While traveling in Wales many years ago, David and I encountered a most bizarre dining experience. We were at a lovely B&B overlooking the North Sea. (I love the bed and breakfast experience because usually the accommodations are unique and the breakfasts are not to be imagined.) Although this B&B was remarkable and I remember our experience there to be exceptional, I don’t remember the particulars. What I do remember though, was an odd occurrence during breakfast. The couple next to us, I think they were from Denmark or Norway, said not a word to each other during their entire meal. I thought that was strange. Meals are usually social events where diners talk and share stories. But this couple ate in determined silence. I came up with two possible scenarios. Perhaps it was custom to eat in silence or maybe they were in the middle of a tiff. Years later, I can still only imagine.
But, now I have a new take on why they may have taken their meal is silence because that is what is happening to David and me. And, no, it is not custom, nor are we having an argument. Our silence during meals is health-related, David’s health.
One of the many after-effects of David’s traumatic brain injury is a swallow disorder and paralysis on the right side of his face. This makes chewing and swallowing food extremely difficult. He must take small bites and concentrate on every chew. Sounds strange, but if he is not completely focused, he will bite his tongue, lip, or side of his mouth, which causes him much pain. It only took us fifteen years to realize that if we eat in silence, he is better able to focus and reduce his erratic chomping. That is our new normal. Yes, even I have learned not talk during meals, and for anyone who knows me, you know that is a hard task. So, at mealtimes in our house, you can hear the sounds of silence and maybe the hum or whirr of the refrigerator.
I wonder if that could be the reason our breakfast companions ate in silence. We’ll never know.
See you soon.
donna – author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver's Tale
Turkey day has come and gone. In this year of the pandemic, the run up to Thanksgiving led many to intense decision-making, which likely caused undue stress for folks across the United States. The question, Should I celebrate the holiday in-person with family and friends? is a very personal one. It’s one, I guess, that many folks struggled with this year.
Thanksgiving is one of most popular U.S. holidays and families look forward to it all year long to reunite, share life-stories, and overindulge in food with loved ones. Pass the turkey, please. For most that means traveling by car over the river and through the woods, by train, or by airplane. More than three million travelers are expected to pass through airport security this holiday. That’s a lot of dedicated and determined people.
David and I had to make the big decision too. Since we moved to the desert, we have joined my brother, John (aka Jack) and his wife, Carol, each year, for an outdoor celebration of Thanksgiving. We really wanted to go. We haven’t seen them since February, right before the pandemic officially began, and we miss their company. I also wanted to see the other family members who are regulars at our desert celebrations. But, it didn’t take long to decide that we were going to sit out this celebration. Because of the precarious health situation that David’s traumatic brain injury poses, we decided it better to remain home.
So, at 8:30 a.m. I prepped the turkey, made the stuffing, and popped the bird in the oven at 10 a.m. Dinner was served on the patio at 3:30 p.m. in a balmy 73˚ with all the sides, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. And, for dessert, pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream, of course. After dinner, David and I relaxed on the patio appreciating this once-a-year feast and each other.
The aroma of the turkey feast still lingers and so do our memories of a Thanksgiving alone.
Left-overs are on the meal agenda for the next few days and turkey soup is cooking in the crockpot. If there was no pandemic, I’d invite you all over for dinner. Soup’s on!
See you soon.
You know this is the first time you have ever been involved in a worldwide pandemic–unless, of, course you are more than one-hundred two years-old. Even then, you wouldn’t remember the pandemic of 1918, called the Spanish Flu, simply because you were an infant. So, essentially, COVID-19, the virus that we are experiencing right now, is something none of us have ever experienced before.
We are new to this ill-fated phenomenon in our lives. And, I do mean ill-fated. After only eleven months of this virus contaminating our world, it has infected more than 12,304,224 people and killed more than 256,000 people in the United States alone. The Spanish Flu in 1918, which lasted more than two years, from February 1918 until April of 1920, killed about 675,000 Americans. At the rate, we are going and if we don’t find a miracle vaccine, we could easily pass that number.
But, we have a huge advantage over the folks back in the early 1900s, we have a whole lot more science going on. More, but not enough. There is never enough science research for me.
Take yourself back to the horse and buggy day of the early 1900s. Take yourself back to no social media, no ZOOM parties and gatherings, no food pick-ups and deliveries, no ways to order needed products, and no ways to safely congregate with friends. Living through the pandemic of 1918 must have been a hundred times harder than living through the coronavirus pandemic today. Yet, it is still hard.
Many folks from 1918 refused to wear masks to help prevent the virus from spreading. They were called “The Mask Slackers of 1918. They called the masks “…muzzles, germ shields and dirt traps…” Maybe they didn’t have the luxury of laundry detergent at their fingertips as we do. In any case, times have not changed much, we still have mask slackers for the same political-type reasons today.
I don’t care what the reasons are for wearing or not wearing masks, but please let’s do whatever is necessary to resist this virus. I NEED to go shopping again. (See my blog post of 11/22/20, Shop 'til You Drop!
See you soon.
You’ve probably heard the saying shop til you drop. You may have even done it on occasion. I’ve been known to do that fairly often before the pandemic took away my freedom or maybe I should say madness. I could easily leave my house and stagger back five hours later under the burden of groceries, treasures gathered through my errands to the craft shop, the hardware store, or the local clothes outlet.
Since the pandemic, you’d think that my madness would have waned, but, it hasn’t. Well, I no longer dash from store to store looking for the best of whatever it is I am obsessed with. Nope, now my fingers do the work, as they fly over the keyboard googling whatever I am in pursuit of.
A few weeks ago, I searched for hours, no, more like days, for the perfect Bissell Spin Mop. I think I found it. Today after several weeks of researching every robot vacuum cleaner on the internet, getting recommendations from friends, and even putting out a plea for folks on Nextdoor to help convince me which was the best, I finally pressed the Pay Now button on Amazon.
So, now as I sit in my home, while the pandemic abounds, I no longer shop ‘til I drop. But, I do shop. I shop until my fingers feel like withered stubs ready to fall off and my eyes are crossed from too much screen time.
Do you ever find yourself shopping endlessly–always in search of that perfect something? Tell us about it.
Clip Art compliments of Bing.
The holidays are almost here again. Time to think of unique gifts for your favorite folks. Are you feeling lucky? You could be the winner of signed copies of all six of these memoirs. Just click this link to go to the site and enter.
WIN 6 books in time for the holidays. GOOD LUCK!
See you soon.
I wish I could say, the pandemic came and it went. But, I can’t. The first part is true. The pandemic, COVID-19, came, but it’s still here–more than 10 months later–more than 300 days. Do you want me to tell you how many minutes and seconds? I can! But, I bet a lot of you can too.
I could list about a million things wrong with the pandemic. Firstly, the amount of lives that it stole–cut short. Secondly, the pandemic stripped perfectly healthy people of their good health and left them with multiple complications, some that will last a life time. But, I don’t want to focus on the detrimental aspects of the virus because, believe it or not, some good things have happened in 2020 while the pandemic ran rampant across and around our country.
ZOOM happened! It brought folks together during periods of isolation. It brought students to their teachers in virtual classrooms. It prompted family gatherings for people around the planet to meet for birthdays, weddings, and holidays. It was the glue that kept us connected.
ZOOM opened many doors for me too. It allowed me to accept an invitation to speak to an audience at the New Rochelle Library in New York without boarding a plane. I acted in a play, called Bad Auditions on Camera, which will be available for streaming on December 12 and 13 at Broadway on Demand. It allowed me to attend writers’ conferences and retreats. I was able to take several writing classes offered by Storyteller Academy and Pitched2Published. I met many new writer friends through these classes and even joined an online ZOOM picture book critique group that meets every three weeks. We are the Villagers.
When the pandemic hit like a hurricane, schools closed down, teachers were desperately grasping how to present their lessons to their twenty-five to thirty students, and parents were anxiously fumbling with the internet to figure out how their child could attend classes. It was a mess. Frankly, it’s still a mess. Some schools are open, some closed, and some in a hybrid state of partially open, but mostly closed. Teachers were presented with the biggest challenges of their teaching careers.
Though I walked through the door of Room 109 for the last time in 2011 when I retired, I was compelled to help the younguns. I started up a ZOOM room for local children to engage in book talk. The group grew to include children around the United States and went on for many months until schools started to open again. I loved reading picture books to children then discussing the story with them. It’s what I did in my classroom every day for years. By the eager participation in the book talk, I guess my kids from KIDDLE Korner did too.
A few weeks ago, The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ), hosted me in their Coffee with the Authors series that they are doing each month. How exciting to talk about my book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, for an hour and a half. I could talk forever on that topic. Great questions from the audience too. How did we do it? ZOOM, of course.
In a few weeks, I will be virtually visiting my former theatre in Nutley, New Jersey. The Nutley Little Theatre has invited me to do a selection of readings from my book, Prisoners without Bars, to their Friday night audience. I can’t wait to see my Nutley friends on ZOOM.
The Brain Injury Association of America has invited me to do a talk on caregiving for their Carolyn Rocchio Caregivers Webinar Series. My title, Live - Strive - Thrive: A Caregiver’s Mantra will be offered live on December 16, 2020. Register to get the link. Interestingly, enough, this webinar will not be presented on ZOOM.
I know that there are other social media sites that folks can use besides ZOOM, but this platform has worked well for me. You might also want to try StreamYard or Google Hangouts. Then, there's always the possibilities of FaceTime or SKYPE. Let your fingers do the walking/typing to search for your best platform.
I’m sure there are many more silver linings to this pandemic, we only have to look for them. What silver linings have you found?
See you soon.
Photos compliments of Bing.
I'm being erased. Well not exactly just me! About 130 other VGs are being erased too. But, frankly, to tell the truth, there are thousands of VGs being wiped out right now as I am writing this. And–We–Are–Mad! Okay, now that I have you completely flummoxed, I’ll explain.
It all happened last week–out of the blue. I received an email saying that my high school was being dissolved, disbanding, disappearing, being terminated. Villa Maria Academy for girls, established in 1892, which is nearly 130-years-old, is vanishing from the face of Erie, Pennsylvania.
By now, you may have guessed that VGs are Villa Girls from Villa Maria Academy. VMA is one of two all-girl high schools in Erie. Cathedral Prep, or Prep, as it’s often called, is the all-boys high school. It’s been that way mostly forever, except for the few years that Villa allowed boys to register. Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep are an important part of Erie’s history. But, Villa is being erased. It’s going to be absorbed by Prep. Villa will lose its identity, its colors of blue and white, its mascot, and more importantly its name.
I have nothing against Prep. In fact, my husband is a graduate of Prep. I attended many Prep events with him in high school and have many Prep friends. But, it’s wrong to strip a school and its classmates of their identity, swallowing them up without a trace of their history.
I understand that it may be a financial decision, but to obliterate the history of one of the schools is wrong!
My pride in my school is strong and my memories will not fade.
Dedicated to all VGs, but especially my classmates in the Class of 1966.
See you soon.
I started to set up this blog seven months ago. You might ask what happened. I could tell you COVID-19 struck and took all my oomph away, but that wouldn’t be true. I mean, yes, COVID-19 did come. It came on with a vengeance, but that is not my reason for being a lazy blogger. I’ve been working hard through all these months–really hard–on multiple tasks, I promise. And, that, in fact, is the reason that I haven’t started this blog. So, why am I doing it now? Guilt! Yep! Good old-fashioned guilt. That motivates me–that and deadlines. And, getting up in the morning. I won’t go on.
Now that I’ve started writing this blog, I swear I will let you in on all the nitty-gritty that I have been doing that has taken away my time to write here. Yep! I promise!
You can help to keep me on task by writing comments and sharing my blog or my website with your family and friends. Oh, and, you can share them with your enemies too–that works for me.
See you soon.
I am the author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver's Tale. It's the true story of how my husband almost left me--three times.