Friday, December 27, 2013

Deal of the Month

I might buy a house with coupons—okay, not really, but this is the season for coupon overflow. During the last month, I probably received fifty to one hundred coupons via email, not to mention the onslaught that weighed down the daily newspaper. A few weeks ago I’m convinced there were more coupons than news. Oh, I’m not complaining. I love coupons! Here’s one of my great deals: I found a nice, winter jacket for twelve dollars that retailed for ten times that price. Can a good car coupon be far behind? Retailers, keep the deals coming so we can enjoy the after Christmas sales. Check out other shoppers who appreciate a good buy:


I doubt we’ll see a web shutdown for anything other than electronics in this country, but stranger things have happened. I bet you’ve found a few spectacular offers over the past several weeks, so what is this season’s best deal?


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Super Size It

Oops!  I went too far.  By mistake, I passed the food display board and the wonky intercom without ordering. I only wanted a quick beverage and the lunch rush hadn’t begun, so the cashier wasn’t too annoyed that I skipped drive-thru protocol. Given the season’s numerous parties and gift exchanges, I hope you don’t find yourself filled with regret and feeling that you went too far. Here’s an opportunity to remember that we all have our crazy moments—like this one: 


A musical at the supermarket—that’s unexpected. Did the actors get permission first?  You know you’ve gone too far if no one gets your shtick or if management asks you to leave. The shoppers came for the food, and received a lot more. Instead of worrying about going too far, do you ever wonder if you’ve gone far enough? When have you wished you had done a little more?



Thursday, December 12, 2013

A New Wave of Therapy

We had a good-sized snow storm this week. There’s something special about the snow storms that shut down normal life for a day or two. We can cozy up to a warm fire while watching television, listening to music, or reading. Our only interruptions should be for snacks and naps. I kept gazing out at the snow-covered trees; their collective limbs crisscrossed the sky while the midafternoon sun hid behind a cloudy, blue-gray canvas. Picture perfect! Doesn’t a natural scene slow your breathing and lower your blood pressure? Maybe that’s one of the reasons we visit places like this:


Tucked in Arizona’s wilderness, this site is difficult to locate, but once inside, the incredible swirly, hypnotic walls draw you in. We could wander around in the Wave for hours. If we’re fortunate enough not to get lost, it might be a therapeutic visit. Short of heading out to Arizona, how do you relax amidst the bustle of daily life?              

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Superheroes

What if I looked like this? What if I had that talent? We spend plenty of time talking about personal makeovers. After eating too many holiday sweets, we may decide to revise our work-out plans to shed the extra pounds. It’s wise to maintain our physical conditions, but problems can arise when we become obsessive about altering the characteristics that make us special.       

While watching the whale scene in “Finding Nemo,” one of our kids wondered what it would be like if people had blow holes. I’ve never considered that before, nor do I think it’s high on anyone’s list of wants—plus, it sounds messy. All of us possess a little uniqueness that makes us stand out. Check out these folks:    


Okay, they might be on the extreme end of the unique spectrum, but all of us possess a useful talent or skill. Instead of enduring long shopping lines and buying pricey presents, what kind of gift can you offer to uplift strangers, friends, co-workers and, family members during this holiday season?   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Today and Tomorrow's Deals

Have you ever had a day so special that you hated to see it end? Maybe you’ve wished for two back-to-back Saturdays. Who wouldn’t enjoy that a few times per year? Someone’s getting that kind of wish this week. Based on the TV commercials, it sounds like we’re having at least two Black Fridays. It’s a retailer’s dream.  Hope your Thanksgiving meal wasn’t derailed by guests leaving to catch the store sales. We’re not likely to see two days repeated, but this is close:


On certain days during the Arctic summer, sunlight can last for twenty-four hours. Over time the sun bobs just above the horizon, floats up and down in the sky, but never allows night to settle in. Think about all the shopping that could be finished during that time—if there were places to shop in the Arctic. 

Some people say twenty-four hours in a day should be enough time to accomplish our to-do lists, but no one mentions how half of those hours are at nighttime. If you could transport the Arctic’s midnight sun phenomenon to your neighborhood, how and where would you spend your extra daylight hours?    


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Christmas List

Trapped! We’re caught between wanting to hear Christmas carols and not wanting to dive into the shopping season this early. It may be too late. Decorations grace the mall’s halls and traffic’s already building. On Thanksgiving Day some of us will have one eye on the pumpkin pie and the other eye on the clock, counting down the hours to the first pre-Black Friday purchase. Let’s pace ourselves. Celebrate Thanksgiving and savor the turkey without peeking at your Christmas shopping list. We’ll be inside the stores soon enough. Will your Christmas shopping experience resemble this one?

You don’t shop like the first guy, do you? He shopped for a charity, which explains the haphazard gift decisions, huge quantities, and lo-o-o-n-n-g-g receipt. Hopefully, your Christmas shopping list is much shorter. Before the shopping frenzy goes full tilt, what suggestions would you offer for creating a meaningful holiday? 


Saturday, November 16, 2013


My cat had a nightmare, I think. Our cat usually sleeps through the many noises around her. Despite the blaring television and rattling dishes, she keeps on snoozing. One day during nap time, she jumped up into the scary hunched back position. She stared at us, jumped to the floor, and ambled away as if nothing happened. Maybe she dreamed about an encounter with the neighborhood dog. Cats are full of surprises.   

There are pleasant surprises and downright awful ones. Here’s a surprise this young man didn’t anticipate:

 Active military soldiers and their families deserve heartwarming surprise reunions, and much more. What sorts of surprises have you experienced?     




Friday, November 8, 2013


When do talcum powder and goldfish go together? Never! Several years ago I opened our child’s bedroom door and discovered one little person pouring powder into the gold fish bowl.  What a cloudy mess!  I never learned the reason for that experiment, but the fish survived and lived to swim again. Have you ever purchased a goldfish that expired the next day? Not ours. I had grown tired of changing the stinky water in the huge snack bowl-turned-filterless-fishbowl. Week after week I poured out the dirty water and poured in clean water and that little goldfish lived on and on and on…. Our fish was a survivor, much like this girl:


She identified the oncoming tsunami and survived it. It does pay to listen in class. Not only did Tilly save herself, but her quick thinking saved her family and several other vacationers. If you were to wear a T-shirt that read, “I survived (blank), how would you fill-in the blank? What did you learned from the experience?    


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Swarmy Day

Watch out! They may be hovering outside your window—and they’re carnivorous!  I posted a warning sign on a door in our house that read Beware: Ladybug. About twelve ladybugs clung to our window screen and we trapped one in the bathroom. “Trapped” means one of the kids placed the bug there for safekeeping. Who doesn’t like a few ladybugs? When temperatures drop they seek out warm places to hibernate. I just hope they don’t settle for our house. Several ladybugs are cute, but when the number swells to several hundred, cute becomes unsettling. Check out this swarm:  


 I can think of several words to describe the dark cloud—amazing, mesmerizing, and eerie.  It reminded me of the famous movie about birds; they were a naughty flock. A large quantity of anything often amounts to more than you want or need. On the other hand, how would you finish this sentence? I can never get enough ______________ because______________.     

Friday, October 25, 2013

Home: Yesterday and Today

Can we go home again? Can you revisit the place where you grew up? I have limited access to my childhood home and occasionally I’ll go back to reminisce.  The kitchen reminds me of how I used to look up at the bottom of the cabinets. I marvel at the living room space where I played games, decorated the Christmas tree and did cartwheels. It seemed roomy back then, but looks far too small for my cartwheels now.  I even recall the shiny, pink bathroom tiles that spiced up the second floor. Snazzy! Are you feeling nostalgic yet? See if this video and its lyrics bring back memories.  


 No, I don't know this family, but what a touching tribute for a childhood home! Is home where you live, where you spend holidays, a place in your memories, or somewhere else?  Where is home for you?             

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pumpkin-Filled Glee

It’s that time of the year again—pumpkin time! Pumpkins rule during this season. We enjoy pumpkin-flavored hot beverages, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin donuts, and let’s not forget pumpkin bread.  Our kids baked two loaves on Monday. We devoured both of them by Wednesday, so they baked two more on Thursday. We’ll have to exercise everyday for the rest of the month to burn off our extra calories. If you’re up to your waist in pumpkin, check this out:


I wondered what happened to ginormous, leftover pumpkins. One guy said he used a boatload of chemicals to cultivate his mega-pumpkin. If you can’t eat them, why not sail them? It’s fun and makes good use something that’s destined to wither away. Remember the old expression about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure? What have you seen cast aside only to be restored for another purpose?       


Friday, October 11, 2013

Where Is The Voice?

 What does the fox say? That’s the title of a crazy music video that’s gone viral. If you check out the video, you’ll hear the fox say a bunch of gobbledygook, but that hasn’t stopped people from listening. Two Norwegian brothers created the song for fun, but nobody laughed during the initial performance. The brothers say their song is nonsense, but it does offer a cultural message. The poor fox isn’t assigned a sound, and like our marginalized populations, often goes unheard. Despite the world’s social injustices, thank goodness brave people still speak out.  Take a look:

How do we multiple multiply that level of kindness around the world? Despite being shot in the head for supporting the education of females, teen-aged Malala continues to represent a message of change, peace and reconciliation. We’re all passionate about an issue or charity. Here’s a chance to champion your cause. What do you say?      



Friday, October 4, 2013

Beyond the Essential Budget

What’s necessary and what’s not? Years ago I faced that question when I purchased my first car. I responded with my purse by skipping the fancy schmancy power windows option. Boy, was that a mistake! I spent the next several years exercising my left bicep. Uh no! Here comes a toll. Roll down the window. Roll up the window. Fast food drive-thru? Roll down the window, roll up the window. You get the picture. We’ll be frugal initially, but then pesky inconveniences force us to consider paying for improvements and upgrades. 

Here’s where we could go on a lengthy tirade about the government shutdown situation, but I think we’re on the same page—we don’t like it!  Unless we campaign for political office, what’s a citizen to do? Three things: complain, contact our representatives, and control our own household spending. See if this in your budget:             


Can humans eat gold? My brief research indicated that pure gold is safe for human consumption. Next question: Why would anyone want to eat gold?  Answer: For the thrill of it. Every day we hear a news story about someone taking a risk for a thrill. What gives you a thrill and what’s the cost?          

Friday, September 27, 2013

Learning Patience in an IPhone World

How do you learn patience? Make a call using a rotary phone. It could take fifteen seconds or more to complete a call on that ancient technology, which still took too long.  Zeros took the longest to dial, and our old phone number had two of them. Imagine dialing seven numbers and hearing a rapid click-click-click-click after each one. I don’t know how we stayed sane.

Typewriters can teach lessons in patience, too. Every student old enough to submit a typed school report should experience the typewriter, along with its correction tape and messy white-out. For extra fun, remove the paper from the typewriter, then make the correction. Best wishes in getting the paper and sentences to line up straight again. Oh, the memories! Oh, the drudgery! Take a look at other contraptions that made our lives better:      

The mom had the cassette ready, and she probably has a huge stash of tapes stored in a closet. Remember how cassette tapes squeaked when they aged and unraveled if you mishandled them? Even today’s technology can be frustrating once the Internet connection shuts down. Sometime we learn the best lessons through our most exasperating moments. What has helped you learn patience?               

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hot Topics

Can you feel the winds of change? They’re chilly, especially in the morning. If you haven’t checked the calendar yet, fall is just around the corner. It’s officially sweater/light jacket weather. Get ready for bonfires, marshmallows, hot chocolate and layers of blankets on the bed. I doubt our summer ended the way anyone expected. Did the temperature ever reach ninety degrees in August? Are you disappointed? Take a look at one experience we missed:

 Their feet stuck to the street in the heat. That’s hot. Too hot! After seeing that, I’ll be the first to promise to stop complaining about the weather. Although I prefer the less extreme seasons like fall and spring, I can appreciate mild summer thunderstorms and a snowflake’s intricate design.
Which seasonal elements in nature do you most appreciate?    

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It’s Not All Grimm

Do you remember the story called “The Elves and the Shoemaker” by the Brothers Grimm? Overnight elves appeared in the shop of a poor shoemaker who could barely keep his business afloat. The elves would disappear before dawn, leaving behind beautiful, well-crafted shoes for the surprised shoemaker to sell.  This week I lived out part of that tale.
We had minor work done at our house. Each morning a small group of people showed up, surveyed the job and, got to work. I monitored their progress, pleased with their speed and tidiness. Then at a certain time during the day, as if by magic, the workers disappeared. No sign of them anywhere. They did a good job and skedaddled, just like the elves.  

Here’s where similarities between my experience and the shoemaker’s story end. Although the elves worked night after night without payment, the grateful shoemaker found a way to return the elves’ kindness. The elves received new outfits, but I’m guessing our workers will want cash. Sometimes a simple smile is fair compensation for a good deed. Listen to this heartwarming, pay-it-forward story:

Oops, I forgot to warn you that the story’s a tear jerker. Isn’t it amazing how one act can generate a global response? No doubt you’ve received a bit of help at crucial time. How might you pay it forward?  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Mega-Plan

Is this the season of the mega-web? Spiders are mighty ambitious these days. I awoke to see a spider, no bigger than a quarter, sitting in a web outside our kitchen window. The web measured about two to three feet in diameter and stretched from the roof to the bushes down below. Yes, it was the stuff of nightmares.

This reminds me of the movie where a family wakes up, looks outside and discovers a white winter wonderland. When the camera pulls back, the audience realizes that a spider encased the entire house inside a massive web. If our spider gathers together a few friends, we could be in trouble. I don’t think I’ll sleep tonight. I’m not a fan of spiders, but there is something cheer-worthy about living out big plans. You go, spider! Take a look at the fulfillment of another mega-plan.


Who knows how big the structure would have become if its occupants had stayed? If insects can carry out big plans, you must have something brewing. What’s your big dream?    

Friday, August 30, 2013


Was our beautiful plant gone, gone, gone? When we left for vacation last month, our potted plant’s lush red flowers made me smile. Upon our return, we witnessed the damage the horrible heat had caused. Dry soil and barren plant stems replaced the beautiful, red blooms. Darn that Feels Like one hundred four degree weather!

You might be wondering if I dumped the plant or gave it another chance? How could something so dehydrated live again? I flooded the pot with water and the plant survived! The green stems have a few sparse leaves, and one tiny bud popped out, the early stages of a flower. I’m eager to see the plant bloom again. I just hope they come before the temperatures drop. This plant is a survivor. If you want to see extraordinary survivors, take a look:


Miracles can happen anywhere, anytime. What miracle have you experienced?  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Double Insight and Seeing Double

Are you seeing double? I am. In the past week I’ve seen enough twins and triplets to believe  there’s a twin festival in town. In fact, I just saw part of a show where a couple had toddler twins and infant twins, and yes, the wife sounded overwhelmed. I’m surprised I didn’t have twins since my grandmother had a twin sister and we have twin cousins in our family. Despite being a handful, twins are fascinating. They finish one another’s sentences, share emotions, and develop similar preferences even when raised apart. I’m always amazed at how their parents can match the correct names and faces. There’s something special about being born with a buddy. Take a look:


When two people talk in unplanned synchronicity, it’s a hoot! Add in the joint laughter and dreams, and you can tell there’s a close connection between twins. You don’t have to be a twin to experience a special bond. With whom do you share a special connection?      


Friday, August 16, 2013

The Exercise Revolution

Does your vehicle have a sunroof? I didn’t appreciate their value until I glanced in my rear view mirror earlier this week.  Waiting for the red light to change, I saw a driver stick one arm out of the sunroof and the other arm out of the driver side window. With hands clasped together, the drive leaned over and stretched. Boy, that must have felt great—it just looked a little odd. Driving is always an interesting experience. You probably wouldn’t expect to see this scene alongside the highway:


Why waste time? If you have a few minutes, and your vehicle is equipped, go on and exercise.  Here’s a better idea: work-out trainers could outfit buses with workout equipment and make house calls—the gym could come to us! We could skip buying the expensive health club memberships and the bulky equipment. Vehicle exercising could become the next new trend. What other type of at/in-home service would you enjoy?         

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Not A Beach Week

This past week wasn’t one to spend at the beach. Gray skies, cool temperatures and on-off rain made it feel more like autumn. Some people will go to the beach in any kind of weather. They’ll visit the ocean on sunny days, wintry ones or right in the middle of a storm. The ocean does have a certain attraction when the wind blows and turbulent waves pound the shore. We’re mesmerized by enormous bodies of water. Notice how we’re always asking, “How deep is it?” The ocean’s depths hold astonishing finds; you never know what you’ll discover down there. Listen and look at this:    
If I were a fish in the deep and saw those pulsating lights, instead of taking cover, I’d never stop staring and end up as dinner. Do you remember playing Hide-N-Seek and hiding out in the open, hoping that you’d blend into your surroundings? Remember how that never worked? Octopuses make disappearing look easy. Our oceans are full of amazing creatures and their and mind-boggling abilities. What draws you to the beach?         

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rowdy Bumper Car Recreation

Have you been to an amusement park this summer? It’s our family’s civic duty to visit at least one or two parks per year, but we’re under our annual quota. Several weeks ago I rode an updated version of the classic bumper cars. It was a fun ride, except the experience transported me to my childhood days when my car would freeze-up a corner (yeah, that was me). Back then, I twisted and turned the wheel, hoping the right combination of moves would free me from my time-out. Meanwhile, as the other drivers whizzed around the enclosure banging and crashing into one another, the sounds of whirling motors and maniacal laughter burrowed into my brain. Eventually, a fellow driver’s merciless bump freed me, but by then the ride was over. Oh, those wonderful amusement park adventures! Some people shouldn’t ride the bumper cars. Watch this:


 That’s probably not what the retailer had in mind when they stocked the store with motorized carts. As you can see, it’s never a good situation when bumper car playtime leaves the protected area of an amusement park. What activity do you wish you could do without worrying about social or political boundaries?       


Friday, July 26, 2013

What’s The Word?

Do you think town criers should replace Twitter’s tweets? A town crier popped up at St. Mary’s Hospital in London to announce the royal birth of Prince William and Kate’s son. If you haven’t seen the announcement of the good news, take a look:

 We should definitely import this occupation from the Britain to America! We could position a town crier at every town’s post office to proclaim all the news that’s fit to yell and worth knowing. TCTV (Town crier TV) could be the television station that broadcasts all of the nation’s town criers so that we’d have all the important information from across the country. Doesn’t this idea sound so much more entertaining than our current news programs or those limiting 140-character tweets? Not only could town criers give us the news and nothing but the news, these new jobs would also lower the unemployment rate—it’s a win-win for everyone. Once this plan is adopted and your town has its very own announcer, what’s the first piece of good news you want your town crier to proclaim?  



Friday, July 19, 2013

Follow Your Black-Topped Road

We have a major intersection that connects five major roadways in our area. You probably have one in your town, too. If you drive through it on a regular basis, then you know the stop-and-go light timings, which lanes move fastest, and at what point you should switch lanes to get where you want to go in record time. Traffic often flows smoothly through those major intersections, except when there’s a driver who’s impatient or ignorant of the rules.

Once in a while I’ll see the first driver in line try to switch lanes during the red light. They wind up delaying everyone behind them when they can’t make a smooth transition. Sometimes a driver will inch so far into the left turning lane that they get stuck and block traffic when the light turns red. That’s when we get live action—honking, swerving and sympathetic head-shaking. Your road trip can turn from a pleasant outing to a chaotic nightmare if drivers fail to follow the rules. When people want to experience rule-free driving, here’s where they go:
 How about that? Even the German autobahn, which has no speed limits, has safety rules. We can’t avoid them.  What rule(s) do you make a special effort to follow?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Large and Small Deals

Did I see what I thought I saw? Back-to-school sales! Let’s give this merchandising strategy a  name, call it “sales creep.” It’s the retail industry’s habit of scooching the traditional selling period for any holiday or special event earlier and earlier every year. Before long, stores will sponsor huge sales at the end of a school year and keep going until Independence Day. How awful to rush the summer break! What’s worse is that I’d be the first to grab all of those horrible one cent deals at those too-early back-to-school sales. What can I say? I’m a pushover for a bargain. You can never own too many folders and paper clips, can you? If you like deals, here’s one that might intrigue you:


 What a gorgeous place! I know it has the potential for a great resort, but the advertisement frightens me. Blame it on the choice of background music that makes the ad feel like a movie about murder, mystery and intrigue. Once you combine murder and paradise, the last thing I’m thinking about is a relaxing resort. For that reason, I cannot purchase the island—but that’s just me. How about you? Barring one cent back-to-school deals, what’s the best offer you’ve  heard?

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Rainy Day

Imagine yourself sitting in the back of your home enjoying the semi-sunny view outside. Now imagine walking to the front of the house, looking outside, and discovering that it’s nighttime. Something similar happened at our house. Here’s the real story:

We were at home, sitting where we could see outside. A few clouds dotted the sky. When we walked to the front of the house and opened the door, believe it or not—it was raining outside. A steady downpour. At one point we could see both areas simultaneously and yes, the back was clear, but rainy in the front. How odd! You never know what you’ll find outside or under your bed. Listen to one lady’s discovery:
 There have been a lot of sinkholes popping up in recent months. Watch where you sleep, walk, and drive; turn a corner and a wild adventure may be just around the corner.  What’s the most amazing thing you’ve experienced?



Friday, June 28, 2013

Riddle Me This

What do you think about this video?

Did you see the Egyptian statue on the end turn around? Look again. The statue is ten inches high, stands in an enclosed glass case in a museum, and after three years—it’s moving. According to museum curators, it turns during the day. Time lapse photography shows the statue turning, but its movement is not visible to bystanders. A few people think the turning is caused by footstep vibrations. Do you want the truth? The statue moves because it’s part of a prank or it’s a very weird, unexplainable phenomenon. I chose prank—it’s less unsettling.

It’s more comfortable to believe that a moving statue is prank-related than to believe it’s an unexplainable mystery. Don’t we prefer clear-cut answers regardless of how we get there? If the statue is part of a prank, how does it turn and who is involved? Sometimes we only get to the heart of an issue by probing every answer with a succession of hows and whys.

Some of our beliefs lack in-depth reasoning, but we hold onto them until we hear a more convincing truth. What mystery or hotly debated topic can you settle because you know the real truth?        


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fish Out Of Water

Nothing gets a double-take like the sight of a big, burly bear lounging on top of a child’s playground set in your neighbor’s backyard. Bears, bears, everywhere! It’s like they’re abandoning the woods (what’s left of them) for backyards and housing developments. Check outside, there may be one at your door. They’re getting too comfortable prowling our streets and foraging through trashcans for leftovers. We’ll always pause to stare at a fish out of water. Look at this one:        


This fish actually leaves the water to walk to nearby bodies of water. But wait, there’s more. Not only has it popped up in Canada, the Snakehead fish is alive and well in New York City’s Central Park. Change is inevitable once the natural order of life gets twisted. Have you been feeling like a fish out of water? Perhaps you’re in a transitional situation, waiting to make the next step. What’s the better situation that you want to move toward?     

Friday, June 14, 2013

Talk about the Weather

 It feels like we’ve stepped back in time. Drenching rains every few days?  Welcome to April—again! If our unusual weather patterns continue, I may not have to complain about the heat in July and August. Instead of the high humidity, we might see spring-like weather with minimal sweating, less sunburn and hopefully, fewer bugs. A cooler summer might translate into less pool time, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice.  If the seasonal switches continue,  October and November could become the new summer months. The extra sunlight might force us to miss the beautiful red and orange leaf displays we love. We may have to move Thanksgiving dinner to a park and put grilled corn and turkey burgers on the menu.

 It’s interesting how changes in the weather, which might seem minor to us at first, could cause a domino effect that alters our traditions and how we live.  We aren’t the only ones to experience wonky weather. Take a look:


Poor kangaroos! They didn’t know what hit them. One person in a related video mentioned that Australians should be heading to the beach during that time of the year, not shoveling snow. If we took a poll, I  wonder how many people would prefer seasonal weather shifts. Our actual question for today takes a different slant, and that is: Why do you think we’re seeing such unusual weather pattern changes?