Bobbe White Writes

Perspective – it’s a pretty big deal.

It’s a Tough World Out There — June 17, 2016

It’s a Tough World Out There

Bobbe 21
Bobbe tries  to pull herself out of the garbage of life, to carry on.

It’s Friday, June 17, 2016…

…and it’s a tough world out there. Within the past week,

  • A talented singer is killed in Orlando,
  • 50 people gunned down in Orlando nightclub,
  • Two-year old is killed by alligator outside of Orlando.

Poor people, poor families, poor community, poor Orlando.  Makes a person understand what “being under a dark cloud” means, right? If we ever needed to feel better, it is now. But where do we start and what can we do? Is there anything right in the world? It’s called, “basic”, People, “basic”.  Basic comfort for pain. What’s that?  It might be a chocolate chip cookie, cuddling your child or sipping a nice glass of merlot. Basic pleasures for uplifting your attitude: pet your dog, peak at a sleeping baby, watch Jimmy Fallon and President Obama write thank you letters out loud, set to melodic piano. Then, try to live with Positive Expectancy (Steve Wilson). What does this mean? It means: approaching life, as we know it, not as a Pollyanna, but with hopes for good things, which make living worthwhile. To me, it means looking harder than ever for bits of humor, wherever they will pop up. And they WILL pop up, if you play attention. That’s right, it’s not a typo, I said, “PLAY” attention. Be aware, be alert, be alive! It’s okay to carry on. And besides, (queue Leslie Gore), “It’s my birthday and I’ll smile if want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to. You would smile too, if it happened to you!”  Yep, it’s my birthday and at the risk of sounding like a goat, I’m going to have a goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood day. Why not? At my age, that’s 427 years old – in dog years, I don’t know how much time I have left. And in dog years, I might have 14 glasses of wine and 7 pieces of cakea tonight!  You’ve got to love dog years. Cheers and happy weekending in spite of it all.  bw

Mothers of the Gulf War: Vivian Drees — February 25, 2016

Mothers of the Gulf War: Vivian Drees

A mother’s worst nightmare: February 25, 1991, Vivian Drees’ son, Tony, was critically injured in the worst scud missile attack of Operation Desert Storm. This very special mom talks about it as they celebrate “25 Years Alive Day!”


A Mother’s Perspective

By Bobbe White


If we are lucky in life, we will meet someone as impactful as Vivian Drees, a woman with a heart as big as Montana, make that, North Dakota, which is still bigger than most hearts. As a child, Vivian watched her parents take in babies, years before the term   “foster” parents became a silent badge of honor.  Years later, Vivian and husband, John, found themselves following in the same footsteps as her parents. John was an Army Reservist, a farmer and a solid man, whom Vivian met in June 1970. Their love and commitment for each other grew quickly, they were engaged by August and married in November 1970.  They knew they wanted a family and soon, they found kids entering their lives. Oh boy, did kids enter their lives! Altogether, John and Vivian had thirty children, including one of their own, a step parent adoption, and of 30 foster children, they were able to adopt five.


Each time a new child came into their home, the Drees explained to the children, “A new foster child is arriving soon. The child might have to return, at some point, to his real or adoptive home.”  Their biological son, Matthew, watched children come and go. One day, he asked Vivian, “When do I have to go back to my “real” home?” They’d never explained to Matt that he WAS at his forever home. She was touched and proud that, biologically or foster, the children were equally loved.  “Honestly,” Vivian stated, “I can fit every one of these children into my heart, even the ones who are damaged.” And damaged, some were.


One foster child, Tony, came to the Drees family at age 13.  He was a runaway Air Force base boy, from an abusive home.  Tony’s mother loved her husband more than her children. In the past Tony called his stepfather, “Stepmonster.” Tony felt angry, cheated and thrown-away. Vivian recalls, “On his 15th birthday, Tony asked to call his birth mother. I was apprehensive about the reception he’d receive.” Knowing her headstrong Tony wouldn’t give up until he was batted away from his mom again, Vivian stayed close during that call. “I’d hoped my instinct was wrong,” but her keen, motherly, sixth sense rarely failed. Everything John and Vivian had done to build Tony up was torn down by a short conversation with his birth mother on the phone, much like the day she said in open court, “I don’t want him, you take him!” Vivian’s sense was correct.


John and Vivian were inherent teachers; he taught expertise through modeling mastery, work ethic and critical thinking. As Tony’s frustrations and anger mounted, John instructed Tony to remove a tree stump in the field.  Armed with an axe, Tony assaulted the stump for hours upon days. John helped Tony learn valuable coping skills through physical work to ease mental angst. John taught in his classroom, “The Shop”, where he shared his ideology about being a father, a provider and a community servant. Vivian’s invaluable life lessons were taught by always being present, something she was able to do as a stay-at-home mom.  She taught her children, “The most important lesson in life is to realize that things aren’t fair.”  It is only then, that a person can move on.


As the years progressed, Tony and his high school buddies started finding trouble as some teenage boys commonly do. During his junior year, some boys robbed a Coca-Cola machine; Tony claimed responsibility. The summer before senior year, Tony stole the family car; a diesel station wagon. The transmission blew and Tony became “Foster Care Scared” and ran away. His parents needed the insurance money to fix the car, so charges had to be filed against Tony. Vivian reluctantly agreed with recommendation of the social worker and Tony’s attorney that he be sent to the State Industrial School for Boys for ninety days.  The Drees hoped this punishment would help Tony recognize his choices and behavior. The program worked. Tony went on to have a positive senior year and graduated at the age of 17. After graduation, Tony attended the University of North Dakota (UND) and then enlisted in the US Army for four years, serving in West Germany. When he returned to North Dakota, he returned to school at UND to excel in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a student, an officers candidate, and student athlete, while finishing two years as an Inactive Reservist.


At the age of 22, Tony then requested to be adopted; an unusual request for a 22-year-old. His wish was granted and Tony finally had a real, forever home with the Drees family.


In January 1991, during Desert Storm, Tony received orders to join the fighting in the Gulf War. A week into Tony’s deployment, Vivian – again- had a cold, sixth sense feeling for her son. The evening news on February 25, 1991 confirmed her fears: a U.S. barracks was hit by a scud missile in one of the deadliest attacks of the Gulf War. She witnessed the chaos unfold on T.V., and knew it was bad, in general, and for Tony, personally. The Drees waited five long and agonizing days before hearing from Tony, who’d suffered life-threatening wounds: shattered, shrapnel filled femur and the backs of both his legs blown off.  After the first of 58 surgeries, Tony was transported from Saudi Arabia to Germany for his recovery. A nurse asked Tony what he needed, “My mom,” he answered.  He was running out of courage, he was abroad, alone and critically injured. This request activated the American Red Cross to get involved and within days, Vivian headed to Germany. As fate would have it, Vivian was met at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, by one of her foster daughter’s younger brothers who was stationed there. With this effort to accommodate her, Vivian realized that the kindness, which she’d so generously and selflessly given to her foster children, was being returned to her as life had come full circle in her foster parenting journey.


Tony was further transported to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD with Vivian by his side. His high-profile injuries found The U.S. President, top military leaders, nationally publicized journalists at his bedside, and the mother-son photo appeared in People Magazine. During Tony’s long and arduous recovery, Vivian was his fiercest cheerleader.


Upon Tony’s hospital discharge and Medical Retirement from the Army in March of 1992, Tony returned to North Dakota, bringing with him, the constant companion of war pain, both physical and mental challenges.  Tony’s recovery of body and mind would need to begin by building strength. A topic, to which Tony is no stranger even today, he keeps his body tuned, as any serious athlete does. Vivian and John were the yin and yang to his recovery. She was the compassionate, soft-spoken figure; John was the strong, quiet component. They both served as the “buoys” to a man drowning in a sea of pain.


Vivian is more than proud of Tony’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) management.  His negative experiences are now channeled into a positive career of helping others heal and succeed. A number of John and Vivian’s children came to them damaged, some succeed, some struggle perpetually. Their unwavering support for each of their children remains a constant vigilant journey. Those two were quite a team. Now, by visiting her parents in Canada, seven children, seventeen grandchildren and one great grandchild, Vivian is trying  fill a huge void left by John’s death last year. Without question, losing John feels so unfair to Vivian, but she knows the lesson; some things just aren’t fair. Serving as a dedicated Military Mom, a community servant and an advocate for foster children, she also knows she can fit the growing family into her home and her heart, and that is what keeps her going.


When asked directly about her bond with Tony she replies,”I am proud he is my son, I love him.”



Do Something Scary: ROLL SOLO! — August 30, 2015

Do Something Scary: ROLL SOLO!

Dad and Mom did EVERYTHING together.
“Irv, we have a cocktail party Friday night.”
“Mkay” he’d say.
“Irv, we’re going to a couples’ shower at the Peterson’s pool.”
Dad, “Sure.”
Mom, “Millers want to meet us in Chicago next month.”
Dad, “I’ll reschedule something. Tell them we’ll be there!”
So it went for sixty-plus years. My world didn’t unfold so handily. There’s been begging, arguing, whining, pouting. Then, some mother-in-law wisdom dawned on me. Prior to our marriage, she said, “If you wait for your husband to do everything with you, you’ll miss a lot.”

Flashback 1975-Illinois State-Jethro Tull; a must see! Except “somebody” didn’t want to go. Imagine the pure joy I felt for my boyfriend, now husband, when a buddy gave him an extra ticket. (May I say, I seethed over this for 27 years, until I saw Tull in St. Louis? That’s stupid.

So, how does a woman start living/stop missing? Just yesterday, I decided to visit Hermann, MO for the day. I’m a bit impulsive; that may not work for you. I get that. After asking three friends and three declines, however, do you go or no? At 9:00a.m., I headed towards Hermann. Would Hermann have been more fun with friends? Perhaps. Nonetheless, it was a world class day; no discussions as to, “Do you want to do this, do that, go here, go there, eat here or there?”

When weighing decisions, I tend to acquiesce – which is why I don’t shop well with others, either. As a result, my day becomes their ideas, not mine. Occassionally, it’s empowering to be in charge of the schedule.
Rolling solo boosts my self-confidence. It’s about being comfortable in your own company, with phone off and stowed away. It’s the satisfaction of seeing something, going somewhere or doing something, which otherwise, you’d have missed. While safety reigns supreme, I won’t lie, rolling solo requires stretching your personal fear factor.But it’s definitely worth the effort.

Below are a few items from my “RSOMs” (Rolled Solo or Missed) list:
1) Flew to Venezuela to join a sports coaches group for the Central American Games.
2) Dined at Chicago’s, 96th Floor Signature Room. One word: VIEW!
3) Flew to Paris to see my daughter.
4) Saw two shows, in Vegas: “Mamma Mia” and “Menapause, the Musical.
5) Ditto, Chicago, for “Vagina Monologues”, “Moving On”, and “Rent” in Des Moines.
6) Locally, I’ve attended live theater, ballet, movies, weddings and funeral visitations alone. In fact,
there isn’t much I won’t attend alone, if need be. And I’m happier as a result. Oddly enough, the one thing in Quincy I haven’t done is dined solo. I know practically everybody in town and people tend to feel sorry for soloists, or think we’re weird. So, if you ever see me dining solo, think I’m weird, but please don’t sympathize. I probably just wanted a nice meal.

Now, go conquer a fear and a desire. Do something scary. Roll solo, occasionally. You’ll want to high-five yourself. bw

Well, Bite My Bubbles: A One-winged Woman Wrestles With What’s Worthy — April 28, 2015

Well, Bite My Bubbles: A One-winged Woman Wrestles With What’s Worthy

Welcome to our new subscribers from PACT of Western Illinois!

There’s nothing like shoulder surgery to reprioritize my world. (Bone spur/cuff tears repaired) With Bruce Jenner in the news, it seems the Olympic Decathlon describes the experience well, albeit, not with its traditional events.

Swimming- 40 years of Swimming = wear and tear. Now, I swim in the shower with a noodle and ducky water wings, to stabilize shoulder. Well, bite my bubbles. This really stinks. Glub, glub, glub.

Baseball- Dad always said, “You throw like a girl.”  No wonder I always flunked the fitness test. When throwing my high, fast ball to son, Nick, in the pool, 12 years ago, the effort was rewarded with right shoulder pain. Need relief pitcher. Now. Or physical therapy.

Rock-climbing-  I scraped the house gutters last August, so Jeff could repaint them. The next day, “Hello, annoying pain, again.” Go figure.

Rafting- 9/2014, US National Whitewater Center, Charlotte SC.  After my first stroke, I realized I was on the wrong side of the boat. Owwweeeee! I HATE rocking the proverbial boat, let alone a real one so, I stayed put. Bad idea. Physical therapy (PT) couldn’t help this time, so, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to MRI we go.

Football- PT refers me to Dr. Smith, Columbia, MO.  Fun facts: Dr. Smith is the head team physician for Mizzou football. Good enough for them, good enough for me. Plus, Dr. Smith dresses in suits, not scary white coats, not to mention, Dr. Smith smells swell. Once I’m chemically relaxed, (loopy) will I ask the cologne name? Hope not.  Another patient says, “Already asked him. Lagerfeld.”  Good, now I don’t have to.

Figure Skating– My injury wasn’t from falling.  Except for one stumble… Consult was 2/8/15; surgery scheduled 4/13/15. (Jeff thought it best to avoid winter, considering two hour drive to Columbia.) 2/18/15: On the last piece of winter ice, I slip during my Triple (k)lutz Salchow double loop twist, chipping right hand bone and spraining wrist. Perfect.

Basketball/Golf/Football: On surgery eve, I dreamed Michael Jordan was my surgeon. Sports were on my brain. JORDAN Speith had just won the Masters Golf that day; with NBA on another channel. When I was even MORE relaxed, (loopy) I asked Dr. Smith if MJ ever showed up. Smith said, “No,” and he was pretty sure he’d done a much better job than Jordan would have. Besides, MJ kept patients waiting for hours. Not good.

Alligator Wrestling is similar to getting me dressed, with this huge shoulder immobilization sling. And there’s humor when your husband dresses you. The put-on-pile includes a shirt, sweater and bra. Jeff asks, “Which top do you think we should start with?”  I suggest, “How about the bra? It goes underneath….” When pulling up my underpants, he pulls them up to my armpits and then gives a final tug for good measure. Good grief, I haven’t had a “Melvin” since high school.  These are mid-rise hipsters from Victoria Secret and they DON’T go above the rib cage. HELPPPPPPP MEEEEEEEE!

Gymnastics–  Floor exercise includes getting in/out of bed and the car, putting on socks one-handed, eating and using the computer mouse with my left hand, but hair and makeup create the biggest gyration due to the sling, If lipstick’s all over my face, just say, “Yes, Bobbe, it’s a 10, perfectly straight!” Ta-Da!

Couples Ice Dancing – I told our daughter, Korey, that when I’m done with the sling, she can have it for a great conversation starter. “Don’t I need to be older for one of those?” Korey said. Nope, I know 19 year olds who’ve had this surgery. “Okay, send it out.”

Gold medals go to Jeff, friends and family for help. It takes a village when you can’t drive -or dress-for 6 weeks.  In honor of April, National Humor Month, let us be reminded that it also takes humor. A lot of it. bw



Seventy years of horror ago today, on January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world.

On December 24th, my daughter, Korey, and I had the opportunity to tour Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration Camps.  Just 62 kilometers/39 miles from Krakow, Poland a campus of inhumanity unfolds in now quiet rows of brick buildings. Over the entrance of Auschwitz I is a wrought iron banner which says “Arbeit Macht Frei”. Translated: “Work makes one free.”  Hardly. How is it that Krakow/Crakow can be so charming and historic; the people so gentle-speaking and yet, down the road is the horror of the Nazi effort during World War II, where millions were gassed, gunned, starved and beaten to death. The development of Auschwitz (which happened quickly) was astounding – both in size and the evil thought that went into planning it. Prisoners were forced to build the crematoriums, in which they would soon meet their death.  There aren’t words. Oddly enough, display cases, which held evidence of the carnage, struck my core. The contents from thousands of suitcases are separated into hair brushes, combs, eyeglasses (all wire-rimmed), adult and children’s shoes, prosthetics, and the hideousness of hair, shaven off the victims, upon entry.  Mixing bowls, sterling sugar and creamer bowls and other items used in daily living really created chills up and down my spine. People herded to camps seriously thought they were setting up for a new life. The innocence hurts my heart.

Our Polish tour guide, Kate, spoke flawless English. I told her about my dad, who as a P.O.W. in the Battle of the Bulge, had lived in similar barracks, sleeping on straw covered concrete, mattresses of straw, or bunks of thin plywood. We saw a barrack of latrines that thousands could use, but just twice a day. Otherwise, there was a bucket in the corner of their sleeping rooms, which 70-100 prisoners would have to use. Yes, the same bucket. I can’t think about it, it’s so animalistic.  A box car still sits on the tracks, in memory of those herded to camp by train.

Both civilians and military prisoners were starved on grass soup or dirty rotten potatoes. (My dad rapidly lost 60+ pounds.) We saw solitary confinement, which were purposely in total darkness, or standup cells, where prisoners were forced to stay awake and erect for hours.

Many prisoners were led to the shower building with the knowledge that one of two things would come from above them; either a shower of water or gas. We were taken into one shower room, but they didn’t even install dummy shower heads, just a hole in the ceiling where the Zyklon-B gas was injected into the room. Understand there were no survivors. To take it one step darker, the Crematory was connected to the showers for quick disposal. Except the ovens couldn’t keep up. Guess who they made build more? Yep, the prisoners. The prisoners building their own death trap. Unthinkable. Yet, it happened. Repeatedly, for years. The Nazis intended to kill so many thousands at these two locations only that they ended up shutting down the showers and just built more Crematories.

If you didn’t succumb to gas, you were probably going to starve, get sick or be tortured through work or worse. The average length of life, once a prisoner entered Auschwitz-Birkenau, was three months. As we completed our tour, I commented to Korey, “I can’t imagine how anyone could survive physically or emotionally in a nightmare like this. I guess it takes a strong will to live.”
“Or hope,” Korey added.

Yet, there are many stories of survival. Not as many as we wish. Jeff didn’t need to experience the tour, so he didn’t go with us to Poland. Korey and I needed to see it. I felt as if I could better envision the conditions in which my father was forced to live for six months, and that is a complete disconnect for my brain. Honestly, I don’t know how any survivor goes on to live somewhat of a normal life. God bless these survivors. I bought a book in the Camp’s bookstore by Victor Frankl, survivor, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” I recommend it, if you have questions about this experience.

And for those individuals who don’t believe the Holocaust happened, I may have to buy a one-way trip to one of the camp for a tour of education. It’s one way, because as far as I’m concerned, they deserve to stay there until they understand this was real. Never again.
“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” unknown

Putting A Muzzle on Mind Chatter- November 30, 2014 — December 1, 2014

Putting A Muzzle on Mind Chatter- November 30, 2014

Originally written by Jeff – retold by Bobbe

Like other babyboomer couples, Jeff and I have been stacking life’s changes: empty nest, aging careers, aging parents, aging food in the fridge and how all of these factors affect us as an aging couple. The empty nest is okay, the career horizon is a bit foggy and the aging parent deal is a doozie. The only thing normal is the aging food in the fridge. Then the abnormal changed our normal forever.

In February, 2013, Jeff lost right eye vision. No reason. It was just gone. In his personal struggle to adjust to myriad changes, he spent a lot of time alone doing things that had long ago given him pleasure, but which he’d abandoned while we raised children, advanced careers and dealt with busy lives. His activity often occurred in the woods or with wood. He sawed, chopped, and nailed pieces into forms. He squirrel hunted, target practiced, or just walked in the woods, which proved to be tricky. It was in this environment that Jeff regained balance between his mind-chatter and fantasies. I was a bit uneasy at first, with the word, “fantasy”. He was surprised by my immediate jump to a definition that he’d not intended. Informal polls indicated others jumped to the sex connotation too. We sought to find a synonym, but nothing worked better. Feel free to use a synonym, it it makes you comfortable. That way, I can rest easier, knowing that that you aren’t envisioning me pole-dancing in the bedroom or at a sleazy night club. However, I suppose my stage name could be “White Trash…”

Mind-chatter and fantasy are universal human traits, in fact, 90% of every day is spent on one of the two. On days when the mind-chatter runs rampant, we stress more and sleep less. Jeff found out that by learning to turn off the chatter and allowing more fantasy time, his happiness greatly increased. He is beginning to see his loss as a gift.

Mind-chatter Vs. Fantasy Mind-chatter is our internal rules system. Fantasies offer us the illusion of emotional safety. Mind chatter guides us away from our heart and the things we love to do. Fantasy offers us reasons to overcome chatter and create life happiness. Mind-chatter will tempt you with its relentless reminders of past failures and future fears, resulting in a heightened state of worry and unhappiness. Oh boy, no joy. As we age, we allow mind chatter (rules maker) to become more intense. We learn this at an early age. Over the years, we equate happiness with how other people react to us. Negative chatter can make us afraid to express ourselves, or ask for what we want. It limits our potential and hinders our ability to express love for others. The most detrimental aspect of mind chatter occurs as we approach mid-life; the chatter is rife with self-criticism. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the human mind to turn chatter off, or even down a notch.
Fantasies mostly involve the future; they reflect the essence of one’s personality. Fantasies help us solve or address problems, concerns and prepare us for future events. In the rare times fantasies are past-tense, they would be a form of analysis, as to what we should or shouldn’t have done, but (and this is a BIG but) without the guilt, which mind-chatter implies. Fantasy helps comfort, encourage and reinforce ourselves when impending decisions are going to be difficult. In a state of fantasy, we allow our minds to develop guidelines for a more positive outcome, providing clarity to our concerns. Fantasies allow us to change preconceived deficiencies to strengths.

Psychological well-being is directly related to our ability to fantasize. If we then act on those concepts we can reinforce relationships, improve health and turn down the mind-chatter volume. Jeff decided to employ some fantasies with me. Before your imagination runs wild, let me explain that these acts were simple and basic. In essence, we started dating again. He actually phoned to ask, “Want to go on a date?” He was afraid I’d decline the invitation and was relieved I’d accepted. This from a tough guy, who is afraid of NOTHING! He became more attentive, less argumentative. He asked for additional dates. We talked. A lot. (And he listened!) He complimented me when I got dressed up. (That was the best improvement!)
Like millions of couples, we’d put our relationship on auto-pilot for years; we hadn’t nurtured the most important thing we possessed. My own mind-chatter had reduced my self-image to seeing myself as a frumpy, middle-aged, boring wife/woman. You see, mind-chatter tarnishes how we see ourselves and others. Jeff’s fantasy was to reverse 37 year-old habits, using creative thought to facilitate positive change.

This newfound attention was a bit overwhelming at times, I must say. Our comfortable, predictable approach to an old marriage was not a bad thing at all, but the positive changes will sustain us much better, as we enter our retirement years. The home climate became more positive. I felt like a queen. It seemed that the adage, “Marriage is a marathon, not a race,” did not apply. Jeff was trying to make up for lost time, at full sprint. It was both weird and wonderful. I realized that if we didn’t stop the mind-chatter and pay attention, life would move on without us fully participating in it. How sad.

Before one of our dates, I was soaking my feet in a foot-spa the kids had given me last Christmas. Jeff saw I needed new polish and offered to do it for me. I said yes, but was unsure. This seemed a bit kookie. “Better not tell the kids about this one!” I said. Mind-chatter had kicked in hard and fast and was working overtime, robbing us of a simple gesture because of an empty pre-conceived notion. He explained that, as a little boy, his mom allowed him to paint her nails, on occasion. Being one of six children, one-on-one activities were precious and probably few. It seemed that if his mother permitted a polish, it was okay for me to accept the same treatment. And our kids might even think it was okay, too.

The important part is that when the innocence of wanting to paint my toes was disrupted by mind-chatter, Jeff empowered his fantasy to continue a nice gesture. These spontaneous self-generated thoughts only become reality when we turn the chatter off long enough to allow us choices that will make us happier in life. One thing is for sure, his sight will never be the same, but he sees many things much clearer now. We both do. Isn’t it ironic that his loss has become a gift? What a great Thanksgiving blessing. bw



Like your car’s GPS, the bell in your head is that little voice that harps “RECALCULATE!”  When a bell rings, there are three choices:

  1.  Hear it – heed it. That bell says to me:  “Whoa Girl, feel that tug in your gut? That’s the cord of the bell – the cord of reason – pay attention to what’s about to happen. Are you SURE you want to do this???”  It rings right before I make a poor decision. If I’m present enough in that moment, I stop the action and recalculate, just like a Garmin. Afterwards, I think “WHEW! I Can’t believe I almost did/said that!”
  2. Heard it – ignored it.  And usually, I regret it. This bell says, “WHOOOA Girl! Don’t you hear that bell? You’re gonna WHAT…Ignore it? You’ll be sorry!”  And I know it. Same as ignoring the GPS’ directions. This Bobbe is careless, hurried, harried, yet, hopeful that the bad decision, could somehow turn out well. If the decision turns out well, it’s followed by this thought, “YIKES! That was close. Too risky. But, I tricked that stupid bell. HA!” It’s like kicking the bell in the booty, if it had one. Caution: the bell will take revenge.  Do not doubt this. You won’t always be wrong, but you won’t always be lucky, either.  Mostly, I don’t heed bells. And I regret it. Every. Single. Time.  Examples…
    1. Did ONE more errand or task.  (Made me late.)
    2. Vacuumed quickly; lifted the dining room table (with my back) to straighten the rug. My back was fine. but the table-top vase? Not so much. The vase was Mom’s for, ohhhhh, fifty years. I possess it for, ohhhhh, five months and break it. I heard the bell, but was on a cleaning surge and it happens so rarely, I hated to interrupt progress.
    3. Picked up Dad to walk with us in the Vet’s Day Parade. He sported penny loafers and a thin jacket, but, we were late, so we left as he was. He was so cold (Upper body AND feet). I felt bad. But not as bad as his feet. Hello Bell, I’m the real ding-dong.
    4. Knee-jerk reaction at work: let someone off as a favor, leaving us short-handed and stressed. The ring of the bell needed to be more of a GONG.
  3.  What bell? This is the response to cause concern.Either the bell was taking a snooze, or we were. In either case, not a bell was heard, hither or yon. Or however you sprechen Old English. People without bells in their heads are dangerous, at work, at home, anywhere. Is it ignorance or naivete? This has happened to me. I didn’t know what the reaction to an action I took would be.  I should be able to reason with myself before any action, wouldn’t you think?

The final ding of the bell is this. There are ALWAYS bells. Sometimes they’re very faint, but they’re there.  Let’s be totally honest with ourselves; if we quiet our minds enough, our response will be more like Tweety Bird: “I DO hear a bell!  I DO! I DO! I DO!  bw

DOG GETS THE GOLD — February 28, 2014


Dog Gets The Gold

While you were enjoying the triple salchow, double Lutz, and twizzles, we were not. We had some Olympic events of our own. It all started when Lily White, the black Lab, sat at the top of our basement steps, looking down them, longingly. With barking. Lots and lots of barking. Assuming she had flipped her football over the gate, I walked down to retrieve it. The only thing I came up with was  wet, soppy socks. Apparently, our ice rink in the basement was filling (i.e. leaking) and had not frozen yet. ACK! So the semi-finals began:

1st event:  Mopping:  Like curling, but a broom won’t cut this mess. And bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. No more laundry in this arena. We must wear dirty uniforms for now. We couldn’t keep ahead of the seepage and defeated three shop vacs in the process. We are Home Depot’s customer of the month.

2nd event: Triple towel-wow. It finally makes sense why I keep oodles of raggedy towels. Trust me, just when you’re tempted to toss those towels, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT DISPOSE OF THEM. EVER.

3rd event: Double-Double Fantz: Our family members sleep with fans (not literally of course) but we did hear that several thousand condoms were distributed to those frisky athletes in the Olympic village. We always wondered what they did between events. I’m sorry, that was crude. Anyway, we hoped that we could dry out the carpets, but still didn’t know the source of the leak.

4th event: 4-man Bobsled:  The track and the trick was to haul ruined carpeting and soggy pad from the basement up the stairs, around the corner, down two steps, across the treacherously slick garage floor and into the bed of our pick-up truck. We hope our time is faster in the finals.

5th event: Half Pipe: this event involves buying a 25 foot sewer snake which winds down and around and up the pipe, hopefully at a force that blasts through the muckety-muck that has backed up my bubbles. (See #1)

6th  event: Super G Snake. Last night, Jeff rented the mother of all snakes – an 4 h.p. 75 foot thick sewer snake. It was like skis waxed with lightening! Ohhhhh, baby! He was actually quite excited about the prospect of beating the opponent. But after 4 hours of teamwork, we pulled out some ancient tree roots, probably from Greece – home of the first Olympics, and black oil. Make that sewage liquid. It was the sweet (I use that term lightly) smell of success. (Make that sewer gas.)

Finals tonight!  Hoping for a strong finish in the Super Snake tonight. Tree roots are kind of like cockroaches – where there’s one, there’s a million of them. We are pumped! We are tired.

Closing ceremonies: May be held at alternate site: the Laundromat. Or the chiropractor.

GOLD GOES TO LILY! Had she not tipped us off, we might be training for the 400 meter freestyle, forced to swim out of our mess. While everyone has left Sochi, or as Jeff calls it, Sushi, and eastern Europe, including the athletes, fans and Yanukovych, we shall play until the final drop has dripped.

Wherever Life Takes You, You Take Life — February 1, 2014

Wherever Life Takes You, You Take Life

Wherever life takes you, you take life


Just when you think a long week-end is a great way to get away from it all, life laughs at you. We drove to Long Island, NY, for sea duck hunting, a fun 18-hour drive through 4 states. Pennsylvania, is the fraternal twin of Kansas, except Pennsylvania has more hills. Ohio turned into WhOA-hio, with a lake-effect snow blizzard near Lake Erie. More cars were off the road than on, including us, in a near miss. To add more bliss to the near miss, our engine was missing a beat. 


On day two of our week-end, Assisted Living in Illinois called. Dad had a stroke of sorts. He sat listless, unresponsive, and dazed, but hey, he was sitting! The head nurse and I agreed that ER was not going to do anything but run tests and observe. We opted for the wait and watch plan. Still, I rummaged through my head how to fly home fast, if needed. Hunting continued for the guys; we girls ran by the Amityville Horror House and learned the real story; then to the movie, “August: Osage County.” While Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts never disappoint, this was perhaps the darkest, dysfunctional film I’ve seen in a while. A really fun day of downers, though! (Except for the stroke part…)


On day three, Dad improved, returning to his pleasantly, confused state as if nothing had happened. The hunting continued on the Atlanatic bays and salt marshes, while we girls hunted Broadway Tickets. We snagged 4th row seats – just minutes before curtain time. YES! As requested, I powered off my phone and thoroughly enjoyed “Kinky Boots.”  Oh stop it, it wasn’t trashy. After the show, I powered up and saw new voicemail. My heart sunk again. Our dog sitter, Jennifer, began, “Lily is fine and the house didn’t burn down…” (whew) “But (and this is a BIG but) the heat’s off; the house is 55 degrees. That’s not bad until the Vortex blows through town tonight.”  An emergency repairman made the house call and re-booted the pilot. We had heat again.  Now we are looking forward to  a car repair bill for the missing engine and heater repair bill for the house call. Ch-ching.


Day four: Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. I purchased AAA insurance for the return trip home. What joy to think we’d possibly be waiting in mid-Pennsylvania for a tow truck! My 3 concerns, Dad, the car and the house all, maintained their mojo. What a week-end. Still, (still) it was good to get away. But do we ever totally get away? Maybe in Swahililand where cell phones don’t work. There are so many clichés I could use, even though I’d rather not, but there they are, wherever life takes you, you take life.

“Things run in threes.”

“Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it will “, and my favorite,

“You can run, but you can’t hide.”


In spite of life following us wherever we may go, I will continue to take little or big week-ends. And so should you.







It turns out I had the opportunity to go duck hunting this month. Woo doggies! Talk about exciting! It involved sitting for five hours in an underground bunker with peep holes to look out at the sky for approaching ducks. I only go on nice days, which makes little sense, because the ducks are on some beach of a lake and not ours. Probably in little cabanas and rum drinks. I was practically hyperventilating from the inactivity, while thinking of my massive to-do list, when Ron, the hunter next to me said, “Man, it doesn’t get any better than this!” I looked at him and had to bite my tongue, wanting to say, “REALLY, THIS IS IT?!?”  He meant it. Yes he did. And it made me think that “Doesn’t get any better than this!” (DGABTT) is different for all of us. Mine may be on the 96th floor of the Hancock Building gazing at Chicago, or looking at the Rocky Mountains, or just a simple glass of wine at the end of the day. The main thing is to find where your DGABTT is and go to it, if and whenever you can. It may be seldom. That’s when you engage imagery in your mind or with a desk photo on screen saver. Do it. Get it. Identify it. Got it?