Tag Archives: mentors


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



Always different, never the same. That is why we have varied actions and reactions. The last time we got together that may be the last ever was at Dad’s funeral over the holidays.

I am eldest and was the dreaded word “babysitter” as when I was 11 my parents would leave me in charge of three kids. I went away to college before they were grown and they resented me for it.

Little sister, I tried to put her up to the bed at bedtime but preferred for her to stay up by the windows and await our parents’ arrival. Then she’d run back to bed before their car arrived. We had time, it was a country road.

My brother was the trouble maker. He would do anything like climbing the tv tower at age three. Then he’d tell on himself saying “Mommy, I’m not being ‘haved” and she would hug him. Nothing he could ever do was wrong in Mom’s book. He ended up Dad’s best bud and executor of his will, as he should have been.

Baby sis was a standout from day one. Oh, I was not allowed to see her in the hospital but folks came home and they said they were naming her “Chipmunk” because of her cheeks. I said no way, you already saddled me with a name the teachers cannot spell or speak. They were joking. She has a nice name.

We had a little dog back then, a rescue that was huge in the winter then had a summer cut to keep her from burrs et al. She was a basement and outdoor dog and I wish I’d known Dr. Dog’s theory that a backyard dog is a dog without a home, back then.

That advice was not around when I was eight, I’d have known it from PBS. Our dog is sleeping on our bed with my husband right now. She is old and lets us know when she wants her only toy, Precious, or to go out again. She is great in elevators, with people, other dogs (except hateful ones where she steps away) and even cats.

I’ve had some wonderful shelter pets in my life and do consider them family, not siblings. Believing that one’s pet looks like you is one thing, I do believe you chose them to act like you, to show your persona to the outside world.

Everyone knows our old girl. Someone told me years ago that I was a terrible person and should never have been born. My girl is my presence in the world and anyone you meet in several neighborhoods around the country will tell you that we’re good people and dogs and that we go out of our way to care for others of the human, canine and feline societies. Ghostbusters aside, Bill Murray would have liked dogs and cats living together, as it always worked for me. Dogs used to run away from home to visit my cat. I’d get a call at 7:00 a.m. “Is he there?” Hold on, I’m at my desk. “Yep.”

“I’ll take him inside until you get here.” They used to go out through their garage to get the newspaper, dog ran. We had a system. He also had play dates outside with next-door neighbors, three different-sized Shisa dogs and the Shi-Tzu used to wrestle with him.

A Corgi also caught his eye. The dog used to put my cat’s head inside its’ mouth and he thought it was great! He ended up living with them for a couple of years as after I married my husband was deathly allergic to cats. I believe coyotes lured him off his back yard tree house and maybe he was ready to go as he was nearing ten years.

Family is what one does with blood and friends. If we are lucky we each make a family for ourselves. I’ve the Three Musketeers and many more around here, plus others, one of which you can put a prayer in for, a mentor for over 25 years who is in hospice care, another who is in an assisted care facility and calls me her daughter. Dee


I would like to thank Harold for being a good friend to my father-in-law for many years. I’m just a gal but he has been a wonderful gift to our family.

He is such a thoughtful and meticulous man, whose home is being claimed by government to flood for a reservoir. He knows every tree, every inch of the land and will lose all of that as Dallas needs water.

Was I afraid? Yes. But he took us out to get two wild hogs. They caught them, we transported them and I wrote down the weights as they ran them through a scale. Then he went inside and was paid.

Those hogs were taken to Forth Worth TX then to France where wild boar is a delicacacy. Chingiale. Italian for wild boar equals delicious. I love that we’re sending France something and not the reverse but wish Texan chefs would feature wild boar. They eat crops. They know how to steal and eat well.

We have not had a close relationship but he did do something spectacular. At age 12, our nephew’s birthday, Harold surprised him with a deer hunting license and a trip. My brother-in-law had a license already and all three went out early the next morning.

There is a documentary that gives Harold’s and my father-in-law’s views on the flooding and destruction of the river. It has cost our family 500 acres. They’re now renting it for cattle but will have to give it up due to methane, yes cow patties.

Harold, I can feed a baby calf. I’m too old to do much else than cook for y’all and keep stuff up for your dogs. You gave this city gal some chops on the ranch. Thanks for being such a good friend to our family, Dee

Aunties L and J

Decades ago they kept the OED, the dictionary, in the powder room so when we kids went to the “loo” we had to open the book, find a new word, pronounce it and define it, then use it in a sentence.

I love them for that. It made me want to learn. Of course as a kid wanting to go outside and play, it was annoying at the time but it was a labor of love.

Perhaps I should rename this blog A Labor of Love because that is what I am. Of course someone will already have that moniker. I thank my Aunts for guiding me to knowledge, that eventually became wisdom. Cheers, Dee


I always wondered why I didn’t really have business mentors, yet they’ve been there all my life. It’s just that they were life mentors, teaching everything one needs to know. As a consultant I sometimes needed an “old white guy” to give me gravitas and make my message as a young professional heard. They may not have said a word but they’ve had my back. They know who they are and I am forever thankful for their presence in my life.

Of course we have immediate family growing up, then husband and for us, a dog who keeps me in check at all times. Then we have others. Like Otis, who has been with me as a dear friend, heart and soul, since the first day of college.

Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Two grown men outside my brother call me Sis. I’ve a sister J and a mother J, both the same name. A sister M as in my husband’s mother and V a cousin. And another father, AJ, who married us and wore a nice suit. He told me that a few years back when Alzheimers took a step back and allowed me in. I can visit him anytime, interred at Annapolis, honored by all.

My life is rich with history and childhood memories, current events both political and life-changing. Many people have given me guidance over the years. Mentorship, if you will. Ethics, morals, being smart, kindness, care for beings (thanks St. Francis and OFM Fr Cap and Fr John), good judgment, respect, honor and service to others. Thanks, Auntie L for also teaching me to read the dictionary in the powder room and come out with a word, spell it and use it in a sentence. Yes, she’s a retired English teacher. Cheers! Dee


I’m one wife who wanted a priest but was being married to a Christian from another denomination. We eloped, it was complicated.

Today I talked to my favorite priest in the world, Fr. C. He was my adviser in college and probably the reason I chose Sociology as my major. We’ve stayed in touch for over 30 years since my graduation.

I hope he left notes for his “Barbie” lecture as it is legendary. Something like Barbie is well over six feet tall, her measurements and how no woman can look like her but everyone tried to do so. As a young girl, my mother would not allow a Barbie in the house, and I didn’t know why until I wrote “Horses Sweat, Men Perspire and Women Glow” as my high school thesis about equality in sports.

Fr. C has been a Franciscan inspiration to me for many years. He inspired my creativity, smarts and kindness to others, including animals. Sorry Fr., birds flying around my head still freak me out as I was attacked by giant crows at age 12 coming home from the school bus. Perhaps falconry may be my penance.

Friends, family age and leave us. He wants me to come to lunch. It’s at least a thousand miles away but I may just do it. Cheers and thank your mentor today. Dee


Mentors and Nice Pets

Let’s start. We’re nice pets to have. I was very upset when I started our taxes and we were getting money back. Then we got the second W-2 after the company changed hands and we owed money. I thought there was a horrible mistake, then I went through the 100 questions and figured it out.

We pay a lot to live here, if we had kids they’d be off to college or if younger, in private school if we could afford it. Otherwise our kids would be going into a sub-par school district. We pay a lot and don’t use the service so we’re a good pet to have around. So shave a couple hundred dollars off the taxes we already gave you and we’re good to go.


As to mentors, of course there were my parents. Still my Dad (Mom’s gone nearly 6 years now). I never thought I had any but they are there throughout my life. Even as a kid I knew I didn’t want to vacuum in pouffed hair, a dress and heels but Mom was smart.

Other than parents, before I was eight I’d gotten two mentors, MR and GG. Both were educated men who taught me about science, radios, philosophy, psychology and more. MR allowed me and my little sister to come over once a year to watch Dorothy change the world to color with all the Munchkins and go to Emerald City. GG taught me the word triskadekaphobia which means fear of the number thirteen.

MR died recently. It’s good that we got to see each other a few years ago. I know he led a good life with wife and family. I’ve had other male and female mentors to be spoken of later. Right now my thoughts are with our old neighborhood and friends. I wasn’t allowed to cross the next street so our street had seven homes on it so as far as mentors were concerned, I was blessed.

Dad would be called on every night for two-base softball in our back yard or touch football in the street and everyone, all the girls, played because that was his rule. When it was dark everyone went home and slept soundly. The street will never be the same. MR, I don’t know what your handle was but may it be retired in your name, sir. Dee



Know what you are doing. Grants have replaced me with a kid out of college reading a book for dummies just because he’s cheap. A few months later my phone rings and I’m back on the job.

Know good people. I do. I’ve learned from them for 20 years and if I get out of retirement they’ll have my back and I’ll do the same, but I’m a bit rusty so give me a moment. Kick in wisdom.

Don’t be cocky. Learn from the masters. I have a few. Some business-related, some personal. It’s a loyalty thing and they put you through their paces. If you’re in, you’re in.

I know this has covered more territory than it should but wisdom says if you know it, you can do it. Dee


I would like to thank my extended family (especially AL and J) for giving me a great childhood and letting me explore. Also my husband’s extended family for providing love and support for our marriage for the past ten years.

Thanks to all the dear friends I have and had. For one who’s moved so many times it is always wonderful to still have friends from grade school, high school and college days.

As to cooking, I’d like to thank Betty Crocker for the Boys and Girls cookbook I got for my 8th birthday, because it led to cooking and Mom getting Gourmet magazine and I loved it, still do, well not Gourmet anymore because it went bust.

To the people who’ve hired me throughout my life, from gymnastic instructor at age 16 to consultant much later. To my teachers, from everywhere. My mentors started in 2nd grade with Mrs. Johnson and continued through Mr. B in algebra and Breezy, topped off by two dear friars. My music teachers were always inspirational, from Mrs. Smith to Mrs. P and Mrs. H and even now. They made me want to reach for the stars.

Thanks also to my dogs and cats for providing love and comfort. To the remarkable fellow volunteers who worked with me on many issues and made things happen.

Finally to my dear husband, who I was lucky to find, and him me.  But we came together by chance (I think it’s fate) and we’re best friends and love each other forever as soul mates.

Dear Santa:

What I want for Christmas is that you pass by our home and know that we don’t do presents so don’t want anything but a happy life together, with our dog Zoe.

If you do pass by a store, no, I can’t think of anything. My husband is even getting toilet paper through Amazon. Thank you, Santa, for all the gifts you’ve given since the day I was born. A family, friends, mentors… oh please let my father get through this latest cancer thing. Thanks so much. I hope I’ve been good this year. Holiday Cheers! Dee

Non-Teacher Teachers

OK, I jumped the gun. Let’s look at mentors, aside from grade school teachers. I’m not allowing myself to acknowledge mentors I realized many years later, like Mel from across the street that my husband met and they have a connection that is scientific. I loved him for letting my sister and I come over to see Oz turn into color.

Let’s see, non-teachers. Gil G tried to teach me to think for myself. Bill Mc made me want to write. One nun tried to make me think twice about the Roman Catholic church and its role with women.

As to cooking. Paul Grimes has talent and had access to Julia Child and Simca Beck. Many of my cooking school recipes are from Simca.

Kevin M. and Ralph S. taught me a lot about too much to tell. Business, development, causes, working in the trenches. It’s many years later and we’re still talking so that says something. I learned so much from them.

My friends in the no-kill and leash-free area cause, you deserve credit and thanks for all you/we do. To Helen, Pam, Chris, Kevin and others I’ve learned so much from you. Thank you.

One lady I wish I had the guts to be is our dog’s hip surgeon. She kept the first one to show us. Yes, she’s an Aggie vet, my husband’s cousin. Our dog walks funny (always did) but can run around a tree and elude a Lab because she got to grow her own hips from cartilage as a pup.

Yes, I’ve missed many mentors on this list, but it will continue and if you continue to read this blog your name may be on it, as is my friend pdxknitterati. Cheers, Dee