Sunday, September 9, 2012

Everyone Has a Story

True stories. Told Live.

That's the motto of The Moth, a non-profit organization based in New York with the mission of preserving the art of storytelling. Engaging, well-crafted stories from around the world. True stories.

The older I get, the more I realize that everyone has a story. There are people we encounter in our daily lives that we don't give a second thought. It's almost like they're invisible. I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to seeing through people who don't seem to have a significance in my own life. Yet, more and more I learn that a few words, even the briefest of interchanges, can reveal the most incredible stories. It's like peeling an onion, and as the layers are peeled back, stories of pain, stories of happiness, stories of triumph begin to unfold. And so many of the stories are worth hearing and contemplating. Worth learning from. Worth admiring. Worth sharing.

One of the stories began to unfold four years ago at Methodist Rehab. As a mother, I was so hyper-focused on Nicole and her recovery, that I really didn't give the "peripheral" people much thought. I knew her therapists' and doctors' names as those people were vitally important to what was going on in Nicole's life. What I didn't give much thought to was who the young woman carrying a camera was, and why she showed up whenever the media was there to do stories on Nicole. I learned her name was Talamieka, but that's about all I knew about her. Or all I cared to know at the time. I never dreamed that quiet, unassuming young woman would be someone I'd admire and love as much as I do today.

Talamieka's story is significant. From a small town in Mississippi, she attended Jackson State University where she majored in graphic design. While there, she met the love of her life, Charles Brice, who was also a graphic design major. They became rivals of sorts, but they were also each other's most avid cheerleader. Like many students, Charles joined the military to help pay for college. As their love grew, Charles' involvement in the Army grew too, and eventually, his unit was deployed to Afghanistan. A quick trip to the Justice of the Peace, and the two were married before he shipped off.

While Nicole was going through the fight of her life at Methodist Rehab, learning to walk again, Talamieka was going through her own personal struggles, dealing with the unknown and wondering if Charles would return home safely. She went home to an empty bed each night and went to church each Sunday with an empty spot on the pew beside her. And all the while I had no idea. Because I didn't take the time to know her story.

After Nicole's discharge from Methodist Rehab, Charles returned home. Nicole got to know both of them better, and they became fast friends. A wedding was planned, where Charles and Talamieka could really celebrate their marriage and Nicole was included as a guest. Over time, Larry and I got to know the young couple and see how pure their hearts were. At first, we loved them because they loved Nicole. But it didn't take long to love them because of the awesome people they are.

Last night, I had the honor of attending the opening reception of "Combat Boots and High Heels," a combined effort that tells both Charles' side of the story of his deployment, and Talamieka's struggles at home. It's a poignant look at their emotional journey, and from the very beginning, it tells the story of their relationship to art and to each other. As Talamieka said, it was an opportunity for them to unpack all the emotions they've had bottled up for so long, and to move on the next chapter in their lives.

Also attending the event was Diane Williams, my favorite story teller of all time! She has spent a lifetime collecting, preserving and telling stories to thousands of people across the country and around the world. Each time I see her I'm reminded about the importance of storytelling.

Just last week, I attended the opening of this season's Millsaps Arts and Lecture Series which featured an Irish storyteller/singer named Mairtin de Cogain. I could have listened to his stories all night.

I'm scheduled to attend a writer's workshop later this month at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale. It's a Creative Non-Fiction writing workshop, meaning that I'll learn more about writing TRUE stories, creatively. The story I'm working on is the book about Nicole's accident. I've been working on it for awhile now, and it's taken a new turn: Nicole's perspective will be worked into the book.

So, this morning, I was sippin' on my coffee, thinking about the wonderful exhibit I saw last night, and thinking about the Brice's story, when there was a story on CBS Sunday Morning about stories. They mentioned The Moth, which I discovered while listening to XM Radio in my car. And it reminded me, once again, that everyone has a story. I encourage you to really listen to the people you encounter on a daily basis, and you may be truly amazed at the stories they have to share.

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I love blogs.

I love blogs.

Since my new obsession with Pinterest, I've discovered more blogs than I can read in a lifetime.
Creative blogs. Entertaining blogs. Informative blogs. Witty blogs. Pithy blogs. Ridiculous blogs.

So why do I have a blog? That's an especially poignant question, considering I haven't posted since mid-June.

I began this blog out of a need to write. I had been writing for a year and a half, pretty much every day, on Nicole's Caring Bridge site. Carol Terry, my BFF and Nicole's godmother, set up the Caring Bridge for us, while I was still in route from Jackson to New York one year ago today. I wrote the "My Story"section on August 31, 2008.

Today is four years since Nicole fell off the roof of her apartment building in New York. Today is four years since our lives changed dramatically. Today is a day to celebrate Nicole's life!

In four years, we've met countless new friends. I can't imagine not having them in our lives. So does that mean I am glad Nicole had an accident, because we've met some really wonderful folks we would not have met otherwise?

Of course not!

The reality is that bad things happen in life. But in the bad, so much good can be found, if only we are open to it. The same thing happened when my mom was in the hospital. We got very close to a few of the nurses and our lives are richer for knowing them.

In the last few days, we've anticipated and prepared for a major storm.

 A hurricane. His name was Isaac.

That storm brought a wonderful new person into our home, and despite the rain, wind and concerns, we've had a really nice time.

My boy, Joey Joe, stayed on campus at Millsaps. No class today, so he --wait for it-- s.t.u.d.i.e.d.(!), worked out and went to visit Larry at the Country Club (mostly to model his new Millsaps Majors warm-ups). He transferred to Millsaps this semester to major in business...and to play football.

The opening game against their arch-rival Mississippi College was scheduled for tonight, but thanks to Isaac, it was delayed until Saturday at 3pm. We'll be ready!

So now I'm back to the question at hand. Why do I blog? I guess it's a way to chronicle my life. It's a way for me to gather my thoughts and focus on what's important to me. It's also a way to connect with others. And with a book in the works, it reminds me to ponder....and to write.

Back to that Caring Bridge site: it was a way for me to let others know Nicole's condition so that I didn't have to say it over and over. It was a way to keep people up to date on what was most urgent, so they'd know specifically what to pray for. And in time, it was a way for those who had a vested interest in Nicole--through prayers and financial contributions and visits and much more--to see how their investment paid off by keeping up with her progress through the Caring Bridge.

But after awhile, it got kinda creepy. People would see us in public and ask how the lasagne we ate the night before was, or if we had a good time at the theatre. I wrote very candidly about our daily lives, and it was almost like people were stalking us, because they knew our every move. Nicole, who is actually the MOST private person I know, grew tired of everyone knowing her every move. So, Caring Bridge ended. But I still longed to write. The subject matter changed from Nicole and only Nicole to me. My thoughts. My journey back into the "real world" after being sidelined into Nicole-land. It was cathartic for me and still is. Because I'm still on that journey, still growing, still learning, and still venturing into the next phase of my life.

There's so much more to come!

Blessings to all who read this.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Take it Away...

There are two things I really do NOT like. One is seeing my children suffer, and the other is seeing my parents suffer. I've had a big dose of both, unfortunately.

This is NOT how you are supposed to see your child:
But I did see her that way.

And this is NOT how you are supposed to see your mama:

But I am seeing her that way. I took this photo moments ago.

My mother has had adult onset type 2 diabetes for years. She takes insulin and it's been pretty much under control until about six months ago. Then it began attacking her in the most hideous way.

It started with a little sore on her middle toe. The sore went from bad to worse, and wouldn't heal. Intravenous antibiotics administered at home was supposed to do the trick. Instead, the antibiotics tore up her gut and she fell one night while getting up to go to the bathroom. She split open her head and bled all over the carpet. That bought her a middle-of-the-night ambulance ride to Baptist Hospital.

Over the course of the past six months, she's been in and out of Baptist Hospital with rehab stays in between at Wisteria Gardens, Brandon Court and Methodist Rehab. She's had two toes removed in separate operations and finally, yesterday, she had her leg removed.

This has not been an easy road at all.

I wondered to myself last week why I had been able to handle Nicole falling off a six story building so well, yet my mother's situation is taking such a toll on me. Larry reminded me that when Nicole had her accident, our world STOPPED. My sole focus was on her for months.

But for the past six months, life has not stopped for me. In addition to helping with my mom, I've been working, taking care of Nicole and Joe, dealing with our aging house and other life issues. My sister Sarah has driven down from Nashville four times. That's been a godsend.

I know my situation is not unique. Many of my friends have gone through similar situations with their parents, whether it's cancer or something else. It's simply not easy, and it hurts to see the ones who have been so strong in your life be so needy.

We revisited Nicole's accident last week with a trip to New York Presbyterian Hospital. Sarah and I took our daughters, Nicole and Lauren, to the Big Apple for a few days of fun. But we can't go to New York without going to NYP to visit our angel nurses and doctors. Sarah and Lauren saw for the first time where Nicole was put back together again, and they met the nurses I wrote about on Caring Bridge. We also visited with Dr. Angevine, the brilliant surgeon who looks just like George Stepanopolis!

This was our fourth visit to NYP since Nicole's accident almost four years ago, yet this time, there was a real clarity for Nicole on what really happened there. She learned about the day her heart stopped. She saw families huddled in the hallways, shellshocked and crying and realized that for a while, that was US, and she heard Dr. Angevine talk about the long, difficult surgeries to repair and stabilize her neck and back. She really understood what Larry and I (and our friends and family) went through during that month while she fought for her life. And she began to understand what she went through.

As frustrating as hospitals can be, they are also marvelous places full of compassionate, skilled and really smart folks who have a strong understanding of the human body and the things that can be done to heal them. Today, as I sit in front of the large picture window in my mother's hospital room on this absolutely glorious day, I am praying that the smart folks are especially compassionate today. The pain and suffering my mom is experiencing is cutting to the very core of my heart. If I could take away the pain, I would. I am hitting the button on her pain pump every ten minutes, like clockwork. I am sitting next to her bed so she can see me when she opens her eyes. I want her to know she's not alone.

The good news is that this time of suffering is temporary. I have hope because I see Nicole walking, smiling, laughing and living her life to the fullest, after seeing her knocking on death's door. I am trying hard today to think about brighter days ahead for my mom, once her leg has healed and the pain has stopped. There is a sign in her hospital room that says "The Lord bless you and protect you." I'm praying he blesses her by taking away the pain today.

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Forever, My Babies

I logged on to Facebook this morning, which I do most mornings as I sip on my first cup of coffee. It keeps me up-to-date with what's going on in my friends' worlds, and what's important to them. This morning, the overwhelming theme of Mother's Day ruled on Facebook. There were nostalgic posts, sweet posts, funny posts, and even some sad posts, as many remembered mothers no longer among us.

One post that really touched my heart was posted by Kathy Rhodes, adapted from her friend, Susie Dunham, and now further adapted by me.  

"These are two people who can make me laugh the hardest and cry the deepest sobs my heart can push out. My job is never done. Ever. For that I am grateful to God (and Larry) for giving me these people to love."

It's true. These two smiling young adults are forever my babies, and no one can make me happier, prouder, more full of love, and no one can make me cry harder or hurt more than they sometimes do. It's both the blessing and the curse of motherhood.

My friend, Susan Cushman, reminded me of a quote by Elizabeth Stone in her blog yesterday:

“Making the decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

At 29 and 23, Nicole and Joe are teetering on the edge between dependence and independence. I heard once that our job as parents is to raise ADULTS, not children. The first time around, I found it easy to let Nicole go...she had studied abroad in France, graduated from college, apprenticed at theatres in Massachusetts and when she moved to New York, I felt she was ready. But more importantly, I felt I was ready to let her go. 

Now I'm having to let go of Nicole all over again. After her accident, she was totally dependent on me. She has worked so hard to step-by-step regain the use of her body which would eventually lead her to be less and less dependent on me or anyone else. She's almost there, yet for me, letting go is much harder this time than it was the first. For one thing, I've gotten to know Nicole as the young woman she's become and I've enjoyed her company. I've watched her blossom into an outstanding speaker, using the theatre training she got in college and her unbelievable accident to touch lives and inspire people. I couldn't be more proud.

And then there's Joe. My late bloomer. I wondered if I'd ever have the opportunity to let him go. But I've watched him mature and get more serious about what he wants out of life. He's trying to figure out how to go to Millsaps this fall to major in business, and I believe he'll do it. Joe's always been so much smarter than he's ever given himself credit for being. I can see that he's using his intelligence in a positive way, and that makes my heart soar. 

This Mother's Day, I'll go visit my own mother in Baptist Hospital where she's on her third tour of duty since February. Celebrate where you are! It's something we are all really good at doing.

Tonight, I'll go to the movies with Larry and my babies. I'll have to really concentrate on what's on the screen, as my thoughts will likely be running from one "baby" to the other, remembering their lives so far, and dreaming about what the future may hold for them. 

Happy Mother's Day! 
Blessings to all who read this...


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Make It Easy, Please!

Why do some things have to be so dang hard?!

For the past two and a half months, my mother has been in Baptist Hospital in Jackson...except for the week and a half she was in Wisteria Gardens (her nursing home/rehab of choice) in Pearl. A visit to the doctor while she was a patient at WG sent her unexpectedly back to Baptist, where she's been for the past month.

It all started with a little sore on her toe. Those little sores are taken very seriously when one has Type 2 Diabetes. The little sore wouldn't heal, so she was sent to a wound care doctor. He monitored it, and determined it was getting worse, so he ordered intravenous antibiotics--six weeks worth--that my father was to administer at home via a port that was placed on my mom's chest. The strong antibiotics resulted in. well, digestive issues and that left her weaker than usual. A late night trip to the bathroom resulted in a serious fall that netted her an ambulance ride to the hospital.

The next week, off went the "the little piggy that had none." Looking on the bright side, my sister Sarah told Mama that she would now get a 10% discount when she got a pedicure.

Within a day or two, her middle toe began to get very red and swollen, but it was felt the post-surgical antibiotics she was getting would handle that. We believe, even though it was never diagnosed, that she had gout--a very painful condition that is often triggered by surgery.

Finally, she was transferred to Wisteria Gardens to begin rehab to learn how to walk on a 4-toed foot. All was going well there until my dad took her for a follow-up visit for her foot. The doc unwrapped it and it was very infected. Back to Baptist she went.

The gout toe had gotten worse, with a sore as well that would not heal. Back to surgery she went, this time to see if the doc could clean up the sore and save the toe. A week later, she was in surgery once again, this time to cut off "the little piggy that ate roast beef." She woke up from surgery in severe pain and has never really been pain free since, except when she was on large doses of morphine that made her loopy as hell.

Now she's ready to go to rehab again...and there's no bed in the inn (or rehab/nursing homes in the area). Wisteria Gardens is a popular place, and there are no beds to be had there. It's been a finely choreographed dance, because when the hospital says she's ready to go, they want to send her to the first available bed in a nursing home, without considering "the big picture," namely, my father, who is driving to see her each day, which is important because we want to keep my mom's spirits up, which, as everyone knows, helps with the healing/rehab process (take, for instance, NICOLE!!!!!!!). He simply cannot drive an hour or more each way, each day to see her. He did, after all, turn 85 last week!!!

There is a small army of people who have to make this all happen, and they have to be totally in synch with each other. The medical planets must be in perfect alignment. And the biggest patient advocates--the family--must be constantly in contact with them all, walking that delicate line between being very nice and rational or going all Shirley McClaine on them.

So, the bottom line is...if she makes it through OK tonight, then tomorrow morning we will drive her to Brandon Court where she can begin rehab. (Sarah was going to take her for a ride in the wheelchair this afternoon, and Mama was standing with a walker...when Sarah turned to get her wallet so they could make a trip to the gift shop, Mama fell and hurt her shoulder. Having x-rays done now...*holding breath*.)

The time at Baptist hasn't been all bad. We have met some of the most precious people who we hope will be in our lives for a long time to come. Like Nurse Ashley who says Mama has become like a grandmother to her.
And Debra, who we don't have a picture of (I'll see what I can do about that!)...who has been an angel for us--always with a smile on her face and willing to do whatever needs to be done to make my mom comfortable.

There are others, too, and I intend to let the higher-ups at Baptist know how wonderful and caring they are.

SO, if you've read this post, it must mean you care somewhat...and now you will be rewarded with photos of our last two months at Baptist!

Just before Easter, Nicole brought Mama a butterfly wing headband...
The food has not been spectacular, so Mama "hoards" what she likes to save for later. On this day, it was grapes. She's putting them in the plastic bag her silverware came in. (Note the junior Frosty cup on her tray. We had a Frosty party in her room last week!)
She got a nasty bug called VRE bacteria. It's highly contagious, so we all had to wear gowns when in her room. Daddy looks great in his!
Nicole went through something similar while she was in the hospital in New York. She had C.Diff, so anyone who came in her room had to wear gowns, gloves, and even masks.

People have been so mom has gotten some beautiful cards and flowers while she's been incarcerated hospitalized. 
Because she was in the pokey hospital during Easter, we just had our Easter dinner in the hospital's atrium, otherwise know as the Lido Deck.

Sometimes you just have to party where you are. And we certainly know how to do that!

Since Mama's been in the hospital, Nicole has worked on several movies in New Orleans and done a couple of speeches to groups. I've been to Fairhope, Alabama with my neighbor/friend Phyllis Geary, to a writer's group in Memphis with Nancy Kay Wessman (we stayed at Susan Cushman's house in Harbor Town, right on the Mississippi River--beautiful!) and I had my big event, the Walk to Defeat ALS on the Coast. Joe went with me to help, and I am so glad he did. Good thing that was before he BROKE HIS LEG last week. It's always something. My sister, Sarah, has made three (or is it four??) trips down from Nashville to help out. 

So back to the initial question that opened this blog post. Why do some things have to be so dang hard? Our family rolls with the punches pretty well. But the last three days have been insane. Trying to get my mother moved from the hospital (where they tell us repeatedly that they can't keep her any longer) to a nursing home (again, there is no room at the inn) has been a logistical nightmare. It has caused undue pressure on all of us involved. Mis-communication...lack of communication...slow action...arrrrggggghhhh!!!! Why? 

If only I ruled the world...

The moral of this story is to eat right, exercise, be healthy and don't get Type 2 Diabetes. If you aren't so lucky, make sure you have good advocates on your side to hang in there, taking decision-makers to task and holding their feet to the fire. 

Thanks for all your prayers and well-wishes. Come visit at Brandon Court and cheer my mom on as she does her rehab. She'll be there with bells butterfly wings on! 

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Let's All Just Love One Another

What a week it's been. My mother marked her thirtieth day at Baptist Hospital with a ride to a nursing home where she'll spend another couple of weeks in intensive rehab. My dad and I spent the day on Thursday trying to find the right place for rehab, and despite being told that the one she wanted was full, she still managed to get into Wisteria Gardens, her first choice. And all is right with the world...
That done, I felt comfortable leaving town for a night. My neighbor/friend, Phyllis, invited me to go on an art-run to Fairhope, Alabama for her fabulous art gallery. I had been to Fairhope with her before, for the annual art show there, and fell in love with the town. I was ready to return! We stayed with her friend, Stephanie, and her two precious children. 
Friday night the three of us went to Faulkner College in Fairhope to see a documentary made about Pulitzer prize winning author Rick Bragg. 

According to Wikipedia, "Bragg worked at several newspapers before joining the New York Times in 1994. He covered murders and unrest in Haiti as a metro reporter, then wrote about the Oklahoma City bombing, the Jonesboro killings, the Susan Smith trial and more as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. He later became the paper's Miami bureau chief just in time for Elián González's arrival and the international controversy surrounding the Cuban boy. Bragg won the Pulitzer for his work.

Bragg has authored five books: All Over but the Shoutin, Ava's Man, The Prince of Frogtown, I Am a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, the authorized biography of American POWJessica Lynch, and The Most They Ever Had."

As is the case most of the time for me, when I meet an author and hear them speak about their work, I'm more motivated to read their books. The documentary was great, and I learned so much about Bragg's life and writings. We read "The Prince of Frogtown" in our book club, and I admit, it wasn't one of my favorites. But after seeing the documentary, and hearing Bragg speak, I'm ready to read "It's All Over But the Shoutin'," followed by "Ava's Man," and yes, "The Prince of Frogtown,"  again. The books are memoirs--true stories--centering on Bragg's life growing up in northeast Alabama. 

I got a little more background on Bragg from our hostess, Stephanie, who actually dated him several years ago. She hadn't seen him in ten years, but he knew who she was the moment he saw her. 

Here's Stephanie and Phyllis, hamming it up at the book signing:

Getting away, even if for one night, is a good thing. A change of scenery, new adventures, and quality time with a dear friend is all good for the soul. Our trip to Fairhope wasn't the only fun thing Phyllis recruited me to do. Earlier in the week, we made a visit to Beth Israel Temple, where we enjoyed their production of "Oyklahoma." No, I did not misspell it. 

You see, while most of my friends are observing Lent and preparing for Easter, my friend, Lisa Palmer, was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim. What is Purim, you ask? I had to look it up myself. Purim, which literally means “lots,” is the holiday in which Jews commemorate being saved from persecution in the ancient Persian Empire. According to the Book of Esther in the Bible, the Jews of the city of Shushan were threatened by the villain Haman (BOOOOOO!), a prime minister who convinces the King Ahasuerus to kill all the Jews (because the Jewish Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman). Haman casts lots (hence the name of the holiday) to determine the date he would carry out his plan: the 13th of Adar. In the end, the Jews are saved by the heroic Queen Esther, Mordecai’s (YAAAAY!) niece (and adopted daughter), who married Ahasuerus (after he banished his first, rebellious wife Vashti). When Ahasuerus discovers that his wife Esther is Jewish, he decides to reverse Haman’s decree, and instead of the Jews being killed, Haman, his sons, and other enemies are killed instead.
Each year, Beth Israel congregation presents a Purim spiel, or play, with a different theme, but it tells the story of Purim in a way people can understand. This year, the theme was a takeoff of the play "Oklahoma," starring my friend Lisa as Esther Laurie (kind of an Ado Annie character, if you are familiar with the original play). 

It was an audience-participatory production, and we were each given noise makers when we arrived. Here's mine:
Every time the narrator said Haman's name, we were all supposed to BOOO and fire up our noise makers. When she said Mordecai's name, we all cheered.
My favorite song was "The Persians and the Hebrews Should Be Friends." The takeaway from the play is that no matter our heritage or other differences, we are really the same. We are all just people, and worthy of each other's love and respect. Nice.

With Mama settled in at Wisteria Gardens, and Nicole back home (she spent a week in New Orleans as an extra in a couple of films and a television show), it's time to focus on work. Luckily, I've got lots of it right now. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shack Up Inn Fun

It's the serendipitous moments that make life sweet.

I was tooling around on Facebook a couple of nights ago and saw that my pal Stephanie Dwyar was going to be attending the Barefoot Workshops screening event at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale. I replied that I was jealous (I have had a strong wish to attend a Barefoot Workshop for about five years now...). Five minutes later, my phone rings. It's Stephanie. Asking me to go to Clarksdale with her. No thinking that one through...I'm in!

I've been wanting to write an article about Shack Up Inn and Barefoot Workshops for some time now, and I have just the publication in mind. Talking to the go-to guys for both would certainly help with my pitch. 

We got away late Friday afternoon...Stephanie, me and her two precious pups, Tripp and Gracie. Two and a half hours later, we drove up to our home-away-from-home, the Legends shack. Next it was off to the movies!

One of my favorite flicks was a documentary about Erica and Hayden Hall, owners of Oxbow restaurant in Clarksdale. 

Nicole met them last year when she was in Clarksdale working on another documentary. It was great to be able to learn more about this amazing couple by watching a film about them.

After the film, we went to eat at Rust restaurant, where our friend, Allen, took care of us.
(Stephanie and Allen)

We woke up to a glorious day. I haven't been to the Shack Up in about five or six years, and I walked around to see how much it had changed. Stephanie's thumbprint (and bottle trees) is all over the property, including graffiti by someone who was inspired by her trees.
Sweet Allen cooked us breakfast...scrambled eggs with pesto and tomatoes and artisan bread from Rainbow in Jackson.
We met two fun women from Memphis, who have shacks across the road at Shackland. Sandi and Erin each gave us tours of their shacks. 
Before leaving, we had a visit with Blue Mike, who was converting a houseboat into an apartment for Betsy, who runs the front desk at the Shack Up Inn.
Then is was off to town to meet with artist Joey Young. His studio/gallery/apartment was as creative as he is, and playing with is kitties was fun.

And before we knew it, we were back on the road, leaving the dust from the flat Delta landscape in our rearview mirror. It was the perfect getaway: short and sweet and filled with great food, music, people, and fun. 

Thanks, Stephanie! I'll accompany you to Clarksdale any time!

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turkey Dinner

I just had the best Turkey dinner ever!

Actually, it was the only Turkey dinner I've been to. Not that I haven't eaten my weight and then some on Thanksgiving.

This Turkey dinner was actually a luncheon I attended at the Jackson Hilton today. The Turkey, Azerbaijan & Mississippi Business Summit Luncheon, to be exact. I was covering it for a newspaper, but that was just an excuse to be exposed to a culture I knew absolutely nothing about. Until today.

Turkey is a cool country! So is Azerbaijan. The people (and there were a lot of them) are just as nice as they can be, although those with strong accents were a little difficult to understand. All the big-dog elected officials were there: Congressman Gregg Harper, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, and other assorted State senators and representatives and a sprinkling of mayors. And no, we did not eat turkey (big disappointment for me, as I love irony so very much!).

I had so much fun with my new Turkish friends that I went to the Old Capitol Inn tonight for the reception. Am I glad I did. I got to hob-knob with our new governor, Phil Bryant.

(That's Bill and Linda Wilson. Don't they look important, posing with the Guvna?)

And the food (again, no turkey) was a. maze. ing. Kind of a mix between Lebanese and Greek food, but with a twist. All fresh, delicious and beautiful.

We drank special Turkish tea and Turkish coffee in little demitasse cups for dessert. All while listening to wonderful blues music by my man, Raphael Semmes, and some of the best musicians in Jackson: Jewel Bass, Greg "Fingers" Taylor and Barry Leech. It was so surreal, being in that grand ballroom, surrounded by so many people speaking a language I've never heard before, eating amazing food that was new to my tongue and listening to familiar blues music. I loved it when they closed with B.B. King's "The Blues is Alright," and several of the Turkish-Azerbaijan contengency got on stage to sing with them. I've never seen grown men have so much fun!

We even did art projects! I made a picture of a flower, but the technique was the craziest thing I've ever seen. Paint is dropped on water using a paintbrush made of a rose bush stick and horsehair. Then you "dot" the paint with a little metal stylist. It's much more involved than I am describing, but trust me when I tell you my artwork was magnificent. I gave it to my mama and she was so proud of me!

Since the Baptist Hospital, my mother's home-away-from-home, is just down the street from the Old Capitol Inn, I scored a few Turkish treats to surprise her with. She was a happy camper!

Now added to my bucket list: a trip to Istanbul. I'm serious. I want to go!

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef...

Deja vu...all over again!

I've spent the past week, off and on, in a hospital room. This time it's with my mom. Ahhh....memories....

She developed a little boo-boo on the tip of one of her toes, which for most people would have been no biggie. But Mama has a touch of diabetes (insulin injections and the works), so it became a bit more serious for her. (Long story...could get gross, but I won't go there.) After a week of intravenous antibiotics that did nothing but tear her gut up, she fell last Friday night and hit her head. That meant an ambulance ride to Baptist Hospital and the decision was made to axe the bad toe. Get rid of it for good.

Now I didn't really count it down, but my sister, Sarah, said it was the "little piggy that ate roast beef." Always looking on the bright side, Sarah pointed out that Mama can now get a 10% discount if and when she ever has a pedicure. Now Mama likes a bargain, so she really liked that idea.
(Note: photo for illustration purposes only. I have no idea who's feet these are. My mom's newly missing toe is the third, or middle, toe.)

Sarah and I are taking turns spending the night at the hospital, as Mama is not real compliant when it comes to staying in the bed. Even then, I slept through her trying to get to the bathroom a couple of nights ago. She's like a stealth fighter, that one.

In between hospital time, I'm trying to get work done, but it's been difficult to do this week. I did manage to cover two awesome things for PORTICO jackson magazine. Both were a splendid diversion from hanging out in the hospital.

The first story I did was last Sunday, when I had the time of my life covering Supperklub, the most incredible supper club I've ever seen or heard about. Those folks were SERIOUS foodies. I'm not going to say much more about that, because you'll be reading it in the March issue of PORTICO, but I will say that it was the best 8-hour feeding frenzy I've ever experienced, and they really raised the bar on what I want to put in my mouth from now on!

The next story was a feature on a spectacular home on Belhaven. I've covered lots of homes for PORTICO, and it's one of my favorite things to do, but this house was hands-down my favorite. I think it's because I could really feel the creativity, love and happiness in the home. Again, I don't want to give too much away, as the story and photos will be in the April issue of the magazine. Just know that both of these events were a huge blessing, as I had so much fun covering and writing the stories, and both inspired me in such a big way.

We'll be here through the weekend, and then Mama will be moved to a "step-down" facility, where she'll do some rehab, mostly getting her strength back after being in a bed for a couple of weeks (at home and then in the hospital).

During my time in the hospital (I'm here now), I've mastered my new obsession.

I've never seen so many creative ideas in my life! Sarah has gotten addicted as well, and we are constantly pinning and re-pinning things to our boards. Check mine out here. I've had such fun finding and pinning each thing on each board, and each of my boards has a purpose. I LOVE it. It's like an online bulletin board and a place to put things so you won't forget where they are. In the process, I've discovered some really great blogs. If you aren't doing Pinterest, I really encourage you to do so. Life will never be the same...

Now, if only I could spend some quality time at home, doing something with all the ideas that are filling my head. This little piggy really wants to go to the market about now!

Blessings to all who read this!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Got me some Hot Pants! dreams have come true!

All I have to do to lose two jean sizes is to wear a pair of "hot pants" every night for two weeks.


It popped up on my email today. It's the Groupon Deal-of-the-Day. Only $26 (regular $71) for a pair of bike-short lookin' pants that are supposed to "smooth thighs and other dimple-prone areas by galvanizing the skin's internal zamboni to promote a deep warming of body tissues and promote lymphatic drainage. This process boosts sweating by up to 80% and aids in eliminating the toxins responsible for cellulite. Ladies can sport HotPants alone or under other clothing while awake and active, asleep in bed, or executing a series of high kicks when sleepwalking." (Hmmm...cute copy to boot!) The pants are supposedly made of a comfortable bioceramic material (can you imagine wearing bioceramic material??!!!) that emits *~*infrared rays*~* to help wearers naturally and efficiently amp up weight-loss regimens.

Here's what they look like:

I assure you, I will NOT look like that while wearing them, not for the next two weeks, at least. Or even for the next two months. So, I'll wear them in my sleep, if I can stand it.

And yes. I ordered them. Of course.

Actually, I accidently clicked the "order" button, but then I thought the Universe might be sending me a message and I decided against cancelling the order.

If you'd like to have your very own pair of Hot Pants, click on this link to order.

Really, something's gotta give. I do yoga two days a week, but that's more for sanity than anything else. I've signed up to do Jazzercize again, and will begin next Tuesday. Three days a week. I'm determined. That, combined with my healthy-eating regime and the Hot Pants to make me sweat my fat away, and watch out...I may just end up being the skinny hottie was meant to be! (wink-wink.)

There's only 3 days left to order at the incredible low, low price! Let's start a Hot Pants sensation!!!

Blessings to all who read this!