Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bright Sunny Day

Ten Things that Make Me Happy! 

  1. A bright sunny day 
  2. The tree outside my bedroom window in winter 
  3. The sound of water lapping on the shore 
  4. Comments on my blog 
  5. A tree covered hillside 
  6. Driving in dry weather 
  7. Airline tickets 
  8. Starting a bike ride - the first push off 
  9. The smell of bread baking 
  10. Capturing a great photograph 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How Many Hedgehogs

How many hedgehogs in this picture?  There is one in the bowl, and you can see three under the bowl, there were at least four and possibly five burrowing under the bowl.  Strange, or normal behavior for burrowing animals?  They are cute, but I just can't imagine them being cuddly.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Road Trip

Over Thanksgiving week I took a road trip, 550 miles each way, about 1,400 total miles.  Easy-peasy today. It is hard to imagine that only 100 years ago, driving 550 miles in 9  hours was well - unimaginable.  There were a few race cars built for speed and endurance that might do it, but the average car of the day could go fast enough and was not durable enough.  My how far we have come in 100 years, where will the next 100 years take us? 

It also got me to thinking about my learning to drive.  When I turned 16 my family was living in Michigan 8 months of the year and Florida 4 months of the year.  I really didn't care if I got a drivers license, my parents had been stingy about providing cars for my older siblings, the last "second-car" my middle brother had totaled in spectacular fashion a couple of years older flipping it end over end into some farmers flower beds, and walked home from the accident.  

My father on the other hand was insistent that I had to looking into driver's ed and getting a license.  I called the school that summer and asked, and the fall semester driver ed class didn't finish before we would be going to Florida for the winter, I figured I had my reprieve and I would take the class the following summer (also thinking this would get me out of 2-3 weeks of work on the farm.)  In a rate move, my father called the school the next day and then informed me I would be taking drivers ed as a special independent study in September.  Oh joys!  

Shortly after school started I checked in the with shop-teacher / driving instructor.  He talked to me for 2 minutes and gave me a copy of the text book and said the read the first half of the book and come back and see him when I was done.  It didn't take long, it was not a complex text and at the time I read about 40 pages an hour, with occasional gusts to 50 pages (and no one pointed out to me that this was an unusual talent.)  About a week later I went back the to shop teacher, he chuckled and handed me three multiple choice quizzes and a pen.  About 30 minutes later I gave them back to him, and he sat at his desk going over them and putting check marks next to nearly every answer.  Now I knew I hadn't studied hard and I really didn't care, but I didn't think I was doing that bad.  When He finished he looked up and said, you only missed 3 questions out of the 60, he was putting a check mark next the correct answers.  He said to read the rest of the book and come back and see him next week. The following Monday I was back in his office,  he asked me the average stopping distance from 60 miles per hour, the minimum safe following distance at 60 miles per hour and handed me a 10 question true or false final exam.  Five minutes later he confirmed that I had 10 correct answers and he asked me if I was free after school at 4:00 PM the next day to do some driving.  I was.  The first day of driving started off kind of rough, he asked the three students to put gas in the car and set up the jack to change a tire.  I had never used an electric gas pump (the one on the farm was gravity feed) and we had a hard time finding the gas cap on the Ford of the year.  But we managed, he stopped us before we started to loosen the lug nuts and told us we had the jack properly set and the wheels blocked.  And off we went.  The only think I remember about the route on the first drive was an impossibly rough section of gravel road the the instructor questioning my honesty when I told him I had not been driving illegally.  He said to plan on three hours the second evening, he had paperwork he needed to drop off in Saginaw and we would do some expressway driving.  There were only two of us the second day.  The other guy went first, and after the instructor backed the car out of the ditch, I took over.  On the expressway on-ramp the instructor slid over, put his foot on mine and mashed the accelerator screaming you drive the accelerator not the brake.  We arrived back at my house and I asked "what time tommorow?" and he replied you won't be back tomorrow, hang one just a second and he signed something on his clip board and said, "You passed, go get a learners permit."  

Now I was still not keen on the idea of getting a license, I couldn't really see why.  But dad was insistent.  My middle brother was very patient and took me driving, my mother only let me drive with her once.  A month or so later, just before we left to go to Florida for the winter, Mom scheduled me for a driving test.  The examiner had me go around one-square-mile, four left had turns, one with a turn light, one with a traffic light, one four way stop, one two way stop.  I didn't hit anything or drive off the road.  I was most nervous about the parking test. As we approached the end of the test drive, the examiner looked at me and said, "turn in the driveway on the right, and get it stopped in any of the 40 empty parking places in that lot without hitting anything, and you passed."  I didn't hit anything. 

The following spring we returned to Michigan and shortly after getting back into classes I needed to be there early or late, and asked my parents the evening before.  My father handed me the keys to his Chrysler and a key to the gas pump on the farm and said, always be careful.  A week later he traded the keys to his car for the keys to a red 1965 Ford pickup truck and said get yourself back and forth to school - we have always trusted you to be good. 

Tell us about your learning to drive?  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

If I Knew Then, What I Know Now

I turned 18 the week before I started my senior year of high school.  Not totally unusual, a result of my Phoenix adventure in the first year of the first grade - but that is another story.  One of the unique things for an American turning 18 when I did, the legal drinking age was 18.  One of my high school teachers taught me how to enjoy Scotch. So to stretch the Sunday imagination, I am going to have my 58 year old self interview my 18 year old self.  

1: What is the biggest surprise about the way I have turned out? 
2: Why didn't you go directly into college when you had the chance? 
3: So, at 58 I have a husband, how does my 18 year old self feel about that? 
4: I have lived in 4 states since I turned 18, how does my 18 year old self feel about all of moving around?  Where did you imagine you would be at this age? 
5: What advice does an 18 year old me have for this 58 year old me. 

For all questions - adjust to current age as appropriate. For question #3, adjust as needed for your personal relationship.

My answers: 

1: What is the biggest surprise about the way I have turned out? A law degree, really? At 18 you had only ever met one lawyer and he didn't impress you. At 18 I didn't think you had it in you to earn this much education.  

2: Why didn't you go directly into college when you had the chance? 
My 18 year old self lacked courage, belief in self and role models.  I was aimless and rather depressed.  

3: So, at 58 I have a husband, how does my 18 year old self feel about that? 
Oh thank-gwad you finally came to your senses.  The opportunities for fun you passed up or shied away from as a teenager, it you had known then what you know now, you would have had so much fun. 

4: I have lived in 4 states since I turned 18, how does my 18 year old self feel about all of moving around?  Where did you imagine you would be at this age? 
Wanderlust was instilled by your upbringing, what had kept you from living other places that you have fantasized about living?  

5: What advice does an 18 year old me have for this 58 year old me. 
Don't waste so much energy on meaningless little stuff.  And most of it is little stuff, will anyone care next year? If not, why care now? 

Saturday, November 26, 2016


I have always hated the curmudgeons who wanted to edit my resume, recently I found myself becoming that curmudgeon.  There five or six things that stood out.  A first impression is everything.  And it was not good.  So I sent it back through with notes on it such as  Courts don' have clients, when filing applications on behalf of a client - you are not filing them for the state (with the state, but not for the state.)  

How and when did I become a grumpy old man?  It can't be my delicate age?  Maybe it is overwork.  

I sent my comments back through a mentor, a professor who trying to help a student find a summer placement.  I urged her to wait until after exams, and then suggest to the student edits, then have the student send the resume and a cover letter.  No need to tell her that I was the one who suggested the edits, give us the opportunity to start with a clean slate.  

Was I cruel? 
Are students really getting that dull? 
Would it have been better if I had just ignored the resume?  

Friday, November 25, 2016


I was talking with a colleague recently who had made chicken soup the day before.  It was her first time making her mothers recipe from scratch. I asked if she started with a whole bird and she said no, she bought parts and had the meat counter at Safeway package chicken "soup bones."  She did make the stock.  

I asked why she didn't just buy a whole bird and she said she has never known how to cut one up.  I am amazed at the lack of basic kitchen skills of the average American cook.  I won't try to offer a tutorial, there are tons of videos on the Food Network or You-Tube.  Everyone should learn. The best way, is watch a master, buy a couple of birds and go to it.  

My English grandmother taught me.  Now grandmother Emily was not the best cook, but she understood the basics and she took the time to show me how.  She had learned from her late mother-in-law who kept chickens first in the backyard at the house in the city, and later in her declining years on the farm.  The last livestock other than bees on the farm were grannies chickens and one milk cow.  When she died, the livestock all went.  She would bring a "fresh" chicken in from the barn, and she showed grandmother Emily how to cut it up, and she showed me. I was never shown how to get the chicken from the chicken coop, ready for the kitchen.  I sometimes wonder if I should learn, there is a farm in Maryland that offers Saturday classes in chicken butchery.   

Emily also showed me how to can fruits and vegetables. I was her helper, in the last few years she canned, she needed help with the heavy lifting.  When I am in a nesting mood, I make pickles or applesauce, easy stuff to make and preserve.     

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  

This year I am thankful for a lot of things.  I don't pause often enough to take stock of what I have to be thankful for.  So let me try for a top 10 list today. 
1: My sweet Husband, with every passing year I learn more and more about love.
2: My health, there is so much that I can do, I need to focus on that. 
3: My mind, it is a strange mind - it works in odd ways - but it allows me to do things that not everyone can do. 
4: Being able to travel, I continue to enjoy the adventure of travel and I am still able to do so.  
5: My work, despite the daily frustrations, overall I love what I do, and the potential I have for making a difference in the lives of others - and it pays the bills 
6: Health insurance, I'd be dead or bankrupt without it. 
7: Family and Friends, social connections connect us to the world outside ourselves 
8: Being well educated, I have learned how to think 
9: Reading, it opens the doors to the world 
10: The opportunities for adventure I encounter each year.  

What is your top 10 for this year? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What Is It About

What is it about formal gardens that intrigues me, draws me in, makes me want to walk the paths, stop and examine the foliage and flowers. I am also attracted to greenhouses or conservatories.  I didn't grow up in a land of formal gardens, quite the contrary the funny farm I grew up on was wild and bramble filled, with only parts of it tamed by mowing with a small tractor.  

I also enjoy a well tended vegetable garden. Planted with care and designed to produce a plentiful supply of fresh produce.  I have grown sweet peas, I know what they taste like fresh off the vine - they don't travel well, sorry Birdseye, frozen is close but not the same as fresh.  I know what a tomato tastes like, still warm from the afternoon sun.  Tomatoes should never be refrigerated, it changes the taste in ways that can not be unchanged.  Sadly most Americans don't know what a fresh tomato tastes like these days.  

Every place I have lived since I was 20 years old, I have found the local gardens and made time for walks among the plants.  I hope I always will.  

Where do you like to wander and wonder?  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Quiet Walk in the Woods

I never really appreciated the family farm in Michigan that I grew up on.  I call it a farm, but it was really just and 80 acre back yard.  Very little of it was devoted to agriculture, my grandfather had 50 or 60 colonies of bees in the edge of the trees along the small middle field, the big fields between the old farm house and the small house my parents added to the farm was sometimes rented or sharecropped with local farmers - usually for corn or wheat.  The middle field was occasionally cut for hay, looking back I don't know why it didn't grow in with trees.  The far back field, by the old dump - I seldom if ever saw.  Most of the land, at least 40 of the 80 acres was covered in trees.  And like the forbidden forest in the Wizard of Oz, I stayed away and stayed out of the trees for the most part.  There was an irrational fear of poison ivy - looking back that was just as easy to tangle with around the fringes of the yard. There was a little wildlife, but really nothing that was harmful.  And yet I stayed out of the woods.  What a shame.  

Later in life I learned the joys of a nice quiet walk in the woods.  I prefer a reasonably well maintained trail. I have regained the ability to walk on rough surfaces, though steep grades are a bigger challenge than before.  

The picture above was taken recently in Washington's Woods, at the Mt Vernon Estate.  It is the route less traveled.  Take the main trail to the lower far, veer right at the cattle pen, go around behind that pen and take the bridge across the ravine, the trail is a little steep in places, and there are steps on the far end near the threshing barn, but it is a nice walk, on a quiet day.  Time to reflect on life in the woods.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

One thing leads to another

It is the end of my fall Conference season for this year.  Next year Conference season runs into mid November with a session in Huntington Beach, California.  At times I like attending, I try to attend at least one a year that I am not speaking at, most of the time I go to speak, and hang around and hear other speakers.

People sometimes ask how I get to travel so much.  A big part of it is speaking at conferences.  My first job out of law school the first year the office sent me to a couple of conferences, one in DC and one in New Orleans. Other than being told I was going, not asked, and being sent to New Orleans on like 3 days notice, I very much enjoyed the experience and learned from it.  The following year I asked about going to a couple of conferences and was told only one.  I complained that my colleague Dennis had been to three and I was told that he was speaking at them. I rapidly figured out that if I was on the agenda as a speaker, the office would fund the travel.  I like to travel and I am not afraid of public speaking (part of my weird brain - I am not afraid of talking to a large crowd.)  So I started submitting proposals to speak at conferences.  When the proposals were accepted I had to develop materials, and write articles.  The conference presentations and articles got me noticed and I picked up a consulting contract to do training.  That got me noticed and a couple of articles got published.  That led to me being noticed when this job came open, and this job came with a travel budget.  One thing led to another, to another.  Now my general travel budget was cut this year, but I just discovered that another little project I am managing has a $9,000 travel budget in it that no one has any plans for.  I need a couple of Medical conferences in April, May, or June of next year.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Roots, We want to hear about your family

To really understand a person, it helps to know where they came from.  Some people grow into their family history, some grow away from it, in both cases the past shapes who we are and what we do.  To truly know a person, you need to know a little about their family. Hence my Sunday Five questions this week. 

1: Where are you from? 
2: Where was your mother born and describe her parents?  
3: Where was your father born and describe his parents? 
4: What did you parents do for a living? 
5: Describe your siblings? 

My Answers:
1: Where I am from is a complicated answer, I was born in Michigan, went to part of the first grade in Phoenix, I split high school between Michigan and Florida.  I have lived in five states. I spent most of childhood on an 80 acre funny farm, about 70 miles north of Detroit.   

2: My mother was born in very rural Michigan, north of Lansing.  Her parents were subsistence farmers,  her father supplemented his income as a shovel or drag-line operator. My mother was a teenager when they had electricity in the house for the first time. Neither of her parents went to school beyond the 8th grade.  

3: My father was born in the suburbs of Detroit. His mother was born in London, his father in rural Illinois near St Louis.  His father's family moved to Detroit to work in the factories, his mother's father was in Detroit working on a tunnel project when they met.  My grandmother worked in an office during WW-II (and liked it) my grandfather worked for Ford for 30 years and then let his hobby of beekeeping become a his life's work as a farmer. 

4: My mother liked to work outside the home, she moved the city after high school and worked in a bank and later in the payroll department at Chrysler until my brothers were born,  she went back to work in an office when I was about 10, worked on the farm with my father and worked in retail after "retirement."  My father started out as a machinist, and followed his father onto the honey farm / funny farm. We had livestock, millions of bees - nothing else on the farm.  After he "retired" he worked as a parts buyer in a cruise-missile factory for a few years.  My father quit school during World War II and went to work, and into the Army near the end of the War, he passed the GED after I finished high school.  

5: I am the youngest of four children.  My oldest brother, who turns 65 this month, was in the Navy, worked in ship yards, and then in IT, he has a BA and an MBA.  My middle brother drives a truck for Disney, he has worked for the rat for about 40 years.  He had some developmental issues and has done really well with his life.  My sister, is about 2 years older than I am.  She finished high school and stayed in Michigan, she has two adult sons, she has worked hard doing everything from farm labor, to factories, to care giving, to office manager in car dealerships, she earned her BA about the time she quit working.  She married her high school sweetheart a couple of years ago, her second marriage, his fourth I think.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Slip Sliding Away

Skating, I never could skate.  Weak ankles, or weak nerves, and a rational fear of falling, a strong dislike of cold and well winter sports where never my thing. 

Look at the simple physics of a single blade ice skate don't make any sense.  They make about as much sense as 6 inch spike heals, by the way I have never worn cha-cha heals.  I did have a couple of pairs of platform shoes back in the 1970's, but it was the 70's.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Did they have sheep in the 18th century?

It was a lovely day out at Mt Vernon a week or so ago.  The crowds were thin, the weather cool and clear.  I had a nice long walk.  I always stop to say HI! to our friends the sheep.  I was walking away from one of the pens and a young family was coming the other way.  The daddy asked, is there anything to see? I replied, why yes, the sheep our out in the sun.  He replied, did they have sheep in the 18th century?  

Yes they did.  Sheep are one of the oldest domesticated herd animals in mankind.  The variety varies and includes goat (in my opinion inferior animals) but shepherding is one of the oldest forms of agriculture and existed pretty much any place there were humans.  Sheep provide, fiber, milk, and meat.  

I realized something while I was walking about, I can tell what kind of animals are in the pen, by the smell of the manure.  I am sure that talent will serve me well someday.  

I enjoy historic farming exhibits.  Mt Vernon has a nice one.  I'd like to see more demonstration and narration.  Perhaps while I am in Kentucky I will venture out to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.  

What is your reaction to agriculture?    

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I love out of they way, old, but not extraordinary Italian churches.  The best ones, are the ones that were on lean times and never modernized.  Centuries of near no change.  Think of the joys and sorrows these walls have witnessed and still stand.  I wonder if the builders, knew that they were building something that would amaze visitors hundreds of years later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I almost missed a day

I slept 10 hours last night - a very rare experience for me.  And I checked my blog for early morning comments and I my blog was still stuck on yesterday.  I write the posts ahead and schedule them to post at midnight my time.  Nada, nothing, it was yesterday all over again.  I really don't want yesterday all over again.  Too many idiots in my day yesterday.  So here I am before caffeine kicks in trying to write a few coherent sentences to assure the world it is today, not yesterday redux.   

Happy Humpday - there are two paths to good luck on a Wednesday, rub a camel on the nose or  - - - well - - - a good hump.  
Have a WONDERFUL Wednesday. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Aging Parents

For the first time in over 15 years, I am not going to Florida for a week with my parents for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Most years I have flown down, the last 4 years I have driven down and spent the better part of a week with them.  They are both in very poor health.  I visit every 2-4 months, usually for 2-4 days.  I notice how tiring having an extra person in and out of the house is for them. So I decided that spending a week is not a good idea for them (or for me.)  If I am spending less then 4 or 5 days, driving down does not make sense as it is 12-14 hours drive time each way.  So I need to fly for shorter visits. 

Mom has been in very poor health for a couple of years.  The time to make travel plans if I am flying for Thanksgiving or Christmas was 2-3 months ago, and honestly at that time she was in crisis mode and every time my phone chimed I braced myself for a message saying she was dead.  She is tougher than anyone thought, she is still hanging on. I have flown down a couple of times for a crisis that looked like the end, and it was not.  Every time I leave I brace myself for this being "the last time."  The "last visit" gets harder to do - the more times you I do it.  

So, I am flying down to see them for a long weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I fly down on a Friday, and home on Monday.  This gives me two full days, only three hotel nights (the house is full with family and caregivers.)  I keep reassuring myself that this is enough.  

I am going to Lexington for Thanksgiving with my sweet hubby this year, only the second time I have done that since 2008.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nothing to fear, but fear itself

This started out as a comment on a post from Spo, the more I wrote the more I came to realize that I was exploring a profound insight into my being, that this could make an interesting post.  

There is a lot of fear and anger going around, what with last weeks election.  Being inside the bubble of Washington DC, people are stunned by the outcome - they didn't see it coming and they are letting their fears and anger overcome them. Change is never easy and when Trump says he is going to "drain the swamp" that is DC, a lot of people started looking for lower ground.  

My greatest enemy is myself.  I can do real harm by allowing my fears and anger to rule my rational mind.  The fears and anger are easily fed by outside sources.  Fears also keep me safe from real danger. My rational mind has to sort the real danger from the unreal.  My anger can keep me from being productive or liked. Decades ago my father said, if you want to succeed in life you must learn to control your temper, and I do.  But, if I over control my temper, my anger, I am disrespected and walked all over - treated as a doormat. So I must balance the rational control with standing up for what myself. 

I can control what I allow in. I deleted a book off my Kindle this week, the Feminist Fight Club, only part way through because the angry tone was feeding my anger.  I then started reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a classic gonzo story of a psycho trip to Las Vegas fueled by drugs and alcohol - some days I need to rethink my choice of reading materials. Between exhaustion and the stress of the day, I can see the edges of my grip on reality.  There is a fine line between genius and crazy-ass-bitch - a couple of times this past week I have been too close to crossing that line.  

I have been very angry this past week.  A leader let his inner dictator come out (no I am not talking about a government official) disregarded the process he had helped create, disrespecting the work that many people had done and DEMANDED, that it be done over because HE DIDN'T LIKE THE OUTCOME.  I, and apparently I alone, demonstrated that I have a spine and objected.  And no one joined me in objecting. The committee was intimidated into doing over work that had already been completed.  They allowed themselves to be walked all over by a bully.  They should all go have a X-Ray done to assure that they have a spine, I know I do, I have the X-Rays and MRI's to prove it. Mine is even reinforced with titanium.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What About Work?

I know I am a little bit strange, among other things, I like work.  Work has not always been kind to me, but I feel kind of adrift without it.  Like many of us, my work, is a part of my identity as a person.  So let's explore our feelings about work shall we? 

1: At work are you a lone-wolf or a team player? 
2: Do you view "feedback" as useful guidance or needless meddling? 
3: In a 15 second elevator conversation, how to do describe the work you do (or are retired from)? 
4: Do you take scheduled breaks at work, or do you work through the day pausing only when you need to? 
5: If you were 21 again, and Bill Gates offered to pay you to go to school for a new career, what would you do? 

My Answers: 
1: I am a lone wolf at work, I prefer to be left alone to get the job done.  I am not good at delegating. 
2: Most feedback is useless meddling, tell me up front how you want it done and trust me to get it done. 
3: I am attorney who does research and program development on issues in law and aging. 
4: I work through the day, I usually eat lunch at my desk while working, breaks are as needed and as short as needed. 
5: If I had known then, what I know now, I would have gone to Medical School.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Post Election Thoughts

I have to admit I was surprised by the outcome of the election. When asked on Monday what I thought the outcome would be, I speculated that it might be a major sweep - it was not.  The morning after, a neighbor of mine said she should have bet $100,000 24-hours before on the morning of election day on Trump to win, the bookmakers were offered 10 to 1 or 11 to 1 odds.  She said if she had bet a $100,000, she would now have a little over a million-dollars to flee to Canada with.  Fleeing is not an option for me, I need this job.  Like it or not, Trump will be president for four years starting in January (I am not interested in attending the inauguration - the reviewing stand across the White House is under construction already.) So I need to figure out how to live with it.  I have some experience, a couple of times in my lifetime I was deeply disappointed the outcome of an election.  So what do I do? 

I start with a reality check that the President has limited power.  He has to get Congress to agree to pass legislation.  If he vetos legislation, Congress can override.  He has control of the senior management of the executive branch - and that is where the "rubber meets the road" in carrying out federal programs.  Well sort of, he has control over a very thin layer of senior officials, the rest are career civil servants and he has little control and no ability to fire them.  Before an election the executive agencies tie as much up in long term contracts as they can, limiting the new administrations' ability to make meaningful changes in the first term.  

Trump said some nasty things during the campaign.  Much of what he blustered that he would do, he can't do within the law or the Constitution.  Some of it he can do.  

The world will not come to an end. Over the next four year, I will largely ignore the president.  I can do that.  I will respect the office, if not the person. I'll be free on the nights of the State of the Union address for the next four years.  

I will stand tall as who I am.  I will support LGBT advocacy organizations that seek to protect my rights.   

I expect that Trump will be a one term wonder.  
I have some advice for Donald J Trump. 

You campaigned on the extreme, lead to the middle.  Seek common ground.  Remember you can't balance the budget, by cutting income.  Move the extremist of the Republican party to the periphery.  Dump Gingrich, and Giuliani - they have too much baggage. Be the president of all Americans.  Not just the Christians, not just the white men and women, not just the straight people, all of us.  Common sense and working across the aisle, will lead to success.  

Friday, November 11, 2016


England has a special place in my heart, my paternal Grandmother was born in London, her mother who lived with my grandparents during my teen years was born in Wales.  London was my first destination in Europe, back in May of 1990.  I identify as being ethnically English, though in all likelihood there is a fair amount of Irish and German ancestry in the family - we really have no idea where my mother's family comes from - her mother's answer was Ohio. 

In many ways England is an easy place for Americans to travel to, language is less of an issue, the trains are fairly reliable and more modern than Amtrak, just don't try to drive.  Driving on the opposite side of the road is an adventure for the young and arrogant - trust me - I rented a car for my first trip to London.  When you see Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace on TV, I have driven through and past them all.  How I did it without hitting anything or running over a corgi or two I will never know.  I was so lost, I paid a taxi driver to show me the way to the hotel, as I recall I gave him 50 pounds for a 20 pound fare, I was so happy to park the car.  

A few years ago we met up with Mr Bert and his Mr Someone in York, and rented a house in a small village in Yorkshire for a week.  Mr Bert and Mr Someone drove for the week.  It was much saner.  

It has been a few years since I was last in England, I recall thinking how London felt like a second home.  I could settle into life there quite easily. 

Where is your second home? 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Real Grind

This was taken in an Eagle Rescue / rehab center in Ketchikan, Alaska. Noble birds visiting and wishing one another well.

I am running out of steam, I have had a couple of six day work weeks.  I have been a part of three national conferences, one of which I produce, four conference presentations, and carrying my normal workload in the office.  I have another couple of busy, though only five day weeks, and then I am taking a week off - going for snuggles with the my sweet bear.

My work runs in cycles,  April - May, and October - November are the busiest times of the year.  When I moved to DC I vowed to not work at home, unless I started sleeping in my office. I can't get comfortable to sleep in the office, so I seldom work at home.  I have done an extraordinary job of separating work and personal time.  It is much healthier for me.  In the past I have worked tons of six and seven day weeks and allowed work to intrude into my home life.  Doing so took a toll on my physical and mental health.  I work a few weekend days, because of conference commitments and work related travel.  I try to take a free day during the week to balance that out - when I can. When obligations stack up like they have the last three weeks, the grind takes a toll, my writing and creativity start to fade.  I am not paid to produce widgets, I am paid to think and be creative.  I need time, rest and flexibility to do that effectively.  I have slogged through, but wonder if last Saturdays closing plenary at a national conference would have been better - if it was not at the end of the grind, and I had more time to think about how to focus on the culture change in decision making that we are trying to encourage.  We did good, could we have done better?

When I am deep in the grind, I take real days off, when I take a day off.  I do self indulgent things that I want to do.  I sleep late, or take a nap when I can.  It helps.  I recognize that I am not doing my best work, when I am in the grind.  And when I have a moment I flash back the great adventures.  I had a nice flash back moment on Saturday, the second question was from a person who had heard me speak in Hawaii in February 2015 - who started out by saying they need to have me come back.  I would re-live that adventure in the drop of a hat, I'd board the inside passage cruise to Alaska again also.

When you are in the grind, what adventure to you think of?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Oh Shit!

I wish I could say wake me when this nightmare is over, but that would imply that I had slept well enough to have a nightmare.  

To all of the a$$holes who voted for Gary Johnson, instead of Hillary Clinton, because you wanted an outsider for president, CONGRATULATIONS, you elected Donald J Trump president of the United States.  He is an outsider.  I'll check back with you in a couple of years and see how that worked out for you all.  

I have to remind myself, the President alone, without collaboration from  Congress can do very-very little.  Just look at how little has been done in the past 6 years.  I don't think the Republicans in Congress are really going to see eye-to-eye with Trump.  He is in for a very frustrating four years.  And he can't fire most of the people who will stand in his way.  He has no clue, what he has gotten himself into.  All presidents make a few mistakes in the first few months, they either try to do things that lack authority to do, or they surround themselves with inside advisers, who do evil things - because they know the system and what they can do.  I truly hope that Trump chooses the first option.  If he is going to be an outsider, he needs to avoid surrounding him with the party insiders who helped him get elected.  

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

I voted

No big surprise,  I voted for Hillary.  Very short wait this morning. 

Seals on the Beach

A few years ago, we were in San Diego for a conference and an old grad school friend of Dr J's picked us up and took us just north of the city, out to the beach for breakfast.  This was near the restaurant.  Other than San Francisco I had never seen seals in the wild.  How cute.

It is time to make America cute again.

What is the cutest thing you have seen while travling?

Monday, November 07, 2016

Taking a Picture of You, Taking a Picture of Me

Take a picture of me, and I'll take one right back.

This was taken on the drive from Reykjavik back to the airport.  The landscape along the way for 10 miles looks very much like this.  There are a few side roads you can turn off on, we took one that runs  down to the the homes closer to the water and parked and had a little walk around.  The village across the bay is the town, near the international airport.  We had lunch near there.

See, no politics, no drama, just a nice adventurous landscape. Iceland has had, or is about to have a general election, the Pirate Party is nearing a majority in government.

Would you vote for a Pirate tomorrow?

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sunday Question

I will take the easy way out this week, I saw this one Facebook the other day.

I come up with $60 for my life of misadventures.
1, as a young adult a very-very long time ago - I kind of liked it
4,  there is this wonderful beach in Florida
7, at least once intentionally - we won't count the unintentional times
8, I have bent a hood and a couple of fenders - nothing totaled
16, I think I have paid three of them in my life, the last one was for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a cross walk - I missed her by inches - but paid the ticket just the same - that was close to 20 years ago.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

21 Things I Like (in no specific order):

I saw this on two or three other bloggers pages - Thank you Anne Marie

21 Things I like in no specific order:

  1. Travel 
  2. boats
  3. planes
  4. trains
  5. chocolate
  6. cheese 
  7. baking bread
  8. reading 
  9. walking - being able to feel my feet 
  10. creating photographs
  11. music 
  12. coins 
  13. roses 
  14. penguins
  15. sheep 
  16. old-mellow-dogs 
  17. cats
  18. cooking 
  19. My-Sweet-Husband 
  20. bicycles 
  21. quiet 
  22. finding the connections and differences between vaguely related data 
  23. losing track of how many things I like 

Friday, November 04, 2016

Sleeping Bear Dunes

I grew up in the thumb area of Michigan, well sort of, when we weren't in Florida.  But I didn't see the Michigan side of Lake Michigan until a few years ago.  I had seen Lake Huron, and Lake Erie, I had been to Mackinac Island - but we flew in and out of there.  A had heard of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and a couple of years ago I got a chance to see them one fall.  

Wow!  A rather big sand pile.  I usually think of graffiti as vandalism, but I was somehow enchanted by the inscription above.  There was another one, I didn't get a picture of that basically said that climbing back up the dune I thought I was going to die.  I didn't try. 

What do you think, vandalism or public service?  

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Those Orange Shoes Again

Last May when I was traveling, one of my readers thought they had seen me in an airport, and when I posted a picture of myself in the airport wearing the orange shoes on the blog, confirmed that they had in deed seen me. Here I am in the same orange shoes, reflected in the paint on a Aston Martin parked at the car wash while I was waiting for my car to cleaned.  I like the shoes, how much, when the style and color went on clearance - I bought another pair.  They are in the box in the closet for next summer.  

I like bright colorful shoes for summer.  I have a pair in a bright green, that literally glow in the dark.   

What do you like to wear for fun? 

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

I May be Losing my Sense of Humor

I don't find funny, things I use to find funny, perhaps I am losing my sense of humor. Perhaps I am developing a better understanding of life and the human condition.  

I don't find sexist jokes funny anymore.  Over the decades I have told my fair share of dumb blond jokes, and neanderthal men jokes.   I don't find them funny anymore, those jokes ridicule people, for being who they are, the jokes encourage negative stereotypes.  

I don't find humor in ageism any longer.  If we privileged to live long enough, we will all be old some day.  Age brings changes, some positive, some not.  Age is a part of life. There is great insight and wisdom in age. Making fun of age, promotes the concept that being old somehow makes a person less valued as a person.  

I no longer find humor in disability.  We are persons first.  Coming within a millimeter or so of spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair, changed my perspective.  No two of us have the same ability, it does not make one persons ability funny.    

I no longer find humor in race, or ethnicity.  I apologize for all of tasteless jokes I have told over the decades.  Making fun of a person, based on who they are, or where their family is from, is bigoted and narrow minded.  It is a small world, all of us are from someplace else, all of us are different in some way.  

Yes, we are a product of our beginnings, but that does not doom us to not grow and change, and move beyond.  

I find myself less capable of tolerating excuses and self pity. Life can be cruel, get over it, or get some help with developing coping skills.  I have, and I have moved on, driving myself with a simple mantra, have I done the best I can with what I have to work with? I have some old friends who wallow in their woe, and don't do anything to try to improve their lot in life.  After a few decades it is wearing thin.  Life is the adventure you seize, not the one you wish you had. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Don't they look thrilled?

One of my projects is organizing a national conference.  It was last Thursday and Friday.  Two long days, with a busy agenda.  We had 34 total session, 4 plenary sessions and 30 workshops.  About 90 speakers, over 250 attendees.  Planning for the conference started over a year ago.  

I know every little thing that went wrong, three speakers who didn't bring their power point presentations, a couple of projector compatibility issues, one destroyed Mac adapter cable (a $45 cable,) the only speaker with mobility issues being scheduled in the only room with a riser or stage with stairs (I didn't know she needed accommodations,) intermittent sound gremlins in two sessions.  I will fix most of these next year, extra reminder emails to the speakers about power points, computers and cables, adding a line to the speaker confirmation asking for an email with any accommodation that is needed.  We had the usual array of attendees showing up thinking they had registered when they had not - that will always happen. I learn every time, how to make it better.  

I also know what went right, we had 90 wonderful speakers, who provided world class training on a wide array of substantive and policy issues.  We had a capacity crowd, in fact we somehow made comfortable over 250 people in a space that was designed for 220.  The hotel staff did an amazing job of moving folding walls in the meeting space, setting up and trouble shooting audio visual issues.  The food was good, plentiful and on time.  We sold all but 4 of the special edition conference materials books (by mistake an extra 20 were shipped to the conference site and we figured we would have to pay to ship them back the warehouse.)   A project with no budget, grossed over $110,000 - most of which will be paid for food, drink and audio visual costs.  We not only met our financial projections, we blew them out of the water.  

I do this project, because I love it.  About a dozen years ago, I volunteered to serve on the planning committee, and was told "NO!" they didn't want any outsiders who might not think like they did involved.  I am now in my fourth year of chairing that committee,  I continue to be a big tent person, I openly invite people to join the committee, and welcome all who volunteer.  Everyone brings something to the table, even if it just one idea, one connection, one extra attendee, it is worth it.  Even if they don't attend, having people know that they are welcome to be a part of this process - that we want to work collaboratively to deliver the best conference we can is worth it. Planning is under way for 2017.