Please take a moment to read this story and share with anyone that has been or might be walking the El Camino in Spain. A fellow Thunderbird is missing on the trail. Her family and friends are working tirelessly and with so much hope to find her. Please share with any contacts in Spain or on the Camino.

Help us Find Denise

After necessary dry-fit (fast) purchases @rei, creative packing, arranging animal care, we uber ’d to SEATAC through some of the worst Seattle traffic in months. We are outbound to our first stop. London. I’ve never been. Amidst a bit of work, we’ll mostly holiday. Looking forward to in flight libations!

After a bit of work, we’ll visit Keerat’s brother at his England writing school and then we will meet his folks to begin our experience walking El Camino.

Grain. Less.

About 30 days ago I removed most of the grain I was eating from my diet. Not all. I agree with research “Consuming whole grains as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.” We need some. Whole. Everything whole seems to be ok. But we don’t need a carbohydrate addict’s amount. 


What defines a carb addict? Like any addiction I would expect. The more you have, the more you want. You are not fulfilled. It always seems to be things we shouldn’t have too much of that we want. When I have as many fresh strawberries as I want, it is just enough. I don’t want to buy another carton.

Things I can’t tolerate have seemed to justify my need to have some of America’s finest creations to the consumer movement in [insert problem ingredient here]-free diet! 

  • Gluten intolerant (caused by genetics in combination with stress.) 
  • Lactose intolerant (caused by the gluten intolerance.) 
  • Soy intolerant (caused by the saturation of soy in everything GF.) 
  • Fructose intolerant (caused by the saturation of high fructose sweeteners – NOT ALL ARE FROM CORN, some are from agave, honey and fruits – into GF foods so kids will eat garbanzo bean flour.)

So….when I can eat something and it falls in the pizza, dinner roll, toasted bread, grilled sandwich, soda cracker, cinnamon roll category, I most certainly justify it going into my mouth and system. However, I have replaced my happy gluten eating (and drinking) days with different carbohydrates. Thanks in a significant part to our innovative, consumer-driven food economy. 

Gluten-free foods typically have higher carbs than not. Rice for sure. Others maybe not so different. But the added sweeteners and starches make up the difference typically 2-3 fold. If something isn’t sticky and doesn’t rise, add sugar!

A friend of mine from Oregon shared about a grain free diet her health-astute mother was trying. I decided that maybe I would take it on to see if I could. Of course, with a transitional period. 

For one month I have been grain-less. So has my husband. By  his choice to join me. We decided lunch is the only time grain will be consumed. That means no rice (Indian!) or corn (Mexican!) or pasta (Italian!) meals for dinner. It seems my ranch-life menus are coming in handy! Meat. Potatoes. Vegetable. Check. 

This means meat and fruits for breakfast. I cannot do eggs (except baked in.) I am not intolerant physically, I am intolerant mentally (Jimmy Fallon ‘EW’!) It would be SO much easier on me if I did eggs. It means meat and vegetables for dinner. Many times salad and beans. Potato chips are OK. Lunch can include a very treasured gluten free bread ham and cheese (aged cheddar is free of lactose!) and a lemon wow-brand cookie or some sort of Mexican corn-flour centered meal. See some menus below.

What has this changed:

  • little to no sleepiness mid-morning (=productivity increase, quality increase),
  • reduction of weight by 3 lbs,
  • almost – key descriptor – no cravings; week 2 I could have eaten a whole loaf of GF bread (and I did eat more than a good share of GF pizza during a lunch that weekend),
  • a reasonable appreciation for grain-based products; they are fillers and they stay around if you know what I mean. 

Typical Menus: 

Breakfast: uncured bacon (Trader Joes or Costco have the best quality+price) cooked in the oven (cook the whole pack to almost done and then finish what you want each morning) + banana, strawberry, tangerine or pear or combo (all are low’ish fructose), sometimes a smoothie with coconut milk (unsweetened!, plus cocoa), 

Lunch: GF sandwich (uncured ham with aged cheddar, tunafish with canola mayo)+ chips+ lots of veggies (celery, carrots, green peppers, cucumbers, broccoli are all low in fructose) OR tostadas, nachos (aged cheese) or some asian meal if I am in the city. 

Dinner: any meat grilled or broiled (sirloin, chicken, pork tenderloin) or marinated in Sriracha sort of marinate, green beans, corn (not great on the fructose level) and sometimes a potato (boiled and then fried, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and pepper) plus fresh veggies. 

So now, I think I’ll try to reduce potatoes and maybe go ½ grain at lunch. 

February 25th. Billie was born.

Billie LaRene was born on this day in 1944. It was her birthday.

To us it is still her birthday. It has been 10 years since we celebrated her birthday with her. Since her physical departure.

She loved birthdays and made them so special for those she loved. I’m sure we didn’t do the same for hers. But she loved giving. She loved seeing others receive. Her son inherited this trait.

It means we got way too many ‘things’ for every single holiday, especially Christmas. She was far from materialistic in my mind however. It was all about celebration, giving and receiving by others. It also illustrated her opportunity. One that her parents didn’t have. Typical for Boomers raised by Silents.

She had many roles. More than anyone I have known or do know today. Wife, housewife, mother, stay-at-home mom (for our youngest days), sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, cousin, friend, caregiver, hired hand, hay-crew, cattle herder, gardner, church band member, community advocate, artist of all types of paint, chalk and clay, musician of harmonica, piano, banjo and fiddle, and across all of these roles, she was a nurse.

Being raised by a nurse means you learn things about how to take care of minor issues. It means you see care being given to family members, neighbors, and animals. It means you hear stories about care, strife and pain. It means you trust the system of care because you see it through your Mom’s perspective.

Her favorite part of being a nurse was her time with any birth. The OB existed in the big hospitals where she trained but not in the rural hospital where she last worked as Director of Nursing. A new baby being born fueled her for weeks. She even saw hope in the many babies she brought into the world born with fetal alcohol syndrome. They were a new breathing human life. However challenging that life was going to be.

It was very difficult to top Mom’s gift-giving, gift wrapping, party creating talent. One year I recall very well, Dad decided to get her a poodle puppy. We had lost our Chippie the year before and the house was void of a lap dog. It was a family effort and we ‘wrapped’ a small box and put the buff colored toy/miniature puppy inside. She nearly caused the thing a heart-attack when she opened the box expecting something not living and breathing.

She loved it. She loved the surprise. And the puppy. And she loved all of us for making it special. 

I got the measles

In 1989. From about an hour in a Lincoln, Nebraska dorm room of the soon-to-be-sick friend who had already left for the Summer. I would be contagious for two weeks during which I went home for Summer break and attended my brother’s high school graduation including hugs down a receiving line. It was Mother’s task to inform the town and send out the alerts as a community medical professional. 

I HAD been vaccinated. Before 1971. It was an outbreak that affected somewhat rare cases like mine but more commonly the inner city kids and minority children nationally who were not vaccinated. The news about risk then was about the kids and areas without access to minimum healthcare. 

Today we face another challenge and changes this from being about poverty and access. The choice parents have taken and some doctors support, to not vaccinate for reasons that are serious, connected to effects such as autism

I am not an expert in this debate, I am curious and only linked by having had the disease as a young adult. Here is a good summary of the history. 

As a ‘rich’ country, we are a society that has lived with so much progress. We have not had to live amidst suffering. We have had access to healthcare (largely) including vaccinations that prevent suffering and disease. Even the poor parts of our cities that are affected by health issues due to lack of access, we largely live separate from and ignore. 

The infectious diseases of third world and emerging economies are a key reason why many of those regions remain third, or emerging. We hear but we don’t realize what it means to live without fear of getting a disease that has no cure, that could result in death. What it means to those who see Polio every day, and wish for the day it will finally be eradicated

There will still be the poor communities that face risk during this measles outbreak, as they did in 1989. But there are also a new group of ‘rich’ kids facing risks. I am curious about what this means for the future of society, their future. In 2006, the response to the 1989 outbreak meant a national immunization program. Even amidst the possible link to autism which was first documented by a doctor in 1998. He was later stripped of his medical license. Concerns continued and certain substances were to be removed from the vaccination. All of this is progress. We should challenge and question. We also should weight the risks. 

I was really sick. I remember how bad my abdominal muscles hurt from coughing. I wondered when I would not be on the couch coughing laying down. I wondered what people do without a mother that is a nurse. I never thought I wouldn’t be ok and get better. I didn’t realize the risk of this illness either, not to me or society. I also got the flu that Summer, one of two times in my life. I expect my immunity was affected. 

A silver lining, we went to Spain to visit our exchange student that same year. The ’freshman 15’ I put on the two years previously were readily shed during that ill Spring. I could enjoy my CocaCola swimsuit and the beaches of Alicante with a bit more confidence. 

Valentine’s Day Reflection

When I think about this holiday, I don’t wonder about flowers, a romantic dinner or a date with the love of my life. We do that regularly without a holiday. It might be because we both prefer experiences over things and resist commercialization.

It might be because for me, it was such a special holiday as a child. A special holiday only through the creativity and love that my Mother added to the ‘things’. On Valentine’s Day, I think of my Mother.

I recall how much joy it gave her to create such a special occasion for my brother Clint and I. Helping us with our school Valentine’s, baking for the multi-district party and helping us (mostly me) look festive. For us, it was always a big stuffed animal (not the tiny fit-on-a-box kind) and some chocolates. She prepared every detail as if she were being judged at a craft contest, like we were the most important recipient of all. Our Valentine’s were perfect. Even with my Dad (who also got chocolates) it was about hearts, red, pink, love, family, friends and fun.

While I only remember one actual teddy bear (a red one I creatively named Valentine), I have vivid memories of the joy that my Mom showed, her character, her giving nature and her creativity. She didn’t teach me things matter by celebrating this and other holidays. She taught me the joy of giving, the joy of creativity and the joy of seeing others joy.

It brings me joy to see the ‘kids focus’ on Facebook today. To see parents instilling love amidst the floral, fuzzy and sweet things that make it special. To bring meaning to retail madness. Amidst it all, experiences are had and I think many are good ones today and will create memories like mine.

Cheers to all who love and celebrate Valentine’s Day, double cheers to the parents who are creating heart-filled memories for their kids.

Thank you Mom for your lessons of love when you were here with us. And now, for being present in spirit so we can feel close to those lessons, so we can feel love through the joy of giving.

Created by Water, Beauty & Distaster

January 5, 2015 | Taurus Daily Horoscope | Beauty for the Soul

You may experience an intense appreciation for beauty today. These feelings could drive you to seek beauty for beauty’s sake, or you may find that you are learning to recognize the inherent beauty found everywhere and in all things. You may discover that beauty has a particularly profound effect on your spirit and senses as you move through your day. 

The drive I take into the foothills of the Cascades to train my horses multiple times per week, is one of the more scenic in the Seattle area. The mountains and their balancing rivers are magnificent, humbling and hold differing types of beauty based on your proximity and place.

Yesterday’s horoscope was a safe generalization to appeal to a large global audience and certainly made me mindful about beauty. However, as I drove to the barn, I encountered water across the roadway. It had only risen further, near impassable, upon my return. I followed the slightly smaller Toyota for fear of being stuck on the other side. It was a horrific and historic day for many in the Norhtwest. Record rainfall created landslides burying homes and removing others from their foundations.

This area of magnificent beauty is moments and inches away from massive force and change on an almost daily basis. Every year there are stories of lives lost in the water within minutes of Seattle. Seasoned, Coast Guard caliber talent. It knows no skill level in these times of severe weather.

Water has always been an element of peace, calm and reassurance for me. It is a common factor in my dreams and and common component of my most treasured experiences. I learned to ‘swim’ before I could walk and was on water skis before I was a teen. It is a balancing and defining component of the geographical places I have hold most dear in my experiences. Sydney Australia. Cleveland Ohio USA. Glenwood Iowa USA. Seattle Washington USA.

As I consider this centering natural element and the recent destruction including those still missing in the Java Sea, I am reminded of our mortality and our smallness as creatures of a larger Earth and Universe. I am reminded about the daily and hourly strife faced by so many around the world.  It is water that defines our survival. It is the defining element of our search to sustain life in another world.

We should never take it for granted. We should not let it waste needlessly. (TIP: we save the water we run to get to hot water when cooking or cleaning.) We should support organizations like (they have rights to use my Twitter account for their tweets!)

We should appreciate the magnificent beauty that is water and the fine balance between this beauty and natural disaster. I hope you are more aware, reminded and will help create awareness in others. Don’t get a glass of water at a restaurant if you don’t plan to drink it. 

2014 Milestones

Jan: Vegas – Helen – Omaha
Feb: SelfSpark – SanFran
Mar: Scotland – WWIN – Purpose Drives Performance Blog
Apr: LA – SanFran – FBLA – golf
May: Whistler Birthday – Houston – Karen
Jun: Gram 96th B’day – Butte – Strategy at Pinchot
Jul: Gram death – Denver with Lefler’s
Aug: LA – Dhann begins
Sep: EU – Phoenix – Boston, Sustainable Brands New Metrics – Vancouver In-laws
Oct: AOII Reunion – Shawn Mullins – Dhann 3
Nov: 9 years – Palo Alto
Dec: 4 yrs Seattle – Husker Volleyball finals – Lefler’s Christmas

Sitting in red Husk-ER clothes amidst 8,000+ Husk-Y fans this past Friday night was an amazing experience of talent, resilience, and intense athleticism! (…as well as a highlight of our year, selfishly). After losing to a team ranked 11 points below in a home court advantage sealed by a 34 win streak, the Huskies and their fans were stunned and quiet at the outcome. Our Lady Huskers brought everything they had. The following night BYU would demonstrate their un-ranked talent in a new sort of winning way. To them the floor did not exist as the ball rarely hit it.

Attending Husker volleyball games at the Coliseum was a highlight of my undergraduate college experience over two decades ago.  (A different kind of great in comparison to its neighbor, Memorial Stadium (football).)

I am thankful I played the sport in high school (even if my spikes were barely over the net let alone laser driven into the opposing front line!) In the past few years I have come to understand the importance of sports for girls from an early age. It builds leadership. It build confidence, courage, the experience of losing, the experience of feedback, team and communication in high pressure situations.

It was a highlight to cheer for #10 Alisha Ostrander. She is from the small towns (consolidation) where I grew up in Western Nebraska. She is also a cousin. As with all of the team, they were intently focused, gracious and very team oriented in support.

A More Informed Voter

With every election in the state of Washington, each registered voter receives a booklet (see pic) outlining all of the candidates, bills and any other info specific to that election. I have been a registered voter in five states across the many years since I turned 18: Nebraska, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, and Washington. I was even able to submit an absentee ballot during the historic ‘hanging chad’ election of 2000. Only in Iowa did a comparative support accompany your ballot. While the internet research was an option used, it was difficult to navigate an unbiased source for bills and candidates, in any of these states.

In the very Democrat state of Washington, you receive detailed information about each candidate and a pro/con statement about every bill.

While the best voters do not rely solely on this booklet and actually meet and talk to each candidate running for office, I feel like this information fosters a more informed voter. I feel less tied to ‘D’ or ‘R’ and more interested in connecting to position, commitments (I know, these can be lies), and technical information like years in office.