Saturday, December 14, 2019

Life with Dog

     I once saw a cartoon wherein a man had arrived in front of the throne in heaven, and there was a dog sitting on it. The caption was Dog speaking, "And why does this surprise you?"
     We have had Barney Clark in our home now all of five days. Of course, because he is ours and we love him, he is the smartest dog alive. It is truly amazing how he has adapted and changed over the short time he has lived with us. We kept him in a small area at first so he wasn't overwhelmed with the whole house, giving him space and time to explore (i.e., sniff) his new home. The first challenge he overcame was going up and down the deck stairs at the back of our house. He didn't eat much at first, but now he's in the clean-bowl-club. The goofiest thing is that, so far, he won't poop or pee if he's on the leash. He must have been about to explode till we finally figured that out. I've heard him bark only twice since we've had him. Once was expressing distress at being in his crate at bedtime, and the other was when a salesman rang the doorbell. He is not a "talker." The other big hurdle he has overcome is our inside stairs. He flies up and down them now with speed and grace.
     I believe the powers-that-be of the Universe recently got together and said, "Leta and Dennis really do want a dog. Let's find the perfect dog for them and get them all together." Those powers did a spectacular job. We have all the joys of a young dog, approximately seven months old, with so few of the headaches. He is already house-broken, crate-trained, and astounding chill for his age. He rarely barks. He's also the perfect size for us, basically a smaller version of a Golden Retriever (with a bit of German Shepherd mixed in, we believe). And did I mention adorable?!??!
      Nevertheless, we are still adapting. Walks are a challenge, because Barney can be quite timid and frightened, especially when he sees another human, even at a distance. He sits on his tale and won't budge. With a calming break and some gentle reassurance, we can usually get him going again. Other than taking care of our grand-dog, this is the first pet we have had in our home of 34 years, so it's a total change in routine for my husband and me. Who is going where and when now matters more with a little life added to our house. Barney has not yet warmed up to getting into a vehicle, though he seems to enjoy the ride once we lift him in and go. He is learning to be a sports fan, currently watching basketball with me, to be followed by baseball season come springtime.
     I am grateful for this pup to continue to keep my husband and me moving. Though I'm not a couch potato, I've walked more in the last five days than I had in the last five weeks. We are smiling and laughing a lot more now. I can physically feel the energy of extra love flow through my heart ("woo-woo," yes, but true). It's like having a new human baby--we talk about him all the time. We are goofy in love, and clearly proud of it.
     In our troubled world, we are blessed to expand the love that is so desperately needed by raising this little fur nugget.
     It's almost sunrise, time for a walk!

Snoozing adorably on the woman-cave bed

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Before and After

     My ruthless clearing project (see previous post) is complete, as shown by the "before" photos on the left and the "after" photos on the right. My car is full of stuff to bless others, either via Goodwill or Little Free Libraries. I'll feed a shredder somewhere, as well as, alas, adding two big bags of trash to the landfill. While it's not completely doggie-proof, there's a lot less for Barney to munch on.

     It's clean! There is empty space! I have a surface upon which to be creative. My spiritual distress over way too much clutter is released. Note that this applies to this room only. It was time well spent, and I feel good once again about my woman cave. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Ruthless Clearing

     Facing five fairly open days in a row, I decided to do a ruthless clearing of the woman cave. I have several reasons for this undertaking. First is my sanity. Clutter makes me nuts. Second, we are about to get a dog, so I want there to be less around to become a "chew toy." Third, I am hoping to set an example for others that "less is way more." Fourth, I am a firm believer in the spiritual principle that clearing makes room for more good to flow into my life, and by "good," I do not mean things. Fifth, the woman cave will be much easier to clean with so much less stuff hanging around.
     This is, in part, Swedish Death Cleaning. I'm not doing it because I believe my end is imminent, but just because I'd hate for my kids to wonder, "Why would Mom keep THIS?" Our house, shed and garage are packed with stuff that would leave the kids wondering. Alas, I'd say only about one-quarter of the stuff is mine to potentially release, hence the hope that I am setting a good example with this exercise.
     I fully realize that letting go of some things can be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. This is definitely an emotional process. I have extra copies of the two books I have published. Seeing those reminds me that both left me "in the red" financially, which can be so disappointing. However, I remind myself that I have completed and brought into physical form two books, something few humans accomplish. I did enjoy the writing at the time, as it is a deeply spiritual experience for me.
     There are many memories passing through me, such as spiritual development classes I attended and taught, travel adventures, and huge accomplishments including sky-diving and completing a grueling month-long yoga teacher training. I see how many folks have powerfully impacted my life, and the many folks whose lives I have touched.
     I have a large box of books ready to go out the door. It's too heavy for me to lift. I have a medium-sized box of papers for shredding. There's lots to recycle, and trash, plenty of it. I also have an excess of blank canvasses and some other miscellany that I can pass on to a teacher friend. This clean-up may enable me to start painting again when I have cleared off my creativity table, currently piled high.
     Coincidentally (not), today is Black Friday, when so many people add so much stuff to their collections. The more I release, the less I want in terms of things. Less IS way more!
     I took "before" photos, and I'll take "after" photos of the completed project. Those will be in a future post.
     I think I'm finally ready to release that sweater my late mother knitted for me over 40 years ago.
          Lighter and loving it,

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Prosperity Pup

     I went through a rather dark period earlier this year, where I let negativity get too much of me. I was especially down relative to my own personal abundance. I knew better, but alas, there I was. What has pulled me out is getting back to daily writing (by hand, on paper) in the "Prosperous Life Journal" by Chris Michaels and Edward Viljoen.
     The floodgates of abundance have re-opened, I'm excited to say. I feel so much better on every level. Note that when I reference "abundance," I'm talking about much more than money. I'll give one example of a joy coming through those floodgates.
     For most of 2018, we dog-sat our grand-dog, Dusty, a Golden Retriever. This is the first time we have had a pet in our home of 34 years. We returned Dusty to our son last Christmas, which was all well and good. However, when we returned home and he wasn't there, the gaping hole in our home and hearts was dreadful. I cried for three days, I missed him so much. I still look for him on occasion when I come in the door.
     I have a friend who is a volunteer with a local mostly-dog adoption agency. She knows that we have been interested (and patient) in finding a Golden Retriever. We saw each other recently, discussed dogs, and I said, "No one ever gives up a Golden." (How's that for negativity?!?!) The very next day she sent me a picture of a mostly-Golden who was surrendered with parvo-virus and being treated. Interested? Oh, yes!!!

     Long story short:  Love at first sight. We have adopted him, named him Barney Clark, and my friend is fostering him during the post-parvo quarantine. We are visiting him often for him to get comfortable with us, and we will be able to bring him home in early December. I'm reading up on dog behavior and training, and I love learning how to be the best pack leader I can be.
     I often see the paw-print bumper sticker stating: "Who rescued who?" It's so true in this case. I can hardly wait to have this sweetness in our home with those floodgates of love wide open.
     Life is good!

Sunday, October 13, 2019


     I have been on retreat at Timber Creek Retreat House in Drexel, Missouri ( I first came here with a group in October 2014, and I have led an annual retreat here ever since. For several weeks prior to this year's retreat, I was experiencing a nebulous anxiety, which I could point in a variety of directions, but I didn't feel capable of shaking it. I felt a lot of uncertainty, worry and negativity. Given that the vast majority of my clothing says "Life is good" on it somewhere, this was not a comfortable place for me to be.
     Just driving up to this magnificent place causes a sense of relief to flood through me. I know that whatever may have been troubling me will gently slip away as I enjoy the setting, the people and the activities of the weekend. Both the folks who run the House and the folks on the retreat with me are people I dearly love. We appreciate and support each other.
     I lead daily Melt Method and yoga classes at various times. I usually bring some sort of supplies to enable folks to dabble in creative activity. This year's stock was for painting and collage making, and I was able to get two paintings and a collage started. I rarely make the effort on these things at home, so having time to play with all this stuff was very fun and head-clearing. Cool fall weather set in with our arrival and we enjoyed the first fires of the season in the fireplace in the hearth room, a comfy gathering place near the coffee machine where we relax together and tell stories. There is no better place than Timber Creek to recognize the therapeutic value of laughter.
     Before each totally fabulous meal, there is a time of meditation led by Tom Jacobs, philosopher, poet and musician extraordinaire. The view from the mediation room includes a pond, forest, benches, bird feeder, and often wildlife such as deer, turkeys, and of course, squirrel!
     The best part of Timber Creek is that everything is optional. It is a place where you can truly "take what you like and leave the rest." This can be a challenge sometimes, to decide what one wants to do and just do it. For instance, there are lovely walking trails surrounding the House. Most folks enjoyed lovely walks "over the river (creek) and through the woods." My inner nagger kept saying, "you should walk" and because the "should" word was involved, I did not. I stayed inside the entire weekend, enjoying the people, creative options, and nap time, glorious nap time.
     A writing on Timber Creek would be grossly incomplete if there was no mention of the food. We are served three fabulous meals each day, and we are not allowed to even bus our plates. Imagine! No clean-up, no dishes, just eat, enjoy and walk (waddle) away. Time spent in conversation around the meal table is one of my favorite things about the retreat experience.
     My group usually does not completely fill the House, so there are other guests who synchronously show up and blend in with our group. I do believe this has happened every year, and it's something we look forward to, as we have met many lovely folks this way, and it is a bonus for all involved.
     I also lead a session or two that I refer to as "release" opportunities. We gather in the Heart Room to talk, vent, listen, be heard, support and love on each other. I love the healing power of being able to safely express what is on our hearts and minds, know we are being heard and supported, and "let that shit go!" Often there is soul-rinsing (crying) involved. Energy is released and healing occurs.
     The days finish off with game-playing. For the past couple retreats it has been laughter-filled rounds of Rummikub. Quite the competitive bunch we are! I love to play games and this is one of the few times I get to do so.
     This year, for the first time, we stayed for three nights instead of two, giving us a whole extra day here. I expect this longer stay will be the norm of the future, now that we have experienced an extra day of love and spoiling and peace and joy and freedom and contentment.
     Anxiety? What anxiety? It's all in one's perspective, and right now, at now-o'clock, all is well.

Entrance    Hearth Room

Friday, August 16, 2019

Game Day #6, Oakland Coliseum

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     Our last day started out with a tour of Oracle Park, home of the Giants. We had an outstanding tour guide who was thrilled to have a whole group of devoted baseball fans, as opposed to disinterested tourists. We went on the warning track, offering a great view from field level. DON'T get on the grass!

     The traditional batter's eye in center field is actually a working vegetable and herb garden, the produce of which is used in the stadium's food service. Willie Mays is the all-time hero of the place, and his retired number was 24, and they use 24 everywhere. There are even 24 palm trees surrounding his statue in the Willie Mays Plaza. 

     The highlight of the tour for me was the visitors' clubhouse. We were treated to stories by the clubhouse manager, including the celebration after the Cubs beat the Giants in the 2016 NLDS. As a Cubs fan, and certainly not a Giants fan, I was in hog heaven. 
     Upon returning to our hotel, I went out on a quest for ice cream. I went to a Ghiradelli shop and enjoyed two scoops while sitting in the nearby park and basking in the beauty of the bay and brilliant sunshine. There were folks swimming in the bay, and I expect that water was quite cold. 
     Evening time found us, after a long, slow bus ride, at Oakland Coliseum for the Athletics-Astros game. 

Tour host Bobby and me

Stomper, the mascot
     The main adjective I'd use for the stadium is "old." It's not the worst I've seen (Yankee Stadium is), but it is not memorable in any way. The video boards are way up high above the highest seats. The neighborhood is trashy at best. The concourses were fairly roomy, but I think that's because the crowd was so small. Many vendors weren't open because of that. Unlike the ridiculously high beer prices at Oracle Park, food and drink prices in Oakland are way more reasonable, so I sprung for a $12 beer. (That beats $19.25 at Oracle.) 
     It was a beautiful evening and we had great seats on the first base side. There were ten (yes, 10) home runs hit during the game, which the As won 7-6. Given that many of us had to catch very early flights, we were really glad it did not go into extra innings. 
View from our seats
     Back at the hotel, we said our goodbyes to the group, bus driver and hosts, completing another excellent tour by Triple Crown Baseball Tours. 
     Ready to go home,

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Game Day #5, Oracle Park

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     We completed the bus trip up the coast, going directly to Oracle Stadium for the Giants-Athletics cross-town rivalry game. (Think Yankees-Mets or Cubs-White Sox.) I did my traditional trek all the way around the stadium to check it out, and also to locate a delicacy that had been recommended to me by a Giants fan/friend. In my roaming, I discovered a new high price for beer at a stadium:

Don't strain your eyes, I'll tell you... $19.25 for "craft beer." Given that I can get a dozen really fine beers at home for that price, it was easy to pass on the "craft beer" there. It was hot for these folks, in the mid-80s, and the video board kept posting warnings about staying hydrated, especially "older people." Luckily us older people had seats in the shade just past third base. It is a lovely stadium, but the concourses are narrow and therefore uncomfortably crowded. I went out during the game for both food and toilet breaks, and it felt like half the crowd was on the concourses. I learned the technique of getting behind some big, fast-moving guys who served as blockers for me.
     It is the setting of Oracle Park that makes it special, sitting on McCovey Cove. There were several boats awaiting home run balls, but none of those went out of the park. There is a counter on the wall in right field for "Splash Hits," currently resting on 80.

     It was another game with a lot of action, and the Athletics won 9-5. The aforementioned food delicacy was the Cha Cha Chicken Bowl consisting of Jerk chicken, rice, black beans and pineapple salsa. Not your average ballpark food, it was quite tasty, and even reasonable at $11.25. But then the accompanying bottle of water was $5.75. Can you tell I miss my hometown cost-of-living?!?!
     Even though our hotel was only four miles from Oracle Park, in rush hour, it took us almost an hour to get to the Marriott. The introvert in me was ecstatic to have an evening locked away in a room all to myself with a happy-hour beer, snacks and the Cubs game. Alas, the Phillies slaughtered the Cubs, but it's now a new day for more baseball.
           Onward to Oakland,

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

No Game Day #4, Up the Coast

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     Tuesday was spent mostly in the bus, driving up the coast, heading toward San Francisco. We stopped for lunch in Solvang, an adorable Danish-themed town, i.e. tourist trap. If you are a shopper, it's heaven. I am not a shopper. I did, however, enjoy beers and a light lunch with fellow travelers. We appreciated being able to sit outside and relax in the shade while conversing and imbibing.
     The real highlight of the day was a mini-tour of the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. It's on top of a mountain on the coast with a magnificent view of the ocean and mountains. The houses (yes, there are several) are spectacular, with antiques and art brought from Europe nearly 100 years ago. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools that I would be overjoyed to lap-swim in. The history of the place is fascinating. The Hearst extended family still uses the place, even though it's a state park. Our excellent guide told us about a family wedding there recently. The views, gardens and statuary are magnificent. You may even have a personal connection to the estate. Grass-fed cattle are raised over the approximately 250,000 acres and are eventually sold to Whole Foods.

     On to San Francisco, Oracle Park and the Giants game...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Game Day #3, Angels Stadium

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     Monday started out in fine fashion with calling my (much) older brother to wish him a "Happy 80th Birthday!" He's working hard at reversing a declining health situation, and I'm so grateful for him and his efforts.
     We left the hotel late morning (yes, I got myself out of the magnificent bed) and headed for Huntington Beach. WOW, there are miles of really wide, beautiful, clean beach. I walked to the end of the pier on an ice cream quest. Ruby's Diner did not disappoint--probably the best malt I've ever had. I spent time watching the surfers and then a seal playing with a school of fish and enjoying the occasional one for brunch. I walked down the coast a bit, found a place to sit under the clearing skies, and enjoyed people-watching. Seeing all manner of diversity in our human family in one area makes my heart happy. Alas, I arrived at the volleyball nets just a bit too late to watch several quite handsome young men in action. 
     After a short break back at the hotel, the bus took us the short distance to Angel Stadium. 

     I was reluctant to think that any stadium could bump Kauffman (Royals) Stadium off my #2 best spot (Wrigley Field forever being #1), but this one did. It is beautiful! It has wide, open, airy concourses with excellent food and beer choices. The rock waterfall beyond center field is stunning. The digital scoreboard and video boards are quite gigantic and cool. We had good seats beyond third base, eight rows up. The only downside is that the Angels have not extended the protective netting past the dugouts, so we were in prime foul ball territory and had to really pay attention to the game. Of course, that's the point of being there. Once again, we saw several home runs, and the Pirates won 10-2. It was glorious to enjoy the evening's cool temperatures knowing that it had reached 100 degrees earlier in the day back home. 
     After a very short night's sleep, we are heading up the coast.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Game Day #2, Dodger Stadium

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     We left San Diego and drove straight to Dodger Stadium for the Sunday afternoon game against the Diamondbacks. On last year's tour, I became friends with fellow solo-traveler, David, who lives in LA, and he had arranged with Darren (our tour host) to get a ticket for this game to visit with Darren, Bobby (our other tour host) and me. As the bus pulled into the parking lot, I saw David sitting in the shade at the edge of the lot. Joyful reunion!

Me, David, Darren & Bobby

The Jackie Robinson statue in front of Dodger Stadium
     David did a fine job of touring me around the stadium. Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest major league ballpark behind Wrigley and Fenway. It looks it. The concourse is dark and small, ceilings are low, and unlike the newer parks, you can't walk all the way around. On each level, you can walk from right to left field around home plate, and that's it. David warned me, "If you see something you want to eat or drink, get it, because you may not find it on another level." There is a lovely view of the surrounding hills in the outfield. We had great seats in the shade just up from first base. There were numerous home runs and the Dodgers won 9-3. I will say that there did not appear to be many Dodger fans in our group. I made my preference well known by wearing a Cubs shirt.
     We left post-game for Anaheim and the Marriott Suites Hotel. Note to friends and family: I'm never leaving. The bed swallows you whole so that you never want to get out, and there is a Starbucks right in the hotel lobby. Plus I have a luxurious two-room suite. I think there is a pool, too, but I haven't been out of the bed long enough to find it.
     Another solo traveler and I went to the pizza joint across the parking lot and had a get-to-know-each-other supper. We are both rabid Cubs fans, she lives in downtown Chicago (my favorite city besides Wichita), and her sister lives about a half-mile from our home in Wichita. What are the chances? Meeting new folks is a great side benefit of these tours.
     OK, I'll get out of the bed for the Angels game.
         Ahhhhhhhhh, this is the life,

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Game Day #1, Petco Park

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     After lazing with coffee, reading and writing, Saturday got off to a great start with an Uber ride to the Little Italy Farmers' Market. It is many blocks long with vendors on both sides of the street. Besides magnificent fresh produce and flowers, there were vendors featuring jewelry, clothing, cosmetics, juices, and all manner of healthy and not-so-healthy food options. I can attest that the red raspberries are outstanding!

     I walked through Little Italy and seemingly dozens of cafes and restaurants to Ballast Point Brewing Company (whose beer we get in Wichita) and enjoyed an outdoor lunch of fish tacos and beer.
     I feel it is important to have some sort of routine while traveling, so I returned to the hotel for my afternoon nap, napping being a hobby to which I am extremely dedicated. 😀 At the appointed time, I met up with tour hosts Darren and Bobby to get my game tickets, a fun reunion. I eventually walked the couple of blocks to the stadium and roamed around. It's a lovely stadium. There is a huge grassy hill beyond center field where you can watch the game or a concert on the stage behind the left center field wall. There are cool statues of Tony Gwinn and Trevor Hoffman, as well as a Padres Hall of Fame. This stadium may have the broadest range of good beers of any ballpark I've been in so far, as there are dozens of micro-breweries in the area. I made my way to my seat, ten rows up from the field on the third base side. Nice!

I'm including the Eric Hosmer shots for Kansas City fans who are especially fond of him, including me.  The poster of Hos with the puppy is pure melt-down. It was a great game, lots of action and several home runs. The Padres won 8-5 over the Colorado Rockies.
     To use an official baseball term... HOLY COW!!! Watching the video board between innings, I thought "that looks like my Cubs shirt," and I looked up at the face and it was me! A nanosecond of my 15 minutes gone, how fun! I guess that means it pays to be in the "good" seats. That was a "first" for me and a great bonus on the first game day.
     On to Dodgers Stadium...

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Unlikely to Top This

(Note: FYI, the baseball vacation postings start with the Friday, Aug. 9 post.)
     It is such a joy to relax in the morning with coffee and spend time in a comfy hotel bed reading and writing.
     Friday's adventure started with an Uber ride to Balboa Park. I arrived a bit before 10:00 when the museums open, so I roamed a bit to get my bearings and look at sculptures. At 10:00 I went into the San Diego Museum of Art and had a lovely couple of hours exploring there. I consciously noticed the change in myself in the presence of great art--focused, peaceful, in a state of wonder that leaves any worldly cares drop away. I'm guessing that's why I love art museums so much. As no museum visit is complete to me without seeing a Monet, finally, in the last room, there was his "Haystacks at Chahilly."
     I roamed the grounds, seeing the Alcazar Garden and the Old Globe Theater. I settled into a seat on the Plaza de Panama with an iced coffee and a couple cookies to enjoy the surrounding flowers, magnificent sunny blue sky and perfect temperature. Next I went through the Timken Museum of Art, advertised as "always free." "Free" does not show up in a big city very often. That museum boasts the only Rembrandt in San Diego, "Saint Bartholomew."
     As I began roaming the park again, I heard live classical violin music so I decided to check out the source.

I watched them for about an hour and asked a lot of questions. These five children are siblings, ages left to right being 17, 15, 13, 9, 10. Instruments left to right are violin, viola, cello, small bass, violin. They have been playing together about seven years. They all started playing at ages 2-3. They play at the park 3-4 times a week. They played classical music and traditional fiddle tunes. Note there is no sheet music anywhere. When one piece ended, they started right in on the next one. They had a watering can set out for tips, along with a sign that said "Thank you for supporting our conservatory music lessons." These children are genius material. The passion they play with is extraordinary. I cried tears of joy and hope seeing and hearing their brilliance. I can't imagine anything on this trip, even as much as I love baseball, that can possibly top this performance, one that I just happened upon. As I've always said, "I lead a charmed life, especially when traveling."  
     I took an Uber back to my hotel. Fortunately I had a talkative driver with whom I could share the extraordinary musical performance I had just witnessed. I took my usual afternoon nap, then enjoyed a Happy Hour supper at Meze Greek Fusion, a restaurant I highly recommend. Not being a night owl, I roamed back through the Gaslamp District and got into baseball mode watching the Cubs game, alas, another road loss. 
     The tour officially begins with the Saturday evening Padres game at Petco Park.
            Play ball!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Let the Baseball Vacation Begin!

     On Thursday, I made my way to San Diego, where this year's California baseball tour begins ( Apparently the storms in the Wichita area delayed the Southwest Airlines flight into my home town, but I was still able to make my connection in Phoenix. The flights across the southwest were interesting, going from the rich, vibrant-green, rolling-prairie farmlands of Kansas to the desert lands of the southwest with loads of empty space, brown and mountains. Let me just say once again: our planet is magnificent in its diversity.
     I elected to come to San Diego a couple days before the actual start of the tour, because why not? It's August, and the high temps are mid-70s and the lows are mid-60s. Every day on the weather app says "Patchy fog then sunny." My flight was relatively on time, and my luggage arrived at baggage claim at the same time I did. Unlike last year's tiny bag, I brought the big one this year, because of flying on Southwest Airlines, which does not nickel-and-dime you to death (I love Southwest!).
     I can stress myself out with "what if?" and "how do I?" when I travel, so I promised myself to ask for help, a lot. I have learned that airports typically have a central location for Uber pickups, so I asked at the Information Desk and was directed to that spot, which I would have been most unlikely to find on my own. The Uber ride to the hotel gave me a good tour of the waterfront and the area around my hotel, the Hotel Indigo Gaslamp Quarter.
     I feel enormous gratitude for my smart phone and the knowledge to use it. I am staying in the midst of one of the most vibrant areas of San Diego, loaded with restaurants, bars, shops and people. Turning left from the hotel entrance enables me to look straight into Petco Park, the Padres stadium, two blocks away. I walked about 100 yards and ended up at Half Door Brewing Company for a lovely supper of shepherd's pie and their "Back At It West Coast IPA." Then I roamed a bit around the area and stadium, enjoying the cool evening (compared to high 90s and gross humidity of Kansas). The two-hour time difference finally did me in and I returned to the hotel.
     The tour officially begins on Saturday evening, so I have a couple of days to play around San Diego. Woohoo!
     Lovin' life and baseball,

Saturday, July 20, 2019

My New Favorite Bumper Sticker -or- Why I Have Given Up on Religion

      I love bumper stickers. Certainly many of them are mundane and forgettable, but occasionally I run across a gem. My favorite, up until recently, was "Against abortion? Don't have one." I appreciate the general theme that what another chooses to do is none of my business.
     My new favorite appeared within the last week, well worn on the back end of a pick-up truck. Fortunately we were detained at a traffic light long enough for me to see it clearly and remember it. Here you go:
I like your Christ.
I don't like your Christians.
They are so unlike your Christ.
      Before you freak out, send me hate comments or get defensive, I know plenty of fine folks who identify themselves as Christians who are quite Christ-like. 
     What I have no patience for is Christians complaining that they are being persecuted in a country built on freedom of religion. It appears to me that those Christians want the freedom for themselves, but not for anyone who looks or believes differently from them. Alas, freedom doesn't work that way. Also, supporting Trump and his racist and lying ways only makes the Christians referenced by the bumper sticker appear even more "unlike Christ." 
     I am not an atheist. I believe in a higher power. I have a very rich and satisfying spiritual life, thanks to over three decades of recovery in a 12-step program. I was raised in an ultra-conservative religious sect, have passed through several others, and even worked in a church office for six years. I can even state that the church office job was the best one I ever had--I loved it. I've made many good friends through my previous religious associations. But I can also state that in all my working years, the most abusive behavior ever directed at me was by a few "Christian" church members.
     I believe that Christ gave us an excellent example of how to live well. It is unfortunate to me that at this point in time, I would be uncomfortable being labeled as a Christian. And lastly, I want to throw in the gentle reminder that the United States is NOT a Christian nation. It is a very blessed nation where, at least for now, one can practice any religion (including none) that one so chooses. 
     No labels please,

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Personal Tribute to the MELT Method

     What's the MELT Method? At the bottom of this post is a description. If you are not familiar with MELT, please read that first.
     The MELT techniques for relieving Stuck Stress use assorted balls and a 36" roller to stimulate and rehydrate connective tissue. I have been consistently practicing MELT techniques on a daily basis for almost three years. It has helped to keep me active (golfing, lap swimming, walking, gardening, traveling, teaching yoga) and mostly pain-free, despite the fact that I have a hip that could be replaced at any time.
     Last Thursday in a moment of inattention, I missed a step down and wiped out on a cement sidewalk. My right ankle rolled and I landed on my left knee and the heel of my right hand, stopping my face about 3" from the cement. I flopped onto my right upper arm and rolled over on my back to assess the damage. Simultaneously I was feeling stupid (of course, I fell in front of a bunch of people), in pain, and wondering if anything was broken. After a few moments, I got myself up and headed home. The rest of the day was spent with one or more ice packs on swollen and bruised body parts.
     I am so grateful that I have stayed in shape enough to keep my bones so sturdy. Nothing was broken. The only treatment I had was ice, over-the-counter pain meds, and a chiropractor visit to straighten my slightly whiplashed neck. Here's where MELT comes in...
     My bounce-back from that nasty fall, the worst I have yet experienced, has been amazing. I attribute this in significant part to my daily MELTing. Yes, I have some very colorful bruises, a scabby knee, tender spots and a bit of stiffness in my sprained ankle. Those will pass in time. But the very next day after the fall, I was able to swim a half-mile. I continued periodic icing, but was able to resume normal activity. Two days after I was able to golf, gripping the club with a very bruised right hand. Three days after, I did my usual swim of 30 laps (36 laps = 1 mile). The bruises are disappearing fairly quickly. Those 20-30 minutes of MELTing self-care each day have proven themselves to be time very well spent. I'm hooked on MELT and plan to stay hooked.
      I'm 63. A fall like I experienced has put some folks my age in the hospital, even in a nursing home. I'm grateful I was not seriously hurt, and I am motivated to keep using the balls and roller every day.
      I'm MELTing, I'm MELTing!!!

** What is MELT?
MELT is all about the connective tissue which is a tissue that wraps around every single "thing" inside of us ~ every blood vessel, every bone, every muscle fiber, every organ, etc. Consequently, it is the most abundant tissue in the body. Because people don't know what connective tissue is, no one has learned how to take care of it. Diet and exercise do not address connective tissue.

The mere act of daily living (sitting for long periods, carrying kids or heavy bags, even the gentlest form of exercise) causes tension inside the body which results in the connective tissue becoming dehydrated. In MELT, we call this Stuck Stress. Stuck Stress is a stagnant "sediment" caused by excess waste in the body.

Connective tissue dehydration, or Stuck Stress, is a natural, cellular process happening to every single one of us, every single day regardless of age, activity level or diet. If you get out of bed in the morning or up from sitting for a long period of time and you feel stiff, you've experienced Stuck Stress.

The simple, gentle compression and lengthening techniques of MELT yields great results to help you get and stay out of pain by reducing Stuck Stress.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pet Peeve, Great Read

     Because it is so easy to become completely depressed over the mess the current administration has made of most everything, I'm having a need to write about something completely trivial, a first-world problem, a pet peeve of mine.
     The subject pet peeve is the placing of signs apologizing for a problem rather than fixing the problem. One example of this is on Interstate 70 around Limon, Colorado. There are several signs indicating "Road Damage Ahead." Fix the road! Granted, the signs are cheaper than the repairs, but the signs do nothing to improve the situation. Another example is at the YMCA branch I use regularly. Yesterday there were numerous signs apologizing for the excess warmth in the women's locker room. I don't care if the powers-that-be feel bad about it or not. Fix the problem!
     I think I'm going to make up a bunch of signs for around my house: "I apologize for the fact that this room is dirty." Then I won't have to clean anymore!!!!!

     Moving on, I highly recommend the book, Becoming, by Michelle Obama. It is very well written and easy to read. It's a look into a world that is foreign to many of us: her growing up in South Side Chicago; her courtship, marriage and family development with Barack; and what it's like to campaign, then live in the White House as the First Family. The story of Barack proposing to Michelle is especially delightful.
     I apologize for not writing any more right now. 😛

Monday, June 3, 2019

Joy, Post 4

     This was my last morning (Saturday) for Dusty snuggling and belly rubs, as his peeps return today from NOLA. As soon as they arrive, it will be "Grandma who?" for Dusty.
     The band stayed at the Laporte house overnight, and Dennis started Saturday off well with a Starbucks coffee for me (visiting our younger son who works there) and a walk for Dusty. Dennis fixed us a lovely breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and biscuits, yummy good.
     I headed just before noon to the Denver airport to retrieve my older son and his partner, back from a fun trip to NOLA. Driving on I-25 between Denver and Fort Collins is what I refer to as "running the gauntlet," so it's always a relieved joy to conquer it safely. It was so fun to hear about their adventures and to report that their doggie was a very good boy for me. It brings me great joy to see how caring and loving they are with each other.
     On Saturday evening, the sons, their girls and I went out to the favorite Mexican restaurant in Fort Collins to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our younger son's arrival on the planet. I love these kids more than life itself, so "joy" doesn't quite cut it to describe how I relish being with all of them. I love listening to their banter, teasing, adventures, trials, dreams and silliness.
     Sunday dawned an absolutely glorious Colorado day. Son Derek and I took Dusty on a long walk that included Dusty catching the frisbee and swimming in the Poudre River for stick-retrieval. I think that 8-year-old pup would keep retrieving till his legs wouldn't even hold him up anymore. For a golden retriever, fetching is pure joy, and his love is infectious.
     Since we couldn't get a tee time to golf, Derek and I just hung out for a few hours and talked. There are few greater joys for me than the conversations we have, covering a huge range of subjects and going down deep on many. It feels like we know each other better than I ever knew my parents. That pleases me so much.
     Derek's love was on the job at Whole Foods, so we went there to visit her and for a late lunch and beers. Yes, in radically-ingenious Colorado, the Whole Foods has a tap room, and you can buy a delicious meal from their many food bars and enjoy it with a beer there.
     In another example of joyful synchronicity, the sons are starting their own business, and Mom, who has been doing tax prep work for several years, has plenty of knowledge regarding businesses and taxes. So our ride to the Denver airport was an interesting Q&A about that.
     My flight back to Wichita was delayed due to storms, but I did get home safely, albeit two hours late. I had the forethought before I left to wash my bedding, so the final joy of this trip was crawling into my own clean bed for a lovely night's sleep.
     I hope these four "Joy" posts have inspired you to consciously recognize those times, often "ordinary" life-stuff, that ignite your joy flame. The more we notice, the better life gets.
     Joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart,

Friday, May 31, 2019

Joy, Post 3

     The Raptors won NBA Finals game one, and Fred VanVleet, a former star at hometown Wichita State University, was great. Woohoo!
     I again awoke to snuggle time with Dusty, who loves the simple belly-rub. When I read a randomly picked inspiration from Science of Mind magazine, the affirmation was "I greet each new day with eagerness for another opportunity for joy." Amen!
     I joyfully report that my neck/shoulder ache is considerably better. Thank goodness it did not interfere with swimming, as I was able to swim a mile this morning. Swimming is pure joy for me.
    As I was driving into Fort Collins, I passed a garden center, and the sign said, "You know you make me want to sprout." Joyful giggle.
     One of my culinary treats in Fort Collins is Culver's. So after swimming a mile, I felt fully justified in having a butter burger and malt. Yum!
     In a rare move, I cooked a spaghetti and meatball supper for my husband's band, who arrived at supper time for a gig at the Swing Station. It's a bar about a hundred yards down the street from our son's house in Laporte. Younger son and girlfriend joined us for supper too, and gave me a dog-walking break by taking Dusty out while I did the dishes. Feeding folks and now having a clean kitchen are joys to me.
     I am reading and really loving "Becoming" by Michelle Obama. She wrote a paragraph about her mother's extensive annual spring cleaning and finished off the paragraph with this: "It's because of my mother that still to this day I catch the scent of Pine-Sol and automatically feel better about life." How joyful is that!
     Friday finished off with seeing my husband's band, The Haymakers, playing at the Swing Station. Lots of our sons' friends came out, and it was great fun.
     Blessings of safe travels, good friends and family together, good food, good times, life is a joy!
     More joy to come...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Joy, Post 2

      Probably the thing that Dusty and I are both pros at is napping. So after Wednesday's lovely afternoon nap, I met up with my younger son, his girlfriend, her 6-year-old daughter, and the girlfriend's parents at O'Dell's Tap Room for a beer and a sit on the patio in the glorious sunshine. It was the 6-year-old's last day of kindergarten, a big and joyful milestone. It was a rare event and quite a treat to be with this son's whole family.
     I came back to the house, took Dusty on another walk, and settled in to watch the Cubs finally win one after a several-game losing streak. I was asleep much earlier than the previous night and slept very well.
     Joy hit a rough spot when I woke Thursday morning and moved. I was stunned by shooting pain in my neck and left shoulder. This is an area that annoys me occasionally, but there was no hint of this coming when I went to bed. I worked to resurface my joy with the mantra, "this, too, shall pass." I believe it's a result of the strong doggie pulling me on the leash, just more muscles out of practice that will adapt.
     Despite the irritation, I took Dusty on two short morning walks. It's another beautiful sunny day. (I'd note here that I had come from Wichita where we've had record-setting rain in May with very little sunshine, so sunshine itself is a joy.) Otherwise, I spent the morning reading a good book, a luxury I seldom give myself, though I'm not sure why.
     I met the same crew from O'Dell's for lunch, before the parents left to return to Nebraska and before the 6-year-old went to her dad's house for a few days. I asked my younger son if he would come and walk Dusty with me, so that he could hold him and give my shoulder and neck a break. He agreed.
     Colorado has some stores which sell products that offer mighty-fine pain relief. For the first time, I went to one of those stores all by myself. (For me, the overwhelming number of options and my lack of knowledge can be quite intimidating.) I got a pain-relief cream and had a lively discussion with my service person who is, unfortunately, a White Sox fan. Our discussion resulted from my Cubs t-shirt, always proudly worn. I was joyfully satisfied walking to the car for having done it "all by myself."
     I got home right at nap-time, and Dusty and I continued to perfect our skills at napping. My younger son came over late afternoon, and we went on a walk with Dusty, including a stop at the schoolyard for ball-chasing and stroll along the Poudre River. My son handled the dog, giving my body a break. I told my son what a joy it is for me to have time alone with him to talk and catch-up. He's at a point of new adventures in his life, and I am so happy for his ability to create a great future. He's also about to turn 30, and I am overjoyed at the wonderful life he has made for himself in Colorado.
     So it's evening. Dusty is sacked out from the walk and ball-chasing. The NBA finals start tonight. I'm a big Raptors fan. So you know what I'll be doing tonight.
     More joy to come...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Joy, Post 1

     Back in March a dear friend and I traveled to Oklahoma City to see Rob Bell's "Introduction to Joy" show.  He is still on tour with this event, so if you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.
     The gist of the show is that joy is found in nearly every moment if we are present to it. Being present is the key.
     I am currently on a grand-dog sitting vacation in Colorado. Dusty is my son's dog who stayed with us for 11 months last year while Derek was off on his Australian adventure. Just being with Dusty is pure joy to me. This dog-sitting adventure began last evening (Tuesday). I am committing to seeing those moments of joy and sharing them along the way. Here are the starters...
     I am dog-sitting because my son and partner are away on a trip. They left Denver Tuesday morning and left their CRV in the west economy lot for me to pick up after my Tuesday evening flight. The key was in a magnetic box hidden in the wheel-well. My flight was great, even landing 20 minutes early. I made my way through the airport in the general direction of ground transportation, eventually looking so confused that two security officers asked me what I was searching for. They directed me to the shuttle for the parking lot. Despite the long, winding walk, I found the bus. I did not, however, find much joy in the weather--40 degrees, windy and raining. Thank goodness I was wearing a hoodie.
     The bus driver had only one passenger, me. I told him the vehicle I was looking for, and the row and section of the west economy lot where the CRV was parked. Instead of just dropping me off in the general vicinity, he drove me around until we found the vehicle. What an angel! What joy, for finding the vehicle was the part of the trip I was most stressed about, multiplied by the yucky weather. I reached my hand into the appointed hiding place and landed right on the key box, no searching necessary. Hallelujah, to be inside the vehicle and out of the rain. Joyful relief!
     The hour-plus drive to Dusty's house went fine despite the rain. Given that his people had left him earlier in the day, and he had been alone for a few hours, Dusty was quite happy to see me. He gave me the paws-on-shoulders hug of greeting that I love so dearly. Big joy!
     I got settled in, texted the family regarding my safe arrival, and climbed into bed, with Dusty taking his (large, he's a Golden Retriever) space mid-bed. Both of us slept well. When I woke up, he crawled up to me and put his head on my belly for petting time. Speaking of joy!

     Dusty and I went out for a walk, a beautiful, cool, sunshiny morning. We ended up not on the usual route as it was time for kids to be arriving at school, and there were too many people and too much traffic for an excitable and exceedingly friendly dog. We did, however, have a lovely encounter with an older gentleman who is a crossing guard. There are a lot of dogs walked around this area of Laporte, and he carries a pocket-full of treats ("cookies") for the dogs. Dusty had him pegged. Treat received. Joy for both Dusty and me!
     Back at the house, I talked with my son to ask a few questions that hadn't already been covered. I learned the awesome news that he got the part-time job he really wanted, starting mid-June. More joy! 
     After a shower and clean clothes, I walked down the street to Me Oh My Pie, a bakery and cafe in Laporte that I have passed many times but hadn't yet visited. Oooooo, biscuits and gravy on the menu. Dare I? I'm very picky about this dish, because my husband makes the world's best. I went for it. It was great! It's a very cute place, convenient, yet another joy-spot in my day. 
     Now, Dusty and I are hanging, soon time for another walk. Life is good. 
     More joy to come...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

I Have My Garden Back!

     For years, at least five, the neighbor's fence directly behind our house has been falling down, mostly on my garden. It was only a couple of shrubs on our side of the fence that held it up, sort of. The falling, rotten fence also revealed the neighbor's dump of a back yard--all weeds, rotting play set, discarded mattress, you name it. Needless to say, there was no reason for me to enjoy being in our backyard, so my interest in gardening languished, and I did only the bare minimum.
     I have no idea what finally initiated the fence replacement, but it was completed several weeks ago, and we no longer have to look at their dump. Hallelujah! I had turned several areas of garden plots back to lawn over the years, due to too much shade for vegetable gardening, and it being more than I wanted to care for as I got older and also as I travel more. So now I have a manageable size garden that I want to play in.
     Alas, doing only the bare minimum has left me with many projects. A couple of landscape timbers edging the big backyard bed had rotted. I replaced those today, which included drilling holes for re-bar to hold them in place. Yes, I can still operate a drill. The drought of a couple winters ago killed both of my huge double-knockout rose shrubs, and those had to be dug out, no small challenge, but also "mission accomplished." Because of extensive tree-trimming we had done last fall, I now have enough sun again to grow herbs in my herb garden, and I planted a half-dozen varieties there this morning. I also planted peonies, ornamental grasses and a giant hosta.
     Multiple projects remain. Those include ongoing lawn restoration, weeding, debris (limbs, rotted lumber) removal, and several empty spots to plant, naturally, my favorite thing to do. It's time to get my fountain going again. I have a lot of nice rock with which I can do something creative.
     I am so excited to look out on the backyard with joy rather than disgust. My muscles ache with the pleasure of hands-in-the-dirt, manual-labor efforts. I'm good about pacing myself, knowing that it will all get done eventually. And for the first time in years, I want to go hang out in the backyard and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Friday, April 26, 2019


     Do you like surprises? I love them. Of course, I'm not talking about the "you've got cancer" sort of surprise. I don't think anyone likes that sort of thing sprung on them.
     Our older son's partner, Caila, also likes surprises, and arranged this past weekend for Dennis and I to surprise Derek for his birthday on Sunday. On Saturday, Derek called me, and the conversation eventually meandered to him asking when we were coming out to see him, saying he could sure use some "mom and dad time." It does make one feel good when a 30-something offspring still yearns for some "mom and dad time." I had to tell him I didn't know for sure when we'd get out there again, knowing full well I'd see him in less than 24 hours. What fun!
     We drove to Colorado on Sunday, and via texting with Caila, agreed to meet up at the Crown Pub. Derek was seated with his back to the door, talking with Caila. I walked up behind him, put my hands over his eyes and started singing "Happy Birthday" in his ear. He was thrilled, especially when he saw that both Mom and Dad had joined in the surprise adventure. Thus began a fantastic visit, wherein Derek must have thanked us 50 times for coming to Fort Collins and surprising him.   
     I have noted in my lengthy marriage that my husband does not care for surprises being sprung on him, and that has made him unlikely to surprise me. I've learned to be OK with that. I don't have to plan surprise birthday parties for him, and I don't expect them for myself. The occasional surprises we do plan for each other have been great fun, probably because they are so rare. We joke that if he ever surprises me with flowers, I'll know he did something REALLY bad, as he is not at all the flower-giving sort of guy.
     Bringing joy and delight to another is part of the fun of living. The couple of weeks leading up to  Derek's surprise were full of planning and excited anticipation. Is there some way you can delight someone in a joyful way? Little surprises are just as fun as big ones.
     Life is good!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Full Circle

     This is a story of my life as an addict, a food addict to be specific and name my substance of choice. I came by the addiction "honestly," as I was raised in an addictive household by a mother who was, herself, a food addict. I spent all of my elementary and secondary school days in a very obese state, and was the brunt of much cruelty as a result.
     Assorted diets offered me varying success over the years, depending on my motivation. I have lost literally hundreds of pounds in my life. I have weighed as much as 100 pounds more than I do now. No method of self-abuse with food surprises me. I've probably done 'em all.
     One thing about food addicts--we have an extreme love-hate relationship with food. Food was my best friend from an early age. It calmed me down, enabled me to stuff down feelings, and thereby get through each day of craziness. Truly it was my survival mechanism growing up. It's not a good idea to try and come between a food addict and her food. Just so you know, commenting about what a food addict is eating puts one in a very precarious position. Even a questioning look at an addict's full plate can set her off. It's a very volatile situation, dealing with an addict. Such was my early married life, and my poor husband never knew what he was faced with as I tried without success to control my eating behaviors. 
     The catalyst for change was the birth of our first child. I gained 50 pounds during the pregnancy with unbridled eating, and much to my surprise, I did not have a 50-pound baby. I was rapidly becoming aware that food and excess weight were symptoms of the problem, not the core issue. Then a friend of mine talked with me about his addictive behavior with food. I was stunned to learn that there was someone else on the planet that was as nuts about and with food as I was. He also offered a solution, which I latched onto like a drowning person grabbing a life preserver. I was committed not to pass addiction on to yet another generation.
     Fast-forward through three decades plus of recovery from compulsive eating. The efforts involved in recovery are totally worth it, as they have enabled me to create a great life and have great relationships with people, rather than with food. My most important relationship, with my husband, is what brings me to the "full circle" focus of this post.
     My husband was telling me recently about a friend who is a great cook, but his wife doesn't much care for food in general, or for his fine cooking. My husband said, "I'm so glad you love food and continue to enjoy my cooking." It would be way less fun for him to make his many wonderful dishes if I didn't much care about them. Instead, I love them, and I truly appreciate his efforts. 
     Lastly, to follow up on the previous post, I was successful, in huge part due to my husband's supportive cooking efforts, to not only keep my weight steady during tax season, but to actually lose a few pounds. Unlike the previous three tax seasons, I feel great physically, and I'm so glad I don't need to lose the "tax season 10."
     Food addiction--blessing or curse? It's been both for me, but the full circle is one that is mostly filled with blessings.
     Grateful for the journey,

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Random Thoughts

     We are 2/3 of the way through tax season, four weeks to go. While the six-day-a-week grind of getting up very early to get to work (with possibly a lap-swim workout before) is getting old, I'm still digging the mental challenge, and happily making lots of overtime pay. I keep going by regularly reminding myself of all the fun I'm going to have the rest of the year with the funds I've made doing taxes.
     I did take a break last weekend to visit my sons in Fort Collins. I drove there Saturday and returned Monday. I had a great time and a much-needed mental break.
     One of my biggest challenges in life has been to let go of my kids. They are quite successful adults and have their own lives. I do pretty well when I am away from them--I don't call a lot and I try hard not to be pushy or nosy. I think they would say that I do OK not being nosy. On this most recent visit, however, I feel I overstepped my "mom boundaries." No details are necessary here, but it left me feeling not quite right, and I made amends and apologized. As usual, it was a bigger deal to me than to them. Because I miss the sons so much, it's really hard when I get to be with them not to go into excess-mom-mode. 
     The other challenge is that it is a 9-10 hour drive to get to Fort Collins from Wichita. While I can do it myself, and have done it many times, it's not my favorite thing to do. That long drive home after a great visit is really a downer. Flying would take almost as much time and create additional inconveniences for the sons. I know options and solutions will develop over time. We shall see...
     Back to tax season... I committed this year not to gain the "tax season 10," weight I had put on in previous years due to stress-eating. My husband is supporting me tremendously in this effort by cooking lots of healthy food for my lunches and dinners. I've also avoided eating out at lunch, which was a big contributing factor to the weight gain. So far so good--I've stayed steady at my starting weight, and I feel so much better than in tax-seasons past. I keep reminding myself that this is not just for tax season, that this is how I want to eat for life. Occasionally my sweet-tooth gets a bit too wound up, and I've noticed that more sugar in my diet makes for more aches in my body. It's a good connection to make, because the hurting is not worth the sweet treats.
      Lastly, oh joy, Opening Day of baseball season is March 28. As John Fogerty wrote in "Centerfield," "We're born again, there's new grass on the field." I already have tickets to the Cubs-Rockies game in Denver, and I have a spot reserved in the California five-stadium baseball tour. Go, Cubs!!!!
      Thanks for reading my random thoughts,