I Stop for Turtles!

I need that on a bumper sticker.

Yesterday was May 6, 2022, and my eldest daughter’s college graduation in Campbellsville, Kentucky. She worked very hard to get her master’s degree at Carver School of Social Work. It was an incredible journey with twists, turns, disappointments and struggles, but she did it. By golly, she did it, and I could not be more proud of her accomplishment!


The plan is to meet my daughter and her family at a Dollar General store on the way then follow them to the college campus. I leave the house before 10:30 a.m. and soon turn onto a long, winding and hilly country road. About a half mile later, I happen upon a turtle in the middle of the road. As is my routine, I stop my car, undo my seatbelt, open the door and set out on my rescue mission. I pick the fella up as he hunkered into his shell and I carry him to the side of the road in which he was heading. That’s what animal experts say to do. Not like I did a couple of years ago when I rescued a turtle and thought driving it to a nearby park was the best idea, while holding the guy over my passenger seat as he proceeded to spray said seat with liquid feces. Pleased with myself for doing the right thing (this time…you live and learn, sometimes the stinky way), I get back in my car, fasten the seatbelt and thoroughly cleanse my hands with a sanitizer wipe. And, I get back on the road again.

About half a mile later, an attack turkey darted out in front of me and I nearly hit it with my car! I could’ve had a free Thanksgiving turkey if only it’d been a tad bit slower. Not sure what I would’ve done with a freshly murdered turkey. I had a full day of activities ahead of me. Perhaps I could’ve asked one of the local farmers to keep it until I came back through? Hmm. Onward to Campbellsville!

Not even a mile further down the road, I see a second turtle in the middle of the road. This is unusual. I don’t recall ever rescuing two turtles on the same road, or even in the same day. Nevertheless, I stop the car, remove my seatbelt, get out and rescue this misguided turtle by placing him on the side of the road in which he was heading, and ask him, “What’s up with you all today?” He didn’t answer. Satisfied with succeeding in another valiant rescue mission, I get back in my car, fasten seatbelt, cleanse my hands, and continue my drive.

I was able to drive about one and a half miles before I found yet another turtle in the middle of the road. Now we’re up to three? Wow! Once again, I stop the car, get out, pick up turtle, place said rescued turtle on correct side of road, get back in car, wash hands…and head further down the road.

Seriously?! This is nuts! What’s that? To my disbelief, in the middle of the road–it’s turtle number four! I repeat my rescue procedure to the letter, but this time I turn on my emergency flashers due to the location of said turtle being in a curve located on a hill. I carry out my brave mission, get back on the road where I immediately see a bluebird. It’s an indigo bunting, one of my mother’s favorite birds. That was a nice treat. You don’t see those very often.

Guess what? You guessed it! Not much farther down the windy, hilly road, I find turtle number FIVE. I stop, put car in park, and as I was opening the door to get out and perform another heroic rescue, that little fella flat took off. I didn’t know turtles could move that fast! I grabbed my phone to capture its movement and was able to get the last few seconds on his run on video. (Unfortunately, I can’t upload videos on my blog or I’d share it here, but I can post it on the Facebook page for my Itchy Nipples book!) Then, I’m back on the road. Again.

I was able to go maybe two miles this time, before I found kamikaze turtle number six! SIX?! On the same road, the same trip, the same day. It’s crazy! Is this national mass suicide day for turtles? (This is where I begin photographing the turtles as evidence, for who would believe this was really happening?)

Turtle #6

I was a short distance from the Dollar General Store where I was to meet my daughter and her family when I saw turtle number seven. Now, this turtle did not resemble its predecessors. It was much smaller and was lying on its back. I get out of my car with some heavy trepidation since I could not tell if the little fella was alive or dead. I walk up to him, kneel down to get a closer look and he seems to have his eyes open. Or are they frozen that way? I tapped him gently and he hunkered inside his shell. Sigh of relief. He’s alive! I pick him up and see he’s not much larger than an avocado. So cute! I place him in the grassy area beside the road and feel very grateful I was able to save him from his imminent death by squashing.

Turtle #7

Once I placed the little guy on the side of the road to which he was headed, I got back in my car, repeated my steps and continued on my journey. I wasn’t on that windy hilly road for much longer and did not see another turtle, turkey, or bluebird for the rest of my road trip.

I did, however, realize I was at the wrong Dollar General store when my son-in-law called to see where I was located. I said, “I’m at the Dollar General store in Springfield.” He said, “I don’t see you. We’re at the Dollar General store in Springfield.” I surveyed my surroundings and informed him that, “I see a church, that says something-something church of…oh crap! I’m at the Dollar General store in Willisburg.” That’s a small town about 12 miles from Springfield. Shaking my head in disbelief (well, not really–I do this kind of thing quite often), I tell him I’ll meet them at the campus, not wanting them to wait on me.

After the graduation ceremony and a lovely dinner at a steak house, I headed back home. Once I got to the notorious turtle trail road, I wondered if I’d see any more of the crawling critters and stayed hyper-vigilant, just in case. I didn’t see any. I thought, well, turtles must not travel at night. Then, as I was marveling at that fact, a red fox darted across the road, fully illuminated by my headlights. Well, there’s that! Foxes do travel at night.

Yes, I need an “I stop for turtles” bumper sticker!


Book Club?

Today, via Facebook messenger, I received this photo of a magazine page from my wonderful niece, Brandy.  Thus ensued this epic niece/aunt conversation: 

Brandy:  I wonder how you get a book in the Good Housekeeping Book Club?  

Me (after careful and soulful thought):  Probably have to have sold 1,000s of copies, know (or have blown) a celeb, donated a vital organ to an orphan, and pledged your soul to a queen of darkness.

Brandy:  Hard to believe you’ve not done at least one of those things!

DISCLAIMER: Of course I am in no way accusing authors of books accepted into famous book clubs of having done such things!! I am merely painting a descriptive image of just how much difficult/uncomfortable work is required to publicize and promote your own book. It ain’t for sissies, I’ll tell you that much.

Failure: stepping stone to success

You’ve faced disappointments

Far too many to count

You want to give up

It’d be so much easier

You’ve hit brick wall after brick wall

You’ve got bruises on your soul

You see no way your dreams will come true

All that work…was it for nothing?

That’s when it’s time to trudge on

Dig your heels in deeper

No time to stop or slow down

You mustn’t give up now

Keep going!

You’ve got this!

You’re merely one failure closer to success!

Vonda Maxwell Newsome 3-23-2022

Cocoon. Struggle. Butterfly.

If you remove the middle, you kill the butterfly. And, so it is…with life.

Some struggles are necessary for our growth and learning, for developing personal strength and perseverance, as well as our independence and self-reliance. In other words, helping us to become functional adults.

A very good friend of mine inspired me to write this piece because she kept pestering me to listen to audiobooks instead of reading them. You know, like looking at and interpreting words on a page? I’d given myself a goal of reading 12 books in 2022, and so far I have read two. Well, more like 1.8 books since I skipped some sports stuff in the first one [my eyes glazed over and I started nodding]. It felt really good to finish the second book, reading every single word on each page. I’ve often envied avid readers who truly enjoy the physical act of reading books. I wish I’d inherited that trait from my father. I didn’t. But, maybe I’m a little closer now.

While listening to a book, especially when it’s narrated by the author, is great and entertaining, and frees up your hands to do other things (that whole multitasking thing and all), doing so at this time would rob me of meeting the challenge I set for myself. It would effectively kill the dream (goal) because I wouldn’t endure the struggle required for me to achieve the coveted avid reader status. So, I politely declined her urging. At first. She was not relenting. During our chat (debate?) I sent, “Cocoon. Struggle. Butterfly.” No response. Hmm…I’ll just give that a few minutes to sink in.

In the meantime, I went to take a shower (I shaved my legs and everything!). When I returned to my computer, I had this message waiting for me: “Sometimes that butterfly is a pain in the ass.” Well, I laughed my ass off after reading it, and responded, “Cause it won’t do what you want it to, what you think is best?” I can’t share what her response was, she can be so graphic! I still love her.

While it is very difficult to watch those we love and care for struggle, we have to be careful not to help them too much, essentially robbing them of their development and killing the butterfly. So, how do you know if you’re helping “too much,” you ask? Well, that’s not an easy answer. One clue could be that they run to you with every problem they encounter, seeking advice, guidance with their “Tell me what to do” pleas. They may be used to your removing their struggle(s) and are now dependent upon you to help see them through it, every time. They have no strength or coping skills of their own.

Then, there are those compulsive helpers, the ones who feel they must help others, at all costs, and that it is their duty to make sure their loved ones/friends do “the right thing,” or the “best thing,” as believed/felt by said helper. These helpers can be very pushy, overbearing, and, well, you get the picture. These types may also get very irritated when you don’t follow their advice and do exactly as they recommend. I believe that these helpers have some kind of history or experience that causes them to be an over-helper to others. Maybe some sort of trauma that has turned them into a more controlling person. I don’t know.

If you are a compulsive helper, and often feel frustrated when people don’t do what you suggest, I invite you to ask yourself why. What is it within yourself that is satisfied by people doing what you suggest they do? Is your aid truly helping them flourish, or is it hindering their growth and keeping them dependent on you? And, do you have a need to feel needed, for someone to depend on you?

Butterflies must go through the struggle of shedding the cocoon in order to fly.

I have photographic proof! Well, some anyway.

Writing and publishing a book has been quite an adventure, not to mention quite the learning experience. But, I did it. I plan to share details of that journey in my book’s sequel (title pending) which I am in the process of writing (roughly 50K words pounded out on my keyboard, thus far). Throughout this process, I have had this underlying fear that my stories wouldn’t be believed. I don’t know why, but I worried that readers would think I’d made it all up, that there’s no way such things really happened, in one person’s life. Probably just my inner mean girl talking again. That b—h needs to shut up! I promise you, my book is 100% nonfiction.

My niece, Brandy, recently finished reading my book Itchy Nipples and Anxiety: My Life is a Comedy of Perils and posted a lovely review of it on Goodreads! During an online chat, Brandy said the only thing she would change about the book would be to add pictures of my adventures. I had actually considered doing that as I was writing my book, but the daunting task of sorting through my 1,000’s (nay 100’s of 1,000’s) of pictures overwhelmed me so much I let go of the idea.

It got me thinking, though — visual proof would be fun to share. I mean, I have been quite the shutter-bug since I was a little girl, when Dad handed me his old Brownie camera.

So, I decided I’d share photos via this blog! I’ll be going through my book, marking pages where a photo would be appropriate or meaningful, and I’ll hunt for said photos and post them here, on this blog post.

If you’ve read, or are in the process of reading my book, I hope these photos will enhance your experience. Thank you for reading!

Keep checking back for newly added photographs, listed by chapter (this may take a while).

Here goes…!


Newlywed parents and their Superior Coach trailer in 1949
This was taken at an Avon awards banquet in the 1960s. See the pretty woman in the flowered dress? She’s my mother.
Mom’s painting
See that space between the row of bushes and the sidewalk? There used to be another bush there. Yep, we did that.
Me at my first full-time job: Second National Bank’s proof department.
My 18th birthday.
Basic training at Fort Jackson, SC
Me and my 22-month old first-born daughter when I was in AIT (job training).
Me and my youngest while stationed at Ft Sill, OK
Dad and Apple Joe
Dad was so happy to get his little brother in the boat! My girls are swimming in the background.
Mom and Apple Joe, so very cute!
At the ole hitchin’ post with our parents
My niece, Rachael’s perfect illustration of Donuts in a Blizzard!
Communing with Ducks
What the cluck was her problem?!
Parents’ 1949 cape cod
Tilly’s born-during-our-camping-trip kittens
Me and Mom at the Grand Canyon
Grandma, just as I remember her
Grandma in the chair she spun around in and beside the hutch where she kept Tootsie Pops.
I have both pieces in my home now.


Dad’s “banana” cake
Dad resting on Mom’s granite bench after visiting her grave
After my first Arthur Murray dance lesson with the awesomely fabulous Duncan!
Mom’s collection of “horns” for us to find and find again

CHAPTER 6 (No photos)

CHAPTER 7 (No photos)


My rendition of our high school
The painting that the art teacher had me tweak
This piece was my mother’s favorite of all my drawings

CHAPTER 9 (No photos)


First trip to NYC 2012

We made headlines!
Well, I had to…

Second trip to NYC 2018

The stuck bus (New Jersey)
When you get on the wrong subway train and can no longer see NYC!

Europe Trip 2019

Delta’s tasty dinner
The patchwork fields as we’re landing in Munich
“Nick” the cab driver who insisted he buy us “a cream.”
The hair-flipping French man
Photo-bombed in a Munich cuckoo clock/gift shop! LOL!
Aldi store (Austria)
Across from Aldi
Purchasing my “TC” relief at the Green Cross (my souvenir from Innsbruck Austria)
The fancy bathroom in Jeselo Italy with the “bah day.”
Our ever-elusive freedom as seen through the tiny palace window (Venice)
The crowded footbridge, Venice
The handsome one man show in Switzerland who gave Amber his “favorite” corkscrew
The 5-story house near our hotel
Aren’t these the guys from the Titanic movie?!
I real live mountain goat (taken during the tram ride up the Alps)
Our fabulous view of the Swiss Alps–complete whiteout! It was still amazing to be there.
The tram ride back down. The rain had finally stopped.
Heidelberg Germany with my first ever warm beer
Twinkle lights!
Our “Kosher French meal” wherein the meat was tuna
Well, at least it’s closer than “Barbara Newkle” (somewhere in Europe)
Our bus driver throughout Europe, “Mountain Bob”
Our speed-walking tour guide “Sven” (my Austrian son). His real name is Andy and he is the best!

…to be continued as I find more!

“The starry sky is the truest friend in life, when you first become acquainted; it is ever there, it gives ever peace, ever reminds you that your restlessness, your doubt, your pains are passing trivialities. The universe is and will remain unshaken. Our opinions, our struggles, or sufferings are not so important and unique, when all is said and done.” 
― Fridtjof Nansen