The Art Teacher

Today I met a woman who discussed art with me. She commented on the Hockney print in my office stating it reminded her of a Grandma Moses. I confessed I knew little of Moses’ style. I told her that I had bought the poster at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while attending a Hockney Exhibition, explaining that I had chosen it because I disliked it least of his available works.IMG_9228

She told me about an exhibit across the street at a bank building. I have forgotten the artist’s name. She spoke briefly about artists in our city not having much of a market. She remarked about the taste of our CEO who invests millions in various art forms displayed about our corporate headquarters. I thanked her for sharing her knowledge with me and she went on with her cleaning for you see she was the janitor.

As I watched her unassuming figure walk away pushing the trash cart I did not doubt that she knew art and appreciated it. I thought how much we assume about people based upon their jobs, clothes or other factors that tell us nothing about who or what they are.

Written January 8, 1990

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet


Title Photo by Pixabay

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. There are several kinds but basal cell is the most frequent. More than four million cases are diagnosed in the US each year. Squamous cell is next, diagnosed in one million people annually. Both are easily treated either surgically or with special medications. Sometimes radiation or cryotherapy are used. The most important thing about these and any skin cancer is early detection.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which can be much more serious and difficult to treat depending upon the stage at the time of detection. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and require chemotherapy or radiation in addition to surgery. If a first-degree relative has had melanoma your chance of developing it is 50% higher.

Recognizing melanoma relies on the ABCDEs which stands for these characteristics:

  • A – Asymmetry
  • B – irregular Borders
  • C – changes in Color
  • D – Diameter larger than 1/4 inch
  • E – Evolving (changes over time)


An example of melanoma skin cancer


Early detection of skin cancer requires close observation of your own body, including hard to see areas that might require enlisting the help of another person. Most important is having an annual skin check by a dermatologist.

Prevention includes the use of sunscreen every day regardless of the weather or your activity. UV rays are always present and even penetrate glass in your car, office or home.

The benefits of sunscreen for African Americans has not been fully established. One should discuss this with their physician.

You can read much more specific details of skin cancer and its treatment at this American Cancer Society website

This site also has several photos of different types of skin cancer and includes a chat line if you have further questions.

The Cancer Helpline number is:  1-800-227-2345  

The Walk

The Walk

WalkHer walk was possibly her most impressive attribute. There was something about her carriage that was both authoritative and sexy. She commanded attention upon entering a room with confident strides. She never resorted to tiny lady-like steps yet her movement was anything but masculine. That stride with shoulders back, head up and chest out unconsciously belied the insecurity and inferiority that she carried deep within her heart for all of her years. Her fears gave off fearsomeness and her lack of confidence made her seem aloof so few knew what was inside.

Today when she hesitantly enters a room her shoulders lead, her head is down and the chest mostly concave. No one truly sees her. They glance only at the carriage, the shape and assume they know what she’s like. She’s the same as always and still, they do not know her.

Graphics by Pixabay

Say The Word

Everyone talks about cancer unless someone in the room has cancer and then the word becomes taboo. If a person has told you that they have cancer then it is okay to ask them about their illness, to show concern. Don’t be afraid you are bringing up an outlawed subject. You are not reminding the person they have cancer. Believe me, they are aware. Most cancer patients awaken each morning with that fact firmly planted in their thoughts. Few fall asleep at night without the same thought. That does not mean the person is morbid, preoccupied or afraid, it is simply there. It is not who they are, but it is a current part of their life that figures into their considerations and their decisions. So, say the word “Cancer” just as you might say ulcer, diabetes or pneumonia. It is okay.


“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Stuart Scott


Photo by Pixabay

Baby Birds

Helping Baby Birds

First, it is important to know it is illegal to injure or possess an indigenous bird. There are special facilities such as Raptor Rehab licensed to rehabilitate injured birds, but most veterinarians do not have the resources nor experience to handle injured wild birds.

When birds first leave the nest they are not fully able to fly and spend two or three days on or near the ground. Pet owners need to keep cats and dogs indoors during these sensitive nesting times.

What to do if you find a baby bird out of its nest:

First of all, determine whether or not the bird is injured. If it is not, make sure there are no animals nearby that might harm the bird. If a bird is found on the ground, gently replace it in its nest. It is not true bird parents will not care for a baby once it has been touched by a human.

If the nest is unsafe, place the bird in a small basket and nail the basket to the tree near the original nest, out of direct sunlight. If a basket is unavailable, a small plastic container with holes punched in the bottom to prevent drowning will do. From a distance keep an eye on the baby to see if the parents return. If they do not return in an hour call your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for help.

If the basket idea sounds far fetched to you, let me assure you it works. I have witnessed this successfully twice when my husband and later my daughter used a basket to save baby birds.


If the bird is injured

  • Do not give the bird any food or water!
  • Prepare a small cardboard box by punching holes in the sides and top for ventilation
  • Gently place the bird on a towel or soft cloth in the box and place the box in a dry warm spot
  • Call your nearest DNR or rehabilitation center

Source: Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Inc.

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”                          David Attenborough

Photos by Pixabay

Words Do Matter

A California city voted to ban some gender-specific words in its city code and replace them with gender-neutral options.

Berkeley’s municipal code will no longer feature words like “manhole” and “manpower,” and instead say, “maintenance hole” and “human effort” or “workforce.” The measure passed unanimously and replaces more than two dozen terms.

Gender-specific references to job titles, like “policeman” and “craftsmen,” will also be changed in the code, to “police officer” and “craftspeople” or “artisans.”


And the use of gendered pronouns, like “he” and “she,” would be replaced with specific titles, like “the attorney” or “the candidate.”

Rigel Robinson, the council member who proposed the measure, praised its passage in a tweet Tuesday.

“There is power in language. This is a small move, but it matters,” he tweeted.

Source: The Associated Press

See this former blog post for WHY it matters:



Photos by Pixabay

The Cusp

the cusp

“a point of transition between two different states”…

i feel it in myself
along with the first falling leaves
from the sycamores and poplars…
and the desiccated brown umbels
of Queen Anne’s lace

i hear it in the shrill cicada song
as it’s tireless droning
runs through my head…
and in the plop of acorns as they begin to hit the ground

i see it in the shrunken creek beds
that lie lazy and shallow…
and in the trees and grass
that have lost all their luster

i hear it in the rustle of corn stalks
once emerald green,
now parched and thirsty across
a rain-starved land

for everything has a season…
a time to be on the cusp…
a point of transition
from one state to the next

and i felt it
as it began
with the drifting down
of that first, tired, rusted leaf…

Written by: Sylvia L. Mattingly
September 6, 2019



It’s September and I am sitting at my desk looking out into the courtyard where I have a hummingbird feeder. I’ve seen one hummingbird off and on all summer, but today the air seems full of the little hummers as they dart from bloom to feeder and then to another bloom. They look so fragile and gentle, but this belies their strength.

Each year about this time they migrate for thousands of miles to reach their winter feeding grounds. They notice the light levels from the sun to judge when they need to begin overeating to store energy for their long flights. They increase their weight by 25-40 percent and can often be seen fighting each other for food opportunities. They travel independently rather than in flocks as do most birds. Hummingbirds migrate during the day flying low to the ground searching for food then they rest throughout the night.

I will miss these tiny creatures when they depart, but as sure as the world is standing they will return in the spring.

Pictures from 2018

The Day I Realized I Didn’t Want to Be a Nurse Anymore

This is not my story. Unfortunately, though it is the story of too many nurses today. I left clinical nursing when administrative opportunities became available after over ten years. My heart aches for what many nurses experience today. This is a Re-Blog.


Source: The Day I Realized I Didn’t Want to Be a Nurse Anymore

The Least of These

A poem by Pat Bush

“Whatsoever you do, to the least of these, this you do unto me.” Matthew 24:40

Each night as I go to bed
I find my thoughts filled with dread.
Tuning out doesn’t lessen the pain.
Will we ever be normal again?
Deep inside I long to be
Peaceful, calm, carefree.
“Stay strong”, I softly say.
“Tomorrow is another day”.
Reality hits, as I arise.
Same old angst. No surprise.
The answer, in a word or two,
“Do unto others, as I do unto you”.
Simple, timeless, a how-to plan
For how to love your fellow man.
Wisdom given for us to share.
Open your heart, be aware.
Things don’t matter, people do.
I’m on board. How about you?
I’ll give toothpaste, I’ll give soap,
And a superabundance of hope.



Photo by Pixabay

Train Ride

Paris to Rome

A few years ago my daughter, Dianne, and I had a delightful train experience. We traveled from Paris to Rome on one of the older trains, not the sleek bullet type so popular in Europe.

We prepared for our overnight excursion by buying French foods. We purchased a loaf of bread, a chunk of cheese, some grapes and a bottle of wine. We were ready for a fun night. For a short time, we were waiting for the train’s arrival in the hot sun. We began to notice an unpleasant smell that became more offensive by the moment. We looked at each other quizzically but each assured the other, “Yes, we had remembered our personal deodorants.” At this point, we began to look around us at others wondering about their hygiene. Finally, we boarded the train and were escorted to our little private quarters for the night. To our horror, the awful odor was following us. It was when we unwrapped our food we realized it was our choice of cheese.


Other than the cheese incident, our train ride was perfect. A uniformed steward informed us in writing he was our personal “chauffeur” for the night. It turned out he had specific messages written on small cards because he could not speak English. It’s a good thing he had the cards because we didn’t understand French!

Looking out our window during the daylight hours we saw acres and acres of sunflowers and at intervals homes and barns with thatched roofs. The countryside was like an artist’s canvas and yet so alive.


Once it was night we slept well to the sound of the tracks and gentle rocking of the car. It was a magical trip.

“We have come five hundred miles by rail through the heart of France. What a bewitching land it is!” Mark Twain from The Innocents Abroad (1869)

Book Review

Their Eyes Were Watching God

by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

Written in 1937 by Hurston, an anthropologist, this book has become an enduring part of American literature. I have read it twice and enjoyed it each time. The novel is about a beautiful young fair-skinned black woman and follows her life through three marriages, each unique. She was strong and refuses to let the mores of the times dictate her life. Written in the dialect of post-slavery African Americans it can be slow reading, but this in no way takes away from the story.

I recommend this book as both thought-provoking and entertaining.

It was made into a movie starring Halle Berry.