Photo by seanfboggs on iStock

How can such a small number of flowers mean so much? After all, a bouquet's visually more impressive, so why do I have such fond memories of the few corsages I received over the years? Because it's a reminder of when things were more "old-fashioned" (but in a good way) and reflected a mixture of class and even elegance. Or, maybe it was because it came from a place of love and affection.

So, what made me even think about this? Well, it's prom season (although due to the pandemic, my daughter's prom was canceled), and recently on "Live with Kelly and Ryan," Kelly Ripa was talking about her son, Joaquin, going to prom. When I saw photos of him and his date, I couldn't help but notice her corsage (and his matching boutonniere), and it brought back memories as, years later, corsages still signify something sweet, enduring, and wonderful.

But corsages aren't only for proms. For me, corsages celebrated rites of passage, like my "formal" graduation ceremony from Schwarting Elementary School (I graduated in the early 1970s, so don't know if they still do that, but had to laugh when I saw how large the trees in front of the school had grown) and my Bat Mitzvah ceremony a few years later. And although I received a corsage from my date (who flew in from Switzerland for the occasion) when I attended my one and only prom, the only corsages that ever really mattered were the ones from one person,


I remember many things, but I honestly couldn't tell you what flowers were in the corsages my dad gave me. Still, I'll never forget they were always wrist corsages, which I loved for the ease and simplicity of being able to wear them as I wasn't the most coordinated girl in the world. Not that it mattered, for those corsages came with complete and unconditional love, and told me not only how much he loved me but that he was proud of me for whatever milestone event I was "dressed up" for. My dad could have made a corsage out of dandelions from the backyard, and even with my pollen allergies, it would have been the most beautiful corsage in the world.

Of course, I'm the more sentimental one, but I was curious whether Black had any memories of corsages, from our dad or any of her many prom dates (yes, you read that right),

I can barely remember my prom dates, let alone the corsages. However, I do remember each dress because I designed and made them myself. For me, proms were all about the fashion, and I am certain that I would have requested wrist corsages as not to put pinholes in my dress. But there is one corsage that does stand out in my mind, and that is the one First Lady Jill Biden wore to the inauguration.

So, I guess you are never too young or too old to wear wrist corsages … and create lifelong memories.

Photo by JohnAlexandr on iStock

As I write this, the New York Islanders are tied (1-1) against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the semi-final round of the Stanley Cup (the Super Bowl of ice hockey, although it has been around almost 75 years longer). Growing up on Long Island, I have been an Islanders fan since birth – the team's birth in 1972, having been introduced to ice hockey by my father, who had always been a huge New York Rangers fan.

Understandably, having another hockey team in the New York metropolitan area meant there would be a serious rivalry between the two fan bases. Including at our house. And, often at the kitchen table, although it did not include my mother. She was not a sports fan of any sort, let alone ice hockey, and was not even remotely interested in learning … although she should have created a "penalty box" somewhere in the house for when I misbehaved (which was often) but probably realized I would enjoy being sent there, which would only encourage my misbehavior.

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Red's two Labradoodles

Photo taken by Red


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Well, this month marks 18 years since you changed my life, so I wanted to thank you. Again. For bringing such happiness into the lives of the girls and me, although some heartbreaking sadness, too. But there's nothing like unconditional love.


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OK, but can you tell me what you are talking about?


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Do you remember when I moved to Houston after living overseas, and we started going to the Hyatt Hill Country in San Antonio for Memorial Day weekend? You were married to Larry, and his girls were young, and Natasha and Sawyer were even younger. Well, in 2003 you asked me if it was OK if you got us a puppy.


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You had always talked about getting a dog but wanted to have children first. The timing seemed right, but given your allergies, the options were limited. Until I learned about a new breed, well technically a mixed breed, originally developed in Australia to be hypoallergenic guide dogs.


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I'll never forget you showing me photos of the most incredibly adorable dogs I'd ever seen. The fact Labradoodles were half standard poodle, which was what I had initially thought we'd get, and half Labrador Retriever was amazing. But only you could find the perfect dog from an article in a business magazine.
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We never expected to be in prison!

Photo by Lynn Lane

You know that your life has gone down an interesting path when Gayle King references prison slang and you don't need the explanation. It happened the morning after Derek Chauvin's jury verdict was reached and she referenced how Chauvin had been placed in "ad seg" for his protection. And then in the next breath started to explain what it meant, but not before I thought to myself, "oh, administrative segregation, that makes sense."

So, why would a warm and fuzzy mom who lives in the middle of suburbia, and to any casual onlooker would look like the least likely person to know anything about prisons and prison terminology, have this kind of information? Well, it's all my sister's fault. She was the one who got us involved with criminal justice, first by having us present at a Prisoner's Family Conference and then with her "field trip" to a men's prison south of Houston.

And my attitude towards all of this? After all, aren't prisoner's criminals? You know, lock them up and throw away the key. Well, our involvement over many years led me to a greater understanding, which included that nothing's black and white, especially when it comes to the world of criminal justice – and incarceration. And I came to realize that just because someone made a bad decision doesn't make them a bad person.

Looking back, it's been a long but interesting journey that started when my husband got fired (I thought of it as a crisis, whereas Black saw it as a book that would be the basis of a sitcom) and has resulted in some very unexpected detours – how could a Neiman Marcus launch lead to our book being approved by the (Texas) State Board of Education as a textbook and then … drumroll, please … being used as the basis of a personal finance and Life 101 program embraced by the Chaplaincy Department of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. (Trust me, you can't make this stuff up!)

So that explains some of my prison "education" (I've also learned that many people personally know men and women who either are or have been incarcerated, but they're often ashamed to admit it). Still, it doesn't explain why I specifically know about Ag Seg (or what many people call solitary confinement, although Black has told me it's now called restricted housing, but that doesn't change what it is). Well, our book was initially used for Faith-Based dorms and then General Population, but most recently has become an independent book study program used in, you guessed it, Ad Seg.