In search of story


June 4.23: Coping, but barely

Warning: I am going to talk about my medical history. The reason: it’s HHT Awareness Month, and I’ve been negligent about it the last few years.

The alarms rang for me maybe fifteen years ago in California when I saw all the blood in my mouth.  My dentist said he saw no reason for it, but he should have: telangiectasias in the mouth are easily seen. He didn’t know, so dismissed it.

Fast forward to 2012 in Indiana. My doctor didn’t know either but did not dismiss it; she sent me to an otolaryngologist, who diagnosed HHT. I learned HHT was likely the reason I hemorrhaged after I had my tonsils out when I was little. Seriously?

Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia is a genetic blood vessel disorder. I got it from Dad. We never knew that all his nosebleeds — and mine — were a symptom of this thing.

HHT causes malformed blood vessels, small and large, which rupture. If nosebleeds are caused by HHT, they are not “just nosebleeds.” Internal bleeding, anemia, other complications, some life-threatening, are possible.

Many foods and medicines have blood-thinning effects, not great if you have HHT. For me, tuna, grapes, cranberries, walnuts, for instance, mean extra kleenex at the ready.  Melatonin? No way. NSAIDs? Never.

We knew Dad had ischemic bleeds in his brain, and apparently they are associated with vascular dementia. But I’ve come to wonder if his long history of blood thinners caused hemorrhagic bleeds in his brain also, ganging up on him and contributing to his dementia. Like father, like daughter?

Even doctors and dentists are not aware of HHT. Now, dear reader, you are. I’ve done my small part.




April 20.23: Coping, but barely

I had my annual Medicare Wellness appointment the other day and therefore I have need to vent. Feel free to change the channel.

Understand that I think it is very good to keep old people on doctors’ radar. As our cogs keep slipping, we might not know it.

However, it should be old people who design the intake. Consider, dear reader: Do you have any problem with your memory? Answer yes or no. Yes OR no? Pfui! That is clearly yes AND no! At the very least, an essay question.

Where did I sit in fifth grade? No problem. The lyrics to “Up and Down the Monon”? I’m all over that.  The how-to directions I just read? Poof! Gone!

I have to look up the spellings of words I never had to look up in years past, and there are a couple words I can never remember how to spell no matter how often I look them up. I’d tell you what they are but I can’t remember them. Our party-line phone number in 1949? I can rattle that right off.

The word I want mid-sentence? Nowhere to be found. Latin names for plants? It is to laugh. The sixth-graders I taught in 1965? I just jotted down the names of 32 of them by way of memory test. The numerous times I’ve made an idiot of myself? Down to the last detail. What day is it? Ummm…

So how did I answer? NO. Because I know that up and down that “rootin’, tootin’ Monon…everything is fine.”

Thus ends my vent. For now.


October 18.22: Coping, but barely

Party food

it feeds the heart

even before

festivities start;


thus depicted

makes for diet


and so it behooves

the party planner

to include an apple

or bannaner.

Or stick of celery,

knob of berry,

to appease the health-food


But, health aside,

it must be said

the apple is ever

in party red;

it adds panache

to homey show

with beneficent, jolly

Pickwickian glow.

Then in slices

like little smiles

it spreads its cidery,

juicy wiles

in sticky comfort

all around

with virtuous munchy

party sound,

and if you’re The Grandma

you tend to cooking

and lick your fingers

when no one’s looking.



With thanks to Susan Rushton, whose praise of Jazz apples caused me to try them. She said I should look for the reddest, so I did. Will it surprise you, dear reader, to know that the reddest were on the bottom of the pile? I will leave to your imagination how I distinguished myself in that shopping moment.

I join Susan in praise of Jazz apples; on the occasion of my grandson’s 17th birthday, we all approved! Next will be a search for Judy’s favorite, the Macoun.

I learn so many good things from bloggers!



September 21.22: Coping, but barely

My mother had a habit —

endearing it was not —

that ended every argument

abruptly on the spot.

“That’s just dumb!” the guillotine,

no gentle, soft word cuddle,

the end, finis, the fortress wall

to onslaught of rebuttal.

To consider rank stupidity,

deserving of disdain,

to her was waste of time

and energy and brain.

I’d messily implode

when she Mommed me in this way,

but I must admit I hear me

quoting her today.

“Don’t cook chicken in Nyquil,”

the headline black and bold,

bewilders and confounds —

is it just because I’m old?

Besides the who-cares? key

that’s lacking on my board,

the that’s-just-dumb key’s missing

and I’d like it underscored.


Really, dear reader? Don’t cook chicken in Nyquil? Did you ever wish your parents, grandparents, or others in their generations were around to react to the things that assail us on the computer screen? I do. I think I’d laugh a lot.


Cookbook by Betty Crocker, 1940. Which you probably guessed.

I like to keep things that are older than I am, even if squeakingly so.


September 3.22: Coping, but barely

Harvest looms,

maple tips blush,

September’s percussion

comes in a rush.

Wachoo, snuffle, snort!

rings out through the land;

kleenex is crammed

in pocket and hand.

With sinuses gurgling,

persistent nose splash,

“Have a nice day”

is abject balderdash.

That hackneyed nice day

is pie in the sky

when the red of hot peppers

emblazons the eye.

Itching and wheezing

and scratchy of throat,

sufferers glare

when others emote

how lovely the day,

how pure the sky’s bluing;

they’d rail and berate,

but they’re busy wachooing.




September 15.21: Coping


My blog subtitle is “Coping.” See how well I’m doing?

I’ve coped by blogging, gardening, cursing rabbits and geese and my muse, baking (and eating), housecleaning (seriously), painting walls, and everything in between.

Maybe it’s more accurate to say I’ve tried to cope.

My younger son says we are dealing with low-level trauma, and I like that way of putting it. This is not an annoyance or a mere bother; this is trauma and it is permeating our lives like ammonia fumes. We are all stressed. We are exhausted from being exhausted.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for me. I am becoming a name-caller. YOU DASH-DASHED PEA-BRAINED YOKEL WITH THE WET COUGH! WEAR A MASK! YES, YOU, YOU WITLESS CREEP! Even though this is yelled in my head, it’s not something I would have mind-yelled before. This worries me.

It can justly be argued that these people deserve to be yelled at, to be tarred and feathered, that there’s such a thing as too much tolerance, that if we don’t at least mind-yell we’ll implode. Nonetheless, I am not sure that my creeping impulse to commit mayhem is exactly coping. 

Some day my subtitle will change. I hope I will too.




February 28.21: Coping


Lines that dwindle

in a finite distance

but return, yawning,

retreat again,

pulling walls with them.

The boomerang of the hour

just spent,

but back again,

to be lived again.

The thread unraveling,

longer each day,


dragged through life’s leavings.

Eyes numb,

ears empty but for sounds of

the breathing self,


the scraping of a plate.

World goal:

to live without touching.

We are safe from COVID —



More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.



February 18.21: Coping

One of these is my muse, dear reader. Standing stodgily and stupidly on the frozen pond. Hanging out with someone else’s muse, no doubt, both determined to be useless.

So, uninspired, I will write about what is.

Snow and more snow. Cold and more cold. A world in pandemic, a country in turmoil, and, at the moment, with millions battered by the weather with no power, and some without running water.

Monday the winter storms barreled into Indiana. In my best swaddled shmoo look, I shoveled the first wave of snow, which was fluffy and light, and, having congratulated myself on that, I decided to start the car and let it run a few minutes. I was walking in the garage when one of my booted left feet found something to slip on and went its own way. I grabbed the car and went down in one of those memorable slow-motion falls. It was not a serious fall. Except. Except that my cheekbone hit the rim of a plastic flowerpot. The crack heard ’round the world.

This in a monster winter storm. I was scared.

My son was able to get me to Urgent Care the next day. Nothing is broken, but if you are picturing an old lady with half her face the color and shape of an eggplant, you’d be close.  An occasional Tylenol is in order.

The past twelve months have taken a toll on us all. We’d be foolish to understate that. Everything that happens to us right now hits hard and cuts deep. We all wish our muses would bring us magic words to make things better for each other. Failing that, we can only write about being human.