Make Me Think Monday

29 05, 2023

Recognizing the Roots of Memorial Day

By |2023-05-26T12:00:13-05:00May 29th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

For most, Memorial Day signals the start of summer where burgers and cakes iced with American flags are the order of the day.

But Memorial Day began as a way to honor scores of dead from the Civil War called  “Decoration Day.”

In 1971, the name changed but the day remained a time to visit and spruce up final resting places of all who lost their lives in service to this country.  Read how Decoration Day became Memorial Day here

Such tradition might seem macabre or morbid.

At the same time, the Memorial Day tradition serves as a gentle means of passing history from generation to generation.

Here are three ways to recognize the roots of Memorial Day along with all the burgers and fun.

Pause for A Moment of Silence

In 2000 the House and Senate passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act to “remember and renew the legacy of Memorial Day, which was established in 1868 to pay tribute to individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States and their families.”

According to that law at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, we should stop eating, chatting, and swimming, for one full minute to remember those who didn’t make it home to celebrate.

Display the American Flag Properly

Memorial Day has specific rules for where and when the American flag is raised and lowered. It’s the only day that observes both positions on the flagpole.

The Stars and Stripes should be raised briskly first thing in the morning and then lowered to half-staff.

At noon, the flag should be returned to full staff until it’s taken down at sunset.

Don’t have a flagpole? If you fly a flag from your porch and can’t lower it, simply attach a black mourning streamer to the top for when it’s supposed to be lowered.

Remember It’s Not Veterans Day

A lot of people will confuse the days of military recognition.

Most veterans don’t expect to be thanked for their service. This is especially true on Memorial Day.

While vets will accept the extra attention on Veterans Day, such thanks are not appropriate on Memorial Day.  To them, it’s a somber day of remembering those who didn’t come home with them.

If we recognize the roots of Memorial Day, we can keep the day from being just another holiday with an extra day off.

8 05, 2023

How to Keep Your Brain Cells

By |2023-05-08T06:07:10-05:00May 8th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

I received a thank-you email from Anita Gianakas, a library media specialist in Knox County, Maine recently.

She’d discovered my 2013 MENSA blog while working on their media center’s Brain Busters and Mind Puzzles guide for the library Educational Learning series.

The blog suggested things like jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Scrabble, and trivia mind games to keep your brain active, and provided online links to sites like these:

One of her students, Lily, suggested some fresh additions to that original list.

Rather than update the old blog, I decided to do this reminder blog because too often we forget to challenge and train our brains regularly.

It is so important that we keep our brains alert because brain cells do die off.

As a classroom teacher, I used a thinking warm-up—puzzles, logic problems, and review questions from lessons. Interestingly my students always preferred puzzles and thinking problems over reviews.

My source for those daily thinking warm-ups was Matching Wits with Mensa. I still use the book to refresh my brain periodically

It’s not necessary to be a MENSA member to keep your brain stimulated. Our family enjoys challenging each other all the time. Brain teasers, card games, puzzles, all these help us keep our brains sharp.

Check out the old MENSA blog for more suggestions or try some of Lily’s new suggestions above if you want to test or challenge your brain daily.

Want to practice first? Here’s a brain warm-up and put your answers in a comment.

EXAMPLE:  7 in a W = 7 days in a week 

#1 – 7 of the AW

#2 – 8 on a S S

#3 – 64 on a C

The first commenter with correct answers will receive a free copy of their choice from my book options. Good Luck!

24 04, 2023

Is Poetry a Waste?

By |2023-04-18T08:19:55-05:00April 24th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

It’s National Poetry Month again. The Academy of American Poets set up April’s month-long focus in 1996 to celebrate poets’ role in our culture and promote how poetry matters.

“Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and—of course—poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives.”

And poetry is not a waste. Research confirms that reading or writing poetry can support our mental acuity and potentially reduce our risk for dementia over our lifetimes.

Who doesn’t want that?

These are some of my favorite poems if you want to celebrate National Poetry Month with me.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash – A favorite of my children and grandchildren. I read it over and over to all of them.

Go Down Death by James Weldon Johnson – a funeral sermon in rhyme. I memorized this poem for a speech class in high school – a long, long time ago.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – I used this story poem often in my classroom. It’s also available as a storybook, a wonderful gift for any age.

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost – I’ve loved this poem since I memorized it for English class in high school.

My list could go on and on.

I hope you have a favorite poem too and pause sometime this month to read a poem or two.

13 03, 2023

Country Living

By |2023-03-11T11:12:23-06:00March 13th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

Living in the country means living with wildlife. Raccoons, possums, deer, gophers, and armadillos are always roaming around, tunneling through the property.

We see them cross the yard late at night and/or early in the morning. Usually, it’s no big deal.

Unless there’s a major rainstorm and four inches of rain falls in an afternoon for two days in a row.

When that happens, this happens.

Fence posts washed out.

Deep ruts through the yard.

Gigantic dirt washes where the tunnels were.

It’s a mess and dangerous to humans and pets.

We had the holes filled and contacted a wildlife relocation company to trap the armadillo we’d seen in the yard multiple times.

Traps were set around his most recent dig sites.


The wildlife relocator assured us the armadillo would be guided into his traps by the interesting construction.

A configuration that looks like giant wooden Xs leading to the no-kill traps.


It’s been three weeks since the traps were set.

No armadillo inside either trap.

The question now is: Do we leave the traps? Or assume Mr. Armadillo has moved on to more fertile ground because we spread stuff to wipe out all the ants and grubs he’d been munching on?

If we remove the traps, I’m sure the creatures will, no doubt, return to dig tunnels again. They have that inbred sense to know when danger is gone and dinner is available.

So the battle of living in the country goes on. I’m thinking the traps have been up so long the yard will look funny without them. We’re gonna keep trying.

6 03, 2023

March’s Lion-Lamb Saying

By |2023-03-05T12:15:02-06:00March 6th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments Briton Rivière – Una and the Lion

March Comes in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb.

Our calendars now say March. Have you heard this proverb quoted yet?

It’s been around since 1732 and its first mention in Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. Ever since, the proverb is often quoted.

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 are symbolic. The problem with that is Jesus first appeared as the sacrificial lamb. His return will be as the Lion of Judah, not exactly in the same order as the saying.

The proverb isn’t a reliable forecasting guide either. March is a pivotal meteorological month with an inconsistent seasonal pattern. Sometimes the month slips in like a lamb and then turns lion-like at the end. Current weather patterns determine what actually happens.

Whatever way the month begins, it’s always a clear promise spring is on its way.

How did March begin where you live–like a lion or a lamb?

20 02, 2023

A Strange Holiday

By |2023-02-19T10:45:56-06:00February 20th, 2023|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Today is President’s Day… or is it Presidents’ Day… Presidents Day… Or Washington’s Birthday as the Office of Personnel Management notes on its federal calendar.

All those names are used.

With no official name, it’s hard to know how or what to call the holiday and it’s a grammar nightmare. The apostrophe is everywhere.

Sometimes there’s none, i.e. Presidents Day. Sometimes the apostrophe is placed between the last two letters as in President’s Day. Sometimes it’s after the last letter Presidents’ Day.

Then President is used as plural or singular.

To most people, the day is when banks and federal employees have a holiday and retail stores run sales.

Back in my day, we celebrated two presidential birthdays in February on their actual birthdays –George Washington on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln on February 16.

The 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed all that with the creation of three-day weekends and designated the third Monday of February to honor all presidents, past and present. That blurred the day’s meaning from the original purpose.

You’ll also notice Presidents’ Day never falls on either Washington or Lincoln’s birthdates or any of the other four presidents’ February birthdates—George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan.

Strange holiday, I say.

Whatever you call the holiday and however you choose to write it, enjoy the day.

Maybe do a little reading. Check out my author page for some excellent book choices.

30 01, 2023

National Hat Day

By |2023-01-30T11:55:15-06:00January 30th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Multiple sites mark designated days to celebrate that are off-beat holidays in the U.S. and around the world. NationalDayCalendar is one. NationalDay365 is another.

National days are not truly “National” days. There’s no act of Congress declaring it so. Still, they’re fun and I enjoy seeing posts on FB alerting me to them.

This month January 15th was designated as National Hat Day. To celebrate you are supposed to wear and enjoy a hat of your choice and style. Some hatter wanting to sell his hats probably originated the celebration.

Hats come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and styles. There’s a hat to fit every head size and personality.

judythe morganWearing a hat can …

  • make a statement.
  • identify your occupation or promote a cause or product.
  • keep your head warm or the sun from your eyes.

That last reason is why I wear my Irish cap all winter to keep me warm and a sun visor all summer to block the sun.

In the early 19th century, a woman didn’t go out without her hat. Hats have more or less disappeared from everyday fashion attire in the U.S.

On the other hand, if you’re attending the Kentucky Derby a hat is a requirement. The Derby gives a woman the opportunity to express her inner Southern Belle. I’ve even been known to wear a hat while I watch the broadcast on television.

National Hat Day allows us to try out hats. From the fantastic to the sublime, no rules or no limits. Wearing a hat is much like getting into costume, you might be pleasantly surprised to see what type of character you become.

National Hat Day is a fun way to express yourself. Mark your calendar and next year grab YOUR chance to display your favorite headgear.

Or don’t wait until then. Why not wear different hats any day?

28 11, 2022

Is It Time to Pitch Your Turkey Leftovers?

By |2022-11-27T16:58:25-06:00November 28th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

If you live in the U.S., you probably sat down at a Thanksgiving table loaded with enough food to feed a third-world country for a week.

We sure did. And we had leftovers.

For me, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. I love the smell of the stripped carcass simmering with onions and celery in our traditional turkey brown rice soup on Black Friday.

With only two of us now, cooking the whole turkey carcass into soup is too much. This year’s bare Tom Turkey bones went with a granddaughter and her growing family. Instead, we took enough slices of turkey for sliders on Black Friday.

I’m guessing many are still moving leftover turkey or dressing or sweet potatoes around in your refrigerators to eat next week…but is that safe?

It depends upon how long the leftovers sat before being stored. Did you refrigerate perishable foods quickly after your meal?

If not, it may be time to pitch the leftovers or risk foodborne illness – isn’t that a lovely way to say food poisoning?

Bacteria don’t typically change the taste, smell, or look, you can’t tell until the nasty germs attack your digestive tract. Happily, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling.

According to this Forbes article, you should follow these six guidelines for leftover food storage,

  1. Store leftovers within two hours of serving.
  2. Use clean airtight containers or wrapping
  3. Remember the three-to-four-day limit for refrigeration of leftovers.
  4. Froze the leftovers? Remember the three-to-four-month limit for freezers.
  5. Check refrigerator temperature is 40° Fahrenheit or lower.
  6. Heat leftovers to at least 165° Fahrenheit before eating.

My advice, check any leftovers, Thanksgiving or otherwise before you eat them. Better safe than sorry.

14 11, 2022

Gratitude begins with Thankfulness

By |2022-11-14T07:25:56-06:00November 14th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Blogging about thankfulness and gratitude in November is cliché.

On the other hand, there’s no better time than the month when our nation pauses for a whole day to give thanks.

Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested we should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Here are two ideas that can help focus an attitude of thankfulness.

Use social media

Author friend Daphne Dyer is doing 30 Days of Gratitude posts this month. She suggests daily topics and gives her answers. Check out her posts on Facebook for daily gratitude inspiration.

Another friend Shelia Athens uses every Thursday to share gratitude posts all year.

Keep a gratitude list.

It can be hard to think of something to be thankful for, especially when those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days gang up. Research shows over time the act of physically writing out a daily list can produce a grateful attitude.

Writing’s not for you? Try grateful beads to help recall things to be thankful for.

I use a string of ten beads. Three beads remind me to be grateful for three people who touch my life. Six beads for six things, events, and occurrences, and the final bead reminds me to give thanks to our creator.

There are many options on Etsy  Pinterest also has lots of ideas.

I discovered an M&M thankful game. Pick a color, name something I’m thankful for, and eat the M&M. Now that’s a game I can get into. Bring on the M&Ms.

Being grateful is a choice. Wouldn’t it be lovely to seek out things to be thankful for daily rather than only one day or one month per year?

31 10, 2022

Halloween Costumes

By |2022-10-30T18:13:16-05:00October 31st, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

A little synchronicity going on with blogs this Halloween.

Chicken Wrangler Sara’s post for last Friday about crayon costumes she’d made for her children arrived for me to schedule as I was searching through my stash of pictures for a Halloween costume photo to use for my blog today. As I told her, great minds think alike.

My search for the photo of her brother and sister in their costumes turned into more of a search than I wanted. I discovered two things:

#1 The albums I used back in the 1970s were disintegrating. The pictures were fine the photo holders not so much.

Not a big problem. Now I know there’s an issue. I’ll switch all those photos to albums like the other years before cell phone photography and cloud storage.

#2 Daughter #2 (the one in the picture) had the photograph.

That proved to be more of an issue. After texting Daughter #2, I learned she did have the photo I wanted for sure along with several others. All taken with permission. However, she couldn’t find the photo of her and her brother in Halloween costumes.

Thus began the great Halloween picture search at our family gathering to watch the opening game of the World Series. She brought a huge pile of pictures for us to search through as we sipped craft beer and cheered the Astros.

No luck that night so her search continued.

No luck the next day or the next. “No worries,” I said through my disappointment.

Then I got a text late Sunday afternoon: “I never did find the original but suddenly remembered that I had scanned it in on my old phone!!” The photo we’d been searching for was included. I had to laugh at the full circle…snapshot to jpg. Computers to the rescue.

Here’s the picture. Our son is in a devil costume I made and daughter #2 is one of the three blind mice. (Back then Halloweens were kinder and gentler.)

After that buildup, you’ll probably find the photo anti-climactic, but don’t miss the paper decorations in the windows.

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