Posted in Essay

The World and All That


I get to travel once in a while. I guess you could say if I could travel all the time I think I would and wouldn’t get tired of it. Maybe. Gary and I travel some, but when we do we tend to loop the same places. We love cruising and the Carribbean is the best in our humble opinion. St. Martin’s happens to be one of my happy places. As is St. John’s, St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grand Caymen’s…..

I have also been to parts of countries that give me pause. I really don’t know how to express what I see except for the knowledge that for some strange reason (which in my opinion is no reason at all) I drew the lottery. I can’t say how that happened. I think some people believe they drew the winning ticket because they are entitled, pre-ordained, or have some type of purpose. I just feel lucky. And when we all queued at the starting gate, well, we were on equal footing. No one started sooner or later. And it didn’t matter how hard we ran, how fast, or where, we didn’t really have a say in where we landed. We just did.

I hope I get to travel more. I want to see all this planet has to offer. I’m older now and not sure that I can see as much as I would like but I am going to try. If for any other reason than it makes me realize how crazy, wonderful, and special life really is. And I hope to see you along the way!

Posted in Essay

In Search of Dragons


Last night I watched Game of Thrones. Yes, current season’s Episode 9. I plummeted to the depths watching Shireen Baratheon die as she was sacrificed to the Lord of Lights and later I soared along with Daenerys Targaryen on the back of her dragon.  

This is what “Game” does.  The unexpected.  Okay, sometimes they lay the groundwork (as in the case of Shireen) and sometimes, more often than not, I find myself saying “I didn’t see that coming”, as in the case of Daenerys and her dragon or as I watched the Red Wedding.

Life is so much like that. Some days are very predictable. Or unpredictable as we find ourselves chasing dragons and not flying with them.  Some days we can’t catch a break and find ourselves thrown into prison like Cersei. Maybe not literally but it can seem like it.

And some days we triumph, we soar. 

So, on that note, here is a list of life lessons I have learned from watching GOT:

  • Appreciate good weather.
  • Watch your back, especially with royalty.
  • Don’t be a hypocrite, you just might end up in jail.
  • In battle find a nice big giant. Believe me, they are a must have this season.
  • Do not accept food from a stranger.
  • Have your wedding in a public place. During the daylight hours. Have a weapons scanner at the entrance.
  • And most important, if you come across very large eggs, incubate them!
Posted in Essay



Here are just a few things I would like to do as of now: 

  • book a trip to Argentina
  • book a trip to New Orleans
  • help my daughters in every way possible
  • help my daughters without bugging them
  • book a trip anywhere
  • lose ten pounds
  • mow the lawn
  • fix a good dinner – for a nice change of pace
  • finish my book
  • eat a good dinner elsewhere
  • get the laundry done
  • volunteer
  • volunteer
  • volunteer, yeah three times – once for each organization
  • make a mean salad with crabmeat, greens, gruyere, and honey balsamic  vinaigrette
  • oh, and volunteer
  • makeover my bedroom
  • be there for my husband
  • be there for my friends
  • know when to be there for my friends
  • know when to be there for my husband – I know when that is – after 40 years we both can make that perfectly clear
  • shred the pounds of stuff in my office that needs shredding
  • read “Anna Karenina” once and for all
  • go on another wine trip with my daughters
  • bake healthy cookies

And this is just the start!  A few years ago I retired – well, semi anyway.  I thought I would have some time to do things.  Hah!  Maybe it’s because I do things that I don’t have time…or something like that. 

I am overwhelmed.  Google’s definition of overwhelmed involves three interpretations of the word:

  • bury or drown beneath a huge mass
  • defeat completely
  • give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate

Being buried or drowned is not a good thing.  Nor is being defeated, completely defeated.

We are all guilty of it.  At least most of the people I know.  The first thing a person says when you see them again after a long period and you ask how they are has to do with being busy. “I am just so busy” or “Life is crazy right now.”  We never stop.  We always have lists, plans, agendas, to-do lists, goals, and schedules.  But after all that stuff, the rushing, the planning, the doing, where are we?  Have we gotten what we wanted?  Or even more of a question – did we know what it actually was that we wanted.  Or right now – do we know what it is that we want?

Oh sure, when I finally get to visit my daughter in Argentina after I make the plans to do so I will be very happy.  And when I finally finish my book I will feel a great sense of accomplishment.  But then, after Argentina will I sit back and enjoy the memories? Or will I rush to the next thing?  After my last sentence is complete in my story what then?  Will I let myself enjoy the achievement of finishing an actual book?  Or will I be hard on myself and criticize every little sentence I wrote?

Therefore, I choose the last definition of overwhelmed.  “Give too much of a thing to (someone), inundated.”  I interpret “someone” as being me.  I also withdraw the “too” from “Give much of a thing”. And in this instance I narrow “a thing” to the most important thing, life.  This makes the definition “Give much of life to me.” 

So, let’s make that the new definition of overwhelm, give much of life to me.  I want to stop feeling buried or drowned by all these things to do.  I choose to feel inundated, overwhelmed by much of life – given to me.

Posted in Essay

Cowboys and Quicksand


There used to be a childhood fear among my set when I was growing up.  The fear of quicksand.  For some reason, many of the television shows, especially Westerns, during that period included at least one scene where a villain or a hero was up to his (always his) waist in quicksand and sinking fast.  If the fast sinking character was lucky the star of the show (most of the time) would grab a thick tree limb, a rifle, or a rope and drag them out in time.  If the scared person wasn’t lucky the quicksand would swallow them whole, but slowly so that the viewer would see the top of the head as the sand overtook them and they sank to the depths of god knows what.

If,  we as neighbor kids that loved those old shows were lucky, right after one of those action packed, trigger happy episodes, it may have rained.  We then looked for the deepest mud we could find and one of us would be the fortunate or unfortunate depending upon how you looked at it, one to leap into the ‘quicksand’ or mud.  Of course one of the rest of us would be the hero of the day and lend a broomstick (always a broomstick, we couldn’t get our rifles dirty) and help the poor fella out of the situation.  But it would take a while as we acted out all sorts of crazy drama before the heroic scene.  Unless it was dinner time, then we’d hurry and get the crazy sucker out.

My husband and I watched a documentary last night on public television, “Rich Hill”.  The doc was about three boys living in a small town and their day-to-day lives.  Their living conditions were not good, their parents or guardians either brought down by hard times or health concerns, their isolation in their situations almost too much to witness.  But at times during the film a glimpse could be gathered of a smile, a laugh, kind gestures, and even love. 

It was a very sad yet poignant portrayal of a cataclysmic problem that doesn’t only exist in this small town.  This scene is played out over and over again in small and large towns throughout the states and of course, the world.  Caught up in a gathering multi layered thickness of quicksand children everywhere experience an endless cycle of poverty, loneliness, misunderstanding, and dismissal.  The only way to pull them out is to lend something to hold on to.  And not get stuck with them in the process.  Is society up to the task?  And if so, how long will it take?  Can we get them out before they, and consequently, we are consumed by the sand?

Posted in Essay

My Bucket List Fell Over


I had a bucket list.  It was full of great stuff.  Like eating ice cream while I swam the English Channel.  Making an igloo in my backyard, which can only be accomplished during one of two of the really frozen tundra days we have here in the Midwest.  Memorizing the constitution.  Now, before it is changed.  Then, there is my favorite, sky gliding while eating ice cream (ice cream is in there a lot), and at the same time taking a selfie for my Facebook post. 

That leads me to how my bucket list fell over.  I was just getting to number 23 on my list, jogging through the Grand Canyon while eating ice cream, when I had an overwhelming thought.  Well, actually, a one-word thought.  STOP!  And then, following that word came this:

Isn’t life just one huge bucket list?  Every day we have some sort of bucket we have to carry or take something from.  Like today, my bucket list consisted of talking to roofers, unloading the dishwasher, reading the paper and news reports online.  Charging my phone, going to a meeting – no two, and fixing chicken fajitas for dinner.  But it also included talking to my daughters about their days over the phone, listening to a friend’s predicament – just listening, chatting over dinner with my husband, drinking some very good wine and reading a chapter or two in a great book.  Also watching a hawk soar and dive in the sky right outside my back window.  So, yeah, my bucket list fell over.  I suppose at the end of every day my bucket list falls over.  And I’m pretty glad that it does.  Because the next day it’s empty and ready to be filled again.

Posted in Essay



Certain circumstances in life cause many to go back in time to a quote, a movie scene, or dialogue in a novel.  For me, right now, I remember something the advice columnist Ann Landers wrote many years ago.  She addressed the issue of class with this (pardon me) classic column:

 Class by Ann Landers:

 Class never runs scared. It is surefooted and confident that it can handle whatever comes  along.

 Class has a sense of humor.  It knows that a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the  machinery of human relations.

 Class never makes excuses. It takes it lumps and learns from past mistakes.

 Class knows good manners are nothing more than a series of petty sacrifices.

 Class bespeaks an aristocracy unrelated to ancestors or money.  A blueblood can be  totally without class while the son of a Welsh miner may ooze class from every pore.

 Class can “walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common  touch.” Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he/she is  comfortable with him/herself.

  I love this definition of class.  I also have my own version:

 As stated in the first description class is strength.  A person with class stands tall in the face of adversity.  They may be jello on the inside, but to all but their closest friends and family you would never know it.

Class builds up.  A person with class can see the better part of another person and relate from there.

Class admits mistakes. A person with class is not afraid to tell someone that she/he was wrong, no matter the cost. 

Class does not use its influence for selfish gain.  A person with class gives to their community, their friends and family.  I’m not talking about financially, but giving of themselves with genuine empathy and understanding.

I definitely don’t radiate class.  I know that.  I try as do most people I know. We try.  And it’s in the trying that you reach some sort of achievement.  The epitome of class eludes me.  The sincere relentless and resolute attempt is ongoing.

Posted in Essay

Books, Books, So Many!


Here is a list of five of my favorite books in the whole wide world.  They are not necessarily the top five (although World According to Garp is actually number one).  But being that I have only a little window of time I had to stick to five.  I will probably write a future blog on five more, then five more, including non-fiction, you know the drill.  Oh, and the reasons I like these books are included, at least some of the reasons:

  1. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte – Jane was a stalwart, level-headed woman.  She knew herself so well.  The story itself is a little convoluted but it also overflows with that kind of drama that makes “Real Housewives” look like Real Boring Housewives.  And all through the tragedies, not-so-good surprises, back-stabbing, and harsh reality of her life, Jane not only survives but becomes a very solid woman.  A woman that is determined to live out her life on her terms.  And in the end she greatly benefits by living that creed.
  2. “The World According to Garp” by John Irving – I first read an excerpt of this book in a magazine for women a long, long time ago. From that I had to read the rest of the story.  I fell in love with it.  But you have to love a book in which the first sentence reads, “Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.”  The rest of the book does not back away from that first sentence.  I felt sheer joy while reading and it never left.  Garp suffered tragedies and Irving was not light-handed in this many-layered saga.  But the varied contrasts and kaleidoscopic roller coaster ride that is this book made me love it and want to pick it up, time and again.
  3. “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell – I know there are a lot of parts of this book that paint way too rosy a picture of the south during the Civil War. Granted, the book and movie depicted a south and the topic of slavery with a wide brushstroke of illusory misrepresentation.  Margaret Mitchell and Hollywood created a fairy-tale like south for the most part.  But the image of war from the movie and the book in which Scarlett has to navigate seriously injured and dead soldiers in the streets of Atlanta speaks volumes about the tragedy of war.  Mitchell and David Selznick gave us a front row seat to the carnage that was the Civil War. The book starts with “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins ere.” Scarlett is charming, charismatic, and fascinating.  Scarlett, to me, is a real bitch. And I liked her.  That’s what makes this book so good.  You still root for her although she is a narcissistic, conniving, deceptive, and sometimes crazy woman.  She can also be truthful to the point of hurting herself and others; she can be guileless, witty, very smart, an astute business woman, and definitely creative (i.e. velvet curtain dress).   At last she figures everything out, her love for Rhett and her love for Tara.  That’s really what it is all about, our hearts and our homes.
  4. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed – I continuously heard great things about this book. But it just didn’t sound that good.  To me a woman hiking anywhere sounded boring.  But finally, curiosity got the best of me and I bought it.  This was a very good read.  At no time was I bored.  The author hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself in the 1990’s.  She faced heat, cold, snow, rain, wild animals, water shortage, hunger, and very sore and mangled feet.  That in itself is a story. But the portions of the book in which she goes into her own life situation and reasons for this journey completed this story for me.  Her willingness to go on her journey alone and fight both physical demons and psychological ones made the story.  Basically it’s a story for us all.  We may not hike the PCT but we all have those harsh and scary roads to navigate.  And like Cheryl we sometimes can’t even see the road but eventually we find it again.  Cheryl not only found it she triumphed over it.
  5. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy” by Stieg Larsson – with this last book I am cheating. I actually included three.  Because all three are good.  Lizbeth Salander is one of the best fiction characters I have come across.  She basically has Asperger’s but that does not define her.  And paired with Mikael Blomkvist they both become multi-dimensional characters that explode from the pages.  The plots aren’t bad either.  I usually am not into any type of mystery novels but these had me wanting a huge tattoo of a dragon and booking a trip to Sweden.  Read them.  You will not be sorry.

Okay, that’s it for now.  I’m currently reading Mrs. Dalloway as I just watched The Hours again.  There are so many books and well, pardon me, so few hours.  Also, I noticed fairly obvious pattern; all of these books are centered around very strong female characters.  Imagine that!  Thanks for stopping by!  Good-bye for now, gentle readers!

Posted in Essay

Flying Forward

Grandma Berry Plane

I’m on the slippery slope side of 60 years old.  Yeah, I can’t believe it either.  So, basically, I have been a part of this crazy beautiful planet for over half a century by a decade.  How did that happen?  No, wait…HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!???

There are way too many things on my proverbial bucket list that I still want to do.  So many things that I have not accomplished.  And projects sitting either in a closet, file, or staring me in the face in the corner of our dining room.  Places yet to go, movies to see, books to read, and even books to write!

I only hope that I have the time and wherewithal to continue with these and other quests.  I am quite looking forward to the future.  And I won’t look back. I will not regret.  Period.

In Googling the word ‘regret’ the very first line that comes up is a definition;  “To feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.”  Damn, that’s harsh. The very word regret is harsh.

I refuse to dwell on “missed opportunities.”  I refuse to feel sad.  I refuse to regret.

Oh, sure I have screwed up a lot of things in my life.  I have caused pain, and all kinds of hurt feelings I’m sure.  To friends, coworkers, acquaintances.  To my family, which is the hardest kind of regret to ignore. I have felt awful, terrible during those times.  It’s as if I was hit below the belt, bent over, and knocked unconscious to the ground. But hopefully at those times I am the type of person that is able to stand back up, dust myself off, and who knows, even learn something about myself that is ugly and unjust. And rip that ugliness out.  Gone.

And then, there are those embarrassing moments that can be regretted. Those awkward and almost funny times when I have said something really stupid or mean and didn’t even realize it until the words were out of my mouth.  We all have those times.  And yes, I regret them. But I don’t REGRET them in such a way that they keep popping up in my mind, haunting my thoughts, and causing me self-condemnation.  That I don’t need.  Gone.

The picture at the top of this post is of my Grandma Berry who I introduced in my very first blog entry for Donuts & Wine.  At the time of the picture I believe her name was Pet Hood instead of Pet Berry as she had not yet married my grandfather (which is another story in itself).  Pet was a very independent woman.  She raised three children basically on her own during the depression.  She was a character, curmudgeon, clown, and sage.  She was gold. 

In this picture Grandma is posed in front of a very old plane.  I believe the picture was taken sometime in the early 1920’s.  My grandma wasn’t a pilot.  I don’t even know if she ever flew in a plane. At the time of the picture planes were a novelty, a futuristic forward-thinking contraption. Grandma always looked forward. That’s why I love this picture.

Grandma had to look forward.  She had three reasons to do so.  But even years later, after her children were long-grown and gone she was still progressive.  She didn’t sit the world on fire but she gave her daughters, her grand-daughters, and her great-granddaughters those powerful character traits that made us want to always look forward.  She always said “there’s a reason your eyes are in the front and on your head.  Use your brain and always look forward, not behind.” 

Regrets?  Perhaps one of only a very few that I have would be that I didn’t get to know her better. I was about twenty years old myself when she died.  But what I do know is she’s there and in my mind she did get on that plane, eyes forward, brain on alert.  She flies along with her daughters and granddaughters.  And we are not looking back.

Posted in Essay

I Admit… I Am A “Throner”

Game of Thrones

I first met Ned Stark during a crisp fall evening.  He came to me through a television screen full of magic, darkness, and images of castles and forests illuminated by the new moon.  My first taste of Game of Thrones came with a preview of a new exciting series presented by HBO, my go-to world of TV viewing.  As I watched the preview I commented to my husband sitting nearby that I might bypass this one.  The great pay-to-view network that gave me Six Feet Under, Tremé, and True Blood among others may have to do without me for this series.  “I’m not that much into fantasy Dungeons and Dragons cataclysmic stories and fables.  I think I’ll sit this one out.  Or…maybe I’ll watch the first episode and see where it leads.”

I watched the first episode and really, to be honest, wasn’t greatly impressed.  But I liked Ned Stark.  Ned had a confident air and age-old wisdom about him that stuck with me.  He was able to navigate his way through all the calamities that befell men and women in that “other-world” time.  He loved and protected his family but still gave a sword to his youngest daughter.  He could find strength in both women and men.  Ned was beyond prejudices, beyond petty grievances.  He was solid.

So, I continued watching.  I watched the entire first season.  And then, during the last episode of the first season the unthinkable occurred.  Spoiler alert: (and from this point onward) They cut off Ned’s head.  My Ned!  How dare they!! And by “they” I meant the writer of Game of Thrones or Song of Ice and Fire to be literally correct.  I blamed George RR Martin.  And I couldn’t help but get angrier thinking “Who has a name with two letters in the middle anyway?”  Then I blamed the other writers, the ones responsible for the series as well as Mr. Martin.  Then I blamed my darling, HBO.

“I’m not going to watch another nano-second of this damn show,” I told my husband.  “If you want to continue watching it next season go ahead.  But I won’t be there!”

This is one of the ultimatums I have made in my life in which I had to concede to failure.  The second season had me by “Hello.  My name is John Snow.”  Now, John (as he is known in my familiar circles of Throne Game fans) was in the first season.  But he was a might overshadowed by many other things worth mentioning, like the little prince being pushed several 100 feet to the ground by a ruthless (later turned nice-guy) man.  Overshadowed by the king of “another-land ” kidnapping a lovely ex-princess and marrying her.  Oh, and then having the ex-princess, now Queen I suppose , losing said King and becoming sole heir to a kingdom (though small) of her own.

But John Snow comes into his own in the second season, and so it goes into Season 4.   And there I sat, watching Season 4.  Just as I did Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3.  I am now a die-hard Game of Thrones fan.  To this day I don’t like medieval fantasy.  But Game of Thrones isn’t fantasy…not to a real Gamer!



Posted in Essay

I Love a Rainy Night


Lots of songs have been written about rain.  “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”, “Here Comes That Rain Again”, even “Rain” by the Beatles.  Everyone loves sunny days but not a lot of people like rainy, cloudy, stormy days.  I do.  I love it when the wind kicks up, the clouds start becoming dark, and the sound of distant thunder begins terrorizing the skies.

 I’m not exactly sure why I like storms.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that although mankind keeps trying to reign in nature it just simply can’t be done.  She always wins.  You plan a picnic it can rain.  You go to a baseball game it can rain. You even just want to grill two hamburgers outside and eat them inside it can rain, hard.  Hard enough to keep you from wanting to stand outside getting soaked and possibly electrocuted.  Hamburgers are delicious but not that good. Not good enough to risk your life based on wanton hunger.

Nature doesn’t care.  Nature is ambiguous.  Kind of like that neighbor that won’t mow his lawn.  It’s really hard to stay angry at someone or something that simply just doesn’t care.  Its a waste of time.  

So go ahead nature.  Make it rain.  You may be uncaring about our important activities or circumstances.  That’s okay.  Because although YOU don’t get angry you can produce such wonderful incredible anger in your downpours, beautiful but deadly lightning strikes, and vicious high-pressure winds that we can only stand in awe and watch.  

This highly energetic show of your strength and power gives us pause.  And helps us realize we don’t stand a chance against you.  We only have a tiny opportunity of luck if we work with you.  For our future’s sake and for the opportunity to witness your grandeur its my hope we find a way to do just that.  If not I wouldn’t want to stand in your way.  I like to watch storms but I certainly don’t want any part in participating in your glory.