a few weeks ago, I had my right leg corrected as well. During the primary tests, it was discovered that the pressure in the bottom of my left leg increased dramatically. I wound up having to have an additional procedure on my left leg.  My BFF took me and enjoyed my antics while on the valium.

I was told that my stroke was a mild one. I would hate to know what a major one was like! I can tell when I am fatigued that my tongue  gets thick and I struggle to enunciate properly.
I continue to have short term memory issues and at times, words escape me. I sometimes confuse similar sounding words.  I have always prided myself on my extensive vocabulary, and this has been the hardest part to overcome. When I have a hard time expressing myself, I usually laugh it off, point at my head, and announce "stroke brain." I am also working to regain my "filter."  Sometimes being tactful is a struggle.

I am now officially a diabetic, though my new primary care doctor thinks that I can beat it.
 I also must wear a medic-alert bracelet identifying myself as both a diabetic and a stroke survivor, but haven't, as of yet, found one that I like.

I am often asked what my stroke felt like (it didn't hurt at all) and if I had known I was having a stroke would I have gone to the hospital sooner (well, duh)  and the ever annoying "Are you feeling okay?'

I renew my belief in my motto for life, the one that I borrowed from Gene Simmons
"Any day above ground is a good day."


Friday, January 6, 2017

Here We Go Again....

So here we are again, on the cusp of a winter storm.

Seems Familiar.

Sunday, January 1, 2017