Category Archives: Friends in Low Places

What Would YOU do??


A debate has been raised in my household, and I’m wondering how you would weigh in on this subject?

Back story: 

While in the check-out aisle at Wal-Mart last night, an unkempt older man dressed in stained khaki coveralls and an old knit-cap, approached Sexy Hubby and said, “Excuse me, but can you give me a ride home.”

Without missing a beat, SH said, “Sorry buddy. Can’t do it tonight.”

Dejected, the man turned around and wandered off.

Of course, I tend to freeze in any sort of awkward situation, and freeze I did, until we were safely ensconced in our car, then I wondered aloud why we didn’t give him a ride. Of course, my first thought was, “How did he get to Wal-Mart in the first place?” and “Why is that transportation stream no longer valid?”

My reason for not complying  is always fear. What if we got him in the car and he pulled a gun on us?  What if he directed us to a place where people were waiting to do us harm? I realize my imagination operates on cruise-control, unwilling to accept any reasonable explanation on any given topic, yet I was perplexed.

SH said, “If he would have approached me saying, “Hey buddy, I need of a ride home. What can I do for you? Do you need snow shoveled, or any small work done?”

I’m not sure that would have made a difference in that moment. We were caught off guard and didn’t have a response ready, except no.

After continued communication, we decided the best option would have been to offer him cash for a taxi. That way, he would have gotten his ride home safely and without mishap. Only, we never (and I mean ever) have cash on hand. (Something I vow to change after this situation. With a small amount of cash on hand, I could have readily offered this man a solution to his dilemma. I never want to be in a like situation and not be able to offer help. If the shoe was on the other foot, I hope to hell we don’t have to rely on a a couple like us for help.)

Overall, I’m disappointed that when asked for help, we declined. No only did we offer no solution, we caused shame in the poor fellow who was clearly down on his luck. So much for love thy neighbor.

This situation plagued me all night, so I’m reaching out to ask you, have you ever been in this situation? If so, how did you respond?


One Year Later: When “As Is” Is the Only Door

One year ago today, we experienced a loss so deep, so tragic, and so jolting, I’m not sure we thought we would ever move beyond the shock, pain and lingering question of “how could this possibly happen?”  In the twelve months since this tragic day, I believe we’ve learned a few things.

We’ve learned life is short and never guaranteed.

We’ve learned that no matter how devastating a loss, we can find a way to move one foot forward, if ever so slowly.

And, above all, we’ve learned to support one another – especially those experiencing dispair. I’d like to believe we are better equipped to notice warning signs of couples on the edge, and are willing to step in and offer love, support and guidance when we can. The following post was written one year ago, but perhaps still has some value and insight.

In loving memory of Kim and Kevin. I hope they are watching from above and learning and growing right along with us.

Death, regardless of circumstances, opens nearly as many doors as it closes. And honestly, I’m not sure which one is more challenging. The opening or the closing.

The doors that close are painfully obvious. Our loved ones are no longer available to us. We can’t call them, or hug them or share holidays together, but we still see their smile, remember their quirks, and most importantly we remember how they made us feel.

The doors that open are akin to The Black Hole – dark, engulfing and without end. Doors called Sadness, Denial, and Disbelief open wide. The biggest door that opens is the also the toughest door and the one in which I am not able to open let along walk though. It’s the door labeled, “Why?”

Why did this happen?

Why did my loved one have to experience this?

Why are we left without them?

Why? Why? Why?

Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve found myself outside the door called “Why?” Yet, this is by far the most unnerving and unsettling why I’ve ever faced in my entire life. (Admittedly, I am on the periphery of this tragedy. Yet, I knew both the victim and the aggressor, and they were both someone I considered a friend. I also know both the families, which only adds to my personal swirling and spinning questions of why?)

When our best man died, I was plagued with why for years. Ultimately, we came to accept the fact Dominic died racing dwarf cars, which was his passion and hobby. The why still stung, but since racing was his choice, it was easier to accept. I recognize that now – eleven years later – as it’s taken me this long to come to that summation.

Regarding my hometown tragedy, there is no answer.

As we collectively move through the internal process of why, I’ve come to understand one major development. In this awful situation, there will never be an answer for why, but only a sad realization that it really happened, placing us squarely outside the door labeled “As Is.”

The O.C.D part of my brain grapples with “As Is.” I like things to fit into neat, little justified boxes. There is no neat, little justified box for this tragedy, but rather a reason wind-chime – dangling, wobbling and blowing with the wind.

So, instead of trying to open the why door, we are forced to open the “As Is” door and see what’s inside. It’s going to look different through that door. Nothing will be the same.

Only “As Is.”

Maybe someday “As Is” will come to feel normal.

At this point, we have no other option but to make “As Is” the best it can be.


How Do You Wish To Be Remembered??


Editor’s Note:

What a hollow day.

As we all have witnessed the devastation of school children in a small town in southern Connecticut, we feel helpless. Hopeless. As though our world is shattering all around us. 

What’s happening to us as a society? Is this how we treat one another? 

It’s easy to go to an ugly place – a place filled with grey haze and negativity. Children are gone. Families are torn apart, and nary a week prior to the most blessed day of the year. 

It’s heart-wrenching. How do we move forward after such pain and destruction? 

We move forward one slow, hope-filled step at a time. 

One faith-filled step. One step that there may be a purpose of which we are not yet aware.

There has to be. There is no other explanation.

In the days that follow such devastation, it is my hope that we – as a unified people – can find trust in one another. That we can find hope. Promise of a better tomorrow. A safe tomorrow.

It seems dismal, but hope seems all that remains. In honor of the lives lost, I am posting a blog written after the death of a colleague.  Perhaps after such tragedy, we dig deep within ourselves and find a way to be better. Act better. And treat each other better. 

Ask yourself, after you’re gone, how do you wish to be remembered? 


heart in sand on beach sunset


Today, I had the unfortunate duty of paying my final respects to a former colleague – our receptionist that “never met a stranger.” She was always positive and meticulous to the point of craziness, yet nary a harsh word ever passed her lips.

I’m 100% proof-positive I couldn’t make the same claim.

Sitting in the last pew of the local community church, along side half-dozen of my former colleagues – women whom I now consider friends – made me think. REALLY THINK. If this were my funeral, the end of my days, how would I want to be remembered?

What would I want people to say about me?

What words would people use to describe me?

How would people FEEL when they thought of me?

As I sat thinking of my friend, I thought, “Kathy was kind, and loving, and remembered every detail that you ever shared with her. She often inquired about family. In fact, nearly every day, she would greet me by saying, “How is Katie today?” She was always thinking of someone outside of herself.  More directly, Kathy always left people better than she found them.

This funeral also brought to light the element of time. Kathy was diagnosed with cancer in September, and not three months later was gone.

I evaluated in my head, “How do I use my time? Do I spend it lovingly, and freely with those who mean the most to me?”

Proudly, I could say a resounded yes to that question as I learned tragically 11 years ago, when we lost our “Best Man” unexpectedly, life offers no guarantee of the length of time you receive.

Through that very painful loss, I learned not to live in regret, and to spend time with people who light me up and not those who deplete my energy with drama or negativity.

And I always take time to tell the people how important they are to me. You never know if it will be the last time you have that privilege.

I share a hug, a laugh, perhaps a kiss.

{Note: If I say, “I Love You” to you, it’s not my intent to seem creepy or weird or needy. I just want you to know how much you have touched my heart! I nearly said it to a friend on the phone today, but thought, “She’s going to think I’ve gone zag-nuts and burnt-out my last brain cell.}  

Nestled between former colleagues, now friends, who shared that last pew with me, made me realize, work friends are like non-other, and probably the best of both worlds. If you can survive eight hours every day – or more on the road – next to them and still choose to spend MORE time with them – then, it’s a huge success. It certainly doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s akin to holding the winning lottery ticket in your hand.

Based on that row of women, I’ve already won.

And for that, my cup most definitely runneth over.

This post is in honor of my colleague, Kathy, who not only taught me the virtue of patience (wait until all of the coffee has arrived in the carafe before pouring a cup) but most importantly, by living authentically, and with kindness and love, you give people plenty of opportunities to say nice things about you after you’re gone. 


Who Doesn’t LOVE a Tea Party?

{Editor’s Note: There are so many fabulous annual events in Bozeman, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I can authentically say, the Christmas Tea, hosted by the lovely folks from Friends of the Story Mansion ranks in the Top Ten. Maybe it reminds me of tea parties from years gone by, or the fact I get to dress up and sip tea from fancy China cups, or simply the fellowship – whatever the case, I anxiously await this holiday event every year. 

If you have not participated in this event – don’t miss your chance! The Christmas Tea is being held at the historic Story Mansion on Sunday, December 2nd with seatings at noon and 3pm. Won’t you join the fun?}

Photos from the Christmas Tea last December 2011.


Ruby knows how to drink her tea…pinky’s out…

The lovely Gilbreth Girls!

A special thank you to the Friends of the Story Mansion for once again hosting a lovely Christmas tea party. Not only do the Friends of the Story supply the tea and delicious treats, they also organize the borrowing of the table decor and China from local residents. In fact, one of the “Story Friends” who was serving us tea, shared that the China on our table belonged to her Grandmother. (I told you it was one of my favorite local events – the sense of community and fellowship is overwhelming. It literally warms my heart.)

Everyone at the Walters table “voted” to come back again next year.

I Go Back…

{Editor’s Note: Begins with a heavy sigh. Hard to imagine it’s been 12 long years without our friend. Time is a funny thing. Not only does it provide distance, but it makes it hard to believe – even remember – the times we had. Voices turn to whispers in our mind, and for that, we could become angry, but instead we just become melancholy, in a quiet way. Of course, we will never forget him, as he shaped who we became. We still think of him, and wonder why this became our reality…}

Today, Sexy Hubby and I honor a man whom we lost 12 years ago.

Our Best Man.

A man who was with us from the very beginning of our story.

A man who made us laugh, and easily brought a smile to our face.

If you knew this man, you loved him.

It was hard not to.

Seems odd that as our story continues to unfold, he is no longer an active part of it.

The hardest part of the statement, “Time heals all wounds” is the part they forget to tell you, “Time begins to erase memories.” That’s the part hardest to accept. As our lives have continued to move forward without him, it becomes harder to visualize him as an active part of our everyday lives.

Yet, we continue to think about him.

I will never forget the most profound thing Sexy Hubby said as we were going through the total and complete devastation of losing someone so close to us. Someone we loved.

He said, “I would rather have had him and lost him, than to never have had him at all.”

Now, a dozen years later, the once stabbing pain of loss has subsided into a mellow, lingering sadness. A man who was an integral part of our everyday lives now exists only in the depths of our memory – and our hearts.

He was a part of us. The best part.


In Loving Memory of Dominic Julio Ercolini

March 15, 1964 – November 4, 2000

I Go Back – lyrics by Kenny Chesney

Jack and Diane painted a picture of my life and my dreams

Suddenly this crazy world made more sense to me

Well, I heard it today and I couldn’t help but sing along

‘Cause every time I hear that song

I go back, I go back

We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives

Takes us to another place and time

And I go back to the loss of  a real good friend

And the (thirty-six) summers I shared with him

Now “Only The Good Die Young” stops me in my tracks

Every time I hear that song

I go back

I go back


Posing Poolside

We are funny creatures.

We are unique.

We are each beautiful in the way that makes us “us” yet, when others stop to observe our unique beauty – we squawk. We say, “Don’t use that photo! Look at my fat this or my funky that.”

You know why we are so funny?

Because that funkiness is what makes us so awesome!

(Side note – as owner of this blog, I can spout off about this subject, yet have been known to delete a photo from time to time  – to time – of myself where I find nary a wrinkle, flap of skin or otherwise gross imperfection that I will be damned to expose to the world at large. But, that’s the point of being the OWNER of this blog. I can say or show whatever I want – or don’t want – within this white space. And you can’t stop me!)

I was so excited to take some candid, poolside photos, yet everyone (and admittedly, myself included) gets goosey about photos in a swim suit. But how can you not see the unrivaled, raw, loveliness of the following photos (of which my friend didn’t appreciate nearly as much as I did.)

In my book, a body that has birthed double-sets of twins deserves some kudos.

And a spotlight.

And a tiara.

This is my most favorite shot from the entire weekend.

I love the colors and mix of patterns.

I love the serenity.

And most importantly, I love the model – {both inside and out!}

Annual Girlz Weekend – Take One

Upon the eve of our 40th birthdays – girls I’ve known since I was an early teen decided to create an annual weekend event – a girls only celebration.

Five years in – and the single idea has turned into a tradition of which we all look forward to every summer.

Each year a new place is chosen – usually a short jaunt from our hometown, yet it feels worlds away as we envelope ourselves into a few days of catching up, cooking, sharing and laughing.

Oh, the laughing.

This weekend we are cozied up in the foothills of Sonoma…

My favorite photo of the weekend. I call it “Women, Wine and Status Updates.”

The Attraction is Obvious

{Editor’s note: For the past two weeks, I have been laboriously preparing for our annual company meeting held in lovely Sonoma, California.

I wanted to make a shining impression so I did all my homework, studied untold amounts of data and created several presentations to share with our company heads – the owner, the general manager, chief operation office, as well as my boss, and colleagues.

I was a nervous wreck.

Suffice to say, with the week now behind me (and much-lauded success I pleasantly add!) I am sharing an old post – and the reason I have this terrific opportunity in the first place.

I owe it all to karma, and keeping close ties with former colleagues turned friends.}

I love when the stars, moon, and universe seem to align and create magical opportunities. In other words, good things happen. And they happen effortlessly and seamlessly, just the way we like it.

Toss in some karma and my giant love affair with Social Media (yep, it gets capitalized for this one!) and it’s just one big, fat hoggish piece of gratitude that leaves me {nearly} speechless.

Rewind: One decade-ish

I was working for Lasercraft in Santa Rosa, California – a manufacturing company with two divisions. One that crafted delicate laser-cut paper greetings and a second division responsible for the now-famous laser-cut wood picture frames. It was a company like none other that I have ever worked for or since. Of the 300+ employees, the company culture felt more like a college club, “Team Lasercraft.”  It was a fantastic place to work.

I was hired as Sales Manager to support the Director of Sales while she was on maternity leave. Sadly, I joined the company “past its prime” and after experiencing huge growth and explosive expansion there wasn’t enough “in the pipeline” to sustain either.

After nearly two years, I was forced to seek employment elsewhere, and within six months, Lasercraft closed its doors. Forever.

Circa Spring-ish 2000

A few short stumbles later (one job working for a bitter foreign-female owned winery and a natural products company with no marketing plan), I landed a position with Dowling Magnets, a Sonoma-based magnet manufacturer with an industrial division and a toy and game division, whose tag line says it all – The Attraction is Obvious!

I was hired for the toy and game division – and what fun it was!

I seemed to fall right into place and was making my way in the “magnetic field” when an opportunity arose. Our purchasing manager was retiring and we needed to hire a replacement. Immediately, I thought of my former Lasercraft colleague, with whom I’d worked closely on new product development. She was also a purchasing manager. Since Lasercraft was now defunct, I made the call to see if my friend was looking for a new place to land.

Turns out, she was!

After the interview “formality,” my former-colleague-turned-friend was hired at Dowling Magnets – not because of me, but because of her easy-personality and incredible talent. I was simply the catalyst needed to resolve two issues with a single introduction.

The Attraction is Obvious

Fast forward four years, and our life was in upheaval. Sexy Hubby discovered the wiles of Montana, and was disenfranchised with the Golden State, and that year, Dowling Magnets was purchased by another magnet company based in Chicago.

I knew things would shift, as they usually do when companies merge, but because we were already planning to move,  I said goodbye to all my friends and colleagues at the Magnet Factory. It was an incredibly sad time for me. I loved my job, loved the company, and loved my colleagues. Had we not already planned a major life change, I would not have willingly left Dowling Magnets.

In my final months, I helped orient and train the existing Director of Marketing from the new magnet company. She was very kind and I did my best to show her the ropes before we set off for the wild west and our new – yet unknown – life.

Flash Forward: Spring-ish 2011

Things in my Montana life were moving along at a fairly positive clip, with a few major life adjustments thrown in for good measure.

After living here for seven years, I’ve worked for about as many employers. It’s a tough job market and solid, fulfilling jobs are hard to find. I flitted from one thing to the next, never feeling like I’d found anything that truly sang to my soul.

Then, an amazing thing happened. {And it “happened” via an email on “LinkedIn” – an online social media career circuit.}

The message was from the kind gal whom I trained prior to leaving Dowling Magnets. Seemed that things were shifting within the company, and they were exploring their options.

But the key to this entire post – and my life as it sits today – is due to one thing.

Actually, one person.

The former Lasercraft, now Dowling Magnets Purchasing Manager.

I did something positive for her (sharing the opportunity with Dowling Magnets), and she was “paying it forward” to me.

The Purchasing Manager suggested that the Director of Marketing contact me.  And she did.

And after several months of discussions, a deal was made. A deal filled with karma, friends-turned-colleagues and relationships that are sustained via social media channels.

Once again, I’m working for the company I loved, doing a job I adored. And because Dowling Magnets is progressive and innovative, I am able to work from my home in Bozeman, Montana – travelling to trade shows and the Sonoma office as deemed appropriate.

{Not to worry, gentle readers, I made sure to tell them about this gig, so it’s all out in the open!}

Moral to the Story:

  • Always do solid and complete work. People will remember you for it.
  • When appropriate, keep in touch with former colleagues and superiors.
  • Even in jobs you don’t find satisfying, there is a lesson in what doesn’t work for you.
  • There is power in karma – especially the good kind.
  • There is tremendous power in social media.
  • And most importantly, keep your account settings current on the numerous social media circuits. You never know who’s trying to reach you. Or what they have to offer!

This photo was taken at my going away party seven years ago – the purchasing manager and me.

Isn’t karma a wonderful thing?

What to Wear (to #BlogHer12) Without Looking Like A “Good Time Charlie!”

Wife of a Dairyman and Yours Truly (An Authentic Life!) California Raisin Party BlogHer11

It’s getting to be that time again. The time of year when bloggers from every corner of the globe converge in one location for a few days of brainstorming, boogieing, and of course, building fodder for blogs!

This is also the time when bloggers are offering advice on what to wear and what NOT to wear to the upcoming God-Mother of all events – BlogHer12.

All of this banter makes me smile. Not because the advice in unheeded, but because none of these bloggers have the distinct pleasure of living with Sexy Hubby – my own personal “mirror of reason.”

Back Story:

Recently rehired by my former company, I went to Sonoma, California for a round of brainstorming and planning sessions. I was meeting with three former colleagues, my manager, the owner of the company  and a few other high-rollers.

In a word – I was a wreck.

I wanted to make the “right” first (for a few – second – since they haven’t seen me in 7 years) impression. Also, it should be noted, we are in the magnet business ( , not running Wall Street. And the kicker, the meetings are in the heart of quaint wine-country where you’d be hard-pressed to find a suit in the entire county.

I wanted to look appropriate without appearing that I was “trying too hard.” My professional wardrobe had certainly fallen into “relaxed” mode especially after living in Big Sky Country for the better part of a decade. I spent days pouring over my current wardrobe, trying to find pieces I already own that would work if paired with a single new, updated piece.

It was torturous.

I spent some time at the mall earlier in the week, and thought I had nailed the “professional” image without looking like an overzealous insurance salesman or stuffy banker.

Then, I made the vile mistake of asking Sexy Hubby what he thought.

I paraded out to show him the first ensemble – a short-sleeved jacket with long shorts, and a splashy top. He looked up at me and said, “Well, it’s fine if you want to look like “Good Time Charlie” but it’s not professional.”

Good time Charlie?

I’m not exactly sure what that meant, but I was certain of one thing. Every stitch of clothing on my person went directly back into the shopping bag and was prompted returned. {It was compounded by the fact Sexy Hubby said, “That shirt looks like something Dannon would wear.” Dannon is his mother’s best friend and is currently in her 80’s. She’s a darling woman, but I don’t want to dress like her.}

So, while everyone I knew (and likely all of you) were out enjoying our nation’s birthday, I was back and forth to the mall, purchasing, coming home and trying on all the new pieces mixed with my own pieces, and returning everything that didn’t work. It was a “back to the drawing board” day – all day.

The long and short of trying to find the perfect professional wardrobe is this, in the end, it worked out perfectly. If anything, my wardrobe selections leaned towards being “over-dressed,” if only slightly. Yet, of the pieces I did purchase, much of it I didn’t wear. It’s the same old story, I ended up wearing one pair of pants three times with various tops/sweaters/jackets. In essence, I wore what was comfortable and what I felt good in.

When I returned home from the week of brainstorming meetings, I promptly returned the rest of the stuff I didn’t wear.

What to Wear to BlogHer12?

Since I’ve been through the hell of organizing a professional wardrobe only a few weeks ago, my advice is simple:

  1. Stick to styles that compliment your body type.
  2. Select clothes that you are comfortable in – most likely, they are the ones you already own!
  3. Choose ensembles that don’t make you look like you’re trying too hard, like you’re about to enter the Miss America pageant (I read this in a blog recently and cracked-up!) and lastly – and most importantly – do not choose items that make you look like a “Good Time Charlie!”
Even though I haven’t met many of my fellow bloggers in person, rest assured, you’ll know me when you see me.
I’ll be the one dressed like this…

Favored Sunday Shots

I’m about to state the obvious.

I’m a shameless shutterbug.

One of the most challenging issues of being labeled as such is I deal with a plethora of images in an attempt to review, categorize, edit and enhance each and every shot with unbridled creative passion. The biggest surprise of all is when I discover a true masterpiece hidden inside the pile. Gleefully, I sit back, stare and smile – amazed at what my eye beholds when I least expect it.

We had a patriotic week chock-full of family gatherings, belly-busting sessions, parades, wild-life viewing and crazy-riding rodeo cowboys. Of such, I have included my favorites – the ones that tell a story in a split-second shutter-stealing glance.

Happy Sunday Gentle Readers…

The above shot may seem ordinary, until you discover the dancing cowboy is standing ON HIS HORSE!

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