In Love with Death by Satish Modi – Media Blitz

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“A must read for everyone who seeks spirituality and happiness, by giving joy to others and those who simply want to make the most of the one short life that one is given.”

Ashanti Omkar, cultural expert, Monocle

New Book by Industrialist and Philanthropist Explores “Love Affair” with Death, and Reveals Surprising Secret to Living Well

 

Described as the “son of the founder of modern industrial India,” Satish Modi is a member of one of the most influential and affluent families in India. Yet despite privilege and success, he discovered happiness was not synonymous with wealth—and the secret to a meaningful life begins with a fresh understanding of death.

He now shares how his unique understanding of death has enabled him to embrace an extraordinary and impactful life, and reveals how reinterpreting death can help others live to the fullest in his new book, In Love with Death (Birlinn Limited, $16.95 / £9.99 hardcover, May 1, 2014).

Challenging readers to mark their “death date” and calculate their remaining time on earth (or, “reverse living”), Modi seeks to empower people to overcome their fear of dying, and enable them to live meaningful lives of goodness, love, and compassion.

Including poignant narratives from people from all walks of life, Modi sweeps the reader into a journey through life’s joys and sorrows with fascinating stories, thought-provoking philosophy, and wise advice from a life well lived.

The result is a fascinating book that teaches us that whoever we are and whatever our aspirations in this life, it is important for everyone to accept their own passing—and embrace the courage to live fully.

“It is my hope that engaging with our own mortality will help us to appreciate the world in which we live and encourage us to make the most of our lives,” Modi said.

Modi started India’s first private airline (Modiluft, now known as Spice Jet) in 1993, and established the International Institute of Fine Arts (www.iifaindia.org) in India in 2000. His foundation also runs the Right to Education program, which provides subsidized/free education to four thousand underprivileged children. He set up the charity “Arts for India” (www.artsforindia.org) help needy young artists in India get the education they deserve.

IN LOVE WITH DEATH by Satish Modi

Published by Birlinn Limited, May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1780272146

$16.95 / £9.99 Ÿ 174 pages

High res imageDeath is the inevitable fate of every single person on earth. How do we accept the inevitability of our own death? How do we live our lives with meaning? Will money lead us to happiness? Satish Modi examines these questions and more in a moving, powerful, thought-provoking work based on his own reflections as well as the experiences of people from all walks of life. The result is a fascinating book that teaches us that whoever we are and whatever our aspirations in this life, it is important for each and every one of us to accept our own passing. In doing so, we free ourselves to live as fully as possible, guided by the principles of goodness, love, and compassion.

 

SaitshModi_authorphoto2SATISH MODI is a philanthropist, educationist, industrialist, and author who divides his time between London and New Delhi. He is respected for his entrepreneurial approach to international business.

Modi started India’s first private airline (Modiluft, now known as Spice Jet) in 1993 and in 2013 he founded a Football Club in the U.K. known as Modi Town Football Club. He founded and is on the board of India’s first offshore mutual fund, the J.F. India Fund, which is part of J.P. Morgan Chase. His father established the Modi Group of Industries and, in 1933, established the industrial township of Modinagar, which now has a population of half a million people. The group has a turnover of about US $1.2 billion.

Satish Modi and his wife Abha established the International Institute of Fine Arts (www.iifaindia.org) in 2000. His Foundation also runs the Right to Education program, which provides subsidized/free education to four thousand underprivileged children in India. The philanthropic project, ‘A Stitch in Time’ is an initiative to empower women. This has enabled thousands of women to earn their livelihood respectfully. In 2010 Modi launched Arts for India, a charity to raise funds to support underprivileged, yet talented artists from India (www.artsforindia.org).SatishwithwifeandPrinceCharles

Satish Modi is President of the Dayawati Modi Foundation for Art, Culture and Education. Mother Teresa was one of the first to receive its annual award. His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the Dayawati Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education in 2011. Other prominent awardees include Anish Kapur, Mark Shand, Goldie Hawn, Simon Beaufoy, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Amitabh Bachchan.

He is also President of the G.M. Modi Science Foundation that promotes Science and Technology in India and has instituted the prestigious annual G.M. Modi Science Award. Among the recipients is Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India.

Under his initiative, various art shows were organized at several venues around the world, including Tate Britain, London; the House of Lords, London; the Saatchi Gallery, London and the New York Academy of Art, New York. A Fashion Show was also organized at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2011.

He was a member at UNESCO’s Global Forum on the ‘Power of Peace’. On the invitation of UNESCO, Satish Modi created, for the first time, an Art Show on the theme ‘Power of Peace’ at the UNESCO Global Forum held at Bali, Indonesia in 2007.

For his services to the nation, Satish Modi has received a number of awards and honors including the Gem of India Award. He was appointed an Ambassador for Philanthropy by the UK’s Founding Ambassador for Philanthropy, Dame Stephanie Shirley. In 2010, he was nominated for an Arts & Business Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy. He was also invited for a Breakfast Prayer Meeting in Washington D.C. by Mr. George Bush, the then President of U.S.A.

 

 

Life on the Bayou, “Lucy” at the aquarium, and an MRI

Gosh, but it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write. So much has happened in the past two months and it’s left me turning in circles and unable to focus for a while.

December found us spending more time in church for funerals of family members, than not. I lost my dad at the beginning of December, a very close friend the day after Christmas and my husband’s niece lost her baby only days before her due date before New Year’s.

Losing a parent is rough and going through a funeral with family members at each other’s throats is not a pleasant situation. Losing someone who has been an integral part of your life for the better part of 17 years isn’t easy. Especially when that person sees you as part of their family and that is how it was. This man was as close to a saint on earth as I have ever met. He touched so many lives in a spiritual way and his legacy will live on forever. He was that kind of man, truly special.

Our niece’s baby did so many somersaults that she managed to twist her umbilical cord to the point it cut off her life-line to her mother. She was a beautiful little baby, pink as could be as she had just passed before delivery. It was heartbreaking for everyone. Her passing marked the third death in my husband’s family in five months.

As I look back and try to absorb all the emotions that have been floating around, I told my husband that I didn’t know what was the hardest – grieving a parent you’ve known your entire life, watching the burial of a beloved man, or watching two twenty-eight year olds standing with their arms around each other when they finally make the decision to allow the casket to be closed on a baby they will never get to raise.

Life is strange and definitely not for us mere mortals to understand. At the baby’s funeral, our priest said that the week before we had buried one of our finest (our friend) and that day, we were burying one of our purist. On New Year’s Day when our priest visited at the hospital, he spoke about the baby being a true angel, that she wasn’t tainted by this world. She had never taken a breath of this life. I thought of the Blessed Mother carrying a Savoir, and I thought what an honor, to be chosen by God, to carry an angel. That is special.

This past week I had the chance to play with the penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. A friend of mine has a child with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and he was eligible to be part of the Easter Seals program that sponsors the event. My friend invited me to go along. She is too funny and sweet. The aquarium is closed on Mondays and she knows that I am an introvert and suffer from social anxiety. When the person told her we would be the only ones there (besides the other four families) she immediately thought of me – so off we went on a field trip, the two of us and two of her children. Did I mention how great it is to have such wonderful friends who love you and take your quirks in stride? I was not always so lucky, so I know that I am truly blessed.

We had so much fun, but the day wasn’t without incident! “Lucy” just had to do something! After learning about the penguins and their habitat, we were invited to enter the habitat and play with them. Of course, the habitat includes a huge swimming hole! I think I prayed the entire time that I would not fall in, because if that was going to happen to anyone it would have been me!

Most of the penguins are quite friendly and we were able to hold them. We were allowed to stay and play for a long time, which was nice. We weren’t rushed at all and the penguins seem to enjoy the visit as much as we did. The person in charge was as eager to answer all of our questions, as we were to ask them.

The only thing I feel bad about is that I am in most of the pictures because Mom was busy taking pictures of the kids and I was helping them hold and play with penguins! I felt she should have been in the photos instead of me, but at least the camera was safe in her hands. At the end of the visit, we were squired away to a room where two penguins with paint on their feet walked all over paper taped to the floor. Each child went home with a stuffed penguin and a picture “painted” by the penguins. We had so much fun!

Okay “Lucy” did have one incident that could definitely have been disastrous, but wasn’t. When we entered the door to go to the penguin’s habitat, don’t ask me what I expected to see. A staircase perhaps? What I saw was a ladder, much like those used in boats to climb down into the engine rooms. I had to laugh at myself and even said, “Oh! A ladder.” We climbed up the ladder with no problem and I forgot all about it – that is, until it was time to leave.

Having spent a little time climbing up and down such ladders, I knew as I watched everyone climbing down as though it were a staircase, that it wasn’t. Soon, it was our turn to follow Jude’s mom and sister down the ladder. They laughed when they turned around and saw Jude and I descending the ladder the same way we had climbed up. A ladder is a ladder is a ladder, I don’t care how you call it. She thought I was little nuts when I described how I climbed down, but Jude and I made it safely to the bottom with him climbing down by himself (like a big boy) surrounded by my arms.

That was the safe part, because as I turned around and started out the door, I didn’t see the raised lip and almost went flying. I still can’t tell you how and where I caught myself, but fortunately an accident was avoided.

If you would like to read about the program and see a few pictures, please click on the link. http://www.nola.com/family/index.ssf/2015/01/easter_seals_louisiana_and_aud.html

And, what do you do on the way home with kids? You stop for chicken tenders! We had a great day and it was nice to be light-hearted for a while.

Tuesday, I had an appointment at Ochsner for a MRI on my hand. The diagnosis was erosive arthritis and if you follow me on Instagram, (@SouthernCharmPlanner) I am documenting my progress with a medication that was prescribed. My doctor told me Erosive Arthritis is a cousin of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not a lot is known about it and there is no cure or known treatment – rare was what she called it. That didn’t surprise me as I already have two “rare” blood disorders. I am an INTJ and have a “rare” personality – 4% of the population share this personality. Rare is quickly becoming part of my vocabulary.

Since Hubby was off at the duck camp, a friend went with me to the hospital. On the way home – laughing here – we stopped at iHop. It’s not only children who like chicken tenders! We ended up sitting and talking until almost dark!

I escaped two incidents this week unscathed – which still has me shaking my head. The second was Friday evening when I went to the dog’s kennel to check to make sure their blankets had not been drug out of their houses. Their kennel is the white picket fenced yard surrounding my Garden House (the pic is above). Their houses are located under an overhang to the side and on a wooden platform. As I walked onto the wooden platform, my foot slipped on the slime (it’s been raining) and down I went. My arm went down on top of the fence between two pickets and I hit my knees. My thought as I was going down was this is going to be a bad one. By the Grace of God, I was kneeling down and wondering what I broke when I realized I hadn’t hurt myself, not even my knees! I am still shaking my head because I’ve done more damage with less traumatic falls. My favorite jacket was even spared.

Other than catching up on Etsy orders and book reviews, that has been my week. Hope you enjoyed visiting!

 

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Comparison between the Zink hAppy and LG pocket printer and Do we ever use a bag for it’s original purpose?

My answer would have to be no.  I am always multi-purposing bags.Image (2) These two pictures are perfect examples. Both were originally intended to be make-up bags. I, of course, found better uses.

The green bag is an Orla Kiely bag from Target. I love her products and actually do have one of her make-up cases that does house my make-up.

This green bag, however, was the perfect size for my Zink hAppy printer. There are two zip compartments on this bag. One that is about 1.5″ in depth on top and then the larger bottom compartment. The top houses the recharging cord perfectly. The bottom compartment houses the Zink hAppy and two of the 2″ wide rolls of film. The case will protect them while traveling.

(The extra little photo at the upper right is a thank you note that I recently sent to someone who so thoughtfully gave me a plant. No one really wants to ask the recipient exactly what the florist sent, but at the same time, you’d like to know that it was as nice as what was described. This is when one of the little printers comes in handy. I snapped an photo and added some thank you text to the it and printed it. I then adhered it to stationary and mailed it. This would be especially nice to do for those holiday gifts that were mailed to you or your child.)

Image (4)The second photo shows a little bag I purchased from Talbots online this fall. I love the pink and blue combination; very feminine. It is just large enough to house the LG photo printer and its charging cord. It also has space to add a pack of extra film. While the Zink hAppy is much to large and bulky to tote around on a daily basis, this handy little LG is the perfect size to tuck into my tote bag.

While I enjoy using both products, I have to admit that I like the convenience of the LG’s size. Both products offer several of the same amenities: collage of photos and adding text. What the LG does not offer and is actually a great selling point for the Zink hAppy is the ability to print on sticker paper. Both products use the same type of film, only the Zink hAppy allows you to peel off the backing and adhere your photo to your choice of medium.

I keep a travel journal and this allows me to print and stick my photos alongside my commentary of the trip. I use an iPhone 5 and each printer has its own app that makes printing a snap. The Zink hAppy communicates via wireless and the LG uses Bluetooth. The Zink hAppy allows you the option of printing using several different size widths from 1/2″ up to 2″ and I think up to 18″ long. You can also make a banner using this device. When printing from my phone’s photo album I was actually able to print a number of photos without stopping. The photos were automatically clipped so when I cut the long thread, all I needed to do was peel each individual print off of the backing and place it on my book pages. These are options not offered by the LG. Your prints are 2×3″.

The quality of the printers is actually amazing for little printers. The photos from each of these two devices is comparable so either would be a good purchase. Both use Zero ink technology. The prices are comparable. The Zink hAppy did cost more because I purchased a battery so I did not have to rely on plugging the device in. The print paper is approximately the same for both. The packages contain different amounts of film. The jury is still out on the LG battery life. The Zink hAppy’s battery life last a very long time. I’m not sure if I charged the internal battery on the LG long enough – the light was green – or if it died quickly. The instructions are in another language with no English offered so I’m figuring out this printer with no help. It also does not have a designated on/off button per say; the Zink hAppy does. You definitely know when the printer is on and off.

*Note here – I just watched several You-Tube videos on this little stinker and it turns out the little lock/unlock button on the side is the on/off. I thought it meant that the device locked to insure the lid did not open.

The Zink hAppy can be dressed up with different colored skins (purchased separately). The LG comes in white, yellow, and pink.

I purchased both of these products and the above opinion is my own. If you have questions, please comment below and I’ll try to answer them from my own experience. I purchased my printers from Amazon. These are the links.
ZINK hAppy Smart App Printer
ZINK 2 inch zRoll
ZINK hAppy Rechargeable Battery

LG PoPo Pocket Photo 2 PD239
Zink Media Photo Paper

 

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Holiday Book Deals – MK McClintock

Holiday Book Deals 2014_MKMcClintock

 

I cannot recommend these books enough. I’ve read and reviewed every one of her books and I have not been disappointed!

 

Enjoy!

10 Toxic People You Shouldn’t Bring With You Into The New Year

Théo Gosselin

Can you believe that it’s already December? This year has flown by in the blink of an eye and we’re on the verge of yet another year — a year full of possibility.

What you will accomplish next year greatly depends on the people you surround yourself with. Or, in other words, it greatly depends on which people you decide not to surround yourself with.

When bringing in the new year, be sure not to bring all your garbage with you. Leave these toxic individuals in 2014; you’ll feel much lighter, allowing you to get a great running start on the year to come.

1. The people who make your life more stressful.

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing — in fact, it’s what you make it out to be. If you believe stress is bad for you, then it will be bad for you. If you use stress as the motivator it is, to motivate you to act, then stress can actually be rather healthy.

However, you should aim to only be stressed by situations and not by people. If you have people in your life who are constantly managing to stress you out, that’s your mind telling you — and trying to motivate you — to remove them from your life.

Life is stressful as it is. You don’t need someone making it more so.


2. The people who use you.

To be fair, everyone uses everyone — and usually it’s OK. We interact with others because we find that it will benefit us in some way. If we didn’t believe it would, then we wouldn’t find sufficient reason to interact with them.

Sometimes we find people in our lives who use us in ways that end up hurting us. Most people will use us and by doing so, either maintain or improve our wellbeing.

Then you have those toxic individuals who use you and leave you worse off, sucking you dry and feeding off you like a parasite.

These sorts of people have no place in your life; don’t bring them into 2015.


3. The people who don’t respect you.

Every respectful person deserves to be respected in return; that’s how respect works. If you find that you have a person or people in your life who have difficulty giving you the respect you give them, tell them to buzz off.

Have enough respect for yourself to never allow others to disrespect you and remain a part of your life.


4. The people who always manage to hurt you.

People can be silly sometimes. The people we keep a part of our lives are the people we care about — or at least, that ought to be the case. Some of these individuals, sadly, end up hurting us and causing us pain.

The problem is that when others cause us pain, we’re reminded of how much those people mean to us. If they could hurt us emotionally, we must care for them and what they think of us a great deal — so we allow them to remain a part of our lives.

Often, we’ll even allow these individuals to take up more room. People hurt other people — it’s just the way the world works. But if you have someone in your life who can’t manage to stop hurting you, do yourself a favor and cut that person off.

Pain is only good if it teaches you a lesson. In this case, the lesson is to stop allowing others to use you as a punching bag.


5. The people who can’t seem to stop lying to you.

Everyone lies. In fact, within the first few minutes of meeting a new person, that person is likely to lie to you a handful of times. Most lies are harmless, but that all changes when the people who are lying to you are the people you trust.

Fill your life with trustworthy people and you’ll be far better off. You can find lies just about anywhere. Finding the truth, on the other hand, is much more rare.


6. The people who smile to your face and then insult you behind your back.

These are the scum of the scum, cowards that don’t have the guts to speak their minds. These individuals enjoy pretending to be your friend while telling the rest of the world that you’re a piece of sh*t.

These people will ruin your reputation and, as most of us now know, reputation matters a whole lot in the world we live in. Only idiots would start a new year with these sorts of individuals in their life.


7. The people who don’t care about you, but love to pretend they do.

We’ve all had people in our lives who act like our friends only when it’s convenient for them.

These toxic individuals are “pseudo friends” — a lot of fun to hang out with, and more than willing to accept help, but when you need their help they’re miraculously nowhere to be found.

These individuals are especially toxic because they give you the illusion of a safety net. You think you can lean on them for support, but when you reach for their shoulder, you fall over and hit the ground.


8. The people who drag you back into your old lifestyle.

Life is only interesting and exciting if it’s constantly progressing. Only when we’re constantly moving forward, constantly improving ourselves and our surroundings, are we able to find contentment and happiness.

Most people always manage to keep people in their lives who are holding on to the life you once had.

You have worked hard to progress and make changes, but these individuals prefer life the way it used to be, and do their best to bring you back to the cave you just crawled out of.

Be wary of these folks, they’re often difficult to pinpoint and always manage to revert the progress you worked so hard to make.


9. The people who hold you back.

There’s a fact to life that I’ve grown to accept over the past few years — a fact that isn’t especially pleasant, but nonetheless necessary to accept as truth: Many people in your life, the people you call friends, shouldn’t be a part of your life.

As time passes, we change as individuals. Our hopes and goals change, often leaving the relationships we have in place outdated.

Many of the people in your life likely don’t want to live the life you’re building for yourself. Because they’re egocentric, they’ll do their best to create their version of their ideal life and drag you into it.

Most times, people fail to create the life of their dreams because they surround themselves with people aiming for something entirely different.

If your goals aren’t aligned, your lives aren’t either.


10. The people just taking up space.

Everything in life is limited. Resources are limited. Time is limited. Space is limited. What you can accomplish within a lifetime is limited. We can’t, and never will be able to, have it all.

This is why you have to be very careful with not only what you choose to do, but with whom you choose to do it with.

You can only maintain a handful of strong relationships at any given time — you just don’t have the time, energy or mental focus to handle more.

If you’re filling your life with half-assed individuals, you’re bound to create a half-assed life. If someone isn’t adding to your life, then, by default, they’re taking away from it.

Leave them in 2014 and build a better inner circle.

 

Pretty good advice if you ask me.

Reposted from: http://elitedaily.com/life/toxic-people-new-year/879975/

Memories of my Dad

IMG_5629My dad passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 84. He had been struggling for a while, suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s. The one person who should have been holding the family together, was more instrumental in tearing it apart so that now we are a family divided.

The last time I visited with my dad was this summer. He didn’t seem to know who I was. He still looked well and I felt good about my visit with him. That was the last time I saw him. I know that as time marched on, his condition deteriorated and I chose not to visit. While some may view this as a cop-out, I look at it as self-preservation. The family drama also made visits difficult.

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My mother, father, younger sister, me and my sister Debbie.

I lost a sister fifty years ago to Leukemia. I was 5 and Debbie was 7. I remember some things as though it happened yesterday. It was an event in my life that changed me forever. I do not deal very well with losing people. I know that it’s part of life; just not one that I deal with very well.

I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life, beginning when I was very young. The last, and most devastating loss was during my divorce from my children’s father. That was 18 years ago. Although they are blissfully unaware of what transpired (the therapist said I protected them too much) and how things have progressed to where they are now, it was through manipulation called Parental Alienation Syndrome. That’s the problem with PAS. Children do not normally realize what happened until sometimes many years in to adulthood and they get angry any time it is mentioned. Sometimes much too late to reconcile with the alienated parent.

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My Dad‘s parents, my dad, me and my daughter, Ashley

This is a loss I wake up with every day of my life. While we bury some of our loved ones, grieve, and somehow manage to move on with life, this is different. It is a loss of a loved one every day and you continue to grieve, but not move on.

My Dad wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But, he was a good dad. He was a State Trooper for many years and because the pay was extremely low, he sometimes worked three jobs to support his family. If I had a “situation” he was there to fight my battles, to defend me. He sewed my broken bra straps. He dried my tears. When I needed a bug collection for science class, he helped me catch the bugs and then he carefully preserved them and mounted them inside of a glass case that he built for me.

He built two wooden shadow boxes and hinged them together. It had a handle and a latch and looked like a wooden briefcase. Inside each side he mounted styrofoam board with my bugs and installed glass over each side. It was the best in the school. While others mounted their bugs on poster board, my dad helped me mount them in first class. I was teased unmercifully, but like Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, that bug case was made with more love and attention that most kids get in a lifetime.

There was a Christmas when I received a little keyboard and I learned to play the Blue Danube. He was so proud. Anyone who came to the house had to listen to me play! I remember my dad singing all of us to sleep with Red River Valley. I also remember him keeping a little jar of lemon drops on the dresser and we were forbidden to enter my parents bedroom. We’d go to bed and listen to make sure they were in the kitchen and one of us would sneak into the room and take a couple of lemon drops. He never said anything about the missing lemon drops, although I’m sure he knew we took them.

He passed on his love of German Shepherds to me. He accepted me as the person I am. I am proud to have had him as my dad.

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State Police Headquarters

When my dad began feeling the effects of his illness, he mention two things that he wanted to do. One was visit the State Police Academy and the second was to visit his hometown of Olla, Louisiana. My husband (also a retired trooper) made arrangements to take him on a tour of the academy and he had the opportunity to sit in the Colonel‘s chair. He enjoyed his day tremendously and I was so blessed to have this time with him. The second in command presented him with two State Police medallions and when we returned home, I printed a photo of the old academy and of him in the Colonel’s chair and framed it along with the medallions. He loved to look at it everyday and tell the story. I regret that his health soon declined and we never had the chance to take him to Olla.

My dad had retired from the State Police by the time my second daughter was born, but when my first-born was little, he loved driving up to my house and putting the lights on for her. She would stand in the window and clap her hands. She adored her grandpa and he her. She was the first grandchild and the darling of his eye. He often picked her up and took her home with him.

IMG_5609My dad was a member of the MPs.

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This is my older sister and I with my dad at Christmas around 1959-60.
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My dad and me about 20 years ago.

While I miss my dad terribly, I know he is in a better place. A place where he can no longer hear the drama and manipulation around him. A place where he can now hold the child he lost so many years ago. That brings peace to my heart and I feel more happiness than sorrow. I’ve had him all these years and now my sister will have her turn in eternity. That makes me happy.

Those thoughts will carry me through his wake and funeral. I’ll grieve but it will be bittersweet. Goodbye for now my wonderful Dad. You were here for me when I needed you and I will miss you. Enjoy your life in eternity.

 

As the days are slowing creeping by, more memories have been floating around and I wanted to add them to this post, mostly for myself, but I also thought you might enjoy them as well.

When I posted on Facebook – what did we do before Facebook – to let my friends know that my dad had passed away, they began sharing memories of their own, which in turn, brought back memories for me.

There were times when I was stopped by policemen and didn’t understand why. I was always told I was going too fast, when I was pretty sure I had not been. Years later, I found out the reason. My dad, who was a State Trooper at the time would occasionally come across other law enforcement officer’s children who were speeding. He had a habit of following the kids home or driving them home, if need be, and standing there while they admitted to their parents that they had been driving way too fast, or were inebriated. Turns out, it wasn’t always appreciated by the parents. Also turned out, I was an easy target. I drove to school my senior year and like most places with one highway, it was easy to spot your target. While it bothered me at the time, I’m pretty proud that my dad tried to take the better road by trying to help these fellow classmates out rather than plopping them in jail. I can only imagine the retaliation I would have received if that had happened.

My high school boyfriend said there were many scary moments with my dad (I think I may remember more than my fair share – blushing here) but the one he really remembers is when he hit a parked car as he was driving past my house – about 15 miles away from where his father thought he was.

Another school mate admitted that my dad had stopped him for speeding and he must have been singing my praises (he was a friend) because being my friend got him out of a ticket.

I guess those were the good old days with such simple stories. My little group of friends and I were the goody two-shoes as the saying goes. Our idea of trouble was stopping in a curve on the “back road” and running into the graveyard to touch a grave. Of course, it was Deadman’s Curve where the groom was racing to see why his bride had been delayed and they crashed head-on. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this?

My dad’s CB handle was the Toy Maker. He carried his wooden toys that he made in a box in his police unit. When I was expecting my first daughter, he built a cradle for her. It is a work of art. He later made replicas for both of my daughter’s for their dolls. I have a toy train that runs around my Christmas tree each year.

I’m not calling this post finished because I know there are lots of memories that I will remember. Hope you enjoyed some of them.

 

The No-Stress Holiday Organizer An All-in-One Guide to Planning and Recording your holidays

About the Book:

3-month calendar for Nov – Dec – Jan filled with:

* To-do Lists
* Budget Guides
* Decoration Trackers
* Guest Lists/Contact Info
* Party Planning Breakdown
* Menu Planners
* Grocery Lists
* Cooking Schedules
* Recipes
* and MORE

Purchase on AMAZON

Book Details
Authors: Cedar Fort Staff
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Plain Sight
Genre: Holiday

Get organized this holiday season! Make you plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s as enjoyable for you as it is for your guests. From calendars and checklists to budget sheets and journal pages, this book saves you the time and money to enjoy family traditions old and new – year after year!

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“The No-Stress Holiday Organizer” blog tour schedule:

November 1: The Hungry Family at Home
November 2: Books Devoured
November 3: Practical Frugality • I Love to Read and Review Books
November 4: Literologie
November 5: Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl
November 6: My Life One Story at a Time
November 7: Live to Read
November 8: Mel’s Shelves
November 9: Crossroad Reviews • Read For Your Future • Book Hounds
November 10: My Reading Room
November 11: Readalot • The Author’s Hideaway • Why Not? Because I Said So • LDS Women’s Book Review
November 12: My Book Addiction and More
November 13:
November 14: Blooming with Books
November 15: A Casual Reader’s Blog • The Things I Love Most • Wishful Endings

My Thoughts:

I am already an organized person, but I’m always out to learn a few more tricks. With Halloween gone and the three next big holidays of the year looming in the foreground, everyone is wondering how to get it all done and get it done efficiently. The No-Stress Holiday Organizer book will certainly help to keep even the most disorganized person on track.

Featuring a three-month at a glance planning calendar is an excellent idea. It is quite easy to overbook activities or to lose track of how many days remaining before the big event. This will help to ensure that the holidays flow without too much anxiety. Like checklist? This book will definitely have you doing the happy dance.

Broken down into holidays, it offers you a no-stress plan to keep you on track with shopping and planning and execution. As great as cell phones are these days, not everyone is using one to chart their grocery list. The No-Stress Holiday Organizer offers those individuals a list to record their items that follows the layouts of most grocery stores. This will eliminate traipsing across the store and even forgetting items.

The book also offers help with budgeting and with the holidays, who can’t use a little extra help in that department? Do you think of doing an inventory of the items that you only use at holiday time? Do you remember what was broken or needed to be replaced?

Along with a Christmas To Do list, the book offers a list of those forgotten people – the postman, etc. and offers an example of how much is appropriate to spend.

It is a great book even for the ultra-organized person like me. I have to admit I took the book on as a challenge and was pleasantly surprised to pick up a few tips along the way.

Is there someone in your life who’s a little bit on the unorganized side? Look no further for the perfect holiday gift!

Purchase on AMAZON

Holiday Planning begins with pretty planner pages!

I was feeling the holiday spirit today and thought why not decorate a few pages in my May Book and share with others. Sometimes you look at your planner pages and think, this needs a little pizzaz, a little life breathed into it. I am hoping to inspire you.

As you have seen in many posts on my blog, I use a planner. I am a person who loves to plot my days. In fact, I need the To Do lists to keep me focussed. If not, I tend to just wander around and do all sorts of other things rather than the things I really need to accomplish that particular day.

Don’t think you have to spend a lot of money in order to be organized; a simple notebook will do. I have the Day-timer and inserts – which I adore. I have an Erin Condren – which I’m not particularly fond of. The layout just doesn’t suit me. I found a way to make each of these systems work for me, which shows you how false the claim “I can’t find a system that works for me” is. I know some will disagree, but they won’t change my mind. You first have to figure out your organization style, how your mind works, and what you are capable of doing with that information. Then you choose a system that will work for you and not against you, setting you up for failure.

If all you do is take a sheet of paper and draw columns and make lists, you’ll find your day more productive. If you have kids, a job, and home life, make three columns. Write what needs to be done in the appropriate column along with a timeframe. You don’t need a fancy planner. Throw a few stickers and little washi tape on the page and now it’s pretty.

As I said, I have tried many systems and they all work but my favorite is just a little notebook. My one obsession is graph paper. It works with my personality. I know this so I use it. I also use a month at a glance calendar. I record appointments, bills, etc. on the month at a glance calendar. This is the calendar that I throw into my bag when I leave the house. I have all the important information with me so if I have to make an appointment or check and see if we have a free day to add an activity, this calendar will tell me. The To Do lists are left at home in the book.

I normally sit down either Saturday or Sunday and transfer everything for the upcoming week to my graph book. I decorate it if that’s what I have in mind to do and I write my lists for the week. Of course, as the days go by, things will be added, but I now have my week set up. I use a page for each day (this allows for my HUGE handwriting and decorating) and I divide a page in half for Saturday and Sunday. You may need an entire page for Saturday and Sunday and that’s okay, I don’t.

I make my own stickers and I love using them. They can all be found in my Etsy store (www.etsy.com/shop/SouthernCharmPlanner) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlannerAccessories  Also check out the planner group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlanners We love posting pictures of our planner pages and you can always find tips on organizing and supplies. You can find stickers and washi tape at Michaels, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and any number of stores that sale craft supplies as well as on-line. Just start googling.

I am posting some pages and I’ll tell you how I achieved the look.

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This is Thanksgiving. There was no need to fill it up with loads of stickers and such (although I did put a few indians and pilgrims). The orange plaid background on both pages is scrapbooking paper. I cut it to a two-inch width and then ran it through a sticker maker (Xyron). I applied it to the page. On top of that I layered one of my To Do list from my shop. I added a few Thanksgiving stickers and I was done. I still have plenty of space to jot down notes about the day or add more to my lists.

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My Black Friday consists of decorating my house for Christmas so I’ll be filling up the empty space on Friday pretty quickly once the day gets closer.

I also decorated a couple of days in December. I couldn’t wait to use some of the Christmas stickers I made, and I love Christmas.

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I wish the pictures were a little brighter because the colors definitely are! Below is how the stickers look in the Erin Condren planner. Christmas stickers

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I achieved this look by using scrapbooking paper and cutting it to length and running it through my sticker maker. I adhered it to the page and then added a To Do list on top. I really like the layered look. It’s festive. This is a day that bills are due so i added the stickers that represent the gas bill, water, cell phone, and cable bills. I also have a meeting that afternoon and the page wouldn’t be complete without a nutcracker or two. FullSizeRender (5)

Cookie Swap will be coming up the beginning of December so I added a little sticker for baking and two To Do lists as there will be plenty to do before the party on Sunday.

I hope these pictures give you a little inspiration to break out of the humdrum and add a few stickers to your planner. It will make you smile and I guarantee you will be hooked. You’ll never look at a planner page the same.

I would love to hear if you are a planner. What system do you use and how is it working for you? Do you decorate? Do you have any questions about planning or organizing? Be sure to leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting today!

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When life goes arwy…

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that I haven’t posted anything personal in a quite a while – as in months and months!

 

Life has taken on a life of its own and I’ve been along for the ride. In August, two sister-in-laws passed away within six days of each other from cancer. One was a very close friend. She chose to cut off contact with family and friends when she was diagnosed and as a result, I did not have the chance to tell her how much she meant to me. I’m sure she knew, but it was something I needed for closure. I understood her reasons, we were a lot alike. The closure was for me, but she was more important so it’s something I’ve come to accept.

 

I was asked by her daughters to give her eulogy so I did have the opportunity to tell her just how much she meant. It was my goodbye and I am thankful to have had that chance to say goodbye.

 

My own father is aging and has been in hospice care for a year. It’s funny, and not the ha ha kind, how illness of a parent can bring out the worst in some siblings. All hell broke loose in my family last year and the family ties have unfortunately been severed; two siblings and four siblings. The one good thing that has come out of the tragedy is an actual relationship with two siblings and a nephew that I didn’t have before. I guess there is sometimes a ray of sunshine between the storm clouds.

 

Moving forward a couple of months to this week. This week was the week from hell as they saying goes. I am on the local planning commission and found out the hard way that someone (the V-chair, I’m chair) I trusted and kept in the loop with every decision or idea I had to improve the commission turned tail. That was quite unexpected and left me stunned. So, I had to deal with betrayal and lies.

 

A standard Waste Management Inc. front-loading...
A standard Waste Management Inc. front-loading garbage truck in San Jose, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, Hubby and I had doctor appointments in the city. On the way in, we came upon an accident scene that just disturbed me beyond words. On our side of a four-lane highway was a garbage truck. In the other lane sat an almost completely demolished small SUV. The engine was laying about forty feet away and the highway was littered with debris as though there had been an explosion. The car was torn apart. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The entire passenger side of the car as well as the front of the car was smashed. I’m not sure of injuries and I’m not a gawker. I did look as we passed, more out of shock than curiosity. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the front seats, but there were two people speaking to  someone in the back passenger seat. By the looks of the damage, that person was not doubt injured and trapped inside the car. As I said, it was very disturbing. I can only pray that they come out of the accident with minor injuries. On the way home, we saw the garbage truck hooked to a wrecker, but there was no visible damage.

 

This morning, we were invited to a marriage validation. That is the term the Catholic church uses when people who have been married outside of the church have their marriage blessed in the church. It was a wonderful ceremony and the priest is one of my favorite and he did a wonderful job acknowledging the ten years that they’ve already been married and how they can now strengthen their marriage. Their little girl was so excited about the ceremony. It was a nice way to start the day.

 

Tonight, we attended a Grant A Wish banquet sponsored by the Louisiana State Police. Besides Hubby being a retired trooper, one of my best friends little boy received a family trip to Disneyworld. To watch these special children and hear their stories just blesses the heart. My friend’s little girl whispered to me that everyone was crying except she and her sister. She is my little mini-me and seven years old. She is just precious and spending the evening with such a wonderful family was a great way to end the day.

English: Louisiana State Police Crown Victoria...
English: Louisiana State Police Crown Victoria Patrol Car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s been a brief synopsis of my life as of late. My plans are to begin writing a little about what I’m up to every few days. I’m trying to write a book or maybe I should say I’m trying to find time to write a book. I have an Etsy shop where I sell planner accessories. I plan on kidnapping Hubby and running away to the mountains again soon. That last trip just wasn’t long enough.

 

Thanks for stopping by and following my blog and entering the giveaways! Until next time…

 

Books I’m Grateful I Read Giveaway Hop

Books-I'm-Grateful-I-Read-Hop

 

I don’t know that there is just one book that I’m grateful

that I’ve read. I am grateful for every book that I’ve read and because

of that reason, I’m giving away an Amazon Gift Card.

Be grateful for every book you read.

There’s just one requirement to enter – click the follow button at the top of my blog.

For a second entry, just for fun, follow me on Instagram at

@SouthernCharmPlanner

Thanks for stopping by and hop on for more prizes!

 

his is a Blog Hop!


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A Southern Porch…

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A Southern porch

This is where life happens in the South, or at least some of it.

My porch is not a fancy porch; it is simply my go-to place, my sanctuary; a place to “catch a breeze”.

There is a swing at one end where I sit while my thoughts find form. For the hot summer days that sometimes reach into the high 90s, there’s a Southern Breeze maker – a fan. Here in the South, we make our own breeze more often than not.

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A Southern breeze maker

The porch is in need of washing for as soon as the mildew has been scrubbed away, it begins to form again. The floor shows the marks of Sentry, a pet, taking a running start and flying off the end in an attempt to avoid landing in the azaleas that line the porch. More marks are noticeable from Calypso, another pet, chasing her tail. Taking up space is a plant bench that my husband made for a daughter. I’m sure she’ll be by at some point to reclaim it, but until then I’ve piled it high with plants; plants I forget to water.

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Two rockers take up residence on the front porch, their red surface marred by the chew marks made by Calypso as a puppy. They sport by contrast, fading yellow putty in need of paint. Across the front steps is a double gate; installed in an attempt to keep our two German Shepherds, Ryka and Calypso, off of the porch. Most days, it swings in the breeze as I am not diligent about securing it. I find it comforting to look up and see one, if not both of my dogs, napping at the front door in an attempt to be near me. Some days, all I see is a blur, as they have left their mark, nose prints on the glass, as they have sat watching my every move inside.

German Shepherds
Ryka and Calypso along with the smudges
German Shepherd
Let sleeping dogs lie

We have plans for the front porch. Much discussion flowed about the pros and cons of putting the screening on the inside or the outside of the railings. The porch railings have gone up without the screen. Louvers will eventually be built and installed at either end of the porch for privacy. Landscape will be cut back and the steps widened to accommodate the double screen doors that will be installed.

West German Shepherd
Calypso

 

Until that time, the front porch is a place to sit and relax. It is a place to dream of the future and contemplate the mistakes of the past. It is a place to drift in time as we Southerners are known to do.

West German Shepherd
Ryka

Golf Balls are Female by Robert Knox (Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, Blitz)

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Robert C. Knox’s Golf Balls are Female book blitz July 1 – 15!

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PUYB Inside the Book

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Golf Balls are FemaleTitle: Golf Balls are Female
Author: Robert Knox
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 282
Genre: Humourous/Fiction
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

I realize that anyone sufficiently intrigued by the title so as to open the cover of Golf Balls Are Female has probably already conjured up some ideas as to its contents. To end the suspense, I will tell you that Golf Balls Are Female is simply about the three greatest pleasures in a man’s life-drinking, golf, and the OU-Texas football game. Unfortunately, life requires a lot of living in between these most gratifying of pursuits, so Golf Balls Are Female is also about public humiliation, immaturity, emotional desperation, broken engagements, deceit, stupidity, sexually transmitted diseases, cybersex, lovesick lunacy, divorce, one-night stands, heartache, and partaking of the world’s oldest profession. Although there are numerous incidents that stretch to the limits of plausibility, the book is based on real life stories. In fact, bona fide concerns about personal retaliation have convinced me to actually leave out some of the more incriminating details. Some readers may find our humor irreverent, others may deem our lifestyles to border on misogynistic, both would be correct. However, those that read beyond the outrageous behavior will find that Golf Balls Are Female is really about friendship. Most importantly, this book answers one of modern man’s most enduring questions-golf balls are definitely female!

amazon

 

PUYB Meet the Author

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Robert C. Knox is a recognized expert in the field of ground water contamination and has won several national awards for excellence in engineering education. He is an avid in-line skater and, currently, a nineteen handicapper.

PUYB Giveaway

Robert is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 1 and ends on July 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, July 17 .
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

You may currently access the Rafflecopter here: http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2014/06/15/pump-up-your-book-presents-golf-balls-are-female-by-robert-knox-book-blitz-win-a-25-amazon-gift-card/

My Life in Review – The Traveling Midori

I have been a member of a group on Facebook for almost a year now. It is a group of people who are enamoured with Midoris, and to celebrate the year anniversary of the group and to promote friendship, one of the members came up with the idea of traveling Midoris. The concept behind the group was that there would x number of groups – depending upon the number of interested parties – and each group would have its own hand-made Midori. This Midori would take a year-long trip to be documented by each member of each group as they in turn hosted the Midori for a week in their lives.

I think the group ended up with approximately ten groups of ten people. These Midoris are traveling world-wide at this very moment, and to me, that is exciting. I am part of the Pioneer Dorian group and I am experiencing my week right now! Each of these Midoris have been hand-crafted by the members of the group and are works of art in their own right. Each person hosting the Midori is encouraged to document their life and add a little of themselves to the book, giving each book its own unique history. It will take a year for each Midori to complete its journey. At that time, the books will be assigned to a new group and begin a new year of travel.

It is very interesting to flip through the pages and see what other’s have chosen to leave of themselves. Some of the participants are artists, some are writers, some lead busy lives, and some lead quiet lives. The journey of each book is also being documented on Instagram with the hashtags #travelingdori #pioneerdorian and others, each representing the name of the group’s Midori. You’ll find us on Twitter and on Facebook in the Traveling Dori group.

This is my story:

I received a package in the mail on Saturday, June 7, 2014. I wasn’t expecting the package as we are not warned ahead of time. It is a surprise for each of us when the Midori will arrive. Even as I opened the envelope, and peered inside, I was still not certain what I was seeing. It was when I pulled out a leather sleeve and looked inside that I realized I was the next recipient of the Pioneer Dorian. As I sat down and began to thumb through the different books, I was taken by surprise by the artistic talents of the person before me. It gave me pause, and I began to picture what I might leave behind for the next person.

Where the person before me was surely a free spirit – drawing and writing in a random fashion – I am not. I shall leave my mark upon the Pioneer Dorian in a much different way – a way that speaks to me, as the next recipient of this piece of history will no doubt do. I will decorate my pages with stickers and washi tape. I will add a ribbon marker to mark my place, pink, as that is my favorite color.

While some are whimsical, I am not. If I contribute art, my mark will be a carefully thought-out Zentangle with precise lines made with intention.

As I turn the pages of this wonderful book, this traveling Midori, I will bring order to it for the short time it is with me – then, I shall send it forward where it will be transformed once again.

I hope you enjoyed the story and enjoy the pictures of the traveling Pioneer Dorian – next stop – Georgia, USA!

Wednesdays in a Southern Kitchen – Crab Cakes

Okay – it’s not Wednesday, but this week has been quite busy and I couldn’t get the post ready on time.

photo 1My highly anticipated and waited for Crab Cake Recipe. Trawling season opened here in Southern Louisiana a couple of weeks ago and fresh shrimp have been abundant at our home – the same with fresh crab. I’ve made this recipe with fresh crabmeat and with fresh chopped boiled shrimp. Both are scrumptous. I hope you enjoy.

This is a simple recipe that I tweaked and if you are adventurous, add additional seasonings such as bell pepper or onions. I like to keep it simple in order to “savor the flavor” of the seafood.

Whisk together in a medium size bowl:

1/2 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 large egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Gently fold in 1 pound of lump crab meat (or 1 pound of boiled shrimp, coarsely chopped)

Fold in 1 cup of crushed crackers (I use Townhouse because us of the flavor – use Townhouse, Saltines, Ritz – your preference)

I use a large cookie scoop to form the crab cakes the same size. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the scooped balls on it, flattening slightly. If necessary, use a second sheet of wax paper for another layer. Place the covered cookie sheet in the freezer for about a half an hour to an hour.

Heat approximately 1/4 to 1/3 inch of oil in the bottom of a skillet (I do not deep fry my crab cakes). Place the crab cakes in the hot oil and cook 4-5 minutes on either side until lightly browned and crispy. It doesn’t take long as the ingredients are mostly cooked to begin with.

Serve as entre’ with a salad or on a bun.

I have never baked them, although I’m sure they would be good that way.

I’ve also been enjoying fresh shrimp salads for the past two weeks. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to veggies and to be honest – I’m being blamed for the deluge of rain we’ve been experiencing as of late – it must be because I’m actually eating veggies!

My salads are very simple to assemble and are quite delicious.

photo 1 (1)Chopped Hearts of Romaine lettuce

Fresh boiled and peeled shrimp

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped cucumber

Craisens (wonderful sweet and chewy – adds texture)

Shredded cheese

Chopped boiled egg

Salad dressing of your choice

I have picked up Hubby’s habit of chopping salad ingredients into bite-sized pieces and eating my salad with a spoon. I know – sounds weird, but I assure you, much more enjoyable! And, besides being a picky eater, I also have a texture thing going on; this allows me to eat a salad, and that’s a good thing (especially when we need rain).

I couldn’t leave you without just a few pictures of Ryka and Calypso, so without further adieu, here they are this week.

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Ryka enjoying the sun. Calypso chasing her tail.
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Calypso after the chase. Ryka grateful she wasn’t trampled during the chase as no one is safe when Calypso winds up.
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Calypso likes to put her ball in her bowl like my last shepherd (Sentry). Just doesn’t want anyone else to get it. (Like that’s gonna happen.)
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Ryka likes to lay down to eat. She’s getting very lazy, especially with the Southern Louisiana heat.
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Ryka decided she liked dryer balls. And, then I couldn’t find them. After seeking help on Facebook, we found more on Amazon.
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Porch time. Safe from Calypso’s tail-chasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you not in a fishing state, this is a trawl boat on opening day off of Grand Island, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
For those of you not in a fishing state, this is a trawl boat on opening day off of Grand Island, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed the recipe and if you decide to fix it, please let me know what you thought.

 

 

 

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My Life in Review – Never let it be said that life is dull

Never let it be said that life around me is dull; I’ll just make my own fun. Yesterday was mow the yard day. Trawling season here in South Louisiana opened so Hubby was occupied for the day and I was looking for something to do.

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photo 5 (2)Ryka and Calypso love to ride the new mower so after all was said and done (the yard mowed) it was have some fun time. I pulled up to the kennel and cut the blade, and they both came running out, actually stumbling over each other in their haste to see who was going to climb up on the mower first. This surprised me as Ryka doesn’t seem to trust me. She’ll ride with Hubby, but is quite hesitant if given the opportunity to ride with me. Kind of makes you wonder…but Calypso? Now, that is a throw-back to the 1960s. She is the wild child and doesn’t think twice about anything. She leaps without looking. It’s all about fun.

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Now, you may think I’m a little crazy because how do I know what my dogs are thinking? Clearly, if that’s the case, you don’t have a dog (and not everyone wants a dog). Ryka is the regal one. She sits like a queen, acts like a queen, gets treated like a queen. Of course, she’s earned it. She came to us fully trained, but sadly only listens part of the time. When I call her, she sometimes just sits there and looks at me. Just like a teenager! I’ll tell her to “come” again and she’ll put her head down and give me the sad eye look. Generally, the third time I call her, she’ll slowly drag her body up – like it’s a huge chore – and walk on over, hoping there will at least be food. On the other hand, if she thinks there’s a belly rub coming, she’ll flip over in a nano second.

Calypso – what can I say? She’s the wild child. She’s half Ryka’s age at 3 and has Doggie ADD. She loves spring – she loves any season. She loves the cold and wet and mud in the winter. She loves the cool days of fall and spring. But, she especially loves the summer months with swimming and bugs. Actually, she loves water period. She loves chasing anything that flies by. I love sitting on the porch swing watching her run back and forth. If you’ve ever watched a cutting horse, you’ll understand. She is very graceful. She runs and cuts and heads back and spins on a dime. Shepherds are very powerful animals and to watch her run and gain speed and cut is actually quite a beautiful dance. What is particularly interesting to watch is when a mosquito hawk (dragon-fly) lands on the chain link fence. She does a series of tapping with her back legs until she gets her position just right and then up she goes on those hind legs and grabs the bug without ever touching the fence – that is grace. Then, in a New York second she’ll bite your finger trying to get her doggie cookie – we’re working on that one. I can feed her ham or cheese and she is quite careful about nibbling it out of my fingers as not to bite (I’m constantly trying their patience on that one so they remember not to bite the hand that feeds them), but if I have a dog cookie, she’ll take my fingers off in the process. I’m still scratching my head on that one.

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Signs have been popping up all over the parish (we are in Louisiana) in the shape of forks. It’s all about tourism. I was at a meeting focusing on our Parish Comprehensive Plan (I’m on the Planning Commission) and there was talk about a new fork that had popped up. To us, who live here on the bayou, it depicts a little humor. It is so often the answer when someone is asking directions – “It’s up the bayou” or “It’s down the bayou.” It is a phrase I even find myself using it quite a bit. I’m a transplant to the area and never gave it a second thought until one of my daughters asked me – “How do you know what is up the bayou and what is down the bayou?” I guess it’s one of those relevant things – if you are here, that’s up and that’s down. Move a little and what was up is now down, or visa versa. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the sign and a little trivia. This particular sign can be found once you exit the interstate, (which crosses Bayou Lafourche) and you circle around to Louisiana Hwy. 1 which runs with the bayou. Instead of Raceland or Lockport, it just simply states “Up the Bayou” or “Down the Bayou.” You have only those two choices.

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I did have a little excitement this week. I attended a meeting and then headed off to grocery shop. My habit is to put my keys in my pocket when I exit my vehicle and then lock the doors. That way, I NEVER forget my keys. There’s that word I NEVER try to use because it always comes back to bite you – NEVER! About half way through shopping I happened to run my hand down my side and realized in a panic that I didn’t feel my keys. At that point I tore my bag apart searching, hoping frantically that I had tossed them inside. No keys.

I did my best to calm down and then began praying in earnest. I completed my shopping and retraced my steps back to the truck. No keys. At this point I was beginning to panic. I stepped up to the window and there on the console were my keys and after my initial excitement, I realized they were locked in and I was locked out. And, to make it worse, Hubby was at a meeting 40 miles away and that person had picked him up at our house – 15 miles “down the bayou” and that is where his set of keys to my truck were. Not a good situation and to make matters worse, it was 6:00, the time his meeting was set to begin. I was quickly adding up the miles involved to get my truck opened – 40 + 15 “down” + 15 “up” + 40 back to the meeting = I had better find another way into the truck.

photo (1)Then I remembered – ONSTAR!!! Then, I thought oh no, how do I call OnStar? I am one of those people – the one who is so organized, she panics that maybe that is the one time the information won’t be found. I did have my phone and I called. The kind lady asked how could she help and of course, being me, I told her my keys were locked in my truck and I was locked out of the truck. The whole process took less than three minutes. I gave her the needed information and she told me to step away from the truck and the locks popped up. Magic! Needless to say, there was a whole lot of prayer thanking going on.

I’m sure those weren’t all of my adventures, but I think I’ve blocked the rest out. See you next week!

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My Life in Review – last week

I was sitting here trying to remember what I’ve done since last week – haven’t we all had that particular LARGE lapse in memory? And, then, as I am prone to do when working at my dining room table, I looked up and started gazing out the front door. Then, it hit me, at least what I did yesterday.

photo 5Hubby and I spent the bulk of the day outside yesterday working in the yard. It was his birthday and that is one of his favorite things to do – yard work. I know – right? That might (probably, definitely) would NOT be my first choice, but what the hay! Our driveway is lined with crepe myrtles that are sprouting buds, and a few blooms are starting to open, which means they are beginning to droop even lower across the driveway. Driving down the driveway is becoming quite the hazard, especially in our new truck. It’s like getting hit in the head with branches as you drive.

Southern Living posts an article yearly about people like Hubby – only he’s not as bad as he used to be now that the trees are huge – they refer to them as bushwhackers. Yep! That’s what I call them too. He will go out to trim a few wayward branches and the next thing you know, we need the tractor with the trailer to haul all of the branches that have been “trimmed”. That was the kind of day Hubby was having yesterday. He trimmed the twenty or so crepe myrtles down the drive and then went on to the magnolia tree and the red maples, and the pecan trees. Calypso and Ryka were doing their best to stay out from under the fallen branches as they picked shady spots under the very trees he was trimming.

I thought I would get in the action by trimming the azaleas around the front porch. That is a yearly chore we perform after blooming season. The bushes are hardy and grow quickly. Famous last thoughts of mine were something akin to don’t cut the electric cord. I think I managed to trim about four feet before I caught the cord – right after I almost caught my leg. So much for that. Hubby took a break and fixed the cord and after wrapping it in miles of electrical tape, decided it would be safer if I held the cord while he trimmed the azaleas. Smart man!

photo 4 (1) photo 3 (1)You might think that’s the only mishap adventure of the day – sadly (shaking head) it wasn’t. You must admit – I must be married to a Saint in the making. He hooked up the tractor to one of the trailers and was working his way down the drive, stopping to load up the branches when I, otherwise known as “Lucy”, decided to lend a hand. It’s been a while since I’ve driven the tractor and you would think it’s like getting back on a bike – well, maybe for someone else! (Did I tell you that I was banned from driving the tractor after I hit the barn?)

I was making the turn off the drive into the front yard and turned too sharp and came to a grinding halt. What did you expect? Please don’t tell me this surprises you! Do you not follow my blog and adventures? Once again, Hubby to the rescue and after several different attempts (with me giving direction of course) he managed to move the tractor and trailer into a straighter path. This took a little doing because of the deep threads on the tires of the tractor. I never do anything half way. After moving the tractor along, he then filled in the divots left by the tires. He’s so used to my misadventures that he doesn’t even shake his head, although I would bet the house there was some fancy eye-rolling going on under that cap of his.

 

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Always an adventure with Lucy – My Life in Review

Last week was pretty uneventful. Monday was just that – Monday. Slow-moving, can’t get going Monday.

Tuesday was mow the grass day. I guess that was a little eventful. If you read my post about the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s you’ll see what i’m talking about. No doubt this week will hold more of that excitement. The neighbors seem to have a long attention span.

Wednesday, a friend and I went shopping. It was more an errand day for both of us. She had pickup and returns. I had pickups and, well – no returns. She’s a hoot just simply because she puts up with me. She “gets” me. She called to let me know of all the different places where we needed to make stops because she knows I need to make a list and get used to the idea – Type A personality along with a splash of social anxiety thrown in there. Then, as soon as she picks me up, she laughs and adds another stop. We both laugh when I pull out my phone and add it to the list – then I’m all good.

One of our stops was Lowes. Lowes must have been clearing out the current stock of flowers in order to make room for their new stock coming in because we really made off like bandits with $1 flowers and mandevillas for half off. It would have been hard to figure out who was a worse influence on who. I searched until I found the perfect one and announced that my daughters were buying me a plant for Mother’s Day. All of my friends – and I guess anyone reading my blog, know that my daughters suffer from Parental Alienation and weren’t buying me anything, much less speaking to me. So, I buy my own gifts. Anyway, it didn’t take her long to announce that her kids were buying her a plant too. So, the back of the van filled up pretty quickly between the two of us.

We finished up in the garden section of Lowes and headed inside to pick up a few things. I am going to be painting my office soon and needed to gather up a few paint supplies. I also managed to run over a poor man in one of the aisles. Don’t worry! I apologized – profusely – but sometimes people just don’t care if you are apologizing. It was an accident – sadly enough, it wasn’t my last for the day.

We had stops at Target (where I managed NOT to hit anyone) and headed to Hobby Lobby. My intentions were to get a plant hangar, but you know about intentions. I came away with NO plant hangar but instead, some really cute garden ornaments – really cute ones! I was headed for the paper department to look for a pack of paper and my brother called. Me, a buggy, and a phone call – not a good combination. This time I ran smack into a post. At least it wasn’t a person this time.

After lunch and a stop at the mall (where I racked up on Bath and Body Works products – buy 3, get 3 for free) we headed for the last stop of the day – SAMs wholesale. Would you believe they let me have a buggy? I guess my reckless driving reputation hadn’t reach them yet.

A few items that I had ordered from Amazon arrived last week that I am loving. Someone recently told me about Zentangle – my definition of it is art for people who can’t draw. It is so much fun! I ordered a couple of books for ideas and a basket to put my daily things in such as my Midori, my art books and tablet, and a book I am reading as well as my Kindle. It helps to keep my desk clear for other things. I may even add my knitting to it. It has loads of room in and hold quite a bit.

 

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The basket came in a nice velcro plastic bag.
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Velcro opening
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The basket
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The basket with my daily supplies

 

I also picked up an Orla Kiely makeup bag at Target that I love. Her brand is always so well-organized. What makes all the difference in this bag is that there is a separate zip compartment on top for things like brushes and eye liner and lip liner, etc. That’s the problem I’ve always found with other makeup bags. One huge compartment and that just doesn’t work for me. Plus, I just love the designs. They are really bright and fun prints. I will leave links to the products down below.

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Top compartment
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Bottom compartment

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I also changed a few things in my fake Midori (my Codori made by Cody Williams). I was using magnetic clips to mark my pages in my little books and it was getting a little bulky. Plus, I wanted a couple of charms – I like my pretty pretty. I had some pink ribbon and added a heart charm to mark my Gratitude Journal and was looking around (more like rooting around in my desk drawer) and came across Sentry‘s tags. Sentry was the German shepherd I had before Ryka and Calypso. I took one of her heart tags and put it on another piece of ribbon to use as a marker for another journal. I loved that dog and seeing the charm everyday brings back good memories.

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My “CoDori” It is navy blue with Live Life stamped on the front.
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Sentry’s tag

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Calypso
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Hubby and Ryka
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I seem to always take pictures in the evening. This is in the morning.

 

That’s my week in review. How was your week?

Product Links:

Reisenthel Market Basket – Baroque Ruby Reisenthel Carry Bag Market Basket

Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition – Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition: A Creative Art Form Where All You Need is Paper, Pencil & Pen

Orla Kiely Garden Bag Collection – http://www.target.com/p/orla-kiely-garden-bag-collection/-/A-15013377

May Designs – http://www.maydesigns.com/

 

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5 Ways to Deal With Dinner Party Guests Who Won’t Put Down Their Phones

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It’s hard to think about dinner parties before the age of smartphones and social media without a bit of nostalgic wonder. Did we really all sit around tables looking at each other rather than our tiny screens? We just ate the food instead of Instagramming it first?

As we have become more accustomed to being constantly connected, the etiquette around cell phone use in social situations has relaxed, which means it’s not unheard of to invite friends over for a nice dinner, only to have them spend the evening constantly checking their phones. What’s a frustrated host to do? I spoke with a couple experts to get their advice on different ways to deal with those dinner party guests who seem more interested in screen time than face time.

First, I wondered if I was just being old-fashioned for thinking that a dinner party is a time for socializing with friends, not Facebook. Unless I am expecting an urgent call or email, I prefer to put my phone away and keep it away. (Although I am not immune! The top photo is actually Ariel and me Instagramming photos from a Kitchn retreat dinner party, a brief phone interlude in an otherwise face-to-face socializing evening, I swear.)

But I know many people who have no issue with friends using their phones constantly at social gatherings. When I feel stung by someone who answers a text instead of the question I just asked her, am I being overly sensitive?

No, says Molly Watson, the etiquette expert behind the advice blog Ask a (Sensible) Midwesterner. She agrees that cell phone use at a dinner party sends an off-putting message to everyone present.

“It’s rude. Whether or not it’s what the person intends, it clearly communicates that the person using it has better, more interesting things to attend to.”

And Brendan Francis Newnam, co-host of the radio show The Dinner Party Download, agrees.

“It’s no more realistic to think that people won’t look at their cell phones than to think they won’t judge your apartment. That said, cell phones are corrosive to the fellowship that makes dinner parties special. In short — they are simply not okay.”

So how can a frustrated host deal with the situation? Here are a few ideas.

Strategy 1: Do nothing, but don’t invite them back.

You could take the path of least resistance and just ignore the problem for the evening, but mentally add that person to your Do Not Invite list for the future. This is Watson’s preferred course of action. When someone pulls out a cell phone at a dinner party, she points out:

“It’s rude behavior, but commenting on rude behavior is, itself, rude behavior.”

Biting your tongue isn’t easy, but you won’t risk ruining your party with an awkward scene.

Strategy 2: Allow a periodic communal checking of phones.

Letting everyone give in briefly to their addiction will make it easier to continue the evening phone-free. It’s the 2014 version of a smoke break, and the method Newnam recommends:

“Confront it head on — between courses say something like ‘Let’s all check our phones now so we can get back to hanging out.’ I do this at restaurants when someone leaves to go to the bathroom. I wish there was a German or French word for a brief interlude to check your phone that would make it seem more classy.”

French or German speakers, any ideas?

Strategy 3: Fight back, but with a sense of humor.

If you are not up for confronting a guest in front of the rest of the party, you can take the sneakier, more passive-aggressive (and funnier!) route that Newnam suggests:

“Fight fire with fire. Text them a little message. Something like You lose orYour husband is hitting on me or a picture from your phone…of them staring at their phone.”

A friend with a good sense of humor will get it and put his phone away. Someone who is easily offended might get huffy — but why would want to spend the evening with a rude, easily offended person anyway?

Strategy 4: Ask them why.

Perhaps your guest has a good reason for being glued to her phone, like an urgent phone call she is expecting, or a last-minute work email she has to deal with. If that’s the case, asking guests why they keep looking at their phones instead of engaging with the party will either set your mind at ease somewhat or call attention to their rude behavior. Watson has a tactful approach:

“I might ask them if they had somewhere else to be or what the emergency is, since that’s the only reason they’d be dragging their phone out instead of enjoying the food and conversation.”

And Newnam is a little more no-nonsense:

“Walk up to the offending phone fiddler and say, ‘Hey, I’m really glad you came. Do you need to be somewhere else? If not, I’d appreciate it if you put your phone down and joined us for a couple of hours.'”

Either way, your guests will be more conscious of their phone-fiddling for the rest of the evening.

Strategy 5: Take the phones away.

Maybe politely pointing out rampant phone use doesn’t solve the problem, or several of the guests are stuck to their phones. In these cases, treating everyone like misbehaving kindergarteners is the best course of action — you take away allphones. Newnam recommends this as a last-ditch option.

“If none of the above works, collect everyone’s phone in a shoebox when they enter the party. Assure your guests that ‘phones in a box’ is not an update version of ‘car keys in the bowl’ swinger parties from the seventies. On second thought, don’t assure them.”

I have a friend who will sometimes call for a “phone pile” and everyone has to stack their phones in the middle of the table. We always get why — he only does this when most of the party is engaging with devices instead of their friends — and I’ve never seen anyone get offended or upset. It’s often a relief to have the phones out of our hands, temptation out of reach, and our focus on the people and food around us. Just like in the long-ago days before smartphones.

Do you have any tips for dealing with dinner guests who won’t stop looking at their phones? Or do you believe it isn’t a host’s place to tell guests what to do?

Re-blogged from: http://www.thekitchn.com/

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The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s? Never say it ain’t so!

Fence me in

 

I often lament about living in a “different” part of the country – the South – way down South, as in almost to the Gulf of Mexico. I didn’t always live here. I’m a transplant, a Northerner, from north of the Intracoastal Waterway, in other words – a foreigner.

 

It is normally referred to as the Cajun culture, but I think it should be re-defined and re-named “The Bayou Culture.” I really don’t guess it’s important what it’s called. We live along a bayou that eventually runs into the gulf. It is a quiet community, except for the fact a major highway runs straight through it on its way to Port Fourchon. If you haven’t heard of the port, I suggest you look it up. It plays an important part in our nation’s fuel resources.

 

I have found out that quiet communities do not always mean everyone likes each other. In fact, I’ve found out quite the opposite. Lucky us – we purchased what used to be a junk yard. Really! It was an auto salvage yard complete with a junk yard dog. The owner died as the result of complications derived from a motorcycle accident. Not that that information is at all important to the story I am trying to tell. We purchased the property from the company who bought the property for the junk. The junk had long been carted off, well, most of it, by the time we became the owners about sixteen years ago.

 

What makes this property unique is that it is located between family members. We are, in fact, surrounded by family. It is akin to having your own little country right smack in the center of Russia! And, we are liked about that much (yeah, not so much.)

 

It wasn’t always this way. Well, maybe it was and we were oblivious to it. I became best friends with the girl next door (We are all girls, right? Even though we’re women.) Not so many years ago, she divorced her husband. She got me in the divorce. Turns out, the rest of the family – remember the family property next door – didn’t care for it too much. In fact, I was told at one point that since we were neighbors, I shouldn’t be friends with her anymore. I kid you not! That’s a quote. I’m not much on doing what I’m told so it comes as no surprise, so many years later we are still best friends.

 

I won’t go into the details, but it would make such interesting reading if I did – but, they declared war on us in their backdoor way. At 7 o’clock one Saturday morning, they were exchanging a gate in the fence that had been frequently used for visiting, for a taller one (as in six feet) and then proceeded to put a padlock on it. I’ve always thought it nice that they now have access to my yard (they have the key) and I don’t have access to theirs. I have some thoughts on how to rectify that – don’t worry.

 

Children who used to call us Nana and Papa are no longer allowed to even glance our way, much less wave or say hello. They are closely watched to ensure that no pleasantries are exchanged during visitation days. It is really sad that people put so much effort into being ugly rather than using that same energy in being a Christian.

 

So, this has become our norm. I compare it at times to living in a third war country. The reason it came to mind today and the reason I’m sitting down to write about my life here in this little bayou community is what happened today. Today was grass cutting day in the neighborhood! Wow! You say! Yes, I say!

 

It has become the norm for them to mow their grass and whatever trash is in the yard (they pick nothing up) and blow it through the fence into our yard. If it were just grass, I wouldn’t have a problem and if it were normal grass throwing, but it’s not. They make pass after pass after pass cleaning off their driveway only to blow it through the fence and all over my driveway rather than mulching with the mower and throwing it into their own yard. Trust me, when you’ve picked up enough styrofoam and plastic and paper and whatever trash they don’t pick up that has been chewed up and spit through your fence, making your yard look like a junk yard, it gets old quick. It’s done on purpose to be a nuisance. And, that’s what is so sad. Adults – did I say adults? – acting like this.

 

I’m writing about grass, and although someone might think it petty, they haven’t been living next door to people who have, for the last four years, done non-stop things to be ugly. From throwing trash across the fence to piling spoiled food next to the fence for an innocent puppy to pull through the fence and digest, to a long list of…let’s just say ugly things (I could go on for hours, but I won’t). The grass situation is only the latest in the string of events.

 

So, I’ve decided that every grass cutting day I will take the opportunity to walk up and down my long driveway non-stop until they have completed their task. They have taken the safety vent off of the side of their mower, which makes it doubly dangerous to be anywhere around when they are mowing, which means they’ll be finding another venue for throwing grass due to the liability should they hit me with something due to their negligence.

 

And, that folks, is what it is like on the bayou – at least in our neck of the woods.

 

 

 

 

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Do Gratitude Journals make us grateful ?

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

I love the above quote by Melody Beattie. It has been stuck in my head since I read it yesterday.

Journaling is something I’ve done over the years – quite sporadically, I might add – and I recently began again. Call it stuck in a rut or needing to refocus, but I felt the need to find my center again and focus on being grateful in a life where depression was about to get overwhelming. Holidays, who am I kidding, all days are difficult for me at some point during the day. When you have children who have been alienated from you, children whose very breath gave life to your day, it sometimes takes a lot of strength to get through the day. Multiply that times the seventeen years that it has been part of my life, and you may realize the daily struggle I sometimes tend with.

photo copySo…I bought a new journal (and pretty pens and stickers), something that made me happy to look at it, and began journaling again. Each evening, or at some point during the day when something good has happened and I don’t want it overshadowed by sad thoughts that may come up, I write down thoughts of gratitude. Some days there are many (at least 5) and others, maybe one. And, on some days, there are none. But, at least I’m trying, and in that is gratitude.

Do you journal? Do you find it keeps you in the present?

 

As always, thanks for visiting here at My Life. One Story at a Time.

My journals come from May Designs. They are hand-sewn, custom made books made from recycled paper.  http://www.maydesigns.com/

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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My Life in Review – April 26, 2014

This week has been a much slower paced week than last week. It was nice to have days when I wasn’t expected to be somewhere at a certain time.

I’ve discovered that not only am I an introvert (always known this) but I also suffer from social anxiety. I had been researching the topic (don’t you just love when people self-diagnose themselves!) and when I mentioned it to my best friend, she laughed and said I didn’t need to take a test or to tell her that – she already knew. Ummm…I think she should have shared that with me! I guess there are things we just need to discover for ourselves. We’ve attended writer’s conferences together and we joke about the social hour. That is normally the time we cut out. We discovered that we only talked to each other and we could socialize on the drive home instead of standing around feeling awkward and conversing with each other.

I actually ventured out of my very small comfort zone and attended the social after the conference this year because another friend wanted to introduce me to someone. I sent in a proposal to be a speaker next year – no the social anxiety doesn’t bother me so much there – and I needed to be introduced so the orchestrators of the event could put a face with a name. That part was awkward. This is normally me: “Hi. It is so nice to meet you.” Then silence. I have nothing else. That’s it. I am not a good conversationalist unless you let me rattle on about a topic I enjoy and know a lot about. Then, just try to shut me up. You may need to call out the Calvary at that point. Personalities are strange things. We react quite differently in different situations. I have always been extremely fascinated by personalities so I can go on and on, on this particular subject – and most people eventually end up wanting to fall asleep!

photo 4photo 2photo 3photo 1photo 1 (1)photo 4 (1)Our driveway is lined with beautiful crepe myrtles – the tree of the South. Hubby calls it the Tunnel of Love in Valentine, Louisiana (where we live.) For some reason he declares every day in Valentine, Valentine’s Day. You should hear him on Valentine’s Day! With spring coming into its own here in the South, the trees have begun to leaf and you couldn’t drive down the driveway without getting battered by them, especially with my new truck. Notice how I say “my truck.” Hubby has a truck too and we recently sold the Suburban and purchased a four-door truck for me – you have seen the two little horses (dogs) I own? They were getting almost too big to both hop in to the back of the car so I thought a truck would be our best purchase. Only thing, I have to heft them into the back and that’s no small feat. They each weigh about 80 pounds now! It’s not easy hoisting up 80 pounds of dead weight onto the bed of a truck where the tailgate is more than waist-high. Hubby is going to make a ramp so they can walk up. German Shepherds are known to have hip problems and I don’t want to put their health at risk as Ryka has already been battling some stiffness at 6.5 years. Calypso is 3.5 and I want to ensure that she doesn’t develop the same problems too early.

Getting back to the myrtles, it was trimming time. The first thought that came to mind was having Hubby ride in the back of the truck (mine is quite high) and trim as we drove. That way, we’d know the amount to trim. We ended up just walking and cutting. Once they bloom, there will be a little more trimming as the weight of the blooms weigh down the branches and we’ll be getting whacked again. I’ve had this happen before and unfortunately I had the windows down on the suburban; not a fun thing when you have to clean all the flowers out that found their way in. Also, if you read this story –

Green Acres is the place to be…Tuesdays with Donna, A Little Southern Comfort

you’ll find that the last time I had to fetch him from the back when the tractor quit, I sort of got a little close to the trees and it was like playing Whack-a-Mole with Hubby as the target. For some reason, he doesn’t trust me.

photo 3 (1)My best friend was recently nominated for and one Teacher of the Year at the high school where she teaches. She then received the honor of winning High School Teacher of the Year in our parish (we live in Louisiana.) The awards banquet was yesterday and I had the privilege of attending where she received her awards.

She and I have been best friends for a very long time. We always joke that because we’ve surpassed the “seven-year-itch” we will be friends forever. I hope that everyone has a chance in their lifetime to have a best friend like Jessica. I tend to forget some dates and one was when we actually crossed over from just being neighbors to becoming fast friends. She reminded me of the date as she told the people we were sitting with. It was the day her son was born and he is now twelve (on his way to being 13) years old. I remember the day quite well as she helped out with a gathering we had at our home that day.

We’ve been through thick and thin as the saying goes, seen each other through good times and some really bad times. We push each other to the limit and cross lines that others know never to cross. We tell each other what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. Congratulations to Jessica, a truly deserving teacher.

Going back to Friday night, my stepson played music at a bar not too far from here and we try to and listen when he plays close by. There were a number of other events in the area and attendance was not heavy – which made for a nice quiet night – and I say that laughing because I wear ear plugs! The band concentrates mostly on 90s music, but takes requests. Friday night, someone requested a french song and Josh motioned to his dad to join him on stage. I hope you enjoy the show. It was a great moment that the two of them will remember. It is always nice to make memories with your children – no matter how old they are. As soon as the video loads to YouTube I will share it. My phone shows it there, but I can’t find it on the computer. Technology! Can drive you crazy sometimes.

I found it – on the wrong channel. Oh well. lol

Enjoy a little Cajun music:

As always, thanks for visiting and have a blessed day!

Donna

 

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Tribute to my Mother’s Strength – repost from Coming of Faith

This was too touching a story not to share. I hope you enjoy.

SabinaKhanIbarra

When she took my dying son from my arms, I let her.  I held my breath until I felt myself leave my body, only coming back because my baby needed me. I ignored the chemical smell of the hospital and instead focused on how much my son’s hair curled like his father’s. I watched my mother whisper prayers to him and adjust his newborn hospital hat making him look presentable, as if he were getting ready for a special meeting.  She took a tissue from her purse, wet it with her spit and wiped the blood from the punctures in his little hands and arms.  When she was done, she swaddled him and told him that she loved him.  She kissed him on the forehead before placing him back in my lap.  She tucked my too long bangs out of my face and leaned over me.  I kissed my child goodbye and prayed over him until he took his last breath.  My mom held me as I held my son, and as I felt his energy leave me, I felt hers heal me. 

In the small social group my parents were a part of, my mother’s independence and self-reliance were the butt of many jokes.  But she didn’t care.  She just did what she had to do.  She came from a village where she was the only girl who left to pursue higher education.  She married at the ripe, old age of 23 instead of marrying the most eligible bachelor in the area when she was 17.  She ignored the whispers when she left the home of her in-laws to live with her husband.  She worked while my father went to school for his Masters.  She drove to run errands while the rest of my aunts waited for their husbands to come home, or if my mom was available, for her to take them.  She took care of the finances and it was her we turned to when making major life decisions.  Mama’s practical ways and strong presence kept our family together.

I was constantly embarrassed for having the only mother in the family who spoke up when things were unfair. Some uncles frowned in dismay but my mom held her head high and stuck to her beliefs.  She also didn’t let anyone tell her that she shouldn’t be taking care of the household finances.  It was a running joke, amongst the very same uncles, that my mother had my father controlled by a leash.  But Baba smiled and squeezed Mama’s hand in front of everyone, only offending the conservative uncles further.  

Once, as she cleaned the dried, caked blood out of my hair she told me to stand up for myself and hit Junior, our neighbor, back, for striking me with the rock. I cringed and said, “No.”  The next morning, when I asked her to walk me to school so that she could protect me, she gave me my lunch and kissed me good bye before shutting the door.  I walked with my sister to school, terrified.  I made a silent promise that if he hit me again, I would kick him in his knee, just like I learned from my second grade teacher Mrs. White, a karate black belt who taught us self-defense.

Another time, while shopping, Mama told me to ask where the ice cream cones were located in Lucky’s.  I shook my head and shrank behind the shopping cart.  She shrugged and told me she liked her ice cream in a bowl, anyway.  She walked away looking for the next item on her list.  In a panic, I hunted down an employee and found the cones.  Mama was in the detergent aisle by then.  I proudly showed the cones to Mama, who placed it in the cart and asked me to help her look in her purse for coupons to use on Tide.

In the sixth grade, she decided that she would make shalwar kameez for my sister Saira and me to wear to school, instead of buying us clothes from Mervyn’s like we usually did.  I cried in protest.  She told me to be proud of my roots, that being different was beautiful, but I dreaded facing the kids at school.   I ended up getting in a fight on the first day of school because James called me a Camel Jockey.  The Principal was sympathetic; he told my mom that I was only defending myself.   I expected a lecture when I got home, but instead Mama asked me to change my clothes, pray Zuhr, and do my homework. 

I married young the first time and became the servant my husband’s family wanted.  Spending most of time in solitude, I only came out to do housework.  I cleaned, cooked, and ironed myself away to a shadow of what I used to be. It was my mother who recognized me and my pain by looking into the dimmed light of my eyes.  Like when I was seven years old, she held my chin, and once more told me to stand up for myself.   Terrified of my unknown, dark future, I left my life of hell, the only life I thought I knew.

When my son died in my arms, I didn’t scream or wail.   I urged him to go peacefully and not fight.  I couldn’t bear his pain anymore, I knew his little body was tired and couldn’t take anymore.  It hurt to say good-bye, but I was ready to accept the pain so my son wouldn’t have to. When he finally left, I cried until the tears dried and I succumbed to exhaustion, my shirt soaked and mouth dry.  Mama watched me.  She walked over to me, held me and told me that God would fill my barren lap once more and that I would meet my son in heaven where he waited for me at the gates.  But new, hot tears fell from my eyes into my open palms.  I wished he were in my arms, alive instead of in a cold morgue preparing to go to his tiny, dark grave. 

 I knew I needed to be strong, like Mama.  She squeezed me against her bosom, where I felt at home – where so many times I went when I was lost or hurt.  When she let me go, she looked at me and said no more.  I looked at my hospital wristband, the only physical proof on me that I was a mother to a child.  My husband walked me out of the waiting room.  As I turned the corner to leave, I looked back into the room and saw my mother with her shoulders slumped, face towards the sky, and tears streaming down her face, into her hair. 

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Sabina Khan-Ibarra is a freelance writer and editor.  She regularly contributes to her blog, Ibrahim’s Tree, which she created after the loss of her infant son in 2011, and I Am the Poppy Flower, where she writes about little things that go on in her life. She created Muslimah Montage as a platform for women to share their stories and inspire others.

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“Until it is Carved in Stone”

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”   Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

Start living and have a wonderful Tuesday!

 

 

 

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone! I hope your holiday is shaping up nicely.

Our’s is settling down to a nice quiet afternoon after all the hustle and bustle. Hubby is a music minister at our church and the big mass for us as Catholics is the Easter Vigil – we were in church for a two-hour mass last night beginning with the fire ceremony. There’s a lot that goes into planning such an extravaganza and this year was no exception. There is always a lot of new music for the musicians and the choir to learn and it can be a stressful time for all. This year, made even more stressful because one person decided they wanted to be a one man (woman) show. It didn’t turn out well on any front. You can’t just walk up and say I’m singing this song and this is my key. It certainly gives the message to all that this is a solo and I don’t want you participating without actually using the words. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well and God takes care of his own – and Karma can suck. The solo didn’t turn out well. I guess that’s a lesson for all – when you do things for God, he will ensure it turns out well. When you do things for selfish reasons, karma can suck.

The night ended on a wonderful note. Yesterday was our 16th wedding anniversary and after everyone left (we didn’t want a show or to keep people after a two-hour mass) Father blessed our marriage and we renewed our vows. There were a few close friends that stayed and it was really special. We are blessed to have a wonderful priest who gives great, meaningful sermons, and can bestow a blessing straight from God.

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Father Roni bestowing a blessing upon us.
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Promising to love Hubby all the days of my life.
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Hubby promising to love me for the rest of my life.

 

This morning it was nice to celebrate Easter morning by reciting the Rosary at the local nursing home with the residents. This is something we’ve been doing for a long time. I don’t always accompany Hubby, but I find that when I do, it is a true blessing. They really enjoy this Sunday morning ritual.

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When the priest says the bride may kiss the groom – what can you do?

We came home to two spoiled doggies – can you call an 80 pound little horse a doggie? – who run into the garage the minute they can clear the door and sit at the cookie jar until we drive in. Yep! That is spoiled. Then, they have the nerve to turn over and want a belly rub! Who wants to rub that dirty belly? I’m afraid that until I have time to bathe them, they will be getting pats on the head and a good brushing each day. Calypso is like Linus – she walks and the dust flies off of her coat!

Our church also has a new tradition of the traveling Blessed Mother. We were very fortunate to have our turn this past week. It was a special week that included the last day of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter – and our anniversary. One of the highlights was the celebration of mass at our house. Father Roni gave a beautiful sermon and we shared the event with close friends. We hosted a Southern meal of seafood gumbo, potato salad and french bread afterward. Here are a few pictures that we took during the week.

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Father Roni, me, Hubby after mass.
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Hubby providing the music for mass.
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One of our good friends giving communion.
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Father Roni saying mass.
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The special altar Hubby set up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She’s b-a-c-k…from life’s distractions, family drama, medical appointments, and shopping

I’ve been kind of missing in action lately, but I’m back. Hope there is someone out there that noticed, after all, we all like to know we’ve been missed.

My husband has been suffering with a neck injury with different diagnosis coming in from a chiropractor, a PCP, a doctor of physical medicine, and now a physical therapist. One was insistent that cracking the neck and back was going to fix it. While I didn’t agree with the method, I was willing to support my husband’s choice to try non-evasive first (although in my opinion, that constitutes evasive). With that treatment ending and the symptoms worsening, we then took it to the next level and medical doctors. We know there is arthritis in his neck, but none of this was explaining the numbness and pain radiating down his arm.

After x-rays and an MRI, we are now in physical therapy and at least things are beginning to make sense. The therapist was able to isolate the nerve causing the pain and some interesting things have begun to happen. Hopefully, improvements will follow. Seems between the two of us, we’ve been making a few too many trips into New Orleans to Ochsner.

Physical therapy is proving to be quite the interesting journey. Luckily, we found a wonderful therapist who doesn’t mind being asked questions and explaining everything going on. I have been known to irritate even the nicest of doctors with my questions. I never left the “why” stage behind. She would do something and I’d ask what she was doing, why she was doing it, and what she hoped the outcome would be. I was very impressed because she is very open with us. She is also confident that the nerve is not permanently damaged and she can restore what has been damaged through treatment. After three months of horrible pain, it is nice to see Hubby finding some relief. The physical therapist also uses dry needling and that is interesting.

I only have one comment. If that is how women act when they are PMSing, geez, no wonder we get on everyone’s last nerve!

Our latest trip into New Orleans this week was for follow-up blood work and an ultra-sound for me. The numbers having to do with my liver and gall bladder were elevated. I have two rare blood disorders and have blood work done every six months to monitor my elevated red cell count and platelet count. Those numbers are elevated, but within the same high range they have been for a year. I have to admit that if I get another tech that hurts me the way this one did, I’m calling for someone new. I have a huge bruise on my arm. She stuck me and then moved the needle around for a while (which, by the way I could feel) before she managed to hit the vein. I don’t watch, but I could feel it and it hurt. I told Hubby he needs to be my advocate next time and instead of watching, needs to stop them. He said had she moved it one more time, he had decided that he was going to stop her and call for someone new.

On the bright side, I did a little shopping this month and bought some cool stuff. I’ll be sharing those goodies throughout the week. First up are my little books from May Designs. I have recently returned to journaling and a pretty book is always enticing and I love these. I also have one for the Facebook group 360/30. The group gives a month’s worth of thought-provoking prompts at the beginning of each month. And I use the third for my medical records.

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Don’t you just love them?

 

And where do you put such pretty little books? Well – in a pretty little pouch. I found these cute Hadaki bags on-line. It came in a set of two, one of which was the perfect size for my little books, along with a pretty colored pen for each book. You’ll come to notice I’m more than a little obsessed with pretty pouches. I have amassed quite a collection through the years and I love mixing them up and using them for different purposes. One can never have too much pretty pretty.

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I even received a cute pink lollipop!
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I decided to leave the pretty green ribbon that held them together. I cut it and tied a piece to each zipper.
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The colors are so bright and cheerful.
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I even used the pretty pink envelope that came inside. I hole punched it to fit my planner and then used one of my Martha Stewart punches to make the cute top design, then added stickers.
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Even the inside lining is pretty.

I recently found a couple of shopping apps and I’ve been trying them out. You receive a list of items each week and if you purchase any of them, you can earn money back. It isn’t always items I use, but I’ve managed to rack up about $4 for just buying what I already buy. One is Checkout 51 and the second is Ibotta. I think they are available for both iPhone and Android.

I also use Grocery IQ as my grocery list app. It is connected with Coupon.com and I was able to utilize a few coupons there as well. One was for antiperspirants. It’s no secret that I love my Secret – unscented that is. When I sweat I do not want to smell like baby powder sweat, or citrus sweat. Anyone else with me? Well, being Southern I suspect that if I am invited on a picnic – and sweat – those in attendance will sniffing the air to see who smells like the Ambrosia (with a twist of sweat.) My new deodorant, thanks to a coupon, is Secret Citrus (I kid you not!) I truly just do NOT want to smell like something when I sweat. The best case scenario would be to not smell, but do you really want to smell like Spring – with a touch of sweat? Who thinks up these fragrances? We truly need to have a sit down with them – and soon.

We had a little family drama this week as well. If you follow my blog, you know that I adore my German shepherds. Ryka never darts out in front of the truck when we come through the gate, but this time she did. I had just closed one gate after Hubby came through and was starting to close the second when I looked up and saw Ryka start to cross in front of him. It happened so fast. The truck bumper hit and flipped her and then she rolled to a stop as Hubby did, right against the tire.

I did what any good Southern lady would do. I let out a blood curdling scream. Jamie Curtis in Halloween doesn’t have anything on me! I think I frightened Ryka more than getting hit by the truck did, but thankfully, she got up and walked away. I still shudder when I think about it. I was quite upset the entire afternoon and that night I spent about an hour just cuddling and playing and rubbing them before I came inside.

I was always concerned about Calypso because she insists on running down the drive in front of the truck and escorting us to the garage. Before the truck, we had a suburban and we could at least see her ears as she galloped along. The truck is so high, she would have to be a horse to be seen. Ryka always lagged behind and this was completely out of character for her. As they say, “All’s good in Hollywood,” at least momentarily.

There were loads more adventures and family drama this week, but I’ll save that for another day. As always, thanks for taking the time to visit here and I wish you a wonderful weekend. I have a book giveaway, so if you love a good romance, be sure and leave a comment there. The book is Waiting on You and the link is: http://mylifeonestoryatatime.com/2014/04/05/waiting-on-you-by-kristan-higgins-review-giveaway/

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

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Tea Time with a little Southern Comfort

For as long as I can remember (which at my age exactly how long varies from day-to-day) I have enjoyed a hot cup of tea or homemade hot chocolate, and it always seems to taste better when served in a pretty cup and saucer. Lately, I have begun to think that it may just be about the ritual of making tea. When I get up in the morning, I find that I need and enjoy that little block of time where I go through the motions of putting the kettle on and choosing the tea for the morning, and then choosing which tea cup and sauce to use. It is a cathartic way of beginning the day for me.

I have been a long time fan of Mary Engelbreit and I have many of her tea sets. I not only collect them, I enjoy using them. I recently discovered Emma Bridgewater Pottery and fell in love with the Polka Dots line. This is my newest tea cup and saucer.

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I fell in love with the polka dots.
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Aren’t the dots inside of the cup and the saucer bottom just adorable?
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And after the tea is gone, there are still the dots.

 

My cousin sent me a gift of tea and I have to admit, it took me a little while to try it. I am not very adventurous in trying new things. I like English Breakfast Tea and a raspberry tea. After moving the container around the cabinet a bit as I was reaching for other items on the shelf, I thought, why not? It was really good and I have almost worked my way through the entire container of The Republic of Tea, Get Young, 36 Count.

It has a “touch of hibiscus” and I promise you, if you could taste a hibiscus, this is what it would taste like – light and airy and sweet. It is also caffeine free and contains other healthy herbs.

The Republic of Tea has so many flavors, too many to list, but a few that are my list to try are Get Happy TeaGet Relaxed TeaGet Gorgeous TeaPomegranate Green Tea, and theGood Hope Vanilla Red Tea.

I can’t imagine a tea making me any happier, but what the heck – I’m game. The Good Hope Vanilla Red Tea sounds delicious and conjures up a moment on a porch swing. The Natural Hibiscussounds like spring and I can’t wait to try it. I think I’ll be packing away the hot chocolate mix for the summer and I’m looking forward to a season of teas. Won’t you join me? I can’t wait to see the results of the Get Gorgeous Tea!

What about you? Are you a tea drinker? What is your favorite flavor or brand?

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I thought you might enjoy viewing part of my tea cup collection. I love having friends over and letting them choose a tea set for the visit. Each friend chooses a different one and they each have their favorite. It’s the little things that add so much to our visit.

 

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As you can see, my cupboards are full of colorful Mary E. china
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A friendly little place to store my sugar

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My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above.  My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

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Will Americans pick up the slack if we secure the borders?

 

United States
United States (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

 

As I spoke with a neighbor the other day who is in the midst of house construction, the changes in our country became ever more evident. One of the brick columns on his carport was crooked and the construction company owner had sent a man to break down the column so the bricklayer could come in and reconstruct it.

 

As the worker began demolishing the brick column, my neighbor tried to stop him as he was breaking down the wrong column. The worker looked at him in confusion and muttered, “no comprendae.” He was from Mexico and spoke no English. At that point, it was no longer relevant as to what language he spoke; the damage and consequent delay in finishing construction had been done.

 

I admit that I am quick to jump on the bandwagon about hollering and screaming that the borders need to be shut down. The Mexicans are taking over more and more of the jobs meant for Americans – in their own country. I also admit to being the person, despite my mild temperament, who wants to slam the phone down when I get a recording that says, “Press 1 for English.” Nothing angers me more than having to press “1” because this is the United States of America and our language is English!

 

Today, as I was walking down my driveway to pick up the mail, I looked over and observed two masons laying brick columns. They were Mexican, and my first thoughts again were another American job taken over by a foreigner. My second thought was there would have to be an American willing to lay bricks to take the job back, and obviously there wasn’t.

 

While I am still in favor of securing our borders and giving jobs to out of work Americans, I am not so naïve as to assume an American wants the job. Isn’t that one of the reasons there are so many foreigners working in our country today? I look around the area where I live and there are many, many Mexicans holding down construction jobs, mason jobs, and the grass cutting businesses are almost entirely made up of Mexican employees. My husband hired a Mexican to work construction with him. Before he went back home to Mexico, my husband and this man had grown quite fond of each other. He was a hard worker and willing to learn construction. On his visits home, he used his newly learned carpenter skills to improve his house and build a business for his wife.

 

While he was an outstanding worker and emulated my husband’s every move, he was unwilling to learn English. Fortunately, my husband is fluent in French (this is Southern Louisiana with Cajun French culture) and is also able to communicate in Spanish – otherwise, this working relationship would not have worked. During their lunch breaks, my husband would learn additional Spanish, but the worker had no interest in learning English, no matter how hard my husband tried to teach him a few words. My husband hired a Mexican because there were no Americans interested in doing manual construction labor.

 

A number of years ago, I worked at a local university. Students would graduate and eventually come back to work on their MBA. It was not unusual to hear them admit that they couldn’t find a job that paid what they thought they were worth. They admitted to not wanting to start at the ground level and work their way up. It seemed like very few wanted to “pay their dues”, they wanted to be hired in management level positions straight out of school.

 

It really says something about the work ethic of some Americans when they have the attitude that a ground level position is not good enough. Instant gratification is running rampant and the younger generation seems to find life boring starting out as their parents did – at the ground level where you actually learn the job and earn your way up the ladder.

 

I sit here and think – what does this say about Americans? We want our borders closed, but are we willing to do the work that the Mexicans now do? Will we take the menial jobs in the fields? Are we willing to lay bricks? Are we willing to mow grass? You have to admit, it is food for thought.

 

These were some thoughts that came to mind today while observing life outside my door. I invite you to weigh in on this topic. What are your thoughts?  Remember, I have meant no insult to anyone of any nationality, so be kind in your response.

 

As always, thanks for visiting and I hope you visit again.

 

 

 

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