What’s Going On?

Not much and yet maybe too much.

A couple of months ago I signed up for SmokeLong Fitness Community Workshop. It’s all flash, all the time. I’ve since learned that I can write to prompts quite happily if I’m given an example of a response. My creative battery is apparently sparked by other people’s creativity. We’re given relatively small word counts (for example, less than 500 words), challenging us to make every word count. The word counts also make it manageable to read and comment on my group’s drafts.

I participated in September and October and am taking November and December off to work on my so-called novel. I do miss the community. Although we were put into different writing groups at the beginning of each month, each group quickly created a safe, supportive environment.  

The other big thing I’ve done was write letters for Vote Forward. The organization provides the letter template and voter names and addresses. In turn, I provide a handwritten message encouraging the letter recipient to vote as well as envelopes, stamps, and the printer to print all the letters. (If you cannot afford to buy your own materials, Vote Forward has letter kits you can request.)

Based on their research, Vote Forward found that voters who receive these handwritten, personalized, and NONPARTISAN messages are more likely to vote. Yeah, I cannot encourage anyone to vote a certain way. Just. To. Vote. I managed to send out 250 letters on October 29 to voters in Florida and Pennsylvania. 

My nicely packed box of letters encouraging people to vote.

Currently, Vote Forward has a call out for letters to Georgia. Guess I’ll have to participate in that too.

When not writing, I’ve been playing with photography. Although my husband knows I’m saving for an iPhone 14 (for its mega-megapixel camera), he’s given loaned me his last acquisition: a Lumix GX85. It’s smaller than the Canon T3i that I bought years ago and is fitted with a macro lens. The key is learning how to use it. In fact, he handed it over to me because he got impatient with trying to figure out how to use it. I have a steep learning curve with this one, but I’ve started playing around. 

Below is a photo of an orb-weaver that has built a home between a corner of our house and a Sabal palm. This was taken with my iPhone 8 Plus, using the wide-angle lens, and is about the closest macro shot I can get with good detail.

An orb-weaver fixing up his/her web.

Now here is the same spider with the Lumix:

Spin little orb-weaver, spin it, spin it.

Obviously closer, but still not as detailed as I’d like. 

But I’m working on it. The next two photos were also taken with the Lumix. I edited them slightly.

Finally, here are a couple of photos I took of the Blood Moon with my iPhone and my husband’s big-ass binoculars. 

I’m really not a morning person, but given that we could see the moon from our driveway, I got up with my husband at about 4:30 AM to watch the eclipse and take photos. 

This brings me to the other “thing” that’s been going on with me: my chronic neck pain. It was pretty bad a few weeks ago, enough to send me to the chiropractor for treatment and guidance. During the next two-and-a-half weeks I applied a heating pad to my neck for 20 minutes several times a day and did stretching exercises. I also tried an assortment of anti-inflammatory drugs and CBD salve with mixed results. Trial and error. Finally, we got me to a point where my pain has lessened and my range of motion has improved, but I’m not 100%. In all likelihood, I will never be 100%. This isn’t “woe is me.” Now that the worst is over, I can always say it could be worse. 

What I need to do–besides taking NSAIDs intermittently and applying heat and stretching regularly–is avoid activities that aggravate my arthritis. Activities like looking through my husband’s big-ass binoculars at the Blood Moon or working too long at my computer. I have to remind myself to take a lot of breaks … something I’m not really good at. 

And, last but not least, I’m still grieving. Some days I’m okay. Maybe I can say most days I’m okay but as I type this, I feel the tears start to well up. Writing helps somewhat and since my last blog post, I’ve written two more essays about my sister for my publication on Medium: 

Stories and Memories of a Wonderful Life and How I Stopped Time for Us

Thank you for reading. I leave you with the two amigos. 

Junior and Raji cuddling for warmth on a chilly morning.


28 thoughts on “What’s Going On?

  1. I was just thinking how much I envied the quality of those close-up shots…then came the moon! Just stunning.
    I’m so sorry the grief over your sister sneaks up on you like that. It must throw you off balance. I know sometimes I miss my mom so bad I’m practically convinced that if I just want it hard enough, she will still be with us. Perhaps in those moments, she is.

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  2. I am trying to write an intelligible comment, but the words i want are completely escaping my very tired mind. Been doing a moving project with the kids, and my brain is more tired than even my body. I want to tell you how much I love a post like this filled with all manner of good stuff, but I’m afraid that’s the best I can do right now. I’m also a little panicky at the thought of an iphone 14 when mine is an 8. Sending hugs!!!

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    1. Your words are perfect, Luanne, as always 🙂 My iPhone is an 8. I definitely don’t believe in getting the next “generation” just because there is one. But when I heard that the iPhone 14 would have a 48-megapixel camera, I caved. The 8 through 13 have 12 megapixels so this would be a huge difference. Interestingly, the price is comparable to the iPhone 13. Go figure. In any case, it’ll be months before I get one because I’m making myself save up for it 🙂

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      1. I can see where that would be really important to you because you are a wonderful photographer and tend to take very detailed photos. I just hate giving giant companies like Apple my money haha.

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        1. Boy, I hate it too! The best I can do is not run out and buy the latest iPhone every time there’s a new one. I knew people who did that, but then they also had contracts with regular cell service providers so (supposedly) got their upgrades free. We use Cricket, a pay-as-you-go plan. Just call me cheap but it works for us. Unless we’re in a certain part of Nevada and then it doesn’t. We learned the hard way that Cricket uses Verizon and that certain part of Nevada was only covered by AT&T. So my husband bought a Tracfone (cheap, cheap) as a backup. Egad, all these phones!!!

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          1. Oh no. This stuff all gets so stressful. My husband has two flip phones. So he doesn’t like the technology (although his MBA is in computers!!!!) but why TWO phones?

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            1. The only reasons I can think of for having two phones is (1) each has a different cell phone service provider so you double your chances of having continuous cell phone service (see my earlier comment about “that certain part of Nevada”); or (2) one is a burner phone that he only uses for dastardly (Mr. Hyde) deeds and the other is his Dr. Jekyll phone. But the Gardener doesn’t seem like someone who has a split personality so … The thing is, while the iPhone tends to cost $$$$$$$$, some places like Tracfone sell really cheap phones. In fact, I think my husband bought a second Tracfone because the first one became obsolete (i.e., unusable). You know, I just try to stay out it 😉


  3. It sounds like you are doing a lot, Marie! Wonderful photos!
    I’m glad your neck is feeling better, if not 100%, and I’m sorry about the grief. I’m sure that will always happen–those little reminders have a way of happening when we do not expect them. Sending (very gentle not to hurt your neck hugs). 💙

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    1. Thank you, Merril. It’ll be a tough few months since Christmas was my sister’s favorite holiday. I worry about my brother-in-law more than anything, but he does have a lot of family and friends looking out for him. Anyway, thanks for the hugs!

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    2. Okay, one funny story: my husband is several inches taller than me and we used to hug “normally,” but with his bad back and my bad neck, now I hug him around the waist while he hugs me around the shoulders. I guess you could say we hug ergonomically 😉

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  4. You’ve been doing a lot of creative things. Sounds like that really feeds your soul. Good stuff and I’m happy for you.

    Regarding topical treatment, have you tried Voltaren gel? I use it for my knees and shoulders.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marie, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. Not only can I understand the need for community while I grieve my loss of the ability to transport myself on my own, but also my husband, age 85, recently had what was to be a minor surgery and was, but the recovery turned into a nightmare of intense pain. At our ages, we’re losing family members, friends, and others we know the story of grief. I’m heart is with you and my prayers continue for you.

    The positive I hear in your post is that you’re keeping busy with your writing workshop, writing letters for the mid-term voting candidates, engaging in more types of photography. The images are lush! One thing that is bothersome is that neck of yours. Have you ever tried doTerra Deep Blue Rub? All natural and immediate relief from pain. I’m a user and believer in it. I buy it at Amazon at a lower price than other retailers. Here’s a link: https://amzn.to/3GdjxJ3. Two warnings — not cheap and does have a heavy smell, but I’ll stand anything for pain relief!

    Lastly, I think I’ve told you about my struggle with the after effects of my anesthesia in March 2019. Nothing has improved in my creative forces and my ability to find the words I need to write. You’ll note that I haven’t posted on my blog since August, I think. I miss it terribly, but after this long (2019-2022), I don’t think there’s much to count on returning. If you have any ideas, let me know.

    I love you and cherish the friendship we’ve found coast-to-coast!

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    1. Sherrey, so good to hear from you! I am very sorry to hear about your husband’s pain and your continuing difficulties. I wish I could just wave a wand and have you all feel better! I engage in magical thinking, probably too much.

      Thank you for recommending the cream. I’ll look into it. I’m really in much better shape now than I was a few weeks ago, but, still. I’ll try anything. It’s like trying to lose that “last 10 pounds.” This degree of achiness and pain just doesn’t want to go away.

      I’m deeply sad to hear that you might not return to your blog. I’ve felt that way myself at times, especially after my sister passed. Sometimes I think I should just post a photo or maybe a quote when I don’t feel like writing but still want to reach out. I believe you’ve done that at times. Some people have special posts like Wordless Wednesday or Silent Sunday where they just post a photo or picture that they like. No words, but it can still stimulate your community. Think about that.

      And thank you so much for your kind words. I cherish our friendship too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, Marie, with all you have going on, I didn’t expect a reply to my comment. Thanks so much for your gracious words and “magical thinking.” I’ll take your suggestions to heart. I love when someone helps you think about different methods of posting.

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  6. Wonderful recap, Marie. So sorry to hear about your chronic neck pain. 😔😔😔 Glad you’re getting some relief.
    I’m glad also that you’re being so proactive about your novel. And what beautiful photos! I couldn’t see the eclipse from where I live, so I’m glad you provided photos. You deserve that iPhone 14! Isn’t it sad we have to save up money to get it? They are so expensive. I still have an iPhone 6S!!! Everyone wants me to get at least somewhat of an updated phone. But even those aren’t cheap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words about my photos (and stuff ;-))! My brother is currently using my 6s, and it works fine for him. He’ll keep it until either (1) I get a new iPhone and give him my 8 Plus, or (2) the battery life is zip. I agree with you that these phones are too expensive, especially if you really only need a phone. But I’m okay with saving up for a new one because if I decide for some reason not to get it, I’ll have all this money to spend on something else :-).


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