Out With the Old? Not so fast…

Yes, it’s a new year, so in with the new…but not without a shout out to some “old” that’s coming with me.

Liquid Fence
If you don’t have gardens, or gardens with animal problems—as in, your yard is their all-day buffet, Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent won’t offer much to you. But surrounded by woods, our yard often gives the impression we keep deer for pets, a veritable Disney land. Which we love. They have been known to stand on the side of the driveway and just watch while we pull our car out and close the garage door, and then they get back to grazing. But we don’t love the fact that over the years, our visitors have eaten large amounts of our landscaping. This largely natural product is about the best there is, keeping our graceful friends from munching our hedges with a mixture that includes “putrescent egg solids” and garlic. I get the concentrate, mix it with water, spray it on, keep my plants, and don’t feel bad at all.

Method Cleaning Products
I’ve loved these natural cleaning products for quite some time,  but after recently trying the 4x HE beach sage laundry detergent, I’m an even bigger fan. I love the clean packaging, the cheery colors, and the scents seal the deal.  Some of my favorites:  grapefruit, cucumber, and beach sage, my new bright turquoise laundry detergent. Happy cleaning!

Rose Lilies1-roselily
This is a personally spectacular find. Over the years of our marriage, my husband has enjoyed giving me lilies—plants and cut flowers, both Asiatic and Oriental varieties. He really likes lilies…but I really don’t. The blooms are too architectural, too stark, too unromantic. Until now. Rose lilies are ruffly, light, softly-scented, and have non-staining pollen. These wonders even have their own Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/Roselilyflowers/  Husband, gift me these ethereal wonders all you want.

Restorative Yoga
Is this a thing?  And where has it been all my adult life? Poses and practice that rely on gravity to create stretching and opening in the muscles and body. Finally, a yoga practice where I don’t end up feeling stiffer, more out of shape, or injured. After 25 minutes, I’m feeling relaxed, youthful, and ready to take on the next several decades!

Good Behavior
Every now and then, I discover a television show that I love so much, I don’t want to talk about it, share it, give an opening to anyone to say a bad word or not love it as much as I do. It’s mine, my secret pleasure. Outlander on Showtime was one such television event. (I can mention it now; it’s hardly a secret.) My 2016 find: TNT’s Good Behavior. I’m addicted. Michelle Dockery. Juan Diego Botto. (And where has he been all my adult life?) Shhhh….


secretslogoIs revenge truly a dish best served cold?

I was on board when the Mike Kelley series Revenge debuted on ABC. Watching did indeed feel like a guilty pleasure for I do not condone revenge, and yet watching justice play out on this show was so incredibly satisfying. Until the ramifications rippled wider and wider, and the characters’ responses got crazier and crazier, and I tuned out. I wasn’t the only one; the show ended after four seasons. No question, revenge gets old.

I generally let life play out, believing what goes around really does come around and I don’t need to get in the middle and micromanage. That said, I do sometimes feel a need to push back to maintain or regain balance, to keep a person or a situation from going too far outside what I’ve judged to be an appropriate box. I’m surmising we all have this initial response, to “push back” or, to take it further, retaliate when we feel we have been wronged, mistreated, ignored, or injured.  Whether we chose to act on this instinct, and how is where the variety comes in!

So where did the panel stand on revenge?

B: Enticing though it may be, I think revenge is a dish better not served at all.

D: No (not best served cold). Hit ’em while it’s hot.

P: I can’t remember plotting revenge against anyone. Revenge is not something I think about.

R: Doesn’t matter when as long as it goes to the heart.

What a great job interview question! Wouldn’t you like to know the predilections of those you work with?

George Clooney, Universal Dream Man?

secretslogoIs George Clooney every woman’s dream man?

I ask this question because everyone seems to think so, including my widowed mother who as she approached her nineties, ripped a huge photo of George Clooney out of a magazine to keep in her kitchen. Betty suffered from dementia, but she still knew she wanted to wake up to George!

(Now, let me answer it for myself, since I am panel member “B.”)

B: Not for me. (Sorry, George.) The only thing I wonder about is why the media choose him to single out as the gold standard. Perhaps out of respect to his aunt, Rosemary Clooney, Hollywood royalty herself.

D: Every older straight woman and maybe some gay men.

P: George Clooney is undoubtedly extremely handsome, and I would not turn him down. Do I dream about him? No, but every time I see him, I think “He is one handsome man.” He is today’s Cary Grant.

R: Not now; he’s married. And so am I.

So if not George Clooney, then who is The Dream Man?


Answers Are Here: Secrets of the Universe

secretslogoTo conquer the questions that plague me, I am undertaking Secrets of the Universe, a blog series to explore some of life’s greatest conundrums like…is there a certain age beyond which a woman should not wear an unnatural shade of nail polish? Does Bernie Sanders truly believe guns and ammo in your checked luggage on a plane is the same as guns and ammo in the luggage over your head on the train? Should hospitals be nonprofit? Cracker Jacks or Fiddle Faddle?
Courageously stepping forward to take on this weighty task, the members of the Secrets of the Universe Panel (alternatively, The Four Pillars):
B – writer; mother of one favorite son; married to a coach who honorarily adopts honorary sons who play basketball; floral designer.
D – writer; mother of artistic college-aged daughter and son who just left the nest; married to a patron of the arts; organic gardner.
P – writer; mother of a stand-up comedian son; partnered with Ricky Riccardo, a rescued Lhaso Apso; realtor.
R – writer; mother of two musically-inclined college-aged boys; married to The Nicest Man in the World; tour guide.

Need I say more? Stay tuned for the first installment…


Board Games; Gotta Love Em'?

        I am playing board games again. Or rather my family is. Not because we have children hanging out in the house–we are all consenting adults—but because its’ summer and the perfect time to enjoy the traditional simple pleasure of a non-mechanized game. We spend time together and let the conversation flow. Our exchanges may be social; news about family or friends or neighborhood happenings. They may be goofy; teasing about who is going to win and who is going to lose, or which playing piece brings the most luck. They may be meaningful; musing over a disappointment or revealing a  lofty goal. These conversations don’t happen when we are in front of the television, huddled over a computer, or attending to our cell phones. I can’t say they happen over meals that often either. Our meals tend to be more functional than social as we all run busy schedules and have more to get to in that day. But board games, ahh. Everyone playing has put aside at least a portion of time, and isn’t hurrying anywhere. Nirvana.

          We have a friend, who upon discovering our propensity to enjoy board games or card games, said with some horror, “Oh, so you’re one of those. You’re all game people. My wife is one, too.” We all knew he didn’t mean high-tech game people; that would have been more understandable, and acceptable, I’m sure. Nope, we meant, he knew, recoiling, the good old- fashioned kind of games, with a board or a fifty-two care deck.   

        So this is my public confession.  I am one of those.  

        A recent acquaintance who also has one adult son, not to mention a PhD, told me she and three of her friends have a regular board game night. Immediately, I knew this woman was my kind of gal. One of those, and not afraid to say so.    

Favorite Board Games:  With a nod to my blog mate Peggy, who never fails to give us a good tip or two, here are a few of my favorite board games.  Parcheesi, where dice strategy and how you play your rolls is key; Life, where we all get to choose a profession, choose a spouse, choose how many children we want, purchase insurance, and decide when to retire; and Amazing Labyrinth, where those who still have the ability to maintain focus for an extended time can forecast the openings of the labyrinth as people make their moves and come out the winner almost every time.  And, finally, Clue.  I’ve played this game maybe hundreds of times over the years, but there’s always room for one more round with Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, or Professor Plum. Who can resist the draw of the Billiard Room or the Conservatory to ferret out that dangerous candlestick or hefty wrench?  Or the opportunity, in less than an hour, to flush out the villain and put things to rights every single time…     


Sex v. Gore

Recently a friend said that she was disturbed because an
episode of The Walking Dead had a
steamy sex scene, and she wasn’t forewarned. She watches the show with her
teenage son and she thought a heads-up would have been nice. (If you watch The Walking Dead and don’t want any
spoilers, stop reading.) Although you didn’t see any body parts that aren’t
otherwise covered by bathing suits, it was clear during the scene that two
people were having sex. They were consenting adults, in love, and their
relationship was accepted and encouraged by everyone they knew. I thought it
was a sweet moment in a show that is mostly unrelenting horror and misery.


There is a huge amount of violence in the The Walking Dead. A lot of the violence
is directed at zombies, who admittedly are no longer human but still like to
eat them. But their decapitations, stabbings through the eye, and gunshots to
the head still bother me. Then there’s the 12-year-old kid who shoots a
father-figure-turned-zombie, witnesses his mother’s uterus getting sliced open
to save her baby, and then shoots his dead mother in the head to prevent her
from becoming a zombie. A man cuts off his own hand and cauterizes the wound. Humans
are eviscerated alive. All this and we’re objecting to a little sex?


We rate movies so that viewers can have guidance
about what’s appropriate for their children and themselves. But our ratings
system is heavily skewed toward violence. Years ago I watched I Capture The Castle with my preteen daughter.
It’s based on a charming novel written in the 1940’s. There are two incredibly
brief scenes of female nudity, one from a distance, both no longer than a few
seconds. For this the movie earned an R rating. My daughter was delighted and
went to school the next day bragging that she’d seen an R-rated movie.
Meanwhile if we’d watched any number of PG-13 movies we could have seen a lot
of murder, maiming, and mayhem. I think I’d rather my kids saw a bit of the
human body or two people expressing their love for each other, even if that
means explaining what sex is.


May Day Magic…in March!

Starting yesterday, March 5, through Friday, March 8, my newest “short’ story–May Day Magic by Beverly Breton–is FREE on Amazon to read on your Kindle or by downloading a free Kindle app. on another device.   

Set in New England, May Day Magic is a light sweet story about chances taken. Meet Diane Avery, a school nurse and single mother so busy taking care of everyone else she forgets herself, and Marc Stafford, the owner of an upscale garden center/gourmet grocery and divorced father about to become an empty nester when his son goes to college. Add a sick student, Diane’s mother’s operation, a family tradition, a shared love of flowers, and Diane’s tween daughter who becomes a surprise source of romance advice, and the result for Diane and Marc is…romance? Happily ever after? I hope you’ll download the story, and then read it and find out!  And if you enjoy it, do please spread the word… 

Happy spring to all.


Words With Friends

I had to pull myself away from playing Words With Friends to write this blog.  If you like to read or write or play scrabble you will love Words With Friends

Words with Friends – the game that got Alec Baldwin in trouble  – is addictive.  I am currently playing with 3 friends (2 of which have 2 games going on with me simultaneously).  That adds up to 5 games at once.  My Iphone is set to make a little ping noise whenever it is my turn.  So, no matter where I am – watching TV, eating dinner, walking the dog, working at my desk – I know when it is my turn to make a word with the most points possible.

I am competitive enough to try to win every game.  Do I?  No way!  My friends win as often as I do.  Sometimes I just can’t make a good word or my letters are lousy or my friend plays a stupendous word with lots of points and I lose.  It makes me mad and I want to try again.  Thus the never-ending competition.

I have my strategy – look for the triple word, then the double word, then the triple letter, then the double letter spaces and try my hardest to land on them with my letters.   Probably everyone has the same strategy but I don’t  know; we don’t discuss our strategies.

One of my friends spells words that I never knew existed like ka and ai.  Now I play them too.

Since I started playing the game months ago, I have probably wasted a huge number of hours doing so.  The only up side is that I play less Sudoku. 

Want to play?  You can use any smart phone.  But, don’t even start if you don’t want to get addicted.

Now I have to go…I just heard the ping.  It’s my turn…

Real Estate Hint – Realtors spend a lot of time doing odd jobs for their clients.  This week alone I met a French client at the Social Security office to assist her in getting her social security card; opened a house I have listed for the moving company to make an estimate of the amount of furniture for the client’s move to Sweden; called a snow plow man to clear the driveway of a house so the moving company would be able to drive up to the house; brought my own fake fruit to a home so we could fill a basket in her kitchen before the public open house; met a fireman at a home so he could check the smoke alarms.  You get the idea!


Ticking Time Bomb


Across all genders, races, and geographic locations, we are confessing that even with the passing of days, our sentiments aren’t lessening; we are still fighting floodgates of tears, overwhelmed with sadness and horror, when confronted with the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

President Obama described the event at Newtown as unconscionable evil. Evil defined as “something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamaity”: no question. But I often think of evil in perhaps a more biblical sense, an inate malevolent force, and when I attempt to attribute this quality to Adam, and/or his mother who kept numerous weapons in easy reach of her home-schooled mentally-ill son, at the moment, I can’t. 

Violence has reached crisis proportions in this country. This is fact. The only good news in this tragedy is that the dialogue about how we navigate violence in our culture, what we have permitted either by action or inaction, may have finally, seriously, started. The problem is complex and multi-faceted, taking in our freedoms, our mental health care system, and our entertainment culture for starters.

Public opinion indicates this may be the time, finally, for politicians to take on the NRA. Anyone who is dead set on maintaining the freedom to bear arms or raise militia or however the original phrase in the Constitution reads is also preserving the right to have family and friends gunned down at movie theaters and malls, and children massacred in their classrooms. I have to agree with one of the recent guests on MSNBC who opined about such literal translation of the Constitution: “I don’t think this was what the forefathers had in mind.”

That we have embraced violence as entertainment in all venues to just about all ages is completely and totally repulsive. This needs to stop, and I hope this is the start.

But I think there may be another villian in this picture, a silent, insiduous, powerful villian. Big Pharma fingerprints are cropping up on the crime scenes of these tragedies, for there is a common thread going through many if not the large majority of these shooting incidences. These shooters are under the influence of doctor-prescribed medications.  These modern drugs, prescribed by doctors and embraced by patients and their families, have supposedly offered individuals and family members a means to mute uncomfortable, depressing or confrontational feelings or behavior in themselves or dependent family members. But examine that concept to a logical conclusion: if such drugs have the ability to mute and muffle destructive feelings, will they not mute and muffle constructive feelings too, the kind critical for living in safe community with other humans–inclinations like kindness, consideration, love, and perhaps most critical, empathy? So now, under the influence of these modern medical answers, negative behaviors subside, right along with positive ones, to the point where a son may now be able to define the slaughtering of his mother as a clever and effective solution to a new or recurring problem.

Where does responsibility lie? With the chicken–mental illness–or the egg–the behavior-modifying drugs? The dialogue here MUST include Big Pharma and a complete overhaul on how drugs are tested, approved, and released to a public with little to no follow-up monitoring, a public who has no idea that when they bring home that little plastic bottle, they may be bringing home a ticking time bomb.


Fireworks Not Welcome

The calendar has not yet turned to June let alone July, and yet my evening was disrupted by the violent “report” of fireworks last Sunday night, May 21.

I enjoyed fireworks growing up, the colors and the designs, not the noise. As an adult, I’ve seen enough fireworks to make the negatives of attending Fourth of July displays–sitting in traffic, walking through crowds, perspiring and swatting at mosquitos, gagging on air thick with Off, and covering my ears repeatedly at the violent noise–completely outweigh the positives–which are, what? Gathering with friends and family? Seeing the pretty colors? I can gather with friends and family without all the hassle, and thanks to the computer, if I have a hankering for fireworks, I can watch some from the comfort of my couch. Or go to Disney World.

So there is never a question where I will be on Fourth of July. Home. Enjoying the peace and quiet? Never. Who invented this idea of entertainment–explosions that can be heard across such distances with such immediacy? The Chinese, according to infopedia. Fireworks are “phow chook,” which translated is “bamboo explosions.” The earliest fireworks were bamboos stems that popped and cracked, making noises that were believed to drive off evil spirits. Over the centuries, the phow chook came to be used to commemorate joyous occasions. And we Americans picked up the tradition to celebrate Independence Day. After a war that shattered the country with noise and violence and death, we now commemorate it with a festival that sounds remarkably like a war has started up again. Couldn’t we celebrate independence and the reinstatement of peace to our country with…peace? 

I could put up with the noise, as annoying as it is, and illegal a large majority of the time, for most people setting off random fireworks are breaking a law. But I have a dog, and she cannot put up with the noise. Here’s one of many warnings I found on the internet about fireworks and animals: “Fireworks may pose a problem for animals, both domestic and wild, who can be terrified by the noise, leading to them running away or hurting themselves in an attempt to escape.” So even if I wanted to go to see fireworks on the Fourth, I wouldn’t, because it would be cruel to leave our terrified dog home alone to face this fright of a night. Right now my dog has a major leg ailment, and is not supposed to be running or jumping, scrambling or clawing, all of which is impossible to stop when she starts hearing those loud bangs and wants to take flight.

So special thanks, people, for partaking in what is apparently your idea of fun, and my idea of illegal torture, almost seven weeks ahead of the Fourth of July.