The Internal Stuggle

I Am She; She Is Me

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The woman bent over, peering into the combination stroller/pram, saying soft things the way a person does with a tiny baby. She straightened, and with shining eyes looked at me intently, saying, “He’s a blessing. Give thanks for him every day because he’ll be grown before you know it.” To be honest, she scared me a little, but I’ve never forgotten her, and I can still almost picture her face. Shoulder length brown hair, slender build, maybe mid-to-late fifties. Her children, I assumed, were grown. She had a story, anyway, one that involved longing and lost childhood...

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Bad, Bad Doctor... No Cookie for You!

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Because of my breast cancer history, I’ve accompanied a few friends to their appointments. Either for consultations with their surgical oncologists or to their G.P.s to hear their results, mostly to listen and see if everything they’ve said seems normal and sounds okay. I’m not an expert. Not even close. I have learned a few things, though, from my own experiences. And while I usually don’t write blog posts motivated by fury--I’m an easygoing person most of the time--on this day, I’m seeing red...

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Our Dog Chance

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Our hearts are full. Broken bodies; broken souls. The dog block is in the dog door because there is no dog to go in and out. All day long...

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Being Brave(r)

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I’m a worrier, someone who tends to overanalyze things, weighing the risks versus the benefits. This is not a trait that makes me happy. (I don’t always think things through, though. I did jump on Andrew’s skateboard a few months ago, meeting the sidewalk, face first. That was unfortunate). But mostly I’m a thinker. I don’t like this because it limits me, and I have to psyche myself up to do/try new things. After my first bout with cancer, I’d tell myself: If you can get through that, you can do anything. But then I’d forget what I’d been through and have to give myself another pep talk...

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Grappling with Life, and Sadness

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The high school is small, the student body in shock, trying to grasp the death of a friend, their contemporary. I tried to grasp the cruel hand his parents have been dealt. But some things just are not possible to grasp. I looked into the eyes of the teachers and principal and saw the grief. We shared the understanding; no words needed to be spoken...

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I’m Worrying about Worry

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When does a mother (or father) stop worrying about their children? It’s a trick question. The answer is never. We never stop. It’s written in the job description (in invisible ink), and something a parent doesn’t get the full effect of until holding the newborn in their arms for the first time, looking into their eyes and thinking: I am going to love you for the rest of my life. And I will worry about you. My grandmother in her nineties worried about my mother. My mother worries about me. My mother-in-law worries about Steve (and me because that’s how she is)...

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Cancer Update: The State of Me

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At the end of Let Me Get This Off My Chest, I promised that I’d update my blog some day and share my progress. As of yet, I have no nipples; no tattooed-on areolas; my implants are still a little strange. During my last visit with the plastic surgeon, she decided that since the skin on my radiated side was so thin...

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The Magic of Gratitude

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The past few years have been tough because of, well, reasons. We all have our rough patches, trials, terrible things that happen in our lives. Some of us deal with chronic pain. Some of us have children with physical or psychological difficulties. Some of us, while healthy, have lost jobs and are engaged in a constant struggle, figuring our bills on the back of the envelope, lining through necessary expenses that can’t be managed. Not now. Where can we cut? What do we do when there’s nothing left to cut? Some of us struggle with depression. We may have everything—money, a beautiful home, nice car— yet we struggle to fight through the blackness that descends. Those looking in from the outside don’t always get it...

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A Somewhat Strange Dialogue Between the Body and the Breasts

…for Breast Cancer Awareness Month…

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Body: Well, you have to admit, the underwires do make you look perky.

Breasts: True. That is true. But can we ration them to our once-a-month date night, then?

Body: We’ll see. I’m making no promises.

Breasts: Also, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about those five-inch heels…

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Let Me Get This Off My Chest: A Breast Cancer Survivor Over-shares is Now Available

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When I started talking about my surgery in conversations online, the word “mastectomy” was hard to write. I’m over that now. Available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon, and in paperback on Barnes & Noble

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My Kickstarter Project, or What The Bleep Was I Thinking?

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What the hell have I just done? This is what I asked myself almost as soon as I hit the launch button to make my project go live. Who did I think I was, asking my friends, family, and random strangers on the internet to fund my project..?

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Removing the Bandages

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I stand in front of the bathroom mirror—a pail of warm water, a wash cloth, pair of scissors, and a bottle of vitamin E oil. Slowly, I peel back a corner of foam tape. It doesn't hurt, not the first few millimeters. Then it does. It pulls at my skin, revealing red pain underneath. I grit my teeth and pull a little more, then cut the tape away, dab the skin with the wet cloth, then smooth a little oil over the area. And repeat…

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Two Things I’m Getting For Christmas

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This was a surprise since at my last appointment we discussed surgery in the new year, somewhere in January or February. Anxious to get these uncomfortable tissue expanders out, though, I found myself committing to a surgery date before I’d really had the time to process everything. My mouth said yes; my brain was all fuzzy…

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Normalish: Stacy York's Top Ten Teen Movies

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Movies are my escape when life gets a little too real. (I watch a lot of them). Here are my top ten teen movies listed in random order and a free bookmark...

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Guest Blog Post, Long and Short Reviews

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They didn’t have any restrictions on the topic other than maybe it should be an introduction. So I thought about it and decided to write about my life-long love of reading and how it ultimately led to my becoming a writer (and when I say “becoming,” it’s like a process that I feel I’m in the midst of)...

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Cancer Diary: Some things I’ve Learned

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When I first went through breast cancer twelve years ago, besides the initial shock, my predominating thoughts went to my beautiful two-year-old boy with his long hair and sunny disposition — just as any mother or father’s would. Would I see him grow up? How was it possible that I could be parted from him so early? It was nearly too much to bear. I can remember the waiting — waiting on results and pathology reports; the trip to pick out the Christmas tree the same day I received my initial diagnosis, and how surreal it all was, but there was my child to be strong for, and we – Husband and I — were strong. And everything turned out just fine, which I know it will this time.

But I learned about life the first time...

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Adventures in Breast Cancer! Update 1

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So I spoke to my oncologist to get her input. I thought about how young I was when diagnosed the first time; I’m still considered young for this recurrence. I also considered that there were a lot of years ahead of me in which I’d be worried about the possibility of recurrence on the “good” side. I’ve already been through one biopsy on the good side two years ago…

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Cancer 102 - Second Semester:
Some Breast Cancer Etiquette

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1. When someone tells you they’re going to have a mastectomy/reconstruction, don’t tell them, “At least you’ll get a brand new pair of boobies!” or anything closely resembling this statement in a well-meaning attempt to cheer them up about a sucky situation. I’ve only told a handful of people so far, and I’ve already heard this nearly every time...

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Looking Backward, Looking Forward

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It is customary to do a year in review. First off, I will not enumerate the reasons why 2011 sucked. There's no need. And I really don't find it necessary to access the painful emotions brought about by the sorrows of the year. Not going to go there. This is my reflection, though, on some of the good things that happened in 2011 and my very recent -- as of December 29th, so it got in just under the wire -- good news...

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Transition's Eve, or, Sappy Me...

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Today, on the eve of what is another transition for our boy -- who now stands taller than I and whose feet are two and a half sizes larger than Husband's..? ..! -- I wax philosophical once more.

Here are some random thoughts from a mother whose son is about to be promoted from the eighth grade. I will try not to be too sappy, but no guarantees there...

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Remembering John Lennon


I've been thinking about the controversy he seemed to continually generate. Why? He was honest and bold. He believed in using the platform he'd been given as a world figure to promote his views. Was he cynical and bitter? Sometimes he seemed that way, but as Husband pointed out in a conversation we had just yesterday...

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NaNoWriMo - It's On, Baby!


There are no winners or losers.  It's the international community of writers--hundreds of thousands have signed up this year--cheering each other on.  The first couple of days were tough.  I already had my beginning, had introduced the main characters and the plot, but I had no idea where the story was going...

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Life's Teachers


Just yesterday we talked about [self-edited because Husband thought the subject matter was too gory and morbid]. We also talked about head transplants and their practicality, the whole "ethical" question, and the downright Frankenstein-ishness of it... Read More...

Some People Love Their Jobs


Once in a while, I have an encounter that makes me feel so sour and angry and wretched inside. I really hope I don't have that effect on other people, I really don't, and can't imagine my life's work being to have that effect on others... Read More...

210,000 Gallons a Day?


...and so far, we're basically screwed.... Read More...

My Reflections on Mother's Day, Updated


I think the whole notion of Mother's Day needs to be addressed. My dear mother has found the holiday to be a Hallmark manipulation; a day of obligation. The retailers go into full production mode, it's overdone, overhyped, overpriced, and restaurants are so packed as to be ridiculous...

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My Work In Progress


I have to admit, my blog has been gathering a bit of dust lately. I haven't been as diligent as I should be -- my writing energies have been focused elsewhere...

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The Lightbulb Myth (and the lightbulb joke)


She would be one of the two that complained about how the previous lightbulb was so much better. She wouldn't have mixed the martinis, she wouldn't have called the electrician, she would have called Husband... Read More...

An Open Letter to _______ Concerning Fruitcakes


When I was a young girl, far-off relatives would send the family a fruitcake every year before Christmas, and every year it would sit in the middle of the dining room table untouched. In moments of desparation, I'd try to carefully extract the tiny bits of cake from the surrounding fruit and nuts only to end up frustrated, cursing it. But maybe a fruitcake is more than just a fruitcake...

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I'm Thankful for Green Day


These three go without saying, but can't be understated: I'm thankful that Husband, Charlie and I are all in good health. The people in our lives are what make life worth living. Besides those three, what else am I thankful for..? Read More...

On Being Not So Nice


I haven't been very nice lately.  I don't know why... Read More...

Fall Forward (and the Dog's Birthday)


Fall feels like the possibility that something new and exciting is about to happen. There's something in the air. Even the color of the light is a little different. To make sense of this...

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Remembering 9/11


They cared about their fellow human beings, often putting the safety of strangers above their own. Heroes, true heroes, were made that day... Read More...

Mad Men (and the women they loved)


Ah, the ’60s were great, weren’t they? Doris Day, clean-cut all-American astronauts, Mitch MIller, Look magazine... How we all long for that joy-filled, unpretentious time. Let’s take a look back at that wonderful era as seen through the lens of our advertising media. What were we selling ourselves? What did we want? Oh, and see if you spot the fake ad...

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Las Vegas Road Trip


My feelings about this town can be summed up with the fact that I'm most happy when I can see it in my rearview mirror. A go-go dancer in a micro-micro bikini doing her dance is right in front of me and not 10 feet away, a giant plastic SpongeBob Squarepants advertises the “SpongeBob in 4-D” ride; you know, for the kids...

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Summer Poetry Kicks


The first time I heard it, I scoffed at the idea of it actually being considered a poem. (I admit, I am a scoffer sometimes.) Something about it, though, has gotten to me. Every time I read it, I like it a bit more. Maybe it's its economical use of words... Read More...

Thoughts About Mom


Uh, that’s hard for me to look at too and way too big, but looking through the newspaper ads (yeah, we still get a real paper newspaper), I learn that moms just love $48.97 diamond heart pendants...

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"The Year of Magical Thinking"


I remember after my dad died thinking back to the days before when he'd complained of pain in his left arm.  We later knew that this was a sign.  If only we'd done something.  The kind of thinking seemed to perpetuate this feeling of re-emergence, as if we could turn back time if only we had done the right thing.  If only.

Flash forward: With spring break drawing to a close, the boys and I went out after dinner to Barnes & Noble to look around and give Charlie a chance to use up his remaining gift card from Christmas.  Husband was looking for a last-minute gift (the next day being my birthday)...
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Story Telling


So many of us record our stories, our lives, in our blogs for everyone to read (or not). I thought about how an illness or accident can take us and change us so completely. One day we're walking around, minding our own business, the next we're confronting our own mortality and weaknesses. We all have our stories. But then, I also thought, some stories really need to go into the vault, never to be heard again. Let’s talk about apples... Read More...

It’s Neighbor Day: Some Random Thoughts on Coffee, Yardwork, and Mr. Rogers?

My happiness level is a little on the low side since I've given up coffee and chocolate. Cognitively I don't feel as sharp as I should be and have to admit to being a little depressed. (Coffee is a mood elevator?) So I've been cheating a little and allowing myself a tiny cup (I mean tiny, like a demitasse cup) of coffee once a day as desperation sets in... Read More...

So Much for Not Worrying

So my Lenten no-worry policy lasted for about three days. Those were good days. On day two, I noticed my right breast was swollen but didn't worry yet. After a couple more days, I decided to see my oncologist... Read More...

I'm Giving Up Worrying for Lent

One year I gave up chocolate. It wasn't that hard. There are lots of desserts out there without chocolate. I could have had a glazed donut every day and kept my promise. What is there left to give up? Aside from my husband, son, and our ridiculous dog... Read More...

How Do We Love Our Neighbor If We Don't Even Like Them?

Note: This post is NOT about my neighbors who are pretty likeable...

Our friends have neighbors who are odd and for some reason seem to enjoy causing problems for all those around them... Read More...

The Next Week...

It was just about a week or two later that my coworker in costume jewelry (and a total head case, I might add) coerced me into tagging along on one of her dates... Read More...

Pieces of My Heart and Random Valentine's Day Thoughts


Years ago, when I was still in school, I worked the costume jewelry counter at JC Penney.  It was a pretty sucky, mind-numbing job and didn't last too long; but I remember the days leading up to Valentine's Day, the rush of last-minute guys shopping for wives and girlfriends.  They certainly weren't the big spenders; we didn't have anything over let's say $50...

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Behind the Story: Is Grandma Okay?


Our friend Laura G. has sent us a new story. When I read it, I was struck by how it applied to my family at this moment in time. Last week, my mother-in-law was in the hospital for a few days. She's okay, but we, our son especially, have to deal with the fact that she's getting older...

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Living in my Head; The last Week of Vacation

The last few days, I've been living in my head entirely too much, worrying about my ill brother a thousand miles away; also thinking about my mom and sister Mary caring for him. Mom says I worry too much, which is true. Worry is such an unproductive use of energy, but there's an element of guilt there too. How can one blissfully go about their lives when they have loved ones suffering? The great thing about kids (and pets maybe to a lesser degree) is they force us to move forward, propelling us out of bed, out into the world... Read More...

StoryRhyme After Dark: A Divorce Story for Parents and Children

“Sometimes Corinna wonders why they got married if they don’t like each other so much that all they do is yell at each other. If her father tells her mother that she’s fat and ugly, and her mother says that he’s nasty and selfish, then why did they get married? She thought that love was forever. Did her parents not love each other? Then why did they get married. Maybe her parents pretended that they loved each other. Maybe they pretend that they love her and Amanda. Maybe her parents really are like what they say to each other? Is her mother useless..?” Read More...

Volunteering: A Tale From The Trenches

She was unhappy then; she's unhappy now. Bianca wants to be, in her words, sitting under a tree with a book but has found herself instead in this communal situation where everyone is in everyone else's pockets. She doesn't want to play bingo or cards. She's tired of the social activities designed to keep the residents busy. She wants to be independent -- cook for herself, be on her own timetable -- but her circumstances don't allow that... Read More...

18, 19, 20 Kids and Counting and the Tater Tot Casserole Recipe: Updated

Lying in bed last night, eyes wide as saucers, I gave up on sleep and went to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Flipping through the cable channels (yes, my life is dominated by media) I came across "The Duggars: 17 Kids and Counting" on TLC. I am strangely fascinated by this family...

Update: "The ultimate Christmas gift from God," said Jim Bob. Well, it's "18 Kids and Counting" now...
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Why Was Jim's Gift to Della Ironic in "The Gift of the Magi"? Updated



These were the words used in a search query by someone (likely a high school freshman) who found StoryRhyme.com. To the seeker: I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you didn't read the story, did you? Because if you did, you'd know that O. Henry's use of irony is not exactly subtle. In fact, if at first you didn't know what irony meant, you would after reading "The Gift of the Magi..."

Update: Jim And Della's Gifts; Irony... Okay, since it's the season of giving and since I don't want to feel like I've got spiders in my soul like The Grinch, I'm directing this post to the many of you who are seeking the answer to the question: What is ironic about the gifts Jim and Della gave to each other. Also, what were they really giving...

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Truth & Quakers

So do we always want to hear the truth? I don't think so. When we ask our partner how we look, don't we really want them to tell us, "You look fabulous"? When we ask for the opinions of others, aren't we looking for validation? How do we live in community together if we don't shade the truth a little for those we love? Do we really tell the host or hostess that dinner was awful..? Read More...

The Allure of Cheap Hair Products: Hair Diary Part 3. Hens Are Not the Same as Roosters

I think I'm getting to be an old hand at this dyeing stuff. Well, I have done it twice now. Go to the drugstore with the top of the old box (very clever). Husband suggests I go lighter this time (to replicate Michael's results). Sound advice; right (from a guy who goes to SuperCuts)..? Read More...

May God Bless These United States of America

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to the stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear on cheerfully, do all bravely, awaiting occasions, worry never; in a word to, like the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common..." Read More...

Road Trip: Remembering Grandma



At the age of 2, Grandma moved with her parents and brother from Kansas to the Arizona desert to homestead. Her mother (my Great Grandmother) taught school in the one-room school house and owned and ran the general store. Life was hard in the small ranch town. It was remote and often lonely...

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LightSpeed Update

If given the choice, I'd rather take a nap than have to learn something new...

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New Tricks for a Somewhat Older Dog

Intuitively I know that change can be a good thing, but for me, change often falls into the category of it's good for you, like eating your vegetables or cutting donuts out of your diet. Not always the most fun; sometimes a challenge. Fifteen years of doing one thing one way are now at an end... Read More...

Gravity: Friend or Foe?

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Gravity has not been kind. I examine my face, looking for the right angle of attack for makeup application... Read More...

Ch-Ch-Changes (updated)

I feel like such a heel. His friends will all be starting school (right at the end of our street) next week, without him. Today he's blazing a new trail on his own... Read More...

How "Elf" Saved Me From Despair

First Husband, then Charlie, then me. And I've had it the worst... Read More...

Play With Dog; Do Homework

A while back, my mother-in-law gave Charlie a dry erase board (complete with AARP logo) -- magnetic -- so, of course, it ended up on the fridge, which is almost covered, but there are still a few inches of white space left. Very few. My favorite piece of fridge art right now is Charlie's picture of a monster Hello Kitty drawn in the style of King Kong or Godzilla, towering over destroyed skyscrapers and swatting at airplanes, using his (her?) heat ray eyes to destroy a passing helicopter. The tanks have no effect on him...

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If I Knew Then What I Know Now; My Sister-in-Law

When Husband and I were prepping for Charlie to start school, we didn't think the school itself mattered as much as the parent-child involvement. While the aforementioned is certainly key, the other night, I felt a twinge of regret as I watched my sister-in-law doing some last-minute sewing. She was making a tiger for her classroom production... Read More...

Mother's Day; Reflections on Motherhood

Before we had our son, Husband and I would think nothing of a spontaneous trip into the city for a midnight dinner at our favorite 24-hour dive. We were night owls; expert sleepers... Read More...

StoryRhyme After Dark: Sister Kathy's "Empty Nest"



We have children. We love them; we teach them; we enjoy them. But only for a few years... Read More...

Bad Haircut, Part 2

Okay, I'm really questioning my hair judgment at this point. Refer back to first post (mousy hair). Read More...

Painting. The bad haircut.

Have just finished painting our master bedroom and am happy at last. Major undertaking (for me at least)...

Got a bad haircut today. I miss Michael. He cut my hair for years. He moved to the desert a few months ago. Against my better judgement, out of desperation, I went to one of those chain salons... Read More...

Lord of the Rings? Politics.

Just finished reading a long, very boring article on the religious symbology in the "Lord of the Rings" movies (and books) in an online literary journal. I think I can sum it up much more simply...

Now, I know I said before that this wouldn't be a political blog, but I just had a thought to share. I think that Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh should get married and go on a very long honeymoon... Read More...

To use a pen name or not?

To use a pen name or not? What do you all think out there? As those of you who know me know already, I'm using a pen name for my stories, which has been a bit of an internal struggle for me. Read More...