Weekly Challenge: Good Morning

Hi F&F,

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child“.  I’m here to say it takes a village to help someone die.  That is surely the case if  you want the experience to be the best it can possibly be for the one leaving this earthly plain and for those who must go on in the face of the loss. During the last seven months of my mom’s life a village of friends, family, and hospice professionals became the unit we lovingly and laughingly dubbed – Team Ruth.

I was the captain of  Team Ruth.  There were many responsibilities, physical, intellectual and emotional.  Some of my responsibilities were easily met and others were more like “fake it until you make it”.  Bold faith and a “I Whistle a Happy Tune” personal theme song can take you far in any situation. (click here if you aren’t familiar with that song from the King and I)

The physical care of my mom was the most worrisome of the responsibilities I took on. Would I and could I learn and execute the nursing skills required to care for Mom at home?  Mornings were the most challenging times.  Initially, the morning ablution could run into early afternoon because I was so cautious, clumsy and unprepared. The task was draining for both me and Mom.  With time, I became more skilled. A pretty basket with all the supplies; a fresh stack of colorful towels and linens; all her favorite fragranced soaps and lotions at the ready; turned mornings into moments of connection.

We grew to like what became a sort of morning/mourning meditation for me and offered my mom an opportunity to take some pleasure from a body that had become her betrayer; the cause of her downfall.  Sometimes this routine, this ritual, would be conducted in silence. Other times the task was accompanied by the murmuring of the morning news in the background. The events in the world, seemingly, distant and unimportant given our circumstances and inward focused existence.  Occasionally, the happenings in the world would break through and prompt discussion, but mostly we’d spend the time  reviving  stories from our shared history; moments of mirth and mourning in the retelling.

For the Weekly Challenge: Good Morning, I’m sharing a  collage of photos from a, particularly, silly morning with my  mom.  The morning was filled with bursts of soap bubbles and bursts of laughter.  It was Halloween 2012.  It was Mom’s last Halloween and she made it a rip-roaring celebration – a very good morning.

I am also, sharing a brief excerpt from the eulogy I wrote and delivered at her life celebration.

The mom that Roared

…not a day goes by that life doesn’t present me with an opportunity to celebrate the fact that she was; that she mattered; and that she gave me a gift that keeps giving. A gift that I proudly “re-gift” whenever possible. Her gift was her ability to face the moments that we label as good or bad with a joyful spirit and sharp sense of humor. She demonstrated that the good could be made great (and was always worth celebrating) and the bad was surmountable and survivable.

Even to the end – when we had some super scary moments – they were just that-moments.

We could be sober and serious in the middle of some scary shit and yet in an instant we could find something to smile about and laugh about. That’s pretty amazing.

Folks, who know me, know I loathe the overuse of the word awesome, but I will tell you in this she was AWESOME.



Posted in Daily Living, Life, Photography, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Sometimes Raising the White Flag Doesn’t Mean Surrender: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Hi F&F,

It’s October and many of us across the nation are seeing green leaves turn crimson, gold, and brown. They are the easiest and most recognizable signs of autumn’s approach. We know how to respond to this signal of the changing seasons.

It’s October and many of us across the nation are seeing black and blue bruises on friends, family and neighbors. They are the easiest and most recognizable signs of domestic violence, yet many of us don’t know how to respond to this most obvious signal of physical abuse; and we certainly are unskilled at recognizing when someone in our sphere may be experiencing emotional abuse, intimidation, stalking or economic deprivation.

This month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. National and grassroots organizations are initiating or redoubling their efforts to address the growing community health issue of intimate partner violence. The New York City Family Justice Center in Brooklyn has set up an anti-violence display in their lobby. They are presenting the “Clothesline Project” and “Flags for Hope”.

The Clothesline Project was initiated in Massachusetts in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. It has become an emotional outlet for those affected by intimate partner violence. Art is being used by the victims to express themselves and hopefully heal the damage done to the spirit.

On the clothesline are the decorated shirts created by survivors at the Safe Homes Project. Safe Homes has assisted thousands of survivors since 1974, and continues to do so with counseling, shelter, support groups, advocacy and referrals.

Safe Homes Project

718 499-1251 Hotline


The shirts become a powerful testimony to the personal and community devastation and impact of domestic violence.


“Flags of Hope”,  another initiative of the Safe Homes Project, and in partnership with Good Shepherd Services, uses arts and crafts to memorialize those who died as a result of domestic violence. While white flags often symbolize surrender. These decorated white flags display messages of peace, safety, justice and hope. They are affirmations for all to see.

Monday, while viewing the lobby display, a mother and her young daughter joined me.  The little girl couldn’t have been more than 6 years old. The kid could not understand why there were tee shirts hanging from a clothesline in the busy lobby of an office building.  She kept asking questions and I could see this was an uncomfortable moment for the mother.  At first the mom kind of ignored the questions (an all too common and cowardly tactic by adults), but this kid was relentless. Finally, I witnessed and overheard this mom struggle and string together, a truthful and age appropriate explanation.

She turned the awkward moment into a teachable moment. I wanted to hug this mom, but she was a stranger. A smile and a nod had to suffice, but I tell you,  I did say a quick prayer and Amen. I felt like I needed to lend some support and express gratitude for this parent finding the courage and the words necessary to have that tough conversation; on the fly.

That mom sowed a seed on a sunny October afternoon.  And while, I know fall is here and winter is coming; after what I witnessed, I can’t help but anticipate spring.

Peace, protection, and healthy relationships,


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

My entry for the Weekly Challenge: Saturated consists of a few shots captured with my cell phone. I’m sharing a little green from my little corner of the concrete jungle.

Bonus: I grew up on healthy doses of Sesame Street and Lena Horne was an icon in my childhood home.  I hadn’t seen this clip or heard this rendition of  It Isn’t Easy Bein’ Green in years.  I’m glad I thought to seek it out to add to this post.

Lena (we only ever used her first name at home) sings this with such feeling and authenticity. Even if you don’t know her story, you can just tell she knows the challenges of being “green” in a world that doesn’t value the full spectrum.



Posted in brooklyn, Photography, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

Hi F&F,

For the photo challenge: from lines to patterns I’m sharing a few shots of the fences I’ve seen during my travels.

Good fences make good neighbors. – Proverbs

The fence that makes good neighbors needs a gate to make good friends.



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Portrait of my Purse: A Diffrent Kind of Selfie

Hi F&F,

Earlier today I posted my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside. In the post, I told that I initially planned to post a photo of the inside of my purse. This was because I was short on ideas and the deadline was approaching. Fortunately, another photo-op presented itself and I scraped posting the photo.  As a humorous afterthought,  I declared I would share the original purse picture if  anyone was interested. Well, Karen at small house/BIG GARDEN was interested – so here it is.  I think of it as a twist on the  “selfie”.  It is reveling.

All my purses look fairly ordinary from the outside.  On the inside, well, that’s a different story.  In this photo you can see a wild print lining.  I always go for a loud lining. It is often what closes the deal on whether I purchase the purse or pass it by.  This spotted print just makes me happy each and every time I dig into my handbag.  Granted, it’s a small thing, but I think these small joys make for a good day and I think a nice life is made up of lots and lots of small joys strung together.

Also, take note of the sparkly plastic turquoise cosmetic case (from my favorite everything 99 cents store) next to the equally sparkly purple Whiting & Davis wallet (from my favorite everything way, way, way over 99 cents store). They are useful, super cute, and I love them equally. These two items, living side by side in my purse may reveal a little something about me, as well. I have a taste for the posh and the paltry. It applies to small accessories and it applies to people places and things.

I bet you never guessed that a purse portrait could say so much.


“A woman’s mind is as complex as the contents of her handbag; even when you get to the bottom of it, there is ALWAYS something at the bottom to surprise you!” – Billy Connelly



Posted in Curiosities & Oddities, Daily Living, humor, Life, Photography, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Hi F&F,

For this weeks challenge I must say thank you to the United States Postal Service.  You should say thank you too; because without them you would be looking at a photo of the inside my purse.

My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside  is a collage. It depicts the opening of a package I received in the mail. What was inside wasn’t a mystery to me. I contemplated the purchase. I ordered it. I paid for it; but I still felt giddy and excited when I saw the notice telling me there was a package being held for me at the local post office.

My local post office is right around the corner from my apartment. So when I picked up the notice, 5 minutes before their closing time,  I dashed directly there humming this tune-click HERE to hear my personal soundtrack.

I was so thrilled to receive this package; this gift to myself; that I could not wait to get home to rip it open…so I didn’t. I tore into the package while siting on the benches in front of my apartment building.

Feels like Christmas in September



P.S. If you are curious about what the inside of my purse looks like, let me know in the comments.  I’m happy to post a photo. 🙂

Posted in Daily Living, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual Point of View

Hi F&F,

Here is my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual Point of View.



Posted in Photography, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

We Interrupt This Blog for a Brief Message From…

Hi F&F,

This video, from the Cleveland Clinic, should be required viewing for every healthcare professional, every patient, every human being.



Posted in Daily Living, Life | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

Hi F&F,

Here are a few shots for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

We are as near to heaven by sea as by land.  Sir Gilbert Humphreys

The Na Pali Coast


HI Pic 2



P.S. also take a look at some photos from the 2013 sand sculpting competition at Coney Island.

Posted in Photography, Travel, weekly photo challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

Hi F&F,

My week has been so focused on work; I wasn’t able to focus much time on this challenge. Fortunately or unfortunately (your call), I’m currently hording over 1,000 pictures on my cell phone.  It’s nice to have a forum to give these shots their shot at a few moments of big (computer) screen time.

Summertime is usually when the big blockbuster special effects laden films hit the theaters.  Summer is waning, but in the spirit of big budget summertime movies, my challenge entry is in the form of a slideshow. Its my no budget cinematic special effect. All of the pictures were created by applying a little high-tech wizardry. I used a smartphone app called AfterFocus. The app lets you simulate a wide aperture effect with your cell phone camera.

Upon close inspection my edited images can’t compete with those created with a full function film or digital camera; yet AfterFocus isolates subjects from the background well enough to demonstrate how depth of field can impact the look and feel of  your pictures.

There is a saying “the best camera is the one you have with you”. For many of us, our best camera is usually our cell phone camera.  I think AfterFocus is a nice app to have with you to make your best camera a little better.

Here is my entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



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