So proud of my friends

This is the year of friends-publishing-books. I am so excited for them. Also, other friends are really taking off with their blogs and creative business ideas. A part of me wishes I were able to dedicate the crafty and creative juices to such things, but I shall have to settle for applauding them.

Below are the links to their work via Amazon.

Melody Condron — Managing the Digital You (Informative resource)

Megan Keno — Cast Iron Gourmet (This book just makes me hungry, thanks Megan!)

Amy Knight (she did not write all those historical books that are on Amazon, that is a different “Amy Knight”)– Lost, Almost (Fiction)

My friend’s wife wrote this book a few years ago, but I didn’t know her then.  Elly Zupko – The War Master’s Daughter (Fiction)


Experiences on Public Transit

Today has been a day of experiences and triggering some memories of other public transit experiences.

I guess to start off with I should say that the bus drivers here are wonderfully even keeled and put up with a lot of stuff — traffic, belligerent riders, disabilities of all walks of life, crazy pedestrians, school kids, people so focused on their phones they don’t see the world around them, etc.

My favorite driver is the one who says, “Here we go!” when pulling away from a stop. It’s the greatest. So enthusiastic.

So today started out with a crazy bus driver who was a bit brake happy and the bus was crammed with high school students. Some of who gave me that look of, “UGH.. an ADULT.” Sorry my age has messed with the enjoyment of your ride. Insert eye roll here.

I then hopped off the bus to get on the light rail and had a lovely ride in practicing my ability to not hold on to anything. Ankle strength. . . and pressure on the right part of your foot during a turn are key.

This afternoon was a different kind of experience. It started out with a fairly okay bus ride until we got near the end of town where I transfer buses.  *BANG* a window completely shattered into a million spider webs. It didn’t fall out of the frame, but the rubber seal around it was torn. We all jumped and looked from the window near the back of the bus to the driver. The bus driver went to the next stop and got on the phone to report the incident. I got off the bus to walk up to my transfer spot.

When your bus has an accident — GET OFF THE BUS. That bus is not going anywhere any time soon. They have to report the incident. You can always check with the bus driver to see if you should stay (maybe you saw something and can be a witness) or transfer to another bus.

We had a bus driver hit a parked car once when I was in high school. The road, where the accident happened, was super windy and the car was about 4 feet out from the curb so the option was to either knock off the side mirror or drive into oncoming traffic. I felt awful for the bus driver — she was one of the BEST bus drivers to handle us nightmare high school kids. She made sure we all understood that you always offer your seat to an older/disabled person. Doesn’t matter if you are in the seating at the front of the bus or not — you GET UP and you offer your dang seat. Truly one of the rare ones, because we mostly listened to her.

So thank you public transit drivers for tolerating all of us and fellow drivers on the road. You are appreciated.



Embrace the music

A few weeks ago I attended a concert of an artist I have tortured my mom with on a 5 1/2 hour car ride to Pittsburgh. I played ONE song over, and over, and over, and over. Occasionally I’d flip to the B side of the tape and play the first song on that side. Basically she tolerated her 8 year old’s obsession with a song she was pretty darn sick of. This repeated song made me sick of the album about 2 years later and I put the tape away. Refused to play it. Then, when I was about 16 I took it out of retirement and realized I still knew every darn word. . . of MOST of the album.

Cue to about 10 years ago when I introduced my husband (then boyfriend) to this album and he was pretty taken with how unique it was.

Cue to a few weeks ago, and I was done with the back and forth of, “should I, well, maybe not, but I could, but really??? well… okay… yes… no.. wait… REALLY!??!”  It was a moment of me saying, “You know what, screw it. People hate this artist and thing the songs are annoying, but I love them. I am going to burst into tears during my favorite song which HAD BETTER BE PERFORMED. . . *ahem*

Lo and behold, I went to the show, by myself, and sat in the back row on the arena floor. I made friends with the couple in the same row (there were 4 seats, and the one next to me was empty). They had been fans for over 20 years. I told them my story and they thought it was WONDERFUL I had decided to attend the show. I had paper towels from the ladies room, because I was going to cry. No doubt about it.

The announcer came on and said that there would be a solo artist this evening. No opener, no extra people, just… the ONE person, and the band. My husband was jealous because a favorite guitar player was in the band that night. I told him there was an empty seat next to me, he could come on down. . . but no.

So the lights went down, the music started, the backup singers did their thing, and then the door opened at the back of the stage and out came… Neil Diamond. It was possibly the best show I’ve seen in a VERY long time. His pants had sequins on the sides, like the band stripe for kids in band, only these were sequins and sparkled with every step and sway. He opened the show with Cherry, Cherry. The crowd went nuts. He did a few ballads, I lost it during He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Sorry people, it’s a powerful song and whatever vocal training and warm ups Neil had done, they worked. He sang it beautifully. I learned that Red, Red, Wine is a Neil Diamond song. He sang I’m A Believer, like The Monkees’ version (if you hear his original version it’s more with steel drums and sounds a bit strange to the Monkees-trained ear).

So, this song that I played over, and over and over again — Cracklin Rosie. It’s the first song on Taproot Manuscript. I had never listened to another album, even though my parents have two others. I only knew every single song on Taproot Manuscript. During the show, he did a few others from that album (He Ain’t Heavy is one). Cracklin’ Rosie was during the encore, AFTER the 12 minute version of Sweet Caroline. It felt like it went on forever, and it probably did. . . but I was anxious to hope that he’d actually perform the song I spent many of my childhood years (which culminated in that 5 1/2 hour Cracklin’ Rosie marathon) listening to and not totally getting what most of the lyrics meant. He did it. I burst out sobbing. I was so happy. He bloody did it and I finally heard a song I’ve loved since I was, as my dad would put it, a tiny tiddle-toddle.

Thank you Neil Diamond for making insanely catchy tunes.

Health scares are never fun

Two weeks ago I was sitting in a hotel room in Salt Lake City debating on a job offer and the counter offer my current company had given me. The job offer was a job back in Montana and the counter offer involved a transfer to Salt Lake City. Health concerns, job security and happiness and quality of life for me, the husband and the pup were all whirling through my head. And then I had a sudden lurch of panic — I found a lump in my left breast. Holy hell was I mad. I had a fibroadenoma when I was 19 in that same breast and now THIS. The damn thing felt like a square of gum, like the ones in those foil packets that became popular 10 or so years ago. Anyways, I had a monster panic at 11 pm and started google searching and calling my mom. I had my panic rant and then we got down to business — we currently live in Phoenix, which has a MONSTER Mayo Clinic campus. The Mayo Clinic is possibly one of the best places I could go for a diagnosis. Turns out that the Phoenix campus has one of three breast center’s in the country. The others are in Minneapolis and Florida. I filled out the online appointment request form and finally fell asleep. Three days later  when I was visiting with people my phone rang and I spent the next 24 hours trying to get through to the appointment people with the Mayo Clinic. It is apparently a 15-30 min wait to get to their schedulers. THANKFULLY I did get through to someone and made an appointment for that Friday. I wasn’t going to waste ANY time twiddling my thumbs.

One thing a friend told me that week was the goal of taking action. Everything is worse before you take action. The act of movement releases some of the tension and anxiety. You will never move forward and onward without taking action. I would not have slept that night at the hotel if I had not taken action. I would not have felt okay about myself and my health without taking action to call the appointment office back.

So, 8 days ago I went to the Mayo Clinic with my in-laws chauffeuring me and my husband with them too. Support system? Yeah, I have one. And it’s a pretty dang great one too. This isn’t to say my parents wouldn’t have been there, but the in-laws had already planned a vacation to come see us that weekend. Talk about timing. That Friday was a total wash for focusing on anything but this medical potential panic. I met with a great nurse practitioner who pretty much immediately said, “you’re going in for a mammogram and ultrasound.” Well, duh, I could have diagnosed that much, but glad to know we were on the same page. I went out to the schedulers and asked when the next available appointment was for a mammogram — in 1 hour. It was about 15 minutes to the other campus where I’d go for that and away we went. We got there 40 minutes before the appointment but I checked in anyways and was seen 10 minutes later.

I have never had a mammogram. It has been a horrendous fear that as I get older I will need to face the breast squishing agony that women have to go through. I am not well endowed and cleavage is something that is fairly minimal on me. To think that I have to put the little I have on a tray to be squished by a plastic plate is NOT a comforting thought. Well, now I’ve experienced it and I’ve got to say, there are several positions that are uncomfortable and the rest are a full out painful experience. Give me an ultrasound any day of the week, because YIKES.  Both technicians (for the mammogram and ultrasound) were amazing women and I am very grateful for their ease of conversation and attitude towards the procedure.

The end result of all of this is that I have a benign cyst. I’m NOT enthused about this, but I am no longer in full blown panic mode. I was able to have a great weekend at the Grand Canyon and relax. I am still worried that it will need to be drained, but that is a fairly minor procedure compared to what this could have been.

I think the left side of my body is just going to cause trouble . . . door slammed on ring finger when I was 5, left foot broken at 18, fibroadenoma at 19 and now a benign cyst. . . oh, and that endometrioma that had to be drained that I blogged about too.So, dear left side, I don’t know why you need cause so much trouble, but I’d appreciate it if you’d stop getting so dangerously creative. Thanks!




Static for you alone

This could totally be a post about being alone in the big world or feeling the power rippling through the crowds and yet no one else seems to notice, but I am not feeling quite so eloquent and creative at the moment.

Instead, this is a possibly silly post about me and the shopping carts at Costco. Every single Costco I have been to has carts that shock me. Violently. I had a few people actually jump and look at me strange. My hands fly off of the cart handles and I mutter something akin to, “OW!” and “YIKES!!” and “STOP DOING THAT!!!” It is really painful and seems to hit with no warning. I will walk with my legs farther apart (are my jeans causing static electricity?) but it still happens. I will push the cart with my wrists bent back so my fingers aren’t close to the basket and yet when I slow down the cart… *ZZZAAAAPPP!!*  and my hands fly off of the cart again.

I used to think it was the winter weather in Montana. But then it happened in the summer. And in Maryland, and now in the southwestern desert.  . . temperature doesn’t seem to matter. Humidity doesn’t matter. I’m just a magnet for getting zapped.

I nearly didn’t go to Costco, but Little Dog needed his food and I wasn’t going to lug a 45 lb bag of food on my shoulder since I also needed to pick up a few other bulk items.


There has been a lot of upheaval in the world and in my life. Right now we are facing the hunt for a new place to live and THAT is just a thrill a minute. It also means the ever enjoyable job of searching for a job or getting a transfer to a new office. While I am not the biggest fan of the job hunt, it always opens my eyes to what I feel I CAN do and what I WANT to do. I’ve recently debated on being an Environmental Planner or maybe get in to Environmental Engineering.  When I was an undergraduate I debated on going to the Engineering school, but I would have been in college for about 6-7 years and that wasn’t very appealing at the time. There are some unique circumstances there that I won’t go into now.

Sometimes I sit back and wonder if the Engineering Genetics didn’t have the right idea. But I really like Conservation Biology. I believe quite strongly in it and have continually tried to pursue a job that at least touches on that field.

Environmental Planning = I can learn a lot of it on the job and don’t necessarily need more school.

Environmental Engineering = the only way is more school from what I can see.

I have actually started watching the MIT Online course for Differential Calculus. Can you guess what it starts with?  DERIVATIVES!! Okay, so I might miss math a bit. I haven’t had to actually remember any of my maths or statistics for quite some time because the jobs I have taken didn’t need those skills.


Time to go watch some Calculus classes and see if I still want to keep going down the road of a career change.


The urge to create is sometimes like a mosquito bite — you don’t know when it happened but all of a sudden it is a raw itch that you can’t ignore. Although creativity is far more pleasant than a mosquito bite, it is also something that if you don’t listen to when it’s nagging will leave you feeling like you missed out on some amazing brain fireworks. It’s that, “You know, I was going to do… this thing… now… what was it?”

Recently I wrote a letter to my uncle. Nothing remarkable there right? Except this was a real letter with pen and ink and the pen in question was a fountain pen — it’s part of our deal for writing letters to each other. If you are going to have a pen pal, it is sometimes vital to find the right writing instrument for the job. I have several fountain pens — two are the “under $20” variety and I have used them on any kind of paper. They don’t dance across the paper in smooth swirls and dips like a recently acquired pen. I also really like that the newer pen only has a bladder, not a “it can take cartridges or bottled ink.” It changes the feel of the pen and how I interact with it. This one has a metal ‘button’ you press to fill the bladder. Another pen, a gift from my dad a few years ago, has you twist the end of the pen to fill the bladder. None of these pens are ‘works of art’ or something you’d want to insure — goodness knows what I would do with a $1500 pen!!

I guess this comes down to you have to acquire the tool that allows you to reach your potential. It’s like using a pair of “whatever was on sale” running shoes and then finally going out for a pair or real running shoes that make your feet happy the second they’re tied on. There was a guy who worked at a running store who flat out refused to sell you a pair of shoes unless you were almost instantly comfortable in your shoes. This was to guarantee a reduced chance of injury due to a poor fit in the shoe and also to help you understand that your feet do not care about the color scheme or your shoes. I tried on just about every shoe in the store and finally had to go with a trail running shoe that we had the preconceived notion would be a poor choice for what I wanted to do. My feet didn’t care, they knew what they wanted and that was how it was going to be.

When your tool challenges you to push further and achiever more, you are building those skills to achieve a goal that might have seemed unattainable and is now visible on the horizon.