My Old Boy

When I met him back in 2008 he was just 28 years old, since that time he has aged, he is now 77, in dog years of course. He is my old boy.

He was the only quiet dog in shelter,  a black and white border collie laying in his cage eyeing me cautiously. We were told by one of the volunteers that he was his favorite and if we were going to adopt him, he would look away.  We got him out to play and he was simply the best. I bonded with him immediately, he has the sweetest face and eyes. I couldn’t say no.

We took him home and for the first week he laid on his bed and stared at us never made a peep, not a bark out of him. He wouldn’t eat or drink. I put maple syrup on my fingers to let him lick it off hoping his blood sugar would increase and maybe he would eat. After two weeks, still no sound. Three weeks in  I am upstairs and I hear a strange noise. Wait , is that a bark? In my house? Indeed it was and it has not stopped since.

We have survived a lot of turmoil with him, separation anxiety, two major surgeries, acting out, manic fear of storms and fireworks. He chewed shoes, ate some eye glasses and left a mark or two on my boyfriend. (Didn’t like the competition). He is my old boy.

His name is Jessup after Colonel Nathan R. Jessup from the movie “A Few Good Men”. I sometimes call him Cujo and my grandson has adopted that expression as well.  He is the cantankerous old man of our house, He likes it quiet and sleeps 80 percent of his days.  He has beds in two different rooms. He can’t always navigate the stairs properly and sometimes one of his legs gives out and he splays his body across the stairs, as if he is just learning to walk. But he must be a Marine because he never gives up. He often moans in his sleep or barks for no reason. He struggles to get in the car, but boy does he love the ride! So we often give him a little help. He still lets me give him a bath and comb out his shiny fur if treats are involved. Continue reading


Exit Ramps

To the amazing asshole in the shiny black sports car who nearly missed your exit….there are others.

I drive interstate 80 everyday for an edgy hour and 7 minutes. At the best of road conditions it’s still a very dangerous road filled with race car driver wannabes. It’s Iowa, not Indy. I am a pace car a nice steady, marginally above the legal limit, uses turn signals driver.

It’s now February and winter in the Midwest, extra driving intelligence behooves you. This mornings stellar driver didn’t even pass the basic skills test, although I am sure if queried he or she would support his last minute near collision decision.

Let me set the scene for you, it’s 0630 ( that’s still dark here in the frozen tundra) and the highway is glossy to the eye, salt trucks are out, so that would lead a reasonable person to think their could be icy spots on the highway. I am traveling at between 70-73 on this fine Thursday morning, in the right lane as prescribed by law. About 2 miles from my exit ramp destination, out of nowhere, this small black Hyundai crosses in front of me at a high rate of speed, I could feel the wind on my hood, he was that close to my front end. In a manner of seconds he cuts me off, and drifts over to the exit lane that he nearly missed, and travels down it continuing at a high rate of speed and nearly losing control of his vehicle.

It happened so fast, I barely had time to process what had transpired. When I did, the word “idiot” burst forth from my lips, followed by “there are other exits”. It’s I-80, there are lots of other exits, yes, it might delay your arrival by a few minutes, but at least you would be alive. Personally, for me that’s a better option. The rash decision you made to cut me off was thoughtless and stupid. Perhaps you were late for work, or rushing to the hospital for the birth of your child, but more likely you are just an inconsiderate, risky driver who thinks the highway is your own personal Indy 500. Leave the real race car driving to the big boys.

This particular segment of I-80 is usually pretty congested and filled with arrogant, careless drivers, and decent, respectful ones too ( this blog isn’t for you, but I will say thank you.) to those that bear down on drivers in the passing lane as if you are in a live action video game, you are not. Someday, I may just slam on my brakes and let you hit me. The rage it incites in me to look into my rear view mirror and see a large vehicle with huge headlights burning into my retina’s because the passing speed of my small car doesn’t match your overzealous capabilitites and lurking behind me to force me to go faster like a modern day duel is simply dangerous and unnecessary.

I have a life and people I love, you don’t have the right to endanger that because you are relieving some pent up frustration or other fraility you are trying to overcome, behind the wheel of a powerful vehicle, using it as a substitute for real courage or common sense.

Chill the f out.

Until Next Time,


Memory pole

As I was driving home from Lincoln, Nebraska on Interstate 80 somewhere along the way through Iowa I saw a roadway sign announcing  “Freedom Rock” . I always like to try pull off and take a look at interesting things along the journey, and frankly other than John Wayne’s birthplace, the options on this journey were sparse. So, I took the exit. As I traveled down the lonely two lane road, about 1.5 miles past the assortment of used Humvees for sale and a very tall partially rusted sign that proclaims “salad bar’’,  I saw a rock ahead on the left hand side of the road.

I turned into the gravel road and stopped. To my left was an enormous rock which had been lovingly painted with an interesting array of war heroes . It was a brightly colored mural that wound itself around the shape of the rock. I walked around and marveled at the freshness of the paintings, vibrant colors as if it had been painted that morning. The artwork wasn’t masterpiece art but definitely lovingly painted with heart. The setting around the marker was serenely beautiful. It is placed right in front of a frozen pond surrounded by trees,in the middle of Iowa cornfield country. I continued to walk around the perimeter of the of the rock viewing each of the paintings slowly and with purpose.  Respecting every stroke.

As I came around the backside of The Rock I noticed the telephone pole. The telephone pole was covered with memorials left by visitors touched by the simple memorial. The pole was truly the memorial. It was decorated with a wide array of memories, a tattered flag marked with black felt tip “ Medal of Honor”  the name and the dates, there were patches from different units, dog tags,  pins and a handmade cross.  All tacked up on to this telephone pole off the beaten path in Iowa reminding visitors to never forget. Perhaps it’s something that more of us should do, stop along the way at those obscure roadside signs pointing to some kind of Memorial or historical marker. maybe just maybe it might make you smile, or ponder or just remind you to never forget.
Until Next Time,


Two little letters that mean so much to so many.  It stands for Ingrid Brown, owner of  “Rollin B LLC” , Independent trucker, known across the entire USA, famous in her own right, and most recently, Cancer warrior. It’s the last one that i want to write about today.

Last summer she went public with her struggle. It cut me right to the heart. You see we have known each other a long time, started back in the USMC as two young women starting an adventure together. We were from different parts of the country. I had no accent and she spoke with North Carolina y’all charm. She drove a truck with a gun rack, I had never seen a gun. But yet, those differences made us friends. For life.

Life took us many lifetimes away but we never forgot each other. Marines are for life. We lost the third of our Parris Island trio in 2009. So when IB came forward with her fight, I choked. But IB never did. She took it all in stride with her regular affable nature. I was so amazed to watch her go through her treatment so publicly, and to share so others can learn and be aware. I have seen her kindness and honesty blossom into so much more.

Each new biopsy or abnormal lab, is faced smiling and with a very stylish paper gown selfie. Who does that? IB does, humor is her armor.

But what she doesn’t know or realize is that her story really helps others, people feed off her courage and that couldn’t happen if she wasn’t public in sharing her story.  I am so proud of her amazing will and her pure enjoyment of life despite her current challenges. She faces it head on and smiling that megawatt smile.

She has endured a lot of cutting and a lot of testing to stay ahead of the monster. She encourages other to be aware of their bodies and get abnormalities checked out. She is an outspoken advocate for awareness, she is a friend to everyone. There are no vacancies in her world her support network is strong and I am but a piece and proud of it.

I want her to know, that she is loved, and that strong fighting waves are headed her way, every day.  Never give up the fight, press on Marine.

Until Next time,



The long and short of it

I had really long hair once a long time ago..I cut it two days before sophomore year, I cried.. a lot. I have been cutting it ever since. I have been contemplating cutting it again. I decided to have a little fun and get a little help with my decision.

I did a brief poll on FB of course! I posted two photos of myself and asked long or short? Vote.  It wasn’t rocket science, but I wanted to see two things, preference and sex.  You see most of my life, I have been told “ Men like long hair” which instinctively made me ask “why?” And women don’t ?  Of course it directly influenced my hair decisions. As if it was an act of defiance. Or maybe I am just contrary. Or both.

I have had many lengths over the years, short, really short, longish, curly, straight , I covered all the bases.

I love long hair, other people’s long hair, so far not my own. There are times I glance in the mirror and think “yes, I will keep growing, it will start to look better” and then the next day “ nope, this scraggly stuff must go, I need style !” And again, I am on the fence.

I love shiny strong hair, and am often envious of others manes. I long for a messy bun ( a long way off..) or just thick free air – dried hair, waves and all.

But I LOVE short hair … the ease of it, the quick styling of it, the funkiness of it, no Muss attitude of short hair. Plus it makes you different, not everyone can wear short hair. I think short hair accentuates the face, allows you to show off new earrings or scarves in a cute tossed up style.. It’s fast and usually doesn’t need styling if you sleep late. At least not mine.

So while my heart and brain long to see me with long hair, to see if it changes my perception of me, I usually always retreat to my roots.. no pun intended.  And I return to short.

So the results of my survey ? 15 long/ 12 short. Of the 15 long 13 were women 2 were men. Of the 12  short 8 women 4 men. Now based on the aforementioned statement that  “Men love long hair” that would appear to not be completely true, More men  preferred short versus the long, 2 to 1 males preferred my hair short.

I found that interesting and it defied the myth that “ all men prefer long hair” and perhaps it dispelled another myth, women with short hair are less feminine.

Completely untrue,  I feel more feminine when I don’t have to hide behind hair as my crowning glory, I think it allows my other virtues ( brains for example) to take center stage, I am so much more.

Yes, I know it’s my perception and it’s my hair, unruly , uncooperative and still growing.. for now. But you never know when I will be overcome with a need to cut my hair.

I will sit in a beauticians chair and proclaim, lets cut it.  And we will.

When? Only the shadow knows.

Until next time,




I have an hour commute each morning and listen to podcasts frequently. My interests are diverse and this week “ You must remember This”  has been my  choice. A delightful podcast that takes you into the lives of stars and starlets in the early days. This week I listened to Jean and Jane. This is a podcast in multiple parts focusing on the lives of two actresses and comparing the trajectory of their lives.  I became enthralled with both stories but Jean struck a chord in me.

She was from Marshalltown, IA and her name was Jean Seberg. I am from the Midwest and my middle name is Jean. As I listened to her story I felt as if I knew her, at least her Midwest upbringing, the rest is a tale that is joyous, sad, true complete with a tragic Hollywood ending.

In her short life she did it all, left Iowa, became a star in a most unexpected way, and forged her way through directors, lovers and films. She was an activist and woman who spoke her mind. She survived marriage, death , birth and loss all in the middle of the public eye.

As I listened to the story I became intrigued and wanted to see her films, experience what the public was treated to in each performance. I began googling, I was able to find clips of films, St. Joan, Breathless that made her a star, interviews, brief cuts from films and pictures so many pictures.  There she was with her pixie cut, life twinkling in her eyes and her voice. She looked a little like Audrey Hepburn with her hair cut,  there was something simply delightful about her laid back casual style.

I found a brief scene from “Lilith” and then another. This was the film I wanted to see in it’s entirety, this is the one exalted as her best performance. The one I was unable to find.  As I watched the clips, I soaked in every bit, her nuances, acting as if she wasn’t acting but just being Jean.

It is impossible to not be taken by this coquettish charmer. I kept searching and  I couldn’t turn away I was captivated by her. I am glad she shared herself with us, even for a short time. We remain grateful.

The beauty of film is that it has the ability to preserve life at it’s highest and it’s lowest, and to be captured on film is to remain immortal.

Jean struggled with life, and hers ended in a tragic manner, still open to speculation. The gift she left us is not in her death but in her life and the ability to revisit her through film.

Watch a film if you get a chance, she will leave you breathless.

Until Next Time,




Chicago Theater

I recently had the extreme pleasure of witnessing live theater at the fabulous Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. The beauty of live performance is something that cannot be understood without experiencing it. If you have not ever seen a live production you should…soon.

For me personally, it opens my heart, soul and mind. Each performance is a new adventure and leaves me excited and feeling creative in my own right.

We do not  live in the big city currently, but visit every chance we get. It’s a beautiful escape from the daily grind and the excitement builds the closer we get to the city.  On this day it was a clear beautiful winter day as we arrived in Chicago, and yes Lakeshore cold.  We arrived around 330 and checked into the hotel. I explored the hotel for a bit and then began to prepare for the theater. Mentally and physically.

Mentally I put on my open- minded hat, and prepare for the unknown. I have no preconceived ideas of what it will be like as every time is different. I just know I need to  open my brain to fully immerse myself in the experience.

We take a taxi to the theater and arrive a bit early, and decide to have a small bite to eat and order up the pear/sausage flatbread from the Front Bar. The Front Bar is attached to the theater and provides a hip pre-theater (or after) gathering spot. It has  a welcoming air about it, the square open bar with tall seats and stylish shelves holding a wide selection of liquors and glasses.  it has a long table as well as a few smaller ones and on the far side, there is a casual conversation area welcoming you and providing an area perfect for conversation.

It was brewing with activity as the complex houses more than one theater. We selected a standup table for our pre-event munching. The party next to us was chatting about the playwright and I was listening. They love his work and were excited to see the newest production. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the buzz, it’s all around you. The hum of excitement.

Our flatbread arrives perfectly on time and we quickly devour it, as its nearly showtime. We find our seats in the balcony (front row, my favorite). I prefer the balcony view as I can see the entire stage. Plus I feel as if the sound rises and being a hearing aid wearer, sound is crucial. We settle in and listen to the banter around us.

As I read the program and anxiously wait for the lights to dim and my escape to begin.  It begins with darkness and thunder. The stage is set. The players begin to enter and I am drawn in completely.

This play felt familiar, I recognized the characters, they live in my town, or yours. I enjoyed the idiosyncrasies of the characters and the very real quality of the performances. For me, to feel as if I know the characters is a requirement of a well done play. To get lost in the characters and absorbed by the story is essential.  This production pulled you in like a spider catching you in his web and keeping you dangling until the very end.

The audience laughed at the humor of the writing and the delivery of the lines was perfect.  This production took the audience through a roller coaster of emotions, laughter, humor, and finally sadness. It left me breathless, and definitely generated some deep discussion after the play. To engage with creative people and come to the same understanding of the message is stimulating and reinforces my belief that I do possess a certain bit  of creative expression myself.

It’s one of those life events so perfect, you don’t want it to end, you wish to remain suspended in the theater, until the next opportunity comes your way. But eventually it does, you hail another taxi and you make your way back to reality, but not before thanking the actors for sharing their gift and allowing an escape, for even just a few hours from a cold Midwestern December night.

Until Next Time,



Positive cold

-16 in the Midwest that is a normal thing about this time of year.  Doesn’t make it any less bitter, but we are hearty folks and we endure.  I guess you really know you are from the Midwest when you look forward to a positive temp as a heat wave.

Next week for example 30’s are predicted with more snow, but hey it’s above zero and we will embrace it, maybe even go outside!

I try to continue my walk each day to and from work. i have managed at least one way each day this week. Yes, they do have buses and yes, I occasionally take one in the morning. But as I check my  phone for temp before heading out the door, and everyday I am faced with the same decision as I approach the bus stop, stand and wait for 10 minutes for the bus or keep moving, usually it is keep moving. It seems to make more sense to me. About 1/2 mile in I am evaluating my decision, but once you comit to walk you are in, so I pick up the pace. Gratefully, I see my car ahead, a den of warmth waiting for me. A haven of heat.

As I sit in my car waiting for the heat to burst forth from my vents I am listening to the radio and they are talking about a young student who was found in the snow. My heart breaks a little and it takes me back to my own neighborhood and my feelings of helplessness and fear.

A few nights ago around 1030 in the evening I was upstairs in my cozy bed with a thick warm comforter and the steam heat going turbo, a movie is on and the door is shut. My guy is downstairs and all of sudden I hear a loud sound from downstairs and my dog starts to go nuts. not the regular barking but the fierce I am protecting you barking. I come out of the room and from the top of the stairs I realize there is someone at the door. I watch the scene unfold, the door opens, a brief discussion takes place and my guy is reaching in his pocket and handing money to the unseen stranger at the door.

Afterwards, we talk about it a little and decide to call the police, not because he came to the door but because it was dangerously cold and he was wandering in it. When the police were phoned, they knew about him already, seems my guy was not the first Good Samaritan of the night. I slept a little lighter than usual and the scene was playing out in my brain on rewind for a couple of days. Initially I asked my guy why he opened the door at all, his response was honest and heartfelt. “Should I have yelled through the door and told him to get off the porch or should I open it and extend human compassion for another?” He acted accordingly and without fear from the goodness of his heart.

As I thought about this individual and tried to understand what it must have taken for him to climb those stairs, knock on the door and ask for money. Where had life taken him that he ended up on our porch that night. He didn’t demand money, he introduced himself and asked.

I tossed around a million questions in my mind, why our house? Did it somehow look more welcoming than the others? Would he come again? What should we do if he does?  My guy has a big heart, he would help everyone if he could, I have watched him help strangers more than once, simply because it is the right thing to do. I am learning to have both open eyes and heart.

In the days that followed I watched for him each time I pulled out of my garage or drove the streets early in the morning, what was I watching for? I don’t know. He didn’t threaten us, he was oddly courteous as if somewhere along the way, someone taught him something. I was ashamed of myself for being uneasy and unexposed to the plight of those challenged by life.

Tonight I saw him again, I was turning out the porch light for the night, I watched him stumbling down the street, he turned down the alley and swayed a few more feet and stepped behind a garage. I watched from the upstairs window to be sure he got back up. I was worried he had passed out and with the frigid temps outside, he might get frostbite or worse. A few moments passed he reappeared and resumed his stumbling down the street, hopefully towards somewhere warm.

The fixer in me wants to help. To reach out with food, beverages, warmth. But  I don’t know his story and I don’t know if he wants to be fixed, maybe he just needed money to get home.

And if someone unexpected knocks on your door, answer…with your heart.

Until Next Time,



D and the Pope

When I talk about her you can count on one thing for certain, I will be smiling.

The Spring before she left us, she invited me to Colorado for a girls weekend, she insisted I come and well she never took no for an answer. I went.

It was the second time I had visited since we had reconnected. She met me at the airport  smiling and needing confirmation that she was still her. Two of us arrived at the same time, Monica and I . Denita directed me to ride with Monica, a friend I had just met. I did as I was told. As I rode with Monica we discovered a few things, we were both Marines and we shared the same birthday. Our friendship was sealed.

We arrived at her home and settled in. I got the tour quickly from D showing me around her lovely home, it was beautiful. Her freewheeling style was everywhere, the home was lived in. From the creative expression gracing her daughters walls to the half painted wall in the living room she never finished because she got sick again. It was filled with her.

There was a group of us invited us for a girls night dinner. We woke up that Saturday and sat at her table and feasted on her mom’s red gravy and eggs. A recipe I wish I knew how to make.  And then the preparations began in full force, a trip to the grocery store, some wine, some laughs. We were preparing the king crab legs and she directs me to a buffet to fetch a plate. I begin opening drawers and there inside the second drawer is a wrinkly photo. I pull it out and look at it, then I turn to Denita and say “Is that the Pope?” “Yes” and you? “Yes” What’s he doing the drawer? Why isn’t he in a frame on the wall?

And she begins to tell me the story of  she ended up in a photo with the Pope. She essentially auditioned and was selected to serve the Pope during his visit to Denver in the 80’s. I was dumbfounded. She went on to tell me details of the responsibility and how honored she was to serve him. And that was it, that simple, Denita and the Pope.

We continued to prepare the dinner. That night she told me that she didn’t want to be Denita the sick woman, tonight she just wanted to be Denita. And she was, she put on a wig, did her makeup perfectly, topped it with red lips. I thought she never looked more beautiful.

Her guests arrived and I soon realized that I was awash in a sea of beautiful Latino women and I was a minority. It mattered not one bit. We dined on Brie, seafood , great wine and it was glorious. I remember Miranda her 7 year old asking me if she could give me a “head massage” I said sure. My hair was very short and I didn’t mind a bit. She threw her butter drenched hands into my hair and massaged away. Some of the guests were aghast. But what I remember was Denita laughing.

She laughed that rich, wonderful laugh of hers, and I remember.

Until Next Time,



Choose your words carefully they say. Words are powerful daggers and the wrong words can crush a person as easily as good words can build them up. So choose carefully.

I listen when I am in the world to the way other humans talk to each other. Is it with care or callous thoughtless words?

Often with careless, callous words. I believe adults can fend for themselves but children, that’s another story. When I see a parent berating their child with hurtful harmful words, I can’t help but wonder, if they do that in public, what goes on in private?

At first the child may cower at the harsh words and the tone of the voice, but as time goes on, one of two things seems to happen, the child either becomes desensitized to life and becomes as callous as the words, or as fragile as an egg shell afraid of their own shadow.

Both are a tragedy. A child with untapped gifts hidden under a protective shell and never tried out is depriving the world of their gifts. The child never reaches their potential , the stay wrapped in quiet despair and are swallowed by the world around them.  If they become damaged from word abuse, they may pass it on to their own children as it the norm and they know no other way of life.

Words can be as caustic as acid and as nurturing as fertilizer. Even words spoken in perceived adult honesty can be harmful to a child. Children are not small adults, they are children who are learning about the world from us. Every question asked by a child should be answered thoughtfully and with care.

As adults we become jaded and callous as our exposure to the “real world” provides us with information overload and a million personal choices to make in life good or bad. Children are innocents and they turn to us for answers because they perceive us to be wiser. Use your chance to respond in a way that allows the child to understand the tough subjects and the choices they may have to make as an adult.

Use the mastery of language to enhance, enrich and nurture that child, open their eyes and hearts to possibilities. Encourage them to take chances, explore and leap into the world, a fantastic place.

Until Next time,