Saturday, November 28, 2020

A flower from heaven

In late summer and through fall, these flowers (sedum) are pale pinkish purple and attract insects.

Since last week the flowers wilted and shriveled on the stems.
On November 19th, a day or two before the 20th anniversary of my friend Rose's death, I discovered this growing right up out of the center of the plant. Not so unusual you say? 
Read on.
Before my best friend Rose died of lung cancer, we made a pact that if there was an afterlife she would send me a flower in winter. I have received an unexpected blossom/flower, different varieties and colors ever since the first anniversary.  

I wrote a story, titled The Golden Girls, which was published in Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul about the very first flower I received. 

 I am never surprised, forever grateful, and always in awe. No we havent had a hard freeze, but we are on the cusp, so I can't declare it to be winter, but definitely the growing season is finished for these flowers. 

Another year without my friend, another gift from her from beyond.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Sit down and drink up... INTRODUCING

Melissa Face, author of  I Love You More Than Coffee, an essay collection for parents who love coffee a lot and their kids… a little more. 
Her essays and articles have appeared in Richmond Family Magazine, ScaryMommy, and twenty-one volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Read more at

Book Description

Are you trying to balance raising a family with maintaining your own identity?

Have you ever been so exhausted that you showed up to a meeting carrying your baby’s diaper bag instead of your briefcase?

In her debut collection, 
I Love You More Than Coffee, Melissa Face writes about the emotions we all experience as parents: anticipation, joy, fear, guilt, and worry. Whether you are a new or seasoned parent, you will find common ground in Melissa’s heartfelt, humorous, and authentic stories of her life with two young children.

If you love coffee a lot and your kids (a little) more, this book is for you. Fill your mug with your favorite brew and settle in with I Love You More Than Coffee.

Melissa Face, 
Author of I Love You More Than Coffee (Mascot Books, September 2020)
Facebook & Instagram - @MelissaFaceWrites

:  Melissa, tell us about some of your roles in life, but first, we have to know how you came up with such an interesting book title! How did you come up with the name of your collection?

: Okay, the title actually came from my daughter, Delaney. She was three at the time, and she was questioning me about where she ranked in my life. She asked me if I liked her more than candy and cookies. Then, she looked at me very seriously and asked me if I liked her more than coffee. I pretended to be unsure, and then we both laughed. I knew at that moment that she had given me an idea for an essay, as well as the perfect way to package my collection. 

 Linda: Can you tell us a little about your life outside of writing?

 Melissa: Sure! I am mom to Evan (9) and Delaney (6) and wife to Craig, but I won’t say his age. Haha! And I’m a coffee lover.

 I am also an English instructor at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology in Petersburg, VA. I have the privilege of teaching and working with artists every day, and it’s amazing. Of course right now, I am only with them virtually, but I am hopeful that this won’t be the case for too long. 

 Linda: That is a lot to juggle. When do you write, and where does your inspiration come from?

 Melissa: My kids are definitely my main source of inspiration. They are always saying and doing funny things, and my writing is a way to process whatever is happening in my life. It’s also a way for me to celebrate the hilarity of motherhood, which I try to do on a regular basis. If you can pause and take a deep breath between the arguments, spills, and chaos, raising kids is freaking hilarious!

I write a lot in the summer. I’ve been on a few writing retreats that were very productive, but I am also able to get a lot done at night and on the weekends. I try not to let it interrupt my family time, but sometimes an idea hits and I fear it will lose some of its magic if I don’t work on it right then.

 Linda: How does I Love You More Than Coffee differ from other parenting collections?

 Melissa: For starters, it’s not preachy, but there is still a takeaway and something uplifting with each essay. The most unique feature, however, is that the essays are written in real time, beginning with the moment when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. The reader gets a real picture of my life and parenting mindset at that point in time. What’s funny about that is there is an obvious change in the tone of the essays from extremely optimistic to a little more realistic. But even the essays at the end are still hopeful, and that reflects my view on parenting and life in general. I’m always hopeful about a new day and another opportunity to be an even better mom.

 Linda: Tell us some facts about you or your writing life that you’ve never shared with readers before.

 Melissa: Ooh! This is a fun one!

  1. You probably won’t find this too surprising, but I can drink coffee all day. I do sometimes switch between hot and iced and lattes and cappuccinos! 
  2. I still write all of my drafts by hand. This includes essays, my freelance work, and my responses to these questions! It doesn’t feel right if I start typing first.
  3. I love running 5k races with my family. My daughter ran her first mile at age 3, and she has since run three 5k events. She’s only 6! Races are so much fun, and we love all the positive energy and the freebies. I have an essay about one of our races in my collection.
  4. This is a weird one, but I definitely haven’t shared it with readers. On my first cruise, I hopped up from the dinner table after just meeting our tablemates. (I didn’t realize before the cruise that they would pair us with other people.) The swaying of the ship was getting to me, and I knew I was going to get sick. That couple must have thought I was the rudest person in the world because I jumped up without explaining myself and never returned. 

 Linda: Who would you say is your book’s target audience? 

 Melissa: To be broad, my readers are parents and grandparents. I know as many men who have read my collection as women. It is definitely appreciated from a dad’s point of view, as well as a mom’s. I’m also marketing it as a gift book. It’s perfect for a holiday or birthday gift, in addition to a baby shower present or a gift for a new mother.

 Linda: What are some ways readers can get in touch with you and read more of your work?

 Melissa: Definitely check out my website at I post a monthly coffee chat there where I interview moms and other authors about coffee, motherhood, and writing life. Readers can also find me on Facebook @MelissaFaceWrites or Instagram @melissafacewrites. And to purchase a copy of I Love You More Than Coffee, simply visit one of your favorite retailers including: and Amazon, Target, or Barnes & Noble.

 Linda: What a gift for expectant moms and dads, parents and grandparents, too. 

I Love You More Than Coffee is SURE TO MAKE YOU SMILE or laugh out loud. 


Sunday, November 15, 2020

A nearly naked boy and a bratty woman


I MUST mute the television when a specific auto commercial comes on. It depicts a self-centered, privileged, spoiled woman and her significant other.

She gifts him with “a little something, an early present,” expensive sunglasses, a pair for him and one for her.

He tells her he also bought them a gift. He takes her outside their mansion and proudly declares, “One for you, and one for me.”

He indicates the black pickup truck is for himself and the red SUV for her.

She dashes to the black truck shouting, “I love it!”

As he mutters, “That one…” She hops inside the truck and swoons over the vehicle, “I love it!”

He says, “And I LOVE that you love it. I like red.”

She enthusiastically shouts, “I love-love-love it!”


I HATE IT!  The message promotes selfishness.

I wonder if self-indulgence is what drives people to refuse to wear a mask during a raging, killer pandemic. Is this the collective attitude? “No official is going to tell ME what to do!”

Do they boldly declare or silently believe, “I love-love-love my freedom from authority, and I will do as I please!”

Such a simple, temporary, life-saving act. This is not going to be forever!
PLEASE wear a mask in public.


My great-grandson, six-year-old Liam, video chatted with me the other evening before bedtime. He wore only a big smile and his underwear. Three-year-old Alex and two-year-old Charlie were already in their jammies.

“Nana, it was precious.”  

“What was?”

“My brudders, Nana!” 

Liam usually complains about how they bother him. But on this day he had done something selfless and thought only of them. Their reaction was precious to him.

His mom had given him money for the school’s Santa shop to buy something for himself that day. When he got off the bus, he was clutching stuffed animals. He still loves his Peppa Pig lovey, but he’s not into stuffed animals any more.

Talking to me, he squealed and aimed the camera at Alex and Chalrie. “Nana, look at my brudders.” 

There stood Alex beaming as he clutched a small orange stuffed dinosaur, identical to a raggedy one he already has. And Charlie was proudly showing me his sad-eyed stuffed giraffe.

Ashley told me, “Liam said he bought the dino because Alex keeps losing his lovey and won’t go to sleep with out it. He heard me say I would pay $40 on Ebay for a replacement one!” (I hope she was joking.)

Liam bought the giraffe because Charlie likes the Toys R Us Geoffrey giraffe.

"I got this one with sad eyes because Charlie is always whining and crying about something.” His reasoning was spot on.

This little boy is very thoughtful and caring. He received more pleasure from giving.
“It’s precious, Nana. Look at them!”  

HE is precious. He has the Christmas spirit and I hope he always remembers the adage, It is better to give than receive. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Buffalo poop and lamb's ear

 Writers know  the way we view things has a direct impact on our sense of accomplishment. 

It may be a boulder to you, but Liam felt as though he'd conquered a mountain. Same way with writing a paragraph, poem or a story. Be proud of your work.

Liam was off school for fall break, so he and I hit up the playground, river bank, small animal park, and also Lone Elk Park, where herds of elk and buffalo roam freely. Visitors drive through. 

When I taught, I used to bring a huge buffalo hide into my classroom at this time of year and do a lesson on Native Americans. 

I had been telling Liam about how the Plains Indians hunted buffalo and used all parts of the big animal to survive: clothing, shoes, shelter, food and much more. I asked if he would like to see a real buffalo up close. He was so excited when he saw the herd laying down in the field at midday. I pulled to the side of the road and told him he could unbuckle his seat belt and come lean out my window and get a good look at them. 

"No thank you. What if they charge the car?" He was seriously concerned. When I convinced him we were safe, he looked out the window and we made observations about the largest, wooliest, etc. 

"Nana, look! I thought that was a pile of poop way over there, but it's a baby buffalo."

Perfect opportunity to explain that buffaloes only eat grass, and the Native Americans even used  the buffalo poop when it dried out to fuel their fires.

His mom said Liam talked all the way home about everything he had seen, learned, and done during the two days we spent together. He told her about touching velvety soft lamb's ear: the plant we found growing wild at the river, not the animal, and throwing rocks into the river, and digging in sand, and climbing a look out tower.

When we pulled into our driveway he noticed the three little boys next door. They ran to the car and yelled, "Is that Liam?!" It had been months since they had seen one another.

 He ran to join them on our front lawn. I filled water balloons for them to toss at a target, gave them different sizes and weights of balls  to toss into a bowl. But they had the most fun when I brought out an old throw pillow and showed them how to play pillow tag. Liam wore his mask at all times.

That little six year old smarty wore me out, but I sure enjoyed our time together.

The next day I found a wonderful reminder that Liam had been here. Next to my computer I witnessed his literacy developing.

First he sounded out his brother's name, and then he wrote an observation. I laughed so hard.

Make the most of each day. Cherish time with loved ones, and remember to count your blessings.