Zumba, Walking and Working Out


Greetings, Readers:

The City of Charleston, SC is so blessed to have great weather again. It is only 85 degrees at the moment. A bit humid, but a great day to walk the pups. I confess, I have a fourth pup now — a foster child who needs much discipline. When I rescued him, I was told he was about two years old. I think he’s younger, especially when discovering the rescue center knew absolutely nothing about him. Couldn’t even tell me his name. So sad. He is a little ambitious to work with. Feisty. Funny, and starved for human contact. Today, I attempted to walk him with my three babies. I lost the battle. He does well on a leash, if it is only him, although he does like to chew the leash — in to! He’s chewed thru two already! As we left the house today, he managed to wrap his leash around my right leg, and chew. OK, little guy. You win. I’m taking you back home. I will walk him in the back yard until he is accustomed to walking on a leash!

Poor baby. I returned him back to the kitchen breakfast room, gated him, and off I went to walk my three dogs. I needed the exercise and my babies are accustomed to my rules. It was a great walk. A great day to enjoy the warm sunshine, the slight breeze and the humidity.

Now that I am home, I have my Zumba DVD ready to cue and in a few minutes, I will do thirty minutes of zumba. I can hardly wait. If you haven’t done Zumba, you must, especially if you like to dance! And I confess, I LOVE DANCING!

May your day be great, and if you are within the recovery path of Hurricane Irene, I sincerely hope your life will return to normal soon. It isn’t easy surviving a hurricane. Suddenly you are forced to camp out in your own home, that is, if you can return to your home. I still remember how difficult it was for me after Hurricane Hugo. Flip a switch for the lights. Oops. No power yet. Take a shower — a cold shower. I learned to appreciate them! Eating canned goods, especially canned tuna. I haven’t touched canned tuna since Hugo! Before Hugo, I loved to go camping with my husband. Now, I detest roughing it, considering an inexpensive hotel as ‘roughing it’ as I will get!

And now, I must get busy and start the music to do my Zumba. It is such fun! Have a great day!

Goodbye Irene!


Yesterday, the City of Charleston felt a bit of Hurricane Irene. Today, all is quiet. No rain. Still having gusting winds, but nothing like yesterday. While writing, I watched (and heard) several tree branches falling into my back yard from a neighbor’s pine tree, and a dead oak tree, standing tall in my yard.

“Oh God, please don’t let the oak tree fall,” I prayed, watching it swaying as tree branches popped and fell.

Pleased to say, the tree held. I will hire a tree surgeon to take this tree down. Hopefully, I’ll not have any difficulty getting permission to cut it down. Once, it was beautiful, with lots of leaves and plenty of shade. Now, I still have leaves, although not many. I will miss this tree when it is gone. We’ve been connected since moving to this house in 1977.

During the path of Irene, I heard many people say they would just throw a hurricane party. I laughed. “You’ve never been thru a hurricane, have you?”

Nope, they nodded. “If it hits us, you better hope you don’t throw a party. The people who appear the strongest are the ones who will shriek and freak out during the storm. It isn’t a pretty sight to watch!”

Thinking of my experience during 1989 when I was a volunteer for students during Hugo, I do not wish to ride out the storm again, and I certainly don’t want to fight the congested, non-moving traffic like I did in 1999. My husband and I drove our cars onto a less-traveled road on Highway 41, only to stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic that failed to move, as the winds increased, the band of rain arrived and we thought we would end up sitting on the highway when the storm approached. Fortunately, as we stayed in the traffic, moving only 57 miles in 9.5 hours, we watched the winds decrease. We found a hotel, or perhaps I should say, an interesting motel that was probably opened for business in hopes to get the hurricane traffic and not their ‘normal clientele.’ We were so exhausted we did not care! The next morning, we drove home — in less than 45 minutes!

For this storm, I told my husband I would gather enough snacks and foods for three days early, in the event Irene visited us. I filled the car with gas on Tuesday. Shopped for all that we would need, including paper plates, and I had everything prepared for us to stay. I simply refuse to fight that traffic again. It was such a nightmare in 1999!

For all who are in the path of Hurricane Irene, I wish you well. You are in my prayers and I fully believe all will be well. It may not sound like all is well as the strong winds whistle along the coastline and inward, but Irene is now downgraded to a category one. This too shall pass.

Goodbye, Hurricane Irene. I see the sun breaking thru the clouds as I write this. The wind is blowing briskly, but there is hope. Sunshine is on its way. The awakening of a new day!

Have You Heard About Doggie Weight Watchers?


If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably remember I am losing weight with Weight Watchers. To date, I have dropped 21.6 pounds. Joining Weight Watchers on March 3, 2011, it has been a slow process. Things were going well after one of my closest friends joined WW and we compared weight losses. Of course she was ahead of me, but she got bored with it and quit. She is still maintaining what she lost, but I miss my buddy!

Effective yesterday, I placed one of my dogs on a type of ‘Doggie Weight Watchers.’ Shakespeare Hemingway is my eight-year-old mini schnauzer. He is a sweet, affectionate pup who recently had a surgical procedure to, ‘clip his wings.’ When we arrived at the vet’s office for his procedure, he weighed 34 pounds. Ouch! He has gained six pounds in six months.

The doctor recommended putting Shakespeare on a weight loss program, and so, since he suggested ‘vegetables such as green beans,’ and the new Points Plus program with Weight Watchers includes lots of vegetables, I thought it would be simple to place Shakespeare on a weight control program.

My dear Shakespeare, effective yesterday, you will have vegetables with your meal. Last night, he had grilled asparagus mixed in with his reduced calorie dog food. I have cut back his food intake by 40%, as recommended by the Vet. He ate every bite. Tonight, he will have green beans with his meal. Only one treat during the day, and one treat at night, at night-night-time. Sorry little guy, but you’ve got to lose weight!

Since he has come home to recuperate, Shakespeare is doing well. That is –with exception of the E-collar he must wear until Sunday. This E-collar has truly confused him, causing him to lose his balance a bit, and he is constantly bumping in to things. Just getting him to go outside is a challenge! And when he is outside, he bumps into the bird bath, the shrubs and the trees, bouncing back he raises his head, as if to say, “What is going on? I can’t even walk around now, after getting my wings clipped. Mom, what have you done to me?”

I am truly looking forward to Sunday morning when I can disconnect this obnoxious E-collar and let my boy run and play like he did before — the clipping of his wings.

Hopefully, Shakespeare will continue eating the veggies with his meal and he will drop a few pounds. My goal for him is to get him to the weight he was last year — 26 pounds. He doesn’t look overweight now, just a bit muscular. My poor little guy. I hope he enjoys being my new buddy with Weight Watchers!

The new logo for Weight Watchers is “Because it works,” and it does. Hopefully, Shakespeare will be able to share, ‘Doggie Weight Watchers works well too!’ So now, I have a new buddy — my sweet little Shakespeare Hemingway!

Goodbye Vietnam a Video Well Worth Watching


This morning while reading overnight e-mails, I read one I would probably delete. The title intrigued me, a simple “Goodbye Vietnam.” Curiosity got the best of me, so I opened and read.

Just a brief, “hope you will listen.” And so, I clicked:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=ASETse4oNlI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

This video is written by a war hero. It is a compelling story of “A highly decorated soldier’s story of becoming free of the nightmares and sleepless nights caused by post traumatic stress disorder from combat in Viet Nam. Once suicidal, medicating on alcohol and drugs is now free from it all and is looking forward to a new life after over 40 years of PTSD.”

As most of my readers know, I hold a special place of my heart for veterans, especially the Vietnam Veterans. My husband is finally proud to say he served in Vietnam. He suffers terribly with nightmares and PTSD. Sudden noises, even the simple slamming of a car door, or a household door, startles him. For many years, when he heard these noises, he would ‘hit the ground.’ If he saw someone wearing a pointed straw hat, he rushed away. Fireworks traumatized him. The scenarios could continue, but you’ll simply have to listen to this video and pay close attention to recognize only a bit of what our precious soldiers endure with a war. Still to this day, I cannot understand it. When my husband gets in a rage and attacks me verbally, I close myself away, knowing that ‘this too shall pass.’ When he is truly angry, I hear, “It don’t mean nothing!” I’ve grown to hate that expression, knowing full well, “It don’t mean nothing” is his way of shutting down in hopes his anger, rage and verbal attacks will pass.

Please share this video with your precious soldiers and veterans. Perhaps they will not want to watch it. If that is the case, do yourself a favor and listen to it. Have tissues nearby. Tears are dancing inside my eyes while writing this. While I cannot understand what happened, as the wife who has comforted, held, and listened to my husband talking about “the V-C” and “Charlie” has taught me to be appreciative that I have stayed to make our marriage work. Only 1% of the Vietnam era marriages survived. No, we do not know what they experienced, but I am proud to say, “Thank you for your service. I hope America learned from Vietnam.” Watch the video, “Goodbye Vietnam”

Have a great week and hug your veteran!

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=ASETse4oNlI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Segregation in the South in the Twenty-First Century


If you read my post on a regular basis, you must know I am a feminist who believes in the rights of all humans, regardless of race, color, religion or whatever.

Last Friday  I had a situation occur that truly ruffled my feathers. My husband and I were standing in line for dinner at a private club that I shall not name. Not because we are members, but simply do not want to start a P-R war with them. While standing, I listened to the conversations of some of the people ahead of the line. Since I am a writer, I do have the tendency to listen to other conversations. Not necessarily eaves dropping, but when their voices are so loud that they appear to bounce across the room, these conversations do attract my attention.

The line moved slowly. The more I listened to this particular woman, the angrier I became. She was white-haired, actually — one of the silver blue colors of a woman who hasn’t aged gracefully. Slump shouldered, with a road map of a face, heavy makeup and bifocals on her face, her voice was filled with anger and bigotry. Attracted to her voice, due to her attitude and the bigotry, my husband looked at me, knowing I was listening intensely to the conversation.

She spoke to the people she knew. The conversation continued:

“Well now, you know school starts next week and I still can’t believe they let THEM ride on the same bus with my grandchildren. THEY won’t be prepared for anything in school. My daughter called me yesterday to tell me I needed to send some money to the school, to help THEM with all the tools THEY need.”

“What?” I said. “I ain’t helping THEM. That’s why I pay taxes, and if THEY made it possible to attend my grandchildren’s school, then THEY need to pay for things…not my tax dollars.”

The people standing next to her nodded, said “Uh, huh,” agreeing with her.

Her scraggly voice continued:

“And I still can’t believe we’ve got one of THEM in our office as President of these United States. Why it makes me so mad I could spit!”

I confess, when something really gets under my skin, my face reveals it! My husband looked over at me, knowing and expecting me to intercept this conversation.

“Would you like to go find us a table for eight?” He asked.

Relieved, I nodded, and I spoke in a voice I am certain this woman still stuck in the 1950’s heard:

“That is a great idea. I am getting just a bit PERPLEXED with all the conversations in this line.”

I stepped forward. Walking by the group, I smiled my sweetest Southern Belle smile, “Excuse me,” I said, rushing by without allowing them to respond.

You must know, I do not claim to be a Southern Belle…more like a Steel Magnolia who voices her opinion, but sometimes, it is the body language and the demeanor that lets others know how ridiculous bigotry still is in the Twenty-first Century.

Sometimes, the less we say, the better! I recognize I live in the South, in a state that still has citizens who cannot move forward with change. To those people I say, you are missing out on a lot of culture, and friendship.

When my husband joined our table, I asked him about the conversations. He smiled and squeezed my hand. “After you entered, they hushed.”

Sometimes, the less said — the better. “Kill with kindness” has always been my belief. I will not lower my standards, nor will I simply go quiet into the night!

August 16, 1977 – The Day We Lost “Elvis the King”


Somehow, I totally lost my story about “The Day We Lost “Elvis the King,” so I shall try to re-write this.

For those thinking I’ve lost my mind, I haven’t — it was a ‘computer glitch!’

Thirty-four years ago, America and the world mourned when the death of Elvis Presley was announced. 1977 was a different time! Computers were still – just a dream in every home. Now, we have such a high-paced busy world we cannot even share dinner with family or friends without checking e-mail or text. Sometimes, we must get back to the simple things in life.

Thirty-four years ago, Elvis Presley was living his dream, although he paid a high price for that life. Addicted to so much medication he could not function without them.

Last year, December 2010, to be exact, my husband and I took a vacation to Memphis, TN. Every where we went, Elvis was alive. Strangers shared stories with us. True or not, they were quite entertaining! One particular woman shared a story and I will quote it here, in her words:

“I was standing by the bus stop once when a good-looking guy dressed in black leather rode by on a motorcycle. A Harley Davidson. Oh, it sounded so tough, just like him. He nodded as he passed and I smiled my biggest smile. A few minutes later, he rode by again. Only this time, he stopped. He asked me if I wanted to ride. Since he was so cute, I said, ‘sure.’ So around we rode on his tough sounding motorcycle. He sang to me while cruising around and I remember telling him he had a good voice. He laughed. ‘Honey, I hope so,’ he said. We stopped for ice cream and that is when he told me his name. ‘I’m Elvis Presley,’ he said to me. I laughed, unimpressed. A few minutes later, he pulled a ring box from his pocket.

‘Keep it, to remember me,’ he said.’

I didn’t keep the ring, giving it to a friend. I guess I just didn’t know who he was, but I’ve never forgotten that cute guy riding his motorcycle. Laughing and joking and singing to me.”

Who cares if the story is true, or not, but the memory of Elvis Presley, his generosity and kindness to strangers, the many gifts he shared with others, all of these stories are simply a reflection of the true Elvis Presley. The rebellious, gorgeous kind-spirited ‘cool looking guy on a motorcycle’ who rebelled, stood his ground and accomplished so much.

Rest in peace, Elvis Presley. Your legend and memory lives on and will be forever not just a memory but an icon for all who dreamed and believed that we can all do it, “My Way!”

America Mourns the Loss of Navy Seals and Troops


While writing the newsletter this month for the local VFW, my heart is breaking for all the troops lost during this timeframe, especially on Saturday, August 6, 2011 in the fighting in Afghanistan. Details are still sketchy; reportedly, 22 Navy Seals have been lost, nevertheless, as a former military wife, I await the news, curious if any are from South Carolina and if any are female. Reportedly, ‘the remains of the soldiers’ [how I detest that expression ] are scheduled to arrive home today, August 9, 2011. The expression of ‘the remains’ seems to dehumanize just who and what these individuals were. Regardless of where their home of records is, all of these soldiers are comrades-in-arms. They are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, cousins, and so on. America will miss them. Nothing we say will make their loss easier, but as American citizens and Veterans we can say a prayer, in hopes that one day soon, America will have peace. Rest in peace dear soldiers. We mourn your loss.

According to
Armytimes.com:

The Naval Special Warfare community is experiencing “shock and disbelief” after 22 died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Also killed eight additional U.S. service members, a civilian interpreter and seven Afghan soldiers.

“The CH-47 Chinook crash, which occurred during a raid in Wardak province, is believed to be the biggest single loss ever suffered by the NSW community or in the 24-year history of U.S. Special Operations Command.”

Reportedly, 17 were SEALs and five were direct support personnel. Two of the SEALs were from a West Coast SEAL unit, but the others were from Gold Squadron of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DevGru, sometimes known as SEAL Team 6. As a writer and someone who has a special portion of my heart reserved for the military, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to all the family and friends of these brave soldiers.

From Jim Davis, Founder of Veterans-for-Change:

“The DoD announced the deaths of the following soldiers who were supporting OEF. Marine Sgt. Daniel D. Gurr, 21, of Vernal, Utah, died Aug. 5 while
conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, II Marine
Expeditionary Force (Forward), Okinawa, Japan. Army Spc. Jinsu Lee, 34, of Chatsworth, Calif. died Aug. 5, in Kunar province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Army Spc. Mark J.
Downer, 23, of Warner Robins, Ga
. died Aug. 5, in Kandahar province,
Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a
rocket-propelled grenade. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry
Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. Marine Sgt. Daniel J. Patron, 26, of Canton, Ohio, died Aug. 6 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Rest in peace, and thank you for a job well done! Please keep these families in your prayers during this their time of need and comfort!”

Normally, the Navy Seals are a classified group of our military; however, these are not normal times. Below, I have listed a few of their names, according to http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1036327–profiles-in-courage-a-look-at-some-of-the-seals-who-died.
The article is worthy of reading, but please have tissues nearby.

  • Michael Strange, Philadelphia, PA, on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
  • Kevin Houston, carried an American flag under his body armor, with exception of this date. On his fourth tour of duty, recipient of a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.
  • Patrick Hamburger, Grand Island, Nebraska – only in  Afghanistan for less than two weeks. Had future plans to propose marriage to his girlfriend.
  • Aaron Carson Vaughn,  deeply religious, joined the Seals after boot camp.
  • Kraig Vickers, Hawaii, father of three, wife is expecting their fourth child.
  • John Tumilson, Rockford, Iowa
  • Matt Mills, father of three, served missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. His grandfather served with the Marines after Pearl Harbor.
  • Jason Workman, Blanding, Utah.
  • John W. Brown, Little Rock, Arkansas, a paramedic. His mother called him “Rambo with an attitude.”
  • Brian Bill, Stamford, Connecticut, desired to become an astronaut after his military service.
  • Matthew Mason, Kansas City – refused to allow an arm injury stop him from serving with the Seals. After losing part of his left arm, he returned to his Seal unit. Father of two toddlers.

Every loss of a soldier leaves a hole in the hearts of the loved ones; it is tragic when so many lives are lost in one battle. As the news reports continue, the five stages of grief leave this editor asking why. Will we ever accomplish the missions we must to end terrorism and war? Perhaps only a Veteran can answer that question, but the grief I feel for all the losses in August, 2011, along with the additional lives we have lost previously in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other wars leaves me with such grief that I truly cannot express. My prayers are with all of our soldiers, past, present and future. We pay an extraordinary emotional price to have freedom in America.

Update on Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital!


Early this morning, my husband went to Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital E-R, diagnosis of a most painful and infected ingrown toenail. Lately, it appears he is having trouble with his feet, probably a side effect and symptom of Diabetes. If you read my blog regularly you probably recall how furious I was a few months ago with this hospital and their Veterans care.

Today, I am pleased to report — his experience at the hospital was a good one. While it is true, I did not go with him, he is a man of truthfulness and reported back to me that the customer service as a veteran was a good one.

He wasn’t able to see a podiatrist since the doctor is on a medical leave and his regular doctor is on leave this weekend; however, yesterday, she did return his phone call in a prompt manner, so it appears that the service at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is improving!

Thank you! The last time I went with my husband, I almost had a cat fight with a certain nurse — and that is something I do not normally do! Nevertheless, like most women, there are certain buttons that can push me and when she reported to me in her condescending manner that “you can always go somewhere else,” — the emotions on my face were certainly an effective body language. Fortunately, for me, I chose to be diplomatic and walk away, but inside — let’s just say, my feathers were ruffled — big time.

So, I am happy to report my husband did receive a bit of service today, and reportedly, he will see a podiatrist. The question is when!??!

Nothing like the military cliché — “Hurry up and wait!” At least customer service is improving! Thank you Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. You obviously are listening!  Our Veterans deserve good service and kindness and I must remember to practice that when my hubby’s PTSD kicks in. Let’s just say — he really pushes my buttons, ruffles my feathers and at times, can bring out the beast in me, and I do not like it when I am a beast!  I like to be a nice person, not someone that loses her cool!

Have a great day!

Dead Fish Along the Shores of Sullivan’s Island, SC


Today, I drove to the beach, ready for a relaxing day. I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be! Entering the Station 27 walkway, I turned left, only to discover a pile of dead fish along the shore! The closer I got, the more I discovered, including little fish, I suppose they were minnows? I do not confess to be a ‘fisher woman,’ just a woman ready to enjoy a nice day at the beach. Stopping, I grabbed my Blackberry, took a few photographs and posted them on Facebook.

Why are the fish dying? Could it be the extreme heat indexes we have experienced in Charleston for such a long time has decreased the oxygen? Or, could it be the water along the first lagoon is drastically polluted? Regardless, the dead fish need to be removed. At the moment, they were not smelling, but they will!

I have seen many children entering the water in this lagoon previously. I certainly hope they do not attempt to cross the waters into the next sandbar area without noticing the dead fish.

This discovery truly placed a damper on my enjoyment of the beach. Why are fish dying? Seagulls were standing along the shoreline, I suppose awaiting when they would have the freedom to eat the dead fish.

How I hope I do not have nightmares about the dead fish, and I hope all families will approach this area with much caution. Sullivan’s Island Town Hall — it is time to clean up and remove the dead fish! What an impression this makes for the Atlantic Ocean beaches!

A New Role Model for Women — Gabby Giffords!


When I heard the news that Gabby Giffords was in Washington to vote, I took a deep breath, thankful that she is improving every day and oh so thankful that she is still a strong woman!  Her recovery since the shooting has truly been amazing!

Women such as Gabby are rare.  My desire has always been to be a role model for others, especially since I grew up in a small mill town where survival was tough! I grew up admiring Jacqueline Kennedy, Katherine Hepburn  and the teachers who guided me.  In the twenty-first century it appears role models are hard to define; however, the grace, determination and strength of a woman such as Gabby Giffords truly makes me proud.

Gabby Giffords recovery is a day-to-day struggle. No doubt she has fought her way back, all to the credit of her husband who never left her sight during those days of darkness, and the amazing team of medical professionals who cared for her.

Gabby Giffords is a new role model for women and America. Yesterday, we all breathed a sigh of relief, just to see her! Way to go, Gabby. May your recovery continue to show women that we seek our dreams and serve as role models to the world!