Found …

There’s a beautiful paved walking trail by my place of work. Walking on my lunch hour is a regular event that clears my mind and brings the world into focus. I spotted a piece of paper, which is out of place as not much litter is found on the trail, so I stop to pick it up.

Turns out, it’s a small triangular folded packet and when unfolded, it’s a sweet little love letter which makes me smile and to also feel guilt for reading words that were not intended for my eyes.

Did it fall out of the senders pocket on their way to deliver it? Did the recipient lose it out of their backpack, not having the chance to read it? Or did the sender get cold feet or the recipient intentionally leave it on the trail, to find a new home?


Lost in the Sticks

As a family, we’d always live more or less in the ‘sticks’ – there were never any sidewalks, or pavement other than a road with no shoulders, no matter where we called home, we were far enough away from town that you needed a car to get to the library or store. While I had friends in school, I never had any that lived close to hang out with after school or on weekends until we moved to LaCanada Drive. For the first time, I had a friend who lived close enough that we could walk paths through adjoining property to play. Her name was Kim and her family had a pool, mine horses and we spent many summer days that year playing with our Barbie’s, eating Popsicle from the chest freezer in her family’s garage. When we moved, as we always did, I was 10 and asked if she would write me and be my pen pal – she said yes. Over the next seven years, I know I wrote many childish and lonely letters to her, sharing school stories, favorite music and activities – it was wonderful to me to keep connected to that piece of innocence & friendship through those letters, despite all of our moves and various homes across a couple of states. Her letters in the beginning shared much of the same interests but as time passed, we wrote less and her letters were more perfunctory in nature, which I didn’t really realize at the time (oh hindsight!).

After graduating from high school, I received a wedding invitation from Kim and I was surprised as it made me realize that she’d never talked about a boyfriend or even about her other friends in her letters over the years. I didn’t have a boyfriend and couldn’t imagine being ready to marry or share my life with another person for the ‘rest of my life’ as I viewed marriage at that age. There were so many new things coming – college, moving away from home, being on your own – there were so many things new to experience. Living two states away, readying to start my first year of college, I didn’t have money to fly to attend the wedding, instead spending the money I had on a wedding gift and shipping it with best wishes.

I was surprised to receive a wedding photo (she looked beautiful!) and thank you card a month later from her Mom. About a week after that, I received a letter from Kim, telling me that she would not be writing to me “ever again”, that she’d never really wanted to write to me in the first place or for all of those years, but that her Mom had insisted and now that she was married, she no longer had to communicate with me (i.e. obey her Mom).

I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t understand how her Mom could have ‘made’ her write all of those years (I would have stopped & told my Mom that she had quit writing!) or the venom that seemed to be contained in her words. Apparently, ‘having’ to write me over the years and reading about my boring life had been a huge bur under her saddle for a long time.

Her letter made me realized how naive I was about friendship, how few friendships I had that were long term in length because we moved so often and how fleeting friendship truly was. I also thought a lot about how little I knew of her when I thought I knew more.

It was a loss of innocence, friendship and a lesson in growing up, no longer believing or taking things at face value but always having to look under the ‘covers’ of comments, notes or questioning intent. I think about her every and and then and wonder how her life turned out.

Part of the Plan

Music is the background for my life – play a song and I can relay a feeling, a person, or a snapshot in time with it. Music can bring me up or bring me down – songs come with many memories and feelings and it’s so hard to pick just three.


I grew up with the Beach Boys as the soundtrack to my summers at Huntington Beach. While they were ‘old school’ to current radio at that time, they defined California, summers & beaches in a way that no one else has. My Mom would wake us up early for the trip during the summer week days – wearing our swimsuits under jeans and sweatshirts because it was always so cold & foggy when we got there – she never liked crowds and we would leave before the beach became too crowded. A battered plaid thermos of hot chocolate was always in the back seat and first thing we would do when we got there was to slip off our Keds, lay out the blanket with the thermos to mark our spot, turn on the little portable radio and head out looking for shells.  As the fog rolled away and the sun started to shine, it would be inevitable that at least a few Beach Boys tunes would come on the radio as we spent our morning chasing the waves. Hearing any of their songs now, instantly I can feel the sand between my toes, smell the sea air and hear a seagull overhead even tho I am thousands of miles away from that beach.



FM was something new and different from the radio stations I listened to growing up. It wasn’t the top 10 hits over and over, but bits and pieces of people I’d never heard of, album cuts and DJ’s who talked about the artists and their lyrics without talking over the beginning or endings of songs. One of my first loves on FM was a Dan Fogelberg song, “Part of the Plan”. My 1967 Mustang had a small FM unit installed under the dash and that was all I listened to driving to college each day, hoping to hear this song, turning it up loud & singing along each time it was played.

I was the first in my family to attend college, very unsure of most everything as I had no role models and no real family support/encouragement for going to college in the first place – I didn’t know what I was going to do with this degree and many of the lyrics of that song resonated with my spirit and the questions I had.

I have these moments, all steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know, I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself starting to crumble
The meanings get lost and the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what you’re going to do next
You wait for the sun but it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through
And it says to you
Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must that’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand

And it was the last lyric of the song and guitar chords that gave me both spirit & hope that it would make sense if I just kept at it, you don’t have to know everything upfront to keep going.

But all of the answers you seek can be found
In the dreams that you dream on the way

Even today, hearing that song has the same soothing effect.


Pirate and Tripod

Grew up on a small ‘farm-ette’ with horses, chickens, rabbits and of course dogs. Somewhere between the age of 5 and 6, our family dog, Duke the Dalmatian died and when the school let out, our Mom picked us up in the wood paneled station wagon, taking us to the grocery store and then to the pound (wasn’t called a shelter in those days) to get a new dog. Our family dogs were ever present, keeping all types of wildlife from the chickens & rabbits and sleeping on the floor of our shared bedroom – I don’t remember a time growing up without at least one or two or more dogs.

My Mom pulled out her ever present grocery list as we stopped at the tall front desk, asking which dogs were going to be put to sleep that day. The officer behind the counter flipped through the clipboard, reciting as she wrote down the kennel numbers on the blank back of the list.

As we walked back through the double swinging doors into the cement & chain linked kennels that lined either side of the walkway – she held the list out to my sister and I, saying that the dogs in these numbered kennels were the dogs we could choose from. Of course, there were a number of puppies and both my sister & I were drawn to them again and again as we walked both sides of the isle. Mom finally said “listen girls, we’re here to pick out a dog from this list, these are the ones that need our help because they are going to be put to sleep. The puppies will quickly be adopted by other people.” My Mom must have realized that we didn’t understand “put to sleep’, so taking us by the hand, she led us off to the far corner where she explained what it really meant, which set both of us off into tears. She gave us a few minutes then she said “quick, we’ve got to pick out our dog from this list and get home so I can get dinner started”. Life as well as death was always very matter of fact from her.

That day is forever cemented in my mind as we came home with not one but two dogs, Pirate and Tripod, we were not original or creative  at that age – every dog we knew was named Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin. You can probably guess that Pirate had one eye and Tripod had three legs – we KNEW no one would want them, which made us want them all the more, knowing their fate if we did not choose them. The lessons of caring for animals I think was burned into of our DNA after that experience.

While we moved a number of times and any number of dogs have been a part of my life, I’ve never forgotten those two dogs, the smell of bleach that had cleaned those cement kennel floors right before we arrived and learning that ‘put to sleep’ did not mean what we thought. Over the years, I often think about the number of dogs on that list that we were not able to choose, but whose number was up that day, despite our tears.

I have always had rescue/shelter dogs in my life – have never purchased from a breeder or store – the guilt of who would have to die in a shelter, in their place would be more than I could bear.


Happy Birthday, Riley!

Sunday was what would have been Riley’s 11th birthday. Lost him 18 months ago to cancer after 9.5 years together and never dreamed that I would still be mourning his loss in my life. At least thinking of him now makes me smile as my eyes water. In my mind, see both the chunky monkey 12lb puppy I adopted from the rescue in eastern WA and the gorgeous amber eyed 84lb pup I held as he drew his last breath. No matter his age, was always able to see that ‘inner puppy’ in his face throughout his years. He will forever be the pup of my heart as that seems to be where he took root and has remained.

The first year without him, I send four beautiful sapling trees to a shelter in California that had put together a new play yard for their dogs but had no shade. It was such a rewarding thing to do for me, helping me heal by thinking of trees growing over the years, providing shade for other shelter pups. This years it was 11 cases of canned puppy food for a shelter in Oregon who had an abundance of abandoned puppies and 11 bags of small breed dog food for another shelter in California with many of the little chi’s, knowing that every rescue group / shelter needs help so more “Riley’s” can find their forever homes.

“Dogs never die, they lie sleeping in our hearts and they are alive in our dreams”

Happy Birthday Riley Roo, loved you then, love you still, always have, always will.

June 30 Day Challenge – #20



20 – Happy Friday! You made it! Smile and say cheese

I will let the box of Frost donuts (so sad when the empty box is in the recycle bin!) here at work say my “cheese” for me! I threatened Danny with a plastic fork to the head if he didn’t let go of my maple bar with bacon – bwahaha!