Most of my family lives in Michigan. Three’s just me and Frank that live in another state. (Frankie, if your read my Once A Little Girl Blog. Yes, Frankie is one of the Little Kids, the one I put the diaper on. Frankie or Frank-the-Prank, or Frankfurter, or Frank by any other name; He is my Pal.) It’s probably no accident that the two of us live the furthest from our origin. We are the most independent, the most rebellious, the most adventurous. Anyways, that’s how I choose to see it.

I had a bright idea: take Amtrak to the small town near Mom’s. I can rest, write, read. The time is a about the same, 5-6 hours, depending on whether we get waylaid by a freight train, but I’ll arrive at just about the same cost, and no travel fatigue. That is, if I don’t count getting to the train station.

First, I get to attend Duckie teaching acrylic painting to the general public.
“I hate you for talking me into doing this!”
“I love painting. Did I spell anything wrong in my instruction?”
“I can’t wait.”
“I hate you.”

20130610-070140.jpgDuckie is wonderful. She takes over the crowd with her smile and her detailed instructions. From the small piece I get to see. I had to leave for the train 15 minutes in. I could have left at 2:08 on Metra, got to the station at 3:30 and ran for the 4:00.

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Another gauntlet picked up by The Black Tortoise: NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month)  Every work day of June I will be posting something here or on Once A Little Girl.  I will abstain from posting on Saturday and Sunday.  Those are my days of ReWoMeN (ReconnectWorshipMeditateNap.)

I plan short, to the point posts, which are a little low on pictures.  Part of the time I’ll be traveling with three sister and a mom.  Sorry in advance if some of my posts are just too darned personal.  On the other hand, some of you may like a little insight into the personal side of The Black Tortoise.

So, with that as a starter, here’s a bit about my upcoming trip.

People seem to love it or hate it; or so I’m told.  But I say, don’t give rhubarb a raspberry, give it a try.

Summertime is a time when almost everyone thinks of simpler days gone by.  For me, that includes remembering the wonders of rhubarb.  As children, my sisters and I loved to rip a piece out of the ground and just chew on it raw.  No harm there.  An established rhubarb plant can take the tugging, and there’s a good dose of nutrition inside.   Raw rhubarb is a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Manganese, as well as chock full of dietary fiber.  
Want to introduce some nostalgia into a summertime picnic?  Hilda’s rhubarb crunch is from the 1970s, and still gaining compliments.

“For every subtle an complicated question, there is a perfectly simple and straightforward answer, which is wrong.”  – H. L. Mencken

 

Maybe this is about health care; maybe it’s about health insurance; maybe it’s about parenting a mildly mentally disabled adult.  Then again, maybe it’s just me trying to get my thoughts in order, because this is one bizarre story.  One with a happy ending.  I think.

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Duckie at her happiest: Healthy and Active.

 

I remember when the whole thing started, as clearly as if it were yesterday.  I flew in from San Diego, picked Duckie up from work and headed 2 hours north, into the next State, for a short vacation.  That day was the first of the manifestations.

“My leg hurts,” Duckie said.

“Where?”

“Right here.”  Duckie rubbed deep on the top of her left thigh.

“You did work an 8 hour day.”

Duckie is a courtesy clerk at the local grocery store.  She bags your groceries, loads blocks of salt and dog food into your car, and brings all those carts back to the store.  When the weather is nice, she walks the 3 miles to work and back.   She enjoys the walk; it’s part of her weight management plan.  Besides being a bit overweight, Duckie is in great physical shape.  Her normal work schedule is 15-20 hours a week, in 4 hour shifts.  Sharing Duckie’s life gives me a whole new appreciation

Did you ever buy something you just love and then can’t find it again?  Did you ever get so delighted with a purchase that you had to tell someone?  Did you ever meet someone who impressed you with his or her commitment to quality?  All three things happened to me just before I went on my camping trip.  (Spoiler alert:  remember last week’s Photo Friday.)

I bought these great pair of flip-flops in Hilton Head.  I was attending a conference and the flip-flop sandals were an end-of-season-great-price in the resort gift shop.  The flip-flops were $30.  On sale.  It was 10 whole years ago.

What? You’re probably asking.  $30 for a pair of flip-flops?  I hate to shop; I’m not that woman who moans when she smells good shoe-leather. (That’s my sister, Deanna.)  Still, every once in a while, I decide to treat myself to something purely unnecessary; something that makes me feel pampered; something a wee bit extravagant.

This year, one of the sandal toe-ribbons on my flip-flop broke.  Oh how I love that gentle gross-grain ribbon between my toes; no break-in-my-flip-flop blisters to welcome me to summer.   Okay, maybe it is time I gave them up anyways.  The fabric is getting a little tattered looking.

My 10 year-old sandal; the one with the ribbon still intact. Okay, it IS a little worn out.

 

Yes, I was wearing the same sandals for the past 10 years.  A quick trip in the washer, and dried in the sun, and I am set to go again.  Good as new.  Lucky for me, the leather Peanut still proclaimed loud and clear:  Eliza B.  So for $30 over 10 years, that’s just $3 a year.  A pretty good deal.  One I want to repeat.

Did you ever meet someone, who immediately left an impression on you that you knew would last a lifetime?  That’s what happened when I met Emerson Doering.  Who wouldn’t be impressed?  The lanky, young blond pulled a pear tree across a lot on a piece of cardboard.  The tree was no sapling.  Emerson dragged a tree with a 3” diameter trunk the length of a football field.

Holy smokes.  I believe Emerson Doering can do just about anything.  So, it’s no surprise that she’s impressed me again as an outstanding fiction writer.  I jumped at the chance to talk with her about her new thriller, KNOCKDOWN. Her characters are so believable, they are with me yet, and it’s been a couple months since I “turned the last page” on my Kindle edition.

A few of Emerson’s writer friends challenged her about

Judith Wright An old friend from high school. We’re both a long way from the self-consciously confident students we once were, “Judy” and I still keep in touch.

Judy Sewell, a bookish student involved in publication, orchestra, marching band, and student council, says she was a plain chubby girl searching for something, unaware what she was missing and unable to identify her dreams.  The year Judy graduated from high school, at least one high school teacher, Bonita Ansbaugh, knew that Judy stood head and shoulders above her peers and recognized her for outstanding achievement in publication.  Perhaps this small vote of confidence helped Judy have the self-assurance to put effort into identifying and pursuing her dreams.  On September 20, 2008, Swartz Creek High School honored Judith Wright (Judy) with the Outstanding Alumni Award.

Judith Wright is a recognized and sought after personal coach and self-help expert. She appeared on over 50 television programs including

Photo by Maryanne Russell

Gloria Feldt’s most recent book, No Excuses, haunts me.  It is beautifully crafted and written.  Her call to political action is compelling.  After all, as Stephanie McNulty points out in The Philadelphia Inquirer,

women are finally gaining a foothold on political power through the Americas-except in one nation…the United States.

Ms. Feldt, Gloria, wants to change that.   I had an opportunity to sit down and listen to her vision, and her call to live a life with intention.

Gloria learned at an early age what it felt like to be an outsider.  The only Jewish family in small-town Texas, she also learned a respect for

cuba

“Last year, we sent sheets to Cuba.  My wife’s grandmother had surgery, and the hospital had no sheets.”  Rainier Andres  (Ray) is an American citizen who came to these United States with his mother.  He has no brothers or sisters and his father is still in Cuba.   Ray reminds me of a documentary I saw last Fourth of July:  “Citizen U.S.A.:  A 50 State Road Trip,” by Alexandra Pelosi.  These new citizens brought tears to my eyes.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCjsw9zwAgg

Ray was a teenager when he came to America, he was too naïve, or perhaps too filled with machismo to understand the dangers.   Ray considered