It’s Caturday–and Walter’s Helping with the Fall Cleaning

Months ago I wrote about my storage room and how I desperately wanted to clean it out. Well, slowly but surely that’s happening. It’s a little bit disconcerting to Walter and Mimi, who constantly have to look for new hiding places, but I feel good about it. Not that the room looks clean yet. It’s just that now a lot of the boxes are empty and only need to be broken down.

Anyway, I donated four boxes of  books to the Friendly Bookstore, which supports our local library, and now I have several boxes ready for Helping Hands, a thrift store that helps people in need. I hauled two of those boxes out to the living room, right next to the front door. The theory was I’d next carry them down to my car. Problem is, I kept finding more stuff to add, so the bottom box has gotten too heavy to carry downstairs. With my back, I have to be really careful.

It looks like I’ll be handling this the way I handled the books. Take an empty box to the car and then carry everything to that box. I need a break, and apparently Walter does too. I had to put the quilt on top or both cats would be exploring–and making a mess of things. The quilt stays, by the way.

So it’s Caturday and cleaning day all rolled into one.Walter on boxes

a little ink on my hands

It’s National Letter Writing Day, and in honor of that I’m reblogging a post from my first year of being a blogger. Some of this may be out of date–I think schools have gone back to teaching cursive–but the heart of it remains the same.

My World With Words

There’s something so magical about a letter,

especially a handwritten one.

Back in the day, rather, the days before e-mail, texting, or messaging of any sort, I used to send a lot of letters, and get a lot of letters in return. If I’d known how rare they’d become I’d have kept more of them. The ones I have are a chance assortment of cards I liked, notes that got “filed” in an odd place, only to show up years later, or a few, very few, that really meant something to me.

laurie dave Dave & Laurie’s daughter is a sophomore in college now

Friends used to send pictures, too, of their weddings, babies, families as they grew. Some still do. My friend Melanie sends wonderful cards every year of her, her husband Tim and their children, Alec & Amelie. This despite the fact she posts regularly on Facebook. I’ve kept them…

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First Love

“I didn’t do it,” I protested. But she never stopped blaming me.

“I love you,” she whispered. I never stopped loving her.

I was game for her dreams, from sailing the world over to catching a falling star. We perused the same books, laughed at the same movies. We were perfect for each other.

Then it happened. We drifted apart. She had friends we didn’t share and interests I didn’t take part in.

She’d outgrown me, her parents said. Over the years she’d occasionally be in contact, but the final blow eventually came.

My imaginary friend, she called me.

Image Credit: little girl and dragon © Bigstock Photos; imaginary friend ©

Be Kind (a little goes a long way)

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
― Plato

Ever in your life felt like no one is fighting as difficult a battle as you? I have, and I’m embarrassed by my arrogance. Still, being overwhelmed is being overwhelmed, and once that wave washes over you, it’s sometimes hard to stand up.

I don’t quite agree with Plato that everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle, because everyone’s life ebbs and flows, but you don’t know what you don’t see. So being kind because everyone you meet might be fighting a harder battle seems like the more pragmatic way of thinking.

When I was a teenager, I noticed a lot of the older women in the grocery store–or wherever–seemed to be scowling. I took a bit of offense to that, because I thought they were scowling at me (like I said, I was a teenager), until one day I smiled at one of these ladies. Her smile in return had me quite taken aback and I realized, her frown had nothing to do with me.  Or anyone else, for that matter.

After that, I took to smiling at ladies who didn’t look happy, and the response I got was quite gratifying. While many of them may have been quite content, at least some of them were in pain, physical or emotional, and perhaps my smile made their day a little brighter. It was kindness, and I know now that the burdens many bear at 70 are a lot worse than what I was dealing with at 17 (and I had my share of pain).

Not long ago a child in my apartment complex came running up to me. I was surprised and thought she may have mistaken me for someone else, but she grinned at me and said, “here’s a lucky penny!” and handed me said coin. That was so sweet it made my day. I hadn’t been having a particularly difficult time of it, but kindness is always appreciated. And yes, her mom was nearby, keeping her generous daughter safe from stranger danger.

Be kind. It may be a ripple in a pond that goes a long way.

Image Credit: ©TOimages–

It’s National Senior Citizens Day!

I’m a few short years from being a senior citizen myself, and many of my friends are already there. I know the value of life experience.

Those over 65 have been there. They’ve experienced joy and sorrow, tragedy and triumph. They know what it’s like to deal with the angst of a difficult childhood, or difficult children, for that matter.

My dad once told me, “every generation thinks they invented sex and swearing.” If you think granny doesn’t understand your not-so-subtle double entendre, think again. She gets it and could tell you some saucy stories herself.

Remember this: the aging baby boomers once were criticized in the same way todays teens and twenty-somethings are. And someday, God willing, those making fun of the older generation will be senior citizens themselves. It’s just life.

Image Credit: ©

It’s National Black Cat Appreciation Day!

When I was in high school, we had a beautiful long-haired black cat named Salem. My mom still mourns for her.

In my area, shelters won’t let anyone adopt a black cat in October, for fear of what may happen on Halloween. Or after, when party people may just abandon the precious kitties.

If you have a black cat, I consider you very lucky!!

Image Credit: ©worldofvector–

The Cream Always Rises

“The cream always rises,” a favorite college professor of mine used to tell his classes, and like fools, we thought he meant if ever you were unemployed, or underemployed, you’d end up getting a great job. If you were top-notch, that is, and we all thought we were. Or at least hoped we were.

While there may be some truth to our naïve beliefs, having a superlative job isn’t everything. And it certainly wasn’t what our professor was referring to. He was close to retirement himself and had seen a long line of promising students fall victim to family tragedy, mental illness, physical illness and the like, compromising their ability to get the superior job they believed they were capable of tackling.

Still, they were cream, and they rose.

Closeup of yellow blooming daffodils on blurred green backgroundI have a friend, also from college, whose husband has ALS. Her honesty about the heartbreak and her integrity toward her family is a shining example of rising. Another college friend went through a series of tragedies, too much to detail here, and in her darkest moments she told me this just wasn’t what she expected out of life. Both women have persevered and are role models for me of how life will change you, one way or the other, and it’s up to you how you handle it.

Of course this isn’t a new thought and I’ve heard it, time and again. I’ve hoped that I’ve met life head on and come out ahead, even if my job is less than I expected, and I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose my car to an accident or whatever. But until now that’s just been hope.

I was discouraged the other day by disparaging words from yet another friend from college, someone who couched her thoughts in what I call God talk. Now, I’m a woman of faith, but not her kind of faith, which she believes is the only kind to have. She smiled while she spoke to me and basically questioned whether or not I had ever truly been a Christian.

Crying–yet also quite angry–I texted the friend who’d had the series of tragedies in her life. She amazed me. She told me I had been an example to her. Me? I was shocked. Now, I’ve been through my fair share (haven’t we all) but I never thought of myself as Cream That Rises. When I told her about that saying, she laughed and said, “I think we’re both cream.”

You just never know. I can tell you this, those who sit in judgment are not cream. 

Image Credits: Boy raising hands ©beerphotographer–; Daffodils ©Aul Zitzke–

How Viewing Art is Good for Your Mental Health

At the end of this post is an invitation for the author’s Art Appreciation 101 course. I’ve followed this blog for years now, and I can tell you, she knows what she’s talking about. Regardless of whether or not that interests you, I think this article has a lot to say.

A Scholarly Skater

I’ve been sold on how completely and totally awesome it is to fill your life with art since the first day of my first art history class in my freshman year of college. I believe that enjoying art can enrich every person’s life, and the findings of several studies agree with me. They say that art-viewing can be good for your mental health. It’s great to have the backing of psychological professionals, but that isn’t news to me or any other long-time art lover.

According to these findings, art viewing reduces stress and mental exhaustion, increases dopamine (a happiness-producing brain chemical) and blood flow in the brain, enhances critical thinking and other cognitive skills, and can help people suffering from some mental health disorders.

How Art Benefits Our Minds

Monet Water Lily Pond
Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1900. Art Institute of Chicago.

Don’t we all feel better when we look at…

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Here’s Your Baby!

Many of you have already seen this, but in honor of International Cat Day, I’m re-blogging one of my earlier posts about how Walter, Mimi and I became a family. Kiss your cats and give them a treat! (You’ll have to excuse the captions. They ended up anywhere but under the photos.)

My World With Words

November, 2012.

I didn’t have a job. I owed the Cat Clinic hundreds of dollars for the care of the late great Paco. It would have been irresponsible to get a new cat. So when the pitiful cries of two little ones are heard outside my apartment window, I steel myself and say, I can’t save all the kitties.

In that neighborhood, at that apartment complex, people were abandoning cats all the time. It was one of the hardest parts of living there, and that wasn’t an easy place to live. It was devastating not to be able to help all the poor kitties who sat outside my window, crying. Fortunately, one of the other residents worked at a no-kill shelter, and she was usually able to find them a home.

Older Paco The late great Paco.

I had only the screen open, so I closed the window completely. The crying fades…

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It’s International Friendship Day

Eleven years ago, the United Nations chose this day as International Friendship Day. Apparently the idea had been around for a long time, but in 2011 they made it official–July 30 is a day to celebrate friendship and community.

Coincidentally, I already had plans to spend some time today with a few of my friends. But knowing it was designated a day to honor them made that time together a little more special. We played Scrabble (I actually won one game, which is practically unheard of) and I reflected on what these ladies meant to me.

AdobeStock_513820228 [Converted]If I need someone to drive me to the doctor’s, Deb is there. If I’m looking for an honest critique of my writing, Madlyn is there. Both have taken care of my cats when I’ve visited my mom. They would have done it for free, in fact, Deb did several times, but now I insist on paying them. They will be there for me when I get bad news, and I will do the same for them.

Without my friends, I’d be lost. The only family I have in the area is a second cousin who reached out to me once, promised to invite me to dinner, then never followed up. My family is either two thousand miles west of me , a thousand miles east or 700 miles north. I talk to them frequently, but rarely see them. I depend on my friends for day-to-day support and conversation.

So on this special day I say to all of my friends, “thank you for being there, for the role you play in my life.” Happy International Friendship Day.

Image Credits: Heart in Hands, © Volha Hlinskay–, International Friendship Day, © Basratstock–

Sad Farewell

Well, a sign of the times–my local yarn shop (LYS) is closing its doors the end of August.

I haven’t actually asked the owners why this is happening. I can only guess. Perhaps online shopping is digging into their sales (although yarn is so tactile, there is nothing online that can compare with holding it in your hands) or the pandemic put them so far behind they haven’t been able to catch up. One way or the other, I’m assuming sales are down.

Or perhaps they’re being forced out of their building by land developers, who are rampant in the area, and they know they won’t be able to rent anything else for the same price.

All speculation.

What I know for sure is this: I will miss them. I’ve been an avid knitter for 43 years, and never lived in a town without at least one yarn store. Some have definitely been better than others, but they all provided me with what I needed. Not just yarn, but the supplies you sometimes forget about when you’re starting a project, like the right size needles.

Don’t tell me I can buy yarn at Hobby Lobby or Walmart. Nuh-uh. It’s not the same as the top quality yarn you can purchase at a LYS. There’s something wonderful about discovering a new merino wool, re-discovering Shetland wool or finding out there is such a thing as machine washable alpaca. You don’t get that at chain stores.

Girls with knitting needles

And yarn stores have been more than a place to purchase supplies. I’ve met some of my closest friends in them, debated relationships around the stitch-and-bitch tables, taken refuge during some of my saddest days. They are community centers as much as they are places to shop, full of character and spirit.

So I’m mourning the loss of a brick-and-mortar friend. Farewell, good buddy.

Image Credits : yarn © Maciej Bledowski–; women knitting © AboutLife–

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,

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