It’s the kiddy pool for me

Since my shoulder surgery, I have become best friends with my brace. It seems our relationship will continue for a few more months.

“No.” My surgeon’s physician’s assistant shook her pretty head. (Not only was she smart, she looked like a fairy princess in her cute scrubs, so clearly, she’d won the gene-pool lottery.)

Still, I couldn’t help but argue my point. “But I’ll only dive off the shore, so I won’t have to go on a boat where I might encounter currents or rough water.” I smiled hoping to persuade her. “And it’s the Caribbean, which is calm, like glass.”

Okay. My conscience niggled at me, since I’d certainly been scuba diving in that beautiful sea when a storm popped up out of nowhere and wild water made maneuvering tough, but mostly those things didn’t happen.

She stared me down.

Sensing a need to negotiate, I said, “How about snorkeling?” Now, I really don’t like that sport, since once you’ve had the freedom of tanks, anything else seems rather bland. But I was ten days out from heading to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and I hadn’t been diving in almost two years, a gift from the pandemic.

“And what if you felt the need to use your arm?” she said, eyebrows raised.

“I’ll wear my brace. How about that?” I sounded like I was begging, which of course I was.

A life spent participating in sports has left me with a lot of broken parts.

“Twelve more weeks,” she said. “And this is usually the time when patients re-tear their rotator cuffs,” she added for emphasis.

I froze. Six weeks earlier, I’d undergone my second rotator cuff surgery, a miserable operation with a seemingly endless number of restrictions and long, painful rehab. I really believed I had a lifetime warranty after the first one, but I’d learned—to my despair— that Mother Nature has graced us with three rotator-cuff parts, any one of which can fail, especially for someone like me, since I spent 60 years participating in sports: ice skating, skiing, lap swimming, scuba diving, and officiating amateur sports—football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball.

When my sweetie pie picked me up from the doctor’s office—no driving allowed—I told him I was restricted from diving. “That’s too bad,” he said.

“Maybe I could just bring my mask and fins,” I said hopefully. “I’ll just paddle around near the shore. How could I possibly get into any trouble?”

I hovered in shallow water above a rocky field of sea urchins and, for a time, was unable to escape.

He glanced at me. “Remember the sea urchins?”

I sucked in a breath. On that day, Ryan and I were snorkeling near the Fredrikstad Pier on St. Croix’s west end. The sea was completely calm, but suddenly a whoosh of water dropped me down, where I hovered a few inches above a rocky bed of sea urchins, their needle-like spines poised to impale me…well…in the boobs. I would have gasped had I not had a snorkel in my mouth. I tried to back out, to get into deeper water, but the surge kept me pinned in place, bobbing dangerously above thousands of pointed spikes. Note here that while sea urchins are rarely poisonous, I guarantee you will never forget should you be unfortunate enough to be stabbed by one of them.

“What would you have done to get out of there?” Ryan asked.

“Point taken.”

As I prepare to head off on my Caribbean vacation, I realize this is as close to the water as I’ll probably get.

“You would have used your arms, right?”

“Of course.” In fact, that is exactly how I scuttled to safety that day, gently moving my arms backwards, easing myself away from the prickly creatures, all the while hoping another surge wouldn’t impale me on those lethally-sharp spines.

“Do you really want to bring your mask and fins?” He asked, keeping his eyes on the road.

“I guess not.” I hung my head, dejected. For no apparent reason, I pictured myself in a kiddy pool wearing my brace and mask and snorkel, which is probably as close to the water as I’ll get this time around.

“We’ll be going again soon,” Ryan said, trying to cheer me up.

And they’ll be good food and wine and pretty sunsets and beachcombing, I reminded myself. And that will have to do.

For now.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wild-horses-on-the-salt-cover-2.jpg

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

Perception: Don’t jump to conclusions

Perception is a funny thing.

Take the day I walked into my living room and gasped at the sight of my carpet, for example. A bright white splotch glowed from the floor which sent me into a bit of a tizzy.

“No, no, no!” I yelled , though no one was home to hear. “There’s a reason we don’t use bleach!” (Mostly, my long and sorted past of ruining things with the stuff.)

I rushed to the kitchen, wetted a rag, and hurried back to the living room in the hope I could erase the glaring spot. I mentally cursed the kids, wondering who had spilled the bleach that I knew no amount of elbow grease could fade. Still, I worked at the stain, while simultaneously calculating the cost of replacing the rug.

Finally, realizing there was no way to remove the mark, I rose and considered my options. I thought perhaps I could move a piece of furniture to cover the blotch, but of course it was right in the middle of the carpet. I thought of flipping the rug over, but was sure the bleach had soaked through.

I sighed, then started hauling off the furniture so I could roll the carpet up. I would have to throw it away.

But then, a strange thing happened. The stain…moved.

I stood very still. Perhaps I was dreaming. I thought about that for a moment and decided I was awake. I blinked and lowered myself onto the edge of a chair. Then, after some careful contemplation, the reality of the situation struck. I bent down and held my hand over the blotch and there it was. Why I hadn’t seen it earlier I cannot say.

The “stain” was nothing more than a ray of sunshine gleaming past my backyard trees, through my bay window, and onto the carpet. I suppose I should have realized sooner, but I have a tendency to jump to conclusions.

My sunshine stain made me considered why we humans are so quick to view things a certain way, often without thought. That this was not the first time I was absolutely sure of myself only to discover I was completely wrong made me consider how the world might be a better place if we all stopped and thought, before blindly stumbling into false conclusions.

It’s said that perception is all about using our senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing—to make sense of the world around us. But our perceptions are also affected by our preconceived notions, which in my sunshine-stain case might have been prompted by my lifelong inability to get along with bleach.

The point is that people can look at the same situation and come to different conclusions. However, if we step back and thoughtfully consider what we’re looking at, perhaps we can avoid getting it wrong.

That said, I like my Irish cousin’s take on perception. “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― William Butler Yeats

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wild-horses-on-the-salt-cover-2.jpg

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

The Tough Guy and the Octopus

A while back, I stared at a restaurant menu that featured octopus. My mind immediately went back to the day my sweetie pie and I were scuba diving when we came upon a small brown octopus. The little guy didn’t sail away in a cloud of black ink, instead he puffed himself up and faced us down. His strange eyes flitted back and forth. Perhaps he wondered what these giant, bubble-blowing creatures might be.

Believe it or not, octopuses are quite cute. They kind of look like benevolent aliens.

Later, I decide the wee animal was quite cute. Not like a kitten or a koala bear perhaps, more like a benevolent-looking, cartoon alien. I didn’t know much about octopuses at the time, aside from their inclusion on menus.

“Want to try the octopus?” Ryan asked.

I creased my brow. While the garlic and herbs and olive oil in which the octopus was prepared sounded lovely, I  struggled. Finally, I shook my head. “It doesn’t bother you to eat octopus after meeting that little guy?”

Ryan stared at me. “I don’t have a problem with it.” Still, he didn’t order the octopus.

Let me interject here that Ryan is generally considered a tough guy. In a former life he did security and worked as a body guard for rock-and-roll bands and sporting events—including eight Super Bowls, NBA and NHL All-Star Games and soccer’s World Cup—and, in my favorite job, he stood backstage at countless performances of Phantom of the Opera, in an effort to keep rabid musical theater crowds—You know how dangerous they can be!—from mobbing Michael Crawford. The point is, you wouldn’t think Ry would be the least bit sentimental.

While watching My Octopus Teacher, Ryan and I learned just how brilliant and friendly an octopus can be.

Recently, I convinced him to watch the documentary My Octopus Teacher, which is up for an Oscar this year. The story is about a filmmaker who is going through a mental health crises. He lives in South Africa and swims in a beautiful kelp forest every day. There he meets an octopus.

Over time, he and the creature become friends, which seems astounding for an animal that is primarily water and is essentially a snail without a shell. We learned that the octopus is quite brilliant. When attacked by a shark it can gather shells and rocks in seconds to create a place to hide, for example. Once the octopus trusted the man, she would often cling to him and let him pet her, which made me stare at the two cats in my lap.

It was fascinating and heartbreaking that even though the man was devoted to the little octopus—he swam with her every day for a year—he did not interfere with nature. It was difficult to watch as the animal was attacked by a shark and lost an arm. She hid for two weeks and the man grieved, but when she finally came out of her den, he could see a new arm growing where the lost one had been.

The octopus and the beauty of the kelp forest healed the man and made my sweetie pie cry.

Of course, there would be no happy ending, because the lifespan of this type of octopus was just one year. After mating and reproducing the creatures generally die of starvation. We watched the moment shortly after she’d laid her eggs when she came out of her den and gave herself up to predators, eventually being taken away by a shark.

As the final beautiful shots of the kelp forest and the fascinating creatures within rolled by, I looked over at Ryan. I watched as he swiped at his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Could you eat an octopus now?” I asked.

He didn’t respond, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wild-horses-on-the-salt-cover-2.jpg

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb