Sunday, December 11, 2011

Conquering the Chaos

We have been working on our house nonstop since last Thursday to get it ready for market. I am TIRED. My arm is sore from scrubbing the oven, scrubbing scuff marks off the stairs, and scrubbing blinds. Paint has freckled my hands (permanently, I fear) and a big blob ended up on my favorite jeans. Why did I wear those even after I said to myself "Now don't wear these, you'll get paint on them!"? I'm so mad at myself. No matter how careful I say I'm going to be with paint, it always ends up in places it shouldn't.

Moving on, the curling wallpaper is glued down, windows are washed, the ceiling fan blades are dust-free, and the window sills are painted. A carload of my son's belongings were moved to his dad's storage space, and the smelly dog toys are in the trash. The listing for our house goes "live" tomorrow and I still have 2 more bathrooms to scrub, doors to clean, and more touch-up painting. I'm starting to think we may never get it all done and it is going to have to be okay if we don't. We have three family gatherings to host and church and work, so I'm about to put this thing on cruise control and coast, cher.

I met my favorite girlfriends for dinner last week. When I see their faces I light up because I know we are in for lots of laughs and sharing and dog talk. Friends that allow you to be who you are and accept the less-than-perfect you are rare, and I am so grateful that we are friends, journeying through this life together.

I was presented with a beautiful heart necklace, a book called "Joys of Friendship", and a card that says "Your strength may surprise you". Wow, I totally did not expect any of it. The necklace says "A True Friend Reaches For Your Hand But Touches Your Heart". Awww! I was a bit overcome, I could hardly express myself properly.

I've known these girls since my days at the animal emergency clinic 10 years ago. I was a newcomer to animal medicine, green behind the ears with a weak stomach.  These two girls helped me through countless nights of frantic "parents", dying animals, irresponsible animal owners, smells, vomit, and doctor idiosyncrasies. I honestly don't know if I would have lasted as long as I did without their expertise and guidance.

Even though we no longer work together we continue to have our girls night once a month or whenever our schedules permit. I'm going to miss them so much, for our bonds have grown beyond animal medicine; laughing and crying and sharing personal heartaches. It is not uncommon to have 3 hour dinners and try to solve the world's problems over margaritas, or lately, ice tea. :) Missing them already....

Hope everyone is preparing hearts, minds, and homes to receive the true gifts of the season. Peace and blessings to you all!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Even though I still have 27 days left before I leave my job I packed up my office today, managing to fit all the items neatly into an Office Depot paper box. I sat and stared at that box for quite some time wondering where 23 years had gone. There was the autographed picture of Patrick Rafter that my boss had so generously given to me one Christmas, proud that he had won the bid on eBay; family photos; a ceramic heart my daughter made for me; a Wimbledon teddy bear also from my daughter that she had brought all the way from England; a Norwegian vase from my boss' wife; a wooden cross from Israel. All these treasures will now call another place home.

When I returned to my desk my computer had fallen asleep and was scrolling the words I'LL BE BACK. It seemed wrong to leave it that way, so I changed the marquee to LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULER! (Let the good times roll!), leaving a little piece of my Cajun personality behind, I suppose.

Other than antsy-ness I am feeling so relaxed about things, concerned that I'm a little too relaxed. This is so unlike me, worrier extraordinaire that I am. I'm also famous (or infamous) for being high-strung, emotional. I feel none of that. What is happening? Can it be that God has answered my prayers for peace and to "know" when the time is right to make a move? Yes, that is my belief and I am sticking with it. So, 'thank you, God'.

I've been looking online at smaller, older homes in my mother's neighborhood. The area is very woodsy and settled and conveniently located to everything we might need. I was happy to see that many homes in our price point have wood or laminate flooring. That is a must-have, especially with three dogs. The lots are much larger than the little postage stamp lots in Dallas. With trees. Lots and lots of trees and tropical plants. I am going to be able to breathe for the first time in a long time and not have neighbors right on top of me.

In other news boy-wonder became part of the Occupy L.A. movement (to my dismay) and is now incarcerated. His phone has been disconnected for a couple of weeks now (for failure to pay, I'm assuming). He did not call me or my parents or his dad with his one phone call. We found his booking information online. I'm not surprised by any of it to be honest. My most recent prayers have been for him to have shelter and food and safety. Well, he has that in jail, so in a way my prayers are being answered.

If I sound rather detached, it's because I am--but only by necessity. I haven't stopped loving him and my heart is heavy, but I have stopped enabling, stopped letting every destructive decision he makes bring me down. It took me a long time to get here, to realize that HE is making these decisions and that I cannot rescue him anymore. At 31 years old it's way past time for him to straighten up and fly right.

A heart can only sustain so many traumas, so many cracks, so many aches, then it starts to toughen up or risk dying. Besides, I have my mother and her needs to think about now. Here she is battling a disease that she did not choose. It's right and fitting to suffer for your own poor choices, but quite the opposite when you are a victim of something you did nothing to bring on yourself. My greatest desire is to make my mom's last years as comfortable as possible. Pouring my efforts into this scenario is much better use of my time and talents. Can I get an amen? :)

P.S. This is Patrick Rafter, former #1 tennis player (be still my heart!).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Guaranteed gratitude or receive a refund!

I wasn't going to post anything today but this evening I was catching up on my blog reading and became inspired by all the "Gratitude" posts. Realizing that even though my family is scattered and our future is so uncertain, my heart is filled with joy despite the whirlwind around us.

I was fortunate enough to stumble on this youtube video by Louie Schwartzberg of TEDxSF which was posted on cottage 960's blog. It's almost 10 minutes long, but so captivating and inspiring, I just had to borrow it. And if you don't have time to look at it now, bookmark it for later. I promise you will be uplifted. Guaranteed or your money back! :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God Bless Double D

It's 4AM and I can't sleep.

Isn't that a song lyric?

I had started a post a couple of days ago but that has been scrapped. What a difference a day makes.

My mom's doctor advised that she needs more assistance than Independent Living will provide. The next level of care is too costly for her comfort zone, eating up all of her monthly income.

Double D graciously suggested I move to Baton Rouge to be with her. He will stay behind until we can sell the house. My mom is thrilled. And relieved.

I resigned from the tennis association as web site director and tendered my resignation to my company today. My bosses were super supportive, caring, and understanding. The best part is that I can still do some work remotely for my main boss, and for that I feel incredibly blessed and grateful.

Hopefully I'll get some awesome bayou photos to add to my portfolio along with a variety of birds native to the area. Another positive is visiting more often with my crazy dad, his lovely wife, and the rest of my immediate family. Daddy and I have talked about going fishing once I get settled. Doesn't that sound nice?

Yes, I think this is exactly what was supposed to happen, at the exact time that it was supposed to happen. I feel such an immense sense of relief.

Double D is an amazing man. I adore him with all my heart. He has taught me so much about patience and kindness and unconditional love. Christ's love truly emanates from the center of his being. Love is patient, love is is not self-seeking....(1 Cor 13).

May God bless Double D for this enormous sacrifice!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Taste of Louisiana

Below are a few photos I captured while zipping around Baton Rouge and surrounding areas the week of 11/1/11. Sadly, some of the previous years' hurricanes have wreaked havoc on many of the trees in my beautiful state. Many were uprooted or beat to a pulp. Boo to Katrina and Gustav and Ike. You were not welcome and we curse thee.

Magnolia Mound Plantation
Baton Rouge, LA
Found floating inside a rusty basin at Magnolia Mound Plantation.
The caretakers assured me it was not real.
My first spotting of a Belted Kingfisher. Had to crop this down significantly which results in a less than stellar photo; wish I could have gotten closer.
Watson, Louisiana
An old kettle in my godfather's back yard. We had many a crawfish boil in this kettle when I was a girl.
My godfather's property is on a hill that backs up to a lake which is why there is a slope. This ferocious little dog is his neighbor. Each time I took a step toward him he retreated backwards, barking all the while.
"Don't come any closer! I MEAN IT!"
"Oh, I guess she doesn't mean any harm."
This was the above attacker's sidekick.
I named him Barney Fife.
St. Gabriel Cemetery ~ St. Gabriel, LA
My Uncle Bobby tells me this cross has been black since he was an altar boy in the 1950s, probably to represent death. All the priests in those days wore black vestments at funeral masses.
There's something about these crypts from the 1700s and 1800s that I'm drawn to. 

No visit to Baton Rouge is complete without photographing this unusual tree wart.
I think I pronounced his name Boudreaux last time I saw him.
The rest of these birds I found right outside my mother's apartment:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Goodbye, Normandy Village

My mother will be leaving her home of over 30 years to start a new chapter of her life. Rather than go into all the minutiae, let me just tell you that she is out of the hospital and has no lasting effects from the stroke.

Two doctors confirmed that she is in the advanced stages of Parkinson's Disease and that she should not be living alone. She had fallen a few days before her mini-stroke and admitted to me that she had fallen several other times in the past, as well as hallucinating some days, and recently waking up from a daze to find her cache of pills strewn all over the living room floor with no knowledge of what took place.


With two referrals in hand for a nearby senior community off I went early Monday morning. A sweet, energetic tour guide named Karen, excitedly showed off all the amenities. It felt like I was sending my mother to kindergarten. I was thinking how I'd go back and say "Oh, mama, you'll absolutely love the LSU room. Wait til you see all the beautiful LSU wreaths the residents made for their doors!"

This current role of caregiver to my independent mother (think Mary Tyler Moore) is new and strange and jarring. It is one of the drawbacks of being an only child. I'm on deck for every little decision, responsible for it all. With three of her brothers and a sister looking on, I cannot fail. There's no one else to point to if something goes wrong.

Mama was super stoked to go visit the facility so back out to the home we went. Karen was gracious enough to do the tour all over again even though I had just left her 30 minutes prior. As we walked toward the unit that my mom might soon call home, we ran into a group of very well dressed, manicured ladies who stopped to chat. One lady decked out in purple and gold said, "How 'bout those players Saturday night? I wanted to give each one of those boys a great big kiss!" (#1 LSU had played #2 Alabama, with LSU the victor.)

As we walked away Karen whispered, "That was Les Miles' mom."

Les Miles is the head coach of the LSU Tigers.

You should have seen my mom's face! Her eyes were huge and she was literally beaming.

I said, "Well, if this place is good enough for Les Miles' mom, it's good enough for my mom!"

So there we are. Once the paperwork is in place I will go back and help her pack for her exciting new adventure.

At this moment I want to give all my special blogging friends a great big hug! I was so busy and so distraught that I hardly noticed being without a computer for seven days. But as I was waiting on my flight I thought of all the blog reading that I normally enjoy each day and I was suddenly missing you all terribly, wondering what you had been up to. Obviously I can't go back and catch up on every single post, but I will do my best as time allows to get caught up with all of you. I truly MISSED YOU!

These flowers are for you. My uncle, whom I refer to as "The Godfather", picked them himself. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cajun country update

A quick update from my iPhone. My mom had a mini-stroke during my visit so I am detained in Baton Rouge for at least a couple extra days. Fortunately the episode did not leave any lasting effects. Please keep us in your prayers.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What's going on...

After reading the post title were you suddenly humming that Marvin Gaye song?

My youngest boy made 3 CDs for me last Sunday: Dr. Dog, Wolf People, and Citizen Cope. I know! Strange names, huh? Turns out I really, really like Citizen Cope. My boy knows me well. Very bluesy, soulful, and relaxing. Just what I needed. Michael is so very thoughtful and I love his sweet spirit.

It's been almost 3 weeks since boy-wonder took off for California. The frequency of phone calls, texts, and emails have increased exponentially, with the communication being mostly positive; however, he does have a cold. Despite his illness and no place to really call home he sounds happier than ever.

Last Thursday Double D and I celebrated 21 years of marriage. It was nice to receive texts and emails from most of our kids as well as my daughter's two friends. I can honestly say I love Double D more than ever and I'm so glad that God put us together.

My daughter texted this photo of severed fingers that she baked for a Halloween party on Saturday. My girl is so talented with such a fun spirit! Her visit in December can't get here fast enough. I will not even think about how fleeting those 3 days will be...

Yesterday Jay, texted me these photos. I had been begging the kids to go to the Japanese Gardens in Portland to get me a photo of this Japanese Maple ever since I saw a photo of it on 500px. My mouth dropped open in amazement. It takes my breath away. Don't you agree?

Although I can't compete with Jay's photos, here are the pics I took on Saturday. The rose garden was beckoning me again. It's so relaxing out there with the delicate scent of roses wafting over me and birds happily chirping. It's my non-medicated approach to dealing with stress. I highly recommend communing with nature on some level.

I am leaving for Baton Rouge tomorrow morning. My mother wants us to have quality "girl time" together, getting our nails done and shopping. No doctor visits or unpleasant appointments. Yay! Oh, and my parents--who have had a frosty relationship since their divorce over 40 years ago--are now on friendly terms. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that although my worlds collided a la George Costanza, it also has its advantages. One of them will be eating lunch together on Thursday like a real family. And BOTH of my parents are looking forward to it. I'm standing in the middle of it all going, "What the heck just happened?!"  LOL  I'm joking. But it is a little weird. Good-weird, I guess. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fair Time!

All week long we looked forward to the State Fair of Texas. As we boarded the train I was all set to read the new book I had downloaded on my Kindle when hubby uncharacteristically morphed into Chatty Charles. Not wanting to ruin the happy mood, I politely responded to the first 12 interruptions. After that I became engrossed in the book so he pulled out his iPhone and began obsessively checking the score of the LSU/Tennessee game. Technology to the rescue!

1986 was the last time I went to the fair, and now I remember why. Crowded places leave me feeling claustrophobic and nervous. And grumpy. Every single time I stood in line to eat some god-awful fried thing, someone got right in front of me as if I was invisible. Hubby encouraged me to be bold and stand my ground. He wanted me to muscle my way in. I angrily complained that I was taught to stand in line and wait my turn - all said loud enough for the offender to hear, I hoped. I'm a rule-follower, what can I say? 

In retrospect, maybe God was telling me to stay away from the food. Everything was fried--even the drinks! I kid you not. There was a fried frozen margarita! What the what? Not my beloved margarita! We're a pretty conventional couple so we stuck with the tried and true: corny dogs, frito pie, funnel cake, praline fried sweet potato poppers, and corn on the cob. 

Burp! Oh, excuse me, I think my tummy is still rebelling. 

Double D drooling over the Camaro. He was wearing his LSU tee shirt and Texas Ranger ball cap. During the parade a clown pointed out that he was mismatched, laughing at him. A clown with abnormally large feet, a flower protruding from his cap, and a red bulb nose thought Double D looked funny. Ha!
Somehow, horrible food and rides like this seem like risky business.
Am I the only one who worries about being vomited on at the fair?
My neuroses know no bounds.
The line was unbelievably long for the ferris wheel.
I was too tired and grumpy to wait.
Pumpkin art by Farmer Mike Valladao - also known as the
The Picasso of Pumpkin Carvers

Birds of the World Exhibit
Hyacinth Macaw

Does anyone know what kind of owl this is? 
Trainer: Did you fart?
Owl: Yes. I'm sorry. I guess I shouldn't have had the fried birdseed.
Golden Eagle

Small Postman
Owl Butterfly 
Look at all the people! I think their main objective was to aggravate me.
Iconic Big Tex

Overall it was a fun experience despite some of the annoyances. However, if the length of time between visits remains consistent, I will be 75 years old by the time I'm ready to go back. I can't even imagine myself at that age.

Do you enjoy going to the State Fair? I'm very curious to know what you all think about it.