Memories of Hallow’s Eve Past

IMG_5122[1]Memories of Hallow’s Eve past:

– Decorating with my Mom (Little Red Riding Hood LOVED to decorate for Halloween – I come by it honestly.  See latest addition this year – my new hanging Nasty Bat.)

– “Mr. Nasty Man” who has enjoyed our various porch benches at various homes for the last 17 years or so (only the mask has changed since the early one melted in the Oklahoma sun long ago).IMG_5115[1]

– The sounds and smells of rustling leaves and the cool breezes that accompany them.IMG_4971[1]

– Trick or  treating with my friend Boogieman.

– Making my own Steve Martin costume one year when I was little (my Mom was so proud that I made it and talked about it for years).

– Getting hit in the head with a flying pumpkin. See older post for background.

-Dressing up my kids for trick or treating year after year (Now they are too cool.  If I had known how much I would miss it, I would have savored it more.).

– The costume birthday parties we used to have for my oldest son each October.


– Receiving a box of little decorations and goodies every year from my Mom in the mail (along with a card that said “Watch out for flying pumpkins!”).

– The beautiful, beautiful colors of fall everywhere I look.

– The squirrels who eat my pumpkins on my sidewalk each year. (See their latest masterpieces.  I don’t have the heart to throw them away — I’m thinking when they bring their buddies at mealtime,  it’s like a trip to the Country Buffet or Western Sizzler).

Although  much has changed over the years, and some things have remained, fall continues to be my all-time favorite season of the year,  And Halllow’s Eve a special favorite.

Happy Halloween!

What memories of your Hallow’s Eve past come to mind?

P.S: Watch out for flying pumpkins!


15 things I’ve contemplated writing about but haven’t.

IMG_4785I’ve been in a slump.  I haven’t been able to write a decent post this last couple of weeks to save my life.  Lots of thoughts but I haven’t been able to get anything down. So, in no particular order, here are fifteen things that I have contemplated writing about but haven’t.

1. Sunrises in Colorado this time of year which are downright breathtaking.  (Clone the other day when he saw one out the back windows before school said “That’s some Lion King looking stuff going on out there.)

2. All that I’ve learned about supplements that can help with bruising.  I was going to call the post “Tips for my Bruising Bedfellows.”  (Since I get a new bruise every fifteen minutes.  Oh, and Arnica rocks.)

3.  The news on my Rice Krispy knees. (Doc says it’s arthritis in my knees which is common and the sound probably wont’ ever go away (YUK) but some exercising and supplements might help.)

4. The wild weather extremes we’ve had in Colorado with fires and flooding.  (Good thing global warming is totally a hoax.)

5. How much I have learned about ADD  these last few weeks and how brains in people with ADD are wired completely differently. (Found some experts and it has been eye opening. Oh, and it’s very genetic.)

6. My growing desire to quit my marketing career and work at the Container Store. (For real.  My gig is sucking the life out of me molecule by molecule.  I’m over it.)container

7. My new book idea about 25 Suburban Women I Want to Punch in the Face. (The Container Store would actually be a great place for gathering book material now that I think about it.)

8. How weird this weekend is going to be for me.  (Sunday is mom’s birthday and anniversary of my sister’s death (same day – yes that’s messed up)_ and the Alzheimer’s Walk is this weekend too.  It will be the type of weekend when I go from laughing hysterically to crying hysterically at the drop of a hat and frighten onlookers unaware of my tendencies.)


9. The strangeness of celebrating my Mother’s birthday with her when she has no idea who I am, much less that it’s her birthday.   (Don’t make me go.  *&^%#@!! Ugh.)

Cake 01

10. The fact that  I’ve been eating and drinking much better (most days) since I started working with a personal trainer. (We’ll see how much longer I can afford her but I’m starting to really notice a difference.  Luckily I hear Container Store pays well.)

11. How cool my new, free to-do app called Wunderlist is.  (It’s free and it saves me from rewriting all my lists 200 times a day.  Probably an ADD tendency.)

12. The intense waves of homesickness I still get sometimes even though I’ve lived away almost ten years. (Not sure that ever goes away completely.)

13. How weird women are. (Except for me of course.)

14. How bizarre it feels to have to kids in high school and to not be needed to drive them to and from school.  (Is there such a thing as post-middle school depression?)

15. How Steno pads and kitchen scissors scissorremind me of my Mom.  (And will probably randomly make me cry this weekend because they’ll make me think of my Mom, which will then make me think of my sister and how much I wish she could go visit Mom with me on Sunday.)

That’s all for now folks.

Happy Hump Day.

Why I’m glad I didn’t punch anyone in the face today.

apalachicolaFor one thing, I’m sure I could have been arrested for assault and battery or something.

And the lawyer fees and such would be quite expensive and the whole process would have been quite a hassle  – making the punch hardly worth it.

Plus, I would have hurt my hand and I would have been embarrassed for losing my temper so easily.

Here’s the rundown of what happened:

I actually worked out this morning.  This is HUGE for me as I am out of shape and horrible about regular exercise.  And WAY out of practice.  And because my head was hurting after a tad too much wine last night with a friend.  Also because it’s been a hell of a last couple of weeks and I am fried.

But because I told my dear friend Yoda that I would go today, I sucked it up and went.  She takes me to her workout group sometimes with a trainer who leads a group of about five or six ladies for workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  Great group of people.  Except for the one I wanted to punch in the face today.  I know, I know… I sound so mean and severe.  Which is why you need more background.

So within the first 20 minutes, face punch gal corrects me on how I pronounced a place that I have been to many times, the Apalachicola area of Florida, which happened to come up in a conversation I was having with other people. She calls me out in front of the group and tells me that I mispronounced it  and proceeds to tell me slowly and loudly how Apalachicola is “actually pronounced.”  (I know, who does this?)  She tells me “there is no L at the end of Apalachicola.”  I irritatingly waved her off because I didn’t want to argue over something so ridiculous.  First off, there is an L in the end of Apalachicola.  Secondly, I’m a journalism major who strives to spell and pronounce things correctly, because I usually know how to.  Thirdly, who the heck cares if I even did mispronounce it, and why did she feel the need to correct me (wrongly at that) when I wasn’t even speaking to her?  I know this sounds petty, but It gets better.

For the next part of the workout, I got stuck on the mat next to face punch gal for several sets of exercises.  She proceeds to correct the way I was doing at least half of the exercises.  She even comments to the trainer that I wasn’t feeling the burn like she was since I was doing one of  the exercises incorrectly the whole time.  For real.  It gets even better.  And I hadn’t hit her yet.

Next, as she is seeing me struggle with keeping up with murderous abs exercises and hearing me actually grunt a little as I struggled to finish  (it was toward the end of our hour and remember, I am not in shape), I hear her ask the trainer why our workout was so easy today.  She confirmed that it would be harder on Friday and then asked if she could do some dead lifts with weights to make up for how easy the workout was.

It was right about that moment when if I could have physically mustered the strength to, I swear to you I wanted to punch her in the face repeatedly (metaphorically speaking of course).

I know I shouldn’t let people like this get to me, and I realize my wine headache probably wasn’t helping, but I don’t think people with such limited tact and social skills should be allowed to leave their houses, ever.

Thanks for your patience with my little face-punch rant, I know this was rather off-theme for me since I try to have some kind of grateful or positive slant to my posts as much as possible.

But some days, I’m just glad I didn’t punch anyone in the face.

Balancing the edge.

IMG_4396 What keeps me on the right side of the edge?  Calms me when the apprehension of a new school year wrought with challenges starts gnawing away at me?  Helps me breathe more slowly and fully when I’m feeling worried, overwhelmed or frustrated with humanity?

Monkey Dog does all this for me.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, this is no shocker.  She is my muse.  And her therapy abilities rival her monkey counter-surfing abilities, believe it or not.

Her office where this therapy takes place is in this little corner of my patio where I can listen to the sounds of the small song birds at my nearby feeder which hangs on my favorite tree, with her by my side.  Lucky for me, she requires no copay.

This is what keeps me from getting too close to the edge.

And why I am truly grateful.

Word Press Daily Prompt:  On the Edge.

“Sorry honey, I think you have the wrong mother.”


Little Red Riding Hood’s coat now hangs in her closet.

Before my long weekend get-away, I visited Little Red Riding Hood (aka Mom) in her dementia facility home last week.

My usual feelings of dread – and the pit in my stomach – had been building up as I anticipated my visit. I knew that once I saw her, the pit in my stomach would begin to dissipate into the smaller, more manageable pit that’s taken up permanent residence. Sweet Clone (my youngest son) offered to accompany me.  Having someone with me every now and then takes a little of the sting out of my visits.

We arrived and I punched in the code at the front door, where a much different reality exists beyond the threshold.  This is where I take a deep breath and swallow my trepidation for how the visit may unfold.

These days Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t recognize me. For the last two years she seemed to at least realize that I was someone she knew and someone who was nice to her.  Now it takes more effort to briefly catch her gaze once I track her down.  She’s usually rearranging silverware or dusting a table with a tissue.  Her head hangs low but she walks with surprising agility.

This time as we walked into her area of the facility, her roommate Amy (who scares me a little because she always looks angry even though I don’t think she is), was holding Mom’s arm and leading her toward me.  I just knew she was going to tell me that something was wrong.  (Mom has been irritating some of the other residents lately walking into their rooms and taking her shoes off to stand and gaze at them. I can understand their frustration  even if it isn’t that uncommon around there.)

Instead and to my surprise, after I said hi to Mom and tried to get her attention, Amy held Mom’s arm as if protecting her and told me that I must have the wrong mother.  That Mom couldn’t be my mother because she was actually her daughter.  She inquired about my last name as if to double check but then kept walking with Mom.

Christian, the sweet caregiver, told Mom’s roomate that I was indeed Mom’s daughter and wanted to visit.  She argued again, told me “Sorry, honey, you’ve got the wrong mother. It just can’t be.”  She explained that Mom was her daughter, and that she had not been herself this week, and therefore she needed to be taken care of.  And it was her job to do it.

I looked to Christian and nodded with a smile to let him know it was okay.  I softly touched Amy on the shoulder and thanked her for being so sweet and caring.  Her wide, smoky blue eyes met with mine  and her facial expression lightened, as if she suddenly realized I wasn’t going to take Mom away from her.

After chatting with Christian about how Mom was doing, checking her room and leaving her favorite Russell Stover’s Assorted Creams on her little bedside table, it was time to say goodbye.candy

I caught up with them again and Amy was still holding Mom’s arm lovingly as they strolled around the facility.  I stopped them to give Mom the longest and most loving embrace possible and I told her that I loved her.  I almost, for a second, felt the old her hugging me back.  Or maybe I was trying to wish it to happen.

I leaned down to capture her attention and tell her again how much I loved her.  I got a brief smile but she kept on walking.

Amy looked at me and smiled like she felt badly for me, and told me not to worry, that Mom “just hadn’t been herself lately.”

As we left, I smiled and was grateful that someone new was also watching out for my Little Red Riding Hood.

What do you hope someone knows? Tell them.


This beautiful moon presented itself to me from my driveway last week.

MacGyver lost his dad a week ago very suddenly.  He was only 66 years old.  We are still processing the shock of it all and our hearts are swollen with sorrow.

One of my best friends lost her dad the very same week.  And I heard two stories just yesterday of people who lost their young fathers suddenly.

I lost my sister when she was 36, my mentor when he was only 57 and one of my best friends when she was only 32.

I’m always saying that life is short but even I often  lose sight of just how fleeting and temporary it can be. We’re so lucky to be here right now and to have those in our lives right now.

One of the blogs I follow had a post recently that stressed the importance of focusing on the wonderful in those in our lives and not missing chances to tell people about the things in them that we appreciate.

I think MacGyver knows how much I appreciate, adore and respect him because I tell him constantly.  But I hope he knows I mean it with every ounce of my heart.

I hope my kids know the unmeasurable amount of love I have for them and how very proud I am of the young men that they are, even though we frustrate each other so often.  And how my heart breaks for them when they struggle,

I hope my Dad knows how wicked smart I think he is and how much his drive and determination inspire me. And I hope he knows how much I appreciate all he has done for me and taught me and that I wish I still lived down the street. I hope my Stepmom knows how much I appreciate that she is in my life and how much she has taught me through her grace and loving heart.

I hope my Stepdad knows how much I love and appreciate him and the way he has stood by my Mom.  And I hope that my Mom knows, or knew when she could, how much I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me, all the love that she gave me and all the things that she taught me which helped make me who I am.

I hope my friends know how much I appreciate them and their thoughtfulness, support and patience with me despite my myriad of idiosyncrasies.  How much I love to hear their voices or read texts or notes from them, and to learn from them and laugh with them until my face hurts.

I hope my oldest niece knows how much I treasure our relationship and that she realizes how wonderful I think she is.  I hope my nephews know how impressed I am with the young men they have become and how proud of them that I am.  And that my young nieces know how much I love them and look forward to watching them become young women.

I hope my cousins know how much I appreciate their efforts to stay connected and how happy I am to be part of their family tree.

I hope my Mother-in-law knows how much I appreciate how she raised such a wonderful man.  And that I appreciate her and love her.  And that my sister-in-law knows how much I love and care about her and wish we lived closer.

I know that my sister knows how much I miss her and keep her in my heart every day because I can feel her with me.  For that I am truly grateful.

And I hope that my father-in-law, who I called Big D, knew how much I loved and admired him.  How much I learned from him … not only about how to hang sheet rock or tile a bathroom at record speeds, but more importantly about keeping a positive mental attitude and always being willing to roll up his sleeves and give a helping hand to anyone who needed it.  I wish I had told him all that and more.  And I hope that he knew it in his heart.  I think he did.

What do you hope someone knows?  Tell them.

Something to help that ‘not so fresh’ feeling

FreshThere I was, sitting in the waiting room for my annual gynecological exam a few days ago.  (My puns are out of control here so don’t  worry – this isn’t going to be gross.)

At any rate, this visit is not my favorite of visits to make each year but something that feels good to check off the list.

But this visit seemed different than other visits before.  This time after I checked in with the perky but tired receptionist, I had to scan the very large waiting room for several minutes before finding the one, single empty chair surrounded by giddy and emotional pregnant 20- and 30-somethings staring at their ultrasound pics giggling.  I was literally surrounded.  And I was the only one taking advantage of the freshly brewed strong black coffee most likely because my days of having babies are a distant memory punctuated by the fact that next year I will have two kiddos in high school.

I sighed and texted a couple of friends to express how suddenly I felt like a yogurt in the fridge that had gone just past its expiration date.

When the nurse who I call Wonder Woman because she looks like Linda Carter (even though the waiting room full of preggos are too young to even know who that is) took my blood pressure, I asked her if I was the only non-pregnant person there.  She replied, “Yep, except for those of us who work here.”  I sighed and we giggled together as she assured me us ‘regular patients’ were still welcome.

So I was happily surprised to learn of something very fresh today. My last post,  “Recipe For: Life on Wry” has been Freshly Pressed!

To put this in perspective,  I tried to research a bit on Google about the odds of being Freshly Pressed, and VERY coincidentally found a conversation where someone was comparing the odds of being Freshly Pressed (the Holy Grail of Blogging, so to speak) to being the one sperm out of 200-600 million sperm that makes it to the egg.  Which I thought very appropriate given my not-so-fresh analogy.

To help me further grasp the odds, I discovered that there are currently 68,600,151 WordPress blog sites in the world. There are 37 million new blog posts each month. And WordPress editors select 8 of them each day to be Freshly Pressed. Being Freshly Pressed sends your blog visits and views through the roof and exposes your blog to oodles and oodles of other bloggers out there.

The odds of being Freshly Pressed are said to be about 12 per million on any given day.  And to have it happen for a second time in less than a year (my last one was “If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register”  last September – only published because I deleted the all caps DAMN IT at the end of the headline most likely – just kidding) … well that’s just math I don’t even know how to compute (I’m a Journalism major, after all).

So thank you WordPress,  and thank you patient and kind readers.

Remember, it’s all wry.  Otherwise life would be way too boring.

Message in a Drip Beef Sandwich

diamond jack'sI knew I needed to cook that big hunk of meat in my fridge before more time had passed.  I had a crockpot recipe for drip beef sandwiches at the ready, but it suddenly looked too complicated.  Or I hadn’t had enough coffee yet.  Or it was simply because I am a lazy cook.

I also knew my sister’s birthday was coming up, but I hadn’t realized today was June 11th yet as I quickly googled “easy quick drip beef crockpot recipe.”

Very first result out of twelve million, four hundred thousand possibilities was  Diamond Jack’s Drip Roast Beef Sandwich recipe.  My eyes filled with bittersweet tears.  And I realized what day it was.

Diamond Jack’s was a restaurant that was in Tulsa, OK for 47 years and just closed a couple of years ago.

This restaurant, which began in the 1960s, was a special place that my sister absolutely loved to take me to for their Drip Roast Beef Sandwiches, which were awesome.

I remember how proud she was to take her little sister out to lunch and to introduce me to people who we ran into.  She was so glad that I was living back in town and she loved treating me to lunch now that I was officially an adult with a job and all.  It didn’t happen often, but when these lunches took place, they were certainly special.

I haven’t even thought about that restaurant or those specific sandwiches in more than ten years.

But today, the day my sister would have turned 50 years old,  the day my sister would have hosted one hell of a fun party …  my sister reminded me that she was here with me …through a Drip Beef Sandwich recipe.  I know it to be true.  And so does my heart.

Ingredients for Diamond Jack’s Crock-Pot Drip Beef:

  • 4-5 lbs boneless beef rump roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon, granules
  • 2 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • garlic salt
  • pepper

Preparation of Diamond Jack’s Crock-Pot Drip Beef:

  1. Cut the visible fat from the rump roast. Place the roast in a large crock pot.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a 2-cup measure and bring to boil a microwave.
  3. Pour over the roast in the crock pot. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Cool before slicing.
  6. Chill au jus to remove the fat.
  7. Combine the sliced meat and au jus and reheat before serving.
  8. May also be cooked in oven: combine as above in Dutch oven. Cook 4-5 hours at 275-300 degrees.

A Fairy Tale of Vintage Charm and Vintage Plumbing.

When the pipes on the other side had to be replaced.

Spring in Colorado may take a bit longer to arrive, but its perfection makes every extra day worth its weight in gold.  And working in the yard delightfully distracts me from all the other things I need to be doing.

Yesterday as I was clearing leftover leaves from my garden,  I came across a torn piece of paper towel in the mulch, which brought back vivid memories of a little old house with vintage charm that I once knew …fairytale

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when life was carefree and butterflies danced in the air to fairy tale music, MacGyver and Wry bought their very first little house.  They had a very little budget with MacGyver continuing his education and only Wry working, so they wanted a very little house that needed a very, very big  amount of work to be done so that they could get a very, very good buy.  After all, they were quite handy, and they had quite kind and generous, able-bodied and skilled parents to help with the fixing up.


This little old 1927 Tudor Revival style house was in a little old neighborhood called White City, named after a dairy farm with white buildings long ago.  It had been on the market  for months as its condition looked so rough that most sane buyers kept on driving once they saw it.

A little old widow had lived in the house who clearly wasn’t able to handle the upkeep.

But Wry asked MacGyver to turn the car around and take another look.  She saw past the overgrown yard, the leaning white picket fence (for after all, it had a picket fence), the old blinds falling apart in the windows (after all, the windows were perfectly shaped and had wooden panes).  She saw past the swamp cooler falling off the side of a rotted window (for the window was surround by beautiful ivy) and she even overlooked the leaning detached garage (since after all, it was a garage).

house sign

Wry knew this little old house could be something grand. And that “a good deal” could quite assuredly be had. It was destined to shine like the gem it once was.

Its bones were beautiful, with arches in almost every room and golden oak floors begging to be set free from the weight of their fifty-year old sweater of carpet.  But this little gem also had very old electrical wiring, very old fixtures and a funky old swamp cooler that Wry and MacGyer didn’t dare try to revive.

Its green, flat wool carpet with swirl designs also had holes that had been burnt in a circle in a spot in the living room where clearly the little old widow or her late husband had smoked carelessly in what was probably a little old chair.  But most importantly for this little tale, this little old house had very old plumbing.


Naked Lady flower.

What the little old widow lacked in home maintenance skills, she made up for tenfold with her love and care of her flowers. The long and cracked driveway was flanked by a thick wall of pink Crepe Myrtles on one side and a flower bed the length of the whole little house on the other side.  The flower bed was brimming with peonies, luscious lilies, cheery patches of daisies, mounds and mounds of pink Sweet William, even some flowers called Naked Ladies and gorgeous roses of all variety.

Wry knew little of flowers and was thrilled that this garden that brought a smile to her face each time she drove up the long cracked driveway seemed to flourish all on its own.

She never thought about why the flowers did so well or just how fertile that ground must have been.  Until, that is, she began finding a little old scrap or two of paper near the beautiful rose bushes day after day.  And it seemed peculiar to her that they kept appearing right outside the window of the quaint little bathroom with little bitty, checkerboard black and white tiles that made her heart sing.

Fearing the worst, MacGyver asked Wry to go inside and flush the toilet (which was surrounded by the little black and white tiles that she loved to see).  He crawled under the little old house in the dingy, damp crawlspace and waited anxiously for the flush. Then a scream was heard and their fears were realized. MacGyver escaped the dark crawlspace unharmed, but quite wet and sad.

pipe fix

A proud MacGyver moment.

MacGyver and Wry learned that the little old sewer pipes of this little old house were made of a fibrous material which a grand inventor thought a good idea at the time of their invention.  These pipes, called Orangeburg, were later found to completely disintegrate over time and their use was discontinued long before this fairy tale began.

So, the mystery of how all those little flowers grew so very well along the side of the little old house with the picket fence and wooden pane windows had been solved.  The soil was the richest in the land, indeed.

After much toil and trouble, the little old sewer line that ran from that cute little bathroom with the little bitty black and white tiles all the way under the long cracked driveway and past the pink Crepe Mrytles was anew.  Wry and MacGyver lived there happily ever after until years later when they outgrew their little old house.  By then the garage and picket fence stood proudly upright, the golden oak floors gleamed, and the little black and white tiles, even with a crack or two, remained perfectly in tact.

And the moral to the story?  Never underestimate the unpolished and the unrefined. It’s often worth a second look.  With a little love, a lot of labor, and a square or two of toilet paper, it just might bring you years of joy and little old memories.

The End.

Seven bad things from my Madrid trip.

IMG_3983Here we go.  The only seven ‘bad’ things about my trip to Madrid:IMG_4025

1. One pound gained from wine.  At least. Because I didn’t want to be rude and therefore was forced to participate in the Spanish tradition of five o’clock all the time.IMG_4013IMG_3980

2. One pound gained from ham, ham and more ham.  Same rationale.  Jambone everywhere –  legs of it hanging in bars and on racks everywhere.  See photo where gal is slicing it off of the leg on the rack connected to the counter.  I know my vegetarian friends are passing out right now, sorry.  It was damn good ham.

3. One pound gained from the dessert cart on my upgraded business class flights. Embarrassingly excessive amount of food and drink offered.  No excuse readily available.


4. One pound or so gained from official tapas including stuffed mushrooms, squid in its own ink sauce, you name it.  Again, I did not want to be rude. (Probably lost a few of you on that squid in ink thing too, but it was actually tasty.)


5. One pound gained from the yummy, soft white bread that was served with everything.  Couldn’t hurt any bread baker’s feelings.

6. One pound gained  from olives and peppers galore that usually came with beer which I’m sure had no calories at all. Sometimes the skewers were topped with big furry looking anchovies to boot.  (Sorry, now I’m just messing with my squeamish friends.)

7. I’m telling myself at least one pound gained in water weight from being in a plane for so many hours.

I must say, those were the best seven pounds I’ve ever gained and I would gain them all over again.  Life is altogether too short, as I am reminded often.

What were the best pounds you’ve ever gained?

ps: Check out the awesome clouds that rolled in and changed the sky background in the last photo, taken from the same spot as the first.IMG_3986

Conversation with a Tree.

solo treeTrees that stand alone,

Of all ages and types.

Whisper to me,

And remind me to breathe,

With perspective anew.

Silent and strong,

Unwavering against the wind,

Trying to bend and break.

Reaching up to the sky,

And the gracious sun.

Thankful to be.

Do trees speak to you?