Could I have multiple personality disorder?

Maybe so, because I am having trouble keeping track of who I am.  See, I met a lady whose daughter wants to learn to ride horses and my mind flashed back to days and daydreams gone by.  One of those dreams was of riding cross country on horseback, camping along the way.  I could see it; I might could still do it.  Of course, I don’t have a horse, I don’t know anyone here who does have a horse, and I can’t even camp out on an air mattress on my own floor without paying a mighty price.  Caught up in the throes of this personality, however, I immediately went downstairs and checked on the well-being of the saddle I can’t quite seem to give up.  It was alive and well and beaming out hope.

I never went on that horseback trip back in those days because I was doing the whole 40-hour work week thing, broken up by a two-week vacation in the summer with the kids.   See?  That’s yet another personality.  I enjoyed writing for a living, and I enjoyed my children.  We had a blast on those vacations.

Now I am retired.  The 40-hour routine is done with, and the children have long flown the coop.  I now have the freedom to reinvent myself however I choose.  Well, there are limitations because most of my would-be inventions involve substantial amounts of money – which I don’t currently have (enter the lottery winning personality).


A few days ago, I watched a movie called “Dog,” and I got right on Google and started browsing websites looking for puppies and envisioning my solitary life with my faithful canine companion.  I briefly considered a career as an animal communicator.  I’ve read about that, but so far, I have never intuited anything animals might want to pass along to me or others.  So, I guess that plan is shot to heck.

Today I was watching a movie about a former movie star who escaped her old-folks home (these days they are called retirement communities or assisted living) and went on an impromptu adventure to France.  So, I promptly checked my passport to be sure I could just jump and run at a moment’s notice.  Again, the money thing reared its ugly little head.

Over the past couple of years, I have imagined a semi-reclusive life in the mountains growing herbs and creating healing ointments and elixers.  In that particular life movie, Bambi and the racoons all gather round my doorstep awaiting my company, while birds sing on the porch rails and chipmunks scurry around my feet.

In a different reel, I am traveling the country seeing stuff and selling books at independent book stores from coast to coast.  In yet another, I own only a suitcase, a carryon, and good shoes.  I disembark from a 30-day cruise and climb onto a bus for a European tour.  Then I spend a couple of months in a cottage in Scotland, and maybe back onto a ship for another cruise.

As I replaced my passport, dusted my saddle, and checked the herb garden, I realized that these competing visions of the future might not be what most people experience, so I sat down to really analyze this issue.  And that’s when I came up with MPD.   The only problem there is that all my personalities are perfectly well aware of the others, and no one is in charge.

Ideally, I would integrate these folks into one free spirit who wears silk palazzo pants while riding a horse into the mountains to feed the deer and forage for wild herbs to make medicines to take on the ship when I sail away to summer in the south of France.

But therapists aren’t cheap either, so I guess we will all have to try to live together peacefully.   Or maybe it isn’t a disorder at all.  Maybe it’s Walter Mitty syndrome.  Or maybe they are all really choices and I have some fun times ahead.  The only problem is that troublesome issue of money.  You know what they say, “Money is the root of all adventure.”

A Flatlander in the Hills of North Carolina





Is it just me or does it scream “RECENT TRANSPLANT” if you fall out of your own yard three time while trying to mow the grass?

My prior lawn mowing escapades have included running a new Zero Turn mower over two of my prize blueberry bushes before I got the hang of the thing, but I’ve never fallen out of the yard before.  Granted, I was in the deep South where a fire ant mound constitutes undulating topography.  Now I am in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and my front lawn slopes steeply from my porch to the road.  A few weeks ago I was using the apparently ancient riding lawnmower I had bought after attempting to coerce a push mower around Mount Phyllis.  And it was self-propelled—the lawn mower, not the mount.  (Note to self.  Disengage the self-propel function when going DOWN the incline.)

So, anyway, being low on funds, I searched for an affordable riding mower.  Being low on mechanical saavy . . . I bought one.  The first time I tried to use it, I thought I would surely either topple over going sideways across a mini mountain or rush headlong to a spectacular death speeding down said mountain.  But by the time I finished the front yard—and a bottle of cheap red wine—it wasn’t so bad.  I had learned when to go sideways, when to go up the incline and when and how fast to go down the incline.  (Otherwise, you either fall out of the yard or slide backwards into the road.)  I had also learned the intricacies of self-propel, as I still had to push mow the scariest places.

Unfortunately, each time I used the riding mower, it worked less well.  It slid around and backwards on the hills unless the ground was very dry and the grass was very short—in which case it didn’t need mowing anyway.  Add to that, the cutting deck apparently became unlevel (maybe when I got stuck on the little tree trunk), as it scalped on one side of the cut and was long on the other, requiring a second pass.

When I got done, I called my son – who MAY be wishing I would go back to undulating ant hill territory – to witness the lawn mowing fiasco.  My front yard looked like it had been attacked by a horde of mutant land-dwelling vegetarian piranhas.  As my neighbors all keep their lawns immaculately manicured, this dilemma may resolve itself when I am run out of the neighborhood on a rail—or on my own ancient, inefficient, limping riding mower.

My son looked at the yard in wonder, or was that dismay, then went into the garage to check out the lawnmower.  After a brief inspection he said, “Uh, Mom, did you know your back tires are flat?”  I looked. The left one was low and went flat when weight was applied, but the right one was undeniably flat as a pancake. (We say flat as a flitter down in flatlander country, but what the heck is a flitter?  Could it be a fritter and I’ve been saying it wrong for decades?  But I digress.)

Well that explained the piranhas and also corroborated the reason there is a petition in at least two states to prevent me from handling any kind of tools, yard or otherwise.  Said son aired up the tires, which promptly went flat, and then had tubes put in them and I was back in business.  The yard is neatly mowed, but there was still the matter of the edging.  I’ve just ignored it all summer, except for the one time I tried to weed eat with a pair of scissors.

There was only one thing to do, so I went to the Agricultural Warfare Armaments Division HQ (commonly known as Lowes Garden Department) and purchased an electric weed eater – and a hedge trimmer for good measure.  I came home, and I have suited up and am going in. Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her power tools on!

A Birthday Warning from the Universe?

I am offended.  I opened Facebook this morning and saw this: “Phyllis, it’s almost your birthday.  That did not offend me.  But it was followed by links to pages for Alzheimer’s Association and 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline! That DID offend me.

I have always enjoyed birthdays — mine and other people’s.  I thought they were a day to celebrate – my own entrance into this life and the fact that the world was graced with their presence.  Apparently, I’ve been doing it wrong.  And now I seem to have been warned that this upcoming birthday is the beginning of a major downward spiral.  Either I am going to want to escape using drastic measures, or I’m just not going to remember it at all.

And here I thought I was starting a new chapter.  I was planning on making the next 20 or so years the best ones ever.  I have started writing a new book; I’ve begun laying the groundwork to seriously market the books I’ve already written; I’ve been daydreaming about spending springtimes in Europe.  I wanted to take up hiking and maybe ride a horse again once in a while.

So, now what?  Do I go into mourning  for my lost youth and all the opportunities I allowed to pass me by?  Do I cultivate a deep depression?  (I’ve never been very good at staying depressed.)  Or maybe I should take up heavy drinking and get a jump start on the forgetting.  Or combine the two – get drunk and become absolutely maudlin, then forget why.

Then I looked outside.  There were deer in the yard and cardinals at the bird feeder.  The sun was shining and the air was cool.  What do you know about anything, Facebook?  I closed the app and put on my walking shoes (got to build up for hiking, just in case).  Today, the only thing I will forget is that I am getting older.  But maybe instead of my morning smoothie, I will put a martini in my Yeti cup.  Gotta hedge my bets, after all.

Happy Days are Here Again


It is midmorning and I just finished doing three loads of laundry, vacuuming all the German Shedder hair floofs up from the entire house – including under the furniture — and mopping the floors.  Big deal, most of you would say.  Well, I am here to tell you it IS a big deal.

I spent the last week with a hot sock stuck to my face, swabbing my gums with organic honey and clove oil, stuffing my cheek with black tea bags, and slathering my jawbone with essential oils, while taking every pharmaceutical offered by the dentist.  Getting out of the recliner, turning off the endless Netflix stream of “Virgin River,” and cleaning my house is amaaaazing.

Some people dream of winning the lottery, taking a European river cruise, or spending a month in Tuscany; others imagine white water rafting or wilderness camping.  Me?  I’ve just been daydreaming about a root canal and the energy to scrub the toilet.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have had loftier dreams and I am sure I will again after the euphoria of being able to run the vacuum wears off.  Right now I am high on Mr. Clean and I’ve been tooling around the house sporting rubber gloves and carrying a feather duster like a scepter.

I haven’t even had the root canal yet.  This is all from that under-heralded Wonder of the World, amoxicillin.  Yeah, baby.  That’s what I’m talking about.  With all my touting of natural cures and the dangers of chemical drugs, you may rightly ask if I am concerned about my gut microbiome with all these antibiotics.  Heck no.  In between doses, I am sipping kefir from a wine glass.

I will make this brief, since nobody really wants a play by play, I am sure.  I just had to share my joy.  God’s in His heaven, my dentist is fantastic, and all is right with the world.

Go Ahead, Be a Weenie

ID 115633585 © Yanisa Deeratanasrikul |

I used to scoff at people who ran to the doctor at the first sign of a sniffle, or rushed off for X-rays every time they slid out the back steps in the rain.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  Don’t be a weenie.  Go drink some Echinacea tea for the sniffle.  As for that possible broken leg – it might be just a sprain, limp on it a while and see.

So when the dentist recently said, “That tooth will need a root canal.  It is bothering you?”  I said, “Nah,” totally ignoring the occasional twinges I had been getting for the last year.  It was a twinge, for heaven’s sake.  I wasn’t going to be a baby.

So that is how I came to spend the last week holding a microwavable warming footie to my face (not caring in the least that it had last adorned my right foot) and pushing mega doses of ibuprofen down my gullet without regard to the NSAID warnings about stomach irritation.  I was going to die of the golf ball size swelling in my jaw anyway if I didn’t do something, so I couldn’t be bothered with thoughts of a little ulcer.  Besides, I was already taking an acid reducing medication, so it should all balance out.

I was calling every dentist in town to see if I could get a root canal within the hour and blubbering like an infant when the closest appointment was two weeks out.  I even showed up at my primary care physician’s office unannounced to show her my face and see if she could slice open the golf ball or yank out the tooth.  Besides reminding me that appointments were the approved method of getting in to see a doctor, the receptionist and the nurse told me that the antibiotics I was given by my dentist were designed to get the infection under control so a root canal could be safely done.  They also gazed in awe at the protuberance in my jaw, commenting, “Man, that looks painful.”  This did not help.

Dejected, I went back home and stared in the mirror to see if it looked any better at all and wondered how I could sneak in to a dentist.  Maybe force an extraction at gunpoint.  But that was just the fever talking.  I munched on a couple of Tylenol and thought, you know, I never had to wait a long time for the vet if one of the animals was sick or in pain.  They are doctors, after all; maybe I’ll just swing by and . . .  no, that’s crazy talk.  Or, is it?   I shook my head, which brought clarity — and searing pain — then slowly gathered my amoxicillin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and warming footie and  settled into the recliner with the remote and dreams of a root canal.

I know one thing.  There is no glory is staying away from the doctor’s office and toughing things out.  I could have saved myself a lot of agony by just admitting my tooth ached a bit (and that my leg might really be broken that night since it followed me backwards down the steps).  I am reformed.  If taking care of my health makes me a weenie, just call me Oscar Mayer.

0body Rites Nymr

How often in a day do you get a text from somebody, especially young somebodies, that you have to decipher? It’s like a paragraph of acronyms. But worse. It’s TextSpeak. Or would that be txt spk? Not only do they not use real words, they see no need for capitalization or punctuation. “hi c u sn bty need $” Where will it stop?

We already know kids aren’t being taught cursive in school. How long before they don’t know how to spell at all? Or write at all? Will there soon be a day when we walk into nursery school and see all the toddlers with iPads (maybe called totPads), learning basic communication with abbreviated words and emojis? Kids already text when they are in the same room with their friends; will oral communication become a thing of the past? Will our larynxes shrivel up as we evolve? I can see it now. In the distant future, giant thumbs on legs are studying archeological remains. They have found the missing link, a race of beings from the 21st Century. Odd creatures these ancients; they have long torsos with a slender apparatus upholding an orb on which are located the eyes, nose and eating orifice. In the apparatus is some bony structure. “wht cud this hav been used 4,” one archeologist texts to another.

This train of thought all began when I ran out to the store to get stationery. I wanted to write a letter to my mother-in-law, but realized I had no dedicated writing paper. All I had was copy paper for the printer and some legal pads yellowing with age. How long had it been since I had actually hand written a letter? Far too long, obviously, as I soon found that stationery had become an endangered commodity. Walmart had notebook paper, but no letter paper. I tried Walgreen’s and was momentarily buoyed when I spotted a sign proclaiming just such a dedicated section. What I found was a selection of envelopes of various sizes, mostly larger padded mailers. An office supply store then, I thought, but found the very same scenario.

A Google search yielded sources of “vintage” letter writing paper. I quickly ordered a supply, wondering what will happen when I follow through on threats of shutting down my Internet and stepping back to simpler times where you go to a store to find things. I can’t depend on grocery sacks to write on; it’s mostly plastic bags these days. I guess I will have to use the backs of junk mail until the postal service becomes obsolete. Then it won’t matter anyway, as there will be no way to send written missives. I will have to get in the car and go visit whoever I want to communicate with. Which isn’t such a bad thing. I only hope they still remember how to use their larynx when I get there.

I didn’t want to wait another minute to write my letter, now that I knew how unsure the writing future had become, so I improvised. I wrote a progressive letter on a series of aging notecards I found in a cubbyhole of my writing desk. OMG!! TTYL

TV after 50

I remember daytime television back in those early years when I was a stay-at-home mom. Not that I got to see much of it because you don’t sit still when you have young children lying, crawling, toddling, and running about. However, at nap time, I could set up the ironing board and watch a soap or two guilt free. The guilt came later when my three-year-old started singing “Old McDonald Carey had a farm.” Apparently the little darlin’ was not always asleep when the first soap came on, proclaiming, “This is McDonald Carey, and these are the Days of Our Lives.”

The soaps were turned off so I wouldn’t jade the toddlers. I turned to silent books after that for nap time so the kids wouldn’t suffer. The ironing was a different story. You just can’t flip pages and wrangle a hot iron at the same time. Thank God for the advent of permanent press!!

Today I was a stay-at-home. . . person. That’s all. There were no little ones; I just stayed home for a repairman to fix my Internet. I’ve been working for more than 30 years, so being at home during the week is not the norm unless it’s a holiday, which has its own set of chores. I couldn’t get online to update my Facebook page or the website, and I didn’t have a new book to read, so I did a little laundry and started thinking about what I wanted to post on here today. The repairman came mid morning and while he was outside working on the lines, I turned on the television so that when the service was restored I would know, no matter where I was in the house.

I was polishing the counters when programming resumed. Monk was on and I got caught up in the episode. After the first few commercials, I realized they had a common thread. The first commercial was for a GrandPad, apparently a communication device specifically so older folks can communicate with the kids. (Way back when, in olden days, they had this thing called a telephone. Grandma communicated with it just fine.) The next one was for AARP approved insurance. These were followed by Medicare benefits, a portable nebulizer, and a machine that creates oxygen from the air.

At this point, I turned the television off and began to reflect. Who, exactly, is watching TV in the mornings these days? Kids are enrolled in some kind of school by the time they reach nine months, and women are almost pitied if they aren’t pursuing high-powered careers straight out of school, families notwithstanding. Men have never been the day-time television demographic, so who does that leave? Unless I just happened upon the Geezer channel, television programming is geared to people who are sitting at home thinking about getting a ride to the doctor.

I plan to retire soon, so this was a little scary for me. Is this what the future holds? Should I keep on working just to avoid a life of endless sitcoms broken up by Life Alert commercials? I sat gazing at the black screen for a while, then shook my head, throwing off the depressing image trying to take root. No, I am master of my fate, captain of my destiny. I willed the Universe to send me a sign that I was bound for greater things.

Filled with optimism, I turned the television back on and randomly selected a different channel. Judge Judy dismissed a case and a commercial followed. Beano. Apparently my aging system will need help digesting. If I don’t take Beano, I may need my Medicare benefits to provide a ride to a doctor. Otherwise, I could end up using Life Alert to get me some help before I require a portable oxygen machine. Really, Universe? That’s the best you could do?

Telegram, Telegraph, Teladoc?

I keep getting notices in the mail from my insurance informing me that I can save time and energy by not bothering to go to a clinic when I am sick. I can just call up Teladoc. Right! If I want someone to just guess what may be wrong, I can call my sister. I hear there are also virtual clinics. I will want a virtual doctor when I have a virtual illness. If I am sick or hurting somewhere in this flesh-and-bone body, I want a flesh-and-bone doctor to see me, take my temperature, get a blood sample maybe, pat my arm, or say, “Does this hurt?” Or all of that.

I have not used the Teladoc service, so I can’t say it is good or bad; I just know I don’t want it. I know from experience that appendicitis can feel a lot like a stomach virus. How can a doctor on my phone or a website tell the difference without ever seeing me?

And think of this. What if it’s the first step to replacing real doctors with robots, and even then you don’t actually get to go into a clinic and see your primary robot. You can get a RoboMed app for your smart phone. I don’t want to pick up my phone and say, “Hey, Robodoc, I have a pain in my right leg. What’s up with that?” Robodoc may diagnose me with bone cancer when I actually have a torn meniscus. Or vice versa.

Now, I have admitted—right on this platform, in fact—that I have technophobic tendencies. I think my phone is eavesdropping and my computer is spying. Microwaves may be frying my brain and even electricity may be short circuiting my physiological wiring. I openly proclaim that I want to go back to a phone on the wall with an answering machine. A cell phone where you can be found anywhere is just an electronic cowbell. I don’t want to be called when I am in the produce aisle, or the toilet. At most, a cell phone should be an emergency device when you are on a trip. A pre-paid flip phone would work for that. I have a road atlas; I don’t need GPS on my phone. Besides, my car is already equipped with enough “helpful” devices to get me where I need to go, call emergency services, spy on me, and play my favorite music.

While I am on this soapbox, I will go further. We are a nation–maybe a world—of people who think everything should be instant and easy. I saw a sign proclaiming a drive-through window to pick up ashes for Ash Wednesday. Really? Maybe we should just do away with churches altogether and have a Salvation App for the fundamentalists, ConfessaPhone for the Catholics, and WatchtowerWeb for Jehovah’s Witnesses. We already have Amazon for shopping, and Waitr and GrubHub for meals. Folks who can telecommute for work need never leave home at all. Ever. If they miss their friends or family, they can just Skype or FaceTime. Is it just me, or is this an unhealthy path we are on?

I am protesting. I am going to unplug my microwave, go grocery shopping, pop in at a chapel, visit a friend face to face, eat at a restaurant, then stop and make an appointment with a doctor, any doctor. My cell phone is not going with me. And tonight I am reading a bona fide hard-cover book instead of streaming four episodes of Grace and Frankie.

Take that, technology.

The Call of the Wild

You hear so many stories about the tiny house movement and about retirees (and people of all ages, for that matter) who sell everything and go traveling around the country in an RV.  It has an allure, you know?  Simplifying, adventure—the call of the wild.

Scott and I answered that call recently.  Well, we at least picked up the phone, so to speak.  We kept our house and all our stuff, but we bought a tiny camper and set off to see the world.  We went as far as Blakeley State Park near Spanish Fort, Alabama, which Google Maps places at 6.7 miles from our front door.

It was all so exciting.  Scott spit shined the camper exterior while I set about getting the interior outfitted and ready to go.  We shopped at Camper World, nodding sagely to our new peers, fellow adventurers.

The morning of our trip was clear and bright.  We hooked up the camper to the truck and set off.  Twelve minutes later, we had arrived at check-in.  We were given our site number and a map and off we went to set that baby up.  After a few tries we were in place and level.  Scott was outside hooking up the sewer connections, and I was trying to get a signal on my cell phone so I could order a pillow that said “I’m sorry for what I said while we were parking the camper.”  The fact that such a pillow exists in mass quantities tells you a lot about the realities of camping.  It’s all fun and games until somebody says, “Guide me in.”

After we were in place and hooked up, the pillow was forgotten and we had a wonderful weekend, just the two of us and our dog.  The site was woodsy and felt secluded, but we had neighbors a few trees away.  It was a young couple, living the tiny home life with their two dogs.  We made fast friends, as did our dogs, and the whole “parking the camper” fiasco was forgotten.

And then it was time to pack up, unhook, and hitch up to the truck again.  Do you know it takes over two hours, for novices anyway, to just get ready to drive out of the campsite?  There should be another pillow.  A much smaller one would suffice, though.

Twelve minutes after leaving the park, we were back in our driveway.  We sat around and did an instant replay of the weekend, memories of “Guide me in” softened by the camaraderie and fun of our experience.

A couple of months later, we went back to Blakeley to join my brother and sister-in-law for a weekend.  We were better equipped and more emotionally prepared.  We still needed the pillow.  And we still had a wonderful time once we were in place and all hooked up.

We were encouraged.  We could do this.  The wild still called, so we made plans to spend two weeks in the mountains to see the foliage and live the dream.  We purchased an annual camping pass so we could make several trips to different states for mini vacations.  We went back to Camping World.  We made reservations at a park that had basketball, a fishing pond, community events, and was surrounded by mountains.

When the day came, we loaded up, hitched up, and drove to North Carolina, with an overnight stay in Tennessee.  Rather than a play-by-play, I will summarize.  We drove backroads in pitch black dark to get to the KOA, where we put the first ding on our tiny camper by way of a rock wall.  We learned that you must remember to close and latch the refrigerator door before driving away or bad things happen to it.  We learned that a storm will blow up so quickly in the mountains it will twist your awning into a canvas-and-metal pretzel before you can say, “Should we roll . . . .”

Our campground was, indeed, full of amenities and mountain views, but it was also populated wall-to-wall with other nature seekers so close you could pass a cup of coffee camper to camper through the windows.  Scott and I had a long talk, after we passed the pillow back and forth, and decided that we are not campers.  We love being in the camper in a forested area, but we don’t like having to get there, set up there, pack back up, and then leave there.  And we don’t like spending our time in what looks like a used camper lot.

I applaud all those dedicated RVers who love the life.  It’s just not our life.  We left the tiny camper on a hill in North Carolina in the care of a son who promised to watch out for it and oversee the repair of the awning, and headed back south, just the two of us and our dog.

We agreed that we can retire the camping pass and the apology pillow for all time.  The wild still calls to us, but the wild is situated on a hill overlooking a cow pasture and never has to be hitched up or leveled again.

Time, Sweet Time

Things have taken a definite shift.  Downward?  That remains to be seen.

Some friends and I are going to a theater production and decided to meet beforehand for an early dinner.  Nothing surprising there.  However, in discussing dinner plans, someone said, “Yes, let’s meet early enough to have a leisurely dinner and a glass of wine.”  The rest of us responded in variations of my own response, “No wine for me.  I would be snoring by intermission.”

When did that happen?  Now, admittedly, in my younger years, a “drink” meant a glass of tea or a Coke, which only aided in my ability to stay awake through an event such as this.  Is it the wine or is it time, sweet time that has rendered me unable to keep my eyes open through anything that starts after 8 o’clock in the evening? And reading? I love to read in bed, preferring a good book to a movie most any time.  Nowadays, I get about three paragraphs in and wake up hours later with the book on my chest and my glasses sliding down my nose.

Since most evenings now include a glass of red wine with or after dinner – heart health, you know – I am not sure if it is the alcohol-induced relaxation that has prevented me from seeing the end of a movie, or a chapter, for the last five years or if I am headed down that road to socks with sandals and coupons for a 4 p.m. dinner at Cracker Barrel.

I am choosing to believe it’s the wine.  If you read back in previous posts, you will understand that I am embracing the Law of Attraction, so I sure don’t want to attract more age-related incapacitation.  In fact, affirmations, at which I used to scoff, are becoming part of my daily ritual.  I just affirm very softly so Scott doesn’t think I believe the woman in the mirror is a visitor.

Now that I think about it, the shift is positive.  Time, sweet time has brought about good changes.  I am enjoying more, doing less hard labor, spending more time at things I am passionate about, and pretty much loving life.  As one of my cousins says, “Life is good – and then it gets better.”  I am taking time to read good books and watch good movies.  Perhaps I will forego the wine . . . nah, I’ll just go to matinees, and maybe occasionally look for some Cracker Barrel coupons.