Category Archives: Holidays


On Friday I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Herman Mehling, with members of his family and mine, at the St. Augustine restaurant The Ice Plant.   Unbeknownst to me, it was his 94th birthday.  I have never shared a birthday with a 94 year old before so this was quite special.  I had been wanting to meet him for a long time.

Herman, a.k.a. “The Jesus Man” is the father-in-law of my former Nordstrom Menswear salesman Bruce from Columbus, Ohio.  How, you ask, are you having lunch with your former Nordstrom salesman, his wife, and her father?  That is a story for another day.    Before our “tribulations” he and his wife Judi stayed at our Florida cottage when they visited Herman on several occasions.   During the last few years of my crazy life, Bruce called to check in every few months, even after he left Nordstrom.   Sometimes I could not return his calls as I was in the throes of a crisis; no matter, he did not stop trying.  Now that I am living in the Florida cottage with four animals and a teenager, hosting Bruce and Judi was not an option, so lunch it was.

A few years ago, as a gift for sharing our home, Bruce and Judi gave me one of Herman’s Jesus signs.  This is what the sign looks like up close:




This is what the sign looks like from a distance:




Bruce and Judi, who also visited with my parents and in-laws, also gave each family one of these signs.  It was this sign that greeted me at the dermatologist’s office on Valentine’s Day, the one month anniversary of my mother’s passing.   When my mother died, my youngest sister, MCV asked how she could get her hands on one of those signs.  My parents’ sign sits on a roll top desk by the front door, monitoring the comings and goings of all.  I called Bruce and he personally delivered two (one for each sister) to my snowy back porch in Ohio.  (Polly Positive whisked them inside and I eventually mailed them on).

Back to Herman.  You can watch an interview of him here.

As mentioned in the interview, Herman had several careers:  Police officer in the Bronx, firefighter, sheet metal machinist.  As a police officer, Herman delivered two babies.  It is evident that Herman is good with his hands.  At age 92, Herman developed “the tremors” in his right hand.  This has not stopped him from producing four signs a day, the production of which is a story in itself.

Today, since it is Memorial Day, we honor the part of Herman’s life path that was a sheet metal repairman in the U.S. Navy during World War Two in the Pacific Theater.  Assigned to a repair ship, he and his fellow sailors stayed behind the lines and repaired ships damaged in battle, preparing them to go back in.   One day, as Herman was on the deck of his ship, the small ship next to him exploded, killing all fifty US sailors aboard.  The Navy does not know what caused the explosion:  A mini Japanese submarine, an internal situation, who knows?  A mystery in the line of combat.  Herman did not die in combat but he watched others who did and it those young men on that ship that we honor today.

Bruce, Judi, and Herman brought me two more Jesus signs on Friday.  One is sitting in our  Florida cottage – our original one is either in Arkansas or in storage in Ohio.  The other is being sent to a former policeman in Washington who is suffering from cancer.   I had the temerity to ask for more and they gave me three more from the stash in the trunk of their car.   Even Urban Meyer has one in his home.  I had not yet seen the interview wherein Herman states he would like his children to pass them out to those who attend his funeral.  If that is the case, Herman cannot stop making Jesus signs for a long time.  It will be a big party.  His 95th is already inked in on my calendar.  If you NEED one of Herman’s signs, I will inquire however, as to their availability.  They are not for sale – they are freely given.

In closing, I leave you with the words from verse 2 of hymn 719 in the Book of Common Prayer.  Written by Katherine Lee Bates, O Beautiful for Spacious Skies, the music is set to Materna by Samuel Augustus Ward:

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife

who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!

America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law!”


So today, fly your flag in honor of the fallen, cherish your liberty, enjoy a meal with your family, friend, or stranger, and give thanks that although flawed, America is still beautiful thanks to those who gave their lives for us.








Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Folkart, Friends, Holidays, Life, People, Religion

Smooth Criminal or Just Plain Bad?

Dear Readers,

You have been SO KIND.  THANK YOU.

In today’s politically correct, frequently absurd climate, laughter is the only antidote.  So I pray you will take these family photos in the spirit in which they are offered and just marvel.

Before there was Michael Jackson, there was Sally Calligan.

Here is a photo from our 1971 Christmas card photo shoot:


Compare and contrast with the photo of MJ and Blanket below:


Next we have a classic underage drinking photo.  Note MoodRingMomma enjoying her first (?) sip of Coors:



Finally, we have a photo from the 1979? Arcata Halloween Parade.  An annual event, citizens of Arcata, California  lawfully assembled and flew their freak flags in honor of the pagan holiday.  I present to you my younger sisters, MCV and MoodRingMomma, as dreaded fruit flies.  In the late Seventies and Early Eighties, California experienced a Medfly infestation. Northbound travelers on Highway 101 were stopped at the Oregon border for inspections.  Woe to the one with the banana!  Talk about your stop and fruit frisk!  Today an errant strawberry would be granted in-state tuition but back in the day it was swiftly deported.


What is particularly endangering about this photo?  The homemade costumes complete with shower caps?  The cheery pests?  Or, the open tailgate???

MCV asked me last night, after I texted her the photo, why no one had advocated on her behalf.  Who, exactly, was on duty?  Who was to save her from the weirdness?

My reply:  “This was Humboldt County in the Seventies.  Pretty much no one was on duty.  And in the scheme of things, this was just edgy, not weird.  Certainly not out of place.”

Notice:  I am not in evidence.

I would also like to point out that, with the exception of the beer, all of the ideas were Sally’s.  This, frankly, is just the tip of the ice berg.

So, was The Radish a Smooth Criminal or merely just Bad?  Listen to Michael Jackson and decide for yourself.  Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.













Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, People, Travel

Lorica of St. Patrick


Today my father is 78.25.   He is officially older than my mother.  This is bittersweet.   Tonight we are going to REJOICE!  My mother would be shouting HALLELUJAH (even though it is Lent).  Traditionally, we break all fasts for St. Patrick’s Day, paying homage to the great British/Irish Saint and our family heritage.

You know there will be no cruciferous vegetables on the menu, no traditional stinky cabbage.  I won’t go that far.  My dad is making soda bread and corned beef. Ta da!  Can you believe??? If you don’t know how to make corned beef, click here for Sally’s crazy easy corned beef recipe from 11 (!) years ago!  Slante!  We will be toasting my mother even as we mourn her absence.  A mini Irish wake.  One of my favorite trips with my parents was several years ago for Spring Break in Dublin.

My sister MCV sent me a gift this week, a CD  entitled Inheritance by a singer named Audrey Assad.  In reading the liner notes to Be Thou My Vision, I noticed that it is sung to an Irish tune.  According to some sources, the words of the hymn are attributable to St. Patrick. I researched other Irish melodies in the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal and came across what is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, also known as a lorica.  A lorica was literally a piece of body armor in Roman times; it is also referred to as a chanted prayer of protection.  Both guard the heart.

For your listening pleasure tonight I recommend starting out with Audrey Assad‘s lyrical Be Thou My Vision, moving on to St. Patrick’s Breastplate by Trinity Music and Marty Reardon.  Finish up with Cooley’s Reel and Whiskey in the Jar by The Dubliners before downing your decaf Irish coffee.   When it is time for bed, sing Danny Boy and let the tears flow.  REJOICE.

My little Ireland (Thing 3) arrives tomorrow for Spring Break.  I’ll be invoking St. Patrick to make sure she gets here safely.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Life, Religion

Circa 2011


thumbnail_Sallie at Glorias 2.jpg


This is a photo of Sally taken in December of 2011 at our old neighbor GloPat’s. (I am not exactly sure what is going on with Sally’s hands in the photo.)   GloPat is the Original Expat Princess.  She encouraged me to move to Mexico even though it meant moving away from her.  She is one of my heroes.  Today we took this Tough Cookie to lunch.  Stories to follow tomorrow – they are the best.  GloPat made the Christmas ornaments that are hanging from the chandelier and painted all the watercolors in the background.  She is a member of the highly acclaimed National Watercolor Society.  My mother always loved visiting GloPat.


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Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays, Life, People, Spanish vocabulary

Persian Aversion: An Ode to Martha


One of the oddities not mentioned in the After Your Heart Surgery brochure that a hospital gives a patient and their family before going home is that the patient will become a Food Diva.  If they were a Food Diva before the surgery, this aspect of their personality will become heightened, exacerbated, enlarged, inflated.  Once the pain is over and the patient returns home, small portions of any food not resembling hospital food will be requested.  This is natural.  But “requested”, perhaps, is too gentle a word.  Strongly suggested?   The very thing the caregiver is suggested to make, however, will offend the patient’s also heightened olfactory senses.  Chex Mix (TM) can send a patient into paroxysms of disgust.  Crockpot pork shoulder, lovingly rubbed with chili, garlic, salt, and cumin, can send a patient over the edge.  Who knew?

If one is not a natural born cook yet finds them self in a primary caregiver role to a Food Diva, this is a bitter pill to swallow.   Where does it say I have to be Alice Waters, Julia Childs, or Ashley Rodriguez?  To the patient whose primary love language is Acts of Service – The Provisioning of Healthy Meals to Your Family – to find oneself in the clutches of a merely serviceable cook of a caregiver is to find oneself gazing about the ramparts of the pits of hell.  Some snarky, possibly overtly aggressive, comments about pizza and the frequency with which it is consumed, just might be uttered by the patient: “You just keep eating your pizza.”  Food shaming at its best!

MoodRingMomma and I were at our collective caregiving wits’ end the other night.  I suggested to our mother that we could eat either a) crock potted chicken thighs in green salsa from her own website or b) Stromboli from the Italian restaurant a stone’s throw away.  MoodRingMomma added that she was willing to cook c) chicken curry.  A veritable smorgasbord of options, with a green salad on the side!

But no, The Radish wanted effing ground lamb kebabs on flatbread with roasted tomatoes from Naomi Duguid‘s cookbook Persia.  No matter that we did not have the skewers the recipe required, a grill, or ground lamb.  Hamburger would do, mixed in with the grated onion, mashed into pasty little sliders by my very own dish pan hands, and cooked on the pancake griddle.

I later commented that really, this very labor intensive  dish, was a Persian version of a poor Greek’s gyro, one we could probably get as take out.   I felt it needed some tzatziki but all agreed that the sumac spice was essential (this, of course, we had on hand).  Nonetheless, the Radish was pleased with the outcome and the smell did not offend.  She enjoyed watching MoodRingMomma cry over grating the onions and me mashing the meat paste into “kebabs”.   There was no sitting at the feet of Jesus for these sisters.

It was shortly after this that I had a hissy fit on the phone with my other sister MCVwasHere, during which I explained that everyday with a heart surgery patient is like being on a roller coaster.  Up one hour, down the next, with loop de loops, hanging upside down for extended periods.  This is no reflection on the heart surgery patient.  It is the nature of the beast. But no doctor tells you this beforehand, of course.  A heart surgeon touches your body exactly twice: once to cut on you for 4-5 hours and then again to remove the staples, and maybe then he or she  might even make a different healthcare worker do that nasty bit of business.

My ten year old nephew, overhearing the conversation, piped up and said,

“Wait!  You’re on a roller coaster????”

Like we were whooping it up on vacation at DisneyWorld.  It still makes me laugh hard.

Sometimes life demands that a Martha show up instead of a Mary.  Marthas get sh*t done.  Martha would not have hesitated to wipe up the blood and crust from the wounds of Jesus but she might have been resentful that she had to unload the dishwasher and milk the yak too. I am not so sure that That Other Mary would have been up to the task, something I will inquire about in my personal one-on-one conversation on the other side.  For today, Sweet Jesus, let me make it to Christmas.  At least there have been no poopy diapers.


Shopping Suggestions:  you are cutting it close, shoppers.  I think you can still order Naomi Duguid’s books Persia or Burma, which are part travelogue, part stellar photography, and part recipes.  Even if you never cook from them, they are beautiful books.  Alternatively, order some baklava from  I like to think Martha served both Jesus and her sister a piece.  YUM!!!!








Filed under Domesticity, Family, Fine Dining, Holidays, Life, Misunderstandings, Reading, Religion, Sightseeing

Signs and Wonders



Do you think God can speak to you through license plates?  I do.  But only if you are paying attention.   (I refer you to my previous post on my other license plate signs here).

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I took Thing 3 to the barber for a haircut.  Bill the Barber is a story unto himself, which I will save for another day.

When leaving his salon, a generous word for his work space, Thing 3 and I headed to the Mexican ice cream shop in town,  Delicias Michoacanas.  They make the most excellent ice cream with intriguing flavors. I was not going to try the corn, but was hoping they had rose petal.

As we were pulling away from the curb, I saw a license plate that said:


“Look, Thing 3.  That’s probably a lawyer.”

“Or a shrink,” she replied.

“Or maybe the Holy Spirit.  That’s another name for it,”  I said.

Fifteen minutes later, waffle cones dripping with coconut and coffee ice cream, we saw another license plate.


“Wow, Mom.  Maybe you should finally start your law career.”

“I’m not sure that’s what that means.  But now that we’ve seen two license plates, you know there has to be a third.”

On we drove to the  AT&T store, mentioned in last week’s post.  These signs were occurring at the same time as the Unconscious Coupling.  As we were walking into the store there was this one:


“Hmmm.  Well, that’s the third plate but I don’t know what it means.”  Am I too busy? Yes, due to events beyond my control.  But normally, I try to pace myself and leave space in my calendar for things that come up, such as lunch with a friend, a heart surgery, or moving a household.  You know, the little things.  This is easier for me than, say, my sisters as my nest is now empty and I don’t have an income producing job.

As we got in the car, Thing 3 said to me, “I think you really might need to reconsider the law thing.”

No sooner had she spoken those words than a car bearing this plate drove by:


I do not make this up.

I had a witness.

I will not be practicing law.

I did, however, finish all my Continuing Legal Education, so I will be renewing my law license, to what purpose, I have no idea.  I am already WAY2BZY to figure anything else out.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?

Shopping suggestion:  Mexican ice cream or my seasonal favorite, candy cane!  It won’t melt as fast if you are living in an area affected by the Polar Vortex.


















As I mentioned in a previous post, the Holy Spirit was popping during Thanksgiving Weekend.


Filed under Fine Dining, Holidays, Life, Religion, Shopping

Mary, Did You Know?

I just got a tingle all the way to my scalp after I watched this YouTube video by Peter Hollens.  This is what heaven sounds like.   I believe this video was filmed in the church in which Raftbuddy was married.  Peter Hollens, a fellow Duck,  is from Eugene, Oregon.  You can read his biography here.

Shopping suggestion:  Duh.  His signed CD!  I NEED  ONE!  Click here to buy!



Filed under Holidays, Life