Monday, March 30, 2015


Just when I get to a day where I don't cry every time I talk about him, something sets me off.  Honestly, I think this will just go on and on.  It doesn't happen as often as it used to, so I guess I'm not totally bonkers.  So I'm not going to even try to stop crying.  It's part of the process ... I will do.

When Mr. Ralph died two years ago, rather than a wake, or funeral, or donations, or flowers ... I asked that our family and friends simply plant a red flower in his memory.  He loved bright flowers of any kind.  I prefer white and greenery.  We had to take turns planning the scheme for putting out annuals every summer since it was hard to compromise!
He fell in love with red flowers in particular on a trip to Italy many moons ago. They happened to be geraniums and bougainvillea.  Geraniums in window boxes and the bougainvillea around fences and walls.  Stunning to drive by.

Today I planted a huge black pot with red flowers.  A tall red salvia (hot lips), some geraniums, some petunias and a New Zealand impatiens.  Probably way too much but I just needed some instant gratification.  I’ll take a photo in a week or so to share.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Thursday was the first outing of Adventures R Us.

My neighbor and new found friend, Julie, is also a widow and new to living in Maui.  She and her hubby vacationed here and did live here for a few years about 15 years ago.

We seem to enjoy the same kinds of things so we get together about once a week.  After talking, we both love exploring new things and places yet don't always want to drive alone.  So we teamed up!  

She got to pick the first trip and she also did the driving.  We had so much fun!  She drove up the crater to the town of Kula.  First stop was a photo op of the famous jacaranda tree in bloom!  Then we visited the well known garden shop at True Value.  (She has just finished indoor remodeling, and now is looking forward to setting up the outdoors!)  We looked at plants and fountains and furniture and got a million ideas.

We went over to the Morihara General Store hoping for cool local items but mostly it is a small mom and pop grocery for the locals.  Lunch was at Kula Bistro and it was fabulous!  Too much food for lunch but mine was salad with grilled monchong on top.  The desserts were inviting but I wanted to wait and have coffee and a treat later in our day.

Julie had taken her dog to obedience training and knew of a little glass blower.  It was stunning even though totally out of my price range.  Such beauty to behold.  And their view captured both sides of the island.  Further down the road about ten miles, we drove past Oprah's house.  She certainly has a gorgeous peaceful location in the middle of nowhere.

Maui has one winery that sits on the most scenic grounds.  We did some tasting, some browsing and a bit of buying.  

We ended our day at Grandma's Coffee Shop for cheesecake and coffee.  It is just a little hole in the wall that has been open for generations. All homemade breakfast, lunch and desserts.  Recently they began to offer gourmet dinners.  they have such a nice reputation all the Food Network people always made a stop!  Lots of photos of famous people.

We chatted the entire 45 minute drive home.  A great beginning to our new "club".

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Velveteen Principle #5

Velveteen Principle #5 : Real is Courageous
      acknowledge your fears and move forward, even if you’re still afraid

For my widow friends, we already are working at moving forward even though we are afraid.  It's a whole different world without our sidekicks.  The first year I was intimidated by everything ... even things that would have been a breeze the year before.  I was afraid I couldn't do it alone.  That I would make bad financial decisions (some may say that I really am!!! Keeping this Maui house ....).  Maybe I would become a hermit because I couldn't even think about Mr. Ralph without crying.

My widow neighbor friend has helped me out a lot.  Nancy has been a widow for 8 years, is ten years older than me and still has those days.  She has invested her time into changing herself ... physically and mentally.  She is a breast cancer survivor.  Actually a breast cancer thrivor!  She joined a medical weight loss program and lost over 100 lbs.  She continues to be strict with her eating and exercising.  She has learned how to understand her finances (he did everything!) and to be firm with her four sons who continually hound her for money.

Real IS courageous.  I'm still working the program ...

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Yesterday was a pretty amazing day....universally speaking.  A total solar eclipse, a supermoon, and the vernal equinox.  Spring has sprung.  My blog can not do any of these events justice  ... 

I do love how Mother Nature keeps astounding me with amazing events.  Now I have time to learn a bit about them and often take time to watch when I am able.  When Maui has clear skies, it is awesome to be outside and simply look up.  We get to see planets as well as stars.  With my free app Night Star, I can be directed toward satellites as well.  There's even an app that will identify the planes!

Friday was just a day to enjoy my surroundings.

A gardenia from my front yard ...

Ground cover at my Maui house

This photo doesn't show it well at all ... this is a pale lilac rose in a neighbor's yard

A bouquet from Costco

In memory of Mr. Ralph ... I will always have a red geranium

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Velveteen Principle #4 : Real is Empathetic
          the ability to really hear another person’s point of view

Empathetic.  People who have this trait make very good friends.  I'm lucky to have many.  An empathetic person is someone who can share another person's feelings. If you tell an empathetic person that your heart is broken, she might touch her own heart as she listens.  

My daughter is very good at this.  Especially now that she is on the rainbow side of the tunnel.  We are both fortunate that she got such great therapy over the years.  She is capable of interpreting her feelings and using a calm voice to tell me about them.  Plus she is so understanding of my feelings.  Kinda of a very nice relationship.  She is making me better at these things as well!  Who knows!  She could BE a therapist!  I wish she would.

She applies these conversation starters with her family.  Braeden is four and a half and she has taught him to verbalize his emotions.  Right now he's going through a dramatic phase (I am so angry with you that you are not my brother any more) yet she is able to first empathise with him (I can see you are MAD at your brother for taking your army guy), and then explain (again) all toys on the floor within the "baby jail" are fair game.  Next she offers him two choices ... do you want to take your toys and play somewhere else?  Or would you like to teach Deacon how to play your army game.

I love watching this family.


Velveteen Principle #3 : Real is Emotional
understanding, acknowledging, and expressing how we feel

This is one I need to work on.  Growing up in my family was not at all like the sitcom, Parenthood.  I just love how they can discuss really difficult topics with each other.  And agree to disagree.  I kinda wish we had some of those writers when I was growing up.  Mostly we/I simply buried things under the rug if they were difficult to discuss.

I cry at the drop of a hat.  It releases the wonderful endorphin leucine-enkaphalin and prolactin, the hormone that affects mood and stress tolerance. And lowers cortisol another chemical  related to stress.  The opposite is true too.  Suppressing tears increases stress levels, and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and peptic ulcers.

First, I have to understand the emotion.  Often it is not what it seems to be.  While working with Kate during those awful late teen years, I discovered that sometimes I was ANGRY but really I was simply afraid.  It was hard to admit that so I used anger or sadness instead.  I'm still learning.  It takes emotional awareness, self-confidence, even courage to be emotionally honest.  Another one of my journeys.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Sorry folks, yesterday's blog was really about Principle #2 of the Velveteen Rabbit Principles.  So today I will do number one.

Velveteen Principle #1: Real is Possible
what is Real waits inside; we are born Real

For me, I think that is really true. What I am becoming is what I was meant to be. I just had a lot layers to peel off to get to the heart of myself.  Artichoke style.  I didn't go to college.  Now, of course, I wish I had been more encouraged to go.  No inner discipline ... still have that personality trait!

I think I was meant to be a teacher or mentor or nurturer of any type.  I loved being married and being a helpmate in the simplest ways.  Spoiling him (actually them!) was fun for me.  Because I was not EXPECTED to do things ... I chose to do them.  What a difference that made.  At least to me.

When Kate came along, I sure loved that job as well.  Maybe a little OVER mothering went along there.  The disadvantage of having only one.  When she left the nest, I had my aging parents. We also adopted an elderly couple in our neighborhood.  Just to be a friend and to help out just a little.  Little did I know this was the Village concept at work in a very small way.

Now I still love nurturing and I hope to keep it intergenerational.  I learn something from each age.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


That darned rabbit.  The Velveteen Rabbit.

How smart was this author to give us such incredible principles by which to live.  I remember when Mr. Ralph hit an age where he felt he was "invisible" to most people.  Just another old man.  No longer productive or even interesting.  I, of course, disagreed.  Because getting older has helped me become bolder.

By the time we hit 60, we start to become "real".  The stunning beauty, physical appeal, and super senses begin to fade (from love!) and the slow demise of joints and skin make us more real.  And once you ARE real, you cannot be ugly ... except to people who don't understand.

This seems to explain my total lack of interest in having a man in my life.  IF we had started out young and nubile and full of hormones at the beginning of our journey ... we wouldn't mind the trip downhill together.  But I'm of the opinion now that no one would want the person who now has facial hair popping out all over.  Or barnacles and ketoses and skin tags and basal cell carcinomas all over what used to be soft, silky skin.  I feel like I could be a Braille book on aging.  

And there is a book called the Principles of the Velveteen Rabbit ... I think we should go through them, one by one!!

Velveteen Principle #1: Real is Possible
    a)  Close relationships make us feel more Real – we are social beings
    b)  Work that matters makes us feel more Real – it’s not all about money
    c)  Creativity and growth make us feel Real – seen through how you express yourself
    d)  Teaching, nurturing, and caring for others makes us feel Real – taking the focus off of self, and placing it on others

Monday, March 16, 2015


Today I invested in my lazy side.  Talked to a friend via phone.  Wrote a few emails.  Texted a lot.  Slept in and then took a nap.  Heading for a sunset photo op with Julie, my new Maui friend.  And eating our pie that I bought for Pi Day but we were too full of pasta to enjoy last night.

Yet I've been doing some thinking about how I want to spend the next ten years.  Probably because the birthday is heading my way.  This year I will finish out my tenure with Three Rivers Village (while I live in Oregon) but 2016 I need a new passion.  I'm not sure I want to spearhead the Village Movement here in Maui but maybe I will.  We could sure use help.

My neighbor friend belongs to two different groups, Neighbor Helping Neighbor and a smaller, grassroots effort whose name I don't remember.  Angel Ohana?  The NHN group is partially a County-funded program and I just visited their website.  I think this will be the place for me to start.  It sounds a lot like a Village concept.

Wish me luck!  I'm sending them an email today.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Mr. Ralph was famous for loving "useless bits of information."

In fact, several friends would often give him books with exactly that title ... or similar.  And he loved learning how some popular phrases came to be.  Which made him great fun at a large group where we didn't know very many people.  It's so easy to talk about nothing!!

Surprisingly enough, quite a few of our common sayings are from William himself.  Shakespeare!

And there are so many more.  He had several books explaining the origin of some famous sayings, but I can't think of the names.  One of his favorite authors is Bill Bryson and if you haven't read (or listened to) any of his, you might give them a try.  Such a sense of humor all the while you actually learn something!

I kinda miss his opening line ... didja know ....

Friday, March 13, 2015


My three short weeks in Oregon were so much fun.

Momma and the boys were sick until about midweek after I landed on a Thursday.  Fortunately, neither Jesse nor I ever caught it.

The weather was absolutely beautiful and it warms my heart how the whole family gets outdoor exercise no matter the weather.  Bike riding is number one right now.

We got Braeden signed up for Taekwondo and he loves it.  He needs to meet some guy friends since he's not yet in preschool.

Now I'll let some pictures speak a thousand words ...

Thomas the Tank Engine theme for Deacon's first birthday

And the "smash" cake ... chocolate for better photography!

I'm Number One!  With Grandma Laura and her Mom, Grandma Totchi ... and me!

His first "level" as Little Tiger at Taekwondo ... red tape means he passed certain athletic tests ... push ups and sit ups.  SO PROUD!

And finally tapping into his artistic self.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Whew!  Just landed an hour ago from the bumpiest flight ever.  Strong headwinds so we were an hour late as well.  He flew high every time it got bumpy but the last hour we went through some pretty rough winds.  Smooth landing and my friend DDA was there to haul me home.

It's pouring rain.  Just so you know my life is not always perfect!!

My new neighbor brought in the mail and checked on the place.  And left me bread, cheese and a bottle of Prosecco!  And we've only been friends for a month!  She knows me.

My friends who stayed for a week after I fly to Portland cleaned, organized and even did my laundry!  As well as yardwork and wasp nest removal (and patching holes where bees were getting in ... we removed a hose bib).

It's amazing how exhausted you can get from just sitting for six hours.  But I am.  Tomorrow I will fill you in on the last week in Portland with all my babies.  When I landed there was a video of Braeden and Deacon asking for a Facetime call.  

I melted.  And called them.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


It's coming up on two years since Mr. Ralph died.  Passed on.  Got his wings. Went to Heaven.  

Not a day goes by that I don't think of him.  Or how he would have handled things.  Or pass on to Kate what I feel her Dad would say.  Even Braeden keeps his memory alive.  Right now, though, I'm missing him.  He won't be going with me to my 45th high school reunion.  Our first Whipple Family reunion in 15 years.  Won't be meeting his little whirling dervish, Deacon.  

Why are there days like this?  I'm crying as I type.  I don't think I've really cried since his birthday in January.  Sometimes I feel I should be less sad.  Many people (those who have NOT lost a spouse or child) seem bothered that I tear up when talking about him.  Or choke up when chatting about him.

But then, on Facebook, I find a little photo that makes me feel better.

The price of love.  We sure had that!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Most people seem to watch their news on TV.  Since I rarely watch regular TV, I no longer have cable ... at either location.  The 5:00 pm news is too early and the 11:00 pm news is too late ... I usually watch mindless Netflix series at night to wind down.  And it is much too graphic for me.

Next way to get news is the paper.  It is a little late but we can read at our own rate.  And it is not as visual.  Years ago Mr. Ralph decided our local paper did not report news, they just wrote their slanted version of what they wanted to write about.  Often changing AP headlines to give people who just browse the bold print a whole different take on what the story was actually about.

I subscribe to my little weekly neighborhood paper to keep up with what's happening at the community level.  Leaders should simply sit down and play chess or poker to make decisions.  Or the leaders should fight each other.  Fencing, perhaps.  In my humble opinion.

Lately, my news checking is limited to about 20 minutes of online reading of the local paper, Wall Street Journal and a local TV station website.

OK.  I'm going to be honest ... I mostly get my news on Facebook.  So if you think there is something I should know, please post it there!