Man, I'm feeling all kinds of nostalgia today.

2 years ago, this fall, we rode the rails to Washington DC and New York City where, on our trip to bountiful, we fell in love with the big apple.

10 years ago we arrived home in our rented motorhome from dropping Melissa at The Young Americans... same week Katrina unleashed her worst on New Orleans.

13 years ago, I spent the week in Paris (including a fall in the Metro station) and then left Jennifer there. Alone.

14 years ago, on a clear September Tuesday ...

18 years ago we celebrated Ben graduating HS, had relatives in town camping at PJ, and had to be the bearer of Princess Diana bad news.  No internet breaking on non existent smart phones.

So today, while watching an emotional episode of "Blue Bloods" ... when the family sat down to watch old home movies and the soundtrack "What A Wonderful World" played until the scene faded to black ... I cried like a little school girl.

Forgot to mention, that I fell pretty darn close to the edge at the friggen Grand Canyon in 2005, as well.

And I took a tumble and ate a sidewalk sandwich last week, too. Aug 2015.  So, I don't feel the greatest yet and am recouperating on the couch.  "Blue Bloods" is an awesome TV show, and thanks to my iPad mini and Netflix, I'm enjoying the Reagan's, an Irish family of cops from New York ... it's like I KNOW them, not to mention the show's writers, cinematography, and storylines.

My point today is plain and simple, so don't give me grief. Sieze the day. Rejoice in Hope. Live like you're dying, sow seeds of kindness, broaden your "love your neighbor" circle, make amends, smile and be nice.

18 years slipped into the past faster than a handful of sesaons from a make believe story of New York Cops. I know it's TV, but I want to live my life like my new best friend TV family.

They eat dinner together every Sunday {senior living in Grand Rapids, anyone?},  take turns saying and showing grace, but they tell each other like it is, give each other what for, and put the bad guys away, all while making the innocent bystander/viewer fall in love with them, forthwith.


TGIF Sometimes

Cicadas singing
Shadows lengthen fast
Time keeps on slippin' slippin' into the future
Nostalgia setting in

I used to be a writer.
Please, Mr. Postman
circa 2004

The right side of her brain had already started its own dance party as Olivia pushed back from yet another office meeting.  It was Friday.

Olivia worked as an interior designer for a construction company whose forte was office buildings...drab, gray, square, cookie-cutter office buildings.  When it came time for interior furnishings, her creative choices consisted of grayscale. She struggled on a budget which eroded to 'the-cheaper-the-better' after construction upgrades.

Olivia resigned herself to biding her time. She played parking lot games, which bordered on OCD, to gear up and deprogram. Every morning, she managed to transform herself into the consummate, boring team player.

 Mondays she told herself, You do not belong at this job. She repeated the phrase five times as she stomped across the cold pavement.

By Tuesday, her conversation became self-deprecating: You did it again, girl.  You let someone else take the credit for your 'outside the box' thinking... congratulations co-worker...on my next big thing. On many occasions, in the empty lobby, she spoke the words out loud.

Wednesday had a similar stanza, but it was hump day so there was a swing in her step.  You're simply the best thing that's ever happened to this place. This ditty started at her car and replayed until she flopped into her burgundy-tweed office chair with a sigh, simply the best.

Thursday's parking lot conversation was aimed at the regime.  They'll never change.  She would start her satire at the bottom stair, your-boss-is-a-mon-ster-that-pukes...she reached the landing...bor-ing-cu-bi-cles-when-he's-sick. She had a distinct rhythm and a syllable for all sixteen steel stairs.
A vision of her boss throwing up miniature gray cubicles left a smile on her face, as she pulled open the windowless office door.

But today was different.

Her company won a bid to build a Senior Living Housing Complex. Finally, a creative assignment.  It felt like receiving a brand new box of Crayolas; the Sixty-four pack with a built-in sharpener. Her excitement mounted as she imagined tiny interior homes with floor plans, cabinets and countertops. 

Olivia grabbed her coat and idea notebook, beginning the selection process, in her head.   Before she reached the lobby to meet her boss, she envisioned the hardware, the carpet, and nothing painted gray.

Today they would tour an existing facility, and she played none of her usual parking lot games.  

Her mood bordered on giddy, as she followed her boss to his car. 

"You'll also need to design the exterior," he said.  

Olivia thought her head might explode and immediately began a mental sketch.  She'd incorporate a Cape Cod/Mackinac Island feel to the structure by using colonial red brick and cedar shake.  She'd integrate patio columns, French doors, balconies, cupolas, and weather vanes.

Her boss rambled on about today's excursion while the blueprints took shape in her mind's eye.  She saw residents meandering down spacious interior hallways with cozy lanterns hanging over copper address numbers. In a common area, filled with comfortable furniture and warm window treatments, she heard elderly gentlemen exaggerating their fish stories. She imagined game rooms with jigsaw puzzles, knotty pine bookshelves and a row of Apple computers. Seniors needed easy internet access; her grandma even had a blog.

She pretended to take notes while her boss spoke of the trivial. The ideas came fast, and she could hardly keep up.  There must be a stone fireplace and a café.

"Did you get that?" her boss asked while looking very impressed with her note taking. 

She nodded and pretended to write down something about construction costs or heating and cooling units. A small retro styled theatre could be used for church services and watching the big game.  A generous dance floor was a must.

As they entered the building she began to feel it, and by the time they introduced themselves, the feeling overwhelmed her whole being.  What was going on? She felt as if she was leaving one world and entering another. Drab office buildings and paint color schemes were fading into oblivion. She felt transported to a different realm.

A lady at the grand piano introduced herself as Thelma, while plunking out a familiar hymn. Thelma was not waiting for Easter to wear her bonnet. Olivia wanted to know her favorite hymn and if she used to be a church pianist, but they were led away from the lobby.

A spacious yellow atrium housed a half dozen doughnut shaped bird feeders, waiting to be hung outside. A balding gentleman offered a friendly, "Hello." He printed 'Lloyd' in block letters on his nametag.  Olivia wanted to help him as he struggled to thread a piece of red yarn, but once again the tour moved on.

She noticed homemade signs hung at slight angles on each door. She recognized "Welcome" in German, Dutch and Spanish. A few family names still contained the "s" indicating a couple. She wished to hear romantic or even boring tales of how they met. Most banners bore a lone name, though, increasing her yearning.

Finally, they knocked on a door with a framed glass shadow box adorning the stoop.  The box held a menagerie of armed forces memorabilia and criss-crossed flags.  She longed to thank someone for their military service, but her boss interrupted and asked to see their electrical box.

The next entryway display box held family pictures and yellowed school photos.  She was mad at an unnamed generation and assumed, since the pictures hadn't been updated, the visits had stopped.

They passed a lively café with lingering aromas and diners.  Two couples were engaged in a spirited discussion on whether their grandchildren would enjoy a Pistons game or the civic playhouse.  Olivia prayed those kids would enthusiastically accept either invitation.

In the last hallway, leading back to the main lobby, bulletin boards announced a euchre tournament. Eiffel tower stickers heralded 'Vive a la France' tonight in the dining room. Olivia wondered if any of them had ever visited Paris.

While sitting down to wait for her boss and crew to finish a boiler room discussion, it became increasingly clear. The neon sign in her heart flashed it's warning; U turn ahead! It wasn't boring construction details, or the creative design process that would be her escape route. It was the people; the older people. People placed in "senior" homes after lengthy discussions with their baby boomer children. People whose grandchildren had rummaged through their earthly possessions in order to help them scale down. People who strived their whole life to acquire--then had to decide between their dining room set and the La-Z-Boy. Maybe some of them were people, like herself, who had been trapped in a passionless career.  She ached to sit down and talk with each one of them, positive they longed to tell their sotries.

As their tour came to an end, and they opened the spacious nine-paned beveled glass lobby doors, Olivia felt a pain like she had never before experienced.

One lone man, leaning on his walker and struggling with his mailbox key, sent wave after wave of the sharpest non-physical pain ripping to the very depths of her stomach. He finally got the box open and leaned down to look into the empty abyss. 

Like a bad accident, Olivia could not look away, and her heart screamed, If there is a God in heaven, please let there be some sort of personal letter in that box! 
She knew there wasn't. He knew there wasn't. But he had to make sure. He reached his gnarled hand in, first part way, then one more wistful reach, a little farther, to make sure he hadn't missed something the mailman had shoved to the back.

That's when she knew: This project, lovingly dubbed 'Storybook Condos,' would be her last as an interior designer. To live her passion she must become involved with this generation.  She would gain their friendship, listen to their stories and become their voice through her writing.

As she made her way to her car that Friday afternoon, her step had a new rhythmic bounce.
There were places to go, people to meet, and stories to tell.


Julee Frey Wilke 1955 ~

Ok, I agree, the title is a bit morbid. But stop and think about it ... it's the hyphen that counts. The hyphen is where relationships are made or broken. The hyphen is where stories are told or swept under the rug. It's where time is cherished or frittered away. The hyphen is where life is lived.

I deleted my personal fb page. The news feed was invading my hyphen, and I could not control myself. What I meant to say, if I'm being honest is, I chose not to control myself.

Facebook afforded me many good experiences, but I'm sorry to say I lost a few relationships because of words typed in a vacuum of pride and self-defense, and/or words of honesty and caring left untyped.

The title is deceiving; face book. There is nothing face to face about it. I'd love to go back and undo but it would have to be in person. I want to have a relationship with you,  just not a fb one.

I'm firing up the blog again, in a newsy, friendly, look-at-my-darling-grandkids, here's-what-I'm-reading, sort of way. I did keep my business website and blog, Instagram, Pinterest and STORIES Photography fb, for business reasons.

So ring me up,  I've only had; two phone numbers, lived at two addresses, and kept one e-mail address. God bless you as you continue on the journey and I hope to see you on down the road.

When it does come time to add another date, I want so much more than a hyphen. I want it to say,

Julee Frey Wilke, 1955 'She lived this earthly life to the full' {ending date}.


Let's Review

I knew it.

It takes time and effort to tell stories.   Yesterday I had some Julee time.  Tried the Happy Gospel Center for church, then off to Sarasota to replenish at Whole Foods and a lunch on their promenade. I don'mean to be mean, but alone time is how I renew, refresh, and rethink things.

So, today you'll get a pic update and a movie clip which pretty much sums up our Christmas weekend, New Years, leaving Remington, and arriving Bradenton.

Verse of the day: John 8:36 "If the Son therefor shall set you free, you will be free indeed."  

Highlight of the week: Happy Hour with an old friend, albiet a skype hh.


Christmas Week-end

iPhone Christmas

New Years Eve
Leaving Remington
Degrees of separation
Sunshine State 
Sew it goes.

 God bless America! In honor of Martin Luther King Jr, I give you this clip and then I'm off to see "Selma"

Quote of the day:

Come visit, but just know, we have plans on Jan 29! Go Wings!
God bless you if you read here.


Senior Trip Day 3

Miss Shirley

While walking today, I met Shirley.  She peered out from below her straw hat and removed her gardening gloves to say hello.

I don't really remember if I pursued her or she pursued me, but I ended up with a wonderful short story of her life.

She's a born and raised Floridian.  Oh, now I remember, we had just arrived and she asked me about the weather on our way down.  Told her it didn't reach 50 degrees until the Florida/Georgia line.

Her Georgia husband (not quite sure if he was the original) found his "Miss Shirley" while vacationing in the panhandle.  They moved here in 2001. He passed away in 2007. She loves it here, but is kinda lonely. Thinks about returning to the top of Florida, but probably won't.

She weeded her whole garden (maybe a 4' x 4' space) while telling her story, and then asked mine. She couldn't place mom and dad, but welcomed me. She called me Miss Julee.

Later in the day, while we visited with mom and dad, Miss Shirley walked up to us. She had her headscarf tied securly and her handbag hugged tightly.

I introduced her as my new friend and then she rambled on with the biggest smile on her face,

"Miss Julee, thank you for stopping by, where were my manners, I should have invited you in."

"I live in the oldest trailer, but I keep a clean house."
"Nobody much likes me here."
"I'm straight down the road in A-11, it's the oldest, and most rundown trailer in here. (It's a darling 1950ish peach Tropicana, and I love it.)
"Nobody here talks to me much."
"I stay to myself, but it does get pretty lonely."
"Ole Miss Shirley, livin' in the dumpiest trailer, with no friends."
"Nobody much likes me here."

Well, Miss Shirley, you can't say that anymore, because we just met you and we like you already.

And God loves you, my dad reminded her.

I will look to say hello and visit with her from here on out. I could use some of her southern charm and she could use some of my self esteem.

Verse of the day: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Motto of the day: Smile and say hello to everyone you meet.
Photo of the day:  The shelf, circa 1995ish from Muskegon's own Pier One, was the Mr's "Honey do" project today and a shot of kitchen.  My live-in dishwasher wouldn't like that I posted a pic with dishes in the sink, but I refuse to cook* and clean-up.

Turkey Chili from THM

Homemade Wheat Thins from THM with Asiago Cheese 
1 lb ground turkey (from cage free turkeys)
1 can organic Chili beans or black beans 
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 can organic tomato sauce
12 oz organic chicken broth
Salt, pepper, garlic and onion salt to taste (I browned my ground turkey with garlic and onion)
2t Cumin
2t Chili powder Brown turkey and simmer all ingredients for 1/2 hr.  Smells like you cooked all day.
Wheat Thins from THM
3/4 C golden flax
3/4 C almond flour
2 egg whites
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T parmesan cheese (I used 2 heaping T)
1 T olive oil
1/2 t baking soda
Mix all together and roll out as thin as you can get it with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min.

Steamed Buttered Broccoli



Senior Trip Day 2

I may have to start retitling these or do daily updates on a once-a-weak post. We'll see if I keep up with the updates, I'm optimistic.

Today, we'll call "The Tin Man"
Does everything run on oil? Even our bodies? I'm beginning to think so.  With all the hub-a-ba-loo on the internet and "essential oil" companies popping up like flies and claiming to heal everything from cold sores to cancer,  you can bet I was skeptical today, as I sat through a "Young Living" presentation.

True Confessions ~ I'm actually a "Young Living" distributor, have been for quite some time.  I also watch "The Bachelor" so do with it what you will.

But today something clicked with me and "oils"  I connected the dots.  Whether it's EVOO {extra virgin olive oil for you newbies} or a drop of peppermint in you tea, our bodies need oil to function.

Fun facts: Well, two fun facts, and one serious fact.

I am related to the gentleman who started, Lehman's Peppermints.  We used to have a tiny jar of peppermint oil, which sat inside our spice cabinet. Every once in a while, we'd dip a toothpick in the jar and then float it in hot water for a peppermint tea treat.

There's a plant/oil called Melissa.

When I worked for Weight Watchers, we had a Dr. come to one of our conventions and beg us not to teach cutting the good "fats" out of our diets.  It was the 90's and EVERYONE was buying and eating {and hating} everything from fat-free sour cream to fat-free cheese and crackers.

Oil for your engine, it makes sense. No worries, I won't go fanatic on you, and I will most definitely never give medical advice, but I'm gonna give it a go, mainly peppermint, lemon, and frankincense.  {It's mentioned over 70 times in the bible} If I update daily here, I'm going to need to store up some post material, so frankincense musings will be another blog post.

While I'm going with true confessions, I also want to let you know, I'm on a healthy eating kick. My daughter's inducted me into a new club called "100 Days Of Real Food"* Ok, so there's that.

Verse of the Day: "Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky." Philippians 4:14 & 15 

Motto of the Day: Still on the "no complaining" kick. Did you listen to yourself yesterday?

Oil of the Day: Just kidding.

*Dinner on Day Two:

Grilled Turkey Burgers
1 lb of ground turkey breast
1 handful of spinach, finely chopped
2 T parsley, minced
 ... sorry no sage or thyme {insert musical notes)

1T rosemary, minced
1 t. sea salt
1 t. pepper
Grill in 1 T EVOO

Lemony Broccoli
Saute Broccoli until soft in 1-2 T EVOO
1 small chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
Squeeze 1/2 lemon over before serving.

I'm also reading the book Trim Healthy Mama {I can hardly stand to type that title, but it is a brilliant read} so no potatoes for me, the Mr. had some potato salad with his meal, compliments of his mother-in-law.

Photo of the Day: I will try to be more creative with the photos, but for a couple of days, pacify me.

Clickin' my red shoes together and can't even believe I'm calling this home for the time being!


Senior Trip Day 1

Day 1 is in the books.
Observations ~

The Mr. and I have never driven to Florida without another generation in the car! It happened to be a wonderful two days for us.

The temperature rose 90 degrees in our travels, with the last 70 degrees being in the Sunshine State.

If you do the math it was still below freezing when we woke at the 1/2 way point, Calhoun, GA.

Needless to say, we tried not to complain, knowing our destination, but dang! We used "The Bridge" from Sirus radio to entertain ourselves.  No repeats all day and we knew most of the words to every song.

The second day we listened to "Out Of The Depths" by Edgar Herrall, book on cd. He survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. It's filled with the mighty hand of God, turning everything to good, even the evil that is governments gone horribly awry. What could be more of a testament to our creator at work in our lives than; after 3 and 1/2 days floating with just a life vest in the middle of the ocean, a crate of 1/2 rotten potatoes floats within arm's length. A must read.

Day one, we spent unloading, Muskegon house dishes and decor, tax prep and bookwork, suitcases, hobby paints and sewing machine, (pins coming soon). Late in the afternoon, after my nap, I poured over some new recipes and headed out to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods in Sarasota!

It's somewhat sinful the amount of food we have at our fingertips in the first world.  If the Third World is a cup of Ugali once a day what and where is the second world?  Perhaps a crate of half rotten potatoes.

Verse of the day: "My God shall supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory." Philippians 4:19

Challenge of the day: No more complaining. Seriously, listen to everything you say ... positive or negative?

Photo of the day:
Whole Foods ~ Sarasota FL


Happy New Year!

Resolution = keep this blog updated a bit more.

God bless you all from our family to yours.

All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Just come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life

Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As deep cries out to deep
Glenn Robertson Brenton Brown

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Repost below.

11:59pm 12-31-07
She's leaving. There's no stopping her. I don't know if I would, even if I could.

There are two of us here, even when I'm alone. We amble through the rooms and rarely speak to one another. We're alike in many ways; both selfish and sentimental.

She's taking down decorations and  packing everything in sight. I follow behind her, rummaging for my most cherished possessions. I beg her to stop and reconsider. She refuses to even ponder my request and claims there are no options.
She laughs, while things fall out of my grasp and back into the storage tub abyss.

She goes about her business--gathering her trinkets and wadding my emotions into airtight bags. I can hardly breathe. I sit. I stand. I go through the motions. My feelings are ambivalent.

Go. Get outta here. You were a nuisance, anyway.
She zips another bag.
Stay. We've yet to change the world.   Couldn't we try harder?

There's defiance in her eyes, and she speaks in abrupt audacity.

My time here is done and we both know it. You didn't, or wouldn't, learn near what I wanted to teach you. You missed opportunities that may come back to haunt you. You followed no one's rules, not even your own. You hurt feelings and played silly games. You harbored bitterness and held out little hope for your own dreams. Your faith dwindled and you didn't even care. I gave you countless chances to mend and search for answers, but you were too busy being busy.

She loads the last bag and slams the lid. She refuses to look at me anymore, as she heads for the door. Her heels click clock across the floor.  I wait for the stoic gong, but hear my own voice instead.

It's not fair. You didn't grant me an extra hour in my days.  There were times I wanted you to stop so I could linger in my selfishness. You kept moving. Whenever I demanded a slower pace, it seemed as if you picked yours up. I WANTED to be different--to change--but you had your agenda and I had to abide. I'm so fed up with you--you and your stringent timeline. Go. Good riddance. I have something you don't. I've got a new opportunity and I'll not screw up this time. I can change, you'll see. I've committed to a brand spanking new schedule and I've promised to behave. I'll relish every prospect and I'll work hard on my dreams. I'll mend my mistakes and cherish every moment. Most importantly, your leaving has given me the determination to rekindle my Main relationship.

I notice a slump in her shoulders as I finish my rant. She reaches into one of her suitcases and hands me a bag with my name on it. And then she speaks--er--whispers for the last time.
"I hope you're happy now."

For a moment, I just stand there and stare. I can't believe she is gone. Then, with new resolve, I make myself a cup of tea, curl up on the sofa and open the bag to reminisce.