April 1, 2023


regrets, hindsight, insight
                                                                                                                                          Photo: Gabrielle Henderson 


I don't always make good decisions.  And as a result, I end up having regret.  

To illustrate, last month I entered one of my manuscripts in a pitch party.  Minutes after submitting it, I knew I screwed up.  The text could have been stronger and it did not reflect my best work.  

I sulked over the manuscript for days because this submission opportunity only happens once a year.  Talk about feeling down.  And stupid.  A chance to have a select group of picture book agents request my work—gone.

When I looked back at this misfortunate circumstance, it became apparent to me that a lingering migraine had altered my reasoning.  Being foggy-brained is an effect of having a migraine.  But since I was pain-free, I hadn't realized that making good decisions was impaired.  If I had been thinking clearly, there would have been no way I would've submitted this version.  My migraine brain deceived me into thinking the manuscript was in good shape.  And I made a bad choice. 

Now, it's water under the bridge (or the toothpaste is outta of the tube, as my husband would say) and now I know (most likely) that a silent migraine served me a heaping helping of regret.    

Feeling miserable, I turned to the internet to find articles on remorse and regret.  I found a helpful post written by Gila Gam titled Reframing Regret: from Hindsight to Insight 

Since I can't do this piece justice by rephrasing, I quote Gila: 

"Beating yourself up about the things that went wrong, doesn’t help things go right. Don’t regret anything that has taught you valuable and worthwhile lessons. Replace regret with reflect. To reflect is to try and understand what your regrets are trying to tell you. It means looking for insights in order to draw lessons from the experience. The goal of reflection is to move away from regret to make better decisions and take action toward better future outcomes. 

"Remember: life is meant for exploring and experimentation. You are likely to fail many times, but    
“nothing ventured, nothing gained.” When you accept that risks must be taken and setbacks must be   
experienced in order to achieve anything meaningful, then you recognize the futility of regret because there’s a valuable lesson in everything you do. Your life’s lessons allow you to grow. The biggest risk is not to take any risks, and the greatest regret is an unfulfilled life, or a life not lived fully. 

"As you reflect upon your wins and losses, accept the whole package and seek the lessons to apply in the future. Take intentional action to keep doing the things that really matter to you. Be open to change and new opportunities along the self-actualization journey. And most importantly, once you reach success, don’t linger in the comfort zone for too long. Celebrate your accomplishments but beware of resting on your laurels. Move on to something new and continue to be relevant and have impact.

"Life is made up of a series of changes, choices, and consequences. The choices you make today will make sense in retrospect with time and reflection. The road is windy and slippery. Embrace the wobble. Keep walking and trust you will figure out your own way. So, turn the insights into foresight."

Turn insights into foresight.  That's perfect, isn't it? 

For me, that would mean paying closer attention to the effects of a migraine:  recognizing mental clarity can be lacking after an attack and then refraining from making important decisions until the headache symptoms have subsided.  But even if I'm aware, there are other ways to f*ck-up a submission: typos in a manuscript, misunderstanding the submission guidelines, or misspelling an agent's name.  So, to lessen regret, I try to turn the negative feelings into positive feelings by visualizing mistakes as stepping stones that will lead me closer to my goals. 

This wonderful submission opportunity seemed to be the chance of a lifetime and it hurts that I messed up.  But there's always next year.  Until then, I will keep going.  I will remember this situation for a long time, but without regret.  It happened for many reasons:  To learn and to improve.  To understand my limitations.  To revel in my tenacity.  I will keep moving forward along those stepping stones.  And if things backfire or don't go as smoothly as hoped, I will reflect.  I forge on to make things better next time.

À la prochaine!  

February 27, 2023

stray cats, loving cats, caring for cats


I love a sweet stray named Putty.

He's at least ten-years-old.  Putty first appeared on our deck in 2013, when we had Ollie, our first cat.  Putty has outlived Ollie. 

And he still comes around.  Who knows why?  Maybe he likes the kibbles I feed him.  Or the warm yurt he can enjoy in cold weather.  Could it be he feels the love at the Mrvos residence? 

When I first met Putty, he was leery of me.  He'd only approach the food dish after I had closed the door.  But in time, he became more trusting.  Now, he'll come when I call his name.  He'll let me rub his coat, pat his head, and smooth his tail.  

It's surprising he's in rather good health.  He navigates the steps to our deck with ease and he can leap up to the railing to lap water from the bird bath (which I keep exceptionally clean). Occasionally, he'll have a nick or a scrape that heals on its own.  One time however, he had a bloody abscess that required urgent attention.  Luckily for Putty, I was able to find a veterinarian who came to our house to treat him. 

My sweet stray shows few signs of slowing down.  Just more gray hair in the black spots of his coat.

Sometimes, Putty will disappear for days and I'll worry if he had gotten into a fight, if a coyote had found him, or if he had been mistreated cruelly by someone.   

A few years ago, an aggressive stray had roamed into our yard and the two of them got into a fight.  Afterwards, Putty stayed away for nearly six months.  With the intention of luring Putty back to our house, I trapped the tomcat, had him neutered, and returned him to our neighborhood further down the street.  Putty must have sensed our place felt safer and he eventually came back to our house.       

Most of the time, Putty stays close by, either on our deck where it's sunny or on the patio for the shade.  But being a stray, he likes to roam and now that he's older, I fear he will never come back.  

Because he disappears from time to time, I try not to take him for granted—no matter how often he parks himself on the deck, presses his face against the door, and begs for food.  Just like my cats Lizzie and Ozzie, Putty will not go hungry.  

There is something calming about Putty's presence.  He brings me joy even though at times, Putty can be a rascal.  He's been known to be a menace to neighbor's cats.  He'll claim front porches or driveways as his own.  I try to remind others, he's one of God's creatures, so be nice to him.  He has lived his entire life outside facing other strays, dogs, possums, raccoons and coyotes, and all kinds of weather.  He deserves to be treated well.  He deserves kindness.  My sweet stray Putty deserves an abundance of love.    

À la prochaine! 

February 1, 2023

house number, personal expression, neighborhoods, safety


I'm an observant person.  It's in my nature to notice things, sometimes odd things.   

So, one summer day when I was outside for a walk, I began to scrutinize the house numbers in our neighborhood—I know, you're thinking weird.  But here me out.  I was surprised to find quite a variety.  As you can expect, many were standard and fairly common, "nothing special" as my mother-in-law would have said. Though others reflected the homeowner's personality.

Come along with me and let's have a look.  Below are photos of houses in my neighborhood.  

This house number is difficult to see.  What does this number say about the house owner's style?  


And this one near the garage door instead of by the front door?


Here's another:


And this one:



And lastly:  

                                                                          Laid back. 

The variety of house numbers gives our neighborhood a welcoming, homey vibe.  But I get the feeling that I'm one of the few that even notices them.  They are probably one of the last details anyone would think about when buying or building a home.  And yet, the International Association of Certified House Inspectors (InterNACHI) has guidelines, especially so that emergency responders can locate them.

Here's their suggestions:   

  • Be sure numbers are visible (at least 5 or 6 inches tall) when approaching from either side of the house.
  • Remember script numbers or numbers that are spelled out can be difficult to discern. 
  • Use numbers that contrast with the background.  Brass or bronze numbers are difficult to see. 
  • Trim back shrubs or trees that hide numbers.   
  • Keep flags and decorations from covering up house numbers. 

Many neighbors could give a sh*t about following the recommendations.  I'm not judging them.  It's their choice.  Some people however, understand the importance of having house numbers that can be easily found.  And some of these neighbors had gotten a little fancy.  I've noticed folks had balanced readability and creativity.  They had combined safety with flair.  They found a way to thoughtfully flaunt their style.

À la prochaine! 

January 1, 2023


Mon Coeur était brisé, heartache, no reconciliation, no communication
                                                                                                                                                                      photo by HLS-44

Vulnerability left me open to anguish and sorrow.   



All you had to do was tell me

why you kept me in the dark

and strung me along, 

while you played the field

and sowed your wild oats. 

Betrayal hid inside a drawer

where her words filled pages 

not meant for my eyes. 

You assumed ignorance would shield the truth. 

But I, too 

could keep secrets. 


All you had to do was tell me

why our bond failed.    

With a weak past 

and a troubled present, 

our future was doomed.  

It's said that blood is thicker than water. 

But it thinned out, 

seeped out,  


I alone couldn't stop the bleeding.  

The door to reconciliation closed. 

And nothing but arrogance was to blame.


All you had to do was tell me

why you had to sever ties.

Was it me?

Was it you?

Was it him?

Ours was an otherworldly love— 

one that should have never ended.  

But with shitty timing on Christmas day 

you slipped away without any explanation,

unaware of the devastation you left in your wake.  

Mon coeur était brisé. 

Now, decades fly by and still I ask why,

when all, any one of you had to do, was tell me... 

and that would have been enough. 

À la prochaine! 

December 1, 2022


Mrvos Christmas cookies, baking holiday cookies in October, eggs
                                                                                                                                             Photo: Simply Recipes


I bake holiday cookies in October.  Way before Halloween.  

People look at me as if I'm crazy, but honestly, this way I'm not rushed during the holiday season.  Getting a head start and doing one batch a week makes baking more fun for me.  

I make five holiday favorites, beginning with the easiest recipe, the chocolate crinkles.  Then, I move on to the more time-consuming recipes.  By mid-November, the Christmas baking is finished.    

I rarely have trouble making the holiday treats, but this year, I decided to add a new recipe:  Grandma's butter cookies.  I was shocked to see a pound of butter is used (that's four sticks!) so I halved the recipe.  Referring to my late mother-in-law's recipe, I noticed that the baking time was missing.  It only read to bake until brown.  Okay, most cookies take about 8 - 12 minutes to bake, so I put them in 10 minutes.  And afterward?  Pale, blah-looking cookies.

I kept them in the oven for 5 more minutes.  That ought to do it.  


I baked them an additional five minutes.  

But they never turned brown, even after 20 minutes in the oven.  I was getting frustrated.  

My husband Jim asked, "What's wrong?"

"I can't figure out why these butter cookies didn't get brown."

"Did you follow the recipe?" 

"Of course," I said indignantly.  

And then I remembered...

I had separated the yolks from the eggs and added them to the batter.  But I had forgotten to brush the cookies with the egg whites before baking. 

This was like the time I set out three eggs to come to room temperature to make a pound cake, and then forgot to add the eggs to the batter.  In my defense, I was distracted by two hungry cats and I didn't realize something had gone wrong until after the oven timer went off.  Needless to say, the finished product looked like toffee. 

I thought about the sad pound cake while staring at the failed butter cookies.  Jim told me he'd work on them.  He found a basting brush and covered the already-baked batch with egg whites and put them back into the oven.  The batch browned nicely, giving Jim another cooking story to lovingly tease me about. 

Trying to forget about the butter cookies, I turned my attention to more familiar recipes like peanut butter blossoms, bird's nest cookies, nut horns, and sugar cookies.  Since I had been making these for many years, I had no fear that they'd turn out well.  But of course, Jim taste-tested them, just to be sure.

Photo: Cookie Connection
After baking each batch, I freeze them for the holidays.  When Christmas rolls around, they will be ready to be placed in tins for our family and neighbors.  With six different kinds, there will be plenty of variety for everyone. 

Sometimes, I get defensive when people ask why I begin baking so early.  They just don't get it.  It's what I do.  For me, October is the perfect time to start holiday baking.  Having baked two months in advance allows me more time to enjoy the holidays...

and I bet you were thinking...more time to go shopping for gifts.  

Actually, that's not the case.  As you might guess, by August, half of my shopping is done! 


To my faithful readers, thank you for reading my blog. 

Wishing you a sweet holiday season. Joyeux Noël! 

November 1, 2022

a writer takes care of an injured stray cat


Putty was injured and I didn't know how to help him.    

Nine years ago, this gravelly-voiced, black and white stray showed up on our deck begging for food.  My husband and I have been feeding him ever since.  

Over the years, I've noticed minor cuts on Putty, nothing serious.  But one day not long ago, I noticed Putty was limping.  At first, I thought he had broken his leg.  There wasn't an apparent wound, yet he could only walk on three paws.  Putty squinted.  His wounded leg quivered.  He showed little interest in food.  I could sense his pain.  Being Sunday, I had to wait a day to call my vet.  But when Monday rolled around, the veterinarian was unable to make a house call until Friday.  I didn't think Putty could wait that long. 

I called my neighbor Sherry who also feeds Putty.  She gave me the name of her vet because he makes house calls.  But when I phoned him, I got an answering machine.  Dr. MacDonald wouldn't be back in town until Wednesday.  I left him a message about Putty's condition.  My poor kitty appeared to be suffering, he was barely eating, and he would have to wait two more days for help.  

On Wednesday, I noticed a smear of blood on Putty's hip.  As he limped on our patio, I finally saw the cause of his injury.  There was bloody abscess about the size of a half dollar on his hock.  I was sick with worry.  This did not look good.  Luckily, Dr. M. returned my call.  He could come out to our house, under one condition:  I'd have to trap Putty.  

This was easier said than done.  

"Can you pick him up?" asked Dr. M. 

"Uh, no."  And in my head, I'm thinking:  Are you kidding?  This is a semi-wild cat who didn't always trust me.   

But the vet needed Putty in an enclosed area so he wouldn't run off.  I told him I'd try to trap him.  I loved Putty and was determined to get him the medical attention he needed.  

My husband and I backed our cars out the garage.  I moved bins and tubs around on shelves and blocked places where a cat could hide.  When every area of the garage looked safe, I pulled out a can of tuna.  Putty was in the backyard.  I wondered if I could tempt him with the tuna and get him to hobble over to the driveway and into the garage.  I worried how to keep him contained in the garage once he was inside.  Luckily, he did manage to follow me.  I got him as far away from the garage door as possible so he wouldn't make a run for it and motioned to my husband now, quick, close the door.

And we had him safe inside.  Dr. M. arrived in five minutes.  Finally, Putty was going to get some attention.  But when I opened basement door to the garage, Putty was nowhere in sight.  Sh*t!  I walked the perimeter of the garage.  No Putty.  I was so embarrassed.  Where was that cat?  Had he squeezed out of the corner by the garage door through an impossibly narrow opening?  I looked again on the verge of panic.  But there he was, trying to hide against the back wall of a shelf.  After coaxing him down, he moved to another corner of the garage, where the vet could work his magic.  

I was concerned Putty would not be a cooperative patient.  But Dr. M. wrapped Putty in a blanket and then in a calm voice, he told me I'd be his assistant.  My job would be to hold Putty while he prepared the injections.  I slipped on garden gloves to protect my hands, but Putty hissed at me.  The vet said the gloves were probably scaring him, so I had to help bare-handed. 

Putty's razor-sharp claws had scratched me more than once and now that he was scared, he was likely to bite.  I was terrified.  Mortified.  I really, really did not want to do this.  And there wasn't much time.  Who knew how long Putty would stay put?  I was a nervous wreck.  But I had to pull myself together.  So rather than stressing, I focused on how much I loved Putty and centered my attention on helping the vet. 

Dr. M. showed me how to grab onto the scuff and wiggle it to distract him as he inserted the needle.  Believe you me, I wiggled the hell out of the scruff.  After the antibiotic and the pain shots were given, he removed the blanket.  Putty was free to go.  With that, I opened the garage door and he limped away.  

Before Dr. M. left, he handed me an oral antibiotic that I would need to give Putty twice a day.  Good luck, I'm thinking.  If Putty was traumatized, he may never come back.  I could have scared him off for good.  My sweet little stray.  

But that night, Putty returned and he wolfed down all of his food with the antibiotic in it.  I was so relieved to see him come back the next day and get more antibiotic into his system.

Surprisingly, within a day after the injections and a day's worth of oral antibiotics, Putty looked better.  His eyes were brighter.  He could put weight on all of his paws.  

Putty still has a long way to go, but he'll get the care he needs and all of the food he craves.  Looking back, I was surprised how frightened I had been.  I was scared of being hurt and afraid of letting Putty down.  But through this experience, I found determination can conquer fear.  And anything is possible with love.

 À la prochaine! 

October 1, 2022


enabling, dependence, guilt, family problems
                                                                                                                                                                Photo: Simran Sood


I let others burden me with guilt.    

It happens because I allow it to happen.    

Back in my twenties, I was stronger.  I dated a guy who threatened to stop seeing me if we didn't become intimate (I was a virgin and we had only been dating for a few months).  I wasn't even sure he loved me, at least he never told me.  Then he had to nerve to say, and I'm not making this up, there was no guarantee that afterward he'd still date me.  Really?  That was going to convince me?  I told him to get lost.  Screw him (pun intended).  I wasn't going to let him lay a guilt trip on me.   

But I've softened over the years.  Become a pushover.  It's really not becoming.  It's not strong and it's not who I want to be.  

Having no backbone, I allow people to lay guilt trips on me, like the person I'll call Tim.  Tim volunteers to run errands for elderly members of our family.  One time, Tim notified me that he had a scheduling conflict.  Not wanting to disappoint Tim but wanting to be supportive, I filled in for him and drove 160 miles to help.  A few months later, he needed my assistance again.  I hesitated to reply.  

This time, it bothered me.  Why hadn't other options been explored?  Couldn't he have asked someone who lived closer to help out?  I needed advice.  One girlfriend basically told me to suck it up.  Wow, that surprised me—I thought she would rally behind me.  But another friend told me (and let me preference by saying she's super honest and blunt) I was being used. 

I finally realized that Tim had enabled elderly folks to become dependent on him.         

An enabler is not necessarily a negative label.  According to Healthline.com , the term “enabler” generally describes someone whose behavior allows a loved one to continue unacceptable patterns of behavior.  

Healthline.com says, "Many people who enable others don’t do so intentionally. They may not even realize what they’re doing.  Most people who enable loved ones don’t intend to cause harm.  In fact, enabling generally begins with the desire to help."  

But how did helping get so out of hand?        

I don't have an answer for that.  But I needed an answer for this troubling situation.  Fortunately, the article gave me some direction.  I learned it's okay to support the enabler, but not in ways that back the dependence.  

So, the big question is, what's going to happen if Tim has another conflict?   

In the past, I've said yes to appease and to avoid arguments.  I let myself be imposed on because I wanted to be a team player and didn't want to cause hurt feelings.  But if Tim won't consider other options, the best thing I can do for myself is to set boundaries or say no if need be.   

I'm sure my behavior will be looked upon as heartless and selfish.  But I have to stop worrying about how others will perceive me.  I want to focus on becoming stronger.  It will take practice to remain firm.  But if I want to be happy, I have to put an end to being burdened with guilt. 

À la prochaine!