“The Cowboy and Queen Elizabeth”

Dear Readers, Horse Lovers, and/or Admirers of the late Queen Elizabeth II,

Here is a heartwarming story from the New York Times by Jenny Gross, dated September 12, 2022, that I thought might be as interesting to you as it was to me.

Mr. Monty Roberts, an eighty-seven-year-old legendary horse trainer from California, has special reasons to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II this week.

They shared a three-decades-long friendship.

In April of 1989, Queen Elizabeth invited Mr. Roberts to England’s Windsor Castle to discuss his intriguing method of training horses. There, she witnessed his gentle techniques in which the horse is taught to see the rider as a member of the herd, rather than as a master.

During that visit, Roberts demonstrated his techniques for the queen using twenty-three of the royal family’s horses. That started the long friendship that sometimes meant taking a phone call from the queen in the middle of the night! Thereafter, he visited England six to seven times each year to assist the queen.

Her Majesty encouraged Mr. Roberts to write a book about his method. He did, and The Man Who Listens to Horses became a NYT bestseller!

In 2011, the queen designated Roberts an honorary member of the Royal Victorian Order for his service to the royal family, the queen, and the racing establishment.

From his 100-acre horse ranch in Solvang, California, Roberts reflected this week on how horses brought the queen a sense of calm and escape. While riding horses, she could briefly become a horsewoman instead of a queen.

He will be one of 2,000 friends and dignitaries at her funeral on September 19.

So, get a clue, Readers. Could your passion make a great book that might benefit others? I hope you will be inspired to write as was Mr. Roberts. RIP, Queen Elizabeth.

Where Does Your Birthday Rank?

Dear Kids and All Readers,

I think it’s safe to say that all kids love birthdays. I mean, cake and presents! What’s not to like? My attitude is that birthdays are important because they beat the alternative, so light those candles and enjoy that cake.

Did you know that certain birthdates occur much more frequently than others?

Tomorrow is September 9. It is the #1 most popular birthday in the United States! In fact nine out of the top ten most frequently occurring birthdays are in September. The only one that isn’t is July 7.

You’re probably wondering which day of the year has the least births? It’s December 25, closely followed by January 1. Babies are least likely to be born on holidays, including Halloween and the week of Thanksgiving. And few are born on the 13th of the month! (Superstitions?)

The most common birth month is August; the least common is February.

And which day of the week has the most births? That would be Tuesday!

Want to find out where YOUR BIRTHDAY ranks on the popularity list? Click HERE to find out, or go to zippia.com/advice/most-least-common-birthdays/.

The above birthday information was gathered by researchers from aggregated data of the CDC and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics, and the Social Security Administration on the number of births on each day of the year from 1994-2014.

So, get a clue, readers. No matter how popular your birthday is or isn’t, don’t forget to have a great time and eat cake! Those are requirements on your special day.

Crew Helps Crue

Dear Readers and Rock Music Lovers,

I just wanted to share something fun with you today–one of those happenstances that I couldn’t have foreseen when I set off for the grocery store last Saturday morning.

One of our San Diego stadiums hosted a huge rock/punk/heavy and glam metal music concert on Sunday, August 28th. It featured the quadruple billing of Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on one of the last stops of their 2022 tour.

Imagine my surprise when a stadium crew showed up at my store to do some grocery shopping for the four groups! The guys stopped in “for a few things” for the bands and after buzzing around with multiple carts, they left hours later with so many boxes that they couldn’t take everything in one trip. The crew planned to come back for Joan Jett’s later.

So, get a clue, Readers. You never know when something newsworthy might happen. Keep your ears and eyes open! 




Bloats and Crashes

Dear Kids and Animal Lovers,

Recently, on one of my morning walks, I saw a murder of crows in a tall, otherwise barren eucalyptus tree. The fifty plus large black birds were waiting for . . . um, coffee?

Huh? A murder of crows? What’s that?

That’s the collective name for a group of crows–one of my favorite birds and terms. Seeing those crows inspired me to seek out other animal group names to share with you. This is a great way to build your vocabulary. I found the perfect online site at https://owlcation.com/stem/collective-names-for-groups-of-animals. Click HERE to see if your favorite animal is listed or to learn something new.

At the site, the group nouns are categorized under “Mammals,” “Birds,” “Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish,” “Insects, Arachnids, and Other Animals,” and “People.”

Here are a few more of my favorites: a bloat of hippos, a crash of rhinos, a cauldron of bats, a parliament of owls, and an embarrassment of pandas!

So, how did these collective nouns originate? According to owlcation.com, the names date back to 1486 England when a nun named Juiliana Barnes aka Berners published them in The Book of Saint Albans. Then, the names were used as hawking, hunting, and heraldic terms, but they have become part of everyday English speech. Many, however, are considered archaic.

So, get a clue, Readers. Which collective names are your favorites? You might raise eyebrows if you use some of them today. But take a risk! Help build vocabulary. You won’t crash.


Table It!

Hello, Readers!

Perhaps like me, you ran across this engaging op-ed by Ellen Jovin on page A11 in the Friday, August 12, 2022, edition of The L.A. Times. It’s available digitally and in print.

Entitled “How Fighting Over Grammar Can Help Fix a Divided America,” it details Ms. Jovin’s goals to set up and run a “Grammar Table” on the streets of New York City to answer grammar questions from passersby. She has a strong background as a professional editor, teacher, and writer, and is a self-proclaimed lifelong grammar nerd. (Yay!)

Ms. Jovin used a folding table and chair and attached a homemade “Grammar Table” sign. Then, she waited for customers. The first arrived within thirty seconds!

Before long, she noticed that “any rancor [generated from disagreements over grammar issues] was mostly feigned and the chats cathartic” as she kept moving the table around the city. Eventually, having answered questions from all ages, races, political parties, socio-economic classes, education levels, and job descriptions, she came to realize that “the disputes that played out at her pop-up grammar advice stand were always friendly and grounded in mutual respect.”

Ms. Jovin and her husband filmed the Grammar Table for a documentary, visiting forty-seven states before being halted by the pandemic. She discovered that her grammar chats helped create tiny bonds between people, which, she believed, could “support the larger connections we need for our communities to thrive.”

So, get a clue, readers. Can your untangling a smaller problem with others help eventually unite a fractured neighborhood or society? Sometimes, little successes can nurture big results!


Dear Readers,
Yesterday, August 10, 2022, was the 50th anniversary of my sweet paternal grandmother’s passing at the age of 88.
Nellie “Gama” Lanyon Johns left us on August 10, 1972. I was lucky to have had her and my grandfather living with us while I was growing up.
Gama (rhymes with “Mama”) was a large-boned, outspoken farm woman who moved to California in the 1930s after living in Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. I remember her always wearing the latest fashions, including a hat, purse, gloves, fine jewelry, and even dress boots if the occasion called for them.
I still miss her wrapping tiny, timid me in her strong, ample arms, creating an enormous cocoon to comfort and protect me. Both my parents worked, so Gama would have dinner on the table every evening when they came home. She and my grandfather were the ones who greeted me when I came home from school. To this day, whenever I smell Ponds cold cream or lavender, Gama comes flooding back–which is daily.
Gama, I still love you and miss you. You are forever in my heart.
R.I.P. Nellie Mabel Lanyon Johns
December 1, 1883 – August 10, 1972

So, get a clue, readers. I hope like me you are holding those you love close in your hearts and memories.