Monday, February 19, 2024

“Why do I read?

I just can't help myself.

I read to learn and to grow, to laugh

and to be motivated.

I read to understand things I've never

been exposed to.

I read when I'm crabby, when I've just

said monumentally dumb things to the

people I love.

I read for strength to help me when I

feel broken, discouraged, and afraid.

I read when I'm angry at the whole


I read when everything is going right.

I read to find hope.

I read because I'm made up not just of

skin and bones, of sights, feelings,

and a deep need for chocolate, but I'm

also made up of words.

Words describe my thoughts and what's

hidden in my heart.

Words are alive--when I've found a

story that I love, I read it again and

again, like playing a favorite song

over and over.

Reading isn't passive--I enter the

story with the characters, breathe

their air, feel their frustrations,

scream at them to stop when they're

about to do something stupid, cry with

them, laugh with them.

Reading for me, is spending time with a


A book is a friend.

You can never have too many.”

By Gary Paulsen, Shelf Life: Stories by the Book 

Thursday, February 15, 2024


Sadly, this has never been more true.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

A Brownie for Breakfast - Go Chiefs!


Starting Super Bowl Sunday off just right -

With a brownie for breakfast 😊

Later I'll have one with some ice cream 😛

In the meantime there's a kitchen full of Super Bowl food, including chicken wings (of COURSE!!!),

some chips and salsa which are a great base for alllll kinds of yummy treats

Gotta have some nuts to munch on during those nervous moments

I am ready

for some football!!!!

and I can't wait to see Taylor and Mama Kelce and families.

Go Chiefs!

Friday, February 9, 2024

My Football Journey - A Long and Winding Road


Super Bowl Sunday!   Coming Soon!

There was a time when my home would be full of people on this hallowed day.

It started when I was a little thing and growing up with a dad who was an obsessive Colts fan.  Actually, I'm not sure there was any other kind of Colts fan.

Tickets were all but impossible to come by.

When someone died their Colts tickets were passed down.

My dad did not own a Colts season ticket, but he owned "part" of one.

He didn't get to go to all the home games, only when his turn came up in the rotation, but those he did get to were always something he enjoyed more than just about anything else in life.

And he was usually in trouble the next day.

He would go with this crazy crowd of cronies.  They were always later getting home than he said they would be.  Much later.  And he would usually bring my mom a gift to ease the pain of the wrath of Hazel.  That gift ploy never ever worked.  Never.

I hesitate to mention some of the gifts 'cause I don't want you to think less of my dad, but LordAMercy.  They were awful.  (But funny.  At least to me.)

Okay.  Here's one.  (My mom would absolutely kill me for telling this story).

Only a group of idiot men coming home late from a football game will think it's a good idea to stop along the side of the road and pick up (okay, let's just say it - steal) a State of Maryland smudge pot.

Anyone remember when this is what road crews would use at night to mark the roads?  Like say, they were doing a repair and wanted to re-route cars away from the repair site?  There would be a line of these flaming smudge pots showing a new traffic pattern.

Well, we had one.

And no, my mom was not happy.  She did not love her smudge pot.

I think I remember her saying she was going to call the State of Maryland and turn him in for stealing state property.

And I think we all got kinda tickled about that, truth be told.

What can I say - I was raised by crazy people who laughed at crazy stuff.  And did crazy stuff.  I would not swap parents with anyone.  Never wanted to as a kid, and am thankful for having grown up to have them as friends.  They were the best.


When my dad couldn't be at a game and when it was on TV there was always this group of rowdies hanging out at our place.  

Here's the roster - Tom Duncan and his dog Bobo (I loved Bobo.  Loved Tom too).  Dude Willoughby and his younger brother Young Dude Willoughby.  Some guy named Fish.  Another guy named Moose.  There was a Donnie (the only one I didn't particularly care for).  And a sweet old guy named Fred.

They would drink beer.  A lot of beer.

My mom would make sandwiches, or sometimes cook them a nice meal.  She would put it out on the kitchen table so they could help themselves and then she would disappear into the bedroom, close the door and read or nap.

She was not a fan of football.


I was usually on the floor, sitting between my dad's feet sneaking sips out of his beer.

This was a problem.

My mother would pitch a fit about him allowing his only child to become an alcoholic before the age of 10.  (I'm telling you, she had some great lines).

It was also a problem when the Colts would score and everyone in the room would stand up, arms straight up in the air, screaming SCORE!

I occasionally had my fingers stepped on.  I also occasionally would accidentally hit someone in the nose when my hands went straight up for the SCORE!

We had an old sofa that sat on 4 short little wooden legs.  When the guys sat back down one Sunday after the SCORE! all four legs popped off the sofa and pinged against the walls.

Oh, yes - Hazel Wilkinson was thrilled.

Long story short - a new sofa was bought.

But the very next time the guys were over to watch the Colts someone's cigar was dropped and there was a nasty burn in the sofa arm.

WHY my mom put up with all this I will never know.   But.  She loved all these guys.  They were all a huge part of our family life for many, many years.

And these things did make for great stories, I have to say.

You might already know the end of this particular saga.

Colts owner Robert Irsay moved the team from Baltimore to Indianapolis, completely unannounced, in the early morning hours of March 29, 1984. This after having been THE team in Baltimore since 1953.

Believe me when I say this is still a topic of conversation and it has not yet been forgiven.

When Donald and I were cleaning out my mom's apartment we found this -

Oh, yes.  This was a huge hit back in 1984.

But I had to laugh that my mom still had it.

Tucked in a drawer.

An old 45 that had been my dad's.

Back when he was heartbroken and mad as hell about losing the Colts.

Back when we actually had a turntable on which this record could be played.

Moving ahead quite a few years and I was now in Atlanta and pulling for the Atlanta Falcons.  This was before, during, and after the Bartkowski years.

There were always, always, always, people at my house watching football.

Once again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

My furniture was now the furniture bearing football scars.

My house was now the place people were drinking beer, a lot of beer, and standing up to shout SCORE!

I was the one making sandwiches and leaving them in the kitchen for everyone to help themselves.


I had become my mother AND my father.

I was also totally in love with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  More so than the Falcons, truth be told.

Mostly I loved Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, Franco Harris and Lynn Swann.  Man - I loved those guys.

But, as time went on I lost my taste for football.

Then, for maybe a year, it was back when Cam Newton was a fun new player with the Panthers.

Then it was gone again.

(Am I the most fickle football fan ever?!)


It's back.

and in a big way.

Now I'm head over heels in love with The Chiefs.

Well, okay - yes, Travis Kelce does make me swoon a little . . .

And yes, I love the Taylor & Travis fairy tale and hope they last forever together.

And yes, I think the haters and the conspiracy nuts are pitiful, pathetic, sad, and ignorant.

Now I'm a happy girl with my bum parked in front of the TV watching The Chiefs play ball.  And I will still stand up and shout SCORE!

Football is fun for me again.

Who knew?!

So.  In a couple days I'll be reliving the kind of Sunday I have lived, off and on, since I was a little bitty thing.  Back from the time I was a kid sitting between her dad's feet stealing sips of beer.  I'll be in my own chair for this game, drinking my own glass of wine, and I'll be thinking about my dad.

Watching The Kansas City Chiefs play The San Francisco  49ers in the Superbowl.

No big crowd of people.  Just me, Donald and Annabelle.  Not as many superbowl snacks sitting around as there might have been back in the day, but some.  More than enough.

I am a very loud football fan, even watching it on TV.  That will never change.

I still jump up and yell SCORE!

It seems to be a part of my genetic make-up, that "SCORE!" thing.

And I still yell at the refs.

And I am, of course, a great armchair quarterback AND coach.  

It's fun to have a team to cheer for again.  To know the players and their positions.

Truth be told, none of this would be happening for me if it weren't for one person.

And you know who I mean - Taylor Swift.

I love her.  The woman just rocks and she's made football fun again for people like me who walked away from the NFL for so many reasons.

Man, I hope she makes it to Sunday's game and I hope the Chiefs win, and I hope she and Travis get to share a big ol' smooch on the field afterwards.

Go Chiefs!

I am ready for some football!

Note: This is a revised piece which was originally posted at the Jungle Reds blog back in 2016.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

What's cooking in Meat Camp

 The BEST Pork Tenderloin Ever


  • 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin

  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix

  • 1 cup water

  • ¾ cup red wine

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place pork tenderloin and soup mix in a slow cooker. Pour water, wine, and soy sauce on top, turning pork to coat. Carefully spread garlic over pork, leaving as much on top as possible. Sprinkle with pepper.

  2. Cover and cook on Low for 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

  3. Remove pork from the slow cooker and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with cooking liquid on the side as au jus.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci

It's only February, but I am pretty sure David Baldacci's A CALAMITY OF SOULS will end up on my Favorite Books of 2024 list, maybe even in the #1 spot.

To be released in April, but available for pre-order.

Brad Meltzer thinks This is the book David Baldacci was meant to write."

Scott Turow thinks it "may be the best novel David Baldacci has ever written."

 Set in the tumultuous year of 1968 in southern Virginia, a racially-charged murder case sets a duo of white and Black lawyers against a deeply unfair system as they work to defend their wrongfully-accused Black defendants in this courtroom drama from #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.  

Jack Lee is a white lawyer from Freeman County, Virginia, who has never done anything to push back against racism, until he decides to represent Jerome Washington, a Black man charged with brutally killing an elderly and wealthy white couple. Doubting his decision, Lee fears that his legal skills may not be enough to prevail in a case where the odds are already stacked against both him and his client. And he quickly finds himself out of his depth when he realizes that what is at stake is far greater than the outcome of a murder trial. 

Desiree DuBose is a Black lawyer from Chicago who has devoted her life to furthering the causes of justice and equality for everyone. She comes to Freeman County and enters a fractious and unwieldy partnership with Lee in a legal battle against the best prosecutor in the Commonwealth. Yet DuBose is also aware that powerful outside forces are at work to blunt the victories achieved by the Civil Rights era.  

Lee and DuBose could not be more dissimilar. On their own, neither one can stop the prosecution’s deliberate march towards a guilty verdict and the electric chair.  But together, the pair fight for what once seemed impossible: a chance for a fair trial and true justice. 

Over a decade in the writing, 
A Calamity of Souls breathes richly imagined and detailed life into a bygone era, taking the reader through a world that will seem both foreign and familiar.

-  -  -  -  -

A Calamity of Souls, the story of a murder in southern Virginia in the mid-1960’s, may be the best novel David Baldacci has ever written, which is saying a great deal. It has a gripping plot and a shocking ending, and even better than that, is also a perfect evocation of a difficult time in America’s history, propelled by deep and moving characters and beautiful writing. It captured me completely from the very first page.” —Scott Turow, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“This is the book David Baldacci was meant to write. Of course it’s filled with rich characters and a mystery at its core, but what makes this novel such a standout is the way Baldacci pours his own past into it. Terrifying, dazzling, and a true reckoning, A Calamity of Souls is a time machine that proves the Civil War never ended—and that the only way out is together.” —Brad Meltzer, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Friday, February 2, 2024

Returning to The South Carolina Low Country


We certainly can't go to Europe every year.  

Sadly, can't take a Viking cruise every year.

But, we CAN plan a get away a little closer to home fairly often.

And neither of us have to ever said no to a little time at the beach.

So, back to the magical Low Country we go.

Donald was not able to go with me when I went this past October, but he and Annabelle will be going along with me a little later in the year.

 I'm excited.

SO excited to have this little get-away booked and sharing some of the Low Country magic with Donald.

Life is Good

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Things that are making me happy

There are a few things making me happy lately.

Strong Women.

Young Love.


A new hat.


And Donald and I sharing a look and a giggle when one of us says, "$83 million!" Ha! hahahaha!  😄😅😆🙃😛😝


Okay - Moving Along - - -

I love strong women, so just knowing E. Jean Carroll and Taylor Swift are on this earth makes me happy.

If you weren't familiar with E. Jean Carroll until recently, please do a little bit of research.  This is an amazing woman.

Strong. Smart. Fierce.

A woman we all strive to be and would love to have as a best friend.  You know she'll have your back.

And she should be recognized for more than the fact that she won her lawsuit(s) against the man who raped her.

She could be the face we see when some of us look in a mirror.  

A woman who was stripped of SO much by a monster.

A woman who ultimately decided to fight to get it all back.

I watched this segment on Rachel Maddow's show last night.  It was enlightening, and the interview was one I enjoyed.  It left me smiling.

Winning this case is the beginning of getting her voice back.  May it be loud, may it be heard.

I lift a glass to E. Jean Carroll.  And wish I could lift it in person to say, "Thank you, Ms. Carroll, for all you've done."

And here's to that other strong woman I love - Taylor Swift.

This woman rocks in a beezillion different ways.

Again, Strong. Smart. Fierce.

But a certain segment of people are scared to death of her.

Another enlightening news segment - take a look:

It's crazy!!!

She is, without a doubt, a very powerful woman, but I think the MAGA crowd might be reaching a bit.  😜 😲 😵 

You Need To Calm Down

Yes, Put me firmly in the "I'm a Swiftie" group.

And, yes, she has brought me back into the game of football.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to have a favorite team to cheer for, and I am completely besotted with the Kansas City Chiefs.  Admittedly, Travis Kelsey being so damn easy on the eyes was an incentive as well.

He is an amazing athlete, loves his family, is a loyal friend, has just enough silly about him to make him irresistible, and a heart as big as the moon.  What's not to love?

Yep.  The Chiefs are making me happy.

Travis and Taylor together are adorable.

I love 'em.  

They're making me happy.

I wish them lots of love and laughter.

In the meantime, let's win us another Super Bowl!

That'll make me happy.

Y'all, life is good.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Thursday, January 25, 2024

New . . .


New pashmina, new hat -

Life is good.

My new hat is the replacement for the one I lost somewhere between Paris and Meat Camp.

I am not as in love with it yet, but . . . here's hoping.

The gorgeous pashmina is a gift from my pal Hank Phillippi Ryan.  Have you read her book THE HOUSE GUEST?? 

Better grab it, it is fabulous!  AND her new book, ONE WRONG WORD is hitting the shelves February 6.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

A Perfect Day

A pot of homemade soup simmering,


And the latest J. D. Robb

Life is Good