Are You a Dipper?

My Dad and I. Check out the cup of coffee and bread on the saucer!
My Dad and I. Check out the cup of coffee and bread on the saucer!

It was a day like any other. Picking up my mom for her weekly grocery shopping trip, I looked forward to stopping at a local coffee shop while she took her time going up and down the aisles. The shop was close by and a few moments of quiet and a good cup of coffee were calling me.

Arriving there, I glanced at the bakery offerings. Since I had no chocolate in my purse, it was going to be a cookie kind of day. The display case at the Blue Canary was filled with delicious looking biscotti. I chose a dark chocolate drizzled, chocolate biscotti with cherries.

I sat down at the table and opened up my laptop. The mouse needed new batteries. Phone, coffee, plate with biscotti, napkins, check. Phone next to me, check. Finally, I reached for the biscotti and without thinking about it, I dunked the end of it right into that cup of steaming coffee.

The first bite was amazing. So was the second. I dipped every bite into the coffee and tried to be mindful of every chew. Instead of rushing through it, I savored and enjoyed the experience to the fullest. Wow, it was wonderful.

Just like this!
Just like this!

When I was growing up, coffee was a part of life at our house and at my grandmother’s as well. Back then, there was no decaf (Sanka came later) so it was Maxwell House perking on the back burner of our gas stove. The coveted pot was metal with one of those little glass toppers. Plink, plink, plink went the coffee as it perked. After dinner, there was always a fresh pot. My grandmother was the first person I remember allowing me cups laden with milk and sugar.

My dad was a dipper. No matter what type of cookie was on the table after dinner, he dipped it. My mother’s Greek bread toasts (paximathia) or butter cookies (koulourakia) were his favorites. Around the holidays, like Easter, mom would make dozens of them to take to holiday gatherings.

And Dad didn’t just do cookies. He did bread and cheese (think slices of swiss cheese) or just plain toast. He loved to dip. He loved coffee and whatever was on hand to dip into it.

I’ve met people who are not dippers. They would never think of dipping their cookie or biscotti into their coffee. Too many crumbs, they say, floating in their coffee. But I LOVE IT. So what if you get to the bottom of your cup and there are crumbs?

Sometimes when I think of dipping, I think of the old Dr. Pepper jingle. Instead of Be a Pepper, listen to the jingle below and substitute “dipper” for the word “pepper” in your head.

Works doesn’t it! If you’ve never dipped before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Give it a try. You’ll love it. 🙂


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My Unresolutions for the New Year

Calvin is Perfect! Nothing to Change! Photo Credit Decibel Magazine

Resolutions, ME?

Yes, I have to admit that in the past I was always reluctant to set New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I still am. But today I am thinking about what may be worthwhile to change as I go into this new year.

Being an over-doer and over-thinker, I hate setting goals that feel like more pressure. I already place too many expectations on myself and the thought of more pushing can overwhelm me.

But I am thinking that I can set some “un”resolution goals. This could be a good thing for me; a “restore-myself-to-sanity” thing and guess what- my word of the year just happens to be (drum roll please) – Sanity.

So here we go. I’m officially offering up my unresolution goals in the hopes you over-doers out there will join me.

1. I resolve to unhook myself from negative thought. As soon as my mind starts on the “you’re not doing enough, blah blah blah” I resolve to kick it to the curb and look at myself realistically. Am I really doing enough? If the answer is yes, well then, Good Enough is really Good Enough.

2. I resolve to un-counch-potato myself and get the heck to the gym. Yes, I’m signing up for a swim class and not making excuses about why I don’t like to exercise. Enough already- just do it!

3. I resolve to undo my own guilt trips about food. I noticed recently how much grief I give myself about any sweet treats and honestly, I’m tired of my own berating. If I want a cookie (provided I haven’t eaten ten of them already), I’m having it without guilt. If I work on loving my body for what it is (a beautiful thing!), the chances are I will make better choices anyway. (This may not always apply at Sunday’s donut fest after church services. 😉 )

4. I resolve to uncontrol my life more and give the big issues to the Universe. Honestly God does a much better job of figuring things out vs. my struggling and struggling.

5. I resolve to unleash my mind and let it live in the moment. I want to live more freely, more spontaneously, more enjoyably. I don’t need to plan as much, just go with the flow and enjoy what comes my way.

I’m smiling just looking at this list. I think I’ll print it out and hang it somewhere.

Will you join me? If you create an unresolution list, comment below and share a couple.

Happy New Year!

Join me on my graceful journey.

Jim’s Favorite Egg Story


I woke up to the sound of little feet running past my bedroom window.

As I opened my eyes I could see the early summer light streaming through the room. I heard the back door open and shut. I realized it was my grandson Gavin.

He had just come in from collecting fresh eggs from our backyard chicken coop. One of his favorite things to do was to feed and water the chickens and look inside their nests for eggs.

As I started to get out of bed, I could hear him running into the bathroom. The high pitch sound of his voice made me figure something was wrong. “Ah man, this is bull#!@*. This is BS! AH!”

I knocked on the bathroom door and asked “Gavin, what’s the matter?” He said it was ok for me to come in.

DSC_0028What I saw was a young boy with yolk on both of his hands and in his hair. I asked him if the chickens had thrown eggs at him? 😉 “No Jim! There were so many eggs I put some in my pockets. When I went to get them out, one broke. When I went to get the other one out, that one broke too. I forgot I had eggs in my hand and I got it on the door handle. When I saw this, I smacked myself on the head and it went into my hair!”

I had lectured Gavin about using inappropriate language in front of his Nana and girls. It was ok for him to use it in his tree house and in front of guys. But I tell you, I had to hold my laughter back in these crazy few moments.

I had Gavin step out of his pants and reassured him that tomorrow would bring more eggs. No harm done! And Nana came to the rescue with a special basket, just for gathering eggs. So no more need for eggs in pants’ pockets!

Thank you to my husband Jim, for this great contribution of his favorite egg story! Do you have a favorite story that involves an egg? I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or send me an email at

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Everything I Own Has Alittle Bit of Doghair On It


Our favorite dog Ms. Jordan
Our favorite dog Ms. Jordan

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Josh Billings

I put a jacket on the other day and there it was. Golden yellow flecks of dog hair.

I put a pair of black pants on to go to a special event- there it was again, more dog hair.

Everything I own has alittle bit of doghair on it.

Do I say with this impatience, aggravation or anger? No. As a matter of fact, I have complete and total acceptance of dog hair.

Our yellow lab Jordan is a member of our family. We have had her now for eight years and it seems like she has been with us always. I try and remember life without her and it just doesn’t seem the same.

My daughter found Jordan (or Jordan found her) when she went to pick up her son one day at his father’s house. Michelene said when she came back out to the car, Jordan was sitting next to the car wheel smiling as if to say “Here I am! What are we doing next!?”

Thank goodness Michelene had the nerve to go to Jordan’s house of origin and ask if she was available for adoption. The family said “Hold on a minute” and came back and said “You can take her.”


I fell instantly in love when I saw Jordan. Lab pups are too cute and the bond between Jordan and us was immediate. We had a border collie at that time too. I don’t think Lucky was initally excited about another competitor in the house. Thankfully he got used to it and they played like brother and sister.

Chicken PictureJordan is outside most of the day and is our official “protector of the chickens.” That is, we have a coop with twelve chickens and she protects them from hawks and wildlife. In the late afternoon we let the chicks out to roam. Jordan is ever watchful, ever vigilant. For her devotion, she gets a fresh egg reward.

To watch Jordan eat an egg is like being a witness to a spiritual experience. She handles it like glass. Gently taking it in her mouth, she lays it down on the ground. How she cracks it open so perfectly I don’t know. When she licks the egg out you know she is savoring it. Finally, she eats the shell and finishes the treat.

If anyone raises their voice at our house alittle too loudly, Jordan walks over and nudges them. She is uncomfortable with upset people, us or guests, and she has become an emotional baromater for our household. Get alittle too excited and Jordan will gently touch you and make you calm the heck down.

Are you worried about something? Jordan will come and look at you with her big eyes, silently requesting a head scratch or belly rub. By the time you are done, your problem will not seem so big.

I consider Jordan one of the most precious gifts in my life. She keeps me company when Jim works a long shift. It is just me and her some nights. I am fine with that.


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A Tantalizing Tale

This tale begins with a toilet. A toilet that was giving us problems….

For the past year (I swear that’s how long it was going on!) we were having problems with our toilet. It would not flush well on occasion and as you can imagine, this was quite a frustrating situation.

We live in a small ranch style home, out in the country and we don’t have public sewage. We have a septic system and just one flushing toilet for the four of us.  It’s hard to believe this would be the case (only one toilet, you may ask?) but public sewage is coming our way so there’s no sense in taxing our already aging septic system with another toilet.

So one morning, I finally had it with the toilet that refused to flush decently. I sent my husband a text message and invited him to the local home supply store for an evening date. We’d have dinner somewhere then go pick out a new toilet (what an exciting date?! my one girlfriend noted). Jim text-ed back his confirmation- OK.

That evening, after a summer dinner of sandwiches and salad, we headed for toilet territory. While Jim was off in the garden center, I checked out the vast array of tantalizing toilet selections. There were rows of them, in all different shapes, sizes, heights and tank capacity sizes. My mind was boggled with toilet tank options, gallon capacities, and colonial white or regular white options.

Jim showed up to look over the toilets. Of course he was looking at the $200 toilets but frugal minded me was checking out the $98 ones. I couldn’t see what the heck you’d need an expensive toilet for anyway?

Enter Mark Lee. He was the home supply salesman who happened to walk down our aisle and ask if we needed help. He was young, tall and very handsome. He looked like he could be a magazine cover model in sexy jeans with no shirt on. (The young girls probably go crazy over him)  I took one look at him and decided, on the spot, that he likely knew nothing about toilets.

This is where I was wrong. Dead wrong. Mark Lee launched into a sales pitch worthy of an infomercial. The first thing he said was “You get what you pay for. This is an item you will use every day, many times” (he smiled when he said this and we did too).  Jim agreed of course and was probably relieved that thank goodness, here was an ally in his quest for a non-cheap toilet. Jim asked him which toilet he recommended and Mark Lee pointed to the gold standard of toilets- The American Standard.

Mark’s sales pitch lasted a couple of minutes. I remember the last thing he said, “And, this toilet will flush a bucket of golf balls…..” At this statement, Jim and I both raised our hands in the air and said “SOLD!” The next thing I knew we were wheeling a $239 toilet to the front desk.

Since then, I’ve realized a couple of things. The old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is still true. Clearly, I made a judgment decision about Mark Lee that was dead on wrong. He was a spectacular salesman. Second, nothing beats a great flushing toilet with a smaller water tank capacity. I can just imagine what we’re saving on the water bill!

Footnote: Guess what was stuck in our old toilet? A PENCIL!

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Abundance…In True Anne Lamott Style

One of my favorite writers is Anne Lamott. You’ve probably heard of her or might be a fan of hers already. She has written a number of faith based books (Traveling Mercies) and some fiction novels as well. Her latest book is entitled “Some Assembly Required” and it is a beautiful journal of her grandson’s first year of life.

The first thing I loved about this book was Anne’s decision to be called “Nana” by her grandson. (My grandson calls me Nana too!) She “journals” her way through her fears about everything from her son and his girlfriend’s relationship, to the baby’s birth and early development. She calls close friends when she is losing it and always comes back to faith and humility by letting everyone live their own life. She is such an inspiration.

Here’s one of my favorite stories from the book:

(Anne says) “I have a new perspective on spiritual abundance, thanks to my friend Michelle, who told me about going to Starbucks the other day for a pecan sticky bun. She normally doesn’t order pastry at Starbucks, because it’s fattening, but the other day she decided to treat herself to a pecan sticky bun. She spent quite a lot of time picking out the exact one she wanted, which meant the one with the most pecans. She pointed it out to the counter person. He had to move a few others that were in the way, so she took her coffee and sat down.

He brought the sticky bun over, all wrapped up and on a plate. She started taking it out of the paper, and instantly saw that it was the wrong bun, not the one she had chosen. This one had only three pecans on top. She wrapped it back up and walked to the counter, where she pointed this out to the young man, with crisp annoyance. He looked at her incredulously. “Lady,” he said, “turn it over”.

And on the other side, the bun was tiled with candied pecans.”

I just loved this story. How many times have I had an attitude about something which turns out to be abundance in disguise? If we’d all remember to count our blessings, what a pecan studded world this would be!

So, if you’re looking to read with abundance this weekend, pick up a copy of  Some Assembly Required!

Join me on my graceful journey.

Happy Birthday to “The Gavinator”!

My grandson Gavin is one of the biggest blessings in my life. As I write this, he is on the eve of his eleventh birthday, growing out of all of his clothes at record speed. He teeters on the border between being a little kid and becoming an adolescent. He wants to be a grown up but he’s just not there yet. Sometimes he’s so good at arguing his point I think he’d make a great lawyer.

The fact that he is here at all is quite a miracle. My daughter is 29 years old as of this moment. If you do the math that would make her, yep, 18 years old at the time of his birth.

It was a big trauma initially when my daughter told me she was pregnant. I am the oldest of my sisters and female cousins and I was worried about the effect this would have on the family. I said something to my cousin Angie one time about it and she said “You showed us how to handle it”. I don’t know what I was worried about. Everyone was supportive. Thank goodness for open and loving families.

Gavin has taught us many lessons. When he was two or so, he stopped calling my husband “PAP” and started calling him Jim. He still calls him Jim. (He calls me Nana) When he was three, he overheard Jim being impatient and short with me. Gavin stopped him and said, “Jim you were not talking to Nana very nice. I think you need to say you’re sorry.” So in front of Gavin, Jim came to me and said he was sorry.

Jim calls Gavin “the Gavinator” I think because he is a powerhouse. He’s all boy. He likes to ride motorbikes, zoom on a skateboard, catch a fish. Jim loves to show Gavin how to fix mechanical things, take care of the chickens, tell a good joke. The men on my husband’s side of the family have a weird sense of humor and thankfully Gavin knows how to play along.

Gavin told me one day that Jim told him how we came to be together. In a stern voice I said to Gavin, “Tell me what Jim told you.” He said (with a grin) “Nana, you were washing your face by the side of the road one day. Jim was driving by. He stopped and said Come with me and you’ll never have to wash your face in cold water again. So you went with him and he bought you an ax to chop wood.”


I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says: Grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your children. I laugh when I read this but truly, Gavin is a big reward for hanging in there through some tough times. He is for us, I believe, the opportunity to try again, to do better, to be given another chance. And my daughter? Last year she received her bachelor’s degree. When God gives us a chance to swell up our heart, we should take it. Who knows what it will bring?

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Laughing at Myself

You grow up the day you have the first real laugh….at yourself.

Ethel Barrymore

I have done some silly stuff lately.

One chilly morning this winter, I was outside cleaning the snow off my car. When I came into the house, my glasses fogged up immediately after hitting the warmth of my mud room. I ran into the kitchen, thinking I had left the oven on.

In an event just yesterday, my boss said to me (from another room), Do you think Jim would go to Mastermind with you? What I heard was, Do you think Jim would go to Mass with you tomorrow? (I’m not Catholic!)

Lucy watches Little Ricky's birthday party fro...
Lucille Ball- She was funny! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I also seem to be becoming more funny. Maybe it is just that I am funny to myself, but no, I seem to be funny to others as well.

The deterioration of my hearing especially is enabling my funnyness. I know I’m going to need to get it checked, but the reality of that is well, I am not ready to deal with the reality of that (or the expense of a hearing aid).

I don’t know why people get so upset when others laugh at them. I see it as a special grace when we can love ourselves despite what others think (or don’t think) of us. When I was a manager, my employees loved to imitate me back to myself. Sometimes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I used to think that EVERYONE needed to like/love me. I was such a people pleaser. I realize now that is the impossible dream. The older I get the more I realize that hey, not everyone is gonna like me. That is ok with me. I will tell you this- the deeper my relationship to God, the less it matters what others think. I like myself and what others think of me is really none of my business.

I know deep inside the kind of person I strive to be. Funny yes. Also- caring, loving, thoughtful, forgiving, huggy and kissy. Yes, that is what I want to be.

So laugh if you will. I’m laughing along with you!

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Happy Birthday Chargeman!

Bad Girls (song)
Image via Wikipedia

It was May 10, 1980. The location? A disco filled with pulsing strobe lights, dancing bodies and the sounds of Donna Summer singing “Bad Girls”. I had just arrived to meet up with some old college girlfriends. They were all getting up to dance. I said I needed a minute to relax. Next thing you know, a handsome young man in a lime green leisure suit asks me if he can sit down and talk. I told him (in a stern voice) to keep moving.

I watched him walk slowly around the room again and make his way back towards me. Feeling like a jerk, I let my guard down and told him he could have a seat. We talked for the rest of the night. I loved to play pinball so we did that together for a while. I wouldn’t let him buy me a drink without reciprocating. He walked me to my car and asked me out on a date.

What a handsome young boy!

One year later we were walking down the aisle together. It has been 30 years since then and today, Jim turns 55 years old.

It is hard to believe we have been together this long. Where have the years gone? We both have thickening middles and we move a bit slower these days. And, as anyone who has been married for a while will tell you, it ain’t always easy. But obviously I was attracted to the right guy because things have just worked out.

Jim has had various nicknames over the years but Chargeman is one of my favorites. This is a name given to him years ago by a group of women who worked with him at the hospital (he’s an RN). I don’t even remember the story much but I think it’s a Superman- like designation. And, he really is a “Chargeman”.

Here’s why. I think God has given Jim a special mission. He was born to help others. If he sees someone in distress, he steps up to the plate. He’s taught me alot about honesty and about “owning it”. Owning it means fessing up to what you are doing and taking responsibility for your own actions. He genuinely wants to live a life of service and help his fellow man.

The "Love Children"

Jim has given me the gift of two great children and subsequently, my grandson. Our kids are the highlight of our union together. We have all been through thick and thin and thankfully, by the Grace of God, we all get along and actually (really!) enjoy spending time together!

A long time ago, we finally gave away the lime green leisure suit. It hung for years in our closet. (I think neither one of us wanted to give it away!) Jim’s favorite movie when we met was “Saturday Night Fever”. We watched it together not too long ago and had a good chuckle!

If you know Jim, be sure and wish him a Happy Birthday today!

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Is it Odd or is it God?

Question mark liberal
Image via Wikipedia

Weird things have been happening to me lately when I publish my blog posts. Maybe they are not so much weird as they have been possible signs (to me) that maybe, just maybe, I am walking down the right path….

Here’s an example. On the exact day I published my last post “To Amy, With Love”, a new client came into my work place. Usually I never ask a new client what their address is but I had a few moments so I thought, what the heck? Here’s how the conversation went:

ME: Sue, I’d like to add your address to our database. Can you tell me what it is please?

SUE: Sure, it’s 1234 JOE CAIN LANE (blah blah blah city state zip)

ME: (incredulous) I can’t believe it. My name is Joanne Cain. My friends call me Jo Cain. Really? You live on Joe Cain Lane?

HER: Yes I do. (chuckle) Well, that is really a coincidence. I have an Aunt Joanne by the way.

ME: Really? How does she spell her name? Small “a”, with an “e” on the end?

SUE: Yes. Just like yours.

To top this all off, I went to leave for lunch and I almost put HER coat it. It was exactly like mine. Same brand, style and size.

(Yes, I thought about buying a lottery ticket that day!)

Is it odd, or is it God? What do you think?

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