Christmas Eve

In the early morning hours I sit cuddled up on my couch under a big black comforter that we found in a closet of a home we once rented. It is heavy and warm. Across the room a fire burns in the fireplace and some movie on tv keeps me company. A cup of coffee with peppermint mocha sits near by. The two human members of my house are still sleeping and my faithful companion Jessup is laying in the doorway keeping watch, even in his declining years he is our guardian, like it or not. The snow arrived on time, it blankets the ground outside and it is Christmas morning.

We had our family celebration last night, complete with homemade tamales, pozole and margaritas. This was one of the best, their happiness warms my heart. It’s not the gifts, its their pure joy. It’s watching a 2 year-old discover Elsa on her paper and knowing that all the Elsa wrapped gifts are hers. It’s watching her exclaim, before she even opens it “I love it!” It’s watching a 9 year-old exclaim excitedly at finally getting THE present he wanted or a 7 year- old telling me that “grandma you got us the wrong game, we don’t have a Wii” only to discover a few minutes later they do have a Wii, and seeing that 13 year-old smile, period. Even the big kids got a couple small surprises. And sharing that with all of them . Watching from the wings or in the center of the activity soaking up the pleasure it is perfect. Life is good.

At this time of year, I think of Christmas past, present and future. Christmas at my brothers house with enchiladas and tostadas. My Dad hurriedly shoving a Christmas envelope your way  followed with the words “ It’s a little something”. Waiting for a present from England, loving my Beezer book and Cadbury sweets. Christmas is a magical time, lose yourself in the simple magic. A snowy morning, a cup of cocoa with melting marshmallows, the sound of wrapping paper tearing, the beautiful quiet of a night with fresh snow. The melody of voices in your kitchen, a crazy dance with your babies, grab them all.

The moments of our life that we share with other humans are irreplaceable snippets of life. Live them all.  Intertwine yourself with as much of life as you can handle.  Observe the laughs, the amazement and the love around you.  It’s an intoxicating gift.

Make some new memories and cherish the past. Merriest of Christmas my friends!

Until Next time,





Christmas Past

There have been many Christmases in my life, many memorable for different reasons. This will be my 57th one. And i am grateful for every one.

I love Christmas, i love the lights twinkling, the carols being sung, the food, the drink the festivity and yes the magic of it all.

The quiet beauty of a winter snowfall doesn’t escape me, I soak in every bit.

My brother and I  were very close as children and as is evident by most of our pictures, I am more outwardly affectionate that my brother. Okay.. I pull him into photos.  But he does laugh so that is good right?

The particular Christmas that is rolling around in my mind today is the one when I was about 14 or so. I can only remember based on the length of my hair. My hair was very long until the summer of my freshman year. So this had to be the prior to the cutting. Anyway, at this point my brother and I were anxious for Christmas and of course trying to guess the contents of our packages. I have always had a gift for guessing my presents, much to the dismay of those around me.  And this year was no different, except for that one mystery package under the tree. It was a square and it was heavy. We could not guess.. we had no idea. My brother and I decided to unwrap it from one end because we couldn’t wait for the surprise. We had to know  and we had to know now. So we unwrapped it carefully so mom wouldn’t know and we could easily retape the end. as we gently peeled back the paper it revealed..nothing.. no name, nothing just this black hard surface. Now we weren’t bold enough to unwrap the entire present, so the surprise would have to wait.

Come Christmas morning we were excited. I unwrapped a silver bangle watch with a white face and a baby blue parka. I loved that parka, it had a silky feel to the material and a big hood with fur all around cradling a face on a cold winter morning. I absolutely loved that coat.

And then it was time for the mystery gift. As it turns out, it was for my brother. He tore that paper off and it was a black box with a handle and a latch. He unlatched it and the top was lifted off, it was a typewriter. So cool.

What I wouldn’t give to have that typewriter now. I remember typing on it, I loved that thing and used it every chance my brother gave me.

So many Christmas memories, this was one of my favorites. The excitement over presents, the curiosity, and the innocence of surprises and Christmas morning. All irreplaceable.

What will you unwrap this year?

Until Next time,




Shades of Gray

I heard today on the radio that blue eyes with red hair is the most rare combination in the ginger world. My Dad gave me those two things. He and I were rare together.

I began life as a ginger  and yes green was predominant in my early years. It’s an unspoken law that if you are a redhead you must wear green. But that is a blog for another day.

Over the years I have been many shades of Red. Some chosen, some accidental.. Like the time I put henna (Enhances natural highlights it said…not) on my hair and it was burgundy, not that stylish burgundy but purple mess. I called my stylist ( who is still my stylist and has been for 20 years) she said come in we will take a look. She removed my hat and said “oh” she explained why it turned that shade and then she put in blonde highlights, they were bright blonde and looked more than a little strange against the burgundy background. But it was the best option. She made me promise to not do it again. I promised and lied.

Over the years she has fixed more than one “Laurie” style. I have a bad habit of  “trimming” my bangs till they look like the first haircut you give yourself in 2nd grade.. my stylist trims bangs for free between cuts..but no..i knew better. Dying my hair, stripping the color out (oops does work, but results may vary), screaming at the result and rushing to Walgreens for yet another color to throw over the top of my latest attempt.  All due to impatience.. mine. And yet somehow my thick, unruly hair has survived.

Last summer, I saw a friend from high school and her hair was natural, long, gorgeous and grey. Totally enviable.

Then I was listening to a comic on a podcast and he was telling a story about his stylist whispering in his ear “its time” . Time for what? “ To stop dying your hair…I laughed but it resonated with me. It is time.

I am taking the leap and joining the experiment. I am no longer the girl with the red hair, I am the woman with the grey. I have earned it. Every strand is part of my story and makes me who I am and it kinda matches the rest of me. The time has come to embrace it. So I am, as I watch myself change into yet another version of me, I cant help but marvel at what color can do for your soul.

It can change you from a serious brunette to a vivacious redhead to a bombshell blonde, it can give you confidence to look the world in the eye. It can let you be someone else even temporarily, it can make you feel wild and free when you are at your most controlled and it can boost your spirits just when you need it.

Grey is just another color to try out, it may take me awhile to completely transform but so far I am enjoying it. It’s a little like watching a flower bloom, unsure of the final depth of color until all the petals have unfolded.

So lets see what I turn out to be..I am hoping for a grayish color with lovely shades of gold…anything is possible.  And a special thank you to Carol Darby who gave me the confidence to “go for it!”

I will keep you posted on the transformation, or you could join the revolution!

Until next time,



Everyday I wake up and turn on the TV to keep me company while  I get ready for work and everyday (at least it seems like everyday) there is a new accusation of some kind or another, improper touching, sexual harassment.. If you watch the TV you know the world is in turmoil.

While it leaves me queasy in the pit of my stomach, and raises my feminist anger threshold to new highs, it also makes me analyze ….what is the definition of sexual harassment? Is everything sexual harassment? Is it open to interpretation? Is my definition flawed? Does that make me less compassionate towards the victims or their claims untrue?Am I a victim And not recognize it? Is every claim valid or are they just jumping on the bandwagon for some publicity or something more sinister? This list is endless. It actually keeps me awake at night.

The definition in my workplace is if it makes you feel uncomfortable it is harassment. A glance, an action, a word, a look. Pretty broad and open to interpretation. So does that mean the innocent boy chasing a girl around the playground a million years ago was improper? Or was he just an innocent boy? The boy who moved too fast in high school? Rapist or a teenage boy with raging hormones? What are the parameters? is it black and white or filled with grey?

I am overwhelmed by the never-ending parade of accusations. Some of them lack any concrete evidence to fit my interpretation of harassment. Stupid, careless, impetuous yes…fits some of them. Criminal fits some as well. My personal challenge is where to draw the line between the variables. How do I sort through the garbage to ensure authenticity for accusation?

I feel as though I don’t know what is real anymore. Corruption and deceit is rampant. People once respected are now disowned. Careers are ruined, lives shredded, and wounds that never heal are ripped open and raw, over and over and on display for public judgement.

Females are the majority of accusers, but are there men who have not spoken up? Are they victims too? Is this simply the edge of the abyss?

I will not live my life looking at every man with doubting eyes and silent judgement of crimes they did not commit. There are good men in our world and I believe they outnumber the venom that is on the front page every day. Those men that stand up for women, those men who are appalled to be lumped in with these few powerful deviants, men that support, nurture and respect those they love. I will not allow this to color my opinion or sway me from belief in human goodness, despite the constant barrage of dark, dismal news.

Am I alone or do other over-thinkers join me in the quiet of confusion and the search for true justice? I hope I recognize it when it arrives.  In the mean time stay tuned.

Until next time,



I was recently shopping for groceries in a big box retail store that begins with the letter “W” and ends with “mart”. I was waiting in the checkout line and was watching the scene unfold in front of me.

The family in front of me were making their purchases and the last item was a jug of  wine. The cashier was unable to ring the wine through so she called for assistance. It came in the form of a smallish, mid 60’s woman with glasses and power in her pocket. She approached the family. A male, a female and a younger woman holding a baby.  Before she could ring it through she asked ALL of them for ID. They didnt’ all have it so she refused to sell them the wine.

As I watched I made eye contact with the customer and we looked at each other as if to say WTF? The manager proceeded to inform the customer that they could not sell it without ID for everyone. This was she stated “  W..M Policy” which was followed by “If you walk outside and a policeman is outside it could cause trouble for us ” Really?

Now let’s analyze this… would a policeman interact on the suspicion of an unopened bottle of wine, possibly in a sack? Do they now possess X-ray eyes that see through sacks? Is everyone subject to this kind of scanning? I have never been “party scanned” before in all my years of visiting this store. If we are going to ID  entire families for alcohol, I wonder what the “policy” is for something like guns?

I believe not, You see the family in front of me was from another country, and that I believe was the source of the extensive overkill on the ID process. I don’t believe it had anything to do with “policy”. It was simply an employee wielding the sword of power over people she didn’t like. It felt wrong and unjust and I wanted to step up and defend the family.

I phoned the store manager as soon as I got outside, I was told that it is policy under the discretion of the manager/cashier and that no it wasn’t posted. I responded that if it wasn’t a across the board but more of a Willy / Nilly policy can it hardly be called a policy? Her response was that we have 1000s of policies we can’t post them all.  I understand, but this one is big, because if you require a TSA level scan for the family, but sell it to me with a wink, I might think you were being unfair, prejudice or racist.

Yes, it bothered me that much, because I felt that it was not valid and it was degrading to the family and without cause.

So I stood up for them in the best way that I knew how, as a fellow human  seeking fair treatment for all, yes even at a discount store..

Stand up for injustice today.




Keystone Boots

I remember that day so well.   I had flown out to see my friend after discovering online that she was suffering and had been poisoned by toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

She met me at the airport, the drugs trying to fight the cancer had taken a toll on her but she was still as beautiful as ever.

I spent the weekend with her at her home, we laughed, we watched movies, we talked. But it was the trip to Keystone that is etched in my mind so vividly. She awoke that morning and was ready for a good day. The day before we had visited the pharmacy and received her medicinal marijuana (love Colorado). She shows them an ID card and they give her 2 ounces of Marijuana.

That morning we got up and she was in her incredible bathroom getting ready to take on the day. Her hair was super short but it was growing back from her most recent bout of treatment. That bathroom had enormous windows with a view to match, she told me that was why they built the bathroom there, so she could see the mountains while she luxuriated in the spa tub. Just screams aaaahhhh.. relaxation.

This bathroom also harbored another secret… the volcano. The volcano is a device sorta like a vaporizer of sorts for MJ. She swore me to secrecy ( but I don’t really think it was unknown to other members of the household) . It was her vehicle to receive her treatment, it relieved her pain. Once she completed the treatment she was pain-free for a few hours.

It was then she performed a rocking dance routine 1and sang a song with her daughter (she was always singing) as she prepared to “do something”. She informed us all that we were going to Keystone and to get ready to go.

She put on her jeans and a black sweater, kinda of long if I remember right, and large hoop earrings, lipstick and then those boots.  I can still see her sitting on the edge of that California king bed and pulling on those boots and telling me she felt powerful and full of attitude when she put them on.

They were a pair of well- worn Frye boots, square -toed and broken in. They looked great and completed her attitude against cancer, at least for that day.

We drove to Keystone and it was a cold brisk day. Snow on the ground. My first memory of Keystone was sparkling. The village twinkled in the late afternoon dusk and we strolled around, we stopped in a store and bought a hat for my ill prepared head. Then we went to a restaurant and got a bite to eat. She may have been sick on the inside but she was in charge on the outside. In a very crowded restaurant we had a table in minutes. It was her charm that did it.

We laughed and she told stories about the ski lift an escapade she had on it, something about getting on it too late and it was actually closed and they couldn’t get back.. Very Denita. It was a glorious day.

That day is etched in my memory, on that day she wasn’t sick, she was just Dee.

After she passed away, we were going through a few of her things and her son said take anything you want, Mom would like you to have them. I got the boots, plus a few other items that I treasure. I really didn’t need her wigs or intricately beaded gowns, but the boots were a perfect fit. Not really, they are an 8. I am a 7.5, but I make it work.

I don’t wear the boots often but when I  do I feel her presence and her attitude. So does anyone else who slides their foot in them for that matter. To me they are like the sisterhood of the traveling boots. Somewhat magical and when you put your foot in them like Cinderella’s slippers something magic happens. I channel her strength, her fight, her  persistence, her attitude. I feel protected, powerful and loved in those boots. And for a brief time, she is alive once more.

I will always think of them as Keystone Boots.

Until Next Time,



Some people in life are so memorable they only need one name and hearing it opens a floodgate of experiences and emotions of a life well lived.

I remember the first time I saw a photograph of her and how taken  I was by her raw beauty. The photo was found among some possessions of a friend and it was ceremoniously placed on the windshield of a car, it was not a usual place to find a photo of such perfection, but of all the stories I have heard, she was unconventional herself so the location didn’t seem odd. It was perfect.

The photograph was a simple black and white professional still shot in a simple black frame. She was dressed in a dark shirt pure simplicity and elegance. Her dark hair falling slightly disheveled about her delicate porcelain face.  Crop cut hair with bangs trailing somewhat unevenly high across her forehead. Her eyes intense and focused on what ever the photographer wanted her to see. My first thought was that she looked timeless and from another era. As I studied the picture, I had no idea who she was and then I realized.. it was her, the woman loved by so many.  She lit up that photo and life itself.

I have seen numerous photos of her over the last few years, sometimes with bright red lips looking breathtakingly beautiful  and other times leaning easily back on the legs of a friend in a group picture.  I have heard her life story and her untimely departure and while I never met her, I feel that I know her too.

Because of the love the world has for her and how it remains present in hearts to this day, she is eternal. Her kindness, her dedication, her goodness, her strength and her spiritualism, all surround the story of her life. She was a beauty whose heart was too big and her body simply couldn’t hold that much heart.

A few months ago on a trip near her hometown, I was given directions which I followed, the car honestly seemed to be driving itself. I found myself in a beautiful large city cemetery and  as we wound through the slender cemetery drive, it seemed to know the destination and the car silently rolled to a stop. We crossed the street and there were three nameplates in the green ground, hers was the third. A simple plate bearing her name. It was as if I was visiting royalty and I was honored to be there. To see her named etched in the stone, made her life, the lives she touched and her early departure very real.

Standing by her grave I witnessed the impact one human being can have on another. I listened as he let her know that the people she loved so much in her earthly life, are doing well and that she would be proud of their accomplishments. I watched as a man wept unashamed for a friend that will be forever missed.

I believe she heard.

Until Next Time,



Black Thursday

So I haven’t been to Black Friday in forever. We used to go when the reward was something like a snow globe. The stakes at Wal-Mart were high, vacuums, computers, bedding etc.
We ventured out as a reconnaissance mission for the next day. The ACTUAL Black Friday that falls on…Friday. There was one item I had noticed 3 or 4 days prior and decided to pop in pick it up and leave. Easy easy.. I had not counted on Wal-Mart Vampires.
As we approached Wal-Mart the first thing that caught our attention, we had just come from Kmart.. which had not a soul in sight. As we pulled into the lot we noted there were 5 police vehicles parked outside in the cart holding area. Hmmm. Interesting.. we parked and began our walk to the lair of shopping hell.
We entered the store and the first thing to catch my eye is the caution tape securing the safe zone around the cashiers, that we were forbidden to enter and the police positioned there let us know this was non-negotiable.
As we began the perimeter walk of the store out of fear and understanding out surroundings, something that goes back to my military training. There were bin after bin of items listed in the Black Friday flyer all strategically placed in the center aisles. Shopping vampires were standing at the ready with empty carts…strategically placed next to the appropriate bins. It was like night of the living dead. They all looked like zombies who were strategically zoned in on a particular item of choice. The following message blared over the loudspeakers “shoppers do not handle the merchandise before the 6pm start of Black Friday” Only.. it’s Thursday.
The entire store held a feeling of foreboding like Dusk till Dawn when they first enter the vampire bar unbeknown to them. But we decided to go for it, our items were at the front of the store and we had brought our secret weapon, a 13 year- old, who loves this excitement. She would ensure we grabbed our bounty. I accidentally touched an item and was reprimanded by not just my daughter ( I didn’t know the rules of Black Thursday and feared for my life. ) but also the nice woman who explained the no touching rule. Silly but there is a culture to this nightmare.
At the witching hour (6pm) the full fledge melee began. The grabbing, the shoving, the utter chaos and complete lack of shopping etiquette and human civility. As we began the walk to the beginning of the cashier line, we were following directions, we hear and see a breach of the rules. I thought Alabama would go off with red lights surrounding the offending shopper. The set up for corralling those wishing to venture into the arena of actual purchasing began half way through the store indicated with a balloon overhead, far too high for an average person to see.. so of course everyone was going in the wrong direction. Think traffic jam . And when they realize they must turn around and access the line… chaos. Rudeness to follow.
We will focus our analysis on the two women with an overflowing cart and self important attitude. When they realized they have gone the wrong way, they turned around their cart and proceed to announce to the crowd “ If you don’t want to get hit, get out of my way” Really? And they proceed to push their cart under the yellow caution tape that is set up for makeshift aisles.. sort of . Unbelievably unrefined. I know it is Wal-Mart.
As we are anxiously waiting to pay for our purchase and get out of Dodge safely , Wild West Reference.. the sweet woman behind us admires our choices and we offer up the 13 year- old who is anxious to hurl herself into the river of customers the wrong way ( think salmon swimming upstream) to retrieve another item for our new retail buddy.
As we watch anxiously for her return to safety, the 15 seconds she is gone are agonizing, sure she has been swallowed by the shopping frenzy.. when suddenly she appears around the corner, bounty held high..when the aforementioned self – serving women hit her with their carts… Wrong move.. She flips around her waist length hair and gives her the look of death.. We quickly grab her under the yellow tape to safety. She is a feisty one.
Soon we are summoned to the the assigned bouncer who shares, “my second year, still not fun”. we are nearly to safety , joy fills our hearts. We pay and move quickly out into the cold night air, feeling as if I should be wearing a sticker that says “ I survived Wal-Mart!”

Until Next Time,


Love American Style

I loved that show in the 70’s. It was fun. It exploded with fireworks. It must have influenced my love of love.

Fireworks, excitement and laughs. That show had it all.

For those of you who don’t know or choose to forget it, it was a show that provided glimpses ( 15 minutes segments) into modern love, comedy style. It had a groovy theme song and was the brainchild of Paramount television. 108 glorious episodes glittering with movie stars in all their glory. Showing us love. Sort of. TV love, perfectly quirky and it always turned out all right.

Now decades later I believe in love and the comedy of it all.  All kinds of love, new and breathless, loud, conflicted, tolerant, caring, supportive, cautious, mushy, gushy, unrequited, impetuous, youthful, aged, life long ….love.

I believe in them all. Through the pain of life, good and bad choices, heartbreak and heartache I still believe in the chance of true love. The wonder and excitement of meeting someone you want to share life with and embracing the “I love Lucy” episodes that often accompany real life love. Because life in itself is funny for the most part and love is at it’s center.

Age doesn’t define love, a heart filled with hope does. I watch people and rejoice in the expressions of love. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize as it is bathed in something called “life”.. It might take the form of a middle-aged couple walking the grocery aisles and she mentions how she wants a new lunch-bag, he says if you want one pick one out.. that’s love.  or an elderly man who walks on the street side with his bride of 70 years, to protect her. that’s love. Maybe it’s a young couple with a baby in tow and he listens as she releases her overwhelming fears of motherhood in a torrent of tears and yelling that’s a love.

Love is not for the faint of heart, it takes determination, compassion and compromise. For those who can endure the rewards are bountiful. You build a life together, one of your own design, maybe its a house in the country, maybe an apartment in the city or a trailer by the sea. More than that, it’s that joy of having coffee on a lazy morning, doing nothing but being together, holding hands, doing something you don’t love, encouragement to chase dreams, holding you when times are tough and laughing with you harder than anyone else. But it’s not all wine and roses, there are disagreements, isolation and sometimes endings. All those things together are love.

Life is a tough thing and continuing to dust yourself off and get back in the game is key to survival. Never giving up on love is the supreme game of chance. Despite your heartbreak, despite the chance it might fail, Take the chance.

If you want love, go for it. Bask in the joy of the adventure, and rejoice when you find it. It’s worth it and you deserve it.

Until Next Time,


Holiday Lights

I live in the land of John Deere and last night was the Annual Lighting of the Commons. The Commons is an area located downtown owned by Deere and the showplace of their long and storied history. It is surrounded by other establishments and is a centerpiece for the downtown area. annually with much ceremony the commons are lit to kick off the holiday season.I was surprised to learn that this was the 21st year, it seems like they built it yesterday. This was my first visit.

The annual Festival of Trees parade was a wash due to uncooperative weather and since we were going to the hockey game and the weather cleared up, we decided to go. it was a great choice. It was a brisk night and everyone was wearing winter hats, gloves and coats, this is the Midwest it doesn’t stop us, we just bundle up!

The street was blocked off about half way up and people were filling the brick patio that is in front of the Deere Store. There was a small stage set up in one corner and Santa on the other side. His line was long filled with young parents and smiling rosey cheeked  children ( this is Illinois in November!) As we made our way through the crowd, I saw Santa being escorted through the crowd to the stage, he was all smiles and authentic hair and beard, his own I wager.  After he reached the stage, he was joined by a couple of local newscasters and the Mayor of Moline for the official festivities.

The Mayor spoke and introduced Santa who then took his turn at the mic, he had a lovely voice, it matched his appearance, he wished the crowd a Happy Holiday season and led the countdown with the crowd. As we reached the number one he flipped the giant silver light switch in his hand and the holiday season had begun!

The trees on the common lit up and the giant tree that is located across the street in front of Taxslayer Center ( more on that later) sparkled like diamonds in the cold night air. It really was beautiful white lights on all and twinkling in the night.The official lighting was followed by a fireworks display of gold,green, red and white lights. It was wonderful to stand there in the cold crisp night and watch the fireworks exploding against the night sky.

But even more was watching the crowd. As the crowd sang along with the Christmas songs booming from the speakers,  and the faces of little ones enjoying fireworks for the first time, displaying their excitement without any inhibitions I was reminded of how good the world can be.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, families still stood, listening to the music and swaying quietly not wanting the magic to end. As I walked from the Commons to the Taxslayer center across the street, I was soaking in the sights. The young family behind us, Mom and Dad baby in the stroller, young man standing in front of Dad, Dad’s hand on his shoulder, all looking upwards at the sky. The woman in her wheelchair trying to maneuver the crowd. The group of preteens awkwardly standing in the corner because they wanted to appear detached and cool at the same time wanting to be part of the fun. The elderly couple that braved the night to see the lights and were holding hands.

It was a lovely Midwestern night, wish you were there.

Even if the Holidays aren’t your favorite, I hope you take time to enjoy the lights.

Until Next Time,