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NOVEMBER 2006

Dear Madrone,

My mother-in-law keeps bugging me for the recipe to my gravy. Now don't get me wrong, I love her as much as I love anyone I'm not related to, but I can not under any circumstances give her the information she requires. Even if I wanted to, which I don't, she is deaf as a post and a complete train wreck in the kitchen. It's a wonder my husband and his sister didn't die of botulism before they were twelve. I can't have her going around telling everyone that she learned this recipe from me. I learned it from my own mother, may she rest, who made me swear on her death bed that not one word of it would pass my lips to anyone other than a child of my own. My husband says nothing, but I know his feelings are hurt. But what can I do? Stewed, Lowville

Dear Stewed,

What can you do about what? You're not about to break a death bed promise to your mother, are you? So there isn't anything TO do. You can mean it your way, she can believe it her way, and peace will reign. Just tell her that no one in the world cooks like she does, and nothing you say can improve her cooking. God Bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

My little angel of a son is getting picked on by an ignoramus on the school bus. I'd tell him to fight back, but the odds are not good that he'd come out unbroken. The school is no use, they recommend mediation whatever that is, and I realize I am prohibited by law from wringing the neck of either the twerp or his big galoot father.

How can my baby stay safe? Fretting, Julian

Dear Fretting,

Sounds like someone needs to take a scissors to their apron strings. Tell your little mansy he has a couple of choices. One is to live like a hunted rat. The other is to step up, kick the jamoke in the shins as hard as possible while repeating the phrase "keep your frigging hands off me. "The trick is he has to mean it, no matter what the odds. Nine times out of ten, crazy goes a lot further than muscle. God bless, Donna.

Dear Readers, Speaking of nine times out of ten, nine times out of ten, I get asked questions that you already know the answer to. You just don't like it, and you figure it you keep asking, someone will give you the answer you want. Well it's not me. I don't care how you slice it, when someone wants a favor you have no interest granting, but you have an obligation to be nice to them, either because you might like them otherwise, or someone you love loves them, whatever, if you don't do it, they are not going to be happy. So no matter how you slice it, someone is going to be unhappy, either you, or the party requesting the favor. But trust me BOTH of you will be unhappy if you go ahead and do such a favor without a gracious heart. So do ME a favor and tape these to your forehead, or your refrigerator, wherever you are most like to pay attention to it:

1. Never pretend things are nice when they are not.

2. If you can't act with a gracious heart, DON'T.

3. Take the heat up front.

God bless, Donna

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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