Arizona, In My Opinion, inspiration, nature, photography

Sorry, Dorothy.

I can breathe now. I secured a job teaching AP Literature at a Lynchburg, Virginia high school. We found a house in the nearby town of Bedford and will close on March 21. Three obstacles face me now.

Shoulder replacement on March 29. I have avoided thinking about this for months. Last year’s surgery repairing torn tendons consumed my summer with physical therapy.  Alas, during Thanksgiving, I fell and dislocated my shoulder. Ouch. Remember Inspector Kemp in Young Frankenstein? That has been me, using my good hand to move the bad arm. (My students find it comical to see me writing on the board with my good hand holding up my elbow.)

When the topic of my shoulder is under discussion, I am surprised how colleagues and acquaintances jump in with a horror story of their own. “Abe’s body rejected the replacement. It was a foreign object and after three more surgeries, he’s still in pain.” Or, “Amy got an infection and it nearly killed her.” I haven’t heard of anyone dying from a shoulder replacement, so that is what I’m focusing on.

Cloudy Afternoon

Should we sell Dorothy or take her with us? Jim found a discarded wooden sign down the hill from our motor home. Dorothy became the name of our “ship”. To me, Dorothy is a vessel that rocks and rolls during windy gusts. She requires preventative maintenance and diligent care. We bought her six months ago. She is thirty-eight feet long and cost $165,000 in 2002. Twenty years later, her value is nowhere near that amount, but she is priceless to Jim. He tinkers and attends to her with daily devotion. Since we are boondocking at the edge of an RV park, we get the benefits of a water filling/discarding service, internet, and the laundry room. It also means we rely on the generator and solar panels for energy. The instrument panel is checked throughout the day and night to ensure we do not run out of heat and electricity.  Jim has itched to drive her across the country when we move in late May. He promises me the Cummings engine can do it.

I, on the other hand, have become rather timid with adventures. I voted to sell her before we leave Arizona. I am afraid something will break during the 2,000-mile drive. I worry we will not recoup our money the longer we live in it. Last night, Jim and I drank wine and listened to Charles Lloyd play the sax while Lucinda Williams, whose voice could make a dog howl, sing “Dust.”

We talked about adventures and why I was becoming a scaredy-cat. “Why waste so much of your time thinking of our future home than appreciating our home today? In Dorothy?”

Jim refreshed my wine glass. We looked at the hills and watched the night set in. “We are about to cross the country, and that’s the adventure! Let’s stop in Nashville and see Graceland. Let’s eat ribs and listen to music in Memphis,” my wise husband suggested. 

Sorry, Dorothy. It is never too late for an attitude adjustment.

Time to share novel three and blog again. The third hurdle has been the World War II novel I put5555 on hold along with blogging. I’m vowing not to wish for the fut5ure. After all, who knows how March 29 will turn out?  And the third manuscript? I’m going to share “The Lost Sisters of Bataan” now. Chapter by chtapter. Be my guest and be a critic. I’ll hire a professional editor with the hope that Dartfrog Publishing will agree to its publication.

Love & Friendship,


2020s, In My Opinion, inspiration, photography

IMO: Middle of the Night Reflections

Today is my birthday. I’m 59. It’s 2:15 in the morning, and I can’t sleep. This post is a year in review, of sorts. Quickly, though–I still have to get up in the morning and teach. And celebrate being 59.

Blogging: In years past, on the 13th day of the month I’d host a “Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club” post. I miss that, talking to friends about the film industry. Many times the post generated over 100 comments. As it stands, I have lost the thrill of watching movies on a regular basis. A favorite hobby run dry. Why? Covid broke the habit of going to the movies, for one reason. Streaming changed the way I find entertainment. I seem to watch TV series more. I loved watching: Timeless, Jamestown, Poldark, Astrid, and the Tudor trio series The Spanish Princess, The White Princess, and The White Queen. As far as films go, I will report that The Power of the Dog, The Courier, The Green Knight, Belfast, Dune were winners for me.

Health: I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Do you want the list of issues and surgeries and hospitalizations and relapses? Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time. I confess I hate it when I’m in another doctor’s office, and they want to review my health conditions. In the end, I feel like a walking timebomb. What happened to the athlete from twenty years ago? How can living an active life of hard work and activity cause one’s body to break down? When I start to feel sorry for myself, I only have to consider all the people who are suffering from diseases I don’t have or are completely immobile. I believe “a body in motion, stays in motion” so I move. I will share when I was 17 riding my bicycle, I was hit in the back by a truck at an intersection. That began a lifetime of pain. Add a bad gene pool combined with too many hours at the computer–that recipe will ruin anyone’s body. But I’m not giving up. I am back at the gym, moving, stretching, building muscles. It feels good to do the right thing. I must.

Grief: Mom’s been gone for a year and a half. Blunt force trauma for me. A turning point. Juncture. Crossroads. Pick your synonym. Watching her die of cancer was too painful. People die every day. It was her turn. I get it. Anyway, time is softening the blow. The result of her loss caused me to return to the Catholic church. My mind took a break from religion a few years back because I was mad. Now I don’t care about my thoughts on religion. I just need to go to mass. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

Grief is the ambivalence of pain and numbness. Grieving is the absence of rational thought. It’s thrashing about in a pool of overwhelming feelings. These days, I just talk to her. We are all on journeys with beginnings and ends. It’s all okay.

Writing: So that book. I have been too numb to be creative. I am normally a goal-oriented, follow-through kind of gal, so I suspect I will finish it. I’ve only the final chapter to write before the editing begins. Since it’s about WW2, my new goal is to complete it before the 80th anniversary. My self-pity shrinks when I think about the destruction and the lost souls during the war. I feel a personal debt is owed to the men and women who served. I love what my flag symbolizes. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

The Move: Sometimes you just gotta change it up. Stir the pot. Clean the slate. The changes in my head, heart, and soul instigated the crazy move from Arizona to Virginia. It’s happening in stages. Stage one — sell the house. Stage two — get a job in Virginia and finish out the current contract. We wait. Jim and I are happy in our motor home with our big sky and beautiful view. We listen to music, get buzzed, and sleep heavily.

I have an interview for a job today! What a nice birthday present if I got the job, yes? It is to teach German to eighth-graders. I am not fluent, but I have a fun time getting them to love learning Deutsch. In my current position, I have four preps and report to three departments. My Master’s degrees are in history and English. German was a minor because I had the lofty goal of earning a Ph.D. That did not happen. However, for seventeen years now, I teach English Composition courses as an online adjunct for a community college in Virginia. I rationalize I achieved the lofty goal. At 59, I’m too young to retire. I will continue to teach because I can. And, I like to earn money and spend it on trips. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

Love: I’m feeling it a lot lately. My list of what I’m grateful for keeps growing like my love for my husband, my children, and my grandchildren. My dog. I want to live. I want to see and celebrate my 60th birthday in style doing something crazy cool around all those I love. I love my blogging friends, too. Who knew you would all be more real to me than the people I pass on the street?

I don’t care. And I care greatly. I am a work in progress. I thought being 59 meant I would have it all figured out. I know nothing. There’s bliss in that.

family, In My Opinion, inspiration, nature

IMO: Mothers & Daughters

Time repeats itself through the transference of one role to another. To experience wisdom has become the reward for growing older. Let me explain:

My daughter is thirty-three. When I spend time with her, there is an invisible mirror raised. Time places her on one side while I stand on the other. The younger version and older version of shared DNA stares at each other. Vanessa cannot see my side of the mirror. She does not know what it feels like to be fifty-eight, carrying the decades of experiences that molded me into what I am today.

Her sight is fuzzy; she cannot see my wisdom from arriving at this plateau where I stand, forged from my mistakes and accomplishments. All my dreams and disappointments. The anxiety of raising my children until now they have their own. The price paid is evident by my wrinkles and gray hair. Meanwhile, at thirty-three, she is blonde with a smooth complexion. Her body parts are firm and mobile. I miss that younger version of myself, but that’s a different story.

I’ve got the advantage. I confess it is a lot easier being fifty-eight than thirty-three.

When I was thirty-three, life was ahead of me. I wondered and planned and strived for my goals with a determination that they would come true. Now at fifty-eight, I am able to look back at my life and feel grateful I survived the dark holes and worrisome stress that causes one to smoke, drink too much, and cry rivers. It’s my daughter’s turn to wiggle through the angst of life; there’s not much I can do but…well, buy her some clothes.

When I was thirty-three, my mother occasionally took me clothes shopping at a local department’s store. I knew our trips were a way to bond. Just the two of us looking in the sales rack. I didn’t have much money because I was a single parent which means any extra money for clothes goes to the children.

That’s why she would buy me something to help out my limited wardrobe.

My heart ached for my mother today. Without thinking about it, I called up my daughter and asked if she’d accompany me to the local boutique in town. I bought her a few pieces of clothing to vamp up her limited wardrobe.

In that moment, I was connected to Mom. I was myself. I was Vanessa at thirty-three, and we all swirled around as one person in the present.

I like being fifty-eight.

What will I feel like in twenty-five years at eighty-three? I don’t have the perspective yet.