28 03, 2022

The Story of the Pussy Willow

By |2022-03-25T08:28:08-05:00March 28th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Long ago, when we lived on the east coast, one of my favorite trees was the pussy willow. I loved the puffy little buds on the bare branches that popped up in early March.

Living on the Texas Gulf Coast now, we don’t see pussy willows anymore.

That doesn’t stop me from pulling out my artificial stems with fuzzy catkins, sticking them in a vase, and remembering the legends.

One Native American story tells of a rabbit that climbed to the top of a willow tree one particularly snowy winter. Tired after his climb, he nestled into the treetop and slept the winter away. He woke with the spring thaw and bits of his fuzzy tail clung to the tree. From that day on willow buds feature a tiny bit of fur in honor of spring bunnies.

Another popular fable is the Polish tale of riverside willows saving a family of drowning kittens.

When I taught I shared the stories with my students, then had the kids create catkin cotton balls on sticks and draw pictures of kittens on willow branches.

Whatever the true story behind the little catkin buds, I do miss seeing them. Pussy willows were the first sign of winter’s thaw and always welcomed.

21 03, 2022

Disappearing Spring

By |2022-03-19T09:43:19-05:00March 21st, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

Spring 2022 officially arrived on March 20 at 11:33 a.m. EDT for the Northern Hemisphere.

Traditionally, March 21 has always been considered the first day of Spring. Now astronomers and calendar manufacturers set March 20 for the season start.

 

That little fact had me chasing down the rabbit hole to find out why. What I learned was a surprise.

Why the change?

If you’re not into astronomy, the answer is a bit complicated determined by the direct rays of the Sun shining down on the equator and producing the effect of equal day and night. The cycle repeats as the earth completes its rotation around the sun. Never going further than the Tropic of Cancer in the north and Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere.

What causes the date to move?

Seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time the earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun. But that isn’t a stable position.

  1. Our years have a varying number of days which means the dates shift.
  2. Add the Earth’s elliptical orbit that causes a variation in the strict 90-degree position and the pull of gravity from the other planets on the position of the Earth’s orbit.
  3. Days and nights are never actually equal. The Farmer’s Almanac charts show that daylight is technically longer by several minutes due to the atmosphere of the earth.

The BIG surprise…Springs are getting shorter.

According to The Farmer’s Almanac current season lengths for the Northern Hemisphere are:

Summer — 93.641 days

Autumn — 89.834 days

Winter — 88.994 days

Spring — 92.771 days

Spring is currently being reduced by approximately one minute per year and winter by about one-half a minute per year.

Summer gains the minute lost from spring, and autumn gains the half a minute lost from winter.

That was a disappointing fact I hadn’t expected because I’m not a big fan of hot weather. An extra minute of summer is not a good thing for me.

Knowing I’m losing the beauty of Springtime weather does make me want to enjoy every second of this Spring.

14 03, 2022

Nothing like Irish music to Put Ya in a St. Patrick’s Day Mood

By |2022-03-11T05:55:46-06:00March 14th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day brings all things Irish out around my house, even more so than usual. We feast on Irish stew and soda bread and start our day with scones. The air rings with Irish music.

But traditional Irish music isn’t limited to St. Paddy Day. You’ll often see a bit of toe-tapping going on around here. I could listen all day. And often do.

Music is the heart of Ireland. Whether the fiddler on a corner in Dublin or the man on the country lane blowing his Irish whistle or a late-night session at the local pub, you’ll find toe-tapping, hand-clapping music everywhere. Our visits to the pub sessions were the highlight of all our trips to Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

One night, as a session broke up a native Irish speaker leaned over to me and said, “Ah, I tell ya, it was great music, ‘twould make the water stand out in ya eyes.”And indeed, tears did sparkle in my eyes that night. Nothing is more wonderful than the combination of traditional music and dancing.

Every visit to Ireland should include an Irish evening of traditional music, song, and local dancers. We still talk about our long-ago visit to Bunratty Castle’s Irish Evening at the Corn Barn.

Here’s a commercial video describing the event. I promise it will put you in St. Patrick’s Day mood.

1 11, 2021

Who Reads Romance Novels?

By |2021-10-31T20:19:56-05:00November 1st, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

 The answer might surprise you.

Romance novels are the largest genre of all literature.

  • One-third of all mass-market fiction sold is romance novels.
  • Romance book sales exceed $1 billion every year, selling more than many other genres combined.

Lots of people read romance. The consensus has always been that romance readers are single women in possession of cats and in want of a man.

The 2017 Romance Writers of America study blew that theory out of the water. According to their survey, romance readers are:

  • Eighty-two percent Female
  • Eighteen percent Male
  • Average age: 35–39 years old
  • The highest percentage of readers fall between the ages of 25-34
  • One-fourth of the readers are male

Nielsen BookScan’s data reported people of color make up roughly one-fifth of the romance buyers, while people aged forty-five and older hold more than 40 percent of the market.

Romance fiction is as diverse as our world. Each title is unique in tone and style, setting (any place or time), and varies in levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. That’s why readers come back repeatedly.

Choices include series novels or single titles. Series can mean books issued under a common imprint/series name usually published by Harlequin, Check here for a list of Harlequin’s series lines. Another series type is stories written in specific locales or about specific families. Marie Force and Bella Andre are popular series authors.

Single-title romances, longer romances released individually and not part of a numbered series, are another option. These stories have deeper plots with romance playing the key role.

Entertainment, relaxation, and escape are most often cited as reasons for reading romance novels. The main appeal of the genre lies in the fact that the stories fulfill reader expectations. All romance novels have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending.

Themes vary and whether you enjoy contemporary dialogue, historical settings, mystery, or thrillers, you’ll find a romance novel waiting to offer an escape and a reassurance that things can end on a positive note.

If you haven’t tried a romance, let me suggest my latest release at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Or you can check out my other titles on my website Choose from series and single titles.

You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the escape.

 

4 10, 2021

Philosophy of Change

By |2021-10-05T09:15:52-05:00October 4th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday, Monday Motivations|0 Comments

Seasons change. It’s a fact. Winter gives way to spring, spring to summer; summer to fall, and then we’re back to winter again.

The constancy of seasonal changes is comforting. We anticipate those changes and welcome each season for what it offers.

Yet life changes, whether small or major, bring stress and fear, and worry.

Same as seasons, life is not static, but a flow of change, never staying the same. It’s messy, chaotic, painful, sad, dirty, and never perfect.

Bad things happen. So do good things. It’s part of life’s cycle.

The sad truth is we cannot control every aspect of our lives any more than we can control the seasons.

We roll with the seasonal changes. Complain maybe but accept whatever weather dishes out. Why not flow with changes in life?

Reacting with anger and frustration only causes more stress when in the case of most life changes, we have no control. Change steals our peacefulness. But it doesn’t have to.

Flexibility allows us to adapt to new circumstances and keep our happiness steady. Not much we can do about the weather except adjust our clothing and our thermostat. Why not approach life changes with the same pliancy?

Here are three options to try when life changes are stressing you.

  1. Smile – Smile even if whatever change has thrown your way is not funny. You’ll find a certain amount of detachment which can lead to acceptance.
  2. Breathe – Breathing allows you to calm down and think more rationally.
  3. Pray or Meditate – It refocuses the mind.

Most important remember:

Change is the only constant in this world. Whatever the catastrophic or minor circumstance at the moment, that will change…eventually. Confucius said it best.

27 09, 2021

Fall Decorations and Black Bears

By |2021-09-22T08:14:23-05:00September 27th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Summer’s officially over. Fall is here.

Porches and yards everywhere are adorned with pumpkins, scarecrows, haystacks, and colorful chrysanthemums to welcome the season. Our porch is ready.

Why are black bears part of our fall decoration? They are a holdover from our days living in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Fall in the forest means black bears, who are actually brown or cinnamon-colored, are everywhere looking to feed up for their long winter hibernation. Every year a bear or two would visit our cabin looking for food.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes one would even come up onto the front porch.

 

We kinda looked forward to their visits every year.

 

 

 

When we moved back to Texas, we knew we’d miss seeing them. So before we left, I went in search of a souvenir bear for our new porch to remind us. A friend gifted me Bert, the little grey bear stand.

I found Barney Bear at a gift shop called The Cabin. Now Barney greets our front door guests decked out for the seasons.

Happy Fall Y’all!

13 09, 2021

Why I love Autumn

By |2021-09-08T06:28:03-05:00September 13th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

    Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

I love this time of year. Autumn signals new beginnings to me.

A fresh start. A new year.

Most of my life has been spent in school in one form or another—kindergarten, elementary, junior high, high school, undergraduate, graduate, Sunday school, Bible school, teacher training classes, writer craft classes, computer classes.

Plus, all those years of teaching.

A whole lot of my life has restarted every September.

I so looked forward to those new notebooks, and pens and pencils, and a new school year. Even today, it takes every bit of restraint I can muster to stay away from the school supply aisles when shopping. I will always need another new pen or notebook…for my writing, of course.

The other things I love about September are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The first Jewish holiday celebrates the start of the Jewish New Year with challah bread made with apples and raisins and dipped in honey. Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement is spent in prayer and fasting.

I’m not Jewish and, as far as I know, I have no distant genealogical Jewish DNA anywhere. I do have many good Jewish friends who share their holiday traditions with me. The idea of beginning a new year in September with a clean slate is what I like about their fall holy days.

I also like that September brings a drop in temperature—if you live someplace besides Texas. Temperatures dropping from 99-100 to 90-93 as not a true temperature change as far as I’m concerned. It’s still hot.

But mornings are cooler with temperatures dipping into the high 70s and that gives a hint of Autumn, my favorite time of the year.

If you are Jewish, I wish you Shana Tova, a week late. And Tzom Kal a couple of days early. To everyone else, Happy September.

30 08, 2021

Poached eggs and Pliers

By |2021-08-31T07:48:07-05:00August 30th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Poached eggs are a frequent treat for breakfast around here.

We could go to a nearby Mickey D’s and buy one, but homemade is so much tastier. I use only half of the English muffin and no cheese so homemade also has fewer calories.

My egg poaching pan is ancient. A wedding gift almost sixty years ago. It’s lightweight aluminum which means it heats quickly and stays hot.

I’ve never understood why the pan has three egg cups. Seems to me, four would make more sense. There are larger pans and smaller ones, but three egg cups work well for us. Two eggs for hubby-dear and one for me.

Besides my egg poacher pan, I also need pliers when I prepare our breakfast.

You see, steam from the boiling water that cooks the eggs to perfection burns my hand and the egg cups get very hot. That little tab you grip to lift the egg cups out is too small to grip barehanded.

A potholder is too large. The egg cup frequently slips from my hand and goes splat on the plate. Not a pretty presentation.

The solution, for me, is to use pliers to lift the egg cup. I can grip securely, slid the egg out, and have a picture-perfect serving.

I do get strange looks whenever anyone watches me use the pliers. Once I explain why most people admit it makes sense.

Okay, not everyone. Some still think poached eggs and pliers are a weird combination. But it works for me.

16 08, 2021

My Potting Bench Helper

By |2021-08-15T07:13:30-05:00August 16th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Recently someone offered to let me dig seedlings from their white althea or what my daddy called Rose of Sharon.

The one in my yard is purple .

A white flower would complement it and the pink Confederate roses nicely.

 

 

I gathered my bucket and shovel and off I went. When I got home, I immediately potted the seedlings.

This fellow appeared to help me.

He’d been hiding under the potting soil bag and hopped to the wall.

I wasn’t surprised. We have a pond and often see—and hear the croaking. They serenade us nightly. Loudly.

Only those on the back porch and around the flower beds are brown. We call them toads. This was the first bright green I’d seen.

So, was this fellow a young toad yet to turn brown or a green frog?

That question led to a Goggle rabbit hole that consumed an hour. I learned more stuff about toads vs frogs than I will ever need to know.

I’ll save you some time. Here’s a chart explaining the difference.

Upon close examination, I’ve decided my potting helper was a frog. Do you agree?

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