Staying in Focus: Lessons from the Oldest and the Newest

The Oldest:

My 92 year old mom came up for the Labor Day Weekend, and we were having a great time until she took a fall in the bathroom . As she is on blood thinning meds we lost no time in taking her to the hospital. Fortunately, she did not break any bones, just deeply bruised a rib. She had been planning to go home the next day, but ended up staying a week. She was in a lot of pain, and the only place she could get any rest at all was on our couch.

But trooper that she is, she took this in stride, just as she had when fighting breast cancer, enduring two mastectomies and taking as much chemo as she could stand. She experiences a lot of fatigue, has an atrial fibrillation condition with her heart, and all the aches and pains that accompany old age – but she doesn’t let it stop her. I’m not saying she doesn’t have bad days or get depressed, but when she finds herself tending in that direction, she heads another way

A few days after she returned home, she called me up and said she was” turning over a new leaf” . My mom is an extraordinary housekeeper. She can still run rings around me when it comes to a clean, neat and tidy home. In her mind, she believes she should be able to keep the pace she had 40 years ago. She told me she decided from now on, she would do things in her home on her good days, and just take it easy on the off days, and not get upset if everything wasn’t perfect all the time.

Alleluia! She then proudly announced she had retrieved her fall decorations from the closet and was in the process of decorating her house for the fall season. My mother’s ability to find delight in decorating her house, and satisfaction in being able to keep up with most of her chores at 92 are what keep her connected to life. She still gets her hair done every Friday, has lunch out with friends often, and is currently cross stitching ornaments for Christmas. I hope I have inherited some of this strength.

The Newest:

On September 25th, my niece, Jeanette, gave birth to a  very premature baby. Arriving 15 weeks early, and weighing in at only 1 lb. 6 oz, little Ben Gerard came into this world with a host of obstacles to overcome. But it seems little Ben has inherited his great grandmother’s strength of character, as he fights to stay with us. He is 10 days old, has become strong enough to be weaned off the breathing machine and is breathing on his own with only an oxygen mask. His vital signs are good, the doctors have increased his feeding times and Jeanette and her husband, Jared, had a chance to hold him for the first time today.

This very tiny person has many hills to climb in the weeks ahead, but he has demonstrated to everyone that he’s got the strength and determination to try, just as his great grandmother has the strength and fortitude to deal with what ever comes her way. There is a connection between these two  people in my family, the very oldest and the very newest, one intent on enjoying what life can offer no matter her age, and the newest, fighting to stay in a world he has just entered, wanting to find out just what this life is all about. I hope I have a measure of the fortitude of little Ben when facing my obstacles.

We read books and watch videos about heroes and heroic acts on the grand scale, but must remember to pay attention to the heroic efforts of everyday people and the lessons to be learned from the oldest and the newest,


Staying in Focus: Better if by Sea

One of the best things about taking a cruise is arriving at a new country or city by water, which is so more interesting and scenic than arriving at an airport. I’ve been in several international airports and they all look the same. But each city looks entirely different when seen from the ocean’s eye view.

Sometimes the ship arrives in port overnight and when I open my drapes and look out, I see an entirely different view than the day before. Sure beats opening my blinds at home and seeing my backyard every day. It took four hours for us to traverse the islands of the Stockholm archipelago before reaching port. What a beautiful way to view Sweden for the first time! All of these photos were shot from my balcony aboard the Eurodam.


Stockholm Sweden

Here are a few harbor views:


Kristiansand, Norway










Island in the Stockholm Archipelago


Oslo, Norway


Oslo, Norway


Helsinki, Finland


Stockholm Harbor at sunset


Gothenburg, Sweden


Kristiansand, Norway

Staying in Focus: Waterfalls and Water Flows

IMG_4099 IMG_4004One of the places we often go to while on vacation in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania is Bushkill Falls. If you want to experience the beauty and power of rapidly flowing water, scenic sun dappled streams and  get a great walking workout this is the place for you. There are three different trails which vary in the intensity of the number of steps and rough, rocky terrain, but my husband and I did the shortest, most scenic trail, not too bad for two 60 pluses, one of which has Parkinson’s disease. Here are some photos of our journey:IMG_3964 IMG_3979 IMG_3970 IMG_3981IMG_4055IMG_4042IMG_4067IMG_4025IMG_4073IMG_4072IMG_3971 IMG_3972

Staying in Focus: Escape from Mount Sanctuary

ANNOUNCING the release of my novel for children:



Book Cover small


Although written with children in mind, the story is one you will never forget, a story of friendship, acceptance and tolerance for those different from us, of family and courage and sacrifice. It is a cautionary tale written to remind us how beautiful, yet fragile, is our world,  and how important is our stewardship of  it. It is  a story of  a boy coming of age, for readers of all ages.


Escape from Mount Sanctuary now available from the Kindle store at It’s a bargain at only $.99. No Kindle, no problem. Simply download the FREE Kindle app  and you can view the book on your computer.  Here’s a link to the site:


On the lower right hand corner of the page you will see a link to the free Kindle app. The book will be available in print on demand in the coming weeks if you prefer traditional books.

Book Description

 April 25, 2014
What if you had the chance to discover the world all over again? In Escape from Mount Sanctuary, a young boy named Ke does exactly that. Ke has lived his life in special caverns built to shelter survivors and their descendants beneath the Earth’s surface following a cataclysmic event ages ago. Ke learns that there is an “outside” to his world, a world long thought abandoned. Ke is intrigued, especially when he meets a girl (Mira) from an outside settlement and a wolf named Tip, who possesses special abilities. With this pair of adventurers, Ke and his elder friend, Tuck, embark on a journey into a world far more wondrous, and dangerous, than they imagined. During their journey, Ke, a naïve young boy with dreams of becoming a storyteller, learns much about friendships and family, self-reliance and sacrifice. By journey’s end, they all come to realize that courage is not measured by one’s size or one’s age, but by the conviction in one’s heart. Their story celebrates the joy of discovery, the wonder of our world and the rewards of perseverance. It encourages its readers to follow their dreams wherever they may lead. It is about discovering the world all over again.

Daily Prompt: The Elevator

Daily Prompt: The Elevator

Later, I would ask myself if I would have stepped into that elevator knowing that my well ordered, complacent life was about to change forever. Probably not, as years of tedious office work had dulled any penchant for adventure I may have had. I knew right away, as the elevator doors slid shut that something was about to happen. The air in the elevator was charged with expectation. I looked over at the stranger sharing the ride with me. He was tall and lithe, but well- built, solid, a man of action – a man who was reaching his hand out to push the pause button on the control panel!

“What are you…?”

“Sorry to get you involved in this, sweetheart,” he said, “”but we have to get out of here now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“No time to explain,” he said. “You’re either going with me, or in a few minutes, you’ll be dead.”  He pulled something out of his bag, attaching it high on the wall of the elevator. He pulled on the coiled rope it held. As I watched, my mouth hanging open in shock, he climbed the rope, pushed out the ceiling panel and disappeared.

He stuck his head back in through the opening, tossing the rope at me.

“You coming, doll, or are you going to take your chances with the bad guys?”

“How do I know you’re not the bad guy?”

“Because I am wasting precious time trying to save your life.  Last call, honey, you coming or not?”

Instinctively, I grabbed the hanging rope, my mind screaming,  “what the hell are you doing?” as he lifted me through the open panel.  As he grabbed my hand, I heard an explosion.

“Damn, this is going to be closer than I expected,” he said.  “I hope you can jump.”  He turned and jumped off the roof of the cab onto a narrow maintenance ladder attached to the side of the elevator shaft.

“Come on, babe,” he said, “you can do it. I’ll catch you.” He wrapped his legs around the rungs of the ladder and held out his arms.

Another explosion, this one shaking the entire building, was all it took for me to launch myself off the elevator cab and into his arms…

Focus on: Doby’s Adventures in Alaska

To wind up my musings on our recent cruise to Alaska, I will  record for posterity Doby’s Adventures in Alaska. My photography instructor suggested we take an object of some sort to provide continuity and  a splash of humor in our travel pictures.  I chose Doby because, first of all, he is a walrus and would fit in with the local wildlife  and he is also the avatar of a character my friend and I created for a parody of Moby Dick in high school,so it seemed like a good ft.

Doby was thrilled at being chosen, and was packed and ready to go long before we were.  All he packed was a hat and a blanket:

       Doby’s Alaska Hat 

Hurry up or we’ll miss the plane!

We finally got our act together and made it to the airport in plenty of time.  Doby chose a seat by the air sickness bag just in case.  Walruses do not usually travel by air. When the ride got a bit bumpy, Doby found a safe seat in my neck pillow.

Doby enjoyed the flight and the tiny pretzels and peanuts they handed out for a snack.  We saw some interesting cloud formations  as we .flew across the country to Seattle.

   The cloud formations look like cloud cities

We stayed at a really nice hotel in Seattle.  Doby liked the marble bathroom.  Can you spot him in this picture?     He’s pretty small.   

We were all very excited to get aboard the cruise ship. While we were waiting for our luggage to be delivered we explored the ship.   Doby caught some rays relaxing on a deck chair.

But possibly,the greatest surprise was waiting for Doby in the city of Sitka.  .  I was passing a store when I spied a walrus there, looking  a lot like Doby.  We went  to talk to  the walrus  in the window. It turned out he worked for the store, adding  the face of a walrus to authenticate their merchandise.I offered to leave him there for awhile , but he said he could keep in touch via Skype and e-mail . He’s a pretty savvy walrus..

Doby finds a cousin in a store in Sitka. Who knew his roots were in Alaska? Doby has lived with me for so long (since 1971) that we both forget exactly how we came to be together.

Doby made friends with the strange towel creatures that mysteriously appeared on our bed each evening along with  2 pieces of chocolate wrapped in gold foil
                        Doby also made friends with our cruise mates, Geoff and Denise

Finally, Doby gazes out the window of the Crow’s Nest, as we  depart Alaskan waters.  I have a feeling he’ll be back.  I have a feeling we’ll be back, too.