Just as the Christmas decorations are going up inside my home, the camellias are beginning to bloom in my garden! If you are not familiar with this wonderful shade loving plant, allow me to introduce you. It’s an evergreen with wonderful glossy green leaves and it blooms in the late fall and throughout the winter. The flowers range in color from white to red with every shade of pink in between! It’s a beautiful thing for a woman who believes in pink.
The weather outside is frightful, showers and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, but the fire is so delightful! Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. Winter on the Central Coast of California is easy, just like the livin’!
My husband drove me to town today to pick up the pies. He let me off at the curb and circled back for me as there was no parking. I hobbled into a small local restaurant known for their amazing baked goods, among them: roasted pumpkin pie with mascarpone whipped cream.
I happen to be known at this restaurant (not surprising)! The owner noticed my bright pink ankle support and unusually slow, wobbly gait.
“Falling is so scary,” she said. “Glad we could do the pies for you. Now I’ll get someone to help you carry them.”
A young man appeared at my side with the pies in his hands. He waited until my husband arrived on the street in front of us and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I wanted to thank him by name, but I did not know it. He introduced himself as “Matthew.” I assured him that I would not forget that name.
I happen to know the derivation of his name. “Matthew” is from the Hebrew and it means: Gift of the Lord. It was my beloved brother’s name and he was most certainly a gift.
I felt my eyes fill with grateful tears. It’s been sixteen years since Matt died but he is always with me. I will forever be thankful for him.
This is the third day in a row that I’ve spent on the couch! Despite my recent Lazy Post, this is not like me.
Last week on November 8, I tried to forget what happened last year on the same day. But, it was time to acknowledge that I’d coped with a difficult year by agreeing to a second glass of wine and a decadent dessert a few too many times! And, I have 5 pounds to show for it. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am in good company as both Stephen Colbert and Barbara Streisand have both blamed their weight gain on the POTUS.
Anniversaries can bring about reflection, and it came to me that we’ve (most likely) got another three years of this administration to suffer through. I may be able to accept a five-pound weight gain, but I’m not about to accept a twenty pound gain. So, I decided it was time to re-commit myself to my exercise routine …and to stop buying ice cream.
Next day, I hit the gym. I hit the stair-climber; that was a mistake. I overdid it and spent Tuesday on the couch icing my overworked, arthritic left knee.
During my down-time, I took the opportunity to finally call the personal trainer my friend recommended many months ago. My goal is to improve myself, after all, not incapacitate myself!
“Don’t worry,” he assured me, “there are many things we can do without further straining your knee. I’ll meet you at the gym tomorrow.”
Next day, I woke feeling exhilarated with the Rocky theme song playing in my mind. My knee was better after my day of rest and ice and elevation. I felt lighter and healthier, as a result, of simply making the right decision. I’d see the trainer in the afternoon and resolve to do better.
I began the day with a few errands and it was in the parking lot at the grocery store that I tripped and came crashing down. Hard. I had twisted my right ankle and scraped my left knee. I was lucky my husband was there to pick me up and get me home. We applied an ice pack and I called the personal trainer to reschedule. And so I spent another day on the couch.
When I woke this morning, there were no theme songs playing in my mind. I knew I’d be spending the day on the couch…again. The dogs were happy enough, though. They spent the day draped all over me.
As they say though…one day at a time! And, one foot (ouch!) in front of the other (ouch)! I’ll let you know how it goes at the gym next week.
My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.
I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.
After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.
Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.
After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.
“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”
His distrust seems justified.
“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”
I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.
“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.
I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.