Who? Us?

We are two disabled, oldish women who have been adventuring through life for years. We are talking about how disabilities, both visible and not, change the way we enjoy our retirement.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What about Restaurants?

I am vegan. I also use a scooter to get around.  Even when I could walk, being a vegan made most restaurants impossible for me to eat in.  

Most people do not understand what being a vegan means.  We eat no meat. No, not fish either, because fish is meat. We also don’t eat things with meat products in them. Gravy, for example, is usually made with some sort of meat product. So gravy is out. 

It seems as if people think that if you can’t see the meat, it’s OK to eat. An animal still had to lose its life to make that gravy.  

For me, being vegan has to do with health. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis over 40 years ago. I knew it was an autoimmune disease, an allergy, if you will. So I started experimenting with what I ate to see if that made any difference. I stopped eating red meat and I felt better and hurt less.  Then I stopped eating all meat and felt much better. Hmm, perhaps I was onto something.  

I have always been allergic to milk and dairy products.  Omitting those from my diet was more difficult because milk products hide everywhere. Look at labels and you will find lactose or casein in so very many of them.   

So I am a label reader. Even if the product I want to buy was milk free last week, that doesn’t mean it will be this time.  

You can easily see why restaurants don’t really want me as a customer. I spend no money and take up space as a non paying customer. The wait staff is inconvenienced and the restaurant doesn’t make a dime.

Add inaccessibility to that equation and it now becomes impossible for me to eat a dinner that I did not cook in my own kitchen. I often say, I don’t buy food; I buy ingredients.

It has always seemed strange to me that a restaurant could build a fancy new building with lots of space between tables, a bright shiny new kitchen that said they cook vegan food and then put ONE step to climb to get in the building.  Go figure.

Needless to say, we won’t be having dinner out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winter Storms Bring Flooding in Arkansas

You may have heard we have had flooding around here because of all the storms a few days ago. Did we ever!

Just to give you an idea of what all those storms did to Stone County after all those rains over the past days.  

These photos are from the Stone County Leader, a weekly that comes out either Tuesday or Wednesday of each week.

There’s water places where water never existed before. 

There's a bridge under  here somewhere.

No waterfall existed here before.

And this is the creek at our house
Our little creek at the bottom of our hill that usually is dry is not even close to dry now. Water is rushing through the culvert under the road is funneling water safely into our creek. We are at least 100’ up the hill, so have no fear of ever getting wet. That might look like snow, but it is water swelling our creek to river size.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Donna Speaks: Water, Water, Cool Muddy Water

There's been lotsa flooding in our neck of the woods over the past few days. If you listen to our astute weathermen and women, they'll tell you the flooding was caused by lotsa rain and the lotsa rain was caused by lotsa storms.  Lotsa folks 'round here supported their theory that lotsa rain caused lotsa flooding and all this was caused by lotsa storms. 

The news men and women have even interviewed these folks on TV.  Yesterday evening they interviewed one man whose home had been severely damaged by the lotsa rain, flooding, and storms.  In fact, a tree had fallen on one part of his home.  The man said, "Ya see this," The camera man showed picture of a smashed window with smashed blinds a'blowin in the wind.)  "Well," continues the interviewee, "that's my grandma's bedroom," the man's voice kinda choked up.  "If she'd been in her bed sleeping... well, it woulda killed her."  Almost sobs come through the mike.  "Yep, it woulda killed her... but she died about eight months ago."

Jan and I almost busted a gut at that.  "Yea, she'd been killed if she weren't dead."  What an interview.

All this rain, flooding, and storms reminded me of the same sort of weather that came through Wichita Falls, Texas many, many years ago.  I was driving a car full of fully habited nuns from Abilene to Wichita Falls for some sort of meeting.  We'd been driving through this weather for hours, but were almost at our destination.  

I came up to a creek with a low water bridge.  There was water running over it, but it didn't seem that deep.  We all put our veiled heads together, conferred, and made the decision to cross over.

As I got closer, I saw a sign but could not read what it said: the sign's lights were out. And it was dark, very dark. I slowly, ever so slowly, drove carefully, ever so carefully, over the bridge.

We could feel the water running very swiftly under the car.  My heart began beating so hard I was sure, if I looked down, I would see it hanging out of my chest.  It seemed to take forever, but we made it safely over.  

As we drove up onto the street and continued on our way, I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed a brightly lit sign positioned right before the low water bridge.  "Hmm," I thought, trying to read the two backward words.  It took a few seconds, but the words suddenly became crystal clear.  The words on the sign said: BRIDGE CLOSED.  

The BRIDGE CLOSED sign was O-U-T on the other side.  We'd crossed a c-l-o-s-e-d bridge.  Evidently, if you have four or more nuns together in a car, the car can drive on water.  Ya know, like levitate across. 

I informed my holy passengers.  After a brief pause there was a sudden, very loud burst of Catholic ejaculations*: "Holy Jesus", " Thank-You-Jesus", " Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph", "Oh, St Jude Saved Us", and on and on. These ejaculations were accompanied by the both-hands-raised-over-the-head gesture, which any Catholic in good standing, much less a nun, would never do in public.

Miss Althea, have a good day.

*"Ejaculation" is the official Catholic word for short bursts of prayer.  Really.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Things I Think About

Each year somewhere around now, I have a look back at my ever increasing years and write down things about myself that seemed important, at least at the time

1) I cannot seem to recover from PTSD following the loss of our house in Hurricane Katrina even if it has been 10 years.

2) I once took a year long motorcycle trip and visited every national park in the US.

3) I am so glad I did so much traveling when I was young and could enjoy it more.

4) I spent so much time in church as a youngster, I said I would never ever set foot in one again and haven't

5)  I spent years studying organized religion and realized that it is a huge power trip by the leaders who want only power and control over many.  National politics is much the same.

6) I am very spiritual, knowing that we are all part of the same natural web of life.  I find myself and all others in nature.

7)  I am probably the shyest person on earth.

8) I am completely at ease with a microphone in my hand standing in front of 10,000 people.

9) I question everything. Always have and always will.  It got me in lots of trouble and still does.

10) I love learning and never want to stop.

11) I read drug store trash novels.

12) Motorcycles mean freedom to me.

13) I only worked to feed my travel addiction.

14) Retirement is OK, but getting on a ladder or picking up something heavy is much harder to do.

15)  Surviving Katrina was the hardest thing I ever did. No, quitting smoking was the hardest thing I ever did. Surviving Katrina was the second hardest thing.

16) When I came out, the whole world suddenly came clear.

17) I think swimming is staying alive in the water, but I loved to water ski.

18) Sailing is a great way to spend any amount of time.

19) I rarely leave the house without a camera, but am not a great photographer and it's time I accepted that.

20) I am a hack writer. Most all writers are better than I am, but I still keep grinding out words.

21) Everything I have done in my life to make a living was a success.

22) I was 48 years old before I found my passion and earned a living at it.

23) The politicians of the United States are owned by corporations. Their running of the government is only an attempt to keep their jobs.  

24) I think my great-nephew is a really cool kid.

25) I moved to Arkansas to my dream house.  This house and land makes retirement fantastic.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

But, He Said He was a Christian.

Bertrand Russell:
“One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.”

My “Watch out for these people” antennae go up the moment I say, “Hi, how are you?” And they say, “I am blessed.” And they follow it up soon with, “I’m Christian.”  

I never quite know why they feel compelled to insert these life beliefs into their sentences because, in general, they are far from Christian, or any other of the major religions either. The minor ones are not considered either.

Frankly, I don’t care if someone is Christian or what beliefs they have as long as they are decent human beings; they don’t lie, cheat, steal, are kind to animals, and are free of bigotry and hatred.

Sadly I find these things that are the first and major tenets of every single religion lacking in the folks who loudly proclaim their beliefs. And I can’t figure out why.

Here’s the latest example: We visited some neighbors to drop off a loaf of fresh baked bread the day before Christmas.  They are new neighbors and we really didn’t know them well at all. They announced their Christianity when we entered the front door.

As we made idle chit chat and learned a bit about them, we found they cheered the confederate flag, were staunch haters of anyone different than they were. I’m surprised they let two lesbians in the house. Maybe they thought we were something else like sisters. Anyway, they emphasized their religion as they described their hate.

And they the wife continued with, “Did you see the letter in the paper from the ignorant atheist Yankee idiot who objected to putting ‘in God we trust’ on our police cars?”  I had to answer her by saying, “That was me who wrote that letter.” She just wanted anybody who came from somewhere else than Arkansas to stay where they were born or at the very least, go back there.  There was some silence after I said I was the one who wrote the letter.

Another example of people announcing their Christianity happened just a few days ago. We are selling our RV. A prospective buyer said he wanted it and would be here before yesterday to pick it up and have a check in his hand. He announced he had to go to church because, well, you know, he’s a Christian and all. And he blessed me every time we talked.  You know I was impressed with that.  

You already know the end of this. The man never called and never showed up. He hadn’t the balls to tell me he changed his Christian mind, so decided to lie by omission and just not show up or let me know he changed his mind.

That’s what good Christians do when they can’t face telling the truth: Just running away from a simple thing that could have been done with email, so he would not even have to talk to me would have been better than just ignoring what he had promised through many exchanges and phone calls.

But he’s a Christian and announced it. Why should I expect anything different?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Online Therapy

Virtual Counseling; An Online Option for Crisis Assistance

Since the internet has become available to most everyone, you can easily start or continue your therapy online with online therapy  Finding a life coach or mental health counselor online is easy. Depending upon your needs, you will look for someone with specific education and experience.

The Life Coach can be someone who can help you identify your life or career goals and give suggestions for reaching your goals.  The Life Coach may or may not have a counseling degree. Check the Life Coach’s references and vita before using his or her services.  There are many great life coaches out there. Finding one who fits you and your needs can easily be done online.

Another type of therapy is done by a person who is licensed, sometimes as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or Licensed Professional Counselor. These titles can be different in different states, but, in general, are people with a master’s degree from an accredited university who did a supervised internship and had to pass a state licensing examination.  They have been or are planning to be in private practice.

Reasons for availing yourself of online counseling can be varied depending on your needs.  Often distance can be a good reason.  If you live far from a counselor’s office, online therapy can be a lifesaver.  If your problems seem to be physical or organic, see a psychiatrist or your primary care physician for diagnostic work. If you are found to be not in need of medication to manage your condition, then seeing an online counselor can be a great way to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Another reason to do online counseling might be that your long term therapist retired or moved or perhaps you moved. You wish to continue seeing that same therapist, so you arrange to see him or her online. With the increased popularity of Skype, you can continue the relationship online.  

Online therapists are held to the same standards and hold the same licenses as the people you see face to face.  Before setting up any contract with an online counseling service, be sure to interview your counselor to be to assure you are a good fit. A good therapist might not specialize in your particular situation but will refer you to one that will better your needs.  

Donna continues to see some of her clients from South Louisiana even after we have been in Arkansas for over a year. They use either Skype or Facetime. It seems to be working for all of them.

Check it out. Online therapy might work well for you.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans - A holiday tradition since I can remember.

Have a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate. Hope your days are filled with love, kindness and laughter.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Trees, No, not that Kind

Fontainbleu State Park, Covington LA  Live Oak Tree

Can you see why we all love shade trees?  We even call a forest a cathedral because of the awe a forest of trees can inspire.  A landscape is not complete without trees.  We cannot live without trees because they give off oxygen so we can breathe.  Luckily we can pick out the trees we love best and have them in our own yards.  

In general, trees are sent to a nursery as large B and B trees. That means balled and wrapped in burlap. The tree is dug up, balled, wrapped and tied with twine for delivery or pick up.  When you buy a B and B tree, check to be sure the ball (roots of the tree) is at least 10 times the diameter of the tree. Measure 6" up to check the correct sizes of large B and B large trees.  So if the tree is 6” around, the ball must be 60” or 5’. That’s a lot of tree root and it’s important.

Occasionally you can transport large B and B trees yourself, but most of the time, you will want installers with a large truck and a tree dolly. They can plant your tree properly and give it the best chance of a healthy life. That means digging a hole the same depth as the tree is now and twice as wide. That’s a 10’ wide hole.  Are you sure you don’t want to hire somebody?  The best time to plant a tree is in the cool weather of fall, so the tree can develop healthy roots before it needs energy to grow leaves.

We really want to have the tree in the ground today and enjoy shade by the weekend.  Sadly, trees take a bit longer than that to provide wanted shade. Often several years have to pass before we can sit in a lawn chair, sip our lemonade and enjoy the shade.

Some good choices for shade trees are Ash trees. The Green Ash, Pop Ash and White Ash.  Each of these is a great specimen in the landscape and will provide shade. 

Baseball bats are made of ash so obviously they are a sturdy tree and will give you years of enjoyment.

Another great shade tree is a Japanese White Birch.  It's white bark stands out in contrast to other trees. One of the most popular trees, be sure to order early before the supply is depleted. The River Birch is another tree that is enjoyed for both its bark and shade. The leaves turn bright yellow in the fall and is spectacular.

We all love Red Maple trees. The red leaf color delights us  in the fall. During the rest of the year, we love this leafy tree. There are some 200 varieties of Maple Trees, so you can choose one that provides maple syrup if you wish.

Flowering trees are always a favorite in the landscape. Everyone loves the scent of Magnolias, Dogwoods, or Flowering Cherries.   The Redbud blooms early in the southern states and blooms before it leafs out. The entire tree is covered in blooms without a leaf to be seen.  It's a dramatic addition to the landscape.  Crepe Myrtle trees  are known as street trees, the ones you see next to roads or in cities because they are so hardy nothing can hurt them.  You can't miss with flowering trees.

Evergreen trees do not lose their leaves in the winter, hence the name evergreen.  Evergreen trees really do lose their leaves.  They just don't do it all at once in the winter. As their leaves age, they drop, so the tree looks green all year round

The Thuja Green Giant is most desired as a privacy plant because it grows so fast.  It can be used a hedge for good reason. Many of the hollies are great evergreens.  The Nellie R. Stevens is a good choice for an evergreen because it has a great pyramidal shape and resists pest damage.  A Mystic Ice Deodar Cedar is yet another great choice for the landscape.  Use it as a specimen plant as well rather than a hedge or windbreak.

We all have a love/hate relationship with fast growing trees. Many of them grow fast and die young. A fast grower means you may be able to sit under it in five to six years, figuring a growth rate of 1 - 2 feet a year.

Some exceptions are available however.  Look for a Northern Red Oak. They are pest resistant and do not succumb to most of the fast growing tree problems.  

The Freeman Maple is another fast grower.  It can grow to 75 or 80 feet, but provide plenty of room for it as it can reach 45 - 50 feet wide.

The Tulip Tree is another great fast growing tree. It grows 75- 90 feet high by 40-50 feet wide and often hides a brilliant chartreuse flower in spring time.

Regardless of what trees you choose, you will love them, as will your children and their children.  The earth will love you as well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Traveling Solo is the Way to Go.

Traveling alone is great.  You can go where you want, when you want, eat or not depending on your tastes and desires.  See the sights or relax in your motel or camper with no responsibilities to anyone except yourself.  It’s the epitome of selfishness and it’s wonderful.

The solo traveler has to think about safety.  It seems strange that solo travelers think they are safer at home, especially in a big city, than they are in another state or another country, but they do.  So observing a few common sense tips while traveling can make you feel more comfortable.

Keep track of your stuff

If you have a passport and are traveling in another country, don’t lose that passport.  Make a copy of it and keep the copy somewhere else. Stuff it in your boot, put it in your luggage or in the safe of your hotel room.  That way if you lose it, you can use that copy to get another passport. Leave another copy with a friend at home.  Do the same with a visa if you need one.  Oh, and before you leave, be sure your passport has not expired.  If it is, apply for a new one at least 2 months before you plan to leave.  Make a copy  your credit card and leave an extra with a friend in case you lose yours. 

Leave copies of your itinerary with friends as well. Don’t forget to include relevant telephone numbers and addresses.

Leave expensive stuff at home.

Don’t take anything that you might lose or might look attractive to thieves. Follow the same rules you would at home. 

Leave jewelry at home.  Even if you are dressing for dinner while traveling, you don’t need good jewelry.  People travel see the sights, not to see you.  

If you must have a watch, buy a cheap one to wear. But you are on vacation and should not need a watch.  

Use one credit card. Leave the rest at home.  

What about my health insurance and medications?

Check with your insurance company.  It’s possible you will need more insurance to cover any emergencies while out of the country.

Take all your daily medications with you.  Bring some extra in case yours gets lost or rained on.  Leave them in the labeled bottles that you got them in.

What about camping safety?

Many woman camp or travel by car by themselves these days.  Some carry a gun and feel safe.  If that makes you feel safe, then by all means do so.  Be sure you have the right one for you, have the proper licenses to have it and know how to use it.  Be prepared to use it if you feel you need to.  A dog might be better protection. The dog will protect you while you excuse yourself to find your gun, load it, aim it and shoot it while a dangerous attacker patiently waits for you.

Some solo travelers carry wasp spray.  It can shoot someone from 15 feet away, will not kill anyone and blind the would-be criminal while you call the police.

Too bad we have to teach the traveler to be safe as opposed to teaching people not to steal, rape or kill.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas and Religion


It’s Christmas time again. Everyone is so excited and want to celebrate peace as the holiday suggests.

But most Christmas celebrators are rushing around to malls spending money on things nobody needs or wants just to keep the big box  corporations’ profits coming in to fill the pockets of the CEOs. Or to show off to gift recipients that they have lots of money to spend.

The Christians have started their frenzied run-up to their holiday.  The nativity scenes are in yards, but for the most part, not on public lands, much to the Christians dismay.

But yet, you see they think that because they are so vocal in their hatred of other religions that they should be able to have the ‘freedom’ to impose their beliefs on the world in front of courthouses and other public spaces.

They also think that members of other religions need to be killed. That seems strange, doesn’t it, when Christianity, just like all other religions teach that killing is wrong, no matter what. 

There are well over 20 major world religions that celebrate a holiday this time of year, usually honoring the changing of the season and Christianity is one of them. Why they insist their way is the only and best one, I will never understand. 

And even if they do, why must they force it on others, even to the point of advocating death to the believers of other major religions.
Even now, radical Christian extremists are killing Muslims in the streets and sidewalks of the US.  And worse yet, the leaders of the Republican party are running on platforms that include blasting the countries who have Muslim populations off the face of the earth.  

Do we study the Crusades and the reason for the killing that happened during them in the name of Christianity? 

How about the Spanish Inquisition and the mass murder involved?

Are we really a country who thinks this way? I know we were when adolescents had a minor uprising during puritan times and religion resulted in the killing of women, a few men and some dogs who were considered witches.

Again, we saw it in Germany when Hitler ordered Jews, Romani people, Gays, and disabled people to be put in camps and exterminated.  And over 6 million people were killed.

During WWII, the Japanese were packed off to internment camps  because they were thought to be a danger to this country. Really?

And here we are again. Threatening people with death because of their religion. Have we learned nothing or are we simply blindly following so called leaders who yell the loudest? 

Monday, December 21, 2015

O Tannenbaum

How did our family of seven celebrate the holidays in the 50's with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who worked as a clerk for the Department of Agriculture?  On the cheap, of course.  

It was always a challenge for mom and dad to create fun times that cost little or no money.  However, they usually met, or exceeded, the challenge.

One very special holiday event was the Saturday trip to the woods to find a Christmas tree. We'd bundle up, or wear shorts and a T-shirt. (Remember, I'm from Louisiana).  Dad'd get the ax, saw, clippers, rope, etc., etc. and we'd all pile into the car. The four girls stuffed into the big back seat of the black '53 Plymouth like pimentos in olives.  Little brother sat in front, between mom and dad. No seat belts were needed back then 'cause the automobiles were built like Sherman tanks. And anyway, nobody had ever thought of any seat belt.

When dad'd find a good spot in the woods, he'd park, we'd pop out and scatter.  It was a coup to be the one to find the "perfect" tree.  "Here," one of us'd yell.  "No... over here," another'd cry out.  Finding the tree was important, but being in the woods, running up and down hills, playing hide n' seek, chasing each other was equally important.

The found tree would be lashed to the top of the plymouth with ropes going through all the windows and finally secured at the front and back bumpers.  Car bumpers in the 50's were very substantial - made out of metal not cheap plastic - so our tree was safe.

On the ride home mom'd start singing and we'd all chime in with Deck the Hall, Jingle Bells, and an attempt at Silent Night.  Soon, though, the kids'd be drifting off to sleep. Dad'd stretch his arm across the back seat, over little bro's bowed head, to fold into mom's.  As I sat in back seat, dosing, I'd watch dad gently rub mom's hand.    

We'd get home and, inevitably, the tree would be too tall and, often, too wide to go through the door.  Dad'd end up having to make many "adjustments".  These adjustments were usually accompanied by lotsa "god-damn-son-of-a-bitches", "shit-fire-and-safe-the-matches", etc.

By the time Dad'd finally get the "tannenbaum" in the house, in a stand, and watered, it'd be bed time.  And, a firm, "No", would be the answer to our pleadings to stay up late and start decorating.  Mom or Dad would allege that, "You're all too tired." But, truth be told, mom and dad were the exhausted ones.    

Merry Christmas! 
Frohliche Weihnachten! 
Feliz Navidad!                                  
Joyeux Noel! 
Feliz Natal! 
Buon Natale! 
Happy Hanukkah!

Seasons Greetings, Miss Althea!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I have know Pauline Conn for several years now and have appreciated her art for every one of those years.  She has written a bio for me to spotlight on this blog and I do so with enthusiasm.

To quote Pauline:

“I’ve always been an artist. I started as a child with oil paints and clay. I've studied art in Minneapolis, Fort Worth, Corvallis Oregon and Taos NM. I've lived all over the country and am now a full-time RVer. 

 In Taos I studied plein air oil painting for several years with artist Barbara Bartels. We met weekly for 5 years, painting outside in the summer and doing studio work in the winter.

I also completed around 1000 hours of art study at the University of New Mexico, Taos, in Portraiture, 2  Dimensional Design and Life Drawing. I exhibited in various locations, including the famous Fall Arts Festival in Taos.

I'd always loved watercolor and had studied it in Texas, where I lived before I moved to Taos.  When I moved to Oregon I found an artist who taught pen and ink contour drawing, watercolor and colored pencil and studied with her for about 4 years.
I currently winter in Arizona and summer in the Pacific Northwest.  In Arizona I am juried in to the Artists of the Superstitions art association. We do 5 shows a year. plus I do other shows throughout the year. I now concentrate on pen and ink contour drawing, watercolor and colored pencil.

I love this work and love teaching it. I feel that I can teach anyone how to draw. I currently teach at the RV park where we spend the winter,  and also teach Artistic Travel Journaling at Central Arizona College. I sell at the shows, plus off my facebook page (Pauline Conn Art) and Etsy.”

Now you know more about my friend, Pauline. Check out her sunflowers, frogs and chickens at 

I guarantee you will want to own one of her pieces.  Here are some more samples:

These are available in prints or in greeting cards. Prices on her Etsy site 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Friday in the Tub

Are you ready for another episode of Friday in Mountain View?  It's an exciting day around here. Yesterday was no exception because the cardinals came to visit.

Bathtime starts for the male after the female scouts around to make sure everything is safe.

Get wet all over.

Come up for air once in awhile.

Be sure you wash everywhere.

About time to preen now

Can you tell we are easily entertained around here and also why we love it so much.  The birdbath is a small tub. A submersible pump pumps water through that hole you see in that rock on the left. There are rocks in the bottom of the tub that water covers about an inch deep. That way the birds can always touch the bottom, so they feel safe.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sunrise on the Mountain

We live on the top of a mountain in Mountain View. This is not a mountain like you think of when you think of mountains.  It’s 1200’ high, so you won’t get altitude sickness when you visit. I doubt your ears will pop when you drive up from the town itself either. 

Our mountain is an old worn down mountain with no topsoil left on it after thousands of years of wear.  We have stone for soil.  Luckily we are manufacturing soil with leaves from the hundreds of thousands of trees we still have here.   Logging is continuing even as we speak as our mountain gets raped and ravaged by the greedy men with their killing machines and huge trucks.

But our mountain is still beautiful.  Our piece of it, our 6 acres is pristine. We allow no pollution in or on our piece of earth.  No pesticides or insecticides are allowed here. We don’t even allow cigarettes to be smoked here.  

Critters love the resort we provide for them and show it by doing no harm to us or our doggies as they interact. Well, the doggies must bark at the squirrels because, hey, that’s what dogs and squirrels do. Its the game they play.  Squirrels taunt them by coming down the tree and waggling tails to catch their eyes. Then as the dogs chase, the squirrel races back up the tree.

The back of our house faces east so a sunrise lights up the trees in front of the house and of a warm winter morning, when the fog is asleep in the valley, the sun wakes it up with scenes like this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Donna Speaks: Almost Climbing Mt Rainier

Jan and Donna went up Rainier.  Up and Up they went.  
Through the snow they trudged. And trudged.  And trudged.  

Often stopped, they did, surely to look at the view.  
And to suck, suck, suck air into to their lungs born somewhere way below the sea.  

Strewn along the way were warm, warm clothes.  A sweater here.  A polar-tech vest there.         
Like Hansel and Gretel, to find their way back, surely.  

Soon, Jan cried, "Halt!  In the name of my poor aching body, halt."  Obedient Donna did.  
"Oh, please," spluttered Jan.  "No more can I up this hill go. Done it before, I did.  Remember the top, I do.  But did it again, I cannot."  

"Goodness gracious", Donna thought, "The altitude has left her brain with naught."  

Thinking, a plan Donna conceives.  "Lie down in the snow," she tells the weeping one. "Perpendicular to the mountain top," Donna urges. 

"Tuck your hands and arms to your chest, inside your vest.  Down over your chinny-chin-chin that knit hat pull." 

Jan, without the strength to resist, does as her loving partner requests.  She lies there, knowing not what is to come next. 

Donna approaches.  One snow-booted foot up and poised. Shove she does Jan's motionless body. Down hill with such force that Jan was soon rolling an rolling.  Like Tina Turner rolling.  

Picking up speed.  Faster and faster she went; a large snowball careening down, down, downhill.

The snowball soon was all one could see of the Jan that done did it and her Rainier memories.                                  

Happy Holidays, Miss Althea. 

NOTE:  We made it about 1/3 of the way up Mt. Rainier that day.  The very next morning, they closed Rainier because the weather had suddenly warmed, making the ground beneath the snow very muddy. The conditions were ripe for a major avalanche, mud-snow slide.  It coulda' been two snowballs a'rolling down that big ole hill.

Ozark Folk Center Redux

We went to the holiday craft show at the Ozark Folk Center last Saturday.  When I go there, I need to use my scooter constantly as the Folk Center is built in and on hills, up and down steps. I have to admit that they have made huge advances in past years to make it accessible to all of us. There are ramps now, elevators to get people up and down where there were steps before. Oh, the steps are still there, but so is the elevator.

The doors to the entries, whether through the gift shop or through the administration building still need two people to open them. There is no button to push to make them open, nor are the doors activated by motion like at Walmart. 

The bathrooms are inaccessible. In fact my scooter won’t even get near them. A person in a wheelchair would find low toilets like everyone used to have, but in one bathroom, I found a grab bar so I could haul myself up from those tiny toilets.

But they try. 

Maybe during this winter when they are closed, they could make those doors open with a button and put in a few taller toilets with grab bars.

I could get in the buildings where the displays were with no problems. Sometimes the display spaces required 10 point turns, but I was welcomed warmly and heard absolutely no comments like “Why do you expect special things just for you?” Or, “You could just stay home and not make us spend all this money on you people.” 

Oh, you don’t believe people say those things?  Ride a block in my shoes. You would be amazed at the words that come from ordinary people’s mouths. 

Wait, no, you wouldn’t. You are hearing worse words from our Republican presidential candidates every day. And many of you are embracing those very hate filled words. I am so sorry you are so filled with hate that you feel like you have found your tribe when you hear potential leaders spewing filth filled hate.

But, I digress.  Ozark Folk Center, you are doing so very well making your wonderful park accessible. Your chief gardener Tina Wilcox said that she has had an sign language interpreter for her classes. Is that great or what?  And she is wanting a few alterations to her greenhouses so she can accommodate people who use wheelchairs.  I have a few ideas about how she can do that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Donna Speaks: Fool, Not Queen, for a Day

I've gotta suggestion to make your holidays lighter and brighter: Be a Fool for a Day.  

Go on.  It'll do you good.  Really help your mental health.   Make you grow so much as a person. 

What do I mean?  Well, you could wear a silly hat. Or when doing your make-up, draw your eyebrows uneven.  If you have a particular "body" gift, do it as you're talking to a co-worker or friend.  Two of my gifts are that I can wiggle my ears and curl the sides of my tongue up.  

I can also talk "Donald Duck Talk" pretty good.  Or, how 'bout wearing your shirt in-side-out and see if anyone says anything.  Don't you wanna grow as a person?  Go on, do it!

Some years ago, I waxed poetic about being a fool. The result was "A Fool Like Me". 

Here it is.

You call me Fool
Even if you do
Calling me
A Fool
Does not a fool of me make
I choose to be a fool
For I go where you dare not
Say what you will not
Do things you only dream
And even regret the dream of doing
Though you may 
beckon me
"Hey, Fool!"
I know
Your secret
If you could
You would
Be a fool like me

Happy Holidays, Miss Althea. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Get Out of My Bathtub!

We lovers of the outdoors and the critters who inhabit it have a skewed idea of how things out there sort things out. We think of birds as gentle and peaceful creatures who live out their days in harmony within their environment. 

Au Contraire.  The little and beautiful birds do not share nicely, are territorial and threaten violence at every opportunity.  Witness the scene at the birdbath.

This is MY bathtub. There's no room for you.

Did you hear me? Get out!

Not far enough. Keep going.

And stay there, ya hear.

No love lost in the birdie kingdom where baths are concerned.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Do You ever Wonder what Happened?

Do you ever think about people you have known during your life, maybe even known well, but now they are no longer in your life?  One friend looked like Rhonda Fleming and went to Chicago for acting school? Another wore big boots and rode motorcycles. And yet another came through town and drank you under the table, then left never to be seen again. There was that photographer you knew for a few years. Whatever happened to her?

Do you wonder where they are or what they are doing?  Do you think about why they are not around anymore and what happened? Who really left? Was it you or the other person?

 Do you ever wonder if they think of you? And if they think of you at all, do they do it with fondness, with good memories or with disgust, and glee that you are gone, no longer bothering them?  

I wonder about many folks I have known throughout my almost 75 years on this planet. I may have known some in school or at a job. Some may have been neighbors, friends, even good ones, traveling companions or co-workers.  

But now they are absent from my life and I wonder why?  Did they get angry and leave on purpose?  Did they move away? Did they just drift away and move on to other people and things?  Did they want to move on or did it just happen?   

With all the online ways to find people these days, one would think that rekindling a friendship would be easy.  But it is not necessarily so. My generation is not as comfortable with the electronic miracles we have, so often are not in online data bases. And if they are, do we get back in touch? Or do we not?  

Is our fear of rejection so great that we dare not reach out again after, often years, of not being in touch?  

Do you wonder if that person ever looks for you and thinks the same thing?

Lots of question marks in these sentences and not one question answered, but that doesn't stop the wondering.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tell Me About it

If you want folks to buy your product or use your services, you have to tell them where you are and what you do.  That's called advertising and no matter how you do it, you have to do it.   Most of you know that I started and ran businesses all my working life, the last one being building and maintaining ornamental garden ponds.  

I had friends who also started businesses during their working lives and those businesses failed. Why? They said they did not have enough money to advertise.  So nobody knew who they were and the business closed its doors.  

I also had no money to advertise, but there are so many alternatives.  Back before Twitter, Facebook, Mashable, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and the multitudes of interactive social media existed, we had to tell people about us in old fashioned ways.  But we advertised.  Some advertised on TV, but wow, was that expensive.  Newspapers were not all that much better.  

So how did I tell folks who I was and what I did, especially since building ponds was unheard of unless it was a pond that livestock drank out of. I had to visit nurseries and make them know me, speak to countless garden clubs, hand out business cards, print brochures and beg business places to make a space on their counters for me.  

And one can never stop advertising.  You don't see McDonalds stopping, or Walmart.  If you stop, your customers stop calling, dropping by and buying, no matter how big your business is.

Now we have all of the social media. I don't know if they work for small businesses or not, but I do know that the more people know your name, the more people know your name. And that’s important.

A friend of mine, Pauline Conn is an artist. She sells her magical art on Etsy, specifically PaulineConnArt http://ow.ly/Vqo2E 

See, that was a clever way to slip in some advertising. But unless she tells people about her business, not a soul will ever know how talented Pauline is and how to have some of her paintings at their houses.

And now Donna and I write an (almost) daily blog: 

How do you suppose we get readers?  Check me out on twitter at @pondlady. You may find advertising there. And it’s free.