Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Mother’s Love Never Dies
May 7, 2015

TJ and Mom1
My friend TJ had a unique encounter that I thought would make a wonderful Mother’s Day post. Here is her story:

“I do not know how mother got to Bali. But the discovery produced a smile on my face. Mother finally got to travel. Just the week before I had carefully spread her ashes on my brother’s grave before heading to the airport.

I had been unable to discard the vessel that had contained her ashes and had held it on my lap for the long flight. I had been sure it was empty. I do not know why I looked inside.

We had been spending a magical week in Bali. Our guide was a devote Hindu. Karma, reincarnation and their varied beliefs were constant topics of conversation. I asked him about a resting place for Mother. His positive response was heartfelt; he would arrange everything.Sending jean

Two days later, we drove to the ocean with mother’s ashes. Waiting for us were several holy men, dressed in white. My mother was about to have a beautiful Hindu funeral. The men chanted, incense was burned, chimes were rung and offerings were made. Although in a language I did not understand, when she finally was given to the sea, I felt at peace.
Surprisingly, many people questioned the appropriateness Hindu ceremony.
“Would she have approved?”
“I do not know.”
Soon the answer would change.

Mother and I were never close. When I was barely 4, my 7-year-old brother, died. My mother retreated from life and me. She was a fearful, timid woman who spoke wishfully of world travel. Getting a passport scared her so much she abandoned hope of travel. In opposition, I grew up energetic, outgoing and a world traveler.

I was joyful mother had found her way to Bali.

Upon my return home, I scheduled a facial. I went to my usual lady, who knew nothing of my travels or personal life as I enjoy quiet meditation during facials. This was not to be.

With eyes closed, I felt an energy rush when she touched my left arm. Purple lights went off in my head. My body was tingling. Afterwards, I asked her what had happened, referencing only the purple light. Avoiding eye contact, she told me, “Your mother contacted me when I touched your left arm and energy began to flow through you. She told me to tell you she had a blast. She felt very important and it was the nicest thing you have ever done for her.”

I was stunned and at a loss for words. I felt love flowing between mother and myself.

I am looking forward to Mother’s Day secure in the knowledge a mother’s love never dies.”


Deadly Sins of Gift Buying
May 4, 2015


With spring and summer comes many occasions to buy gifts or presents. It seems that there are many more birthdays during this time of year. From Weddings, showers, baby gifts, graduations, birthday gifts, get well, retirement, or anniversary occasions, a gift needs to be bought.

Gift buying can be a resentful chore or a fun experience. I have some tips so you never make a faux pas and break even one of the ‘deadly sins of gift buying’.

Here are the sins:

Something that says to the person they are fat.

This includes gym memberships, a trainer, or a subscription to a diet plan. If the person requests this gift, it is still dicey and you are treading on thin ice.


Something that says they are old.

This includes wrinkle creams, makeovers, or AARP membership. (My own company’s menopause pajamas can be a wonderful gift when presented as ‘travel pajamas’).

Something that says they are not very smart.

This includes beginning classes in anything, Rosetta Stone, on-line courses, or books they have never shown an interest.

Re-gifted anything.

If you didn’t like it why would anyone else? You can rationalize all you want!

Now if the recipient of your gift has expressed complete desire for any of the items from the sins that may be interpreted as fat, old or dumb, buy it. Be aware it still carries a risk component.

Successful Gift Buying Tips:

Wedding, baby showers, wedding showers gifts will be well received are those you buy from their registry. Sounds boring but it is safe.

Graduations, retirement gifts can be fun or practical. For graduates I like an electric teakettle with a supply of soup, noodle packages, hot chocolate etc. presented in a laundry bag. For retirees I like a collection of flip-flops or hats in a personalized bag or basket.

For Birthdays in the summer I like beach stuff. Big body towels, big rubber toys, squirt guns etc. presented in a beach bag.

For anniversaries I like special food or wine items. Something consumable because if it is a 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, 45th, or 50th party, they really don’t need some THING!

Get-well gifts are always a tough gift. If they are recovering or not has to be weighed before you buy. Here a film DVD is safe.

Do you have any gift-buying sins or gift buying suggestions?

What Does Fishing and Blogging Have in Common?
April 26, 2015

smoked salmon

As I was eating smoked salmon this morning that we smoked from the fall salmon run our neighbor caught I was thinking about my next blog. That’s when the similarities hit me. Fishing and blogging are similar activates. Here are the attributes for both activities:









Blogging requires patience to come up with an idea, then write it, then edit it, then think of ways to improve it and then rewrite it and then hope someone will read it and then read a comment from a reader and then maybe another comment! If you are really lucky your blog post will be picked up or run in a wider circulation venue.

Fishing similarities are requiring patience to wait with your line out, reel it in and recast, get a nibble but nope, recast and wait and then a bite and reel it in and you landed a fish!

 Frank & Shel & SAlmon

Sometime a blog or a fishing adventure turns up nothing. No one comments, or you don’t catch a fish. Then other times the blogging and fishing Gods collide and you get many comments or reel in your quota of fish! Those thrills and rewards are what keep us going, keep us blogging and fishing.

Do you fish?

Do you blog?

A Profound Difference Between Men and Women, (according to my unscientific research)
April 20, 2015

Here is the scenario:

You are preparing some food item and you are out of a needed ingredient. You are home from work and you have changed into comfy clothes.

Here is the question:

Do you get dressed and head off to the store?


Here are the answers from some of my 50+ women friends:

  1. I have changed into comfy clothes; I’d make something else.
  2. Maybe if I didn’t take my make-up off yet.
  3. Did I take my bra off? If I did, no way!
  4. If it is winter and I can throw on a coat.
  5. Of course not. Go out that time of day after working all day? I would be too tired by the time I got back home to make anything!


Here are answers from some 50+ men friends:

  1. Sure
  2. Yes
  3. I’d pick up something else too

Notice the men do not have any hesitations about changing back into clothes, underwear, makeup, and time of day or season.

I asked some women in their 20’s and 30’s the same question. Their answers were more like the men than the 50+-year-old women! So what happened? Here are my conclusions:

  1. At 50+ we women know the one time we rush to the market without make-up wearing a baseball hat is the time we bump into several people we haven’t seen in a long time!
  2. We 50+ women don’t have the extra energy.
  3. Men at 50+ don’t’ care what they look like if they meet someone. In fact they might go out for a beer. Women would rather cut off their arm!
  4. Men think it will just take less than a half-hour so what is the big deal?
  5. Young women look good with little effort, and have more energy than their 50+ counterparts!


Tell me your answer. Do you concur or not?

Passover: Favorite Holiday Memories
April 4, 2015

I hated helping with the Passover dishes. Bringing up set after set of dishes from the basement and bringing down the sets we used 51 weeks out of the year was an ordeal! Glassware, pots and pans and of course 2 sets of silverware needed to be lugged upstairs too. After spending almost a year in the basement everything needed to be washed. My parents did not have a dishwasher. I have lots of memories about Passover. Foremost as a kid was the work involved in preparing for the holiday.

The cupboards had to be scrubbed clean before the Passover dishes, cutlery, pots and pans and glassware could be put back. The refrigerator needed to be cleaned and all ‘chamatz’ brought down to the basement too. We must have made 50 trips up and down those stairs in just setting up the kitchen for the week. Then after the Holiday we repeated the process! Collective, OY!

My Mother made carrot candy for Passover. It was a big deal. Lots of cooking and laying it out across the kitchen table to firm up and lots of discussion if it was a good year or not. Carrots honey and sugar and lemon peel were cooked in a huge vat of water. To me it was never that tasty for the efforts, but it was my Mother’s Passover specialty so we ate it and said we loved it.

My parents usually hosted the Seder, sometimes both nights. Up to 25 people seated for the dinner was always fun. All the traditional foods and foods of the times like Jell-O molds were presented. The matzoh balls, were they light and fluffy or hard like rocks? My Grandmother made her own gefilte fish that everyone clamored for!

The best part about Passover as a kid was that my Father was off for the week. It was the only time of the year that my Dad was on vacation for an entire week. My Dad’s family owned restaurants and they closed them all for the week of Passover every year. Sometimes the Holiday coincided with school vacation and we would go on vacation for a couple of days. It was a treat to have my Dad home for dinner every night, and to eat dinner at home.


Passover is not my favorite eating holiday because I have a sweet tooth. I have never met a Passover dessert that satisfies my taste buds. Desserts aside, I have sweet memories of the Holiday. Happy Passover.

Team member on the Injured List
March 28, 2015

My husband is part of Team Haralee.Com Sleepwear. He ships out the orders every day. He folds and wraps and inspects the garments before they are put into inventory and he maintains the inventory. He is an integral part of the team that makes our company run smoothly.

 Haralee and Shelby at work

Three weeks ago he took a fall. He was pulling some heavy scrap metal out of his pickup bed with a chain and the chain broke and he flew backwards. He broke his ankle and fractured his leg. He had surgery on the ankle and is in a cast and will be in a boot with crutches for another month or more. Physical therapy will follow and hopefully by late June he will literally be back on his feet!

   Shel and Lou Convelesing

Not only are we a team in our business but in our marriage too. I exclusively pay the bills and he exclusively maintains the vehicles, other than that it is a combined effort. We share household duties like cleaning, cooking, yard work, laundry, errand running and grocery shopping.

You never realize until it is gone how much a helpful spouse helps! I am picking up his job at the company and at home. I am also his nursemaid because he cannot put any weight on his foot and it actually hurts him when it is not elevated.

I have had to change several plans because it is his right foot so he cannot drive himself to appointments. We are just hoping it is a bump in the road to plans, and recovery will be full for summer.

 Shelby's Fracture and Louie

The cats are doing a good job of keeping him company.

Anyone have tips for a good rehabilitation?

Tattoo Popularity
March 14, 2015

Like many cities, my hometown of Portland Oregon is full of tattooed people. Tattoos are an art form and I try to appreciate it.

I can break down tattoos into age groups. This is not to say that tattoo style popularity can be seen in all ages but these are just my observations.

The 50 -60 year olds have small tattoos. Women sport a tatt on their ankle or shoulder or maybe above their breast. Their tattoo is maybe of a flower, a butterfly, or a bird. Men have one on their arm or their forearm or chest. Their tattoos are often a name or an animal.

The 40 year olds have tribal tattoos on their arms and legs. They also sport bands around their upper arms and ankles. This age group may also have some significant to them tattoo on the inside of their wrist or between their fingers. Many women have the tramp stamp. Both men and women may have their backs illustrated.

The 30 year olds have vibrant color tattoos. Women will have colorful bodice tatts. Men will have colorful arm sleeves. Legs, backs, necks and midriffs are all a canvas for some tattoo art.

The 20 year olds seem to embrace writing more than images or abstracts for their form of tattoo expression. If you find yourself reading someone’s skin I would guess he or she is a 20 something. Most of the writing is in cursive.

I have had to ask people what their tattoo reads because the penmanship is lousy.

Sometimes the person is pleased to read to me their tattoo. Recently I encountered my grocery checker with full sleeves, finger tats and a script across her bodice. When I asked her what her bodice said she told me it was a long poem. I have to hypothesize that it starts at her neck where it is visible to the public and continues down her torso.

What has been your experience reading or looking at skin art? Do you have a tattoo that you share with the world? Jewish friends, how do you feel about tattoos in Hebrew?

Advancements in Breast Cancer
March 7, 2015


Yearly my oncologist’s group puts on an evening lecture recapping new and exciting news from the San Antonio breast cancer symposium. For the last few years my company has had a table there giving out brochures about our sleepwear. It truly is a wonderful event and I am lucky to be a part of an oncology practice willing to outreach to their patients this way. Did I mention there is food and it is free?

Before the lecture starts there is time to socialize, go around to all the tables and eat. I engage with the men and women who stop at my table. Not only am I a vendor but a survivor. These are my people!

After talking with many people I am reminded of some misconceptions. Here are a few myths that even women in the midst of treatments believe or their families believe.         

 Breast cancer is genetic

NOPE. Less than 10% of all breast cancers are genetic.

If you have a mastectomy you never have to worry about reoccurrence

NOPE. All it takes is one rogue gene no matter how much tissue is removed. Cancer happens.

Mammograms are expensive or not necessary

NOPE. Under health care reform, a routine mammogram screening is FREE and will pick up most abnormalities of women with out dense breasts. Imaging offices are open 6 days a week and often from 6 AM to 8PM. There is no excuse to not get a yearly mammogram if you are over 40. They save lives!

Here are a couple of advancement take-aways from the lecture:

                             Immunotherapy treatments are showing promise for breast cancer. It targets the immune system not the tumor. The tumor may take time to respond and often get worse before it gets better but it is another tool in the oncologist’s arsenal.

                             Adjuvant Hormone Therapy Duration is benefiting from the research on 5-10 years of patients taking tamoxifen and or aromatase inhibitors. Promising reoccurrence and mortality rates are seen up to 15 years after the patient has completed her program. The balance of toxicity versus benefit of extended therapy use is the tipping point.

So there you have it. Did you learn an interesting fact? Have you scheduled your mammogram?

Have You Written Your Obituary?
February 14, 2015


I read obituaries. I know I am not alone. I don’t know when I started but I do remember the first time I recognized someone I knew from his obituary.

One of my Mother’s friends, who recently died of pneumonia at the age of 92, had prepared her obit. She had outlived her husbands and children and wrote it because she felt no one was still alive who knew her story. I thought that a brilliant idea.

Here are portions of obits I question whether something else could be said if the deceased wrote it:

“She was a hard worker”

“She was ridiculously honest”

“He overcame many troubles”

I like attempts to capture a person’s personality rather than the resume approach or genealogical account of a person in an obituary.

Here are a few:

“If you feel sad or blue because you lost a good friend, be assured he is perfectly alright laughing and telling stories”.

“She is in the hearts of all those she touched”

“She was an acquired taste”

I like to know what was the cause of death in an obituary.

Obvious cause of death

Here are popular phrases that elude the cause of death:

“Fought a courageous fight”

“Died unexpectedly”

“Called home by the Lord”

“Died peacefully”

“Died Suddenly”

“Went to be with the Lord”

“Lost his/her fight”

A memorable obituary I read does not have the cause of death, but it read:

“1982-2014, Kind of young don’t you think?”

Are you writing your obituary? Are you making your wishes known for your obituary? Have you embraced the high costs of publishing your obituary?

Photos by Deirdre at Shuttershaman

The Un-Invites
February 7, 2015

I think I have uncovered a trend. Un-Inviting people. Friends invite you for dinner and then they call and cancel because …… Maybe it is just cancelling or postponing, but it feels more like un-inviting to me.

I realize everyone leads busy lives but it is dinner, not attempting to cure cancer! The un-invites have become so frequent I have become very aggressive by saying I am putting it on my calendar now and I will be at your door at this date and time! Or I am not putting it on my calendar because you will cancel so firm up with me as the date nears!

When I ask people over for a dinner party I give the date and the time. I think about the guests I am inviting so everyone gets along. If some one can’t make it I don’t cancel the dinner party, it just becomes a smaller group.

If a significant other is not available I do not welcome a plus one unknown stand-in because I think about the dynamics of the group of guests I invited. Now maybe I know your friend or sister or neighbor that you want to bring as your plus one because your significant other is out of town, but please ask me, don’t just show up at the door. I may have prepared something special for your significant other and had I known I would not have gone to the trouble!

Let’s face it sometimes you have a lousy few days going and you realize you have a dinner party scheduled. It is something to look forward to and helps getting past the crummy days. Then, WHAM, you are uninvited. You didn’t prepare anything for dinner and the party was going to be your highlight of the week! Grrr.

Am I the only one experiencing this un-inviting trend? Vent here and tell me how you handle it!