Tomorrow is International Kissing Day!

I’m ahead of the game here, folks, because usually I post these holidays in the evening, after we’ve had a fair chance to celebrate. But this one deserves a little forewarning, so you can plan a little.

Okay, I don’t really expect anyone out there to kiss someone you wouldn’t otherwise touch. Apparently the whole idea of this day came, at least in part, from the whole idea of kissing someone you have a crush on, something I would never have dreamed of doing. And likely never will dream of doing, for multiple reasons.

But make tomorrow’s kisses a little extra special, just to celebrate. And don’t limit yourself to romantic kisses. Try kissing a baby. Kiss someone on the cheek. Kiss your cats.

Just pucker up.

Image credits: Woman kissing ©  studiostoks–

To Tell the Truth

I’ve heard the adage “always tell the truth, it’s easiest to remember” credited to several people. I’m not sure who first said it–I know Mark Twain said something close–but I believe it. I have a good memory, but if I were to get wrapped up in a serious lie, I’m sure I’d trip myself up at some point.

I try to be honest, and most of the time, I am. Still, when I went on an online diet recently, I lied about what I’d eaten. Too embarrassing to put it in print. I don’t mind saying that here because I’m not confessing to too much, but I sure didn’t want to tell the anonymous people who might be reviewing my food diary. So I quit that diet and I’m trying something else. Not particularly successfully, but with greater success than I had with that program.

Well, now, here I go. I have had more success lately, but the word “greater” might be misleading. “Slightly more” would be the more accurate term. I wasn’t lying, but I understand how easy it is to fall into deception.

It hurts me when friends or family think I’ve lied to them, especially since I usually haven’t in the way they think I have. I may have at other times–like I said, I’m honest most of the time–but not the times of which they’re accusing me. And once someone is convinced you’re lying, all the proof in the world won’t change their mind. At least, that’s my experience.

We live in a cynical world, and people would rather believe someone is lying than be caught believing said liar told the truth. There are some exceptions–some people will believe others can only tell the truth, when all the evidence points to the exact opposite. 

How do we discern the truth? Obviously, past history is a great way to predict the future. Also, most people, and I’m including those who are basically honest, have a tell when they lie, and a little experience can teach us what that might be. And let’s not discount listening to our gut.

tell the truth text engraved on old wooden signpost outdoors in

I heard a famous author promoting his book about human behavior (and I’m not sure I remember who it is–Malcolm Gladwell, perhaps?) and he said something that went against everything I’d been told: there is no certain way to tell is someone is lying or being honest. We’ve all heard about common human behaviors that will tell others what’s going on, but apparently, there’s no scientific backup for that. 

Bottom line, we can only control our own words and actions. So be honest–it’s not only the easiest thing to remember, it’s what others will remember about you.

Image Credits: Boy with long nose © Michele Paccione,; Signposts © Jon Anders Wiken,

It’s National Cookie Dough Day!

Good grief, someone actually thought it was a good idea to make a holiday out of eating cookie dough. Don’t get me wrong, in my time I’ve barreled my way through plenty of chocolate chip cookie dough (and isn’t that what most of us think of when it comes to eating the gooey stuff?). My brother used to make cookies just to eat the dough, and then he’d leave the baking to me. Well, that was the idea, anyway.

So today, let’s celebrate one really bad–and potentially dangerous–habit. I’m only going to dream of the stuff, but someday I’ll make that dream come true.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

For Father’s Day, a classic film noir film that everyone–fathers, daughters, sons and whoever else is in your circle–can enjoy together. Happy Father’s Day!

Classic for a Reason

The Maltese Falcon, 1941, Warner Bros. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre. Directed by John Huston. B&W, 100 minutes.

In foggy San Francisco, world-weary private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) has taken on a new case from beauty Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor). Spade’s partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan), is clearly attracted to Miss Wonderly, and agrees to go undercover that night on her behalf. While seeking out the man she believes can help her, he is fatally shot—and so is the subject of his search.

Spade discovers, or rather confirms, that Ruth Wonderly is not her real name, and she is apparently Brigid O’Shaughnessy. The two are caught up in a passionate affair, yet that seemingly doesn’t cloud his judgment in uncovering clues in the case.

Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor

Spade does determine the real crux of Brigid’s concern is the Maltese Falcon, an ancient small…

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Caturday Nap Time

Nothing like a cat nap to keep one refreshed and raring to go. And if you can’t snuggle on Mama’s lap, well, reaching out to touch her hip is maybe good enough. Or is he bowing down before me? Ha. He expects that behavior from me, not the reverse.



Image credits: Cesar Cat © Belinda O; Paws in Heart © Bigstock



Two weeks ago I visited my mom and helped her make the adjustment to assisted living. For a variety of reasons it had become apparent to the family that she needs an environment where she will be safe, and my brother took charge of pursuing her options. Through a Medicaid program called elderly waiver she is able to afford a (quite small) place in a nice, newly-renovated facility near the apartment she had been living in. So we’re all satisfied she’s done the right thing and are happy with the service she’ll be getting.

What I struggle with, though, is watching my mom get older, knowing that it will be me someday. Without children, I don’t know who will help me when the time comes. I made the choice some time ago not to have children, and as it turns out, my body had made the same decision for me. Yes, I could have adopted, but the bottom line is, as much as I love babies and older kids, I didn’t want any of my own.

AdobeStock_145424722 [Converted]So who will care for me as I age? My brother put in a lot of time and effort to help get my mom where she is today, and I did what I could as well. It all came together for her in a way it isn’t likely to for me. When I mentioned my fears to my brother, he sort of laughed and said it’s a little early to worry about that now.

It is. As scripture says, don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble of its own. I do believe in planning,  but I know I can’t really plan for how I will be cared for in the future when I don’t know what my situation will be. Still, I will do what I can so I’m at least partially prepared for any eventuality.

Yes, today has enough trouble of its own.

Image Credits: Dandelions © Bigstock; Aging © Adrian Hillman–

I Remember Mama

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms out there. Here’s a film that honors one mother, and in honoring her, honors all of you.

Classic for a Reason

I Remember Mama, 1948, RKO Radio Pictures. Starring Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Oskar Homolka, Ellen Corby, Philip Dorn. Directed by George Stevens. B&W, 134 minutes.

With quiet dignity, wry humor and deep devotion, Marta Hanson (Irene Dunne), a Norwegian immigrant, is raising her family in early 20th century San Francisco. Her story is told in flashback vignettes by her oldest daughter, Katrin (Barbara Bel Geddes), who has just finished writing an autobiographical novel based on her family.

Mama manages not only her home, but the bickering and rivalry among her sisters and uncle Chris (Oskar Homolka). Chris scares everyone, it seems, with his boisterous manner and demanding presence. Yet he’s clearly wounded to learn he’s frightening his youngest family members—Marta’s children—and seeks camaraderie with them, which he creates by leaning in and whispering a shared secret: none of them like Marta’s sisters.

Mama puts her family first, and…

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The other day I had the distinct pleasure of watching two teenage girls connect. I already knew these were nice girls, and seeing the way they responded to each other, sharing a love of books and a particular type of learning, not to mention the immediate reaction to each other’s Instagram accounts, kind of made my heart sing.

Connections like that don’t happen every day.

Whether or not this leads to any sort of long-term friendship (and by long-term, I mean anywhere from the next few years to a lifetime) remains to be seen, and I may never know. But it was a happy reminder to me of two of my friendships that started 25 and 40 years ago, respectively, and remain strong to this day.

All three of us have moved multiple times and we’ve all faced life’s struggles, and even though neither friend lives near me now, we remain in contact and have learned that we’ve grown in similar ways. Our faith has changed in some of the details (but not the basics) and our politics have changed (thankfully). I’m proud to call them each my friend.

I have good friends locally today, but these are friendships that have evolved.  While I liked these friends from the beginning, there wasn’t the immediate connection I felt with the others. Is that because that sort of connection is so rare, or is it because I’m so much more cautious these days?

I don’t have an answer for that. I’m just grateful to have the friends I have and to know the people I know. I don’t make a lot of friends easily, but I endeavor to keep the ones I have.

Image credit: © Cienpies

Listen and Cheer

We all like recognition, some more than others. Some crave recognition from certain people while shying away from it in unfamiliar situations. Others will take it wherever they can get it. Whatever our wants, there is a basic fact of human experience: we all have a need for respect and recognition.

It starts by having our existence acknowledged, when others simply listen to what one has to say. On a higher level there are accolades, acknowledging work well done. That doesn’t necessarily begin and end with our jobs, although that’s important. It could be noting the sweater someone knit or the good behavior of a friend’s child.

bigstock-happy-kids-jumping-89727494 [Converted] cropped

Understanding another’s life challenges can help us hone in on what kind of recognition they need. Parents, of course, love to have their children acknowledged in meaningful ways (and might I add, those of us with cats and dogs will take the praise due them). It takes listening and paying attention to know how best to respect others, even those closest to us.

Today I saw a group of truck drivers at work (I work for J. B. Hunt, a transportation company) cheered on in the Million Mile March, recognizing them for driving two, three and four million miles for the company without a preventable accident. There were quite a few walking the red carpet in the home offices as the local high school band played and the office employees cheered and whooped.

Not only were these men and women proud, but their family members walking beside them beamed as well. It was quite an experience. I should add, J. B. Hunt rewards them in multiple ways for this achievement. It’s a big deal.

That’s an extreme example, but a fun one. I hope you take the time to recognize others in simple ways. Not out of guilt, of course, but love and respect for those around you. People are valuable, and it’s a good idea to let them know it.

Image Credits: Balloons and Confetti © beerfan–; Children Jumping © Bigstock

Orthodox Easter

This weekend marks Eastern Orthodox Easter, generally one of the most joyous and celebrated times in the Ukrainian year. Today, however, we know that for most Ukrainians, survival is utmost in their mind. If they are safe in a neighboring country, it is their faith and memories that must sustain them as they wait to hear the fate of their loved ones left behind.

Ukraine flag flying high in the isolated background Ukraine indeI say a prayer for Ukraine and its people, and hope, as they must, that the war ends soon and the struggle of rebuilding can begin.

Image Credits: Ukrainian Easter Eggs and Ukrainian Flag, ©

It’s National Banana Day! Don’t Let It Slip By

It’s a fine time to celebrate the world’s third most popular fruit! In case you’re wondering, apples and tomatoes beat it out. Tomatoes, not surprisingly, are the most popular. Given how much they’re used in foods around the world, I’m guessing they far surpass even apples. But I digress. Have a banana or two today!

Shoe to slip on banana peel and have an accidentThis brings back what should be a painful memory, but the situation actually never bothered me. In seventh grade (when everything embarrasses you), I slipped on a banana heading in to class after the lunch break. I thought it was funny. My fellow students just stared at me. I’m not sure where my confidence came from that day, but there it was.

I already knew my peers thought I was strange. I don’t think I was. I was smarter than most and maybe that alienated others, I don’t know. I had a dry sense of humor that most probably didn’t get. Whatever it was, little by little, over time, the sneers and comments from others beat me down.

Nowhere was it worse than in gym class. I was the least athletic student in my class, couldn’t throw a ball, couldn’t catch a ball, couldn’t shoot a basket. As a freshman in high school, we had a schedule of sports we were to participate in. Imagine my horror when we found out the freshmen had to share the softball field with the seniors. By share, I mean play together. I cried every night.

Softball in a softball field in California mountainsUntil two senior girls befriended me and told me it was okay to strike out. It didn’t matter if I dropped the ball. I was still okay and worthy of support and caring. It changed my life.

Don’t get me wrong, the massive insecurities continued to swirl around my mind and my parent’s divorce threw me into a tailspin, but at my core I re-found the confidence I had that day I slipped on a banana.

Thank you, Ginny. Thank you, Sue.

Image credits: Bananas © Nataliia; About to Slip © Africa Studio; Softball © Peieq, all,

It’s Caturday! And Walter’s Alarmed


What are all these boxes for, you ask? Don’t worry, we’re not moving. Mama’s gotten used to where we are and she knows you have, too. Just a bunch of boxes that need to be broken down. Except the one you’re sitting on…hmmm…I wonder what’s in there?

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Image credits: Cesar Cat © Belinda O; Paws in Heart © Bigstock; Spring Cats © solodkayamari–

The Faberge Flute

I recently read–and thoroughly enjoyed–the latest book from Maeve Maddox, one of the members of my writing group. I wanted to share it with you:

flutefixAmateur flutist and English teacher Sallie Dunbar has had all she can take of her tedious, penny-pinching, small-town existence. At the end of a very bad, awful day, she decides to shake up her life by splurging on a six-day music convention in 1980s London.

None of the people she meets—the James Garner look-alike on the plane, the flute salesman who looks like Omar Sharif, the creepy, ubiquitous waiter, the friendly couple from Chicago—are what they seem.

tacet-circleEven Tacet, the Jack Russell terrier, has a secret.

Armed only with her familiarity with adolescent angst and  a mental store of literary and movie trivia, Sallie must avoid becoming one more fatality in a deadly seventy-year quest to possess the fabulous Fabergé Flute.

Maeve Maddox’s cozy mystery, The Fabergé Flute, is based in part upon her own experiences as an English teacher, amateur flutist, and Anglophile.

She spent seven years of what she calls her “misspent youth” in London, where she taught at a private tutorial school for girls, saw as many plays as she could, and studied for a degree in English from the University of London.

After returning home to Hot Springs, Arkansas with her degree, Maeve taught English and French at local schools and joined the Hot Springs Flute Ensemble. She even flew back to London one year to attend a flute convention, although it was nothing like the harrowing OWFI gathering depicted in The Fabergé Flute.

Dog-lovers, flute-players, bookworms, movie buffs, public school teachers and cozy mystery addicts will all find something of interest in the story of the put-upon English teacher from DeSoto Springs, Arkansas.

From The Fabergé Flute:

Thoughts whirling, Sallie took her place with a group of people she thought were waiting for the light to change, but as they surged forward, she realized that she was at a bus stop. As the huge red hulk of a Number Nine hurtled towards the curb, she felt the pressure of a hand at the small of her back and found herself being propelled forward into the street. For the first time, she noticed that red London buses have black fenders and that one of them was inches from her face.

As the black fender rushed towards her, Sallie’s main emotion was one of chagrin, knowing that if she were killed, Mother would say she’d told her so.

Amazon review from Jackie Flowers, founder and director of the Hot Springs (Arkansas) Flute Ensemble:

5.0 out of 5 stars The description of an instrumental convention are so accurate that it was like being there

Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2018

Verified Purchase

Fabulous book! A plot twister to the end! A must for flute players and mystery lovers. The description of an instrumental convention are so accurate that it was like being there. The details were so authentic! This author is quite knowledgeable on flutes of all kinds and English literature and was very clever in how the two were intermingled. Loved the dog antics, so characteristic of that breed. Great characters were developed and it was a shame to leave some of them when the book was over. I loved the ending. I do hope that there is a sequel. If you are a flute player, or know one, this book is a MUST and would be a great gift.

The Fabergé Flute is available in both print and digital copies.

Amazon link:

Barnes And Noble link:

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