November 29, 2014


Do you remember Grey's Anatomy? The prime-time drama that launched Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey? Somehow, I missed it. Don't know what I was doing that decade, but it wasn't watching the baby docs and senior baby docs do life! I have worked in the medical field so maybe I just didn't want to take work home!

I've been hanging out with my grandson, his girlfriend and baby, Brinley, for the last couple of weeks.     Together we watched several episodes of season 1. The next day, they had jumped on to season 2 episodes and I watched again. Addictions can sneak up on you!

Netflix! Those first couple of episodes were the gateway drug to my addiction. There should be warnings!

I can't get enough of those characters...hell, I wouldn't mind some Dead-Denny hallucinations! The kids have me hooked on the happenings at Grey Sloan Hospital! 

I WILL get even with soon as I finish the last three seasons!

November 24, 2014

Time Bomb or Over-Reacting?

Many of you who know me personally know that a close neighbor has a son who is a pretty violent kid who suffers from a mental illness. Apparently, it is politically correct to say his problem is on the "autism spectrum".

We have seen him kick, bite, shove his mother with no consequences. Many years ago, after he screamed at his mother that she was "ruining his life" because she told him it was time to go home and before he had been diagnosed, I told him that we don't speak to each other like that in this house. I also told him that he couldn't come back to this house until he could treat his mother with respect. He has let me know ever since that he does not like me.

He has been kicked off the school bus and suspended from school for hitting, biting and fighting; also for screaming threats to bus driver and teachers. He is now taller than his mom and dad and quite strong.

A few weeks ago he saw a documentary on television about violence in young people. His mother found him watching the show and turned it off but not until he had seen a couple of mass shootings and the two teenage girls who had tried to stab their friend to death.

A week or so after the program, his mother found employment but she had to be at work before the boy got on the bus for school.  She asked a neighbor to make sure her son got on the bus. Before going to work, my friend hid all the knives in the house in a place she thought would be hard to find.

She and her husband were called shortly after the school day began. He son had been arrested and taken out of the school in handcuffs, screaming and yelling and threatening. He had pulled a butcher knife out of his back pack at school.

He has been expelled from the school. He was taken to the hospital to make sure he wasn't on drugs. The professionals at the hospital advised that he be admitted to a residential school where he could get the psychological help he needs. His mother fought to keep him home. She won. After the doctors left the room, he asked his mom, "Am I going to be on TV like those other kids?" He was pretty excited about the probability of it! Do you have goose bumps yet?

"Why did she hide the knives" you might ask. Why did he search for them?

Her son is now attending another school in town but not very happy about it. The kids at the school he attends now have taught him some pretty foul language and are older, so are really bullying him.

His mom promises that she will be cautious and supervise him well.

It is Thanksgiving break, school is out.  I just drove up into my driveway and saw a strange bike on the far end of the lawn. No one was around. As I stepped out of my car, the young man steps out from the bushes up against the garage.

"Hi!" I called out to him.

"I was just getting ready to leave," was his response. But he just stood there, looking at me.

Keeping the car between him and me, I waved, told him to ride his bike safely and slipped into the house.

Now, I don't know what to do. Do I call his mother and tell her he was here, hiding in my bushes? What if she yells at him, tells him not to do that again and he gets angry with me?  Do I put extra locks on my gate? 

His mother hid the knives. The professionals want him in a residential program for his safety and public safety. He has a record of violent behavior and he is unsupervised.

I am mad and I am scared and I am mad and I am scared and I am mad! What do I do? Am I over-reacting?  Do I plant poison oak between the bushes in my front yard? What about the kids he goes to school with?

Winter Vacation

Imagine a cozy warm cabin on the north shore of Lake Tahoe.

A fire roaring in the stone fireplace.  An amazing view of the lake through the falling flakes of snow.

The smell of bubbling homemade soup fills the air.

Two pajama-clad women are seated in cozy over stuffed chairs, legs tucked underneath them, noses buried in open books. The pine table between them offers a plate of cheeses, breads and fresh fruit. Wine glasses are full, one with chilled Chardonnay and the other with a rich Merlot-Sirah blend.

Behind the glasses and platter is a stack of 6 books, yet to be opened and read and the car parked in the garage is not moving for a week.

Now, imagine that those two women are my sister and I and the scene is this coming January!

Yummy, huh?

I think so!  I hope Santa brings me some new jammies for Christmas. I'll need at least two weeks to wash and dry and wash and dry and wash and dry them to a perfect softness.

Wish I had a time machine. I'd skip Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and jump right ahead to cabin time. 

November 22, 2014

Out Of The Box

Friends! What would we do without them?

I, for one, would be sitting in a dark corner sucking on my thumb, or maybe both thumbs if it wasn't for my friends (and sister, of course!).

Several of my friends and I gather on a regular basis, sometimes in a kitchen to share a cup of coffee, other times, over wine and goodies in someone's living room.  Wherever it is, there is authentic caring and listening with open hearts.

Being "women of a certain age," we are all on the threshold of Act III of our lives. We've been to school, married, raised children; we've held jobs for the majority of our adult lives. We're all retired from our chosen professions but not retired from life.

When we gather, whether it is two of us, three, four or the rare moments when it is all five of us, something internal and eternal is happening. An onlooker may just see us laughing, heads back, tears pouring from our eyes. Another moment you may see us sitting on the edge of our seats, leaning forward, listening, really listening, to wisdom that comes from the depth of women's experience through the ages.

Each woman is a blessing in my life and each others' lives, inspiring each other to live bigger, learn to fly and be truly alive.

Jess C. Scott, author of The Intern states, "When someone loves you, the way they talk about you is different. You feel safe and comfortable."  How true this statement is with these women. We promised each other a safe space and we promised each other to truly "show up" when we are together. Each promise has been kept, 100%. So, in a way, it is not how we talk about each other as much as how we talk to each other and more importantly, listen. Through listening, we grow.

"There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature."  Jane Austen

Best Educated Guess

Imagine that you are twenty-three years old; just starting a family. You are a hard worker and the primary provider for your little family.

One afternoon you hear a snap in your back and your legs are instantly numb. Somehow you stay on your feet but your not sure how!

You get to the Emergency Room and after many hours and tests the ER Doc informs you that you have suffered serious back injuries. He prescribes pain meds (narcotics) and advises you to sit in your recliner for the next three days rather than lay in bed.

The next day, your feet start to turn blue and it's back to the ER. Same diagnosis: serious back injury! Advice: takes meds, sit in recliner but this time, get an MRI on Monday. More meds. May need surgery to repair damage.

Three days later, pain is bad; not improving, pain meds doing nothing. Steering away from ER, you see a different and highly recommended doctor. Diagnosis: Serious back injury, may need surgery but might be rehab-able. New meds, two weeks bed rest and most importantly, stay out of recliner; lay flat.

Two days later, pain not letting up. Visit another highly recommended health specialist. Advice: get up and walk; walk a lot!

What do you do?

Do you take meds and sit in recliner?

Do you take more meds and go to bed?

Do you take lots of walks and hopefully don't fall down as meds are prone to knock you out?

Do you draw a big circle with 3 or 6 or 9 pie shapes; each pie shape with one word. Recliner, Bed, Walk. Spin a soda bottle and see where it stops. It's not an "educated guess" but have the highly educated health care professionals helped you sort out a solution?

I'll tell you one thing....if they mention surgery again...scoot out of the way as fast as you can because that is a pretty invasive guess.

November 20, 2014


Have you ever loved someone with such passion that saying "I love you" to him would make you cry because the words, compared to your emotion, are so lacking in meaning and fervor? The simple word love is just too inadequate to express the depth of your feelings? To whisper "I love you" in his ear actually causes you physical pain by virtue of overwhelming deficiency?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night, tears puddling on your pillow, feeling lost because you are merely human with a language that is incapable of expressing how much he is cherished by you?

Do our souls mourn for us when we become so conscious of the limitations of human language?

"We are so limited, you have to use the same word for loving Rosaleen as you do for loving Coke with peanuts. Isn't that a shame we don't have many more ways to say it?'  
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

November 14, 2014

Old Standards

Listening to Big Band and Old Standards today while I clean house.

Usually this genre of music makes me dance but today, not so much.

No tears....yet...but the mood of the house just seems somber.


Wrote the portion above yesterday. Couldn't shake the the worries and anxieties. Once more, my gut proves it's intuition, grandson seriously injured back (pulled muscle and 4 bulging discs), BOLO out on niece (disappeared from apartment in Redding, 3 strange men in apartment with all her belongings and her cat who say she left and gave them everything...uh, I don't think so!),  revelations about roomie (Darth Vader said Whaaaaa!), really good friend had a truly demonic experience and my husband is sick!

Gut's don't lie!

November 07, 2014

My Beautiful Boys

Several years ago, if you had asked me if I would ever pet a pit bull, I would have laughed so hard I'd wet my pants.  Just the name Pit Bull scared me to death.  I thought they were vicious, ugly dogs that should be outlawed.  My bad!

My grandson moved in with us and with him came a sweet Border Collie, Reximus Maximus Aurelius the Third! We call him Rex.

I'd been pushing my husband for a dog and he kept telling me to wait until we were both retired and had more time to devote to walking, training and being with a pet.  He did give me a book about dogs and bought a car with the words PUP on the license...yup, he is all about compromise!

The book had a lot to say about Border Collie's. Smart dogs, maybe the smartest in the world; they can have a vocabulary up to 600 words and understand sign language!  The book also cites a couple of studies done on dog behavior and traits. In all studies the Pit Bull came in second only to either Labs or Golden Retrievers in gentleness and loyalty.

Due to medical reasons, I was no longer working, so I was home alone with Rex. My grandson accuses me of stealing Rex, but I have to say, he just adopted me. Maybe because I was the most needy at the time because of physical limitations or I was just the easiest to herd. Without questioning his motives, Rex became my dog.

Two years later, our grandson and his girlfriend adopted two 6 week old blue-nose pits. Tiny little things but the mom had 19 pups and these two were not getting fed.  It was the middle of winter and those two little naked bodies always seemed cold, so I would let them snuggle just below my chin to keep warm (big mistake! Do Not, repeat, DO NOT let baby dogs snuggle under your chin, especially if the are going to weigh upwards to 150 pounds full grown).

My grandson and his girlfriend rented a nice house with a large backyard. The two pups (Rex stayed with me) loved their new home. A little after moving a huge storm came through and three oak trees in their yard fell. The tree punched a hole in my grandson's roof, took out their air conditioner and a little bit of rain gutter. The real damage was to the house next door. It destroyed the neighbor's jeep, swimming pool, patio, rain gutters and a little bit of the roof and the fence between the two houses.

We got a call late in the night. Can the boys come stay with us until the fence is repaired? Of course they can. We love them.

That was in June! Guess who still lives with us?  It seems the owner's insurance paid for repairs to his house, repairs to the house next door, but because the people next door were renters, the insurance company would not replace the above ground pool or the jeep.  The renters were quite angry and demanded that the owners of either house pay for their stuff (renters' insurance people, remember renters' insurance). When both owners declined the renters informed the owner of my grandson's house that if the pit bulls get out of the yard and hurt their children they will, most definitely, sue him.

The owner of the house just laughed at them but went home and called his insurance company to ask if he was covered for dog bites. The insurance company basically said, "What! There are pit bulls at your rental! We are discontinuing your insurance! No Pit Bulls allowed. The pups could not return home.

They are pretty well behaved for the most part. On command, they sit, they lay, they stay. They know the difference between off and down. They don't eat, even with the full bowl in front of them, until we say they can. We can take their food away from them, even a bone right out of their mouths. They still get excited when someone comes to the door but that's mostly because they catch Rex's exuberance for company. If Rex is on a walk with my husband and someone comes to the door, they barely raise their heads; just to see if visitor has food.

When I announce that we are going to bed, all three dogs run to our bedroom. Thor opens the door to the kennel, then he and Kona run inside and wait for their goodnight treat. They won't come out in the morning until I tell them it's okay.

We are trying to teach Kona that feet go on the ottoman, not the head! He is a chair hog!

The are really the most gentle dogs. They love to listen to stories, the love treats, they love to jump onto the bench under the dining room window to see what is happening in the neighborhood. It's cool to see all three dogs sitting in the window when I drive up, almost like they knew I was coming home.

Funny thing. After living with these two beautiful dogs, I have come to genuinely love them. Kona and Thor are really very lovable (though a little dumb at times). The heart-break is, we can't keep them. They are so powerful and I am so not! But, we can't give them away, either. This is Redding and we have a gazillion idiots who live here and want to make Pit Bulls tough monsters and, sadly, there are still some sick Michael-Vicks out here who get a thrill watching animals brutalize each other.

These guys have a lot of energy and need to be walked a couple of times a day. Both Kona and Thor are great on a leash. Kona stays right at your knee and Thor stays about half a step behind your knee. They don't bark at or chase any other dogs or cats they see on the trail. They don't pull on the leash, which, sad but true, Rex is very bad at, but getting better! Rex is better without a leash, but put a leash on him and he thinks he is a pony pulling a cart!

I can't walk both of them at the same time.  They are way too strong for me if they were to bolt. Not that they have ever bolted but I never count on never! My grandson and his girlfriend are looking for people who can be trusted with a Pit and so are we, though most of the people we know already have their maximum allowed pets.

November 06, 2014

Mid-Term Elections

To begin this blog, maybe I should start with the word "Duped"! According to, a Dupe is:

"1. a person who is easily deceived or fooled.
 2. a person who unquestioningly or unwittingly serves a cause or another person.
 3. to make a dupe of; deceive; delude; trick"

The root of dupe is French, coming from the word duppe derived from d'uppe which is the head of a hoopoe. A hoopoe is a bird thought to be especially stupid. (Not my terminology, I don't like the word stupid....but for this blog, I am willing to give it a try!)

A week prior to the elections, a new Rasmussen Reports national survey reported that 8% of American were happy with Congress and thought they were doing a good job. They also reported that there had been no change from the previous month and 62% of Americans were unhappy with the job Congress was doing.

Gallup polls varied the tiniest bit, with a 12% approval of Congress and an 82% disapproval.

Public Policy Polling reported that cockroaches were liked 11% more than Congress! With an approval rating of 9% and disapproval of 85%.

Two-thirds of voters who were interviewed after casting ballots said they believed our country was seriously on the wrong track. Every news report for the past 6 years has reported how the Republicans have basically paralyzed our government with a record number of filibusters, fighting every move to better America. They voted against helping Vets, raising minimum wage, are seeking to destroy social security, which we have all paid into with each paycheck. Truth is, Congress doesn't want to pay back the money they borrowed from Social Security because we're broke!

Chris Cuomo from CNN asked Senator Bernie Sanders if he was optimistic over the election results. Sanders response is the same as mine. The Republican agenda is frickin' scary. Cuts to social Security and Medicare; more tax breaks for the wealthy, more human rights awarded to non-sentient corporations, jobs leaving America.

Hiding behind the Abortion Issue, their "Christian-shield-of-armor", the Republicans are the ones who want to deny abortions but drive around with the bumper stickers proclaiming "The Government Is Not Your Baby's Daddy!"  So, keep that baby but once it is born, you are on your own!  Speaking of Christian values that the Republicans continue to scream to the tree tops that they are fighting for; why is their agenda so focused on shutting out the poor, the hungry, the aged, the sick, the veterans, women and minorities?

As you can tell, I am a little "put off" by the results of the election. I am appalled by how many congressional incumbents were re-elected and slightly more disconcerted on how many more Republicans were voted in. Especially since progressive issues significantly won across the nation!

The Koch Brothers are sleeping good and dancing all the way to the bank to deposit more of our money, sweat and blood into their off-shore accounts. They duped us. We are Dupes! At least we can still have pride that we are the head of France's stupidest bird and not it's ass.....though......

Courtesy of
Much like the Republican Party, the bird appears to be looking in one direction, when it is actually focused elsewhere.

2014 Mid-term Elections just tossed out the stately Bald Eagle for a Hoopoe! Scared? I am!

November 04, 2014

Visio Divina

Visio Divina (Divine Seeing) is a form of contemplative prayer.

Lectio Divina is the practice of promoting communion with God through reading scripture or sacred texts, meditating on the reading, prayer, and contemplation. It has been a long standing Benedictine tradition. Visio Divina, (Divine Seeing) is praying with art, bringing in all the senses during contemplation. 

Our culture today is one of technology. If you observe a group of teenagers sitting together, or adults gathered in a restaurant, chances are the majority of them will be disengaged from the conversation; texting, checking email, using their cell phone, playing a video or an online game. 

We are also bombarded with messages through television, movies, music and printed materials that attempt to define us; to encourage us to fit into a secular box with everyone else. 

The media tries to indoctrinate us, especially our children, that character has no value. It exhorts that what is important is popularity and material possessions. The message is: If you don’t have the latest gadget or wearing the newest fad, aren’t the “first on your block” to own something, aren’t one of the kids sitting at the popular table or you don't have the perfect body type, then you don’t fit in. The media stresses, If You Don’t Fit In, You Don’t Matter.

The distractions keeping us from establishing a meaningful portrait of our true self and nurturing authentic relationships, are endless and overwhelming. This is especially true if we are confused about our true identity and self-worth.

“A picture is worth a thousand words!” How many times have we heard this expression?  Images and icons have touched us in unmeasurable ways. For some, the sight of a pregnant woman stroking her unborn child through her baby bump fills us with love. A veteran returning from war fills our heart with compassion. An ice cream commercial on the television at 10:00 often pushes us into the kitchen for “just a little bit of something!”

Images don’t stop there; sacred art and images of a holy nature often help a culture define itself.  

One of the first actions the Communists, the Nazis or any controlling dictator does when conquering a village or country is to outlaw all religious images, icons and statues. Citizens who are found hiding a painting or even the tiniest statue are imprisoned or killed. Artists and sculptors of holy works of art disappear, never to be seen again. That is followed by outlawing prayer and the practice Christianity in any form. Churches will be confiscated and turned into government offices or storage facilities.

Arbitrators of these types of measures know that the loss of holy images, the intimidation and threats towards those of faith slowly eats away at the victims’ souls, their identity and eventually, even their humanity. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author, scholar and psychoanalyst, presents this theory in her book entitled, Untie the Strong Woman ; a book about the Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love. She states, “Totalitarian ambitions move swiftly to first and foremost erase powerful sacred images that inspired souls to strive not for the state, not for any organization, but for the soul’s worth, toward Creator…” 

Many people are leaving their faith, or attending services in a robotic haze as an insurance policy for a place in heaven. It is highly likely that the only images they are going to have with  meaning are the ones that not only invite but insist that one strives for material substance and mainstream immorality. The possibility of knowing and recognizing the divine diminishes with every breath. 

Even if you don't believe in God, or a Creator or Source, it is vital to be able to see the divine in the mundane; to see that we are all connected and equal. We need to believe in the "holiness" of all of Earth and all her creatures.

While many take the bait our culture casts, many feel uncomfortable; they sense absence of authenticity; they are in a state of confusion, frustration and dissatisfaction.

Imagine if religious people everywhere could relate to the holy, to the sacred and divine in the mundane. If our soul’s worth didn’t depend on being reminded by sacred art, though sacred art is beautiful and glorious. If we could see God in the leaves of the trees, in the clouds sailing through the sky, in a tiny flower pushing its way through asphalt. What if we could recognize a sacred presence in the eyes of our neighbor; if we could close our eyes and feel the divinity in life flowing through us!

My husband and I are teaching a Visio Divina class at our church. It has been rewarding in many ways. We are meeting new people, contemplating the divine in the mundane and teaching photography lessons all at the same time.  

My husband is, also, the one of great faith. He knows his stuff though, speaking of religion, it would  be more accurate to say he knows His stuff? I, on the other hand, have been the great questioner!  I want answers and question everything. Visio Divina has helped me find some of the answers.



We have a roommate from Tonga (via Seattle) who is part Samoan and part Tongan. He is teaching us a lot about his culture, foods and traditions.

Sunday I prepared one of his favorite meals (without Taro leaves! Where does one find Taro leaves in Redding?).  The main dish included basmati rice, coconut milk and curry. I couldn't find goat either but lamb is readily available.  It was delicious!

I have two question?

How long does it take for the scent of curry to leave the house?

Can I stay at your house until the scent clears, because it is stimulating my appetite beyond words?

November 03, 2014

Where Did It Go?

Courtesy of
My head on my pillow, blankets pulled up tight, my arm around my husband's waist. The clock read 3:58 and the darkness read a.m.  I listened to the breathing of the dogs, sleeping soundly, and the steady breath of hubby.

The feeling of comfort and safety was overwhelming.

In the aura of contentment, my mind started to wander.

In the traveling, thoughts gently came upon a part of life that needed to be reflected on. I turned it in all directions, looked at it from many angles. The subject was so compelling. The perlustration of it promised profound conclusions.

As I lay there, I begin to blog about it in my head. The title practically jumped into my head. Sentence after sentence virtually wrote themselves.

"What an awesome subject to discuss on the blog," I thought. Awe-inspiring and magnificent.  I will fill in the few blanks in the morning.

I yawned, listened to the breathing of my companions and gently fell back into a deep, peaceful sleep.

This morning, I awoke slowly. Apparently, having turned in my sleep, my husband's arm was around my waist, his breath on my neck.  We let the dogs out, showered and as Frank got ready for work, I changed the sheets and made the bed.

The boys (dogs) joined me in the kitchen where we shared some treats. I juiced some veggies and a couple of apples and chopped fresh ginger for my tea. All done with an overwhelming desire to sit here at the computer to share last night's contemplation.

So, here I sit. Tea steaming in my favorite mug. Boys settled on my feet to keep me warm. My finger tips resting on the keyboard and.....and....and....

It's gone!  All that wonderful predawn reflection is gone...completely.  The feeling of it is here, I feel the peacefulness of the room, the rhythm of the others' breathing is almost palpable....but every single word is gone....flown.....decamped....vanished....nonextant!

Dang, it was good, it was so good! I wish I knew where it went; I'd love to visit it!

November 01, 2014


Several years ago, I was given a book that is virtually empty, except for a prompt at the top of each page. It is to make lists of your personal story.  While looking for a copy of another book to give a friend, I rediscovered the little tome.

What wonderful memories it brought back and new memories that were added.

There are several pages that every-other line starts with "My First___________________________"

Do you remember your "Firsts"? Your first kiss?  Your first date?  Your first trip away from home?

Do you remember your first home of your own? Where was it? What did it look like and, more importantly, how did it feel to have your very own place?

My first home away from home was a small apartment in a pre-civil war Victorian style home. It was haunted and we called the ghost Colonel Corn!  It was 3000 miles from "home-home"! Boy, talk about "call before you drop in for a visit!"

The rent was $37.50 a month and that included utilities. Living room, kitchen (tiny), dining room, big bedroom and full bath. The bathroom floor was an add-on and had a small down grade away from main rooms! The land lady's name was Mrs. Smith. She was about 5 feet tall, in her seventies and could move an old double wide stove with four burners and griddle! 

The apartment was furnished. A body would automatically roll down to the center of the bed, which was perfect because I had just eloped and not a lot of sleeping was done in that beautiful little apartment.

Do you remember the first time you flew on a plane or rode a train? Do you remember how you felt about it? Were you excited, scared, hesitant? Where did it take you?

What about your first kiss? Where, who and when?  Did your braces get stuck together? Was it wonderful. Did it frighten you more than your first plane ride?

Do you remember the first music you bought? Was it a 45, an album, an 8-track, a cassette or CD? Maybe it was just a song downloaded to your Ipod!  The Ipod option seems sad to me. I remember the first 45 I bought. I walked to Ben Franklin's 5 & 10. Bought a small bag of popcorn (fresh), a glass bottle of Pepsi and "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics! 

The excitement of holding that little flat disk all the way home was almost more than I could bare. My folks had just given me my first phonograph and I couldn't wait to hear those words, "Our day will come and we'll have everything...."! When it got to the "no one can tell me I'm too young" I would get goose bumps! I was so "in love" with that guy around the corner".

What are your most memorable firsts?  First day in the Navy? First day at college? First day of marriage (after the wedding and hangover?).