Hard Day’s Night


Good morning!  See how cheery I can be on practically no sleep?!  I have been waging a war on insomnia for about two years and I’m ready to shake hands and call it quits.  Not QUITS, but quits, like, you, Insomnia Monster, have won.  I have tried just about everything and now I’m working on a program to re-train myself to sleep.  I listen to the calm voice telling me everything I should do to make myself ready to sleep and to detach myself from all thoughts and feelings.  Then I turn on the meditation app and get started.  

This is Abigail’s cue (cat in a box) to start caterwauling downstairs because she’s alone and wants me to come down and carry her upstairs.  Of course, being one of the three original Strawbridge Cats, she’s older and doesn’t think she is capable of the big jump up to the bed.  More meowing.  She paws at me for attention and finally moves on to give Jillie her nightly massage and face washing.  Then it’s Atticus’ turn (tuxedo) as he jumps up purring gently and begins whapping me with his big white paw.  He has to be petted several times from head to tail and then curls up next to me; sometimes on me.  Next comes Elsie, (yellowish) who has  recently decided to join the other two and, between the very loud purrs of Abigail and Elsie, it’s difficult to hear the pleasant voice telling me to breathe.  I am trying to breathe, dammit, but I’m having trouble detaching myself from the cats who have napped all day and are ready for quality time.  I have paused the meditation so many times by now that I decide to start all over.  Okay.  Yes, the infuser is still on and the scent of lavender is wonderful.  My bed is comfortable, the room is cool but not chilly.  Breathe.  Wait, I have to go to the bathroom.  Pause.  Abigail and Atticus follow.  We have to get settled in again.  Okay, let’s try this again.   Come on Strawbridge Cats, breathe!!!!!  Move over gang; I think I’m going to take a cat nap.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz





It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…


….and if you grew up with Bob, my grandpa, that immediately brought giggles or looks of tell us more!

I belong to an unbelievable group of creative people and we were asked to write something using this title.  Instead of creepy, I would rather tell you about a story told over many generations and five decades.  

Bob was a retired Navy man, tall and skinny as a rail with red hair always kept in a crew cut.  He and Grandma were totally devoted to each other and when they married, we hit the jackpot!  I don’t remember ever seeing him angry, but I do remember as a child asking ridiculous questions and his furrowed brow thinking of a good answer and it was always a good answer.  One of Bob’s favorite things to do was pass along this story to each new grandchild and that grandchild’s child; well, you understand.  It was a family tradition.  It went something like this….

It was a dark and stormy night and four outlaws were seated around the campfire.  One spoke up and said, tell us a story, Jack, and so Jack began…It was a dark and stormy night and four outlaws were seated around the campfire.  One spoke up and said, tell us a story, Jack, and so Jack began…It was a dark and stormy night and four outlaws were seated around the campfire.  One spoke up and said, tell us a story, Jack, and so Jack began…It was a dark and stormy night and four outlaws were seated around the campfire.  One spoke up and said, tell us a story, Jack, and so Jack began….”  

This would go on and on until the kid<s> hearing it for the first time finally caught on or the rest finally couldn’t hold it anymore and cracked up laughing and Bob’s face would light up and a big smile would cover his face.  Oh, how I miss that face and his jokes and stories.  But we’ll keep passing them on.  I told Jaryd the story last week and he was pretty quick, but I got to repeat the story a few times!  

Happy Halloween!!




Saga from Texas


Continuing the saga of ‘Syl Moves to Texas”, I’ve got to say, I think I’m blending in pretty well. Or most of the time. When my new dermatologist <yes, I now have a skin doctor to add to my team of physicians> found out I wasn’t from around these parts, he winked and reminded me I needed to be armed to the max. My reply, yeah right. Then when chit chat turned to music, he said I should be sure to see Willie <Nelson> before he dies. Willie lives in Austin, and evidently likes to drop in bars and sit in with bands. I told the doc that I was pretty sure Willie was well preserved and wasn’t going anywhere soon. I went on to tell him that when Paul, Matthew and I had gone to Music Fest in Memphis to see Bob Dylan, Willie was just finishing up as we arrived. We got to Dylan’s stage and there was a temporary fence along the street so that people couldn’t stop for a free concert. As we waited, we heard a loud motor coming by and turned around; just in time to see his tour bus go by with the windows down and buttocks hanging out every window. The doc was pretty impressed that I might have seen Willie’s ass. My claim to fame. Not the kind of thing easily brought up in polite conversation, but still. I’m wondering if I should start bar hopping in Austin…may I have a glass of water with a slice of lemon, and, oh, has Willie been in today? Ideally, I might be able to find out if, in fact, I saw what I think I might have seen. But that would ruin the mystery and as a newcomer to the ways of Texas, I think a bit of mystery is a good thing.  I didn’t get a photo of Willie; so I will leave you with a Google image of the man and not his hiney because that visual is just too disturbing.   Smile!


That’s right, you’re not from Texas!


I’m a pretty easy going person.  I try to cooperate, follow the rules, be nice, and I think I do a pretty good job….most of the time.  But let me tell you about my experience with the Texas Department of Getting Your Stinking Driver’s License.   This is not a pretty story; so if you are easily agitated, just stop right here.  

Along with all my other belongings,  I moved my red Beetle Bug to Texas in January for permanent.  Soon I thought I should brave the system and get legal, I mean get my Texas license plate(s) and driver’s license.  This journey started several months ago and finally ended day before yesterday.   Always trying to manage my time wisely, I stopped first at the sign by the building that said Texas Department of Public Safety, where I had been told I could get my driver’s license.  I found a seat in the 4 x 4 room that was trying to hold way more people than it should have and filled out the paperwork that I was given at the door.  I waited, and I waited, and then I waited some more.  Finally, I was told, oh, you have to get your car tags first and for that you need to go to the Tax Office in Historic New Braunfels (I kid you not, every town around here has a sign that says, Welcome to Historic………).  Okay, I clutched my paperwork and headed for the door.  I knew I had to stop and have the Bug inspected and that was quick.  I headed to Historic New Braunfels where there are circular roads around the town square (circle?) and you have to ease off one and go this way and come back up and then around and, if you are lucky, you will see the teeny weeny writing on the door that says “Tax Office.”  I wasn’t lucky.  I stopped and asked at a flower shop, complimented the owner on her beautiful flowers, and the Bug and I headed back out.  I should have zigged instead of zagging because it was just around the corner.   I parked, grabbed all of the paperwork I had and scurried into the office; hoping this would be painless and I could get back to the other place off the interstate which wasn’t historic.   As I sat there I must have looked knowledgeable, because people who came in the door asked me where/what they needed to go/do.  I told them and even opened the door for a couple of older folks with walkers and wheelchairs.  

I felt good about my helpful self.  But soon things started to crumble around me.  A woman finally called my number; I smiled at her.  Yes, I am here and ready for you to help me!  But no.

It seems the envelope that I had for the title had something in it, but not the title.  Where was the title?!?!  I ran out and looked in the glove compartment….nothing!  I went back in shame.  I told the lady that I was so sorry to have taken her time, I would go home and look for it.  I said, I just moved here after my husband died and this was his car.  He may have put it somewhere.  She looked at me and said, “Bad things happen to everyone.”  At that moment I knew, when I came back with the title, I WOULD have a sharpened pencil in my bag, and I would jab her with it!!  No, I didn’t, but it did make me feel better knowing I would have the pencil if needed; she wasn’t even there when I went back.  But I couldn’t find the title; called the State of Arkansas DVM, sent them the paperwork and $10 and two months later, it arrived.  Yes, two months.  I called before I went back to the Tax Office in Historic New Braunfels to ask if I needed to have my car inspected again, even though it had been parked in my garage all this time, and of course, I did.  I got the phone lady’s name and must have been entertaining, because when I got there and someone asked me if they could help me, I spoke up and said, yes, I am here to see Jane!  She came running and I thought she was going to hug me!  Easy Peasy!!  By the way, the man who inspected it the first time was so nice, he just copied the information from before and didn’t charge me!  Yea, for nice person in Texas!  

I remembered to ask if I had to get my driver’s license that day (I still had three perfectly good years left on my Arkansas license, after all) and the nice policeman standing there said, nah, how are they gonna know?  I liked him!!  I  had paid for an official copy of my birth certificate from the place where you get those in Arkansas because they wouldn’t take the original.  I had everything I needed and I was feeling cocky having gotten my Texas license plates!  I stopped at the TDOGYSDL.  The woman, started going through my stack of paperwork.  Birth certificate, social security card, marriage certificate, death certificate, proof that I do live here, my current license.  Wait!  Your name on your birth certificate is Stone and your name on your marriage license is Miller and now your name is Strawbridge!  I looked at her; she looked at me.  I explained that in my youth I had been married briefly to someone named Miller, but Paul and I had been married since 1980.  That didn’t matter, she said.  She had to have the marriage license  or divorce decree from that very brief time when my train derailed.  I tried to explain again that it had been a very long time ago.  She couldn’t seem to understand why I didn’t have the paperwork.  I began to cry.  The manager came over and apologized and wrote on a post-it note that when I came back I could go to the front of the line.  But, I didn’t know how in the world I was going to get that last piece of paper.  Then I remembered a very good friend back home who might just know somebody.  I called and he did and he got it and sent it to me!!  WooTwoo!!!  But then I was afraid to go back.  I tried.  I will go tomorrow.  I will go next week.  Well, I went Wednesday, and my new best friend, Irma, the Manager of the Texas Department of Getting Your Stinking Driver’s License,  was there and she remembered me and she was so pleasant (or afraid I would start crying again)!!  Matthew had gone with me for moral support and I told Miz Irma that I brought my first born son if that would help.  She assured me that it wasn’t necessary.  I gave her a sugar free Ricola cough drop when she had a tickle cough.  She looked at my stack of paperwork, she made copies, she fingerprinted me.  On the application I had filled out months ago but still had, I had answered the “have you had medical treatment in the last year” with yes, breast cancer.  Evidentaly, that was important and I had to fill out another questionnaire regarding breast cancer.  I swore to Irma that I had never used my breasts to drive and it should not be a problem.  Texas Law.  You have to obey the rules.  I did as I was asked.  I stood and had my Cosmo photo taken, I passed the eye exam and I got my temporary Texas driver’s license!!  Wha?  Temporary?  Yes, it seems it will take two weeks to get the real one in the mail and four to six weeks to get my voter registration card in the mail and all for just $25 and it is good for six years!!!

All I can say is thank goodness!  I was ready to sell the Bug and get a scooter til Matthew reminded me I would probably have to get a license for that and the paperwork would be totally different. 

Road trip!!!!!

Sweet Baby James


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I’m not sure where my life might have taken me if not for music.  I met Paul at the university music department.  He worked at a record store while going to school and was always turning me on to good stuff.  I was surrounded daily by bands, choirs, ensembles, music of all sorts with my job.  I had already been listening to James Taylor for a very long time.  When he was in London sitting in on the Beatles recording their White Album, I wasn’t a teenager yet, but I soon caught up and have been in love with his voice; his music ever since.  I guess you could say he is the soundtrack of my life.  He came to Memphis, usually, every other year, and we were always there; front and center.  I have my autographed ticket and I will always remember the night he shook my hand and looked directly at me.  Two concerts ago, he and his oldest son, Ben, performed together and it was wonderful!  Ben looks and sounds much like James.  Wednesday night one of his twin sons, Henry performed backup on two songs.  Awesome.  I got the tickets as soon as they went on sale and asked Matthew to be my date.  He was happy to do it because he had grown up listening to our music and I am very proud of his eclectic taste.  I have to admit I was a little anxious the day of the concert because I had never been to a Sweet Baby James concert without Paul and I didn’t know how the music would affect me.  It was absolutely joyful!  There was one song that I shed a few tears over, but I think that could be expected.  Overall, we had a fantabulous evening!  He sang, Wandering first, a beautiful song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7LjnaIox8M and then much to my delight, he sang The Secret of Life next.  

  • The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
    Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
    Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
    But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

    The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
    It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
    Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
    And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

    Now the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.
    It’s just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
    Einstein said he could never understand it all.
    Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

    Some kind of lovely ride. I’ll be sliding down, I’ll be gliding down.
    Try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
    try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.
    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.

Music is such a wonderful thing.  It can make you remember instantly the first time you heard a piece and what you were doing and whom you were with.  Can you even imagine a movie without music?  There would be no movie despite the talent of the actors.  We sing to our babies, we sing in our cars, we go to concerts to get that live music experience.  

The secret of life is truly enjoying the passage of time and the lovely ride.  Thanks for reading.

The Itsy Bitsy Dog


I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family (drum roll, please!), Penelope!  But I call her the peanut and she doesn’t seen to mind.

After Hannah died, my heart was shattered and I couldn’t even imagine having another dog.  I bought her from one of the top Dalmatian breeders in the country, she was only 1.5 years old, full of life and just wonderful and it wasn’t suppose to happen.   But the Copper Storage Disease hit her hard and fast and that was it.  I couldn’t imagine going through another death.  Then, Andrea, Matthew’s to be, started asking about getting a puppy.  I said absolutely not, it is too soon, I can’t, I won’t, putting my foot down.  But she began looking at the shelters in our area and saw the peanut was being fostered by a couple in San Antonio.  They picked her up from the shelter on the day she was scheduled to be euthanized (death row).  They had her six months and she got along well with their two small children and larger dog.  She showed me the photo.  Ohmygerd!  But she wasn’t a Dalmatian and it was too early, and when did you say they could bring her over to meet us?!

They listed her as part terrier and part chee-wah-wah, but the hair is definitely terrier and WILD!!  She has a tuft on top of her head that either sticks straight up, aka Mr. T, or this morning was in a little curl.  She has a Fu Manchu mustache and wiry hair like a Jack Russell that stands up in various places on her body.  She is just too doggone cute!!  She has lived with us a week.  What?  You didn’t think I could turn her away, did you?!

She and Jillie are doing fine together, she’s wary of Matthew, and she and the cats pretty much ignore each other.  Until the first of June when Jaryd gets out of school and they move into the house, it looks like she’s my little peanut and we’re becoming great pals.




The Strawbridges are not a cowboy people.  When this photo was taken, we were visiting a friend this summer who has horses and thought it would be fun to give it a whirl and it definitely was.  But now that we are in Texas, don’t expect a lot of these horse and Strawbridge candid photos; no, I don’t have boots and a hat yet either.

I was thinking, on this rainy day, that I have written about some of my family, and I think you know who Matthew is, but I want to introduce you to my favorite (only) son.  March 26, 1982, was the best day of my life, and I’ve had some pretty good days.  But, oh, man, this was a great day!  I had been married briefly before Paul found me and swept me off my feet.  Because I had tried to get pregnant before, I assumed something was wrong and it wasn’t meant to be.  He was conceived after a James Taylor concert…how cool is that!?…Sweet Baby James and Sweet Baby Matthew…and our lives were forever changed.  Mom died when he was two, complications of multiple sclerosis, and my mother-in-law stepped in to help this first time mom.  I was  lucky to be able to stop working for a little over a year and stay home with him.  Paul had his first teaching job and we moved away from Jonesboro during that time.  When my old job became available and the boss asked me to come back, we returned and Lucille <mil> was the best Grandmother ever.  While he was a baby, she came to our house every weekday and as he toddlerized, I took him to Grandmother’s.  He absolutely adored her.  She was a bird lover, a gardener, a kind woman and a woman who was always reading and never stopped learning.  She shared her heart and these gifts with Matthew and me and after Granddaddy died, she even learned to drive a car and they were mobile and had many adventures.  In the summers, Paul’s older sisters would drive from Michigan to get Grandmother and Matthew and take them back to visit, but along the way, they stopped at museums of every kind and a favorite stop of his was the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  

He grew to be a little boy, teenager and young man that Paul and I were/are so proud of.  He followed in his Dad’s footsteps and played trombone in band through high school and music was his major in college, but he has taken graduate psychology courses as well.  He’s applying for nursing school and I know he will excel.  He works at a rehab facility and is a favorite there.  It’s that kind Strawbridge heart.


When I’m asked about where I’ll be living in the Lone Star State and answer in a big house with Matthew, Andrea and Jaryd, I sometimes get that question mark look.  Matthew and Andrea asked me to move here first before I even considered it.  After spending two months in San Marcos sine last winter, I found that I really liked the area and decided, why not!  I am happy and feel more content than I have in a long time, and it’s because of them.  They made my birthday last week a whopper and I knew as we sat at the table having birthday lunch with Matthew, Andrea and her parents, I was in the right place.


He loves Jaryd, Andrea’s nine year old son, and Jaryd loves him.  Did I mention, Matthew will even go with me to yarn shops?!  Keeper!!

This is just a peek at how cool, kind, smart, interesting and fun my son is to be around.  I am so grateful to have him in my life.  I love my Boo Boo Bear (don’t tell him I said that boo boo bear part, please)!


Random, yes


I have spent the last few days thinking of things I should/could write about, but I can’t seem to get this brain to cooperate cohesively.  The random thoughts are like a slide projector with a few seconds before each new thought pops up.  So I will warn you now, this is going to be a random ride.

Maybe my brain took its leave while  loading that last truck of belongings to bring to Texas and saying goodbye to our home of 31 years.  That was a real tear jerker, let me tell you.  The day we were leaving, the purple iris was in full bloom; I hope Iris likes it here as much as Rose does.  Here is where I was going to insert a cool picture of Rose, but it was too big.  Imagine a big, red blooming rose, please.

Maybe it was Matthew and I catching wicked colds after battling the weather when we left Texas and again as we tried to get everything in the storage unit.  Maybe the #$%^@ storage unit caused my brain to go on strike because it was closed (storage place; not my brain) and the security code wouldn’t work…never fear, a nice young man came by to get something and his top secret code wouldn’t work either; so he wiggled under the fence.  That was much better than Matthew’s idea of driving the U-Haul through the gate.  Makes me wonder about security though.  But wouldn’t that have made a great photo to put here of Matthew plowing through?

Maybe it’s the excitement of having our last walk through of our home in New Braunfels tomorrow!!!  Yes, our.  It’s a big honking house and we:  me, Matthew, Andrea, Jaryd, Jillie, Hannah, Atticus, Abigail, Elsie, Nessie and Ogopogo are buying a house!  Did I mention it has a hot tub?!  We get the keys on Thursday!  Here are my boys:

I am so lucky!  Jaryd said he was giving me 20,000 hugs when we got back…we’re almost there.

Sleeping on a futon in the living room of Matthew’s apartment with Jillie since before Thanksgiving is wearing thin.  I love her so much, but, Jillie, please, must you sleep in the middle?  I will insert photo next of us so you can see just what I mean.  Atticus the Catticus does sleep on top of me most nights and Abigail was at the foot probably.  And, yes, I did hand stitch that quilt!


Looks cozier than it is, and yes, it is by the front door; so every time someone goes in or out, locks their car…or really anything…the girls are on high alert.  I don’t think apartment dwellers sleep at night.  I am not made for apartment dwelling.

Next week I will go back to Arkansas, flying this time because 12 hours down and 12 hours back by myself is way too much me time.  I will see friends and family I wasn’t able to get to last time, go for my first cancer checkup after the summer’s radiation treatment and spend time with my Dad.  The anniversary of Paul’s death is also next week and, really, I think this paragraph is what is causing my thoughts to be screwy and memory to be out of whack.  But, after this trip, my year of firsts will be over.  I made it through birthdays, holidays, packing and giving away stuff, and going back to oncologist.  Whatever happens next will happen and I’m going to do my best to laugh through it all.

Lastly, because I know you are dying to know, I will tell you I am still on my crusade to change the minds of the masses and get all doggy poop scooped!  I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.  What is happening in this country now with dog poop; especially at apartment buildings, is outrageous!


Thanks for reading my ramblings…..








Happenstance and Heroes


I met the most incredible young man last week.  Moving brings with it a list of things that must be done that seems endless.   I had to call the internet and cable companies to schedule cancellation of my services. I called cable because it was the first number I found.  David was the customer service person who just happened to answer my call, and  I was so glad he did,  He started asking me questions…oh, you really are making a move, he said.  Yes, and I explained.  I asked where he was…Los Angeles.  He was a Marine, but decided to leave it after eight years and California was where he landed and thought he would give it a try.  He said the weather is nice all the time, but….  I said it seems like it would be a bit artificial and he agreed and said he misses the changing seasons and his family in South Carolina.  He told me he had made the decision to move back home in March and work with his Dad in their lumber business.  

Then the reason for my call…yes, he said it could be disconnected a week from Monday…and I remarked, wonderful!  Matthew and I can watch The Walking Dead Sunday night!  He said he had never gotten into it, but his nephew back home, who calls him every other day, loves it.  Evidently, something having to do with the show is done there, and I said you have to take him back something!!  I could feel him smiling on the phone!  He is flying his nephew to LA in January to go to a Walking Dead convention/thingie!  I told him that is so cool!!  Again, I could feel the smile!

I forgot to mention that David’s youngest brother, his nephew’s Dad, had died of a heart attack.  David is this young man’s best buddy and stepped up to the plate and is there for him after the loss of his Dad.  Yeah, pretty cool guy.

We finished my business, he told me NOOOOO, I don’t have to get on the roof to take the dish down! and before we said goodbye and I wished him all the best and to have a blast in January, he said the sweetest and kindest thing to me.  He said he could tell by my voice, personality and attitude that everything will be just fine.  How can I argue with my new friend, the veteran who, in my mind, is a super hero?




My story is not unique.  Things happen, changes are or have to be made, and if you are lucky, you go with it.  That is what I’m doing, what I’ve been trying to do.  Matthew (my favorite and only son) and Andrea (soon to be wife) started encouraging me this summer while I was with them in Texas to move down there.  To be closer to my family.  I still have my 81 year old Dad to consider who is in the early+ stages of dementia.  My brother, Mickey, and I think that Dad, who doesn’t need to be living alone, should move to Little Rock, closer to Mickey and Rita and all the grandkids and great grandkids.  But this is a man who doesn’t like to get out of his safe zone and I know it isn’t going to be easy.  He has assured me it will be okay.  

Then there is the house that I/we’ve lived in since 1984.  I lucked out on my realtor, he is a sweetheart and he knows I don’t know diddly about any of this.  We inherited the house from Paul’s Grandmother; so I have never bought or sold a house before and never thought I would be doing so, or at least not making these decisions, without Paul.  There is a more than likely buyer and I have to get it all packed and ready to be out by, probably, the third week of November.

You accumulate a lot of stuff; even though I have been making regular trips to the Veteran’s Drop Box, Goodwill and the City Landfill (lost 450 pounds of attic accumulation that day).  My kitchen is full of vintage Fiesta and Lusterware from the 1940’s that Paul and I collected over our 32 years together.  The bookshelves are packed, the cds took up one whole room and I haven’t even begun to go through the albums.  I worked in the College of Fine Arts for 35 years and my walls are full of paintings, prints and photographs; each with a story of where and when we got it and why we thought it needed to come home with us. 

Carolyn, my lifesaving friend, came over today and, instead of getting her doctorate in music history, should be getting it in organization.  She says we can do this and I believe her.  🙂  She made a list and a schedule of packing for me for the week and got me on track.  🙂  I needed that!, I needed someone to smack me and give me some direction!

I can’t buy a house til I sell mine; so the plan is to move us (me, Jillie, Hannah, Atticus and Abigail) to Matthew’s apartment, rent a storage place and get busy looking.  It will be a fun adventure once I get everything down there.

It’s looking a little wHierd, the empty cabinets, closets and overall mess, but progress is being made and that is good.


To be continued….