Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Day The Mom's Were Served

Amid all the terrible news, the sorrow, and grief, I thought we could just take a break and hear about something good.

Something kind.

Something that should be expected but often isn't.

I woke at the 00 early Tuesday hour to make breakfast for hubby, then prep for coffee duty at our MOPs program. Every other Tuesday MOPs (moms of preschoolers) is held at our church. This is a relaxing, laughing, chatting with adults, networking, have an awesome time for moms of birth to preschool age children. And the moms love it.

Usually mom's bring in a breakfast food to share. I've often thought how difficult it is for them to get up, get all their munchkins ready, load them in their car seats, drive to the church, then cart the kids, diaper bags, and the breakfast food inside. Wowsers. But they all do it. 

At this very moment I'm listening to their friendly chatter in the other room.

This meeting, though had a wonderful surprise. 

The pastoral staff of the church came in early and crowded the kitchen space. 

They cracked a zillion eggs, sliced sausage, 

cooked sausage...


and pancakes.

The moms have quieted as I reach this paragraph. They are feasting on delicious food, sipping coffee, and resting while their little ones are in the nursery.

During Jesus' ministry he washed his disciples, cooked and served breakfast on a beach, listened, and so much for. He was a servant. An example for all of us.

So on this day, the pastoral staff made breakfast for these moms. 

The men laughed. Joked. Told their stories. 

Asked where the bowls were and the tin foil.

Melted bacon grease through the plastic dish.

And served A-MAZING food to those who are raising the next generation.


This is news.

This is what should happen across America ... instead of the tragedies we hear and witness.

Perhaps there is a way for you to be a servant to someone today. Even in the least measure. The reward is a smile that will bless you. Laughter that will thrill you. And peace that passes all understanding.

This post has been brought to you by the one word-ServingIsGood


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It Took A Sunset To Unite Nations

Photo by Mary Vee, Gates Pass, Tucson

The last two nights, hubby and I drove to Gates Pass in Tucson, AZ to see the sunset.

We aren't from the area and had no clue this mountain pass drew hundreds of people and their cameras at this hour.

Photo by Mary Vee
Hut where we stood on left, Boulder we used
to climb to the hut. Gates Pass, Tucson 

Young and old climbed the massive rock structures searching for the best seat for the night's event. It reminded me of the ancient amphitheaters filling with crowds waiting to view an evening entertainment.

To get to Gates Pass, drive west of the city and make sure your front window is spotless. The reason isn't so much the spectacular view, which will be seen once the car is parked. When driving with a coating of desert sand on the window heading into the west, the sun's powerful rays bounce off the coating like a spotlight in your eyes.

Photo by Mary Vee
The peak at Gates Pass, Tucson

Follow the curving road to the top and turn into the scenic view parking lot. Although there are many parking spots, most will be taken. Climb the rocks to the vantage you prefer and wait for the sunset.

Here is the best part:

Photo by Mary Vee
Stone hut where we viewed the sunset

Winds picking up an incredible speed across the valley far below soar up the mountain. Holding on to a nearby rock is wise. 

Like us, tourists shifted from one rock to another as the sunset shifted swirling colors across the sky. As the colors blended, so did the people.  

We climbed to this stone hut and watched from the doorway. Other people sat on boulders to the left, some leaned on the open windows to the right. This and the peak across the road were dotted with men and women from many nations, all with cameras.

A young man from an Arab country joined us. He said it was his first time at this place.  We chatted about the colors in comparison to last night's sunset. Although he took a photo, he said he preferred the memory picture and the experience. I really enjoyed meeting him.

A family of native children raced up the rocks and chased each other, giggling and playing.

Hispanic teen girls climbed high, finding a narrow place to take their photos. 

A European father called his children when it was time to leave. One child said their sibling couldn't come because they sat on a cactus. Since there weren't major tears, I assume the sibling was fine.

Men, women, and children from many nations interacted while viewing the sunset at West Gate Pass, a winding mountain road connecting valley and city.

This ranks high on my list of impressive sunsets.

My next newsletter will release soon. In the newsletter, readers join me on my journeys to amazing places and look for the hidden amongst the obvious. Sign up for my newsletter in the right column by February 14th to receive this issue.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: SunsetsUnite

Don't forget to get your copy of my books! All available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Anders' Redemption
Andiamo, Let's Go to Italy
William Worthington Watkins III and the Cookie Snitchers

and Christmas with the Enemy, due to release in October 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Never Give Up Stories ROAD TRIP!!

Preplanned trips offer an enormous amount of security. Hotels are firm. Routes chosen. Time schedules organized. 

This week we are hitting the road. Those of you who have been with Let's Talk know how much I love to travel.

We had airline tickets and chose to cancel them, (in time to get our money back). 

Chuck the routine.

Toss out the plans.

Let our hair down and go. 

We'll collapse the back seats of the minivan for a flat surface. Set up the army cot. Stuff baggage under the cots. Pack the camping stove and hot pot along with groceries. Then take off.

There is something about the thrill of flexibility. We have our destination, AZ. But how we get there, and how long it'll take will be the variable.

Yeeee Haw!!

I found out there is a Dorothy house in the western Kansas. I doubt the town is called, Oz. I'd like to stop there. Moon crater is another spot we'd like to check out.

We're heading southwest. If you have any ideas where we can visit, let me know in the comments. I prefer crazy and different. Not interested in dining, we yank out a Sterno and heat something simple. Restaurants are time hoggers.

I'd like to do some climbing. 

See red rocks.

And maybe, just maybe, get to see the Pacific and the redwoods before we need to return.

We will hotel along the way. I like picking those as we go. If there are no vacancies, well, we'll just drive on down the road till we find one.

We don't often have the opportunity for an impulsive trip. This time we are in-between jobs and can't see sittin' the time away.  

This post has been brought to you by the one word: NeverGiveUpStoriesRoadTrip

Have I got an adventure for you!

1. Sign up for my newsletter in the right column. The next issue will be delivered to mailboxes 2/15. Amazing nature, trips, food, all within the comfort of your home.

2. Be sure to get your copy of Anders' Redemption.Can you imagine attempting to solve a mystery with memory issues? Waking each morning unsure what happened the day before except someone wants to ruin your career? This is Brice Anders' story. Anders' Redemption. CLICK THE BOOK PHOTO FOR ANDERS' REDEMPTION IN THE RIGHT COLUMN FOR THE LINK.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Tale of Two Cities Unknown to Dickens

Sometimes old news is new news.

Today I want to share with you news that only this week came to my attention. My research led me to the original article published in The Atlantic on October 22, 2013. 

This is a tale of two cities. 

That do not exist in pages written by Charles Dickens.

Viganella, Italy 

and Rjukan, Norway 

are small cities located in valleys surrounded by mountains. Although located far from each other, they suffered the same problem.

Up to six months of the year, both receive very little sunlight. 

While many global cities rest in valleys, Viganella and Rijukan are swaddled by the Alps and Galdhøpiggen mountains respectively. These giant mountains shield the valley below from precious sunlight.

If I were to visit either quaint city, I would only do so during the six months of sunlight. I really dislike the dark.

And so did the residents. The word did is very important.

Like a Hans Christian Andersen story, 197 people of Viganella came together and talked about the problem. The mayors are credited with the solution, 


I'd like to imagine that a child attended that meeting and said, "Why not put a mirror on top the mountain to reflect the light down on our village?"

All the children chimed in, cheering their friend's great idea. The parents, though said quite another word. They uttered ridiculous. 

"How much would a giant mirror cost?" a man asked. 

A woman pointed toward the peak, "How would we get it up there?"

"What if it fell down on the city. We'd all be killed."

Questions popped in every adult mind. They looked for problems in every way.

For days the towns people talked about the ridiculous idea of mounting a giant mirror on the mountain. They drank their coffee and talked. They stopped each other on the dark afternoon streets and talked. 

And while they chattered on and on about the reasons why a giant mirror could not help their problem, a teen, well beyond her years in intelligence, made drawings and punched numbers into a calculator. She figured in the height of the mountain, researched the greatest wind speeds, factored in the position of the reflected sunlight. 

And while she couldn't find a way to shed light on the entire village, her numbers showed the town square could have sunlight. She bundled her many papers together. She slipped on her winter coat and set off for the town square. 

Now, at this time of day, men and women gathered at the fountain in the center for this was when they shared the days events and talked about problems.

The teen stood by the fountain. She held her bundle with one hand high into the air. "I have done the math. A mirror can be placed at the top of the mountain and angled in such a way to reflect sunlight on this very city square."

The school teacher read through her papers. "I believe this idea might work," he said.

The councilmen and mayor read through her papers and they agreed too.

The people formed committees to set up fundraisers. They contacted builders, climbers, installers, computer experts and all matter of skilled workers for this sort of project. The first approved blue prints gave the people hope. 


On December 17, 2006, and 8 x 6 meter computer controlled sheet of steel, turned.

The people of the town gathered in darkness and waited. Their eyes raised to the mountain peak with a giant mirror mounted. The mayor signaled the computer operator to start the program. 

The children squealed in anticipation.

Dads and moms, boyfriends and girlfriends, even neighbors hugged waiting for the moment.


The Dark

Became light.

197 townspeople rejoiced. They clapped and danced in sunlight. They slapped each other on the back in celebration. 

The mayor stood on the edge of the fountain and proclaimed December 17th  A Day of Light.

No one remembered who suggested the giant mirror. It must have been the mayor.

But the little boy remembers.

And the female teen who worked endless hours to determine the probability remembers.

She texted her cousins who lived in Rjukan, Norway. They told their friends who told the townspeople who sent the mayor to see the giant mirror in Viganella, Italy. When he arrived, the mayor of Viganella took him to the town center and said, "Watch."

On October 18, 2013 the people of Rijukan, Norway gathered in their town square and for the first time in a history of long dark winters, they watched the sun reflect down on their town.

The news article didn't give these details. But this I know...the people lived happily ever after. And it wasn't "the end". It was "the beginning."

You simply must see the photos for this great project. Here is the link to the article in The Atlantic complete with large sunny photos:  

This post has been brought to you by the one word: OnceUponATimeInATaleOfTwoCities

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Wizard of Internet is a Fraud

Photo Courtesy Link

In our everyday life, problems pop up. They aren't always something big. Maybe something that tweaks our agitation for a nano second before a solution strikes us.

Why was the peanut butter in the fridge?
How did the black sock end up in the white laundry batch?
Where are my: glasses, car keys, charger, etc?

These issues we are willing to tackle. No problem. Take the peanut butter out of the fridge. Don't panic when the white batch turns out fine. Search the house and car for missing item.

But when it comes to thinking our way through problems, we are very quick to hit the Internet. 

Can I just say, the Internet is not the all knowing Wizard of Oz? 

There is a lot of misguided information on line and some of it is very difficult to detect...for even the knowledgeable person on the given topic. 

Sure, I'll leap off the edge here for a moment. My economics teacher taught this principle, "Let the buyer beware." I'd like to add to that, "Let the Internet researcher beware."

Just because Web M.D. said it, doesn't make it so. Ask your doctor.
Even the Internet's weathermen give the wrong weather reports.

So what's the real issue here?

We are not thinking.

We don't try to solve problems ourselves. 

We run to Google and ask, "How do you..." And then follow the directions precisely. And while those specific directions may be correct, creativity has fizzled to the vast unknown.

Inventing the wheel is not bad.

Since cooking shows are all the rage, here is a low key example:
I'm standing in my kitchen. Flour spilled on the counters. Measuring cups and spoons have ingredient residue. I open my fridge and find, cue panic music, I don't have the next ingredient! 

Once upon a time, this would not be an issue. I'd search the pantry for a substitute and create a new taste sensation. The family would ooo and ahhh. "Make this again," they'd say.

Today, I'd go to my computer and bring up recipes for the same dish. I'd research alternative ingredients, wading through the one's I've never heard of before not realizing a full hour has vanished, and choose one I think might sort of work. Well, it should. It's on the Internet. And Chef Blah Blah said this ingredient worked.

Really, readers?

Can we not get through a day without the Wizard of Internet?

Another big concern is the awareness of Alzheimers. Memory Loss. Dementia. Research will show lack of this food, too much of that food, lack of exercise, and thousands of other reasons why a growing population is having memory problems leading to serious issues. 

I'm not saying the Internet is a source either.

I am saying, we can be a source. If we don't use our minds to think through problems and questions, we become lazy. Do you remember when you were a child in school. Were you always given the answer?  As a teacher, I told my students...I don't give answers. I guide. I helped them discover resources. I gave them opportunity to discover. I even let them struggle and fail because that is also learning.

Struggling and failing is not bad. Ask Einstein. Edison. Lincoln. 

So, today, I challenge you. For one week...choose not to ask Google. Let me know how it goes. 

This post was brought to you by the one word: CreativeMindsRemember

Anders' Redemption is a story about a man who lost his memory due to a slip and fall accident. His world has changed. He'd trained to become a chef but an intruder steals his prize recipes. He can't help the police because he can't remember....if only he could remember.   

Link: Click here

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

38 Minutes of Sheer Panic

Photo Courtesy Link

The Hawaiian false alert from January 13th scared many islanders and raised fears reaching far across the ocean to the mainland.

Throughout our growing up years generations are trained to regard warnings for every type of danger:

Fasten your seatbelt
Look both ways
Duck and cover
Seek shelter
Stop. drop and roll
Don't touch
Stand tall and face a wild animal
Run. Run fast from killer bees
Don't put your hand in hidden areas where rattle snakes shelter
Wash your hands
Avoid hiking in washes
Don't feed animals
Do the lightning crouch
Stay away from windows
Hide in doorways
Get away from buildings
Stay in your car
Seek high ground

Alerts have been developed for cell phones:
Amber Alert
Silver Alert
Blue Alert
Gold Alert
(do you know all of these alerts? I'm sure there are more)

Hawaii's January 13, 2018 false missile attack alert lasted 38 minutes. Panic stricken men, women, and children had no clue what to do. 

Islanders did their best. They grabbed flashlights, radios, cell phones, water, and hid in bathtubs, on lower floors, in buildings, storm drains, anywhere they could find shelter. 

For 38 minutes they didn't know if they would live.

Now, a few days later, we have learned that one person accidentally pressed the wrong button. A three man team gave directions to another three man team, one who had the responsibility to press the button. In the drill process, the button was pressed accidentally.  

In these days after, tempers have soared. Investigations launched. Fingers pointed.

How could such a thing happen?

I think back to Apollo 13, when after an array of mechanical failures, the ridiculous happened. As the astronauts exhaled, carbon dioxide built up in the capsule, filters designed for two men could not accommodate the unexpected three. The filter in the damaged part was round. The overworked and failing filter in the good capsule was square. Men on the ground had to figure out how to fit a round filter into a square hole.

Hawaiian News Now interviewed senators, the governor, military, and other officials during their broadcast. When asked if false reports happened in the past, one official said, "Yes, during the cold war."

The major complaint at this time is not regarding the potential attack but the scare from a false report.

People will not believe future warnings. They will think the government is crying wolf and not prepare for an actual disaster.

From Science Fiction to thriller to action movies and books, there has ALWAYS been more than one step to blow up a ship, release the missiles, whatever the ultimate action was. Codes from two or more approved individuals. Two keys held by two ranking officers. A hand scan plus an eye scan. ALWAYS MORE THAN ONE. 

Even the epic moment, the one we know is yet to come, will have more than one step. "The trumpet will sound, those who have died will rise, and we will be changed." See, God never makes a mistake. He has given us a warning that will come true at the appointed time. 

We don't know when the end times will come, but we can be prepared. To be prepared, God's Word says: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That simple. Because God truly loved the world so much that he sent His only Son to take the punishment for our sins, that whoever believes in Him, Jesus, will have everlasting life.

This will not be 38 minutes of wondering. 

38 minutes of panic.

No need to duck and cover.

To have the ultimate peace that passes all understanding.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: 38Minutes

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When The Simplest Solution is the Only Solution

Hubby and I saw the movie The Darkest Hour. It was nice to see all but a few seats hadn't been sold for our viewing. Surprising, since the movie released back in November. I was also happy to see the range of ages in the audience, from children to silver haired patrons.

This is not a review of the movie. I understand there are some historical accuracies. In my research for this post, I found discrepancies between sites for the actual numbers. For this discussion, I am using numbers cited in the movie with the caveat these only represent the actual number.

The time is May, 1940. 

Newly elected prime minister, Winston Churchill's back was against the wall, as was the British army trapped on French shores with no transportation to return safely home. He couldn't rally help to save the men or obtain a supply of weapons to fight the war. The fleet had been destroyed. 

He tried everything he could think of.

The king and other influential people begged him to negotiate with Germany. Churchill adamantly opposed. (Eventually, King George agreed with Churchill)

600,000 men had about two days before Germans would reach their position.

A temporary idea came to light. Churchill ordered British soldiers stationed in Calais to distract the Germans away from Dunkirk, France. 

Both Calais and Dunkirk are sea towns. Calais is south of Dunkirk. Both are across the English Channel from the UK. 4,000 men were trapped in Calais. 600,000 men trapped in Dunkirk. Germans swarmed both cities, leaving British soldiers backs against the channel.

Even with the Calais distraction, Churchill had no means to transport soldiers trapped in Dunkirk. 

...until a very simple solution presented itself. 

He summoned the general to ask British citizens owning boats with a capacity to transport any number of soldiers to cross the channel and bring their boys home. The mission was given the name Dynamo.

The result: thousands of small crafts crossed the English channel and rescued not only stranded British soldiers, but also stranded French soldiers.

Sometimes a problem seems so very overwhelming. We try every solution we can think of, poo pooing simple solutions as futile. Or we forget to consider those around us who could lend a hand.

But when that bizarre solution works, we sit back amazed. Happy. Surprised. Perhaps a bit stunned.

So, this is a new year. 

Are you ready to fight the impossible situations that may come your way?

Are you ready to press forward, even if it means using the simple solution or humbling yourself to ask for help?

Here is a quote from Winston Churchill that may help you:

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

May your 2018 prove to be one that counts.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: SimplestSolutionsThatCount

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Don't forget...

While this is a new year, we should remember those who are hurting.

I am one.

Today, my post is very short because I will be at the funeral for my father-in-law.  Dr. Vee. 

Dr. Vee led a life that holds an unbelievable history.

If you would like to read a short summary that appeared in newspapers:

Metro Detroit's medical community is mourning the death of Dr. Vainutis Kazimieras Vaitkevicius, a key physician in the creation of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and a compassionate leader in Michigan's oncology field. 
Dr. Vaitkevicius  — known by patients and colleagues as "Dr. Vee" — died on Dec. 24, 2017, at Omega House Hospice in Houghton. He was 90.
"Dr. Vee touched many lives," Patricia A. Ellis of the Karmanos Cancer Institute wrote in an email.  "He would not be one to boast about himself but, for me personally, he is so very deserving of us honoring him and celebrating the gifts he shared with all of us that will continue to benefit oncology care and research for years to come."
Dr. Vee was born on Jan. 12, 1927, in Kaunas, Lithuania. His mother, Kamilija Zakaviciute, was a nurse who spent years in a Siberian labor camp. His father, Henrikas Vaitkevicius, was an architectural engineer, who died in forced exile after being arrested for political views. 
In 1941, the KGB arrested his immediate family, although he managed to escape. He moved in with his grandfather, Vytautas Zakavicius, a trained as a physician and a botanist.
But Zakavicius was executed soon after by the Nazis after it was discovered that he was hiding Jewish children. 
Dr. Vee then moved in with his aunt, Dr. Jadvyga Zakaviciute. To avoid forced enlistment by the Nazi Party, Zakaviciute, a prominent doctor, said Dr. Vee suffered from tuberculosis -- a ficticious diagnosis -- and placed him in the quarantine ward. 
As the war continued, Dr. Vee ended up in a Lithuanian refugee camp outside of Frankfurt, Germany. It was there that he began to show his leadership skills, establishing a secondary school for the refugees — including himself. 
While Dr. Vee originally dreamed of being a musician, his life direction changed after the war. In 1951, he graduated from the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt Medical School.
He moved to the United States for post-graduate training. This, however, was put on hold for a two-year stint with the U.S. Army, where he achieved the rank of captain. Following the military, Dr. Vee began his residency at Detroit Grace Hospital and Detroit Receiving Hospital in 1955. 
Following residency and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Detroit Institute for Cancer Research, Dr. Vee started as an attending physician in oncology services at Henry Ford Hospital.
In 1962, he was named clinical director at the Detroit Institute for Cancer Research. Four years later, he was appointed associate professor at Wayne State, becoming director of Wayne’s new Division of Conjoint Services and Curriculum in Oncology. In 1982, he became physician-in-chief at the Detroit Medical Center and chief of medicine at Harper Grace Hospital.
Dr. Vee's most memorable accomplishment is his role in the creation of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, where he later served as interim president. 

I say all of this not to hold one man above others, only Jesus Christ deserves that...but to remember that there are those whose life has very rough edges, yet something good can come from it.

So in this New Year, may we think of others even when we experience the harshness that sometimes seeps into our lives.

Happy New Year
May this one be an exciting year full of promise.

Mary Vee