Saturday, November 29, 2014

Dress Up

When I was  kid I loved playing Dress-Up.

My friends and I had some of our parents' discarded clothing, cowboy hats and kerchiefs, and perhaps discarded Halloween costumes and we'd put some of those on and pretend to be various characters. While the girls did this most often, even the boys would join in at times.

We'd use our imaginations and pretend to be whoever we wanted. Of course the girls often chose  to be princesses or fairys while the boys would become sheriffs or soldiers.

Now I'm a grown-up (at least on the outside) but I still enjoy dressing up for special occasions.

Most days I wear slacks or jeans, but it's fun to put on a dress or even velveteen pants and a fancy top to attend a holiday party.

Of course I'm not pretending to be someone else when I do that. I usually save my imagination for my writing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bad, Bad, Bad

The news is full of terrible things.

There are riots, people getting shot, fires, storms, floods, political conflicts, terrorist attacks, climate change, wars and rumors of wars, etc., etc., etc.

If we focus on such things it seems like the end of the world is coming.

But there are more good people than evil ones in the world and nice things happen all the time. The news media focus on the bad stuff partly because the good is so usual it's not newsworthy.

If someone is speeding, ignores a traffic signal, or cuts me off at an intersection I notice, but when a vehicle drives safely and stops when it should I take that for granted.

I couldn't count the number of times strangers have smiled at me, held a door open when my arms were full, or let me go ahead of them.

Yes, storms and floods and earthquakes and forest fires are dangerous, but they happen rarely. How many days in my life have I enjoyed beautiful weather?

And, like many people, my financial situation could be better, but I have friends and family, a roof over my head, food to eat, utilities, transportation and health care. Lots of people in the world lack some or all of those things.

Thanksgiving isn't just for one day in November. I'll try to be thankful for all the good things all year.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks Again

Most years near Thanksgiving I blog about the same topic. Sorry if it gets boring, but it's something I feel strongly about. The topic is expressing gratitude.

Imagine you're late to work or to an appointment but the traffic where you are is stopped by someone holding up a sign while cars come toward you in the only lane open to traffic. Irritating, isn't it?

But imagine what would happen if nobody did that job.

Roads and underground utilities can't be repaired only when there's no traffic, so our streets, sewer and water systems, etc. would be a mess.

Whenever I'm in a situation like that I try to open my window and call, "Thank you" to the person who made me wait. Usually he or she looks surprised.

There are dozens of people who do jobs most people either find irritating or simply ignore. I try to say something nice and express my gratitude as often as possible.

And if there's a product or business I especially like sometimes I call the manufacturer or main office and express my appreciation. I don't want to waste busy people's time so I don't do that often, but a few of the people I've spoken to have told me my call was the nicest one they'd gotten all day.

The news is full of negative things and people gripe and complain a lot. But saying "Thank you" or sometimes even smiling can put a positive touch to someone's day.

I also keep a blessing journal. At the end of every day I list at least three things I'm thankful for. Being thankful helps me, too.

We don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to say, "Thank you.".

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Tomorrow is the Great American Smokeout.  The American Cancer Society encourages everyone who smokes to stop on November 20th.

Smoking not only causes cancer, it can cause other serious health problems as well. My stepfather died of emphysema and it was horrible to watch him go through that. As a kid I had severe, chronic asthma, largely because of my parents' smoking.

And people who smoke are so used to the odor theey have no idea they stink all the time. Their homes, hair and clothing always smell like dirty ashtrays.

Like all addictive substances, nicotine replaces the natural chemicals that allow our brains to feel pleasure, so quitting isn't easy. But it can be done. And, while the process isn't easy. everyone I've known who stopped smoking was glad they had done it afterwards.

If you're a smoker please take the dare and quit.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Shadow of Fear

I'm so excited! My newest book, A Shadow of Fear was published this week.

It's about a boy named Ben who is afraid of many things, but he wants to go to camp with his older brother. His parents agree if Ben can act like Jesus they'll let him go. But will he be able to face his worst fear to help a friend with special needs?

I hope this book will encourage kids who read it to face their own fears and do what is right.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Animal Language

Did you know animals and birds can communicate with in many ways?

Even bees have patterns of "dancing" in the air to tell others in their hives where to find good nectar.

Many animals can sense things humans can't, such as sounds out of our hearing range or color vision that's different from ours.

Dogs communicate a lot of things to each other through their strong ability to smell things. I'm glad humans don't have to greet each other by sniffing certain body areas as dogs do! Those animals can tell all kinds of information when they sniff where other dogs have left urine. For instance they can sense if the other dog is mature or not, male or female, healthy or not, well fed or not, aggressive or frightened, etc.

A while ago I blogged about a book called How to Speak Dog by Stanley Coren.

Coren doesn't mention smell communication, but explains how dogs communicate by using body language, barking patterns, and intonations. It's amazing how much they can communicate!

That book also talks about cat language, and how cats and dogs often don't get along because some of their body languages mean opposite things. But if they're raised together they can understand each other.

I've told so many people about that book the author ought to pay me a commission. :-) 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Bookshelves

I've mentioned before how I loved getting books as gifts when I was a kid. The Heidi books, Little House on the Prairie and Oz books, Tom Sawyer, and many others are still on my bookshelves today.

And I haven't even mentioned the picture books my parents read to me and my brother every night at bedtime when we were little kids.

When I went away to college I took many of the books I've mentioned with me, but most of the picture books were stored in a box in my mother's basement with my dolls and toys.

Several years later when I had graduated and gotten an apartment I went back to get the things in that box. All of them were rotten and full of mildew! Horrible!!!

I'm so glad I had kept the others with me, and I still have them.  Of course I've added lots more books since then. I kept some of my college textbooks. As a teacher I bought lots of books for kids, and I've purchased and been given many for adults.Our community has a monthly free  book swap and I usually keep some of the books I get there.

A while ago I tried to count how many books I have, but got tired of doing that and decided to figure how many by the average number on a shelf. The estimate is about 2000 altogether.

Can you tell I'm a bookaholic?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vote, Vote, Vote

Like me, you are probably tired of campaign ads. I'll be glad to have this election over and done with.

But the constant barrage of commercials has reminded me of that old song from the days when women had to fight for the right to vote. I couldn't find the lyrics online, but here's the version I remember:

Vote, vote, vote for Johnny.
In comes Mary at the door.
Mary is a lady
And she knows how to vote
So we don't need Johnny anymore.

As I mentioned in this post
thousands of years ago there were logical reasons for men and women to have different roles. But times have changed.

The Women's Suffrage movement was started by Ellen Clarke Sargent and her husband in Nevada County, CA. That was in 1878, but it wasn't until 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution made it legal for women to vote in the United States.

So, no matter how fed up we are with the current election, I hope all the American women who read this will appreciate their right to vote and use it today.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Purple People Eater Was Here

In February when I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma and told I might loose the vision in one eye I asked the people in my church to pray that I wouldn't worry. (I tend to be a worry wart.)

The next day while I was walking the dog a tune kept running through my head and eventually I realized it was the One Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater. That song had been popular when I was in high school. Thinking of it made me laugh and every time I started to worry I'd remember the song and laugh again. That was an interesting answer to prayer so I decided to "be" a purple people eater in the Fall for Halloween.

So last night I wore purple with an eye patch and a shawl for wings. I couldn't get the paper party horn to stay on my cap, so I used a toy, plastic trumpet. Every time trick or treaters came to the door I'd blow the trumpet and tell them I was one eyed, one horned, flying, purple people eater and that was my horn.

I figured today's children wouldn't know that song, so I posted the words next to the front door. To my surprise, most of the kids said they remembered it from preschool or Kindergarten and walked away singing it. How times have changed!

By the way, because my tumor was down in the corner of my eye the proton beam radiation used to treat it didn't damage my vision at all so I'm not one-eyed, but I had fun last night.