Use the China

Treasured Moments

She cried when she unpacked the gravy boat.

My younger daughter Jill wrote an update on Facebook the other day about unpacking the family china. To her, it evokes memories of family holiday dinners.

Especially the gravy boat.

We used it whenever we needed a gravy boat even if we were eating off paper plates.

Those days are gone. But not the treasured memories of shared meals and celebrations.

Jill wrote:

I really miss being a whole family, but I have to say that using this china with my family, Jacob and our girls, it means so much. You never know growing up what will stick with you and will be tear-jerking memories down the way in your life . . . like a gravy boat that can make me cry.”

Sure, I got teary-eyed, too, reading her update.

But it was the comment from someone who also received the family china that had me reaching for the Kleenex:

there were no tears because there were NO memories of using the china.”

This is my plea to parents everywhere.

Give your children the memories they don’t even know they’re tucking away in their hearts.

Use the china.

A Potential Valentine’s Day Story

Celebrating Love Lost and Found

Happy Valentine’s Day!

During my search for a Valentine’s Day card to share with you, I came across an image that–what can I say?–it spoke to me.

I felt that little tug in my heart that whispers: here’s a story.

So instead of sending you a valentine, I’m sharing this image with you. Do you hear its whispers, too?

Pretend with me.

Imagine your character is walking in a park, grateful for the warmth of a sunshiny day that promises spring is coming soon. Something shiny in the grass catches her eye, and she finds this ornate key and lock tied with slender ribbon to a ceramic heart. Deep inside she knows it’s meant for her.

But what does it mean?

Does it symbolize a love she has found? Or a love she has lost?

Which story would you prefer to read? Or to write?

Where Treasure Hides February Special!

On the Road: Bisbee, Arizona

The West's Best Small Town to Live

Copper ore mounted in front of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.

The charming town of Bisbee, Arizona is proclaimed as “The West’s Best Small Town to Live.” This isn’t idle speculation.

In recent years, Bisbee has been voted the Best Historic Small Town in America by both USA Today readers and Sunset Magazine. It’s also been named as an “alive” place to retire and one of America’s quirkiest towns by the AARP publication Modern Maturity.

My daughter Jill and I spent a few hours there while I was visiting with her family a couple of weeks ago.

Jill in the doorway of the historic Copper Queen Hotel Saloon.

The day was lovely, not too warm and not too chilly. The sun shone upon us so eating lunch on the patio of the Copper Queen Hotel was perfect.

But first we visited the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. The town, founded in 1880, was home to copper, gold, and silver miners. Since 1929, Bisbee has been the county seat for Cochise County.

I could have spent most of the day in the museum. The exhibits were fascinating. Here are two of my favorites: first a photo collage of one of my favorites–a lunchbox showing what a miner might have taken home with him at the end of the day; second a “movie in the window” showing what it was like for children to grow up in a 19th century mining town.

As we window-shopped the main street of the historic downtown area, I found this storefront. Jill had never heard of Woolworth’s but I remember when it was one of the stores frequented by my parents (though that was in Columbus, Ohio–many miles from Bisbee).

Though we browsed through a couple of thrift and antique stores, and found some really cool vintage items, I think our favorite place was the used bookstore.

Jill found a huge yet very inexpensive tome about Oscar Wilde and I picked up a copy of Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Half-Moon. We picked up three or four other books, too.

As I needed to add anything else to my “to be read” stack.

But back to Bisbee and a few trivia notes.

A view of Bisbee from the Copper Queen Hotel patio.

John Wayne was a frequent visitor to the Copper Queen Hotel.

Remember Wilson Wilson, the neighbor behind the fence on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement? That was actually Earl Hindman who was born in Bisbee.

The town has been used for several movies and television shows, including both the original and 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma and Young Guns II.

The town’s official motto is: An American Original.

Your Turn

Jill and I enjoyed our visit to Bisbee, and we joked about moving there while enjoying hot chocolate at a local café. What place would get your vote as the “Best Small Town in America” and why? If it’s not your hometown, would you move there given the chance?

Tomorrow is National Winnie-the-Pooh Day

Happy Early Birthday to A. A. Milne

Happy 134th Birthday to A. A. Milne, creator of the much-loved Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Woods.

Milne, born on January 18, 1882, was inspired by his son’s stuffed animals.

Christopher Robin named his teddy bear after Winnie, a black bear he liked to visit at the London Zoo, and Pooh, a swan.

During my first (and only) trip to New York City in May 2015, I saw Christopher Robin’s toys in the children’s section of the New York Public Library.

As a Pooh fan, I was absolutely thrilled!

Here are three of my photos from that visit.

A close-up of the original Winnie-the-Pooh


Winnie and his pals


 The Hundred Acre Woods

Just to clarify, National Winnie-the-Pooh Day is tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18th.

So make plans now to grab  a pot of honey and sing Happy Birthday to Mr. Milne.

Your Turn

My writing group announces our achievements with Tigger bounces. But if I had to choose one favorite Milne character, I think I’d choose Piglet.

Who’s your favorite?

Looking Ahead to 2017!

And a Few Ventures

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A friend recently posted a meme in a Facebook group with this message:

2015 was practice.

2016 was warm-up.

2017 is game time!

In a way . . . somehow . . . this is my life.

The new year brings a major change. This spring I’ll be moving from my sister’s four-acre hobby farm –where I tended an alpaca herd, discovered newborn bunnies, witnessed my little papillon actually tree a raccoon (more than once), surprised a fox (and we were way too close to one another), dealt with more dead things than I ever have in my life, took a weaving class, and imagined three novels and a novella–to a home of my own near Tampa.

A new chapter is exciting, but closing the current one will not be easy. In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve become part of the local inspirational writing community, made new friends, and enjoyed Mid-South hospitality.

It’s hard to think about New Year’s resolutions when I don’t even know what “a day in my life” will look like.

But I am planning ventures (which just may be my 2017 Word of the Year).

Writing ventures include a second cozy mystery, a major revision to my unpublished novel When Memory Whispers, and a third still-to-be-decided project.

I’ve already started my travel ventures. I was in Tulsa over Christmas and, as you’re reading this, I’m headed to Arizona to hug my grandgirls. Who knows where else my vagabond feet will wander in the coming months?

(If venture is my 2017 Word of the Year, then a bicycle is my symbol.)

Let’s not forget hobby ventures.

I’ve been taking horse-riding lessons . . . on a pony. A TALL pony! Gabby probably won’t miss me as much as I’ll miss her but she’s given me the confidence to take a chance, try something scary, and live to talk about it. <said with a grin>

My weaving sample (woven on a table loom)

A weaving loom probably isn’t in my future, but I enjoyed the class I took.

A friend from church has promised to teach me to crochet an infinity scarf. I’ve already created the 72-inch chain she told me I needed.

An acting class might be fun–not because I have any talent, but because of the insights I’d gain about creating characters.

So many things to do. So many things to try.

Now it’s your turn. What ventures might 2017 hold for you?