By that I mean cradle board or child carrier. My college head adviser, professor, priest and friend for nearly forty years had an office filled with books. Atop the shelving were papooses from the Hopi, who he served every summer.

Many years ago I thought it was strange that a Catholic priest would have baby carriers everywhere. They were beautiful, and also represent life. Sometimes I think he might rather talk to a child who could fit into a papoose than an errant  college kid like me and others.

Now I’ll never know. I couldn’t fly in for the funeral masses. Heaven knows there would be hundreds of people at each one. I may be content visiting my local church for Mass, and lighting a candle in his name. I do regret not getting to see him in the past years as his health declined.

Well, he’s already given me a job, he didn’t waste any time, finding a dog for a neighbor who is elderly and disabled. I went to a Franciscan college. St. Francis is the patron saint for animals. I am the go-to person in that regard, volunteering for over 20 years. They don’t call me the dog lady for nothing. I’ve a good “bite” today from a reputable organization who recognizes my service for the main organization on our campus and my mother’s service as a volunteer for the female breeding dogs in their new northern home.

I received a nice note from this organization today and am hoping to help my neighbor and a dog who needs a job. I told Fr. Cap that St. Francis has always and will continue to put me to use.

Here’s to the Father I will miss and keep in my heart forever. God will bless him. Dee


I don’t believe the dictionary, instead I believe my dog. She’s sleeping behind me, never more than two feet away, but never touching unless she wishes to do so. Her photo should be next to the word “nonchalant” except she’s pretending, otherwise she wouldn’t always stay two feet from me.

The other morning around 5:00 she aligned her spine against mine on our bed, to assure I would not move without her knowing about it. She hasn’t done that for a couple of years, but things are different with my husband away on business.

Nonchalant is definitely the word of the day. OED calm, relaxed. I might think of a lady sure of herself at Ascot, with the best hat. Sean Connery as Bond, James Bond. Or Meryl Streep in any movie.

Who doesn’t care about the maelstrom surrounding ones lives? I’ve done change all my life as a kid, at work, in life. I can’t tell you how many because you won’t believe me. I can say that most were very good changes since my birth but change does take its toll.

My word is inured, not nonchalant. I had a new school, new friends and was pulled out, even in high school. Luckily I got to spend four years at the same college. So much for nonchalance. Cheers, Dee

ps My brother and I have agreed to make even a better Cassoulet than I did for our father 25 years ago. It will be a project, lasting days or a week, to better what Dad once called the best meal of his life.

My life has been inspired, I’ve learned, loved, of course lost a great deal. I’ve never shied away, at least for 20 years, from controversy. There is so much controversy about this French dish that I lost my book, Simca’s Cuisine that kept me warm on cold winter nights on my unpaid culinary apprenticeship.

I’ve found the long-lost book, on Amazon, that is the dish to give to my father. Back then, it was my best friend as I was living in an unheated cabin on a mattress just to cook. We’ll fly in and cook, that’s the plan. D

New Things

When I was 12 years old we moved to a very different place. We usually had only the networks and PBS for television (I liked PBS when it began showing Julia Child). OK, also Sesame Street to keep my young brother occupied for a bit.

As to music I’d always bought transistor radios and only had a few channels so it was mostly top 40. Then I met other kids who listened to Dave Mason. I tried out a lot of bands and began with Elton John, lots of famous balladeers including Joan Baez. Dylan, but was missing several components, but in gym class got to play the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. I created a stretch class for that, no teacher, I was in 10th grade.

Our family was back north (luckily I didn’t have to shoot BB guns in gym class anymore) a year later. I was into Beatles, Bad Co. and a lot of other music.

One thing I missed was country. I thought it simple and somewhat backward but I was wrong. It is true music, granted I can probably transpose many songs into the traditional cowboy chords. Who spoke to me? Johnny Cash, CSNY (not country, but worth mentioning as well as Peter, Paul and Mary). Joan Baez, always, though her chords are too difficult for this neophyte.

At the time we laughed at Glen Campbell while singing his songs, as he is a legend in many ways. This year at the Oscars they sang a song he wrote to his family about having Alzheimers. He has done wonderful work and I love the simplicity of country songs and the lyrics these “cowboys” put to music.

Perhaps I mis-speak but I am not a fan of “entertainers” taking the stage and yelling undecipherable lewd lyrics into a microphone. I grew up with Mozart, Bach, Beethoven. I believe that folk, country and pop have a place and not just on the oldies channel.

Speaking of which, I do not yet have or use Pandora. I do not listen to music in the car as I usually only drive a couple miles per day. My guitar teacher was so pleased that I actually wanted to learn a song that came from this decade, Hey There Delilah. We parted ways and moved before that ever happened.

It just shows that anyone, musician, dancer or otherwise should always keep up with the times but also remember classical training. That is first. For cooks as well. Learn the groundwork and riff away. Cheers! Dee

Good Signs

Over 12 years ago, my husband and I eloped. There were eight of us and everyone played a role. Dear friends, a Navy Captain and his wife, helped out. He married us and she was a witness on the marriage certificate.

She also made me allow her (you don’t argue with J, her three sons know as much) to buy my wedding bouquet. I saw a simple arrangement in a small vase at the florist and said “that’s it.” She wanted something more grand, I said small. I got yellow French tulips and alstroemeria in pink and yellow and ordered it to be wrapped in pale blue silk ribbon to carry through the eucalyptus grove we trespassed onto, overlooking the Pacific ocean, for the Ceremony, which the Captain wrote for us.

I already had my great aunt’s pearls (old), new pearl earrings, a borrowed bracelet and now the blue ribbon.

Today I received flowers, and not from my husband, a thank-you gift that is business-related. Valentines and our anniversary have passed and we have a pact not to celebrate “Hallmark” dates.

My husband asked me to engrave our wedding date and my birth date into his wedding ring. He still forgets both. Today’s flowers include yellow tulips and pink and yellow alstroemeria, from my wedding bouquet. There is no way the sender knew my wedding flowers as my husband does not even know them.

It’s a good sign of things to come. Cheers, reader. Let the weather warm and the birds be happy that they flew North two months too early! Dee

My Uninsurance Company

with whom we have multiple accounts, is investigating me, via this blog. Isn’t that fun. No-one else would have hit the term insurance several times in the past 24 hours. I used to regulate the insurance industry and remember a few things.

We deny your claims

You are to blame for damage

We increase your rates

That is my Haiku to the Gecko. He says to just keep sending us premium payments. We’ll investigate you for a small dent and scratch.

Why? I put it off for a week. Glad you asked. Earlier this week I receive two Safety Recall notices from the manufacturer that as my car has lived in a warm, moist climate if the air bags deploy they may kill me with shards of metal. Also that the seat belts may not work. If that’s not enough, the key may fall out when the car is not in park. So, I’ve a car with no control, no seat belts and no air bags. Great.

The Gecko is telling me he’s investigating me because a little ding is more important than being killed by an air bag and a seat belt that doesn’t work after the key falls out on the freeway. I beg to differ. As long as they’re reading my blog I must say hello or I would be remiss in my hospitality. Hi!

Some folks have priorities. I have people to love and protect and will have the information required for my Safety Recall. Having the rare parts in and getting my car so it will not kill me is more of a priority than a minor dent. When the parts are in, the Safety Recall work will take four hours and will make me feel safer driving up the highway to see the inspector.

It’s interesting that when it’s a recall, it’s called service. When it’s a dent, the insurance company you’ve paid premiums to for years send an inspector. When I pay for insurance, I expect service. Thank you, Dee

You Know Your iPhone

is old when:

People you don’t remember are listed as contacts;

Dead people from years ago are in it and their names bring back memories;

The bank you’ve been with 20 years will no longer let you access via cell phone;

You can not read texts without better glasses or a magnifying glass (that’s me getting old as well);

You cannot text because everything is too darned small (that’s partly me); and

Dinner guests come over, all place their phones on the coffee table for a pre-dinner drink and hors d’oeuvres all the iPhone 6+s laugh at my antique phone.

It’s a 3. Not a 3G or 3GS. It’s an iPhone 3 that can only last 20 minutes off life support. So what did my husband do on a business trip? Stole my car charger. What happens if I’m stranded in the middle of the desert with a dead, old phone? Yes, I’ll be a dead, old gal and my dog will find her way somewhere to a new home where she’ll be welcomed with open arms.

He did get me a new charger, realizing the implications of his actions. I went to dinner with the other new phone owners and didn’t bring mine along lest it be laughed at. They enjoyed the comment and we had a lovely meal.

Can I keep the phone as an antique? Not a great idea, though I’ve the first 1957 portable Smith-Corona typewriter, a gift from my dear aunt for high school graduation that was the envy of my dorm in college. Market value on eBay is $6 but I lug it across country, waiting for that country cabin where I can place it on my antique English oak desk in front of a window overlooking mountains and really write. Think Ernest Hemingway with snow. That’s if I can still find ribbons.

I lug the typewriter and desk because they have great meaning to me. They both signify independence of a sort. Being on my own at college, buying my first piece of furniture. Dear husband, of course your counsel will be sought but I’d rather an iPhone 6+ and the $20 MacBook (8 years old) battery you sent me last week than an iPad and new laptop. You’re great! And as you see, I’m not a shopper.

The husband and dog come with me everywhere, no lugging involved, some dog hair when I lift the old girl up to her orthopedic bed in my car. She has no hips.

Cars bring me from A to B, safely. I fought against having a cell phone for years until I was caught in the middle of Camp Pendleton for three hours. A day after my car’s 35K checkup ($700) the rear differential broke on the highway. I was on the shoulder with no access to the base and walked to a horrible yellow highway phone box and waited for hours. Of course someone left a wrench or something in the works and the dealer paid to fix their mistake. It cost me a lot of time and a critical client meeting, as Art Garfunkel would say, 99 miles to L.A.

Cell phones keep me in touch with family, friends and get me out of trouble if I’m ever stuck with a flat tire and have to call AAA. I do like the look of the iPhone 6+, dear, and for once would like a new phone, not a hand-me-down. Cheers! Dee


What Would Sam Rayburn Do?

Yes, former Speaker of the House. There is a museum and roads named after him in NE Texas but anyone who remembers knows Sam Rayburn.

Frustrated that it took so much time to get back to his House duties in our nation’s capital, he devised and had taxpayers fund a highway to Dallas, TX. It’s still there.

He was a visionary. Now Dallas is creeping, seeping, arrogantly claiming NE Texas as its own by taking over cow country and flooding bottom lands in order to build reservoirs to provide itself water. Our family is being kicked off of 500 acres of land that will be a reservoir, and not a pretty one where folks vacation, in a few years just so a Dallas “metroplex” family can get a glass of water.

Sam Rayburn opened the roads for his home town and its residents, and doomed them at the same time. The train stopped its route there because of the highway. Trucks stopped because of the Interstate highways. His home town has become more of a ghost town. But I’ll bet your bottom dollar he got the funds to build the VA Hospital there. Looks like the era. I know because my husband’s mother works there as a nurse.

Of course my husband’s family is there and we join a large group every  year for Thanksgiving. Every once in a while, I drive by the Sam Rayburn Museum en route to DFW and think I’d like to visit one day.

My point of this tale is to say “pave your own path.” If it is golden bricks to the Emerald City, or creating a light bulb, do it. That’s what Sam Rayburn would have done. Cheers! Dee


Right about now I think I’m about to be recalled. My college mentor was recalled and buried yesterday.

I scratched a pole in our tight parking garage the other day, then received two recall notices this week that say if the air bags have been in hot and humid weather, if they deploy that metal shards may kill me even if someone runs into me and the accident wouldn’t have done as much damage. Me, not the car.

My insurance company tried to get me to concentrate on the scratch and dent and told me it was all my fault. Yes, my neighbor entered the garage and waved  and I waved back at 1m per hour and scratched the concrete pole.

The auto manufacturer said I had two other recalls I’d never received, one for seat belt malfunction and the other for keys falling out of the ignition when the car is not in Park.

Let’s do the scales of justice. My insurance company is demanding the car for a dent and scratch. My car manufacturer says it’s time to come in because I could be killed because my key could fall out of the ignition in drive or reverse, my air bag could fail or inflate and kill me, and my seat belt will not keep me from going through the window. The parts are scarce and I ordered them the day of the recall notice and was told it would be 7-10 days before they arrived on site.

Small dent or life. No choice according to my insurance company. Did I say I was a former insurance analyst for the government, looking for client mishaps? You’ve read of my success against the insurance industry. I’m waiting for them to tell me that my car potentially killing me protects them against helping me out on a 1  mph mishap in our parking garage.

Tune in for the next episode of As The SUV’s Turn. My fantastic car is nearly 12 years old, I love it and want to keep it for another five years at least. Ok, I’d also love to move to the Rockies and once again look at blue skies and mountains forever. Yes, both.

It’s freezing here and I have to gear both me and the dog up for a walk. No, not a drive to a fun place as my car is not safe because my seat belts won’t work and my air bags will send metal shards through by body. Chances are the ignition has already choked up my key and I’ve no control so am probably doing a Thelma and Louise exit. Great movie ending but not mine. No way.

There are priorities in life and they include my husband, my dog’s and my safety. The insurance company can wait for the dent.

For me, my husband and our lives we are awaiting parts for the recalls and I’ll get the dent taken care of later. Our insurance company is more mechanized by the day and given an hour or so someone may get on the phone and the number they posted is wrong for our area. The new number takes another hour and the person on the other end of the line is so rude it is beyond description.

When did customer service become a bad thing to offer? I certainly thought this offspring of the most revered stock trader in history would continue to provide support to its customers, especially those who’ve been with them for at least a decade.

Is there a Hire a Gecko line I can choose? Cheers, Dee

Entitlement II

Right now I live in a 20 story tower overlooking a big lake a block away. We have a trash chute. Those entitled persons never take the fraction of a second to turn the handle and turn off the red light on the trash chute, thus inconveniencing 19 floors of residents and requiring maintenance to go floor to floor to find the problem.

They never know who is the problem, however. My husband, software guru, has given them two easy ways. I’m low tech and would go for fingerprints.

When we were out west all the movie people would come out around this time and my husband and I called them PIB’s and SPIB’s. People In Black, and Servants of People In Black. The SPIB’s took over the grocery store. They wouldn’t let your cart or personage walk by because their butt was in the middle of the aisle looking for the perfect tea.

I was on that aisle with a basket asking to get by. No way. I was asked to join Sundance in publicity and was slated for volunteer training. Things changed and I ended up with more snowy weather, no hills.

In the end I give, I do not take. Entitlement is rampant and I would rather live a simple life with my husband and dog than feel more important than everyone else in the world. If I did, my dog would be tiny and in a designer bag. Now, in order to keep her paws from all the salt and snow, I do pick her up on occasion. Not in a designer bag, in my arms as any dog mom would do. Cheers, Dee

Scary Things

I love my car. It’s a mid-sized SUV that is perfect for me and the dog for traveling, she’s in back with water on her 4″ orthopedic bed. No, she’s not spoiled.

This afternoon I got a recall notice saying that if this car was manufactured in a hot, humid climate the airbag, if deployed, may disperse metal fragments that can kill occupants.

It gets better. I received a notice for each air bag today. There are two more. I’ve been driving this car since 2008. One is about faulty seat belts and the other that the key may come out of the ignition when the car is not in park. I never received those notices.

Did I say I love my car? I’d like to keep it at least another five years. These safety issues baffle me, however. There’s a backlog on the air bag parts (also in the notice) so it’ll be a week or two before the nearest dealership calls me to come in. They say the car is fine to drive as I’ve been driving it for nearly seven years with the defects.

Let’s see, air bags, seat belts, ignition errors. I just don’t feel as safe anymore. Dee