I recently read a short story called The Memory Keeper by Amy Maroney. The main character Elena had an astute memory that saved her and her companion up in the Pyrenees Mountains. He has been attacked and to escape those hunting them, they entered a dark ice cave. She remembered how to navigate the cave from time spent there with her mother when she was a young child. She and her injured partner find the exit on the other side of the mountain after Elena leans on what her mother had taught her.

I too am blessed with a great memory. I believe I inherited it from my father’s side of the family. His cousin Irene could tell the most vivid stories based on her memory of past and shared experiences. She painted clear images and others within earshot could envision her stories.

As a writer, my memory has helped me because if I run out of story ideas, I can simply recall former events. Several authors write full and multiple novels or memoirs based on things that have happened in their lives. Similarly, every day is a story. Something as small as a trip to the grocery store can serve as the basis for a new storyline. There could be a chance encounter with an old coworker that can inspire a tale housed with happy memories.

It amazes me when people tell me they do not remember. I’m thinking, “But this is your life.  You only get one and you do not remember parts of it?”  Or maybe, it is selective memory. Let’s face it, some people remember what they want to remember.  As Barbra Streisand sang. “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.

Just think if criminals like Lizzie Borden said, “I do not remember.”  Hmm. She may have had a blackout, but her victims and their families truly and painstakingly remember. The bottom line is not remembering does not excuse the occurrence nor its induced sting. It happened!

So, for those with either selective memory or memory loss, try leaning on the artifacts from the past and perhaps they can help with the recall. Conversations, discussions and pictures can assist in remembering what truly took place in the past. Or apply the lyrics from the song, Try to Remember. It sings, “Try to remember and if you remember, then follow, follow, follow.” A good memory of instructions can save a life or two!

Lynn M.
May 27, 2023

Carving Your Own Path!

In these days of social media, selfies, bragging rights and straight-up vanity on display, it is easy to believe that others are having a better time than you. That is when you may ask yourself, “How am I really doing?” You should then pull out your measuring stick and check off your own tick marks of achievement. Truly weigh in and hopefully after the assessment, you can sigh, “Not bad.

It is easy to think that others have it better than you. It is not an uncommon concern for Shakespeare wrote centuries ago in his 29th Sonnet: 

“And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy, contented least…”

But when you take an honest look at your personal accomplishments, you should pat yourself on the back and highlight what did go well. Perhaps you have raised a healthy, well-adjusted child, or received a special thank you from a supervisor or received a standing ovation after singing a moving solo at church or penned a novel or maybe you are simply that steady hand in the family. Whatever accolades come to mind, they should bring you a level of peace and you can whisper, “Aha!”

There is a children’s book by Aesop called The City Mouse and The Country Mouse where the city mouse leaves his humble abode to visit the city mouse that is surrounded by opulence and finery.  But at a certain hour, the cat comes out, terrorizes them and they have to run and hide. The country mouse is distraught but the city mouse just sees it as a regular occurrence. The country mouse can’t wait to get home to his quiet home with limited things but engulfed in peace and quiet. It teaches that all that glitters is truly not gold for peace flows like a river.

I thought of one of my minister’s words when she said, “Be content where you find yourself and bloom wherever you are.” Don’t look over your shoulder at what others have or appear to have nor be fooled by the hype. If you need to make some adjustments to bring further contentment, then make them. But you should continue to carve out your own path, smile and remember that you are fine just as you are!

Lynn M.
May 20, 2023

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret- The Movie

Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret is a new movie based on the popular teen novel by Judy Blume.  Margaret, a 4th grader, is dealing with the stress of moving to New Jersey and dealing with the anxiety of being the new kid on the block. She often has dialogues with God when she feels uncertain about situations.

Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) soon makes new friends in her new town and school and is initiated into a secret club headed by her new neighbor, Nancy (Elle Graham). They discuss the boys they have crushes on, vow to tell when their menses arrive and agree to wear training bras. At times, at the behest of Nancy, the leader of the pact, they even become mean girls and exclude and ridicule others in their class.

But Margaret also has another dilemma. Her teacher assigns her a report on religion and it brings up a whole new set of questions and confusion for Margaret. Her parents do not attend church. Her grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates) takes her to a Jewish temple, but Margaret does not understand the service. She starts asking her mother questions and asks why she has never met her maternal grandparents after a conversation with her teacher.

Her mother Barbara (Rachel McAdams) admits that she is estranged from her Christian parents because she married Margaret’s father, a Jewish man (Benny Safdie). Margaret is further confused and continues her dialogues with God. She visits a variety of churches attempting to understand the meaning of religion. When her maternal grandparents finally arrive to meet Margaret for the first time, they clash with her Jewish grandmother and there is a screaming match.

Margaret spirals out of control. Her parents intercede and after all of the visitors have left, Margaret begins to come into her own and sort things out. She discovers that she doesn’t like being a mean girl, and decides to embrace kindness and tolerance, truth-telling and distances herself from those who think otherwise. She continues her talks with God as she works on becoming a more wholesome person.

It is a light yet thought-provoking movie of the time-honored book where Author Judy Blume makes a cameo appearance while walking her dog. For those parents who are seeking for a way to talk with their pubescent girls, Are You There, God?  It’s Me Margaret is an excellent tool to segue into the girl talk. The movie is an entertaining way to avert the curdling screams from the bathroom and a means for preparing their young women-becoming for the inevitable.

Lynn M.
May 13, 2023


If a friend sees danger ahead, shouldn’t that friend warn you? But, just think, if you take the “r“( for responsible)) out of friend, you get fiend. Only a fiend would allow you to walk into a trap without screaming, “No!!!!!!!”

Yet, once you have been allowed to enter the cave of living hell, you can survive if you have strong links to a Higher Power. You can make it and jot down the many lessons learned along the way. You will learn that as the saying goes, “Things don’t just happen, they happen just.”

There is a reason for the daunting experience. First, you will discover who people really are. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.”  In that way, you can more quickly get off the merry-go-round of questioning yourself and shaking your head in disbelief, thinking, “This can’t be.” Remove the blinders and admit, “It is so.” 

Perhaps, the good Lord allowed it to happen so that you would be less naïve, less gullible and more streetwise.  All of that! Then you will learn to “Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils” (Isaiah 2:22).  Remember that only desperate people commit desperate acts. You can pull out your trusty pen, journal your way out of the den and pray fervently until you can again see the light of day.

You will come out on the other side understanding who to trust and who to walk away from with the quickness.  And perhaps, you will immediately recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing without so much loss of your precious time. Life is short and valuable and you only have so much time to do the things on your agenda.

And mostly, you will adhere to Shakespeare’s words when he described a dark spirit. He said, “A man may smile and smile and still be a villain.” {Hamlet 1.5.114|   Work on becoming villain-proof.  Yes, as you continually rub your eyes from the nightmare, just like cream, you too will rise to the top. So, dust yourself off from the shadows of despair and confusion, keep on stepping and glow as you go!

Lynn M.
May 6, 2023

Their Best!

A recent Chicago Bears draft pick answered many questions for the news media but ultimately he said, “I’m going to do my best.”  I thought, “Hmm. Simple, but powerful words.” I then thought of all of those who have come before us and all who have worked up to the end of their days trying to make a difference. They too gave their best 

A long line of predecessors from all walks of life  gave all they had until their tanks were empty, but each one made a determined effort to try to attack some of the ills of society. They may have been playing sports, singing, acting, dancing, writing or on the political stages. Yet, they wanted to eliminate some of the pain that they had either felt or witnessed or maybe they just wanted to be the first in some achievement.

Regardless of the motivation,they took swipes at the oak trying to tumble the trees of pride (haughtiness), greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony or sloth – the seven deadly sins (Proverbs). Many left here wondering if their lives’ efforts had even mattered because those trees still appeared to stand tall.

The other day, here in Chicago, there was a news story about a gigantic bur oak tree that stands in Lincoln Park Zoo.. It has been there since the beginning of Chicago’s founding. It even survived the Chicago Fire and other local catastrophes. It appeared to be in bloom, but guess what?  It is coming down because in spite of its strong look, it’s dying.

Several onlookers stood there getting a last glimpse of the tree and its far-reaching branches. The horticulturalists have decided to bring it down because it could otherwise be a danger to the public. They have done the study and see that it is on its last leg and must sadly come down. On the positive side,they have many wonderful plans for the use of the bark and other parts of the tree to be used in key ways.

So, to those who have come before us that  gave all that they had within their God-given ability to eradicate those things that are wrong in our society, it was not in vain. Those continuous swipes at the oak worked though it looked as if nothing was changing. They may have not lived to see the tree fall nor hear the shouts, “Timber!”  

But, they now have a bird’s eye perch from high above and they can smile. They know that they gave their best during their allocated time and they can see things are getting better and better for those coming behind them!. And, they can rest assured that those pulling up the rear will also give their best!

Lynn M.
April 29, 2023

On Vernon Avenue!

We lived at 7031 South Vernon Avenue from about 1967 to 1970 in Chicago. One sister had already flown the coop and the other two were married in 1968 while living on Vernon Avenue. Of course, we partied and celebrated both of those unions.

And then, there was just me with the parents. I graduated from high school in 1968 during the turbulent 60’s and that’s where we lived as several historical and tragic moments played out. But on a lighter note, it’s where we were when I bought my first car, a mint green 1960 Ford Falcon. I had saved $87 and Daddy gave me the other $13 to purchase the $100 car. Unbelievable.

I was working as a cashier at the High-Low Foods about a block away which was on the corner of 71st Street and King Drive. {Then called South Park Way). There were many shops along that stretch of 71st Street such as Harvey Collins BBQ place or his laundromat. We could walk about two blocks east and get a small bag of hot shrimp of White’s Shrimp. Or, if me and my friend, Corliss walked west across King Drive, we could buy Mod watches with the interchangeable faces and straps to match our outfits. What fun!

During my last year of high school at Hyde Park High, I drove to school after having to catch two buses for a brief period of time. After I had the freedom of wheels, I shot west to 68th and Stewart to Chicago State College. It became a university right before graduation in 1971. (Hurray!) Sometimes, I drove with one eye open because we had been out dancing all night at the Concept Ballroom at 79th and Halsted. Then, we would go over to the White Castle at 79th and Stony Island and hang out into the wee hours of the morning. My mother said, “Fine. As long as you make that 8:00 AM class.” I always did.

I advanced from the locally owned High Low Foods to the nationally known A & P Foods which was located on 71st, far east close to Jeffrey Avenue. I rang the register all the way through college. I sped past the Oak Woods cemetery wall every time, never dreaming that it would one day be the resting place for both of my parents. Selah.

I missed out on many weekend out-of-town trips because I was always studying or working, but I was on a mission. But for fun, we often went in carloads to the movies or even to the US 30 drag races to see the races and the funny cars. Our favorite eateries were driving up to get hot fish from Lawrence Fisheries off of 18th Street. Or we’d jump on the Calumet Expressway (Now the Bishop Ford) and go for food at the Tollroad Oasis out off of I- 80/294. We were young and fearless and thought nothing about hopping on the Dan Ryan to get where we wanted to go.

The stories are endless but reliving even small bits of those years give me warm, fuzzy feelings. How glad I am to have had those great memories of days gone by!

Lynn M.
April 24, 2023


After the recent teen takeover in the Chicago Loop which caused mayhem, chaos and personal injuries, I reflected on my teen years in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  I came along right after the turbulent sixties, and I reaped some of the gains from the civil rights struggle.

Oscar Brown Jr. had a television show called Opportunity Please Knock back then. Well, it did for me because I was able to get a Teacher’s Scholarship through the state. I went to college at no cost after promising  to teach in the state of Illinois for five years. I did joyfully teach for six years and left with many rich memories.

During my college years, we had access to the beauty of the Chicago Loop. I went to several gatherings in hotels such as the Palmer House, the Congress (formerly the Pick-Congress), the Playboy Club, the Holiday Inn and the Lake Meadows Country Club, to name a few. We only needed to know if it was after-five or formal wear when getting ready to go. If it was after-five, we wore short, fanciful dresses and if it was formal, we wore floor-length dresses. And, we all had plenty of choices in our personal closets. This was before the blue jean and pants era, so we took great pride in getting all gussied-up, as the Southerners say.

This added to our self-esteem and we felt welcomed while being given a pass to engage in a civil society. As a Brownie and a Girl Scout member, I was taught mottos that encouraged me to become  a productive citizen. But most importantly, we had access and we knew how to conduct ourselves in public. However, our youth today are crying out for help. 

Sometimes, great programs have been put in place and new politicians come along and decide to dismantle someone else’s good work. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  There had been an expansive summer teen employment program put in place in the early 70’s by Richard J. Daley’s administration. I worked with the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program each summer helping as a camp counselor, a payroll clerk, a payroll supervisor and an area coordinator. It was my summer gig because back then, teachers did not receive summer pay!

We hired teens from all over the city from the ages of 14 to 18 to do things such as cleaning up the neighborhood, supervising day camps or whatever was needed in their communities. I remember the very young being taught how to get their Worker’s Permit as they excitedly learned how to earn a paycheck. I was helping them and also helping myself as I enjoyed working in the Loop and later driving around the city to check on various worksites.

While working in the Loop, we had the run of LaSalle Street where our Y office was located. We enjoyed the local bakeries, bookstores, banks and going in and out of City Hall to buy stamps or money orders. I got my first credit card at a clothing store called Pollyanna’s which was close to where I enjoyed my first Wendy’s hamburger. At lunch time, we sat on plazas and listened to people like Herbie Mann and other musicians while enjoying the busy Loop.

What happened?  Who decided that our local teens should be left out of the normal flow of accessing the Loop and carving out a path forward?  Why do they feel that they have been left behind and choose to rebel by destroying the property of others? They obviously feel unwelcome and now everyone is scrambling and trying to figure out what should be done. 

It’s simple. Do the research and go back to what worked in the past. The wheel does not have to be reinvented, but just pulled out, oiled and put back into operation. It may take time, but ALL youth should be allowed to find a path towards becoming a decent, productive citizen. Restart the mass employment programs, give well-chaperoned functions in the hotels and give the youth a chance to enjoy life.  It may have to start with a selective sample of teens to show the stakeholders that they too can sing America in a respectful way. They may need a little guidance on manners and dress but a small beginning can end with a big finish when minds and hearts are open to inclusion for all!

Lynn M.
April 22, 2023

Poems Are!

Poetry speaks as an easy flow,
In fewer words but has a glow.

Concrete messages spewed intact.,
Which takes a poet’s skill and knack.

Poems are a quick way to connote,
Saying, “We are in the same boat.”

They touch our hearts and soothe us,
Giving pointed balm in a rush!

Lynn M.
April 15, 2023

British Expat Authors-2023

Over the past few years, I have enjoyed reading the memoirs of British expatriates that have chosen to live in other countries. Some moved for lucrative means and others were retiring to warmer climates. In several cases, the author-wives were following their husbands who worked for the British government as contractors in fields such as engineering as they built structural systems for the Commonwealth.

My first acquaintance through Twitter was with the prolific writer, Valerie Poore. She now lives in the Netherlands and has written several books of her life on a boat. She is an English professor who decided to live on a vessel in Rotterdam. Some of her works such as Watery Ways is from her Ways series. Then there is Faring to France on a Shoe which covers a boat journey to other countries with her mate, Koos.  Before moving into the world of the Dutch, she lived in South Africa and her memoirs from there are both colorful and amusing. She describes the beautiful countryside and everyday life in works such as African Ways and her latest book from the SA days is Beneath A Copper Sky which is quite riveting.

From that point on, Val began to recommend books for me that have been written by her other expat writer-friends. So I moved on into the works of Lally Brown. Her husband worked as a British engineer, and she always found work on the Caribbean Islands to contribute to the community. There are several laugh-out-loud moments as she writes about everyday life in High & Dry in the BVI, Tree Frogs, Don’t Drop the Dolphin along with other works.  At one point, she even lived on the island of St. Helena where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last days in exile.  She did in-depth research of those times and wrote a grand tale of his life while there in The Countess, Napoleon and St. Helena.

I was later led to Victoria Twead’s Two Old Fools six-book series where she and her husband Joe leave the UK and move to Spain. While reading of their daily happenings one feels as if he or she is sitting right there with them on their patio watching the Spanish villagers. They even leave their El Hoyo abode for a year to teach in Bahrain. It is hilarious as they attempt to teach the wealthy, entitled Arabian middle schoolers. After returning to Spain and spending several more years in El Hoyo, they move to Australia to be closer to their daughter and her growing family. The adventures continue as they learn to maneuver the new terrain of Aus, as they call it, and once again look for a new home.

Then, Beth Haslam wrote a five-book series called Fat Dogs and French Estates where she and her husband leave the UK and head for the South of France.  We see them in their car going through the Euro-Tunnel and getting out on the French side. It made me pull out my Atlas (book) and follow them as they drove to the south of France. They visit several properties and meet all types of people as they look for their new home. After many disappointments, they find a place that looks fine until all of the sellers’ furniture has been removed from the house. They stand aghast when they realize how much work needs to be done for the place to be truly habitable; but they’ve already signed on the dotted line! Reading the series is quite like being a family member as Beth takes us through each everyday occurrence. This year, she released Fats Dogs and Welsh Estates as a prequel which shares her rich childhood in Wales and the events that shaped her life.

I was also introduced to Susie Kelly, who also lives in the south of France. In The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette, we see Susie and her husband bike up to the Versailles area as she gives an in-depth history of the last days and movements of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before they met their fate at the guillotine. She has a great sense of humor as she informs yet gives comic relief along the way. In her work Safari Ants, Baggy Pants and Elephants: A Kenyan Odyssey, she revisits the African nation of Kenya 40 years later where she spent several childhood years. Her descriptive words made me feel as if I was right there with them while on safari!

Lastly, I just finished Karen Telling’s first book of a two-book series called Another Day in Paradise. When she and her husband Nick rode with their car through the Euro Tunnel, this time I was familiar with the process. They too drive through the French countryside, but this couple is on their way to Portugal!  Once there, they rent a few properties to see if this is right for them and after deciding a resounding yes, they buy a small fixer upper. They thought that they were ready to retire, but instead Karen finds work as a real estate agent, and Nick starts a small moving service. The adventures continue to flourish as they thrive in this new land where again business ventures move as slow as molasses.

All of the books are available on Amazon, and it is a great way to go knee-deep into countries and places that I will probably not visit in person. Several of these women writers are accompanying their mates who are on higher missions, but they chose to pick up their pens and share their daily experiences. They: battle insects and varmints of all types; gain and lose precious pets; or deal with archaic bureaucratic systems while trying to see doctors, get drivers’ licenses or obtain other needed permits while living as foreigners and expats. Mostly, they have to try to learn another language and a new culture as they make lifetime friends along the way. But most agree that a warmer, sunnier climate is worth it all!

Lynn M.
April 8, 2023

John Wick-Chapter 4

Outside of the extensive violence and mob wars, viewers are able to see cities like Paris and Berlin from the underbelly in the John Wick, Chapter 4 movie. It was my first viewing of the Wick franchise with Keanu Reeves, but seeing Paris at night with the grisly happenings outside of Sacre Coeur in the wee hours of the morning along with the radio dee-jay stationed in the Eiffel Tower, revealed the dark side of the City of Lights. We could only see her painted lips as she continually announced John Wick’s movements as he battled the forces of the High Table, a crime organization.

At one point in the movie, we viewed high-fashioned partygoers in an elite venue in Berlin who continued to dance in spite of the kicks, punches and fights until it became too much for them. Eventually, they raced and scattered to their expensive cars and let the fighters have the place.

Of course, John Wick seemed to be invincible as he kicked and chopped his way through multiple scenes which reminded me of the 70’s song, Kung-Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas). Wick, Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada), a Japanese hotel owner, his daughter and his many henchmen took me back to the Bruce Lee days. They used swords, machetes and other weapons as they operated as killing machines trying to protect Shimazu’s Osaka hotel.

The sightless Caine (Donnie Yee) almost stole the show as he navigated the terrain with a determined resolve to battle the High Table for he and his violinist daughter’s freedoms. When John appeared to be on his last leg, Caine constantly said “Get up, John,” as they tried to make it up the 300 steps to the Sacre Coeur for an appointed duel. Even the audience laughed when John kept tumbling back down the stairs while fighting, realizing that he’d have to reclimb the stairs all over again to keep his appointment.

The arch-nemesis and the Marquis of the High Table, a fanciful-dressed, mean, cowardly narcissist, (Bill Skarsgard) was so despicable that the theater audience applauded when he finally got his comeuppance. Along with him, there were both good and bad but memorable characters such Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), Tracker (Shamier Anderson) with his ‘support animal’ and the late Lance Reddick as Charon as the hotel concierge.

One take away for me, other than the vicarious visits to New York City; Paris, France; Osaka, Japan and Berlin, Germany were the thought-provoking words of Winston (Ian McShane), another a hotel owner. He said repeatedly (in essence), “How you do things is how you do things.”  I reflected later and thought of people who operate in a well-planned manner; those who do things sloppily for others to clean up and those who have no memory of their atrocities as a way of taking no responsibility for their actions.

This almost three-hour movie is a great way to see picturesque world class cities though it is quite bloody and gory. It’s worth the ticket to escape the real happenings of 2023 and a way to discover what happens to the incomparable, black-clad John Wick.

Lynn M.
March 31, 2023