Category Archives: Musings

A few differences between cats and dogs

puppy and kitten1.  95% of dogs will help their owners clean by licking up food dropped on the floor.    12% of cats will deign to sniff it before walking away.

2.   92% of dogs will protect their owners by barking at strangers.  1% of cats will protect their owners if they feel like it.cats vs dogs

3.      71% of dogs are trained to sit on command.   100% of cats will sit when they feel like it.

Okay–what did you think of this?  Are dogs better than cats because of their habits?   Here’s the background.  A friend posted an article on Facebook comparing the habits of two groups of people.   It was obvious the writer greatly preferred one group,  looked down on the other, and hope to influence the reader to agree.   For that reason,  I decided to write this blog because this is  often done and we are so easily manipulated.

Reading an column, we should look at who the writer is and what that writer’s point of view is.   The writer of those three comparisions between dogs and cats seems fairly obviously a dog person. (For the sake of fairness, I have to admit that I am the person who wrote this–as if you haven’t guessed– and really love both canines and felines.)

fact check star treckFact check.  Did these statistics come from the writer’s brain, a trusted and professional study, or a study done by Dogs-Who-Hate-Cats?   Don’t be manipulated by a prejudiced writer or by facts and figures that may not be based on anything other than that they fit with our ideas and we like to find someone else who agrees.

Ask yourself:  are there other factors that could explain these?  Well, of course, more dogs back than cats because they ARE dogs!

Here’s another and different examples:  What do you think could explain bath vs showerthis difference in habits?  Again, numbers are made up.   75% of men  shower once a  day.   23% women do.    We could jump to the conclusion that men are cleaner than women.  But the truth could also be  1)  Many women prefer to take a bath  or  2)  Some women shower twice a day.

In this age of great divisions with each group claim their own set of facts, I believe it is more important than ever to read responsibly, to check out the “facts” given, and to decide if this is information you need to consider or ill-founded propaganda.


What more can one say about Christmas?

What are the hardest sermons for a minister to prepare? I have it on woman preachergood authority that the most difficult to prepare are for Christmas and Easter.

Why? . . . . . . (I’m giving you a few seconds to think why this may be)

1)    Because the scriptures are used every year.  Everyone in the congregation has heard them and has their own idea what they mean.   Miracle of ChristmasWith Christmas, the story has been read to us since we were very young.  We’ve been in and watched pageant.  We’ve sung the caroles and hymns and presented the special music, a cantata here and there.  What NEW can a preacher say that isn’t said better by a bunch of cute children dressed as angels and animals?

2)    The message of Christmas is JOY!   How many ways can one say that?   Joy is an emotion we all understand.  Joy is a fairly straightforward feeling that doesn’t have to be explained.  “I’m worried” can be explained various ways as can, “I’m afraid.” But, “I’m happy”?  We all know what that means so a Christmas sermon about joy can be boring or repetitious–try to imagine yourself preaching  twenty minutes on joy.

3)    There is little suspense.  At other times of the year, a minister may preach on a section from Judges or a minor prophet or one of the pastoral epistles and we’re surprised.  We didn’t know that was in the Bible.  But we could all recite the part about angle appearing to Mary, about Joseph taking his betrothed  to Bethlehem, and the innkeeper and the shepherds and the birth.  We know all that.

And yet, every year there is a newness to the words we have read so today in the city of Davidoften.    We experience  the amazing discovery that we are so greatly loved  the Creator of the Universe is sending a Savior to me!  Oh, to you, too. of course, to all of us.  This is both a very personal and a completely universal blessing.  Every Christmas the enormity and grandness of that love astounds me.    The words may be old but the miracle is new every year, that unto us in the city of David has been born to us a Savior who is  Christ the Lord.

How can we take such love in all at once?  That’s why that message must be preacher over and over so we can understand it a bit more every year, live it more sincerely every day.

I am the unemployed

Well, I’m not really all the unemployed but I thought that title sounded very author-y.   And yet,  I have been unemployed–on unemployment unemployed maninsurance two times.  I’m not lazy or a leech. I don’t want to become dependent on  government handouts and live unemployed for the rest of my life.  I wanted a job both because  I wanted to work as I always had and because unemployment pays less than fifty percent of what any of my jobs paid.  However, I couldn’t find a job.  I substitue taught but wasn’t hired to teach.  I applied for many jobs because that’s part of receiving unemployment:  you have to show that you are looking for a job.   Wanting to work but not being able to find work is the story of the kid filling out job applicationmajority–if not all–the unemployed today.

Why are the unemployed called “unemployed”?  Because they were at one time employed and then something happened which made them “unemployed.”  Yes. the very term “unemployed” means that these people were working, were employed, had held down a job, earned money, supported themselves and their families.

Then they lost their jobs.  Why?   Could be because their job moved overseas, just got up and left.  Could be because when the depression hit, EIGHT million jobs disappeared into the air.  They are no longer available, no longer exist.   No one can apply or be hired for  one of those jobs.   I was laid off because the non-profit had a huge deficit and they had to cut jobs.   After jobs of  low-salary employees were trimmed,  I was next because I made a fair salary and had only worked there seven months.     Not my fault.

The first time I was unemployed, we lived in a small town in West Texas where the only jobs were fast food and nursing.  I have nothing against working in fast food but, physically, I can’t stand for any length of time.   To become a nurse,  I would have to go back to school which would take years and money we didn’t have.   I was unemploysed for a year, until we moved to Houston where there were lots of jobs.

If you haven’t been employed, if you have a job now, please don’t judge the great number of those without work.  It’s hard out there.  For every job, there are three application.  When a Wal-Mart opened in DC, there were six-hundred job opening.  Seventeen-THOUSAND applied!

What are your thoughts?  I’d like to know.

I know I’m picky but . . .

I’m picky.  I know that.   I try not to be but I am.  If I see something wrong on television or in a move, it bothers me.  I haven’t finished some books because I find errors I can’t accept, that distract me from the story..

A recent example:  I was watching a really terrible Richard Gere movie. richard gere He’d been an assassin but retired twenty years before the story began and became a CIA agent working against terrorism.   However, he had to return to killing people.  I don’t remember the reason or if there even was one–it was not a good movie so I don’t know if he had a motivation–but he did.

WatchHis method  was novel.   He had a watch with a thin wire inside which he used to garrote people.   He activated this by pulling out the stem of the watch to which the wire was attached and easily pulled the length of wire from inside.  The wire was so thin it left a bloody cut in the throat.  After the victim died, Gere simply let go of the watch stem and the wire would contract back inside, ready to kill again.  At no time did he clean the wire.

This left me with two questions I’d really like your opinion on.    1)    Wouldn’t the dried blood on the wire make it difficult to pull it out when the time came for the next murder?   2)   He’d been using this watch for twenty-five years.  Wouldn’t an unpleasant odor come from the blood inside?

Just wondering.  Because I’m picky and things like this bother me.

Thank you.



Nelson Mandela

mandelaLike most people around the world, Nelson Mandela has always been a hero to me.   I started a blog on why I admire him and realized he possessed more strengths and contradictions than I could address in a blog.   I also realized that I’m unable to write about him because my skills aren’t up to it.   And what I wrote was boring.  For that reason, I started over.  Here’s my second effort.

Mr. Mandela changed his tactics over the years, from peaceful protest to more militant means until he became the man who freed and led his resentmentcountry.  He had friends some  in the United States still don’t like beause they don’t realize  why he had them.   He wasn’t a perfect man but he was a man of immense courage, compelled to free his people.

Instead of writing more,  I’m going to share this quote.  Mr. Mandela’s words define him far more than anything I could write.   I’d like to hear your thoughts.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquer that fear.”     Nelson Mandela


Macho and kind? Is that possible?

Luke kneeling wiht KevinIn 2012, during the next-to-the-last weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, University of Louisville player Kevin Ware went down with a horrific injury, a compound fracture of the right leg.    His team mates fell on the floor in horror.  They cried and wrapped their arms around each other.   Players from both teams said they nearly threw up.  The crowd gasped and sobbed and turned away.

Except Luke Hancock.  After a few motionless moments, he realized Kevin lay on the floor in pain and alone.  Luke hurdled the courtside railing to reach and kneel next to Kevin, to hold his hand, and ask Kevin if he’d like to pray.  He calmed Kevin and all who watched even as the medical team arrived and took justice love kindness

I’m still amazed at the maturity of Luke Hancock.  Even at my advanced age, I doubt I’d have recognized the need of Kevin Ware and responded so quickly and so perfectly.     The Cards won the NCCA championship the next weekend and Luke was named MVP of the Final Four, but that one moment made me respect Luke more than anything, that outpouring of kindness that defines him as a man.    

Yes, kindness.    One of my favorite verses of the Bible is from Micah:  “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love  kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Now we’re hearing about hazing and racism in professional football.    A player  admits he made racists remarks against a young player as well as threatening horrifying acts toward family members of that player.   Even worse, team members back up the bullying with the excuse that’s what happens in the testosterone-heavy atmosphere of pro-football and that’s how a real man acts.  The player who left the team is being called a wimp, a pansy, and words I cannot (and would not) write here. 

Is bullying ever acceptable?   Do athletes need to toughen up  rookies?  I have a feeling I know how you’d answer.   But in our society, which is more admired?    I’m going with Luke Hancock.   




Pity the poor writer

cookiesWhen I was a little girl—a Brownie—I had to sell Girl Scout cookies.   Back then, we’d go from door to door in our neighborhoods.  I couldn’t do it.   I was shy and timid—yes, I was!–and the idea of asking someone to buy something from me really frightened me.   For that reason, my mother gave a contribution to the troop.  I truly believe I would have hidden in a closet if she told me to go out and knock on doors.

Years later a group I belonged to in high school sold donuts for a fund raiser, once or twice a semester.  Again, I couldn’t do that.  This time, my mother frozen the box of a dozen we had to purchase.

This part of my personality makes book promotion very difficult for me.   I have to turn into another person to push myself, to ask people to buy my books.  I do but I’m never comfortable.   The best example of that distress pops up during book signings.signing

During some signing, lots of friends show up—and I appreciate those friends greatly.   When they don’t, however, I’m left alone at the table in the front of the store , attempting to sell myself and my books.    o lure people to my table, I sprinkle chocolate candy across it.   People will sidle up to my place, refuse to make eye contact, grab a piece of candy, and dash away.    Others run past me so fast that I can’t make a pitch or make eye contact.   My table is often mistaken for an information booth and I’m asked where the rest rooms are or where the delivery man should put the boxes he’s delivering.

Then I force myself into my salesperson role, smiling broadly and chirping about the wonderful book I’m signing.   One afternoon, I sold eight books to people I’d never met and consider that a great success.  More often, I sell none or one and most of the shoppers treat me as if I had a terrible and easily communicable disease  or I’m a raving, chirping Matchmakers cover 2idiot from whom their children must be protected.

I end this blog with a plea.  If you are in a book store and you see an author sitting at a table—all alone—in the front of the store, please don’t run.   If you don’t want to buy a book, at least smile at the poor soul.    We would all really appreciate it.     And we’ll give you candy.



nanoYes, November is National Novel Writing Month (we seem to have a badge!)   We are challenged–all of us, even you–to write an ENTIRE novel during the month.  It doesn’t have to be a good novel.   It’s written but not edited–just pure writing from the beginning to the end.   I’ve challenged myself to do that.  Leaped out of bed this morning,  sat down at the computer.   I have to confess, I did eat breakfast, drank coffee while petting the kitties, and checked email first but, after that,  I started writing.  then I decided I liked the other story better and wrote a few lines on that.   Then I went to the post office and came home for a nap.   All in all, I accomlished very little but I  wrote a few sentences which makes me happy.

But, in the midst of all the excitement and challenge,  I forgot about the blog!   So, here it is.   If you want to write a novel, try NaNoWriMo.

THE WEDDING PLANNERS OF BUTTERNUT CREEK comes out Tuesday.  Release day of a novel NEVER gets old.  I’m filled with fear–what if Matchmakers cover 2everyone hates it? What if my editor tells me they are not  paying me the rest of the advance because it’s so bad?  What if my writing friends star throwing books at me?   On the other hand, what if people do like Hannah’s romance and Adam’s wedding?  Writing is a risk and a gamble.  And RT said, “”An utter delight.”  That means something, right?

I’ll be blogging several times–guess blogging–next week.  I’ll put a link  on this blog so you can visit them.

Would you please hold my hand until Tuesdady?  I would appreicat that.  A “there,there” and a soft pat-pat would also be appreciated.

Many thanks


Do you know the difference between a clarinet and a trombone?

A friend  of mine plays an instrument in a brass ensemble.  I have no lots of musical instrumentsidea what she plays but she does it very well.    Due to the efforts of my fifth grade teacher to have us learn the differences between musical instruments, I can recognize many:  all percussions and strings.  It helped  that  I played the viola for two really uncomfortable years during which I never one got the rhythm correct and usually played violawhen everyone else observed a rest.  

But while that teacher struggled to show us how they looked she didn’t do anything  to teach us how they sounded.  That would have been hard way back when she would have had to use 78 records and a record player.  Hard to pause those.

So, yes, I can tell you when a cello is being played and differentiate that from other strings.  I recognize various drums, a triangle, the glockenspiel and a piano.  But the  horns—woodwinds or brass, well, I don’t have the slightest idea.  I can listen to and enjoy a piece but don’t expect me to know what section carried the melody.  I don’t know. 

My friend plays in a musical ensemble at church—I’m thankful that we have very talented musicians who share their gifts with us.  music in church After their lovely special music one Sunday, I thanked the musicians, then said to my friend, “What instrument do you play?”  She laughed and laughed and said, “Oh, Jane, you’re so funny.”

I hadn’t realized my remark had been amusing.   Embarrassed, I asked no more, just laughed and pretended I knew exactly what instrument she was playing and how it sounded. 

The point is that  people who know stuff believe other people know bankthe same stuff.   This leads to great miscommunication.  When I attempted to take over the automatic pay at the bank after George died, I was talking with a customer service rep who was talking to an IT person,  After three hours, the IT person realized I didn’t know anything about automatic bill paying and neither did the really nice customer service guy.  What I needed to know was that the information on the auto-pay couldn’t be switched from George’s account to mine, that I had to start all over.  He told the customer service guy who didn’t understand this.  Then the customer service guy told me but we both thought this sounded stupid and duplicated payments.  It wasn’t until I went to the bank and threatened to close all my accounts (one checking, one money market, and three CDs.  They didn’t want to lose me), did we put all of our misunderstanding together so that I could finally stop $750 from disappearing from the account each month to pay bills I wanted to change. 

And oh my, do I know that this is happening in our country.  We talk past each other.  We may agree on more than we think—we just don’t know that.   Or we believe the other people hold our same beliefs.  I just learned that a conservative didn’t realize that having a mortgage means he has borrowed money and live in debt.  If we come to a debt or deficit discussion with such different understandings, how can we ever hope to find that common ground?  How can people discuss if one groups believes abortion is murder and the other believes women have the right to chose what is best for her?  Again, we talk past each other.  We assume.   We know what we know but may not know that YOU don’t know what I know.  

Which leads us to the problems caused by not knowing the difference between a clarinet and a trombone. 

Commercials–a necessary evil

popcornTelevision isn’t free.  We have to pay for what we watch, either through ads, cable  or contributions.   If the production companies don’t make money, they won’t produce episodes.  This is parallel to the fact writers know.  I want people to buy my books so my publisher and I make money and I can afford to write and my  publisher can affort to print and distribute them.   Even knowing that,  I’m not much of a commercial fan.   Like you, I can usually think of something to do during those breaks–fix popcorn, get a Coke, fold the wash, go to the bathroom, take a shower, and so on.   But when I DO watch them, I love some, hate others, and  just wonder about a few.  Here are my categories.  Please add your own.

Commercials that make me laugh or smile:   I love many of the Geiko ads:   hump day and this little piggy  are special favors.   I loved the pig shouting, “This little piggy went wee-wee-wee all the way home” and cannot understand how this little pigthat woman driving can be such a grump.

You probably have figured I like any commercial with an animal in it.  My favorite comes from the Superbowl of many years ago, Herding Cats.  If you haven’t seen it, try this.     I have to admit, I don’t know what company it’s for but I love it.

Commercials that make me cry:     Do you remember the Folger’s commercial  where the kids comes home early from college and puts a potorigami of coffee on?   Hallmark card commmercials can make me choke up.   A new favorite is a chewing gum commercial in which the father makes an origami swan every time his daughter is sad.  

Commercials that frustrate me:    Those with no words, just music.  I spend much of my time preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen orwashing cloths.  If I’m lucky, I can glance at the screen for a few seconds.  Many years ago there was a commerical for a winery  The scene was a wedding, beautiful people on a beauitful green lawn with beautiful music in the background.  All I’m aware of is the music.  At some time during that ad, an announcer should say, “Flowers Sisters Wine presents this weeding,” so I kow what company is spending all that  money to influence me. 

Commercials I hate:  Anything with a Zombie in it.  Not wanting to sound bigoted, but zombies are gross.  I don’t want anything that zombies buy.  

Beer commercial which lead college guys to believe if they only drink enough beer, they will be in with the cool guys and women will crowd around him for attention.  Yes, gorgeous and worldly women are always impressed by the clever conversation from a drunk college boy who vomits on their shoes.

What about you?  What do you like to watch or what commericals make you leave the room?