I love being a woman.

I’m a woman who has experience being a wife, a mom, a student, a teacher, and a degreed business professional. I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. and have been to Europe, too, but am greatly fond of western Michigan and its beaches, and the entire Midwest region. My journey is relative to my time, of course. I’m a straight-laced conservative when it comes to education and career, yet a child of the 60’s; a hippie you might say, when it comes to enjoying life. It’s been quite a ride!

My favorite things are my grown children, Ashlee and Krystal, my Colonel hubby, Scott (retired from the military after nearly 30 years but continues to work a civilian job), my mother, Kathy (a pioneer for women who worked in the factory at General Motors from the early 60’s until retirement 27 years later – but who is first and foremost a gentle woman with a strong soul and my forever role model), my pets (Japanese Chin dogs Jake and Lucy, and my kitties, Bliss and Salem), beaches, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and other nature. I might seem complicated at times but truly love the simple things.

My little place in the world, that’s my blog. I’ll be sharing my thoughts about my life, my family, my pets, my job, and how I view the world. I hope you enjoy my stories, my sense of humor, and my insight. This is a chance for us to share that cup of coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon, and reach across the miles that might separate us, and gather close together to catch our breath and a laugh or two. Life is busy. And so are we! So let’s dive in together. And smell the roses, too.

Thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin - the Spice of fall!

Am loving the fall weather, and today was mid 70's in southern Indiana. Hubby and I took Mom (who is visiting from Michigan) to Bridgefest today, which is a celebration of autumn in and around the covered bridges area (southern Indiana boasts several covered bridges in close proximity in one region), and vendors and people congregate to eat, drink, and buy lots of inexpensive stuff.

This festival is ten days long, today being the second day, and we went to the largest festival area. It was bumper to bumper traffic as we neared Raccoon Lake area and took about twenty minutes or so to go the last few miles and park. We parked across from the opening of the festival and it was $7. The good news is that everything is so CHEAPLY priced that the $7 is probably the most we spent on anything.

My favorite "bargains" were crystals for beading and deals on scarves. And picked up signs that say, "Premises protected by Chihuahua Safety Co" for the girls and "Japanese Chin" for us.

Most of the vendors are from the "Shipshewanna" fame, and many Amish were selling craft items and foods. We sampled the supposedly "homemade" fried pies, and although the marketing stated the filling was "homemade," it was obvious that the filling of the pies came from a can. Maybe the can states "homemade?" Not sure, but not enticed to buy a fry pie!

We did enjoy lunch, and Mom and I split some fried catfish with spicy sauce (sans the bun)and Scott enjoyed a Gyro, though he said it was okay but not as tasty as the ones at George's in Chesterton. We split some pumpkin ice cream and it was really good! Pumpkin is the taste of fall! Apples and cinnamon, too.

It was great being outside all day especially in the nice weather, and the leaves are on fire this week; fall color at its peak! Autumn leaves and carny food wafted in the fresh air, and we walked and walked through crowds of people, but so crowded that we didn't even make it through half the fest. I took some pictures and will post one soon. We passed three darling Amish kids with plain little brown outfits like pilgrims, wearing sporty little hats holding hands and running, all smiles. The Amish adults smiled  too as we commented how darling their children were.

Amish sure enjoy festivals, we see them at every festival around here. They even closed up their store in Freedom to celebrate Apple Butter Fest a few weeks back. Party, party, and bake a pie; that's the Amish!

By the time we got to the bridge, there were so many people trying to cross that we just decided it was time to leave the festival. They say "three's a crowd," but try hundreds; scads of people with carts of goods, packed baby strollers (some even with babies!), and some people on rascals, too, phew!  Just let me outa' there! 

So, we went, we saw, we tasted pumpkin, bought some crafts and stuff, and left around 230pm. Next year we'll try going during the week.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Love is Never About Money

Just a quick note to say thanks so much for your support and for holding my daughter and her chihuahua in the light during these past few weeks.

As you might be aware, Krystal's chihuahua was savagely mauled by a stray pitbull the weekend of August 17th. My daughter made a police report but the police haven't really done anything and don't seem to think the pitbull can be located. So, my daughter must incur several thousand dollars of medical bills for her little 4 pound dog. The attack was completely unprovoked. In hindsight, we are fortunate that my daughter was unharmed. Had Blondie not been targeted, the pitbull could have attacked Krystal.

Instead, the putbull snatched Blondie, and the little dog screamed in agony as the pitbull clamped down on her entire body, resulting in all ribs on her right side being broken, and a deep gash ripping her open from chest all the way around her right side, up to the middle of her back; if you saw her, she appeared to be nearly chewed in two! Luckily, a flap of skin remained over her lungs to allow them to function.
Krystal's friends wrestled the little dog away from the pitbull, Krystal grabbed her beach towel and wrapped it around the dog, jumping in the car and she and her friend sped away to the Purdue ER in Westville, Indiana, a good 40 minutes or so away from Stark County where the incident happened. Krystal called her sister, Ashlee, asking for guidance, and Ashlee said, "Head for Purdue ER full speed! That's all you can do, keep going!" 
When Krystal got Blondie to the vet emergency, the ER vet thought the chihuahua would arrest at any time, and didn't give much hope.

I am so thankful my husband I were traveling from Michigan, and just an hour away when I got the frantic call from Krystal. She was at the Purdue ER vet hospital in Westville, Indiana (had Scott and I been home in southern Indiana, we would have been 4 hours or more away). My daughter said she didn't know what to do since she didn't have any money with her and I told her we would be right there.

Upon arrival, Scott sat in the car with our dogs, Jake and Lucy, and we didn't know at that time it would be about a 2-hour wait in the car. I went in and sat with Krystal in a small examination office. Krystal collapsed on me in tears, and I held my daughter and prayed aloud for God to please save Blondie. The vet came in and the look on her face was dismal. She said "It's very bad,"  and that Blondie "could arrest at any time." In addition, from the shaking that the pitbull did to the chihuahua, there was concern over possible injuries to the dog's spinal cord and brain. The vet said that the surgery would be in the $3,500 range. Krystal is not one to ask for money. She understands how hard it is to work for it, and how difficult it can be to pay bills for rent, food, gas, and other living expenses. I'm certain that when she called me she probably figured around $500 since we have taken pets to the Purdue ER before. But I'm sure she didn't realize it could be thousands. She continued to softly cry but said nothing.
Even though it was a lot of money, Krystal was so grief stricken and I asked the vet to please save the dog. At that point, I had no idea that the bill would triple in the next two weeks. Krystal's friend, Jaclyn, who works for Krystal's regular vet stated that she has seen dogs with fewer injuries pass away from their trauma and injuries. And another friend, Carol, whose husband has been a vet for more than three decades, and who has worked side-by-side with her husband in his office and has seen many injuries over the years, told me that if the dog makes it through surgery, we shouldn't get too hopeful for another week since anything can happen in the first week.

The ER team stabilized Blondie (who even though severely injured, tried to stand on the examining table when brought in). Further complications included that Blondie was covered in mud, since Krystal and the dog were with friends at a lake, and they wrestled the tiny dog from the pitbull in the muddy area of the lake.

The surgery began at 3am Sunday morning and took two hours. The surgical team said Blondie did remarkable well, tolerating the anesthesia and surgery. Krystal and our family held our breath waiting to hear any news. Krystal went up to see her dog Sunday afternoon, and as Blondie lay there, eyes closed and with tubes sticking out of her, Krystal continued to be emotional, and because of the trauma of what had occurred the evening before, continued to relive the horror of the pitbull grabbing and clamping its jaws around Blondie, and Blondie's high pitched screams in agony as Krystal tried to retrieve the little chihuahua.

But Blondie is a survivor. She is a miracle. She has the heart of a lion in that tiny little body, and determined to go the distance!

My daughter Ashlee has three chihuahuas, and is active in the NW Indiana Chihuahua Rescue organization.Krystal just has Blondie. And while Ashlee's little dogs are sweet and fun, they are not very active. But Blondie is different; she has always had energy! And no joint problems that little dogs can be prone to. She can leap from floor to bed, and loves her walks! She has been in amazingly "fit" condition for a little dog! This might be one thing that helped her endure the tragedy that occurred.

After surgery, the vet team was concerned that Blondie lost use of her right leg, since trauma was so close to the muscle. And during the first week, Blondie's red blood cell count fell so low that she nearly needed a blood transfusion. By Thursday evening, the Purdue team in Westville had Krystal transport Blondie to the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Indiana (also Krystal's Alma mater, and home of the best veterinarian school and hospital in the United States).
An additional surgery was done on Friday, August 24, to remove dead skin and have a more skilled and board certified veterinarian correct issues and infection in Blondie's chest cavity, and get close to the leg muscle. Again, Blondie did incredibly well. I drove to Purdue that Saturday to meet Krystal in West Lafayette, which is nearly 2 hours north for me, and 90 minutes south for her; both of us traveling many miles for the promise of a 20-minute visit with the dog, since this particular vet hospital is unable to accommodate longer visits. They brought Blondie to us wrapped in a pretty decorated lavender "body cast," and Blondie as always was happy to Krystal; her eyes lit up! Also that day, the vet put Blondie down and we saw Blondie limping on her right leg and trying to use it. On Sunday, Krystal drove the long commute back and forth to the vet hospital to visit with her little dog again, wanting to keep Blondie motivated to keep going and get well!
Pictured above is Blondie on Krystal's lap in her lavender "body cast" on August 24.
We were pleasantly surprised when Blondie was released to go home on Monday evening already, and was scheduled to return that Thursday for more blood tests to investigate the anemia issue that was not getting worse but still a serious concern.

Later that week, vets did more blood tests. Blondie's anemia continued and the vets narrowed it down to either a transmission of a disease that some pitbulls carry that causes it, or perhaps a reaction from Blondie's meds and steroids. Either way, it's a serious and life-threatening condition. The tests revealed it was not the illness carried by pitbulls. So now, Blondie continues to recover, and is on special medicine to attempt to correct the anemia.

Today, Blondie is so HAPPY to be home! Krystal spent the Labor Day weekend caring for her little dog, and although Blondie is not allowed yet to walk too much or run around, Krystal reports that Blondie wants to get active again, and that Krystal has to contain her in a little pen so she can continue to rest and recover gradually. Oh, and Blondie is using that right leg really well now!

This is truly a little dog who loves her master more than life! And we continue to pray for her blood issues to resolve, but it could be weeks! Please help us pray for this little "Wonder" Dog, also known as the Miracle Chihuahua. I am so grateful to my kind and loving friends who have sent me emails and text messages; one that made me especially smile was my friend Madalene, who is of Mexican descent and who said, 'We Mexicans are tough!" I love that! Thanks Madalene.

Special thanks to family and friends who gave from the heart by way of support and donations: Thanks to Aunt Patty in Florida for her very generous donation! Thanks also to my friends Marilyn and Mike from Georgia who are extreme dog lovers for their donation! Thanks to my good friend Margaret and her hubby Jeff who gave a generous donation! (Margaret is my best friend in the greater Bloomington area). Thanks to my great friend, Donna (and her poodle, Ginger who I think is half human most of the time), in Grand Rapids who not only made a generous donation but who posted the weblink on her FB site to her dog lover friends. Thanks to my mom, Kathryn, who is so dedicated to her grandchildren and often puts the needs of others before her own, and who made a very generous donation, and mom's special friend, Joe, who is a very caring and generous person, and who gave a hefty donation, too. Thanks to our friends, the Daly's for their donation. And thanks to friends Cheryl, Laura, Carol, Madalene, and Peter who sent uplifting text messages and emails expressing support! I'm also thankful for two courageous daughters, Ashlee, who continues to be a role model of strength to Krystal, and for taking her lunch hours during the week to hold Blondie in the critical care unit of the Purdue animal hospital, and for Krystal, who continues to show unconditional love for her little dog.
And, so grateful to live in the state of Indiana, where we are fortunate to have the finest veterinarians in the United States, especially in the Purdue network, where many gifted veterinarians are educated and trained.
I must say, I could not imagine the extent of Blondie's injuries since I did not see her mauled body. The first glimpse I got of Blondie's injuries were in the week after surgery, when I received a photo of her stitched up body via cell phone from Krystal's friend, Jaclyn. Jaclyn took photos of the "damage" just in the rare chance that we do find the pitbull and its owners, to document what the pitbull did to Blondie. The photo I received of Blondie's right side was horrifying. I cannot even imagine what my daughter went through. Krystal witnessed it all; the trauma of the attack, Blondie's agonizing high pitched screaming, the feeling of urgency and helplessness as she and friends tried wrestling the chihuahua from the pitbull's jaws, and the bloody, muddy, and damaged body of her little dog that she wrapped up in the beach towel. And Blondie's eyes quietly searching her own as her friend drove the long trip to the Purdue emergency hospital that evening.
I have had a few people chastise me for trying to save the dog because it has been so costly. I even had one coworker tell me that she made the "mistake" of trying to save her dog once and the dog died anyway, even though her story didn't even sound remotely like this situation. But -- to those people --  I say, please know that there are things that rise above money -- one involves principle -- and the greatest of all involve love.
Yes, I am so glad that Blondie is recovery well because we all love the dog.  But in addition, the thought of my daughter having to endure the grief and pain of thinking that she was responsible for her beloved dog's suffering (and potential demise), then this is too much for my child to have to bear. No mother wants her child to suffer; life is hard enough without adding guilt. Guilt brings depression and that ruins lives. For this, we continue to try to bring Blondie back to 100%, so that even though the memories of the mauling are painful for Krystal, those bad memories will fade over time, and that we do what we can to bring Blondie back to being her old self again, and ease the grief that Krystal has experienced over the tragedy. Love is never about money.
Krystal is one of the finest people I have ever met, and is kind, honest, and fair to everyone she meets. Krystal is happy even with few material things and rarely ever asks me for anything. Krystal works hard and is self-sufficient. For quite a while, she held down her FT job during the week and a PT one on the weekends. Currently, she is pursuing her master's degree at her own expense. I am so proud of my daughter, Krystal. She deserves all good things, especially a clear conscience.
Below is the donation weblink for those who would like to contribute or pass it along, and also, a picture of Blondie recouping at home on the couch, her favorite place to hang with her fellow chihuahuas, from left to right, Mouse, Bebe, Blondie (in protective pen, center), and Armani.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Ahead!

Here we are, on the cusp of spring, and today marks one of the most baffling rituals of spring -- the spring ahead weekend.
In the wee hours of Sunday at 2am, we'll have to set our clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time. Never mind that history has shown that this routine leaves many of us groggy; our physiological clocks disturbed, tired, and confused by the sound of a seemingly early alarm clock, not to mention the challenges it creates for medical devices, travel plans, meetings, heavy equipment, and those states that do not have such an archaic system in place, such as Arizona.

And living in Indiana presents its own challenges, since parts of the state are on Eastern standard time while other parts are on Central Standard time. This was especially grueling to me when my children were going to school at Purdue in West Lafayette (where they do not change the clocks) while I was living in NW Indiana, where clocks were set ahead. "What time can I call you?" I would ask to which one of my daughter's might reply, "I get out of class at 3," and 'What time is it there now?" I might add. Purdue was on the same time as NW Indiana for 6 months out of the year, but if you wanted to interact with anyone there, you had to really do some figuring to make sure you called at the right time!

According to Wikipedia, daylight savings time was implemented during the First World War to allow outdoor activities later in the evening, and to save on incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of lighting. This isn't the case today. So why do we continue to put ourselves through this?

But without arguing for or against daylight savings time and the "spring ahead" and "fall back" that irritates many and throws us off our natural schedules, wouldn't it be easier and compromising just to split the difference and call it a day? How would we do that? Simple. Why don't we just spring ahead 30 minutes and leave the clock alone -- permanently? Would 30 minutes either way really be an inconvenience for anyone?

Well, I can say one thing about daylight savings time; if nothing else, it gives us something to blog about. (:

Nighty night, sleep tight. And don't be surprised if you wake up and feel out of sorts with your clock.  You'll be fine after a week or so . . . Peace.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year

Happy February 29!

But do we really need an extra day in February? Wouldn't an extra summer or fall day be more appealing to everyone; say June 31 or September 31?

Let's please remember this when we're updating the Gregorian calendar.

Apparently, according to Wikipedia, a year that doesn't contain this extra day is referred to as a "common year," and if Hallmark gets wind of this information, I'll bet we'll start having Leap Year cards to celebrate the uncommon year, and maybe even Leap Year dinners, dances, and other festivities.

Let's see, we could do a Leap Year dance, and decorate with frogs a leaping, green cakes, and green punch for the green frog color. But would that be too much green so close to St. Paddy's Day? What other color could Leap Year Day be?

Maybe we have Look Before You Leap Activities, and for some odd reason, a Court Jester comes to mind as a Leap Year Mascot: So we could blindfold the Leap Year fool (each game participant would take a turn at this), and let them stumble through an obstacle course. Or just leave the blindfold off, and let them throw the dice to see how many paces they have to take before they "leap," and this could be off a box into jello or maybe into a swimming pool; you know, something "safe." Okay, too goofy.

One fun and safe activity would be to calculate how many Leap Year days you've actually lived through; just divide your age this year by four.

And doesn't it seem ironic that the year we have the extra day is called the Leap Year, when we actually don't jump over a day, but add one? Shouldn't we call it Extra Day Year?

Well, it's just an extra day; don't blink or you'll miss it. Happy Birthday to all those Leap Year babies who rarely get a birthday. And if you don't have a Leap Year birthday, be grateful, and happy day to you, too.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chinese cuisine cooking class

Yesterday evening Scott and I headed south to Orleans to the lovely farmhouse where we have taken cooking classes in the past, and had a lesson in Chinese cuisine scheduled.

Orleans is about an hour and a half south of Spencer, and although the weather threatened snow and gloomy skies in the morning, by noon it had cleared to a sunny, yet chilly day. So we headed to the farmhouse for what hoped to be a pleasant experience.

We really enjoy Chinese cuisine, and have attempted to cook it at home on several occasions. My quick stir fry, using bottled sauces, canned vegetables, and cooked chicken is good in a pinch. Although a decent fast dish for a career woman to make when on the run, it's not worthy of being called cuisine, and Scott turned his note up at it when I first made it for him. And after living with him for a while and finding out what a good chef he is, I can see why. He has given me an appreciation for delicious home cooked food. And although his attempts at Chinese cooking are fair, they lack the richness of the flavor that we have enjoyed in restaurants.

One of my Asian students gave me a recipe for Mapo Tofu (the student said it was his favorite dish), and we've made it at home, but since we didn't have access to the "real" ingredients, for example, we substituted chili sauce for chili paste because it wasn't available at our local grocer, the dish turned out lackluster. There are Asian grocery stores in Bloomington, and I plan on seeking out that chili paste one of these days.

We arrived at the farmhouse early for our 4:30pm lesson. The farmhouse is scenic no matter what the season, and we brought our camera to photograph the patchwork barn (there's actually a sign on it with this name), and the lovely old oak tree with the antique bicycle leaning against it. (On one of our autumn visits, we were delighted to see two Amish children playing near the barn. We were later told that there were neighbor children paid to do some barn chores.)

The porch of the house is filled with signs with cute sayings and lots of antiques that are always fun to see. There are so many things around the farmhouse inside and out, that no matter how many times we go, we are bound to notice something new.

Once inside, we found out that our hostess, Judy, who owns the home was going to stay upstairs since she was recovering from the flu. Our class instructor, Jackie, introduced herself and her assistant, her daughter, Tara.

Once the other three people arrived (this was a very small class), Jackie got started. We all took a chair at the oak dining table, and watched as Jackie prepared chicken pepper stir fry, sesame garlic flank steak, Hong Kong fried rice cakes, and stir fried spinach with garlic.

As soon as Jackie cut into the fresh ginger root, we realized what ingredient has been missing from our own home prepared recipes; the smell was tantalizing and made our mouths water in anticipation. Jackie showed us how to cut up a variety of vegetables for the peppered chicken dish, cutting cucumbers on an angle and carrots "rolled and diagonal" cuts. I had always just grabbed a veggie and cut it. I didn't know there were so many different ways to cut vegetables. And cucumbers in stir fry? Who would imagine! And she said to get the "long English cucumbers, since there are less seeds." And I'm thinking to myself, "You mean there are different kinds of cucumbers?" So yes, there are more things to to learn at these classes besides new recipes.

And when the food was done and ready, the best part was the EATING! We enjoyed our Chinese buffet, and meeting the instructors, and the local residents, Kelly, Gina, and Lee who had showed up for the class, too. Gina and I were the novices, proclaiming that we are not worthy to be called cooks. But Kelly, Lee, and of course my husband Scott, all have done quite well with cooking.

Kelly made comments that the evening was so much fun that we should all get together again in the summer for a "pitch-in." I laughed when I realized that by "pitch-in," she meant a potluck! Oh the things you learn at a cooking class! 

We swapped emails and ate the peppered chicken, and talked about what we'd through in it at home since the basic recipe is so versatile; Lee and I mentioned baby corn and mushrooms, and Gina and Kelly thought that sounded good and mentioned peapods. Scott liked the thought of peapods. The steak was Scott's and my favorite of the night. Kelly especially enjoyed the spinach, and said what a healthy way to enjoy fresh spinach this was.

The Hong Kong fried rice cakes were disappointing though, and after finding out you start with a pre-packaged mix like Rica-Roni to make them, we knew we wouldn't be making that one at home.

We weren't expecting dessert, but Tara brought us a tray of vanilla "bisquits" which were cookies with chocolate cream in the center. Then, when we figured that was dessert, she brought us each a bowl of Mango Sherbert. I've never had this treat but will certainly enjoy it again sometime. Everyone at the table agreed it was REALLY TASTY! And Jackie mentioned it was Kroger brand; who would have figured?

After a nice afternoon of "learning" and EATING, it was time to say good night. Full and happy and with recipes in tow, Scott and I bid farewell to everyone and headed back home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Friends: Dixie and Sammy

So I invited a couple over for dinner last night because the husband is retired Army, like Scott, and I figured the guys would have lots in common.

Well, the husband is MSgt. Sammy Davis, congressional medal of honor recipient whose heroics in Vietnam were depicted in movie, "Forrest Gump," as he single-handedly saved many in his platoon during battle while he was wounded.

Sammy said, "Remember the scene where Forrest brings them to the river bank and leaves them, as he goes back for yet another soldier?"

And I said, "yes," and Sammy said, "I swam each of them across the river to safety." This was a goosebumps moment for me, speaking to this courageous gentleman. Sammy told us about meeting LBJ, and how they used footage of him in the movie receiving his congressional medal of honor, but superimposed Tom Hanks' photo over him. I asked if he really showed the president his battle scars, as Forrest did when he pulled down his uniform pants in the movie. Sammy said, "No, but I would've if the president has asked to see it."

Sammy told us about his stint in Vietnam, and how it rained and rained for days, and his platoon of 40 was in the wetlands, and he was in a foxhole. It was November 1967, and he turned 21 holed up in that foxhole. He said, "You know how you look forward to your 21st birthday, and dream of all the things you're going to do on that special day," and there Sammy was, wet, cold, and smack dab in a hole in Vietnam.

And when enemy forces, 1500 strong forged towards Sammy's platoon, the men did not cower. The platoon held as best they could, and one man -- Sammy -- ended up saving several of his comrades, just as depicted in the film.

Sammy brought over his congressional medal of honor to show us. Also in the little worn blue box were several other mementos, precious to the sweet war hero; one I'll especially remember was an amulet given to him by Mother Teresa, which I held in my hand, and felt I was holding something once touched by an angel.

Sammy's wife, Dixie, was no shrinking violet. Lovely and animated, Dixie spoke of the many celebrity friends they had made over the years, including favorites of mine, Gary Sinise and Ann Margret. I couldn't get over the Ann Margret mention, and told of how I saw the movie, "Bye Bye Birdie" as a five year old, and have always loved Ann. Dixie mentioned they would probably be seeing her this week at the Ronald Reagan library. Dixie says the celebrities they meet are all very nice, and most become friends.

We talked about the 1960's, and what a time it was. We discussed how the music was so poignant, and how you can't explain any of this to the younger generations; how you had to "be there," to understand it all. Even though I remember it as a child, and Scott barely remembers much, since he was born in the early 60's. We talked about how the music then was about peace, love, and understanding, all in the midst of the Vietnam war time. And how many today are concerned with putting healthy food in their bodies, yet the music of today is generally not so healthy. Music is food for the mind. We pondered what the effect will be over time . . . to be continued.

We ate and made merry. We all enjoyed a delicious beef bourguignon that took Scott hours to prepare, along with Asiago cheese bread, and a Marie Callender berry pie for dessert. Dixie and I were equally excited that we were serving Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream with the pie, so that made up for the fact that the pie was store-bought.

"Next time, we'll make one of our special homemade apple pies," I said, apologizing for the store-made one. Dixie said next time we're going to their house. and Scott and I look forward to it.

We felt like we had known these people for years. So nice to make new friends. And always nice to meet a hero; even I know this is something you just don't find around the corner (yes, I'm quoting Forrest Gump here). Sammy and Dixie brought us a jar of their homemade salsa. And we swapped recipes, too. Sammy and Dixie are really nice, and Scott and I enjoyed having them over, along with two of my colleagues from IU. It was a great night; it's always nice to make new friends.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Therapeutic

Last Friday evening I gave a presentation to a group of Asian students on tips for the interview, and as I demonstrated how to "watch your posture and sit up straight," and swung my arms around and up to chest level to emphasize to "bring your energy level up!" they wiggled in their chairs and sat straight up in unison and when I discussed hand placement, to my delight, they mimicked me also.
I love the IU Kelley School of Business students! They are like sponges; they listen attentively and heed advice. They are outstanding students who go above and beyond. They are a joy to work with and a joy to know. 
And they appreciate the time and advice I give them as Career Coach. This is evident in the many thank you emails I receive almost daily. But if only they knew how much they give back to me. I learn from them, too. Many times, they make my day!
After a one-on-one coaching session and on his way out the door, one student said, "I'm going to pay your social security." I chuckled and said, "So you're going to save the system, huh?  and he replied with a smile, "Yes." So we talked a few minutes more about that. That student was so full of knowledge, motivation, and drive, and by golly, he convinced me if that if it can be done, he would be the person to do it.
Another student, during a mock interview when I mentioned that he had a charming personality, replied, "Thanks; you do, too." This made me smile.
I have yet another student who graduates in May and will only take a job in California or someplace "warm." She and actually took herself on vacation to check out different areas -- solo -- over the Christmas holiday break. She has no contacts out there. Yes, a very brave student. 
KSB students come from around the world, with diverse backgrounds and interests, yet they share a quest for knowledge.
Students so fresh, so hopeful, that they make me feel hopeful, too.  No matter what my day is looking like, KSB students are a bright spot.
Note: The Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, is considered to be one of the top business schools in the U.S. and in the top 50 throughout the world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Peachy

"Did I ever tell you that I invented the peach strip on the maxi pad?" I mentioned to my friend Margaret the other day, as we carpooled to work.

"Did you invent the post-it notes too?" Margaret joked.

"No, I saw that movie though. And it was pretty funny, but I really did invent the Always pad peach strip," I told Margaret.

Margaret seemed amused as I told her that the feminine hygiene company had brought a focus group to Holy Spirit School way back in the 1980's, and as a young parent, I took part in trying out many products from the company, and providing feedback.

Ironically, the week I was testing the feminine hygiene products, I was in the Meijer grocery store on Alpine Avenue, and waiting in line at the courtesy desk. Why I was waiting there, I can't recall, but what happened next changed my life.

It was summer time, and a few feet in front of me was a rather large women in cotton white slacks and a sleeveless white blouse. This I recall most vividly, because wedged underneath her very thin cotton slacks, to my horror, was a BRIGHT BLUE strip maxi-pad, for all the world to see!

At that moment, I couldn't believe my eyes -- or my luck -- since I was doing the focus group on that very product! And as I stood there, I couldn't really shout over to her, "Hey lady, your blue strip is showing!" or "Excuse me, ma'am, we need to talk," well, you just can't say that stuff to strangers. But there was something I could do . . .

So, in the interest of every menstruating woman in America and beyond, it was at that very moment that I had the great idea for the nude or peach color strip, and brought that information to the focus group at Holy Spirit School on Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Now you might be thinking, gee, did Marie receive a patent for that, or perhaps great financial gain? Well, not exactly. Besides the satisfaction that I helped improve the product, my reward from the company was a 3-month supply of the newly developed product with the peach strip. And, I do have this fun little story to tell for the rest of my life.

Yeah, the money would've been nice. 

Monday, February 6, 2012


After a long and teary-eyed weekend spent snuggly and worrying over my boy, Jakie, and pouring over "Vet MD" articles online regarding kidney failure in young dogs, I talked to our vet this afternoon, who said she had good news. Jake's repeat bloodwork came back within normal limits of creatinine at 1.5! 

But, we must be cautious and will redo the tests in about a month. The vet has pondered why Jake would have a 2.2 the first time, and figured that, uh-hem, a high meat diet will cause a false high reading, and if you read the blog from two weeks ago where I had to bribe Jake to take medicine by giving him meat treats, well, that could explain it. Plus, she said Jake was probably dehydrated. So, we will hold our breath until early March, and repeat the test, and perhaps get Jake an ultrasound of his kidneys.

It took a few minutes for this relief to settle in, after thoughts of losing him, and the agony of imaging life without him . . . his quirky personality, his loveable charm; the way he sat on my lap at the vet's office on Saturday, and barked one strong, "WOOF!" at a huge black dog that got too close to Jake and me as Jake made it clear to the dog that, "Hey, this is my master and you're getting too close for comfort, Bub!" Even though he did it with a complete look of panic on his face, he mustered the courage to protect me, and that's special.

When I talk to Jake, he turns his head from side-to-side to try to understand what I am saying, and he is so cute doing this. He has huge buggy eyes, one appears to be a lazy eye, and he has a crooked little underbite. He is not perfect, and that makes him more appealing. He can sometimes be a bit slow to catch on to new stuff, while his "sister," Lucy, is smart as all get out, and catches on quickly, retrieves the ball before Jake realizes it's been tossed, etc. Compared to Lucy, Jake might be a fry short of a happy meal. But they go so well together. And I love them so much.

This past weekend was stressful, and I spent most of it dwelling on Jake and neglecting the other animals, besides his sibling, Lucy, I somewhat neglected the kitties, Bliss and Salem. And Salem had her own drama last week.

Salem was 13 in December, and spry as all get out, until last week when she tried to jump on the bed and landed on the floor, then crawled over to lie on the floor in the corner, which is so uncharacteristic of the bold little alpha cat. When she stopped using her back hind leg, I was worried that she was having heart issues, but then she was limping, so she hurt her foot. A chat with the vet revealed that if she had experienced a heart issue, that most likely, both hind legs would be affected, and she would be SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER!  So, Salem has just been babying her foot.

She just picked the wrong week to get my attention. But she has been snuggling on my belly, while Jake has been cuddling next to me with his head on my arm. Lucy doesn't care so much, since she prefers to lie on my feet, but Bliss, well, Bliss is tired of being ignored, and practically sat on my face this morning as she crowded in on me with loud purrs. I'm still pulling white fluff from my face and shirt.

And Jake is now convinced that I can't live without him, and he's probably right. I have planned on having that little cuddle bug around for many years to come, and pray this will come to pass. I have also learned not to give my dog fatty meats such as pork or beef. I mean this. I will vow to take better care of his sensitive little systems.

Well, I need to run; Salem wants me to lift her over the basement gate, and Jake wants to be petted, so see you next time.

Let's keep it a sunny day. Peace to you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rainy Day

Jake is my teddy bear dog; he loves to cuddle. And if I leave for any period of time, I come in the house to he and Lucy jumping up to greet me! And Jake even whines, because he has separation anxiety, and he loves me so much, and I love him back. And both dogs know what "dance" means, and "high five," and are so entertaining. The house would be so empty without both of them.

And Jake has seemed to be getting better, after being sick for a few weeks.

But the vet called last week, and asked me to bring Jake in to repeat his bloodwork. When I got there today, she said that Jake's creatinine level was elevated, which could mean that Jake's kidneys are failing.

Jake is just 2.5 years old, so this is truly heartbreaking news for me and my husband. I started to cry, but held Jake for the vet, so she could get blood samples from his legs this morning.

If Jake is in kidney failure, I asked how this could happen to such a young dog? The vet said that it could be congenital. She mentioned that there are treatments, and a special diet, and that if I wanted to, I could have a biopsy to find out what caused it (if it turns out to be the final diagnosis). I told her that no, I wouldn't do a biopsy; I wouldn't put my dog through that . . .

The vet said that although the creatinine level is above normal, it's odd that all other parts of the bloodwork came back normal. So we will hold our breath to see what these tests reveal.

It rained all day today.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Reports indicate that fat ole' groundhog saw his shadow this morning, and now 6 more weeks of winter are predicted.

So, does this mean "winter" in the traditional sense with lots of drifting snow and frigid temps, or the mild 50 and 60-degree temps with blue skies and sunshine we are currently experiencing in Indiana?

Ole' Mr. Groundhog, I hope you are wise enough to give us the latter. Or maybe we will put a cement block over your little groundhog hole to keep you down there till May next year.

Happy Groundhog's Day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Betty White!

I want to be Betty White when I grow up.

Betty turned 90 a few weeks ago, and appeared in a TV special to celebrate the milestone. Instead of slowing down and taking it easy in her Golden Years, Betty has heated up and really gets out there to entertain us and has a great time doing it.

Let’s face it, at this point in her life it’s obviously not about the money. Betty has made enough of that to last a lifetime, no matter how long that ends up being. She smiles coquettishly in the spotlight, quips with genius delivery, even makes sexual innuendos, looks amazingly youthful and beautiful for her age, and is a genuine fireball at 90. And she loves the attention!

I have an Aunt who is turning 80 this May, and she, too, looks amazing, and is a real fireball. But she does not want a mention of the . . . shhh, number 80 this year. Instead of allowing her children and relatives to give her a party to CELEBRATE the years together, she is choosing to forego a family event, and plans to traipse off to Utah to defy her age and ski.  Or maybe she is showing off her age, not sure, but it sure would be nice to enjoy a celebration with my aunt and the family. However, she does not see it that way.

During a recent visit, I asked her why she didn’t want a birthday party, and she got snippy and said, “Why don’t you have one?” I’m not sure what that meant, but it appeared to be a delicate subject, so I dropped it. (I would love for someone to give me a birthday party this year, BTW.)

But, I also understand different strokes for different folks. I remember a few years back when my daughters took me out to celebrate a milestone birthday for me. There we were, in our favorite candlelit Italian restaurant, between the calamari and chowder, when to my complete surprise, one of them pulled from their purse a glittery silver crown with the magic MILESTONE NUMBER magnified in shiny, bold purple glitter for the entire world to see.

“Put it on, Mom!” they exclaimed, as my jaw dropped in disbelief, forcing me to choke on a piece of clam I had just spooned into my mouth to swallow. Yes, I knew how old I was and yet, that number, that giant purple number ending in zero appeared on that crown out of nowhere gleaming like Mt. Everest! And I just couldn’t relate to it. It didn’t seem real. I just didn’t “feel” that “F” word – FIFTY.

After much goading I gave in and put it on, but for just a minute so they could at least take a photo of me in the crown. Still that milestone number seemed bigger than life to me at that point in time. Never wanting to judge myself by time, I don’t want to dwell on age as a measure of how I look or feel, or what I can or cannot do. I just want to be. And do. And keep going!

While cleaning out a box of mementos last week, I stumbled on that milestone birthday crown, with the large magic number, still all shiny and boldly gleaming up top. It doesn’t seem so bad now. In fact, I just might wear that crown on my birthday, well, on a future birthday. Well, maybe in a few years or so, down the road.

And until then, I want to say, Betty White, you rock, lady! And you’re a brilliant role model, but I have years – many years – to grow into being you. God bless you. And God bless my auntie, too.

And I am my aunt’s niece, and Auntie, lady, you rock! I’m so proud of you! And next to Betty White, you’re still a kid. And you can ski. I can’t even do that.

A wise man told me that those who have the most birthdays seem to live longer, so “Happy Milestone Birthday” to each of you – and many more.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Meeting

I am not a morning person.

The alarm went off at 6am this morning so I could make a pot of chicken soup for the Ladies' Auxilliary (LA) / VFW District meeting today; our post was hosting it, which included serving lunch to all. We had to be there by 930 am for the meeting and lunch was to be served around noon. So I got up, got the pot boiling, added the whole chicken, and started chopping up all the goodies to go in it: celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions.

Once it was all going, I figured I'd lie back down for an hour, and then get up, bathe, and get ready. Scott said he'd make breakfast and call for me at 7:30. A while later, he woke me up and handed me breakfast. The contents of the plate were cold. Oops, looked at the clock and it was after 8! Seems Scott called for me to get up, and I must've answered "Okay" in my sleep, because I had no recollection of it when he told me about it later. 

We had to hustle to get dressed up, and out the door so early, which was painful on a Sunday morning. Sunday is the day of rest, right?  (:   But, we managed it.

I dropped Scott off at our Post with the crockpot of soup and two chocolate cakes I made for the event and set off for the ladies meeting at another building (the American Legion let us use their facilities).

I love the old hall buildings. The floors are well worn, and the ceiling tiles old and sometimes falling down here and there,but there's a warmth and charm and history; if only those walls could talk. There's always a bar to one side, although it was closed during our meeting. The place was bustling with ladies, some in their LA  blue suits, and most of them well over the age of 65.

I admire their passion and commitment to the cause, and the creative ability to find so many ways to squeeze money out of everyone at each meeting! We had tickets for this, tickets for that, and everyone loosened their purse strings and bought strings of tickets. I was asked by our Post Prez to sell the 50/50 raffle tickets,and I loved it. Within 30 minutes, I had sold $170 worth and made many new friends in the process. Fifty - fifty face value to the winner was a prize of $85. My experience, priceless.

I also entered a Valentine centerpiece in the contest but did not place today. Part of my centerpiece contained candy, so I brought it back to the table and consoled myself and those at my table with pink conversation hearts and silver-papered chocolate kisses.

After the meeting, we met the guys at the Post and enjoyed many homemade soups and cakes. It was down-home kind of Sunday in Spencer, Indiana. Mom said they got about five inches of snow or so back home in Grand Rapids (MI) today, but it was sunny and pleasant in Spencer --, inside and out.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sick Jake, part two

Poor Jake was at the vet again today. He had to have blood taken since he’s been having problems with throwing up, and still sick. The vet had told me to stop his liver flavored tablets earlier this week when I reported that he was throwing up. Sure didn’t miss the fight over giving him those tabs!

She asked for a stool sample too, and I didn’t wait until our appointment this morning. I knew that was going to be a daunting task; only thing I can think of that would be worse would be following one of the cats around. So, grabbed a baggie and got that when opportunity struck on Wednesday, then rushed the steamer to the vet’s office. Luckily, it was negative for parasites.

This morning I had Jake in for his 10am. Lucy made sad eyes at us as we left her in the kitchen, and she had been really happy when she saw me get Jake’s leash out at first, because she thought her leash would come out and that we’d go for a little walk. No such luck, Lucy, so sorry little pup.

At the vet's office, Jake sat on my lap and trembled and shook. It wasn’t cold in the vet’s office, but there were dogs barking in the back, and other dogs coming and going in the lobby, and he was nervous. Plus, Jake doesn’t feel good. I knew for sure when the vet took Jake’s temp, and he was running a fever. Poor baby.
The vet assistant weighed Jake; we were surprised to see him down two pounds in two weeks. He's a small dog, and now weighs just over 14 pounds. The vet then had her assistant hold Jake while they took blood out. I stayed by his face, rubbing his little cheeks and looking into his eyes. He remained calm. Getting the blood was much easier than taking the rectal temperature, he sure flinched for that.

“Jake’s cough is back, I noticed it yesterday,” I told the vet. “And he coughed this morning, too,” I continued. The vet started asking me all kinds of questions about the puke, the coughs, what times, how much, etc. And I asked that if Jake needed medicine again, which he did,  that she please not give us the liver flavored tabs. I couldn’t take that again, plus, all the treats Jake got might have brought on pancreatitis, and makes me feel worse that my giving him those medicine tabs in different foods might have triggered another illness.

I was really happy when the vet offered us liquid meds! She sent us on our way, and said she’ll call on Monday with the results. Oh, I hope my boy is okay.  The vet also gave us some tablets to give ½ at bedtime for Jake, to ward off any stomach upsets. They are really tiny, too, so Jake too the piece of pill in a small bit of ham. Yes, that’s the only treat he got.

He was so glad to be home from the vet, and he showed Lucy his blue armband, back from the ordeal. Lucy sniffed him all over, and noticing the “vet smell,” seemed forgiving that she was not invited to go with us. And Jake, well, poor boy, he took his liquid meds easily then he lay down for a nice nap in the sunbeam streaming through the kitchen window; home sweet home, warm and safe in a sunbeam, resting and healing up. Ah, sweet nap.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Signs of Spring!

January is always the longest, coldest, and most "blah" month for me. And although this winter season has been incredibly mild, I'm still tired of dark skies and threat of precipitation, and fears of icy roads after dark.

Alas, this weekend, even with the sleet we had yesterday, which made driving most hazardous, I got a glimpse of spring . . . one that I look forward to every year. Now you might think I spotted a robin, but no, that wasn't it. The sign I received was in black and white and brought a smile to my face: It was an ad for patio furniture in a department store. Now this to me, is a sure sign of spring!

For some reason, just walking into a Target store at this time of year with my daughter, Ashlee, in our heavy winter coats and scarfs, and spotting patio tables, chairs, brightly colored umbrellas, shiny new grills, and planters in bold shades of yellow, turquoise, and orange, just lifts the spirits and lightens the heart, widens our eyes and brings out shouts of elation, "Spring is coming! It's truly coming!" There is light at the end of a dark winter tunnel, and once again, our minds turn to those "other fancies" that only thoughts of spring can provide!

We drop the droopy winter pace and RUN, not walk, over to the displays, and ooh and aah over each one, sitting in the chairs, fondling the unscratched, flowered, plastic table settings, and reminisce about warm times on the deck, of sipping icy beverages and sharing stories and laughs, we bask in the imaginary sunshine.

This mother - daughter ritual of ours is one we long for, hope for, and when it arrives, we realize that yes, spring runs eternal, and brings with it a renewal, a feeling of youth and energy, and visions of tulips, daffodils and the most fragrant hyacinths, yes. And the promise that spring will turn into summer days, with a tan and beach visits for Ashlee and Capri's and dragon flies, hummingbirds, lily pads, and roses for me. Everything is coming up roses, oh, just picture it now!

The promise of spring brings warmth, rejuvenation, and safe travels under sunny skies, if only in our dreams at this time of year, but even if just in our minds, it lightens our load, gives us something positive to think about, and makes us feel good.

So, here's to the promise of spring.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A bitter pill to swallow

For the past week, I've been struggling to give Jake and Lucy pills for being sick. It seems they came down with something over the holiday timeframe, and mostly, Jake but more recently, Lucy, has been sneezing and wheezing and acting a bit under the weather. We really don't go anywhere, so I'm thinking that perhaps that Jake (since Lucy seems to have caught whatever it is from him) must've put his nose or mouth on the vet's floor when they were in to have their nails trimmed. It was shortly after that time that I noticed symptoms in Jake.

And have you ever had to give a dog a pill?

Well, the vet gave me these huge liver flavored tablets for them to try. "Dogs just love these," the vet said, "They should take them really well." So off home we went. And yes, day one, that first dog treat tablet went down with a fast "Smack, chump, gulp!" and I breathed a sigh of relief as Scott and I headed off to a conference for the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary in Indianapolis. My friend, Sue Anne, was going to watch the dogs while we were away.

A day and a half later, we arrived home late Saturday night to find two happy dogs greeting us with wagging tails and excitement, a note from Sue Anne letting us know that the first pills had gone down well but the second time she tried it, no such luck.  I read the note, then glanced down at the pups, noticing little bits of broken liver pill tablet smeared and busted on the floor. Oh here, we go, I thought.

So I got out a piece of cheese, smushed some busted pill in it, and gave it to Jake. He eagerly took the cheese, swallowed the bits of orange creamy delight and then "Spffft" dropped the remnant of the liver tablet on the floor. He then looked at me as if to say, "Yeah, the cheese is good but I don't like that liver pill and here is what I'm doing with it, blech!"  So, I grabbed the remnant and attempted to force him to swallow it, holding his little doggy chin and prying my finger behind the tab fragment down his throat. It went down, but it took a few tries and neither of us enjoyed the barbaric drama.

Next morning, a whole large fresh liver tablet awaited us. And Lucy was showing symptoms, so she too would get in on the "fun." Over the next three days, I tried many things. I broke the pill up, I ground the pill down, covered it with cheese, nuked it in the microwaved and served it up; this worked for one day. Both dogs chewed it up, but the second day of trying, no, they had figured me out. So, I tried cooking and serving the pills in chorizo, and that worked. But how healthy is that for the dog?

I called the vet and explained what was going on, and asking if they had liquid medicine instead. "No, we don't," she said, "Well, couldn't you just give them chorizo every day with their pill?" Well, I supposed I could, but it's wrong on so many levels, not to mention a pain to cater to the discerning dog palette. And then the secretary suggested I try peanut butter. "My dogs love those liver-flavored tablets," she exclaimed, "But I have big dogs." 

I looked at my small dogs and noticed they were listening in on my conversation with the vet. Good thing they didn't hear her tell me about the peanut butter. As the dogs watched, I went through the pill crushing ritual, retrieved the not often used jar of peanut butter from the cupboard and smeared the pill remnants thoroughly, then placed two wee dishes on the floor. Both dogs sniffed and went for the peanut butter, smacking in the gooey thickness, and for the most part, it went down. Then to the water bowl.

The following day, the peanut butter "trick" didn't work. So, in frustration, I went back to chorizo. This time, they turned their noses up at the chorizo. "Something about it just doesn't smell right," Jake said with his eyes as he got bored quickly with the dish, and walked away to go lie down on his dog pillow. Lucy sniffed and walked away too. No go. So there sat the chorizo bowl most of the day, growing hard and ugly in the wee dish on the kitchen floor with wasted liver tablets in it.

Not wanting to force their little mouths open, especially with Lucy, since her tiny flat mouth makes it nearly impossible to do that, and I didn't want to hurt them besides. Hurting them to get them well; there's an irony in there that I just don't want to deal with. So, I got out a piece of Virginia ham lunchmeat from the fridge and put bits of pill in a piece, and to my surprise, Jake swallowed it easily! Then another! Then another! In four sections, the pill was gone! And, the floor was clean, so Jake did not spit it out this time! Lucy would not play this game. So with her, I went back to the cheese trick, which somewhat worked. She got some cheese pill down.

The next day, I got out the lunchmeat, and guess what? Jake ate the lunchmeat but spit the pill on the floor. I tried again; same results. Same input, same output. And Lucy didn't go near the bowl with nuked cheese. So, what now? I guess I'll have to try ice cream tomorrow. Yes, that's it; that's the ticket: Who would turn down liver-flavored vanilla ice cream?  (: