Photos of Brady

Monday, January 31, 2005


I made the trip to Shawnee just fine. It was a long trip the last hour mainly because I was so tired, but George and his Westie Murphy and cat Cheetah met me with smiles, wagging tail, and boredom respectively.

Friday went by so quickly. I spent most of the day with Matt while George went to the airport to pick up John and Barbara. By the time I got back to George’s in the afternoon, things were in full swing. Late afternoon snow began to fall. The flakes were big and fluffy, and didn’t take any time to accumulate. Barbara hasn’t seen much snow in her life, so it was a real treat. Actually it was more like the beautiful snow one hopes to see on Christmas Eve, and it added a lot to the festive air. We visited and had happy hour until leaving for our favorite Old Shawnee Pizza. My friend Diane and her family met us there, and we had a great time. John hadn’t seen her for almost eight years. There is nothing better than family, friends, pizza, beer, and snow to make an evening complete.

When we got back to George’s house John made a little snowman. I am sure that he will post a picture of it on his site today. While everyone else watched TV, I pitched my blanket on the floor and went to sleep. It was a good day.

Saturday dawned gray and cold. There were still intermittent snow showers, but not enough to keep John from running with his high school chum. Diane came to take Barb and I shopping midmorning, and we had a wonderful time. Finding an 80% off already clearance marked merchandise is like waving a red flag at a herd of bulls. When we returned to the house, the guys were ready to leave for Dad’s party.

It was a lovely afternoon. George had spearheaded the effort to get Dad’s gift from the three of us. Dad had worked as a railway mail clerk in the early fifties. We got him a paver with his name and dates of service to be set in the walkway in front of Union Station where he worked. It was a wonderful gift for Dad on his 80th birthday, and he was touched beyond words. They had given us a certificate to present him for the house, so he will always have a reminder of the gift.

All in all it was a great day. Many of Dad’s Shrine friends dropped by, and all of his family was there. It was great for Dad to see Matt again, as it had been twenty years since they had seen each other. John hadn’t seen him since he was thirteen, so it was fun.

Sunday morning came all too soon. As we left the house for breakfast it began to snow again. Before I knew it George, John and Barbara were on their way to the airport and I was headed southeast. It was a gray, foggy day, but I ran out of the snow just outside of Kansas City. Aside from having trouble staying awake, the trip home to Smalltown was a safe one, and in the early afternoon I made the final turn…..down my country road.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, January 27, 2005

This is my Friday. When I get home from work, I will get in the car and drive down my country road for Shawnee, Kansas. This weekend marks my dad’s 80th birthday. John and Barbara are flying in to KC from New Orleans, and we will all stay with my other brother George. There will be a nice party on Saturday and a dinner following that. It will be a nice day for Dad, and he hasn’t seen us all together since we gathered in New Orleans for my brother John’s son’s graduation from high school a year and a half ago.

My brothers and I haven’t been together since my 50th birthday celebration last March. It is always fun. I gave John a new joke book for Christmas, so maybe he will have some jokes prepared for happy hour. He is our resident comedian. I can tell a decent story, although both brothers would say “just the facts, ma’am.” I enjoy all of the elements that go into making a good story, but the boys just want the bottom line. So, my talent is usually wasted on them. Ha. George and Barbara are the audience, although both are extremely funny and clever in their own right. They just don’t have a chance. Once John gets rolling, stand back. The hilarity begins and the fun doesn’t stop.

This will be a triple whammy for the blog world, as John and my mom will be absent from their blogs as well. Mom and Rocky are leaving today for a short trip, and of course John will leave tomorrow for KC. I trust that things will be fine until we get home on Sunday.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you all just as soon as I return home….to my country road.

Until next time,


Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Half way there.

Thank goodness the drama and intrigue is almost over. I will have to wait several days for the final resolution, but I can say that so far everything has transpired in my favor. Actually it is more a case of right and truth prevailing. Once everything has been resolved, I will let you know. Thank you for the support, keep those good thoughts and prayers coming, as the hardest part of the conflict is still to come.

On a lighter note, I am wondering if I am the only person on the face of the earth getting all of the after holiday catalogs? My mailbox has been inundated with them for several weeks. I haven’t had either the right frame of mind or the time to look at them yet, but I can see that it will take a substantial chunk of time now.

Usually I enjoy looking at them even if I have no intention of buying anything, but I have made several lifestyle changes for this year.
1. Save money.
2. Declutter the house.
3. Simplify my life.
4. Organize whatever is left after the first three steps are accomplished.
5. Enjoy the result!

Life is hectic even here in Smalltown. We are too busy. Life wasn’t meant to be lived this way, and I suppose that I have only myself to blame. We make our own choices. This year I plan to distress life by just simplifying the way I live. Choices we make add to the stress of what we have to deal with and accomplish each day, and I evidently have made some errant choices along the way.

Since Smalltown is a rural community, you have to drive twenty or thirty minutes to get to a bigger town. That means that shopping, banking, dry cleaning, and the gym take an hour longer than they should to accommodate the driving time. For those of you who live in large cities, you win. This is a drop in the bucket to the drive time you experience each day. I need to organize a little better to save time and make my trips pay.

By simplifying life, changing priorities, saving money instead of spending it, and being more organized, my stress level should lower automatically. However, the biggest part of the stress we carry around comes from the baggage we choose, or think we have to carry around with us each day.

I choose peace. Enjoy sunrises, sunsets, the stars and the moon more. Listen to the birds sing, take time to smell the roses, and worry less. Letting go of the gotta’s and have to’s is hard. I say those things a lot, but I will strive to say “no” more and only do the things I want to do or are absolutely necessary. There will be some things in there that I don’t want to do, of course, but by eliminating the things I agree to or get myself into without thinking first, life should improve greatly.

That said, I “have to” get ready for work…..here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Into the lion’s den.

There are times that life is indeed stranger than fiction. In a tiny place like Smalltown, one doesn’t expect to find all the elements of a spy thriller. In the course of investigating the situation in which I have found myself embroiled, an intricate plot has emerged.

Today I will return to work with the people who sought to destroy me for personal gain, and due to the nature of the situation I cannot let on that I know anything about their nefarious plans. The investigation is still ongoing.

Betrayal is difficult to wrap your mind around. Although the reason why is more clear to me than the fact that a person has embarked on a course of action that will negatively affect so many other people, and has set into motion a chain of events that has changed the fabric of our workplace permanently.

My first inclination was to cry, scream, and demand justice. In truth? I will do nothing that would tip my hand. I will put one foot in front of the other, keep my head high, and keep on keeping on. I have put all of this into the capable hands of my boss, and as hard as the waiting is, I learned long ago that the wheels of justice turn slowly.

It is not my battle now. This is where faith comes to the fore and trust enters in. I thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and messages of support. As I have written before, I am already a winner. I learned long ago that the character, grace, and purpose with which you live your life is more evident in the dark times than in the good ones. Sometimes trials can be a good thing.

Here’s to the hope of better days ahead.

Until tomorrow,


Monday, January 24, 2005


I am just one person, but I want to add my sadness to that of America at the news of Johnny Carson’s death yesterday.

I can remember where I was and what I was doing at the time I heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot, Elvis Presley died, and Desert Storm began. There have been many national tragedies that have captivated America. The Iran hostage crisis, the Challenger disaster, the Columbine incident, just to name a few.

Although I like Jay Leno and have watched the Tonight Show on occasion since Johnny’s retirement, it has never been the same. Johnny Carson WAS the Tonight Show. His talent was a complete package, and just a blank look into the camera could send me into fits of laughter. The rapport and chemistry that he shared with Ed McMahon is unparalleled.

As long as I can remember anything Johnny Carson was a part of the American fabric, intricately woven into our lives in the same way as Tom Brokaw, Bob Hope, and a host of other entertainers, TV personalities, recording artists, and politicians.

Yesterday I was talking to my brother John on the phone, and during the course of the conversation he asked me if I knew Johnny had died. Although I knew he had been ill with emphysema, I wasn’t aware he was critical. For a man who was such a public persona, his private life was just that. Private.

Johnny Carson, passing from the scene at the age of 79.

He will be missed.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, January 22, 2005


Today I went on a quest.

I needed a pair of evening shoes for two upcoming events, and had already struck out at all of the mall stores. It would figure that I wouldn't find anything on the clearance racks that would match either of my gowns. Not wanting to wait until the last week before leaving and then be pressed into buying something, anything black, I left the house this morning for Springfield.

The hour and a half drive gave me time to formulate a plan.

I would not pay full price for anything. No matter how beautiful.

I would not try on anything no matter how beautiful or small they might make my feet look, if they weren't at least half off regular price.

I would not try on anything if I couldn't pronounce the designer's name. Period. This is a prelude to not only disaster, but pinched toes.

Having made myself promise to adhere to all of the conditions, I parked the car and made for the door of the mall. One week ago I had no luck, but I was determined to go home to Smalltown with a killer pair of evening shoes.

After an hour of no luck, and my stomach reminding me of the fact I had missed lunch, I decided to go to Subway for a healthy lunch and reassess my position.

On my way to the building, a loud speaker was announcing a mark down on shoes already marked down to half price. There were still six minutes left to find the shoes you wanted, take them to the carnival barker, and have them marked down again. I looked up at the name of the store, and was surprised to find myself indeed at Shoe Carnival. I have never been in Shoe Carnival before, but figured that I could at least take a look.

The scene inside the store was something out of a chick flick movie. Women of all ages were pushing and shoving, frantically looking for the magic pair of shoes for whatever event they needed them for. I wasn't really sure that I wanted to enter the fray, but I thought what the heck? About that time the carnival barker announced only five minutes remaining to find the shoes and get them to him for final mark down.

I carefully stepped around women and girls sitting on the floor trying on shoes, and those that were hopping on one foot trying to do the same. I spied a pair of shoes that looked interesting, but they were two sizes too large. With that shoe in my hand, I went to the beginning of the aisle and did a systematic search of each shelf for a pair in my size. I was almost to the end of the aisle when I saw a pair on the top shelf. Excusing myself as gracefully as I could and without appearing too anxious so someone wouldn't grab them before I got there, I snatched the box and made for the next aisle over so that I could try them on. There were two, (Thank you God) , unoccupied chairs. I sat down, took off my shoes and slid my foot into the first one. It fit. Talk about your fortune cookie moment. The next foot would tell the tale, as it is the one I had the foot surgery on.

"Three minutes, ladies!" said the Carnival barker.

I slipped the shoe on, walked a few steps, didn't fall over or feel any shooting pain up my leg, and decided to take them. Pulling my own shoes back on, I grabbed my purse, the box of shoes, and walked as quickly and gracefully as possible to the carnival barker's lofty perch. He looked ridiculous sitting there in the circus cage marking down shoes for frazzled women afraid the time would lapse before they could get their bargains. Finally he blessed my shoe box, and I walked to the checkout.

I almost fell over when the cashier told me the total was $18.12. I was so shocked, I pulled out cash before she could change her mind. I took my bag, and walked quickly to the Subway next door to get my lunch. Only when I had my food and could sit in a booth did I look in the bag.

Today was a day for miracles.

Not only did I find a pair of black evening shoes for half off half off half, but they are black silk Liz Clairborne evening shoes! Now the only thing remaining was to take them home to Smalltown and see if they looked right with my gowns.

Two hours later, I was standing in front of my full lentgh mirror, blessing the carnival barker, Liz Claiborne, and my good fortune. It just goes to show you that you should never be too snooty to go into Shoe Carnival. It was a Sex In The City moment. Designer shoes for practically nothing. I think the girls would agree. They may not be hand made Italian, but hey, they work for me.

Just another day in the life.....here on my country road.

Until Monday,


Friday, January 21, 2005


In the midst of chaos, there is peace.

When the first waves of hurt and anger pass, I get my second wind. Now I have a firm resolve to begin the process of moving forward. Family and friends come to the fore, offering support. I found it so in the blog world as well. Thank you for that. Yesterday morning I had a phone call that helped put order to my scattered thoughts and calmed my spirit. Now that I have had some time to think about options, it is time to act.

I had a good talk with my boss yesterday, and as always, he stands with me. In talking with him, we were once again struck by the stupidity of people who have no sense of honor, loyalty or fair play. People who think only of themselves ruin it for everyone else and usually cause this type of situation to abound. Rest assured that we have a plan. It is called truth.

Even though this is a sticky wicket I cannot help but feel sadness for the people who are at the heart of the problem. While they think they are the fast track to success and power, they are empty and lack heart. They have to constantly plot and plan to keep ahead of the game, and surely they have no peace. Even if I lose I will be a winner. I have truth on my side, and I can live with that.

Last night I slept well. This morning I woke feeling much better. It will be a difficult day, as I have to begin the interviewing of my crew for facts. There is always the chance that they will crumble and not want to move forward with this, but somehow I don’t think so. I believe in the best of people. I expect it. Look for it. Praise it. When they came to me with what they had done, I thanked them and offered forgiveness. This was definitely not what they expected, but it is the way I live my life. Now I have two employees that stand at my back with me. I applaud them. They have heart.

In writing this I can see that I have already won the fight. The outcome really doesn’t matter as much as the process that brought the changes in these two people. I have found the answers I had sought for a year, and we can attempt to correct the problems.

Yes, in the midst of chaos, there is peace. One only has to believe.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, January 20, 2005


There are very few times in life that I have felt despair to the depths of my soul.

I conduct my life from a foundation of faith, obedience, trust, and fair play. Although I am not totally clueless about the dark side of life and people, I am always taken back by the lengths that people will go to for self promotion.

For the past year I have been in a situation at work that I couldn’t resolve because I could never put all the pieces together. Personnel issues are always tenuous at best, but when deceit is afoot, it is impossible to combat without the correct information.

Tuesday I was approached by two members of my crew who revealed the missing pieces of the puzzle and asked me to find a way to correct the problem. I wasn’t surprised at the duplicity of the situation, but deeply saddened that a couple of coworkers had created a scenario that indicated nothing more than a desire to get their own way at my expense and would seemingly stop at nothing to achieve that.

I used to charge over the hill equipped with nothing more than a desire for justice and fire in my eye. Vengeance is a tricky business. After being knocked around a bit in the arena of life experience, I have come to the conclusion that the saying ‘cooler heads prevailed’ has some merit. While there is little for the most part a person can do when you are fighting the specter of lies and deceit, I firmly believe that truth will win out at the end of the day.

The second problem is being betrayed by people I have considered a friend. There is no balm to ease that, but I am not the first person in recorded history to fall prey to this. The one good thing is that I received an apology from one person last evening who could no longer live with their part in this mess and wanted me to forgive them of less than stellar behavior. While I am gratified by that, there are still spies in the camp, so to speak.

There is very little I can do but present the facts as I know them to my boss and hope for the best. I believe that I will take a day or two and let my mind clear before I take any action, but it looks as though I am in for a bumpy ride.

On the up side, the sunset last night was so beautiful. The whole western sky was flaming red as the sun dipped beyond the horizon. They say that it is always darkest before the dawn, and as I await the beauty of this mornings sunrise, I have peace in my heart and look forward to the day….here on my country road.

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Many of you may remember me writing about a woman at the gym who was ignored by all of the other patrons. She is unlovely, dirty, and backward. Her clothes are wrinkled, they don’t match, and she never wears underclothes. Her teeth are rotted and her skin is covered with sores.

The one time I spoke to her and she smiled, her blue eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. She offered that she has a farm out in the country and has a lot of animals. Last night I was noticing that many of the young girls who were working out were making fun of her behind her back, pointing to her and snickering, rolling their eyes, and disinfecting everything she touched. Just because she is different than most people doesn’t mean she is ignorant to what goes on around her. I was mortified.

I have noticed this behavior before and was embarrassed then as well. One reason is that I had felt much the same at first glance, but seeing the reaction of other people to her made me realize that I was no better than they were. Since then I always try to make eye contact and smile. Her face always brightens.

When I had rotated around the weight circuit to where she was, I said hello and asked her about the farm animals. This began a short conversation, but when I completed the repetitions on the machine I was using and looked around she was gone.

People can be so cruel. There has been much focus in the media about bullies in the schools and what can happen to a child who is continually taunted or ignored. Less is said about the behavior of adults to one another. It is still cruel and the effects are just as hurtful.

I have always rooted for the underdog. Many times in life I have been the underdog. During awkward times in my children’s formative years I watched them deal with the same issues. Finding yourself on the fringes of acceptance is a very sad and lonely place.

I suppose it is because we all know how this woman must feel that it bothers me so much. I can’t do much about the other people who frequent the gym, but I can make sure that I always have a smile and kind word for her. Everyday in the course of my job I come into contact with people just like her. Unaccepted and scorned by the world.

My thoughts are troubled and rambling, but I have made a new commitment to make sure that I cannot be found guilty of the same behaviors. This woman is not unique. I’m sure that in your little corner of the world there are those you see every day who are just like her. It is my hope and prayer that by speaking a kind word and offering a smile we can make this world a better place in which to live.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Originally this was to have been my Happy New Year message, but as my computer was in the shop, I had to wait to share it.

Three years ago I began a journey. I had gained a lot of unhealthy weight very quickly with some medications I was taking, then gained thirty more pounds the following year after foot surgery when I couldn’t exercise. My cholesterol was high. My triglycerides were high. I was in a downward spiral, and even my usually bubbly and happy personality took a nosedive. I was losing myself and had to do something before I was past the point of turning it around. One evening I was sitting in my chair watching TV when I began having chest pains that radiated down my left arm. It scared me, but went away as quickly as it had come. I went to the my internist, who gave me a very heartfelt and stern warning. If I didn’t do something I was going to die. Slow suicide I think he said. That was an “Aha” moment for me. A nuclear stress test indicated no apparent heart problems or blockages, and the Dr. basically told me the future was in my hands. Since I believe in life, I came home and made a commitment to health. Simply put, I wanted to live.

I am not saying it has been easy. I had learned many bad habits and every day was a struggle. I had to relearn practically everything about cooking, eating and exercise. Still, the results were slow and iffy at best. I did lose twenty pounds, but nothing really seemed to be working like it had before when I attempted weight loss. Part of the problem was that I was almost fifty years old, and the results were just slower in coming. I had to make some changes if I was going to achieve my goals. I wanted to be the best I could be when I turned fifty. Although I didn’t reach that goal, I was within fifteen pounds of goal when I celebrated my birthday in New Orleans last year.

When I came home I renewed my efforts. I hired John’s running coach and learned to run. I began lifting weights again. By the time Matt and I went to Tulum in October, I was within six pounds of my goal. The biggest change came while we were in Mexico. Matt was a big help in assessing my program and giving me practical advice about what I was doing. He had started Body For Life, and I could see the good results he was getting. It is a dieter’s dream. Eat more often. By changing the way I was eating and making six meals out of three, I fooled my metabolism. I began to see toning and began building lean muscle right away. Eureka!

December 28, I finally reached my weight loss goal. I have lost 70 pounds, four dress sizes, and more inches than I have fingers and toes to count. While I now am working toward a new goal of health, fitness and toning, I am at the mountain top. Today I am two pounds under goal, and tomorrow I go back to the doctor for blood work. That will tell the real story, but I can’t believe that my results won’t be improved.

I have learned a lot about myself during this journey. It began with a commitment to myself, and choosing life. There have been good days and bad, but I feel great. Although the results are more obvious in the external, the biggest changes have been made within myself. I wear Lance Armstrong’s famous yellow bracelet, and when I think I can’t go another step I just look down at it and I press on.

I wish for you all the happiest and most wonderful New Year. You may be contemplating a journey of your own this year. Whatever it is and whatever your goal, the journey begins with a single step.

Our thoughts are with John as he works toward his goal of running the Boston Marathon in April, and of Ellen in Canada who is battling cancer. Godspeed.

Until tomorrow,


Sunday, January 16, 2005


Since December 27, 2004, Down A Country Road has been silent.

My computer crashed, effectively cutting me off from the world. Literally.

I had no idea how I had come to cherish the relationships and the friends I have made since I began my blog, or how much I had come to enjoy writing of my daily life here in Smalltown. When that ability was taken away, I was lost. No blogging, no book, no email.

I have spent the last twenty-one days running down the hill to mom’s house to check my email, and then back up again. When you are able to do that at any given time of the day you don’t really realize how much time you spend doing it. I went once per day to check mail, which was a killer when you hear from someone special several times a day. Mom and Rocky were troopers about my popping in and out, but I know they will be glad that I am “wired” again.

One of the biggest surprises has been how much I have missed writing. It had become so much a part of my daily routine that when the alarm went off in the mornings I still walked into the office to turn on the computer to write my blog. Nothing but a blank monitor and an empty space where my computer used to sit. Sadly I would remember. Turning off the light, I made tea and had breakfast, and felt sad. No visiting with everyone about the endless oddities of country life, no one to hear the deep thoughts I pondered, and certainly no one to share the frustration with.


It has been a long twenty-one days, my friends and family. I hope that my readers haven’t all given up and gone on to greener pastures. I have come to know that even if no one ever reads my blog again, I would have to write it. It is said that writers write. This is so very true, and my fingers have been itching to get at it.

Thank you all for your good wishes while my computer was in the shop. I did lose everything, and please don’t scold me for not backing up my book. Matt saved it for me and will be sending it back. Then I will save it to floppy like I should have. Oh well. The journey is shorter the second time. The traveler is certainly wiser for the experience. And very grateful for Eddie, who put my computer back together again.

They say that silence is golden. I did not find it so…..here on my country road. Hello World! I’ve got so much to say, and I’m very happy to be back. Happy New Year, by the way. It certainly looks brighter now.

Until tomorrow,