Merry Christmas, 2017: This one will be strange…

2017 has been funky! And Christmas 2017 will be really strange for me and my Mother. It will be the first one without my Dad.

It’s been 6 months since my Dad passed. Mourning the loss of a loved one is a process, and ebbs and flows from moment to moment. I go from sad, to pissed, to laughing over memories on a regular basis. Those of you who have gone through the loss of a parent or close family member can relate, I’m sure.

I actually wrote and delivered the eulogy at Dad’s funeral. My mom and I decided who knew him better than us…So I did it and tried to honor him the best way I knew how – with reverence, honor and humor.

Rather than write the traditional Christmas Letter/Update of everything that happened this year for Chad & Cindy, I thought I would finally share that eulogy.   Frankly, it is only now that I feel ready to share it with others who were not able to attend the funeral (the grieving process is weird like that), so please, humor me…

From June 30, 2017:

My dad was a TRIP!

There’s so much to say about the guy who never knew he was my hero; but I’ll try to whittle it down to some key moments and interesting timeline memories.

My father was funny, quick with a come-back, and fiercely passionate about a lot of things that most people take for granted.

He loved deeply, especially my mother.  A lot of times, though, he hid his feelings behind that infamous sense of humor because he felt and loved so deeply, and could bring himself to let anyone in close enough to let them see that vulnerability.  

Milt Pritchard was a big man with a big heart, wrapped in a gruff exterior. Most people who knew him, figured out long ago that he was full of it and that 90% of what he said was BS – done with a mischievous smirk and always tongue in cheek.

Let’s look at his life for a moment: John Milton Pritchard was born on April 6, 1935 in Clawson, MI – a north suburb of Detroit, to Welsh-immigrant parents from Rhosllanerchrugog, in North Wales. (Rhos is about 45 miles south of Liverpool.  Look it up…Spelling counts…There’ll be a test later!)

He went through school in Clawson, building quite a reputation for himself as a clown, a singer, an awesome football player, and all-around popular guy. He played semi-pro football in Detroit, and was even on the Summer Training practice team for the Detroit Lions, back when they worked out at Cranbrook in Bloomfield hills. The Detroit Lions was his team until the day he died! Even at their worst, he was a rabid fan. No one can both cheer and swear at the Lions – multiple times in the same sentence – like a native Detroiter. And, no one will be more loyal to them (even throughout their ultimate “suckishness”) than a native Detroiter! We’re used to the fame that comes with the shame!

His gorgeous singing voice landed him several professional singing gigs in the Detroit area churches, a gift that continued throughout his life…He rarely sang in front of me, but I have fond memories of hearing him singing along to the Camelot Cast Album, or Phantom of the Opera…He was so good!!! He really could have been a star, but God had other plans for this man.

Sometime after high school, he joined the Michigan National Guard and was an MP = Military Police. His experiences and proficiency in this field led him to become a cop in Clawson. Of all the jobs my dad had, being a cop was the one thing that made him the happiest and proudest.

He would live a life of service as a result, whether as a cop, an EMT, Firefighter, church elder, husband, father, and friend.

My dad met my mother doing theatre for the Berkley, MI PTA’s production of The Pajama Game. Mom had the female lead of Babe, and dad was a last-minute addition in the role of Prez, the union boss. That incredible voice, known throughout several chorales in the Detroit area, helped him land the role that would lead him to his bride. By the time the curtain fell for the last time on the show, they were a hot-n-heavy item destined for marriage!

During their engagement, they went on to star as the comedic leads as Adelaide and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, to rave reviews and a lot of press for the engaged couple starring together.  

My mom and dad married on November 19th, 1960 with a lovely church wedding and reception at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Detroit, followed by a bash at their new house in Clawson…Pretty sure the cops may have been called, but that was only a rumor. I could be wrong! Then again, they could have been the ones bringing the beer to their brother in blue!!

A few years later…Yours truly made her appearance and dad’s world would never be the same…or quiet…again! He used to call me The Mouth with Feet on it! He even hand-drew me, with colored sharpies a t-shirt of a mouth with a flapping tongue, wearing tennis shoes…I wore that shirt with pride until I wore it out!! It literally fell apart and mom eventually made me throw it out!

Which reminds me…My dad loved to paint, draw and dabble with several types of media. He was pretty good, too. (In fact, I think Mom will be selling his paintings in the lobby after the service…FYI.) He wanted to take more painting classes this fall…He enjoyed that so much. It was kinda like having Picasso or Dali as a dad without the eccentricities of an artist…well…sort of! Stories for a different time!!

In 1968, Dad decided that riding shotgun on Eight Mile Rd during the Detroit Riots was not a good idea for a guy with a family. So, we moved to Gaylord, MI, about 300 miles north of Detroit.

We soon discovered there was a big time difference between Detroit and Gaylord. For example, right now it’s about 11:30, in Gaylord, its 1972! Things were a lot slower and laid-back there than in the hustle and bustle of the city.  

Dad found his off-duty fun in hunting, bowling and spontaneous UP camping trips with Mom, me and the dog. What started off as “let’s go for a ride” would usually end up with us across the Mackinaw Bridge, somewhere along the Lake Superior or Lake Michigan shoreline, sleeping over…sometimes in the car just for fun!

It was always fun to listen to my mom and dad banter during a road trip. Dad would drive, Mom would navigate, and I would laugh when he’d get mad when mom would read the map wrong and get us lost! We found a lot of abandoned logging camps and ghost towns thanks to mom’s map-reading prowess! He would have never experienced all that lost Pure Michigan history by staying home!

My dad, although he never did plays after Guys and Dolls, was active in other theatrical ways. He played Santa one year in Gaylord, leading me and the girl scout troop around town, having us sit on his lap, telling him what him what we wanted for Christmas…Yeah…I didn’t find that out until I was in my 20s. Then I had to think back…How big of a smart aleck had I been at that time? Did I blow my cover? Probably! I don’t think I ever got away with anything ever again!!

Gaylord is known as being the Alpine Village, one big Bavarian town, with an annual Alpenfest every July. My dad played the town villain, Herr Gessler for over 20 years…he was so good at keeping the secret identity, that even his best buddies had no idea it was him! He was so funny…and (playfully) mean, feeding off the townsfolk as they boo the would-be Burgermeister! “Bow to my Hat!” he’d yell and shake his walking stick at everyone. They loved to boo him!!!! LOVED…IT!!!!   And he loved it right back! But he always made sure Herr Gessler’s heart would melt enough to sing Edelweiss, Gaylord’s theme song. Milt was a town legend in that role! They haven’t had a better Herr Gessler in Gaylord since then.

Eventually, he retired from the police force and took a job in the UAW shop Standard Products, where they made parts for the Auto Industry. He became the shop steward and helped negotiate contracts, arbitrate disputes, and keep the peace, while making sure workers were happy and managers didn’t get away with anything they shouldn’t! He was a tough but fair guy.

It was during the auto industry meltdown in the 80s that really showed me his character, teaching me the concept of work ethic for even shop stewards face layoffs during lean times. My dad, while walking the picket lines and working to get people back to work, took a job pumping gas in town just to pay the bills.

He showed me that you sometimes have to work a less than desirable job – sometimes two – when you have bills to pay and a family. I have never forgotten that.

Dad was a loner by nature, but once you were in that little circle of trust, you were there to stay. He had only a few close friends, but could converse with complete strangers in a grocery store and leave knowing their life story.

Eventually, Mom and dad retired – first to Gulf Shores, AL and then to Spring Hill, FL.   I think they moved to Florida so they could still do the hand-map thing! 

Shortly after moving to Spring Hill, mom and dad met their future Son-in-law…My husband, Chad. It didn’t take long to figure out there was a reason why Chad and Dad were not allowed to hang out very often! Too peas in a pod!!!  

My dad loved Chad! I think more than me!!! During the day before our wedding, after the two of them had been particularly obnoxious together, Chad called me and as I answered, said “Why won’t you let me play with Milt??” Yeah, honey…there’s a reason for that!!! So, as you can imagine, Chad has taken the death of my father rather hard.

Dad thought it was very cool when Chad called and had both my folks get on the extensions so he could ask for my hand in marriage. That sense of honor and respect always struck a chord with my father!

When my dad walked me down the aisle at our wedding in July 2003, he placed my hand in Chad’s, looked at Chad and said, as only Dad could, “She’s your problem now!” That was his way of saying “Be as happy, as your mom and I have been!” Chad always said he was kind of like Robert DeNiro’s character in Meet the Parents!  At first, kinda scary, but

That was also the day he started popping aspirin like tic-tacs. Why? Because he was having a series of heart attacks during the wedding and the reception. He didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to ruin my big day. Like dropping dead during the father-daughter dance would have been a much better plan!!! (From that point forward, he jokingly blamed me for his heart attacks that day, saying he was amazed that I had finally found someone who would put up with my crap…His heart could take the shock!)

On June 22, 2017, the LORD silenced the beating of the big heart of Big John and called his servant home.   But not before he had a little fun being retired, hanging out with friends from high school days now living in Central Florida, and getting that beautiful voice back in the game as a member of the Hernando Harmonizers.

The lives of my family will never be the same. We will forever miss the man, the myth, the legend known as Milt Pritchard.

I love you dad…As mom says…Sing with the Angels!

They say the first series of holidays and special occasions after the passing of your folk’s is the toughest. I must say…I have to agree at this point. It doesn’t seem right to call my Mom and not have Dad on the extension, interjecting his words of wisdom and irreverent humor.

November 19th would have been Mom and Dad’s 57th Wedding Anniversary….It was surreal not wishing them the very best. Instead, I sent my mom a simple thinking of you card and wrote to her how proud of her I was, dealing with all of this and the incredible changes foisted on her. She’s pretty amazing!

Thanksgiving Day was bizarre….I could call during the Lion’s Game and listen to my Dad roll off a steady stream of jibes , expletives, and disparaging remarks over how badly they blew the game against Minnesota! That was tradition, you know!

And, it was downright weird to not buy a Christmas gift for him this year. I tried to get Mom to come to Spokane for Christmas, but she said if I could guarantee 70-degree weather for Christmas, she would consider it. Yeah…she’s staying in Florida!!! (Can’t say I blame her!! LOL)

Yes, there’s something missing in my Christmas 2017. And it will continue to be missing until God calls me home, whenever He sees fit to do so.

Until then, I will just say this:

Have a Merry Christmas, Dad, as you sit in the presence of the King of Kings on His Birthday! I look forward to seeing you again someday, in Glory!


Got A New Puppy? We did, too! Here’s What We’ve Learned (so far!)

I haven’t had a dog since 1978!

My husband Chad has never owned a dog…EVER! In fact, Mischief – the 20-lb. Tuxedo cat I had when we first started dating and eventually got married – was his first pet…EVER! They were buddies from their first meeting!

When we had to make the decision to put Mischief down in 2012 at age 15 (kidney failure), it was devastating to Chad. And to me. It took us 5 years to get to the point where, together, we could finally consider getting another pet. We kicked around the pros and cons of pet parenting, what to get, dog vs. cat, etc.

Over our 2017 Memorial Day camping trip, Chad declared out of the blue after seeing someone walk by our campsite with their little dog, “Hey! Let’s get a dog…A puppy! Not a big one, but a little one we can take with us in the RV!  I’m ready.”

That gave me the much-anticipated go-ahead to seriously start looking! FINALLY!  He didn’t have to tell me twice!

Chad had decided he would like either a Shih Tzu or a Pug, or something relatively that size and temperament. We set a price range in case we couldn’t find one at our local pet shelters. We put out feelers to various websites in the Spokane area.   He gave me the word on Monday…By Friday, I found the perfect little guy, a Shih Tzu-Yorkshire Terrier mix, well within our price range. (We bought from a reputable local breeder because our local shelters had no puppies or really young dogs available at the time.)

11 mos. w/favorite Peanut Butter Nyla-Bone!

Meet Chewbacca Skywalker Anderson…AKA Chewie!!

(Chad named him!) We got him at 5-months-old and he was more hair than dog! He was such a friendly little guy and just a sweetie. We fell in love almost instantly.

As of this writing, Chewie is now 11 months old (almost a big boy!), and frankly, has been a lesson in both patience and unconditional love.  Also, he doesn’t have nearly as much hair now as he did when we first got him, thanks to the wonders of grooming!

I had forgotten so much of what it was like to have a puppy; the on-going puppy-proofing of the house even when you think you’ve removed all temptation and problem areas, the constant watching so they don’t get into trouble, the perpetual look to see what they’re eating that they shouldn’t be eating, the never-ending stream of “Get down from there!”, “What are you eating?”, “Come over here!”, “Chewie!!!…Leave it! Drop It! [enter steady stream of any given command here]”, etc.

We never had kids between us, but after the first two weeks, Chad flat-out said to me, “I am way too old to be a new parent!!” I totally get it!!! But at the same time, Chewie looks up at us with these big, brown eyes, gives us those gentle puppy kisses, and that puff-ball of a tail stars to wag, and, man…All bets are off. (I think he knows it, too.   Little manipulative turd! Ha!)

What have I (re)learned so far about (Wo)Man’s Best Friend?   Sometimes I feel “not much!” Other times, I am his human genius! Here are some of the more important New Dog Owner Epiphanies Chad and I have discovered in the past few months (in no particular order):

Begging Dad for Doritos!

They chew EVERYTHING! Your socks, your shoes, your clothes, papers, their beds, etc. I cannot keep a basket of clean laundry intact without him absconding with a sock or a pair of underwear! It’s like a game. He proudly grabs hold of whatever he can out of the basket and struts through my field of vision, dragging said item behind him. I end up folding clean clothes with a hint of dog spit as fast as humanly possible.

They will eat EVERYTHING! Poop, Kleenex, Grass, Leaves, Bugs, anything that drops on the floor from your table, etc. We have almost broken Chewie of the Poop-eating phase (thank GOD!!), but he sometimes goes in for the occasional “tootsie roll” found on one of our daily walks. Nothing is more disgusting than picking a turd out of your dog’s mouth before he can swallow that!! EW! EW! EW! He’s learning “Drop it!” quite well. Hoping it’s just a matter of time. And this dog has never met a Kleenex he didn’t like! New or used!

They pee EVERYWHERE! Inside, outside, in the middle of PetSmart, my mother-in-law’s house (he is partial to her ottoman!), even when they don’t seem to have any more pee in them, etc. I am constantly amazed at how much Chewie’s little bladder can hold! Dang! That dog can mark! Just when you think he must be empty, he finds a few more drops to squirt on a tree or signpost…I think it’s the equivalent of a Dog Facebook post!! (“My owner is so stupid!! LOL”)

They need constant structure and discipline! Bed time, meal time, potty time, play time, love time, bath/grooming time, etc. We established from the beginning – before we even got Chewie – that he would be kennel-trained, would not sleep in the bed with us, and would have a set bed-time so we could have some alone-time together before calling it quits for the evening. We walk him around the same times each day, feed him around the same times each day, get him up and get him to bed at the same time each day. We try to keep that fairly steady. It is, after only 6 months, almost engrained into him. Consistency works.

(***RELATED SIDE NOTE: I think my dog can now tell time! Ha! He knows when Dad comes home, when dinner time is and even when it’s time to go puppy-nite-nite!   He’s really getting good at telling us when he needs to go out, and is fairly predictable. Whoo hoo!! I feel a little more empowered now than I did when we first got him. Felt like a complete idiot for the first month or so!!)

They have a 10 second attention span, at best! I just chewed up your favorite pair of shoes. You mad? Why? What? Look how cute I am! SQUIRREL! Etc. Chewie can switch gears faster than my ADD-riddled self ever thought was possible! (I kind of understand him because of this, though, so he makes sense to me!) Distractions happen with great frequency!

I know there are ways to train him to focus better, and that is coming after the first of the year. We are enrolling the 3 of us, (me, hubby and puppy) into beginner dog training so we can make it better for all of us. For now, he thinks that every person who walks into his line of sight is there just to say hi to him! It’s both endearing and maddening at the same time! Obviously, we’re still

RV Doggie

working on learning the basic commands, but we keep practicing with an endless supply of training treats in tow!

The number one, most important thing about dog ownership that Chad and I have learned from Chewie is this:

They are so much fun! Play, puppy kisses, fuzzy sweetness and goofiness, etc.! There’s nothing more fun than having someone who is always amazed and glad you came back…Even when you’ve only been in the other room for 30-40 seconds!! Licks, kisses, tail wags and genuine excitement – Ain’t nothing like it, my friend!

Chewie is an Equal Opportunity Love-Bucket!! Chad actually bought Chewie for me as a companion for when he is away, travelling for business. This does not mean he is my dog. Oh, no! I may be mom and his safe place, but Chad is his buddy!!!

Chewie knows the phrase “Daddy’s home” and proceeds to go absolutely insane with excitement when Chad comes home from work! (More than for me…I’m a little jealous!) Chewie’s little butt wiggles and wags and he whines and play growls his greeting to him through the screen door every time! It’s totally adorable! Then they have to chase each other around the dining room for a few minutes. It is their “Welcome Home, Dad” ritual.

With all that fun and frivolity, there comes the point in time when we have to actually teach him to be a good dog. That’s hard! Wow! Harder than we expected.   And, not because Chewie is so difficult, but that we just really don’t know what we’re doing!! Ha!

We were not blessed with kids between us, so this is our big shot!  LOL  We constantly research techniques and tips for what the best method is for stopping him from chewing things he’s not supposed to chew (Yes…he is well named!), puppy play nipping, unwanted barking, jumping up on people, etc.   It is a never-ending battle and labor of love.

We also watch out for ideas on how to make his life a little more fun, like best toys, grooming ideas, exercise, camping safety, etc.

There are so many sites out there; some great and some not-so-great! My advice is to consult several sites and go with the common methods at first. Ask your dog-owner friends what works for them. Go with a general consensus and/or safely try out some of the ideas for yourself and your pup. The main thing is to get used to your dog’s personality, learning curve, and have fun learning and loving together

Hail Cesar!! Time for a shameless plug! Of all the dog-oriented sites out there, my new best friend, and he doesn’t even know it, is Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer! (Dude! If I could kiss you without being slapped with a restraining order, I would! You are THE MAN!!!!! #CesarMilan!!)   I have his website bookmarked; he quickly became the most used blog/website on our mobile devices, like EVER! His books are a God-send, too!

In the almost 6 months that we’ve been puppy parents, I have increased my knowledge base and continue to do so every single day thanks primarily to Cesar. So much to learn about these strange little creatures! (Frankly, cats were much easier, but, oh, the fun of puppy-dom!) We continually discover what it means to be a good pack leader to our little royal fuzziness, thanks to tips from Cesar and his staff. Whether it’s under his tutelage or the wise words of someone else, do your homework and become a great dog master!

We are by no means puppy dog experts!  We literally learn as we go every single day.  Sometimes we come out winning!  But I can tell you this piece of advice:

If it’s been a while since you had a puppy, or even a pet, for that matter,  please do the research before you make this major shift in your life! 

A pet is not just a cute disposable gift….It is a fur-ever part of your family and needs you to make time for him or her in your life.  They dwell on your existence and just want your love.  So, take the time to get to know your pet and let them get to know you. Do so through discipline, routine, guidance and love. You will never, ever regret it!

His Royal Fuzziness!

Watch the “Eclipse Across America” Safely!


Let’s Say it all Together, shall we??

  • I will not look at any phase of the Eclipse with my naked eye!
  • Conventional sunglasses will not protect my eyes during the Eclipse.
  • Cheap, unsafe, and uncertified glasses or viewers won’t protect me either!

It’s for your own good, you know!  (Sorry for sounding like your overprotective Mother, but it’s true!!)

Here in Spokane, we’ll see the eclipse at around 95%.  That still allows enough of the sun’s rays to cause potential damage to your retina cells (Solar Retinopathy), which can cause permanent damage including blindness.  So, the experts at NASA, the American Astronomical  Society and my eye doctor all say, “don’t look at it without the special glasses…Period!!”  I for one will heed their warning!

You Have Options!

If you simply cannot resist temptation, please wear the appropriate eye protection while you view the Eclipse.    You should look for safe eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-23 International Standard, which protects your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays when you stare at it.

The American Astronomical Society can recommend appropriate vendors, manufacturers and retail stores on their website.  Take the time to look up the info.

Or…Consider these ideas…

  • Get the $1 cheapies! A lot of places still have them, but everyone wants them, so good luck! If you have a pair, great; but if they are cracked/crinkled/3+ yrs old…Trash ‘em!
  • Plastic glasses/cardboard viewers: More sturdy/spendy than the cheapies, but work.
  • Welder’s shields/goggles: Maybe you already have a pair in your garage! Just make sure the glass is rated 14+ to best protect your eyes while viewing the eclipse.
  • Solar-viewing Binoculars: Cool! Close up view of the eclipse & eye protection all in one!
  • Go Eclipse Gonzo with a Telescope with a solar filter lens: This will cost you, but if you’re really into this, then money’s no object, right??
  • Make your Own Viewer/Glasses: Do a little homework…Google it and get ideas on how to create your own safety glasses for viewing the eclipse. Several versions exist, from those that allow you to look directly at the sun to the over the shoulder version.
  • Live Stream it on your mobile device: NASA will have live coverage from 12pm – 4pm EDT – from 12 locations, airplanes, a plethora of ground telescopes, and 57 High Altitude balloons…All for your viewing pleasure and from the comfort of your own home or desk!  View the eclipse as it happens, from those 12 locations at NASA’s Special Eclipse LiveStream website.   (Some of us can’t afford to take time off to head into the path, so this is a great option!

What about my Critters??

Simmer down, Ellie Mae!  The critters will be just fine lying around the CEE-Ment Pond!

According to Purina, your pets may sense the darkness and think it’s dinner or bed time behaving as they would as the sun sets…that’s it. The fuzzy ones shouldn’t feel any other adverse effects.  If you’re that concerned, simply keep them inside during the eclipse.  After all, animals are more sensitive to natural phenomena than humans.

No need to get Fido or Fluffy the special glasses…unless it’s for a cute photo op!

(I think my little Chewie would look FABULOUS in a pair!!!)

Most important…

Enjoy this!  However you choose to view the big event, be safe, have fun, and realize you’re viewing history!








Annual “Worst Toys” List – 2016

It’s Back!!! I find this annual list both entertaining and disturbing.  Entertaining because, I am amazed at what toymakers will shove at us as the next big thing; and disturbing because these toymakecapturers make things that are not only age inappropriate but just not safe for our kids a lot of times.  Money and profit, it seems, ranks higher than the safety of our kids.  A pity, really; so we, as parents and grandparents, need to be extra careful.

But enough about the carnage, let’s have some fun with this list, shall we!  The annual list of toys NOT to buy comes out every year, as presented by World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H). They have some doozies on here this year, too.  The list usually consists of 10 toys to W.A.T.C.H. out for, but due to space, you’ll only see a few.  Check out these “winners!”  (See the entire list by visiting their website at


¨ Peppa Pig’s Muddy Puddles Family! (Jazzwaresm LLC) Ages: 2+ or 3+ (varies depending on the packaging) Who doesn’t love a little Peppa Pig, right?? This one comes with a family of four little piggies, ready for the mud.  Unfortunately, these piggies also come with a lot of small parts.  Quick quiz: Where do all things go when you hand them to a toddler? That’s right…Straight to their mouth! The small parts cause a choking hazard and should be kept away from kids under three. Be careful and read the packaging…the warnings vary and can be misleading.


elephant¨ Kids Time Baby Children’s Elephant Pillow! (Kids Time US/Appease Toys) Ages: 3+ Big, fuzzy, plush Elephants are awesome!! This is actually a very cute toy.  Soft and squeezy, tactile, and…oh…wait…Potential for suffocation!  Not so awesome! Although the warning says 3+ to Grownups, the retailer’s website shows an infant snuggling with Mr. Elephant. Seems pretty OK, until you realize just how soft and plush the toy is.  It can block a child’s mouth and suffocate your precious jewel.  This should only be used for the younger ones under parental supervision.  By the way…“Infant pillow[s]” and “any other similar article[s]” which are “intended or promoted for use by children under one year of age” have been banned by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (16 CFR 1500.18).   So, I guess if the manufacturer slaps a 3+ label on it, it’s suddenly OK! Corporate butt covered! Gotta love those loopholes! Sheesh!


sling¨ Slimeball Slinger! (Diggin Active, Inc.) Ages: 6+ What could possibly go wrong with allowing a 6-yr. old to launch green slimeballs from a big slingshot over 30 feet, at the target of their little heart’s desire, right??  Aside from the label warning to ”never shoot at any person or animal,” we find major potential for bruising and/or eye injury.  No advisory for eye or body protection included at all.  “Merry Christmas, Timmy! We got you a gift certificate to the local medical facility to help cover the impending emergency room bills!”


¨ Banzai Bump ‘n’ Bounce Body Bumpers! (ToyQuest) Ages: 4-12  Slip into that Junior Summo Wrestler suit for a “bumpin’ bump ‘em’ fun time!” Perhaps the first few words on the warning label sums it up:  “WARNING! To avoid risk of serious injury or death…”  Oh, Holy Crap! This can’t be good at all!!  The kidlets will need a lot of extra protection while using these for their head, elbows, knees, hands…Oh, just get body armor!!



¨ Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700 Blaster! (Hasbro) Ages: 14+  Everyone knows that teenagers are always the most careful, safety-oriented group of people in the world…NOT! Pretty sure that an ER visit is guaranteed when you pair up most 14-yr-olds with any cool toy that has “Blaster” and “Easy-Load Magazine” and “Precision Battling” in the description. Just sayin’!   Packaging for this toy has no warning label, although the kids depicted do use face and eye protection, which does not come with the toy. You have to buy that separately.  The potential for injury is great, primarily to the eyes.  The ammo for this is small but mighty.  What could possibly go wrong, said no mother ever!


¨ The Good Dinosaur – Galloping Butch! (Tomy) Ages: 3+ He’s a big T-Rex who gallops and makes cool sounds, roars and talks… just like in the movie! Cool!  Except for that puncture wound hazard, this is a great toy for your toddler!    See, Butch has a rigid, sharp pointy tail that can make a hole in your kid’s torso or face if they play a little rough.  3-yr-olds bang things…they throw…Hit…etc. when they play with stuff that makes noise!  It happens!    So, if you purchase this one, make sure you get a gift card to the local Urgent Care Treatment Facility, too. May come in handy!



¨ Peppy Pups! (I-Star entertainment, LLC) Ages: 2+ How cute is this lil’ puppy with “bouncy walking action?” Looks pretty harmless until you consider the 31” corded leash that can wrap around your toddler’s neck, thus creating a strangulation hazard.  Bad dog! Bad!




¨ Flying Heroes Superman Launcher! (TPF Toys, LTD) Ages: 4+   How could this be bad?  It’s Superman!  The Man of Steel comes with a launcher for kids as young as 4-yrs-old.  (Again…Note the word “launcher” mixed in with the age requirement of 4+!) Little Johnny and Susie are “encouraged” to “Grip it and rip it!”  Oh, boy!! Safety instructions say to launch only at arm’s length and away from your face. Considering a 4-yr-old’s arm is maybe 2 feet long tops…Perhaps it’s not a good idea for young kids!  Can you hear it now? “Look! Up in the shy…It’s a bird! It’s a Plane!” No! It’s…the Paramedic coming to give treatment to your kid because Superman just accidently launched into his/her face!


baby¨ Baby Magic Feed & Play Baby! (New Adventures LLC, LTD) Ages: 2+   OK…This is quite possibly the creepiest doll face in a long time…Looks like a Space alien!  And what’s up with the Seinfeld-worthy “man hands” on this doll?!?  Kinda rivals the “ICK” factor for me of your basic Chucky doll!  Look at those eyes and those paws, people! It’s not the scary doll that is the concern, but the accessories that come with it.  You get the high Chair, the baby bottle, the blanket, food dish and “interactive spoon” whatever the heck that means!  All I can figure is that the spoon is just under 3’ long, skinny, and an instant choking hazard if your little sweetness puts it in his/her mouth!  (Really hoping this is not the “interactive” of which they speak!)  Oh, and the warning label says “Potential for ingestion injuries.”  You may want to just skip creepy, big hands doll altogether!  (Seriously!  Look at those eyes and those paws, man!)



¨ Warcraft DOOMHammer! (Jakks Pacific, Inc.)   Ages: 6+   Seriously??? Age 6 with a hammer is never a good idea!!!  Ask anyone who actually has a 6 yr. old if this is ever a good idea!! “Feeling the power of the horde” can hurt like crazy from potential impact injuries and a choking hazard from the small parts. One more thing:  Although the age recommendation states 6+ yrs. old, the warning label states “not suitable for children under 36 months.”  Um…I’m no math genius, but I’m pretty sure that “36 months” is 3 years shy of 6 years old, Mr. Label Writer!!



Some real doozies, huh?? As you head out to buy those Christmas presents, give an extra look at this year’s W.A.T.C.H. list. In fact, save their website ( to your favorites and consult it yearly…Especially if you have younger kids. Just because it looks fun and they want it, doesn’t mean it is the safest thing for them.

As parents and grandparents, we are their safety net. At the same time, we expect that toys are safe, but greed and design problems remain in the toy manufacturing industry.

Be vigilant. Read the labels.  Make wise choices for the little ones you love the most!  They’re worth the effort!

Merry Christmas to your family from mine!



Time for this American to “Make America Great Again” by moving “FORWARD!“

I am the following labels:

  • Female
  • A college graduate (Go Eagles! – EWU, 2014)
  • Neither liberal nor conservative – right in the middle
  • The granddaughter of Welsh-Irish immigrants (Yes…They were legal and eventually became American citizens after WW II)
  • Whitecapture
  • Married
  • A Step-mom
  • Catholic
  • Straight
  • A cat-person (although I really like dogs, too!)
  • A Military wife (We’re retired from USAF now!)
  • Proud to be a Red-headed Chunky Diva!

Blah…blah…blah! The list could go on forever.

Bottom line, really is this…I am an American.

All the things I am have combined to make me the unique, free-thinking, spirited person I am today. My experiences, my education, my friends and family…All of it counts, just as it counts for you and has made you who you are.  I am so appreciative and thankful that we are not carbon copies of each other.  Life would be so boring if we were, right?

As we discover our differences, I think it’s amazing and wonderful when we can find the common ground…Find the things that we can share and build relationships from there.

History proves that our country works best when we work together. As a team.  Not necessarily agreeing on everything, but remaining respectful of other views and open to discussion and compromise to get things done for the betterment of all.

So, why can’t we do that now? (Rhetorical question.)

One word: DANG! 

Election 2016 has left us, as my husband likes to say, feeling like we’ve been “pulled through a knot-hole backwards!” We’ve been subjected to incredibly intolerant and hateful words and rhetoric, spewed from the mouths of politician and voter alike.  (Pretty 50-50 on that one, too!)

I viewed (and hidden) some really ugly, cruel, intentionally inflammatory and derogatory posts from both my liberal and conservative friends. I witnessed some out-right lies and rumors, false news stories meant to incite and deride, and just plain meanness from people I know for a fact are not like that in any way in their personal interactions.

haters-gonna-hateFor some reason, this election made it “OK” for some to be truly nasty! (Frankly, it’s never OK to be that way!  But that’s just me, although it’s easy to get caught in that trap, isn’t it?!)

Maybe it was the dynamic surrounding the two completely different candidates and the Country’s perceptions of who they are and their agendas.

Perhaps an election season that spanned over 500 days! (Yeah!  We’ve been hearing this crap for almost two years!!  OY!)

God knows, it couldn’t have been the staggering amounts of media hype we’ve endured throughout!  I am so over the over-paid, self-important political pundits from all sides trying to tell me what to think!  Shut up already and let me digest the actual facts and not your skewed, biased & mostly made up spin on them!  Man!  (I’m a little torqued on that one, having been a part of the media animal for a number of years during my morning show/radio days!  Apologies to any and all listeners who I may have offended by my own zeal and need for ratings during those moments!)

CBS’s “The Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert said it so perfectly:

“So how did our politics get so poisonous?  I think it’s because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison. You take a little bit of it, so you can hate the other side. And it tastes kind of good. And you like how it feels. And there is a gentle high to the condemnation, right? And you know you’re right, right? You know you’re right.”

Hate is easy to do, I’m afraid.  Kindness in the face of hatred…even harder!

OK…Now what?

So, Trump’s the President-elect. Wow.  Just wow.

To be clear, I would have felt exactly the same way if it would have been Hilary elected instead. I was not a fan of either candidate…equally so!

Trump won the electoral vote; Clinton won the popular vote. (Kind of Bush/Gore 2000 Redux, only without the whole hanging-chad thing!)

One half of the country is thrilled and the other is devastated, to the point of tears in some cases. Either way, we’re stuck with him now.  So where do we go from here?

Let’s look at the options, Shall we? 

Let me first say, I am sympathetic to those who feel like all their efforts were for nothing.  I can relate to the ups and downs of the victory/defeat rollercoaster and have been on the receiving end of both the up and down slope.th1kxwekfe  What garners respect and shows the world just what you are made of is how you handle each of these moments.

You are in charge of your reactions and emotions…You can choose how you will react to Donald Trump’s election to become the 45th President of the United States.

So…what’ll it be?

  • Option 1:  Act like Congress has for the past 6 years, like children sitting back to back in the sandbox, arms folded, loudly stating “I’m not playing with you anymore!”   That’s worked well, hasn’t it?  We’ve accomplished pretty much a whole lot of nothing with this tactic!
  • Option 2:  Cry.  A lot.  Cancel your college classes.  Call in sick to work.  Put your life on total hold, spending endless hours on Twitter, Facebook, Snap Chat, etc. pondering how you’ll ever go on, while bingeing on ice cream and chocolate and a lot of wine.  (Seeing a lot of this by the way on social media…Really?)  Warning:  If this goes on for longer than November 9th…You need to seek professional help!  You’re being a little over-dramatic on this one!
  • Option 3:  Protest!  Shout at the rain.  Break things.  Set your neighborhood on fire and blame the establishment.  Shoot people just because you’re pissed.  Block roads and trains so that others can watch you implode in a fit of rage.  (Not very productive, in my opinion, to trash your own stuff because you’re angry…Amounts to nothing but a big temper tantrum.  I used to get spanked and placed in “Time-Out” for that behavior!)
  • Option 4:  Immediately contact your DNC/RNC and volunteer to help!  Work for change the way you see fit!  I include the RNC even though Trump won the election, because there are a lot of Republicans who are just as unhappy with his victory, too!  If you want change, get involved, but don’t expect instant gratification!  Big change rarely happens fast…It takes time to gather momentum.  Patience.  Diligence.  Passion.  Research…Rinse.  Lather.  Repeat.
  • Option 5:  Accept the fact that this is how it turned out.  Whether you chose The Donald or the Queen of the Pantsuit, this is the hand we’ve been dealt.  Get up.  Get dressed.   Brush your teeth.  Have a bowl of Capt. Crunch.  We have 4 years of this…If you’re really that adamantly opposed, please see Option 4!  …and keep your Senators and Representatives on speed dial!!!
  • Option 6:  Remember that no matter what, we are Americans…All of us…Regardless of gender and gender-identity; no matter our race, religion, political affiliation, etc.  We must band together and work it out!  America is big enough for all of us.  there’s room for you to be who you are and for me to be who I am, hopefully, with enough crossover to keep us talking and working toward beneficial and amenable compromise.

the6cq48atI guess when you look at it that way and really break it all down, we really do have some choices…It just depends on how you want to handle it.  It is personal.  It is up to you.  Can both Camp Clinton and Team Trump come together and work it out like adults?  I think so.  I have faith.

Here’s what I will do:

Yes…I am an American.  I believe our country was founded on the backs of those who knew both victory and defeat, understood the inherent need to work together in order to free us from tyranny and unfairness, and believed they could make a difference.  Most importantly, they were not afraid to keep trying, no matter the cost, to make this the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Yeah…I’m flag waving!  So what!  I know in my soul that we can get past the raw emotion of a very difficult election season and move toward a more calm and rational look at our future and what it holds.  Not  everyone will be happy with every single decision made by this new administration.  In fact, there will be ideas presented that will go against everything you and I hold as truth.  We will at times differ on what those truths are, for sure.  But we’ll make it!  I know it.  I feel it.

I am an American.  and though I may not be totally thrilled with the choice that our country made as its next leader, I am willing to open my ears, listen to what he has to say and give him a chance to prove he’s worthy of the seat at the Resolute Desk!  Just me.  This is my choice.

God bless America!





Can It Be November 9th Already???

O.  M.  G.

We still have 21 days to go until we are (mostly) done with this danged election!!!  (Anyone else just completely OVER IT yet??)

debate-prepTonight is the last debate (thank GOD).

And I will watch until it gets nasty, which ought to give me 5 minutes, right?

In my entire life, I have never dreaded my right and responsibility as an American Citizen to vote!  I can’t NOT vote.  It is not who I am nor is it what I believe is the correct approach to what I perceive as a genuine dilemma in our world right now.

I’m rather passionate about the whole voting thing…Freedom does not mean you can just take a knee, or sit it out!  You protest against the establishment you dislike by voting against it, not by passive-aggressive tactics!  That gets us absolutely no where!!  You have to make a choice; simply saying I’m not going to vote is, in my opinion, the coward’s way out!

Choose!  weigh out your pros and cons and make a choice!  (it doesn’t have to be for Hillary or the Donald.  Even a legitimate write-in is a choice…and No, Mickey Mouse doesn’t count!!)

Believe me, there will come a day when you will have to make a hard and fast choice- your life and eternity will depend on it, but that’s a blog post for another day!

I have prayed for God to give me clarity…guidance…a good grasp of issues and not emotion in choosing which candidate to vote for during this election.  I know I am not alone….God has a very busy prayer chain going right about now, I’m sure, with serious Angels on overtime happening!!

in my search for clarity, I found an article written by Max Lucado, one of my favorite authors, that helps to put it into perspective.  I would normally write my blog with quotes and paraphrasing, links to the source, etc.  But Mr. Lucado says it beautifully.  I had to share.  Below, you can find the hyperlinked title with the article in it’s entirety.


Max Lucado: My Prediction for the Presidential Election

We are really ready for this presidential election to be over. We’re ready for an end to the rancor and tackiness. Voters on both sides feel frustrated, even embarrassed by it all. There is a visceral fear, an angst about the result. What if so and so wins? When we wake up to November 9, post-election, when the confetti is swept away and the election is finally over, what will we see?

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).

On one occasion the Lord turned the heart of the King of Assyria so that he aided them in the construction of the Temple. On another occasion, he stirred the heart of Cyrus to release the Jews to return to Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar was considered to be the mightiest king of his generation. But God humbled and put him in “detention” for seven years. “The kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” (Psalms 22:28).

Understanding God’s sovereignty over the nations opens the door to peace. When we realize that God influences the hearts of all rulers, we can then choose to pray for them rather than fret about them. Rather than wring our hands we bend our knees, we select prayer over despair.

Jeremiah did this. He was the prophet to Israel during one of her darkest periods of rebellion.  He was called “the weeping prophet” because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith.  He was so distraught that one of his books was entitled Lamentations.  But then he considered the work of God.  Note the intentionality of his words:

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21-23)

Imitate Jeremiah. Lift up your eyes. Dare to believe that good things will happen. Dare to believe that God was speaking to us when he said: “In everything God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

Many years ago, I spent a week visiting the interior of Brazil with a long-time missionary pilot. He flew a circuit of remote towns in a small plane that threatened to come undone at the slightest gust of wind. Wilbur and Orville had a sturdier aircraft.

I could not get comfortable. I kept thinking that the plane was going to crash in some Brazilian jungle and I’d be gobbled up by piranhas or swallowed by an anaconda.

I kept shifting around, looking down, and gripping my seat. (As if that would help.) Finally, the pilot had enough of my squirming. He looked at me and shouted over the airplane noise. “We won’t face anything I can’t handle. You might as well trust me to fly the plane.”

Is God saying the same to you? If so, make this your prayer:

Dear Lord,  You are perfect. You could not be better than you are.

You are self-created. You exist because you choose to exist.

You are self-sustaining. No one helps you. No one gives you strength.

You are self-governing. Who can question your deeds? Who dares advise you?

You are correct. In every way. In every choice. You regret no decision.

You have never failed. Never! You cannot fail! You are God! You will accomplish your plan.

You are happy. Eternally joyful. Endlessly content.

You are the king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, overlord, and Lord of all history.

An arch of your eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute.

Every throne is a footstool to yours. Every crown is papier mâché compared to yours.

No limitations, hesitations, questions, second thoughts, or backward glances.

You consult no clock.  You keep no calendar.  You report to no one.

You are in charge. And I trust you.

So…Circle November 9 on your calendar and write upon it these words: Our good God rules the world.


Holy cow!  I get it!

Thank you, Mr. Lucado for writing what I feel.  For giving me perspective during a difficult political season.  Thank you for reminding me that no matter what happens, no matter who is elected as our country’s next leader, God is in control…God…Not Hillary, or the Donald, or Congress.  But God…Capital G-O-D!


Now I can sleep at night and not have to fret about who will be the leader of the free world and in charge, because ultimately, You are!

Wow!  I may even watch the whole debate with a new perspective and hope.


Critter Control in the Office!

Yeah…It seems that my workplace has Mice!  Since I am the editor of the monthly Safety and Health Newsletter for our office, I thought perhaps others have encountered similar issues.  (You may see future articles here that were written for the office.  I try to keep it short, sweet, fun and informative.

We’re also in the process of getting new carpeting in the cubicle jungle, so all things must be packed up out of all drawers and shelves so the contractors can easily lift the cubicles and thus, remove the old carpet and lay the new carpet underneath.  Two words:  BIG FUN!!!  (Actually not so much!)

The move is showing us all kinds of signs of possible infestation!  It also makes us clean up our clutter, so there; a plus side, I guess!It’s oh-so-pleasant when you find droppings or even worse, a dead mouse carcass among the files!

So…This is the missive I sent out to my peeps.  May it help you should you find yourself in the similar situation.

The only mouse I need at my desk should be attached to my computer! Yeah…In case you haven’t noticed, we have a little problem with mice at ERO! Some have found them staring back from an open drawer, some have found “gifts” left behind on our desk, and some have had the pleasure of the carnage of a trapped mouse in their area.  YUCK!  All around!

Mice are only cute in Cartoons, bro!! (No…Really… Mickey is a MYTH!) Mice are destructive, dirty miceand can get into everything and anything, even very tiny spaces.  They multiply rapidly, leaving feces and urine all over the place. (Still think they’re cute??)  Mice spread disease and bacteria, chew through wires and files.  In short, they are neither fun nor cute!

How do you know if you “gots critters?”  Oh…You’ll know! Here are a few signs:

* “Nibbled” food boxes/bags

* Chewed paper or files

* Mouse droppings/urine in drawers or on your desk

* Unusually musky odor/stale smell.

* Pieces of food wrappers or crumbs in the corner of your desk or behind your PC

(Let’s Recap…EW!) Keeping your desk clean and open-food-container-free will help keep critters at bay.

Hanta Virus, Your New Mouse, and You! Did I mention Mice carry all kinds of diseases? (Rats, mice, etc. were responsible for spreading Black Death/Bubonic Plague back in the 1300s. How fun was THAT, right??)

Mice, walking on your desk, in your desk drawers, eating your snacks, etc. can potentially pass the Hanta Virus onto humans via their feces, urine, saliva, etc. Oh, and it can be fatal if not treated.mouse-peering

Hanta Virus symptoms begin one-to-six weeks from inhaling the virus and include 3-5 days of flu-like illness, with fever, soreness, headaches, nausea/vomiting, and fatigue; then, eventual shortness of breath and fluid in the lungs, followed by a hospital stay.

The virus eventually dies off, but it varies, depending on environment, humidity, sun exposure, etc. Bottom line: ALL droppings should be treated as if they are one, big virus per the WA State Dept. of Health. I suggest bleach wipes…LOTS and LOTS of bleach wipes!!

   If you don’t feed them, they won’t come!  (Apologies to Field of Dreams!) Prevention is the key! To help keep mice under control, keep your area clean! (Duh! No-brainer, right??)   Store food in good plastic containers (not Ziploc baggies…They chew right through those!). Also, wipe down your desk often with bleach wipes.

The alternative is to have traps set.  Just be prepared to find a dead mouse in the vicinity of your cubicle!  Pretty gross, but effective!  By the way, we can’t use poison for several reasons, including the obvious mousetrap-e1361949103687health risk to us humans and having a mouse ingest the poison then crawl off and die somewhere we can’t find him.  (Can you imagine the smell of that after a few days?  Yuck!)

WARNING: Those Aren’t Caraway Seeds!!  We’re just a few droppings shy of a Hanta Virus, people!   That means we MUST keep our respective areas clean and neat, which takes a group effort to help get rid of the critters from our building.

(SOURCES:   House Mice     Hanta Virus)


Guilty Pleasures in Cinema!!

MoviesI love movies!

You know those movies you watch when no one else is around?  The ones that you absolutely LOVE and can watch time and time again?  The one’s you have given you life lessons, or you can quote like they were ancient writings of the wisest men?

We all have our lists!  What we find to be cinematic genius may not jive with anyone else thinks as great moments in film; but we love them and live them with the fiery passion of a thousand suns!  They are joy.  They are all that feels good in the world.  They are escape.

What’s on your list?  What do you keep on you secret “must-have” list of movies?  No right or wrong answer here…No judgements…Just whatever makes you feel something you and maybe a handful of friends or family can share.

Oh, I have my list!  It’s odd and eclectic; which, come to think of it,  probably explains a lot to those who know me well!  These movies speak to me…For whatever reason, I cannot get enough of them and if they come on TV or I see the DVD sitting around, I am likely to watch it, pushing other things aside to do so.

Here goes!  In no particular order:

posterWhat A Girl Wants

In spite of all the turmoil in the real life of Amanda Bynes, she was a fun actor to watch, usually playing the underdog.  Her characters, like in this one, never quite fit in, but she’s comfy in herself and adapts to the surroundings, most of the time landing on her feet to spite her nay-sayers!  (I kind of relate!)

I am also a HUGE fan of Colin Firth, which helps the cause of this movie’s appeal.  My husband is well aware of my crush on Colin, yet secure enough to know that if he had to kick Colin’s a$$ in an effort to win my affections, I would still route for him (although that fight would be kinda fun to watch!!).

What A Girl Wants is just fun to watch!  ‘Nuff said!

Also in this genre, and speaking of Amanda Bynes, check out Sydney White!  A gleeful nerd-fest of college fun  which, once more, the underdogs come out winning!!!

MPW-53072Centre Stage

Cheesy story, beautiful and captivating ballet and dance rehearsal sequences,  with a completely unrealistic romance; yet, like a proverbial train wreck, I cannot look away!!! No, really!  It’s so incredibly predictable, but the dancing (if you’re into that stuff) is really fun!  The costumes and sets are amazing!  Donna Murphy  and Peter Gallagher, and Debra Monk are a few more recognizable actors.  Most everyone in the cast does their own dancing, whether they are trained ballet dancers or not.  That’s always fun to watch.

Another cool cast note:  This does have a future star in the cast…a young and funny Zoe Saldana.  Who knew Lt.  could dance?!?!  Spock would find it “fascinating!”  Think a much lower budget A Chorus Line with a little better flow to the storyline!

Roadhouose MovieRoadhouse

Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliot in the same…damned…movie!!!  What’s not to love, people!?!?!   Testosterone in abundance, girls dancing on tables, wicked bar fights with smashing beer bottles; great music, romance, and serious eye candy for the girls…Everybody’s a winner!

It’s rough.  It’s rowdy.  It’s predictable.   And I don’t care!  I so love this flick!  If you’ve ever been to an establishment like this, you’ll kind of relate and reminisce!  The South is filled with them!!  They’re a blast!

Roadhouse has an awesome soundtrack, too, with much of the music by the Jeff Healy Band.  A true feast for the eyes and ears!  Of course, no iconic movie would be without some great quotable, like ” A polar bear fell on me,” “Opinions vary,” and “There’s always barber college!”  A classic!

cry-baby-movie-poster-1990-1020470249Cry  Baby

Ironically, it has absolutely nothing to do with Super Bowl 50 losing QB Cam Newton, much as the title would suggest!

John Waters was the king of tacky & trashy and he was proud of it!  His films were rife with the over-stated stereotypes and just hilarious to watch!  The original Hairspray is a cult classic, and Cry Baby starring Johnny Depp is right up there!  Set in the 50s, you get romance and the classic battle between the classes – the good kids (the Squares) and the bad kids (the Drapes).  It’s kind of like Elvis meets Grease in a trailer park if it were run by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark!!  Once you start watching, you can’t look away; guaranteed, you’ll still find something fun in here!

Anytime you can break into song for absolutely no reason and it still makes sense in a funny sort of way is OK by me!  Johnny Depp is great as Cry Baby Walker…pin-up boy cute as in his former 21 Jump Street phase.  Iggy Pop, Ricky Lake, Poly Bergen, Willem DaFoe (in one of his earliest roles), Traci Lords and Kim McGuire.

hatchet-face1Who??  Kim McGuire – she is a bit-part character actress who plays Mona “Hatchet Face” Malnorowski in this movie.  the character was described by John Waters as a woman with “the body of Jayne Mansfield and the face of Margaret Hamilton!”  I love the interchange between Hatchetface and the judge in the courtroom scene:

Judge:  “And you, Miss Malnorowski,  that’s a shame about your face.”

Hatchetface:  “There’s nothing wrong with my face…I got character!”

Yes, you do!  Go girl!

 Mars-Attacks-dvd-coverMars Attacks!  

3 words:  “Ack, ACK-ack!”

One of the best Sci-Fi spoofs EVER!  An all-star cast of established and 1996’s up & coming actors really make this a fun flick!

Expect serious CAMP and a send-up of some of the greatest/worst sci-fi & horror films ever made.   Ed Wood and Roger Corman would be so proud!  Don’t expect Shakespeare, or some deep, meaningful script with an end message.  Just watch it and have fun!!!  (Watch for the several homages to some of the best and/or worst classic sci-fi/horror films ever, like The Brain Who Would Not Die, Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, etc.)

Remember…just because Martians make the International Sign of the Donut doesn’t mean they come in peace!  (Watch the movie…You’ll understand!)

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Drop Dead Gorgeous dvdIf you grew up in a small town, annual risky-dink festivals came with the territory!  (Hey!  You had to have something to do other than go to the bakery and watch the bread dough rise!)  Every festival needs a queen or princess to reign over it, so that means beauty pageant!  Now, set the film in rural Minnesota!  The accents alone make me giggle as I write this!

The “mockumentary” film style is like reality TV:  It’s Honey-Boo-Boo meets Toddlers with Tiaras for young adult girls – both high school and college (OK….Maybe a little Duck Dynasty in there, too).  Kind of a scary mix, but hilarious; don’t be afraid.

Anyway, I won’t give away anymore, other than to say the talent sequences and the scenes featuring the one pageant judge’s brother is wet-yourself funny!!  What he does in the background of some of these scenes is worth the price of the DVD!  Added Bonus:  For those raised in the northern Midwest, you’ll totally get the inside jokes.  You’re in for a real treat, oh, you betchya!

JJFJumping Jack Flash

Whoopi Goldberg in an accidental spy-flick with Jonathan Pryce, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, James Belushi and Stephen Collins!  Amazingly funny one-liners throughout and some of the best physical comedy by the Whoop-ster you’ll ever see!!  Critics hated it; I loved it!  (Don’t judge!!)  She did wonders for sales of red Reebok high-tops after this flick.

So, go ‘head…Grab some sunglasses and sing along with “Blind Terri Doolittle,” as she sings da blues…”I want me a Jack (bom-bom, bom-bom) I want him come back (mom-bom, bom-bom)…”  Just a classic 80s comedy.

WARNING:  Whoopi drops the F-bomb…a lot!

Finally, one of the great guilty pleasures of all…(drum roll, please!)…

5fVCzrzm3EjSxKnO7YFHMTvMY1eSo, I Married An Axe Murderer!

O.  M.  G.    Mike Myers is PURE GENIUS in this movie!  This is almost as good as the first Austin Powers movie!  Dual roles as the protagonist, Charlie and as his father, Stuart are totally with watching the entire movie! It’s quirky, funny, and filled with so many great lines for any occasion.  Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Alan Arkin and Brenda Fricker round out the cast to perfection.  You won’t be disappointed!

I have several friends that, when we get together, either in person, on the phone, or even via Facebook, if this movie gets a mention at anytime, it will set off a steady stream of movie quotes that guarantees one of us is gonna be in tears from laughing!  you’ll be part of the club instantly!!  (Princess Bride does the same thing!)

Please…Join us!!!!  Watch the movie…It’s a hoot!  You’ll be dropping “A Piper is down!  We have a piper down!” before you know it!


Like I said, these are just a few of my all-time favorites.  I have more.  I didn’t mention all of mine, as the list would be too danged long!   I should mention, I have a penchant for WWII war movies, too!  In Harm’s Way with John Wayne and Patricia Neal, Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, and Kelly’s Heroes with Clint Eastwood and the best cast of Hollywood’s greatest character actors, just to name a few more.  Don’t forget the old movie musicals and Busby Berkeley movies!  Give me Carmen Miranda in platform shoes and a fruit basket on her head with a lot of dance numbers and that “let’s put on a show for the troops” storyline and I am hooked.

You probably have a string of your own guilty pleasures, too.  I’d love to hear some of your faves…What can’t you pass up if it’s on?  Let me know!  We can cross reference our files!!!

Happy viewing!   Peace!






In the words of Frankenstein, “Fire! BAD!”

In the words of Frankenstein, “Fire! BAD!”      Fire Bad!

I have never lived in an area where fire has destroyed so much in such a short time! WOW!

Washington State (along with Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Northern California) has been crushed by the deluge of fires in our area…Eastern WA to be specific. At present, roughly 20 individually named fires burn free with little containment east of the Cascades! We’ve lost so much of our beautiful national forest areas.

Take a look at some of these numbers from today on some of the most watched fires in our area (source: InciWEB):

  • Kettle Complex fire (Northern Ferry County, near the British Columbia border):
    • Consists of – the Stickpin, Graves Mountain, Roy Road & Renner Lake fires
    • Nearly 60,000 acres burned
    • 16% contained
    • Lightening caused
  • Kaniksu Complex (on the WA/Idaho Panhandle border, near Cusick & Usk, WA):
    • Consists of – includes the Tower and Baldy fires plus 4 others
    • Roughly 11,000 acres burned
    • Only 5% contained
  • North Star Fire (North central WA State – near Colville Tribe Reservation)
    • Human Caused – under investigation
    • Now at Approx. 170,000 acres burned
    • 17% contained, with HEAVY smoke in the area and on-going evacuations and road closures as needed
    • “No relief in sight” per the WA State DNR.  On-going Level 3 Evacuations as this beast grows
  • Carpenter Rd. Fire (near Fruitland, WA, in Stevens Co. on the Spokane Tribe Reservation)
    • Estimated 44,000 acres burned
    • Cause unknown
    • 25% contained

And the two biggies…

  • Okanogan Complex Fire (Central WA):
    • Over 280,000 acres burned
    • 17% contained
    • LOTS of evacuations throughout the area to-date; threatening several more towns
    • Lightening caused
  • Chelan Complex Fire (Central WA):
    • Around 90,000 acres lost
    • 40% contained
    • Consists of the Reach, Black Canyon, McFarland Creek, Cagle and Antoine fires and others
    • On-going Level 3 evacuations as fire expands

Two words: Nasty business!!!  Winds are supposed to pick up this weekend, as well as the threat of thunder storms.  Lightening would not be helpful!  We definitely need the rain, though!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!

The pictures here were taken from a friend of mine who’s house sat within 15o feet of the Twisp River Fire, a part of the Okanogan Complex Fire.

twisp fire 081915 - House from SW

The house! Saved by the Grace of God Almighty!!

The hill behind the house - looks like a volcano erupting!

The hill behind the house – looks like a volcano erupting!

Scary stuff, right?   

All the smoke from the surrounding fires, like this one, have made the air quality just nasty in Spokane.

These are pictures I took from near my house in Spokane.  You can see how that smoke hangs  in the air, like perpetual fog that smells like a big campfire!  Yikes!


Smoky skies over Costco – around 3pm!


Heading towards downtown Spokane.

Can't breathe, but ljust LOOK at that sunset!!!

Can’t breathe, but just LOOK at that sunset!!!

Needless to say, Sleepy Spokane remains safe for the moment, with fires a good 35-100 miles away in each direction. Sounds pretty good, right? Better than having flames all up in your stuff! Sort of!  As you can see, when the wind blows, we get the smoke andAirQualityTable dust our way.  In the past few weeks, we’ve been vacillating between “unhealthy for some” to Very unhealthy” in terms of particle pollution measurements.

Even though the fires are miles away from us, the effects are pretty hazardous. OY! Can you imagine what it must be like for those in the fire line?  their Particulate Pollution counts are in the 300s!  It’s like living in Beijing!  I pray that the fire teams can get a handle on this soon.

Oh, the humanity!!!

In times of crisis, we have a choice: Either we can:

  1. Jump in and help however we can, or
  2. Look the other way and pretend we don’t see the needs of others.

How proud it makes me to see more people choosing A than B! It restores my faith in mankind every time I see an outpouring of compassion and love for someone else in need! Whether somebody makes a donation to the Red Cross, or a food bank, or of clothing to any one of the thrift stores, I am humbled!

How great we can be as a culture, a society, a nation when we band together to help one another rather than fight each other, disrespect each other and/or purposefully oppress another for our own gain. But that’s another blog topic!

If you choose to help, FANTASTIC! Just please, research the charities you intend to send $$$ to the cause. Unfortunately, in times of crisis, we also have the pariahs charityof the world out looking to make a quick buck on the misfortune of others! Do your research before you send money! (I chair the annual local fund drive at my State office building – the WA State Combined Fund Drive – to help WA State workers raise funds for various charities, both locally, state and nation-wide. If you’re looking for a legit place and need some assistance, let me know! I’ll see what I can find out for you!)

Much Thanks!

So many have come to the aid of the Pacific Northwest to help! Since Gov. Inslee declared a state of emergency, we have relief troops coming our way…THANK GOD!!!

From the local firefighters to contracted fire teams, from the military to various government agencies in WA State…Even locals with nothing more than a shovel and a garden hose. Everyone seems to pitch in when crisis happens.

Thanks so much for your concern and continued prayers, not just for those battling the fires but also for the ones who have lost homes, land, etc. Also, I ask that you please say an extra round for the families of the firefighters we recently lost in the battle.

Overall, we have a lot for which to still be thankful. I actually heard some people at work talking about the fires, asking where God is that He should “allow this devastation to happen.” I couldn’t respond, as I am not allowed to “pontificate” my faith on State time.

I wanted to explain to them just where I felt God was. I wanted to say, “Oh…He’s there, my friends! He’s there!” He’s there in the hearts of those who have shown remarkable compassion and agape` love to help feed and house those who lost everything. He’s there in the heart of each and every firefighter.  He’s hanging out in the Omak Home Depot  and every other place that opened their doors to all the suddenly homeless so they would have shelter. And He’s there in the lawyer who went out and bought a fire truck so he could help his neighbors save their homes. (Read about him here!)  Oh, yeah…He’s there!

So, continue to pray, do a rain dance, etc. for the Pacific Northwest. This is the worst we’ve seen since, like, 1910. I could go that long again without seeing it again. Just sayin’!


God bless!

Camping Season is HERE!! Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad!

This is How We Roll!The RV is geared up & loaded back up for the season. All we need is the food and frosty beverages, now, for a weekend of happy, happy, happy!!  Good thing June is National Camping Month!!

I love to camp! OK…I can’t do the tent-sleep-on-the-ground-pee-in-a-hole-no-shower kind of camping anymore, but I still like to camp. I love the get-a-way it provides. (Although, in a slick RV, I should really classify it more like “glamping” than camping!)

My husband Chad & I bought our rig in late August 2013 and haven’t looked back! It’s really too bad that work gets in the way of having a really good time! Ha! Actually, we already did the inaugural camp trip of the season earlier this month. We took our daughter, Kim with us and had a quick but really fun time!  she helped Dad do the outdoor set-up while I worked on readying the inside.   Chad is the King of the Checklist, so, I must say, it makes it pretty easy to remember most everything to do and in what order.  (You can pull the boy out of Quality Control for the weekend, but you can’t pull the Quality Control out of the boy!!)

Scouts Aren’t the Only Ones to “Be Prepared!” We have discovered that even a short, weekend trip – close by the homestead, but far enough away from the daily grind – allows us the opportunity to make sure we have all our ducks in a row for the big trips we plan for the rest of the summer. Ensuring our electrical, water and sewer connections, the slide-out, LP gas tank and connections, generator and any other systems all function properly becomes the main focus to the first trip out. I can also make a list of everything I may have forgotten so I don’t screw that up next time, or on a really big trip!…It happens, even when you try so hard not to forget stuff!

This year, we had a solar panel placed on our rig. Just a small ZAMP unit, but enough to give usrv solar the trickle charge on the house battery should we go dry-camping. That’s a pretty slick little deal, by the way! So far, we’ve only used it while loading the rig and prepping for the past trip. We ran the house power and TV for about 4 hours on a beautiful, sunny day, and barely made a dent in the battery charge, thanks to the panel. Gotta love that!  Plus it’ll come in handy if we ever decide to camp at a Walmart!

Chad also changed out all the house lights and the map lights in the cockpit to LED lights. What a difference in the amp-usage in the rig! Keeps it cooler, too! He found a great website that manufactures and sells all kinds of LED lights; just about anything your rig (and other vehicles) has, with three color ranges, reasonable prices and fast delivery. (If you’re interested, check out M4 Products, a company out of California.)

Nothing Better Than People-Watching at the Campground! I must admit, I love to people-watch while we camp! It’s like being at the mall, only with tents and campers! You see everything – and I do mean everything!

We once watched an older couple set up their  table & chairs, astroturf mat, awning and a huge (area-wise) fence on their site for their four, little, poop-n-bark dogs – only to spend one night pet fenceon the campsite and pack it all up early the next day to leave! That’s a lot of work for an overnight stay! We figured they were there for a few days, the way they put out their spread!

During a big wind storm in Northern Idaho, we had brought in our awning so the wind would not rip it off our rig. There were gusts of 30-35 mph and a pretty strong 10-15 mph wind otherwise. This lady kept bugging her husband to put their awning out so it would give her shade. She didn’t want the sun in her eyes. We must have listened to them argue about it for over an hour. The guy kept telling her that it was too windy for the awning and it would be blown off the rig. She insisted that “this is why they have the awning de-flappers” – they were meant to keep the awning from blowing all over. Well, the guy finally succumbed to his wife’s ill-advised wishes, grumbling all the way. Within five minutes, a good gust came a long and bent the awning frame backward over the top of their Big Class A! Snapped on of the retracting arms right off. He was pissed!! She went inside and came back out with a martini for herself!! We’ve laughed at that for over a year, now!!!

Then there was the time we walked in on three 14-year olds (one boy and two girls) as they were skinny dipping in the KOA hot tub! That was interesting! OY! (Chad was so embarrassed!! And a good boy…He made a bee-line to the exit and didn’t even look!) The camp personnel ended up posting a person at the tub because these girls kept doing it! Kids! Makes ya want to have a million of them! Also…Where were their parents? No one under 16 is allowed in the hot tub without a parent! Sheesh! (OMG! I sound just like my mother!!!)

Most often, people are super nice and fun when you encounter them in the camp areas. But we have come across some undesirable neighbors…Like the drunken, obnoxious college kids at an RV Resort on Bead Lake, here in WA State. It was supposed to be a really great place. We got there early on a Thursday for a long weekend, squeezed into our tiny, over-crowded camping space, and began to set up. The first sign of “Oh, Hell no!” should have been when the security team that escorted us to our site warned us about the tent campers behind us; a group of about 20 college in a colony of five tents with coolers full of booze and their daddy’s boats! They kept walking through the camp sites, would plug in their cell chargers in to other peoples electrical, and were just totally rude with no regard for other campers (me being the quiet, petite-flowere that I am, i almost got into a fight with one of the drunk guys…I could’ve taken his candy-butt!)  We kept a count as to how many threw up each night! It was like dinner and a show, only a really gross show!! The “best” part of the weekend was the dork who announced every drunken activity with a megaphone and blaring his f-bomb laced music over the Big A$$ speakers on daddy’s boat! Many complained, management did nothing, so we left early and will never go back! (I gave them a scathing review on several sites, too – the lowest I could give!  Again…sounding like my mother!)

Finally, the nasty habits of people come out while camping. More like when breaking camp and visiting imagesCAH7XZRAthe dump station. Do you know how many people empty their rig’s black water tanks without wearing gloves??? EW, people!! Just EW!   You are handling your own fecal matter! I watched one guy hook up his drippy sewer hose to the dump station and then immediately wipe his face, then wipe his hands on his shirt and pants! I nearly hurled! Wear gloves!!!   This is how disease is spread in a lot of third-world countries! We have the fortune of fresh water and gloves! Use them, for crying out loud!!! Amazing to me!

Nice Rig If You Can Get It! In our people-watching, comes also the observation of the different rigs people have. They come in all sizes, designs and ages, too. It’s kind of fun to contrast and compare what others have and what we have, not to critique others, but to pro & con the various rigs, the potential amenities, etc…Especially with the newer rigs. I also like to see the rigs that are obviously more than a few years old. It is a reminder of how far RVing has come over time.

But it’s not only the rigs, but the gadgets and gizmos people come up with for their camp site! Hilarious stuff like these:


Now, THIS takes genius!!!  All you need is a 5-gallon bucket, a tall kitchen garbage bag and a swiming noodle and you have yourself a instant crapper!  And the handle doubles as a toilet paper holder!





Or, if you prefer a more stable pooper, get a milk crate and oilet seat…      Attach to the lined bucket and viola!



camp chair potty


Of course, a cheap, plastic chair works great, too!

Personally, I think I’ll stick to the potty in my RV!


Camp Hand Washing Station



This, however, I thought was genius!! Especially for those who tent camp or don’t do the full hook-ups thing. It’s a hand washing station made out of an old liquid laundry soap container! GENIUS!!!




To Tow, Or Not To Tow….That Is the Question! When we go camping, we usually have a car with us, too, since it really isn’t practical to pack up the motorhome each time you want to go into town, or sight-seeing while on your trip! Since we went from tent to Motorhome ownership a few years ago, we have been curious as to what we can safely tow. We were under the assumption that a Class C Gas motor home would not easily pull our 2012 Ford Escape, as the tow capacity was 5,000 lbs. We figured it would be too heavy. So we have had Chad driving the RV and me following in the car, or we just rent a car when we get to our destination, if we need one. Kind of a hassle!

Over the past few weeks, we saw several Class Cs pulling Small to Medium SUVs like ours. Made us go, “Hmmmmmmmmm!” So we are going this weekend to not only weigh our Escape with the bikes and bike rack on back, but also a full tank of gas in her. If we find it is under say, 3,800 lbs, next year’s de-winterizing visit to RNR RV will be to add a tow package to the SS Maranatha!! No more driving the RV and me following in the car, communicating on the walkie-talkies!

Needless to say, we are ready for adventure this summer! Buying the motorhome has been a great experience. Is appeals to both Chad’s and my nomadic spirit. It will be something we continue together after retirement years finally get here. We may upgrade to something larger with newer features since we’ll be living in it more often by then.

The point is, God created such a big beautiful world for us to live in; we look forward to getting out there and exploring it…one summer at a time.

See you on the road somewhere!

Sunset in Newport, WAI-90 Along the Clark Fork River, Eastern Montana


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