"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, June 30, 2012



Shock and despair! I am reeling at the news that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing!

...said absolutely no one, ever.

Except maybe the gossip mongers at Inside Edition or the Hollywood drama-inducers at TMZ...

Yes, there I was last evening, enjoying the massage chair and a pedicure at Pretty Nails in Carroll, when I caught the announcement on the flat screen. And though the hum of that awesome massage chair had me all but kneaded to sleep, I am pretty sure I heard the word "reeling" used to describe the public's reaction to the, um, "news".

TomKat is calling it quits, huh? After a whole five years?


Is there anyone who didn't see this coming the day they were married at that ridiculous castle?

Though the whole couch-jumping marriage proposal euphoria displayed on Oprah back in '05 by the shorter of the now-split TomKat duo --- that would be Tom -- shoulda served as a red flag.

Just a little too over-the-top.  Constantly. They always just seemed to be trying too hard to convince us all that they were sooooo in love.

Plus all the Scientology stuff...Katie never seemed all that into it...probably just looked at it as the sacrifice one makes when given the opportunity to marry the man of one's dreams, as she once gushed he was.

Wonder how long it actually took for Kat's "OMG, I'm finally Mrs. Cruise!" dreams to poof into thin air?  I mean, she didn't just decide to file for divorce the day the lawyers announced it and begged for the former Public Display Of Affection Poster Couple's privacy as they sort out their millions. It had to be brewing inside Katies heart for a while...

And then there's precious little Suri, TomKat's young daughter. Most likely a therapist's couch in her future, regardless of the split.


But enough about Tom and Katie.

That is one ugly jacket, Matty.
What about Matt Lauer and Ann Curry? 

Not a romantic couple, but they were the Morning Duo on the Today Show till Ann was apparently booted from that coveted seat next to Matt's and replaced by some new gal (with an annoying Doublemint Gum twin smile) whom I have never heard of...

Not that I ever watch morning TV anymore...it can be so schlocky. 

There have been hints I guess, that Ann and Matt lacked on-air chemistry. That possibly ratings were down, etc., etc. All I really know is what I've picked up in snippets here and there on Facebook.

Whatever the reason, what I truly was shocked to see on the TV at Pretty Nails last night was Ann Curry -- a serious TV news reporter once upon a time --  all upset and crying on camera, bemoaning her Today Show demotion. (At least I think that's what Anne was bawling about -- it was hard to hear above the whirrrrrrr of the Dremel tool grinding away at my cuticles.)

ACK!  Rally, woman!

Matt Lauer Schmauer. I went to college with Matty. Pfft. Where in the world is Matt Lauer? Who cares?

Frankly, I think he's overrated...said no NBC network executive ever.

Nevertheless, Ann! Dry your eyes, put on the Big Girl Pants and move on with whatever shard of self respect you can muster! You are so much better than that!


Friday, June 29, 2012


Ay, there's the rub, indeed.

If I choose sleep and the hope of dreaming amid some rockin' REM sleep, then I lose precious writing time for my continuing 40 Days of Writing challenge.

My God, we are over half way through...haven't missed a day. Don't want to risk that now. It's too much fun!

But if I write -- and the good stuff never  seems to come to me before 11 p.m. -- I tend to stay up a wee bit later than I should. Which is no big deal...at first.

I tell myself that four hours of sleep a night is plenty, as I pound away at my keyboard. But eventually, inevitably, though I start out as just a harmless Sleepytime Gal, I wind up as Mommy Dearest or Zombie Woman or some horrific combination of both.

And if I write in the a.m., as I am doing this very second, I tend to end up missing a shower here and there, or I don't have time to dry my hair, or, God forbid, I have to forego brushing my eyelashes with mascara.  My co-workers deserve better than that. No one should have to look at me sans mascara.

Yes, writing every day for 40 days is truly a monumental challenge. Cuz sometimes, I just don't have anything to say. I know that may be difficult for some who know me to believe, but old Gabby Girl here has a hard time sometimes stringing meaninfgul sentences together for publication.

And while I could have written about actress Doris Singleton passing away yesterday at the age of 92 -- she played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's bridge-playing pal on I Love Lucy --  I promised friends I would not write yet another snippet about passing famous people or aging or some teary combination of both. At least not for awhile.

Hey, writers have their dark side. That's what makes us writers. Just ask Stephen King. Yikes.

But anway...here it is, the stroke of 6 a.m., and I should be heading for the shower, but I haven't really said yet what I came here to say.

And that is...writers write. No matter the need for sleep or a shower. And while I believe in the all-important adage, "NEVER, EVER leave the house without wearing mascara", sometimes, as a writer, one does have to make sacrifces.

And so I continue with my 40 Days of Writing challenge...tired and cranky, yes. Wet hair, sometimes. And naked eyelashes, to boot. But a spritz of perfume and a dab of lotion, and I am, good to go. Till I collapse in an exhausted and, shall-we-say, scented heap on the couch at the end of the day. And then it's time to write again. Thank God.

I love to write. It is my life's blood.

I also want to say that last night I did get some awesome sleep and while I'd like to say I had lovely dreams -- like I dreamed my whole house was clean --  in all honesty I dreamed about watching not one but several airplanes fall out of the sky and burst into flames before my eyes.


Damn dark side.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


And now, Robbie Douglas.

Cancer. He was 68.

Robbie Douglas was 68?  No way...

Er,  Don Grady, I should say. Or, as people my age will say all day as they explain to their younger co-workers just who Don Grady is, or was...the guy who played Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons.

"My Three Sons?" the younger co-workers will inevitably reply, total Blank City on their face.

"Google it," I will want to retort.

But instead, I wll patiently explain that back in the day, My Three Sons, was one of my favorite TV shows that I faithfully watched every week on our tiny, portable, black and white television set.

God, I sound like Grandma Freaking Moses.

But back to poor Don Grady and his TV persona...

Robbie was the oldest of said three sons...Robbie, Chip and Ernie...I remember the boys' names like it was yesterday. Loveable Fred MacMurray played their dad. If I had a couple hours, I could probably recall Fred's character's name...it will most likely come to me while on the phone with a part vendor later today.

Robbie was the dreamy older brother. Or at least I, from the vantage point of pre-adolescence, thought he was dreamy. He always reminded me of my one and only older cousin, Steve. I also remember Don from his days as a Mouskateer on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Now I really sound ancient.

But my point - and I do have one -- is that while we who are old enough to fondly remember watching My Three Sons will express our sorrow at Don's passing, we are, perhaps even more so, saddened by the death of Robbie, a beloved TV sitcom mainstay from our childhood. And as such, we are staring our own mortality in the face.

And we really don't like it.

For whom does that unforgettable foot at the beginning of My Three Sons tap?  It taps for thee...

Steel yourselves, my friends... the actors and actresses who played a myriad of parts before our youthful eyes will soon begin to drop like flies...

And in our moments of silent remembrance for each, we will always hear our own lives tick, tick, ticking away.


Goodbye, and thanks for the memories, Don/Robbie. You really were the dreamiest.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I am sitting on the edge of my bed, in my writing room, clutching my copy of Nora Ephron's book, I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman.

Nora Ephron. Dead at 71. Pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia. Apparently she had not been well for some time. But she was a quiet trooper.

Heavy, heavy sigh.

Another one of my writing mentors, gone. But clearly, Nora Ephron will never be forgotten.

I feel very sad. As though I just lost a dear friend. A dear, funny friend, with a disarming dry wit. An awesome writer  and film director. Her screenplays brought me some of my most favorite movies ever...Heartburn, Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail..

Never saw Julie and Julia...for the life of me, I don't know why.

Big Nora fan since I read her essay Crazy Salad many years ago.  Had to have I Feel Bad About My Neck because, geeze, what woman over 50 doesn't feel bad about her neck? Read it cover to cover, all in one day, last year.

Hung on every written word. Laughed. Cried.

Started wearing black turtleneck sweaters more frequently because, well, Nora was right.

"You can put makeup on your face and concealer under your eyes and dye on your hair, shoot collagen and Botox and Restylane into your wrinkles and creases, but short of surgery there is not a damn thing you can do about your neck," she wrote.

Except, perhaps, as Nora professed, wear black turtleneck sweaters.

"Our faces are lies, and our necks are the truth," she concluded. " You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn't have to if it had a neck."

I also loved Nora's other honest-about-aging book, I Remember Nothing.  Because, truly, I don't. Not like I used to.

But it was what Nora wrote regarding her thoughts about the inevitability of  death that has stayed with me, rattles me, really, as I continue, in my mid-50s, to wrestle with the question, "What do I want to do with the rest of my life?"

"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday," she wrote. "If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."

Like Nora (who was a blogger, by the way, for The Huffington Post), I love writing. And I am doing a great deal of it during the 40 Days of Writing challenge. How appropriate, then, I think, to  take a few moments to reflect on Nora's "do what you love now" philosophy  at the halfway point in the challenge. Perhaps commit to continuing to write regularly after the challenge concludes in July. Maybe take my writing, my blogging, to the next level. Whatever that is.

Meanwhile, in Nora's honor, I am officially in search of a bottle of  Dr. Hauschka's Lemon Bath, her favorite bath oil. She mentions it at the conclusion of  I  Feel Bad About My Neck. If I find it, and can afford it, I'm buying a bottle.  Then I plan to enjoy  long, hot soaks in the tub, up to my not-so-gracefully aging  neck in lemon bath oil, plotting my writing future.

"The instructions say one capful per bath," Nora wrote. "But a capful gets you nowhere. A capful is not enough. I have known this for a long time. But if the events of the last few years have taught me anything, it's that I'm going to feel like an idiot if I die tomorrow and I skimped on bath oil today. So I  use quite a lot of bath oil..."

Thank you, Nora Ephron, for sharing your comedic genius, spot-on relationship insight and  inspiring life wisdom through your writing, your books and your movies.

You were one of the best.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


June 29, 1993

Dear Daniel,

Such a long list of wonderful new things you are doing, discovering and enjoying! Today was one of those baby milemarkers -- you ate your first real food...rice cereal! And, like a true Heise, you gulped it down with such glee!

It was great fun! You smiled and blew bubbles!  Cereal certainly seems to agree with you!

You also are very close to rolling over from your back to your tummy...you make it most of the way, and then just need a tender tap from Mommy or Daddy to make it the rest of the way.

You just love to look at and study everything in our new little house. You "talk" endlessly (like mommy like son?), cooing with delight at your crib bumper buddies...those loveable Boynton cows, pigs, sheep and ducks.

For some reason, you enjoy listening to me sing. ABCs, I'll Love You Forever, You Are My Sunshine, Danny Boy (not the Irish ballad, but my own diaper-changing ballad, "Danny Boy, Danny Boy, won't you be my Danny Boy)..and a a few bars of John Cougar Mellencamp's famous hazardous waste ditty, Little Pink Houses... 

What led me to hum that upbeat tune in your sweet little ears is my discovering the yucky looking crud left in the water after boiling your bottles on the stove. Something about that thin, white powdery substance in the bottom of the pan...needless to say, sweetie, I'm not taking this sitting down.

I called the local water and health departments and they all said it's just minerals and chlorine...hmmm...maybe so...nevertheless...

Anyway, Danny Boy, you are simply amazing!

You are the love of my life!

P.S. How long, I wonder, before you discover Barney, the cat?

(From Daniel's Bringing Up Baby journal)

Monday, June 25, 2012


June 27, 1990

I'm sitting, cowering, in a restroom stall at the airport. I've never felt lonelier in my life. And yet I feel safe as though hiding out in an airport terminal full of strangers will protect me from the pain that is lurking out there.

"Dust In The Wind" -- Muzak style -- is playing in the airport gift shop. I'm staring at Life Magazine, the cover shows Kermit the Frog embracing Jim Henson's empty chair. I cry. Sob.

Empty chairs. Empty wombs.

A young,  blonde woman is embraced by her male friend. Celebrating. Aha!  Of course...she is pregnant. Slight bulge to her tummy.  I turn away.

I cannot stop crying. I cannot stop hating the young, blonde pregnant woman. All I want is to be pregnant -- to feel life -- to give birth.

But all I have instead is "a mass", a lump, a nodule in my left breast that needs to examined. Not today, not tomorrow, but two weeks from now. And so I wait. Wonder. Worry.  So alone, yet secure, somehow, in my tiny bathroom stall tucked away in the Delta terminal full of strangers at the Cincinnati airport.

(Discovered this tonight, hastily scribbled in the back of my copy of  Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down The Bones/Freeing The Writer Within" 22 Junes ago.  Fortunately, the breast lump turned out to be nothing.  Two years later -- almost to the day -- I found out I was finally pregnant! Daniel John was on his way!  At last!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Two and a half months till Clean Out Your Junk Drawer Day (Sept. 13), and I am uncharacteristically ahead of the game.

Not sure what came over me this morning. Especially on a Sunday. But I felt compelled to shovel out the kitchen drawer that has been the bane of my domestic existence since I can remember.

And  mark my words, come September, despite my good intentions, that drawer will once again resemble a miniature scene from Hoarders.

Yeah, as long as there are rogue rubber bands, paperclips, screws, cough drops, spilled sunflower seeds, Airsoft gun BBs, old house keys and spare change, there will always be junk drawers.

Truth is, everybody has one. Everybody. Maybe not in the kitchen. Maybe it's in  the bedroom, bathroom or basement. But as sure as the SpongeBob SquarePants toy camera buried under three empty lint rollers that I unearthed today, everyone has a specially designated gathering place for the various and sundry crap routinely collected in pockets, under couch cushions or on top of dressers.

God forbid I throw out the 55 ink pens that no longer write, or the faded grocery receipt from a year ago. If nothing else, the dried-up writing utensils are keeping the 10 antique wooden Pick Up Sticks, three half-burned birthday candles, a lone spork and one hair comb (with missing teeth) company.

Now there are some useful things that typically end up in a junk drawer. A couple books of matches, perhaps, or a pair of kitchen shears. In my case, I discovered a roll of electrical tape, a package of hand warmers and a few extra clothespins.

Of course,  they were crammed in the drawer alongside the not-so-useful empty Terro ant poison bottle, a cracked plastic cat toy, and a tiny red calculator free from AARP that never worked.

Now, a thorough cleaning of the junk drawer doesn't have to be a totally unpleasant experience. It can actually serve as a surprise, albeit jumbled, journey down memory lane...

Oh, look! There's the Hot Wheels car I bribed Daniel with during potty training when he was three years old. (Daniel turned 19 in March.)  And what is that I spy under all those now-yellowed and long-ago expired Enfamil coupons? Why, of course! Daniel's second grade report card.

Hey, sometimes it's just hard to let go.

Warning:  the older you get, the more mystifying cleaning out the junk drawer can become, resulting in profound puzzlement...

Oh, forever more! What's my college Econ 102 final exam (fall quarter, 1976) doing stuck between the pages of the 2005 Coon Rapids phonebook?

Heavens to Betsy! How in the world did the Iowa road map wind up hidden in my old copy of that early 90s Christian paperback, Sometimes I Feel Like Running Away From Home, smooshed, no less, at the back of the drawer?

Tip: Sometimes it's best to just let the serendipity of  junk drawer cleaning flow over you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


It sometimes happens to the best of long-time couples.

After decades of constant togetherness and sharing practically every aspect of their daily lives, for reasons known only to them, they call it quits. And everyone who knows them is shocked. Can't imagine why, after so many years, they just could no longer get along.

And so it is, apparently, with Bibi and Poldi, two 115-year-old giant turtles (mates for most of their lives) who just recently had to be placed in separate living quarters at the zoo in Klagenfurt, Austria, where they had once lived so happily together.

The breakup has left zookeepers shaking their heads, wondering what the heck went awry in what may have been the world's longest animal "marriage".

From what I've read, it wasn't merely a case of  "Honey, it's not you, it's me".  Oh, no. Seems they were apparently in danger of killing each other. Guess Bibi, the female, took a chunk out of her mate's shell. Go figure.

"We get the feeling they can't stand the sight of each other," zoo keeper Helga Happ was quoted as saying.

That'll happen.

Zoo officials, of course, can only speculate since Bibi and Poldi aren't saying much. But they surmise that the tortoise-shelled duo, after more  than a century of 24/7 companionship, just needed their own spaces.

The fact is, every woman needs a room of her own; every man a man cave. It just makes good relationship sense.

Kudos to Bibi and Poldi for hanging in there for more than 100 years, I might add. Yowsa.

There's always the possibility, of course, that there was more to their breakup than a dire need for time apart. Who knows. Maybe Bibi grew tired of Poldi staring at the TV in their shared enclosure... her attempts at making conversation with Poldi -- her hopes of somehow staying emotionally connected after more than a century -- dashed with his snappy retort, "Shhh, Pawn Stars is on" one too many times. Or, "Gawd, Bibi, after 115 years together you know I hate small talk."

And maybe Poldi, poor Poldi, couldn't understand why his dislike for conversation coupled with Bibi's drop in female hormones after she turned 50 (like 65 years ago) made her a bit, shall we say, standoffish.  Less likely to do the dance of the seven shells, as it were.

Maybe if Poldi had asked Bibi to go for a romantic lumber through their shared enclosure now and then, or maybe if Bibi had sought hormone replacement therapy, they'd still be in love. But hey, even tortoise hindsight is always 20/20.

I don't think we will ever really know what finally drove Bibi to to go ninja on Poldi and take that chunk out of his shell.

Since the split, zookeepers have tried everything to get those two back together, including tortoise aphrodisiacs (seriously?) and counseling , but to no avail thus far. Has anyone called Dr. Phil?  Might be worth a shot.

Or maybe the zookeepers are trying too hard. After 115 years side by side, haven't Bibi and Poldi each earned a little "me" time?

Picture it, if you will...Poldi, perfectly content, holed up in his turtle man cave, watching a Pawn Stars marathon on the giant flat screen, throwin' back a couple brewskies, while Bibi is out with her girlfriends gleefully slurping martinis and discussing 50 Shades of Grey.

Is that so wrong?

Maybe this separation will do Bibi and Poldi a world of good.

And they're such a cute couple...

I wish them well.

Friday, June 22, 2012


It's official.

I'm old.

I'm old, and getting older. And shorter.

Yes, I'm shrinking. Just like I always heard happens when you get old.


Had to go to the doc yesterday for my annual Well Woman exam. It was long overdue.

How long overdue?  Beats me. Can't remember when I had my last mammogram and physical. Which is why, next to the question, "When was your last mammogram?" on the medical history/information sheet, I shamefully scribbled, "God only knows." And to the question "Date of last pelvic exam?" "Pffft"

(I was able to report, however, the helpful health history tidbit that I do recall that I had my tonsils out in 1964 in a hosptial in Cincinnati, though for the life of me I could not recall the surgeon's name.)

Anyway, first things first. The always-dreaded weight check. Reluctantly dragged myself up onto the scale. No news there. Every last Snickers Ice Cream Bar accounted for.  The jovial medical assistant jotted down my weight and then said, "OK! Let's see how tall you are!"

Sure!  Why not! No harm in a height check.

"You're 5'2 1/2", stated the jovial medical assistant.


"But...but...I'm 5'3 1/2," I  stammered. "I've been 5/3 1/2 since seventh grade!"

Surely, she had meaured wrong.  Maybe I was slouching. I asked her to measure my height one more time. Just to be sure. She sweetly obliged.

Five foot two and a half. On the nosey.

Slouch Schmouch. Damn. I've actually lost a whole freaking inch! Just call me Shrinking Violet.

Where did it go? When did it happen?

I shoulda known. Looking back, all the telltale signs of height loss have been there. Having to move the car seat up twice as far to reach the gas pedal, for instance. Suddenly having to stand on a chair to reach the wine glasses on the top cupboard shelf.

Heavy sigh.

Dear me, if I continue to lose height, with each passing Well Woman exam, it will take me even longer to scooch down to the end of the examination table to stick my feet in the stirrups.

Damn menopause. Guess it really it really is all over once the estrogen packs its bags and high-tails it outta town.

Today, height loss; tomorrow, the nursing home.

So this is why they call it a Well Woman check-up...

 "Well, Woman, you're shrinking. You are officially old. Kiss your bone mass goodbye."


Thursday, June 21, 2012


Confession: My search for writing inspiration Wednesday night resulted not in putting my cyber pen to blog post, but combing through video snippets of some of my all-time favorite romantic comedies instead.

When Harry Met Sally. Sleepless in Seattle. You've Got Mail.

All fantastic Meg Ryan movies from back in the day before adorable, affable, cute-as-a-button Meg -- my once-upon-a-time Hollywood twin (so people told me) -- decided that she just wasn't adorable enough as she aged.

So she had some "work" done, and now, as all Meg fans know and mourn, she has duck lips.

When Harry Met Sally
Sorry, Meg, but you know you do.

You were blessed with an awesome, ageless face.

And you chose to poison it. Why?

Another Botox injection gone awry. Hollywood is full of them.  But seriously?  Meg, darling, what the hell were you thinking? I just thought you had a deeper, healthier sense of self...

Then again, I thought Jessica Lange was friendly and sweet after seeing Tootsie. Until I, as news reporter, actually was on the set of "Country" when it was originally filmed near Waterloo, IA., and realized, "Wow. What a snob!"

But I digress.

Anyway, Meg, I get that an aging Tom Hanks, for example, with a few extra pounds and some gray at his temples, will most  likely be in movie demand forever, or at least longer than most any aging actress with slight wrinkling or thinning lips. That's just how Hollywood rolls.

Or, as Jane Fonda once said, "Women are not forgiven for aging. Robert Redford's lines of distinction are my old age wrinkles."

But Botox, Meg? It's poison. Ack.

Heavy sigh.
Of course, I still love you, Meg. You will always be one of my all-time most fave actresses.

And I will always love the unforgettable and funny die-hard romantic characters you portrayed in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail.

Indeed, you gave Sally, Annie and Kathleen (ShopGirl) each a pretty, girl-next-door face. But more important, and more lasting, you played those parts with such heart.

And the heart, my dear Meg, has no wrinkles.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


He had the patience of a saint.

How else to describe the man who taught me how to speak Spanish and drive a car, often at the same time?

Yes, Victor Effler -- or Senor Effler, as his students lovingly addressed him -- was blessed with the willingness to endure decades of high school students in their quests to become fluent in a  foreign language and educated in their driving.

Such fun memories of  him as one of my all-time favorite teachers at Madeira High School in lovely Madeira, OH.

Such sadness at the thought that he is gone.

Yes, Senor Effler, as I learned yesterday, passed away last week. Complications of congestive heart failure. He was 83.

That means that when he taught me to say "albondigas" (meatballs) in Spanish my freshman year in high school, he was only in his early 40s.  A pup. Or should I say, el perrito.

My Spanish name was, of course, Ana.  And I will never forget hearing Senor Effler's rather booming deep voice coming over my headset when he knew I was doodling or dawdling and not really listening to the Spanish tapes.


Oh, crap. Or should I say, Ah, mierda.

But having Senor Effler as a driver's ed instructor was the most memorable adventure, as he was known to issue directions in what-else-but Espanol.

If you had not been paying attention in Spanish class, and you didn't know the English translation for "la izquierda" (left) or "la derecha" (right) you were in trouble. Not to mention the fact that he kept his cup of  coffee sitting on the dash as a meter of how sharp you took your turns. If his coffee spilled?  Not good, er, no bueno.

Victor Effler was a lovable, fun, warm-hearted, dedicated, civic-minded man, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I feel very fortunate to have had him as my teacher.

Adios, Senor Effler, y gracias.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


One of my favorite "Everybody Loves Raymond" episodes is the the very first one in which Ray's dad, Frank, takes a big, deep sniff of the tops of the twin baby boys' heads and declares, "I'm sucking in that youth!"

I used to do that with Daniel when he was maybe a year old, just inhale his indescribably invigorating baby hair smell, the fresh fragrance of all that was  still young, sweet, innocent and right with the world. Then I'd exhale, slowly. Such a comforting, happy rush of emotions.

Nothing like it.

Except, maybe, watching Daniel prepare to direct his small but dedicated band of buddies in the upcoming Kulty International Films action flick, "The Arkady File" this past weekend. It evoked such warm thoughts and feelings.

Brought back poignant memories of Daniel and Casey -- the original cinematic dream team -- and their non-stop military movie magic they would spin regularly, beginning in our living room and then spreading to various locations and "sets" around town.

Never thought I'd say it, but oh, how I've missed the grenades, guns, soldier uniforms and other assorted action flick props strewn about the couch and living room floor!

There hasn't been this much excitement around here since "The Game" --  Daniel's heart-wrenching documentary about Casey and the Coon Rapids-Bayard Crusaders Football Team -- hit YouTube last March.

How sweet the familiar sound of footsteps running up the porch steps and through the  front door as Kulty's trusty film crew/cast -- Fuzzy, Little Z, Gager, Mr. Miller, and young Sam -- congregated and begin donning their assigned garb! Lots of laughter, energy and, as always, Casey's still tangible and true "Let's do this!" spirit.

It has been so quiet, too quiet, since Daniel left for college last fall.  With Daniel home for the summer, the house is awake once more.

My beloved KIF film crew bounding about offered such a welcome shot of adrenaline.

I just stood to the side, watching and smiling. Breathing it all in. Ah! Youth! To see Daniel once more in his element, in his role as film director...his passion for telling a story ready to burst forth...

Inhale. Exhale, slowly. Such a comforting, happy, and yes, bittersweet, rush of emotions.

Amazing thing about Kulty International Films -- it was not the first time that the movie script wasn't on paper but brewing about in Daniel's head and heart. It would be an afternoon of unending improv, the boys' trademark talent sharpened during Large Group Speech contests in high school. Plus, all the new "bad ass" camera and other equipment Daniel recently purchased guaranteed a great shoot.

That $200 video cam we hesitantly bought Daniel for Christmas when he was in sixth grade, fearing we  might be indulging the kid? Best investment we ever made.

Yeah, the house will once more seem too quiet when ol' Kulty heads back to college in the fall in his continuing pursuit of his BA in Cinema and his dream of going on to film/grad school.

But until then?

Hooray for Hollywood!

And welcome home, if only for the summer, Kulty International Films!

Monday, June 18, 2012


OK, so let's get something straight.

As I said just the other day to my best bud, I CAN cook. Sorta. I CHOOSE not to.

Except for Father's Day, at which time I have no choice but to cook -- or some semblance thereof -- much to just about everyone's chagrin.

It's also the one day each year I don an apron because if I MUST channel my inner June Cleaver, it seems only fitting that she wears one. I draw the line at wearing pearls, however, because I tried that once and they made my neck itch.

At any rate, my annual Father's Day kitchen appearance, with me all decked out in my bright yellow and green sunflower apron, went almost without a hitch yesterday.

It seemed simple enough.  My only real culinary duties were to bake cinnamon rolls (frozen), make hamburger patties (with a nifty press) and whip up some pink lemonade (easy peasy).

Now, John is always nervous about turning his kitchen over to me for even a minute, and he was all but cowering in a corner as I stuck the frozen cinnamon rolls in the oven.

"Seriously?  A blind monkey can bake frozen cinnamon rolls," I said, somewhat annoyed. "Relax."

"It's what the blind monkey may be putting IN the cinnamon rolls that worries me," he replied dryly, as he headed reluctantly to the living room.

Hmm. Good point.

I just laughed maniacally.

Anyway, as I turned from the oven, I somehow managed to accidentally (I swear) knock John's favorite mixing bowl off the nearby dish drainer, sending it crashing to the kitchen floor and breaking into several pieces.


By the time I got all the shards swept up the rolls were done, so I grabbed a potholder, opened the oven door, went to snatch the pan of rolls but somehow dropped the potholder, and my right hand touched the very hot oven rack.


I cooled my hand with the ice-cold packet of cream cheese frosting.


To add insult to injury, the cinnamon rolls were still quite doughy in the middle.


Good news is, Rachael Ray couldn't have done a better job shaping the hamburger patties, and I totally rocked the pink lemonade.


The broken mixing bowl, however, may get me banned from the kitchen forever.

I  can only hope.

Cooking exhausts me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Maybe THIS is why I have always loved dancing...

My dad, John Arthur Heise, was my first dance partner.

And he taught me how to bowl. He was an excellent bowler.

And without knowing it, he instilled in me that special, albeit odd, sense of Heise humor that comes in handy at the strangest times...and I thank God for that.

Oh, we had our issues. And there was roughly a 14-year time span -- from the day I turned 21 till sometime in my mid 30s -- that we rarely talked on the phone and never saw each other. But we were fortunate in that at the end of his journey here on earth 15 years ago, we had the chance to make amends and hug and tell each other how much we loved each other.

Sadly, my dad never met Daniel or my sister's children, Aaron and Liz. Blame it on time, distance, difficult family dynamics, health problems... and yet, in his own way, I know he loved them.

On Father's Day, and every day, it's all about forgiveness, really. Sometimes hard but not impossible to find.

Anyway, thinking of you, Dad. And smiling.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I haven't always been a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.

Oh, no.

In fact, my time-worn "Mementos" scrapbook is chockfull of riveting evidence that  many moons ago  I called myself a Republican....

Letters postmarked February 1977 from area Republican congressmen, addressed to me, Ann Heise, secretary of the Ohio University Young Republican Club, politely declining our invitation to a YR fund-raiser...

My schedule of speakers and "Ohio GOP" nametag from the 17th annual School of Politics hosted by the Ohio League of Young Republicans, held at the Pick Fort Hayes Hotel in Columbus,  OH, also in February 1977...

My President Gerald Ford bumper sticker,  5 x 7 black and white photo of  him, and one of him and his lovely wife, Betty, embracing. (I worked by butt off for Gerald  in his election bid against Jimmy Carter. Cried my eyes out the night he lost.)

Hard to believe, I know.

Cuz anyone who knows me or has ever glanced at my Facebook page realizes I am all about re-electing President Barack Obama this November, and until about a week and a half ago, even had a clock counting down the days till he is re-elected perched at the top of The Home Stretch. (Still counting the days, just decided to change up the blog layout a tish.)

Yes, I definitely lean left and have --  if I can come close to pinpointing the moment --  since I was a junior in college. Not sure what happened, other than I one day found myself  considering songs like  I Am Woman Hear Me Roar, Give Peace A Chance and He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother more as political mantras, not just tunes. I decided that for all intents and purposes, I was an Independent, not tethered to either the Republicans or Democrats. But eventually, I realized that truly, in my heart of hearts, I have all the liberal philospohical markings of a Democrat and have voted as such for some time.

Save for a brief moment of obvious insanity in my late 40s when I helped vote W in for a second term, that is. I blame that on pre-menopausal madness.

Anyway...I bring this up not because I can't stand Mittens (my fave pet name for Mitt Romney) and would not vote for him if he were the last presidential candidate on earth, but because I once dearly loved President Richard M. Nixon.

And this Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of the infamous Watergate break-in. Five men arrested  for burglary and attempting to wiretap the Democratic National Committee.  The beginning of the end for Richard.

Heavy sigh.

Say what you will, he was an excellent foreign policy president. I actually once wrote a stunning essay on all Nixon's positive presidential attributes for my college government class under the awe-inspiring tutelage of one Professor Mark Weinberg my sophomore year at Ohio University. OK, so "stunning" might be a stretch. But I did get an A, as I recall.

In all honesty, however, it was not Nixon's flair for foreign policy that endeared him to me.  No, I think it was merely  the fact that I grew up in a household full of die-hard Republicans.  My dad, My mom. And later, my older sister.  Nixon supporters, every one. Heck, somewhere around here I still have my late mother's rhinestone "Nixon"  circle pin,  my dad's "This Time, Make Mine Nixon" coffee cup. Richard Nixon was like part of the fam.

As I recall, I even had a poster of Nixon in my bedroom in connection with his 1960 presidential campaign against John F. Kennedy. I would have preferred Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Green Jeans, or heck, even Dancing Bear or Grandfather Clock. But hey....Richard Nixon it was.

All I know is, when  Nixon declared, "I am not a crook" during the Watergate scandal, I believed him. OK, so I was wrong. Nevertheless, I still felt very sad the day he resigned from office Aug. 9, 1974.

So sad was I, that I took it upon myself in 1976-- with the assistance of my childhood buddy Holly Berry (not Halle, Holly) -- to try to call the White House (after an afternoon of, um, enjoying a few, um, root beer floats one spring afternoon our freshman year in college) to see if we could get Nixon's forwarding address. We wanted to write him a letter, letting him know we, Ann Heise and Holly Berry, still loved him despite his political shenanigans.

Richard and Pat at La Casa Pacifica
I wish I could recall all the details of that phone call (alas, those were strong root beer floats). But apparently we somehow got his La Casa Pacifica address from somewhere, and we must have written him because I still have his reply. A stamped  4x6 postcard that said, "Your kindness in writing was greatly appreciated. Although I would enjoy responding to every message individually, the heavy volume of mail and the limited staff makes this impossible. It is a pleasure to send gratitude and best wishes. Richard Nixon."

His limited staff, however, must have had enough time on their hands at some point to apparently give my name to Grosset and Dunlap, Inc., Publishers, because I later received a "special offer" on a copy of Nixon's "Memoirs".

"Dear Friend," the letter began. "During the darkest hours of "Watergate", when President Nixon was being tried by the press, you had the courage to stand up for him. (Liquid  courage perhaps.)

My heroes, Woodward and Bernstein
While many cried, 'Impeach him,' you were thoughtful enough to wonder if there was not another side to the Nixon story than that portrayed by Woodward and Bernstein, the liberal press and, more recently, by David Frost's carefully cut and edited TV specials. (Timing is everything...by the time I got this letter, I was steeped in journalism/investigative reporting classes, Woodward and Bernstein were my heroes and I couldn't wait to be a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the "liberal press", i.e, journalists who uncover and report the truth.)

"That other side, the full, undistorted story of Mr. Nixon's entire political career, is being published this spring...and because you were one of his loyal supporters in his time of greatest need, Mr. Nixon has agreed to personally autograph a copy of his autobiography especially for you, in a limited edition which will not be available in stores." (Undistorted...right.)

Too much, too little, too late, my darling Richard. Didn't buy the book.

But thanks for the memories.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Yeah, I was pretty much worthless Thursday.

Started writing late Wednesday night, didn't go to bed till like 3:30 a.m Thursday.

Was in a a walking blogger coma at both my jobs.

Then I hear that someone from Iowa won the $240 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday night.

Someone from Cedar Rapids...


Who do I know in Cedar Rapids, and do they ever play the lottery?

If I had $240 million dollars, I would just write. Every day. All day. During my wakeful hours.

"Do what you love, the money will follow" the old and misleading adage goes.

"Win the lottery, and then you can do what you love and you won't have to give a rat's patootie about the money" would be a more realistic statement.

I did get some decent sleep last night, hence, my sincere, albeit brief and somewhat corny, attempt at writing for what I believe is Day 10 of the 40 Days of Writing Challenge.

Happy Friday!

Stay Awake, My Friends!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Most everyone remembers their first bike. Or their first car. Certainly, their first kiss.

But does anyone besides me remember their first swimming pool?

It wasn't big or fancy -- just a typical backyard blow-up kiddy pool...round, red white and blue stripes...held about four inches of water, or so it seemed...freezing cold water right out of the garden hose.  I felt pretty darn special donning my red two-piece bathing suit my grandparents bought me one summer day when I was little, followed by a couple of hours of splashing about in my very own pool. Ahhh...summertime, and poolside livin' was easy...

Of course, "poolside livin'" took on a whole new meaning two doors down where I remember spending many a hot Cincinnati summer afternoon cooling off in my best friend's pool.

Valli's pool was bigger than mine...rectangular, green, held a lot more freezing cold water and sported a groovy seat at each of its four corners. We could fit a lot more kids in her pool, too.

I felt like a Hollywood movie star the summer my dad surprised us by buying one of those large, round, blue pools -- about 10 ft. in diameter. Yeah, it was all fun and games till one of the neighborhood hoodlums decided to throw a large rock in the pool, tearing the liner and shutting down our little backyard oasis for the rest of the summer.

Thank goodness for Plan B.  Valli happened to belong to the local swim club, and, being her best friend, she often invited me to go there with her. Talk about a couple of swimming pool princesses! We had it made.  Underwater tea parties, hours of playing Marco Polo, a chance to see lots of our friends and -- as we reached adolescence -- plenty of dreamy lifeguards!  Oh, the secret crushes!

By the time we were in high school, all we  needed to make us happy at the swim club June through August was a good beach towel, a bottle of Sun In hair lightener and plenty of Coppertone. Oh yeah...and money for the concession stand. We hadn't a care in the world...except how to catch the eye of the aforementioned dreamy lifeguards.

These days, my favorite swimming pool is the comfortably heated one nestled among the trees and flowers in the backyard of my dear life-long friend, Linda, in beautiful Blue Ash, OH. 

For so many summers now, that pool has served as my vacay get-away.  Music, margaritas and plenty of relaxation, reminiscing, friendship and laughter is all we need to make us happy.  Possibly a handsome cabanna boy serving us our margaritas. But I digress.

Yes, since I can remember, swimming pools have always held a special place in my heart...bathing suits -- of late, anyway -- not so much.  But that, my friends, is blog fodder for another day.

Keep swimming!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I don't get out much. I travel even less.

But when I do get away from The Tall Corn State, I always head east to Cincinnati, my beloved hometown. In fact, right now, as I type, I am planning several bake sales to raise money for my next getaway.

Yeah, it could be awhile, considering my baking prowess, or lack thereof.  But I'll get there. One way or the other. Plane, train, bus...

Wait. Scratch the bus idea.


I will walk barefoot to Cincinnati before I ever take a bus.  It would  take way too long, and oh, the unsavory characters that are bound to be traveling with me.

Just the word "bus" conjurs up haunting memories of one horrifying Christmas sojourn from Carroll, IA, to Davenport, with stops in Ames and Des Moines...a grueling10-hour trip.

Granted, this nightmare  took place three decades ago,  back when a sign stating, "Thanks for taking the bus and saving energy...Jimmy Carter" graced the front window of the Carrol bus depot (cleverly disguised as a gas station, I might note.) So it's been a while.  But still...

I remember it as though it was yesterday.

As I, a busy cub reporter for the local daily newspaper, boarded the 3:40 p.m. bus, I convinced myself that if nothing else I'd have time to catch up on my sleep.

Sleep Schmeep.  I did nothing of the sort.

Before I knew it, we arrived in Ames. Unfortunately, my connection to Des Moines was late, so I ended up twiddling my thumbs for like an hour and 15 minutes, all the while studying the faces of the shall-we-say interesting bus depot folk.

As the long-awaited bus pulled in to the station, throngs of determined Christmas travelers rushed out. I maneuvered myself to as close to the bus doors as possible. If  I missed this bus, chances were good I'd miss my one and only Davenport connection.

As I made my way to the bus doors, I heard the driver announce, "There are only 22 seats, and you (pointing at me) are number 22!"


I clambored aboard and began my search for a seat. I had a choice of sitting with a gray-haired, bearded guy who was more than a little drunk and yelling from the last seat in the back, left side, or with a quiet Iowa State student sitting in the seat in front of him. I quickly chose the latter.

As the bus took off, I couldn't help but notice a man a few seats up passing around his checkbook. I was hoping he was rich and the checks were blank. But nooooo. Turns out the guy was down on his luck,  traveling  to Alaska from Oklahoma, and he decided that as a memento of the long journey, he would ask all the people he met on the bus to jot down their names and addresses.

Alrighty then.

To my immediate left, across the aisle, sat a rather sullen-looking blond-haired man. Always the perky Pollyanna in my early 20s -- and with a snoopy nose for news --  I smiled and cheerfully asked the man where he was going and what his story was.

"I've been at Anamosa (state prison) for three years for armed robbery and drugs," he said, not smiling and definitely not cheerful.  "I'm out on a Christmas pass."

"Oh." I replied, and decided from there on in, if I wanted to make it to Davenport alive, I would need to mind my own biz.

The yelling drunk guy, the checkbook autograph hound, the prison inmate and I all went our separate ways at the Des Moines bus depot. Exhausted from running the gauntlet of weirdos, I wearily boarded the bus for the last leg of the trip.

Just then, some man shouted, "All sweethearts to the back of the bus!"

I grabbed the first seat in the front.

A guy who appeared to be normal introduced himself as a grad student from Iowa State University.

"I don't mean to be an elitist," he said, smiling,"but there are some real weirdos that ride buses. Do you mind if we sit together?"

"I know just what you mean," I replied. smiling and nodding knowlingly.  "Have a seat!"

He was quite the conversationalist, and we gabbed along and it was actually quite pleasant until that normal-looking, weirdo-hating elitist tried to hold my hand.


"Um, uh, oh, gee, wow, I'm sorry,"  I stammered, still smiling, albeit nervously (praying he took rejection well and wasn't carrying a knife), "but I don't hold hands on the first bus."

I held my breath.

He glared at me, and slowly reached into his coat pocket.

My life flashed before me.

Then he pulled out a hanky, blew his nose, got up and stomped to the back of the bus.

And that, my friends, is the reason I will sell cupcakes, hell, I'll sell pencils on the corner, and save my pennies for airfare before I will ever take the bus to Cincy.