How Do You Operate This?


California’s severe drought lasted about 5 years. In 2015, the state was the driest it had ever been in 500 years.


There was a total of 38 inches of rain in those five years combined. That is an average of a little more than 6 inches
a year. The average yearly rainfall should be 23 inches. As you can see, we had a problem.


This year we have been blessed with lots and lots and lots of rain. The snow packs are 170% of normal. Dams are threatening to break because of the excess water in the reservoirs. Yesterday we had two inches of rain in one day!!!!

Remember, this is Southern California and it doesn’t rain in Southern California. Well, it did this year!




No, this is how you open it!

We have not used umbrellas in six years. We have forgotten how to open them. Some children probably have never seen one.

Yes, we need to re-learn how to open the umbrella. It took some time. I knew there was supposed to be a button somewhere to open it, but I had to turn the umbrella around twice to find it.

Ok, it opens easily.

But, how do I close it?  Wait, it takes more pressure to close it than I remembered. I drag it into Continue reading

Here We Go Round Again!


Merry Go Round

We know our life goes in cycles, just like everything in the world from fashion to politics to educational views.
I wish my cyclic Merry Go Round was as beautiful as the one below But I have been around and around and around
so often that my Merry Go Round does not look like this. It has lost its glimmer, glitter and glamour and is
just a hard metal disk that gets harder and harder to push.

This is my Merry Go Round of Weight Loss!

I will not put a before picture in here because I don’t want to present that image of me. I–me–Virginia–is not that picture.
Unfortunately, the world only sees you from the outside. But the real me is my humor, my love for family and friends, my creativity, my
love for writing, my love for biking and walking on the beach–any time of day. When you see the picture you see a matronly, retired woman who
looks like she hasn’t seen a gym in years–even though that is untrue. I do visit the gym often when I am well.

Also, one thing that makes Virginia is my belief that I cannot quit and give up. A sane person would say, you are old, you’re retired, you really
don’t have to do anything but relax and watch the world go by. I cannot do that.

So, once again, I am starting a weight loss journey. I was successful a year ago, and I am determined to be successful now.
This is my first day on a quest to reach my goal. I feel like I am Don Quixote fighting against the impossible or the absurd,
but I will grab my stick , just like Don Quixote, and set forth to find my beautiful Merry Go Round again.

I Found My Peeps

How far back does culture affect your life?

As a family, living in rural Wisconsin, meals were never something we rushed through.
No one was in a huge hurry to get up from the table and start whatever they needed to do. It wasn’t because we were lazy, it was because we enjoyed sitting and having a conversation while the food started to digest. We knew the table would be cleaned up, but it wasn’t urgent.

We Are All Immigrants

My paternal grandfather came from Germany, and my paternal grandmother came from Norway as a very young child. My maternal grandparents are a mixture of German, Norwegian and Danish.

My Peeps  (For the non-Hollywood types peeps means people)

We in dined in Munich with our German friends last night. They lingered after they were finished eating! One even commented that in Germany one must linger over dinner. Yipppeeeeee! I found my peeps!

Not Just Us

Now I know it just wasn’t my family that lingered. This is a custom or part of the German culture that was passed on to me.

Conflict of Cultures

My husbands culture is to finish the meal quickly and clean up the dishes before–god forbid–the sauce dries on the plates.

As you may have noticed, that is a major difference in our cultures. It is not just the American culture versus the Egyptian culture, it is also the Egyptian culture versus the German ancestral customs that I never realized were so much a part of me.

Clash of Cultures–How do we solve this?

I have found a very simple solution. My husband jumps up from the table and starts washing the dishes. I linger long enough until it looks like he is almost done and then I get up to “help.” If it is so important that it gets cleaned up right away–go for it. I will not stop you.

But don’t even think about stopping me from lingering.

If It Is Sunrise, Then I Am At The Beach

In case you didn’t know, it is very dark before the sun rises.

Darkness and Dragons

I will admit, I do not like the dark. It truly gives me the willies. But in order to see the sunrise on the beach, you have to be up and out and walking on the beach when it is still dark.

Imagine if you will, a dark sky, towering cliffs to your left, the sledge hammer-like pounding of the surf, and an ocean that is as black as the obsidian sky. The waves crashing against the shore break in huge, white, frothy, steaming, caldrons of white-water that seem to pulse from an unseen sea dragon.

My vision at night isn’t very good, but I swear I could see the dragon. To me, the waves were two hundred feet tall. I asked my daughter why the waves were so big. She looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “They aren’t big. They are normal size or even smaller,” she reprimanded me.

I didn’t believe her and quickly grabbed her elbow so she could lead me along the sand. It was low tide which made the beach ever wider.

Wet Sand Walk

Walking on the wet sad is easier and we walked together arm in arm. (She was still giving me the “Are You Kidding Me?” look when I was holding her arm, but I prevailed. I think she felt sorry for her aging mother. I did have another means of protecting myself, though. I carried my long, walking stick. I know it is meant for hiking on uneven trails, but it also has a bit of a sharp end on it in case I need to keep dragons or other sea creatures away from me. Maybe it would help if I took up fencing?

We do not stroll on the beach, we power walk. My daughter sets the pace, as this is her morning exercise. The fact that she is over thirty years younger than me, doesn’t faze her one bit. She just knows that I will keep up with her. My competitive side won’t let me hang back and she knows it. As we begin our walk, I feel as if I could play the big bad wolf, because when we start out I am huffing and puffing. Eventually, my lungs adapt and I can say a few words here and there.

Vigilance and Guard Duty

As we walk, I keep turning around to make sure no one is behind me. I know my daughter is being diligent and checking the front. (If you believe that, I have a bridge for you.) As I turn, I start to see the sky lighten behind us. The darkness turns to midnight blue and then morphs into royal blue and then sky blue. The western sky doesn’t have the pinks and yellows of the eastern sky, but it has a beauty of its own.

Either my eyes have adjusted, or it gets light faster than I think, because very soon, we encounter other walkers and joggers wandering, running, and meandering down the beach from the opposite direction.

Two Mile Mark

By the time we reach the two mile mark, I am no longer looking for dragons and demons in the dark. I know they don’t exist in the light. We turn around and I get a chance to fully enjoy the cerulean sky. Blue is my favorite color because it gives me energy and is an uplifting color.

Take a chance, get out of your comfort zone and see the sunrise from the west, just minutes before the first light.

If you are afraid of the dark, bring a friend and a big stick!

Fringe Benefits of Old Brains

Fringe Benefits

Look, there has to be some fringe benefits to getting older. And now, research has shown it! How did they come to this conclusion?

By Watching A Movie?

Yes, researchers proved it by having their participants watch a surprising or suspenseful movie. Of course, we don’t know which one they saw.
They monitored the brains of young adults and older adults.


The young brains all “lit up” in the same way at the same time.

The old brains all had unique patterns of brain activity, Their brains “lit up” in different places a different times–they didn’t match their counterparts. According the article in Women’s World, this is a “sign of individualized thinking and better brain development.”


Without going through all the trouble of hooking peoples brains upContinue reading

Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor!

Yes, I survived the accident! Thank goodness!

Even though was no blood, my body was traumatized. In simple terms, that means that my body hurt and it hurt EVERYWHERE!

Doctor and Pain Relief

So that means a trip to the doctor.

Pain is something you want to alleviate as soon as possible. The Doctor that my primary doctor recommended made a connection to me. Some people don’t like chiropractors, but when your muscles have been beaten to a pulp, that’s the person to see.

His South African accent soothes the brain while he grinds–yes grinds on your muscles. He uses a noisy contraption that sounds like a grinder–think shop class– type grinder, but it’s many and fast moving dull barbs break up the tension in your back and your backside. He is a holistic healer, so he doesn’t believe in pain killers, but he gives supplements.

Will It Ever End?

First, you visit four times a week, then, three times a week.

At That Lovely Age

Since I have reached that “certain age”, other medical issues are rearing their ugly pain. So, I have another doctor visit for my cataracts, then that leads to another one to get new glasses. Just to make life interesting, my vision in one eye was horrible. So again another doctor only to hear I have a hole in my retina. Yes, that was and is a bimonthly visit. My thyroid is acting up–ok, it is causing a whole of issues in the body–so now it off to another doctor. When you are dealing with doctors all the time, you start to wonder what is wrong with you. Yes, you guessed it. I went to another doctor for my mental health and she referred to a second mental health doctor.



People ask me how I like retirement. I love it, I reply, but I am busier than I was when I was working. Now I am “working” on my health and my new job is to constantly run to visit another doctor!

First. Hopefully, My Last.

There are a lot of firsts in life, some of them good, some of them bad, some peaceful, some painful.

Mine was bad and painful!

Last week was my first real car accident–it wasn’t my fault!


I was waiting at one of the very long stop lights in Encinitas. Actually, I was calmly waiting. Sometimes the long wait makes you crazy, but I was thinking of seeing my son at dinner. Moms don’t get too many dinner dates with their sons, so this was a special day.


Slam! 800 tons of metal had slammed into my car, or at least that is what it felt like. My whole body convulsed as if it was crashing against rocks below a cliff. I had no control over what was happening to my body. I hit the side of the car. My hands had a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel trying to give me a sense of control, but it didn’t stop me from jostling back and forth in my seat. And yes, I did have my seatbelt on. My brain had so sense of what had happened. Then I looked up and saw the car in front of me driving away and I had no idea what to do. I felt as if I was thinking through a haze. Surprisingly, I didn’t think about myself or if I was hurt. The first thought that popped into my head is that I wouldn’t see my son and I wanted to cry. My second thought was, “I’ve been hit and what do I do?”


I never want to inconvenience anyone. So, automatically, I drove away from the intersection wanting to go to the side of the road. I didn’t stop to look at my car, I just moved. I kept driving forward until the car in the next lane honked so I would move over.


My head was in a fuzzy, murky cloud. My body hurt–I ached everywhere–particularly my back. I knew I had to get out, but the traffic kept coming. I parked on the side, not knowing or caring if it was a no parking zone. A huge SUV loomed up behind me overshadowing my little car and parked behind me.


If I was unlucky enough to get in an accident, at least I was lucky enough to be hit by an honest gentleman. The first word out of his mouth was “It was all my fault.” Then he kept repeating to get out of the street. I managed to stumble onto the sidewalk and when I saw the back side of my car, I was shocked. The trunk was pushed in at least a foot. The lights were cracked and the red covering had completely fallen off one light. It was crumpled, puckered, crimpled and wrinkled. Then when I glanced at his giant SUV, there was absolutely no damage!


I know I have to exchange information and the only thing I had in the front seat was a bag from the pharmacy. When the man suggested I use another piece of paper, I glared at him and said “this is fine.”


Of course, my shaking hands and even shakier voice belied the fact that I was ok. When he saw how badly I was shaking, he offered to write his information down for me, but for some reason I needed to feel some sense of control, because at that point all other control was taken away from me. I told him I could write it.


He said he wondered if the trunk had been sprung. The trunk was closed tight. He had to check it. Why do men have to take things apart and then try to put them together again? Yes, the trunk was sprung. It popped up with a clunk. Then he tried to close it. He slammed and slammed and slammed and slammed, trying to close a trunk that had been tightly closed and in place before he opened it.


The advantage of the huge SUV is that he is capable of keeping a huge garagae full of repair equipment in it. As I watched dumbfounded, he tried to push and pull and pick up pieces that fell from the trunk, then he grew more and more red-faced. “I think I have some twine to put this together.” He spent at least 10 minutes rummaging through his trunk trying to find the twine. He found a huge tangle of thin twine. I know twine and I was really concerned that it would never hold. He tried to find several places to attach the twine so he could tie it. Nothing! Finally, he tied one around one side of the license plate, and then he realized that would not work, so he had to fumble with the twine once again trying to untangle it. Yes, he managed to finally secure the trunk in place.


What do you say to the person who broke your car and then tried to fix it with twine? I mumbled a soft thank you. I am not a vicious person and my brain was still in a deep fog, so I got in the car and drove away–leaving him there to call his insurance.

Once I got home, I said what I wanted to say, but he didn’t hear it. Then I called my insurance, but that is another story.

No Pain, No Gain Chapter

Super Powers
Right now I wish I had a super power. I could use several of them, but maybe I have to rule out a few first. I wouldn’t be able to fly because I hate heights. I would like to have lasers coming FROM my eyes, rather than have lasers used on them to fix a messed up retina, but unfortunately, I don’t think my eyes are strong enough for that.

Alien “Empath”
I think I want to be an “Empath.” I am sure I saw it on the original Star Wars tv series. Being an “Empath” is both a super power and yet a little alien. Yes, that works for me. My siblings always believed that I came from another planet so I suppose being an “Empath” is my best option. I better explain to the non Trekkies. An “Empath” takes the pain away from another individual by absorbing the pain–feeling it for while and then pushing it away quickly.

Two Kinds of Pain
There is both physical pain where something in the body needs to be regenerated, and then there is emotional pain in which the heart and mind need to be mended and soothed.

When someone close to us is in pain, particularly emotional pain they can’t apply the adage, no pain, no gain. They want to give up. They can’t see a future. They can’t see that maybe this pain is actually better for them in the long run. They don’t see any advantage to it. In their minds, they are not gaining a thing from it.

Take It Away
Believe me, I am not a masochist. I do not like pain. Actually, I will try to avoid it at all costs. But if I could use my super alien powers today, I would take all the pain away from the people I love, bear it and push it away.

Now, I am not totally altruistic. I want to take the pain away, but I also want to be able to give it back full force to whoever hurt my loved ones. And then, forget that I am an “Empath.”

Maintenance 101 Chapter

I’m calling this Maintenance 101, but my level of maintenance is really about 10!

We are never too old to learn–at least somethings. So, I decided to see if I could learn how to do simple maintenance around the house. I mean, other than calling someone else to come and maintain it.

Start Simple

I needed to replace the tiny bulbs that are behind the faceplates along the steps. These are imbedded night lights so you don’t fall down the steps at night. First, you need to remove the two screws. It requires a Phillips head, so I managed to find one. I needed to get comfortable on the steps since I was “working.” I put the screwdriver on the screw head and turned–nothing happened. I guess I needed to change my position to get a better angle. That didn’t help either. I never knew removing a screw was going to be such a challenge. After a few whines and curses, I managed to twist my arm at a weird angle and remove the screw. I was sweating by this time and I still had three more to take out, remove and replace the bulb and put in the four screws again.

I am no longer sitting on the steps cursing, so you know I did remove all the screws. Do you know that it is almost as hard putting them in as it is to take them out? But I was successful. There is now light on the steps!

A Little More Complicated

Every time I opened the pantry door, it squeaked and creaked. Closing it was even louder. I guess I could have lived with it, but it makes it impossible to sneak a snack when the door shouts to the whole world that I am trying to find something to munch on. Besides, it drove me crazy when I was cooking.

How do you fix a creaky door? I had a few ideas that would not be productive, but might make me feel better, but I decided I didn’t have the strength of the Hulk at that moment.

A better option was to try WD-40. I have heard of its magical powers, but I have yet to use it. My first dilemma was trying to figure out what WD-40 meant. Google helped me with that. It means Water Displacement–Formula 40. I now know what the WD stands for and I know it works, but what is water displacement?

I grabbed the trusty blue can and I aimed the nozzle at the hinges in the front–just a little gunk dribbled down. I threw open the door and MAGIC–there was no sound! Number One insisted that I spray both sides of the hinges. I wasn’t sure why, but I did it. Just to let you know–it didn’t make it any quieter than it was.

As I jaunted down the hallway–so proud of myself,–I opened the garage door and CREEEEEEAAAAAK! I thought to myself that I had magic in my hand and I could solve two household maintenance issues in one day. I sprayed BOTH SIDES of the hinges, moved the door and only SILENCE ensued.


We had company coming and we had just purchased a patio set and of course, the chairs needed to be assembled. So, rubbing my very arthritic hands, I grabbed a new tool. The Allen wrench. This torture tool is also called a hex key–I think the reason they call it that is because it hexes your hands and makes them hurt even more. How do you really hold the Allen wrench. It is L shaped. Do you hold it by the short end or the long end? Both ends have the shape that will fit. Now, when you put the chair together, there are 4 bolts that need to line up. So, just because you have two that line up, it doesn’t mean the other two will line up. Again, the hardest part is getting into the comfortable position so you can work. Do you kneel? Ouch–that is a no. Sit? Maybe–but only on a rug. Stand–man that hurts the back! So, I did manage between sitting and standing, cussing and crying to put FOUR screws into SIX chairs with ONE lousy Allen Wrench. They look good.

Just remember to sit carefully when you come and visit because now you know who assembled them.

And there was light!

And there was light!

Sturdy as .....????

Sturdy as …..????

“Wongkee” Eye Chapter

This chapter will not make any sense unless you read Eyeballing It first.

Morning Came Too Soon

I went to sleep on the couch and suddenly my alarm was singing merrily that it is time to wake up and go back to the doctor. Like I said, doctors are the people we visit the most.

Couldn’t Do it

The bandage was still covering my eye and I could not take it off–I was a little too nervous. Number One gently pulled off the tape–my eyebrows are thinner now–and the light was very bright. I glanced around. I could see!!! Thank goodness. I felt like I was looking through water or a gel-like water. I could see the backyard furniture through the window without my glasses!


The surgery did not give me a headache, the vision of the two eyes now is so very different that my brain cannot make the two eyes work together. So my brain hurts from trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Making two very different eyes work together just isn’t possible without a little pain.

Double Vision

My daughter drove me to the doctor because I was seeing doubles of everything from cars to street signs to white lines on the road. Once inside the office, the staff removed the lens from my glasses that I no longer need. I hoped that having my right eye corrected would help my vision. No! My brain still loved the doubles! Later that morning, I donned my “one” contact. It felt very strange only putting on one contact. The double vision wasn’t any better when I wore the contact.

As the day wore on, the double vision dissipated to an extent. I have to wear reading glasses to see anything up close. Reading the texts on my phone is impossible without reading glasses.

It is now day 2 after surgery and my eye still aches. When I let my eyes gaze far into the distance, they work very well together. It is just when I try to focus on things that are nearer to me, they double in quantity.

I have a check up in a week.

Now, if only I was finished with surgery on this eye. More to come. Stay tuned.

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