Living Every Day as Thanksgiving

What's a few warped books?

What’s a few warped books?

Some days are harder than others, but when we can put our life in perspective, the world turns.

Yesterday as I prepared for the holiday, I received a call from my daughter. “I’ve got some bad news, Mom.” My heart sank. It’s not a call you want to receive, and those are words you never want to hear.

It seems books I’d had mailed to her place in Florida for two upcoming book signings had arrived. Only the mailman decided that the best way to deliver to her apartment would be to leave the box in the parking lot on a day of torrential rains in northeast Florida. She sent a photo of the books, and my heart sank to see those babies of mine all warped and useless. I fumed; I fussed; I used the “f” word in more ways than I did in this sentence.

And then sometime this morning in the wee hours of sleeplessness on how to proceed, it came to me. They are books. They are things that can be replaced. My daughter, my husband and others I love cannot be replaced.

San Antonio River Walk November 2014

San Antonio River Walk
November 2014

Today I am grateful for both the health of my husband and myself. We’ve had a hell of a two years, but now we’re out on the other side of it. You never know to appreciate your health until it’s no longer there.

I am one proud Momma of a very talented, thoughtful, and kind daughter. What more could a parent wish for when the longest and most important job in our life begins? I’m amazed that I had anything at all to do with this generous and conscientious human being.

There are so many people and things for which to be grateful this season and every day of the year. I plan on celebrating them all, even the damp books that may simply get donated to someplace that doesn’t mind reading material not quite in pristine condition.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the United States. And to all the rest, just a simple Happy Days. May you find peace wherever you may be.

With gratitude,


Serendipity at Sixty

Serendipity in San Antonio

Serendipity in San Antonio

Next month a milestone birthday visits me when I turn sixty years old. Sixty? Are you kidding me? How can I be sixty when I still feel thirty?

I’ve become more intro- and retrospective this year because I know for sure I’m beyond what we refer to as “middle-aged.” And I’m not sure how it happened.

Serendipity seems to follow me these days, or perhaps because I’m contemplating my life from all angles, I’m much more aware of those things. The latest serendipitous moment occurred this week when I traveled to San Antonio with my husband, who was attending a conference in the river city. I happened to be cruising on Facebook our second morning here when I saw that my childhood friend, Jodi, was also in San Antonio visiting her son and family.

Such a serious child

We grew up together in a small Michigan town. Her family lived four doors up from me, and Jodi and her brothers were my only childhood friends until I started school. My mother was very protective of me, and I was not allowed to play much outside of my own side and back yard. So Jodi and Jimbo often came to me, thankfully. I didn’t have a happy childhood for the most part, but Jodi’s free spirit and friendly smile brought some of my happiest memories to me there on Cherry Street.

Jodi moved to Denver, and I moved to Florida. We lost contact with one another until the advent of Facebook, where we reconnected once again. We met up at her house two years ago in Colorado when we traveled there from our home in Pittsburgh for yet another conference. It was lovely meeting her husband, seeing her house, and catching up.

So when I saw she was in the same city, I messaged her, and we met for lunch yesterday, without the hubbies. It was a lunch where we lost track of time–Jodi was almost late for picking up her granddaughter from preschool.

Here’s what I most enjoyed about the lunch: I’ve known this woman since my earliest memories, which means I’ve known her almost sixty years. We’ve borne children, gone through serious and fun times without each other knowing; we bear some lovely white hairs, have a few wrinkles around our eyes, and we’ve lost loved ones. Yet as I sat there amid the dirty plates and mostly empty margarita glasses, I saw her as the young playmate who brought her toys down to play with me in my yard. And I realized that because of this pretty woman sitting across from me, I do have some childhood memories worth remembering.

When Elvis walked by our table in his white cape and pumped-up black hair, our day was complete, even though he ignored our requests of a photo with him. He didn’t even throw us a scarf as he left the building. But we giggled like ten-year old kids when he swept by without a word.

Serendipity is the “phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for” according to Merriam-Webster. Our lunch together was both valuable and agreeable, so if turning sixty means these phenomena happen more frequently, then bring it on. I’m ready.feather

Serendipity can come softly like a feather floating down from the sky or it can hit us like a sledgehammer on the head. No matter how it enters my life, I’m ready to embrace it.

Do you recognize serendipity when it floats softly into your life?


#Veterans Day with Denise Kahn’s Warrior Music

All the best to our Veterans.


WARRIOR MUSIC COVER All sales go to support our Veterans, November 8-15

I welcome Denise Kahn (see my interview with her from 2013), author of the Music Trilogy series and Split-Second Lifetime (my review). She has a special message, and a special offer where you can help our Veterans. During the week of November 8-15, she is donating all of the proceeds from the sale of the third book in the trilogy, Warrior Music, to a Veterans organization. The book is on sale for .99 cents and well worth the price. But I’ll let Denise explain a little more about her donation and her giveaways in honor of Veterans Day.

From Denise Kahn:

Warrior Music is in honor of my son, who gallantly served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For this reason, during this Veterans Day week, November 8-15, I am doing a promotion to honor and help our Veterans. It is but…

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Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory

PhippsGlassHouseFlashback to 2009, and the invitation to visit my now husband in Pittsburgh where he lived. I’d never had the city on my top ten places to visit, and Robert knew I was reluctant to travel to what I thought of as a dirty city. That’s why soon after my plane landed, he took me to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

First of all, the drive there from the airport dispelled my idea of black smoke still encircling the city. We drove through the Fort Pitt tunnel into the sunshine of downtown Pittsburgh and the meeting of three mighty rivers. We drove on to Oakland, the home of the University of Pittsburgh. On the other side of Panther Hollow lies the glass house. Henry Phipps commissioned the conservatory in 1892 to give the steel workers in Pittsburgh a place of beauty and fresh air in the middle of the pollution he and Andrew Carnegie helped create with their steel mills eventually purchased by U.S. Steel.


One of many works of art from Dale Chihuly

Botanical gardens in large greenhouses were all the rage in the Victorian Era, and so the Phipps was built in the best tradition of the very first one, the Glass House of London. Today there’s a new entrance with welcome center, gift shop, and nationally recognized cafe. However, it’s when I step into the Palm Court, the very first room of the nine original glass houses, I am transported back in time, trying to imagine what it must have been like for the average Pittsburgh family to step into that room with its abundance of oxygen and lushness as an antidote to the harsh conditions of the outside world.

Here Phipps created an environment of health and beauty. He required the conservatory be free and open on Sundays to ensure his workers could come and enjoy.

Palm Court decorated with mums

Palm Court decorated with mums

From the moment I stepped inside, I fell in love with all of the rooms in the original structure, and those built in later years to house a tropical rain forest, a spice and fruit room, discovery gardens, edible gardens, and a Japanese garden.

One of my favorite rooms is the East Room now abloom with mums. This room resembles a natural woodland although decorated with the seasonal fall flowers. It will change with the holiday show set to open the day after Thanksgiving.

But there’s something else spectacular going on at the Phipps. It’s becoming a premier vision for a sustainable world. All water that comes into Phipps stay in Phipps through recycling in one form or another. Electricity is manufactured through solar panels and wind turbine. Heating and cooling in many of the rooms is passive through the use of computers to open and shut panels for the appropriate temperatures. Fans come on automatically to move air when needed.

Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens


Mums in full bloom

It’s a beautiful place. That’s why in September, I started training to become a museum docent. I’m now trained to give tours, but I still need to do a practice tour with an official. However, there is so much to know about this beautiful place that I don’t feel ready to conduct a tour. I’m in awe of the history and its place in Pittsburgh. I want to be sure I do it justice when I tell others about it.

East Room

East Room

So now I go and do shifts as a stationary docent. I stand in rooms and engage folks in conversation about the conservatory. They see my name badge and come up and ask me questions. I’m beginning to feel more and more comfortable in my role as Phipps expert. Yesterday I chatted with children and adults. I helped college students on a quest to find a particular rose, which we never did find, but it was great fun taking them through the rooms on the search. I may have imparted some information, but I was the real winner.

Ready to give a tour

Ready to give a tour

On a windy and cold fall day in Pittsburgh, I was transported into a wonderland of lush plants, colorful plants, and rich oxygen. Not a bad way to spend a day.

And by the way, I was wrong about Pittsburgh almost six years ago. It’s  now the place I call home.