Happy Times

When my grandchildren come to visit, it is among the happiest times in my life. Having taught for many years, I knew that being around children was going to be something I would enjoy and indeed it was. I have taught all ages of students and surrounding myself with young people has made my life better in every way.

Kids Playing, Beach, Vacation, Child, Summer, Happy

Having grandchildren was something I looked forward to and once I had my three beautiful babes, my life was changed for the “even better.” Thankfully, I have been able to be with them often as they navigated their early years, and now, at 8, 10, and 12, being with them often is something I truly cherish.

As an educator, I am wary of the inordinate amount of time children are spending in front of a screen. And, yes, my grandkids are part of the crowd, but in the positive column, they also like to play, pretend, make, hike and create. This spring break visit, the activities included:

  • riding the four-wheeler
  • making fashion outfits out of scarves
  • having a fashion show
  • playing “store”
  • hiking to the creek
  • playing board games
  • playing in the tree house
  • making a fort
  • running
  • climbing
  • swimming
  • shopping at the Dollar Tree
  • making a bed tent

And, even though I am an AARP member, I had such a good time that I am counting the days until summer and what we call Camp Gigi (that’s me!).

So, what’s my point? It is that for those who do not have grandchildren, it’s time to find some kids who need some exercise in the neighborhood park with an older friend who thinks they are cool. Really! Being around children is like an elixir, and there are so many who need a leg up.

If you have grandchildren, lucky you, take them camping and leave their parents at home. Have them spend the weekend and take on an anything goes attitude. Give them your full attention. Listen to them. Learn from them. Get to know them better. You will be making important memories for yourself and, most importantly, for them.

Kids, Boys, Children, Playing, Making Faces, Happy


Five Things that Will Make Your She-Shed Remarkable

A She-Shed is the newest way to keep up with your husband. The “Man-Cave” is what it is, but a She-Shed is so much better because it includes these components:

  • a place to do crafting
  • a place to sew
  • a place to write
  • a place to get away from the “Madding Crowd”
  • comfort
  • beauty
  • seclusion
  • workspace
  • work tools

Well, you hear what I’m saying. If you want a space to enhance your DIY-ing, here’s a list of She-Shed necessities:

  1. Shelving – A friend of mine is building herself a She-Shed which is absolutely beautiful. She made sure to include a wall of natural wood shelves (which also happen to be floating shelves). Shelving can be beautiful aesthetically or not, but organized materials will always enhance your shed’s appearance while also giving you more room to work.

2. Those of us with a touch of OCD will probably want to use containers on the shelves to store small objects, tools, and other materials. We would also like for those containers to match in color and style. Labels, of course, make it easier to find what you have so neatly tucked away.

3. Before crafting got so popular, moms would be happy with a small space in the attic that would allow their sewing machines and themselves room to get the job done. Now that many are making part of their living by crafting and blogging, ladies feel they should at least have a room where things are organized and well-decorated. Most women who design a creative space use neutral cabinets and shelving so that their materials and supplies can add the color to the room.

4. I have a small space that connects to my bedroom that I call my “office.” I have drawers, shelves, a desk, and a comfy desk chair. But the one thing I have added to my small office that has made me the happiest is a work table. I just found an old door and placed it on two old sawhorses. I put it right in front of a window so that I could use the natural light for photographing the items I sell on Etsy. Perfect!

Rubbermaid HomeFree series closet system | by Rubbermaid Products

5. My constant go-to containers are baskets. First, I have a thing for baskets, but also they look great for organizing because they are such pretty vessels. I do not leave a flea market or a garage sale without picking up a basket of some sort. They inevitably come in handy.


I hope my friend will allow me to share the finished She-Shed when she completes her project. Be watching for that reveal!




A Great Man

Rev. Keith Tonkel died last week in Jackson, Mississippi. It was a very sad time for the hundreds, maybe thousands, who knew and loved him. His new appointment in the 60s to an inner-city church landed him at Wells Church, a place of worship that was one of the many “downtown” churches that experienced “white flight.” Keith and his wife Pat dove right in.

He was motivated to not only reach out to the people who were clinging to their lifelong place of worship, but Keith was also inspired to help the people in the neighborhood, including poor people, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, and, yes, much to the surprise of many, African-Americans.

Keith joined dozens of Methodist ministers in the state in signing a document that made it clear that the color of a person’s skin, in the great words of Martin Luther King, does not herald “the content of their character.” That alone was enough for me. His church was a church with which to be reckoned

Wells in the 1920s (Picture copied from Wells Church website)

But, the overwhelming goodness of Wells United Methodist Church is not why I am writing this piece. What I want to share is what I learned from Keith Tonkel, and what I am pretty sure everyone else who knew him learned, as well:

  1. God is love!
  2. God wants us all happy, protected, fed, accepted, healed, surrounded by friends, and loving one another.
  3. Accept the unaccepted.
  4. Give others second, third, fourth, up to ninety-ninth, chances.
  5. Have fun.
  6. Love music and sing with vigor.
  7. Ask people for help because it will bless them.
  8. Hold hands.
  9. Love and support your family and your significant others.
  10. Eat together joyously.
  11. Call everyone you meet “Babe.”
  12. It really is all about love.
  13. We are all connected. God sees us all in the same way.
  14. Give what you can to those in need.
  15. Laugh! Laugh often.
  16. “Church” is not just about being there on Sunday.

Yep, he was a great man.



Bless Your Heart

I love the phrase “Bless Your Heart.” I should since I am from the heart of the South. In my stomping grounds, this saying has several meanings.


Oh, Bless Your Heart Sign with Laurels | 12.5"x12.5" Sign | Hand Lettered | Calligraphy | Wood Sign |  Farmhouse Style Sign

When I was small, my mom would come running to rescue me from some danger, like a too close bumblebee, for example. As she scooped me up in her arms, she would say in the most endearing mother voice, “Bless your heart.” The utterance thereof made everything right in my world.


When I was a teen, my teenage group would bless the hearts of those who did not get invited to the prom, or didn’t get elected cheerleader, or hadn’t gotten their driver’s license yet. It was a half-hearted blessing, to be sure, still, we had heard our mothers say it all our lives so we just carried on the tradition.

Hands, Woman, Heart, Symbol, Female, Finger, Characters

Once I had my two boys, I realized what a convenient and focused refrain these words were. Whenever I watched my children be disappointed or sad, these three words were the only thing I could get out without letting them know my heart had jumped outside of me and was breaking right alongside theirs.

Nowadays, unfortunately, Bless Your Heart, more often than not, is used to cover up the fact that you are either:

  • bored to death
  • judging another person
  • establishing your supremacy
  • being out-and-out mean

Here’s how that goes:

“Miss Atwood, I notice your yard is growing up quite a bit. Bless your heart.”

“Sally, I heard you were not accepted into the Junior League. Bless your heart.”

“He’s as dumb as a stump. Bless his heart.”

I suggest that in this day and time, even you Northerners, Westerners, and Easterners, should start using Bless Your Heart as it was once meant to be used. Whenever you say it is sure it is authentic, such as:

“Oh, Mr. Trump, you’ve done it again. Bless your heart.”art because he got his spring cut today and he is very shy about it.

Remember, it won’t work unless you really, really mean it.

BTW – bless my Petie’s heart because he got his summer cut today, it’s very cold here, and he feels most self-conscious.


Stood still like a statue in the sweater. Did not appreciate the further embarrassment.




When the weather begins to get warmer, Mississippi is one of the Southern states that is lucky enough to have blooming flowers. We are spoiled by blooming roses, daffodils, azaleas, and many other flowering plants, trees, and shrubs. We always say a little prayer for our friends in the north that many times are struggling through yet another snow at this point.

It’s an incredible blessing, but there are also a few things that occur that are not so bright and beautiful. First, come the carpenter bees, or Xylocopa micans, who begin to swarm. Though many of the old folks say carpenter bees don’t sting, I can tell you from personal experience that they do. Especially when they feel they are in danger, which is pretty much all the time. Homeowners try to kill them with swatters, pesticides, and environmentally safe substances.


Carpenter Bee, Bee, Xylocopa, Xylocopinae, Large Bee
Carpenter Bee Attacking a Porch Rail


That brings us to the reason these bees are called carpenter bees, which is because they make their nests by burrowing into hard plants or WOOD! Now that’s a bad thing for homeowners. We have a front porch, and the railing around the porch is wooden. When the carpenter bees visit, they bore holes into the wood. In fact, if one is sitting on the porch, you can distract yourself by watching the sawdust fall from the vertical 2″ X 4″s. So they do cause some structural damage.

Related image
The Violet Carpenter Bee

But don’t let me turn you against carpenter bees because like their cousins the bumblebees, carpenter bees are dang good pollinators. In fact, some flowers only pollinate when the carpenter bees take over to “obligate pollinate.”

Insects, Bees, Wildflowers, Honeybee, Pollen, Wildlife
Bumblebee Pollinating

I know some of you entomologists out there are just waiting to finish this post so you can lecture me about safeguarding the insect population. I don’t want to kill these fabulous creatures! So share a better way to keep carpenter bees from “eating” my porch! 🙂


National Anthem Day

The Collection of Interests post for today reminded me that March 3 is the national day for thinking about our National Anthem and the topic made me happy. My father was assigned to the Coast Guard Station in Baltimore, Maryland back in the 50s, and, of course, across from the station was Norfolk, where Frances Scott Key watched the British attack on Fort McHenry.

“Born on August 1, 1779, in Frederick County, Maryland, Francis Scott Key became a lawyer who witnessed the British attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The fort withstood the day-long assault, inspiring Key to write a poem that would become the future U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”- Biography.com

As a young person, I remember going to the station to watch what were, to my young eyes, the most magnificent tours dé force of firework artistry in the world.

But the thing about “The Star-Spangled Banner” is that it is difficult to sing. It is also, at times, for some singers, experienced or not, hard to remember the rather arcane words. On many occasions this has occurred:



But here’s the version I like best by Kaitlyn Maher, who happened to be four-years-old when she sang the National Anthem. What do you think? Go ahead and click below:


Happy Star-Spangled Banner Day everybody!



This post is part of the challenge from Anne J., of https://ithinkisayido.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/city-of-magic/ and Theresa, of https://tjbarkerseattle.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/cinderella-a-classic-folk-tale-retold/, to write a new version of the Cinderella story. I write it in honor of my son, who is transgender, Adrien Lawyer Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.


Image result for drawing of young prince

When Cinderfella was young and his mom and dad were alive, his parents understood that Cindy, who they thought was their little girl, was actually a boy. It was difficult to understand. They had absolutely no idea how to handle the situation.

Needless to say, when Cinderfella lost his mother, and his father decided to remarry, the new stepmother, Lady Tremaine, was not prepared for these rather outrageous circumstances. She had two daughters who, much like their mother, were not the empathetic sort. Life became complicated and Cinderfella became extremely withdrawn and isolated.

As if things were not already difficult enough, it was only two years later that Cinderfella’s father passed away. Cinderfella was terrified.  If his own parents had problems with his gender identity, he knew that his stepmother and her daughters, Drizella and Anastasia, were not going to treat him kindly. And, as it turned out, things became even more terrible than he had imagined.

His “Steps”, as he called them, didn’t simply reject him, they forced him into servitude. He was a butler to them, only he was not paid. Imagine Cinderfella having to do all the chores and remain beside the fireplace in the basement when he was not performing his back-breaking cleaning, washing, ironing, and other repugnant jobs.

“We thought you were a girl. Why in the world do you wear boys’ clothing?” snorted Anastasia. “Drizella and I are embarassed when our friends come over. We feel uneasy when you come into our bedrooms to do your dusting.”

Cinderfella’s eyes would fill with tears when the Steps talked to him that way but he would never let them see him cry.

One summer day, Drizella came downstairs to taunt Cinderfella and waved an elaborate, bejeweled invitation in front of his eyes.

“We are going to the Princess’ Ball, so we’ll need to have our ball dresses clean and pressed before the date arrives.”

Cinderfella thought he had gone through the roughest part of his life already, but it seemed that heartache would be his natural state now.

But that night when he fell asleep, a beautiful fairy came into his deams. (He coudn’t tell if it was a girl fairy or a boy.) The fairy told him that he was going to the ball, as well. The fairy said:

“Get one of your father’s tuxedoes and be ready for the ball because after the two monster girls and their mother leave, I will have everything you need to make a spectacular entrance at the Princess’ palace!”

When the day arrived, the girls and Lady Tremaine got ready for the ball and had Cinderfella running around drawing their baths, polishing their shoes, and bringing them snacks. When they left, Cinderfella was so tired, he drifted off to sleep by the fireplace.

The fairy came again to his dream state and said:

“Your stallion awaits you, my boy!  Your patent leather boots and your silk handkerchief will be beside your horse. Just be home by midnight so you won’t get caught by the monster girls.”

Cinderfella woke up, put on his tux, and ran outside. His horse was black and had a lovely sheen to his hide. He put his stunning silk scarf in his pocket, put on his mirror-shined boots, and took off.

Image result for black stallion

When he arrived, everyone was trying to get closer to the Princess. She was not only bewilderingly beautiful, but her kindness made her glow like a hundred stars. Cinder stood there waiting for his turn to meet her, when to his amazement, she stepped away from the introduction area and walked straight toward him.

When she reached his side, she took his hand and said:

“What is your name?”

He answered, “Cinderfella.”

She replied. “Somehow I feel as though we have already met.”

They danced the night away until the midnight bell rang from a nearby church, when Cinder asked to be excused and rode home on the wind. When he arrived, the horse disappeared, and his exquisite scarf was missing.

The Princess found the scarf and had her footmen search far and wide for Cinderfella. The next week, when they visited the home of Lady Tremaine, they asked the ladies if they recognized the scarf. They all said they did not.

At that exact moment, Cinderfella came running through the room thinking that the cake he was baking could be burning. The footmen stopped him and asked if he knew to whom the scarf belonged. He told them it was his.

The rest is history (or fairytale) but when the Princess and Cinderfella reunited, they could hardly wait to be married. Before asking the Princess for her hand, Cinderfella said:

“There is something I need to share with you…”


Make your day harder! (Guest post)

I think this is exactly right. So much so that I reblogged it!

Fit Is a Feminist Issue

On the weekend, Sam and I found ourselves on this giant escalator ramp called a MOVATOR.  We were picking up a cake and samosas for a baby shower for mutual friends, and the grocery store we went to is on the second floor.  This MOVATOR locks you and your cart in place to go down to the ground floor.  (How do you say this?  Moo-va-tor?  Moe-vay-ter? moo-va-TOR? Try saying it without sounding like an ominous robot).

Both of us tend to scoot around the world at a fast clip, and being on the MOVATOR ground us to a halt.  Which got us talking again about the discussion Sam blogged about a couple of weeks ago about  walking on escalators. That conversation started out as a bit of good-natured griping on Facebook about our preference for scooting up the left side of the escalator and wondering why everyone doesn’t walk.

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My Star-Studded Movie Moments or It’s All About Me!!!


The Academy Awards are about to take place so what better time than now to share my top five movie moments. Not all of them have to do with movies exactly, but each is related to the film industry in some manner.

nora_ephron1. When the late, great, beloved Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay When Harry Met Sally, she made my life, and I think many others’ lives, a little happier. I went to the theater by myself, got a bag of freshly popped popcorn, and sat in my favorite seat on the very last row of the theater. The show began and it was more wondrous than I had even imagined it would be. Every little piece of my experience was prime. As I left the theater, hanky in hand, I said to myself, “Never forget these last few hours because they were priceless.”

charlton2. I had the joy of being in New York with my two sisters years ago, and we were staying in, what else, The Pierre Hotel. One of my sisters was a quite personable and very outspoken. The other of my sisters is shy. We walked onto the elevator and who should be riding down with us but Charleston Heston. For you whippersnappers, he starred in Ben Hur oh so many years ago. My people-loving sister said, “Mr. Heston, I would like for you to meet my sisters.” My shy sister was trying not to faint as I looked on with pride and approval. He didn’t seem that interested in the introduction but he was civil.


3. My son and I were in New Orleans in 1992-ish taking a break from a conference we were attending. As we were strolling along the River Walk, we saw that there was filming going on. Both of us are film geeks, so naturally, we walked through the crowd scene as they were shooting. The movie was The Pelican Brief, and an interesting and probably forgotten piece of trivia is that Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett were cuddling on the set. Later we heard they married. Very short union!


4. Beth Henley, a playwright from right here in Mississippi, wrote a play, The Miss Firecracker Contest, that was later adapted for the big screen. The film was funny, very Southern, and uplifting. When I heard that filming was taking place in nearby Yazoo City, I grabbed my sons and off we went. We were going to be in this movie. Through several hot days, we baked in the scorching Mississippi summer sun. Lucky for us, when we heard the fireworks scene was shooting at night, we trekked back for one last chance. I kept trying to be in a place where I would be seen in the shot. When I found the perfect spot, the director said I was wearing too much white. I grabbed my purse, pulled out a scarf, and tied it around my skirt. If you pause at exactly the right second, you can see me reclining on the knoll.



5. And, last, but not least (remember, it’s all about me), to make a long story short, I drove to Canton, Mississippi because Sandra Bullock was starring in A Time to Kill and I was hoping to make the cut as a town member. I was standing on the street when Joel Schumaker, the director, came walking toward me. I asked if he had something to tell me concerning my walk through a scene. He told me he didn’t, but he did need to use the restroom where I was standing.

I’m not saying I had a stellar career in the world of cinema but I will say I have had a few neat experiences.:)

A Good Match

via Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Ben Huberman on the Daily Post challenged his readers to come up with a “good match.” Mine is a bottle arrangement I made in my bedroom. I’m crazy for bottles, and I love colors, so this is a perfect decor statement for me. My OCD kicks in from time-to-time and makes me rearrange the locations of the bottles within the arrangement, but that makes me happy, too.

Here’s how they look:


Can you tell my tastes fall somewhere between Gypsy, Bohemian, dumpster-diving?