Sumatra Kerinci

Today I felt old. I met a client at a hip little coffee shop to do an interview for a story. I walked in and everyone was totally cool and aloof in running shorts and Nike’s or skinny jeans with a clever tee and Tom’s. I was, without a doubt, the oldest there. 

So I tried to do what my oldest son, Andrew, says “Own it.” No, I am not 30 or 40. No, I am not wearing running shorts and Nike’s. But I am wearing a cute little trendy dress with ruffles on the sleeves. My shoes are black, wedgy sandals. My toenails are freshly painted magenta. I have a bracelet that is multiple bracelets of silver and pearls. And I am using a Mac laptop. Whew! At least my computer helps me fit in.

And while it is true that I am wearing bifocals in order to type the interview, my glasses are black plastic frame with pink and green flowers on the arms. My hair is pulled into a side pony. It is not a 1982 high side pony, however. I do not want look totally Debbie Gibson. It is low and pulled together with a black claw, complete with intentional messy Meghan Markle wisps. 

My client was a 39 year-old football coach. The story is about his dedicated community work. It was impressive to hear. He also gushed about his 18 month-old son, who has obviously won his heart. 

I told the client that I have a son his age (actually just a tad older). He was kind and asked if I got married when I was 10. “Yes”, I smiled. 

In the famous words of my dear husband, who borrowed the line from a mentor of his in medical school, “It is what it is.” And it sure is. It cannot be denied that I could have been the mother of everyone in that coffee shop. It is a bit humbling to face that reality. 

When I paid for my coffee and his, I slid my card through the (also hip) little white Square and used my finger to sign the screen. I asked for a receipt to expense report it and the barista told me sweetly that they do not print paper receipts. “We can text it or email it to you”, he said politely.  Well, okay then.

It’s a new world and I’m an old girl. But I know that the moment I step away from new things and new ways and new knowledge, the train will pass me by. 

So I will stay ’in it’ and continue learning. And perhaps along the way I can also do a little teaching, at least a little modeling of grace and patience. Those things are always in vogue. 

Jeff Ruby, a real Gem

This evening I attended a fund-raiser, as a photographer, for the Jeff Ruby Foundation. It was a huge event held at Jack Casino in Cincinnati. Honestly, I was not excited about going. One of my favorite Sunday evening events is sitting at home in my sweats, eating pizza with my family. But duty called. And now, I am glad I went.

I learned a lot about Jeff Ruby, a well-known, flamboyant Cincinnati icon. Yes, he showed up in a colorful jacket with a spring green scarf tied around his neck. Yes, when he put his hands on the podium, his four or five rings and diamond studded watch nearly blinded me. But also yes, he has a great story.

Ruby was a troubled kid. He was failing school and getting drunk by the time he was 12 years old, following closely in the footsteps of his alcoholic mother.

At age 15, he decided to go it alone. 

After sleeping under the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey, for a while, Ruby managed to work enough to pay for a tiny room in a house that he shared with senior citizens. He starting supporting himself.

Every morning before school, Ruby worked at Perkins, where he ran the grill and became a master at making eggs.

By his senior year, he was a straight-A student, captain of his football team, undefeated at wrestling, and says it is all because one man was there for him.

Ruby’s football coach took him under his wing. He said it was the first time in his life he wanted to make someone proud. 

Several serendipitous things happened and eventually Jeff Ruby ended up in Cincinnati. He was a huge Reds fan and Cincinnati was his city of choice. 

As they say, the rest is history. In 1991, Jeff Ruby’s first restaurant, The Precinct opened. It is the longest-running fine dining restaurant in Cincinnati. Ruby’s steaks have made him a household name. 

But that is not his true claim to fame. Jeff Ruby believes in giving back. He has a huge heart for kids with no father role model. Ruby considers himself a father figure to countless children he mentors. 

“If you got enough disposal income, you should give some of it back to the community that gave it to you in the first place.” States Ruby. 

And he certainly has. And he plans to continue, in a big way.

I was a bit star-struck this evening, seeing multiple local TV personalities as well as Cris Collinsworth, Andy Dalton and Coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals. I also was thrilled to see Urban Meyer and Chris Mack. Musical entertainment was provided by Kool & the Gang, Kid Rock and Mr. Lee Greenwood. Yes, he most certainly did sing “I’m Proud to be an American”. The crowd went crazy. 

But the real star of the evening was Mr. Jeff Ruby. He did not need his fancy rings and diamond-studded watch in order to shine. He does that all on his own, every day of the week.


I attended an awards luncheon today, hosted by the media company for which I work. I was the photographer for the event. 

It was the typical set up of beautifully set round tables of eight chairs. Centerpieces with fresh flowers, flawless spring green cloth napkins folded “just so”.  

As the photographer for events, one of the benefits is that I and my co-workers, which consist of the events team, the sales team and the design team, sit at a table together and enjoy the event, while we watch to make sure everything is flowing smoothly.

Today’s event was at a lovely venue, one of the best in the city, and thankfully, it is in my town. Often I have to drive downtown Cincinnati to attend these functions. 

Food was the consistent, but delicious, fresh salad with balsamic, grilled chicken in a sun-dried tomato sauce, new potatoes roasted in parsley and butter, whole green beans, warm, soft rolls with perfectly flowered pats of butter and sweet tea with lemon. 

As the photographer, I eat a little, wait for the next speaker to step onto the stage, hop up and get a few photos till the next queued speaker is up, then repeat. I eat, take photos, and eat. It’s not a bad gig.

Once during the event, I stepped out for a moment to grab another SD card and ducked into the coat-check room to change it out. 

Even the coat-check room was beautiful; soft lighting, carpeted flooring, wall-papered walls, and gold hangers. Then I looked up high above the rows of hangers and saw this (above photo). Wow.

It looked like a lot of confusion. Here in this respectable, well-known, high-dollar event venue, was this mess.

Thankfully, to someone in the building, this is entropic artistry. And to them, it all makes sense. 

Perhaps this venue is a bit like me. I know how to dress and act and speak and function; when to smile, when to be subdued, when to be bold. 

However, if someone were to peak behind the curtain and into my head, it may very well look like this. Beautiful chaos.

Nail Clippers for Jesus

The print business runs by the calendar, and sometimes by the clock.

I am a writer for a media company. Last week I was up against a deadline, not only a day deadline but an hour deadline. I was awaiting final confirmation on a story for the magazine. The communication had been difficult from the get-go. The headquarters of the business are in Asheville, North Carolina. There was no face to face interview, only email and phone connection.

It was Thursday at 4:00 p.m. My boss was calling me ad nauseam. He said that I was giving him gray hairs by the moment. Sigh. 

I was out running a few necessary errands when the final edit of the story dinged in my email. Hallelujah!  I found the closest McDonald’s to duck into a booth with my computer and a cup of coffee to dash off the story to my boss. The magazine was going to print in two hours.

I found a quiet booth. As I was working feverishly with my head down and glasses on the bridge of my nose, I noticed a shadow over the table. I glanced up to find a woman leaning over the top of the booth staring at me. She said: “Do you have a fingernail clipper I can use?” Wait…what?

I have a mindset of “you never know what you might need, so be prepared”, meaning, I most likely had a nail clipper in my cosmetic bag. 

Within milliseconds, I had to process the question and the answer. Several things were awry here.

First, she startled me. Second, she was hanging over my booth in my personal space. Third, she had to notice that I looked like Lois Lane on a writing deadline. Fourth, she asked for a personal thing…a fingernail clipper, for goodness sake!

Aspiring to live a life after the perfect model of Jesus, I desire to live and speak and be an honest person. In those slow-motion moments, I wrestled with what my response would be. 

My purse was on the seat next to me, but not touching me, which was my “Christian loophole”. I said to her: “I don’t think I have one on me at the moment.”

Again, so many things. One, if I did take the time to rifle through my cosmetic bag and find the clipper, I would most likely have said, “Oh, just keep it.” Please, just keep it. Two, I would rather have given her 75 cents and directed her to the Walgreen’s across the street. 

Later, at home, as I was reflecting about this, a terrible thought occurred to me. What if that was Jesus in disguise and He was testing me to see if I would be honest and giving and kind. 

Major fail. Oy vey. 

After a bit of unmerited negative self-talk, I came to the realization that it was just a thing, just an event, just life; kind of like knocking my coffee over in the car or dropping my phone into the toilet or slipping on an icy patch on the sidewalk. In the famous words inspired by Forrest Gump, sh*t happens. 

However, there is a lesson to learn. I will, in the future, carry around two fingernail clippers. One for myself and one for the next person who oversteps my personal boundary. It may indeed be Jesus. I will purchase the deluxe one, just in case.

What’s up Doc?

Today is National Doctors Day. My first memory of a doctor is when I was a little girl, being taken (reluctantly) by my mother for immunizations. The office was on the second floor above a bank and a jewelry store. As soon as my mother opened the heavy glass door that led from the street and we began to descend the marble stairs, I could smell it.

It was an olfactory overload of alcohol swabs and general “doctor’s officeness”.

The doctor was older (though probably my current age or younger) and was always kind. He patted my head and shuffled around the room in a long, white coat, covering his ironed shirt and perfectly tied tie.

The doctor’s nurse was an attractive brunette named Laverne. She wore a crisply starched white dress with her nursing pins on the collar. A pristine white cap perched atop lovely coiffed hair. Her legs were covered in white nurse hosiery which connected to her blindingly white, sturdy shoes. She always wore red lipstick. When she smiled, her teeth matched her shoes.

However, that smile was only on her face because she was the one administering, rather than receiving, the giant needle in the buttocks. After the dreaded stabbing, we would promptly leave the office with a green Dum Dum lollipop in my hand and a few tears drying on my cheeks.

March 30, 1933, was the first observance of Doctors Day in Winder, Georgia.   Dr. Charles B. Almond’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond, wanted to have a day to honor physicians.  On this first day in 1933, greeting cards were mailed and flowers placed on the graves of deceased doctors.  The red carnation is commonly used as the symbolic flower for National Doctors Day.

For a bit of fun trivia, the first ether anesthetic for surgery was administered by Crawford W. Long, M.D. on March 30, 1842, marking the date for Doctors Day.  On that day, before Dr. Long operated to remove a tumor from a man’s neck, he administered ether anesthesia. Following surgery, the man would swear that he felt nothing during the surgery and was not aware of anything until he awoke. Thankfully, it worked. What a brave man to be the test case.

In 1991, President George Bush gave Proclamation 6253 as National Doctors Day. I’m guessing that most people do not realize or recognize the day. I believe it is honored more within the medical community. But it is continuing strong.

My doctor-husband teasingly asked what I was going to do for him for Doctors Day. I smiled and told him the same thing I do every day; love and support him and respect the work, the dedication, the commitment and the priority of his patients.

I may throw in a carrot cake, too.


King of the Hill

Golf season is underway. Though, if you live with a golfer, as I do, golf does not have a season. It has a lifestyle.

This weekend is the Bay Hill Classic, a favorite on the PGA tour, due to its honoree; course developer, (and sentimental home of) Arnold Palmer.

Arnold Palmer was born on September 10, 1929, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His father was a country club groundskeeper, which brought the game of golf to Arnold from birth. He had a simple start, working at that humble golf club in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to superstardom as one of the most beloved golfers, and men, around the globe.

Palmer was a highly successful business executive, skilled aviator and author. Besides his golf performance record, his magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness and thoughtfulness to everybody with whom he came in contact endeared him to millions throughout the world. This led to the informal formation of the largest non-uniformed “military” organization in existence – Arnie’s Army.

Palmer was a “stay-at-home” guy when he wasn’t on the road traveling. He would awaken each day at 5 a.m. at Bay Hill, go for a jog or a walk with his dog and then get in a workout before having breakfast. At his desk by 8 a.m., Palmer would attend to a business empire eventually worth around $700 million, featuring golf course design and ownership, a clothing line and the iced tea and lemonade concoction bearing his name.

“Business first, golf second,” longtime friend and Bay Hill resident, Howdy Giles said while describing Palmer’s routine.

Rarely did a day go by when a member of Arnie’s Army did not approach him for an autograph or photo.

“People would come up and say, ‘Mr. Palmer, I hate to bother you…,’ while he was eating lunch,” pal, Giles, recalled. “He would always stand up and shake their hand; if it was a lady he would hug her. Most of these pros would blow you off.”

“That’s why he was The King; he did things other people don’t do.” People were attracted to Arnold Palmer because of the kind of person he was.

He never lost his common touch. He was a man of the people. He looked people in the eye and had a handshake that was genuine and passionate. He had strong hands. A fellow golfer stated: “He had some mitts.”

Palmer spent countless hours in his workshop grinding soles, re-gripping clubs and even building them from scratch. He certainly could afford to have those things done but that was not his personality. He loved to discover and build and create. He loved to tinker.

Palmer died on September 25, 2016 (shortly after his 87th birthday) while awaiting heart surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Arnold Palmer had some great quotes. One of my favorites is this: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

Success did not come easy for Arnold Palmer. He did not even have the prettiest of golf swings. However, he worked hard. He never forgot his commonality. He made every person he met feel special.

It’s Serious Sunday. On this day, let’s take a lesson from The King. Kindness and respect can dissipate tension, end arguments, prevent fights and even stop war. They can make you a hero, even a king.

What a mighty power for something that is completely within our grasp.


The Routine

I’ve been keeping a low profile for the last five weeks. I took a respite from work, knowing holidays would be busy and knowing I would have extended care days with Mama. But I’m ready to get back out.

I miss working. I like the interaction. I like the work. I like the paycheck.

It is not, however, easy being a 60 year old in the work force. It is shocking that I could be speaking of myself. I was always one of the young ones in the work scenes. I enjoyed that.

There were times, however, that I wanted to feel like a grown up; mature and smart and aware of life. Unfortunately, that knowledge and confidence only comes about by the passage of time.

It is so strange to be on the other side of that now. It is always a sense of trying to stay in shape and up to date on the latest world news and fashion, and be clever and sassy. How often I fail! But…I will persevere. Growing older is not for wimps. Good Lord!

I actually still have thoughts of going to dental school or at least dental assisting school or becoming an ophthalmologic assistant. But then I think I am too old. Who wants to hire a 60 year old dental assistant when you can hire a 25 year old dental assistant?

Sometimes that worn out adage: “You are never to old” is not true. Sometimes you ARE too old. Plain and simple.

I am getting back to work next week. I think it will also help me develop a better, more rigid eating and exercise regime. It really is true that the busier you are, the more organized you are. That is, at least, the assumption to which I will hold to for dear life.



Um…yes, yes, yes and yes. I will have all of the above. That is what I thought when I saw this sign tonight. I covered an event for the magazine at MadTree Brewing Company in Oakley. I had never been inside. Big, interesting, open and dog-friendly (on the patio).

My event was in a smaller room, set aside from the main pub/restaurant. The place was completely packed. Some of our guests came in complaining that there was not one parking space to be found in the very large lot.

The beer may be epic and life-changing and everything listed on the rustic wall menu may be as heavenly as it sounds. However, there must be more. On a “school night” in the middle of the week, this expansive building is filled to capacity.

It is community. We are designed to be in community. Some find it in their work. Some find it in their family. Some find it at church. Some may find it in all of those places and also enjoy it in this setting.

I look around and people are hugging and back-slapping (lovingly) and laughing and feeling connected to other people. It is a primary basic need. Human connection. We are made for it.

Remember the old Cheers theme…

You wanna go where people know,
People are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows your name.

Yep. Every person on this planet yearns to feel normal and alive and connected and have someone remember their name. You may never go into MadTree or a place similar to it, but never forget that someone, somewhere needs to be included and remembered and given a (loving) back-slap or hug or a smile. People are all the same.

I am not a beer drinker but I can highly recommend the soft pita triangles dipped in Psycho-hummus and spicy guacamole and MadTree’s own icy cold house-made peach soda. Though I’m sure the chicken bacon ranch pizza with roasted garlic and olive oil, chicken, bacon, spinach, roasted tomatoes and ranch is to die for…I’ll be back.

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Today I attended an awards luncheon, sponsored by the media company for which I work. It is an annual event to honor entrepreneurs in Cincinnati. Many of them are long-time entrepreneurs, having inherited a business. Others are lone rangers who have pushed through with Ramen noodles and pure grit.

One of the honorees was a fourth generation member of the Graeter family. Yes, as in ice cream.

The Graeter family began making ice cream in Cincinnati in 1870. Back then, ice cream was a rare treat, hand made in small batches. Louis and Regina Graeter made ice cream just two gallons at a time with the traditional “French Pot” process in a little neighborhood parlor for 50 years.

Mass production methods ensued and big companies began pumping air into reformulated recipes full of preservatives and artificial ingredients. Ice cream was never the same again. Except at Graeter’s, where Louis’s widow, Regina, stubbornly refused to adopt new-fangled methods. I love that.

Graeter’s ice cream is widely acclaimed as the best that you will ever eat taste. By slowly freezing their ice cream in small batches to a point much colder than the large modern producers, they are able to achieve an irresistible creaminess that is unique to Graeter’s. This process prevents air from whipping into their ice cream. A lower quality pint of ice cream can weigh as little as eight ounces. A Graeter’s pint weighs nearly a full pound. Lord help me.

What Graeter’s is fabulously famous for is the massive chunks of chocolate found in their signature chocolate chip flavors. They create those unique chips by pouring their specially prepared liquid chocolate into the French Pot just as the ice cream is finishing. A large paddle is then used to break up the frozen chocolate into chips and chunks of all sizes. I’m drooling right now.

I learned that few family businesses survive to the fourth generation of family ownership, but the Graeter family fully intends to pass on Cincinnati’s historic and beloved ice cream tradition. I love that, too.

Lest you think otherwise, Graeter’s Ice Cream is not paying me to promote their product. However, if someone at the company catches wind of this blog post and in deep appreciation chooses to send me massive amounts of raspberry chocolate chip or mocha chocolate chip, I would probably accept it. Hint, hint, hint.




Following last week’s two day work conference, the team went out to celebrate. Someone came up with the idea of going to a place with karaoke. It had been a long day and I was ready to go home, but for team/solidarity/thank-you-from-the-boss kind of deal, I went. I confess that I have always wanted to try karaoke.

We ate pub grub of chicken wings and fried pickles and potato skins. Good stuff. Around 8:30, the karaoke was open for business. A glass of wine (or two) may have helped create bravery in some of my teammates. They went after karaoke like dogs after beef. It was quite entertaining, actually. Two of my women friends talked me into getting up there with them. One of them chose the song. It was “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. I like Carly Simon but I dislike 70’s music. I much prefer 60’s and 80’s. But It was fun. We were like The Supremes up there. If I had not been with a work group or even better, known no one in the room, I would have gone all Shania Twain/Gloria Estefan/Sara Evans on them. Another time.

Today I was driving and singing along with Alison Krauss “When You Say Nothing At All”. Another one for the list. I thought about that night at Eli’s. It’s interesting how much fun people can have away from work. Some of these women are not close friends in “real life” but on a night of release and celebration and perhaps a sip or two of Chardonnay, there is laughter and hugging and good non-work conversation. How nice it would be if we could learn to relax and have some laughs and hugs on an ordinary day of the week. Perhaps we should have casual/karaoke Friday. I will bring it up at next staff meeting.