Saturday, June 5, 2010

English Colonists. African Missionaries

Last night, Steve Sarah and I went to see The Lost Colony, a musical drama which is performed in an outdoor theater every summer here in Manteo. It was local resident’s night so our admission price was just two cans of food. (That made our bargain-lovin’ hearts ever so happy.)


As the oldest and longest running of America’s outdoor dramas, The Lost Colony has been performed since 1937 for over 3 million people.


The queen’s dress weighs 60 pounds; her costuming costs $25,000. (Just think. Whenever she gets undressed, she loses 60 pounds. Sounds good to me!)


One of Andy Griffith's earliest acting roles was playing Sir Walter Raleigh from 1949 to 1953. (He seems to be a bit bemused—or maybe perplexed?—by all the lovely ladies surrounding him.)


The production features music, dance, drama, action, and special effects with lavish sets and costumes. (I can’t even keep my own closet clean so I can’t imagine keeping track of all those amazing costumes.) And speaking of costumes, a couple years ago, all of the costumes were destroyed in a fire and they had to be completely re-made. The new ones are incredible.


Virginia Dare, the first child born to English parents in the New World, is featured.


We do not know the fate of Virginia Dare or the First Colony. We do know, however, that the story of America is largely a record of that spirit of adventure."
-- President Franklin D. Roosevelt in an address to the audience of
The Lost Colony on August 18, 1937.

So that was last night. Today was spent working at the church about four hours, getting groceries, taking a bike ride with Steve, and doing some cleaning. Tomorrow after church we are having a missionary couple from Africa over for lunch so I’ll spend tonight cooking for that. (And getting Sarah to help me fold the bulletins.)

Bike rides, bulletins, cooking, English colonists, African missionaries—it’s turning out to be a great weekend!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Blessing of The Fleet. Pictures of Loveliness.

There are many experiences that are unique to living near the sea, one of those experiences being The Blessing of the Fleet.

The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago in Mediterranean fishing communities. The practice was predominantly Catholic and a blessing from a local priest was usually said to ensure a safe and bountiful fishing season. (Note: Now ministers from all religious faiths participate.)

A few days ago, Steve was invited to the downtown harbor area in Manteo to pray the ceremonial blessing.


I was tied up doing some other things and so I sent my capable assistant, Sarah, with Steve to cover the event.

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At the end of the ceremony, my aforementioned capable assistant discovered some handcrafted displays that had been set up nearby and so she seamlessly (and happily) transitioned from official photographer to official handcrafted item browser. It’s all in a day’s work when you live in a lovely place like Manteo!


And speaking of lovely places, last week we attended a graduation party for a young lady in our church which was held at the home of another church family. (You may recall that I posted pictures several weeks ago of a gorgeous local hair salon; the salon’s owner was also the hostess of this party.)

Since ladies usually like to see how other people decorate (well, at least I do), I thought I’d include a few pictures of this gathering’s loveliness.

(These pictures were taken by another guest at the party.)


If you look out the far window, you can see the beautiful bay beyond.








So now you’ve had your dose of seaside culture and decorative loveliness for today. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Breast Cancer. Loss. Life.

In an effort to keep this blog from becoming too focused on cancer and surgery and all their accompanying emotional and physical after effects, I’ve been making it a point to write a few non-cancer posts in recent days. I guess if I had begun this as a cancer blog, I wouldn’t have second thoughts about writing on that subject because that would be the blog’s main purpose.

However. There are a few of you wonderful Smithellaneous folks who have been checking in with me by e-mail to see if I really am as okay as my posts seem to indicate, or if my cheerier writing is merely camouflaging ongoing difficulties and continuing cancer stresses.

I guess the answer to that question is that I truly am doing well, all things considered. I don’t think that I have burst into tears for no reason for four or five days now, so that’s good progress. Steve can attest to the fact that it was getting to be quite interesting there for awhile. He and I would be talking about nothing much in particular and then, all of a sudden, I would just burst out crying.

In fact, a couple weeks ago I took Sarah in for her 6-month dental check up and when the dentist came out to tell me how things had gone, I actually found myself tearing up while he talked with me. I’m sure he went back to his notes and wrote, “Patient was delightful. Patient’s mother? Not so much. She seemed to get emotional over a discussion of flossing habits and wisdom teeth.”

But I think tears after surgery and after a loss of the sort I experienced should be considered pretty par for the course. Grief is grief, regardless of whether you’ve lost a family member, a beloved pet, a cherished friend, a job, a marriage, or a body part. (Obviously there are many degrees involved, but all of those experiences have grief in common.)

As an example: Last week I was near Goodwill so I stopped in for a few minutes. When I got to the dressing room with my little stack of shirts, it suddenly occurred to me that the last time I had been at that particular store, in that particular dressing room, I’d had The Girls with me.

This time, though? The Girls hadn’t made the trip. The Girls were gone.

That was something worth crying over.

I read another breast cancer survivor’s story and she wrote that after the surgery, it was like loved ones had disappeared, they had just been taken from her life. Suddenly, they were . . . gone. No funeral, no burial, no closure.

Go to sleep. They’re there. Wake up. They’re gone. Just gone.

So yes, it is a strange and sad season of life, in many ways. But in other ways, I’ve noticed a subtle, ongoing shift in my attitude.

During the first couple weeks after surgery, I would look at the surgical area and shudder and think, “This all just looks so sad and pitiful and ugly and violent.” I undressed and re-dressed as quickly as possible in an attempt to try and make it all go away. Out of sight, out of mind. Make it stop. Make it not be what it is. (Isn’t denial a wonderful thing?)

However, over the past week or two, my mindset has begun to change. I now look at the surgical area and what is left of my “original equipment’ (and thankfully, with a skin sparing mastectomy, I do have some of “me” remaining), and the words “ugly” and “damaged” no longer come to mind.

Instead, I feel like I am looking down and remembering brave and beautiful comrades in a war that we fought and won together. The scars I see there represent healing and a total cure and I find myself being grateful that cancer-infested loveliness has been replaced by cancer-free unloveliness that affords me every chance of living long enough to hold my grandbabies. And grow to become a very old and very thankful lady.

It’s so much about attitude. And reality. And accepting the fact that grief happens. And grief is part of the journey. And that if you don’t grieve, you’ll never get over the loss. And that there is, indeed, loss involved. Huge loss. Scary and sad loss. Tear producing, grief inducing loss.

But this loss brings life. And I like life. And life is good.

So I’m good with that.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Snowy Goes For a Stroll


I am about to post some pictures that will rather rudely ruin Snowy’s world wide reputation of canine cuteness.

Reputation Ruining Picture Number One


Reputation Ruining Picture Number Two 


Reputation Ruining Picture Number ThreeIMG_3288

Do these pictures give you any sort of feeling that a trip to the groomer is due?

Unfortunately, since groomers are frightfully (not to mention dreadfully) expensive, we try to space out Snowy’s appointments as widely as we possibly can.  I know that some people cut their dog’s hair themselves but that’s not going to happen anytime soon at our house.  I would be scared stiff to allow any sharp objects near that wriggling, wiggling doggie of ours.

Also groomers do other happy jobs during Snowy’s visits like, um, express his anal sacs.  Nuh-uh.  Not me. I very firmly draw the line at anal sac expressing. 

And so occasionally, Snowy tends to get a bit grubby looking until we can gather up enough moola to take him in to his Doggie Spa/Anal Sac Expressing Appointment.

But it’s always so worth it because when he gets home, he looks like a Teacup Maltese Movie Star. Talk about an extremely extreme makeover!


Whenever Snowy comes home looking that handsome, he always asks us to take him for a walk around the neighborhood so that he can show himself off to the other dogs that are not as incredibly magnificent as he is. (Humility is not one of his virtues.)

Since we are such a well organized and very “together” sort of family, the walk always commences with a great deal of precision and organization.


Regardless of which way the humans are headed, Snowy always feels compelled to blaze his own trail.


And then he tosses his (well coiffed) head impatiently at his sister when she insists that he walk next to her.  He thinks,  “What a killjoy.”


It’s obvious that the fires of his enthusiasm have been temporarily dampened.


But not for long!  Because all at once, Snowy spies The Enemy!  Snowy spots A Dog!  A Big Dog! A Very Big Dog!  A Very Big, Bad Dog!   Snowy is ready to wrench his little groomed and pampered self right off the leash and run and attack that Big Dog! Snowy is ready to Rip. Him. To. Shreds. 

“You want a piece of me?” hollers Snowy. 


And then the dog gets a wee bit closer and Snowy realizes just how big the Big Dog really is.


And then Snowy shrieks, “Run, Sister, run!  Forsooth, there is danger all around that verily lurketh in the driveways of thusly this very neighborhood!”  (Snowy tends to speak like Shakespeare when he is stressed.)


After Snowy has taken himself and his sister a safe distant from the danger, he settles back down to a walk and mutters to himself, “I’m cool, I’m cool.  I wasn’t really afraid of that (incredibly huge) dog anyway.”


And so the teeny protector of the free world heads back home, slightly wilted, yet with his small spirit unbowed.



“Hold on, Sister! These steps are very tall and my (extremely cute and well groomed) legs are very short!”


Ah. Home sweet home.



In the comment section, the question was asked if I used a “bounce flash” on some of my recent pictures.

The answer to that is that I have no idea what a bounce flash is, or how to use one!   :-)  

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Wee Dictionary. A Big Flag.

Last week at Goodwill, I found this dictionary for seventy-five cents.  It thought it was the most darling thing imaginable and decided  it would be worth parting with three quarters in order to buy it.  (The pen is to show you the scale of the dictionary.)

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And the dictionary fits perfectly in the wire basket in our kitchen so that it can be instantly accessible for the Frequent Looking Up Of Unknown Words that goes on in our home.  How cool is that?


Guess who else was happy to see the wee dictionary?   My little wordsmith. 

She even shared its pages with Sir Canine Doggie in an attempt to enhance his rather limited Canine Doggie Vocabulary.


While Sarah pondered the wonders of the wee dictionary, Steve stationed himself out in the front yard and embarked on a painting project which consisted of transforming a brown storage cabinet into a white storage cabinet.  (For Sarah’s room.)  We’ve had the cabinet for about ten years; it’s nice to see it being re-purposed.IMG_4698

The American flag was up in honor of Memorial Day as we remembered the military personnel who didn’t come home. At the same time, we also gave heartfelt thanks for a certain military person who DID come home—Steve’s dad, Lt. Colonel, Ken Smith. (Fighter pilot/USAF retired.)

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It was a special, quiet day of making new memories and remembering old ones.



Today, I did some more remembering as I sat down to re-read through all the cards that I received after my surgery. I chortled and smiled and even shed a tear or two as I read back over your messages from that difficult time.   When I first got some of the cards in the mail, I was sort of overwhelmed and drug-hazed so it was extra special to have the time to sit down today and read them all over again.  I was truly touched by your words.


Well, I guess that will have to be all for now.  Sarah and I are doing a big Cleaning of Her Room Project today so I suppose it’s time to get back to it!

Blessings to you and special memories on this Memorial Day.