Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Brief Update

Hello All, it's been several weeks since I've posted and much has happened. My Meniere's went on for several days and then got better. That enabled me to use my ticket to fly to Idaho for a vacation with a family that has adopted me as a grandmother. Quite wonderful for me.

I stayed there 10 days and came home exhausted. It is so true that what one did when younger is no longer possible when one reaches her eighties. I rested for nearly a week, sleeping 9 to 10 hours each night.

Then the rain began here and an arthritic flare-up occurred in my back. When I had the back surgery in March 2017, he back surgeon told me that he could do nothing in the operation about my very serious arthritis. Thus, this flair-up wasn't unexpected. It lasted for an entire week with me keening and moaning and walking around like an old crone! Stiff like cardboard! Hardly able to bend over and feed the cats. Only today do I feel equal to getting things done in my home without pain.

During that time, I also got a virus that meant diarrhea and upset stomach plus the headaches. So this has been a difficult time. I do hope to return to my Sunday blogging in the next couple of weeks. I want to do my part to keep our blogging community enlivened with the stories of our lives.

I want to write AND I want to read about what is happening in your lives. I hope to catch up soon. Thank you for stopping by and checking on me. 


Photo from Wikipedia.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Taking a Sunday off

Hello All, I wanted to share with you my porch decision and how I came to it and how freeing that has been, but today is a Meniere's day--headache, wooziness, imbalance, dizziness--and so using the computer for even a few minutes (like now) demands a concentration that is very tiring.

This week I will be working on my novel that I hope to publish in September, but I do hope to post next Sunday. Take care. Be gracious to yourselves. And know that you are thought of fondly by this cat-loving, elderly woman who is grateful for the gift of your presence in her life. Peace.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Dream of a Stillwater Porch

Today I’m sharing with you the background for three recent decisions I made, beginning on Sunday July 1. In this posting I’ll set the scene. Next Sunday, I hope to share the decisions.

I lived in a lovely 1870 lumberjack home in Stillwater, Minnesota, for 32 of the 39 years I lived in that northern state with its blizzards and wind chill. The home had a screened-in, side porch, off the kitchen, that had been built in 1910. Nothing had been done to it since then.

That porch became my favorite part of the house. The cats with whom I lived loved it too. They’d bask in the sun while lying on the ledge where the single-pane glass windows met the non-insulated three-foot-high wall, which sat atop a concrete slab that let in rain water and melting snow. Of course, during the winter, the porch became a deep freeze. No sitting or basking then.

I’d spend my time on the porch, reading, writing, visiting with friends and neighbors, holding a cat or two, or simply looking out the screened windows to the perennial gardens beyond. It was a place of conversation and also of retreat.

 The 1910 screened-in porch with the side perennial garden, the driveway, and the garage.

In 2001, I was finally able—financially—to hire a contractor to turn the porch into a four-season one. Within a short time, it boasted modern windows that kept out the heat in summer but retained the inner heat in winter; a heating-and-air-conditioning unit; a new concrete slab that wasn’t cracked and on which the insulated walls fitted snugly; and a lovely color of paint called "Bee's Honey." 

That porch simply delighted me. It was as if it had arms it could put around me—to comfort when I was in the throes of Meniere’s Disease. To listen attentively when I visited with friends there. To inspire my writing. To calm my soul when the vicissitudes of life threatened my inner peace and left me feeling adrift.

I lived in that home—with that welcoming four-season porch—for eight more years after the contractor completed the work: from September 2001 to June 2009. At that point I moved here to Missouri. I now live in a one-story home that pleases me in every way but one.

That one thing that needs change is the southern-facing patio that is attached to the living room. I go out onto it from glass sliding doors. It has a concrete slab and a roof held up by three pillars. My porch furniture from Stillwater fits there.

However, the weather is so hot and humid here and the bugs so plentiful that I spend little time there during the summer. And, of course, I cannot use it during the winter. Spring and fall are the patio’s seasons but with climate change even those times tend to be problematic temperature- and weather-wise.

When I first moved here, I thought of turning that patio into a four-season porch similar to the space I’d enjoyed in Stillwater. However, money was tight and rather soon after moving I began to have a series of physical problems that sapped my energy and preoccupied my thoughts. Necessarily, I let go of my yearning for a porch on which I might sit with the cats and enjoy the morning bird song and the apricot sunsets of Missouri.

Then in 2013, my health improved; a friend and I visited seven showrooms to get an idea of what a four-season porch would cost here in Missouri. Rather soon after that, however, my health declined again. I had to deal with cancer, Glaucoma and near loss of vision, and a serious back operation. That brings me to July 1, 2018. Next week I'll share what happened then.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Rock'n Roll in College

I learned ballroom dancing in the seventh grade. Sister Mary McCauley—a nun of the Sisters of Mercy order—hired someone to teach our class of 26. That same year we also learned how to square dance, which I greatly enjoyed. My problem with ballroom dancing was that I always wanted to take over the lead.

Given that and the bad case of acne I mentioned last week, I wasn’t popular at mixers when the ban played a waltz or foxtrot. I did have partners for the polka as I could throw myself into that dance with abandon, and the boys went along for the ride.

In college, I met a fellow freshman who’d had her own dance studio in high school. When I asked her to teach me to rock'n roll, she took on the challenge. With rock'n roll, I became a little more popular on the dancefloor. Of course, in the college I attended—a small library arts college for young women—we young women also danced together in the evening between study hall and lights out.

Our dorms were on the top floor of the ad building. A long hall—probably a couple of football fields long—extended down the center of the fourth floor, separating the various dorms. At night, we’d play music—loudly—and dance down that hall. Or, we’d push the beds and dressers in our dorms aside and have our own mixers. I slept in St. Lucy’s Dorm in which there were 48 beds—an enormous room. There we were, dressed in pajamas and robes just rockin’ and rollin’!

That continued throughout my freshman and sophomore years when we lived on the 4th floor. In my junior and senior years, we lived in private rooms for two or three in the various college houses. Sometimes all of us in one house would rock ‘n roll in the basement, but mostly that got left behind as we became more serious about studying. I didn’t go to the twin-college mixers because I was, quite simply, a wallflower.

In June 1958, I graduated and entered the convent. There was no dancing there and no phonographs on which to play dance records. Nor could we listen to the radio or television. The only music we heard was that of the liturgy. Of course, there was the melody of our chanting of the Divine Office several times a day.

At Mass, we sang a number of prayers. For Sunday Mass, the choir would sing a specially arranged song. The one I most remember was “Ubi Caritas,” which came to everyone’s attention in the early 1960s after a Benedictine priest—Father Paul Benoit—composed his melody for this ancient Latin antiphon. (Since then, many composers have set the words to their own melodies.)

Those of you who have had the opportunity to read my convent memoir, Prayer Wasn’t Enough, know that I daily disobeyed the convent traditions and rules by singing songs from the 1920s, ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s while I did my obediences—especially sorting the laundry. I was never reprimanded for this even though I’m quite sure the novice mistress knew I sang. Benedictines have always sung, and I don’t think she minded that my song wasn’t chant.

This video from YouTube shows that rock'n roll is still popular today!

Did you get a chance to rock ‘n roll? What was your favorite song to dance to?