Lunch with a Kindergartner

If you want to enjoy a four-star meal, an elementary school cafeteria is not the place to dine. If you’d prefer a low-key vibe surrounding you and your fellow diners during your meal, don’t waste even a millisecond considering an elementary school at lunchtime. However, if you desire raucous discourse and goofy, snaggle-toothed smiles, by all means join your favorite under-12 child for lunch.

I’m visiting my daughter and her family in Illinois this week. My three Illinois grandchildren are 15, 13, and five. When the teenagers were younger, Studly Doright and I lived just three hours away, and we were able to attend grandparents’ days at their school. But we moved to Florida when Harper, now five, was two, so we’ve missed out on meeting her teachers and classmates. Today, though, I was able to enjoy lunch and recess with her. It was an event I won’t soon forget.

Harper’s friends were eager to tell me not only their names, but their middle names as well as the names of every member of their families, including pets living and dead. Two little boys were disappointed that I didn’t know their respective grandparents who also live in Florida.

The conversation was entertaining and even briefly turned political when the angelic child seated directly across from me asked, “Do you know Donald Trump?”

“Well, no,” I said. “But I know who he is.”

“He tells lies ALL the time,” she said, with great solemnity. All I could do was nod.

After a lunch of oddly shaped chicken fingers, carrots, peaches, broccoli, chocolate milk, and some bug shaped crackers, we all put on our coats and headed out to recess. Harper held firmly to my right hand while a group of children with sweet and slightly sticky fingers, argued over who got to hold my left hand. We worked out a rotation and soon we were walking briskly around the playground.

I live in Florida where even in the winter temperatures rarely dip below 50°, so I knew I wouldn’t last long out on the windy 38° playground. For a few minutes I watched Harper and her friends clamber over various pieces of equipment.

I taught the five-year-olds how to play London Bridge is Falling Down. They thought it was hilarious to “take the keys and lock him/her up.” I began to worry that perhaps this game from my childhood might not be politically correct. Oops!

After playing approximately three thousand rounds of London Bridge I hugged Harper and said my good-byes to the adorable munchkins. Then I went back to my daughter’s home and took a well-deserved nap. But the dreams were sweet, and slightly sticky.

Peace, people!

Pesky Words

We have a president who insists on taking us back to a day without science, and perhaps into a future of oppression. Here is a list of words his administration has banned the Centers for Disease Control from using in future budget proposals:

Similarly, our Florida governor, Rick Scott, has forbidden the use of the term “climate change” among members of our state government, as if banning words could make the reality behind them go away.

So, let’s also ban these words:








There. That should do it. Pesky words.

Seriously, who bans words? Oh, we all know the answer to that. I’m sure North Korea has a long list of words that are illegal to use. Trump’s friend, Putin most likely has a tablet filled with words his people aren’t allowed to utter in public.

Can we panic now? Or will panic be banned, as well?

Peace, people. Please don’t ban peace.

My Heart Hurts

When our daughter was around four years of age she told me that sometimes it made her heart hurt when she didn’t get to see her great-grandparents. Of course, as her mom I was deeply moved by her expression of love. Her heart HURT.

Our family adopted this saying and we use it when something or some circumstance feels fundamentally wrong. My heart hurt when we moved away from family and friends in our native Texas to begin an adventure in North Dakota. It hurt, broke really, when my mother died, and again when we lost my dad.

All of my experiences with a hurt heart have been deeply personal, and I never use the phrase frivolously. So when I say the impending departure of President Barack Obama hurts my heart maybe you’ll understand how much I’ve admired him, his intelligence, his measured response to every challenge.

And when I tell you that the prospect of a Trump presidency hurts my heart, you’ll know that I don’t use those words carelessly. I believe we have unleashed a powerful force for evil and corruption on this country.

My heart hurts. For all that we’ve been. For all that we were. For all that we might have become.

The Case of the Missing Dignity

It was 4:59 on a wintery Monday afternoon. The light bulb in the dollar store lamp on my vintage desk began to flicker, so I toggled it off and wheeled my antique chair over to the main light switch for more illumination. Normally I’d be packing up to leave the office for the day, but I still had a stack of case files to ponder. 

After I’d solved a fairly high profile case involving a missing mom last Christmas,, my caseload had skyrocketed, and now I found myself in the enviable position of being able to turn down cases. 

I stuck my tongue out at the dart hole riddled photo of Donald Trump that I’d taped onto the back of the office door before backpedaling to my desk, deftly grabbing a bottle of Glenlivet and a fairly clean glass from the bottom drawer to toast the five o’clock hour. 

Sighing, I opened the manila folder on top of a hefty stack.

“Boring,” I muttered as I read the first case.

“Mundane,” I grumbled upon reviewing the second.

“Gag!” I choked, reading the third, tossing it in the trash can just as a timid knock sounded at my door. 

“I’m closed!” I called out. “Office hours are nine to five. Come back in the morning.”

“Okay,” sniffed the disembodied voice, followed by what sounded most assuredly like a whimper.

“Damn,” I thought. “Wait. Hold on. Let me unlock the door.”

With a wistful look at the bottle of scotch, I drained the glass and shoved it and the bottle back into the drawer, promising to visit with them later. I might’ve whispered a word of endearment, but they’ll never tell.

I stood and smoothed my navy dress, stepped into my heels, and crossed to the door expecting to find an elderly woman in need of advice about her late husband’s will. Instead, a highly recognizable giant of a man stood across the threshold, his tear-stained cheeks incongruous on his jowly face.

“Governor Christie?!” 

“Shhh!” He motioned. “I’ve heard Mr. Noyes handles difficult cases discreetly. No one can know I’m here.”

“Of course!” I reassured him. “But, I’m the private investigator. It’s Ms. Noyes.”

His eyes went wide and he began to back away, but I took the bull by the hand and hauled his fat ass into my office.

“You’d better get in here and tell me what’s got YOU so upset. After all, your side won and now we’re all screwed. I need to hear your story, dude.”

A look of resignation on his face, the governor of New Jersey took a look around my modest office and snorted, “What a dump!”

“Hey!” I snapped. “I’ll have you know everything in here is an antique.”

“If by ‘antique’ you mean ‘yard sale reject,’ I guess you’ve got a point.”

I wasn’t going to be distracted by the governor’s insults, though, so I pulled a battered side chair up to my desk, indicating he should take a seat. To his credit he settled his backside onto the moth-eaten upholstery and gave me a pleading look.

“Look, I wouldn’t be here unless I had no other choice. I need help, but you’ve got to promise to keep my name out of the papers.”

“Deal,” I nodded, settling in behind my desk. “But if I agree to take your case it’s $200 up front and I bill at $150 an hour. You pay any travel expenses.”

“Sure,” he said. “Sounds reasonable. Will you take a check?”

“Absolutely not,” I snorted. “You don’t have the best record when it comes to paying your debts. And then there’s the whole Bridgegate debacle. Let’s stick to cash, shall we?”

Slyly, he chuckled. “Fair enough.”

I steepled my fingers underneath my chin, hoping to exude an air of intelligent curiosity, while internally I was chomping at the bit. 

“So what can I do for you, Governor?”

Again he looked like he could burst into tears. “I’ve misplaced something. It’s imperative that I locate it with as little fanfare as possible. But at the same time my constituents need to know I have it.”

“Okay….” I said, beckoning him to continue.

“Listen,” he began. “You know I ran in the Republican primaries to be my party’s nominee for president.”

“Yes. I’m aware.”

“Honestly, I felt like I was the best candidate. I smiled and waved. I did my research. I knew stuff. Important stuff.”


“Then this Trump character, a freaking reality tv star, won the nomination. It was humiliating.”

“For all of us,” I murmured.

“But he promised me some awesome perks if I’d help get him elected. Maybe I’d head up his transition team, get the juicy chief of staff post. All I had to do was sell my soul for a few pieces of silver, stand behind him at rallies, be his surrogate on talk shows.”

“Oh crap, Governor,” I moaned. “I can’t get your soul back. You know as well as I do that deals made with the devil are unbreakable.”

“I was pretty sure you’d say that,”he sighed. “But do you think you could help me find my dignity? I’m fairly sure I had it before I dropped out of the race.”

“Governor, pay me my retainer, and I won’t rest until  your dignity is back in your hands.” 

A smile lit up his face giving the Governor a boyish appearance. 

“Honest?” he said. “You promise?”

“Absolutely. Just give me 24 hours. I know exactly where to begin looking.”

Governor Christie forked over $200, shook my hand, and left my office looking ten years younger than he had upon entering. There was a spring in his step that shook the wooden floor as he practically skipped down the hallway. 

As soon as he left the building I locked the office door and dialed the number of a well-placed friend in the medical community. He answered on the third ring.

“Bill,” I said. “It’s Leslie.”

“Long time, no talk,” boomed the big, friendly voice. “What’s up?”

“Could you put me in touch with the president-elect’s proctologist? I need his help retrieving something for a client.”

Follow up: My intuition was dead on. Thanks to my contact,  Trump’s people scheduled an appointment with his proctologist. Subsequently, Christie’s dignity was recovered. Apparently it was way, waaaaay up Trump’s ass, along with that of other prominent Republicans. The proctologist assured me that’s where they’d remain until said politicians came looking. 

Literally Laughed Out Loud

Note: I freaking hate Donald Trump, and if I had died in Hurricane Hermine I’d have wanted his sorry ass blamed for it. Carry on.

The first time I came across the picture featured below on Facebook I guffawed. I was sitting in my den with a cat on my lap and laughed so hard that said cat leapt to the floor and hid under my bed for the remainder of the day.

Why one might ask did I find this seemingly harmless statement so funny? Maybe it’s because the closest Trump has been to religion is screaming “Oh God” in the throes of climax.

He thought Second Corinthians was correctly cited as Two Corinthians. Twice divorced, he’s cheated on at least one wife and tried to talk Marla Maples into having an abortion so he wouldn’t feel obligated to marry her. He regularly insults women who do not meet his standards of beauty, calling them fat pigs among other choice names.

Yet some conservative voters herald him as planning to bring God BACK to the White House. Pardon me if I’m missing something, but isn’t God supposed to be omnipresent? Hasn’t God been right there all along? Even back when Richard Nixon was engaged in criminal activity from the Oval Office, God was right there.

We are a nation that officially recognizes a separation between church and state.  That’s as it should be. I’m a Christian, yet I understand that it is critical we keep this separation. Once it’s eroded, all manner of misdeeds can and will be perpetrated in the name of religion. 

Any time a politician claims Christian values, or proposes to unite us under one God, I automatically become suspicious. What are they trying to pull over on us? I’d much rather hear someone say they advocate for equality for all people under the law. That’s what I want, not false claims of religiosity.

That’s all for now.

Peace, people!

Dixie Chicks in Tampa

Last Friday night Studly Doright and I went to see the Dixie Chicks perform at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheater in Tampa, Florida. Studly is not a music lover. He knows the words to only one song–“Happy Birthday”–and that’s no joke, but Studly loves me, so in celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary he consented to accompanying me to see one of my all-time favorite groups. 

He blanched slightly at the cost of the orchestra section tickets, but he shelled out the money with a smile. I think that was a smile. Might’ve been a grimace. With Studly it’s sometimes hard to tell.

I love the Dixie Chicks. Lead singer, Natalie Maines and I have much in common. We were both born in Lubbock, Texas, we are both super fans of Howard Stern, and neither of us can stand Donald Trump. We’re practically twins, only she got all the talent and I’m at least twenty years older. Other than that, it’s hard to tell us apart. 


Natalie Maines




Uncanny likeness, isn’t it? 

When I was a child my parents loved to drive to Lubbock and dance to the music of The Maines Brothers, Natalie’s dad’s band. I feel like this binds us, as well, even though I never got to see the group play live.


Maines Brothers Band


The Dixie Chicks have had to deal with some nasty stuff for more than a decade stemming from a candid comment Natalie made about then President George W. Bush while touring in Europe in 2003. Country music stations turned their backs on the Chicks and many country artists condemned them. 

In comparison to statements made by current GOP candidate Trump and his followers in regard to President Obama and Hillary Clinton, Natalie’s comment was harmless, yet the Dixie Chicks have lost millions of dollars in revenue since 2003. Funny, that freedom of speech thing seems to be selective.

Enough politics, though, this concert kicked ass from beginning to end. The opening acts, Smooth Hound Smith and Vintage Trouble were totally engaging even in the intense tropical heat. I’d pay money to see both groups as solo acts, and was tickled to see artists from the acts appear later in The Dixie Chicks‘ sets.


Smooth Hound Smith


Vintage Trouble


But it was the Dixie Chicks we’d come to see: Natalie Maines, and sisters Emily Robison, and Martie Maguire. They did not disappoint. 

 Even Studly mumbled along to “Goodbye Earl” and “Wide Open Spaces,” throwing vague lines about happy birthday in to fill the gaps. 

I sang every song, but as the evening went on I began to worry that they wouldn’t sing “Not Ready to Make Nice,” the Chicks‘ anthem about the price they paid for Natalie’s comment about President Bush. You see, I’ve alienated quite a few friends over my outspoken Liberal views, and “Not Ready to Make Nice” resonates with me. I needn’t have worried. They saved it for the encore and brought the house down.

From what I witnessed in Tampa, The Dixie Chicks are being embraced with open arms. They were a long time gone, but now they’re back with a vengeance. And I know I like it. 

Here’s “Not Ready to Make Nice” from YouTube. The lyrics follow. Enjoy.

“Not Ready to Make Nice”
Dixie Chicks

Forgive, sounds good

Forget, I’m not sure I could

They say time heals everything

But I’m still waiting.

I’m through with doubt

There’s nothing left for me to figure out

I’ve paid a price, and I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice

I’m not ready to back down

I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time

To go ’round and ’round and ’round

It’s too late to make it right

I probably wouldn’t if I could

‘Cause I’m mad as hell

Can’t bring myself to do what it is

You think I should

I know you said

Can’t you just get over it?

It turned my whole world around

And I kinda like it

I made my bed, and I sleep like a baby

With no regrets, and I don’t mind saying

It’s a sad, sad story

When a mother will teach her daughter

That she ought to hate a perfect stranger

And how in the world

Can the words that I said

Send somebody so over the edge

That they’d write me a letter

Saying that I better

Shut up and sing

Or my life will be over?

I’m not ready to make nice

I’m not ready to back down

I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time

To go ’round and ’round and ’round

It’s too late to make it right

I probably wouldn’t if I could

‘Cause I’m mad as hell

Can’t bring myself to do what it is

You think I should

I’m not ready to make nice

I’m not ready to back down

I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time

To go ’round and ’round and ’round

It’s too late to make it right

I probably wouldn’t if I could

‘Cause I’m mad as hell

Can’t bring myself to do what it is

You think I should, what it is you think I should

What it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good

Forget, I’m not sure I could

They say time heals everything

But I’m still waiting

Written by Dan Wilson, Emily Robison, Martha Maguire, Natalie Maines • Copyright © BMG Rights Management US, LLC


scam the man
deliver the bribe
cheat and lie and steal,
work in secret
pull it off
master the art of the deal.

forget the cost
trust that’s lost
with every lie that’s told,
what matters most
is what you boast
and the power that you hold.

demean women
mock the disabled
embrace the KKK,
erase the years
of calm diplomacy
make bigotry all the rage.

invoke violence
strut and posture
that wall is gonna be “yuge,”
run us into the ground
like your casinos
we have everything to lose.
Lest we forget statements Trump has made or his lack of common human decency:


The Luxury of Hurt Feelings

crystal ball toting gypsies
cry cataclysm and none heed
as cassandra nods in ardent
sympathy and odd redemption.

call it age or wisdom
chalk it up to experience,
but I know what I know and
that I cannot know it all.

i threw away my soothsayer’s
tools, seeing clearly that
in your pride you’ll gladly
wallow in the dread luxury

throw us all under a red
double decker for the sake
of trampled feelings; an
injury we can not indulge

grow up, grow a pair, this
election is ours to lose
with ramifications beyond
our meager lifespans.


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