If you've ever been to a large metropolitian city, or possibly Tejuana Mexico, you know there is a population of street beggars.  I'm not arguing their authenticity, whether it's a racket or not, just that large cities seem to be a breeding ground for it. 

Having walked past dozens and dozens of beggars employing various techniques to garner passerbys attention, I was struck by one gentleman's by-line to me as I walked by, "Darling, nice tan!"  I couldn't help but laugh.  I didn't though stop and give him any money.  I didn't necessarily doubt his begging sincerity, but do prefer my beggars to not comment on my physical appearance.   Manipulate my emotions, possibly yes.  Comment on my physical appearance, no!

Later in the day, phone in hand strolling the streets of the shopping district of downtown Chicago, a man walked up to me and recited his phone number to me.  I smiled.  "I saw you had your phone out, thought I would make it easy for you."  he said.  My smile changed to out loud laughter.  Kudos to that man for his bold originality, but I was deeply in love.  No pick up line would altar that one iota.

It was hot in Chicago yesterday, topping out at around 90 degrees.  So, that said, you see all sorts of scantily clad women.  Some, like me, are tastefully dressed for hot weather.  Others, like the woman who I followed for nearly a block just because I couldn't peel my eyes off her ass and outfit, defy taste and decorum. 

She was African-American with a body feature she obviously wanted to highlight.  Not necessarily fat, but not thin and lean either, she filled out fully the little bit she was wearing.  It was slinky, thin material, a bit drapey that barely covered covered her ass.  If that wasn't bad enough, it was a champagne color which allowed all to see what was or was not under it.  She was wearing a thong to which you could clearly see the straps coming up her buttocks and hips along with the strap crammed in her crack as the material clung to her derriere like a mountain climber to the side of a mountain.

How she walked in those high of heels, I do not know.  But, the combination of the style, material, her round hiney and the height of her shoes created a sort of up and down movement of her butt cheeks that nearly hypnotized me.  I couldn't look away.  In fact, I was so unabashed in my looking that I did it boldly without removing my gaze from her back side.  It could have easily become the 8th wonder of the world, or at least Michigan Street in Chicago.

Her make-up, jewelry and hair matched what your mind has conjured up to this point already.  The hitch in her get-a-long and the nearly invisible dress was captivating.  She probably knew it.  Knowing it, plus going out in public like that qualified her as possibly the dumbest person on the planet right next to any member of the Kardashian family. 



Riding the train into Chicago yesterday I was struck with a vivid image of the times.  Granted commuter train passengers are typically quiet.  There are pairs or small groups that might be travelling to or fro the city that know each other, but typically it's a very aseptic sort of mood.  Disconnected.  Everyone en route but not really interested in sharing their lives with virtual strangers who come and go with every stop.

I glanced around the train, sizing up the people that were on the car with me.  Some appeared to be without significant economic means.  Others, looked like they were travelling to stay in the city overnight with luggage in tow like us.  A few on their way home from work carried computer bags and were dressed in young professional urban wear. 

Where we boarded the train to the last stop downtown Chicago at Randolph Street is roughly two and half hours.  People boarded and de-boarded at every stop between our beginning and end destination.  They all had somewhere they were leaving from and somewhere they were going to.  We all shared that commonality.

More than that though, we shared something that was universal.  As I glanced around the train nearly everyone had some form of smart phone or smart device out in use.  I saw no one reading a book or a newspaper.  Instead, everyone was using their smart devices to entertain themselves - to waste the time it took to go from one place to another.  There was just a quietness on the train as everyone occupied themselves with heads bent down navigating their smart devices.

Behind me diagonally was a rather large overweight man in gray sweat pants (not a good look on anyone let alone someone who was that large) who brought on a shopping bag from McDonalds with enough food and calories to feed our entire train car.  He seemed to not have the greatest wardrobe and opted for elastic which aided him in his excessive consumption of McDonalds.  After wiping the french fry and burger grease from his hands and downing a 32 ounce Pepsi, he got his Ipad out.  Yes, an Ipad.  He didn't look like he could afford much, but he had a several hundred dollar Ipad.

That is my point.  No matter our economic situation, technology is not optional any more.  It is like food, housing, water and oxygen to us.  I giggled a bit inside at how the world has changed.  At how we cannot seem to disconnect ourselves from news, games, social media, email, texting, searching for information.  We don't ever really shut down.  Are we afraid we will miss something?  Do we not like life without technology?  We would be able to live fully without a smart device?

For me I don't want anything to become the thing that dominates all of what I am and do.  I wondered sitting there how much time we fritter away on smart phones that we could be doing something that produces a result.  Or at the very least, something that doesn't perpetuate yet a another addiction.

There is no turning back I am afraid.  Our culture now has a whole generation that knows nothing but a world of smart phones and Ipads.  What I think you will see next is studies done and books written about the need for a re-emergence to acknowledging we need to occasionally unplug and connect to the real world.  Good always comes with the possibility of the evolution of it toward excessive, out of balance.  It has swung there!



When I was growing up there was a game show called, "Let's Make A Deal".  This was the original show hosted and created by Monty Hall that first  aired in 1963, not the re-make version hosted by Wayne Brady presently.

The game's premise was that you could make a deal.  The participant would be given something; a TV, a vacation, etc.  Then they were offered a deal.  But, the deal was unseen.  It was a gamble whether you were trading up or down.  I loved the show!  There were outrageous costumes and much screaming from the audience trying to convince the player to gamble or keep the original deal.

While on vacation last week we stopped into a casino.  Neither of us are gamblers really.  Doug is a better poker player than I, but doesn't play poker or blackjack in a casino.  Strictly we do the slots.  And precisely we really only ever play the Wheel Of Fortune .25 cent slot with a limit of spending $20.00. 

Doug pushed the twenty dollar bill in and told me to sit, instructed me to push the button and then watched as I won a dollar on the first spin.  On my second spin I got the bonus of spinning the wheel of fortune.  I spun it and won 250 points, the equivalent of $62.50.  My eyes widened and we immediately cashed out and left the casino.  We don't mess around thinking we are going to win again!  We got our $20.00 back and made $62.50 in about 40 seconds.

I don't know if I was on "Let's Make A Deal" what I would do.  I think it would depend on whether I had an affinity towards the thing I could either trade and gamble with or keep. 

I thought about that today.  Sometimes if I am comfortable and it makes sense I don't take a risk.  That's not always good.  Safe is good, but shouldn't be a crutch to keep us from the unknown which many times holds the promise to be better than the safe. 

I can think of an issue in my life that I probably need to let loose of and gamble on.  Oh I can keep the flat screen HDTV or I can see what is behind curtain number 1. 

Doug is my gamble on love.  He is my "Let's Make A Deal" win.  I'm feeling quite lucky.



I am not an Oprah fan.  But, she highlights the power of viral marketing.  If you say something enough times and a few people ooohh and aaahhh over it, they will tell others.  The cycle repeats itself until, the momentum itself is what breeds the popularity, not necessarily the quality of the object/person themselves.  She has created a marketing empire bringing what might have been undiscovered and both undeserving things and people to the forefront.  She created taste pandimonium to some degree. 

I saw it in real estate when I was a realtor.  There was a man-made lake in my county.  In terms of lakes, it wasn't the nicest in the area for sure.  It was created by a man, illegally to some degree, scamming the Amish from some property and then flooding a wetland zone.  He marketed the hell out of it to Chicagoans.  They weren't locals and didn't have the lens maybe in which to view it clearly.  It caught on like wild fire.  Now mind you, there were submerged trees along a good part of the lake.  It didn't have the greatest color of water compared to other lakes, but someone started ooohhing to someone in Chicago. 

Some of us, or possibly all of us to some degree, both consciously and subconsciously, are influenced by what someone says.  That's why we wear logos on our clothes from certain designers because someone said that is cool, a marker of something.  No doubt that's why we buy in certain neighborhoods, or drive certain cars, or style our hair a certain way.  We even read, eat, and purchase certain things by those influences.  It is also the reason there are fads.  We are all on a quest to find the next best thing we cannot live without. 

I decided this week that I have things I really like.  This list does not involve people.  I have both some people I love deeply and some well, that like is being kind.  There are definite things that there is no way in hell I like nor will I ever.

MY LOVE LIST (incomplete but a full list may be requested if you so desire)

Alexander Valley Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon    $110 a bottle
UNFLIPPINGBELIEVABLE!  Oakey beyond measure and more velvety than anything I've ever tasted. The after swallow is even better than the swallow. Give me a straw please and a case!  Wine that expensive is ridiculous though indeed!

Cherry Republic Cherry BBQ Sauce  $7.95 for a pint jar
Throw in some cooked Michigan tart cherries to a delicious BBQ sauce and you could eat this straight from the jar without it ever making it to the meat on the grill! 

Gloria Jean's Macadamia Cookie Coffee  $12.00 for 24 K-cups
Smooth and creamy as a baby's butt with a nutty and buttery taste that makes you feel like you chewed something baked.  Add a touch of real half-n-half and the climax grows to near orgasmic levels!

The book, ZIPPY, by Haven Kimmell     $12.95 on
Currently on my fourth read of this book, I discovered it by accident at my local library some years back.  After literally laughing my way through it, and the author's ability to uniquely describe things in a story, I bought 3 copies and mailed them to my two sisters and my mom.  I have shared the book with others, one of which now refers to me as Zippy.

The Boathouse Restaurant-On the Peninsula Traverse City, MI   $40 meal
Veal Marsala is to die for.  I almost rarely eat red meat.  Though, I do not have an aversion to baby calves raised exclusively for their tender meat either.  This dish was absolutely the best I have ever eaten in my life.  Thinking about the flavors, the tenderness of that cut of veal, the Marsala sauce combined with the risotto makes me long to taste it again.  It was eaten during a severe thunderstorm which came across the bay adding to the ambiance, quality and setting of the restaurant and food.  Like any more expensive meal, the portion was small and made you wish for a double helping!  If I were on death row and was asked the last meal I would want to eat before the curtain is called, I would request the Veal Marsala from The Boathouse.  What a flavor to have in your mouth when the lights go out!

Aloe There by Botanica Lotion    $24.95 a bottle
The thickest and best absorbing creme ever.  It consists of aloe, hemp seed oil, honey, soy and a bevy of stuff that one would not associate with rubbing on your body parts.  It is white and thick, but not greasy and feels like I think a puffy white cloud might feel set against a blue sky.  If you have chronic dry skin this is the creme for you.  It is best used daily in huge amounts right after the shower or post-sun. If a non-scent can have a smell that becomes like your skin, this is it!  It is the first layer of cremes I apply daily.  Ask my husband what he thinks of the smoothness it creates on your skin:)

MY NO WAY IN HELL EVER  (too long to list them all - request if desired)

Wear a tennis visor
Never ever will you see me wear a tennis visor.  Either wear a full hat or don't wear one. 

Own a Hummer
If there is moral reason for not liking something then I have it towards Hummers.  I cannot, based on my mode of living and thinking, drive a vehicle that is the epitome of excessive and marketing hype.  Why would I, even if I had money to blow, want to gas up a vehicle originally designed for military use that gets 7 mpg. 

Have a baby in my late forties
Hell to the no!  I have NO desire to birth a child at 46.  I love my daughter, love being a mom to her at her age of 25.  I love my freedom to come and go at my age.  The thought of raising a child until I am in my early-mid sixties is just frightening. 

Paint my fingernails red or wear red lipstick
Fingernail polish is garish to me.  Especially bright red.  It is ostentatious and looks ridiculous.  So is bright red lipstick.  My dad always said, "If the barn needs painting, then paint it."  Bright red fingernail polish and lipstick is like painting the words PAL MALL in huge print on the side of the barn. 

Get a massage in the mall
Never will you find me face down forward in a massage chair in one of those oriental massage places in the mall.  If I am going to get a massage, it is going to be in a dark, quiet room with Yanni music playing.  I want to strip down to my nothings and have every square inch of my body plied until it turns to butter.  I don't want my ass facing the mall walking crowd with a sign near me that says, MASSAGE 10 MINUTES - $10.



When do we truly know we shouldn't do something?  Does that self-enlightened moment occur in one fell swoop, like a hawk picking off his prey in a single fluid motion?  Or does the epiphany process lend itself to full fruition by reason and thought?  I wonder if there are people who lack both of those trains of thought. 

My mom used to tell us three girls when we were kids that if she ever got old and lost her mind (runs in our family!) to put her in a home and feed her marshmallows.  Why marshmallows, I don't know other than it signified soft, easy to feed to someone and that she probably wouldn't know the difference between a marshmallow and a t-bone steak at that point.

Aging is a strange process.  So is parenting.  The similarity and familiarity in both of those processes is that it unfolds before you.  Books can be written and read, but nothing prepares you for those journeys other than living them and feeling your way through them.  In that context it is exhilarating and daring and spontaneous.

I saw this sign recently.  It made me laugh and connected to that uh-huh spot deep inside....

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body,
but rather to slide in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, "WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Even as I typed it I smiled with acknowledgement that someone wrote what I think!  Life is a ride - hang on!

So back to when do you know you shouldn't do something any longer?  I pondered that this week as I put on my bikini at age almost 46.  I mean really, is it time to hang up the strings and cover up?  Do I see myself correctly?  Am I clinging to the last bit of youth like we do to the few warm days in October in the Midwest? 

I understand my mom's funny comment to us as kids.  We might, as we age, lose the ability - not from Alzheimer's or dementia necessarily, to let go and embrace the next stage.  I saw quite a few women this week that should not be wearing a bikini any longer or maybe should have never worn one.  I asked my husband if he would really tell me if I needed to put away my pink or black bikini if I hit the age wall.  He assured me he would.

Really?  Would he say, "Honey, your hotter days are behind you.  I like to "imagine" what's under your clothes so the more clothes the better."  He laughed at my train of thought.

My hair is fairly long for someone my age.  Does it look ok like this any more?  I don't want to be one of those people who cling to youth trying to be younger than I am.  I have made fun of that category of people most of my life.  Am I now one?   Are these my last few days of warmth in the October of life?  Maybe, but I might just ignore it!  Come to think of it, I think I'm gonna slide into death in any way shape and form I desire - in my black bikini, wrinkles and all!



I'm on vacation as I type this.  This in fact, is day five of vacation.  I've taken a break from writing by willing myself to not write even though I need to write like I need to run.  Not being able to refrain from it any longer, I decide words are meant for expression and my energy is meant to be gotten out by running.

Technically vacation is; a time of respite from something, an intermission of sorts.  That something is usually work, the routines of life, possibly our home.  Being on vacation has meant a break from life, work, responsibilities, maybe even a lightening of some disciplines.  It has fostered a change in my thoughts, a different pace, a momentary hiatus from the pursuit of progression forward in life.

Years and years ago, as a very young mother with no money, I remember a conversation I had with my dad regarding vacations.  He told me that even if you think you can't afford a vacation, it is the one thing that if need be, you borrow money to do.  Your mind, body, soul and spirit need a break.  He was so correct.  As I have aged, I have come to see the wisdom in a hiatus now and again.

I ran on the beach early this morning.  There was no one out.  All I could hear was the gentle lapping sounds of Lake Michigan's east bay waters repetitively touching the shoreline.  I ran barefooted.  For a girl who never wears socks even in my running shoes, it was freeing.  I splashed a time or two from the unevenness of the sand or the leftover sand creation remains from the kids who filled the beach from the day before. 

My calves and ankles liked the extra work involved.  My heart and mind wandered here and there.  I thought about how life moves fast at times and then slow at other times.  I thought about the life I live now is radically different than the one I had the first half of my life.  I thought about sitting on the beach the past few nights watching the sun set and if that would ever get old if I sat there night after night.  I thought about how we had spent the past 5 days leisurely and at-will.  I giggled that Doug and I both had the best meal of our lives on this trip and had even called back to the restaurant to get the name of the cabernet wine we had.  It was the most velvetty wine that I had ever drank.  I thought about the love we had made, the laughing we had done, the talking, the just being in sync with each other without distractions.  I loved this hiatus and really didn't want it to end.

As I ran the second round up the beach, I wondered if vacations really needed to be longer than a week.  It seemed to have taken Doug and I the first four days to stop being exhausted.  Work and responsibilities seem to slam into you from behind when you stop.  We both needed another week to just be refreshed now!

I laughed that after dinner last night, needing a few bites of something sweet, we went back to Cherry Republic to "taste" again a handful of samples.  We tasted our way through the store for the second time and purchased nothing that round.  Though earlier we had bought a half a case of cherry bbq sauce the same as last year. 

I thought about how we sat on the beach at 9 p.m. with a bowl of popped buttered popcorn and watched kids play, observed a young couple on their honeymoon that appeared to be either still in college or just out, a three-some of retired women with a bottle of wine, a large extended Vietnamese family vacationing together with their chairs lined up toward the water, a white collar family with two daughters and a couple that sat smoking in the gazebo nightly.  Most of us had been there the night before as the sun made its final move to its place of light half way around the world. 

Doug and I sat there after the sun went down.  We giggled, talked a bit of smut to each other, how the day was just about perfect, how neither of us get the fascination with lighthouses, and how a year ago we sat in this same place with six month of marriage and now we are at the year and a half mark.  He stared and kissed me over and over.  We did our routine, him saying I was the most beautiful woman in the world.  Me, telling him the world is big and there are a lot of women in it.  Would he still feel that way about me when I turned 60 or 70 or 80?  Would he still feel like his heart quickened a pace when he saw me at 80 or had to help me in the bathroom?  Yes, came his reply.

As I ran up the beach back to the hotel I thought of a cup of coffee on the patio and wondered if Doug was up yet?



When I was a kid I loved early summer mornings.  Sleeping in was never really an option in our house, and since mostly that fit with my natural physical bent, I didn't mind too awful much.  Most of the time.

June is the month emblazoned in my memory that most holds the clearest picture of tranquility.  It was still not mid-summer, where the days get long and the world endures the blazing heat.  June was cool nights that morphed lazily into warmth and then slipped back to coolness as the earth grew dark. 

The cool nights produced dew on the ground.  Early June mornings as a kid usually involved my shoes or bare feet getting wet as I ran through the yard, the earth not having yet warmed and dried itself in the sun long enough.  I waited for the warmth, the hotness of the day to come in June.  There was anticipation.

I left the house to run this morning, this June morning.  I was a kid again as I ran.  The dew was heavy in the grass, the air was light and cool, the world and everything in it was not warmed up and dried off fully yet.  I liked June.  I liked the feel of it, what it represented - the full passage of spring to summer.  It was an aaaahhhhhh month.

My mind was a bit like a June morning as well as I ran.  I was waiting for the crap to leave my thoughts and my spirit.  To be chased away by things I knew not pummeled by things I felt.  I ran to get it out.  I stifled a cry, willing myself to save my lungs for running and not waste them on tears.  

I returned to sit on the porch to drink coffee, eat a bowl of cantaloupe and watch the water droplets on the grass dissipate in the breeze and warmth of the eastern sun.   I let my tears out as well to dry in the sun too.

I did so love June.  I still do. 



I did not like this day.  There was not a lot I liked about it. 

If I were a baseball player my hitting would have been off.  If I were an Olympic skater I would not have done a triple sow cow or whatever the hell they call it in executional excellence.  If I were an Indy race driver I would have no doubt hit the curve too fast and ended the race early by crashing. 

I did not like how I felt inside today;  doubtful, unsure, miffed, distant, not listened to, a bit peopled out, a little less loved than my normal helping, my tank not topped off. 

I did not like the flow of the day which started after going to bed different than any other night I can remember since this new life of mine began. 

I did not like how I laid in bed this morning wanting something that always begins my day by filling me up to occur.  It didn't.  I did not like how that added to my already distant feelings inside.

I did not like the lack of emotional connection that seemed to be looming largely this morning. 

I did not like that my forehead appeared to be increasing or my hair decreasing - one or the other.

I did not like that though I chose to give up running on a cool morning, instead wanting deeply to connect to my Love, the usual connection wasn't as bright.

I did not like papers today at work.  They never seemed to go down.

I did not like that my cracked heel of my left foot could be seen by the whole world when I wore my black sling back shoes.  It reminded me how awful I am at caring for my heels!

I did not like that in our tiny remodelled bathroom I knocked Doug's ceramic coffee cup off our very small sink causing coffee to fly everywhere; walls, floor, sink cabinet, the door, the bathroom scale. 

I did not like that the coffee hit the sand finish wall paint which is not wipeable to a great degree.

I did not like that of all days I had to hit it while cleaning the sink and running behind schedule.

I did not like that open cup of coffee was in such a precarious place and that I was like a bull in a china closet near it.

I did not like that after I swore a handful of words, I got angry over an "accident".  I had turned into my parents who used to get angry when we spilled something at the table.

I did not like that I started the day off in a spirit of shittiness which topped off feeling disconnected and then culminated itself by being weepy when I got to work. 

I did not like how my mood started the day for the man I love so richly.

I did not like that when I tried to apologize to my husband he made texting "spilled coffee" jokes.  I was being serious.  Though his jokes were cute. 

I did not like that I felt not listened to.

I did not like that I missed someone today more than I felt missed by them.

I did not like that after rushing off from a friend to be with my husband, after telling him I would be home at a certain time, he was not here when I rushed home to be with him.

I did not like that he didn't mention a word of this horrific day but just endured my quiet, withdrawn aloofness.

I did not like that he did not scoop me in his arms, even if it might have caused me to flare my anger up momentarily.

I did not like that this day was like a fire fueled by oxygen on a windy day.

I did not like feeling out of step, out of sorts, and out of connection.

I did not like it Sam I Am!



Last time I had my vehicle in for service at the dealer where we bought it, they told me it had a dead cell in the battery.  Not being a licensed mechanic myself, I asked if it was imperative to get a new battery right then.  Since I had only had one time when it would not start, I felt like I was willing to roll the dice.  I figured worst case scenario, the battery would die at a most inconvenient time and/or location and I would have to get a jump from someone to get home.  Not great, but doable.  I felt like I would approach this impending need for a new battery like I do putting gas in my car - wait until there is no other option.

My husband left for work and soon after I was headed out the door to an appointment about 30 minutes from my house.  I turned the key less starter only to hear it turn over quickly and then die.  Oh no, I thought, my key fob battery is dead.  I tried it again, expecting it to turn over but prepared to run back in the kitchen where the extra key fob battery is kept for times just like this.

I turned it again.  All the lights on the dash board lite up with the same clicking sound emanating from the engine as before.  It appeared that dead battery cell had finally caught up with me.  It didn't make an appointment or come at a convenient when I had all the time in the world kind of day.  I called my husband who came home from work that he had just arrived at to jump my car.  I called my appointment and told them I would be 30 minutes or so late. 

Feeling very confident it was the doomed battery, I figured upon leaving my appointment I would require yet another jump to get me back home and to the auto part store for a new battery.  As I predicted, the car did not start upon leaving the appointment but only clicked loudly upon start. 

One of the staff at the business where I was, a woman, came out to let me jump my battery off her car.  I had the cables but needed a working battery to juice mine back up.  She pulled her car next to mine.  Now mind you, I am no Goober the mechanic from the "Andy Griffith Show", but I can jump a battery.  She, on the other hand, didn't even know where the battery was once her hood was up. 

After I attached both cable ends to each car battery she smiled at me, made some comment about this is stuff her husband does but made no attempt to start her car.  She just stood there.  I wondered to myself if she was that clueless and did not fully understand she needed to now start her car so its battery could re-juice mine.  My thought didn't last long when she said, "Go start your car now.  It is charged."  I was in trouble.  She was clueless.  It was not my car that needed to be started, but hers, the one with the working battery.  I explained that her car now needed to be started to charge my battery. 

After a few short minutes, my car started.  I disconnected the cables and shut both of our car hoods.  She stood by seeming a bit unsure of how all of it had worked.  Whether she was handy or mechanically inclined or not, I didn't care.  She had a car battery that she was willing to share.  It gave me enough power to get to Auto Zone for a new car battery.

Standing in Auto Zone paying for my new battery and wiper blades, I heard one employee turn to another and say, "Somebody better go out and help that guy.  I sent him out to check his engine to see if it was a V6.  He's been out there staring at the engine for quite some time now.  I think he is clueless!"  He must have been related to the lady that let me borrow her battery juice.



When I was a senior in high school we each completed a senior survey that was published and distributed to the school student body.  It had questions like; what do you aspire to be?  your favorite music?  person who influenced you the most?  most embarrassing moment?  The last statement on the survey was; I will my ______________________ to _________________.  That fill-in the blank statement allowed you to leave something, some ability, some rightful title earned, a possession, a nickname, anything to some underclassman, thus leaving your legacy of something to someone.   It was meant to be humorous.

I have 5 nieces that I have always been close to.  They are all unique, smart, beautiful and bless me by their zest for life, smiles and love.  My own daughter rounded out 6 granddaughters on my side of the family now ranging in age from 19-26.  Three are married (including my daughter), one is engaged and two are sophomores in college. 

Jessica, my oldest niece and a year older than my daughter, has an exuberance for everything.  From the time she entered the outer world, she has found throw her head back pure joy in just about everything from a silly kid song as a child, a new nail polish color, a good book, a bite of pie, in playing guitar and singing, to her work, friends, family.  You name it, whether mundane, routine or grand, she got equally excited and expressed it.  She still does.

She has been married 4 years.  More than ready to start a family, her and her husband have had a difficult time, due to some physical issues, getting pregnant.  As time has worn on without a pregnancy, it has left them frustrated, disappointed and probably a bit angry that life seems to be happening for those around them, but not them.   Understandable for sure. 

Not being able to shake her from my thoughts a few days back,  I called her at work one day.  Expecting to hear her answer the line in that Jessica joyishness that gushes in her words, I was met with a more subdued and quiet Jess.  We talked a bit about this and that.  Jobs, apartments, living in a large city now for her.  I asked how she was really doing, how her emotions were with not being able to get pregnant.  She shared her disappointment, her husband's struggle and his deep desire to be a father.  My heart broke for her.  Being in a waiting room in life when you want to be moving fluidly fulfilled through it is horrific. 

I couldn't change her physical body.  I couldn't speed up this season she and her husband were going through.  I didn't want to give her a pep talk, a cliche (even though time does change everything to the good or bad).  The only thing I had to offer was humor.  Irreverency to view heartache brushed with a bit of humor.

"Jessica, most of the time we will things to people upon our death.  Maybe some money, a house, a trinket...  I would like to will you my uterus right now.  I'm 45 and done with it.  It still is mostly working and I don't want or need it!"  My outrageous, fly in the face of somberness aimed directly at taking the sting out of the heaviness she felt was met by Jessica's extreme laughter.  BINGO!  I heard the lightness back in her voice.  I momentarily heard her kick back her head in the moment and enjoy like the Jessica I knew and loved.

Though said tongue in cheek, there was much truth in what I said.  I, in humor outwardly willed my uterus to her, inwardly I asked God to give her what I no longer had a need for... a working reproductive system. 



Our blended family has given me 3 grand children.  Three girls.  I am very familiar with girls as I have only sisters, nieces and Doug and I have three daughters between us.  I like girls.  I get them.  If God would have given me a son, I think not knowing about penises growing up with girls, I would have been lost.  I know all about how to pee as a girl, not a boy!

Nadia, our five year old middle granddaughter, is a pill.  She is a funny, sometimes naughty, but highly expressive kid.  Her hair perpetually looks messy (a trait I had as a child as well) even after combing it.  She is ok not to match or be overly free of dirt on her face, hands, legs or feet.  If she doesn't like what you say to her you will be met with a cocked head, eyes partially rolled back with a bit of a sarcastic NO look in her face and eyes. 

A while back Doug and I went to see the kids and grand kids.  The big people (adults) were talking, all except for me who seemed to be sucked into Nadia's world requiring my full attention to her wanting to show me this or that, climb on my lap or talk me to death.  I fully succumbed to her and the adults faded to the background.

She climbed up on my lap and put her mouth, cheek and nose pressed firmly against my cheek.  Almost in a teeth clenching, gotta get more of it kind of way, she breathed and in and out loudly threw her nose over and over again while squeezing me hard.  I started to laugh. "Nadia, what are you doing?" I asked through my giggles.  "I'm smelling you!" came her response.  She continued inhaling as much of me as was humanly capable of at 5 years old.   Almost like she couldn't get enough and didn't want to stop.

I understood exactly what she was doing.  It was a way that I found connection and comfort too at times.  She was connecting to me, she was finding a smellable way to feel loved.  I got it totally.

When I was a kid there was a cartoon about Pepe' Le Pew, a French skunk, who was an atypical representation of the passionate French male.  He was always in search of the scent of the lady skunk he wanted to be with.  Riveting eh? :)

Things have smells, scents, reminders of things we cannot articulate or put into words.  Honeysuckle, lilacs, a camp fire, a fireplace burning, leaves, grass being cut, a fresh rain, the ocean, autumn air.  They are powerful emotional connectors.  We attach certain smells to emotions of tenderness, love, rejuvenation, joy, comfort, safety, etc.

Yesterday, as Doug and I sat on the front step drinking coffee after a long walk, I leaned in close to his shoulder blade.  I smelled him.  If forced to describe what I smelled, I don't think I could.  But what I felt when I smelled his clothes, the soap, the faintness of yesterday's cologne, was powerful and brought a rush of emotions.  I was Nadia at that moment.  I stopped to linger and breathe him in.  In that smell was all the things that defined love and true connectedness to him.

It happens to me nightly.  He turns to the left in bed.  I crawl into his back from behind resting my head on his left shoulder blade as I slide my arm under his right arm and across his chest.  I breathe deeply smelling all he is.  Love has a smell, a scent that holds what words can't say.  Nadia and I understand that.



Reading the newspaper today, our local law enforcement stated that it is cracking down on pedestrian and bicycling infractors.  It said they would begin fining bicyclists and pedestrians up to $150 for not following the law  The county I reside in was recently named the second largest meth lab producing county in our state.  I so agree that man hours and fines for bike and pedestrian infractors are more appropriate than an obvious drug problem! (sarcasm)

The article went on to state that pedestrian laws, article something something something, states that  .....pedestrians must use sidewalks where provided.  If no sidewalk exists, a pedestrian must walk against traffic.  Bicycles must ride with traffic with cars giving them at least a 3 foot lane width.  Both pedestrians and bicycles must have reflective lights/gear beginning a half-hour before dusk until half-hour after dawn.

I was already in trouble as I read.  One more thing that my money would now have to go to, a fine!   It was inevitable that I would get one.  I'm not too awful good at abiding by sidewalk laws.  Especially as a runner.

Last summer my husband and I were stopped by a police officer while out for our nightly walk.  In our neighborhood the sidewalks start and stop in different stretches.  So, instead of zig zaging to the sidewalk only to be back on the road when they end and then back again, we stay on the road.  The several miles aren't traversed a great deal with car traffic, but more so by kids, bikers, runners, walkers, dog walkers, skate boarders, etc.  He asked that we use the sidewalk as they were trying to get kids to be safer by using them. 

I explained to him that we both ran, and that running on a cement sidewalk was hard on the body and dangerous.  He said that even running should be done on a sidewalk.  What did this extremely overweight cop know about running?  He looked like if he had to chase a criminal he would die of a heart attack at the end of block one.  Patrolling in his cruiser and donuts looked like they had played havoc on him!

When a car backs out of a driveway into the road they have to back over the sidewalk to see the road in full.  Many drivers don't first stop at the sidewalk and then roll further backward to the street.  NOPE!  It is one fell car movement.  Being on a sidewalk running or walking as a car is backing out is absolutely frightening.  It's a dance of whether they see you or not.  As a runner, you end up slowing or stopping which is defeating the purpose of a fluid run.

Personally, I feel much safer walking and running against traffic in the street than on a sidewalk.  I am more in control of on-coming traffic and there is less chance of being hit by a car backing out as they can clearly see me. 

I have changed the name of my Christmas Fund at the bank to my Pedestrian & Biking Fine Fund. 



On my running route today I saw something I had never seen before.  It's not to say that it has never been done by anyone, I just have never witnessed it.  There was a small chance that this home maintenance project was cutting edge and innovative, saving time and energy.  But more likely, it was utilized primarily by the demographic I witnessed using this method. 

I actually slowed my pace to take it all in.  Running through a neighborhood on the river, was an elderly man with his Shop Vac (it was just about like the one I have in the basement) outside in his landscaping.  He had all the tube extensions connected with the brush attachment on the end.   There sat his blue and gray sweeper amongst his evergreen bushes as he reached the sweeper wand up underneath the soffit and then down the shutters and brick. 

At first glance I giggled a bit.  Maybe he was meticulous.  Maybe his method came from age and the need for minimal energy output constraints. Then I thought.... Brilliant he is.  Why have I not ever thought of that idea.  Sure it would involve a long extension cord to reach all the way around my house, but I had that

Just like I use the brush attachment on my indoor vacuum to sweep down the corners or around the ceiling where spider webs can gather, he was doing the same thing outside.  It really wasn't any different I suppose.  And was out of place.  Out of the ordinary.

Did he arise that morning and roll over to Gladys and say, "Honey, I am going to vacuum all the spider webs and debris off the soffits, gutter fronts, bricks and shutters today."  I wondered if possibly he just needed a project.  You know that life had gotten smaller and this gave him some project to work on.

I wondered as I ran away from his house, if he needed busy work.  If he did, I had a shop vac, an extension cord and a herd of spiders gathering outside my house. 



There are things in life that are mysteries.  Quite possibly there are more things that hold a portion of their meaning, reason, purpose, function, origins and total identity wrapped up in a bit of mystery or not totally figured-out-ishness than not.

God is amazing.  His work of art in the human body is absolutely mind-boggling, incredibly intrigue in design and awesome in its sustaining ability.  It holds though, mysteries.  Mysteries such as....

     Why does hair grow at an incredible rate in men's noses and ears
     as they age, yet thin on their head?

     Why do flailing and receding estrogen levels have to produce
     chin hairs on women as they age? 

Both are a mystery to me.  They seem an anomaly of sorts.  They also seem much akin to the age inevitable elasticized polyester pants, off-tone dress jeans for men, Blair Catalog inspired same color top and shorts, socks with sandals, and appliqued bird sweatshirts. 

Years and years ago there was a man in our church named Dale (that really narrows it down for you!).  Suffice to say he had much of the Canadian Forest growing out his nose and ears.  Mind you, he was NOT vision impaired in any way, shape or form.  For that I would have cut him some hygienic slack.  The only way he could NOT have seen the redwoods sprouting out his facial orifices would be if he never stopped in front of a mirror.  And, by the looks of ALL of him, that might have been the case. 

Week after week the forest remained.  Was he a granola, a tree-hugger of sorts?  He had a wife, which also both disturbed me and made me wonder what she found attractive.   Why, I often wondered on Sunday mornings post-service, did she not say, "Honey, I have a small gift for you - rotary clippers. And, a lifetime supply of batteries."  Why did she just not trim them for him if need be.  I would have thanked her deeply for that sacrifice.

A time or two or three or more, I wondered how long it took to get his orifice hair growth to that density?  Really, did Dale just one day say, Oh the hell with it!  I am tired of keeping up with this never ending trimming battle.   Kind of like when we reach a stage where it's easier to put on elasticized pants than it is to exercise.

I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, that owns a bevy of tweezers.  She strategically leaves tweezers in her purse, her desk and her car.  Depending on the lighting of the environment you find yourself in, chin hairs become apparent.  Wanting to be able to pluck those bad boys out when sighted in any venue, she covers all her geographic bases.

Entering the chin hair years myself, I am amazed at how they can grow about the speed of corn in a field.  I swear I have plucked a couple out in the morning only to see yet another one by nightfall.  Is that the menopausal equivalent of a 5 O'clock shadow?  The hair on my legs has thinned to almost non-existent, but now seems to be re-routing itself to my chin. 

Aging hair growth in unwanted areas is a mystery to me.  A Bermuda Triangle of age and the human body.  It's mysteriously maddening!! 



The grocery store chain in my town has a 10 for $10 sale this week.  It's a bigger Midwest regional chain.  I noticed this morning in the paper that the other more locally owned and smaller chained grocery store was counter-acting the competition's sale with their own 5 for $5 sale.  Meant to attract households with less populations possibly.

It's only Doug and I in the house who consume the majority of the food, short of family and friends who occasionally come for dinner.  I don't know what to do with 10 peppers for $10, 10 cucumbers, 10 containers of cherry tomatoes, 10 packages of broccoli crowns, 10 avocados, 10 bags of mini carrots or 10 mangoes.  All of those things have a useage life span.  With two people I can't necessarily use them up before they are beyond their window of maximum freshness. 

I could make some guacamole and freeze it while enjoying just a couple of fresh avocados during the week.  Hypothetically I could cut up 10 mangoes and put them in the freezer for smoothies which Doug eats for breakfast most days.  I have yet to come up with something to utilize 10 containers of cherry tomatoes and 10 cucumbers in that doesn't involve a small garden party.  The broccoli would freeze and the other few crowns of it could be eaten raw or made into broccoli salad.  I can always use 10 cans of petite diced tomatoes for chili and what have you.  And boxes of pasta don't typically go bad, so I am good there. 

Canned peaches and pineapple or pears are good to have around.  A peach pie always tastes good!  And my grandma Yeager's pineapple cheese salad hits the spot from time to time.  I can use 10 boxes of Kleenex ultimately so that is a great deal.  I don't use cake mixes or 10 for $10 would be an amazing deal.  And ketchup, well I think I am still using the bottle I opened a year ago.  Maybe a food pantry could use what I can't.  Why does this feel a bit excessive to me? 

What I want them to have 10 for $10 is the Dove six-pack of soap I use.  I am out of that this week.  How about packs of razor blades?  That would be a hell of a deal!  Also, I am low in dish soap, Windex, toilet cleaner, napkins and the raspberry lemonade Doug loves to drink.  Where are those sales?

I have never seen Tide 10 for $10 or Crest whitestrips included in that 10 for $10 sale either.  What it tells me, based on the products that are usually offered in these 10 for $10 sales, is there is a considerable mark-up on certain items.  And, that certain items sold in mass quantities of 10 for $10 still earn them a profit.

So, I have finished my list.  I scoured the flier again and found Pedigree canned 22 ounce dog food 10 for $10.  I don't have a dog.  I still hate grocery shopping with a deep and abiding passion.  And, if you need to borrow a box of Kleenex I have at least one to spare!



My husband and I were in a store recently.  Separately we had gone our ways upon entering the doors.  He wandered over the mens section, and I to the womens.  I was hoping to find another running top like one I had gotten there a few weeks back that had fastly become one of my favorites.  We met back up and took a sashay through the housewares section.  It usually housed some out-of-the-ordinary stuff.  As of late we had been on a mission to find just the right piece of art (the you'll know when you see it kind of thing) for the bathroom we remodelled, and some sort of large metal wall something-or-other for the outside patio brick wall.  We found neither.

What we saw though was a canvas print filled with words.  They had many different types.  You might have seen them before too.  Some say things like; Think big, Dream out loud, Laugh at the wonder of it all.  That one in particular I just made up, but you get the drift:)

Doug spotted one magical mantra that made us both laugh.  I held it like a human easel while he took a picture to post to his Face Book page.  The post was meant to be a bit sarcastic and acerbic.  To remind people who post unbelievably cutesy and non-real stuff, that life is real.  People are real.  None of us have it together all the time.  That grace is a work of art always in mid-project status.

It read.....

Dysfunctional Family Rules
use your outside voice inside
have food fights
leave the dishes
we put the fun in

My sister Jeanne has said over the years, "Don't take the FUN out of dysFUNction!"  Truth.  No matter how we try to package ourselves, sell ourselves to others, we are human.  That in and of itself makes us all a bit fallible and grossly dysFUNctional!  A measure of dysfunction causes us to be real to others while putting our own view of self in proper perspective.  We all have some.  Some just have way more.



"IF WE CAN'T KILL IT, WE'LL EAT IT!"   That's what the car in front of me said.  It was painted on the back end of a PT Cruiser for a company called Ardvark Pest Control.   Ingenious, perplexing, double-meaninged and bold.

Now obviously the two-fold meaning is, 1) if they can't exterminate your pest problem, they will eat the loss - not charge you, and 2) maybe more tongue in cheek than as a literal consuming with their palates sort of meaning, they imply they are so good at ridding your dwelling of pesky intruders that, you can rest assured IF they fail, they will eat a pest, a rodent.  It's no doubt meant to give you a sense of assuredness at their proficiency and skill.  Literally they have something on the line whether it be bearing the loss of the revenue from a job or eating a pest.  Both of those looming possibilities would motivate me to perform to the very best of my abilities with no margin of error.

I wondered sitting behind that vehicle, how many times if any, had they been unable to kill and or corral a pest.  Some are just easier to eradicate or catch than others.  I want warranties, guarantees on everything, but some things can be a bit unlasso-able.

Where were they when I waged war against moles a few years back?  My neighbors and friends across the street also waged it.  Dave was maniacal with his all out assault on the moles that ravaged his yard and mine.  He was a much better tracker than I!

Where was Ardvark Pest Control and their guarantee of total annihilation when I had an infestation of thousands of lady bugs and box elder bugs?  I wish I had seen that catchy slogan when I was faced with cockroaches, a snake, squirrels, a chipmunk and a tarantula taking up residence inside my residence.

I have resorted to insane pest control behaviors.  One of which was a rubber pellet gun which I would shoot at the chipmunks and squirrels who wanted to nest in the soffits of my house and enter the attic.  I could be seen quietly, in a native American sort of way, creeping out the door with gun in hand trying to get in a good shot.  If it would have been an actual war, my enemy would have escaped with their life and lived to brag about it!

Don't get me wrong, I want anyone to stand behind their work, their product, or their service.  I am just suggesting that, when dealing with something living and breathing, wild and indigenous to the earth, total eradication might not always be possible.  No more than it can be expected that weather forecasters get it right regularly, some of the time or even possibly most of the time.