Leftovers and Hot Dish

I grew up eating leftovers, I never knew there was a choice. My mom brought home “leftovers” from Frank’s and I ate leftover sausage and mushroom pizza for breakfast, technically leftovers. We fought over leftovers. You looked in the fridge and saw that brown paper bag, small grease stain and you silently mouthed “yes” with a mild fist pump. Even unwrapping it was a joy. Carefully wrapped in wax paper, like a present on Christmas morning.

But when I had children of my own leftovers took on a different connotation..it was a demon, lurking in the fridge. It strikes fear into my children and now grandchildren.

What’s for dinner? Leftovers. I watch the color drain from their young faces and wait for the calculated response… oh.  Such power to be the dinner provider and hold the sword of sustenance above their heads proclaiming “leftovers” like William Wallace says “Freeeeedom” in Braveheart.

My children grew up hating leftovers (I only discovered this recently) I spent most of my life thinking I could revive anything and recreate it  once if not twice, reveling in my creativity in the face of minimal dinner offerings. Apparently my children did not share my optimism and joy of leftover dinner.

While I still eat leftovers and enjoy them, I had forgotten the  torture it was for my children, the forlorn faces, eyes darkened by dismay of eating leftovers…Surely we can have a fresh meal everyday they seem to plead.

Two months ago the leftover Demoness rose from her crypt and leftovers was in full swing. It started with Christmas and the leftover ham/turkey. It became sandwiches, Turkey soup (which was very good), even Turkey Ala King…until one pleading day my 6 year old grandson patiently queried “Are we done eating Christmas food now?” To which his sister echoed “that is the last of the ham isn’t it?” My evil response? Omelets tomorrow. :)😉

A collective groan was released, they looked as if they had been forced to eat a bowl of lukewarm porridge. I laughed uncontrollably at their plight.

We have discussed my love of leftovers and their dislike as we are now adults. My life long theory has always been”when you buy the food, you will understand” my theory was wrong.Both married, one will eat them begrudgingly and the other forces them into her husbands lunch like unwanted toys begging to be loved.

Oh we can all laugh about it now, baked spaghetti,  hot turkey sandwiches and all of the culinary delights I whip up from leftovers. I equate my love of leftovers to this scene from the 1996 movie “Big Bully”

What is this?

Hot Dish

What’s hot dish?

Well, last week we had lasagna, then it became spaghetti and when it’s finally unrecognizable, they call it Hot Dish.

Welcome to Gma’s house.

Until next time, what’s for dinner?



Coffee and retirement

There is nothing quite as fulfilling as a good cup of coffee, unless it is coffee being served to me by someone who knows how I like my coffee.to invest the time in me to understand my coffee preferences is love.

It speaks volumes to me. It says I care about you and your happiness is important to me. To wake up to hot coffee drifting through the house is Rockwellian. I didn’t always love coffee, until I was introduced to good coffee..

Before good coffee, I thought coffee was something that should taste like dessert. Mask the coffee taste in sugar and flavors until it is unrecognizable. That was coffee to me. But then I progressed..sort of. I began to drink coffee with just cream and sugar… a lot of sugar…I know baby steps.. but I did.. and I really thought I was progressive. Not quite a coffee Expert but definitely out of the novice arena.

Enter Mr. coffee.. he scoffed at my version of coffee, and gradually he converted me.. first he replaced my tiny 4 cup machine with a 12 cup. Then he added a grinder, a what? Yes, a grinder and something called “whole Bean”.. and finally enter dark roast..

So my love affair with coffee began, I cannot start a day without it, nor do I want to . Nothing is quite as satisfying as a hot cup of coffee, steaming with Italian cream. It is a sensual experience. I inhale the aroma, I take the first sip. Delightful. The perfect warmth.

It whispers lazy mornings, lounging around in pajama pants and a favorite movie on the tv. During good weather, I will sit on my porch in my pajamas and sip my brew while writing or reading. It’s a good day if it starts with coffee..

And you thought it was just Coffee..

Brew and sip.. next let’s talk tea.


13 and nails

Currently, I am sitting in the nail salon with my newly 13 Year old granddaughter and my oldest daughter, awaiting our pampering. It’s a full house today..lots of clients and technicians. I am silently in my head providing stories for each guest. The older blond at the end of the line of pedicure chairs, dressed in hot pink with a hot pink phone cover to match. Next to her a young girl, apparently meditating her way through the pedicure by the young Asian man in the ball cap with the words “sanyan army “on the side. A smattering of middle aged women all getting our paws and claws. Seven technicians in all, but demand isn’t meeting supply. The owner is gracious and attentive to those waiting for service. It’s  a Saturday so I don’t mind a bit.

The youngest client is my granddaughter, a new teenager just 2 days ago. We are getting the mani and pedi treatment.She tried to negotiate acrylics or gels but Gma stood firm..shellac on your nails only. This monumental shift from 12 to 13 is a game changer, for the girl. It was announced daily since Christmas with great anticipation.The goal is to make it memorable.

Today is celebration day starting with our visit here..then on to dinner and finally a hotel for a night of swimming and merriment!

I wish I could channel her optimism and zest for life and bottle it. The angst and turmoil that goes on in a teenage being is for the moment cowering and her elation has taken its place.  She has arrived..a teenager at last.

As uncertain as the future is, it is a joy to see it through fresh eyes filled with hope.As adults we sometimes lose our youthful exuberance and replace it with disdain and contempt. My belief is that robs us in many ways.what a shame to forget how to enjoy the little things. A melting ice cream cone running down your face, jumping in a puddle,pushing a shopping cart through the parking lot and jumping on for a ride and winter in Midwest feeling the wind kiss your cheeks full of life.

So readers try to grab some of that joy for yourself and rejoice in the simplicity of youth. Do something childish , if it reminds you to retain your childlike qualities, then you are a success in my book.

Until next time,





Observations on the road

Today my work took me to Rockford, the driving tour. If you don’t know Rockford, it’s a town in Illinois up the rock river a bit.

As we began our journey north-ish.. I was in the passenger seat, hilarious to those of you who know me, but I am trying to overcome my demons.. Being a passenger is one. This driver I have traveled with a few times and my comfort level is good. Mostly because he is a talker. I believe this distracts me from the perils of highway travel and not being in control of the wheel.

This journey was partially on the highway partially on the route know as 2, I think. I wasn’t driving and therefore, lack retention power.

Anyway as we approached Dixon, we turned off for the scenic portion of the journey. As we drove through Dixon, I couldn’t help but comment on the beautiful homes including the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan, more on that later.  As we drove through Dixon we were welcomed by the simple archway across the main road, simply proclaiming “Dixon” and since 1919 has welcomed and silently honored veterans by lighting the way.

Turning right just past the archway and continue our drive towards Rockford. I am happy we chose this alternate route and the country has it’s own type of beauty, the kind that makes you image pioneers forging through and making camp at some point along the frozen river. as we round the river, it is a display of frozen wonder, the ice intentionally broken up to help prevent flooding and yet the main channel of the river looks like glass. It seems to beckon to the spirit of yesteryear, I expected to see ice skaters appear at any moment.

As we reach the city limits of Oregon, I am charmed by a Root beer drive in named Sam’s, and the charming town square seemingly untouched by time. As we drive through another river town, I am never short on admiration for it’s quaintness. As we exit Oregon, more beautiful countryside and as we approach Lowden, I see him. Quietly standing guard of the bluffs of the river, stately and compelling, Chief Black Hawk, forever guarding the river. As I look closer I note that he is sheathed in a tarp, perhaps an odd winter coat to preserve the statue. I discover that it is an unfinished restoration project, currently waiting a new contractor to resume the endeavor and return the Chief to his well earned grandeur.

As we pass through Oregon we see restaurants with names like the Snake Pit and Maxons Riverside as well as make note of abandoned businesses like the Silo Antiques ( I just loved this building!) that at a minimum beg a story, if not a full fledged adventure.

Finally we reach our destination, the Rockford/Chicago Airport, upon entering the airport I am greeted by a large poster/sign, welcoming me to the home of Cheap Trick, 2016 Hall of Fame inductees. That image transports me back to 1978 and my first concert, Rockford Speedway, age 17. A lifetime, but yet only minute ago.

Should you have the time or believe in the therapy of a Sunday Drive, this is a good one.

until next time,






Tina, Toxin Magician

Every now and again I treat myself to a visit to an hour with Tina, my magical masseuse.  Tina is a gift. A vessel through which the gift of touch and healing travels like lightening bolts of health. Tina’s den of healing is discreetly hidden in the back of Mosiac Salon  in Moline Illinois, just slightly off of the Mississippi River.

For me it is a whole body experience, from the moment I text her number for an appointment I am jazzed, I know healing is to follow. Since mine are usually after work, I have all day to ponder the self-indulgence that lies ahead.

I pull up to the non-descript building and enter the door, careful to adhere to the written request of making sure it closes behind me. I walk down the hall, stopping to peek @ the new jewelry board display  and marvel at the ones that I might buy. Walking past a few other suites, I pass a nail technician and  hear the quiet conversations that are taking place between clients and technician and stylist.. I walk by the tufted 2 person stool that graces the entry way, begging me to sit like a princess. I enter the door way of the final suite, it is larger than the others and Tina’s room is on the left.

I am greeted by my friend and healer, Tina.  Don’t let her diminutive stature and thin build fool you, she is a beast in the massage room. Tina is a  cool hippy chick, long wavy black hair, beatnik bangs ( that I so wish I could replicate) often wearing a little tie dyed something and a few tattoos complete her look. She has a waiting smile and a “Hello, How are you?” I  respond, “Better in an hour”. I enter the chamber of divinity, and for the next hour, I am pampered.

Her room is slightly dark, with calming ethereal music playing softly. Flowers and peaceful vibes fill the room. I quietly disrobe and prepare for the full hour treatment. I climb onto to the table and softly sink in, doing my little mediation of the head and sigh “aaah”.. I notice a bonus this trip, she has added  a warmer to the bed..I think she never wants me to leave.

I close my eyes and listen for her knock, and she enters the room. Our familiar banter begins, she is both my massage therapist and my friend . I have always appreciated that she asks if she should be careful with my hair ( it apparently is a real concern for others) I simply state, “no, mess it up” and she begins the treatment with my head, which had a migraine on this day, so it felt really wonderful to have someone essentially squeeze my head.. As she works my tired muscles and releases tension and toxin from every nook and cranny, I slowly melt into calm. Something that doesn’t come easy to me as many will attest. But she does it.

I go for the whole hour, and my body thanks me. If you have never tried massage, I recommend Tina, she will introduce you gently and quietly convince you to return. Again and again. Simply through the miracle of touch.

That night I sleep soundly and awake revitalized and I am thankful. I believe in the power of human healing and the power of touch and highly recommend massage and pampering. Feet, hands, body, whatever works for you.

Until Next Time,





Migraines and Maladies of Middle Age

Middle Aged.. I am .. or so they tell me. Sounds like I should ride in on a steed with my face painted for battle and possibly have a crown or at a minimum a shield. Hmmm. A lot like I feel when fighting a migraine.

Today was a migraine day. When I have one it usually shows in my face. My face is devoid of color or “peaky” as my mum would say  and I have the attention span of a gnat. I have gotten good at fighting the beast, ever since I made friends with a drug called Rizatriptapan…Ritz for short. Putting on the Ritz has allowed me to work through the demon.  Not everyone is so lucky. I have learned to view the migraine from the outside looking in as if I am watching a movie, I become detached from the moment and  frankly, become amazed at the stages of an attack.

And oh yes for none sufferers, it is not a headache, drinking water doesn’t help. It is a neurological condition that we develop our own battle rhythm to conquer. Mine is meds and sometimes freezing my head. I practice chiropractic care, it does help, biofeedback, crying ( it’s a release technique), I find the saddest movie I can and bawl my eyes out, and I even have manic bouts of energy, as if I can chase it away if I go faster. I will try anything to get through the pain. I am a warrior of migraine.

In the beginning ( I attribute mine to the spinal I had when I gave birth), I had it all, broken vision, vomiting, 72 hours of pain.. and then just like a prize fighter, I feel the pain break.. I feel it clearing. I have won.. exhausted by a victory, I finally sleep.

Migraines are amazing powerful creatures, mine run the gamut.. small ice pick in the temple, full body, tingling, vice gripping your head, nails through your eyes, even into my teeth. It is never routine, that’s for sure. I have suffered since the age of 24, and while they are becoming fewer in my  middle aged years, they are not gone. Mine have three stages.. the Hello… honey I’m home stage… , followed by the Day 2.. just popping out for a bit, I will be right back.. culminating on Day 3 with the teenage girl stage, fine.. I will go.. for now.  and then relief..

Today I must have looked really bad, because for the first time ever, the cashier at the Walgreens, looked at me and said ” We are having a senior discount today, do you qualify?” EXCUSE me??? Yes, I wear hearing aids as well, so the hearing is a challenge as a rule. Surely, he must be talking to someone behind me.. but no .. it was me.. I took my discount… 67 cents.

It’s official… middle Aged.. I will not go quietly.. where is my Braveheart Sword…? It’s my island after all..

I have taken my Ritz, feeling slightly nauseous but Headache free.. that is the trade.  Looking forward to tomorrow’s massage.. I need it.

To all those who are fellow sufferers.. I am with you. For those who are not.. have compassion and get the ice bag for the one who suffers.

Until tomorrow warriors,



Tidiness and Order

Aaah..2017.. like the birth of a new baby or beginning a new job.. we are nervous, uninformed and optimistic for the magical future that is 2017. My wish is for happiness and health for all.

Through this holiday season my life was full of change, challenge and love.  Throughout this time I was evaluating myself, and the things about myself that could use some improvement. While there are many things, the item most often cited by those who love me, is my need for order and tidiness.

I have pondered this many times, and while I make gallant efforts at being more laid back, or at ease about my so named “need for order”. I guess to get to the root of it we must travel backwards as far as we can remember.

Many people would like to place ownership on my military background and  thusly so, the USMC is known for it’s order and tidiness. But in my case it was formulated much earlier in life. My love of order is deeply rooted in my mom.  I cannot remember a time when my Saturday morning didn’t begin with the whirr of a vacuum outside my door.  Saturday morning was cleaning day. Mom was an early riser (still is) and she cleaned to get it done so she could enjoy the rest of the weekend in a tidy orderly house. With 4 children this was short-lived victory, but you take them as they come. As we progressed into our teens and the sleeping in years, she had to be a little more forceful in her use of  cleaning to propel us out of bed. She would actually come in the room, turn on a light ( bright enough to burn your eyeballs) and begin cleaning. This was the unspoken language of time to get up, and I became a person who loves morning. I cannot lay around in bed, sleeping in is about 730, maybe 830 on a really slovenly day. For this I thank my mom, the beginning of lifelong order and early rising. Perhaps she was preparing me for the next step.

When I joined the military in 1981 it only furthered my love of tidy. I didn’t love it as it was being ingrained in my brain, but it became second nature and will follow me throughout my life, guaranteed.  Clever sayings like “time to lean, time to clean” cemented my obsession with order. It seemed logical to me, that all things should have a place. It helps feed my other overzealous trait, I am a doer. I am not complete unless I have a project to complete. A piece of furniture to refinish, a wall to be painted, a yard to be raked, cookies to be baked… you get the picture.   The art of relaxation has somehow escaped me. It has morphed into brief moments when I am alone, and yes it often is a multitasked event. I may have a movie on, while I sort my dresser drawers or re-organize my closet. It is truly relaxing for me and I get a weird sense of accomplishment from doing it. If you are a cleaner you will understand, if not,  you may just find my personal need for order is unbalanced or you may simply think I am excessive. In your world it could be correct in mine it is the norm.

I embrace the perceived odd satisfaction I get from a clean bathroom or a well organized closet. It makes me feel organized and in control of at least a small part of my life and isn’t that what it is all about, what we can control and what we can’t? I can control the extent of tidiness in my home and what it does for me. When the world inside my doors is organized and tidy I am at peace.

My belief is that peace is where you find it.  But rest assured, I derive the same type of completion and satisfaction from many activities in my life. We all have our obsessions and those activities that keep us centered and balanced. One of mine is organization.

I wish you all a New Year that allows you to find the thing that makes you whole, balanced and at peace.

Until Next time,


People and Books

On Wednesday of this week I had the pleasure of attending a local author’s book release. It was a casual affair at the Rock Island library. The author Tom McKay greeted each attendee warmly and offered pie, coffee and hot cider. There were maybe 6 tables and each contained a full plate of cookies ,a copy of the book and a blue striped coffee mug, that matched one on the cover. We helped ourselves to piping hot cider and pie. I had apple  complete with homemade filling and crust. We found seats next to a casually dressed man with long grey hair pulled back into a ponytail and a diminutive woman who turned out to be the author’s wife. The other guests were primarily gray-haired, middle aged with a couple of dark haired ones and a red head thrown in for good measure.But there was one woman who stole the show. An older woman with thick grey hair cut in a very trendy and flattering asymmetrical bob, dressed head to toe in eclectic style. Knee high boots, leggings flowing sweater topped by a dazzling smile. She glowed.

As the author made his way from table to table, working the room they say, obviously enjoying himself immensely. As the formal portion of the night got underway the publishers took the stage and introduced us to the newest novella by Tom McKay. I was proud to see his publishers were a woman owned company! The two women one dark and one red headed both took the stage and provided background on both the author and their company.

Tom then took the stage with a mix of comfort, pride and happiness.He gushed about his new book and he gave us a little insight into his inspiration for the book and the characters that grace its pages. He then read us a snippet, just enough to whet the appetite for more. He open the floor for questions from the audience and they gladly provided him with different inquiries that ran the bases of the writer ballpark.

Next came the door prizes! (I told you this night had everything ) As we entered the room we were handed a ticket. Now if you don’t know ,I have been hanging with the lucky Nelson Clan. Well we cleaned up ! We won the blue striped coffee mugs and the homemade pie (yes I chose the pie) because not only does Tom Mckay write he also makes amazing pies. I was not going to miss the chance to snag a whole one to share with my tribe. As the evening drew to a close, I sat watching all of the people who came to support his effort and witness completion of a goal. Kudos to Tom. Kudos to his supporters who bundled up on a cold Illinois evening to share this moment.

He inspired me to continue writing, beginning with this blog.

Until next time,






Pollyanna and life

The world, our world is in a perpetual state of light and dark. Depending on the day and your personal state of mind, you are one or the other.I personally try to not play in the dark too much. It sucks the life from me. Personally, human injustices like Standing Rock and child abuse churn in the pit of my stomach. I try to become informed, i wont say understand..because I can’t. The news overwhelms me and I just have to walk away or it will consume me. The darkness in our world is never ending. As a child, a favorite movie was Pollyanna, yes I have introduced to my grandchildren..with mixed enthusiasm results. This movie began my love affair with overcoming hardships and finding the good in life.

A little sappy? Perhaps..but genuine and this is MY blog. In the movie Pollyanna tells Reverend Ford that  if you look for the good in people you will probably find it.

This is my mantra..look for the good.

It is all around you just have to take the time to see. In laughter (at your expense is encouraged), in good deeds , public service, music, acts of genuine kindness (without acknowledgement), simple pleasures (good coffee,good whiskey, good beer)….the sources are endless just look around..see with mindful eyes. It will do your heart good.

Until tomorrow,





Why Monkey?

When I began this adventure in writing I did not sit down and ponder the perfect website name or address that would guarantee my blog would pop up to the top of the list for those searching for stunning reading material.

I went with my gut and monkey was in it . (more on that later )

After my first post I decided to “Google” myself ..The dreaded self-love or loathing in some cases needed satisfaction. I was nowhere to be found,probably lost deep in the unending list of blogs with monkey music in the names. I know who thought it would be a thing ??but it is.

I decided to take a creative angle in explaining the name.

I search the dictionary for the two words ,monkey has a few definitions and I decided to completely stay away from any definition that includes the words primate or control. Leaning more towards a mischievous person according to Oxford dictionaries online! For Muse I selected the noun version as it includes the word goddess in the definition and that in itself is too good to pass up. It also allows me to choose my goddess so I chose Euterpe, the music muse or as Wikipedia says “Giver of delight”. I guess that makes me a mischievous goddess of delight or for those that love acronyms MGD. (for children of the seventies also an acronym for a popular beer of the time).

The logical version is this, someone I love and respect used to call me “monkey”in the beginning. I am uncertain why, but I took a liking to the term of endearment. Perhaps it meant I was playful and mischievous or maybe because I was encroaching into his space,not sure and I’m not going to delve any further.  He’s always encouraged everything I’ve wanted to try or do and so when it came to taking the step to write my blog my gut said monkey musings and it became a thing.

You decide which version appeals to you and spread the meaning throughout the land or at least tell your friends!

Until next time,