Thursday, October 25, 2012


I didn't say I hated politicians. After all, one should not hate anyone one does not know, and the few I do know seem to be nice people. One congressman from Illinois I have known since he was a wee tot, and he is a terrific person. But I am sick to death of them as a general rule, and some of the reasons I am is not because of them, but because of the way the system is set up. In light of the upcoming election, the "most important one we have ever faced" (according to some, but then they say that pretty much every 4 years), this opportunity presents itself to make my position perfectly clear.

As mud.

ONE:  According to Merriam Webster, one definition of "tribalism" is the exaltation of the tribe above other groups. This is a simple and pointed description of party politics. Tribalism in a nice suit. If you are a loyal member of Party X, then anything anyone from Party Y says is bullshit. You couldn't possibly concede that they have any brains in their heads much less support any of their positions, even if they are perfectly sensible and fair.

I see this from both Democrats and Republicans (alpha order). How often do your hear one of them agreeing with someone from the other party? Sure, it happens, but not often enough. People in your own party are, by default, intelligent and rational, whereas anyone from the other party must be narrow, irrational, and slightly stupid. Oh, and let's not forget unAmerican.

How many in the House and Senate have that lovely "I" after their name? Not many, because we live in a 2-party system. If you aren't one or the other, you have about as much chance of getting elected as the cast of Jersey Shore. Where are all our open-minded, bipartisan elected officials? Oh, that's right. They can only be open-minded with people who agree with them.

I like Facebook. After all, it brought me together with the man I love to bits. But as I scroll through the news feed on Facebook, I see this play out in the highly partisan, inaccurate, and misleading posts people put up there. Elections can bring out the worst in people, especially when there are sides to be taken. Someone, who at any other time is perfectly sane and sensible, will happily buy into whatever their "leaders" tell them to think.

I tried to find a picture to illustrate this concept of tribalism in politics, but they all would have had me appear to be incredibly racist.

TWO:  Candidate A voted to take away Grandma's pension. Candidate B voted to eliminate school lunches for hungry kiddies. Really? Do you really think these candidates wake up each morning and wonder how they can screw over the people today? Here's the problem. No one's voting record can be trusted. Why? Because the things that they vote on have so many completely unrelated items tacked on to them, you can never tell which of the dozens of issues their vote is targeting. Candidate Z has voted "yes" on a bill that provides funding for something like finding homes for orphans on page 73, but somewhere else in that bill, buried in hundreds of pages that no one reads on page 419, is wording that grants the CEOs of large corporations immunity from prosecution. Suddenly, his opposition screams that Candidate Z is pro big business and pro CEO protections when all he was thinking about were the poor little orphans. But bills today ARE that large, and they ARE that complicated, and they DO contain things that the sponsors would be ashamed to bring forward in the full light of day on their own. So huge and complicated are most bills now that most legislators don't read the whole thing and have no idea what's in it. They only know the small piece that pertains to their vote.

Remember how pork projects get pushed through - buried inside the reams of pages for something else sure to get a lot of votes but that has NOTHING to do with piggy's funding? If we had single-item bills, and each issue or request for funding was forced to stand on its own merit, there would be a lot less legislation trying to get passed, because the sponsors would think twice before trying to get millions for a bridge to nowhere to appease their constituents so they can get re-elected. End result? Maybe a lot less government and a lot less wasteful spending.

THREE:  Campaign finances. Face it. Remember what you were told in school as a child? That America is the land of opportunity where anyone can be anything they want to be? Balderdash! Only a rich person can become the President. Do we really listen (and let it sink in) when it is reported how much the candidates are spending on their campaigns? The MILLIONS that get spent mean only two things:
  • The candidate has to be rich.
  • The candidate has raised MILLIONS by making promises to rich contributors. If elected, s/he will spend much of their term catering to the whims of their money sources so the funding will be there for the next election.
Sigh, I hate to sound so disillusioned. Like when my sisters ganged up on me and told me that, not only was there no Santa Claus, but the Easter Bunny was bogus too. I was 6. And I still remember.  

FOUR:  Politicians always tell you what they will do once elected. Remember though, the President has little regulatory power on his own. He can introduce a bill, veto a bill, serve as Commander in Chief (whatever that means), name his own cabinet, make his wishes known, make suggestions, strongly urge, make sweeping pronouncements, and curry favor, but he cannot create jobs, declare war, or reduce taxes. He pretty much has very limited power to do much of anything without the approval of The House or Senate or both. In fact, most of what politicians claim they will do or what they claim they have done will be or was accomplished by Congress. So, all those grandiose campaign promises are a lot of smelly wind.

FIVE: We hire them to do a job, but all too often, instead of doing what is in the best interest of, oh say, their constituents, it seems they are focused more on doing whatever they need to do to get reelected.

Having said all this, I will refrain from hitting the "Like" or "Comment" button for any political posts on Facebook until the election is over and we have a president (old or new) who still doesn't have as much power as people seem to think. On second thought, maybe I will refrain forever.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


First of all, let me apologize in advance for the length of this post. I can get pretty verbose at times, but this is important to the lives and futures of a lot of kids. I am speaking my own opinions. I do not speak for my employer on this site, although I am not alone in these views.

For just a minute, let's pretend. Let's pretend I have a daughter who is intellectually gifted. Mensa material kind of gifted. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theo.....well, maybe not THAT gifted, but close. My local school system doesn't have any accelerated programs that can address her advanced needs. I hear of a special boarding school that has lots of other kids that are as advanced as she is, lots of opportunities for her that it would be very difficult for me to provide, and staff who specialize in gifted kids. And, I don't have to pay! The price is covered through other sources of funding. Plus, I can go see her whenever I want and she can come home for visits.

Would I send her? I certainly would consider it a really, REALLY good option.

Would I want a government entity or education advocate telling me that the boarding school is a bad choice, that instead I have to pick between two other choices that they claim are far better:
  • I have to home school her instead. And, oh, don't worry, we'll send you another teacher to help, and she'll show up most of the time, but she might not specialize in advanced kids. And if she can't come, her replacement will be hard to find and, even then, might not know how to teach advanced kids either. But this is much better! Really!
  • I have to send her to a tiny school with only 3-4 other classmates instead. She won't get the same level of peer interaction, forget about all the extra opportunities, and the staff might not be such experts in advanced education. But this is much better! Really!
Now, if my child didn't have all these advanced educational needs, either one of those two options may work out just fine, but please don't tell me the option of the excellent boarding school with excellent teachers, lots of oversight, and lots of opportunities has been taken away from me. Don't I, as a parent, need choices?

I'm not really talking about education here. But this is the type of scenario playing out in the world of people with severe and profound disabilities.

To be able to visualize the type of disabilities I am talking about, let me give you a snapshot. The most common diagnosis is spastic, quadriplegic cerebral palsy with all that entails. With some exceptions to each of these that follow, a typical child is dependent on a wheelchair as she can't walk or even sit without total support. She can't speak, has minimal or poorly controlled voluntary movement, visual and/or hearing deficits, respiratory problems, orthopedic problems (such as scoliosis, dislocating hips, and contractures), significant spasticity, a feeding tube, seizure problems, and incontinence. She will require total care for the rest of her life, which will most likely be shortened due to all her medical issues. She is considered medically fragile.

First, let me say that the best place for anyone with disabilities is in a loving home that has access to all the resources necessary to provide for their loved one. But, even the strongest families can easily become overwhelmed. These resources include......
  • Financial - taking care of these kids can be very expensive. Medicaid waivers (which provide funding and resources for people with disabilities at home) are awfully hard to come by. The equipment is expensive. Usually, there is a family member who isn't working (or working part-time) to be able to stay home and be the caregiver.
  • Medical - you need doctors and a hospital that have experience with complex care kids. You need access to specialized procedures. You need reliable and knowledgeable nursing help in the home. And you need these things nearby. Also, providing total care 24/7 is physically exhausting and easily leads to health problems or injuries for the caregiver.
  • Community - you need a good transportation system if you don't have an accessible van of your own. You need fun things to do that are accessible to wheelchairs. You need help to navigate and decipher the maze of paperwork associated with Medicaid funding.
  • Educational - you need teachers that know how to teach children with disabilities, not merely act as a glorified babysitter.
  • Spiritual - you need support systems that can help alleviate the stress that easily overwhelms families providing that level of care. Friends, family, support groups, pastoral care - all become vital. There is tremendous strain on marriages. Siblings often feel overlooked as much of the focus is on the child with disabilities. The caregiver's own personal needs are often ignored.
Second, let me say that I have some friends who have their children with severe disabilities at home, and they are making it work. They show incredible love and dedication and their children are happy and well cared for. They are also fortunate enough to live in an area where most of those resources are available. Even so, I see and hear of the constant struggles they have and it leaves me in awe of how they manage to cope. I wish all our kids had families like that. That does not, in any way, imply that our kids have families that don't measure up. We have very loving and dedicated families as well. But, some are from rural areas where those needed resources are sadly in short supply. Some parents have health problems of their own that make it near impossible to care for their loved one. Some parents are single and can't do it all on their own. But, they still love their children to bits and want the best for them. I am in awe of the lengths they go to to remain an active part of their children's lives.

I readily acknowledge that facilities for people with disabilities have had a long and checkered history. There are truly horrific stories of institutions that warehoused people and shuttered them away with heartless neglect. But, it really hasn't been that way for decades. To paint them all with the same broad brush of disdain and disapproval is just plain wrong, and to say that every larger facility should close and force all their residents home or into foster care or group homes is short-sighted and narrow-minded.

For every horror story of a large facility, there are an equal number of horror stories of foster and group homes. I have examples, lots of them, that I would be happy to provide. Does that mean that all foster homes are bad? No. Does it mean that all group homes are bad? No. Does that mean that advocacy groups should make that decision for all families? No!

There currently is a lawsuit between Virginia and the Department of Justice regarding the five state-run facilities for people that are generally much higher functioning than our kids. The lawsuit is peppered with negative language. Words like "unnecessary institutionalization", "isolated", and "segregated". All words that conjure up images of people huddled in corners, rocking back and forth, rarely seeing the light of day. I take great issue with this terminology.

The size of the building is not the issue. It's what goes on inside and outside its walls that is important. Our kids get outstanding medical care and have so many opportunities to be active members of the community, not only through community-based activities that are part of the life of any growing child, but through numerous events at the Home where the community comes to them. We have resources. We have space. Go ahead - find a foster or group home that has the Virginia Opera coming to perform one of their children's operas for the residents. Find one that hosts motorcycle groups, petting zoos, big celebrations, the Fire Department, professional sports teams, scout troops, or contestants from the Miss Teenage Virginia pageant. Oh my gosh, the list is huge, both in and out of the Home. How exactly does all this "isolate" and "segregate" the kids?

There are some very loud and strident voices in Virginia that want to shut down larger facilities and move everyone back home, into group homes, support living, foster care, etc. Most people with disabilities are at a much higher level of functioning than our kids, and for them, these may very well be good options. Sadly, in far too many foster care or group homes, the residents are little more than a source of  income. But even considering the best of them, in the world of complex care, medically fragile people, those are not usually viable options, and here's why:
  • There are group homes springing up like weeds these days. Most are run by small (usually owned by a few people), private, for-profit companies, and most won't take our kids. Our kids cost a lot of money to take care of. They have to have nurses and expensive equipment. This would cut into their profits. "So sorry, we don't provide skilled nursing services."
  • Most foster situations aren't equipped to care for medically fragile kids. "So sorry, we're not trained in skilled nursing services."
See the problem? And that's just when they graduate from pediatrics to the world of adults. What about the kids who had to be removed from their families due to abuse or neglect? What about those families that don't have the ability to care for the kids at home because their area has no (or precious few) resources? What about those parents who, for whatever reason, just can't do it? What about those who have no alternative? Where do they go for help?

We're not looking to take anyone's child away from them. We're there to provide a safe and loving environment for those who have no alternative, for as long as they need us. We're there to give parents a choice if, for whatever reason, they feel unable to provide for their child needs. And, next to home, I feel we're the best choice.

I have another perspective on this. I have recently become the legal guardian of one of our graduates. He was brought to us when he was 3, and we never heard from his parents again. Phones were disconnected, mail was returned. You can't force someone to be a parent, especially when the disabilities are so overwhelming. I have known him since he was 4, and he was in the custody of social services most of his life, but when he turned 21, he had no one. He is now 24 and in a group home. It's a very nice group home. He gets out 3-4 times per month, but he doesn't have nearly the services and opportunities he had while he was with us. He has no therapist overseeing his wheelchair, splinting, and positioning needs. He doesn't have all his brothers and sisters around him for lots of peer interaction. He doesn't have nearly the opportunities for community interaction (both in and out of the Home), and his group home doesn't have near the level of oversight that we do. Is his life somehow better now that he is out of the big, bad "facility" and into the (somehow) idealized setting of a small group home? NO! Being in that group home has somehow integrated him into the

I welcome, ask for, and encourage comments about this. If you have another perspective, please give me a rational argument. I especially would welcome opinions from those inspirational friends who are raising their special needs kids at home, those awesome moms who have kids with us, and any co-workers that love our amazing kids.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


M&M recently posted to his blog after, oh, maybe about a YEAR! So, after a whole year of life experiences, what does he choose to write about? He was BESMIRCHING my good name, MOCKING (in his opinion) my unnatural fixation on bathrooms. I beg to differ. Bathrooms are important. Who's with me here?

I KNOW Sista G is mentally high-5'ing me on this, right?


(I am also into selected capitalizations today.)

When we went to New Hampshire last year, we stayed in a very nice little one-room cabin. Had most everything we needed. I had only 1 complaint. Well, possibly 2. Ummm, maybe 3. Make that 4.
  • Complaint #1 - the shower stall was tiny, so you could NEVER escape from the water. It was impossible to soap up, because as soon as you got some lather on your washrag or in your hands, it got rinsed off by the showerhead of doom. You either had to plaster yourself against the cold sides of the shower, or you had to turn the water off when you wanted to spread lovely smelling suds all over. And speaking of, there was another reason you had to turn the water off between rinsings, which leads me to....
  • Complaint #2 - the hot water heater was about the size of a wine glass. If you didn't follow the above steps, you'd be rinsing off those delicious suds with FRIGID water. Northern New Hampshire frigid. THAT lesson was learned pretty daggum quick.
  • Complaint #3 - there was no sink in the bathroom, so we had to do our hocking & spitting in the KITCHEN sink. That's just wrong. 
  • Complaint #4 - it was very difficult to wash clothes. And since we did a lot of hiking, we got kinda dirty. I didn't bring 5 pairs of jeans with me, and, silly spoiled me, I wanted some clean clothes. I like clean underwear. Won't have that problem this time though, because one of two things will happen. Either we will get a place with a washing machine, or I will be bringing along one of my latest purchases (bought on account of the power is known to go out for long periods of time at my house during a hurricane). THAT report will wait until I actually use it.
So, see? Bathrooms are important to quality of life. I am but a simple woman and my needs are few, but I want a toilet that flushes.
This would NOT qualify.

I want a bathroom sink to spit in, a shower with sufficient hot water and space, and I want it to be clean. This WOULD qualify. 

It's supposed to be a vacation after all, not hardship duty. Really, is that too much to ask for? It's not like I'm asking for a whirlpool tub & a bidet & a personal masseuse, after all.

Next, I guess I need to explain the map-love to him.

Thursday, July 12, 2012



After my last post of whining about not having enough "me time",
being the imminently fair-minded person I am,
I figured that "together time" warranted some equal billing,
even though it  sounds nauseatingly corny.

I have a hopeless case of wanderlust.
I live to travel.
I work to travel.
I travel for work.
I travel for fun.
And even though my job affords lots of travel within Virginia & DC,
I don't have a lot of free daylight hours to go see everything I want to see.
It's better than nuthin' though.
Problem is, I want someone else there with me.
Someone I can elbow in the ribs and say "Ooo, looky looky!"

And NOW?!
Now I have M&M, who loves to travel as much as I do,
and it's a whole lotta fun to look at the maps to see where we want to go next...

"Oh look, hotel prices are dirt cheap at the Jalalabad Marriott. We can use your Rewards card!"
"Well, I kinda had my heart set on the world's largest ball of string next."

See? So many choices!

Next is Boone/Blowing Rock/Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
We each have independent good memories of the place.
Time to make some of our own.

"You want me to climb all the way up where??? Are you nuts?"
"C'mon, the sun will be coming up soon. The day is half gone already!"
 "It's WHAT:30 in the morning???? "

That's a pretty much my typical expression in the morning.
But I kid.
I have nothing against getting up early...
when I can see something like this.

But, later that day...

"Oh my gosh, I have to pee!! Where is the nearest bathroom?"
"What do you mean you have to go? You just went an hour ago."
"I'M OLD!"
"Dumplin', we're 3 miles from the ranger station."

If I had different gonads, this would not be a problem.

BS having his "ahhh" moment at the Grand Canyon. He put it up on Facebook, so he can't complain if I put it here, right?

I need to remember to pack my GoGirlTM.
I will, of course, bring a flower with me for that whiff of freshness.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This one is a bit tricky to write, since I DO NOT,
in any way, want it to sound like I don't want M&M around.
I do.
For the rest of my life.

I spent loads of years griping and complaining that I was lonely, especially after BS went off to college.
Hated it.
I had more "me time" than I knew what to do with, so much that I got sick of myself.
A lot.
There weren't many surprises anymore - I was too much like me.
I usually knew what I was going to do & say, and when I talked to myself,
I would always politely answer back, so the conversation was missing that...oh, I don't know..
that crucial element of...another person!
And I always laughed at my own jokes, even if the sound of my own voice was getting a little boring.
Know what I mean?

It's not that I was looking for romance.
I just wanted a friend to do things with.
A buddy, a pal, maybe with occasional benefits (I didn't just say that. Nope, I didn't),
but no one that was around ALL the time.
Romance meant accountability.
Without it, I could still do what I wanted, eat when I wanted, sleep when I wanted,
and have a bowl of cereal for dinner because I didn't want to cook.
Didn't have to explain myself to anyone.
That kind of freedom was something I didn't want to totally give up.
Sounds like I am contradicting myself, doesn't it?

I have been eating some those words lately, a lot, but dipped in chocolate to make them more delicious.
M&M & I didn't really spend much time "dating" before we became inseparable,
before we decided to cohabit, before we agreed we were in this for the long haul.
And even though I'm not giving him up, he is around all the time.
So much for the whole accountability thing.
So much for the whole " one that was around ALL the time" thing.

But as much as I love him, and love him being here, I still need some "me time".
It went from all "me" to "us" pretty quickly.
And he needs "me time" too, but he's not quite as annoying about it as I am.
Luckily, the travel in my job gives me some time to myself,
even though I am not by myself often when I travel.
I usually stay with family, so I am still surrounded.
The "me time" comes during the long drives when I can again have witty reparté with myself.
And on my day off (most weeks I have Fridays off), I can vegetate with myself to my heart's content.

So, did I sound like a whiny baby?
It is getting better.
I am learning how to have a co-pilot instead of flying solo.
I am learning to trust.

(That picture is so sweet I think I need a wad of insulin)

Friday, June 1, 2012


Back last year when M&M & I were tiptoeing into the waters of getting to know each other again after 40-odd years, we would go walking on the beach a the morning...the EARLY morning, before the crowds & heat. Sounds romantic, eh? Au contraire. Let me paint a picture... The sun was barely up when he would pick me up for the morning walk. I have on attire that is not the most flattering, to say the least, as I had spent the last few years getting squishy around the edges. Oh okay, in the middle too, so I welcomed the exercise, asked for the exercise. Trouble is, his legs are stronger than mine, and he likes to go fast. So not only am I huffing & puffing to keep up, I am sweating like something unpleasant in the meantime. I can't help it that I have an overly enthusiastic thermoregulatory system. Always have. It's a wonder he didn't keep going & leave me behind, red-faced & dripping. But, no, he is a gentleman and, sooner or later, would realize I wasn't beside him anymore and either wait patiently for me to catch up or circle back.

That was on the weekends. During the week, after he got off of work, we would go to Oak Grove Lake Park and walk. Beautiful place. I highly recommend it. Even so, as we finished our walks, I was again hot & huffing & sweaty and he is dry & breathing easy. REALLY??? Exactly how is this fair? Should be the other way round, I'm thinkin'. Later, when he got his bicycle, we would go bike riding. And guess what? He likes to ride fast too. But, again, he restrains himself from channeling Lance Armstrong & shooting ahead, leaving me to eat his dust. I hold him back, I know I do, yet he doesn't complain.

Don't get me wrong. This was not all his idea. I asked him to push me a little, to get me out of my comfort zone, to make it just a bit uncomfortable. I NEEDED to get back in shape. Oh oh, and when we went to New Hampshire for a week in October, he somehow convinced me that what I really wanted to do was climb Mt. Washington. What was I thinkin'? Gave it my best try, really I did, but I didn't make it. He was only grumpy for a couple hours afterward. He really wanted to make it all the way to the top. There was only the tiniest grumble as he said he still loved me anyway.

I didn't take this picture of the trail up the mountain. I was too busy trying to breathe & stay on my feet. 
Oh, and this is the easy part of the trail.

Then after we got back home, my hip started giving me fits. It felt like a hot knife stabbing me, so I did what any good therapist would do. Nothing. The doctor was only going to tell my I had torn some cartilage, and the only successful treatment so far is surgery. No thanks. So all winter, we didn't do much, with 2 results:
   1) The hip is much better now, with only occasional shenanigans and a rare hot-poker-stab.
   2) We both got squidgy.

The time is upon us to fix that. Walking & riding. Me getting red-faced & sweaty, him staying dry & unsmelly. Last weekend we rode in Seashore State Park (that's the name I grew up with and that's the name I'll always call it). The rest of the city is flat as a pancake, but there? Damn hills. My knees were barking at me the next day something fierce. Tomorrow we go to the Jamestown Island Loop Drive via the sumptious Colonial Parkway with our bikes. Gorgeous ride. Supposed to be gorgeous weather. And so it begins again....

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I don't think it's any secret anymore that M&M & I are cohabiting with no plans on making it official. Rebel geezers, YEAH! As it turns out, it seems we're not that unusual anymore, as this article he sent me seems to sum up pretty well. But that leaves me with a problem. Granted, it's a problem only in my mind, but still, it bugs me. I'm thinking about this because this weekend is Mother's Day.

My problem is labels. I find the term 'boyfriend' just a tad juvenile and inaccurate. Juvenile because, for people of our steadily advancing years, he is no more a 'boy' than I am a 'girl'. Inaccurate in that it completely understates the commitment we have made to each other. So, what then?

Significant Other? Hate it!

Partner? That has connotations. The kind that would make some people assume M&M is missing a critical appendage.

Pair-Bond? Puh-leez.

Mate? My offspring would think of the verb form of the word & throw up a little in his mouth.

Shack-up Sweetie? Don't think my mother would like that one.

Sometimes when I am out traveling doing my work thing, I will just refer to him as my husband because it's easy & I can avoid questions. A lot of people assume we're married anyway, so is it really a big deal? Heck, I even got a message on my answering machine yesterday asking for Mr. or Mrs. XXXX (MY last name!). Oops, I forgot to tell him about that. Guess he'll find out now.

And what to call the family? Technically, they aren't in-laws, but his younger brother has taken to referring to me as his sister-in-law (even on Facebook, for all the world to see!), a fact which touches my heart more than I can say. I gave his sweetheart of a dad a birthday card with his name on the envelope. He looked at it and said "Who is this? It doesn't say "Dad." Awwwww. Do I get his mom a Mother's Day card? Of course. His parents have embraced me as part of the family even though I'm not....really. But does it say "Mom" or something more generic, like "To a special person that is part of my life now but I don't want to presume" type thing? Aaaaack!

M&M tells me I way over-think things and work myself up into a dither. He is totally right. I will chew & gnaw on something until I am so frustrated I start to foam at the a figurative sense. And this is another issue that will cause me to stew & furrow my brow until he wants to whack a figurative sense.

There needs to be a label for old rebel geezers like us, because somehow I don't think "Person-With-Whom-I-Am-Living-in-a-Committed-Yet-Non-Legally-Binding-Relationship" is going to cut it.

Oh, and just to clarify, I have NO idea how he refers to me to other people when I'm not around. Maybe I don't want to know?

Thursday, April 26, 2012


This might be the first of many posts about things that annoy me. But, to be fair, I have to say something nice at the end. Hmmph.

Thank you elderly lady in the Honda. Thank you average-looking guy in the Ford. You both managed to make my drive on an otherwise beautiful, bucolic, 2-lane, undivided byway MISERABLE. Neither one of you could manage to squeeze out those last few miles per hour to even GET TO THE SPEED LIMIT?


I confess, I am impatient when driving somewhere with a time deadline. But even with buckets of time, AT LEAST I GO THE SPEED LIMIT!!

The NICE thing to do? If you can't go the speed limit & it's obvious someone behind you wants to go faster (and there were precious few passing zones on all those hills), PULL OVER! And while we're on the subject, even if there are multiple lanes, if you're going to go slow, GET OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!

Sorry for the yelling. I've been wanting to do that all afternoon.
Inconsiderate drivers come in many guises. The tailgater, the weaver, the leadfoot who NEVER gets pulled, the road rager, the timid & overly cautious, the brake-rider, the brake-for-no-reasoner, the I'm-not-paying-any-attentioner, the litterer, the cut-you-offer, the crooked parker. Did I miss any?

I, of course, never do any of those things. Ever. That's my story & I'm sticking to it.

That car in the left lane in the picture above? That is, of course, me.

Something nice: when you have the opportunity & time, get off the interstate ("Get off the interstate Ben Stone" - obscure movie reference). Explore the byways & drink in nature. Virginia has some truly beautiful back roads.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A little over a year ago, I took a new job at the Home, part of my reinvention.
This position came with a lot of opportunities for travel throughout Virginia.
Oh my gosh, this was great - ROAD TRIP!!
Adding to that happiness, I can find sprinklings of family and friends to see all over the state. 

 This isn't Virginia, but it's a road.

I was happier than a puppy with two peters.
(obscure movie reference - who knows it?.............hint? Billy Crystal)

Got to see more of BS, BNs (beloved nieces), BBS (beloved big sister) & BC (beloved cousin).
I was content. Life was good again. Then the added bonus...

A mere weeks into the new job, M&M entered my life again after a hiatus of 38ish years.
After a few months, he was becoming indispensable.
And now, even though I still love the travel, I get lonely for him when I'm gone.
The upside is that, not only do I usually get to see beloved people when I'm away
(since I can often stay with them),
but I have a beloved person waiting for me when I come home.
Don't that make the homecoming sweet! Much better than coming home to an empty house.

The traveling will continue.
It's a good thing, though.
If he didn't get a break from me every once in awhile,
he would soon realize that I don't really have anything all that interesting to say.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


I had forgotten.
Forgotten the fine art & tact of parent juggling.

One thing I remember about being married was the dance we had to do with the families,
all of whom lived nearby. There was my mom in Virginia Beach, my dad in Kitty Hawk,
and his mom in Chesapeake, not to mention some assorted siblings.
Holidays were a confusion of 3 households. Figuring out whose turn,
where do we go in the morning, who do we see in the afternoon, what about dinner...
I can't remember when we woke up on Christmas morning in our own house.
But, for the past 25 years, I only had to shuffle my parents. 2 are much easier than 3.

Now, I am part of a twosome again. M&M's parents live here too. And so the dance begins anew.
Sometimes we'll luck out & one or more of them will be out of town. It happens.
My dad & stepmother are prone to go bike riding in Europe on occasion, as they did this Easter.
(Oh, and my father is 82. I want to be biking in Belgium when I'm 82.)
His parents may go out of town to see the other kids & grandkids, as they did at Christmas.

We did insist on Christmas morning at home this year. It will be perfect when BS is here too.

I may grumble, but I'm very glad they are all still here, and relatively healthy.
I'd rather contend with the juggling than the alternative.

I love them all.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Today, I am rebelling against Vogue, Jimmy Choos, and Cover Girl, and all other purveyors of making women feel like they aren't good enough without thin bodies, high heels & painted faces. But first, a little back story.

I have always been rebellious, though not always in a good way. If someone told me I had to do something, or I really should do something, and they didn't give me a good reason, or the reason was "That's how it has always been done", I was bound & determined not to do it. These usually had to with two things: gender roles and worrying about how something "looks" (the "What will people think?" type of comments). Trouble is, some of those things I really should have done, and sometimes there were consequences.

So, in the process of reinventing myself, it's not that I am suddenly rebelling, I've just reached the point in my life where, if someone doesn't like what I do or how I look, that's their problem, not mine. Mostly, anyway. The "reinvention" part is that, in doing this, I am fighting myself and a lifetime of cultural & familial brainwashing.

I'm talking about these:

The unique combination of the four essential nucleotides that came together to form my DNA was somewhat unfortunate in one teeny weeny area. At least, in the grand scheme of things, it is teeny weeny, but it has caused me a lifetime of insecurities. I refer to certain aspects of my appearance, namely:
  • Pale, freckly skin
  • Spaces in my teeth.
  • Bad eyesight.
  • Frizzy/curly red hair.
  • Eyebrows & eyelashes that are blonde, hence, invisible.
Ah, thank you. I can feel your "awwww" of sympathy way over here.

Some of these I have dealt with, but during those awkward years, especially when I wore horn-rimmed glasses & braces, I bore the brunt of a lot of not-so-goodnatured teasing. Seriously. Remember these pictures?


Freckles aren't considered so bad anymore.
Braces & laser surgery took care of the teeth & eyesight.
Now my curly red hair seems to be the envy of a lot of female types, ALTHOUGH, as I get older & a lot more white creeps in, I have been called a blonde by more than one idiot. Damn.

The only thing that stumps me is the blonde eyebrows & eyelashes. If not for regular cosmetic shenanigans, it looks like I don't have any. Really, people look kind of odd without eyebrows, doncha think? So, I have been taught to think that I have to wear eye makeup to look normal. If I don't, I get comments like "Are you sick?" or "Gee, you look tired." Thanks a lot. To avoid making small children recoil in fear, I dye my eyebrows every other week or so. I lip gloss. I mascara & eye line. I do all those things culture told me I had to do to look acceptable. All to keep me from looking pale, sickly & wan.

Enter M&M. Bless his heart, since day 1, he has told me that I don't need makeup. That I am beautiful without it. That he prefers me without the "false advertising"*. Have I ever said I love this man? And the best part is, I'm starting to believe him.

So, the rebellion is that I no longer wear makeup every day. I even go to work sometimes without it, and, oddly enough, no one has run away screaming or passed out from the shock. I get really brave on occasion and leave it off when I go see my mother. I kind of look forward to hearing the sigh of sad resignation (part of the rebellion). And the deliciousness of being able to rub my eyes whenever I want is indescribable. I kind of like this rebellion, although I will continue to dye my eyebrows. I have my limits. Next, maybe I'll make my hair red again. What do you think?

Oh, and what caused me to think about all this. My good friend Russ, to raise money for cancer, participated in a drag pageant and was enlightened by the beauty regimens women put themselves through. He wrote a terrific article about it here. Go read it.

*false advertising - wearing cosmetics and looking lovely, but then taking them off and making people go "Aaack!"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The Tide is AWESOME!

Oh my gosh, did I just say that? Me, who was pretty skeptical of the whole light rail thing?
Let me look... yes I did.

I succumbed because I wanted to pay a visit to my favorite almost-17-year-old boy,
who just happens to have gotten himself sick & landed in the hospital.

(I've written about him numerous times. Just search "Brandon" and the screen will fill up.)

He is in Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters,
part of the medical complex that is the end of the line for the Tide.
The stop near St. Mary's is at the other end, and parking is plentiful and FREE.
"Self," I said, "let's just give this thing a try and see if it was worth all the delays,
budget overruns & controversy"
So, I drove all of three blocks to the FREE parking lot (did I say that parking is free?)
and bought myself a ticket.

I figure that for the $3 I spent on the ticket, which would have let me ride the Tide all day,
saving on gas, wear & tear on my engine/oil/tires, parking at the hospital
(which is NOT free, except for parents of the kiddies that are there),
and the aggravation of rush hour traffic getting out of the city, I was ahead of the game.
It might not be as fast as driving, but the difference was not worth worrying about.
Yes, it has stops along the way, but it doesn't stay at any of them any longer than
I would have sat at any of the numerous stop lights there & back.

Here's the deal. It is pretty much convenient to everything downtown.
It either puts you off by the door of, or within a little bitty walk of,
Norfolk State,
Harbor Park,
the Norfolk city offices,
MacArthur Mall,
Scope/Chrysler Hall,
the Norva & the Roper,
all the funky restaurants on Granby,
the YMCA & surrounding buildings,
and the medical complex at the end of the line.

And it was FUN! And relaxing, not having to drive.
The trains are clean, quiet, and go at a pretty good clip along the highway.
They run often, so there isn't much of a wait.

This is the second time I have posted something good about Hampton Roads Transit.
Long ago, I wrote about how good the Handi-Ride service has been for us (and our parents)
to take our kids out into the community.
Now the Tide. They should pay me.

Now, if they would only extend it to, say, to ODU, the Navy base, the Zoo,
that would be even more awesome.

And, Virginia Beach?
Get with the program.
Run it to Town Center, Princess Anne Plaza, Lynnhaven Mall, Hilltop, the oceanfront.
Can you imagine the ridership it would have, especially in the summer, if it went to the beach?
Really, that's what keeps a lot of locals away in the summer -
trying to park may actually make your brains explode.

But, here's what I don't understand.
I bought a ticket. I boarded the train.
No one asked for my ticket. Nowhere was there a machine to insert my ticket.
The young lady sitting by me said that they will do random ticket checks.
If you don't have one, it is a $250 fine.
Still, it seems risky. There are a lot of dishonest people who would take that chance.

Friday is my brother's birthday, and he will celebrate, as he always does,
with a gathering of his friends at the Monastery downtown.
Parking will be a nightmare on Friday night, so, I'm thinkin', maybe.....
It will only be a walk of a block or 2 from the Monticello stop to the restaurant.
Of course, I am taking the liberty of speaking for M&M, but he'll go along.
Huh, sweetie?

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. When you insert money to buy a ticket,
it gives you change in dollar coins!

I LOVE dollar coins!
There are a few missing though. Some of them got Brandon a happy get well balloon and
tipped the nice people at the local non-chain pizzeria.
The rest went to our coin jar. Makes us feel rich :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


A friend's computer was recently infected with the computer version of Ebola.
Caused it to crash & burn.
I think there were actually flames shooting out of it's dual high-speed USB ports.
It's the stuff of nightmares, I tell ya.

But it got me to thinking how dependent I am on this blasted machine.
Email, Facebook, word games, my daily jigsaw, Wikipedia,
Google, You Tube, online banking, online shopping.

Need I go on?

But, pretty soon, M&M & I will be venturing out to the high country.

There will be mountains involved.

But not these.


But not these.

Mountain lakes.

But not this one.

Remote trails. Crisp, clean air.
I can feel the cares of daily life lifting already.

There will be lodging with no phones, no TV, no internet, no cell reception.
I can feel the potential for the shakes starting already.

So, this reinvention isn't really about going forward.
These boomers are going back in time.
Back to childhood pursuits.
Before all this technology that has us hooked.

Remember when we:

Played outside?
Looked for bugs, bunnies & butterflies?
Read books....made of paper & cardboard?
Weren't convinced we had to post every random thought that crossed our minds on Facebook?
Or that our friends & acquaintances really cared?

A weekend without technology. It will take awhile to prepare.
A weekend of bathing in mountain air and woods. I can't wait.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


By "independence", I'm not talking about being able to go out with friends anytime I want to or staying out all night if I want to or eating cheesecake for dinner. Not that I ever did those things all that often anyway. I'm talking about letting someone else share the load.

How long is it going to take to sink in? A man lives in my house. A man that knows how to do man things, like fixing stuff, lifting heavy objects, building things, and taking things apart then putting them back together. For 25 years, I was the one doing the man chores, and I'm not used to the fact that I don't need to be so independent anymore.

I don't always have to be the one with the screwdrivers & wrenches when the box says "Some Assembly Required".

I don't have to haul 40 lb. bags of salt home from the hardware store by myself because I'm too stubborn to connect to city water.

Someone here knows how to do wiring & plumbing & construction & assembly & guy stuff!

And he does these things for me because he WANTS to. He LIKES that kind of stuff. He roams around the tool section of Lowe's with the blissful look of Fat Albert at the Golden Corral.

(There's a Tim Taylor in there somewhere.)

Having a hard time getting used to that. I've never really had someone to help with that kind of stuff because they wanted to, so I learned to do it all myself. Well, not all. A lot of things just didn't get done, because I have a hard time asking for help. Anyway, back last summer, he crawled under the house to check out the bathroom pipes. 'Bout did me in. I figured that, because it was such an unpleasant task, he would wipe the dirt off his shirt and say, "Yeah, you know, I don't think this is going to work out. Have a nice life."

But, no. His manly soul was being fed. He stayed.
Oh, and he opens doors for me. Be still my heart.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


A friend recently posted on Facebook about farting, or rather,
the odoriferous vapors emanating from the general direction of her husband
after a meal of bean soup.
Shortly after that, we had a get-together at her house,
whereupon she was presented with a gas mask & a bottle of Beano.

Got me to thinking. BS has no problem whatsoever about... uh... releasing the pressure, so to speak.
And the silence of the valve opening (sometimes) is remarkable.
Suddenly, I am surrounded by a cloud of his digestive processes that seemed to come out of nowhere.
He is particularly fond of doing this when we are in the car and the windows are closed.
This is followed either by looks of complete innocence or a maniacal laugh,
depending on his whim.
I have actually had to pull over to the side of the road until the miasma cleared.

What is it about men and their misplaced pride in their bodily emanations?
Just don't get it.
"Dude, I let one rip that was so bad it killed the hamster."
"Man, that's nuthin'. I took a dump that looked just like a dachshund. Shoulda sold it on eBay."

My beloved sister (not sayin' which one) is particularly fond of letting one go when we are out together,
then looking at me with horror & shame,
letting anyone around us know, in no uncertain terms,
that I was the one with no social graces whatsoever.

Me? I have never been able to be so free with the after-effects of my digestion.
No one will like me anymore.
Seriously, this is what the demons whisper in my ear.
So, I suffer until I can get to a place where such things are permissible,
like my own bathroom,
or the great outdoors,
where there is sufficient space between me and any other humanity.
Until then, the pressure builds, sometimes with visible & painful swelling....

During all those years when I was living alone and had the whole house to myself,
this was not a problem.
I could toot away to my heart's content and no one would think I was gross. Or human.

Now, however, M&M is in close proximity,
and we have developed an ease & comfort level between us
that allows me to let him see me with dirty hair and no makeup.
Oh, believe me, that's a big deal, let me tell you.
But smelly gasses?
Umm, well, no.
It's a small house & he is usually within smelling distance.
I just. can't. do. it.
Don't know if I will ever be comfortable enough around him to make him aware that
my intestines work just like everyone else's.

Here's a handy guide to let you know when to reveal your bodily functions in front of your man: