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.

Things We Don’t Remember….

No, I’m not talking about the heartbreak of the various forms of dementia, especially as our older loved ones wither from the individuals we once knew. Nor am I referring to our joking about “Senior Moments” before it does become serious. Not long ago, I had a discussion with someone, fortunately on the telephone so my body language didn’t give me away. The individual was talking about his clear memory of not only the first time we met, but about a time a few years later as well. I have no reason to doubt him as the context all made sense and everything tracked with the sort of things I would have done and said. The are indeed other things I recall in the time we spent together – this is all on a professional basis – yet the times he vividly remembers are complete blanks for me.

Indeed, when I give my presentation on “Capturing Family Memories” to begin the process of writing a memoir, I make a point of this. Unless video and audio recordings are available, every experience is subject to personal memory and/or interpretation. This can be true whether an event occurred a short time prior or many years. In general, the longer after, the more disparate versions will be, although the significance of the experience generally does matter. In the case I am referring to, as I have mentioned in other posts, I was the “first female” in a number of positions during my Army career. Therefore, men who were not accustomed to having a woman in that position might well remember it as common with any “first”. I, however, having been through this on multiple occasions might not file the meeting away as anything particularly special. On a different note, remembering people’s names can be difficult for most people and I have almost reached the point where I’m not embarrassed to ask again when I draw a blank. I admit in a setting where business cards are likely to be available, I will sometimes smile and use the ploy of, “Do you have a card with you? I simply can’t seem to find where I put the last one.”


The Poor Bike…..

While I do know people in our age group who still run marathons and compete in the Senior Olympics, most of us don’t fall into that category. Part of the reason Medicare and other insurances have their “Silver Sneakers Program” and there are numerous exercise routines designed for we seniors, is to try and make it as easy as possible to maintain  exercise. I have a friend who is amazing with yoga. Having tried it only a few times, I can’t seem to get my head wrapped around the techniques. As I’ve mentioned in more than one post, I have struggled with my weight since my late teens. It’s both a metabolic and a lifestyle issue. All the women on my mother’s side of the family deal with the inclination to being overweight and the men don’t. There is probably some cosmic chuckle in there somewhere. Anyway, as much as I hate running, I was required to do so in the Army and it did keep my weight under control, albeit at the very edge of what was acceptable. It was truly my own fault I allowed it to “edge up”, then “shoot up” after retirement. My primary doctor has either never had a weight problem or had one and overcame it because she is this slender thing who constantly reminds me of how I can lose weight. Yes, thank you, I’m aware of all that.

Anyway, the fact is I enjoy eating and drinking and even though I have cut back on carbs, that isn’t enough to make more than incremental progress. I do faithfully exercise just to manage that much. I work out 5-6 days a week for 40 minutes. I used to walk and when I had a minor injury, the therapist suggested  a recumbent, stationary bicycle. I can’t use an ordinary bike because of my knees (a common aspect of a career in the Army). A recumbent gives the same aerobic workout with less downward pressure on the knees. And so, our poor bike has been “ridden” many miles between Hubby and I. The gears began slipping several weeks ago and it reached the point of a replacement being necessary. The new one is to be delivered today. I just hope it doesn’t have all kinds of electronic functions I have to learn.

Sometimes, It’s The Little Things….

When we remodeled the kitchen a few years ago and replaced most of the public spaces’ tile with engineered bamboo, I took advantage of all the mess and cleared out a number of things we no longer needed. I think I remarked at the time how our frequent moves during our military careers kept us from over-accumulating, but with finally being settled, the inclination to let something sit rather than re-purpose or dispose of did take hold. I think I also explained how we weren’t able to increase the square footage exactly, but did gain some needed cabinetry and a larger pantry through a couple of clever design changes. We have had an overhead pot rack for many years that has seen more than one house.  I had also wanted one of the pot stands, but when we did the kitchen, the other two items I wanted were a pie safe and a wine cabinet. Again, with only so much room, those two items won out.

Week before last, for some reason, I made a comment to my husband about wishing we’d been able to fit a pot stand in. I guess I hadn’t previously mentioned it because he pointed to a spot and said he was sure he could find one a little smaller than what I originally had in mind. It didn’t take him long and while it was smaller, it would work. For reasons that aren’t important, I only had two pieces left of the original Le Crueset set and they were stored in a drawer. He ordered the stand and it fit right in as if we’d planned it. I was going to head to the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but Hubby suggested we go up to The Falls, a nice shopping center we hadn’t been to in quite some time. They have a William Sonoma, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales. They also have a PF Chaing which made for a nice day. In wandering around William and Sonoma, I suddenly remembered we have two cobalt blue enamel colanders we keep in a cabinet with the strainers. So, two pieces of new cookware later, and a lovely lunch, plus a quick stop for a few things at Fresh Market and back home we came. My original pieces are the traditional “Flame” and I wanted to have a color mix. I am very happy with the end result. That’s a deep dish pie dish on the bottom. In all fairness, I’ll be making hubby an apple pie soon.