Archives for May 2014


People ask me how I can be so uComplacent1pbeat and strong, so centered, so independent and positive and go go go all the time.  Trust me, it wasn’t always that way.  We all have our ups and downs throughout life. The following is an excerpt from my personal journal.  I wrote volumes over a period of about 7years—it was a dark time in my life. This particular day became the pivotal turning point in my heart and soul, the catalyst that eventually changed my life for the better. 


February 20th 2010

Complacent. That’s what I’ve become. It’s so easy to just not make the effort.  Let it go.

Whatever “It” is….the chore, the purchase, the person, the responsibility.

I never thought I would become complacent.  But here I am.  Another weekend, and not doing anything useful with it.  So what?  Sitting by the computer, hoping someone finds me on this stupid dating website.  No one responds to my profile. They want a “pic” before they decide I’m worth talking to. It isn’t going to happen.  If one more person tells me I should have a line of guys at my door and down the block I may go postal.  Hell, they’re all complacent too.  Oh, there’s a shocker.  Not sure what the answer is, or if there is one. Maybe if I tried to be demure and helpless—ha! It isn’t going to happen.  Or, I could just go get dressed and go to the store before the rain freezes.

I should.

But I’m so damn complacent. Hell with it. I’m good right here.

I’ve sat here all day staring at TV doing nothing.  I don’t even recall what’s been on.  And part of this routine is to feel depressed at my situation.  Oh, yeah, I’m depressed all right. Depressed at the sad state of my life.  Who would of thought this is where I’d be today?  Holed up in a basement I rent from a guy in a small town, because I’m too tired at the end of the week to make the 90 minute drive to my own home.  And why would I go there anyway?  It’s not like anyone is missing me.  I could die right here, right now.  Who would notice?  Well, maybe the guy upstairs.  It would eventually smell bad.  Wait. What would he do with my dogs?  Send them to the pound, no doubt.  That would be horrible. I could never let that happen. I would haunt his ass for eternity.

But overall, this is a perfect place to hide from the entire known world. I like this basement.   I did make coffee.  That was something.  Whoop dee do.

In the last 48 hours I spoke with 5 people that were not work related conversations.  I guess that is something too.  Not everyone has 5 people to talk to.  Wow, I guess I do.  And one new email acquaintance.  Perhaps she will turn into a friend?  Let’s document the list….Jack, Vicki, Becca, Alice.  Maybe Liz?  But what if they find out I’m sitting here in this basement? Oh, like I care.  I pay to be here.

I called them all.  No one was free.  “Some other time.”  Sure.  That will happen.

I’m struggling fiercely with feeling alone.  So alone.  Alone.  Alone on the island.  So very alone.  But, really I’m not alone.  Just in some ways.  Ron came to the rescue when my truck broke down and I was almost two hours away from home—that was a Godsend.  Scottie called me on Christmas Eve to wish me a happy holiday.  Scottie called me!  How kind! What a great colleague!  He was the only human I heard from besides Ed.


What a disappointment.  Two outdoors-people.  So compatible.  So complacent.  What did he really want with me?  He so easily let me slip away.  No questions, no attempt to challenge my behavior or give me a little nudge….after all, it had been a long time since I’d been on any resemblance of a date.  I don’t know how to date.  I don’t want to know how to date.  Dating sucks.  Who needs it?

So damn complacent.

He’s probably like all the other guys, thinking there are so many options.  Younger, thinner, prettier options I suppose. Go gettum, dude.  Like Dave, only Dave was so much worse.  At least Ed hasn’t called me “too fat”.  How do we go from daily talks to zero in a matter of a moment?   And do I feel like telling him off?  Or telling him anything?

Heck no.  That would take effort.  What a waste.

Just like getting dressed up, or made up, or spruced up.  Who needs it?

So he just melts into the atmosphere, never seen or heard from again.  Gone.  I’ve reached the conclusion that nothing is worth the effort.  Everything is replaceable, disposable, forgettable.  I cannot imagine trying to hang onto something that is clearly not right—hang on like Sarah with her Jeff….how crazy to try to stay immersed in a situation completely wrong for you, just to avoid being alone.

And I am, indeed, so alone.

What’s wrong with alone?  I severed the ties with virtually everyone in my life all at once years ago, yet here I am, still alive. Lone survivor, that’s me. It’s better to be alone than to be in something hurtful and wrong.

I am so alone. Holy shit, is everything hurtful and wrong?

I hear pins drop all the time.  I hear the echo of silence.  I am painfully alone.

If Ed truly wanted me, he’d be back for me.  As would any of them.  No one, not one, has reached out to me.  No “are you ok?” or “I miss you can we talk?” They would if I mattered to them.  I totally believe that.  Why, why, why does everything always have to be up to me to start, or keep going?  I’m done.  It takes two.

Life is much less complicated now.

I hear the sound of the clock upstairs ticking, ticking, ticking….alone.  And my landlord is up there.  I hear him walking around.  He hates women.  What does that make me?

Nose to the wind, I push forward, and embrace alone.  That’s me.  Nothing will hurt me again.  Nothing will surprise me, nothing will penetrate my walls, nothing will matter outside of my closely guarded personal space. No more hoping for anything.


It’s here until it’s not.  I wonder if this is how Dad felt after mom passed?  Another day, just get through it, nose to the wind.

Oh, how I miss you, Dad.

Looking back at the new year, I’ve worked, worked, worked, and worked, and then spent some time feeling dreadfully tired, and very, very let down.  I have this routine so I can get through my day, my week, my month.  I’ve lost my sense of pride to a lonely routine.  My body hurts from shouldering the loneliness, the sadness, the despair.  Where do I find places to draw on happy feelings from?  I don’t recall having a place. Did I ever have a place? When a customer or colleague truly appreciates something I’ve done for them?  Yes, that does bring tears of gratitude to my eyes. When my babies rush to me licking, dancing and wagging tails.  Yes, their unconditional love fills me with gratitude.  That’s about it.

Pretty sad existence.3beggars

Or is it?

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  What I have is far more than what a lot of people have.  I have my health-sort of.  I have a great job.  A roof over my head and food in the fridge.   I have stuff.  I have 3 sweet baby dogs that love me unconditionally and make me smile no matter what.  And at least 5 people to talk to about things not work related.

I have what matters.

Buddy is staring at me intently.  Then his gaze travels to his ball.  Then to me.  Then the  ball.  Then me

I have what matters.  Yeah, hell yeah, I can convince myself I have what matters.

Yeah.  I can choose to be grateful for these things that matter.

And right now,  I do choose.

I choose to feel gratitude for all that I have.  I choose to respect the gifts I’ve been given. I choose to make the best with what I’ve been given.

Buddy successfully engages me in a round of fetch.  He knows how to work it.  His euphoria unfolds with the toss and retrieve of a ball, and I smile.

My euphoria could unfold with something as simple as the toss and retrieve of a ball.  It’s a start.  Nothing to be sad for here.  Today, I live for these loving dogs who count on me. I am blessed!

Time to get dressed and get to the store.

And stop being complacent.

Maybe I’ll apply a little lipstick, too…

Paddle Partners

One canoe.  Two people.

Their mission: to embark upon a week long journey into one of the most exquisite wild places in Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Hoping to get a glimpse of the raw desolate beauty found in the land of water, rock and trees. PaddlePartner3 Home to the black bear, the moose the wolf, and the loon.  Where the waters are teeming with fish, the lands are scattered with blueberries, and the sky can turn from sun to storm in an instant.

Quiet determination.  Passionate appreciation.  Tentative excitement.  Words to describe the man looking for a rugged, wilderness adventure experience.

Detailed. Dedicated.  Knowledgeable.  Words to describe the woman charged to deliver the experience.

He looks to her as the seasoned outdoorswoman.  She looks to him as the formidable adventurer.  Their journey will pull them together, working as a team.

There are no roads.  There are no plugs.  There is no power other than the power of their steady paddling.  There is no sound other than the sound of their labored breath as they portage their gear from one body of water to the next.

They have abandoned convenience.  They have embraced simplicity.  They have committed to a rugged course forged on trust, skill, and survival.

“Ok, where are you taking me?” He asks, as he stares blankly at the topo map.

She leans over his shoulder and begins to drag her pointer finger across the sheet. “Right….there, approximately”. She responds.

“Wow. And how far is that?” He asks.

“A couple days paddle.  And back.  The loop will take too long.”

They begin unloading the vehicle.

He has never done this before.  She can’t even remember how many trips she’s brought people on.

He wonders how wise it is to have blind faith in this woman.  She wonders if he will be able to get in and out of the vessel without incident.

The gear is unloaded.

She drives off to park the vehicle, contemplating what will constitute initiating plan B or C.  Always have another plan if things don’t seem to be working out.  Upon returning to the canoe launch, he has strategically placed all the gear into the canoe.

Not bad.

“Front or back?” He asks with a jovial grin.

“How do you feel about steering the canoe?  With the current weight distribution, it would be better for you to be in the back.” She responds, hoping he will feel comfortable choosing the back.  He carefully steps into the back of the canoe.  She gets in the front and they push off into chilly waters, bucking a fair breeze.  They have perhaps 4 hours until dark.

“This is amazing!” He calls out from behind.PaddlePartners4

She smiles.

“Yes.  Yes it is!”

They are finding their rhythm across the black wavy water. She is gathering intel through light conversation, and making an assessment on how they are doing.  Age, agility, prior experience and more all come into play.  “We’re going to pitch camp at the first site we find, and then go on a day paddle to see what else is available.”

Sounds good to him.

Within an hour they arrive at the first site, and it is empty.  They paddle up to the rock shore, looking up the steep rocky bank, surveying the effort it will take to unload up that hill.

“Ok, I’ll get out first, then help you out.”  She says, and steps out of the boat onto shore, guiding the canoe to a somewhat stable position for him to make a clean exit.  The canoe teeters as he strains to find his balance.  “Stay low and centered, that will help.” She advises as he makes his way to dry land with success.

They make a quick trip to the top and examine their new space.  Perfect.  PaddlePartners5Lots of flat area for tents, perfectly spaced trees for the food sack, it’s a fine choice.

Home sweet home on the hill!

After several trips with gear up the rocks to their campsite, she has tents up, tarps up and all that is left is the food bag.  He graciously volunteers to scale the tree with the rope, twice, so they can hoist their food high enough to be safe from bears.

“I’m going to go arrange my quarters, now.” he says, and heads off to his tent.  It’s going to rain.  She can feel it.  She sturdies the rain canopy over her tent and gear.  Suddenly he appears with a worried look on his face.

“I don’t have my drugs.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  I’ve looked everywhere.”

There is no positive outcome by venturing into the wilderness without ones prescribed medication.

There are only a couple hours of daylight left.

“Let’s go!” she says, and she scurries down the rock hill to the canoe.  He follows closely behind, climbs into the back, then she hops in front with a gentle push away from shore. They begin the journey back.

“You’ve got one strong paddle stroke!” he calls out from behind.

She knows.  They make it to the truck and back in less than two hours.

He shyly expresses his appreciation for the extra effort.

She compliments him on a great paddle there and back.

PaddlePartner2It will be dark soon. She begins preparing their dinner.

“What are we having? How can I help?”  he asks.  She quickly produces a plastic wine goblet and sack of wine.

“Relax, I got this.” She says, stirring something bubbly and aromatic over the tiny backpacking stove.

Within minutes she serves up a pasta and vegetable mix with fresh pan seared chicken breasts.

“Wow, I was expecting a dehydrated gumbo of sorts!” he exclaims.

She chuckles.  “Ha! Well, trust me, this dinner is the exception, not the rule.  Here’s to a great start to a fantastic adventure week!”  They toast.  The clouds unleash a light mist.  They turn in to their tents for the night.

You can tell a lot about a person in the first few hours of an experience like this one.  They discovered quickly that they made a good team.  They spent the next 5 days exploring the vast waters of   lakes

They fished, picked blueberries, paddled, portaged and explored, fished,PaddlePartner1 told stories, fished some more, solved a few of the world’s problems, survived a storm while 3 lakes away from camp, counted how many other people they saw, fished some more, and then there were those couple of mosquitos to deal with.  Evenings were spent fireside, reflecting on life, de-cluttering the mind, and looking at new ways to think about old issues.  She learned about the super-secret “man rules”.  He learned what it really felt like to be a strong, independent woman.   Perhaps there was a bit of sipping on Wild Turkey Honey in there too.

“Why aren’t the mosquitos bothering you?!”

“They always go for the new guy.”

“How did you come to be so adventurous?”

“What holds you back?”

“Aren’t you ever lonely?”

“Life is full, with new inspiration every day.”

They crawled into their sleeping tents each night, tired and content from the days paddle, and arose each morning to enjoy hot coffee and hot breakfast.  Every day was a great adventure.  He was amazed at how organized and completely “covered” she had things arranged the entire time.  She was amazed at his ability to adapt and participate with such ease.  Finally the day came to pack up and depart from their wilderness camp.

“PR, I’m not sure I’m ready to go home.”PaddlePartners6

“Yeah, I get that all the time.” I smiled.  “We can make it about another week on our current food supply if you want to stay.”

“Really?” I could see him doing calculations in his mind. It was a tough decision, but we knew he had to get back home.  The clouds were rolling in, and the sky was becoming grey.

“It’s starting to rain.”

“This is why I hung a tarp over base camp.” I pointed out, and began packing up underneath it.  “Here’s your rain gear.”

“Is there anything you didn’t think of?”  He asks in awe.

“I sure hope not.” I smile.

The rain stopped just as we got the canoe loaded.

“We should keep our rain gear on just in case.” I advised.

He stepped into the back of the canoe, I pushed us off while hopping in front, and away we paddled.

“How is it that with all this exercise all week I feel like I’ve gained weight?” he calls from behind.

“I don’t know!”

“Must be your good cooking!” he continues.

“You flatter me!”

“You deserve it, Miss Outdoorswoman.”

“Back at ya, Mr. Outdoorsman.”

As we headed back across the big wavy dark waters, there was no sound other than the sound of our labored breath as we paddled, and portaged our gear from one body of water to the next.  Light rain began to fall again.

“You’ve got one powerful paddle stroke!”  He called from behind.

I stopped and set my paddle across my lap, realizing how fast I was going. What’s the hurry to the roads, and the plugs, and convenience of our busy world?

“Let’s do this again, Miss Brady.”

“Any time, sir!”

And so it was with one canoe, two people, now paddle partners.


The Tastiest Tuna Sandwiches Ever

A little crunch, a little zest, and a lot of protein.  My favorite way to make summer time tuna sandwich!

  • 1 12 oz can chunk light tuna or albacore tuna
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped small
  • 1 carrot, shredded with potato peeler
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • ¼ t pepper
  • 3 T Mayo
  • 3 T Plain Greek Yogurt (I use Fage)
  • 4 stalks Romaine lettuce
  • 4 burger size slices of medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 loaf  garlic bread (the long loafs)
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in bowl and mix well.TastyTuna
  2. If the bread isn’t already cut in half, cut it in half the length of the loaf.
  3. Slice off 4 segments of the garlic bread the size of the cheese slices.
  4. Place 1 piece of cheese on the top section of each bread segment and set on a microwavable plate.
  5. Cover the bottom sections of bread with lettuce.
  6. Mound the tuna mixture on top of the lettuce.
  7. Put the cheese bread in the microwave for about 15 seconds, just enough to slightly melt the cheese.

Top the sandwich bottoms with the cheesy bread tops.  Serve with chips.

Makes 4 sensational sandwiches



Millennial Guide

The store was buzzing with middle aged computer geek shoppers, high on the latest technologies; chatting in the aisles about bits, and bytes, and ram.  I casually strolled up and down several aisles, listening, hoping to learn something useful. In my estimation these people are simply genius.

But I was there for a specific purpose—to buy my first GPS.  Didn’t have much money, didn’t have any experience, and I was painfully ignorant about them.  I had looked at several websites and saw various models and price points. It was all Greek to me.  I needed some consultation time with a human GPS guide to make my purchase decision.Millennia

There, ahead, was the GPS counter.  Void of life forms, and locked up tight.  I gazed longingly into the display case.  Look at them all.  So many to choose from.  What would be the right one for me?  I glanced to the left, the right, behind me and down the aisle isle ahead.  Nada, not one sales associate.  I took a walk around the nearby aisles.  There were two uniformed male employees having discussions with customers, and one young woman arranging boxes on a shelf.  I headed toward the woman.

She happened to turn her head just enough to catch me approaching, and immediately walked the other direction, off around a corner, and out of sight.  I spent the next 20 minutes trying to capture a sales associate.  They were experts at not making eye contact.  I went back to the display case, hovering there looking into it. Surely someone would notice I’d been hanging here for half an hour and reach the conclusion that I was there for a reason?  Heck no.  Finally a young male associate rushed by with a box in tow, and I loudly called out


He could not pretend he didn’t hear.  He stopped with an impatient look on his young face.

“Excuse me, could I please get some help with GPS’s?”

I guess I said something wrong.

“Well what kind of help do you need?”  He asked with a look of sheer frustration.

“Um…I was thinking of buying one, maybe?”  I replied.

“Someone will be over there in a few minutes.  He sharply responded and sped off.

Okay then.  I stood there at the display case, marking my turf.  I was not about to leave and relinquish my opportunity to get help.  I spied the young woman from earlier, moving back and forth between several isles, never making eye contact with me or anyone.  Then she disappeared.  I had now been there over half an hour.  I just want a GPS.  I decided it was time to go to the service desk, get into that 15 person long line, and ask to speak to the manager.  Or I could just leave.  I turned around to leave.

There was Jean, the young woman sales associate, staring me down with an expressionless face.  Or was that how she looks when she is in a very very bad mood?

“You had some questions?” she said in a flat, tone.

“Um, yes, yes I do.”  I replied, somewhat flustered at her magical appearance. “with GPS’s.”

There was a long pause.  “With what?”  she said, and crossed her arms across her chest.

“Well, for starters, could I see some of them?”

She pointed to the display case.  “Everything we have is all right there.”

“I see that.  I mean, out of the display case?”

Guess I said something wrong again.  Clearly I was really agitating this young person.  She walked around the electronics counter, over to the display case.  We were now facing each other with the case of goodies between us.

“Which one?” she said with an impatient exhale, as she bent down to unlock the case.

Her behavior was becoming quite distracting.  This girl was young enough to be my daughter.  What is her problem?  I began fantasizing about spanking her and sending her to her room for this horrible behavior.  But I bit my tongue.  We’ll get through this.

“Well, how about that one?” and I pointed to one of the Garmins.  She reached into the case, pulled it out and handed it to me, then glanced around the room impatiently, tapping her heel on the floor.

I had my first GPS in hand.  This little device is going to guide me around the country on adventures!  How does it work?  Where does it turn on?  It’s so sleek.  What do I do?

“Can you show me how it works?”

She stared down her nose at me and bit her lip.  There was a long moment of awkward silence.  She pressed the top corner of the device and it turned on.  She handed it back to me.

“Garmin has a website.” She said.

Now, I don’t think I am better than anyone else, but I do think I deserve to be treated with respect by others.  I am here to spend money.  Oh my gosh, she is an example of the future of our country.

“Look, are you ok?  I’m so sorry to be such a bother to you.  Do you need to go get another associate to help me?”  I asked her in the calmest, most caring voice I could muster up.

“What?”  She balked.  “I’m fine.  What else do you need?”

“No, really, could you please go get one of your associates to help me?”  I carefully pressed.

Her neck and cheeks became flushed red.  She turned and darted out from behind the counter and vanished.  In seconds, one of the other young associates I’d seen earlier appeared.

“Which one did you want?”  he asked without looking at me.

“Well, I don’t know.  That’s why I’m here.  Can you please show me some of the differences so I can make a good choice?”

“Well, Jean is the GPS expert.”

I was stupefied.  Perhaps now is the time to say thank you and good bye.

“Well, Jean is not here now, Kurt, so I’m hoping you can help me.”  I said, looking at his name tag, and trying to make eye contact.  It wasn’t happening.

Needless to say, the GPS education process was a long and painful one for both of us, as Kurt was every bit as uninterested in helping me as Jean was.  End of the story?  I did purchase a GPS from Kurt, only because I needed it quickly and didn’t have time to shop around.  I thanked him emphatically for his valuable help and did my best to demonstrate huge appreciation for his time.  For one split second I thought I saw a glimmer of hope in his eyes.  That was 3 years ago.  I have not been back to that store since then.  But I have spent several thousand dollars in electronics with their competitors, since then.

This story is not a unique one.  I have many more, as I’m sure you do.  The key question is, why?  Why does this seem to be the growing normal?

Welcome to the age of the Millennial.  According to the National Post, within the next decade, 75% of the workforce will be made up of the Millennial Generation.  This statistic should scare us.  Why?

Because according to a recent Gallup poll,

70% of American workers are not happy with their work place. 

Of that number, 18% are actively disengaged, meaning there is some bad ass attitude going on with them.  Unless steps are taken to correct this direction, this trend is only going to get worse.  Sadly, my own state, Minnesota, leads the pack of disengaged workers at a whopping 26%.

This very topic came up at a recent business conference I attended.  Concerns were widespread amongst the CEOs, company presidents, and corporate managers in the room.  All of them asking ‘what to do’ to turn things around in their organizations.

The first step is to take a look at how the Millennial Generation might think.  They have risen up into adulthood as a generation of entitlement.  Many are told to go to college, then are straddled with enormous debt they carry for years after.  Few are able to secure employment with a salary even remotely able to put a dent in their debt.  They perceive an endless list of mistakes their elders have made.  They don’t want to follow in those footsteps.  No, they are not happy with their jobs or their opportunities moving forward.   They don’t trust the current decision makers of our country.  Many don’t believe there is much future.  Their altruistic attitude leads them to develop a staunch belief in social causes– they are not supportive of big business, big banks, profitability, or making purchases through companies that don’t also “give back” to make the world a better place .

It would appear the Millennial Generation is feeling pretty dissed.  Beyond the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) they are looking for compassion, empathy, and social responsibility.  And what is wrong with wanting that?  Nothing, outside of it being in direct conflict with how most business is run today.

So, the answer becomes simple; change.

Change the culture and work ethic to align with the Millennial Generation’s needs.   Now that’s a tall order for American business.  The conference talked at length about business culture and results.  How a company’s culture has a direct impact on the financial bottom line.  An 11 year study done by Harvard Business School revealed:

Businesses with “Positive” Cultures Averaged Growth of 682%
Businesses with “Weak” Cultures Averaged Growth of 166%

Which would you rather have?

Perhaps this new generation and work force needs Millennial Guides.  Like a GPS, a programmed series of steps.  A format, leading the way through a culture more conducive to their long term well-being.  We can all be guides.  We all should be guides.  Businesses willing to invest in adjusting and nurturing their corporate culture will be rewarded with increased productivity,  decreased absenteeism,  increased customer service, higher retention of desirable employees and more profitability.

Contact PR Brady AdVentures to schedule a Culture Assessment for your business.  Become the next Millennial Guide.



Buddy – A Series Of Adventures—Over The Top

I see you watching that squirrel on the fence line.  Frozen in place, watchingOverTheTop2 every twitch he makes, waiting oh so patiently for him to make the wrong move.  You are my stealth hunter, my ever-ready back-up dispatcher for sure.  Remember that one time a couple years ago?

It was such a beautiful day, I took the mountain bike out and went on my first ride of the summer.  An hour later, some clouds snuck in, so I took a nap on the sun porch couch while it was raining for about 15 minutes. You were on the cool cement floor right beside me. Then, like magic, the clouds went away, and the porch became so warm it woke us up.  Couldn’t ask for better weather to laze around and rejuvenate from a long hard week—or a better day to eliminate a problem

Yes, we had a problem, alright.  A very expensive one, and there he is, at it again. A nuisance squirrel on the prowl.  That little sucker has been nesting up in our big tree, sneaking around, tearing up all sorts of stuff on our patio—dug up my $75 newly planted petunias, ripped up my swing canopy for another $300, chewed up my picnic table cover, rooted around and tore up a canvas bag and my bag of potting soil, chewed up part of my wooden bar table, and it’s table cover that I’ll have to replace for another bunch of hundred dollars. But most aggravating is that the destructive vile, rodent chewed a good size hunk out of my $600 hot tub cover, and now that will have to be replaced.

But today, he was not careful.   I caught the bugger sneaking across the hot tub over to the bar table, no doubt to chew up the new table cover I put on there two days ago.

Ha! Busted!  I saw him from the sun porch window, so I jumped up, and headed for the special cabinet.  You knew immediately what was going on, and were right by my side.

“Mama’s getting her gun—oh boy!”  You began prancing; tail wagged with delight.

I grabbed my trusty Olympic air rifle, sped upstairs to the guest room above the porch, quietly stepped out the balcony door, and carefully peered over the edge of the roof.

There he was, perched on my bar table, filling his nasty little cheeks with the new table covering.

My heart was racing, my blood boiling—I’ll fix you, you violator!  Now granted, it isn’t every day I am on my roof with an air gun, but come on, enough is enough here.  The angle was perfect to take a completely safe and discreet shot at the nemesis of my world.  So, I took a calming breath, aimed a steady bead between two hairs, and whacked the b%#*##* !!   His scrawny little body launched into the air, flipping several times, until he hit the concrete next to the hot tub.

Mission accomplished! Snoopy dance! Big sigh of relief.  You spun around and around in a flurry of excitement, not knowing if you should jump off the balcony to fetch him or what. You just knew a wonderful thing happened and wanted to celebrate too.

“Whoa, whoa,” I whispered, holding you back to calm you down.

Wait a minute…what?  As I looked down at the concrete patio, to my great surprise, and despite the fact it was a deadly shot, he is.…he is…still moving! The beast apparently is some sort of mutant, and is managing to drag himself half ways over to the fence line to expire.

I hate that when that happens.

You give me ‘that look’, like ‘just let me go finish him off…’

“Hold on now, Buddy, whoa….no bird…no bird.” I try to convince you to relax. This is between me and Mutant Vile Rodent.

No more sneaking! I bolt back into the house, run downstairs, out the back door, gun held high, pellets in my pocket, determined to pump another round into that nasty critter, calling;

“Buddy, you wait here.” And I slipped out the back door, leaving you in the kitchen. No need for you to think the back yard is a free-for-all hunting grounds.

Dang, Vile Rodent was out of sight. How could I lose him? I begin to search the fence line. Searching, searching, can’t find him–ahh, then I see those beady little eyes twinkling amidst the fire pit wood….

Those beady black eyes.  Cheeks still plump with my property.   I step up to within 10 feet, dropping the next pellet in. WHACKKK! I shoot again. He jolts out from the wood and along the fence line–then actually tries to crawl up my white plastic lattice fence.  I reload once more. WHAAAACK! And he drops like a rock to the ground.  No movement.  Completely still.  Thoroughly expired. Mission accomplished!  The triumphant protector of our home has done it again.  Now it’s time to share the spoils of my victory.  I bring you out from the kitchen, on heel, over to the side of the fence line, only to discover that little sucker was gone again! How could this be? Okay, my lean mean hunting machine partner, it’s time for you to step in for the assist.

“Hunt em up, baby, hunt em up!” I command.  You immediately kick into full bore hunt mode.  Nose to the ground, tracing the exact path the vermin creature took from the exact pinpoint where he first hit the concrete.  Your tail flicking, ears flapping, darting up and down the wood pile and fence line with complete focus.  Mere seconds have passed when boom, you lock up tight on point, peering through the fence.

Oh great. You’re kidding me.  The critter went into the neighbor’s yard to expire.

We could see him lying in the neighbors Snow-On-The-Mountain. They are gone for the weekend.  Still, this posed a whole new problem, as I have 6′ lattice fencing tie-wrapped to the 4’ chain link fence all around the back yard. But now was not the time to back down—–so I grabbed the garden scissors, and ‘snip snip snip’ down came a section of lattice fence. “FETCH!”,

And over the top of that four foot chain link fence you went in one graceful leap, instantly back over the top to me with squirrel in tow…in mouth…well, you know what I mean.

“Give. Good boy, thank you.” You were euphoric.

So was I, actually.

And, problem solved.

Ahhh, another day in the neighborhood. It really doesn’t get much better than that. OverTheTop1

I reattached the lattice on the fence and we went about our day.

Buddy, old boy, I know what you’re thinking.  We are NOT going after that squirrel on the back fence.  Oh, don’t be giving me that look now…..!

Sugar Me Bare

Ladies and Gents, hair removal doesn’t have to be a painful experience—just try Sugaring.  Sugaring can be used on legs, brows, nose, ears, face, bikini line, under arms, or anywhere you have unwanted hair.

Where to go for the best Sugaring treatment ever—

Estrella Apothecary and Spa
Holistic Skin Care, Therapeutic Massage, Natural Nail Care       
2515 Nicollett Ave S Suite C
Minneapolis MN 55404

Ask for Skin Care and Beauty Specialist, Orrin Black

Orrin is one of 20 elite official Educators for Alexandria Professional, the longest established Worldwide Leader of the Professional Sugaring Education Process.  You want him to be your Sugaring provider.sugar2

Orrin is an amazing professional, focusing on Body Sugaring and makeup applications and lessons.  He is devoted to working with both women and men clients, giving them exactly what they need to look and feel their best about their skin.  Short list of his services include: Full Body Sugaring, Kisswaxing, Male Grooming and Manscaping, Salt Glow Scrubs, and Hungarian Wellness Mudwraps.

Go ahead and tame the gorilla in you, Sugar!

Pour Some Sugar On…..

Your legs.  Your brows. Your bikini line. Your under arms. Your upper lip. Your  back, your chest, your butt….wait… your….butt?


That’s right, we’re talking about body waxing.  Do you look forward to your next wax appointment?  If you’re like most, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you have it done, waxing is never a “feel good” experience, but more like a necessary evil. The hot dripping goo being pressed into your skin with sheets of fabric, then ripped off with the speed of light and strength of an arm wrestler. It sure is painful to maintain that clean fresh look by getting waxed.  Wax on, wax off!  The skin turns red, becomes irritated and swells.  But you suck it up every 6 weeks, because, well, beauty takes pains, right?  You tough it out, then wait for that new growth to pop out and be long enough to yank away again.  And again.  And again.

Have you ever thought about what waxing actually does to the skin? Waxing pulls off layers of live skin if not properly administered.  The unhealthier your skin is (meaning having dead skin layers) the “safer” it will be for you to wax.  That just doesn’t seem right, now does it?  Don’t we want our skin to be able to breathe?  But, if you go in for a wax after you’ve exfoliated, you will be in for a world of hurt. Imagine that hot wax being dropped onto your freshly opened pores.  In fact, waxing is the exact opposite of the idea of healthy exfoliation, it leaves a residue that clogs the pores.  If some of the hairs don’t pull out in a particular section of waxing, you’re really not supposed to re-wax over that spot because of potential skin damage.  So, if you look at the big picture, you have to let your skin become clogged up with layers of dead skin to wax.  Then you have to endure the painful process, which may or may not be completely thorough, followed by swelled red skin for a period of time. Waxing isn’t capable of keeping up with a normal healthy skin schedule—plus you have to wait between treatments.

Well what if there was a way to lose that unwanted hair completely and have the process be pain free?

There is, it’s called Sugaring.  A new technology born from an ancient Egyptian process. Sugaring is a natural, and healthy alternative to traditional waxing.  The ingredients are simple; mainly sugar and water.  The product is applied by hand at room temperature, and not with a spatula.  No strips are used to remove the product, it is removed by hand as well.  The sugar can be left on the skin without worry.  It can be removed from unintended areas simply by wetting.  And it’s not a hot mess of hurtful, sticky, hardening goo.sugar1

Ladies and Gents, Sugaring can remove any body hair at any length, any time.  What that means is you don’t have to wait for a retouch.  If you schedule a sugaring every few weeks, you will have continuously clean ‘hair free’ skin that is also exfoliated and healthy.  An added bonus to consider–the treated areas will require less and less attention over time, slowly becoming permanently hair free. Permanently loose the uni-brow or stash? OH my!

The key is to have your Sugaring done by a licensed, qualified professional.  They will be equipped with an entire skin care product line and extremely precise manufacturing process.  They follow a strict protocol to ensure your treatment is safe and sanitary and you have a positive experience. They are highly skilled in skincare, and are experts in technique, modalities, and identifying ideal candidates for the process.

So go ahead and pour some sugar on YOU!

Kickin’ Bird Salad

When I harvested my spring turkey I was a tad “rambunctious”.  That being said, I didn’t really have the most esthetically pleasing bird for the table to work with, so I opted to roast the bird without all the fixings, and freeze it in about 1lb“sections” for later use in whipping up great easy dishes like this one!

1 lb cooked chunk turkey or pheasant

1 can chick peas, drained

1 large carrot, shredded with a potato peeler

1 C chopped onion

2T Weber Kickin’ Chicken seasoning mix

¼ C mayo

¼ C sour cream

¼ t salt

6 cups cooked, rinsed, and cooled pasta (the picture shows a spinach/cheese tortellini—but shells or ribbons work just as well—pick your own favorite pasta!)KickinBird

Mix the mayo, sour cream and half  (1T) of the Weber seasonings together in a large bowl

Add first 4 ingredients and mix well

Fold in the pasta

Mix in the salt and other half of the seasonings

Plate on romaine leaves, serve with chips, veggie straws, your favorite crackers or artisan bread.

Serves 6 – 8

The Cork

Just a small object in a plastic baggie.  That’s all she handed me.

“I saw this at the Farmers Market and thought you’d like it.” she said with a bashful smile. I opened the baggie and pulled the contents out.

A wine cork.

A ceramic wine cork.  An intricately designed ceramic wine cork.

So beautiful.

So thoughtful.

So useful, as I was opening a bottle of wine for us to share.

So lucky I am, to have this great friend.

“It is beautiful!” I exclaim.

She shouldn’t be buying me this.  But that’s how she is.  So giving.  Corks1I glance at her sometimes with wonder and admiration.  So unassuming.  So hardworking.  So kindhearted.  So darn smart! What a beautiful soul.  She dreams of comfort, of love, of health, of a car that doesn’t break down, of fashion, beautiful art, and having her own home.  She deserves all the best.  Her life is anything but easy, yet she plugs along each day fueled by an inner strength, a positive attitude, and with her head held high.  She is always doing her best, taking care of everyone around her, and noticing intricate wine corks.

So lucky I am, to have this great friend.

Friends and family are her strength and foundation.  Her kids are the direct lifeline and core of her heart.  Her pride and joy, and she has been a true survivor raising them on her own.  She is always there for them.  She’s always there for everyone in her “circle” and she has a very big circle.  I wonder how many of them reciprocate.  They damn well better reciprocate!

She and I, we share the good times.  We share some not so good times.  We share quiet times, and sometimes, we just share thoughts about life and love and how we could change the world if only we could.  If only I could do more to make things right for her, I surely would.

She has this amazing gift of being able to rise above the bad things that occasionally happen in her life, turn the other cheek, look at the most bleak situations from a positive perspective, and find something good to say no matter what.  Even when she is struggling with her own health issues they are almost transparent, as she is a gentle fighter.  How she can maintain that level of grace, I’ll never understand.  I glance at her sometimes with wonder and admiration.

And after an hour, or a day, or a week of life’s struggles taking their toll on her, there she is in a moments notice, talking me up with the pride of a mother. Without judgment, or jealousy, or expectation, she is there for me.  Even when I am at my worst. We can laugh, and laugh, and laugh…..or cry.  Or analyze the problems with men for hours and hours.  What I ever did to earn this woman’s kinship is beyond me.

Perhaps it’s my selection of wine on the rack.  That would explain the cork.

My beautiful, intricate cork.

So lucky I am to have this great friend.

Buddy – A Series of Adventures – The Natural

There you go, off on a tangent sniff-oh-rama into the weeds again.  Buddy, there is nothing there on the boulevard.  We can barely go three blocks walking, and you are tired, breathing hard, and stopping every 4 steps to sniff imaginary things in the grass.  I know you want to find something to point.  I know you want to find something for me to shoot so you can chase it.  It’s how you’re wired. You’re a natural, after all.

Buddy Boy, I’ll never forget those early days after you came into my life mid-July, at 11months old, with no previous training whatsoever.  A strong willed dog, coupled with a novice owner.  From the beginning I knew it would be interesting to see who was training who.  We had a challenging first couple of weeks, introducing you to the rest of the 4 legged family, just in time to experience the beginnings of an explosive divorce, and finding your place in our new and fragile pack, as the only male.  Once we sustained our injuries, well, the house was quite the circus for a while.  You took it all in stride.

One of the responsibilities of owning a pedigreed hunting dog is following through with their training and official paperwork that carries the line. You and I were under the gun to comply with the first sequence of your documented training–the Natural Ability Test. You had no previous training, I’d only owned you a very short time, you were close to a year old and there were only a few test dates left before it would be too late for you to register as a NAVHDA qualified dog. That meant the two of us needed to buck up, work hard to catch up, and drive to the only location still available–South Dakota–for the test, with our injuries and all.

We got to South Dakota by 6:30 Saturday evening, and stayed over in a lovely dog friendly hotel, so we’d be well rested and ready to test Sunday morning. We pull into a parking lot on that hot windy August morning, where 50 or more guys are milling around with dogs and guns and top of the line Orvis field gear outfits, and I’m not able to locate more than one female in the crowd. It never stops being daunting. As we pull up at the end of the row, the girls mop heads pop up to see out the truck windows, eager to get out and go pee after the long drive to South Dakota. I’m sure when we first got out of our truck the NAVHDA judges were thinking ‘what the hell?’

With a cone around you head, and leg bandaged up, and me with a big green polar fleece cast cover from fingertips up to my elbow—we were loud and clumsy and totally pathetic looking.   They probably thought we were lost.

One thing for certain–it sure is easy to turn a guy’s head with a fine dog at my side. We quickly learned we had to stay quiet, stay by our vehicle and not look in certain directions, not ask questions, and not engage with other dogs and ohhhh it was so hard to behave! But we waited our turn as patiently as possible.   Everyone there was so competitive. Everyone was checking you out. Sure, they probably made their assessments of what they thought we were all about. But they didn’t know our story or where we came from. They didn’t know about our shaky start, my crying sleepless nights with you and the girls curled up around me, your lack of training, my lack of training or how isolated our family was. Their dogs all had been exposed to hundreds of live pheasants from the time they were babies. At 11 months old, you had yet to even see a pheasant, except on TV.

They all thought you were a nice looking dog.  I think the guys were impressed that we showed up at all, both being gimped out. But the cone came off and soon, your “natural ability” kicked in.  It was our turn. We forgot all about our injuries once we got out into the fields.

We walked up to the judges circle to be given an explanation and instructions about the test elements. I was so dreadfully ignorant and nervous.  It didn’t help that you peed on the head judges leg the instant that he identified himself as the guy in charge. Way to start things out.

Test one, field phase—dog is sent into cover where presence of game has been arranged. Tested on use of nose, search, pointing, desire, cooperation, and gun shyness.

It was time to take you off leash and without any control mechanism other than voice or hand control. Oh my we haven’t had time to work on either of those things with confidence.SONY DSC

But I set you loose and you immediately started ranging the field. We hadn’t had time to get to any gun ranges to see how you would react when guns were being shot. I’m the only one who flinched when they shot the gun. How embarrassing THAT was!  But, it was good for a laugh. One judge said “I think he’s livin large”, getting to run a wide open field with his nose in the wind, smelling birds and pointing them. Another pointed out you seemed to not notice your injury at all. You brought tears to my eyes, I was so proud! You pointed a bunch of game birds planted in the grass. You seemed to be struggling on the last point, darting this way and that. We determined that bird was on the run and you were not about to give up on it when suddenly, the bird rose up and flew off right under your nose—you chasing full bore behind it. The bird gained altitude and distance quickly with you in hot pursuit.

“Um, excuse me? Umm…”

“Shhhhhh”. One judge responded. I began to feel faint as I saw your lean body disappear over the horizon line over 200 yards away—gone out of sight.

“Oh my God, what do we do?” I gasped to the judges. They casually looked at each other, then one said “Oh, give him a few minutes, he’ll come back.”

That’s when I broke my silence and admitted I’ve only owned you 30 days. You’ve never been completely off leash before. Now you were several hundred yards out of sight—maybe in the next county. I was so close to tears.  Minutes felt like hours.

“Where is the nearest road from here?” I timidly asked. Then, suddenly, we spotted a flicker of movement on the horizon line. And then another flicker. And then a bigger flicker, and then, there it was—what appeared to be a head. A head and shoulders. A head and shoulders, with something else, getting closer. It was you, barreling back towards me, with something in your mouth. THE BIRD! My good boy successfully retrieved that bird over 200 yards away and brought it right to me (which you didn’t have to do!).

You know you made an impression on the judges with that little exhibition as they all started writing on their notepads with smiles on their faces.

Test 2, tracking phase—dog is sent to track a live, flightless pheasant. Tested on use of nose, tracking, desire to work, cooperation

Unfortunately, you didn’t execute this test element very well.   It was super windy, and the judges even had you restart once.  Most NAVDA dogs have been on about 1,500 birds by the time they reach your age. In our short time together, you’d never seen or smelled a pheasant, and only even tried seriously tracking a goose wing bumper one time.   You were clearly at a disadvantage and would need to rely completely on the literal interpretation of “natural ability”. Well, you were all over the place except where the pheasant actually went. Between the wind and your inexperience, you just didn’t find a scent. Even still, as far as I’m concerned that 200 yard retrieve made up for anything else that could ever happen!  You were a winner in my eyes, and frankly that’s what really mattered. You are my good boy!

Test 3, water phase—dog is expected to enter water and swim. Tested on water entry, desire to work, and cooperation.

Of course, the water portion of the test was a snap. You knew what we were about to do. You were alert, anxious, and ready to jump into the water. The judge gave the signal, the bumper was tossed into the water and you bolted after it like blazed lightening. You dove into the pond and power-stroked across to the floating bumper, grabbed it and spun around back to me. Onlookers cheered and clapped, the judges were nodding and smiling. After your two required times swimming after the bumper, you kept sneaking around and stealing the judges bumpers out of the tub, and bringing them to me for more water fetching.  Everyone enjoyed that as well, you were so cute.  I hated telling you “no more” with the bumpers.  We were done, it was lunchtime, and a couple South Dakota NAVHDA club members helped me remove your wet bandage and put on a new one.  They were amazed to see the extent of the gash, considering how effortlessly you worked the tests.

Natural1We were told the judges would call me over when they were ready to tell me how he did. So we waited.

I expected that we failed the Natural Ability test because of the live track, but, to my surprise, you came away with a Prize III 93 points.  The judges all praised you, said you were a hunter with lots of natural ability, a loving, cooperative boy. I immediately pulled out a bottle of Pink Champaign!  Unfortunately, the rest of the whole group had to go back out after lunch to finish the UT test.  They invited us to stick around until the end and celebrate, but that would have been too late, so, we headed out, vowing that next time, we’ll plan to stay and visit longer with our new friends!

I was so proud I could hardly stand it!  Not bad for a 13 month old untrained dog that I’ve only owned since July 18th, and was only able to work with for about 30 days, not to mention around all the home drama and injury trauma and crap….

I was exhausted.

You were ready to go again.

Your wound had reopened, but it was obvious it happened before we started the testing, as the skin was dried up and trying to heal.  The South Dakota guys that helped me change your dressings said I should leave it wrapped for another day, then let you do what dogs do–and start cleaning it yourself–because it was far too late for new stitches, and the location off the wound was like mine, a place easy to reopen.

It was long drive back, full of reliving the fun and proud moments of the day. Of course by the time we got home, you had managed to reach your leg around the cone and chew off most of the new bandage, so I had to wrestle you down by myself to apply a new one again—one handed.  Yes, you were a real handful, but I did it alone! The girls were thrilled to be home, they were jumping and barking, and showing us they can fetch too. But everything pales in comparison to you and your natural ability.

We celebrated as a family with our Pink Champaign that day. One day next week we can go down south for the afternoon, and I’ll walk with you out in a field for a few minutes. Let you channel your Natural Ability on the real deal one more time….and we’ll celebrate in style once again.