Of Hicks and Hacks and Cyber Attacks


It was an ordinary day…or so I thought! I had no idea that my world was about to turn upside down.

I was working online—minding my own business, as usual—when suddenly an “Alert Notice” popped up on the screen of my laptop computer.

It said: “Warning… You have been blocked by Microsoft.”

A phone number appeared and I was instructed to call it. Worriedly, I did so and I got a helpful Microsoft Technician on the line immediately. She was a sweet sounding lady who ran a few online-tests on my computer, and soon gave me a diagnosis. It would cost $248 to fix my laptop. Otherwise, my computer was essentially worthless!

I panicked and did something really stupid. Thoroughly rattled, I gave her all the money I had on a prepaid debit card. She assured me that I could add the rest of money to the card later. Then she transferred me to her ‘Manager’ to complete the transaction.

At some point, it occurred to me that I should call my computer-whiz-of-a-daughter, Karissa, and consult her before I proceeded any further. I explained that to the Manager and he immediately turned ugly and hung up on me.

I was startled. I called my daughter and told her what had just happened.

“Mother!” she said. “Those people were HACKERS. They ransacked your computer and stole your money!” Continue reading


Your ‘Western Correspondent’ Is Headin’ East…


I’m getting nervous out here on the West Coast. The wildfires are simply out of control. I know it’s hard for Midwesterners to fathom—seeing how you’ve been drowning in rain this past summer—but out west, it’s a different story.

There are currently over 100 wildfires ablaze. By the time you read this article, the whole western hemisphere could be burning, at the rate it’s going.

A four-year drought has brought us to a heart-breaking, record-breaking conclusion. Not only is there enough dry tinder to light the world on fire—there’s also very little water with which to fight it. Smoke fills the air. The sun looks redder than usual. Blood red, at times. It’s not a good omen.

A big harvest moon is normally a thing of beauty this time of year, but not lately! It’s just plain bloody. I hate to be glum, folks—but I don’t know how else to say it. We’re facing something ugly, here, and no amount of glint and glimmer can polish it.

Oh….by the way. Things aren’t much better in the economic and geopolitical arenas!

Continue reading

Sweet Summer Sojourn

Vicki & MystiaHaving kids makes us sentimental and a bit loopy. As babies, they weave themselves into our very souls…and we don’t know what to do when they grow up and get on with their lives. It ain’t easy being a Parent.

My youngest daughter came to visit me in NorCal for the summer. She is my princess—my baby—a Senior at a College in Omaha….A spirited 22-year-old College Kid who drove across five states to see her Ol’ Mom on the West Coast. 2000 miles of white-line fever…Endless Wyoming. The saltflats of Utah. The grimness of a Nevada desert highway. It’s a real feat for a hardened traveler like me—let alone a College Kid.

My daughter wasn’t daunted. “I made it just fine,” Mystia said, upon arrival. “I have my GPS!”

She had other electronic wonders hidden in her Smartphone, as well. She put them to good use—taking candid video clips of me living my daily life. She shared them on Social Media. Her friends responded with gales of laughter that echoed across Cyberspace. I have no idea what’s so funny.

Immediately upon arrival, Mystia took over my bedroom….my dressers, my cabinets, my bed, and my breathing space. Retreating to the couch, I look on bemused. I tolerate her gladly–paying dearly for the privilege of being a mom.

It ain’t easy being a Parent.

My bulging closet full of clothes had to be examined, and most items were dismissed as obsolete. She helped me organize a Yard Sale and we sold a few of my things—a feat that she thought remarkable—considering what we had to work with.

Mystia joined a gym and insisted that I sign up for a membership as well. She put me through a series of rigorous exercises and tortures especially designed to strengthen my half-century old muscles. I groaned my way through it. The toning, the workouts, the warm-ups…the cool-downs. It hasn’t done much for my body, but it has improved the relationship with my daughter considerably. She’s quite proud of me…At least for the moment.

I wanted to share with Mystia the glories of the West Coast. But within days of her arrival, it seems that our Pacific Paradise has gone completely wacky. I took her to my favorite stretch of coastline, hoping to find sand-dollars. Instead, we found a beachful of dying jellyfish, dead birds and rotting seals.

“What’s going on?” I said. “It’s never been like this before!”

“It’s my fault,” Mystia sighed. “I’ve brought with me the curse of death.” Continue reading

Of Muck, Manure, and May’s Merry Madness


I didn’t realize what a tenderfoot I’d become until today. You see—I’ve been living in town for the last few months and the grind of city-life has been gradually wearing away at my countrified veneer, but I didn’t know it.

I still had a Country-Girl heart—yearning to plant a garden—even if it were within city limits! With that in mind, I left early on my way to work, today, and drove out of town toward a new client’s home—while looking for some good garden soil along the way.

I decided to swing into a friend’s farm to see if she had a few shovelfuls of cow manure to bolster the dirt in my new garden. It would only take a couple of minutes, or so I thought—and I would soon be on my way to work again.

My friend, Jen, was just leaving on an errand as I pulled up to her farmhouse, but she was happy to share her cow poop with me. “Just be careful of the Bull!” she said. “He’s fairly docile, but you never know about a bull!”

I waved her words aside and said. “Say no more! I’m a country girl, you know!”

I soon found the shovel and some feed-bags and went into the cow pen with a frisky pup trailing at my heels. The day was gloriously warm and I felt like a million dollars. This is how life should be! Sunshine and country breezes and cow manure everywhere! Life simply doesn’t get any better than this—-!

Good Lord!

The grass beneath my feet had suddenly given way. My white, leather work-shoes disappeared into a sodden marsh of manure. Faster than you can say: JackBeNimble, I was stuck in poop up to my ankles.

Continue reading

Raymundo’s Gamble….

IMG_7139PS[1]I met him just before the Super Bowl on a warm, sunny Saturday. I was returning home from a Convention, down south, and I stopped in a small town to stretch my legs.

“My name is Raymundo,” he said, coming up to me abruptly. “You can call me Ray!” He was pushing a shopping cart full of whiskey bottles and recyclables, which he brought to a halt on the sidewalk beside me. The cart was bedecked with ratty Christmas tinsel—giving it a bedraggled, yet festive look.

Raymundo had no shirt on and his body was scarred every which-way. He had a hole in his neck and it made a wheezing noise when he talked.He acted like he’d known me all his life.

Raymundo sat down beside me on the low brick wall where I sat warming myself like a lizard in the southern sun. I saw his gaze stray toward my little ice-chest sitting on the wall beside me.

“Are you hungry?” I said.

He nodded and I gave him one of my specialties—a strange little burrito full of crab meat. He made quick work of it, and I gave him another. This time he got a small bottle of hot sauce out of his shopping cart and seasoned it well before eating.

I could feel the eyes of the people across the street watching us. They sat in a big fancy truck in the McDonald’s parking lot, munching their own lunch. They were very interested in what we were doing.

We talked of many things, Raymundo and I.

He lived precariously from day to day—never knowing which would be his last. One of his cousins was attacked and stabbed by five men just the other day. Raymundo unfurled a newspaper and showed me an article just to prove it. He gave me the newspaper to keep. Then he offered me a big bottle of water which I declined diplomatically.

“I just put a bet on the Super Bowl,” he said, changing the subject. “I bet 300 dollars on the Seattle Seahawks.”

“Three-hundred dollars!?” I blinked and swallowed hard. “That’s a lot of money!”

Continue reading

Of January-Blues… and Greens!


The pond is frozen solid and so is the dirt in the garden. A frigid wind howls outside and the mercury in the thermometer has long ago headed south with the geese. Spring is so very far away.

Like grumpy grizzlies, we go into hibernation—drowsy in our wintry doldrums. Laziness overwhelms us and we begin to drift off.

Ah…But there are so many things yet to do! The birds outside the window need to be fed. The barnyard cats, too. Somewhere the hungry cows are lowing. A swirl of snowflakes dance outside the window, inviting us to step outdoors into a Winter Wonderland.

We shiver and look away. Too cold. Too dreary. The snowflakes can dance by themselves. The birds can wait. And so can the cats and cows.

Brrrrr….! January has little to offer us. It may be touted as the beginning of a grand and glorious new year, but right now everything looks plum frozen outside. Nothing is growing but our lethargy. Nothing is green but the mold evolving on the leftovers in the fridge.

Where’s the excitement of January 1st ? The fireworks? The pop-whiz-bang of our New Year’s resolutions?

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Of Boomers, Birthdays, and Blizzards….

IMG_4161I’m a Blizzard Baby-Boomer, and I’m right proud of it, too!
Now—you all know what a ‘Blizzard-Baby’ is. And you know what a ‘Baby-Boomer’ is. But how about a ‘Blizzard Baby-Boomer’? Well, I’ll tell you about ’em in a minute, folks.

First, I have to mention that I just celebrated my 53rd birthday—which sounds terribly old to most young folks today. But never mind that!

I still feel 18 years young, deep down inside….Full of fizz, pep and vinegar. Like many modern Baby-Boomers today, I’m doing what I never dreamed of doing at 18. I jog three miles without pausing to catch my breath. (When I was 18, I couldn’t jog three blocks…let alone three miles.)

As a Boomer, I know I’m running out of time. And I’ve got to run like the dickens to keep up!

There are a lot of Baby-Boomers running loose in our society today. Our children are all raised and we can go adventuring…to the forest…to the river…to the beach. We do a lot of gardening, camping and beachcombing. A lot of vacations. Cruises. Traveling.

I do some wandering, myself—meandering here and there. I wander to the West Coast and back several times a year. I play in the sand and I dig up plants for my garden. I stretch out in the sun. I dance in the rain; I dance beneath the stars. I do it all alone…since nobody else wants to do exactly what I want to do. And that’s OK….!

I chart my own course. I map my own destiny. I travel where I want without asking permission of anyone, but God.

I am a Boomer….and I must take full advantage of every moment. I breathe deeply. I live fully. I have to. I’m running out of time. Continue reading

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