Lately it seems as if dogs are taking over America. There are dog friendly restaurants, dog nights at the baseball stadium, people who advocate for Bring Your Dog to Work Day.

Not everyone loves dogs. I don’t hate dogs–we always had one when I was growing up–but I am wary of them.  If I go to your house, and you have a dog, it’s your dog’s home. I respect that. Two of my critique partners have dogs, and that’s cool. The woman who owns the Thistle Dew Retreat (where I go about once a month) has a dog. He’s very cool.

But I’m wary of dogs. You see, I was bitten by my grandmother’s dog. When I was about three. In the face. Yes, I have a scar, as well as the memory.

So when I go to check into my hotel and you and your dog are in the lobby, also checking in, don’t tell me your dog is friendly. I don’t care. Just keep it away from me.

What’s in a Name?

I have all kinds of baby name books. I’ve always been fascinated by names. Even in elementary school, I would take name books out of the school library. There were a few pages of names in the back of my parents dictionary. They were in tatters because I studied the names so often. Even now, with the Internet and the great Social Security website for names, I still like to peruse books.

I just finished writing a book in which the heroine had two different names before I decided on a third.  Once I  had that name, the rest of the story flowed. I know several authors who have experienced the same phenomenon: until the character’s name is right, the writing goes poorly.

I knew I’d always have a difficult time naming my children, especially when my husband and I have such different tastes in names. If our second child had been a boy, I doubt very much he would have a name even now. Fortunately, she wasn’t.

When I was bearing children, we didn’t know the sex of the baby until it was born. ( I knew them, because of my dreams, but that’s another blog post.) We settled on a girl’s name almost immediately (and used it a couple of years later when our daughter was born–except we did give her a different  middle name). Agreeing on a boy’s name was challenge.  We had a list of criteria: the naming traditions of my husband’s culture; no names with multiple spellings (something that has haunted both my husband and me throughout our lives); Biblical names, but not one of the weird ones; not too popular, but not unique; names our children could use in the boardroom or on stage or on the spine of a book; something traditional.

My husband and I leafed through baby name books in stores. There was one that said the name Woody was the past tense of the name Willy. I cried. I also cried when I realized that if we had a son, no one would call him by is first name because our surname was  so easily converted to a guy nickname. My husband assured me only once did someone do that to him.

At the time I was pregnant, big corporations were purchasing naming rights to everything from massive sports complexes to Little League fields. My husband and I decided to name our baby, if it was a boy, after a college in exchange for an education. How would we approach these institutions of higher learning with our generous offer? My tears turned to giggles as we contemplated the names Canisius,  Cornell, and Colgate.

We finally settled on a good name: his grandfather’s name. We used my great-grandfather’s name for the middle name. Strong names. Manly names. Everything we wanted for our son.




Dishwashing Mantra

I could swear I blogged about this topic before, but I can’t find it, so I’m going to blog about it now.

I was raised in a home with no dishwashing machine. My mother had two dishwashers: me and my younger sister. (Why did my younger brother not have to wash dishes or set the table? My sister and I had to mow the lawn…)

The way we were taught to wash the dishes was: glasses and silverware first. “Glasses” included tea mugs.  The theory was that those items went into our mouths, so it was best to wash them first, while the water was still clean and hot, in the hopes of sanitizing them.

Next came everything else except the “tin dishes”, which is what my parents called the pots and pans. Except for the frying pans (usually cast iron), tin dishes were washed last.

To this day, that is how I hand wash dishes.


But He Has a Wife/Secretary

I used to read time management books. I also read a couple of “how to increase your creativity” books. Every one of them had a fatal flaw: they were written for men who had wives/secretaries/administrative assistants. Even books written by women seem to assume there is…staff. Someone else to deal with the stuff you’re too important to do.

What about when you are the wife, the admin, the bottom of the hill the crap rolls down?  No one has ever written a book for us.

Gloria Steinem once said:  “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.” More recently, author Colleen Walsh stated her version of this quote.


Getting Rid of Make-Up

Many years ago, I let a couple of friends talk me into wearing makeup on a regular basis. So I had a couple of professional consultations. Bought reams of the stuff.  Way too much of it. It took time in the morning to apply. It took time at night to remove. I could never rub my eyes. No matter what kind of mascara I used, I ended up with racoon eyes. Makeup came off when I blew my nose. My winter coats had makeup on the collars. And my left eye watered nearly every day. I’m sure people thought I was crying.

A little over two years ago, during a hot spell, I was putting on my foundation, lamenting the fact that it was only going to melt off, when I realized I didn’t have to smear cosmetics on my face in order to go to work. My husband didn’t care. So I stopped. I thought I’d stopped just for the summer. But Labor Day came and I was enjoying my freedom from the routine too much. A year went by. Then two.

It was time to toss the stuff. A drawer full of little plastic compacts and tubes…

…became a waste basket full of the same.

The only thing I’ve used for two years is moisturizer and lip balm.

I’m still trying do decide what’s the next thing to go: coloring my hair or bras