Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ready to Cruise Again...

It took a couple of tries for DH to convince me to go on a cruise. He'd gone on several with his family prior to my first "boat ride." But once I went, I was hooked and eagerly anticipated our second trip.
Our first cruise was Royal Caribbean ship from Galveston, the second was a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship out of New Orleans. Both were wonderful.

Our boarding in Galveston was delayed a couple of hours, so DH and I went and visited a couple of Navy boats, the USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart, instead of twiddling our thumbs in the hotel.

Our second cruise departed from New Orleans and as I'd never been there, we went down a couple of days early so I could check out the French Quarter, which I loved, in case you don't remember. Scroll past the COVID musings and you can see a few of the awesome houses I fell in love with.

After the trip to Oregon and the unfortunate situation I found there, I promised myself a cruise as soon as reasonably possible once that chapter of my life had come to an end. Sadly, it came to a close sooner than expected... and now we're finally moving forward on selling Mom's house and settling her estate once and for all. That could take up to six months or more (I hope the house doesn't take too long though...), but that's okay.

Definitely looking forward to a week on a ship where I don't even have to cook or clean. And I'm coordinating to get my kids along as well. Unfortunately, we were never able to go on a real family vacation when they were all small. But having them all together as adults will be so much fun.

Not sure which port I want to leave from...I think I'd like to go back to New Orleans, to be honest. Granted, the drive there is three hours longer, but if you're gonna go on vacation and you don't get one very often, make it count, right?

If you've never been on a cruise and you want a behind the scenes look, (and if you have Amazon Prime,) there's a great documentary called The Secret Life of the Cruise available. It gives you a peek behind the curtain of a cruise. It's an amazing ballet of moving parts and well worth a watch even if you don't cruise.
 Let me know if you like to cruise or if you watched the documentary.

Have a great weekend and catch you next week!

Here a few picks from previous cruise posts so you don't necessarily have to click links...

Monday, September 26, 2022

Miscellaneous Monday on Steroids

I usually only have two to four things to share for Miscellaneous Monday, but today you get a laundry list!


The number to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 988.

I heard this on the radio while driving to Omaha and thought it a vital piece of information to pass along.

* * * * *

It seems humanity is doomed to repeat too many of its past mistakes.

You may have heard that there is a spate of book banning going on once again. From what few articles I've read--which isn't many, to be honest--most of the books are LGBTQ-themed. A library in Michigan was defunded after librarians refused to remove certain books, although they did move some books to behind the counter. Librarians in the small Michigan town have been harrassed and accused of trying to "indoctrinate" the town's children.

Long story short, Nora Roberts, donated $50K to the GoFundMe campaign that was started on the library's behalf. She might have donated more, but that was the max allowed!

For the full story, click here...

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Did you know that not only was September once the seventh month of the year, but until 46 BC, it only had twenty-nine days...?

 * * * * * 

I read recently that Canada's population is smaller than California's! I suppose I should have included images of both the locales, but I'm sure you know the difference in size. If not, go to Google Maps and look at North America...

* * * * *

Remember all that time spent yanking sticker burrs from my yard?? Yeah, for all the good it did. Those are some pervasive little buggers. We had two drenching rains about a month or so ago and everything greened right back up and there were little explosions all over my yard of these things.

click on the image and



Because we have animals who spend time in the yard, I didn't want to buy harsh chemicals that would be toxic for any of them. DD suggested vinegar and a quick Google-search verified this as a valid option. To test its power, I took about 1/2 cup of vinegar and poured it on a handful of those sticker burr plants one evening. The next evening when I checked them, they were browning up/drying out quite nicely. I yanked them out and poured the rest of my gallon jug of vinegar into a sprayer and went to town on several other large swaths of these things.

Lo and behold...

Eradicating these things is going to be an ongoing process. I'm up for the task now, but how long will this enthusiasm last, I wonder... 

* * * * *

And one last tidbit... I've taken on the job of providing the writing incentive theme & goodies for next years' writers retreat at Lake Conroe.

One dear friend has provided this bit of extra fun for us since the beginning and has asked (finally) that someone else do the honors.

I volunteered immediately because I love this kind of thing. I came up with an idea within minutes and ran it by DD. She liked and now I have ten months to plan the fun and gather the goodies.

And no, I'm not sharing on the off-chance one of them reads this. I don't think they do, but they don't get to know until they arrive at the lake, so it's not fair of me to spill the beans here.


And that's all I got for you today. Have a great week. See you on Thursday...

P.S. ~ I think I figured out the blog via email thing...I hope it's working out for you. (Let me know if there are issues.) It's working out much better for me.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Break out the 45s ~ National One-Hit Wonder Day is coming!


Break out YouTube or Spotify and take yourself back on Sunday, September 25th. It's National One-Hit Wonder Day.

When I think of one-hit wonders, my brain usually goes straight to "Sunglasses at Night" sung by Corey Hart or "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. They both came out in my formative musical years of junior high, which is probably why I remember them first.

But as I was doing research--looking at lists of one-hit wonders from various decades--I was reminded of so many songs I enjoyed growing up, as well as songs I didn't discover until the last five or six years when I explored musical genres a little more.

There were a couple of songs that seemed to end up on most of the lists I checked out. "Take On Me" by A-Ha for one as well as "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies that I heard even before "Sunglasses at Night" and "Come on Eileen."

What surprised me most during my trip down musical memory lane was which songs were actually one hit wonders. I like music a lot, but I'm not a connoisseur. Meaning I enjoy the musical experience but I don't generally follow / track the musician, the albums, the musical trajectories, etc. I've bought very few albums in my life, because I could never see spending $15 to have access to a single song I really enjoyed. The advent of iTunes (and other platforms like them) and the ability to buy a single song was amazing to me. To this day I ask for iTunes gift cards--alas, I haven't gotten one in ages.

Did you know that "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul, "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris, and "Monster Mash" by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers were all one-hit wonders? Apparently they were. Who knew? lol

There were quite a few others from my junior high and high school years, but I won't bore you with a rundown of those song titles.

It seems like most of the original lists I looked at didn't include country music. Which--why not?

But they didn't, so I looked up those as well and would you believe, Billy Ray Cyrus's hit, "Achey, Breaky Heart" was listed. I was surprised by that, but according to one list, the massive fame of that one song took its toll on Bill Ray and it took him decades to really recover.

Of course, many online entities (Rolling Stone, EW, Spotify, etc) have their own thoughts on which one-hit wonders are the best. And, again, many list several of the same songs, especially the classics from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

I had intended to pick a favorite, but alas I don't think I can. I did want to leave you with a song to listen to if you were so inclined. It was tough to choose just one, but I opted to leave with this:

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin, not Bob Marley...

Have a super weekend.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Strengths Check-In...


Last Wednesday I received an email communication from Becca--the gal who turned me on to Personality Strengths and who teaches people, mostly authors, how to lean in to their top (ten) strengths to be "better faster" at things.

In that email, she encouraged everyone to check-in with their top five Strengths to see how those Strengths were performing or if they were being starved.

An example of starving a Strength would be if a person with high Input (mine is #8) isn't accumulating enough information or ideas or artifacts. Basically -- inputting. :0)

So I took a few minutes to review my top five: Consistency, Restorative, Harmony, Discipline, and Intellection.

I know most of y'all don't really understand the scope of these because I still haven't explained them to you as I've wanted to do since November of 2020 when I first took the test, but let's see how I'm doing anyway...

1. Consistency -- This encompasses two threads, treating all people the same and having them all be subject to the same rules and consequences; and as the name suggests being consistent in action and deed in order to get through routine tasks quickly and efficiently.

I don't know how consistently I treat people across the board, to be fair. But I have a very small circle of people I interact with, but I wholeheartedly support the principle.

As for "action and deed," I definitely have a very uniform way of doing just about everything.

So this means Consistency is being fed enough to work more for me than against me right now.

2.  Restorative -- This has to to with dealing with problems. I'm supposedly good at figuring out what's wrong and resolving it.

For me, it 100% depends on the area in which the problem falls as well as the scope of the issue.

Unfortunately, I don't always have the authority to make changes I think would help.

Now if I'm trying to self-improve, that's something else and I have more success with that.

This strength probably wobbles back and forth a bit more merely because of that authority thing I mentioned, but I absolutely try to fix and resolve the things I can, especially when they fall under the purview of my personal endeavors.

3. Harmony -- As the name suggests, I like things to be harmonious and I don't enjoy conflict. It also means that I prefer being busy and engaged over being bored and opting to spend time in front of the TV. I do spend time watching TV in certain circumstances and sometimes that circles back to the Input Strength I mentioned as much as it does feeling tired or ill or bored.

The "dealing with conflict" aspect of this is always a struggle for me and is something I'm aware of and "Intellecting" on how to get better at.

4. Discipline -- From the results of my Strengths test: "You enjoy routine and structure. Your world is best described by the order you create."

I feel like this should be my number one Strength. But regardless of where it sits--so much YES. This is me.

Keeping to routines helps me feel more even-keeled when other things are out of control. The more chaotic the things around me are, the more I cling to and even add to my routines.

I am in the balcony (rather than the basement) of this Strength, and it works very well for me.

5. Intellection -- Basically, I like to learn things and keep my brain active. I love to read. Romance mostly, but other things too. I've mentioned podcasts a lot over the past few years--listening to them not only feeds this strength, but feeds that #8 Input I mentioned as well.

I listen to mostly hockey-related podcasts, but also Ted Talks Daily (not all of them, but most), History This Week, one called Dark History, and one called Cautionary Tales. Those are the regular ones.

Occasionally I'll hear about a fixed length series like the 12-episode series about the British Royal Family I recently listened to. I also listened to a series about the victims of Jack the Ripper--did you know they weren't all prostitutes as sensationalist history would like us to believe?

This Strength is also about thinking and reflecting and pondering. I need time to parse information I've been given when needing to make a presentation or when taking a lot of detailed information quickly or when writing. Goodness help me if I have to make a decision quickly.

* * * * *

I definitely want to share more information with you about my Strengths and Strengths in general. I find them fascinating and enlightening and exciting. Spoiler alert--Strengths will be on the docket for blog topics next year and I might just make myself a little more accountable by putting it on the 2023 goals list.

If any of this intrigues you, visit the Gallup website.I've linked you to the page that covers the four domains that Strengths are broken into and then lists and links them for more info on each one individually.

* * * * *

I hope you had a great weekend. Catch you on Thursday. :0)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Happy Hockey-tober...

Hockey season is a month away now, and I have tickets to the Dallas Stars home opener versus the Nashville Predators for DD and me...

Best of all--the home opener is on a Saturday for a change. So...!! DD and I can attend all the pre-game events this year. Which usually includes what they call the Victory Green Carpet Walk. That's when the players walk into the arena on (obviously) a Victory Green carpet. Fans get to line the carpet for pictures and possibly autographs.

There are usually other events taking place in Victory Plaza, as well, so DD and I are gonna make a day of it since we actually can. I've had the tickets for a month already and I can't even say how excited we both are.

Others look forward to Halloween...I look forward to hockey season. :0)

However, for the first time in five seasons, we do not have season tickets or even half-season tickets. DD and I will be going to games as the mood strikes us and not because we have to because we already paid for the seats. Are there things I'm going to miss about being a season ticket holder? A few yes, but not enough to keep on right now.

Last year, I didn't opt out and wished I'd had. Way before Mom's cancer was known to me and before we even thought we'd be moving Mom to Texas, I just wasn't feeling the energy needed for that kind of commitment. Also, I had other reservations, which ended up coming to pass, and so this year, I said, "No."

Mostly for the same reasons, but also because after the hiatus of many things due to caring for Mom, I need to decide if the things I wanted to do are the things I still want to do; if so or if not--how do I move forward.

I've reached a crossroads...there is lots of pondering and consideration and prayer to come for me over the next weeks and months.

In the meantime...

Monday, September 12, 2022

Labor Day Road Trip

Before I actually talk about the road trip, I'd just like to extend my condolences to the British Royal Family on the death of their beloved matriarch, Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in peace.

God save the King...

* * * * *

Now the road trip...


Taken near Guthrie, OK, headed north.

As I usually do, I traveled north to Omaha to visit family over the long weekend. The trip probably wouldn't have happened had Mom not died, but she did and I was able to go. Not that I'm glad it happened at the expense of her life... But I am still grateful that I got to go.

DH had hoped to go with me this year, but inevitably something work-related and something he can't do remotely or push off comes up. Honestly, I don't mind. 

I enjoy the long drive by myself. My soul is fed by the time alone and the beauty of the countryside I drive through on my way there and back. The open plains filled with cattle or with fields of lovely growing things are so beautiful to me. The last stretch from the Nebraska border into Bellevue is especially wonderful because Highway 75 is two lanes and the fields and homes are right there.

My family is a chaotic, weird, wild, redneck-ish mass of people. I love them all. I like some of them way more than others...

The last two years, I met new babies, Christine in 2020 and Mayson in we are this year. Christine took way too long to warm up to Auntie Jen (hence the face), but Mayson settled right into my arms as if no time had passed.

This year, I met my de facto new sister-in-law, Ally, and new niece, Ana. By all accounts, Ally and my oldest younger brother are destined for marriage. My oldest younger sister and Ally are already besties. Ana and Christine are close in age, so a new cousin and built-in playmate.

Here is Ana and me...

Overall, it was a good trip and good to see and mark the growth of all my nieces and nephews and to meet and welcome Ally and Ana to the family.

Much as I love the drive, one of these days, ten hours in a car just won't be feasible. But not this year and hopefully not next.

Hope you had a lovely and relaxing weekend.

Talk to you soon.

* * * * *

P.S. Two things...

A. I'm going to work on getting back to two posts a week. I'm finding more things to share than what Monday only posting allows for... There may be some misses here and there, but that's the goal. There will definitely be two this week.

B. I'm working on a way to automate getting this blog to those who receive via email. Right now it's been a very tedious process. But it may mean that you might see a post twice. Not sure which one as that depends on when I work out the kinks and launch. I apologize in advance.

Monday, September 5, 2022

My Summer Vacation

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Today is Labor Day and, growing up, that signaled the end of summer and the start of the school year. Isn't it tradition that, at least in elementary school, you write about what you did over the summer?

Well this is what I did...

Despite soooo many days of triple digit heat, and caring for mom, and keeping up with my day job, I spent quite a few hours cleaning up the yard. In part, to keep sane, to be honest. Especially as the days passed and mom required more care and attention which required me to be in her room...

I worked mostly while I was out with the little dogs anyway, which was 4-6 times a day in the beginning to ensure they didn't leave deposits on my flooring. Anywho...

First, I picked the pods off the sticker burrs to save all dog paws and my own feet from being wounded by these ugly suckers.

(Technically, they are sandbur seed pods, but we call them Sticker Burrs--and anyone who's experienced them will know exactly what you're talking about, lol.)

But as summer and the heat marched on, I started to just pull the whole plant from the ground. May as well, right? Considering how little grass is in the yard, they weren't hard to find or pull. I think I've mostly gotten them eradicated, although every now and again I find a small straggler or two. But they don't last longer than a blink.

Once the sticker burrs were done, I moved on to some sort of spider-like ground cover weed. Those, too, have been fairly easy to tug from the very dry earth that makes up most of my yard these days. There are also a lot of other random not-grass things growing (or already dead) that I've just plucked. Except the kudzu which grows as vines. Not sure how I'm going to get that out of the yard.

Spider-y plant on the left, kudzu on the right...image courtesy of me.

Then I got a wild hair to rake. Not only were there some leaves already, but our lawn guy is really just a lawn mower--so all the detritus from mowing gets left behind and what doesn't turn to natural mulch just sits, so when I've taken the dogs out I've also taken to wielding the rake.

As I'm out there letting the mind wander, it turns to "fixing up" the yard and what that might look like. I know it'll take money, which I don't have a lot of right now, but some ideas include:

  • privacy fence
  • a deck around the master bedroom (with a French door from said bedroom)
  • non-grass landscaping, which could include:
    • gravel (bye-bye kudzu)
    • actual ground cover
    • hedges / trees
    • pond / water feature
    • mulch
    • any combo of the above

I do have a small section of grass I want to keep and nurture, but we live on a decent size piece of property and I don't want to have to water that much grass in future summers (or install a sprinkler system). Convincing DH to do any of these other than the privacy fence is going to be a challenge. We'll see how it goes.

How's your summer going?

Have a great week.