Peculiar Picture #8

Those familiar with Chubby Chatterbox know that I was a professional illustrator for many years and that I have a file cabinet of peculiar pictures that, for one reason or another, were never published. I thought this illustration would get a lot of use when I painted it about five years ago, but you never can tell what images will please art directors and which ones won’t. I always liked this little demon, but maybe he scared people away. Do you ...

Reflections: When Are You Happiest…?

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” Iris Murdoch Reflections: When Are You Happiest...? Being my unfettered self... Being Me. ♥ Being Myself When are you happiest? The question is NOT what makes you happy? I have been on a journey lately… It is not one that has taken me to a new or exotic land. Instead, every day, for several days, I, like many others,  gather with a dynamic group of contemplative  souls; counselors, healers, teachers, artists, ...

Dr. Martin Luther King & President Obama: Faith In The Dream…

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963. Dr. Martin Luther King & President Obama: Faith In The Dream… Dr. Martin Luther King & President Obama: Faith In The Dream… Giving the dream speech Martin Luther King -  I Have a Dream Speech – August 28, 1963 Although his ...

Flowers with Romantic Names!

Scientific names are boring and hard to pronounce. That’s why flowers have common names- ones that are fun to say and easy to remember! And since it’s February and love is in the air, let’s take a look at some flowers with romantic names. Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) The bleeding heart is one of the most easily recognized garden plants. These old-fashioned flowers are a cottage garden favourite because they are easy to grow and will self-seed. Bleeding hearts are named for ...

Inspiration: You Are The Lighthouse…

“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?” Albert Camus Inspiration: You Are The Lighthouse… When those things that happen in the world seem scary, know deep inside that you were built for this mission. You are a lighthouse and you are powerful. This is why you came here at this time and no storm can hurt you. This is when you will feel that you are full. You will know that you are ...

Musings: Breathing Fire…

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.” George Washington Musings: Breathing Fire… In The Heart Of the Fire… We took refuge from the cold The flames lifted gently Then spread like wicked weeds We reached for faith, hope, and courage Our conscience said add more We added prayer and peace… Then, breathing through the fire We headed out the door… More below! “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch Musings: Breathing Fire… In The Heart Of the Fire… We found ...

Musings: In Brief…

“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”   Franklin D. Roosevelt Musings: In Brief…  Piet Mondrian – Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, Musings: In Brief… Blinky Palermo – Staircase 1979 @ Tate Museum “There is a brief moment when all there is in a man’s mind and soul and spirit is reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record.” Yousuf Karsh There are times when our spirit urges us to be still, or silent, or even brief… I don’t know what triggers that sensation ...

New Monkey Flower Discovered!

A biologist recently discovered a new flower, named Mimulus peregrinus, Latin for “wanderer.” Mario Vallejo-Marin was walking along the banks of a stream in Scotland when he spotted the yellow monkey flower. This is not just any ordinary flower. The M. peregrinus is the offspring of two foreign flowers introduced from the Americas, making it a hybrid. Hybrid flowers are typically sterile due to their odd number of chromosomes, making them unable to reproduce. But, due to a rare genetic duplication, ...

Searching for Magic

As I rode the night train up the east coast to North Carolina I was definitely a stranger in a strange land. I felt a little like an actor in a foreign film, (Europeans are always riding trains) and I was tempted to re-invent myself, become Lily Ormond, a sulky poet with an obsession for gum drops, or Julia Van Helsing, the wife of a mad doctor escaping a nightmarish marriage. I decided to remain a struggling American author breaking ...

Avoiding Cyber-Monday Scams

I don’t know about you, but I’m an unrepentant self-admitted Cyber-Monday shopper. I simply prefer the convenience of shopping online for the holidays compared to the crowds and hassles associated with Black Friday which I try to avoid like the Black Plague. However, online shopping does have its own pitfalls – identity theft, computer hacking and compromised debit cards are just a few. Here’s a useful infographic from the folks at Veracode that offers some insight into how consumers and merchants can protect ...

Results of My Ad Campaign to Increase Facebook Likes

Most useful things are constructed one piece at a time – and the pieces shift before they’re finally right. Last weekend I sprang for $120 across two days for a Facebook ad campaign to increase the Likes on my Yours In Books FB page. The true felt-cost was really only $65 thanks to a $55 “windfall” check from my brother a few weeks ago, tying up a loose end from our deceased father’s estate otherwise distributed years ago. It seemed appropriate ...

Hilarious Words With Kids

Humorist Art Linkletter is most well known for his popular broadcast program Kids Say the Darndest Things, which ran from the 1940s through the 1960s. However, beyond merely saying the darndest things, sometimes kids DO the darndest things that have no existing description within the English language. How do parents convey these unexplanable antics??? Enter Eric Ruhalter’s book The Kid Dictionary - hilarious words to describe the indescribable things kids do. Ruhalter is a father of three rambunctious kids who helped inspire the book. While, I’ve ...

Veterans Day Conversation With Cleverbot…

Several months ago I discovered Cleverbot, which is a web-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) application that learns to speak by conversing with humans via an instant messaging platform. While it’s a stretch to say that Cleverbot is intelligent, interacting with this particular learning software can be mildly entertaining. Here’s the most recent interview I had with Cleverbot last month: Halloween Fun With Cleverbot Since today is Veterans Day, I thought it would be interesting to get Cleverbot’s take on this holiday. Here’s the unedited conversation I had ...

Euphoria...Rapturous Bliss...Really?

Fabricator of Euphoria I have what I need. What I don’t have I don’t need…right now. Easy peasy and that’s the end of my blog. I wish it were so easy. It’s not so peasy either. Contentment…it’s a big pill to swallow; a big girl pill, and not one of those orange flavored chewables. Contentment is often compared with happiness, but being content has more to do with surrender and resting peacefully in whatever situation you may find yourself in, while happiness, being ...

10 Worst Celebrity Baby Names

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~William Shakespeare Thanks for that Willie, but you’re wrong – names matter. ~Tor Constantino Despite what The Bard says, names matter. My birth name is Salvatore and as a kid growing up I was picked on a lot because my parents nicknamed me “Tory.” During the 1970s and 80s that kind of name was different, ergo it was an easy target for bullies and mockery. Based on ...

Credentialing for Would-be World Enders???

Harold Camping muffs end-o-days prediction Most states require a licensing process for a host of service providers ranging from hair stylists to mechanics. Those are important services if you’re in the market to touch up your roots or replace your brake pads – but those services don’t come close to predicting the end of the world. Apparently anyone can predict the end of days without so much as a certificate of apprenticeship. Case in point, an 89-year old Internet pastor-turned-prognosticator believed ...

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How to Make a Terrarium

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Terrariums have become the hottest trend in gardening in recent years. A terranium is basically a glass container filled with soil, moss and other plants to create a mini-ecosystem or garden. They are super easy to take care of and require minimal maintenance. As well, they don’t require a lot of light or water. They …

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Reintroducing My “For Fun” Page

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How do you define fun? I took this picture during a motorcyclists’ convention in Sarasota. Hubby Gary owned a motorcycle before I knew him, and he has told me at least one tale about it that I won’t repeat in polite company (let alone in my blog). And the mother of a friend of mine enjoyed …

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Flying A Kite At The Beach

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It has been a cloudy few days punctuated with some clear, cool days. Fall weather is wonderful. Colorful leaves should be everywhere in a few days. We are barely in the 50′s this morning. I walked the boardwalk yesterday and there were some kite flyers on the beach. There are still plenty of folks hanging out …

Best Plants for Dorm Rooms

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Life as a student can be stressful, particularly if they are living on their own. Dorms are often small and cramped. But growing plants in the dorm rooms can help make the school year more pleasant. Plants add life and positive energy to any space, including small spaces. Plants can improve the air quality, especially …

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The $5.37 “Caption This” Contest: Vol. 9

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Welcome to another edition of the lowest-cash-award-for-a-photo-caption-contest on the Internet, the $5.37 Caption This Contest! Thanks to everyone who entered the most recent iteration of the contest last week. There were so many AWESOME entries this time, that I couldn’t decide on one myself. So I contacted my local congressional representative who quickly impaneled an independent 50-person task force, which …

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Online Gaming and Child Abuse

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When is Online Gaming Child Abuse? When folks think of child abuse and neglect, they tend to think of the extreme examples that hit the news. Toddlers left in rooms unattended for hours or days, teens locked in closets or physically and sexually abused, children left to fend for themselves. But there’s another face of child …

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4 Rules for Game Night in Our Home

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My parents didn’t frequently play board games with us five kids growing up. But when they did, it was awesome! Our favorite board games were the classics – Clue, Monopoly, Life, Sorry, Careers, Pay Day and Stop Thief…to name a few. Sometimes my parents would win, sometimes one of us kids would win. However, depending on the “family dynamic” …

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