Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 31 -Close Enough to Listen

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A long time ago, I heard a Ted Talk by Dave Isay on an initiative called StoryCorps. I’ll let you listen to the Ted Talk for the inspiration for this initiative, but basically it’s a tool to capture people’s stories through interviews. They set up booths in several cities where people had the opportunity to interview loved ones about the details of their lives.  The interviews have been uploaded to a database where they can be listened to around the world.

Ted Talk with Dave Isay

Eventually, StoryCorps created an app for smartphones so that everyone could interview their friends and loved ones to archive for future generations. It’s been over a year since I heard about this, but I was immediately enthused about the idea. I know from blogging that is very powerful to tell my stories, and I know that other people have stories that never really get heard. I think that’s terribly sad.

I visited my parents today in Pierre Part about an hour from Baton Rouge. I had heard that StoryCorps had an initiative this year to motivate people to interview an elder so that their story could be told and shared with the world. It is called the “Great Thanksgiving Listen”. I had forgotten about it until I got an email reminder today while I was sitting on my parents’ couch.

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“Hey, would either of you like to be interviewed for StoryCorps?” I asked.

Daddy immediately said no. To my surprise Momma agreed even though she said she was the most boring person. I was so excited that she agreed I had to hurry up and figure out how to use this thing before she decided she was way too boring to do this. We finally got started, and it was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had in awhile. I learned several things about my Mother that I didn’t know, and I learned that she and I are alike in ways that I did not realize. She, like me, began exploring travel in the outdoors late in life. And she found it very empowering.

You can listen to my interview with Momma below.


Interview with Momma Thanksgiving 2015

But what I’d really like to ask you to do is to experience this for yourself. It was an incredibly intimate experience having this conversation with Momma. Having the recorder there for a purpose took some of the fear out of doing it. We started out with a series of questions chosen from the website, and after the second one, I was drawn in and forgot about the list of questions. I just wanted to know more. I’m not sure how it felt for her, but I felt very touched. I think you will find it to be worth the 40 or so minutes that it takes.

Don’t know where to start? Have no idea what to ask? Here’s a link to some of the questions you can ask. 

What I love about Baton Rouge today is being close enough to my parents that I can drive over the day after Thanksgiving and have a conversation that I wouldn’t have been able to have in the fuss of a big holiday or in the rush of a short vacation.

Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 30 – Proximity to Michael’s House



It’s always exciting to me when I first meet people because you never know exactly what your journey with them is going to look like. Will I know them forever? Will I meet them and shortly part ways? At this stage of my life, one of the most fascinating things is to look back and see which relationships had staying power. I have a few long-term friendships. I tend to keep in touch. But one of the more interesting ones with staying power is my relationship with Michael.

We met in Michigan as part of a reorganization with Whirlpool. There was a new leadership team hired that was working on transforming the call center. I don’t think Michael was part of that team, but he was hired shortly afterward as our Human Resources Director. He was single. I was single. We were both Southern. The Yanks thought we should be together, and I asked him to go on a canoe trip. I tell the entire story in a blog I wrote long ago, but, to make a long story short, Michael was gay and had was not interested in what I had to offer. Needless to say, we did not start dating, but we did become friends.


We both moved away from Michigan, and we lost touch. But, when I moved to Memphis, guess who lived there? Our friendship was rekindled, and, through a series of events, we became close. Michael just recently moved to New Orleans with his husband, Darren, and, when my trip to Memphis fell through, I called him to see if I could join his gathering for lunch. The answer was yes, and I made the hour drive to Gretna for Thanksgiving Dinner today.

What I love about Baton Rouge today has very little to do with Baton Rouge and more to do with it’s proximity to Michael’s house. Michael has a way of making a home come to life. He’s an amazing cook and decorator, but he has a special knack for being a host. I always feel welcome, I always leave happier than when I arrived, and I always … always leave full. Today was no exception.

Christmas is Michael’s favorite reason to celebrate, and I could tell he had already started when I walked in the door.

I was immediately greeted by Sandy, an old friend from Whirlpool who was part of that leadership team hired in Michigan. We had a great time catching up and reminiscing about old times. She and her hubby left the snow in Michigan and were enjoying soaking up the sun on the 76 degree day in N’awlins.


It was all hands on deck getting ready for the party that was primarily attended by Darren’s family, Michael’s parents from Pontotoc MS and Sandy, Jim and myself as the Whirlpool contingent. Michael as always did most of the cooking in his three new ovens.


I had plenty to eat….

Rebecca and Amanda had plenty of homemade Irish Cream to drink….


The table was lovely….

The homemade bread and desserts were over the top. In fact, today’s offering goes down as the best apple pie ever that has passed these lips…

And, of course, the room was lovely…

Even the kitchen help was adorable…


To think …. a few months ago, I had to drive 5 hours to Houston in order to spend some time at Michael’s house. Now, it’s a day trip. That’s truly something to love about Baton Rouge.

Thank you, Michael…. another beautiful offering from your hands.

To read about some of Michael’s other parties, check these out:

The Dancing House in Houston

A Little Lasagne Party in NOLA

Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 29 – Independent Supermarkets


When I lived in Memphis there was one choice in supermarkets – Kroger. To be fair, there were many different sizes and flavors of Kroger, but the mega-chain came in and bought all of the other grocery stores after I’d been there about 5 years. Wild Oats was there and eventually became Whole Foods, but it was never as nice as most of the Whole Foods I’ve come to know and love. I hear it’s better now, but I’m not there, so I have no idea.

In Indiana, I could never find a grocery that I loved. I grew up here in Baton Rouge, and food is where it’s at in this town. My friend Jan calls Baton Rouge “the land of good food”. So, I really suffered in the rural Midwest with the limited selection of great groceries. At times I got so desperate that I drove an hour and a half to Chicago to shop at Trader Joe’s.

My first grocery choice when I moved here was Calandro’s Supermarkets. It’s a local independent grocery that is a cross between a gourmet specialty store and a neighborhood grocery. I still shop there with about the same frequency as I shop at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is cheaper on my greek yogurt, but Calandro’s has such great chicken salad and local produce that it’s hard to pass up.

My friend Keri in Memphis is originally from New Orleans. When I told her that I was heading to Memphis over Thanksgiving (that’s been sand-bagged now), she asked if I could find a local grocery that sells oyster dressing. Her Dad had a hankering for it, and, apparently, some of the old New Orleans’ local grocers used to sell cartons of it at Thanksgiving. I couldn’t find it at Calandro’s, and she recommended I call LeBlanc’s. I had never heard of LeBlanc’s, so I called to check on the dressing. They didn’t have it, but the place sounded interesting enough for a visit, so I thought I’d check it out.

I got on a new local virtual garage sale app today called VarageSale. It’s sort of a local eBay except you don’t bid on items. Much to my surprise one of the first items I saw was a pair of Keen’s sandals which would be perfect for camp shoes when I’m backpacking. I needed some comfortable sandals which with room for me to wear socks. I contacted the seller Kelli, and we agreed to meet at LeBlanc’s. I had time to go in and look around, and I was so excited about this new store.


My VarageSale steal… brand-new for $40. I saw them at The Backpacker today for $90.

My Uncle Bump said it is new, and it was a Hi-Nabor before it’s remodel. It’s clean and modern and has a huge deli-bakery. My favorite cake of all time is a lemon and chocolate Dobasch cake, and they make them there! They have muffulettas, cartons of gumbo, red beans and rice and packages of spaghetti and meatballs. The hot bar tonight featured fresh veggies and Chinese food. Of course, they had a complete liquor store, and they had a bulk food section. It was sort of a cross between Whole Foods and an old-time independent grocer. They even carried healthy items such as Kombucha and Quinoa drinks. My favorite cold brew coffee was $2.00 cheaper than at Whole Foods, and they had my Greek yogurt on sale for $5.39 for a 32 oz. container. I was impressed.

I bought a box of my favorite Stash Chai tea and made a note to myself to go back when I have more time. It’s just going to be hard to decide where to grocery shop here. I have so many options. Trader Joe’s is my Seattle favorite and has the best selection of nuts and dried fruits. Calandro’s has my favorite chicken salad. Whole Foods has the largest selection of organic dairy and health food items. The farmer’s market is hands-down the best place for produce. And, now I’ve got this new place. I wonder what great things it will offer. At any rate, I wish I ate more than I do because I’ll never need enough food to shop at all of these places regularly.

So what I love today about Baton Rouge is the variety of independent grocers here. I’m glad to see that they can still make a profit and survive among the big chains. It shows that people here support local businesses especially when it comes to their food.

A Primer on Fear


I’ve had a primer on fear the past two weeks. When I was backpacking in Chicot State Park, I didn’t know about the events in Paris. I found out on Sunday morning when I woke up and checked Facebook. A friend’s profile picture had turned red, white and blue, and he posted something about “praying for paris.” What now? The mass shootings of America flashed through my subconscious before I realized it was a terrorist attack. It seems the world is steeped in fear and guns…. a lethal combination.

I was in the woods, and I was safe. Ironically, being in the wilderness with wild animals and no protection from the elements other than a nylon fabric feels safer than being on the streets of Paris or in a movie theater in Louisiana. I decided to table fear for the time being, and I let myself wait ’til Sunday night to read about it and get steeped in fear.

I’m so used to the knee-jerk reaction to fear that plays out on Facebook. When it’s a mass shooting, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame it on race, guns, the sad state of our psychological care or even the media. Fear is so uncomfortable that it makes hate feel like a warm, cozy blanket. I can’t do anything about my fear. I feel vulnerable, unsafe and hopeless. With hate, I feel some power. I can do something about that! I can make you smaller by calling you names, finding a solution to change you or fix the problem. Unfortunately, nothing in this world is that simple, and, ironically, if we ever did fix any of those problems, we’d still be left with the crippling fear that manifests from our lack of control. If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. If it’s not something else, it’s the unknown.

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I’m really trying to stay in the present. My anxiety has been at bay for months now. But it’s been creeping up lately. I’ve been eating more sugar to numb out my fear. Last Thursday for the first time in months, I woke up at 2:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I ate a big piece of pie the night before, and I know that the blood sugar cycle is what disturbed my slumber. I kicked myself as I sat staring at the ceiling thinking about the world of terror we are living in and what the future might bring. Whether it’s brought on by sugar or world events, it’s still fear. I hate fear. Is that an oxymoron? They say the opposite of love is not hate but fear. Are they sort of one and the same?

I was praying about my fear. The Universe showed up with some answers. Firstly, I somehow got the strength and the desire to push back and set boundaries with some folks who were trying to stir up my fear. I drew the deer card in my Medicine Cards on Tuesday. Deer is about using gentleness in the face of fear. An angry demon was trying to scare the native people away from the Great Spirit by taking on a mean and scary stance and standing between them and God. Most were succumbing to their fear and not approaching the Great Spirit but deer did not give in to her fear at all. She stayed very gentle and disarmed the angry demon. Hmmmm …. that’s a great message. Maybe it’s not always easy for me to get there, but it’s certainly food for thought.

Lexlee’s Meditation


My friend and energy guru Lexlee posted a new meditation on YouTube. It’s about choosing the energy you want to be in for each day. I did the meditation, and it was a great tool to let go of the past and forget about trying to predict the future. Right now, I’m safe. God really has tomorrow, and I can’t do anything about it now anyway. I’m having a routine day at work, and I’m warm and comfortable. When I let go of worrying about the world this morning, I got up, cozied up with my kitties under the quilt my Momma made, turned on the space heater for extra warmth and practiced Lexlee’s meditation. I was so relaxed afterwards that I turned up my yoga music and took a music bath. It was nice. I was able to be in the moment, and I tapped into my gentleness for myself. Deer would be proud.

Today, I took a minute on Twitter to see what was trending. Among the bad news was a story about how the people of Belgium helped the police with their crackdown by filling up social media with posts about cats. Click here for the story . It warmed my heart. Instead of giving into fear, the people of Belgium banded together and gave the finger to the terrorists in the form of furry feline humor. It made me laugh and tear up and feel all warm inside. My love for humanity trumped my fear for an instant. And life goes on…..

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Project Love Baton Rouge – Days 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28


At Mt. Rainier when Susan visited me in Seattle

Okay, I’ve been a little swamped. But, I have not abandoned my “Love Baton Rouge” Project. I just need to catch up a little. Today I love Baton Rouge because I get to meet my sister for lunch. For 30-something years, we hardly saw each other. She had minimal vacation, and I lived away. She made the effort several times to come see me in Seattle, Michigan and Memphis. But we just never had enough time. Thankfully, she became a teacher and started having more time for travel. But, now, we can just have lunch. She – or I – travel about an hour and a half, and we are face-to-face. It’s not something I take for granted.

Day 24 – Friday… I know that the last 2 weeks I’ve been loving my job. I’m teaching a faculty professional development class, and I’ve been having individual coaching sessions with my student-teachers. For an ENFP like me this is an awesome experience. I am tired by the end of the day, and by Friday I was exhausted. But, the days passed really quickly as I moved from appointment to appointment via webcam. It was great hearing their ideas on their new courses and many had compliments on my course. So Day 24 I loved the fact that I’m getting to do some really fun things in my job.


Day 25 – Saturday. My hair was insane. For two weeks, I’ve been struggling with it. I only get it cut every 3 months, and Saturday was my appointment. It now looks amazing again. On Day 25, what I love about Baton Rouge is the fact that we have a DevaCurl certified hairdresser. And don’t think for a minute that’s not special. A lot of small cities don’t have one. If I can’t get an appointment with Eric, I have to drive to New Orleans, Houston or Mobile. In fact this summer when I had to reschedule for my vacation, I could only find an appointment in Asheville! She was awesome though, so I’m glad it worked out that way. And, believe me, if I need a cut and can’t get an appointment, I will make the drive. It’s the only thing that’s ever worked for my hair except cutting it all off. I am blessed that Eric is 8 minutes from my house.


My first DevaCurl cut back in March

Day 26 – Sunday. Sunday was an amazing day hiking and camping, but I’ve already “loved” the backpacking class and the hiking club. Poor Ashok ate sand and had to go the emergency clinic at Sherwood South Animal Hospital. They are amazing. They are open 24 hours every day, and I don’t have to fret anymore about emergencies after hours. They are there… they are phenomenal … and they cost about the same as the regular veterinarian. I waited 3 hours on Sunday to see a vet, but it was because that place was jammed with dogs that had been attacked by other dogs, suffered serious accidents and even one that died. When those things happen, I can tell you it’s great to know there’s a place to go where they can help you and your furry friend.


At Mt. Rainier when Susan visited me in Seattle

Day 27 – Monday. Yesterday I was exhausted. I slept well on Sunday night, but it was a busy, busy weekend. This week is no less busy. I had plenty of things I needed to do last night – work out, get packed for Memphis, clean my house – but I decided to curl up on the sofa, drink some hot chocolate and chill. So, yesterday what I loved about Baton Rouge was having such a busy life that I have to MAKE TIME for downtime. I actually thought about how much downtime I’ve had in the past and how different that is from right now. I’m sure it will cycle back, but right now I’m loving that my life is so full of amazing people and things to do. December is almost booked!

Some of my recent gatherings!



Backpacking – Novice-Style


I can’t leave it sitting in the living room!

I really want to get comfortable backpacking. So, when the weather didn’t look too bad this weekend, I let Carryn know that I was thinking of backpacking in Mississippi and then hiking on the Tuxachanie Trail near Saucier MS.

I wanted to go out and visit my sister-in-law and brother before Thanksgiving, so I was headed to Mississippi anyway. I’ve hiked the Tuxachanie Trail before, but it was in August. It was so hot I thought I’d die – literally. I wanted to see it when I was more comfortable. I was going to camp at a campground until my sister-in-law mentioned the island across Rotten Bayou from their house. Did that sound awesome? It would be real primitive camping but close enough to my brother’s house that we could retreat if necessary. It sounded perfect!


On an island adventure….

I got to my brother’s house earlier than Carryn because I wanted to visit. My niece and one of her friends and I canoed over to the island and set up my tent. It had rained earlier, but the weather forecast looked clear but cold for the night. No need to worry. We were outfitted with cold weather gear rated to 30 degrees. We are backpackers! We are prepared with awesome gear. We met Carryn back at the house and loaded up her gear in the canoe just after dark. Mariya wanted to camp with us, so the three of us pushed back and started canoeing to the island only about 50 yards down the bayou.


“We only have one paddle,” Mariya declared just after we left.

“What happened to the other one,” I asked.

She didn’t know, and it was getting dark and starting to sprinkle. I thought surely I could paddle us one with one paddle since it was such a short trip. About midway, I couldn’t control the boat. No matter how hard I paddled or where, the boat lurched aimlessly in all directions. Inside, I was irritated with myself for not going back, but now it would be just as far to go back as go forward. The boat made a 180, and I realized with the little girl in the front instead of 6 foot Carryn, I could control the boat. Whew… problem averted. Note to self: On canoe trips, put the heavier weight in the back of the canoe.


Mariya, the fire-starting queen

It was really starting to rain, and we needed to build a fire. Ashok took off on an island adventure. I knew she wasn’t going anywhere since it was an island, and I got distracted with the fire-building, camp throwing and dinner preparations. Mariya wanted to start the fire, and she began fire-staring with some kindling, paper and waterproof matches. Carryn was working to put up her tent in the rain in the dark. I had to go dig through all my gear to find my headlamp.

I realized in all of the scuffle that I had forgotten to change into my backpacking clothes which meant I had on blue jeans and a cotton sweatshirt. The more it rained, the wetter I got. Our teacher Katherine’s words rang in my ears,”cotton kills.” I laughed as I told Carryn that Katherine would not be happy with me in my jeans. Meanwhile, the little firestarter yelled at me that we would have to cook with my stove. The fire would not take off. I went over to encourage her and give her more matches. It wasn’t long until the fire was blazing in the rain, and I was quite proud of my little niece.

Carryn brought a Subway sandwich, but I made a dehydrated meal the night before. So, I started to light my JetBoil which has worked like a champ every time. This time, however, the starter would not kick on. I tried it about 5 times. I turned it to its side and tried it again. This time the starter kicked on, and the flames shot out of the side in a foot tall flame. I screamed and dropped the cookstove which fell in the sand and continued to leap with flames. I managed to turn it back over straight up, and the problem resolved with the exception of my heart beating wildly. Thank goodness I was on sand, or I would’ve started a forest fire. Again, I thought Katherine would be very disappointed in me. But she doesn’t need to know.

We finally got dinner cooked and everyone was eating. Mariya had brought some canned soup, and she didn’t like it. It was raining. It was going to turn cold. This probably wasn’t as fun as she thought it would be. So, right after dinner she asked if I would take her back. I got back in the canoe with one paddle and paddled her home. I was able to get the second paddle and some more firewood for the trip back, so it was worth the trip.

It stopped raining for awhile, and Carryn and I sat by the fire for a few. I offered to fix some hot chocolate but now my stove wouldn’t work. I didn’t know if I was out of fuel or the stove was broken, but this meant no hot chocolate, no morning coffee or breakfast. Darn. What’s the point of camping with no breakfast and coffee?

We decided we’d better hang the food to keep the predators out of our tents the way Katherine taught us. So, we started looking for a tree that was suitable. Every tree was either a short brushy bush or an extremely tall pine tree with no limbs low enough to hang food bags. Neither one of us wanted to walk deep into the woods to find a tree, so we did what all good backpackers do – we texted Katherine.

Of course we were posting some of our drama on Facebook, so Katherine was already aware that I had on wet jeans and the stove wouldn’t work.

Me: We can’t find a tree to hang the food.

Katherine: Seriously, I can drive there and bring you what you and Ashok need. I want you to enjoy the rest of your weekend. Are there any trees nearby?

I thanked her for that sweet offer but assured her we were coping. I told her about the situation with the trees. And asked what we should do.

Silence. WTF?

I went on to tell her that I had changed out of my jeans, and it was starting to rain again. I asked again what we should do with the food.


Alright… we were on our own. It was starting to rain harder, so Carryn decided to hang it on a small pine. At least it would deter mice, but if a raccoon wanted it, it would have a feast. And thank heavens there were no bears. We’d be screwed.


She did an amazing job of tying those sacks of food to the tree at eye level. It’s supposed to be 20 feet up and several feet away from the tree trunk, but it was 6 feet high and 1/2 inch from the tree trunk. We did the best we could. At least it was away from the tents, so the animals wouldn’t come near us if they were feasting. Worst case we’d lose the food we couldn’t cook anyway.

We went to bed and bundled up for the night. I got a text from Katherine saying her phone had died. She reprimanded me for wearing cotton but was relieved that we were close to my brother’s house. She reminded me I could cook with a fire and didn’t need the stove. She was relieved that we were tucked in for the night.

It was about 60 degrees but the temps were supposed to drop to the low 40s by morning. The winds started almost as soon as we tucked ourselves in. We were situated in the bend of the bayou, and the wind was howling. My tent was shaking, and I worried about what would happen if the wind caught it and ripped it up from its stakes. Carryn’s had already taken a roll down the beach, but she was in it now. I lay awake listening to the wind and trying to relax enough to fall asleep. Ashok started belching and burping, and I was worried she was going to throw up. The thought of being thrown up on in a tent was not attractive. It made it hard to close my eyes.

About midnight, Carryn yelled that her tent had blown away with her in it. She got it under control, and the rest of the night was quiet except for the wind and the burping, gagging dog. I didn’t sleep much, but I didn’t blow away either. The temps dropped continuously as the wind howled, and my sleeping bag kept me toasty warm. It wasn’t too bad.


When we awoke in the morning, we packed up quickly because we were hungry and we were meeting a friend at the trailhead at 9.


“Sharon, there’s no water. It looks like it’s just land,” Carryn said.


Sure enough our bayou had retreated about 25 yards. We slopped through the mud with our 30 lb. backpacks first and then went back to get the canoe. There were a few puddles so Carryn – the brains of the operation – suggested we pull the canoe with the rope through the puddles to make it easier. I never knew a canoe could be so heavy. I lifted the back end enough so that it could float across the 3 inch deep puddles. It was exhausting and not what I wanted to do before having food or coffee. My shoulders and back hurt from carrying the canoe. My body hurt from the lack of sleep. It was going to be a long day.


We had a quick breakfast at my brother’s place, packed up and headed off for our hike. We met our friend Kirk at the trailhead and started to hike. Very quickly, Ashok threw up everything she ate the day before. This really worried me, but she seemed to feel a lot better after that. Maybe she had something in her stomach that made her sick. We ended up hiking with her, and she drank plenty of water. But, she kept throwing up a little water everytime she drank. I thought I’d better take her to the emergency vet when I got home.

Tuxachanie Recreation Trail … Carryn, Kirk, Ashok and Me

We had a beautiful hike, and right before we got back to the car, Ashok pooped. It was full of sand. Hmmmm …  Sure enough, when dogs play out on sandy beaches, they can ingest so much sand that they can get “sand impaction” in their guts. It can kill them if it gets too bad. I stopped at the Sherwood South Animal Hospital, and, sure enough, Ashok had sand in her stomach and her large intestines. The vet was shocked at how much sand she had eaten.

I ended up having to leave her at the vet overnight. They wanted to move the sand through her system with frequent small feedings, IV fluids and laxatives. She is almost out of the water at this point, but I still don’t have her home. I hate that her camping trip got ruined by that, but I know better now not to just let her run around. I take full responsibility for this one. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m probably lucky it was just sand.

All that white is sand…. (the little white dots are BBs from when she was a stray)


I have to say we learned a lot on this trip. Our plan was to try it on our own and improve. I learned to:

  • Keep my stove in an upright position.
  • Bring an extra canister of fuel or at least a secondary cooking system.
  • Look for the “food-hanging” location when it is daylight.
  • Leave the jeans and sweatshirt at home.
  • Check the tide table if I’m canoeing in a tide-driven bayou.
  • Watch my dog and keep her close by.
  • Build a fire even in the rain.
  • Get my headlamp out BEFORE it gets dark.

My sister-in-law Laura said it best right before we left for the island. She remembered a camping trip she and a girlfriend had taken a long time ago. “It was like, WE can do this,” she said. “It felt empowering.” I have to say that we managed to have a decent trip even with a lot of obstacles, and we survived. At one point in the middle of the night I wondered if we should go to my brother’s house. But, I decided that we were really safe and warm in our tents. There was no emergency. “We can do this,” I thought. “We are in no danger.”

I half-expected Carryn to take a rain check on the next backpacking excursion, but we are already planning the next one. The next one will feature mountain streams and waterfalls … sand not included.



Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 23 – Tredici Bakery

Yesterday I had to pick up a little birthday present for a friend. I was trying to find something really but not over-the-top. I wanted something that was a special treat. I’m not much into presents… I’m more into experiences.


I remembered the new bakery that opened 50 yards from my house on Capital Heights. On her opening day, I was her third customer and purchased some wonderful macaroons. The owner is a trained pastry chef- this is no coffee shop- it’s a real bonifide bakery. I stopped and bought a box of treats that Lisa said was fabulous. She mentioned the macaroons too.

Our office had a pot luck lunch today, so I ordered a chocolate pie. It was pricey, but I was told it was “to die for”. So I picked it up this morning. It was the best chocolate  pie I’ve ever had. Luckily, there was a piece left over, and I’ll get to have another piece tomorrow.

So what I love today about Baton Rouge is the Tredici Bakery in my neighborhood. I have a feeling lots of people in my social circle will be getting yummy “experiences” whipped up in that little specialty kitchen.


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Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 22 – History


I met some old childhood girlfriends for lunch today. We haven’t seen each other a lot since I’ve been here except for the birthday girl, Lisa, who I see every month for my facials. But, it really doesn’t matter. We know each other in a way that I don’t know many women on this earth.

They knew me as an inquisitive and shy child. They knew me as an overweight frizzy-haired pubescent junior high-schooler. They knew me as  a confused and rebellious teenager. Jean Ann lived down the street from me, and we walked to school together, hiked in the woods behind the subdivision on days off and helped each other get ready for beauty pageants. I even have a picture somewhere of me and my sister and Jean Ann and her sister swimming in the Atchafalaya Basin in life jackets.

I didn’t hang out with Donna and Lisa as much, but in our small community, everybody knew everybody. I know all of their brothers and sisters and their parents. I remember what cars they drove and who they dated. And they remember me. We even remember each other’s pets.

When I met people living in other parts of the country, I had to tell them my history if I even felt the need to share it. Usually I didn’t. What’s the point? It’s the past, and I’m a different person now, right? I am different in a lot of ways, but when I’m with these girlfriends I’m the same young girl that hated her frizzy hair, was jealous of Jean Ann’s thinness, Donna’s height and Lisa’s innate sweetness. I’ve seen how it all turns out now, so I don’t feel the envy and worry that I don’t measure up. I know I measure up but in my own way with my own measuring stick.

What I love about Baton Rouge today is that I have history here. I actually have lots of history here. There’s a back story from my early childhood, another several chapters while I was in school, and another chapter while I was in college. There are relationships in all of that history. I freaked out a little when they all started finding me on Facebook. I thought I had left that behind like a snake shedding its skin. But, I didn’t, and now I’m here in the middle of it. It has disadvantages, but, for the most part, I love that I have history here.

Tomorrow I go back to my college football stadium for a football game. There is history there, too. It will knock on the windows of my mind at the weirdest times. A memory will pop up that I had buried long ago. And I’ll giggle a little remembering that girl who had no idea how adventurous her life would be. Knowing how it all turns out makes it a little more bearable than it was back then when I was afraid of how to make a life. That’s what I love about having history here.  I can see how far I’ve come.

Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 21 – Moderate Weather



Thanksgiving Turkey Run in Indiana

I have a love/hate relationship with the weather here. Sometimes it’s a hate/hate relationship. At any rate, I never truly love it. I take that back. This weekend was pretty nice. Oddly enough, the weekend that our backpacking class went backpacking was the best weekend we’ve had in over a month. It was perfect. The hot weather returned almost as soon as we left the park.

This morning at 5 AM it was 75 degrees. I turned on the AC last night. “Dammit,” I told my animals. “I can’t believe I have to turn on the air in November. I’ll just pretend this is winter weather and turn it way down. I’ll be cold one way or the other.”

I did my little walk/run/boot camp workout drills this morning in the muggy 75-degree heat. I came back sweaty and with a head full of frizzy, sloppy curly hair. I cursed a little again. But the weather didn’t change. I was colder in my office than I was outside. I finally brought a heavy sweater into my office since I sit right under the AC. I’ve been wearing my winter outfits to weather the cold temperatures INSIDE. Whatever….


My November outfit last week.. And I was hot in that too!


The rains started tonight, and there is a promise of cooler weather. I decided to see if I could manifest winter, so I got out my winter clothes. I’m ready. When I was switching my wardrobe, I decided that there might be one thing I love about Baton Rouge related to this whole non-existent winter thing. My winter wardrobe doesn’t look that much different than my summer wardrobe. The amount of clothes that I switch at the change of seasons is not nearly as massive as it used to be.

So what I love today about Baton Rouge is my simplified moderate wardrobe for winter. It costs me less money to stock up on clothes for the winter because I don’t need as much. I also don’t wear them as much, so they look really good for years. I wear my summer clothes to death, but they are usually a lot cheaper anyway. Whereas my winter wardrobe included hats, scarves, several coats and heavy sweaters in the past, I now have a few light jackets, some long-sleeved mid-weight sweaters and tights.

Today, I even wore a t-shirt with a short skirt paired with some boots. With no coat to cover up my winter clothes, I get to show off my style! What’s not to love about that? And I don’t have to cover up my curls with a hat.

I’m not going to pretend that I love the moderate winters because  if you read me, you know I don’t. But, there are some perks, and I need to take notice. And if all goes as planned, I’ll get to wear a jacket for the outside temperatures tomorrow! Until then, the AC is jacked way up!!!

Project Love Baton Rouge: Day 20 – Cake Balls

Yummy, creamy, sweet and decadent… and right down the street! Tonight’s choices were Rocky Road, English Toffee and Ball Buster.