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Friday, September 30, 2011

Road Blocks

Most of you have probably heard the motivational mantra "Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance".  I am a firm believer in that plan.  Anytime in my life that I have faced huge road blocks it has almost always been associated with my failure to prepare.  I have learned  (and I often share this with younger people so they might not have to learn through their own ineptness) that it is absolutely a necessity to prepare for every single task PRIOR to the undertaking .

Doesn't matter if it's cooking, requiring you to check your cabinets for ingredients BEFORE you are half way through making the dish. Painting a room, removing as much as possible from the room and prepping the walls, or doing your laundry, sorting and making sure you have detergent.  It doesn't matter what the task is, it always goes better if you prepare.

Big jobs like buying a new car can be done with no preparation at all.  You can certainly go to the car dealer and look at cars and sign your name or write your check and drive a new car home. No preparation.  If you take the time to properly prepare by researching the available models and checking prices and availability in your area, you will no doubt have a less stressful and better experience.  You may even leave with the right car at the right price.

I also find that my days go so much smoother if I just take a few minutes each morning and plan my day.  I need to accomplish certain things almost every day, so I PLAN them out.  I don't have to adhere to that plan exactly, but I find that I usually do it because I get more done by doing so.  I like being organized. I like running errands in a sensible way.  Farthest errand first and stopping on my way back home to do others.  It just makes sense to me.  Why spend half my time running circles when a few minutes of planning will create a day of accomplishments.

I try to foresee any possible road blocks when I make my plan.  Any plan.  I imagine what could go wrong and make a plan B.  Road blocks don't usually send me screaming, but if I think they might, I want another plan already in place,

All of this being said, I still run into unexpected and unforeseeable Road Blocks, as we all do.  Those I just have to deal with head on.  After analyzing what IS, I decide what I need to do.  Then do it.  If I can't do it myself, then I call someone who can.  If I can't do anything at all about the Road Block, then I accept that it exists and either scrap the project or find another way to git 'er done.

Road Blocks are just mental exercises for each of us to flex our brain, a muscle sometimes underused.

Success usually is a matter of working around, under or through life's ROAD BLOCKS.


Hall-o-ween What to Wear?

Over the years I have seen some crazy and outlandish costumes and I have worn a couple myself.  All of the employees in our salon would dress-up each year, making sure we could work in what we were wearing.  

I was a nurse, well endowed and comfy shoes.  I was Dolly Parton, well endowed and 4 inch heels. I was a witch, nope not this one. I was a hooker, well endowed and 4 inch heels.  I was a bag lady, very over weight and wearing 2 pair of socks.  (I loved that one! Talk about your comfortable costume!)  I was a clown, not comfortable and not well endowed.  There were others, but my favorite was the year I decided to be a man.

Yes, I said a man.  A yuppie, in fact.  I had short hair, so I gelled it back in a slicked kind of Wall Street style; scrubbed my face and then applied a small amount of darker foundation to the 'beard' area.  I used ace bandage to 'remove' my own natural endowment. I wore a black suit, a white shirt and tie, loosened at the neck slightly and red in color.  The power tie, relaxed.  I wore black socks and black tie 'boy' style shoes. I wore black large rimmed glasses and lowered my voice, which is already a low register.  I kept my voice soft all day.  I am not a soft speaker, in my real life.  My nails are usually long and painted.  I removed the paint and cut them man-style.  I wore zero jewelry.

Not one single person recognized me as I went through my day.  Not even my co-workers until I spoke.  (In my own voice to tell them I didn't need to sign in, I didn't have an appointment.) The woman at the bank refused to give my our bank bags because she said I wasn't on the list.  I picked the bags up Monday through Friday each week.  I was speaking to her.  It was so much fun.  Absolutely the most fun day at work in costume that I can remember.  And the simplest costume.

Oh, and no giant bah-boom-bahs to work around all day or accidentally smack my clients in the head with as I cut, combed or styled their hair.  Not to mention the eyes I poked while shampooing!

Ah...and not a single picture from that Halloween.  I have no clue why not.  

Memories.  he he he he


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two for Tuesday Recipes

For Tuesday's Tasty Treat...or Two Meals for One Effort!

Begin by boiling 5 chicken breasts...Skin removed...until they are cooked through.  Usually 45 minutes is perfect.
Strain the broth after cooking and return the clear broth to the stove.  Add carrots, shredded or chopped, about 2 cups is good.  Chop a medium onion finely and add to broth.  Season with:
Celery seed, garlic powder, cumin, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  I use about 2 Tbsp each...adjust to your taste. Allow this to come to a good boil and then turn to simmer and add three of the chicken you have shredded or chopped.
   Allow your soup to simmer a good hour for rich full flavor.  About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, add 1 cup water or chicken broth and two handfuls of small egg noodles.  Cover and let simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.
Garnish with a bit of cilatro for a little zip or use parsley if you aren't a cilantro fan.

The Chicken Salad to die for.

The remainder of the shredded or chopped chicken
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 small onion very finely chopped
To this add the dressing and stir well.  Best if made 1 day in advance of serving.

3/4 cup mayo
1 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp dill relish
Sprinkle with Salad Supreme
Salt and Pepper
A drizzle of olive oil

I prefer to serve this salad on rye buns, but whatever your favorite will be great.

Two meals in less than 30 minutes of actual kitchen time.......and it's goooooooooooood.


Monday, September 26, 2011


This weeks prompt from GBE2 is "Judgment"  so here's my take.

Judgment is not supposed to be for us to dole out.  It is for God and God alone to judge our lives, our choices, our actions.  That is how it is supposed to be and I try not to judge others.  I try, but there are times I find myself decidedly judging people for their live style or their choices.  I really fight with myself about doing so because I don't want to be judged through someone else's eyes.  Do unto know that one, right?  Judge not that ye be judged, right?  

The people I find myself judging are those who injure a child or neglect a child or those who cause pain to others just because they can.  I find myself discounting people who operate in a world where their wants and needs are more important than the wants and needs of someone else.  Selfishness is very hard for me to accept without judgment.  What kind of person deliberately causes pain and harm to another human, let alone a child, and somehow feels that it's okay because they wanted to, what?  What did they want to accomplish that in their mind makes it okay to damage another human to satisfy or advance themselves?  Or gain something they want or need.  It's very difficult for me to NOT judge these people as evil and a waste of our good air;  but I tell myself, "my job is to forgive them," if they have caused pain to me or mine, and pray for them.  If I have just read about them or the news told me of them, I just need to pray for them, not to judge them.  It's a process for me.

I also find myself judging people who use others.  I know in this life, at least, we cannot use others to their detriment and our gain without paying for that in one way or another at some point.  My grandmother told me when I was a little one that I should never try to get even with people because God's revenge is so much better than mine.  I believe that.  God evens things out in ways we would never think of on our own. I do remember that when I see a 'user' in action whether they are trying to use me or someone else, but I fight the urge to judge them as pitiful.  Instead, I need to just pray that someday they will see what they have done and repent.  Not something I easily believe will happen, but one can hope.

Otherwise, in my own life, I find judging unnecessary.  I love the diversity of human beings.  I embrace the idea that the world is filled with people who are so different than I and each of them make our world a happier and more productive place to live.  I love that we are all individually shaped into whatever we have become from whatever template God chose for each of us.  What we do with that template is so interesting and exciting. I love how people change because of their circumstances and their choices.  We become who we are because of where we've been and how we chose to handle each situation.  That is not to be judged, but admired.

It is NOT for us to judge, lest we be judged.  It is, however, for us to distance ourselves from those who cause harm, while we pray for their salvation.  It is a world which contains harmful and evil actions by people who chose that path.  It is also a world which contains saviors and friends and angels whom we may choose to keep close.  

I choose to seek those people out and hold them very close.   

:)  Jo

Friday, September 23, 2011

What Do You Love

BFF  prompt for today is What do you love?
 Easy-peasy one.

I love God.

I love summer.                                                          
I love babies.
I love dogs.
I love writing.
I love my life.
I love my husband.
I love my Momma.
I love my children.
I love my grandchildren.
I love my sister.
I love my brother.
I love my sisters-in-law.
I love my brothers-in-law.
I love my nieces.
I love my nephews.
I love my friends.
I love flowers.
I love driving.
I love road trips.
I love cruises.
I love Hawaii.
I love Arizona.
I love the Caribbean Islands.
I love cooking.
I love reading.
I love TV.
I love my computer.
I love my neighbors.
I love my little town.
I love a good steak.
I love my country.
I love being retired.
I love most of my memories.
I love most of my past.

And if you're still reading this, 
and aren't in any of the above categories, 
I love you, too.

<3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Changing Leaves of Fall

This is, without question, my least favorite time of year.  Living in Michigan means fall can begin anytime from the middle of August or as late as the end of October. Doesn't matter to me when it starts, I dislike every single minute of it.  First it makes the trees all turn fiery bright beautiful colors which most people love to photograph and make long drives just to admire this natural splendor. 

I find it heart-wrenching to look at the fall colors.  

They are the signal that the leaves are dying and the trees are about to hibernate.  All of the beautiful flowers of summer, except my giant marigolds, are dying slow daily deaths.  Some will be back in the Spring and others are at the end of their life span.  

Everything dies in the fall.  

The pool has to be closed soon and I will be looking at the pool cover outside my kitchen window for the next 5 months.  No pretty blue vacuum swimming around Jake jumping in to fetch his toy.  He will, however be running across the cover because he apparently likes the sound it makes.  I do not.

The air is cooler.  The sun shines less.  The grass stops growing. 

While I embrace change in general in my life, I do not embrace the changing seasons. I am a summer girl.  Solar powered. Energized by the heat and humidity.  Reaffirmed by floating or swimming around the pool.  Creatively inspired by the grilling on the deck and watching my carefully tended flowers bloom and grow.  Motivated by the morning cotd ritual (coffee on the deck).  

Fall leads to the cold dead winter. The holidays and birthdays of October, November and December keep me going and then we  hit January, February and March.  UGH   I begin to perk up as March ends because mid-April I will open the pool again. Spring isn't my favorite, but at least from there I can see the birthing of summer.  

So to all the football fans, all the cool weather fans...I say, "Please enjoy YOUR season.  Just don't ask me to enjoy it with you!  I'll be hibernating until the holidays."

That's it.  Fall sucks.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday Eggplant Lasagna

My first posting for Tasty Tuesday!  Yummo mama!

Eggplant Lasagna (serves 4)

1 med sized eggplant-cut into think strips lengthwise  (brown lightly in olive oil)
1 jar prepared pasta sauce (or 2 cups of your own homemade)
2 Cups each mozzarella, shredded and provolone, shredded
1 large egg mixed into  1 Cup cottage cheese
1 # ground sirloin, browned and broken up

Preheat oven to 375*

In a baking dish  (8X10  is perfect) spread thin layer of sauce on the bottom.  Top with slices of eggplant, then mozzarella cheese (1/2), ground meat (!/2), spoon fulls of cottage cheese mix (1/2) and repeat the layers.  Ending with all of the provolone cheese generously on top of the last bit of sauce.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and the cheese is nicely melted and lightly browned.

I serve with garlic toast and pasta here, the eggplant is the pasta!


Monday, September 19, 2011


The GBE2 prompt for this week is "Loyalty"

In years gone by it was always my belief that employers felt a certain amount of loyalty to their employees for supporting the company, creating strong customer bases, building a great product, doing whatever the company needed to be successful.  That the employees who went above and beyond would be given special treatment now and again because they were such a loyal and important part of said company.  I was shown this type of loyalty for many years.

I also believed that employees felt loyalty to their employers because they received a pay check from them and that in turn paid their bills and made their life better.  I always felt I owed my bosses my best and I gave it.  I felt I owed them my loyalty and I gave it.  

That was then.  Today, working relationships between bosses, owners or managers and their employees is not the same.  The loyalty seems to have disappeared.  You are a valued employer as long as no one is offering more money for less work.  You are a valued employee as long as no one is willing to do your job for less.  Loyalty for past performance or dedication on either side, has evaporated for most.  

Perhaps, this is why I am enjoying my retirement so much.  I last worked for a company that I loved.  I mean loved.  I wanted the success of that particular salon (one of thousands owned by the corp.) much more than anyone at corporate and more even than the district manager.  She had other salons to worry about and I had only this one.  I also had no say about anything!  Just a chair and a sink, product and skill.  I was the business to every person who sat in my chair.  No one at corporate existed to my clients.  My loyalty was to my clients.  My loyalty was not to the faceless voices who sent down orders and rules.  My clients were loyal to me.  They didn't care who else called the shots, they cared about me and my ability to make them look good.  They were loyal to me, because I did that.  I was loyal to them because they paid my bills.

I was loyal to them because I liked them.  

I think I liked that way of thinking much more than the corporate rules and regulations of how to talk to, how to deal with, how to be a hairdresser in the new millennium.  I'm old, but I still know how to respect people and earn their respect.  Sadly, that is just not that common now.

The corporate life is good for many people, but I think for me, it was time to hang up my license and not try to build a bridge of loyalty between myself and an entity that could care less about employee number 357206523-Durand.  Yeah, that's not for me.


Do You Want To Know A Secret?

A BFF prompt for this dreary Monday...

I am a good secret keeper, but the prompt tells me I should share one!  Okay, I think I could share a couple of them, but I will just pick one today.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you could literally taste the desire, but you knew it wouldn't just happen?  You knew you had to MAKE it happen?  I have something in my life that is in that category and yet I seem to lack the actual motivation to MAKE it happen.  Maybe if I get it out of my head and share it, I'll then find the motivation to follow through.

I have been asked to write my Mom's story.  My sister, my brother and some of the nieces and my son, for sure, would like to have this book or pamphlet, as my Mom says.  I would love to write it.  I want it done.  I just can't seem to really start it.  I have some notes from our talks.  I have ideas I have jotted down and I know a bunch of stuff that I have NOT written down.  I also know the best way to get this book done is to set aside a day each week and just sit and talk with her.  Jogging her memory with questions until I get the story in order and fairly accurate.  Some of her memories are confused with times and/or who exactly was involved. Though she is quite sure she has it right when she tells me, a day or so later she'll tell me it wasn't that at all.  So, it's a process.

Why am I not full speed into this project I want to do so badly?  That's the secret.

Somehow, my wandering and sometimes unstable mind seems to think that the writing of her story could mean the end of her story.  There, I said it.  I am afraid to sum up a life that is still going strongly.  A life that is so much a part of my life that I don't really want to make it a memoir. I have tried to convince myself that it would just be a "her life to this point" book, but ...

I am so lucky to have her and I am so happy to hear these stories and even to make notes about them.  I am just not sure it is a book I can write while I have the real thing in my life.  I might be able to, once I get started seriously undertaking the challenge of the project, but I don't know.  So far, I haven't even gotten to that point.

That's one of my deep dark secrets.  No more sharing today.  That's enough for me.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Rainbows Over My Head

BFF picture prompt...

Looking up and seeing a rainbow arcing across a still damp sky always makes me feel hopeful.  I am not a big fan of rain or storms, as some are, but a rainbow following seems to be God's promise of greener foliage and brighter flower colors and a new freshly washed moment in time.  

A promise that tells us we do get another chance to get it right.  Some of us need more than one more chance.  Glad there is no limit on how many rainbows can occur in one's lifetime.  

Even the ever changing colors in the trees beneath this rainbow can't dampen my spirits.  The fall colors are not inspiring for me, not exciting as they are to so many of you, but with a rainbow hanging hopefully high above them, they don't look so sad to me.  

Perhaps the rainbow is trying to brighten their colors and convince them to hold tight to their leaves just a bit longer.  Or perhaps, I am doing that and using the rainbow as my own personal 'tool'.  

Children often choose rainbows as their favorite thing.  I think it's the way one can hardly be sad or even indifferent when you see one.  Rainbows require our attention and they also require that we appreciate their uniqueness and their beauty. 

They are rare and therefore, precious.  They are beautiful and therefore, admired.  They are yet another of God's gifts to us and therefore, free.

Wishing you all a rainbow in your day.  If not a literal one, a figurative one.  


I think I am going to like being here...more time with great people and more blogs to read and comment on!  Please share your thoughts with me below, I will respond...eventually!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Year Ago

Please leave your thoughts...I love when you do that!

One year ago...this weeks word prompt on GBE2...jeesh.  Okay, I can do this.

I spend very little time looking back or thinking back to even a week ago, let alone a year ago.  I am challenged to even remember what was going on in my life, never mind my mind in September of 2010.

My oldest granddaughter was getting married that month and I remember thinking that 22 years flew by because try as I did at that time, I could not account for even half of those years.  The main events of my life in the years since her birth seemed to all run together.  I could remember high lights, of course, but not in chronological order.  The births of the rest of the grandchildren and the marriages of the other kids fell in place in order, but otherwise, the vacations, the special dates with Mike, special times with Mom and my sister or my best friend, the divorces of two of our kids,  those all seemed just to have happened at sometime in that span of time.  I'm really not good at looking back!

I do know that I am not the same person I was then.  I am sure that I have evolved in some small way because that is what aging really is.  As each year passes, we become a little 'more' than we were.  I, for example, am a little grayer than I was last September.  I am a little lazier.  I, absolutely, am happier in my life choices since retirement happened since then.  I am more free.  I am also more melancholy.  When I try to think back, I find I get just a bit sad.  Time goes way too fast and our lives are just whizzing by while we either run to keep up or sit and watch it pass.  I do a bit of both.  I am currently in ...  oops, this is about last year.  Sorry.

I celebrated by husband's birthday, my son's birthday and the aforementioned granddaughter's birthday in September of 2010, much as I have every September since each of them came along.

I am certain that I was beginning my annual fall depression.  I am deeply involved in that right now.  I get to pretend on the warm and sun filled days that it isn't happening and I can be happy and productive on those days.  But the overcast or cooler days, the rainy days and the changing of the leaves and dying of my beautiful summer flowers...all that sends me inside of myself.  I am not very good company even for myself on those days.  I am sure I was there a year ago and I don't want to remember that.

One year ago I did not have time to paint my house which needed every single room refreshed. It is now done.  I did not have any idea how we would manage to get a new winter cover for the pool because the cost was much higher than I had guessed.  We want the automatic cover that works as a solar cover, safety cover and winter cover.  It is key operated and we will be able to open and close our pool seasonally without having to pay someone to do that for us.  That has now been ordered and should be installed within the month.  

I did not know that I would have a new grandchild this year...come November, I shall have that!

A year ago I was deciding my future.  I began to think about retiring and I began to worry that we would outlive our money, as old people are apt to do.  The worrying part, not the outliving part.  I wondered if I would be sorry.  Wondered if I would be broke in a year.  I'm neither.   

This is just too depressing...I'm back to living now.  This reflection is not healthy for someone my age in my general state of mind with limited resources available.  I am beginning to think I did nothing for an entire year and I swear to you, I did some stuff.  I lived every single day and I even enjoyed most of them.  I just don't have a clue doing what!

*sigh*  A year ago was 12 months ago and everything I did then and until this moment in time has changed me somehow in some way and added to the total being I am today. 

Not sure it's a good thing, but it's true enough.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Liebster Award Winner

Thank you Jennifer!  I am humbled and shocked and my modesty prevents me from saying also thrilled!  Ha ha ha, maybe not.

The Liebster Award is given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. It works on the principle of “paying it forward.” Once you get it, you’re supposed to pass it on to five others. Thanks to Jennifer Wilck for awarding it to me! You can check out her blog here: It’s great fun so please play along.;

My choices are....drum roll please...pppddddddddddddddddddddddddppppdddddddddddddddddd

Julie Baird
Steven Clark
Gary Smith (to encourage him to WRTIE)
Elizabeth Grace
Amy McMunn Schindler

Each is special for their own individual reason!  <3 to all of you

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Please leave your thoughts...I love when you do that!

As a child I was the youngest and the one who could often be found looking for a private spot to call my own.  My parents allowed this strange behavior without question and my sister and brother didn't think it normal, but also put up with my moving my personal things into a closet or the back room of our house.  The 'room' was meant for storage and did contain some stuff my parents kept there, but it was easy enough to clear out part of it to claim as my room.  Since my sister and I always shared a room, my privacy was important.  I was a loner in every sense of the word.  I liked playing with my babies alone or reading alone or making up stories alone.  I had friends, but none living very close by after  age 8.  Prior to that, I did have a friend next door at two different houses, two different friends.  Then I still craved my alone space, but to share with them mostly, without my sister or her stuff interfering.  She, of course, thought I was the one interfering and she wasn't wrong, I loved being around her and her friends, but I wasn't really wanted there.  Being  5 years younger than she, we had little in common.  Those 5 years are nothing now and we have a great deal in common.

I don't know how, but my mother understood my need for my own space and not only allowed me to move into any closet I chose or any other place I found, she even helped me find blankets or pillows or whatever else I thought I needed and she respected my needs.  I am still in need of alone time and space and she still respects that need.

When I had children of my own, I thought I would know to raise them.  I thought I would be a good mom because I had a good mom and I would just KNOW.  Well, some things I did just seem to know, but other things, as they grew and challenged me, I had to talk over with my mom or my sister or my friends and then decide what course to take.  Looking back now, I remember that most times my mom would tell me, using similar words the same thing over and over.  She would tell me that I was raising independent children that would be able to live on their own and in order to get there, I would have to allow them to learn from their mistakes. I could not always 'fix' things for them.  As difficult as that is for a control freak like me, I did try to do that, sometimes.  I knew it was good advice and I knew that I needed to learn how to butt out of  situations into which their own decisions had landed them.  They had to learn the consequences of their decisions.  Very hard for this mom to do, but most of the time, I did that.

They are in their 40's now and responsible, independent parents.  They are better parents than they had, for sure.  I watch them raising my grandchildren with such a good combination of love and discipline that I am sure they have been studying every parenting book on the market.  Yet, I know that they actually developed these skills on their own.  They learned from me, their spouses, their friends and each other.  Each generation gets better at parenting because they repeat the good and avoid the bad things their parents may have done.  I am sure I made a million mistakes parenting my kids, but I did something right because they are not only amazing people and professionals, they are amazing parents to my grandbabies.

I am now the grown and aging daughter of a woman who didn't have the perfect marriage for many years, but the last 10 years of my father's life she knew real love from a man who adored her.  He was jealous of every man who even spoke to her and he believed every man wanted his wife.  She didn't enjoy his jealousy, but she did enjoy that he loved her that much.  She knew that he found her so desirable that surely, every other living man must also want her and she did enjoy that.  She is now and always has been, a mother with a keen eye on what's going on in the world and one hand on her children.  She still follows the news and worries about things that seem catastrophic or insane, but her first interest is her 3 children and their families.  She is still one of my biggest blessings.

Having her near me at this time is her life and mine is a remarkable gift.  She has enhanced my life every day since moving here 2 years ago.  I no longer worry about how she is doing because I know how she is doing.  I talk with her almost everyday and I see her whenever I want to see her.  I love having time with her to just hang out.  I just like being with her.  She is fun and funny.  She is beautiful and tries to keep herself active so she won't be any trouble for me.  She asks NOTHING of me, but needs me to intuit her needs.  I try and I worry that I will miss something, but she reassures me that she needs nothing that I haven't already done.

I am now hoping that one day, each of my kids and their kids will come to see me and help me with everyday things when I need help.  I hope that one day they will just like being with me and stop to visit for just that reason.  I hope I never am too needy or too much bother for them.  I hope that I can always take care of myself and always be independent of my independent family.  It's okay if they (the kids) need me every now and then!  I kinda like being needed, a little bit.

The circle of life is a miraculous thing...child, parent, grandparent and child again. The second childhood is where we find ourselves hoping that the children we raised are there for our needs and more importantly to receive all that love we are carrying around.