All posts by loristory

About loristory

I am a mother, grandmother, and school psychologist/writer. I dabble in photography and music. I'm a big fan of Rosa Parks and Fred Rogers. I also like Steve Martin, Doc Martin, and my Martin guitar. I like binge-watching The West Wing, and eating chicken wings. I'm a little bit complicated.

Happy 9th Birthday, Maya

Maya (formerly Trundoe) is one of 39 dogs (plus 1 cat) who were removed from a Tucson home in 2020. It was on the news. 

When the dogs arrived at the animal shelter, they were dirty, matted, and probably hungry. Some had worn down teeth caused by chewing on their metal crates. At least one had serious eye problems. After being washed, shaved, spayed, neutered, and microchipped (and some teeth pulled), they were all put up for adoption.

The house was ultimately condemned.

I’d been looking for a dog. One day, the shelter called and said they might have a good match. “She’s small and cute,” they said. I’d wanted a medium-sized dog, but I decided to meet her anyway. Best decision of my life.

At the shelter, I sat on a couch and waited for Maya to be brought in to meet me. “She didn’t really want to be put on the leash, so go slow,” the animal care technician told me. Maya promptly jumped up on the couch, held out her paw, and coyly placed it on my hand as if to ask, “Do you come here often?” My preconceived notions about small dogs flew out the window. This one was a keeper. I brought her home the following day. Here she is that day:

It took her a bit of time to adjust. For weeks, she did little but hide under my bed. But she’s a different dog now. She’s gained 4 pounds (a good weight for her, up from her initial 12) and has now learned to walk on a leash, sit, and stay (all of which she didn’t seem to know how to do when I first got her). Sometimes she’ll even perform the combo sit/stay, but only when she’s in the right mood.

She now responds appropriately to “treat,” “food,” “bed,” “couch,” “go home,” and “inside,” so I have to assume she’s a language genius. Although it’s true that she usually plays dumb when I say “come here,” I know she understands me. How can I possibly know that? A BFF can always tell.

She still likes to hide under my bed, where she’s ripped my brand-new wool rug to shreds – but only under the bed where nobody will notice except me. (She’s a very thoughtful dog.)

And speaking of thoughtful, she observes me from a distance while I prepare her morning meal, only chowing down after I’ve started in on my own breakfast.

Maya is a night owl, napping during the day but preferring to go for walks after sunset. Her favorite thing to do in the dark is waking me up at 4 a.m with a vigorous shake of her tags. This morning it was 3 a.m. What was I saying before about her being thoughtful?

She doesn’t seem to know what toys are for, but she will chase blueberries that I roll across the floor to her. I think we’ll graduate to large blueberries next, and then perhaps cherry tomatoes. Maybe she’ll be ready for tennis balls someday.

She cried loudly the first time she rode in a car with me, convincing me that it was her maiden voyage, but she soon became my quiet, patient travel buddy as we made our epic move across 2,800 miles of highway from Arizona to New York two years ago. She never slept a wink in the car – she just stared at the back of her seat, occasionally giving me a nervous, sideways glance as if to ask, “Are we there yet?”

Her face is very expressive. She has her “I need to go out” stare, her “it’s bedtime” gaze, her “aren’t you forgetting my treat,” look, and that adorably crooked smile when she’s really enjoyed her meal.

Oh yes, she definitely smiles. I swear she even laughs! Silently, of course. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll hear her softly grunting with satisfaction as she gently removes a treat from my hand and goes scampering away with it.

Maya’s recent DNA results revealed that she’s mostly Chihuahua, poodle, and miniature Schnauzer, with 6 other breeds thrown in. But the best part about having her DNA tested was that I found a close relative – her sister (or possibly her mother), whose adoptive name is Sadie Nella Mae M’Lady Moonbeam Marshmallow Huffington (a.k.a. Say-Say). They’re a 50% match. It’s been fun comparing notes with Say-Say’s human. Both dogs are shy, sweet, nocturnal hiders-under-beds who love cuddles and treats. 

And now it’s time to take Maya for her birthday walk, if I can get her to “come here.” Happy birthday, Maya, and many more!!

The Circle of Swag

I’ve just had a “full circle” moment.

It began yesterday, when I met with Rory Fitzpatrick (Irondequoit, NY Town Supervisor) and Shannon Grieve (Irondequoit Recreation Department Director) for a congratulatory event. I was being recognized for having come up with the name for my town’s new quarterly Activity Guide/Newsletter.

I even had my picture taken, and I received a sweet “swag bag,” too, complete with a blanket, pad, pen, holiday ornament, extra bag, and not one but two water bottles. I felt like a celebrity.

The word “Irondequoit” derives from the Iroquois word “gerundegut,”
which in English means “where the land and waters meet.”

The name I’d submitted for the publication, “Eye on Irondequoit,” was one of 25 entries, and Shannon said mine was the clear winner. The town even designed a new newsletter logo to go with the name: a round lens looking out toward the Rochester Harbor Light, a local landmark where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario.

After taking my swag out of my swag bag, and reading the origin of the word “Irondequoit” that was written on the outside of the bag, I got to wondering about the origin of the word “swag.” And my search for the answer to this question eventually led me full circle, as you will see.

I found as many definitions of swag as there were items in my swag bag (seven). According to the internet, “swag” can mean:

  • the act of swaying or lurching,
  • self-confidence,
  • a style of drapery,
  • money,
  • stolen goods,
  • the shape of one’s stomach,
  • or free promotional items.

In fact, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary hails the word “swag” as one of the most “polysemous” words in the English language. I had to look up “polysemous.” It’s just another way of saying “having multiple meanings.”

To make things even more confusing, there are several different explanations for the origin of the word “swag.” It might come from:

  • Old Norse sveggja (to swing or sway);
  • Old English swingan (to swing)
  • Middle English swaggen, swagen, swoggen (probably from Old Norse — see above)
  • Norwegian svaga (to sway, swing, stagger)
  • 18th century British thieves’ slang

It might even be related to the root word swage, which had to do with the bending of cold metal, which in turn came from the French suer (to sweat).

According to the fact-checking website Snopes, the word swag has been falsely rumored to be an acronym for phrases such as:

  • Stuff We All Get
  • Stuff We Ain’t Got
  • Scientific Wild Arsed Guess
  • Souvenirs, Wearables, And Gifts
  • Sold Without A Guarantee
  • Secretly We Are Gay

Snopes also tells us that, in Australia, a swag can be a bundle of belongings, and, in addition, a large quantity of something.

I’ve read that the first written use of the word “swagger” wasn’t until the late 16th century:

Puck: “What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen?”

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM”

And, last but not least, the word “swag” has been referred to as the 2011 Hip-Hop Word of the Year.

But MY first encounter with the word “swag” was on the TV show Parks and Recreation, where my favorite character, Tom Haverford, created a business called “Rent-A-Swag.”

And as I was writing that last paragraph, I realized I’ve come full circle, because I began with my meeting with the Recreation Department Director — my own town’s version of Leslie Knope. (Parks and Recreation fans will know who she is.)

Don’t you just love it when things come full circle? And now I think I’ll go and fill up my Irondequoit Rec water bottle, grab my Irondequoit Rec blanket, and go to the park. Either that, or I’ll take my swag bag into the living room, park myself in front of the TV, and watch an old episode of Parks and Recreation.

Whoa, Daddy!

Today, I’d like to share my experiences setting up my new website, loribonati.com.

The site is hosted by a company whose name rhymes with WhoaDaddy. I’ll refer to them as WhoaDaddy for the remainder of this post, because it seems appropriate. It’s been a wild ride. In fact, I could have used some reins.

After choosing a photo and writing a blurb for my home page, my next task was to select a layout design known as a “theme.” The choices were slim, but I quickly found one I liked. It had plenty of white space, something website designers recommend.

I then went about choosing colors for my theme. Or actually, color, singular. After selecting my first color (green), I couldn’t figure out how to choose another one. 

Since I really would have preferred some accent colors, I contacted WhoaDaddy last night. That’s when things got a bit rough.

“Can I add more colors to my theme?” I asked via their chat line.

Hello, Lori. You are augustanahouston.org, right?

“No. I’ve never even heard of them. Is that a website?” (I then looked it up … it’s a church in Houston, Texas!)

Oh, my apologies. Are you loribonati.com?

“Yes.”

How can I make your day even better?

Suffice it to say that my day didn’t get better.

I needed to ask my question a number of times before I got a clear answer. First, I was told that I could add more colors by moving a simple slider across my screen toward a word that said “Colorful.” I’d already tried that, with no success, but I tried again. All that did was change light green to dark green.

The technician took control of my screen remotely. I was hopeful. 

How’s that?

The background was now pitch black. There was absolutely no white space on the screen.

“I said I wanted a variety of colors,” I said, and then, feeling the need to be really obvious, I added, “like a rainbow of colors.”

Oh, for more colors, you will need to upgrade to a different plan.

“What do these plans cost?” I wanted to know.

And I had to ask that question more than once before I was directed to another screen that showed four different plan options. They were not unlike those data plans that seem designed to confuse. There was even some sales pressure. Maybe I was just tired. But not too tired to notice that there was a two-year agreement.

Do I have to sign up for two years? I asked.

Oh, no! We do allow you to sign up for just one year if you like.

Well, why didn’t you say so, I wanted to ask. But I kept my cool.

“No thanks, I’ll just keep my current plan for now,” I said.

“That’s fine. The decision is up to you, and we respect that.”  Hmm. That wasn’t really necessary. Of course it’s my decision!

Later that night, I took another look at my site. My one and only blog post, “Shameless Wordling,” had disappeared from the site.

It was still there when I hit the “edit” button, but I couldn’t re-publish it because it said it was already published. I quickly dialed up WhoaDaddy on the chat line again.

“What happened to my blog post?” I asked.

An hours-long scenario followed, in which my blog post was located by a technician who then replaced it with one from The Food Network.

And I didn’t even like the recipes.

Please delete those food pictures asap,” I implored. At least that was taken care of quickly … or so I thought.

After that, the person on the line said she couldn’t help me further. She referred the problem to an advanced team and said it would be corrected within 24 hours.

The next morning:

I checked my site. My blog post was still in limbo, but at least I didn’t see the Food Network pictures anymore. I contacted WhoaDaddy again and was immediately transferred and placed on hold for 30 minutes, while music that I’d opted out of kept playing anyway. Someone finally came on the line, and I asked if he could locate my blog post and republish it.

Yes, I see it. It’s making me hungry!!

He was looking at the Food Network pictures.

I wondered if my post was showing up on the Food Network’s website. Maybe I’d be famous. I anticipated getting hundreds of emails inquiring about the cookbook I’m writing.

I checked my email. I’d gotten only one. It was from WhoaDaddy, and it asked me to rate the experience I’d had with the person who’d put me on hold.

I actually felt sorry for the hungry technician when I had to break it to him that those recipes weren’t mine. He sounded surprised and maybe a bit panicky, so I quickly reassured him that I still had a backup of my blog post. I could sense his palpable relief. 

Perhaps because I’d put him in a good mood, he quickly and efficiently managed to locate my missing post by checking my history, and he then restored it to my site. 

So, the bottom line is that all is well – for now, anyway.

I just hope I’m not mistaken for a church lady again. That could be a problem … or maybe a miracle, if my cookbook gets picked up by the Food Network.

Books About Food

I think this will be my last blog post for this month. After three solid weeks of writing, I’ve simply run out of things to say.

Also, I need to get back to some things I’ve been neglecting, such as reading, exercising, walking the dog, food shopping, house cleaning, and photography.

Oh, and going to bed at a decent hour.

So, for now, it’s sayonara … but before I go, since Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner, I want to leave you with some “food for thought,” as it were – a list of some of my favorite books about food. Some, like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, are about much more than just food.

Lori’s Short List of Books about Food

  • Will Write for Food (the complete guide to writing cookbooks, blogs, memoir, recipes, and more), by Dianne Jacob
  • Chocolat/The Girl with No Shadow/Peaches for Father Francis (trilogy), by Joanne Harris
  • Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell
  • Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Anne Shaffer
  • Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
  • Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
  • Last Night at the Lobster, by Stewart O’Nan
  • The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister
  • Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, by Maya Angelou

I may have more to add to this list … in December.

What are your favorite books about food?

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This is post #21 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Grandma’s Friendly Village

Oh no! I forgot to post something for Nov. 20! But in the interests of catching up FAST, I’m going to call this Nov. 21 entry #20, and will post #21 later. I hope you will forgive me for simply reblogging an old post. It’s actually post #1 from NaBloPoMo 2019. I was reminded of it today when a distant cousin mentioned the family connection on Facebook.

loristory

My grandmother Angeline was born in central Sicily, in a small village with the beautiful name “Villarosa.”

In 1910, at age 8, she emigrated from Sicily to America with her own grandmother, got married at age 16, quickly had five bambinos, and was widowed at 30. She later remarried and had a good life, but she never got to see Villarosa again.

Here she is at about age 30 (I’m guessing).

Grandma Armenia

I liked going to Grandma’s house. She always seemed cheerful, and she served us plenty of macaroni, ice cream, and raspberries, saying the word “mangia” practically as soon as we’d walked through her door. Her house was decorated with colorful starched doilies that she’d crocheted herself. I wonder if she crocheted the collar in the above photo. I have a special memory of the two of us sitting in a summer garden next to some pansies while…

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Bye Bye Birdie

Elon Musk has just announced that he’s going to reactivate Donald Trump’s Twitter account. He said he used a “poll” and let the people decide.

I call B.S. I mean, how can anything on Twitter, which is rife with fake accounts and bots, be considered a valid poll. It just shows me how naive, or how scheming, Elon Musk is.

I haven’t been a big user of Twitter. My following, if it can be called that, is miniscule. But although I am small, I do have power, because there’s power in numbers. And if everyone who is as appalled as I am about Elon Musk’s recent actions were to dump their Twitter accounts, we’d have a voice.

So tonight I’m dumping Twitter.

Here, let me tell you what I really think: I have no desire to accidentally see Trump’s face or read his stupid tweets. If I do, I may get ill, and I’ll certainly feel sullied.

In my opinion, he’s a lying, dangerous man who’s forfeited his right to free speech on Twitter, especially while running for President again.

If you need other reasons to question Musk’s judgment and trustworthiness to run a site of this magnitude and influence, consider this article by Vanity Fair, that lists 21 “terrible things Elon Musk has said and done.”

A Reminder of Just Some of the Terrible Things Elon Musk Has Said and Done

No, I don’t want a person like that to get a penny from me for any ad revenue that my being a Twitter subscriber might generate for him.

Many people are ditching Twitter and going to a site called Mastodon.

Tonight I found an article about Mastodon, and more recent nefarious actions of Elon Musk. You can read it here:

Mastodon, the Social Media Platform Everyone Is Leaving Twitter For

I don’t wish to be a silent partner to this billionaire.

Bye bye, birdie. This bird has flown.

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This is post #19 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Photo (mastodon) by Lori Bonati

Featured photo (person at computer) by ijmaki @ pixabay.com

Listening Again

Note: The following post was inspired by a writing prompt by Scott, whose website is Mental Defecation. I don’t mean that as an insult. That’s actually the name of his blog!

This month, Scott provided 30 song-related writing prompts for November. His prompt for November 18th was to write about (a) a song you love but rarely listen to, or (b) a song from the year you were born.

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I’ve decided to write about a song I love but rarely listen to. It’s one I first heard about 12 years ago, when it was performed by Oscar Fuentes, a singer-songwriter from Guadalajara who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. The piece, written by León Chávez Teixeiro, a Mexican composer of social justice songs, has a very unusual name: 15 metros, 3 pulgadas, 8 octavos, 16.

Why I Love this Song

I love its melody, its chords, the spoken part that comes in about halfway through it, the rising intensity that really takes off in the last minute, and the way my friend Oscar sings it with so much feeling. Most of all, I love the emotions it brings out in me. The song just inexplicably touches my soul. And all of that without my knowing what the song is about.

The words are sung in Spanish, and only in Spanish. As far as I know, they’ve never been translated. And even though I have a pretty good working knowledge of Spanish, I know I’m missing a whole lot here. I think the lyrics are probably like poetry … the kind of poetry whose meaning isn’t all that obvious.

By reading a few YouTube comments (in Spanish) I’ve been able to gather that it’s a letter to someone from a worker who’s been injured on a job. But I think it’s also about love, loss, pain, and maybe even corruption. And at the end, there’s an invitation to “visit me, if you remember your friend, and I’ll give you a cup of hot coffee.” I hope I have that right. I’m guessing that, since the songwriter, Teixeiro, was known for his social activism, it’s probably a political song.

But I still don’t understand the significance of the numbers (15 meters, 3 inches, 8/8, 16) that are sung only twice during the song, and that make up the song’s title. If anyone can explain the song’s meaning to me, please leave a comment below.

Why I Rarely Listen to It

The best way to hear this song, in my opinion, is to go to one of Oscar’s gigs and hear him perform it live. But since I no longer live in Tucson, that option is out.

I do have his CD, “Esto Que Ves,” which includes this song, but I just haven’t been listening to my CDs lately. Life has gotten in the way. Isn’t that sad? I’m going to have to change my ways. I’ve been missing out on so many good musical moments.

And now that I’ve found a brand new video of Oscar performing it live in his studio (yay!) I’ll be listening to it a lot more often.

What I’m Doing Right Now

Listening to Oscar singing 15 metros, 3 pulgadas, 8 octavos, 16, of course. He’s accompanied by his music partner Mark Anthony Febbo, another talented Tucson musician.

I highly recommend that you click the link below and do the same. If you do, be sure to TURN IT UP LOUD, especially toward the end.

Oscar Fuentes and Mark Anthony Febbo – Quince Metros

Yep. It still gets to me.

You can also hear a wonderful recording of the song’s composer, León Chávez Teixeiro, performing it at age 83, here (with a beautiful piano accompaniment):

León Chávez Teixeiro y Guillermo Briseño – 15 Metros

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This is post #18 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured image (girl with guitar) by Saydung89 @ pixabay.com

Bugfest at 10 p.m.

Time for another set of photos inspired by my camera. Yesterday was a slugfest. Today is a bugfest. But don’t worry. They’re only pictures!

First up is a pine white butterfly (Neophasia menapia), as seen at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. This lovely creature, also known as the pine butterfly, feeds on the needles of pine and certain fir trees when it is a caterpillar, and on nectar as an adult. This butterfly is sampling some butterfly milkweed nectar at the moment.

Next, we have another butterfly, photographed in a quiet park in Tucson, Arizona on a bright, sunny day. This one has a long name: Ministryomon janevicroy. It’s perched on an upright prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera, or Mexican hat). The Ministryomon janevicroy gets its name from the spouse (Jane Vicroy Scott) of its discoverer, Jeffrey Glassberg. I think this is my favorite butterfly because it’s so powdery white, with thin, orange, wavy lines. Its most unique feature is its OLIVE GREEN EYES. If you zoom in, you can probably see them.

Working our way from pretty to a little bit scary, we have this little bee. Or is it a wasp? I’m not sure. It’s feeding on an Echinacea flower, which is in the daisy family. You can just scroll right past it if you have a fear of bees.

And you might want to scroll past the next one, too. In fact, I recommend it. It’s a horse lubber grasshopper (Taeniopoda eques). Believe it or not, I was able to take this photo up close without getting (too) grossed out. There were four or five of these big lugs, or should I say lubbers, hopping around on my fairy duster plant one day (again, in Tucson), so I did what every dedicated photographer does when they see a huge, disgusting insect: grab their camera and snap away. Then they yell “Ewww” and run screaming into the house. At least that’s what I did.

I enjoy taking pictures of butterflies and then identifying them via Google. It’s not that hard. You just have to be persistent. It’s not like identifying birds, which are hard to photograph in the first place, and then have so many variations within species. At least that’s been my experience.

On the other hand, I’m not wild about staring at pictures of insects for very long, but that’s just me.

The above pictures were taken some years back. Now, with my newer camera and a bit more free time, I’m hoping to capture better butterfly pictures in the future (and probably no more insects, if I can help it, except maybe a dragonfly … or a caterpillar … but no more horse lubbers, I promise!). All of that will have to wait, though. It’s currently 33 degrees out where I live now, and snow is in the forecast.

I think I’ll stick to indoor photography for the next three or four months. Then maybe I’ll start bugging people with pictures of bugs again.

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This is post #17 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured image by ArtsyBee @ pixabay.com

Slugfest at Midnight

As midnight approaches on the 16th day of National Blog Posting Month, I find I’m at a loss for words. I’m likely to do something wild and unpredictable.

Well, this blog is supposed to be inspired by my camera, and I do have a photo or two in my collection. Let’s see what I can come up with.

(Pause while I pull up my photo app …)

Ahh. Okay. Fortunately, I’ve found something: a portrait in vibrant purples and golds. It shimmers. It moves. It practically jumps off the page! The model reminds me of a graceful Flamenco dancer. Her dress is as soft as a petal.

Unfortunately for you, the model is a slug. A literal slug.

Introducing: Señorita Iris Maria Ariana Slug! (I.M.A. Slug, for short)!

I told you I was likely to do something wild and unpredictable. And I did!

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This is post #16 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Cover photo (clock) by JESHOOTS-com @ pixabay.com

Song about a Homeless Cat

Someone reminded me tonight about “My Name is Romeo,” a song I wrote 7 years ago. They wanted to hear it again. What a nice surprise!

And since I didn’t have anything else planned for this evening besides eating cookies and watching Netflix’s Crash Landing on You, I’ve decided to take a few minutes to share “My Name is Romeo” with you.

You might remember the song from my blog post in 2019, where I explained how I came to write it. But if not, or even if you do remember and want to hear it again, here are a few things you can do:

  1. You can hear a recording of the song on YouTube. I sing, and Chuck Phillips (the other half of our little indie duo, Pacific Buffalo) plays keyboards. The video contains lots of cat pictures, and I have to say, it’s damn cute. Here’s the link: My Name is Romeo
  2. You can read my 2019 blog about it here: Sewing Some Song Seeds
  3. You can click this “Song Seeds” link to read the published story I wrote about writing the song.

I hope you enjoyed the song, even if you aren’t a cat person!

And now, back to my cookies and my binge-watching of Crash Landing on You, a Korean love story that actually mentions Romeo and Juliet in one of the episodes.

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This is post #15 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

Featured illustration (cats): naobim at pixabay.com