Tough Old Broad

July 31st, 2021

It has been a long time since I put words to the page here at Muttering Fool. February of 2020. Not long before the world exploded into the nightmare of COVID-19. Half a year before my body tried to kill me.

I am writing here from my hospital room at a large teaching hospital in Virginia. I have been here or in another hospital for long-term care since October 13, 2020.

It’s now the last day of July 2021.

We aren’t sure when I’ll be home. Right now we are waiting for my surgery. It’s a big one. 12 hours under the knife while my doctor puts my intestines back together.

You see, back in October, they kind of exploded. And I went septic, twice. I spent November being cut open and cleaned out, with some intestines removed then, and more in December, to try and save me. I had so much infection and abcess that all my doctors were sure I wouldn’t make it.

They sent me to a long-term care hospital to either, die or heal, and I healed. Needless to say they were surprised that my wound healed as best it could.

Now,I still have a portion of my intestines in a bag on the outside of my body and another large fistula on my right side.

But, I made it through what they were sure would kill me.

I’m a tough old broad. I fought hard to survive. Even after the one surgeon told Tony to prepare for the worst. (How do you do that? You can’t prepare for the death of your spouse.)

Speaking of Tony, as if I didn’t know that he loved me more than I deserve before this. He has spent every night sleeping on a chair beside me. In the times in the ICU when they didn’t allow him to stay, he slept in the van so he could be with me as soon as possible.

That is love beyond love. Pure unselfish devotion.

When he isn’t asleep or at work, he is helping me. He bathes me, he dries me, and puts the powders and ointments on me to keep my skin together.

He gently helps me put on a fresh gown and makes sure that my sheets are wrinkle free to prevent even more issues.

Tony wipes my tears when I get overwhelmed by what I am facing. 12 hours of surgery, a huge chance of complications, a 1 in 5 chance of not surviving the after math of the surgery.

He holds my hand when they do wound care on my abdomen. He has learned how to do the wound care on my body. When the pillows under my legs need to be moved, he fixes them.

I am surrounded my stuffed animals he has bought me to keep my spirits up.

All of these things and more show how much he loves me.

Right now, he’s sitting beside me waiting for my TPN to be hooked up to me before he eats, so we can have dinner together. (I haven’t eaten any food since November 3, 2020, it sucks.)

And, with my nurse coming in to hook up the TPN and lipids, it’s time to enjoy “dinner” with my amazing husband.


The opposite of a crisis of faith

February 17th, 2020

What is the opposite of a crisis of faith? An abundance? A surfeit?

I mean I am heading in an entirely different direction in my faith. For years I have had none. My faith in an omnipotent being was gone.

Believing in God was always a part of me and then I got cancer at 33, my first love committed suicide, a few other major things happened and it was gone. Not just no longer believing in the Church. I mean that is part of it, I was raised Catholic and the Church has so many problems I had to walk away from it.

Logically, God makes no sense. Hear me out. If you think about science and how the universe works and how the Bible contradicts itself? It makes no sense.

Yet, there is a feeling that has been growing in me. A tiny (mustard?) seed of faith.

I haven’t gone back to a church. In fact, I am not even sure where this is heading for me. I know that the Catholic Church will never be a place for me again.

Is anywhere going to be right? I refuse to belong to a body that is anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-love. Is there a way to be the person I am and a person who believes?

We shall see.


Day One – Work day

December 1st, 2019

Today was a long workday for me. I got to cover the anniversary gospel sing of a local group Burkett Lyburn and the All Together Singers. Now, anyone who knows me knows me knows I am not a religious person.

However, this is one of my favorite events to cover every year.

Burkett is an amazing man and friend, and I am proud to know him.

Center is Burkett Lyburn. Burkett and the All Together Singers celebrated their 21st anniversary.

Now, cute story. Back on election day, I ran into Burkett working the polls for another local man who was running for Board of Supervisors. We spoke and I mentioned how I looked forward to the event every year for the sweet potato pie.

His Mother-in-law’s sweet potato pie. Oh my goodness, I wasn’t joking. I look forward to this pie every year. It is the perfect sweet potato pie and I have not been able to replicate it.

Unfortunately, his MIL had surgery on her knee and was down for the count. He promised me that he would have a whole pie for me if he had to bake it himself.

And he did. A beautiful orange vision of loveliness came home with me. Every bite of the one piece I have had so far was delicious.

Burkett performs

The sing was wonderful with groups from all over the place. And, the event every year is one of the few times a year I wish I was religious. Overwhelmingly you can feel how the folks that attend this really love their fellow man. It is one of the few places, and times, I feel completely accepted.

I cannot wait to photograph another one next year.


This year

June 14th, 2019

Big long introspective post ahead, fair warning.

I have dubbed this year my “year of doing shit that scares me.” Starting last summer (well, really the year before, but more intensely last summer) I started putting myself out there.

In my relationships, my friendships, my whole damn life. I quit doing so many things I loved when I was younger when I met Tony.

Not blaming him, it’s my own neuroses. I didn’t write much for a time. I quit singing, I quit acting, I quit friendships, I quit so many things.

And, I became afraid of them. I grew a fear of being on stage, being in front of people, showing my art, whether it be my writing, my photography, or the painting (I am not back to that, yet, it’s coming.)

I grew afraid of making connections with people and kept all my relationships on a superficial level.

So much of who I really am I subsumed to who I thought I had to be.

Then a couple things happened and I realized I was supremely unhappy with who I had become, what I was doing, or not doing, and things had to change.

I’m working on these things that scare me. Last September I walked (rolled, smartasses who are reading this, #gimplife) into choir rehearsal having no idea if it would be a good place for me. I quickly learned that it truly was a home for me.

These women and men accepted me and became my choir family. In January of this year when I had a meltdown getting to Thursday rehearsal night is what kept me going each week.

I cried every week at rehearsal for two months. The music choices were cathartic and beautiful and needed.

I finally made it all the way through one song, for the first time with no issues, at our second show. That is how much this song affected me.

Earlier this week I was cast in Charlotte’s Web with the Colonial Beach Playhouse. (Thank you, Sher Lee.) Again, something I was afraid of doing.

But, I did it. I carried my ass in there and tried. It has been a long time since I did this, but I can learn to act again. (If anyone wants to see my favorite show I did, I have Youtube links to where I did Grease in high school.)

I formalized the photography business(I am booking sessions now and I am cheap, come get your pictures taken.)

In the fall I am flying for the first time as an adult. I am terrified of it, but I am doing it.

This morning someone who I admire so much paid me the compliment that I seem so much happier than when I started with the choir.

I am.

Oh, boy, am I so much happier than last year. Or earlier this year.

I know that won’t always be, I deal with depression and anxiety but the situational things are getting better.

I am working on me. I will continue to work on me.

I will do things that make me happy. No more not doing things because they might be scary or hard. Life’s short. I’m not getting any younger.

Let’s do this.



A moment of joy

December 10th, 2018

I have been open about my struggle with depression recently. I have openly talked about dealing with depression throughout my adult life. It is tough, some days are worse than others, but I keep fighting through it.

The last couple months have been some of the toughest depression wise. It has been weighing on me. That doesn’t mean I don’t laugh or have moments of joy. I do, but the darkness has been my companion.

Each week my saving grace has been, “Get to Thursday, get to choir practice day.” I have. When things are at their lowest, I get to Thursday.

I get to go sing, I get to do something that is solely for me. I get to spend time with the wonderful women and men of Connexion Chamber Choir.

Now, I have to work at singing. It has been 24 years since I was in a choir. I have to practice a lot and really work at it.

The work though, the practicing at home, at rehearsal, in my car, as I scoot around town, is worth it to me. There were still spots that I just didn’t have the notes last night, but that’s okay.

Yesterday evening, as we walked into the church to line up and there was a packed crowd, I was in awe. It was cold and snowing really hard, yet, our friends, our families, our fellow Colonial Beachers came out to see us sing.

As we walked (okay, I rolled,) into the performance singing, joy spread over me. True joy. I was happy and for a few minutes, the depression melted away.

During one particular part of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” I got the tingle as our amazing choir director, Benjamin, would say. It was just beautiful and I actually looked out at the crowd for a moment and they were all enthralled and it was glorious.

After we processed, the compliments were so fantastic. The only complaint (besides the weather) was that our program wasn’t long enough. How fantastic is that?

I want to thank my choir family for all the joy, and getting me through the weeks. You all are astounding. We have come so far as a group in just a few months. (I saw a short video of just part of “Glow” and we sounded pretty dang good.)

Thank you to my husband for taking pictures. He isn’t as aggressive as I am, but they looked good on the back of the camera.

Thank you, Benjamin, for starting this group and allowing me to join even though it had been many years since I had done this.

Thank you, Mom(Ruthi,) Nicole, Tracey, Tony, for coming out to support me.