Tuesday, September 09, 2008


People write me all the time and ask me what I think about all kinds of things, because they need someone to tell them the most basic facts, like where is their elbow.

Here’s some things you need to know, if you’re gonna live right.


Ok. About September. 99% of my family have birthdays in September. Do the math. It’s cold in January, you know what I’m saying. So, the first thing about September is what to do about all the people you have to remember, otherwise your name is mud.

Basic gift giving guide is the same all year round, but it comes in handy when you have to figure out what to get 25 relatives or more.

Under five, the present is not for the child, it’s a message for the parents how they stand with you.

Between five-twelve, it’s about what you think of the child. If the kid is an egghead and you get him a book, it means you approve. If you buy him a soccer ball it means you don’t. Simple.

12-moving out of the house, it doesn’t matter what you get, you can’t get them what they want, which is the freedom to do stuff that we all did when we were there age, but don’t talk about now. And friends, and REALLY GOOD Friends. Bottom line, nothing you can do to make them happy. At best, they’ll remember you tried.

After moving out to their own kids moving out- Write a check

Anyone older than that- No one cares that much to be reminded. Exception – Your own mother.

People ask me all the time about the big ones- The Three 0 and the Four 0 all the way to the really old 0’s like 8 or 9. If you don’t have a big party does it mean you have a bad family? Honestly I don’t know where these ideas come from. I don’t care what you do or don’t do. These big to-dos aren’t about the person, not really. They are about the family. It’s like hanging out a sign that says, wow, what a great family we are, there’s lots of us and we live a long time, and we have the money to spare on this. Good for us. Which may or may not be true. Who knows.

About those parties- Same rules apply as apply to weddings, but only half the bloodshed, since it’s about one family, and not putting two together to make a new one.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What Gives?

Dear Madrone,
What do you think of this? I am going with a girl, let's call her Sue, because that's her name, for a long time,, maybe even years, whose counting? But I had to move to another city, let's call it Chicago, because that's where I went, and she didn't want to, because, well let's face it, her mother is not there, and she loves her mother. Ok I accept. So we talk by phone, I visit whenever, I send cards on the right days, and flowers too. We get together, if you know what I mean, not that often. I never complain, but finally I said, so what about it and she tells she wants more space. What gives?
Lonely, and puzzled without Sue in Chicago.

Dear Without,

Get a clue. And a new girlfriend.
God Bless, Donna

Seriously some people don't know what gives until it comes around and bites them on the a**, and even then.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Dear Madrone, 
   My husband's father's sister in law is a nice lady.  She's way up there in years, for sure, lives in one of those state where people live a long time, I guess it's the cold that preserves them.   We visit once in a blue moon, it's a drive, and she's not a blood relative.  We were planning to visit in the fall, had everything set, but it turns out it's the weekend that a neighbor's son down the street is getting married, and we're invited.   My husband feels the need to visit the aunt, who knows what's around the corner.
So what's the thing to do?
Torn, Mount Redding.

Dear Torn,
   Good God, Gertie , you're kidding me right. You have to ask? Is this the first you've ever heard of me or anyone remotely connected to me? Were you born under a rock, or living in a cave, or are you just out to lunch?  This is a no brainer, even for people with no brains.  This is a trick, right? You kids who hang around the Pizza Carnival ought to get jobs instead of stuffing your faces, and bothering people who have better things to do. Sheesh.
God bless, Donna

  PS- In case this is legit, I take pity and spell it out.  Unless the neighbor in question 
saved the life of someone whose death would distress you greatly, you give them a nice gift, maybe nicer than you would have, explain you have family obligations, WHICH YOU DO, and go with your husband. 

Monday, August 11, 2008


Dear Madrone, 
     My neighbor's daughter's cousin's children are scootches. They tease and tease and tease until somebody ends up crying, usually the smallest one who started it. It drives everyone on the block crazy,but when we tell them to stop, they run away.  What can we do to have peace?
Scootchified, Dix Hills

Dear Scootchified,
     What can I tell you? If you are not their mother, there is not much you can do. Unless of course this takes place in your home, in which case you can uninvite them from the premises.  You can complain to the mother involved, but that is very dangerous, because you would be breaking the rule of rules.  (If I have to remind you what THAT is, I will, after I'm done, but I can't believe you would forget what it is, but there you go, if people remembered everything important I would have less work.)
So assuming this is not taking place in or around your own house or children, you're best off just shaking your head and steering clear. 
God bless, Donna

READER! THE RULE OF RULES, if you follow this, nine times out of ten, you'll solve your own problems:
Never get inbetween someone and their mother. 

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Dear Madrone, 
I hate summer.  Is this normal?
Sweaty,  Nome

Dear Nome
God bless, Donna

PS. Don't look at me like that. You asked, I answered.  If you meant to ask something else, what do I look like a mind reader?

READERS- Nine times out of ten, the question people ask is not the one they want the answer to, but help me out here, throw me a bone, and give me something to go on. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Family Snafu

Dear Madrone,
    I lied about being busy to get out of a family barbecue at the home of a cousin I do not like, and  wouldn't you know it, my cousin Alpa saw me at the mall, where she was also avoiding the same event.  Now she is telling everyone she saw me shopping while she was working which was the lie she told, since she was surrounded by twenty boxes of shoes at the DSW, and not at the cosmetic counter at Clarins.  Should I combat this lie with another one?
Looking for guidance,  Mt. Kisco

Dear  Looking,
Lying doesn't work unless you are bald faced about it. Sounds like your face has some hair. So  tell the truth to whoever asks, and let the rest go.  People will forgive you, they have to, you're family. If they don't then there's nothing you can do. And the question you didn't ask, but should have, is why you lied in the first place.  
 God bless, Donna

PS- You might be surprised at how little people care.  

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Important things

Dear Madrone,   
  You have a waste of time hall of fame, but what's the opposite? 
Curious, Forth Worth

Dear Curious,  
Everything else.  Look, let me break it down for you...we only have a certain amount of minutes on this earth.  You have to spend a certain number of them doing stuff that can't be helped, sleeping, eating, ironing. And by ironing, I mean all the other stuff you have to do to to get by. Now you can either iron your own stuff, or get someone to iron for you, but either way, it has to get done.   The better you are at the ironing part, the more precious minutes you have to kick back. Anything that interferes with with your enjoyment is a waste of time.  Now some people don't know whether they are enjoying themselves or not. I will deal with that next time.
God bless, Donna

Friday, August 01, 2008


FUGGEDABOUDIT- This is a beautiful thing, this fuggedaboudit. Roughly translated it means,," this is how much I love you, I'm not going to smash your face in, which I could do, if I felt like it, without blinking, but of course I don't because this isn't worth a precious minute of my time, and neither are you if you keep up this garbage. So... back off /apologize/drop dead ...before you're sorry you made me turn my mind to what you ...said/did. Got that? Good. Now ...get outta/come over ... here.'

When someone backstabs you, this is best option.

Not everyone has the chops to pull this off. In fact very few.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Say you  are in line for some paybacks- someone you trusted ratted you out, or stole you blind or otherwise took advantage of your good nature.  And you can't forgive. And you won't ignore.  Vengeance is out, because the rat in question doesn't want anything you have badly enough to make it worth the splash back.  So what's left? 
 Two things- You can forget it. OR you can fuggedaboudit.  
Here's the difference.  
Forgetting is you put it out of your mind. Like it never happened.  This is NOT, I repeat, NOT ignoring.  In order to ignore something, you have to know it's there, you just pretend it isn't.  Forgetting is erasing the incident completely from your mind.  

Fuggedaboudit is a combination of forgive, ignore and forget.  It's also a form of revenge.  Anyone who can do this is a person you want on your side in a street fight. 

Tomorrow, an example. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So where were we? Yeah, you have a serious problem, someone backstabbed you. No way are you going to ignore. Ok then, good idea, you're gonna do something.
Vengeance: You can make them pay, which only works if you have something that they want. Example: My neighbor's ex husband, may he rest, was a good provider, (not much else) He left ALL, and I mean ALL, every last cent, to his first wife, left wives two, three and four (my neighbor) out without a pot. Now the three xes wanted payback, but what could they do? They didn't have anything he wanted. Warning- With vengeance, there is always a splash back.
Forgive: So should they forgive? Well in the case of the stiffed ex wives, they couldn't. Sounds pazzo, but forgiveness only works if you have something they want, too. Otherwise, it's something else, which we'll talk about tomorrow. Forgiveness is really nice, noble, but most people can't really do it. They only SAY they are, but what they are really doing is plastering on the guilt. And guilt is a waste of time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


 My cousin's aunt's sister in law  Nessie was betrayed by her own brother, Lando, who told their mother that she spent the holidays in the Bahamas with her in laws, instead of in the hospital.  The mother in question was a piece of work,  Nessie should have told her to her face, and taken the heat. BUT Lando  shouldn't have spilled the beans, that breaks the rule of rules.   What if Nessie just ignored her brother's backstabbing? 

This takes fortitude and attitude.  If you ignore in the right way, you aggravate everyone, because it's just like saying, whatever. Who cares about you?  If you do it the wrong way, you just look like a mealy mouthed doormat, inviting people to wipe their feet.  So it's dangerous.   If you are ignoring cause you are afraid of a fuss, believe me,
nothing fuss likes better than fear. 


Monday, July 28, 2008


Dear Betrayed,
   You wrote me with this question: How could I possibly hurt them as much as they've hurt me?  Many people ask me this all the time, for all sorts of reasons, not just the one you have.  And I answer, always the same thing=You can't.  It isn't to say that you can't hurt them, because you can do that, no problem, but not as much as they've hurt you, because the way it works is this= vengeance comes back at you.  It just does.  So add the hurt that they did to you + the splash back hurt from your vengeance, and it will always be that you hurt more.   
   The question you didn't ask, but I will answer, just on the off chance that you didn 't know you should have asked it, and might possibly be interested in the advice (which most likely you aren't, but even so, someone might) is this: What now?  
  There are four possibilities, 
A. Ignore
B. Respond
  • Forgiveness
  • Vengeance
C. Forget
D. Fuggedaboudit.

I will discuss these tomorrow.  God Bless, Donna