About me. I am a writer, a reader, a teacher, a photographer, a student of Life. I am a wife and mom, a devoted friend, a bridge over troubled water.

I have had a lot of jobs, worn my share of uniforms; soda jerk, sewing factory “call girl”, hand grenade fuse assembler, mortar shell packer, bakery dough handler, raisin washer.

Then there was teacher, document control coordinator, human resources manager, technical writer, wedding photographer, electronics distributor, caterer, hotel sales manager, teacher (again).

Those were the paying jobs.

There was even more satisfaction to come from the non-paying variety.

Volunteer coordinator, PTA officer, fund raiser, peer counselor, scout leader, welcome wagon organizer, cookbook author, classroom volunteer, soccer mom, etc.

I come from a very large family with a legacy of mental health issues, particularly depression.

I survived childhood trauma, resulting in depressive issues that were ignored or denied for decades.Foley

Sharing my life experience, writing about it here has been pure catharsis.

From Pennsylvania to Utah, Michigan, New York, Maryland, South Carolina, I have always lived near water.

Usually near a river, and not in a van, I take inspiration from a favorite Saturday Night Live character.

Matt Foley. Motivational Speaker.

Van by the River.





135 Responses to About

  1. Uncle Spike says:


    I was recently ‘told off’ by a blogger (not a follower I might add), who said my style of ‘welcome’ note was very much against blogging etiquette. Hmm, well I hope not to cause offence, but as you volunteered to become a follower of Uncle Spike’s Adventures, I just wanted to catch up and say “thank you, and that I appreciate your ‘follow’ as there are so many interesting and entertaining blogs out there.

    Blogging since June 2013, my aim is to deliver an eclectic offering of posts, from my ‘point n shoot’ attempts at basic photography, to the sharing of my travel adventures over the decades, as well as day to day happenings here on our farm in Turkey. Oh, plus a few observations, opinions and lighter-hearted stuff thrown in for good measure.

    I normally keep to a couple of posts a day, maybe 3-4 at weekends if I have something special to share. But if you are at a loose end one day, maybe you’ll enjoy trawling through some of my older stuff too. I have added plenty of categories to help in said digging process. That’s not me trying to be pushy or ‘spamming’, but just want you to know what I’m all about.

    Thanks again and hope you have a great day…


  2. So…blogging etiquette ? Who wrote the book on that one ? I must have missed it. You have a very creative and interesting blog. Ignore the criticism. Onward.

  3. Vanbytheriver, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts for some time now, and I’d like to nominate you for the One Lovely Blog Award. I’m not sure if you have an award-free zone site or you’re too busy writing to accept the award. I’m finding this is true for many bloggers. It does involve following acceptance rules, and I’d understand if you are unable to do so. Please have a look at the award write-up blog post Thank You!!!One Lovely Blog on 11/4 under Awards in the Menu, http//cerobinsonauthor.com. Thank you so much for visiting and following my blog.

  4. Thank you so much for the lovely nomination, Christine. Not ready to accept anything like this at the moment, it would not be fair to all the excellent bloggers out there who I do not know as well as I’d like. Most of my effort involves getting my own words out; having trouble finding time to take others in. I do enjoy your posts, and our comment exchanges. And I also believe I have found some great sites because of you, so thanks for that, as well. Congrats on your award, you do indeed have a Lovely Blog. ☺

  5. I certainly understand your thoughts. It does take time to do the acceptance work. And getting to know other bloggers sites is time consuming. Just know that you create excellent posts and I enjoy reading them. So that puts you in the excellent blogger category too! Thank you for the congrats and for letting me know you’re not ready yet for awards.

  6. mandy says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog so I could find my way to yours. I love your About page–you have many interesting and intriguing hats and I look forward to reading more. I love the photos on your blog–I grew up in the 50’s and the old black n’ whites take me back there!

  7. Van, I’m going to try again to nominate you for an award! This one is the Premio Dardos Award recognizing values in creative or original writing. There are no questions to answer or ask. The only requirement is to pass the award a long to some fellow bloggers. I’ve enjoyed your writing for some time now, and would love to have more people visit you site to enjoy it too. I’ll be writing a post in a few days and your name will be on the nomination list. Please think about it when you read the post. Thank you! Christine

  8. Van, here’s the link for the Premio Dardos Award. Hope you are considering it, now or in the future. It never expires! It’s yours to keep!

  9. Ellen Hawley says:

    I’ve had my share of jobs (assembler, janitor, cab driver, radio talk show host, candy bar squeezer, although I admit that wasn’t the official job description, editor….), but I’ve never assembled hand grenade fuses, packed mortar shells, or worked as a raisin washer. I’ve lived a more sheltered life than I thought.

  10. You left little mystery about yourself but there must be plenty not divulged. Your honesty is commendable. It is a please to meet you as I have now a better understanding of the person
    behind the wonderful posts I have been reading. enjoy life, Eddie

  11. Glad I found your blog. Good thoughts!

  12. Erika Kind says:

    Hi Van, I just nominated you for the Liebster Award. Please feel free to participate. If you do you can learn more here: https://erikakind.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/like-love-liebster/ 😊

  13. Outlier Babe says:

    I must assume the first time I visited was during one of my 2AM expeditions and I fell asleep right in the middle. For I see no Like, no comment. Came by again today to find out where on this planet you are located, timezone-wise, should we again be chattin’, which is when I went “I’ve been here before–this is that person with THAT background! Talk about unusual!

    My apologies, Van. How could I forget such an autobiography? At least I remembered I’d seen it before.
    I do not have a brain like Swiss cheese, for you must slice that in order to have the holes go all the way through. Mine mind is a sieve. (I would say strainer, but common usage would imply then that some productive filtering occurs.)

    Off to poke about here a bit.

  14. Silver Threading says:

    Hi, Van. I’ve asked you to take part in the 5 day – 5 photo challenge tomorrow on my scheduled post. I hope you will enjoy participating. I did. You tell great stories, so I know you will entertain us all. Thanks again for all the smiles your writing gives me. ❤

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  16. Hi there. I have mentioned you in this post http://gentlementalannie.com/2015/06/29/quote-a-day-for-three-days-challenge-my-victims-are-bum-bum-bum-buuuuuuuummmmmmm/
    It is a Quote a day for three Days Challenge. I understand if you are not feeling up to it. I had not read your most recent posts before I thought of putting your name on this early this morning.
    It is entirely up to you. I actually chose four people rather than three, with the assumption that someone would be too busy or otherwise unable to do this.
    I still have two days to go and I am thinking of a quote for tomorrow.
    Blessings to you,
    Annie ❤

  17. Van, may I call you van (by the river sounds so informal) I am delighted you chose to add my blog to your ever growing list of blogs to follow. I recognize what I have to offer will not amount to much ($0), but my idol (Matt Foley) would probably agree, that I’m not worthy. But, you have my undying thanks. Which means my appreciation will likely go on for some time. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…etc.

  18. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    Anyone that aspires to be Mat Foley is worth a follow in my book. I look forward to the chaos that will ensue!

  19. Hi very nice to meet you! Look forward to looking around and reading your story!

  20. Hello – Love your blog…such a variety of interesting topics. What a touching post about your daughter leaving for college. 🙂

    p.s. Look forward to trying one of your recipes!

  21. Erika Kind says:

    Hi Van, I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please feel free to participate 🙂

  22. joey says:

    I always have a small inner chuckle when I see your Gravatar. When we were moving back home, from Georgia, from the end of my husband’s time in service, I all the time joked that he had to find a job relatively quickly, or we’d all be livin in a van down by the river! A red Kia minivan at that! I always preferred when people understood me, that it was a joke, that it was a skit, but apparently the entire nation doesn’t watch SNL religiously.
    Thanks for the follow 🙂

    • We had a VW van back in the day, and I had the required “Mom van” until my kids and their friends got too big. ☺ I feel like I was following you for a while earlier, we frequent many of the same blogs..not sure how we got lost in the shuffle…glad to be back. Thanks, Joey. ❤️

  23. I’m glad I came across your blog.. You have a lovely blog.

  24. I actually do live in a van. Today it happens to be by a river, now that the floods have receded.

    What an interesting curriculum vitae you have! I hope you have or will write a story about each of your life chapters.

    • I have addressed lots of these, Laura, in bits and pieces on this blog. I sometimes feel like I’ve only scratched the surface…but…I have a few years behind me.☺ Thanks for the visit. Sorry about the floods…west coast or Mississippi River area ?

      • Oh, thank heaven, not in any of those horrible flooded areas! I am currently in Western North Carolina, where it was 70 a few days ago and now in the teens. But as fortune would have it, my van had some problems and I’ve had to hang around here for a while. Otherwise I would have headed West and run right into those tornados and floods. Everything happens for a reason. But yes, the small river where I am camped did flood, but I was on high ground.

  25. gingerfunk78 says:

    I was actually drawn to your blog because I am a huge chris farley fan. I picked up on the van by the river reference immediately and had to know more about you. Look forward to reading your blog. 😊

  26. coachjerry says:

    Thanks for reading my “Making Sense of Life” post and several others. I’m so glad you liked them. I hope you’ll stop by often and offer your viewpoints. I look forward to seeing them.

  27. jennymarie4 says:

    Hi, it’s nice to meet you! I found your blog listed on A Momma’s View. We have some things in common…. being a mom, a writer, photographer, and deal with mental health issues. Mine is anxiety and panic attacks. Take care, Jenny

  28. I’m so happy to have come across your wonderful blog. I checked out some of your posts and I am very impressed with. I can’t wait to see more of your work.

  29. Laura says:

    Hey…I hope being Award Free means you don’t mind being nominated! I’ve enjoyed your work and really wanted to link your blog in.

    If you’d like to read about it you can find it at https://riddlefromthemiddle.com/2016/01/31/versatile-blogger-award-two/. This my way of saying I love your work; there is no obligation.

  30. spearfruit says:

    Van, wonderful to read about you. lynz real cooking sent me over. A wonderful blog you have here – hope your day is a happy one! 🙂

  31. Glad to have found your lovely blog 🙂

  32. Van, nice to meet and read you 🙂 Thanks for finding my blog through Hugh and I look forward to more of your posts as well!

  33. Hello Van and thank you so much for making yourself known with commenting upon my post.. I appreciate that.. 🙂
    Loved reading about you, and we have a little in common.. I was a sewing machinist in a factory for many many years.. that climbed up through the ranks over 28 yrs, to then change career paths into Support Work.. 🙂
    Thank you for following I hope we get to know each other along our journey together
    Blessings Sue ❤

    • Thanks so much, Sue. Your post “The Universe Listens” triggered so many responses in me. I’ll pursue a few examples from my own life in future posts. Thanks for the inspiration. And I surely look forward to sharing thoughts on your exceptional blog. 💕

  34. Hi there, it’s a pleasure to meet you!! I wanted to stop by to thank you for visiting my blog and I wanted to return the favor. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Steph

  35. Abbie says:

    I just found your blog and HAD to investigate b/c of the Matt Foley reference. Pleased to meet you.

  36. Wow! That’s a lot of varying careers. My dream job is to be a backup singer! 😃

  37. Love your bio! I read one of the previous posts about blogging etiquette…er, ok. I figure our About pages should be about us and written by us. What say you?

  38. Dehan Taylor says:

    Hi Van, Just dropping by to say hello…your house is so warm and cozy so I will definitely be visiting you often. Have a splendid day!

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  41. Soul Gifts says:

    Hi Van, I’ve been meaning to come to your place for a while, first to say thanks for the follow, and second to have a poke around yours. I’ve trolled through the comments here. Like others, I was taken aback about by the blogging etiquette thing. Surely being rude to someone about their blog is not in keeping with any kind of etiquette ?!

  42. Lovely to find your blog (thanks for the like that led me to it!), and I love your ‘Welcome note’! I also love, love, love, Chris Farley and his motivational speaking, so…. great to meet you! Best wishes in all your jobs/roles/musings.

  43. vinnieh says:

    I’m so happy I discovered your blog.

  44. You are a woman with many hats. You’ve proven woman wear many hats. I’m sure if all the things you do and have done had a hat to represent them, you could start a hat section in any boutique. Many are wearing hats now that could do the same. Thanks for sharing about yourself. I appreciate you returning the visit today.

  45. You have an absolutely fantastic blog. I’m looking forward to following your posts 🙂

  46. Hello and welcome! Thanks for hitting the follow for Pensitivity101, Glad to have you aboard.
    Looks like we have some things in common, though I certainy haven’t had such a variety of jobs as you! Wow, That is indeed some list! Love to hear your comments on views. Like you, I write a lot about things on my mind in my blog as I really find it helps.

  47. I haven’t stopped by in a while…was out of the country for 5 weeks…anyway, thought I’d say Hi! ~Sherry

  48. M. L. Kappa says:

    Hi, lovely blog you have here! Pleased to meet you, Marina

  49. awtytravels says:

    Glad I found your blog, I really enjoyed reading about your grandma in “the first seven years”. Loved the details – she arrived with more than $35 – and I was really saddened to read about her passing away. She sounded like the cornerstone of the tribe, in a sense.


  50. joey says:

    Well at this point I hope you’re just having a lovely fall break.

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  53. Just checking in as I haven’t seen anything from you for a while. Hope all is OK with you and yours.

  54. prior.. says:

    Hi van – just thinking of you this well – hope all Is well and hope your summer 2018 is going well.
    And sending some good thoughts your way ✌️☀️

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