Sometimes it’s the little things


Sunday, Nov. 29 was a dreary rainy day for the virtual Climate March, so we did it upstairs inside. Thanks to friends and family who joined in! Sharing/posting/tweeting about the need for meaningful action to reduce global warming doesn’t cost you a dime.

Officially, I owe a post about everyday things you can to to help the environment while saving money. I haven’t forgotten by any means, but shootings take a psychic and physical toll on me and I just can’t quite get it together.

So, instead, I’ll just share one thing and save the rest for another day. This red beauty is not our new couch – it’s our formerly nappy, 11-year-old sleeper sofa. The poor old gal’s been through five grandkids urping, lots of drinks a-spilling, three puppies hopping, many people sleeping,  aa-anndd one old dog rubbing. (Tess has used it as her personal Fulminator for years.)

Old Red was too shabby to be chic, but we love her and didn’t want her in a landfill, so the old gal got some new threads.

New old couch.jpeg

This soft red burlap should hold up better than the original red chenille, and we love the paisley so much, we got an extra pillow made. 


Nice, huh? Carol Roddy with Second Chance Upholstery did it for, well, more an album than a song, but it was a bargain. Changed the lines of the couch from straight contemporary to more of a Restoration Hardware/slipcover look, but whatever. It’s fine.

So there’s one tip: Salvage your old furniture rather than buying new. Anything you can keep out a landfill is a plus. If you must have new furniture, find a new home for your old – please don’t leave it sitting sadly on the curb.

And remember, though things are grim and hearts are broken, beauty is all around us. Let little things help where they can.

For example, when we went to get a perky little Noble fir tree (after researching at some length the pros and cons of artificial vs. dead-live), these ($3.50 each) lovelies asked to come home with me. They needed little TLC in regards to some broken leaves but they seem to like their new pots (which we already had). Aren’t they sweet?


Violet and Sybil are named for my grandmother’s sisters. Verna Jewel (my grandmother’s namesake) has lived in the kitchen for years. These girls are upstairs in my office. 

I’ll end with one more photo from our virtual Climate March efforts. I’m very proud of my 80-year-old mother for her interest and concern.


Love these folks to pieces. 

Deep breaths. Until next time …

Woodstock (OK, not Woodstock, but a really big, motivated crowd)

Tighter squeeze

We weren’t really heading to Woodstock, just the west side of Central Park from Columbus Circle to 86th Street and beyond, but before the day was over, we were nearly half a million strong.

The turnout at the People’s Climate March seemed to catch Manhattan – and maybe the world – off guard. The organizers had been touting a 100K+ turnout for the march. I read somewhere the next day (or saw it on the NYC news, perhaps) that the city police department had prepared for/anticipated 30,000 people.

The final count was 410,000, give or take a few.

My cousin Karen, 10 years younger and from the very small town of Danville, Ark., first noticed the people with the odd little camera/computer devices that measured the crowd. (Soon we noticed them at frequent intervals.) Just two small women from Arkansas in matching red T-shirts, we were easy to lose in that crowd, though Karen did get her photo taken by someone official-looking and I got video-interviewed close to the end of the march.

The young videographers had noticed the “For my five grandchildren” on the back of my T-shirt and wanted to talk to us. They seemed surprised that I actually live in Little Rock and we’d come so far.

Most people didn’t even recognize the Arkansas shape on the front of our shirts, guessing “Ohio!” and “Indiana!”

But let me go back to the beginning. We knew it was going to be crazy when Penn Station was overrun with people of all ages and in all kinds of T-shirts, holding all kinds of signs and wearing all sorts of backpacks gathered on the platform to await the oddly shortened (as in four or five cars) C trains. The first two trains that came along were so packed there was no chance of getting in.

A lovely and kind woman from Long Island named Billie, whom we’d met on the platform, began plotting other possible ways to get to the meeting place should we not make the next train, which, fortunately, we did, along with two other women from upstate New York whom we’d picked up in our little group. The doors opened and we leapt in. Crammed in. Mashed our way forward so the doors could close, leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of people waiting for the next train.

They eventually got there, though.

On the subway, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council told Billie, who was meeting that group, that they’d had word that closer to a half million people were expected. Don’t know where she got her info, but that was a much closer estimate.

Our marching group, mainly students and grandparents, it seemed – was between 66th and 72nd streets. We were at about 68th when we first arrived.

When we first got to our gathering place, the students, families, elders and women section – the second wave after indigenous peoples and climate disaster survivors – it was before 10 and not crazily crowded.

When we first got to our gathering place, the students, families, elders and women section – the second wave after indigenous peoples and climate disaster survivors – it was before 10 and not crazily crowded.

The crowd grew rapidly.

The crowd grew rapidly, as people just kept coming. And coming. And coming.

Chanting, singing, chatting – we had time for lots of activity as we awaited the march.

Chanting, singing, chatting – we had time for lots of activity as we awaited the march.

At 11:30, when the march was to begin, we were sardine-packed again and at a dead standstill. We thought the event was getting a late start. When you’re in the middle of a mass of people – and the phones go dead for an hour, and off and on all day from too many in service – you have no idea what’s going on before or behind you.

Just before starting to move, we were still chatting and crowding together.

Just before starting to move, we were still chatting and crowding together.

From watching video and reading reports later, we know now that the march did start on time, or close to it, but so many people were in front of us that our section didn’t start moving until a little after 12:30.

But all of a sudden, we moved a few feet! Then stopped. Then moved some more. Then stopped.

But all of a sudden, we moved a few feet! Then stopped. Then moved some more. Then stopped.

By the moment of silence at 12:58 – which was beautiful and eerily perfectly choreographed – we’d barely advanced at all.

But once we hit Columbus Circle, the movement was pretty steady, until later in the march when the police started stopping us at intersections to let traffic move. (Our cabbie the next day told us it took “one hour and 45 minutes to get through an intersection!” He wasn’t pleased, but he was impressed.)

Karen and I moved ahead every chance we got, but we never got out of our student and elder section. The mass of well-behaved, friendly humanity was a wonder to behold.

Karen and I moved ahead every chance we got, but we never got out of our student and elder section. The mass of well-behaved, friendly humanity was a wonder to behold.

There's the CNN building! We're getting somewhere.

There’s the CNN building! We’re getting somewhere.

We'd caught up to the Mom's Clean Air Force, a group from many states, by the Rockefeller Center.

We’d caught up to the Mom’s Clean Air Force, a group from many states, by the Rockefeller Center.

The first of several Jumbotrons showing the Manhattan march or activities all over the world seemed worth a photo.

The first of several Jumbotrons showing the Manhattan march or activities all over the world seemed worth a photo.

Eventually we got funneled into a smaller space, which hindered progress again.

Eventually we got funneled into a smaller space …

... which hindered progress again.

… which hindered progress again.

We kept seeing this attractive, very elderly lady, dressed entirely in purple, with purple nails and a purple streak in her hair. She was in a wheelchair, but she made it to the very end, holding her sign the whole way.

We kept seeing this attractive, very elderly lady, dressed entirely in purple, with purple nails and a purple streak in her hair. She was in a wheelchair, but she made it to the very end, holding her sign the whole way.

The squeeze really took hold at Times Square. My ears rang for two days from the sounds made by the masses.

The squeeze really took hold at Times Square. My ears rang for two days from the sounds made by the masses.

We got a text alert at 1:51 saying the initial count was 310,000. Way off the final total. I heard/read the last group to start came in six hours later. Karen and I reached the end of the march – at 34th Street and 11th Avenue – at 3:20, and the ending party had pretty much dissipated.

But at least we got to finish. Just after reaching the end, we got another text alert:

“The march is so big that we’re asking people to disperse just before they reach 11th Ave. and 42nd Street.”

We were beat and happy.

These old feet were made for walking, but they were tired – and my toes peeling – by the time it was all said and done.

These old feet were made for walking, but they were tired – and my toes peeling – by the time it was all said and done.

A few people still lingered and visited at the end, but most, like us, headed to the High Line or a watering hole.

A few people still lingered and visited at the end, but most, like us, headed to the High Line or a watering hole.

Police – and a token communist handing out newspapers – were the last people we passed on the official route.

Police – and a token communist handing out newspapers – were the last people we passed on the official route.

More about the trip to come later, but I had to get this out there for the record. We made lots of news outside Arkansas. Not so much here. But Karen and I know what happened, because we were part of history.

And lets hope it helps turn things around.

As one of my favorite signs of the day said, “There is not Planet B.”

Sister Suffragette

"So cast off the shackles of yesterday ..."

“So cast off the shackles of yesterday …”

Disney’s Mary Poppins had a lot to do with it, I suppose, but I don’t remember ever not knowing that women had to fight for the right to vote. I was 8 or 9 when our entire family went to see the movie at one of the glorious downtown theaters and 9 or 10 when I was playing “Sister Suffragette” (in my Mary Poppins‘ songbook for piano) and singing along. It really struck a chord with me.

I can still burst into SS and march/dance around the room for my grandkids (OK, just because I feel like it):

“… Political equality and equal rights with men,

take heart for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!

No more the meek and mild subservients we –

We’re fighting for our rights militantly – never you fear! …

So, cast off the shackles of yesterday,

Shoulder to shoulder into the fray,

Our daughters’ daughters will adore us

and they’ll sing in grateful chorus,

‘Well done, Sister Suffragette!!'”


Only they don’t and they’re not, sadly. At least some of them. I’ve noticed over the past few years how young women blithely take women’s rights for granted. I was dismayed by some of my female students’ lack of knowledge or caring about women’s rights/women’s issues when I taught high school journalism at Central High from 2005-2010.

Just the other day a sweet young woman told me she had no idea women had to fight for the right to vote until she saw something about it on Facebook.

Don't take it for granted, girls. Women are still alive today who were born before we could vote.

Don’t take it for granted, girls. Women are still alive today who were born before we could vote.

All very disconcerting. But you girls/young women who’ve started the “anti-feminism/I’m not a feminist because …” movement need to wake up. Let me tell you a few things. Bear with an old lady of almost 59.

Though the assumption from my family and my guidance counselors was always that I’d go to college, I had perfectly bright girlfriends who were told – in 1972/73 – that their best bet was to find a good secretarial school. Or a good husband.

A slightly older friend, whose brothers were all assumed to go pre-med, was told by her father that she could go to college if she majored in teaching or nursing. That was actually quite common.

We couldn’t wear pants to school until I was in the ninth grade.

Girls who got pregnant in high school had to slip off out of state for an illegal abortion or drop out of school because pregnant girls weren’t allowed to attend. Their boyfriends could still play varsity football but the girls were denied an education.

Speaking of sports, if you were a girl at my school, other than cheerleading or drill team, we had volleyball and gymnastics. You can thank Title IX (and some feminists) for all the sports available to girls today.

stepfordI remember reading Ira Levin’s Stepford Wives and finding it chilling (read it in one sitting, which I repeated in my 30s – and it was still scary). After my boyfriend and I saw The Stepford Wives when I was 19, the good one with Katherine Ross and Paula Prentiss, he, whom I loved dearly, scoffed at me for calling it the scariest movie I’d ever seen. He said I was being silly. I said the movie was every man’s fantasy and that’s what made it so scary.

Then in 1986, when I was 30 and married with two kids, Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale. I still  have my first-edition copy. During the Reagan years and with the climate change really entering my radar, that was the scariest book I’d ever read – still seems almost prophetic at times. I’ve loaned it/foisted it on several women over the years.

Maybe it’s too hot a subject, but at least for college lit students, THT should be required reading.

My battered 1986 copy of Margaret Atwood's masterpiece. Read it if you haven't.

My battered 1986 copy of Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece. Read this book if you haven’t.

What brought this up now is that one day last week as I was working out to The Today Show, a segment came on about the “I’m not a feminist because …” girls – with photos of young women holding signs telling why they’re against feminism (from their social media platforms, which I refuse to look up).

“I’m not a feminist because I like men”? Seriously? Most of us do. Most of us are married and many of us have sons. Most of our gay sisters like men, too. This is not the point.

“I’m not a feminist because I love my boyfriend.” What? Whatever.

“I’m not a feminist because I like it when a man holds a door open for me.” I like that, too. Unless his hands are full, in which case I’m more than happy to open the door for a man. Manners are nice.

“… I like for a man to open the car door for me.” Yes, that’s sweet. I feel very special and loved when my husband carefully tucks me into the car. But I do the same thing for my mother now that she’s old. Irrelevant, girls.

“I’m not a feminist because I want to stay home with my children.” Um, I did that for a while then went to work. And naively expected to be paid the same as men for the same jobs.

Today in Arkansas women doctors with more seniority than their male counterparts, at least at one hospital, make $14,000 per year less for having ovaries. How is that fair?

I’m old enough to remember the “women don’t need to make as much as men because they have husbands drawing a salary” argument. That never held water – in addition to being ridiculous, some women aren’t married. Some are widows. Some have unemployed husbands.


Anyway, “I’m not a feminist because I like to look pretty/wear makeup/shave my legs.”

Silent scream. Silent scream. Silent scream.

NONE OF THOSE THINGS have anything to do with being a feminist. You can be feminine and a feminist. Feminine feminists are all around.

Look up what it means, anti-feminist young ladies. Read a little women’s history. Read current events about the atrocities still happening to people all over the world because their genetic roll of the dice made them female.

Then decide if you’re still an anti-feminist. At least be informed.

Feminists come in all types. We’re everywhere. We’re not out to destroy all things girly.

You can even be a feminist and love Barbies. I got my first Barbie at 3 in 1959, the year she was born. I’ve loved her – and Midge and Francie – ever since. I’ve been making matching dresses for my two 3-year-old granddaughters’ Barbies from vintage fabric using my grandmother’s pattern from 1964 that she used to make clothes for her granddaughters’ Barbies.

That’s pretty traditional female behavior. But I’m doing it by choice, not because someone expects me to fill a certain role.

Feminists can love Barbies – and love to sew. We can be girly-girls or tomboys.

Feminists can love Barbies and love to sew. We can be girly-girls or tomboys. We come in all shapes and sizes and demeanors.

But I bought my granddaughters a copy of I Want to Be President before I bought them Barbies.


P.S. Just wanted to let you know I waited for days to see if I really had to write this post – I try to keep it life, lifestyle and light in The Lolly Diaries. But an old girl’s gotta do what an old girl’s gotta do.

Listen to what the man said

I can’t speak for all baby boomers, but many, many of us grew up with parental and other authoritarian voices ordering “turn that music down! You’ll damage your hearing!”

We probably should have listened to what the man said.

I first noticed the chirping three or four months ago – only sometimes, only in very quiet times and not enough to interfere with my life (yet, and I hope it stays that way). I hope that it’s stress-induced and will go away altogether but also recognize that that’s dreaming.

Especially after reading Shouting Won’t Help: Why I – and 50 Million Other Americans – Can’t Hear You, a reported memoir by former journalist (the New York Times, the NYT Magazine, The New Yorker) Katherine BoutonShoutingWon'tHelp

I can’t remember where I heard about it, but the introductory excerpt on hooked me so hard I hit the pre-order button (adding in Joan Osborne’s Bring It On Home CD to qualify for free shipping – I can’t help myself). JoanOsborneThe The

The book was released Feb. 19 and both arrived few days later.

My initial reasoning was that in addition to being fascinating reading,  the book would help me understand my husband’s hearing loss and his reluctance to wear the hearing aid he wouldn’t even get until he turned 60. There’s no shame in it, I’d callously thought – he spent too much time around loud machinery without hearing protection in his younger years and tinnitus runs in his family, in each direction for generations. No big deal.

Bouton begs to differ and frankly writes about the anguish associated with years of trying to hide her hearing loss.

After finishing the book a few minutes ago on my noisy treadmill, the crickets are going to town in my quiet kitchen, and I realize the information will be helpful in more ways than I’d imagined.

It’s really a must-read for anyone who loves or spends time around someone with hearing loss or deafness – as well as anyone who has played fast and loose with her hearing. The facts and statistics may startle you in places, but it’s an upbeat, can’t-put-it-down book.

I knew my hearing was damaged from five years of teaching at Central High School. The halls are horribly loud, and the security guards’ whistles are (literally) deafening. One of my newspaper staff students did a science fair project on just that – he was a doctor’s son and brought a decibel meter to school. Exact details escape me years later, but the whistles definitely hit the permanent-damage-inducing level if blown directly into the meter.

Or into an ear, which happened to me once in the hall outside my room. A female security guard about my height stood directly behind me and blew her whistle full blast into my ear – I assume she thought I was a student. I couldn’t hear anything for a few minutes and couldn’t hear out of the receiving ear for hours. I could visualize my little inner-ear hairs flattening out in self-defense.

My ears, despite my predilection for loud music, have always been sensitive. Music can be painful, especially if I don’t like it. I loved Humble Pie in my teens – had two of their albums (and at least one on CD now) – but I walked out of their concert at Barton Coliseum because they were so loud my ears felt as if they were bleeding.

A year or two later I had a close encounter with a firecracker with a short fuse that went off in my hand next to my ear. Don’t ask.

After reading Bouton’s book, I find myself thinking about all the reckless listening I’ve done.

But I won’t stop playing music loudly. Just maybe not as loud.

When Pam and I were adolescents, we discussed just about every potentiality you can imagine. “If you had to go deaf or blind, which would you choose?” was one of them. I always chose to keep my hearing – hard choice, but I couldn’t imagine life without music or the voices of my (then unborn, of course) children and grandchildren.


Speaking of children and grandchildren, my baby girl is 33 today. Her baby girl is smitten with two maternity tops I made for her mother and delivered yesterday (not birthday presents – they were just way delayed by circumstances of late). Sylvie stroked them over and over jabbered on and on about them. Beyond cute.

Happy birthday, Liz. Love you.

No. 9

Today John and I celebrate wedding anniversary No. 9. I say “celebrate” it because we had two weddings. I always have to look up the dates to get it right, but we were married here legally in a small, short ceremony on Feb. 19, flew to Costa Rica with our sisters and their hubbies on the 20th, and had a sunset beach ceremony outside our cabanas at El Sano Banano in Montezuma, Costa Rica, on Feb. 21, which was an auspicious day on the Tibetan calendar that year. hug

We wrote our beach vows and brother-in-law Paul wrote and read a poem. Brother-in-law Norm shot photos nonstop. Sisters Kitty and Cathy cried.

This July 21, on what would be my father’s 80th birthday, we’ll celebrate 11 years since we met. That’s an important date too. And if memory holds, John proposed on Nov. 17, 2003.

Next year, for our 10th anniversary, we plan to do something fab – maybe Italy again, from Rome to points south, or India, or who knows where – but this year we’re celebrating in our own neighborhood, at Ciao. That will be fab enough.

Because we’ve got each other and we’re happy about it.

When my kids met John years ago, they said, “Mom is dating Mr. Rogers!” They were happy about it and that was a compliment – we watched and loved dear Fred. And just like Mr. Rogers, John loves unconditionally. That’s too rare a trait.

Ben said just the other day that he and Liz hit the stepdad jackpot with John. You can imagine how happy that made me and how humbled and thrilled John felt to hear it (later, from me).

After surviving a bad one and living a good one, here’s what I know about landing in and maintaining a happy marriage:

Know each other well BEFORE you get married. That takes time. You’ll still get surprises but maybe no shocks.

Take the person you marry as he/she is. Spouses are not home-improvement projects, and if you marry someone thinking you’ll change him, you are doing yourself and your loved one a major disservice. And you really don’t love him if you don’t love him as he is.

But know that people change over time and that you’d better be able to roll with it.

Talk things out. Speak up if something’s troubling you. Nothing’s worse than letting a problem fester. Yuck. You’ll just get a marital boil.

But let the little things go. You’ll drive each other crazy at times. That’s normal.

And, if you get married as an older couple, as we did (48 and 52), don’t assume you’ll get a 25th anniversary – use every opportunity to make a date special.

That’s about all I know to say.

I love you, John. 

Paul, John and I – the officiant and the newlyweds – after the ceremony.

Paul, John and I – the officiant and the newlyweds – after the ceremony.

Cathy and Kitty cried through the ceremony. It was sweet.

Cathy and Kitty cried through the ceremony. It was sweet.



The after-party on our cabana porch, including Norm.

The after-party on our cabana porch, including Norm, since John manned the camera.

Everybody hurts

Everybody hurts sometimes, but no one should ever have to suffer the way Bill did physically, emotionally and mentally because of ignorance, ineptitude and a too-cautious “wait and see” attitude on the part of his surgeon.

If I can spare any person the pain and indignity he went through and the pain his loved ones are still going through, this post will be worth the hurt it causes to write it. Please remember I am not a doctor.

Today I picked up copies of my step-dad’s death certificate; the causes of death were listed as cardiopulmonary disease of “minutes” duration and bowel obstruction of “unknown” duration. We weren’t sure what it would say.

We are sure that the ER doctor did a CT scan immediately Dec. 29, diagnosed a bowel obstruction immediately and called a surgeon immediately. That part went right.

Everything else went wrong.

We don’t know for sure why Bill developed the adhesions that strangled 12-inches of his small intestine, causing the blockage and dead bowel syndrome. He’d never had surgery or an injury, which are usually what cause adhesions. He had, however, been on coumadin (Warfarin) for three years for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition which makes you at risk for dead bowel syndrome – one of the places you can throw a clot is to the intestines. Rare, but it happens. So rare that everyone worries about strokes or heart attacks with atrial fibrillation, but most people aren’t even aware the other could happen.

But a clot wouldn’t explain the adhesions that choked off 12 inches of small intestine, so we suspect the coumadin had caused abdominal bleeding, which in turn caused the adhesions. Again, we’ll never know for sure.

What John and I know is that we were told by the ER doctor that Bill would need surgery quickly, but since this small facility didn’t do surgery on weekends, it would have to wait until Monday – which was already stretching it. On Monday, the surgeon decided to wait and see if the obstruction would resolve. I begged, pleaded and bullied for days, but no one wanted to touch him because his atrial fibrillation made him a surgical risk.

Since his condition was a death sentence – the window of opportunity for a positive outcome is small, and 9-12 hours or so is optimal – our thinking was “do the damn surgery NOW!” According to an online Merck Manual for Patients and Caregivers, if blood flow to part of the intestines is cut off for 10-12 hours, that part of the intestines dies, and so do 70 to 90 percent of people who are operated on after dead bowel syndrome occurs.

Bill’s surgery wasn’t done until Jan. 9, and that was after I threatened the surgeon the evening of Jan. 8 with taking Bill to UAMS the next morning. By then, Bill had gangrene, necrosis and an abdomen filled with 2 liters of blood. He was on the verge of rupture and his prognosis for survival was grim.

If he’d had the surgery sooner, would he still be here? Hard to say, because he had the presenting symptoms of dead bowel that first night. But he wouldn’t have been left to suffer and develop severe delirium.

Presenting symptoms, according to Merck are:

Severe abdominal pain, usually sudden, but only slightly tender to the touch at first. “Pain out of proportion to tenderness is an important clue for the doctor. Later, as the intestine starts to die, the person’s abdomen becomes tender to the touch.”

In the wee hours of the night of Jan. 10, I was able to get into two online emergency-room-protocol manuals. One was specific for geriatric care. Today I am blocked from them, so I can’t quote, but from memory, I can tell you that they said patients present writhing with pain, usually with an oval area of abdominal tenderness, which Bill had. They also stressed the pain would seem greatly out of proportion to the symptoms and doctors should immediately suspect bowel obstruction or dead bowel and that immediate surgery is protocol.

Again, I am not a doctor. I’m just sharing what happened to us in hopes of preventing it from happening to others. Please read up on bowel obstructions in the elderly – don’t just take it from me. You need to know. Things happen fast.

And then it’s too late.

Mother and Bill in a healthier, happier time

Mother and Bill in a healthier, happier time

Tell me something good

My 10-night recent bout of insomnia has left me with a new mantra: “Tell Me Something Good.”

I started hearing Chaka Khan’s throaty refrain on auto-play in my brain the first morning after I started sleeping again. My mental vision of Rufus on stage in Fayetteville in the mid-1970s, with Chaka’s Afro bobbing and silver lamé hot-pants, bikini top and knee-high platform boots sparkling, still makes me smile.

I’ve realized hearing or reading about too many bad things, especially things about which I can do nothing, is not good for my sleeping habits. I’m on a Time, The Nation and MSNBC diet for a while.

Of course I’ll continue to read enough to be informed (and Calvin Trillin is a necessary delight), but for now, we have enough going on in our family circle to keep my brain occupied. Overdosing on bad news and hype is bad for my health. And I don’t believe we’re going over a damn cliff anyway. Maybe a speed bump ….

So with that in mind, here’s a dose of good news (some arising out of bad):

Mother is in horrible shape with her back, bed- and wheelchair-ridden – but it’s fixable. We saw the surgeon Thursday, Dec. 6, and are awaiting a surgery date (soon, soon, soon). Rehab will be a long haul, but she should end up in decent shape for a 77-year-old with rheumatoid arthritis.

The doctor’s visit was followed by The Bernice Garden Tree-Lighting and Craft Festival, which was a big success. A good time was had by all. One of my neighbors was delighted to report that at the last few events there she’s only seen about three people that she knows – it’s not just our neighbors taking advantage of the beautiful facility anymore.

People of all ages, races, and socioeconomic levels mixed and mingled at The Bernice Garden Tree Lighting party.

People of all ages, races, and socioeconomic levels mixed and mingled at The Bernice Garden Tree Lighting party.

Forward thinking downtown-dwellers are tickled about that!

Carolers from a neighborhood school were a precious part of the entertainment.

Carolers from a neighborhood school were a precious part of the entertainment.

I bought one gift and some wonderful “Lavish Ylang” beeswax-based Killer Bee Wholy Healin’ Cream that I’ve been using on my face at night to help me sleep. Lavender and ylang-ylang. Yum. Can’t get much more relaxing than that. I highly recommend it – excellent, locally made and inexpensive! That’s a winning combination.

KillerBees Wholy Healing Cream was just one of the vendors at the Garden.

KillerBees Wholy Healing Cream was just one of the vendors at the Garden.

Saturday I put up our lovely little live tree, yesterday I got Mother’s up for her, and last night we had the pleasure of seeing our boy Jude sing his heart out at the Immaculate Conception School children’s Christmas concert. He’s such a handsome, big boy.

I’ll end this short post with a couple of random things that made me smile the past few days. Since Washington state legalized pot, the Seattle police department has invoked The Dude in its outreach campaign to stress the limits of the legality. “The Dude abides and says, ‘take it inside” is one of their slogans.


(I’d like for them to have said “toke it inside,” but that’s the editor in me.)

And in today’s Zits comic strip, dorko Dad, a baby boomer like yours truly, is sporting a Humble Pie T-shirt.

Gotta love it. Happy December.

A change would do you good

Sometimes when I sew, I turn on Dr. Oz. That was the case last week when I was hurriedly making myself a new apron for Thanksgiving. I was very thankful I did, because this episode validated something I’ve long known to be true.

If you’re sad, bored or unhappy with your life, a change would do you good. My girl Sheryl sang about it years ago, and Dr. Mehmet Oz’s father-in-law, Gerald Lemole, a respected surgeon and author himself, discussed that very thing on the episode called “How to Get a Super Brain.”

Not in the same words, but the meaning was there. Dr. Lemole said to find balance in life, you need four things:

1. You need love.

2. You need to feel useful.

3. You need to have something to look forward to.

4. You need to have gratitude for what you do have.

Simple, but profound – especially the something to look forward to part, which is missing in so many lives. How many people do you know who are stuck in a rut and never do anything fun or anticipate anything that will be a diversion from the mundane?

I can’t live that way – I have the need for change and something to look forward to embedded in my bones. My daughter inherited it, and I think my grandson did too. (When we left The Wonder Place the other day, where he and cousin Nathan had a great time, as we walked out the door, he asked,”Can we come back here again real soon?” And don’t even mention Christmas. He’s pinging already.)

We’ve been told it’s a character flaw, but it’s not. Dr. Lemole said so!

That trait was a serious bone of contention in my first marriage. I can’t tell you  how many times I heard “You’re never satisfied!” But anticipation doesn’t mean dissatisfaction. Looking forward to the next thing doesn’t mean you’re unhappy. Au contraire.

Having so much fun on a trip that you immediately want to plan the next one isn’t a bad thing, is it?

Being so pleased with how the room you just painted looks that you start planning the next project immediately doesn’t mean you’re crazy or flawed. Or unsatisfied.

In fact, it probably means that you’re more satisfied than people who never do or change anything.

For me, nothing says excitement like travel. I really am always planning the next trip. John will vouch for that – and I’m sure I try his patience, too, but at least he understands my wanderlust. In 2014 we’ll have our 10th anniversary, which, at our ages needs to count as a biggie, so we’re already tossing around ideas of fabulous places to go.

That’s something big to look forward to. So is the birth of our fifth grandchild, to come in April.

But as a movie hound, I also get excited about coming attractions, which is a pretty simple way to get a “looking forward to it” fix. Last night we saw Skyfall, which is shockingly good for a James Bond movie, though too long (and ridiculous if you don’t suspend disbelief). Javier Bardem is crazy-good as a crazy master criminal.

And we saw so many new previews – so my list of movies to look forward to grew by about three, just as it did at Lincoln and just as it did at Flight. SO many good ones to anticipate.

I also look forward to new-release CDs by favorite artists, new books by favorite authors, visits with my adorable grandchildren. Parties. A walk with the dogs on a beautiful day. A good conversation with a good friend.

You get the picture: Little things can do the trick for  Nos. 3 and 4.

We should all take lessons from dogs, who get excited by the least little thing.

Tess and Zuzu are always ready for anything. What’s next, Mom? Throw the ball, Dad. WALK?? WALK, you say!!!!

Anticipating something fun or something good is so important. So is being open to change.

It really will do you good.

It hurts me, too

My finger is black, but I don’t have the blues. Image An occasional semi-serious ouchy is good for a parent (and grandparent) to remind one that life can really hurt.

When you watch your toddlers pinging off tables, door facings or walls, you tend to be more sympathetic if you’ve recently dinged yourself (a pretty constant state for me, actually). It’s easy to forget just how badly scrapped knees hurt unless you’ve had some in recent memory.

At my 10-year high school reunion, my legs were covered in scrapes and scabs from wiping out on a neighbor kid’s skateboard. I assumed it was karma for requiring my then 3- and 4-year-old children to be little troopers when they had boo-boos. I know I was more sympathetic after my spectacular skid, but we still had the “no blood, no tears” rule.

Not that I’m glad that I caught my pinky finger between a paint roller and the fuzzy cover when I was pressing as hard as I could to get it assembled. Nor that my finger was stuck and flat and I was here alone and it took me a bit of time and some serious struggling to get the roller off. For a sec, it looked like the end of the finger might be a goner.

(Zuzu wanted to help – she rarely leaves my side when I’m working around the house – but she didn’t know what to do.)

I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone, myself included. But it was a good reminder to slow down, be more careful and expect the unexpected.

This post was going to be a much longer litany of odd and funny self-inflicted injuries I’ve sustained as an adult who should know better – but I keep forgetting and using my little finger to type, so I’ll stop here.

Be careful out there. And beware rogue painting equipment.


The grandchildren’s tiny little room upstairs is almost finished – and very cute. At least the paint, Martha Stewart’s Bluebird, only took one coat to cover the white primer on new walls. It’s worth a sore finger.

Just breathe

Just breathe is good advice, and appropriate, considering my overnight flight back from SeaTac this week. Sometimes you need to slow down and get some perspective.

(Surely you know and get the connection, but in case you don’t, Pearl Jam is from Seattle. And Just Breathe is a Pearl Jam song, if you didn’t click the link.)

One bit of perspective I got was that, barring overseas flights when it can’t be helped, I’m too old for overnighters. Especially when they’re an hour late because you’re waiting on flight attendants (I’m talking to you, United) in a small terminal packed with unhappy travelers whose flights have been delayed or cancelled due to strange weather all over the country.

And when you have to semi-run in your Birkenstocks (ouch, blistered toe!) to catch your hop home from Houston at 7 a.m. The fun part was that I got to semi-run with Dero Sanford, my neighbor from down the street. Crazy. We even ended up on the same row on the flight from Seattle.

Enough about that. The real “just breathe” advice of this column is of a different vein. People you love get sick, get old, fade away both physically and mentally. At least you’ve got them, or at least you had them.

When fighting it does no good, stop. Do what you can to make things better but accept that you can’t work magic.

Revelation: We can do a heck of a lot, but we can’t work miracles. We can’t stop time. We can only breathe and take what we’ve got right now.


What we had last week was family time – and, for Kitty and me, some serious fun. Part of my duty – somebody’s got to do it – was play with her while she took a caretaking break and John spent time with his mother.

John’s still there and enjoying every minute with Mom. He and Kitty face some unpleasantness, but they’re excellent children and will do things right.

Doris and John are seriously into their Red Velvet Berry cobbler, our July 4 festive dessert.

Kitty and I lunched, shopped, got pedicures (my nail polish is called “108 Degrees,”  which was a no-brainer choice considering the weather here lately) and saw “Magic Mike” with Nancy and Pam. I’ll have to see it again here with my friends.

Oh, darn. Good-looking, talented male strippers. Twice. Again, somebody’s got to do it.

We had a fab Fourth of July in Selah, which included Independence Day for Little Bunny, whom Kitty and Norm rescued from one of their cats, who was using the tiny thing as a bean bag.

Little Bunny, moments before liberation.

The Inabas are nothing if not nurturing, and Bunny thrived. He hung around us a couple of days after liberation, but now he’s hopping around happy and big enough to survive cats and other critters, we hope.

The week started out coldish, but by Sunday it was 102 in the Yakima Valley, and we had a storm that rivaled Dorothy’s, minus the tornado. Monday it was back to Seattle, via Chinook Pass, which still has a crazy amount of snow for July.

Chinook Pass, where I busted my ass – soft snow and Birkenstocks don’t mix, especially on a steep incline.

But enough words. I’ll let photos take over from here. Tomorrow, historic Ellensburg and a close(ish) encounter with Mount Rainier.

Kitty waits to see if LIttle Bunny will exit his cage. He debated it for a while.

He’s out!

Little Bunny tests his freedom. Soon he was frisking all over.

Kitty, Ron and Wayne at our July 4 festivities. Kitty is a master gardener, as you might be able to tell.

Norm is a master farmer – Inaba Farms is big league. Check out the purple cauliflower.

Great-niece Emma (who made me a very cool bracelet as a gift), yours truly, and niece Lisette get in some serious girl talk.