The Infamous Pittsburgh Expedition

Well, the whole thing was Sandy’s fault. She came up with the brilliant idea of taking our moms, (sisters Elinor, Ethel and Betty) to the ‘Burgh to visit their cousin Laura Jean Matchett, whom they hadn’t seen since Gram’s death in July, 1982. I called Candy with an invite, and so the 6 of us were in, and at this point (completely clueless regarding our destiny), very enthusiastic. Sandy and her mom, Ethel, were traveling from Mansfield, Ohio, and we coming from Warren and Erie, so we decided against a day trip, and agreed to meet Friday evening at the Comfort Inn near the Pittsburgh Airport. It was close to Jean’s house and would be a quick, easy trip (HA!) in the morning when we were all fresh <snort>. It was at this point where our wonderful, well-intentioned plans somehow began to go awry. These  and the following events all took place in the short span of May 31 and June 1, 2002.

On Friday night, we were all safe and sound at the “Inn”, reviewing a big box of old pictures that Gram had handed down to Aunt Betty; we were doing a lot of reminiscing. As it turned out, “The Moms” pooped out very early (11 p.m.). We hustled the three of them into the same room, with instructions to remove their hearing aids so they wouldn’t hear each other’s snoring, and we three cousins (Sandy, Candy, Debbie) gathered in our own room, armed with iced power drinks (bottled water) and chips and salsa. It was after 2 a.m. (“I know, we have to get to bed, but just look at this one!” I truly don’t remember whose line that was), when we decided we’d better turn in because the starving sisters would probably be banging on our door in about 4 hours. So much for the “being fresh in the morning” part of the arrangement.

Moaning and groaning and regretting the short night, we dragged out of bed by 7 AM. The 6 of us took advantage of the Continental Breakfast, loaded up with fruit ‘n carbs, and at about 8:40 AM, stumped (literally) off to the vehicles.

And thus, the trek from hell began. First, very early on, we ran into a detour which took us on a right turn across the river (God knows which one, someone decided there should be three!), over one of the 2496 bridges (count ‘em!) in the city. We were somewhere enmeshed in the maze of crooked streets and lost pedestrians when I thought I heard a little voice say, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto”.

After an hour of thrashing around, multiple U-turns, and nearly crashing into each other 7 times, we stopped for directions from a funeral home employee. The customers weren’t complaining about the delay as the kind proprietor took pity upon us. First thing out of his mouth was, “You don’t want to know how far off course you are”. Pointing in some ambiguous direction, his instructions then were: “Go down that way, and don’t even look at the Route 22/30 signs, ‘cause it’ll just make you mad”. We were outta that neighborhood in less than half an hour.

Meanwhile, I’m looking at my watch, thinking we were supposed to be there 30 minutes ago. Little did I know…

Hollyhocks and Four O’Clocks

After my mom’s divorce in the early 1950’s, we lived for a few years with my Gram and Granddad in Erie, PA, in a cottage on Kelso Drive, very near Waldameer Park. The parking lot, only two houses away from us, was hard-packed sand and we kids would go over there and sit on the ground, digging holes and tunnels in the sand. Between that last house on Kelso Drive and the parking lot was a narrow stand of trees that we called “the woods”. It provided hours of play; hide and seek, tag, and looking for Jack in the Pulpits, as well as any other games we could invent.

Oh, we had such fun in those days! We played outdoors, as there was so much to do, experience and learn! I had fun-loving cousins and friends who lived nearby and we would frequently get together and play games we made up, as well as “Red-Rover”, “Blind Man’s Bluff”, “Mother May I”, “Tag”, “Hide and Seek”, “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?” and so many others. Amazingly, we all actually survived playing Jarts for many summers without experiencing any death or injuries. Yep, we had to make our own fun, lacking the electronic equipment available 50-60 years later, which was designed to protect children from interacting with others and getting exercise outside in that nasty fresh air.

I remember the clamp-on roller skates we used outside and how hard it was to get them to stay on your old holey and street-worn sneakers…or did we call them “tennis shoes”? I think I recall that the skate sole could extend to fit all sizes. There was a special key that was used to tighten the clamps onto whatever shoes we used. If we had an old pair of hard-soled saddle shoes, those would work much better, as long as we avoided the gravel. Now that could result in skinned-up knees for sure! In the yards and driveways, we essentially had sand rather than soil, and this made for very slow skating when we ended up off the edge of the cement patio; it was similar to trying to run through quicksand. Now, what was really fun was when we’d walk to the “top of the hill” to the skating rink and rent real roller skates!

Remember the Fourth of July? There were sparklers, pinwheels, spin-and-spark toys, and real fireworks set off right next door at Waldameer. We had wooden toys using caps (originally intended for “cap guns”) to whack on the cement to send a feathered “flier” high up in the air. If you were real lucky, the thing would miss your head on its way back down while unwittingly obeying Newton’s Law of Gravity. Does anyone remember what were those things were called?

My granddad had planted several clumps of ornamental grasses positioned to the side, along one fence. Naturally, a little girl was compelled to touch the grass and run her fingers down the “blade”. And blades are what they were; they were as sharp as a razor. That little girl seemed to never learn – every summer there repeatedly were sliced-up fingers from this touchy-feely planting.

A note on the lighter side: I recall my mom, laughing, repeating the account of when I had asked Gram (apparently, she was just under sixty years old at the time), “How old are you Gram, a hundred?” Well, I guess to a four- or five-year-old, everyone looked ancient!

Energy Vampires II

I have located some helpful hints on dealing with a narcissist. For myself, I go to great lengths to avoid interacting with them. For others, however, you may not be able to escape him/her because you live with them. My heart aches for you. You need to protect yourself.


How to Disarm a Narcissist (and Make Them a Bit More Tolerable)

1. Don’t fall for the temptation to sink to their level.
2. Don’t feed the ego.
3. Don’t take responsibility for his/her emotions.
4. Don’t use ultimatums.
5. Don’t give him negative attention.
Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their emotions and yet they expect you to be accountable for yours. Your narcissist has worked hard to know what makes you tick, how to push your buttons and then how to convince you to stay. The best way to deal with a narcissist is to be in complete control of your emotions – far easier said than done but it can be done. Give your emotional intelligence a quick look over and figure out how to use that to control yourself. The most important trick to disarming the narcissist is to control your emotions.

The above are quotes from the site in the following link; use it to gain many more insights into dealing with the narcissist in your life:

Energy Vampires

Because I’ve been dealing with a stalker (wow, 23+ years now),  I am interested in a valuable book that came into my awareness a few years ago.  I have purchased it and shared with others; its title is Dodging Energy Vampires by Dr. Christiane Northrup. She’s got some great insights and advice and can guide the empath through understanding and dealing with the EVs in your life.

Besides “Energy Vampire”, you may have heard various other terms for this person:

  • Psychic Vampire
  • Emotional Vampire
  • Energy Sucker

Dr. Northrup acknowledges that the mental health profession (but only in the past 25 years or so) has clearly identified energy vampires and the effects they can have on others.

I have also watched many helpful YouTube videos available highlighting how to recognize and deal with specific issues encountered with the energy vampire. Regarding narcissists and also those researching the areas of Sociopaths and Psychopaths, I’ve found Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Dr. Seth Meyers and Dr. Les Carter are very interesting to listen to.

A Beautiful, Gentle Soul

Bailey: Smooth and shiny, kissable and typical English Lab “blockhead”…velvety-soft black ears on my lips and cheek. Bottomless, chocolaty soft brown eyes peering meaningfully, deep down into my soul. These will be my most  precious memories of Bailey who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on the morning of September 12, 2020.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We adopted Bailey from the local shelter in December of 2012. Our veterinarian estimated him to be about three years old. He had been abandoned in a nearby town, nearly hairless from flea bites/allergies and both ears infected. Despite this, he was cooperative, good-natured and easy-going. How could anyone let this perfect soul go? I know why! He was predestined to be with us the rest of his beautiful life. A lovely, laid-back Black Lab, I could immediately envision him leaning back in a La-Z-Boy, feet up, a cigar resting lightly in his paw, eyeing us curiously: “Why are my humans always so busy?”

Dog Days of Summer; Warm Farm Memories

The dry heat along with the sounds and smells of the past few weeks bring me back to the happiest, safest and most serene times of my childhood. At about the ages of 9 through 12, I stayed the summer at my aunt and uncle’s 98-acre dairy farm outside Mansfield, Ohio. What a wonderful, secure place that was in my young life.

As I was too small to lift bales of hay, I was taught how to drive the old green John Deere tractor. What a proud little girl I was! I pushed the clutch lever with my right foot, my leg fully extended to do so, I accelerated using a lever near my left hand and slowly maneuvered that wonderful John Deere around the hay fields. Putta, putta, putta, putta; I’ll never forget that ear-pleasing sound. As I drove, my uncle Virg, his brothers, his dad and my cousins, Bruce and Dean, threw the bales up on the hay wagon. One of them stayed on the wagon stacking the bales this way and that, using a special method that would ensure stability of the load. I couldn’t recreate that puzzle of criss-crossed hay bales if I tried! A more vague memory was  observing a grain elevator in use that would raise the bales into the top of the barn and grain into the granaries.

Meanwhile, Aunt Ethel stayed at the house, seemingly continually washing and hanging clothes, washing dishes, cooking, baking, cleaning, etc. Bruce and Dean’s sister, Sandy helped a lot with those household chores. I remember thinking, “I wouldn’t want that job for nuthin’!” There were always huge meals on the table, as Uncle Virg worked hard on the farm in the afternoon and into the evening after working all day at Tappen.

A Lesson in Compassion and Empathy

A few days ago, I attended a meeting preparing for the start of our upcoming bowling season next month. In retrospect, this gathering was a lesson in understanding, compassion and empathy. I have seriously reflected on the conversation of this meeting since then, and it continues to weigh heavily on me.

In the fall and winter, I bowl with a diverse group of ladies who, for the most part, are a great group of gals. Undoubtedly in most, if not all groups of people, you will observe the whole spectrum of personalities, opinions and behavior. A few nights ago, I perceived just that more than ever. Some wore masks, some didn’t. Admittedly, I was among those who foolishly didn’t, although I carried one in with me. Great protection, huh?

Our discussion included sponsors, sanction fees, weekly bowling payments, pin money; all pertinent topics for our ladies’ bowling league. Also discussed was our chronic problem of the lack of filling all our teams up. We should have four ladies per team, but have struggled for years to do so. Some teams are complete with four ladies and some, as my own, have only three. In fact, in prior years my partner and I had played with only the two of us, the other two positions were “vacant” and had assigned handicaps. All this is to clarify the lack of players in our league.

Perhaps the most important topic was wearing masks during bowling…or not. Undeniably, it would be difficult to socially distance during bowling. Think about it. One member, representing her team, explained that one woman on the team was at increased risk, and requested that everyone wear a mask as protection and out of respect for her health issues. I certainly understood and gladly planned to comply with that request. However, another woman boldly (and I perceived angrily) stated, leaving no doubt regarding her position, that at her business she refused to erect a plexiglass screen nor did she wear a mask, and apparently had no intention to do so in the future. So sad, when you reflect on the possible consequences, not to mention the resulting resentments this has and will trigger.

Podcast with Dr. Jeanette Gallagher

To listen to my  May 21, 2020 podcast with Dr. Jeanette Gallagher click on this link:


According to CORE (Center for Organ Recovery and Education), the following are common myths regarding organ and tissue donation:

MYTH: If I am in an accident and medical personnel know that I’m a registered donor, they won’t try to save my life.
TRUTH: The number one priority is to save every life. Paramedics, nurses and doctors will do everything possible to save your life. CORE is only notified after all life-saving efforts have failed.

MYTH: There is no difference between being brain dead and being in a coma.
TRUTH: Brain death is the medical, legal and moral determination of death. To verify brain death, a series of tests are performed over a period of time and more than one diagnosis is required before the patient’s family is presented with the opportunity to donate. There is no recovery from brain death.

MYTH: My religion does not support donation.
TRUTH: All major religions consider donation to be an individual decision or support it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

MYTH: The rich and famous receive preferential treatment on the transplant waiting list.
TRUTH: Financial and celebrity status do not determine who receives a transplant. A national computer network, maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), matches organs according to height, weight and blood type, followed by medical urgency and then time accrued on the waiting list. Age, race, gender, religious affiliation or financial status are not factors determining who receives a transplant.

MYTH: I am too old to register to become an organ donor.
TRUTH: There is no age limit for organ donation. Every potential donor is evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the time of their death to determine which organs and tissues are suitable for donation.

MYTH: My organs aren’t of any value because of my medical illnesses.
TRUTH: Few illnesses or conditions prevent someone from being a donor. At the time of death, CORE reviews medical and social histories to determine suitability. Although someone may not be able to donate blood, it does not always prevent the individual from donating organs and tissues.

MYTH: Organs go to people who didn’t take care of theirs.
TRUTH: Organs go to people who were born with or developed diseases that have caused organ failure. Less than 5% of people awaiting transplant have damaged their organ through substance abuse and they must achieve and sustain sobriety before they can be listed for transplant.

MYTH: My family will have to pay for costs related to my donation.
TRUTH: Donors and their families are not responsible for any costs related to donation. All costs are incurred by the organ procurement organization.

MYTH: Organs are bought and sold on the black market.
TRUTH: In alliance with the National Organ Transplant Act, the buying and selling of organs and tissue is illegal. Additionally, due to the complexity of organ transplantation, necessary involvement from highly trained medical professionals, the process of matching donors with recipients, the need for modern medical facilities, and the support required for transplantation, it would be impossible for organs to be bought or sold on the black market.

MYTH: The recipient will learn my identity.
TRUTH: Information about an organ donor is only released to the recipient if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, a patient’s privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.


The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a regional organ procurement organization (OPO). It is important to note that one organ, tissue and cornea donor can save or enhance the lives of up to 75 recipients. The following information is taken from CORE’s website,

o The liver is the largest organ in the body, responsible for crucial functions such as the breakdown of harmful substances in our blood and the production of bile that aids in digestion. It allows the body to filter medications and toxins, and metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
o Liver failure can be caused by viral infections, genetic disorders or alcoholism. These liver diseases lead to cirrhosis, which creates scar tissue that blocks the flow of blood and impedes its functions.
o Liver transplants are the only hope for long-term survival for patients with end-stage liver disease.
o Most liver transplants involve transplanting the entire liver. In this case, the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy one. However, it is possible to transplant part of a liver, as the organ can regenerate itself within the body. This is how it is possible for people to be living liver donors, as both the transplanted lobe and the donor’s lobe will grow in their respective bodies.
o A liver from an adult donor can often be split and transplanted into two people.

o The heart is the body’s hardest-working muscle. It is located behind the breastbone, between the lungs, and pumps blood throughout the body. Deoxygenated blood flows from the heart to the lungs, where it gives up waste and is freshly oxygenated. From there, the blood returns to the heart and is pumped to the rest of the body. Like any muscle, the heart can be subject to fatigue, especially if it has been weakened by a number of cardiovascular diseases. If the heart experiences enough damage, patients may need a heart transplant. A heart transplant is usually needed following medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy or weakening of the heart muscle.
o Today, heart transplants and combination heart/lung transplants are almost routine operations. These transplants have saved thousands of lives.
o For patients who await a heart transplant, donation is the key to saving their life as the severity of the weakened heart is critical. If a heart transplant is not immediately available, the only option for the patient is to be assisted with a mechanical heart called an LVAD (left ventricular assist device), which can be surgically implanted to maintain blood pumping until a transplant is available.

o The primary function of the kidneys is to remove waste from the body through the production of urine. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure, blood volume and the chemical (electrolyte) composition of the blood. Patients who need kidney transplants have suffered from some form of kidney failure, which can be a result of diabetes, high blood pressure or a number of diseases that can be inherited. If left untreated, kidney failure can be fatal.
o On average, patients on the transplant waiting list wait five years for a kidney transplant.
o Kidney transplants are the most frequently performed and the most successful organ transplant procedures.
o While most people are born with two kidneys, we can survive with only one. That is why individuals are able to be living kidney donors and help save the life of a loved one or stranger.