Living proof that the Universe has a sense of humor.

Photo gallery: A westward walk at sunset.

Posted May 3, 2015 | Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life | 3 Comments

After my lovely weekend walk, I think I’m ready for the week to come.

Walking West

I was lucky that my evening walk had me heading west at sunset.

Profile of a Tree

Profile of a tree with sunset.

The Tree Takes Over

The tree takes over.

Between the Trees

The mothership hovers between the trees.

Sunset Panorama

Sunset panorama over Park Towne.

The Colors Deepen

The colors deepen as the Mother Ship descends.

Best wishes for a week as lovely as these photos.

Category: Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life

Six years ago tonight

Posted April 29, 2015 | Caring for Elderly Parents, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said | 5 Comments

Open WindowSix years ago tonight, I got a call from my mother’s caregiver that Mom was having trouble breathing. I went to the house, and as soon as I walked in I heard Mom say (over the baby monitor we used to hear her from her bedroom), “The Golden Girls is over!”

She’d watched show after show, season after season, on DVD, and that’s how she’d let us know it was time to change the disk. The funny thing was, the TV wasn’t on.

I called the physician on call. He told me what I could give her of the medications we had to make her comfortable. I gave them to her, and she went to sleep. All night she’d breathe seven or eight breaths and then skip two or three.

In the morning, when the day caregivers came in, I ran home to take a shower and change clothes. As I put my hand on the doorknob to go back, my cell phone rang.

“Your mother isn’t breathing,” said the caregiver.

I went to the house, saw her at peace, finally free of the pain and discomfort she had endured for so long, and called the rescue squad.

Her last words were the ones I heard six years ago when I walked into the house.

The last thing I did for her was to put her to sleep.

I love you {{{ t-h-I-s }}} much, Mom. And a little bit more.

Category: Caring for Elderly Parents, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said

An unexpected spring treat

Posted April 28, 2015 | Hiking, Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life, Working at Home | 2 Comments

AzaleasA spur-of-the-moment invitation by my friend Dan to accompany him to his friend Heidi Ketler’s house to pick up some morel mushrooms brought an unexpected treat. Heidi lives adjacent to a forest wonderland I never knew existed: Happy Hollow Park in southwestern Roanoke County.

Heidi was kind enough to give us a guided tour. Dan chronicled our visit in his blog post, Photos: The Glory of the Azalea. I’ve included some azalea pics, but I found some other interesting sights along the way, too.

Daisy's driver wore a cap. Her navigator had a Bad Hair Day.

We drove up in Dan’s car, Daisy. Daisy’s driver wore a cap. Her navigator had a Bad Hair Day. Heidi took the pic but is absolved of all responsibility for my hair "don’t."

Azaleas come in lots of colors, all beautiful.

My first ever vertical panorama shot. Azaleas come in lots of colors, all beautiful.

Heidi and Dan wander up the trail.

Heidi and Dan wander up the trail while I take tree photos.

The leaves are coming.

The leaves are coming.

Cabin & Moon

Lovely cabin with the moon showing above.

Dan in the Clearing

A clearing and small amphitheatre for entertainment – including weddings.

Dan & Tree

Dan inspects a large, old oak felled by the wind.

Heidi’s home at the top of a very steep driveway is lovely, and I enjoyed chatting with her. She’s a freelance writer who works at home – “home” having the added benefit of an occasional visit from the local wildlife. Think “Bear in the woods.”

We didn’t see any bears. I expect that was A Very Good Thing.

Category: Hiking, Photos & Photo Galleries, Welcome to My Life, Working at Home

The best anti-aging treatment there is.

Posted April 22, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., What Someone Else Said, Writing | 2 Comments

My friend Dan Smith and I went to lunch the other day, and he snapped a couple of pictures of me: one while I was tinkering with my phone, the other when I was smiling pretty for the camera.

Since nothing has actually happened in Dan’s life until he writes about it (50 years as a journalist will do that to a person), he wrote a post about one of the pictures. I’ve got a screenshot of it below. Click here to read it on his blog.

Flattering? Who Cares: 'It Looks Like Me'

I like his commentary a lot. And I want to share the other photo he took of me smiling because it demonstrates a very important truth about aging:

A smile is the best anti-aging treatment there is.
Staring at my iPhone 2015-04-22.5
Living in color helps, too.
On the iPhone in color Smile in color

Category: Lessons I've Learned, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., What Someone Else Said, Writing

Epic Quality Control #Fail: Cheese‑bun misalignment

Posted March 3, 2015 | @BuffyLinux, Photos & Photo Galleries, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Welcome to My Life | One Comment

If you’ve ever ordered a Filet-O-Fish sandwich from Mickey D’s, you know that:

  • the cheese sticks the fish and bun together like glue;
  • if the cheese and bun aren’t properly aligned, it’s not pretty; and,
  • there’s no way to fix it. You just have to eat the evidence. Or not.

My favorite on-the-road reporter, @BuffyLinux, caught this epic quality control #fail on digital media, reeled it in and sent it to me, the intrepid reporter of random weirdness.

Cheese-Bun Misalignment

Quite possibly the worst case of cheese/bun misalignment in history.

Is the cheese even on that sandwich?

It reminds me of the time he ordered a pecan waffle at Waffle House and got a pecan waffle – if a pecan waffle is a plain waffle with a small clump of pecans on the plate under and in no way connected to it.

Would you like fries with that?

Category: @BuffyLinux, Photos & Photo Galleries, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Welcome to My Life

Guest blog post: Being Happy: It’s a Choice  by Dan Smith

Posted March 2, 2015 | Guest Posts, Lessons Learned, What Someone Else Said | 2 Comments

Choose to Be HappyYesterday I spent some time with my friend Dan Smith. He was so happy, it was contagious. Figuring that if you want to be happy you should ask a happy person how to do it, I asked him if he’d write a guest post for my blog about being happy.

He did. It’s cool. Thanks, Dan.

A simple dynamic I learned a number of years ago as I was trying to get sober after years of alcoholism set the tone not only for the elimination of booze from my life, but for allowing in the sunshine. My sponsor at the time, the late Tom Shirley, a college professor, gave me the simple instructions:

“You are responsible for everything that happens to you, for everything you feel and for all of your reactions. No exceptions, no excuses. You choose who you will be and then you become that.”

Simple in concept, damn near impossible because we are all basically lawyers looking for loopholes. My first response to Tom’s dictum almost got out of my mouth: “But what if…”

“There’s no ‘but,’ there’s no ‘what if’,” said Tom before I could even finish the sentence.

“This is absolute. If you walk out into the street and get hit by a runaway bus, driven by a child rapist on his way to blow up the Pentagon, you are responsible for what happened to you. You should have been more careful. You can’t control the bus or the speeding rapist/mass murder, but you can control yourself. You could have looked closer, chosen a different route, left home later. Endless choices.”

Oh, that’s harsh, I thought. No excuses. Not a one. What’s a body to do?

This body had to go find a higher power and trust in the guidance of that power “praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” That’s the last part of the 11th Step of AA’s 12 Steps. The 3rd Step is finding the power, which can be a bitch.

That portion of the 11th Step, though, is basic to my understanding of responsibility. It says the only thing I should pray for is guidance and enough sense to follow it. Anything else is instructing my higher power and I haven’t reached that pay grade. So, I keep it simple.

Dan & Daisy

Daisy & Dan

The question here is how do I keep such a sunny outlook? The simple and direct answer is: I choose to. Things bad happen to me as often as they happen to you. But I look at them as learning experiences, as aberrations along the road to “happy destiny,” as AA’s founders described it. They can be overcome, as a general rule, and if they can’t, I have to accept them and adjust my thinking about them.

Daisy's Daisies

Daisy’s Daisies

The other day, on Facebook, I was celebrating the purchase of a little VW bug that I just adore. It’s yellow, bright and has a place to put daisies on the dashboard (I put them there). Most people responded to my post with glee. One woman whom I’ve known for a couple of years and who tends to look for what can go wrong, offered a list of the things that can break on the VW and the information that she has owned two, so she should know. I responded that I had done my research, knew about the pitfalls and simply chose to enjoy myself. She said I misunderstood, that she was simply a realist.

So, does being a realist mean I can’t be happy? No, it does not. I know the dangers, accept them and choose to concentrate on those things that delight me, to share them and to be happy today, regardless of what happens.

Life is better that way.

Dan Smith

Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a long-time, award-winning journalist living in Roanoke, Virginia. A member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, he is an author, radio essayist, community activist, liberal voice, father of two, and grandfather of two. He’s the co-founder and former co-owner/editor of Valley Business FRONT magazine.

You can read about Dan and what he thinks about everything else on his blog at fromtheeditr.blogspot.com and buy his books (which I highly recommend) by clicking on the links below.

CLOG! in Paperback

Dan Smith
CreateSpace - An Amazon Company


Category: Guest Posts, Lessons Learned, What Someone Else Said

On love, compassion, admiration, spanking, and stalking.

Posted February 10, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Welcome to My Life, Writing | 2 Comments

The Definition of LoveIf the frequency of the use of a word in a culture reflects its importance, then it seems our society values love a great deal and accuracy not at all.

We use the verb “love” to describe the positive feeling we have about anything we want or enjoy, but our use of it doesn’t differentiate between degree, object, or duration. We use it to describe how we feel about a pet, a pair of shoes, a child, a sports team, a spouse, a deity, or a car.

We have an entire holiday dedicated to love that encompasses everything from hearts and flowers to diamonds and candy, with cards available for everyone from spouses, children, and friends to pets, teachers, and “all the kids in the class.”

We say we are “in love” – an altered state of consciousness that lasts about 18 months and can also be induced by the consumption of chocolate. After 18 months, do we love differently?

Types of Love

Derived from “Types of Love” art print by ilovedoodle on Etsy

We speak of acts of love in a range that covers everything from giving a diamond to a potential spouse, offering a sympathetic shoulder to a friend, martyring oneself in the name of religion, spanking a child to teach him not to run into traffic, and taking care of an elderly parent.

A parent punishing a child to teach him and an obsessed fan stalking an unwilling victim might both describe what they are doing as acts of love.

Are they?

I’ve been as much a perpetrator of the inaccuracy of love as anyone. I’ve also been a victim, a giver, and a receiver of it. But as my second marriage marches down the legal path toward dissolution, I find that I don’t like the work “love” anymore. It implies both too much and too little, and gives almost no accurate information.

I’ve become more aware of how important it is to accurately describe how I feel and the feelings that motivate my actions.

I enjoy. I admire. I feel compassion. I lust. I desire. I give. I receive.

But if I don’t know what it means, how can I say I love?

. . .

Written for and read at the January 2015 Liminal Reading at Community High School.

Category: Lessons I've Learned, Welcome to My Life, Writing

Perfectionism and the fear of beginnings

Posted January 25, 2015 | Lessons Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, Writing | 4 Comments

New Notebook


To me a beginning is like a brand new notebook: clean, neat, perfect, and empty. I open it and savor the possibilities, but I hesitate to write anything in it because I know that not long after the beginning comes The First Mistake. Then it’s not perfect anymore.

I get a knot in the pit of my stomach. I desperately want to tear out the page and rewrite it because I don’t want the mistake there reminding me of my imperfections, all the mistakes I’ve ever made, the fact that I’m not perfect. So I tell myself:

“Of course you’re not perfect! You’re human!
Get a grip and move on!”

Usually that works and I can go on, accepting that once something has begun, there will be misspellings, revisionn, and notes written in the margins. But every once in a while I have to tear out the back with the mistake and rewrite it because the reminder is too painful.

I love the hope that lives in a new beginning. But the fear of the first mistake – the first error I make when writing in a new notebook; the first time I break a resolution I’ve made; the first scratch I get on a new car; the first time I upset someone I’ve never upset before; the first time I drop, spill, or break something after I get up and start a new day – those of the things that make beginnings difficult for me.

Mistakes in Amish Quits

Photo Credit: Cookie’s Creek

I like the way the Amish deal with the idea of perfection. In any Amish quilt, there is a deliberate mistake made in the pattern. It’s a reminder that only God is perfect.

Perhaps a beginning is really just an opportunity to make new mistakes.

And, if I deliberately make a mistake first thing, I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

* * *

This was written for and read at the January 2015 Liminal Reading at Community High School.

Category: Lessons Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, Writing

Feelings aren’t like parking permits. They don’t need to be validated by anybody else.

Posted January 2, 2015 | Lessons I've Learned, Lessons Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said | 2 Comments

I ran across a blog post today that reminded me of a couple more things I learned last year.

Validated FeelingsI don’t need anyone else to validate my feelings. I can, and should, do that myself.

I don’t have the right to try to blame someone else for making me feel a certain way or to manipulate him into making me feel better. Even if the other person tries, it doesn’t work because it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

Some background

When I was a child, I was often told that what I felt was wrong.

  • When I cried when I was sad, my father told me to run around the house three times and wash my face.
  • When I excitedly told him that I wanted to be a graphic artist, my father said, “No, you don’t. You want to be an architect.”
  • When we took a hike and I told him I felt dizzy and nauseous and needed to rest, he told me to keep going; I was fine.

Why is this important?

  • I can now accept my feelings as my own and do what I need to do to take care of myself.
  • I don’t have to blame other people for making me feel a certain way or try to manipulate them into acknowledging them or making me feel better.

What did I gain by learning this?

  • I learned that I can take the time and space I need to take care of myself.
  • I’ve messed up a lot of relationships trying to get my need for validation and comfort from someone else. My relationships are much better now without that pressure.

I wasn’t taught those things. It took me over 50 years to learn them, but I’m grateful that I finally did. My life is better because of it.


Tiny Buddha
You Don’t Need Other People to Validate Your Feelings


Category: Lessons I've Learned, Lessons Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said

My 2015 goals; To become the best me I can be.

Posted December 31, 2014 | Lessons Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | 2 Comments

GrowthI’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. Being a contrary sort, saying I’m going to do something specific kicks in a reflexive, “I don’t think so!” response by my psyche, which then points me in a whole different direction.

In the past few days, I’ve written posts about some of the

Lessons I learned in 2014:

  1. When to shut up and why.
  2. Know what “it” is before I go for it.
  3. One way to save time.
  4. What I need before I can tackle a difficult task.
  5. Organization versus procrastination
  6. How to have a good day.
  7. How to make new choices.
  8. How not to start a sentence (unless I want to start a fight).

In 2015

I’ll change because, well, as much as people stay the same, they change because circumstances change.

My goal in 2015 is to grow.

“Change is inevitable.
 Growth is intentional.”

— Glenda Cloud

And I want to grow intentionally in the direction of becoming more of the person I was meant to be.

I’m not sure of the specifics yet, but in general, I intend to live more joyfully, work more effectively, use my time more wisely, speak and act more kindly, listen more attentively, think more positively, exercise more regularly, eat more nutritiously, and sleep more restfully.

I’ll work out the details later, but because I plan on sleeping more restfully (and therefore plan to be asleep at midnight), I’ll take this time to wish a Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night!

Category: Lessons Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life

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