Archive for August, 2012


“Boy, I’d sure like to do that,” the big teenage boy behind the counter of a printer, remarked to me. I was handing over pages of my children’s book with the title, “How To Do Nothin’.” The book came into being because, day after day, in the class I teach to young kids, “nothin'” would be the reply when asked what they did in school that day. Judging by their expertise in reading, I was often inclined to think that maybe that was an accurate answer.

The book shows all the exciting activities a boy, Robbie, experiences, but when asked by his grandma what he has done, he always responds, “Nothin’.” Since publishing the book, I’ve been told by many parents and grandparents that they receive the same answer too often.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, I’m sitting here with my tea and cookie doing my all-important(??) thinking and remembering the conversation (??) I had with my ten-year old grandson on the phone last night. Somehow I believe that to use the word “conversation,” there has to be an exchange of ideas. I really don’t think that “nothin’,” “I don’t know”, “I guess”, “It’s okay”, as replies to my statements and questions really can be called conversing.

There are several websites on this subject. I have a link with the PBS website on my website where you’ll find an excellent article.

The subject of my next blog is communication and talking. I hope you’ll join me for that one.

Meantime, let’s think a bit about the feelings we have at the end of a day. A lot of adults believe that they have done nothing if it was a usual day. What I mean by usual is, did you stay at home involved in things you do most every day? Please don’t dismiss those important activities of getting the kids off to school, washing dishes, dusting, cooking, etc. as worthless, which would be nothing. I’ll bet if you try, you will think of many entertaining stories you could pass along to your family around the dinner table. And, doing that is what encourages your children and even other quiet adults to begin to share their stories of what happened during the day.

When I was growing up, I always had breakfast with my parents and we shared our dreams. My dad always won the prize for the craziest ones. I’ve often wondered if he didn’t make them up just to entertain us.

If you don’t have a ready audience at home, that’s why I am here. I would love to hear your stories. Pull up a chair, reach for a cookie and click on comments below.

COMING NEXT: Here’s How I Do Nothing



Disaster struck at 2 PM on July 10, 2012. I had been to the market on my semi-annual trek for food and because of the stress to me of that activity, I required a cookie. It was not just any cookie, but rather a freshly baked, chocolate chocolate chip cookie of a generous size. The market doesn’t always have these cookies on their shelves. Imagine my delight when I saw, through the cellophane top of the square cardboard box, a dozen deeply chocolate, yummy-looking cookies.

Upon my arrival home and after the huge exertion of putting away several bags (sorry, plastic) of groceries, I sat down with my tea and cookies and with great anticipation, opened the box. Horrors! There before me were at least three of those brown beauties in pieces. Broken. My cookies were broken.

Before eating even one small broken piece, I bravely telephoned the market and told them what had happened. I explained that I would put up with this tragedy, but they should inform the people who pack the bags to be more careful. I explained that I sometimes take cookies to the children in my class and how upset they would be to have broken cookies. (I figured that heartbreaking, and true, story would solve that problem for a while.)

I then proceeded to eat the broken pieces. The problem with not having the cookie whole is that you can’t judge how much you have eaten. I didn’t want to short myself because, after all, it’s important to take care of yourself after a disaster.

The reason the cookies broke is because of those plastic bags. The packer, who was not just some bag boy they had pulled in off the street, was a seasoned bagger. I had been in his line many times. But for some reason, he put the cookie box into the bag on its side, rather than seating it carefully on its bottom. That’s like putting a kid into his car seat head first. Who would do that? Cookies are sweet and fragile like kids. Well, most kids.

Now my whole cookies are individually wrapped in foil and in the freezer where they will remain until I remove one and defrost it, though I have been so anxious to eat one that I ate it frozen. Crunchy, but not too bad.

“Good grief,” you must be thinking, or something similar. “She is a fanatic about her cookies. I can’t believe she called the market to complain.”

Well, that’s the whole point of my book, “Ticked Off And Tickled About It,” You need to do more than complain about something; try to fix the problem. And, I’m so mellow from all the chocolate that I don’t yell when I complain. I’m calm. Sort of.

COMING NEXT: How To Do Nothin’

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I laughed so hard this morning that I almost choked on my tea and chocolate chip cookie. In a pet bed, intended for my six pound cat, was also my fourteen pound cat. they were so smushed together that they looked like one twenty pound creature. And the big guy was hanging a bit over the sides.

The little cat, Sweetie, is a calico, so she is gold, white and black. The big one, Cinnamon, is gold and white. They are color coordinated and blend as one.

Sweetie was a tiny thing when she was heard mewing outside our kitchen door. When we opened it to see what was going on, she rushed in and hasn’t left since. We couldn’t find an owner. The pads on her paws are about the size of a dime. She is very sweet but she rules over Cinnamon.

We’ve had two fifteen pound cats before Cinnamon. The first cat we ever had came with the house we rented. His name was Brau. He was not “fixed” and so he ruled the neighborhood and had a lot of fights. The couple who owned him before us said they would give him to us if we would not neuter him. We finally had to beg them to let us do it because he was at the vet a lot. He didn’t win every fight.

Our second fifteen pounder, Armstrong, looked nearly identical to Brau. they were both almost all grey with white markings. In photos we can’t tell them apart.

Armstrong was the funniest cat we have ever had. He was Mr. Personality. Our entryway was dark grey slate, about the same color as Armstrong. He was suppose to be a house cat but he would sneak out all the time. When we had the door open and talking with someone, out he’d go and we wouldn’t even see him. However he never went farther than the house next door. And, he would come back if we clanked the tin top of a Vaseline jar on the jar because he loved Vaseline.

Our house had the old-fashioned louver glass windows that were in so many California homes. Armstrong could pull the lever that opened the glass plates and wiggle his big body through the small slots. But, there were screens outside and he ended up between the screen and glass, unable to figure out how to reverse the procedure. I could tell a jillion other stories about him and may do so one day.

We had two other cats at the same time Armstrong allowed us to live in his house. One cat was his girlfriend. Her name was Lovey and she was the classic scaredy cat. The other cat was Luna. (This was the time of the moon landing, hence Armstrong for Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, and Luna, another word for the moon.)

Luna was a little looney. For one thing, she never made a sound for a year or so until we went off on a three week vacation and left her behind. When we got back, she couldn’t stop fussing at us. She was strictly my cat until I took her to be “fixed,” and after I picked her up, she became my husband’s cat. She wouldn’t have anything to do with me for several years. She picked fights with Armstrong who was twice her size but he was always so shocked at her behavior that he didn’t fight back.

One of the musings in my “Ticked Off And Tickled About It” book is about our three cats who lived together. It’s called “Meow and Yeow.”

Do you have pets who run your life? Love to hear about them.

COMING NEXT: Don’t Let Your Cookie Crumble

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It’s so nice that you’ve returned.  I was just sitting here with my cup of tea and the crumbs from my chocolate chip cookie.  It was especially good today.  I don’t bake and if you’ve read “Ticked Off and Tickled About It,” you already know that.  So I try different brands of cookies from the market.

My ninety pound Golden Retriever, Irish, begged, as usual, and I gave him a bit of cookie.  Basically, I am a tough love mommy and won’t give him people food but sometimes those soulful big brown eyes are more than I can bear and I crumble like a cookie.

Much as I adore our big lovable dog, I have been thinking about also getting a little dog.  There is no way you can hold Irish on a lap, even my husband’s.  I’d love to have cute little white lap dog.  The problem is, we have coyotes in our neighborhood.

My son’s family has just the dog I would like.  His name is Gizmo.  (Humor is a big thing in our family.)  He likes laps and is full of fun.  When he’s playing, he has non-stop energy.  My trivia-expert husband says that Gizmo is the kind of dog that pirates kept on their ships for entertainment.

I had a little black and white dog, Lucky, when I was a child.  I loved him but he pretty much ticked off my parents.  He was very full of no-no ideas.  He managed to get out of the fenced yard many times and ran up and down the street.  One time he chased a car and got a broken leg for his trouble.  He had to have a back leg in a cast.  He was such a clown.  We watched him in the yard from a window as he ran all around and even jumped, trying to get over the fence.  If we went outside, he began to limp and look like he could hardly walk.  He  wanted our sympathy, which of course he got.

I’ve got two cats, too, but they don’t roam in the same area of the house as the dog.  I think maybe the dog is more afraid of the cats than vice versa.

We had three other cats when we lived in California.  One of them was really Mr. Personality.  His name was Armstrong and he was a better escape artist than Lucky, but he never went farther than the house next door.  We could get him back by tapping the tin lid against a Vaseline jar.  Armstrong loved to eat Vaseline and it helped with his hair balls.  The other two cats wouldn’t touch the stuff.

You must have some great dog or cat stories.  I’d love to hear them.

To read what others are writing on this subject:’s-a-happy-dog-day

COMING NEXT:  I’ve Owned Six Funny Cats