Teamwork Friday, Jun 2 2023 

You look that way, and I’ll look here,  

stretching our necks out far and near.

Peering high. Peering low.

Spotting friend. Spotting foe.

How well we work together, Dear.


*Photo: Pond Slider Turtles

**Inspired Caregiving. Weekly Morale Builders Available from Amazon and ACTA Publications.

Saturday, May 27 2023 

“Memory is essential to our well-being, but why do we forget so much as we grow older? For some, it is a challenge to recall all but the most significant events and details. And even the events that once defined us fade away. In later stages of Alzheimer’s, many do not even know their own name. They live purely in the moment. The past is left behind bit by bit, and the future is of no concern whatsoever.

Perhaps this is all part of the spiritual lesson we learn from God’s name. God said his name is “I Am.” God did not call himself, “I Was” or “I Will Be.” God’s name is of the present, the now. This is a curious point to ponder. If God’s concerns are with the present moment only, we simply need to concern ourselves with our current thoughts and actions. Fretting over what did happen, or what may happen, should not be on our radar. The time to think and act is now.” (Excerpt from Young in the Spirit)

Religious Tradition of First Holy Communion Wednesday, May 24 2023 

First Holy Communions are a big deal for Catholics. We dress in our Sunday best, attend Mass together as a family so we can witness our little one receiving the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time, and celebrate with good food and photos.

Traditionally, this momentous occasion occurs in the spring. My family just celebrated my granddaughter, Isabella’s, First Holy Communion in April and my grandson, Nathan’s, this month.

Following are First Holy Communion photos through six generations of my family from my great grandmother through to Nathan. I thought you might enjoy seeing these photos. Noted in parenthesis are the girls’ married names.

My maternal great grandmother, Clara Birnbaum (Hilleman). Don’t you love the crown?

My maternal grandmother, Florence Hilleman (McCarthy), with her sister, Louise, 1921.

My paternal grandmother, Rose Marie Marine (Doyle), and her mother, Maria Cuppicotto Pecho Marine. Great-grandmother, Maria’s, maiden name was Cuppicotto. That name was changed to Pecho by immigration in America. Note Great-grandma’s jewelry. It was the only piece she owned, a simple brass pendant which was passed down to me.

My father, John Doyle.

My mother, Patricia McCarthy (Doyle), 1937.

My sister, Patti; me/Mary; brother, John; and baby sister, Margaret, 1962.

My daughter, Lisa, 1984. I made Lisa’s dress and veil. I used the netting from my wedding veil for her veil.

Four generations – Me/Mary; my mother, Patricia; my grandmother, Florence, and daughter, Lisa, on Lisa’s First Communion Day, 1984

My daughter, Erin, wearing the same dress and veil that Lisa did, 1987.

Four generations

Back row: My grandmother, Florence; me/Mary; my ex-husband, Sam; my mother, Patricia; my father John,

Front row: My son, Joseph; daughter, Erin; daughter, Lisa,1987.

My son, Joseph, and our pastor, 1990.

My son Joseph, 1990. Joey wanted to wear a white suit. He thought he was so grown-up.

My grandson, Daniel, with his pastor and parish priest, 2021.

My grandson, Daniel, 2021. What a handsome guy.

My grandson, Tyler. 2021. Doesn’t he look relaxed with his hands in his pockets?

Family that could “attend” Tyler’s First Communion in a COVID year. We watched mass on our phones in the church parking lot.

Back row: My brother-in-law, Parke; boyfriend, Paul; me/Mary; daughter, Erin; son-in-law, Steve; ex-husband, Sam; daughter, Lisa; daughter-in-law, Ashley; son, Joseph.

Front row: Grandchildren, Isabella and Tyler. 2021.

My granddaughter, Isabella, 2023. What a sweet, little angel.

My granddaughter, Isabella, 2023.

And finally, my grandson, Nathan, 2023.

My grandson, Nathan, 2023. Throughout the day, Nathan said he felt blessed.

***Have you read, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, Grieving with Mary, Young in the Spirit, or Fatima at 100. Fatima Today?

Update on New Book Wednesday, May 17 2023 

If you’ve been following my posts, you know there have been a series on my upcoming book, Tranquility. Transformation. Transcendence. (See the posts “Patience in Publishing,” “Sell Sheet. The First Marketing Piece of a New Book,” and “The Birth of a Book.”) The book was expected to be available the first week of May. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered another delay.

The books were printed on time. However, when they arrived, my publisher and I agreed that the photos weren’t as vibrant as we want them to be. The photos are an important part of this gift book as they are paired with each poem and together are to promote the essence of the title–Tranquility. Transformation. Transcendence.

When printing photos, we have numerous decisions. The weight, texture, and finish of the paper, in addition to the type of press and whether ink or tuner is used, are all to be considered. The POD (Print on Demand) samples we ordered were run on an offset press with toner. The actual printing was run on a printing press with ink, which is why the photos on the samples were vivid while those on the regular press, were not.

Toner sits on top of paper while ink soaks in a bit. How much the ink soaks into the paper depends on its weight and finish.

I take numerous photos and have found that the finish can change the look of the photo considerably. Here you see samples of finishes on photo paper. I ordered the same photo with all the options available on Mpix, a site I use for photo prints, so that I could clearly see the differences. The choice of what the photographer wishes to accent and the mood to be set is mostly based on preference.

The printer, my publisher, and I discussed our different options and settled on another plan–heavier paper and a glossy finish. My book is being reprinted and should be in hand in a couple of weeks. Of course, the delay is disappointing, but I’m more concerned with this book being perfectly beautiful than released earlier than the time it takes to make it right. You can preorder the Tranquility. Transformation. Transcendence from the publisher, ACTA Publications.

Elmer, the Songster Wren Monday, May 15 2023 

Once upon a time, in a far western suburb of Chicago, there was a little blue shingled house. In the spring of ’23, Elmer Wren chose this site for the family he wished to nurture.

Elmer decorated the interior with long twigs in hopes of showing off his design and manly skills. Each twig was carefully selected.

No matter the challenge, Elmer worked until he mastered his plan.

Once completed to his satisfaction, Elmer sang. Morning, noon, and evening he called to the ladies inviting them to check out the beautiful home he’d chosen and prepared.

Females randomly stopped by to peak in. One actually tossed some of his décor out the door. But as yet, there are no takers.

How long must Elmer sing?

Will Elmer win over a special lady to finish off his nest?

Will anyone want to raise a family with this handsome guy?

Stay tuned for further updates.

**Faith changes with age. As we encounter health issues, loss of loved ones, and the challenges of this very busy world, we typically grow closer to our God. Read Young in the Spirit for ways to build on our faith and how our relationship with the divine aids our aging process.

One Gold Band. Twenty TONS of Waste. Thursday, May 11 2023 

We do love our luxuries and conveniences. Gold, silver, diamonds, and precious jewels make us feel sophisticated, elegant, and important. But how many of us are aware of the impact our adornments have on our planet and the people who live in the areas in which they are mined?

Until recently, I had no idea. One of the blogs that I follow by Barbara Crane Navarro has opened my eyes, and now I realize how much my jewelry has hurt people and our planet.

Most everyone owns at least one piece of gold jewelry, and yet, gold mining is one of the most destructive industries in the world. The process displaces communities, contaminates land and waterways with mercury and cyanide, and causes injuries to workers. The national organization, Earthworks, states on their website that the production of one gold wedding band generates 20 tons of waste from digging and processing the ore.

All mining is damaging, but gold mining is particularly so because it uses a process called heap leaching which includes dripping a cyanide solution through huge piles of ore. This solution strips away the gold for collection and leaves behind 99.99% of what’s mined in piles that are nearly 300 feet high of toxic waste. Surrounding ground water also is contaminated with the cyanide and other dangerous chemicals.

Tailings dams are constructed to retain mine waste. However, according to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) there have been more than 221 major tailings dam failures. These failures displace people and contaminate the waters causing death to humanity and wildlife. And shamefully, out of the more than 2,000 major mining companies in the world, only one, BHP Billiton, is taking steps to avoid catastrophic destruction.

Metal mining is destroying beautiful habitats in countries such as Miramar, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic as well as our own United States. In fact, Metal mining was the number one toxic polluter in the U.S. in 2010 releasing arsenic, mercury, and lead.

You can find out more about the destruction caused by mining from Earthworks and Barbara Crane Navarro’s blogs.

***Want to help a friend caring for someone with dementia? Offer them the books Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Inspired Caregiving for solid guidance, shared experiences, and inspiration.

Adaptability Sunday, May 7 2023 

Amazing how adaptable we are

rooting down firmly,

bending with the wind,

reaching for the sun,

and soaking up rain    

regardless of storms

rumbling thunder,                    

lightning strikes,

biting northern temps,

and mounting snowfall.

Our battle wounds are signs of victory

revealing our strength,

noting our journey,

showing tolerance

and the power of survival.

(Evergreen Tree, Lake Superior, 7/4/21)

Do You Want Peace in Your Heart and the World? Wednesday, May 3 2023 

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story—one that is suspenseful, intriguing, and mystical? Well, I have one for you that in addition to all of that, amazingly offers the answer to peace within your heart and the world.

On October 13, 2017, in Fatima, Portugal an audience of more than 70,000 people including journalists and photographers witnessed an extraordinary occurrence. Witnesses stated that on that day, the soaking rain was pouring and suddenly, as if a switch was flicked, abruptly ceased. The sun then appeared to zig zag across the sky, soared dangerously close to earth, and then jumped back up to where it belongs. Some witnesses said that in addition, multicolored lights flashed across them. In the end, the mud and puddles, as well as their clothes, were completely dry.  

Just prior to all of this, beginning on May 13, 1917, Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared monthly to three children—Lucia Dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Mary told the children about ways in which the world could become more peaceful. She also promised to provide a sign that following October so that all would believe the messages she was giving the children. Those signs were indeed extraordinary and unexplainable as many of the witnesses did then recognize the truth in Mary’s words. Many people also claimed to have received personal miracles.

The dramatic and mystifying manifestations were intended to draw attention to the heart of the messages Mary brought to the three young visionaries which was for all of us to strive for a stronger relationship with God. At that time, the world was at war (WWI), and Mary warned that if people didn’t change their ways, a greater war would result. We know, in fact, that a greater war (WWII) did occur resulting in the loss of more lives and destruction.

Mary’s plan is simple but effective. Basically, it is to pray all day, every day, and in particular, to pray the rosary. Prayer is a conversation with the Lord, and the more we connect with God, the stronger our relationship will be. The rosary is particularly powerful because it centers on Christ. Through these prayers, God becomes at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. We see God in everyone and everything and therefore become beacons of love, light, generosity, and compassion, which can only result in peace.

From the state of the world, we know we have not followed Mary’s guidance. A century later, and we are no more peaceful. If peace is important to us, we need to do our part to make it happen.

For more information on Mary and her peace plan read:

Fatima at 100. Fatima Today, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, and Grieving with Mary 

(Fatima at 100. Fatima Today is available from ACTA Publications and my website. The Rosary Prayer by Prayer and Grieving with Mary are available from ACTA, and my website.)

Patience in Publishing Thursday, Apr 27 2023 

First draft, second draft, third draft . . . Check. Editing back and forth. Check. Book layout and cover design. Check. Marketing materials including sell sheet, bookmark, and updated business card. Check.

Patience. Patience. Patience. The process of book publishing and all of its necessary steps can be agonizingly slow. Often, there are hitches all along the way.

We begin to write a book focusing on one thing, or thinking that it will look one way, only to find the story leading in a different direction or appearing in a way that isn’t quite what we envisioned. I believe it is best to go with the flow–to allow creativity to direct me rather than hold firm onto my initial vision. I also trust my publisher, which means I must be open to completely scrapping my work and investing much more time in the project.

Have you ever walked a labyrinth and felt that you were nearing the center only to realize you still have a long way to go? That’s how the publishing process feels to me. We move forward, and then take steps back with a new revelation, rewrite, or reformat. As writers pass on the manuscript to an editor, that editor passes it on to another editor, the designer begins formatting the manuscript, and the publisher oversees the entire project, new ideas and revelations, inconsistencies, and grammatical and punctuation errors become obvious. And once again, the work must be carefully read through and corrected.

My upcoming book, Tranquility. Transformation. Transcendence, was reformatted several times over the last three years. Each revision took me backwards by several months. My editor and publisher, Greg Pierce, has decades of experience and wisdom, and what he asked me to do with this book has brought it from a good to an excellent book. For example, I originally had poems and photos from numerous areas. Greg had me narrow the focus to three public gardens for a more cohesive flow.

He’s also great at identifying areas in my writing or formatting that aren’t consistent, such as with capitalization in photo descriptions. That’s when we go back and search for changes that need to be made.

At this point, the sell sheet, bookmark, and updated business card are completed. Tranquility. Transformation. Transcendence is at the printer. So, the wait is on seeing web designers upload the book info to Amazon, ACTA Publications, and my website and the books to be delivered to my door. The closer it all comes to fruition, the more anxious I become to hold that new book in my hands—and then show it to you!

***If you’ve read any of my books, please write a short review on Amazon. I’d greatly appreciate it.

Spring in Cantigny Park Thursday, Apr 20 2023 

Yesterday was cool and sunny here in the Chicago area. I took a refreshing and rejuvenating walk through one of my favorite parks, Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois. Spring has definitely sprung there. I hope these photos, including the one above of Lenten roses, brighten your day.

Looks like it’s already time to cut the grass!

Redbuds are a sure sign of spring.

Tulips are just beginning to open.

Daffidols always look happy to me.

Bright, sunny, yellow tulips are in abundance.

This garden has a regal feel.

This photo of the archway with the flowering trees ahead is one of my favorites.

Doesn’t this garden look like something you’d find on palace grounds?

I wouldn’t have planted orange and red together, but the color combination is beautiful.

Magnoli flowers blossom before we see the tree’s leaves.

Sometimes, the most striking photo can be of one single item.

***To pre-order my newest book, Tranquility. Transcendence. Transformation. The Enchanting Promises of Public Gardens, call ACTA Publications at 800-397-2282 or contact them at You can also contact me at

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