Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Another miss....

I  missed my Aunt's centennial birthday celebration entirely.  A virus kept me home bound and in bed for several days. The best I could manage was sending flowers and  a charitable donation in her honor. Never have I been so disappointed to miss an event. Hardly a social butterfly, it is a measure of my love for my Aunt and her daughter that I would plan, buy a dress, travel and stay in a hotel to see and spend time with them. I also missed cousins and my mother's brother and his wife.

Amid writing thank you cards for my own birthday, I am planning with another friend to host a small gathering for the birthday of a mutual friend this weekend, barring any storm-related problems from Dorian.

Meanwhile, Lukas and I enjoy being out of the heat as more rain approaches.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Hits and Misses...

Ever have one of those moments when you think the very last of your marbles have gone and you've finally just lost it?

Such was the feeling that came over me as I felt the back of my chair for the bag which holds wallet, keys and other necessities, only to find air...

I had switched chairs to go out with friends for a belated birthday lunch and could not recall snapping the bag back in place upon my return. Two phone calls later, one of the friends said he had done this for me and asked that I check one last time since the bag was not anywhere else in my flat and was not in his car. 

Fortunately, after I transferred to a dinette chair, I was able to turn my chair around and see the bag pushed all the way to one end beyond the area my fingers could reach. All was well.

The birthday lunch was seafood paella at one of the few chef-owned restaurants in my neighborhood. Dominated by chains and fast food establishments, the road I live off of could easily be called eatery row. I patronize very few and avoid fast food almost entirely.

With rain lurking, I arrived home and commenced laundry and other chores, grateful  for the warmth of friends and good food. Thanks to another friend, my bed is freshly made. I prize the luxury of clean sheets, a warm bed, my cat and a book.

More tomorrow.



Saturday, August 10, 2019

Oh My...

Sometimes this sprawled, crowded, congested place in which I've lived for too long is simply too much...

Traffic, heat and crowds are all my favorite excuses to stay home. However, a friend had some free time and gave it gladly so that both she and I could get haircuts and so that I could rummage through the mess that is the hosiery and tights section of the neighborhood discounter for something to go with the dress I found for my aunt's birthday celebration. 

Tights are easy to come by most of the time. Not so today. None in my size in the desired color were anywhere near that store. Unusually, I had help from two wonderful associates who found them in my friend's neighborhood. They are to be left for her to pick up tomorrow and drop here Tuesday before she does another errand in this area. This took slightly over an hour. 

Meanwhile, the store swelled with parents and kids of all ages doing what I can only assume is last minute school shopping since the new school year begins Monday. By the time we made our way outside, the noise level was horrible. I was amazed to see associates with smiles on their faces. I truly wonder how many of those folks make it to the end of a shift without wanting to find a nice, quiet cave. When I worked with the public, I was nearly always exhausted by the time I approached the front door at work's end. Chalk it up to youth.

The hair cutting place was also jammed although I was taken immediately and then waited for my friend. We both felt like queens afterward but a very hot roll to the car later left me in need of hydration, something that has happened a lot this summer.

This small outing among a sea of national and multi-national chains has also left me wondering where all of the local businesses that once made this locale unique have gone. Are they defunct or merely well hidden? More on this later. I must get some water.


Monday, August 5, 2019


My sixtieth year began with a very hot but beautiful morning. Making for the Channel side area, I was glad it was Sunday and traffic was light.  The trip was a breeze and valet parking offered at the entrance to the Tampa History Center meant no worries about either the car or slogging through the already 90 degree 

The History Center is four floors of exhibits devoted to Tampa area history, exploration, growth and heritage and features interactive, photo and material displays of various types. I was fascinated by all of the very old Florida maps which are not everyone's cup of tea.

At street level, one finds a small museum store and the Columbia Cafe, a smaller version of Tampa's venerable restaurant. Two friends and I enjoyed lunch and I was given a birthday Flan which is pictured below. After several hours, the three of us headed to the opposite end of town for a slice of homemade vegan carrot cake. Gifts were unwrapped and funny cards from friends and family were exclaimed over. My uncle's home movie clip DVD was a hit.

By the time the resident feline and I piled into bed, sleep could not come quickly enough. I am extremely grateful to have reached this milestone. Thanks to all for the kind birthday wishes.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Story Continues...

I do not know how long my mother's family stayed with her.  My grandparents were due to return to the Panama Canal Zone by ship for work, and their teens to school.

By the time I was discharged from hospital in September, my mother was living on her own while awaiting the finalization of her divorce. She was eventually granted sole custody and with the help of her family, brought us to Panama and what was to be my home for the next twenty years.

Initially, we lived with her parents, She got loans and returned to school, commuting an hour each way by train between the junior college and the parental home. She walked to and from the train station to school and would study in the evenings. The goal was to raise her grade point average and complete credits so that she could return to the stateside university previously fled for marriage.

I was left with working grandparents and two teens and my grandparents hired someone to care for me while they worked. Sometime in 1960, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and I remember my mother complaining that there was one book about that in her college library and it left her in tears.

As a national teacher shortage loomed, practicality reigned.  Deciding to pursue education, my mother eventually secured a job which placed her in military base schools in the Canal Zone.

The photos in the previous post are of me at fifteen and as a newborn.


Saturday, August 3, 2019

On This Night...

It was on the evening of August 3 sixty years ago that a soon-to-be divorced woman of twenty felt the first signs of premature labor.
Packing her car in preparation for leaving town, she called a friend, panicked.

At the Air Force Base Hospital, the doctor and nurses attending her were as surprised as she when labor could not be stopped, particularly in light of her obstetrician's earlier in the day pronouncement that all was normal and she was free to leave.

As labor progressed, she was eventually given something to knock her out. Just four days into her seventh month, she awakened to discover that she had delivered a four pound baby girl.

The medical staff were not optimistic about my chances of survival, telling my mother to prepare for the worst. After losing her first daughter who had also been born prematurely the year before, I'm sure she was shocked and terrified. 

Whisked away in an incubator, I was given fluids while my mother's breast milk was forcibly dried up. She left the hospital not knowing whether I would ever join her and the wait was on to see whether I would gain the pound and the sucking reflex necessary to grow and thrive.

I have been surprising doctors and it seems, everyone else, ever since.

Tonight though, I think of her, and the frightening, sad and lonely time that must have been. In upstate New York on vacation, her parents and siblings first heard of my early arrival from a sheriff dispatched to her grandmother's homestead because there was no phone.

With this news, my grandfather, then in his late forties, packed up the car and tossed the keys to my sixteen-year-old uncle, telling him he could drive...

Happily taking the wheel, my uncle recalls them reaching South Carolina the next day, nervous at what they might find.