Saturday, January 12, 2019

Holiday Communion

The holidays arrived in a flurry and passed in a blur.  This year I appreciated the gift everyone seemed to be ready to bestow…time together.  We made gingerbread houses, ribbon Christmas trees, and did a cutesy-pootsey painted sign project that was more fun than I had expected.  I had less to put away this year and more to think about.

One thing that didn’t change is the regularly scheduled feast/gorge.  Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas all of us contributing females get together and swear we are not going to make as much food.  Every year we say the same thing: too much food!  too many leftovers! this is the year we’re going to keep it to a minimum.  You know, the annual little white holiday lie.   In reality each of us continues to make her “regulars” and add a new dish to try every single year….it never fails.

Other dishes may come and go, but there are two staples to every holiday table in our family.  I make those, and I consider my contributions to be a non-religious communion of sorts because they are lovingly done in remembrance.

Must number one: 
I make Katie’s oyster dressing, a delicious concoct of onion, celery, bread cubes oysters and spices that has graced our holiday tables since our courtship.  Katie, my mother in law, always had every available surface covered with slices of bread for two days before Thanksgiving and Christmas.  From this caloric clutter she created her dressing, and everyone in the family loved it.  After we married, I spent holiday eves watching her make the stuff.  Her “dash of this, dob of that, and do this till it feels right” instructions mystified me as I took notes.  When I finally tried to fly solo there were several years my husband suffered through my inexperienced interpretation of that recipe.  There were times the sage turned the dressing a color of green only rivaled by the Christmas tree, while others were an almost tasteless clump of soupy bread.  But Larry hung in there with me, and my persistence paid off.  I have mastered Katie’s oyster dressing, I know she’d be proud of me.  Each year, as I put things together, I remember her working on this in her tiny kitchen.  It was a no-frills operation with no counter space, and I marvel at the variety of delicious dishes she turned out.  I make oyster dressing every year to honor this special woman.

My second must-have contribution:  Mom’s pumpkin cake.  This cake has been a part of our holiday celebrations for almost as many years as the dressing, but I only took it on a few years ago when mom wasn’t able to make it any longer.  For a couple of years I made the cake under her direction then,when we lost her four years ago, it became mine to do alone.   It is made from her handwritten recipe, delivered to the feast in the cake dish she always used that was taped to “keep it from sliding around in the car”.  Again, as I put ingredients into my Kitchen Aid mixer and pop it into one of my ovens, I marvel at how much mom did with so little equipment and space to work with.  She always delivered the cake and untaped the lid saying, “I’m not sure it’s any good.  I think I’ve forgot how to cook.”  Everyone knew that was the prompt to stick a finger in the icing and exclaim it was the best ever.  I make the pumpkin cake in memory of my mom and all the  family holiday memories that go with it.  

Holidays always bring back memories with no shortage of anecdotes to share.  I’m grateful for the time our crew spent together this year, and I hope your season was as busy remembering and creating new stories as ours.                                                   

                                                       Let's get on with that Happy New Year

                                                                           Life is Good

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Let’s Have a Word

We all have our favorite ways to waste time; mine happens to be Words With Friends.  I may have thirty or forty games of scrabble going at any one time.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be classified as an addiction soon,  if it already isn’t.

This isn’t a new game for me, I’ve been playing for years.  In the past it seemed a player might occasionally say hello and list where they’re playing from.  I’ve played against people from UK, Ireland, and just about every state in the union.  It’s not a real “chatty” game...but I’m not a chatty person so that’s always been a bonus for me.  My husband, suspicious of all things technological in nature, has always been convinced I’m actually playing against death row prisoners without realizing it.  Even though it goes against my grain to admit it, I’m beginning to think he may be on to something.

Sometime over the last year things have changed in the game of Words With Friends.  Suddenly requests for games showed up with a “hello” message.  If you politely respond with anything the real game is on. 

Phishing has obviously moved into the gaming  neighborhood, but the con-artists are far from creative.  With few variations they seem to use the same script:

“Hi, my name is “whatever”.  I’m from any state in the US, now working (stationed or assisting the population) in Iraq (or somewhere in the Middle East).  I’m working as a support person in the medical field, or I’m working on an oil rig.  I lost my precious wife (and she’s always precious) three years ago.  I’m terribly lonely and I’m struggling to raise my  (always) precious only daughter/son on my own.  I was drawn to your picture and I want to be your very good friend. You seem so warm and real (interesting since we’ve exchanged six words max) I’d really like to get to know you better. What kind of media do you use for private chat? Please download “something I’ve never heard of” so that we can become better friends and share things.  Please tell me everything about yourself.  Are you married with children?  Are you happily married?  How was your night last night...I pray it was sweet.”  Etc., etc., etc.

I don’t know what the rest of their nonsense might be cause this is where I always dump the game and block the player. I’ve got to be honest and tell you I’ve been SO tempted to follow one of these darned things just to see what comes next.   Obviously they want money in quantities that would qualify you for a segment on the Doctor Phil Show,  but I’m curious to see how they make the pitch.  Do they present it as money needed for the precious son/daughters surgery?  Are they still trying to pay off the precious wife’s funeral? Do they need money to get them back to the states or to pay for paperwork to get out of the country after a passport has been seized? Maybe they desperately need a thousand dollars in ITunes gift cards to keep them out of the hands of terrorists?  I’d love to hear the whole crazy pitch...but even though we sit together and get a chuckle out of some of it he eventually digs in his heels and I chuck the game.

I have a handful of people with whom I’ve played for years and that keeps my scrabble addiction satisfied.  Invariably the scammers show up as brand new players, so I don’t accept game requests from anyone who isn’t registered as  playing for at least a year.  Even trying to be careful I still ditch a half dozen of these creeps a week.  I block them and report them, but I’m sure it just as effective as trying to block nuisance calls on my cell phone.  Each one likely has hundreds of identities as they work from A Nigerian phone-tank room.  It’s a con-artist tsunami that won’t stop till they identify greener pastures.  

Talking with my son, another scrabble addict, he tells me he has the same problem.  He shared with me the forums dedicated to sharing horror stories.    I looked at them briefly and was saddened to see so many people being scammed financially and emotionally.

It’s just a sad fact of life, but as long as there are vulnerable people there will always be wolves.  Be careful when you accept friend or player requests in any format and never, never, never give out any personal info!  It’s hard to believe even nerdy types who love word games aren’t safe on the internet...but it’s true.

According to my husband everyone with internet access is suspect, and that “gated community” your new friend brags about more than likely comes fully equipped with guards and an orange jump suit.  

                                                      Life is Good

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Eyes Have It

Looking at a magazine this evening I came across an article about fashion glasses.  Still expensive as all get out, they have plain glass lenses because they're just for looks.  Really??  That's a thing?

I wear glasses, not as a fashion accessory or to look more intelligent or to add character to my face.  I wear them because I can't see a danged thing without them.  My glasses are the last thing I put down at night and the first thing I pick up in the morning.  It's a love hate thing; I hate the glasses but I love to be able to see.

Even wearing my glasses I sometimes have problems.  Last evening I took a look at the small clock on the shelf in our family room and saw it was 9:30 p.m.   I was sleepy and suggested we make it an early night.   Larry agreed, so we got busy getting the dog settled, the house secured and our nightly argument about where to set the thermostat out of the way....our normal evening routine.

Satisfied everything was done I climbed into bed and noticed my bedside clock said 7:40.  I made a mental note to toss that thing in the trash come morning.   Any time there's a power fluctuation it requires resetting, an arduous process that requires more patience than I am willing to invest.  It was on it's way out.....

Snuggling into my half dozen pillows, I  picked up my iPad because the pleasant drowsiness I'd felt earlier seemed to have passed.  Now I noticed the time in the upper corner (7:45)  and realized I had looked at the family room clock wrong; we really had shuffled off to bed about 7:30.  My husband snored softly beside me; I didn't want to wake him because I knew we'd both be up at 2:00 a.m.  I'd explain it to him then.  Note to self: buy a bigger clock for the family room.

Showering presents a different problem.  Without my glasses I can not tell which is shampoo and which is conditioner.  I thought I'd solved that problem when I found products by Loreal that are uniquely packaged.  The shampoo opening is on the top, the conditioner opens from the bottom of the bottle. Problem solved, right?

This morning I was feeling pretty smug as the steam rose in the shower.  Blind as a bat, I reached for a bottle and realized I couldn't remember which opened from the top.  Yes, the openings are conveniently different... but my memory is still inconveniently not what it used to be.   I ended up climbing out of the shower, putting my glasses on and reading the bottles.  To help me remember I've come up with a  "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" type thing.  What do you do in the shower? You get in and soap up....soap up/shampoo up and conditioner down.   Life shouldn't be this complicated, should it?

Knowing how my luck runs I know as soon as I get used to this shampoo and conditioner  they'll stop making them, a retail fact of life I've come to accept.  Not easily discouraged and being the pro-active type of gal I am I've located a pair of glasses that have windshield wipers.  I plan to ask Santa for a pair to wear in the shower, and if I can just explain to my optometrist why I need a prescription lens for these suckers I'll be all set...…

                                                                Life is Good


Thursday, November 29, 2018


This week I said goodbye to my oldest and one of my dearest friends who also happened to be a cousin.   It also feels like a goodbye to a big chunk of my life.

Even though I was just shy of three years old when she was born I remember Theresa as a baby.  She was a beautiful blue eyed, blond haired baby girl and  I remember her arrival distinctly because it  screwed up my status as cherished only grandchild.  We shared the love of our doting grandparents for the rest of their lives; there was always more than enough to go around.  Other grand kids followed, but we were the first two and the closest.

My being two years and eleven months older rankled her when we were small.  When she was ten I was just about to become a "teenager" and she was still a 'baby'.  When she was thirteen I was working on my drivers license and looking forward to a first date, but she was still a 'baby'.  I taunted her with the "you're still a baby" thing till our age shift put the ball in her court.  When I turned forty she was still in her thirties because I was two years and eleven months older. When my first AARP invitation arrived she crowed about how old I was getting.   When I turned sixty she referred to me as the "older woman"....and when I turned sixty five she was merciless with her comments about me becoming eligible for Medicare.  We taunted, tormented and laughed a lot.

  Countless weekends, long hot summers and every holiday we were together growing up.  From playing in our grandmother's old wash house, through school and marriage and babies we stayed in touch.  She was maid of honor in our wedding and came to stay the summer our first child was born.   For years I would make the four hour trip the morning after Thanksgiving to pick her up; we simply had to make the Pilgrim Glass sale that was always held that day.   Working our way through crowds and long check out lines, we'd eventually arrive back at her house exhausted, ready for leftovers and laughter.  We really didn't need or want anything except the time together. 

As the years went by we saw each other through funerals and births, the loss of parents, grandparents and relatives.  Technology became helpful as pictures and texts made the distance seem shorter.  Our day to day lives seemed a little closer although we always lived almost two hundred miles apart.  Late night internet chats kept us in touch.

Over the years I seemed to have a constant stream of maladies and surgeries to talk about, while she had very few medical horror stories to share.  She always jokingly said I'd had everything there was to have and she'd probably get everything all at the same time.  She was right.  A few months ago everything that could go wrong did, and the last six months of her life were very tough.  Fighting as hard as she could, she could not come back from the things that had waited so long to attack her.  She passed away November 24th.

If somehow she could read this, Theresa would be busy making changes and correcting me.   I doubt there were more than an handful to times we ever agreed on the details of any story I set out to tell, and I was quick to interrupt and correct her when I remembered something differently.   I'd say the dresses our grandmother made for us were red....she'd counter with no they were blue and she bought them; we never remembered anything the same way.   She swore I tricked her into doing things she didn't want to do, I remembered her making up things to get me into trouble. No matter how old we got our "did not-did too" exchanges never changed. "I swear you must have had a different childhood!," I'd say as she laughed at me. 

Now I find myself trying to wrap my head around the fact that she is gone, this cousin (two years and eleven months my junior) who was a mother, a grandmother, a daughter and sister, a realtor and a friend.  There's only one word to describe how I feel...sad.  It's not remembering the lifetime of happy memories that saddens me, but the empty place in my future that I always thought she would occupy.  I know getting on with it is going to be a long work in progress, because we were friends all of her life...and I know I will miss her the rest of mine.

                                                  Life is Good....cherish it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Candid Camera

I’m an early riser…always have been.  This morning, about five a.m. I was up before the coffee pot timer went on.   After switching that on I had time for one of my favorite morning things; I went to get our one-year old Chorkie, Maddie, out of her kennel.

Maddie is a cuddler…my kind of dog.   After snuggling for a bit, I put her electronic collar in place and headed to the back door.  These chilly late fall mornings are very dark where I live, so we keep a battery-operated lantern by the back door.  Maddie and I stepped into the inky blackness, me waving my lantern in front so frighten off any critters that might be in search of food…or puppies.

Instead of her usual charge ahead on the sidewalk, Maddie “woofed”, snuffed a late blooming flower under the dining room window, the returned to my side.   It was unusual, but a car snaked quietly around the corner, the headlights raking over the two of us as Maddie decided it was okay to head out into the side yard after all. Mission accomplished, we went back into the house.

Time passed, my husband joined us on the couch for coffee.  As we sat watching the news the electric eye at our front door bell detected motion.  It was only a quarter to six, so Larry went to check that out. Finding nothing that should have tripped the sensor, he eventually checked the video camera to find a young male wearing a hoodie and gloves had been trying our front door.   Hmmmm……an unexpected guest?

Daylight prompted a more thorough investigation that produced a torn/cut window screen on one window, another removed from the frame in the dining room window.   The would-be burglar dropped some money as he removed screens, or perhaps as he fled when I came out the back door; we may be the only place that cost him money.  Either way I hope his evening of thievery costs him more than the eight bucks he dropped here.

Later when a nice young police officer showed up at our door we turned the “candid camera” picture over to him.  Another officer fingerprinted windows and doors, taking notes as they explained there was a rash of break ins all around us last night.  Seems this group, the Future Felons of America, went into houses, stealing and frightening people, for blocks around. 

I pride myself on learning something from every experience, and this is no exception.  Lesson One:  Never go out into the dark unless you are prepared to defend yourself (and your puppy). I won't make that mistake again.  Lesson Two:  Fingerprint powder is very, very difficult to remove from window frames.  Lesson Three:  Always lock your doors and windows. Always. 

There’s something I’d also like to share with the fella’s who tried so diligently to get into our house early this morning:  There is nothing in this house, either money or possessions, that is worth your life…but the lives within these four walls are worth defending at any cost.   Understand that.

                                                                   Life is Good


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Negotiating a Birthday

I think birthdays make a person more reflective than they might ordinarily be.   I know that is true for me.

Next week is my birthday.  It’s not a milestone birthday, doesn’t require any great attention or special celebration.  This anniversary of my birth is just another stake in the ground that marks my progress through what has become a life that has already lasted longer than I expected.

When I was twenty, forty seemed to me to be the beginning of old age.  When I was forty I was sure fifty-five was the offending number.  By fifty-five I thought sixty-five, the expected year of retirement for many Americans, represented the year one crumbled into ruin.  By age sixty-five I found myself wondering what all the fuss was about.  It didn’t feel much like a milestone to me, and since I was immersed in a new career (retired broadcaster now working on the dark side of the print world) I thought sixty-five was a breeze.   I did give a slight shudder at the thought of turning seventy…but that was years away and who knew if I’d be here anyway?

Many of my generation, the Baby Boomers, had the mistaken idea we might live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse.  Dying young like Buddy Holly, James Dean or Marilyn Monroe meant you’d be forever remembered as a young, vital person and not as a decrepit oldster pushing a walker with tennis balls on the front legs.  Not a well thought out theory, since most of us are not famous or beautiful or exceptionally talented.  We do, however, have a growing population of people piloting walkers. 

The truth of the matter is, none of us expects to get old.  That’s not to say we expect or want to die young, we just think the aging process applies to every other human being except us.  It’s the only explanation for stopping in the grocery store to talk to someone you knew from high school and walking away thinking, “Goodness, he/she looks awful for his/her age!”.  What we don’t acknowledge is that both participants in that conversation are walking away with the same exact thought.

And so, time marches on; I have arrived at yet another birthday.  The changes over the years are more apparent, and the years are heavier some days than others.  I am now at an age where I must begin negotiations with my body each morning as I think about getting out of bed:

Body:  I don’t want to get up.

Mind:  But you must.  There are other parts of us who are demanding that happen; it’s not all about you.

Body:  No.

Mind:  If you get up and transport me to the bathroom I will give you a reward.

Body: (coyly) What kind of reward?
Mind:  Breakfast and two arthritis strength aspirin?

Body:  I’m tired of eggs, and you’d better consult the stomach about all that aspirin.  But…there is that left-over cheese cake.  I could talk to the arms for you if you want to get that from the back of the fridge.  And coffee! Nothing happens without coffee.

Mind:  Fine, coffee and cheese cake it is.  You rally the troops and we will get this body on the move.   By the way…you have a birthday coming up next week.

Body:  Wait while I groan and put our hands over our face, then we’ll bet this show on the road.

At my age I’m just grateful my body is still speaking to me at all; I’ve not treated it well over the years to be honest. My negotiations used to be much more direct: “Okay, do what I want, when I want for as long as I want, or I’ll bring this body to its knees.”  

That kind of rhetoric doesn’t work anymore; if I brought this body to its knees I’d never be able to get back up.

                                                         At every age….Life is Good.   

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Sweet Smell of Success!!!

I seem to be on a roll with car stories, but this one is too good not to share.

Last year my husband wandered into a car dealership, just killing time.  There he met a little number, a GMC Terrain, in burgundy that met his criteria for the perfect automobile. Needless to say he drove it home.

An uneventful year has passed since that car batted her high beams at him; they’ve been very happy together up until a couple of weeks ago.

On a return trip from the grocery store I sniffed the air conditioned breeze and commented, “something smells funny”.  I have a remarkable sense of smell, honed by raising three children.  My senses only grew more acute as they became teens.  I knew when my son was home from the smell of young, male sneakers under the couch.   I could detect cigarette smoke at fifty paces, and teen drinking never made it past the front door undetected.   I am Mom...The Nose...but even I could not ferret out the source of the increasing stench.

Over the last two weeks the smell in that car had grown to frightening proportions.   Even he could smell it, and that’s saying something!  Last evening it came to a head when we exited a restaurant with friends, only to have them recoil as they stood on the sidewalk and my husband opened the car door.  It’s one thing to have an odor you need to track down, it’s quite another to have it stop foot traffic in restaurant parking lots.

It’s not as if we hadn’t tried, but nothing seemed to help.  Vent deodorizers added a sickening sweetness to the problem, removing the glove box to check for goodness knows what proved fruitless, under carriage washes and seat removals all left us stymied.  The odor bloomed and our hopes plummeted.    I was ready to call in the cadaver dogs, but my husband is a more practical type.

Finally this morning he squared his shoulders, dragged the shop vac into the driveway, and announced this was his last attempt to find the offensive odor before he took the car 🚘 in to the dealer for help.   His determination was impressive, his expression said the smell had increased again over night.  I hid in the house and pretended not to hear the racket going on.

Two hours passed before he finally stuck his head around the door, “Wanna know what a ball of mozzarella cheese smells like when it’s been stuck behind the spare tire in a Terrain?”  He had located an indentation we had no idea existed.  At some point the well-sealed ball of cheese found its way in there and snuggled in.  The expiration date was September, 2017 so it had remained under the radar for a long time; until the heat caused it to swell and leak we had no reason to complain.

He is my hero! To the victor go the this case my poor husband had the honor of disposing of a very spoiled ball of cheese.   His victory is the fact that, once he puts everything back together, he can settle back into his happy relationship with his sweet ride.  Finally Mom the Nose can breathe a sigh of relief, although we do seem to have more seats sitting in the driveway than I remember.....

                                                                  Life is Good

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Summer of Ginny

For some reason summers have always been the most memorable season for me.  I can’t really recall anything, other than Christmas, that happened in the cold months of my youth…but summers are forever etched in my memory. 
When I was a little girl I looked forward to summer because we visited my grandparents for two weeks.  An only child, my summers were spent there with my cousin, Theresa, exploring the orchard and playing in our grandmothers wash house in the hot Kentucky sun.  Old dishes became our banquet, old curtains our ball gowns and we caught lightening bugs in a jar in the cool, dark evenings.    
It was summer when I “became a woman”; a disquieting female event that interrupted a perfectly good baseball game with the neighborhood boys.  The summer I was fourteen I met a special boy, and that meeting changed my summers forever.  Later, summers were spent taking our three children to their grandmother’s cabin at the lake, on picnics and vacations.   
Before we knew it the kids were gone, and it was a special summer when we bought our own place at the lake; kayaking and beachcombing quickly became my new summer favorites.  That first season was spent exploring the area, looking for a golf cart and meeting new people.   What a great summer…
Now we are in a different season of our lives, but summer is still my favorite. This summer is special because I’ve officially declared it the Summer of Ginny.
The first car we bought when we got married was a VW Beetle.  It had a crank open sun roof, just enough power to get over a hill (if it wasn’t too high) and a heater that guaranteed snow in the floor boards until at least the middle of May.  It was my first experience with a stick shift.  I remember once parking on a hill; I ended up waiting in the car for over an hour until the person parked in front of me left so I could pull forward out of the parking space.   I hadn’t mastered backing up…that came much later after tears and nail biting and embarrassment had worked their magic.  I loved that car.
Years later I found a VW Beetle classic convertible and I bought it.  I meticulously restored it, had it painted fire engine red and kept it in tip top shape.   I drove it two summers before my husband’s misgivings about the car won out.  While I saw a beautiful, red convertible my husband saw a four wheeled bomb.  Every time I left the drive way he held his breath until I returned, and he never wanted me to drive it on the highway.   Eventually his distress outweighed my enjoyment and I sold it.
For several years I drove a Sebring convertible, another favorite.  A few summers ago I sold that and, like a good grown up, drove a “sensible” car for three or four years.  My Chevrolet Impala was the automotive equivalent of sensible shoes and cotton underwear.  They have their place in the landscape of your life, but too much can change who you are. 

As this summer approached we discussed my continued longing for a convertible; when my husband discovered this is the last year they’d be producing the VW Beetle convertible he alerted me to that fact. As I continued to try to argue myself out of such an impractical purchase he was looking on line at the dwindling supply of the little cars.   Eventually he put things into perspective for me when he said, “It’s your decision, but life is short…buy the shoes”.   The man is a great communicator.   
This is the summer I’m enjoying my new white VW Beetle convertible with the black top.  You must be an optimist to buy a convertible and live in Ohio, but it fits me to a “T”, and it puts a kind of automotive parentheses around my adult life.  I’ve named the car Ginny…short for Generic.   Our dog Maddie often rides along, curled trustingly in the passenger seat as we zip along, trailing oldies music in the summer sunshine. 
                                                Ginny and Maddie and Me….Life is Good     

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Worm hole:  A theoretical passage through space/time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe and allow time travel.

Last weekend we went with friends to “The British are Coming…. Again” show on the Ashland University campus.  It featured local musicians and singers recreating the music of the British invasion of the 60’s.   Still performing today after their years as The Ohio Express, Dean Kastran and Dale Powers were two of the performers that came together for the Saturday night fund raiser.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that we are blessed with an amazing number of gifted people in our area.  From the symphony, to the actors on the stage at Renaissance Theatre and Mansfield Playhouse, participating artists at The Art Center, and summer performances in The Brick Yard…there’s something for everyone and we are fortunate to have a thriving arts community. 

Usually it only happens at class reunions, but on this particular evening I was delighted to discover myself in a room full of folks “my age”.   When the band started it didn’t take long for the worm hole effect to kick in; without invitation people came out into the open areas and danced to the delight of the performers.  The crowd had been transported back to 1965 through the magic of the music.

Just as they had in the high school gyms and union halls of their youth the gals formed circles; as the years fell away they danced with abandon.  Men whose time is currently divided between recliners and riding lawn mowers were sheepishly dragged onto the floor.  Suddenly they were busting moves they had forgotten they could make.  Slow songs brought out couples who snuggled and smiled and swayed to the music. Faces relaxed, illness and aggravation fell away just for the moment, and the smiles came from deep in their memory banks.  The worm hole that only music can open transported everyone back to a gentler time.   The concert had become a young people’s dance that could have been held at any high school gym, or the YMCA, or The Friendly House. 

Always a dedicated spectator, I sat watching from the comfort of my rut.   It would have been nice to be as free as the writhing dancers, but that was never true for me even when this music was new.   It was a great evening; the band’s enjoyment was obvious and their talents as sharp as ever.  How fortunate they are to have been given this gift of music that they have shared for so many years, and hopefully many more to come.

Unfortunately, nothing comes without a price; I’m sure there were plenty of the Saturday night revelers with sore muscles and tired feet to contend with on Sunday morning.  But when you get right down to it, isn’t that a small price to pay for a trip through the worm hole?

                                                                           Life is Good


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Coffee for the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

This very early morning in the very early spring I am enjoy a cup of coffee on the first day of the rest of my life.  Today is my first day as the retired editor of Heart of Ohio Magazine.  It’s a day I’ve known was coming for some time, but still I sit here sipping coffee wondering what comes next.

It’s not as if this is the first time I’ve gone thru this coffee ritual.  I remember sipping a cup of coffee with my new husband at our first breakfast together.   We were on our honeymoon; this was the first day of our married life.  The future seemed to open before us…. now that was one great cup of coffee.

A few years later I sat propped up in a hospital bed having a cup of coffee after our son had been born very late the night before.  The coffee was, well, hospital coffee.  But this was the first day of the rest of my life as a new mother and I looked at the future through the filter of my inexperience.   It was a terrifying and wonderful future that stretched out ahead of me.

Peering at the future over the rim of a coffee cup brings back so many times when the piping hot liquid anchored me.  The first morning after the death of a dear friend or family member…the first morning in the kitchen of a new home…and the nights when sleep was impossible; the only thing allowing the early morning to arrive a bottomless cup of coffee.

My first cup of coffee the morning after my retirement party from a long broadcast career stands out because I wasn’t sure this “retirement” thing was for me.   As it turned out I was right, no amount of coffee could change the fact that I needed something to do.  That’s when, over a cup of coffee, my friend Diane Brown and I put our heads together to bring her idea of a local magazine to fruition.  With no experience in producing a magazine she went from printer to publisher and I went from retired broadcaster to editor.   It turned out to be a great experience that bonded our friendship and introduced us to so many interesting places and people that the nine years have passed in the blink of an eye.

Now Great Lakes Publishing (Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Magazine, etc.) is going to take Heart of Ohio Magazine to a new level.  Diane Brown will continue to supply our community with printing and graphics services, just as she has for so many years at Sun Graphics.  I’ve chosen to continue to look for stories to write for Heart, but I will no longer be editor.  Diane Brown and I will serve on an advisory board meeting periodically to help maintain the local flavor and interest of Heart of Ohio Magazine.   

And so, this cup of coffee is the first cup of coffee as I begin this new chapter of my life.  What comes next?  I haven’t a clue.  But, based on so many “first cups” over the years I can’t wait to find out. 

Relax and have a cup of coffee…. the best is yet to be. 

                                                           Life is Good

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Introduction

Recently the world lost a true role model, the Reverend Billy Graham.  He was a fiery evangelist and a gentle human being.
When I was growing up our small, black and white television was always dedicated to the Billy Graham Crusade when one was on.  My mom admired him, and his altar call at the end of the broadcast never failed to bring her to tears as people surged forward to stand before God.   From the opening hymn sung by George Beverly Shea to the closing when they played “Just as I Am”, my Mom was glued to the set.
Personally, I always like to hear Billy Graham speak.   Not necessarily the fire and brimstone message, but the flow of his accent and the rise and fall of his hypnotic voice.  As a little girl I always thought God must look like George Beverly Shea and sound like Billy Graham.  Much later when Hollywood tried to convince me George Burns was God, I rejected the idea completely.   Even when they paired Burns with John Denver (my favorite)  in one of the movies, I still couldn’t accept the idea that my personal deity was an aged, cigar chomping burlesque star.  It just never worked for me.
Growing up I went to church with Mom and Dad, but when I married my expanding brood went through times when we attended church, and times when we did not.   My mother was the dispenser of all things religious, taking my children to church and encouraging them to keep God at the center of their lives.  I know it made a difference in who they turned out to be…. a very good difference.  As her grandchildren grew my mom continued to watch Billy Graham crusades on television.   Late in her life she even found a channel that played his sermons almost every day; he was an anchor in her religious life. 
Time passed so quickly; before we knew it, mom and dad had reached the age when going out to church became more difficult.   Television became more important as mom faithfully watched evangelists like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Baker, Ernest Ainsley and others.   While most of those preachers eventually proved to be wolves in sheep’s (designer) clothing, Billy Graham continued to command their admiration because of the simple and honest life he lived.   Over the years I must have heard my mom and my dad say, “I’d really like to meet him”, or “I’d like to shake his hand”, often “I’d like to pray with him” when they spoke about Billy Graham.  He was someone they felt they could relate to because they all spoke to the same God every single day. 
The outpouring of feelings when Billy Graham passed away was heartwarming.  His family conducted his services with the dignity and simplicity he had always displayed in life.  I watched the services, wondering how many ministers have the President of the United States show up at their funeral?  What a tribute to an amazing life.  His prayers for the nation, like my mother’s prayers for me, will be greatly missed.  
Billy Graham was once quoted as saying, “When you hear I am dead don’t believe it.   I will be more alive than I have ever been”.  I have only one thought to add to that.   I rest easy in the knowledge that, after all these years, my parents have finally gotten to meet Billy Graham.  

                                                                  Life is Good

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Give Me Some Credit!!!!!

There are things that cause a sinking feeling in the stomach that everyone has experienced.  That feeling when you reach for your purse and it's not there...the shock of spinning your car on black unexpected call from the doctor's office after a test.  Here's another one I experienced for the very first time today:  "Your credit card was rejected".

We finished lunch, and my friend and I stuck our credit cards into our individual black restaurant folders for the chirpy waitress to pick up.  When she returned she said in a cheerful voice, "Here you go ladies, and your credit card was rejected."  Her tone was so happy that I thought for a second I'd misunderstood what she said.  I had not.

"Did you try it twice," I asked?   She had.  Of course I said what everyone says in this situation, "There's no way it shouldn't work".  Bet she's heard that one before, but in this case it happened to be true.  I was totally mystified.

Back at the office I couldn't wait to rip the offending piece of plastic out of my wallet and call the infinitesimally small number on the back of the card.   I was in such a hurry I misdialed twice, but I finally got the phone tree that told me to press one for this and two for that and three if I was from Mars....something like that.

After being told that my entire conversation would be recorded for quality and training purposes (I was really hoping this conversation wouldn't deteriorate into a training moment but I had no guarantees to offer) I was greeted by a very professional voice who was more than helpful; she was polite!

After jumping through all the security hoops I was allowed to explain my dilemma. That was accompanied by the clicking of keys, and the helpful woman's voice informed me they had frozen my account.  "Did you make any charges at 2 o'clock this morning?  An air B&B?"

Resisting the temptation to put that training moment in gear I replied, "No, I did not".

"Someone tried to charge $8,427.00 to your card in four separate transactions. (There's that stomach drop!)  They managed to get two of the charges past, but we stopped the other two.  You have $2,300.00 on your card right now. (A training worthy shriek almost escaped my lips)   I see another $10.00 charge was rejected today," she finished.

"That ten dollars actually was me, but they wouldn't take the card," I sighed.

The thought of being part of a training module on how to handle crazy customers, or perhaps having my voice show up on a Christmas party tape for a group of drunken office workers to hear kept me in check.  I can tell you that $8,427.00 is enough to make me waffle on that, however.

She continued, "I will send you a copy of all these charges and list the ones that are fraudulent.  Our no risk policy means you are not liable for the theft, and we will send you a new card in seven to ten working days."

This lady could have informed me they'd be sending me a dead mackerel in the mail after telling me I wasn't liable for the $8,427.00 some jerk(s) had just charged to my name and I still would have sent her a birthday present.   I was one very relieved person.

I've got some clean up work to do on line, but so far the experience has been relatively painless.  I have no idea if a restaurant server out of sight with my card made a copy, or if a card reader had been installed on a gas pump.  Someone, somewhere had the numbers in hand to make my life miserable for a while and I have no idea how they got them.

I may never know how some criminal element came up with my card, but I am I'm relieved that I don't have to come up with $8,427.00 to pay for someone else's vacation.  I'm also grateful for the calm voice on the other end of the telephone who simultaneously soothed and informed me, thereby keeping me from becoming a cautionary tale to other customer service reps.

                  Thank you faceless, nameless really made my day.

                                                             Life is Good