Critical Thinking = Lie Detector

Last night I was blessed to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speak at Miller Auditorium as part of the Kalamazoo Reading Together book of 2017. He made me cry and laugh, and we gave him multiple standing ovations. I chose to come home before I turned into a cranky pumpkin last night and an unfun person at work today, so I do not have his signature in my book.

One of the many concepts he shared that stuck for me was about critical thinking. He said something to the effect that we need to teach our children critical thinking instead of merely to memorize facts and recall them on tests because they need to be able to identify lies. Someone who only knows the answers to fill in a test might not be able to hear the subtle nuances that identify truth from fiction.

I believe I was taught both, but sometimes my lie detector is broken. Other times, I cannot keep the memories or critical thinking skills in my head long enough to use them on a test. Or is it just that when the word “test” is spoken or at the top of a page, I suddenly feel like I’m in a frozen tundra and ice demons are tormenting me?

In all seriousness, it is vital that we be able to identify fact from fiction. It can save us time, energy, and heartache.

Moral of the Story: Critical thinking is a skill that will pay off for a lifetime. Memorization skills fade as we age (at least for me).


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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


From Common to Amazing

“When you list the places Christ lived, draw a circle around the town named Nazareth – a single-camel map dot on the edge of boredom. For thirty of his thirty-three years, Jesus lived a common life.”
Then some other text, and finishing up with this: “The town may have been common, but his attention to it was not.”These are a quotes from a Max Lucado book.
Wow! I love that imagery of a one-camel town and wish I could write that way. It made me laugh, and then to think about people who come from common places.
My heros, such as, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mrs. Echols (best teacher ever), Grandma Ewert, and my Dad … they all had common starts to life, but they live (or lived) in such a way as to leave a path of peace, kindness, and wisdom in their wake. They made shining moments in history that left this world a better place than when they arrived.
Moral of this story: Most of us come from common beginnings, and we can All be amazing to someone in this world. Start with kindness and see where you go.
Dad by his old Chevrolet truck with a bumper sticker saying, Only Love Beats Milk
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Uncategorized



February 8, 2017 – I saw a little birdie today. It wasn’t pretty, didn’t have feathers, and was attached to one unable to drive his car with dignity.

I was in a 35 mile per hour area, and I got behind a guy going about 17 miles per hour – half of the posted limit. I did not honk. I did not race around him and burn rubber. I did not call out obscenities. I did not shake my hands in anger or give him any rude gestures. After waiting for a safe clearing to pass him, I was looking as I started to come up next to his car to see if he was suffering from a medical condition, such as a stroke or seizure.

Turns out, he was suffering from a very common medical condition – angry dude in a car. I thought I saw from the side of his car that he was flying a birdie at me – right on the glass of the car window. I slowed down so I could see better. Yep, a single finger up and flipping me off with a scowl on his pasty face.

What did I do in return? I gave him 3 fingers, and then 5 fingers. His expression and finger didn’t change, so as I began to move ahead of him (as the many cars suddenly behind me were delighted to see), I did it again – giving him first 3 and then 5 fingers. Why? The speed limit was 35. I’m not sure he could understand that, since he had no reason to be angry with me to begin with and we’d passed at least one such sign already.


A few years ago, I was on a semi-country road with the posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Normally, people are behind me pushing me to pick up the pace while I’m going 50 or illegally passing me, but on this particular day, I was behind the slow guy. At first he was only going 40, but by the last half mile, he was barely doing 15 miles per hour. This entire time, we were in a no passing zone. I didn’t pass for a second reason: fear this person was encountering a medical condition.

During this time, I did not shake my hands in angry gestures, honk my horn, or cuss him out. I got my phone out in case I needed to call 911 for help.

Yet, when we neared the next intersection, he slowed further to stop at the stop sign and even turned on his right turn signal. I was going straight and was next to the slow car. I looked over to see if the driver was even able to sit up or in need of help … and it was an old pasty guy who flipped the bird at me while clearly spitting unkind profanities my way. I could only hear mumbling through my closed windows with the audio book playing, and I’m grateful.

So, huh?

IMG_7723 Signed

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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Uncategorized



December 27, 2016:So many Christmas blessings, but the greatest of all is kindness.

Christmas Day I realized that I lost the keys to my car, work, and PO Box sometime between the church service and getting in my mom’s car. More importantly, my library card was attached! And I don’t want to learn a new number. Okay, the gym membership card too, but I only really use that when the power goes out at home and need a shower before work.

I sent e-mails and texts to people from church who might have seen them. I went back across town to church and found them quickly in the parking lot right where the car had been parked. But only a minute later, a fellow Sunnyside couple Jack and Ruth pulled up. They were going to look for my keys! They were prepared with flashlights and warm clothes.

Even though I found them myself, I’m so glad for the kindness of friends!

Moral of the story: There are people on this earth in whom the Christmas Spirit lives in each and every day of their lives.

A pine tree, outside at night, lite with blue lights and a white star on top.

Posted by on December 31, 2016 in Uncategorized


Accomplishment: Slip and Fall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was much I planned to accomplish after church today: write the Christmas letter, work on a Christmas 2016 book, and finish laundry. I started the letter, I never touched the book, and I finished half the laundry. However, I did accomplish three other things.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter putting in said laundry, I realized that it was snowing, so perhaps it was time to take out the air conditioner in my room. It’s been a nice long summer and fall, but the white flakes floating by the window led me to consider the winter season may actually be upon us. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt felt good to have that task done.

I realized with the snow, I’d better put out our outdoor Christmas decorations, since the ground won’t be pliable much longer. My dear deer is out and a few new ones too. Another item I can add to my “To Do List” that will be pre-checked off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI then put the load in the dryer, but headed out to take photos instead of putting another load in. Oops! My photo journey in the snow led to a slip and fall on the mushy snow and muddy ground. Therefore, I declared it nap time.

The funny thing about the fall was this: The instant I hit my knee on the ground, it felt EXACTLY like when I would skin my knees as a child. I was certain though that this was merely a feeling and would not be a reality when I got in the house. Especially since I was able to get up reasonably quickly and hobble to the house. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nope, when I saw my knee, I could hardly believe my eyes … total knee skinning, just like when I was six and fell on the garage floor. I can only assume it will also have wonderful shades of bruising over the next few days too. Thank goodness though that it did not lead to sciatic pain, broken bones, or my face smacking the ground (which this klutz has done before).

All in all, a productive day!


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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


Do I read 100 or not?

Someone told me I can’t possibly read 100 books per year. There are plenty of things I cannot do (or would not do), but reading books isn’t one of them. Magazines and 2016-08-27-12-22-28newspaper – no, I don’t read those much if at all. Dictionaries, thesauri, and encyclopedias – not on my reading list. As for certain genres of books – especially books in my preferred genre – ask me the content of books I’ve read, and we’ll go over it (once I recall it – names escape me, but content will come back).

I read in bed, I read in the bathroom (I have IBS, so I spend much too much time on the porcelain throne, but I manage to make the best of that time), and I listen to audio books whenever I’m in the car (try telling a visually impaired person that listening to audio books isn’t “reading” … I highly recommend “The Help” and “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” that were read by multiple readers for the different parts).

Keep in mind too that I include at least a dozen children’s books within that 100 each year – those are not only quick, but they are the truly timeless stories. My aunt Marilyn understands my love of children’s books, as she was a children’s librarian. I will buy children’s books; the rest I prefer come from the library so that I can return them and move on to the next in the series … although even I am a sucker for a book sale and book 2016-07-02-11-42-18exchanges. Yet too, when a book is difficult to read, I do better if it’s a library book so that I have a deadline to finish as inspiration.

I have a friend who works for a used book store of sorts. As an employee, she gets a free book per day! Can you imagine? There must be people who can read that much, right? Even my friend with that job cannot do that. Granted, I could if it were only children’s books – especially the cardboard ones with few or no words on each page. But then it would take away the joy of the dozen or so children’s books I do read each year. Since I read for joy, I won’t be doing that.

I usually read what I like, so it goes quickly … although too 2016-09-07-12-45-16quickly, so I have to jump into another one. I tend to read light books, not super serious or difficult (except for a few for book group as selected by my fellow readers), because reading is my escape. I escape daily so that I am guaranteed a bit of joy every single day, even if for just a page or two and the 15-minute drive to work or on the way home.

Seriously, cozy mysteries are my Fanny May Chocolates. I’ll bet the person who assumed that I do not actually read that many books in a single year could do lots of things that I cannot or will not do. I won’t be running any marathons, shooting hoops, putting on makeup or spending more the 3 minute on my hair daily, putting together 1,000 piece puzzles, cooking gourmet meals, planting and caring for a garden of any kind, celebrating a 50-year anniversary of marriage, or traveling this country or the world.

This is not a competition for others to achieve or disdain, it’s a recording for me that I am happy to share, because in sharing I find others with the same love of books. Because what I read are mostly cozy mystery series books, I need to keep track of each book so that I only check out those next on my list from the library. Otherwise, I check out a dozen books and 2016-07-22-12-52-36come home only to find I’ve read them all (seriously, my memory for names and titles is poor at best). That’s like coming home with an empty box of Fanny May Chocolates when you thought you had all of your favorites be it cream filled, caramels, nuts, or mints. Can you imagine the horror of the empty box?!?! I can, I’ve done it, and I’ve found a solution so that it doesn’t happen again: I record the books I’ve read and want to read on Good Reads ( That’s the only reason I know how many books I read per year: It’s because I record them due to lousy memory so I can continue to read books I have not previously read.

If you’d like, come read with me! I won’t be tracking how many 2016-06-15-11-01-35books you read, just seeing if we like the same types of books and hopefully we’ll make recommendations for each other. I’ll be reading for a long time to come, since my list of books to read is much longer than the list of books I have read. I’m hoping Heaven (or hell) has quite the library collection.

Moral of the Story: To each their own.

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Posted by on September 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


I Miss You … Greatly!

May 26, 2016
Dear Attention Span,
I am very sad that you chose to take a vacation day from my life. I know I don’t give thanks for you on a regular basis, but I truly do appreciate you. You keep me on track, keep me from opening eight projects and only finishing 1/2 of one, and keep me sane. Even in tonight’s Bible Study you would have been most beneficial to my ability to participate in the conversation. Today was quite unproductive without you in every way.
Please, I pray you will come back tomorrow. I welcome you in my life! I promise to show more gratitude for the sanity you bring to every aspect of my life.
Yours Truly,

Squirrel from Office Window (when I was upstairs)

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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


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