How real are online friendships? – Guest Post by Jemima Pett…

A must-read with helpful links. Our virtual lives are increasingly becoming a big part of who we are and shouldn’t be taken lightly or dismissed.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

How real are online friendships? How do you handle the inevitable?

If you don’t have a companion animal, and avoid all those Facebook memes of cuddly puppies, cute kittens and ridiculous antics of parrots, you may have flicked over some of TSRA”s guest posts recently.

What you may not realise is that those pets bring people together too.

Friends I haven’t met

Of course, any shared hobby brings like-minded people together. The power of Facebook and other social media sites is that people who like the same things—whether actual people, or hobbies, music, animals or books—find each other. And just as regulars feel they ‘know’ the Story Reading Ape, so we get to ‘know’ people we interact with on Facebook, Like on pages, or visit on blogs.

Many of my writing ‘friends’ I have never met, and I’m never likely to meet, in truth. Some of them I know by…

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Are you a ‘writer in the closet’?

Come out of the closet! LOL! 😉

The Cat's Write

You’re watching your friend closely as surprise flirts across their features, the expression sinking into their eyes and the lines around their mouth.

‘You’re writing a book? Far out, I had no idea you were even a writer!’

You smile tentatively back, feeling naked under their blazing gaze. ‘Well you see… I’ve always been a writer, I’ve just never told anyone before. I mean, some of myvery closefamily know, but even they don’t know how serious I am about it all.’

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Thank You!

Thank you

Many, many thanks to my WordPress family of authors and bloggers who brought some serious “noise” yesterday for the release of Free, a Novella.

This story was a simple online-short… okay, it was supposed to be. But who knew Lennie Porter, super-mom, super-daughter, and uber-businesswoman had so many issues?

I didn’t.

But I gave her free reign and followed along.

Then people started reading it…

…and I was like, “Uh oh!”

Lennie, the introvert, had an audience.

The short story plodded along for months, navigating through technical difficulties, family drama, and health misadventures (hers and mine.)

When new elements and new characters entered the story line, I decided to publish the online-read as a novella, but since it wasn’t a “new” story, I also decided to forego the bells and whistles of preorder/blogtour/blah, blah, blah, and opted for a quiet release.

Shut the front door!!!

My WordPress family and Twitterbuds (I just made that up) LIKED, blogged, reblogged, Tweeted and Re-Tweeted, and as my daddy would say, “Made a whole buncha’ noise!”… and I felt like a rock star! WOOT! It’s not about the sales and list rankings… but about the people who don’t need to think twice about reaching to support.

Thanks to you all, this little story had a memorable release day!

Much love to you all!


Free a Novella cover

“Free, a Novella”

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~ From the Table to the Grave ~

Image from Google.
Image from Google.

I’m from a family that includes practitioners of most current diet trends – vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, paleo, and of course, the I’ll-eat-anything-that’s-not-nailed-down crowd. Our family dinners are a sight to behold. We have to explain to guests why there are three different pans of lasagna.

The meat eaters want meat in their lasagna – end of story.

The vegetarians and vegans will not share because the vegans want rice noodles…and artificial cheese. The vegetarians aren’t down for the fake cheese.

The raw vegans are in the corner pointing and laughing…and eating oatmeal with raw-vocado toast.

The paleo crowd ate at home.

Despite the different tastes, meals are still prepared with the healthiest choices in mind. (Except when my youngest sister, Melissa, a vegetarian, and the Butter Queen of East Tucson, gets in a mood.)

My mister is a big meat-eater. Our kids call him ‘King Carnivore, the Man of Meat.’ Seriously. My siblings called our house the ‘House of Meat’ and would always ask if dinner was meat with a side of meat.

Welcome to my life.

After years of hard to control hypertension, the mister’s kidneys failed last spring. I’ve always been a picky shopper, but now that he’s a renal patient with dialysis three times a week, I’ve gotten even more selective on the foods I buy, trying to maintain the balance of high protein, low sodium, and low phosphorus.

It ain’t easy. There are so many things he’s ‘encouraged’ to avoid – chocolate, cheese, yogurt, milk, beans, nuts, pancakes, biscuits, oranges, bananas – the list goes on and is incredibly long.

I try to shop and cook according to his dietary limitations, but please tell me why…WHY did the nutritionist at the dialysis center say he could eat all the lean meats he wanted?

Trips to the supermarket just turned into “Whatever Dennis Wants Day.”


To make my life BEARABLE, I search for articles enforcing (and validating) the meals I prepare so he won’t whine.

I did a double take when I came across the article below from In these times of evil overlords Monsanto and Bayer, all things GMO-related, morbid obesity, and a steady yearly increase in the number of gastrointestinal ailments affecting the population, it’s a real eye-opener.

Look in any weekly sales ad from your local supermarket and you’re bound to see “grain-fed” somewhere near the meat items. Watch television long enough, there will be a commercial where you’ll hear the words “grain-fed.”

This is supposed to be a good thing, right?. Livestock and fish eating the same healthy things we do.

Only…not so much.

Essentially, the article says grain-fed is not the best way to raise livestock, it’s the cheapest. It’s also subsidized. So much so, the smaller farmers raising grass-fed only livestock cannot compete.

We’re inundated with meat that is good for business, but bad for the independent farmer, bad for the environment and not the healthiest option for us.

Reading the article triggered a memory, and not a good one.

When I first moved to California in the early 80s, I lived with an aunt and uncle on their small ranch in Perris, about sixty-five miles from Los Angeles. After retiring from their municipal jobs in LA, they wanted to “go back to the old ways”, so they bought some land and had a few head of every animal imaginable. This included about three dozen pigs. (And quails, which I had never seen before. They’re noisy.)

Uncle Barney fed his livestock early every morning and could be at the stables for hours. One morning, though, I saw him rushing back to the house after only being gone a few minutes. Without a word, he ran into the den and called his brother – another small ranch owner who lived nearby. Minutes later, Uncle Floyd shows up…with Mario, one of the local vets. They all rush back down to the stables.

Here’s where it gets gross.

Dying to know the problem, Aunt Gena grabs my hand and says, “Let’s go see what’s going on!”

I declined. Except for the horses, I didn’t do the farm-life thing. There’s a story behind that…for another time.

However, I find out later the pigs were being fed dry shrimp coated in meal flour and wheat flour. Four of the sows had recently had litters. This dry feed evidently made the pigs blood-thirsty and ALL the pigs, mothers included, ate the piglets.

Told you it was gross. And that’s just one of the reasons I do not eat pork.

So now. The cupboards are bare at the House of Meat and it’s time to shop for King Carnivore. But the article below in blaring inside my brain. What do I do?

There are not a lot of options. Better food choices is a start, but it isn’t cheap. My sisters do not buy meat and spend nearly as much on groceries as I do because of the cost of fresh produce and juices, especially if they are organic.

Choosing the right store can make a big difference.

We live in an area where all the major grocery chains are well represented, but not everyone is that fortunate. I know people who choose to travel outside of their area in search of healthier food choices. Not everyone can do that and are left with the less than healthy items on the shelves at the corner store.

Read the article and make a plan. If you don’t mind grain fed meat and all that comes with it, you’re all set. But, if you do, make better choices. Select the grass-fed beef over the grain-fed chicken. Most days, they cost the same anyway. ASK the store for grass-fed meat. Read the back of the flash frozen fish package. If it came from CHINA, leave it there and head over to the fresh fish counter. Choose the produce grown locally. Substitute one or two meals a week with vegetarian or vegan entrees. It won’t kill you…I promise. But not doing something proactive about the foods you eat? Do you want to take that chance?

Grass-fed vs. Grain-fed



Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grass-fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you’ll lose about six pounds a year. If all Americans *(who eat meat) switched to grass-fed meat, our national epidemic of obesity might diminish.

Grass-fed meat is better for human health than grain-fed meat in ten different ways, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date. The 2009 study was a joint effort between the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. Compared with grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef was:

  1. Lower in total fat
  2. Higher in beta-carotene
  3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  6. Higher in total omega-3s
  7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease

“Cattle (like sheep, deer, and other grazing animals) are endowed with the ability to convert grasses, which we humans cannot digest, into flesh that we are able to digest. They can do this because unlike humans, who possess only one stomach, they are ruminants, which is to say that they possess a rumen, a 45 or so gallon fermentation tank in which resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats.

In today’s feedlots, however, cows fed corn and other grains are eating food that humans can eat, and they are quite inefficiently converting it into meat.  Since it takes anywhere from 7 to 16 pounds of grain to make a pound of feedlot beef, we actually get far less food out than we put in.  It’s a protein factory in reverse.

How has a system that is so wasteful come to be?  Feedlots and other CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) are not the inevitable product of agricultural progress, nor are they the result of market forces.  They are instead the result of public policies that massively favor large-scale feedlots to the detriment of family farms.

From 1997 to 2005, for example, taxpayer-subsidized grain prices saved feedlots and other CAFOs about $35 billion.  This subsidy is so large that it reduced the price CAFOs pay for animal feed to a tiny fraction of what it would otherwise have been.  Cattle operations that raise animals exclusively on pasture land, however, derive no benefit from the subsidy.

Under current farm policies, switching a cow from grass to corn makes economic sense, but it is still profoundly disturbing to the animal’s digestive system.  It can actually kill a steer if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics.

According to David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture and energy, the corn we feed our feedlot cattle accounts for a staggering amount of fossil fuel energy. Growing the corn used to feed livestock takes vast quantities of chemical fertilizer, which in turn takes vast quantities of oil. Because of this dependence on petroleum, Pimentel says, a typical steer will in effect consume 284 gallons of oil in his lifetime.” The Food Revolution NetworkThe Truth about Grassfed Beef, 12-19-2012.

(Text bolded by blogger for emphasis.)



His Dream…Our Dream is Not Dead

Martin Luther King Memorial
                                 Martin Luther King Memorial – © Rachel Cooper


On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream of fairness, equality, and justice for all. It was no small vision, but it was simple – for us all to be treated the same.

We’ve been conditioned to believe Dr. King’s dream is a monumental undertaking. We believe it takes electing the right people to office and enacting the right laws.

It’s not now, nor has it ever been that complicated.

At its heart, Dr. King’s dream came from the heart. Fairness. Justice. Equality. Respect. Human Dignity. These are not impossible goals. Some realize them every day.  But many do not because of the color of their skin, where they were born, their gender, whom they chose to love, or how they choose to worship. Somehow, these things make people unworthy and undeserving. These things are used against them to marginalize them and steal their voice. And then we wait…for the right politicians, the right laws, or the right court rulings to tell us this treatment is wrong.

But we already knew that.

Fifty-four years later, we’re still waiting for someone to tell us what is right. We’re waiting for someone to tell us what we already know.

Elected officials and their laws, courts, and special interests are obstacles, not barriers. How do you handle an obstacle? Move it, navigate around it, or just say, “to hell with it”, and go right through it.

Many lament and mourn the end of Dr. King’s dream and the death of his vision.

But it is not dead. Not as long as we refuse to be silenced. Not as long as we demand accountability. Not as long as we refuse to allow obstacles to become barriers.

Not as long as it lives in our hearts.


“…This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”


“…Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream, deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”


Excerpts from “I Have A Dream”, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Our Favorite Christmas Toys #ThrowbackThursday

Throwback Thursday banner

Christmas Day, the neighborhood children were up and down the street with their new bikes, skateboards…and drones.

Last week, a lady at Albertsons impatiently waited in line at the checkout – anxious to get home and load seventeen apps on her thirteen-year old’s new laptop.

Yesterday, a neighbor joked about her husband’s anger at not being able to upgrade his phone…because she had purchased a new iPhone for their fifteen-year-old.

I won’t speak on the cost and extravagance of gifts for the young ones, or the near-obsession some parents seem to have with providing the “best” for their children…at any age. I won’t even mention the signs of the times and advancements in basic technology.

What I will say is…it’s Throwback Thursday, and let’s look at the Christmas gifts that made us jump and down!


Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots – my brothers all received these at different ages during different Christmases…and they were always pilfered by my sisters and me!

Rock'em Sock'em Robots

Operation – everyone’s favorite, and one of the few gifts which required batteries.


Bowling Pins – Yep – bowling pins! Our favorite game was “Bowling for Chores!”

Bowling Pins

Easy Bake Oven – With six girls in the family, this one was on repeat A LOT! NOTE: This is one of the first oven models. A generation later, a niece received one…and it looked like a real microwave!

Easy-Bake Oven

Silly Putty, Old Maid Card Game, Pick-Up Sticks – Simply the best stocking stuffers on the planet. Pretty sure I played Old Maid every Christmas morning for a decade!

Mood Rings – OMG! How cool were these?!? Except for the year the ring I received stayed black all the time. I thought it was defective. My mom told me I just needed to lighten up. Decades later, I realize I was Goth long before it was a “thing”.

Mood Ring

Slinky – If only we had known beforehand, we would have purchased stock! I think fifty would be a conservative guess of the number of Slinkys that passed through our home.


Highway Truck (and various cars, construction equipment, race tracks and train sets) – Again, items that were received by my brothers, but were always being played with by a girl!


Concentration, Trouble, and Battleship – Always played in teams, with different factions and alliances formed by my siblings, i.e. boys vs girls, older vs younger, cool vs uncool. (Yeah, we went there.)

Etch-A-Sketch and Spirograph – YES! These were two of the gifts that could/would be received by more than one child on any given Christmas – and we loved it! There were endless challenges/matches of artistic ability. I once drew da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” on my Etch-A-Sketch…except it looked more like Weezy from “The Jeffersons.” I didn’t win.

Twister – the ULTIMATE gift, because OUR PARENTS would play with us! Seeing our stiff, six-foot-four father attempting right-foot green and left-hand red, falling, swearing, and calling an end to the game would have us laughing for days…until the next game!


Of course, there was also always, new pajamas, underwear, a new winter coat, books, music, and those wretched matching outfits our mother felt compelled to buy my sister and me. No, we’re not twins.

What stands out the most about the majority of these toys is we had to be ACTIVELY involved. While some could be played alone, the fun was in playing with or competing against another person. (Sibling rivalry can be brutal!) While playing games or with toys, we learned cognitive, motor, and social skills. We learned diplomacy, mediation, and the advantages (and disadvantages) of (sibling) seniority. We learned respect for others and their property. We learned to share. And, we learned our parents held us accountable and to a standard of behavior. All this with Christmas gifts! With nine children in the family, just think about all the birthdays and other gift-giving occasions where these things came into play.

Younger generations may enjoy the benefits of technology with their drones and multi-app devices, but where’s the fun in those?

NaNoWriMo – Organized Yet?


Fifteen days until NaNoWrimo – organized YET?

Pens/pencils, pads, journals, spiral notebooks, markers, post-it notes, paper clips, staples, stapler, tape, stickers, and calendar!

Oh, and what program are you typing in this year? WORD, Quoll, Novlr, Scrivener? Set it up, set it, up, set it up! There is nothing worse than saving a file…then losing it! Just like that, you have forgotten the file name and your ‘special shorthand abbreviation’, and no amount of searching your hard drive is helping. It’s gone forever.  I’ve worked between two laptops and a tablet, and I will see Bigfoot before I see some of my files again. Get your file folders labeled!

Now that I’m Scrivener ‘proficient’, I’m all about scene color coding. (Please notice, I did not say ‘expert’! Do not ask me questions!)

I’ve used Quoll, and it’s a sturdy little program. Doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Scrivener, but it gets the job done.

Anyone who works solely in WORD, may I visit your planet? I absolutely adore Microsoft Word, except when it comes to writing a manuscript!

No matter what program you’re using, paper and pen is a must! You’ll want to make changes, alterations, and substitutions along the way. Don’t do it – it will interrupt your word flow and slow you down. Now is not the time for editing. However, in thirty days when your brain is mush, you will not remember the big scene change, or mega plot twist. Take five seconds, write it down, and get back to your story!

I’ve done my prep. Fleshed out characters, tried to tighten up the plot, and have worked up my scene list to seventeen scenes.

Am I ready?


Why not?

Still don’t know if my project is a dark comedy, romantic suspense, or women’s fiction. My characters are all acting pretty shady, and as I look over my scene list…this thing could go in several directions. I just won’t know until November 1st.

Have you announced your book yet on Add me as a buddy – ‘Feleeza’

I’ll be back!

NaNoWriMo – Ready or Not? #MondayBlog


Twenty-two days and counting until NaNoWriMo begins. Are you anywhere near ready?

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. The problem is participants try to write 50,000 perfect words.

Not going to happen.

You have all the time in the world AFTER November 30th to pull out the dictionary and the thesaurus, edit, and clean up your story.  That’s the “work” part of creating your book. NaNoWriMo is about the fun part – writing it!

But regardless of whether you’re a plotter – with every detail meticulously calculated; or a pantser – you have a guy, a girl, and a dream; you need to have plan…a written plan. As a diehard pantser, I learned in 2014 that even if you write fairly well by the seat-of-your-pants, you STILL need to prep. You can have the story line totally completed in your head, and still fall short. Getting hung up on ONE plot point can slow you down, or…lead you to quit.

Planning ahead for NaNoWriMo last year not only helped me to win the thirty-day challenge, but also to write freely, no writer’s block anywhere in sight. My stories are character-driven, so after I had a talk with the voices in my head and completed an outline and scene list, on November 1st, I just let them go!

Prepping can look like different things to different writers. Some have multi-colored spreadsheets, using a special color for each character, along with color coordinated Post-it Notes and Sharpies.

I’m not on that team.

However, as a Scrivener user, I do color code my scenes simply because, like many writers, I do not write chronologically. Color coding helps ME to maintain order in my writing. In theory, anyway.

But preparing to write your story can be as basic as having;

  • A logline –  a single sentence (sometimes two) that answers the basic question “what is your story about?”,
  • A Tagline – a catchphrase that sums up the theme of your story, and makes it memorable. To boldly go where no man has gone before is permanently etched in all of our minds, thanks to Star Trek.,
  • An outline or chapter outline – basic plot points of your story. These are the things that MUST happen in order for your story to progress and reach its resolution.

Your outline can be as detailed as you like, but trust me – the more details you include, the easier your writing will flow. It will not be the ‘big’ things that stump you because you’ve already thought about those and done your research. But what about the ‘little things? Did you describe lead characters? Are they employed? What is their occupation? If you mentioned their occupation, is the job description correct? Are there gaps in your timeline? Do all your characters have a name? Is your story setting real or fictitious? Unless you’re writing paranormal or fantasy where you get to do the world building, not knowing the details beforehand can…and will induce mini anxiety attacks that will morph into full-blown hysteria.

You don’t need the stress. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun, so get your details down on paper…now.

You have twenty-two days.



A Cricket Gave Me Writer’s Block!

Mr Cricket
Not an actual cricket, but an artist’s (ME!) representation. I couldn’t snap a photo because I left my cell on the desk, next to the wall…where the cricket was.

2:40 AM, sitting here writing, minding my OWN business and what “appears” next to me on the wall? A cricket the size of Phoenix! Why are bugs so big in Arizona? Had it been your standard little Michigan-size cricket – no problem! Several pairs of shoes happen to be under my desk. (Don’t judge me.)

But no such luck. This cricket was large enough to register for kindergarten. It heard me gasp, and turned its head to give me a look of disdain.

Oh, really Mr. Cricket? Fine!

Time to wake the mister, who looked at me and jumped out of bed. I may or may not have been mildly hysterical.

Mister: What? What’s wrong, Fle??
Me: *Pointing* In there!!!
Mister: WHAT?
Me: *Still pointing* ON THE WALL!!!

He walks into the room…right up to wall.

Mister: Oh. It’s a cricket. *Looks at ME* How did he get in here?
Me: I don’t know, Dennis…he caught an Uber over for coffee? KILL IT!

Now, you would think after nearly thirty-three years of marriage, I’d know better and kill bugs on my own, but apparently I never learn. Because true to form, Mr. Humanitarian goes ALL THE WAY TO THE KITCHEN to get a bowl and lid. (Because the cricket will jump. *Eye roll*)

He returns, passing me in the hallway…because that’s where I was safe…and proceeds with his plan of ‘catch and release’, and, OF COURSE, the cricket jumps away! I can see it from my strategic vantage point of twenty-five feet away. And, of course, Mr. Cricket jumps BEHIND the desk.

Me: Oh, great! Why didn’t you just smash it?
Mister: Calm down! You could have smashed it too and I’d still be asleep.
Me: Nope.

He’s peering behind the desk like he’s sightseeing. Ugh!

Me: Now you have to kill it!

Without waiting for the snarky comment I know is coming, this time, I go to the kitchen…for the mega-sized bottle of Home Defense, and take it to him. (I was helpful despite my trauma.)

The mister proceeds to spray AROUND the desk like he’s building a force field. Not a bad idea for spiders, but it’s a cricket. They jump. I witnessed it.

Me: Why are you spraying there? Spray BEHIND the desk!
Mister: Do you wanna do it?
Me: Nope.

After soaking the cricket (and the carpet) with enough spray for Michael Phelps to swim through and win yet another gold medal, the mister pronounces the cricket dead.

My spidey-senses may not be as sharp for crickets, but I didn’t feel the calm that comes with bug-death. (However, I was feeling the dizziness that comes from inhaling excessive bug spray fumes.) I walked over to the desk and moved the bulletin board, and there it was! Mr. Cricket trying to schlep away from the scene! Despite the fact the mister was standing right next to me, I felt the need to scream out, “THERE IT IS!!!” Giving me a side-eye glance, the mister started to use the spray, but stopped and instead grabbed one of my black sandals – the cute ones with the crystals across the bridge – and smashed the cricket.

Grabbing the bottle of bug spray, the mister is heading for the door, actually leaving me with a smashed cricket on the floor, and bug slime on my cute black sandals with the crystals across the bridge. I grab a tissue and hold it out to him, and after tossing me ANOTHER side-eye glance (that’s two – I’m keeping count) he picks up the evil, but dead cricket.

But then…THEN…he tries to toss the tissue holding the dead cricket carcass into MY trashcan!!! Dude! Seriously? Did you just meet me? So not happening! With a huff of disgust, he goes to the kitchen to dispose of that…thing. I hear him putting things away while I do a quick reconnaissance to make sure there wasn’t a weekly cricket meeting or cricket family reunion happening, and other vermin are lurking about.

Calmly, (finally) I sit down again and realize I have no clue what I’m supposed to be writing about. There was a scene…a confrontation…many, many words were said…someone was really angry. Geeze, just like that, Mr. Cricket has wiped the scene I was eager to write from my mind. Now I must browse Pinterest and drink large amounts of coffee until the scene plays out in my mind again. Damn cricket!

The mister passes by on his way back to bed, I throw out a cheerful, “Thank you! Good night!” He mumbles something unintelligible under his breath.

Me: Remember, the vow’s said ‘for better or worse’, and there’s nothing worse than bugs!

Mister: Yes, there is. A wife with an irrational fear of bugs!

Irrational? REALLY? The vegetable in today’s dinner just got switched from the corn he loves…to the broccoli he loathes.

How’s that for irrational?


Memorial Day – Remembrance and Gratitude


While the origins of Memorial Day continue to be mired in controversy and folklore, and despite a presidential proclamation fifty years ago recognizing a certain U.S. as the ‘birthplace’ of Memorial Day, more than two dozen U.S. cities still claim to be the source of the holiday, the intent of the day remains the same – to honor the war dead, the men and women who gave their lives in service to this country.

Many lose sight of that sometimes, especially if they have no direct connection to the military, i.e. related to, married to, or knows someone in the military, active or inactive. For those people, if they’re fortunate, it’s a day off, giving them a three-day weekend to enjoy.

But for some of us, it’s a time of remembrance, reflection and gratitude. Wreathes and flowers will be left on grave sites, photo albums will be shared and stories told…once again, and younger family members will hear about the family hero they never had the chance to meet.

Presidential administrations, politicians…and their pundits, will come and go, but what stands the test of time are the rights and freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country. Some may look to, and credit the ‘founding fathers’, but nothing in the Constitution was agreed upon with a handshake. Battles were fought, lives were lost. Those who met the enemy on the battlefield were not there for political favor or financial gain. They fought for their way of life and the right to keep it. With this country’s history, brother may have very well found himself facing off against his brother.

These beliefs are strong and they are what lead many to answer the call. No one enlists in the military because of their political affiliation, their stance on reproductive rights, or their religious beliefs. They take the oath to uphold the Constitution and defend this country from enemies, foreign and domestic, to ensure that the right to choose, or not choose, these things, and so many more remain in place. And, they do so knowing in some cases, it could mean making the ultimate sacrifice.

The rights we take for granted and debate and argue about over social media and the freedoms we enjoy while living our lives as we choose, came with a price. And it’s time to remember those who paid that price.

On Monday while you’re manning the grill, having family time, reading a book, or maybe even heading to work, take a moment to truly reflect on the significance of Memorial Day…and say, “Thank you.”