A Squirrel Tale

Each year at Halloween, we
place a real pumpkin on
the front step. When It first
started, I took the broom to
the front step to sweep the
seeds left behind by Mr. Squirrel.

Vowing to take charge, I purchased
a giant plastic pumpkin which had
an electric light inside. No sign of
Mr. Squirrel that year or in
subsequent years until this
year once more. A visit.

Seeds and a messy front
step again. Why our step?
Why just our pumpkin?
The other pumpkins in
the neighborhood were
left untouched annually.

My husband decided to
move the pumpkin with
the large hole to the
backyard where it
can be consumed and
the seeds left. Another visit.

What will we do next year?
Probably back to the plastic
pumpkin lit by a light bulb.
Upon close inspection, I
have noticed Mr. Squirrel’s
handiwork with real pumpkins.

Posted in pumpkin, squirrel tale | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Nurse Emily to the Rescue!

A registered nurse involves more than having credentials or a job title. It is a profession and a lifestyle. One clocks out at the end of a shift. Having the ability to care for others becomes second nature and is instilled inside and never ceases. As a spiritual individual, I always hold in my mind “do unto others as you would want done unto you.”

On a cold weekend evening, my significant other and I went out to eat at a nice place. Having raved about the restaurant a few times, I was excited to show him this new spot. Since there was a bit of a wait, we decided to sit at the bar where service would be quicker, and the food would be just as enjoyable. Couples came and went and as we were nearing the end of our meal, I suddenly heard a loud thud and a woman screamed a few bar stools down from us. When I looked over, I realized that a man had fallen from the stool and was lying face down on the restaurant floor. In this moment I realized that I was in the right place at the right time. I have thought of similar scenarios so many times in my head before. It ultimately is part of the self-reflecting process that comes with the nursing profession. Feeling the adrenaline rush as if I were in my first code blue at work, I ran over to the man and with assistance from another gentleman, turned the man over to assess his breathing and pulse. Once we turned him over, his eyes shot wide open and the man sat up and proceeded to jump to his feet. We then assisted the man back onto the bar stool. He had a gash to his forehead that continued to bleed. To stem the bleeding, I applied napkins, and the bartenders generously provided me with more. I introduced myself to this man and his significant other stating “I am a nurse.” As I did this, another gentleman who happened to be a doctor came over. We assessed the individual together and agreed, it would be best to phone for an ambulance to take the man to the hospital for further evaluation. After all was said and done, the man stated he “choked on some pizza that was too spicy” and told me “I should’ve stuck with the pasta dish!” Needless to say, he was going to be just fine and could enjoy many more pasta dishes going forward.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 ESV).

As I went to the restroom to wash my hands, I felt a sense of comfort knowing others responded as quickly as I did. The adrenaline rush began to subside, and, in this moment, I felt blessed that I was a nurse. I was able to show my passion of caring for others outside of the hospital setting. It is the concept of time that encompassed the entire event. Being in the right place at the right time in order to help someone else have more time.

Written by guest blogger, Emily Nemecek, R.N. who just happens to be my angel daughter. We are proud of you, Emily.

Posted in I Am A Nurse, Registered Nurse, saving a life | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Advent Season in Germany

A time of hope, anticipation.

Crisp air outdoors. Candles,

lights, wreaths abound. Advent

calendars to count down.


Small surprises, sweets

behind the tiny doors.

Shouts of glee at the

prizes in little hands.

Smells of fir boughs,

pinecones, gingerbread

houses, baked goodies.

Traditions and rituals.


My classroom desk in

Germany held wonderment

as I walked in. An Advent

wreath with a lit candle.


Thirty faces watched me

as I reacted in surprise and

expressed thanks to all

the smiling faces.

How different it was this

Fulbright Year of teaching

in Germany. Still years later

our lives forever changed.


Moonlit walks on snowy

December nights through the

tiny village in Germany.

Outdoor Christmas markets


adorn towns with sights,

smells, sounds of Christmas

music. Rich traditions and

new cultural experiences.

One shoe outside the door

awaiting the visit of Nikolaus

to fill it with candy and fruit.

A revered day – December 6.


The Christ Child visits on

Christmas eve when families

gather to exchange their gifts.

Church services at midnight.


There is much to be said

for sacred family time and

celebrations. Stores closed on

Sundays, holidays. These

days remain in our hearts

and minds to be forever

treasured and shared in

future shared holidays.


We love the old fashioned

Christmas when people

take time to value one another

and share their love.



















Posted in Advent Wreath, Advent, Nikolaus, customs, Germany, traditions, cultures, Fulbright Exchange | 20 Comments

Expressing Gratitude to a Stranger in Germany

As a temporarily-single-parent during my first Fulbright Exchange Teacher Abroad year in Neresheim, Germany, it was often challenging especially when the children were ill. It was only on the way home up an icy hill outside the village did I realize that the roads were untreated.

On this cold November afternoon with dusk approaching, I noticed cars off the road and people standing and watching as I continued my drive up the hill. While I thought it odd, I never put two and two together that I was driving on ice. As I approached the top of the hill, I glanced to my right to the monastery and tiny chapel and said a quick prayer that we get home safely.

Suddenly, my car made no further progress as I attempted to drive. Fog and mist froze quickly on the road. After applying the brakes, my mind tried to weigh my options. Back down the hill to the village and try to stay overnight there? Try to pull off to the side as the other cars had done?

Having decided to back down the hill, I slammed on the brakes as I saw a man in my rear view mirror. What if I had hit him in my attempt? The stranger came to the driver’s window, and I quickly explained in German that the children were both sick. After seeing the Dr. and picking up medicine, I was trying to get home to another village, Schweindorf, where we lived.

This perfect stranger and my earthly angel came out of nowhere and told me to drive on. He pushed as I drove slowly up the final distance to the top of the hill. As I tried to stop and thank him, he motion me onward and told me to drive and not stop. I shouted Danke out the window and arrived home safely. In good weather, the drive was only ten minutes. On this day, it took almost one hour.

Today, I want to personally express my gratitude for helping us in our hour of need. I have never forgotten him and his random act of kindness. I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for people like this man in our lives. Thank you, kind sir. Forever grateful!

Posted in Fulbright Teacher in Neresheim, Germany, Gratitude to a Stranger in Germany, ice storm, Schweindorf | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments


The sheer quiet beauty and peacefulness

of that first snowfall blanketing the earth

tugs at my heartstrings. Kids bundled up

play in the cold white landscape.

The kid inside me longs for those

Massachusetts childhood days of

sledding and building snowmen

and yielding to the warm fireplace

and hot chocolate our mother made

us after we came inside to board

games, Authors and Old Maid card

games. How lucky we were to be

ensconced with Mom on those days.

Carefree play outdoors no matter

the weather. Red cheeks, cold noses

and fingers brought us indoors.

The reality now is that I wish to remain

indoors and not face the elements

or drive even if I could plow through

the two feet at the end of the driveway.

Allowing the child in me to be in awe

of nature’s beauty, I gaze at the

white outdoor amusement park.  Now

let me find my sled, gloves, hat and boots!

Posted in sledding, snow day - no school, white landscape | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments

Climb on the Buckboard!

Joining the ranks of Wild West cowboys
we only knew from books, we moved from
Massachusetts to Colorado as three young sisters
with a fourth on the way. We donned
Cowboy boots, hats, square dance skirts,
and moccasins too. We spoke with a different accent.

A new, yellow Mercury station wagon provided
us views of our town – a modern version of the
buckboard. We were pioneers exploring the
Western territories. The gawky folks  asked about
our strange words: roof was ruff; creek was
crick. Teachers marveled our cursive handwriting.

Our Dad chuckled as he told Mom the story about
finishing the kitchen floor in our new abode. Some
strangers walked through the new house in Pueblo’s
Belmont. They mused aloud thinking our Dad was
a construction worker: who would put wallpaper
in a kitchen? Our parents created a

Yankee oasis complete with
antique furniture, built-in shelves for books
and china our mother had selected. Braided rugs
over hardwood floors. New England ladder-back chairs
at the dining room table with extra leaves if we needed to add
them when company came to visit.

We were, after all, explorers from the East.
Our Dad kept an envelope stuffed
with all the misspellings of our last name. It
seems people got stuck on the C in the middle. I
soon learned to tell them it was silent. Our
mother made us Western skirts with rickrack.

In gym class we learned to square dance. At
the State Fair, we attended rodeos and 4-H.
Gene Autry, and Little Annie Oakley came to the
fair. We emerged as butterflies from our cocoons.
We were the Western branches of the tree of
Life. Like Hank, Eleanor, and Ellen, we had

moved West from the East. We were the renegades,
the rebels as the Eastern branch of the family
called us. Maybe that is where my independent
spirit emerged. I was a risk-taker along with
other members of our families. A new branch
grew in Germany, where I moved and studied.

It seemed forever to my parents. Those three
years flew by. I returned to the Western branch
of the family to finish college in Colorado before
embarking on other travels and work to the South
and East. I reminisce all those years spent on
different branches of the same tree.

Now, forever changed, I settle awhile, but
soon a new branch will grow. This time,
one all the way to Prague. A singing branch
to add to the language branches. New growth
and adventures await. This mighty tree continues
forever now. Winding, changing, adding leaves.

Head spinning with memories and music these
days, I continue to smile at all the branches
of this tall tree. Roots running deep in the
Earth support all the new growth. I wonder in
awe at the tree’s transformation from young
Eastern branches to Western branches.

Posted in buckboard, Colorado State Fair, pioneers, Prague, roots and tree branches, Yankee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Gratitude’s Étude

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November means gratitude

Gratefulness for friends and food,

for family interludes

with colorful Autumn-hued

leaves and flowers – all valued.

Nature brings beauty, exudes.

You’d might conclude, we are cued:

Thanksgiving of plentitude.

Posted in November, plentitude, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments