So, I Got These Chickens…

I’ve been trying to do the A to Z Blog Challenge, but between work and getting the garden planted, I’ve been a little busy!!
Aaannnd, I got these chickens…


It seemed like a great idea, nice pets, fresh eggs, but darn if they haven’t sucked the last of the free time out of my life.
They were cute little peeps at week one, but you need to keep one-week-old chicks at 95 degrees, so I checked the temperature every hour for the first week.














By two weeks, I relaxed on the temperature a bit. They were very healthy. They were growing the cutest little feathers on their wings. Adorable!


They were eating more, and you know what that means…pooping more, so I cleaned out their “box” at least twice. We also began putting their coop together outside, deciding where to put their run and how to predator proof it.










By week three, they were jumping on top of their water container and occasionally knocking it over. Wet chick bedding is NOT a good smell, and of course, the bottom of the box got soaked. I dumped all the Christmas items out of my gigantic Christmas tote and moved the chicks in there. While moving them, I let them play in a cat litter box filled with peat moss. They love to flop around in there and take a dust bath. By the time the tote was ready for them, they had the entire guest bathroom covered with peat moss.










Week four began a race to the finish. They were quickly outgrowing their tote, and since they didn’t have all their feathers yet, they were looking like awkward teenagers. Without all their feathers, it’s not safe for them to live outside. The nights would be too chilly for them, and besides, the coop wasn’t finished.














Week five. The coop was ready and they were almost completely feathered, but the nights were still cold, so I took them one-by-one out to the coop during the day and one-by-one back into the house at night. There was some serious squawking going on. When they were inside, they wanted to be out. When they were outside, they wanted to be in.


Week six. Yay! Finally getting these chickens out of my kitchen. They are feathered. The nights are balmy. The Christmas tote has been washed out and disinfected and the Christmas items replaced. The coop is finished and officially named the “Taj MaHen.”


Now if we can just get the dogs to relax…

Dante Cicchetti 1924-2017

I usually write about my own blood family, but today is a special day. Today I am attending the memorial service of my husband’s grandfather.

dante cicchetti with great grandson alex jackDante Cicchetti (pronounced Seh-KEH-tee) was born 7 Dec 1920 in Italy. He was the third child of Nicholos Cicchetti and Maria Leonarda Scarlato. He had an older sister and an older brother. Following him was a girl born in June of 1924, and 11 Oct of the same year, the family landed on the shores of America in New York.

Through the early 1900s, many Italians were not treated well in Italy. I won’t go into the gory details, but they were used, starved, women were raped, men suffered, and most were desperate to escape. They did anything they could to scrape up enough money to book passage to America. America was in the middle of an industrial boom and needed laborers. Hardworking, desperate Italians fit this bill.

Not all were happy about the Italian boom. In the 1911 Dillingham report, propaganda reigned supreme, and most of the crime was blamed on Italians. This led to the Immigration Act of 1924 which barred most Italians from entering the country. I’m not sure how the Cicchetti family even got into the country, but standing by my husband’s side at his grandfather’s mass, I’m glad they did.

Following their arrival, the family found their way to Michigan and took up residence in the Detroit area. This is where Dante’s youngest sister was born in 1927.

In 1940, Dante served in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. He spent time in the Philippines and in Bermuda, among other places. I remember looking through the old photographs that line the walls at the Royal Naval Dockyard Museum in Bermuda, searching for his face, but I wouldn’t know a 20-year-old grandpa if I saw him.

bettylee joyce stewart and dante cicchettiDante married Bettylee Joyce Stewart 19 Sep 1942 and had five daughters and one son. The following decades saw his family expand to a host of in-laws, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Dante and Bettylee traveled the world, they wintered in Florida, and they were by each other’s side for 66 years.


In 2008, he lost his bride and he was never the same. He missed her deeply and kept himself busy taking care of his home. Until the last few months of his life, he lived alone in his house, shoveling his snow, tending his garden, cutting his grass, and cleaning his gutters. Imagine the frustration of family members arriving at his house and finding 92-year-old grandpa on the ladder again.

He was an entertaining gent with tons of stories of his Italian family, raising his children, and traveling around the world.

He died 31 Dec 2017 following complications of surgery while repairing his broken hip. I’m surprised he didn’t break it many times before while climbing ladders.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. We love you.

cicchetti dante dog tag usn

Everything I Need to Know, I’ve Learned from SpongeBob

Every morning I get ready for work while listening to SpongeBob playing on the television in the other room. No, I don’t have little kids. I turn it on for my dogs. Hush. Dogs like TV.


(SpongeBob SquarePants image property of Nickelodeon)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m in love with that square little piece of sunshine, and I’ve learned quite a bit from him. I think I may have zeroed in on everything one needs to know to be happy in this lifetime from that crabby-patty-flippin’ sponge.

If you’ve never watched the show, do yourself a favor and tune it. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Wake each day with a smile on your face.
  2. Find a job you love to do and do it to the best of your ability.
  3. Have a very good friend, preferably one who lives next door.
  4. Have a pet. It makes life so much better.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Don’t feed into other’s negativity.
  7. Don’t believe what others say about you, even when they say it to your face.
  8. Always be kind.

I think that sums it up! Life according to SpongeBob. Have a lovely day, my friends!

(SpongeBob SquarePants show cast from Nickelodeon)



Mother’s Day Gratefulness

I read a blog yesterday written by a woman who was condemning Mother’s Day. She said it makes women who are not mothers feel bad. She also said she’s raising her son to not observe Mother’s Day because she doesn’t want him to feel obligated to buy her anything.

First, I think the woman is a gigantic twit. What about all the other kids making special construction-paper gifts at school for their moms? Is he supposed to sit in the corner and not make one, because she doesn’t want a gift? She’s obviously got emotional problems that need to be addressed, and she’s teaching her son to be ungrateful. If we’re not grateful for what we have in our lives, then we are doomed to be chronically unhappy. Perhaps he can find another nurturer to give his dandelion bouquet to.

lambSecond, there are also maturity issues here because Mother’s Day is not about buying gifts or getting gifts. It’s about giving. It’s also not about being a biological mother and feeling bad if you’re not one. It’s about thanking the person who nurtured you, who pointed you in the right direction, who loved you unconditionally. Hopefully, we all have someone who did that for us.


From a mother’s viewpoint, raising children (even furry ones) is not an easy job. It’s often painful and sometimes feels futile, but we do it. Do you know why we do it? Because we love. And love is the most important thing on the Earth. I don’t expect or need anything from my family in return, but I know what they will do on Mother’s Day. My daughter will send flowers and/or chocolate-covered something because she knows I love chocolate. My son will call late in the day and claim he forgot it was Mother’s Day. He will simply say, “I love you.” I raised them. I know what they’re like. My husband will buy me something to show he’s thankful for the way I raised the kids. Obviously I’m not his mother, but he’s showing his gratitude. I don’t need anything from them, but the moments of acknowledgement are sweet. They tell me the pain and futility of the job was worth it.


lionBack to the woman’s blog. If you haven’t done that painful job, why would you feel bad when other women who have done the job get special treatment and you don’t? Doesn’t make sense. The holiday is not about getting, remember? Get off your immature, egocentric horse, and go find someone to be nice to. Buy them a flower. Give them a hug. Call them late in the day and claim you forgot it was Mother’s Day but you just wanted to say, “I love you.”


Sure, some people, like me, don’t have a mother any more. Some mothers have lost children and grieve them on Mother’s Day. Some people have mothers who they wished they didn’t have. No one’s life is perfect. But, that’s no reason to squash the love that comes out on Mother’s Day.

To all you nurturers out there in the blogosphere – Thank you for loving someone and making the world a better place. Happy Mother’s Day!



The Right to Free Speech vs. the Right to Not be Offended

The Right to Free Speech vs. the Right to Not be Offended

First… The right to free speech is a constitution right. The right to not be offended does not exist. There are limits to free speech such as lies (yelling “fire” when there is none), derogatory statements about race or gender (which can be construed as hate speech), using obscenities on the radio and tv, and a few more you can look up yourself.

Being an author, a blogger, and an artist, I’m strongly attached to this issue. There is an important discussion going on in this country regarding our right to free speech, and many organizations are circling the wagons, but there seems to be some major confusion between “recognizing bad taste” and “being deeply offended.” There was recently an incident of a satirist being accused of sexual harassment  over a college newspaper article published on April Fool’s Day that stated a new college building was being constructed in the shape of a vagina. The charges were brought about by one person, the Coordinator of Women’s and Gender Studies, because she was offended. Apparently, she was also ignorant that it was April Fool’s Day and does not recognize satire. Maybe the article was in bad taste, maybe not. I didn’t read it. But being offended by a satirical piece is a choice, keeping in mine that satire is supposed to be offensive. That’s the whole point. When did America become a place where we have to edit everything we say and write so as to not offend anyone? By the way, that’s impossible. I eat meat. The vegans are livid. I don’t drink coffee. Starbucks just lost their minds.

There is no constitutional right to not be offended. Being a blonde, female, mother, I could be offended by dumb-blonde comments. I could be offended by bad women driver posts. I could be offended by Yo Momma jokes. Being a survivor of abuse, I could be offended by people sticking up for the perpetrator in the recent Duggar scandal, but it’s a waste of my time and energy to allow myself to be offended by someone’s opinion. Some topics such as race, politics, religion, etc. run deeper than hair color or driving habits, but it’s still a waste of your time to be offended by someone’s comment, article, blog, joke, satire, or Facebook post. You have to learn to recognize the difference between opinions, trolls, ignorance, hate speech, and plain ole bad taste.

The silent majority

On the side of simply having a difference of opinion, how many of us remain silent in the face of ignorance or bad taste because we know we’ll be pummeled by nasty remarks from the other side. Are we intentionally and willingly giving up our right to free speech out of fear? What are we afraid of? I’ll tell you what we’re afraid of—there is no longer civil conversation in this country, no debate, no respect. Our problem isn’t speech, it’s lack of respect. How far can disagreements spiral downwards? Arguments, throwing fists, death threats? Why can’t we listen? Why can’t we agree to disagree?

Two distinct issues

I think there are two distinct issues here. The first is the illusion that you have a right to not be offended. There is no such right. If you’re offended, it’s your choice. I play an adult burlesque-ish dueling piano show. I always tell my audience that our job is to offend everyone throughout the night and if they haven’t been properly offended by the end of the show, come talk to one of us in person and we’ll be happy to offend them face-to-face. I’ve never had anyone leave the show or talk to us afterwards. They laugh. They don’t take offense. It’s their choice.

The second issue is the lack of respectful discussion in our culture. Many would rather be right than be nice, and many of us would rather unfriend you than offer our opinions and spark your rage. Is that a problem of lack of respect or of fear or both? Do I allow my fear of your anger to squash my right to free speech? Is it okay that I give you that power? Does your lack of respect give you more rights than me?


The same answer applies to both issues…be respectful.

From a communication standpoint: Speak, write, show the slightest bit of taste and respect in your ideas. There is a difference between trying to instigate anger and insulting people when they disagree and creating a thoughtful open dialog with respectful and honest communication.

From a receptive standpoint: Be open to other’s thoughts; perhaps you can learn something. Stop labeling and judging, and certainly don’t slam people when they represent an alternative idea. When did we start labeling groups with the sole intent on squashing them? When did our culture shift from meaningful debate to us vs. them? There is no us or them, and we are all members of the same group…human.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2a2It’s Monday! What are you reading? Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. Yes, I know this is a day late. Thanks for catching that and letting me know. 🙂

This week I read a book called

“Love Well: Living Life Unrehearsed and Unstuck”

by Jamie George.


I’ve heard Jamie speak many times as he is the pastor at a church near my house, and I attend his Sunday services when I’m in town. The man can tell a good story. He brings Bible stories to life as I’ve never heard before, and he often has brilliant insights on life and love, so I was so excited to read his new book.

If you are in need of a new way to frame your thinking, or in a rocky relationship, or simply looking for ways to improve your life, you will love this book. I’ve been exposed to “New Thought” ideas for a long, long time, so I didn’t find anything particularly mind-blowing in this book, but there were a few things that struck me and stuck with me.

One thing he said, and I’m paraphrasing, was that if you ask someone to tell you their story, beginning with a moment in their life that radically changed their path, you will always hear a moment of light, of awe, of wonder. No matter how horrid or sad or tragic their story begins, they will always mention that flash of redemption – the moment they realized their bad situation created a positive result they never expected and certainly didn’t see at the time. I’ve been experimenting on friends and family without their knowledge. Yes, no matter what their story, it always has a bright light at the end. They say things like, “But if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Let them talk and wait for it. It always comes. Wow! If nothing else, it’s good to know that things usual turn out for the best, and if this is so, we can relax, knowing we will see the redemption in our situation eventually. Just realizing that takes the stress level down a notch.

I adore Jamie George. Check him out.

Jamie’s website – click here.

Journey Church Franklin – click here – where you can listen to Jamie’s podcasts.

Amazon link – click here.

National “I Am In Control” Day – No, really.

I-am-in-Control-Day-744938It’s coming quick. Do something. March 30th is National “I am in Control” Day.

It commemorates the date in 1981 when Secretary of State Alexander Haig said, “I am in control here,” in response to an interview regarding the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Take control. Put your foot down. Show people you mean business.


Well, how in the world can I do that, you ask? Let’s start with the outside stuff.

1. Make sure your clocks are set accurately.

2. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors, flashlights, remotes, clocks.

3. Fix those dumb things in your life that you tend to ignore – the burnt out lightbulb in the closet, the loose doorknob in the garage, the broken tile in the kitchen, the non-working blinker on your car.

4. Make appointments for those things you neglect – the dentist, the financial planner, the mammogram.

5. Organize those little places that never get organized – the medicine cabinet, the glove box, the junk drawer.

6. Call the people who are important to you and schedule time to see them. It doesn’t need to be a 10-day vacation together. Everyone eats dinner. Eat at the same place.

7. Finish this list. Only you know what things in your life need attention.


Now, let’s move on to inside stuff.

1. People can insult, belittle, upset, offend you ONLY if you allow them to. Their actions and words say  a lot more about them than about you. You are an amazing child of the universe and you ROCK! Blow it off, let it go, pay no attention.

2. If there is something bothering you, fix it. Do you need to apologize? Do it. Do you need to set some boundaries? Set them. (Realize you’ll probably need to set them over and over because not everyone will like your new rules, but they’ll get used to it. Stick to your guns. You’re in control, remember?)

3. If you can’t fix it, search your soul to find a way to be at peace with it. People live happy lives despite their circumstances. Be one of those people.

4. Only you know what number 4 is. Do that.

It’s YOUR life! Do what you need to do to be able to say “I am in control.” March 30th is coming up fast!

186 years doesn’t make any difference

186 years doesn’t make any difference

March 17th is my 3rd great grandmother’s birthday. She was born in 1828. Her name was Mary Ann. In 1862/63 during the Civil War, she lost her husband and three brothers to war, both her parents and her 1-year-old son to typhoid, and a host of other family members to one or the other. The total death count in the family over a one-year period was seventeen. She was 35.

In 1923, my great grandmother, Eula, lost her baby girl to pneumonia. That was the same year she lost her father and her sister, and the same year her husband was sent to prison for shooting down a man in a gunfight over a moonshine still. She was 25.

February 24, 2014, after a four-year battle, my daughter lost her fiancé to cancer. She’s 28.

Driving back and forth to the hospital, we spoke about Mary Ann and Eula and their ages during those horrific times, and she said it must be some kind of curse on the women of our family.

I don’t think so.

As her fiancé took his last breath, it was only she, I, and his mother at his bedside. As usual, it was the women who held the dying and kept the rest of the world from caving in. When Mary Ann’s brother died of typhoid, it was she who took in his children and raised them. She was a women who remained steadfast in the face of despair. When Eula’s husband was sent to prison, it was she who raised the other children and took care of the farm. She was a woman who stood strong in the eye of the storm and saw the family through.

I think the women of our family are the rocks. We are the ones who carry the weight for everyone else. There is no curse. There are only miracles, and we are the ones who perform them.

Happy birthday to our grandma Mary Ann. Thank you for teaching us to be strong.


October Ancestry Challenge – How far back can you go?

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 is 23 posts in 23 days (Monday through Friday) about 23 ancestors.

We’re ending week two!

Ancestor #8 – Zachariah Prickett

How far back can you go?

I’ve traced my roots so far back, there is some evidence that I am descended from King Charlemagne. The cool thing about that is his family is traced very accurately back to sometime in — wait for it — BC.  Yes, Before Christ. Yes, a really, really long time ago.

But as far as my American roots go, as far as I can tell, I am a 13th generation American.

Most of my family came to America from England in the 1600s, and they all seem to have migrated south in the 1800s when the U.S. Government started selling off large plots of land to get the country settled. Someday I’ll sit down and figure out the exact numbers of generations and how far back each go, but when you get up to your 10th greats, there are 2048 of them!!! I just don’t have that kind of time.

I have a lot of 10th, 11th, and 12th generation American ancestors, including a 12th generation on my dad’s Crane side. My 9th great grandpa John Weldon’s (1626-1711 Massachusetts) great grandson’s granddaughter, Mary Polly Weldon, married Jeremiah Crane in 1801. They were my 4th greats.

But the farthest back I can trace my American roots is on my mom’s side. He was my 13th generation, 10th great grandpa Zachariah Prickett, born in Burlington County, New Jersey in the mid to late 1600s. Burlington County is just east of Philadelphia, south of Trenton, northwest of Atlantic City.

Zachariah married a woman named Ellipha in 1699 and had at least four children: John, Zachariah Jr, Hannah, and Elizabeth.

The line from Zachariah to me is:

13. Zachariah Prickett

12. John Prickett

11. Capt Jacob Prickett. prickett Capt Jacob Prickett home built 1781 Fairmont, WVThis was his home built in 1781. It was located just past Prickett’s Fort State Park in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was destroyed by arsonists on March 7, 2005. Jacob was a Revolutionary War soldier. prickett Jacob Prickett II headstone

10. Josiah Prickett

9. Sarah “Sally” Prickett, who married William Howington

8. Herod Howington

7. Nimrod Howington

howington James C Howington Headstone6. James C Howington – Civil War soldier <<<

5. John Thomas Howington









burke JP and Mary howington

4. Mary Elizabeth Howington who married John Patrick “Pat” Burke <<<

3. Ina Inez Burke (Ancestor #7) who married Earl Wilmar Culpepper







Momma2. Linda Faye Culpepper, my mother <<< who married my daddy, Andrew Frank Crane V V VDaddy

crane lori baby1. and…..ME!

October Ancestry Challenge – Ina Inez Burke Culpepper

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 is 23 posts in 23 days (Monday through Friday) about 23 ancestors.

We’re in week two!

Ancestor #7 – Ina Inez Burke Culpepper

My maternal grandmother Ina Inez Burke Culpepper.



burke ina and gdaughter loriI called her Mamaw. That’s her holding me in 1966.

She was born Feb 8, 1915 to John Patrick “Pat” Burke and Mary Elizabeth Howington and was the eldest of seven children. The family always thought there were six children total until last year when I visited the family cemetery and found a headstone for Rudolph Owen Burke 1916-1917. I researched all her dad’s brothers and her brothers, but none of their ages fit to have a child born in 1916 except her parents. Also, the middle names of all her brothers were Otho, Otis, and Olen, so Owen seems to fit in there nicely.

culpepper earl and ina in front of carMamaw married Earl Wilmar Culpepper on August 1, 1936 at the age of 21. They live a quiet life in and around Meridian, Mississippi and had two daughters, one being my mother. She worked as a seamstress and could sew anything by looking at it in the store for a few minutes. I’m positive she made the dress she’s wearing. If she were young today, I’d make her go on “Project Runway.”

Burke, ina inez obitShe died following open heart surgery in 1975 at the age of 60. She came out of the surgery just fine, but no one told her to NOT take aspirin once she got home. I guess in those days, when you were in pain, you popped aspirin. She awoke unable to breathe and my grandfather said her neck was swollen and black and blue. She died of “complications of aortic valve replacement/respiratory arrest/laryngeal hemorrhage and edema/anticoagulation.”






burke Ina Inez Burke headstoneShe is buried with her husband, parents, and paternal grandparents at a little cemetery in the middle of nowhere in Newton County, Mississippi – Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery.





The best part of the story:

culpepper annie blanks culpepper obitI couldn’t trace her mother’s family, the Howingtons. Her mother (my great grandmother) Mary Howington Burke was a brick wall for a long time. One day, I saw an obituary for her husband Earl’s mother (yes, my other great grandmother Annie Culpepper – Ancestor #1 blog). It said Annie was survived by a daughter named Mae Howington. I knew my grandfather’s little sister was Zeffie Mae, but who was this Howington she was married to?

Turns out, it was the man I always knew as Uncle Sug (as in Sugar). Melton “Sug” Howington was Mary Howington’s little brother. Mamaw’s uncle.  Since he was married to Earl’s little sister, that also made him my mother’s uncle. Long story short, I traced Melton and found the whole Howington clan! Yay!

So, in closing, I just want to tell you that what they say about the south is true, and it is possible I’m my own cousin!