Yesterday was the first time I had seen or been together with my ex-husband since our divorce.  It wasn't that I was dodging him because I didn't want to see him.  On the contrary, I had suggested to our daughter, the first Christmas after the divorce, that I was ok with us all having Christmas together.  He is her father and I was married to him for 25 years.  He will always be her father and I, her mom.  She vetoed my idea as I don't think she was ready to see that relationship if it was not as her parents being a married couple.  Chuck went on with his life, connecting to a woman he knew in college.  Eventually God brought Doug to my life.  That gift of love has radically changed my life.  Even though we have a grown child together there just has not been reason to cross paths.  That is until yesterday at my son-in-law's baptism and dinner.  Strange and a bit surreal to see your ex and his girlfriend for the first time while attending a spiritual occasion.  Amazingly though, it was not strange or surreal.  I had an unusual settled peace that my life was exactly where it was both gifted and purposed.  My mind didn't flood with any regrets other than that our daughter's world had been altered by our divorce causing her to have to have two separate relationships with us.  I didn't feel sadness or remorse or longing or hurt or pain or grief or really even uncomfortableness.  Simply, I felt a complete satisfaction in who I was and how I got to love and operate on a daily basis fully as Nancy.  There was a brief reminder in seeing him of the years together, raising our daughter.  But mostly I was flooded with a deep love and profound connection to the man sitting next to me, my husband Doug.  My mind wandered a bit hoping that Chuck too was experiencing a life of utter fulfillment.  A life that now allowed him carte blanche to operate fully and freely as himself.  I knew how freeing that now was for me after 25 years of not having that.  I wanted that for him too.  I wondered if this day was hard on Hannah, my daughter.  If it was a reminder of the combined loss she had experienced. I wondered if there was a part of her that was just ready to have that first joint encounter over - to take the sting out of it.  I hoped and prayed silently for her that she could find peace and feel great love from both of us even if separately.  I liked to think that though our parental love comes from separate directions it still joins together in loving her.  My husband was gracious and kind as always initiating the introduction of himself to Chuck.  Chuck's girlfriend, whom I have known for 27 years though not in a relationship sort of way, commented that the last time she saw me was 24 years ago.  She said, "Yeah, last time I saw you we were both skinny!"  She is the were part of that statement.  I am the I am still part of that statement.  It really doesn't matter what I think of her.  I hoped that in her Chuck was finding something he always had missed.  There are events in life that just are.  They may be twinged with some weirdness but they are what they are - parts of your past and your present colliding.  I thought about the years that lay ahead.  Years when, as divorced parents, our paths would ultimately cross again.  I emptied my spirit of loose ends and knew it would be fine.  Grandchildren might eventually come to us and we would share again the bond of a child.  I've never been scared of elephants in the room.  They just want acknowledgement and then they shrink away. 



Toll booth workers are interesting.  Taking the toll road this week for work I encountered toll booth workers at the exit I use to return home.  There are no toll booth workers though at the exit I use to get to my office.  It is all automated.  I hate automation.  It is just no fun.  There is no dialogue.  Nothing to momentarily interject the human variable into the day.  It's .80 cents one direction on the toll road (or turnpike depending on what part of the country you are from), and another.80 cents for the trip back.  That's $1.60 for the privilege of going 75-80 mph (ok it's actually 70, but I speed).  I feel like I am not getting my money's worth this week though.  There are orange cones and road construction in both the eastbound and westbound lanes.  Traffic is one lane both directions and speeds are prohibited over 45 mph.  I want my money back.  If I wanted to go that slow and be impeded by those that follow the letter of the law instead of the spirit of it, I could take city streets.  Invariably I get behind someone at the automated booth who doesn't have a clue how to feed their ticket in, how to maneuver the money, or is experiencing a machine malfunction.  Human ticket booth workers are way faster than that blasted machine.  The lady in the booth at my home exit has recognized me from day to day.  I must say, I kind of like that.  She asked how my day was compared to yesterday when I saw her.  She comments on the wind.  She is congenial and engaging without holding up the line.  I like her.  For her I am willing to pay $1.60 even if I can't go 75-80 mph.   Exiting one exit further than my normal exit, I fed my ticket in and waited for it to process.  The LED screen flashed my fee.  I methodically fed in $1.10 using a dollar bill and a dime.  It read the dollar bill, but the dime did not seem to register, like it was stuck.  There was no human anywhere near to correct the machine malfunction.  Do I push the help button and hope someone might help me get back the dime I just lost, or try another dime?  I am in a hurry.  I didn't push the HELP button.  Instead I shoved in another dime.  The dime didn't register once again and the bar would not raise.  One more try with a third dime found me in the same position - unable to leave the toll booth.  I pushed the HELP button and heard, "All circuits are busy, please hold."  All this for .30 cents!  I got impatient (obvious as I drive over the speed limit!) and shoved another dollar bill in the feeder.  It read the dollar and refunded me .90 cents just as an operator came on the line.  I told her the situation, losing .30 cents and asked her if she could refund it to me.  "I cannot do that." she said, "Please call the number printed on your receipt and ask for a refund."  I hate automation.  I hate how correcting a simple mechanical error will now take me a phone call and the cost of a check being cut for .30 cents.  That seems like excessive waste both in time and dollars.  They know that most people will not bother with such a small refund request.  How much extra revenue do they earn yearly from NOT processing money correctly and consumers not pursuing a refund for overpayment.  I would most likely be one of those people that contributes to this non-earned revenue fund!



Driving home from work yesterday I spotted a sign.  It was one of those signs that permanently displays the name of the business at the top, but below leaves blank space for changeable words.  I smiled at what it said, "TO HAVE MORE, WANT LESS".  Simple.  Direct. No hidden meanings.  I liked that train of thought.  It was brilliant.  I suppose as a business owner, no matter if the words compliment your venue or not, you have the freedom to put whatever the hell you want on your sign.  The saying really was counter-productive to what most businesses want - YOU TO WANT MORE.  They want you to spend money.  That is in fact how they earn their living.  So, for that reason as well, I found it doubly intriguing.  Maybe it was reverse psychology on the part of the business owner.  You know, you appeal to the opposite thoughts of what a consumer expects you to do and it ends up getting you what you want - more sales.  That too is brilliant.  I felt like I wanted to stop in, not to buy anything of course, but to congratulate him or her on their innovative marketing angle and reposian inspired statement.  I found the words refreshing.  In a world of hurried, get to the top, achieve, get-more-acquireishness, it was a respite of calm.  A reminder that simple sometimes is better.  Less to manage.  Less to become obsessed with.  Less to keep us on the hamster wheel wanting and needing more to take care of the wants we already have or will have in the future.  That phrase spoke about perspective.  What is abundance?  What is enough?  Who determines the standard for more?  What is more?  Who said more is better than less in many areas?  Boobs included!  It showcased the concept of contentment.  Contentment is not a more seeker, a look to the future sort of heart and mind condition.  Contentment is a life marked by being present with what you have where you are.  It is marked with seeking peace to live fully where your ass is parked, what your money will buy, in what you find your hand doing.  I am a minimalist, a simpleton, a purist who sees less in all areas of my life as a kind of freedom.  It reduces distractions and allows me to focus on the things that don't need cataloging, storing or carrying with me inside the rest of my life. 



I just attempted to run in 30 mph winds.  No one else was out running.  I wondered while running if all the other runners were smarter than me, slacked off more than me, were waiting till later hoping for a drop in wind speeds or didn't have quite the tenacity and drive that I do.  I picked the latter.  It made me feel better about myself!  During runs that are taxing, either due to weather conditions or my own physical off zone days, I give my permission to give up running at the end of the run I am on.  I tell myself that if I never ever want to run again, I don't have to.  But, that never ever running again thing will start after I finish the run I am currently in the process of.  It's a great tool that continues to get me through the yucky runs.  I give myself permission to slack off later if I so choose.  Though I have never actually utilized the permanent never ever running again any further than in theory.  I've been to the Hoover Dam.  It is an incredibly amazing place for several reasons.  Number one, it's a flipping desert.  Number two, they harnessed the Colorado River - a river I say!  Number three, they came in under time and budget on the project.  Number four, there is amazing beauty in the combination of the Colorado River, Lake Meade, the wide open Nevada sky, and this enormous man made creation.  I always think of the verse in the Bible where God says (Nancy's paraphrase), Who has ever known the mind of God?  Who can contain the waters?  If you read some history on the building of the Hoover Dam, though amazingly brilliant, they were still at the mercy of nature.  You will also find that though every scenario was thought of for disasters (while building it and today in its existence), natural disasters or attacks usually aren't predictable and scenarioed.  Job in the Bible lamented to his friends, and ultimately to God when granted an audience with him, that life is not fair - that we get what we do not always deserve.  We control very little in life other than our responses to everything that comes to us.  That includes; weather, relationships, money, jobs, words, the results of others thoughts/decisions or actions, our health, the process of aging and death.  I thought about that as I ran in 30 mph winds.  I could not control the veracity of it, the direction, or the duration.  The only thing that I had jurisdiction over was whether I was going to stay in it and run or turn and go home.  It's funny really how we evolve and diminish.  When we are young we gain more control and more freedom of choices.  As we age, we come to know though we have freedom of choices, we really don't control things.  Then at a later point in our journey, toward the end of life, we clearly see our freedom of choices diminish.  And ultimately, we come to know we have no control.   We are a bit like the Hoover Dam as human beings.  We are created by God to live in His wild nature, totally in His kingdom.  Though we have great freedom of choice, we do not have control.  Even if we think we do.     



Why is it there are days, weeks or stretches that we feel on top of our game?  It could be that we have kept our priorities in order.  It could be that we have stayed the course in a direction we want something in our lives to move toward.  It could be that our skin is clearer than normal, we have dropped 5 pounds, or our hair seems to be having a great styling stretch.  Possibly we just feel in rhythm, in sync, in alignment.  Other times there seems to be a bit of a funk about us.  I hate funks.  Usually they are vague, somewhat undefinable, not scheduled or with a known departure date.  My Grandma Weldy used to say, "I feel punk."  It has relative meaning to feeling inferior or bad.  No one really knows it for that definition, though that is listed as an adjective definition of the word.  Instead, more modern times have applied the word punk to a youth movement style or a petty criminal who is typically a kid.  I've only ever heard a handful of people use that phrase to define this ambiguous yuckiness that washes over us from time to time.  Usually it's not precipitated by any one definable or absolute thing, event, person, or circumstance in our lives.  It's more like a cloud that rolls in and stalls for a time.  Funks mostly dissipate or melt away, until one day, before we have given it real conscious thought, we are not in it any more.  I have felt that way as of late.  It might vaguely be connected to various and sundry events, but it too is just there in its indiscernableness.  Not one withstanding, being in a funk always colors my view on every area in my life.  It creates a critical state of mind in how I view externals and most definitely internals.  My writing is horrible, this situation will never get resolved, how will I handle that if it happens, I don't want to age, why can't I feel good everyday, will I ever love church again, I can't seem to move to where I want to be at the speed I want to.  Weather produced fog hangs indefinitely until the sun equalizes the ground and air temperatures. My daughter has always loved weather fog.  I have never liked it.  Ever.  This funk, this fog of sorts will be replaced eventually with the return of a skip to my step.  Forward thoughts will replace my current circular ones.  And, the momentum of both will push the funk away. 



I really want to know.  Do you use twist ties at all other than the one that might come on a loaf of bread?   Even those sometimes are not the actual little bendable piece of metal coated in either plastic or paper.  Rather, they are a plastic square thing with a slit in it designed to fit around the neck of the bread/bagel/english muffin or powdered sugar donut bags.  The technical name of which I really don't know, or if one really exists for it.  It seems that in this evolved and streamlined, almost lazy world we live in, there just isn't a big need for twist ties.  Does anyone really buy gallon plastic bags that you have to close with a twist tie instead of zip lock bags?  I don't.  Even trash bags have been revolutionized to be a one-piece product with a draw-string closure.  They do still make non draw-stringed bags for trash containers of every size from small bathroom trash cans to 45-gallon leaf bags.  Inside each of those boxes come the appropriate size and weight of twist tie to close the bag when full.  I never use them.  They sometimes are not strong enough to keep it closed, especially if the bag is loaded with weight.  I still buy undraw-stringed small trash bags for my bathroom trash can.  When I open a new box of bags there lies a perforated stack of twist ties.  I don't keep them.  My mom would though.  I prefer to diagonally tie the bag shut with opposing corners.  It holds more weight.  My mom has a small container in one of her kitchen drawers, the one with aluminium foil, wax paper, etc, that houses extra twist ties.  I wonder if she uses them or just feels bad about throwing them away so she keeps them for a future unknown need.  Even on the bread bag I sometimes misplace the twist tie after removing it for a slice of bread.  I don't know why or how I so easily misplace it.  Sometimes, having used the same twist tie too many times, the paper coating falls off leaving only the bare metal.  I don't like when that happens as it just becomes hard to re-twist it back on the bag.  That is when I wish I was a collector of extra twist ties like my mom.  I wonder since the invention of easier forms of bag closures if the twist tie industry has seen a decline.  The twist tie has been lapped now by products of greater ease.  Maybe it's like the clothespin industry.  I'm sure they are not increasing or gaining new people who need clothespins to hang up their clothes.  Both seem like stagnant and declining markets, at least in the U.S.   My mom has clothespins too. 



Some of you have read before of my disdain of rewards cards and the plethora of store credit card application pleas from cashiers when checking out.  I have five rewards cards on my key chain; car dealer where we bought our car-key punch card for oil changes, CVS, Martins Grocery Store, Kroger and Panera (which I have yet to activate on-line).  That is five too many.  In TJ Maxx over the weekend I overhead a man being handled by the cashier next to me.  She had asked him if he wanted a TJ Maxx Rewards card.  He said no, that he was sick of rewards cards.  At that moment I bonded with him and came to his aid, "I agree!  I am sick to death of rewards cards.  What are we really being rewarded for and with?"  The cashier laughed.  "Cashiers are instructed from corporate offices to ask and push the product, and we as consumers are just over saturated with them.  I think they have ran their course and exhausted the patience of every consumer.  Time to find a new method!" I said.  The man applauded and the clerk continued to giggle.  It wasn't her company, she just worked there.  She saw every day, first hand, how consumers are weary of the Rewards Racket!  While in Washington D.C. recently at a Panera getting a cup of Hazelnut coffee, the cashier asked if I had a Panera Rewards Card.  Not wanting to explain that I did have one but had never activated it online, I said "No."  "Did I want one?" she asked.  "No, I don't.  Thank you." I said.  It disturbed her.  We went another round.  "It's free.  You earn a free dessert." she said.  "I realize that.  But no thanks." came my reply.  She began to look at me like I was about the stupidest person she had ever met.  She could not even fathom why in the world I did not want one.  Her look was not lost on me.  War was on now.  "Actually I do have a card but never activated it.  Not interested." I went further thinking she would back the hell off.  "Why would you not want something that gives you something for free?" she mocked back to me.  If she was going to not relent then I was not either.  I was going to get ridiculous.  And I did.  Without taking my eyes off her eyes I sarcastically said, "I absolutely hate free things."  The thought bubble above her head and eyes read, "You are an idiot."  The feeling at that point was reciprocated by me.  Actually I saw and felt an evil presence surrounding her when I first walked to her register to order.  I truly believe her altercation with me was on a spiritual level.  That is a post to delve into another time.  My husband went to Kohl's last night while I had dinner with a girlfriend.  He needed a new suit.  Upon taking his purchases to the cash register he was met with, "You can save another 30% if you open a Kohl's charge card."  Doug told her no thanks he was not interested in opening a card.  He said the exchange went on for a couple of minutes.  Her barraging him, trying to goad him, coax him, persuade him, even shame him into applying while standing there.  He explained that he did not want another credit card.  She countered that he could pay it off when he got the card and look at it like a rewards card which saved him 30%.  He said he did not want one.  Period.  She said in the time it took them to talk about it she could have had the application process done.  I told him later that he should have retorted, "In the time it took you to not stop talking about getting me to open a Kohl's credit card you could have finished ringing me up and I could have been in the car!"  



Short of being a mig welder, I have done a lot of things in my life.  Come to think of it, I also have never been an astronaut or a nurse.  I just don't have the math and science skills for them.  I don't think one occupation is necessarily superior to another.  Maybe easier, better paying, etc.  Nor do certain jobs of influence, education, or money make anyone better than someone else.  We are all though wired differently.  Destined to do different things.  All jobs are necessary to the movement of society forward.  That is part of the premise of the show "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Rowe.  Who, by the way, when I was single I thought would have been fun to go on a date with.  He never called though.  The show highlights a dirty job, one that most people wouldn't want to do.  It illuminates the fact that without someone doing those jobs there would be a need or service or product not available that is necessary to a functioning society.  Each job has a function.  It also has a best way to do it, to present the service, the product, the end result.  Waiting tables for instance.  Since pay is partially based on tips, good service and etiquette is vital.  Now etiquette is relative to the type of restaurant.  But, for subject sake, we will stick to middle of the road or nicer end restaurants where waiters, waitresses and staff do not de-clothe or dance on the bar.
My husband and I quit going to a restaurant we once loved because the waitress became too overly comfortable with us.  We would go to eat there to be with each other or meet friends, and she would sit down and join us part of the time.  Though she is a great person, I did not ask her to dinner.  That crossed a line to us.  She was like a house guest that over stayed their welcome.  I have waited tables in my lifetime.  It is a bit of a sales gig.  You gotta work the crowd/tables you have.  Charm has to be balanced with not overstepping your role of service.  You are NOT an invited guest at the table.  You also have to be professional while maintaining a connection to those you are waiting on.  It is not about you nor did those people come to see you.  Rather, they came to eat a meal they did not have to cook and enjoy time with family or friends.  Last night, with my husband and a couple he was interviewing for a position with his company, we dined at a nicer restaurant.  The waiter was a bit unpolished.  He would interrupt while we were talking without saying, "excuse me".  When he put things on the table it was not fluid or graceful.  He was awkward in his personal presentation and confidence.  There was long pauses where I think he just didn't quite know what to do or say.  I like a little shucking and jiving with a waiter or waitress.  A little.  And, not when I am having conversation with those at my table.  If you are a waiter or waitress and sit down at my table I will not leave you a good tip.  If you have that much need to "perform" then take to the theatre stage not an empty seat amongst my dinner guests.  When I am done eating and have to sit there needlessly without you bringing me the bill, it annoys me.  I don't want to have to wait to leave or flag you down.  Pay attention to your tables!  If I do have to wait 15 minutes to get my bill your tip will not be as good.  You can be the best waiter or waitress and unfortuantely get stuck with assholes at your table that don't tip.  Maybe because I was a waitress once, I am a good tipper.  It is quite the performance based profession.  But one that I am thankful exists.  Not having to cook dinner and being served is occasionally a very nice extra in life.   



Drive in any town, just about anywhere in the United States, and you will find vacant strip mall commercial space.  You will find business office buildings with big FOR LEASE signs.  Much of this space is nice.  It's newer.  And, it is sitting empty.  Walgreens is a culprit of this.  They build a store, after doing demographic research, and occupy it for a few years.  Then they build a new one just down the road (sometimes just blocks away), move out of the old building and leave it empty.  K-Mart has closed down in many towns leaving huge retail buildings sitting empty.  Those vacated properties contribute to the junkiness and decline of any town.  Conversely and amazingly enough though, you will also see new construction of commercial space being built without it being leased out yet.  Brand new space with FOR LEASE signs.  That investor must either be a Vegas gambler or have money to burn!  Maybe it comes from the way I grew up.  Maybe it is the former Realtor in me.  Maybe it comes from the fact that I find great satisfaction in making something from nothing; meals, decorating, clothes and home improvement projects.  Why can we not utilize and maximize vacant existing space?  Why do cities not enact codes to limit new commerical construction numbers based on the number of vacant and available spaces that already exist?  We are a throw away society for sure.  I do not believe that the economy is booming.  If it were, commerical space would not be sitting empty in the volume that it is.  Instead of altering or re-inventing the space that is already there, it is abandoned and new is built.  That would be fine if the old were torn down.  That would be a great building code enforcement rule; if you abandon commerical space (free standing from other stores, etc.) and it is not sold or leased within a certain time frame it must be given to the city or torn down.  I'm sure no one would vote me in for Mayor.   There is a neighborhood close to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana that created a neighborhood association.  They have rehabbed blocks and blocks of older houses, bringing them a much needed update and modern look.  You see the original style of an older 2-story home but the touch of modernism, sharpness and the power of an alliance to revitalize a whole section of a neighborhood.  Denigrating residential and commercial properties only serve to pull down the beauty of a city.  They promote lack of pride, give haven to crime and create further reason for homeowners and business owners to buy elsewhere.  I am tired of seeing run down properties that sit vacant but still have use and life in them.  Products in general are now cheaper to buy new than repair - washers, hair dryers, toasters, etc...  We have that same mind set with properties.  We need new life breathed into how we view caring for the earth and properties which inhabit it!



One might think because I write this blog and tell you things both impersonal and occasionally, thoughts that are of a personal nature, that I am a wide open book.  That would be incorrect.  If I were a house I would have many rooms.  I would let you in most of them, which would give you the illusion, the feeling that you were inside my personal world.  It would be untrue.  In my relationships with most people I very easily let them approach me.  People feel comfortable, sometimes overly so, to be who they really are with me with no fear of condemnation.  I truly embrace people for where they are, who they are and celebrate that in them - whatever that looks like.  I have some friends, who know me better than most people do, who say that I have a bit of mystery to me.  They would be correct.  They are alluding to the "rooms" that I keep to myself.  I am a free-spirit in a great many ways.  It's not that I won't let you in.  It's not even that you really notice I am keeping you out because you are so free to just be you with me that you don't think about me except how I make you feel.  That works to my great benefit!  When I met Doug, my second husband after a marriage of 25 years, it was instantaneous, passionate, soul connecting, white-hot love.  It still has not changed one iota.  Since we met and married within 30 days, we have been dating and being married simultaneously.  Interesting experience in your mid-life years.  Youth and raising kids are behind both of us, so is the prime of our bodies and health!  I have some major digestive problems.  They have plagued for me for many, many years.  If you read this blog you have read of my diarrhea situations.  If not, you should, though it is not for the faint of heart!  In the first week of meeting Doug, my friend Big D asked if I had openly shared my diarrhea issue with Doug.  Uh, yeah Big D, that's exactly what I did (sarcasm)!  How do you tell someone that amount of gross detail of your life without them being scared to death.  It's not that I was trying to hide it, but sipping wine over a table in a restaurant or snuggled up on the couch never seemed like the appropriate place.  Oh hell, when is the best moment to tell this new love of my diarrhea follies!  So I kept it in (double meaning humor here people!).  In fact, now that I am sitting here writing this I can think of another diarrhea post I need to write.  Diarrhea, while also being horrific, is funny.  So many things out of our control are!  Doug soon learned by sheer up close living that I frequented the bathroom many days.  He was very compassionate.  Just a few days ago, I shared that a handful of times in my adult life I have had uncontrollable diarrhea which resulted in several pooping-yourself-in-bed episodes.  We both laughed and then he turned to me, "Baby, that wouldn't make me love you any less."  He got to live out those words the very next night.  Diarrhea bowled over me for 2 straight days unrelenting.  After the first night of feeling like either a newborn or someone who should be wearing Depends, I lost all dignity.  After literally going to the bathroom some 30-40 times in a span of 5 hours, I was stripped of any morsel of pride, dignity or decorum.  It peeled away the wall.  I decided to let it all out with Doug.  There is nothing hot and sexy about massive diarrhea.  Nothing about describing what is coming out of you after 5 hours of diarrhea, or that you need Preparation H and a 50 gallon barrel of Vaseline and a pillow to sit on, that is romantic or appealing.  He didn't squirm.  Instead he was loving, compassionate and humorous with me and my stripped-to-the-bones sarcastic delivery of this information to him.  Now mind you I would rather NOT have to show this side of me to him.  I would rather be very private.  But it was impossible at this juncture.  We both laughed at what it has been like to be married and dating all at the same time.  When Doug moved in my house, my bathroom was half-done.  The fan/light was installed but not wired to the switch.  There were wires literally hanging from the wall, and a jimmy-rigged shingle holding back insulation from where the new fan was smaller than the original opening cut for the old fan.  That meant, anytime you went to the bathroom and there was no TV or music playing or water running at the sink, you could hear everything.  Doug played music loudly before going to the bathroom, and I ran the water while I was in there.  He shared that the first 6 months, until we got the bathroom done, he would hold the major bathroom explosions until he got to work.  I laughed!  I think ultimately my diarrhea was freeing for both of us to just be.  He took me in his arms and said, "Nancy, if diarrhea in bed doesn't prove that I can't stop loving you then I don't know what would.  If I have to clean you up some day, I will and I will love you through it."  I texted Big D and told her my diarrhea story.  She roared in laughter telling me she was glad I finally told Doug, and to eat less fiber.



"All is quiet on the western front" is a quote from the book of the same title written in 1929.  It follows the story of a young man who joins the German army at the start of WWI.  The quote is in reference to the close of the book where "all is quiet on the western front" is part of the situation report from the front line - indicative also of the cheapness of human life in war.  That phrase gets used in our modern culture as a correlation to when the crisis has passed or subsided, the problem is calm again, the acuteness has faded in comparison to what it was previously.  That phrase also speaks to how things are replaced routinely or readily in our lives with other things of lesser and/or greater intensity.  It's that whole nothing lasts forever take on the mobility of all things in our lives.  Including, life itself.  I'm sure if you look backwards across the scope of your life up to this point, you can clearly see that principle at work.  You can see dynamics in life too.  Periods where it is intense, where stress is high, where financial worries are great, where personal relationships are humming smoothly or they are grossly out of sync.  I love music.  I write about it from time to time.  There is power, expression, mystery and even healing in music.  The word dynamics is used in music to describe the process within a song of change in speed/rhythm/volume.  Music is no different than speech.  It's hard to hear beyond people's words when they are talking, to the inferred and felt meaning, without voice inflection changes, without facial changes, without volume changes.  Monotone voices don't hold our attention or showcase the power of the words.  Those dynamic changes clearly help paint a picture of what the speaker is saying with their words.  Dynamics help create a story.  That flow causes us to experience mere words with greater connection.  If we lived life monotonish, always constant and flat lined - whether always great or always bad, we would be less connected, less able to feel, to experience.  There have been times I have longed for moments to come where all is quiet on the western front.  I have needed the intensity to calm down, the crisis to avert, relent or cease all together.  But other times, I have longed for the monotony to ratchet up, for passion to flair, start or drive me.  Dynamics in life are multi-dimensional.  They create a life with music, relationships, nature, work, family, and faith in a setting that ebbs and flows.  Showing us wonder, fragileness and constant movement all at once.



There are things that I cannot do.  Some of them I wish I could.  Some, I am glad I was not given the propensity, ability or desire for.   For instance, I cannot whistle loudly or even correctly for that matter.  Which means, I cannot readily whistle the theme music to the "Andy Griffith Show".  As a kid I taught myself a version of whistling by puckering my lips, but instead of blowing out, I sucked air in to make the whistle.  My sisters tried to undo my wrong form, but I still whistle to this day by slowly inhaling air as I make a whistlie noise.  I cannot whistle like my mother.  She could whistle so loud and shrill that we could be a quarter mile away or back in the woods and recognize the call to head home.  That is talent I do not have.  Just the other night, while laying in bed with Doug, I mentioned that I always wished I could whistle with two fingers in my mouth  (we have the most interesting bedtime conversations).  Was there a class I could take?  Doug was interested too as he can't whistle like that either.   I am not a belcher either.  Do I from time to time have a bit of a backwards burpie hiccup sort of sound?  Yes, but it is quiet and not often.  My mom and her side of the family were burpers.  If the difference between force and volume is what determines a burp versus a belch, then they were belchers.  My Aunt Dee is amazing.  She can break the sound barrier with her belches.  My mom carried on the tradition as well.  Both of them can belch very loudly and with amazing longevity.  Reportedly some high notes emitted by opera singers can shatter glass, their belches can pop an ear drum!  I cannot produce that no matter how I try (and I don't!).  It skipped me and went directly to my daughter.  Hannah can readily keep up with her burping/belching elders.  It is a sight and sound to behold to hear this 100 pound young woman bring such power out!  That is one thing I am not really sad that I cannot do.  Just like there are burpers, there are pukers.  I cannot do that as well.  And, for the record, I have no desire to want to be given the ability.  It's not that I swallow the urge to throw-up, I just really don't ever have the urge.  I have thrown up only once in my entire lifetime and that was in 3rd grade on my red boots.  That throw-up was part of the start of mononucleosis.  Pukers are funny to me.  Not just the sounds they make when they throw up, but what they say to non-pukers;  You'd feel better if you could throw up.  Sometimes I know that my stomach will calm down once I get it out.  It's such a relief when it's all over.  Really?  You think bringing up the contents of my stomach through my esophagus and mouth into a porcelain bowl while kneeling in front of it would make me better?   After I'm done with that would you run over my little toe to take away the pain of the hang nail I have on it!  I think, if I ever swallowed something poisonous and they had to get it back out, Syrup of Ipecac wouldn't even work on me.  I also cannot roll my tongue.  That is just a genetic predisposition I was not given.  It is somewhat amusing and cool to watch others gathered at family gatherings, Super Bowl parties and Bar Mitzvahs show off their tongue curling abilities.  I really don't have a strong longing to curl my tongue or really have reason why I would need that ability.  I rarely eat stemmed maraschino cherries nor do I have a deep need to tie knots in their stems.  Some things I just can live without - puking and curling my tongue are a few. 



Acutely aware I am at times of the effects of age.  Particularly in regards to my mental proclivity.  It would appear I occasionally succumb to the slippery slope of slowly dying brain cells and their results.  I would like to think, cling even, to the fact that I am razor sharp.  Though the washes of age have reached my face and parts of my body, including my hair color, that it has not touched my memory is unfortunately just not true.  If I get wrinkles by my eyes from years of living, what occurs to the parts of me I cannot visually see, like my mind? Evidently our brain grows until we are in our mid-twenties.  Reaching a maximum average size of 3 pounds.  Neurons fire our brains with the power of regenerating cells.  Though cells die daily, they are partially replaced by new ones.  Don't worry, we are not at risk of running out of them as we have 100 billion neuron cells supported by 1 trillion support cells.  Ah, but then you have environmental influences, physiological stresses, and diseases that affect that balance and its effectiveness.  Yesterday early evening, with winds at roughly 18-20 mph, I decided to go for a walk.  Winds that strong make running difficult so I had logged my running miles on the treadmill.  Wanting to experience air and nature, I readied myself to walk 4 miles.  Now, I assume, in many ways you are like me - a creature of habit or routine.  I approach leaving the house to walk or run in a very systematic way... Bathroom, shoes on, stretching, sunglasses, key removed from living room end table, key placed in mailbox attached to house so I don't have to carry it with me.  I did that routine out of order yesterday.  Why, I don't know but I would suspect I got interrupted at some point.  I can't even clearly remember what interrupted me!  As I walked out the front door and pulled it shut behind me, I realized I had left the key on the table.  I was locked out.  No worries, I thought.  It was only about an hour until Doug came home from work.  I was planning on being out that long anyway.  I texted him and told him what I had done but that I would change my walk pattern and walk to him - to his office downtown and just ride home with him.  Arriving at his office he chuckled at my key ordeal.  Standing there I put my left hand in my left jean pocket.  I could feel a key!  Pulling it out I held it up for Doug with a sheepish grin.  Why the hell would I have put it in my pocket, let alone into my left pocket that I don't really ever use.  Being right hand dominate I never thought to check my left pocket.  Brilliant I am.  We laughed about it.  I told Doug it was like I was I blacking out temporarily and not remembering doing certain things.  It was too close for my comfort to the last memory episode I had last week.  While in Washington D.C., I walked all over the city while Doug was in meetings.  One particular day, the temperature had risen significantly from when I left the hotel in a heavy cardigan sweater with only a cami under it.  I got hot but didn't take the sweater off as I didn't want to walk around D.C. in just a white cami.  Though I saw much less clothing on people than that.  Did I put deodorant on today?  My armpits feel damp.  Oh my word, I can't remember doing my normal routine in the order that I normally do this morning.  I think I put my perfume on first which I normally put on after 6 swipes of D.O. under each arm.  Do I smell?  I need deodorant!   Some of you are stopped back on the fact that I number the swipes under each arm.  FYI:  summer increases the swiping number to 7 each.  Don't worry Doug and I are equally matched in this whole numeric deodorant swiping thing.  He does it too:)  That's how I knew I loved him.  Again this morning there was a pause, a break in my synaptic brain flow.  Literally 5 minutes after taking my thyroid medicine which sits by the bed with a bottle of water, I asked Doug if I had taken it.  Thankfully, though still sleepy, he recalled the rattle of the pill bottle.  Researchers say foods like apples, blueberries, fish, red beets, broccoli, rosemary, grapes, cherries, onions, can boost our memories.  The sad part is I ate every one of those things on that list last week, except for blueberries.  It must be junk science.



You might have noticed that Google has monetized my website.  I thought it might be beneficial to make at least $1 for writing drivel non-sensical words religiously everyday.  Not everyone has that ability!  Google AdSense is a bit like a crystal ball.  They peruse the words I write looking for tag lines that correspond to ads that they feel fit the content and pages.   Then, they place the ads as a logical, semi-logical or even unconscious link to the reader's mind for something they didn't know was out there.  They are sometimes a post behind in their ads.  Many times the ad posted better fits the previous day's post rather than the one it's on (case in point look at today's lawn mower equipment ad next to this post!).  I don't know if you have giggled at some of them, but I have.  For instance, I am not a Mormon.  Maybe you are, but I am not.  NOTE:  SOME ADS DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWPOINT OF THE AUTHOR AND/OR VIEWERS OF THIS BLOG!  Running parallel yesterday alongside my blog post was an ad for the Church of Mormon.  I would imagine since I wrote about Easter and God (from a non-denominational view point I might add), Google had a Mormon ad they were dying to place somewhere.  My post was close enough, at least it was "religious".  I am not sure where Google finds tag words regularly in my posts for "online colleges", but I am not opposed to bettering oneself and expanding knowledge.  Maybe that's where they made the ad connection.  You can online yourself to a B.A. degree right from my website!  I think one day I saw an ad for some sort of dried fruit on my post page.  I eat dried fruit alot - in oatmeal, mixed in the trail mix I make for snacks, sometimes just plain.  Did I talk about dried fruit in my blog?  I am beginning to sense a bit of Big Brotherness going on with Google AdSense.  There have been a few ads in French.  They do that for a time until they can more thoroughly track your content and place appropriate ads.  Those French ads are like test ads.  I did though one time have someone leave a comment on a blog post in French.  Since I don't speak French, fluently or otherwise, I had to ask my son-in-law who speaks French to translate it for me.   So, I suppose to that one reader from France, and my son-in-law who I don't think reads my blog, those ads in French were clearly hitting their demographic.  Since I do write from time to time about breasts, there have been a few showing some large breasted women having had enhancements.  I think Google barely skimmed the content of what I write clearly NOT seeing that I have small breasts!  The ads have painted a picture to me of what I write.  Which, by the way, appears to be absolutely everywhere from God, to the government, money, washcloths, breasts, reflections of self, adventures, running, nature, my view on coffee, clothing styles, swearing and grace.  Based on the diversity of subject matters written about, Google must scratch their heads and crap shoot on what ads to put in this blog.  My brainiac marketing/digital newspaperman of a husband tells me that is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization - finding ways to increase web page traffic and searches for your website).  What the hell that is exactly is beyond me.  I reminded him that I just got an IPhone less than a year ago and still have loaded only Urban Spoon and a better weather app to my phone.  I find the world of marketing fascinating.  Marketing really is a branch of psychology - understanding why people think a certain way and how the result of their way of thinking influences the things that are bought or read or believed.  It fascinates me that people read what I write.  I would like to crawl in their heads to find out why!  Much like why Google AdSense put an ad for dried fruit in this blog.



I have been bombarded as of late with the cost of repairing or maintaining things in our possession.  Something is most definitively out of whack economically any more!  I went to pick up my lawn mower, a toro top of the line walk behind mulcher which is about one year old.  Since I was contacted by Toro that there was some warranty work (bolts on transmission needed to be changed out), I took it back to the dealer where I purchased it.  I transported it to them, so there was no pick up or delivery fee.  I also had a free blade sharpening coupon from the initial purchase that I used as well.  While there for the warranty work I had them ready it for mowing season.  You know, change the oil and filters, a new spark plug.  Basic stuff.  Today I picked it up.  $72.00 dollars!!!!  $60 in labor and $12 in parts.  Not being able to contain my disgust at such a ridiculous amount I said to the owner who was handling my transaction, "Wow!  Why $72.00?  I delivered it to you.  I picked it up.  I had a coupon for free sharpening.  The warranty work was free.  You changed the oil and two filters and a spark plug.  Those are easy to get to on a mower.  That is MORE than I pay to have my $20,000 vehicle serviced!!!"  I'm not sure he appreciated my doubting the validity of charging that much to service a damn $400 mower.  I have changed my own mower oil in the past, and my dad usually sharpens the blade for me.  Recently I had a leak in a coupling that connects to my water softner.  I called a plumber I had used in the past as Doug and I were headed out of town that day.  Returning home after the weekend away, I was met by a bill for $210.00.  $75 service call and $90 in labor plus a small part.  I did his math.  It did not add up to $210.  I called the plumber and questioned his technicians ability to add a bill and why changing one coupling was that much money.  When he had the bill fixed correctly, I said I would pay it.  Two months went by before I got a corrected bill of $165.00.   Now there are honest errors and then there are ridiculous costs to basic and simple things. $60 an hour for labor is robbery.  Why go to college if you can be a plumber, an electrician or a mower repairman and earn $60 per hour!  I am going to stop writing this blog and become something having to do with skilled manual labor and make $125,000 a year!  We took our middle daughter and her husband out for dinner a few weeks back.  It was a costly night at $170 for the four of us.  Last week I hired someone to grind out a tree stump.  When I called my husband to give him the quote for what it would cost to have it ground out, $170.00, he happily replied, "Well, something is wrong with the world when eating out costs the same as grinding out a huge tree stump!"  Comparatively I think he felt like he got more for his dollars in the tree than a meal that was consumed and instantly gone.  It never stops.  Costs of everything are way out of skew.  When I was a Realtor the real estate market had a much needed correction.  Values cannot increase forever!  Bank lending practices got a slap on the wrist and a bit tighter regulations.  I think retail prices need a bit of curtailing!!  I will go back to changing my own oil in the mower.  And if I don't have to leave for a weekend away, Doug and I will fix the next leak.  We will now eat peanut butter sandwiches for birthday meals or a home cooked meal.  And if I only knew how to dispense my own prescriptions and diagnose myself think of the thousands I could save there as well. 



It's Easter.  Thoughts of Jesus and pork are colliding in my brain.  No really, I had many thoughts today.  Jesus and pork were just a few of them.  It was a bit of a strange day for me.  Coming back yesterday from a week in Washington D.C., I was just a bit off kilter.  Maybe there was some tiredness in my body.  Maybe there was a twinge of disappointment and wistfulness that I did not want the great week we had to come to an end.  Maybe there was disgust that life would return to the high stress level it had been in the past recent months without being able to change it.  Maybe Easter was a more than the usual Sunday poignant reminder that going to church was difficult for me at times based on what I had experienced in the past couple of years. I talked to God about it yet again.  As I ran early this morning I thought about God.  I thought of His goodness to me long before Jesus had been born.  Long before Jesus had died to bridge a way back to God from our sin.  I saw His goodness in the creation around me.  In the sky, the leaves, the oxygen I breathed, the sun rising, the cool spring air, the quietness of the earth as a new start of a day began once again.  I thought about the next thing He created, humanity.  What a loving God.  Creating anything makes it a part of who you are - a painting, a dress you make, a meal, a song, a blog, a book, a business presentation, a lesson, a home improvement project.   It is an extension of yourself in another form.  There is something about loving what we create.  God is the ultimate picture of that.  Easter is the result of God's deep connection to the humanity - the people He created.  Easter, the death of Jesus and ultimately His resurrection, was a way for a holy God to have a relationship with the unholy, imperfect people He loved.   I was humbled at God's goodness in all that He created, me included.  Grateful that God's deep love would allow Him to give up His son so that we all could be free.  Jesus was not merely a martyr though.  He didn't pay a price only so that we could live.  It was not just a trade - His life for ours.  He paid the price so that we could ultimately be free from rules, law, bondage.  He paid the price so that He could show us that He can change darkness to light.  That He had the power to take destruction and breathe new life into it.  In that one event of resurrecting from death, Jesus literally ripped away the power of sin to destroy us.  He swept away the law that we were never able to keep.  He broke down barriers and the list of no-no's so that grace was where we could live.   No more was there Jew and Gentile, slave and free or the limitation of the law like not being able to eat pork.  All things were made clean through Him.  I thanked Him too for bacon.  And ultimately the grace that God freely gave through Jesus.  Grace I use daily.     



At the very least men and women are geared differently.  Our differences though, much of the time, are blaring clear.  The gender chasm between us gaping wide open.  Ogling is one distinctive marker of difference.  It's not that one gender looks lustfully at the other while the opposing gender does not look or even notice.  That would be far from true.  The distinction between the two parties is methodology.  Approach.  Implementation.  I can only speak about females from a know - I AM ONE.  My perspective from men is from experience and observation.  My know is stopped short of being a male.  While walking arm in arm with my husband last night through the evening air in Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., we passed crowds of people, people eating at outside cafes on a beautifully warm Spring evening.  It's a higher economic crowd and probably safe to say, a higher educated crowd.  So, what I experienced told me something that is universal (though toned down a bit in the white color crowd) - men look at women in obvious ways.  And, they are obvious about it even if the woman is with a man.  As my husband I strolled about we passed by a group of suits (men) standing outside a restaurant.  I saw one of the men look at me in boldness even though I was holding hands with Doug.  He went a step further.  As we got directly in front of him, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he turned his whole head to watch the rear of me as we strode by him.  He seemed unaware and unabashed in his ogling.  I could feel his eyes on my posterior as we walked away.  Starting to steam a bit inside, I commented to Doug about the man to see if he had noticed.  Oh he had indeed noticed.  We talked from a man and woman's point of view of that event.  Of the ogling.  At first Doug was funny with his, "well I would look at your ass too babe - it's great!"  Then he shared that there is a bit of unwritten etiquette between men; even if you notice a beautiful woman, if she is with someone, you are not blatant like that.  He noted that he too had watched the man stare and turn his head to follow me.  It seemed a bit like a show on animal planet to me!  Now, not to sound harsh, but the more white collar the man, the better and more discreet they are at ogling a woman.  This man, though very white collar looking, played by blue collar rules.  Woman look and notice men too.  We are not above seeing a physical work of art and taking it in.  For the most part though, woman can do it all without a man even really knowing they did it.  I think that comes from the fact that women utilize their overly observasive skills far more on a daily basis in every avenue in life than do men.  We are just better at observing and not being obvious.  Women compared to men, observe in greater detail everything around them.  It's probably because we are fairly detailed oriented in living life.  It showcases itself well in our ogling - unassuming, almost never being caught doing it.  We walked a bit further toward another group of businessman walking toward us.  One man would not stop looking directly at me.  As they passed by, Doug commented on that man's strange behavior of not averting his gaze off of me.  I laughed, stating to Doug that I wanted to say what was in my head...Thanks for the visual affirmation, but buddy you crossed the line.  No woman likes that.  At least not the kind of woman who would stay with you long term!  I shared with Doug that everyone loves a bit of opposite gender affirmation from time to time.  You know the old, I still got it sort of thing.  I also smiled inside because I don't see myself the way others do I guess.  None of us probably do.  I am just average Nancy.  Though I've got Doug thoroughly fooled.



With my husband in a conference in Washington D.C., and I with the day alone before me waiting to meet up with him for dinner, I went in search of a cup of flavored coffee.  Everyone walks everywhere here.  Walking to get on public transportation as well.  I love to be outdoors, so walking 2 miles searching for coffee was no big deal.  I found no flavored coffee.  It must be a Midwest thing.  Evidently metro areas like hard-core plain coffee.  I spied the subway and decided I was game to try to find my way to the Holocaust Museum.   There are NO subways where I live in my town in Indiana with a population of 55,000 people.  I descended the stairs to an underground maize.  Never having navigated the "system", I took stock of the signage and ticket buying machines.  The problem was, like most things I do at times, I tend to wing it.  I had not researched prior to standing in the subway as to which colored subway line I needed to take.  I couldn't find the Holocaust Museum on the wall map.  I googled it on my IPhone to find an address and then searched the map for a street/subway stop near it.  It was close to the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian.  That still didn't help me as there were 3 different colored dots next to different stops that seemed to indicate different lines.  I laughed at how I had maneuvered through a very difficult life, but now found myself out of my area of expertise.  Watching people for a bit, I found a mom and a daughter that were using the ticket buying machine and asked which line I needed to be on to get to the Holocaust Museum.  She tried her best to help.  But, I could quickly tell she had little money and was unfamiliar with venturing into that part of D.C.  She told me what she thought, but inside I didn't think she was right (and she was not).  I thanked her profusely and waited for her to leave my line of vision.  Standing there again scouring the maps and lines, an elderly lady in her 70's raced up to buy a fare ticket.  She quickly turned to me and asked if I needed help.  YES, was my fast response.  In a few minutes she showed me where I needed to go, that I would need to get off at Metro station and change to the orange and blue line and get off at the Smithsonian exit.  She also explained the three different fares listed.  Her eyesight was poor and she had to ask me to tell her what the fares were and to add them up for her.  Kindly and graciously she waited for me, taking me through the turnstile and showing me again what to do with the ticket I had to operate the turnstile.  Standing on the other side was her partner, another elderly lady appearing a bit older than her and using a cane.  They chatted with me and said they were going to Metro Station as well.  I walked with them as we talked about their lives, why she was so willing to help and where they were going.  She commented that 25 years ago when they came to D.C. she too didn't know how to get around and was always willing to help a newbie.  She shared they were retired professors from the University and lived in the city during the winter/spring and less hot parts of the summer.  When the weather turned too hot, they went to their other home in British Columbia.  They were gracious and gentle, well versed in the arts and current affairs.  They laughed easily with me and asked about living in a town of 55,000.  As we exited to Metro Station, they paused and pointed me toward the next blue/orange line I would need to get on, patted my hand several times, wished me a delightful day, and re-iterated that I had a most honest face.  (Note to self; look more bad ass in the city Nancy!)   Because of their help, I surfaced street side right by the Department of Agriculture Building (fitting for a farm girl from Indiana).  Still not knowing which way to go, I stopped a business man.  He took me to the middle of the sidewalk where I could more easily see clear down the blocks and pointed to where I needed to go.  Assuring me again that I could not miss the Holocaust Museum when I got there.  I spent 4 hours walking D.C. before I found a street vendor with popcorn.  I sat for a time eating popcorn, drinking water and watching people before I decided to venture back via the subway.  Thanks to those two professor's lesson, I understood the ticket and turnstile now.  I was helped by yet another businessman to get me on the right westbound orange/blue line, but I made it back.  Exiting from the world below the streets to bright sunlight, I walked the mile from the station back to the hotel.  I was exhausted from 4 plus hours of walking and mentally engaging in a transportation system that was unfamiliar to me.  Sitting outside for dinner at a restaurant last night with my husband, I commented that my trip on the subway cost me a total of $2.55 round trip, $4.00 for a bag of popcorn and $1.65 for a cold bottle of water.   I had spent literally nothing but had in turn had a great experience - which was priceless.  



I noted several things yesterday while flying en route to Washington, D.C.  They are things I have logged in my memory bank before.  But, since I am not a more than once or twice a year air traveller, I don't have to deal with them regularly.  It's the out of sight, out of mind principle at work with the things I noted.

1) There should be a full 25 question written test with a follow up oral interview for anyone who sits in the exit seat.  Yesterday, before take off, the flight attendant stopped at the exit seat which happened to be behind us.  I heard her ask the man, "Sir, in the event of an emergency could you help others exit the plane?"  His response was very solidly definitively weak and made me want to box his ears in.  "Hopefully," the man quivered.  Good Lord!  Just what I wanted to hear - his scarity catness mixed with ambivalence.  The flight attendant was quick to be blunt (a trait I share and admire in any one), "Sir, I need a yes.  If you are not able to state that honestly then I cannot allow you to sit in an exit row."  She nailed him good.  Now I would venture to say that he followed up with a yes solely because of being called on the carpet and probably not with anymore heart or conviction inside.  My Type A personality was already preparing to shove him out of the way if an emergency did occur and man the damn door myself! 

2) "Sky Mall" magazine, which is in the seat back in front of you on every commercial plane from every airline you might ever fly on, is hysterically amusing to me.  Think about it.  You are trapped in that seat for hours and evidently their research has shown that people want to SHOP for overly priced and bizarre products that you may not be able to get while NOT in the air.  The publishers of that magazine must scour the world over to find the bevy of almost ridiculous, who needs them or would really ever use them products and then market them as must haves to people trapped in a seat for 4 hours.  I read it for pure entertainment making snide and sarcastic comments on the items for sale.

3)  Coffee.  If you read this blog, you know that I LOVE coffee, but really only flavored coffee.  Southern Pecan, Macadamia Nut, Vanilla, Anything with a hint of coconut and nuts rolled together.  I will only drink plain old regular coffee if it is as smooth as a baby's butt.  Which, is a rarity!  Airports must be on a trade embargo with any flavored coffee because I have yet to find an airport that will sell a cup of it.  Starbucks usually rules or some other harsh, dark, and ash laden brand of shit.  I tried my search for a cup of flavored coffee yesterday in the Milwaukee airport.  The gal who waited on me and my husband was engaging and I engaged her sportily back.  I asked if they had any flavored coffee and then braced myself for what I knew would be the response, "We can add any flavor you like to the coffee" she said with spark, tattoos and gaged ear lobes.  I laughed as I explained my "flavor" meant a brewed flavor not a sticky sweet syrup pumped into regular coffee.  I don't put sugar in my coffee only cream.  She laughed and offered me a taste of their coffee - their iced coffee as it is watered down by the ice.  I had a dilemma.  I hate iced coffee.  Actually the flavor wasn't bad.  She then gave me a taste of the hot coffee.  YUCK!  OH YUCK!  I declined both even though I was tempted with the iced coffee warmed up in the microwave with half and half to make it light tanish.  I synopsized my coffee in an airport problem.  I asked about her gaging, her parent's reaction, and how long it took to get those lobes gaged to that size.  She was colorful, respectful and clear to say that parents should not let 13 year olds get tattoos (she had many and worked at a tattoo parlor) or piercings till they are older.  Doug ordered a small shitty cup of strong coffee and put enough sugar in it sweeten an entire pie.  He said it was horrid.  I suggested to him while walking through the terminal that we start an airport coffee franchise with flavored coffee.  I think it would be a huge hit!

3)  There is just a spirit of distrust when flying now.  The more crackpotish things that happen either with pilots melting down (Jet Blue) or passengers freaking out in rage or mental illness, everyone is now a suspect.  It makes going through security this heavy dark experience.  I blab while going through it.  As I got through the full body scanner yesterday and was standing at the belt where your belongings and half the clothes you were wearing are waiting, I turned to the business man beside me.  He was putting on his shoes, belt and suit coat.  I remarked, "Airports are about the only place that we get dressed in front of total strangers.  It is just funny and strange."  He laughed and said that he just tries not to think about it.  Sitting at the gate waiting to board everyone sort of visually examines each other.  Wonder where they are going?  Will I have to sit by that baby on the plane?  Seriously who said that outfit was appropriate outside of mowing the yard?  He looks a bit shady, better keep my eye on him. 

4)  Food and snacks aboard flights just ain't what they used to be.  You might, depending on the length of the flight, get a complimentary juice/water/soda/coffee.  One plane I was on gave out 2 Lorna Doone cookies or 4 pretzel sticks that cost less than the individual sized bag they were in.  You had a choice of one or the other, NOT BOTH!  Yesterday, Frontier Airlines came through the cabin with a stack of warmed chocolate chip cookies.  For a brief second I was excited.  That is until I took a bite.  It was warmed cardboard flavored cookie.  Seriously how hard is a cookie to get right. 



When I was about 10 or 11 years old my dad took me out to the edge of the field and handed me his shotgun.  He instructed me how to place the butt end of it against my right shoulder.  He told me how to sight down the barrel.  He explained the trigger to me and then pointed off in the distance for something to aim towards.  I had never held a gun before.  I kinda liked the feel of it.  That is until I squeezed the trigger.  That shotgun kicked back on my right shoulder like an unexpected baseball flying through a window.  All 75-80 pounds of me fell backwards with a sharp pain that reverberated through my right shoulder.  I was shocked, stunned and caught off guard by the power of the gun and pain it produced.  Looking up I saw my dad laughing.  He too probably had forgotten the algebraic equation of gun times body weight divided by kick back EQUALS amount of force displaced per pound of body weight.  It was some years later before I picked up another shot gun.  This time I was older, weighed more and understood the kick back principle.  Guns were not associated with violence in the farm setting I grew up on.  Instead, they were used to hunt and occasionally shoot bats or starlings out of the barn.  I am not a member of the NRA, nor do I oppose them either.  Guns are a great deal like other things in life.  They have the power to be used correctly or to be used for harm.  I don't think a gun creates a killer.  Rather, a gun just enables a killer to kill.  The first time I was in Arizona and went in a restaurant/bar I was a bit startled to see people's handguns laying on the tables beside them while they ate.  I briefly heard salon music playing loudly in my head as the saloon doors to "The Long Branch"  Saloon (from the show "Gunsmoke") swung open.  I have a purple squirt gun in the basement that the grand kids use when they come.  Does that count as a weapon? 



My niece and her husband are expecting their first child.  It's an everyday occurrence in life really.  Children are born every day - a regular part of life.  But it is the start of a new generation of things on my side of the family.  I feel like life is moving far too fast.  How is it my sisters and I can now be next in the batting order of our kids having kids?  Slow down life!  I command you!  Standing in the bathroom this morning I was telling Doug how great his ass was.  It's ok, he's my husband:)  At 53 years of age he commented that his ass is not great but sagging.  I begged to differ with him.  But I concurred that it was afflicting me as well.   Sagging is gravity and age taking hold.  It's the passage of time across the cells of our bodies.  It's the dawn of a new progressive era for our bodies though.  So is my niece having a baby as the first in our children/nieces to do so.  I remember when she was born.  I remember her screwbally hair and floppy ways.  I can still recall her sitting 2 feet from the TV so engrossed in the show or cartoon that she was oblivious to any other living or inanimate object.  I remember all the stages of physical, emotional and spiritual growth she went through to become the amazing woman she is.  You know all the hard pedal work you do on a bicycle to get up a hill.  It's intense.  Your quad muscles burn.  Your biceps and core are straining to pull your weight and the bike's weight up the hill while fighting the natural course of gravity.  It would seem that this event of the first niece pregnant is like topping the hill for me and my sisters.  We are on the downhill side.  Co-existing inside of me is a twinge of sadness for the changing of the guard, and a bit of relief to see the baton passed.  It's funny, you find yourself so busy working your way up the hill that before you know it the halfway mark has come and gone.  We most definitely could now say that our longer days are behind us.  Knowing the immense privilege, gift and responsibility that lies with being given a child I pray for God's strength and wisdom.  I ask they be given an acute awareness to raise a child in the world we live in.  As my sisters and I seem to be entering the menopausal room, our kids are moving toward a romper room of sorts.  When you get on the other side of something that took great stamina you wonder how you ever made it while it was occurring.  It is no doubt best that we don't fully understand what always lies ahead of us.  We would get overwhelmed.  Inexperience is very beneficial in many ways.  At my age I look at parenting and get exhausted just thinking about the total immersion experience it is.  I think I need a nap.  Which I can take as I have crested the hill and am on the coasting side of life as an empty-nester.