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This Month:


Dear Madrone, We are scandalized on the block. The neighbor down the street, I'll call him "Lenny", although his name is really Joe, was married to "Maria" (that's her actual name, but I figure no one knows a Maria married to a Lenny, so I'm safe. ) These two were married a long time 25 years, three kids, and Maria, rest her soul, up and died from one of those diseases that no one talks about. At least no one talked about it to me. Anyhow, it wasn't that long ago, maybe five six months. Last night, at the softball game, there was "Lenny" with a blonde, half his age, which doesn't make her all that young, cause "Lenny" is no spring chicken, believe me, who, how can I say this, was airing her"girls" enough so that the umpire kept calling balls when clearly the strikes were right on the money. The problem is this.. there is a neighborhood picnic every year, and we think that "Lenny" is going to bring the blonde as they are now seen everywhere together glued to the hip. Can we do anything about this?

Shocked, shocked shocked, Stormstown

Dear "Shocked"

What exactly do you want to do about it? You don't say, so I assume he did not directly cause the demise of his first wife, and the said blonde was not hiding under the bed. And even if she was, what business is that of yours? There's no rule of family that says you can't take up with someone new under these circumstances. Now maybe you're thinking that he could have at least waited until you wouldn't be scandalized, or that the blonde could be a little less frisky, but those are quibbles. No one is breaking your arm to make nice, so ignore them if it makes you feel better. But you need to be careful with that, it comes back to bite you. My cousin Alma was a real holy roller, she went to church five times a week, looked down on everyone who wasn't obeying ten of the commandments 24/7. She made us all crazy. Then one day, she up and ran off with the postman, leaving five kids and two puzzled spouses behind, and no one will cut her any slack. I'm just saying. God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

My husband, god bless him, is a good provider. The problem is that he's not much of anything else. What can I do about that? Bored, unhappy, and aggravated, but well fed with a roof over my head.


Dear Northport, You can't make a pig whistle a new tune, this is well known. But in this case, who is the pig that needs music lessons? If it's the husband, I don't think there is much you can do about it. Better to ask yourself, why do you stay? If it's only because you don't have walking money, then get off your coolie and get yourself some. If it's because you feel like there is something to salvage, get yourself a welding helmet and a blowtorch and start working on your attitude. God bless, Donna

Dear Readers, many of you write in to ask me, Madrone, why don't you ever recommend counseling? Here's why. Close your eyes, pretend you are talking to a counselor, and then listen to what you say. Nine times out of ten, you'll figure out what you need to do. The trick is to actually pay attention.

Confidential to Dear Wants to Run Away,

I don't know if what I have to say is going to be much comfort, but here it is...If there is one rule of family that is unshakeable it is this

You can NEVER, and I mean NEVER get in between someone and their mother. Doesn't matter if you are righter than the rightest person who ever lived in the history of the world, and the mother is the wrongest of all the wrong people past, present and yet to be born. You can talk to her until you are blue in the face, or to her children or to the President of the Universe, and it won't make a difference. . The only person who you have any rights to complain to is your husband, and it's up to him to take up the cause. If he won't, then that's that.You can either take him or leave him. SO assuming you wish to take him, you  certainly can't say a word to the mother OR, god forbid, her daughters, and expect them to greet you with pleasant smiles. IF it was me,    I would greet them with kisses and love, whenever they show up then call up a girlfriend and head out to the mall, or arrange for a day at the spa, for a mani pedi and a back rub, or visit my own mother.  



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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