My Baby’s Getting Married

We turned into a long drive with pasture on either side of us. A horse stood with her foul in the distance on one side of the road. A mother protecting her child, I thought to myself as the gravel spit out from under the back tires. Lush green grass and trees spread all around us.


We passed a stately old farmhouse before veering right to be met by a romping Golden Retriever. Jackson, my son’s dog. Charlie’s home is on a horse farm in the rolling foothills of the Virginia Mountains.


The front door was open giving it the feel of freedom. He walked through it then. I smiled. Thirty-one years ago he was born five pounds, six ounces. He stood there—six feet, three inches, about 195 pounds—and would be married in three days.

The breeze blew through the soft white curtains in the kitchen.


The table was set with a small potted rose in the center—simplicity—a flower that would continue to bloom for as long as it was cared for. Like a marriage.

Charlie was making dinner. He walked out the back door to cut some fresh herbs from the pots that sat on the deck. Nothing artificial. Like him.

His artwork hung on the walls around us and this meal was being approached just like his art—a careful blend and balance of mediums, textures and colors. This was an artist’s home.


As he stood on releve′ to reach for some spices, my mind flashed back to all the dance classes he had waited for me to finish.


All the stage wings he had hung out in with stage managers. So much hadn’t gone according to plan. I didn’t give my child the life I had hoped I would. Can a mother’s love make up for all her mistakes?

Jackson led me out the door as Todd and Charlie talked. This was a setting not unlike the places Charlie had lived as a little boy. His father loved the Blueridge Mountains and took me there not long after we were married. That’s where Charlie was born.


Jackson led me down the road, past the farmhouse that was semi abandoned now, and over to the horse and her foal. She let me feed her grass and pet her little one.


Jackson did a couple laps around the farmhouse before we worked our way back.

“Did you see the flowers, Mom?” Charlie asked as I walked up the steps of the deck. White and purple irises had suddenly popped up days earlier. I had painted irises when I was pregnant with him. He had sat in a stroller beside me at a street fair as his father sold hotdogs with my paintings on display around us. We had made our grocery money that day.

“Yes, they’re beautiful,” was all I could manage to say as his bride to be drove up. White irises for Lauren I thought.


The dusk light gave the setting a hue of lavender light. Lauren walked around the corner with a glass of wine and we clinked our glasses. “You have given me the best gift, loving my son,” I said hugging her. I gave her a kiss on the side of her head.


“I’m marrying my best friend,” she responded with her smile.

“I married mine too,” I said.

We joined Todd and Charlie in the back yard. Todd was throwing the basketball for Jackson.

“So when are you going to have a baby?!” Todd chortled.

“Ha!” Charlie and Lauren both laughed. “We think it will be great when the time is right.”

“When the time is right?” I asked. “That doesn’t usually happen.”

“You didn’t want to have a baby when you had me, did you Mom?”

“Oh, I couldn’t wait to have a baby!” (Your dad and I had been hired by Steamboat Springs Repertory in Colorado. We had spent years in NYC and the mountain air did something to me. Suddenly I found myself picking up magazines with pictures of babies on the cover. All I could think about was having a baby. Towards the end of the season I was stopping at Wendy’s for Frosties on my way to and from rehearsal. I thought my costumes were tight because of the ice cream…you are right though, we hadn’t planned you. Get my point? Oh beloved child of mine.)


My sketch of Charlie

We ate our salads on the deck as a light rain fell—the tomatoes tasting earthy and rich against the spicy Thai peanut dressing—then sat down at the table. Charlie presented plates of Mahi-Mahi—marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper—served with roasted asparagus and rice, slow simmered in a mushroom broth with herbs.

“Why can’t you make asparagus like this?” Todd asked. “I would eat it.”

My son is a chef.

The next day, Lauren drove to DC to pick up a friend. We took Charlie for a beard trim. We ate a late lunch—Charlie and I splitting guacamole and chips, crab cake bruschetta and a roasted veggie sandwich. Afterwards, we drove back to the farm and walked together to see more of the farm’s horses.


We were in the car ready to leave for the night. “I miss Charlie,” I said before Todd had even started the engine.

“Well, go say good night again.”

My chest was tight, my throat thick, my eyes burned back tears as I jumped out of the car. “Charlie?” He met me at the walk.


“I love you, sweetie. I’m so proud of you.” I held him in my arms then, all six feet, three inches of him and kissed the side of his head. I couldn’t let go of him as I thought how he had received the gift of my prayers—a wife to love and be loved by.



Diary of an ADD Shopper

Marriage is an endless stream of compromises—for those of us into conscious coupling, as opposed to those of us who are married and unconscious. Does that make any sense?

Todd and I went shopping for tiles on Saturday afternoon.

You need to understand, my Uncle Gordy tiled our bathrooms over forty years ago. Each tile had been so carefully laid it was a big deal for me to consider having them replaced.

Todd was set on a bathroom upgrade.

We have two bathrooms side by side. It was originally one large bath that Dad converted to suit a family of six when he renovated the house in 1970. The boys and the girls we called them. Todd and I bought the house from my parents when they downsized to a condo in 2004. It’s been a project for Todd to keep up, but I think it’s worth it.

He wanted me to go tile shopping at Menard’s. I wasn’t too excited about that but when he proposed lunch at Colectivo beforehand, and a stop at Banana Republic afterwards, I was up for it.

The parking lot was packed with cars and people—Menard’s is a happening place on Saturdays. And friendly. We were greeted with smiles and welcomes as we entered the monster of a store. I noticed Chocolate Fudge Trail Mix on display and picked it up thinking it would make shopping more fun but remembered we had just had lunch and put it back.

We were headed towards the shower heads aisle when I stopped and admired an array of Swiffles. Don’t ask me why. I never dust. I decided I really wanted a Swiffle ceiling duster with an extended arm to use on the third floor which, as noted above, I have never dusted. Not in the ten years we have owned our house. “You’re an ADD shopper,” Todd said and pulled me along.

Once we picked out the shower head and were finally advancing towards the tile department, I happened upon a lovely display of really large packages of Bounty paper towels. I decided we needed one. “Look! A bounty of Bounty!” I said as I heaved one from the top. It filled our entire cart, leaving no room for the upcoming tiles, but that hadn’t dawned on me yet. Todd kept walking.

I had a white bathroom in mind—white tiles, white towels, white candles. Todd was set on a matte finished light tan which he said better matched the rest of the house.

“That’s too light,” he kept telling me as I pointed to the tiles I liked.

“Oh, look here!” I got excited. “I’ve always wanted a bathroom like this.” Black and white glossy squares.

“We’ll need to get a new house for those.”

“It can be my own little corner. Who’s going to care?”

“The next buyer maybe?” Todd is always practical.

He wanted the new tiles to match up with the ones he had put into the ‘boys’ bathroom last year. He had picked them out and hauled all five hundred pounds of boxes up the stairs himself. Once they were laid there was no turning back but neither one of us was sure about them. Too dark, we thought. Fortunately they lightened up after the grout was added.

A nice young salesman named Marcus helped us figure out quantity as we settled on a tile color. Todd quickly stuffed my Bounty into one of the shelves. I told Marcus I thought Menard’s must be a nice place to work as I retrieved it. He agreed, and shared that he was in his final semester of studying Architectural Technology at MATC. Todd was busy loading boxes into our cart as I stood there with the Bounty. Marcus said he’d get us a flat.

With the Swiffle and Bounty on top of the tiles, we made our way to checkout where I discovered a rack full of dark chocolate covered berries. I couldn’t decide between pomegranate or blueberry so I got both. I opened the blueberries while Todd started checking us out.

This is when he discovered we were two boxes short and left me there with a stern looking man in line behind. I introduced myself to Melba, our cashier, and started handing her our items, bar code up, to speed things along. When Todd hadn’t returned, I paid for two extra boxes of tiles. Melba circled the rebate number on our receipt and directed me to the customer service counter to fill out our 11% mail-in rebate.

It’s good to have a bag of chocolate along for distraction when you’re waiting around with a 6′ x 4′ flat and cart in tow at a crowded Menard’s.

Todd finally appeared, telling me they were out of our tiles. Then just as fast as he had reappeared he disappeared again. “Maybe they have some in the back,” I heard him call back to me.

We should have gone with the black and white squares.

I noticed Melba smiling at me as I tried to stay out of everyone’s way. I smiled back. Todd arrived with the two boxes when Melba was in the middle of a big order. I watched her make sure the cashier next to her knew we had already paid for them.

I was a little nostalgic about leaving Menard’s as I pulled the flat to the car. Goodbye Melba, I thought. Good luck with your new career Marcus.

As I write this story, the Swiffle lays in the hall resting on the floor waiting for someone to put it away.

I’m thinking about opening it up and clicking the extended arm into place after I straighten out my closet this morning. But the sun is out. I might go for a run first….

© All Rights Reserved

Valentine’s Day

Every year, my husband and I agree that we don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day because we don’t need a designated day to say our love is special. Some years we agree not to get each other a card. On others, we agree to get one. One year, Todd gave me an Elvis Presley heart-shaped tin with chocolate hearts inside from CVS. That was special.

If I’m really honest, the past couple years I’ve been leaning more towards making the day special. I’ll pick up something nice for dinner and just look forward to not doing anything special together because every day is special…..well, until it’s not…

This year, we had tickets to the Ballet and we were going to go out for dinner beforehand. That’s special. But then Todd got sick—he never gets sick—and he wasn’t up to it. I could have gone alone but it was Valentine’s Day—I thought we should be together. We could watch Sleepless in Seattle and drink some Champagne. But we’re not big Champagne drinkers and we’ve seen Sleepless in Seattle an embarrassing number of times. I always think I’ve had enough of it but every time it starts, I’m hooked. “Just Sam.” Annie says to Sam as you watch the electricity between them on the top of the Empire State Building in the final scene. That’s my favorite line.

Todd did tell me to go ahead and go to the Ballet, and I considered it, but then I slipped down the stairs this morning with my arms full of work stuff and a coffee cup in my hand. My heel got caught in my pants leg and I road the stairs like a pro. I didn’t even break the cup. I did sprain my ankle. So staying home tonight sounded good.

I picked up some baked fish, potato pancakes and Caesar salads—my version of a fish fry—and some chocolate ganache cake with a heart on top, on my way home from work.

Valentine's Day

I drove up our driveway and then, just before I got out of my car I got a text with a video of my grandnephew saying “Happy Balentines Dayeee! I yee-uv you!” While licking a heart shaped sucker.

I walked in the door and Todd said, “Oh, you probably got the Eddie video too.”

“Yeah! Isn’t it cute?”

“No…I don’t think it’s cute. Of course it’s cute!” He said in his Toddesque way.

I snap. “Why can’t you just be nice? I don’t need flowers. I don’t need jewelry. I don’t need chocolate. I just need you to say, ‘Yeah, really cute! Happy Valentines Day, baby. I love you!”

“You’re limping.”

“Of course I’m limping. I sprained my ankle!”

“Oooo…I can tell you’re hurting. You didn’t tell me. Are you okay/”

“No! I’m not okay. I slammed my butt on the steps, I banged my elbow, I bent my thumb, and my neck and back are killing me.”

“You’re hurt so that’s making you grouchy.”

“No, you’re making me grouchy! Why do you always have to be so dark?” I say as I’m suddenly the dark one and he starts putting groceries away.

Our dog Sam who has come into the kitchen to greet me, escapes upstairs. He hates it when he thinks we’re upset.

“I don’t think I’m always so dark.”

“I got us a special dinner! I got us chocolate cake! It’s VALENTINE’S Day!”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“I am not overreacting.” I put our special Valentine’s day dinner on the stove, grab my briefcase and head up the stairs that I had fallen down ten hours earlier.

Valentine’s Day….who came up with it? It sets you up for expectations even if you don’t want it to. Well….maybe it’s time to just give in and call it a special day. Whoever gets enough celebrating? So, why not? Bring on the chocolate and send me some flowers. Let’s take the day to celebrate our love!

Now all I have to do is go say I’m sorry for snapping. I hurt, so I’m grouchy.

Happy Valentine’s Day baby….365 days from now we’ll really do it right! Or…maybe not…

What a Wife!

I flew into Tucson for my Dad’s birthday on a Friday, two days before his celebration and just in time for a fish fry. I couldn’t wait to give him his gift—a Kinko’s copy of our blog stories assembled and spiral bound—but I did.

I hadn’t finished documenting his Fellowship which was my goal for his birthday so we spent most of Saturday working on it. We didn’t finish. He had to take time explaining the four zones of the allied occupation of Berlin and I kept confusing West Germany with West Berlin so he had to get the World Atlas out. We finally made it through Berlin but still had Denmark and Scandinavia left to cover.

Map of trip

Total territory covered on Dad’s fellowship

I woke up Sunday morning and waited to see the light go on under Dad’s bedroom door. His “No Birthday gifts!” rule didn’t apply to me because the 172 pages I was planning to give him—with or without the final fellowship segment—were as much a gift to me as they were to him. And it wasn’t wrapped.

He really liked it.

IMG_20140211_180156His birthday was great. We went to church with my sister Joan and her family, and that evening they gave him a big party. My brother-in-law Arthur grilled 26 steaks! We had two kinds of double-baked potatoes, salad, cheesecake and a custard pie. Dad had been asking for that pie for years and Joanie and I couldn’t find Mom’s recipe. I found a recipe called My Grandmother’s Custard Pie on a Google search, sent it to my sister and gave us both computer viruses. But the recipe was spot on and the pie was perfect—thanks to Joanie. I told her I would make it but got busy editing Dad’s story on Berlin. I started the pie and then she took over. Good thing for that. I had added 1/2 tablespoon of salt instead of 1/2 teaspoon.

Joan's family in Tucson

Joan’s family in Tucson

On Monday, Dad and I had the day to complete the Fellowship so here, my friends, is the final section!

“It’s very evident to me, that none of our trip throughout Europe would have been possible without the attitude and ability of Dolores.” I could tell Dad knew exactly how he wanted to summarize his experience. “I believe, having been raised on a farm, without electricity until she was thirteen, really prepared her to manage all of the challenging conditions of our trip from day to day.

While I pitched the tent, the three kids would play around—often with other kids from the campsite. Dolores would take the car and go into town, going from store to store to find our supplies and groceries.  Most of the time, she wasn’t able to speak the language but that didn’t seem to bother her.

Through all of this we stayed healthy. There were times when tension in the tent rose. For example, Dolores would bathe the kids each night in one of the green tubs we had bought along the way. I remember in Spain, she had finished getting the kids ready for bed when one of them stepped on the edge of the tub and spilled the water all over the inside of the tent, including underneath the sleeping bags. But through it all, I do not recall one time when there was a harsh word between us. Everything was seen as an adventure and enjoyed—even that spilled water. We would somehow find a way to see the humor in a situation. Instead of hollering at each other, we’d sort of laugh.

So there was no illness, no tension, never anger and really only one answer…the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire trip.

From West Germany, we drove on up to Denmark which was beautiful. We found an open space along the road and set up camp—it was warm and sunny and there were no bugs that I can recall.

20140105_182749_resizedHowever, the second day in Denmark it started to rain.

20140105_182802_resizedThe following morning, we got up early and did the routine—taking down the tent, and packing it up. We took the ferry and traveled on to Oslo, Norway. You could camp at any appropriate place you wanted along the road. The scenery was beautiful there too.

20140105_182628_resizedOne of the most important things I learned on the fellowship was about Scandinavian planning. I reflected on what I had learned from the city planner I had met with when we were in Amsterdam. He explained to me the reasoning behind the significant planning in their cities. In order to develop the land for their country, they had to plan years in advance because they were below sea level. In America, we expand into farmland surrounding the city.

When Norway and Sweden planned to expand a city, they would extend the transportation routes and subways beyond the existing city to create a new town. There, they would build a station for the subway and develop the town around it. This way, every one of their expanded towns had a means of transportation back into the central city. Individuals could buy a yearly pass for transportation and this could reduce the number of cars used. Many Scandinavians had cars but they would only use them on weekends and for vacations. They could use their mass transit for everything else.

It rained and rained all throughout Norway and Sweden. Fortunately, I had learned how to put up the outer section of the tent first when it rained, followed by the inner tent, so that it would be dry. This worked well for four or five days but after that, the continuous rain got everything soaked.


Wet little Debbie

We found a hotel to stay at in Sweden so we could get the tent along with everything else dried out. I remember well, stretching the tent across the room and out to the balcony.

So to recap, after England, we went to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Holland; across northern Germany to Berlin; north through Denmark and across to Oslo, Norway; east to Stockholm, Sweden; south to Copenhagen, Denmark; and back to Bremerhaven, Germany. We traveled a total of 12,000 miles and camped up until the night preceding sailing home—we probably would have camped the last night too, but we had to deliver the car for loading of the ship by 4:00 p.m. preceding day of departure.

20140105_183601_resizedThere is one rather amusing side light here. When we realized that we would have to spend one night in a hotel, we began to look forward to the prospect of a bath. Our last bath had been when we spent a night with friends in Heidelberg, Germany a month earlier. It turned out that the hotel we stayed at only offered baths in winter when the central heating system heated the water. We recovered from this disappointment and began talking of ‘taking a steaming bath every day on the ship.’ About five minutes after we boarded, we made arrangements with our cabin steward for baths the next morning.

20140105_183736_resizedThe tub was really full and the water very hot, but we were a little disappointed. It was filled with salt water which we found far from satisfactory for bathing purposes. ‘Oh well,’ we thought, one more week and we would be back home.

Reflecting on this whole experience, it’s interesting to recognize the responsibilities and roles that Dolores and I shared. I had studied and prepared for the trip and my part was seeing all the architecture, following through on the itinerary and details of the fellowship. Dolores’ responsibility was feeding us, keeping us healthy, washing all our clothes by hand, and making sure the kids were clean. This really was a much greater challenge than mine. She kept us all calm and happy. Except for setting up and taking down that double enclosure, two-room tent, my part was easy. What a wife!”


On the ship headed home.

What’s Up With the Bologna?

“I’ll get dressed and take you out, Sam,” Todd says to our dog as he runs up the steps and trips, causing a loud thud. I jump.

Are you okay…? I think but don’t ask. It’s early morning, I’m not really awake yet and Todd is a teaser. He might have planned the clumsy act to draw attention to the fact that I’m sitting on my butt while he’s preparing to walk the dog outside in the frigid air. I never know when he’s serious, even after seventeen years of being together. He enjoys crying wolf. “Do you need a hand…?” I think back to the time I had yelled down the same steps several years ago when I heard a crash in the kitchen.

“Yeah…..” he had groaned dramatically.

I ignored what I thought was his well-rehearsed moaning, “Really…?” and played along.

“Really, I need….” He repeated. “I need help. I really need you, Baby.” Oh riiiight.

When I got to the kitchen I saw that he was clutching his wrist and he was on his knees under the gas jet.

“I think I might need stitches,” he said as he worked to regain his balance and remove his wrist from the pointy spoke after trying to clean the cedar siding of a wall with a bucket of Murphy Soap and sponge. “It’s deep.” Don’t stand on a bar stool with no traction.


Crooked gas jet since the slip

He almost severed his tendon. We went to ER that day and he went roller blading the next. So, ever since those two layers of umpteen stitches, I  jump up and run. Except this morning—I can see out of the corner of my eye that he’s okay and I push the guilt I feel for not walking the dog myself out of my mind. It doesn’t leave completely but it shifts.

Morning is the time I sit in my chair, watch the sun come up over the neighbor’s roof and turn my thoughts to what’s unseen, if that makes sense. My faith. I read, I ponder, I pray. I start every day with a devotion and several chapters of the Bible. I’d say it’s my coffee to get me going but I need that too.

This morning as I read, the message is clear. It appears three different times in three different places: It’s simple — what we think influences how we live. Then I’m distracted again as Todd starts making the bed. I could get up and help but I read on. I jot down the words …*think love, and love surrounds you and those you think about. Think ill-will and thoughts of ill-will surround you and those you think about. Is it that simple?

“Did you notice that the bologna is all cut up in little pieces?” Todd asks. “I tried to take a slice out for Sam and it fell all apart. I couldn’t even get one to his mouth. It landed on his bandana and got stuck there. He wasn’t too happy about that.”

I listen to him talk about the bologna but stay with my thoughts. I think how easy it is to be discontent in life—to be critical of yourself and others, to make judgments. I spend so much time worrying about what I do, what I say, what I think. Low self-esteem, I suppose you’d call it. It’s just another form of self centeredness. Why is it that I can see the good in others but not in myself?

“I did it,” I answer. “I cut up the slices. Use a spoon. Take a scoop, put it in Sam’s bowl and mix it in with his food. That way he doesn’t snort it down in one gulp.” Bologna is Sam’s treat after his walk. He has wheat allergies. Is there wheat in bologna? I wonder.

“Oh, I see. You don’t want to get your hands slimy.”

“Well, yeah, it’s pretty gross to touch so since he should only have half a slice, I went ahead and cut them. Then I thought, why not quarter them…before I knew it, I had made bologna bits.” Todd’s standing there looking at me. “Use a spoon,” I say and return to my reading. I run through an inventory of the people in my life. I wrap them in thoughts of love so it will surround them. Is it really that simple? Yes, I hear the voice inside me say.

Sam enters the room and lies down by my chair. He simply loves me. Why can’t we always love each other like that? He starts scratching, poor guy. We’re probably giving him wheat and didn’t know it. What if we all became allergic to thoughts of ill-will and started scratching incessantly when we thought them? That would help us ponder what’s good, what’s noble and just, lovely and pure—like I read in Philippians 4 this morning—instead of ill-will.

I close my books and rise from my chair to face the day. Think love, and love surrounds you and those you think about. It’s that simple.

20131210_075822_resized*from God Calling

A Picture of Marriage

It’s not so bad really, being sick on your break. You can just sit and no one bothers you….except maybe to ask you to clean out the hall closet if you just so happen to get a spurt. A spurt of what…I wonder.

You also finish the books that have been stacking up on the floor beside your bed because there’s no more room for them on the night stand.

You get to spend all day in your pajamas with your favorite hoodie zipped up over them.

You get served meals in bed that you had nothing to do with preparing.

You read blogs you haven’t had the time to give the attention to they deserve and you also take the time to write short but thoughtful comments.

You write more blogs in a day than you usually do in a month.

You open and read the links on Facebook your friends post and you learn something you didn’t know, get a little smarter and laugh till you have to stop and take a breath.

You actually read the Sunday Times cover to cover. You do the crossword puzzle…well, you have the time to do it anyway.

And when you start to feel a little better, you read your own local paper as you sit across the table from the one you love while eating breakfast at noon and plan an afternoon outing together.

“How about we go feed our leftover loaf of bread to the ducks this afternoon?!” I suggest. “I think the fresh air could do me some good!”

“There are no ducks.” (Clearly he’s not enthusiastic about this.)

“What do you mean? They’re all over the lakefront and they’re hungry.”

“Well, if they are there, they’re not hungry.”

“Of course they are. Don’t you remember that song….? Um….All around the cathedral, the saints and apostles.….hang on, it’s coming to me. I continue to hum until the words come….you know they are crying, each time someone shows that he ca- hares.” I keep singing but I can see that I’m losing him. I give it my all,  “Feed the ducks! That’s what she cries, while overhead the ducks fill the skies!  See? Like that.

He chuckles.

Shhhh….listen….you can hear the ducks crying….Hurry up. Get your coat.” Silence. “Hey, look at this article on all these new restaurants. Yum. Let’s go to all of them this year.”

“Save the page.”

“Hmm….beef cheeks. What are beef cheeks? Served with beef tongue and a poached egg on top. Oh my, I’m not so sure about that.”

“Sounds delicious….”

“Well, the restaurant looks cute, let’s go. Here’s another restaurant that serves veal cheeks. What’s with the cheeks? I’ve never heard of that before. You’d think I would have with farming in my blood.”

“You know.” Todd says acting all smart, “Like the butt.”

“Riiiiiight. We used to have pork butt on Sundays…..I never thought of it like that before. What’s for dinner, Mom? (We’d ask after church on Sundays.) I‘m making a pork butt, she’d say.

“Sure, butt roast.”

“…..Fillet of butt.”

“…..Butt loins.”

I know I can top him….”Butt chops!” We laugh through the rest of breakfast.

“Ready to go feed the ducks?”

“There are no ducks.”

“Yes, there are.”

And that my friends, is a picture of marriage. Well, mine anyway…

DucksP.S. Back in my chair….good thought on the ducks…the bread will keep.

Morning Buns

It was the last Sunday in October and Mom woke with an inspiration. She had watched the colors of the leaves changing from the window that year—taking in the brilliance one moment at a time. She craved a walk outside.

“Wake up,” she whispered into Dad’s ear. “I’ve had an inspiration. I want you to walk to the store with me. I want to get Morning Buns for breakfast.”

Morning Bun

A heavenly bun

Dad watched her as she rose slowly and walked carefully into her dressing area.

“It’s daylight savings time, darling. Let’s change the clocks first,” he whispered back. “Are you sure you’re up for a walk…?” He wondered where this sudden burst of energy had come from.

Mom was already layering on her fleece pants and hoodie. “Are you sure it’s this Sunday?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” he said more to himself than to her as he was fidgeting with the clock.

So together they went through the house, room by room, setting the clocks forward an hour.

This will mean the store is open by now, she thinks to herself as she sits down on the bench by the door to put on her shoes. She knows it will take her husband a while to get ready so she puts the tea kettle on and opens the door to get the Sunday paper. In the upper corner she reads the words: DON’T FORGET TO TURN YOUR CLOCKS FORWARD NEXT SUNDAY!

She considers leaving all the clocks as they are, so they won’t forget next Sunday, but instead sets to work changing them back, all the while chuckling to herself. It’s the little things that entertain me these days, she thinks, the funny quirks of growing old together.

Her balance is off and her breath labored as she reaches, once again, to open the door of the grandfather clock—a wedding gift from her mother over 60 years ago—to gently move the hands back an hour.

“I’m ready.” Dad says, zipping up his jacket.

“No you’re not. There are still clocks in my office and in the bedroom that need changing.”

“I did those.”

“You did those incorrectly. We were one week early.”

“Really. Huh.”

She made a small list of the things she wanted to buy at the store then, slipped it in her pocket, zipped her coat all the way up so it covered her chin, put on her cap, and they were out the door.

The fall morning air was crisp and the hill to the store, steep but she hustled up the sidewalk. Again, Dad was amazed at her energy. They were the only shoppers in the store and it felt as though they had entered a castle. The bright colors of the fruits and vegetables surrounded her. The smells from the bakery made her hungry—something she hadn’t felt in a long while. She savored each moment as she experienced it.

Dad went to the counter where the Morning Buns were usually displayed and found that there weren’t any..

“Honey, they don’t have any today.”  He was disappointed.

“That’s your problem,” she says in response. “You don’t know how to shop. You don’t read labels and you have to learn to ask questions.”

He had spent hours at the store just the day before, trying to find the items on her list to make chili. He had come home with the wrong beans and sizes of cans. She had been thankful for the extras she found stored in the cupboard.

“Do you have any Morning Buns?” she asks the baker with her contagious smile.

“Yes, I just don’t have them out yet.”  She turns to Dad and says, “See?”

They leave the store with two Morning Buns, a cruller, a jelly-filled donut along with the other things on her list.

The morning was magical—the movement, the air, the splendor of the food on display, as if it all were for them alone to enjoy. She marveled at God’s beauty.

“How amazing God’s earth,” she says as they walk home.

How amazing her energy this morning, Bill thinks as he walks closely beside Dee, carrying the groceries in one arm and holding her right hand with the other.

They sit at the kitchen table eating the fresh fruit and delicately layered, cinnamon crusted  pastry.

“Food has never tasted so good”, she says as the sun streams in through the window. It warms their shoulders and creates a rainbow pattern on the hardwood floor beneath their feet. It’s their first meal of the day and it will prove to be their last together.

Tappy the Mouse

“We have a problem,” my husband Todd says as I walk in the front door. It’s an early fall afternoon and I’ve just returned from a walk in the ravines with our dog Sam.

“What now?”  I ask as I enter the kitchen where he is sitting, not wanting to know.

“Rose caught a baby mouse and it’s on the patio—kind of fidgeting.” He says. “It looks shocked but it’s still alive.”

Rose is our cat.

“Well go kill it.” I tell him.

“You kill it!”

Todd heads back outside to work in the yard and I Google How to feed a baby mouse. I am introduced to Stuart on YouTube who is a big white mouse with pink eyes, and Matilda, who’s grey and smaller than the size of the quarter that has been placed beside her for effect. She’s nuzzling up to Stuart and he’s being very patient. This reminds me of Sam with Rose. My heart melts.

“Wait!” I yell. “Come here! Look at this! They’re feeding this little speck of a mouse some kitten formula with a tiny brush and she’s lapping it up.”

“I don’t want to see it.”

“Seriously, come and look. They’ve put the little thing in a shoebox and punched holes in the lid so it can breathe.”

“We don’t have a shoebox,” he grumbles.

Yes, we do. I’ll get it. You get the mouse.”

I go for the box and also grab a roll of unscented toilet paper, like the video recommended, and start tearing tissue. Todd returns with the mouse.

“Is it bleeding?” I don’t really want to know.


“Put it in the box. I’m going to the store for kitten formula.”  I start to panic. Where do I get kitten formula? CVS. Hurry!  I say to myself. “We have to save the mouse!” I say out loud.

Mouse in a box

Mouse in a box

I return with baby formula and a little syringe. We can’t get the mouse to take the syringe—I go back upstairs in search of an eye liner brush.

“We should name him.”  I yell down.

Todd suggests Willie but that reminds me of my dad William and I don’t want to name this mouse after my dad.

“How about Tappy?”  Tappy reminds me of Danceworks, where I work. We need a Danceworks mouse. I get excited thinking about having a pet mouse at work and am certain everyone will take to him like I have—except for Elyse. She’s allergic.

“Sure.” Todd says about the name.

Tappy eats from the brush out of Todd’s hand just like on YouTube.  I can’t believe my heart is bursting over a mouse

We put him in the bathroom for the night with the lid of the box held open by a chopstick–so he doesn’t get claustrophobic?—and shut the door to keep Rose out.

We both dream of mice.

I wake up the next morning with a sore throat and fever. Todd informs me Tappy is gone. I think he’s teasing. How could it just disappear? There’s no way it could climb out of the box and get down from the sink. Then, it occurs to me Rose could have bounced the door open, gotten in, and eaten him. I’m heartsick and I can see Todd is not taking it well either.

Todd goes to work, leaving me alone in bed with orange juice, the mouse killer, and Sam.  Rose is being incredibly affectionate, cuddling up and massaging my arm.  I try to ignore the fact that she’s digesting a mouse and fall asleep.

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Mouse killer

I wake up in time to see her dash towards the big red chair next to our bedroom window. I jump up and see her take a bat at Tappy. Then, tucking her paws neatly beneath her, she sits and glares at him. I discreetly reach out and grab Rose as Tappy lies on his back with his little feet in the air.

I lock Rose in the bathroom, grab the box and return to find Tappy back right-side up. I pick him up with a piece of toilet paper, put him back in his box and take him outside, thinking he might do better with a little fresh air.

The sun is bright and I sit down beside him. He plays dead for about two minutes as I sing to him. Suddenly, he scratches his little ear, opens his eyes and stares up at me. “Tappy!” I’m overjoyed.

I call Todd to see if he thinks I should let him go and he says he probably won’t make it on his own yet so I head back inside with the mouse in the box.

That evening, Todd brings home some of his leftover Pakistani rice from lunch for Tappy.  He holds the tiny creature in his hand and feeds him more formula.  “He was doing much better last night,” he says.

“Maybe he doesn’t like spicy. I’m sure he’s going to be okay,” I reassure myself. Tappy scaled the wall of the box, survived a great fall, and escaped Rose, twice. He’s already on his third life. He’s a remarkable mouse.

I share the mouse video we made on my phone with the ladies at work the next day and make plans to buy him a cage and a wheel after work. I call Todd on my way home, and he says, “Tappy passed.”

I immediately burst into tears and I am shocked at the level of my emotion over a mouse. I call my co-worker, Amy the tapper, who inspired the name. There’s something so happy about Amy–about people who tap. I thought a happy name and an organizational affiliation could save the mouse. She listens to my Tappy story.

At work the next day, the ladies ask about Tappy and we’re all a little sad together—because that’s the way Danceworks is. If you’re down, which is hard to avoid in nonprofit work, our saying is, “Get in the wagon. Someone will pull.” We support each other. It’s a special place and this probably has something to do with why people of all ages and abilities take dance and get moving with us.

Amy entering a staff meeting

Amy entering a staff meeting

I thought this was a silly story about a mouse but I realized it’s about heart and a group of people that tell you to get Tappy, to get moving, to experience the joy.

Epilog–Todd helped me bury Tappy under the Bleeding Heart bush in our back yard. I wrapped the tiny body in a white Kleenex and set him inside a bloom from my Peace plant. Todd dug a hole and I placed Tappy in it. When I started to sing “Kumbaya My Lord” we cracked up.

Rest in Peace little Tappy.