Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twenty Ten.

Wherever you are, whatever your plans, I hope this new year finds us all happier, healthier, and much wiser!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fa la la.

I'm having one of those holiday frenzy days that makes me want to scream. Or cry. Or both. Which is odd, considering the Reason for the Season.

So before I head home for Christmas, I'm reminding myself of a few things:
a) I'm going to try -- really hard -- to remember why we celebrate this holiday.
b) I am blessed and fortunate to have family and friends who love me.
c) Life, when it comes down to it, is good. Really good.
d) Nothing is insurmountable.

I hope you all have a beautiful celebration of our Lord's birth.

That is, after all, why we're getting ourselves all worked up. Right?  :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Henry Poole Is Here (no spoilers included).

I watched "Henry Poole Is Here" on Netflix, thinking it would be more of a comedy than a deep-thinking indie film. (I also assumed I was in the mood for a comedy, but this was perfect for me at the time I watched it.)

Even if I don't agree with them all, I love reading books and watching movies that make me think in different ways, and this one did just that. Starring Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, and other recognizable actors (like George Lopez), the film was well put together, and definitely made for something I'll be mulling over for a while.

So, without adding any spoilers, if you like that sort of thing, too, I highly recommend checking this out.

But maybe not if you know you need an out-and-out comedy. ;-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finding my happy place.

I could've told you this before the article below was even thought about, much less published, but I've found my happy place.  Louisiana is definitely close enough to home to have the look(ish) and feel of the (MS Gulf) Coast, yet in a spot where I can learn and explore newness, which makes my redheaded self full of joy.

However, I guess someone leaked this bit o' news to the press, so now everybody knows:

States ranked from happiest to least cheerful


WASHINGTON -- A new study found that people who report more satisfaction with their lives live in states that score well on things like good schools, low crime and short commuting time, perhaps a first objective look at why some states are happier than others.

The state-by-state list, from happiest to least cheery:

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. South Carolina
7. Mississippi
8. Montana
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Wyoming
12. Alaska
13. North Carolina
14. South Dakota
15. Texas
16. Idaho
17. Vermont
18. Arkansas
19. Georgia
20. Utah
21. Oklahoma
22. Delaware
23. Colorado
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. Virginia
28. New Hampshire
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Ohio
44. Massachusetts
45. Illinois
46. California
47. New Jersey
48. Indiana
49. Michigan
50. Connecticut
51. New York

Again... No shock to me that my current residence is #1 and my home state is #7 out of 51, but for those of you who didn't know how awesome the deep South is, FYI. And come see us! :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I know the heart of life is good.

I'm pretty sure I've posted this before, simply because I'm in mad love with it. But I'm doing it again, simply because I need it. :-)

John Mayer has this crazy great song, "The Heart of Life." The lyrics and performance are below -- I hope you like it. Especially if you need it this week, too.


I hate to see you cry

Lying there in that position

There's things you need to hear

So turn off your tears and listen

Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

No, it won't all go the way it should

But I know the heart of life is good

You know it's nothing new

Bad news never had good timing

Then the circle of your friends

Will defend the silver lining

Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

No, it won't all go the way it should

But I know the heart of life is good

(Whistle Interlude)

Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

Fear is a friend who's misunderstood

But I know the heart of life is good

I know it's good

Good stuff.


It's been quite a week. I love country music, but this week has reminded me of the longest country song ever -- and not necessarily in a good way. Regardless, I'm sure I can drum up five things I'm thankful for. :-)

1. The happiness and sweet joy my family's precious dog Tractor brought to us over the years.

2. Calm.

3. Kid stories. They are so funny and sometimes keep me going! I'm not sure if I would appreciate them as much if I were sleep-deprived with my own, but I'm sure I would. ;-)

4. Christmas lights. Isn't it something how they can really brighten the spirit as well as a tree, or wreath, or yard, or home?

5. Friends and family who are there. Just there. With no demands. Incredibly great.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life is better off a mystery.

I owe a humongous shout-out to Sara Ferren, my third (?) cousin (who feels much closer, thanks to the beauty and love that was my great-Aunt Mildred, and her great-grandmother).
Sara posted part of these lyrics as her Fbk status tonight. In ways I probably couldn't really articulate to anyone today, I so needed the reminder of this song, and its meaning, and all that it refreshes my heart for when I delve into it.

A video clip of Caedmon's Call's "Faith My Eyes" is here:

And the lyrics to Caedmon's Call's "Faith My Eyes" are here:

As I survey the ground for ants

Looking for a place to sit and read

I'm reminded of the streets of my hometown

How they're much like this concrete that's warm beneath my feet

And how I'm all wrapped up in my mother's face

With a touch of my father just up around the eyes

And the sound of my brother's laugh

But more wrapped up in what binds our ever distant lives

But if I must go

Things I trust will be better off without me

But I don't want to know

Life is better off a mystery

So keep'em coming these lines on the road

And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load

And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise

And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

Hometown weather is on TV

I imagine the lives of the people living there

And I'm curious if they imagine me

Cause they just wanna leave; I wish that I could stay

And to visit places from my past

But only for an hour or so

Which is long enough to smell the air

To tell the tale and find the door

But I get turned around

I mistake my happiness for blessing

But I'm blessed as the poor

Still I judge success by how I'm dressing

So I'll sing a song of my hometown

I'll breathe the air and walk the streets

Maybe find a place to sit and read

And the ants are welcome company

And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

This was a favorite of mine in college, and I love that Sara can appreciate and live it as she experiences that stage of life as well. There's never a bad time to make the effort to walk with grace and see with faith.

(This, for the record, is by far not the best or only touching song by Caedmon's Call. Check 'em out. Their lyrics are heartfelt, Scripturally sound, and incredibly pointed.)

And thanks again, Sara.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Drinking the Kool-Aid.

I've never been great with sales.

Public relations, personal encouragement, and talking things and people up that I believe in, sure. But sales? Ehhhh.... I just feel bad when asking peeps to part with their money. You know?

When I was a kid and had to sell things for school fundraisers, I would end up trying to talk my neighbors out of purchases. I distinctly remembering asking Mrs. Larsen down the road if she really needed another candle, because the ones in my catalog did seem a little expensive. Needless to say, the Girl Scouts weren't exactly knocking my door down to come join in their cookie-pushing.

A few months ago, I listened to a friend's pitch about a product, thought it sounded good, but told her that no way, no how -- I could NOT sell this to anyone, no matter how great it was. And that's been true. I do think it's a big product, but have a hard time asking anyone to listen to a pitch and part with money that they might not want to spend on something.

Blogging, however, doesn't feel so pushy. You choose to read this. If you want to know more, you can ask me. If you think I'm crazy, you can tell me (or not). If you don't give a rip, you can ignore this and go on.

I'm good with that.

The product I fell for is called Zoegetics. I dreaded attending the presentation but love my friends who were hosting it and so jazzed about it, so I went to hear the spiel. Turns out, after hearing what the products are about, being very impressed with the company's start-up, mission and ethics, and thoroughly Googling for a week or two, I just couldn't for the life of me find a reason not to at least give it a shot.

Zoe's main product is a powder you mix with water (or other drinks -- I like to alternate it in fruity stuff like G2 or Fuze).

It contains about a million antioxidants, quite a few servings of fruits and vegetables, a good dose of fiber, and other things that you can get more details on via the Zoe website. There is also a common side effect of weight loss, though the company does not promote it as a diet-type product.

In addition, the company manufactures "green" cleaning products, including cleaners for virtually every room of the house, as well as all-natural laundry detergents. (And it all smells good.)

Bare truth: I haven't been diligent with using Zoe. I've been sick a lot this summer/fall/winter, and sometimes anything other than water and tea seems icky. But I keep thinking -- how can getting those servings of fruits and veggies be bad for me? How can loading up on antioxidants hurt me?

Also, as you can probably tell from my first few paragraphs, I haven't been diligent in talking up Zoe. No one's pressuring me to, but I really do believe it's a good thing, so this blog post is my way of letting the universe know about it.

If you're still reading and are interested in the product, leave a comment, email me at, and by all means, check out the website for any questions you might have.

The friend who sold me on it has a blog, too, so you can read more firsthand accounts there.

For those who are gravely disappointed in me for falling for this, I'm sorry it has to be this way. I never thought I'd be "that person," either, and promise on my life's happiness that I am not pushing this on you!

Even if I did end up drinking the Kool-Aid.

On the Nightstand: In The Sanctuary of Outcasts

I recently finished one of the most stellar, well-written, and compelling non-fiction books I've come across in at least two years.

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, a memoir by Mississippi-born and bred and former Louisiana resident Neil White, is a detailed account of one man's drive for success, his mistakes, and his payment for those errors. Not only is the writing ridiculously captivating and page-turning for any reader, but the entire novel is set in Mississippi (mainly Oxford and the Gulf Coast), and Louisiana (New Orleans, the Baton Rouge area, and Carville).

Ok. I'm going to stop trying to summarize this work myself and just quote the author's own website:

Daddy is going to camp. That’s what I told my children. A child psychologist suggested it. “Words like prison and jail conjure up dangerous images for children,” she explained.

But it wasn’t camp.

Neil White, a journalist and magazine publisher, wanted the best for those he loved—nice cars, beautiful homes, luxurious clothing. He loaned money to family and friends, gave generously to his church, and invested in his community—but his bank account couldn’t keep up. Soon Neil began moving money from one account to another to avoid bouncing checks. His world fell apart when the FBI discovered his scheme and a judge sentenced him to eighteen months in federal prison.

But it was no ordinary prison. The isolated, beautiful colony in Carville, Louisiana was also home to the last people in the continental United States disfigured by leprosy. Hidden away for decades, this small circle of outcasts forged a tenacious, clandestine community, a fortress to repel the cruelty of the outside world. It is here, in a place rich with history, where the Mississippi River briefly runs north, amidst an unlikely mix of leprosy patients, nuns, and criminals, that Neil’s strange and compelling journey begins. He finds a new best friend in Ella Bounds, an eighty-year-old, African-American, double-amputee who had contracted leprosy as a child. She and the other secret people, along with a wacky troop of inmates, help Neil re-discover the value of simplicity, friendship and gratitude.

Funny and poignant, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts is an uplifting memoir that reminds us all what matters most.

I really do highly recommend this read for anyone who likes great writing, interesting non-fiction, sheer honesty, and other people's views of the South.

Also, if any of you hear of a book signing with this guy anywhere in Louisiana or Mississippi, please let me know. I'd really like to meet him.

And finally, thanks a billion to Angela Long, who recommended it to me! Best read in a while, by far.

Let it Sneaux, Let it Sneaux...

Ok. So I know the song traditionally repeats that line three times. But since this is the second year in a row* we've gotten snow in Baton Rouge, I couldn't help but stop at two. 

*(By the way, in case you don't know, getting winter weather in the South is kind of a big deal... Much less in Baton Rouge, Lousiana... Much less TWO YEARS IN A ROW!)

(And for those who may not know the reasoning behind the "eaux" spelling I use so often, it's the Cajun-French word assimilation for the pronunciation "oh." When I was growing up on the MS Gulf Coast, for instance, Dedeaux was pronounced "dee-doh.")

So, back to topic. BR was predicted for a "wintery mix" this past weekend, and a wintery mix we got! It was part snow, much rain, some sleet, and bitter cold (for these parts, at least).  I've been falling apart and down with allergies for the majority of my residency here, including last weekend, so I missed getting out and about in the wintery mix. But I did brave the cold for a few seconds here and there to get some shots outside of my balcony door. :-)

Our wintery mix had a lot of rain, happened around 7ish, and didn't stick, but it was fun and seasonally exciting just the same!

1. Snow from my balcony! This shot proved I was not hallucinating, which was a huge relief.
2. My new (to me) car, Lady Bling, gets her first snow, which she took very, very well.

Friday, December 4, 2009


It's hard NOT to steal the "Saintsgiving" rename of the holiday with New Orleans (finally!) doing so well this season, and given my nephew's new obsession with football and love for our Saints.

Our family got together for Thanksgiving last week and had such a great time catching up and visiting. We also ate a little bit...but anyway. :-) We were able to take Thanksgiving dinner to Nan and Pop Ball's, who have dealt with major health issues this year, and get some good visiting in.

And since my sister and her family alternate holidays between both sets of in-laws, we also tied Christmas in with Thanksgiving the next night.

For Christmas this year, my parents and I gave my nephew a Saints uniform, which to our delight, could not have gone over better. Caleb was SO cute as he opened his helmet, then his whole uniform, then his football. He couldn't get into the uniform fast enough, leaving his original outfit laying by the hallway. :-) I, of course, couldn't get enough pictures of him in that precious uniform. It was just big enough for him to be able to wear it for a while, and hello -- is there anything cuter than a child in a too-big football helmet?!

The next day, he played a good bit in the yard with Grandpa, who was more than happy to toss the football and frisbee with Caleb, take him on a tractor ride, and have their traditional race. They were so cute and I, much to everyone's shock, got tons of pictures to commemorate the fun.

Also involved in the weekend were roasting marshmallows (yay for a coastal Thanksgiving cold enough for a fire!), making Mississippi mud with Grammi, lots of battles between the Army, British, Cowboy & Indian figures Caleb brought along, and several movie viewings, including "The Alamo" and "Night at the Museum."

And my weekend was capped off by a situation I ALWAYS love -- time with cousins and childhood friends, who, when the moon is just right, all get to come together for some quality, invaluable hangout time when we're all home. (Naturally, I forgot my camera. It's tradition.)

All in all, it was a fantastic time all the way around, with a good balance for me of work, play, home, and getting out and about. must be 'bout them Saints?!