Reflections in a Mirror While Waving . . . But First, Thank You!

Confession: The second half of this column is an an unabashed rip-off of Doug Mudford’s “Reflections in a Mirror While Shaving”.

But before I share my reflections, I want to share my gratitude.

You may remember my Valentine’s Day column in which I disclosed that was struggling. I told how our team met, and everyone, to a person, rejected a paywall. So we swallowed our pride and asked for help. We said that although we wouldn’t charge you to log onto, we would implement a new system that charged a small fee for those who wanted to continue to receive email notifications of our stories. We’d call this group paid subscribers.

We weren’t sure how you’d take the news, but we hoped that our nearly 900 readers who received email notifications would see enough value in that formerly free service to pay for it, for as low as $5 a month.

Writing that column, asking for help and admitting we were having a rough time, was one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever written here on, second only to my divorce column.

Guess what? Many of you heard our plea, and stepped up to show us the love after that Valentine’s Day plea. Prior to that column, 11 loyal readers had committed to making recurring payments to Most were in the $5 and $10 range, but two people contributed $25 a month, which they still do.

Thank you!

Since Feb. 14, 67 more people committed to making monthly contributions as recurring subscribers. As before, most are in the $5-to-$10 range, but there are a few who contribute $15 to $20 each month.

Thank you!

Finally, 19 of you gave one-time contributions in various amounts, with the greatest number being $60 for annual subscriptions.

Thank you!

Words – other than ‘thank you’ – fail to express the depths and sincerity of our gratitude for those of you who are not just readers, but who demonstrate that you cherish enough to help sustain this site that’s served you for nearly 11 years now.

Thank you!

Yes, we have our incredible, tech-savvy, beloved advertisers, north-state businesses who partner with us and allow us to exist. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.

Thank you!

But in these times of online trolls, we are at increased risk of peril when, as one long-time anonymous reader did last month, contacted our advertisers, described as religiously intolerant because of our Bethel series, and requested advertisers withdraw support from our site. Luckily, the advertisers saw through this person, and we did not lose one advertiser.

Thank you!

But back to those small recurring donations: There is literally no such thing as a contribution that’s too small. We appreciate every single dollar, because we know that if every regular reader of contributed even $5 a month, we would be well on our way to having the kind of site that could make all our online wishes come true, from a dedicated news reporter and a sports section, to videos and in-depth investigative pieces, and, most important, decent compensation for our talented, award-winning paid contributors and journalists.

That’s why I say that if you are a regular reader,if you look forward to coming here for news and features and entertainment and information and opinions, and if you think that $5 a month is not enough, that it won’t make a difference to us at, I respectfully say that you’re mistaken. It’s no exaggeration to say that collectively, if the majority of readers contributed, even a little, it would make all the difference in the world for us.

No segue to this shameless plug: You can click here to see how easy it is to be part of our family of awesome supporters. 

Either way, I’m hopeful. Even with participation by a minority of readers, we’re still moving in the right direction. We will continue to bring you yet more engaging and captivating content, ideas and features. We’ll keep you — our online family of readers — posted.

Until then, thank you!

And now, onto lighter writing; my reflections, ala Mudford, sans Mudford.

 • Observation:  A minor pissing contest ensues whenever two or more men are at my house doing separate home repairs.

• I love Acorn TV, but I use the English subtitles feature – for English – because I can’t understand some of the English accents.

• The best part about intermittent fasting is intermittent eating.

• Some enterprising strong guys with a truck and flat trailer could have steady, guaranteed income by parking outside Costco with a sign that offers delivery and unloading services.

• Here’s a nice scary image that I’m surprised I’ve not seen in a movie yet: It’s a dark and stormy night and someone’s driving alone in their car. Suddenly, the dashboard light indicates the backseat passenger isn’t wearing a seat belt. The first time this occurred to me I was driving alone at night and the dashboard light said my front-seat passenger wasn’t wearing a seat belt. A heavy enough purse will give that false reading. It will also make your heart beat a little faster.

• A fat, gray, greasy rat skulking through the ivy that grows along the side of your neighbor’s house sounds exactly like a cute little bird making a nest.

• If I were a clothing designer, I’d create a line of simple, chic and comfortable women’s clothing that featured sleeves never higher than the elbow, hems never higher than the knee and necklines never lower than the collarbone.

• Speaking of women’s clothing,  on what planet did store names like Dress Barn and Sag Harbor seem like a good idea?

• It’s silly to cut out size labels from clothing, because there are only two plausible reasons: If clothing were hastily removed in an ER setting, or to disrobe for a new love interest. In the first case, the situation would be so dire that, who cares? In the second scenario, it would hard for the lover to read any label with all the lights turned out.

• Our maker created our near vision to fail as we grow older so that our aging partners still look OK. That’s just one reason why a younger woman with an old man is a waste, because he can’t really see her anyway without his glasses.

•  The reason for the steeply discounted price of a trio of crepe myrtles was apparent before I’d even left the store parking lot: Whiteflies. Thousands of them. I’m sure I looked like a crazy woman as I drove, swatting the air at what must have looked like nothing.

•  Whitefly trivia: They are actually not flies at all. Rather, they’re closely related to sap-sucking aphids.  They live about three weeks.  Apple cores left in Noni’s car by her grandchildren make a great food source for whiteflies, which means more whiteflies.

• I wonder if Geico covers vehicle whitefly-infestation.

• Am I the only one who, when my house is totally clean and presentable, has a tiny thread of reasoning that says that if the police had to come to my home to respond to a crime, or an ambulance had to remove someone from my house for a trip to the hospital, this would be a good day for it?

• Just the operational sounds of a dishwasher, my Roomba, the city street sweeper, garbage trucks, or my washing machine and dryer give me a feeling of satisfaction that all is well, and work is being done.  It’s how I justify a nap.

• I’m still searching for that cute summertime shoe that conceals ugly heels and chipped toenail polish.

• Which reminds me … if it’s been a while since that last pedicure, so bad that the technicians reach for a Dremel and start conversing between themselves in rapid-fire Vietnamese that, loosely translated, means, “This woman’s feet look like old goat hooves and I didn’t sign on for this shit when I took this job,” just say that you’ve been on a remote vacation, camping in the dirt and walking on shale. Then, tip well and never darken the doorway of that salon again. Move on to a different place. Eventually, depending upon how often you get a pedicure, you may have to visit neighboring counties. I hear the Czech Republic has nice nail salons.

• Few sights are more shocking than turning on your phone’s camera and it’s still in selfie mode, and you get a horrifying, unwelcome view of under-chin skin and eye bags.

• Related, if you want to know what the view is like from the bottom, put a mirror on the floor and hover your face over it. Gravity is a bitch.

• Hide-a-keys are great. Only if you remember the hiding place. And only if that hiding place is not in a far corner of the yard in a spot you chose in broad daylight, because by night, that hiding place is dark and it’s no place you’d want to rummage around looking for a rock that’s not really a rock.

• Ladies, a show of hands, please. Who’s ever used scissors to escape a sports bra, Spanx or bathing suit? Me neither.

• I have a solution for married people who claim they don’t wear wedding bands because they’re afraid they pose potential safety hazards if they get caught in heavy equipment: Tattooed wedding rings. You’re welcome.

• PVC pipes and tree roots are pretty much identical twins.

• PVC pipes are far easier to break with a shovel than tree roots.

• If you find a pair of handcuffs in an old room in your 80-year-old home’s garage, try to maintain your sense of humor.


•  And don’t make a big deal out of it if you find those handcuffs in the same room that contains a suspicious spot on the floor near the boarded-up, perfectly intact window.

• Nor should you become fixated upon that section of sheet rock overhead – no apparent water damage – that looks as if it was ripped from the ceiling.

•  Still in that same garage, wonder of wonders, if you find an angry-looking, dirty little action figure, don’t read anything weird into the find. Tell yourself there are a few plausible, even positive explanations for everything in that garage, starting with the rats’ nest uncovered by the electricians last summer.

• Remember that when all else fails, no matter what happens, it’s all material, and there’s a good story in there somewhere.

• Fact: There is only one Reflections master, and that’s Doug Mudford. Thank you, Doug, for letting me borrow your mirror. This was more difficult than I’d expected. I’m returning the mirror to you for safekeeping. Careful. It’s fragile.

• For many years I’ve signed off on written correspondence with an affectionate xod – meaning, hugs and kisses from Doni.  A young hipster friend recently ruined everything when she sent a link to another meaning of xod: hugs, kisses and dick.  That’s more affection than I could promise. Sincerely,  xo doni

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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44 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Loved both sections of this article. I’m delighted that more and more ANC viewers have found their wallets and forwarded some of the contents to you – and us. Some of your reflections really hit home. We always use closed captions. I wouldn’t watch television were it not for captions. Today is an intermittent eating day for me, and I’m looking forward to a glass of wine. Nearly every one of the jillions of clothing catalogues I receive now feature elbow-length T-shirts. I cut out size labels so that they don’t scratch my neck. Bless whoever thought up stamped labels. I finally fired up my Roomba. It was like training a puppy. I met a chap who had a wedding ring tattooed instead of wearing one. Problem? He was now divorced and said that removing the ring was a real bitch – as was the wife, apparently.

    • Avatar Peggy says:

      Can you please name a few catalogues that feature elbow length sleeves on tee shirts..or any kind of shirts? It makes shopping no fun..everything is cropped just off the shoulders and that only works if you are under 30!!!!!!!!!!! Horrible look for the 73 year old crowd!!!!

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Here are a few to get you started. Serengeti (, Chadwicks of Boston (, Bedford Fair (, Norm Thompson (, Blair (, The Tog Shop (, and Old Pueblo Traders ( Most of these catalogues cater to us seniors unlike those that appeal to the under-25 age group who love cap sleeves, ripped jeans, and high-low hems.

        • Avatar Peggy says:

          WOW! Thanks a bunch..this is not my area of expertise for sure…I will check these out…could definitely use some new clothes..have pretty much given up shopping in Redding!

    • Dearest Beverly, I hope I don’t embarrass you by outing you as one of the first contributors to I appreciate you, your loyalty and your friendship and support to this site, from Day 1. Thank you!

      Get rid on my Roomba? Never! (Sorry yours was high-maintenance.)

      Enjoy that glass of wine. Cheers!

  2. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    1. Thank you readers for donating to!

    2. Too bad the gentleman who called our advertisers didn’t voice his disagreement in the comments section.

    3. I still have a bad feeling about those handcuffs. Get that luminol!

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      You shouldda put gentleman in quotes, R.V., to indicate what he ain’t.

    • 1. I agree!
      2. What puzzles me about that “gentleman” is why he’d want to help destroy the very place where he was a daily participant.
      3. I had to look up luminol. We’d need the kind that could differentiate between human and animal blood.

  3. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    “A young hipster friend recently ruined everything when she sent a link to another meaning of xod . . . ”

    I really wish I hadn’t read that with a mouthful of coffee.

  4. Avatar Joanne says:

    Loved your column today, Doni !!!! I so enjoy and appreciate A News Cafe and all the awesome people
    who contribute their views and opinions . XOXOXO

  5. Avatar s. keller says:

    Tremendous writing, Doni. Thank you.
    Miss you at Align.

  6. Avatar Brandon says:

    A fat, gray, greasy rat skulking through the ivy that grows along the side of your neighbor’s house sounds exactly like a cute little bird making a nest.

    ^ somehow this should be a parable.

  7. Avatar Ron C. says:

    Is that RV holding the handcuffs lol?

  8. Avatar Dick says:

    Be careful what you wish for. There are guys who wait in the bay area Home Depot parking lots offering delivery service. Unfortunately some of them just drive off with the stuff and it’s never seen again.

  9. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I chuckled right out loud at least three times, and I’m usually more inclined to just grin or smirk.

  10. Avatar Candace says:


  11. Avatar Christina says:

    This whole thing made my day. Great writing. ?

  12. Avatar Eleanor says:

    Wow, Doni, I already knew you are an amazing writer, but this masterpiece is out of the ballpark! So many moving parts, and I loved them ALL, but I agree with Brandon that “A fat, gray, greasy rat………………” does sound like a brilliantly written parable, or maybe belongs in a Chinese fortune cookie (though not one I would wish to open). And Doug, surely you cannot let this go unanswered??

    • Oh, Eleanor, you, like Beverly, are among the earliest and most loyal members of our family. I appreciate your ongoing support so much!

      You made me laugh a the thought of the fortune cookie message. (And I am betting that when Doug can, he will respond.)

  13. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    A News Cafe always feels like wandering into a neighborhood where you know many of the residents and the streets are clean and you can find out all the stuff you need to know. I love it here for that very reason.
    Until you posted the picture of the handcuffs, I had entirely forgotten what I found when I moved into my house near yours. In the ductwork in my bedroom I found a video camera lens. I know for a fact I don’t want any more information about how it ended up there. Why is it always something creepy? Why can’t we find a hundred dollars or an interesting diary?

    • Matt, I love this poetic description of aNewsCafe. You hit the nail on the head, and it’s why this is a place that is as much about relationships as the content. I’m so glad you’re in my ‘hood – both literal and virtual.

      And I’m glad my column could prompt your memory about the camera lens in the wall.

      I’ll never stop looking for the money or a diary.

  14. Avatar Carol Cowee says:

    Clever… I’ve been identifying all day with several issues! Well done!

  15. Avatar Liz says:

    You might consider auctioning the action figure for aNewsCafe with 10% going to charity.

  16. Deb Deb says:

    Yay for subscribers! I’m so happy there has been a positive response to your request for help – and glad that you *did* ask, even though asking was difficult to do!

    The reflections made me laugh, and think, and nod very often in absolute agreement. The action-figure-and-handcuff photo made me snort with giggles but also peer more closely – I have a feeling that is supposed to be some famous WWF wrestler, but having not watched wrestling since I was a pre-teen, I couldn’t say who I think it’s supposed to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an action figure with quite so many teeth…

    All we found when we moved into this apartment was a bad smell and terrible upstairs neighbors. However, I have lost count of how many things we have lost, since moving here. We either have a mischievous poltergeist, or the cat has decided to become a kleptomaniac!

    • Well, you may be right about the action figure. He does have a rather specific set of features. (But he looks SO angry! What’s his problem?) If his true identity comes to you, feel free to share.

      And oh my, I have been following your “adventures” on FB with your upstairs neighbors. Horrible! I confess it’s pretty entertaining to read, though I’m sure it’s not entertaining in person.

      Have a great weekend, dear Deb.

      Maybe your cat is a pack cat? 😉

  17. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Great article, Doni. Like Steve, I laughed out loud several times, your scary movie idea actually made the hair on my arms and neck stand up, and I just had to read some of your observations to The Fair Theresa while she was putting on her makeup.

    Thanks for the delicious writing,
    xo, Dick—-errrrr I mean Richard

    • LOL, now, YOU have THE perfect name/excuse to do the xod sign-off. I say go for it!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the column, and I don’t know why it made me so happy to imagine a guy reading to his lady while she puts on make-up. It just sounded like such a sweet domestic moment. (Hi to The Fair Theresa.)

      xo doni

  18. Avatar Doug Mudford says:


    I couldn’t have said it better.

    Doug M

  19. Avatar Pamela says:

    Gosh Doni! Now I know why my White Noise app has sound options of vacuuming, clothes dryer, dishwasher.!!
    I go for frogs and birds, ocean, rain etc to fall asleep till
    And my grandkids wondered why people wanted to listen to blow dryers and appliances!!?. Now I can tell them!

  20. Avatar Ann B. says:

    I missed the news cafe and now I am a subscriber! Yahoo!