27 06, 2022

Scrabble and the Heat

By |2022-06-26T08:01:38-05:00June 27th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

It’s like living in hades in Texas right now. Probably hot where you live too. I’m a native Texan. I grew up without air-conditioning. You’d think I’d be used to hot summers.

Not this heat though. Going outside during the peak afternoon hours is unthinkable. We stay inside.

There’s always a jigsaw puzzle calling to be finished when it’s too hot to be outside. This summer we started afternoon game time. Card games, board games like Parcheesi, and dominoes.

Word games are very popular these days. Wordle scores keep popping up on social media. You’ll find dozens of other varieties, online and off. All are fun and challenging, but Scrabble, the board game, is my favorite.

We used to play Scrabble a lot. It kinda got forgotten. Not anymore. We rediscovered our love of Scrabble when we pulled the deluxe board that swivels from the game cabinet.

Now every afternoon it’s game on!

And we’re keeping score. At this point, I’m behind but moving up fast.

Hubby was the reigning 50-point word champ.

For non-Scrabble players, that’s when you use all seven of your letters to make a word and earn the word score plus a bonus of 50 points.

Recently I’ve managed the feat twice with the opening word

Scrabble was created in 1933, and there are over 121 billion Scrabble versions sold worldwide in 31 different languages, even a Braille version.

Why do so many people love Scrabble?

Mainly because it’s fun and challenging, but there are substantial benefits to playing. Here are ten:

  1. Scrabble teaches you the vocabulary
  2. Scrabble helps develop your intellectual abilities
  3. Scrabble teaches you strategy
  4. Scrabble encourages social cooperation and bonding
  5. Scrabble helps improve your emotional well-being and personal confidence
  6. Scrabble improves creativity
  7. Scrabble develops concentration
  8. Scrabble fosters learning through creative play
  9. Scrabble helps boosts the immune system
  10. Scrabble makes you happy

That last one is especially true if you live in Texas right now.

20 06, 2022

A Twofer Holiday and One’s New

By |2022-06-19T12:52:42-05:00June 20th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

This month Father’s Day and Juneteenth fell on the same day–June 19. Lots of social media about the Father’s Day holiday.Not so much about Juneteenth. It may be new to you if you’ve never lived in Texas.

Also known as “Jubilee Day,” “Black Independence Day,” and “Freedom Day, June 19 only became a national holiday last year.

Read President Biden’s proclamation HERE.

Emancipation of slaves at the end of the Civil War took effect in 1863 with President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, sadly, however, slaves in Texas would not be freed until two years later on June 19, 1865. On that day, 2,000 troops arrived in Galveston Bay and announced the freedom of enslaved Black people by executive decree.

“Juneteenth” has been celebrated in Texas ever since then with community gatherings filled with food, music, and fellowship. Now it’s a national day to celebrate freedom.

Learn more about the history of Juneteenth HERE.

If you didn’t celebrate Freedom Day yesterday, no worries. Mark your calendar for next year.

We also honored our fathers—a birth father, a stepfather, a relative or friend, whoever served in a father role. My father is gone now so the day is always a bit sad for me, but old pictures and memories bring a smile.

13 06, 2022

Wandering Writer and Stories

By |2022-06-03T08:54:31-05:00June 13th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|1 Comment

I am a wanderer. I love to see the world and the people in it. Oftentimes my wandering is dictated by outside forces, but I’ve always been ready to go.

I’ve wandered on foot, by plane, by bicycle, and by car.

I will meander through houses, mine and others, the woods and neighborhoods, stores, through cities and towns near and far.

Wherever I wander, stories find me and the memories of those encounters stay with me. Here are three that will always make me smile.

Once in Ireland, sitting at a Dublin train station, an older woman sat beside me and began to share about her family and her country. She told me she was returning home after being with her daughter, who had given birth to their twelfth grandchild. Another grandson, she said with pride in her eyes.

Yes, there were pictures and lovely tales of her family told as only the Irish can spin.

Recently in a grocery store not far from home, a young woman waiting behind me in the checkout line patted the multi-colored headscarf she wore. “Chemo,” she said. Her eyes misted. She shared her journey with breast cancer. I couldn’t stop myself I squeezed around my full cart of groceries and hugged her.

Walking with my dogs when we lived in the Rio Grande Forest always brought stories. Once a little girl playing outside at one of the rental cabins nearby ask to pet the dogs. My Old English loved on her. The Maltese jumped around all jealous then relaxed when she petted him too. As we walked away, the youngster plucked a purple wildflower and rushed over to give it to me.

Life is filled with so many chance meetings. Each encounter is unique, and I come away with a myriad of feelings from each.

Those characters and emotions from my wandering encounters frequently find their way into my stories. Not the specifics, of course, but the emotions and characterizations.

What about you? Do stories find you in your wanderings?

6 06, 2022

7 Reasons to Read this Summer or Any Time

By |2022-06-05T08:04:38-05:00June 6th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Summertime signals lazy days of relaxing. Time to sit under the shade of the big oak tree, splash in the pool, or lounge on the porch swing, and do my favorite thing…read.

Why read? To quote Joseph Addison:

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Research backs up his words. Consider these seven reasons to read this summer or any time.

  1. Reading strengthens the brain. As your reading ability matures, those networks also get stronger and more sophisticated. Readers are two and a half times less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s later in life.
  1. Reading reduces stress. A study showed reading only 6 minutes a day reduces stress by 68%.
  1. Reading can aid in falling asleep. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend reading as part of a regular sleep routine.
  1. Reading helps reduce depression. Reading fiction provides a temporary escape from your world into the experiences of the characters. And reading nonfiction self-help books can teach strategies to help manage symptoms.
  1. Reading fiction builds empathy by exposing us to life circumstances that are very different from our own. We experience the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession, or age in fiction. This can influence how we relate to others in the real world.
  1. Reading ignites imagination and stimulates the memory centers of your mind. That, in turn, helps you recall information and expands your vocabulary.
  1. Reading can lengthen life span. A twelve-year study of 3,635 adult participants showed those who read books survived around two years longer than those who didn’t read.

With those great reasons and the plethora of books available from libraries and online stores, why not grab a book and go read now? That’s what I’m going to do.

30 05, 2022

Memorial Day and TAPS

By |2022-05-27T10:49:03-05:00May 30th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

On Memorial Day, I’m reminded of my days living on military bases and hearing TAPS played from the base speaker at the day’s end. We stopped what we were doing and stood at attention. The day had ended.

Hearing TAPS at military funerals always brings a tear to my eyes. I agree with Master Sergeant Jari A Villanueva, USAF:

“There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.”

There are no “official” words to Taps. These are the most popular and the ones that run through my head when the bugler plays.

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Today, along with the hot dogs, hamburgers, and swimming we associate with Memorial Day, let’s honor and remember those who have gone before.

16 05, 2022

How to Write An Online Book Review

By |2022-05-14T12:24:34-05:00May 16th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Book reports were my favorite thing when I was in school. First, because I got to read books, and second because I got to tell others about what I’d read.

Today I call my book reports reviews.

I’m constantly giving oral book reports in the form of “Have you read such and such?” and/or posting written reviews for the books I love on social media and at e-retailers where I’ve purchased the book.

As an author, I know how important reviews are for the authors. And, really, who doesn’t like to hear they’ve done a good job?

Plus, in the crazy world of online shopping, reviews help authors get recognized and ultimately can lead to sales.

Unsure how to write a review? It isn’t difficult.

A review doesn’t have to be lengthy or detailed like those book reports we did for school. There’s not going to be a grade. Even a sentence or two can convey your thoughts about a book.

“This story was well-told. I fell in love with the hero on the first page.”

“Always pleased with stories by this author.”

Reviews, also like book reports, also don’t have to be all glowing. You can say something like,

“So disappointed. Not up to her/his usual standard.”

“Predictable, but still a good read.”

Let me encourage you to post an online book review. It’s not hard. Here’s a HOW-TO using one of my books on Amazon.

STEP 1:

Sign in and Search for the book page on Amazon.

STEP 2:

Click on the stars or where it says ratings. 

STEP 3:

That will move you down the page to the reviews.

STEP #4:

Click on the box that says write a customer review. That will open the review writing page.

STEP #5

-Click the number of stars you’re giving and then fill in the blank boxes

-When you finish, click submit.

STEP #6

Wait for Amazon to send you an email that your review has been posted and check out your book report on the book’s sales page.

You can do it. Go make an author smile.

25 04, 2022

And Then There Was No Internet

By |2022-04-25T12:11:03-05:00April 25th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|4 Comments

Our internet provider had a major outage recently. No warning. No explanation.

I suspect one of the construction crews accidentally cut a fiber-optic cable. We have lots of roadwork and new home construction going on around us. The city is encroaching on our quiet little community.

No power, we’re used to that but having power without internet—that was weird.

To make things worse, we switched to streaming from the same provider so we had no Netflix or Amazon Prime. No series to binge after dinner. We found ourselves thrust back to pre-internet days.

All was not lost though.

I had never tossed our DVD/VCR player or favorite DVDs and VHS tapes in any of my downsize purge frenzies.

We had options.

We spent a very enjoyable evening watching one of our favorite DVD movies from 2001, Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

Watching their love story made me want to write a romance novel titled “Come What May.”

After the movie, we headed to bed to read. Normally we say, “One more episode. It’s not too late.” and end up staying up too late to read.

Not a bad day overall.

One day without internet was a nice break, but no internet at all? No thank you.

18 04, 2022

Where have Easter Bonnets and Easter Parades gone?

By |2022-04-17T07:19:52-05:00April 18th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

There wasn’t a single Easter bonnet at my church service yesterday. No Easter Parade. Not surprising. These traditions seem to have all but disappeared.

However, I’m guessing many of us have pictures like this buried in old photo albums.

Once upon a time, it was very important to have not only a new bonnet but a new dress for Easter Sunday too.

Why new clothes?

It’s said the early church converts wore white garments on Sunday to identify themselves with Christ. The white symbolized purity and newness of life. Following that tradition, people bought new clothes to wear on Easter. Often, at least in our family, that new dress was our only Sunday dress and worn only for church or special occasions.

Easter parades are a different story. Yes, Virginia, there was truly an Easter parade in New York City from St. Patrick’s Cathedral down Fifth Avenue from the 1870s through the 1950s.

That tradition is attributed to Irving Berlin’s song titled In Your Easter Bonnet from the 1948 movie Easter Parade

People, in new and fashionable clothing, strolled or rode in carriages down Fifth Avenue be seen.

The official parade’s popularity declined significantly as people came to view the frolic in finery as an ostentatious display of wealth and beauty. These days you won’t see a single person strolling down the Avenue on Easter Sunday.

I agree that Easter Parades are a little over the top, but tradition is important. Now that the little ones are grown, I miss hiding colorful eggs for them to find.

What Easter traditions does your family still share?

11 04, 2022

Pollen and Planting Time

By |2022-04-10T10:47:34-05:00April 11th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Spring has sprung in Rosehill, Texas. Azaleas are bursting with blooms. White blossoms fill Bradford pear trees. Unfortunately, pollen from pines, oaks, and every green tree is also clogging the air. Daily pollen counts here are double, triple previous years.

Pollenpocalypse may be upon us, but the gardener in me won’t be stopped.

Morning Glory seeds need to be planted and zinnia seeds dried from last year’s blooms must be spread in the flower beds.

Plus, Confederate Rose trimmings rooted over the winter have leafy growth. Time to get the sticks into the ground so those twigs can grow hardly roots.

If you’re not familiar with a Confederate rose, this is one.

The showy blooms, 4 to 6 inches wide, appear in fall. They open white, fade to pink, and, as they age, end up red. All three colors can appear on the same plant at the same time. It’s not a rose at all but a species of hibiscus native to China (Hibiscus mutabilis).

It’s a favorite Southern passalong plant since it’s so easy to propagate. The easiest way to reproduce the plant is to simply put cuttings in water like I did.

Legend says the flowers were used to soak up the blood spilled on Confederate battlefields and hence the name Confederate. In the book Passalong Plants, Felder Rushing says ladies in Mobile, Alabama gave these flowers to Confederate soldiers returning home from the war. He’s a well-known authority on all things southern especially gardening things so it’s bound to be true.

Another name is “cotton rose” because its leaves resemble cotton foliage and its round flower buds resemble cotton bolls.

The Confederate rose can be either a small tree, a perennial, or an annual.

One good thing that’s come from Global Warming is more people are being introduced to the Confederate rose.

In places that don’t have winter freezes, it can get grow thirty feet tall. What a sight to see so many multi-colored flowers each fall.

The best thing about Confederate Roses…

All you need to do is ask a friend to have one in your yard. Don’t be shy about asking. It’s what we do down here. It’s perfectly acceptable.

4 04, 2022

The King’s English isn’t always English

By |2022-04-02T13:15:40-05:00April 4th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

I learned that many years ago from my British partner in our antique business. With his King’s English and my Texas English, understanding one another was frequently a challenge.

As we traveled the English countryside on our quest for merchandise, I quickly learned his bobbles and bits were my smalls. My chest of drawers was his bureau. What he called rubbish, I thought garage sale.

He finally gave me a King’s English dictionary so I’d know what he meant.

Lately, we’ve been watching a lot of BritBox mysteries and I’ve been reminded again of all those language differences.

This GrammarChek infographic highlights over sixty U.S.-British English differences.

British vs. American English: 63 Differences (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

What about you? Have you ever had communication issues with someone who spoke the King’s English or watched a British tv series where you needed my King’s English Dictionary to check the meaning of words?

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