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Gibbs was not pleased.

I didn’t fill his dish with kibble at the appointed hour.

Time slipped away this afternoon.

Laundry, projects, and errands filled the minutes.

Natasha heard the cries and asked if the kids had eaten dinner.



Bad mom.


What do I love to do in summer? Three vacation pictures tell the story.

Hiking – Ice Age Trail

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Biking – Mariner’s Trail along Lake Michigan

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Camping – Dells of the Eau Claire River

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Let’s think beyond a single post written with a single focus, and lean toward the “weekly” part of “weekly writing challenge”: you’ll start your post today, but revisit and add to it over the next several days.

MONDAYJuly 2014 Vacation 068

The sound of “helium” escapes from a Motorola cell phone. It’s a pleasant sound (in theory), one that manages to awaken a sleeping subject. This morning, at the start of the dreck that is called Monday, I dread helium as it officially signals the end of vacation. Catch-up and the daily grind await at the office. I don’t want to get up and wonder why I didn’t take one more day of vacation. What was I thinking?

My mind wanders back to miles on a mountain bike, flames from a campfire, perfect weather, and good food that is bad food. Similar to summer, vacation is never long enough and never overstays its welcome. Why can’t vacation be as long as cabin-fever February in the Northern Hemisphere? The past week begins its trek toward a distant memory, one that can only be recalled in photos and what a 50-something year-old brain can retain.


Helium is not as annoying as the previous morning. I am able to greet the day with some enthusiasm. The daily grind at the office picks up speed. The boss brings in cherry cheesecake. I surround the cheesecake with garlic bundles and drive the stake of a fork through a much healthier piece of chicken. A text exchange with Natasha ensues.

How’s the headache? Any better?

“Still hanging on. Took Tylenol.”



BTW, the avocados were brown on the inside :-(

“Oh well.”

Life is not especially exciting today, especially for Natasha and her headache. The evening is awash with laundry, grocery shopping, and early to bed for a tired friend.


Helium barely awakens its subject and is placed in snooze mode. I don’t want to get up, perhaps due to the weather change. It has gone from a humid, 90-degree Tuesday evening to a cool and dry 58-degree Wednesday morning. Sleep-in weather, not get-up weather. I lay in bed and think about the smile-inducing dream I had as a child when I lived in a cottage on the beach and rode a beautiful white mare on glistening, wave-washed sand. Today, there is no cottage on the beach and thy orange steed has two knobby tires. An iron horse once was underneath, but that is now a memory and another dream – the dream of an adult who once again wants wind in her hair and the therapy of a few hundred miles. If only I could ride again. If only…

A shower drowns the dreams in a warm mist of work-day reality. Off I trudge to the salt mines to fill up the coffee pot and maintain some semblance of organization.

Natasha’s headache is gone and she texts a picture of French toast and tells me of its yumminess. She is so evil. I ask if she will deliver to the office and all she can do is text “LOL.” Hmpff…evil, I say.

THURSDAYAvocado 010

Helium, you are so rude. Can you see that I want to sleep? Why must you always make noise at 5:20 am? Where’s your sleep mode? No, I don’t want to know about Facebook updates, I want to snore…geeezz!

Thank goodness there is an avocado in the refrigerator for today’s lunch. I love avocado, especially on a salad or in guacamole form. Add a few sprigs of cilantro and a favorite salad dressing or tortilla chips and I am in heaven. I stay away from mayonnaise and cheese, so avocado takes its place in egg salad, on BLT’s, and in the Cubano pressed sandwich from a local deli. Yum. Fabulous. Thursday’s avocado has the correct feel of ripeness. It will taste great with the chicken and greens. I hold the green goodness in my hand as I walk out the door, on the way to recon with stacks of paper.

Later…the California healthy fat is on a salad and I am “good to go” for the rest of the afternoon. The garlic bunches are still on guard around the cheesecake and the boss brings in watermelon to pay penance for his sins.


The sound of helium is a friend, as it signals the last day of the work week. Helium gets a friendly swipe across its face. Eight more hours in a 10 x 12 plastered box – herding numbers, letters and information gone astray – doesn’t seem too harsh. I can do it. As with every other day, the radio within the box barks out rock and roll, in between ramblings of a morning host and repetitive commercials.

“School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all” ~Alice Cooper~

Hmmm…seems appropriate, although I will have to return on Monday (unless I possess a winning lottery ticket); I’d prefer the office is not blown up; and the bosses never ever give me dirty looks (that I know of).

It’s a difficult row to hoe, that of a responsible adult. It’s a Monday through Friday event that makes one appreciate the weekend and the freedom to “sleep in” if one chooses. I choose. No helium on Saturday. No helium on Sunday. Unless, of course, I want to get up early and go camping or biking.

Helium is told to shut up for two days. It rests and so do I.


July 2014 Vacation 133

Pink Hat Lady sits

Contemplation takes hold

The pieces of her life in bits

Visions crisp, clear, bold


Pink Hat Lady sits

Her mom and poppa come to mind

Precious song and humor in bits

Memories only she can find


Pink Hat Lady sits

Stillness in the rows of trees

The quiet of gun-metal, bare bark in bits

Simplicity of nature she sees


Pink Hat Lady sits

Not wanting to move from this place

The jigsaw puzzle of life in bits

She desires to slow its rapid race


Pink Hat Lady sits

The clouds decide their dry fate

She ponders the weekend in bits

The lurking shutterbug waits


Pink Hat Lady sits

While a picture from behind is snapped

She will rise in a few bits

The day, the beauty, leaves her rapt


Pink Hat Lady stands

It’s time to move aside

To explore why nature is grand

And let the bright pink hat hide

July 2014 Vacation 132


I want to be Margaret…when I am 101 years on this and white daisy

Margaret is a newcomer to the assisted living facility where mom lives. The aides were giving her a tour of the building when I brought mom back from lunch this past Saturday. While mom and another aide proceeded into her room, I was introduced to the smiling little munchkin.

“Tell her how old you are!” prompted aide Heather.

Margaret smiled coyingly while Heather blurted out, “She’s 101!”

“Wow, that’s amazing!” I immediately zoned in on how “young” she appeared for a person of that age.

Margaret was not in a wheel chair. She was walking with a walker. Margaret stood fairly upright. She wore no glasses and heard every word I spoke to her without a single “What did you say?” Margaret carried on a coherent conversation.

I posed a question, “You don’t wear any glasses, Margaret?”

“Oh, I have them, but I don’t like to wear them,” was the answer that followed. (I detected a bit of vanity borne from Margaret’s winking smile.)

Aide Heather already adores Margaret, after just a day of knowing her. Heather explains to Margaret that she sits next to Pauline and that I am Pauline’s daughter.

“Ohhhh!” she brightens. “So, if I have something to tell you, I can tell your mom and then she can tell you what I said.”

“Sure, if mom remembers!” I smiled at Margaret as she told me her memory wasn’t as good as it used to be. Oh Margaret, I think you can be forgiven for that.

We ended our conversation and while I was sitting in mom’s room, I could hear smiling Margaret and the two aides (Heather is now joined by Karen) who carried on a delightful conversation about remembering names. Margaret said she wasn’t good at it and asked both Heather and Karen to repeat their first names. A couple of times. I queried loudly to the aides, “Will there be a test later?”

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Margaret was born in 1913, six years before my mom. It was the year that the Post Office began parcel post deliveres; when the National Woman’s Party formed; when New York City’s Grand Central Terminal opened; when the first minimum wage law in the US took effect; when the IRS begins to levy and collect taxes; when Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated the 28th President of the US; when the British House of Commons rejects the woman’s right to vote; when Romania declares war on Bulgaria; when Henry Ford institutes a moving assembly line; when thousands of women demonstrate for Dutch female suffrage. The list goes on, the years go on.

And here we are, 101 years later. To think about what Margaret and Pauline have seen during their lifetime is hard to fathom.

Margaret placed a smile on my heart for this little lady and evoked a bittersweet sigh for mom. Margaret is going to be a bright light at the facility, while mom’s eyesight continues to grow dim. Margaret will see the laughter in Heather’s eyes while mom asks, “Who are you?” as her sight continues to fade. Margaret is going to forget Heather’s name while mom forgets that I’m her daughter. I don’t know much else about Margaret – her last name, her own family history, how she came to sit next to mom at the dinner table. Was she married? Does she have many grandchildren and great grandchildren and perhaps one or two great great grandchildren?

The thoughts running through my head as I left on Saturday were full of wishes. I wish mom could see better. I wish mom could hear better. I wish mom could remember that she lives in Oshkosh, not Milwaukee (where she grew up). I wish mom could feel the happiness that Margaret seems to feel. I know that will not happen until mom finds heaven, but the knowledge doesn’t stop me. I still wish (and pray) for her.

In the meantime, I am grateful for Margaret and the sunshine that seemed to glow across her face. I am grateful that she will be sitting next to mom at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perhaps Margaret can strike up a conversation with mom, be a positive light for her, garner a smile or two from mom. Perhaps they can share stories of growing up during the depression and memories of their families.

Yes, I want to be Margaret when I’m 101.

Smiling, seeing, hearing, joyful and having a hard time remembering names.

For this week’s photo challenge, I scoured past photos of places I have visited and wasn’t inspired to share anything. Nothing screamed relic.

But, this did…

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It’s an album of many years past.

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And photos older than the album itself.

The relic of a childhood.

I was kind of cute back then.

I’m going through the vast expanse of photos on my computer…looking for leftovers and deleting those that ask the eternal question, “What the h*ll was I thinking?” Photo clean-up has been overdue for weeks, months, years. For this week’s writing challenge, I’ve decided to turn it into the leftover photo challenge. Coming up are twelve almost-lovely pictures that haven’t seen the light of day since they were taken (other than to annoy Facebook friends). I hope you find some value from the ensuing mess.

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Mary finds Elvis, June 2009. The hair was a little stiff and so was his guitar playing ability. Disappointed, to say the least.

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Mary is Thrown into Water, 2012. Yes, that’s me in the purple shirt, trying to keep water out of the nasal passages. Hey guys, let me up now. Guys? Hello?


Avast Ye Mateys! March, 2012.  I do not know how a pirate got a gig in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. He must have used the sword with mighty, gentle persuasion.


Lambeau Field, December 2012. Brother goes in search of Green Bay Packer paraphernalia because anything with a big green “G” on it screams “I’m a fan!”


Gibbs, 2013. Because you can never be annoying enough or have too many human mom pictures of His Brattyness.

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Polar Vortex, 2014. Please excuse me while I go put on the long underwear and reminisce. Brrrrrrrrr.

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How Wine is Planted, 2012. I mean how flowers are planted. *hic*

Moving around 007

The Last to go During the Big Move, 2014. Blogging girl kept that baby plugged in until the last possible moment, when the movers unwrapped her fingers from the mouse and carried her down the stairs.


Smithsonian. Picasso. 2011. I was mezmerized by this painting. I couldn’t believe I was so close. Neither could the security guard, who told me to take two steps back. I complied.

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New Year’s Eve, 2010. I crush you! I crush you! (Or perhaps that’s Captain and Coke’s drunken hand claw.)


Ziva in a Scrapbook, 2011. Because she demands equal time.

And, finally…

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Babe the Blue Ox, 2014. Because Natasha and I are Blue Babes. Strong like ox. No, really we are. What? Hey, quit laughing >:-(


While mom bakes a batch of peanut butter, oatmeal and dark chocolate chip cookies and cleans up her mess, she has asked me to guest post. It’s going to be short because, as you may or may not know, it’s hard to type with paws and claws.

So here goes…guess which photo contains my lovely being (I’m Gibbs) and which one contains that other one known as Ziva?

No hints, no prizes, just guess.

Do you know these ears? 

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Is it me or the Evil Queen?

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I realize it’s a difficult task. Thankfully, we know each other by smelling just under the tail.

Good luck humans!

Love and Cat Grass Fever to all of you,



I can never pass up an awesome photo of anything motorcycle. Please be sure to visit this post and others like it at Monochromia.

Originally posted on Monochromia:

Those of us who ride, love doing so on days when the sun is shining and the skies are clear,  no matter the temperature. Sometimes though, the day turns stormy, and we’re forced to pull over and wait out the rain. Once the clouds part, we’re on the road again, knowing that, in time, the wind will have us dry once again.

If you’ve visited Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things, you know that I love to seek new adventures while riding my motorcycle. In fact, the whole reason I started blogging was to be able to share my travels with family and friends who worried about me heading out on my own.  I’ve long been the one who uses photography to document the events in the lives of my friends and family, and it’s a natural fit to take the camera along with me on the…

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Gallery  —  Posted: July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


Here’s an Australian history lesson related to the Fourth of July. I can assuredly say that we all love our own heritage and the people of our country, despite the actions of our politicans and others who may push aside the concept of independence.

Originally posted on Master of Something I'm Yet To Discover:

Me, aged about 10 months (Lexington, KY)

Today is the Fourth of July, American Independence Day.

I’m not American. The photo above was taken when we spent a year of my earliest life living in Kentucky. I spoke my first words with an American accent.

Australians know all about Independence Day. It figures prominently in Hollywood and every US television series from Leave It To Beaver to The Wonder Years to Modern Family has had at least one Fourth of July themed episode (or so it seems).

In some ways, I envy the USA and the passion they hold for their national day. Along with their Northern cousins, they celebrate a day they became a nation in their own right, whether through war and bloodshed or, as my Canadian friend joannesisco put it, by asking “our British Motherland for permission“.

I also envy them their flags, unique to…

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flag-fireworks1Friday is the Fourth of July – Independence Day for U.S. citizens. It’s a day of celebration. Over a three-day weekend, I hope to be indulging in two nights of fireworks, combined with a movie or two, adult refreshment and Oreos. (Those blessed Oreos!) I may even salute my beautiful country.

Happy Birthday America, I adore you from sea to shining sea!


America, The Beautiful Lyrics
by Katharine Lee Bates – 1913

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Head in Hands


You’re so stupid! That’s what I say to myself on occasion. Monday morning was one of those occasions. I was two miles down the road when I realized I had left paperwork and mail sitting on the desk, back at the office. I had a large cup of coffee, purse, banana and protein bar in the vehicle, but not the paperwork I would need for the job at hand at another office. The vehicle turned around while I verbally slammed myself. “Mary, you are so stupid!”

Have you ever done that to yourself?

I would guess that you are nodding your head up and down in response. I would also guess you are in agreement – this kind of behavior is negative and unkind to self. And, yet, we do it. Why do we berate ourselves over such silliness? Are we the devil incarnate? The evil twin? The person who does nothing right? Has the world ended due to what we perceive as our stupid, idiotic moments? As wise friend Natasha once told me, we should be looking in the mirror every day and proclaiming, “I am beautiful (or handsome)! I am strong! I am smart!” It’s a difficult task for me to accomplish without feeling a bit egotistical, but it’s certainly a task that is far better than looking in the mirror and announcing, “Hey you! Dumbass! You suck!”

And, so, I chuckled Monday evening while grocery shopping with Natasha. She scolded herself for being in the wrong section of the produce department (or something of the sort) and called herself a name. Interesting human nature…nature we can’t always control (unless it was a rotten avocado giving off negative vibes as Natasha walked the produce aisles.) Instead of yelling at a piece of paper or an avocado, of which there would be no harm, Natasha and I yelled at ourselves, to make our emotional selves feel worse.

Why would we do that?

To add to the assault, human nature can fail miserably at healthy self-forgiveness. I was reminded of this recently after a phone conversation with a long-time friend. She was severely beating herself up over a decision she made 30 years ago. In her mind, it was the “wrong” decision, somehow leading to her current unhappiness. I actually believe this friend was wringing her hands about what she considered “wrong” decisions over a 30-year time span, not realizing that they were the “right” decisions at the time. We make our decisions believing they are “right,” or the best decisions for us, and we can never know how life would be different if the decision had been different. We may think that going back 30 years to correct an error in judgment will change our life for the better, but will it?


I was close to my friend’s world as I began the process of divorce almost five years ago. It was a time when I started to question everything I had done for 30+ years, the choices I made, and what I had to give up (to find happiness) due to those personal decisions. The self-questioning was short-lived when it became overwhelming to me and I realized I could not move forward with ongoing queries and doubts about what cannot be changed. I had not hurt anyone during those years and, in truth, I had wonderful experiences and met new friends that I would not want to lose over one changed decision. Coming to know and marry the former Mister meant I had life-long friends that I would have never met in another life. I know how to ride a motorcycle because of him. I came back to faith because of him. I can sharpen a kitchen knife with a steel because of him (and a Gordon Ramsey video). I know of respect and disrespect because of him. My life may have been different, may have been better, with a decision not to marry the former Mister, but how do I know that?  Do I forgive and let go of the past or do I continue to beat myself up for years afterward?

Do I call myself stupid?

The answer would be “no,” but with certainty I will do it again – for silly reasons – call myself stupid, insane, idiot, weenie, or just plain dumb. It’s difficult to break something I have done for most of my life. It’s habitual, much like a daily cup of coffee or a morning get-ready-for-work ritual. The key, the caveat perhaps, is to not take our own verbal or emotional self-lashing seriously; to know, in the end, that “you’re so stupid” moments are human moments; to know that decisions are always meant to be right; to know that as a fallible human being, you will never be perfect (the perfectionists out there just gasped); to know, finally, that you are wonderful, smart you. Always. Isn’t that what we can all tell ourselves?

We are NOT so stupid!