Category Archives: telling the truth


One person is not necessarily missed in a group of up to sixty for Thanksgiving, though I would know, and Nanny would, too. I will miss the big gathering that I’ve attended for 15 of 16 years (the first was when my husband’s employer would not let anyone miss work for Black Friday). Cousins revel in Black Friday sales. I have never gone with them since then. I don’t like shopping, especially for shoes, and hated that day.

My husband does not think I am well enough to take planes and cars and cook with his mother (which I love, but it’s gotten to five days), I’m sending nuts and a gift this year. I can’t even do standing around for ten hours at Nanny’s. I do not wish to carry a foldable cane and lie on a sofa or bed all day. My brain is there but my body is not, yet.

I will miss everyone dearly. As we all get older we marvel at the young ones who’ve grown six inches and want nothing to do with us, and the young adults who are looking towards marriage and family. We also have wise family members who can teach us much about life, love and practical matters.

Awake in the middle of the night, I get up, close the door for my family’s sake and try to keep quiet. Of late I’ve been on Netflix and The Mind of a Chef. Edward Lee, for whom I cheered on Top Chef a few years ago, said in show filmed in 2014 and I paraphrase, that he likes to learn something new and teach something new every week.

This is what wise people do, pass down knowledge that they have gained through success and errors. Another mentor said life was about “goods and betters,” what we could do better the next time around. There are no failures.

My husband and I are at that stage, and I know that I’ve had mentors all my life and have been one to younger children even when I was just a kid. Learn from books, learn ethics and fairness and non-discrimination and you’re on your way. Know that caring for others is a way of life that must be embraced. If one does not care about a life, that’s how sociopaths and serial killers are made.

While I learned through arts and literature, work, volunteerism; my husband learned from math, science and hard work on a farm. He is a wonderful mentor, teacher, and a premier software resource for some of the best companies in the world. I just went back to Edward Lee and changed the text from “who I cheered for” to “for whom I cheered.” That was for mentor Aunt L, the retired English teacher. I can see her reading this and actually stopping her knitting hats and booties for the preemies at the hospital to which I was sent as an infant. Yes, she’s a volunteer and buys all the yarn, too. Cheers! Dee



Oh, there are many. Marriage is supposed to be forever. A car or apartment lease is short and usually renewable, we’ve never leased a car.

Jobs, my husband’s grandmother told me when I was introduced and interviewed in her dining room, that she wanted my husband-to-be (everyone knew it was “meet the folks”) to have the same job for 50 years and get a gold watch.

Sadly, I told her that this concept has never been in his industry, software engineering and consulting. She accepted me anyway and is a dear lady who is now 92. We talk to her every week and visit when we can do so.

Length of engagements. I think business. There is no trust, only skill and luck, in what my husband sticks his neck out to do for a client. There is a bias in play that I’ll tell you about later. It’s a tough one to write.


OK, I’ll do it now. My husband grew up in Texas on a Dairy, now a Ranch. He has a slight Texas drawl. Very slight. He cannot work on the east coast because anyone with a southern accent is considered stupid.

My husband is a physicist and software engineer/consultant. He built a workshop as a kid to invent things and is a genius, better then three of his “peers.” I grew up in the north east and fit in, was smart and knew as a girl not to show it (no way wicked smart like him but in social sciences and literature) as I do emotional intelligence as well.

We did a map of all airport boardings and the Acela line from Boston to D.C. The elites with inherited money will not give him the time of day. He has to start from the midwest across the Mississippi and Missouri and bring us west where he can shine.

Dad always insisted as to amenities and especially views. We got him on those. He’s gone now, as of December, for a year and I miss his optimism, structure, enthusiasm, guidance and love of life. Joie de vivres! Dee




Do not call your little sister dumb, stupid or idiot as you will be fined 1/10th of your allowance.

Do not forget your hat or gloves when you go to church.

Never tell the nun that you do not need weekly contribution envelopes for the next year because on Sundays you go to the other church up the street. My sister did that.

Don’t get into an elevator alone with a horny elected official. I mistakenly did that before sexual harassment laws were passed. It was verbal and nasty. I learned to stay away from these guys. Another safe elevator will come by.

Do not ever go out with government counsel, even your own, if he keeps trying to ask you to dinner. We finally went out to a restaurant that knew me and had a quick burger. He wanted to see where I hung out because friends were meeting there. They weren’t there.

He drove me home and asked to come in. No. No. No. No. Then he said the worst line of my life “You’re an attractive woman, I’m a man, we both have needs.” No way. I almost wet my pants on the way upstairs (he was locked out) and all my friends were there. They laughed like crazy.

Never get caught in the Speakers’ office the next day. I was asked in to #3 and told to shut the door. I thought I was in deep trouble for work, and I was always good at work. He asked me exactly what happened the night before and I told him. He laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair. His friends had been at our apartment having a beverage with my roommate when I got home early from dinner and he wanted to confirm the story.

Do not ever critique a family recipe, new or ancient. Trust me, it is not a good thing.

Never carry a feral cat in your arms when he/she is awakening from anesthesia after being neutered or spayed. Trust me on this. I helped spay/neuter 2,500 ferals. Yell for a breather to bring in crate 117 asap and do your best.

As to negative or dangerous people, have a really good dog. They will know who to trust before you can do so. If the dog says no, you say no to a date.

Not that I’m dating anymore. I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship but would not tolerate it. After 20 years working with pets I find that abusers start on pets, move to their kids then their spouse. Never deal with bullies, learn clues to their behaviors and stay away. That’s a big no.

If you buy a dog from a breeder or adopt from a shelter, know what you’re getting into. I’ve had four successes (100%) over the past 30 years but a dog I’ve known for years bit me the other day. I finally filed a report. Luckily he appears to have had all his shots. I love dogs and cats and mine got along, dogs used to run away from home to visit my cats. Kittens would walk in my front door and snuggle with my dog for a year.

Don’t buy a trailer estate or home, loft, apartment in a flood plain in Florida or the midwest. We were in hurricane Ike, Cat 5 nine years ago. The mayor told us to stay put. No-one ever cared about it or raised money for it. We were on the Mayor’s power grid so were OK for power after a few hours, my husband and dog slept through it. I blogged it. 150 lofts, 149 damaged. All but ours. Out of water for two weeks. No gas, no food, no water. No management or maintenance for days. My husband sucked water through a hose to get it out of our garage and stop flooding the first floor. A neighbor cleaned out the storm drain so we wives could go visit every neighbor there and see if they were OK.

Never sneak a grill out on a stairway facing the fire department. We never got caught but did it a few times!

Please do not treat any person or animal badly. These times demand attention and action. If you are unaffected in a hurricane area please donate and volunteer locally. The usual suspects are advertising on TV for donations and most of it goes to overhead, not to you. Who I am is an honest fund raising consultant, retired. Try the Do’s! Dee


The Fog Comes on Little Cat Feet

Carl Sandburg, about Chicago. I wrote an illustrated paper on it at age 8 for Mrs. T. Thinking I got an A++.

Now this fog is messing with my family. Cancer shows up, sneaks up. Unlike Mr. Sandburg I would not attribute it to a cat. Often cats are mascots in nursing homes and I have loved them over the years. My two talked and were not very stealthy. One taught himself to jump over the sofa and retrieve crumpled post-it notes! He also knocked my keys down from the counter, playing hockey with them. Anything but quiet. The older one never let me get in the last word until I held him in my arms and he was gone at age 13.

My mother died of cancer eight years ago. My father now has two kinds of cancer. His dear companion has another after surviving a different one years ago. I wish to ask when does it end? Not with death.

It ends when we finally have a cure for cancer. I’ll get it. My in-laws and husband will get it. When is enough?

I believe the organizations who raise money for diseases make the most money for themselves. Cancer is cancer, whether it be breast, prostate or whatever. Fighting among themselves for money is doing a disservice to all. Get rid of cancer, no matter what celebrity has a certain type that is popular for donors as of this moment.

Angry at the medical profession and scientists who depend on grants for specific cancers I am skeptical, however optimistic that someone will see the light. Dee

Little Dog

I once knew a 3# Yorkshire Terrier named Savannah. She was too tiny to even wear the smallest size at the pet store so a joint friend, a retired milliner (hat maker) would sew her costumes. My favorite was the denim and gingham jacket with matching hat for our July 4 BBQ. One day she went purposefully away from our area of the park.

There were two large Rottweilers barking like crazy. I told Savannah’s “mom” we had to go and get her. She said no. Savannah told these big dogs off and they were quiet and walked away. S lived for another ten years. I don’t know about the Rotties!

Our country tends to give money to the rich (banks, insurance companies, wealthy people) and forgets the people who actually pay taxes.

I am a little dog going after an insurance company for denying a claim. I’ve done it before and won. Great story about that one, having the insurance commissioner call my agent after they dated my check the first of the month (the date due) then they cashed it in at the bank the morning of the 2nd and sent me a cancellation of policy notice.

Calling and telling my agent that fact plus that our state had a 15-day grace period did no good. I was an analyst working at the Legislature for insurance. I ran into the insurance commissioner at a reception, he rubbed his hands together with glee and told me to call in the morning. Two hours later my agent called and asked why I ever thought my policy was cancelled (the Commissioner had the paper canceling it). An hour later the Commissioner called, said he thought the guy peed his pants and that it was the most fun he’d ever had. btw I changed agents.

Sometimes the little dogs win. I’m going to win against my insurer and a huge hospital chain. My dog had bad hips and now she has none, had to grow her own but is silly happy) but has made her way for over 12 years. She used to roll down a hill belly-up and all the dogs left her alone. Why? She loved all the other dogs, people and their kids, and no dog wanted to eviscerate her.

She is a mascot and nearly 90 in people years. I’ve gone belly-up for a while to be left alone but no more. I’m going after the insurance and health “care” regimes because there is no doubt there is a cabal here. I just have to find the angle. A good lawyer wouldn’t hurt. Battle! Dee


I had a bad day, yesterday. Zoe did as well. I am re-thinking our boarding choices. One company charges $200 per day for limited service so why go on one vacation in 14 years? We don’t spend that much in a day.

Zoe had her nails trimmed (I held her) and spent 1.5 hours at the desk with other dogs and they wouldn’t let me pick her up. I said no. I’ll pay for four hours and you only had her 1/3 of that time. They said for me to come back later. No-one ever told me about pickup time or forms or whatever. My eye appointment was bogus, they wanted me to sit there for hours.

I got my dog and thanked the groomer who trimmed her nails. Yes, she got a healthy tip. The owner was not nice in person so I’m questioning where to keep Zoe while we’re off in the wild blue yonder. My asking for her premature release was a trigger for the new owner who might hold it against Zoe. That’s a problem for me.

The eye place.They said they didn’t know if they had a lens made and it would take hours. I left the glasses and called an optician we’ve met (with my husband for his contacts, not with the dog) and he said they’re done and all I have to do is come back tomorrow.

In the end, retired, I talk to people, mentors are still around. I meet them every day. I try to learn something every day, whether it’s from a neighbor, butcher, doctor, scholar. Some, very few, stick in my mind. Art, Fr. John. People, Fr. Cap and Led. Helen and Pam and Chris.

I got a job in politics and thought I was in policy. I wrote laws. Good ones. I did not have a mentor there nor at my next job as a pseudo- lobbyist. I quit and went to cooking school with my life savings.

What is my job? I make lemonade from lemons. I help people and animals, and take care of my husband and dog. I made a Braille game to help grandkids know about and meet their grandparents’ new neighbors, who have a blind dog. Also got them a magnetic Backgammon game to play in the back seat of the car (yes, the pieces stick) going home.

I only got to see them for a moment. Zoe did as they arrived but Z needed to go out. The gifts are still here, to go with Grandma and Grandpa when they visit.

Yesterday a lovely Indian woman went down on her knees and petted Zoe. That has never happened. Zoe had her nails cut and spent 1.5 hours with errant dogs at the desk and was desperate to see me and go home. This interaction at home was what my Jewish friends would call a mitzvah. It was a happy moment for us both and I already sent them a thank-you note for her kindness.

With all the terror I wish to see the kindness in people and life. Dee

Birds, Mistakes, Well Done!

Yesterday the sidewalks on the County side looked clear, but were crystalline and a bit slippery, especially for a gal wearing crocs with no tread…. The foot of snow was iced over on top so much that my shoes did not sink down as I picked up after Zoe, but it was melting at the edges.

I heard the first birds of the season chirping, and several squirrels running about, sshhhh don’t tell Zoe as she wants to kill one of those critters (she’s 12 now, and they’re faster). As I removed the jingle bell wreath from our door a few weeks ago I replaced it with a welcome hanging with bluebirds, twigs and leaves and it all came true.

As to mistakes, years ago we bought a tan microsuede L-shaped sofa. I’d measured everything then realized I hadn’t compensated for the “L.” Another four feet. It left us 18″ to walk around it. Now we have a place that requires many feet to get around anything. Nothing but the sofa is where I would want it to be. It’s probably six years old and needs to be cleaned but we can both fit on either end and watch a Netflix movie, with Zoe on a dog bed below.

The design of our place demands at least five feet from every piece of furniture. Yes, it looks good but it is frustrating because I’d like to move several things around, like the dining table and I always wanted to get him a comfy chair with a lamp and table so he could read his phone and computer.

They designed these places for the fantastic views but then placed all the outlets and cable on the opposite side of the room so now we have cat-5 cable throughout the living room and master bedroom, just laying there. It’s a mess, but whenever a guest enters and sees the view, nothing else matters.

When it comes to the sofa my husband and I had a disagreement. He said the only place to put it was blocking the floor to ceiling windows and looking into the kitchen. I told him that I make the food and don’t want to look at dirty pots and pans and we’re paying for a view, for heaven’s sake! He finally agreed with my point of view.

As to well done, I’ve been trying to mix up our menus. Last night I had to call my M-I-L for tacos. She told me not to deep-fry corn tortillas.

I ended up not frying corn tortillas, just scorching flour tortillas to soften and serving with beef, onions, Fresno chiles and serving them with homemade salsa, sliced avocado, shredded Monterey Jack and a hint of lime and sour cream. Yum.

We’ve been having a lot of oatmeal for breakfast these days, five minutes cooked in milk, topped with a dollop of nonfat vanilla yogurt and a few berries on top. It’s good but I can’t have it every day. So I bought my husband two slices of his favorite house-made bacon from our butcher yesterday and he’ll have bacon, eggs and toast with pear jam this morning.

It’s going to be a good day. Hope yours is as well. Dee

Just Us

We saluted the flag, in every classroom and said the Pledge of Allegiance. They didn’t tell us what it meant. “With liver tea and just us for all.” That was what I gained from my early childhood classroom. I knew it because the meaning was never taught or understood, only rote learning. I applaud that now because it made me study everything, including people, literature, law, art and helping people and animals as a volunteer.

There is never any “just us” as we’re all together. To our troops, please come home to your families. Stop everything in Afghanistan, Syria and bring weapons elsewhere. Better yet, destroy the weapons and stop.

To the guys and gals who made my life miserable it’s not just us. I was a little kid and was corrected by my parents on the liver tea and just us. Now I only believe in liberty and justice. From an independent voter, Dee


My husband had a 90-minute flight Monday morning. They texted him. They texted me separately 8 times between 11:30 at night and 4:30 this morning when I got up and turned off the ringer.

It was delayed, cancelled, reinstated, then delayed again and again. He finally left 2 1/2 hours after his departure time and then at his destination, they were kept on the tarmac for over an hour. Supposedly on an “active runway” they could not unbuckle seat belts, use the lavatory or even get a glass of water.

This is not acceptable. My husband has a full day of meetings today, underwent a time change and this kind of stress is perpetrated on the public who pay good money to take a plane to a destination. First they have TSA, and 95% of their agents don’t know their buttocks from their elbows. Yes, that was on the news just last week.

Then we must deal with airlines and the FAA. Hello, Greyhound? Do you have a bus to Atlanta next week? Hello, AMTRAK, goodbye as you’ve no service whatsoever as we were 14 hours late for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.

We now drive most places but this wasn’t an option for my husband for this trip. Let’s hope he gets home safe tomorrow night. Wishing it so, Dee