the insubstantial

It is what holds the pieces of your life together.


Getting the Hurt Leg Fixed, Chapter 10

On June 7, we visited the surgeon. It was time for a checkup on my husband’s left knee.

To remind you, this story started on Christmas, 2016, when he fell down the stairs and completely severed his left quadriceps tendon. This serious injury cannot heal by itself and required surgery, done on January 6, 2017. He went home in a brace, unable to bend his leg for weeks or even touch it to the floor. He required assistance with every detail of living, and so I was fully occupied for months. Remember this scene from Chapter One – in the hospital awaiting surgery?


January 6, 2017.


As he healed, things got easier – first he could touch his foot to the floor, put weight on it, bend his leg in the brace, walk without crutches, and finally say goodbye to the brace itself. He has faithfully attended physical therapy and regained full flexibility in the knee.

Other changes have come about. This experience forced us to think about how we manage daily life, and some changes were made. For one thing, my husband moved his office to a suburban location for a variety of reasons, one being that it made his schedule easier for PT, but also added to our quality of life by making work more accessible and convenient. He also was able to work from home during his recovery and found that it could be done with good results. These changes are permanent and I like the new schedule – we have more time together. That means a lot to me.

We also were reminded how much we value being able to run, to hike, to take walks, to exercise. The recovery process for his knee will take about a year. Though it has healed now, it is weakened, as is the right leg, and it will take another six months or so for that strength to come back, as much as it will. Still, my husband last week ran about 100 yards on the track at the high school – a milestone. We do not know the final outcome, but we do know that with this doctor visit, we are ending one phase and beginning the next one.

But I’ve gotten ahead of the story. The doctor was pleased with the knee’s status. He said, “I could torture you with asking for another visit in three months, but I don’t think you need it.” We were very happy to agree and left the medical office building for the last time. I had a bit of superstitious worry about making such a statement, but I have decided to be firm with the fates and let them know we’ll do our part if they will do theirs!

So, take a look, as we wave goodbye. And end the story of the hurt leg here, with our characters driving off in the car toward home.

Doctor's office 6-7-17 small

Carwash Sign

This carwash is located next to the Pennypack Trail’s parking lot at Welsh and Terwood Roads. It’s closed today since they work on the weekends. The business does hand washing and detailing for cars. On a normal day you would see cars in various stages of being cleaned and lots of employees at work.


Usually the sign out by the road says something like “A clean car is a happy car”. Right now, though, this is what it says.


I could go on, but I don’t need to. The sign tells us the narrative the people at this business want us to know and to follow.

and I have gladly

and I have gladly

and I have gladly

What the Future Holds, Sometimes We Find Out

About three weeks ago I posted pictures of stick ladies on my art blog. I usually put their “portraits” on that page and then recount their adventures here. Once they leave the studio, they become beings with their own destinies, I guess, and that is what this blog is about.

Anyway, this particular group brought up some ideas from people who saw them. I was sent a great picture by a blog friend in Scotland of stick people a friend made at the beach. There was something about that little crowd that really appealed. Soon as I figure out what I did with that picture, I’ll post it, because they were hilarious in their befuddled dignity, standing in a row in the sand.

I also got a comment from another blog friend about a relationship she saw between the middle two in this picture. Keep in mind, I just line them up and take the pictures – what effect they have on the world is up to them and to their viewers. I love it when those viewers take things further.

I decided to send these two ladies to Alice, as she is known in blog world, and I did so without telling her. They arrived safely and I think they have found a great home. You know, I don’t really ever know what happens to any of my artworks after I sell them or give them away, and that’s fine. I make them because I want to make them and then things happen as they will. But it’s great when I can see that my work has made a difference. Even if it is just a couple of painted sticks, well, who can tell where things will go with that? What a great thing to remember.

Thanks, Alice! and here’s how you can see what the stick ladies did upon arriving in their new lives…

Sunshine Project – Day 70, Library, Washington, DC

Today was a really special day. My husband and I traveled to Washington, DC, to visit our son and his fiancée. They have recently moved to the city and things have been hectic in getting settled. Now we had time for some catching up.

So we set off good and early, arriving before lunchtime. After some time spent talking and admiring how they’ve gotten their apartment done up so nicely, we went out for lunch and to walk around their neighborhood. There are all sorts of little shops and restaurants up and down the street – what a great spot for just strolling.

We decided to place the sunshine in the local branch of the library. I enjoy stopping at the local library wherever I go. There is a sense of the familiar mixed with details particular to each city. This branch is in an older building and was warm and cozy. It was also well-used – there were people everywhere reading, using the computers, and studying. I put the sunshine on a shelf in the fiction section.

Here are a couple of things that caught my eye – the fire alarm and the pamphlets. I always like to see the selection of flyers and notices at any library I go into, because they tell interesting things about the local community. And the fire alarm, well, it’s just eye-catching, that’s all.

Though they were not located in Washington, DC, I also had to make note of the two rest stops along the highway – we visited one each way. They replaced worn-out and overcrowded locations with these buildings which I think are beautiful – and functional.

We left in mid-afternoon. What a wonderful day we had.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 28, 2015.

Sunshine, February 28, 2015.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Sunshine Project, look here or search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 56, Florist, Glenside, PA

Another February holiday – today is Valentine’s Day. My idea today was to commemorate the day by stopping at a local florist’s location with the sunshine. So my husband and I did so, and then things took a little turn. A good turn, but the sunshine went to a place I had not expected or even known about before today.

Valentine's Day sign

We went to Penny’s Florist in Glenside, about 2 miles from my house. It’s located in the middle of the Keswick Village section (right off the traffic circle where I left a sunshine some weeks earlier) and has been serving the area for 70+ years. Our own family has gotten prom corsages and many arrangements from here and we have also bought a lot of flowers to plant at home from their outside display in the summer.

Florist shop from the traffic circle in Keswick Village.

Florist shop from the traffic circle in Keswick Village.

I had intended to set the sunshine in the (dry at the moment) fountain but then I saw something new: this outpost of the Little Free Library. It hasn’t been there any length of time, I think. We inspected it and marveled at how eye-catching it was. I love to read almost more than anything, and suddenly it seemed the right place for a sunshine. I’ll come back with a couple of books sometime later on.

Having found a spot for the sunshine, we looked at the windows of the shop for a bit and also checked out the parking lot. A couple of cars in and out, the drivers rushing off with flowers. And all the florist vans are out in the world delivering flowers, I think – one was loading up as we looked.

The vans are all out on the road, except for these two, and they'll be going soon...

The vans are all out on the road, except for these two, and they’ll be going soon…

People may say Valentine’s Day is just another excuse for stores to get people to buy something, but I think there’s a place in this world for a day to tell others you love them, however you do it. And in the cold mid-winter it is very nice to see colorful blooms to brighten what can be a gray time of year.

After some errands, we came home for lunch. It had started to snow. Plenty of birds were flocking around our new bird feeder – just made by my husband a couple of weeks ago. Somehow it seemed like a Valentine’s Day sight to me.

bird feeder 2-14-15

Happy sunshine. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sunshine, February 14, 2015.

Sunshine, February 14, 2015.

You can get more information about the Sunshine Project here or you can search “Sunshine Project” in the category list.

Sunshine Project – Day 25, Library, Glenside, PA

Today I left a sunshine in the most important building to me, after my own home – the library.

Sunshine, January 14, 2015.

Sunshine, January 14, 2015.

I love to read. I’m not sure this word is strong enough for how I feel about reading – I don’t know if there is a word that can convey all that reading has meant to me. The minute I figured out how to get inside a book on my own, I never looked back. I’ve spent 50 happy years reading just about anything I can get my hands on.

So it goes without saying that I go to the library a lot. A lot. I feel at home in a library in any city in the world. I tour libraries when I travel, just the way other people look for restaurants or museums. I feel at peace in a library.

All right. Here is a little tour with a bit of sunshine – a typical trip to my local library. This one is about a mile from my house. I drive up the road and into the parking lot – the building is on my left.

From Keswick Avenue...

From Keswick Avenue…

I park in the lot and go around to the back entrance. If it were summer I’d be checking on the childrens’ garden at the side of the building.

...I park the car and walk up this sidewalk.

…I park the car and walk up this sidewalk. The garden beds are to the right of the building in this picture.

Once I’m in, I drop off my old books and take a look around for more. These days, I use the internet to order the books I want – our library is part of a county-wide system and I’m not restricted to the books in this one location. I still look over the new books and take a spin into the stacks, though.

In the mystery section...

In the mystery section…I’ll se what might be calling to me from the shelf.

I read a lot of mysteries, so I decided to put the sunshine on a shelf in this section. Look for it there along the right hand side.

...come closer, maybe the book I want is along here...

…come closer, maybe the book I want is along here…

... and closer...

… and closer.

A sunshine marks the spot.

A sunshine marks the spot.

Thank you, Glenside Library, and everyone who brings me books. Thanks to the teachers who taught me to read so long ago, to my family for always supplying me with books, and hello to everyone I’ve ever met on the pages of a book – I’ve got a world of friends I carry around with me everywhere because of books.

Glenside Library sign

If you want to know more about the Sunshine Project, look right here.

Sunshine Project – Day 10, Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA

Today’s sunshine took a short trip with me to Ambler, PA, about 15 minutes from my house. I was on my way to visit some friends who live right off the main street, Butler Avenue.

Ambler is a town that’s coming back after some years in decline. You know the story. Stores closed due to the competition from the mall and shopping centers. Things get a bit run-down. Then, a few people decide to make a go of things along the main street, and new businesses open. All this takes time. I remember Ambler 30 years ago and I know the town now, and it’s just great what’s happened. Things are thriving again and it’s a good place to live and to visit.


Butler Pike in to town 12-14

Butler Pike as I see it driving into town.


I walked along Butler Avenue looking for a place to set the sunshine. I have a special attachment to the town because of my friends – Anna, Rich, Luke, Liv, and Nellie. They’ve figured in many of my memories of Ambler. It’s their home and they love living here, and they’ve showed me their view of it. School, dentist, car repair place, water ice stand, restaurants.

I also have my own places in town – my husband and I have been to the theater here (two different ones) and several restaurants; I’ve done street fair art shows here as well for some years.


Butler Pike as I see it driving out of town to go home.

Butler Pike as I see it driving out of town to go home.


I decided to place the sunshine on the wall in front of the Presbyterian Church. I chose this location because it is near one of the theaters, the water ice stand, and the Indian restaurant – all of which I’ve been to at some time or another.


Sunshine in place on Butler Avenue 12-14

The sunshine is perched on the wall in front of the church. I think it will be easy for a passer-by to see it.


I reflected on all the layers of meaning this ordinary street has for me. I am reminded of the richness of the everyday things in life. Happy sunshine to all of us. Thank you, friends, family, and neighbors!

Sunshine, December 30, 2014

Sunshine, December 30, 2014

Sunshine Project – Day 8, Apartment Building, Washington, D.C.

The sunshine traveled with us today. My husband and I drove a gigantic white van (we named her Fran Fran the Cargo Van) to Washington, DC. We traveled with a sofa loaded in the back: that’s why we needed the van.

And the sofa was leaving our house to go to the new apartment of our son and his fiancée. They are in the process of moving to the city and have new jobs starting very soon. There has been a lot of change in their lives lately, and so much to decide and to do in a short time.

We left early in the morning, before the sun was up,  and arrived without incident in just about three hours. Though I don’t think I want to travel in a gigantic white van that often, it certainly did the job. So just like that (easy for me to say; my son and husband did the lifting), the sofa is settled down and we are eating lunch and admiring the new apartment.

Sunshine for December 28, 2014.

Sunshine for December 28, 2014.

As we left, I placed the sunshine at the mailbox area in the front lobby. I thought it was a great place for someone to see it – everyone comes to the mailbox, and the elevators are right there, too.

mailbox and sunshine 12-28-14

Those people in Apartment 617 make their own sunshine, I think – and I am so happy they would share it with us today!

apt. 617

So off we went, home with Fran Fran the Cargo Van, sofa-free in this direction. It was a great trip. Just great! At least that is what we thought. I don’t know how Fran Fran the Cargo Van felt about it. She certainly behaved nicely.

An innocuous-looking hallway, deserted and quiet...

Here you see an innocuous-looking hallway, deserted and quiet…

.. and then all of a sudden, this mysterious man streaked by. I'll give you a hint: he doesn't live in the building. I'll give you another hint: It's my van driver. And last hint: My husband! Thank you for driving!

.. and then all of a sudden, this mysterious man streaked by. I’ll give you a hint: He doesn’t live in the building. I’ll give you another hint: It’s my van driver. And last hint: My husband! Thank you for driving!

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