So, I Got These Chickens…

I’ve been trying to do the A to Z Blog Challenge, but between work and getting the garden planted, I’ve been a little busy!!
Aaannnd, I got these chickens…


It seemed like a great idea, nice pets, fresh eggs, but darn if they haven’t sucked the last of the free time out of my life.
They were cute little peeps at week one, but you need to keep one-week-old chicks at 95 degrees, so I checked the temperature every hour for the first week.














By two weeks, I relaxed on the temperature a bit. They were very healthy. They were growing the cutest little feathers on their wings. Adorable!


They were eating more, and you know what that means…pooping more, so I cleaned out their “box” at least twice. We also began putting their coop together outside, deciding where to put their run and how to predator proof it.










By week three, they were jumping on top of their water container and occasionally knocking it over. Wet chick bedding is NOT a good smell, and of course, the bottom of the box got soaked. I dumped all the Christmas items out of my gigantic Christmas tote and moved the chicks in there. While moving them, I let them play in a cat litter box filled with peat moss. They love to flop around in there and take a dust bath. By the time the tote was ready for them, they had the entire guest bathroom covered with peat moss.










Week four began a race to the finish. They were quickly outgrowing their tote, and since they didn’t have all their feathers yet, they were looking like awkward teenagers. Without all their feathers, it’s not safe for them to live outside. The nights would be too chilly for them, and besides, the coop wasn’t finished.














Week five. The coop was ready and they were almost completely feathered, but the nights were still cold, so I took them one-by-one out to the coop during the day and one-by-one back into the house at night. There was some serious squawking going on. When they were inside, they wanted to be out. When they were outside, they wanted to be in.


Week six. Yay! Finally getting these chickens out of my kitchen. They are feathered. The nights are balmy. The Christmas tote has been washed out and disinfected and the Christmas items replaced. The coop is finished and officially named the “Taj MaHen.”


Now if we can just get the dogs to relax…

Dante Cicchetti 1924-2017

I usually write about my own blood family, but today is a special day. Today I am attending the memorial service of my husband’s grandfather.

dante cicchetti with great grandson alex jackDante Cicchetti (pronounced Seh-KEH-tee) was born 7 Dec 1920 in Italy. He was the third child of Nicholos Cicchetti and Maria Leonarda Scarlato. He had an older sister and an older brother. Following him was a girl born in June of 1924, and 11 Oct of the same year, the family landed on the shores of America in New York.

Through the early 1900s, many Italians were not treated well in Italy. I won’t go into the gory details, but they were used, starved, women were raped, men suffered, and most were desperate to escape. They did anything they could to scrape up enough money to book passage to America. America was in the middle of an industrial boom and needed laborers. Hardworking, desperate Italians fit this bill.

Not all were happy about the Italian boom. In the 1911 Dillingham report, propaganda reigned supreme, and most of the crime was blamed on Italians. This led to the Immigration Act of 1924 which barred most Italians from entering the country. I’m not sure how the Cicchetti family even got into the country, but standing by my husband’s side at his grandfather’s mass, I’m glad they did.

Following their arrival, the family found their way to Michigan and took up residence in the Detroit area. This is where Dante’s youngest sister was born in 1927.

In 1940, Dante served in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. He spent time in the Philippines and in Bermuda, among other places. I remember looking through the old photographs that line the walls at the Royal Naval Dockyard Museum in Bermuda, searching for his face, but I wouldn’t know a 20-year-old grandpa if I saw him.

bettylee joyce stewart and dante cicchettiDante married Bettylee Joyce Stewart 19 Sep 1942 and had five daughters and one son. The following decades saw his family expand to a host of in-laws, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Dante and Bettylee traveled the world, they wintered in Florida, and they were by each other’s side for 66 years.


In 2008, he lost his bride and he was never the same. He missed her deeply and kept himself busy taking care of his home. Until the last few months of his life, he lived alone in his house, shoveling his snow, tending his garden, cutting his grass, and cleaning his gutters. Imagine the frustration of family members arriving at his house and finding 92-year-old grandpa on the ladder again.

He was an entertaining gent with tons of stories of his Italian family, raising his children, and traveling around the world.

He died 31 Dec 2017 following complications of surgery while repairing his broken hip. I’m surprised he didn’t break it many times before while climbing ladders.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. We love you.

cicchetti dante dog tag usn

Everything I Need to Know, I’ve Learned from SpongeBob

Every morning I get ready for work while listening to SpongeBob playing on the television in the other room. No, I don’t have little kids. I turn it on for my dogs. Hush. Dogs like TV.


(SpongeBob SquarePants image property of Nickelodeon)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m in love with that square little piece of sunshine, and I’ve learned quite a bit from him. I think I may have zeroed in on everything one needs to know to be happy in this lifetime from that crabby-patty-flippin’ sponge.

If you’ve never watched the show, do yourself a favor and tune it. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Wake each day with a smile on your face.
  2. Find a job you love to do and do it to the best of your ability.
  3. Have a very good friend, preferably one who lives next door.
  4. Have a pet. It makes life so much better.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Don’t feed into other’s negativity.
  7. Don’t believe what others say about you, even when they say it to your face.
  8. Always be kind.

I think that sums it up! Life according to SpongeBob. Have a lovely day, my friends!

(SpongeBob SquarePants show cast from Nickelodeon)



Mother’s Day Gratefulness

I read a blog yesterday written by a woman who was condemning Mother’s Day. She said it makes women who are not mothers feel bad. She also said she’s raising her son to not observe Mother’s Day because she doesn’t want him to feel obligated to buy her anything.

First, I think the woman is a gigantic twit. What about all the other kids making special construction-paper gifts at school for their moms? Is he supposed to sit in the corner and not make one, because she doesn’t want a gift? She’s obviously got emotional problems that need to be addressed, and she’s teaching her son to be ungrateful. If we’re not grateful for what we have in our lives, then we are doomed to be chronically unhappy. Perhaps he can find another nurturer to give his dandelion bouquet to.

lambSecond, there are also maturity issues here because Mother’s Day is not about buying gifts or getting gifts. It’s about giving. It’s also not about being a biological mother and feeling bad if you’re not one. It’s about thanking the person who nurtured you, who pointed you in the right direction, who loved you unconditionally. Hopefully, we all have someone who did that for us.


From a mother’s viewpoint, raising children (even furry ones) is not an easy job. It’s often painful and sometimes feels futile, but we do it. Do you know why we do it? Because we love. And love is the most important thing on the Earth. I don’t expect or need anything from my family in return, but I know what they will do on Mother’s Day. My daughter will send flowers and/or chocolate-covered something because she knows I love chocolate. My son will call late in the day and claim he forgot it was Mother’s Day. He will simply say, “I love you.” I raised them. I know what they’re like. My husband will buy me something to show he’s thankful for the way I raised the kids. Obviously I’m not his mother, but he’s showing his gratitude. I don’t need anything from them, but the moments of acknowledgement are sweet. They tell me the pain and futility of the job was worth it.


lionBack to the woman’s blog. If you haven’t done that painful job, why would you feel bad when other women who have done the job get special treatment and you don’t? Doesn’t make sense. The holiday is not about getting, remember? Get off your immature, egocentric horse, and go find someone to be nice to. Buy them a flower. Give them a hug. Call them late in the day and claim you forgot it was Mother’s Day but you just wanted to say, “I love you.”


Sure, some people, like me, don’t have a mother any more. Some mothers have lost children and grieve them on Mother’s Day. Some people have mothers who they wished they didn’t have. No one’s life is perfect. But, that’s no reason to squash the love that comes out on Mother’s Day.

To all you nurturers out there in the blogosphere – Thank you for loving someone and making the world a better place. Happy Mother’s Day!



The Right to Free Speech vs. the Right to Not be Offended

The Right to Free Speech vs. the Right to Not be Offended

First… The right to free speech is a constitution right. The right to not be offended does not exist. There are limits to free speech such as lies (yelling “fire” when there is none), derogatory statements about race or gender (which can be construed as hate speech), using obscenities on the radio and tv, and a few more you can look up yourself.

Being an author, a blogger, and an artist, I’m strongly attached to this issue. There is an important discussion going on in this country regarding our right to free speech, and many organizations are circling the wagons, but there seems to be some major confusion between “recognizing bad taste” and “being deeply offended.” There was recently an incident of a satirist being accused of sexual harassment  over a college newspaper article published on April Fool’s Day that stated a new college building was being constructed in the shape of a vagina. The charges were brought about by one person, the Coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies, because she was offended. Apparently, she was also ignorant that it was April Fool’s Day and does not recognize satire. Maybe the article was in bad taste, maybe not. I didn’t read it. But being offended by a satirical piece is a choice, keeping in mine that satire is supposed to be offensive. That’s the whole point. When did America become a place where we have to edit everything we say and write so as to not offend anyone? By the way, that’s impossible. I eat meat. The vegans are livid. I don’t drink coffee. Starbucks just lost their minds.

There is no constitutional right to not be offended. Being a blonde, female, mother, I could be offended by dumb-blonde comments. I could be offended by bad women driver posts. I could be offended by Yo Momma jokes. Being a survivor of abuse, I could be offended by people sticking up for the perpetrator in the recent Duggar scandal, but it’s a waste of my time and energy to allow myself to be offended by someone’s opinion. Some topics such as race, politics, religion, etc. run deeper than hair color or driving habits, but it’s still a waste of your time to be offended by someone’s comment, article, blog, joke, satire, or Facebook post. You have to learn to recognize the difference between opinions, trolls, ignorance, hate speech, and plain ole bad taste.

The silent majority

On the side of simply having a difference of opinion, how many of us remain silent in the face of ignorance or bad taste because we know we’ll be pummeled by nasty remarks from the other side. Are we intentionally and willingly giving up our right to free speech out of fear? What are we afraid of? I’ll tell you what we’re afraid of—there is no longer civil conversation in this country, no debate, no respect. Our problem isn’t speech, it’s lack of respect. How far can disagreements spiral downwards? Arguments, throwing fists, death threats? Why can’t we listen? Why can’t we agree to disagree?

Two distinct issues

I think there are two distinct issues here. The first is the illusion that you have a right to not be offended. There is no such right. If you’re offended, it’s your choice. I play an adult burlesque-ish dueling piano show. I always tell my audience that our job is to offend everyone throughout the night and if they haven’t been properly offended by the end of the show, come talk to one of us in person and we’ll be happy to offend them face-to-face. I’ve never had anyone leave the show or talk to us afterwards. They laugh. They don’t take offense. It’s their choice.

The second issue is the lack of respectful discussion in our culture. Many would rather be right than be nice, and many of us would rather unfriend you than offer our opinions and spark your rage. Is that a problem of lack of respect or of fear or both? Do I allow my fear of your anger to squash my right to free speech? Is it okay that I give you that power? Does your lack of respect give you more rights than me?


The same answer applies to both issues…be respectful.

From a communication standpoint: Speak, write, show the slightest bit of taste and respect in your ideas. There is a difference between trying to instigate anger and insulting people when they disagree and creating a thoughtful open dialog with respectful and honest communication.

From a receptive standpoint: Be open to other’s thoughts; perhaps you can learn something. Stop labeling and judging, and certainly don’t slam people when they represent an alternative idea. When did we start labeling groups with the sole intent on squashing them? When did our culture shift from meaningful debate to us vs. them? There is no us or them, and we are all members of the same group…human.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2a2It’s Monday! What are you reading? Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. Yes, I know this is a day late. Thanks for catching that and letting me know. 🙂

This week I read a book called

“Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck”

by Jamie George.


I’ve heard Jamie speak many times as he is the pastor at a church near my house, and I attend his Sunday services when I’m in town. The man can tell a good story. He brings Bible stories to life as I’ve never heard before, and he often has brilliant insights on life and love, so I was so excited to read his new book.

If you are in need of a new way to frame your thinking, or in a rocky relationship, or simply looking for ways to improve your life, you will love this book. I’ve been exposed to “New Thought” ideas for a long, long time, so I didn’t find anything particularly mind-blowing in this book, but there were a few things that struck me and stuck with me.

One thing he said, and I’m paraphrasing, was that if you ask someone to tell you their story, beginning with a moment in their life that radically changed their path, you will always hear a moment of light, of awe, of wonder. No matter how horrid or sad or tragic their story begins, they will always mention that flash of redemption – the moment they realized their bad situation created a positive result they never expected and certainly didn’t see at the time. I’ve been experimenting on friends and family without their knowledge. Yes, no matter what their story, it always has a bright light at the end. They say things like, “But if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Let them talk and wait for it. It always comes. Wow! If nothing else, it’s good to know that things usual turn out for the best, and if this is so, we can relax, knowing we will see the redemption in our situation eventually. Just realizing that takes the stress level down a notch.

I adore Jamie George. Check him out.

Jamie’s website – click here.

Journey Church Franklin – click here – where you can listen to Jamie’s podcasts.

Amazon link – click here.

National “I Am In Control” Day – No, really.

I-am-in-Control-Day-744938It’s coming quick. Do something. March 30th is National “I am in Control” Day.

It commemorates the date in 1981 when Secretary of State Alexander Haig said, “I am in control here,” in response to an interview regarding the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Take control. Put your foot down. Show people you mean business.


Well, how in the world can I do that, you ask? Let’s start with the outside stuff.

1. Make sure your clocks are set accurately.

2. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors, flashlights, remotes, clocks.

3. Fix those dumb things in your life that you tend to ignore – the burnt out lightbulb in the closet, the loose doorknob in the garage, the broken tile in the kitchen, the non-working blinker on your car.

4. Make appointments for those things you neglect – the dentist, the financial planner, the mammogram.

5. Organize those little places that never get organized – the medicine cabinet, the glove box, the junk drawer.

6. Call the people who are important to you and schedule time to see them. It doesn’t need to be a 10-day vacation together. Everyone eats dinner. Eat at the same place.

7. Finish this list. Only you know what things in your life need attention.


Now, let’s move on to inside stuff.

1. People can insult, belittle, upset, offend you ONLY if you allow them to. Their actions and words say  a lot more about them than about you. You are an amazing child of the universe and you ROCK! Blow it off, let it go, pay no attention.

2. If there is something bothering you, fix it. Do you need to apologize? Do it. Do you need to set some boundaries? Set them. (Realize you’ll probably need to set them over and over because not everyone will like your new rules, but they’ll get used to it. Stick to your guns. You’re in control, remember?)

3. If you can’t fix it, search your soul to find a way to be at peace with it. People live happy lives despite their circumstances. Be one of those people.

4. Only you know what number 4 is. Do that.

It’s YOUR life! Do what you need to do to be able to say “I am in control.” March 30th is coming up fast!