Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I'd be hard-pressed to identify a happier day than 
December 12, 1969 
when I woke to hear, "You've a beautiful boy!"

The days flew so quickly ... 
1st birthdays are very important, don't-cha know!

I think this was the year Troy became lost at the Galleria ....

Celebrating #18 with Grandma.
Every year my mom gifted Troy a can of cashews ...
and I've kept the tradition alive in her memory.
("Nuts from Heaven", if you will.)

Where did the time go?
These days, my son's a loving Family Man and small-business owner who calls Alabama "home."

Recently, when I posed the question, 
Would he like his childhood photo albums?, Troy quipped:

 "That would be great ... 
the girls need to know their dad wasn't always old and mean."  

Happy Birthday, son!!!

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, what I’ve put down in words ...
How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Why, hello again!  

Not counting the frenzy surrounding integrations at my workplace, I've been suffering from a bad case of SLACKER-itis here on the home-front!
 .... followed closely by the "should'ves" and "could'ves."  (sigh)

Just curious.   How are your Christmas gift-lists progressing?  

Personally, I'm NOT fond of shopping in stores.     Long before the internet became my obsession, I was -- and remain -- a big fan of Christmas catalogs.

My first!
If only in my dreams!

Regardless of cost, I've always clung to the fantasy of being the bearer of THAT gift which would produce a gasp of delight ... a belly laugh, even. (Daydream believer ... yep.)

And when did it become socially-acceptable .... expected even, to demur when asked "What would you like?"     I'm thinking how delightful it would be to witness mature (ahem!) guys n' gals let their inner children out to play, and write long lists for Santa.  

I'm so blessed to recall some fantastical moments from holidays past ... and may share a few in the coming weeks.    But right now, I'm aching for some inspiration.
Are you more inclined to gift something a loved one wants ... or, what they need?  

Any secrets up your sleeve this year?  ... or secret yearnings?    I promise not to tell!



Friday, November 16, 2012

In the President's Secret Service

A recent e-mail began, "If you want to know what a rich man is like, ask his servants…"

Goodness!   My mind's appetite was practically sitting up and begging.    (Yes, I've probably watched "The Bodyguard" one time too many! ... lol.)

Note to self, "Buy that book!"

One review begins ...

"Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents ........... Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time."

My impressions?

Never mind what side of the aisle you prefer, I think there's enough "fodder" in Ronald Kessler's book to enlighten and surprise even the most jaded amongst us.

Anecdotal snippets of life in and around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. had me LAUGHING out loud in places ... shaking my head in others.

Reassured ....that my all-time favorite First Lady is regarded so highly.

Saddened ... that another favorite Lady of the manor wasn't so nice after all.

Shocked .... at a former VP's public dressing down one of his children:  "If you don't do well in school and don't find a good job, you might wind up like one of those guys." (Gestures to his Service detail)."
(.... now, wouldn't that make a fella willing to take a bullet in the line of duty?)

OK.  I was probably hoping for a salacious, tell-all book about life behind closed doors.
While there's plenty of personal stories to amuse (or irritate) ....  inter-agency politics n' posturing is right there as well.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Kessler's book, it also prompted me to look back and chuckle at my own naivete' when confronted by the Secret Service at my workplace.   (A long, long time ago in a land far away.)


On a personal note, baby Guca finally arrived Monday morning, happy n' healthy!   While she wasn't given a name for several days (aaaargh!), we're excited to go meet our #9 grand, little miss Vivian Kelly tomorrow.
Thanks for all your well-wishes, and have a blessed weekend!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

FAM Trip!

The other morning, my coworker and I stood shivering in the pre-dawn, ready to board a tour bus for the "Old Pueblo."    Now, I've never claimed to have even a passing interest in science ... but this Tucson excursion was, after all, COMPLIMENTARY.   

In spite of my lack of (sufficient) caffeine -- and those who I quickly deduced weren't "morning people" -- our cheery driver soon won everyone over.    Don't you love a fella who makes unscheduled pit stops without being asked - lol!   

Oh, but I would have liked to stop at Picacho Peak  -- one of the prettiest vistas along the I-10 corridor.     

(Stock photo)
Picacho Peak marks the western-most battle of the American Civil War (April 15, 1862).

...Another day, perhaps.

Having registered downtown, we boarded another bus to the Oro Valley and Biosphere 2.

This controversial (and costly) project was "the last serious attempt to lock people away in a sealed environment to simulate the claustrophobic conditions of a space base on a distant planet."

"Planet in a Bottle"

The mission began in September 1991 and finished two years and 20 minutes later.

4 men and 4 women lived among replica ecosystems: a cloud forest, savanna grassland, a desert, ocean, and marshes.   Each day's diet was comprised of bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, and rice.   (My inner carnivore wept!)

Yikes ... I don't think so!!!

While our guide informed us the Biospherians had made a pact, "What happened there, stayed there" ... others disagree:  "Before the first closure mission was half over, the group had split into two factions and people who had been intimate friends later became enemies, barely on speaking terms."

Later our conversation included this poser: "Would you do it?"  
Even were I so inclined, I don't believe I could wrap my mind around the idea of being IMPRISONED ... limited to any physical contact with the "outside" world.

Come day's end, I was startled when our driver excited the freeway ... in middle of NO-WHERE.
Ah-ha!  The Marana airport graveyard!
But straight ahead ... an imposing gate's signage read, "Authorized Personnel Only."

Not to be deterred, our driver veered left and around the side of a neighboring farmhouse.   Feeling mischievous, are we?

Covered head-to-toe in dust, tasting the dust ...  
We were still delighted to traipse up and down the flight-line...
Feeling almost truant!  


All in all, a fun time.  I have to admit, it felt good to step outside my ordinary.

Are you, perhaps, interested in visiting Biosphere 2?   
I've TWO tickets with YOUR name on it ...  first-come, first-served! :)

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What's your name little girl?

Gooooood morning friends!

I could resist sharing a recent image of our youngest g'daughter enjoying the State Fair.
At 19 months, "no-fear Audrey" is pretty amazing.   Ya, ya -- I'm prejudiced, but have never known a child who best defines the term, "enthusiastic"!   (Which reminds me of her learning to escape via the doggy-door at 6 months..... but that's a whole 'nother tale best saved.)

Both she and her big brother can't wait for their new little sister to arrive .... any day now!

Almost 2 years ago when our DIL was expecting, there came the usual chatter:  How will Mitchell react to the competition?
Never mind.   As it turned out, she wasn't a mere sister.   Audrey was HIS baby.
 ... and so it goes.

"I've got this handled."

For fear of humiliation, I probably couldn't admit this to my co-workers.  BUT, I love baby showers  .... especially those corny games!    Yesterday afternoon, the elders n' I sat there stuffing our faces with all sorts of yummy confections, giggling at our feeble (at best) game-playing efforts.

Privately, I was disappointed we weren't asked to play "name the baby."  Being a veteran of several baby showers just this year, I'd done my homework:

Drum-roll .....
Caroline, or Emelie, or Valerie, or Natalie, or Shea  

Yes, once upon a time, I expected I'd have lots and LOTS of daughters.   Their names changed as frequently as my shoe size, but those 5 have endured.

Couldn't help cracking up at this image from DIL's FB page last evening.   Soon after I'd left, the children discovered the unattended chocolate fountain.

Yikes, those hands!
Mitch reportedly told his sister, "Audrey, I'll lick you."  

The jury-of-two are still out on a given name.   Mom and Dad won't make that decision until they meet her.    
Now I've shared my suggestions .... would you like to add yours?

While we go about our new day and new week, please join me in holding all those in the path of Hurricane Sandy in your prayers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


So, I was relating a story to DH the other night when my tongue became stuck on the word "friend."

"Well, not a friend-friend exactly ... kinda an acquaintance, but lots better.  Umm, you know, the kind who ....
....What was I talking about again?"

When I stop trying to define things ... I realize I'm incredibly blessed by all those I'm privileged to call friend!   In fact, I feel closer to some who I've never met ... or may never meet again, than those with whom I regularly brush shoulders.

Blame it on "old age" (lol) ... but lately I've felt a tug to gather some loose ends.  May I share a personal success story?

During a somewhat tumultuous season in my life almost 40 years ago, my co-worker extended an invitation to come stay with she and her family for a few weeks.  Their little home in West Texas' back country was little more than a chilly shack, but all I recall was the laughter and the love.
Not a year later, "B" and the children arrived on my doorstep to announce they were leaving her alcoholic husband/father and headed to California.
Caught up in a new marriage, new job and new friends, I wished them well and gave it little thought .... believing we'd always be a part  of each others' lives.    (Ever have that feeling?)

Coming across an old photograph a few years back, I made up my mind to try and locate "B."   So sure of myself and the Internet, I hadn't counted on folks' ability to drop off the face of the earth were they so inclined.
All the same, my amateur sleuthing paid off -- in of all things, her ex's on-line obituary!     I'd like to say the rest was easy, but those darn threads kept getting in the way or simply led to dead-ends.

Finally, last fall --  a stranger's name on Facebook.  Maybe, possibly married to "B's" daughter.  
Feeling somewhat foolish, I sent a message.   Nothing.   OK, he probably thinks I'm some whack job and deleted my inquiry.

Then, out-a the blue I had a response last month, apologizing for the delay.   Yes, "B"  is his mother-in-law, and yes he would send her my information.
An e-mail from a far-away city arrived soon after and contained an invite to phone.

Folks, I hardly slept the night before -- suddenly unsure of myself and what I might say.   ("Hey, want to get together and TP some trees for old times sake?")

Actually "B" beat me to the punch.   She, too, had misgivings, but had prayed about her decision to respond.   Tho' I'd never have recognized her voice, the humor and positive look on life  was still intact.    What a surprise to learn, "B" had dug herself out of a hardscrabble situation, first winning her GED, then a college and master's degree.    Recently retired from the legal field, she's fresh from an ugly divorce, with very good reason to keep off the social media scene.

Want to hear something unbelievably ironic?   Between 1977 and today, "B" and I lived in the same cities, both in Florida and here in Arizona.    

I'll admit, it was sobering to realize we've each changed and grown up.   Not necessary for the better. Still, I feel incredibly better for having connected the dots.
~ ~ ~

Sid Simon once addressed the different kinds of friends each of us needs to reap in his/her life.   Darn, for the life of me I can't find that passage ... but I love his categorizations:

There's the Confidante ..... the Intelligence Stretcher .....the Adventure Bringer ....the Role Model, and of course, the Chicken Soup Bringer.

I suppose our roles change depending on the relationship.

In which role do you see yourself most of the time?

Please take good care of yourselves out there!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


So, while I was struggling to wedge my foot into a stiff new pair of pumps the other morning, my father's voice intruded...

Use. Your. Shoehorn!

.... oh Dad, come on!   I don't know where it is!   Besides, I'm not a little kid anymore.

To be perfectly honest, I've never really subscribed to those who claim to communicate with those who've gone before.   (Perhaps I'm envious?)

All the same, I can sure identify with Chris Young's song lyrics:

You could say I'm a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin' 'round with all these whispers
Runnin' 'round here in my brain
I just can't help but hear 'em
Man, I can't avoid it

Am I the only one with a "chatty closet"?
My wardrobe could hardly be described as expansive ... but purge I must!

Some decisions are easy-peasy.   That pantsuit which left me feeling like a giant cantaloupe, or the way in which those too-small jeans giggled and mocked.

Then, there are the difficult goodbyes.   A new (to me) ensemble which caught my mother's practiced eye years ago.   In a rare moment of clarity, she'd smiled, "That looks so well on you!"    It was also the outfit I happened to be wearing that last morning.    This may sound silly, but I finally had to carry it to the trash ... every time I spotted it hanging there, I'd hear her voice.   (And it's really hard getting ready for work when your eyes won't stop leaking.)

Of course, there are a few pieces with which I'll never part.
There's a red cocktail dress that hangs in the far recesses, but its presence always makes me smile:  That summer of '83, when -- for the first/last time in my life -- I  felt almost pretty.   And I hear a special dark-eyed man whisper, "Cara mia."

Sometimes I try to ignore 'em
But I thank God for 'em
'Cause they made me who I am

Perhaps you have a seemingly-ordinary article of clothing with a host of memories attached?

.... I'm curious:   Do you relegate your "chatty" pieces to storage ... a sort of purgatory?
Or, are you braver than me, and rip that bandage off, quick-like?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Calmer heads

Like many others, I keep mental roster titled, 'Those I Admire.'

Until recently, however, I totally overlooked a big one!   Well, not a "one", exactly -- rather, thousands of them.  

Normally unseen, these individuals' voices convey such an amazing sense of calm.

Do you recall hearing of that near-miss over one of our nation's largest airports a few weeks ago?  
What struck me the most was the sound-bite of Air Traffic Control, calmly redirecting the incoming aircraft to #-blah#-blah#-blah#.
.... as if she were reciting a weather forecast.

Later to DH:
"I'd probably been screaming, Get out-a the way!   Turn right!,  No, my right!"   (That's presuming I could even form a sentence.)

And the 911 operators!   Goodness.   In spite of my absurd fascination with emergency responders, I'd be a poor candidate.  

The list goes on......

Privately, I used to believe those individuals were emotionally removed from the rest of us.  OK, I'll say it out-loud:  Dispassionate.

One of my closest allies at work is a former paramedic/fire fighter.   Despite our camaraderie, I was suspect of K's oddball sense of humor, even sarcasm, recalling emergency scenarios.   Finally one day she admitted, "If you allow something to 'get' to you, even for a minute, you're finished.
Then, "One can help ... or be part of the problem."    

So simple, really.  They've the ability to control their emotions.

While there's little chance I'll be changing my stripes at this stage of the game, I'm incredibly grateful for those with calmer heads!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wow.  Can you believe we're smack dab in the middle of September!?!

Thus far, I've been a nutritional overachiever.
You see, there's been much to celebrate!


 DH and I kicked off the Labor Day weekend (our 8th anniversary) at a new Southwest-inspired steakhouse.

Since the "deal" (love Groupon!!!) included a bottle of wine, he was even persuaded to sample a glass.

....Either that, or he'd finally grown tired of my playing amateur cardiologist -- going on (and on) about the benefits of fermented grapes.

I even ventured outside my comfort zone and was delighted by the macadamia-crusted chicken, with shitake mushroom cream and red chili.  

Let's see ... 
Then there was the celebratory broasted chicken, following the clean bill of health DH received from his cardio-guy.     

And finally ... 
Last week my GM and a few office pals planned a luncheon to celebrate my 10th anniversary.  To be perfectly honest, however, I'd a few misgivings re. their preferred venue. 
You see, under this Mannered.Mature.Lady facade lies a little kid who still prefers a fat burger or ribs to tea sandwiches and scones.  

Given the news earlier that morning that our company has been purchased by an industry Giant, we were all eyeballing the wine list.  
....But given that same Fact-of-Life, my GM sighed, "We'd better behave ourselves."

When my plate arrived, the little brat inside my head was tempted to channel Clara Peller ("Where's the beef?").  
Beside me, Diana -- a zealous vegetarian -- was doing her best not to smile .... all the while sensing  the party about to take place on my taste-buds.    

Sometimes I love being proven wrong!  Gotta give props to those kitchen magicians who know what they're doing with organic, fresh herbs and spices!!!  
I may have to give it a test drive in our own kitchen.    

When was the last time you were delighted to have been proven wrong?   ...Have you any tidbits or advice for this carnivore?

Wishing everyone a yummy new week!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A little chicken soup ....

Do you recall the marvelous film adaptation of "Bridges of Madison County"?   Whether one agrees (or not) with its theme ... I was struck by Francesca's son and daughter's reaction upon reading their mother's journals after her death.  (We never knew .....)

Her prose seemed effortless -- dreams and disappointments laid bare, as if to say, "This. This is who I was."

Yes, I know "Bridges" is a work of fiction.
But some days ... well, most days, I second-guess my decision to blog....
rejecting ordinary moments as "unimportant" ... or worse, hitting that "publish" button before indulging in a therapeutic cooling-off period! :))

What's it all about, Alfie?

Then ... BAM!!!   Out of no-where, I had my answer:

Like so many of you, I'm a huge fan of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.   Like a laser-beam, one story was so (personally) powerful, I wrote the publisher, requesting permission to excerpt a portion*.  

She said 'Yes'!!!
So, without further ado ...

The author, Tony D'Angelo, recalls a collegiate Philosophy class ....

"Respond to the following questions by a show of hands," my professor instructed.

"How many of you can tell me something about your parents?"  Everyone's hand went up.

"How many of you can tell me something about your grandparents?"  About three-fourths of the class raised their hands.

"How many of you can tell me something about your great-grandparents?"  Two out of sixty students raised their hands.

"Look around the room," he said.  "In just two short generations hardly any of us even know who our own great-grandparents were.  Oh sure, maybe we have an old, tattered photograph tucked away in a musty cigar box or know the classic family story about how one of them walked five miles to school barefoot.  But how many of us really know who they were, what they thought, what they were proud of, what they were afraid of, or what they dreamed about?   Think about that.  Within three generations our ancestors are all but forgotten.  Will this happen to you?

"Here's a better question.  Look ahead three generations  You are long gone.  Instead of you sitting in this room, now it's your great-grandchildren.  What will they have to say about you?  Will they know about you?  Or will you be forgotten, too?

"Is your life going to be a warning or an example?  What legacy will you leave?   The choice is yours.  Class dismissed."

*From the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great 
by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark
Copyright 2008 by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.  Published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
Chicken Soup for the Soul is a registered trademark of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.  Reprinted by permission.  All rights reserved.

Friday, August 31, 2012

On a lighter note!

Do you ever pass by a mechanical pony or say, a shiny staircase banister and wish for a moment ... just a moment ... you were wee enough to hop on?

Look what I spotted last week at the nail salon!

What flavor looks best?
Calgon, take me away!

Tho' I've not witnessed any little ones actually having pedicures, I think they're onto something!  
Just wish I were still small enough to squeeze into that bear's lap!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears ... Oh my!


So, when I fretted to DH this evening, 
"There's Absolutely.Nothing.Happening(!) to merit a post" -- he just grinned and invited me, "Come look!"      

He knows I'm over the moon for wild animals ... especially bears.  
And supposing everyone enjoys a little "ahhhh" moment, I couldn't wait to share this improbable story!   

~ ~ ~

They make an unlikely trio, but "Baloo" the BEAR , "Leo" the LION, and "Shere Khan" the TIGER have forged an unusually strong bond.

Considering that they would be mortal enemies if they ever were to meet in the wild, it is stunning to see their unique and genuine friendship in these intimate pictures.

Rescued 8 years ago during a police drug raid in Atlanta , Georgia - the 3 friends were only cubs at the time at barely two months old.

They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.
Delivered to the Noah's Ark Animal Rescue Centre in Locust Grove , Georgia , the decision was made to keep the youngsters together, because of their budding rapport.
"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the Zoo decided to keep them together," said Diane Smith, assistant director of Noah's Ark.

Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight years - Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose-built habitat where the US public can now witness first hand their touching relationships.

It is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1000lb bear, Shere Khan, a 350lb tiger and Leo, the Lion, who is also 350lbs, messing around like brothers.

They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends.

Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo's owners and founders, the three friendly giants appear to have no comprehension of their animal differences.

"Baloo and Shere Khan are very close," says Diane.
That is because they rise early, and as Leo is a lion, he likes to spend most of the day sleeping.

It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.

When Leo wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food.

Surprisingly for three apex predators with the power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed around each other.

"They eat, sleep and play together," said Jama.

As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.
Explaining that the three 'brothers' have always seemed to share a unique bond, Charles said: 'Noah's Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other.

And how are YOU getting along with YOUR neighbors today

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What's your number?

"That's it!  I'm coming to live at YOUR house!!!"

In response to our raised voices, my GM sticks her head around the corner ...  as Ms. Human Resources chuckles self-consciously:   "Well, I'm not really sure, but I think we keep our thermostat set at 65."  

Oh yeah, it's been an incredibly uncomfortable Summer.  I don't suppose anyone feels immune ... or doesn't long for a nip of Fall.  

Did you happen to see the January(?) issue of Reader's Digest?   I was incredulous to read one expert's advice (that) the "best sleep" occurs when keeping the thermostat at 65 degrees.   (I could only conclude the good Doctor must hold a major interest in some Public Utility!)

It turns out, my co-worker's estimate was off by nearly 20 degrees.

While DH and I've (reluctantly) compromised on a #77 ... I'm always on the lookout for other ways in which to save electricity.
Since learning of kitchen fires begun by dishwashers, we no longer run that machine at bedtime ...if at all.   The clothes dryer normally begins work at 3:30AM.  

"Things could always be worse."   As a child, I used to roll my eyes at Mother's adage ... yet, it's now become my own mantra.    No question, things could always - and might very well become worse.

And I'm reminded of a sweet story by Yehudit Channen -- which hit me like the proverbial "ton of bricks."   May I share an excerpt?

Another one of our members is a Holocaust survivor named Abby, who survived the war by living in a Christian orphanage.  One morning the lady who sits next to her kept repeating, "Help me, help me.  Somebody help me."
Abby, who no longer recognizes her only son, leaned in close to the other.  "What is it dear?", she asked.  "Are you scared?  We are all in this together.  You just have to make the best of it and stay out of trouble."

Great advice, no?
We are all in this together.  Thank you for helping me make the best of it!

... and have yourselves a wonderful week!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

They're baaack!

Must admit, I groaned out-loud last week when I turned a corner and spotted THIS.  (Is it just me, or do children move  S-L-O-W-E-R on purpose these days?)

It's hard to make out here (someone needs to wash her windshield) ... but do you see the lady standing alongside the bus door?   As I passed, she wasn't bothering to disguise the tears rolling down her face.   Her first child? ... the baby?  
Ya, I've a bad habit of weaving stories around perfect strangers' facial expressions.

What do you remember about YOUR first day of school?

For some strange reason, all I recall is poor, pitiful Alice B. -- shrieking, screaming and clinging to her mother for dear life.
That, and a curious aroma I can best describe as eau de raincoats-n'-chalk.
Oh!  And the smell of that white, weird paste!  

Loved these boots with the elastic and buttons!

I nod n' grin like a bobble-head when reading others' recollections ...

...We got Schaefer's glue!  Loved that neat little bottle's slated rubber cap with a slit in it for application.

...School clothes!  1 dress, 2 skirts, 1-2 blouses, NO JEANS or SLACKS, and ONE pair of Buster Brown (sensible) shoes.  Of course, by Junior High we had P.E., so we had to have tennies for that.
And my personal favorite ...
What teacher would we be assigned?

Now, our return from summer vacation normally coincided with Labor Day.   So that evening -- me with bated breath -- we'd drive to check out Class Lists posted on the school's glass doors.    

Magic.Moments for sure.

When time of year did you start school?   I'd love to hear of your own magic moments!  

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Bad American?

So, I'd planned to share a few anecdotes and photos regarding the Budget Summit which recently concluded at my workplace.   
"Tom-foolery",  my elders used to say.
Given this morning's tragedy in Colorado, however, PPD crime scene tape and chalk body outlines seem in poor taste.

Like you, I'm still in a bit of shock and crazy sadness watching events play out in Aurora.

The mind's jumping ... presupposing how the "alleged" (geeze!) gunman's life will surely be extended; his actions somehow excused by psychologists and sympathizers.

It's times like this I wonder: Am I a "bad American"?  

"... with Liberty and Justice for all."
I've issues with that line.  Much the same way my tongue occasionally struggles with, " we forgive those who trespass against us."

OK, full-disclosure.   I've still a little bit of "guilty until proven innocent" going on upstairs.   (That nugget shared a long time ago by a lady who happened to be married to the District Attorney in our little West Texas town.)   
While my "grown-up" mind recognizes the sheer fallacy of that belief, it's obvious no-one in their right mind wants to see my face in their jury pool.   
....Just ask my hubby!

Of late, we've become hooked on watching NBC's Saturday Night Mysteries.   Knowing that a "spirited discussion" is likely, I suspect DH dreads each aftermath.   Don't even get me started on our discussions regarding a couple sensational murder trials of the last decade. - lol.

I can't help myself.   No doubt, any more than he can help being disgustingly Rational and prone to Facts.  Just the facts.    My arguments about "common sense" hold no weight ... and more than once I've gone to bed muttering, "I actually MARRIED this person?!?"      

Thankfully, we hold no malice towards each another.    And thankfully, calmer heads will prevail in Aurora.

There may be no answers and no swift conclusion.   Instead, I'll do my best to put aside my anger and offer my prayers for the victims and their families.   

And leave the rest to God.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wanted to drop by to wish everyone a very  Happy Independence Day

It's an unusually rainy day here in the Valley of the Sun ... just the sort of welcome excuse to stay in my pj's with a good book and a bowl of cereal.        

Just maybe, I should feel a little bad for those who were looking forward to poolside BBQ's or the city's annual celebration at Tempe Towne Lake.    Then again, those activities may still occur.   

While I dream of someday watching a fabulous fireworks display in 3D -- INSIDE an air-conditioned IMAX theater -- I love that the young (and young-at-heart) aren't afraid to run out and grasp LIFE with both hands.

It's all a state of mind.   And heart.   
May I share a favorite family anecdote?  

Ever the patriot, my dad was big on flying the flag on Special occasions.   
Now, ours being a government town, I think it was a bit unusual (that) more folks weren't acquainted with the "do's" and "don'ts" of flag etiquette.   Instead, they'd look to the Willer's front porch:  If our flag was displayed, they'd hurry to put theirs out before leaving for work.   

Finally one afternoon, a neighbor approached my father.   Somewhat embarrassed, he asked, "What exactly are we commemorating today, Ad?"    To which my father replied, "It's Lum's birthday."
Remember, I said Special occasions?  To his way of thinking, each of our birthdays was reason to fly the U.S. Flag.    I'm not sure what the VFW would have to say about that, but I still chuckle imagining our neighbors inadvertently helping to commemorate my mother's birthday.

Wishing you ALL a special day of remembrance and celebration -- just the sort that makes your heart sing!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sentimental Journey

My father would have turned 100 years old today.
... and I'm frightened, because somewhere along the road I've forgotten his voice.

Daddy passed unexpectedly in 1981 ... long before the Internet became a daily fixture in our lives, before cell phones and video cameras were as commonplace as Kleenex.  

Since beginning my "cyber-journey" some 12 days ago, I've happily discovered that some tourist spots we visited in 1956 still exist.  In fact, I owe a BIG apology to those attractions in the Northeast which I carelessly labelled "lesser-known."

So, I've learned a few things about my folks through mother's journal ... including the fact they'd lived in Portland, ME at one time.   How they anticipated -- and enjoyed!!! -- revisiting a favorite restaurant.  

Regretfully, Boone's has shuttered its doors.
Isn't this menu a hoot?   ...anyone up for a plate of no-neck clams or seaweed greens?   
I especially love the footnote: "Visit our CLEAN, modern kitchen.  OUTSIDE our kitchen door we have some of the thinnest flies in Maine."

Perhaps, on account I've been in a 50 year-old time warp, their story of Boone's sparked a memory of my own:  
After moving to Florida in the 1980's, this "little voice" kept nagging me to locate a certain favored   restaurant ... the same one where (as family lore has it), I returned to the dessert bar for a THIRD banana split -- prompting the manager to bellow, "Someone, call a doctor!"

Wolfie's has since shuttered their doors in St. Pete.   But what fun, to find on-line comments from other enthusiasts!   I get the feeling this BIG old world isn't so big after all.

... Which makes me wonder, have you been blessed to revisit a favorite restaurant or hang-out?  
Or, do you think some things best left in our memories?  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pretty Babies

As some of you know, we just learned that DH's son and DIL are expecting this Fall ... our 9th grand!!!
I'm doing the happy dance over here because "it" is a SHE!   Not to take anything away from little boys ... but grand-daughters are the best since sliced bread!

I never was blessed with a sister (or brother for that matter), but used to fantasize about belonging to a large family ... especially if "multiples" were involved.   

You see, Grandma Hanson kept a special scrapbook devoted to Dionne Quintuplets.  Any time we'd visit the farm, I used to make a bee-line for that book  ... spending hours devouring it's nearly 100 pages. 
"Lucky ducks!" -- that's how I used to refer to Marie, Emelie, Cecile, Annette and Yvonne.

Obviously, I was too young to grasp the tragic circumstances surrounding their early lives.  Even their mother, stunned by the premature arrival of 5 babies was quoted as having said, "People will think we're pigs."    Isn't that sad?!?

When Grandma passed, she had little in the way of material things to bequeath.   But, she'd remembered my fascination with the "pretty babies" -- making sure that book would go to her only granddaughter.   
Love the bonnets!

  ... yes, 41 years later I can still be found on occasion, smiling and remembering time spent with Grandma and her "special" book.      

Emelie ... still my all-time favorite girl's name.
Do ya think it might have had anything to do with this picture?
Those eyelashes!!!

Thank heaven for little girls!    

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Road Trip!

Oh, but I wish we were preparing to hit the road!  Unfortunately, a get-away's not in the cards this year.

Instead, I thought it might be fun to take a Sentimental Journey.

56 years ago tomorrow, my mother's journal began: "Left the hill at 7:10a.m., a beautiful morning!"

UNbelievable, isn't it?????

 600 mi. later that evening -- her lovely penmanship recounts our having enjoyed steak dinner ($2.35) in Oklahoma City, then driving downtown "to see the stores."

(A Google image look-alike.)
... and so it goes.
The cost of each breakfast/lunch/dinner, motel and toll-road are dutifully noted.

Throughout the Midwest ... Washington, DC .... New York City ... New England  .... Nova Scotia and PEI before before having to turn around.  

Unfortunately, I remember nothing -- but take a ridiculous delight in reading the menus, ticket stubs and pamphlets carefully scotch-taped to these yellowing pages.

So, I've this crazy notion to see if any of the lesser-known attractions still exist!  What fun to rediscover The Flume at Liberty Gorge or New Brunswick's "Magnetic Hill."    Wouldn't it be coincidental if our paths had crossed way back when?

I'll let you know what I find!  
Meanwhile, I'd better do some "virtual" packing!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Just wondering ...

So, I'd recently concluded a visit with my Nurse Practitioner, when I summoned the nerve to ask,  "Ummm.  I know it's been a few years, but, er ....what am I supposed to call you?"
Then, there was a sweet smile and a reassurance, "Just call me Ermese."
Just like that?   OK, that wasn't so hard.

Am I the only one who struggles from time-to-time ... trying to toe that fine line between over-familiarity and "Miss Manners"?     

There's a given:
Thou Shalt Not greet one's cardiologist, "Hey, Mitch."    
Others are obviously, well.... less obvious.   

For instance?   Part of my job duties includes responding to guests' comment cards.  As some of you know, one of my BIGgest pet-peeves are form letters beginning, "Dear valued blah-blah-blah."    
So, I attempt to personalize each note -- given what information's available and, of course, their observations.   

My go-to instinct is, "Dear Mr.(Mrs.)(Ms.)."    
But, that's toooo easy!   
Off the top of your head, how many unisex names can you recall?   ...Not to mention those which beg for a vowel! .....   Have you ever heard of a man named "Erin"?   (Yes, really.)

I may never forget the Nasty gram I received a few months back, in response to my "Dear Mr. and Mrs.".    As it turned out, "Pat" and "Chris" were not he/she -- but two wedded "shes" -- who, as my mom used to say, "let me have it."

Ya, I should have bigger things to worry about.:(   
But it's not without a little misgiving, I'll address a stranger by their first name, without first being invited to do so. 

Let's play, "YOU be the judge."
How you feel about being called by your first name by a stranger?   Would you be offended? .... or am I busy collecting mole-hills?

Have a great weekend ... stay COOL and stay SAFE, please?      



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When I grow up ...

... speaking of graduations, have you ever attended a pre-school or kindergarten ceremony?

My gal-pal shared a favorite moment when her little granddaughter's name was called and asked in turn, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Most likely, I'm a bit envious of their assurance, their unwavering vision of what the future holds.   You know, before Real Life comes knocking.  

Once upon a time, I had my heart set on becoming a cowgirl ...  living next door to Spin and Marty  ... riding the range all the live-long day.
A year later, I thought it more sensible to follow in daddy's footsteps (lol).  

I don't recall ever dreaming of becoming an pseudo air-traffic controller / court jester in a busy office.   In fact, I don't suppose there are a lot of folks fortunate enough to be living their dream.   

So we do what's necessary ... hopefully, with a smile.

All the same, I'm curious.   
What did the little child you once were want to be when she grew up?    

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


So, when I think of my precious grand-daughters preparing for their final exams ... I'm reminded of another post I made some 3 years ago. 
It 'twas tuggin' at me .... asking for an encore, so here goes!

"Remember when our grandparents, great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education?"

Here is the 8th-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , KS , USA . (Source: Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , KS.)

(To be honest, if I were presented with these questions my poor dried bones would STILL be sitting at a desk, trying to graduate!)


Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no Modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb. Give Principal Parts of. lie, lay and run
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at
50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the nece ss ary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per meter?
8 Find bank discount on $300 for! 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance
around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U. S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U. S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus .
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas .
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell , Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, sub vocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two
exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane,
fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America .
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver,
Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall &Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Gives the saying 'she/he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it? 

Kind of humbling, isn't it?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Momma's Hands


Our minister shared a curious observation a few years back: While there's little elbow room to be had at the Christmas and Easter services, many stay away on Mother's Day or Father's Day.    Why?   Because for many who've lost a parent, it's too painful.   

While that's understandable (sorta), I prefer to celebrate the memories.

Today I'm celebrating my mother's hands. 
Unlike her daughter, momma's hands were slender and pretty ...  nimble fingers that could coax piano keys or wield knitting needles like a mastro.  

I don't recall her ever having had a professional manicure, yet every Saturday evening -- without fail -- she'd set aside time to trim, buff and polish.   Even following an unfortunate incident with the lawn mower --which left 3 digits terribly mangled -- she'd continue her Saturday night ritual.   A totally unassuming lady, my mother still believed one should do the best they could with what they had.   

Now it's probably been 50 years since I read Little Women, but when I think of momma's hands I think of Meg.   Meg, who "cheerfully blackened and burned her white hands cooking delicate messes."   

What she did for love.
I wonder if I might yet take a lesson. 

I wish all mothers (and those men, women and Godparents who mother little ones) a lovely day, making memories!  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Some like it hot!

So, did your favorite pony place in yesterday's Derby?     I've never lived in or near Kentucky, but can't help getting misty-eyed when they sing "Old Kentucky Home."
Anyway, I hope no-one  took "I'll Have Another" (mint julep) to heart ...
or -- darn our ethnicity! -- celebrated Cinco de Mayo to excess.

I was feeling well enough yesterday morning to accompany DH on our usual Saturday errands, when we decided on the spur-of-the-moment to visit a nearby eatery -- noted for their hatch chiles.
Now, no-one could ever accuse me of being a "spur-of-the-moment" gal.     And given the state of my innards, hatch chile might not sound like a sensible choice.  But somedays you have to tell your brain to take a hike!

Mine has been a looooong and winding road from New Mexico -- but I've their particular green chile hard-wired!    Keep your Tabasco and other atomic condiments, thank you.   The hatch doesn't immediately assault.   Rather, like experts oooh-n-ahhh over a wine's "finish", this little gem is remarkable on one's tonsils.

Wasn't long before I was sucked back to Pinterest.  (Ya, I'm a bit like poor Carol-Anne in Poltergeist.) 
... and was astonished how many others are heralding the hatch.... and their great recipe ideas.

There's a few obvious choices ... then, one or two which had me saying "Huh?"
...Still trying to wrap my mind around this idea.

Someday, I hope we'll have a chance make time to visit the chile festival.
I'm sure interested to know if you, too, "like it hot"!  If so, do you have a favorite?

Wishing you a new week that's "just right!  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let's eat!

So, how are you today?  (... and you, too, over there?)

My personal "tilt-a-wheel" is finally slowing a bit.   Still, I wonder, how do I get myself into certain situations?  
And why, oh why, did our refrigerator have to pass away this afternoon? 

 ('nuff said ... head bang.)

At any rate, my fat cells aren't suffering from neglect.  In fact, we've struck a deal of sorts:  

If I put the good stuff in on weekdays ...

.....I get to play on weekends.

"Eggs Bubba" ...
Ya, that's a chicken-fried steak under all that goodness!

Fallin' in love, I'm falling in love again ...

Head-over-teakettle, we just found a spot mid-city, some describe as a "dive" -- others, "the best kept secret in town."   Personally, I was a goner, the moment we spotted the evening's menu, titled "Supper."   (Doesn't that word just evoke warm fuzzies?)  
Maybe, on account we don't eat out all that often --
or, I just plain enjoy eating .... my expectations may be higher than some.  Granted, the Famous Few (chains) are comfortably reliable.  
.....But give me great food and good service and forget the ambiance! 

We've all our favorite go-to's, don't we?   
I'm curious.   What makes a particular eatery your Favorite?