Belly Up to a Body Bar


Several weeks ago I told you about shampoo bars from Apple Valley Natural Soap. Well I’ve also started using their body bars, and love those as well. My skin hasn’t felt this clean, soft and moisturized in ages and it never feels like there is any residual on my skin. My favorite (so far) is the Coconut Soap Bar. It lathers up really well, which is important to me as I shave in the shower and find it difficult to do that if a soap doesn’t lather well but this bar is amazing. It doesn’t have much of a scent, which is fine, I’m happier with the sudsing. There are also shaving specific bars for men.  It also seems like the bars last a long time. My husband and I are both using the bar, and I had really expected we’d have gone through it by now, but there is a lot left, and we started with only a half bar!  While their regular items are great, they also have items that are seasonal but be aware that seasonal means “when they’re gone, they’re gone.” I’ve just ordered some winter bars with extra moisturizers in them, which most of us that live in the midwest are desperate for this time of year.  The other bar that I love is their Kitchen Salt and Spice Bar. This is fantastic for washing your hands after you’ve worked with onions or garlic to get the smell off. I keep it next to the sink on a soap mat so that it doesn’t get all mushy. (Those little soap mats are fantastic too, I have 2 in the shower!)

I also recently ordered Vanilla Tangerine whipped body butter, and oh my God. I can’t decide if I like this more because it makes my skin feel awesome, or for how it smells. When I first put it on, I could swear I smelled chocolate and my husband thought it smelled like fresh cookies. After I looked at the ingredients again, I realized I was smelling the cocoa butter and thought, yeah, that’s what’s making me want to lick my arm. Repeatedly. It’s like a slice of heaven in winter, and I just ordered a second tub of it. Their Shea Butter is great too, although it’s different than the body butter. I am using that more on my hands to try to keep winter dry skin at bay. It’s more like a semi-solid but softens up with the warmth of your skin.

The company works hard at being eco friendly and sustainable. Their packaging reflects that – my cousin ordered some liquid Castile hand soap (that smelled unbelievable), and it came in the most unique packaging, made out of bamboo and sugarcane pulp. It’s 98% biodegradable, according to their site. I have also ordered a Christmas edition of the liquid hand soap, and if you’re a fan of foaming soap they say right on the site you can dilute their soap to work in foaming dispensers. The other thing that is unique about them is that so far for me, at least, each order has come with a small sample of a soap. So far each one has been unique, and has been something I haven’t already tried. I don’t know if that’s coincidence or careful planning and smart marketing, but from what I have been able to pick up about Marianne so far I’ll go with careful planning and smart marketing.

This is a great site on which to do some Christmas shopping. They’re great at making sure if something is out of stock they apply a banner stating that and some things are but there are lots of things in stock. I wouldn’t suggest waiting too long or the limited edition/seasonal offerings will be gone.  If you go to the section for gifts you can also purchase a gift box and you’re shopping is done! Order now and avoid the Christmas rush, and also ensure that it will arrive well in advance of Christmas. Plus get some goodies for yourself…you deserve to be pampered, and this is a fine way to do it. Curl up with a book, a cup of cocoa after you’ve slathered body butter over yourself and bask in the scents.



A New Way to ‘Poo…Shampoo That Is!

Several years ago, I attended a silent auction/fundraiser for my niece’s sorority. They did a brunch every year, a kind of mother-daughter event with invitations extended to friends, close relatives, etc. I remember one year the speaker was a classmate of hers, a very young woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her talk was informative, educating us on the BRCA2 gene, as well as some surprising risk factors. One of those risk factors was something called Parabens, which are commonly found in things like shampoo, conditioner, liquid soaps, etc. While I paid attention to her, I also didn’t make any changes to my personal care routines.

About 6 weeks ago I was reading some random articles and found an interesting one that has made me rethink my choices about personal care, initially for a different reason. The article was about using shampoo bars, and why they make so much more sense than traditional shampoo. First, traditional shampoo is primarily water, and second, it’s packaged in a plastic container. So, you’re paying for something you don’t need, and getting it in a package you need to throw away (or preferably recycle, but realistically, most people don’t do that.) I started thinking about it, and figured what the heck, why not try it. The speech from my niece’s classmate came back to me, and since we have some rare cancers in my family I thought it would be smart from the perspective of my health.  I was really lucky to discover that one of the companies featured in the article is not only local for me, but 15 minutes from my home.

Apple Valley Natural Soaps has a wonderful variety of shampoo bars, body bars, lotions, rinses, and other natural care products. They also have an informative blog to help you understand the products and how to select the right one, their philosophy of caring for yourself with natural products, and a great business model. After doing some research, I dove in. I ordered several different samples of shampoo bars ($3 each) and a soap mat (use one of these for your soap so the water drains off and doesn’t make your bar all mushy) and started using them.

Do you remember the last time your hair was actually squeaky clean? I didn’t, but from the first time I used their bar, my hair squeaked. Literally, squeaked. It took a couple of times of washing for my hair to settle in but it’s at the point now where I have minimal tangling in the shower, or afterwards. I don’t use a traditional conditioner anymore either, just their acidic rinse once a week. That’s all. My hair is so crazy soft. Why I waited so long to change to shampoo bars is beyond me. Now my biggest problem is picking out the right bar. (One thing to be aware of, these shampoo bars don’t work unless you have soft water, and I definitely noticed a difference in sudsing when our softener salt was low.)header 7

One of the things I love about this company is that it’s doing well enough to have a great variety of products, but is small enough that the owner, Marianne Buck is involved and hands-on with all parts of the business. Last week I sent her an email with a recommendation for an addition to the information about her shampoo bars, and a few hours later she had not only responded but said she liked the idea and would work on implementing it. And if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, she offers local pick up so that you can save on shipping. Their turn around time is quick too, which is nice. They’re also very customer centric – after I placed my order, I realized I’d selected the wrong shampoo bar, and as I prepared to email her about it, I got the email that my order was ready. I sent Marianne an email anyhow and asked if she would be willing to change out the bar, and she replied that she was more than willing to do that. I had also let her know when I ordered that I was getting the Camping bar for my husband, as he was preparing for a camping trip, so could I have it by a certain date? She filled my order in plenty of time for me to get it for him to bring along.

I don’t know about you, but companies with outstanding customer service are rare, and Apple Valley Natural Soap definitely is one of those. In the interest of full disclosure, I did sign up to be an affiliate with them, but only because I really love these products, if you hadn’t figured that out already. If you’ve thought about trying a shampoo bar but weren’t sure if it was something you’d like, give this company a try. All of the reviews I’ve read have been outstanding. Buy some sample bars to try them out and see what you think. Click here to go to the site. I’d love to hear if you try out their products and what you think.



Staying Virus Free

It’s a frightening time to be in our world, isn’t it? Many of us in developed countries have heard the word pandemic, but never really expected to be living smack dab in the middle of one. After all, we have great health care (not always affordable, but that’s an argument for another day), food, shelter, (most of us), and can do fun things like going to a library to read books by our favorite medical authors (it’s a great time to discover Carrie Rubin). Now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, we are overwhelmed by life as dictated by COVID19.

I’m lucky that in my day job I get information about COVID almost as fast as it changes, so I’ve pulled some of the most relevant things together here for everyone. I’m guessing by now most of this isn’t new, but even refreshers are good.  If you have a blog, please feel free to repost and share. If you have information that I didn’t include, let me know and I’ll update the post. Disclaimer: While I’ll share what I’ve learned and will include links to the CDC or WHO sites, please confirm all information for yourself. I am not taking responsibility if you don’t clean well enough or don’t fully educate yourself, nor am I a replacement for the CDC or your state’s Department of Health.

If you’re wondering why it’s called COVID19, that comes from COronaVIrus Disease 2019. Well, I suppose they had to abbreviate it somehow, and that’s probably as good as any. It’s primarily spread through droplets, meaning if I have it (regardless of whether or not I have symptoms) and I cough and send invisible droplets with the virus out into the air, if you inhale some, or land on surfaces you touch, and you then touch your mouth, nose, eyes etc, you can get it too. Symptoms of the virus can be found here at the CDC website and I’d rather you go there for specific and expert advice on that because they can vary.

Here’s a little info about COVID19, it’s what is called an envelope virus, meaning it has an outer covering that can be disrupted. If it is, it dies. Soap will disrupt it, as will alcohol and peroxide, and potentially heat and low humidity. So lathering up your hands, breaks up that envelope, and washes off the virus. The CDC recommends both cleaning AND disinfecting surfaces. You can use soap and water to clean, then something else to disinfect. And of course THAT’s where it can be difficult, because we all know that bleach and sanitizing wipes have been in very short supply. I’m starting to see them back in the supplies again but amounts you can purchase are limited. One thing to note: Pay attention with the wipes for how long they need to be in contact with a surface to be effective, as it varies. Some are 30 seconds, others are 4 minutes. How do you know? Keep reading.

There was an interesting article on CNN recently about the published list of acceptable disinfectants against COVID19. You can find that list here  by clicking on the link for “the tool” and to use it you will need to know something called an EPA Registration Number. What’s that, you ask? Well, on each container of wipes there is some information on it that you NEVER paid attention to before, which is the EPA Registration number, or EPA REG NO. On my Target Up and Up branded wipes, it was on the front lower left, and looks like this:8D79B400-B4EB-4B20-979C-27A4300F1A3B

Everything like this that’s made is supposed to have a number, and here is the interesting part; with something like Up and Up, they don’t make their own product, it’s made for them by someone else. If that item has the identical formula as another product, then they have to have the same EPA REG NO, even if the brand names are different. So you can cross check wipes, liquids, gels, sprays, whatever is on the list to see if the number on your product is on here. If it is, then it’s an acceptable disinfectant for COVID19 according to the CDC. Remember to bookmark the site and recheck it too, I had looked for these wipes about 10 days ago and they were not on the list, and today they are.

When you enter the number you’ll see something like this:Screen Shot 2020-12-08 at 6.28.50 AMThat shows that it works for COVID, and that it needs to stay on the surface for 4 minutes to work. So make sure your surface is wet enough that it will stay wet for 4 full minutes, otherwise you might as well have not bothered. I also tried to look up my generic bleach, and found that it did not have an EPA number, so I searched by ingredient instead. What I found was that there is a variety of contact times for sodium hypochlorite (bleach) depending on brand. Who knew?

I’ve also learned that the virus lives pretty well on plastic and steel but not as well on cardboard or copper. This graphic from the New England Journal of Medicine (sourced from Business Insider) has helpful info:

Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 10.21.46 AM

It apparently can also live for a few days on fabric…so you might want to consider changing clothing when you get home if you’ve been out shopping and toss the others in the wash.

However here are some things I’ve learned about preventing the spread.

  • Wipe down groceries when you bring them in the house
  • Wash clothes in the hottest water you can, and with a bleach detergent if possible.
  • Dry several times on the hottest setting you can.
  • Wash. Your. Hands. Yes, really. Save the hand sanitizer folks, for when you go out. First of all, you can’t buy the damn stuff anyhow right now, why waste what you have. Second, the CDC has said that washing with soap and water for a good 20 seconds is MORE effective than sanitizer.

Amidst all this, don’t forget to be kind to each other, look out for each other, rest well, eat right and try to get outside and get exercise by walking or biking if you can. Remaining healthy both mentally and physically will help do a lot to keep your immune system functioning!

Oh yeah, and wear a damn mask. Just remember: DE2A4F83-BF81-4AF2-AFF5-1CC5B846B388

Saving on Prescriptions

No matter which side of the political aisle you sit on, and regardless of whether or not you support or want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one thing that I think most everyone seems to be in agreement on is that the cost of many of our prescription drugs has gotten out of hand. If you listen to the drug companies, they’ll give you dozens of reasons why that is, and while one or two may have some (and I use some very loosely) validity, most hold water about as well as your grandmother’s colander.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.01.54 AM

Illustration courtesy of

What amazes me however, is that for all of our ability to jump on the internet and rant about it, or tell heart wrenching stories about knowing someone who is rationing medication because they can’t afford it or worse, that someone died because they couldn’t afford their medication, there is still a gap in getting information out to the general public on how to find help to pay for medications. This is an issue that affects so many people, regardless of the kind of job you have, or your insurance because today so many employer driven health plans are high deductible plans, meaning deductibles need to be paid before the co-pays kick in and medications are a part of paying deductibles. I don’t know if it’s just that people don’t think there is anything out there for assistance, or it just doesn’t occur to them to look, but there are a number of ways that you may be able to find help with paying for medications, and I’ll share a few of them here that I’ve learned about. Please understand that this list isn’t an exhaustive list, nor am I receiving any kind of remuneration for mentioning any resources. Rather I’m an RN and former case manager, and want to try to share a little of what I’ve learned over the past months and years.

One of my “go-to” resources is GoodRx. This is a free site/app that is available to anyone, and you may have even seen one of their displays in your doctor’s office (their cards have a yellow strip across the top). While GoodRx will tell you it’s not insurance, for most of us out here it sort of acts a lot like it. To get an ID number than can be used by everyone in the family, just grab one of the cards, or go to their website and sign up for free. Once you sign up you can download the app and log into that and you’re all set to go, it will link to the account you signed up to online and provide the ID number back to the app. Show the number on your app to your pharmacy. They will run your prescription through GoodRx and apply any discounts. Some are more substantial than others, and you should only have to do it the first time you fill a prescription with it. I generally ask if the price of the drugs seems higher than I expect, just to be sure as once in a while they forget, but most of the time they do it automatically as it’s in the system.

After downloading the app on your phone, you can enter the name and dose of any drug, add your zip code and it will look up the cost of the drug at pharmacies in your area (you can also do this on the website). Where that can be helpful is if you’re sitting in your doctor’s office, and you know you have something that’s expensive, your doctor can send that prescription to the pharmacy where you’ll get the deepest discount.

Two others that you can try are and While I haven’t used either of these, I do know they are out there. An internet search on “discount pharmacy cards” or “discount prescription program” will bring up others as well. One caveat to using GoodRx, and I suspect the other programs, is that you can only use them in conjunction with commercial insurance (meaning, you need to be insured with your employer). If you have some sort of state plan like Medical Assistance or Medicare, you generally can’t use the discount cards.

Another way you may be able to save on the cost of medication is directly from the manufacturer. I recently wanted to refill a medication that I knew would cost me over $600 with the discount card! Since that was cost-prohibitive for us right now, I went to the manufacturer’s website, and found a coupon there that would allow me to get the medication for $15!  If I remember correctly, there was a limit on the number of refills per year, but that was fine as I don’t refill it frequently so I would have been able to work with that. (I ended up not using it, as we had an insurance change before I could fill it.)

A final possibility is with your pharmacy directly, and this was a new one to me. You can’t turn on television, radio or hop on the internet these days without hearing about the Opioid crisis, and some of the steps that are being taken to combat it are moving closer to our everyday lives. Some pharmacies are now not honoring the discount cards for any drugs that would fall into what the FDA has classified as a “scheduled” drug, meaning they watch how it’s dispensed more closely as it has some level of potential for abuse. There are five levels of scheduled drugs, with things like Heroin and Ecstasy being Level I and Robitussin with Codeine being Level V, to give you an idea. However, I know of at least one pharmacy that developed their own discount coupon so that their clients would still be able to afford the medication.

I know that this isn’t an exhaustive help list, and folks are still likely to fall through the giant crevices in our healthcare system. But please, share this with everyone you know, so that if it helps just a few people better afford their medication, it’s worth it.

Who Really Uses Customer Wisdom?

After I woke up one recent morning, I looked out on the foggy backyard just waiting for enough warmth of sun to make it all go away. I had my first cup of coffee, and got out a new box of cereal, then opened the bag and r-r-rip! Right down the side about halfway. Grrr. Has anyone else ever done that? So that got me to thinking…with all of the changes that I see in packaging these days, and the addition of “zip closures” to so many things – chips, rice, frozen foods, pita bread, shredded cheese, the list can go on and on – why haven’t major cereal manufacturers figured this one out yet? I mean seriously? Oh some have, the generic, bagged cereals, but not the boxed ones. Not everyone is a family of 5 and going through a box of cereal a day, and even if they were a family of 5, they probably would have a variety of cereals anyhow! I’m guessing that people probably do what we do, which is to add a bag clip to the package, unless you have a day like today and then you have to empty the contents into a zip lock bag, or, they just transfer everything into a plastic container with a pour top and dispense from that. When my family had a cabin we had to do that, otherwise dry cereal became stale very quickly from the humidity.  So Quaker Oats, General Mills, Kellogg and others, I’m talking to you! Start putting cereal in resealable bags in your boxed cereals. Think of the great marketing you can do with that!! Not everyone is a big family, but I think everyone wants value for their dollar and HATES to waste food. On the other hand, when we have to throw out stale cereal it means we have to buy more than we planned for, so profits go up. Hmmm, no wonder why they don’t use the resealable bags…

Here’s another rant for you. I love coffee, and buy beans to grind for brewing. We usually buy the large bag of Dunkin’ Donuts because it tastes good and is a good price and I don’t mind the free plug I’m giving them. (“Hey Dunkin’, yoo-hoo!”) BUT…they do have one thing I have a problem with, and I actually sent them an email about it maybe a year ago. They sent me a generic “thank you for your concern” and some coupons in response, but to date I’ve never seen a fix. Here’s the deal. Take a look at the pictures below:








Note that the bag comes with a nice twist tie attached for you to use to reseal the bag after you open it. Handy, right? Except…they attach the twist tie just below the spot on the bag where it’s sealed shut, and it’s not like you can open the seal by separating it with your hands. Nope, you need to cut the bag open with a scissors, so you have to cut off the top part of the bag, below the seal, and you end up cutting off the twist tie. You then have to go back, pull the tie OFF the part you just cut off to be able to use it. My suggestion to them was to glue it lower on the bag so you could cut between the twist tie and the seal, and then the tie would stay attached to the bag, letting you just roll down the top (like a competitor does) and you can’t loose it. Simple! The current way is a pain, especially at 5:30 in the morning, trying to open a new bag while I’m still half asleep.

Quite a few years ago, when we had a home on a wooded lot, we treated ourselves to a birdfeeder called a “Yankee Flipper”. It’s a squirrel-proof feeder, and if you’ve never heard of it, go to YouTube and look it up, there are some hilarious videos out there. When we moved to our new house we didn’t use it for a while, because we didn’t have squirrels. Now we do so I dug it out but the battery no longer holds a charge. It’s a nickel cadmium battery, and as you probably know over time if you don’t use them, they won’t charge. I contacted the company, and yes, you can buy a new “power stick”, which is the battery and motor unit…for $90! (A new feeder is $165 now).  But…and here is the big problem I have. When I asked them if the batteries are nickel cadmium, or if they have upgraded to nickel metal hydride or lithium, they told me they are still NiCad. WHAT? You want me to pay $90 for something that I know will go bad again, so I can pay that much for it one more time? Um, how about no? So my husband and I did what the little power stick said not to. “Do Not Open This…Your Warranty Will Be Void If You Do”. Well it was out of warranty years ago. So we opened it, figured out what kind of NiCad batteries they were, did some internet sleuthing, and ordered them along with some wire glue so they could be connected the same way the originals were. Total costs with shipping? $22.67.

Kudos to a company too, since I can’t complain ALL the time. I absolutely LOVE the new top on the Advil for Arthritis bottles. It’s a bit larger and has a scalloped edge, making it easier to grasp if you have arthritis, which I’m starting to feel in my hands. I keep one in each level of my house and just refill from a larger bottle.

So apparently one company did listen to their customers, but will others? Is sure seems that if it helps customers but hurts their bottom line, we’ll never see that change, so we can probably kiss the sealable cereal bag goodbye. I still have hope for Dunkin’ Donuts though.  Any of you have suggestions for manufacturers, changes you’d like to see?

A Moment in Time

Looking back…the moment lost…we forget….

How often do we think back to something and think “I wish I had a picture of that?” Back in the day, we had the convenient excuse of forgetting to bring our camera,  but since most of us now have smart phones, we have a camera all the time . So that old excuse really doesn’t work so much anymore, does it (unless you’re like I was the other day and completely forgot to even bring my phone along)?We have no excuse to miss that moment. So what’s the problem?

I was glancing back through our pictures of our trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota last fall, and a hike we took up to Harney Peak. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s not a hike for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of climbing, some of it over roots, trees, rocks, boulders, sand, and goes from about 6100-7100 feet of elevation. And in the middle, you actually go downhill, just to have to go back uphill again.

At the summit is a stone lookout tower that was used for fires, and the view is incredible. You can see a long distance view of the tower in the photo at the lower right…yep, we had a LONG climb to get there! As you can see, we had cameras along and took pictures. Word to the wise, if you do this hike, do it on a cool day, take snacks and plenty of water, and start early in the day. If you’re in good shape, this is under a 4 hour hike. Shape not so good? Plan on 6 hours. We made it in about 4.5 hours, although I have no idea how. (Sheer stubbornness would be my best guess. )

As we neared the top, we met larger groups of people coming down with what seemed like ridiculously happy grins on their faces – which I would understand a short time later – and they all were saying things like “you can do it” and “you’re almost there”. I can remember I was so tired and feeling like I couldn’t do it, that I wanted to slap that stupid grin right off their faces. Then we started to notice that the boulders were different, more like big smooth slabs, and all of a sudden we were ducking under a big stone archway, before turning and seeing the end, and _MG_3004then there it was, with only about 50 more steps to go. The end. Still steep, but doable.






I got a lovely little screen shot of my “What’s My Altitude” app too! While it didn’t show the air temperature, I remember it was a bit cooler, and you can see that the boiling point of water was lower.


You know, two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to even do an hour of this climb, let alone the whole thing. I remember going to Scottsdale, AZ, and sitting down partway up the “easy side” of Camelback, waiting for my husband while he climbed to the top, because I was so overweight then, and there was no way I could do it. But this trip, being healthier, thinner and in much better shape, I knew I could make it, and was determined to get to the top, stopping periodically for water breaks and snack breaks, but that was it. When we got there, oh, the view.


Isn’t that amazing? It looks out over 4 states, and if you walk around the station, you can see the backside of Mt Rushmore. We took photos of that, of some great big bird soaring around, all kinds of stuff. You know what view we don’t have? The one of me standing there, tears in my eyes, being completely overwhelmed with elation that I did it! I think hubby was going to and I seem to recall I didn’t want him to but I don’t remember why not. In retrospect, I wish he would have anyway. I would have loved to have captured that moment of energy and triumph shining through. Particularly because when I think back to that moment, that’s the feeling that I remember having…that my best self, right then, was completely and totally shining through. The tears, messy hair, sweaty skin and red face – those were badges of honor to be worn proudly, not hidden away. Silly me. What a missed Kodak moment, but a lesson learned, nonetheless.

So next time you want to push someone away when they want your picture, think twice about it. So what if you’re all sweaty, hair is a mess, face is covered in dirt. Maybe you don’t have on makeup, or your mascara is running down your cheeks…or your eyes are puffy…or your shirt is torn, or whatever. Who cares? Freeze that moment before it’s gone, because remember you can’t capture lightning in a bottle.

Betwixt and Between

I recently had a birthday. Note I didn’t say “celebrated”, so please don’t feel compelled to offer felicitations, congratulations, or other similar happy sentiments. I had it, I’m over it. I’m becoming ‘a woman of a certain age’, and each year I’m less happy about it, and I can admit it freely. It’s a confounding state to find oneself in…chronologically the calendar insists that I am eligble for senior discounts at restaurants, auto service centers, and other businesses, every morning before I get out of bed my joints tell me I’m older than dirt and I ought to be grateful I’m waking up on this side of it, but my spirit? I feel like I’m about 35 – there is still so much world out there! I want to explore new places I’ve never been in the world, flirt with 35 year-old waiters, and keep feeling like I have all the time in the world. I don’t want to be this age. I don’t like it one bit! I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! (picture me stomping my foot in protest, a la Herman Munster.)

“40 is the new 30”, we heard that one a few years ago, then along came “50 is the new 40”. In some ways it’s true, living in a world that is as connected as we are, with easy transportation and technology we can get places better and faster than generations before us could. There is work on new supersonic transport starting, and seeing watching “Planet Earth” a few years ago in high definition was pretty darned amazing. We can Skype with people halfway around the world from us to stay in immediate contact, instead of waiting weeks for letters.

And yet….

At 55, I have more gray hair than not (trust me when I tell you this, although I’m not ready to let you see it yet), the word “retirement” creeps into more conversations every year, friends have begun moving to southern climes to escape Minnesota winters, and when I recently sorted through things for a garage sale, I found myself becoming rather maudlin. While not a hoarder or pack rat, I have some things I’ve saved over the years that were special for one reason or another. A hand puppet my parents gave me, an old kerosene lantern that matches one my mother has and keeps at her cabin, some treasures from travels as a child, and other mementos. They’re stored in plastic bins and I look at them perhaps once every few years and have a moment or two of nostalgia, then don’t think about them again until the next time. I have no other reason to save them, no children to pass them along to. So what’s the point? Saving them for someone to have to throw away when I die? (Which of course makes me think about “if I died today, what would they find?” and my reaction is a cross between ‘ugh’ and ‘oh dear God’!)

It’s difficult being at an age of having to think about your own mortality when you don’t feel old inside and at least for me, it’s like having two personalities. One on each shoulder as it were, like the angel and the devil. “Go out, live life! Have some fun! Go sky dive, zip line!” says one. The other? “Stay home, organize, dust, save your money, put more into that Roth”. I also REALLY hate it when I run across a story about someone that decided to give it all up to live the dream. Why? Because I wish I had that kind of courage, and willingness to give up my creature comforts. So many days I could do it but then there are just so many more of the days that I’m not quit there. I’m not talking about Starbucks, or Macy’s. I couldn’t care less about that. But I have a lovely home and we’re having fun (most of the time) fixing it up and putting our signature on it, filled with tchotchkes and treasures we’ve collected. Well, ok, mostly what hubby has collected, that’s his deal. I’d put myself more in the bucket of ‘get a couple of things here and there that coordinate, but not a whole series’. While living the easy life on an island someplace sounds lovely, paring back to only  critical clothing, a few electronics, 3 houseplants and the 2 cats just isn’t me quite yet. I have to at least wait until my niece and nephew have homes of their own so I can pass along some of those “treasured heirlooms” to them, lucky ducks.

And I don’t want to think about any of that anyway…I’m only 35 for heaven’s sake. I have light-years of time ahead of me, don’t I? I can’t possibly be old enough to have a niece that just got married, it feels like I just held her in my arms as an infant for the first time last week. And only a moment has passed since I held my nephew for his baptism…that same nephew who is now getting ready to be a senior in college and just passed his second actuarial exam (smartie!) Yet I look at them, and am amazed at how many years have flown by. How did this happen? Dear God, how did I become one of those people who needs someone to do their pedicures because they can’t reach their own toes, or their arthritis is so bad they can’t do it themselves? I guess I should be grateful we don’t need to buy Efferdent and Polygrip, but still…

On a happier note, I AM celebrating something else.



It was my one year blog birthday on August 14. Here I am with 43 posts, and views in 26 countries later and still blabbing on. If I were going to have a cake, I imagine it would look like this one. Thank you to everyone for the encouragement, and stay tuned, there’s more to come. Remember, my brain says I’m only 35.

One final note, for all my blog buddies from Diane Henders’ blog “Probably Inappropriate” , as promised



Now where did I put that article on parasailing in the Sea of Cortez?





Driving 101

As many of you know, I’m the lucky recipient of a brand spanking new hip, which, for a number of reasons, has put me in a slightly different frame of mind over the last several weeks. Residual effects of anesthesia (which I’m told can mess with your brain for up to a year), pain dulling to annoying discomfort, a very slow moving body and forced down time I had all made me see things a little differently.

Among those things are the driving habits of about 75% of the general population, most of whom have forgotten what they learned only long enough to pass their driver’s test, apparently. So, how many of the following will each of you get right? Let’s see. (These are for Minnesota Driving Regulations only, I can’t speak to any other states.)

  1. Right turn on red is: a) never allowed. b) allowed unless otherwise posted, with a rolling stop  c) allowed unless otherwise posted, but only after coming to a complete stop d) always allowed
  2. A stop sign a) only requires a complete stop if there are other vehicles in visible line of sight  b) only requires a complete stop if there are police vehicles in visible line of sight  c) requires a complete stop at all times   d) what’s a stop sign?
  3. After stopping at a stop sign, you can proceed a) through the crosswalk as long as there are no pedestrians in it  b) through the crosswalk assuming you can get through ahead of the pedestrians c) the pedestrians have to stop for vehicles of course, drive on through!
  4. The Move Over Law  a) states all vehicles traveling slower than the posted speed limit need to move to the far right lane on a multi-lane road, or pull to the shoulder on a two-lane road if traffic is unable to safely pass on the left side  b)that you move to the lane farthest away from emergency vehicles, if possible to do so safely  c) we have a Move Over Law?
  5. Correctly identify the sign below:   a) Wheelchair parking only  b) Parking for vehicles with the appropriate disability plates or permits only   c) For use by anyone as long as they aren’t caught.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.58.35 PM

The answers are (in case you didn’t know) 1c, 2c, 33a, 4b, 5b.  How many did you get wrong? I hope none, but over the past weeks since I resumed driving after surgery, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen most of these violated, the exception being the last one. Given adequate time, even that too will happen, sadly. Why am I more sensitive about this? Probably because the speed at which I had been moving much more closely resembled that of the proverbial tortoise, rather than the hare. At Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, I had just parked my car in one of the spots denoted with the sign above (and yes, I have my permit), and got out of my car, proceeding toward the store slowly using my cane. As I approached the crosswalk, a woman came from my right side, briefly glanced at the stop sign (see question #2) decided that red octagonal signs with white outlines were optional and proceeded through the crosswalk – which I had already entered – without stopping (see question #3).

Perhaps I had my cloaking device on again. That had to be it, because that’s the only rational explanation I can come up with for the sheer stupidity exhibited by this apparently adult woman who appeared to be in her 40’s. Not a teen, not anyone talking on their cell phone, and apparently in command of all of her faculties although that is up for debate from my perspective.

I do know that most insurance companies offer discounts to drivers over a certain age if they take a defensive driving course, and in Minnesota it’s 55 years of age. Perhaps it wouldn’t be an entirely dumb idea to offer that discount earlier? Start it at age 30, then boost the value at age 55 from 10% to 15%. State Farm, are you listening? Because apparently people are stupid WAY earlier than at age 55. News flash: yellow lights aren’t for fun, they are to alert you that the red is coming so you can try to stop, not speed up, dumbass! And if you’re climbing up my tailpipe when I’m going the speed limit, knock it the hell off, I’m not speeding up just to make you happy. Ain’t happening, and all you’re gonna get by tailgating me is a) more pissed off, b) a possible ticket for tailgating  c) a possible bigger ticket for the accident you caused when you rear ended me, because in Minnesota if you rear end someone, it IS your fault and d) a lawsuit for rear ending me, dumbass.

If you recognized yourself in any of the above scenarios, perhaps a refresher in Driving 101 is right up your alley.

Anesthesia Brain

“Scientists have found that the drugs used most often in the administration of general anesthesia, produce memory alteration and loss side effects that can last anywhere from one to twelve months following surgery. These effects closely resemble that of…..squirrel!!!!!”

Sounded like a plausible headline at first, didn’t it? And much of it actually is an amalgam from several stories that I did read this morning on the web (because you know if you found it on the internet, it’s true). Well it was mostly true, right up to the part about the squirrel…although that part is true enough for me. I am finding that I’ll be thinking  about somthing I need to get at the store (and in fact as I write this, I just remembered something I didn’t get when I was there a short time ago, in spite of the fact it was on my list, dammit), then suddenly before I can write that thing down, I will be onto something else totally unrelated and I have zero memory of what I was just thinking about. None. Zippity-do-dah it’s gone. Before you know it the front door is left unlocked overnight, the shower is still running, the oven is on but there is nothing in it…and I’m taking a nap, because why not? It’s a short nap, because my brain freaks out after about 7.2 minutes and says “hey, remember the THING you were going to put on your list for the store and you forgot” and by the time I wake up enough to write it on the list, I’ve forgotten it again, but at least I turned off the stove. Just not before I stopped to pet the cat, water the plants, get the mail and take out the trash.

And words are gone too…I HATE that. It’s like living in a game of perpetual Charades. “Sounds like…, two words” argh. It’s not like they are complex or unusual things either. Every day items just don’t have a name for a moment. “Honey, have you seen my…” as my voice trails off. Poor husband. He just has to wait it out patiently as I pound my head on whatever flat surface is nearest to me, in frustration. “oh crap, you know, that….thing….it’s almost there…ah, shit, it’s gone. It’ll come to me someday”.  And it does, at 2 am, when I want to desperately be sleeping rather than having this random verbal vomit of words in my head. It slowly is resolving, and I can now go a couple of days without an issue, then suddenly it will creep up on me and WHOOMP. Here we go again.

It can be embarassing too, depending on when it happens. I was talking to a colleague at work the other day, and needed to ask her a question when the topic of the question was just gone. POOF!!  Into thin air. For about 10 min we had to just chat about stuff. Eventually it came back to me, but honestly, the idea was just airborne on the wind until then. Even writing this, I start out thinking “hey, I’ll add….squirrel!!” and off I go again. I’d try writing things down, but that damn squirrel would bury the paper someplace, like an acorn, and then next spring when I’m cleaning I’ll dig up the list and wonder why the hell I wrote down these weird, seemingly random statements.

In the meantime, if you’re talking to me and I just go off on a tangent, bear with me. I’m sure it will improve in time, and remember my husband really needs your understanding and….squirrel!!!



Parts is Parts

There comes a time in the lives of many adults when they find themselves entering a very special club. It isn’t one you can purchase a membership in, nor is it one that you can apply for. I’ve learned it doesn’t discriminate between age, gender, or income/ socioeconomic strata, although there are certain factors that do come into play that determine whether or not you can be admitted to the club. I’m talking about the New Parts Club. I think I’m among the first of my friends to join this club, and while I’m typically fine being the female ‘leader of the pack’, I could have been content in last place this time around, but noooo….. Tomorrow I will be getting a hip replaced, and of course it sounds really boring when I say it like that, so I had decided last week to try to have a little fun with it, and told someone “my new parts were on order”.  My brain being the warped and twisted little place it is, immediately came up with it’s own pictoral interpretation. So with all due respect to Jeff Anderson and all truly gifted cartoonists and illustrators, and to Diane Henders (imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, and I promise you I won’t do it again soon, if ever!!) here is what it kind of looked like in my head:BYounkerHip 1

I figured I would have better luck drawing it than bribing a real Fedex guy to pose for a photo op with me, so I could put a thought bubble like that over his head – or is it UPS that has no sense of humor? I forget. Doesn’t matter anyway. I’m to damn young for this, no matter how you slice it. I mean, aren’t hip replacements for old people?

I can remember when I was in nursing school, which was so long ago that sometimes it seems like it was in the Pleistocene Era, people were in the hospital for 4 or 5 days, had to have PT in the hospital using a walker, and if they had REALLY difficult procedures might even be on Stryker circle beds. Don’t even get me started on those flipping bedpans (although don’t worry, we didn’t actually flip bedpans, that would have been just plain wrong). Now it’s same day surgery, home on crutches and oh yes, my surgeon said, you’ll be putting weight on that new hip right away in the recovery room. Say what?!!!

I also stumbled on this wonderful little tidbit as well, and couldn’t pass up sharing it. So, for all my “Never Say Spy” peeps, and with a wink and a nod to Crimson Rainbow Butterfly, Beloved Blazing Universe, Blessed Star Freedom, Cosmic Rainbow Song, and most especially Starry Shining Poem…


See y’all under new warranty!

~Venus Rainbow Ocean 😉