Make Me Think Monday

26 09, 2022

One of my Favorite Fall Things

By |2022-09-24T16:47:14-05:00September 26th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

One of my favorite things about September is the moon. It’s always big and bright and seems so close. Moonlight guides my early morning walks with Finnegan.

It’s called a harvest moon.

The name likely sprang from the lips of farmers who, in the days before tractor lights, used its light to gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night.

It’s not truly bigger, brighter, or more pumpkin-colored than other full moons. It just appears to be.

Our moon normally rises on average 50 minutes later every day as the year moves on. A Harvest Moon rises only 30 minutes later. Those twenty minutes make a difference in how big the moon appears.

The Harvest moon isn’t associated with a specific month like other full moons. The moon that rises closest to the autumnal equinox, is called the Harvest Moon.

That was September 10 this year and the night sky put on a dazzling lunar display for skywatchers around the world. Did you see it? If not, check out this Twitter post from Nicholas Isabella.

You can enjoy other fabulous Harvest Moon shots from around the world here.


12 09, 2022

Recognizing a POGO Writer

By |2022-09-11T16:27:03-05:00September 12th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Monday Motivations|1 Comment

Writing careers vary from writer to writer. There’s no policy and procedure manual, no checklist for success. What to do and how to do it is solely up to the individual author. Writers can be successful or sabotage their success.

We tend to sabotage ourselves. In the immortal words of POGO, “We met the enemy and it is us!” Pogo Possum is the anthropomorphic character created by Walt Kelly. The POGO comic strip ran daily from 1948 to 1975. The graphic pictured was for the first Earth Day in 1971.

These are characteristics of POGO writers …

  1. You spend too much time and energy mimicking the writing and style of some other author.

The publishing world already has Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, Steven King, and Nora Roberts. Their success is their success. You can’t copy and get there!

  1. You obsess with following THE RULES.

Don’t get me wrong. Rules are very important guidelines. Writing, on the other hand, is an art form that entails experimentation, innovation, and expansion.

Don’t be so hung up on THE RULES you lose your own sense of story.

  1. You buy into every new way to write or plot that a writing expert suggests.

I’m not saying it’s not necessary to study writing craft. Learning the craft and studying with writing experts is important.

All the classes and workshops in the world are wasted if I’m not producing. Plus, writing experts don’t always know what’s right for the individual. There isn’t one answer.

That’s a self-discovery journey traveled alone. We eventually figure out what works for us.

  1. You’re unable to take criticism or the flip side—believe everything anyone says about your story.

Either position can be fatal.

No denying bad critiques or reviews hurt. Surviving a brutal criticism or review requires an elephant hide and learning to weigh the opinions expressed for exactly what they’re worth then make up your own mind.

It is YOUR story, after all.

Strong writers survive…and often produce better stories from hard critiques or bad reviews.

  1. You’re not writing.

This is the most telling POGO writer sign of all.

All writers struggle with the procrastination parasite from time to time. But a successful writing career requires disciple and focus. Whether moved by the muse or not, a professional goes to the keyboard or grabs a pencil every day.

I know what you’re thinking, authors must promote and develop reader relationships, which cuts into writing time. Very true, but I would argue that the key to gaining recognition and readership (aka success) is writing the next story.

Do you recognize any POGO writer signs in yourself? What can you do to change them?

An earlier version of this post appeared on September 23, 2013.
5 09, 2022

Labor Day Thank You

By |2022-09-04T11:52:59-05:00September 5th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

It’s Labor Day, I want to acknowledge workers and the work they do.

Those who work in farming, ranching, and trucking, or in factories, warehouses, retail stores, and other labor-intensive jobs are the ones who make our country such a great place to live.

Our backbone.

Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, EMTs, and soldiers serve, day in and day out, with no time off for holidays to protect us.

Because y’all do your job, I can do what I love – write. I have to pause here and give a special nod of awe to fellow writers who work full time and come home to write.

Writing is my job. Because so many workers do their jobs, I’m able to do mine. Specific thank yous to

  1. Teachers, college professors, writing workshop presenters, and conference organizers. Because you did your job, I can read and write!
  2. Thank you, farmers, ranchers, truck drivers, and grocery store employees. You do your job and I can shop in comfort at the local market for my family’s needs and meals.
  3. Thank you to carpenters, electricians, plumbers, designers, and builders who provide a roof over my head, heat, and air conditioning. Doing your job provided a safe, dry place for me to work indoors.

Writing is different from other jobs.

We don’t have to clock in or out. We’re not docked if we’re late or choose not to write one day. It’s a solitary job. For the most part, it’s us and the computer or pen and paper. But without all of you doing your job I can’t do mine.

Thank you!

22 08, 2022

Ice Cream Day and Waffles Cones

By |2022-08-21T15:39:11-05:00August 22nd, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Last month was National Ice Cream Month. Did you know?

Me either. But it’s okay.

National Ice Cream Day has been happening every July 17th since President Reagan’s 1984 proclamation. We’ll have another chance to celebrate next year.

I was researching ice cream-related memorabilia for an estate sale when I uncovered Ice Cream Day.

I regularly read Kovels’ Newsletter for current pricing and learn lots of great trivia. One of the newsletters discussed the origins of ice cream cones.

One story claims an 1896 New York City ice cream pushcart vendor named Italo Marchiony wanted to stop customers from carrying away with his serving dishes and invented the edible cone. In 1903 he patented the special mold for waffle cups with sloping sides.

A different account claims a 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair ice cream vendor W.W. Turnbull ran out of paper dishes. He made a deal with a neighboring vendor of zalabia to put his ice cream inside the waffle-like pastry. The rolled-up waffles to hold ice cream were a big hit with fairgoers.

Three years later, Trumbull invented an ice cream cone vending machine.

The Turnbull Cone’s motto: “Eat a cone every day. You’ll feel better in every way.”

I would agree! Wouldn’t you?

A light bulb on the inside keeps cones warm and crispy. Pushing the levers on the outside releases the bottom cone down the chute. One of the vintage machines sold for $800 in 2014.

The idea of edible cones exploded in popularity after the St. Louis World’s Fair and somewhere along the way ice cream businesses like Dairy Queen entered the picture for all ice cream lovers.

Texans call the distinctive Dairy Queen sign the Texas stop sign. I can promise that my vehicle certainly stops far too often.

But only to confirm Mr. Turnbull’s motto, of course.

8 08, 2022

Spellcheckers, Auto-correct, and Pullet Surprise Work

By |2022-08-07T12:16:46-05:00August 8th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Computers, iPads, and iPhones run grammar checkers and spellcheckers built into their operating systems (unless you turn off the function) that are meant to become a collaboration between user and machine.

That should be a good thing, right? Nope. It’s more a kind of word combat between user and machine.

Auto-correct and spell checker follies run amuck all. the. time. thanks to “helpful” computer algorithms.

It’s called the Cupertino Effect and is an unfortunate, aggravating part of writing on a computer since Microsoft Office 97 couldn’t recognize the word cooperation with the hyphen and the spellchecker replaced it with Cupertino, the name of a California town.

To this day, you can still find online documents from international organizations with the word Cupertino where cooperation is intended. For example, a NATO document that has the line, “The Cupertino with our Italian comrades proved to be very fruitful.”

According to one journalist, “Spellcheckers are the enemy of writers and editors as Voldemort is to Harry Potter. Or as our spellchecker would have it, ‘as Voltmeter is to Harry Potter.”

To their credit, leading software companies do steadily expand their wordlists and fine-tune their algorithms to improve their spellcheckers. That’s why older Cupertino-isms have thankfully fallen by the wayside. Only to be replaced by others equally annoying and humorous, unfortunately.

Doesn’t matter how much the techies tinker, the Cupertino effect will always be with us in one form or another.

We’ve all been zinged by spell checker and autocorrect goofs at one time or another. Any “horror” tales with your goofs? Let us know in the comments below.

1 08, 2022

Graphologists and Graphology

By |2022-07-31T12:10:25-05:00August 1st, 2022|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

Written communication is being replaced by computer-generated printing in emails and texts.

When we do handwrite a note, it’s too often difficult to read. I believe that’s because cursive writing and print lettering aren’t taught anymore, but that’s another topic.

I remember copying from a chart like the one pictured daily to improve my penmanship when I was in school. These days you can generate cursive with fonts from sites like this. 

It’s just not the same and it challenges graphologists’ work.

Graphology is the study of handwriting as it reflects the writer’s character, personality, and abilities. A graphologist analyzes handwriting for patterns that identify the psychological state of a person and characteristics of their personality.

There are 5,000 personality traits distinguishable by the size of your letters, spacing between words, and shapes of letters. Their analysis can be used to determine the authenticity of signatures in forgery cases or reveal whether you are lying or not. A close look at your handwriting can also aid doctors in medical diagnosis.

It’s a fascinating science, but I’m wondering as we increasingly rely on computers and texting and not our penmanship if that will change the analysis process and findings. What do you think?

Check out the Graphology infographic at  and – for fun – analyze a sample of your handwriting. My analysis came remarkably close. Will yours?

Let me know what you discover in the comments.

25 07, 2022

It’s Finnegan’s Birthday

By |2022-07-24T12:25:26-05:00July 25th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

Somewhere back in time, I fell in love with Old English sheepdogs. We adopted a mixed-breed puppy (part OES and part New Foundland). He and his litter had been found abandoned in the snow. The puppies were raised in the science lab at our daughter’s high school in Connecticut.

Azariah was big, black, and kinda scary. He didn’t much care to be told what to do and had bitten several people. When we moved to Texas, he didn’t.

Because I loved Connecticut and wasn’t happy about moving back to heat and humidity, hubby-dear promised another real OES puppy and a swimming pool. That made the idea of a move far more attractive.

Obadiah arrived. He too was big, but not scary. He loved to play hide and seek with the children. He even let our daughter dress him in her softball shirt.

Obie’s face always greeted me in the front window whenever I came home from my teaching day. The dog could tell time! Obie was a terrific dog and he instilled an even stronger love for the breed. Sadly, an OES lifespan is 10-12 years and we lost Obie.

Things were sad around our house that holiday season until my Christmas present arrived-you guessed it, an AKC Old English puppy-we named Micah Bear. He was another great dog. Our nest was emptying and he filled the space as only an OES can.

He was joined by Bernie a terrier mix and Rhinestone, a rescue OES. Our walks with the three dogs stopped traffic. We lost Rhinestone and Bernie and then Micah Bear, and decided we’d go dogless.

That did not last.

Tobias Bear flew in from Florida to join our family. He was a love with all the fun traits of OES in abundance. He was intelligent, playful, sociable, bubbly, loving, and adaptable. When we added a Maltese brother, he loved him too.


We lost Toby before our return to Texas and decided Buster the Maltese was pet enough. After a couple of months, all three of us were so depressed without our Toby that we started looking for another OES.

Micah Bear had come from Bugaboo Kennel in Colorado Springs so we hopped in the car and drove four hours from our mountain home to meet another puppy who would be our next OES, Finnegan MacCool.

He was a hairy bundle of joy who loved being held from the first moment we saw him. That was charming when he was a puppy.

Now full grown and ninety-four pounds it can get trickly fitting on laps.

He’s my writing buddy, always laying nearby in front of a fan because we’re back in Texas.

Time is moving far too fast.  Finn will be six on July 27.

Happy Birthday, Finn.

18 07, 2022

Guest Book Tradition

By |2022-07-17T07:01:29-05:00July 18th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

When you read the blog title, bet you thought about a guest book at a wedding or funeral or the cute welcome books at bed and breakfast inns or Airbnbs. There are those, but that’s not our guest book tradition.

We welcome guests to our home with our guest book and a cead mile failte plaque, which is the Irish greeting that means “A hundred thousand welcomes.”

Asking our guests to sign our guest book is a tradition we started when we were first married, a long time ago. As we moved around the country and world, we’ve always had a guest book. Guests who come for dinner or stay longer have filled more than one.

When we lived in Colorado, every summer our home overflowed with guests escaping the heat of their hometowns. Now that we are back in hot, humid Texas the guest book pages aren’t filling near as fast.

We have other guest books. The one from our wedding, and all the guest books listing those who paid their condolences at family funerals. We rarely look at those, but I’m so glad we have kept our home guest books.

We have signatures of family and friends from far and near. We even have Earl Campbell’s signature from his days as the Houston Oilers’ star running back. It’s fun to skim through the names and remember the occasion. We smile every time from fond memories with our guests.

If you don’t use a guest book in your home, and you’re interested in starting to use one, there are some great ideas on Pinterest. A lot are for wedding guest books but are easily adapted for home guest books.

This is a cute blog about a young couple and their guest book. They share their reasons for having a guest book and how they chose from all the options.

4 07, 2022

All-American Holiday Trivia

By |2022-07-01T10:22:37-05:00July 4th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Every year in the United States July 4th celebrates the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

text of U.S. constitutionTechnically, independence was declared on July 2 and the Declaration of Independence wasn’t fully signed until July 19. But who cares?

July 4th is the federal holiday where we traditionally celebrate our freedom. Fourth of July gatherings or events to celebrate the birth of our nation will vary across the country, but parades, fireworks, and outdoor fun are sure to be found.

Fun facts and trivia to share at your backyard celebration.

  1. The first White House Fourth of July party was held in 1804.
  2. John Hancock was the only member of the Continental Congress who formally signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
  3. The Fourth became a paid legal holiday for employees of the federal government in 1938.
  4. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe died on the Fourth of July.
  5. Yankee Doodle, the celebrated patriotic song, was written by British army officers to make fun of backwoods Americans.

Prefer statistics?

  1. Roughly 2.5 million people lived in the newly formed nation’s 13 colonies. Today, 246 years ago the U.S. population is more than 331.8 million.
  2. A whopping 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the 4th of July — enough hot dogs to stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times!
  3. Display firework sales were $262 million in 2021. The consumer fireworks industry grossed $2.2 billion.
  4. Pet disappearances increase by 30% on the 4th of July.

Not only will pets suffer on this holiday, but many PTSD veterans will also be cringing with every blast of those fireworks set off in your driveway. Consider attending a fireworks display or watching one on the television instead.

Statistic Sources:

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.

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