"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

Monday, December 09, 2013


Has it really been a year?

Next week marks my one year anniversary of returning to Iowa from a three-month sabbatical of sorts in beautiful Myrtle Beach, SC.

As I write, I am staring out my kitchen window at the frosty, snow-covered tundra that is, heavy sigh, my back yard,

A mere 259 days ago or so (but who's counting) I was -- in early DECEMBER, mind you -- still blissfully strolling along a beautiful sandy beach, leisurely picking up sea shells tossed up by the Atlantic Ocean...and wearing a swimsuit (something I no longer do in Iowa, even in the mist of a scorching summer).

Yeah, it was a tad brisk  -- for Myrtle Beach. But for this long-time Iowa gal, it still felt warm and wonderful.

As one might imagine, there was a bit of an adjustment to make upon my return to land-locked and chilly-bon-billy Iowa. No more ocean sunrises, no more leisure strolls along the ocean looking for shells...

If there is such a thing as beach withdrawal, I suffered from it.

But not for tooooo long.

For in the midst of last winter I discovered in me, not only an invincible summer (apologies to Albert Camus), but a passion for capturing via camera Iowa's beautiful sunrises -- and sunsets -- and a host of  wondrous and soul-lifting gifts which Mother Nature has richly bestowed upon The Tall Corn State all year long.

In fact, I gave up writing and just started taking pictures of the beautiful Iowa landscape that surrounds me just outside my front and back doors. I didn't have to travel far. Up the street, over the next hill, a jaunt along one of our nearby tree-lined walking trails...

Absolute Heaven!

A thousand words a picture paints, they say. And since July, I've let my pictures do my writing. Mostly on Facebook. I did a lot of thinking, too, while out on those photo shoots. And slowly but surely, my beach withdrawal withdrew, and I discovered gratefulness and appreciation in its place.

Baby It's Cold Outside by Dean Martin on GroovesharkYeah, baby, it's cold outside here in Iowa. No swimsuits, no sea shells. But some new and heartfelt insights, inspired by the sea, yes, but also Iowa's beautiful land and breathtaking clouds.

(Gave the ol' Home Stretch a little makeover, as well!)

Time to write!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013



How else to describe my dear friend and former co-news hound, Amy, who -- just days before turning 52, and with a serious heart condition -- hiked up to and reached the peak at Skamtilden, a mountain outside of Tromso far north of the Arctic Circle in Norway!

Yes, Amy and her husband, Paul, who live in Colorado, made the 14-mile hike that took from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., and included a 3,000-foot elevation increase from start to peak.

"I never thought I'd hike a big mountain again," Amy noted in her Facebook status update late last night. "But like the docs at Mayo said, 'Hike any mountain you want; just go slowly and don't let your face turn red.'"

Amy also noted that their guide let her set the pace for the rigorous climb, and when they returned the guide said the and Paul had finished an hour earlier than most of her hikers!


I am, and always have been, in total, unequivocal awe of Amy's never-ending energy and spirit in all things she accomplishes!  And especially this hike! I am so happy for her!

Stark truth be told, however, this was not the Facebook status I really wanted to see at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday when I -- only four years older than Amy and, to the best of my knowledge, with no serious heart issue -- was having a hard time mustering the most minuscule bit of energy to roll out of bed and trudge 14 steps to the coffee pot in a flimsy effort to get my day going.

Though sincerely ecstatic for Amy, I was -- and I am ashamed to admit it --  feeling equal parts envy (over her youthful spontaneity and daring), depression (over my lack of physical and athletic prowess throughout my entire life), and my usual morning sloth (but I don't wanna schlepp groceries todayyyyy...).

Groaning, I pulled myself up, donned my bifocals, and leaned on my non-bursitis-prone shoulder.

"Honey, you will never believe what Amy did," I whined to my husband as he removed his sleep apnea mask. "She and her husband hiked 14 miles to the peak of a mountain north of the Arctic Circle in Norway and back...and they don't even look tired. Not a hair outta place. My gawd, we are such slugs..."

"That is not entirely true," John mumbled, patting his hand around the nightstand in a feeble attempt to locate his bifocals and hearing aid. "We once upon a time, if you recall, hiked the Point Ann Trail at Pikes Peak in  McGregor (Iowa). Pikes Peak is one of Iowa's highest elevations, my love. Do you remember that?"

I glared at him.

Do I remember that? How could I forget? It was our third anniversary.

What was supposed to be a five-mile romantic jaunt through a beautiful woods to a breathtaking scenic overview turned out to be a muggy, pain-inducing 10-mile round trip march.

And the scenic overview?

Point Ann, as it turned out, was nothing but a leaning telephone pole, to which we clung as we peered down through a tangle of Mare's Tail and wild marijuana to witness a cloud of dust rising from an old granary that was dumping corn into a barge docked on the mighty and muddy Mississippi River.

By the time we returned -- dizzy and delirious, knees throbbing, throats parched -- we had no choice but to spend our anniversary night sacked out on the bed at the illustrious no-tell Village Motel, knees packed in ice, sipping water and weakly nibbling on cheese and crackers.

Our anniversary wasn't a total fiasco, however...the Village Motel was equipped with air-conditioning and (their wording) color cable. Yay!

"Oh, and honey, did I tell you about my other former-reporter friend, Jeff?" I called out to my husband as he ambled from the bedroom to the coffee pot in the kitchen. "Get his: He is only a few years older than me, and I saw on Facebook the other day where he and his daughter repelled down the freaking Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis!"

John contemplatively sipped his coffee.

"Well, I once lowered myself through our basement window and then pulled myself up the basement steps to the kitchen so that I could retrieve our keys we had locked in the house," he offered.

And that's when I went back to bed.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


It's true, you know.

Everybody goes through nasty weather at one point or another in their lives.

No one makes it through this life unscathed.

As a grocery store cashier, I spend 4 to 9 hours a day greeting folks as I ring up their items to be purchased. Some of them I have known for 20 years, others I know not by name but by what they buy each day or week.

I exchange brief pleasantries with folks from all walks of life. Young and old. Rich and poor. Working, unemployed, soon-to-be-unemployed...

Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. on GroovesharkIn one shift I see an often dizzying emotional mixture of happy, sad, rejoicing, grieving, kind, gruff, kind, angry...

It is, as the bumpy waves in the sea of humanity tend to go, a bit of an emotional roller coaster some days.

Such a humbling reminder: it's a cold, often cruel, world out there. And I'm not the only one who has endured the frostbite.

Everybody hurts.

I remember one grey day a few years back when I was teetering precariously on the hormonal limb called perimenopause, running customers through the checkout line as quickly as possible, brushing away my tears between sales...

I could not see faces, just the various tragedies that had befallen each customer at some point in their life...the loss of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, a wayward child, financial chaos...the list was endless.

And it was oh, so overwhelming.
Love's the Only House by Martina McBride on Grooveshark
But that is when it also hit me, and that's what strikes me every day at work...in the face of sadness and loss, we -- the human race -- just keep on keeping on.

We keep going and striving and hoping and and smiling and laughing and looking toward a better day.

Yes, the bright light and warm strength of the human spirit still shines, burning through the inevitable -- and at times, seemingly insurmountable --  dark nights of our souls.

So why not spread that light by offering an encouraging word or a friendly smile to all we we meet along life's path?
He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother by Hollies on Grooveshark
Like the song says, "The road is long with many a winding turn..."

Friday, March 08, 2013


Postmenopausal bliss.

Not an oxymoron. Nor is it an imaginary or estrogen therapy-induced state of mind.

It's real, I tell you!

I know because I feel it, nay, I rejoice in it, every time some young woman plunks down a package of Always Extra Heavy Overnight Maxi Pads With Flexi-Wings on the checkout counter at the grocery store where I work.

Celebration by Kool And The Gang on GroovesharkEee-gads am I glad to be done with those!

(I understand they now offer Always Infinity Heavy Flow pads.  Really?  Infinity?  If you are always flowing heavy for infinity, you need an emergency room doctor, darlin', not a sanitary napkin. But I digress.)

Yes, never having to purchase those bothersome female doodads ever again is, I have discovered over the past few years, just one of the many jolly aspects of no longer having a monthly menstrual ordeal.

No more worrying about sitting on white furniture during "that time of the month", or having to tie a jacket around my waist as I try to hold my legs together while attempting to nonchalantly hobble out of a room...backwards...to avoid a leaky embarrassment.

No more frightening, maniacal bouts of  PMS!
The Bitch Is Back by Elton John on Grooveshark

Joyful! Joyful! Oh, how I (and my family and friends) adore and appreciate thee, my darling postmenopausal bliss!

And no more secretly stashing squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate in my underwear drawer for those "break open in case of  dire hormonal emergency and gorge" moments.

Oh, if  only I had a nickel for every Midol or other pain reliever I popped over that 40-year span of estrogen-laced hell...

Granted, I still buy Aleve in the convenient economy size and curl up regularly with a heating pad. But -- hippity hip hooray! -- it's only for mildly annoying arthritis symptoms not debilitatingly painful menstrual cramps.

And I'd be lying if I said I'd given up chocolate.

I love chocolate.

I just don't hide it in my underwear drawer anymore.

So, if you, or someone you love, is postmenopausal, postpone the party no longer! Celebrate the bliss!

Perfect gift for the jubilant woman who is from-now-on-till-forever period free?

Why, 231 Other Ways To Use A Sanitary Napkin: The Ultimate Recycling Guide For Women Who Have Moved On, by Karen Isaacson, of course!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 28, 2013


...is not Folgers in my cup.

Though I must admit, a hot, tasty cuppa joe with hazelnut creamer does seem to start my day off on the right, comfy-cozy foot.

Folgers Coffee Comercial by Rockapella on GroovesharkOverall, however, I'd have to saythat for me, the best part of waking up each day is precisely that: waking up.

Yes, as I age, I find that the moment my eyes flutter open and my brain kicks into gear and signals to me the start of another morning here on this glorious earth, I think, Yay! I have lived to see another day!

Indeed, as we all know, tomorrow is promised to no one. Hence, it is my strong belief that we must celebrate each day we are blessed with.

That is why, while living for a short time in South Carolina with my wonderful friend, Mary, last year, I started each day by waking up to the smell of java brewing (signaling Mary was up and at 'em), and then I would run to my bedroom window, throw it open, breathe in the fresh, warm Myrtle Beach air and shout, "Good Morning, South Carolina!"

Myrtle Beach Days by The Embers on GroovesharkThen I would run downstairs, smiling and giggling, and do what Mary and I have come to call my happy dance...clapping my hands and kicking my legs side to side...

Sunrise Over Myrtle
Then we'd sit and chat over coffee, dishing about whatever it is two old friends dish about at 6 a.m. in the morning. Some mornings, we would grab coffee at McDonald's and catch the captivating sunrise at the beach.

Now, back in Iowa, on this, the last day of February, I dare say I did not greet the morning by throwing open my bedroom window. For starters, the window is frozen shut.

And everything is on one level at my house, so there is no running downstairs.

And though  John would most likely find my happy dance entertaining, the cold weather and my advancing age have seemingly teamed against me to cause much morning stiffness in all my joints so there is no kicking my legs side to side. And clapping would only scare the cats.

And (need I state the obvious?), sniff, there is no beach at which to catch a sunrise.

So, what I do these days to mindfully and joyfully mark another day of living is this: I begin my day sitting quietly in my living room, cup of hot coffee with hazelnut creamer in hand, pondering only the positives in my life.
My husband! My son! My other family and friends!

And the fact that I don't have to go to work today until noon! And when I do go to work, I get to work with some great and funny folks at a wonderful hometown grocery store where there is always someone coming through the door to talk to.

Yes, my legs ache from standing on my feet all day, and my shoulders are sore from schlepping groceries, but every day at Frohlich's Super Valu is a chance to reach out to a fellow Coon Rapidian with a friendly smile and a quick chat. Even on the dreariest of  Iowa winter days.

Sunrise Over Coon Rapids
Also, while pondering the happier aspects of my life of 56-plus years, I keep a watchful eye on the morning sky in excited anticipation of a beautiful Iowa sunrise (cuz we got 'em, too). Some might even say I've become, um, a wee bit obsessed with capturing every sunrise with my digital camera/cell phone, and later posting the pics on Facebook.

I prefer to call it my offer of hope and a morning smile to those friends and family from across the miles.

Hold on! I see snippets of pink! OMG! The sun! Be back in a few!

To the Morning by Dan Fogelberg on Grooveshark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(hour later)

The sunrise this morning was absolutely precious!
Oh, what a beautiful morning!

(Yes, passersby, that was me, donned in sweat pants, John's old blue hoodie, my Sony digital swinging from my neck, as I huffed and puffed my way up North Street -- in frigid temps, no gloves -- to the top of the hill. Just in the nick of time!)

Frozen, I am. But happy! And smiling!

It is, without a doubt, a beautiful morning! And I am ecstatic to be here to see it!

Time for one more cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer before I start posting my pics on Facebook.


Good Day Sunshine by Beatles - Good Day Sunshine on GroovesharkMaybe the best part of waking up (after being thankful I woke up) is Folgers in my cup...and a beautiful Iowa sunrise!

To the morning, my friends! Don't miss yours!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


It's official.

As of today, I am not aging gracefully.

It is not that I am refusing to grow older with vim, vigor, vitality and majestic, flexible energy...it's just that it has become painfully obvious -- and I do mean, painfully -- that I can't age gracefully.

It just is no longer an option.

Not that it ever was, but all the beauty product advertisers had me convinced that I had every opportunity to, if not avoid the aging process, at least slow it down a tad.

Goodness Gracious, I have tried every gimmicky anti-aging/anti-wrinkle lotion/potion/cream known to womankind, and yet, just a few moments ago, I caught myself putting the garlic salt away in the fridge instead of the spice cupboard.

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep by The Temptations on Grooveshark
Truth is, ain't no Oil of Olay gonna change the fact that I cannot remember shittake mushrooms these days.


Furthermore, every part and parcel of my 56-year-old body aches from sun up to sun down. Especially after schlepping groceries all day.

And I cannot hear anything with my left ear.


I am sure the cold, dreary, winter Iowa weather plays a part in the fact that I shuffle and moan for the first 20 minutes of each morning as I try to a)get out of bed; b) remember what day it is; and c)figure out why I shuffled and moaned my way to the fridge as I stand and stare blankly at the cat food can for what seems like an hour before the light bulb in my tired, old brain flips on.

"The cats!  Feed the cats!"

And it's really no better later at work after I think I am awake.

Granted, after two cups of coffee, and two hours of painstakingly showering, futzing with my hair, and slathering on a lengthy, layered concoction of alleged age defying concealers, I gaze into the living room mirror (the soft lighting is kinder there than under the bright, anything-but-beguiling bathroom spotlights) and think I look no older than 50...maybe even 48 on a really good day. 

But the fact that I proceed to hand back $39 in change to a customer when the change is only 39 cents, and charge some poor woman $4,011 for bananas because I pushed "4011 enter" instead of "4011 PLU" on the cash register, tells me I am 56 going on 86.

In fact, I know 86-year-old women who are much sharper and with-it, and got it goin' on in a myriad of gracefully aging ways.

I will, apparently, never be one of them.

Well, that's my "ARGHGHGHGHGH, I AM GETTING OLD FAST -- AND IT AIN'T PRETTY" rant for today. Time to pop a couple of Aleve, touch up the under-eye concealer...maybe rub in a little Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original Formula SPF 15 (A Retinol Facial Treatment With Vitamins) on my flabby turkey neck, and smear a little lip gloss on my  (unlike my post-menopausal hips) thinning-never-to-be plump-again lips.

Not that I am bitter, mind you.

Just old.

Nevertheless, I am spritzing some Hello, Darling  perfume from Victoria's Secret over my soon-to-be-smelling-like-broasted-chicken sweatshirt and jeans before dashing, er, meandering, off to work.

After all, an old, arthritic gal like me can still dream.

I just can't remember the dream.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Dear Home Stretch Readers:

With Valentine's Day coming up quickly, a moment of silence, please, for that very special something we seem to have lost in this, the era of instant text messaging.

I am talking about the romance of communication.

Yes, while our 4G phones might be smart as all get out, able to whiz words from me to you at the speed of light, nothing says "I Love You" more sincerely, more romantically, than a handwritten love letter, sealed with a kiss (S.W.A.K. as we used to write on the back of the envelope) and -- if you can afford a stamp -- delivered by the United States Postal Service.

Sealed With a Kiss by Gary Lewis & The Playboys on Grooveshark I know, I know. Nobody is going to be getting any kind of letter via the USPS on Saturdays here pretty soon, but that still leaves five other days of the week on which to write that special someone in your life a letter telling them how much they mean to you.

Sure, you could just as easily send an E-Card, or text "i luv u" this Valentine's Day (which is Thursday, by the way...plenty of time to write a letter and drop it in the mail so it arrives on time), or have the local florist deliver a lovely bouquet of flowers to your love interest/significant other/spouse  to their home or office desk.

But if you really care enough to send the very best, why not dig out one of those old-fashioned writing utensils -- aka, a pen -- and etch your love on paper?

Sadly, like telephone operators assisting the love lorn in placing passionate phone calls to the objects of their affection, handwritten love letters also seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

I suppose the argument is, compared to shooting off a quick text, it takes too long to write, too much money to send (really, 46 cents is too much to spend on the person who makes your heart beat like a bongo drum?) and too long for the person to receive (a couple of days).

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh by Allan Sherman on GroovesharkBut for those of us who remember having pen pals or getting letters from our parents while we were at summer camp, the anticipation, the waiting for a letter to be delivered from across the miles, was half the fun and excitement of  it all.

And no,  desire-infused computer-keyboard typed emails do not count.

I mean, I suppose you can print out such emails and tuck them in an old shoebox in your closet for posterity. But trust me, there is just something so endearing about happening upon a box of old, handwritten love letters...on engraved stationery, no less...

In fact, I have dozens  of  love letters written between my mom and dad during their courtship (some long, some short). And since they are both gone, and have been gone such a long time, it is fun, albeit bittersweet, to read the letters as I can still hear their voices with each sentence.

March, 24, 1947
The Letter by The Box Tops on Grooveshark
Dear Johnny,

Well, Hon -- here's the second attempt -- had one letter all written -- & have carried it around in my purse ever since! I have good musical accompaniment to this -- they're playing "If I Loved You". I do! I will! YES!

All my love, Jeanne

April 30, 1947

Dear Jeanne,

Here it is Wednesday already and high time I drop you a line I think.

But never fear, darling, you are still upper most with me at all times, whether i am punctual in writing or not. I do! I will! YES!

Always yours,

Box Full of Letters by Wilco on GroovesharkI also have my own collection of  love letters -- and a few love poems --  from old high school boyfriends, and every time I unearth them while digging through stuff in the attic, I can never bring myself to throw them away.

First of all, I am a Scorpio, and we Scorps never throw mementos away.

And second of all, it is nostalgically entertaining, and certainly perspective-inducing, to read the old love letters now and again. For instance, if I was so loved back in high school, why did it take me six tries before I could snag a guy to take to the Girls Athletic Association formal my sophomore year?

I also saved practically every handwritten and double-secret folded "illegal" note passed to me by my friend, Linda, in high school (ah, note passing -- something else gone by the wayside since the proliferation of cell phone-carrying students).

And I always laugh out loud - for real --  at my friend Helen's scribbled kudos, in celebration of the news that I finally switched from sanitary napkins to Tampons, and could finally (as we were taught by our PE teachers back then) enjoy swimming and horseback riding during "that time of the month".

But my all-time favorite written-in-cursive note is from my dad on the occasion of my first grounding. I was not quite 14 years old:

What in the world will our children, and our children's children, have stashed away in old shoe boxes for posterity and reflection when they are old and gray? Outdated cell phones with locked text messages?

Please, Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes on Grooveshark OMG LMAO luv u

Ack. I shudder to think. Besides, by then they may have forgotten what all the text lingo even meant.

And it's not just the receiving or anticipating the receiving of a handwritten letter -- love or otherwise -- that is lost when we and our children text, Facebook and Twitter our way through our daily lives. The all-important process of handwriting a letter -- the human touch, the heart and soul that flows from one's fingertips -- is lost as well.

C'mon, let's face it. We cannot seal a text message or a Facebook IM or a Tweet with a smooch.

And spam filters will never take the place of a letter stamped "Return To Sender" (not that the USPS even does that anymore...or do they? Anyway, you know what I mean.)

Return to Sender by Elvis Presley on Grooveshark

So this Valentine's Day, put a little love not only in your heart, but in the mailbox.

Step away from your smart phone, or your computer -- after you've read my blog, of course, lol, ;) -- and sit yourself down and write that special someone a letter. Encourage your kids to do the same. S.W.A.K. it and mail the darn thing tomorrow.

Not only will it will make it there by Valentine's Day, it will make their Valentine's Day!

Sincerely Yours,
P.S. I Love You (Stereo) by Fab Four on Grooveshark

I Love You!

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe  may have been "infectious", but it in no way holds a candle to the telephone songs of my misspent youth.

That occurred to me this morning as I was listening to the late Jim Croce's all-time awesome 70s' phone-based ballad, Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels), via Pandora on my laptop.


It also occurred to me -- somewhat sadly --  just how old and outdated that back-in-my-day song of unrequited love is :

Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) by Jim Croce on GroovesharkOperator, well could you help me place this call
See, the number on the match book is old and faded
She's living in L.A
With my best old ex-friend Ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated...

First thought: Wow...the guy needed an operator to place the call.

Second thought: Certainly no one jots down phone numbers on matchbooks anymore, they just enter them into their cell phone under "contacts".

Third thought:  Today, if he wanted to track down his old, straying girlfriend and he had lost her number, he would merely Google one of those people search sites and for a nominal fee get Ray's phone number and specific LA address, MapQuest Ray's sorry, girlfriend-stealing ass, drive straight to the front door and speak to his former flame in person.

Same with Johnny Rivers'  toe-tappin' -- albeit heart-wrenchin' --  60s' custody battle tune Memphis, Tennessee:

Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
Help me find a party that tried to get in touch with me
She could not leave a number but I know who placed the call
Cause my uncle took a message and he wrote it on the wall...

Last time I saw Marie she was wavin' me goodbye
With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee...

Today, if little six-year-old Marie had access to her mother's smart phone, the phone number would pop up on his smart phone, and he would call Marie back immediately (if Mom hadn't already confiscated said smart phone, of course). Or, had Marie been calling from her mother's land line to his land line, and he had Caller ID, the uncle would have jotted down the phone number, as well as Marie's message, on the wall.

Or maybe they would do what's best for Marie and do a little fam Skype.

Bottom line: Problem solved, father and daughter instantly reconnected, no need for sad, though rockin', song.

And again, no need for that long distance information operator.

(Speaking of operators and songs, my friend, Sherrie, and I, when we were just a little bit older than Marie, used to dial "0" for operator from the rotary phone in my basement after school and -- trying very hard not to giggle -- sing songs. Yeah, it was all fun and games till one day the operator demanded to talk to my mother, who was blissfully unaware of our downstairs shenanigans. I hung up on the operator and was more than a little dismayed to find she was still on the line when I picked up the phone 10 minutes later. I hung up again only to have that relentless operator call back, and my mom answered the upstairs phone. Busted!

Anyway,  call me old school, but I also gotta say that Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman runs absolute wires around Soujla Boy's Kiss Me Through The Phone.

I mean, seriously?

Kiss Me Through The Phone by Soulja Boy Feat. Sammie on Grooveshark How could:

Baby, I know that you like me
You my future wifey
SouljaBoyTellEm yeah you could be my bonnie
I could be your clyde
You could be my wife
Text me, call me, I need you in my life yeah

All that, everyday I need yaAnd everytime I see ya my feelings get deeper
I miss ya, I miss ya
I really wanna kiss you but I can't...

She call my phone like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)
We on the phone like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)
We taking pics like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)

She dial my number like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)

ever compare to:

I hear you singin' in the wire
I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation
But it don't look like rain
And if it snows that stretch
Down South won't ever stand the strain

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line...

Ahhhhh...that Glen Campbell...what a crooner.

But I digress.

Bottom line: Indeed the times, they are a changin'. And the transformation stretches far beyond telephones and song lyrics.

While I am thankful for the speedy/instant/constant connection that smart phones and all the other accompanying latest computer technology now afford us, I find myself wary as well.

From speed dialing to butt dialing in seemingly the blink of an eye, and frankly, we seem to have lost sight of a couple of very important things in between.

Can you guess what they are? 

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Dear Abe
...is a penny scorned, apparently.

I mean, I'm tellin' ya, if I had a nickel for every time someone tossed their pennies at me after I hand them back their change after they pay for their groceries...

"I don't want the pennies!" growls one customer.

"Keep the damn pennies!" grumbles another.

And then there are those who slyly leave their Abe Lincolns on the counter as they slink out of the store. Or -- what I find thoroughly irritating -- there are even those folks, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, who just throw their pennies to the ground on their way to their cars.


Obviously, those who literally throw their money away have never been without two pennies to rub together...never had to glean under couch cushions or dig through old purses or coat pockets for spare change, or haul a vase heavy with pennies to the bank to cash in, for milk money or a loaf of bread. (May they never experience lean times.)

My professional grocery store cashier training, of course, forces me to just smile and calmly place  rejected pennies in a dish of other unwanted pennies we keep on hand in the cash register drawer for those who haven't pinched their pennies and are short on change.

Inside, however, I get a little growly because personally, I don't mind the penny. In fact, I occasionally offer my husband one for his thoughts...usually during the middle of a Hawkeye basketball game, or some other inappropriate moment when he is loathe to share. Hence, my return on the penny, in those instances, ain't much.

But overall, the penny -- in my life, anyway -- has been a monetary godsend on more than one occasion. As the Yiddish proverb goes, "A penny is a lot of money if you have not got a penny."

Yes, I'm all about picking up pennies whenever or wherever I find them, heads up or down.

"Penny, penny bring me luck because I'm the one who picked you up," and all that jazz.

My fave shoe
 My favorite shoes back in the day were -- you guessed it -- penny loafers.

I remember helping Daniel count out 100 pennies for the 100th day of school celebration during his grade school years.

The only beef I've got with the tiny coin is that it was at the heart of one of the more embarrassing moments of  my grade school years

As I recall, I was in fourth grade and we were learning about old adages, and I had memorized "A penny saved is a penny earned" to share with the class that morning. It was also my turn to lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance via the intercom.

My public speaking debut, if you will.

Chalk it up to performance anxiety, I suppose, but moments after the principal announced, "Ann Heise will lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance," I put my hand over my heart and blurted out loud and clear, for the entire school to hear, "A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED..."


That wasn't nearly as embarrassing as the time that same year I pulled my windbreaker off over my head after recess not realizing I had pulled my blouse off with it, and there I stood in front of the class in my undershirt and skirt...but I digress.

My point -- and I do have one -- is that I truly do not see why people get so hot under the collar over pennies.

Money by Liza Minnelli on GroovesharkGranted, as explained in a recent issue of Time Magazine, I may be in the minority these days when it comes to my tolerance for the long-derided-as-obsolete penny. The penny, come to find out, has been dropping in value for decades. High production costs -- one penny costs two pennies to mint --  and  declining utility does give some credence, I suppose, to the battle cry to get rid of it.

But really, what's not to like about the penny?

Oh, who am I trying to kid...

I try to remain patient and smiling...
Truth be told, I guess I do find pennies to be from somewhere other than heaven every now and then.

Like when I have a checkout line of customers winding all the way to Chicago and the customer at the head of the line is rummaging through their purse or pocket -- seemingly forever -- for the exact change to the penny...ARGHGHGHGHGHGH!

I try so hard to remain patient and smiling as they pull out lint, screws, mints...

Pennies From Heaven by Frank Sinatra on Grooveshark
"Just give me a damn quarter, take the change, and be done with it!" I want to bark....but I don't.

At least, I haven't.


Monday, January 28, 2013


Woke up Sunday morning as I do most mornings of late: my two cats (Smokers, and her daughter, Flower) purring and "kneading" my stomach with their soft, claw-free paws.

"We love you! Wake up! We're hungry!" they announced loud and clear without (obviously)saying a word.

I am thankful my cats remember me after my three-month stay in Myrtle Beach. I missed them, though I did not realize how much until I came back.

On my way to the kitchen to fetch them some kibbles for my kitties, I caught a whiff of coffee brewing and bacon frying...yay!  John was already up and fixing breakfast!

I am, of course, even more thankful John remembers me after my South Carolina sojourn. :)

In fact, with each day that passes since my return, it becomes more apparent that we missed each other more than we originally thought.
I'll Never Find Another You by The Seekers on Grooveshark
At any rate, we've been doing some "re-nesting" every weekend, as our house became a bit of a man cave while I was away.

I've been busy re-arranging furniture, curtains, rugs and lamps, and John has been hanging pictures at my request. Did I mention John hates hanging pictures? Yes, that seemingly small "honey do" speaks volumes about John and his continuing love for me, without him saying a word.

During today's re-nesting, by the way, I unearthed three rather dusty books and a magazine I had, at some point prior to my Myrtle Beach departure, stashed under my side of the bed:

The Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart (An Emotional And Spiritual Handbook), by Daphne Rose Kingma; Ten Poems To Set You Free by Roger Housden; The Hormone Diet (A 3-Step Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Strength and Live Younger Longer, by Natasha Turner; and a copy of Shambhala Sun Magazine's Second Annual Guide to Mindful Living (July 2011).

Speaking of speaking volumes!

What a jog down Sad Memory Lane...I remember speed-reading each chapter, each magazine article, desperate for answers, a solution, to all that seemed to be careening out of control in my life. Was that unhappy, hopeless woman really me?


Stuck between the dog-eared pages of The Hormone Diet, I discovered a slip of paper sporting a quote by the late, great Gilda Radner.

"While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die -- whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness."

Wow. I really had been struggling.

"In the midst of chaos, give your soul a place to rest," advised one of the other book's back covers.

Months later, as it turned out, I did just that. I left my life in landlocked Iowa and spent a quarter of the year living and working by the ocean, awash in the ancient healing wisdom of the crashing waves.

What a difference three months by the beach can make! Regularly standing at the shore's edge, staring out at the forever-and-ever vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, tends to put one's personal issues into a more realistic, more manageable perspective.

Clearly, thankfully, I am no longer who I was before my salt water sabbatical.

Closer I Am To Fine by Indigo Girls on GroovesharkOnce again, hope springs! 

Still need some work on the weight/strength/living younger longer issue, but that is fodder for another post.

Awesome Iowa Sunrise
Point is (despite my whining about missing the ocean and going through beach withdrawal), it really hit me today when I woke up how happy I am to be home...grateful for my husband, my cats, my re-nested house, my fun job at our small-town grocery store, and the stark, awesome beauty of a wintry Iowa sunrise.

Living more mindfully by the minute, the transformation continues...

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Hey, it was his idea...
"Let's get up early, take a thermos of coffee, my  homemade cinnamon rolls, and head east to capture the sunrise," my husband offered energetically.
My jaw dropped and I looked at him in sheer disbelief.
"Are you feeling OK?" I inquired. "Are you feverish?"
Color me skeptical, but we had just returned home from hunting Saturday evening's glorious sunset west of town when he made the surprisingly spontaneous suggestion. It had been a blazing 48 degrees when the sun was disappearing. An Iowa winter heatwave. Obviously, the man was suffering from heat stroke.

I mean, for John to offer to get up early on a Sunday to do anything, let alone want to venture out onto the frozen Iowa tundra at literally the crack of dawn to take pictures of the sunrise, was so unlike him. (I probably should mention here that the guy has to get up at 4 a.m., five days week, and at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, for work. Hence, his Sunday mornings -- and Sundays, in general --  are mostly off limits when it comes to spontaneity.)
I suspect John was just trying to humor me since I had spent most of Saturday sobbing after our son, Daniel, left to go back to college after having him home for his month-long winter break. (See yesterday's blog post for the low down on that.)

Sunrise Sunset by Connie Smith on Grooveshark  
Anyway, whatever the reason, I agreed to the sunrise hunt with great exuberance. As my friends all know, I've been just a teensy-weensy bit obsessed with sunrises and sunsets since I returned from a three-month adventure living in Myrtle Beach, SC, with my dear friend, Mary. Taking pictures of the sun's comings and goings from my Iowa front porch via my cell phone, and then posting them on Facebook, has become part of my self-prescribed beach withdrawal therapy. You know, the whole "bloom where you are planted" thing.
To have John offer to accompany me and drive me hither and yon to find the best spot for taking a picture or 10 of Sunday's sunrise made my heart sing! However, based on the past vast experience of  three decades-plus of marriage, I never truly thought John would follow through with the early morning excursion.
"According to Google, the sun is going to rise about 7:15 a.m.," I advised him. "Oh, and honey, I did a little research on sunrise/sunset photography, and it is best to be at your pre-determined location about a half hour before the sun actually rises or sets because that's when the sky can be the the prettiest. So that means we need to be up and at 'em, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by, say, six bells. Or 6:30 at the latest. Are you sure you want to do this?"
 "Yes, dear," John replied, smiling, as he rolled out his cinnamon roll dough. "See you in the morning!"
"I'll believe it when I see it," I muttered under my breath.
Zoom to 6:30 a.m. this morning.
There's John, snoring, all snuggled under the covers, his heated rice pack hugging his sore shoulder (injured when he tripped over a tote in the basement and dislocated said shoulder several weeks months ago).
Poor guy...he looked so peaceful. I hated to wake him to go take pictures of the sunrise.  But like I said, it was his idea...

 He rose, by golly, but he wasn't exactly shining.
"Turn on the coffee, start the car, throw me in the back and make sure the compass says "E" for east," John mumbled.
Long story short, we actually made it out the door  -- sans cinnamon rolls, but with a thermos of hot coffee -- and we were on the road in plenty of time, John at the wheel. He was sporting Daniel's Iowa Hawkeyes trapper's cap, giving him a sort of  Elmer Fudd/ Cousin Eddie (Christmas Vacation) flair.
 "This is exactly what Mary and I did in Myrtle Beach," I reminisced excitedly. "We chased the sunrise. Except, of course, it was 70 degrees outside, not 9. And there was an ocean. And Mary didn't wear a trapper's cap..."
"Uh-huh," John murmured, staring straight ahead as he drove across the dark, bitter cold, landlocked Iowa landscape.
We found the perfect sunrise viewing spot off a desolate gravel road. John threw the van into park, and I hopped out eagerly, cell phone in hand.
"Remember, if you hear panting, it's most likely not a puppy," John said, opening the thermos and pouring himself a hot cuppa joe. "Mind if I wait in the car?"
Hmmm. Never thought of  that aspect of Iowa sunrise hunting...
Undaunted, however, by the possibility of being attacked by a hungry coyote, I fired off a couple of practice shots across the frozen Iowa tundra, catching the sun as it feebly tried to burn its way through the deep blue, icy morn.

A short while later, I bagged some beautiful, warm pastel pinks and blues as they roamed across the sky before blending into a cold, overcast gray.
The hunt ended, my fingers ice cubes (it's all but impossible to take pictures with a cell phone wearing gloves, I've discovered), we headed back to camp, er, the house.
Once home, we each snarfed down two homemade cinnamon rolls. I plugged in my phone to recharge it and I began to blog. John made a beeline for his easy chair.

And then it began to snow.
"Snowflake hunt!" I announced, with a chuckle.
"ZZZZZZZZZ,"  came John's reply. Yes, my mighty hunting assistant was sound asleep.
Indeed, the thrill of the sunrise hunt can be tiring. But in such a good way!
We seized the day! We captured the moment! Yay for us!

Times Of Your Life by Paul Anka on Grooveshark  
And now I do believe I hear the couch calling my name!
You know what they say: Carpe Diem! Carpe Dormio!
(Seize the day!  Seize the nap!)
Thanks, John! Darling, you rock!