Thankful and grateful…

No slices of fiction or poetry today, just stark reality.  A year ago today, I was trying to do too much too fast and I took an epic tumble on the hardwood floor at my mother’s house.  More concerned about how hard I’d hit my head, I ignored the pain in my elbow.  I returned to my house and told Jim about my fall and assured him I was okay.m after all, we had to go to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for my mom.  Then we were hosting my neighbor for cheese fondue.  I delivered the groceries and returned home.

At that point my head felt fine but my elbow was beginning to hurt.  Jim talked me into lying down while he prepped the fondue for me.  Long story short, we had a successful cheese fondue despite my having to use my opposite hand to eat.  After dinner I told Jim it was time to head to the ER.  Splinted and medicated, we returned about 11 that night.  I was so fortunate to have him there for a few more days to help me out.  

In fact, my neighbor Rob, a retired nurse, came and showed me how to wrap the ace bandage around my splint.  I’d broken my left elbow which for most people wouldn’t be a big issue.  I’m left-handed.  Honestly it was inconvenient but not as awful as my broken ankle or broken leg.  Rob, and his husband Bill, would have me for dinner a few times so I wouldn’t have to cook.

Never did I think it would be a prelude to a very challenging time.  Late afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving, I received the phone call that my mother was lying on the ground near her back steps.  Somehow she had fallen.  I arrived within ten minutes, just after EMS.  To see her bloodied and in tremendous pain out there in the cold was a shock I still feel.  She had broken her femur in four places.  I spent Thanksgiving at the hospital while she had surgery.  Again, Jim came to my rescue.  I arrived home around 5 that evening.  Jim had arrived from having Thanksgiving dinner at his son’s house.  His son, Greg, sent along a complete dinner for me along with a piece of pie.  Again, so much to be grateful for.

The ensuing months were a challenge.  My mother went to a facility for rehabilitation.  The big catch was that she could not bear weight on that leg for several weeks.  She could only toe touch.  The situation tested our patience.  I won’t even get into the issues we had with the facility.  With the exception of two days, I was there each day for two months.  Again, Jim was a huge help and Greg sent along some Christmas dinner.

Finally, at the beginning of February, my mother was able to move to a facility for respite care.  We knew she couldn’t go home because she lived in a two-story house with only a half bath on the ground floor.  It also became clear that she might not ever go back to her home of over fifty years.  But she would only agree to move to a condo like mine.  The model I have is the most popular, seldom comes up for sale, and is snapped up in a nano-second.  God was truly on my side because my neighbors Bill and Rob gave my name to a woman whom they met while out walking in the neighborhood.  She was in town to relocate her mom…who lived in a condo model like mine.  Long story short, we acquired the condo knowing we had to make some improvements in addition to then selling her house.

My mother was doing well in respite care.  I picked her up to have Easter dinner at my house along with Jim.  We had an early afternoon dinner and it was very good.  But my mother and I both realized that Jim was not himself.  He was very short of breath and just didn’t act right.  After I returned my mom to her facility, I went home to find Jim really struggling to get his breath.  I told him I was taking him to the hospital.  He doesn’t live in this area, just comes up to visit me.  But we have some wonderful hospitals here so I was confident.

Turns out Jim was in bad shape cardiologically speaking.  He’d had a heart attack and by the next day had a catheterization and a pump inserted into his heart to help it beat.  Within five days he had quintuple bypass surgery.  I’m thankful that his children were also a big part of that journey.  And one of my close friends was in town the day of his surgery and she spent the day with me at the hospital.  I will never forget that.

Jim negotiated the surgery and recovery well.  We were all stunned that he would be discharged home and did not qualify for a rehab facility.  I was in the midst of wrapping up renovations and repairs on the new condo and getting my mother’s house ready to list.  Thankfully Jim was able to stay at his son’s home for several weeks while he recovered from his surgery.

While he was recovering I spent most of June readying the condo and putting the house on the market.  It sold quickly and by the end of the month, my mother was in her new condo.  Jim was back at home but ended up in the hospital again close to where he lives, 90 miles south of here.  This time his daughter was able to take him in while he recovered.  My summer flew by helping my mother get settled.  She is able to get around well with a walker.  At this point she is still gaining strength and mobility and enjoying her new home.  It is literally around the corner from mine so I’m able to pop over there easily.  Jim is continuing to do well.

Though my mother and I are our only family, I am so thankful to have lots of wonderful supporters.  My neighbor Linda, and her sweet dog, Skippy, helped me negotiate many a day in this past year.  There’s a lot to be said for a kind word and a little pet therapy.

Some of my longtime friends were wonderful and kept track of me through phone calls, emails, and texts.  A few other wonderful neighbors checked on me often.  If someone had told me last October 16th what I would face in the coming year, I would have laughed hysterically.  It’s been humbling, exhausting and very emotionally draining.  I’m just glad to still be in one piece and working once again on my school district history project.  I plan for the book to be out in the spring, unless more challenges come along.  If they do, I will persist.

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How could I ever forget?

The sky was a startling blue, the air crisp.  It was the fourth day of the new school year and I remember thinking that it would be a great day to be outdoors.  But a rare and beautiful day created an exciting atmosphere and I looked forward to getting to know my five new classes of high school students.

Never did I have a thought on that idyllic day that evil would rear its gruesome head.  Evil doesn’t care about fabulous weather; evil doesn’t have empathy; evil doesn’t have a conscience.  On that glorious day, September 11, 2001, evil unleashed a barrage of attacks on the citizens of our country.  Each year we are told never to forget.  How could I?

During my lifetime I’ve experienced many historical events.  I received the polio vaccine on a sugar cube in kindergarten.  I witnessed numerous lift offs and splashdowns of space flights.  I watched reports of the kill counts during the Vietnam War.  There were assassinations:  JFK, MLK, RFK, Anwar Sadat, John Lennon.  The Challenger exploded.  We endured the launch of the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War.  I’ve never forgotten those things.  How could I?

September 11, 2001, was fast becoming a surreal day in my mundane existence.  After monitoring the television throughout second period, classes changed and another teacher occupied the classroom for the next period.  I wandered up and down the main hallway looking for a classroom with a tv on.  I found one.  The teacher was glued to the events unfolding, most of the students were chatting amongst themselves.  I was struck how they did not display the agitation or sense of urgency the teacher and I possessed.  These events were unprecedented.  The attacks in NYC felt personal.  NYC is 150 miles to the south of where I live.  Later in the day I learned one of the planes turned over our city to follow the Hudson River south to NYC.  I’ve never forgotten.  How could I?

It was hard to know what to do.  There is no protocol in place for what to do in the classroom when terrorists attack the country.  We watched more than our fair share of news coverage.  I let students talk about what was going on and ask questions.  I didn’t stop to really think about the day’s events until the students were dismissed.  After-school activities were cancelled, sports events postponed.  It seemed best for everyone to be able to go home to be with loved ones.  I needed some time to process what had happened.  I can’t forget.  How could I?

At home, I continued to watch the news coverage.  A photo appeared on the screen.  Five burly men struggled to carry an individual in a chair.  They were dusty, dirty, and sweaty, but they bore their burden with reverence.  He would later be named as the first victim of 9/11 and I had known him briefly many years previous.  It was Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest and the NYFD chaplain.  I had known him casually during his few years at Siena College in the late 1970s.  Father Mychal spoke to everyone he encountered.  He would stop us on a walkway outdoors and speak with us.  He cared about all of us.  I know why his firefighters loved him.  I know he loved all of them.  His loss affected me deeply.  I’d been experiencing a distant type of grief all day long.  Seeing Father Mychal in that picture, looking like Jesus in the Pieta, pushed me over an emotional edge.  My tears began and would run off and on all that evening.  People had lost spouses, children, parents, grandparents, significant others, and all manner of loved ones.  I cannot fathom how they were feeling.  Out of respect to the victims, I will never forget.  How could I?

Posted in Grief, history, life lessons, loss, Patriotism, tragedy | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

photo-inspired poetry

Nature and beauty inspire me.  This recent photograph, used by permission of the photographer, spoke to me.  I hope you like what it said.


Night Sky Comfort


The velvet cloak wrapped me

in its embrace,

a hug like no other


Its soft, soothing presence

a still oasis

in the tempest of life


The beacon of the night

shone above

a partial orb of illumination


Its steady presence,

through shifting shapes,

held great hope


The inky comfort

began to fade

with the promise of dawn


©Beth Anderson

Photo Credit:  Pete Guard – sunrise at Mt. Rainier

sunrise mt rainier


Posted in beauty, inspiration, moon, nature, peace, poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Alone Girl in summer…

imageA slice of fiction….

Summer is a happy time for many.  It was for the Alone Girl.  The tomboy loved the outdoors and summer meant staying up late, playing outside, bicycling everywhere, swimming, tennis, reading, and, if lucky, a small vacation.  As a teenager, summer improved even more because the alone girl’s town finally built a large pool for the community.  No more waiting for mom or another parent to drive kids to a State Park or lake to swim.

Even though the alone girl was well built and pretty, she was severely hamstrung by shyness and insecurity.  She loved the occasional private tennis lessons but balked when her coach suggested she join the community team during the summer.  Ironically, she would become an instructor for many summers in that program.  Her smile in place, she nodded as the patient man told her about the program and how she would get to play with other kids her age.  As she nodded, she knew she would never go because she worried that she didn’t have the right clothes, sneakers, and she probably wasn’t good enough.

By then, the girl’s brother had taken up life guarding at a State Park pool.  It meant he was gone all day and, even better, the Park was fifteen miles away so that meant extended travel time.  More time not to have to deal with his cruel teasing.  So, on days the girl could entice a friend to go, the alone girl cycled to the town pool and worked on her tan.  She seldom went if a friend didn’t accompany her because then what would she do when she got there?  She might have to sit alone because she was too timid to approach other kids.  At any rate, once there she could also score some French fries from the concession if she had change leftover from the small admission fee.

A real summer treat was to take the bus to Burlington to visit old friends.  The alone girl never stopped to think she may have been intruding on her friend’s summer plans.  She was so mired in the ecstasy of going back, she never stopped to think that maybe her old friends weren’t keen on her visits.  Burlington meant loads of opportunities that didn’t exist for the girl at home.  First of all, it meant peace because she went by herself.  No dealing with a brother or the latent fear of him popping up.  Secondly, her old friends had things that the alone girl didn’t…mainly summer homes on the lake and access to horses.

This rare treat was wonderful.  Eager to reconnect with the old friends, the inquisitive girl peppered them with questions.  Her friends had travelled to wonderful places in Florida and elsewhere.  The friends glossed over the trips, saying they were boring.  In her mind, the alone girl couldn’t begin to understand how that could be possible.  She realized that time had marched on and she didn’t have much in common with them anymore.  Their moms didn’t work and none of them, adults included, could understand how hard it was for the girl’s mom to work two jobs and help care for an elderly parent all while raising two kids.  After a fashion, the girl felt like a poor relation and stopped going.

A bright spot in those summer visits, aside from horses and the lake, was visiting her beloved former neighbor.  He still treated her like she mattered and that she had valuable things to say.  He wanted to know what was in her future.  The alone girl told him she wanted to be a lawyer.  Did she really?  Probably not.  Just like she enjoyed being a tennis instructor but would have preferred being a life guard.  However, she would never become something her brother had been.  Telling people she wanted to be a lawyer seemed the correct thing to do.  Fact is, she didn’t know what she wanted to do.  You never say that to adults.  The girl knew that to be true.  Always present yourself to be ambitious.

As August dragged on, the girl looked forward to heading back to school.  She liked school even though her shyness kept her from joining activities other than sports.  Her core group of friends were there.  Plus she looked forward to learning things.  But this is the perspective of a fifteen year old.  Things were pretty simple on the surface but the alone girl was well acquainted with complications.  Maybe that is why school appealed to her so much.  There was a set rhythm and routine.  The girl liked a pattern.

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For the umpteenth time…

I am working at improving my eating habits.  They stink and I’m the first to admit it.  I’ve never enjoyed cooking for myself yet I’m a very capable cook.  It’s frustrating.  So while I’m not aiming to cook every night, I will try to prepare a meal a few times a week.  Tonight’s effort reflected the hot weather.  I determined to make something refreshing, healthy and edible.  I succeeded.  It looked a little funky but it was filling and tasty.  I’m not immune to trying new things.  I love carbs like rice and potatoes.  I wanted a salad-type meal but also wanted a small amount of carbs.  I ended up with some brown and red quinoa and dumped it on to the bed of lettuce.  Joining it was some sliced cucumber, sliced chicken breast, and some fat-free cottage cheese.  Normally I eschew the fat-free dairy products but the cottage cheese is good and doesn’t upset my stomach.

I found an unopened jar of salsa in the fridge, checked the expiration date, and used it as dressing for my salad.  This is a huge departure for me.  But it worked.  A little later I’m looking forward to some pieces of watermelon.

I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve tried to improve my eating habits.  I’m an over eater, sometimes a binge eater.  To me, it’s a weakness and a character flaw.  No matter how much I read about the psychology of overeating, I can’t help but blame myself.  But I keep trying to make changes.  And if this doesn’t work, I will try something else.

Four days in, my insulin dosage a far less than usual.  I’m not feeling the increased energy yet but it’s day 4 and my system is still adjusting.  However I’m wearing the old Fitbit again and exceeding my step goal each day so that’s a positive.  As a once very active person, I’ve become very sedentary.  The more I resist activity, the harder it becomes.  No duh.  I’m trying not to expect perfection because the disappointment sabotages me.  I must remember that even if I make one small change per day, I’m on my way to better habits.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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Red sky at the cabin in my head…

The town in which I live is characterized by having many trees, both hardwood and pine.  As a result my previous and current residences lack an expansive view of the sky.  It seems that wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always wanted just one more thing the property didn’t offer.  Therefore I’ve invented the cabin in my head.  It’s where I dream of living.

Tonight at the cabin in my head, there is a gathering of old friends.  At the cabin, adjacent to the kitchen garden, a vast patio sprawls from beyond the back door.  It is comprised of blue-stone of various shapes and sizes anchored in cement.  There are many stones in hues of blues and maroons and it’s one of my favorite places.  One side is shaded by large branches of maples.  It is home to a funky gazebo made from rough-cut logs.  The “roof” of the structure is covered in vines, keeping direct light from the inside.  It is there where I write if the weather isn’t inclement.

In addition to the gazebo, there is a large and long trestle type table.  It is made from reclaimed barn siding, lovingly sanded and resurfaced.  It hosts communal meals and serves as a work table in all seasons:  canning, wreath-making, flower-drying, etc.  Tonight it played host to a tight-knit group of longtime friends.  After a morning spent in the gardens, we friends hung out at the small pool on my property where I swim laps and absorb some sun.

The evening was for sharing food and each of us pitched in with our favorite offerings.  As a joke to all things Martha Stewart, I served homemade graham crackers and marshmallows (Martha’s recipes) along with Hershey bars for everyone to make s’mores.  I’m not a huge fan but I do love to roast marshmallows.  We sat around the fire pit made from rocks and stones collected from local creeks.

Sated by our gustatory indulgences, quiet prevailed as each of us retreated into our own thoughts.  Looking off to the west, across a field of wildflowers, I spied one of nature’s finest shows…a beautiful pink night sky.  Catching my gaze, one of my friends recited the old adage:  “red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”  After some ooh’s and aah’s a toast was offered to the beauty of Nature and to the beauty of friendship.


red sky

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Circling cyclically…

Life often moves in cycles.  This concept has been in my head for a few days.  When my family moved to our longtime home in town, we were the second “young” family on our block.  I was probably 7, my brother 11.  Most of the other residents of our block were nearing retirement age or were already retired.  Several houses down on our side of the street was the other “young” family who had moved in several months before we did.

I loved growing up on that block.  I was a friendly kid, despite being painfully shy at times.  My upbringing imprinted me with good manners and the ability to converse with older people.  And I was a tomboy.  Mostly I was kind of a quirky kid; you know, I was funny without trying to be funny.  I was a favorite among the older neighbors.  Maybe I was just a novelty but those people got a kick out of me.

Across the street lived a couple whose only son had been a Green Beret during the Vietnam era.  His mother, a member of the DAR and the Mayflower Society,  spoke of him ad nauseum.  She also mentioned every five minutes that she was a member of the DAR and the Mayflower Society.  Her husband was a jolly man who mowed the lawn in his dress shirt and tie.  We kids referred to their lawn mower as the “crop duster” as it belched more oily smoke than I’d ever seen.  However, the jolly husband also possessed a deep voice.  Men with deep voices terrified me as a kid.  So even though he might have qualified as Santa in the jolly looking department, I was terrified of this man.  He could never figure out why.  Did I mention his wife was a member of the DAR and the Mayflower Society?  At any rate, I spent many an afternoon in the wife’s company, hearing the same stories told over and over and looking at photographs.  My reward was meted out in cookies.  That woman baked a mean cookie.  If being kind meant cookies, I was all about being patient.  

Now that I’ve been an adult for quite a while, I realize she was lonely.  I think of her every time I make raspberry chocolate chip meringue cookies.  It was her recipe.  And I’m happy to say that I overcame my fear of her husband during my teenage years.  When I was in college he became very ill.  I visited him in the hospital and we had a great chat, his once resonant voice dulled to a whisper by throat cancer.  What I took away from that visit was the memory of his sweet smile and how much he seemed to like me though I’d usually avoided him like the plague.  And he thanked me for the many hours I spent listening to his wife.  He winked at me and said, “I know it wasn’t just for the cookies.”  Boy, had I underestimated him.

As I grew up on that block the cycle continued.  Our older neighbors retired, moved away, or died.  My mom remained in that house as she and the matriarch of the other “young” family became the elder stateswomen of the block.  About ten years ago, the other gal moved.  And now, my mom has moved.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Guess who lives down the block where my mom just moved?  Yep, you got it.  They’re on the same block again, after it all began 53 years ago!

So, this post took on a whole different life than I intended.  I started writing and my old neighbors came to visit.  I’m glad they did.  I learned a lot from them and I’d like to think they learned something from me.

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The foibles of youth…

I often find myself thinking, “man, I wish I understood ___________ when I was younger.”  But I didn’t.  Our brains are not developed enough.  I understand this now.  I’ve been mired in travelling down memory lane for a few months.  It’s hard not to be since I’ve been helping my elderly parent pack up the old family home.  The other day I was handed a photo.  It kind of blew my mind.

Part of me thought, “wow, I looked pretty good.”  Part of me thought, “wow, I was huge.”  Part of me thought, “why was I so insecure?”  I’m not capable of answering any of those questions.  And, as I’ve become overly fond of saying, it is what it is.  Water under the bridge.  Moments gone by.

I was either 15 or 16 in this photo, probably 16 and heading into my senior year of high school.  At my lowest weight of 150 lbs (5’9″), I still felt awkwardly large compared to most other girls.  I’ve cropped another person out of the photo.  She was far more petite and considered very “cute” for the time period.  It’s not necessary for her to be present nor would I publish a photo without permission.

My youthful insecurities aside, this photo was the start of a very fun evening.  My friend’s aunt had taken us for a weekend at the former Lake Placid Club.  An old-fashioned resort/lodge, there was a main building and several cottages scattered in a woodsy setting.  Think the setup for Dirty Dancing on a smaller scale.  We stayed in one of the large cottages adjacent to the lodge.  It was an enjoyable weekend of swimming in Mirror Lake, playing tennis on clay courts (a real treat), horseback riding, and playing platform tennis.  I was lucky to be afforded this experience.  However, the best was dinner in the main building.

I couldn’t even tell you what we had to eat.  But we were expected to dress nicely.  I’m attired in a favorite wrap-around skirt paired with a favorite bodysuit top (it was the 70’s).  A blazer completed the package.  Since I didn’t own dress shoes in those days, a beloved pair of clogs had to suffice.  After dinner, we adjourned to the lounge where many patrons were enjoying drinks.  We sat and chatted.  People were dancing.  A nice looking, middle-aged man approached the table and asked my friend’s aunt to dance.  She demurred.  He turned to my friend and she readily accepted.  Off they went to trip the light fantastic.  It looked like a scene from a movie.

There was a pause in the music and it was my turn.  Though I was slightly taller than my dance partner, he moved with a well-practiced grace.  For the first time I wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with a man/boy shorter than I.  It was exhilarating and our dance ended with me in a deep dip.  Wow, the guy was strong.

Turns out he was the dance instructor for the club and spent the evening trying to drum up business.  Part of me believes he enjoyed dancing with two young and giggling vixens.  As for us, we dreamily drifted back to our cottage busily sniffing our hands which retained the scent of his Brut aftershave.  What a night.  And what I wouldn’t give to look as “badly” as I thought I did that night.



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The Alone Girl, part three

A tang filled the air tickling the girl’s nose.  Watery sun filtered through high clouds.  The girl walked on, the scent of burning leaves pleasant on the air.  Garbed in an old sage green wool sweater of her father’s, a perfect accompaniment to Levi’s jeans, the girl felt comfortable as she trekked the two miles to the football game.  For some reason, the varsity games were moved to a newer field at the high school that year.  The previous location, the old field at the middle school, was only blocks from the girl’s house and much more convenient.

Along the way, she spent a short time wondering why she seemed always to walk alone.  Many of her friends got rides to the game, yet never asked her to ride along.  Oh well, it gave the girl time to indulge her imagination.  Trekking past the small pond along the main road, the alone girl thought it a nice setting to live.  She would enjoy waking up to views of the pond outside the window.  But in her mind the pond was not located adjacent to a busy road.  It was more secluded in a woodsy area.  A small barn stood nearby, just large enough for her two horses to live.  Dogs barked a merry greeting to any and all who dropped by.  The girl would like that very much.

The honk of a horn broke her daydream.  The autumnal aroma of burning leaves had long ago changed to car exhaust.  In the distance, across the intersection, was her target.  It was rather a large school in the sense that it sprawled in a spider shape. To add distance to her sojourn, the new football field was tucked in at the rear of the school.  Cutting across a myriad of athletic fields shortened the journey and allowed the girl to escape back into her imagined setting of living by the pond.  These fields would provide hay for her horses.  Two cuttings a year would provide most of what she would need to winter her animals.  Who was she kidding?  She was just a kid who spent too much time alone dreaming about the unattainable.  A girl in the 1970’s from a “broken” home wasn’t expected to amount to much.  To heck with that, she’d show them.

Across the fields she walked and grinned when she thought about what she’d learned on these fields.  The tomboy loved the thrill of competition.  On these fields she was taught many games:  speedball, field hockey, soccer.  How she loved running, kicking, competing.  Nearby were the tennis courts.  That’s a story for another day.  As she rounded the edge of the building, she spied the growing crowd.  The teams had just entered the field and were involved in pre-game warm ups.  As she entered the gate, her name was called and she spotted a gaggle of classmates.  It was game time.  It was a wonderful Saturday afternoon tradition.  It was time for the alone girl to join in with the crowd.

autumn sun


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The Alone Girl, Part Deux

A slice of fiction…

The girl ambled down the long road.  Long past twilight, she looked forward to getting home and eating dinner.  The darkness during the winter months seemed to possess an extra layer of inky blackness.  But the girl didn’t mind because she loved the razor sharp quality of the air.  When it was really cold, the girl sometimes wondered if her nostrils would freeze shut.  It felt like they would.

Though a staunch tomboy, the alone girl took sewing lessons.  These lessons were given in a young woman’s home, a distance of over a mile from where the girl lived.  Sewing lessons had replaced swim team for the tomboy.  The girl missed the swim team but it was a co-ed team and she had reached her feminine maturation during the beginning of the sixth grade.  It was difficult to explain why she missed practices each month, so after the sixth grade the girl left the swim team..  Plus she was the only girl her age with a pronounced bosom.  She could tolerate being teased but on top of the verbal spewings from her brother, she chose not to put herself in a position to be teased.  After all as the decade changed from the 60’s to the 70’s, the female population was still a non-entity.

The alone girl didn’t like to sew.  Her mind wandered too much and she lost track of her desire to sew straight seams.  She spent a great deal of the time ripping out her mistakes.  And it was okay.  Mostly she just wanted the company of her sewing teacher.  Now here was a female who was ahead of her time.  Born with a congenital condition in that the lower half of her body never developed, this young woman thrived by concentrating on the skills she possessed with her hands.  It seemed she could craft anything.  She was also a patient and caring teacher who didn’t mind that the alone girl didn’t like to sew.  Betty sat in a makeshift-type of wheelchair, one with a large shelf on which her craft materials lay.  Her hands were gifted, sure and strong.  And she never seemed to mind the childish chatter that emanated from the girl’s mouth.

Betty recognized a kindred spirit, another alone girl.  Alone girls were never lonely because they had so many interests.  Alone girls could be very outgoing and humorous.  Alone girls felt things far more deeply than their peers.  Alone girls could recognize, without difficulty, other alone girls.  And alone girls were content to be alone together.

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