I Have Some Catching Up To Do

AdobeStock_100109267When I was in high school, girls who were academically ahead of the curve were told not to take typing. “If they find out you can type,” we were told, “you’ll always be a secretary.” Well, I had no choice in the matter. I was out sick for the first month of school and fell too far behind in my French class. I had to drop it and replace it with another class, and the only option I was given was typing.

Of course I was a month behind there, too, and never really did catch up. Still, I’m grateful for the experience. Personal computers came around sometime while I was in college, and  you need to know how to type to succeed on those.

AdobeStock_283817297I’m frequently shocked into realizing how old I am by memories like that one. Most of my co-workers grew up with PCs, and learning how to type came with the territory. Not long ago I was reminiscing with a friend my age about how it was before cell phones. Okay, not only cell phones, but things that are also antiques today–answering machines and caller id on your land line. When the phone rang, you answered it, because you didn’t know who it might be and there was a chance it was important. If you didn’t get to the phone in time, there was no way of knowing who called, no message to check, nothing. You just hoped they’d call back.

I’m flying out to see my dad this fall, and I know things have changed in the thirteen years since I last boarded an airplane. Boarding passes on your smart phone? They scan a code? My dad was telling me about this (he just took a trip to see my nephew graduate) and I couldn’t picture it. I do remember you have to take off your shoes, and this time hopefully I’ll be better prepared with the type of shoe I’m wearing. Although if I wear a slip-on, then I’ll be in my bare feet, so that’s not happening.

Things are changing faster and faster. Today I heard a doomsday prediction about AI. I don’t think I’m ready for the future, but it’s going to happen, so I’d better adjust.

Image Credits: Typewriter © MIGUEL GARCIA SAAVED–stock.adobe.com; Telephone © The Toidi–stock.adobe.com


3d small people - slippedWhen I was nineteen, I broke my wrist at a church camp. It was the middle of winter in California, and the camp was in the Sierras, so there was plenty of snow and ice on the ground. I was dutifully walking out of the chapel, Bible in my right hand, when I slipped and fell on a patch of ice, the full force of my fall landing on my left wrist. It was a gruesome break.

It took an hour to get to the small hospital at the bottom of the mountain, an hour waiting for the doctor on call to show up, an eternity to get the bone set, and another hour back. It was the middle of the night, and being heavily sedated, I slept the whole way. When I woke up, I was in a great deal of pain, and the painkillers they gave me barely touched it.

That was only the beginning of the ordeal with my wrist. It never set right, and the doctor recommended surgery to get it straightened out. My parents were going through divorce then, and somehow my broken wrist was not a priority. Okay, I was not a priority. So I suffered with the pain of the wrist for months before it finally healed in a malformed way. To this day I have bouts of pain with that wrist, where bumps appear and it hurts just to write or type. This isn’t the typical weather-related pain you feel with a broken bone. I get that, too. This is much more severe, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve been to enough orthopedic surgeons to know that.

Yet I’m grateful, in a way, for this deformity. It has taught me patience and how to push through everyday activities while in pain without complaining. If I’m at work, I do get quiet, and co-workers will sometimes comment on that. I’m honest with them, and I’ll show them the bumps, and that’s usually enough information. They understand. They have their own pain.

It’s also caused me to reflect on how difficult my parent’s divorce was on the whole family. We were fractured, each of us living his or her own life, without much regard for what was happening with the others. I was as guilty of that as the next person. Over the years I’ve reconciled myself to that reality, and it’s given me the freedom to rebuild the relationships that I lost during that time.

The pain in our lives can leave us broken or help make us whole. At least, get us a little closer to whole. I struggle with some of the pain in my life (I’ve written about this before) and I’m still waiting to see how it will help me. But eventually, I’ll make sure it does.

Image Credits: https://stock.adobe.com/3D person falling ©Anatoly Maslennikov–stock.adobe.com; Pine trees © Mimi Art Smile–stock.adobe.com.

Walter Has Claimed Mom’s Shawl

Walter and ShawlI (finally) finished this shawl for my mom, and Walter won’t let go. As you saw in my previous Caturday post, he likes to find new places to sleep, and it’s often inconvenient for me. Oh well. He’s a sweet kitty and I spoil him. Go ahead and sleep there, Walter. I’ll need the shawl in a month when I visit Mom, but in the meantime, it’s yours.

Image Credits: Cesar Cat © BelindaO; Paws in Heart © Bigstock Photos

Not Your Puppet

Several years ago, when I was seeing a psychiatrist, he suggested I take a small role in a local theater production to help build confidence.  I thought he was nuts, if for no other reason than there were plenty of true actors and actresses vying for any role in these plays and I didn’t stand a chance against them. Another reason? I had no desire to do this. I wasn’t scared of doing it, I simply didn’t want to.

So I told him no, I wouldn’t do it, and he was shocked. “You mean you won’t do what your psychiatrist asks you do?” he asked. Now it was my turn to be astounded. Was this man’s ego so big he actually thought I would substitute his judgment for mine in any situation? Yes, I went there for help. But no, it didn’t mean I was a puppet.

When I was in high school, I joined a local church who taught us that what was preached from the pulpit was absolute truth and we were headed down a solitary road without God if we didn’t follow those teachings. I eventually left the church, but not before I heard someone praise one of the men in the congregation.

stack of books pixabayThis man didn’t blindly accept anything as gospel truth without testing it first. He knew the Bible better than just about anyone in that church and wasn’t afraid to contradict the pastor if he disagreed with him. But wasn’t a contrary man, he was loving and gracious. He just thought for himself. He wasn’t a puppet.

It was a good lesson for me. I was young and impressionable enough that I struggled with leaving that congregation because I thought it meant I was rejecting God. I later learned one of the great lessons of my life: you can make up your own mind, and you can change your mind. It doesn’t mean you’re always going to be right, but it does mean you’re using the brain God gave you to try to get to know him better. And those are the lessons that stick.

Thinking for yourself can be a challenge if you’re a people-pleaser, which I used to be. I’ve gone through enough in the last twelve years that I no longer care what others think of me. But I’m not a rebel, in fact, I show a lot of respect for others, whether I agree with them or not.

Just don’t tell me to follow you blindly. I’m not a puppet.

Image Credits: Puppet © ArtFamily–stock.adobe.com; Stack of books–courtesy of Pixabay

Walter Has Found a New Bed

I’ve never had to worry about the cats sleeping on my laundry until now, when Walter decided to sleep on the freshly-cleaned bath mat I was getting ready to give to a friend. I wasn’t about to give it to her dirty–but now she’s going to have to accept it with a little cat hair on it. Which she will, gladly, because this mat matches her towels.

Walter Sleeps Well

Image Credit: Cesar Cat © Belinda O; Paws in Heart © Bigstock Photos

Heard Anything Good Lately?

AdobeStock_274770438 [Converted]I’m going to be visiting my mom next month, and that means a ten-hour drive there–and, of course, a ten-hour drive back. So I’m looking for suggestions for some good audio books.

I’m open to anything, as long as it’s compelling. I should be clear that the audio books would have to be something my local library would have, and while said library has a decent selection, it’s nothing like that of a big city. But a good autobiography or memoir would be a welcome suggestion. If it’s really recent and really good, there might be a waiting list, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t suggest it, but consider some that are a year or two old as well.

If you’ve read a good autobiography or memoir lately, let me know and I can see if it’s available on audio. Or any other book, for that matter.

Your help is appreciated!!

Image credits: Ear © nazar12–stock.adobe.com; Car © Doloves–stock.adobe.com

Time and Talent

Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned

AdobeStock_130629499 pngThat’s the full quote, from William Congreve, a popular playwright from the late 17th-early 18th centuries. Specifically, it’s from his 1697 play, The Mourning Bride. (It’s also the play with the quote “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” frequently misquoted as “beast.”) Suffice to say, Mr. Congreve knew a little about human nature. “No rage like love to hatred turned” is well understood by every divorce lawyer in this country, if not the world.

We count on playwrights and fiction authors of every genre to tell us tales we can relate to, even if they’re set in some sort of alternate reality. It takes time and talent to develop those skills. Each author has his or her voice, or a collective voice when there are multiple authors. It’s not something AI can duplicate, as I’ve discovered through my writing group.

We did some experimenting with AI, and the results surprised–and pleased–me. While the same story might have been told, it wasn’t with the same voice. It was flat and, frankly, sounded like a mass market novel, not something original. Now, I know AI can be tweaked to come closer to that reality. But there is still room for the talented writer.

I understand, however, why the screenwriters are so concerned. So much of their voice is subject to interpretation by actors anyway. AI may come closer to mimicking their work with some skill. But it can’t truly do the job. Not yet. After all, AI pulls from work that’s already been created. Can it create plot twists? Political satire? I don’t know, and to a great extent, I don’t care.

As a writer myself, I sympathize with the screenwriters and wish them well in their negotiations. It’s more than just AI, of course, and I believe they’re trying to get ahead of the game with that one. The other issues they’re dealing with are apparently numerous, including fair pay.

AdobeStock_284900920 [Converted] smThe next time you watch TV, send a silent thanks to the writers and recognize their worth in the world of entertainment. The good ones will be quoted for a long time, because they know what makes us tick. And like I said, that takes time and talent.

Image Credits: Broken Heart © Galyna_P–stock.adobe.com; Television © Irene–stock.adobe.com

Rest In Peace, Harry Belafonte

Nobody had a bigger musical influence on my childhood than Harry Belafonte. What’s more, his activism was a part of my understanding of the world around me. Not to mention, my mom had a crush on him that lasted decades.

Not sure who he was? Chances are you’ll recognize this iconic song. But look up some others–“Man Smart, Woman Smarter” or “Jamaica Farewell.”

Rest in peace. Your influence lives on.


For more than twenty years, my sister Beth has been pretty much out of contact with the family, and for the last seven or eight, we’ve had no way to reach her. But she is on our minds on a daily basis.

Some days, the memories are stronger than others.

Beth was the one who taught me how to drive a standard, to drive with a clutch. Today that isn’t as big a deal, given that most cars are automatic anyway, but at the time, it was the difference between spending $4,000 for a new car, or more than $5,000.  A 25 percent increase in cost. I’d just bought my first new car, and it cost me about $4,000. Problem was, I couldn’t handle the clutch.

My parents had spent three years teaching their children to drive, and they were weary of it. So my sister, who’s a year younger than me, took over. Patiently, she took me out on the roads around our home. They were hilly and winding, perfect for learning how to drive a four-speed.

If you’ve ever tried it, driving a standard takes practice.  It’s a challenge to get the timing of releasing the clutch and hitting the gas just right. You stall one hundred times for every time you inch forward. You fail and fail, then one day, you get it. It finally just works. My sister stayed with me until I reached that point.

She was seventeen, I was eighteen. We weren’t best friends, like some sisters are, but we were loyal to each other.  I hope she knows I’m still on her side. No matter what, she is my sister, and I love her.

And I’m forever grateful for knowing how to drive a standard, even though I don’t expect I’ll ever do much of it again.  It’s power.

Image Credit: © Vclav–stock.adobe.com

Take Comfort

I have my comfort TV shows. In this day and age, with the multitude of programs available to us 24 hours a day, I don’t think I’m alone. For me, it’s the classics. The Dick Van Dyke Show, for example, or the Mary Tyler Moore Show. More recent shows would be Frasier or The West Wing. I can, and do, watch them over and over again. I won’t say I never get tired of them–I definitely do at times, but when that happens, I just switch to one of the others.

SnoopyWe all have our ways of unwinding after a tough day, and that’s one of mine. Another is reading my Peanuts books. Chock-full of hundreds of comics, I find these can calm me and raise my spirits at the same time. As any Peanuts fan knows, they have a quiet humor about them (although some I still find laugh out loud funny). I look for that when I’m anxious or down.

I tend to eat when I’m stressed, so to avoid that I find other ways to occupy myself. Knitting has proven helpful, although I don’t really like to knit when I’m bothered by something. I find I make more mistakes, and that just compounds the frustration of an aggravating situation.

Today was one of those days, and right now I’m seeking comfort in my writing. That’s another way I de-stress. I particularly like blog writing at these times. It’s satisfying finding pictures to go with my post (such as they may be) and completing the writing in a relatively short time, as opposed to, say, working on my novel. Don’t ask how that’s going. It’s not.

I hope you have familiar items or situations you can take comfort in. If you do, let me know. Might give me some ideas when the tried-and-true doesn’t work.

Image Credit: Television set © irina levitskaya–stock.adobe.com

Sing, Sing a Song

I’ve written about this several times before on this blog, but if there is one thing I wish I could do better, just a little bit better, it’s sing. My grandfather had a beautiful voice, or so I’m told. The story goes that the way he sung “Ave Maria” made the nuns cry. My dad lived in his shadow with a voice about as bad his daughter’s would be, and recalls that one of his childhood prayers was to have his tonsils out, with the belief that that would improve his voice. He never had his tonsils out, so we’ll never know, but chances are it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference.

Today in church I hold open my hymnal only so I know how much more singing is left, and most of the time I don’t care enough to do even that. I listen and enjoy for the most part, but don’t attempt to sing along unless it’s “Morning Has Broken.” (You may remember the Cat Stevens’ hit, but what you may not know is that the song originated as a hymn in the 19th century. Today’s trivia for those of you old enough to remember Cat Stevens.) I sing under my breath, but the song is one I can manage with.

I have my talents and I’m happy with those, and I do eke out a song from time to time for my cats, who seem to enjoy it. I assume cats are tone deaf, although I’m not sure. I remember my mom’s cat Darren loved Bread (another group from the 70s) and when he traveled with us, we had to play The Best of Bread over and over again to keep him calm. My cat Paco was partial to David Gray. They both seemed to like that mellow music, and who can blame them?

I know that those who can sing wish they had other talents, maybe hit a baseball, for example (another thing I can’t do) or write (something I can do). We all have our unfulfilled dreams. I’ve learned to live with mine, but I can still find myself wishing I could belt it out like some I see on television talent shows. It isn’t a wish that lasts long.

And if you can sing, sing out loud, so we all can enjoy it.

Image Credit: © abstract–stock.adobe.com

The Letter (sigh)

I was feeling nostalgic today, and found this post I wrote six years ago about a special letter I received once, years ago. I thought I’d share it with you again.

My World With Words

When I was 36, I moved from Minneapolis to Nashville for a relationship. I distinguish “moving for a relationship” from “moving for a man.”

It was a decision I made because it was what I wanted to do, and not because I was one of those women who would sacrifice anything for the man in her life. I’d made big moves before, so I knew what I was getting into. In fact, I was looking forward to the change and opportunities.

But overall I wasn’t content in Nashville. I broke up with that boyfriend a year after my move, and made only one true friend in the three years I was there.

Still, something special did happen, a seemingly small event, but one that lifted my spirits for years. I wish I could go back in time for this simple reason: to save that letter.

It was January,

Sad love heart symbol background

a few months…

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