It's snowing.
And I'm annoyed.

Before the blah-blah-blah starts, I'm FULLY AWARE that I live in a state that is known for snow IN FEBRUARY. However, the recent rain and flooding had washed away much of the snow and tricked me into thinking Spring was coming. The big chunks of ice had even started melting in the water and I saw a couple of freighters sailing the seas again. A sure sign the snow and ice are going.

It's usually not a big deal. I love seasonal changes and even like snow.
To a point.
But, I'm just done.
I'm done being stuck in the house with a baby.
I'm done with boots and coats and melting snow all over my back entryway.
I'm done letting dogs out in freezing cold at 4 a.m.
(Did I mention, I'M DONE?)

It doesn't help that anytime it snows I have to listen to my Texas-born husband complain about how it was NEVER this cold where we used to live (it so was, he's just getting old and can't remember.)(OK, so what's a 20 degree difference some days?) The last time he complained about the cold I said, "HEY! We live here now, ZIP IT! I don't want to hear it anymore."

To make it worse? Pre-baby and pre-budgetary constraints, this is the time of year when Todd and I would hightail it outta here. Riiiiiight about now we'd be sipping yummy umbrella drinks. Perhaps here or here.

I'm blaming my recent downward spiral of snow-hating on reality television - Survivor in Brazil. I don't usually watch it, but I caught the first episode while folding laundry in my bedroom. (BECAUSE WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO AT NIGHT WHEN IT'S SNOWING?) I found myself thinking, "A 4-hour trek in the heat lugging loads of water and supplies doesn't sound THAT bad!"

Now THAT is messed up.
It's definitely cabin fever.


Since Ella's birth I've been really freaky about feeding her organic food. I have to admit, pre-Ella I didn't give a whole lot of thought and understanding to buying organic. Sure I had bought organic before. Sure I had shopped at Farmer's Markets. But I didn't quite understand the significance until I started planning what I was going to put into my child's mouth and body. Not only that - what effect were the things that I fed Ella today going to have on her years from now? Being an adult and making the decision to eat crappy is completely different from being responsible for someone else's health. So, we've always gone organic for Ella.

Until yesterday.

Under a writing deadline, I was in my office, iPod in, and in "the writing zone" (some of you know exactly what I'm talking about) when Todd bursts through the office door. With a loud audible sigh and much drama, I remove the earphones (writers hate to be interrupted when on a role - again, some of you know EXACTLY what I'm talkin' about).

Todd: GUESS WHAT?!?!?
ME: *sigh* What, TODD?
Todd: Ella loves mashed potatoes.
ME: Uh...huh? Wha...?!?!?
Todd: Mashed potatoes! You should see her. She's feeding herself and everything.
ME: Um...you're feeding Ella the non-organic mashed potatoes that you picked up for lunch from KFC?!?
Todd: But she loves them...
Todd: You should see her, she has her little spoon and...
ME: That's fine, Todd. It's on your head if she grows breasts prematurely at the age of 24 months next year.
Todd: *silence*

So anyway, this prompted a trip to Whole Foods - the mecca of all organic. If my baby likes mashed potatoes, then she was going to eat ORGANIC MASHED POTATOES. Even if it was 60 mile round-trip to get her a nice mix of organic food.

Sidebar: Look, I understand going to a Whole Foods might not be a big deal for most of you. However, when you live in a community that is made up of two fast food restaurants and a Kmart, road trip to Whole Foods is the highlight of your week, MAYBE your month. Not to mention that you were spoiled because you used to live a place with cool stores that you frequented OFTEN.

So we shop Whole Foods and $67 later have three bags of organic food to make for my baby (the cost of NOT having premature breasts). On the way back, Todd starts to stress about the late hour and having not prepared for his meeting (of which he has to get up at 4 a.m.). The entire Whole Foods trip all boiled down to one thing:

Todd: That's a pretty long way to go for organic food.
ME: To a store that allows you to have a glass of wine while you grocery shop? There is no limit.

Driving to Whole Foods: $25
Eating Organic: $67
The cost of not having premature breasts? Priceless

Tomorrow: I'll take organic for $1000, Alex.



Angelou's legacy: 'uplifting courage'

Times Herald (Port Huron, MI), February 14, 2009

Maya Angelou may be a writer, may be black and may be a woman, but people such as Jackie Wilson say Angelou transcends each of those distinctions.

"She is very strong in saying you need to stand up for yourself," Wilson, a writer and bookstore owner, said. "Uplifting courage, that is her legacy.

"She has the ability (with her writing) to blur the lines, to say this has nothing to do with race and sex and color, but this is just who you are."

Angelou is a writer of prose and poetry, a playwright and actor, a civil-rights activist and black woman.

She is known best for her autobiographies and poetry, for which she has won numerous awards.

"She's certainly a person who's had a tremendous impact on the literary world," said Jim Warwick, director of the St. Clair County library.

Wilson...said Angelou's writing has stretched through several generations of Americans.

She says Angelou's writing is able to do that because it is as powerful today as it was in the 1950s.

Wilson said the topics are broad and brutal: forgiveness, childhood starvation and Angelou's own childhood rape.

"I think a lot of people connect with that sort of haunting truthfulness," Wilson said. "But she also has this strange ability to be uplifting about it."

Contact Stephen Tait at (810) 989-6275 or at stait@gannett.com.



I knew I was a genius before, but who knew that my genius had no limits?!?
Get this.
I accidentally did my own micro-sociological study.

Let me give you some background:
On Facebook, there is something called FLAIR. It's an E-version of those round message buttons - you know, like "I'm with Stupid" or "Keep on Truckin'" or "I (heart) Harry Potter". On Facebook, you can send people these Flair buttons and they display on their profile. There are pre-made ones, or you can make your own (I think you see where this is going).

Often to unwind from a stressful day I will "play" on the computer late at night - a game, following up on Facebook, etc. A couple of days ago, in an attempt to unwind from a long day of writing, I made a bunch of my own Flair to send to my husband and friends. (This is what happens when you stay up too late.)

I made one for my husband AND one of our best friends that said, "NO! I do not know what happened to your keys or cell phone!"

Now, if you know anything about me or my blog, you know why I did this. Just refer to any of the previous marriage postings.

Anyway, Facebook gives you the ability to track the statistics on Flair you've made (it's kinda like a popularity contest, only without the Burn Book or worrying about who will ask you to prom). Imagine my surprise when I checked the statistics (a little over 24 hours after I made the Flair) and found this:

Stop Asking Me, I Didn't Lose It! Button
Users: 784
Daily Growth: 248%
Weekly Growth: 45200%
Overall Rank: 87,994

In hundreds of thousands of Flair on Facebook, this Flair is ranked 87,994 with 784 users (in just a little over 1 day) at the time of this posting. This says loads to me:

1. I'm a creative genius.
2. I may have missed my calling.
3. There are lots of p*ssed off wives who want their husbands to STOP ASKING WHERE THEY LEFT THEIR KEYS and/or CELL PHONE. (yes, I'm pretty confident that it's mostly wives sending this Flair to their husbands).

And that, my friends, is how you start your own experiment.

Facebook Flair: The new sociological experiment.

PS-In case you're on Facebook and want the Flair, go here on your account:
And search on "cell phone" and it will bring this flair up in that category


Dear Husband:

While I can fully appreciate your show of loyalty, can we please remove the Dallas Stars sweater (IT'S NOT A JERSEY) from the oh-so-cute-and-artsy wire mannequin in our master bathroom? Call me crazy, but I'm really not interested in an homage to hockey in my personal space.
Thank you,
Your Wife


February 8, 2009

Happy first birthday little one!

Where has the year gone? It seems like yesterday that I was sleeping with you, snuggled on the couch after an exhausting and stressful four days in the hospital. You surprised us then by coming one month early, and the surprises haven’t stopped!

The day we drove home with you was a sunny but frigid February day. We drove so slowly – me sitting in the back seat with you - so tiny - and worried that someone would hit us. I remember checking you every few minutes to see if you were still breathing (it’s something I still do to this day!). Everything seemed surreal – like I was seeing the entire world for the first time – a world of crisp lines and vibrant colors. A world of both endless potential and overwhelming amounts of danger. It was a new world just for you, and I suppose for us as parents, too.

We had a rough start, didn’t we? With all the tests and illness you were still a trooper – still a great kid with a wonderful demeanor, still are to this day. One of the worst days was when I had to hold down your little fighting arms and legs as they performed an upper GI on you to insure that you didn’t have a blockage instead of just reflux. Screaming at the top of your lungs, you looked me straight in the eye as if to say, “How can you let this be happening to me?!?” It was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced with you. I was so upset that the nurse was consoling me instead of you. It made me cry then; it still makes me cry to relive it.

I can’t imagine now what I did before you. I’ve never known this level of exhaustion, and at the same time this level of love and giving. You’re an amazing girl. I watch in equal parts awe, fascination and sadness at your increasing independence. It came so quickly, more quickly than I had prepared for it. I suppose you get that strong sense of quick independence from me – but also the temperament and impatience, too. You can be very serious and contemplative. You can also be an unbelievably happy child – easy to make squeal with delight in a simple song or play movement. You make me laugh more times in one day than I can count.

There’s no doubt you’re a daddy’s girl. You even yell for him when he’s not around. I suppose it was inevitable. He has, after all, raised two other fantastic daughters. It only makes sense that he has a third. It didn’t take long to have him wrapped around your finger – way before the 9 month- old-mark when you woke up in the middle of the night, ready to go. Daddy said, “It’s time for little girls to be asleep” and you said? “Play!” Of course you played. Who could resist that?

I think your gift is with people – you seem to touch them in ways that we’ll probably never understand. The day after you were born, the resident who helped deliver you came in to see you. He said, “My wife always asks me what people named their babies. I’ve delivered hundreds of babies and I never remember. Last night I remembered Ella.” You just connect with people. You’re intent – and intense. You listen to people. You look them in the eye as if to say, “I get what you’re saying.” Many people have already commented on those qualities about you. I hope they are qualities you never lose.

A child of our close friends asked me one day, “What do you want Ella to be when she grows up?” Without even thinking, I answered, “Happy.” That’s my wish for you – no matter the path that you take, you find happiness and fulfillment in all you do. Whatever you choose to do in life is insignificant compared to the happiness and joy you can experience and share if you allow it.

I also pray that you have a strong spiritual life and that you find a supportive and loving relationship with God. I pray every night that God will pave a strong and clear path for you to serve Him. I believe you will have many blessings to share in this life. Share them readily, and be just as quick to receive them.

Thank you for an entire year of unconditional love and forgiveness. There have been mistakes, and I’m sure there will be many more – on both our parts. My hope for us is that we always – no matter what – get past those mistakes.

Thank you for making me a better person.

I love you.


Dear Guy Sitting at the Table Behind Me:

I'm sorry I keep unplugging your computer from the outlet right by my a**. Sucks to be you. Get here earlier next time for prime seating.

Big A** Means No Electricity for You


Dear Overdressed Woman:

A black mini skirt, black tights, red fold-down suede spike-heeled boots and outfit accessorized with a red scarf and matching red flower in your hair might be wee overkill for a day of working remotely in Panera.

I'm just sayin'.
Girl in the Hoodie
Dear Public Online Video Chatter:

DUDE! Take it to your house.

Thank Goodness It Didn't Involve Nudity


Dear Military-Jet-FlyBoys:

Thank you for making my day. Please feel free to come in whenever I'm here.

Needed a Distraction from Writing About HIPAA


PUBLISHED: Wednesday, January 28, 2009, The Voice News

Creative entrepreneurs secure online customer base
Business owners work right at home

By Jeri Packer
Voice Staff Writer

As the World Wide Web continues to address consumer needs, a new window of opportunity has opened up for entrepreneurs - online businesses.

In this economy, where many conventional stores are being forced to close their doors, business owners are coming up with creative alternatives to connect with potential customers. Laurie Riehl of Algonac found a way to reach her clientele six years ago when she began an online jewelry-maker's supply store called FineDings.com.

"I'm not sure how it exploded like it did," she said, "but it's ballooned beyond my wildest dreams."
To get started, she tracked eBay sales for 20 different product items - paying attention to who was selling what and what was selling, she said. She also researched sources for inventory and made a spreadsheet to record her findings.

She started small, to keep her losses to a minimum, in case the business went belly up.
"I started out with $200 cash and eight inventory items," she said. "I thought, 'what the heck. If I end up losing the money, it's only $200.'"

Her gamble paid off.
"Everything sold, so I turned it around and added another product and slowly started growing," she said. "I had 700 customers in the first year on eBay and it's definitely growing."

She now has 4,700 mailing customers and has gone from eight to 2,100 inventory items, opening an online store through Yahoo.

Riehl advised any future online entrepreneurs to sell a product versus a service.

"More than likely, they'll have a better start," she said. "With products, customers can compare apples to apples. With service, nobody knows the quality of your work."

Riehl also said people need to be patient and keep expenses to a minimum at first, unlike a friend of hers whose business didn't make it.

"I had a friend selling gourmet salts," she said. "She did the whole thing - the logo, a business banking account - all right away. Don't do it."

Bookstore goes online
Jackie Wilson checks her online book and women's boutique businesses on her home computer.
Courtesy Photo

The small mom and pop stores seem to get hit the hardest when the economy takes a dive. Todd and Jackie Wilson closed their downtown Marine City bookstore, The Book Blues, after more than two years in the community and reopened the business online only - well, almost online only.

"We still want to maintain a community focus," Jackie Wilson said. "We plan to continue sponsoring book-signing events as well as offering free classes on topics including marketing small businesses and building Web sites. There's a huge audience for it, especially in this economy."

Wilson is no stranger to online sales, which made it easy for the East China Township couple to transition the bookstore online. For the last six years, she has operated an Internet business selling a rather unique specialty item centered on a sentimental theme.

"I have a trendy women's T-shirt boutique based on lips or a kiss," she said.

The idea started out one Christmas when she made gifts for her family, using her lips for the creative design. It was such a hit that her husband encouraged her to market the item - hence the birth of the Explosive Kiss Web store.

Wilson said there are businesses, called fulfillment companies, already in place that provide all the services needed to run an online store.

"They take care of everything," she said. "They set up the online store. They warehouse your items so you don't have to rent a warehouse, and take care of credit cards payments, even detecting fraudulent cards. It runs itself."

That frees Wilson to do what she loves best.

"I do the creative, artsy stuff," she said. "I create the product designs and the Web site that I link to the store."

Besides the lagging economy, there was another reason the owners decided to change the way they were doing business - daughter, Ella, who celebrates her first birthday next month.

"With a new baby, it made more sense for our family to close the physical retail storefront completely and go online only," she said.

Wilson also has a background in corporate education and operates a consulting business. She has some practical advice for future online entrepreneurs that began with - of all things - education.

"The biggest thing I can recommend is do the research for the industry," she said. "Great ideas are nothing if you didn't understand the business aspect. It's just not going to work out. Take a basic business class. It all might seem boring, but you have to go through all the boring stuff first. And it comes in handy later when the creative ideas run out."

Contact Jeri Packer at (586) 716-8100, ext. 302 or jeri.packer@voicenews.com.


Quick, name a John Denver song!

For MOST OF YOU, you either:
A. Could only name that Country Roads/West Virginia song after you hummed part of it, or
B. Have no idea who I'm talking about.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't thought about John Denver in probably, OH, 20 years when I used to (sadly) hang out with someone who has an unhealthy fixation on him. This friend recently found me and we hooked up on Facebook.

And he still loves John Denver. (But that's another post).
However, he joined a Facebook group about John Denver.

WHAT?!?! There are ENTIRE GROUPS about John Denver in 2009?!?! WHAT?!?!

So I did a little research. Shockingly there are 336 Facebook Groups formed on John Denver.
That's THREE HUNDRED GROUPS (thousands of people - THOUSANDS) who want to talk about John Denver.

One group alone called I Love John Denver, and I'm Not Ashamed to Admit It has 1,187 members.
(Really, people, I couldn't make this stuff up).

Here's the description:
This is a group for all of you hopeless romantics like me, who believe, despite all the criticism and cynicism of others, that JD wrote some pretty nifty songs and could sing like nobody's business. Travel down "Country Roads" with me, as I celebrate the "Sunshine on My Shoulders" and feel "Rocky Mountain High"!

I think that the group should be closed down on poor writing skills - just for using NIFTY alone - but that's just me.

I digress...

So anyway, there are some pretty interesting group titles. For example, you have to give credit to the 147-member strong I love John Denver But I'm Not Sure Why group. Admitting it is the first step.

There's also the When I drink I listen to John Denver on Vinyl group. There are 33 members there who obviously aren't willing to take ANY steps yet.

I have no earthly idea what this group is about, but apparently only 9 members wanted to find out:
Facciamo crescere i capelli a Fossa per farlo assomigliare a John Denver

Shockingly, some John Denver groups are pretty bitter (which I think is WEIRD for, you know, followers of a FOLK SINGER. What happened to PEACE? LOVE? And all that other crap?).

There's one group called John Denver could kick the ninja cowboy crap out of Chuck Norris. What is it EXACTLY that these 28 members spend their time on? Frankly, I'm a little afraid to find out.

There's a That John Denver is full of SH*T, man group. I'm not sure if this files under JD lover or JD hater? But there are 20 members that are willing to talk about how full of it he is.

Here's a group that CLEARLY is in the hater category: If John Denver wasn't dead, I would punch him in the mouth (17 violent members who are happy to announce it).

Another in your face group is the John F------ Denver Fan Club. These 29 members might be too angry to have a John Denver fan club. They should probably check with the corporate headquarters (or one of these other groups should probably turn them in). I'm POSITIVE there are qualifications for being a JD fan. Anger isn't one of them. (Try the Nine Inch Nails Group. You might fit in well there).

My personal favorite was the If You Don't Like John Denver You Can Suck It group. Not what you would expect from the seemingly-peace loving followers of a folk artist, but hey, it also sounds like a group I would join. (If it weren't for the fact that you have to spend time, er, talking about JOHN DENVER).

I would love to tell you more, but frankly I lost interest after scrolling through a couple of pages. And? I had other things to do, like clean kitty litter and stuff.

However, all of this research does beg ONE BIG QUESTION:
Why do John Denver fans have so much time on their hands?

You draw your own conclusions.


Word of the Day for Monday, February 2, 2009
chaff \chaf\, noun, verb:
1. the stiff strawlike part of grains such as wheat, oats, rye

2. to make good-natured fun of someone
3. worthless material; detritus

Dear AT&T:
Thank you for automatically debiting over $300 from my account after I terminated services on that phone number and closed the account in November 2008. Equally thanking you for admitting the ERROR; however, CREDITING the account within the next 6-8 weeks instead of immediately cutting a check or putting the money BACK into our account really isn't a resolution on a CANCELLED ACCOUNT.

You're welcome for the interest-free loan.

Thank you, too, for sending me an email bill this morning. AGAIN.


A Former AT&T Customer for a Reason


Dear Comcast:

We recently upgraded our services for more money. We greatly appreciate that once we upgraded you (for some reason) cancelled our automatic monthly payment system without our knowledge.

Imagine my surprise when I got up this morning to do email support for my college students and had no Internet access. We appreciate that you put our account on hold instead of just TAKING OUT THE MONEY THAT YOU ALREADY HAD ACCESS TO WITH OUR PRE-APPROVED PREPAID AUTO DEBIT PLAN. It's always fun working with you over customer support for something that should've been a non-issue anyway.

Thanks again for all the love.

Looking for the Candid Camera in My Life Today


Dear Small Business Person:
Before opening your small business, you may want to understand HOW to open a business and WHAT you need to do to open a business. It's really simple to find the information you need in this day and age -- it's called THE INTERNET.
(Try it sometime, you'll like it).

Thank you and GOOD LUCK.

Having a Hard Enough Time Running Her Own Businesses, Let Alone Yours, Too


Dear Wilson Dogs:
If you want to go outside and lick up all the salt ice melt, please vomit while you're outside instead of waiting for the inside of the house.

Had It Up to HERE with Animals


Dear Jackie:
If you are going to put a gift certificate you received for Christmas "away so for safekeeping", you might want to remember where that safe place is.

Your Dumb*ss Alter Ego

Addendum to the day
Dear Book Vendor:
Please explain to me why, after changing my address with you and receiving MULTIPLE shipments, this week is the week that you've decided to start using my old business address, resulting in returned customer shipments?