26 07, 2021

Three Lessons I’ve Learned from My OES

By |2021-07-26T06:13:25-05:00July 26th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

I love Old English sheepdogs. We’ve had five, so I know the breed well. Unfortunately, their life span is only 10 to 12 years. That’s how we’ve had so many. Our fifth OES will be five years old this week.

He came from Bugaboo Kennel in Colorado Springs, and he’s been Velcro companion ever since.

His name is Finnegan MacCool after the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill of Giant’s Causeway. You can read the legend here.

 

Finn’s our largest OES at 99.6 pounds, and the most loving. He’s always up for a cuddly nap with you.

Or sitting in your lap…wherever you sit.

Besides the unconditional love, Finn has taught me some important lessons.

Trust your instincts.

Finn senses if someone or some animal or some situation poses a threat. He has that inbred instinct to protect me. I trust him.

In life, we must trust our instincts too. Others’ opinions are important. But in the end, we should heed our gut instincts.

Know what you want and be super persistent about securing it.

Finn normally settles under the table at mealtime unless he’s smelled fried eggs or pizza. Then he nudges my thigh throughout the meal reminding me he’s waiting.

The scenario reminds me how important dogged persistence can be. We should not give up on our goals even if there are setbacks or defeats.

Poor Finn doesn’t always get to lick the fried egg plates. Sometimes we have visitors and seeing a dog lick a human plate tends to freak some people out. That’s why there’s a Sani-wash option on the dishwasher. But when he smells pizza baking or eggs frying you’ll always find him nudging my leg not under laying under the table. He doesn’t give up.

Even if we fail, persistence helps us learn what to do better next time or what techniques or approaches work, and what don’t.

Go outside and play.

I tend to spend hours on my laptop. In our technology world, it’s easy to be online and working 24-7. For Finn, it’s boring. After a while, he will drop that big old head in my lap or nudge my elbow with that bigh black nose to get my attention until I push away from the computer, iPad, or iPhone.

I never regret spending time with him. When I return to my task, I’m refreshed, and it’s not imagined. Research suggests exercise can improve our productivity.

What lessons have you learned from your pet?

19 07, 2021

Are Naps a Good Thing or Bad Thing?

By |2021-07-19T15:22:36-05:00July 19th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Nappers (those of us who take regular naps) are often labeled lazy.

But that’s not necessarily true. Nappers may be the wise ones.

Like young children, too many of us soldier on, whether we’re tired or not, to get everything done we think we need to do.

Studies indicate the opposite is true.

The tendency to avoid naps or take breaks to relax during the day can reduce productivity and/or produce results that are less than our best.

Don’t believe it?

Check out this New York magazine video. You may change your mind about nappers. Or become one.

I’m a napper who’s off to take a nap. You may not work from home as I do and don’t have the luxury of a daily nap. But there’s always the weekend!

12 07, 2021

Snow Cones, Popsicles, and Sprinklers

By |2021-07-10T17:11:55-05:00July 12th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

As a kid I loved summer. One lazy day after another for what seemed like an eternity.

Sunshine and splashing in the sprinkler, slurping snow cones and sleeping in. Reading on the porch swing. Playing in the sprinkler for hours trying to chase away the summer heat.

Those were fun relaxing days.

But as an adult, I don’t slow down to enjoy summer that much. Those once lackadaisical days become rushed vacations and busyness.

Slowing down isn’t easy in our fast-paced technology world. But we should intentionally slow down to recapture those relaxed days of summer.

But how?

Take A Deep Breath.

Breathe in slowly for six seconds and out for six seconds. Try it right now. Feel the calm fill your body. Place sticky notes around to remind yourself. Before you know it, you’ll have the habit of stopping yourself to refresh regularly.

Change Your Routine.

Routine and repetition can steal joy. We miss what’s right in our face. Doing something different refocuses us. Why not have breakfast outside on the patio? Look out the bedroom window in a new direction. Focus on what’s changed since the last time you looked.

Or take a different route home from work? Enjoy the new sites.

Or visit a Farmer’s Market and taste something new that you’ve never tried before.

Unplug and Reconnect.

Silence the phone, close the laptop, skip the Netflix binges. Difficult to do, but a necessary component to recapture those childhood feelings of summer. Look around you instead. See the people and things around you. Talk to the neighbor, wave at the jogger. Really connect.

Here are some other Summer-Slow Down ideas to try:

Blow Bubbles for a baby or give a jar of bubbles to a small child. Children help us find the joy of the moment. I think you’ll smile and so will the child.

Grab a snow cone or popsicle and take a leisurely walk in a nature park. Nature is a never-ending love letter from our Creator. Walk slowly and take note of the amazing beauty around you.

Wave down the ice cream truck and treat yourself.  Savor the memories it brings back.

Why not make a list yourself? Enjoy summer like we did in our youth.

28 06, 2021

Deviled Egg or Angel Egg Time

By |2021-06-22T07:58:34-05:00June 28th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Summertime means deviled eggs, one of my all-time favorite treats. I have a difficult time associating the eggs with the devil, though.

Some people use other names like mimosa eggs, stuffed eggs, dressed eggs, or salad eggs to remove any whiff of the devil.

My personal favorite is angel eggs. That name removes all hints of the Satanic.

But deviled as a culinary descriptor to describe something spicy has been around since 1786.

The recipe—slicing eggs, mashing the yolks, and stuffing the mixture back into the hollowed-out egg white—dates even longer, back to the ancient Romans.

By the 19th century, deviled eggs were a cookbook staple in the United States. Special dishes called egg plates with wells to hold the eggs arrived on the scene.  Tupperware even created a carrier for them. (Also collectible now.)

The plates were popular wedding gifts in the 1950s-60s-70s. Today, vintage egg plates are highly collectible. Just check out eBay or Etsy.

The recipe ingredients for deviling have changed through time. In the 1940s Fannie Farmer suggested adding mayonnaise to the mustard, paprika, and yolks. This modern recipe hardly seems “devilishly” spicy.

Twenty-first century cooks add pickles, dill, bacon, crabmeat, sriracha, kimchi, wasabi, and caviar among other ingredients. Those additions would definitely add taste to the filling. Not necessarily devilish in my opinion.

Our family recipe calls for sweet pickle relish. I use dill relish instead, but don’t tell my mother. She’d be appalled.

Whatever you call them or however you make them, deviled eggs are popular for picnics and potlucks.

They’ll be a part of our family celebration this 4th of July served on our special deviled egg plate shown above. The 1970s plate belonged to my husband’s sister.

We’ll also serve my aunt’s baked beans, my mother-in-law’s chocolate cake (the one with the secret coffee ingredient that we never told my father-in-law about–he didn’t like coffee, you see).

And, of course, daddy’s homemade ice cream. It’s a way to include those who have gone before and feel like they’re with us in spirit.

How about you? Will you be serving deviled eggs or angel eggs this summer?

21 06, 2021

Summer!

By |2021-06-15T09:19:16-05:00June 21st, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

The lazy days of summer officially arrived this week. We’re looking at late sunsets, short nights, and hot days.

The official start depends on whether you’re speaking about the meteorological or astronomical definition for the season. Meteorologists classify June 1 to August 31 summer. Astronomers base their start on the position of the sun and moon.

In Texas, summer didn’t wait until the sun rose directly above the heel stone at Stonehenge (the official astronomical start of the summer season).

Nope.

Mother Nature didn’t pay any attention to meteorology or astronomy in Texas this year. She had her own schedule and intensity. Freezing winter, wetter than normal Spring, and hellfire summer days starting well before the summer solstice.

Texans missed out on the fun of the longest day of the year sequestered in their houses with blinds drawn, AC pumped high, fans roaring and a tall glass of iced tea to block the triple-digit heat outside.

And there’s still July, August, and September to get through! The traditional hot-as-hell months in the Lone Star state.

But Midsummer Day is arriving this week (June 24).

From ancient times, Celts marked the day with celebrations. Churches celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. What the day represents for me is farmers are halfway between planting and harvest. Cooler days of fall will come.

I am so ready.

Until then, everyone stay cool.

14 06, 2021

Moodling, Imagination, and Creative Thinking

By |2021-06-13T13:50:29-05:00June 14th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday, Writing Craft|0 Comments

I recently came across a blog that gave me both a new vocabulary word and a new technique to boost creativity. When I read Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Moodling, I thought the blogger might have made the word up and checked for myself.

Googling the word proved tricky. MOODLE came up, but not moodling. Moodle happens to be an open-source learning management system for distance and online learning. Something that has become a necessary part of our COVID-19 pandemic world.

But that was not what the blogger Joanne Guidoccio was talking about. Her blog referred to the idea of moodling from Brenda Ueland’s book If You Want to Write

Ueland stresses that “the imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”

Urban Dictionary defines the word as daydreaming or letting your mind wander and doing nothing.

Interesting that doing nothing and letting your mind wander will improve creative thinking, isn’t it?

But the fact is some well-known names are among those who practiced moodling.

Isaac Newton was moodling under an apple tree in 1666 and an apple fell on his head which in turn led to his theory on gravity.

Albert Einstein spent days and nights in the quiet solitude after the breakup of his marriage. That moodling period led to his general theory of relativity.

Massachusetts of Technology’s The Writing Process includes moodling as a way to generate ideas and recommends a structured technique for writers

CEOBuddy.com suggests trying noodling and moodling if you’re looking for creative ideas to expand your business.

There’s also a YouTube channel that demonstrates how to use doodling to jumpstart creativity.

Moodling, noodling, doodling, idling, dawdling, and puttering to improve my imagination…

with summer here, sounds like a plan to me.

What do you think?

10 05, 2021

National Leprechaun Day is Coming!

By |2021-05-04T09:03:07-05:00May 10th, 2021|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

May 13th is celebrated as National Leprechaun Day. No one knows the origins of the holiday. I’m guessing one of the tiny creatures came up with the idea for a day in his honor.

Being a bit Irish meself, I think it’s delightful to have a Leprechaun celebration separate from St. Patrick’s Day.

Leprechauns are portrayed  as sly and sneaky elves who dress in waistcoats and hats in Irish folklore. While they are small in stature, they are quick as a whip and masters of practical jokes.

They are also keen musicians who play tin whistles, the fiddle, and even the Irish Harp and love to dance. It’s said, they love dancing so much, they wear out their shoes and constantly have to make new ones.

You might see a leprechaun if you go to Ireland. Tis been known to happen.

For sure you’ll see one if you go to the Leprechaun Museum in Dublin. I know it’s a fun and interesting place to visit.

But catching one of the mischievous pranksters is another matter entirely!

The wee people hide because, if someone finds a leprechaun, then the leprechaun has to either give his pot of gold to the finder or grant him or her three wishes.

These devious little creatures should never be trusted. They will do anything to escape once caught.

If you do happen to catch one, be aware the leprechaun will use all his magical powers to grant you three wishes in return for his freedom. He might even offer you a pot of gold, but he’s also likely to trick you. Best to follow these tips on How to Catch a Leprechaun.

Most people celebrate this day for fun and luck by:

  • organizing Leprechaun hunts,
  • throwing Leprechaun parties,
  • playing practical jokes, and
  • eating and sharing gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins

Happy Leprechaun Day!

3 05, 2021

Busy, Busy Month of May

By |2021-05-02T12:59:07-05:00May 3rd, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

May and December always seem busier months than the other ten.

December is busy with all the holiday preparation and gatherings.

May signals the beginning of summer and all those fun outdoor activities start–cookouts, swim parties, ball games, etc.

Plus, May hosts lots of end-of-school/graduation ceremonies, weddings, and Cinco de Mayo parties, if you live in Texas.

If you have a military background, you know May is also filled with lots of military-centered observances. I’ve listed six below.

May 1 – Silver Star Banner Day – Per Congressional resolution, it is an “Official Day to honor wounded, ill, and injured Veterans”.

May 7 – Military Spouse Appreciation Day – A day that recognizes the service and sacrifices of military spouses.

May 8 – V-E Day – This date commemorates the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces in 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

May 13 – Children of Fallen Patriots Day – A day to honor the children left behind by the brave men and women who gave their lives while defending our freedom.

May 15 – Armed Forces Day – This day pays tribute to men and women currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

May 31 – Memorial Day A solemn occasion to honor the men and women who died while serving in the military.

I’ve accented the difference between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day. It’s an important distinction I think.

Armed Forces Day on May 15 honors active-duty service members. It’s the day to say thank you to those who willingly signed a blank check payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including their life.

Memorial Day on the last Monday of May honors those who gave their lives.

Celebrations on both days sometimes expand to include all public service servants like firemen and police officers, but the origins of the days were military-based. Let’s not forget.

This year May will be especially busy around our home. Thanks to the lessened pandemic restraints, we’ll once again have our traditional family gathering for Memorial Day along with three high school graduation celebrations.

How about your May, will you be busy?

12 04, 2021

Hills and Highways are Alive with Wildflowers in Springtime

By |2021-04-10T16:06:26-05:00April 12th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Hills and highways are alive with wildflowers in the Spring is a yearly rite of the season, especially in Texas. The seas of color along our roadways vary every year. Bluebonnets signal Spring has arrived.

April has done an outstanding job this year painting the roadsides in the blues, reds, yellows, and pinks with bluebonnets, primroses, Indian paintbrush, and buttercups. Bluebonnets are a particularly gorgeous deep blue this year thanks to the winter’s awful blizzard and freeze.

We can thank two women for the beauty we enjoy.

The  origin of bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, involves a young Indian girl named She-Who-Is-Lonely. It’s a familiar tale for most Texans.

She-Who-Is-Lonely lived when Indians roamed Texas. According to legend the weather was not kind to the natives. Winters were harsh, Spring brought catastrophic flooding, followed by a summer drought. Food was scarce. The tribe appealed to the Great Spirit for help. She-Who-Is-Lonely overheard the Great Spirit tell them selfishness had brought on their plight. She took matters into her own hands.

She offered her most prized possession to the Great Spirit, burning her beloved doll in a fire. Once the fire cooled, she then took handfuls of ashes and turned north, south, east, and west letting the ashes fall from her hands as she spun.

When the tribe awoke, the barren landscape was covered in lush blankets of blue and green. The Great Spirit had forgiven them. The tribe renamed the little girl “One-Who-Dearly-Loves-Her-People.”

Tomie dePaola wrote and illustrated a fabulous picture book based on the legend. It’s available here.

The other woman is Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson, who made it her mission to improve the landscape along our interstate highways.

She convinced states that wildflowers were good at erosion prevention along the roadside and suggested strongly that mowers skip cutting the wildflowers until after they had dispersed their seeds. She even requested that mowers scatter flower seeds the last time they mowed in the fall.

Former Texas Governor John Connally offered free packets of wildflower seeds to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and anyone who wrote to him. Other states followed with their own wildflower programs for their roadways.

Lady Bird’s efforts provided the wildflowers we see on so many roadways when we travel each Spring. Funding cuts over recent years have eliminated many seed sowing programs, but the show happens every year.

This year in Texas the show is magnificent and from the pictures appearing on social media I think it’s a good blooming year for the hills and highways everywhere.

Bluebonnets are even blooming in my neighborhood.

29 03, 2021

March – Lion or Lamb?

By |2021-03-28T07:18:06-05:00March 29th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Briton Rivière, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

March Comes in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb. This proverb has been around since its mention in a 1732. Such weather proverbs and sayings have many origins. This one probably came from observations and a desire for accurate weather predictions.

Trouble is March can arrive as a lamb then turn lion-like in the end making the proverb an unreliable forecasting guide.

Historically Old Man Winter reluctantly allows Spring its turn at the climate. That’s because March is a pivotal meteorological month with an unpredictable seasonal pattern.

While the adage most likely refers to the weather, other sources trace its origins to the stars. If you look to the western horizon this time of year, you can see the constellations of Leo the Lion and Aries the Ram (or lamb).

Leo the Lion rises from the east in early March, meaning the month is coming in “like a lion.” By the end of the month, Leo is almost overhead, while Aries the Ram (lamb) is setting on the western horizon. Hence, the month is going out like a lamb.

Another theory claims the saying is biblical and the animal references symbolic. Jesus’s first appeared as the sacrificial lamb but returns as the Lion of Judah. Problem with that theory is the lion appears first, which is theologically inaccurate.

Perhaps the best solution to what the saying – March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb – means is to take it at face value. March may well start with fierce weather, but it’s always a clear signal spring is on its way.

Our March has been like a roller coast. One day warm and sunny (think 80s), the next wet and chilly (highs in the 50s), and another both cold and rainy the same day when one of those Texas northers comes through. Lion one day, lamb the next, or both in the same day. Old Man Winter is definitely fighting Springs arrival.

How’s your March weather?

Want to know whether you can expect lion or lamb weather in your area during these last days of March? You can find the Farmer’s Almanac long-range weather forecast, here.

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