twilight…rethinking kristen stewart

The Twilight Saga (film series)

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A year ago when I began this blog, I noted in my page Top Honors that I wasn’t a fan of the young actress Kristen Stewart, the much-envied heroine of Twilight. While I’m still not a die-hard fan of the film, I must admit to liking some of its elements. 

Twilight’s fear factor reminds me of older films like the Mummy. Permitting myself to be scared out of my wits is secondary to the story embedded within such films. An unlikely suitor pursues the love of his life, taking on all opponents without thought for his own safety. I’m also a sucker for action. Who isn’t? But I don’t relish movies that unwind like balls of string, gruesome slaying…after gruesome slaying…after gruesome slaying. Definitely not my cup of tea.

Stephenie Meyer on her Eclipse tour in 2007.

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I’ve not yet read Stephanie Meyer‘s books upon which Stewart’s character is based. I’m sure she evokes all that Bella is…a painfully shy teen, totally befuddled by life, swept off her feet by gorgeous, bad boy Edward, who happens to be a vampire. This, however, wasn’t enough to make me a fan of the actress or of Twilight, for that matter.  

My initial interest was the same as every other red-bloodied female…Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, the gorgeous vampire. I wanted him for my daughter. She wanted him too. We would laughingly commiserate on ways for her to meet him. I even emailed Ellen de Generes, wondering if she could introduce the 2, and perhaps arrange for them to go somewhere for coffee. No surprise that Ellen never got back to me.


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Mine was probably the same fantasy as millions of other mothers, and women, wanting one on one time with the man behind the vampire. If Pattinson were in need of blood donors, there would be no shortage of females lining up to let him drain them dry. Somehow…I don’t think my daughter or I would be up for that. After all, there are a lot more fish in the sea. I must admit, however, that Pattinson is one great catch!

Now perhaps you’ll understand my previous indifference toward Stewart. Although I still don’t think of her as a great actress, I think she does an appropriate job with Bella. In fact the two might be interchangeable. What has influenced my change of heart is not only her on-screen persona, but Stewart’s off-screen personality as well.

Kristen Stewart at Hollywood Life Magazine’s 7...

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While she takes acting seriously, Stewart seems less impressed with all the movie star hype. Appreciative of her fans, she explained in a recent interview she feels they relate to her, because they see themselves in her. That if it weren’t for all the hoopla, she and they would be the same. Can’t say I’d go as far as to say that, but I like that she did.

My daughter also pointed out that Stewart loves to cook for the film crew. And according to those who know her well, she’s a jokester. Something I’m sure she has in common with Pattinson. The few times I’ve seen him being interviewed, he looks and acts like such a goof-ball, not the super suave hunk he portrays in films. Good for both he and Stewart for being themselves, instead of playing the Hollywood PR game. 

A screenshot depicting Edward and Bella in the...

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My daughter and I think it’s wonderful that Bella’s and Edward’s characters have found their counterparts in real-life lovers…Kristen and Robert. We sincerely wish their relationship longevity…as all the glitz and glamour fades into the background.

Meanwhile i’ll be catching 40 winks at midnight tonight…

…while my daughter…and millions of other bella wannabees…crowd theatres…for a glimpse of their vampire heartthrob…not that i blame them…


words…for the ages…

don't worry be happyBorrowed the following from fellow WordPress blogger…Mizz. She borrowed it from Glamour Magazine.

I added a little something of my own…a couple of youtube videos to illustrate the lesson in these words. One is cute and suitable for children; the other, I’d rate PG-13…for its bawdy showmanship. Have to give the “singers” credit…for their creativity…and fearlessness. No one I know would have that kind of hutzpah!


Don’t Gossip.

Do Offer genuine compliments every day.

Don’t Slate yourself.

Do Be your own friend.

Don’t Focus on negatives.

Do Focus on the positives–the more uplift/inspiration, the better!

Don’t Fight back.

Do Remain calm–defending an attack–invests in the attack.


…sounds good to me!…and now…prepare to laugh…

…can’t fail to…be happy…after that………hugmamma.   🙂

weekly photo challenge: windows

In and of themselves, windows can be works of art. And sometimes what’s on the other side, offers a glimpse into peoples’ lives. The unexpected is more appealing…than the predictable. Don’t you agree?…

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………hugmamma.  😉

in appreciation…

In celebration of Veteran’s Day thought I’d run an editorial from the Wall Street Journal in its entirety…Why Veterans Make Good Employees by Eric K. Shinseki.

Happy Veterans Day to all the men and women who serve and have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
     And to Vietnam veterans, “Welcome Home!” That generation remembers returning from war to a country so divided and distracted by internal politics that it had little interest in what they had been doing for the nation. The slight was palpable, and the memory of it has lasted decades. Hence, “Welcome Home!” became their greeting for one another, and for no one else, because it was the greeting they never received.
     Post-Vietnam government downsizing included military reductions in force, which let go hundreds of thousands of military personnel. For many, jobs were scarce, at least the good jobs, and educational benefits were not as generous as the original GI Bill after World War II. There was an air of disdain for the military and for those who had served in Vietnam–nothing confrontational, nothing openly disrespectful, but studied indifference. It was a difficult time to be a veteran.
     Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, almost three million American men and women have answered our nation’s call to arms to defeat what came to be known as al Qaeda and those associated with it. Now, after 10 years of war, almost 1,350,000 who deployed overseas have returned to our communities. But more than 850,000 veterans of all generations remain unemployed. Over the next five years, we project that another one million will be leaving the military. We must not let the Vietnam experience repeat itself for this generation of veterans.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks with Soldiers...

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     On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama announced a significant commitment by U.S. companies to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. This was a direct resonse by companies like Microsoft, Home Depot, Citi and UPS to President Obama’s challenge to the private sector to offer jobs and career opportunities to veterans, wounded warriors and their families. These companies, like the ones who have already hired veterans will not be sorry. Veterans make exceptional employees in any organization because in serving their country they have acquired invaluable skills, including:
     —Decision-making skills primed by quick, clear thinking.
     —Proven leadership skills, honed in the most challenging operational 
     —The knowledge and experience needed to be sophisticated team-
          builders and natural team-players.
     —A work ethic that demonstrates an unwavering commitment to
     Our veterans are remarkable men and women, and we thank them and their families for their service and sacrifice, as we do those currently serving.
     Veterans bring a positive, mission-first, no-fail, no-quit attitude to any organization they join. They have been an extraordinary force for good–whether capturing Saddam Hussein, delivering justice to Osama bin Laden, or working with local leaders and training the military forces of both Afghanistan and Iraq to assume responsibility for their own defense. They are value-added to any organization.
     President Obama understands our solemn obligation to veterans and the critical role they will play in getting our economy back on track. He has pushed many veteran-hiring initiatives, including the American Jobs Act, which includes significant tax credits for businesses that hire veterans, particularly those who have service-connected disabilities and those who have been unemployed for a long time.
     The Vietnam generation still bears scars from the tough living many had to go through to emerge from their hearts of darkness. So, to my Vietnam veteran comrades, and to their sons and daughters, especially those who have been highly successful: Are we going to let the same thing happen to this generation of youngsters?

2008 U.S. Military Academy Commencement Ceremony
Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Of course not. We must join together with the president on this Veterans Day and pledge that never again will a veteran come home to joblessness and homelessness, to apathy and indifference. We will work hard to ensure they find meaningful employment.
     At Veterans Affairs, we have more than 100,000 veterans in our workforce–about one-third of all we employ–and we have set a target for 40%. Without an ambitious goal, we would not be trying hard enough. The Vietnam generation bore the brunt of indifference, and we must not allow our current generation of veterans to suffer that injustice.
     Let’s get out there to mobilize our communities and ensure that veterans have the opportunity to compete. We have some great young men and women counting on us to come through for them and their families. Let’s not let them down. Happy Veteran’s Day and Welcome Home!

(Mr. Shinseki, a retired United States Army four-star general, is secretary of Veterans Affairs.)



do as i say…not as i do

The news is rife with grownups who, when their backs are up against the wall, lie without batting an eyelash to save their sad behinds. Of course they’re all innocent until proven guilty by the slower-than-molasses justice system. But in the court of public opinion? Their guilt is a no-brainer.

Monica Lewinsky, from her government ID photo ...

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Herman Cain looks to be pulling a trick Bill Clinton introduced us to when he claimed not to be having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. The trick? Semantics! It’s all in the words, you see.

According to both men, sex, when under fire and free-falling into the black hole of public denigration and irreversible damage to their reputations, is narrowly defined as intercourse. Oral sex for Clinton, and fondling a woman’s genitals by Cain are just foreplay, I guess…but definitely not sex. So while they settled upon Webster’s definition “4. SEXUAL INTERCOURSE,” they chose to ignore the previous definition which states “3. the instinct or attraction drawing one individual sexually toward another, or the activities that it motivates.” Clinton recouped his standing on the world stage by finally fessing up. Doesn’t look like Mr. Cain is humble enough to “eat crow.”

Where to begin with the massive web of deceit within which Penn State now finds itself embroiled? At the time current wide-receivers coach Mike McQueary witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the locker room shower. McQueary didn’t intervene, but instead conferred with his father who advised that coach Joe Paterno be told. In turn, Paterno reported it to Athletic Director Tim Curley. Into the mix of accomplices who withheld knowledge of the criminal act of pedophilia and sexual assault of a minor are Gary Schultz, V.P. of Finance at Penn State, as well as its president, Graham Spanier. These adults did not report what McQueary had seen to the police.

Jerry Sandusky, right, the former Penn State d...Then and now, Penn State worried about its reputation and its football program. The sodomized youngster and those who followed in his wake as victims of Sandusky’s sexual appetite, were simply relegated to society’s land-fill of abused children. The message relayed to the youngsters entrusted to their care by Penn State staff? Adult sexual predators and those who turn a blind eye to their activities can escape punishment…in the interests of the university’s greater good.

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Dr. Conrad Murray, a good man caught up in the make-believe world of iconic Michael Jackson, made the ultimate misstep. Administering the strong anesthetic Propophol outside the safe environ of a hospital, AND leaving his only client unattended while the drug was being dispensed caused the circumstances leading to Jackson’s death. Murray’s explanation for the demise? A yarn spun like that of a novice spider whose web is full of holes.

Wonderful Smile - Michael Jackson

Image by Raquel Cristina (busy because of beginning of clas via Flickr

According to Murray, Jackson awoke while the doctor had stepped away for 2 minutes to use the bathroom. Somehow in his drugged state, the patient was able to give himself the lethal dose of Propophol. One of Murray’s girlfriends testified to being with him on a cell phone call when he discovered Jackson in distress. And instead of calling 911 immediately which might have saved the singer’s life, Murray called for house security and Prince, MJ’s son. A tragedy made even more tragic when Murray took to covering his missteps, instead of reviving his patient.

Just as the “fight or flight” mechanism is triggered when we are confronted by danger, so too it seems is our immediate attempt to lie our way out of sticky situations. One of the first Golden Rules we teach our children is that they should always tell the truth. Remember the story about George Washington cutting down his father’s cherry tree?

George Washington“George,” said his father, “do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? I would not have taken five guineas for it!”

This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried:

“I cannot tell a lie, father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet.”

The anger died out of his father’s face, and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said:

“My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! Yes – though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!”

So when is it acceptable to withhold the truth? Let me answer with my own personal experience.

I was sexually solicited by relatives on 3 separate occasions. They ranged from mildly funny, to downright scary, to pitifully sad and upsetting. I never spoke of these incidents to family members. As the youngest, who would have believed me? Those to whom I might’ve divulged my tales would’ve been angrier than heck, and of course, those who victimized me would’ve denied my accusations as wild imaginings. So what would the truth have gained me? More grief on top of what I was already experiencing. No thanks!

Unfortunately, lies have a way of derailing one’s happiness. Living with the weight of others inflictions upon one’s person, physically and spiritually, can altogether undermine one’s self-esteem. What is one worth if others can exert their will without repercussions. No wonder so many suffer depression, some even resorting to suicide. The rest struggle within themselves, and continue to put up a good fight…like me.

Children are clean slates…upon which adults write the first words. So should we write “Do as I say…not as I do?” Or should we write “Do as I say…and as I do…for I will always try to speak…and live…the truth.”


cirque du soleil…not so “ole!”

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Readers of my blog know that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s song and dance. A year ago, my husband bought tickets to Cirque du Soleil‘s tribute to MJ as a Christmas present to me. Last night, the long awaited event finally arrived.

When we bought the tickets online we thought we got pretty good seats. We’d sat in the same section for a Michael Buble concert a couple of years earlier. Well we were wrong.

A side view of the Cirque show made it difficult, and at times impossible, to see the video presentations on the drop-down screen. Also a detraction were the visible wires hooked up to the performers’ costumes as they sailed through the air. Nose bleed seats with a frontal view might’ve been better picks had we known. But that’s just it. Choosing seats via Ticket Master is like a crap shoot. The luck of the draw is in the roll of the dice. Still we weren’t complaining. I’m sure people seated further to our right were literally in the dark as to what appeared on the screen. But judging from the murmurs swirling around us, our seats were not the big problem.

Cirque du SoleilCirque du Soleil usually conjures up images of immaculate execution on the part of the artists. Save for one group of Asian acrobatic men and a high-wire couple, the remaining performers were sub-standard. I would not have expected such lackluster quality from the Cirque brand. It’s a shame because much of the staging looked expensive…not exquisite…but expensive.

Most memorable were the gigantic video screens which were a backdrop to the show and upon which we’d glimpse MJ singing and dancing from time to time. When not displaying his or other video images, the screens reflected the performers, including the musicians and singers. Among them Michael Jackson‘s drummer of many years. He was the only person visibly connected to the late, pop icon. Not like being in his presence…but good enough for me.

Jackson and background dancers in

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When Jackson died I bought every one of his dvds and cds. I’d never seen him perform live, nor had I kept up with his career since he was in his late teens. For months after his death, I became reacquainted with my one-time idol. I was mesmerized by the precision of his moves, and the amazing range of his vocals. Although he was accompanied by a talented ensemble, none could match the perfection of MJ’s performances. I thought for sure Cirque du Soleil would be up to the task. I was gravely disappointed. Jackson was probably turning over in his grave as well. And not because of insomnia!

Jackson and background dancers performing

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Better that my ticket money had gone toward a show featuring MJ singing and dancing on those gargantuan screens, excerpts from all his videos . And rather than using so-so dancers, Cirque should have hired the hand-selected few that Jackson himself had chosen forThis is It!” Now those young guys could hold their own alongside the man himself. They were on fire! By comparison, Cirque’s crew was not as crisp, clean, or in sync. A little sloppy, in fact. My husband felt the show looked like a dress rehearsal instead of the real thing.

In fact there were two unscheduled intermissions because of technical difficulties. The audience sat twiddling our thumbs for 20 minutes both times. I wondered if Cirque had attempted to do too much technical wizardry while touring. Because of the seeming half-hazard conglomeration of acts, I thought that perhaps Cirque wasn’t up to the task of creating a show worthy of the pop icon’s overwhelming talent. Having 40 minutes of empty time on my hands, I could conjecture all kinds of what ifs.

Cirque du Soleil performing Dralion in Vienna,...

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The best thing about the show? The appearance of Michael Jackson…doing what he does best. Cirque du Soleil should’ve done what they do best…acrobatics…and unimagineable, magical creations. Maybe the show will measure up to Cirque’s normal high standards when it goes home…to Vegas.

Cirque’s show did not live up to its youtube advertising. So next time it tours in our area, I’ll think twice. Meanwhile…

…think I’ll stick to watching MJ on dvd…cheaper…and way, way better…

Michael Jackson performing The Way You Make Me...

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back in time…but in the present

Does anyone remember dancing to the music of the Average White Band…say in the 60s and 70s? As I explained to my husband enroute to our favorite jazz venue where the band was performing this evening, they seemed peripheral to the music scene. They didn’t draw the crowds like other groups, but their songs had a distinct beat that made me jump up and dance. Still does.

As with other groups from my generation, AWB has undergone a transformation over the years, with musicians coming and going. However 3 who performed tonight were originals, two guitarists and one saxophonist. They were white; the remaining two men were black. Together they melded beautifully into the Average White Band of old.

Why is it that the years seem to fall away when listening to music from the past, allowing us to recapture our youth, if only for a little while? The lead singer/guitarist, one of the founding Scots from Dundee, probably in his mid to late 60s, could still hold the audience as his voice undulated to the rhythm of “A love of your own.” And as I swayed in time to the beat, I felt like a captivating 20-year-old once again. The outer me not at all in sync with my sensual, inner self of long, long ago. More like the young, blonde groupie who giggled giddily after a word with the Scotsman on a brief break. He too eyed the beauty with the smile of a more vigorous alter ego. But perhaps a musician’s lifestyle and daily imbibing of spirits (a fact he offered) are the secret to his vitality. Whatever the case, tonight was for the young at heart…

The Average White Band performs in Rochester, NY.

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…no matter the age………hugmamma.  😉

hold back the hand of time…can we?

It’s been a while since I’ve faithfully read The Wall Street Journal. When our previous subscription ended it seemed a blessing. No more stacks of unread papers. No feeling guilty that I’d not perused its contents for the latest news, or that money was being wasted. But after months of indecision we gave into subscribing, where before the subscription had been a gift from a former client of my husband’s.

Every so often an article catches my eye that seems of particular relevance, for whatever reason. In this instance it’s to do with getting older. Always an intriguing topic at this stage in my life, I thought it might appeal to some of you as well.

Elderly Klamath woman photographed by Edward S...

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Cell Study Finds a Way to Slow Ravages of Age
by Shirley S. Wang

     Scientists may have found a way to put off some conditions of aging, according to a study in which they postponed or even prevented such afflictions as cataracts and wrinkle-inducing fat loss in mice by removing cells that had stopped dividing.
     Most young, healthy cells divide continuously in order to keep body tissues and organs functioning properly, but eventually stop splitting–a state called senescence–and are replaced by others. Senescence occurs throughout life, but people’s ability to clear such cells from their bodies decreases with age, leading to a buildup.
     Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found for the first time that by using a drug to target and kill senescent cells, they could essentially freeze some aspects of the aging process.
     Though the research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is in its very early stages, it suggests that senescent-cell clearance could be one path to staying healthy while aging.
     “If you could clear senescent cells, you perhaps could treat age-related diseases as a group rather than individually,” said Jan van Deursen, senior author of the paper and a professor in the departments of biochemistry and pediatric and adolescent medicine at Mayo.
     The importance of cell senescence to the aging process has long been suspected. But the latest finding demonstrates definitively that these cells play a role in age-related conditions, according to Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging, who wasn’t involved in the study.
     When cells become senescent, they produce harmful compounds such as those that cause inflammation. Chronic tissue inflammation with aging is thought to underlie dementia, atherosclerosis and diabetes, among other ills, according to James Kirkland, head of Mayo’s Center on Aging, who was also an author of the study.
     Senescent cells make up only a small portion of cells–some 5% or less–in the tissue of elderly people, but their effects can be widespread, the researchers said.
     Because senescence is believed to have developed as a defense against cancer, in which cells divide uncontrollably, simply halting the process could be dangerous.
     But scientists have wondered for decades if the damage inflicted by senescent cells could be stopped if they were removed from the body altogether, or if the harmful substances they produced were neutralized.
     In the study reported on Wednesday, the team used mice designed to age faster than normal and treated them with a drug that identifies cells that have stopped dividing. The drug then initiates the natural process that leads to cell death by puncturing the membranes of those cells alone.
     The researchers treated some mice over the course of their lifetimes and found a “quite dramatic delay” in the development of cataracts and age-related changes to muscle and fat, Dr. van Deursen said.
     In other mice, the compound was administered in old age. Clearance of senescent cells in those mice didn’t reverse the decline that had already occurred but prevented further deterioration.
     The drug appeared to clear out only senescent cells, not normal ones, and the animals didn’t appear to suffer any side effects, the researcher said.
     Extensive research is still necessary to test whether the clearance of senescent cells would have the same effect in mice that age normally and whether there are different effects in different tissues, such as the brain as compared with muscle tissue, said Dr. Sierra of the National Institute on Aging.
     Another question is whether continuous clearance of senescent cells is needed to produce health benefits, or whether intermittent removal–a spring cleaning of sorts–is just as effective, the study’s authors said.
     The work was funded by the Mayo Clinic, as well as several private foundations and philanthropists interested in promoting research into aging.

A lot of information to digest. But if you’re curious like me, there’s so much that’s intriguing about life from its inception to its demise, that I’m all ears and eyes when it comes to learning the intricacies of our bodies and what makes them tick. And sometimes, we can garner a tip or two about enhancing the quality of our lives…

Portrait of old woman sitting by a window.

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…while the clock continues to…tick-tock…tick-tock…


air mattresses and car accidents…purveyors of pain

“Sleeping on an air mattress for 2 weeks is highly inadvisable!” should be required language on the carton…and not in small print…for seniors like myself who need 3D, neon-colored, flashing letters.

Since my husband was headed on a business trip for a couple of weeks I opted to spend the time with my daughter. Thankfully, the plane ride was much shorter than the one to Europe earlier in the Fall. My body arrived at its destination in one piece, instead of a jumble of puzzle pieces as was its fate after 13 hours or so of flying time before boarding the Queen Mary II.

An air matress for use as a guest bed.

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Rather than acquiesce to displacing my daughter from her bed, especially since she was in rehearsal mode for an upcoming performance, I decided to tough it out on her air mattress. It’s a very good, top-of-the-line model, but back support isn’t a feature for which it’s noted. I learned the hard way when the day before I was to fly home, my lower right back felt as though a knife was embedded deep within.

Getting up and down stairs was painful, as was lowering myself into a chair. So I sat through 2 1/2 hours of a ballet without a break, since I didn’t want to trek back up the stairs until it was time to leave. Not until we were back in my daughter’s apartment did I find respite from the pain by applying a heating pad to my lower back. Rather than catching 40 winks on the air mattress my last night there, I opted to sleep on the sofa.

Afraid I’d suffer through the flight home, my daughter was able to get an emergency appointment for me with her chiropractor the morning I was to leave. Minutes from his office, as we were exiting the freeway and waiting to merge into highway traffic, my daughter’s car was rear-ended by a Jeep Liberty SUV. The jolt shattered our attempt to maintain calm despite the off-and-on pain I was harboring. Probably because we had each other, my daughter and I were able to quickly collect ourselves.

Stepping out of my daughter’s Honda CRV, we realized the young woman driving the other car was a “basket case.” Crying into her cell phone, we weren’t able to make out what she was saying. I asked my daughter to call 911. When she approached the other driver, the first thing we discovered was that she didn’t have a driver’s license. She had car insurance, or rather, her husband did. He was enroute to the scene of the accident as we spoke.

Fortunately for us, the spare tire of my daughter’s Honda CRV stopped the Jeep “cold.” The only damage was a ding in the trunk door and a small tear to the spare tire’s fabric cover. Meanwhile the Jeep’s entire front grille was smashed in, transmission fluid pouring out nonstop. AAA was called to tow that car, while we were able to drive away on our own. Nonetheless my daughter will have her car checked out to make sure the rear axle wasn’t damaged in the collision.

After settling matters with the policeman, my daughter and I continued on to the chiropractor. We were both adjusted. She, because of whiplash symptoms that would surely surface in a day or two. As a result of my treatment, I was able to endure the 5-hour flight home to Seattle and walk off the plain, pretty much pain free. It wasn’t until I tried to get out of bed the following morning that the full impact of my back pain, and lack of sleep weighed heavily.

Taking it easy until I saw my own chiropractor a couple of times, I’m finally making my way back toward normalcy. Lessons learned? An air mattress is a very short term substitute for the real thing. Good chiropractic adjustment is a God-send. Things can get worse…when one thinks they can’t. Compassion at the scene of an accident releases tension and curtails animosity…I gave motherly hugs to the other driver who spoke halting English, and looked to be pregnant. 

Was all this worth the trip? Anytime spent with my daughter is more than worth the price paid in dollars and inconveniences to this mother. Life goes on…but cherished moments together…come and go in the blink of an eye.