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Dear Madrone

I have two daughters, such good girls, we share everything, I have no complaints, like lambs they are. But I can see trouble coming. One of them is such a glamour girl, takes after my side, thank God. The other is not a prize winner, sadly her face could stop a truck, just like her father, even though every one will tell you that she also has his pleasant personality. Right now they're young, dates don't matter, but soon one will be getting all the calls, the other, nothing. It's harsh, but true. What will I tell the one when she asks me if it's her looks? I don't want to lie, but I don't want to make anyone unhappy. How can I answer her?

Honest from Park Slope

Dear Honest,

Under no circumstances should you repeat what you have just written to me to anyone EVER again, do you hear me. This is the only answer a mother can give a child who asks how they look: I am your mother, so you are beautiful to me. Memorize it. And mean it. If they want a real opinion, let them ask somebody else. Period end of paragraph.

God bless, Donna.

Dear Madrone,

Ten years ago, when I was down in the dumps, my mother, may she rest in peace, wasn't doing so hot, and my son, was running around with a no good tramp, may she rest in peace as well, and as I told the Newark police, I really have no idea how she fell down that stairwell, and my arthritis was really bad, until I went on this diet, no nightshades, it works, no tomatoes, no eggplant, no potatoes, I swear by it now, but this was before it started working, I was complaining to my good friend Lorraine, and she gave me a list of principles to live by that she had cut out from your column. Well you know how things go, I had it on my refrigerator, but it broke down and when the people from Home Depot delivered the new one, I wasn't there, my other son, who is good, but dim, let them take away the old one without removing any of the magnets and the things they were holding on. Could you run it again for me? I want to give it to my cousin's daughter in law who doesn't seem to know her elbow from her you know what, excuse my French.

Thanks, Connie from Bayonne.

Dear Connie,

I am very happy to oblige you. Every few years, it doesn't hurt to remind people of how things actually are, as opposed to the way people wish things would be.

God Bless, Donna.

1. Never get in between someone and their mother. If you just followed only this rule you'd be better off than 90% of the mamalukes out there who have no sense.

2. Never refuse family a favor.

3. Never ask family for something you know they can't give.

4. Never believe it's just about the money.

5. Never pretend it's nice when it's not.

6. Never expect thanks when you kick someone in the teeth.

7. Never mix up the people who have what you want with the people who want what you have.

8. Never fight a battle you know you can't win, except if your honor is involved, then always fight it.

There is more, but these are the main ones.

Dear Madrone,

I drive my cousin to the station every day on my way to work, he never offers gas money. Is not this freeloading, should I not demand what is rightfully my share? My mother says to forget it, her sister is the same way, but I do not have a gracious heart about this.

Doormat, Stony Brook

Dear Mat,

If you ask for the money directly, be prepared for your mother to berate you and your aunt and your cousin to talk against you. But now, in the favor bank, he has opened an account in your name. It is good for one big request, or many little ones, all depending upon how long you've been dropping him off, and how far you must go out of your way to do so. If he refuses what you ask, then he is the shem, not you. Sometimes I am amazed at the things I must spell out.

God bless, Donna





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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