More From Dartmoor

The other day I gave you a little teaser when I talked about our big walk around Dartmoor.  So I took a break from sewing to pop a few pictures up today. I’ve been asked to post some pictures of my repurposing projects and I’m making good progress so look for a few photos towards the end of the week. Back to Dartmoor...


The moor has a great deal of variety in the look.



We passed a fair number of cyclists that day. Ray and Mij said they’d never seen so many on the path there before.


Me eating my standard moorland meal of American peanut butter and English ginger jam.


Ray and Mij having their lunch.


Pausing for a hug.


Checking the map just to be sure.


A walk through the woods just before climbing through the rocks.



Hill climbing past the moorland ponies.



Classic English countryside…sheep and stone walls.



Patchwork beauty.


I love the lone tree in the curve of the tor. ( Tor – large hills with outcrops of bedrock)


Pausing for me to catch up…I always lag behind taking pictures.

IMG_8330A long shot of the sea in the distance beyond the lake.


Nightfall on the drive home.

Still Walking The Same Path


In 1975, the two men in the center of this photograph met through a mountaineering club in the Midlands of England. That’s thirty-four years they have been camping, climbing, hiking and walking together. In case you don’t recognize my husband John from this picture taken after a trip to Nepal in 1982, he’s the second man from the right. Standing next to him on his right (wearing a vest), is his long time friend Ray.

John and I were walking on Dartmoor today with Ray and his girlfriend Mij. While we covered about nine miles, I was snapping away taking so many pictures I was frequently lagging behind the three of them. Not surprising to me, I seemed to catch most of my photographs of them from behind. It was an amazing walk and I’ll be back tomorrow with more pictures to share, but I wanted to post a couple of John and Ray from today… still walking the same path after all these years.




It’s Curtains For The New Look – Repurposing A Dream


My great aunt Wylly was always full of surprises. In addition to being a talented children’s book author and writer, her gift giving, present wrapping skills made every gift she gave a magical experience. Her packages were never wrapped in tidy boxes or perfectly shaped bundles and the ribbon didn’t always match the color of the paper, but inside could be anything. My sister Margaret and I treasured every gift she ever gave us even when we received things we were not sure we would ever use.

Forty years ago when I was nine, I received the pin cushion you see above. Aunt Wylly had taken the time to make it special by embroidering my name on it and adding it to a sewing box stocked with some of the things a young girl just learning to sew might need.

I never became the world’s best seamstress. In fact, it’s generally touch and go as to whether a pattern I’m “trying” to follow will come out as it’s supposed to, but I must say, with a few pins and a bit of imagination I can sometimes surprise myself.

It’s raining here as I work on repurposing some drapes, a duvet, and a bed valance that all were a part of my past life. Along with an old bed frame of John’s, and a few other pieces, I’m creating a dreamy new look for the guest room. John has taken to calling it the oldie worldie room and I think that fits it fairly well except the real oldie bits are being repurposed into a new look that mixes my world with his in a way that I just know is going to be a warm and welcoming place for our guests.

I’m stretching my skills a bit to do some things I’ve never done before and I hope to have it finished before I leave for Georgia in about a week. That said, I need to get back to work now. My new sewing machine has just been plugged in for the first time and I’m ready to give it a go…after I read the directions of course. Do you remember when I wrote about something big that happened because I didn’t read the directions?  Go here to find out.

The Synchronicity Of It All


Late last night while I was sleeping, Kerstin from Gypsylife was reading this post I wrote for TMAST this past Tuesday. She left me a lovely and intriguing comment that caused me to go back to her site to search for a picture to illustrate her comment about her cat which looks surprisingly like the cat, Mephisto in my story. I’ve pasted Kerstin’s comment below:

“Wow, what a story. I am glad you took the direction you did, it was very intriguing. I dream a lot, too, as you know, but don’t usually pay too much attention, either. Maybe I should. And I have to tell you, Elizabeth, my cat looks EXACTLY like the one in the photo! Even your description of the eyes is spot on! It’s a little creepy actually looking at that photo … and I would love to hear the continuation of Mephisto’s story! I look forward to more TMAST stories next year, they’ve been so enjoyable. Have a great trip! Kxo”

One has to wonder at times about the synchronicity of life and how after reading her post on Tuesday during a break from writing my own, the evolution of my story developed in a way that made it possible for me to share several of my real dreams through a character named Minnie. In crediting her as inspiration, she came to my blog and saw the cat that looks just like hers. I love that about life.  I hope you’ll take a look at both cats in the links I provided above…the two cats do look as if they could be the same and it’s pretty amazing to consider that my cat picture was taken here in England, while hers was on the West coast in America.

If you’ve had a similar experience, I love for you to share it. Perhaps more of us will find a link we were unaware of before now.

You’ll Call It A Procedure, But…Questions About FAI Treatment


Elizabeth-No Restrictions

I don’t know how many of you saw Billy Crystal’s talk to his son’s classroom in the movie, City Slickers, it’s the one where he tells them what they can expect from life, decade by miserable decade…

Stop a minute and go here to see it …I’ll be here waiting when you get back.

Okay…I think now you can see where this post is heading. That’s right, straight to the OR (operating room) do not pass go or try convince yourself you don’t need it. Pain is real and when it’s constant, it is a pretty clear sign. I tend just to take some over the counter pain meds and drive on. Call it stubbornness or a left over ” Can do” attitude from my army days, but I like to act as if I just put my head down and stay focused, I ‘ll be able to out run whatever twinge, or in this case, stabbing leg and butt pain that won’t go away.

As an example of my former crazy-super-woman belief in mind-over-body madness, I once ran miles and miles every day for three months with a really bad break in my foot. I didn’t know it was broken, I thought I had bruised it wearing high heels at a business conference. So for three months, I got up early every morning, swallowed 800 mg of Motrin, laced up my Nikes, and went out the door.

By the time I saw a Podiatrist, he  took one look at my x-rays, laughingly said it was a really bad break and asked if I minded if he used my films ( x-rays ) in his next talk. I thought great …this guy is going to share my stupidity with a roomful of people at his next presentation.  After I said okay to being someone else’s life lesson for the day, I asked him what were we going to do about my foot, to which he responded, ” Nothing, it’s already healed. ” Let me say now…my left foot has never been right since. I should have listened to my body when it was sending me such loud messages back then. Maybe that foot would always have been a bit more prone to pain after the break, but maybe not if I hadn’t ignored the pain.

As it turns out, I’m getting another chance to decide what to do now about a pain I’ve had for years, but has become increasing worse over the last few months. I’ve lived with it for such a long time and gone through a fair amount of physical therapy and other non invasive treatments (a little chiropractic), that I just assumed I had a hinky hip and there was nothing to be done about it. I went to a doctor here recently for the first time since moving to England ( my first NHS experience ) to chat about HRT and aging (hey I’m 49…it’s time for those talks) and my hip pain came up in conversation, before you could say boo, my new GP had me scheduled with a surgeon for an evaluation.

After a meeting with the surgeon, I had x-rays followed by an MRA (MRI with contrast) and yesterday I received a letter from the from the bone cutter confirming my GP’s initial suggested diagnosis of FAI along with his recommendation of open hip debridement surgery.

It’s nice to know there’s a reason for all that pain, but I really wish there were more options than the suggested surgery. I’m actually kind of old I think for this solution based on things I’ve read and other sources. I think most of the time you are told to adjust your lifestyle as in swim, don’t run and just wait until you’re old enough for a hip replacement. Given that I’ve lead such an active physical life, this would be a real hardship for me. I’d be looking at no yoga, no running, no rock climbing, no skiing, … would no coast path walking be next ….. the English may call it walking, but sometimes the hills are so steep, you almost feel as if you need a harness and someone on belay so it’s not always pain free either.

I DO NOT want to give up all my fun physical activity at 49!

I’ve had a wonderful response from a dear friend who happens to be a very knowledgeable medical professional with years of experience in oncology and other areas along with some more recent skills in the area of chiropractic medicine. Steven works out of Atlanta most of the time, but his gentle and supportive email to me today made me feel as if he was sitting in the same room discussing the possible options for my treatment and recovery. I really appreciated his thoughts and suggestions and this takes me to the reason for exposing my weak side ( hip) to the world.

If you’re still reading this lengthy medical drama, I’d like to impose upon you to please send this out to anyone you know who has gone though the surgery for a hip impingement…mine would be open as opposed to arthroscopic so that is what I would be most interested in hearing more about, their surgical experience along with their recovery, follow up…and hopefully, their successful outcome.

My actual diagnosis is an ovoid/cam femoral head shape with an associated tear of the labrum.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – Minnie’s Mephisto


Everyday, he looks right at me. Not as a cat, but as a mysterious sentry who knows more than he should.

Minnie looked hard at the cat that appeared to be watching her as she walked past the window. It was always the same whenever she saw it… sitting, just as it was now, staring, unblinking and still. It seemed positioned at the window as if it no longer had a need to close it’s eyes or rest from what Minnie had come to think of as a sort of guard duty. Unlike most of the cats around the village, she never saw this one outside the house, in fact she never saw it in any of the other windows of the house but this one.

Minnie had moved here from America not quite a year ago when she had married a man she’d  met through an online dating service. Happily in love with him and her life here, she had more time on her hands than she could ever remember and her husband teased her sometimes about her active imagination. He knew better than to try to chat on days when she went straight to her computer after coming in from a walk eager to record the stories she dreamed up while exploring the ancient village. There were many advantages to living in a place that was so old that its existence had been recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 especially for someone who had been creating other lives in her head since she was old enough to read a story by herself.

With so much history all around her, how could she not feel the past speaking to her knowing as she did that people had walked the same ground for hundreds of years before her.  When she spoke about the energy of a place as in ” something feels funny here,”  her husband would dismiss it gently, but not disrespectfully being content as he was that all things could be explained with logical facts and a rational discussion.

Minnie had experienced one too many unexplainable  “awarenesses” that had later been confirmed as having happened to let go of what she felt to be true. She would never have called herself a psychic, but sometimes she had dreams that had messages for people she knew…what she liked to think of as love letters from the dead.  A vivid dreamer her whole life, she usually remembered her dreams with great clarity, but even she had pooh poohed her waking and sleeping “connections” until one night she had a dream that could not be ignored.

Much of the time, her dreams made no real sense to her and aside from noting the detail and sometimes writing them down, she had rarely thought too much about them until one night years ago not long after her father had died she had dreamed of an uncle who had died of breast cancer.  Minnie had known little about this man, having grown up disconnected from that part of the family for most of her early years. If asked to describe him, she would have said that he had worked all his life in different offices for insurance companies, wearing wing tips with his suits and ties, a type of shoe that while enjoying a kind of constant popularity in business men,  still screamed “old man shoes” especially when tied up with tiny waxed laces. He had smoked cigarettes for years, and never seemed too interested in healthy living, barely taking time off for vacations and rest with his family. His whole life had seemed dedicated to his job and providing for the people who depended on him.  He was just reaching an age where retirement was within sight when he received a cancer diagnosis and died a few months later.

Minnie had gotten pretty upset over his death ranting to anyone who would listen as in why would he die just as he was getting ready to “live” or at least what she thought of as living. Here was a man who had never taken time for hobbies or fun and now he was gone. What was the point of it all, she’d thought to herself  feeling more anger that she should have at the early death of someone she had felt she’d barely known?

It was a dream she’d had four days after his death and a subsequent conversation with her aunt that made her decide that perhaps she should pay attention to more of the things she had jokingly referred to a messages from the universe, but had really always thought one might argue as much for the coincidence of things as one could the possibility of a psychic connection.

In her dream, she was with her uncle walking and talking with him on a cattle ranch in Montana or Wyoming. He was wearing a sheepskin jacket as if it were very cold and while she had not been wearing a coat, she not felt cold at all. There was a very clear awareness in the dream that he was dead, but he seemed happier and more at home than he had ever been when living and when she woke she thought it odd that she saw him out west on a ranch when he’d had spent his life primally in the Southeast, in office buildings, working with people and numbers. Even though her dream had made little sense, Minnie had felt a bit more peaceful about his passing and got back to the business of her own life with no more thoughts about the dream or her uncle until a few weeks later when her aunt came to town to buy a marker for his grave.

It was very clear to Minnie that her aunt was still in deep mourning when she arrived and so she had avoided too much talk about her uncle until they were setting the table for dinner. It was then she had decided tell her aunt about the dream that had made her feel better in hopes that it might possibly ease some sadness in the room. She had hesitated at first thinking that her aunt might be offended because of her religious views, but the dream had given Minnie comfort and she thought it might do the same for her aunt.

As Minnie told her aunt the dream, her aunt stopped putting silverware on either side of the dinner plate in front of her and looked up at Minnie and said, ” Did you know he read every Louis L’ Amour novel ever written? ”  These were shocking words to Minnie that carried a huge meaning. For one, she had no idea that her uncle had read anything for pleasure and two, she would never have expected it to have been a series of books based on a western cowboy theme. Minnie had thought then that perhaps she had visited briefly with her uncle in his version of heaven and that it had been his way of saying, ” I’m all right…let go.”

Given experiences like that she thought how could she not believe now when she got one of her feelings or had a dream that seemed to carry a message with it. Minnie knew without a doubt that she had dreamed of her husband on her  eve of turning 47 four months before they had met and she had told him of her dream within eight weeks of meeting. News like that might have scared off another man especially one who didn’t believe in the unexplainable or the need for marriage at his age, but he had stayed constant and within a short time, they were married and living a life that fit together so easily you might never have known they hadn’t been together for years.

Minnie thought about this as she snapped a photograph to take back to show him. She’d seen this cat many times, but when she had asked the man who lived there about the cat when she saw him at the pub, he had acted a bit uncomfortable and had said in a loud voice that, ” He didn’t have a bloody cat! ”  Minnie knew that this picture would prove what she’d been saying about seeing it in the same window of the old house at the edge of the village green. With parts of the Mansion House as it was called dating back to the fifteenth century, Minnie was sure it had its share of ghosts, but this cat was real and she was going to prove it.

While she didn’t visit the pub as often as some who showed up every evening for a bit of drink and news of the day, she made sure she was waiting when the man who had argued that he had no cat came through the door for his evening pint. She was so excited by her evidence that he had barely stepped up to the bar and was still waiting for Roger the barman to fill his first glass when she shoved the camera with the image above under his nose with a loud, ” Look! “

He took the camera from her looking at it long enough for the cat’s image to register with his brain and dropped the camera onto the bar like it was too hot to hold. Backing away from the pint that was now before him, he headed for the door with everyone watching as he did something he never done before by leaving the pub without having had a drink. Minnie stared after him confused and mildly irritated that she had not had a chance to hear him admit that he did have a “bloody cat” after all. She turned back to see that Roger had picked up the camera from his spot behind the bar and after taking a long look began to tell a story about the cat in the window. Roger’s family had lived in this area for so many generations that he was the man to go to for any questions she’d  had about local places and folklore. Usually he answered her queries with great patience and this time was no exception, but as he began, she could see that even he had been a bit shaken by the image she had captured earlier.

This cat he began, is believed to have belonged to Obadiah Reynolds who had the Mansion House remodeled in 1627. There’s a stone that commemorates the completion of the building work that was erected in 1636, but the story of his cat Mephisto begins after the work had been underway for a year or so around the time Mephisto first showed up at the door in 1628. Pulling up a stool, I took a seat at the bar and picked up the pint that had been left untouched. From the look on Roger’s face, I felt sure this was going to be a good and listened closely as he began…Mephisto was a gray haired feline with eyes so green they looked yellow to anyone who stared at them long enough to notice that they never blinked. He came to the village on a windy day in late October when the rain couldn’t decide to stay or go and while everyone around him was wet to the bone with the early winter rain, Mephisto arrived at the doorstep perfectly and unmistakably dry….


I want to thank everyone who has been involved in TMAST over the last thirteen weeks. It has been a lot of fun for me and a great learning experience. I’m going to be taking a break from TMAST though until after the new year. With a trip back to Atlanta in two weeks, I have a great deal to complete before I leave and need to focus on that for a while. I’ll be stateside with family for three weeks and I know participating in TMAST will not be possible for me then either so in the interest of balance…I’ll be putting it on the shelf for a while. I will still be blogging so keep an eye out for me and I will consider beginning TMAST again in January.

For now, I want to thank Judy Harper who has been writing a story a week for as long as I have. Her story for this week can be found here.

I also want to thank Gaelikaa for her contributions to TMAST and her story for this week can be found here.

Lastly, I want to thank Kerstin Martin over at Gipsylife who shared some of her dreams yesterday which I think may have had a subconscious effect on the direction of my story today. Pop over to see her post…you’ll be glad you did.

Just in case anyone is wondering about the dream Minnie had about her uncle as well the one she had about the man who became her husband…those really happened just as they’re written…except for the Minnie in my story was really me.

As for Mephisto…well, there really was a cat in the window.

You Say – We Say

England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

~ George Bernard Shaw

I’m sure everyone has heard the expression, ” You say to-may-to, we say ta-mah-to.” Here in the UK, it is still almost a daily event for me to have a bit of word wrangling with John over how different words may be pronounced. It’s interesting how we can be referring to the same thing, but saying it in different ways leaving room for confusion at times.

We just work it out generally, but there are times when it’s too funny not to share. One example that still makes me smile was when John and I were watching his granddaughter, Jersey Girl (JG) while her parents were away for a few days in Spain. Right before they were expected home from their trip, I called out to JG from the kitchen and asked her to please pick up the living room as her parents would be home soon. What I heard back was, “Pardon?” a word that had become a frequent refrain over the previous days whenever she was having trouble with my accent, pronunciation or phrase usage. A moment passed and then I heard her say, ” Do you want me to tidy up my toys? ” and I was reminded once again of all the ways we may speak the same language, but say things that have very different meanings.

Another example occurred when John came to see me in America. We went to Home Depot, a DIY store in midtown Atlanta because we were working on a few home repair projects while he was in town. The midtown Home Depot has a large customer base in the gay community and is generally pretty busy with lots of people around to help you if you need assistance. After searching on our own for what we needed, I began to look around for a salesperson to help us. Having absolutely no success with this I muttered something along the lines of…” not being able to find someone when you need them, ” to which John said in frustrated voice,” That’s because they’re all outside having a fag! ” My immediate response besides my eyebrows arching to the ceiling was to say very quickly, ” Shhh, you cannot say that here!” Of course, he meant that all the sales people were outside having a cigarette, but still….

Another adjustment was one that I had to work out over the phone during the early stages of our initially long distance relationship when John spoke about his granddaughter pulling faces.  I remember thinking, pulling faces… and visualizing what this might look like. It took a bit more conversation to discern that he meant making faces as in silly, funny ones. JG is a champion face puller having done so since before she could speak so that now if you even point a camera in her direction you may get a series of photographs that look like the ones below.

These were taken from a distance in low light and then enlarged so the quality is not the best, but you’ll get a good sense of what I’m talking about when you see them. Also, you should know that I had no idea that she was creating a different look for each shot as my completely unaware expression indicates.






The last two faces are my favorite funny ones that she “pulls.”  In case you’re wondering how JG learned to make such interesting looks for photographs, the one below is her mother practicing for the day when she’d need to teach her own daughter how to get a laugh with just a look.