Are Clams Really Happy?

Dear Reader:

Have you ever wondered how the expression “Happy as a clam” came about….I mean, really, how does anyone know they are happy? They make me happy when I eat New England clam chowder but I don’t think dying for my personal happy tastebuds is what happy clams are all about?

I discovered that the problem with the expression “Happy as a clam” is the fact that these four words are only  half of the expression. It comes from the fuller version of the phrase, now rarely heard – ‘as happy as a clam at high water’. Hide tide is when clams are free from the attentions of predators; surely the happiest of times in the bivalve mollusc world. They can eat happily without fear of  being eaten at high tide.

The more I thought about this expression and its origin the more I realized it is a great simile to modern society. After all, aren’t we at our happiest when we feel like we are riding on top of the waves at high tide and for a little while we can rest, gather our strength, and feel secure from hidden obstacles/enemies lurking in the murky waters of life?

I was ‘happy as a clam’ to see Stephanie and her beautiful daughter, Lauren, stop by yesterday afternoon with a bag of tomatoes they had picked from the fields on Wadmalaw island. She even brought some green ones to make “fried green tomatoes” if I so desired. Thank you Stephanie and Lauren for thinking of me….I had the most luscious tomato sandwich for supper last night.

Besides bringing me tomatoes they both came to my aid too. Remember the Mexican heather I had gotten and placed temporarily on the new iron-wrought planter. Since (supposedly) it is going to rain today…I thought it would be a good time to plant the heather. The problem was… I could not, for the life of me, get the plants out of the cannisters.

So while showing the girls around the garden I asked them if they would mind trying….and prayed they didn’t pull them out with no effort…that would have been embarrassing. They did struggle and it took both of them get the two plants out…but they were successful…great mom and daughter team! Thank you girls!!!

After they left I got them both planted….come on rain…rain!


I replaced the heather with containers of more purple and yellow…love the combination. It is so much fun changing out the flowers/containers every few days. Keeps it fresh for me.




One never knows when “6 degrees of separation” will pop up at the most extraordinary moments. *I have been completely caught up in the PBS mini-series on Sir Edmund Hillary…simply called Hillary…it comes on Sunday evenings at 6….there are six episodes and I have watched the first two. I am mesmerized…fantastic true story of this amazing New Zealander and his successful quest to be the first man to climb Mt. Everest.

He was also a devoted husband, father and philanthropist….he died in 2008 at the age of 88 (which is ironic he lived that long) since he had three near-death experiences during his adventure-some life.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of his passing and the people of Nepal and the Himalayas (for whom he helped build schools and set up towns) held a large memorial service for him.

In 1985 he accompanied Neil Armstrong in a small-engined plane over the Arctic Ocean and landed at the North Pole. Thus he became the first man to stand at both poles and reach the summit of Mt. Everest! Humble, giving, down-right shy….Hillary left a light that can still be seen and felt by millions.

It was while I was reading articles about Hillary (when news spread of his death) that a noteworthy quote of praise from fellow mountain climber and New Zealander, Graeme (Graham) Dingle, shot out at me.

I immediately pulled his biography and was blown away. He had gone on several mountain climbing expeditions with Hillary and still leads a quite similar noble life (as his friend Hillary)… giving back to others and starting a school for young people named after Sir Edmund Hillary. Wow…a famous mountain climber and philanthropist Dingle in New Zealand…who knew?

I talked with Tommy about my discovery….he got interested in pulling more articles but also sent me this link that I started at 8 yesterday morning and finished at 9. A good hour read on Sir Edmund Hillary with Dingle referenced in it several times. I will provide the link…but set aside some time for it if interested….a fascinating glimpse at a fascinating individual.

auckland, new zealand: where the writer finds a lovely city built on volcanoes, publicly listed phone numbers, and many signs…

So until tomorrow….Thank you Father for daily surprises showing us how connected we all are and how unexpected friends bringing “maters” can put a smile on our faces!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh







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Getting Caught Up in the “Tic for Tac” Game

Dear Reader:

Don’t we wish that this would be the scales we were asked to step on when being weighed at our doctors’ offices? No fear of a negative or hurtful comment.

After a decade of cancer treatments with a diverse range of treatment options….some medicines (combined with everything else I have to take daily) actually make me start losing weight…while other treatments make me gain. No rhyme or reason…just the way ‘the boat floats.’

In the big picture…I should be past all the weight concerns by now…it seems pretty petty to me and I hate to admit to myself that height and weight should bother me at all…when fighting a potentially life-threatening disease. True confession…it does.  Maybe it is just being a “girl” and wanting to look as good as possible for as long as possible.


When my weight has fallen I wear heavy boots and heavier clothing to appointments and when the opposite has happened…I wear light clothing and light flats….because no matter what kind of appointment it is…for whatever reason…it does seem like we patients have to weigh in before we can get through the maze of room bringing us closer to “the” room where the doctor will see us.

I have decided humor goes a long way to alleviating stress about vital statistics information. Thank goodness I am still 5’4″ and haven’t shrunk yet which is remarkable and that makes me happy. I, usually, will make some positive comment after my height has been measured like I am not as vertically challenged as I could be by now.” The nurse usually smiles and nods.

If the weight seems more heavily disproportionate to the height I might add…“I am not too vertically challenged…I’m just short for my weight.” 

I just found another good comeback that I really like…will save it for my next appointment: “I’m not short, I’m just more down to earth than most people.” 🙂

Don’t we all wish that we were spontaneously witty enough to have the perfect “comeback” to any negative comment or remark aimed at us by others?

We are not alone…if you ever listen to a famous comedienne a lot of their material is based on witty comebacks to negative comments. I caught Steve Martin telling this old joke a long time ago when he was doing a stand-up show and for some reason it has stuck with me.

It was an old “Good News, Bad News” joke. It went like this:

A man went to the doctor to get his diagnosis report from some earlier tests run. As soon as he walked in…the doctor said he had some “Good news and bad news“… which did the patient prefer to hear first?. The patient said, “Let’s get the bad news over with first.”

Well, said the doctor, you have an extremely rare terminal disease.”

My gosh doctor, the patient gasped, then how could there possibly be any good news?” 

The doctor smiled triumphantly and proclaimed  “We have decided to name the disease after you!”

I love this comeback too…aimed at the incessant talker.

“Oh I’m sorry…did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?”

Quinn Caldwell (theologian/author) has a different perspective on the use of the power of comeback remarks…depending on whose power is being regaled.


They call it l’esprit de l’escalier.  It’s French for “the spirit of the stairs,” or more to the point, “the stair wit.”  It’s the perfect retort that comes to you too late—when you’re on the stairs leaving the party. 

My brain tends to take a little longer to warm up, and so I have l’esprit de la salle de bain, the spirit of the bathroom.  My esprit usually kicks in the next morning, standing at the bathroom sink.  And when it does, watch out.  My tongue is as sharp as the razor in my hand, my wit as bubbly as the toothpaste that rimes my lips as I declaim and dream of my verbal impact.

Telemarketers weep openly and change their ways.  Rude people examine their motives.  The girl who said that thing to me in sixth grade calls up to apologize.  Siblings admit I’m right.  People everywhere are so stunned by my verbal hammerstrokes that they do not even notice the dental floss between my teeth.  I am victorious.  I am…Job.

*(So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.  Then Elihu son of Barachel the Busite, of the family of Ram, became angry.  He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God…” – Job 32:1-22)

Few people in the Bible are more eloquent or, frankly, more right in what they’re saying.  But here’s what Elihu points out: all Job’s powerful speeches?  Every one of them is about him.  Every one of them is designed to justify himself, to prove himself to the people around him.  Not one of them is spoken to justify God.

Job actually has a good excuse for that, but I do not.  So I wonder: what if I spent less time devising brilliant speeches that show the world how awesome and clever I am, and more time devising speeches that show the world how awesome and clever God is?  What if I thought of fewer things to say to cut jerky people to the quick, and more things to say that would show them God?

It’s a tall order, but I’m going to try to do it.  Because as Elihu knows, if all you’re doing is justifying yourself and not God, no matter how witty you are, you’re just spitting toothpaste at the mirror.

So until tomorrow…“Holy God, protect me from l’esprit de l’escalier.  Send your Holy Spirit instead, and fill me  with words to turn the world towards you. Amen.”

(Source: Quinn Caldwell-Stillspeaking Daily Devotional)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh




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“How to Die Young…As Late As Possible” – Try HAM

Dear Reader:

I just welcomed my newest addition to the garden that I got at the Vintage South L.L.C. antique shop last Friday. The price was so.o.o..o low on this wrought iron planter…so much so that I couldn’t just walk away….I placed it next to the yellow bench so I could enjoy it while I listened to the fountain.

It is filled with two pots of Mexican Heather, and two pots of “Crown of Thorns.” I love the purple and yellow together (added the yellow C of T after this picture was taken…it is in the title photo.) At some point I will plant them in the ground but will enjoy them right now on the planter for awhile.

I plan to add purple hearts (in honor of Ben) to my garden and more creeping jenny…both of these can take this extreme heat and humidity. These containers are in front of the antique store….beautiful natural decor with creative containers. (Thanks for the name recall Doodle 🙂

Just one addition to the garden or yard sends my happy endorphins jumping in delight. I remember, after all my surgeries for breast cancer, being afraid that  the surgeons had  removed my endorphins along with some of my lymph nodes….but now I realize they are neurotransmitters that affect the nervous system…in a good way….actually a healthy way. I am just glad I have some.

As you can imagine…healthy eating goes a long way towards a life of longevity, as well as keeping the mind sharp…but perhaps the most important thing is keeping our “spirits high by living out our passions, having a sense of service to others, and a feeling of outgoing accomplishment.” 

In today’s society there is a startling increase in anxiety disorders among both genders and strangely enough found in children through senior citizens. What is going on?

Remember the classic “hit” movie “Back to the Future”? It was an enjoyable comedy with a great sub-theme….live in the moment! (When we “chew the cud” like our fellow bovid  friends, we don’t do it with green grass…we chew the “worry cud” over and over and over.)

***Think about it….Worrying is being trapped somewhere in the future!  Worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is a matter of not being in the present moment but in a future moment.

Statistics show that 80 to 90% of what we worry about, never comes about. Unfortunately what does come about is …high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and other physical disorders brought on by over-anxiety, worry, and stress…the “silent killers.”

So whenever a life challenge arises, big or small, we should H-andle it, A-ccept it, and M-ove on!  In other words “Ham it!”

(Resource: 100 Ways to Be Young at Any Age– Bob and Fran German)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Trying my best to get more butterflies in the garden…so planted this “butterfly weed” and hope it likes the location…time will tell.





Look who is coming to see me all the time now…Sammy, my reformed cardinal. He eats from the suet cage and then turns round and flies right by my window as if waving at me….yes. Sammy and I have bonded at last! 🙂

Susan Cadwell came to Summerville for  the weekend to spend time with her grandchildren and see Bekah and Ady join the Bethany United Methodist Church. From the bottom of my heart I thank you Susan for bringing me a special pillow to use in the car (and elsewhere) to ease my sciatica pain! We went out to the garden and Ady had fun swinging and trying out the tree house.




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Hope and Happiness Comes in All Different Forms

Dear Reader:

Yesterday I was carrying some bags of groceries inside and doing my ridiculous juggling act on the porch….trying to keep the storm door open while balancing groceries and turning the door knob (on the main front door) all at the same time.

When I glanced back to see if the storm door was going to catch me before I got in, a little spot of red appeared out of nowhere. I ignored it and hurried inside just as the storm door slammed behind me. I got as far as the sofa and just let everything fall on it. And then plopped down myself. Whew! When am I ever going to stop trying to get everything in the house in one trip instead of two or more? I really make life harder on myself than necessary sometimes.

When I finally caught my breath and unloaded the groceries suddenly that little spot of red I saw before scurrying inside reappeared in my memory. Curiously I walked outside and looked down at ” Big Red”…it still looked skeleton frail but tiny beginning signs of new growth under the leaves were just starting to show.

And then I saw it…the red spot was one part of a tiny bloom peeking through the spokes on the white bench. Oh my goodness….the first bloom since “Big Red”  and its surgery…including amputation. I had to let Luke and Chelsey know…so I texted them the picture. They were so happy but poor Luke had really had a Friday the 13th unlucky day with his truck breaking down on the way to work….so he said he needed some happy news.

Cindy Ashley sent me a a preview on a creative writing course that looked so interesting titled: “The Course of Your Life: Igniting Personal Story Through Philosophy.”

It is all about achieving the state of “Eudaimonia” – A Greek word meaning reaching a sustainable complete and flourishing life. This type of happiness is more synonymous with the word fulfillment.

In a nutshell it means understanding that leading a virtuous life is a fulfilling happy life. It doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles in our way….there really is no “Happily ever after” but with courage, faith, and virtue a person can sustain an elated euphoric sense of achievement over negativity and wrong-doings witnessed in every day life.

Philosopher Margaret Nussbaum believes “certain moral truths are best expressed in the form of a story.” (After reading this statement my mind immediately raced back “To Kill a Mockingbird” and its prevailing theme of racial prejudice.) How true….and what about “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” anti-slavery book (Harriet Beecher Stowe) and its effect on the Civil War.)

The impact attributed to this book was and still is so great, especially reinforced by the famous story that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”

It is only when we examine human obstacles that we are able to tell our greatest stories. “We become merciful when we behave as the concerned reader of a novel, understanding each person’s life as a complex narrative of human effort in a world full of obstacles.”

This last quote got me thinking that (from my personal perspective) there is no way to truly seek the “pursuit of happiness” without mercy being extended to the pursuer and then being extended back to the giver.

Haven’t we all fallen short of grace and realized we can only truly be happy or fulfilled if forgiveness and mercy are extended both ways?

“Mercy” is a word that we don’t normally hear much any more…especially in the news. It has quietly become somewhat obsolete…yet I can’t help but think that a little more “mercy” shown when dealing with others would go a long way to changing lives from fear and helplessness into lives of hope and fulfillment.

And then it happened….with or without the word being verbally expressed mercy, in its kindest stage, jumped into action to help the Thailand Navy Seals successfully rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach after 18 days stranded in a Thai cave. The rescue efforts brought immediate international assistance from around the world and kept people riveted and cheering for the young soccer team for days….along with prayers and songs.

We might not have heard the word “mercy” much but we certainly heard the other “m” word….”MIRACLE!” And guess what…the successful rescue restored hope in human nature and happiness for and from all humanity. And as far as I am concerned…that was the real miracle!

True stories still move us ..and obstacles have a way of breaking down racial and cultural barriers….if only for a short time.

So until tomorrow…

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Thursday evening as it was getting dark I remembered I had forgotten to check the mail…we had a late rain shower that afternoon. As I was re-crossing the street I looked at my home and saw its backdrop painted in blues and pinks. My iPhone couldn’t begin to pick up all the subtle colors that made the scene so beautiful but I will end the blog with it anyway….because it made me feel so happy and fulfilled… a state of EUDAIMONIA!


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Permanence Lives in the Unseen

Dear Reader:

I remember during my childhood seeing these five letters a lot. They would pop up at the end of a movie or a short story or novel. I remember asking mother what it meant and she told me it meant the “end” or “finish.” She went on to explain that it came from Latin. Today, of course, one rarely sees this term, except maybe in old, old movies, foreign films, or dusty books.

This sketch ( B. Hay Gilbert) was at the end of Archibald Rutledge’s “Life’s Extras” vignette of thoughts and tales. I love the sketch…Haven’t we all imagined that the “finis” of our own lives will result in the opportunity to pull back the “veil” between this world and the next to see what really lies behind the portal of the new life to come?

Nature, in the form of my garden, has taught me more about life and death than anything else to date. I believe God gave nature to us as one of His most valuable “extra” gifts….a teaching gift that keeps on giving throughout our lives…a gift that demonstrates the fragile “curtain” between our life here on earth and the next world.

One day, while going through a a period of grief Rutledge walked through the woods and was given an epiphany to help him accept the loss of life.

“God seemed very near to me in that wood; the beauty of it all trembled with His grace; the music of the birds and trees held His voice. I saw there both life and death- in the green leaves and the brown, in the standing trees and the fallen. If one is honest with himself when he asks the question, What is it that perishes? he will be obliged to answer, Everything that the eye sees. 

In the forest, amid those things that God has provided, I came to understand that if we are to hold anything-and in times of sorrow we must have something to which we can cling-it must be to the unseen.

 For strength that is permanent, we have to lean on visions; for immortal hope, we have to trust and have faith, not from the things we perceive but those invisible things that our spirits affirm.”

After reading this…I waited until the summer heat began to cool and the sun started its westward descent before looking for life and death played out right before me. Such as…

The thriving rosemary and deceased french lavender (I have never been able to get lavender to grow in my garden…just doesn’t happen, no matter how diligently I care for it.)

Red-tipped bushes that Doodle gave me for my birthday years ago….(left alone) nature turned them into trees right by the tree house….so pretty in the fall and cooler seasons with their red tips. The red-tips are on the border line and right behind them, the woods have been left alone by my neighbor….it is a cemetery of dead branches/trees. Life and death.

Varieties of yellow flowers fill my garden because I love yellow so much….but sadly my beautiful pale yellow petunia basket died this past week…no amount of watering helped…too hot…too humid.

Archibald Rutledge’s observations are true…everything we see visually with our eyes will die at some point in life…only the “invisibles” … hope, faith, and love will see us through this life into the next.

So until tomorrow…As I was leaving the garden a shadow fell across me. Clouds began gathering for a late afternoon shower 🙂 and as one cloud pulled away I looked up and saw the tall, tall, long-leaf sunflower smiling down at me. Life is beautiful in all its brevity!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


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Some Days We Just Need a “Baby Day”

Dear Reader:

I remember hearing some time back a quote from an unknown author that went something like: “A Baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”

I needed to remember that quote and I needed an “Eloise” day to forget the current misery and sadness affecting so many innocent children and families right now. I would love to hear God’s reassurance, that not only will life go on, but love will reign supreme.

A sleeping child…is there anything better? When I went to check on Eloise (taking her morning nap) I listened to her soft breathing and remembered an old saying…  that while babies sleep angels are whispering to them the secrets of guardian angels and unconditional love.

It has been a few weeks since I last kept Eloise by myself and as we all know babies can completely transform themselves during that amount of time. The last time I returned to her house… she had become a “dolphin” flipping over to the right and left.

This time she reminded me of a loggerhead turtle…pulling itself up as high as possible and then pulling its head up to look around. After I read her a “texture touch” book she pulled it from me and rolled over on the carpet to read it herself…already mimicking me. The sad thing about a third child is that he/she doesn’t stay a baby long. She will grow up faster than her older siblings by watching them and wanting to imitate them.

She also demonstrated (while I was taking her picture with oldest brother, Rutledge) that she can fend for herself quite well.

She also wants to feed herself….at six months she is starting on baby food-sweet potatoes- and I admittedly lost the lunch battle yesterday…when the spoon would go flying across the table at the end of a ‘tug of war’ scene. (And it started out so well…I thought I was going to win this one. But no…)

(Kaitlyn, believe me…even with your funny video when you fed her last Sunday…you did better than I did. I tried to clean her up in the bathroom sink, after lunch, but she thought it was bath time and get trying to slide in…we both looked like we had gone swimming by the time the ‘clean-up’ was complete.)

We spent most of the time playing upstairs in her room where it is softly carpeted….she looks like G.I. “Jo” crawling on her stomach around the room chasing anything she can stick in her mouth since she is trying to cut teeth.

When Mollie and Rutledge got home she was so happy to see both of them…as long as Rutledge kept his boundaries.

So until tomorrow….When we get anxious about the world and the direction it is spinning we need to watch little children play and just listen to the pure unabashed joy of a baby’s laughter.

Proverbs 17:22 nails it…with this first line: “ A joyful heart is good medicine.” (The best!)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh



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Letting Curiosity Be Our Compass

Dear Reader:

At Tractor & Supply last week the whole stock of Trisha Yearwood’s Home designs were on sale – 50% off! I love her homey decor tastes and discovered this water can pitcher that I fell in love with….the only problem was I thought it really was a water pitcher (and I did need a large one) only to discover as water ran down on my feet… flowing through the bottom hole in the can from the outside faucet… that it was a planter…not a pitcher.

So yesterday I took it with me to Ace Hardware to ask the nursery professional for some guidance in getting something for it that I could put on my front porch… while sustaining the afternoon sun that envelopes it. I came away with a Tibuchina Urvilleana –Princess Flower. If planted in the ground they can become bushes but will bloom in containers also. I loved the picture of the little flowers attached to the plant container so I brought it home and placed the container next to “Big Red” and the white bench. Maybe the Princess Flower will give encouragement to “Big Red” as it develops its own blooms.

At Tractor & Supply I also picked up the latest copy of Magnolia –Chip & Joanna Gaines-magazine. The theme for this publication was curiosity. Jo talked about a day trip she and Chip went on recently…where they took only the back roads through rural Texas letting curiosity be their compass….stopping only when something jumped out at them and made them stop the car.

Aren’t these sometimes the best trips of all? The trips we don’t plan down to the last detail… but, instead, take each adventure as it comes moment to moment?

I find myself growing “curiouser and curiouser” as I grow older. Time is definitely more on my side these days than when life was a blur of frenzy and hectic schedules. These days I can treat myself to sudden car stops to check out a new store or neighborhood or garden nursery. ( I was just thinking the other day I should create a decal that says something like…“Warning….This car is driven by a retiree with time on her hands at last…prone to sudden turns and stops.”)

I have to pinch myself each time this happens…because most of my life, previously, had been rushing. It is amazing how exciting life can be, again, when we don’t pass it by in our attempt to make a deadline…to be somewhere else all the time.

My curiosity “bug” extends to purchasing curios or conversation pieces. I noticed one fun curio that Jo Gaines has in her living room that draws her guests’ attention….(Of course it is hanging from her Shiplap wall.)

She says: “I used to stress a lot about time, mainly about how I was constantly left without enough and always hopeful for more. When I found this clock, I knew it was the perfect symbol for me. It’s missing the hour and minute hands, so when I look at it, I’m reminded that there is grace in the moment, and that time at home is never wasted.” ( She always shares this thought when guests ask her why the crucial parts of the clock are missing.)

It reminded me of my Kelly Rae Roberts clock that I purchased years ago before I even knew about her and got involved into her “Possibilitarian Movement” and later her art works. It took months for this little clock to arrive and I think it was the last one made….I have never seen another one.

I liked it because it had wings.…reminding me that time does fly so I need to remember to hold on to friends and family who come through my door…because tomorrow’s are never guaranteed… just wonderful moments! It sits on a trunk Walsh got me one birthday…and that sits on Grandmother Wilson’s old antique wash stand. I have a separate pitcher and bowl in the bathroom on the B&B side because the bathrooms aren’t big enough for a wash stand.

 So until tomorrow….

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Morning sun shining in my kitchen….reminding me of the magic of life.

The hostas are starting to bloom and the morning glories…though, only a few, still frame the fairy painting quite beautifully.





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