Just because I'm old....

Monday, May 21, 2018

Just because I'm old, doesn't mean I can't be a teensy bit flamboyant! I spent all my working life dressed in conservative clothes, especially suits. That said, it always took me to a fad was almost out to adopt it. I loved red, my mother always dressed me in blues, but it took my until my forties when I had my colors done that I need warm colors, not cool.

Being a septuagenerian, I've decided to let loose a bit. I actually started in the second half of my sixties and now I'm really breaking out. LOL!

My first "outside my comfort zone" was on our cruise in January 2017. My weight was down and I found a couple pairs of leggings, on Amazon from ViV Collection, that I really liked. Here is one of the pair as I get ready for dinner that night. I love the look and the bright colors.

They work at home as well, comfortable as all get out and not overly warm, thus the flip-flops.

Cooler weather set in and I found these heavier weight leggings at Wally World. They kept me deliciously warm and toast while still comfortable all winter long.

Spring finally arrived and it was time to get some capris. I fell in love with these pastel skulls I found at Wally World online. I just love them, even if I would never wear them outside the house. LOL!

Not as colorful, but still fun! These are ViV Collection, from Amazon, still my favorite company for leggings.

Has your clothing style changed as you've aged? Are you less formal? More comfortable? Brighter or drabber?

Oh, btw, I love colorful socks, too! The fun ones from Blue-Q are my favorites! When I get compliments on certain ones, I have to take a shoe off and show them the rest of the sock. LOL!

Ciao for now!

GUEST POST: Brandon Hale - Life, Death & Relationships

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I have written about my friend and fellow author, Brandon Hale, before, back when he started his battle with cancer. He battle is coming to the end and he recently made this post on Facebook. I asked him if I could share it on my blog. He agreed. I hope you get as much out it as I did. Love you, Brandon!

This one's going to be painfully long. Like, it might just end up being the longest post I've ever written. Consider yourselves warned. Read at your own risk of losing a sizeable chunk of life you'll never get back.

Okay, the warning's out of the way, so heeeere we go...

I have a prepared speech for almost anything. Seriously. Ask any friend who's known me for more than a year and they can confirm, I'm full of speeches. I love 'em, and give them on a very wide range of subjects. I have a speech where I use table legs as an analogy for the 3 to 4 pillars required to keep a relationship stable. I have a speech where I answer the question of why God would let bad things happen in the world. And I have a speech where I explain why the dinosaurs became extinct. So yeah, my speeches range from the emotional to the metaphysical to the scientific. I've driven my friends crazy with my speeches for the past 20 years (at least), but deep down, I think they love that about me. Really, they do. At least I hope they do, because if they don't then ya' have to wonder why they remain my friend despite my constant speeches.

To be clear, I do not preach with my speeches. I simply explain that this is how I see the universe, and they can take them as little pieces of wisdom and learn from them, or they can laugh at them as evidence of my own self-delusion that I'm some kind of philosopher. I don't care what they think as long as they're entertained.

But here's my problem... Lately, I've been trying to decide which speech will be my legacy. Which speech should I give you here on Facebook that is the speech that defines who I am, and how I came to be? I've really struggled with this, because it's a very important thing, a legacy. Besides children, which I don't have (to my knowledge), a legacy is the only thing that remains of us after we're gone. So which speech should be my legacy? Which speech defines both who I am and how I came to be? Like I said, I've struggled with this for a long time... until last week.

Last week, Laura mentioned that she was gathering some CDs because a friend was selling them for us. Then she mentioned that another friend had dropped us off some food to eat - for no reason other than to be nice. And that got me thinking about all the wonderful things folks have done for us since my diagnosis. It's really too much to count. The support I've gotten has been downright overwhelming (in a good way). And I thought about when I was in my coma, on my birthday, Laura had asked for good vibes and prayers on Facebook. It got shared and then shared again, and I got put on prayer list after prayer list. Before long, I literally had THOUSANDS of people praying and/or sending me good vibes that day. And, appropriately, that was the day I woke from my coma.

I thought about all of this kindness and goodness that overwhelmed me, and I asked myself why. Why would people go so far to help me in my time of need?

And that's when it hit me.

That's when I knew what speech would be my legacy. It's the speech that comes with very important advice... in particular, it's a speech I give to everybody, but especially young people, about the very best advice I could ever give them when it comes to surviving this ride we call life.

I won't give you the entire speech. For you, I'll just go straight to the heart of it. My speech is about a word. A single word. When people ask me how I managed to sell enough books to quit my job (right before I was diagnosed), and I could answer them with one word. When people ask my why I have so many close friends, I can answer with the same word. When people ask me why people always seem happy to help me, I can answer with the same single word. When people ask me, flat out, how I survived this world for 45 years... you guessed it. I can answer it with that same exact word.

And what is that one word?


Seriously. It's that simple. In fact, I recommend you take a piece of paper, write the word "relationships" on it, then put it on your fridge or your computer monitor or anywhere you frequent, because it's a word you want to be reminded of often. Every day. Hell, multiple times a day. Relationships is the answer to every question about anything I've ever accomplished in this world, ever... and that's the truth.

Now, let's be clear in what I mean by "relationships." First, let me say what I do NOT mean. I do not mean anything one sided. I do not mean anything where the gives and the takes are uneven. You should always give as much as you receive in any relationship, or at the very least, you should be willing to give as much as you receive.

A relationship should involve mutual respect. In some way, you should be putting goodness into the world as much as you take goodness from it, and that should also apply to relationships. And that's true of business relationships and personal ones. If there's no mutual respect, it's not a relationship. It's not a healthy one, anyway.

Everything good that has ever happened to me can be traced back to a relationship I've formed with someone (or multiple people). Laura married me because we developed a relationship of mutual love and respect. My friend Eddie officiated the wedding, happily, even though it was blazing hot that day and the wedding was outside. He did it because we had a relationship of mutual love and respect. Eddie knew that if he ever needed me, I'd do whatever I could to be there for him.

For twenty years, I tried to build as many respectful relationships as I could. My talent is the emotional stuff. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and that's just one of my few strengths. I'm not a very good carpenter, but if your heart is broken, I'm the guy to talk to. I won't make the pain go away, because nobody can do that, but I will make you feel just a little bit better. I might help you to realize that, as painful as life is, it's still worth living. I think my friends would back me up on that. Helping people get through emotional problems, or even just helping them take important emotional steps, is just something I'm good at. Again, I'm not being arrogant. For every thing I'm good at, I could easily name twenty things I'm bad at. And that just happens to be one of the few things I'm good at.

So for twenty years, I worked on that side of myself, so I could be better friend to all my friends. Sometimes, I just acted like an idiot to make people laugh. Other times, I've sat in a parked car and just talked to a friend until dawn, because that's what they needed at the time. And I've always tried my very best to be there when a friend needed me. Sometimes, I failed. I'm not perfect. But I never stopped TRYING to give in my relationships more than I took.

And then I got cancer.

I thought that meant I was out of the relationship business. I thought I'd be too busy fighting this terrible disease to focus on any of the many relationships I'd developed over the years... until something absolutely remarkable happened.

I was barely able to walk back then, because I was so weak, but my brother - who'd driven in from Texas just to see me - helped me walked into a building where some kind of little benefit was being held... except when I got inside, I realized it wasn't a "little" benefit. The place was PACKED, complete with Folk Soul Revival playing on the stage. "Oh," I thought. "The place is packed because of Folk Soul." But after my brother helped me to my seat, I quickly discovered that I wasn't completely correct in my thought. A massive line formed in front of my table. People literally waited in line, for quite a while, just to have 2 minutes with me. They came and lined up just to talk for a minute, and to give me a hug, or take a picture with me.

I was simultaneously humbled and filled with happiness. It truly was overwhelming. A TON of people were there... and a large chunk of those people were there for ME.

After that, the support just poured in. My neighbor started mowing my yard for me, refusing to take a cent. He moved away and then another neighbor took over, also refusing any payment. I got card after card after card, from people all over the world. Literally, the world (I have friends in England who sent me stuff). Another friend gave us a huge collection of CDs, in near perfect condition, and he told me, "You should copy these, then sell them on ebay." He then suggested a mutual friend to contact who might be able to sell them for me, and that friend happily agreed to do it, which helped us enormously (this cancer has sucked our money away as fast as it has sucked my weight away).

Anyway, person after person came to us and offered to help in some way. And it wasn't just the generic "Let me know if you need anything." They were all absolutely sincere, and they volunteered to do very specific things for us. One friend is finishing the Day Soldiers series for me, by using my notes to write the final book. I trust him to do a great job. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the final book in the series, written by him, ends up being the best book in the series. I wouldn't mind. That would make me very proud, in fact, and extremely happy for him. Two other friends - whom I met through writing groups and have never met in person - have agreed to help my friend when the time comes to publish the book.

I seriously have a tidal wave of people offering to help me in various ways, and I can tell you, without a doubt, that ALL of this help... every bit of it... has come to me because of that one important word...


If I hadn't built honest, mutually beneficial relationships with these people... relationships where the respect genuinely goes both ways... if that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have this ocean of support from all my family and friends.

Of course, I still thank them for their help whenever I can.

So that's it. That's my takeaway. That's the legacy I want to leave the world. That's my ultimate advice.

If you want to succeed in life, both personally and professionally, build strong, respectful relationships.

I really is that simple.

Be there for people. Even if it feels one-sided right now, keep doing it, because you never know if the day will come that you get a terrible diagnosis. I of course hope that never, ever happens, but if it does, take it from me, you'll need those strong relationships. And if it (hopefully) never happens, you'll still have built those relationships. You can be the person who always "knows somebody." You can be the person who always answers every problem with, "I know someone who might be able to help with this." And the way to become that annoying but much needed person is by building as many strong, respectful, mutually beneficial relationships as you can.

I said it earlier but I'll say it again... pretty much every good thing that has ever happened to me, professionally and personally, is because of relationships I've built throughout the years. Everything. My work relationships were usually just about work, but I applied the same standard. I gave to them as much as I got. Usually more.

Build strong, mutually respectful, mutually beneficial relationships. As many as you can. Be there for people. I promise you, the payoff for that will come. It might be a while, but it will come. If you only listen to one thing I've ever said, please let it be that. Build strong relationships... and avoid the toxic ones like they're the plague. Because, emotionally, they are a plague.

You get back what you put into the world, and the same is true of people. You get back what you put into them. That's how karma works. It's not some mystical force. If you're good to people, they'll want to be good to you. And if you're a shit to people, when you have hard times, nobody will give a shit about what's happening to you. Karma is about cause and effect, not magic.

So never forget that very important word, and you'll do well.


They matter. Trust me on this, they matter more than you know. If the past four years have taught me anything, they've taught me that.

I love you all, dearly and forever. Now get out there and start building good relationships. You won't regret it.


Ciao for now!

It's finally spring!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I missed getting a photo of the azaleas, we have one small bush in the back yard, but I did grab some others. Our rose bushes had nothing but buds on them Friday, amazing! (Remember, click any photo to see a larger image.)

And remember where the #2Doods loved to play and rest last fall? Yup, still a favorite spot. No flowers there this year!

Ciao for now!

Just Two Silly Doods

Monday, May 14, 2018

A little yard fun...let's race

A little deck fun...Murphy as alpha dog

A little deck fun...Cooper as alpha dog

Inside - we found a moth

Not going to let Murphy touch it...

Even dogs can play cat and mouse...

Loving our new tug toy SO MUCH, I'm sleeping with it!

Ciao for now!

"What's Going On" - Thank you, Marvin Gaye

Friday, May 11, 2018

If you think we've been busy lately, you're right. Me with writing and Stu with a new-to-him motorcycle trailer. He is prepping for his group ride with the Run for the Wall group, leaving from Cookeville on the 22nd, headed to DC and then spending several weeks in Maryland with family. His old partner, who now lives in California, is riding the whole route.

Oh, the trailer. Last year we sold BRAT2, believing we had no need for it since we didn't foresee any long motorcycle trips in our future. Fast forward to now and even though I won't be doing any long trips, Stu still has the itch.

Here is BRAT (Big Red's Attack Trailer):

Here is BRAT2 (ditto #2):

Here is BCAT (Black Cherry's Attack Trailer), as is-where is (when he picked it up):

BCAT now has new tires, new rims, new coupler, repainted frame, new locks, new lights, all new wiring, and spray paint job (for now). He also installed a new trailer hitch on the Tri-Glide (Black Cherry).

Here is Stu working on the final touches:

So I will be a motorcycle widow till the middle of June. At least I have the #2Doods to keep me company (and bark away any intruders - if the sound of our security alarm doesn't do it). LOL!

If you haven't visited my author blog in a while, maybe it's time to check it out. I'm writing a lot of flash fiction (ultra short stories) as well as sharing a few personal tidbits from time to time.

Ciao for now!

Meet my friends, Gadget & BB

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We are still working on our diets, Stu is losing faster than I am, but that is to be expected. He is busy working on getting his new-to-him motorcycle trailer ready for his upcoming ride (future post). Me? I'm trying to get back into the habit of doing yoga. Eventually I will add in the elliptical and some Body Groove work.

But today is day two of yoga and afterward, I found the need for two old friends, Gadget & BB (bed buddy). I haven't used either in close to a year but osteoarthritis is taking it's toll. So let me tell you about my friends...

BB aka Bed Buddy has been in my life for probably twenty years. I actually have three or four of them. One in the house, one in the RV, one with travel stuff and one - who knows where? LOL!
The Carex Bed Buddy Hot/Cold Wrap provides both hot and cold therapy for relieving aches and pains in muscles and joints such as shoulders, necks, backs, and knees. It uses doctor recommended moist heat as a natural alternative or complement to OTC drugs.
[source: Amazon]
My original is long gone as well as the extra "sock" covering that was sold in that era (thinking late 1980s-1990s). The newer ones have a seam down the middle and are packed more tightly, preventing shifting of the contents. Over the years it has served not only my back but my neck, knees, ankles and hands. Stu now uses it as much as I do, especially for his hands.

Gadget was an impulse buy about nine years ago during a visit to Bed, Bath & Beyond. It is a Shiatsu massager with a heat setting as well. I couldn't find exactly what I have but this one is similar, missing the nice fleece cover mine has.

I don't remember why I named it Gadget, but that's what I call it. And yes, he is my friend, too.

So this is where I am working on the laptop today....all set up with my friends!

Ciao for now!

Reflections on the A to Z of Goldendoodles

Monday, May 7, 2018

Well, April came and April went. Now it's time for some reflections on the April A to Z Blog Challenge. This is not my first year. In fact, it was my fourth year. But it was my first year where I did two blogs, this one for the Goldendoodles and flash fiction on my author blog.

This was also the first year the staff at A to Z tried using Google docs to master the beast of link signups. The first two years, they used LinkyList. Last year they tried another method that was so bad, I can't even remember how it worked. LOL!

So here is my take on the good, the bad and the ugly for 2018, both for my posts and the challenge overall. [NOTE: This post will be repeated on my author blog.]

  • I prefer themes and easily set them for both my blogs and then participated in the theme reveal.
  • I pre-wrote all 26 blog posts for this blog. I kept it simple, a little text and a several fun photos.
  • I pre-wrote 65-75% of my blog posts for my writing blog.
  • The Theme Reveal list helped me choose blogs to follow.
  • Being able to add my blog links to the Daily List in advance was a HUGE advantage. I suspect I would have missed many days of posting as I often did last year.
  • I managed to reply to EVERY comment left on both blogs. Phew!
  • I visited the blogs of all my commenters, often adding them to my blog reader to follow.
  • I commented on 60% of the blog posts I read.
  • I checked out the blogs of commenters and found some new ones that way (not all were A-Z).
  • I found way less folks who posted they were going to participate but didn't! Yay!!
  • I got sick in the middle of April. A nasty cold that hung on for weeks. I barely got the last three posts written in time. Phew!
  • There were a couple of folks that didn't make it easy to find their blogs (from the comment profile). Hoping they will realize that and fix it. It's the one way folks find their way to the blogs if they don't have a direct link.
  • Still not a fan of Google+ but I did join a group and post all my links there (and they post to my G+ profile automatically from Blogger).
  • I really can't think of anything other than the personal time sacrifice - and I'm retired. LOL!

Would I do anything differently? Not much that I can think of. I would stick with writing in advance

What were my goals and did I accomplish them? My first goal was, and always is, to increase readership of my blog(s). I definitely did that as compared to last year where I had very few comments and no gain in readership. I also found some new blogs to follow, non-writing related blogs (of which I already follow too many). In addition, I gained a couple of new friends on Facebook, folks who had interesting blogs and got me invested in their lives.

My second goal was to get my writing mojo back. I was ready to retire from it and writing flash fiction re-ignited the fire. But, I still plan on taking a couple months off to read. It's been too long!

What's next? Well, this blog (our personal blog) will continue to be about our daily life as well as the life of the #2Doods. I hope you will continue to stick around for my ramblings and our meanderings. My author blog? TBD [to be determined]

Ciao for now!

Sifting the Sunlight

Sunday, May 6, 2018

I love our front porch but as spring moves into summer, the afternoon sun gets too intense to enjoy it. Plus the sun coming in the front door and side window panels heats up the main living area inside, forcing the A/C to run more than we'd like.

We've put window film, blinds and curtains in both the front bedroom/office windows to minimize the heat there and we keep them closed all day long. That helps. But the front porch continued to be an issue. We talked about some bamboo drop-down blinds and that got me looking at Amazon to see what was available. Bambooreeds, vinyl, PVC woodgrain and other synthetics - surprisingly there were a lot of options for outdoor roll-up shades.

We finally made the decision and ordered two. They arrived on Saturday and Stu immediately went to work mounting them. We didn't see them working until today because it was cloudy yesterday. Today we got a better view of how they were going to work.

We picked the Coolaroo Outdoor Cordless Roller Shade for several reasons, one of which was our familiarity with the fabric. Coolaroo is the maker of the dog hammock we have for the #2Doods. it wears well, is washable (thus no issues with rain outside) and good reputation.

Installation day, overcast...

Today with the afternoon sun shining brightly...

I love them! No cords, an easy to use removable wand that we store inside when not in use. Weather resistant, filter the light well, color co-ordinates with our house, is hidden from view when not in use and a durable material. It's now after 5pm and the heat is usually blasting in the front...not today!!

Ciao for now!