The Right Wrong Number

I’ve heard it said that waiting for something to happen is sometimes more about how long we feel is necessary rather how long it really takes. I was pondering this idea one morning as I walked through our neighborhood. 

What if we don’t have to wait two years for our hacienda? What if it could happen sooner than 2020? Am I prolonging it because I think two years is somehow required?

And then the fear of the unknown, loan approvals, inspections, closing costs, and leases overtook me, so I turned it off and admired a beautify palm tree, the blue sky and the white ocean waves. 

A few days later I sat on the sofa deeply engulfed in a project when the phone rang. I glanced down and saw it was a local number and felt the need to answer. 

“Hello, this is Jeannie.”  (long pause – callers always mistake me for a recorded message.)

“Oh, hello,” the voice replied. “My name is Lauri, I’m a local realtor and I’m calling to see if you have considered selling your home?”

“No, I’m sorry, we are currently renters.”

“Well, have you considered buying…”

Lauri continued to tell me about the current market and how she could assist us in finding a new home. Her voice faded in the background as two other conversations began playing in my head. Sometimes we stand in the way because we have predetermined our own timeline and Lady you have the wrong number!

Then the phone went quiet and I realized Lauri had finished and it was time for me to say something. Get out of the way – maybe this could lead somewhere – go ahead and tell her about the Hacienda dream – Really? You want a realtor calling you every other day to check up on you….it’s way too soon…

Well actually,” I heard myself say, “we have a plan, but we are really early in it and we won’t be ready for two years…” I told Lauri of our hacienda dream, how it would be three families and we all needed separate living space. How we really hadn’t even begun looking…cause, did I mention, we were still two years away.

“Let’s just get some information and I’ll start sending you listings and if anything looks interesting, you can call me.” So we did and she took the info about pricing, size, bedrooms etc. 

“And your last name is Hardy?” she continued.

I laughed and said, “No, that not my last name.” At that moment I think we both realized that this may have been the strangest conversation of the day. Wrong address. Wrong last name and a Chicago phone number – what a were the odds?

Fast forward four weeks and I’m shaking Lauri’s hand for the first time as we are stand outside a big blue ranch house on top a hill with a view to die for. One week later six of us are signing paperwork in the kitchen of that house and putting in an offer on a dream.

Maybe we do stand in the way of wonderful things happening to us. 

Maybe time is only defined by us, not the universe.

Maybe we’ve been waiting for things to happen and we really don’t have to.

Maybe wrong numbers are really right numbers and miss-information is exactly the information  needed. 


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The Oven Night | Prickly Pear

We seem to be having a lot of these breathless adventures…

Do you remember that night after we moved into the hacienda when we were all out doing things separately and suddenly our phones began to beep because Brian and Austyn found a new oven that was a floor model and had been marked down from $1400 to $850 and they were asking if we all wanted to go in on it and 60 text messages later we all decided it was a good idea so Brian said he could fit it in the Subaru and when he went to check out was told that the floor model had been marked down to $499 back in November but no one had changed the sign so it had been sitting on the Costco sales floor for four months waiting for us – us the people who just moved into a big blue house on the hill and are trying something called generational living and we love it so far except for the smell of what we believe was a rotting carcass in the kitchen and had been unable to locate it but now we were forced to pull the old oven out and when we did found lots of grease and dirt but no creature which didn’t stop Jeff and Austyn from putting on gloves and bleaching every surface that could reach including the nob to the exhaust fan and when the new oven was put in place we were all amazed that it had two ovens, a top and bottom, and came with a big orange warning sign that the oven could tip over if a baby were to crawl into it but we knew if a baby were to crawl into the over there would be greater danger than it tipping over – and now the kitchen smelled like bleach and a rotting carcass so we pulled the refrigerator out because it was leaning backwards and there it was, a small four legged critter lying lifeless which we removed and used more bleach and then felt the need to use this opportunity to remove the magnetic knife holder from the wall which was being held up with six inch screws and a bolts on the other end which wasn’t the reason the refrigerator leaned backwards but non the less seemed odd –  once the carcass was removed and the refrigerator was replaced we celebrated because our refrigerator didn’t lean any longer and the kitchen didn’t smell like rotting carcass and best of all, Brian looked up our oven on his phone and it retailed for $1700 which we had just purchased for $499 and best, best of all…it’s blue inside…that was a great night!!  



Olivia blog post for Jeannie BruenningI’ve spent more time on elementary school grounds recently than I have in the past twenty years. It’s one of the benefits of having grandkids living close by.

My daughter held tightly to Liam’s hand as they made their way to his room. The door was decorated with Owls, not easy to miss. Emery and I followed quite a bit behind. If you ever have the privilege of walking hand in hand with Emery, you will quickly realize that she is all about stopping to watch an ant, chase the birds, get a drink, and run down the ramps. We dance to school in the morning and play hop-scotch on the broken concrete. She skips and hops and does steps on my shadow.

As the space between Mom and us grew larger, it allowed a group of children emerging from a classroom to force us to stop. Each student was clutching their math book like it was a teddy bear. We stood and watched the parade. When the teacher emerged, I assumed she would be the end of the line. I figured it would be safe for Emery and I to continue.

A few seconds later, a girl burst out of the room, spun on her heals and skipped down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but notice her expression of delight that radiated in the sunshine. Her eyes fixed on the sky. I wanted to hear the music that was most certainly playing in her head.

“Olivia,” I heard the teacher say. It was in a tone that suggested she may have been  anticipating Olivia’s choice of direction. As if she knew that Olivia would need be guided. “This way,” she instructed. Without pause, Olivia did an about-face and began to skip down the sidewalk in search of her classmates. She was still looking up taking in the beauty of the day.

I love Olivia. She makes me smile.

I pray that as Olivia grows older, she never looses the courage to be the last one out the door. That she’s not afraid to turn left when everyone else is going right. I hope she never stops looking up and that the sun will always reflect off her smile. And that she is blessed with teachers who gently guide her.

When the sidewalk was once again safe for travel, I glanced down at my little partner. She had her back to me and was pointing to the sky.

“Neenee, look at the birds.”

“They’re beautiful,” I said squeezing her hand. “Come on, Sweetie, we need to go this way.”

Paddle boards, muscles, and memories

I got on a paddle board for the first time just about a year ago. It was thrilling. Something I’ve wanted to do since the first time I saw it. With my daughter and husband along side we headed out, kneeling in the middle of our boards, paddles in hand.

I watched as my daughter successfully made the transition from kneeling to standing. I watched in amazement as my husband did the same. With all the courage I could muster, I leaned forward, squatted, and stood. Instantly, my legs became Slinky legs and the board trembled. After a few short minutes of watching the board vibrate in the water, I knelt back down and decided that kneeling was just as good as standing.

On my second time out, I mentioned to the young woman who was setting us up that I couldn’t stand – but that kneeling was just as much fun.

“No,” she sweetly said, “that won’t do. Tell me again how it felt.”

I told her of the Slinky legs and the tremors. “But kneeling is great! I’m OK with it.”

“No,” she said again. “The reason your legs are doing that is because they’ve never done this  before. You don’t have any muscle memory.”

I leaned in, trusting that she was going to tell me how to create muscle memory for something I’ve never done. After all, kneeling was fun, but it wasn’t paddle boarding.

“Here’s what we’re going to do.” (Yes! Please! Let’s do something!!!) “I’m going to give you the widest board we have. When you get out, away from the rocks, I want you to stand up, kneel down, stand up, kneel down, stand up, kneel down; at least 5 times. By that fifth time, you’re muscles will remember what they are to do.”

It worked. The Slinky legs became rubber legs that became stick legs and finally paddle boarding legs. I had created muscle memory and I was a paddle boarder.

These past two days, I accompanied my daughter to LA for a few doctor appointments for my grand daughter. There have been many, too many, doctor appointments in Emery’s short six years in this world. We have lots of memories; and I’m sorry to say, many are not pleasant.

“It’s time to make new memories,” I told my daughter when I offered to accompany them.  “We’re going to make this a girls night out in LA!”

I’ll admit, as we started out, my level of excitement was less than explosive. The four hour drive was uneventful.  Entering LA Children’s Hospital took courage. “Muscle memory,” I kept repeating. “All those old memories can leave, this is a new day, a new experience.” I repeated those words as I walked to the front desk. With my visitor sticker in place, I walked toward Imaging, taking deep breaths and exhaling bad memories, sad memories, hopeless memories. They left my body like billows of black smoke.

An hour later and the Slinky legs became rubber legs that became stick legs, and finally we were having a girls night out in LA!! – that just happened to start at the Children’s Hospital. Another appointment.  Tossing the Kush Ball in the courtyard. McDonald’s play ground which was full of water, but that didn’t stop the fun. Dinner with an good friend. Jumping on the kingsize bed in the hotel. Watching the Micky Mouse Clubhouse in our nighties. Eating pancakes. Walking on the pier. Driving to the next appointment. Reading the Eye Chart and having lunch two blocks off the beach.

We made new memories, good memories. We had to kneel down and stand up many times but eventually we were paddle boarding.

After all, kneeling might be ok for some, but it’s just not good enough anymore.


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Falling Well

The tires of the bike refused to make the transition between the dirt path and black top, causing the bike to tumble and Liam to slide face down across the riding trail. The rest of us squealed our brakes and I shouted out, “Oh, Jesus!”

We retrieved him from the ground, wiped the tears and brushed off the pebbles sticking to his elbows and knees as his mother reassured, “You fell just how you were supposed to. You did great!”

I was instantly reminded of a conversation from a few years past of a dozen or so moms sitting around my dinning room table. Each expressing their fears of raising teenagers, each listing the rules they had put in place in hopes to protect their kids from all the evils that lurked around every corner. Each believing they could keep their children for the worlds harm.

“Protect? Wouldn’t it be better to teach them what to do when shit happens?” I thought. I wanted to shout it out, but this wasn’t that kind of group. The conversation in my head continued, “Statistics say that in this group almost half of us have experienced abuse and at least three sexual abuse. Unless you plan to lock them up till you’re dead, they going to encounter bad things!”

Life has edges, it has dangers, it has evils, it has paths that refuse to allow us to transition gracefully. Try as we may, it is impossible to avoid life’s edges. There is no amount of rules that will keep our kids in a protective bubble that they can roll through life in.

“You fell well!” Liam mom’s continued. “Good job!”

You fell well! – what a great statement.

After receiving comfort and congratulations on a fall well done, Liam inspected his bike, straightened his helmet and seat, climbed on board and took off proud of the scratch on his elbow and the fact that he knows how to fall well.

So here is a blessing for those who choose to Fall Well –

When you find yourself face down, sliding across the uneven paths of life; 

May someone be there to help you up, brush you off, and wipe the tears. 

May you quickly regain courage and balance to once again begin moving forward,

May you find your stride quickly and continue on the path.

And above all, may you look back and say with confidence, I fell well!

8 – Servants, I have many

Audio Lesson:

She gives food to her household and an allotted share to her maidens.

I managed a women clothing store for two years. It was an interesting experience. During my time there, my little store did fashion shows. We would take eight women and dress them up in three outfits and then allow them to parade through a crowd of other women who are all wishing they knew how to put together outfits like these. It was quite fun and the women had a great time. At the beginning of the fashion show all the newly named models are prim and proper. Buy round two, a few begin to sashay. And on the final round, there will undoubtably be one or two who felt the need to show off their chorus line moves. It was all great fun.

One of the last events that I did was for a large… as not to offend anyone, lets say… Organization. It’s one of those Organization where large numbers of people go on a Sunday morning and a fewer number attend Organizational Meetings throughout the week. These newly named models who attend this Organization unanimously won the ‘nastiest group we’ve ever encountered’ award. It’s a new award as we’ve never needed it before.

As a writer, I could go in many different directions with this topic. But the one that is blasting like a fog horn in my ears is taken from a little Proverb called the Virtuous Woman. That famous one; where the woman gets up before dawn, is wise in her business dealings, tends to her children’s needs for which they in-turn rise up and call her blessed; all while her well known husband sits at the city gates. Ya, that one.

There is a one liner in this well known Proverb that tells us this rare woman cares for her servants. Most of us would not admit we have servants and many would say we would like a few. I would ask to consider who are our servants?

I believe its the woman who checks me out at the grocery store, or the teacher who spends eight hours a day with my grandchildren. It’s the kid who takes my dry cleaning and young women who writes down my order and dutifully serves me my food. It’s the guy who has been assigned to answer my customer service call, and the barista who hands me my latte. These are my modern day servants. And if I want my children to someday rise up and call me blessed, I need to care for my servant’s needs. Seems simple. Seems like a Proverb that has been taught in most… Organizations.

So what is to be done with the “nastiest group we’ve ever encountered”? I will serve them, as long as they are in my clothes, they are my servants and I will care for their needs. I will also pull a leader of this Organization aside and gently and honestly share my thoughts on the subject. And I will remind myself every day that I am to care for my servants, no matter where they work. After all, my children need a reason to call me blessed and my husband needs something to talk about while he sits all day at the gate.