See-Through Sundial Dresses, Early-Morning First Dates, and Doni’s Other Random Thoughts

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Note: This is the column I started a few days before the Carr Fire. I think it’s OK to bring it out now. 

• I had an interesting exchange at a store last night when I got to the counter and asked if the gentleman I’d spoken with back in the kitchen department had called in my rain check canning jar lids, as he said he would.

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Clerk 1: What’d he look like?
Me: Uh …
Clerk 2: Was he skinny … or was he, you know, overweight?
Me: Um …
Clerk 1, excitedly: Wait! Was he Mexican?
Me: Can’t you just call to that department?

That’s what she did, and all was squared away and I got my rain check just fine. But it made me wonder how the conversation went between the clerk and the kitchen department guy on the phone.

Clerk 2: There’s a customer up here who says she talked with you about a rain check for canning lids.

Kitchen guy: What’d she look like? …

So far away …

• First-World-Problem anxiety: a public restroom that has a door too far from the toilet. I locked the door. Or did I? Must hurry, before someone opens it.

• One of the worst inventions ever: scented garbage bags. (I will never forget the wedding reception where someone inadvertently stored soft, fresh-baked pretzels in scented plastic garbage bags.) If garbage stinks so bad that it needs its own perfume, it’s time to take out the trash.

• Is it true that people wearing thin white dresses or skirts at night as they cross the Sundial Bridge are giving an accidental peep show?  I haven’t tested it myself. This observation supposedly came from a security guard who’s noticed these things.

• My early-morning face and my late-afternoon face barely resemble one another. (The a.m. face is puffy and tired; the p.m. face is wide-eyed and perky.) I learned this the hard way after I saw the stunning results of a 7:30-a.m. photo shoot a few years ago, which confirmed for me yet another good reason to skip first-date breakfasts. Second thought, maybe it’s better to have your worst face forward for those first dates. Realistic expectations.

• More about early dating … For women, make-up, eyelash extensions and hair extensions can transform even the most plain Jane into a drop-dead gorgeous woman. And then there are push-up bras, and most recently maybe you’ve seen those incessant Facebook videos of women with flabby bellies triumphantly pulling up those magical undergarments that press everything into shape and make every fleshy detail disappear. Check!

Here’s one of those FB videos about those shape-shifting underwear. (Don’t be scared; some of the women were made up for Halloween.).:

Buy 1, Get 1 FREE! ? Halloween Sale ?

? HALLOWEEN SALE ?Forget hiding behind baggy clothes… Smooth, lift, & shape from tummy to thighs ?? Vanish your panty lines? No roll down & dig-free legsReady to Fit Smooooothly into any outfit??Buy 1, Get 1 FREE! Only Today ? ? Fit Guarantee – FREE Exchange

Posted by Shapermint on Thursday, November 1, 2018


For men of a certain age, there’s one little blue pill.  Check mate.

• Moving along … one of the best inventions ever: dry shampoo.

• Which reminds me … I wish all shampoo bottles were marked with a huge S and all conditioner bottles were marked with a huge C so that when I shower without my glasses I know which is which when I cannot read the small print no matter how hard I squint.

• Still in the bathroom … Am I the only one who feels like the bathroom sink water tastes inferior to the kitchen sink’s?

• If all my Dollar Store reading glasses were lined up end to end, I might be able to find my misplaced cell phone.

Can’t see to find the glasses or cell phone …

• Along those lines, I have a plethora of Dollar Store reading glasses in every room, except the room I’m occupying at the moment. Same with pens.

• What is it about feeling pleasure, pain or exertion that makes us close our eyes? Just wondering.

• Never a happy sight in the bottom of my purse: The empty lid that belongs to a cherry red lipstick.

• Music to this Noni’s ears as my grandchildren played with little people and plastic dinosaurs: “NOT the grandmother!”

Acceptable dino dinner.

• Nine times out of 10 when I’m putting a fitted sheet on a bed, I end up starting with the short end on the long side.

• Nine times out of 10 when I mindlessly plug something in an outlet, the fat prong is lined up wrong with the skinny slot.

• Two extremely satisfying sounds to this cook’s ears: 1. the ping of canning lids popping tight. 2. the thunk of an inverted, freshly baked cake falling from the pan onto a cooling rack – in one piece.

• I don’t really care if the toilet paper is displayed over or under, but to my eye, under just looks more natural, unless you’re into origami toilet-paper folding, in which case, over is best.

• A top-sheet debate: Does the pattern face up, toward the blanket, or down, toward the sleeper? I’ll withhold my preference until I hear yours.

• Still on bed-making: Raise your hand if you’ve broken an overhead glass light attached to a ceiling fan when you’ve snapped the bedspread to put it into place, which then hits the metal fan chain, which flips up and shatters the light? I’ve done this twice.

• I saw on FB one young woman’s intriguing gender experiment: When a man was walking toward her, she stayed the course and didn’t step aside. The result? She was run into by many men. The conclusion? Some men expect the woman to be the one to step aside and move out of the man’s way; not the other way around. It’s totally unscientific, but an interesting observation.

• First-World Problem: Rosie, my Roomba, goes missing somewhere in the house with a dead battery when I’ve left her alone to vacuum in my absence. Fact: The battery always dies when she’s far away, against a wall, way under a bed.

• Another FWP: lipliner splinters.

• Coffee cake must be an American thing, because the most common question I hear from people from other countries regarding my Sour Cream Coffee Cake is that they don’t detect a hint of coffee flavor in the cake. Nope. No coffee in my famous Sour Cream Coffee Cake. (Click here for the recipe. Of course, I share.)

In addition to being’s publisher and owner, Doni Chamberlain is known for her delicious Sour Cream Coffee Cakes.

• Scary scene for a movie screenplay, based upon a true story (from husband No. 2’s cousin): Husband’s out of town. You’re sleeping alone. Your two little kids are down the hall sleeping in their respective rooms. Your little dog is dozing on the foot of your bed. You are suddenly awakened by a strange man’s whispering voice:  Nice doggie …

• Talking about the weather … I’m so glad fall is here, even if it does feel mostly like summer still. Where’s our T-shirt? I survived Shasta County’s summer of 2018, and I’ve no plans to leave (yet).

• Thank you, Doug Mudford, for allowing me to borrow your Reflections in a Mirror format. Click here to read Doug’s real deal.


Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. 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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29 Responses

  1. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    Years ago one of my co-workers got a call from someone at another agency who was complaining about “those Mexicans.” She resisted the temptation to say, “Un momento, por favor.”

    Top sheet goes pattern up since the sleeper is presumably sleeping, not looking at the sheet pattern.

    I’ve read the “nice doggie” in various urban legends and online scary stories. Not to say it didn’t really happen.

  2. Avatar Candace C says:

    Personally I don’t use a top sheet but if it’s for a guest I make the bed with the top sheet pattern facing up.

  3. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    “If all my Dollar Store reading glasses were lined up end to end, I might be able to find my misplaced cell phone.” Many of your reflections made me grin, but that one made me laugh out loud.

    Top sheet: tricky one. I would put it pattern facing up, but if you have to fold the top bit down over a blanket/quilt, then you have six inches or so of the ‘wrong’ side showing, which I suspect interior designers would frown upon. Solution is to have a bedspread that covers the whole thing, I suppose. Except I can’t be bothered with a bedspread (ditto lots of throw pillows that get removed from the bed prior to sleeping… OMG I just want to go to bed, not play Bedroom Tetris!). My solution: no patterned bedsheets, just plain ones, and not to folding the sheet down at all. Because seriously, who looks in our bedroom? Us, and the cat… and because of the cat, there are towels covering most of the bed/quilt anyway.

    I suspect I was regularly described as “Sem’s wee fat American wifie” by any of our former villagers who needed a description when discussing me!

    Love the dino-dinner pic!

  4. Avatar Jamie Hannigan says:

    I always put the top sheet facing down. That way, when I fold the top of the sheet back over the blanket, the pretty side shows.

  5. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    Top sheet with pattern facing down. That way you’re sleeping *inside* the pattern, so the symmetry is satisfying when your eyes are closed and you’re unconscious.

  6. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    The top sheet has a pattern?

  7. AJ AJ says:

    What Matt said . . . .

  8. AJ AJ says:

    Coffee cake is not flavored with coffee (although it COULD be) but made to be eaten along with your coffee. Is that an American thing? Hmmmm . . . I never thought about it before. Maybe that transferred over from the Brits and their tea cakes. And my mother used the term generically. She could be referring to bear claws, crullers, donuts . . . any one of a hundred things one could consume along with coffee. And is a “Danish” only to be made by Danes? . . . or maybe only consumed by folks from Denmark? I hope neither is true because I do love me some cheese Danish . . . . either with or without coffee!

  9. Avatar Judith Salter says:

    Bed sheet pattern goes toward sleeper. When you turn it over blanket top, the pattern shows!

  10. Avatar Meredith Fisher says:

    Yes to S and C on the bottles in the shower. Don’t even get me started on those mini travel size containers shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, all in the proper TSA-approved bag. Then you get in the shower and have unreadable containers so you lotion up your hair, condition your body, shampoo your face!

    • AJ AJ says:

      I’ve learned to (most of the time)check out those shampoo/conditioner bottles before getting into the shower. But heaven help me if they are the same color. Let’s see, did I put the shampoo on the right . . . or is that the conditioner. . . .

  11. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    “Nine times out of 10 when I’m putting a fitted sheet on a bed, I end up starting with the short end on the long side.”

    Ditto. How hard would it be to have a little tag that says, “Top” or “Bottom”?

  12. OK, I’ll tell you … I have always put the top-sheet pattern-side up, because I like to see the sheet pattern if I fold down the blanket. But all of your rationales make perfect sense (especially Deb’s, which takes care of the whole issue.) I think another solution would be if top-sheet manufacturers made a really wide border in the patter at the top, so we could fold it down over the blanket and see the pattern no matter which side we had the pattern. (Does that make sense?)

  13. Avatar Carolyn Dokter says:

    Yes, what Matt said about the sheet. And TP for sure, has to be hanging over, not under. 🙂

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Agreed, Carolyn, for both sheets and toilet paper. But as to Deb’s solid color sheet comment, there is still a right and wrong side to solid sheets, generally some sort of decorative stitching at the hem line. So the side with the decorative stitching should face the bottom sheet so that it shows when turned back over the blanket – at my house, anyway.

  14. AJ AJ says:

    Oh, puh-leeze . . with the toilet paper. PLEASE wrap it so it comes over the top. For we senior citizens who still travel but also get up in the night and find ourselves in unfamiliar (I was going to say ‘strange’ but decided that was too open to interpretation!) bathrooms. Do you know how many times I’ve unrolled half a roll of toilet paper on to the floor before I woke up enough to realized it was in a pile on the floor?

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      I ho-ho-ed right out loud at your comment, AJ. Over the top absolutely. White only and no pattern, please. I don’t think dyes in the area toilet paper is used for is at all a good idea.

      • AJ AJ says:

        Oh, I used to LOVE the patterned toilet paper . . . but you are probably right, Bev. So, now I take it out on paper towels in the kitchen. Unless they have some sort of blue/green design, they do NOT come into my house. Of course, the dirty dishes and unmade bed doesn’t upset me, but heaven forbid my paper towels don’t match.
        Did I hear someone mumble something about ” . . . . strain at a gnat but swallow a camel?”

        • Guess what, AJ? Because of you, and others, but mainly you, I will forever have my toilet paper over.

          You’re welcome. 😉

          • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

            Oh . . . . what a relief. I can now leave this world . . . eventually . . . . knowing I’ve left some good behind!! (not to be confused with a good behind of which I have ample).

  15. Avatar Kay Vanderhyde says:

    On the subject of sheets (and blankets for that matter,) since they all have tags why not put THE tag(s) at the center foot in the first place?

  16. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Regarding the gender experiment? There WAS actually a scientific experiment based on that exact scenario back in the early 70’s done by a PhD candidate at the U of O in Oregon . I remember it well because it was my dad! And he build a huge contraption from a swing set and mannequins to demonstrate the findings of the way humans interact based on gender when passing each other on the street. It reminds me of another great story of my youth….for another column, of course!!