Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity (

We’re headed off to Long Key State Park for 11, count them eleven, days of…nothing, nada, peace, quiet. Where is Long Key State Park? It’s in the Florida Keys at mile marker 67.5. That means it’s about 67 miles from Key West and 40 miles from Key Largo, the first sign of civilization you encounter when you venture south from the mainland.

Florida has much to recommend it: climate, history, architecture, beaches, waterways, theme parks, people from all over the world, and best of all, the state parks. The parks in the Florida Keys are so popular that you must reserve camping spots months in advance. For holiday weekends, I mark my calendar 11 months ahead, according to the rules, and grab the reservations. Planning isn’t my strong point, so this takes discipline.

Long Key is like a trip to nowhere. Since we have a motor home and our only other transportation is a motor scooter with two wheels in front (We call it Screwie because it's so strange looking.), proximity to stuff is problematic at best. It’s 13 miles to the nearest supermarket, 10 miles to the nearest laundromat, and places to eat, not so many and very expensive. 

Cell phone service in the Keys is so spotty that we’re lucky when we can connect to the internet at all. We don’t take our satellite dish, so the only TV we’ll have is what we’ve recorded in advance.
Fortunately, we do have Kindles that we assiduously load on a daily basis, so we’re never at a loss for words.

So what will we do for eleven days? We ask ourselves the day before we leave, but, while we're reluctantly packing up to return to our semi-civilized lives, we ask what exactly did we do or how can we steal an extra day or two?  

Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Why do people think they have rights over other people's lives?


Why did this happen to a brilliant high school senior?  (click for link to article)

      What makes me say what I say? This one should be obvious to everyone who knows me and my family. We have been facing gay rights for a very long time and trying to come to grips with all the errors we made as our daughter grew up.

     She was born in 1968, the dark ages when it came to understanding mental health and gay issues. She was the second of three children, born 15 months after her older brother and three years before her younger sister.  When she taught herself to read before entering pre-school and taught herself to count backwards from 100 before that, we didn’t really think anything was amiss.

      Her poor older brother’s intellect sat on the back burner until he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, when one of his friends remarked, “It’s about time he figured out how smart we all knew he was.” That was what it was like to grow up in her house.

     She hid from all of us the eating disorder she struggled with throughout her childhood--that’s how clever she was. It finally came to a head when she was a freshman in college, and one of her high school friends, at his wits end, dropped her at a hospital known for their eating disorder program. The hospital alerted us.

     In and out of treatment programs, in and out of therapeutic centers, and we were stymied. The most intelligent line I heard through all the years came from a friend whose answer, when faced with my question: “Could she be gay?” was “So what if she is.”

     That was so many years ago. I mourn the wasted years but celebrate the good years. It could have been as much her fault as mine: She should have sought the help she needed to open the closet door. But opening that door was her right, her choice, to be done on her terms.

     The principal of the school didn’t have the right to open the door. It wasn’t his closet. It wasn’t his family. It wasn’t his door to open.

Friday, May 1, 2015

To FB or not to FB

So somewhere I saw the question about whether or not people would pay for Facebook if it were no longer free. And it got me thinking.

Facebook is one of the few addictions that’s free, harmless, and readily available. Unlike other addictions.  In order to keep Facebook harmless, I have to work at it. I make my own rules and try very hard to stick to them.

Do I really care what you ate for dinner last night? Do I want to see pictures of you at your favorite restaurant?  Does your boss or do your associates need information about your latest cough, cold, stomach ache, or even surgery? If any of that information could interfere with your job prospects, or paint a picture that you would rather hide from the person making decisions about your future, keep it off Facebook.

All that advice made sense—then I started to read my own Facebook page to see what kind of picture I had painted of myself. If a stranger started to read my posts, a really strange person would emerge: 

No, I don’t have MS. All my interest in and friends with MS originated from a project that Liz and I started years ago. We set out to demonstrate that service dogs could enhance the quality of life for MS patients. I made some good friends, learned a lot about MS, and still really care about people who are functioning with MS.

Dogs are my passion. There was one six month period in our marriage when we didn’t have a dog, and we ended up with parrot number one, then number two a year later, then number three a few years after that. The only problem is that parrots have the mentality of two year-olds and we have lived with three two year-olds since the late 1980’s. 
At the same time, we have had dogs in all shapes and sizes, always three at a time. When our children were little, the dogs were Dobermans, but, for the last 20 years, they have been rescues. Thanks to Adopt-a-Pet, our lives are filled with positivity. They thank their adopters—we thank them.  

No, I’m not gay--my daughter is. I care very deeply about the lives of people in the gay community and am thrilled that, once and for all, SCOTUS may do the right thing. (Go, notorious RBG!) Liz and I were bemoaning the fact that the book about healthcare for the Gay community that she wrote while still in graduate school didn’t really take off. Unfortunately, we were ahead of the curve. I keep telling her to rewrite the book and re-issue it, but, with a mind like hers, looking back isn’t in her vocabulary. 

Yes, I’m a liberal, always have been. I’m my father’s daughter. He was color blind and brought me up to believe that color blind is the only blindness that is acceptable. Kind of funny, because my father was an optometrist -- curing people’s problems with vision was his life’s work.

Religion—check out the photo. Keep it to yourself. Sure, we’re now working with our Buddha dog to encourage and teach people to use mindfulness meditation with their pets to enhance their lives, but you don’t need religion to meditate.

So there’s my Facebook image. It’s all out there. Tomorrow, my interests may change, but I love Facebook because it’s a way to keep in touch with those whom I always cared about, and meet strangers who share something that interests me. 

That’s the best part of Facebook: you only have to share limited aspects of your life—you don’t have to get married and live together.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Must love…….dogs, children, husbands, life

Every morning we awaken at three, yes three AM, and take inventory. Mikey? He’s 15 years young and can’t make it up to the bed any more, but is curled up on a blanket in front of the sofa. We thank him every morning for still being with us to continue to charm us.

Wesley? Yes, he’s right where he always is, between the two pillow mountains. Freddie worries all night that he’s going to crush him, but Wesley’s too smart for that. In our 51 years of marriage, I’ve been the sleeper and Freddie’s been the worrier. He was always the one who got up with the children when they were sick. He thought I was so grumpy that I was going to destroy them.

Willie? He’s doing his Tibetan Spaniel thing, the job he was created for: warming our feet. After thousands of years and thousands of miles, he still thinks he has to do his job. He doesn’t understand that in Florida we don’t need foot warmers, we don’t even need blankets, but DNA is pretty strong stuff.

I was just reading in a description of the Tibetan Spaniel: “If you want an obedient dog, a dog that you can walk off leash, a dog that will come when called, the Tibbie is not the dog for you. Please think carefully before you fall in love with a beautiful, adorable Tibetan Spaniel puppy. It is a highly intelligent animal that will bond very closely with you, but it will not be your obedient servant, and it will be convinced (perhaps correctly) that in most circumstances it knows better than you.” (from

The description fits Willie perfectly and it also fits our middle child so his middle name is “Paige.” William Paige is named after Elisabeth Paige-- her personality is the mirror image of his. How can he be so much like her? Liz lives 3000 miles away and they’ve never met.

Naming dogs has always been fun for us, but Willie’s the first one whose name came from one of our children. Wesley’s name came from a near accident. He’s also an adopted Tibetan Spaniel. He bolted from our motor home the day we picked him up. Without a name, all I could do was shriek, as he ran across the Winn Dixie parking lot. 

Fortunately, he was traumatized, stopped in his tracks, and I threw him back into the bus. His name came from the young man at the checkout counter. (We still haven’t mastered the art of the self-checkout.) I looked at his name tag and asked if we could name our dog after him, eliciting a big grin. So Wesley became Wesley James McGillicuddy

Mikey, our 15 year-old "Who Knows What’s" name came from our neighbor. He’s the one who found Mikey on the street when he was five weeks old and, knowing we were softies, presented the tiny, matted, flea and tick-infested creature who had all kinds of diseases, to us. Mikey grew up to be so special that if we could, we would clone him. 

Our Tibetan Spaniels came from Adopt-a-Pet and we can get others with similar personalities, but how can we get another Mikey? All we can do is be thankful for the years that he’s made us smile.

The Budha Dog in the picture is the symbol of the project that Liz and I are working on. We’re trying to name him, or her. Check out the ways you can meditate with your pet at It will enhance your life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Color coordinated........or not

So here I am, still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Today, and for the near future, it will be a new (old) career as a realtor. We recently moved to Florida City, the southernmost city on the Florida mainland because we love it here. It’s not in the city, not in the suburbs, but is really in the country. 

I finally received my business cards, the first ones I actually let someone else design for me. The company required a picture that day so I had to resort to a selfie. It was a really windy day, I couldn’t keep my hair out of my face, and I had no idea what I was doing. I picked a red shirt (Everyone who knows me knows that my choice is any color as long as it’s red.) and was surprised when my cards turned out to be color coordinated. 

The red shirt and the yellow hair to match the color of the cards were not pre-planned. 

All I could think of was the time years ago when my son was about ten and fell off his ATV. My parents were having dinner with us and, knowing that his grandmother would freak, he didn’t limp in until he absolutely had to. Of course, he elicited the response he expected, and I asked my mother what would have happened if she had had boys. To that my father piped up “They would have been color coordinated.”

Color talks. In every language, in every business, in every situation. The colors in our part of South Florida are unique. We live in the country, not the city or the suburbs. What makes our area a country location? The people, the terrain, the population density. So many of the people are natives; they really have lived here all their lives, by choice. Others moved here because of the housing boom. There is affordable housing within commuting distance of Miami. 

Some of the communities resemble the gated communities all over Florida, with single family homes, both large and small, townhouses, apartments and rental units. There are also areas with homes on large lots and smaller, older homes, enough to keep the realtor in me thinking. The business community is alive and well, so I’ll be able to continue with my first love, commercial real estate.

What are we doing? We moved here with no real plans so we’re living in our motor home, trying out life in a small, very small, space. It’s us, our three dogs, our three parrots, and as much stuff as we could fit into our 36 foot motor home plus an extra trailer that we call “the annex.” It’s unbelievable how little you really need when you start to pare down. 

The rest of our stuff is in a storage unit, waiting for us to acknowledge its existence. Who knows? We may end up with another house and need some of the things we’ve so lovingly packed, but so far we haven’t missed anything. I’m beginning to like cleaning with a dustbuster, a paper towel, and some windex. 

A small refrigerator has its advantages. There isn’t enough room for the green, furry stuff to collect. Giant sized anything is out of the question, so every shopping trip is a calculation. I keep repeating: Live like a European. Shop every day, buy fresh fruits and vegetables, freeze nothing. (And sample what the local restaurants have to offer.)