Sokka The Puppy

Since my mother died on Christmas Eve, I have a lot in my head to say, but the words just don’t come together.

I am trying to keep my blog active, not so much for readers, but for me, this is a huge time of change, not only for my family, but our country as well. I can’t even go there right now!

So that being said, let me officially introduce Sokka the Puppy to my blog!

He joined our family on November 12, rather a spur of the moment adoption, but one we have not regretted (well maybe when he chewed through my daughter’s laptop cord) for a moment.

We are told he is a rat terrier mix…. mixed with what is anyone’s question. Chihuahua, dachsund (he has really short legs), mini pin; we just don’t know! He was born in Mississipi, on August 10, 2016. He was surrendered to a shelter with his litter and came to Pennsylvania through a rescue.

He was just around 6 lbs when we adopted him, and as of Thursday at the vet, he is 10 lbs. He really doesn’t seem to have grown that much in size, but he has a REALLY big personality. He loves everyone, and is a very social puppy, which is what we wanted.

He has brought lots of smiles and love to us since he joined our family, and has been a great distraction in dealing with current situation!

Saturday Critters

Camera Critters

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Rest in peace Sweet Mother

My mother, Betty Miller, passed away peacefully at home with my daughter and I close by.
She had been declining in ability over the past months, and she was ready to go Home and be with our other loved ones who preceded her!


I will miss her terribly, she was a part of my every day. Up until aearly fall, we still had good conversations and even some laughs. She slowly was withdrawling more and more, and it got harder and harder to get her to open up and even smile. I cherished the good days here and there!

Watching a woman who prided herself in her independence and her sharp mind into her 90s decline in ablity was so very hard for me.

She is at peace now.

Love you Mom! Miss you terribly.

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The Unofficial End

August 31, where did summer go? We still have three weeks of meteorological summer, but in coffee season, Fall has arrived. Tara and I had our first pumpkin spice coffees that other day at Dunkin Donuts!

Many schools around here have actually started school before Labor Day, which in past years was not as common. School buses on the road again, need to plan that into my commute! I do pass through a school zone and bus stops on my 2.7 mile commute. We have had lots of back to school shoppers at work this week, back to school supplies right across the aisle from HALLOWEEN candy! People comment that it is too early! Why yes it might be, but that is the retail business!


Photo credit: Martha Kasper

In some ways summer has just flown right on by! It seems like it was just Memorial Day, and I was enjoying a few days off from work, where did June, July and August go.

I did absolutely nothing summer like this year. Juggling schedules to spend time together with Tara with our work schedules was difficult, we never really had a chance to make a day (or evening) trip to the beach. Tara did take a drive to Atlantic City the other night with a friend, I am glad she is a confident enough driver, and I have confidence enough in her, that she is able to make impromptu road trips like that! I miss the ocean. I am hoping to take a couple extra days off mid-week soon, hopefully a day trip to the ocean will take place!

Today and tomorrow are again my “weekend”. My two days off from work. I continue to work 4 out of my 5 shifts as closing shifts. It is beginning to wear me down. We have finally hired someone new, and she seems very promising. A young mom who is working hard with two jobs to make ends meet and get out of debt. She is my ticket out of closing shift hell!

I am on a wild tangent ride here today aren’t I? I am just feeling trapped and stagnant right now. Work, home, grocery shopping, repeat. That is all I feel like I do.

I stress over grocery shopping in the worst way. While yes, I am a huge proponent of on-line grocery orders, once I hit Aldi’s, and realized the huge savings on many things we use, i can’t justify the time savings over the money savings. I just stress over providing a good variety of food for my mom who can’t physically shop for herself any longer and rarely will tell me what she wants. Aside from the regular items she uses each day. We are always out of something that is vital to someones day it seems. I can’t keep up some weeks with the bread, milk cereal and peanut butter. Yes, we sell all those things at Walgreens, but some shifts I barely have time to grab them. I barely have time to pee (lol!).

So for today,I will try to accomplish some things on my “at home” to do list and maybe relax a bit; read or just stare at the wall! I do need to do some tidying up. I was happy to see I had some help with dishes that accumulated while I was at work yesterday! Maybe the young folks in the house are starting to realize I am at a breaking point. Mom does what she can, but it is not much, and it should not be, but i can’t be the only one in a house of three + one!

I need some decompression time. I lost it on my poor manager yesterday. She was giving some “managing/coaching” advice to me, purely innocent, but I took it as criticism and BURST INTO TEARS, on the sales floor. I had about 5 different things going on at once, and just fell to pieces! UGH. I knew it was coming, I was moments away from it on my way into work, so as embarrassed as I was, I was not surprised!


If you want to watch a funny show (again that off on a tangent thing!), check out Odd Mom Out on Bravo! It has two seasons 10 or 12 episodes each, only 20 some minutes. Very funny!

Well, I guess I will close for now. Although I really don’t have much to say, I am trying to at least update her once a week!

Have a great day!




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Black Cat Appreciation Day

Dont’ really have much going on to blog about, so I thought I would share some photos of the crazy kitty we call Jack! Anyone that things black cats are bad luck are missing out! I have owned two, and they were most amazing!

Jack came to us by way of the Montgomercy County SPCA on my birthday weekend three years ago on my birthday weekend. Just three weeks after my sweet faithful Princess crossed the rainbow bridge. We were not in the position for another dog, but the house just seemed so quiet with just one cat. It was the wrong time of year for finding litters of kittens, so we hit up the rescues and the SPCA. I found Jack (he was called Riley at the time) on the website, and through some insider information found out that he had been surrendered due to allergies.

Tara and I visited twice, and decided he was for us1 He was a little scruffy when we picked him up, and his tail seemed to go on forever!

It did not take too long for Jack and Kovu to learn to co-exisit. Kovu had shared his homes with many cats and two dogs, at one point, but it had been awhile since he shared space with another cat!


Sometimes I feel that Jack is channeling Princess. Quite often he acts more like a dog than a cat. As soon as he was comfortable at home, he would often sleep in spots that Princess slept, in the open, on the floor. I guess it made me feel good that maybe her spirit was visiting me. I missed her (still do 3 1/2 yrs later) so much.



He has grown into his tail, and has LOTS of hair! He likes to be center of attention, but is much less “clingy” than Kovu. he does however need to be where the action is most times. Lately I call him shadow. He follows (more like leads the way) no matter where we go. It is very difficut to walk with a cat under your feet!

He likes to be outside, which we allow for short times periods when we are outside. He does escape on his own now and then, but usually will return running with a shake of the treat bag, or a scary noise!



Jack likes to hunt. This summer he was on a mouse hunting spree. I think it was 4 or 5 mice in a weeks time. He would bring them to the door, so proud of himself. He also caught a small snake which made it’s way into the house, and resided in our kitchen for a few days before we found it! We were not amused!


So, if you are thinking of adopting a cat, don’t rule out the black ones! Superstitions are just silly, we’ve had no more bad luck than usual since Jack joined our family!

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Half Past Summer

It seems the longer I put off updating my blog, the harder it is to know where to start.

I finally made some hosting changes, and now my site will just be Once upon a time, I had time for THREE blogs, before Instagram, Twitter and Facebook took over the social media world. I shared my photos on one, our adventures and recipes and such on another, and the third I had created as a local blog when we moved back to PA. Who has time for that anymore? Certainly not me. Photos are shared instantly on Instagram, thoughts are shared on Facebook, etc. I really keep this blog as a journal of sorts for myself. Hopefully since I finally made this consolidation I will not feel so overwhelmed.

It feels good to have everything under one roof. Like downsizing my stuff, I am down sizing my digital presence too! Let’s not talk about all the digital photo files I am trying to purge.

Who can believe that we are already 1/2 way through July? It is flying by so quickly. Work keeps me busy and tired. In a good way these days. Not stressful for the most part (except for some people issues.) I think we are in a good place right now, except for being down a key holder once again. They are hard positions to fill. Full time retail, with the need for a very flexible schedule, days, nights, weekends, holidays and truthfully not the best in pay. As much as having a Mon-Fri, set schedule job might be, I have gotten used to being able to have a morning off, or a Monday off. Weekends are not always what it is all about! All that aside, I do enjoy my job, and being tired at the end of the work day isn’t the worst thing in the world!

Tara is working 4-5 days a week, and many times we are on opposite shifts, so we do not get to spend too much time together. We have had a very few adventures since she got her license. That’s okay. She is able to come and go as she pleases, not having to rely on me. A freedom she waited a long time for but in the end, the wait paid off. She was able to get a nice relatively new car, that I feel comfortable with her driving.

This is her adorable 2013 Chevy Spark. I get to drive it sometimes. We traded in our white Dodge Caravan to help with the down payment on this one, and I drive Mom’s mini van that she is not using anymore to go to and from work.IMG_4236 (2)

Tara finally received her high school diploma in June. Better late than never. She had been done classes since January, but had to wait for the diploma. No post high school education plans right now. That is fine with me. I don’t want her to start off with college debt for a degree in something that she may not use. She really is not sure what she wants to do. Right now food service/hospitality, are what she is looking at. Tara is not a morning person, so an 8am-5pm job is probably not for her right now!

Mom turned 92 on July 4th. We had a small gathering at my sister Linda’s new house. She moved into a 55+ older community just the week before. It was nice to gather with a family and friends. I did not get too many photos, it was a little hectic and I had worked early in the day after falling in the freezer at work the day before, and was not feeling my best!

Mom with Ben and Jessica Kepler (grandson and daughter-in-law of our friend Bobbie.) Bobbie has baked mom a birthday cake just about every year I can remember recently.


I spent a day out by myself taking some photos with my “real” camera. Something I really don’t make much time for these days. It is just so much easier to grab the IPhone. Sometimes you just need to pull out the DSLR and shoot away.

I spend a couple hours at Pearl S Buck house. The grounds are beautiful, it was quiet and peaceful and just what I needed that particular day.

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I can’t think of too much more right now. I still need to get more of Robin’s letters transcribed. I have five out of the next days off, so hopefully I can get to some more of my “to do list”!

Oh, the one thing Tara and I have been finding time for together is taking a ride, even if it is 9 or 10pm looking for Pokemon in the Pokemon Go game. It is fun for us. (I know some “grown ups” thing it is dumb!), but Tara grew up (or evolved) with Pokemon, they were a huge part of her childhood, so an activity that we can spend a little bit of time together after our busy days is a good thing in my book!



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Countdown to Christmas – Tis the season

Day #1

Last time I had time to post was back in September! Time is just moving far too fast for me. I feel like one day just blends into the next with little time to enjoy things I love. Sometimes I am not even sure I really know what those things are anymore! Coffee, I enjoy coffee, that is one thing that does not change.

Herz aus Kaffeebohnen

I feel like I am here to just move from one persons crisis or dilemna to the next, and figure out a way to try and keep everyone semi happy. I don’t feel like anyone in our home has really been happy for a very long time.

Thanksgiving came and went with everyone talking about what they are thankful and grateful for this year. I mean, we all are healthy, we have a roof over our head, I am employed, as is Tara and our income is sufficient. These are all things we should be thankful for and I am. There are just things that make day to day life not always so enjoyable. Thanksgiving itself was not without it’s stressors. I was off (which I continue to say every year, I would rather work the holidays.) It is always good to see the twins, (Spencer and Avery), they can usually turn a frown upside down. Avery said “I love you Martha” and that melted my heart.



Our “unwanted” houseguest was gone for 3 months, but against my strongest wishes has returned. Once again unconditional love and enabling to the extreme have won out over common sense and learning from the past.

I have had major changes at work. We had a huge turn over in staff, and just when we were about out of that problem, our store manager, who over four years had also become my friend and someone I could talk too about just about anything was unexpectedly transferred (not that in retail it is ever really expected!). So in the midst of training a new staff, we are also getting accustomed to a new manager. Very nice person, but a completely different management style than the previous.

What used to feel like family, a place that I looked forward to going to is not quite a “homey” right now. I am sure in time all will work out! We have also been crazy busy, it takes longer to do everything with a new staff. Most days I don’t feel like I had a moment to really breathe, let alone eat or pee! Makes the shifts go very fast most of the time!


A favorite photo I took our first Christmas back in PA from Florida. When I wasn’t working and had time to be creative!

I always come up with great photo of blog “projects” in my head at the beginning of a new year, month or season, but after a few days, I get sidetracked. This year, I am going to TRY (no promises) to past something about the holidays each day. A favorite song, memory or recipe, or photo. We will see how that goes. A blogging advent calendar of sort!

Well, gotta run. It is 2pm on my day off and I have acccomplished next to nothing for myself and I need to drive Tara to work in 1/2 hr!










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Seasons have come and seasons have gone since I last updated this  space. The last 18-24 months here in our home were difficult ones, our home was filled with bad energy and stress.

About three weeks ago, the stress producing bad energy was finally removed from our home, and once again, we have peace and something that resembles normal, our normal, maybe not everyone’s normal!

I won’t go into details, but, a family member was allowed to move into our home for a “short time” which turned into close to 24 months. It was never something Tara or I wanted, but something my mother insisted on. While our apartment is plenty big for three, a fourth person was just too much. Add to that that this person was a dishonest, arrogant SOB, who took advantage of my mother, the only person left who still “had his back”

As a family, several times we attempted to have him removed, but we were always vetoed by mom. She is the elder in the family, and while I was in my legal rights to have him removed, she had her rights to allow him to stay. This situation would have been a great study in co-dependent and enabling relationships.

The time line of this situation started back in August, 2013, and finally came to an end August, 2015. There were short periods of time when this family member resided with others, but he always wound up back her due to my mom’s love for him and her much displaced compassion. Let’s just say the love and compassion were not a two way street, she received heart break, lies and much disrespect in return.

I now see how easy it is for families to fall into such traps and deep trouble that many times end in violence. I can now see how easy it for older folks who don’t have some one “good” watching over them to be taken advantage of and abused. There were times when both Tara and I feared for our safety and we learned pretty quickly to not leave anything of valuable laying about.

During all of this, last October, my mother wound up hospitalized from a broken femur. She spent a total of three weeks in the hospital recuperating from the surgery and doing rehab. It was tough on us all. For me trying to work, be at home, and at the hospital was exhausting.

I am finding it had to believe it has been 11 months! The holidays came and went, working in retail kind of takes the joy out of the holidays. Winter, Spring, and Summer have past.

I really took notice last nights that the days are getting shorter. By 7:30 darkness is setting in! I love the long days of summer, I don’t think winter would be so bad if the day light hours were not so short!

Since I last blogged, the twins started to walk, turned 1, and now are 20 months old!


Tara turned 18.


We had a health scare for Tara which had her inpatient at CHOP for 4 days. Thankfully misdiagnosed.

Mom turned 91.

2015-09-10_10-37-51_20674734464_o (1)

Tara has one semester to finish high school (due to above illness) and is working as a server at Elm Terrace.

I still work at Walgreens, and finally as we approach the 6th year, our business is really picking up.

That’s it for now, I want to get this posted….

Love and lattes,




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My Day in a Camden Parking Garage…

Too too long again since I have shared photos on this blog. It really is hard to be “creative” in a sense with so much negativity around in our home. It is exhausting just being here sometimes, once I walk back through the door all energy and ambition I might have while I am out is just zapped away.

It is hard to believe that spring has come and gone and we are 1/2 way through summer. As usual we have no big summer plans, affording a vacation away from home is just not something we can do at this point. Tara and I spend lots of time on “road trip” adventures just to kill time out of the house.

As she has done in the past four years, Tara attended Vans Warped Tour in Camden, New Jersey two weeks ago. This is a HUGE all day outside concert with more bands that I can name. It is a great time for Tara and her friends.

This year, as I have also done the past four years, I was the transportation to and from! I learned through experience that it is best for me to stay in the area due to the distance, traffic and uncertainty of how long they will stay. I found that the parking garage is a comfortable place to spend the day enjoying some alone time in my car. DVDs, IPad, books and snacks make the day quite a little get away for me!

I was kept company on this day by the cutest baby Robin’s. They were big enough to be out of the nest, but not yet big enough to fly. Mama Robin was close by all day and I could hear them “talking” to one another.

Looking out over just a small part of the concert venue for the day.

As I was parked on top of a parking garage, I had a great view of what I thought was the Super Moon, however, I was a night early. I got some pretty cool shots of the night before the Super Moon moon!


Philly from across the river.

Ben Franklin Bridge – I went for a walk and forgot to bring my normal lens so I could not get the whole thing in the frame! This is my favorite bridge.

The shark and flower are part of the aquarium.

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Fabulous Friday

Feeling Beachie

Steely Dan reminds me of of my college days at Paul Smiths (they are on the radio now)
I find coffee very satisfying.
My least favorite people are mean people.
Too bad we need pay for the things we want.


Half-Past Kissin' Time

Friday…what a great day it has been.
I really didn’t do anything special but something I was stressing about in the end worked out okay.

Tara and I headed out to do grocery shopping and I was so excited to come home with bags and bags of food to fill up the fridge and pantry for $117 from Bottom Dollar foods. We are feeding an extra mouth right now and I was all about quantity.

Tara’s friend (boyfriend) is visiting for a few days as well so we have a full house this week and are actually feeding 2 extra mouths I guess. Justin doesn’t eat much though!

We are finally getting Tara’s birthday present tonight. A small tattoo. She has patiently waited a month for this until we had the $$$. I am sitting here patiently waiting, people watching and listening to some good tunes that have been playing.


What else was up this week? Oh, spring is here but it is not yet warm. Every day we get a little closer.

Princess 2 years ago… I miss me sweet girl.

I work tomorrow, and then have off until Wednesday at 10am. Yeah me!

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