Change Your Mood With the Right Shoes

Saddle Oxfords

There is a gumpy little saying cruising the internet. It’s all over facebook, adorned with rainbows or kittens. To be a rebel, I’m attaching my saddle oxfords to it…or I would if I had any.

First…the saying.

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

These words of pseudo wisdom are often attributed to “deep-thinker” Lao Tzu. He didn’t say them. Nor did he write them in his 81 lessons in the Tao Teh Ching.  Because they’re fictionally attributed to him, then one of my fictional characters from my books will add, “Whatta buncha New Age Bull-loney!”

I ran a little test on the meme.

When a friend recently posted this photo of these oxfords, it reminded me how I longed for a pair when I was young.  All the cool kids had them. We couldn’t afford them. I’m not sure what I wore instead—probably something that resembled cement blocks—because a pair of shoes had to last the entire school year.

So re-living the past made me a little sad. That part is true.

But then…My motto is: It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I went on a quest, looking for adult oxfords.

For only $105, I found a spiffy updatedd pair. They were beautiful—until I put them on.

  • No arch support.
  • Toes pinched together
  • I was going to have to use shoe polish to keep them looking “spiffy.” Gaaak! Too much work.
  • Too much discomfort to qualify for the the $105 “Bull-loney!” price.

Now…I’m not saying the shoes of the by-gone days were terrible…or if  you loved your saddle oxfords you’re wonky. All that I’m asking is, could it be that the past wasn’t as bad or good as I remembered it?  (Kind of like “first loves” who tend to be remembered more fondly than they really were).

So… I gave a boot-kick to little one liners like the one above, which imply that if you were simply more disciplined and made yourself think the right thoughts, then you wouldn’t be such a dipsy-doodle.

Where are the one-liners that say …

  • You’re human.
  • Sometimes you’re in the present.
  • Sometimes you remember the past
  • Sometimes you’re gonna gnaw on your bottom lip, thinking “what-ifs” about the future.
  • Change happens.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Love yourself.
  • Go get a comfortable pair of shoes.

Oh, and I’m attaching a cute little picture so you’ll know these one liners have credence.

Posted in A Laugh, Appreciation, Cats/Dogs, Change, Choices, Enough, Hope, Humor, Life, Satire, Smiles, Worries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Laugh till You Cry

Usually I’d rather come up with original posts.

But parts of this made me laugh so hard, I was crying.

I share it here, in case you need some light heartedness. Be inspired by these blunders. We’re all wonderfully human. (Although…some people abuse the privilege.)

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Power to the Inspiration-Challenged

February Blaaaaaaahs. So a writer-friend suggested that we attend  Zumba classes. Good exercise. Blood to the brain. Juice up the vertebrae. It’ll help our creative whats-its.

We chose the “Basic” level of classes to attend.

If only this were REAL money on these things!!

If only this were REAL money on these things!!

The level of expertise didn’t really matter to me because I usually make my own rules at events like these. It’s kind of like going to a pot luck and being assigned a “Food Category” because my last name begins with F.  You gotta be kidding…I’m supposed to bring a baked chicken?  Surprise…that chicken is going to look a lot like a can of olives (or maybe a pizza if they’ll deliver).  I say, “Power to the Potluck downtrodden. Bring whatever you want.” That’s why there’s an element of LUCK in these feasts.  You hope you don’t get something undercooked, overdone, or experimental.

So…back at Zumba Camp, the instructor was as chipper and upbeat as you’d expect anyone to be who exercises daily.  She brought these nifty…uh…rear wraps.  We were supposed to jiggle violently enough to make them sound like pennies being poured into a coffee can.  I must be deaf because I never head any of them AT ALL except the gal who took hers off, whirling it over her head. I’m guessing “STRIPPER” was listed somewhere in the early years of her resume.

I have to say, it’s great exercise, but it reminds me of the forced square-dancing we had to do in grade school gym classes.  Someone was telling us where to step, and on the stanzas I had to “swing your partner” with Louis A. who thought it was hilarious to whip his victims around tornado-style and let go. Maybe that’s why, in Zumba, I didn’t listen very well, but was polite enough to keep my imaginative steps in the back row, where I wandered around like a cow looking for the gate.

Bear with me…I’m getting to the point.

Since the publication of the first Two Pan book, people keep sending me photos of cows. You can see the book cover here if you want to see why.  Cows. Lots of cows.  Who knew cows were so funny?  Cows are the new kittens…well, maybe not.

So I received this YouTube video of this Cow’s moves, and I’m inspired to add a few more steps to my Zumba routine. I’m posting it because I hope it reminds you…like it reminds me… that no matter the job, do it with excitement and joy.  “Power to the Zumba downtrodden. Move over old Stripper, we’re making up our own moves.”

Note:  When you watch the video. Notice how people are going by without even looking. See….obviously this proves the old adage: Dance as though no one is watching.

That’s pretty inspiring.

Look for the snout wiggle at 14 seconds.


Posted in A Laugh, Change, Choices, Humor, Life, Smiles, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Making Deer Nuts and Big Money Bucks

Get away from garden , you're a wanted stud.

Get away from garden , you’re a wanted stud.

Recently a TALL  honkin’ fence went up around my neighbor’s land.

High. Ugly.

The kids, cats, and dogs sometimes cut across this guy’s fields, but this seemed like inhospitable overkill.

The newspaper woman inside of me elbowed my curiosity until I interviewed Mr. Neighbor to find out what atrocity pushed him to erect a Berlin wall.  Too much dog crap?  Kids setting off fireworks in his pasture?

Nope it was the deer. It makes me think of the old joke: What’s the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts?  Beer nuts are $1.90, but deer nuts are under a buck. (snort.)

My neighbor loves his deer. He’s trying to keep them INSIDE his acres, not out.

It seems that it all started about a year ago when he let someone hunt on his farm. They killed a big buck with 10 point antlers.  A trophy deer.

As you may already know, Each season a buck sheds its antlers and grows a new set. It seems size really does matter in the deer world, and it mostly depends on  DNA and the available food supply.

For years now, farmers have been leasing their land to hunters, allowing them exclusive hunting privileges for a fee. For some small farmers, the leasing fees pay as much as the crops they grow. Hunters put out feeding boxes or plant special crops to ensure plenty of protein to make antlers … but what about DNA?

Well… It turns out there’s a big market in deer semen and artificial insemination in order to grow gi-normous-honkin’-big deer  with more spikes than a road strip.

So Mr. Neighbor was prepared when the 10-point buck was bagged on his land. The deer’s testicles were cut off and carefully cooled. Within hours those cajones were at an artificial insemination storage facility where experts collected the semen.

Since the 1950s, semen from prize-animals (horses and cows) has been frozen, preserved, and sold. The semen is contained in units called “straws.”   One deer (buck) will produce enough semen for about 125 straws.  Each straw is worth $300-$3,000.  (Rates vary depending on antler size and body frame.)

Yeah, yeah, the rest of the deer is eaten, but that’s not why Mr. Neighbor is ” locking down” his property.

Why you ask? What’s so special about his deer’s studly parts?

Because, it seems hunters want “trophy deer.” And the best way to get a big-rack buck is to inseminate the local does with super-stud DNA. Only about 20% of procedures work.  Stress makes them reject the semen. (Well, yeah-duh.)

So, Mr. Neighbor is breeding deer for their chromosomes. A big, pointy-antlered deer-semen farm.  It’s kind of like how we used to raise cattle on a ranch, but we never got that much money for any part of beef.

We just ate the edible parts—even the tail.

Why go to all this deer trouble? So hunting resorts/lodges/farms can guarantee not only a trophy kill, but a great time.  Price tag for guests: Up to $38,000 for a hunt.

Taxidermist-CraigJW used a creepy jawset. Actually, I think this is the kind of deer raiding my garden.

Taxidermist-CraigJW used a creepy jawset. Actually, I think this is the kind of deer raiding my garden.

All I can say is that some people have too much money.

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I don’t like deer, but … this demand for deer nuts?

It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.

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The Mild, Mild West and Marijuana


There have been two changes since the last long-time post.

Before I tell you what’s different, I’d better explain a little bit, so you don’t click the delete button, thinking you’re reading about a different Universe.

Change 1:

Now keep in mind, most of Oregon’s population lives on the west side of the state. The side that’s only an hour away from sandy beaches or snow-capped mountains, depending on which direction you drive.

The rest of Oregon … well, we call it the “dry side.” About the only way they get rain is in a prayed-up frenzy.


We don’t need no sanitation. The alcohol will kill germs AND remove road tar.

But truth be told, with so few people navigating the gut-jiggling roads, the dry side used to be a great place to cook up 100-proof hooch.

Back in the day, if you needed to make a phone call, you went to your nearest moonshiner. The “shiners” were the only ones who could afford a phone. It was a business expense. With only one way through the pass, revenuers would  travel through the first town, and phones would ring down the train line. Smoke stacks on stills came down (the tell tale sign). And the government men were left staring at ranches, cattle, and tight-lipped folks.

Fast forward a hundred years to Oregon’s recently-passed marijuana bill. It’ll soon be legal to grow 4 plants and stockpile 8 oz. (A pound is worth ~$1600. Better than beef prices, huh!). But I don’t think personal possession is the main reason the bill passed.

Turns out revenues of the green stuff are expected to top 100 million bucks a year.

Now, I’m not a partaker of anything that slows down my remaining 3 brain cells. Me with toe tag(I still roll call through cats and kids before I can get my husband’s name to come out in a sentence. My conscious mind doesn’t need any more fog.

But hokey smokes…I rubbed my hands together and thought, Here’s an opportunity to make some big moola. So my first question was…

Will the deer and squirrels get high when they eat my cash crop? Because those *&!%#! creatures chew on everything in my garden that my neighbor’s wandering hound hasn’t wet down.

Unfortunately, according to the Master Gardner at the farmer’s market…well, who else was I going to ask? According to him, marijuana doesn’t kill deer (the cursed tomato-hogging creatures), nor does it get them stoned. Probably all it does is give them the munchies for my roses.

It also turns out that to be a commercial grower, I need a license which costs $1,000 with a $250 application fee. (Additional licenses are needed for processing, distributing, and retailing).

Local horticulturists are now rushing to secure warehouse spaces in the metro areas (grow indoors, free of deer, bugs and eternal cloudiness). And the clever folks on the southern tail of the state (near California) are buying up land and branding their hemp crops as “sunshine” produced. For the laid-back American West…things are picking up.

All this and none of it will be available for sale until 2016.

But the west side of the state is gearing up. Getting ready!! I’ll keep you posted…

…..Everything’s changing

….except back on the east side of the state.

Unfortunately, none of this will help the dry side of Oregon. It’s still dry. Even the moonshiners are gone now.

The train cars are still there, but only an occasional locomotive chugs through to pick up a few box cars parked on the tracks.

Everything has its day, then passes.

This latest excitement with bongs and branding shall pass, too. But I bet a hundred years from now those deer will still be eating my roses and folks in eastern Oregon will still be looking for rain.

 Change 2:

What else is different? The first book in the Two Pan Trilogy is out.

It’s about the dry side of the state where it’s still wild.  But changes of another sort are

Change is Coming by Jacki Potorke

rolling toward them.

You can Check it out here if you’d like.

I hope you enjoy what’s left of the West.

NEXT MONTH:  What’s the big deal with DEER NUTS?

Posted in A Laugh, Change, Humor, Life, Literature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Tongue Spam: Eating Everything But the Moo!

While doing research , I ran across an old black and white magazine ad for SPAM.  In the Hormel line-up was Tongue Spam. Unfortunately, I can’t find the ad again in the internet maze, but it brought back a shadowy part of my childhood.


Don’t eat My Moo!

Now I’m not really that old. The problem was, we were dirt poor. As a matter of fact, about all we had was dirt. So, I grew up living 20 years behind the rest of the world’s modern conveniences.

“Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do.”

This wasn’t even a slogan for us. It was a lifestyle. We….

  • Saved bits and doodles of soap, and then melted it to make a soap bar. (As well as making our own lye soap)
  • I thought we were strutting with the elite when we got a wringer washing machine. I was petrified that the masher would take my little fingers off.
  • We grew or raised most of our food. Not because we were hippies, health-nuts, or part of a commune. All the old folks in the family had been kicked around by the dustbowl and the depression. They believed calamity could be hiding around every corner.
  • But the most interesting was eating animal parts that none of my classmates had ever seen in a grocery store.

 Grandma loved to tell us grandchildren, “I can use every part of

From the Historic C&GS Collection Location: Stratford, Texas

the cow, but the moo.”

Up until the age of six, I thought this was cool. Fortunately, my investigative powers of sass kicked in when I was about seven, and while getting a cooking lesson on some repellent food such as headcheese or sweetbreads, I asked her:

“Whaddya do with the eyeballs, Gramma?”

“Oh, heavens. I don’t use eyeballs. Just poor people have to use the eyeballs.” ( I was thrilled to discover we’d surpassed this benchmark of poverty.)

“Whaddya do with the hooves, Gramma?”

“Give ’em to the dogs.” (Yes, those cow hooves and knuckles strewn around the yard make wonderful lawn ornaments.)

“Will the dogs eat tongue too? Please?”



“Heavens, no, child. This is good eating.”

Then she’d throw it in the pressure cooker and steam it for thirty minutes. The weight on top of the cooker, rattled like it was building up to blast to the moon, and she was lecturing about the dangers of how it could blow like TNT in the hands of the unskilled cook.

For me, tongue is a fearful food. You can’t disguise it. No matter how much mustard you put on it. Or ketchup. It represents “hard times.”

I suppose if we had meat rationing today, I’d be pretty hungry. I’m not sure which I’m more afraid of…the tongue or the cooker. Sorry, for all the sass, Gramma, but thanks for teaching me there are times in life when you have to make do with the Moo.

Posted in Appreciation, Choices, Cooking, Enough, Hope, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Women, Booze and the Homefront: 1943


Women are encouraged to use beer to get the best kind of friendships

“More of your women characters should drink,” a friend told me as we were discussing the World War II research I’ve done for my next book. “After all…those harried women were keeping up the homefront, raising a pack of kids and waiting for their men to return—if they made it. Surely those gals were drinking?”

Well…that stumped me. For the past 6 months I’ve done research

  • Interviewing a”Rosie the Riveter”(yes, a few are still alive).
  • Reading over 200 “Rosie” memoirs
  • Reading 5 non-fiction books on women at war and on the homefront
  • Interviews with 27 people who lived through the times.

There have been only a couple of references to”party girls” (Young women who got jobs then boozed and danced away their newly earned riches. Most of the women talked about the challenges, the confidence they gained, and how tired they were.

Maybe the boozy party girls didn’t leave diaries or documentaries to later be found by their families? Perhaps they don’t remember what they were drinking (What happens at the USO Club, stays at the USO Club.)

Is it possible that  only the sober, hard-working gals have left testimonies to the times?

Advertising archives have few clues. There are hardly any alcohol ads targeting women.  Cigarettes?…Sure, lot’s of encouragement to smoke.

Women are encouraged to use beer to manipulate hubby

“First the Schlitz. Then the Hat.!”
Women are encouraged to get their new wardrobe by plying their guy with beer.

So…Do you know?

I’m wondering…does anyone have a Granny or Aunt who remembers what women were drinking during the WWII?

And just for fun…

I included an ad from my favorite local wine campaign:
Mad House Wife Wines from the state of Washington.

Advertising toward women has changed a bit, hasn’t it?

Wine_Mad Housewife

Posted in A Laugh, Change, Humor, Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 45 Comments