Czech Memories


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I am thinking back to the time I visited Czechoslovakia as a young newlywed.  Things weren't so peachy for their newlyweds' and people back in the 70's in the now Czech Republic. There was a very restrictive government in place at that time.

I remember enjoying a delicious lunch in the Czech Republic, and then asking what was the meat?  It was  "Venison" , I was told.  I had never imagined eating deer meat.  It wasn't as appealing as the steak I have just finished.

Every town we passed through had the distinguishable iron and sickle on the side of the road.

I remember a young man boarding our bus, so young that he still had acne.  He carried a rifle along his back, and asked everyone to display their passport.  Our tour bus was so humid and hot, and we were asked to endure that, (with the doors and windows closed), until one hour later when he checked everyone out.

We sat there in resolute, going through our personal items to oblige the young man. That was the then Czechoslovakia.  If not for the grace of God, and the men that fought for us, this would be the United States.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we were warned by our tour guide NOT to discuss anything political in our  rooms.  Can you imagine?  The rooms might be bugged.  It was totally unfathomable to me.  Coming from the United States and going into a country were you were not free to discuss politics even in the privacy of one's room!

The hotel had not changed in decor since the 30's.  All the furniture smelled of  mildew, and was worn and tired, like its' country at that time.  I joked that our hotel elevator operator looked like Count Dracula.  He had black,slick hair, parted down the middle.  the only good thing about the hotel were its' drink prices, less than a dollar for mixed drinks! Amazing.  That was a synopsis of forlorn Czechoslovakia circa 1977.

Touring Czechoslovakia was a hidden treasure of art.  I marveled at the old city square clock, with revolving animated ornaments, that rotated on the hour, a must see for any tourist.  And then there was the priceless crystal, a serving tray could be bought for $10.00 back in the day, and one was free to bring back as much as one could carry!

I never will forget the mixture of fear and wonder that I felt visiting that country.  Before it was liberated, before it was the cosmopolitan and trendy city it is today.

So it seems appropriate, to recognize the great sacrifices made for us, by young men that gave up so much - so we can enjoy good food, family and an enviable quality of life.

Somehow a simple thank you isn't enough.  The best gifts we receive can never really be given back.

 There is no way to make up for the gift of freedom.

During the Viet Nam war, I wrote to service men on the "Sea Tiger."  A group  of girls in our high school passed out names of men that wanted a pen pal.    I felt so good writing them, and to know they looked forward to receiving my letters.  I pray that every one of them made it back home safely.

So it is, with great humility, and not nearly enough appreciation, that on this day I whisper;  "thank you."



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Writers' Pain

I now understand why I never seriously pursued being a writer.  It is too painful to write.  Just writing my blog takes it all out of me.  I believe this because, to write good stories or copy, there has to be some measure of truth for the reader.  People have to relate to what you write,  and to do that - one has to bare it all for readers- which I find extremely difficult.
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For example; I always destroyed my diaries, and all my personal journals.  I thought:  What if I get in an accident?  Someone will actually FIND and READ these things.  So I got rid of them.

 In conversation, in contrast, I have no trouble sharing personal information with everyone-  a not so becoming trait.  There is a finality about writing , putting the pen to the paper, and once it is written- you are taking a stand on issues.  There is no flexibility after that.

Maybe I figure at this point of my life, what the heck, that it doesn't really matter what others think of me, so I can let it all hang out.  Truth is:  writing is cathartic for me.  I feel cleansed after I finish.  Although at times I must admit, I don't want to go through the process.

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It was far easier to interview other people.  When I was in college, and I got to cover concerts of Cat Stevens, Rod McKuen, Donovan.  Oh, and I forgot the late and great Danny Thomas.

  I felt so polished, and, best of all I had the protection of my editor, who would go over my copy with a magnifying glass.

These days, I have no Editor, and my eyes aren't all that good,  I can't guarantee flawless copy. but I do my best to make it appealing and readable.

 But the glamour is gone, I can only share what I have experienced in my lifetime with my audience.  It may strike a chord with some, and not even warrant a "click" for others.


So I continue writing, I don't have any fun concerts to cover anymore, I can't sit down with the likes of Danny Thomas, or Donovan or other celebrities that I got to interview back in the day.

Guardian.co.uk 
However, I am well aware I am just one pebble in a sea of  blogs, and few are  probably reading what I have to share anyway.  This makes the process much easier!



Betrayed

I have been betrayed.   I was betrayed all along.  I didn't want to look at reality.   My shrink told me that I am grieving. This was just a stage that I was going through, not unusual, part of the process.  I wish someone could just rewire my brain, fix it so I never remembered meeting "A,"  erase all the memories.

In the beginning of it all, I was enthralled.  But as aspects of the relationship began to rear their ugly head, this terrible insecure feeling began to creep up on me.

I was dating an alcoholic.  I thought I could make it go away.  I kept trying for two years.  I was courted with three dozen roses for my birthday, taken to the finest restaurants, I could even invite my closest friends along, I was living like a rock star.  I thought.

Things began to go from fabulous to horrible.  Days would go by and I didn't receive a call. Pills would be missing from my cabinet.  Wine was missing from my cupboards. I could never count on him.

 We were invited to a wedding of a close family friend, who lives in Las Vegas. He agreed to attend.  As time wore on, it became apparent that he had no intention of going.

 I was miserable and disappointed.

Looking back, I remember a comment I got early on when I expressed my need to hear from him, and that I needed him to be there for me.   His response was matter-of-fact: "I am not capable of that."  So why didn't I listen, why did I hang on to false hope?

I decided to go into therapy and I was told to make a list of all the qualities I admire in a man so I did:

  • Loyalty
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Tall
  • Handsome
  • Compassionate
  • Reliable
  • Successful
  • Generous
  • Sense of humor
  • Family oriented

I showed him the list..."none of that is me," was his response.  You think I would have gotten a clue.  I continued to carry on with this man off and on for two years.  I saw the ugly side of things, including the pills (which he insisted were for his attention deficit disorder).  Escorting him to AA meetings, and then having him disappear into thin air- to later find him an empty building- with no excuse. Was he there to pick up pills?  What kind of drugs?  I was numb.  But I was drawn into this web of deception, and would not try to escape.

I pleaded with him to get to the Alcoholic Recovery Center (ARC) to dry out.  He agreed, and I heard nothing from him for three days.  When I did get a call on the 4th day, he was very cavalier about his experience,  He laughed (uncharacteristically) that it was "rough."  Later that night, we argued when he told me that "I cannot live alone, I am getting a roommate through AA".  I thought this was a terrible mistake, that he needed to go into rehabilitation, not get a roommate!

The next day, I went to collect him for church, and there, big as life, sat an attractive, middle-aged woman that  he apparently met at the ARC over the last three day stay, whom he invited to his home!  Stunned, I asked:  "Who are you?" she responded that she was a friend of  "A'"s.

 I was devastated.

 I got to church and just broke down in front of my friend and confidant, our parish priest.  Of course, I was warned time and time again, that this was not the man I should be seeing, that nothing good could come from this.

Seven days passed and I finally received a call from "A."  "I know you met my house guest," he said.  "She will be staying with  me for a few days."  I was mortified.  Later the following week,  I ran into "A" at the gym, he raised his voice when I confronted him (an obvious sign of guilt).  He maintained that this woman was just company, a friend, someone to help him get by and share expenses.  Bull____.   How could someone do something so hurtful?

 I still did not understand that alcoholics only care for themselves.  That they are narcissistic at best, and down right criminal at worst.  They will do anything to advance their cause (to stay high).

I  made one last attempt to help "A" get back into the mainstream; but, no surprise, my efforts failed.   He called me a couple of times, but I never responded.  Fast forward seven months, I got news through an a friend that he and his new beloved (the same friend from the ARC), had a blow up and he was in jail, and she was in the hospital with an emotional breakdown.

A part of me said, great, payback is a bitch! Another part of me prayed for them.  Yet still I ache, it hurts, I still hold onto false hopes.   At this point, I just pray to forget the whole experience.  I still count the months' hoping that by next month I will forget.  But I don't forget.  My mind still replays the good times back to me.  I fight back by telling myself it is over.

If I could just believe that.

Senior Fashionista



(Getty Photo)

Imagine: You are 96 years old, and you've spent your life traveling the globe;  places as far away as Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nigeria to help support women's issues.  You're inspired by the culture and dress. You love helping people and are featured on a blog for senior fashionista's in their 70,'s 80's and 90's!  You take your place at the front row of Joanna Mastroianni's fall fashion show at Lincoln Center, and there you die.

That was Zelda Kaplan's final fashion statement.  I can't imagine a better way to die!  Doing what you love, drawing your last breath after taking a look at a designer dress you admire.  Do you think that's where we get the term "breathtaking?" http://www.stylelist.com/2012/02/15/zelda-kaplan-dead_n_1280450.html?ref=stylelist&just_reloaded=1

The story gives new meaning to the term fashionista.  Ms. Kaplan wore African prints, and other exotic African frocks inspired by the culture she loved, and that loved her back.   According to The New York Times, she examined issues on women's rights of inheritance and created awareness regarding female genitalia mutilation.  She visited scores of African villages and became their mouth piece- advocating for a culture that could not speak out for themselves.

What a role model! Instead of giving up on life, this woman took on tough challenges at a time in when most of us are researching Assisted Care Centers!  While far younger women might have given up on living, Kaplan was out forging new territories on women's issues to landscape.


If I can embrace Ms. Kaplan's philosophy, I would be able to put aside self interest, selfish motivations, and, at the top of the list: worrying.  I am inspired by this woman.  For today, at least, I am NOT going to focus on my AGE, my capabilities, my (lack) of job opportunities, my love (what?) life.   It is too easy to get caught up in my own narcissistic needs.  


Her philosophy about life was summed up as follows: "One must be interested in the world, not oneself only."

49 degrees 56’ North and 41 degrees 43’ West

Here she lies, unparalleled by none, when time stood still for 2228 souls, many of which did not complete the transatlantic crossing. Unsuspecting. vibrant, and hopeful immigrants looking forward to a new beginning in America. These passengers were prepared for the cruise of a lifetime aboard the "unsinkable" Titanic.  According to  Titanic Stories:
The Titanic collided with the iceberg at about 11.40 on 14th April. She sank below the water at 2.20am the next morning. A ship which had taken three years to fully construct was sunk in less than three hours.
This video brilliantly documents what it would have been like to be among the passengers on this immortalized ship.  It is beautifully executed and gives us a window into the decrepit remains of the elegant luxury liner. http://www.the-titanic.com/Journey/Wreck.aspx

I once worked with a woman who swore she was a reincarnated passenger from the Titanic.  She shared with me that she had recurrent flashbacks of people and visions of the ship she could not have known. 

Imagine all the magnates aboard, going about their business nonchalantly on this voyage, unsuspecting, unaware of the impending danger.  Who was destined to live or die?

I remember when the Denver Museum of Science and Natural History had the Titanic recreated for a venue a few years ago.  The ships interior hallways were so authentic, recreated meticulously to mirror what passengers experienced when strolling to their cabins.  One got the feeling of opulence, a time when no expense was too great, or furniture and appointments too costly, for those who purchased their first-class passage on the vessel.

It saddens me to look at this video, to see what time has done to all the crystal, steel, antique furniture- not to mention passengers' shoes- enmeshed in the bottom of the ocean's unforgiving floor.

To follow the Titanic's tragic story is a never-ending mystery; there is always new information and items recovered by different expeditions.  She was created for pleasure, relaxation and enjoyment; but fate had another plan for her, as her memory outlives the sweat and steel with which she was constructed.

Get the Lead out of my Lipstick!

Ever since I can remember, I was always told I look a little pale, and I should put on some lipstick.  There has always been rumblings about the dangers of lipstick and lead.  Especially reds. 

After I have my breakfast in the morning, and brush my teeth, I see a ghostly, freckled figure in the mirror.  Not at all attractive, just pasty and white.  It makes me want to sleep with lipstick on.  I fumble through my makeup kit, and pick out the brightest colors of the rainbow to wear.  That's what I look best in.  I wish I could get away with the natural look, like all those gorgeous models, and the lucky ladies that have olive or oatmeal complexions. 

All my favorite brands are full of lead.  "Not to worry", said my trusted confidant - the manager at the gym I patronize- as she laughed it off with me this afternoon.  "You'd have to literally eat half the lipstick for lead to have an impact!"

What's a girl to do?  I know what this girl is going to do, I am not going to miss a beat, I want my raspberries, oranges, roses, hot pinks, to stay right in my makeup kit so I can be armed after I finish my coffee.  Yes, and I forgot to mention, I am a lipstick "eater."  Not more than 5 minutes after I apply my lipstick, and am smacking my lips together and ingesting it!  Does that make me more vulnerable?

Have a look at what http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/lipstick.asp snopes had posted as far back as 2003.  Here's a peek at what the Washington Post had to say about 400 lipsticks: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/400-lipstick-brands-contain-lead-fda-says/2012/02/14/gIQAhOyeDR_story.html.  Now you can decide if you are going to do some pairing down yourself.

Wait...I hear a knock at my door.  I'm putting on my mandarin honey-orange before I open it.

I Will Love You 'Til the Money Runs Out...

Whoa!  I just read an interesting article on http://www.salary.com/survey-results-for-love-or-money/ regarding how love is connected to money.  Not that we haven't all suspected it in some relationships.  But really, a study conducted on how much you love equals how much you make? 

I can't say I am not bowled over when a former boyfriend gave me three dozen roses for my birthday...what happened to less is more?  Apparently over 2,000 people were surveyed and there are some eye-opening results about how love and money are connected.

I always joked that I married the only poor Jew in America...because if there are 100 men in a room, and I would have an opportunity to pick out my favorites, they would not be the wealthy ones! 

When I was a young woman, I had the opportunity to fly away "anywhere in the world" with a man 30 years older, and all I could think about is "I can't kiss him with those dentures!"  There is no way I could put a bag over his head and do it for God and my country.  So, I did the honorable thing, I "gave" him  to a girlfriend.  Who, much more attractive and clever than myself, wasted no time in scurrying him off to Paris, returning with a brand new wardrobe and quickly marrying him not long after.

Okay, I did feel a bit envious when she turned up on the cover of Women's Wear Daily sporting a designer dress with all the bling.  Honestly, to the day I know it could not have lasted, because if I don't get that butterfly feeling for someone, it just won't fly for me.

So it is fitting, on this Valentines Day, that I will be sitting home tonight, with my Great Pyrenees and parrot, in front of the television set without a box of chocolate!

I never thought I could say this, but guess what?  For once I am okay with that.

Bamboozled

I have a love-hate relationship with technology and social media.

Having observed and participated in social media over the last few years, I have made some observations I want to share.   While there are many, many benefits to social media, I believe there are vulnerablitlies for advertisers, businesses and spin doctors in the race to get audiences to "like" their product or service.  Moreover, to some, the process is not intuitive, impeding the communication process itself!  Given this analogy,  social media might be counter productive to those markets.

We are on overload.  So much information is thrown at consumers, with many of them not knowing how to navigate to find their way through the milieu.

New technology is introduced into the market everyday.  This, in turn, out dates the products consumers' purchase. (Okay, I hear your 'duh'). However, with the economy in a crunch, many people just may opt to forgo that new purchase or future purchases and adopt a "wait and see" attitude with regard to new product roll out.  Just when one has mastered some new software, there is an updated version to learn all over again.  You know the drill.  

Understanding demographics and psychographics, I am well aware that most advertisers allocate a great deal of money targeting the 18-49 segment.  And yes, they are the ones having the love affair with technology.  For those companies targeting that group, it is working well for now.

Are businesses evaluating and targeting those consumers who can't navigate the web?
I can't hear them clicking "like" or "unlike" to what is served up on company social media pages.  I am afraid we are leaving these folks feeling exasperated and frustrated given the stimuli to which they are exposed on a daily basis. 

There is much to be garnered from a quality-versus-quantity approach in pitching your product.  However, it is not cost effective to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Statistics tell us that seventy-five percent of Internet users embrace social media. : http://techcrunch.com/tag/emarketer/.

Every business wants to get buy in from the consumer.  I reflect on whether companies waste too much time and money on measuring and metrics instead of looking at the bottom-line in generating income.

 Uh-oh, I see a lot of "dislikes' on the horizon.

Out of Time

I had dinner with a friend in town from Ireland.  Our friendship goes way back to when I had my children, over thirty years ago.  I gave her all my maternity clothes when she became pregnant shortly after.  When my son and I went to Ireland, she invited us to a lovely dinner in Dublin.  As a side note, her husband was my very first boyfriend!

While he and I rarely speak, I delighted in befriending his wife, Monica.  She is from Central America, where my father had a business.  Her husband (my boyfriend at that time) went down to Nicaragua work for my Dad.  It was there she met Colin, her husband to be.  

It comes as no surprise that when I found out she was coming out to Denver, we made plans which included my son. We had dinner at one of Denver's finest restaurants.  Everything was going well, and then we got into conversations about our adult children.  I  must have gone on way too long about my frustrations about my son, when my friend interrupted and said "this is not your time, it is his time."  Wow, what a punch. 

I wasn't ready for that one.  It isn't my time anymore.   The most thought provoking  comment I have ever heard.  I thought long and hard before I answered, and couldn't come up with much more than a grunt in response.
This is not what one wants to hear when you are still looking to get back into a career, still feeling vital, going to the gym on a daily basis, trying to take care of oneself. 
But the hard reality is, it is as true as it can get.

It is not unlike passing the family treasures on to your loved ones;  you have to eventually fade out of the picture and take a not so comfortable seat in the background.

Somehow I equate that with being useless.  And thank you, I rather walk then be seated!

I don't want to fade out like an old Audie Murphy movie.  I want to be in the mainstream, doing the things I love - working at my dream job, being involved- circulating with people.

The scenario reminds me of the scene in the "Wizard of Oz" where the bad witch gets water splashed on her and cries...she is "fading" and withering away.

Another good friend. Megan, has recently retired. I asked he how she is enjoying her life of leisure and her answer surprised me.  "I am going crazy," she said.  This retirement thing is not at all what she anticipated.  Not that she has nothing to do, but it is the drudgery of having to do the same things day after day, and not coming in contact with as many people, or, in her case helping people that she found so much joy in while working.

When I first started my blog, over three years ago, all I wanted was a job.  I found a little temporary position, that has thankfully lasted over two years.   While the people are wonderful, and I pay my bills, it is still a contractor position.  No sick days.  No vacation pay.  In short, no benefits.  You see I still have this goal, (to own my home) and I won't give it up. 

Okay, so what if I don't get my career back? Do I then live in the shadow of my children's lives?  Do I have to then become dependant on my children?  This is very frightening to me.

Of course, I want to celebrate their achievements, marriages, children, and be there for them in any way possible. 

However,  I don't want to loose me.

It is not that I am in denial- I am looking at old age on the horizon- I am honestly not ready to accept the reality.

I might be ready tomorrow, or next week, or a year from now, but not today.


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Clever as I can be...

You know that Brooks and Dunn ditty " How long is long gone you gonna be?," that about sums up  my attitude about the job market...At best it is frustrating.  Everyone says we are in a recession, I'd bet everything that we are in a depression.  It wasn't all that long ago that one could find a great job in four months or less.  In today's market you're lucky if you find one in 40 months! 

I work in an environment where I have met ex-business owners, business executives and other professionals- all with the same tale to tell-  they had to find a job, any job to keep their head above water.   These are people that have made a good deal of salary, now having to accept contract work and hourly jobs in order to put food on the the table.

Only the cleverest of people will succeed , and that means having to stay abreast of all the changes in the industry.  You can forget about finding a decent job at all if you don't have intermediate to advanced technical skills.  Employers now want an employee that not only can multi-task, but field different jobs outside the scope of one's expertise to get the most bang for their buck.

You see, I was always naive enough to believe if you can sell yourself, and have excellent visionary skills, and can sell your company's niche' to the market, that you have a solid footing in business.  What a primitive, outdated way of thinking!

It wasn't all that long ago that I accepted a position with a developer with the caveat that "everything has changed...marketing is now priced based.  Image based advertising doesn't have a place in the market now.  It is all about price, value, more for your dollar. "

To get ahead, in today's market, you have to do it yourself.  You have to make a list of every single thing that you can do well, and make a list of everything that that the market needs and fill that niche.'   I don't think it necessarily means you have to have money for a start-up.  If one's concept is strong and good enough, there are people that will buy into your idea. 

I know what I have to do, I just have to go do it...Because if I plan to wait until I find my dream job, I will be waiting a long time.

An Apple for all...

I never owned a Mac.  I still struggle with the differences between the I-POD and I-PHONE.  But I had nothing but awe for Steve Jobs.  It is times like these when I really have to stop and collect my thoughts, or just say to myself "go figure."

Go figure why such gifted people are only on this earth for such a short time, and make such an impact.  Go figure why the ones that just take up space are here way too long.

I heard Steve's Stanford University(2005) speech this morning, it was as if he spoke to me personally.  I have never been a risk-taker to any degree.   The biggest risk I took was dumping $60,000 into my Real Estate business which I ultimately lost.  I admire the man's zeal for never giving up on his vision, and going for the all or nothing route to success.   It is not surprising that is the story for all successful people.  Fear, intimidation, caution are just not part of their make up.

It is all to easy to look back in life and say "why", instead of going forward and saying "why not?"

To hear Jobs talk to those students about doing everything you want now, because "we are all naked" and going to die puts it all into perspective.  CAUTIOUS, for what?  is it going to change anything?  AFRAID of what?  There are no grants in extension of time to spend with loved ones.

I can't help but wonder what's next for Apple.  I know there will always be some more surprise technology.  I am sure Steve Jobs took his inventory and has lots more in store for us.

Somehow eating an apple will always seem a little sad to me...

Getting down and dirty....

A year ago my fondest wish was to be employed.  Okay, been there and done that.  It was a stepping stone to opening doors to bigger and better things.  But that never happened.  It didn't happen because I love to dig down and sink in deep, I got SO involved in learning my current job that it took all the wind out my sail and I lost sight of my original goal.  And this isn't what makes my heart sing.

Funny thing is, at this point I don't  know what my dream job is.  I do know that I love to write, and so I write when I can, when I am inspired, but apart from that I feel like I am in a vortex. One day leads to the next, the routine is driving me crazy.   I realize that the 4th of July only comes once a year, but I want more, much more.

The job market is dicey at best, and it challenges us to keep up with the voracious change in technology.  I think of all the wonderful ideas I had to start my own business: (the drive-in deli concept; the talent and casting agency start up; the personal male shopping assistant), the list goes on.

When I get down and dirty, and my life slows to a halt, I can take the time to get frustrated enough with myself to make a change.  I am coming out of that vortex and looking forward to scaling that next opportunity, wherever and whatever it may be.

I have made all the classic baby-boomer mistakes, including not socking away savings, living large, and not planning for retirement.   So I don't have a great hand to play.  However, I do still have high expectations, (shame on me at 60).  Retirement is not an option,  I want to do something I love, to ease into a comfortable lifestyle, but not fade into the sunset,

I look around me and see enormous talent, and this talent has been compromised because of the current market.  People just settle for less. Expect less.  We all  "sell out" on different levels.  I can't continue to settle for less.

I ponder what marginal options I have...but I still have those dreams that are keeping me awake at night...

A Very Memorable Sunday

Every day on my way to work I pass fields of livestock.  First, there are the horse farms on either side of a beautiful country road that I navigate with gusto!  Then, there are the herds of cows, in every color, shape and variety.   Dairy cows, baby cows...no wonder the cow is sacred in India!

I cherish the drive. It is how I welcome a new day into my life.  About ten minutes into the drive, I pass my favorite site of all:  A tiny, little farm that one would miss if you blink...It is here  I fell in love with the most unusual animal; a Llama.  His antics are etched in my mind.  Majestic, wise, he holds court daily with sheep, and is most protective of the smallest of the flock: the new-borns.

I swore I would stop and introduce myself to the owners, get to be up close and personal- but never did.  It is a soothing sight; observing my llama kneel down with his charges, gently looking after them. Little ones picking away at the fur on his belly, him arching his back, but never being annoyed.

Last Sunday, I pulled off the highway and ambled down a little dirt road leading to a large, fenced in pasture.   I walked toward a  wooden gate and cottage home, where promptly greeted by an not so happy min-pin...Barking furiously, to no avail, as no one was home.  Should I just walk into the corral?   After all, I was finally HERE... I wasen't going to leave without saying hello.

In the distance, I caught sight of two ladies and a gentleman with a straw hat...carrying a pitch fork..After apologizing for interrupting their Sunday, I found them most welcoming .

"You aren't the only one who has stopped by to say hello."  I immediately felt at ease as I got introduced to the whole family and all the pets.

I was told that my beloved Llama is named "Checkers."  Not surprising, with his coal black body and beautiful white blaze. "Checkers" was bought three years ago to protect the sheep from kyotes.  Thinking he was quite expensive, I was told he was two-hundred and fifty dollars (because he wasen't trained to carry packs, or do any formal work).  Then there is baby Pearl, a little dollop of a sheep, just weeks old...And "Ashley".  Ashley( a beautiful apricot) came right up to me, with her strong and intimidating horns!  I was told that Ashley was the only one of the sheep that was bottle fed.


I admired how well cared for they are...That they are brought in for inclement weather, and if it gets too hot, they are back in the barns, seeking the refuge in cooler air.  How I love to see my little friends on my way to work each day!








I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures as much as I do.  They are shorn regularly for weaving and knitting shows around the State, and the owners are proud of the the awards they have won.

Just one more reason to thank God I live in Colorado.

Little Loco

It has been two weeks since we moved "CoCo" back into the apartment.  All is well.  He has adapted surprisingly well.  The first couple of nights I cringed, when I heard the familiar screeches at his 8PM social hour.  I prayed they would stop.  I had to get out the trusted spray bottle and wet him down to get him settled in.  He hates the spray...it is supposedly great to quite them down, and get them to "preen" themselves to distract.

I tipped toed around for the first week.  Once lights are out, the spoiled little brat does not take to kitchen roamers and munching.  If any lights are put on, CoCo lets us know its not alright, and wants you back in your room.

Apart from that, I have learned to ignore his requests.  He seems to revel in sitting on my shoulder, and sharing evening meals with me at the dinner table.  The best was when I had a Margarita for dinner, and he got right in my face to let me know HE wanted a sip.  I had to explain that was a no-no.  So far I have found he loves banana ice-cream and meats, surprising to me, any kind of meat.  He is supposed to love veggies but can't get him to eat them.   Oh and yes, Chinese food, seems to appeal to his Indonesian palette.

So, for now, I have a new feathered addition to the family, I wanted a Pomeranian pup, but ended up with another species.

I guess I will "fly" with the punches....such is life...

My Own Animal Story!


Yesterday, my estranged husband had to give up the parrot (Cockotoo) that has been in the family 18 years. I took him back to African Grey pet shop where I purchased him, 18 years ago in a blizzard! The owner, agreed to take him back and find a good home for him.


After carefully loading his cage in the car, and all his toys, I got to the Pet Shop and surrendered him.

Sorrowfully, I said my goodbyes. It was later I realized I had forgotten a part of the cage, and journeyed back to the Pet Shop...

I asked where "Coco" was, and was told he was in the playpen ( a large, Plexiglas enclosed cubicle with sand and perches) Slowly, I made my way over and caught sight of him. It was apparent he had settled in with the other birds and was content in his new environment. Slowly, I tearfully called his name, and he didn't at first recognize me. Then he slowly turned his head all the way around, and starred directly into my eyes. His black eyes widened with curiosity. Of course, I was wreck and cried uncontrollably.

Finally, the owner, Karen, asked why I wasn't going to "try" him out at my humble dwelling. She suggested we try to take him back to my Boulder apartment; and see if he would settle in with me. I had given this careful consideration before, but my roommate and son, was against this, and made it painfully clear he didn't want "Coco" to come home with us. However, I had forewarned my neighbor that we may have an unusual guest, and asked permission to try him out at the apartment some weeks before, cautioning him that he would be a screamer. He looked at me and asked "do you want to bring him home?," and I told him I did. "Well, he continued, 'we certainly can give it a try, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

So, after bringing up the disassembled cage, and making numerous trips to the car, I got him set up again, in my humble apartment, in the living room. Around 10 PM he started to scream, and I panicked. Actually, he was telling me he was tired and wanted "lights out." I quickly got my water for the night out of the kitchen, and brought it to my bed room.

I didn't hear a peep out of him until I woke him this morning. My son and I are trading him off (from room to room) and letting him perch on our shoulders, giving him extra attention to better acclimate him to his new home.

I will continue to monitor him daily. Taking a day at a time, hoping I won't have to give him up ever again. It is a prayer I hold deep in my heart.








Denise Fisher

Sugar and Spice and Other Things Not So Nice

I am at it again, stalking the isles of King Soopers with my raincoat and sunglasses, tip-toeing round corners and eying the Ice Cream, Cinnamon Rolls and other decadent delicacies.  Just this week, I had just finished a bowl of pasta and absolutely had to go out to Dairy Queen to have a Blizzard fix.

Shouldn’t I have grown out of this? What makes me so crazy for sugar, sugar and MORE sugar? Maybe because I didn’t have enough sugar (love) in my life, but whatever it is, it has wreaked havoc on my waistline and tummy. As long as I can remember, I have always had a love affair with food, and especially sugar.

The people I love to hate are those who sigh “Oh, I forgot to eat today.” Come on now, how can one FORGET TO EAT? It is like forgetting to breathe. I am sure you get the drift. It is Friday afternoon, and I haven’t had my yogurt for the day, and am already dreaming of Pizza for dinner.

When I was on the “Suzanne Sommers” diet, I actually lost my gut and got rid of my sugar cravings. The first two weeks was going through withdrawal. It was every bit as hard as kicking any other addiction. The one great trick I devised was my baked apple dessert, topped with “Butter Buds” and Stevia or “Sweet and Lo.”

I am digging hard and fast to fill up the hole inside of me, and am pondering ideas that don’t include the sweeter things in life.

By the way, I only have 6 more hours before I dip into that Pizza.

Now What?

The dust (oil) hasn't quite settled in the Gulf, and wonder what can we expect after the latest assault to the environment. During this crisis, I buried my head, I couldn't watch the news and just honestly couldn't deal with it at all.

Beautiful creatures laden with oil, damaged and drained, lifeless carcasses tossed about on the beaches. What a horrific sight. I wish I could shrug it off and forget about it all together. But it hangs over my head and remains in my thoughts.

Animals have a special place in in my heart. Maybe because they are so helpless and have no voice. We have to be their voice.

So in the days to come, I w ill watch what plays out. I appreciate the individuals who gave their time and money to help clean up the mess. I am haunted by the aftermath.

Unlike many, I cannot affix blame, but accept this is a fact of life that is part and parcel to the benefits of modern technology.

It doesn't mean I am happy about it, however. So what is the answer? I don't have an answer, or a solution. I need this opportunity to express my feelings and share them.

So in the days to come, I will keep watch and observe this evolution.  I pray that nature can once again restore a balance, for the the smallest and largest creatures; the snails to whales. My hope is that the sea will once again become their refuge and playground.
I Shudder...

Newsweek headline shouts: "What Will be Killed" and I shudder.  I shudder about all of God's beautiful and helpless creatures.  Ruined.  Destroyed. With the wonders of technology, comes sadness and loss of life. Because of the comfort we enjoy;  we trade the well-being of wildlife.  I want to bury my head.  I cannot bear to look at the glaring headlines, or the coverage on the networks at night. 

I buy Dawn dishwashing liquid because I fell in love with the campaign, and the contribution that was devised to quell wildlife disasters' like this one.  It is said that the Exxon oil spill dwarfs this.  I can't even imagine.

At this point, all the money in the world cannot undo what has happened.  To live is to die, but I don't want to think about this kind of death. 

I don't want to deal with how these helpless creatures now measure out the balance of their short lives. Suffering so softly;  unable to complain, accepting their fate.  We watch them daily fading from sight until their water-logged bodies attest to yet another catastrophy induced by humanity.
I shudder.  I want to hide.  I don't want to look.



Birthdays

It's hard to believe that another year has flown by and am looking at my birthday coming up next week.  What have I learned in the last year?  Let's see...that life goes on no matter how much you want to stop the world and get off.  Somehow we survive the toughest challenges.  Nothing is ever so bad you can't figure out a way to get past the drama.

Last year at this time I was concerned about being unemployed.  I am happy to report that I scaled that mountain and found a decent job for the moment.  Moreover, the people appreciate me and are, indeed, a pleasure to work with.

I still spend twice as much as I make (some things never change).  I have made some new friends, and continue to nuture my old friends.  So what's missing?

 I still want to buy my little house and add another Great Pyrenees to the family.

One day at a time.  I suppose I will tackle this for the coming year. 

In the meantime, I did finally purchase a new laptop, and have no excuses for neglecting my blog.

Until next time.

Treasures

While working out this evening, I began thinking about all the special "things" I cherished as a teenager. For example, there was my diary, a potpourri of hopes and dreams. Insights and personal analogies.  How I saw the world 45 years ago.

I reflect on my cherished Beatles’ albums, the poster of Ringo” I won at a dance contest on Miami Beach; and another poster of one of my then favorite actors, David Hemmings. I wish I had also kept my Junior High School yearbooks. They too, are gone.

My father, not one for showing affection or sharing feelings, wrote me a postcard on a business trip from Japan. It read, “miss you and wish you were here.” I think about that postcard all the time. I could just kick myself for not tucking it away. A few odd and ends survived, mostly jewelry passed down from mother to daughter.  Funny that I cherished the scrapbooks, photos, diary and music over the jewelry.

After we sold the house and my parents' split up, I shared a little apartment with my mother .. We moved a couple of times, and I suspect either they were lost in the move, or more likely, thrown out.

I would have enjoyed reading my diary, and the albums would be worth something today. More importantly, they were my treasures at the time. I wish I had paid more attention, and had been more responsible.

I made "baby books" for my children.  Sadly, they did the same thing; left them with their father for safekeeping.  I hope that in 45 years they have something to treasure, and that they didn't make the mistake I did.

When we're young, we tend to push aside anything that isn't important to us at that moment.  I suppose we all grow more sentimental with age. I certainly have.

For now, I just relish the memories.

Fear of Flying

My hands are quivering, my knuckles look white, as I grab the faded linen seat arms.  I hear the rumble of the engines, my heart is racing.  The runway looks like one continuous white line.  I am ready to take off; all from my living room couch.

No, I am not going on a trip, I don't have a trip planned. I am the classic "white knuckle" flyer. 

How ridiculous; here I am thinking about how afraid I am of flying and not going anywhere.  Wow, now that is also classic anxiety.

Let's see, what else can I worry about.  Oh, yes, of course, this week I will take my final test for my job training, I am already sweating thinking about it.  When I get to my computer, I imagine going blank , and forgeting everything I have learned.  It doesn't matter how many times I am told NOT to worry, I just have to have something filled up in the "worry" box in my head.

How I admire my friends who can live day to day, without worry and concern.  I am sure they worry if there is SOMETHING that warrants their attention.

Today I am going to focus on enjoying life, excluding the drama.  I'll see how it works out.

Lost Loves

I woke up thinking about all the "lost loves" I have had, true loves, innocent loves, and “first" loves. The four-legged loves of my life.

My family has always been in love with dogs. As long back as I can remember, there was a pet taking center stage in my life. So many loves; now gone, but not forgotten. Some of these loves are harder to get over than the rest; some passed gracefully, while a select few suffered hard and long.

All of them had unique personalities and proclivities. Some were "snippy" and did not like to be cuddled, but were amazing at expressing affection in the most intimate ways. Others followed from room to room, the Florence Nightingale’s of the canine world.

I always know how close I am going to be with someone when the talk circles around to pets. For instance, a recent date told me that when he buys his new home, he would want his pets to be "outside" dogs. That was a big- time red flag. I couldn't imagine not giving my pets the run of my house, including snuggling up on the bed.

The biggest joys of my life have been coming home to find my dog, Pepe, on my bed with his head on my pillow. What a show of love and devotion that is to me.

I might just be dog-crazy, but I am making no excuses and taking no prisoners.

On the Other Hand...

I used to say I had never met my soul mate. After much deliberation and thought, I realized  I have and I married him.  He totally understands me; helps me solve problems and is concerned when I am ill or upset, and is my best friend forever.

Unfortunately, my beloved has serious mental health issues which caused our breakup and separation. I am there for him, and he for me. I suppose we only get parts of a person, there always seems to be that one piece of the puzzle that does not fit. This is certainly the case for us.

While I am no "walk in the park," either, I have to have a peaceful place to call home. Therefore, it was 5 years ago that I elected to move out and call Boulder my home.

I certainly do miss having a “significant other” in my life. However, maybe I really do have someone, but without the baggage. There is something to be said about having a warm body to wake up with in the mornings, and to snuggle with in the evenings, to grow old gracefully, together.

There are still many benefits in being friends, and I can talk to him about everything, including dating. It is remarkable that he can answer me truthfully, without jealousy or subjectivity. How does he do it? I certainly cannot call myself mature on that level.

For now, that is not in the cards, but there is always tomorrow. I have many good things happening for me in my life right now for which I am grateful.

Another reason to count my blessings...

Managing Disappointment

I am feeling disappointed today. I have this problem: I am a dreamer and see people they way I want to see them, not they way they really are. I suppose this leads me to make poor choices for partners in life.

There is an art to successful relationships; just like everything else in life. One has to work at them. I suppose I don't work hard enough, or investigate deep enough. It is not that I don't enjoy my own company, but I find it so much more rewarding to share my hopes, dreams and aspirations with someone else. My friends fulfill much of my needs, but I am a hopeless romantic. I can find fascinating things in the most unlikely people, and disregard the most critical aspects of their character. Then, when things do not work out, I find my self-feeling let down and frustrated about my choices.

The more offbeat the person, the more interesting to me. While I am attracted to the unpredictable types, I appreciate grounded, stable people.

In short, people like me should not marry, because our judgment is off. 

I can have remarkably good judgment about business, other people's issues; but I lack this good judgment when it comes to my own personal affairs.

So, while I am disappointed for now, I know tomorrow is another day.

Inner Strength

"You can tell your inner strength by your outward actions;" That thought was discussed this weekend at church. It gave me pause. It answered a great deal about my inner self.

I have always admired people that are in total control. You know about whom I am talking. Even in the most heated discussions and life events, they are in total control. Let others scream and act out, not them; they never look like the fool. Their answers are measured and logical, they don't fall into others' emotional traps.

I remember an incident, years ago, when I first divorced and my children were very small. My ex-husband would get the children on Sundays. One particular Sunday, I was working a special event for a non-profit organization. I couldn’t make it home by the time the children were dropped off.

My ex-husband and his then girlfriend decided to leave the children unattended at my apartment; despite the fact that I called ahead and explained I would be late. I was livid, and let them know it. While I was acting out and screaming like a crazy woman, my ex-husband’s girlfriend grabbed the phone and never raised her voice. Now what she had to say was unkind and cruel, but the WAY she said it just floored me.

To this day, my children remember the incident. I felt like a total idiot. Why did I let myself become so emotional? You see what I mean, don't you? Maybe I can learn control with training and practice. It is hard for me to keep my emotions in check.

On the other hand, I break out and cry to share joys and sorrows. Sometimes, it is a curse because I can actually "feel" others’ pain and it hurts terribly. Where others sympathize, I empathize. I bear this cross.

Does that mean I am a marshmallow inside? Maybe I never had the foundation I needed to be a stronger person. Whatever it is, it is me, and I have learned to live with those feelings.

Those feelings keep me from being a "shark" at work, or succeeding where others' fail. That is both a blessing and a curse.

Then there is that other famous expression..."to thine own self be true."

Excuses

I am feeling very guilty at the moment. I have neglected my blog. I didn’t plan this, it is just that a wonderful thing happened; I found work and have been in training. I am training to do something I have never done before in my life. In fact, it is highly technical. I have already told myself that failure is not an option, and that any job worth doing is worth doing well. Unfortunately, I gave myself permission not to write every day.

There is actually more to it than this. I was very ill for a few weeks, with a flu-like virus. It was all I could do to show up at work for training. So, there you have it.

It is a quiet Valentine's Day, and I am sitting home watching "Julia and Julia." Since it is all about a blog, well, you know the rest.

I am approaching 2010 with a great deal of optimism. I feel that new doors are finally opening for me, and are well deserved. I have paid my dues, and I am ready for the universe to reward me with abundance.

Nevertheless, I am going to make every effort to keep on writing. How can I ever finish a book if I keep making excuses?

What that being said, I wish you a good evening and Happy Valentine's Day/

New Love

Lil' Mo

Loving animals apparently runs in the family. My sister shows Collies', and my brother just announced he is the new father of a 3 month-month old Great Dane, "Mojita." She is just precious, thought you'd want to take a look.

He called me with a zillion questions such as "She is dumping 4 times a day, is this normal?' Of course, the first question I asked him was if she was de-ormed. After he shared all her peculiarities with me; we set up a date, the big day, when I would get to meet her.

It seems our love of dogs goes back to the 50's, when I was a tot and my sister had her first collie, "Skippy." "Skippy" was the only male dog she ever owned from that time forward.  I can mentally account for each of her collies' throughout the years  with love and affection. There was "Charlie;" (the only mix, but she looked like 100 percent collie). Charlie was part German Shepherd.

Then, there was "Annie" and "Annie 1"; "Abigail" and "Abby." Add to that ”Vanessa" and "Ruby" who take center stage with "Rockstar". By the way, "Rockstar"  is not a collie, but a longhaired Chihuahua!

As a young man, my brother had a German shepherd, "Zsa Zsa."   "Zsa Zsa" was very selective about whom she liked. I remember an argument my grandmother had with my brother. It ended with her dress ripped by "Zsa Zsa" and her girdle being exposed!

So It comes as no surprise that I can’t wait to welcome the newest member of the clans' extended family.

In the meantime, take a peek yourself.

Friends


As life's plan unfolds, I am gifted with the understanding that our lives have been brought together for a reason. It is a gift to share together our joys, and hopes, and dreams. Thank you for being my friend.

I received a beautiful vase recently from a dear friend. It is eggshell white; tied at the neck with a checkered blue bow. The top is shaped like a rose that is beginning to open. It contains the little inscription above.

Blue hearts dance around the inscription.

I have put it on top of my bedroom dresser. This vase is a profound reminder that someone loves me. Just for me. Not because I am nice all the time, not because I say and do what I think they want to hear. They love me for being me. The good, the bad and the ugly. Yes, especially the ugly me.

Many years ago, when my then 14-year-old daughter went to visit her father in Connecticut, I received a call from my ex-husband announcing that she didn't want to come back to Colorado.  Instead, she wanted to finish high school in Connecticut. I came unglued. I was floored; no amount of pleading could change her mind. She was set on living with her father for her remaining years before college. Thoughts raced through my head at sonic speed: I wasn't going to see my little girl in her prom dress, her first date; I wouldn't be there when she went off to college.  Oh, I would see her, but, just as a detached party for a visit on occasion.


I wept and sobbed uncontrollably.  As I wept, I heard the door creak open, and in walked "my friend." There for good and bad, happy and sad. I shall never forget the warmth of her hug, and reassuring smile. It dawned on me that it really wasn't the end of the world. I could take my next breath. Life would go, on, and all would be well again.

I honestly don't know where I would be without my dear friends, because, regretfully; my family hasn't always been there for me.  I am the odd duck out; friends have been closer to me than family throughout my life. It is the little cross I have carried from early on.

God provides, the sun comes up, and like it or not, we move on.  Maybe we don't forget, and the empty hole never really gets to be filled. Healing comes to us gradually, and we start anew.

The next time I become "unglued" I will look at this vase and read the words aloud, very softly, one more time.

Show Off

It has been said the world over that "women dress for other women." I am no exception; and, I find the statement very true. Women love to compare outfits and compliment one another on "fashion statements" and accessories.

Okay, I am just going to a freaking training class. I still feel I have to dress professionally. So, instead of donning my blue jeans and a nice top, I put on my tights, a dress and boots today. Perhaps it's because I have been out of work so long and it is refreshing to be in the game again.

I must admit that I have always been a clotheshorse. Early on, I can remember that no matter how little I had to spend, I had to get something that made a statement. Good or bad, it didn't matter. I had to create a canvas with clothes.

However, if you catch me in the supermarket you won't want to pay me a compliment. I look like Greta Garbo resurrected. No makeup; sunglasses, egg beater hair, and long coats. No, I am not trying to sneak out with a six-pack of ginger ale. I am simply, hiding.


So, the next time you see me, you won't be surprised if I tell you:

"I love your diamond nose ring."

My Arrival



Just look at it. Untamed, wild and wonderful. I love the way the colors look like a Neapolitan ice cream. Rose, blue, grey and salmon. Wow! Imagine getting up in the morning and starting your day like this.

I have to pinch myself sometimes.

I have given up a great deal to live where I live. Funny thing is, I don't live like a King, and my lifestyle is probably the simplest it has ever been. No frills, no fancy clothes, but QUALITY OF LIFE.

When I grew up in Florida, I knew from early on, I did not want to spend the rest of my life in Miami. Oh, it was intriguing; it had its beauty, but not the kind of beauty I wanted.

What turns me on are the mountains, seasons, snow capped mountains, Christmases gazing out the window and counting the snowflakes. Yum, so deliciously exciting to me.

I have earned this lifestyle. I have lived my life, my children are all grown, and having fun making the mistakes I once made.

We all arrive at the same place. The day we decide, okay; this isn't a dress rehearsal. I am gonna take control of my life and do what I WANT TO DO.

I've arrived.

P.S.

It sho' was nice to get through my first day of work today. The drama continues. I don't exactly have the job yet...I have to pass a test after training. You got it, something else to worry about. I am very good at this. I have mentally started the countdown.

Next, I get to worry about a new roommate. That's right. My son is moving out; here I am, wondering if I will get the ax murderess as my roomie. I calm myself knowing that my apartment community requires a background check; I think I am safe for the moment. Whew! Does it ever end?

When I was a young girl, a friend once told me "I had a very vivid imagination." I think I need to turn it off, power down, decompress. Easier said than done.

Guess what? I have reached the conclusion that no matter how much I worry, or how I try to control things, everything is going to unfold just as it should. No matter how many sleepless nights, no matter how many chants of "bad rice." It's all there, right in front of me, ready to roll out.

When I lay my head on my pillow tonight, I will repeat to myself:


"Everything is going to be alright."

Good Rice

"Life is what happens when you're busy doing other things." I love John Lennon. He is the “writer of writers.’“ Somehow he captured everything in just one sentence. Something other writers' try to accomplish in paragraphs.

This analogy just about describes what I am up to these days. Trying to find a roommate; or, make a move. Preparing myself yet for another journey as I start a new assignment tomorrow. Now that I have gotten my wish and found work, I find that little empty space in my head is gnawing at me again.

Let's see how many NEW things I can worry about. It is never ending. Friends have been chastising me for even DARING to worry. But, I still do.

Maybe I think that if I worry, I will l scare off evil forces from entering into my life. Similar to the Chinese going out in the fields and chanting: "Bad rice...bad rice."

Wonder what will happen if I chant: "Good rice… good rice… for a change?

9/11 Flashback

It breaks my heart to see the suffering in Haiti. So many people, lost forever. Others, crying out from the rubble.

As always, America answers the call.

Americans are there, lending helping hands, doing what we can to salvage the country and its' citizens.

This chilling event has devastated one of the most impoverished countries. Countless organizations are taking donations for the search and recovery efforts. I feel so much compassion for these people; and yet I am helpless.

Relevations about 2012 flood my mind. This feels very ominous to me. I am trying to shrug off the uneasy feelings riveting through my body.

I tell myself this is nonsense. Is is nonsense? The suffering of Haitians and those unforgettable images give me pause.

I am going to pray, and keep praying for the end of pain; for miracles to minimize the loss of life. This is the least I can do for a nation already paid its' dues and then some. Parents in limbo, fearful that they will not see their children again. Others, trying to locate their relatives- all so incomprehensible to me.

I feel saddened; this evokes the same kind of feelings I had on 9/11. You may argue that this event is different.

 However, it seems very similar in many ways.

Happy Trails

Looks like persistence has paid off. I am going to be part of the working world again, it seems. That is if my business associates tell my future employer how wonderfully creative, hard-working and reliable I am.

I always believe hard work pays off. This time more than ever. With the recession, I had my trials and tribulations like everyone else. Relief was nowhere in sight for months' and months'.

Now, with God's help and protection, I hope I can once again get in the game. There are no promises, no big money, but just chance.

Everyone needs a chance.

I think I am going to like 2010.

Party Planning

Today I am party planning. What am I celebrating? Breathing, I guess. Seriously, I am hosting a pasta party for 10 people. Let's just say it is a big payback for the many times I have accepted invitations to my sister's home, and have let others' wine and dine me.

I know I am not in financial position to party, but I decided to do this and plan a dinner that was not too extravagant, yet fun. Here's the menu:

Spring Salad with mandarin orange dressing
Ziti Romano with cranberry raisins and nutmeg topping
Garlic Bread and more Garlic Bread

Simple enough huh? Well guess what, it didn't exactly end up non-expensive. I ended up forking out $87.00 (and that is WITHOUT wine or liquor). I invited guests to "bring what they would like to drink." I supply the soft drinks.

I am ready for the feeding frenzy. I have not decided on the dessert yet.

Maybe more garlic bread.

I am Not the Manager

I received this quote from a friend this morning on my email. It is thought provoking for me, it addresses exactly where I am at in my life. You see, I am leaving Boulder in the next couple of months. It is a journey I don't want to take. I am still not working. I cannot continue to enjoy the luxuries of maintaining my independence for which I fought.

It occurred to me that, as a fairly religious person with a moderate degree of faith, this move is not about me. While it is like taking a nasty dose of medicine, I have a mission. I am going to help someone else. I am very selfish. I want to be able to navigate my life and do the things I enjoy doing.
This mission is unique because I now have to FORGET about my needs and absorb my energy into someone else.  It's a little late, but I am preparing myself for the journey.

I can think of many people who can do this better. They are the naturals. They are the angels, they are BORN to love and serve. I do my fair share and keep up appearances. I know I have not done enough to help others. Okay, here is my big chance.

As I gaze out my window this morning, the trees somehow look different, I can almost hear them whisper "good bye" to me. I shall miss the antics of the squirrels, rabbits and the snippets of conversation and arguments of my apartment neighbors. Pepe will miss the canine companions and friendships he has made.

I have to learn keep repeating, I am not the Manager.







Social Media and Privacy

I am having lots of fun on Facebook and LinkedIn.  Nevertheless, I also have a concern, perhaps many concerns about these sites.  Oh, I love connecting with people I have not seen in years, but what about all the information that I share on these networks?  I have the option to filter information, just like my blog; I can share as much or as little as I want.  Most people do not understand that when they are on line and invited to join different groups their information (personal) is shared with third party companies.

 These lists are sold to other groups and businesses.  It comes down to you can't get something for nothing; someone always pays the price. In this case, it is you and I.

Is it any wonder there is so much identity theft? So, like everything else in life, there is a ying and a yang.  I have decided to participate in social media.  However, I am cognizant that my security is compromised every time I sign on the web. In my case, I have decided the positive benefits outweigh the negative. Truthfully, if someone wants to steal my identity as this point in my life, it will be their liability!

In the meantime, I am having lots of fun playing on "Farmtown" and "Farmville" on Facebook. I am also enjoying the cartoon version of my picture I also signed up to use on my Facebook page.

Bright and Beautiful

Today I reflect on all the wonderful things for which I have to be thankful.  There are so many blessings that are easily forgotten.  Such as:  getting a mammogram report that shows no evidence of cancer; two beautiful and healthy children; finding an old friend on Facebook; celebrating in the successes of family and friends; being able to walk.  One can go on and on.

So it's 2010 and all is not perfect.  But it is good enough.  It can be great, it is my choice.  So, today, I choose to be happy.  Maybe I don't FEEL happy,  but I CHOOSE to be happy. 

It's a wonderful excerise for the New Year.

Web Dinners



With the advent of the Facebook and MySpace revolution, it now seems we have to do very little to visit with friends, business associates, make new acquaintances and share our lives with complete strangers. What's next? We're heading to the point that we just might even have "virtual" holidays, that is, we can set up web cams in every room of our house and create our own virtual reality show. The Truman Show doesn't seem like such a stretch anymore.

Just think, don't want to cook for Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving? No problem , just hook up with friends and family for a "web dinner." Have great conversations in your jammies or in an evening gown of your choice. I am tentative regarding our progressive technology. I feel in the end, it has compromised human relationships.

When I visited Ireland a few years' back, I was disappointed to see every young person gabbing on his or her cell phones everywhere. On the buses, on the streets, in restaurants. Exactly like the people in the States. Why surprised? Ireland was supposed to refresh my spirituality, get away from it all, but it was just a miniature version of what I left.

My first boyfriend was from County Louth, in Ireland. I met him when he sailed into Port Everglades in 1968 on the Queen Elizabeth.  I loved the stories he crafted in true Irish style: the legends, ghosts, people, and most of all; how he depicted the barren countryside and thatched roofed homes.

Fast-forward to 2002, the only thatched roofed homes I found in Ireland were historical sites for the visitors. What a complete disappointment.  If this is where we're headed, I want my money back. Change is good, but at what point do we begin to loose our humanity, feelings, connections, things that mean the most to us?

It is now 2010, and the 2001 Space Odyssey looks like the romper room in comparison. What's next? Can we ever reverse the process? Do we want to? I am on the fence.

Ancestors and other Unidentifed Persons

My son has been having a ball on "Ancestry.Com".  He is determined to prove that my maiden name is in fact, not Spanish, but Slovakian.  It is fascinating to dig into one's geneolgy.  It is a bit scary in that you never know what you'll find.  Apparently, my father's name is quite rare.  The website advised us that there may be "a whisper" of a Spanish background.

In other words, we would have to contact a specfic group that specializes in researching my father's last name, that is very familiar with the Austrian- Hungary border from which his geneology is traced.

I remember my father hanging a picture of a matador in his office with the name "Danchez."  While, we spelled our last name "Danches," it was pretty intriguing at the time for the whole family.  My father's sister used to comment "I think we have Spanish roots traced back to the 4th century."  Now that caught my attention.  To date, we have not been able to prove we have Spanish blood in us.

I think I am very Spanish.  Entirely sentimental, totally family oriented, a penchant for sweets, BIG TIME.  I delight in having a dessert after dinner. If there isn't something sweet in the house it ruins the whole evening for me!  Because gravity has caught up with me, I now can maybe have desserts 3 times a week.  I am also entirely emotional and demonstrative.  Does that make me Spanish?

When I grew up in Miami, Beach Florida, the Cubans on Calle' Ocho loved there expressos with tons of sugar.  I don't remember any of my Cuban friends ever ordering expresso without sugar.  No one else in the family besides my father and I loved sugar as much.  I even like to add sugar to the recipes for meats I enjoy, (my son researched that and insists this is typical of  Slovakian -Austrian- Hungary linage).

Oh, and yes, we all have hot tempers.  We will  continue to dig to see if we can find that "whisper" anywhere.

Gretel



There is a best friend in my life I have lost.  Her name was "Gretel".

 She was only 3  month's old when I first met her.  I remember the scenerio like yesterday.  It was a cold November day.  I bundled my two children up and put them into my Red Ford Tempo. Very slowly, we inched our way toward the Black Forest in Colorado Springs.  The house was very difficult to find and navigate the snowy, icy, road at the same time.  It took over 2 hours as we traveled at a snail's pace up Parker Road . We could hardly wait to get there.
                                                                                                                           
You see, we weren't only going to be introduced to "Gretel" but two of her sister's also.  Finally, we arrived at the farm house, then we were faced with navigated a winding road all the way up on a hill to the farm.
We were greeted by three jumping German Shepherd female puppies, all smoothering our faces with wet kisses,  endlessly pawing and jumping for attention.

I looked at the kids, and asked, "Which one do you like?"  "That one!" they cried, and I quickly selected the most hyper puppy as our final selection.

"Gretel" was scooped up to have her nails clipped by her breeder.  She was absolutely beautiful, a black and tan face with a perfect diamond in the center of her forehead.  After getting her food and care instructions, I wrote out my check for six-hundred and fifty dollars. A decent price for a German Shepherd puppy in 1993.   It was done.  She was officially ours.

As we made our way back through the winding road of the house, "Lexi" her champion mom, ran along side of our car, knowing that she had one less puppy in her care.  "Lexi" followed us all the way to the highway road, trying to get one last look at the people who took one more of her pups away. It broke my heart, and I can still see her eyes as we drove away with Gretel; but I was so excited at the same time.

She too, was so excited that she threw up on the way back in our car.  We didn't care, we had our own German Shepherd puppy to love and cherish.  Once we took her out of the car, and into the house, my husband sneered at her from the couch.  "Why did you get a FEMALE?, I wanted a MALE," he said.
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She knew he was less than enthusiastic to have her in his home.  She sat quietly at the garage entrance door with flat ears and sad, droopy eyes until he said the magical words: "come!."  The rest is history, she instantly became the fifth member of the family.

Through good times and bad times, she was our constant companion and best friend.  She sauntered from room to room at night, keeping close watch over her charges; never faultering on her love, devotion and endless protection.

We actually took her on a long car trip to Nevada.  Oh, how we LOVED having her curl up in the bed at night, between our two children, a very unusual but steadfast "nanny."

I taught her all her manners at obedience school, and practiced with her in our local school playground on weekends.  She was well worth every penny of her $650.00 and more.

After the children grew up and moved away, she got calmer and slower.  No more did she pace back and forth through the rooms looking after her charges.  It was clear she knew her mission was all but over. 

In October of 2005, she developed a sore on her side that wouldn't heal.  We thought she fought or caught on something in the yard.  But it was the worst.  She had a terminal cancer. 

She was spoiled and catered to even more those last 6 months'.  She wouldn't give up, she struggled to maintain her duties around our house.  When the end came, she could hardly hold her head up.  She stared at me as if to say "I'm ready."  We called the vet to our house to keep her comfortable.

I whispered "love you Gret, and thank you."  She struggled until her last breath.  Somehow, I still feel her in the house, even though she is gone.  I don't think I will ever have a best friend quite as unique as "Gretel."

I will miss her until I can join her; and will always think of her as my most devoted friend and companion.

Make Your Dream a Reality

Reflecting back on "Up in the Air," which I enjoyed seeing yesterday, there was a part where George Clooney's character is firing an employee and he asks:  "At what point in your life did you stop living your dream?"  Wow, that hit home with me.

As far back as I can think, I always wanted to be a copywriter and move to New York City.  It was the mecca of everything, fashion, style, excitement, theater, art and film, all wrapped up in one beautiful package.
But, like the character in the film, I never started to put ANYTHING into my bag to lead me to New York.

I "settled" on Miami, Florida, my place of  birth to live and work as a young woman.  I had options, however; I let fear dictate my life.  Now I understand full-well how disastrous that can be.

 When I was accepted to Northwestern University to pursue a career in Journalism, guess what?  I didn't go.  Instead, I opted to "be safe" and close to the nest and attend the University of Miami.  Now the University of Miami was a decent school, but it wasn't the best school for my dream.

I suppose this will continue to be a life-long regret.  I often think "what if" or had I made that choice, where would my life be now? Perhaps I can live out that dream and write a novel about that.  It isn't strange at all that I have come full-circle and am writing this blog.  I suppose it is not only prophetic, but a catharsis for me at this point in my life.
I woke up with the song "Cry to Me" playing back over and over in my head.  Could it be because I just watched "Dirty Dancing" AGAIN?   What a pick me up.  I can't help but think,  how did they do that? every twist and turn on the dance floor.  Every time I see the movie, I have to get up and dance! 

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray just glide on the dance floor. The movie will live on and on.  Every piece of music picked for the film ties perfectly into each scene, a work of  art for those sentimentalists that love  film and  50's music.

I took in "Up in the Air" today.  While I am probably the only woman in the world who isn't wooed by George Clooney,  I can't deny that he was a perfect fit for the movie.  The movie opened during the holidays and is still playing to packed theaters.  While I enjoyed it, it didn't rate as one of the best movies I've ever seen, but I certainly could relate to the plot, it definately makes one think.  Especially being out of a job, and relating to the scenerios depicted in the story line. 

While I am not an avid reader, I have a voracious appetite for film, and this one made me think. 

Crab Apple

 The beginning of the year has started out as a bang, but not a good one.  I have been unusually crabby.  Not a joy to be with, and have taken it out on those closest to me.   Hmmmm, wonder why?  If you have been following my blog, you understand why.

I am honestly at the point that I want to force gaity rather than impose anymore on friends and family.

Regarding the job front, someone suggested I start a paper route.  I can see myself up at 3 AM and bundling papers.  But hey, it's a job, right?

My mother once told me, "it's not what you were, but what you are today that counts."

Nobody cares how many advertising agencies I worked for, how many awards I have won in Real Estate and Marketing, or how many major shopping centers for which I was employed as Marketing Director.  It's what is happening right now that people will evaluate.

In that case, there isn't much to boast about.

But I can be happy for my friends' success stories.  Hearing all the holiday tales from family and friends does warm my heart.

As far as I'm concerned, I am calling the Paranormal team to exorcise me and the little black cloud following me around.

Fresh Starts...New Beginnings

My roomate and son, just got wonderful news for the New Year.  He was offered a new position in Engineering in Florida.  I am so proud and happy for him.  While the news wasn't my exact answer of a prayer, it brings me unbridled happiness to share in his success.

New Year's Eve was spent at the Rectory enjoying an indian dinner with our Pastor.  He is an indian priest, and we just adore him.  A brilliant man, he is never short on stimulating conversation and encouragement.  He is always researching other religions, and last night he shared his observations about the Koram.  While we are Catholics, it is always fun to understand other cultures and beliefs.

In between bites of scrumptious curried chicken and all the trimmings, the phone in the Rectory rang endlessly from family in India wishing him a happy New Year.  I had never heard him speaking his native language and enjoyed listening to the bantering of conversation and excitement in his voice.

We talked about Mother Theresa and how she visited his seminary while preparing for his priesthood.  Mother, never short on wisdom and encouragement, was always ready to serve others; sharing spiritual gifts connected with selfless living. I had always wished I had an audience with her, and I have always been in awe of  her life.

Today, the first day of this New Year, I am invited to one of Denver's most elegant hotel's for an early dinner with a close friend. 

I can hardly wait to turn the next page of 2010. While I can't look into the future, I am hoping it is better than 2009.