I'm Not Proud Of It

On most days I turn on my computer to find that I’ve been invited to join a contest or have supposedly won one I never entered. Let me be clear: I never win contests* and seldom enter them. I’m a great finder of things, particularly in the homes of people on vacation. My streak of bad luck at winning contests started with, surprisingly, a win. It happened in the fourth grade when my entire grade school was herded into the all-purpose ...

Tips on Growing Hollyhock

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), with their big and beautiful blooms, are among summer’s tallest and showiest flower, growing up to 6 feet tall in one season! These old-fashioned flowers are cottage garden favourites and are becoming more popular in recent years. Hollyhocks come in a wide range of pretty colours and would be ideal for borders or backgrounds, planted along fences or walls. But you don’t have to go to great heights to get these beauties to bloom. Here are some gardening tips ...

How to Plant a Tree

We love trees! Trees add beauty and colour to the landscape. They also provide shade and shelter for creatures of all sizes. Moreover, they clean the air, and help alleviate soil erosion. Fall, with its mild temperatures, is a good time to plant trees, small shrubs and perennials. Whether you want a deciduous or coniferous tree, choose one that is suitable for your region and climate zone. Native trees are adapted to thrive without much care. Don’t forget to consider the ...

Reflections: On Hope – Don’t Quit On Your Life…

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” Thich Nhat Hanh Reflections: On Hope - Don't Quit On Your Life... celebrate life... don't quit! Reflections: On Hope - Don't Quit On Your Life... Join us Washington Square Park... At different points in our lives, we come up against some very dark times and it is in those moments, our darkest hours, that we ...

Reflections: The Moon….

“See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…we need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta Reflections: The Moon.... Lunar Moon over The Parthenon... The Moon by Emily Dickinson The moon was but a chin of gold A night or two ago, And now she turns her perfect face Upon the world below. Her forehead is of amplest blond; Her cheek like beryl stone; Her eye unto the summer ...

Cool Places to See Flowers: The Bataille de Fleurs in Nice, France

Every February, the picturesque city of Nice, France hosts the largest carnival in the country. This year, the Nice Carnival is celebrating its 140th birthday with the theme “King of the Five Continents.” The main attraction during the 3 week winter festival is the world-famous Bataille de Fleurs or the Battle of Flowers, where elaborate, larger-than-life  flower-covered floats are paraded down the street with extravagantly costumed models throwing thousands of flowers into the audience. For the spectators, half the fun is trying to ...

Small World

Mrs. Chatterbox and I flew from Portland to Sacramento to visit our oldest friends a few months after my dad unexpectedly died in 2008. Our friends didn’t have room to put us up so we checked into a nearby hotel. The next morning our friends were picking us up and treating us at their favorite breakfast spot. While waiting for them to arrive I heard a conversation on the far side of the lobby. Three seniors were seated in leather chairs ...

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green…

“Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Weekly Photo Challenge: Green… Weekly Photo Challenge: Green… Weekly Photo Challenge: Green… Green–The symbol of growth, renewal, and the rebirth of plant life (sometimes all life) on earth; an expression of fertility, freshness, youth as well as inexperience. It is the color of paper money. Some mixtures suggest envy, jealousy, guilt, disease, ...

Have No Fear – How to SCORRE as a Speaker

The fact remains that one of the top fears that people have – even more than the fear of death – is the fear of public speaking. I’m not a counselor or psychiatrist, but the best way that I’ve overcome fears in life is by facing them. That’s one of the reasons I’m attending the Launch and SCORRE Conferences, which help individuals become more confident and accomplished at conveying the benefits of a product, service or message. Public speaking is part of that. It ...

The Crippling Power of Pride

I had a conversation yesterday with a colleague from work that continues to linger with me. During our small talk, the conversation turned to the topic of our children respectively. He happens to have a 20-something son who teaches English to executives in Japan. His son also works part-time at a Japanese university where he also teaches English. When I asked if his son spoke Japanese the father replied, “…not very well…” He went on to say that when his son goes to the ...

My Pinterest Boards

This photo is one of my “No Comment” pins What I love about Pinterest is its hit-or-miss attitude. There’s no pressure to pin on any schedule or with any intention of finding closure. It’s an option that accommodates spur-of-the-moment captures as well as planned collections. The latter are sometimes secret boards; for instance I’ve got a hidden board going called Great Wharf that puts me in mind of the setting of my novel When Mrs. Cook Got Out More. If you haven’t ...

Searching For a New Paradigm?

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of an online writing acquaintance of mine, Les Dossey. He’s a writer, speaker and life coach who specializes in helping men become high performers in all areas of their life – personally and professionally. If you’d like to submit a guest post yourself, here are the guidelines. ============================================== Is it acceptance, opinion, religion, doctrine, tradition you seek, or Truth? Be warned… ignoring or answering that question, will change your life. 13 years ago that question meant nothing to me. The world from my ...

A Memorable Date Night With My Daughters

Our two girls on our “date” last night One of the best books I read shortly after the birth of our oldest daughter – nearly 11 years ago – was titled What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter’s Life by Dr. Kevin Lehman. I found this book to be very insightful and helpful as a new father. The most important lesson this book taught me was the crucial role that the opposite gender parent plays ...

How did you propose to your fiancee???

How did you propose to your fiancee???

Check out this surprise marriage proposal video, it starts a little slow but it's necessary to set the back story for the couple.  It got me thinking about my own proposal, which I share below - I'd love to hear about yours! My wife (Kim) and I have been happily married for 16 years. While we've had our ups and downs, I wouldn't trade any of it - but it all began when I asked her to marry me in a ...

Best Animated Short Film

Have you seen “The Fantastic Flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”? It took the win last night at the Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film. A dear friend of mine just posted the YouTube link to her Facebook page for all her book-loving publisher friends, of which I am one. I pass the video along to you here (below). If you take the fifteen minutes required to watch it, you will be glad you did. This gem of a short ...

Being a Jedi Mom….

Jedi Master Mom (and the rest of us) I thought I had a happy childhood growing up. There was no substance, emotional or physical abuse in my family. And I still bitterly miss both my parents – who passed away – particularly around Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. While I loved both my parents, when I consider their parenting skills I find that they were lacking. For instance, I don’t remember my mother having a bubbly, effusive, happy personality. She seemed to be in ...

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Contact: Holding hands with horses.

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The problem with focusing on hand contact is that the most important area of contact is always our seat. We ride with our whole body and there is a bizarre mutually exclusive rule that comes into play while learning something new. Do you know it? If you are riding rhythmically along and you have to engage your brain on a task with your hands, your seat stops as soon as your brain starts …

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Wrestling with Helmet Safety.

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I know I can’t change the minds of cowboys and cowgirls who think their proud heritage will save them from brain injury. Riders who think a fashion statement is more important than… okay, the rant begins again. Sorry. I’ll take a breath… Because there is no debate, nothing to defend. Helmets save lives, just like seat belts. And still, we needed the law. So there are helmet laws in a couple …

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Lyme Disease

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My friend Tom who lives by our farm called me the other day and told me he was diagnosed with having Lyme Disease. He had been having many medical issues for the last several years and doctors he had been seeing, missed diagnosed on all ailments and his health never improved.. He was searching the internet to see what could be causing his problems and his symptoms were …

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An Argument Against the Whip.

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There is a time-worn adage about whips. Just like bits or spurs, whips are only as cruel or kind as the rider using them. Maybe. My mentor rarely rode with a whip, but if she did, she carried two. The most challenging horses loved her. Her corrections were impossibly quick and always fair. She was twice …

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Arizona Butterfly and Moth Update–November, 2013

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Arizona Butterfly and Moth Conservation Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata) Arizona’s butterfly. Butterflies and moths are pollinators and they are food for other species. I know of no harm they cause to human interests. Nevertheless, many die from insecticide poisoning and others decline due to human removal of caterpillar host plants. The conservation status of these familiar …

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Arizona Bird Update–October 2013

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The Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count shows that since 1967, many U. S. birds have declined. Twenty of our most familiar bird species (Common Birds in Decline) have lost at least half their populations over the past four decades. The causes of some of the declines are know. Observers have reported direct connections to habitat destruction for …

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Arizona Amphibian Update–October 2013

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Arizona Amphibian Conservation Status Jill, One-Eyed Rocky Mountain Toad Amphibians are faced with insurmountable threats worldwide. Habitat loss, invasions, toxic pollution, and disease have placed them near the top of global conservation concerns. Arizona amphibians and other desert amphibians, are most threatened by habitat loss. The growing human population is using water so fast that springs and streams are …

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