Category Archives: Uncategorized

The spirit of Christmas

Screen Shot 2019-12-23 at 9.25.12 PM

Two young boys, huffing and puffing, drag a Flexible Flyer up worn wooden steps, banging and scraping. The boys are dressed like dark woolen snowmen from their watch-capped heads to their over-sized snow boots.

Mother stood over Little Sister, dressing her for the occasion – knitted cap tied under chin with a scarf, multi-layered clothing, and hand-me-down boots.

The three siblings slurged through heavy snow in the driveway, past the mint and white Chrysler with its push button start, into the snow drifts. The children are on a mission; they have their assignment.

They trudged a couple hundred yards – past the now-bald monkey ball trees – until they set foot on the school grounds, then ‘round the back to the dumpsters.

The school’s Christmas tree adorned the large lobby of Lora Little Elementary. After final classes marking winter break, the tree was dragged from the lobby and tossed unceremoniously out the loading dock doors. The tree is forlorn now, marked by several bent and broken branches and bent and wrinkled tinsel.

True to the elementary school tradition, this tree is twelve feet tall and wide as a 1950’s Buick. The Flexi Flyer is a scant few feet long, but none of the logistics mattered. If they did not rescue this tree, they would have no tree.

The three siblings dragged the tree past the sledding hill where one brother would break his leg, past dead weed-choked fencing where the other brother would contract poison oak, past the school’s towering metal and chain swing set where sister would jump, fly!, and dislocate her elbow.

Out of the schoolyard and down the home street, sliding down the driveway, around the house and into the back yard.

Much like Paul Bunyan, Older Brother dispatched his Boy Scout ax from its leather pouch and commenced to chop the tree to a manageable height so it would fit in the rec room.

They set the tree in a teensy, dented tree stand. They re-arranged the leftover tinsel then added their own stored decorations. Paint-flaked ornaments with misshapen hooks, delicately and laboriously placed upon bent and broken branches, until the tree brought the spirit of Christmas into the home.


Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

My history with horses

For the last four years, I’ve been involved in politics, protests, and purpose. I know more about this president’s* administration that I ever thought possible. It’s been a lot of bad news, punctuated occasionally with positive news for the side of good and for human rights. It’s been rather exhausting.


Just last week, I saw this picture (above) of a horse and young rider, nose to nose. The picture is not epic, just a girl and her horse. But something happened to me when I saw this photo. I started to have flashbacks; I was brought to tears. I realized what I’ve been missing is HORSE.

I exchanged messages with the originator of the post, and it turns out – that family is from North Dakota!

I remembered a lot of incredible experiences I’ve had over the years, hence…

My History With Horses

Sally Starr 

I remember watching this Philly-area TV show when I was about 5-6 years old. I remember Mom and Ang buying me a Sally Starr costume – vest, skirt (complete with fringes) and boots. I wore that outfit to bed. Mom didn’t want me to wear the boots to bed, Ang said, [sic] “Let her.”

Patches in the backyard

When I was about 8 years old, Ang rented a pony for my backyard birthday party. We had a pony in the backyard in suburban Wilmington! People came from far and wide. The pony’s name was Patches (skewbald or piebald, can’t remember which). But he was in my backyard.

Truitt’s Farm, Suburban Wilmington, Delaware

Just a mile or two from our home, there was a riding stable. The trail was short, but there was a barn with ponies and horses. Ang was scared of horses, but she took me anyway, probably because I begged. I rode. One time, I said I wanted to go bareback. She thought it was a bad idea. She was right. At the first turn in the trail, I lost my grip and fell into a pile of horse—t. I ruined a sweater.

Racetrack, in Maryland

I remember a time I went with Ang to a racetrack in Maryland, guests of her boss. Ang told me, “You pick the horses, I’ll place the bets.” My picks were personal –  because I thought the horse was pretty, or I liked the name listed in the program. I picked seven winners (win, place, show) that day. Ang kept the bills and she gave me all the change.

Pony Club, Suburban Wilmington

Ang’s boss (same one from the racetrack) at the DuPont Company had some muckity-muck position in the DuPont Pony Club. I think Ang pulled strings to get me in, because otherwise, we’d never be able to afford it. I attended the DuPont Pony Club for three summers.

I learned about breeds, how to care for horses, how to curry, brush, comb horses, pick hooves, how to bridle and unbridle and saddle and unsaddle, and how to care for tack and barn equipment. Total bliss.

Maine Draught Horses

I lived in Maine briefly in the late 70s. A neighbor had two Percheron draught horses, and I was able to visit them occasionally. I got on once – with the aid of a stepladder. Those beasts were so huge, I felt like I was doing a split.

Carousel Farms, Delaware

Formerly the DuPont Pony Club mentioned above, now trail rides and instruction. It was nice to ride, but carefully orchestrated so not as fun as free range.

Thoroughbred in Maryland

I once rode a retired racehorse somewhere in Maryland – the Where and Why and What-fors are sketchy. I mounted, and it was like zero to a hundred in a car, only no seat or seatbelt. Actually, no steering wheel either – I lost the reins. Come to think of it, I lost both stirrups, too. It was terrifying and thrilling.

Campbell Soup Heiress

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 10.23.04 AM

Somewhere in my late 30s/early 40s, I worked for a Campbell Soup heiress in Pennsylvania (filthy, stinking rich). Our crew cared for over a dozen horses, all with fancy, snooty show names. I never got to ride there, but it was good therapy, to curry, brush, bathe. And muck. And one of the most physically exhausting jobs I ever had.

In New Mexico

I hadn’t been on a horse in over a decade (probably closer to two decades). I went on a ride with a private owner, up around Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid). I remember we rode through town, right down the main street. Again, the galloping scared me, but I’d been out of practice for quite a while.

For those who have exercised muscles believed long dead, my thighs had a fire-breathing vengeance against me days later, and I thought I’d never walk normally again.

Painfully Lovely

I’ve been bitten by horses, I’ve been stepped on and kicked, I’ve been squished up against the stall wall, and I’d still rather spend a few hours with a horse than with most people.


Do you have any experiences with horses? Share pictures!

Do you prefer English or Western? 





Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

Polls for fun

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why don’t she write?

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 4.15.30 AMYou may be wondering why I’ve not been blogging much.

In August, I quit my full-time job at Minot State University so I could go to school full time at Minot State University/Lake Region State College. I’ll graduate in May, 2019, with an AAS in American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies.


And then? 

I don’t know what I’m doing after that – and I’m not worrying about it now. I do have my sub teacher’s license, so that’s a fall-back thing.


I have also been enormously involved in local and national politics for the last two years and that takes up a lot of my time as well. I’m making signs, organizing, campaigning, and demonstrating. I’m feeling a little Norma Rae!

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 10.32.24 PM.png

Eventually …

I’ll be back … eventually. I’m not letting go of the blog, but I’m giving it a rest.

So, for now …

Gone Fishing.

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 6.06.16 PM


Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Uncategorized

Remember handwritten communication?


Vegas Baby!

We get emails and texts and messages all day long. Every day. Day after day.

But how often do you get a handwritten note in the mail? Can you even remember the last time you got a handwritten note? Do you remember how it made you feel?

Handwriting personal notes and letters is becoming a lost art, though some people (and some corporate CEOs) recognize the value.

I was raised on pen and paper; if we got a check from Aunt Peg for a birthday, we wrote a thank you note, and if we received a letter from Aunt Ginny, we wrote back.

With the advent of computers, social networking, and iPhones, we have lost the emotional connection of a handwritten note.

As soon as a machine is introduced into the equation, the personal touch is lost. We have machines that make furniture, instead of a wood-worker creating a legacy that lasts centuries. We have machines that die-cut knives, instead of a blacksmith forging a sword. We have a computer that displays words on a screen, instead of a person picking up a pen.

Arnie Fertig, for U. S. News & World Report, suggests a handwritten thank you after a job interview. I’ve done this – I got the job. Coincidence?

Regina Lewis for U. S. A. Today says that handwritten notes in business are refreshingly personal.


Leaf Partial

Douglas Conant was the CEO for Campbell Soup for ten years and sent 30,000 handwritten notes to employees and clients. When severely injured in a car accident, he received thousands of handwritten best wishes. He and his wife both said that all these notes helped him heal.

Is there a downside to handwritten notes? Yeah…I can appreciate the flip side of this coin.

To handwrite a note, you have to buy the card (or like I do, create my own), find a good pen, find a surface to write on, write, address the envelope, and find a stamp. Oh, the misery of it!

For decades now we’ve had computers at our disposal, most people have one at work, most people have them at home. Computers are always at our fingertips. For a handful of years, most of us have had a tiny computer in a pocket, available on our person. The smart phone. It’s so easy to swipe, type, send.

Janice Kaplan, author of The Gratitude Diaries interviewed dozens of executives and many said they say thank you with a paycheck. Kaplan said “You don’t say thank you with a paycheck. You say I’m paying you with a paycheck. You say thank you with a Thank You.”

There are numerous companies that have machines that duplicate handwriting. You can order handwritten notes, made by a machine. How oxymoronic is that?

Sadly, we are reminded of birthdays and anniversaries via FB. We see important news on Snapchat or Instagram. We can “like” or “love” with a poke.

Handwritten notes have emotion, memories, and personal thought. On the NBC Nightly News, Jane Derenowski said, “The drawings, handwriting, poems, and postmarks took me back to exactly the time, place, and person they were from.” You cannot invoke those feelings and images with an email or a text.Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 5.26.21 PM

I look at old letters and notes, and and I see that person, where they live, what we shared, the laughter, the pain, the friendship, the love.

I have seen people in offices tack up a note or card from a loved one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone tack up an email.

The Encyclopedia Britannica claims that handwriting is determined with a great emphasis on personality and that handwriting it almost as individual as fingerprints. Your handwriting represents you as an individual.

I like creating handwritten cards. I feel good writing them, I feel good sending them – knowing that the person on the other end will be pleased when he/she rips open that envelope, flips the card open, reads the handwritten words. I have heard from people that received my cards (some send an email, some a FB message, some even send back a handwritten card!), and the comments are always positive.

Do you have an event coming up, an engagement, a graduation, a new school year? Has someone in another department done you a great favor? Did your spouse or partner cook dinner all this week because you were sick? Or would you simply like to reconnect with someone you care about?

I ask you to write a note, now – to your spouse or partner, to your son or daughter, to your mom or dad, to a respected workmate or someone in another department who recently did you a favor.

And I’d like to know what the response is.

_  _  _  _  _

Have you sent a handwritten note lately? What was the response? Do you think you should re-introduce handwritten notes into your correspondence?


Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

These Old Boots


I picked up new boots in Maine in ‘76

Clean leather and heavy braided laces

And we trudged all over New England and

traipsed her wilderness and her rocky coast.

Through mighty pine forests

and through trickling streams and to

wondrous waterfalls.

Then we moved back to Delaware and we

made our way along the beaches and boardwalks.

Tromped in old family coal mines and anthracite tunnels.

We labored on an immense horse farm in Pennsylvania,

through dung and fields avoiding pitchforks and clomping hooves.

Trekked through the southwest desert,

rock climbing through the grandest canyons.

When came the flood in North Dakota,

I said, “Save those boots!”

Since, they have hung around

while we walked through more snow and sleet and ice than I ever could have imagined.

And they accompany me on

visits to my grandchildren.

Now, these boots are scraped and cracked

and are losing their tread.

But these old boots have been places.

*   *   *

And they are gonna take me through the March For Our Lives

event on Saturday, March 24, come snow or high water.  


Filed under Uncategorized

Are you a diet saboteur?

with Karen Magill

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.08.36 PM

I try to maintain a certain weight (145-150) and any time I see myself inching over 150, I tighten my belt…pun intended.

After having lost about 25 pounds many years ago, I don’t want to have to put myself through that again. I figure it’s easier to lose a few pounds than try to lose 25…or more.

Marching band diet

I take pride in the fact that my typical weight now is just 10 pounds over my high school weight. I was 135 in high school, but that was with drilling every dang day in marching band.Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.06.29 PM.png

Currently, some of my friends and acquaintances are trying to undermine my resolve. I’m nearly at the point where I’m considering avoiding certain social situations just so I don’t have to face these saboteurs.

Karen Magill has heard these comments –

  • Its what’s on the inside that counts
  • You aren’t that heavy
  • Enjoy life, eat that ____________
  • You’re over fifty, you are supposed to be heavier
  • You can’t look like you did when you were in your twenties
  • I worked so hard to make….
  • You only live once

These are all sabotages (whether you realize it or not) to whatever us dieters are turning down at the time. If a person hears this a few times a day, the resolve starts to crack.

My advice

  • If a friend tells you she is dieting, don’t wave a plate of brownies under her nose.
  • If a friend tells you she is cutting back, don’t say “oh, just one won’t hurt you” or other dismissals.
  • If a friend tells you she is trying to lose a few, don’t suggest the everything-fried buffet for lunch.
  • And for the love of all that is holy, can somebody please bring a fruit tray to work once in a while?

Support the dieting friend. Offer alternatives, like the nice place with the salad bar. Don’t wave cake, brownies, cookies, or donuts under her nose. Have a healthy recipe exchange. Offer to take a walk at break time. Don’t taunt or tease your dieting friend!

I live alone, so this problem I don’t have – if someone in your live-in family says he/she is cutting back, support them. Agree to keep the junk food out of the house. Support him or her in their choices and try new, healthier foods. And hey, you might lose a few yourself.

Here are some links I found helpful about saboteurs.

From WebMD

From Spark People

From U. S. News

From Prevention


Have YOU been a saboteur?


Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized