Things Do Have To Give At Times….

Ah, there are often “ripple effects” that impact our plans and November is a prime example. The big scuba trade show is held in Orlando every other year and we always go. It’s a great time to meet up with people we sometimes only see there, attend interesting seminars, enjoy Orlando restaurants, and we often add on a day or two to do something at either Disney or Universal. We were all set to make our reservations when Hubby realized they changed the dates by a week this year for reasons that I don’t know. That put it in direct conflict with the NASCAR Championship Week. Aside from the fact Hubby loves to cover this, NASCAR has decided to rotate the Championship in the same way as other major sports. This will be the last time it’s held in Homestead for the foreseeable future since there are 22 other tracks where NASCAR runs. Therefore, there was no way the scuba show could have a higher priority. We’ll put out a Facebook post soon to let all our dive buddies know we won’t be around this year.

Next up are Thanksgiving plans. Our tradition is to go to Covington to see Hubby’s family. The ripple effect this time is going to be availability of that group due to some medical issues (nothing life-threatening) and other travel plans. I’m still trying to get a handle on all that. There are also multiple events here in November, some of which are overlapping although most just require some tricky scheduling.

Lastly is my anticipated publishing of, “Small Town Quilting Treasures”, the final of four books in the series. The editor had some events occur which delayed that process and it is highly questionable if I can do a Thanksgiving release. I didn’t have my heart set on that one, so I will simply adjust to whatever makes sense once I know what all has to be done with the manuscript.

Electronic Gremlins….

As I have previously posted, many of us have become so accustomed and at least somewhat dependent on electronics today, we have to change our patterns when problems arise. My poor laptop was having issues which of course merely worsened as the days went by. Taking it into the “Geeks”, however, meant leaving it, and that of course meant selecting which files to back up. As an aside, I do have an on-line backup service, but that’s for this computer, not the travel one I would be temporarily using. Okay, I finally get the laptop in, then discover I’m having a connectivity issue with my travel computer which was fine mere weeks ago as I traveled. After the usual burst of loud profanity on my part, Hubby came over and managed to get me connected. Fortunately, my laptop required only a short stay with the Geeks. All seems to be well now and I’ll wait couple of weeks to take the other one in. There appears to be a problem with a driver of some sort and I have now exhausted my technical knowledge.

Okay, so we’ve been waiting for the arrival of the DVD of season five of the TV show Shetland (great show I think I posted about before). Hubby goes to remove the DVD in the player and can’t. He messes with it for a while and determines no amount of effort will prevail. I suggested we go upstairs to the small TV and he countered with using the one in the master instead. I did point out we hadn’t used it in probably five years and I doubted it still worked. I was correct, and by that stage we were getting close to my regular bedtime. Episodes of Shetland are complicated and there are the Scottish accents to follow; not something to do when I’m not at least somewhat fresh. Hubby will go in search of new DVD player/players today, and no, we haven’t signed on to any of the streaming services yet.

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

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.