Respect — Just a Little Bit

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my life was forever changed in the summer of 1967, when I was the ripe young age of fourteen.

1967 was a tumultuous year for me. The rest of America was in a tumult as well, dealing with peace rallies, the Vietnam draft, race riots, and war demonstrations.

A real shitstorm of a year that I wish I could forget.

But what I will always remember was the connection I had with the then unknown Aretha Franklin’s hit song:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.

What R-E-S-P-E-C-T meant to me in 1967 was a hope for dignity, bravery, empowerment, strength, guts, courage, nerve, daring, confidence.  Every time I heard that song, I felt a kinship with it.

A year later, in the late great 1968, Aretha released (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman, but this time her words did nothing for me.

I was certain that no man could ever make me feel inspired.

But then I heard it on the radio in 1984, and it was like I was hearing it for the first time.

It was a few months after my son was born, and it hit me that I could indeed be inspired by a man. Not as a wife, but as a mother to a son.

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
Till your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more

Rest in peace Aretha and thank you for inspiring me.

Global Warming—the New Normal

 

Globally, this year is shaping up to be the fourth hottest on record. The only years hotter were the three previous ones.

Since modern record keeping began, seventeen of the eighteen warmest years have occurred since 2001.

WAKE UP CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS, because temperatures are going to continue to rise, heat waves will only grow hotter and more intense, fires and floods will forge on, annihilating everything and anything in their path.

Make no mistake about it: Our world is getting hotter and will threaten and ultimately destroy our basic necessities for survival like food, water, and electricity.

Prepare for Climageddon because diminishing food supply, water scarcity, and unreliable electricity is in our future.

Ice caps are melting, wild fires are raging, and some of the most beautiful places on earth will cease to exist.

Places like Key West, Florida, the Rhône Valley in France, the Alps, California’s Nappa Valley, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Venice, Italy, Glacier National Park in Montana, the Dead Sea, the Maldives, the Amazon, and Alaska are suffering severe global warming consequences, with some facing the prospect of vanishing entirely.

And what’s so incredibly frightening is that so far efforts to tame the heat have all failed miserably.

But the absolute scariest part about all of this is that WITHOUT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, the rest of the world has united to fight climate change.

Thanks for the win, Donald.

A New Dawn Aka the Name Game

For as far back as I can remember I always thought my middle name was spelled Dawne.

I first saw the spelling of it in my teens, on my Social Security Card, and took it for granted that my mother for some reason or another chose to spell it that way.

And over the years I’ve joked with my friends about the “e” at the end.

Dawn with an e. A typo? A misspelling? A careless mistake?

Why the e?

But the sad truth is that every time I asked myself the why-the-e question, I always came back with the same follow-up:

Why the me?

The me was the harder of the two questions.

And the e? Well, that mystery has recently been solved.

Last month, while combing through ancestry.com I came upon myself, and I discovered that my middle name is Dawn. No e.

I was sure that ancestry.com had made an error, so I ordered an original birth certificate, and upon its receipt, I discovered that there was, in fact, no e.

Sixty-five years later, I guess it’s good to know.

But I’m still in the dark about the me.

On a recent Saturday, while listening to my favorite songs on my iPod, I passed a mirror and caught my image.

I intently checked out my reflection. I critically scrutinized myself.

Mirror mirror on the wall.

I looked old, and most definitely not the fairest of them all.

I was eyeing myself up and down, not in a critical way like I need to lose weight—but with an eye for WTF happened to me.

Not just this week, or last week, or last month, or last year, but five, ten, twenty, forty, fifty years ago.

All the way back to fifty long years ago.

And that memorable day back in high school when I received my Social Security Card in the mail.

There it was. Three names.

My first name had been completely obliterated. Theresa had been replaced with Teri.

For my first few months in a new school and town, I had been viciously bullied and called “Theresa the greasah,” so a family decision had been made long before the Social Security Card arrived that my first name had to go.

And I was okay with that.

Terry with a “y” was deemed too masculine. Teri with an “i,” now that was an excellent Westport Connecticut name according to the fam.

One might read this and think “How awful.”

I didn’t feel awful about it. But I was praying that “Teri” didn’t rhyme with anything hurtful.

So I was mentally prepared for the first name, but as I fingered the Social Security Card, the middle name struck me as odd.

D-a-w-n-e.

I immediately thought that the e at the end was weird, but I wasn’t about to ask my mother any questions. That was back in the old days when children were seen and never heard.

So I begrudgingly accepted Dawne, although I would have much preferred Dawn.

And then there was my new last name.

It had been changed to something else because I had been recently adopted by my step-father.

Now, I was upset about that.

Actually, I was devastated by that.

I didn’t want to be adopted, and I certainly didn’t want to change my last name.

Because that meant that my father, whoever and wherever he was, let me go.

He gave me up to some other man.

My father gave me up. He gave up on me.

Turns out I was wrong about that.

Turns out I was wrong about a lot of things back then.

I would come to find out almost ten years after my Social Security Card arrival that my last name was illegal, and then of course last month, that Dawn-with-an-e was a typo.

Illegal and typo.

Just like my first, middle, and last name on that Social Security Card, I was all scrambled up and nothing was left of the original me. No security at all.

Back to the mirror, mirror on the wall.

There was no one to ask. No one to reassure or reaffirm who I was seeing, staring back at me.

Me with illegal-typo me.

No makeup, just plain-faced, with frizzed up hair, and haphazardly dressed in my daughter’s hand-me-down clothes.

Most people tell me I look like an entirely different person with vs. without makeup.

And many of them think they are being brutally honest when they confide to me that yes, I look better all dolled up.

“You don’t think I know that?” I always respond to them.

“Then why go out bare faced?” they ask.

Because I don’t care.

And because I feel the full force of me with a naked face.

And anyway, with the war paint, I feel fake, unnatural, itchy, unreal. Illegal.

In the old days, it was all about:

Mascaraed eyes black to the max. Check.

Fake smile. Check.

Every strand of hair in place. Check.

My fancy clothes, my fancy shoes. Check. Check.

Now it’s about:

No makeup, naturally dried hair, dressed in hand-me-downs. That’s me. The authentic and real me.

Broken blood vessels, dark circles under my eyes, my disappearing eyebrows, and those despised sun dots and spots. I no longer call them beauty marks. I know full well what they are.

I feel the plain me is my best me.

The free, fresh faced me, able to run outdoors any time, and anywhere and immerse my whole self in a torrential down pouring of rain. No worries that my makeup will streak or smudge.

And it is so helpful when the tears come streaming down. No worries that black mascara will run down my face like one of those scary clowns.

The sensitive me, immersed in the unforgettable scent of a fresh storm, the mesmerizing pitter-patter sounds the wet stuff makes, and the hypnotic effect that each drip and drop have on my psyche as they gently or ferociously land on my makeup-free face.

Or the poetic me that adores the clean taste of rainfall as I gaze upwards with arms outstretched and imbibe in a wondrous drink from the clouds.

And when I sometimes wash my hair in the tumultuous downpour, I wonder if anyone who loves or loved me is looking out at the same tempest, at the same time, and dreaming about what ifs.

Because those who have been nearest and dearest to me, know I adore the rain and the dark, dreary days, the squalls, the windstorms, the whirlwind gales, all of them.

But gazing at my rainless, unpoetic, and makeup free mirror image, I studied the sad eyes sadly studying me back.

Who the hell am I and who the hell else is out there?

So many of us feel connected to our ancestral roots. We dream of tracing our familial trees. We dream of finding long lost family members or experiencing the Aha moment.

I have always believed that it was fundamental and essential to my self healing that I figure out my who and where.

I spent a lifetime trying to fit the pieces together, convinced that I couldn’t move forward until I stepped backwards in the hopes of figuring out where I had been. Who I was to people.

Some fifty years ago and way before the internet, I would drive around Bridgeport, trying to find streets, houses, and tenements, in a desperate search for answers, and something—anything that might spark a memory or two. Good or bad. Something solid to hang on to.

And then after the internet, and with the same driving courage, I was able to find out more about me and my mysterious roots.

My years of familial searching and then finding, taught me to be careful about what one wishes for.

And to be mindful that in the looking, one might actually find something, and that something might be worse than the not knowing.

As an example, I tried to find out who my father was for years. And once I was successful in my pursuit, I discovered that there was a massive divide between who I dreamed my father was, and who he turned out to actually be.

In my search for the truth about my father, the truth was indeed stranger, and much more personal and painful than fiction.

But I’ll save that story for another time.

Growing up, I was never sure about who I was. And sixty-five years later, I’m still partially in the dark.

And even though I’ve already unearthed some painful stuff, I’m not afraid of finding out more.

In the end, I am who I am, no matter what I find out.

I was in the seek-and-you-shall-find mode, no matter what the outcome.

Call it a late-in-life crisis. But to be honest, this crisis has been a lifetime in the making.

I decided to treat myself to a tell-all for my 65th birthday.

I threw fearful to the wind and decided to research the two most sought-after companies who collect DNA information—Ancestry and 23andMe—before making my final decision about which one to go with.

Ancestry has sold over three million DNA kits and counting. It has user-generated content that has made it possible to produce more than 70 million family trees and offers access to over 16 billion online records.

I know, I sound like a commercial.

And then there’s 23andMe.

More than 1 million people have been genotyped through 23andMe.com.

If you’re curious about why the company is called 23andMe: It’s named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in each human cell. They also offer estimates of predisposition for more than 90 traits and conditions ranging from baldness to blindness.

I wasn’t interested in predisposition. That would be way too much information for my liking.

I wanted to find stuff out, but I’m not that curious.

I’m interested in family stuff, not health stuff.

It would be my luck to rummage around and find some unintended and wholly unwanted predispositions. Baldness? Blindness? No thank you.

I love rainstorms. Healthstorms, are a whole other ball of wax, and I prefer to stay as in the dark about them as possible.

So I decided to go with Ancestry.com.

For $99, I was sent a vial in which to deposit my saliva. I mailed it back, and three weeks later I received the written details of me.

Within minutes I discovered the new Dawn, no e.

When I finished reading the Teri report, I looked around my desk at all the fading black and white photographs of me as a baby, with my grandmother, great grandmother, and mother.

I thought about the patchwork quilts and crocheted afghan blankets, the nursery rhymes sung in French, the recipes for rhubarb pie and macaroni with hamburger casserole.

Try as I can, the words to the French ditty have long been forgotten, but I see in those photos that I was someone special to somebody.

And I finally realize that I don’t need the photographs to recall the love. I can unearth the adoration any old time I want to, in the deepest caverns of my mind.

I can ensconce myself in my grandmother’s afghan and quilts, amidst the quiet memory of the why and who I was at least to her.

The rest I guess be damned.

Because I finally feel at peace with me.  With or without the e.

The Secret Sits

Robert Frost’s poem “The Secret Sits” is one of my all-time favorites.

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Secret, with a capital S.

It’s a simple couplet; just two lines of poetry that rhyme, but brilliantly speaks volumes to me.

I’m sure it speaks volumes to you as well.

And I’m equally sure that how and why it touches you is entirely different from what Frost’s poem means to me.

Its poetic rhythm is in anapestic trimeter; a rhythmical combination of anapest: (A foot of poetic verse consisting of three syllables) and trimeter: (Three iambic feet within a single line of poetry).

Three.

Tri.

In the middle.

Like a Prayer

It was a destination wedding, and Evangeline was an invited guest and close friend of the bride’s father.

Evangeline expected the event to be somewhat melancholy because the bride’s mother had suddenly and unexpectedly died several years earlier.

Upon her arrival at the hotel, Evangeline quickly ascertained that the family of five was in a profoundly ruptured state.

The lobby was her first indication of trouble.

The father was sitting in the far corner with his girlfriend, and Evangeline immediately felt the negative aura in the room.

The four siblings were scattered here and there, marking their separate corners.

The two daughters were as far away from their father as was possible and it was apparent that they were not on speaking terms with the girlfriend.

The eldest son sat in a club chair not far from his dad, his young daughter on his lap, with his wife standing protectively next to them in mama bear mode.

The youngest son/child had no seat, and he moved awkwardly back and forth between his father, brother, and sisters, while the father’s girlfriend intently scrolled through her phone pretending to be busy.

The bride’s mother, gone for almost nine years had been a beautiful but fragile soul, and Evangeline could see that time had not been healing.

At the rehearsal dinner, there were additional signs of unnervingly silent pain and animosity as Evangeline continued to observe and assess the situation.

The youngest brother was clearly loved by all and again drifted from brother to sisters to father.  The oldest brother, his wife, and child were purposefully avoided by the sisters who were attached at the hip. And neither daughter approached their father at all.

Evangeline felt sadness for the eldest who was visibly distressed, and so she made a point of going up to him with the hope of eliciting some information. But they only briefly spoke about insignificant nothings while he occasionally and warily eyed his sisters.

The next day, Evangeline could not fathom why the youngest brother was in the wedding party but not the oldest.

And the child of the oldest brother was in the wedding, but completely ignored by everyone else in the party except the younger brother who went out of his way to mollify her.

After the nuptials, there was the usual eating, drinking, and dancing. But Evangeline was obsessed with the sub plots playing out before her.

The family of five sat at four separate tables and four corners apart: Daughters, father, eldest son, youngest son.

Four heartbreaking scenarios: Daughters. Daughters vs. father/girlfriend. Daughters vs. eldest brother/child/wife.  Youngest brother floating uncomfortably in and out of all three camps. Appeasing and floating from corner to corner. From camp to camp.

Then came the unforgettable finale.

It started with the deejay who switched it up from Motown to Madonna.

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone. I hear you call my name. And it feels like home.

Evangeline, who was sitting closest to the eldest brother, witnessed the simultaneous familial eruption.

The eldest brother shot out of his seat while yelling out: “Mom’s song!” as he pulled his wife and child to the dance floor.

When you call my name, it’s like a little prayer. I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there.

The youngest brother bounded up to the oldest, and the two hugged tightly.

In the midnight hour, I can feel your power. Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there.

The bride grabbed her sister’s hand, and they ran toward the others.

I hear your voice. It’s like an angel sighing.

Evangeline gaped in shock as they all bounced and danced while bellowing out the words to the song, holding their hands close to their mouths as if they were microphones.

I close my eyes, oh God I think I’m falling.

The dance floor remained solely for them. No one dared to intrude in their powerful moment.

I have no choice, I hear your voice. Feels like flying.

Jumping and gyrating to the music, the youngest of the siblings loosened his tie, while the oldest embraced his sisters, who lovingly embraced him back.

Out of the sky, I close my eyes. Heaven help me.

Many of the guests, including Evangeline, were choking up and quickly wiping away tears lest anyone should see.  The father was visibly moved, and every person in the room sat quietly mesmerized.

Like a child, you whisper softly to me. You’re in control just like a child. Now I’m dancing.

The sisters clutched the hands of the child and the wife. The wife appeared stunned. The child confused. But their expressions quickly changed to delight.

It’s like a dream, no end, and no beginning. You’re here with me, it’s like a dream.

The six of them formed a circle, and while tightly holding hands they moved inward and outward, laughing and singing and smiling. Inward and outward.

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there. Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery.

The bride put her head on her older brother’s shoulder. Was she weeping? It was hard for Evangeline to say because her own tears made it impossible to see.

Just like a dream, you are not what you seem. Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there.

Then the song ended and the crowd sat silently, and overcome by what they had just seen, waiting for what would come next.

The family circle broke apart and back to their separate corners they all went.

The Three Strong Women in My Life


Mommy, Mammy, and Grammy Nadeau

My first fourteen years were spent living with my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  Many on the outside thought our living arrangements were unusual. To them, I was living in a broken home.

To be clear, there was nothing broken about our home, our relationships, or our bond.

And sure, we struggled, but there was a lot of big love.

My desk area is covered with photos of me with the three women who shaped and steered my life.

I often gaze at us and wonder: Who was I to them? And who were they?

I was known as mon petit chou to my grandmother and my grandmother’s favorite to my mother. And since my mother was my great-grandmother’s favorite, I like to imagine I was in the same treasured category as my mom.

My grandmother barely knew her father, and my mother and I never knew our fathers at all.

I was an only child, and so was my mom, so the three women in my life were all the family I had—or needed.

My great-grandmother lost her mother when she was four, so I can only assume that she knew her father well. Unfortunately, I never asked her much about her life.

I do remember her telling me that her husband, my great-grandfather, had been involved in a terrible accident which rendered him a vegetable. I never forgot the story because even at a young age, I felt her pain. She told me that he spent most of his adult life in an asylum. And I could see from the telling, she was ashamed.

Through ancestry.com I was recently able to find a 1930 census document with my great-grandfather’s name on it. He was indeed a patient at the Augusta Maine State Hospital for the Insane and spent at least 25 years there before he died in 1951.

We were four women, with no male heroes. A dysfunctional familial band of female strength on the one hand, full of unspoken male loss on the other.

There were no men in my early life—and that suited me just fine. Not that I knew any better.

How strange it is, then, that having been surrounded by women for most of my life, that I’ve never had a lot of female friends. In high school, I had maybe three close girlfriends. In college, I had one.

Even today, the females in my life are few and far between.

I suppose it’s because of those early days of being surrounded by loyal, compassionate, and unconditionally loving women.

But that was then, and this is now.

Perhaps I expect the women in my life to live up to a higher standard. Maybe a standard that is virtually unattainable.

I just don’t know.

We were four strong until at nine years old, my great-grandmother passed away.

And then after many weeks of tears and broken hearts, we were three strong.

My grandmother died when I was thirty.  I lost a heart wrenching chunk of me and an enormous safety net.

She was my safest place.

Down to two strong.

She left me at a crucial time in my life. I threw up for weeks after her death thinking I was heart sick.

It wasn’t my heart. I was pregnant.

Boy did I need her guidance.

And then things went wrong. Really wrong. My life took some spins and turns and crashes and burns.

You could say I joined a circus for a few years.

I made some naïve and terrible choices. Didn’t we all?

Down to one strong.

How I wish I would have asked my three strong women more questions about their pasts, their loves, their dreams, their aspirations, their regrets.

There are so many things I don’t know about them. I have way too many unanswered questions.

And way too many whys and hows and sorrys.

I so wish I could turn back the hands of time to live and love them all again and begin anew.


Me with my grandmother circa 1953

Spring Cleaning Tips

I am writing this blog for my own benefit,  because I know if I write my spring cleaning tips in a post it will be forever immortalized on The Teri Tome.

This way next spring, when I can’t find my spring cleaning check list, I’ll know where to go!

Spring has sprung, and I know what that means.

I’ll be cleaning, and my husband will be…

…I know what I have to do, but I don’t really want to.

And I don’t really need a checklist, because I know the drill.

Wash the windows, wipe down all my ceiling fans and lights, change out the cabinet shelf liners, degrease the kitchen, give the refrigerator a full clean out and clean up, wash the curtains, vacuum under the beds, tip top the bathrooms, degrunge the grout, and so on and on and on.

I’m already exhausted and entirely turned off.

But I gotta do it.

And my husband?

He knows I gotta do it too…

So here are some tips:

Clean your glass shower doors: The easiest way to remove hard water stains and soap scum? Dryer sheets. Yep. Try it. Wet a dryer sheet and working in a circular motion, clean the glass. If a film remains simply wipe it off with a glass cleaner and paper towel.  You can also use dryer sheets (unused or used) to buff spots off mirrors, bathroom, and kitchen fixtures.  They also remove rings around the toilet and are great for baseboard cleaning.

Shower scum: Fill a dish wand with half vinegar and half dish soap. I highly recommend blue Dawn. (Make use the Dawn is blue.) Then scrub away. You can also use an old sponge, Dobie pad, toothbrush or scrub brush and just dip into a cup of the same solution.

Degrunge your tiles and grout: First sweep or vacuum. Mix warm water and powdered oxygen bleach to create a thick paste consistency. Not runny. (OxiClean is the best). Do not use regular bleach. It won’t work. Then apply the bleach paste to the grout with a sponge and let it sit for 5 to 30 minutes. For large surfaces work with small areas, so the solution doesn’t dry on the surface. Then take a scrub brush and tjuz it around. (Or is it zhoozh?) Whatever. You get the point. Then rinse with hot water.  As the grout or tile dries, it will brighten up without the hassle of heavy scrubbing.

Removing mildew from white grout: Try using a bleach pen. This method is tedious, but the payoff is worth it.  Use the pen to draw the bleach into the grout lines. The pen allows you to target the grout without getting bleach all over the tile. Wait 10 minutes and then rinse. For really mildewy grout, you may need a second application. It can also help to gently scrub the bleach into the grout with a toothbrush and then wait the 10 minutes.

Remove stubborn toilet and bathtub rust stains: If you have a lot of iron in your water and struggle with rust stains in your toilet or bathtub, the perfect solution is a product called Acid Magic. Acid Magic is the user friendly Muriatic acid replacement, and is safer because it won’t burn your skin and has up to 90% less fumes. But make sure to take all the precautions you need to, like wearing gloves and safety glasses when using it. To clean rust from toilets and other porcelain surfaces, add three parts water to one part Acid Magic. Apply the mixture to the rust stains with a sprayer, brush or foam pad and watch the stain dissolve. Rinse with clear water. You can also use it full strength for stubborn stains. Avoid getting the acid on metal parts because they can discolor.

Remove tough stains from vinyl flooring: f your vinyl floor has marks or stains that won’t come off, try using Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Using rubber gloves dampen a white rag and rub it on marks and stains.  Don’t use anything but a white cloth to avoid color staining.

Take advantage of your dishwasher: You can save yourself a ton of time by washing all kinds of stuff in your dishwasher. Be sure there are no plastic parts that won’t be able to withstand the heat and run them through a “normal” washing cycle. Some examples of stuff you can run through your dishwasher on a “normal” cycle: silicone oven mitts and trivets, toys, figurines, kitchen brushes and sponges.

Ceiling fans: Take an old pillowcase and spray the inside with Pledge, Endust or any all-purpose cleaner. Slide the case over the blade and then slowly draw the fabric back. All the dust and dirt will stay in the pillowcase instead of flying everywhere.

Keep your refrigerator squeaky clean: Wash the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water. Loosen hardened spills on fixed parts by wetting the area with the mixture, allowing the residue to soften. Use a toothbrush to scrub crannies.

Lint free television and computer screen cleanup:  Spray a touch of screen cleaner to a coffee filter and wipe away the dust with no lint worries.

Clean your blinds: Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a bowl and get a sock to put over your hand. Dip the sock in the solution and then run it over each slat of the blinds to remove any dirt or dust.

Remove tarnish: Place sterling or plated silver in an aluminum pan. (It must be aluminum.) Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda over the silverware. Keeping the pan in the sink to minimize splashing, pour enough boiling water to cover the utensils. When the tarnish disappears, remove the silverware and buff with a soft cotton cloth.

Wash small neck decanters and pitchers: Fill the bottles with water, drop in a tablet or two of a denture cleaner such as Efferdent, let stand overnight. Then scrub with a narrow nylon brush.

Stainless steel appliances: For an impressively clean shine, put some rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth and wipe those annoying fingerprints away. You can also use a drop or two of olive oil.

Your couch: Baking soda can help remove lingering smells and break up stains on the fabric. Start by brushing off the surface of the couch, then sprinkle baking soda on the area you want to clean. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then vacuum it up using the brush attachment.

Quick and easy way to clean up dust, dirt, and crumbs:  Use a lint roller to pick up dust, dirt, and crumbs pretty much anything your house.  It’s perfect for lamp shades, drawers, tablecloths, carpets, and window screens. If you have fabric that needs a face lift, lint roller it!

Remove kitchen/bathroom cabinet gunk: Mix together a solution of vegetable oil and baking soda, and then use an old toothbrush to scrub all that gunky stuff out of the corners of cabinet surfaces.

Get your rings to shine again:  The safest way to clean an engagement ring or any other type of ring with precious metals is to mix warm water with a small amount of blue Dawn dishwashing soap and let the ring soak for about 10 to 20 minutes. Then use a soft toothbrush to make it sparkly clean.

Get rid of mold: Clean mold the same way you clean cuts. Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Wipe the mixture on the moldy spots and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Then scrub the area to remove all mold and stains, and wipe down the surface.

Hardwood floors: Make a magic solution by combining 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon castile soap, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, with 2 cups warm water. Then pour the mixture into a plastic spray bottle. Apply this cleaner over stained hardwood areas, wipe with a soft cloth and you’ll be amazed at the shiny results. Take special care not to get your floor too wet while cleaning.

Porcelain tile floors: Start by sweeping the floor to remove any dust on the porcelain tiles. You can use a dry dust mop or a vacuum. Use a damp sponge mop and a solution of 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of water.

Quartz countertops: Wipe countertops clean with a damp cloth. Use a mild, nonabrasive detergent soap for deep cleaning.

Erase Scuff Marks: Clean off shoe scuff marks from vinyl flooring with a clean, dry tennis ball. A light rub and heel marks are erased.

Outdoor aluminum chairs: Combine blue Dawn with warm water and scrub with a Dobie pad. Then rinse very well.

Trex Decks:  Combine an equal amount of water and white vinegar and use a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. Rinse thoroughly after use and do not leave the vinegar in contact with the surface. A nylon scratch pad or toothbrush can be used on harder to clean areas.

Quartz composite sinks: A wipe down with a damp Magic Eraser works every time.

Magic Erasers are indeed magic. You can use them on pretty much anything.

And blue Dawn works miracles on most stains. Just take a white cloth and dab it with a touch of Dawn (only blue), then rinse it off and wait for the shockingly positive results.

Happy cleaning!

Oh, and if I missed anything, please share your cleaning tips with me!

And if you have any brilliant ideas for how to get my husband to help me, fess up!

#NoMakeup

The no makeup trend purportedly started when Alicia Keys announced in May of 2016 that she was quitting makeup—not just in her daily life but also on her airings as a judge on The Voice as well as her professional life.

Lots of celebrities quickly followed suit, inspiring young girls to show off their unfiltered self with boldness, courage, and confidence.

No disrespect to Alicia, and the rest of the VIP’s, but I quit makeup over ten years ago.

Which got me to thinking:

Did I actually start the No Makeup movement?

A few years ago a friend wanted to share something with me, but she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

I responded with an immediate “please tell,” but inwardly nervous about what she was going to divulge.

She hesitated awkwardly and then blurted it out.

“You look so much better with makeup.”

My response: “Uh duh. You think I don’t know that? But I like my makeup free look.”

My daily beauty regimen goes like this:

Wake up. Wash my face. Slather on sunscreen. Wash my face. Go to sleep.

I’m not saying I’m anti makeup. Trust me, when I’m in the mood, I can cake it on with the best of them.

But 99% of my life is spent free of anything on my face but SPF 30.

So sorry Alicia, you did not start the no makeup trend. It was Moi!

And I also think I should get credit for the #NaturalBride movement!

Here’s why…

At my then hair salon five or so years ago, a pretty young blonde girl walked in with her mother for a bridal makeup trial. I can still vividly recall that her youthful face was perfection. Her clear, bright skin was dewy and unwrinkled. She had piercing blue eyes and naturally pink lips.  Gorgeous!

The three of us left the salon at the same time. I hated my hair, and there was no denying from her body language, Miss Bride-To-Be hated her makeup.

She looked older, and her face was laminated with a combo of foundation and blush. Her eyes were darkly lined and thickly mascaraed, their cerulean color barely discernible. And her ruby red lip corners turned down in sadness.

For whatever reason, she asked for my opinion. Her fretting mother looked miserable.

“What do you think?” I asked the once fresh-faced, soon to be bride back at her.

“I feel clownish and way too done-up,” she whimpered. “I barely recognize myself.”

Pathetically, she looked to her mom, who in turn looked to me and asked, “What do you think?”

Now, if you know me at all, my mantra is this:

You may not like what I have to say, but you’ll always know where I stand. So, if you don’t want to know what I think, don’t ask.   

They both asked, so I went in for the kill.

“When you first walked in, you were beautiful, fresh, and natural. Now? Not so much.”

I looked from daughter to mother, and no one was crying, so I plowed on.

“Why not go for a touch of mascara, a tint of blush, some lip gloss, and be done?”

Mother and daughter looked at me like I created a miracle, collectively shouting “YES!” and then gave me a too long and too hefty of a hug.

Awkward!

But I bet she made a beautiful bride.

#TeriStartedIt

Self-Publishing Tips

Self-publishing is often the best, and sometimes the only way for writers to get their works into print.

Self-publishing is challenging, but the concept that all self-published books are subpar is untrue, and more and more writers are choosing to take publishing matters into their own hands.

The old adage that traditional publishing is the only way to make a living as a writer is also untrue.

Self-publishing, once considered a low-end publishing option, offers authors publication speed, complete control, full rights, and no excess inventory.

Self-publishing is the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry, but be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort getting the word out about your book.

As an example, Fifty Shades of Grey was originally self-published, and E.L. James is now considered one the wealthiest authors in the world.

In addition to E.L. James, here is a short list of famous self-publishing authors:

Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn
John Grisham: A Time to Kill
Richard Bolles: What Color Is Your Parachute?
Ron Hubbard: Dianetics
Irma Rombauer: The Joy of Cooking
Richard Nixon: Real Peace
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy

This is just a small sampling of self-published writers whose works have sold millions of copies. And some of them are still self-publishing and still making a ton of money with their self-published books.

Despite what the traditional publishing conglomerates would like you to believe, readers like what they like, and read what moves them. They could care less if a book is self-published or not.

I receive hundreds of emails asking me the same self-publishing questions over and over. The bottom line is that they are looking for the top tips or the top rules.

But there really are no set rules, and no wrong or right way to self-publish. It’s all up to preference and how much money you want to spend.

And I’m not claiming to know everything about self-publishing.

This article is but a small sampling of what I have learned along the self-publishing way. If anyone has anything to add to this list, please comment at the end of this article.

Once your book has been written and before you sign up with a self-publisher go to https://www.copyright.gov/ and copyright your work.  And make sure to include a copyright page in your book.

Every good self-publishing company will offer you a free editing assessment, so before making a final decision, ask to see what editing changes they would make to a couple of your chapters.

First things first—you will want a non-exclusive contract. Paperback books are less expensive to produce than a hard cover version, and black and white is less than color.

One on one customer service is crucial. And you can negotiate editing services as part of your package, but make sure their editors are competent.

Make sure all distribution of paperback/hard cover and eBooks are in your name, and your name only.

Make sure you purchase a package that offers worldwide distribution for paperback/hardcover and eBooks.

Approximately 60% of all eBooks are sold through Amazon and distributed through Kindle which is marketed by Amazon. If you want wider eBook distribution, like Nook, you may have to pay extra.

Try to get your eBook on as many eReading devices as possible. In addition to Amazon, some distribution examples are Google Play, iTunes, Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo Books, and Smashwords.

An average cost for a quality self-publishing package can range anywhere from $1,000 to $1,600.

There are of course more expensive packages, but unless you are using a ton of four-color inside pages, you shouldn’t need to spend more than that.

Book distributors traditionally get 55% of the retail price of the book, out of which they pay 40% to the bookseller.

You will want to back into the retail price of your book based on how much it will cost to print.

So for example, if it costs $3 to print your book, you may want to put a price point on it of $12.

Then, 55% of the $12 price point or $6.60 would go to the distributor. So, $12 (retail price) less $6.60 (distributor) less $3 (printing) leaves $2.40 in royalties.

Pay close attention to royalties in self-publishing packages.

In my case, I use Breezeway Books and receive ALL royalties.

Some self-publishing packages require a royalty percent, but I wouldn’t personally sign up with a company that does.

And make sure your package includes: ISBN Assignment, Library of Congress Control Number, and EAN/Barcode.

Make sure the font size in your book is large enough. I would recommend that you choose your type size and font yourself, so you know and like what you are getting.

And you should get at least ten paperback/hard cover copies of your finished product.

Your book design is also a key component of your self-publishing package. You will need a paperback/hard cover format, eBook format and custom interior formatting, and a custom cover design.

You should be able to see two design versions of your cover, including the back cover and then pick the one you like best.

Make sure you can print your book at a wholesale publisher cost and that you receive at least one physical proof copy.

I like to see digital proofs at each stage, but that’s me.

If you decide to go the self-publishing route be prepared to do a ton of marketing because obvi no one else is going to do it for you. See my blog post re: marketing tips.

Good luck and happy writing!

 

The Mass Shooting Generation

My generation was labeled the Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Next up: Generation X (1965-1979).

Then along came the Xennials (1975-1985).

And then Generation Y (1980-1994).

Followed by the iGen/Gen Z Generation: 1995 -2012. But their generation label and many of their lives were cut short.

Now they are sadly known as the Mass Shooting Generation.

On April 20, 1999, America was reshaped by the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Two seniors murdered 12 students, one teacher, and wounded more than 20 others.  Then they both committed suicide.

On March 5, 2001, a freshman at Santana High School in Santee, California killed two and wounded 13. He is serving a sentence of 50 to life.

March 21, 2005, a 16-year-old shot his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend. Then he made his way to his former school, Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Michigan and shot and killed seven students and wounded five others. Then he committed suicide.

In October 2006, a thirty-two-year-old barricaded himself in West Nickel Mines School, a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He tied up 10 young girls before he started shooting. He shot eight out of the ten girls (aged 6-13) killing five. Then he took his own life.

On April 16, 2007,  a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia murdered 32 students and teachers. The killing spree ended when he killed himself.

On February 14, 2008, a former grad student from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois popped out from behind a curtain in an auditorium and opened fire on an oceanography class and killed six people. Then he killed himself.

On April 2, 2012, a 43-year-old former student at Oikos University in Oakland, California fired on a classroom at the Christian school and killed seven people. He was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old former student at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut killed his mother then burst into Sandy Hook where he murdered 20 students (6-7 years old) and six teachers before committing suicide.

On June 7, 2013, a 23-year-old opened fire at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California killing five people and injuring four. The shooting spree ended when police shot and killed him.

On May 2014, a 22-year-old who had posted a murderous warning on YouTube promising to exact vengeance on sorority women who scorned him killed six and injured 13 at University of California, Santa Barbara in Isla Vista, California. The violence ended when he shot and killed himself.

On Oct. 24, 2014, a 15-year-old student from Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington shot five of his classmates, killing four of them. Then he killed himself.

On October 1, 2015, a 26-year-old opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, killing 10 people and wounding 7. The gunman died in an exchange of gunfire with police officers.

On February 14, 2018, a 19-year-old former student at  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, In Parkland, Florida murdered 14 students, 3 teachers and injured more than a dozen others. He was arrested and faces the death penalty.

Colorado, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, Florida.

According to EveryTown, there have been 17 school shootings in 2018 alone, and 290 since 2013, shortly after Sandy Hook.

High School seniors can’t remember a time when they didn’t know about school shootings.

Middle School students regularly practice code red drills.

The Mass Shooting Generation practice active shooter drills and huddle through lockdowns.

This is the way of life for the Mass Shooting Generation.

This generation is almost grown up. And the’re fed up.

With tears, passion, and fury, students issued a defiant and anguished message to Republican politicians:

The Mass Shooting Generation have been politically awakened, and their lives are forever altered by mass school shootings. They demand change. And they won’t stop until they get it.

Welcome to the revolution.

Watching the March For Our Lives on television brought me back to a poem and song by Gil Scott-Heron recorded in 1970 titled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” He recited the lyrics accompanied only by congas and bongo drums. I still recall the mantra: The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised. The revolution will be live.

The Mass Shooting Generation is nearing voting age. They are getting ready for the midterm elections in November. They are registering to vote. They are helping others to register.  They are engaged, they are angry, and they want to be heard.

And Republican politicians ignore them at their peril and political demise.

They aren’t going to be satisfied with the March 24th March For Our Lives moment.

They are determined to turn the the moment into a movement. In this case, the revolution is both televised and live.

The NRA has money. But our young Americans want to live.  Life Trumps guns.

Will the Mass Shooting Generation be the ones who take down the gun lobby?

Stay tuned for November midterms 2018.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron
You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip
Skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruption
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell
General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
Hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary

The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and
will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
Thinner, because The revolution will not be televised, Brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mays
Pushing that cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not predict the winner at 8:32or the count from 29 districts

The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers in the instant replay
There will be no pictures of young being
Run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of
Roy Wilkens strolling through Watts in a red, black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the right occasion
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and
Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant
and Women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day

The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock News
and no pictures of hairy armed women Liberationists and
Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, Francis Scott Key
nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash
Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth

The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a whitetornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a germ on your Bedroom
a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that cause bad breath
The revolution WILL put you in the driver’s seat
The revolution will not be televised

WILL not be televised, WILL NOT BE TELEVISED

The revolution will be no re-run brothers

The revolution will be live