How Londoners Fight Terrorism

While Danny and I prepared for our trip to Europe, we heard about the terrorist attack in Manchester, England. Our whole vacation started with London at its heart. I would attend the Bloggers Bash on June 10th.

We didn’t change our plans.

Instead, we drove from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Scotland when I noticed London trending on Twitter. To be honest, a second terrorist attack so soon after Manchester gave me pause. Was it an outbreak?

We didn’t change our plans.

After a fabulous week in Scotland, we flew to Gatwick airport and took the train to London. I wondered if police presence would be everywhere. Would any of the tourist attractions be open? Would we have to stick around the neighborhood of the Wellington Hotel?

The fabulous Bloggers Bash was the next day. We planned to take London by storm on Sunday. I brought my most comfortable walking shoes. I wanted to see Buckingham Palace, check out my buddy, Chuck, I mean Charles Dickens’ haunts, and go to Covent Gardens.

As soon as we walked out of Victoria’s station, I was struck by the number of cute little children, dressed to impress.

How Londoners Fight Terrorism (1)

And just like that, I was over any doubt or fear.

Of course, we didn’t change our plans.

When I asked people in London how they felt about safety, they all said, “We have to live their lives.” One man said, “Americans are scaredy cats.” True that. I was, but not anymore.

My suggestion to Americans?

Travel to London or Paris or wherever you want. It’s the only way we win. Terrorists want to destroy our way of life. When we change our plans because we’re afraid, they win.

Have you changed your vacation plans because of recent events? Would you?

5 Things You Must Do for Your Birthday!

5 things to do for yourself on your birthdayHate celebrating your birthday? Always disappointed? I had a very Happy Birthday on the 11th and celebrated it BIG time this year. How? Easy. I depended on myself to have fun.

5 things you must do for your birthday:

#1. Take control. Plan your day in advance.

Waiting around for someone else to plan it is too much pressure on friends and family. Make it easy. Do it yourself.

Me – I didn’t want to exhaust myself with appointments and running around all day. Instead, I planned two outings and dinked around with a new toy I bought for my birthday. My son, Kelly, picked it out. *hint, hint* You’ll find out soon enough.

#2. Lower your expectations.

Oh, sure it would be great to be asked out to lunch or walk into a surprise party, but what if it doesn’t happen? Don’t let disappointment ruin your day.

Me – I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. I stuck to my plan. Continue reading

When Death Sits on My Face

I went to a therapist for the first time with the intention of getting over my brother’s sudden death after trying to save him. When my father died, it hit me harder the second six months. I needed some coping skills. I wanted to expedite the process of grieving. Get over it faster.

“I know you want to move on quickly. Are you avoiding the death of your brother?” my therapist asked.

“Are you kidding me?” I said and threw my hands in the air while looking skyward. “Death is sitting on my face.”

It has taken up residency in a part of my brain and won’t move out. I would love to give it an eviction notice. Better yet, break down the door and beat the crap out of it.

While sprawled out in a recliner, death takes control of the remote and oozes a lens over my eyes throwing everything askew. My clouded perception warps sunny days and blows a draft through my heart. I shiver.

I’m done with death.

It’s a lying, cheating, deceitful son-of-a-bitch. I don’t want anyone to die ever again.

When I told my friend, Bill Hurtley the funeral director, he laughed.

“That would be a disaster.”

I imagined airlines for the elderly and low profile nursing homes replaced by skyscrapers. Soon there would be more golden agers than any other age group.

“So what?”

It’s been a struggle. Death comes in waves. My waves are timed different than everyone else in my family. While one of us is chillin’ in the water doing the backstroke, another is drowning. It’s unpredictable.

The water metaphor comes up all the time. It’s ironic how we arrived home to water pouring through the ceiling. “You should immerse yourself in death,” said my therapist. “Write about it.”

“Do I have to?” I felt like a kid who was told they couldn’t go out for recess, but had to stay inside to do homework. Continue reading

I Celebrated a Birthday, But Failed to Save a Life.

Have you ever taken a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation class? I took one for a babysitting badge when I was in Girl Scouts. I remember the plastic dummy and going through the routine while hoping to God I’d never have to use it. Flash forward a few decades.

On March 9th, I flew back to Wisconsin for my mom’s eighty-seventh birthday. My brother, Joe McCartan, ordered a cake and I picked up flowers. Mom was so surprised! Over dinner that night, she told us she planned to live a long time. For her one-hundredth birthday, she wants a stylist to dye a blue streak in her hair. I love her attitude.

My brother is the king of joking around. I couldn’t get a picture of him when he wasn’t mugging for the camera.  When I left Colorado it was seventy degrees. Check out the temperature on my brother’s iPad.

Two days later, Joe drove to the butcher to buy steaks to grill and went to a chiropractic appointment. In February, he slid on black ice and crashed his car into a telephone pole. It exacerbated an already sore back.

Later, the three of us watched the UW Badgers cream Northwestern by thirty points. Being a yawnfest, Joe texted on his phone. He’s a highly sought after, free-lance, on-location sound technician for major networks, television, movies and corporations. Very excited, he read the thread out loud. It regarded a commercial he had been hired to record. The company wanted to shoot tight shots of musicians playing the oboe, violin and cello. He had texted the high school music teacher, who had all kinds of ideas.

“The kids will love being in a commercial.” Joe was stoked.

“Sounds like you contacted the right person,” I said and yawned. “I think I’ll take a quick nap.” I walked upstairs to my room.

When I returned downstairs, Mom played Words with Friends in the kitchen while the steaks thawed in a pan. I had planned to walk the dog, but Joe had already left with Charlie. I opened my laptop and wrote my last post about daylight savings time. After dinner I thought it would be fun to play a game and take some group selfies.

Always pretty high energy, Joe burst through the door led by their Collie.

“I just missed you,” I said, looking up from my computer.

“Yep,” was all he said. Then he ran up the back stairs to his apartment behind my mom’s Victorian. I heard his footsteps overhead and then settled in to proof my stupid post.

He moved in a year before my dad passed away and has been taking care of Mom. He’s been a godsend, taking her to appointments, shopping and the little things, like setting the table for meals. He brings her tea and puts her eyedrops in before bed. My mom is super sharp, but has glaucoma and hasn’t been able to drive for years.

When Joe didn’t come downstairs, Mom said, “What’s taking him so long? We need to get the steaks on the grill.”

I shrugged and more time passed. Continue reading

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted

Have you seen the latest Kathy Bates commercial for Turbo Tax?  Haunted by ghostly dead children, she wants to know if she can use them as a deduction. I can relate. I have a demon washing machine.

my-demon-washer-is-haunted

One morning, I sat at the kitchen counter and my washer beeped. It was an unusual sound. Persistent. Frantic. Nonstop. The machine had never warned me like that before. It seemed to be crying out for help.

“What the hell?” I ran to my laundry room. The door of the front loader hung wide open. How could it beep with the door open? As I stepped toward it, cold water seeped through my socks. My gaze dropped to the puddle on the floor.

“Are you kidding me?” I picked up one soaked foot.

The empty washer had filled with the door open…. by itself. But how? The machine had been turned off.

I set it to Drain. The washer obeyed while I wiped up the water. I dismissed it as a random washer failure.

Two days later, I walked into the laundry room with a basket of dirty clothes and towels. I stepped into yet another cold puddle of water.

Crap!

Setting the basket on the counter, I looked inside the empty washer. It had filled with the door open, AGAIN!

I wiped the floor and then made small piles to launder the following week. There would be a lot more after a weekend in the mountains. My washer works better with full loads, anyway.

This time I unplugged the machine. There was no way it could work without electricity. I smiled and packed up to leave.

Late Tuesday afternoon, I walked into the laundry room with more dirty clothes and stepped into water all over the floor. While hanging limp across the top of the washer, the plug gloated as if to say, “See? It wasn’t me.”

How did it fill?

I turned off both the hot and cold water taps. Righty tighty. It couldn’t possibly fill now. I shut the washing machine’s door, just in case. I usually kept it open to keep mildew from growing on the rubber gasket. Poor design, in my opinion.

For four days, piles of clothes and towels had soaked up tepid water. They stunk. Lifting the sodden mess into a laundry basket, I dragged it downstairs to my GE stackable. Starting with towels, I washed them with soap and they still smelled musty. I washed them again with vinegar and a third time with soap to get the vinegar smell out of them. What a process.

Filling the upper dryer with clean towels, I decided to go to bed.

The next morning, I walked to the stackable’s dryer, but the door was already open. What? The weight of the towels must have pushed on it during the night. They were still wet. I had to run them through the wash again. Such bad luck.

I felt like Kathy Bates. Was the ghost in my house a compulsive clothes washer? Had it used a rock to clean its unmentionables down by the river when it was alive? Surely I had fixed the water problem by turning it off.

With fingers crossed, I entered the possessed laundry room. Slowly, I opened my washer’s door. Water poured out. I slammed it shut. How? HOW????

It didn’t make any sense. My husband checked the water lines. Yep. They were shut off. The cord still dangled across the top of the machine. It taunted me. How could this be happening?

Danny shrugged. “Maybe you should call someone,” he said.

“Like an Priest or an exorcist?” I asked.

I called an appliance serviceman and said, “Yes, I have a demon washer,” and then explained what was going on.

The resident expert suggested disconnecting the hoses. That way I would know if the valves were broken. A new machine wouldn’t fix the problem if a valve needed replacement or repair. Danny disconnected them.

As I stared at the dangling plug and disconnected hoses, I wondered what I would do if the washer filled and spilled water onto the floor again. Was this the start of some new crazy haunting? We’ve had bangers and I’ve seen ghosts, but this one could be destructive. I imagined wading through a flooded home, Roxy dog-paddling beside me.

It’s been a few weeks and the faucets remained dry. No wet socks. No mysterious filling. No beeping in frenetic warning since that very first day. The washer was definitely the demon. My stackable has been doing all the work.

I asked Facebook friends what kind of washing machine I should buy. A friend replied, “One without a demon.” We’ll see. I plan on purchasing a new washer this week.

Stay tuned my friends. I hope I don’t say, “I’m going to have to move again,” like Kathy Bates. I’ll keep a lifejacket in my kitchen, just in case.

Have you ever experienced unexplainable events in your house? What kind of washing machine should I buy? My Frigidaire front loader was the worst.

Related posts:

Being Haunted – A True Story

Haunted at The Stanley Hotel

Unnerved at The Winchester House

What Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher taught me last Friday

Last Friday, I shared the same small coffee shop with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis,  and had a mind blown moment. Not because they’re celebrities. I’ve seen a ton of them over the years. And I don’t count those I pay to see. I do count the night at Mr. Chow when Sir Elton John held court at a table filled with beautiful men. The same night, Billy Bush stopped at our table to talk to my daughter and her friend. They had run into him on the way to the ladies’ room. Benicio Del Toro, Cybill Shepherd, Emily Blunt, Billy Idol… Trust me. It’s a long list.

I believe in The Secret. For those of you who aren’t aware, it’s a bestselling book about the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction. I’ve always felt like I’m that person. Lucky. The fact that my husband, Danny, and I got together is pure luck times ten. When I read The Secret several years ago, I tried it out. It asked the reader to imagine something cool happening and live like it already happened. I finished the book on our way to a resort in Costa Rica. I imagined running into a celebrity. Once we arrived, I realized how stupid that was. It was filled with families and everyone spoke Spanish. If there were celebrities at the resort, they would be lost on me. I don’t watch Telemundo.

After a long day of traveling, my husband and kids checked out the ocean. I sank into a recliner near the pool. A young man and woman walked past. He noticed my mesh bag. “Are you reading The Secret?”

“I just finished it.”

“Here.” He took out his ear buds and handed me his iPod. “I’m listening to it right now. We’re going to get something to eat. I’ll stop back in a little while.”

I listened to his iPod until he came back. He and his girlfriend sat down and we became acquainted with the whole, “Where are you from? What do you do?” kind of questions. Wait for it….

He was a freakin’ actor from Vancouver. NO LIE! He had just finished a series for the History Channel.

Flash forward over the next few years. I won EVERYTHING including a heli-ski trip in Canada and every raffle I entered. One time I bought an extra ticket for a friend and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll win.” We both won.

Then I came down with breast cancer three and a-half years ago. My luck had run out. I stopped winning. I worked really hard at positivity, but it was tough. I felt screwed over. I carried a weight of anxiety in my gut only released for a while between estrogen suppressants, (what my cancer ate) and for a week after the Wanderlust Yoga Festival last summer.

I turned a corner in January. I began meditating and the anxiety disappeared. For the first time in a long while, I looked forward to events. A happy feeling replaced the weight in my gut.

So what does this have to do with the Kutcher family?

The week before my trip to Burbank, California to visit my son, Kelly, I watched the movie Friends with Benefits starring Mila Kunis and remembered The Secret. I put the intention I would love to see Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, into the Universe. I figured visualizing specific people might help. I also visualized Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Work Week fame. I’m a new fangirl.

I borrowed Kelly’s car for the weekend and planned to take it in for an oil change before heading to Malibu on Saturday. While driving to a coffee shop on Friday morning, I vibed out. I had to get the oil change now. On my way to a Jiffy Lube, I discovered a Valvoline with open bays. Bonus! I pulled in and checked it off my list.

Knowing Kelly had worked on music until the wee hours of the morning, I let him sleep in. With that same strong vibe, I changed direction and headed to a coffee shop back near my VRBO in Burbank. I had gone to a cute one the day before, but I wasn’t feeling it.

When I walked in, I was glad to see that although it was small there were several places to sit and hang out. A couple of bars with swivel chairs stood perpendicular to where you ordered, and bench seats and tables were scattered throughout. It was bright and I considered wearing my sunglasses, but slipped them into my purse. I cued up behind a few others to place an order for a $5.00 cup of joe and a lady with curly brown hair lined up behind me.

Seeing Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis blew my mind, but not for obvious reasonsFrom where I stood, I could see the door. In walked Ashton Kutcher. The Ashton Kutcher from my intention the week before! I just about dropped over. My heart slammed in my chest. He wore a baseball cap, a puffer jacket, (it was a bitter 58 degrees for Los Angelians) and jeans. I couldn’t help but stare. He knew, I knew who he was. His intense brown eyes glinted like, Don’t even and then quickly looked away while conversing with the lady behind me. I assume I smiled like an idiot or a kid on Christmas morning.

That’s the funny thing. I never ask for autographs or for photos and don’t talk to celebrities unless they hold eye contact, smile back, and say hello. Even then, I test the water with a, “Hi, how are yah?” If they answer, I might continue depending on the situation. By the way, he has amazing lips. I could see why Mila crushed on Ashton since starring opposite him on That 70’s Show.

The lady behind me gave Kutcher some estimates, but music blaring from overhead speakers drowned out his voice. I strained, but couldn’t hear much of anything. It’s probably why they chose that particular place. “Mind your own beeswax,” my deceased grandmother would have said.

I took a seat at the bar so I could watch Kutcher order and hoped they would sit nearby. The contractor chose a seat next to me. Whoa. Ashton walked toward me after ordering. I could have easily taken a great photograph, but just couldn’t. Not one person hassled him the whole time he was in that coffee shop although I suspect the Asian guy sitting on the end of the bar got some great photos.

I immediately texted my family and they begged for pictures. I took a subtle shot when he ordered breakfast. Then the contractor shuffled her binder and folders on the bar and slid closer to me.

aston-kutcher

“Do you need me to move down?” I asked.

“Maybe. Someone is joining us with a stroller.”

Holy mother of God! Mila Kunis and their new baby????

I slid as far down as I could and texted my family the update.

“Pictures of Mila Kunis, please,” said Danny and my brother, Joe.

I started writing this post when I sensed someone staring at me. I looked up. “Oh, hi,” I said.

Mila Kunis stood at my right elbow and carried baby Kutcher in a car seat. I couldn’t believe it. She flashed her gorgeous eyes over me and smiled. Then to my dismay, they moved to the back corner right in the window of the coffee shop to continue their conversation.

Mila walked to the line for coffee. She wore jeans, a cute gray sweater, and fancy-like tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are a big thing in LA right now.

I was impressed that both Ashton and Mila waited in line like regular people. They didn’t pull the, “Hey, I’m a celebrity, so I’m not waiting,” card. Nor did the contractor offer to wait for them. Cool.

Again, I could’ve gotten a straight up shot of Mila walking right toward me, but took a subtle photo of her ordering instead.

mila-kunis

I picked up Kelly so we could order breakfast and we returned right when Ashton left. Mila still sat in the corner with the contractor.

My observations:

If they would’ve worn sunglasses, I might not have recognized them. They didn’t seem to care. They didn’t engage with me at all although their contractor was friendly. They chose a public place for their meeting and took a chance on paparazzi.

Good on them for living their lives! I can’t imagine having to hunker down all the time and stay out of the public eye. I’ve had some mistaken identity moments and the attention can be awkward. Watch for another post about that. Crazy.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis remind me of Danny and me. I have a feeling this couple will last. I obviously trust my feelings. I crushed on Danny when I was in the 8th grade, but he was four years ahead of me. Our families went to a Brewer game on Memorial Day in 1987 when he was in Wisconsin for the weekend. He rarely came back from Colorado to visit. I flew out for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June and we booked the priest and the Church over the 4th of July. Truth. Check out this post.

The biggest takeaway? The Secret works when you believe in it. I had felt down and kicked in the gut until a few weeks ago. Seeing them after that crazy ass intention, blew my mind. After all my setbacks, I’m back. Thank you Kutcher family for being so amazing and setting me back on track.

I’ll see Tim Ferriss next time.

By the way, don’t bother entering any contests. I’ll win.

Have you seen any celebrities? Who would you like to meet?

Other crazy stories that could only happen to me:

Our Secret is Out!

An Insane Circumstance

When People Think You’re Crazy

My Christmas Card Drawings Revealed

In three days Christmas will arrive whether we are ready or not. Three days! I’m psyching up for my last lap around Boulder for holiday gifts. I need to bake my annual cinnamon rolls and make a list to hit the grocery store. The good news? The illustrated Christmas cards are done and in the mail. YES! I’m always relieved when this tradition is complete.

I sketched my family skiing and boarding on the slopes, but I didn’t get into it. Then I drew Danny hanging an ornament on the tree. When I cracked up laughing, the decision was made.

As most of you know, I’ve created popup cards for the last few years. My internal conversation over whether to cut and paste this year, turned into a raging argument. I really wanted to make it a booklet, but I didn’t have time. After printing out a few boring black and white cards to give to friends at a holiday lunch, I settled on a compromise.

I added a tinge of color to the last illustration and ran the cards through the printer a couple more times to add borders.

Ted Strutz guessed what my family is doing and won one a Christmas card! Way to go Ted! He blogs flash fiction for the Friday Fictioneers on Ted Book and slice of life photography on Ted Book Daily Pics. Be sure to check out his blog.

Yep. We are decorating the Christmas tree, but it’s a little on the wild side.

So here’s the scary part. The big reveal…

2016 Christmas Card

 

Happy accidents during Christmas

 

2016 Christmas Card reveal - illustration

It’s all about happy accidents.

We all experience them throughout the holidays. We run into old friends at celebrations or make new ones while looking for dog coats at Petsmart. We may think of the perfect gift while searching for something completely different. It seems like good stuff happens when we are putting out that positive vibe.

It’s all about recognizing the beauty around us and keeping the meaning of the season in our hearts. Keep counting your blessings!

The #Blessed Projects were a happy accident.

I needed something to pull me out of a funk one day, so I made a list of my blessing. The blues faded like the fog in Scrooge’s cemetery. I had to share the idea and the #Blessed Projects were born. If you need something to uplift you, look no further. Click on the link above. There are many to choose from. Make sure to check out Being Thankful, by Words from Anneli. I failed to link her fantastic #Blessed Project when I posted. Another happy accident since she is featured here today.

Another illustrated card is finished. Onto that last-minute Christmas shopping, oh, yeah, and then wrapping everything. *yawn* I still have three days…

Have you experienced any happy accidents lately? Are you feeling blessed or stressed?