A tourist in my own town – New Orleans

About a week ago I had my semi-annual check-up at Ochsner Hospital. They have recently switched over from pounds to (is it) kilograms. Can I mention just how much I HATE this system? Just get it over with. Tell me I weigh way too much. Don’t make me convert that lovely LITTLE number into a BIG number on the chart above the scale.

I had my blood work done a couple of weeks prior to my appointment – seven (yes 7) vials of blood were drawn – and I wonder why I resembled a vampire when I walked out! I ended up having another vial drawn yesterday and a shot. I was really BAD sick in December and ever since I’ve had one thing or another due to my immune system being compromised. The doctor suggested getting a tetanus shot since I hadn’t had one in a long time and it helps to boost the immune system. I don’t remember the details of the blood test, but when the results come back I may need to get a vaccine that they give to children and adults 65 and older that helps boost the immune system. I realized I’m giving you a whole lot of nothing information, but unless I write all the terms down, it is too much information to retain. The doctor and I discussed everything and I was comfortable with the information and know that I now need to wait for the test results before either taking the shot or not. The results will determine the outcome so the information was processed, decision made, and forgotten.

Hubby was working and I didn’t feel I needed him to accompany me so I asked a friend to make the drive with me. She is an older woman and so kind and sweet. She’s made several trips into the city with me and we make a day of it by going to lunch. Yesterday, we added an excursion to the trip. She is originally from New Orleans, born and raised, and knows her way around so it was really fun to just drive through some of the old neighborhoods and not worry about getting lost. Well, so I thought.

Our original plan was to take I-10 to City Park exit. We were traveling down Clearview to I-10 and she says, “You are missing the exit!” I was a little confused and thought I must have missed the I-10 part. Turns out it was the Earhart Expressway. I was freaking out a little because I haven’t heard anything good about this area. In fact, I had always been told to never take Earhart. My friend is really sweet and she kept reminding me of the speed limit. I guess I do tend to follow the flow, make the flow – you get the picture. I’m a little bit of a speed demon. This was one time when I told her the speed limit was 55 but I was going faster so the bullets wouldn’t get us. I’ve only heard bad stories so what else was I supposed to think!

We made it safely to S. Claiborne I think. It may have been N. Carollton Avenue. That’s it! Carollton and then to City Park. It was an adventure after all. You see some strange sites while waiting for traffic lights to change.

We drove to City Park and rode around a little. It turns out she has a wonderful connection to this beautiful park (that had once sat under 6-10 feet of water following Katrina). Her great-grandfather was a horticulturist and saw how deplorable the park had become. He attempted to rally the city council into bringing the park back to its former glory with no success. He then solicited several businessmen and he began the restoration process, eventually garnering support from the city council. The park has grown by leaps and bounds, but at the entrance to Storyland, there is an old oak tree named the “Anseman Oak Tree” and a street named “Anseman”. What a wonderful legacy to leave your family. I was so excited that she shared this with me.

From City Park, we made our way to the Lake Front (Ponchartrain Lake). I hadn’t been there since high school. We’ll just say, it’s been a while and leave it at that. I used to go the lakefront and sit on the seawall with my cousin. I loved looking at the lake and listening to the water as the waves broke along the concrete steps. There was once an amusement park on the lake as well. I rode my first rollercoaster there. I still remember the exhilaration of the first ride. Maybe it was also the guy who encouraged me to ride it with him. He was kinda cute!

The lake was beautiful and filled with sailboats. The breakfront was filled with families enjoying picnics.

On the way to the lakefront, it was amazing to drive down streets and through neighborhoods that had suffered water infiltration during the levee break following Hurricane Katrina. Mary Lynn never tired of me constantly exclaiming, “There was really 10 feet of water here? Right here!? Where we are driving?!” I may have wanted to bat me over the head for saying it so many times, but it truly was incomprehensible. Like everyone else, I was glued to my television set watching the water inundate the city that sits a mere sixty miles to the east of where I live. Streets that I had driven on and visited people were filled with water. It is not until you sit there in the middle of the street and look at the houses on either side of you that the magnitude of what happened and the amount of water that disbursed hits you.

As we were exiting Old Metairie, it began to storm; complete with lightening and thunder and at one point on Airline Highway, it was raining and blowing so hard the rain was going sideways. It’s not often that I can feel the elements in my truck so it was a little intimidating. That type of weather spawns tornados. We did get home without incident – probably because Mary Lynn kept mentioning my speed (both ways!) That was a new experience for me. Hubby is a retired State Trooper so you can only imagine how intimidating it is to drive with him as a passenger. I feel like he’s going to pull out the ticket book at any minute and tell me to pull over and then read me a list of my violations!

I really do not drive that much over the speed limit; no more than anyone else. Again, I am married to a cop. I know the leeway. I also have a heavy foot but I still manage to keep it within 8 miles of the speed limit on the open road. (I also know most of the places where the police hide.) And, I remember an important piece of advice from Hubby – it doesn’t matter what speed you are going, just be aware of the speed and how long it takes you to react and your vehicle to react. Just know your speed. He said he had stopped numerous people (25 years worth) who responded they didn’t know how fast they were going when asked. That is dangerous. (Public Service Announcement over.)

All in all, it was a very nice guided trip around the city as well as educational. I can’t think of a better friend to have shared the day with. I am looking forward to our next adventure!

 

Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina by Lisa Karlin – Review

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Below the Water Line provides a gripping account of a family’s hurricane evacuation experiences and all that followed in the decade after Hurricane Katrina. The story begins in August 2005, when author Lisa Karlin, her husband, thirteen-year-old daughter, eleven-year-old son, and two dogs evacuated New Orleans for what they thought would be a two-day “hurrication.” The day-by-day account of the weeks that follow vividly chronicles the unprecedented displacement of thousands of Americans, and on a personal level, describes how her family makes the trifecta of major life decisions: where to live, where to work, and where to enroll their children in school. Below the Water Line provides a first-hand commentary on how everyday life has been impacted by Katrina’s aftermath and how, a decade later, there are still lingering effects of one of the most devastating events in American history.

For More Information

  • Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina is available at Amazon Kindle and Amazon Paperback
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Lisa KarlinLisa Karlin is the author of Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina. She is an oncology nurse who, unlike weather chasers who look for storms to track, has had the weather chase her, and these experiences are described in her memoir. Lisa lives in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband, daughter, son, and Yellow Lab named Buddy.

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Book Excerpt – 

The pool water is bathtub-warm, and the sky is postcard-perfect, clear and blue. Thirteen-year-old Samantha floats on a raft near me. My daughter has carefully positioned herself with her arms extended by her sides and her chin tilted up toward the sun. Since school started last week, her tan has faded and she is determined to preserve it. She lies perfectly still; her only movement is the subtle rise and fall of her chest as she breathes.

A major hurricane named Katrina lurks just a few hundred miles away, out in the Gulf of Mexico, but we are not concerned. Landfall predictions are still uncertain, and I’m expecting that this hurricane will turn to the east or west and spare New Orleans, just like all of the hurricanes in the past forty years have done.

I take notice when I come in from the pool, turn on the television, and see the satellite image showing that Katrina has increased in intensity, and is now bigger than the state of Texas. Even so, the hurricane watch area extends all the way from western Louisiana to the eastern edge of the Florida panhandle. Anything can happen with this hurricane at this point.

Late in the afternoon, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin calls for a voluntary evacuation. He says he’s adhering to the state’s evacuation plan, and will not order a mandatory evacuation until thirty hours before Katrina’s expected landfall so that people living in low-lying surrounding areas can leave first and avoid gridlocked escape routes.

My eleven-year-old son calls and tells me he’s ready to be picked up from his friend Colin’s house. On the stoop outside their house, Colin’s father asks if we are evacuating, and I tell him my plan is to watch the news and The Weather Channel and then decide. If Jim Cantore shows up in New Orleans, then we’re going to skedaddle, since he always seems to broadcast from the bulls-eye of a storm. Colin’s father says he plans to see how things look in the morning. And I have jury duty on Tuesday, I tell him. Can’t miss that!

My son John and I make a quick stop at Breaux Mart on the way home. Cars circle the parking lot, competing for the few open spaces. The store is clogged with people, and many shelves already are bare. I dispatch John to see if there are any hamburger buns still on the shelf. He reports back that just a few packages remain and like a fisherman, proudly holds up his catch. I see a few scattered packages of ground beef lying in a refrigerator case, and speed up to get there before anyone else does.

There’s nervous chatter in the long checkout line as people debate hunkering down or getting on the road. Older folks recall evacuating in ’92 after Hurricane Andrew blasted across southern Florida, and then entered the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward Louisiana. Andrew made landfall as a category 3 hurricane a couple of hours west of New Orleans, so we dodged that bullet. Hurricane Alberto in ’94 looked like it was headed for New Orleans, but veered off to the Florida Panhandle. And no one could forget evacuating for Hurricane Ivan last year and the arduous, tortuous process that was.

With ample time in the checkout line, many evacuation stories are told, eliciting nods of recognition from the people standing in the adjacent lines. We know all too well what it was like to batten-down the house, creep north along the interstates, spend a sleepless night out, and return a day or two later to sunny, intact New Orleans to start reversing the process. “Here we go again,” another “hurrication,” seems to be the sentiment of many in line. A number of people say they’re waiting to see how things look in the morning.

It’s inconceivable that a major hurricane is headed this way. The sky is clear, the air is still, and the sunset is spectacular. Buddy, our 80-pound yellow Lab, takes a leisurely swim in our pool while we eat dinner on the patio. It’s just another ordinary day.

All evening long, we wear down the television remote jumping from station to station. We, too, have decided to see how things look in the morning, knowing that a lot can happen in twelve hours. I’m still predicting that fateful turn that hurricanes take at the last minute, the turn that produces a collective sigh of relief from the people in their initial path.

We watch evacuation footage and see that even with the contraflow on the interstate this year, it’s no better than last September when about half of the people in New Orleans evacuated for Hurricane Ivan. Despite six lanes of traffic all heading westward, the traffic on Interstate 10 does not move at all. People are standing beside their cars, an impromptu and odd social gathering of sorts. Good thing we didn’t leave tonight, I tell my husband, Rich. We’d be stuck out there on the highway in the dark. I can’t imagine our family—two adults, two kids, and two dogs—inching along the interstate all night.

John plops down on the couch and announces that it would be fun (fun?) to evacuate at night. He tells us he would bed-down in our car, tell the dogs goodnight, and go to sleep. Rich raises his eyebrows. He knows our two kids would be squabbling before we back out of the driveway. And there’s no telling how Buddy and John’s 12-pound Jack Russell Terrier, which he named Jack, would handle a long car ride. We have trouble driving around the neighborhood with our dogs, and with our kids for that matter.

A news announcer casually mentions that Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who are in town taping New Orleans-themed episodes of Wheel of Fortune, have cut production short and are leaving. The “Wheelmobile” and eight tractor trailers of equipment are being readied for departure. It is the first time in its thirty-year history that the long-running game show cancels taping.

I silently pray that Katrina weakens and changes course, but the latest information indicates that this hurricane is strengthening and coming our way. Local weatherman Bob Breck pronounces that “the water will be so high that you’ll be on the roof with the cockroaches!”

Around 10 p.m., we are surprised to see Mayor Ray Nagin back on TV. He looks just as surprised to be on TV; earlier today, he said he would issue his next statement in the morning. The mayor says he received a phone call from Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, who in turn had received a call from the National Hurricane Center Director. The news is not good. As Nagin puts it, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. This is the real deal.”

Purchase  at Amazon Kindle and Amazon Paperback

My Review –

Just reading the excerpt brought back many memories. We that live in the Southern states have seen and participated in our fair share of hurricane evacs (evacuations), only to return as the hurricane scurried off to another state. The decision whether to evacuate or not weighs heavily on the individual mind, especially when children or elderly are involved.

Growing up, we never evacuated. My dad was a Louisiana State Trooper and as we all know, they are the last to leave the highways. They are busy until the last evacuee has made his way to a safe distance. Something to actually remember. It’s not only your safety you should worry about when deciding when to evacuate. After you are long gone, it is those same law enforcement officers and emergency personnel who are still trying to make their way back to a safe harbor after making sure YOU are safely on your way. Don’t be selfish. I thought those times were over for me until as an adult, I married a Louisiana State Trooper.

Before Katrina hit, we were all glued to our television sets, as the author said, wearing out the remote to see which channel would give the latest and greatest and hope against hope, that one of them would say, “You’re good. Stay put.” But that didn’t happen and when so many did not heed the advice to leave, a disaster was imminent.

It was the hurricane I spent on an offshore supply boat weighted down with pipe and sunk to sit on the bottom of the bayou alongside two more offshore supply boats. They were tied together and sat side by side across Bayou Lafourche. It became a community shelter. From the wheelhouse, safely tucked behind hurricane proof glass (we hoped) we watched transformers blow and our world go black. We watched the trees blow, illuminated by the giant spotlights on the boats. That is where I sat and watched and waited and prayed for hours before I saw the lone headlights coming down Louisiana Highway 1, battling the wind and rain of a hurricane already making landfall. I was watching for my husband to make his way back to me after being turned loose by the Troop and told to find safe shelter.

Lisa Karlin has managed to capture exactly what it was like to be a refugee, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. She takes you along on her family’s evacuation journey and then their journey to regroup and rebuild a new normal. Having seen some of the devastation first hand, her descriptions of the storm ravaged area brought those memories back that lay forgotten in the recesses of my mind.

There were many times throughout the book that I found myself looking up and glancing outside to make sure we weren’t back there, in that time. I found myself thinking that I had to check our staples and did we have extra water on hand, dog food, fuel; was the generator in working condition. The book brought back memories of seeing the houses with the markings on television. I watched as the helicopters dropping sandbag after sandbag into the gap of the breached levee in order to plug the holes, the people stranded on the interstate and the bridges. This was how real and authentic the author’s accounting of the last ten years is in the book.

Below the Water Line made me laugh and made me cry. It is a wonderful and heartfelt story of the author’s journey through a turbulent time and moving forward. It is well written and I am giving it five stars. For those of you who have forgotten Katrina or are interested in an accounting of what it was like to be “one of those people from Louisiana” this would be a good book for you to read.

-From the author: Donna, Just wanted to thank you for your review of Below the Water Line, and thank you for your tweets as well! I see that you too had a Katrina experience and appreciate how you mentioned that in your review–I don’t think people truly understand what our experiences were like back then. I’m hoping for a quiet and uneventful hurricane season and wish you the best, Thank you again! Lisa

Purchase  at Amazon Kindle and Amazon Paperback

For additional pictures of New Orleans after the hurricane – http://interactives.krqe.com/photomojo/gallery/37167/632877/hurricane-katrina-destruction/new-orleans-east/

and

http://interactives.krqe.com/photomojo/gallery/37237/1/new-orleans-10-years-after-katrina/downtown-new-orleans-then-and-now/

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

From Louisiana to Walnut Mountain – It's vacation time! Part 1

We’ve been on vacation this past week. It started off with a bang – literally, and not in a good way. We were only about twenty miles from home and were going through a school zone when a man came running through the traffic waving his arms shouting, “Stop. A cop’s been shot!”

IMG_3010We were just moments behind the flying bullets which took down a deputy. He was shot in the eye, arm, and chest. Even with these injuries, he managed to get off a few shots at the assailant. When traffic was finally released and we passed the scene, five shots were noticeable in the truck’s windshield.

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While we sat in the middle of the highway only a few hundred yards away, but still in range of bullets, police and first responders swarmed in. We had a front row seat to the assailant being taken down by the police.

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What made the scene even more eerily, is this happened in a small town where I attended school as a child and the bus I rode turned in to the school in this very spot. Back then, this was unheard of. When crossing guards motioned for you to stop, you stopped. You didn’t get mad, flee the scene and return with a gun.

After an hour delay, we were on our way to New Orleans. We had just cleared New Orleans East when we came upon two company trucks, pulling road warning signs of all things. I say this because the driver of the second truck was busy texting and in the process wasn’t paying too much attention to how close he was getting to the truck in front of him. Although they were hauling road caution signs, they were not displaying much caution.

People texting while driving really irks me. While hubby drove along side the truck, I looked up the company name on my phone. Once we had the truck number, I phoned in to speak to the safety manager. He was a little surprised at the information we were able to provide. He asked what the driver looked like so he could be sure he spoke to the correct person. We not only provided a description of the driver, but the mile post, direction, time, and truck information.

The safety manager said that he was sure that the driver would deny the accusation, but also remarked that where there was smoke, there was normally fire and with the information we provided, he wouldn’t be able to easily weasel out of the problem. I guess when the driver decided to text, he wasn’t expecting a trooper to be watching. The safety manager thanked us for the information and told us he was glad we had called in.

I think we were heading through Alabama (from Louisiana) when we came across this on the interstate. I couldn’t resist clicking a picture.

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It’s not often you see this!

Our trip originated in Southern Louisiana and we traveled through Mississippi, Alabama, and then Georgia on this trip on our way to the Smokey Mountains in Northern Georgia. You see a lot of strange things out there on the interstate!

We headed through a rainstorm that insisted on following us part of the way north.

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With the morning delay, by the time we made it to Atlanta, we hit work traffic. It was a mess. I’ll never forget the first time I experienced Atlanta traffic. It was years ago. We came off of an overpass and around a curve and saw eight lanes of stalled traffic.

This was only six lanes wide.

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North of Atlanta, we ran into more rain as we headed into the mountains.

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Even with all the delays and weather, we still ended up arriving at Walnut Mountain before dark – just! These photos were taken on the mile drive up to the top of the mountain. This is actually a very steep incline.

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The fog rolled in as we reached the top.

I invite you to stay tuned for more of our adventures!

*Update – On the trip home as I was checking on the condition of the deputy that was shot, I stumbled across the name of the shooter. My heart skipped a beat when I realized that it was someone that I attended school with for five years. It is hard to reconcile the individual who picked up a gun and shot at another human being with someone I knew so long ago. Proves once again, it’s a small, small world.

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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S.E.C.R.E.T., S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared, S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed by L. Marie Adeline (Review, Giveaway)

The S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy has a unique and captivating plot, strong female characters and a realistic HEA

S.E.C.R.E.T. focuses on the sexual awakening of Cassie Robichaud, a repressed widow in her thirties who accidentally stumbles on a mysterious female organization that instills confidence through ten life-changing steps. Cassie’s sensual steps propel her towards a relationship with her boss, Will, but they have to overcome a few obstacles before they can truly enjoy their HEA (Happy Ever After).

The first book in a sexy and sophisticated series of erotica, with a new twist: this time, women control their fantasies and men will do anything to satisfy them

Cassie Robichaud is thirty-five and widowed. After a life filled with disappointments, her days are dull and gray: she waits tables at a rundown café in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to a one-bedroom apartment alone. But when she discovers a notebook left behind by a mysterious woman, Cassie’s world will never be the same. The notebook’s shocking and scandalous contents lead her to S.E.C.R.E.T, an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, darkest, and most intimate sexual fantasies. The S.E.C.R.E.T motto: No judgment. No limits. No shame. Cassie soon embarks on a tantalizing and unpredictable erotic journey, completing ten fantasy-steps toward sexual fulfillment–discovering acceptance, courage, surrender, and more–with gorgeous men in rapturous scenarios beyond her imagination. As she is set free from her inhibitions, the satisfaction and bliss she experiences bring her a new confidence that transforms her forever. Equal parts scintillating, liberating, and emotionally powerful, S.E.C.R.E.T is a world where fantasy becomes reality.

The hotly anticipated sequel to the erotic sensation S.E.C.R.E.T., where women’s sexual fantasies become reality

Still wounded from a recent heartbreak over her boss and lover, Will, Cassie Robichaud throws herself into service with S.E.C.R.E.T., the mysterious organization that changed her forever by bringing her deepest sexual fantasies to life, one step at a time. Now, it’s Cassie’s turn to guide the group’s newest candidate, Dauphine Mason, recruiting men to execute a new set of fantasies.
At thirty-one, Dauphine is the proprietor of a New Orleans vintage clothing store. She’s been harboring a crush on Mark Drury, a local rock star, but is too shy to put herself out there with him. She turns to S.E.C.R.E.T. to reignite her sexual flame and find the confidence to risk her heart again with another man.
As Cassie worries that the right time will never come for her and Will, she finds inspiration helping Dauphine in S.E.C.R.E.T. Both women navigate the rocky path between their hearts and their passions, hoping to discover what they truly want in life and in love. S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared is a romantic, adventurous, and sexually charged sequel to one of the hottest new series in erotica.

S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed bares all—the final book in the hot erotic trilogy

The only thing that Cassie Robichaud has ever really wanted is Will Foret, the love of her life. But when Will discovers that Cassie is part of S.E.C.R.E.T., an underground group devoted to helping women experience their deepest sexual fantasies, Will breaks it off. Heartbroken, Cassie dries her tears and focuses on her work with helping the latest S.E.C.R.E.T. recruit, Solange Faraday. Cassie also reignites her relationship with sexy bad-boy Jesse, even though she knows he can never love her as deeply as Will did.

Meanwhile, beautiful, brilliant Solange, a local news anchor and divorced mom, has a great career but a wilting love life. She rekindles long-lost passions, going deeper and hotter than any other S.E.C.R.E.T. candidates before her. Can Solange find what her heart most desires? And when Will realizes he’s made a tragic mistake, will Cassie be able to forgive him?

S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed is the explosive, sexually-charged finale to the phenomenal S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy.

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L. Marie AdelineL. Marie Adeline is a pseudonym for the bestselling author Lisa Gabriele. S.E.C.R.E.T., her first novel in this erotica series, was a #1 international bestseller. For more information on the S.E.C.R.E.T. series, visit www.secretnovels.com and www.facebook.com/lmarieadeline

For more information on books by Lisa Gabriele go to www.lisagabriele.com

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My Review:

The S.E.C.R.E.T. Trilogy is not for the faint of heart, but it is for all of you who love great fantasies and love stories! Under no circumstances do I want to give away the plot of what I thought were fantastic books, so I will tread as lightly as I can. Picture yourself in your day-to-day hum-drum life and out of the blue you find out about a secret society that helps women explore their sexual fantasies, in a safe environment, with trained men. Calm down ladies! I’m not sure if such a place exists, but just think of the possibilities!

The S.E.C.R.E.T. Trilogy books are set in New Orleans, a city ripe for such an undertaking if there ever was one. The books are romantic. They are tantalizing. They are full of sexual intrigue (so not for the faint of heart) and mystery. The books are about women’s friendships and women helping women.

A teaser I am willing to part with is S.E.C.R.E.T. is a secret organization run by wonderful women who only want to help other women to have fulfilling lives. Members are chosen. Once chosen, the woman visits the mansion and fills out a questionnaire with her fantasies. The board of the S.E.C.R.E.T. organization then sets up the fantasies. There are ten altogether and the purpose is to give a woman confidence and to help her find direction in her life. Upon acceptance into the organization, each woman receives a bracelet. At the completion of each step, she receives a charm that represents the lesson she has learned about herself.

Surrender, Courage, Trust, Generosity, Fearlessness, Confidence, Curiosity, Bravery, Exuberance, The Choice

It is an intriguing trilogy, that while about sex, is not all about sex. It is about growing a woman’s confidence in herself. This is not the type of book that I normally review here on my blog, and I don’t think I actually understood the entire scope of the series when I agreed to review the books, but I really enjoyed them, so much so, that I am giving them a five star rating and highly recommending them. I thought the writing was top-notch and the book very well put together. The trilogy boasts a unique story line that I have yet to come across and I think women will definitely enjoy the books.

At thirty-five, I’d begun to believe “it” would never happen again. To be wanted, to be craved, the way this man craved this woman, was like something out of a foreign movie in a language I’d never learn, with subtitles that were becoming increasingly blurry.

I thought about the notebook, the words I had scanned, that man at the table, the way he caressed his partner’s wrist and kissed her fingers. How he fingered her bracelet, his urgency. I wished some man could feel that for me. I thought of a fistful of thick hair in my hands, my back pressed against a wall in the kitchen of the restaurant, a hand lifting my skirt. Wait a second, the man with Pauline had a shaved head. I was imagining Will’s hair, Will’s mouth…

S.E.C.R.E.T. is a fictional society dedicated to helping women achieve a sexual awakening.

I am hosting a giveaway of the entire trilogy (S.E.C.R.E.T., S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared, S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed) open to residents in the US and Canada only. Just leave a comment with your name and email for contact purposes! 

Purchase S.E.C.R.E.T. in these formats:
Kindle
Paperback
Audio

Purchase S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared in these formats:
Kindle
Paperback
Audio

Purchase S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed in these formats:
KindlePaperback

Amazon.com Review

A Conversation with L. Marie Adeline

L. Marie Adeline

Q. Secret Shared focuses on two characters: Cassie, who we know from S.E.C.R.E.T., and a new character, Dauphine. Can you tell us a bit about the experience of writing two characters throughout one novel?

A. That was not really planned until I began the writing process. It seemed to me that Cassie’s trip through the steps couldn’t continue. And S.E.C.R.E.T. has a mandate to “pass it on.” Naturally, I needed to find a new candidate equally compelling and vexed by her sex life, but in a different way than Cassie. She couldn’t also be locked in sexually and reluctant. In fact, Dauphine is far more experienced than Cassie; she’s just shoved sex on the back burner of her life. And so many people do it. Sex becomes a muscle we no longer flex. The trick with Dauphine is finding her Southern-ness, the parts that no longer work and the parts that served her well. The voice came from that. Switching voices between chapters took some getting used to. I would find myself putting Cassie’s words in Dauphine’s mouth. There’s also a character, Mark Drury, who both women “know.” I had to see him through two different eyes, by two women who felt differently about him. Once the characters became fully formed that was just a natural expression of who they were. But it was challenging, writing from two different perspectives. And fun!

Q. Do you see parts of yourself in the women of S.E.C.R.E.T.? Is there a character you particularly identify with?

A. I think a writer’s DNA is in a little bit of each of their characters. I think I share Cassie’s reticence, Will’s simplicity, Tracina’s survivor mentality, and some of Matilda’s hard-earned wisdom (I like to think!). My new character, Dauphine, is a bit of a workaholic, and that’s something I definitely share with her. I can really lose myself in my work, which I’m lucky to find so edifying. But still, work is no substitute for intimacy, as Dauphine happily discovers.

Q. In addition to Cassie, readers will recognize many other characters in SECRET Shared from S.E.C.R.E.T. Did you always know you wanted to bring them back? Or were there some characters you found you just couldn’t say goodbye to?

A. As the first book was completed, S.E.C.R.E.T. the novel became S.E.C.R.E.T. the series. So yes, that meant some characters would stay, newer ones would be introduced, and some characters will go, their journeys now complete. That said, I just couldn’t resist seeing what Jesse was all about. Bringing him back for SECRET Shared allowed a peek into who these men were and what was in S.E.C.R.E.T. for them. And while recurring characters allow me to rip back the curtain even further on how S.E.C.R.E.T. operates, new ones add new elements to this mysterious group. It’s really quite exciting for me too.

Q. In SECRET Shared, Cassie and Dauphine push their boundaries-both sexually and emotionally. Did you find yourself pushing your boundaries as an author?

A. Yes. Being a writer of sensual wasn’t in my long-term career plan and I never imagined S.E.C.R.E.T. would grow around the world, let alone evolve into an “anxiously anticipated” series. But yes, in order to do this book and this genre justice, I’ve had to write well out of my usual “comfort zone,” which ended up happening quite naturally as the characters became more real to me. For instance, as Cassie’s sensual appetites evolve, she becomes more confident, more adept. That meant I had to up my game, erotically speaking. So the romantic stakes get higher in Secret Shared and I think I’m having more fun with the material. I hope that shows on the pages!

Q. What would you say to a reader who has never read an sensual novel?

A. I imagine we’re talking about someone who not only hasn’t read sensual but has resisted reading “genres.” I would say to them that whether it’s a romance novel, fantasy, sci-fi, or whatever, a good novel is a good novel. Don’t get tripped up by the label or category. I can’t believe, for instance, that I resisted George R. R. Martin’s series for so long because I had a prejudice against “fantasy” books. I never read books with dragons and kings and had no interest, until a particularly persuasive friend suggested I give them a try. I lost months in those books. I just got swept away. For me, a good book is about the plot and character development. I no longer turn down a potentially great book because of the so-called genre into which it gets slotted.

 

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. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

The Montana Gallagher Series – Historical Western Romance at its best with MK McClintock (Reviews)

Book One of the Montana Gallagher Series
Historical Western Romance

She was a on a quest of discovery. He was on a quest for revenge. Together they would discover a second chance.

Brenna Cameron travels from Scotland after losing someone she loves in search of family she didn’t know existed. Alone now in the world, Brenna makes an arduous journey, following the trail of discovery to Briarwood, Montana. Here she meets Ethan Gallagher, and the rest of the Gallagher clan. Only with their help is she able to discover lost family, heal old wounds and embark on a treacherous confrontation with a man who destroyed her family.

As head of the Gallagher clan, Ethan has more than enough to occupy his thoughts and time-he didn’t need the complication of Brenna Cameron and he certainly didn’t need the trouble that came with her. Ethan takes on the unwanted duty of self-appointed protector to the headstrong Scot, only to discover there is such a thing as second chances and more to life than revenge.

The Historical Western Romance Montana Gallagher Series:
Book One – Gallagher’s Pride
Book Two – Gallagher’s Hope
Book Three – Gallagher’s Choice

 Purchase Book 1 in these formats:  Kindleor Paperback

Book Two of the Montana Gallagher Series
Historical Western Romance

She sought a new beginning. He sought what he didn’t know was missing. Together they would discover hope in unlikely places.

Isabelle Rousseau must escape New Orleans and the memory of her family’s tragic loss. With her younger brother in tow, she accepts a position as the new schoolteacher in Briarwood, Montana. Desperate to keep what’s left of her family together, Isabelle joins her life with a stranger only to discover that trust and hope go hand in hand.

Gabriel Gallagher lived each day as it came believing he had everything he could possibly want . . . until a determined woman and her brother arrive with a little luggage and a lot of secrets. It will take a drastic choice to protect her and give them both hope for the future.

Purchase Book 2 in these formats: Paperback
Kindle

Book Three of the Montana Gallagher Series 

Historical Western Romance 

He finally had a family to call his own. She now knew what it meant to risk it all. Together they had a chance to find peace at last. 

Eliza Gallagher is tough, resilient, and rides a horse like she was born in the saddle. All necessary qualities for someone who runs a cattle ranch. She had more to avenge than any of them and she was counting on those skills to finally find the justice they all sought — until she realized it could cost her everything and everyone she loved. 

Ramsey Hunter finally knew what it was to have a family and what it took to keep that family together. He knew coming back wouldn’t be easy, but he never imagined what he would have to risk to keep it. 

Eliza got him home; now Ramsey has to do whatever it takes to save her life and help bring peace to Hawk’s Peak. 

Purchase Book 3 in these formats: Kindleor Paperback

Image of MK McClintock

Born near the beautiful coast of southern California and raised in the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, author MK McClintock studied business at BYU-Idaho until she decided culinary school was a lot more fun. Armed with a gypsy spirit and adventurous nature, MK traveled from coast to coast living in remote mountains towns and a small New England village, traversed rocky coasts, experienced fine Southern hospitality, and explored the Highlands of Scotland before returning home to Montana.

She helps run her family businesses by day, and by night, MK spins tales of romance and adventure inspired by the heather-covered hills of Scotland, and the majestic mountains of home. With her heart deeply rooted in the past, and her mind always on adventure, she lives and writes wherever her heart and imagination lead her.

Learn more about MK by visiting her website: http://www.mkmcclintock.com or her blog: http://www.booksandbenches.com.

My Review:

Author’s Note: I fell in love with the Gallagher family from their first words. The characters are flawed, likable, and yes, sometimes infuriating, but they’re real and true to themselves. This is more than just a series – it’s a western saga, so some questions won’t be answered until the end. The series follows the Gallagher’s romance, hope, and revenge over the course of several books – each one offering something new.

I felt it necessary to begin my review with words from the author herself because she so aptly describes the books better than I ever could. The Gallagher’s are a saga, one you will love from the very first page of Book 1 through the last page of Book 3, and you will be left wanting so much more.

The Gallagher series takes you from Montana to Scotland and back, from one beautiful country to another. MK McClintock has the ability to weave the details into a story that leave the reader enjoying the friendship of the characters. The covers of the books draw you in, but the story and the people keep you there.

The books are well written, full of the beauty of the countryside as well as the people. The story-lines are intriguing, full of romance and intrigue, and will keep you guessing until the very last page. As the author said, the characters are flawed, likable, and sometimes infuriating and you will love each and every one of them.

I am giving the Gallagher series five stars. You will fast become a fan of MK McClintock.

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. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

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