Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

Month: January 2018

An Unexpected Surprise

One would expect to travel from the St. Louis area to Phoenix in January for nicer weather, right? Last week I had visions of wearing shorts and sitting by the pool with a good book while heat warmed my sun-block-slathered legs. One day worked out just the way I’d hoped. The others, not so much. The air temperatures were chillier than they were back home.

Yet Mother Nature’s little joke didn’t faze me. I still had a wonderful time hanging out with my family. One of the highlights of the trip came when we abandoned a cold, windy, rainy day to attend the Barrett Jackson auction (a place where people come to shop for cars when they have more money than the United States Mint). While standing in the midst of a thick crowd, there were shouts of “Move to the side. Coming through”, pushing people apart in a similar fashion to Moses parting the Red Sea. But it wasn’t a fancy automobile coming through. It was someone I recognized at once.

Guess who?

Car aficionado Jay Leno had arrived to participate in a charity auction benefiting the George W. Bush Center Military Service Initiative, which helps transition veterans to civilian life. Mr. Leno had so many bodyguards and local Scottsdale police surrounding him, getting anywhere near was impossible. Thus the blurry and not so well-posed photo.

We decided it would be fun to watch the car (a 2018 Corvette Carbon Fiber 65 Edition – whatever that means) be auctioned, and muscled our way into the amphitheater along with about fifty billion other people.

The bidding started, but after only a couple of seconds, stopped. Jay Leno took the microphone and announced a guest who’d arrived to participate in the auction. Then he introduced former President George W. Bush, who gave a short speech about how the funds would benefit veterans. Mr. Bush then offered to play a round of golf in Texas with the bid winner. Both he and Jay Leno autographed the car, because who wouldn’t want to own an autographed car?

The mood swiftly became electric, with the crowd on their feet shouting and cheering while bid amounts grew higher and higher. After several minutes of watching the numbers climb, a gavel pounded. The car sold for 1.4 million dollars. A fun and fascinating experience.

Big bucks bonanza buy.

The moral to this story? Coming in out of a miserably cold rain can provide more than the obvious benefit. Something fun and unexpected can happen to change the day, and transform a mood.

On our drive from the auction area, the rain stopped and the clouds were starting to clear. The scenery inspired me to snap this shot of a lovely Scottsdale sunset from the car. No, I wasn’t driving.

Much prettier in person, I assure you.

The very next morning we were on a flight back to Missouri. There, we found bright warm sun and the cozy feeling that can only come from returning home.  My house! My bed! My dog and cat! (They were only slightly miffed about our absence.)

What about you? Has a getaway ever brought an unexpected surprise?


Check out the Easy Peasy Recipe tab for something new to help beat the winter blues. Warm and tasty Broccoli Cheese Soup.


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What Camp are You In?

HAPPY 2018!

That sounds a little weird, doesn’t it? At the beginning of each new year it takes me at least a month before I remember to write the correct date on a check. No doubt anyone who receives my check wishes I’d join the rest of the modern world and pay electronically. However, dinosaurs move slowly, so people will simply have to wait until I’m brave enough to do all my banking on line.

It’s a new year! (photo credit to

As you can probably surmise, I’m more on board with tradition than with change, so I join the rest of the crowd to write down New Year’s resolutions. For the last few years, I’ve been quite nonspecific. For a while my yearly mantra was simply “Do Better”. In 2017, I went even shorter, selecting a single word – “Persevere”.  Although these tactics were meant to encourage me, on December 31, I found I had no idea whether I’d achieved anything or not.


This year I’ve decided to do things differently and use some of the techniques required back in the days when I wrote grants. This notion refreshed my memory on the SMART philosophy. SMART is an acronym developed by George T. Doran in 1981, describing how to effectively set goals and objectives. (For more on the topic, click HERE)  In a nutshell, here’s how to use the SMART method:

S – Specific (Don’t be vague with objectives)

M – Measurable (How will I measure success?)

A – Achievable (Chances are I will never become a Supreme Court judge)

R – Relevant (Is the goal meaningful for me?)

T – Timely (Setting a time limit helps eliminate procrastination)

Another one of my objectives. Read at least two books a month. (Photo credit Pixabay)


With SMART in mind, I put together my list. First, I set one general, overall goal to make better choices in various areas of my life. A bit vague, right?

To fix that nagging little problem, I set nine objectives to help me reach my main goal that are specific and measurable. Here’s one to show what I mean: Stick to my written work schedule at least three days per week (specific and measurable). Here’s another: Write for at least 15 minutes every day (specific and measurable).

Once my objectives were written, I had fun creating an Excel spreadsheet so I can track what I do each day. I’m just geeky enough to love making little check marks beside the objectives I accomplish. And when I review my plan, I’ll know for sure whether or not I made my target. If I didn’t hit an objective, I’ll review to decide if it’s achievable. If not, I’ll revise.

Everyone needs a fun objective. Mine is to laugh out loud at least once each day. (Photo Pixabay)

So there you have it. My game plan for the new year. Time will tell if using the SMART strategy will make a difference. I’ll be reporting on my findings as I go, since I’m such a scientific person (snort).

What camp are you in? Did you set resolutions or goals for the new year? If so, how will you measure success?


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