Wednesday, June 3, 2015


46 is not a big deal  
for most.
however, for me it is.
it is double 23.
when i was 23,
i gave birth to katherine;
it is also when i began
to experience undiagnosed stroking.
i was sure 
i would not
live to see 24 -
much less 


is a


in these past 23 years,
my life has come
full circle...
for my one and only,
katherine elizabeth, 
turn 23 this year 
and will wed 
the love of her life.

my 46
her 23
is shaping up
to look something like this,
you see...

i will still be here
to see it as well.

is a


love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

soft and loving, warm and kind...

(march 20, 2015)

me: hey, stella, it's dani. 
how are you?
stella: oh, dani, i'm just terrible!
me: you're not supposed to be terrible!!!
it's your birthday!
what's the matter?
stella: someone just shattered 
the window out of my front door.

stella spread her arms
and lowered her face
as if looking at the floor
(stella was blind).

stella: just look at this mess!
me: don't worry,
let me get a broom and dustpan,
and i'll clean it up.
stella: oh, thank you...


i had obviously awakened
stella from a bad dream.
i paused for a moment 
then patted her knee.

me: see, all cleaned up!
stella: oh, thank you!
i didn't know 
what i was going to do.
me: it was no problem at all.

happy birthday!"
i said.

stella smiled.

stella: why, thank you!


i looked around stella's 
rest home room.
there were flowers and cards
and a great big birthday cake
sitting on her eating tray.




stella was 90 years old
on march the twentieth,
two thousand and fifteen,
and i was the one receiving a gift.
i was sitting right there 
next to her 
feeling blessed to have had her
in my life 
for nearly 40 of her years.

i sat there looking 
at her,


when i was a little girl,
stella treated me 
like i was one of hers.
i spent most afternoons,
after school,
with her and her husband, 
jack (my best friend)...
playing with jack,
cooking with 
and learning from stella.
she played the piano with me 
and taught me to crochet.
she took me to 
seasonal choir concerts 
every year
invited me over to see 
their Christmas tree 
when they had finished
decorating it.

it was the most beautiful
i had ever seen...
red lights,
red, Christmas-plaid bows,
white doves,
strands of pearls.


when i was a teenager, 
my friends and i stopped
before prom to show her and jack our dresses,
jack and stella were 
at our wedding,
at the hospital the night katherine was born,
at her birthday parties, 
when katherine went to her first prom,
things came full circle.
john went to get stella
(jack had died) 
to come over and see
(though stella's sight had already begun to fail her)
dressed in her ball gown.


a couple of weeks ago
before we were to leave 
for the dominican,
i called jeda, 
one of my dearest friends, 
jack's and stella's oldest daughter, 
to check on stella. 
jeda told me 
they had called in hospice, 
but the step was to just allow
for stella to receive 
a higher standard of care.
she assured me 
stella was still "stella".

jeda:  mother's been worrying
all morning about getting
katherine elizabeth's graduation card to her!
me:  oh, my goodness, 
how sweet is that!
jeda: i know...
i asked her 
if she wanted to sign 
the card
or if she wanted me 
to sign it.
 she said 
she wanted to sign it.

we both giggled;)


while we were on vacation,
i texted jeda
to check on stella.

me: how's our girl?
jeda: mother is comfortable.
hospice has made such a huge difference 
in her care,
but she and her functions 
are slowing down.

the fact stella's care had improved...
that she was comfortable,
made my heart sing.


after receiving the text from jeda,
i smiled.
stella always had made me feel comfortable.
she was always soft and loving,
warm and kind.
i thought about it and realized 
i had, perhaps, subconsciously 
endeavored over the years
to return those blessings
to her.
when shopping for her,
i always looked and felt
for the softest, warmest, and fuzziest
and blankets 
to comfort her 
in love and kindness.
i remember taking maggie 
when she was a tiny puppy
over at night
to curl up in stella's lap.
maggie loved going to stella's.
stella talked baby-talk to her
and petted her to sleep.
stella would go on-and-on
about how soft and sweet
maggie was.


on sunday morning,
i received a call from jeda.
when i answered 
maggie and mossi began to bark.
i only heard bits and pieces 
at first, 
but i heard enough to know 
our stella was gone.
jeda told me 
she, her sister, janie, and janie's boys
were going to spend some time with her 
before the funeral director 
came to get her.

i sat there stunned.


two days later...

in my heart
i'm still in disbelief.

in my head, 
i know...
i know 
my soft and loving,
warm and kind 
has joined my funny, entertaining jack
and her beloved mother and daddy 
in heaven.

i know she's in that place 
with her
Heavenly Father
where she can breathe...
where she can see again
where she can
enjoy all that is good 
forever and ever.

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Monday, April 13, 2015

perfectly imperfect...

when i saw this 
precious photograph of charly's 
 grandmother's tiny, imperfect 
in hers,
i smiled.
i knew a little of this
most perfect gift 
she was holding...


my parents divorced 
in the spring
before my freshman year.
mom wanted to lease a condo 
on the river, 
but the new complex was full.
so, she put her name on a waiting list 
and began looking for a place 
for us to live.
her company's physician 
heard she was looking and 
offered to let her rent 
a house he owned 
on hi-y drive.

when i heard, 
i was thrilled...
as i was friends with wendy,
who lived right next-door
to the house.
we moved in the week 
before school was to start.
always thoughtful and kind, 
wendy offered to let me 
ride to school with her.
i was thrilled...
as i hadn't ridden a school bus 
since second grade 
and was nervous 
about having to do so.

"are you sure your mom 
won't mind?" i asked.
"not at all," wendy assured.

so, for the next three months,
every morning,
mrs. monsen took us to school
at the bakery or hardees 
making sure 
we had breakfast. 

every morning 
for those three months
 i sat 
in the back passenger seat, 
talking to 
and laughing with wendy
and her mom... 
all the while
 secretly, in awe
paying close attention
to mrs. monsen's hands
as she drove us.

i remember the first time
i noticed something different
about her hands...
it was the morning 
of our first day of school.
mrs. monsen started her car.
on the radio,  
kenny rogers' and dolly pardon's
"islands in the stream" 
was playing.
wendy asked her mom 
to turn up the volume.
it was
when she did so,
i noticed
arthritis had attacked 
and mangled her hands.
they were so tiny and so deformed.
i didn't know how she was able 
to do anything with them.

however, she did.
over time i learned 
she continued to do it all;
and, yes, drove her car... 
like there was nothing wrong
at all.



one of the condominiums
came available
in november of that year.
before we moved,
i wanted to do something 
special for dear mrs. monsen.

(she probably didn't realize it,
but she had made 
my transitioning
after my parents' divorce
so much easier. 
she had been such a blessing
to me.)

so, mom and i went 
to o'daniel's flower shop,
which was completely stocked
for the holidays.
after looking at most everything
in the shop,
i picked out
what i thought was
the perfect  
Christmas candle arrangement
and asked them to deliver it 
to mrs. monsen  
to thank her,
for her kindness.

she loved it...
i loved that she loved it!


that was the last, real
contact i had with
mrs. monsen-
until memorial weekend
last year
i learned from wendy
her dad had died
my first thoughts 
turned to dear mrs. monsen. 
having kept in contact 
with wendy,
i knew time and disease
had continued 
to take 
their toll on her mom;
i knew her dad
was her mom's caregiver,
her rock...


i made sure to go
 to mr. monsen's funeral
to pay my respects
offer my condolences,
 love, and support
to wendy and her family.
when the service ended,
i made my way 
to the front of the sanctuary 
to speak to the family.

mrs. monsen was sitting 
in her wheelchair.
so, i knelt in front of her.
taking one of her 
fragile hands in mine
and began to introduce myself to her... 

me: hello, mrs. monsen.
i don't know if you remember me 
or not.
i'm dani dr..
mrs. monsen: dani! 
of course i remember you.

mrs. monsen began to tell 
me she was so happy to see me, 
she told me the importance 
of old friends, 
she thanked me for coming.

when i looked back down,
i noticed i was no longer 
holding her hand.
she was holding mine 
with both of hers.

her hold was one of the softest, 
kindest, most loving,
i had ever known. 
i realized 
she was the one comforting

it was sweet. 
it was simple.
it was a gift.

in that moment 
i was receiving another 
from this great lady. 

had there not been 
a line of people behind me,
i could have sat there with her 
all afternoon...

my hand in her 
perfectly imperfect hands.

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Monday, January 5, 2015

that smile...

i want to thank all 
my customers 
for a 
GREAT 2014,

which ended on this
very high note:

great big 
beautiful smile
 carried lane originals
over to the new year...


HAPPY 2015!

the bernina
has an appointment
to be dropped off 
for a tuneup
later this week.

in just a couple 
of weeks,
will be back...
uk, valentine,
and monogramming
designs and items.

i cannot wait!
can you?

love and God's blessings,

Thursday, November 27, 2014


it feels kind of 
kind of
that there isn't 
a sydney project
lying around
waiting in the wings.

after pressing,
dresses, bows, 
onesies, bloomers,
bibs, tops,
a tutu,
and sending that big box
of love on its way,
the #sydneycollection for 2014 
was complete.


what a sweet 
(to a crazy year)
God sent my way!

just one of the little things
in a 
i'm thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving!

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Friday, October 31, 2014

she can't reach...

after giving katherine a bath
and washing her hair,
she insisted on wearing her
"boy clothes"
(cutoffs and a tee shirt).
i had just started combing
her hair
when my aunt knocked
on the door.

sue came in with a halloween
gift for katherine,
a darling, halloween sweatshirt.
katherine couldn't wait 
for me to take off the tags
and put it on her.
she was giddy!

after putting the sweatshirt
on her,
i finished combing her hair,
parted it,
pulled the top part 
over to the side,
and put a band in it.
like clockwork,  
katherine immediately
ran her hand up to where
i'd banded her hair.

katherine: mama, i need a bow,
one that matches!

i looked at sue
and just shook my head...

me: well, let me go get 
you one!

sue laughed.

katherine always wore
a bow...
boy clothes or girl clothes
and it had to match!

i returned and
clipped her bow through
the holder and katherine
twirled around
modeling for us.
abruptly, though,
she stopped twirling
and looked over at me
arching her eyebrows.

katherine: i'm going to go 
get mabel to show aunt sue.

we had just brought
our sweet, stripey 
"mabel kitty" home
to live with us. 
katherine was chomping
at the bit to show her 


katherine was gone
for a few minutes. 

me: katherine, what are you doing?
katherine: i'm coming...
me: what's taking you so long?
katherine: i had to do something first!

in an instant,
there stood katherine
with mabel in tow.

sue: awwwweee, she's so cute,

katherine grinned,
a big, proud, cheese-eating

i noticed the fur on mabel's
head was wet.

me: katherine, why is mabel's
hair wet?

katherine handed mabel to sue,
came over to me,
 cupped her hand
around my ear,
leaned into me,
and whispered in my ear...

katherine: i washed her hair.
(thinking for a second, 
i knew katherine couldn't
reach any of the 
water faucets in the house.)
with what?
katherine: ummm...
me: with what, katherine?
she leaned back into me
and whispered.

katherine: with my tongue...

i pulled my head away
and looked at katherine
like, WHAAAT???

katherine: she can't reach.

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


the way i have maintained what little sanity i have left?

  i put all of what you're about to glean into perspective: 

on the lane, 
we have clean paper plates, plastic flatware, and 
running water (just not in the kitchen)
 we are neither at war with isis nor ebola (yet)
and we have a LOT for which to be thankful!


after having gone through 
nearly 6 months
of a remodel from hell...


-from having to nearly
beg our contractor 
to do what we wanted
him to do...
-to him doing some 
of what we wanted 
him to do
 but only half-assed...
-to him (admittedly so) 
our replacement-window money
leaving us 
to pay for our windows 
(in lieu of having a lien 
placed on our house),
-to my and my grandmother's
engagement rings, 
my and john's wedding bands,
my silver punch bowl,
and katherine's watch 
all being stolen...
-to my suffering through
7 weeks of 
"the worst case 
of shingles"
anyone had ever seen,

we were
a bright spot!


a week ago yesterday
our quartz installers arrived
with our kitchen and vanity
counter tops.

 not only to be getting
the beautiful new tops
but, more importantly,
to finally have 
running water
in the kitchen 
after nearly 5 weeks
of not!

they were unable to install
the vanity top
because my bathroom 
sink needed
new shutoff valves,
they skipped the bathroom 
and installed the kitchen
counter tops.

installer: well, do you like it?
me: like it? i LOVE it;
installer: great! 
so, all we have left to do
is drop in your sink.
where is it?

awkward silence...

me: uh, it was supposed
to come with the counter top?

he looked through his paperwork. 

installer: no, only your vanity top 
comes with a sink.
me: hmm, lowes told me 
this one was supposed 
to come with an under-mount?
installer: ma'am, that hole will
not support an under-mount;
it was cut for a drop-in sink.


later that afternoon,
after a discussion with lowes,
i told them we would be willing 
to settle for a drop-in...
as we were past ready
to have running water
in our kitchen, right!!?!?

that evening
john and i went to lowes
to retrieve our sink
and purchase supplies 
for the plumber.


bright and early,
last wednesday morning,
mr. butts (our plumber) 

he asked me to show him 
all we needed him to do.
i obliged.
after showing him 
the bathroom and 
he reassured me
that was going to be
no problem,
i lead him 
into our kitchen.
upon seeing 
the sink hole,
he told me the sink
was not going to fit.

me: are you sure?
mr. butts: i don't think it will,
but i'll try it.

when he dropped the sink 
into the hole and it looked
like it fit,
i breathed a sigh of relief.
my relief was short-lived;
as the two of us lay
with our heads resting
on the cabinet base
looking up at the sink.
with his flashlight,
mr. butts directed
me to look at the 
three sides of the sink
which could be secured
to the counter top
and then 
to the fourth...
which could not.


30 minutes later, 
lowes' manager and staff,
mr. butts, and i stood
staring at the hole
in our new,
beautiful counter top.
the best solution
was to reorder the quartz,
which meant...
3 more weeks without 
kitchen plumbing.

after the lowes' folks
left, i walked into
the bathroom where mr. butts
lay with his head inside 
my vanity.

i sat down on the side
of the bathtub
at mr. butts' feet.

me: mr. butts, meester berrong
may be thinking,
"no news is good news,"
right about now,
but he'd be wrong
(no pun intended)."

i giggled...


a week later,
i don't know how this install
is going to go
(hopefully well).
what i do know is...
 instead of the new tops
arriving in 2 weeks
(we are already
a week out from 
last week's debacle),
it's going to be at least
3 more
because as of monday
when the quartz company
called about the vanity
the kitchen counter had
not yet been reordered...



in case you were wondering...

we fired our contractor, 
have received no
compensation for our windows. 
filed a police report-
though none of our stolen items 
have been recovered, 
are still eating on paper plates
with plastic flatware.

stay tuned...

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Thursday, July 31, 2014

time capsule...

there is currently
a corner, pantry cabinet
occupying our kitchen.

on the inside,
it stretches from our countertop 
all the way up to above
our 8ft. ceiling.
it is 3ft. wide
and 3ft. deep.
it's always held
holiday, paper
napkins and plates
(on the 5th/top shelf),
a case or two
of sterno canisters
and plastic 
cups and dinnerware
(on the 4th shelf),
boxes of
pasta, rice, cereal,
and cake/brownie mixes
(on the 3rd shelf),
can goods
and jars of 
peanut butter, jellies,
relishes, chutney,
special sauces
(on the 2nd shelf),
large containers of
sugars, flour, nuts,
oils, cooking sprays,
(on the 1st/bottom shelf).

(this cabinet,
though large,
has never been
very convenient...
as a matter of fact,
we have needed
to use a stepstool
in order 
to reach anything above
the third shelf.)




it is empty.



dale is going to take off
the door and frame,
replace them
with a large piece
and mud it closed.



before dale performs
his magic,
we are going to place
items inside the cabinet
in order to create
a sort of time capsule.

in this time capsule,
we will place 
indicative of 
our life on the lane:
today's newspaper,
low end currency (;-),
a can of die coke,
a bottle of wine,
one of katherine's baby blankets,
an old ball cap of johns,
a pair of my pajamas,
one of maggie's old collars,
a copy of this month's
kentucky monthly,
maybe a few other
odds and ends...

do you have any

love and God's blessings,
dani xxx

Sunday, July 6, 2014

chronic shingles...

shingles (herpes zoster)

two weeks ago yesterday 
i noticed i was getting 
a new case of shingles 
(4th case since the first of the year)
on my chin.
as you know 
if you follow me,
i have chronic shingles 
(and have had since i was 14),
which occur more 
and more often 
the older i get.

at first 
this case was no different...
itchy, burny, fevery,


a few days later,
i noticed i had several 
shingle blisters on my belly!


i had already started taking 
which was drying up the ones
on my face.
it was not touching the ones
spreading all over my stomach.


i called my doctor's office 
but could not get an appointment. 
then i called my dermatologist's office. 
unable to get in for nearly week,
i went ahead 
and made an appointment.

frustrated and miserable, 
i called a local naturopathic physician.
he squeezed me in that afternoon.

when i arrived,
he took me right back 
to an examining room.

doctor: (looking at my chin) 
what have you done 
to get so stressed?
me: i'm not here about the 
shingles on my face.
i'm here about these.

i raised my shirt.

doctor: oh, my God!
(he stared at my rash.)
i need to get my 
magnifying glasses.

(i got a little nervous.)

the doctor returned
wearing said glasses.
he put on a pair of 
latex gloves,
turned on the glasses'
and studied 
my blisters.
as he backed away,
he took off his gloves
removed his glasses.

doctor: well,
i have bad news...
you're too late;
i cannot do anything for you.
you have blisters,
which have already popped.
me: but they ARE shingles?
doctor: yes, they are definitely

(i breathed a sigh of relief.)

the naturopath took 
time to talk to me 
about my general health.
he gave me pointers about
a vitamin regiment 
i should try to
so i might be able to keep
the shingles at bay.



for days
my shingles continued
to divide and multiply;
they spread up to just below
my neck
and down
to just above my belly button.

i shared the above picture
with the 2 d's
to see what they thought.
dana, the nurse,
asked if i was sure they were
as they had crossed 
my center line.
(honestly, i was still wondering 
the same thing.)
i told her my naturopath 
said they were. 


i thought my derm appointment
time would never get here.
but, finally,
it did.

the nurse called my name,
and i followed her back 
to an examining room.

nurse: how are you today,
me: actually, i feel terrible;
i'm miserable!
nurse: oh, no what's the matter?

i proceeded to tell her.

after i told her,
she handed me a gown
and told me she'd get my derm
and would soon return.

when the two came in,
i was gowned and waiting
in the examining chair.

derm: hi, dani, i hear you have a rash...


derm: let's raise your gown 
and have a look at it.

as i started raising my gown,
i heard my derm gasp
(oh, yes, she did),
which caused the nurse
to turn around and take notice.
she gasped too
(oh, yes, she did).

i looked quickly at the derm 
and turned toward her nurse.
me: i told you.
i wasn't kidding.
nurse: (still staring at my torso)
no, you weren't.

the derm asked me to tell
her the whole story again.
she asked the nurse to get her
what she needed to do
 viral and bacterial 

after taking the cultures,
the derm asked her nurse 
to take pictures.
when she'd gotten all
the images she needed,
my derm left the room
and was gone for some time.

when she returned,
she told me she'd never
personally seen what i had
on my trunk.
she went on to tell me
the shingles virus
i had on my chin
had apparently settled in
a small heat rash i had
on my stomach...
and spread


was still spreading!

she prescribed a very
aggressive treatment of
and a topical antiviral
(which, thankfully, my dear pharmacist 
was able to compound for me!).

three days in,
i think i'm finally getting this
thing under control!



THIS will NEVER happen again!
the vitamin b complex
and weekly chicken liver meal 
will keep my shingles 
at bay.

if you are reading this
because you've happened
onto my blog because 
you, too, have chronic shingles
the vitamin b and chicken liver
thing will help
you too!

if it does,


love and God's blessings,
dani xxx