About The Saints Football Team….

As I have previously posted, Hubby is the big football fan,but I’ve come to appreciate it more since watching with him. However, being in a traditionally male career included understanding enough about football to “join in” during social events that included watching a game. Also, when one grows up with a hometown/home state team, there is often a certain degree of fondness. I do believe I may have indeed posted about the Saints several years ago. New Orleans is a great place to visit and I did set “Georgina’s Grief” there and it does feature in some chapters in the upcoming, “Small Town Quilting Treasures.”

The team, though, does not have a long history of being a winning team. There was a time when faithful, yet sparse fans donned paper bags with “Ain’ts” written on them rather than Saints. On the other hand, New Orleans is a party city and partying in consolation works almost as well as celebration. They once hired a well-known coach to try and turn the team around. I knew it would not be a good fit because from my perspective, the individual simply didn’t have a compatible attitude with the fans. He was a good coach, by the way; just not the right one for New Orleans. Then along came the current coach and Drew Brees. I always find it fascinating when one or two individuals can have such a tremendous impact. There are those though who can definitely, “bring out the best” in people, or in this case, a team. Don’t get me wrong, there were other players and staff brought in to build on success, yet the real catalyst was Brees. Now, there is the other notable individual – Teddy Bridgewater – who’s stepped in when Brees was injured in only the second game. For people who knew his background, his superb performance is perhaps not too much of a surprise. For the rest of us, it has been. More importantly, the entire team seems to have stepped forward to prove they do not depend only on Brees. They won again yesterday on the road and have in fact won every game since Brees’s injury. Will it carry them through? Hard to say, but at least for now, they are on a roll.

Business Can Be Tough….

You often don’t know why a small business fails, but there are numerous reasons. We learned yesterday a specialty shop we really liked in the Keys closed. Granted, we hadn’t been in quite some time; essentially due to not being convenient from a distance perspective. Perhaps the closure was only due to poor sales, or there could have been other factors. In another case, a pub we enjoy is changing hands with a different format planned and we’ll see if it continues to be a favorite or if it goes in a direction we don’t care for. This is a place people flocked to at the grand opening, talked about how wonderful it was to have this type of place to go to and then within months, they were down to limited clientele enough nights to be cost-effective. The simple fact is people do only have so much disposable income and both the instances I cited are not necessities of life. Even though Americans spend a tremendous amount of money eating out, there are lots of choices. And, as this area grows, more restaurants open to create greater competition. That’s one of the most difficult businesses to manage under the best of circumstances. Staring any business comes with so many challenges, yet it is a dream of millions and despite the trillions of dollars of the huge corporations, small businesses really are the “backbone” of most communities. I’ve mentioned before in other posts, individuals and families who have to count literally every penny must take the cost of anything into consideration. The extra spent to buy from a small business may come with not being able to buy something else that is needed. For those of us who do have discretionary income, it is an action we can take to help those taking the risk to achieve their dream

More Unique Talent…..

As our Seminole Theatre enters the new season, the original director has gone on to greater things. That was to be expected at his age. He was immensely popular and the woman who was his assistant from almost the beginning and who has held multiple positions within the small staff is now director. They had worked together prior to his departure to select what is called the Showcase Series. Those are the major performances locked in for Oct-May, one or two which are well-known and also the most expensive. This year’s “big group”  is Asleep at the Wheel. Anyway, the others are a continuing search for a range of options to appeal to different audiences. Last night was Shana Tucker – Chambersoul Chronicles, a singer/songwriter who does jazz with a cello. That did catch people’s attention and she added to it by collaborating with a nearby community’s children’s group to incorporate them into a couple of numbers. It was a thoroughly enjoyable performance. She has a wonderful voice, engaging stage presence, and the children were quite talented. Unlike what I had thought, she opened the show and a few numbers later had the members of the Children’s Voice Chorus begin to sing from the back of the theatre and then come on stage for more.

As for the cello, she did use the bow, but played it more like a bass with plucking. In yet another unique aspect, she had some sort of synthesizer for one number where she literally recorded what she was singing, put it through to become just as if she had backup singers; all done flawlessly (at least to my ears). I don’t know how that technology works; only that it had a great sound.

Her background and the many musical/artistic endeavors she is involved with make for fascinating reading. That’s www.shanatucker.com

Two Sides of Self-Publishing……

A degree of musing is ahead. As with most things in life, there are two sides to a coin, and that most assuredly applies to the world of self-publishing. The politically correct term is “independent publishing” with “being an indie author” as the casual phrase. If, for some reason, this is your first time to visit the “Cafe”, what I’m going to say may sound a bit blunt. For those who know me and/or have been following for a while, you’ll understand my context.

Advances in technology are what have made self-publishing economically feasible for hundreds of thousands of writers. As I’ve said on a number of occasions,my decision to self-publish was not necessarily a bad decision, but it was not a fully informed decision either. There were some things I thought I understood and other aspects I simply didn’t know about. I’m always happy to talk with someone contemplating the choice. I have a paper I drew up several years ago and I update it periodically as changes occur in the industry. As those who know me are also aware, my social media ability is modest and I lack expertise beyond the fundamentals. A friend who is a marketing whiz set me up with Twitter as a “must” within social media. Several months ago, an individual set out on a campaign to increase the Indie Writer Community and the response has been pretty astonishing from my perspective. Thousands of writers have reached out and my own following has indeed increased. That, however, is not so much the point. The thing is, I made a conscious decision to buy and read (or try to read) more indie authors along with other selections. In having been at this for a few months, I’ve found some books I enjoy and others I’m neutral about. There have been several I simply couldn’t manage beyond a chapter or two and have literally deleted multiple books from my Kindle. They were either so poorly written or the subject matter was such that I didn’t want to continue. I have had the same response though with “best sellers” and books traditionally published.

There are few reasons I would discourage someone from writing a book and self-publishing as an option. On the other hand, quality is still key no matter what path is taken.

Catching Up From Trip…..

Although I was able to handle some things while on travel, others had to wait and those were indeed waiting for my return. Not surprisingly, there were other tasks added in and I am trying to wiggle out of one. That, however, will be the only one I can potentially manage. At any rate, this is all normal. Events this evening and Monday and maybe Tues following events Thursday and yesterday and we’ll see about the rest of next week.

Notwithstanding the special regional treats I have while traveling and the limited number of days I was able to walk (but did get some in), I will be eating quite a bit of salad over the next week or so to try and re-balance myself. Due to an unexpected scheduling conflict, we will have to miss the big dive trade show next month in Orlando this year. That’s too bad as we both enjoy it and see people we haven’t seen for some time, but it can’t be helped. We’re not clear as to why they moved the show by a week deeper into November and hope that’s not the pattern for the future. We’ll see. There was talk a couple of years ago about adding New Orleans into the usual rotation of Orlando and Las vegas. If that does happen, it could impact when I do my annual trip to Louisiana.

On the writing front, Small Town Quilting Treasures is with the editor and once I have that back, I’ll have a better idea as to if publishing at Thanksgiving will work or if I’ll need to slide to the first of the new year. Depending on some other factors, I may also look into the audible option for some of my books. The one time I tried in the past was a miserable failure at a lost cost which has understandably made me less eager to try another route.

Trip, Day 8….

So today is it; Daddy’s 95th birthday. I’ll visit with him until mid-afternoon, then head over to Bossier where I’ll have dinner with the other old high school friend as the final planned meeting that has become our tradition. The 3:00 a.m. wake-up tomorrow to get to the airport on time for the 5:00 a.m. flight will keep the wine consumption down.

Anyway, if Daddy wants catfish again for lunch, I’ll run out for it and then my step-siblings are coming around 5:00 with cupcakes and ice cream cups for everyone to celebrate. My sister and brother will make trips to see him later in the year. As I have mentioned previously, the assisted living facility where he is has the basics, but is small at only 26 rooms. The staff is friendly and seems to do well with the residents and in seeing many of the same faces over the years there also seems to be a nice level of stability (among the staff). My father’s short term memory problem means he can no longer enjoy reading; something he did for most of his adult life. While he does have limited vision in one eye, the real problem is unless it’s a short article, he can’t recall what he read. He does still watch some television, but mostly plays the afternoon games of different forms of bingo and sits either on the front porch or at one of the front windows in the airy lobby. With 90-plus degrees, sitting outside for long doesn’t work well. There is a fair flow of people coming and going, which allows for a social aspect.

Trip, Day 7…..

The trip up was easy and uneventful, passing old familiar landmarks. There aren’t many motel choices in Minden and I waited too long to book the “nicest one”, but I like the alternative. There are also limited dining options, especially for someone alone and not needing to take leftovers. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, they did finally allow liquor by the drink although based on what I’ve seen, there may not be package stores. Those are in the adjoining town; a short drive to the west.

Interestingly, quite a few years ago, the gas station/food mart next to the motel where I mostly stay included a small café (no beer and wine) with food that quickly gained them a reputation. While they do have some packaged “grab and go” items, everything else is made to order and the menu has quite a variety of burgers and sandwiches, to include gator. Aside from the fact I can get gator in Homestead, it really isn’t something I am overly fond of. I am a bit surprised they don’t have catfish at this place, but I’ll be going to the traditional spot for that today for take-out for Daddy’s “treat lunch”. Anyway, the point is, this place is about more than good food. It’s friendly service and people who apologize when there are delays – which they try to keep to a minimum. I am only here a few days each year so perhaps they have “slumps” I’ve simply never observed. On the other hand, there was the year I was here four times and it was the same. I did indulge my “spicy taste” with the jalapeno burger last night and they were liberal with the peppers. As it turns out, my friend who would have made for my “seventh” meeting isn’t available tonight so I might stop in at the Italian place. That’s the one where they converted an old bank and the building is charming.

Trip, Day 6…..

Segment two, three and four of the trip are completed; five and six yet to come – may possibly squeeze in a seventh. Yesterday was pleasant although hot. Mariners on Sibley Lake continues to be a favorite spot for brunch and when you pick an early enough time, a table by the window is usually available. I have now had my next to last culinary “must” of Natchitoches mini-meat pies and they were as delicious as always. The prime restaurant for them wasn’t open on Sunday, but most everyone does well with them. My friends are doing fine and have a couple of nice trips planned for next year to include their first time to Paris. I’ll send some tips later as well as the link to the Paris card where they can get museum and Metro passes combined.

My aunt and cousins are also doing well; three of them came by for a visit and we all got caught up on everything. My aunt is adapting to her need to slow down and the massive pine tree in front of the house did have to come down since my last visit. By the time they carefully removed it and extricated all the roots, there was speculation a pool was going in. Not that it would make sense in that spot, but apparently it was a quite a large hole. The house – originally purchased by my grandparents – has been updated somewhat over the years, yet the welcoming front porch and much of the floor plan are still the same. The drive up to Minden was easy enough and I head out in a few minutes to go see how Daddy is doing. Not sure if will be meeting with another old friend either this evening or tomorrow; we’re trying to see if schedules will sync.

Trip, Day 5…..

As I have mentioned in the past, Natchitoches is the town in Louisiana where I lived the longest – 4th grade through college. Daddy was transferred to Minden (1.5 hours north) during my senior year of college. In leaving after graduation to go into the Army, I did not return for 20 years. It was, in fact, a high school reunion that coincided with our travels that brought me back into the “circle” of the three women I knew best in high school and college. I did use parts of Natchitoches in the creation of the fictional town of Wallington, Georgia for the “Small Town” quilting series. Aside from it being the oldest town in Louisiana (contrary to what some people believe about New Orleans), its modern recognition comes from Hollywood. That is the “Horse Soldiers” for the 1940s folks and “Steel Magnolias” for later generations.

Anyway, unlike so many towns that struggle with downtown revitalization, they have succeeded mostly by becoming a city of different festivals. The “Christmas Lights” – again made famous in the movie – had always been a draw and attendance literally exploded after the movie became so popular. Subsequently, the idea for even more festivals took hold and I’ve lost count of how many they have now. Like everywhere that does this, parking has become an issue, but there’s not much way around that. There is a charming art gallery and it’s another place where artists can choose to work in the store in exchange for exhibit space. The woman on duty yesterday also happened to have some notecards she and her husband had done. Since we don’t need more pieces of art at home, I always buy cards. Granted, the artist doesn’t make much, but it is a level of support.

Lunch with friends yesterday was in another fairly new place and the friend crawfish atop salad was good. Brunch is later today with other friends, then I will probably be off the grid until late Monday afternoon.

Trip Day 4…..

In general I like to be at an airport 2 hours before a flight. I prefer to sit and relax as I most often have access to some kind of lounge. In the days before that, I would simply take my time strolling about and having a sit-down meal. When I came through the Springfield Regional Airport, I noticed there wasn’t much in the way of amenities (just as there isn’t in Shreveport). I therefore told my friend I didn’t need to be at the airport until 12:15 or 12:30. We actually arrived closer to 12:40, but that was still okay for me to get through check-in, security, have a quick bite and an adult beverage. Or so I thought. Now, in all fairness, it is possible this was a day where every single point was unexpectedly short-staffed; that can happen. And in all fairness, when one books an afternoon flight, there are likely to be more people checking in and I didn’t check in on line. With that said, it was the worst experience I’ve had. While there were two points through security there was only one TSA agent checking IDs, so there’s a bottleneck. The single bar and place to have food was jammed and definitely understaffed. I didn’t realize at first, you had to go order in the food area, get a number, then they would bring the food. That isn’t unusual, except it was quite obvious the process wasn’t moving quickly and by the time I finally got a beverage, there seemed little chance of making food happen. I had a fairly tight connection in Dallas, but since both planes were “puddle jumpers”, I properly calculated I wouldn’t have to change terminals. There was a BBQ spot close to my gate and although the selection was limited, it was okay.

I’m not going to get into the annoyance of the rental vehicle I have and traffic from the airport was lighter than expected. There is a Texas Roadhouse next to the hotel for my first stay (part of why I booked there). It was very crowded, however, there was a seat at the bar. They were staffed as well as they could be and quite professional. I did order a larger size steak than usual.