Words & Banter

The Sound (& Smell) Of Happiness

Photo taken by Red in her kitchen

I promise this isn't about how as a single mom, my days and evenings (including weekends) have always been busy. But lately, my evenings are as busy as my days, as that's when I try to "catch up" on Red & Black because my usual "juggling" act of work, mom, and daughter duties has become even more challenging. And if there's not enough to do as my younger daughter goes off to college in a few weeks, not to mention just wanting to enjoy every moment of our time together, there are the rapidly increasing demands because of our aging mom. The result? My daytime work hours have been seriously encroached upon, pushing things into the evening.

So, is this a piece about work-life balance? And how I feel like I'm constantly taking one step ahead but falling two (or three or four) steps behind? Or how all those articles about how one day you'll find yourself in the middle of caring for children while caring for parents will present not only time management challenges but mental health ones as you try to take care of everyone, including yourself … are suddenly about me?

Well, actually, no. As a former theater major, I was merely "setting the stage" …


I was recently in my workroom with my head buried in paper and emails when a sound interrupted me that I easily could've ignored as "white noise" (ok, Black would probably comment that I'm misusing the word as it has a technical definition and specific uses, but as any parent knows it's that background noise that you know you can disregard). But I chose not to as it was the sound of my daughter and fiancé baking in the kitchen, and I'm not sure who was having more fun – my 18-year-old or an almost 60-year-old grown man.

It started with the sound of lots of laughter followed by some (really bad) singing to everything from John Denver to Lady GaGa singing "Shallow" alongside Bradley Cooper. (It must be said that my daughter has a very eclectic playlist.) Then the next thing I know, I see fingers full of cookie dough coming my way, playfully threatening to get it on me. Wrapped up in the moment, I wasn't sure that would be a bad thing, and smiled when they left as it looked like really good cookie dough.

At this point, I turn to the TV (more "white noise"), apologize to Don Lemon, and turn it off because the sounds from the kitchen are some of the happiest I'd heard all day and far better than all the depressing news on TV. And then, as if it couldn't get any better, the sweet smell of a freshly baked cookie cake (because who can be bothered making individual cookies when you can just cut the time in half by baking a cake and cutting it into bars) drifts towards my workroom.

It's the most relaxed and happy I've felt all day, and I fire off those sentiments to Black, thinking that I'm being very clever by ending my email not with a warm and fuzzy comment, but something that I thought Black would appreciate,

And who would've thought that happiness could be "bought" for the price of some flour, sugar, chocolate chip cookies, and vanilla extract?

Of course, her reply comes within minutes (unlike me, Black's work-life balance seems, to me, to be more of a work-work balance as she'll acknowledge she has no life) and, of course, has a business angle (at least she didn't tell me to calculate a cost per bite). Black explained the successes of the Pillsbury advertising campaign from the 1950s and 1960s (check out this TV commercial from 1962), including the introduction of the beloved Pillsbury doughboy, ending her email with what's one of the most iconic advertising slogans of all time, and one she thinks Pillsbury should re-introduce,

Nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven.
Photo by nycshooter on iStock
What do you get when you cross Flag Day (June 14) with June being Effective Communication Month? Well, if you include Black in the mix, you get one of Red’s favorite memories … and a unique way to think about the importance of communicating – whether in your personal or professional life. And especially if you’re in a racecar!


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4 th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory . Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo by John Gomez on iStock

There’s much debate about the role America should play in world politics and standing by our allies, and we can’t help but wonder … how many people look at history before forming their opinions? Which is why we feel so strongly about remembering D-Day (and are rerunning the post below), which is about so much more than just a day …


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I still can’t believe you didn’t know what D-Day was.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

All I knew was it had to do with World War II and beaches. And, required lots of strategic planning. Remember, I am not a history buff like you.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Or a movie buff. There has been an assortment of D-Day movies, and I wouldn’t expect you to have watched the older movies, like “ The Longest Day” with John Wayne, but I figured you’d have seen “ Saving Private Ryan .”


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

The Tom Hanks movie? It was a great war movie, but from what I remember, it was about the search for a particular soldier during WWII. Although I remember the opening scene showed the horrors of war. Regardless, I do not get my “history” from movies that might take literary license for the sake of storytelling, even if Steven Spielberg’s movies are mostly accurate.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

That opening scene WAS D-Day.
Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo by Iam Anupong on iStock

Some memories fade with time, but others remain as vivid as the day they happened. Like the day my big sister and I played golf together (an extremely rare event), although the memory isn’t about golf, but about how a sister’s flippant comment can stay with you for over 40 years …

There was no way to know it would become a highly effective way of remembering the importance of sunscreen. Especially as it happened before May was declared Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and May 27 became National Sunscreen Day.

I'll never forget the day. It was an "almost" ordinary day out on the golf course with my mom and dad during the heat of a Long Island summer. Now, if "Long Island" conjures up images of stately manors on the North Shore (think "Great Gatsby") or beachfront mansions in the Hamptons (think Robin Leach and his popular show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"), you can put those out of your head. I'm not talking about some fancy country club golf course, just a regular public course.

Keep Reading ...Show less