March 1, 2022


I had given up hope that my cat would return.  

Ozzie escaped on a frosty November night.  A week later, I wrote this poem to come to terms with his death.     


That's the way it's meant to be

you and me

and the silver moon

and open doors with scents galore


'til now.

That's the way it's meant to be.

You left me for wooded fields

and starry nights of winter chill

to roam the verdant virgin hills.

Bed you down safe and sound

gather round angels

to bring you home 

and keep you bound in peace.  

No longer by my side, 

you padded off with Nature's guide 

to wooded fields 

and verdant hills,  

for that's the way it's meant to be. 



Near the end of January, a couple found a stray hiding in the bushes by their home.  He was crying.  He was starving.  They took him in, fed him, and then posted his picture on Next Door.  

A neighbor called me to say she had seen a post of a cat that might be Ozzie.    
With a little detective work, my husband and I were able to find the people who rescued the stray.  Down in their basement was skinny cat that could barely meow, that could barely lift his head.  He had two different colored eyes.  They had saved Ozzie.   

Ozzie had travelled to the outskirts of our neighborhood.  He braved snow and predators and single digit temperatures.  He had been missing for two months. 

With the guidance of angels and the kindness of strangers, we have been reunited.

Je suis reconnaissant (I am grateful)

Exhausted, but happy to be home.

February 1, 2022


I grieve for my pet.    

On a frosty November night, our beloved cat Ozzie ran away.  The basement door was ajar and he slipped outside.  It's been months since he's disappeared.   

Ozzie was always intrigued with the outside world.  He'd attempt to sneak out whenever we opened the deck or patio doors.  He'd push against the screen door trying to tear through it.   

A few months before his departure, he'd hop up to a table and stare longingly through a window at the backyard.  I thought he might be watching for opossums, raccoons, or stray cats.  Perhaps, he was pining to be outside and planning his escape.     

Two years ago, he got outside through the basement door that led into the garage.  When we discovered he was missing, we searched the garage, our yard, and the neighborhood.  Ozzie reappeared in the garage about four hours later. 

Since that day, I bought a tag for his collar which was engraved:  Ozzie.  I'm an indoor cat.  I don't belong outside.  Please call my mom.   

But the tag didn't help.  Ozzie is still missing.  

Here's what I think could have happened:  
  • Ozzie may have appeared at someone's doorstep without his collar (it was a breakaway collar that may have been snapped open) and taken in, appearing as a friendly stray.  If he was adopted, the good-hearted neighbor may not have given any thought to having his microchip read, which would reunited him with us.      
  • Ozzie may have been sick and traveled to the woods beyond our backyard to find a place to die.  He had been sleeping a bit more than normal and he wasn't as social as he had been.  Cats hide their illnesses and Ozzie may have been concealing the fact that his health was failing. 
  • Ozzie may have been lured by curiosity and gotten lost.
  • A predator may have found Ozzie.

I believe if Ozzie wanted to, he could have come back the night he escaped.  The door had been open for several hours.  It was cold outside and the terrain beyond our property was unfamiliar.  Occasionally, I had taken him out with a vest and leash to enjoy the backyard.  I think he would have recognized the difference in the smells of our yard and the area beyond.  

A week after Ozzie's escape, my husband and I went to the Humane Society hoping to find him, but no one had brought Ozzie to the shelter.  While we were there, we played with some kittens that were up for adoption.  One of the little bitty cats let me hold her in my lap without squirming.  What were the chances on that day we'd find a kitten with the same name as our daughter?

We adopted Abby, but renamed her Lizzie (a double z in honor of Ozzie.)  Several days later when I took Lizzie to our veterinarian, I told him about Ozzie's disappearance.  Dr. Vice had taken care of Ozzie for seven years.  As he gave Lizzie a rabies shot, he said that no other cat will replace Ozzie.  He said, "Now you have Lizzie and she will have her own story."

I miss Ozzie.  I may never get over losing him.  He was my bud.  I hear stories about pets finding their way back home months after they've disappeared.  So, Ozzie may return and have a baby sister.  But for now, my life is different and I have to deal with the devastating loss and the crushing heartbreak.    

I stroke Lizzie's little face and rub her furry belly and ask, "Lizzie, do you know where Ozzie can be?"  She looks at me tenderly, as if pondering his whereabouts, as if she knows.  Then I ask her one more question:  "Lizzie, with what will your story be?"

Ozzie me manque  

January 1, 2022

                                                                                                                                                    Ozzie has table privileges


Written before Ozzie escaped on Thanksgiving night. 

He has not returned.

I spoil our cat Ozzie.  Ollie (our first cat) died from kidney disease when he was only eight-years-old and the loss was so devastating that I go out of my way to indulge Ozzie.      

My sweet boy gets to eat a dish of dry kibbles and a dish of meaty wet food—yes, he has two food bowls.  And he gets to eat whenever he wants, which is throughout the day.  If I'm in the kitchen he waits by his tray.  He's got me pegged.  I fill both of them for him before I have a bite to eat.

When he's finished, he gets to watch the birds.  In the summer, I open the kitchen door for him and Ozzie lies against the screen, soaking in the sun.  He enjoys the variety of the birds that come to the feeders:  cardinals, wrens, woodpeckers, goldfinches, doves, chickadees, titmice, sometimes a rose-breasted grosbeak and hummingbirds.  If he's lucky, he gets to say hello to Putty, a stray cat we care for who frequents the deck for food.

In the mornings, Ozzie usually lies behind the computer screen.  I slide the keyboard to the front edge of the desk so he has plenty of room to stretch out and listen to bird-singing Youtube videos as I work.  

After lunch, Ozzie gets to nap on the guest room bed.  I give him a chin and belly rub before his eyelids get heavy. 

Then late afternoon when he awakens, he gets a dish of wet food—served in bed.

At supper time and before we have dinner, Ozzie gets two more dishes of food.  Then he jumps to the kitchen table and he gets to lounge on a place mat at the end of the table.  He's not reprimanded.  My husband and I know it's useless.  Most of the time, he naps unless he is intrigued by the food on our plates.

During the evening when I'm watching television or reading, he gets to make muffins on my lap. I don't move until he's tuckered out. 

After that, we may rough house.  He gets to swat at my arm.  He gets to gently bite my hand and clench it in his mouth.  When it's bedtime, he gets to curl up by my feet or on my pillow.

The only things he doesn't get to do is walk across the stove and sneak outside, both for reasons of safety.  And he doesn't get to body slam against a closed door—it's uncalled for and annoying.  But overall, Ozzie Mrvos has it made.  He gets lots of love and attention.  From I can tell, he shows his gratitude by butting his head against my hand.     

Without a doubt, I pamper Ozzie.  He gets table privileges.  He gets to watch birds, live or on video and so much more.  Is he spoiled?  Perhaps.  Do I mind?  Not one bit.  

Anything for my sweet boy. 

Ozzie me manque  

December 1, 2021


One of my favorite movies is The Hangover.  You know the film about four friends who drive to Las Vegas for a wild and memorable stag party.  

My sister (who thinks I have dignified taste) was aghast.  She told her husband, "My sister L-I-K-E-S  The Hangover."  And she said this like the line from Home Alone: "I made my family disappear!"

Come on.  What's not to like about The Hangover?  Bradley Cooper is easy on the eyes. Zack Galifianakis is hilarious.    

And then there's Ken Jeong.  And he may be the main reason why I love this movie.  He is over-the-top outrageous.    

Ken Jeong plays a Chinese mobster Leslie Chow who pops out of the trunk of a car and goes ape-shit, wielding a crowbar and demanding the return of his money.  Originally, this scene did not call for him to be naked.  Ken asked permission to show some skin.  Lots of skin.  In baring all, Jeong makes this violent scene well, less violent and more hilarious.  

You can imagine how excited I felt when Ken Jeong was announced as the key-note speaker at Duke's commencement, an event my husband and I would be attending.  Our daughter graduated from Duke in 2020, but commencement was put on hold due to Covid.  Sixteen months later on September 26, the Class of 2020 would have a special celebration to honor their accomplishments. 


On the day of commencement, my husband and I arrived an hour before the ceremony to get a good seat.  At 9:00 sharp, "Pomp and Circumstance" stirred everyone to their feet as the procession of graduates, faculty, and administration filed into the quad.  We were happily surprised that so many graduates returned to campus.  We were thrilled to see so many relatives present to honor the graduates. 

After a lyrical benediction by Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, a touching speech by student Maghana Sai Iragavarapu and the awarding of degrees, Duke President Vincent Price introduced Ken Jeong, class of 1990.  

Jeong began with a raucous cheer.  "DR. KEN HAS COME BACK HOME!"  Then his mood became emotional.  Wiping away a few tears, he told the graduates, "Whatever you need.  I'm here for you."

He touched on growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina and dreaming to go to Duke.  He revealed an amazing fact.  He said, "I didn't want to be an actor.  I was here to be pre-med at Duke."  

During his 2nd year in college, he took an introduction to acting class that changed his life.  He had never taken any theatre classes.  He said, "I was overcome with passion, and the emotion to perform has never been extinguished." 

After sharing memories of his college days, Ken Jeong wrapped up with a powerful message:

"Live your passions.  Love one another.  Find your identity.  Find your flow in life.  That's all we need. To find our ourselves."  He went on to say, "Don't deny your potential.  Never sell yourself short.  You never know what you will achieve.  Capitalize on your own uniqueness." 

He may have been speaking to the graduates, but it felt as if his words were aimed at everyone seated in the quad.  I was focused, soaking in his presence and intent on the speech.  

While he spoke, The Hangover never entered my mind.  Now it's a given I'll be watching the movie again, though with a better appreciation of Ken Jeong.  Sure, I'll be laughing at his portrayal of Leslie Chow, but I will look beyond this crazy naked criminal to a man who didn't plan on being an actor.  I will see a Blue Devil who opened his heart, a father who followed his passions and a man who encouraged others to follow their dreams.      

 À la prochaine! 

Click on the link to enjoy Ken Jeong's speech.

November 1, 2021

                                                                                                                                          Photo by Brett Jordan

It's not often a neighbor hurts my feelings.  

But this summer when I went door to door distributing flyers on behalf of the neighborhood association, I was caught off guard by an angry resident; and to this day, I wonder if the situation could have been handled better.  

I volunteer as secretary on the neighborhood association board.  We have an outstanding team composed of five people who donate their time to represent our neighborhood. 

This summer, we began the annual membership drive.  Dues are not outrageous and yet out of the 400 households, only 100 of them join.  The board decided that if we passed out flyers, more people might be interested.  We felt that if we went door to door, we could inform neighbors about the benefits of joining the association plus remind them about our Facebook page.  On Facebook, members can post news that concerns our neighborhood, sell items, alert others about missing pets, or even offer veggies grown in their gardens. 

I got up early one Saturday morning in June to walk up and down my street and the adjoining streets to pass out about the flyers.  The day was hot, overcast, and misty.  My tee shirt clung to my skin and my hair got damp and frizzy (those who know me would tell you that I'm not fond of muggy weather.) 

I gathered a red marker, masking tape, and the fliers.  I wasn't feeling great.  My hip was sore (later I found out it was due to sciatica).  I felt every step.  Still, this was my assignment and I tried not to think too much about the pain.

For about an hour and a half, I taped flyers to the brickwork or to the windows that flanked the front doors, mindful to avoid delicate surfaces.  I personalized some flyers and gave those to the neighbors I knew well.  All was going smoothly and I was heading back down our street when a man yelled, "HEY, DON'T YOU EVER TAPE ANYTHING TO MY HOUSE AGAIN." 

I was taken aback.  I responded, "These flyers are about the neighborhood association and I was careful not to use tape that would harm your house."

And then, Mr. Grumpy Neighbor lashed out again.  I could see this was a losing argument.  He was pissed off.  There was nothing that could have been said to calm him down.  I walked away quickly and finished my task all the time feeling bruised by his words. 

When I look back on this unfortunate event, I wonder why he couldn't have said something nicer like, "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't tape anything to my house."  It's all in how we choose our words that can make the difference in how are feelings are expressed and how language is interpreted by others.  

It still makes me sad every time I walk by the angry man's house.  The ugly words seem to hang in the air.  Then I wonder if I should have handled it differently, been more assertive, gotten in his face and stood my ground.   

But my gut tells me I acted properly.  Mr. Grumpy Neighbor didn't deserve my time.  I have more dignity than getting into a heated discussion, especially with someone who probably didn't care what I had to say.  Though he hurt my feelings, I repeated my mantra:  Don't engage.  Don't engage.  And this always serves me well.  Especially when someone uses nothing but angry words. 

 À la prochaine! 

October 1, 2021

mountain cabin, West Virginia
 This is what our mountain-top vacation cabin is supposed to look like on a sunny day.


I am not a go-live-on-the-top-of-a-mountain kind of woman.

This was never more apparent to me than after spending four rainy days in the hills of West Virginia with our daughter, her roommate and her roommate's family, the Browns.

My husband and I didn't realize we'd need an SUV with four-wheel drive to get to the cabin.  We were driving a Honda Accord.  About one fourth of the way up the mountain, the bottom of our car scraped the stony road and we got wedged in the middle of nowhere without good cell-phone reception.  Luckily, we had texted the Browns our arrival time.  They met us (in a SUV with four-wheel drive) and helped us ease our car off the rocks.  With their guidance, we were able to turn around so we could head back down the mountain.     

Once we found a level, grassy place to park our car, the Browns informed us they had to go into town to get gasoline.  You see, taking us to the cabin would take 15 minutes up and 15 minutes back down for them.  As they drove away, my husband decided to walk up part of the mountain and ask a neighbor if it was okay to leave our car on their property.  And during this time, I am sitting alone in the car feeling uncomfortably abandoned.  All I had was a cell phone (with spotty reception).  My brain was racing with scary thoughts:  what if a local came out with a gun (not unheard of in Appalachia) or what if a bear spotted me?  What if a bear spotted my husband?  He was taking a ridiculously long time.  The sad thing was, during this time alone I could not take in the beauty of the scenery.  It's odd how worry can be overwhelming.  I sat by myself for what seemed the longest fifteen minutes of my life.

The backyard view from our cabin.
Finally, when my husband showed up and the Brown's returned, we began the arduous, bumpy journey up the mountain.  As we inched up the incline, ever-so-slowly at a snail's pace, trying to avoid deep ruts and huge rocks, it suddenly became apparent to my husband and I that we were going to be totally dependent on the Brown's to travel up and down the mountain, unless we wanted to walk one and half miles down a steep jagged road to our car.  And so, we felt somewhat trapped, held captive by the mountain so to speak.  God forbid there would be an emergency.  Or we should run out of wine.

When we arrived at the cabin, we found it to be spacious and comfortable with views of the surrounding hills enshrouded in clouds.  But half-way into our mini-vacation, I realized being in the mountains of West Virginia was not for me.  I wasn't stoked about campfires and having smoke permeate my clothing.  I wasn't crazy about hiking and having mud cling to my hiking boots.  I wasn't thrilled about mice and having them gnaw in the bedroom throughout the night.

Blackwater Falls, WV
This may sound like I'm giving the entire experience a bad rep, but I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to experience living in the Appalachian Mountains, having delightful company, and enjoying outstanding meals.  I had fun riding horses through the valleys and forests of W.V. and hiking (on a paved path) to Blackwater Falls.  I loved listening to the thrushes calling out from the forest at night.  But being isolated on top of a mountain brought new appreciation of living in the suburbs. 

Never again will I take for granted that I can drive to the grocery or gas station in less than five minutes and get to the house on a smooth street that takes me directly to the front door without having to negotiate a steep incline, driving over rocks the size of small boulders, or getting stuck in ruts.  I will never take for granted smoke-free clothing or clean hiking boots.  Most importantly, I will never take for granted that I can go to bed peacefully, without ever once having to set a mousetrap at the foot of my bed.  

I admire those hardy souls who can adapt so easily to a wilderness environment.  I'm not that flexible.  Being in a cabin on the tip-top of the world is fine for a few days.  But four days on a mountain is the limit for this city-dwelling gal.  

À la prochaine! 

September 1, 2021

putting on makeup for a photo shoot, REAL ID


I got all duded-up to have my picture taken—not for a book cover or for a newspaper story, but for a REAL ID.  You laugh, but I aimed to have a good picture taken because all of my driver's license photos have been atrocious.  In fact, I dislike my photo so much I hide my driver's license in the back of my wallet behind the credit cards. 

The day of the photo shoot was in July, which for Kentucky usually means the weather will be hot and sunny.  Perfect!  But on the day of our appointment, the forecast was for rain.  And that meant I had to battle the frizzies.  I used a hair dryer to flatten my bangs, applied a generous amount of hair spray, and then covered my bangs with hair gel to prevent them from curling up and making me look like a four-year-old child.    

That was just the start.  My makeup had to look fresh and natural.  After applying a firming dry oil to my neck, a light layer of moisturizer to my cheeks and under my eyes, I reached for the liquid liner for my upper eyelids and used a pencil liner for the bottom lids.  Then, I brushed on a neutral matte eyeshadow and a little mascara.    

When my eyes were finished, I applied a creamy foundation and brushed on a powder blush to the tops of my cheekbones and a bit on my chin.  I lined my lips and then used a wine-red base color and went over that color with a little magenta, which complements the rosy blush.   

You'd think with all of the makeup I'd be good to go, but there were flaws to cover up like the freckles on my nose and the circles under my eyes.  (I've been taking Vitamin K which is supposed to help dark rings...and I'm still waiting to see the benefits.)  So, I reached for my favorite product: concealers.  Yes, plural.  I blended the two together and applied this mixture lightly under my eyes and down the center of my nose.  

I scrutinized my makeup and lo and behold, the skin under my eyes now looked puffy.  I had to put on extra eye correction cream and more concealer.  Finally, all looked good.  I selected a black top to wear because I photograph better in dark colors.  And I was set to go...

The bangs are cooperating
except when my husband and I drove to the Lexington Regional Driver's Licensing Office, we couldn't find the place.  We bypassed it twice and needed to use Google Maps to direct us.  By now we are running late for our appointment and when we arrived there were no parking places.  Mind you, there were plenty of reserved spaces (all empty).  We drove to an adjacent lot where signs read FOR EMPLOYEES ONLY.  Screw that.   

And the moment I stepped out of the car, the wind began to pick up and the air got humid and all I could think about was getting inside quickly so my hair wouldn't frizz and my bangs wouldn't curl.  We dashed inside just in time.  The skies let loose and rain came pouring down.  

Once inside, the receptionist asked our names and appointment time.  Then she directed us to have a seat.  Man, oh man, the room was packed. No one was wearing a mask.  I assumed everyone was vaccinated, but who would know?  No one asked if we had COVID symptoms.  I squirmed in my chair.  I was unaccustomed to being close to other people.  Even though my husband and I were vaccinated, we tried to socially-distance ourselves.  I had brought a mask, but I had no plans to wear it (I know, stupid and vain)—nothing was going to ruin my make-up.

We waited and waited, even with an appointment.  In the meantime, we watched more people file in.  Most of them didn't have appointments.  To my surprise, in the time we waited (30 minutes) only one gentleman caused a bit of a ruckus.  We all heard his story:  he hadn't made an appointment, but he worked 70 hours a week and had used a vacation day to renew his license.  You could honestly say the entire room felt sorry for him.  The receptionist must have been in a good mood.  She gave him a time later in the day. 

After twenty-five minutes of waiting, I was dying to go to the bathroom.  Damn my bladder.  I tried not to think about going and patiently waited.  Five minutes later, our names were called.  As we stood in line, I slipped into the bathroom (thank goodness it was close by).  We only have to wait a little bit longer to get this show started.    

We were directed to a booth and asked to present our driver's licenses, passports, proof of address and social security numbers.  Then, we answered the required questions.  Finally, finally the pictures were taken.  My husband's photo turned out reasonably well.  I didn't have the heart to look at mine until we got back into the car.   

And the results?  THE best driver's license picture I've ever taken—and I've been driving for 50 years. Maybe it was luck, or maybe it was my make-up.  I was shocked.  This picture was flattering.  It's kind of a shame it will rarely be seen.  But the good news it won't relegated to a place behind the credit cards.  It has earned a better spot.  Breaking tradition, it will go where it rightfully belongs—facing outward at the front of the wallet. 

À la prochaine!