“Step off!” I say…

Sometimes I get grumpy and say things I shouldn’t say.

Today I woke up from my nap and told my dog to “Step off!” He was chewing on my pinkie toe and I let him have it.

“Step off, mutt!”

I know. I shouldn’t have cast disparaging comments on his lineage, but that’s what happens when I don’t watch my words.

I did make it up to Max. “I’m sorry Max. I think you’re the finest pup around and I don’t even care that we have no idea who your parents are…”

He seemed okay, but you know, once you put those words out there….

My dad and I shared a lot of words over the years. Some were good, some not so much. After all, I was a mushy gooey girl, he was a stoic engineer. I was a wild, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants teenager, he was a focused and analytical dad. My room looked like a minor hurricane had swept through while he had a drawers for every single tool he owned—each labeled and in alphabetical order. By the time I drove him crazy by eloping in my 20s, our relationship was more than a little rough around the edges.

I suppose we could have stayed there.

I suppose we could have let old words sit in the air and fog up our view of one another.

I’m so thrilled that we didn’t. Oh, not that cleaning things up went perfectly. There were times I disagreed with him, and he with me. But as I grew a little older, I began to appreciate the many things he did so well. And he was able to see me beyond my childhood goofiness and teenage insanity.

Two years ago, my dad died in a sailing accident.

Eighteen hours before he died, he left a message on my cell phone.

Here it is: Final Words

I have that message on my I-tunes playlist and today it came on as I walked my dogs. My dad’s final words to me were ones of encouragement, and they encourage me still today.

I was telling a family friend about my nephew Caleb yesterday. How he was 17 years old when he died in a car accident, twelve days after my dad died in a drowning. He looked at me with eyes wide, “I’m 17,” he said.

I could see the wheels turning.

We have no idea when our time will come. We have no idea what our final words will be. For me I just pray I don’t go out saying things like,  “You mutt!” to those I care about.

Instead, I pray that I remember how words can either destroy or build up, cut or heal… and how they linger either way.

Thanks for the voicemail, Dad. It made my day. Again.

Had to share. Forgive my potty mouth.

Friendly warning: This blog is slightly disturbing and may be offensive to some readers. Please read on at your own risk. 🙂

I had no clue how to work it. I mean, they never taught me about this kind of stuff in writing class. Or in speech. Or even in geography. I think they should have covered it somewhere, only because the whole thing was so downright traumatizing.

Unfortunately, it just never came up, and so I was ill-prepared.

When I went to Africa, using the restroom was the same as in America, only less water. The Netherlands and New Zealand – no big deal either. I could use the potty with ease.

Then I got to Japan. While I was on the military base, everything was fine – and quite familiar to me. Sit, do your business, flush.

Then we went for a hike in a rural area of Okinawa, and that’s when I encountered it at one of the local parks. It’s called a squatter.

The Squatter

I stood back and watched ladies go in and out of the stall. They didn’t seem to take long. They didn’t seem unduly stressed.

They were obviously gifted. That, and rather short. Which according to my calculations would make a significant difference in their targeting success.

I ventured close and peaked in. Had images of… well, I won’t take you to that part of my brain. Suffice it to say, I didn’t take a change of clothes and I thought after using that thing, I might need a new set.

The ladies with me laughed at my fears. And graciously pointed me to another restroom for us taller girls, with a place to sit and everything.

I thanked my lucky stars.

That was three months ago. I was actually going to keep the whole adventure to myself until I went to Oregon this last weekend and came across another unique potty place.

So yes. I did. I took a picture because I knew you would get a kick out of it (make sure you read the sign):

The Guitar Toilet

So there you have it. I had to write a blog and share two potty pictures. I just hope you weren’t looking for anything deep and profound today. And if so, I’ll leave you with this: If you ever go to Japan, bring an extra set of clothes, and if you go to Oregon, be prepared to pee-pee in a guitar.

Happy Tuesday!




A Romantic Weekend for…. Four?

It was perfect.

Just me and my man…

… and Simba Roo and Mad Max.

We hiked up Barr Trail (7 miles) on Friday and set up camp halfway up Pikes Peak. We almost left the dogs at home, but the sheer joy of a worn-out Max too exhausted to jump or bark or nip changed our minds.

We arrived at Barr camp around 3, set up our tent and then found a small outcropping of rocks with a view of the peak. We nibbled on some snacks and toasted our six years of marriage. Six years of companionship. Six years of laughter. Six years of ups and downs to rival any 25-year run.

We kissed.

Kissed again.

Max and Simba pretended to spot a squirrel.

We ate some dinner and climbed into our tent. As much as we’d made eyes at each other during our snack time, we were limited in any further adventures.

After all, the children were right there with us.

Brian and Max

Me and Simba

The next day dawned with a whole different anniversary to think about.  Just two years ago, on July 2nd, we lost my dad in a tragic drowning. I traced over those events in my mind as Brian and I hiked to the bottomless pit. A nine mile hike round-trip, it gave me plenty of time to think and reflect on the day, and on my father.

Me and my dad

I thought back to when I was just a little thing and my dad took me backpacking. I remember complaining every few minutes. “Can we take a break now?” “It’s really hot.” “I think a snake just bit me, I should probably rest.”

He was so good. “Sure,” he’d say. Or “How about a few more steps? I bet you can make it to that rock.”

I think my dad would have been proud of me on Saturday. I not only made it to a rock, I climbed up a few, shimmied over another and scrambled around several more.

And I know he would have loved the view.

Coming up on the Bottomless Pit


Awed and weary, we spent some time resting and then headed back. By the time we made it to camp, we ate dinner and fell asleep with the sun.

Yesterday, the caretakers at Barr Camp encouraged us to check out Ad-a-man Rock. It was amazing. Off in the woods, it was a large rock set on a massive cliff. We scrambled to the top to see the incredible view. I was totally wrapped in the moment until those dogs ran around to play… every time they went close to the edge, I barked out mama words.

“Not so close!”

“I mean it, you two.”

“Max! Simba! Back up or it’s not going to be pretty.”

They happily stood at the edge and grinned at me over their shoulders.

Rotten dogs.

Brian at the top

The fabulous view

Holdin' them back

We climbed down and walked a bit more before returning to camp to pack up and head home.

So here I sit today, pleasantly worn out after traversing 27 miles with my husband. I’m finally clean (I could have planted flowers in the dirt left behind in the tub yesterday) and I’m sitting on my front porch. The American flag is flying and children are playing on our street.

I celebrate another anniversary today: Independence Day.

I find myself grateful for a country that contains such majestic beauty, such marvelous freedoms and such lovely people.

So yes, we packed it in this weekend. Deep joy, longing sadness and fierce pride – and as I wrap up the day, and I think of sharing this time with you, I am grateful for friends who care enough to read the stories of my world, who share in the joys and the sorrows – because you get it. The richness of joy, the depth of sorrow.

Friends, I pray your weekend carried more joy than pain and more love than loneliness…. And if not, that our God held you close through it all.

Thanks for sharing the journey.