Coming to Grips with SEO and Well-Meant Advice

Over the past few weeks, I’ve really been struggling with writing for my blog.

The combination of the everlasting winter and the everlasting knee replacement rehab certainly contributes to my Debby-downerism, but it’s more than that.

On one hand, all the SEO tips and blogging experts tell me that I need to focus on one area and write compelling content about that area.

On the other hand, the reason I started blogging was to write about what was on my mind and to share information and visuals that I thought people might be interested to see. Continue reading

Top Posts of 2013

As a writer and photographer, as well as being a retired teacher, it has been instilled in me that reflection is important to the artistic process and to personal growth.  With this in mind, I watch my stats carefully, although not religiously, and I try not to be driven by what others think. It’s always good at the end of the year to examine what worked and what didn’t in all parts of one’s life — and especially in what one puts out into the universe.

So here goes — my top posts of 2013 and my opinions as to why they got as much traffic as they did. Click into the red title to see the full post.  Continue reading

Christmas Is Coming and I’m Not Going to Let My Goose Get Cooked

Last night I went to a merchandise party at a friend’s house. It was good to get out of my rehab clothes, put on a pair of skinny-ish jeans and visit with my friends. While I was only able to have about an ounce of wine, it was my first glass since before the surgery, and I enjoyed that as well. I finished up the evening with Pellegrino and lime — yes, I was a very good girl! My friend had a lot of funny cocktail napkins, but I just had to take a photo of this one, with proof of my non-drinking in the photo, of course.

GotMyReservations Cocktail Napkin Thinking about this napkin made me realize that for the first time in many years, I am going to have what I’ve always dreamed of — a house full of family and friends around my table for Christmas.

And we may need alcohol to get through it all.

When my daughter asked me if we could have British Christmas this year, it was shortly before my surgery and I agreed happily to host the party. British Christmas is a tradition that we have celebrated several years with friends who are originally from England, and some of the group currently live in England. When they come over for the holidays, they bring puddings and sauces and traditional English Christmas specialties. Being the Anglophile that I am, I have reveled in this opportunity to do Christmas English-style. We watch the Queen’s Christmas message on BBC and we open the crackers and wear silly paper crowns for the meal. It’s just heavenly for the little girl who grew up reading every book about English royalty that I could find in the library.  My caveat for doing the hosting this year was that the “kids” would have to chip in and do a lot of the work as both my English friend and I (the moms) will be post orthopedic rehab and not at our full hostessing potential.

Do I have it in me to let go and let someone else do Christmas in my house?

It turns out that my daughter’s British boyfriend is quite the chef – I already knew he was a foodie — and has opinions as to what should be served at this meal. And from there comes the rub. There’s the two young men from England who want to cook, and there’s the friend who will choose the wine. There’s the list of side dishes that are traditionally English and not what my family traditions dictate. I already ordered nuts and bridge mix from the church fundraiser, cheesecakes from the marching band fundraiser and there’s the annual gift of a bûche de Noël from another special friend. What is there for me to do?

Got My Reservations - Yule LogAnd that’s the silliest question ever, isn’t it?

My grown-up children are taking charge of the meal and putting most of it on the table. For once, I can be the sage on the side and sit with my knee propped up as needed. They can provide me with a list and we’ll do the shopping. I can plan a drop-dead tablescape and they can put it on the table for me. It’s every mother’s dream to see her children grow up and become adults who can do holidays themselves.

My son and his new bride will arrive the day AFTER Christmas, and of course, we will do it all again with a small open house to welcome them back to Chicago. I will need help with that as well. Another fun meal, and another chance to create a new tablescape. I can’t wait.

But I’m still a little wistful. I remember when my mom stopped having Thanksmas (our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one holiday), and we started having the party at my brother’s house. My mom seemed very old and fragile, but I doubt that she was even as old as I am now. I feel as though I’ve never had the chance to celebrate Christmas in my house as we have often traveled out west or to Ohio to have Christmas with family. My table here in Chicago has seen very few Christmas feasts — metaphorically, of course, as my table is brand new.

 I’m finally having Christmas at our house but I won’t be in control.

That’s even sillier than the last statement. Control is an illusion. Is one ever “in control” of anything?

So here’s my plan for the next four weeks. I’m going to decorate the heck out of this house, with the help of Music Man who seems to be eager to participate this year. I’m going to do a little redecorating and freshening up in the guest rooms — sleeping in one’s guest room post-surgery is a good way to find out the the ceiling fan hums way too loudly. Sorry about that, all the friends and family who’ve slept there before. I’m going to make lists and lists and lists, and encourage people to choose jobs from those lists.

I’m going to step back and let them do it. I promise, here in front of the world and everyone, that I WILL NOT let Christmas cook my goose this year.


Image Credit

I can do it. With grace and patience. Because I love them.



Knee Rehab Thoughts and Recommendations for Nursing Care Providers

Being in nursing care for a week gives one a lot of time to think and plan. At least it does if you are like me.


Many of us in my demographic have spent a lot of time with our parents in nursing care facilities, but when one is forced to be in nursing care in our not-yet-old years, the situation changes. We are NOT our parents; we are avid foodies and technology users. We know what a sheet with a high thread count feels like. We research everything on Mr. Internet and can find out when we are being strung a line of BS. So get with it, health care!

  1. It’s important to know one’s target market and audience. Management people at nursing care facilities need to be more careful about one-size-fits-all care. Before you start in on your canned questionnaire, learn something about me. Find out how I used to spend my days before I was in your facility. Then target your questions appropriately.  I was visited by a social worker or volunteer every day and asked questions such as, “Do you play games such as bingo and bunko?” and ” What do you do in your free time?” When I answered that I like to cook in my free time, the response was, “No, in your FREE time!”, as if cooking was a chore rather than a delight. Apparently reading and watching television were the “right” answers; I finally sussed that out. And I don’t even know what bunko is! Social workers surely have resources that give them insights into the activities of certain age groups in geographical areas and these need to be incorporated into screening and data gathering products.
  2. Update decorating and menus based on current trends. Anyone who has watched Hotel Impossible knows that patterned institutional bed covers are suspect. If you haven’t personally watched your bedding being changed, you have absolutely no idea where it’s been. White is always right and easily washable. Although the meals in the rehab center weren’t bad, they were old school comfort food. Nothing says get well like a mushy stalk of asparagus and a slab of Boston creme pie.
  3. Everyone deserves privacy and respectful treatment. Day after day and night after night, in both the hospital and the rehab center, staff members left doors wide open, displaying patients’ personal belongings and even worse, patients’ bodies. The night staff members stood outside in the hall holding conversations at full voice despite the fact that the patients are supposed to be in bed, asleep. We are not all hard-of-hearing, and it is not appropriate for me to hear about my neighbor’s problem with impacted bowels. And I should have access to a locked compartment  in my hospital room in case I want to secure some of my personal belongings.
  4. We are a generation of technology-users, and nursing care facilities should make it easy for the patients and their guests to plug in and connect with the outside world. My hospital room did not have enough electrical outlets to plug in my CPAP sleep apnea machine, and we had to bring an extension cord from home so that I could use my CPAP and charge my phone at the same time. The battery on my IV pole ran down twice in one night and its very loud alarm went off, practically scaring me to death. No wonder I had an irregularity in my heart rate that first night.
  5. In the age of word-processing, any document that I am asked to sign should be tailored to my situation. The nursing facility has all of my personal information and my insurance info before I even am checked in. There just isn’t any comprehensible reason that a pre-Medicare-aged person is asked to sign a document allowing the Social Security Administration access to my medical records. It would save wear and tear on the poor schmucks who have to come around and get my signature on insurance assignments; I pity the young man who encountered both my neighbor Marty and me on the same afternoon. Neither of us would sign the majority of the items in his fourteen page document as they didn’t apply to us.


That being said, there are hundreds of nursing care employees who are doing a wonderful job in a difficult and draining environment. Most of my nurses were pleasant no matter what, and my physical therapists worked long hours in uncomfortable work spaces. I believe that these men and women really cared about me and the other patients entrusted to their care and did their best even though there were problems everywhere. To my wonderful therapist Carlito and all the other workers, I say thank you, thank you, thank you.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...