Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blogging Thoughts & One for You

{image from}
It's Tuesday, and that means it's Gumbo day. Don't you love the big alligator stirring up his gumbo pot? *I particularly like that his apron seems to have MY initials on it.* Since gumbos require you throw just about any- and everything you have on hand into the pot, today I'm going to share some things about the blogging world that make me go *hmmm*

  • Is there a standardized bletiquette (blog + etiquette) list available somewhere new bloggers can read? If so, who made the list?
  • If you're a reality TV fan, you'll recognize the names Tabitha Coffee (love that name) and Gordon Ramsey. These are Brits who go into places of businesses, take over, wreak general havoc and chaos, and in the process, help turn the biz around. I've been wondering how it would work if a few of us attempted a Blog Takeover crew. We'd attack shoddy blogs (I like the sound of that too), rake them over the coals (in the kindest, gentlest way, of course), and in the end, renovate them for success. *smile*
  • What inspires bloggers to choose between using a personal photo and a cartoon/icon image to identify themselves?
  • Why are there more women bloggers than men? Is it because we like to communicate (i.e. yap) more than they do?
  • Is there a blogger mentoring union? If so, how much are the dues and how often do they meet?
  • Why does my blog refuse to hold the line spacing I put in? Arghh!
Okay, enough of that silliness. Just for you, a recipe for a truly great cup of coffee:

Cafe au Lait

1 cup coffee with chicory
1 cup steamed milk

Divide hot brewed coffee into 2 cups. Add steamed milk evenly to each cup. Sweeten as preferred. Enjoy. Is that simple, or what?
And if you're a visual learner, here's a video:

Monday, September 29, 2008

All Aboard!

I like this nice ordinary picture, although I probably would have cropped it a bit closer in if I'd taken it. A simple but colorful city bus pulling away from a homey-looking clean commercial area, taking passengers to and from work. It's a Louisiana scene, so this counts as a Monday Tout Le Monde (all over the world) topic.
If you could enlarge the photograph, you'd see the bus is bound for an unusual destination. The front marquis reads, "Cemetery." Does that change your perception of the picture any? Does it make your mind spin with endless possibilities and questions?
To get your creativity or Monday morning foggy head going, can you think of a plot (no pun intended, although it does fit the subject well) involving the bus and one or more occupants?
I'm going to run a little contest. The best paragraph with a storyline fitting the picture will win a prize on Friday to post at your blog...if I can figure out how to get it to you! If not, I'll either come clean your house or send you a pound of some really good coffee. So, c' those plots!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week Ahead: Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Sunshine

It's been a not-so-great week, with the loss of my sweet Darla girl dog, but I've given myself a few days to really grieve, then I'll look ahead to a better forecast for the week.
I'm optimistic about writing goals right now, as I've gotten several projects off my plate lately, and feel like anything is possible. An editing project *waving to my friend who knows who she is and how much I'm loving this work and what a good friend she is* is going really well also. More than progress made, I'm feeling like there's a "good cycle" coming up for me next. A period when I'll be productive and doors will open. Is it a hunch, unwarranted optimism or wishful thinking?
Whatever it is, I'll let you know when it pans out. In the meantime, take a second and fill out the writer's poll up in the top right corner. Maybe clarifying your goals combined with positive thinking and prayer power will net us some good results. I know I'll be remembering each of you and your WWWs (Wonderful Writing Wishes) over the coming days. Wouldn't it be awesome to hear good news all over BlogLand due to the increased efforts we put into caring, hoping and praying for each other's successes?
*clink* Raising my coffee cup to yours as we forge ahead.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In Memoriam

I lost my good and faithful pet last night. Darla was a 16-year-old Boston Terrier who'd been with me through thick and thin. She was like my fourth child, and was an excellent pet to my children. Below the picture of her, you'll see her new resting place in our backyard.

The old gal always did her job to the best of her ability. When my husband (King Rufus) traveled for work for long months at a time, she never once failed to alert me of strangers driving up the long dark driveway. She knew all our friends' vehicles and would stand by the door to greet them. Darla guarded her house and people with fierce attention. She patiently put up with the indignities small children will heap upon a pet. Her love and devotion were unconditional. She was a friend. A part of my family.

I will miss her. I picture her now running free as the wind, once again chasing birds and squirrels on strong young legs, free from pain and old age. I couldn't have asked for a better pet.

*Goodbye, my friend.*

Friday, September 26, 2008

Space Invaders

I recently read a post over at the hysterical June Cleaver Nirvana blog on the subject of young children and the frazzled mothers who are tied to them with invisible umbilical chords. For several years after my children were born, I was confused or sleep deprived, or both. I thought when they let dads cut those chords in the hospital before you brought baby home, the fleshy ropes were permanently severed. But I've been wrong about so many things.

Thinking on the subject of mothers and that close physical proximity they have with their offspring until they reach teenagehood, I remembered clearly the suffocating feeling of having no private space of one's own. For a long time, I couldn't imagine there would come a day when my three little cling-ons would unvelcro themselves from me and actually function as autonomous beings. I mean, I called them "my precious hemorrhoids" for years, I hate to admit now.

Anyway, you can read here what got me thinking about all this. Be sure to note the helpful diagrams. June Cleaver Nirvana: An issue of space

In a domino effect of remembered events -- or maybe it's just more brain cells dying off -- a story about my youngest son came to mind. Court Jester (CJ) whom you read about yesterday involving an incident at nursery school [the same school in which he forged my cursive initials signature with a circle around ...except in red crayon...on his "D" conduct grade for the week, the first week in the big 4-year-old class] was the biggest space invader of my kids. But he didn't just contain his clingyness to Mom. It extended to perfect strangers sometimes too.

In an effort to train this bad habit out of CJ, I brought home a hula hoop one day and made him walk around with it for about an hour, holding it over his body with his arms down, akin to a gigantic hoop skirt. "The space inside the hula is your space, CJ," I patiently and hopefully explained. "And the space outside of the hoop belongs to other people. Understand?" He mumbled something I didn't quite understand, then ran off to play with his siblings in the backyard.

After loading the dishwasher, I looked out of the window, and there sat Queenie (his older sister) and Fresh Prince (CJ's older brother)...and yes, everyone in the house has a name with royal connotations except me, the Scullery Wench...sitting on the ground inside Court Jester's hula hoop. He'd told them Mom said they had to stay inside the circle, and all the space outside of it was his.

So much for parental instruction using innovative methods. Oh, how I wanted to incorporate a little "hands on" explanation at that moment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Amphibious Ambitions

Every now and then, a good email forward lands in your inbox, and it makes you smile, sigh or think. This one made me do all three:

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition among themselves. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. When the race began, no one in the crowd really believed the tiny frogs would reach the top. They said things like, "Oh, wayyyy too difficult!" "They'll never ever make it," and, "Not a chance they can succeed. The tower is too high!"

The tiny frogs began collapsing one by one, except for those, who in a fresh tempo, kept climbing higher. The crowd continued to yell, "It is too difficult! No one will make it!"

More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But one continued higher and higher and higher. This one wouldn't give up climbing the tower. After a big effort, he was the only one who reached the top.

Naturally, all the other tiny frogs wanted to know how he managed to do it. A fellow contestant asked how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal. As it turned out, the winner who reached the top was deaf!

The wisdom of this story is: Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you -- the ones you have in your heart. Always think of the power words have. Remember, everything you hear and read will affect your actions, so always be positive. And above all, be deaf when people tell YOU that you cannot fulfill your dreams.

What's your favorite piece of animal wisdom, fable, story or experience which has stayed with you?

Here's one from my personal memory book: When my youngest son (I'll call him Court Jester, or CJ for short) had just turned four and his sister and brother were in pre-K and K, I taught his class at a church nursery school. All the kids are gathered in a circle around me and I'm asking about the different sounds animals make. There was mooing, cheeping, oinking, woofing noises all through the group, then I got to CJ. "What does the froggy say, son?" I ask with pride and love shining in my eyes. CJ, with deadpan look at me, right as the school director enters the classroom, "Bud...weiser."

If you're not old enough to remember those popular commercials, this one's for you--->

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The 6 Ps of Networking

{This is from an article I had in The Fabulist Flash a few years ago, and which I also updated and published at Rose & Thorn Literary E-zine.}

Writers know the importance of networking, and blogging can be a big part of that. But if you're also working outside the writing arena, say, like in a part- or full time "regular" job, and maybe even have a kid or two thrown into the mix, you really know the value of making contacts and working with like minded people. If nothing else, it keeps you from going bonkers.

Since I'm one of those busy mom writers, my brain cells are at dangerously low levels and my time is stretched to the max. Networking helps me to maximize my writing productivity, it's easy and fun.

I know the principles of networking are sound because I've co-authored three inspirational books, had a joint humor/advice column with my twin sister, participate in two blogs with other writers, have facilitated writers groups, and worked on many joint projects.

By joining live and/or cyber groups and subscribing to e-zines, we increase our exposure to the job market and to fellow writers and their experiences. Exchanging submission call outs and opportunities is another benefit of group membership.

The 6Ps which help me stay on track with writing?
  1. Patience - The bad news first. Our personal writing Rome won't be built in a day or even a year. Be prepared for lots of hard work and a heavy dose of patience while paying writing dues. Working with another person or group requires a little extra thought and is one of the reasons patience is a virtue. It's hard as hell to have it, hold onto it, and trust in it. But it yields results.

  2. Persistence - We've heard the inspirational quotes, now it's time to believe them. "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.'" ~ Calvin Coolidge. "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." ~ Thomas Edison. When your energy or motivation flags, someone in your writing network can shore you up and put you back on the path.

  3. Partnerships - Here's a personal quote: "Nothing worth doing is done alone." Never underestimate the power of your partnerships and the fun and inspiration to be had.

  4. Prayer (or if you prefer, Positive Thinking) - Prayer power has been my most reliable weapon in the battle to get published. Grabbing opportunities offered me; I've cleaned houses (flexible and good cash), gotten regular column gigs, and private investigation jobs. All these I juggled with freelancing for a decent paycheck, and all required that I work with others in the process.

  5. Playing the Field - Diversify your goals. Write your novel, but keep your writing fresh by trying your hand at articles, working for start up publications, crafting short stories/poetry or whatever. Who knows where these avenues will lead? By playing the writing field, you increase your chances of catching an editor's eye. You build your clip file. You gain experience. And again, you build your network.
    Are there contests you might enter? So what if you don't win? You have a finished product to edit and submit elsewhere. I'm a deadline-pressure-in-order-to-get-moving kind of writer, so contest deadlines help me produce.

  6. Perception - See things differently, look outside conventions and boxes. To increase your writing and publishing scores, try to be different. Look for opportunities others overlook. If you see an ad for an freelance article writer for a new publication and it's full of typos or bad grammar, offer your editing services. Think of creative ways to advertise your services. Partner up with others to decrease advertising expenses.

And an extra "P" while I'm thinking about it: Plant your writing seeds wisely and tend them afterward. Always thank those who've helped you along the writing road, and lend a hand when you can. Little kindnesses are appreciated, they come back to you in multiple, and they leave your name with a good connotation in others' minds.

Can you think of any Ps that help you in your writing journey? If not a P, any letter will do.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Them's Fightin' Words!

"Mohhhhhhhhhmmmm, there's nothing to eat!" Oh, how I detest those words...pitiful (bogus) screams for help that spell out for the world, or at least the neighbors, what a pathetic mother I am. What it all boils down to in reality, is my teenagers just cannot see the abundance of prepared and/or easy-to-fix meals I have on hand at all times.

They are either meal challenged, lazy (hmmmm, I'm pretty sure this description is an apt one), or really prefer eating out and grabbing fast food. Dad, too, loves nothing more than eating out. In addition, unless it's sitting on the table hot and fresh and served on plates, nobody in this house can find the food.

Since it's impossible to fix a meal for all five members of my family and sit down to eat it at the same time ("working late," "baseball practice, then I gotta work a shift," "band practice," "I'll be meeting Suzie in an hour," "goin' to my girlfriend's," yada yada yada), I finally quit trying. But I swear, the food is still available!

Now I'm ready to set the record straight for moms and wives across the nation who face this mealtime challenge! Raise your left hand (the one holding the wooden spoon), put your right one on your favorite cookbook, and repeat after me:

"I will henceforth and forever after not feel guilty when a member of this household accuses me of not providing for their nutritional needs. I KNOW there is plenty of food in this house. And in fact, the very next time I hear words to the contrary, I will smack the offender in the head with this wooden cooking utensil and take myself out to dinner. This I do swear, on the ____ day of _____ month, 20__, in the sacred names of Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima and Chef Boyardee."

Whew! I feel better already. I hope if you make the open-your-eyes-and-eat-what's-plainly-before-you pledge, you'll let me know how it went.

And as a reward for all you good women, below is a recipe for Quiche you might enjoy, and a link to a good and easy one for Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies, which I promised someone. Tiffany? (BTW, they're exceptionally good items to pack and take away with you for a weekend at the B&B with your women friends...alone...without family.) *Sorry guys, if you like to cook and are a good and loyal meal consumer, then feel free to enjoy the recipes also.*
But first, the evidence I've collected today for my defense against charges of bad mothering practices -- Exhibits A-G:

Fruit bowl (yeah, that's a plastic Easter
egg & fast food condiments thrown in). Fully stocked pantry.

Fridge (just cleaned out lots of uneaten, delicious meals!) Note the 2 Mickey D
chicken burgers on 4th shelf beneath
roast, ham, fruit, veggies, & chicken
salad containers).

Aha! Pizza boxes in the recycle bin.

Cajun Quiche

2 9-inch deep dish pie shells
6 large eggs, beaten (like they were teenagers)
1 1/2 cups shredded American cheese (6 oz.)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 pound lump crabmeat or crawfish tails
1/2 pound cleaned medium shrimp
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (or Tony's, or salt/pepper/cayenne/garlic mix)

Heat oven to 350. Prick bottoms of frozen pie shells with a fork. Bake 10 minutes until lightly browned. Meanwhile, combine eggs, cheeses, onions, cream and seasonings in a large bowl until well blended. Fold in seafood. Divide filling evenly into pie crusts. Bake 50-55 minutes until filling is set in center. Makes 12 servings. Ca c'est bon!

Now.......what's in your 'fridge?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Out of the Blogging Bog

Good morning, even if it is a Monday! [That's "Webding" for Monday.]

Last week I polled some blogging buds about their favorite all time post topics. What interesting and varied responses you shared, and thank you again. Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, am I the only nut who posts and reads on weekends? LOL
Sidebar: If Web + Log = Blog, does Blog + Post = Ghost or Boast?

So, to recap, here are some of your best received topics:
Joanne said..."Hmm. I find, and was surprised to see this, that Going Green, with the picture of the green field/pond, was my most popular yet."
Janna Qualman said..."I've been doing Tuesday's Stuff and Things for about a month now, and that gets a lot of readers (according to Statcounter), but posts focused on the craft of writing get a lot of response."
Terri Tiffany said..."If I go according to the number of comments, then my recent post ...the rest of the story, seems to be the one."
colbymarshall said..."Herm, I'm not sure what my favorite post is, but I like one where I first described what I would do with a tail if I had one."
The Paper Whisperer said..."I don't have any "tips" for you since I am a virgin blogger."
GardenAuthor said..."A poetic essay...which received several delightful comments and remains one of my personal favorites. It's entitled 'The Three Disciplines of Writing.'"
Melissa Marsh said..."As far as generating comments goes (ones from lurkers, especially), I did one on the quote, 'God didn't give you the desire without the talent.'"
Kathryn Magendie said..."It's mixed: some people like that I'm writing a novel draft to blog and are enjoying Clementine's story..."!A5E413A8F4D9C222!9912.entry
texasholly said..."My most popular post within people who read me is my beaver trapping post: But the post that has the most hits due to stumbleupon is this silliness:"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week Ahead: Sunshine with a Slight Chance of Rain

What's your week ahead looking like? If you were a meteorologist, what kind of weather would you forecast for yourself? (You can see my prediction in the title heading.)

We're creeping toward the end of September, and in Louisiana that means we're still in the Hot Zone. But instead of enjoying summer at the beach, lake, park, or even in some swank vacation spot (Ha), now we're sweating in the sauna-like conditions while watching and/or tailgating for school, college and professional football on weekends. [Please excuse the PSA, but...GEAUXXXX TIGERS! -- That's for LSU fans the world over.]

So, here's the coming week's breakdown, in case you want to feel better about your own life and schedule *grin*.
Note: Calendar items are not all-inclusive, and are subject to multiple changes, rerouting, and crises:
  • Monday: Write Year of Gratitude blog entry; clean up the pigsty from daughter's LSU football party; grocery shop; do editing work; make a dentist appointment (chipped a piece off a molar *shiver*); grocery shop; cook ahead for the week; spend the night at parents (Mondays and Thursdays are my nights to help out, and I enjoy it.)
  • Tuesday: Possible lunch with a school mom friend; my new semester of poetry class may resume tonight if the professor is able to reoccupy her house since Gustav wrecked her neighborhood, if not, a cousin may be having a family prayer group meeting launch; pay bill for youngest son's trombone lessons; edit; work on weekly writing goals; housework junk.
  • Wednesday: Errand day; wash clothes (not that I don't do that pretty much every day...but midweek, I have to make sure kids have enough school uniforms to get through Friday); attend middle child's Senior Parent Picnic; edit, watch Project Runway with Mom.
  • Thursday: What? Nothing on my calendar? Now, that's spooky. Spend the night at parents.
  • Friday: YOG blog entry post; send out submissions; edit. It's TGIF...whoopie. LOL. Oh, check and see if there's a school football game tonight. If so, sell raffle tickets.
  • Saturday: Run away and get in some R&R. Remember, Moms -- the last one out of the house on the weekend loses!

I'll leave you with this thought: If you don't write your own forecast, you might be depending on someone like this to do it for you --

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Very First Spotlight is on...

As I mentioned earlier this week, my days of the week now have their very own topics. So, today being Saturday and all, it's time to talk about some interesting website, blog, book or person.
I know she's gonna throw a hissy fit (yes, those really do exist, and are very different from tizzies, s*it fits, "having a cow," and pitching a b****. *laugh* The momma of the blog below is of the humble variety and does not like anything to do with "tooting her own horn," which being in the writing biz, one does have to do ocassionally. As her good and loyal friend, I don't mind tootin' for her. Wow, that didn't sound right, did it?

Anywho, today while you are blog hopping, browsing or strolling, please take a moment and drop by the playhouse of Kathryn Magendie. If you're interested in how the freakish writer's mind works, her blog should give you a good idea. LOL. She's currently writing a short story/novel?? right into her blog...unedited and organically, just as the characters speak it to her. She's got other interesting items displayed on her blog too. I hope you'll enjoy, and please mention I sent you to her spot. I'll post her screaming reaction at the bottom of this post when she contacts me. hehe.

I'll be featuring some of YOUR blogs soon too, so if you don't want some shameless third party promotion, ya better let me know in advance. If I'm one of your stalkers, ummm, followers, you're fair game. Mwahhahahahaaaaaaaaaaa!

Friday, September 19, 2008


SSDD - Same Stuff, Different Day. That pretty much describes what's going on in my life right now. I've got a few editing projects going, keeping my blog and the two others I contribute to updated, still looking for the perfect stress free flexible part time job [and on that note, I'm gladly accepting prayers, juju, good thoughts & vibes for good news on a column writing position I applied for], doing all those wifely and motherly duties (yep, I'll be back at the football field hawking more raffle tickets tonight), and enjoying whatever gets put on my plate.
Since this is Friday and my "blogging schedule" tells me to address family life & stuff, I wanted to share a favorite new recipe with y'all. For those of you not blessed to be born and bred in the South, you might not be familiar with the importance of a delicious, easy, fast and new recipe. You see, for every occasion, joyful or sad, us good G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Raised in the South) feel an overwhelming desire to provide sustenance for friends and family in need of celebration or sympathy. It's a tradition as old as our bearded oaks.
And it's not just us gals. Many men go on auto-pilot with tools in hand to their BBQ pits, dutch ovens, frying/boiling rigs [cooking done outdoors and somehow involving fire or danger] when notified of pending important events. *Hmmm. Thought: Maybe the menfolk git ta cookin' because we ask them to, not because it's a natural desire* But either way, it works out well for the recipients and the cooks.
Having had three of the not happy scenarios of late, I'm glad to have this version of a banana pudding to fall back, not literally, although that might be nice too! Don't laugh at that hokey sounding name either. It's really de-vine. I hope if you try it, you'll let me know what you think.

Mary Jo's Banana Fluff
  • 2 packages Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 9-oz. container Cool Whip
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large box Vanilla Wafers
  • 8 bananas

Line an 11 x 16 pan with wafers. Slice bananas over. Mix the pudding according to directions on the box, then blend in condensed milk, vanilla and Cool Whip. Pour mixture over cookies and bananas, smoothing evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in refrigerator overnight. It really is slap-ya-momma good!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey, Buddy, Can Ya Spare a Tip?

It's Thursday, therefore it's time to open the floor to questions, thoughts, whatever. Since this is a new topic for me, I'm going to solicit help from my blogging friends to get started.
Send me ideas...wait, scratch that. Please leave comments on what you consider your best blog post ever. What was it about? What sort of reader reaction did you get? Did that post lead to bigger, better things for you? Know up front that I may be "borrowing" your best ever ideas in the future, and if I can figure out how, I'll link back to your original post. C'mon, help a blogger out! *smile*

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hear ye, hear ye! Order in the Blog!

Since I can't seem to tame the chaos reigning in other areas of my life, I thought I might try to do so in my blog. I guess I'm sorta like people who suffer from eating disorders, which I definitely do not: When things are Hodgepodge, helter-skelter, piled-up-to-the-ceiling, and overwhelming, well then, I'll just find some little corner of the universe I can control.

Besides introducing seven categories underneath which I'll post (sparing needlessly wasted brain cells caused by thinking about what labels to add to each entry), just maybe it'll give blog friends and addicts easier hunting grounds. The categorizing system also helps me feel virtuous and competent. Now, there's a good bonus!

If that didn't make sense, here's the Reader's Digest version -- I'll have a different category to write about for each day of the week. The seven days will have their own headings:
  • Mondays - Tout Le Monde (everything & everyone else in the world not already covered in another category we might want to chat about)
  • Tuesdays - Gumbo (a catch-all day of the week where anything's possible)
  • Wednesdays - Writing Wednesdays (all about the craft, frustration, joy, and process of writing)
  • Thursdays - The Floor is Open (the day of the week anyone can throw out a thought [not that you can't do that on any day!], question, quandary, pondering, or whatever in the comment area for us all to enjoy)
  • Fridays - Family Life and Stuff (ummm, self-explanatory)
  • Saturdays - Spotlight On ______ (I'll feature blogs, websites, people and things I like and why I like 'em)
  • Sundays - Weekly Forecast (what's on the coming week's plate)

So, lemme know what ya think about my Gumbo Writer's new system. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And since it's Writing Wednesday, here are a few quotes to consider:

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." ~ Isaac Asimov

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no-one knows what they are." ~ E. M. Forster

"Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry." ~ Stephen King

Got a favorite?

{pie chart graphic from}

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Casino Madness (or How to Be One of Life's Winners)

We arrived without incident at the Hollywood Casino on Mississippi's weather-battered Coast, and enjoyed a comped buffet supper together. (I'm the one with the most plates in front of her; that's my younger sister behind me with the same set of LSU scrubs on; and my super thin identical twin in brown [tell me that's fair]; and our beautiful mom in pink.

Eeeeeeeek! All the elevators but one are out due to power shortage and we're on the fifth floor! The generator must've gone out several times during the night, because the A/C cut off often. Ug. The movie my sisters were watching was 22 seconds from revealing the murderer when the TV also went out. But Mom didn't wake up all night, so those were just minor things adding to our Great Hollywood Casino Adventure.

The Queen of the Casino doing what she loves best -- playing the quarter video slot machine with our help. Can you tell how much fun she's having?

And the winner is...everyone who got to see Mom's smile! ;)

Do something you really enjoy today! You never know what tomorrow holds.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where in the World is Gumbo Writer?

Yep, I'm AWOL today. Down on the coast of Mississippi for a little jaunt with Mom and two sisters.
When my head clears from the sights & sounds of casino slot machines jangling and squawking (and hopefully, maybe a few wins racked up for Mom!), I'll update you on the Great Casino Adventure.

Until then, hope your day today is NOT the typical Monday blah kind. Keep writing, keep loving, keep going for your dreams...not necessarily in that order!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Regret Less

[In case you think you're seeing doubles, don't worry. I'm using this same post for our Year of Gratitude blog and this one today because I'm tired and my eyes are googly. Been a long day of football fundraising, cooking for others, and helping take care of Mom. ;)]
Sunday, the traditional first day of the week. I wonder what today will hold? My two sisters and I are taking our mom on a short trip as she’s been very ill for almost a year and has been itching to go somewhere. She’s always loved nothing more than cozying up to a poker slot machine for hours and hours, so we’re going to fulfill that wish for her at a large casino and spend time just the four of us for an overnighter. We’ve got the meds, supplies, wheelchair, and insulin packed up and our don’t-leave-home-without-it Bag O’ Snacks that has always accompanied us on every journey.
After so much bad weather lately, we’re hoping for sunny skies with maybe just a light sprinkle or two. I’m grateful for this time and for this getaway. Three people close to me have lost a loved one suddenly in the last week, so I know what a blessing it is to have as many good days to spend with those you care most about as possible. When the time comes, I won’t have as many shoulda/woulda/couldas and regrets hanging over me as some people do. That is a blessing I truly am grateful for.

All this pondering about time and loss of loved ones and regrets got me to wondering if there are things we can do to minimize those dark cloudy feelings, besides the obvious one of doing today what could be put off until tomorrow or later on. How do you live more fully each day pursuing the things, people and plans most important to you?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yikes, Ike!

I really do hope this is the last hurricane post I have to make for year 2008. But isn't that a mean looking monster swooping in on Texas? (I'm writing this on Friday night, Sept. 12, just in case winds or floods knock our power off again in the morning.) We're prepared to the hilt once more, and will have plenty of food cooked if anybody wants to drop in and share a meal! ;)
All this fearsome weather we've had lately makes me wonder what sort of storms, phenomena or conditions other people who don't live in the South fear. What about you?
Prayers and good thoughts to those in our neighboring state who are in Ike's direct path. And to those who will clean up the mess afterward.
Now, this is off topic, but if anyone knows of a really really easy (read, idiot-proof) site/stat counter, could ya let me know? 'Preciate ya!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Lessons Learned

L-R top: Porch Puppies; Shoot Me, Please; 2 Days After. Middle Row: Apt. Bldg. Next to my Hood; A Friend's Front Yard 9/11; Blue Tarps Flap in Hood. Bottom: Another Hood Shot.

Hurricane survival brings with it many lessons; some good, some bad. I've added to an email going around to gather the basic scoop for those unfamiliar with storm preps:
The ill humor (aggravation) quotient can be calculated by adding the number of children, pets and evacuees under your roof with the days you are without power. Multiply this figure by the amount of days your beleaguered power provider quoted you in estimate until power is returned to your neighborhood. Divide that by the total number of fans and portable A/C units you ran off generator in your home. (Multiply to the third power if you had no generator.) If you waited in line at Home Depot or Lowe's for a generator or supplies to run said generator, multiply by the compiled daily high temp of the period. If supplies ran out before your turn, add 5 thousand. Multiply your total again by the number of days left until school reopens. Subtract by the percentage of time spent at neighbors' who had power, plus the times you combined food and ate together, delivered or received ice, water, blue tarps and/or MRE's, helped (or were helped by someone else) removed limbs, operated a chainsaw, met a new neighbor, or spent time visiting and holding a real conversation. Also subtract by the number of out of state tree trimmers, linemen trucks, cammo-covered vehicles and/or guardsmen you've seen on the streets. Other rules of thumb:
  1. Remember, no matter how many times you flick the switch, lights and appliances won't work without electricity. (Cussing doesn't activate the power either.)
  2. Have a first aid kit handy. Someone will stub a toe, crunch a finger, or a teenager may put his foot through a window.
  3. Wash all linens before the storm. You will have extra visitors.
  4. If you had Beano in your house before a storm, the following emergency preps are not a good idea: Vienna sausages, potted meat, smothered onions on the BBQ pit, pickled anything and Spam.
  5. Invest in the ridiculously expensive "no smell" shirts from a hunting show or catalog for all the boys/men you will be housing. Buy cheap t-shirts and underwear before a storm. Throw these away after use. You will not have powered washer/dryers.
  6. Recalculate your normal gas mileage based on line-sitting, traffic jams, detours, and trees fallen across roads. Double that figure. Remember to report gas stations practicing price gouging.
  7. Be prepared for an onslaught of love bugs and mosquitoes. Have insect repellent ready.
  8. You're in for a long week when LSU cancels a football game.
  9. Think of the learning opportunities for your children! Despite denial, kids can indeed relive their parents' "good old days" by having access to only two snowy television channels, being in at a reasonable hour due to mandatory city-wide curfew, visiting with "old folks," eating all of whatever's available. They can survive without fast food.
  10. Pets will feel an even bigger urge to perform their worst habits. (Form a poop patrol beforehand so you'll know who's responsible for clearing indoor pathways every few hours.)
  11. No traffic signals make Baton Rouge resemble Rome, Paris or Mexico. Remember, no one knows how to function at 4-way stops!
  12. A 5 pound bag of ice will cool a six-pack decently in 16 minutes, and still keep the precious deer meat in the freezer semi-frozen for 8 more hours.
  13. Libraries will be closed. Get books beforehand.
  14. Normal, rational people will get into any line that forms...regardless if anything is being handed out or available for purchase.
  15. Like fundraiser goodies, unhealthy items consumed during a hurricane/power outage have negative calories and are good for you.
  16. The rest of the nation's news media will ignore your state/city/town if there are no photo ops like in New Orleans after Katrina. The only thing you will see on the news outside your area is the line formed for food stamps on day 8 after the hurricane.
  17. Even political speeches are interesting if you've been without cable for long enough.
  18. "Do u hv pwr?" will be the most popular text message.
  19. Strangely, crickets, cicadas, frogs and other critters can increase their nightly noise to overcome the roar of several generators.
  20. Coffee, spaghetti, pizza, and scrambled eggs work well on the grill.
  21. No one bitches about their utility and cable bills during and immediately following a hurricane.
  22. There are a lot more stars in the sky and they are much brighter than most people think. Car headlights can blind you once your eyes have become accustomed to lots of darkness.
  23. It is okay to pray the next hurricane (like Ike) hits some other state if you've already suffered one in the past few weeks and many people in your own state are still without power.
  24. You've never thought so fondly of or prayed for first responders, health care professionals, service technicians, teachers, emergency workers, military, mom & pop businesses and big chains, some elected officials, and the thousands who've come to restore wholeness with their time and talent as you do after a hurricane.
  25. That old saying is definitely true: You don't miss the water till the well runs dry.
  26. The most important lesson of all? The human spirit has an amazing resilience that even a hurricane can't crush. People are mostly good. Through God's grace, love and mercy, we can endure all things.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here's to You!

Is there anything better than sitting across a small table from a friend while enjoying a delicious cup of your favorite coffee? (Okay, if you prefer chocolate or tea, just pretend that's what's in the cup.)
Being without my electric coffee pot before, during and six days after Hurricane Gustav, I was still able to enjoy my coffee addiction, thanks to my trusty old aluminum drip pot. It's my #1 hurricane preparation supply item.
I'm not sure if my metabolism isn't working at all, if I'm just sluggish from years of sleep deprivation, have the peculiar propensity shared by many writers, or if I have a borderline case of Attention Deficit Disorder. In any case, whatever ails me, the ground bean nectar seems to do the trick. Without a watch or clock in sight, I can tell you when it's within 5 minutes of 3:00 in the afternoon. Time for a nap or afternoon java.
Tell me about your caffeine preference and how much of it you consume per day. What's the best cup you ever had? And if you're wondering what brand I prefer, I'm a lover of our own homegrown brand -- Community Coffee and the CC's Coffeehouses dotting our city; especially their Cafe' Special. You can shop on line now too, which displaced Cajuns just love!
Hmmm, maybe I'll host a contest of some sort soon (count the coffee beans in the jar?) and send the winner a pound of that delectable blend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday Writings

Good morning, and thanks for visiting. It's a fine day to begin a blog. Here in Louisiana, we have clear skies between Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and we're hoping it stays that way for a long time!
Wednesdays, I'm going to dedicate blog posts to the business and fun of writing. No matter what genre or type you do, or even if you're a dabbler or wannabe, it's fun and inspiring to just yap about the craft. So, send me a question or post a comment, and let's chew the writing fat. If you want an extra set of eyeballs to scan a piece of something you're working on, post it!
Question o' the day: Why are you a writer? Is it therapy, a creative outlet, self-expression, fame and fortune, reaching/teaching, or just a way to stay in touch? If you're looking for a way to get those fingers moving today, you might enjoy surfing here:
Now, promise yourself you'll spend 15/30/60 minutes getting in some writing today. It's good for the soul...and it helps keep Momma sane.
Until tomorrow, write on!

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