Sure, I like clean lines.

Simple is in. I get it.

Minimalism rules; frou-frou drools. I know.

And particularly in my realtor world, I get, appreciate, encourage the style. It works. No question.

But maybe, it’s just not in my soul.

My oldest millennial— er, oldest daughter, that is— is as simple as they come. And since I’m not, it’s just one of the zillion ways we differ. She’s grey and white; I’m color palooza. She’s classic and understated; I’m more is more.

I brought her up in a world where nothing is safe from embellishment and she’s been rebelling since I hot-glued pom-poms to the lid of her toy box.

And yes, I’m pretty sure her categorical yin is because of my unmitigated yang.

Now she’s living the hip life in a cool new town with a killer job in an uber contempo highrise. Though she’s only home a few days a year, she’s not shy to point out the incompatible zen of her childhood room.

“I want my room to be grey, Mom.”

“You mean the room that you only live in a handful of days a year? What about the kiwi green, whitewashed-striped walls with the adorable swiss dot outline I painted? And grey walls won’t go with the ocean blue accents like the reversable floral and striped duvet I lovingly sewed, or the plaid and color block curtains with matching drapery rings. Wouldn’t you miss looking up at the display of your swim trophies on the shelves Dad made when you come home?”

She agreed to my terms: Do whatever you want as long as you complete and clean up everything before going back to Chi-town. And she followed through with Part 2 of the rules expected to dissuade: Haul everything you no longer want to Goodwill before you go.

She left me with a lovely grey room, a plain white duvet on the bed, a clear-of-all-clutter dresser and desk, and empty walls. I agreed to finish it off keeping mindful of her zen and spartan sophistication.

Literally found. It was in someone’s trash pile at the street along with a little black chest that’s now my new bedside table. Frou-frou? Perhaps, but lavender is such a nice complement to grey, don’t you think? Then, I brought out the mirror I’d pulled from her trunk before she left for Goodwill. I covered the ocean blue paint with enamel white and hung it back on her wall.

Then I took the old bedside table from my room with the cracked glass top and painted a perfectly-sized wooden charger to replace the glass. I moved that to our den.

Not ready to stop, I took the old bedside table from Jill’s room that had a circus of etched drinking glass rings on the wooden top. I covered it with some wallpaper I found in my craft closet, aged the stark white background, painted the table’s curvy piecrust edges, added a coat of poly and exchanged it for another table in our den.

I appreciate clean lines, I really do. But it’s the whirly and wiggly ones that get my motor running. I’ll bask in the clean-lined zen when I visit Jill at her uber contempto highrise. And she can relax and appreciate her cool-cat style when she returns from visits here in the land of the embellished.

I think it’s a win-win.

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Marie Kondo is right. (And other things I learned this weekend.)

  1. My husband, who claims to be good at a cocktail party because he knows about five minutes of every subject, has never heard of Marie Kondo. Where, oh where, dear man…
  2. Joy is relative. Adjust with “tolerate” if you just can’t pull joyous emotion from the five-year-old pants you wear twice a week. Then just hang them back up.
  3. Always clean your closet BEFORE you blame the drycleaner.
  4. American Express should tag my account: “Make the lady clean out old purses before processing stolen card claim.”
  5. Dust bunnies are real. One hopped from the floor to the closet shelf I had just cleaned when I turned my back.
  6. Four-inch heels haven’t worked for years. Just say no and goodbye.

I found a leak, I found a memory.

I’ve never journaled the traditional way, but I’m having fun with blogging, and my 16-year stint as a newspaper columnist provides a personal history log as I look back on my weekly musings. Fact is, of all the great reasons for journaling, one of the most satisfying is the opportunity to relive the precious moments that become lost as you move from one stage of life to another.

I got a kick out of this memory penned in the Dunwoody Crier back on October 3, 2001 and it’s one I included in my first book, “You’ve Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha,” a compilation of some of my favorite columns. Probably would never have remembered this had it not been written down, but this one is about my daughter Jackie when she was 9, and ironically, it’s about journaling!

(The Crier 10/03/01) I found a leak.If you make the effort to protect your personal identity and private information by shredding confidential papers and cutting up credit cards and then spreading the pieces between 12 different trash cans, allow me to offer this important advice: Check your child’s school journal.

It’s an exercise in creative, freestyle writing that most teachers have students do every morning to loosen the imagination and ready the brain for learning. It’s free-thought journal writing and I’m all for that kind of thing. At least I thought I was. Then I went to Parents’ Night and was invited to sit at my child’s desk and browse through her desk and journal. 

There in rigid cursive and number 2 pencil, was a full account of the morning I’d woken after a fitful night full of bad dreams that a shark was eating my purse. 

The morning I mistook the coriander for cinnamon and served it on toast? In there. 

Her older sister’s double-top-secret locker combination? In there, too.

A panoramic description of our front porch after the cat wrestled with and then left us a couple of sweet gifts? Right there in the school journal. 

Jackie Florence, the leaker.

I turned the page only to find a detailed chronicle of the day she was late for school because I had Clairol shade number 3488690 on my hair and had to wait to rinse. That could be found right above the exact words that came out of my mouth when some guy pulled out in front of me as I later took her to school — driving over the speed limit and with a towel wrapped around my head. 

After seeing the panic in the eyes of some of the parents as they read through these journals, the teacher assured us that she’d only believe half of what she heard about us, if we believed only half of what we heard from our kids about her. 

I suppose that means Mrs. Shepherd had some help when she hung the moon.

I was lucky that my 16 years of writing weekly columns for the Dunwoody Crier coincided with the growing-up years of our two daughters. While I started the column when Jill and Jackie were 6 and 8, the title story, “You’ve Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha” comes from a time near the end of that run and is about becoming an empty nester. It’s available via Amazon.

P.S. Help me grow my blog! Follow by clicking the follow button and share when you see one you like! Mucho thanks. K

I’m not gonna bite this time.

I grooved on the whole brussel sprouts thing.

Boiled or steamed ones are hideous and I was not overreacting when I gagged, wretched and feigned death into my cloth napkin at my grandmother’s dining table, but once I learned to cut them up, roast and marry them with some fennel or cabbage, and season with tiny chips of bacon and olive oil, I was all in.

I did a 180 on olives, which I thought I hated for five decades. Turns out I love them. And not just in martinis.

I celebrated radishes a few years back when they became groovy again. Duh-uhh for gourmet burgers, avacado toast, mocktails and cronuts, but I now eat kale, beets and hummus, and simply adore good sushi.

I’m drawing the line at cottage cheese though.

Apparently it’s making a come-back and I’m not budging. I was six the last time I tried it and I’m holding fast to the never-again commitment I made that day.

Sometimes you’ve just got to stick to your convictions. I’m a hard NO on gummies, artificially-flavored strawberry things and cottage cheese. It’s all I’ve got left.

How do you like them apples?

I found myself saying that to my husband this week. When was the last time I’d used that line? Maybe never. When was the last time I heard it? Possibly from one of my long-passed grandfathers, both who had a million of ’em. (insert Jimmy Durante’s cigar and ‘Wonk, wonk.’)

Like, “See ya in the funny papers!”

And, “You ain’t just whistling Dixie…” “Look that up in your Funk & Wagnall…” “He’s cruisin’ for a bruising.”

And “Heavens to Murgatroyd.” Who is Murgatroyd, anyway? Snagglepus seemed to know and I feel like it made sense when I watched Saturday morning cartoons, but now I’m not sure what I thought it meant.

I used the funny-paper line in my most recent novel, Three of Cups. I was no doubt channeling my own Pop when I created the grandfather character to Rachel’s portion of the story. In lieu of saying ‘goodbye,’ Rachel and her grandfather (cleverly disguised as Poppy) shared a routine of rounding their thumb and first fingers into ‘O’s, holding them up to their eyes, and peering at each other while simultaneously reciting the line.

Those who know me well know that I’ve made it a personal mission to keep ‘groovy’ in the vernacular, but I credit Tom Florence with holding down the fort with some oldies but goodies too. He shows his age (and his adorable charm IMHO) with lines like “That dog will hunt,” “Like white on rice,” “Seven ways to Sunday,” and “High as a cat’s back.”

Whenever we asked my dad where he was going, his favorite line was, “Downtown to buy Wheaties.” He loved Wheaties, and I loved it when he said that.

He also had a regular response to every gift he ever received—whether a pair of socks or the  surprise can of Barbasol he received from my sister Vicki for every occasion: “Well, I’ll be the grandest tiger in the jungle!” I loved that too.

Full disclosure: When I said to Tom, “How do you like them apples,” I actually said “potatoes” at first and then corrected myself. I’m not sure if he noticed. I’m not sure if he was listening.

But, time to move on…

See you cats in the sandbox!

Jeopardy fan (except for the punctuation).

The Oxford comma debate is a juicy one, but one I prefer to back away from. As a trained journalist, I’m happy to stand with my peeps and just say “no,” but I also recognize that it’s sometimes needed for clarity and in those cases, I’m not against dropping the curly punctuation mark behind the second to last of a serial list and moving on.

Am I a wimp for not caring deeper? Perhaps, as I understand it’s even a compatability category on Tinder. After all, how could an Oxford comma aficionado possibly match with a journalistic hold-out in the game of love (or friendly benefits, if that’s what you’re in to?) Fortunately for me, I’m positive Tom Florence has no opinion at all about its necessity in this world, likely doesn’t even know what the Oxford comma is, and would think I’m insane if he knew I was using up gray matter to blog about it. (See what I did there? I usually do add one in for long, wordy and drawn-out sentences. And hence no comma after wordy… Am I getting too wordy, by the way?)

I take issue with Jeopardy however.TswiftJeopardy

Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks. It’s a very simple and basic rule, and yes, Brits make some exceptions, but in the USofA, commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks.

“The end,” she said.

So why does Jeopardy do it wrong?

I’m certain they’ve heard the complaints. It sticks in my craw every time I see it. It should be 2009’s BEST FEMALE COUNTRY VOCAL WENT TO HER FOR “WHITE HORSE,” WHERE… (and no real need to be catty with the rest, Jeop writers.)

Is anyone else out there bugged by this? Please don’t suggest I just let it go because it’s been stewing for as long as I’ve been watching Jeopardy, and I’m pretty sure I still had braces then.

Instead, just let me know if it also bugs you. And if it doesn’t, what does? Where do you stand on the Oxford comma debate? Who has it right about quotation mark placement— the British or the Americans? Does TSwift rock? Should grammar nerds seek love on Tinder?

Girlfriends of the Monkees.

We played it for weekends at a time. Quite possibly one entire summer.

I was Davy’s girlfriend, and God knows why, my girlfriend name was “Dolly.” We packed suitcases for the concert tours, warded off crazy backstage fans, went on dates in planes and trains and fancy cars, and surfed on a plank between two chairs in my bedroom while our famous, visible-only-to-true believers, boyfriends surfed behind us.

Of course, Davy was a good pick, arguably the cutest, the most popular and got the most vocals, but the real truth? My friend Melinda picked first.

thHad she not called Peter Tork before I had the chance, I would have picked Peter. He was taller, a little goofier and had a dimple that looked a lot like mine. I never told Melinda, but I thought we were a better match. Plus, though we were only 12 or 13, but I already had a good four inches on Melinda, so it would have been a simple, natural, sensible trade.

Davy’s gone. Now Peter. Oh, I could hide ‘neath the wings, Of the bluebird as she sings, The six-o’clock alarm would never ring.

Thanks for the memories, adorable Peter Tork. And for the goofy Saturday morning ventures, singable lyrics and songs that sounded especially spectacular when singing into the industrial-sized propeller fan in Melinda’s basement. And give Davy my regards. He’ll probably remember me by my frosted pink Max Factor lipstick “borrowed” from my mother and my Heaven Sent cologne.

Feeling my way around the author world.

For those of you who have attended my A Novel Idea event, you know this: There are a kazillion (an exaggeration, but still you’d be surprised) number of local authors out there. I book six authors each month to talk for 10 minutes each about their published books at Crema, a Dunwoody coffee shop, and I could double that with the number of requests I have to participate.

For me, it’s a way to integrate myself into the author world; meet others like me; share tips and ideas; and feel, for a moment, like an on-the-cusp-of-famous author.

Truth is, we are all looking for the same thing: a means to share our stories and find readers for our work. For the past few years, it’s been my goal is to take a class and attend one writer’s retreat every year, and it always turns out to be some of my favorite days each year.

ReunionofSaintsfrontonlyI’m in the thinking mode for Novel No. 3; working title: Reunion of Saints. I’ve written about 14,000 words (a novel is usually around 80,000+) and I have a good start and a good outline, but I haven’t yet hit that surge where I can’t stop telling my story. Stupidly, and against all good-use-of-time logic, I’ve even designed a cover idea. It’s the story of four girls who meet at a fictional Catholic college in Georgia in the early ’80s. They solidify their friendship freshman year while on a rafting trip on the Chattooga River with a UGA fraternity.

Their friendship remains solid and though they all go their separate ways, they stay close over the years via Round Robin letters they share. Twenty years later, they come together for a week-long reunion and take a second rafting trip down the Chattooga. This trip, though, is much different from the first.

BTW, the next A Novel Idea is scheduled Tuesday, March 5, which happens to also be Fat Tuesday. Let me know if you need more details. It’s free and fun.


Parameciums, hypotenuses and the aftermath.

What’s your favorite word?

I like serendipity, hootenanny and ubiquitous. I think rainforest is cool. And I can totally groove on groovy.

I dont’ like phlegm, mucus, aftermath or stool. And as far as products go, just hearing the words Kaopactate and Quarter Pounder sends me retching.

UnknownParameciums and hypotenuse are two words I distinctly remember branding into my brain when I was in high school. Not just because they were fun to say, but because I learned what they were and knew I’d never forget. I didn’t, but I can’t recall either has ever come in handy in conversation since. In fact, parameciums aren’t even what they were then. We were taught that they were the smallest single-cell organisms on earth, and since that time I think scientists have found about 40 billion smaller things. I still like hypotenuse, though. If I ever get a goldfish, I might name it Hypotenuse.

Some people don’t like moist. I can live with that one, though if I think about it too hard, it takes me back to a nasty-ass hotel room I stayed in once.

Ass is another word I kind of like. Mostly used like above. It’s a good suffix to words like crazy- and silly- and big-, as in “That’s a big-ass cupcake.”

Aftermath is without question my least favorite.  It never describes anything but terror or destruction. By definition, I suppose it could be used to describe what happens after something good, i.e., the aftermath of the sunshine and spring rainfall brought out the tulips, but I’ve never heard it used that way.

What’s your favorite and least favorite words?

Sneak peek at my Valentine to you.

VDaymemeBe the first to know… I’m offering a free download for “Three of Cups” on Thursday!

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I have some random thoughts:

Once—I think it was Mrs. Sanders’ 4th grade—we had a substitute teacher the week of Valentine’s Day. We’d all brought in empty Kleenex boxes so that we could decorate our Valentine’s mailboxes, and on the day of decoration, we had the sub.

I covered my box with pink construction paper and the substititute teacher thought that was dumb. She pretty much said so.

“Red is for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “Not pink.”

I didn’t try to come up with a reply, because I thought she was kidding. Pink is the closest color to red. It’s a desaturated version. Pink is a tint of red, vs. maroon or burgandy, which is a shade. Add white=tint. Add black=shade. I wanted pink construction paper to backdrop my Valentine’s box that I added hearts cut with Mrs. Sanders’ pinking shears and paper doilies edging out the opening to. I thought it was fabulous.

She wasn’t kidding though. She really thought that my design was dumb. So dumb that she felt it necessary to tell a 4th grader so. I don’t know why I remember that, but I do.

I remember something else too.

My friend Debbie had a boyfriend named Jeff. He gave her a box of candy conversation hearts for Valentine’s Day and she shared them with me on the bus. They tasted terrible. We figured out— and the next day he confirmed— that he’d sprayed the box of candy (no Cellophane, by the way. It was a long time ago.) with his mother’s perfume. Chanel No. 5, I think. We could taste it.

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