Friday, April 17, 2020

As If

What day is it anyway? I don't know anymore. Yesterday, I totally missed my stepdaughter's birthday. She reminded me in a Marco Polo. She said the kids were going to make her breakfast but when her youngest was rousted out of bed, he wasn't quite awake and he broke open their very last egg into the garbage can. She can't find eggs. I can't find bleach. 💚 I have been doing okay but I lost it a tiny bit at the store the other night when I still can't find a container of bleach. The white vinegar shelves are completely empty. "OH MY GOD" ... I said kinda loud to no one. Then, I realized how silly I was being. I didn't go to the store for white vinegar, I needed apple cider vinegar to ward off the gnats that have appeared all of a sudden. And, there was plenty of that. I should be grateful. White vinegar ain't none of my bees wax. 💚  I haven't kept a journal of this pandemic quarantine. I was telling my friend, who is sheltering with us, that I learned at an early age that when bad things happen, I can magically dismiss them like they never happened. I am the queen of denial. It's my super power. This, right now, is just a made-for-TV bad dream. 💚 My good friend and fellow photo-walker died last week. I cried and cried, and then I got up and decided to kick grief to the curb for now. As if. 💚 So, I was looking at my phone photos and discovered the last social thing I did was March 8, 2020, when I traveled to Lake Havasu to visit my high school buddy (pictured here). After that, I've been meeting up with friends and family on Zoom and FaceTime. 💚 I'm canceling my trip to Denver in May to see my new grandbaby and trying not to future trip ... when will I get to see him next? He was a preemie who spent 152 days in the NICU. Can't risk infecting him. 💚 And, my hubs .. he is almost 70 and would likely not survive a bout with this virus. I need to think long and hard about what social distancing means to us. 💚 We'll get on the other side of this. I've been through much harder times, trust me on that. Until then, I'll live without bleach and white vinegar. Adjust.

love, susan

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Deep Thoughts and a Chili Recipe

Someday you’ll understand.

The Great Depression.

Boomers everywhere have heard their parents say, “they went through the depression”. Cottage cheese containers piled up under the sink. Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, cloth diapers rinsed and reused. The crust at the end of each loaf of bread got tucked away in the freezer to make stuffing later. Never waste a single thing. Bread ties piling up in the drawer. Denim patches on our jeans. Sometimes baking soda in place of tooth paste. Making ends meet. We’ll make do. Put another potato in the oven, company is coming. Freeze the cheese. Freeze the milk. All these things met with my sarcastic eye roll. Until this week.

Today I hung my laundry up to dry because it just felt like the thing to do today. I don’t have anywhere to be and I didn’t really want to hear the sound of the dryer. Some people don’t even have a dryer. A trip to the store this morning was a startling wake up call and a slight glimpse of what it would be like to want something that could not be had. There were many bare shelves and a somber mood among shoppers. My friend and I divided and conquered our shopping lists. We’re good for a couple of weeks now. Lots of ideas for making food ahead. I’m loving the new ideas for using what we have.

My friend made this beautiful chili today and it will serve us two meals. The colors are so appealing to me and it definitely fell into the comfort food category. We make a good team in the kitchen. Sometimes she cooks and I clean up, and vice versa. Just want to share this recipe with you. What comfort foods are you making right now? Have you been thinking about your people who lived through the depression? What kinds of things did you learn from your parents about the Great Depression that have stuck with you? Tell me.  Love, Susan 

Chicken Chili

Cooked chicken
1 can of Cream of Mushroom (or chicken)
2 cans white (Great Northern) beans
1/2 chopped onion
1 jar Salsa Verde
Canned green chilies
Or pickled jalapeno

Toppings (Optional)
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Squeeze of lime 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Be a Liker 101

The other day, my friend called me a “liker”. It was the nicest compliment I’ve received in a long time. It’s been on my mind ever since.

We were at the country music festival and had just eaten dinner we bought at the BBQ stand. She had the pulled pork sandwich with 3 awesome sides, and I had a garden burger. (Kudos to the vendor for recognizing the non meat eaters!) The bbq beans were sincerely the best I’ve ever had. As we headed back to our seats, there were Girl Scouts selling cookies. I offered to buy a box and asked my friend if she likes Thin Mints. She said no, so we went with the Samoas. I mean ... I just needed chocolate! She said, “oh, you’re a Liker”.  

Yep. I am a liker.

Let’s take cats, for example. I generally consider myself a dog person. I  like cats. I think I could even learn to love cats if I gave it a chance. When I arrived at my above-mentioned friend’s house, I was greeted by her 2 beautiful cats. I said, “hello, I’m a dog person but I like you!” They were great representatives of their species and accepted me into their world for 24 hours.

This scenario could be repeated over and over with various groups of people, religious sects, political parties, weather, food, etc. I usually can find something to like about everything and everybody.

The point of this post is ... well ... HERE IT IS ...

I like a lot of things but I’ll tell you what I don’t like.  I don’t like hate. I don’t like labels. I don’t like generalizing or stereotyping. I don’t like bullying. I don’t like name calling. I don’t like being patronized. I don’t like hard sells. I don’t like lemon flavored Girl Scout cookies.

My eyes are wide open these days. I’m amused (for lack of a better word) by the chaos and tension we are all suffering. Yes, we’re all suffering. If you are reading this and don’t believe you are affected by what is happening in the world, my hat is off to you. 

Please don’t misunderstand me ... I have strong opinions and feelings about the current state of affairs. But, who is responsible for how I feel? Definitely not you. Your beliefs and understanding of the world intrigue me. But hear me out. What a boring a world it would be if we didn’t have some kind of strife. Getting stuck in name calling and drawing lines in the sand are not moving us to where we want to be. 

Want to know how to be a liker? I try to look past all the labels we put on people. It’s as simple as that. Find something to like about (fill in the blank). If we can’t do that, we’re kind of screwed. 

Or be a hater. I’ll still find something to like about you. 

Love, susan

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Perks of Volunteering

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.      ~ Gandhi

Volunteering has been the best action I’ve taken (for myself) in the last couple of years. When I lived in Washington, I was the volunteer photographer for a small, successful dog rescue team for 2 years. I learned a lot about my craft, about dogs, and about people. I’m not sure another opportunity will come along quite like that one but I will be forever grateful I was asked to do it.

Since we moved to Arizona, I have been a volunteer driver for a local non-profit called Helping Hands. Our main service is driving participants to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and to the hair salon. The singleness of purpose makes it a well-oiled machine that is being used by elderly people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to those places. I enjoy being a driver and have learned a few things in my short time of volunteering with Helping Hands.

I have had to learn to ask each person I’m driving if they need my help getting in and out of my car, putting on the seatbelt, etc. In the past, I tended to be too helpful (yes, there is such a thing as being too helpful) but this gig has me taking a step back and allowing people to keep their dignity. One very nice elderly gentleman quipped that he had “been doing this a very long time” when I suggested he be careful stepping from the curb to get into my car. It was not lost on me and I won’t make that mistake again. 

There have been some really interesting people in my car since I started driving for the double Hs. I’ve driven a WWII veteran, truck driver, legal assistant, court clerk, bartender, and a couple of housewives. Upon sitting in my car, we’ve hit it off within the first mile of the transport. You see, these folks don’t drive anymore and one lady never drove, so when her husband died she was left without a way to get around. Think about that for a minute. If you didn’t drive any longer, and you don’t have family or friends nearby, how would you get out of the house and be with people? I quickly learned that these transports are so much more than a trip to the doctor. This is real human contact that most of us take for granted.

The art of conversation is being a good listener and following up with interesting questions. One really classy lady I drove has had several strokes and it took me a minute to realize that I was asking questions that made it hard for her to respond. So, I reeled it in a bit and asked more recent, open ended type of questions that didn’t require a search of her memory, and didn’t require long answers that might be frustrating to her. My favorite passenger so far was a Mexican woman who comes from a large family. We stopped to grab a burrito after her appointment and one of her nephews was at the restaurant and she introduced me. After that, she told that her brothers and sisters get together every Thursday for coffee at one of the brother’s homes. Every Thursday. Can you imagine? I would love that.

I am driving passengers to appointments for all kinds of things but the most eye opening has been to the dialysis clinic. I have never seen a place where people have a sadder look in their eyes than this clinic. I’m not sure what causes kidney failure besides too many doses of Tylenol but I can tell you every time I go to these doctor appointments with my passengers, I feel grateful (to the point of tears sometimes) that the only ailment I have at the moment is an arthritic knee. I have nothing to complain about.

One of my assignments right now is to take a woman to the grocery store every Friday at 9:00am. I love this one because I usually shop earlier in the week and often forget something. This assignment gets me to the store and I feel like it’s a 2-for-1 trip. I have been buying a 40 lb. bag of salt each Friday for my water softener. I am storing salt so I won’t have to pick it up in the hot summer months. Summers are brutal here and any time we don’t have to exert energy in the heat of the day it’s a win. I also don’t mind stopping for a bite to eat (we always go Dutch) when my passenger asks. The other perks are once a month meetings with the other drivers. Holiday potlucks with all the volunteers. And, just simply the joy knowing that I’ve helped someone get to where they needed to go and provided a friendly conversation to their day. Trust me, if I wasn’t getting something out of volunteering, I wouldn’t being doing it. I’m in it for the warm fuzzies! I am not that selfless after all.

I hope that if you read this far, you’ll think about volunteering in your community. Right now, I am doing an average of 2 rides a week and it takes about 3 hours each time. With winter visitors leaving next month, I think my rides will likely increase to 3 per week. It’s hard to find drivers that live here year round. I am at liberty to say no whenever I am asked to drive but I’ve only had to turn down one ride so far. We definitely need more drivers, especially in the summer.

Do you volunteer? If not, have you thought about volunteering? What keeps you from pursuing it? If you do volunteer, what is your favorite thing about your volunteer gig?  Tell me!

Love, susan

Friday, February 21, 2020

Jobbing: Pros and Cons

It’s me again.

After my last post, a good friend suggested I write about what I miss about jobbing (a term my daughter-in-law uses). Great idea. Along with that, what I don’t miss, in an attempt to move forward in my life.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way, shall we?

What I don’t miss about punching a time clock:
Office drama.
Dark morning drives.
Long periods of sitting.
Being tired all the time.
Not enough time for my dogs.
Having to learn new technology.
Always carefully planning vacation time.
Uncomfortable shoes, or wearing shoes at all.
The freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
The oft feeling that I’d rather be doing something else.
Never having enough time to do chores around the house.
Too tired to read. Too tired to cook a good meal. Too tired to be creative.

What I Miss About Work:
The joy of working with the public.
The automaticity of a schedule.
Being a member of a team.
Learning new things.
A sense of purpose.
Helping people.
Feeling useful.
Being a mentor.
Work friends.

I started writing this post on Monday, and here I am Thursday afternoon Friday morn cleaning up the draft. Busy week. Nothing out of the ordinary but I’ve had something on my calendar every single day. I am volunteering as a driver for a great local non-profit. I still have to shop for groceries. Cooking, cleaning, picking up dog poop. Laundry. Phone calls. Dentist appointment. Pay bills. Dinner with friends. All the things I squeezed in while working. And, the days still fly by.

Turns out I still can miss those things I loved about working but the truth is that I have enough on my plate right now. Emotionally, it is a matter of shifting gears, slowing my roll, and letting the chatter in my head dissipate. Last night at dinner, my cousin’s husband said he wakes up sometimes in a panic with all the new arrests he’s made and how he’s going to manage completing all the probable cause statements. He’s been a retired sheriff for 13 years! I think I’ll take that as a lesson. 

There are many things to look forward to. I have a new grand baby in another state who I will be seeing on frequent visits there. We’re planning a trip to Oregon this summer, hoping to stay just long enough not to wear out our welcome. There are books to read, posts to write, pictures to take, and people who need rides to the doctor office several times a week. Not to mention all the series on Netflix and Hulu that I’ve been wanting to see. I want to get back to making my own greeting cards, writing, and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at drawing. There are YouTubes that will show me how. 

This is not to say I won’t ever go back to work, but I need to put that idea on hold so I can be less tired, finish tasks, walk around my property when my legs get restless, go barefoot all day, choose to only drive in the daylight, take time to learn something new, and enjoy my life minus the time clock.

UP NEXT: my adventures in volunteering!

Love, susan

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Postcard from the Edge

Hey ho!

I haven’t written in a while so this post may be a weak attempt at something useful. You be the judge.

February has been a good month so far. I had a visitor from Washington for about 10 days. She is a fellow photographer and adventure seeker. We got a couple of photo walks in while she was here. I enjoyed her company and really upped my cooking game. I’ve been a bit of a slacker in that department, so I know the hubs feels like he is benefitting from my surge in culinary interest.

One of the great things about having my friend here is that she has been retired for about 5 years now. She knows how to kick back and take it a day at a time. I definitely am still in training for this new stage in my life. Imagine my delight when she said she takes a nap every day. Permission granted! We started our days with a (mostly) healthy breakfast, maybe a little field trip somewhere, nice lunch, nap, good dinner. One thing about being my house guest is that you have to come up with some ideas for meals or you’re gonna get beans and rice. Not even joking.

Lately, I’ve been doing an unofficial count of the number of times a close neighbor runs his beautiful blue Harley back and forth on our street. I think it might be a new bike to him. I can only imagine his wife saying something like, “oh, gosh, I’m out of butter, can you...” and before she finishes her sentence he is on his way to the store. Any stupid excuse to make those pipes vrooom vrooom. My dog, Remi, hears him fire it up and she’s to the fence to let him know she’d chase him if she could.

In other non-edgy news, I’ve discovered my dogs love love LOVE laying around outside but only if I am out here laying around, too. I love this and wish I could be paid for this service. Reminds me of scenes from a movie filmed in the hollers of West Virginia, or wherever hollers are ... of the old coon dogs laying around on the porch. I feel it’s my duty to make sure my babies are living their best lives, thus, I have a favorite chair I’ve been holding down a lot. It’s a little embarrassing when my cousin and her hubs come to visit next door and see me in the exact same spot every single time. They don’t judge.

It’s not easy but my days of feeling crazy are getting fewer and far between. I found a super great book at the library I’ve been reading and I’ve been making very good use of the iPad I was gifted at Christmas for watching movies and some Netflix series. Sometimes I even make the bed.

But most of all, I’m working really hard at taking a step back and recognizing that making 3 square meals a day, making sure the hubs takes his pills, doing a little bit of volunteer work, and keeping my dogs alive is of value. Honestly, I have been working since I was 14 years old and “jobbing” (as my daughter-in-law aptly puts it) is what my life has been. God knows I’ve seen enough memes on FB about how nobody wants their last day on earth to be a work day.

Just today, I was talking to a woman my age while watching the local parade near where we live. In nonchalant conversation she told me her husband died of a massive heart attack while at work 4 months ago. Yesterday being Valentine’s Day, she teared up as she said it was a hard day. Ugh. I’m pretty sure the Universe puts people in my path to cause me to stop my damn whining about how hard this retirement thing is. That poor man .... died at work. Son of a bitch. That’s just not right.

I’m going to hang on to that one for awhile. I’ll pet my dogs, finish that book, watch another movie and raise my coffee cup to that guy who died at work. And, I’ll stop saying that retirement is hard. Well, I will try.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Currently: Love That

One of the nicest things to happen this week was a visit to the vet with my border collie. This was our first appointment to establish care and get updated on  vaccines. I was pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail by the vet tech who assisted the doctor. First of all, the tech was super friendly with Abbie, and then went on to tell me he has an 11 year old border collie, which endeared him to me even more. This breed is special and to have a BC in your life means you are special! The vet tech stayed in the room with us when the doctor came and he was very efficient in perusing the 34 pages of medical history that I had emailed to them just an hour before we arrived. He was able to pick up on the highlights of my dog’s needs and didn’t miss a thing. LOVE THAT! The doctor was really great too but she paled in comparison to her great assistant, in my opinion. If only people doctors and assistants were as concerned. Seriously. 

The roofing crew came a week early to complete the roof project. Checking that off the list. The owner of the company came by late yesterday to take photos of the finished product and I gave him a big, fat check only made easy by his great smile and adorable dimples. Have I told you what a sucker I am for cute Mexican men? His is a family-owned business that he inherited from his father. One of the roofer crew is his cousin. When the crew broke for lunch, they had a portable bbq grill they used to heat up their lunches. LOVE THAT! I’m relieved to have it behind us now. My next project will be getting new blinds installed. I will put that on my list for next week. I can only hope the blind people are as sweet and hard working as the roofers. 

We made it to the library this week so I have two hardcover books to plow through over the next 3 weeks. This will compete for time I’ve been spending watching This Is Us on Hulu. I’ll use this paragraph to say I had a flare up of knee pain and spent most of Thursday just laying around so I could allow my knee to stop hurting. Not sure what is causing it but I am opting to start with what I know for sure causes inflammation for me ... too much sugar. Nonetheless, it was a great excuse to watch an entire season of This Is Us and got me into season 2. This goes along with my 2020 resolution to relax more. Not easy for me but I’m working hard to learn to relax.

The weather is definitely warming up here in southwest Arizona. We’re in the mid 70’s now. Last night we sat outside at our friends’ place to visit for an hour before dinner. I sat with my face to the sun and enjoyed the reason I wanted to move back here. 

For a week that started out with only 2 appointments, lots of other things happened and here we are ... Saturday already ... again. Today we’re going downtown to the Medjool Date Festival to walk around and just be outdoors for a while. Gonna take my camera and see if I can muster up some creativity. 

So, that’s about as “currently” as it gets. Hope you are enjoying where you are in life. I always love hearing from you in my comments or on FB. What’s happening in your world?

Love, Susan

Friday, January 17, 2020

Thrifting: Putting the Sunny in Sunny Side Up

While I was visiting my kids a couple weeks ago, I watched as they cooked with their stainless steel Cuisinart pans and flew away with a desire to have my own stainless steel pans. Since we moved to this house in Arizona, I have not been happy with the pans that were left behind for using on the glass top stove. First, I don’t love the stove but there is nothing wrong with it and I cannot justify changing it. When it does finally bite the dust, DUDE, I’M GOING WITH A GAS STOVE. It’s not that I cook all that much anymore but when I do, I prefer natural gas. Secondly, I have never trusted non-stick coated pans as far as what that teflon is doing to our brains. I'm not here to argue that point, you can Google it. Plus, you have to be so careful to use certain utensils so you don’t scratch them. Once they are scratched, I trust them even less. Who knows what is leaching from the material they use to make them. Full disclosure: I have been using them because they are here but I think about these things every time I put them out on the stove to cook. The non-stick pan will be going into the donation box today
I brought my cast iron skillets with me even though I can’t use them on the glass top. Someone recently told me they use their cast iron on glass top but I can’t stand the thought of scratching it up and having to live with that. I can, however, use cast iron in the oven. I often bake cornbread and oven-fried potatoes. Cast iron skillets are great for baking cakes and brownies. Pretty much anything you can bake in a pan can be baked in a skillet. I’ll never give them up, and who knows, I may end up with a gas stove someday

Yesterday, I found a beautiful American-made stainless steel frying pan with a glass lid at the thrift store I visit often. I paid $10.99 for it and felt like I was stealing! It is 3-ply, which means it is heavy and the heat is distributed evenly. The real test came this morning when I made pancakes and sunny-side up eggs for the hubs. I think I heard angels sing when I placed my spatula in to pick up the eggs. They didn’t stick a bit and he felt like he was getting an $8 breakfast (minus the bacon). This was not happening with the non-stick pans I have been using. After doing some research, I learned that the pan was priced fairly but the real tipping point for buying it was that it came with a glass lid. Nothing I’ve found online shows this particular brand sold with a glass lid, so I suppose it is possible the lid belonged to another brand. Don’t care. I wanna see those sunny side up eggs turning opaque so I know the exact moment to pull them up and get them married to a stack of cakes, ya know what I mean? Not everyone can cook perfect eggs but I'm working towards that end goal.
I get excited about the silliest things. How about you? 

love, susan

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


I intended to get this written yesterday but the day came and went in a flash. There was a movie and lunch with a friend, but before that I had to stop at the bank and then the tire store to put air in all 4 tires on my Mini Cooper. It had been sitting for about a month and I suspect the cold mornings sucked the air from each tire. Without further ado, here is what is happening Currently.

WEATHER!  The numbers this week are 71, 71, 73, 69, 68, 71 and 75! Next week they will be in the mid 70’s all week. It’s a little chilly in the mornings here but I’m not gonna whine too much. My friends I left behind in eastern Washington will not put up with my whining. 

FAVORITE MOMENTS I got to Facetime with my son and grandson on Saturday. The little guy is really developing a personality and I am thrilled to get to see his face “live”. I wish I could convey to my kids how quickly the time is going to go by ... but they’ll find out for themselves. When I was holding him a couple of weeks ago, I closed my eyes and tried to recall holding my own son 30+ years ago. There’s nothing quite like holding a baby.

MOVIES I’ve been watching a few things on Netflix. Grace and Frankie has a new season out tomorrow so you’ll know where to find me. 

  • The Irishman (loved it)
  • Up in the Air (watched this many times, still love it)
  • Dolemite is My Name (OMG Eddie Murphy! Lots of profanity.)
  • Burlesque (loved the costumes and music)
PODCASTS I’ve had Ronan Farrow’s “The Catch and Kill” podcast on my roll for a long time but had not listened to it until last week. It’s about the Harvey Weinstein story. I then listened to an interview that Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert) did with Ronan Farrow and I’m now a fan. Smart dude, that Ronan. I’ve been turning on podcasts first thing in the morning while the coffee is brewing. The hubs seems to be enjoying this brand of talk radio and I’m secretly hoping it will broaden his horizons from the normal political b.s. he listens to. I recently added another podcast called Bulletproof Radio that an old work friend suggested. It is a medical/health related podcast that is a bit meatier than I tend to listen to. BUT, I keep all these suggestions for later when I might be open to hearing them.

BOOKS I just finished listening to The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. I am reading/listening to Maybe You Should See a Therapist by Lori Gottlieb. Other books I’ve read since I last blogged are Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. All good books!

QUOTE From “Little Women” 

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

Well, that’s about it for Currently. I need to close and get myself moving today. Hope you have your best day ever! Love, susan

Sunday, January 12, 2020


We’re only a couple Sundays into the new year and I think I got this relaxing thing down. Today, I took two naps. I’m serious about this “taking it easy on Sundays” thing. Every time I had a slight thought that was about to guilt me into doing some chore I didn’t want to do, I reminded myself “Hey, it’s Sunday”.  

The weather has been colder than usual here and it kind of takes it out of me. I had ice on my window one morning last week. Imagine my surprise. I only got out to walk Remi once last week. As I write this, I am going to resolve to do better this coming week. I do have a pair of thin gloves I could dust off for morning walks. No excuses.

Tomorrow, I have a date with a friend to go see “Little Women” and then lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant. We go back to the oral surgeon on Wednesday for a recheck. And, I have plenty of things to do this week that will make time fly by.

In the meantime, I’m going to savor how it felt to do nothing today. I’m really late to the party when it comes to down time. I have to admit I relish the idea of getting some books read this year, taking time to brush my dogs, and maybe make a new recipe on Sundays. Or, not.

I’m going to try to get back to posting “Currently” on Mondays. I’ll write a little about the books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, and whatever else I’ve been doing.

Thanks for dropping in. Did you get a nap this weekend?

Love, susan


I can’t.