“Recycling” Spirit

Ever dust off an old memory and decide it’s too special to be locked away forever?

This card is one of those moments – again.

This is where where you’ve been and where you are now put an arm around your shoulder and say “Whew! Long road. But we’re still here!”

And even if “here” – where you are now -is not where you were aiming for or where you’re planning to stay, it’s a reminder that this moment will most likely be a keepsake of its own someday even further up your road.

So, don’t forget to save some kind of reminder – even if you’re currently at odds with this moment and don’t feel you’ll want a future reminder – you might want to create a “whew!” to look back on and behold.

This card is one of those “mixed bag” “whew!” moments from the past. I drew it for a Christmas in the late 70’s when my daughter Heather was six or seven. This particular copy of the card contained a message I’d written a few years later when Heather was 11, and I had been struggling financially after the ending of my long-term relationship with her stepdad. The message shared with her – well, here

Flash forward. At this particular time, my family and I are caregiving to my mother after her stroke in June, so this card from the “whew!” moment of yore serves as a great reminder that what seems challenging in the moment only serves to prepare you for those new challeges up ahead.

And, however long and/or challenging your road is or becomes, seeing where you’ve been is a great affirmation of the spirit it took to get you to your “now”._

Merry Christmas, everyone! Love you all!

Kristi

P.S. And Happy 2018 to us all!! DEEP “Whew!” on 2017,  yes? Talk about building spirit!!

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Copy God?

Woke up in a quizzical state. Did I really just dream that?

The image lingered in my mind’s eye. A Volkswagen-sized car had been parked in front of me with the words “Copy God” on the side.

I remembered in the dream, wondering if that was a good idea – to copy God. Kind of a new spin on WWJD, only with more authority and chutzpah.

And what about God should we copy? Unconditional love? Universal acceptance? Mobile message boards?

On the surface, it had the potential to be something amazing if followed with humility, grace and sensitivity. But conferring God-like activities and missions on just anyone runs the risk of people’s egos and senses of entitlement taking over the moment and the outcome.

Copy God? I’m all for it but with a little more info and guidance. There’s already too many believers professing to know what God wants or has deemed as Humanity’s destiny.

I say let’s quit pointing to the sky and looking at our watches, waiting for God to “fix” the mess our free will has brought upon His creation.

Let’s do copy God and honor the Creation we’ve been given, and correct what we’ve gotten wrong. Let’s see and perceive and honor Humanity’s multitudes through His inclusive prism, and accept the wonder of it all with His level of generosity and faith in us.

And let’s not forget to say “thank you” that we’re all still here with one more day and chance to get it right this time – the way God did when He started this whole show – prior to the “free will” portion that we still have in spite of ourselves, and our “win some, lose some” choices and attitudes.

I mean how much more patience can we expect Him to have, ya know?!

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Angels of Mercy or Mercenary?

Stark, dark and surreal.

Not the family member’s stroke that brought you post haste to the hospital in under 30 minutes’ time. No, this would be the Orwellian moment when your ER doctor and his team of nurses, CNAs, etc. deliver a proviso you hadn’t counted on:

“Well, she is 96.”

Yes, before anything had been done to treat my mother, before any x-rays, MRIs or blood pressure checks had been done – or the life-altering post-stroke t-PA vaccine withheld – the ER team had already decided my mother’s fate would be based on her age.

Sure, they looked at the form we filled out giving Mother’s most recent medical issues. Included in the description were her dementia diagnosis and her being wheelchair bound due to arthritis in her knees. Of course, what the form did not provide space for were the qualifiers that would’ve prompted a less dismissive prognosis for her treatment and recovery.

Like, instead of deciding for us that it was potentially too dangerous to give my mother the t-PA shot most stroke patients receive upon arriving in the ER, the team could’ve let us make the decision. Clearly, when 50/50 is the best odds you can have, why not go for the best outcome available?

Plus, the team was not good at listening. My daughter and I each told them several times that a) Mother had DORMANT Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, not Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which could have potentially increased bleeding. So she could’ve received the shot, especially after it was determined that her stroke had been ischemic (clot-based) and not the more dangerous bleeding type of stroke.

As for the ‘dementia’ card, the team filled in the blanks themselves on Mother’s level of cognitive decline without ever having a conversation with us about it. We could’ve told them her level of function was limited only by her arthritic knees and now the stroke that had impacted the left side of her body. Yet she could still talk and answer questions while waiting for them to get all the testing done.

Waiting. Lots of it. Even though waiting is the last thing you want to happen post-stroke. There we were, waiting for the doctor and his crew to make a call on what would be next. MRI? No, later. Room for her? None ready. Anything? BPI and temperature and a CT scan.

Too much waiting so I’ll cut to the chase of what came next. Eventually – and after my daughter and I had to ask for it – Mother was given an MRI. Yes, she’d had a stroke, a massive one. Not likely she would recover. Well, not NOW!

What followed was four days of monitoring Mother’s vitals, giving her oxygen when it was needed (which wasn’t that often) and waiting. Four days with no food for Mother. My daughter and I had been slow learners to this point, believing all that could be done had been done. Then I realized what was actually going on. They were waiting for Mother to pass on without further treatment. We were at the end of Day 4 with no plans listed to connect her to a feeding source. I intervened.

The charge nurse that night assured me that the following day they would be hooking her up to a feeding tube. I told her four days was long enough, and I wanted it fixed now. One might argue the point of doing a feeding tube after business hours, but I had no reason to think the following day would bring food any more quickly. I asked the charge nurse what she would want done for her family member if she was me. She picked up the phone and called down to the department that could place a feeding tube in Mother using an imaging machine from radiology. This was after the initial attempt without the screen had failed.

Mother was now successfully hooked up to an NG tube that provided liquefied nourishment into her stomach. This did not sit well with the hospital’s doctors on staff the next day. It was about quality of life for them. We explained that we were about life as opposed to ‘assisted suicide’ and we would not continue to withhold nourishment from my mother. We withdrew DNR permission based on their overt willingness to dismiss Mother’s existence solely on age. Of course, when we learned CPR efforts could potentially break her rib cage and other bones, we reverted to an ‘intubation’ (oxygen) permission only.

Physical therapy and speech therapy became moot points since Mother was not sufficiently responsive on command. Basically, the doctor on call would walk in, say ‘Good morning’ to Mother and if she didn’t open her eyes and answer back, the doctor would move on to his other patients. No active therapy indicated.

During the next several weeks, we were counseled on Mother’s lack of positive prognosis. We reminded the medical team, case managers, social workers and end of life cheerleaders that, except for a feeding tube, Mother was there by virtue of her own will. We were not running her show, she was. Oh, and hey – she’s 96. Maybe someone should take into account her will to still be there in spite of all the discouragement and distancing from protocols to keep her here and functioning.

I mean, there were volunteers in their 80’s who came by to give us the antidote of encouragement that we so needed to keep going. The one guy had taken two months to cognitively snap back after his stroke, and he said it was a good while after that before he got the use of his left side again.

Mother was in the hospital for the better part of two months, finally stabilizing enough to be transported to a care facility. Our choice was limited to two facilities, the only two that accommodated patients with feeding tubes.

When the first facility failed in being able to replace the NG tube, Mother was transported back to the hospital for yet another replacement of her NG tube. She had managed to pull the tube loose on a couple of other occasions while hospitalized previously.

After being returned to the facility then again disrupting the tube and adding an infection, we placed her in the other facility.

The second facility also fell short on Mother’s feeding tube care which resulted in a very mild case of pneumonia that quickly subsided after a few days back at the bospital.

There’s no easy answer or protocol for a post-stroke patient of any age. Could Mother’s age be complicating or negating her recovery? Sure. But what has complicated the situation even more is having a medical community that discourages family members from even considering giving an elderly or near elderly family member the chance to overcome the challenges of having had a stroke; and to withhold and diminish the standard of care they’re eligible to receive.

What once was an honorable profession has become the shadowy hollow of its former self so it can disallow tbose patients creating too much drag on the bottom line, and eliminate those patients taking too much time to recover by encouraging family members to end their lives for them.

After having heard many stories of others who had pressure to end a family member’s life through withholding lifesaving measures such as feeding tubes, I just think we all need to be aware that our medical angels of mercy have an alternative, corporately obedient persona geared to serve the mercenary side.

Forewarned, ya know?

P.S. Score one more for “Ms. 96 and Still Counting”!

After her current care facility decided to discontinue all physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions, Mother started withdrawing again.

Her reconnection through talking and opening her eyes, and small hand gestures as a direct result of the therapies she’d been given became almost non-existent once those efforts ceased.

As we passed the two-week mark of no therapy, I called one of her doctors and related what was happening: that Mother was aware and withdrawing due to the lack of cognitive and physical stimulation.

What had been explained to us as an insurance issue when the therapies ended became just a matter of the doctor being advised of my mother’s level of connection and awareness that she was being discontinued in her efforts to thrive and survive.

So, we’re on therapy again! It’s only been a day since she’s been back on therapy, but her hand wasn’t as stiff when I checked on her yesterday. Though she may not regain all her physical abilities, she’s at least able to connect with what is possible for her while she’s still here with us.

And that’s the latest on ‘Ms.96 and Counting’ vs. the bottom line feeders. Put a number on that one, guys!

 

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My “#Me Too” Story: Forgive the Bunny Killer

You heard him. You sort of believed him. But you knew him – or so you thought – so you filed it away mentally. I mean, he’s been your boss and friend and –

It was something he did as a kid. We all do dumb things as kids. And he’s a guy. Guys do oppressive, sick things to small creatures – frogs, lizards, cockroaches.

Bunnies – well, maybe not so much but he’s not killing them now.

It was just a phase from a time when there wasn’t enough to do after school. So he went into a field by the shopping mall and hunted rabbits and – but he’s not doing it now. Time to get back to work.

Been decades since he was in junior high. No worries.

Only, as it turns out, the bunnies turned into people. Little ones, big ones, girl ones, guy ones. And one day it’s your turn to be his victim.

You didn’t see it coming. You two were no longer the on again off again item you once were. You were just two friends going to dinner and a movie to celebrate your birthdays that were one week apart. You’d done that for several years in a row now. No biggie. No worries.

But this night was different. The vibe was different. You ignored it. You decided to just be polite and understanding. Probably some carryover from his workday. Then on the way home from the movie it started.

He wants to come over for a while. You’re not really feeling it and you don’t want it to go “there” because that’s not where things are at anymore.

He gets more insistent, coaxing you. You consider it. Your daughter’s at a friend’s overnight. You’re not involved with anyone else. So, for old time’s sake, and because it’s been awhile, you say ‘yes’.

Yes. The legal definition of consensual sex. Except what started as consensual took a sudden, dark turn. The familiar became fear-filled and heinous. You closed the living room curtains so the neighbors could no longer look across into the prelude of your private moment, and the very next moment became you being assaulted by a now former friend, boss and professional collaborator. Hands, large hands, went where they should never have gone. And when they came out, you could never be the same again – about him or any guy.

You could say it was the bunnies that did it. That they were a gateway indicator of what was to become who he was. But it’s also about impulses and triggers that can’t be controlled or confessed to. Impulses and triggers created from targeted social abuse from others that then become sexual assaults and eventually – if unapprehended – murders.

Where’s a kid to go for help? Confessing such things could lead to rejection by family and friends. When a kid is already the bullied outsider at school, who can he talk to or get help from? Where else can the rage go? Living things becoming dead ones are the only release he’s known. Until sex.

This is not sympathy for the perpetrator. This is a real question of what do we do and how do we change and retrain a perpetrator’s impulses before he becomes criminal and/or deadly? Lives are altered and diminished, loved ones suddenly become strangers and the only consistent response to it all is to lock away the perpetrator long after it’s too late to change his behavior, and address his impulses – or, for that matter, the impulses of his social abusers who created and ultimately own his rage and his antisocial social triggers.

When we mistreat each other, the rage has to go somewhere. And especially those who are targeted and mistreated over and over again. My perpetrator was such a person. I forgive the bunny killer, regret losing a friend but, having said that, know there were others victimized by him – and most likely in ways a few didn’t walk away from. Under the radar? Not so much.

His cousin knew and tried to let me know without calling out her cousin as the rapist he was.

It was a family thing. She didn’t want to lose more family. Already down by one brother who’d joined the Children of God, she didn’t want to lose her cousin to prison. So she kept silent with just a vague hint that if I went out with him, he might not be able to help certain behaviors. For whatever reason, I didn’t take the conversation as a rape warning.

Yet other things preceded growing intimate with him. Signs of aberrant behavior that, because societally we accept certain choices as banal and harmless – like nudie magazines and porn flicks – I didn’t pick up on them. But for some, as it turns out, porn and nudie magazines are not harmless pursuits. They’re assuagers of rage and predictors of random, irrevocable alliances.

Watch for “My ‘#Me Too Story: Forgive the Bunny Killer, Part 2”.

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Lessons in Vagabonding

RV dreamin’ any of you?

Let me fill you in on a couple of realities related to the RV life.

First of all, if you’re using it as an alternative form of housing – as my daughter and I decided to do – BEWARE!

However much it saves you on motel bills during unexpectedly long layovers due to a family member’s medical complications, you will quickly discover – unless you have a nearby relative who’ll give you a place to park it – that not everyone loves RVs, Or trusts those living in their RVs.

So, if youre not going to live in it full time or rent a space in an RV or trailer park, YA GOTTA KEEP IT MOVIN’!

Otherwise, if you have to stay elsewhere ‘cuz where you had to park the RV was in a line of other outlaw RVs along an unincorporated, busy stretch of road, you could find yourself missing the two new 12 volt batteries you installed in your vintage 1981 Dodge Travelon RV. Not to mention the generator your granddaughter’s boyfriend purchased for it. Or the sheets you bought to make curtains for the windows. Or the septic tank product and other cleansers, etc.

Yep, all that got left were my clothes and shoes and the book in the picture. They even took some of my photos and archival published stories!

So after I buy the surety bond ($100) to go along with the paper mess that will deliver a bona fide title for the RV, I can either sell it and recoup the money we bought it for, or settle in, assuming it passes the smog check portion of this adventure in vintage vagabonding.

Ah, the RV dream – one day and one location at a time!

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A Story of Angels: You and Me

 

There I was, driving the U-Haul with trailer for drop off in Phoenix. Yes, my family got their house in Buckeye!

After U-Haul, I’d be catching a Greyhound back to San Bernardino and my little green Kia parked near the station. I know it’s not usual, but I’ve been saying prayers it’s still parked there. Two days on a street with no visible parking restrictions. I’m hopeful.

Likewise a prayer or two for my incompletely registered RV that’s in the process of being properly titled, and parked across from the care facility that caused my mother to be returned to the hospital for some additional care. It’s been there a week but so have several other RVs parked in “chorus line” queue across from it  Fingers crossed I’ve got till Monday.

So, anyway, on the way to U-Haul, I exited the freeway in Phoenix right before the hitch on the trailer I was hauling disconnected itself. Luckily, I had made the last leg of the journey from Buckeye to Phoenix (about 40 miles) without it happening.

After numerous honks from passing truckers and a very definite pointing gesture from a motorist who pulled alongside, I turned onto a side street to see what was going on.

The trailer had not just come loose, but the hitch wouldn’t lock down the right way. I noticed that, conveniently, a trucker had exited onto the same side street and was unloading a vehicle at a business two doors down.

I asked if he could take a look. He attempted to re-attach the trailer but it was obvious the fix was not secure. “How far you going?” he asked. I checked my Google map. “Just two more miles. My daughter and grandson are waiting for me there.”

“Well, you’re going to have to drive realll carefully ‘cuz if you even hit a speed bump the wrong way, it’ll come off again.” “Thanks so much for helping!” I said, moving back toward the U-Haul. “How far you come with it loose?” he asked.  “I guess somewhere between here and Buckeye.” “Really!” His astonished look was not lost on me as I reflected on how differently things could’ve played out. And how serendipitous it’d been that he had turned onto the same street right behind me!

I continued on very slowly but it wasn’t long before a speed bump appeared. Reverse is not really a viable option with a trailer on the back so I stopped on the other side of the bump and re-attached the trailer as good as possible, then made my way back onto the main road and crept along in the right lane until I spotted the Circle K on the left side of the street where my daughter and grandson waited.

As I made the lane changes to the cacophony of horn honks that ensued, I came to rest at the pump behind another driver filling up his truck.

Evidently, he had noticed me pull in and let me know the trailer had come loose. I told him I already knew and that I’d be dropping off the equipment shortly. He waved his hand and said he didn’t speak very good English, then went and got a hammer, showing it to me quizzically.

“Yes!” I said, giving him a ‘thumbs up’ and followed him back to the hitch. With a couple of quick swings of the hammer, he had gotten the hitch straightened out and the trailer securely back on.

“Me llamo Kristina,” I said. “Francisco,” he answered. “Muchas gracias, Francisco!” “Have a good day,” he nodded. “You too!” I smiled as my grandson walked toward the U-Haul.

Just that quickly, the moment of serendipity was over. Francisco, whatever his immigration status, had ventured to matter and to be of help without question or political filters and agenda. I said a prayer for both he and the other driver I had failed to ask the name of.

And, once again, I had affirmation of being looked out for on a road trip that could’ve happened way differently from Buckeye to Phoenix.

It was also a reminder that each of us are each other’s angels and deliverance – no matter what we imagine God’s preferences and hierarchy to be of our humanity.

We are one on the same journey, on the same mission, with the same free will and needs to be filled. How we fill those needs and exercise our free will is what brings us together as one cosmic force or dissipates and shatters us into shards of discord, ego and what might have been had we not given place to a need or belief to feel chosen and entitled at the expense of the rest of God’s creation.

Either way, it is when we choose to be the light that we know and feel God’s presence within us. And when that feeling takes hold, so does the light that shines for all to see and witness; to become and share.

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Politically Incorrect Stlll

4th of July 2016 (Double it for 2017!)

 

This particular 4th of July brought back a memory from the summer of 1962.

I had just graduated 8th grade and was looking forward to the summertime after surviving Miss Wolcott’s home ec class. It had been a pretty good school year otherwise. And, in fact, because of Miss Wolcott’s class, I had met and become friends with Michaelann, a classmate who had an equally fanatical crush on George Maharis from the tv show Route 66. So much so that she and I would meet at her house after school to write script parodies of the show ala Mad Magazine style.

We were a great team coming up with funny storylines and dialog. It was good practice and a great way to further worship our mutual celebrity heartthrob together.

School ended and our friendship went on a summer hiatus. I hadn’t seen or talked to Michaelann since the end of spring semester. We had friends in common but I just didn’t seem to have the social skills and relative ease the rest of them had with each other.

I mean, we’re talking about the girl who showed up to the 8th grade class girls’ tea in an improvised outfit of a pretty yellow dress with white gloves, and my mother’s blue springolator heels. I looked perky and pressed even if I didn’t match. Even so, it had taken me some time to get up my courage to attend on such a last minute basis. Nervously, I knocked on the oceanfront mansion’s door. With one up and down look, the mother hosting the tea turned me away. Not prompt or fancy enough for the event, I walked away a confirmed outsider.

Mother was mortified that I had committed such a social faux pas in a town that was staunchly dedicated to everyone who was anyone following social protocols correctly. To do otherwise labeled you a social outcast, someone with no sense of political correctness.

It came as somewhat of a doubly bitter surprise when Michaelann’s mother allowed her to invite some of her friends to be on the town’s Red Cross float for the 4th of July parade. I was not one of them, and watched as their float went by with all the “chosen” on board waving happily.

At the time, it hurt me badly. I took it personally as a slight instead of seeing it as a gift and a validator in disguise. My lack of social standing and means had designated me “politically incorrect” to hang out with.

I was then and still tend to be politically incorrect. Not rudely, at least not most of the time. But when there’s clearly a disconnect between what is fair, and a status quo favoring the privileged few at the expense of the “unchosen”, I feel duty bound to be on the side of political incorrectness because it’s the right side to be on.

Perhaps this is too grandiose an analogy between a missed social opportunity and our country’s current political and societal minefield. But just like then, the parade will continue on. And once again, the parade can try to pass by me and countless others. But you can’t take away a person’s will to be included. You will only fan that person’s desire for inclusion.

And welcome or not, politically correct or not, my place in the parade is where I say it’s fairest for me to stand. And that goes for any other “unchosens” who choose to march for what’s right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Been A While

Been a little busy phasing out of my Texas mode, gearing up for California.

Yep, we’re leaving the land of Trumpsters and alt-gender oppression; headed back to the land of political incorrectness and proud of it. No apologies, no piety pretense, and believing for as few Trumpsters as Democratically possible.

Been interesting living in a red state. I totally loved Anne Richards before I’d lived in Texas, but now – however did she manage to win and govern Texas? I’m even more inspired and in awe of her now than before.

This is not to write off Texas as all negative. It is not. But in the realm of using politics and religion as an excuse for social and economic coercion and suppression, those more inclusively inclined Texans have their work more than cut out for them. As does the entire nation with Trump and others in charge.

As the pendulum of government-issued smackdowns to our civil rights and institutions protecting the common good continues unimpeded, for the moment, I’m having remorse for having once held a document some 200+ pages in length that outlined a plan for global subordination via the compromising of our country’s government. It also implicated the U.N. as contributing to the process.

Not having a source named for the document, and having received it from someone I had only casually known through doing some administrative work, I had no reason to suspect its validity or prescient predictions. I did show it to a family member who had careers in both the Air Force and civil service. He looked it over and suggested that, regardless of the authenticity of the information, I should get rid of the document.

I considered holding onto it, but the evil vibe of it and the hazard of having it in my possession in an already hazard-riddled period of my life, made me choose to pass it on. Other eyes have seen this document, alleged to have been printed off a discarded hard drive. How the hard drive was accessed and who originally printed off the content is something I never had knowledge of.  And due to lapse of time – this was 1994 – I have very few memories of specific content. However, the details I do remember are that:

  • The plan for one global government has been in place since the end of WWII.
  • It is in part due to an obligation to Russia for its assistance in defeating Hitler.
  • The U.N. is some kind of gatekeeper or barometer of how things unfold
  • The plan for global control of currency and economics is also contained in the document

Reference was made to Bill Clinton, not as a participant, but as someone who had been to Russia or met with Russian leaders while he was a Rhodes scholar. I don’t recall anything else specific to him personally, other than that he had met with Russian entities.

Beyond these items, I have no clear, definitive memory of what the document said, but there were over 200 pages – a lot of detail for a sham.

During the surreal 2016 presidential election, there were times when people were asking why Obama hadn’t acted or done this or that. I kept thinking “There’s more players in this “poker game” than meets the eye.” Then I remembered back to the document I had held and read, and the potential of it coming to pass now.  Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if Hillary had won. Maybe similar things would’ve happened with her in power as well. Maybe the document was just a fluke and not authentic. But it’s hard to ignore what’s played out before us daily.

And I do believe whoever is running the global game of money needs to have their hand called. We’re only victims if we choose to keep playing the game as it’s been planned – while we still own our chips and have standing in the game.

Bless us all in whatever comes next, but please let it not continue to be Trump and his minions – who may or may not be the ultimate “bad chips” in the game.

 

 

 

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Better with Age?

cat-balloon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better with age?

I continue to hold a good thought on this topic – even though most of us “olders” know, memory is not included as an ongoing perk of our vitality and spirit.

Having said that, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this balloon at the market. I am nowhere near this “Bah, humbug!” on most days, but have certainly been in this space, maybe even making this same face. I just don’t stay there. Too much to still do and experience!

So, for those of you still making peace with the process of aging – gracefully or otherwise – here’s a reminder that it’s all in the attitude. Grumpy is as grumpy does.

Me, I’m off to meet with the screenwriting/filmmaking group I recently joined. Smiling and grateful I can get myself there and remember which freeway exit to take. Leader is Dan and . . . sigh!

To be continued.

 

 

 

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Positively Picky!

laptop-in-public

Been off my blog and out of my semi-regular habit of writing on it for about a month now.

Made a commitment to participate with a group to write daily posts on it starting back on the 2nd of this month. Not bragging. Not proud of it at all. BUT . . .

Sometimes being slow in getting started can bring focus to your real agenda and what you want to say next. And, most importantly, how you want to say it.

So, I’ll be continuing on this blog but will also be branching out to include some live Facebook moments with a character I’ve done in the past. She’s a good fit for the current times.

Stay tuned. She’ll be coming up soon! It’ll be fun – I hope!

 

 

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