Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mud Dauber Determination

To feed their families, the mud daubers (dirt daubers) pack their dinners on my back porch. Spiders seem especially tasty to them, so they paralyze the main course and stuff them into their custom designed nursery units.
Mud daubers are members of the wasp family and are not hostile "stingers" as are some of their cousins. However, they are aggressive in another area: nursery construction and stocking of provisions. In the summer, the female frequents the edges of a mud puddle where she rolls wet dirt into tiny balls about the size of a BB. Then, she flies one uniform ball at a time, held in her mandibles (jaws), to her construction site. Pellet by pellet she constructs tubes shaped like organ pipes. The females in South Texas seem partial to the mortar indentations on my bricked back porch. Bit by bit, BB by BB they carry out their mission to ensure the survival of their young. Upon completion of one nursery tube, mama mud dauber lays an egg, right on top of the food supply. Yes. On top of paralyzed spiders. She's done her homework. The spiders will not harm the larvae when they hatch, they will only nourish the larvae. Each species of mud daubers prefers certain types of spiders for their nursery pantries. One even prefers the immature black widow spider for its food supply. Horrifying to me, but mud dauber moms seal their unborn in cylinders with live spiders. However, the precautious moms have made sure that harm cannot come to the next generation.
Read the rest of the article from link

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lucy, Daniel, and Chance

Find an article about Lucy, Daniel, and Chance at this link. Don't miss this treasure of a story about Lucy and motherhood. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucy for this article. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

Monday's List

When Monday's list seems long, I remember my theme scripture from 2013 and pray that God will make it a reality in my life: "March on, my soul; be strong!" (5:21).

Those encouraging words come from Judge Deborah in the Old Testament (Judges 4-5). In her lyrical battle poem she recalls God's victory over Israel's enemy. If we had interviewed Israel's commanding officer, Barak, and we could only take in statistics and what the eyes saw, Israel was about to get the "daylight beat out of them." (I'm from Arkansas, and we heard that often, probably from an adult aggravated by rowdy children). The Canaanite oppressors had 900 iron chariots, and history says three warriors often rode in each chariot. Plus they had foot soldiers and they had iron weapons, including shields and spears.

The Philistines had removed the iron and welders from Israel. Israel no doubt had a few tools to skin animals and do their garden work, but basically, Israel is about to go up against their enemy with pocket knives and garden hoes. Except........God had told Deborah, "Go, and I'll be with you." So, Deborah called upon soldier Barak, and they went.

Because of the wording of Barak and Deborah's victory song, scholars believe that God sent a thunderstorm to stop the Canaanites. Blinding rain and thick mud can do a number on chariot wheels and charioteers. Why else would the enemy commander, Sisera, abandon his chariot and take off on foot? He jumped chariot. And when he set out on foot, he  met his demise when the cunning homemaker Jael refreshed him with buttermilk, covered him with a blanket, and said get some rest. Nothing like a tent peg and a hammer for nailing your enemy to the tent floor. but that's another story for another day.

Combat details aside, I love that Deborah relates that during the battle, she stopped and gave herself a pep talk, "March on, my soul; be strong!" I understand this. Women do this all the time. We know God is alongside, but we still have these internal monologues with self. The Margarets, Cathys, and Jessicas spur ourselves on in our individual lives: "Come on, Margaret, you can do one more thing before you collapse in bed." "Okay, Jessica, get going, these clothes aren't going to fold themselves." "How can you get so distracted, Cathy, get back to your to-do list."

A soul solo. A pep talk. A reminder.  A hurrah speech to self.  Oh, Deborah, we women understand. We want to walk in God's will. We want to finish the race. We want to succeed with families. We want to stay the course. We long to know that we'll finish all God planned for us. Thank you, Father, for sending Deborah's words across thousands of years and from among the "galloping steeds" and "thundering horse hooves."

We hear her voice. Father, we trust in your care. So, we say confidently to self, "March on, my soul: be strong!" 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Don’t Use Sexy to Sell Me a Pair of Shoes

The actor swirls around in a clingy dress wearing stilettos. Viewers even see her naked calves hanging over the side of a white bathtub, her feet wrapped in stylish heels. In another scene with no seeming inhibitions, the actor dances with allurement. Oh yes, and there’s a man in the commercial. He has a glint in his eye or is that a leer.
            See, there’s the problem. The utmost thing this commercial said was that shoes attract a man. Do they keep your feet dry? Are they supportive? Do they hold up fallen arches? I don’t know because all I really saw was the flashy image of an alluring female and skyscraper shoes.             I’m skeptical. The ad implies that shoes draw a man’s interest. I want proof. I want to see a thick curtain and behind it women’s clad feet shown from the ankle down. I want to see men picking a woman by just seeing her feet. Would any man really point to a set of feet, “Yeah Baby! I choose her.”

            I’m confused. In the current ad on TV, are they selling shoes or sexy?

            I suppose some truth lies in the commercial. Fellows do like high heels. At least mine does. I like to wear them for him since there’s a foot difference in our heights. It’s nice to be nearer to his face for a little impromptu kissing should the urge hit. But then we’re not prone to overt public displays of affection, and, no, I don’t wear heels to bake potatoes at home.

            In the above paragraph, I meant to put “truth” and “lies” right next to each other in the first sentence because that’s what so many television ads do. They serve up a product or brand logo with illusions:  Sunglasses at night will cut headlight glare; cat litter makes your house smell tidy not feline; fake butter tastes like real butter; burn belly fat while eating ice cream.

            Some advertisers do practice some truth in advertising, and look how their taglines have caught on: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” And, plenty of Americans know that “the best part of wakin’ up” is coffee in the cup, whether it’s Folgers or not. Astute advertisers know their audiences. On the old reruns of family safe TV shows and movies, a staggering array of ads geared toward senior citizens fill in the gaps between show scenes: cereals with fiber, burial insurance, and a medicine cabinet full of cures, plus those for motorized scooters and reverse mortgages touted by Fonzie of “Happy Days.”

            Whoa. I’d better stop. You don’t want to hear about the “happy days” of reversing a reverse mortgage. All I can say is when our family paid off a parents’ reverse mortgage the interest rates and fees were stiletto. And it took half of their investments to buy back their home worth five times what the mortgage company had loaned. You get the picture. Don’t believe everything you hear hawked by the makers of a product.

            Now, back to feet and shoes. I long for truth in advertising. I’d rather see a foot with a bunion and then the happy face of a senior woman when she finally gets a comfortable pair of shoes fitted to her feet—granny shoes are good ‘cause at some time most women will have granny feet. I long to see beach shoes covering the soles of young feet keeping them from the burning sand, or even snazzy shoes on teens going to a high school football game. Just give me a real scenario without the sexual innuendoes.

            I’m not naïve, I know that advertisers think if sexy is present at least the males pay attention to the ad. And the feminist notice and other women who are offended by ads using the female body to sell products. But PR firms have also thrown in their share of hunks to lure women: from yogurt to pizza to floor cleaners, they give us glimpses of brawny men along with mops and buckets.  

            One of the newer Skittles candy commercials showed a girl kissing a boy who smiled and had Skittles in place of his teeth. Some of the Skittles were missing after the kiss—the tagline “French the rainbow. Taste the Rainbow.” After complaints Wrigley, makers of Skittles, changed the line to “Kiss the rainbow. Taste the rainbow.” Their change is somewhat admirable (after a parent alarm went off), but their original appeal to sixth grade boys has costs them some longtime purchasers, who say they’ll never buy Skittles again.

            Back to shoes and all other ads, please, tell us about the product. Use humor, jingles, facts, characters, or metaphor but please know we’re not fools who will swallow anything you set before us.

            From Buzzle.comDavid Ogilvy wrote in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, ‘The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife.’ Whenever you take a look at different advertising techniques and those examples that you would like to use in order to design your own advertising strategies, keep in mind this little tip from Mr. Ogilvy. After all he is not called the father of modern advertising for no reason.”

            So really, you want me to buy a pair of women’s shoes because you showed me stilettos and naked calves draped over the side of a bathtub. Do I look like a moron? All I’m asking is for truth in advertising and don’t use sexy to sell me a pair of shoes.




Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Article Featured at

"Pool of Mercy" article featured at To read and/or share. Thanks, friends.


Friday, October 04, 2013

An interview and book drawing with Anita Higman author of Winter in Full Bloom  (Leave a comment to enter book drawing)

Welcome my guest, Anita Higman, prolific author and communicator. I've read Winter in Full Bloom and here's my review: Sincerity and sparkly humor in a well-told story describes Anita Higman's latest offering, Winter in Full Bloom. Set in Australia and Texas, the author expertly melds the lives of a widow, a daughter, a sister, a reluctant mother, and a man estranged from his family. A romance blossoms as characters find their way out of life scrapes. The twist-and-turn story kept me wondering what would happen next, and thanks to Anita's imagination, rarely was anything predictable. One of my favorite things about this book was that Anita wove the characters' faith into the story in a compelling and natural way. That way, I too could grow as the story moved along. Thank you, Anita Higman, keep writing.

Cathy: Winter in Full Bloom is set in Texas as well as Australia. What made you want to set the novel in these two places?
Anita: Well, I live in Texas, and so I wanted to make use of my home state. After living here for about thirty years I have a soft spot for Texas now. Also, I’d visited Melbourne, Australia for about three weeks and had taken notes, and since it was such an exotic place and I’d had such an amazing time there, I wanted to share some of my experiences with readers.
Cathy: The cover is beautiful. Did you have any input in this cover?

Anita: Yes, actually, I did. The publisher sent me a few samples to look at, and I chose this one. But the cover you see now was tweaked a number of times. One of the changes was the addition of the red tulips all along the snowy path. I’m so glad the publisher was open to changes. I’m very happy with the final cover. It reflects the story even better than before, and I think that bit of unexpected intrigue along the road will be eye-catching to the bookstore browser. 
Cathy: That title is unique. How did you come up with Winter in Full Bloom?
Anita: Sometimes I brainstorm titles, and then sometimes I use a phrase I find within the manuscript that works well as a title. Winter in Full Bloom was created during one of my brainstorming sessions. As a side note, there are a couple of meanings to this title. The heroine’s name is Lily Winter. Also, half of the book takes place in Houston at the advent of winter, but when she flies to Melbourne at the same time of the year, Australians are experiencing the beginning of spring. So, even though Lily has begun getting ready for winter, she suddenly enters into a season of springtime—literally and in her personal life.
Cathy: Are the characters from your imagination, or do they come from real life?
Anita: My characters are a mixture of both. I’ll be watching someone at the airport or the mall or at church, and I’ll think, “Wow, that gesture or laugh or walk is perfect for my character.” Then some of my character’s traits will come straight from my imagination. Usually, it’s a fun brew of all the above. 

Cathy: Do you and your husband travel a lot?
Anita: We travel much more now that we have empty nest. Last year we went to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada. This year we’ve been to Mexico, California, and right now as I type this answer, my husband and I are waiting at the airport to fly to Ireland. Can’t wait. I’m hoping to set one of my future novels in Ireland. 
Cathy: Why do you write?
Anita: I have a real need to express myself creatively—guess I was born that way—and writing and I fit well together. 

Cathy: Your heroine, Lily Winter, is experiencing empty nest. Why did you add that element to the story?
Anita: I was going through this same rough phase of motherhood, and I thought it would be good to add this to the story. I hope it added an element of authenticity to the tale. And too, forcing myself to write about the pain surely helped me deal with it better.
Cathy: How long have you been writing?
Anita: I’ve been in this profession for about thirty years. It’s been a long, stumbly kind of journey. I’ve had some dark hours—those moments when I really didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it. Moments when rejection swept me under like a scary undertow. Moments when getting published seemed pretty much impossible. But I never gave up, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve had thirty-four books published in many genres, and even though it’s been a rough ride, it’s also been deeply satisfying.
Cathy: This story is about twin sisters? Are you a twin and do you have a sister?
Anita: I’m afraid I have to say no to both of those questions, but I’ve always wanted to have a sister. And that desire I suppose fueled the dialogue and some of this story.  

Cathy: Winter in Full Bloom is a love story but also a story of family reconciliation. Have you experienced that last part in your own life?
Anita: Yes, I have known the miracle of family reconciliation, and it has brought me great joy!
Cathy: Any final words for your readers?

Anita: If you have ever taken the time to read one of my novels, I thank you with all my heart. I sincerely hope that Winter in Full Bloom inspires you and makes you laugh, and when you come to the last page and close the book, I hope your heart and your step feels just a little lighter.
Cathy: Oh, Anita, our hearts feel better knowing that God has placed authors like you in the market place. Thank you this interview and for giving us a glimpse into the process of writing Winter in Full Bloom  Available in paperback or Kindle version. (Don't forget: leave a comment to enter book drawing. Drawing ends on Monday Oct. 7, midnight).

Friday, December 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Newspaper Readers

As the end of 2012 nears, I close by sharing Jeremy Taylor’s (1613-1667) nineteenth tip for humble living. I am also saying goodbye to all dear readers of this column. First, let’s consider Taylor’s final guideline for seeking humility.
            Taylor says, “Humility teaches us to submit ourselves and all our faculties to God.” He asks followers to recall the previous eighteen rules for humble living, and he encourages seekers of humility to adore God, submit to superiors “in all things, according to godliness, and to be meek and gentle in conversations toward others.”
            Because I’ve written fifty-two columns on humble living, I now have more knowledge about humility. Attaining humility is difficult, so God and I continue to move my stubborn will into better habits of humble living. The thing that most stood out in my study this year was author Randy Harris’ suggestion that whenever we walk into any rooms to consider ourselves the least in the room. Then to ask a mental question, “Who may I serve?” That’s powerful.
           Two special scriptures about humility took up residence in my heart. They contain both directives and a promise from our gracious Father: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3), and “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). I know without doubt that as we honor God and others, God meets our needs.
            This will be my last column. After eleven years plus a few months, I find that the time has come to close out this phase of writing. Several family needs brought me to this decision, as well as offers to write for other venues. I can’t do it all. Even though I would love to write day and night, home duties call, and my dishes have not learned to wash themselves.
            First, thank you to “The Courier,” to Jim Fredricks, Andy Dubois, Bob Borders, Nancy Flake, Mike Jones, and Sondra Hernandez, who have guided, edited, and headlined. Some of you are no longer with “The Courier,” sort of ghosts of columns past. However, each of you shined your skills on my writing making it better. Any grammar mistakes were mine. I seem to be the queen of split infinitives. I’m indebted to Jim Fredricks for taking a chance on a very green writer in the summer of 2001 when I phoned and asked if I could write a column. I especially thank “Houston Community Newspapers” affiliate editors for publishing some of the columns.  
            Thank you, readers. Many of you have let me know through phone calls, emails, or in person when a certain column encouraged you at just the right moment. You have gently let me know when I made a scripture stumble, by misusing or misapplying. Sometimes, I had general information wrong, such as the time I mistakenly said morning glories have tendrils. A kindhearted horticulturist from Huntsville sent an email. We are friends to this day. I’ve grown because of the knowledge many of you shared with me.
           I also treasure those of you who introduced yourselves in aisles of stores or in restaurants. A few of you, when I pushed my cart by, got that I-know-her look on your faces. When you braved asking who I was, you gave me hugs, handshakes, and personal thank yous for the columns. You were wonderful, and your enthusiasm and appreciation kept me writing.
            I apologize for any preachiness, poor writing, and hurried writing of columns. I’ve done all three at times. When I began this column, my mission was to help readers love God because he first loved us. By faith, I knew that God could multiply any seeds of information about him. I trusted God to take the messages and use them any way he wanted. Readers, you have mailed them to prisoners, relatives, and even government officials. You told me you have them on your refrigerators and tucked in your Bibles. Aren’t you wonderful to receive and to pass on messages about God?
            “Goodbye” comes from the 1570’s word “godbwye,” a contraction of “God be with ye.” Today, I reach back several hundred years and borrow that sentiment: May God bless your journey. May God carry out the plans he has for you. May God be with you.
                  Hunger for Humility (Week 52): “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)