:Finding Fraser – a review

If you’ve not read the Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon, or seen the Outlander series on Starz . . . if the names Jamie Fraser or Claire Randall mean nothing to you, then this post is not for you.

Both the books and the TV series have gained a cult following with young women everywhere (and maybe some older ones) longing to find their own Jamie Fraser. Rugged, handsome, gentlemanly, smart, funny, insightful – you name it and this character has got it in spades. It doesn’t help that the actor playing Jamie Fraser, Sam Heughan is spot on in the role, melting women’s hearts everywhere:

In “Finding Fraser”, author kc dyer writes a main character that starts off as a bumbling and naieve but loveable young lady completely besotted with the Outlander books and the Jamie Fraser character. After losing her job, she sells her worldly goods and flies off to Scotland in search of her very own Jamie Fraser. Along her journey, she has moments of setbacks, financial difficulties and a knack for meeting people in the oddest places. Along with her traveling, she also has life experiences that cause her to look outside herself and realize the world is a bigger place. She does meet her man AFTER she stops searching for someone who meets the idea she has in her head of the perfect man.

Some of my favorite points:

  • She runs into a tour bus group from an “Outlander Tour”. She is amazed that there are others equally, if not more, starstruck than herself with the romantic idea of time travel through stones and ghostly sighting of a Highlander.
  • She learns that real people will not fit our pre-conceived expectations of fictional characters. After trying to force a relationship to fit the Claire and Jamie mold, the main character sets aside her expectations and THEN finds her man.
  • Reality can be sobering (and don’t run from the police.)

I found this book to be enjoyable and an easy read. The main character was exasperating at times in her foolishness but that was to be expected at her young age and lack of life experience. By the end, she was able to self-reflect and while not much older, was able to show some maturity at the end of her journey that she didn’t have at the beginning.

I liked kc dyer’s style of writing and look forward to reading more of her work.

How Do You See People?

“Only the soul that ventilates the world with tenderness has any chance of changing the world.”  ~ Father G.

If I have learned one thing in my 26 years of nursing, it is that you cannot judge a person based on their appearance. I have had patients that looked like they came straight from the country club that were the most condescending, rude and demanding. I have had homeless, drug-addicted patients that were the sweetest, kind and caring. I have had outwardly religious patients that would praise God in one breath and curse the staff in the next. I have had patients in immense pain or having to wait for tests or test results, express concern for me as to whether I had eaten or had a chance to sit while watching me rush around.

When I was growing up, differences were to be avoided. If they didn’t attend church – bad. If their parents drank – bad. If they had tattoos – bad and probably dangerous, maybe even criminals. If they were African-American, or Asian or Hispanic – be wary, they might be bad. If they smoked – bad. If they rode motorcycles – bad, probably headed to hell. Going to the movies – bad. There was no proof that these people were bad, just differences and a fear that arose from those differences.

As a nurse, I’ve taken care of hundreds of varied patients with not only different illnesses or injuries, but different cultural beliefs as well. I’ve had to change my views from the way I was raised, which happens to all of us to a degree as we age. In the last five years especially, I’ve learned to relate more to my patients (and now students) as “people” and less as “patients.” Everyone has a story — whether it is from where they come, what they do, who has influenced them, what they hope to achieve or any of the myriad facets that make us who we are.

Yesterday, I was told I was a “breath of fresh air.” Ehhhh . . . I’m not sure about all that, BUT . . .

I do understand what was being said. I didn’t ask questions purely related to the medical complaint or the patient’s basic medical background. I engaged in conversation — I expressed an interest in them as a person. How can I treat someone effectively if I don’t understand them? How can I teach effectively if I don’t grasp the background of the student? How can I be an “effective” person if I don’t engage?

When you view the picture above, what is your immediate reaction? Are you repelled? Disgusted? Intrigued? Do you make assumptions based on what you see? If you make assumptions, are they negative? Why?

When I see the above picture, I see a story waiting to be told. There’s a reason behind the artwork. (And yes, with the extent of those tats, that is artwork with a story behind it.) I see a young man with a lot of life experiences. I credit Father Greg Boyle’s book, Tattoos on the Heart, for changing my perspective on people and differences.

And so I leave you with a short message from Father Boyle . . .

When the storms come. . .

“When the storm has passed, put your energy into rebuilding your life, don’t waste time looking back.”

Leon Brown

We’ve had some gnarly storms blow thru in the past year that I’ve been here. Last year, the winds were so fierce it took out two panels of my privacy fence. Last week, the rains were so frequent that a water-laden dead tree branch broke off, falling onto the highway. This resulted in the tree being cut down. With all the other storm damage around town, I thought I’d have to wait but the tree company decided mine was emergent and came the next day. The price they quoted was a steal and he explained that he cut me a deal since they were already in town. Not that the cost was prohibitive but it was going to put things a little tight for a couple months in the finances department. BUT. . . God is good!! No sooner did the main trunk of that huge tree hit the ground but my phone dinged advising me that there’d been a deposit in my checking account and there . . .was my stimulus check.

This past Thursday morning, another branch broke from a tree in the backyard. The privacy hedge broke its fall and today I summarily cut up the branch with the chainsaw for city pickup. We’ve spent the past two days raking up small bits and pieces and branches and pulling them up on the curb. We are very fortunate to live in a community that provides removal of yard waste following the storms and then twice a year in the spring and fall. Otherwise we are free to burn leaves and branches in our yards.

Pile 1
Piles 2 & 3

With the removal of the tree branch that fell, I also had to cut back the hedges that caught it. While cutting those back, I not only found a small scrub cedar that had taken root (and is now in that pile above) but 10 years worth of built-up leaves along with trails of English Ivy. I raked out the top layer of leaves that were dry and started burning them. As they dry out more, I will finish burning them and then destroy the ivy that spreads worse than COVID-19.

and that’s just one small corner

Eventually, we will put down grass seed and then start working on our privacy fence and the cellar doors to match. The cellar doors will be created first to allow us an opportunity to work with the galvanized metal and determine the best way to frame and fasten it. The fence panels will proceed from there. Eventually the yard will be a beautiful, private oasis to enjoy.

I can hardly wait!

Tilapia Caprese

Definition of caprese:

:a salad consisting of slices of mozarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil or Italian dressing

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I did it again.

I fixed a delicious and beautiful dinner and forgot to take photos. I believe that because I’m so hungry when I fix it and it looks so good, I don’t want to waste time taking photos when I could be sitting down to eat.

And while Caprese actually calls for Mozarella as you can clearly see from the definition above, I substituted Parmesan for two reasons: 1) It holds up to heat a bit better, and 2) It’s what I had on hand in the refrigerator. And there was butter rather than olive oil. And Italian seasoning in place of the basil.

Okay, so it’s like an Americanized Caprese.

Anyway, let’s just get to the recipe, shall we?

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


4 Tilapia filets

1 Roma tomato, diced

4 T. butter

1 t. fresh minced garlic

2 T. fresh grated Parmesan, plus more to sprinkle on top

1 T. Italian seasoning

Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 375. Place the Tilapia filets in a buttered baking dish, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste. In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic and diced tomato to the pan stirring until the garlic is opaque but not browned. Remove from heat and stir in Italian seasoning and 2 T. grated Parmesan, stirring while cheese melts. Spoon sauce over filets evenly and sprinkle with a bit more Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes until cheese starts to brown.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a very picky eater, and again. . . this recipe was a winner. He scraped his plate clean and got a second serving.

I’m thinking tomorrow of making a sausage, onion and butternut squash casserole. Perhaps some homemade bread as well. We’ll see.

Daily Reminder

This popped up in my Facebook feed this morning in my “Memories” and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The past few days I have struggled with some things; ideas and feelings that have haunted me most of my life.

If I were to pick three items from that list above, they would be:

  • You’re worth more than you think you are. At a young age I was made to feel worthless. I didn’t matter, I was unwanted. Nobody would want me. WHY would anyone want me? Those words came from someone who was in a hard place and I was the scapegoat. Easy to agree now that those words were a reflection of the speaker, not of me . . . still, it doesn’t erase the echoes that have followed me through the years.
  • You’re good enough. It seemed that nothing I did was ever good enough. My gender. My grades. My accomplishments. My children – oh my gosh, I had girls and I should have had boys. (Nevermind that I was only responsible for half the chromosomal order!) I had a boy and he died shortly after birth . . . what did I do to cause that? (Yes, those words were seriously spoken to me by a family member.) I am now a glorious over-achiever who takes no glory in her achievements. I feel I don’t deserve any reward. There must be a fluke or a mistake, an error that results in my doing something good.
  • There’s no one else you need to be but yourself. This one makes me laugh because I am soooo many people: daughter, mother, wife, sister, friend, lover, co-worker, nurse, firefighter, instructor, homebody, blogger, and other things . . . I don’t believe there is one person that knows all of me as a whole.

I find it amusing that following my funeral, which I plan to be a roast where my family and friends who care to join in can share anecdotes, there will probably be many exclamations of “She did what . . . ?” or “Why didn’t I know that about her . . .” or even “Are we talking about the same person?” There’s a quote that I will share below, which I love, because I only share with each person that part of me I wish them to know. Like the icebergs that float in the ocean, there is much more to me than what I show.

Am I Holding Back?

“I cannot continue to live as half of myself simply because it’s hard for others to handle all of me.” ~ Rachel Hollis

Consider the stars. . . in the sky,
they shine their brightest,
when it is darkest.

I suppose that is something I will have to tell myself on a daily basis. I do not have to dull my shine to make others comfortable.

I’ve always been different. Always spoken my mind. I have learned over the years not only to be tactful, but to weigh and measure my words so as not to offend or speak out of turn. People say to me, “You’re so quiet.”

My mouth may not be moving, but my brain is going non-stop. It is sometimes apparent that those around me are not ready to hear my opinion but even then, depending on the subject matter, I have no problem being the odd man out. I look at the options and do my research so that MY opinion is informed, not just parotted from elsewhere.

I cannot and will not be a ‘sheep’ — going along with the flow of things so as not to make ripples when I feel that something is not right. I may not be the most popular, but I also cannot be myself in half measures.

** side note to Crazy Carrie — I hope you’re enjoying the blog but for the love of Pete, when you send anonymous text messages (that aren’t so anonymous) insinuating that I’m speaking about someone, please be sure you know of whom I’m speaking before you assume lol **

Thought for the Week

I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve got — whether it be my home, my cars, my degrees, my jobs, or my relationships. Nothing has been handed to me. It has taken time, attention, and a lot of hard work.

I have gotten a lot of love and support from people that encourage and motivate me to do my best. They are my cheerleaders and I couldn’t have accomplished all of this without them!

I can see my achievements. I went thru the struggles and the work to make the grades or reach the goals. In MY head I know that I have not done anything that anyone else could not do with the same hard work. I also know there are those out there who would downplay my accomplishments, so I beat them to it. They can’t take it away from you if it doesn’t mean anything to you. Those degrees are truly just pieces of paper that signify knowledge.

The other night during our “Vertellis” game, the question was asked, “Who motivates or inspires you?” I don’t see myself as inspiring so when someone equates my name with this question it makes me very uncomfortable. I’m just. . . me.

Pro’s & con’s of being home

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen.” ~ Richard Branson

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This has been a week of teleworking, team conference calls, curriculum review, PowerPoint review and of course . . . being at home with two children who are also doing their schoolwork virtually.

As with any situation, there are Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s –

  • Spending time with the kids
  • Being able to work at my own pace
  • Not having to drive – it was odd to actually get in the car three days after being at home, having walked everywhere we needed to go
  • Not having to drive meant I saved on gas.
  • Being able to wear shorts and tank tops while working.
  • Taking breaks to peel wallpaper off the wall.

Con’s –

  • Spending time with the kids who are tired of being cooped up in “social isolation”
  • Missing the face-to-face interaction with my co-workers
  • Listening to my partner talk to himself for an hour while he attempted to set up a Zoom meeting session
  • Three people using the internet at once, causing it to move very slowly
  • Food – not that food isn’t good, but when they are bored, the kids eat everything that isn’t nailed down

Now for the giggles . . I mentioned this in a previous post. I love to laugh. I enjoy laughing and joking around with my children. I frequently get the giggles at work, listening to the conversations of my co-workers. The other day I was peeling wallpaper from the wall, teetering on the ladder, leaning towards the wall as I was on a conference call (fortunately my phone was muted) — and I got the giggles because I was “working” as I was “working” but the incongruity of it all just got to me.

I do miss my students as well, interacting with them and networking with them since they come from all over the nation and all types of backgrounds. I miss the interaction with our contract instructors as well, but I am happy that I am able to work in our local ER helping out with the staffing shortages and COVID concerns. I enjoy taking care of the patients and easing their concerns and doing the little things to go the extra mile for their comfort. Something to do with my motto of: do the most good for the greatest number of people.

So there you have it – the pros and cons of the past week.

(And that photo up there . . .definitely not me!)

Easter Sunday

“Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.” ~ Mary Hale

Today was about family, new life, joy, peace, happiness and looking forward to the future.

Family — sometimes, even tho we’re in the same house, we’re each doing our own thing. Today started with a scavenger hunt for the kids to find candy. Each one got their clues on a particular color sticky note and the candy was hidden inside and outside the house (luckily before the storms hit).

New Life — after a yummy dinner of Pot Toast and vegetables, we played the game ‘Vertellis’ which is the Dutch word for “tell me more.” It has been advertised on FB for the last couple of years and I finally ordered it. Folks, it is well worth it! I was amazed at the kids answers to some of the questions. To hear their hopes for the future, their reactions to things from the past year — it gave me hope that they will be okay. When Sam got the question, “Looking back at the past year, who is someone you would thank?” and he answered, “Savannah, for taking good care of me when Dad and Shelly wouldn’t.” — let’s just say it was an emotional moment for all of us.

Joy, Peace. Happiness — after dinner was over and the game had been put away, we talked about how some people celebrate the New Year on Jan 1 but for us it will now always be celebrated on January 5 as that was the day the kids came home for good. We also broke open a bottle of sparkling Caramel Apple cider to toast to New Life and New Beginnings.

Future — we discussed our goals for the next year, short-term and long-term. Dream vacations. How we like to travel and where we would go. Whether this house is “home” now — they said yes because we’re all together, I say it will be more so when we have OUR paint colors and furnishings in place. We still have a ways to go but today’s focus was looking at how far we’ve come.

As the winds picked up later in the evening, the rain poured, the thunder rolled, the lightning flashed and the power flickered, we were huddled together in the kitchen. Over hot chocolate, we quietly laughed as we waited out the worst of the storm and eventually wound down and went to bed.

And peace resigned over the night.

Embrace the Suck

“Embrace the suck: To consciously accept or appreciate something that is extremely unpleasant but unavoidable for forward progression.” ~ Unknown

Now this may seem an odd way to start a blog post on Easter Sunday. . . but as usual with my Asperger’s logical thinking, it should make sense by the end.

How often does it occur that we must absolutely face something unpleasant or painful in order to move forward? There is absolutely no other alternative or option? Whether it is a uncomfortable meeting or discussion with a co-worker or loved one, a painful decision to make, or a situation in which you have no choice — you simply must deal with it. Its happened to all of us at one time or another.

Several years ago there were memes on Facebook and jokes and satire and skits using the phrase, “But did you. . . die?” Sometimes even now, when I hear people whining about some of the simplest things — and I mean adults sounding like children whining over things that truly won’t matter 1-, 3-, or 5- years from now — I want to ask them, “Will it kill you?” In truth, being logical is not always a good thing because I can also be very impatient and judgmental with others. I try not to be, but I am only human.

Every morning, when I first get out of bed, it is extremely painful for me to walk. Not just that my joints ache. It feels as though knives (actually knives are too blunt, let’s go with scalpels) are slicing upwards into my feet with every step and my skin is so sensitive that I feel as if it is raw. I once described it as similar to the tins of kippers where you open them by using a key and peeling the top back, except my feet feel hot and burn as if someone peeled the skin off the bottom. The pain travels upwards into my hips and lower back. I try to spend a few minutes, the more the better, slowly stretching and bending and holding yoga poses.

It is typical for us to tense, and hold our breath and shy away from painful things. I see it every time I start IV’s. I place the tourniquet while I prepare everything else, this gives the veins time to fill with blood. I tell my patients to relax their shoulder and place my hand there while I say “just let your arm drop.” Then I tell them to take deep breaths and blow out as if they are blowing up a balloon. This helps them to relax and keeps their muscles from compressing the veins.

When I first walk to the yoga mat at the end of my bed and attempt that first stretch, bending from the waist, it hurts and I want to tense. But as I embrace the pain and take deep breaths, it begins to ease up. Instead of fighting it, I recognize that it’s there. I acknowledge the more I move, the more painful it will be. BUT as I recognize and acknowledge and accept it, I also begin to relax more allowing for deeper stretches and greater movement. The pain won’t leave completely, but I am able to manage it.

“Embrace the suck” is a military term often used by many whether it be sports or military, but probably not often used in faith settings. This morning, as we celebrate Easter and the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, let us not forget that if He had not “embraced the suck” of crucifixion and the weight of our sins (talk about unfair), we would have nothing to celebrate. Yet, even Christ, in the garden of Gethsemane, asked the Father several times that if there were any other options to please provide them. None coming, he truly “embraced the suck” unto death.

Daily, as I pray my rosary, I hold the crucifix in my hands. As I begin, I kiss the crucifix as a reminder to myself that not only are all things possible (Matthew 19:26) but that I can do all things thru Christ (Philippians 4:13) and I do not have to understand them (Proverbs 3:5).

Have a blessed and Happy Easter and. . .

Embrace the Suck!!