Make Me Think Monday

3 06, 2024

June Weddings and Wedding Dresses

By |2024-05-25T13:20:08-05:00June 3rd, 2024|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

June is the most popular month for weddings. 

But why?

According to Bridetide, there are several reasons:

Weather

Temperatures are moderate in June, not too warm and rarely too cold, making outdoor weddings a choice.

Flowers

June offers a wider (and cheaper) choice of colorful flowers to help lower the cost of a wedding.

Favor from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

Romans planned weddings in June believing their marriage would be showered with luck and good wishes from the gods above. The tradition continued.

Historical reasons include:

Harvest

Wedding dates in the past were chosen based on peak harvest times. If you married in June, a summer pregnancy would still be early enough in the season that a wife could help with manual work during that year’s harvest period. A spring birth meant the recovered bride would be able to help in the next year’s harvest.

Bathing

At one time in our culture, regular bathing was a once-a-year event usually during the last part of May or the beginning of June. A June wedding meant the couple would have had their “annual bath” and were the most presentable (less stinky).

Back in 1938, my parents scheduled a June wedding most likely because of the weather. We live in Texas and it’s not yet unbearably hot. Her mother made her wedding dress of imported Alençon lace.

It’s a wedding dress with a unique story to tell.

Twenty-five years after my mother and father’s June wedding, I wore the same dress.

We chose our non-June wedding date for practical reasons. Back then, the Memorial Day holiday was celebrated on May 30 and that year it was a Thursday, the day we married. We honeymooned nearby over the weekend and returned on Monday to classes and jobs.

Twenty-four years later, our daughter aka Chicken Wrangler Sara wore the dress at her wedding. Sara chose the second most popular month for weddings – August.

Three times a firstborn daughter has worn the beautiful hand-stitched dress. Each time with only minor alterations.

My mother was only four feet eleven inches tall, so my grandmother let the hem out for me to wear, then I added lace to the hem for my daughter, who was a couple of inches taller than I am.

Between weddings, the dress stays tucked safely in a cedar chest which was originally my mother’s hope chest.

22 04, 2024

Flowers, Showers, and Petrichor

By |2024-04-22T08:28:00-05:00April 22nd, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

The month of April means time to bring out rain boots and umbrellas and smell the scent of rain in the air.

That distinct scent has a name – petrichor. It’s the smell of the oil that’s released from the Earth into the air before rain begins to fall. Scientists suggest it’s familiar because we inherited an affection for the smell from our ancestors who relied on rainy weather for survival.

April also means hearing that age-old saying April Showers Bring May Flowers.

The poem originated in 1157 in a collection of Thomas Tusser’s writings titled, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry.” His version:

Sweet April showers Do spring May flowers

Tusser wasn’t the first writer to write about April showers. At the end of the Fourteenth Century, legendary poet Geoffrey Chaucer had his own say on April in “The Canterbury Tales.” His version goes:

“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;”

Translated:

“When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;”

Not exactly the same as our familiar poem, but close enough that we can call Geoffrey Chaucer the grandfather of our familiar saying.

As days grow warmer, genetically hard-wired plants begin to push through the thawing soil as frosts end. Those April rain showers help nutrients reach the roots faster and the ecosystem begins its activity anew.

Whether you sing in the rain or grumble inside on rainy days, think about what’s to come. Those dark days do bring beautiful flowers. So, while you’re gathering rain gear, dig out those flower vases for May’s flowers.

15 04, 2024

An Author’s Conundrum – Getting Book Reviews

By |2024-04-14T07:36:04-05:00April 15th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

I’m a writer and I’m a reader. When I finish reading a book, I write a review.

Why do I take the time? To help the author and other readers.

Independent epublishing has generated a flooded marketplace of book choices. That ocean of available works makes knowing which book to select difficult. With book-buying budgets limited, book reviews can help readers make decisions.

So when I read an enjoyable book, I share the news by writing a review.

As an author, I also recognize that reviews posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks are critical for sales whether you’re a new or established author.

Yes, I know some authors defraud the online review systems, and some reviewers use their power to target and destroy. Thank goodness, those types are in the minority and quickly dealt with.

I’m not saying don’t post a critical review if you don’t like a book. Most authors welcome an honest evaluation of their work if it’s in the form of constructive criticism, not trashing.

Finding reviewers is a major conundrum for authors. The validity of a review by family and friends can be questionable. You’ll find most retailers don’t allow family and friend review postings, if the bots catch the link between reviewer and author.

Reviewers who are paid to write book or movie reviews can be extremely expensive. Small publishing houses and indie authors can’t afford to use those services, instead, they rely on readers spreading the news.

Why is coaxing a reader to write a review so hard? Maybe because it brings back painful memories of those dreaded book reports we had to do when we were in school.

Whatever the reason readers don’t write reviews, I wish more readers understood how helpful reviews are for an author.

The process of posting a review is easy. Many Kindle books offer a link to review at the end. Reviews don’t have to be lengthy or formal. You can also leave star reviews.

Next time you finish a book, why not leave a review or stars?

8 04, 2024

It’s Poetry Month!

By |2024-04-07T07:44:02-05:00April 8th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

April is National Poetry Month. Poets.org has provided opportunities and activities to celebrate poetry and poets.

One of my favorite poems is about a realio, trulio, little pet dragon named Custard by Ogden Nash. I read the poem to my children, greats, and grands so often most of them memorized it.

“The Tale of Custard the Dragon”

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
and Blink said Weeck! which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

You can read the rest of the poem here: https://internetpoem.com/ogden-nash/the-tale-of-custard-the-dragon-poem/

I do love Ogden Nash. Reviewers of his work often criticized him for taking liberties with spelling and rhyme.

Liberties that I find delightful because I have this habit of adding syllables and phrases to words and names too. Grandchildren became Brook E, Abby-Me-Gail, Faith-e-foo, Morg-from-org, and Rachel-Roo. Children: J.Beetle, Sa-RA, Stefoney, etc. It always brought a smile to their faces until they hit their teen years.

I love the Custard dragon poem so much when I saw this dragon welded from spare farm parts at a craft fair, I had to add him to the guard the patio.

Enjoy poetry month! You can find a chronological list of other poems by Ogden Nash here: http://www.ogdennash.org/ogden_nash_titles.htm

1 04, 2024

April Fools’ Day

By |2024-03-30T08:28:29-05:00April 1st, 2024|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Today is officially the day when pranks and pranksters abound. Be alert!

An April fool is the victim of a joke or trick played on April 1st hence the name April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day.

A little aside here, finding a grammatically correct meme wasn’t easy. The day is April Fools’ Day. There are multiple fools in the world. This is their holiday hence the s apostrophe.

Although dictionaries show both fools’ and fool’s, the plural possessive makes the best logical sense to me.

Whichever way you spell it, playing jokes and tricking people has been around for centuries, but no one knows its origins for sure.

My favorite theory is April Fools’ Day is of French origin and dates to 1582 when the Council of Trent required the French to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.

Those who embraced the new calendar started to mock the reluctant ones, offering false presents, and playing tricks on them. Those tricked or fooled are called April fools or Poisson d’avril (April Fish).

Eventually, the fish name-calling tradition evolved into the exchange of fish-shaped cakes and then paper fish associated with jokes and hoaxes.

School-aged children in France design paper fish to stick on the backs of unsuspecting people.

Much like children in the US create kick me signs.

April Fools’ Day is a popular, widespread day but not an official public holiday in any of the countries where it’s recognized.

No one seems to want to grant formal recognition to a day that allows attaching paper fish or playing pranks on unsuspecting folks.

Wherever April Fools’ Day originated, it’s a perfect day to enjoy some laughter with family, friends, and coworkers.

Smiles and laughs are important for a balanced life, don’t you think?

25 03, 2024

A Reminder: Back Up Your World on March 31, World Backup Day

By |2024-03-24T17:15:10-05:00March 25th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

 We’ve heard news stories of data breaches at corporations.

Too many of us have had at least one notice of our secure data being captured by the ever-increasing threat of ransomware and viruses.

Yet, most of us haven’t ever heard of World Backup Day unless we’ve worked in a tech field.

Way back when computers were first entering the world of education, I taught computer literacy.No, not computer science. I’m not a techie. I have no formal computer science training.

I taught seventh and eighth-grade students word processing, databases, spreadsheets, and basic programming. That gave me a healthy appreciation for backups and protecting data.

In the early onset of computing, we used external discs for storage, and I promise there is nothing sadder in the world than a twelve or fourteen-year-old whose disk went missing or became corrupt and all their work lost.

To this day, I have backups of backups following the  3-2-1 rule.

  • Three copies of everything
  • Stored on two different pieces of media,
  • One of which is off-site and immutable.

I back up daily. All my published books have a zip drive along with at least one hard copy. Personal files are saved to an external drive. I use multiple cloud storage services, zip drive USBs, and print critical files.

Like I said, I believe in backing up and not just one day a year.

Do you back up your data?

We can’t be responsible for corporations or other places where our data resides, but personal computer data is our responsibility.

That’s why I’m sharing this infographic about World Backup Day from the University of Washington.

11 03, 2024

The Sayings of March

By |2024-03-11T08:53:34-05:00March 11th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

March always brings two sayings to mind. The origins and meanings of both fascinate me.

The first is  “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”

Old Man Winter doesn’t want to turn loose which is why March is said to come in like a lion—roaring with snow, ice, blustery winds, and cold temperatures—and end on a gentle, spring note.

While the adage most likely refers to the weather, other sources trace its origins to the stars. In the night sky, you can see two constellations on the western horizon – Leo the Lion and Aries the Ram (or lamb).

Leo rises in early March, coming in “like a lion.” By the end of the month, Leo is overhead, while Aries is setting on the western horizon. Hence, the month goes out like a lamb.

Another theory claims the saying is biblical and the animal references are symbolic. The problem is that conjecture is theologically inaccurate. Jesus came to earth as a lamb and will return as the Lion of Judah, backward from the myth.

Around here, our March arrived with temperatures soaring to the eighties and high winds! No snow, no cold. Kinda contradicts the saying.

Perhaps the best solution for what the saying means is to take it at face value. March may start with fierce weather, but it’s always a clear signal spring is coming.

Next, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

I first heard the saying while studying William Shakespeare‘s Julius Caesar in high school. You’re probably familiar with the soothsayer’s warning too.

Not only did Shakespeare’s words stick, but the date, March 15 became branded with a dark and gloomy connotation.

But the origin of the phrase was not sinister. March 15 was a normal day in the Roman calendar meaning halfway through the month and coincided with the rise of the full moon.

Ides comes from the old Latin verb iduare, which meant “to divide.” Every month has an Ides. In March, May, July, and October ides fell on the 15th, and in the other months, it came on the 13th.

During Roman times, the March ides was the deadline for settling debts. So perhaps, some Romans did consider the date ominous even before Shakespeare dramatized the 44 B.C. assassination of Julius Caesar.

Unfortunately, the soothsayer’s warning in Shakespeare’s play forever linked the date with bad luck.

Check out these things associated with March 15:

  1.  Smithsonian list of historical events that have occurred on March 15.
  2. The UK’s Independent’s five worst events that have happened on March 15

Terrible things can happen any day. So can good things:

11 Wonderful Things That Have Happened on the Ides of March

If I should receive any warnings about the Ides of March, I’m going to side with caution. I don’t want a day like the one Julius Caesar had.

19 02, 2024

A Smile

By |2024-02-16T16:18:37-06:00February 19th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Smiles are powerful.

Smiles breed trust, make you happier, and help you to live longer because “smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

We smile when our pictures are taken.

We smile at babies and puppies.

We smile politely at friends or strangers.

How do we tell which smiles are genuine and which smiles are fake?

SOURCE: The Science of Smiling: A Guide to The World’s Most Powerful Gesture

The key to recognizing a genuine smile is to check the eyes. True smiles are called the Duchenne smiles, named after the scientist who identified two types of smiles as the “mouth corners”-only smile and the “eye socket” one.

Crinkly eyes = a real smile.

No wrinkles around the eyes, the smile’s a fake, or the result of too much Botox.

Intense fake smiles can sometimes produce lines around the eyes. If the cheeks bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting, then the smile is genuine.

Experts agree when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold – the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid – moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.

Isn’t that a genuine smile if you ever saw one?

Fake or genuine smiles are powerful. They spread optimism, happiness, and joy. Most of all smiles are contagious.

Leo F. Buscaglia says it best:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Give someone a genuine smile today.

6 11, 2023

Choosing Words for a November Attitude

By |2023-11-05T12:22:25-06:00November 6th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” ― J.K. Rowling

I agree with J.K. Rowling. Words are magic and that magic is found in how we choose to use them.

The ability to “create meaning from words” –– wordsmithing–– is such a wonderful gift.

As a writer, I consider myself a wordsmith and I spend my days wordsmithing. I look for not just any word but the perfect word to convey my meaning. For example, when describing a character’s departure, I could say.

He left.

He stormed out.

He ambled away.

He darted away.

He wandered away.

Each sentence suggests a different departure. I make the right choice based on the contextual meaning I want to convey to my reader.

We are all wordsmiths whether we’re writers or not.

Sometimes we do not give much care to what’s written or said. If you spend much time on social media, I’m sure you’ve noticed this.

Being a wise wordsmith is a choice. And we can only control our choices, not the choices others make.

We need to make our word selections carefully. Poor or careless word choices can inflict damage both physically and emotionally.

November is all about being appreciative. Good wordsmithing promotes good gratitude.

Try these four things to improve your wordsmithing skills and help cultivate a November attitude:

  1. Filter your thoughts before you speak. Drop thoughts that might bring negative feelings or trouble.
  1. Commit to no complaints and no gossip about anything or anyone, including yourself.
  1. Choose words to express appreciation first, no matter how small, if a complaint is unavoidable.
  1. Make a concerted effort to say thank you more often. Kind words generate happy feelings in you and those to whom you are speaking.

Can you add anything else to the list?

30 10, 2023

Halloween Decorations

By |2023-10-12T15:37:58-05:00October 30th, 2023|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Halloween yard decorations have become as popular as Christmas decorating.

Ghosts swing from trees to greet early morning walkers in neighborhoods. Jack-o-lanterns light the way in the late afternoon. Witches crashed into trees and giant spiders in spidery webs crawl on the shrubbery.

In the 1900s, Halloween wasn’t so much about zombies and gruesome headless monsters, tombstones and skeletons, or other scary, scary things like spook houses and ghost tours. Back then, crepe paper pumpkins, plastic candy containers, painted tin noisemakers, and paper lanterns were the items of choice for a happy Halloween.

Not many of these items are around today because people used them and then threw them away. Last week, I dug out what’s left of my vintage decorations.

Only a few things are still around:

Pumpkins constructed from honeycomb tissue.

A gauze mask

A paper-mache jack-o-lantern

A tin noisemaker

A couple of black cats I used for old bulletin board posters and chalk tray decorations in classrooms

Check out Kovels’ Pinterest page here to see other vintage Halloween collectibles

Do you have a future Halloween collectible among your Halloween decorations?

Antique experts predict these items might be a future collectible:

  1. Special holiday bottles and cans with special holiday flavors like Gruesome Grape, Spooky Strawberry, and Orange Ogre. Look for other limited-edition plastic bottles with scary faces.
  2. Plastic candy containers either reproductions of the 1950s and ’60s figures and jack-o-lanterns or contemporary plastic decorations with clever designs.
  3. Zombies and vampires of plastic, rubber, or resin-like zombie-hand candleholders.
  4. Charm bracelets with pumpkins, bats, and black cats; jointed skeleton earrings decorated with rhinestones and spider rings.
  5. Motion, or voice, activated figures that light up or emit scary sounds and music. Look for pumpkin men, witches, vampires, black cats, and body parts like crawly hands.
  6. Paper or plastic masks, costumes, treat bags, and dolls.

If you’re thinking about increasing your collection, there’ll be some good buys at reduced prices after Halloween, and don’t throw away the items you have. You might have some vintage treasures like mine one day.

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