photo: dreamtime

Today began like any other. I had errands to do and stopped by a local pack and ship store to drop off an Amazon return. I simply had to drop off the box, a task that normally takes two minutes. Instead, I found myself in line at an appropriate social distance from an elderly woman for a time a little longer than those two minutes I expected. She looked uncomfortable and started making subtle noises to confirm my suspicion. I walked a little closer toward her and asked if she was okay. She waved her hand, a gesture indicating that she likely wanted me to stay away because of covid, and said she was okay. She told me she had some difficulty standing, so I pointed to a few counters against which she could stand and assured her I would hold her place next in line. I watched her shrink into the counter, as though it was holding her up right before she was called as next in line by the clerk.

I overheard her tell the clerk that she wasn’t well and asked softly for some help. Evidently she was mailing a medical CD to a surgeon in Tampa via overnight mail. She looked like she was shrinking into the counter again when I heard her say that she had cancer, and the cancer was pressing against her nerves. She had tears in her eyes when she said to the clerk it was difficult to have cancer during the pandemic, as her family could not come to see her right now accordingly. I looked at another woman standing in line next to me, and she looked so sad while the story unfolded. She motioned to me that she wondered if the woman was able to drive. I said “Excuse me” to the sick woman and asked if she needed me to call her an UBER to get home or if she needed me to get her some water next door at Walgreens. She said she could easily drive after she sat down, and it was just standing that was difficult before she thanked me. At that moment, the woman at the very end of the line, which was growing by the minute, offered to pay for the sick woman’s postage. The sick woman graciously declined, thanked her and said “God is in this room right now; you have all been so kind.” I looked at each of the people in line who likely were in a rush but found deep within themselves a sense of compassion and empathy that I had not seen in the world in a while. Most folks go about their day, doing the best they can during the pandemic, trying to manage. Yet this woman was facing the greatest fight of her life most likely and facing it alone.

Now I am not sure what you believe, whether you believe in a higher power or not, but the woman next to me offered to pray for the sick woman and so did the people next to her and so on. Some may debate whether or not God was in that room at that moment, but there WAS something very powerful and humbling unfolding before my very eyes this afternoon. There was a sense of community and connectedness that I experienced all within ten minutes or so unfolding before my very eyes. Most of us struggle to find our keys from time to time or to find time in which to accomplish the tasks we set out to do on any given day, and this woman’s plight pales many of our inconveniences or troubles by comparison.

“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” – Nelson Mandela

Yes, there WAS something in that room, regardless of your religious beliefs, and that was HOPE and compassion.

Life is good; find the hope in your lives today. Carpe diem, friends…..

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu


I have completed my furniture refinishing projects around the house, have cleaned out some cabinets and closets (but not THE remaining closet), cooked lots of food, made ice cream three times in the last week, gone for multiple walks, laughed so much that my belly hurt, played lots of board games and lastly decided I need a new hobby. I was a Master Gardener, having completed the Master Gardener Program in the Northeastern United States when I lived there, but never really got into gardening here in Florida. It seems so odd to me that the shrubbery surrounding my home are actually HOUSEPLANTS in New England. I also have been petrified of snakes here, living near a pond. However, I really miss the day to day joy of watching something grow before my eyes, noticing subtle changes unfolding from day to day. Sure, I have pots of plants outside with flowers and vegetables growing, and I also have an Aerogarden in my home, but I need something new to look forward to in the plant department while I am cooped up at home.

The French have a saying, “vouloir c’est pouvoir”. Where there is a will, there is a way, loosely translated. This is a saying imbedded within my soul. While many stores and garden centers are closed here near me while I am continuing to self-isolate, I found a local garden center that does curbside delivery. Just like the restaurants. I can order on-line, pay on-line, and pick up my plant on a table set up in front of the garden center, having no contact with anyone if I plan my departure from the car perfectly. As long as we have HOUSEPLANTS growing in the yard, I might as well add another HOUSEPLANT to the trees.

I have long admired orchids growing in trees in tropical areas while on vacation, so I wondered if my gardening zone (9b) could tolerate orchids attached to trees. I noticed that someone dear to my heart has an orchid growing in her front yard and didn’t realize it until recently. She is really my inspiration for my new hobby. I began to think…….. I have a beautiful Southern Magnolia tree in the back yard, near the pool, and decided a splash of some bright pink might be a bit of whimsical fun poking out from the leaves of the tree. I did some research and found out that dendrobium orchids and phalaenopsis orchids do well attached to trees, without pots, in my area. I selected a variety of dendrobium orchid called “Oshin Pink”, which is a pink and while orchid.

“You are never too old to set a goal or dream a dream.”

-C.S. Lewis

First I leaned the orchid against the tree to get an idea of the size and scale of both.

Then, I took the orchid out of the four inch pot, leaving some dirt mixed in with the roots. Some of the sources I consulted said to use plastic plant ties to attach the plant to the tree, and others said to use biodegradable cotton string or twine, but I simply used what I had in the garage (thin nylon rope). I wrapped the rope around the plant, starting first at the roots, then attached part of the stem to the tree as well. It took all of five minutes to do this. Some sources said you can add in some coconut fiber or bark to the roots to hold in the moisture, yet other sources said that might encourage rot and disease, so I opted not to use any. I read that it is important to spray the orchid with water daily for a week, so we’ll see how it works out. This side of the tree is a eastern/southeastern exposure, which can be pretty hot in the summer. I started out with one orchid first to see if it is in the proper placement, but the garden center told me being in the shade of the Southern Magnolia tree would provide the relief from the hot sun that the orchid needs, regardless of which side of the tree I plant the orchid.

I was so excited when I finished my new project for my new hobby. Adding a bit of excitement to any day is always a good thing in my opinion. I love having something for which to look forward. As Mark Twain said, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where all the fruit is.” In my case, that’s where all the flowers will be. Always feels good to me to try something new, and I try to see something I love, touch something I love, smell something I love, hear something I love, do something I love, or eat something I love each day. In this tree, I can see something I love, hear something I love, and I’ve already done something I love within five minutes. It doesn’t get any better than that!

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

-Lady Bird Johnson

Life is good; start a new hobby or find something that adds excitement, joy, and change into your daily routine to give yourself something beautiful to look forward to while you self-isolate.

Carpe diem, friends……………


Spring here in Florida is one of my favorite times of year. The evenings are still cool, and it is a perfect time to take a stroll in the neighborhood shortly after it dusk. Somehow the fragrances in the neighborhood are more heightened in the twilight. Walking around the neighborhood, I encounter a scent somehow reminiscent of lemons. It is a scent that always stops me in my tracks for a moment so that I may pause to enjoy the magical fragrance before continuing my walk. This is the magical and unmistakable scent of the Southern Magnolia, which usually blooms from April to June. I am fortunate enough to have one of these beautiful trees which permeates my own backyard with such a sweet-smelling scent while I relax by the pool.

Not only is the scent of the Southern Magnolia magical, but the blooms, which can be eight to ten inches across are equally impressive. The elliptical foliage is dark and evergreen with smooth edges and a rust-colored underside. The tree grows strong and tall and can be approximately eighty feet tall at maturity. The girth of the Magnolia tree is equally impressive, as it can grow to be forty feet in diameter. These trees can live an average of eighty to one-hundred and twenty years.

“I’ve always loved Magnolia trees and their blooms. There is something so beautiful about a Magnolia blossom. It demands attention, and you can’t help but love those big, creamy, petals and that fragrant smell.”

-Chip Gaines, star of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”

Former President Barak Obama presented a Magnolia tree propagated from a Magnolia on the grounds of the White House to South Korea to remember and honor those that lost their lives in a ferry accident there, saying the Magnolia tree “represents beauty, and, with every spring, renewal.” Former President Obama also gave a Magnolia tree to Israel as a symbol of strength, perseverance, and dignity. This Magnolia tree was grown from a seedling from the tree President Andrew Jackson planted at the White House about one-hundred and eighty years ago as a memorial to his deceased wife. Former First Lady Michelle Obama also gave two Magnolia seedlings to Cuba as a gesture of reciprocation to Cuba for sharing the beauty of their culture with the United States.

While I walk around my neighborhood, I am reminded of a dream that Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology Carl Jung had in which he described a certain place:

 “….In the center was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and were at the same time the source of light.”

-“Memories, Dreams and Reflections” by Carl Jung

The magnolia is such an important plant that some people use magnolia bark supplement to help reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Others claim the supplements are good antioxidants in the body and brain, and it lowers inflammation and oxidative stress in the body and boosts immunity. Some people chew gum or use toothpaste with magnolia in it to help fight gingivitis and bleeding gums.

I’m not sure about the efficacy or safety of Magnolia supplements, but I do know the Southern Magnolia is a magical plant to stumble upon when walking in the cool Florida spring evenings. It serves as a symbol of light, renewal, strength, and perseverance to me when I think of our current pandemic situation. The magic and beauty of the Magnolia will prevail.

“Life is simply a magic of mayhem and magnolias, so embrace this gentle riot and gather flowers along the way. “

-Kat Savage

Life is good. Look to the beauty of the Magnolia tree this spring and the lessons we can learn from it. Don’t forget to “gather flowers along the way” in your journey today and every day through life. While every day may not be beautiful during this pandemic, there is beauty and magic moments in every day.

Carpe diem, friends………..


Today I needed to shake things up and went for a ride. A ride outside my house. A ride anywhere. Staying inside is finally getting old. Time to get back out into the world again soon.

While riding along, I spotted this beautiful wildflower growing along the side of the road.  It always amazes me when I find a patch of flowers growing, despite our drought this time of year here in Florida.  I especially like to find and photograph one little sprout of life among inhospitable rocky substrates.  Reminds me of the tenacity of the human spirit. Reminds me that we will prevail against all odds in any given situation that is challenging for us, including this pandemic.

Another single bloom in an inhospitable subtrate

On the way home after seeing this little reminder of hope, I saw this sign on the side of the road, too:

Makes me think of the Bob Marley song:

“Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying’, (this is my message to you)…

Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright…”

“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and the Wailers

photo: Dreamstime

Signs of hope are all around if we look for them. See if you can see any signs of hope where you live. Life is good; don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing IS going to be alright. Shake it off.

Live fully. Carpe diem, friends………….

“I’ll never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see, that’s what they don’t see
I’m dancing on my own, I’ll make the moves up as I go,

And that’s what they don’t know, that’s what they don’t know…..

Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving…….
It’s like I got this music in my mind saying it’s gonna be alright……

Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off…”

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift


It has been said that a good practice is to keep in mind the things for which one is thankful. To that end, I start each day whenever I think about it with an “attitude of gratitude”. Some days I forget, but most days I start the day thinking of all the wonderful things in my life for which I am thankful. I task myself to think of ten, just ten. Most times, I find myself listing many more than ten in my mind or even on a piece of paper some days.

Amidst the uncertainty that the novel coronavirus has brought to our lives individually as well as within our society, it helps to think about what is going RIGHT in our lives right now. Stop, look, and listen to all that is good in your life at this very moment. The distraction this exercise brings you might help you seize the day.

“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.”

Mary Davis

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”

Amy Collette

Life is good. Rest for a moment and be thankful. Develop an attitude of gratitude today if you don’t already have one. It helps us to see that that glass really IS half full.

Carpe diem, friends……….

ID 176822696 © Karen Koch | Dreamstime.com


Portrait of Anne Frank in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands

After self-isolating for about a month now here in Florida, I am looking forward to getting back into society at some point soon. Very soon. While I can always keep busy with a project or hobby inside the house, I am really looking forward to getting back together with my friends and getting back to making connections with other people day to day. On this day of angst from feeling cut off from the rest of society, I can’t help but thing of a remarkable young lady who was thirteen years old and the self-isolation she went through.

I’m thinking about the legendary Anne Frank, who was a Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family and a few friends in 1942 because of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. For two years, she and her family hid in the upper floor of her house and couldn’t even flush a toilet for fear of being heard by the workers in the floors below. For two years, she and her family could not speak a word during the day time and hid in their small sequestered area of the house without any daylight, as they drew the curtains shut in the day and the night.

Computer image of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

The house on the left side of the diagram above shows the Frank’s main house and Mr. Frank’s business. Directly above the white triangle roof in the middle of the diagram between the two houses you will see the room which contains the bookcase that was built to cover the doorway into the “secret” annex part of the house where the Franks and their friends lived for two years. Their secret quarters appears in the building on the right side of the diagram as the upper three floors and attic. Four hundred and fifty square feet is the area of the portion of the annex in which they hid for two years, about one seventh the size of my home. Four hundred and fifty square feet is the area in which eight people self-isolated for TWO years. Makes the month that we have been self-isolating and the space we have to do it in seem pale by comparison.

Exterior of the Anne Frank House

Anne Frank was the age of my daughter, “Teen Traveler”, when we visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last year. Any given thirteen year old in America today is concerned with their phones and friends, yet Anne Frank was completely cut off from her friends in 1942. Her father fabricated a story about how the family went away to explain their absence from the community , and poor Anne did not even have time to say good bye to her dear friends.

Exterior of the Anne Frank House and Museum, courtesy of Dreamstime.com

While in self-isolation Anne kept a positive mental attitude, which is evidenced time and time again in her diary, which was later published by her father.

Excerpts from Anne’s Diary

Visiting Anne Frank’s house and museum was a highlight of our trip to Amsterdam last year. It was such a humbling and sober experience, and visitors actually whispered when they toured the rooms in which Anne, her family, and her friends lived for two years in Nazi occupied Amstersdam. Seeing the peeling wallpaper in those rooms and the pictures of celebrities that Anne pinned on her wall was a reminder that life stood still there, as it does for us here, for a period of time. Although now temporarily closed because of the Covid pandemic, the Anne Frank House and Museum is normally open daily from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, depending on the day and the season. From November until April, the museum closes earlier, normally at 7:00 PM except for Saturdays. I highly recommend the introductory program, which lasts thirty minutes, before the tour of the house and museum. This introductory program helps create a timeline and reviews significant historical events happening at the time of Anne Frank’s hideout. This is especially helpful for children who may have no frame of reference. Photographs are not permitted inside the house out of respect, and visitors who have disability concerns about climbing stairs might have difficulty visiting here. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are in limited supply daily. I HIGHLY recommend getting tickets ahead of time on-line at the Anne Frank site in order to avoid long lines and the possibility of not getting tickets on any given day. At the time of this writing, entrance fees are 10,50 Euros for adults, 5,50 Euros for children aged ten to seventeen, and 0.50 Euros for children up to age nine. The introductory program is an add-on fee.

I think of Anne today as I look out my window, as there was a small window in the attic in Anne’s secret annex that she looked out daily to see a chestnut tree which became symbolic of hope. I think of Anne when I hear sounds outside my house today, as she heard the bells of a local church in the courtyard from the same window in the attic. She wrote,

“From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.”

Anne Frank

The chestnut tree outside of Anne’s attic window, which became diseased, lived until 2010 when a strong wind blew it over. In the years before the tree died, workers from the Anne Frank House and Museum collected chestnuts from the tree in hopes that they would germinate so that the tree would live on in other locations, spreading the message of hope from Anne Frank. Several saplings have grown from these chestnuts and have been planted around the world, including one that was planted at  Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocost memorial in Jerusalem.

Anne Frank continues to be a source of inspiration for many people, including myself. I think about her when I look out my window during self-isolation from time to time. I know that keeping positive thoughts in my mind when I look up to the sky like Anne did will help make the journey during this pandemic and self-isolation a little easier in some way .

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” -Anne Frank

“As long as you can look fearlessly into the sky , you’ll know that you’re pure within and will find happiness once more.” -Anne Frank

Life is good. Find happiness and continue thinking positively. Carpe diem, friends…….

To take a virtual tour of the Anne Frank house secret annex, click on the link below:



Inuksuk with Aurora Borealis ID 131360289 © Cherylramalho | Dreamstime.com

Throughout the Arctic, in Northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, there are many stone cairns dotted along the natural landscape called Inukshuk (or Inuksuk). For the Inuit people of the Arctic, these stone cairns served many purposes in ancient times. They were, in effect, some of the earliest “road signs,” alerting travelers which way to find food, a reference for travel routes, a message that someone had been there, a change in direction, where to find hunting areas, etc.

Inuksuk drawing ID 140415034 © Me7027 | Dreamstime.com

One type of Inukshuk, the Inunnguaq, is a human figure-shaped cairn of rocks. There are approximately one hundred of these human-shaped cairns over two thousand years old and are still standing at the Inuksuk National Historic Site on Fox Peninsula ( Baffin Island) in Canada. Some of these figures are six to seven feet tall, a formidable sight.

While these figures may have originally been a reference for travel routes, they remind us today of many things. These figures were carefully crafted of numerous rocks delicately balanced one on top of each other. Each rock supports and is supported by the rock above it and below it, and this balance reminds us of the need for balance in our own lives at this very moment, as we navigate through the new waters of this Covid pandemic. Each piece of the Inuskshuk is as important as the piece above and below it. These cairns have also been associated with hope and friendship as well.

The Inunnguaq reminds us today that we will find out way through this pandemic, no matter how long it takes us. The Inunnguaq also reminds us of the need for team work and the importance of community in this journey as well. May you never lose your path and may you always find your way home.

Life is good; carpe diem friends………


“Some hope for the future
Some wait for the call
To say that the days ahead
Will be the best of all…..

……Hope shines brightest in the dark
When nothing’s ever seen
Lighting undiscovered places
No-ones ever been…..

…..Hope for the Future”

-Paul McCartney, “Hope For The Future”