"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Time Passages

I'm in a bit of a blog fog this a.m. due, I figure, to that intense emotional merry-go-round we call "life".

Mourning the death of a friend one minute -- reminded, once again, how vulnerable we all are, how tomorrow is promised to no one, how we must make the most of the present -- and then having to put on my happy, smiling, "ain't life grand" game face as I schlep groceries the next...

I want to make each day count, but the days anymore seem to storm by at the speed of light...how does one find time to stop and smell the roses before the roses are being draped atop your casket or the casket of someone you love?

Maybe that's why last night I was dreaming about riding stark naked in the front seat of a speeding car -- not sure who was at the wheel -- and seeing before me, just beyond the windshield, the bright lights of a giant ferris wheel...the carnival was in town!

Oh, how I wanted to stop and ride the rides and smell the popcorn and I was so excited...and, apparently, not one bit bothered by the fact that I did not have a stitch of clothing on...

"Oh, can we stop? Please?" I begged the driver.

But the driver just kept going. We drove around the bend.

I missed the damn carnival.

I dare say you don't have to be Freud to analyze THAT dream...

So here I sit at the computer-- fully clothed,I might add -- thinking of a million things I should be doing instead of writing...laundry, dishes, dusting, blah, blah, blah.

But I love to write...it is one of my life's passions...and at almost 51, ANY kind of passion needs to be savored -- so the laundry, dishes, dusting will just have to wait a few more minutes.

Here's to Saturday mornings and smelling the roses and writing --or doing whatever it is you love to do.

Time is of the essence, my friends.

Make the most it.

Friday, September 28, 2007


It's been a very sad week.

Hard to believe that it's been a week already. A week ago today.

Impossible to fathom how life just rushes on in the face of death...the loss of a friend...a mother...a wife...

There are jobs to get back to , classes to make up, bills to pay...the daily details of our lives...

But we must take time to grieve...to face our losses...to feel the crushing sorrow, brave the immeasurable pain...

However, in our grief, we must also take time to remember the good times, the laughter, the beauty of the life that once touched ours.

Our loved ones never leave us, really, when we keep our fondest memories of them alive in our hearts.

Yes, our love for our dear ones, our memories of them, keeps us together. Forever.

Patty touched so many lives...

A Bridge Called Love
It takes us back to brighter years,
to happier sunlit days
and to precious moments
that will be with us always.

And these fond recollections
are treasured in the heart
to bring us always close to those
from whom we had to part.

There is a bridge of memories
from earth to Heaven above...

It keeps our dear ones near us
It's the bridge that we call love.

~~Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Soul Sisters Just Wanna Have Fun

Patty would have been pleased.

In fact, we could feel her presence as members of our original SOUL (Stressed Out Unified Ladies) group gathered, gabbed, and gobbled up pizza last night in a sort of Big Chill memorial tribute to our fellow sister who was buried earlier yesterday.

It felt like old times, sitting around the "Upper Room" at the church where we used to meet and talk and laugh and offer support for each other until the wee hours of the morning...my gosh, how long had it been? Seven years? Ten?

When we went to the nearby pizza place to dine, we made sure to pull up a chair for Patty.

Patty, we all agreed, was the best one of us all -- kind, compassionate, caring, non-judgmental...her soul was always in the right place.

That's why we know that her soul is in the right place now. We're all hoping and praying she's putting in a good word for the rest of us with the Big Guy...

Otherwise, we're sunk...:)

We've decided to breathe life back into SOUL...try to get together at least once a month...we're all too old and too busy these days to gab into the wee hours of the morning like we used to. But we realize how much we've missed getting together and laughing...

It's too bad it took Patty's funeral to get us all together...but isn't that just like Patty...Even in death, as in life, Patty is still doing and caring and looking out for others. Even her SOUL sisters.

It was, to say the least, a bittersweet evening...

Indeed, Patty was the best one of us all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Final Flight

Today was Patty's funeral.

Some of us who haven't seen each other much in recent times gathered together around her coffin to pay our final respects...

It's still hard to believe...

We've promised to not wait till the "next" funeral to get together...but life gets so busy...

There is comfort knowing that Patty's suffering here on earth is over...she is free at last...and she left this earth the way she wanted to -- peacefully, in her sleep, her son a high school grad getting along well at college ...

Patty, in her own, always-caring-more-for-others way, would not want us to grieve too long...she would want us to make our days count in a myriad of ways. How perfectly fitting, then, the poem on her funeral folder:

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free,
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard his call,
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I've found that peace at the end of the day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah, yes, these things, too, I will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My Life's been full, I savoured much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now,
He set me free.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In Memory of Patty

~ What Cancer Cannot Do ~
Cancer is limited
Cancer cannot cripple love
Cancer cannot shatter hope
Cancer cannot erode faith
Cancer cannot destroy peace
Cancer cannot kill friendship
Cancer cannot destroy memories
Cancer cannot silence courage
Cancer cannot invade the soul
Cancer cannot steal eternal life
Cancer cannot conquer the spirit
Cancer is limited.....

Cancer never crippled Patty's love for others
It never shattered her hope
It didn't erode her faith...

Patty's unrelenting courage in the face of recurring incurable illness was unbelievable; her brave carry-on- and-keep-smiling spirit never wavered...

"Don't count your days, make your days count," advises the decorative plaque in Patty's kitchen.

That was more than a motto for Patty...it was her life's song.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Tonight is the night I worried about the minute my son was born 14 1/2 years ago...

It's the night of his first high school dance...Homecoming 2007...

Wait just a minute as I pour the tears out of his baby shoes...there...(sob, sob) now, where was I?

Oh, yes...DJ's first Homecoming dance...my God, where have the years gone?

He looked very handsome, all dressed up, a boutenere and all...it wasn't until we pulled into his date's driveway, however, and he escorted her to the car and opened the door for her that I felt the lump in my throat.

(Or was it her little STRAPLESS black dress -- yiiiiiiikes -- that brought tears to my eyes and protective mother cat claws to my fingertips?)

She's a lovely girl, and she looked absoultely stunning, even tho I was sooo tempted to offer her a turtle neck winter coat to combat the slight chill in the early fall evening air...

I kept my composure until after they had started walking toward the school door, fairly well beyond earshot...at least a half a foot...and then the tears burst forth.

"Oh, my God, my baby!" I sobbed.

John just kept on driving. Fast.

When I got home, I gathered up DJ's baby shoes, his football, and his kindergarten picture, placed them on the kitchen table...nudged my hubby, pointed at the makeshift DJ shrine, and just sobbed some more...

I toyed with the idea of grabbing my husband's night vision goggles and dashing up to the school to sneak a peek, to secretly peer into the high school commons just to see how things were going...

Was it to late to volunteer as a chaperone?

Well, my golly, look at the time...

Here it is 10:01 already...only 59 minutes to go until we pick up DJ and his date (omigod, his DATE) and take them to a little after-dance party up the street...

Did I just type "after-dance party"?


Where are those damn night vision goggles?

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 21, 2007


"So Mom, can I go toilet papering?" my frisky freshman son asked me the second last night's Homecoming pep rally ended.


That's all I could think to say...I knew the question would be coming, but I still wasn't prepared.

Technically, I couldn't stand the thought of my little darling contributing to the naughty, albeit traditional, stringing of toity paper hither and yon about town the night before the big football game....and yet, TPing was a staple in my misspent youth....and he knew it.

He'd heard me talk about it...not at any great length. But still, he knew of my secret sin -- though I don't think my dad ever caught on to my late-night slumber party shenanigans...

"Who are you going with?" I asked, sternly.

As if the group of future prison lifers he was about to run with made a difference in my decision. I mean, I knew who was going -- like half the student population, including the "darlings" of said student pop.

"OK, but don't do anything stupid (like there is anything about TPing that ISN'T stupid?) and be home by 10," I said.

He negotiated 10:30, I said OK, and off he went.]

And I felt sick.

I mean, I was sure I was condoing what could be the start of a license plate-making future for my one and only offspring.

Of course, back in the day, we never even entertained the idea of ASKING our parents if we could go TPing...we just did it. Under the cloak of really late-night/early morning darkness...like 2 a.m. -- in our PJs...

And none of us spent any time in jail...that I know of.

When he came home (at 10:15, mind you, so maybe he isn't destined for prison) I asked him how it went and he regaled me with stories of running and hiding and all the goofy stuff that goes along with TPing...and deep down inside I was laughing hysterically...it did bring back some pretty funny memories....

Like the time my friends and I went TPing and we accidentally locked the car keys in the trunk and had to remove the back seat in order to retrieve the keys and get the heck out of Dodge before we got caught after the "job".

I still have the pics. Somewhere...


It's going to be a long four years.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Homecoming, Burning Leaves, Memories & More

Feeling nostalgic?

Tonight is my son's first Homecoming cornonation...his jersey is being auctioned off...big pep rally...the big Homecoming game tomorrow night...the DANCE Saturday night....he's got a DATE (if that's what they call it these days)...

I still can't believe he is a freshman...

Sunrise, sunset and all that jazz.

I was never a Homecoming queen candidate, nor were most of my my closest high school friends.

But I still remember my first Homecoming -- Denny was my date -- he was a sophomore or junior...and shorter than me...and he weighed less than me...he was a wrestler.

Anyway, I remember the corsage...the dress I wore...

Of course, being a drill team member, I am sure we performed at halftime at our football game...can't remember who we played...I think Denny might have been a quarterback...who knows...who knows where Denny is today...

At any rate, fall and Homecoming bring back so many memories...as does the aroma of burning leaves...

The leaves aren't quite ready to rake, but if you love the smell of burning leaves, and that smell takes you back, you will really enjoy I Remember JFK today...

Have a great Thursday evening...I'll be keeping an eye on whomever "wins" my son's football jersey...No. 81...

Kleenex...Pass me a Kleenex....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007





:-) officially joins the QuarterCentury Club today...

If you missed that story, click here and catch up on the popular emoticon's special natal day...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sally is right, you know...

Interesting issue Gidget has gotten herself into...

But she does have a point.

If women ruled the world...

But that doesn't mean I want Hillary as next prez of the US of A.

Frankly, I like Mr. Obama.

Anyway, go Sally!

Monday, September 17, 2007


Lord knows I've suffered from Buyer's Remorse, and a host of other types of remorse during my lifetime.

Thankfully, I never got a tattoo and have absoultely no plans to get one, hence, a growing concern called "tattoo remorse" is one thing I won't suffer from...yay!

Click here to read about all the folks who ARE regretting their tattoos, however, and how whopping expensive it can be to have the little dickens removed...

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


As The Nuts Gather Their Squirrels For Winter...

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So, too, do I begin to seek out the comfort of certain cold-weather food and beverage.

Crock pot pork roast and mashed potatoes with gravy...

Apple crisp...ladled with cream...

Pumpkin bars slathered with that yummy cream cheese frosting...

Hot chocolate and Peppermint Schnaps...

Indeed, temperatues plummeted yesterday, and it was 48 degrees as we left the football game last night...the football game where, I might add, I devoured two hot beef sandwiches BEFORE halftime.

Then, on the way home, we stopped at Burger King, and I treated myself to a Whopper Junior w/cheese, fries and a Sprite.

And I didn't feel a twinge of guilt.

If you, like me, find yourself craving more and heavier-type fare as Fall closes in, take heart...

You and I are just normal human beings, our bodies in sync with nature, with the seasons. Read all about it at BoomerGirl.com.

See, we're beefing up for a cold winter...making sure we've got a little extra skin on our bones to keep us warm when the snow starts to fly...

Here at our house, however, we're going to need more than extra skin to keep us warm this winter.

Since ripping open our monthly utility bill and discovering our budget billing amount has skyrocketed from $150/mo to $350/mo, I've issued the edict that from this point forward, we will not turn the furnace on -- ever -- this winter. It's coats, hats and long socks at bedtime, which will be as soon as the sun goes down since we will not be using electric lights of any kind for reading or finding our way through the house after dark.


How's an underpaid grocery schlepper with a bachelor of science degree in magazine journalism, living in small-town rural Iowa, supposed to afford the ever-rising cost of living?

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I'm heading to the kitchen for heaping plate of French Toast smeared in real butter and syrup and a steaming cup of fat-ladened chocolate raspberry creamer with a splash of coffee.

I will survive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hey, It's A Compliment...

As a grocery store cashier, I can so relate to making sure the person attempting to purchase alcohol is of age.

However, either this woman is a real looker, or the cashier is a tad overzealous about the letter of the law...

Anyway, it's a compliment to the lady.

I do have a friend, Nancy, who is 70 and looks 45...she is absolutely gorgeous and young looking...

"I'd give my eye teeth to look like Nancy when I'm 70," I sighed to my husband.

"It would have helped if you had looked like Nancy when you were 25," he quipped, planting a big ol' kiss on my olive-drab green Biore Pore Perfect Shine Control Clay Mask-smeared cheek..

Funny guy.

But he loves me, imperfect pores and all.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Good Times! Good Times!


If you're a Boomer, and once spent hours listening to your 45s on your old portable record player, you've GOT to check out I Remember JFK today...


He's got THAT memory down to a T...including playing the 45s at 78 speed...my mother HATED it when I did that on her good record player, so we had to sneak it once in awhile...:)

My friends and I also spent a lot of time lipsynching our favorite songs in front of the big mirror over the couch in my living room...we used hairbrushes for microphones...


I still have all my old albums -- scratched and crackly tho' they are....I still love them...

Beatles '65: Got that for my 9th birthday...

Anyway...take a great, rockin' trip down memory lane at I Remember JFK today...you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What IS Phenylalanine and What Is it Doing In My Green Tea?

I dreamed all night about being bit by snakes, so I am in a very grouchy mood today...

Hence, I am just going to bitch about stuff today...enter this blog at your own risk, specially if you are NOT in the mood to read the ramblings of one very cranky woman...

Anyway, I love my Diet Lipton Green Tea (Citrus flavor) but it disturbs me to read that it contains phenylketonurics -- phenylalanine. I decided to Google the subject and see what the hell I'm drinking twice, sometimes three times, a day.

So here is what I found...

As I suspected, it has to do with that damn nasty, sweet poison aspartame...

Wonder if aspartame poisoning can cause snake dreams...

I mean, what else could it be?

I never saw the movie "Snakes On A Plane," though there may have been a snake at the Cincinnati airport but i didn't see it at the time...I dunno...

I'm also not too thrilled about the latest report regarding the wonderfully buttery (albeit fake buttery) smell of micorave popcorn...

Did you read about that?


No wonder we are all keeling over from cancer and other horrible and often mysterious diseases and ailments...

We all need detox...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Every Ending a New Beginning

So today, Labor Day, marks the last day of summer.

Thank God.

I'm really in the mood for fall this year, not just for the beautiful, bright-colored leaves and the cooler days and nights and because fall is my favorite season, but more for the Season of Introspection that autumn affords.

I suppose, really, that the dead of winter is truly the season for introspection...I mean, what else does one have to do in the midst of arctic cold, snow and ice-covered trees except wrap up in a blanket and peer into one's soul?

I hate the dead of winter, though...I find it offers a little too much time for reflection and self-searching...I would even go so far as to say that I find the dead of winter damn depressing...in fact, I would venture to say you don't know the meaning of depressing until you experience January (and even possibly February) in Iowa...

Hence, October, I have found, is my best month for sifting through the shards of my life and piecing them into some sort of healthy, rational perspective. Not always an easy thing to do, but necessary for continuing personal growth.

Looking myself square in the deepest regions of my soul usually involves kicking myself in the arse for this, that or the other thing... and I can usually count on some tears and gnashing of teeth. But grieving is part of letting go and moving on, of trying harder and doing better the next time, no matter what the issue.

There is, however, an oh-so-fine line between healthy grieving and wallowing in self-recrimination; between cool, cleansing tears of release and the hot, stinging tears of regret.

But it's good to experience both types of crying in one's lifetime so that one knows the difference and, hopefully, learns to avoid situations that could cause one to drown in remorse...

The bad news? Sometimes, that kind of learning takes time. The good news? With age comes wisdom...or so they say.

Anyway...today, Labor Day 2007, I celebrate the end of the summer and the beginning of the Season of Introspection by resting up in preparation for whatever Truth and Realization I may encounter in the coming, self-searching months.

Cups of coffee drenched in French vanilla creamer...a couple of hot, buttered blueberry muffins...a morning spent moodling...lounging on my porch swing while gazing at the 123-old maple tree in my front yard, the tips of but a couple of her green leaves just starting to turn red/orange...

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn,turn)

Kleenex...I need a Kleenex...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday Sensibilities

Of course, you'll appreciate "Nancy Drew's Guide To Life" by Jennifer Worick a heckuva lot more if , indeed, you are a Nancy Drew fan and remember the storylines from her books...

Nevertheless, I think you will find it all good, sound advice...and now, just a few nuggets to bring a grin to your face this absolutely GORGEOUS Sunday morning (at least it is where I live...):

Survival Strategies:
Moxie and a good sense of balance are essential when crawling on a roof ~ from The Hidden Staircase

When bound and gagged, you can still tap out HELP in Morse code to attract attention ~ from The Clue of the Tapping Heels

If you hear the telltale sounds of a helicopter, step away from a blaze in the fireplace. The copter might send a downdraft into the chimney and shower sparks all over your sleek coif. ~ from The Mystery of the 99 Steps

Dating: A Primer
Make your date work for you-- send him on B-level errands you can't seem to fit into your busy schedule. ~ The Clue in the Diary

A forceful and skilled dance partner will make you forget everything on your mind. ~ The Clue of the Velvet Mask

If a guy's hunch results in a dead-end, don't flaunt your better judgement and intuition in front of him. Smirk secretly to yourself. ~ The Phantomof Pine Hill

After receiving an electrical shock to the system, find as many men as possible to vigorously massage you. ~ Mystery of the Glowing Eye

Next Up: Nancy's nuggets on sleuthing, etiquette,and -- something we may all need in our retirement depending on the status of our 401ks -- wilderness tips.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

2,000! YEE-HA!


While I was out galavanting around Carroll today --OK, I took DJ to get a badly-needed haircut-- ye ol' site meter turned over to 2,000!

(So it has taken a tiny while...I sort of quit blogging here whenI was too busy blogging elsewhere (see earlier post) for the better part of the last year..but it's gratifying to think that The Home Stretch is actually read...)

And I even have some "regular" readers -- thank you all so much!

If I only knew who the 2,000th visitor actually was...

Oh,well...no sense looking a gift blogger in the post...

Anyway...to all Home Stretch readers near and far, I appreciate the time you take to read my thoughts and observations about life at/after 50...and I hope that here and there I have made you laugh...or think...or appreciate your own fleeting/misspent youth...

Well, I must get back to making a pasta salad...OK, it's a pre-packaged Suddenly Salad...at almost 51, one must make the most of the time one has left...

Next up, as promised: A few choice words of advice on dating, etiquette and more from Nancy Drew....

A Guide To Life I Can Finally RelateTo...

Maybe it was because she was blue-eyed, bold, and adventuresome, while I, though blue-eyed, was shy and a 'fraidy cat.

Or maybe it was because she had strawberry-blonde hair and my hair, though blonde, was more the color of dishwater.

And she was just so darn smart!

Whatever the reason, the moment I discovered my big sister's old Nancy Drew books when I was a gradeschooler, I was hooked.

I wanted to BE Nancy Drew.

And so I became her.

I spied on my neighbors. I looked for mysterious clues EVERYWHERE. I forced my friends to play Nancy Drew and make up mysteries (I, of course, always got to be Nancy). If I could have morphed my father, an average-looking, financially challenged office manager, into a devilishly handsome, successful lawyer like Nancy's dad, Carson Drew, believe me, I would have.

Sadly, both Nancy Drew and I lost our mothers at an early age: Nancy was but 3; I was almost but not quite 13.

(Nancy, of course, had that motherly housekeeper Hannah Gruen, to bake her cookies and make sure she didn't go too dangerously far in her sleuthing since Daddy Drew was so busy with his successful law practice. I, thankfully, had my big sister, Mary Susan, who never baked me cookies (that I recall) but she did keep me in line since Daddy Dearest spent most of his extracurricular time down at the local tap...but I digress.)

Anyway...my Nancy Drew fantasy kept my tender heart above water during some pretty troubled times back in my early youth. Plus she was just so much fun! I'd spend hours, I'd spend DAYS, lost in the pages of riveting tales like "The Ghost of Blackwood Hall" and "The Clue Of The Velvet Mask."

So you'll never guess what I bought last week at my most favorite hangout -- no, not Walgreens (that's my second favorite hangout) -- Barnes and Noble!

Why, "Nancy Drew's Guide to Life", by Jennifer Worick, of course. It's a loving -- and hilarious, really -- tribute to the young sleuth and her many stylish gumpump pearls of wisdom.

One peek at the inside cover sold me on it:

"Role model? Definitely. Genius? Oh, yeah. Goddess? Probably.

You couldn't have known it then, but all those hours spent reading about Nancy's adventures served you well...For every woman who remembers wishing she could tail a suspicious truck in Nancy smart blue roadster with the rest of the gang, this book is for you."


I just never realized the practical tips and sound advice that hard-working girl detective imparted in every book! And the nifty thing about "Nancy Drew's Guide To Life"?

"Her sage counsel is accompanied by the classic covers and artwork from her yellow-spined books."

Some of my favorite Nancy Drew artwork, however, appeared in the older, blue-covered editions from the 1950s. But that's a moot point, really, in the whole scheme of things.

All in all, I'd have to say that it was Nancy Drew who nudged me to follow my nose for news and become a journalist. And my 25-plus years' experience as a newspaper reporter mirrors the career of a sleuth in many ways. Suffice to say that both Ms. Drew and I have encountered our fair share of cranky crooks...

I also always admired Nancy's relationship skills regarding beaus. She never let her feelings for that handsome college man Ned Nickerson consume her or distract her from sleuthing. Hell, I'm not sure she ever even let him kiss her...yet faithful to Nancy he remained, always showing up in time to escort her to a dance...what a great guy!

Hence, one of my favorite chapters: Dating: A Primer

Stay Tuned!

A Life Of Its Own


The Independent Eye continues to grow in number of hits each week despite the fact that there hasn't been a post to that blog since July 7 when Peggy shut 'er down and debuted her own Stuart news blog, The Voices of Stuart.

There is a wealth of past Stuart City Council history/ugly politics and other juicy stuff packed away in those Eye archives, to be sure.


Now, from what I can glean from the stats, folks aren't spending alot of time at The Eye -- average visit length is, apparently,13 seconds. Yet they are, it appears, perusing pages for a minute or two-- perhaps waxing nostalgic? Perhaps just making sure Susan and I aren't going to suddenly reappear?


(I'd like to add that Peggy is doing an EXCELLENT job of holding those Stuart city government skallywags' naughty little feet to the fire all on her own...keep goin', girl!)

Anyway...make of the stats what you will...I just find it amusing...

So, FYI, from this morning's Eye site meter report:

Total ....................... 36,224
Average per Day .................. 5
Average Visit Length .......... 0:13
This Week ....................... 38

Page Views
Total ....................... 52,593
Average per Day .................. 6
Average per Visit .............. 1.2
This Week ....................... 45