Creatures of Habit

Stayed a week in Vermont this past summer with my cousin.

Two of the nights were at a family run motel. Not my family but a family.

First morning I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee and went to the grassy area near the parking area.

Spied a woodchuck leisurely foraging in the newly mown grass.

I love wildlife. Think I’m a bit fascinated with their behaviors.

Next morning I wake up, grab a cup of Joe and head to the same place.

Who’s there?

The woodchuck. With his same old song and dance routine.

I chuckled and thought, “Well, isn’t he just a creature of habit?”

Second thing that popped into my mind was, “He’s probably thinking the very same thing about you, Mary!”

It is so true.

God forbid my razor is not in its usual place in the shower. I’d have a conniption fit.

I think about my daily routines.

My shower routine is better choreographed than a Riverdance production. Shampoo first quickly followed by conditioner. Next up is the cleansing of the face and body with a grand finale of the Venus. Two quick strokes under the arms and maybe six on each leg -under the knee of course.

I don’t want to detail the day. You get the picture. You are also a victim of routine.

I tease my Mom all the time. She eats at the same time every day. On the dot.

But here’s the thing. We are all creatures of habit.

It’s comforting and makes life a little easier to navigate.

We all use phrases like, “Getting back into the school routine” or “Have to get back to the routine.”

I just love wildlife. We’re fascinating.

Seems Like Both

There is a ten year anniversary coming up in the next week.

Not a happy one.

It was ten years ago that a school friend of my eldest daughter lost her life in an accident. Veronica was fourteen at the time. She held on for awhile but finally succumbed to her injuries on October 20th.

Her mother asked me in a message the other day, “Does it seem longer than ten years or shorter? Or both?”

So hard to answer. Ten years seems like such a long time ago for me. A lot has happened since that time. I moved from Dallas to California. And then overseas to Malaysia. My eldest, who was Veronica’s friend, graduated from university. I lost a parent.

Life went on and just happened.

And yet I can remember the day of the accident like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon.

I’ve always been one for denial. When my daughter told me that Veronica had been in an accident I asked, “How do you know?”

She said, “Some of the football kids who were at Sonic came back and said it.”

I said, “Well, we don’t know for sure.”

Then we passed by the site and her yellow backpack was sitting there in the street while the rescue and police were securing the area.

Felt like I could vomit.

I didn’t know Veronica’s mom except for a community service project at the parish, communication about cross country car pooling and a confirmation of a birthday party.

But I did vow that I would not be one to drop off a casserole and just forget about them.

Can good things come out of bad? I guess her mom would have to answer that.

I remember, after we got word of Veronica’s death, thinking that I needed to make that call. Also thinking it would be the worst thing ever. How selfish of me.

Talking to my husband who was away at the time I said, “I can’t call her.”

He said,” You have to….”

I replied, “I know I have to but…”

He told me, “Call her tomorrow.”

I said, “I will.”

And then I paced and paced. Smoked a bunch of cigarettes. Went into my bedroom, locked the door and picked up the phone to dial. Shaking like a leaf on a tree. Knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t call that very night.

Veronica’s mom picked up the phone. When she heard from me she said, “Oh, Mary, I am so glad you called. Your family is one I had hoped I would get to know better.”

We had some things in common. Being on our own in Texas while husbands were working in the Northeast. Cross country girls. Same parish.

A few days later Monsignor called me to say that the family wanted me and another mom to be the speakers at Veronica’s service. I agreed and it was one of the few times I actually felt God’s presence with me. I honestly did not think I could do it but I felt like God was just sitting on my shoulder.

This posting is getting a little long.

Veronica’s mother amazed me in so many ways. When she needed help she knew it and asked for it. And she never wanted to be known just as the mother of the child who died.

When she knew the yard needed raking she said it. And all the cross country kids came out and raked away and bagged up the leaves.

When the thought of taking down Xmas decorations was overwhelming she called me.

When she needed help cleaning the house she let me know. And we got it done. Laughing and crying.

She and her eldest came to my house for dinner and we went to hers. Went to movies and dinner. Had a celebration of life with balloons soaring into the air for Veronica’s birthday.

I guess my posting today is to remember a sweet girl who will forever remain a fourteen year old child to us. Even if ten years have passed.

But it is also a testament to the strength of her mother.

And it is also a reminder to not take even one single day for granted.

A beautiful autumn day or a muggy day.

Seems like a long time ago. Seems like yesterday. Seems like both.

RIP Veronica Grace Sheer






Looking Up

I was watching a program a few days ago. It’s called “The Fall” and it is set in Belfast. I think it’s fab.

In one scene, the head of the police investigation said, “Always look up at a crime scene.”

I thought that was interesting because I always look up-crime scene or not. In admiration of the architecture on a soaring skyscraper. Or the clouds in the sky. Or the moon. So many reasons to look up.

I’ve even told my kids, “Don’t forget to look up!”

Here in Kuala Lumpur I am constantly looking up at the astonishing number of buildings being erected.

I usually follow with, “Where are they going to find all these people to live and work in these buildings?? Especially in this economy.”

And when I’m driving in the city, where there are loads of construction sites near popular malls and restaurants, I look up and think, “Uh oh! I hope that crane/machine doesn’t come too close to me!”

Last week a young woman was sitting in her car during typical rush hour traffic on a city street called Jalan Raja Chulan.  Near the Pavilion Mall. Not moving because of the usual congestion. She was coming from her office.

Maybe she would go home and vent to her family about the traffic. Like we all might.

But she was not afforded that opportunity. Because a part of a crane (the hook) fell on her car and killed her instantly. She was twenty three years old. The hook weighed almost a ton. She never had a chance.

Apparently the crane operator fled the scene. He could be one of the many foreign workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. Nothing would get built in this city without them. Maybe he ran because he was undocumented. I really don’t know.

Who knows?

What I do know is that this tragedy should never have happened. I really do hope that there will be a full and real investigation that takes place. That someone takes responsibility for the death of this young woman who was just beginning her life.

There are plenty of “Safety” signs all over the city. But safety procedures actually have to be in place and adhered to in order to be effective. Workers must be skilled.

There are currently six hundred construction sites. That’s worrisome.

Because even if you look up there might not be a darn thing you can do about it.







There are all sorts of illnesses and diseases out there. Some worse than others.

Many folks lose their memory but have good physical health for years.

Others have a keen mind and yet are trapped in a body that fails them.

I really don’t know which one is worse.

This past summer my husband joined me in the U.S. He doesn’t get to Rhode Island too often. Sometimes years pass.

But he tries to connect with friends from “back in the day” when he has the chance.

Petie worked at a local college (Providence College) in the IT Department. My husband sold computers to the school. They met there and became friends. An unlikely pair. A skinny Jewish kid with long hair and an earring and a well-groomed Arab salesman in a suit. But whatever. It worked.

He would come over to the house. I remember him bringing my daughter a huge stuffed bunny when she was little. It was bigger than her at the time.

Back then Petie (that’s what my husband always called him) was a slender and very fit young man.

Visited us in Texas after we moved there in 1994.

But as is wont to happen people lose touch. Especially pre-Facebook.

Happens to all of us. Get busy. Move far away. Don’t take the time to touch base.

He received a message from Petie during this visit but when it popped up it was dated November of 2014. Like eighteen months ago. Not sure how that happens?

It read, “Hey, stranger… how you doing? It’s been too damn long!!  Would love to catch up! Here’s my number.”

Petie didn’t pick up the phone and he wouldn’t be receiving any return texts from my husband.

Because he was dead from a horrific disease at the age of 50.

Petie was in great physical shape. A runner who put in miles each day.

Then came ALS. A disease that can target the most fit among us.

You don’t lose your mind. Just your body.

It’s ravaged.

Petie was diagnosed at the end of 2013. Gone by March of this year.

And there’s nothing he could have done differently.

Read Pete’s story here.

It will help put a face to the “ice bucket challenge” that you’ve all heard about in the past couple of years.

In the end my husband could only make a donation to ALS in his old friend’s name. With the hope that some day soon, with more research, there will be no need for any more “ice bucket challenges.”

RIP Peter Weiblen

Celebration of Life










Dry Hair

Was visiting my Mom this summer.

One day, after her shower, she says to me, “Gosh, as short as my hair is I just hate to dry it.”

I replied, “Me, too. I don’t think anyone likes to dry their hair.”

She laughed and said, “I thought it was just me.”


Had same conversation with my husband when passing by “Drybar” a week later.

He said, “Good for her!”

Meaning the woman who started this booming business.

No cuts. No color. Just blowouts. They are in the business of drying hair. Yes, drying hair.

She’s making beaucoup bucks.

I said, “No one likes to dry their hair.”

He replied, “Wished I had known that.”

As in “Maybe he would have started that business before her??”

I remember laughing with my friend in California about the “missed opportunity” that can present itself when you use a towel.

I never dry my hair right away. Goes up into a big, white towel. And it could stay there. Minutes, hours and maybe even days.

Seriously though. When you have your hair up in a towel it’s like a clock (or bomb) ticking. If you leave it too long? Missed your opportunity! Have to start process all over again. Wet and wrap up in a towel once more!

Good for that lady. The Drybar dame. She didn’t miss her opportunity. She actually seized it!

There are always opportunities out there.






Like Us

Went to church yesterday. Possibly my first time attending a Sunday service that was not Catholic. Stepped outside the box! No, I’m not going all new-agey but I was happy to give it a try. There are worse places to spend an hour, no?

It was a very pleasant experience. The young guy (curate) talked about giving. About how we give and who we help.

He said, “It’s easy to help folks that look like us.”

Referenced a study (that got a few chuckles during his telling of the story) about Manchester United Football fans.

An actor was set up to stumble and fall. Crying in pain and clutching his ankle. When he was wearing his Manchester United jersey a whopping 92% of the fans go to assist him.

When he was wearing a plain white t-shirt only 30% of the fans went to help the fellow.

When he was wearing the rival team’s shirt (Liverpool) only 30% of the fans aided the man.

I looked up the study (fact checker that I am) to read about it. There’s more on the study here. Quite interesting since it demonstrates that a few minor changes can alter our perceptions and strengthen bonds with other people.

Causes one to really reflect on who we help.

Just those folks that look like us?

Acknowledging that this might be true would be the first step in changing our mindset and a great reminder that we are all on the same team.

I wish you, my teammates, all a wonderful week!


Unrealized Dreams

Some years ago my husband and I were invited to a bookclub dinner with two other couples in California. The wife of one of my husband’s employees came up with the idea and thought it would be fun.

I was used to my Dallas bookclub that was comprised of a half dozen, wine-guzzling, loquacious females.

My friend, Karla (Dallas book club) told me that her husband said, “What kind of granola is Mary eating out there in California?” After he found out it was for couples.

Or something to that effect. Equivalent of “What’s Mary smoking out there?”

The book was “The Last Lecture” written by the late Randy Pausch.

I recommend it. Or at least watch his video. Inspiration from a man who knew that he wasn’t going to be around too much longer.

Hubby didn’t finish the book but I shared the finer points with him during the car ride.

It was a good book. Focused on the important things in life and unrealized dreams.

Had dinner and wine.

So far, so good.

Then the woman puts a pot on the table and asks that we all write down our own unrealized dream on a slip of paper. Without our names.

The six of us complied.

Then she pulled out each one and read them. We had to guess who wrote each one.

So far, so good.

First one was “I always wanted to be a veterinarian but didn’t get accepted into the program.”

Uh oh!

A little guesswork determined this was from the hostess who was currently working as a pediatrician.

Who knew medical school was easier to get into than a veterinary program?

Next was, “I wanted to be an airplane pilot but couldn’t due to an eye injury.”

That was from my husband who was a CEO at the time.

Geez. I was starting to sweat. Maybe I didn’t put too much thought into mine!

Can’t remember the others. But I’ll never forget mine.

“I always wanted to learn how to whistle.”

A lofty goal from a lofty girl.

Well, that certainly lightened the mood although that was not my intention.

I realized (after I mentally berated myself for such a simple answer) that I was the only one who had written down a goal that I could actually still achieve. If I pursued it.

No, I still haven’t learned how to whistle.

But I will devote some time to it. Right after I devote the time to training my overly enthusiastic, five year old Jack Russell named Thumper. LOL.

Hadn’t even thought of whistling for a couple of years. But discussion was prompted at a family gathering a few weeks ago when someone mentioned meeting the best whistler in Ireland.

Led to some chatting in the room. Who can whistle?

My father’s side? Apparently not so much.

But my mother’s side is a different story. My grandfather was always whistling. And his kids could whistle.

Got me thinking about it all over again.🙂


Have a wonderful week while you are thinking about what you would write on that scrap of paper.

Big or small.

Then go and make it happen!