I woke this morning with the realization that my husband has been gone for almost a year and a half and that I’ve made a life without him; there was a time I wouldn’t have believed that possible. For those of us fortunate enough to have a long-term marriage, the simple things in our everyday life can eventually be taken for granted, but when one is left alone it’s those simple things that suddenly become monumentally important….and hard to cope with. Sometimes it’s the little things that bring home just how hard it is to be alone.

For instance; Who will find and scratch that illusive itch on your back? Who will massage that perpetually achy shoulder? Who will warm your cold feet? Who will open that pickle jar or medicine bottle that your arthritic hands can no longer manage? Who will help with that necklace your fingers can’t quite fasten? Who will put medicine on those pesky mosquito bites that you can’t reach yourself? Who will bring you a hot bowl of soup when you feel ill or run to the store for a few items when you don’t feel like doing it?

These are such small and yet such monumental things. Man [or in this case, woman] wasn’t meant to be alone….we all need a help meet. I’ve come a long way, I’ve almost conquered the loneliness of being by myself by playing music all day or leaving the T.V. on for background noise. This method works 90 percent of the time…the other 10 percent we won’t discuss.

My toolbox has been getting a workout lately, especially the hammer and pliers; one or the other seem to work pretty well on jars and even small items such as eye drop bottles.Thankfully my sons had the foresight to make up a well stocked tool box for me from my husband’s tools.

I’m learning some alternate ways of taking care of myself. I’ve acquired a long back scratcher that works on the worst of those itchy spots, and Salonpas help with that achy shoulder. Socks in bed work well for cold feet but some of my shorter necklaces may have to be retired. When I don’t feel well I drag myself to the kitchen, open a can of soup using my electric can opener, and heat it in the microwave. As for those hard to reach mosquito bites, well they just continue to itch; happily I don’t usually have many. And if my hands are particularly stiff I forgo things that have to be peeled and fussed with. Most of the time I have enough fresh food on hand to last a few days without going to the store. In all fairness, my children would be happy to help with shopping or anything else I need. It’s just that sometimes it’s the little things that need attending to at a particular moment in time that make you realize how hard it is to be single. I suspect that it gets harder and harder as one gets older but I won’t dwell on that, because for now I’m learning to be creative in my management skills as a single adult.

Yes, sometimes it’s the little things that trip us up, that make us want to say ‘uncle’, that make us think outside the box, that make us more creative, that build new talents, that give us more empathy for others. And spiritually speaking, sometimes it’s the little things that make us or break us, that keep us on the straight and narrow path or cause us to take a fatal detour. Sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest impact on our lives. Watch out for those little things for they can turn into our biggest hurdles….or our greatest blessings.


It’s been a long hot summer but after days and days of dry triple digit temperatures a cold front managed to slip through bringing us a shower and a brief respite from the heat with one glorious day of mostly sixty degree weather. It didn’t last of course but it was enough to put me in an autumn state of mind. With children back in school and September knocking on the door, we’ll soon be seeing summer in the rear view mirror. I can’t wait but I wonder how long it will take for me to wish for hot weather again? Well certainly not until we’ve experienced a few of those bone chilling days…..and that seems like a mere dream to me right now.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year; crisp cool days, colored leaves [I saw a Facebook posting which expressed my sentiments exactly. It stated, “October is my favorite color”…and indeed it is with those vibrant yellows, oranges and reds],  muscadines, hickory nuts and pecans, pumpkins, apples, and chrysanthemums, to name just a few of my favorite things about the season. While some of these things are no longer available to me, they will forever be associated with autumn in my mind. The days are getting noticeably shorter and I’ve already heard geese flying overhead in the early mornings…to a country girl that’s a sweet sound and a sure sign that summer will soon relinquish its hold.

Labor Day allows us to have one last hurrah before we unofficially bid summer goodbye and say hello to autumn. This year I won’t have to rake, burn or bag leaves so the falling of them will be only enjoyable. Sometimes I long for past autumn days when I made jars and jars of homemade applesauce and muscadine jelly, or the end-of-the-season garden produce into relish and chow-chow; but then I remember how much work it was and I’m content with making only a crock pot full of applesauce and buying a single jar of chow-chow.  More


The dog days of summer have taken on a whole new meaning in my area. Every night on the five o’clock news, pictures of dogs cooling off in pools, lakes, sprinklers, and water slides are shown. They have displaced pictures of children doing the same things; children swimming is so yesterday while dogs swimming is much more trendy, besides these pictures do fit the ‘dog days’ theme.

It’s definitely hot enough for man or beast to take comfort wherever it can be found. I personally prefer good ole air conditioning. I never liked hot weather [what am I doing in Texas?] and I never cared for frolicking in the sun and water only to wind up with a dreadful sunburn despite using a gallon of sunscreen. When my family was young they got used to my eccentricities and if we went swimming it would be in the late afternoon when the sun’s strongest rays had dissipated and the shadows were growing longer. Even then I kept to the shade as much as possible, slathered on sunscreen, and kept my fingers crossed for a minimal sunburn…usually the crossed fingers [or sunscreen] didn’t help much.

It’s hot as hades where I live but we’re experiencing extremely hot weather all across the nation so I have no cause to complain about conditions here, especially in view of the fact that my home state is even hotter…right now I’m patting myself on the back for moving away from that furnace.The Pacific Northwest is breaking 100 degrees, and the East Coast has had record highs. My son and his family on the coast of N.C. are used to fairly mild summers but it’s been so hot there that the last time they went tent camping it was so unbearably hot they went home and bought an air-conditioned camper! Smart, that’s the only one sure way to beat the heat when camping.

Well so it goes; the ‘dog days’, so named for the dog-star Canis Major [Sirius] that rises and sets in tandem with the sun from July third to August eleventh brings the hottest days of the summer though contrary to ancient belief the dog-star doesn’t add its heat to make it hotter. We’ll have to live with these dog days for a couple of weeks longer and in truth, the continued heat even longer than that so do whatever is necessary to make it bearable…dress is light clothing, eat cold watermelon or a popsicle, swim, run through the sprinkler, or hibernate indoors under cool air, as I do. Oh, and don’t forget to make your pets comfortable too. And if you live in my area send the pictures of your dog cooling his heels in water to the NBC local news for a brief moment of pet fame, maybe that will make you a ‘dog days’ fan.


One day recently I woke up and realized I was full of anticipation instead of dread for what the day would bring. What a revelation! I’ve lived with dread for such a long time that I had forgotten there was any other way to feel. A long hospital stay and the death of a loved one tends to have that effect on a person.

I don’t usually have anything in particular to do or to accomplish but my day can, and often does, hold unexpected surprises. Even if I do nothing in particular, my day is a blank canvass to fill as I choose….instead of filling it with mandatory doctor appointments, hospital visits, worry and dread.

That doesn’t mean I’m never sad or that I don’t miss my husband. On the contrary, everything reminds me of him, some things more than others. For instance I saw a man in the grocery store wearing a western shirt and wham, the thoughts of my husband made me weak kneed. Anyone who knew my husband remembers that the only shirts he wore were western shirts, except on Sunday when the traditional white shirt took its place briefly. I have three sons who love western shirts too and my youngest grandson who’s not yet two, wore one of his grandfather’s ‘cowboy’ shirts around one morning with it trailing behind him and flapping off his arms. Maybe another western shirt lover in the making? Sweet!

When I hear one of my husbands favorite songs I get misty eyed; or when I make spaghetti [yes, I’m finally eating it again] I think of him and his abrupt appetite change in the last months of his life. Steaks and hamburgers will forever remind me of him; my daughter, who was never a steak lover, commented one day that she was hungry for one of his steaks….me too Julie, me too. When the lawn care people mow the lawn outside my apartment I’m reminded of my husband’s weekly all-day chore of mowing our four acres and how he complained about it but secretly enjoyed it. I’m always watching the birds around my area, one of his favorite hobbies. I have a Dove nesting in the high reaches of my front porch and he’d enjoy observing that.

All these memories have become more sweet than hurtful and my anticipation and hope are not dimmed by them, just enriched. How very strange to wake up with a sense of well-being and thoughts of what nice things the day might bring. I don’t know how long this feeling will last, I’m guessing as long as my health remains stable which is a good reason to work on that.

So I have nothing planned for today, what shall I do? Make some jam or pepper relish? Bake up some yummy [but healthy] treats? Read a good book? Do some on-line shopping? I do have three young grandsons with birthdays in the next couple of months. Take a walk? [not in this triple digit weather] Maybe nap while I’m deciding? Well yes, why not, that sounds like a good plan to me… see you in my dreams, and when I wake maybe I’ll have one of those unexpected surprises.


I’ve had many ‘firsts’ this last year, now I must add another one, much to my chagrin. I was recently pulled over for speeding. Who knew I’d become a speed demon in my old age…if you can call going 45 miles an hour speeding, and obviously you can given the right circumstances. When my grandson sees someone else on the road going that slow he says they’re driving ‘like a granny.’ Ouch, that hurts, but it describes this granny well.

Maybe I better explain;  On the road I most travel, a bridge separates the town in which I live from the next town. In the other town the speed limit is 45 and in my town [unknown to me until recently] it’s 35 so I was zipping along at 45 mph…more or less; the officer said it was 47 mph so I want argue. I hasten to say that I didn’t get a ticket, just a written warning but it was a definite caution for me to be more mindful when driving. I’m guessing that the officer who pulled me over, took pity on me because I am a ‘granny’ . I really hadn’t seen any speed limit signs on my side of the bridge, but the next time I went that way I did take note of some. I don’t understand why I didn’t see them before since I’m usually a stickler for speed observance. It’s a little bit scary if I’ve just had my head in the clouds or been oblivious to my surroundings. The only other explanation I can come up with [besides being old] is that the speed limit signs were just recently posted. And I think that’s very possible, even probable since that’s a newly opened road where work on the shoulders has been on going. Anyway, I prefer that scenario to any other.

What makes this sad and even rather funny is that I just recently got a large cut in my insurance premium because of my safe driving habits and now for the first time ever I get pulled over for speeding!  Needless to say, I won’t make that mistake again, that’s where cruise control comes in handy; some things are better as only firsts.


Today my heart is full of love and gratitude for the exceptional man I married 54 years ago; Today my heart is filled with the loneliness and grief of missing him; Today my heart smiles at the wonderful memories we made together; Today my pain seems insurmountable; Today my heart sings with the knowledge that he’s waiting for me with as much anticipation as he did on our wedding day; Today I can’t wait to be with him again….tomorrow.

Yes today my heart, mind and emotions run the gambit of things remembered and felt. It’s strange how all these todays slip through my fingers as if made of quick silver. They seem to go by faster and faster, like a rock rolling down a hill gathering speed as it descends.  At this rate, tomorrow will come sooner than even I can imagine.

How lucky I’ve been in love; how lucky I’ve been in life; how lucky I am to have such fine children to help me brave all the todays without Bruce until tomorrow does come. Most days I’m not sad anymore, not really. There’s so much life going on around me, so many things to find joy in. And then I still need to work on myself a little more before, well before tomorrow. But today my thoughts center on Bruce and the many ways my life has been enriched because of him and his unconditional and all-encompassing love. Thank you Bruce and….Happy Anniversary!


What’ll it be? Strawberry, salty caramel nut, cookies and cream, kiwi mango, chocolate mint, peach? Maybe your taste runs to the classics of plain chocolate or the all time favorite, vanilla. My husband preferred vanilla most of the time, however after one of his surgeries he wanted nothing but homemade orange crush ice cream, and in the months before he passed away he was on a Wendy’s chocolate Frosty kick.

Perhaps you tend to the more exotic flavors or even sorbet or gelato. My mother had a penchant for orange sherbet and I remember flagging down the ice cream truck in our neighborhood many times to get her an Orange Pushup. I usually prefer the hand dipped variety over soft ice cream, my all time favorite being Jamoca Almond Fudge, but here lately I’ve been craving a thick malt or ‘blast’ of some kind. I’m not usually one to care one way or the other about having ice cream, unlike my father who had to have his daily bowl [or two] of the frozen confection, but something about this near 100 degree Texas weather has me thinking along these lines.

I remember the excitement of making ice cream as a child in our hand cranked freezer; we each ‘got’ to turn the crank which was part of the charm and novelty of making and eating it. This was a summer activity that took place outdoors under a shade tree. Of course we always had boxes of ice cream in our freezer but somehow it tasted better when we made it ourselves. When we lived in Alaska and had our food flown in once a month we always got two or three flavors in five gallon buckets…my father wasn’t going to chance running out and he loved it even in minus forty degree weather.

I remember when the hand cranked freezer gave way to the electric model. How upscale we felt, and how much easier and quicker it was to have homemade ice cream. A few years after that an electric model which didn’t require the addition of ice or salt, only the freezing of the ingredient bowl came on the market. At one time we even had a refrigerator with an ice cream making attachment in the freezer where after adding the desired ingredients, all the work was done automatically sight unseen. It was a tragic event when lightning struck our refrigerator and rendered it useless along with the magic ice cream maker.

In the summer months when I struggled to find things to keep my small children busy and happy, making ice cream in a rolling can was always a hit. All one has to do is fill a # 10 can with ice and salt after inserting a smaller can filled with the ice cream makings, put a lid on both cans and let the children roll the can back and forth to each other. It’s fun for them as well as a, literally, cool activity. When they get tired of rolling it around, the ice cream is ready to enjoy.

Ice cream’s origins reach as far back as the second century B.C. Alexander The Great enjoyed snow flavored with honey and nectar. During the Roman Empire Nero Claudius Caesar [A.D. 54-86] frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.

A thousand years later Marco Polo returned from the Far East with a recipe that resembled what we now call sherbet. England seemed to have discovered ice cream at the same time as the Italians. “Cream Ice” as it was called was enjoyed regularly by the royalty. It wasn’t until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public.

The first official account of ice cream in the New World was at the table of Maryland Governor, William Bladen. The first advertisement for ice cream appeared in The New York Gazette on May 12, 1777. George Washington spent $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790.  A frozen strawberry confection was served at President Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration and he had his own special vanilla ice cream recipe.

It wasn’t until 1851 that ice cream could be enjoyed by more than the elite because of technological innovations of making, storing and distribution. Ice cream became an edible morale symbol during World War Two. In 1945 the first ‘floating ice cream parlor’ was built for sailors in the western Pacific and commanders of different troops tried to outdo each other in offering their troops more flavors than the others. When the war ended and restrictions of dairy products was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. In 1946 an average of 20 quarts per person was consumed. Today the amount Americans consume exceeds 1.6 billion gallons annually.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. So what’ll it be, what’s your poison…er favorite? And how will you enjoy it…in a bowl, in a cone, on a stick, between two cookies, blended in a cup, in a float, on a piece of pie, with sprinkles or just…plain? The flavors are as endless as my memories of this sweet frozen treat. Go ahead, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to indulge your passion for ice cream, it’s summer….and that about sums it up, nothing else needs saying.

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