Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #349

 The 13 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. A wholly subjective list of the 100 best shows appeared in Variety last year. Here are the top 13. I don't agree with many of the rankings, but what the hell. It's all good fun.

13. Succession. HBO, 2018-2023. I watched the beginning of the first episode twice but just couldn't get into it. Every character was so unlikable! But a lot people love it.

12. Sesame Street. PBS. 1969 to present. I was too old for the show myself, but I watched it with my kid sister, and then with her children. I appreciate the artistry, the sterling intentions, and all the good it's done in the world.

11. Cheers. NBC. 1982-1993. The bar where everybody knows your name. I like the show, but I wouldn't rate it this high. Ted Danson appeared in every episode as Sam Malone and I think he's the best thing about it. I don't always like Sam, but he's always good company.

10. Roots. ABC. 1977. I admit I never saw it. This was before VCRs, DVRs and streaming, I was 19, and simply too busy being 19 to commit to watching a mini-series. However its power is undeniable. I never saw the miniseries or read the book, yet I know the bare bones of Kunta Kinte's story. It was everywhere, like air.

9. The Mary Tyler Moore Show. CBS. 1970-77. This show had a massive impact on me in real time. Mary Richards had a tiny apartment, money woes, a fabulous wardrobe and a work family. My first apartment was a studio, I was barely getting by, I spent too much on clothes, and my closest friends and confidantes were the people I met at work (at that point I was a secretary at Sears Tower). After Mary herself died in 2017, our associate minister remembered how reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show inspired and comforted her through her loneliest days away at college. A nice legacy for the lady to leave.

8. Seinfeld. NBC. 1989-98. I hate this show. No, really. I loathe it. It's worse than just not funny. It's hostile. I know that humor is subjective, and if you like Seinfeld, enjoy the reruns. But truly, I'd rather have dental work that endure 5 minutes of it.

7. The Wire. HBO. 2002-08. Never saw it. Maybe I'd enjoy it. After all, I love Law & Order and this sounds very similar.

6. Sex and the City. HBO. 1998-2004. My girls! I loved that Carrie was a writer who was bad with money but great with her girlfriends. Plus, she loved living in the city and brooked no criticism of it. Just as Mary Richards made me feel understood in the 1970s, SATC took me into the new millennium.

5. Breaking Bad. AMC. 2008-13. I tried, I really did. But after a couple episodes, I realized I just didn't give a shit about these characters.

4. The Simpsons. Fox. 1989 to present. I've only seen it once or twice. I know this must sound unAmerican, but I just never cared about this show one way or the other.

3. The Sopranos. HBO. 1999-2007. I watched the first season and then gave up on it. It's not that Mafia dramas turn me off; I've seen The Godfather so often I can recite it. I just never got into this one. Maybe, now that it's streaming, I should give it another shot.

2. Mad Men. AMC. 2007-15. Trust me, this is a docudrama. I spent 43 years in advertising and I know these characters and these situations. Like Peggy, I started as a secretary and worked my way up. Like Peggy, I only knew men from the office and slept with the wrong ones. Like Peggy, I became a creative director and won awards. There were weeks I simply couldn't watch Mad Men. It reflected what was going on in my life so closely that it didn't feel like entertainment. That's how good it is.

1. I Love Lucy. CBS. 1951-57. No argument from me. It premiered before I was born and it still makes me laugh. I think Lucy Ricardo appealed to me when I was little because she acted and responded just like I would, if only I was able to cross the street by myself. Then I came to have crazy respect for Desi Arnaz. A refugee from Cuba, he came to America with nothing and built an empire. Above all, there's Lucille Ball. She was beautiful, tough, ambitious and steadfast. Insanely talented and oh, how she loved Desi!

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage by Ruth Painter Randall. I love the premise of this book: Mary Lincoln deserves a "new hearing." So much of what has been said and written about her has been negative, or cruel, or out of context. 


Ms. Randall gives a new (newish; the book was published in the 1950s) and exhaustively researched look at the First Lady. So far it's sympathetic but not white-washed. (Mary's sharp tongue and impulsivity are often referenced.) And while it can be scholarly, the information is shared in a linear, easy-to-understand manner.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  Laura by Vera Caspary. This novel tells the story of The Laura Hunt Murder Case, a sexy and lurid news story that captivated New York one August in the 1940s. To solve the case, Detective Mark McPherson spends time with, and closely observes, Laura's fiance Shelby Carpenter, her mentor and confidante Waldo Lydecker and her elegant aunt, Susan Treadwell. 

Part of the fun of this book is hearing the story told by different narrators. Writing in such distinctly different voices couldn't have been easy for Caspary but she does it very well. It's an entertaining, evocative book.

3. What will you read next? I don't know.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Sunday Stealing

Stolen from Pinterest

Name a song that...

1. You enjoy, in another language. "Moja droga jacie kocham means that I love you so." That's from My Melody of Love by Bobby Vinton. I often hear Polish spoken around here, and even though this song is silly, I like the sound of it. 

2. Recently introduced you to a new singer. I had no idea who Luke Combs was until he covered "Fast Car." I love his version.

3. You listen to to energize. "Hang Fire." I usually can't stand the Stones but I enjoy this one. Funny that I listen to it to energize because it's about how nobody ever works and nothing ever gets done.

4. Is your favorite song from a musical. Oh, this would change every time you ask me. Right now, at this very moment, I'll go with The King.

5. Reminds you of an old love. Long, long after "Just the Way You Are" was popular, I loved a man who told me it reminded him of me because I was someone he could really talk to and communicate with. So now whenever I hear it, I think of him.

6. Make you think of one of your children. Barren spinster here.

7. Makes you smile when you hear it. No question! This one. Ba de ya!

8. You love but is quite unknown. "Peaceful" by Helen Reddy.

9. That annoys you. Anything and everything by Barry Manilow, but especially "I Write the Songs." No, "Could It Be Magic?" His overwrought come-come-on-come's in that song make me want to punch him. No, it has to be "Copacabana." He's so obnoxious it's hard to choose!

10. That your parents used to listen to. My parents didn't have the same taste in music, so I don't have a single song for this. 

11. From your early years of childhood. "Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew. Woo woo. Woo woo. Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew. Tip toe, tip toe, tip toe. BOO!"

12. That has a color in the title. "Yellow Submarine."

13. That needs to be played loud. "Helter Skelter."

14. That is perfect for a road trip. "Good as Hell" by Lizzo.

15. That reminds you of yourself. "Free Falling" by Tom Petty. I was in a Key West bar named Cap'n Tony's with my friend Henry and this came on the jukebox. Henry looked at me and said, "She is you." I kind of get it. I am a good girl, I did love my Mama. I am crazy about Elvis and do love Jesus and America, too.  I miss my friend Henry so much!

Friday, February 16, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Paper Doll (1943)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The song is about a fellow who is exasperated by men flirting with his girl. Do you have a jealous streak? Yes. I wish I didn't, but when it comes to romance, I do.

2) He's blue after a quarrel with Sue. Did you exchange harsh words with anyone recently? Well, there's someone I was dying to exchange harsh words with, but I resisted. On the 7th, we had a condo association meeting. Gwendolyn attended and, presumably, heard the update on conditions in the laundry room. 

•  The machines would be up and running by noon on the 8th

•  They will not be in their customary spots for a while because work still needs to be done on the baseboards, but they are available for use.

An email went out to everyone Friday morning, restating all this.

On Sunday, Gwendolyn sent an officious bitch-o-gram to those of us on the board, complaining that the laundry room looks a mess with the machines pulled away from the walls and will they ever be available for use? Please advise, because she's "too busy" to try to use the washers and then find out they aren't operational. I wanted to reply that I'm "too busy" to explain the situation three times for wretched nitwits like her, but I bit my tongue. I just asked the management company to resend Friday's email to her. Did she apologize for not only being wrong but for treating us like employees? Of course not.

3) "Paper Doll" was #1 for 12 weeks in 1943-44, sold 11 million copies and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time. Had you heard it before today? Yes.

4) As kids, the Mills Brothers worked on their harmonies in front of their father's Piqua, OH, barbershop, much to the delight of passers by. Do you often encounter street musicians in your neighborhood? When I worked in The Loop, I saw them every day. But in my little neighborhood it's just not done. I don't know why.

5) The Mills Brothers were a long way from that street corner when, in 1936, they became the first African Americans to perform for the British Royal Family. It's about 4,000 miles from Piqua to London. What's the farthest you've ever been from home? It's 4,500 miles from Chicago to Munich, which I visited decades ago. I have friends and family who travel to Europe regularly -- my cousin Rose is saving for a trip to Italy right now to visit her favorite grand nephew who is studying there -- but I admit I'm far more parochial. There are many places in the United States I'd love to see for the first time or long to return to. (Like Honolulu, 4,250 miles from Chicago.)

6) In the early 1930s, the Mills Brothers not only performed songs on radio, they sang jingles for Standard Oil and Crisco. What commercial can you recall having seen (or heard) lately? There's a new Jardiance commercial and I'm disappointed. I liked the original better.  

7) In 1943, when "Paper Doll" was popular, WWII was raging and the US Mint began producing steel pennies because copper was needed for ammunition. Do you have any pennies in your pocket or wallet right now? I have a piggy bank on my kitchen counter, filled with pennies and nothing but. One of these days I'm going to roll the pennies and take them to the bank. Honest, I am.

8) Also in 1943, a bottle of Coke was a nickel. When did you most recently have a soft drink? What was it? I have Coke every day. When I worked at the office, the refrigerator was filled with Pepsi so I took advantage of that, but only because it was free. Coke is always my first choice.

 9) Random question: Have you learned more from your successes, or your failures? Successes. I respond better to positive reinforcement, and find myself dispirited by failure. 

Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash

Life imitates art

The first thing I heard on the news this morning was that Alexi Navalny was dead. I was livid. Just this week, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) had said that Putin is "on the top of his game." Hard right darling Tucker Carlson had given Putin airtime to spread propaganda. The GOP is slow to help the people of Ukraine because ... well ... I guess we like dictators now. Putin is, in Trump's words, "a strong leader."

I wanted to scream. I felt like Connie Corleone at the end of The Godfather. She stormed into Michael's office and waved newspapers with headlines about her brother's murderous reign. She confronted her sister-in-law, yelling, "That's your husband! That's your husband!" 


And so I scream to Tuberville, Carlson, and the MAGA faithful: "This is Putin! This is Putin!" He's a murderer. He's a tyrant. His Russia is the nation Donald Trump is willing to tell that it's OK to "do whatever the hell they want." Remember all this immoral, scandalous, criminal bullshit. Vote in November. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! It's obvious. Democracy is on the line and it rests on you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #348

13 charities I supported last year. President Biden has said, "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value." That quote is top of mind for me this time of year as I pull together receipts for my tax preparer. 

I gave to 27 charities last year* and here are the top 13, highest to lowest. The President is right: this list does reflect my values.

1. My church.

2. My local food pantry. Because these are my neighbors.

3. Harmony House for Cats. Chicagoland has many animal shelters, but I give the most support to this one. They do great work but are somehow under the radar when it comes to PR.

4. Feeding America. This organization supports food pantries and meal programs all over the country.

5. Doctors Without Borders. I'm so glad I give to this one regularly. Whenever I see stories about suffering in faraway places like Gaza or Ukraine, I want to help! Then I realize I already have, because Doctors Without Borders is already there.

6. Greenpeace. I do this in memory of my mom. She worried about the impact of climate change on endangered species.

7. Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. If you read this blog, this one is not a surprise. My favorite ballplayer of all time is devoted to paying it forward, and he inspires me to help. His foundation helps families battling cancer with all the things insurance doesn't cover, including parking and meals at the hospital, rent and mortgage relief, and Christmas presents. Rizz survived cancer as a teen and his experience has informed where the money goes.

8. Planned Parenthood. I am personally opposed to abortion, but that is based on my faith. In America, we should not legislate one religion's tenet over another. Speaking with my Jewish friends about abortion has strengthened my belief that outlawing it is UNAmerican because it blurs the line between Church and State. Also, I just want every woman to have reproductive healthcare so every mom will be healthy and every baby will be wanted.

9. The Night Ministry. Because the homeless are our neighbors and this group helps provide shelter and healthcare.

10. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I can be pretty corny when it comes to patriotism, but I genuinely believe this true: knowing where we've been helps us decide where we want to go. This foundation is so effective in bringing the 18th century to life.

11. Marine Toys for Tots. First in advertising and now at the card shop, I have been involved in commercializing Christmas for nearly 45 years. This is my penance. If I'm going to promote Christmas as on occasion for stuff, I should try to put stuff in kids' hands so they will feel included.

12. ASPCA. Supporting your local animal shelter is important. But when something huge happens -- like the wildfires on Maui -- the ASPCA is there to help. As with Doctors Without Border, supporting the ASPCA helps me feel less helpless in the face of catastrophe.

13. PAWS Chicago. Another local shelter that does very good work. My friend Elaine just adopted her cat, Tuffy, from there!

Before you give to any charity, make sure it's worthy of your money. Check it out at

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

*Lest you think too highly of me, three of those 27 got just $5 each.


An unlikely source of gratitude


Look at me, doing laundry! In my own (shared) laundry room, for the first time since January 5. It may sound counterintuitive, but every chapter of this of this laundry saga has filled me with gratitude.

During last month's arctic freeze, pipes all over Chicagoland burst and we weren't spared. That's why it took us forever to get a plumber out here. Our only burst pipe leads to the laundry room, so we were at the bottom of the queue. Gratitude #1: Many neighbors who live in older buildings, like ours, found themselves without heat or unable to flush. At least our health and comfort weren't at stake.

So this sent me to the laundromat. Since I don't drive, I had to load my dirty clothes into a Hefty garbage bag and then drag it in a rolling shopping cart to the laundromat. This trip took 15 minutes each way through streets that were often muddy. I am entirely too old for this shit. Gratitude #2: I used to do this every weekend. For 25 years! I had to get up early on Saturday morning to be sure that I got washing machines near one another. At least now that I'm retired, I could do it at my leisure and on a weekday afternoon, when it's not crowded.

The laundromat itself is a soul-sucking experience. It's the same one I went to back in the day, but it's fallen into serious disrepair. Probably a full third of the machines are out of order. The TVs are always on but it's disorienting because one has sound and no picture and the other has picture but no sound. The vending machines are mostly empty except for a couple forlorn, Jurassic-era packages of Doritos. Gratitude #3: I knew this was a short-term hiccough. I'm no longer one of the regulars.

The woman onsite is responsible for making change (of course the coin machine was glitchy) and doing the dirty clothes that are dropped off and she is small and old. Now I'm 5'1 and 66, so imagine how small and old she must be to look small and old to me. I heard her tell someone on the phone that she works every day until 7:00 PM. Imagine being in those rather depressing surroundings, dealing with the stained underwear of complete strangers, hour after hour, day in and day out. Gratitude #4: I have no training in anything but advertising writing, and I don't want to do that anymore. I'm so lucky that CeeCee took a chance on this small old lady and gave me a job the card shop. I get to spend my time among scented candles and pretty wrapping paper and it's been fun this month to help parents and kids pick out Valentine gifts for classmates. My favorite: this set of heart-shaped crayon rings. A kid can break up the set and tape one to each of his Valentines, and his classmates can trade them for the color they want. Isn't that better than folding fitted sheets?

Tuesday, February 13, 2024


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Laura by Vera Caspary. It's a miserably hot summer day. Most fashionable New Yorkers have skipped town for the weekend, escaping to the beach or the country. Yet it seems one of the city's popular women changed her mind at the last minute and didn't go to Connecticut, after all. That change in plans was deadly because Laura Hunt's maid unlocked the front door to discover a corpse was found just inside her front door, the face viciously blown off by buckshot.

In order to find who killed Laura Hunt, Detective Mark McPherson spends time with those closest to her: fiance Shelby Carpenter, mentor and confidante Waldo Lydecker and Laura's elegant aunt, Susan Treadwell. McPherson also goes through her diary, appointment calendar and bank books. He finds the victim to be so much more than the frivolous party girl he initially thought and becomes obsessed with finding her killer.

I've read this book before and seen the movie Laura more times than I can count. Yet I'm still enjoying this immensely. The writing transports me back to the 1940s and the plot delivers some most satisfying twists.


2. What did you recently finish reading?  Murder Stage Left by Robert Goldsborough. A successful Broadway producer can't shake a sense of foreboding about his latest hit. He's convinced something backstage is very wrong and if he doesn't put an end to the backbiting and sniping, the show will close early and cost him millions. The producer consults genius detective Nero Wolfe to investigate the backstage shenanigans of his cast in hopes of solving the problem before it destroys his play. 


At first Wolfe doesn't want to do it. After all, no crime is involved. But he is convinced by the promise of something dearer to him than money -- in exchange for this quick, seemingly uncomplicated job he'll get a rare orchid to add to his already impressive plant room. So he takes the case against his better judgement and, much to his chagrin, people start dying.

I always enjoy Nero Wolfe mysteries. This one is no exception. It's set in 1962 -- important to note because one major plot point could have been resolved with a quick Google search. Oh, wait! I forgot! 

I was sure I had it figured out at about the halfway point and was annoyed with Goldsborough (who has taken over the series from its originator, the late Rex Stout) for being so sloppy. Just call me Wrongy McWrongerson. I love to be fooled and once again, Nero Wolfe bested me.

3. What will you read next? Mary Lincoln: Biography of Marriage by Ruth Painter Randall.


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Sunday Stealing

Compassion International

1. What is a big dream you have for the future? To see a second Biden inauguration. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for this country that he prevail.

2. What are your favorite hobbies? Reading, baseball, movies

3. If you could change the world, what would you do? Eliminate the tit-for-tat politics of grievance that have gripped us. I don't know if Donald Trump leads this movement or reflects it, but it's ugly and unproductive and unworthy of us.

4. What places have you traveled to?  What was your favorite? This is so broad! So I'll take the easy way and give you the happiest place on earth.

5. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I once ate breaded alligator at The Taste of Chicago. I don't really recall whether or not I liked it. I just remember thinking, "Look at me! I'm eating alligator!"

6. What are your favorite places to eat? There's a sports bar a few blocks from here that serves both fantastic clam chowder and delicious tater tots. (Though I've never had them together.)

7. What kind of music do you like? Talk about a favorite artist or songs. February marks the 60th anniversary of The British Invasion. I don't think it's possible to overestimate their impact. From their hair and clothes to their irreverence to (most of all) their music, they rescued a United States that was reeling from a national tragedy with songs that will live forever. My favorite Beatle songs are "All My Loving," "I Will," and "Two of Us." (Yes, I'm a Paul Girl.) I genuinely feel sorry for people who don't enjoy The Beatles.

8. What was the last book you read? Laura by Vera Caspary. Originally published in the 1940s, it's great fun if not high art. Caspary transports us back to glamorous New York City where everyone -- from the newsboy on the corner to partygoers in elegant Manhattan salons -- is talking about The Laura Hunt Murder case. Caspary tosses a twist our way that many other mystery authors have since borrowed.

9. If you could meet a character from a book, who would it be? Jo from Little Women.

10. Do you prefer books or movies? Why? Love them both and refuse to choose one over the other.

11. What is something you used to be scared of, but aren’t any more? I'm sorry but I don't have anything for this.

12. What is something you were never afraid of, but are now? I don't have anything for this one, either. So instead I'll answer with this: I used to hate Kathie Lee Gifford more than any other celebrity except Madonna. I realized while watching one of her Balance of Nature commercials that I no longer hate her, so now Madonna stands alone.

13. What item is your most cherished possession? Why? My grandfather's ceramic cable car. He kept his cuff links and tie clasps in there and would let me play with it.

14. What awards or contests have you won? I did pretty well in advertising. I won a CLIO, a DMA Echo and a few CADM Tempos. They were very important to me at the time, but now they're in boxes somewhere in this condo. That indicates how my life has changed and time marches on, right?

15. Do you like working jigsaw puzzles? Nope. I have cats who would be too helpful during this endeavor.


Friday, February 09, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: At Last (1960)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) Etta James sings that "life is like a song." What song reflects how you feel about life these days?
 To you it's Valentine's Day. To me, February 14 is the day Cubs pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
2) She is delighted to have found the love she has always dreamed of. Have you found true love to be the way you imagined it would be? Or has it surprised you? I never expected this, but find I like myself better when I'm in love. To borrow from the Kenny Loggins/Stevie Nicks song, "Whenever I Call You Friend," maybe it's because I see myself within his eyes.
3) Etta's mother encouraged her to not just sing but perform a song, telling her daughter, "Even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it." Is there a singer whose performances often touch your heart? I give you my favorite love song by one of my favorite singers. It's been done a million times, but it's her version that gets me every time.

4) As a teen, she was considered a gospel prodigy and churches all around Los Angeles requested she "guest" at their services. Do you have a favorite religious song? I suppose it isn't technically a religious song, but "America, The Beautiful" is in our hymnal and for special days our congregation sings the whole thing. There's one verse that touches my heart and breaks it all at once: "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife/who more than self their country love and mercy more than life/America! America! May God thy gold refine/Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine." Amen.

5) "At Last" is one of the most often requested songs for the newlywed's first dance at the reception. What song reminds you of a sweetheart? A guy once blurted that I made him feel like Billy Joel because whenever he "just wants someone that he can talk to," he wanted me. So every time I hear "Just The Way You Are," I think of him and that compliment.

This is the last Saturday 9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday.
6) It's been reported that millions of roses are grown specifically for Valentine's Day each year. What's your favorite flower? Carnations.
7) The earliest recorded celebration of Valentine's Day was in Paris in the year 1400. Obviously you weren't around for that one. What do you remember from one of your earliest, childhood Valentine's Day celebrations? Decorating a shoebox and cutting a slit in the lid to collect Valentines from classmates.
8) About 20% of pet owners say they give their dogs, cats, birds or bunnies a Valentine. Is your pet getting something special on February 14? Every day is a special day for Roy Hobbs and Connie. Here they are, enjoying the sunshine on the windowsill after a spate of dark days.

9) Of all the professions, teachers are #1 when it comes to receiving Valentine cards. Did you ever have a crush on a teacher? Of course! Didn't we all?

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #347


13 Maddonisms.
 I love Joe Maddon. The former Cub manager (2015-19) is one of my favorite people on the planet. Since he turns 70 on February 8, I am honoring him with 13 of his more memorable quotes. I don't think they are exclusive to baseball.

1. Don't let the pressure exceed the pleasure. Remember that you should enjoy your life's work.

2. Try not to suck. Stay out of your own way, do the elements of your job well -- in baseball, that's defense, pitching and hitting -- and you'll be fine.

3. If it looks hot, wear it. Dress codes and other superficial trappings shouldn't mask your individuality. Your individuality is one of the unique gifts only you can bring to the team.

4. Respect 90. There's 90 feet between bases. Hustle at all times. Don't take any aspect of your job for granted.

5. You have to be a little crazy to be successful. Another reinforcement of his players' individuality.

6. I never tell fans to temper it. I never tell players to temper it. I'm not into temperance. Passion is good.

7. See it with first time eyes. Don't allow yourself to become jaded.

8. Ignore outcome bias. Don't assume you were wrong because you tried new/different instead of tried/true and it didn't work. You can't know if tried/true would have worked better. So keep trying to come up with new/different.

9. Do simple better. Pare down a task to the basics and then do them well.

10. The process is fearless. Don't focus on the outcome. Focus on the individual plays. If you do everything right, you'll be pleased with outcome.

11. Embrace the target. Get comfortable with the idea of success. Don't let it intimidate you.

12. Don't tell me what you heard. Tell me what you think. No regurgitation. Reach your own conclusions.

13. What you put out there comes back to you. If you put out positive energy, you'll get positive vibes in return.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Happy, timely texts

I admit it: when I'm not actively concentrating or doing something, my mind wanders back to Henry and his current situation. The danger, of course, is that I can miss what's going on in my here and now. And isn't there always something positive going on in the here and now?

It surprises me that joy was delivered via my phone. I've never been one of those people who always has phone in hand.

•  Photos from a former coworker. This story begins before it began. About ten days ago I had lunch with Carla. We used to work together at the ad agency. I ordered a pumpkin martini, which was a beautiful concoction made with vodka, Bailey's Irish Cream and pumpkin liqueur. It was so pretty that Carla wanted a photo of it. When I posed with the drink, I tossed my head back and laughed, as though I was a movie star celebrating an awards win. Me and my pumpkin martini were quite a hit among my Facebook faithful.

Out of the blue I got a text from another former co-worker. I haven't heard from her in more than a year. She said seeing that photo of me looking so happy made her day. She attached pictures of her two kids and let me know what was happening in her career. I was very touched by this. Just seeing me smile made her day. Hearing that, and seeing her two gorgeous and fast-growing kids, made my day.

•  A connection to Jen. She's the assistant manager I work with most often at the card shop. When I first started, she made me crazy, and I suspect the crazy was mutual. She is very Type A. Everything is important, and the stuff she freaks out over is so inconsequential it's hard for me not to laugh. Example: we have a table in the back of the store where customers can experiment with our crafting items. Yesterday's store employees didn't wash the ink off the Valentine stamps! GASP! Jen completely spun out over this. Um ... aren't the stamps created to be inked? And why is this such a tragedy?

Anyway, in order to diffuse the situation and calm her down, I always look for a way to turn the conversation from the mess ... the clutter ... the incompetence back to her. How did she learn to set up a retail display so well? Does she ever bring your kids to the store? Etc., etc. We got to talking about her husband and she complained about what a disorganized mess he can be. I told her I was like him. I am lazy with housekeeping and loathe to throw things away.

Jen finds this fascinating. At the end of my shift we agree on a little project for me at home (first it was throwing away my useless covid-era cloth masks, then it was my sock drawer) and upon completion I text her a photo of a job well done. She always answers instantly and with a ♥. She enjoys rehabilitating this slob. I think it's because I'm more malleable than her husband.

But that's not the point. We spend hours together at the store. It's easier when we like one another. And Jen and I are forming a bond. 


Tuesday, February 06, 2024


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Murder Stage Left by Robert Goldsborough. A Broadway producer is on the verge of the biggest hit of his career. Yet something backstage is wrong, very wrong. His cast is at one another's throats. Who is causing the friction? What can the producer do to alleviate it before the production blows up, and costs him millions of dollars? He consults genius detective Nero Wolfe to investigate the lives, loves and backstage shenanigans of his cast in hopes of solving the problem before it destroys his play. 


Then someone gets dead, and the case takes a sharp turn.


Since this is a Nero Wolfe mystery, I am now happily ensconced in the world of Archie Goodwin. Archie is our narrator and the secretary/chauffeur/legman of the famous detective, Nero Wolfe. I've always been a little in love with Archie. He loves baseball and poker and has a weakness for the ladies. He also has a quick mind and a smart mouth. He's wonderful company as he tells us about Wolfe's latest case.


2. What did you recently finish reading?  Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena. Welcome to Stanhope. It's a lovely suburb where everyone has a nice home, a nice car, and a dirty secret. Take that nice Dr. Wooler. He's successful and charismatic, with a beautiful family ... a crumbling marriage and a mistress. 

Behind closed doors, Dr. Wooler and his wife fight all the time, and always about Avery, their 9-year-old daughter. Avery has oppositional defiant disorder. The girl is angry, willful and arrogant and her parents can't agree on how to handle her. When Avery disappears from their home one sunny afternoon, their home and happy facade crumbles.

Where is Avery? Who is she with? Is she safe? 

Stanhope's finest are committed to finding the girl but it's not easy. While everyone in Stanhope is cooperating with the investigation, everyone is lying.

It's a twisty paranoid thriller. Not as good as the other Lapena books I've read, but solid.

3. What will you read next? Speaking of twisty thrillers, next up is a classic in the genre: Laura by Vera Caspary.


Sunday, February 04, 2024

Sunday Stealing


1. What three words best describe you? Not very tall

2. What makes you unique? The way my mind works. To borrow from Apple, I think different.

3. Who is someone important in your life? Ceecee and Jen, the women I work with most often at the card shop. In the last three months, I have come to feel close to them and involved in their lives.

4. What is something that always makes you laugh? 

5. Who is someone who can always cheer you up? My oldest friend.

6. When was a time you were really proud of yourself? When I wrote that letter to the card shop back in October, explaining to them why they needed to hire me. It felt rather daring at the time and I'm still kinda surprised it worked.

7. What is something that is difficult for you? Accepting that I can't fix people and situations. I dearly want to.

8. What three places would you love to travel to? I'd like to return to Colonial Williamsburg, and Boston, and Key West.

9. What is a fun memory you have with your best friend? Laughing together at stupid shit.  The woman cracks me up.

10. If you could have dessert for breakfast, what would you eat? Strawberry shortcake.

11. If you published a book or wrote a movie, what would it be about? Pets. I adore my cats in particular and have mad respect for dogs and cats in general for how they love us and adapt to living with us.

12. Which is easier, math or English? English

13.What three things make you the happiest? Cats, baseball, the Beatles

14. What is an event in your life that has shaped who you are today? After high school, I got two job offers: receptionist in a dentist office and secretary for Sears, Roebuck and Co. corporate. I took the latter because it was in Sears Tower and I've always been enamored with Chicago's Loop. While I was at Sears, I took the copywriter test and began working on the Sears Catalog, which got me started on my advertising career. I often wonder about the road not taken -- what if I'd taken the job with the dentist?

15. Which is more important, being kind or being honest? Kind.