500 posts

I have had so many opportunities to celebrate anniversaries on my WordPress blog. First it was 10 followers, then 500, then an unbelievable 2576 but I hesitated. It is never too late, so – Thank you very much to my followers and friends in the WordPress community. Your kind words have been a source of comfort during a challenging time in our lives. So many of my original blogging friends have stopped posting in the last two years. Even more sadly, some have died and we miss them. Their spirit lives on in their writing.

Then I received this notification of 500 posts and felt it was time to honor my love of writing. When I first started blogging, I was only interested in writing travel posts but as I started reading other blogs I wondered about sharing even more. Admittedly, some of my posts were just drivel, or contentious, and I have deleted quite a few… It always puzzles me which posts generate the most comments or likes. Floral Spike was one of my most recent successes and I was surprised that gardening was so popular.

These are some of the categories that I have chosen to write about with links to my favorite posts: –

Travel – Mayapan Ruinas – sshhh

Fashion and Lifestyle – Fall Fashion

Mental Health – Mental Illness is a REAL Illness

Family History – Forgotten Family Faces

Wildlife – Cute Closeups

Cats – The Last Cat

Fiction – The Dystopian State of Texas – 2038

Personal – Body Image

Miscellaneous – My Love of Languages

I have posted a new avatar photo that better reflects my life now. Every time I looked at my previous image, it felt like someone else. I am older with a new hair color for autumn. Maple spice, perhaps? It is really just a mix of stuff in my hair color box and I will not be able to replicate it. Like so many others, I am looking forward to having my hair professionally dyed once the Delta Variant has been tamped down. So, so excited about going out for a steak dinner!

Thank you for reading and connecting with me – your friendships mean the world. 💕

Patriot’s Point, Charleston, SC

USS Clagamore

USS Clagamore

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to our military for their service. This military and naval museum is home to three ships, the USS Yorktown, a naval aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943, USS Laffey, a destroyer known as ‘the ship that would not die’ and USS Clamagore, a submarine and is the only surviving GUPPY type submarine.

I was fascinated by the whole museum especially watching the helicopters take off from the Yorktown from the vantage point of the Water Taxi. There was dread in my heart as I gazed at the ancient submarine and wondered how anyone could cope with the claustrophobic conditions. I guess when you are fighting at war you just get on with it. When young, I considered joining the Navy (what fear of deep water?) but I think my strength would be in spy craft. My skills lie in noticing every detail (great at an airport), excellent communication skills and a little bit of fairy glamor.

USS Gaffney

USS Laffey

I used to be reasonably fluent in Arabic and a fellow volunteer suggested that I work for the CIA. Since my language skills stopped at ordering a kilo of bananas (mooz) or berating taxi drivers, I think I would be under-qualified. I was going to suggest that my mental illness might be an issue but look at Crazy Carrie in Homeland and Sir Winston Churchill whose black dog (depression) tortured him? I have no fear of dangerous countries so that’s a plus!

Recently, I tried to search military records for my ancestors. My UK ancestors were mostly farmers so would have been exempt from fighting. I found my paternal grandfather’s World War I draft card but no evidence that he served in that war. His brother, my great uncle Earl, fought with distinction in the battle of Managua. My father (or Pinocchio) told my mum that he had flown in WWII but there is no evidence of this, other than in his head. I inherited my fairy glamor from him but he used it for evil not good. 🙂

USS Yorktown

USS Yorktown

Every year I think about the young men and women who have fought in deplorable conditions for wars that seem meaningless. I have met them in a psychiatric hospital and often at the airport. Thank you for serving your country and trying to keep us safe.

A Pastor who walks in the footsteps of Christ

Bob, Andy Nessie

Teddy with his late mum and dad

I wanted to tell you about my mother in law’s funeral service and give thanks to the wonderful Pastor. In the UK we call them Reverend or Minister but Pastor feels more familiar here in Texas. When my father-in-law died almost four years ago, a new Minister, Reverend Lindsey Sanderson, was just being appointed to their church. Both my mother and father in law were faithful members of their church which was built in a new town, East Kilbride, which was developed in the late 1940s. As a result, a retired Minister who knew my father in law personally performed the service.

Later, I reached out to Lindsey, who is a lovely young woman, when we had a previous crisis with Mum to ask if she could visit and pray with her. We couldn’t get flights immediately and it is a two day journey back to Scotland. At that time Nessie, my mother in law, performed her Lazarus trick and completely recovered from the virus. Lindsey continued to visit regularly and would send emails with current photographs that she had taken. She sang familiar hymns to her and prayed with her. This was an immense comfort to both Teddy and I even though we are not religious. We knew that Nessie was and so it would be a comfort.

On January 2nd we got a call from mum’s care home to say that she was suddenly deteriorating and it seemed like end-stage symptoms. She was very comfortable on end of life medications. Despite all our knowledge and 18 years with Alzheimer’s disease, you are always shocked. It was two hours before we were due to have a little drinks party with friends at our house. We looked at each other and decided not to cancel the party; why not celebrate her very long life? As it is a two day journey to Scotland from Texas so we decided to wait a couple of days to see how things progressed. The staff said she was staying stable and then we got the call in the middle of the night (we are 6 hours behind Scotland) to say she had died peacefully in her sleep on the 4 January 2016. The staff had gone into her room to wake her up and she had passed onto the hereafter.

As soon as we heard that she was failing, I emailed Lindsey to ask if she could visit. She went after Sunday services on the 3rd January and blessed her. When she emailed me in return I knew that this was the end. It’s a small town and Lindsey worked with us and the funeral director to create the perfect service. I was astonished at how appropriate and well thought out the service and hymns were. We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to have a relationship with a Minister that truly did minister her flock with love and compassion. Thank you, Reverend Lindsey Sanderson, of The United Reform Church. This is their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/righeadurc

I know, I know – the irony of my previous post Facebook is the work of the devil! Clearly I was wrong and there are angels at work, too. I would also like to thank John Donnelly of Heritage Funeral Services http://www.heritagefuneralservices.co.uk/ (Thank the Good Lord they don’t have a Facebook page…) and all their wonderful staff. We arrived about a week after mum had died and had asked for a closed casket. Then I wanted to see her – I could see that this was unexpected for the staff but they went out of their way to accommodate me. They did whatever they do and she looked like a beautiful ageing fairy. At the last moment Teddy decided to view her too and was glad that we could see that her spirit was gone and all that was left was an exquisite death mask. Just before we left, they asked us if we would like music at the crematorium and Teddy said that she wasn’t really into music. I looked at him in astonishment and said, “She loved the Sound of Music”. As we entered the crematorium ‘Edelweiss’ was playing and as we left, ‘Climb Every Mountain’. During Lindsey’s shorter service there we sang ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ – a perfect hymn.

This is a link to the beautiful service sheet and hymns Click here to see the service Please look at it, especially if you have a relative with Alzheimer’s because you might love the appropriateness of it. May she rest in peace.

A bad day

bun and ted baja

Bunny and Teddy in Baja

My husband called me today, “How has your day been?” Immediately, I knew that he had bad news. He works in oil and we knew that there was a possibility of redundancy. He had been laid off and I felt a sinking of my stomach. I wasn’t quite sure what to say but told him to drive carefully on the way home. We have been preparing for this since the dramatic drop in oil price. I could tell that he was worried that I might fall apart but I didn’t.

He is a geologist with specific skills. When we first married in 1982, he had a job with a small consultancy. He had been working in Kuwait and things looked good but then…he was made redundant. It was devastating for him and he drove around all afternoon taking photographs before telling me. I was stiff with shock – I had a part-time job and we were already struggling to pay the mortgage and utility bills. Almost immediately he was offered a job with lesser status but the same salary for the sister company. His pride took a knock but at least we could pay the mortgage.

From that moment on we were careful with money, paid off our mortgage in our 40s and saved relentlessly. It was a valuable life lesson but harsh, nonetheless. We are fortunate, compared to most. We still have no mortgage, no debt, two cars paid for but what next? There are half made plans; opportunities with small oil companies; possible contracts in the Middle East but still nothing concrete.

I feel guilty that my mental illness makes it difficult if not impossible for me to be the sole wage earner. That said, I could probably get a job in the short term. His company has given him a generous pay off so we can relax over Christmas and then make definitive plans. Strangely, my thoughts today were with the people who jingle the bells for the Salvation Army. They have reached rock bottom and yet still have a sense of optimism. They seem grateful for every donation and cup of coffee offered.

We have drunk too much cheap Trader Joe wine today but know that life will improve. I was concerned for him because he was unhappy at work but couldn’t afford to move in case we lost essential benefits. Thank goodness we have lived in a third world country and are able to put life in perspective. He will get excellent references because he followed the rule: “Be good to everyone on the way up because you never know when you will be on the way down”. He is a good husband, provider and the love of my life.