Bobbe White Writes

Perspective – it’s a pretty big deal.

tHe FuNnY sIdE oF cHrIsTmAs — December 14, 2016

tHe FuNnY sIdE oF cHrIsTmAs

The White Pages – December 14, 2016                                                                                                    Bobbe White

Written for WTAD.COM 

As the days until Christmas count down, stress levels mount up and up and up, until you feel as if you’re going to blow a gasket. It’s tough to get your gasket repaired this time of year. I have no idea what a gasket is or does, but in human terms I imagine it’s the holiday flu, or the holiday blues, or the terrible two’s (like watching adults act as if they’re two again. You know: becoming sick, cranky and fussy, with a tendency to meltdown into a puddle of tears.) A powerful time of the year is upon us; Thanksgiving bustles right into Christmas. To survive emotionally, try finding some comic relief where ever you can.

Remembering memories that make us laugh is one way to feel better for a moment. A moment? Hey – one moment’s better than none. It’s about jiggling and releasing those funny memories in your brain.  Anytime you hear yourself say, “That reminds me of the Thanksgiving or Christmas when…”  you may want to write it down so you don’t forget it for another fifty years. Remember, it doesn’t matter if your memory is funny to anyone else. I do recommend sharing, because you might get somebody else laughing and sharing their funny memories. Here are some of mine.

At Thanksgiving, our daughter, Korey, suggested downsizing: “Start by throwing out everything in this house that’s broken!” I started with our 30-year old dead microwave, because heating up Thanksgiving leftovers was a drag. Okay, we’re spoiled, but we’re still in a hurry; family needed to hit the road. I purchased a microwave the next Monday; installation was three days later. It’s great having a nuker again, except its position to the adjacent cabinet prohibits no more than a 45 degree door opening of this model. I’ll have to fold a pizza, I guess.  I texted Larry, the installer, to (1) thank him for his service and (2) ask, “Do microwaves ever open from the other side?” Here’s the text I received:


I began laughing, then crying from laughter. You know, “Craughter.” It was awesome. I thanked Josh for the advice and the laugh. He said, it wasn’t a problem and to have a good day. Did I EVER!

A co-worker is trying to pull off “Elf on the Shelf” for her four-year old daughter by posing Skittles in different household activities nightly. Skittles is the elf’s name. I had no idea that they must be named. Anyway, one morning last week, Madelyn ran to Mom to report Skittles had been in the flour bag and was just a white mess. “Skittles is soooooooooo sh*t!” she said.  “EXCUSE ME?!?!” said Mom. “Skittles is soooooooooooo sh*t!” Madelyn said again, bubbling with giggles.  Mom searched madly for a better word. The word. The right word.  “Do you mean “SILLY?”  And Madelyn replied, “Yeah, Skittles IS silly!”


Another co-worker’s grandson had shopped at their church’s children’s bizarre. Anderson proudly announced he’d purchased a pencil eraser for his one-year old brother. And a ruler for his mom. That reminded me of the one Christmas, my kids picked out peach-colored golf socks and an O.D. green puffy headband for me. I wore the socks a lot.  The headband?  Not so much. I wish I’d kept both items, because the combination makes me smile every time. Finally, co-workers were sampling a Kris Kringle exchange gift of Goat Milk hand lotion. It smelled horrible. Then one of the guys tried a dab, and said, “It’s not baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!” An answer with which any goat would be impressed.

Have a great pre-holiday week and remember to jot down your funnies so you can enjoy and share them this an every holiday season. It will help, I promise.


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.”



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.