Grasshopper Mind



DECEMBER 31, 2023

 It's NEW Year's Eve. The messages are clear :Out with the old. In with the new.  Hold on, not so fast. Years cannot be erased or forgotten by the flip of a calendar. The click of a button.


The year ending is full of memories.  So is the year before that.  And the one before that. I don't make New Year's 'resolutions'.  Each year around this time I find myself remembering the fun expressions of family and friends no longer with us. These  are the memories that stick, no matter how many  new years roll around.


Memories are messages we carry forever.


Do make room for the new.  The old will still be there.  So drink a cup of kindness yet to those who made so many years memorable.   You are their legacy.


# # #








DECEMBER 20, 2023

This week a good friend gifted me a small and beautiful book titled 'Rules for a Knight.'  It is definitely one to share.  Assuming you have received a bounty of traditional Christmas wishes to relish, I thought I'd share a small portion of my gift.


This page is written as Grandfather and Grandson are camping by the ocean during troubling times in Cornwall, England.


Grandfather says "While I teach you about the ways of war, I want you to know the real struggle is between the two wolves that live inside each of us."


"One wolf is evil -  it is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, deceit, false pride."  "The other," he continued, as he poked the embers of the fire --


"The other wolf is good.  It is joy, love, hope, serenity, humility, loving-kindness, forgiveness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith."


"Which wolf will win, Grandfather?" asked the boy.


The old man stared into the glare of the flames, and replied -


Whichever one you feed.


Peace on earth. Good will to mankind.




DECEMBER 9, 2023

 A few days ago, I braved the throngs and waded into a few stores.  Moms, Dads, and lots of children.  The youngsters dithering with excitement, the moms, dads, and other adults withering with exhaustion. 

There were carts loaded with boxes large and small.  Everyone seemed happy enough, smiling and civilized.  The carts and the contents did bring back fun memories. 


You could say we reared our sons to be frugal – not stingy or scroogy, but careful with how they spent their meager funds.  I recall them calling loudly across the aisles of Bush Stationers – “Can we afford this, Mom?”   Or, with a concerned face, telling a shopper – with certain do-dads in their cart ... “My Mom says those things are a waste of money.”  Shopkeepers were never sorry to see us leave.


We didn’t think our children were deprived.  They didn’t seem to think they were deprived.  That’s how life worked.  If you can afford it, and it makes you happy – go for it.  If you can’t afford it, better wait until you can, and it will make you even happier.  If you have some to spare, share it with someone who needs it more than you do.  That’s how we’d like life to work.


Gift giving is about the heart, the thought, the message.  Some of my most treasured possessions are handwritten childish notes, a blue bowl from a favorite aunt, our first Christmas ornament, the funny carving from Uncle Jim. Memories.


So, I will happily sally forth with the spirit of Christmas urging me along. I'll try to forget the long ago question  “Mom, can we afford this?” I'll just say – go for it, make someone happy.  There’ll even be some left – you know what to do with it.


Good tidings and great joy,



NOVEMBER 26, 2023

Beginning in a week or so, children in England will be singing outside neighbors doors; hoping for a generous response to their off-key melodies.


With the first song - not really a carol - the group loudly proclaims: Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Will you please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a half-penny will do.  If you haven't got a half-penny, God bless you."   We didn't really mean God bless them.  In fact, we had a rather rude song we sang if they banged on the inside door and told us to go away, or worse - bugger off!  It included our fervant wish that they choke on a black pudding.


Mother seeks the education of her uncouth and greedy offspring.  She asked, "Do you know the meaning of this yuletide message?"  Of course not.  What it is trying to tell us, she explains, is that it is not the size of the gift.  In fact, it doesn't matter if you cannot spare any money.  What matters is that you GIVE.  Give money if you can, no matter the amount.  If you can't afford money, give your time to fix him a meal. If you can't spare time, give your blessings and connect this 'old man' to the help he needs.


Did we respond with warmer hearts of understanding?  No, we did not. Not right then.  Our mission was to get money out of our stony-hearted and poor neighbors; the more money the merrier.  Still, the meaning of the message took root.  Later, with children of our own, the message nudged our memory and conscience.  - it's meaning makes so much sense.


We are a nation of givers. It seems to be in our DNA.  It's hard when our mailboxes bulge with requests for help. We want to help all of them.  Most of us cannot do that.  We select the needs closest to our hearts.  We give what we can.  It is not the amount. A half-penny will do.  Our message is, "I care."


Thank you for caring,



# # #



WORDS from friends

NOVEMBER 19, 2023

The power of words, it seems, remain constant. Some words, because of how they are spoken and received, settle in for the long haul.


A special response to the last Grasshopper came from a friend of 70 years. In 1953 Robert was in the military, I worked for the US Forces in Europe. We were still seen as the occupying force. One evening Robert was in what was left of the city of Nuremberg, trying to buy movie tickets. A young German man, speaking  perfect English, said "Let me help you!"  Those words, from one considered our former enemy, were transformative. Turned out Karl-Heinz and Elizabeth were recently married. They were eager to share and to help. They invited us for blackberry wine, and peeks into home life. They helped us realize uncomfortable situations can be made pleasant with the right words.


A few years later, they emigrated to the USA.  They loved their new country.  They came to Robert's and my wedding in Greensboro in 1956.  They attended Robert's funeral in 2016.  They now live in North Carolina.  We don't see each other much, but we know we will always say to each other 'Let me help you."  The right words at the right time.


Another friend said - "I too love words. Have you read 'The Dictionary of Lost Words' by Pip Williams?"  No, I had not.  I have now.  It is fascinating.  Made my appreciation of words and dictionaries expand. 


Others remembered the words of friends that helped them through challenges and traumas. Traumas like a disjointed childhood. Losing a loved one. Challenges like first jobs and 'do you think this is right?'


Thank you all - for confirming the power of words. Thank you Karl and Elizabeth for the right words in 1953 and yesterday in 2023.


Your words also reminded me that of all the words, 'the greatest of these is LOVE.'  


Here's to an abundance of love and words of friendship around your Thanksgiving table.


# # # 



NOVEMBER 16, 2023

The power of words is enormous.  We can't think or dream in words we don't know.  Words can make us mad.  Make us smile.  Make us remember.  Make us sad.  Words, in whatever language, are what bind us together, or shake us apart. I love words.


During a recent glorious day, cozied on the balcony - notepad in hand; I decided to create a list of my 100 favorite words. It was interesting to see the changes from younger years.  When I knew everything. When I was invincible. Then the most used words were probably: Organize. Work. Read. Exercise. Collaborate. Curiosity. Hopefully they included Thank you. The list was all about doing things right, working hard, loving your family.


Decades later, favorite words still include many of the earlier ones, but the ones that surface more are: Friend. Together. Share. Creative. Dignity. Thankful.  Gratitude. Welcome.  Smile. Enjoy. Listen. Recently I even added 'relax.'


Thankfully we do change.  Such a great awakening when we realize we don't know everything. That we are neither invincible or irreplaceable. Takes a while . Another my mother said quote: "You can't put an old head on young shoulders."


The word that comes most alive as we approach Thanksgiving is FRIEND.  The power of friendship might even surpass the power of words.  Friends are our lifeline. Family is the icing on the cake.


So thank you friends.  I hope this Thanksgiving and beyond you will have many friends for whom to be thankful.


# # #


OCTOBER 31, 2023

We've all heard it, seen it, and are probably guilty of the saving it for a special occasion syndrome.  We have shelves and drawers filled with lovely china and gifts we've received. They give us  a certain joy when we use them. We buy a new wardrobe item that excites us. We say -- Can't wait for a special occasion to wear this.


Perhaps it's time to remind ourselves -- Every day is a special occasion. I should enjoy my happy china every day.  Use my silver or favorite cutlery every day.  Wear that new sweater.  Invite my neighbor for pizza. Days when it's difficult to find that something special will always exist.  Tomorrow's another day.  


If you're old enough, you remember you had to save your Sunday best for church, and special occasions.  As a child, you probably thought "well, this is ridiculoius, I like it, why can't I wear it whenever  I want to?"  Guess what?  You were right.  Children often are.


Thanksgiving is almost here.  Many of us will be 'pulling out' our special occasion, familiar, and much loved things we continue to be thankful for.  A suggestion :  Lerave them out.  Use them. Enjoy them. Relish the memories they hold.  Don't be among those whose family and friends say ... "how lovely. I don't remember this, she must have kept it for special occasions."


Today is special.  Fill it up with things and people you enjoy.


And give thanks.


# # #







OCTOBER 8, 2023

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This was one of Stephen Covey's much exalted 7 Habits of effective people, His theory might work in some areas, but not all.


I have been trying to understand computers since the first PC hit our desks.  Even took early computer classes, when storage and all the other 'stuff'' filled a space the size of my living room. I appreciate what computers can do.  Understand how they do it,? No.  Able to communicatea  current problem to the Chat Robot? Impossible.


The more the world becomes high tech, the more I long for high touch.  I dream of a full service gas station.  A computer genius who sits at MY computer and fixes all the problems I created.  No more crawling around the floor, pull this connection, wait 60 seconds, crawl back . That didn't work.  Maybe you pulled the wrong plug. Of course I did, my hands and knees vision is not good.


Have you tried getting out of a parking garage, where live attendants do not exist?  Apart  from needing arm extensions, getting the robotic machine to accept your credit card is baffling. People behind you curse their luck getting behind such a Luddite.  You consider ramming through the barrier.


Checked in lately at a mobile phone store?  The sign says - use your QR scan to sign in.  My 'phone is dead, that's why I'm here. Is there a human in the house?  What's wrong with your 'phone asks the Robot?That's what I'm here to find out.  Did you go on line first? says the Robot.  Finally, says ChatRobot - Did that answer your question? Unsummoned, I approach what resembles a real person.


Once you get through the maze of options and instructions on your doctor's office telephone, you are told:  If you wish to make an appointment you can do so on line at ...  and they give you the website for smart people.


Airlines charge a fee if a real person has to assist with your reservations.  I mean, what's wrong with you - taking a staffer's time to help you through the muddle they have created? You need to be penalized.


My world, where service is provided by humans, is shrinking daily.  Back to computer and new technology classes for me.  I believe they are called the new survival skills classes.




# # #



OCTOBER 8, 2023

a quick PS received from a friend:


"In times of drastic change it is the learners who survive. 

The learned find themselves fully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists."




OCTOBER 2, 2023

A Grasshopper friend sent this response to 'Attention Please,' I love it.  I'm sharing because I thought other grandmother friends will enjoy it equally.  My male friends - if you agree - just insert Granddad and boys in the right places.


Her response:


“Now here we are, you and I, ready to take on one more slice of life. 

 But we are still girls. Deep inside us, warm and cherished, is the same person 

 who has done the best she could through whatever came into her life. 

 The face is changed. But the Girl is here—the Girl with the Grandmother Face, 

 and the whole world is gonna be glad we’re still around.”


~ From “The Girls with the Grandmother Faces” 

by Frances Weaver


Glad we are still around.  Enjoy.


OCTOBER 1, 2023

No matter how we deny it, I am convinced we all need the gift of human attention.
It could be a smile. It might be an invitation. Possibly someone asking your opinion.
A friend's note, remembering you fondly. We suddenly matter.  It's a nice feeling.

One of my gloomy day boosts comes from a tiny pink booklet.  The words inside are beautifully written by a special niece.  She begins with  "across the pond and throughout the years your presence in my life has hummed quietly along.  As I sit here now wanting to express something of what it has meant to have you as an aunt."  She proceeds tooutline her thoughts. 

Deserved or not, imagine how those words affected my spirit.  I had made a difference.  In a way, large or small, I had mattered.  I might never have known without the little pink memory book my niece created,

My niece's closing words were, "right here, right now, I am holding you in my thoughts," In other words, you have my attention, even though we are miles apart.

Perhaps creating a little pink booklet isn't your thing. It's not the book.  It's the thoughts. It's the words.  Words and thoughts, used kindly, are powerful.


# # #



Labor Day, for whatever reason, drifted me back to my arrival in Chicago, alone, at the ripe old age of 19.  $47. No friends. No job.


Day two in the Windy City the job hunt was on. Recognizing the name Hertz,  I entered the building and presented myself at reception.  I had walked there in a rain and wind storm, and looked like a drowned rat.   "Can I help you?"  asks the receptionist.  Yes, I'd like a job with Hertz.  What kind of Job?  Well, I am a VERY  good secretary. We don't need any secretaries.  Well, what do you need.  Truth is, if she'd said cleaning lady I'd have said ... Oh, I am a very good cleaner. 


In the meantime a gentleman was standing quietly in the foyer space.  He said, 'young lady, come back to my office."  The man was Mr. Ferguson, general manager for this office.  (Note to younger people: Bosses did not have first names in the 1950's)   He listened, asked if I had a resume.  No, but I had graduation certificates from Leigh Junior Commercial College at age 15, showing high grades, head Prefect honor, and a recommendation letter  from the Headmaster.  Imagine where that would get today's young people.


Finally, Mr. Ferguson said: Well, we do have one opening in accounting.  Wonderful, says an enthusiastic me - I have two years in accountng - including double entry bookkeeping.  Never mind the fact I was trained in pounds, shillings and pence.  Let's give it a shot, when can you start?  exclaims Mr. Ferguson.  My excited response:  Today? Tomorrow? 


I left there thinking, goodness - that was easy; how smart am I? Patting myself on the back at my brillint accomlishment.  Turns out I was a bit premature with my self-praise.  Mr. Ferguson had a big heart, he also had a daughter my age who, instead of looking for a job, was headed to Loyola.  He was afraid what might happen to me.  He gave me a chance.


Without someone being willing to take a chance on me - or you - who knows?  When I hear someone say he or she is self-made, I suggest "look back, discover people who helped you along the way."   I have never met a self-made person.


As a wise and successful friend advised - do not judge by the outward appearance; listen to the story.  Whenever possible, offer a chance.  It could become a lifeline.


# # # 





AUGUST 20, 2023

I'm lucky to have friends who talk about what if's or what do you think, instead of the weather.  We're all moms and grandmoms so our conversation often drifts to children, or young people.  You can imagine the dialogue, besides how amazing our own offsring are. It's  social media, kids not getting to play enough, so many things that concern today's parents.


One of our thoughtful group recently asked, "Do you know the kids I get concerned about, maybe even feel sorry for?"  Group shaking of heads.  She said - it's two completely different groups: Those who get everything they ask for.  Those who get nothing they ask for.


If that sounds like a contradiction, she said, think about it.  You get everything you ask for -- you never learn to handle disappointment. You have a harder time coping solo. Your sense of personal accoplishment suffers. Unless a kind adult says 'let's figure how you can make this happen,'  there's a tough road ahead. Those who get nothing they ask for have a different challenge.  They decide they don't deserve encouragement or reward.  Where's the inspiration?   Whatever I do, it won't make a difference.


None of us had really thought of  'all or nothing' in this context.


Perhaps seeing youngsters thrive begins with our own disccipline. Learning to say 'no,' to every demand or wish is not easy. Saying a sincere 'good job' is easier, and feels good.  Both take caring and discipline.


Talking about the weather, which we can do nothing about, might be easier.  Talking about troublesome issues where we could help make the tiniest improvement is definitely more timeworthy.


Our consensus:  It does not always have to be all or nothing.  Balance between the two  was the best promise we could make.  


# # #






AUGUST 4, 2023


Today, August 4th 2023 woud have been Malcolm Forbes 104th birthday.  His son published a Salute to his life, and shared some of his favorite quotes.  One of the quotes was:  "As you get older, don't slow down. Speed up. There's less time left." 


Surely he did not mean run faster, swim faster or speed up in any of the ways that involve strength and mobiity?  Like it or not those abilities do slow down. It's a rare individual who, as they age, speeds up and wins the race.  I'd like to believe he meant  - speed up in ways that can make a difference while time is on your side. 


Another of Forbes quotes was "If I can't take it with me, I'm not going."  Few of us can afford to indulge in hot air balloon rides, or finding the most spectacular Faberge eggs - but we can all do something to enhance our lives or that of others.


Dreaming of a cross country trip? Why the delay?  Wishing you could speak another language?  What's stopping you?  Want to give a scholarship in someone's memory? If you can afford it, do it now.  Creating a Will? Better today than tomorrow. Today you can give with warm hands.  Yearning to gather around your friends just for fun?  They'd love it.  Tell your children and grandchildren (no matter their age)  how important they are in your life? They know it - you know it - say it.


There are so many ways we can speed up without becoming competitive, anxious. Most of them incude doing something with or for someone else.  Most do not morbidly anticipate the grim reaper getting closer. 'Each according to his or her means'  is not from Malcom Forbes, but it is a great planning barometer.  Whatever your means, whatever your plans - if health allows - do it now  or do it soon.  I keep in mind the untimely death of my father, at the age of 68.  Two months prior to his death he had completed visits to each of his children on far flung continents and in different counties.  We feel fortunate he did not wait to tell each of us how proud he was of how 'we turned out' and how mutual love had eased him through a hard life. 


Ready. Set. Go ahead.


# # #




JULY 23, 2023


Sunday morning chats with my brother in England usually involve a brief trip down memory lane. This is followed by boasting about our kids and grandkids.  We’ll slip in a little of our country’s politics.  And always end by reminding each other how fortunate we are.  He is 87. I am, well – his older sister.


In today's chat I shared this quote:  It is not what you do for your children, but what you taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.  Of course, we proudly agreed our kids and grandkids had turned out to be good human beings.  And, deserved or not, we took some of the credit.


Interesting that our teaching method mirrored that we witnessed as youngsters.  It was education by observation.  No sit-down serious conversations. We saw the results of teamwork. We watched an unparalleled work ethic. We saw kindness. There was no favoritism.  The best you could give was anticipated.  We learned to cook, clean, fix, and survive.  We were given meaningful jobs.  We received praise for jobs well done.  There was no ‘is this OK with you honey?’  Acceptance of foods, rules, chores and honesty was expected – it was not a choice.


As always, at the end of our chat we did not feel deprived.  We felt grateful.  We appreciated having lived in a simpler time when there were more individuals from whom we could learn – just by observation.




JUNE 11, 2023

This past week I had some fun mountain days with friends. We enjoyed good food, great laughter, story telling, soaking in magnificent views, and - shopping unique studios and galleries.  Nothing I haven't done before - possibly 100 times.

So what made this time different?  Apart from the fact that these women were interested in everything, could change course on a flexible dime, and there wasn't a critic among them.  What was different was me.  I now look at life through a different lens than the one I used years ago.

Years ago, my thoughts would have been; Do you really need it?  Where in the  world will you wear that?  That's a weird sculpture. A charcuterie for dinner? Not exactly a meal is it? My mind was always on budget, need, sensible outcomes, and usefulness. Not to mention self adopted  guilt for spending on what seemed frivolous .

Over the years my budget  and my mind have expanded a bit.  Keeping budget in mind is still important, although now I ask: Do you love it? Make it yours. Will it add joy to your life?  Does it make you smile?  Does the craftsmanship amaze you?  Can you afford it?   Go for it.  And my still must have a reason mind adds - after all, you are helping the maker, plus you get to enjoy and share.

Tiny clay bird, or exquisite glass vessel, we will never regret making time and space for what helps our hearts sing.

And, perhaps more than anything else, that includes space and time for friends.


# # #

Memorial Day follow up

MAY 27, 2023

Upon receiving my Memorial Day Grasshopper post, I received this from a retired Marine.  I thought it worth sharing:


Memorial Day is nearly on us. . . .  Let us not forget the reason it is memorialized.


About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died in "Operation Market Garden" the battle to liberate Holland in the fall and winter of 1944.

Every one of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been adopted by a Dutch family who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is even the custom to keep a portrait of "their" American soldier in a place of honor in their home. Annually, on "Liberation Day," memorial services are held for, "The men who died to liberate Holland." The day concludes with a concert. The final piece to be played is always "Il Silenzio," a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland's liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since.


This year is 2014 and  the soloist is a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and his orchestra (The Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands). This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of the melody "Taps," and the piece was composed by Italian composer Nino Rossi...


Where are some those  we remember - from WWII:

 1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France... total of 2289

2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium...  total of 5329

3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France...  total of 4410

4. Brookwood, England - American Cemetery...  total of 468 

5. Cambridge, England...  total of 3812 

6. Epinal, France - American Cemetery...  total of 5525 

7. Flanders Field, Belgium...  total of 368 

8. Florence, Italy...  total of 4402 

9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium... total of 7992 

10. Lorraine , France... A total of 10,489 

11. Luxembourg, Luxembourg... total of 5076 

12. Meuse-Argonne... total of 14246 

13. Netherlands, Netherlands...  total of 8301 

14. Normandy, France...  total of 9387 

15. Oise-Aisne, France... total of 6012 

16. Rhone, France.. total of 861 

17. Sicily, Italy... total of 7861 

18. Somme, France... total of 1844 

19. St. Mihiel, France... total of 4153 

20. Suresnes, France... total of 1541 


A total of 104,366 dead, brave Americans.


Please remind people of our nation's sacrifice and tell them not to confuse arrogance with leadership.


             SEMPER FIDELIS


MAY 27, 2023

This is Memorial Day weekend.  It's not really a Celebration. It is a day to REMEMBER. We remember those who have given their lives in sevice to our country.

I try not to be a killjoy, but I find it difficult to wish anyone a "Happy Memorial Day.  I cringe at the words Memorial Day SALE. My lips purse when I see..."It's Memorial Day. The beginning of Summer."

In my seemingly old-fashioned world, picnics are good.  Family gatherings  outstanding.  Patriotic music uplifting.  Flying or planting the flag respectful.  Whatever says  we are gathered here today to remember is appreciated..

Memorial Day asks us to remember those who served this country in all wars.  Some went by choice.  Some were conscripted. They all went. The numbers who did not return are far too many.  The names we must never forget.

So, thank you Stan, Leslie, Thomas, and your thousands of brothers and sisters.  We owe you a debt we can never repay.

God Bless America.

# # # 





MAY 15, 2023

We just celebrated Mother's day. Mine was wonderful.  Like most, I think every day is Mother's day.

Whether your mother is still keeping you on your toes, or is no longer physically here, we all remember mom-isms.

You know - the comments we thought so annoying and absurd.  Now we look back and think how clever, how wise, how memorable.  Some examples from my youth still bring a smile.

Hearing one of us complain: And she just talked and talked on and on. Mother's quiet response: And, of course YOU just listened.

Asking mother to bring something to us: What did your last maid die from? 

Or sometimes: What? You have a broken leg? Get it yourself.

Worrying about a pain we perceived as a potentially dreadful disease: Only the good die young, you have nothing to worry about, Joan.

Imitating someone with a physical challenge:  Stop. God bless the mark.  In other words, you are wishing this affliction on yourself if you do not stop. We stopped.

We say I'm bored. She says: Life is boring only to boring people.  Make yourself useful.

And on went the home grown from the heart responses.


Never preaching, never raising her voice, never threatening.  Always a lesson to ponder - even if the pondering came years later.

Now I pass these on to my children and grandchildren.  Funny thing.  They look at me the same way I looked at my mother.  You know behind the rolling eyes they are thinking ' this woman is weird.'

And I'm thinking - just wait.

So, thanks Mom; you live on.  


# # #


MAY 7, 2023

The coronation of 74-year old King Charles III on May 6 brought back memories for me.  I watched in the comfort of my home, tea and crumpets

deliciously at hand.  My television is not very large, but I did get to enjoy the pomp and circumstance in living color.  I could hear the

mixture of accents, see close-ups of the new King and Queen, as well as relive the rituals as they unfolded.   I felt extra special with my perfect viewing seat.

No one does pageantry as well as the British.  I loved it.


Rewind 70 years to June 2, 1953; and the coronation of 25 year old Queen Elizabeth II.  I watched the ceremony from the sidewalk in Chicago.

I'd moved to that city from England the previous year at the age of 19.  Along with a small crowd, I was looking through the window of a store on Michigan Avenue.  

The store had a small black and white television, screen toward the street.  We couldn't hear, but not many of us had televisions - so just seeing was exciting.


Queen Elizabeth's coronation was very different.  Much more simple.  Great Britain was still recovering from WWII, which ended in May 1945. 

 It was a warm and beautiful ceremony; and given the times most British 'commoners' still thought it quite lavish.


Elizabeth had been Queen since her father died in February 1951 and the people loved her.  Despite rain and rubble they came out by the thousands.

She pledged her life and loyalty to her people, and never let them down.


Charles has been tutored well.  As one journalist noted, he has had the longest apprenticeship in history.  Let's hope we will see a 'like mother, like son'

leader.  One who will make necessary changes - and, as he finally comes into his own - make his MOM and his country proud.


God Save The King.


# # # 


MAGNIFYING the little things

APRIL 28, 2023

During a friends get-togther one of our group announced, 'I just received the best advice for reducing wrinkles.'  Rapt attenton for this magic formula.  She smiled and said 'throw away the magnifying glass.'  Heads nodded in agreement. We are all at an age where, without help, wrinkles are part of our lives.  But, hey, why make them bigger, deeper and more important than they are?  


The same advice applies to so many things we worry about.  Going on a trip, we worry - the boat will sink, we'll get detained at the airport, we'll get food poisoning, our luggage will get lost.  We dig into these worries. We can't let them go.  And so they expand. They exhaust our happy anticipation. Murphy's Law keeps jangling in our ears.  


It seems most humans are hard-wired to worry.  We're really good at it.  It takes its toll.  How do we stop or slow down the worry-wart syndrome? How do we stop magnifying the blips and blemishes in our lives?  Two things I learned that have stuck. One is a rhyme: Never worry worry 'til worry worries you - it only doubles worry and worries others too."  In other words, don't go looking for problems. The other is trust - trust that short of a rare catastrophy, we can handle most adversities that come our way. And trust the law of averages - most of the things we worry about never come to pass.


Mark Twain, an admitted worrier,  told us in his later years : "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  Worrying is like payng a debt you didn't owe.  I spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened."


Magnifying glass or eraser? Both work, depending on how they are used.


# # #









APRIL 22, 2023

Remember when we took our kids driving, or perhaps some of you were the kids?  We'd see people rocking on the porch. Their yards, spread

out like a gruesome canvas littered with junk.   Wide-eyed, the kids would ask - how can they sit 

there when there's so much to clean up? 


The answer from Dad was 'That's all they've ever known. It does not disturb them.'

An interesting observation for our sons who grew up warning each other: "Here comes Mother, look busy."  (If you weren't you would be.)



We'd see trash of every description along the scenic highways.  It was hard, even for kids, to understand how anyone could create such a blight.

Where did all this ugliness come from? It came and still comes from us, the human inhabitants of this beautiful earth.  We are the

only animals that foul our own nests.


Today is the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day. I wonder if, 53 years later, fewer of us are disturbed by the ugliness sprouting up around us? Certainly most of us know better. We echo the cries Something must be done.  We ask who is going to take care of this?  Some of us even ask What can do?  Never has the phrase every little bit helps rung more true.  It's our nest. Our responsibility.  Our opportunity.  Time to get off the rocking chair.  Time to clean up our own act.  No matter how little or how late, anything we do to beautify, improve, and protect our nest -  it helps.


Last time I checked there were 681,000 jobs, with a payroll of $38 billion, devoted to cleaning up our environment.  Hopefully these folks are addressing the big picture.  Like charity, the small but mighty improvements begin at home. 


Every day is Earth Day.  Right now it's all we've got.


# # # 


APRIL 5, 2023


My father was a coal miner.  I am no stranger to hard, dangerous, low paying, essential work. He was the dynamite man. His job to blast out the coal face ready for the back breaking manual labor.  His work made life and the economy better.  Yes – it shortened his life. Yes, he was underpaid and underappreciated. Yes, he fought back against the injustices with little success. He was, however, one of the most amazing men – maintaining a sense of humor, spirit, dignity and astounding work ethic and sense of fairness throughout his life.  He had a purpose.


For the past few weeks an injury has forced me to stay put. It’s been interesting. There’s construction in the building. I’ve had time to observe the men and women who make our lives more livable. I was reminded of my father.  He was proud of his work.  He made a difference.


The painters, sheet rock experts, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, window installers, roofers, those who clear up the debris come and go.  A unique parade of diverse skills and people.  They haul equipment, supplies, and usually a lunch box. Their work is essential to our economy. They make life more livable for many. Most are underpaid and underappreciated. They seem to enjoy their work.  There’s comradery. They have a purpose.


We applaud and reward our professional athletes on a grand scale.  Our plumbers and electricians not so much.  Which could we live without?


Perhaps, instead of seeking who will work for the least pay and praise we consider which skills we can and cannot live without. Reward accordingly.  I’m ready to add the home builders, improvement, and maintenance workers to an already long ‘essentials’ list.  Most of their work cannot be done through artificial intelligence.  What they create still takes the human touch of people with a sense of purpose.




# # # 


MARCH 2, 2023

Not too long ago, a good friend, known for her calm, warmth, and generosity of spirit reminded me of the power of words.  The right ones at the right time.  Or, sometimes unintentionally, the wrong ones at the wrong time.


My friend had recently lost her husband.  She received many calls, cards, visits, hugs, and much love.  She appreciated all of them.  And yet she said when well-meaning friends asked her ‘how are you doing?’ She said “I wanted to SHOUT – how do you think I’m doing? I just lost the love of my life. Instead,’ she added, “I just say … I’m OK, thank you.”  The fact is, continued my friend – “I am not OK right now.  I feel like a puppet going through the motions in a fast-moving parade.”


Tentatively, I asked what one might say?  Her thoughtful response.  “I’ve enjoyed being with those who just listened. They let me reminisce.  They smiled in the right places.  They would frequently interject, “I’m so sorry.”  Some held my hand.  Others hugged.  Whatever was on my mind and heart, they gave it space to escape.”


No matter the circumstances, the questions we ask, the words we use, are powerful.  They make a difference.  We should choose them carefully.  As my friend gently reminded us, if we are at a loss for the right words - our best choice could be - no words at all.  An understanding nod or smile is a universal language we all recognize.


My current reminder - on my left palm, in wash-off ink, I write ssshh.  


# # #

PS to Memory Box

FEBRUARY 26, 2023

I received quite a few notes from friends saying they were memory boxers - but what to do? Like me they could not dream of parting with these links to loved ones. One, came up with a great suggestion, and I asked permission to share.  Here it is.  Thanks to  Linda M.


Joan ~

What a timely posting!!!


I saved every card/note my "gift" children/grandchildren ever sent my late husband and me.  At one point I asked if they would like to have them back as memories and they said yes. Recently (2 weeks ago) my sister-inlaw died a bit sooner than expected and all the kids/grands/nieces/nephews, etc. came for the funeral. I


packaged the cards by grandchild/family and took them to the gathering after the funeral. They had a great time looking at their writings from when they were small and the photos I included as well. We re-lived trips and great memories with their Granddaddy and with me. It made a sad occasion a bit lighter.


Perhaps some of those you have cards/letters from would enjoy reminiscing with you if you find an occasion to share. That way you get to enjoy the experiences again while you're here to hear the joy those bring!!!


Just a thought from a non-Grasshopper mind


Blessings & joy ~




FEBRUARY 25, 2023

I just attempted the impossible.  Impossible for me, anyway.


The task I set myself today was purging a large box of memories.  The box is filled with Christmas cards, birthday cards, thank you and thinking of you cards, inspiring notes from family and friends.  Determined to be ruthless, I delved into the box at 10 am, expecting to be finished by noon.


It is now 5 pm, and the box contents  do not appear to be dwindling.  What happened?  I had a splendid day reading notes, smiling at cards that included family photos, exclaiming at how each child had changed.


With each card, I recalled special occasions; and what made these people important in my life.   Oh my, how Isabella has grown.  Gosh, that was the best birthday party.  I can't believe Caitlyn is married.  The conversations with myself also included: I need to keep this. How could I destroy such a memory?  I must call Linda.


As I put away my only slightly depleted box of memories, did I waste my day? Not at all.  It was a wonderful day.  Hot tea, McVitie’s digestive biscuits wth marmalade, visualizing my friends and family through the years.  Better than a Hallmark movie.


Reading the messages, and seeing the faces from over the years, reminded me – once again – why staying in touch with family and friends is so important.  They are our greatest treasure.  They remind us where we have been.  And sometimes where we are going.  I have renamed this still bulging assortment of memories - my treasure box


Keep sending those cards and notes.  When this box is full, I will start a new box.  As Dean Martin (young people can Google him) soothingly sang – memories are made of this.


# # #







FEBRUARY 17, 2023

February is Women’s History Month.  I have never understood why we have month’s designated for certain groups. We are all part of history.   Still, here we are – and I will enjoy the celebrations.


I was a working woman during the Mad Men era. The times when if married a woman could not have her own credit card or bank account. When women in slacks were forbidden in business offices.  When so many ridiculous conventions were in place. And during these times - actually, I had fun.


The fact that I had fun and challenges means this is not a rant against men.  Men were some of our biggest champions and mentors.  It was the times. The rules and laws of the land pertaining to women were restricting, unfair and absurd.  Our job as women was to work in, around, and through the laws that affected us – and make changes.


Different women made changes in different ways.  When no insult or harm seemed intended; my initial response was to respond with humor.  A little humor seemed to put things into perspective.  An example:  In a meeting and the only woman present, the chairman looking directly at me asks, ‘shall we have coffee?’  My response, ‘no thank you.’  He smiled. Point taken.


In the doctor’s office (very few female physicians then) the doctor solicitously says: ‘shall we get on the table?’ My response, ‘after you.’ Oops.


Waiting for an appointment with the man in charge.  Oh, I was expecting MR. John Zimmerman. Response, “Sometimes my handwriting is terrible, I’m Joan, nice to meet you.’  


Asking CEO for money to launch a women’s political caucus.  His questions: How much and for what? $10,000 to unseat some of your friends from political office.  Knowing nod of the head, request granted.


Sometimes humor can smooth the way to meaningful dialogue. Sometimes not.  So long as it is not ugly or cutting humor, it’s a good place to start.  Elbert Hubbard’s Scrapbook – a wedding present 67 years ago, has a quote that still rings true: To succeed in life you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.


Yes, we’ve come a long way. There are still miles to go. However, we must keep telling ourselves – if we are too busy to laugh, we are too busy.



Thanks Mom – you led the way.


# # #

With each new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)


FEBRUARY 2, 2023

This past week I was asked to read and respond honestly to the draft of a new author’s story.  It was an honor. I said to myself in a stern voice – “Remember you were asked to read not edit.”  No correcting spelling or grammar, no deciding a different word would have been better.  Just read.  I did just that.


The story was fun, interesting, relatable.  I learned quite a bit as well.  I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it because I was not looking for what might be wrong, or ways I would change the story.


The experience made me realize how often we approach life -- people, places, and things with a what’s wrong attitude.   We enter a restaurant – we quickly survey the place.  The wall art is crooked.  The chairs look uncomfortable.  Where are the tablecloths?  Our what's wrong  scan continues.  Why? We're here to dine – not change the décor.


At the expositions our company produces we go through the building like Sherlock Holmes. We're searching for exhibits that don’t meet standards. Looking for anything wrong, something we need to correct.  Why do we do this?  Of course we need to make sure everything is safe and inviting.  Unfortunately, we’re so focused on what's wrong we often overlook the good stuff. 


What happens when we remove our what's wrong glasses?  I don’t know about you, but my mindset changes. Instead of scowling at my car as though it got dirty just to annoy me; I look and think – that’s the best little car. It might deserve a wash.


What  would happen if instead of looking for what’s wrong, we look for what’s right?  If we try to be more like Pollyanna than Chicken Little?  I’m not sure,  I’m pretty sure though that  we – and those around us – would be more relaxed.  We might even discover there's a lot more right than there is wrong.


# # #



JANUARY 13, 2023


When you hear "hoarder" what do you visualize? I see a home spilling over with useless stuff.  I see individuals traumatized by fear of losing any of their stuff.


There is another less obvious kind of hoarder. We see them every day. They may be looking back at us from the mirror. This hoarder is afraid to part with his or her hoard of money and objects; or their intangible time and knowledge. Their physical space is not spilling over. They do have a lot of unused treasure.  Their rationale for hoarding? They might need IT.


When my grandchildren were young, one of my favorite admonitions was 'life works on the law of the boomerang - whatever you throw out, that's what will come back to you.'  One of my quick thinking grandchildren  said 'well yes, grandma, but it might come back and hit me on the head.'  Out of the mouths of youngsters.  It did make me think.  If we throw out ten boomerangs and only one comes back and hits us on the head (or disappoints us) - is that a risk worth taking?   Yes.  These are great odds.


These same grandchildren, now in their thirties, heard my thoughts on giving away spare stuff, money, and time.  Grandma! We don’t have spare stuff, we don't have spare time, and we definitely don’t have spare money. OK. So, would you rather be a hoarder in training or a giver in training?  The results are in for following either discipline. Take your pick.


How much do you need? What do you get delight from owning or doing?  That's what you need to keep.  If it makes you too nervous, give yourself a buffer.


What’s left allows us to throw out more boomerangs.  Odds are most  will come back with rewards we can use.  And the boomerangs keep circling.


# # #