Say thanks! It might make someone’s day.

A friend observed a cashier’s response when he thanked him for his patience at the end of a complicated transaction. “No problem,” the cashier said.
“‘No problem.’ What do you suppose that means, exactly?” asked my friend, who is a writer and thus pays attention to words.

“Maybe he’s stopping short of “you’re welcome”, because he’s really just doing his job,” I replied. A shrugging, “no sweat” acknowledgement that yeah, he’d been helpful, but he was paid to be helpful, and besides that, it had been a pretty nice day filled with relatively happy people.

That was yesterday. It was a pretty nice day, wasn’t it?
I myself feel compelled to say “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” in a bit more careful way to a couple of people. Continue reading

The story behind my bookshelves

Lily reads "Marley & Me". Her uncle, Joe Fleenor, reads "Born To Run".

Some of my favorite growing up memories involve books – reading them and being read to, shopping for them and writing them.

My parents will say my favorite book as an infant was something called “Mr. Paint Pig,” and I swear I remember it, sitting in their laps and the laps of my mother’s parents,  nestled into easy chairs on the porch of my grandparents’ house near Niagra Falls. “Here comes Mr. Paint Pig. What is he going to do with all these colors?” A happy memory about family, not fiction.

In third grade, I started to write my autobiography, beginning with the first day of first grade, tackling mundane moments in excruciating detail, including what our family ate for dinner and what we watched on television. I renamed myself “Catherine Comb” in the book. (“Knight Stivender” did not, to me, sound like a likely name for an ordinary five-year-old from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.) For some inexplicable reason, my great-uncle Billy loved this. Continue reading