No Pain, No Gain Chapter

Super Powers
Right now I wish I had a super power. I could use several of them, but maybe I have to rule out a few first. I wouldn’t be able to fly because I hate heights. I would like to have lasers coming FROM my eyes, rather than have lasers used on them to fix a messed up retina, but unfortunately, I don’t think my eyes are strong enough for that.

Alien “Empath”
I think I want to be an “Empath.” I am sure I saw it on the original Star Wars tv series. Being an “Empath” is both a super power and yet a little alien. Yes, that works for me. My siblings always believed that I came from another planet so I suppose being an “Empath” is my best option. I better explain to the non Trekkies. An “Empath” takes the pain away from another individual by absorbing the pain–feeling it for while and then pushing it away quickly.

Two Kinds of Pain
There is both physical pain where something in the body needs to be regenerated, and then there is emotional pain in which the heart and mind need to be mended and soothed.

When someone close to us is in pain, particularly emotional pain they can’t apply the adage, no pain, no gain. They want to give up. They can’t see a future. They can’t see that maybe this pain is actually better for them in the long run. They don’t see any advantage to it. In their minds, they are not gaining a thing from it.

Take It Away
Believe me, I am not a masochist. I do not like pain. Actually, I will try to avoid it at all costs. But if I could use my super alien powers today, I would take all the pain away from the people I love, bear it and push it away.

Now, I am not totally altruistic. I want to take the pain away, but I also want to be able to give it back full force to whoever hurt my loved ones. And then, forget that I am an “Empath.”

Maintenance 101 Chapter

I’m calling this Maintenance 101, but my level of maintenance is really about 10!

We are never too old to learn–at least somethings. So, I decided to see if I could learn how to do simple maintenance around the house. I mean, other than calling someone else to come and maintain it.

Start Simple

I needed to replace the tiny bulbs that are behind the faceplates along the steps. These are imbedded night lights so you don’t fall down the steps at night. First, you need to remove the two screws. It requires a Phillips head, so I managed to find one. I needed to get comfortable on the steps since I was “working.” I put the screwdriver on the screw head and turned–nothing happened. I guess I needed to change my position to get a better angle. That didn’t help either. I never knew removing a screw was going to be such a challenge. After a few whines and curses, I managed to twist my arm at a weird angle and remove the screw. I was sweating by this time and I still had three more to take out, remove and replace the bulb and put in the four screws again.

I am no longer sitting on the steps cursing, so you know I did remove all the screws. Do you know that it is almost as hard putting them in as it is to take them out? But I was successful. There is now light on the steps!

A Little More Complicated

Every time I opened the pantry door, it squeaked and creaked. Closing it was even louder. I guess I could have lived with it, but it makes it impossible to sneak a snack when the door shouts to the whole world that I am trying to find something to munch on. Besides, it drove me crazy when I was cooking.

How do you fix a creaky door? I had a few ideas that would not be productive, but might make me feel better, but I decided I didn’t have the strength of the Hulk at that moment.

A better option was to try WD-40. I have heard of its magical powers, but I have yet to use it. My first dilemma was trying to figure out what WD-40 meant. Google helped me with that. It means Water Displacement–Formula 40. I now know what the WD stands for and I know it works, but what is water displacement?

I grabbed the trusty blue can and I aimed the nozzle at the hinges in the front–just a little gunk dribbled down. I threw open the door and MAGIC–there was no sound! Number One insisted that I spray both sides of the hinges. I wasn’t sure why, but I did it. Just to let you know–it didn’t make it any quieter than it was.

As I jaunted down the hallway–so proud of myself,–I opened the garage door and CREEEEEEAAAAAK! I thought to myself that I had magic in my hand and I could solve two household maintenance issues in one day. I sprayed BOTH SIDES of the hinges, moved the door and only SILENCE ensued.


We had company coming and we had just purchased a patio set and of course, the chairs needed to be assembled. So, rubbing my very arthritic hands, I grabbed a new tool. The Allen wrench. This torture tool is also called a hex key–I think the reason they call it that is because it hexes your hands and makes them hurt even more. How do you really hold the Allen wrench. It is L shaped. Do you hold it by the short end or the long end? Both ends have the shape that will fit. Now, when you put the chair together, there are 4 bolts that need to line up. So, just because you have two that line up, it doesn’t mean the other two will line up. Again, the hardest part is getting into the comfortable position so you can work. Do you kneel? Ouch–that is a no. Sit? Maybe–but only on a rug. Stand–man that hurts the back! So, I did manage between sitting and standing, cussing and crying to put FOUR screws into SIX chairs with ONE lousy Allen Wrench. They look good.

Just remember to sit carefully when you come and visit because now you know who assembled them.

And there was light!

And there was light!

Sturdy as .....????

Sturdy as …..????

“Wongkee” Eye Chapter

This chapter will not make any sense unless you read Eyeballing It first.

Morning Came Too Soon

I went to sleep on the couch and suddenly my alarm was singing merrily that it is time to wake up and go back to the doctor. Like I said, doctors are the people we visit the most.

Couldn’t Do it

The bandage was still covering my eye and I could not take it off–I was a little too nervous. Number One gently pulled off the tape–my eyebrows are thinner now–and the light was very bright. I glanced around. I could see!!! Thank goodness. I felt like I was looking through water or a gel-like water. I could see the backyard furniture through the window without my glasses!


The surgery did not give me a headache, the vision of the two eyes now is so very different that my brain cannot make the two eyes work together. So my brain hurts from trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Making two very different eyes work together just isn’t possible without a little pain.

Double Vision

My daughter drove me to the doctor because I was seeing doubles of everything from cars to street signs to white lines on the road. Once inside the office, the staff removed the lens from my glasses that I no longer need. I hoped that having my right eye corrected would help my vision. No! My brain still loved the doubles! Later that morning, I donned my “one” contact. It felt very strange only putting on one contact. The double vision wasn’t any better when I wore the contact.

As the day wore on, the double vision dissipated to an extent. I have to wear reading glasses to see anything up close. Reading the texts on my phone is impossible without reading glasses.

It is now day 2 after surgery and my eye still aches. When I let my eyes gaze far into the distance, they work very well together. It is just when I try to focus on things that are nearer to me, they double in quantity.

I have a check up in a week.

Now, if only I was finished with surgery on this eye. More to come. Stay tuned.

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Eyeballing It Chapter

Remember, this blog is all about the little things and big things that happen in life. As we age, the people we spend the most time with, is not our families–it is with the doctors!

Many Many Parts

I didn’t know I had so many parts that could simply breakdown after years of use. I guess we can compare ourselves to used cars–things can go wrong and break in a blink of the eye.

Well, that happened to me, literally. I was happily reading my books, when out of the blue, there was a fuzzy hole in my vision. I hadn’t seen that before so I knew something was up or breaking down. I was right. The doctor told me that I have a “macula hole” in my left eye. Long story short, to get it fixed, you first must remove the cataract from the eye so the cataract surgery doesn’t mess with the macula surgery.

Cataract surgery is common–except to me

I know that cataract surgery is done daily for thousands of people. But rarely do you hear about the experience. I had no idea, that I was going to be awake. I think I was asleep when they stuck the needle in my eye to numb it. (I was very thankful for that!!) They hold your eye open with the clamp that you probably have seen in torture movies. This contraption prevents people from closing their eye. Yes, you see the odd shapes of things heading toward your eye, and you hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner taking out the old lens. The doctor assured me that it wasn’t a Hoover vacuum, it was much more expensive–so I assumed it was a Dyson.

No Pain

I have admit, that during the surgery there wasn’t any pain. It doesn’t take very long for the numbing agent to wear off and then it aches like a minor toothache. The nurses are good people and they make you feel better by giving you cookies and juice–they are the good cookies, but the juice is too healthy. You have a huge bandage on your eye and you walk out hoping that when you take the gauze off, you will see out of that eye.


I am blessed with wonderful friends. For some odd reason the doctor will not let you drive home after all the meds they pump into your body. My dear friend and her husband picked me up–he drove my car home. As soon as I wobbled out to their car, they rewarded me for not crying and throwing a temper tantrum. Yes, she gave me a can of Diet Coke AND THREE miniature Hershey bars. I love her. She knows what will make me feel better. She took me to her house and she even fed me dinner. (I told you, I have the bestest friends.)

Tried to party

I love lively conversation and laugher, but my mind was too doped to say much and I think I was really awful and nodded off at dinner. They sent me home with Number One and I fell asleep,

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Little Confession Chapter

My Confession
Before I begin, I must confess that I did not do what I promised to do in December. I did NOT set up a routine or schedule.


It is not that I purposely ignored my intentions, but somehow everything and everyone else’s schedule was one that I was following and I did not follow through with my plans. This does not mean that I did not have fun during the holidays or on our trip to Hawaii and Germany, or with my daughter and granddaughter when they visited, it just means that I did not set up a schedule because so much was happening. It means that I made all those other things a priority for me.

I did not need a schedule or routine because I was so busy just managing the days. But I am hoping now that I will have a couple of months of “downtime” to do things that I want to do–like writing.


Writing is hard work, but I want to write. Do I procrastinate because I am overwhelmed with the prospect of writing. I don’t know, and if I try to psychoanalyze myself, I won’t get any writing done.


So, a bit of a schedule will be to promise to write for one hour a day for a minimum of 5 days a week.

Better Call Your Bookie

Who is taking bets whether I will be able to meet my goal?

Family Chapter

Family get togethers usually happen around the holidays, but not always, and those unplanned, no expectation gatherings, make the time spent together all the more heartwarming.


Both Number One and I are blessed with fun loving siblings. When both sides of the family come together there is not a dull moment for any of us.

Retired, but didn’t downsize

Most people, when they retire and move away from the home where they raised their children, find a smaller home with fewer bedrooms and smaller kitchens. No, not us. Number One thought that was what we should do, but I wanted to have my kids and siblings visit us without having to tell them to find a hotel.
We still have a five bedroom home with a supersized kitchen where everyone seems to gather. If you think about it, it makes absolute sense. The kitchen is filled with food and when people get together, they want to eat and celebrate.

Maxed at 17, plus 2 dogs and 1 cat!

Over the course of three weeks, we had 15 people stay with us, not including the four we had over for tea. Surprisingly, it worked like a well-oiled machine. Everyone pitched in, made things happen and were happy with simple cuisine and a few leftovers. Oh, thank goodness for Costco snacks and desserts.

Laughter filled the house

Yes, there were a lot of people, but what filled the house to the rafters was the sound of laughter echoing through it. Upstairs and down, we reminisced and chuckled over our childhood pranks. Inside and outside, we giggled, chortled and snickered and just purely enjoyed each other’s company.

Let’s do it again

I admit that I was tired, but it was the kind of tired you want to have again and again, because it was so much fun. My advice, don’t make plans, just make it happen. Call or email and let your family know you will be in the area and you want to see them. I was really glad mine did and I hope we do it again, soon.

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Boiling Red Earth Chapter

New Year–More New Experiences!

Not My First

This was not my first time around the block–I mean the first time I rode a helicopter. I rode one once before with Santa Claus, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny–but that is a totally different story! (True Story)

This time we took the Cadillac of Island Helicopter Rides–Blue Hawaiian. The best is never the cheapest, but it was worth every penny we spent. We took a two hour tour. (Can you hear the Gilligan’s Island song playing in the background?)

If you get motion sickness, like I do, I highly recommend that you take a Dramamine before the flight. I did and I had no problems as we twisted and turned and dove and climbed.

Netherworld Landscapes

The sharp and jagged black lava flows lay before you for miles and miles as you climb to the top of Mauna Loa. It is so easy to see why the ancient Hawaiian’s believed in the Fire God. The constant reminder of the black underworld was always at their feet.

Deeper and Deeper Into the Depths of Fire

The view from up high is spectacular. The helicopter circles and dives, circles and dives, and then circles and dives again to get us just a little closer so we can see the what would be easy to call, the Gates of Hell. Molten rock is bubbling and boiling beneath us sending plumes of sulfur smelling smoke. (Don’t breath too deeply because it does smell like rotten eggs–another good reason not to go to Hell!

High Above the Volcano

High Above the Volcano

Boiling Earth!

Boiling Earth!

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Stargazing Chapter

New Year and New Experiences

When I look at the stars in my backyard, I can see a few stars–one we believe may be Venus or perhaps the North star, and occasionally I see one of the dippers.

I have to admit, however, I never saw the stars until I was atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Start at the top:

Sunset on Mauna Kea Photo by  Semra Gurol

Sunset on Mauna Kea
Photo by Semra Gurol

Sunset at the top of Mauna Kea is a sight to behold. The clouds are far below you and the sun has no warmth. It is hard to believe, but atop this Hawaiian Island, I was wearing two sweaters, a down jacket and a parka and I was freezing! Also–a little light headed. Of course, we were at 14,000 feet above sea level. The guide said there was 40% less oxygen up there than at sea level, so maybe it is understandable. (A New York Times travel writer had the audacity to say that only relatively active 30 year olds could handle the trip and that it wasn’t for older people. Well, relatively active 60-70 year olds can handle it just fine–don’t let him deter you from this visit.)

Utter Amazement

Wow! Oh My God! These were whispered and exclaimed over and over again by the 14 or so guests on the Star Gazing tour to Mauna Kea. One would think that people in their 60’s plus would not be amazed by the stars, but we all were utterly in awe.


The guide pointed out the constellations and they really look like the drawings we see of them in books and magazines. I saw the Twins constellation, but it was upside down. When they reach the western horizon at the end of May and beginning of June, they will be standing on their feet. I saw another galaxy–Alpha Centauri– without a telescope!! We saw stars being born!!! The night sky was brilliantly alight with stars.

No one wanted to leave, but it was cold. And, I must admit our necks were aching from constantly looking up. Yet, it was impossible to look away as it was so breathtaking.

We need to remember that the ordinary can amaze us in ways we never thought possible.

More new experiences to come. Stay tuned.
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New Life Chapter

This is the time of the year that we are reminded of miracles and the miracle of life.

This year, that reminder was up-close and personal. In the week before Christmas we were given the most precious gift of all. We were given a grandchild!

This not our first grandchild–and hopefully–not our last, yet each new birth reminds us of the miracle of life. We are all quite educated, yet it is difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that in minutes a child goes from being a bump in a mother’s body, to a tiny human being that looks deep into your eyes. There is no other explanation other than it is a miracle.

This Christmas we will have a small child laying in her bassinette in our home. Thank goodness she will not have to lay in a manger, but believe me, she will be as loved by us as the most famous was loved by his mother.

No matter how new or old your gifts of life are this holiday season, please take some time to look into their eyes and let them know how much they are loved. (I think the older ones may need it the most.)

Love and enjoy each and every child in your life and know that each one is a perfect gem!

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Sound the Alarm Chapter

In this day and age, an alarm system for your home is both unfortunately necessary and a luxury.

We received a message from the Homeowners Association that there had been a few thefts in the neighborhood and they were advising us to make sure we parked our cars on the driveway, to make sure that all gates were locked, and the garage doors were well secured. This was a little disconcerting for us.

When you reach a certain age, you want to believe that you can still defend yourself under any circumstance. But then, reality steps in and you realize that you may need a little extra help. We decided our extra help would come in the form of an alarm system.

Holy Moly! This system has so many bells and whistles. I didn’t know an alarm system could do all this. We can turn on the alarm from anywhere in the world. We could even lock a door from Canada. We can watch the house from anywhere via the indoor and outdoor cameras. (I must admit, when the front door bell rings and we are not expecting anyone, it is great to check the camera to see who is waiting outside.–Most of the time the only thing at the door are my daughter’s packages delivered from UPS.)

Now learning to use it is another issue. Yes, it is simple to use, but in the middle of the night, your brain doesn’t necessarily kick in and engage when you would like it to.

The dogs were our previous alarm system. Max barks at everything and anything or even nothing. Pepper welcomes people into the house and barks fiercely at dogs. It must have been two in the morning and Pepper started barking. This is her alarm that she needs to get out. Nasr grumbles and stumbles down the stairs , uses the special easy key to turn off the alarm and lets the dog out.

I am half asleep and I mumble the alarm and tell him to punch a 2. WRONG!!!

The voice of the machine speaks in a very firm loud voice. Exit now! Oops. We set it to leave, not to stay.

Remember, it is the middle of the night and our brains are not functioning. Nasr is pushing keys and is very confused.

Virginia to the rescue! Ok, that is what I do too often and this time I should have stayed in bed. I rushed downstairs and unwittingly set off the motion detectors. LOUD horns blared into the still night like a dragon blaring fire. Luckily, my brave knight punched the right keys and slayed the dragon–as in he turned off the alarm.

No. We did not reset it that night again. I am sure our neighbors are using our names in vain and wonder about the abilities of the dragon slaying fools of the castle next door.

However, our confidence has strengthened and we now set the alarm and let the dog bark in the middle of the night. She is in the garage and we can guarantee that she is less of a nuisance to our neighbors than our dragon alarm.

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