Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Kindness of A Dog

The news recently featured a man left to die on the streets of New York City after he had been fatally stabbed while saving a woman from her assailant. Twenty-five people, including the woman he aided, failed to act on his behalf. One of the people passing him got out a cell phone and took his picture for entertainment purposes. Finally, someone called 911, but it was too late.

This story has haunted me this week as I have pondered it. Did he look like a homeless man asleep on the sidewalk? According to news reports there was blood to be seen from the stab wounds. However, for over half-an-hour no one investigated further or even called 911 to ask someone else to look into it.

Who are we?

Contrast this story with the following video clip of a dog saving another dog. I was dumbfounded and moved to tears after watching the clip that follows. Please, Lord, always give me the good sense and compassion this little dog had. How can we do less as human beings?

(This is less than a minute to watch and has a happy ending for both dogs.)

I am reminded of these verses from the Bible.....

Matthew 25: 37:40 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "

We're supposed to be living by these words. God can get our attention through any means he chooses.

©Copyright 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

North And South


North: Me, on the left – location - California (Okay, yes, that IS my gray hair so there ya go…..I always said I couldn’t be fat AND gray and that is now a patently obvious lie. I have also blown my big reveal.)

South: Kate – location – Australia, author of the “Tatersmama's Take on Things” blog which you will love if you VISIT. She has been in Australia for 15 years and came home to the foothill mountains of northern California to see her son, grandkids, other family, friends, and blogging buddies. (She likes to have her picture taken about as much as I do. Consequently, this photo is an act of love on both our parts so our blogging friends could see us meeting - like when Ms. Pac Man comes out to meet Winkin’ and Blinkin’ and Nod, or whatever the heck their names are.)

This is what we REALLY wanted to put up:


We think it shows us to our best advantage.

My visit with Kate was shorter than I wanted because we were late. Speaking of which, here’s a riddle I made up:

Question: What happens when you show up some place early?

Answer: I have no idea.

The prevailing factor this day was Tom-Tom. She’s my husband’s other girlfriend (the first in his affections is his espresso maker, Sylvia). Tom-Tom may have a guy’s name but she’s definitely a girl and speaks with a British accent. Supposedly, her job is to navigate for us and tell us the best way to get everywhere. Due to palpable jealousy, she did her best to thwart my plans. She didn’t take us the fastest way; she took us the shortest way, which included abandoned stage coach trails, a child’s footbridge, through a living room, and finally the end of the road where we had to backpack in the last five miles.

But it was worth it. If you know Kate through blogging, I’m here to tell you, she’s the real deal. Loving, sweet with a vinegar tang, funny, and as warm as can be. She even introduced me to The Old Guy and her friend, Jenny. These people are frequent players in the dramedy of her life and actors on the stage of her blog. She had a warm and welcoming family and the setting was LUSH with verdant greens and wildflowers thanks to all the California rain. I could have stayed for a week.

It’s a funny thing when you’ve been keyboard-pals for a year-and-a-half. You bypass all those firsts and move right to sharing in the nitty-gritty of each other’s lives. We KNOW each other. Of course, there are missing elements but we were already friends in 2-D. We just added the Imax screen and our 3-D glasses. We skipped the popcorn but only because of time constraints.

Speaking of food, there are some things you need to know about hardships in Kate’s life.

This woman lives in an odd country – sorry my Australian friends but I think you’ll agree with me on this one. She cannot get Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. She cannot get Butterfingers or Dr. Pepper. And these are among her favorite foods. We could argue that these don’t fall into the REAL FOOD category and we would be right. She would agree and isn’t calling them virtuous. But that doesn’t mean she deserves to be force fed Vegemite. (Another Australian friend tells me she’s never had a Twinkie. It’s alright, Julie. When the apocalypse comes, these things will sail right through. And they have a shelf life of 5,000 years. You’ll probably get a shot.)

So I came armed with her favorite foods. She immediately ordered me to hide them from her son, like any good mother would do. I knew we were kindred spirits.

I brought my own actors from my blog stage:


Griz and the Wild Man – husband and son. Bo couldn’t make it. She was busy cleaning the River Parkway north of Fresno. She had gangs of fun (literally) tearing out old animal pens and rusty barbed wire while avoiding a baby rattlesnake.

In the photo below, you can see where Tom-Tom tried to dump me on an old miner’s trail: Mark Twain’s Cabin at Jackass Hill. This effort contained a complete lack of subtlety.


Writing didn’t pay that well, apparently, by the looks of the cabin. (Must have been a lot like blogging.) But Mark Twain’s first book was inspired here, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” and, like a few famous bloggers we all know, sometimes you get that big break and find your place on the map. I’m just hoping I can work up to a cabin like this one of these days. I might be able to afford this level of luxury. Somethin’ tells me fame and a size 8 will be forever elusive. I have a body made for radio.


But I’ve got this strapping guy to look after me in my old age, which, near as I can tell, should be here in about three hours.


So Kate, it was great, and I thank you. Now when I read your blog I will see you and think of you the same way you can now see and think of me.

From the forehead up.

©Copyright 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

To Gray Or Not Too Gray


I’ve been going gray since I was 24.

The shock came on an Easter morning. I had just washed my hair and was blow drying, getting ready for church. Something glisteny (that’s a word as of now) caught my attention in the glare of the bathroom lights. I dove in after it like I’d just discovered fleas.

I could not believe my eyes and immediately ripped it out. I was quite sure it was a freakish anomaly and now that it had been annihilated, I could proceed with my youth.

The thought did occur to me that three more gray hairs were supposed to take its place. Just an old wives tale, I reassured myself, and proceeded to kiss Denial right on the lips.

But those old wives are much maligned and they get even by being right.

Consequently, I began a serious relationship with “Sun-In.”

Now, in case you’ve never used this fine product, I should explain that Sun-In is supposed to make your hair look like you’ve spent a scintillating summer frolicking in dazzling light rays. It’s designed to impart the color of young locks and lend highlights and streaks to your carefree, tousled hair. You exude an aura of babe-a-liciousness. And it does that about as effectively as an orange spray tan resembles softly burnished skin, fresh from tropical beaches.

I’m pretty sure the look I affected was closer to the Straw Man (Scarecrow) in the Wizard of Oz. But not as attractive. My boyfriend du jour summed it up with “What did you do to your hair?” Well, I recaptured my youth (as a hay stack), thank you very much.

A few years and job promotions later, I was in the luxurious financial position to have my hair foiled fairly regularly. This is achieved by taking small strands of hair, brushing them with a bleaching agent, wrapping each piece in tin foil, and not stopping until you resemble an aluminum Christmas tree. The general effect is a masking of your gray and it works well until you have so much gray mixed in with the blonde that it looks like you’re having a May/December relationship with yourself.

Enter coloring.

This would hide the whole mess, I figured. (Well, except during outgrowth periods which consumed 9/10ths of the period between coloring and recoloring.) So I went lighter. And the lighter was so light it matched my nearly white hair which was good for outgrowth but then, what was the point of coloring? And if I was going to have nearly white hair, why not have white hair? Well, I reasoned, because I was a blonde at heart. I was born a tow-head – yes, almost white, but with golden highlights. And I was always a blonde, even when it darkened as I got older. It made sense then to move away from gray/white and back toward more golden shades. And everyone was fooled and thought I actually looked 13 even though I was 45.

And then one morning, about six months ago, I asked Grizzly what he would think if I raised the white flag over my white hair. He said surrender was decidedly French but he’d love me anyway. Maybe more, if I came with a side of fries.

So I grew out. And not just horizontally.

It is a fascinating occupation to watch your actual, real, bonafide, genuine hair color appear. My blonde had become pretty light again so it wasn’t striking, but it was noticeable. My hairdresser friends said blend it. I said no. It would only delay what I was trying to achieve: the unvarnished truth of my real hair color. And with each haircut, more silvery white appeared and the blonde tips were fading and disappearing. I currently lack one hair cut being completely done. (Pictures will follow when I am.)

And what do I think?

I am trying to figure out why I waited so long. It’s deliciously freeing. As I suspected, it’s decidedly silver, almost white. I don’t recognize myself in photos. I sometimes think I look like I overdid it in the coloring department. Then I remember: that IS my color. I can’t quite get over myself yet but I’m starting to actually love it.

I’m a tow head again just like when I was a mere infant - minus the golden highlights, sun-suit, and the diaper. I don’t think the golden highlights or the sun-suit will ever make a reappearance.

Let’s hope the same holds true on the diaper.

image (Me, at three.)

©Copyright 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Boyz of Summer

It’s not the Big League. It’s not even the Little League. But it’s definitely a league of their own.

And NOBODY ain’t got nuthin’ on them in the good-times department.

Best Buds left to right – The Wild Man, The Arm, and The Goofball


The Goofball Goofs


Ready and waiting.




Play ball.


Thanks for the photos, Chris. You rock. :-)

P.S. I added the watermark with photography credit because our friend didn’t want it. He doesn’t seek the limelight. So I must shove him into it. It’s what I do. Shove. And “The Arm?” That’s his kiddo. Can that boy ever throw a ball. Yep. Good times. Good memories. Good friends.

Good deal.

(For the interested, I've been asked to post updates on The Lila Minkler Project and I told you I am a bear of very little brain so, of course, I don't send out reminders. If you are interested, a new post appears EVERY DAY there because this is a fast-clip project. If you've missed something you think you want to see, you can link HERE).

©Copyright 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Not to Wear

Perhaps this would be better titled: What Not to Share. But if one cannot humiliate oneself and get a blog post out of it, then really, what’s the point of humiliation?

Let’s consider three different shoe combinations, shall we? These are perfectly acceptable. They may not be your taste but I have foot problems (why of course I do – is there anything on my body which functions normally? No Virginia, there is no Santa Clause-only Dr. Scholl’s), and so they have to have a little heel, but not too much. And they have to have great arch support. These qualify and are therefore a shoe of choice: (Pay no attention to the wrinkly ankles.)


And again, this next pair has suited me so well they are nearly worn to a frazzle, like their owner:


While each of these pairs of shoes are perfectly acceptable on their own, combining them seems to be a fashion error:


And I think we could all agree it would be decidedly silly to think you could go into public with this combo and so, of course, we wouldn’t. Unless you’re me and then, of course, you would. It would happen while once again dressing in the dark, which we know always gets me in trouble – (if you’ve forgotten the underwear incident or never read it you can horrify yourselves HERE).

This time, it was apparently too much trouble to turn on the light in the entry way and actually survey the shoe basket. I simply reached in with my toes and felt my way around. Now, due to neuropathy in my feet from an unknown cause (no, it’s not diabetes), I have little “sensing” abilities. I can’t always tell when my feet are even touching something, let alone the RIGHT something. I’ve been known to shove a turned over toe into a closed shoe and not even realize it immediately. Consequently, I’m supposed to be careful but careful and I don’t get along that well so we don’t hang out as often as we should.

And so confident was I that all was right, I merrily flitted out the door and drove myself to community choir. And really, all would have been well, indeed possibly even undetected, if our dear choir director – thank you, Licia – had not insisted we all gather together out of our graduated seating positions and join one another in a large and convivial circle on the floor, where we might blend our voices in harmonious rapture.

The only problem was that would mean we were all looking at each other – from the ground up – full view – no hidden feet behind the chair in front of you. But I gave it not a second thought. I did not presume for a moment to be concerned about anything other than the part I was supposed to sing – in tune and on time. However, when others – yes, Kaylee, I mean YOU – happen to consider your frame (knowing it is weak), and they casually observe your less-than-desirably-shod situation, they are inclined to become uncontrollably hysterical, and, in so doing, they will draw others into their frivolity, happily revealing the source by pointing and laughing to the point of tears.

You will woefully realize, upon closer examination of your feet, that your extremities are the source of this spontaneous merriment. What are you to do under such circumstances? Why nothing more than to take a spin around the circle of song birds, advertise your feet, and allow them to crow more loudly.

And then you simply resume singing when everyone is done wetting their pants and crying, because, after all, it IS me.

No one really expects anything different.

“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” Mr. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

©Copyright 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Lila Minkler Project - First Post

And we're off over there at The Lila Minkler Project.

If you want to follow along, please click the follow button on Lila's blog so you can get updates. When I post here I'll try to remember to always include a link, but my mind is a convoluted mass of equal parts "Hoarders," "CSI," and "Survivor." I can barely find anything in there so don't pin your hopes on me.

Thanks for your interest!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coincidence? I Think Not.


Nineteen years ago today, my little girl was born. My first born. I was silly. I was a mess. I was deliciously tearful and emotional and milky and thankful and overwhelmed. I had waited four long years through surgeries, treatments, check-ups, scans, prescription drugs, pregnancy tests, counting days on the calendar, and checking my breasts for telltale signs of soreness until I became unfit to appear in public. When I FINALLY saw a “+” on the test strip, I was thunderstruck. What I couldn’t know is, I would lose that baby and my heart and my faith would sink like the Titanic, only faster.

I wrestled with God and poured out my anger, my disappointment, my last drop of energy. I wanted to quit and just give up. But six months later, hope began anew and it wasn’t long before Miss Bo entered the world.

It is a foregone conclusion that she was, hands down, the most beautiful baby who had ever come into existence at that time.

Two years later we would go through infertility again trying to have The Wild Man. My trips to the doctor for scans were now accompanied by my little satellite, Bo. On one trip she asked where we were going and I told her, “To the doctor for a scan.” She had heard a lot of talk about “eggs” and I never gave it a thought. She piped up and said, “Yep, we have to go and see if you have a chicken baby in your tummy.”

Don’t talk about eggs in front of two year olds unless you’re scrambling them. The eggs, that is.

Besides, it was no chicken baby, it was a swingin’, jumpin’, howlin’, bouncin’ MONKEY that ended up in there and I’ve been tryin’ to cage him ever since (while secretly hoping I never do – he’s too much fun just the way he is).

But when Bo was due to arrive, I had to have a scheduled C-section due to health issues (are we SHOCKED?). I got to pick the day and I had two possibilities. One was on our niece's tenth birthday so I called and asked her how she felt about it. Some kids wouldn’t want to share the day. Not Miss Nickle Pickle. She was all over that and so these two favorite girls and cousins are exactly ten years apart.

Not a coincidence. A plan born in love. God’s for us. Our’s for each other. A sweet young cousin’s with a generous heart. And is it just me or does she look almost exACTly like Faith Hill? You KNOW my penchant for matching up faces.

YOU be the judge.

Our Niece


Faith Hill


Happy Birthday to two wonderful and loving young women! Your mama/auntie loves you!

©Copyright 2010

(P.S. – Now REALLY, my next post will be “What Not to Wear.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Lila Minkler Project

I figured out a way to write when life is busy, painful, or I'm abjectly lazy: get your great grandmother to say something for you.

Though my great grandmother, Lila, was born in the late 1880's, she still has an opinion. Women in our family are just that way. She speaks from the grave. Nothing seems to silence us.

I am in possession of a book of hers and it is a prized treasure. It contains clippings, postings, letters, photos, and newsworthy events including the Lindberg baby kidnapping and the assassination of President McKinley. It is replete with inspiration, controversy, and marital heartbreak. It contains mysteries yet to be answered. And everything there is fading. Photos and newsprint are sometimes over 100 years old. And the book could burn, or be lost, or have my coffee spilled on it and then where would I be? Lila would be silenced. And I need Lila to talk to me; to work when I can't. What are great grandmother's for?

The pages will be scanned to show the originals and I will retype what each clipping says for clarity's sake. I may weigh in with an opinion - I never lack for those - but mostly it will be a preservation project to share what Lila thought was important.

Please come visit over there if you want to but feel no obligation to comment. I am unoffended and realize we cannot comment on everything, even most things. But if you are a history buff and are remotely interested in the thoughts, hearts, and struggles of our foremothers, you may find a friend in Lila. I realize many of us are blogged out and I'm really creating this for my own children. However, you are welcome anytime.

Here is the link: The Lila Minkler Project

Join me next time when I will appear on my own version of "What Not to Wear."

© Copyright 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Easter Blessings

We've been away on vacation. Grizzly has fought headaches and blood pressure issues from the ozone but is coming around. The vacation did him - and all of us - a world of good. There hasn't been an area in our lives that hasn't been extremely stressed in the last few months. We had no phone and it was delicious. We had internet but I limited myself to checking in to Facebook a few times. I thought I would blog and visit blogs but the family gave me THAT look. So I refrained.

Now, we're headed home after a great, unplugged week in the Los Padres National Forest in a darling cabin generously opened to us by Grizzly's dear brother and his sweet wife. They even turned their stick-shift Jeep over to us and I felt like a big kid whizzing down dirt roads grabbing gears. (Our Jeep is a little tamer with an automatic and had to stay home in favor of the big SUV to haul everything.)

I am always surprised by generosity and big hearts. My SIL and BIL are the "What? Why didn't you ask US?!" types. And they mean it. They obviously want what they have to benefit others as well. I'm more used to suspicious types, wondering what people want and why. A blanket of trust and kindness warms you to your very heart with a lasting heat. I'm as much enriched by that spirit as I am by the time away. I'll be thinking about it for a long time and hope to be half as loving and giving.

And I thank all of you, on this blessed Easter Day - as I'm thanking God for Christ's sacrifice on our behalf - for your faithful visits, kind comments, and willingness to stick with this blog. I hope you are being enveloped in the bosom of those who love you most today and finding others to love who truly need it.

With Love,


Copyright 2010