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For Father’s Day 2011

Dear Family & Friends,

Here is a poem that I shared with my husband early yesterday morning, Sunday, Father’s Day:

The Blue Robe

How joyful to be together, alone

as when we first were joined

in our little house by the river

long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;

and now instead of two stories fumbling

to meet, we belong to one story

that the two, joining, made.   And now

we touch each other with the tenderness

of mortals, who know themselves:

how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,

old friend in the morning light,

beautiful in her blue robe!

~~~Wendell Berry

From The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint Press, 1998.

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Anniversary Year Two!

Dear Family & Friends,

Yesterday, I quietly and privately celebrated my second anniversary!  Exactly two years have passed since the day of the diagnosis of my breast cancer.  A friend of mine recently texted me to share the news that she celebrated “Anniversary Year Five” and, therefore, is officially a “Breast Cancer Survivor!”  I am eager to reach this significant milestone, also.  In the meantime, however, I am silently singing:

“Praise God, from whom ALL blessings flow!

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him, above, ye heavenly hosts;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”

In other news:

I completed my six-month FSU Physiology Research Study and showed improvement in many areas of fitness!  I am continuing to swim laps, about 1 & 1/2 miles, three times a week.

This week, I report to the Tallahassee Oncology office, to meet with the Physician’s Assistant.   I will have an exam every six months.

I forgot to tell you that I DID have the Infusa-Port removed, in March.  The surgical procedure went very well.

As soon as I figure out how to transfer photographs from my iPhone to this blog, I will post Family Photos & News!

Coram Deo,



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The Season of Lent


Lent:  Why Do We Do the Strange Things We Do?

by Fr. Eric Dudley, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL


If you’re new to the Anglican Church, don’t get spooked by our Lenten Worship Service.  Yes, we do a lot of kneeling and bowing and have some unfamiliar rituals but there is a reason for it all.  We do these things because they have a Biblical foundation and because we believe our Liturgy helps shape hearts for Christ.  Lent, the season stretching between Ash Wednesday and Easter Day, can seem especially odd but has some wonderful traditions.  Lent, which comes from an ancient Anglo-Saxon word, Lencten, simply means “spring.”  It is a forty-day period [this doesn’t count Sundays: they are always feast days because they celebrate the Resurrection] which reflects the forty days that our Lord spent in the wilderness, after his baptism.  In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by Satan and had to wrestle with how he would live out his ministry in the world.  Would he give into the temptations of Satan, to be what the world wanted him to be, or would he yield only to the Spirit of God?  We seek to follow in his footstep, honestly struggling with our own temptations, and trying to live into our baptismal call.

[The priests] wear purple in Lent because our Lord was arrayed in a purple robe, in the midst of his Passion: purple reminds us of his suffering and the solemnity of this season.  We begin our Liturgy with the Tolling of Bells.  This is a sixteenth century practice called the Angelus: three sets of three tolls, followed by a set of nine tolls, represent prayers said in honor of the Trinity.  After the Angelus, we say the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. This comes at the beginning of the service, to set the clear tone of Lent, which is a call to repentance and faithfulness to God’s Law.  The Commandments are followed by the Confession of Sin, which usually comes later in the service but is at the beginning in Lent.  Then, we sing the Kyrie:  Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; Kyrie eleison, which means, Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy.  One of the earliest penitential supplications used in the Christian Church, it comes from the Old Testament.

Much of the rest of the service follows our normal form.  The Liturgy of the Word contains our Lessons from Scripture.  We read Scripture in a three-year cycle; if you came to church every Sunday for three years, you would hear all the major themes of the Bible and virtually the whole of Scripture read.  After the Sermon, we celebrate God’s grace poured out for us, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the pinnacle and purpose of the service.  All the words that come before are used to prepare our hearts, that we might be ready to receive God’s grace into our bodies at the Communion Table.  During Lent, we use Rite I for the service.  This is an alternative form that is found in the Book of Common Prayer, very old, a bit stilted in language [all those thee’s and thou’s] but beautifully penitential.  Another difference in Lent is our use of the Prayer of Humble Access, which comes right after the Breaking of Bread. This prayer dates back to the sixteenth century English Prayer Book and reminds us of our proper contrition before Almighty God and of his great mercy toward us.

In Lent, we don’t ring joyful bells, we replace altar flowers with greenery only, and we don’t say, Alleluia. In addition, neither the church nor individual parishioners should have celebratory gatherings, including weddings and lavish parties,  during Lent.  This is a time to step back from our frantic secular lives, listen to the voice of God, and honor the sacrifice of his son, our Lord.

Lent is a time for fasting, self-examination, prayer, and self-denial.  Sometimes, people choose to give something up for Lent:  examples are fasting for one meal a week or giving up television.  Perhaps you could take something on, such as serving the poor or visiting a nursing home.  In either case, the purpose is to identify, in any small way, with the sacrifice of our Lord and his love for the whole world.

The really wonderful thing is that, after Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, Easter arrives in resounding joy!  The Alleluias, the flowers, the bells, and celebrations are all back in full force!  And how much joyful it is because we’ve kept a Holy Lent!

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It’s Been a Quiet Month . . .

Dear Family & Friends,

I apologize for being delinquent in updating my blog!  I assure you that all is well but during December & January, I had two episodes of a bad head cold.  However, soon I will add Christmas photos and updates on our family!

Stephen & I  continue to swim three times per week.  I’ve joined the “100 Mile Club” at the FSU indoor pool and I submit a record of all my laps. I still swim 50 laps [of 50 meters] in 48 minutes. I also strength train two hours a week at FSU, through the research study.  The research director regularly increases the amount of weights on each machine and the workouts are increasingly challenging. I barely recognize my own arms and legs these days, so I know the results are achieving the desired effect, now that I have devoted three months to the study.

I have a date for surgery, to remove the Infusa-Port:  March 9, 2011.

Good news! Daniel, our son in law, has a new job, as a software tester, at Marquis Software, a family-run business. Stephen is a consultant there and Garrett is a software developer.

Daniel and Haley have two blogs and they regularly include photos of our grandson, Benjamin, who will turn two on 02.08.11:

Coram Deo,


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We Interrupt This Blog . . . .

. . . . . to bring you an important Public Service Announcement . . . . please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested:

There are four to six openings for qualifying subjects to participate in the six-month FSU Research Study in which I am currently participating: “The effect of dried plum consumption, calcium plus D vitamin supplements, and strength training on the bone density of post-menopausal breast cancer survivors.”

Requirements: post-menopausal breast cancer survivors who have completed chemotherapy.


-free FSU parking spot

-two hours per week of free, instructed and supervised strength training, using weight machines, on FSU campus

-free Dexa-Scan bone density evaluation

-free lymphodema evaluation

-free dried plums and calcium plus Vitamin D supplements [if you are randomly-selected into those groups]

-comraderie with other breast cancer survivors

-add to the knowledge base re: natural remedies to increase bone density for yourself and other benefit breast cancer survivors!

Interested?  Please call, ASAP:

Emily Simonavice, Ph. D. Candidate and Research Director

Physiology Department, FSU

850.672.9369 [cell]




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Dear Faithful Family & Friends,

Today  I saw my new oncologist, Dr. Broesker, for the first time.  He said that his office does not do tests [blood tests, scans] in order to look for cancer cells in a healthy, symptom-free person.  However, based upon my completed treatment therapies and my current excellent health, he says that I can call Dr. Crooms and schedule surgery to have the Infusa-Port removed.  After looking forward to this day for three months, I admit that I was a little uneasy about being declared “safe,” without any quantifiable data to establish such.  However, it is good news, indeed, is it not?

Next, I will schedule surgery with Dr. Crooms [in January] and, in June, I will meet Beverly Walker, the new Physician’s Assistant, at Dr. Broeseker’s office.  She will be responsible for my twice-a-year examinations.

This all seems rather anti-climactic, after all that we have been through together.  I’m weeping as I write this because of my gratitude to my dear family and friends, who have been through this long, 18-month journey with me.  Now I can finally say it:  With your prayers, encouragement, and support, I have finally reached the other side of the “pool!”

Life seems eerily “normal” now, during this Advent Season.  I have been able to enjoy the things I love doing:  Last Saturday, I helped a dear friend decorate her ancestral home.  Last Sunday night, Stephen & I attended “Lessons & Carols” at St. Peter’s Anglican [so lovely!]. Tomorrow night, Haley & I will attend the Annual Messiah Singalong.  This weekend, we will host out of town guests &  a supper party, and attend the Nutcracker Ballet in Thomasville, GA, to see Haley’s students perform.

I’ve got a head full of hair [no eyebrows, however!] but I’m still going to wear my funky hand-knit/crocheted hats this winter because, yes, it does get cold here in North Florida!

Coram Deo,



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Christmas Long Past

Dear Family & Friends,

[Here are Christmas memories, circa 1954-1964, from the three Blair sisters [Susan, Margot, and Amy].  I originally compiled these memoirs for my siblings, cousins, children, grandchildren, and godchildren but I thought you might enjoy them, also!]

At the home of Mommo [“MAW-maw”] Blair, my grandmother, my very favorite childhood memories of Christmas are:

The bowl of hard candies, in the clear glass candy dish with lid and pedestal;

The Christmas tree, in the “parlor,” the formal living room, and under the tree:

The fairy-like miniature winter scene of a frozen pond –tiny ice skaters on a mirror, surrounded by snow and wee little woodland trees and animals;

The wonderful desserts, stored in the “pie safe;”

The rounds of company, coming to visit;

The crackling fire;

The cousins sleeping, on multiple twin beds, in Aunt Lula’s room or in the dining room; and

The mantel clock, ticking, as we went to sleep.

During my childhood, our Blair family of six drove by automobile, to visit our North Carolina relatives, for the Christmas holidays.  Now, fifty years later, when I drive down lonely, country roads on a cold, crisp December night, I remember the anticipation of approaching the outskirts of Winston-Salem, NC:  The wintry moon cast light on the stark landscape and silhouetted the bare trees against the slate sky, while strings of cheerful Christmas lights illuminated the rural homes & fences.

No matter how late we arrived at Mommo’s home [even at midnight] she was always near the window, keeping watch for us.  We children scrambled out of the car and ran to the door to greet Mommo.  She was dressed, as usual, in a “house-dress” with a belt, a cardigan sweater, hose, low heels, and an apron.  She had silvery, wavy hair, kind twinkling eyes, and a beautiful smile.

After welcome hugs and kisses, we sat down at the kitchen table, while Mommo served each of us a bowl of homemade Brunswick Stew, from a large, simmering stockpot.  Afterwards, everyone gathered around the warmth of the fireplace in the family room to “visit.”  We were amazed when the mantle clock chimed “one” or “two” in the morning because our parents never allowed us to stay up that late!  Finally, sleep overcame us and we bade each other good night.  We children dreamed, not of sugar plums, but of the fun we would have the next day, when our cousins arrived.

Mommo’s home had no central heat or air conditioning but every room had either a fireplace or a potbelly stove.  Each morning, I pretended to be asleep, when Mommo quietly padded into the “girls’ dormitory” bedroom, to replenish the wood or coal.  Except for my face, I was cozy and warm, under layers of quilts, lovingly hand-crafted by Mommo and her sister, Elizabeth [Aunt “Bill”].    I ventured out a hand, touched the frosty cold on the windowpane beside my bed, and snuggled under the covers to doze, until an adult called us into breakfast.

The best Country Farmhouse Breakfast in the world was at Mommo’s large wooden and expandable kitchen table:  Mommo prepared eggs, grits, “red-eye” gravy, ham, bacon, sausage, biscuits, toast, butter, jelly . . .  and, of course, plenty of coffee, which she brewed in an aluminum percolator, on the range-top of the electric stove.  After breakfast [before the era of shared domestic chores] the “women-folk” cleaned the kitchen.  Then, all the adults gathered in the family room, to sit and “visit,” as they sipped more coffee.

We cousins were never content merely to sit and “visit” inside – we were ready for some outdoor adventure!  One snowy December morning, after breakfast, we bundled up in heavy wool coats, leather boots, gloves, and mufflers.  Finally, we bolted outside to build a snowman.  Working as a team, we assembled a snowman:  We scooped up snow and rolled it into three balls — small, medium, and large — and set them on top of one another.  We ran inside to search for old, used accessories for the snowman’s “attire:” a pair of gloves or mittens, a hat, corn-cob pipe, muffler or scarf, and a broom.  We also fetched two pieces of coal and a carrot, to complete the snowman’s “face.”  After we took photographs of our creation, we cousins had snowball fights!

Only two hours after breakfast, it seems hard to imagine that we Blair cousins could be hungry again!  Yet, we gathered in the kitchen and expectantly sat around the kitchen table.  With wide-eyed delight, we watched as Mommo positioned her sturdy step-stool, carefully climbed up to reach the highest pine cabinet shelves, and retrieved two tall, decorative Christmas “tins” or metal canisters.  Inside those canisters were the most delicious homemade Christmas cookies in the entire world!  Mommo made the cookies “from scratch,” using Salem Old World Moravian Tea Cookie recipes, in two flavors:  “Sugar” and “Spice.”  Even now, in my imagination, I can taste them:  They were thin and crisp and seemed to contain, within their sugary and buttery depths, all the wonder and delight of A Child’s Christmas at Grandmother’s Home.

Mommo served us cups of steaming coffee, in “grown-up” china cups and saucers.  We passed around the sugar and cream and helped ourselves to generous amounts of both.  The temptation was to “dunk” the cookies into the coffee but they were so thin that they instantly melted into the hot liquid!  Thus began my life-long love affair with coffee:  Even to this day, I cannot enjoy a cookie without the accompanying comfort cup of coffee.  I have since never found a cookie to be as scrumptious, nor a cup of coffee as aromatic, perhaps because I have never been as exquisitely happy, as in those carefree days.

From his childhood in the 1920’s and 1930’s, our father, A. B. Blair, remembered that, every year, in early December, Mommo made several “batches” of the Moravian cookie dough, which she shaped into “logs,” wrapped in clean linen tea towels, and chilled in the “icebox.”  Every night, she rolled out a portion of one log and used tin cookie-cutters to create seasonal shapes of stars, bells, snowmen, angels, candy canes, and evergreen trees.  The dough was cold, thick, and sticky.  Mommo asked “Daddah” [Grandfather Blair] to come into the kitchen and help her.  His job was to sit on a stool in front of the stove, watch the cookies, and make sure they did not burn.  [Imagine a stove with no electronics, not even electricity or natural gas energy.  With only wood or coal for fuel, you can assume that baking was not an exact science.] Daddah kept a vigilant eye on the cookies:  He frequently opened up the heavy, solid cast iron door to peek in and determine if the cookies were done.  After every batch, Daddah wearily inquired, “How many more, Hope?”  Mommo never disclosed to Daddah how many cookie dough “logs” remained in the “icebox.” In fact, she hid the “logs” from his sight!

During the evenings, we younger cousins sat in a cluster on the hearth rug, around Mommo’s fireside rocking chair, while she read books aloud to us, as if she had all the time in the world.  She had large hands and thick fingers; after every page, she paused to touch her finger to her tongue and then she slowly turned the next page of the book.  She read with expression and gave the dialogue of each character his or her own unique “voice.”  This was endlessly fascinating to me.  With those large, hard-working hands, Mommo played hymns on the piano in the formal dining room.  As she played, she also sang, with a voice that was strong and true.

In the evenings, we cousins also gathered together in Mommo’s family room to watch a Christmas film on the black and white television.  Enthralled, I watched Shirley Temple, as poor Sarah Crewe, in the film, The Little Princess. I can still remember an old film version of A Christmas Carol: There lay Scrooge, wide-eyed and trembling, dreading the arrival of his third visitor.  Then, the Ghost of Things to Come reached out his bony hand to pull back the closed curtain of the bed.  At that moment, I recoiled and fled from the room!  Almost two decades would pass before I was willing to watch a new film version of that Dickens classic.

During the day, we cousins did not devote any time to watching television at Mommo’s home.  No, sir!  We were too busy playing Hide and Go Seek, Cops and Robbers, and Cowboys and Indians. One cold December day, we were on a search for the best hiding places inside Mommo’s home.  We entered one of four doors that led to a square, enclosed hallway, which contained the landing of the stairs.  Within the hallway was a coat & hat ‘hall-tree,’ with a bench or seat, which doubled as a storage chest.  We opened the lid and peered inside:  [Would one of us be able to fit in there?] Underneath the stairs, we opened a door, which revealed steps disappearing into the cellar, the cool, dark storage place for glass jars of preserved garden fruits and vegetables.  [No good:  Too small, musty, dark, and cold.]

Next, we climbed the stairs to the second story, which ended on a landing.  Beyond the landing was a dormer window, which faced Waughtown Street.  We explored the two bedrooms upstairs, one on either side of the landing.  Inside each bedroom was a clothes-closet.  One of us pushed the hanging clothes aside and discovered that — lo and behold! The back of the clothes-closet revealed yet another door!  This hidden door opened up into the light-filled and spacious attic.  [Hey, everybody!  Our search is over!  Come and see!] The sunlight streamed through the attic windows and provided hours of day-time enjoyment and adventure, as our imaginations soared and we created our own entertainment.  In this domain, among the dusty, old furniture, children reigned and adults never ventured.

On Christmas Eve, we [all the Blair and Long relatives] attended the Evening Candlelight Worship Service, at the family’s neighborhood church, The Evangelical and Reformed Church, which was within walking distance of Mommo’s home.  After the service, we bundled into the family cars and traveled to the home of one of the aunts and uncles.  On Christmas Eve, it was always cold; if it was also snowy, the fathers and uncles installed snow tires.  Often, the extended family gathered at the home of Uncle Audree and Aunt Margaret because their home had central heat and a large, finished, basement family room.  The women-folk transformed the basement table into a sumptuous buffet, with tempting “potluck” covered-dishes and festive desserts.

One Christmas Day morning, Mommo and I were alone together, in her family room.  That year, one of the gifts from her two sons was a large, oval, braided rug.  I was on my hands and knees, smoothing out the wrinkles in the new rug.  I looked up at her and asked, “What else did you receive for Christmas?” In response, she brought to me a gift box from the top of her dresser.  I sat Indian-style on the rug and opened the lid.  Nested within the satin lining of the box, I found a fancy silver-plate “dresser set:” a hand-held mirror, hairbrush, and comb.  I smiled politely but I privately considered this second gift to be only slightly more inspiring than the first.  I was sad for Mommo because she had given all of us so much love yet she had received only two gifts for Christmas and neither of them seemed very exciting.  I asked her, “What did you really want for Christmas?” She paused to bend down toward me and put her face next to mine.  She smiled and answered, “My greatest gift for Christmas is having all of you here with me.”


“It was she . . . who protested that she didn’t want a present; she just wanted us all to be together and to love one another.  It was she who feared that seasonal frenzy would over-shadow eternal verities.  She was apprehensive that we might get so caught up in the excitement of giving and, regardless of what anyone tried to teach us, of getting, that we would ignore ‘the true meaning of Christmas . . .’

. . . The true meaning of Christmas.  Indeed.

‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come.

Let earth receive her King.

Let every heart prepare Him room

And Heaven and nature sing . . .’

. . . Oh, Christmas gift!  Christmas gift, everybody!”

~~~ Excerpt from Christmas Gift! by Ferrol Sams, 1989, A Delta Book, published by Dell Publishing, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., NY, NY, ISBN 0.385.31399.3



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The Wild Grapes

A bowl of Muscadines; the green ones are Scuppernongs.

Dear Faithful Family & Friends,

I am no poet, although my son-in-law, Daniel Stewart, is.  In a recent post, I tried my hand at prose, to communicate the mere essence of a thing, by employing an economy of words. My husband objects, however,  and encourages me to further explain my thoughts.  So, having first offered to you the barest “whiff” of The Fragrance of Scuppernongs, I will offer [in increments] the background story of my fascination with the wild grapes.  Below please find descriptions of the Scuppernong.  Today’s entry is a mere introduction; in future blog entries, I will enlarge on this theme and how it relates to my grandmother and to me.

The Wild Grapes

In September 1984, I was at a small, locally owned grocery store in Tallahassee, when I caught the whiff of a delightful aroma, which immediately transported me back to the NC home and gardens of my grandmother.  Following the scent, I re-discovered ripened Scuppernongs, a fragrance I had not enjoyed since I was a young girl.  It is amazing how a fragrance has the ability to release memories, seemingly forgotten.  In one moment, the memories of my childhood visits to my grandmother’s home came rushing back and I recorded the details, as quickly as I could remember them.  My father, an Air Force officer, was stationed in Japan [from 1956-1957] and my mother and siblings and I remained in Yadkinville, NC.  Since my grandmother’s birthday was September 16, we traveled to her home, in nearby Winston-Salem, NC, to celebrate her birthday, when the Scuppernongs were ripe.  It is the memories of those two years, especially the summer and early autumn of those years, that will provide the backbone for future blog entries.  It’s “just the facts” today.


Some of my Alert Readers [even Southerners] did not recognize the name of the fruit. Please note that the proper spelling is “Scuppernong,” with a capital “S.”  Evidently, Wikipedia does not know this.  I did not correct the spelling or punctuation in the description below but I did delete the subheadings and references.

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:]
The scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), a species of grape native to the southeastern United States.  It is usually a greenish or bronze color and is similar in appearance and texture to a white grape, but rounder and larger and first known as the ‘big white grape.’

The name comes from the Scuppernong River in North Carolina mainly along the coastal plain, where it was first mentioned as a “white grape” in a written logbook by the Florentine explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano while exploring the Cape Fear River Valley in 1524 . . . Sir Walter Raleigh‘s explorers, the captains Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, wrote in 1584 that North Carolina’s coast was “…so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them…in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found.” And in 1585, Governor Ralph Lane, when describing North Carolina to Raleigh, stated that “We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and pleasant, grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater…”

It was first cultivated during the 17th century, particularly in Tyrrell County. Isaac Alexander found it while hunting along the banks of a stream feeding into Scuppernong Lake in 1755; it is mentioned in the North Carolina official state toast. The name itself traces back to the Algonquian word ascopo meaning “sweet bay tree”.

The fruit grows where temperatures seldom fall below 10° Fahrenheit. Injury can occur where winter temperatures drop below 0° Fahrenheit. Some cultivars such as Magnolia, Carlos, and Sterling survive north to Virginia and west to the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills. Muscadines have a high tolerance to diseases and pests. Over 100 years of breeding has resulted in several bronze cultivars such as Carlos, Doreen, Magnolia and Triumph, that are distinguished by being perfect flowered (male and female flower parts together) from the Scuppernong variety with only female flower parts.

The oldest cultivated grapevine in the world is the 400 year old scuppernong “Mother Vine” growing on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. The scuppernong is the state fruit of North Carolina.


Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, in her Florida memoirs, Cross Creek, [Scribner’s, 1942, pages 222-223] says this:  “The Scuppernong grape is not a Florida native, but cuttings from old Carolina and Georgia vines have been brought in with many a covered wagon and on many an ox-cart.  The vine thrives here in the dry sandy soil, and on many abandoned clearings, where even the brick chimneys have fallen into dust, a huge Scuppernong will stand, seeming to support the rotten lattice work rather than to be sustained by it, an echo of some dead and gone family struggle for existence.  The purple Scuppernong is rich and fat and unexceptional, but the white Scuppernong, in the lands of loving and expert care, makes a vintage wine that can stand with the best Sauterne.”

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It’s About Time…..

Dear Faithful Family & Friends,


Just look at this substantial timepiece on my delicate arm.   I recently bought, for Stephen and me, matching Men’s Timex Ironman Triathalon wristwatches.  Water resistant to 100 meters, they count laps [a maximum of 100], record times, and store workouts, for each session.  You may ask me, “Why not buy the women’s version of this watch for yourself?” Well, the women’s color choices were pink, purple, or baby blue and I preferred black or navy.  And – get this – the women’s version records only a maximum of 50 laps per session!  I don’t mean to sound arrogant but I already swim 50 laps in one session and I plan to incrementally increase my laps in the future!

Wearing this rather hefty chronographer on my wrist, I looked down yesterday and thought, “That’s ironic; I never before thought of myself as an athlete!” Well, in my former life, who would have suspected that I would become an athlete in my 50’s?

Certainly not my teachers, coaches, or fellow students. Do you remember those students in High School Physical Education?  The ones who were always the last to be chosen for teams?  Well, I was one of those students.  I was afraid of the ball, I lacked eye-hand coordination, and I was not aggressive.  I did, however, shine during the Folk Dance Unit of Physical Education and I took years of ballet lessons.   I danced with confidence and joy.  I resumed adult ballet lessons a few years ago and, let me tell you, it may not be a sport but it is very strenuous and demanding!

Certainly not my father, the sports enthusiast, athlete, and coach. Imagine his disappointment:  I was always a “sports zero,” in spite of the fact that I was [brace yourself] a cheerleader and a song leader in high school.  I understood nothing about football the entire four years that I was cheering/song leading.  Eventually, I did kind of get the gist of basketball, however.

Certainly not my husband: When we were newlyweds, he dedicated himself to teaching me tennis and I humored him by huffing and puffing and playing Eliza Doolittle to his Henry Higgins.   A natural athlete, he has [previously] always out-shined me in sports endeavors, such as tennis, running, and hiking.

O, woe was I!  The humiliation of it all!  The deep disappointment!  The loneliness!  I tell you, the life of a sport outcast is too painful for words!

Ahhh, but now the sweet revenge!

I have not yet attended any of my high school reunions.  However, judging from the photographs, it appears to me that not all the former athletes are current athletes.   Is that a kind enough way to say it?

And, now it is Stephen, who is “nipping at my fins,” as he describes it, trying to out-swim me!  I encourage him all that I can, short of slowing down.  Every time I see him gaining on me, in the next lane over, I cannot resist the temptation to speed up!  I see him, out of the corner of my eye, and I start humming a few bars of “Just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait!” as I race him to the wall and complete my flip turn just as he touches the wall.  I must say, he has been a very good, um, “sport” about this surprising exchange of roles.

Every time I look down at my Timex, I think how much fun it would be to show my father.   If he were here, he would slap his knees and “hoot” in delight.  After all, he first taught me how to swim!  When I was three or four, I stood on the side of the pool and yelled, “My tine, my tine!” [“My turn!”] because I was so eager for my turn to jump into the pool, where my dad would catch me and teach me to swim to the side.

I may be a late-blooming athlete but I am now committed to life-long fitness.  In fact, I am currently training for Senior Olympics! Only – well — they don’t exactly know about it yet . . .

I decided to wear my new watch every day – not merely on swimming days.  However, please do not get the wrong impression.  I wear it not to boast or call attention to myself.  Nope. I may now be a silver-haired grandmother but I figure nobody messes with a gal wearing a watch like this.

Coram Deo,


P. S.  In related news, at the FSU Physiology Department, I passed my first fitness evaluation with flying colors!  Emily, the Research Coordinator, fitted me with a heart monitor and, while I was standing or sitting, the monitor did not register because – you guessed it — my heart rate was too slow!   This kind of news makes my physicians very happy!

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Prunes & Espresso

Dear Faithful Family & Friends,

FSU Morcom Aquatics Center: 50 meter pool

I thought you might enjoy seeing a photograph of “my home away from home:’  the pool where Stephen and I currently swim laps three mornings a week.  Isn’t this place gorgeous?  During the summer, we swam in the 50 meter pool [above].  However, during the academic year we swim in the 25-meter dive pool during the same time [8 am] that the FSU Swim Team works out in the 50-meter pool.  I find the atmosphere very stimulating!  The advantage of the dive pool is that it is 82-83 degrees, which is lovely, except that the outdoor temperature will continue to decrease, throughout the fall and winter.  This makes entering the pool oh-so-inviting but exiting the pool is excruciating! And yes, it does get cold here in North West Florida.

This morning, I swam about 50 laps [one lap is 50 meters] in about 60 minutes. Keep in mind, however, that I swim with fins and paddles.  Swimming with Stephen has motivated me to swim faster and better, as I am very competitive.  He warns me, however, that he is “nipping at my fins.”  My retort is that I am very afraid and will faint after breakfast . . .

Here is a bit of good news!  I have recently been accepted as a subject in an FSU Research Study [Physiology Department] which will run for six months, beginning November 2010.  The study, for post-menopausal breast cancer survivors, will study the effect of exercise and dried plum consumption on bone density.  I will participate in rigorous, supervised exercise, two days a week at FSU, as part of the study.  I can’t wait!  I report for my baseline assessments on October 20 and 27.

At the same time, I will conduct a personal research study in swimming, studying the effect of espresso coffee consumption on swim performance.  The experimental phase will include one cup of espresso before swimming.  The control phase will exclude the cup of espresso before swimming.  I told Stephen that I think the experimental phase is going to last a very long time . . .

Coram Deo,


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