Category Archives: Family

Baseball and my lack of a moral compass

10610469_10152750714193373_7906439356951706763_nI loved baseball all my life–until the strike.

My father loved nearly all sports and started taking me to games when I was three or four.  My family spent cool autumn Saturdays in Lawrence, Kansas, attending University of Kansas games and drove from Kansas City to Lawrence once a week during basketball season to watch the Hawks.

In the summer, we went to Kansas City Blues games–minor league baseball–until the Athletics came.  I even interviewed the manager of the A’s for my high school newspaper.  When the A’s left for California, I became a Royals fan and, because we lived in Hays, Kansas, for five years, we went to several games every summer.  I was in the stands when George Brett was hitting .385.   During tornado warnings–which came weeklin in Western Kansas–we sat in the basement and listened to games.

George’s favorite story was when I was sitting next to two men who were keeping score and arguing about a play and if a player should get an RBI.  I leaned over and said, “The run scored on an error so it was an unearned run and no RBI.”

Then the strike hit in 1994 and  World Series was cancelled.  I was irate.  Furious.  I mean, really, really angry.   I vowed, “If you’re going to take away my World Series, I’m not going to another game.”   I kept that vow for  years.

For years, once a week George would look at the standings in the newspaper and say, “You don’t want me to tell you about the Royals.”   I didn’t ask.

Then, last year, the Royals started doing well and hooked me only to break my heart.  This year, I got interested after the All-Star break although I could only watch games with Texas teams.  Others were blacked out.

And I discovered something terrible about myself.   I had not stopped being a baseball fan due to a moral stand.   I no longer watched baseball because the Royals were a terrible team.  Yes, I have to confess this:  I am a fair-weather fan.  I also want to confess I’m having a lot of fun this post season!

Skipping Fridays for a month or two or six

Snoopy writingIn my efforts to get the taxes together–which I do not do well or happily but feel I’m not alone in that–and working on new writing projects, I’ve decided to write only one blog a week, my Tuesday blog.

I didn’t think I’d like blogging when I first started.  The publicist at my publishing company requested I do that and I enjoy it  During the time after George’s death when I didn’t feel a bit creative, writing, I found a short blog kept me writing.  Also, I’ve been amazed at some of the topics I came upon and I really love it when someone comments.

Please keep up with me on Tuesdays!

Who cares how the game ends?


As I watched the end of the NFL game last night–Houston won on a field goal as time ran out–I saw something that made me laugh.  As soon as the ball went through the goal posts, a San Diego fan   grabbed the hand of a child and ran up the stairs toward the exit.  I know exactly what the man was thinking.  “We have to get out ahead of the crowd.”   I know that because that’s what my father would have said.  Actually, my father and I wouldn’t have been there that late in the game.  We would have left sometime in the middle of the fourth quarter,  to beat the traffic.

Dad was a very busy doctor.  He practiced in the fifties and actually made housecalls.   He was not a patient man.  I’ve inherited that trait from him but he had a better reason to be impatient.   He had gazillions of patients and the idea of sitting in a traffic jam when he should be at the hospital or on the phone (no cells back then) bothered him greatly.

So, we never saw the end of any athletic event.  I remember once sitting in Roys and Rays, a Kansas City hamburger place, listening to the A’s coming from behind and winning in the bottom of the ninth. 

We did see the end of plays or musicals but as soon as the plot was all tied up and with only a few notes of the final song being reprised, we were on our feet, long gone by the time the curtain fell and the curtain calls began.   imagesCAI0E38T

But the important part is that he was there.  The family went together to football in Lawrence, KS.  He took me to Kansas City Blues baseball games before Kansas City had a major league team and to basketball at KU.   So what if we left early?  We were there, together.  Thanks, Dad! 








This hasn’t been a good year.  The hardest part was the death of my husband.  I still mourn that.   Then, when I was nomnated for a top honor for THE WELCOME COMMITTEE OF BUTTERNUT CREEK and planned to go to the conference in Atlanta to attend the conference and award ceremony, I had a detached retina which meant I couldn’t fly until three days after that ceremony.  A disappointment.

But, in the midst of these months, there were many, many blessings.  Let me count them for you.

1)  I got to spend forty-seven years with the finest, sexiest, most intelligent and delightful man in the world.  Not every second was marvelous but the whole experience changed me and made me a better, happier, more self-confident person.

2)  My friends have been so wonderful.  Church friends, writing friends, long-time friends have written me and supported me, come by when I was hysterical, held my hand, called and sent me flowers.  I have been so very blessed by all of them.

3)  George’s family and best friend dropped everything and came to Texas.  They took care of me, stayed with George, and I will always remember their love and concern and how much their presence meant to George.

4)  I was nominated for a RITA, something I thought would never, never happen.   My career has not be a long series of successes.  In twelve years, ten of my books have been published.  My friend Tracy Wolff writes that many in a week–every one of them great.   Exactly three weeks after George’s funeral, I received the call my book was nominated.   I didn’t even realize that was the day RITA calls were being made.  I didn’t answer the first call because I screen calls and didn’t recognize the number.   I only answered the second call to ask this person not to bother me again.   But the fact remains:  I was nominated for a RITA.  That overwhelmed me and continues to.

5)  I have enough to eat, a nice apartment, a car that runs, and two darling cats that keep my company.   Those facts put me in a small percentage of the world’s population.  Although this feels like a blessing, I’m haunted by those who go to bed hungry, who live in a box or hovel, who have no health care or or future.

6)   For a person my age, I’m fairly healthy.  I try to swim four or five times a week in a pool only steps from my apartment.   I know lots of specialists who watch over my health and keep me running.

7)  And my CARDS won the NCAA basketball championship!

And I know there are more but these are at the top of my list.  Many thanks to all of you who’ve been parts of those blessings.

I never had a dog

I never had a dog growing up.  The family dog was given away when I was born–that’s in a much earlier blog.  I don’t know if my brother ever forgave me for that.  I wasn’t nearly as cute as the Scotties that were so popular back then.    My younger sister had a short-lived turtle named Tillie and a shorter-lived parakeet she named Budgie.  Miracle of miracles, I did get a cat when I was in    eighth grade but I never had a dog.

But George had grown up with dogs.  When he was in seminary, his sister gave him a puli, which is a Hungarian sheep dog.  She raised them.  Smart creatures, smarter than their owner plus prehensile paws.  She could wrap my arm in her paw and drag it to exactly where she wanted me to scratch.  She was grey and furry and just a darling.  (But she looked nothing like the gorgeous picture of a beautifully groomed  puli at the beginning of this blog.)  My first dog–and I had no idea what one did with a dog.  This is a picture of twenty-five year old George with his dog. 

Andy–her real name was something fancy like Andromeda of Sunny Brook Farm but she was just Andy, the runt of the litter.  Because I’d not had a dog before, I was amazed at her loyalty.  She wanted to go wherever I went.  She wanted to sleep with us.  She loved me unconditionally.

We had a double bed.  Andy took up a great deal of it.   One stormy night, Andy work me up.  I thought she needed to go out so I put on my rain coat, snapped the leash on her and took her outside.  She looked at me with confusion on her fuzzy face but did her business.    An hour later, she woke me up again.   The same thing happened: I got up, took her out, she looked confused but was a good dog.  I got little sleep that night because she woke me up every hour.  Remember, I had no experience with dogs.  I just knew I was worn out.  George explained the next morning that she was probably afraid of the storm.  She didn’t want to go outside.  She wanted to be loved and protected–inside but, nonetheless, she went out into the storm because I wanted her to.

Andy had one friend, a dachshund.  the two of them would run around the parsonage full steam.  However,   the dachshund had little short legs, so Andy would lap him.  I still remember Andy’s  romping,  happier than any creature who’s ever lived.

Being a lovely, sweet creature, she forgave me all my sins.  She adored me.  She followed me everywhere.  Since then, we’ve had Bridgette, Ginger, Pepper, Daffy, and Dream, but Andy was the first.  Now I live in a apartment and miss everyone of them.  I’ll be remembering them and sharing their stories every now and then. 

Do you have a story about a pet you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear it. 

What I did for love

You have probably guessed this is not going to be a confession about my secret life because you know I don’t have a secret life.  No, as usual, this is about our pets.

We had the carpet taken up and replaced by wood a few months ago.  I had no idea how dull and dark and bare  the room would look without the lighter carpet.   So I bought a rug.  Before I could unroll it and put it down,  Scooter–the fuzzy boy cat–walked to the middle of where I’d planned to put the rug, started hacking, and threw up.   I took the rug back because, obviously Mr. Scooter made it very clear he doesn’t want one.  The first thing I did for love.  Of course, I didn’t want to have to scrub it either.

When we got our first dog many, many years ago, George and I had a double bed.   The dog took up one third, George took up half which left 1/6 of the bed for me.   I demanded a queen-sized bed.    That lasted until we got three cocker spaniels.  Small dogs but even three small dogs take up a lot of room on the bed.   We bought a king.   The second thing I did for love:  give up half of my side to whatever dog we had.  Fortunately, the cats don’t demand that much.

My sister-in-law called a few minutes ago and asked why my Tuesday blog wasn’t up.  I explained I’d forgotten  today was Tuesday (please see earlier blog on this subject) because yesterday was a holiday.   To calm her, I told her I had a title and an idea and promised  it would be up soon.   She said that what she does for love is take her dog for a walk when it’s raining or snowing.  I’m impressed by that.

How do you spoil your pets?  Please share.  It always makes me feel so much better to know I’m not alone.

Some day your prince will come–maybe

My friend Emily McKay has been telling me I’d enjoy The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Youtube.    Yesterday, I watched the first chapter.    Yes, it was charming as Emily stated–often.   If you remember Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you recall that Mrs. Bennet is constantly attempting to get her daughters married.   This is the theme of at least the first post.

It reminded me of my mother who actually wasn’t very pushy about her elderly (twenty-three years old) daughter being single with no prospects in sight.    Then, one afternoon, her concern and worry bubbled over.

First let me tell you that my mother loved to play the piano.  She had an upright in the living room and would sit down usually daily and play for an hour or more.  She preferred show tunes and songs popular in the fifties.   In a bookcase, she had a tall stack of sheet music. I loved to go through that music and sing the songs.

One afternoon during spring break from grad school, I picked up the Disney song  Someday My Prince Will Come and was having the best time belting it out when my mother knelt next to me, put her arm around me, and said, “There, there.  Someday he will come.”

I was stunned.   I didn’t answer because I truly couldn’t talk.  She stood and went into another room.   I put the music away and carried on.    She was right.  I did meet my prince.  I just hadn’t realized she’d been so concerned.

Do you have any stories about worried parents with single children over a marriageable age?  I’d love to hear them.

Me and Fiorello La Guardia

When George is sick, he likes me to read the funnies to him.  In Austin, we have two pages devoted to the funnies which is better, in terms of reading them to another person, than Houston which had FOUR pages.  I don’t know WHY he likes me to read them.  Sometimes it’s because he’s really sick and doesn’t have the strength to hold the paper.  Other times, the surgeon has told him to lie flat so the incision will heal.   However, I think the real reason is because it amuses him.  I’m all for cheering him up when he’s not well.

What makes him laugh–silently because he doesn’t dare to chortle if he wants me to continue–are the voices I use.  So he can tell who’s speaking without being able to see the pictures, I use a high voice for Blondie and a gravelly tone for Dagwood.   I tried a hip-hop speech pattern for one guy.  I don’t do it well.  I’m really a failure on accents.   In Get Fuzzy, before Satchel speaks, I say, “Woof”, so George knows a dog is commenting.  

 I don’t know why I’m telling you all this but George felt this was worth blogging about so, to make him feel better, here it is.  Also, I’m available to read to you–for a small charge.

Why do I mention Fiorello, the “little flower”, La Guardia, mayor of New York City from 1934-1945?   In 1945, the newspaper delivery drivers went on strike so no one could get the paper.   On the first Sunday of the strike, when the mayor was preparing to do a show, he decided it would be nice to read Dick Tracy to the kids.  Every Sunday from then on, he read the comics to children on the radio and made them happy.

Okay, I don’t read to a city full of children who missed their favorite cartoon characters.  No, I read to George which cheers him up.  That’s a pretty good reason.,

Anyone else have a favorite Fiorello La Guardia story you’d like to share?

Cat Grass: a love story

I’ve mentioned what wonderful presents George comes up with.  For Christmas, he gave  the cats a Chia cat grass planter.   Please note:  this was not catNIP.  Scooter has what we in the family tactfully call a “catnip problem.” 

Once the grass had grown to three inches, we put it on the end table and took pictures.   First Scooter, then Maggie–because she is never allowed to do anything before her brother has checked it out–investigated the grass and sampled it.  They truly love cat grass. 

However, Scooter is not a neat eater.  In the last picture, here’s what the end table looked like once he’d pulled his share of the cat grass out.

The ugliest Christmas present ever

Before Christmas, I asked for your suggestion for a special present for George.  I told you what a great guy he is and what wonderful presents he gets me but I always fall short.  You came up with wonderful ideas.

For that reason, I’m so ashamed to tell you what I gave him.  Oh, there was salami, which he loves, and a bunch of soup mixes and chocolate.  And there were also. . . the sheets.

Do you know how hard it is to find an interesting set of sheets for a queen-sized bed?   I’m really tired of stripes and flowers and dots or plain.  A few years ago, I found a set of NASCAR sheets which were fairly macho.  Not that either of us watch NASCAR or cheer for Jeff Gordan but they had a different pattern and were cheap.

Just before Christmas, I found a great set of unique sheets.  They were very cheap, one of my prime reasons to buy because I really hate to spend money.  They were colorful–okay, pink and raspberry usually isn’t considered at masculine color–and had foxes in the colorful squares.  Foxes are macho, right?   Well, I thought they were foxes until I got home and put on my glasses.  Instantly and with a deep feeling of remorse, I discovered the creatures were not foxes,  They were skulls.  What I’d thought were little fox ears was a bow.  I have no clue why these skulls were wearing bows.  Oh, yes, and there were bones crossed under the skulls.  Macabre describes the pattern best but they only cost $12.00.  Hey, worth that, right?  For a set of sheets.

In the picture on the right, you see the true beauty of the gift:  the squares in raspberry and pink make nice and fairly straight lines.  However, you can’t see the skulls that I’d mistaken for foxes.

So, here a picture of the pattern up really close. 

Okay, is this the ugliest Christmas present ever?  Do you have an uglier one to share?  What’s you opinion.  Does George deserve an apology from me?  Do the skulls look at all like foxes to you?  And why are they wearing bows?  Does this make them girl skulls?