GRADUATION CEREMONIES used to be reserved for high school and college. Now, they start having graduation events after kindergarten. Having lived through years of awards nights and graduation ceremonies with my three children, I can remember the endless hours and rituals before your own child finally walks across the stage.  Are graduating ceremonies too long?

Graduations are sometimes long and boring

I would not have missed any of my children’s graduation ceremonies for anything.  One daughter was her high school valedictorian, and later graduated from an Ivy League school.  Those graduations were pretty memorable for me, but maybe not so much for other parents.

Another daughter’s high school graduation was kind of a bummer. The girl who preceded her as they marched in alphabetical order was abruptly informed that no diploma awaited her.   Image the humiliation in front of all those people!  We have a video of the whole tragedy in living color.  This poor girl weeping as she walks  away empty handed ,  thinking she hasn’t graduated,.  My  own daughter crying in sympathy. as she accepts her own diploma.

Later, it was found to be a mistake.  Through some bureaucratic  error., the  unfortunate girl’s diploma had been lost in the shuffle .  She really did graduate, but by then, half the town thought she didn’t.   She  left soon after that.  never to return. Who can blame her?

I know someone who went to great expense and effort to attend his grandchild’s graduation.  Turned out they had FIVE , yes five valedictorians, all of whom made long, serious speeches while the audience nodded their heads, trying to stay awake.

  I am not good at faking interest in long boring speeches.  Coping mechanisms include wiggling my toes, studying someone’s strange attire,  going over grocery lists, mentally remodeling my kitchen, and sucking on hard candy. .

Sometimes, an honored keynote speaker gives a really great speech.  That helps a lot.  But the warm glow doesn’t really last long enough to get you through the tedium of hundreds  of students in matching caps and gowns slowly making their way toward the stage.

Like weddings and funerals, graduation ceremonies are a necessary part of life.  I just wish they didn’t have to drag on forever.


It all began soon  after we retired.  We had dreamed of sitting on our front porch before dinner, sipping wine and enjoying our beloved Indiana greenery.  Unfortunately,   bees hovered over our wine, and mosquitoes enjoyed the taste of my skin.    After a few years, of slathering me with bug spray and swatting bees away from our wine, we decided to screen in the porch. That worked well for a long time, but just the other day, we noticed a pile of fresh sawdust on the ground . Upon closer inspection, we saw a deep hole under our porch railing.  Help! Bee drilling hole in house.

Last fall, we had a similar problem, when the squirrels began eating our house.  It was hot and dry, and I guess they were so hungry that the wood tasted pretty good.

Okay, rodents with their sharp teeth, I can understand.  But I never dreamed a big black carpenter  bee could could drill herself a little nest inside our wooden porch railings. I scared her away for awhile with insecticide , and found the hole she was drilling.  It wasn’t very big, just about 1/4 of an inch in diameter.  Seemed like we could handle that.


I turned on my computer and keyed in  Bees boring holes wood.  What I read scared me.   It turns out  that carpenter bees like to bore little holes in wood for a place to plant their eggs.  Yikes, hundreds of baby bees can grow  and develop  into grownups, right inside your house.   Worse yet, if you don’t realize what’s going on, they will drill more holes and soon you will have swarms of bees invading your home.

Someone suggested filling the holes with putty.  That worked for a day, until the putty either fell out, or the bee bored through it.  Soon , the bee was back at work. Okay, now I was desperate.  It wasn’t going to be that easy.  First, I approached the hole in the bright sunlight, while the bee was out doing something else.  I filled a q-tip with insecticide, inserted it in the hole, and poked around. The hole was wide and deep.  Next, I wadded up some Saran wrap and stuffed it in the hole, covered it with aluminum foil, and sealed it with duct tape.

Now we had a really frustrated, angry, bee. banging away at our porch.  She couldn’t believe what had happened.  Frantically,  she flew up and down,  drilling  away with that stinger in an effort to get back inside her hole. That went on until dark.  I don’t know what happened after we went inside, but she’s not there today, and I think she may have given up.  But now we know we aren’t safe.  It could happen again, anytime, anywhere, this summer.

Watch out.  Are bees drilling holes in your house?


Memorial Day is special for me, because so many of my ancestors and immediate family are buried in a small country cemetery.  Usually, my husband and I drive up to a nearby shelter for a picnic, then over to visit the graves of my parents and sisters.  That’s a hard time for me—missing them so much that a hollow feeling rises in my chest and tears run down my cheeks.

After arranging the flowers, the highlight of the day awaits me at the top of a hill, under a towering oak tree.  For there, my great, great, great uncle, Ren White, came back from fighting in the Civil War to erect a memorial to the men who served with him in “Company D.”  Every man in the company is listed, but it doesn’t say which ones didn’t return.  Uncle Ren wasn’t a captain, either—just a mere sergeant.  But when he came home, he spent the time and money to erect this memorial to the men who fought to free this country of slavery.  Wow! Gives me the shivers, just thinking of how proud I am of him.

I wonder what motivated him to enlist. Knowing that branch of the family, I’m sure his motives were not mercenary, because they owned thousands of acres of Indiana farmland. My mother, who loved genealogy, probably knew if Ren had a wife and children, but I don’t.

 Little did he realize that one day, a photo of that thoughtfully erected monument would be shown over the internet.  On this Memorial Day holiday, I salute you, Uncle Ren White, for your courage and patriotism.



According to Kate Snow on NBC news,  the average person spends 9 hours per day on their iPhone.  That’s more than half of your waking hours, and it is the new normal.  How could anyone find so many interesting things on their phone?  My phone tells me I spend about half an hour a day checking e mail, Facebook,  a few news reports, and messaging.  Apparently, I’m a total oddball in today’s culture, but that’s fine with me.  Who wants to be normal?


Facebook is usually full of spam from people who’ve somehow gotten into my account.  I enjoy updates from family and friends about what they’ve been doing, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to scroll through these new posts.

The fact is, I don’t always know exactly where my phone is.  I carry it in my car,  and when I’ walking in the park or shopping.  But I’m liable to leave it in my car, or somewhere in the house, so far away that I don’t even hear when it rings.  Often, I have to call from my landline to find out where my cell is buried under a pile of papers.

How do I spend those extra 8 ½ hours “off” my phone.  For starters, I read two morning newspapers:  The local paper for gossip, obits, road closings, and city politics. The Indy paper for better coverage of all national news, and what’s going on in the big city where my daughter lives with her family. Both papers have thinned down in the past few years, but it’s still fun to read the funnies, the bridge column, the editorials, recipes and local sales ads.  There is nothing more enjoyable than morning coffee while spending an hour poring over the newspapers.

More importantly, I get to read some wonderful books.  Have you read the biography of the first woman Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor? I can assure you it’s vastly more interesting than scrolling through Twitter, Snap Chat, Facebook and Instagram.  Another fascinating biography is about Alexander Hamilton’s wife,  Eliza.

Reading a good book is more interesting than scrolling your iPhone

Then, there’s the old fashioned habit of “visiting” with family and friends.  Yesterday, our daughter and her husband stopped by to help us plant geraniums and have lunch.  After their daughter arrived, we sat around the table talking and laughing, only using our phones to share a few pictures.  No one seemed more interested in their iPhone than sharing stories and talking politics.

I know, reading books, and visiting around the dining room table are outdated pastimes from another era.  But they’re  much more fun than scrolling through twitter.   Who wants to be normal?


Having grown up in the hometown of Indy 500 owner Tony Hulman, I can remember when race day was considered a classy event. The rotogravure section of the Terre Haute newspaper featured pictures of country club socialites in lovely sundresses and seersucker suits with smug smiles on their faces.  They were elite—friends or acquaintances of the famous Tony himself.  It was quite the status symbol to attend the race with a reserved seat in the stands , even though most women found it about as exciting as watching paint dry.  Let’s face it, staring at a racetrack while waiting for a race car to zoom by every so often– for three plus hours–isn’t that entertaining.  A lot of alcohol was needed to get drunk and naked at the Indy 500. 

Those days  of exclusivity are long gone.   Indy 500 is a weekend long party starting with Friday’s Carb Day Concert, where just about anything down and dirty is not only accepted but expected. People can bring their own coolers stuffed with all the alcoholic beverages they could ever consume.  Nakedness among drunken males and females in the crowds barely raises an eyebrow.  Peeing in public is normal behavior, as is passing out drunk under the stands.  So, if you’ve always longed to defy convention, roll in the mud to cool off from 90 degree heat, drink yourself into a stupor, this is your best chance. Just don’t dress up. 


This is not to say that rich people no longer attend the Indy 500. There are lots of celebrities and elegant parties thrown by the sponsors.  In fact, if you’re in town race day weekend , you’ll see glamorous women in lavish ball gowns entering hotels at any time of the day or night.   But it’s mostly a white trash bash.


Do you love hot weather?  Anyone who reads my blog knows that I don’t.  Yes, it’s great to have a green lawn and pretty flowers.   But I really don’t like air conditioning.  A sweater is a must if you’re going  from a blazing hot day into a store, movie, restaurant or just about any public place. It’s always too cold inside for me.  And my own home is no exception.  Summer is when the battle of the thermostat begins. Are you smokin’ hot or cold?


Your husband may turn down the thermostat  when you’re out in the kitchen fixing breakfast.  He’s hoping you won’t notice.  And then,  all of a sudden, you’re breaking out in goosebumps.  My husband, being a kindly person,  hates to see me shiver.  At that point,  he will turn the air conditioning down until my lips are no longer blue.  Half an hour later, he’s breaking out in a sweat and pulling off his shirt.  Now, I’m turning down the thermostat, and putting on a sweater.  After all, it’s the same as winter.  You can always dress for warmth,  but there isn’t much you can do if you’re too hot, except maybe jump in a swimming pool.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a pool at our house.  Been there, done that, many moons ago when I lived in Florida.  Pool maintenance took both money and energy.  At times, I felt like a janitor,  and vowed I would never have a pool again.

Are you way too hot or too cold?

The battle of the thermostat started in Indiana last week, when the temperatures got up into the 80’s. I’m bracing myself, because I know it will go on all summer. Every place  I go— supermarket, restaurant, hotel—it’s going to be too cold.  Last July, ,I sat an hour in a frigid doctor’s office and came down with a miserable summer cold. Why do doctors think it’s healthy to make their patients sit in a freezer?


One solution we’ve come up with  at home is an auxiliary air conditioner in one upstairs bedroom. The sweaty person can sleep in the cool room,  on dry sheets, and the cold blooded one can  enjoy the warmth and humidity they crave.  It’s not very romantic, but it sure beats the battle of the thermostat.


As I recall, the popularity of having a  a suntan coincided with Hollywood’s  production of more  technicolor movies. The  Wizard of Oz was made in color in 1939 . But it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the process was cheap enough for studios to make fewer black and whites.   As a teenage girl at the time, I desperately wanted to have the beautiful, even colored skin tones of stars like Jane Russell and Elizabeth Taylor.  After seeing  a technicolor movie, I would go home, look in the mirror, and realize that my splotchy, pink and white skin just didn’t measure up.  The only remedy  was to acquire a suntan.  After a few hours lying on a blanket in my backyard, I thought I looked more alluring.   But are suntans still sexy?

Technicolor movies in the 50’s started the suntan craze.

Most of my teenage girlfriends didn’t have to work part time jobs for spending money.  While I was slaving away as a salesclerk or stenographer in the summer, my friends were basking in the sunlight.  They slathered on baby oil with iodine to acquire enviable dark suntans. I tried catching up  on my days off,  but I was too fair skinned to begin with.   Now, many of those girls  I envied are getting treated for melanoma and other skin cancers.

Suntans have acquired a bad reputation in the past few years, due to warnings from the American Cancer Society. And yet, suntan parlors continue to thrive, and people going South for the Winter still come back sporting a tan. The truth is this:  most people look younger and more attractive with a light suntan.  Unfortunately , those fake, parlor suntans don’t work so well.  They may produce a ghastly, greenish yellow suntan  that makes a person look like  someone  out of a horror movie.  And they still carry the danger of skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society urges people to use strong sunscreens when out in the sun .  That advice has helped with the skin cancer problem but  now there are scads of people with Vitamin D deficiencies because they don’t get enough natural sunlight.

Surprisingly, the medical profession now tells us to get 15 minutes a per day of natural sunlight, without  using a sunscreen.   By following their advice this season, you can probably acquire a light, healthy tan while getting enough Vitamin D to make your bones stronger.   So yes, it’s still okay to have a  light suntan.  Just acquire it slowly and don’t overdo it.

Suntans are still sexy!