Wishing all my “peeps” Happy Easter and greetings of the season!

It really doesn’t matter to me if you are some version of Christian (or other mainstream religion), Pagan, Wiccan or profess no religion at all; thank you for reading my posts and know I wish that “goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life”.

Act with integrity, remember to breathe and try to be the kind of human your dog thinks you are.

We all know there is plenty of badness out there; so be safe, be strong, be a force for good.

And eat Peeps!

I prefer mine fresh, and only at Easter. How do you like yours? Fresh, aged or not at all?

Taken…….and Returned


Every mother’s worst nightmare happened; Rebecca was taken.

Without going into gory detail, her father and his girlfriend figured out where she was volunteering and showed up, taking her phone from her and getting her into their car. They headed to the city and she managed to talk them into giving her phone back and she sent a text to me. They brought her back, putting her out on the side of the frontage road where she finally had a meltdown. I picked her up, calmed her down and told her how proud I was of her.

She kept her wits about her and I did not have to be Liam Neeson to get her back. Her sibs were essential in helping this turn out well and it showed us that we have a pretty good support system in place for her.

But “pretty good” leaves room for improvement. Her phone is her lifeline; in addition to being able to dial 911, all her contacts are in there and with the convenience of speed dial I am not sure what she has memorized. Do any of us memorize phone numbers any more? If we were rattled could we remember them?

The dust settled and appropriate legal aid was secured but these thoughts haunted me  for a few days. What if she hadn’t been able to talk them into giving her back her phone? “What if” questions are pointless unless they lead to some sort of solution and that is what I threw out to the Universe asking for help….this episode showed me a weakness in the plan to keep her safe…..what else needed to be done? We had guardianship established, phone programmed correctly, when needed her sibs and I could swing into action; so what was I missing?

The next morning I woke up knowing. I have found that if I have a question or problem and offer it up for help, clarity and answers quite often bubble up through my consciousness in the still, uncluttered moments between sleeping and waking.

The answer was her Road ID!  I was introduced to Road ID in the early ’90s when I was training for my first marathon. I was working in the Emergency Department at the time and knew all too well the difficulty of caring for sick and injured people who were unable to communicate; since then I have purchased many for family and friends. I think I have had four so far.

When Rebecca needed a medical alert type of ID we turned to Road ID for that, too. So many styles and she loved the fun logos and sayings for the FIXX model! Her current fave is the wrist ID Elite, which she wears all the time.

There it was; even if she had not been able to use her phone, she would have access to her contact numbers on her Road ID! The knowing melted me into a puddle of relief; I had not realized how tightly wound I had been about this.

Now I am even more of a Road ID fan and yes, I think everyone should have one…..maybe two. Go to their website from the link at the bottom of my blog and I might even get a commission if you buy one, and thank you if that’s what you do! If you don’t go there from here that’s OK, too…just get one!

I laughingly say that if I am running in the hills and get eaten by a bear at least my Road ID will be left behind but now the peace of mind for me with Rebecca is what wins this race.

Spring is not for sissies

We have lost a lot of snow these bright and hopeful days that are now frequently above freezing and I bought flower seeds and garden edging in celebration of things to come. I am going to make some raised-bed gardens in a warm spot in my back yard and I was dreaming of this when I woke up:

My daughter-in-law Kate sent me this pic from Williams-Sonoma Plant-A-Gram and I am thinking of signing up for these tips and hints. I have not previously done a garden like this so can use all the help I can get.

I could hear birds singing as I shuffled out to the kitchen for coffee and when I opened the blinds this is what greeted me:

Oh, poo.

Welcome to spring in high-altitude country.

St. Brigid of Ireland

Tile made by

You can tell it’s coming if you know what to look for; in February there is a slight change in the quality of the sunlight and atmosphere. I am not sure if I see it or sense it but it is there like a little life-preserver Mother Nature throws out to let us know we really don’t live in Narnia. St Brigid’s Day, February 1, is considered the first day of spring in Ireland and that always makes me smile because here it is still snowboot and earmuff weather.

A few weeks after the light changes, the birds start returning; I heard a blackbird three weeks ago and last week saw a robin down in the city. The Sandhill cranes should come home later this month, and they usually arrive in a blizzard. Do you think they wonder about the timing? I have seen them sitting covered with snow, patiently keeping their eggs warm. Well, they look patient. Maybe they are really grumping about the lousy weather and wishing they were in Miami.

I have developed a strong affection for most birds (Starlings don’t count) and another item on the Questions For God After I Die list is “How do ducks swim in ice-cold water then get out and walk on the snow without their feet falling off?” If you are looking for a miracle, that’s one for sure.

But I digress.

The sure sign of spring is that during blizzards this time of year, the birds sing. Blackbirds and chickadees sit in the snow-covered branches and give it all they’ve got. The birds here have to be tough to survive a season that in Virginia is as close to heaven as one can get in this life.

Snow flying, wind blowing, they sing the winter away and I am reminded of Emily Dickinson’s words:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –


I am always ready for each new season and while I am looking forward to warmer weather, today I will make a fire in the fireplace, have a pot of tea, plan my garden.

And feed the birds.

Gone skiing

I am pleasantly surprised.

I thought for sure I would be typing with just a couple of fingers because I could barely raise my arms to the keyboard, and that was if I made it out of bed at all to hobble to the couch. However, I am only slightly stiff and feel pret-ty darn good!

The reason for all this apprehension was my first skate skiing lesson with my friend Nancy Anderson, aka Dear Valley blogger, at White Pine Touring.Before the 3K loop







It was a day made to be outside…blue sky, poofy white clouds, no wind and perfect snow. Our instructor Don was articulate, organized, patient and encouraging; a mild-mannered paleontologist during the week, on the weekends an avid skier with 25 years of skate-ski under his belt.



Don explained that this ski style evolved in the 1980’s from marathon classic cross-country ski races when after many miles the wax would wear off the bottoms of the skis. As there was little to no traction without wax, the skiers would leave one ski in the track, angle the other ski to set the edge and push off. This apparently lead to much controversy among classic-style racing purists and to solve the problem the skate-ski method became a separate sport, with slightly different equipment.


Don coached us through the basics and after our sixty minute lesson we were deemed ski-worthy and off we went to the 3K loop. The gently rolling golf course had a wide groomed trail with classic-style tracks on the outside edges and corduroy for the skate skis as the center “lane”. Skate skiing requires groomed snow; for breaking trail you need to get out the classics.

This loop was 3K of trying to remember to “glide”, admiring the form of other skiers, a few falls and many laughs. We had a respectable finish and the sweat running down my back was testimony to the total body workout of this sport. I was hooked.

Nancy and Claire were here!

Nancy and Claire were here!

We met seasoned skiers, newbies like us, ski-team members and a woman from DC who was here with her downhill-skiing hubby. This is a great sport to try if you are traveling with someone who downhills but you don’t, or you want a break from downhilling. White Pine can supply rental equipment and if you are a first-timer, a lesson is well worth it. If, like me, you now want your own equipment, you can always buy right off the shelf but you can get some fabulous deals at end of season sales and ski swaps. I personally love a sale.


Tired, happy and thirsty (next time we will pack water with us!) we returned to the car. The sky, the snow, the clean, cold air and time spent with a friend made this a day to remember. An ideal celebration.

After the 3K loop Thank you, Nancy Anderson, Don and White Pine Touring!

Gone skiing!

Gone skiing!

Daylight Savings Time de-mystified

A teacher I had in high school explained daylight savings time thusly:

“There is a man who has a blanket that is too short and when he gets into bed if he pulls it down to cover his feet, his shoulders and arms are uncovered. Similarly, if he pulls it up to his chin his feet hang out. To solve this problem he cuts a large swath off the bottom of the blanket and sews it on the top.”

Thank you, Mr. Blatt. You nailed it.

Morning moon

I stepped out into the dark with Gandalf this morning, took a breath and my nose slammed shut.

I expected cold but not like this and nasal malfunction is a pretty reliable indicator that it’s somewhere close to zero. Gandalf thought this was *perfect* weather and he bounced off to roll in the snow. Watching him reminded me that it was a new day (with new smells!) and right now we were safe and happy and life was good. I love that dog.

There was the barest hint of light on the eastern horizon and Orion had traveled west; my constant winter companion would soon be out of sight. It gets so cold here on clear winter nights; I imagine all the frigid air of space falling on us when our cloud-quilt has been pulled back.

We set out on our walk, Gandalf padding over the frozen earth and my boots crunching the exposed ground. My headlight made the grass sparkle with frost-stars; little sisters of the celestial bodies and they twinkled delightfully with the slightest movement of my head. I actually tried to take a photo of them to show you but of course the flash went off, obliterating the tiny lights because it was dark outside. Duh. Didn’t think that one through.

The slightest wisp of my breath became instant thick fog that was illuminated by my light and made it hard to see where I was going. Just for fun, for a few breaths I huffed and puffed, surrounding my head in a glowing mist. I think I might have looked something like Madam Leota on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland; a disembodied fog bank bobbing along in the pre-dawn darkness.                                           Seance_w_aHeadMedium

Then my lungs froze up so I had to stop.

The sky was less dark when we turned to go back home and the moon was spectacular; hanging there in all her cold glory. No warm harvest orb this dawn; she was frost princess white reflecting the snow on the mountains. After the previous photo debacle on this walk I tried again and finally got a pic that almost did the morning justice.

 As beautiful as it was, the cold was too intense and I didn’t like the feeling of my eyeballs trying to freeze so we packed it up and went in. I peeled off layers of clothes and thought of ninth grade English and Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice”:

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice….”

I checked the thermometer….yep….one below. The nose never lies.


Rebecca is pretty standard in her food tastes and since she doesn’t cook much, this can be  bonus. It can also be boring and can lead to unhealthy food choices….have you noticed how a whole lot of the stuff that falls into the “grabbing something to eat” category is junk? And expensive junk, too. Badness all around; from the pocketbook to the waistline. So, unless you are lucky enough to have a chef, ya gotta shop smart and actually cook to have a decent diet.

Oh, and make an investment in quality fridge/freezer containers with lids you can actually keep track of. When you are not cursing in the tupperware drawer you will thank me for this piece of advice.

Since puberty Rebecca has struggled with her weight. The struggle worsened when she moved to her own apartment and the combination of ready cash, some unfortunate social interactions and not really liking to cook have made for, shall we say, “issues”.

A good therapist and the appropriate antidepressant,  limited access to cash, hiring good staff (that is a whole ‘nother post) and vigilance on the part of her sibs and myself are providing a safe and healthy framework. If you are reading this and you have a special needs person in your life, this all didn’t happen over night and it is an ongoing process with many opportunities to beat oneself up along the way. Do not be discouraged; it is worth it….we are not going to live forever and the goal is to help our family members be as happy, safe and healthy as possible. Hey…isn’t that what we all want?

But I digress.

While Rebecca became more fit, she still suffered from low energy and napped frequently during the day in spite of sleeping well at night. I blamed her anti-seizure meds for this but now I am not so sure they were the culprit. Taking her off of them was not an option so I re-visited what she was (and was not) eating. I wondered….would incorporating Paleo principles into her eating pattern keep her body from diving into a sugar/grain-based coma?

As i was modifying my diet, it was easy to introduce Paleo to Rebecca when she came to my place. Once she picked out favorite meals, we shopped, cooked one or two days a week and filled her fridge and freezer. (This is where the good food storage containers come in). I explained the rationale for this change to her staff and we started a recipe binder at Rebecca’s apartment. She doesn’t drink alcohol so that part was easy and we made Paleo-friendly pancakes and waffles. Sarah perfected a chicken enchilada recipe and so far that is Rebecca’s favorite.

I have cookbooks ordered but for right now, this is where menus and ingredient lists live; the recipe holder made by William when he was a Cub Scout is still in service!


It’s been about a month since we first changed eating habits and these are the benefits I have seen thus far:

Rebecca rarely naps during the day and she also gets up earlier in the mornings.

Shopping with menus in mind has decreased her grocery bill.

The surprise in all of this was the disappearance of the random abdominal cramping that used to make her quite uncomfortable; she has not complained about that since she stopped consuming cereals and bread.

So far, being “Paleo-ish” has been fun. Rebecca seems to feel better and I know I do. We shall see where this leads us; I look forward to reporting on the progression of the Wholam Paleo Diet Clinical Trial as the data rolls in!