Kind of an odd week…

Hi! It’s me, Sarah. I’ve been practicing blogging for a while now.

Today, Mom said she needed my help.

She fell down about a week ago. There was a lot of noise. Some of it was crying. Things have been kind of odd since then.

Sitting down still seems to hurt a lot. She goes in the bedroom, in the middle of the day, and lays on her side so it doesn’t feel so bad.

She also does this new thing when we need water. She puts the water in a big cup, holds onto the freezer door and tips over on one foot to get the water in our bowl without spilling too much.

It seems to help a lot if we all sit while she does it!

Mom still loves us, though. And I think she needs us.

I decided to be the nurse. I’m not sure what other nurses do, but I lay in Dad’s bathtub and listen in case she needs me. (It’s also cool in there!)

She’s been doing the thing called reading a lot. Apparently it’s hard to type lying down.

We still do the usual things.

Everybody gets food. And love. Mom says she’s going to be fine but it seems we’re not roasting chickens right now. Something about the oven being too close to the floor. Phoebe and Luther and I are kind of sad about that. Roast chicken smells really good.

We also have people we can help. Mom says there are lots of ways to help.

She does helping on the phone.

One of our friends got her foot hurt.

Dad hunted around in the place called the basement until he found some crutches we could lend.

Mom stood in the driveway with a package of first aid supplies and gave hugs.

I’m not sure what first aid supplies are, but apparently they have something to do with the thing called healthcare. I think we have enough for right now and some people don’t have so much, which makes Mom sad.

Luther and I tried really hard not to knock the fan over while we watched out the window. It almost worked!

Mom says there are lots of things people could learn from Newfoundlands like us. We’re good at helping.

I think, some days, we even help Mom help.

I’m also pretty sure you don’t have to be a Newfoundland to help people wherever you are.

Maybe you just have to believe in love.

You can do that in the bathtub, too!

PS…Dad made the breakfast room better today. Mom gave advice. We stayed out of the way. Mostly.




MOTB – 2

Hoping you read Sunday’s post, Does anybody really know what time it is?  (Or click to read now!)

I was fired up!

And I started out with a big list of Make One Thing Better plans.

Some of them had to do with harassing politicians about health care.

Others, with the current list of making a small house work better projects.

You get the drift.

Then, Sunday evening, while I was talking to a rescue buddy about making food better for the beasties, I got my feet tangled up in a quilt (Not one of mine…they would never do such a thing!) and fell down.

Freddy, as the old Camp story goes, is fine. Me, too. Or, I will be.

Let’s just say, in this moment, that sitting is not an enjoyable activity.

And my MOTB list has needed some adapting.

I did manage to harass a few politicians. (Miracles of modern science!)

I’ve gotten a bit of important paperwork started.

I’ve caught up on a bit of sleep, thanks to some pain meds and the fact that I’m closest to comfortable in bed.

All the things that were on my list are still there. Along with getting this rather abbreviated blog post up. (My fancy eyeglasses make typing while lying down a real adventure!)

It seems to me that for most of us, at least part of the time, life is about doing the best we can in the moment where we find ourselves.

I found myself on my butt. And hobbling. With plane tickets for a Grammy adventure coming up!

So, for the moment, making me better has moved to the top of the list.

What’s going on in your world? What does it mean for your MOTB list? I’d love to hear. (Keep scrolling down to find space for comments…)

For now, I’m back to bed.

Much love, Sue



Does anybody really know what time it is?

This has been a major question at our house for a long time now.

When Dave was in 8th or 9th grade, he got obsessed with the idea that time didn’t really exist and was just something somebody made up to try to organize the world. And him.

While this was, in my mind, an inconvenient perception on his part, I must admit he was in pretty good company. Aristotle. Einstein. Stephen Hawking. Not to mention a whole lot of Zen sorts of folks who are still reminding us to stay “in the moment.”

One of the ways this played out at our house, back in the day, had to do with being late for school. Or, more specifically, for the school bus. I have to admit, part of me suspected he was just exercising his adolescent duty to drive me nuts.

This went on for years.

Finally, by the time he was a senior, I figured it out. No more nagging. No more yelling. Just $5.00, cash, payable up front for the Mom-taxi to school.

The first time he thought I was kidding. The second, he raced up the steps, cash in hand, asking if we could leave now. Learning had occurred!

Bill and I have other issues about time.

The light came on for me at a workshop in Neuro-linguistic programming.

It wasn’t just us! People do time differently.

Simply put, there are primarily In-time people and primarily Through-time people.

Bill is an In-time kind of guy.

I am Through-time. 

Here’s what this looks like on just about any weekend at our house:

Me: What time do you want to leave for lunch?

Bill: Well, I need to check on the world and work a while and bike.

Me: I hear you. What time do you want to leave?

Bill: Let’s aim for 12:30.

Me: Your time zone or mine?

Almost always, I’m ready to go at 12:30. (The dogs are a bit of a wild card.)

Bill is almost always in the shower by 12:30. And he usually doesn’t have more than three or four more things to squeeze in before we go out the door.

He really doesn’t think of things in terms of clock time. I do. Hunger is often a factor.

There’s no good/bad or right/wrong here. Just two very different perceptions of moving through the universe.

After 27 years of marriage, I’ve almost stopped thinking he’ll change. Instead, I’m changing me.

I try to be calmly clear ahead of time about occasions when I really need him to live in my time zone. Airplanes. Readings by Anne Lamott. Appointments with the vet.

As he usually drives, charging him $5.00 is somewhat less effective than it was with Dave!

The rest of the time, I take deep breaths and remember that different makes life more interesting and there might just be some bigger questions in the world right now.

Does anybody really know what time it is?

About this time last year we learned that there’s a guy from Vermont who does know, come hell or high water.

It’s time to try and make the world a better place.

Bernie’s still doing just that. And he’s still inspiring yyuge numbers of us to do the same thing.

Donating to food pantries. Calling members of Congress. Growing organic vegetables. Running for office. Marching. Persisting. Voting with our wallets. Tutoring kids.

You can’t do it all yourself. Neither can I.

Here’s what we can do.


Make one thing better. Every day. One thing.

Write a letter. Pick up a phone. Donate a bunch of stuff you don’t need to your favorite charity. Help make dinner for a shelter. Rescue a dog. Support Planned Parenthood. Encourage somebody else. Write a poem.

Whatever moves your heart. MOTB!

And, lest we encourage our inner perfectionists, maybe five or six days out of seven would be a better goal.

Think of what a difference that could make!

It’s time.







What if?

Have you noticed how, every now and then, things that appear to have nothing to do with each other cross paths in your awareness and suddenly many things seem different?

It’s been a day like that in my world.

I started out pretty tired, which had more than a little to do with the early morning sounds of a pacing dog. In all likelihood, the same dog who, shall we delicately say, didn’t quite make it outside in time yesterday.

If you imagine Newfoundlands, you may suspect that this was not an experience I wanted to repeat. Hence, my rather frantic alertness far earlier than I had planned.

Blessedly, everyone got where they needed to be.

I, however, have spent a fair portion of my day contemplating where we are in terms of training and whether a couple of recent challenges might have to do with what I experience as a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the furry kids.

There are many variables in that equation.

It’s hot. Scorched toes on morning walks in the shade hot. Suck air conditioning out of the vent hot. Can’t go lie on the deck when you’re in the mood hot.

Then there are meds. Pain pills for one who still limps. Antihistamines for one who still sneezes and scratches.

And the family systems dynamic of going from one fur kid to three in about five months flat.

And the fact that I’m distracted, re-inventing the universe just now.

It’s a lot to sort out. I am the sorter.

Then, a message via the Facebook wizards. The one on the chalkboard above. Courtesy of my friend, Yasmin.

And a question. Or two.

What if by “person” we perhaps mean sentient beings? What if we mean sensitive, perceptive dogs, as well as partners and grandkids? Or goats?

What if I did less anxious stressing and more appreciating?

What if I went about 87 steps further and tried to appreciate my various sentient beings in ways they understood?

I suspect it will take some figuring. And some trial and error.

And, probably, a nap here and there.

It’s a pretty good bet though, that what Sarah perceives as appreciation is going to be different from what Bill perceives as appreciation. (Though there would probably be some common ground in a nice, medium rare ribeye!)

And what about Phoebe and Luther?

And how do I let my girls know how much I appreciate them even when they’re far away?

And what if, maybe just maybe, this is my job?

That, along with continuing to work on the whole “expecting” thing, which is a topic for another day. (Soon!)

I have a first step in mind.

I need to figure out one thing that each of my nearest and dearest sentient beings would experience as appreciation.

Phoebe’s easy. Belly rubs.

The rest of the gang may take a bit of experimenting.

That’s ok.

After that, I need to start consciously, intentionally doing the things on that list.

With enthusiasm. (Read that divine inspiration!)

I suspect more things will appear on the list. That’s ok, too. For today, it feels like quite a start!




Winner. Winner.

It’s been a while since we’ve done a recipe.

Part of that is because I’ve been busy recomposing my list of go-to ingredients over the last year or so. It’s been a bit of a challenge, as most new things are. Then I remember how much better I feel and I get up and do it again the next day.

Growing past a few personal tendencies toward food fundamentalism has been the biggest challenge for me. I’ve discovered, deep inside, how to join together the new things I’ve learned and the individual quirks I bring to the journey, all in relationship with a gluten-free, diabetic husband who’s fond of 1000 Island salad dressing in a jar!

Learning where it works to wander occasionally toward the fringes, and where it really doesn’t, in light of the future I long for.

We made a bit of a trip in the direction of  the fringes on the 4th of July.

I wanted fried chicken. It’s probably a genetic thing. (At least a recent one!) I did not want belly aches and swollen ankles. I did not want carb cravings or chemicals or trans fats.

Homemade was clearly in order.

The best wings I could buy. A few extra for the stock pot. Some research and a new theory for the dredging part of the plan. An extra set of hands in the kitchen.

It worked!!!

Sadly, I did not take a picture. When I suggested a do-over “for artistic purposes”, Bill immediately volunteered to go to the Farmers’ Market. So, here, just for you…

Grammy’s Best Wings Ever

Serves 2-3 adults for a main course.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

1-1 1/2 pounds chicken wings per person. Local, pastured, sustainably raised, wing tips removed and discarded if needed.

1 c. organic brown rice flour. (Or white, if you prefer.)

2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder.

2 tsp. good Celtic sea salt, plus extra for finishing.

1 tsp. freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns.

1 tsp. dried thyme.

1/2 – 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper, if desired.

1 – 2 tsp. lemon zest, if desired.

Good, imported olive oil or other oil of your choice for frying. (You really can fry in olive oil!)

About 1/2 hour to 45 min. before cooking, remove wings from fridge and bring to cool room temp.

Mix all dry ingredients, plus lemon zest, if desired, in a medium sized bowl, adjusting seasoning as desired.

Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in large skillet, preferably cast iron, over just less than highest heat, adjusting to avoid smoking.

Toss about a quarter of the wing pieces in flour mix to coat.

Place wings in sieve and tap off extra flour.

Using tongs, add wings to hot skillet. (Be careful. They’ll pop!)

Fry until nicely golden brown and turn to second side. Continue to fry until golden brown.

Remove to sheet tray lined with parchment paper and a rack, if desired.

Continue coating and frying wing pieces until all are finished. (I used 2 trays with racks for this amount.)

Roast wings in hot oven for 10 minutes.

Remove, checking a larger piece for doneness. Roast an extra 1-2 min. if needed.

Re-season with good sea salt.

Sprinkle with hot sauce if desired.


This is not the way my mom made fried chicken. Nor the way my grandmother did it. It is a way that meets all those same sentimental, emotional needs for me, and Bill loves it, too.

Juicy. Tasty. Oddly hospitable.

Serve with lots of veg!

No guilt. No belly aches. No hobbling around the morning after.

Or, as my Food Network buddies would say, recalling historic Las Vegas: Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Next, we try fish!



Eyes on the Prize!

Lately, I’ve been gobbling up Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing like they were peanut M&M’s. As it turns out, the books may well be a whole lot better for the world than the candy!

Here’s a favorite quote from the classic, Writing Down the Bones:

Afraid of being lost, she became lost.

If you’re like me, you may hear lots of tinkly little bells ringing inside just now. There are many ways to think about this.

One is that the human mind/consciousness does not “understand” negatives. Instead of hearing, to borrow from the quote, “Don’t get lost!” we hear only “get” and “lost”.

Or, to risk a bit of potty humor for an even clearer example, let me tell you about my new favorite TV commercial. A young dad is carrying his pre-school aged son rapidly toward the bathroom saying, “Don’t poop! Don’t poop! Don’t…Oh, no!”

They think they’re selling washing machines. We know the kid’s just hearing, “Poop! Poop!”

My Qigong friends would explain it a bit differently.

Where the attention goes, the energy flows.

Chopped is a good place to study this phenomenon. Contestant after contestant claiming, over and over again, with great passion, “I don’t want to lose!” when a more helpful perspective would be, “I want to win!”

If my old friend Steve Glenn were here, he’d encourage us to say to our anxious toddler, half way across your grandmother’s prized antique rug with a glass of milk, “Walk carefully. Keep your eyes where you want to be,” rather than the customary, “Don’t spill the milk!” unless, of course, we were longing to have that antique rug cleaned.

We’ve all done it. Where, we might wonder, are we doing it now? Where might we be lost?

I’ll bet you have some ideas!

Let’s use the resident herd of Newfoundlands for an example. They’re enthusiastic greeters, which is great, but I vastly prefer for them to keep all four feet on the floor while welcoming guests.

Every now and then, in a fit of delight, one of them might forget.

My job is to avoid the very tempting, “Don’t jump!” and rely instead on, “Sit!” which is a word they do know and it tells them, in a positive sense, what to do in the moment.

Far from just language games, “Sit!” has a much higher likelihood of ensuring the safety and comfort of the greet-ee.

(There is probably a truth-in-advertising law somewhere which obligates me to admit that some of us are still working on this, and few things are absolute!)

I have some thoughts about what to do with all this insight.

Instead of caving in to a fear of failure, consider adopting the notion that life is for learning.

Give up on perfect. As soon as possible. Just experiment, five or ten minutes at a time, with a different goal.

Celebrate progress. Possibly with your favorite music and a dance party!

Claim what you need. Or want. You’ll already be a step closer!

I know. This isn’t the way you learned most of this stuff. It’s not the way I learned it either. Until I started learning some new things.

The greatest part of all this is that you don’t have to have it all down pat before you can start helping others learn, too. Grandkids. Dogs. Partners. Possibly even politicians.

And the best way to teach is to do.

Eyes on the prize!

I can’t guarantee immediate gratification. (My magic wand isn’t rated for that!) And progress is often messy and indirect. But “…it beats,” as my old friend Puddleglum would say, in perhaps the best example of all, the old way, “all hollow.”

That’s a lot!

Thanks to Puddleglum for making a special appearance from deep in the magical land of Pinterest, just for us. (I really need to find out how this works!)


Do you believe?

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the Portland, Oregon airport, on the way home from my most recent excursion down the Rabbit Hole. The woman next to me in the gate lounge was in a chatty mood.

She wanted to know where I was going and where I had been and why.

I skimmed over the geographic details quickly, longing to return to my book. She, apparently having no book to read, asked a lot more questions involving the why-word.

I explained that I had been in Portland attending a workshop on Transformational Coaching.

Suddenly, it became time for what-questions to which I responded that I help people make the changes they long for in their lives.

I was burrowing into my jacket pocket for a business card when she burst out laughing which, frankly, caught me a bit off guard.

“I don’t believe in change!” she announced emphatically.

About 30 years worth of practice kicked in and I replied, “Oh?”

Just as she launched into what I’m sure would have been 87 examples of why she didn’t believe in change, they announced early boarding for my flight. Praying that she would not wind up my seatmate, I wished her safe travels and headed for home, shaking my head.

I grew up not necessarily “believing” in change but being very, very sure that it happens. We moved around a lot. Family legend holds that, when my folks explained to my 3-year-old self that we were moving from Cleveland to Pittsburg, I had two questions.

Do they have corn on the cob?

Do they have Romper Room?

Assured that they did, I was ready to go.

The mountains were a surprise!

Of course, my disbelieving new aquaintance in Portland is not the first person I’ve met who claims not to believe in change. Believe me. I’ve spent more than a little time in the land of, We’ve always done it that way! and the neighboring land of, We’ve never done it that way before!

And, frankly, while I totally get the familiar-is-safe dynamic, I just don’t get not believing in change. Where is the hope in that?

It’s even harder for me to understand not believing on this particular weekend. As my neighbors paint red, white, and blue stars in the street, ready for the 4th of July parade, and my favorite artisanal butcher is wearing his Big Green Egg out with ribs and pulled pork, I find myself wondering what this is all about, if not change.

Much of what I know about change and American history, I learned from my eighth grade English teacher. Together, we read the play 1776, new then on Broadway. (Should you want a review of the origins of the left and the right and what’s changed and what hasn’t, complete with music, it’s a fabulous place to start!)

The bottom line, of course, is the story of an admitedly imperfect batch of farmers and lawyers and silversmiths and wives and mothers and statesmen who came together around things that desperately needed to be changed, despite their fear, and made a new world. Grandmothers, too, I’m sure.

It seems to me, as I go about inventing a gluten-free recipe for fried chicken and stocking up on CBD treats for the dogs, who don’t enjoy fireworks, that we need lots more people who believe in change. Who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in an even bigger way than our founding mothers and fathers did.

Do you believe in change?

Surely now is the time.

Together, we have amazing power.