Gratitude


What’s it Mean?

This flag on South Padre Island, Texas kept me puzzling for some time. I came up with several ideas, none of which were correct. Thanks to the Historical Flags of Our Ancestors website for providing an explanation: “Thin Blue Line Flag…a testament to the valor of police officers across the country. The courage exhibited by officers in the line of duty is represented by the Thin Blue Line in the center of the flag. The solemn black background acts as a memorial to the lives lost while shielding citizens from danger.” I’m glad I asked.


Dolphins Boosting Wounded Warriors

Since 2009 the Dolphin Research Center in Florida has been partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project to ease severely wounded heroes into healthy civilian lives.  Project Odyssey, named for Homer’s saga of a hero’s journey home, helps brain injured and PTSD warriors work through challenges and improve their outlook.  The warriors participate with peers in a three day retreat which includes dolphin dock interactions and a dolphin swim.  The atmosphere and activities are designed to invite warriors to connect with their outer world in a stress-free, nurturing environment. In addition to core goals of bonding with others on similar journeys, connecting with nature, and learning new skills in a novel setting, the program supports the warriors […]


Bridging 4

I’m a bridge walker which is nothing like a street walker.  I just love bridges. I’ve walked the Brooklyn, Sydney Harbor, Royal Gorge, Multnomah Falls, London (in Lake Havasu) and pretty much every other bridge I could get my feet on. But until Steve and I walked the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge outside Taos, New Mexico, I’d never seen a bridge equipped with a phone offering on-the-spot suicide counseling. Ten of those hotlines were spaced along the Rio Grande Gorge’s span. Why is suicide such an issue there?  A Taos Pueblo tour guide told us that young American Indians are two to three times more […]


Quest Blessing

The Denver Aquarium seemed like a good place to find audiences interested in hearing my Stirring Sea Secrets presentations, and it is, but when I contacted the education manager there I found I’d stumbled on a motherlode. Colleen Shipley’s standards for volunteer enrichment programs are stringent. Every driblet of information in my hour-long talk had to be cited to respectable sources. My terminology needed updating too. Starfish and jellyfish are now sea stars and sea jellies because they aren’t fish–the very sort of nitpicking I needed to bolster my confidence and credibility. Colleen’s passion for education keeps her running hard, but […]


Heavenly Weather

In a valley of the Peruvian Andes, our guide, a descendant of the Incas demonstrated his people’s ceremony for making offerings to the sacred mountains. He arranged three coca leaves in a fan and held them to his lips while he faced each mountain in turn and spoke its name then placed the leaves on a boulder. The timing of our late-April visit was suggested by our agent, an attempt to sidle between the rainy and hot seasons. The weather did cooperate nicely for our trip, but who’s to say whether that was luck, professional timing, or because we’d paid […]


Brilliant Gift for Traveling Dad

We spent last June on the road. Steve hoped that his stingy watering program would keep our lawn from going jungle, but that plan was called on account of rain.  Our ever-loving (and seriously overworked) son sent a message telling us how bad our place looked, then followed up with, “I mowed it for you.  Have a good Father’s Day.” He couldn’t have come up with a better gift. Now, here we are gallivanting through June again.  We hear it’s been hot at home, so maybe Plan A will come through this time.  In any case, we hope our overworked son lets the lawn go and enjoys a day […]


Losing Faith 2

Our GPS leads us out of the darkness so unfailingly that when our friend Pat suggested the name Faith, we embraced it. Since then Steve began calling on Faith’s ways of finding reasonable rooms for the night whenever we grow weary. Our March road trip to New Orleans tested Faith on several evenings when pickings were slim, but between our Faith and Pat’s Siri, we found comfortable vacancies.  One evening Siri’s Trip Advisor ratings insisted on an inn a good way off our beaten path.  Without Faith the complicated cross-town zigzags would have been overwhelming, we didn’t despair. Over a late supper, we plotted our final leg, […]


Have You Seen My Mother?

      When Mom was two or three, she told her mother something that sounded like “yammer yada blaa boo” to my busy grandmother.  Mom put on her mother’s high heels, packed up the cat and a little rocking chair and set off to visit her grandfather who lived three-quarters of a mile or so up the road.  But Mom didn’t take the road, she dragged the chair and cat cross-country through ditches and fences, gulches and cactus. Her mother enjoyed the quiet for a while then realized what was missing and panicked.  Mom’s father had no trouble following the high-heeled […]


In Praise of Tuesday Afternoon Writers

One of my biggest pre-retirement worries was how to find a writers’ group to keep me growing. Good writers’ groups are a rare treasure, so when a woman I’d just met invited me to join her group, I answered by hugging her. Bless you Marsha! Our meetings keep me working when the going is tough, and feedback is important, but writers’ groups become so much more.  Shared writings are almost magical in their power to spirit us far deeper into each other’s experiences, gifts, and perspectives than conversation can. In kindling another’s courage to write what matters, I seem to open my mind extra […]


Cruise Makers

Our River Navigator cruise director and concierge do everything but sing us to sleep at night.  They give us maps on our way out the door to take tours, suggest things to see at every stop, and never stop working or smiling.  I really suspect that Veronika’s positive energy is some sort of superpower, so many details, so flawlessly executed, and all the while exuding FUN. Still, I’d have been in a bad way without Laszlo.  He showed up beside my dining chair a couple days into the cruise and said, “I’ve been shopping for you.”  He had gluten-free pasta, bread, cereal, and flour, so I could […]