Charlotte and the Chimpanzees

Thirteen teenagers may hit the “best seller” list with their cookbook

dog and cookbook

Fargo and Ruth reading the new cookbook.

May Day, 2014, I found myself in a theater in Portland, Oregon with 13 little girls, my son and another parent. The girls wanted to see a movie about chimpanzees and Jane Goodall.

My son and his family live Portland with 14-year-old Charlotte and 11-year-old Lane. I visit a couple times a year. I’ve watched some of the 13 girls grow up since their moms played with them in the nearby park with tubs of Cheerios for the kids to stir, throw at each other, and eat with gusto as young toddlers. The moms called them “Sensory Tubs,” I think.

I have cheered them on the soccer fields, in plays, and at birthday parties. I know a few of the parents and visited with several of their grandparents. By invitation, I attended one girl’s Bat Mitzvah. Last time I visited I learned about Ultimate Frisbee at Charlotte’s game.

That movie convinced the girls to raise money for the animals. They decided they would collect recipes from famous cooks and chefs and include a few of their family recipes for a cookbook. They wrote letters to renowned chefs and celebrities. Most Friday nights they met at various houses where they would prepare and taste the recipes before writing evaluations for those selected for the cookbook. The girls started Roots and Shoots of Portland, established worldwide by Jane Goodall for young people to help preserve ecology. The girls titled the book Saving Pan, updating their website with each step.

When I visited last spring, a professional food photographer had volunteered to shoot the food photos for their book. Charlotte and her mom met with the photographer for her photo while I was there. Parents with connections found a reasonable publisher and public relations professionals.

My son notified me that the cookbook launched in early December 2017 and sent an article from the Portland Business Journal about the successful unveiling. Would I like a copy of the cookbook for $25? It arrived, as attractive as any dazzling Betty Crocker cookbook. They learned about people, the ecology, the publishing process, and ate healthy, vegetarian food. Michelle Obama and Jane Goodall submitted recipes along with many others.

I called my granddaughter. “Charlotte, I am so proud of you. Your cookbook is gorgeous. What was the most difficult part of sticking with the project? It took such a long time.”

She said, “Staying focused. It was lotsa fun! I’m so excited about it.”

“What was best about it?”

“I had a lot of fun cooking, and it was really cool trying out a variety of techniques for each different recipe. It was really amazing so many people contributed, and so many cared about the cause and willing to contribute was absolutely unbelievable.”

Although she’s a very picky vegetarian, she tasted food she would never have touched or tried. Mostly, she likes macaroni and cheese. The thirteen girls attend different high schools now, but continue their neighborhood friendships.

When the parents sold 400 books in one week with minimal advertising in a few restaurants they added a “purchase” button on the girls’ website It’s a great gift for anyone. All profits go to the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. Order now  before it hits the New York Times, best seller list.

Roving Ruth – Behind the Scenes – January 2018

Portland Roots and Shoots Organization

Jane Goodall in the Center

January writers often focus on goals. My article this month, “Charlotte and the Chimpanzees,” shares the story of thirteen friends who published a cookbook to support chimpanzees. It’s a story of passions for supporting ecology through long-term effort.

I hope your holidays filled you with HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE. When you read this issue, we will have returned from Houston where sixteen of us gathered for fun, food, family, and friendship. The children range in age from age two to age 16. Yes, we made noise, and ate unhealthy and healthy food. The kids squabbled very little, as long as they had their electronic devices.

Our Sachse-Wylie Authors Group continues to grow with a prompt in December to improve description. We had a little chaos as it was the first time for us to try this method. Ruth Wharton leads the January 10 meeting. We usually meet the first Wednesday of the month at the Sachse First United Methodist Church at 6:30 p.m. We pushed the meeting to January 10 because of the holidays. The prompt this month helps us improve dialogue in our writing samples. We critique each other. A little scary but our group is kind to each other.

May Roving Ruth inspire new, wildly impossible goals.


Resistance remains a common response, today and yesterday.


Hilside view


When I worked in Chambon-sur-Lignon in France, I heard whispers that the townspeople saved 5000 Jewish children and adults during World War II. I assumed all the surrounding towns must have hidden Jewish children and adults. Not true. Other villages saved a few, but Chambon-sur-Lignon, near the demarkation between occupied France to the North and the Resistance of Southeast France, saved many more lives than the surrounding small towns.

The farmers and townspeople hid the children in barns, the woods, and false closets.  They “hid” them in plain sight in schools and dormitories. Jewish teachers escaped certain death or death camps, if they had remained in large cities. The people of Chambon never hesitated to imperil their lives to save others. Andre Trocme, the minister in this Huguenot enclave, encouraged the entire town with his mantra of righteousness.

More than twenty years after the war, I traveled to Chambon. When I lost my suitcase and needed a job, a lady in Chambon found work for me in a rehabilitation center. The director loaned me clothes. Kindness surrounded me. I learned the importance of loving others, no matter what. The people of Chambon treated me as they treated the Jewish children during the war.

Throughout my life, the lessons I learned helped me with personal and professional strife. Ten years ago, when my husband and I decided to return to see where I worked, my research included watching Weapons of the Spirit (a film by Pierre Sauvage) and scanning a few books. I decided someday I would write about my experience.

My Resistance

Last year my memoir, Gift of the Suitcase was launched after struggling with deeper research, recollections and the writing process. My scrutiny and networking continues. When an online alert notified me that Pierre Sauvage would speak in Tulsa for two appearances in mid-November, I wanted to attend.

A serious illness attacked me, called the Yebbits. Yeh, but what if I get lost? Yeh, but what if he forgets we connected online? Yeh, but what if I can’t find the hotel, the theater, a place to eat? Yeh, but what if the hotel isn’t safe? I pushed my resistance aside. Yeh-but I’m going!

And I never got lost on my 500-mile round trip to Tulsa.

The Movie and Message

Pierre’s remastered Weapons of the Spirt film will be re-released in 2018. His talk on Sunday commemorated the Jewish holiday Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), when thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues in Germany were destroyed, considered the beginning of the Holocaust in the late 1930s.

The powerful message resonated with the people, as the audience had lost relatives and friends among the six million killed. Pierre spoke about the persecution of the Huguenots centuries before they migrated to Chambon. He reminded the audience about the massacre in Tulsa in 1921 when homes of African Americans were destroyed and as many as 300 lost their lives. He noted the sexual harassment in the movie industry near his home in Los Angeles.

Pierre is working on several other documentaries. He is dedicated to making the world a better place. We both want a better world.

We do not want another Holocaust. With so much hatred, vengeance, and ugliness in the news, his message of kindness adds value in a world of chaos. Let’s all reach out with kindness every day.

Let’s replace grouchy with grins. Let’s smile more, befriend more, and remember the humble citizens of Chambon. Chiseled in stone over the door of their small Chambon church, it says aimez vous, les uns, les autres. (Translation: Love one another.)


Love One Another

“Don’t look away.” Pierre Sauvage


Dark Surprises

night skyUnexpected events renew respect.

As Marilyn walked into the kitchen, she noticed Duane’s ghastly, white face. He held up his finger, wrapped in a paper towel, blood oozing from the cut. “I’ve cut my finger nearly off,” he says. “I was fixing dinner. You hafta take me to the hospital.”

The time is 7:30 p.m. on a weeknight. Twilight.

“Now, Duane, how did this happen? Calm down. Get in the car. No, you can’t drive. How bad is it?” she says. “I’m sure the nearest Emergency Room is two miles away, near Walnut and Shiloh. It’s a Baylor facility.” She tries to reach the correct 911 operator to reassure it’s the closest location. As she drives her voice becomes louder and squeakier. When they arrive, the sign on the ambulance entrance says to enter through the front door. Which door? There are several doors.

They dash around three sides of the building and through the third door into the stark, white waiting room. Marilyn rushes to the receptionist to register him. Duane crowds behind her, talking over her head to the receptionist. “I need to see the doctor right now!” The little lady, with a soft, calm manner, says, “There are three ahead of you and only one doctor on duty. Those three have chest pains. Please, sit down, sir.”

“Let’s go to Plano, Marilyn. I can’t wait.” Marilyn, married to this man for forty-five years, knows him. He’s not about to sit still in this reception area. They return to the car and head for Plano. The blood pours down his hand. “Hold it up,” she says, as she maneuvers through the traffic. A thirty-minute, fifteen-mile drive ensues to the Baylor Heart Hospital.

Only one woman sits in the large, well-lit reception area, awaiting a relative or friend. A sweet, young woman in a smock ushers Duane to a private, room, which smells of antiseptics. The friendly, trim, forty-something nurse practitioner, forty-some woman charms him. They joke about his ability to cut broccoli while cooking. She glues his finger together (literally). She supplies instructions for self-treatment, suggesting he visit his personal physician the next day.They head home by 9:00 p.m.

On the road, the couple talks about the irony of him cutting himself as he considers himself an expert with a knife. He doesn’t want her to cut apples or chop celery. Often, he says to her, “You are an accident waiting to happen with a knife.” They are both relieved he doesn’t need his finger amputated or sewn together.

She thinks to herself, I’m doing well in this emergency. He seems to be okay. I’m glad he isn’t driving. His driving sucks. I’m glad I took this crazy, old man over thirty miles to Plano to appease him. As they approach a curve on a two-lane road about a mile from their home, she whacks the curb on a curve. Darkness prevails on this narrow road. He yells, “Drive over the curb. Get out of the road.” She does as he says, parking the car with two flat tires in the grass by the road. The road has no street lights. By this time, the Milky Way twinkles overhead, but no moon shines.

Duane decides to walk home to let the dog out and return in his vehicle but he fails to communicate why he leaves. AAA is on the way. Marilyn worries about his asthma or he might fall while walking through a nearby field on the way to their home. The cars whiz past her car on the two-lane road. Fear grabs her. She calls the local police to explain the accident and her concern about her senior-citizen-husband-with-breathing problems. A police cruiser arrives with a fire truck and an emergency vehicle with flashing red lights. Traffic backs up a mile. The big, burly, soft-spoken officer directs the vehicles to return to the fire station. The officer receives a call from another officer. Duane’s face registers surprise as he walks near their house. “Yes, I’m fine. I need to get my car. AAA should arrive shortly where my wife is waiting.”

The officer with Marilyn asks if she needs a ride. “No,” she replies. “I reached a neighbor who is on his way to take me home as soon as the tow truck arrives.” The officer leaves as the barefoot neighbor arrives in his car. Another anxious moment for Marilyn as she’s sure snakes and critters abound at the dark weeds. No snakes attacked. Duane pulls in behind the neighbor to await the tow truck while the neighbor provides the ride home. Duane doesn’t say much until later.

The crisis lacked humor when it occurred. When Duane arrives at home from following the tow truck to the tire store, he asked why she ran into the curb. She had no answers, other than carelessness or nerves. He didn’t yell at her about stupidity but expressed concern. Her reactions mirrored his: she thought he might fall or become out of breath. Neither attacked, which sometimes happens in families.

As Marilyn and Duane discussed the events of that dark night in the coming weeks, laughter ensues. She still complains about his driving. Several weeks later she felt he would be safe enough to cut lettuce. No one died, and Duane’s finger healed with no complications. They grasped the incongruity with a new appreciation for each other.

Looking back, the lessons learned are important for us. Sometimes what bothers us most are the things which we should examine in ourselves. Marilyn drives with more care, and Duane no longer hassles her as she chops vegetables. When we criticize others, we need to take a good look at our own liabilities. If we learn from experience the world can be a better, safer place. The irony helped increase patience and fewer complaints for this senior couple. They are thankful for the people who touched their lives that night and grateful for each other.

Fiction, based on a true story. Thank you, Caron, for assisting with the article.




Banff in Eight Days

mountain with flowers

Mountain View from Banff Centre

“You want to go where?” I asked the husband. “We paid the bill for the upcoming river cruise for May. Now you want to go to someplace in August? Show me the itinerary. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to travel again that soon.” As I read the description in the Roadscholar catalog, I went to Google to search locate Banff. It’s about ninety miles from Calgary according to the map is in the province of Alberta, east of British Columbia on the Pacific Coast.

The description shouts at me like a barker at the Texas State Fair. The price appears reasonable as the fees cover airfare, a transfer to and from the airport, all meals, except two, rooms at the Banff Conference Centre, a local guide for the week and much more. August in the mountains? A local guide? Lectures on the local scenery and history? I’m ready to register!

My husband and I traveled with the Roadscholar organization several years ago to Lafayette, Louisiana and enjoyed it. We learned to dance, visited an accordion factory and listened to Zydeco music. A large, creaky boat slid through the swamps with alligators. Cajun food and sumptuous specialties added to our girth.

Within five minutes I decide that Banff might be cooler and more captivating than Texas in August. Not having to drive in the mountains meant far less stress in my life. Ted and I don’t always agree on speed limits in the mountains.

Emerald Lake

Our Group (the Bears) Overlooking Emerald Lake

Banff Conference Center

I knew little about Banff Centre, where we stayed, until after we arrived. In my own words, it’s a non-credit haven for artists who want to improve themselves, away from the drudgery of everyday life for classes and community with other artists.  Sculptors, painters, potters, actors, producers, video wizards and even mathematicians from around the world apply for limited openings in their classes. The Centre has ten or twelve buildings, a huge fitness center, restaurants, four small theaters, a large theater, and a film production center with one of those big green screens the “big boys” use in California.

If you only have a few minutes don’t visit their website. You need a minimum of half an hour to grasp the extent of the various programs, events, and variety of activities. We were privy to many of the short films for their upcoming Film Festival. Their audio-visual equipment is top-notch with the latest technology. They offer study and research in an extraordinary number of areas. I would love to attend an author’s program but not in the winter.


The staff at the Conference Centre where we stayed do not work for the RoadScholar organization, but a joint effort. The sleeping rooms are not fancy but comfortable. The water pressure works and the water runs hot and cold. (Texans rarely have cold water in the faucet in summertime). Although the beds are comfortable, we could have slept on rocks from fatigue at night.

The Roadscholar leadership impresses us. People in our group arrive from across the US. with a few from Canada and outside the US. We number 120 to 130 in the big group. Each of the four groups has its own local guide. Our guide was funny, knowledgeable and kept us moving from breakfast through dinner.


Ruth climbing

Ruth on the Rocks-Scary!

Both Ted and I hike from 10,000-15,000 steps a day. The guide instills confidence in our group. “No, it’s not too hilly. No, I’ve never lost anyone or had to carry anyone to the hospital from a fall.  Yes, it’s worth the hike to see the waterfall, but you might not want to take the time to walk to the larger one if you walk slowly.” He happened to snap a picture of me at the worst moment of the trip. I conquered the stony upward march to the top to view the stunning turquoise water in the lake below. Little pebbles, large rocks, and steep rock steps with no handrails keep me more alert than an eagle. One woman loses her cell phone but retraces her steps to the gift shop where a kind traveler had given it to the clerk.


Flowers bloom everywhere. My best moment arrived while gazing at the field of flowers climbing the mountainside at Emerald Lake. Lake Louise appears more often in brochures but I preferred Emerald Lake. The hill of flowers, produced by an avalanche, races toward the sky away from the pristine, turquoise water at the bottom of the mountain.

If you visit my FaceBook page for August 21-27 when I was there, you can see flower photos of my favorites that week. I try not to post photos when I’m out of town, as I’m told it may entice burglars to visit my home.


Bears, Geography, and Geology

brown bear

Angel Bear in a Lodge

Each group had an animal name. We were the Bears. I’m not sorry we didn’t run into bears as I’m fearless in front of dogs, but not around wild animals. The Bears enjoyed many lectures before trooping to the bus for excursions. My favorite lecture covered information on bears. A lady who works for the Canadian government gave us a lecture from her thirty years of experience living in the backcountry to study bears’ habits and protect them. Her long, curly hair reminded me of a hippy from the 70’s.  She engaged the audience with her stories of vegetation for pregnant bears and the night she spent in her car with bears hovering outside the windows. The archeological history brought the latest insights for the audience.  The geographer provided insight on the formation of the lakes, flooding, and related ecological challenges.

Several hilarious moments occurred along our path that week. I loved what happened when everyone on the bus was sleeping on a return to Banff. The guide wanted to show us something as we neared Banff and played roosters crowing. That woke everyone, even my husband, as we roared with laughter. Near the end of our trip, we hiked in a nearby park. Our group and the guide adhered to accurate schedules. That morning a few Bears lagged behind on the stony hillside. The guide, without thinking, yelled, “Bears. Come along now!” Although he shook with laughter, he realized what a mistake we witnessed as he called to us, his group of Bears. Only human Bears appeared on the trail that day.


I may write more about Banff for an upcoming travel anthology I’m thinking of compiling. I want feedback from you about this article to understand what I need to add or delete. I think I could write ten times the amount of information about Banff to share with you. Should I give more details about the food, the history or is this enough? Please send your feedback to

Next time you are puzzled about where to travel, think about Banff, regardless of the season. I’m told it is one of the most magnificent places in the world. And I agree.


Time to Volunteer


Lon Ricker on his Motorcycle

Get on the Motorcycle and Ride

The kids return to school in August. What will you do with extra time? Your full-time job requires concentration. The children go to lessons and practices. Time to volunteer remains an issue.

You retire thinking you may find time to help others. But, you cannot seem to find time anything but your golf game or online interests.

Lon’s Story

Lon Ricker is a friend. I watch him from a distance as his career evolves. He’s not quite a Renaissance man but an “uncaged” spirit who loves family, freedom, and helping others. He worked with my husband. When he was promoted to a management position he hated it. With no dependents or home ownership, he quit.

After I ride around the block with him on his motorcycle I ask, “What are you going to do?” He responds, “Maybe odd jobs. For sure I will ride my bike a lot.” And he did. He looks relaxed, happy, but he tires of painting walls and carpentry. When he returns from his “free range existence,” he volunteers at the SoupMobile, a philanthropy in Dallas where the homeless eat daily. He loves it and they love him, volunteering many hours.

The leadership proposes he become the paid Development Director, which means he builds relationships and raises funds for the organization. He expands the Christmas program where the homeless stay in a fancy hotel overnight for a fabulous holiday experience, requiring many donations and volunteers. Now he’s trying something new.

After serious introspection, Lon starts a consulting agency to assist non-profits with communications and fund development. He has family obligations and is a homeowner, but he‘s a risk-taker and a king of networking. He’ll do well, resulting from his super attitude and experience.*

Limited Expertise


Ruth loves facilitating programs.

I share his story to emphasize that we find time to do what we want. Sometimes life truly interferes with volunteer ability but constraints can be excuses.

When I changed careers to write, I considered offering to teach classes at church, but I didn’t feel qualified. I don’t attend Bible studies. I don’t have a background in Biblical history or a knowledge base for interpreting miracles. My religious acumen lacks depth. But the need arises for teaching once a month.

Guess what? When I begin the class, my voice quivers and I cope with butterflies, a little like I am riding behind Lon on his huge bike. My voice becomes more confident as the group becomes attentive. I am enjoying facilitating, rather than calling it teaching.

The last two Sundays the curriculum emphasizes the need to be “Servants.” Humph! I don’t like the curriculum so I find time to customize the suggested message for the group. I use Father Gregory Boyle’s book, titled Tattoos on the Heart during the classIf a Jesuit priest can create programs for the tough gangs on the West Coast, we, too, can make a difference. He’s an excellent role model. The class may not have liked writing a poem or hearing about gangs, but they will remember the topic. The experience encourages me to share the joy in volunteer work.

While researching for the lesson, I discover several women in the church drive a great distance to Gainesville, Texas to participate in the Kairos Prison Ministry. She and her friends help female inmates find answers for a better life. When I talk with Carolyn Jones about the program, I hear passion in her voice.

Volunteer work is important, no matter what you choose. No time? Try hard to MAKE time. You may find a new passion in life, which may feel like riding a Harley-Davidson when you walk in the door to a meeting the first time or two.

With the enormous number of philanthropies, finding a fit for your volunteer effort should be easy. You may find new confidence, new relationships for your career, and more personal rewards than challenges.

Eighteen Worthy Non-Profits

Susan G. Komen Foundation-research and assistance for cancer patients

KERA-public radio and television

Rotary International-many worthy community activities

Lions Club-helping people with eye problems and the need for eyeglasses

Hearts and Hammers-refurbish low-income housing needs

Soupmobile-feed the homeless; ancillary services

Salvation Army-donate your gently used stuff; maybe be a bell ringer at Christmas

Red Cross-help with blood donation

Bed Start-donate beds and other furniture for families sleeping on the floor

Gateway of Grace-build ramps, helping with building projects

Food pantries-amazing grace

Board memberships-new friends and insight

Kiwanis Club-service projects and fundraising for children

Book Clubs-get to know your neighbors

HOA-home owners’ association which helps the communities stay safe, presentable and friendly

Habitat for Humanity-donate furniture, refurbish and resell


Ambiance to Ambivalence

New Orleans

New Orleans Architecture

New Orleans is a gorgeous city, but….

New Orleans beckons me to this day, but with doubts. As a Francophile, visiting New Orleans appears on my bucket list with a line through it. Two years ago, I begged the husband to fly to New Orleans. The man is not fond of flying anywhere, much less to a drivable location from Dallas. We drove across the state when we visited Lafayette a few years ago: borrring! I don’t see how people stay awake on Highway 49 before heading east on Highway 10 to New Orleans. The expense for the trip is about the same if you fly and stay fewer days than if you would drive with extra nights in a hotel.

A friend suggests a hotel in New Orleans. She and her sister stayed at a medium-priced hotel between several of the venues we want to visit. I make the flight and hotel reservations. I barely notice the term “suites” and “non-suites” but there was a price differential. I reserve the less expensive room. The location on the map looks perfect since I prefer not to be in the midst of noisy crowds in the French Quarter.

Flight is fine. Trip from airport to hotel is fine. We drag our bags along a dark hotel corridor at the hotel to enter a room which costs more than $150 per night. The price is reasonable for New Orleans. We enter a drab, musty, gray room, which is all wrong. The bedspread has a tear in it. It looks dirty. The room smells worse than a wet dog. I call the reservation desk. “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but that’s shur nuff what ya paid far. We can move ya t’a suite in the otha tawar as that’s where the nisa rooms are, but y’all needa pay a little bit more.” Although I’ve lived in the south for over thirty years, I had to listen carefully to understand her lovely, Louisiana accent. Fine. Let’s move.

hotel bath remodel

No Soap Dish and Bathroom Problems

I fail to check out the bathroom, but the suite looks comfortable and clean. We drop our bags and head to dinner, tired but happy with the upgrade. After dinner, I discover the bathroom remodel apparently stopped weeks ago. The window sills are covered with icky, gray-green mold. The shower stall has no lip on it. The water would flood the bathroom floor. Again, I contact the front desk but this time I discover that’s the last room available. Someone would clean the bathroom in the morning.

We discuss our plight and decide we can handle anything after having reared teenagers and stayed in stranger places. We would use the shower gently to “make do,” as we do not want to search for another place to stay.

Cafe du Monde

Cafe du Monde in Jackson Square

Most everyone who visits New Orleans starts the day with beignets at the famous Café du Monde. Maybe not everyone, but it is high on my priority list.  The melodious, fun-loving quartet plays jazz on the corner outside the roofed patio for travelers as we munch the beignets (fried dough with confectioners’ sugar, sometimes filled with fruit). The sun shines on the world.

We find the visitors’ center and buy tickets and board the “Hop on, Hop off” bus, a boon for travelers who do not want to drive in the city. After studying the map, we “hop off” the bus for the short walk to the World War II Museum to buy the tickets for the hour-long, in-depth documentary “Beyond the Boundaries.”


Inside the World II Museum

Both my husband and I love World War II history and stories. The high point of the trip is the museum. Its reputation as a historical gem proves true. We stand in line for the movie, huddled with a group of friendly tourists awaiting an excellent documentary in 4-D technology with commentary by Tom Hanks. Original footage and realistic sound effects astound the crowd. The lunch with a zillion other people in the large, museum café, is tasty and reasonably priced. Two more hours of walking through the displays add the joy of learning while traveling.

When we leave the museum, we shiver, as the weather changed from sunny to dreary. My husband decides he needs a nap. By the time, we reach the hotel, he is not feeling well, but later, we wander to a nearby, excellent restaurant for dinner. I do a happy dance that I packed my lined jacket as I had not expected the bitter cold and rain in early March. The excellent fish dinner at a nearby Cajun restaurant revives us.

Unfortunately, the husband’s recuperation did not last. In the morning, he declines to see more of the town. Disappointment reigns for fifteen minutes before I head out on my own. Maybe he will feel better later. I know where to look for antiques. Research before leaving Dallas helps me decide to shop. I board the “Hop on, Hop off” bus, near the hotel, making sure I take the correct route on the breezy, crisp day.

Magazine Street

Cornstalk Fence Hotel on Magazine Street

Magazine Street travels through the Garden District. I feel guilty to have fun while the husband wallows in misery at the hotel.

I meander through the stores: gifts, hardware, clothing-funky and fancy. Magazine Street holds fascinating shops and astounding homes, bed and breakfasts with ornate architecture. I buy lunch at a thriving bar, sitting alone on a stool. The bartender ignores me after serving a splendid po’boy and iced tea.

It is time to locate the last stop on the “Hop on, Hop off” bus to circle to the hotel. The tour guide regales stories about many parades in New Orleans as the tourist industry schedules regular festivals. New Orleans people love to party and entertain. Charles Street has a trolley and wonderful venues to visit. My head bounces back and forth looking at the historic buildings from the bus.

Ted, the husband, feels better. The day before we depart is excellent for photos. Again, we board the bus and ride around town with two excellent guides: one for the north end of the city with a change of guides for the southern half. We eat a quick, flavor-filled lunch in the French Quarter with no time to visit specific sites.

colorful street dancer

Is it a clown? A dancer?

Before we leave, I want to see Bourbon Street. We visit a high-end antique store on our traipse to Bourbon Street. I am not tempted with their high prices. A clown and dancers perform in the street. We hustle to Bourbon Street where the open doors let the stale smells of alcohol and cigarettes waft through the air. As we walk, I see an old, squat, heavy-set woman with no shirt walking along the street. Not a pretty sight. I almost cried to think of her lack of dignity. Was she drunk, on drugs, or what? Did she need food? Did someone take her shirt? No one pays attention to her. I’ll never know her story.

Perhaps I should return to New Orleans. I try to accept surprises when they occur. I took advantage of the chance to see the shops on Magazine Street and enjoyed the time alone, but I don’t know if I’ll ever beg to see the town again. Too much went wrong to want to return. I’ll buy my beignets elsewhere.

Addendum: I contacted the hotel manager upon returning home. After I sent photos of the nasty conditions in the room, I received a discount.





Let’s Celebrate Independence Day


“I pledge alliance…”

An Essay

I finished reading the Lilac Girls, a powerful story of inhumanity. One of my book clubs chose it. I resisted reading it, preferring not to hear about the hideous treatment in concentration camps during World War II. The novel, historical fiction, is based on events surrounding a large group of female prisoners during the Holocaust. The “heroine” is the lady who organized and helped raise funds for a trip for the survivors for rehabilitation and relaxation in the US after the war.

The story needs to be shared again and again. I barely touched on the indignations the children and people encountered during the war in my book Gift of the Suitcase, yet one reader told me she found those passages uncomfortable. Throughout the Lilac Girls, the enormity of the atrocities of war caused me to cringe with sadness, even tears.

We are fortunate to live with freedom. I appreciate my independence. I am living the American dream of doing what I love (writing and traveling). Freedom to write this essay is a blessing, which is cause for celebrations with fireworks and friends.

My first trip to Europe gave me an inkling of how Americans are hated and loved. Shamefully, innocent people continue to be killed throughout the world. Our independence should not be taken for granted or in isolation. I realize the world may never rest in peace, but we, as individuals, can live peacefully.

Let’s try to make our country more lovable. We are a country of mixed heritage. Diversity is a strength. Let’s celebrate our wholeness as a nation. Let’s celebrate our unique heritage and respect others.  Vicious words, rather than constructive discussions, foster hatred. War fosters pain and suffering, no matter who is right and just. A fellow author suggests the Democrats and Republicans need to re-brand themselves. I agree.



Fun on the Fourth

Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy

The Audie Murphy and the Cotton Industry, totally entwined in history.

Antiques and memorabilia at the Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum create lasting memories for visitors. It’s worth the drive, an hour east of Dallas on Highway 30. “What,” you say, “is Audie Murphy doing in a Cotton Museum?” Hunt County, Texas is famous for two things: Audie Murphy and cotton.

Audie: the Hero

Audie lived his life in the fast lane. Born in 1925 in Kingston, near Greenville, he entered the Army ten days after his eighteenth birthday. One of twelve children, he marched off to war with love in his heart for his family and his country.

He served in Sicily, Italy, and France, facing the Germans and stunning his superiors with his expertise and bravery. He returned to Hunt County before his twentieth birthday with thirty-three military awards, including the Medal of Honor. News services picked up the story to honor him.

Audie: the Actor

Audie’s face became well-known throughout the U.S. A handsome guy, articulate and feisty in interviews, actor James Cagney invited him to visit Hollywood. When Audie published his autobiography, the movie industry chose his story for film. He talked his way into the starring role. Much to everyone’s delight, he became as famous for his acting ability as his military acumen. Unfortunately, like many actors and sports stars, he died young and poor. His investments failed and he gambled too much. He died on a foggy, misty night in an airplane accident near Roanoke, Virginia in 1971 at age 46.

A selected list Audie Murphy movies in the gift shop:

To Hell & Back

Cimarron Kid

Cast a Long Shadow

Apache Rifles

Drums Across the River

Cotton and Antique Displays


Hairdresser Agony

The Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum equals fun. Take the grandkids. Let Grandma share her experience with a permanent hair wave using the funny machine that looks like it could electrocute anyone coming near it: she will laugh until her stomach aches, watching the grandkids’ faces.

The cotton displays provide insight into the process of picking and baling the cotton. An enormous wooden cotton gin exhibits the intricacies of the ordeal of making cotton. You will find more insight about Hunt County as the museum supports the entire area.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and closed most holidays, but it will be open on Tuesday, the Fourth of July. A young family can spend an hour or two rambling through the museum, trying to explain how someone used to pick cotton to make a shirt. Senior citizens may saunter slower to reminisce longer than the youngsters.

The scenery refreshes urban cowboys, vets, and families. Horses lean over the fence and an old cabin and restored old home rest in the pristine setting.

Beige horse

Check the website for more detailed directions and tickets. I guarantee you will love the place, especially if you are an antique with young ones in the party.

Roving Ruth Survey Results – June 2017

Roving Ruth-Survey Summary

The results from the Survey fascinated me.

I write a monthly column for my followers, titled “Roving Ruth”. When I asked my friend and colleague, Brett Schuler, to help me develop a survey, he created the template and I developed the questions. Roving Ruth received a 10% return on the survey from June 1- June 12, 2017. Not bad for a survey. Marketing research shows 9% are the core readers. Forty-two percent said the newsletter was “Very Good” and the same number thought it “Excellent,” which means 92% like it! That’s encouraging for me.

The top three articles were:

“No Ghosts Allowed”

“An Un-Common Hobby: How My Paperweight Collection Evolved”

“Unforgettable Canadians and the Quilt Barn Trail”

Sixty percent said they would like one shorter article and one longer. I like that idea. My creative juices are flowing on reformatting a little. Another asked for more data, but someone else likes hearing about uncommon people who overcome challenges.  The responses indicate they enjoy the variety (60%), length and information.

If you have not yet subscribed to Roving Ruth, here’s the link.

If you have not yet purchased my latest book, Gift of the Suitcase, here is the quickest link. If you prefer to order at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, no problem. It’s in paperback and e-book format. It’s also available at other distribution centers, too.

If you have read the book and not yet written a review, please let other readers know what you think in an Amazon review, the “go-to” source for most everyone. You do not have to purchase the book on Amazon to write a review.

THANKS, everyone, who responded to the survey.

THANKS, everyone who has read my book.

THANKS, everyone, who has written an Amazon review.