Thursday, December 29, 2022

Happy New Year Dear Followers

Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

In my rush to get posts written and scheduled to post on time, I forgot to do a post-Christmas follow-up.

Christmas Eve with DH's family was lovely as always. A good time was had by most. Unfortunately, one sister-in-law had some weather-related issues to handle for her job, but otherwise, we all enjoyed the evening and the gifts that were given / received.
I received many wonderful things, but I was most excited for this lovely Dala Horse ornament. I'd forgotten it was on the list, but was super excited to open it and then hang it on my tree once we got home.

Other than that, there's not much to say much here but Happy New Year.
Thanks to all of you who've been following along for months or years.

Here's to a blessed and prosperous new year.

Best wishes to each one of you.

See you in 2023!

Monday, December 26, 2022

Fourth Quarter Goals Review

Image courtesy of IMGBIN. 

I probably could have written this in November or October for that matter.

My attempts at getting back on track with most of the non-writing goals were thwarted.

I struggled more with mental health (as a result of Mom's death) this quarter than I thought I would. I never felt sad, per se, but I had periods of days when I just really felt blah.

I've also been in learning mode and taking in a lot of information and processing it. It took me some time to realize that that had/has also contributed to my feelings of blah and general tiredness. 

There were some external stresses that contributed to my struggles as well, so making extra things happen took a back seat to getting the basics taken care of.

One of those external things was learning that my shadow aka Rayna had cancer. Needless to say, some of my focus turned to making sure she has a good end of life experience. As of right now, she's still with us. However, I think she's taking a turn and it's not going to be much longer before we say our final good-byes. 😢

Even before her diagnosis, I'd planned on taking some half-days off to do yard work once the weather changed. Post-diagnosis, those days became even more important. Rayna likes to be outside but often won't spend a lot of time in the yard without me. And I'm not always keen on being out there.

But after being house-locked for most of the summer when being outside was a break from the stress going on inside my house, I looked forward to fall and cooler temps. Also, once Mom passed, I'd vowed to throw open all the windows and air out my house once the weather turned. I never got to do that as fully as I had hoped. Maybe in spring.

All that to say I spent a lot of time keeping my sanity in check and very little time doing chores, exercising officially, or cooking healthy meals.

But this post is supposed to be a review, so let's review the final quarter of 2022. I'm going in order of the list on the right side...

1) Grandma continued to receive missives from me. I'm all that's left of her daughter, so yeah. I'm even getting more consistent with it. Finally.

2) No exercise other than upping my average daily step-count and doing yard work, although that tapered off after the first real cold snap. I'd hoped to get back to yoga or riding the elliptical, but I just couldn't carve out the time, and I didn't really have the energy these past couple of months.

3) Honestly, I don't know how long cooking & eating healthy lasted this year. And once Mom moved in, that fell completely by the wayside in favor of more carb/calorie heavy meals. She needed them. After that, food was a comfort. Thankfully, I only gained about five pounds. Then lost a few and gained a few. *sigh*

4) Housekeeping just never really got off the ground for me, no matter how much I wanted it to.

5) I kept up (mostly) with my writers group duties. There's a lot of improvement there to be made here, but I think a list of tasks will help.

6) My one book got published and once Mom passed, I worked consistently on the next hockey book. But consistency was mainly wrought in five-minute chunks just so I could "stay in the manuscript" (on a daily basis) as the saying in writer circles goes. That faded the farther into December we went.

7) I didn't spend a lot of time on learning the craft of writing. I spent money on virtual conferences where I can go back and watch at my leisure, but not much time doing so.

8) I added a few things to the Etsy inventory, but didn't double my stock as I'd hoped/planned.

9) The one thing I have done and will always do is READ. Reading is almost as necessary as breathing to me. In fact, I read about 80-ish books this year.

10) I got back on the Goodreads horse somewhat right after Mom passed, but then slowed down again. I don't think I solidified anything really.

This year (2022) will always be the year that everything was knocked off the rails by Mom's move to Texas, her illness, and her death, so I don't know that I can rightly grade myself. Especially for the third and fourth quarters.

I did what I could when I could, and I made it through the year. That, in and of itself, is a success.

As I've mentioned in a couple of previous posts, it's time to rethink writing and to decide what my plan is going forward.

As I've done for the last umpteen years, I'll post my fresh start goals at the beginning of January.

Have a great week and I'll catch you Thursday.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Merry Christmas!

 Image courtesy IMGBIN.
Just a few days hence and it'll be Christmas. Sadly the whole of the holiday falls on a weekend and we get no extra days off work. On the other hand, clients usually quiet down this time of year, so time can be spent working on projects rather than tickets.
And, as per usual, Christmas will be hosted by one of my sisters-in-laws, so, thankfully, I haven't had a whirlwind of cleaning and cooking to accomplish on top of working and the baseline of Christmas activities.

But I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone and, of course, seeing their reactions to the gifts I bought them. For some I have to buy straight from the Giftster list. For others I can go off book a little and buy them something based on past conversations or known interests.
I hope your Christmas is exactly what you want and/or need it to be.
Take care and...

Monday, December 19, 2022

My Failed Experiment

Image courtesy of IMGBIN.


I've been trying to be as "green" as possible for a while now. A couple of years ago, I switched to taking totes and such to the grocery store and trying to use the plastic store bags as little as possible. I'll use one if my package of meat is a little too messy, but otherwise nope. I even bought washable mesh bags for produce, which I rarely use.

These days, I am also on the hunt for food packaging--aside from the usual water bottles, aluminum cans, and paper--that is recyclable. Certain types have to be dropped at the store rather than put in your recycle bin, but those containers are usually at the front of the store. Things I've found to be recyclable: plastic bags containing bread, plastic wrapper around bottled water cases, and now toothpaste tubes! Recycle-ability may vary by brand, but look for the symbol on the packaging.

I think I mentioned in a Miscellaneous Monday post a few weeks ago that only about 10% of items that can be recycled actually are being recycled. That's a shame. There are even some states that don't have a recycling policy at all. Indiana, I believe.

There are at least two states (OR and CO in 02/23) that charge you for those plastic grocery bags, making it even more expensive to go shopping; behooving you to keep a stash of totes in your car.

My failed experiment, however, is in regards to paper. I tried to reduce my need for a physical list on my desk. About a month ago, maybe a bit longer ago, I created an electronic list. All I had to do was open it on my (computer) desktop each day and go...

But it's just not the same. It's nice to have a sheet there to jot down a random number or quick note rather than dig through the documents open on the computer--if that to-do-list doc is even opened. Unfortunately, a few things have slipped through the cracks.

So last Wednesday I dug out a stack of six to seven sheets of notebook paper and happily jotted down those things needing my attention. With the notes right there on my desk, staring at me each day, things will get done faster, I bet. That messy jumble of notes will encourage me to get that stuff accomplished sooner rather than later so that a) I can cross it off the list and b) it won't have travel to the fresh sheet of paper when I have to move/update the list.

How about you? Do you  recycle?

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Happy Birthday Sonshine

This Saturday marks the 27th birthday of my son ~ the one, the only... Sonshine.

He's living in the Seattle area still and doing well, according to himself. I wouldn't know otherwise with him being so far away as well as being social media averse. I have to take it on faith.

It's gonna mostly be pics in this post, so feel free to check out now.

Have a great weekend!

The above pics, while the most recent, are still a few years old... and below are just random selections from the blog over the years.


Monday, December 12, 2022

Today is National Gingerbread House Day!

 Remember this??

 My redneck gingerbread house and G.I. Snow? Over time, they became a little more elaborate than this basic version.

I really miss making the redneck gingerbread house, but it's more fun as a multi-person activity and, alas, my partner in gingerbre-- er... graham cracker crime... far far away.
How about you? Are you fan of gingerbread cookies or of decorating gingerbread houses?

Have a great week. Talk to you in a few days.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Before and After: New Chompers!


 Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

I finally have some new chompers-- er, new teeth, that is!

Just over two years ago, during the height of pandemic mask wearing, I had three teeth at the front of my mouth pulled. I figured "why not?" No one would see my smile for a while.

The plan then was to get implants. A bone graft was done to support the posts for said implants. But as time went along, I felt less and less comfortable spending $10+K on three or fourth teeth. And, no, I am not kidding. Implants are not cheap.

But I finally reached a point where I was done being without teeth. I considered pulling all my teeth and going with full dentures, but at, say conservatively, $250 each for pulling teeth, plus the cost of a full denture, that was still a pricey prospect. And my teeth are in decent shape, so no real need to pull them all out.

I went to see a denture specialist and for 1/10 the cost of the original plan, I now have a partial denture filling out the gap on my lower jaw. And no more insecurities about my gap-toothed smile.

Forgive the awful pictures--selfies are not my strong suit...especially not at 4:30am when the after pic was taken.



What do you think?

Just in time for my writers group holiday party in person. I don't have to take them out to eat as I have had to do with my little spacer appliance. Won't that be nice?

Now if only I'd bought that box of hair color...

Have a great weekend.

Monday, December 5, 2022

There's Nothing Like A Seasoned Cuppa...

Cuppa Tea...

Image courtesy of IMGBIN. 


Cuppa Joe...

 Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

There was a time when I was non-believer in this phenomena, but not anymore. You know, where the cup or mug that you consistently drink from gets stained and seasoned by your beverage of choice.

Yeah, it's thing.

I had a small, handled Tervis cup that I drank my morning tea out of for years. The inside was stained and the plastic had soaked in the essence of my favorite tea flavor. That first morning cuppa was the most delightful, most comforting, most satisfying.

I also had a tall Tervis cup out of which I drank a lot of tea. It too got stained. And seasoned.

And then one day I washed it. Like scrubbed it out and put a drop of bleach in the soak water.

And the next time I drank tea out of it? Not the same satisfaction, folks!

Then I got a new small, handled Tervis cup for Christmas last year because the old one was full of stress fractures and water had seeped into the inner part of it. And it took a while to get that new cup stained and seasoned. But after a year, it's just right. :0)

Now I no longer wash the inside of a handful of cups. I wash the outside and I wash the rims, inside and out, but from a half inch down, that inside is cleaned by nothing but the sanitizing properties of the boiling water I pour into it several times a day.

I have three cups: one that always stays home, two for travel, and one at the office.

And you know how, when you stay at hotels, they tell you that you can heat up water in those mini-coffee pots they have. Well, as a non-coffee drinker...let me say--

Oh no you can't.

Not for tea anyway. Because...that filter bin--which is made of plastic and without which you cannot make coffee or water--is stained by the flavor of the coffee and taints the water. Yes, it does. I had too many morning cups of tea ruined that way.

When I go on longer trips now, I have an electric kettle I drag along for making tea in the room because I drink a lot of it and it's a pain in the rear to trek to the lobby for hot water that often.

So tell me, do you know what I'm talking about here? Do you have a favorite cup that no one will touch without gloves? Do share.

Hope you're well! Catch you Thursday!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

National Cookie Day is Coming!


Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

Break out the chocolate chip, the snickerdoodles, the shortbread--Sunday December 4th is National Cookie Day.

I do love me a cookie and I'm not that picky. Do I love some varieties more than others? Of course. I even like a raisin cookie. Warm and soft are the best. Room temp and soft are fine. Room temp & crunchy are fine. Eating them with a cold glass of milk or mild-flavored protein shake is even better.

While I love sugar cookies in general, I'm not a fan of those super soft, super thick sugar cookies with the super sweet icing you get from stores.

I used to bake a lot more, when the kids were younger and when I wasn't watching my calorie intake quite so closely.

Shout out to La Madeleine who make a delicious jumbo sized Linzer cookie in a heart shape that I can't resist purchasing any time I go there and to Panera Bread who makes a lovely kitchen sink type chocolate chip with pretzel bits in it that are usually sold out, thereby saving me from my bad choices.

Can I actually name my favorite?


>>insert thinky face<<

No. I don't think I can.

What about you?

Stock up and enjoy some cookies this coming Sunday.

Cheers! See you Monday.

Monday, November 28, 2022

In Other News...

Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

Due to the much needed rain on Thanksgiving Day, DD and I did not make it to the zoo. I'm happy for the rain, but sad we missed the Dallas Zoo. Maybe we'll go over DD's Christmas break.

Instead, we watched Enola Holmes 2, had yummy treats, and enjoyed the cozy day. Friday, too, was low key and relaxing. Sorta. I'm used to some sort of daily structure, but Thursday and Friday were just played by ear. Treated as true holidays.

Saturday was more productive with the usual Saturday tasks: thinking ahead to grocery shopping as well as the upcoming week and what I plan to accomplish. I struggled the past couple of weeks with getting stuff done as my chore chart will attest. Last week was more holiday antsy-ness and anticipation than anything, but the week before that I had some emotional ups and down that hindered my usual energy and productivity levels.

Sunday was also pretty back-to-normal. Groceries were bought, dogs were bathed, and the upcoming week was prepped for. All in all, a good four-day break.

Since I was planning on a zoo picture filled post and that's no longer an option, I've turned this into a Miscellaneous-Monday-type, in case you hadn't figured that out.


Rayna is hanging tough. She favored her front left leg a bit on Thursday, but seems to be putting light weight on it once again. We're gonna love on her until she tells us she's ready to go.


In a much-desired turn of events, we've received an offer on Mom's house. The buyers offered $5K below asking, which is fine. I had asked the real estate agent to bump it up to allow for negotiating. The buyers didn't ask for any concessions, but I need to get the property off my hands. The offer was fair and closing is scheduled for December 14th. Yee haw.


I can look ahead to a cruise. I'd promised myself that once Mom passed and everything had been taken care of and put to bed, I was going to take another cruise. It's still going be a little while, but with the house selling and me receiving some of the proceeds, a cruise is one of the things that's been ear-marked for funding. I'm hoping to take all the kids along as well. If all the in-laws want to tag along, that could be fun too, but it's going to be mostly Sonshine's ability to get time off that's going to drive scheduling the cruise.


Now that Thanksgiving is past, it's time to look ahead to--you guessed it--Christmas. I've received Christmas monies and started shopping. DD and I also have a few home-made gifts to make. I even bought new wrapping paper for this year. I'd been trying to use down the stock-piles and finally did, so I needed to replenish the stores.


In recent weeks, I've discovered a couple of new podcasts. :0) One is called Warfare and discusses various topics in relationship to war. Sometimes it's a discussion about a specific war itself, such as the WWII Battle of Midway, but sometimes it's about the abstract things that happen in the buildup to wars. It's all fascinating.

The other podcast is called American History Hit that touches on random topics of America's history including things like Walt Disney accusing former colleagues of being communist or the dark history beneath Central Park.

You might be hearing about some of these historical tidbits in the future.


I'm done rambling. I hope your Thanksgiving was all you hoped it would be. Take care and I'll be back (probably) on Thursday.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Give Thanks


Image courtesy IMGBIN.

Hope you're having or had a lovely day filled with good food and your favorite people.

We had no extended family plans this year, so we will all be enjoying a long weekend; and as DD and I did last year, we are going to the zoo again. We're checking out the Dallas Zoo this year. Pics on Monday.

Have a super looong weekend.

Catch you next week.

Monday, November 21, 2022

You're Not Bad At [fill in the blank]

You Just Need A Better System

Image Courtesy of IMGBIN.

One of the things that I've "learned" from the Atomic Habits book that I started reading this past week is that I'm not a bad housekeeper for being unable to keep my house at the level of clean I'd prefer.

(more on the book in a future post)

In reality, it's that the system I've been using isn't the best one for me. <grin>

So what did I do?

Researched housekeeping systems on Google.

And what did I find?

That our household is doing most of the things recommended...except for the regular "deep" clean. The house is mostly being kept up. Well, it was until spring of this year, but that's another story.

  • The bed gets made every morning.
  • The floors get swept on a regular basis.
  • The bathrooms get cleaned weekly.
  • The laundry is kept up with.
  • The dishes don't pile up (often).

So it's primarily the larger tasks that aren't getting done. The thorough dusting. The regular mopping. The windows.

I could hire someone to do those tasks--I'd prefer to hire someone to do those tasks--or I can come up with a new system that allows me to get things done.

Of course, the years are creeping by and I'm not feeling as spry, shall we say, as I once did not so long ago. <sigh> Some of that is not just old age, and I'm working to resolve whatever the issue is, but, regardless, I'm not up for an extensive session of deep cleaning. I have better things to do.

Alas, someone's got to do it and it falls on me. Oh boy.

We pay a guy to mow the lawn. One of these days we're gonna pay someone to clean the house.

But, sadly, that day is not today. So I need a plan. I mean... I need a better system.

So what did I do?

I bought another planner. A smaller weekly planner. One with three lined sections per day so that I can list and track whatever housekeeping tasks need to be done. There's also a small section for notes, but that I could use for reward stickers if I were so inclined.

A new-ish system is in progress. It needs some brainstorming and fleshing out, but I've taken the first step and there's time left in the year to figure it all out and be ready to go when the new year arrives.

Have a great Thanksgiving!!

And if you have any tips on keeping the whole house clean, please do share. :0)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

National Adoption Day ~ Saturday, Nov 19th


National Adoption Day comes around on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year.

A Coalition of national partners including The Alliance for Children’s Rights, Children’s Action Network, Freddie Mac Foundation, and Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption started National Adoption Day in 2000.  In November of 2000, the sponsors worked with law firms, state foster care agencies, child advocates, and courts to complete hundreds of foster care adoptions in nine jurisdictions nationwide.

Why am I sharing this? Not because I'm adopted, nor are any of my kids, but I have an online friend who adopted a five-year-old last year. Not in November, but earlier. End of summer maybe. This child was just entering school. Now for a whole year, this friend and her husband had to keep the identity of the child to themselves due to the legal proceedings.

But they'd still share anecdotes along the way. This kid is a riot.

Then this year, once things became legal and the little girl was legally theirs, they shared her with the world. I get to watch this reality show via Facebook. And it's amazing. It's not scripted. But it's real. It's heartwarming. And it's inspirational.

Now the reason I'm sharing this is because recently, this friend, the mom, shared one of the downsides to adoption--the emotional trauma response of her girl. Anger. Deep sadness. Shame. I don't know the backstory as to why this child ended up in foster care, and it doesn't matter, but things affect us. All of us. Especially a little girl who may not understand things.

This online friend also shared that adoption is often looked at through a lens of sadness--what the child may have lost, i.e. his/her real parents.

But those parents may have been pieces of trash who hurt and abused the child or been struggling with issues of their own and not fit / able to care for a child of their own due to reasons beyond their control.

So this friend's plea--and this is from her FB post on the matter:

"HOWEVER, if you have a kid? Why don't you use this post as a sign that you need to sit down with them and give a better explanation on adoption? Maybe ask them some questions and see how they explain it to you. Then point out the fact that every family is built differently and while there might be some sadness in how some are formed, that's not the main takeaway.

"Like we told XXX: Adoption is all about gaining. She gained two new families, countless friends, and lots of love while we gained a wild child daughter who loves fake blood and calls us bro on the daily.
She's not embarrassed about adoption and we aren't either. So maybe take some time to talk to your littles about it too, even if you don't personally adopt a kiddo. Because, believe me, whether you know it or not you're probably already around someone who has been in foster care or gone through adoption.
Be kind to them by not assuming adoption is some sad, pitiful thing."

This saga has been amazing to watch from afar and the main reason this person hasn't been purged during the great FB culling of 2022.

This child they got seems to be the perfect fit for their family (as my friend alluded in her own words). I know that's not always the case. But adoption gives a lot of people a chance.

Your PSA for the month.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Ups & Downs

The State of Jen


My emotions, of late, have been a bit a lot like a roller coaster. It's been quite the year and it stands to reason that I'd be feeling a lot of things.

Some of those emotions, in no particular order, are: sadness, relief, overwhelm, resentment, frustration, and longing.

Add in the current on-going saga of the dog with cancer...

Add in misc (minor) health issues...

And the end of the year is not going the way I thought it would, either from before Mom died or after she passed.

I'm looking ahead and forward to 2023 much like many of us did after the first year of COVID as well as after the second...

As if the transition of one year to the next will magically mean better things. If nothing else, it means leaving behind the drama and/or trauma of "last" year.

Some of it is mental, absolutely -- the old year passes and the new year equals a fresh slate.

That mostly works for me. My fresh start goals each January are for the new / current year.

Doesn't work so much for emotions. They aren't ruled by the calendar as so much of life is.

Some of my current emotional disquiet stems from Rayna's illness, and some of it stems from a general worry over the economy and global strife.

Eventually, I'll find my emotional footing and things will look a bit rosier.

But for now, I'm not 100% okay. And I know it's okay to not be okay for a bit. :0)

I'm giving myself grace, but it is time to start thinking seriously about my goals for next year and beyond.

Take care and have a great week.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

My Clifton Strengths

Here we go yet again.


Yup, I'm gonna attempt this again in 2023. :0)

As I read back through my posts related to my Strengths, I promised twice to explore them, once for 2021 and once for 2022. And twice my intentions were derailed for one reason or another. You all know what happened in 2022. Not sure what the hurdle was in 2021. Not that it matters.

At some point in the fall, I compared DH's and my Strengths, to see if we have top-ten overlap. And surprisingly, we do. We share three Strengths: Relator, Restorative, and Focus, although not in the same positions.

Two of his other top-ten Strengths come in at 13 & 14 for me, one other of mine comes at 17 for him, with everything else in each of our top tens falling to the bottom half for the other. Oof that's tough.

For a few years, we really had trouble communicating. We'd go round and round about something until one or the other of us would say something and we'd realize that we meant the same thing, but were coming at it from a different direction and, of course, using different verbiage.

We've been able to work around that particular issue a lot better since the realization. But since taking the Strengths test and knowing the results, the communication issue all made sense. 

One of my goals, I think, for 2023, is going to be studying Strengths a bit. Finally. There are a couple of books specifically about the Clifton Strengths, so I'm going to do some reading. I want to work on growing and leaning into my (top-ten) Strengths a little more, especially the ones that I struggle with.

The plan is to share a few tidbits here along the way.

Short and sweet today. Have a great weekend. Take care.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Miscellaneous Monday

Decluttering's been kind of slow going due to other things going on, but I'm still working on it. I'm up to a total of twenty-nine items now. Only seventy-one more items to go!

*Should I set a random goal of accomplishing this before the new year?

And I've successfully resisted bringing more unnecessary items into the house. I've seen things I've wanted, but absolutely didn't need, and I didn't buy them.

I've also been on journey to not spend money and to funnel any extra funds I scrape up toward some credit card debt, so that goal helps me not buy stuff. :0)

* * * * *

Let's Recycle

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

I discovered that my toothpaste tube is now recyclable! I'm very excited about this because in an effort to keep my chompers in as good a shape as possible, I go through more toothpaste than probably most people.

Did you know that only 10% of recyclable items makes it to the recycling center!! I was really bummed to read this.

I've also been trying to reduce my usage of plastics as well as recycling everything I can. Toward that goal, I switched to using paper lunch bags for disposing of cat poop when I scoop the box instead of the plastic grocery bags.

And did you know a lot of misc packaging is recyclable at the store drop-off?? So things like bread bags, grocery bags, and bottled water packaging can be taken to the store and put into their recycling bins usually found at the front of the store.

* * * * *


Several months ago, before my crackdown on spending, I splurged on a shirt for my beloved Snoopy. I've had Snoopy since I was a kid and he needed something on. He sits next to a Dallas Stars Build-a-Bear and was feeling a little under dressed.

* * * * *

Halloween Costume Idea

I know I'm a few weeks late with this, but it made me laugh and probably only experienced hockey fans will understand this on sight.

This is a tweet I captured from my Twitter-feed.

The Iron Man moniker belongs to the hockey player who's played the most games in a row. Without missing a single one. And that doesn't include playoff games.

Phil Kessel, pictured there on the packaging, broke the record on October 25th. The record had stood only since Kieth Yandle broke it in January of this year. But before that, the Iron man record had been in place since December 1984. Yandle retired a few months ago, allowing Kessel to catch up, and since surpass, his number. Not only did Kessel break the record on the 25th, but he scored his 400th goal as well.
And the reason this is all so amusing is because Phil Kessel, as beloved as he is by teammates, is not your quintessential nominee for hockey Iron Man. He doesn't train or work out during the summer--he plays golf or poker. He doesn't drink a lot of water. And he's got more of a "dad bod" than a hockey bod.
The whole thing amused me and I have a soft spot for Phil, so I thought I'd share with you and just archive it here for posterity...

* * * * *

There's a new Buc-cee's coming to Texas... and it'll mean the largest Buc-cee's resides in Texas once again. There's currently a store in Luling, Texas--the first ever Buc-cee's as a matter of fact--but they're building a brand new one right next door and will be adding 200 new jobs. :0)

And you can bet that DD and I will be making a trip there at some point to check it out...maybe even a before and after...

* * * * *

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Are Sports Diverse Enough?

Image Courtesy

For the last handful of years, maybe longer, the NHL has been on a crusade to will into existence the reality that "Hockey Is For Everyone." 

Now this seems to be from a purely marketing / fan base standpoint. There are Pride Nights and, in different markets, there are theme nights that include, for example, things like Celebración del Día de Muertos (a Beanie giveaway) by the Anaheim Ducks a couple of weeks ago and Mexican Heritage Poncho Night here in DFW next March to encourage and entice people of Hispanic / Mexican descent to attend a game.

A couple of teams acknowledge Lunar New Year, but call it that instead of Chinese New Year--which, I guess, considering what's been going on in the world. But I don't know if that's gonna draw in the Asian Americans that way... But maybe?

I researched a handful of other teams, but honestly couldn't come up with too many other themes directed at people other than white people.

A few teams are acknowledging mental health, which is great. Many have military and fan appreciation nights. Also nice. But that's not what we're talking about.

Last year, I'd watch the in game promo video about being a fan. Every person depicted in last year's video was white. In a metroplex that is only 50% white... 

Hmm... I emailed my season ticket rep last year and asked her to pass along my suggestion that they include more people of color... And, surprise, surprise...they did.


"Hockey is for everyone"--it's not a reality at all. On any level. Not on the surface and certainly not behind the scenes. Not at any level...

The idea for this post was sparked when I saw that the NHL had commissioned and released a report regarding the diversity within the League--from players to management. The result--hockey is still a predominantly white sport.

You wanna know why?

In my opinion there are three main reasons--the order is debatable:

1) hockey is tremendously expensive to play

2) there's not enough ice

3) and if you want the ugly--and hockey's had a LOT of ugly lately--racist white people are the gatekeepers

Too many accounts of derogatory remarks aimed at players of color have come to light in recent years, and only now in 2020/2021/2022 are coaches and other players being held accountable (to a degree).

That's utterly ridiculous and downright shameful.

The other thing that disgusts me about some of that name-calling--I've read articles over the years that include accounts of parents of white players in the children's leagues are saying these things to young impressionable players of color in front of the kids. IN THE CHILDREN'S LEAGUES.

Excuse me, what?? That's appalling and disgusting and so so so sad.

* * * * *

On the other hand, I read an article about that report regarding the diverse make-up of the NHL...and there was a specific point that I have often thought myself when the topic of hiring more diverse people comes up...

Namely: does skin color matter more than a person being right (or not) for the job?

If three white people and two POCs apply for a given job, and a white person is far and away the most qualified--then hire him or her. If it's a dead heat, well, there are other factors to consider.

Another point the author of this article made, which can be found here, is that the NBA doesn't claim it's not diverse because it's 73% Black...

If POC aren't applying for these jobs, what are leagues or businesses supposed to do?

I realize that POC may not be applying because they aren't qualified because they couldn't get those qualifications because of...being POCs. It's a vicious cycle and one that needs to be broken.

* * * * *

I know, a fraught topic this week, but it's been on my mind, both from my hockey fandom perspective, as well as from my writers group perspective.

Anyway...have a great weekend and I'll try to have something more fun and/or lighthearted on Monday.

Take care.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Who Revealed the Hiding Place of Anne Frank, Her Family, and the Others?

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia...

A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast that talked about the Anne Frank House. It's the office building that housed the Secret Annex that hid eight people in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam from July 6, 1942 to August 4, 1944 (twenty-five months) including Anne Frank and her family. It's now a museum and a place of remembrance, research, and education as Dr Gertjan Broek, Senior Historical Researcher at the Anne Frank House, shared recently on the Warfare Podcast.

July of 2022 was the 80th anniversary of the Frank family and three others going into hiding. The eighth person joined them a few months later.

When the Anne Frank House decided to branch out into researching the lives of the fourteen protagonists of the Anne Frank story, Dr Broek, already employed by the Anne Frank House at the time, became the primary researcher of the lives of those eight people hidden in the Secret Annex as well as the six people who took on the responsibility of keeping the Franks, the Van Pels, and Franz Pfeffer hidden, fed, and occupied.

One of the things Dr Broek said was that a lot of us (the general population) have, for whatever reason, believed that the Franks' presence in Amsterdam was a last minute thing. In fact, the Franks had moved to The Netherlands some years earlier due to the economic downturn in Germany where they were originally from. In the ensuing years in Amsterdam, Otto Frank, Anne's father had established a network of associates and friends. These are the people he turned to when deciding to place his family into hiding.

Over the course of the two years they were hidden, the stowaways helped keep the businesses in that office space operating--if those companies had gone out of business, then the office spaces would have been cleared out and then rented out again, and those folks in hiding would have been found much sooner.

The other thing that Dr Broek shared is that there's really no evidence that any one person revealed the secret hiding place to the Nazis. A handful of people have been suspects over the years, but investigations have never turned up definitive evidence linking any one person as the anonymous tipster. His belief is that nn unfortunate series of events including increasing raids in the area and a crackdown on the trading of ration vouchers is the best working theory. 

If you're interested in learning more about the people who surrounded Anne Frank during those two year, visit the Anne Frank House website.

Take care and have a great week...

* * * * *

Sources for this post:

Thursday, October 27, 2022

National Frankenstein Friday


As it seems to annually, the encore showing of National Theater Live's 2011 stage production of Frankenstein played once again mid-to-late October. I'd always wondered why October and now I think I have an answer.

The last Friday in October is apparently National Frankenstein Friday. :0) That's tomorrow.

DD and I attended this year's encore showing. We were all supposed to go as part of DH's birthday celebrations as it showed on his birthday this year and I didn't want to miss it, but DH wasn't feeling well and, sadly, opted out.

She liked it okay, but said she wouldn't watch it again. Honestly, I go for Benedict's performance, which never ceases to amaze me. I've never read the actual book, but am now curious about how aligned with the book this production is. The other thing that struck me--for the second year in a row, actually--is how one of the soliloquies in this adaptation addresses a few things we're still dealing with in 2011 when this was first performed as well as 2023--acceptance despite one's looks, one's education, one's background; a person's need and desire for love, for basic human decency; and that hatred is taught/learned by one's experiences in the world. The performances express it way better than I can.

If you get a chance to see this next year, you definitely should. Sign up for a Fathom Events Newsletter and be notified of all the really cool things that get get aired in the theaters besides just brand new films. And remember it'll be October in conjunction with National Frankenstein Day and just prior to Halloween.

On a related side note...the story of how Mary Shelley even came to write Frankenstein is quite an interesting one. Mary Shelley, then still Mary Wollonstonecraft, and her husband-to-be Percy Bysshe Shelley, her step-sister, as well as Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were on holiday in Switzerland during the year without summer--1816.

Due to a volcanic eruption from Mount Tambora in Indonesia earlier that year, plumes of volcanic ash had traveled the globe and significantly cooled world-wide temperatures affecting food production and regular seasonal climates.

While stuck indoors due the unrelenting rains over Lake Geneva during their visit, the party started out taking turns telling ghost stories but then challenged one another to come up with their own tales of horror.

The result? Not only "A Modern Prometheus" aka Frankenstein, but "The Vampyre" which inspired the writing of "Dracula."

Are you a fan of the original tale or of the many subsequent movies and characters?

Have you seen the particular performance reference at the beginning of this post? If not, why not?? As you know Benedict Cumberbatch is AMAZING! :0)

Have a super end to your week and a great weekend. Take care.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Something to Dig My Nerdy Teeth Into...
Or Drive Me to Tears of Frustration

Image courtesy iStock Photos. writers group recently disaffiliated from its parent organization. As a result, we've had to change our name. And that meant a new domain name. Which lead to the decision to also revamp the website.

Now I've loved messing around with website for years, decades maybe.

It all started with a fan site for the TV show The Guardian. I didn't create the site, but I took it over from the person who did and I fell in love with the coding. I learned HTML and CSS in order to manage the elements.

Then I became a fan of the TV show JAG and joined the fansite band wagon yet again, going from creating the original incarnation of my site called JAGNikJen's JAG Archive to The JAG Archive's final design as I honed my skills. There was a version in between, but I can't seem to find it in the Wayback Machine.

Fast forward twenty years and I still dabble. Mostly as the website director for the above mentioned writers group for years because I'm one of the few people who seems to understand how websites work on the back end or is brave enough to learn it/dumb enough to take it on.

But let me tell you--I hate WordPress with a passion. I was hoping to walk away from it, but DH convinced me it was easier than I found it (which I disagree with) and now I'm frustrated to the point of tears again.

Unfortunately, the platform I'd prefer to use isn't as inexpensive--we've got trim our budget as well--so I've been researching other alternatives, but mostly to no avail.

In the meantime, I'll keep fiddling with it to see if I can't make nice with the world's largest website builder...keep trying to make sense of it, but it's not as intuitive to me as maybe it should be.

On the other hand, the theme we've decided on--diversity, basically--is fun. Which isn't a theme really, but a mindset. The term "theme" come more from the whole series of vector images I found to use on the site. A series that includes people all shapes/sizes/colors/ages, and all created by the same artist so they "match." As soon as I saw them, I got soo excited and knew that theme and those images were the way to go.

The fact that there are so many images is a double edged sword. While we have a lot to choose from. it's going to be hard to narrow down our choices to just a few. And by a few I mean at least ten, max twenty-four. When you have approximately 600+ images to choose from, 10 to 24 is definitely going to be a challenge.

Image courtesy iStock Photos.

There are so many people--diverse groups of people: young, older; thin & curvy & in between, varieties of skin tones and ethnicity. Just the type of writers group we want, so we need to show those interested that we welcome all kinds of folks, and this image set will show that but also give off a fun welcoming vibe.

Have a great week and wish me luck with WordPress...

Thursday, October 20, 2022

National Make a Dog's Day ~ Saturday, October 22

"Make A Dog’s Day began as a way for Subaru to say thank you to the pets who support us, love us and make our world a better place.” Alan Bethke, Senior Vice President, Marketing of Subaru of America, Inc.

It's now a national thing apparently.


Currently my aim is to make the last days of my own dog's life as good as they can be... As mentioned on Monday, she was diagnosed with cancer. We're holding off on putting her down until the Thanksgiving break so we can grieve unfettered by work and people.

Between now and then, I'll be taking some afternoons off (instead of just working from home) to spend outside with her--or really to let her just be outside while I work on tidying the yard.

But I saw a commercial for "Make A Dog's Day," and I cry every time because they're showing dogs with disabilities and encouraging people to adopt shelter animals rather than get new a new puppy. And I'm all for that, but it's heart-rending when I'm facing the loss of my own dog and trying to re-home my mom's animals...

* SIGH * 

And I don't want any more dogs. Despite having had dogs for two plus decades, I am not a dog person. 

So if you have any sort of pet, not just a dog--make its day on Saturday.

Take care.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Miscellaneous Monday

The Boys in Victory Green Are Back in Town!

DD and I enjoyed everything the Dallas Stars home opener had to offer this past Saturday--most especially the win!!

As mentioned, for the first time ever, we were able to attend the opening day Victory Green Carpet Walk. After a lunch out (thanks to a gift card and no out of pocket $$ spent), we lined up along said green carpet and waited. And waited. And waited. Things didn't get started until about twenty minutes after they should have.

We got got stuck behind people who kept pressing forward against the "rope" and blocking our view. This really sucks for a short person. And DD has a few inches on me, but she's still on the short side.

But I was able to get my phone mostly in good position that it could see what was coming and I was pleasantly surprised a few moments later.

After being there way early and the things not starting on time, DD and I didn't stick it out for the whole thing. We were both hot and tired and very thirsty, so we left before everyone had walked the carpet. We only missed a couple of faces we would have liked to have seen, but we got the really important ones.

Jamie Benn, the captain:

Tyler Seguin, the super model:

Jake Oettinger, the new number one netminder:

And this dapper fellow here, is Luke Glendening. I thought he just looked so charming with his bow tie.

After our return to the car for some cool air and cool drinks, we returned to the arena. Not to our former season-ticket-holder seats, but close enough. But sadly we were in a set of seats that saw a lot of traffic by lazy people. It ended up being a lot of up and down to let people pass. Lesson learned for future games.

But the game was exciting and we won again a division rival. As is my wont after a win, I got a picture--no, have the whole video!-- of the Reunion Tower Ball lit up in Dallas Stars colors:

* * * * *

Cleanup in Aisle 9!

Okay, not really, lol.

But my Walmart did get new shopping carts yet again. They're a little unusual, but with a couple of cool new features: A phone holder on the left of the back of the child seat, and a cup holder on the right side of the seat back. As a short person, the push handle is a little higher than I'd prefer, but what are you gonna do? At least all the carts will push properly for a while--no wonky wheels yet.

* * * * *

The Sun's a Hot Star...

Did you know that Venus and Uranus rotate east to west when all the other planets rotate west to east...?

There are some theories as to why and you can read those here, if you're so inclined.

Uranus also spins on its side, which those who are fans of the original Blue's Clues would know.

I did note that the animation had Venus and Uranus spinning in the correct direction!

As a side note, the original Blue's Clues was a staple in our house for many years as Sonshine was a wee little lad when it first aired.

* * * * *

Rayna Payna fo Fayna

A very young Rayna...

Last but not least...

Our family was given sad news last week.

Rayna, our dog of eight years (she's 10), was diagnosed with a very fast growing bone cancer on/in her left shoulder that could easily metastasize to her chest. The best (but not likely) prognosis, even with aggressive measures (amputation and chemo) is two years.

Unfortunately, the cost of treatment for only the possibility of a two year reprieve doesn't make any logical sense. And we still wouldn't know if she's in any pain and how much. Or what her quality of life would be. So the plan is to give her another month of the best life we can offer and then euthanize her over the Thanksgiving week so that DD and I can both be emotional and not have to be at work while doing it.

A teenage/young adult Rayna...
Our girl as she is now...

Have a great week...