A Trip into my Cotton Wool of life

I found this term, “the cotton wool of life”, once in an anthology of best practices for professional development for educators.  The book is now lost but Hannah Arendt was attributed.  The phrase appealed to me and I have often mused about the meaning.  I believe it refers to the most basic aspects of life.  When we loose the basics of life upon which we rely I think our battle to “Keep Moving” becomes exponentially more difficult.  My cotton wool of life during the month of June virtually froze my writing.  I could not face my blog, even though I have so much research collected and much to say to encourage us mobility challenged folk to “Keep Moving”.  So, this post will serve me to open to an unwelcome but necessary write (all pun intended) of life.

“It is about the comings and goings of the sacredness of life”.  Please don’t quote me.  I borrowed this from someone else.”, one good friend said.  Another friend exclaimed, “Next year we just won’t do June.  Too painful to recall.  We will just ignore it!”

But celebrate next June, I will, just without the best man ever in my bed.


His demise actually started two days before Memorial Day weekend.  My mother walked him and came inside saying, “Diana, Oliver is limping!”.  Each day of the holiday, Oliver, my 9-year-old, French Bulldog, grew worse.  Until, forced to find another veterinarian on a holiday weekend, it was difficult.   Of course, his lifelong vet was swamped.  When I found a Vet,  I received the bad news.  Oliver had spinal deterioration, a loss of myelin in the fiber of his spine.  His discs were rubbing up against each other.  Perhaps, a course of steroids would help, otherwise, we were looking at around $11,000 and a long painful course of surgeries.  Memorial Day weekend was long and tedious the steroids made it no better.  Tuesday, June 1st we made it to his regular Vet.  The prognosis was the same.  I cradled his head in the crook of my arm, chanting,  “no more pain buddy”, while he slowly breathed his last breaths moving out of my life forever.

Oliver was a “Downtown Dog”.  Everyone knew him.  He was featured in the city insert of the Kansas City Star in an article about dogs living in the city.  At this time he was unusual there living on the second floor of a loft building.  I mean really where did dogs go?  He had his favorite parking lot in an alley.  He had his friends across the street but downtown wasn’t populated with lofts yet.  Any first Friday the sidewalk would clear as people asked if they could pet him.  He would lay down and soak up the attention.  He never met a human he did not love.

He went to the dog park every day. We planned a blog on dog parks and photographed his favorite dog parks to encourage you to visit.  Dog parks are great places for impaired people with or without a dog. There is much research on the power of animals to bring out the best in humans.   Jackson County has some great dog parks.  Penn Valley Dog Park in downtown Kansas City has a generous cement patio easy to access on the small dog side.  You may sit for hours and watch the dog crew. They really don’t care if you acknowledge them or not but rest assured between dogs and their owners you will not be bored, personalities abound!

We went to several parks to photograph good spots for folks to go to catch a breeze, a laugh or a sniff or two.We went to dog parks to photograph good spots for folks to go to catch a breeze, a laugh, a sniff or two.

Oliver and his best buddies.  Note only Oliver sees the bubbles.  He would wear himself out chasing bubbles.  No one else cares.

A particularly lovely one and very easy to enter is Swope Park.  This is a huge place to take a drive, walk or enjoy the dogs in the leash free dog park.

This is the view from a bench just inside the dog park gate.  The last time we were there a young woman in a wheelchair was enjoying the spring sun.
This is the view from a bench just inside the dog park gate. The last time we were there a young woman in a wheelchair was enjoying the spring sun along with the romping dogs.

In Johnson County you will find another good spot at Stoll Park.  Situated in Overland Park it also has a nice area for you to enter to interact with nature or friendly dogs.  It has multiple paths to walk or roll down and a small area to sit just inside the dog park.

IMG_0315        IMG_0320

If you enjoy walking another dog park may be found at the end of Lee Boulevard.  Distinctively named “Leawoof”, the Leawood Dog Park may be found on the side of Indian Trail.  It has a dog agility course which provides no end to entertainment as owners and dogs stretch themselves to conquer the course.  Fenced with wood rails and nestled in the woods it is a very scenic spot with many interesting dogs and antics.

This is a great area to walk the long trail from the parking lot over a scenic bridge.
This is an excellent area to walk the long trail from the parking lot over a scenic bridge.
Oliver and I had many, many good times here.

But wait…the month of June had much more in store for me.  When I said goodbye to Oliver I drove straight out to my mother’s house to recover. June was a busy month and Mom and I had plenty to do to move my loft sale forward.  I spent a couple of days there with her before I drove north to complete my research on St Joe for my next blog.  Upon my return, almost exactly a week to the day Oliver passed my mother came out of her bathroom ready to accompany me to my loft, saying she had the oddest thing happen.  She complained she had lost the use of her right arm while showering but she was fine now!  Our city outing turned out to be a visit to the Emergency Room.  This began a succession of strokes that wrenched her from me June 24th.  We had all of these trips planned and she was so excited to be part of finding good spots for me to write about.

Me and Gram on Mother’s Day at one of our favorite spots The Latin American Restaurant.  Between Noland Road and Lee’s Summit Road on 40 Hiway.  The cook makes the lightest tamales!  My distinguished crown was a present from my grandchildren for Mother’s Day.

Destinations that she loved to visit with me were often gardens or nurseries.  Jackson and Johnson Counties not only have many wonderful parks to visit but some spectacular nurseries. Horticulturists make huge walkways to accommodate large displays of luscious plants inside and out. Inadvertently, local growers create wonderful vistas for us to roll or stroll about.  Winter, spring, summer, or fall the most wonderful colors are right there for us to soak up inside and out.  Who can feel trapped by any sadness or physical limitations when you are surrounded by such exquisite specimens of life?

This plant greets you upon arriving at the entryway of Heartland Nursery and Garden Center on the south side of I-470 traveling into Lees’s Summit on View High Drive.

An example of those huge walkways is found in the photo below.  You can roam for hours here.  Remember to layer your clothing as the inside greenhouses get quite warm!

Seasons never matter in this area as these indoor plants beg to go home with you.

Another one of Gram’s favorite haunts may be found on Roe Boulevard just north of I-435. Suburban Lawn and Garden makes another beautiful outing.

Big wide areas to roam amidst bright pots and lush tropical house plants.

While I know it is September now, I am still saying goodbye to June.  It is helpful to me to use some of the research two of my biggest crutches helped me collect.  I’ve got to keep moving, too painful to stop.

A window garden that resulted from some of our nursery outings.  The crystal Buddha smiles upon each morning’s essential Yoga stretches.  Namaste.

See you in St. Joe next I must finish what I started there well before my June trip into the cotton wool of life.

The Fragile Traveler






One thought on “A Trip into my Cotton Wool of life

  1. So many things of beauty flowing through your cotton wool of life! Wish I had known about all these wonderful spaces when I lived in KC. I will be back to hangout in friendly parks with living beings of all kinds. You must come visit and report upon the Papermaker’s Garden in my ‘hood in Chicago, sponsored by Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts offering graduate programs in the Interdisciplinary Arts Department.


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