“Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring”

Dear Reader:

When I opened a kitchen drawer yesterday there was this piece of poster board with an “Anne original drawing of trees” from the Louise Penny’s detective novels and this quote found in the book. There was a hole at the top where Anne had punch-holed an opening to tie this Christmas card to a gift she gave me.

As soon as I read the verse it took me back to a conversation we had started yesterday. Anne’s sister Lucy and her husband, have just been down for a visit and Lucy (breast cancer survivor) was explaining that she had gotten through the chemo treatments overall okay and doing well… with the exception of a loss of feeling in her feet that made her walk flat-footed. But then she laughed and said if that was the only thing she had to complain about…she was one lucky woman. They caught the cancer early…everything is looking very positive!

I told Anne to tell Lucy she can now officially join the “Frankenstein” walk group…because neuropathy is always a possibility when dealing with tough drugs and in my case I don’t know if my different gait is due to treatments, the cancer, any one of the many medications I take, the foot surgery…pick a number…any number. I would just rather be thankful that I can walk (than take time to figure out what drug is the culprit)…gracefully or not…and still do what I want to do in life on both my feet. I, too, am blessed.

Aging is a privilege not every one gets….so “annoyances” and “inconveniences” are just that…nothing more. As the second line in the quote reads…”Forget the perfect offering.”

None of us are perfect…we are all just doing the best we can with what we have been given. That’s life. I have so much more to be thankful for than sad about…I still wake up each morning ready to hit the garden and be enthralled by any new “births” that happened overnight and excited about what the day might bring and the “light let in.”

My moon flowers are really growing fast! The daisies are always adorable and make me smile!

The Garden Butterfly has got its solar lights going now…and it just stays so bright and light throughout the day and evening….a joy to watch in front of Jakie’s Japanese Maple!

I got lucky…two fun events took place Thursday!

I met Stephanie Rankin, my wonderful Horace Mann agent, for lunch  just to catch up and be overjoyed at the news that her husband is going to join her this year with the Horace Mann company and the children will be going to school here. What an amazing young woman, wife, and mother she is! (Besides being the best insurance agent around…one who makes house calls even! Could not have gotten through the car theft and foot treatments without her!)

Than Gin-g stopped by and she hadn’t eaten lunch yet….so we drove to Chick Filet...she got a late lunch or early supper and I got a milkshake…(dessert for either one!)

We had to laugh…we both had our “shades” on- We looked like the “Blues Sisters”!….Gin-g is in the middle of getting cataract lenses and my eyes are very sensitive to the sun these days…they water constantly since I don’t have eyelashes to protect the oil in my eyes. Once again…an annoyance…but hey, I can see and that is all that matters!

*We tried to take a picture of ourselves but our arms weren’t long enough…some kind woman… watching us struggle in this comedy act came over and put us out of our misery by asking if she could take the photo….random acts of kindness!

…”There’s a crack in everything…it’s how the light gets in” 

The way I look at it….people talk about fighting for life as long as there is a still a “quality of life” left…. I agree …but for me that definition works as long as we let love in…that is my light. If I know there is still love around for me to give and receive…life is always worth fighting for …as long as we can.

So until tomorrow….”Let Love in.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Tommy and Kaitlyn’s “Dingle Days” are numbered…I believe today is their last full day in Dingle…then one night in Dublin and home again Sunday. I am sure it went too fast…it always does…they went to the Chart House last night…their favorite “haunt” to say good-bye. But what adventures they had !

 

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Thank Goodness for Lantana in the South…the Summer Survivor!

Dear Reader:

This year I have decided to add lantana to the garden because it is the only flower that can take the hot humid days ahead in the lowcountry. The photo above is my lantana “patch” in the front yard.

All the other plants and flowers have only their “moments” in the sun…and then eventually they give up the “ghost’ after repeated days of nineties and humidity…especially when we don’t get the necessary rain to prevent them from (literally) burning up.

I have learned my lesson….plants that say they can take “Full Sun” haven’t tried to do so in this semi-tropical environment.

In the lowcountry, the coming weeks will undoubtedly cause certain plants and  garden flowers to look crispy, brown, and pathetic no matter how often I  apply the water hose.

That’s where easy-to-grow, low maintenance plants like lantana come into play. These shrubby bushes  enliven one’s yard with minimal effort.

There are so many different varieties of lantana (besides the basic yellow)….and I hope to find a wide diversity to plant. Here are some ideas I found in several magazines including Southern Living.

 

I hope they will be “good neighbors” to many of the plants emerging now…as I said earlier…May is the most beautiful month for spring flowers in my garden….by June…the high temps and humidity will have started damaging the poor flowers struggling to hang in there….like some of my latest blooming flowers in the garden.

Though some, like the Mexican petunia can withstand the heat also.

Gardening is a learning process…every year I learn a new lesson on which flowers can survive a lowcountry summer and which can’t…it helps me quit wasting money on plants that can’t make it through the next few months.

EXCEPT….I am so weak-willed when I see just “one more plant” then I must try it out in the garden….I am this poster! Thanks Pam!

So until tomorrow….

“Today is my favorite day!” Winnie the Pooh

*I came across this reflection about a different take on “mothers” and wished I had seen it before Mother’s Day. Then I thought to myself…”How silly?” Every day is a potential mother’s day for all of us.

“In its purest form, a “mother’s” love is a metaphor for the nurturing, sustaining love that holds us in the world. We yearn for that type of love from our own mothers, but often receive it from others-grandmothers, aunts, teachers, and friends. 

“Mother” Earth and the Sun sustain us daily without question. Let’s reflect and be grateful for the manifold manifestations of maternal love in our lives.” Ameeta

*Today is Kaitlyn’s Uncle Rusty’s funeral and Susan’s younger brother…I know it will be a difficult day for the Swicegoods and other members of this close family. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers today. A very giving, generous, kind man is being laid to rest…the world will miss him.

 

 

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Return To Dingle

Dear Reader:

As you look at the pictures today of Dingle, Ireland…just say “Hallelujah” that I have a friend like Anne who saved this post from becoming non-existent.

The computer gremlins hit again…this time my outlook account which is, of course, my email is down. Actually it opens but everything is blank on the page…especially the photos that Kaitlyn sent and I forwarded onto my email so I could save them on my desk top to use in the blog. It isn’t accepting anything or at least it isn’t showing up on the blank page.

I tried all my usual tricks…like turning off every electrical cord, including the monitor, from the computer and letting it rest. My email account has either been hacked or some virus is in it…who knows? I was disappointed and actually wrote a message letting you know that we would not be able to “Return to Dingle” today because of the problem.

Just before I reconciled myself to defeat I tried one last call for help. Anne! She immediately told me that the easiest solution would be to simply create another email account  (a “Dingle Detour”) that I could keep for future emergencies when and if my outlook account is restored. If not…it will be my new email.

It took a little doing over the telephone and some minor frustration but I was finally able to recreate a new email account and get a few pictures sent to it to use on this post. This will be more of some picto rial excerpts on Dingle but I hope you enjoy it.

On Tommy and Kaitlyn’s honeymoon in Ireland (you might remember) three years ago…they saw a lot of Ireland…different places and lots of castles and mystical lands… including Dingle the Owl at The School of Falcontry (Ashford Castle) and Irish wolfhounds. On their honeymoon itinerary they had only one night and day set aside for their stay in Dingle.

I told them that they would fall in love with this little seacoast town and would probably want to return to stay longer….however I didn’t know just how much they would fall in love with it and that this is the third time returning to Dingle for the Dingles!

Kaitlyn hired a photographer this year to get some really unique pictures of them upclose and from afar….also, this time, Tommy and Kaitlyn have an appointment to do some research on the Dingle ancestry.

*The photographer in the photo (below) took his shot from far atop a mound looking down on Dunquin Pier and  Tommy and Kaitlyn..It is sometimes called the Sheep’s Highway. (Kaitlyn and Tommy said they have seen lots and lots of sheep) It is also where you can take a ferry to the Blasket islands…in season.

 

I love this photo below…it reminds me of a mermaid and her Irish lover…a true romance story!

There is something quite mystical about Ireland…it made me feel homesick for it even while I was there…like in a parallel life I knew this country and its spectacular scenes.

What a great love affair Kaitlyn and Tommy have with Dingle, Ireland. It is where they can truly get away from it all once a year…after saving up all year to return. It is worth the sacrifice and more…no interruptions, seeing and sharing new exciting landmarks and adventures together, making new friends on each visit…these memories will last forever for both of them!

So until tomorrow (with hope for better Irish luck on the computer) I love these lyrics and think Tommy and Kaitlyn will too.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Bendig sent a photo of me telling the Statue of Liberty story…a sweet memento….Thank you for forwarding Mollie. Precious children! Bendig’s Bunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back in the Saddle Again…

Dear Reader:

It has been a long time since I have done a story in a school and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Rutledge’s kindergarten class was just precious and every pair of eyes listened intently. Mollie said that when she asked Rutledge what story he thought his Boo Boo was going to tell…he said it would be something about history. He knows me so well.

My Mohs foot surgery ( the one gone awry) with six months of foot treatments really put me out of commission doing a lot of things I loved and storytelling was definitely one of them.

I decided to take a cute, creative story about a famous landmark and personalize it using clues for the children to gather while I told the story. I never read a story …at least not first…because it is so important for children to use their imaginations to picture the story as they listen and not depend on a book illustrator’s perspective.

I told the class that this was the story of a special little girl who would grow up to be a famous Some BODY or Some THING! They had to listen to all the clues and at the end of story raise their hands if they thought they knew the answer.

ON a hot July day in one neighborhood in Paris, France the cries of a newborn were heard. All the neighbors wondered if it was a little boy or girl…but no one suspected just how special this baby would be. The doctors and even the baby’s mother and father were really surprised, even shocked, at their little girl….because, you see, she was a little…um…green! And not only was she green but she grew several inches each day causing her poor parents to finally give up buying baby clothes… when something that fit in the morning…didn’t fit by the evening.

So the mother took her BIG little girl to the store and bought her a queen-sized green sheet to match her special color. The baby did have a huge appetite…but just not for food, but knowledge. She read everything she could get her hands on from cereal boxes to billboards. She was simply amazing…as she grew and read and read and grew some more! She always kept two of her favorite books under one arm.

One day her mother took her to the store and told her she could pick out anything in the store she wanted…and what she wanted was this most peculiar-looking hat…actually a crown with strange spikes coming out of the top.

When she started school, you might imagine the other children didn’t quite know what to make of the huge green girl with a queen sized sheet, two books under her arm, and a spiked crown. But one thing they could agree upon…was that she was the smartest girl in the class..maybe even the whole school.

Every time the teacher asked a question her hand shot up like a rocket going skyward…she answered so many questions that her arm one day froze in the upright position.

She was also the kindest student….every time a new student came she befriended him or her and make them feel welcome and accepted in their new environment. 

In the blink of an eye she had graduated from school and none too soon. By now she had outgrown her bed, her chair and table, her house, and even her beloved Paris. It was time for her to leave and find where she belonged in the world.

Her parents were sad, of course, but they wished her good luck in finding her new home and before she left, they gave her a lit torch to carry in her frozen upright positioned hand. Her parents told her to always follow the light.

She went to countries all over the world and discovered that no matter the language or customs all people were kind at heart and she promised herself that one day she would welcome them to her home…when she found it.

She did know that she didn’t want to live in the Great Plains…too windy…blew her sheet up all the time, or the mountains…too cold with just a thin sheet, or the ocean…too wet and too fishy.

As she was emerging from an ocean onto land one evening something on shore was beckoning to her…calling her towards it. It was a large pedestal...all gold with lights shining around it. She knew immediately she had found her place. She shook the sand out of her sandals, wrung out her green sheet, straightened her spike crown, chose two special books to keep under one arm and re-lit the torch for the other outward arm. 

And then it happened. Magic! Suddenly she froze right there…and do you know that she is still there today? Welcoming lonely, scared immigrants, from other countries, who want to make America their home too. She is still growing…(over 300 feet tall) and getting smarter every day.

*I stopped there and asked if anyone knew the name of a famous some thing in her honor…four hands went up, including Rutledge’s…so on the count of three all four children shouted out “The Statue of Liberty” or “Miss Liberty” ….or, as in the title of the book….

I then showed them all the pictures of the clues and asked if she looked like what they had imagined…and some said she was close while others had her as a different nationality-theirs :)….perfect responses. What a great day! Back in the saddle again!

This is too funny! There was a luncheon for mothers and grandmothers after the story-telling yesterday. Rutledge told Mollie Sunday night (when she asked if he knew what we were having for lunch) about the most hilarious menu….she texted me laughing… “Rut says we are having strawberries, pickles, and sour raisins for lunch tomorrow. He assured me it’s really yummy!” 🙂

I texted back…”What a coincidence…I had been craving sour raisins all day…can hardly wait.” You can imagine both our disappointments when we had chicken salad, ham and cheese croissants, along with raw vegetables with salad dressings, and a variety of fruit, chips, and drinks.  🙂

So until tomorrow….Thank you Father for days spent with family and memories made for a lifetime.

Look at the pretty bouquet of flowers I got from Mollie.

Mandy went to Eva Cate’s school for a Mother’s Day brunch last Friday and she loved Eva Cate’s “interpretive” artwork for Mother’s Day!

 

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Mother Nature’s Surprises on Mother’s Day

Dear Reader:

Yesterday morning, Sunday May 12, Mother’s Day, I awoke to the long-awaited sound and luscious fresh smell of rain! I immediately texted my neighbor Vickie and got an instant reply…“Best gift ever for Mother’s Day…Doesn’t it smell so good?” *It did!

We have needed rain desperately lately…Yet we seem to miss so many potential weather fronts that promise rain but either fizzle out or turn in another direction before dropping some much needed rain on Summerville.

I had all my windows open and the early morning rain storm had me grabbing pinkie, my robe, once again (as a gentle breeze swept into the house) ….wrapped in only what I can call complete satisfaction and happiness!

In between the first and second showers I walked out in the garden and there was my first morning glory of the season, a little droopy from the rain, but still beautiful and so welcomed back for another season.

 

 

 

Late in the afternoon the rains returned….sealing the day with my utmost gratitude.

When I came back in the house… Google popped up with a popular article called “Top Lily Varieties to Grace Your Garden from Tall to Small” (By Jamie Mcintosh)....the lily is the most popular flower gift of all on Mother’s Day…with a description and picture of all the different kinds.

I started scrolling down…and there it was …the answer to the type of lilies growing in my garden. What a wonderful surprise!

(*My lilies were so happy to get rain yesterday…they seemed to be smiling when I took this picture about 7:30 yesterday morning.)

(The Spruce: 14 Stunning Varieties of Lilies)  

“The intensely colored flowers of Asiastic Lily Matrix are mesmerizing. With a high bud count of up to seven flowers per stem, you only need a few bulbs to create a focal point in the early summer landscape. The petite 20-inch stalks of Matrix lilies are just right for any garden…even container gardens.”

 

*So now every time I look at these lilies I will think of that cute actor Keanu Reeves (who starred in the movie series- The Matrix)…*He was actually on the CBS Sunday Morning Show.

 

 

Today I wanted to pause and send a special thank-you to three fantastic mothers of children who grew up to marry my children and bring love into their lives and mine. What great mothers you all were and what a fantastic job you did! I adore my son-in-law John, daughter-in-law Mollie, and daughter-in-law Kaitlyn! Three special gifts that keep on giving and making my life so much brighter.

Susan Swicegood                  Marcia Temple              Joan Turner

              

Before this wonderful Mother’s Day was over the first hydrangea blooms popped in the garden…flowers emerged in the strangest places…mixed in with the confederate jasmine and/or along a fence…everyone was “putting on the ritz!”

I still have the mystery of a tall grass in the garden that produces this pale yellow bloom with three brown spots on it????? *All my orange flowers keep blooming…making me so happy!

So until tomorrow…Mother Nature decided to make all of us garden mom’s happy yesterday with rain, sun, and surprises! Thank you for the gifts!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Late yesterday afternoon I placed my Garden Butterfly decoration (the Turner family gave me) right in front of Jakie’s Japanese Maple. I love it everyone!

 

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The Amazing Attachment of Mother and Child

Dear Reader:

While I was at the beach I came across an article by Guide Post…Mysterious Ways that I found fascinating. It is about the miraculous and inexplicable bond between mothers and their children.

Source: The Miraculous Bond Between Mother and Child: Evan Miller

An Army private during World War II, stationed in the South Pacific, hears the voice of his mother thousands of miles away in Baltimore, telling him to duck just seconds before a bullet whizzes over his head. At that precise moment, his mother, at the hospital recovering from brain cancer, sits up and yells, “Duck, James!”

A boy whose mother died when he was a toddler is visited often in his dreams by a woman with curly brown hair and blue eyes. She comforts him. The boy has no memory of his mother and no photos of her. Until, as an adult, he sees a picture. An image identical to the woman in his dreams.

A struggling young woman is visited in the middle of the night by her deceased mother, who tugs at her ankle and warns her to break up with the guy she’s seeing.

My search for answers led me first to David Kessler. He’s a renowned grief expert and the author of Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die. In his research, Kessler has talked to thousands of people, many of whom have been visited by deceased friends and loved ones. He has noticed a trend throughout his many years of research.

“The person who visits the most is your mother,” he says. It’s not even close. At the time when we most need comfort—whether in grief or near death—it’s mothers who answer the call. Hospice workers concur. According to one nurse quoted in a 2019 Atlantic article, “everyone is calling for ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ with the last breath.” The reason, Kessler says, is simple.

“Mothers are the strongest and first connection we make in life…it stays with us forever.”

There are millions of documented case after cases of mothers who come to their child’s rescue because of a seemingly inexplicable bond. Take the patient of Dr. Orloff who suddenly experienced intense stomach pains, only to find out later that her son—away at college—had appendicitis.

“Mothers have a sixth sense about their kids because of their strong connection genetically, emotionally and by virtue of carrying the child in their womb for nine months,” Dr. Orloff says. “Adopted mothers can also feel this connection on a soul level, and their intuition can reach out to save their children too.”

Research supports that mothers hold a special place in our consciousness. A 2016 Stanford University School of Medicine study found that children’s brains responded positively to their mothers’ voices in audio clips less than a second long. During MRIs, these recordings lit up parts of the children’s brains related to emotion, reward processing, facial recognition and social functioning.

After reading all of this…I couldn’t help but think about Ben’s story in his book about his experiences in Vietnam. Mother had made Ben’s favorite cake for his birthday….a chocolate cake…she wrapped it tightly and sent it literally through the mail to him in Vietnam.

Ben was just coming back from a patrol in the jungles when an officer told him he had a package. He opened it and there was mother’s chocolate cake…just as fresh as if she had made it that morning on his birthday July 26…because it arrived on his exact birthday. What are the odds?

Kessler concludes the article sharing his own story….his mother died in a New Orleans hospital when he was only 13 years old….he and his father moved away after her death and he didn’t return until decades later when he was giving a talk in New Orleans soon after Hurricane Katrina went through.

In late 2005, Kessler was in New Orleans to give a talk. The city had recently been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He found himself outside the hospital where his mother had died, the building shuttered by the storm’s fury. Kessler hadn’t been inside since he was that 13-year-old.

Now he felt compelled to find closure there. He asked a security guard if he could go inside. The guard escorted him down the darkened hallways, past wires hanging from the ceiling, tiles ripped from the floors by floodwaters, broken glass everywhere. They made it to the ICU and, inside the doorway, Kessler turned, remembering that his mother’s bed had been the second on the left. There in the dark, above where his mother had died, Kessler noticed the call light. It was blinking green.

“Green means the patient is being seen,” Kessler says. “Forty-two years after she died, my mother was there looking after me.”

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So until tomorrow….Happy Mother’s Day to Everyone! When it comes to our mothers…(and others who were also a mother to us)….we never let the green light go out.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

We got a jump on Mother’s Day….John and Mandy invited me for a cook-out last evening. Jakie was dying to show me all he has learned in the pool and Eva Cate wanted to catch me up with all her goings-on…it was a wonderful time. The family gave me a beautiful garden butterfly decoration (See Eva Cate) that is solar, makes the water bubble and the wings flutter. Can hardly wait to put it in the garden!

Chef John outdid himself…my favorite meal!

Thank you Turners for a delightful evening. Monday I am going to Rutledge’s school to tell a story and they are having refreshments in the court yard for mothers and grandmothers. The fun continues.

Tommy sent these pictures of some of their fun adventures and new acquaintances in Dingle.

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Edisto… Over-Easy

Dear Reader:

“Over-easy” was definitely the lifestyle and theme for the week…I was starting a new cancer medication while on the retreat, Brooke was preparing psychologically for her upcoming rotator cusp surgery and of course Libby’s neck/back surgery came with pre-surgery restrictions that forced her to make the difficult decision to stay home this time.

But we found ways to work around some of the restrictions we haven’t had in the past…and one way was to come up with a plan how to “take” Libby with us…if not just in spirit…then, at least, in cardboard! 🙂

I decided that if I could take Eva Cate and Rutledge’s “heads” to Ireland I could certainly take Libby with me to Edisto…every where we went we shared the photos of what she had done that day with her by text…starting with riding to the beach with me.

Next came Brooke’s birthday…blowing out candles and getting a “Bless Your Heart” pillow for the trials and tribulations ahead. *And you were right in the midst of it Libby!

 

Wednesday when Veronica and the grandchildren came (Brooke’s beautiful daughter-in-law and two precious grandchildren)…we knew Libby wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

But we knew Libby’s favorite place has been and always will be on the porch in “her” rocking chair….You enjoyed it so much Libby!

Tuesday morning was the catalyst that changed the rest of the week. The cable man came! Suddenly it looked like we had a movie size screen… so with Jackson’s knowledge of Netflix….we started the movie marathon. By sheer luck…we found the best movies ever….some older, some romance, comedy, and mystery…but all mesmerizing. After each show…we would say that was the best one yet….until the next movie. We laughed and wiped tears together.

Even with our movie marathon, however, it is always the porch that “sirens” to everyone….and conversation….that lost art (that when reprised) is the best part of the retreat. Always…hands-down!

This time Jackson and our birthday girl decided we would continue to chill instead of going out the last night…so we called in burgers and sandwiches and I went to pick them up at the SeaCOW Eatery.

On the way home…I decided to make a stop at the beach and I sat on a bench and took in one of God’s most wondrous marvels of beauty…the ocean.

Tommy and Kaitlyn had sent me gorgeous pictures of Ireland as they drove to Dingle, Ireland Thursday…so I returned the favor… the Edisto photos showing how we are all connected by the same beautiful skies …no matter where we are.

Ireland…

Edisto Beach

So until tomorrow…

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Rutledge’s Japanese Maple can now carry the weight of a solar lantern…and I brought an Edisto turtle decoration to put on the top of a hanging basket in the garden…bringing a memory of Edisto back home.

 

 

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